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^ OF pmcEfo^ 

OCT 101988 

^LOGICAL Sj g;$^ 

BX 9339 .S52 186''^'^' v. '3 
Sibbes, Richard, 1577-1635 
The complete works of 
Richard Sibbes, D.D 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2009 witii funding from 

Princeton Tlieological Seminary Library 



Iittp://www.archive.org/details/completeworkso03sibb 



NICHOL'S SERIES OF STANDARD DIVINES. 

PURITAN PERIOD. 



ixi\i ^^rnral "^xdwcit 



By JOHN C. MILLEE, D.D., 

LINCOtS COLLEGE ; HONORABT CANON OF WORCESTER; KECToa OF ST MAKTIS'S.DIKMINGHAM. 



THE 



WOEKS OF RICHARD SIBBES, D.D. 

VOL. III. 



COUNCIL OF PUBLICATION. 



W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

.JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University 
Edinburgh. 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Church 
Edinburgh. 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby- 
terian Church, Edinburgh, 

General ffiUttor. 
REV. THOMAS SMITH. M.A., Edinbuegh. 



THE COMPLETE WORKS 



RICHARD SIBBES, D.D. 



MASTEE OF CATHERINE HALL, CAMBRIDGE ; PREACHER OF GRAY S INN, 

LONDON. 



BY THE REV. ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART, 

(cor. MEMB. SOC. ANTIQ. op SCOTLAND) 



KINROSS. 





VOL. III. 
CONTAINING A COMMENTARY 

ON THE FIRST CHAPTER 

OF THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. 



EDINBURGH: JAMES NICHOL. 

LONDON: JAMES NISBET AND CO. DUBLIN: W. ROBERTSON. 



M.DCCC.LXII. 



EDINBLrKGH : 

PRIMTKD l;i' JOHK GUtIG AND SON. 

OLD I'HTSIC aAiiDE.;-^. 



EXPOSITION OF 2D CORINTHIANS CHAPTER I. 



in. 



EXPOSITION OF SECOND CORINTHIANS CHAPTER I. 

NOTE. 

The ' Exposition ' of 2i Corinthians chapter 1., was published in a handsome folio, 
under the editorial supervision of Dr Manton. The original title-page is given be- 
low.* Prefixed to the volume is a very fine portrait of Sibbes, after the same 
original evidently with that earlier engraved for ' Bowels Opened,' and other works, 
in quarto and smaller size, but in the style of Hollar. The admirers of Puritan litera- 
ture will find it no less interesting than rewarding, to compare the present ' Exposi- 
tion ' of Sibbes with that of a man of kindred intellect and character, viz., Anthony 
Burgesse, ' Pastor of Sutton-Coldfield, in Warwickshire.' His ' sermons' on the same 
portion of Holy Scripture bear the following title, ' An Expository Comment, Doc- 
trinal, Controversal '[sic], and Practical, upon the whole First Chapter of the Second 
Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians ' (London, folio, 1G61). Our copy has the rare 
autograph of the excellent Bishop Beveridge, cm the title-page, with a note of its 
price, 'pret 12. s.' G. 

• Original title : — 

A Learned 
COMMENTARY ^ 

OR 

EXPOSITION 

UPON 

The first Chapter of the Second Epistle of S. Paul 
to the CORINTHIANS. 

BEING 

The Substance of many Sermons formerly 

Preached at Grayes-Inne, London, 

By that Eeverend and Judicious Divine, 

RICHARD SIBBS, D.D. 

Sometimes Master of Catherine-Hall, in Cambridge, and Preacher 

to that Honourable Society. 

Published for the Publick Good and Benefit of the Church 

of CHRIST. 
By The. Manton, B. D. and Preacher of the Gospel at Stoake- 
Newington, near London. 

• ■ Vivit post funera virtus. 

Psalm 112. 6. 

The Righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. 

2 Pet. 1. 15. 

Moreover, I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease, to have these 

things always in remembrance. 

LONDON, 

Printed by F. L. for N. B. and are to be sold by Tho. Parkhurst, at his Shop 

at the sign of the three Crowns over against the Great Conduit, at 

the Lower end of Cheapside. 1655. 



/^PHIITC. 







TO THE EEADEE. 



Good Reader, — There is no end of books, and yet we seem to need more 
every day. There was such a darkness brought in by the fall, as will not 
thoroughly be dispelled till we come to heaven ; where the sun shineth with- 
out either cloud or night. For the present, all should contribute theii- help 
according to the rate and measure of their abilities. Some can only hold 
up a candle, others a torch ; but all are useful. The press is an excellent 
means to scatter knowledge, were it not so often abused. AU complain 
there is enough written, and think that now there should be a stop. In- 
deed, it were well if in this scribbling age there were some restraint. Use- 
less pamphlets are grown almost as great a mischief as the erroneous and 
profane. Yet 'tis not good to shut the door upon industry and diligence. 
There is yet room left to discover more, above all that hath been said, of 
the wisdom of God and the riches of his grace in the gospel ; yea, more of 
the stratagems of Satan and the deceitfulness of man's heart. Means need 
to be increased every day to weaken sin and strengthen trust, and quicken 
us to holiness. Fundamentals are the same in all ages, but the constant 
necessities if the church and private Christians, will continually enforce a 
further exphcation. As the arts and slights of besieging and battering in- 
crease, so doth skill in fortification. If we have no other benefit by the 
multitude of books that are written, we shall have this benefit : an oppor- 
tunity to observe the various workings of the same Spirit about the same 
truths, and indeed the speculation is neither idle nor unfruitful. 

There is a diversity of gifts as there is of tempers, and of tempers as 
there is of faces, that in all this variety, God may be the more glorified. 
The penmen of Scripture, that aU wrote by the same Spirit, and by an in- 
faUible conduct, do not write in the same style. In the Old Testament, 
there is a plain difference between the lofty, courtly style of Isaiah, and the 
priestly, grave style of Jeremiah. In Amos there are some marks of his 
caUing* in his prophecy. In the New Testament, you will find John 
sublime and seraphical, and Paul rational and argumentative. 'Tis easy 
to track both by their pecuHar phrases, native elegances, and distinct man- 
ner of expression. This variety and * manifold grace,' 1 Pet. iv. lO,-]- still 

* That is, a ' herdsman.' — G. 

t Ubi Vulgat. Dispensatio multiformis gratire. The more acciirate rendering from 
the Vulgate is, ' Unusquisque, sicut accepit gratiam, in alterutrum illam adminis- 
trantes, sicut boni dispensatores multiformis gratise Dei.' — Ed. Paris, 2 vols. 12mo. 
1851.— G. 



4 TO THE READER. 

continueth. The stones that lie in the building of God's house are not all 
of a sort. There are sapphires, carbuncles, and agates, all which have 
their peculiar use and lustre, Isa. liv. 12.* Some are doctrinal, and good 
for information, to clear up the truth and vindicate it from the sophisms of 
■wretched men ; others have a great force and skill in application. Some 
are more evangelical, their souls are melted out in sweetness ; others are 
sons of thunder, more rousing and stirring, gifted for a rougher strain, 
which also hath its use in the art of winning souls to God. 'Twas observed 
of the three ministers of Geneva, that none thundered more loudly than 
Farel, none piped more sweetly than Virct, none taught more learnedly 
and solidly than Calvin.f So variously doth the Lord dispense his gifts, 
to shew the liberty of the spirit, and for the greater beauty and order of 
the chui'ch ; for difierence with proportion causeth beauty ; and to prevent 
schism, eveiy member having his distinct excellency. So that what is 
wanting in one, may be supplied by another ; and all have something to 
commend them to the church, that they may be not despised ; as in several 
countries they have several commodities to maintain traffic between them 
all. We are apt to abuse the diversity of gifts to divisions and partiaUties, 
whereas God hath given them to maintain a communion.;^ In the church's 
vestment there is variety, but no rent. Varietas sit, scissura non sit. 

All this is the rather mentioned, because of that excellent and peculiar 
gift which the worthy and reverend author had in unfolding and applying 
the great myst«iries of the gospel in a sweet and melhfluous way ; and there- 
fore was by his hearers usually termed The Siveet Dropper, sweet and hea- 
venly distillations usually dropping from him with such a native elegance 
as is not easily to be imitated. I would not set the gifts of God on quar- 
relling, but of all ministries, that which is most evangelical seemeth most 
useful. ' The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,' Rev. xix. 10. 
' Tis spoken by the angel to dissuade the apostle fi-om worshipping him. 
You that preach Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen from the dead, 
have a like dignity with us angels that foretell things to come, your mes- 
sage is ' the spirit of prophecy ; ' as if he had said. This is the great and 
fundamental truth wherein runneth the life, and the heart-blood of religion. 

The same spirit is breathing in these discourses that are now put into 
thy hand, wherein thou wilt find much of the comforts of the gospel, of the 
seahng of the Spiiit, and the constant courses of God's love to his people, 
fruitfully and faithfully improved for thy edification. 

* Varia gemmarum genera propter varia dona quae sunt in Ecclesia. — Sanctpus]. 

t Gallica mirata est Calvinum Ecclesia nuper ; quo nemo docuit doctius. Est 
quoque te nuper mirata Farelle tonantem ; quo nemo tonuit fortius. Et miratur 
adliuc fundentem mella Viretum ; quo nemo fatur dulcius. Scilicet aut tribus his 
eervabere testibus olim, aut interibis Gallia. — Beza. (Poemata et Epigrammata, p. 
90, 32mo, Ludg. Bat., 1G14).— G. 

t Tunc bene multiformis Dei gratia dispensatur, quaudo acceptura donum etiam 
ejus qui hoc non habet, creditur, quando propter eum cui impcnditur sibi datum 
putatur. — Gregor. Moral., lib. xxviii., c. 6. 



TO THE READER, 5 

Let it not stumble thee that the work is posthume* and cometh out so 
long after the author's death. It were to be wished that those who excel 
in public gifts would, during Ufe, publish their own labours, to prevent 
spurious obtrusions upon the world, and to give them their last hand and 
pohshment, as the apostle Peter was careful to ' write before his decease,' 
2 Pet. i. 12-14. But usually the church's treasure is most increased by 
legacies. As Elijah let faU his mantle when he was taken up into heaven, 
so God's eminent servants, when their persons could no longer remain 
in the world, have left behind them some worthy pieces as a monument of 
their graces and zeal for the pubhc welfare. Whether it be out of a mo- 
dest sense of their own endeavours, as being loath upon choice, or of their 
own accord to venture abroad into the world, or whether it be that bein" 
occupied and taken up with other labours, or whether it be in a conformity 
to Christ, who would not leave his Spirit till his departure, or whether it 
be out of an hope that their works would find a more kindly reception after 
their death, the living being more hable to emy and reproach (but when 
the author is in heaven the work is more esteemed upon earth), whether 
for this or that cause, usually it is, that not only the life, but the death of 
God's servants hath been profitable to his church, by that means many use- 
ful treatises being freed from the privacy and obscureness to which, by 
modesty of the author, they were formerly confined. 

Which, as it hath commonly fallen out, so especially in the works of this 
reverend author, all which (some few only excepted!) saw the hght after the 
author's death, which also hath been the lot of this useful comment ; only 
it hath this advantage above the rest, that it was perused by the author 
during hfe, and corrected by his own hand, and hath the plain signature 
and marks of his own spirit, which will easily appear to those that have 
been any way conversant with his former works. This being signified (for 
farther commendation it needeth none), I ' commend thee to God, and to 
the word of his grace,' which is able to build thee up, and to give thee an 
inheritance among the sanctified, remaining 

Thy servant in the Lord's work, 

Thomas Manton.J 

• That is, ' posthumous.' — G. 

t ' Some few only excepted,* viz., those which form vol. I. of tliis collective edition 
of his works. — G. 

I It were supererogatory to annotate a name so illustrious in the roll of Puritans 
as is that of Thomas Manton. His memoir will appear as an introduction to hia 
works in the present series, by one admirably qualified for doing it justice. But it 
may be here noticed that he was born at Lawrence-Lydiard fnow Lydeard, St Law- 
rencej, Somersetshire, in 1620, and died on October 18. 1677. Consult ' Life,' by 
Harris, prefixed to Sermons on 119th Psalm, and ' Nonconformists' Memorial,' i., 
pp. 175-179, 426-431. He was one of the ' ejected' of 1662.— G. 



A COMMENTARY 



UPON 



THE FIEST CHAPTER OE THE SECOND EPTSTLE OF 
ST PAUL TO THE COEINTHIANS. 



Paul, an aposUe of Jesr. Ckrist ,y t^e^Ul of G^ -^J^SX^'S 
unto the church of God which rsat ^«'f ^'^ ^f^ f /^X^^nd /rom t;^. 
all Achaia : Grace be to you, and peace, from God oiu t atlier, a j 
Lord Jesus Christ.— 2 CoK. I. 1, 2. 

Thk preface to this epistle is the -^ -J.^^^^^^^^^ 

apostle had written a sharp epistle to the ^^^"^^4^7^^;^^ |^. repistle, took 

their tolerating of the incestuous V^^^^on^ J^^^'^^^^^^^^ 

effect, though not so much as he desn-ed, y^^^^^P^^^^f/Xwise reformed 

that they excommunicated the mcestuous peison, and likew se 

divers al'uses. Yet notvvithstanding, it hemg a proud,^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

where there was confluence of many naUon^^,^^^^^^^^^^^ 

^nXToglSSttH^^^^^^^^ 

sevU duties as we «^f .^^/^^^^ /^S'thll the ministerial labour is 
The general scope f,^^^''^^^^^ 'X fruit of the first Epistle to the 
' not in vain in the Lord, 1 Coi. xv. o». ^^".tip tnnlv effect Therefore 
Cormthians is seen in this second ; t^^^^^/J^^pi^^^^^^^^^^^ 
we should not be discouraged, neither ^^^^^^f^s a ev^ man should 

vindicate our credit, when the tnitli may ""^ . ^ to dear 

apostle stands here upon his reputation, ^^^^^'^'l^ Sl'C^.. life, for 
himself from all imputations But ^^P^^f^y^^^/^^ '^'^^.,},^ ^ould not 
that is the best apology. But because ^^^^J^J^f^^^^^, ^'^'Li this epistle, 
speak loud enough, therefore he makes an excellent apology m 



8 COMMENTARY ON 

' Paid, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy our 
brother.'' This chapter is apolorjetical, especially after the preface. He 
stands in defence of himself against the imputations : first, that he was a 
man neglected of God — he was so persecuted, and oppressed with so many 
afflictions. And the second is the imputation of inconstancy — that he came 
not to them when he had made a promise to come. This chapter is espe- 
cially in defence of these two. 

In an excellent heavenly ^vasdom, he turns ofi" the imputation of afflic- 
tions, and inverts the imputation the clean contrary way. And he begins 
with thanksgiving, ' Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort, who hath comforted us in all 
our tribulations : ' as if God had done him a great favour in them, as we 
shall see when we come to those words. 

For the preface, it is common with all his epistles, therefore we make it 
not a principal part of the chapter. Yet because these prefaces have the seeds 
of the gospel in them, the seeds of heavenly comfort and doctrine, I will 
speak something of it. Here is an inscription, and a salutation. 

In the inscription, there are the parties from whom this epistle was writ- 
ten, ' Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the wiU of God, and Timothy our 
brother.' And the persons to whom : * To the church of God at Corinth, 
and all the saints in Achaia.' 

The salutation : ' Grace and Peace ;' in the form of a blessing, * Grace 
and peace.' 

From whom : ' From God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.' 

* Paul an apostle,' do. In this inscription he sets down his office, * an 
apostle,' and ' an apostle of Jesus Christ.' How apostles difier from other 
ministers, it is an ordinary point. St Paul was called to be an apostle by 
Christ himself, 1 Cor ix. 1. ' Am I not an apostle ? have I not seen Christ ?' 
It was the privilege of the apostles to see Christ. They were taught imme- 
diately by Christ, and they had a general commission to teach all, and they 
bad extraordinary gifts. All these were in St Paul eminently. And this 
was his prerogative, that he was chosen by Christ in heaven, in glory. 
The other were chosen by Christ when he was in abasement, in a state of 
humiliation. ' Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ.' 

' By the ivill of God.' By the appointment of God, by the designment* 
of Christ ; for every man in his particular calling is placed in it ' by the will 
of God. St Paul saith, he was an apostle * by the will of God, not by the 
will of man.' This is the same word as is iu the beginning of the Epistle 
to the Philippians.f 

In a word, it teacheth us this first observation. That we should think our- 
selves in our standings and callings to be there by the will of God. 

And therefore should serve him by whose will we are placed in that 
standing. Let every man consider, who placed me here ? God. If a hair 
cannot fall from my head without his providence, Mat. x. 30, much less can 
the disposing of my calling, which is a greater matter ; therefore I will 
seek his glorj^, and frame myself and courses answerable to the wiU of him 
by whose will I am in this place. 

Men have not their callings only to get riches, and to get preferment. 
Those are base ends of their own to serve themselves. God placeth us in 
our particular callings, not to serve ourselves, but to serve him; and he 

* That is, ' designation.' — G. t This is a slip for Ephesians.— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YER. 1. 9 

will cast in those riches, honour, preferment, dignity, and esteem, so much 
as is fit for us in the serving of him in our places. 

The other party* in the inscription, from whom the epistle is, is, 

' Timothy our brother.' He sends his Epistle from Timothy as well as 
from himself. This he doth to win the more acceptance among the Co- 
rinthians, by the consent of so blessed a man as Timothy was, who was an 
evangelist. Unity by consent is stronger. And there is a natural weak- 
ness in men to regard the consent and authority of others, more than the 
things themselves. And indeed, if God himself in heavenly love and mercy 
condescend to help our weakness, much more should all that are ' led by 
the Spirit of God,' Gal. v. 18. We are subject to call in question the 
truths of God. Therefore he helps us with sacraments, and with other 
means and allurements ; and although that be truth that he saith, yet be- 
cause he would undermine our distrustful dispositions by aU means, he useth 
those courses. So St Paul, that they might respect what he wi'ote the 
more, as from a joint spirit, he writes, ' Paul, and Timothy our brother.' 

It was an argument of much modesty and humility in this blessed apostle, 
that he would not of himself seem, as it were, to monopoUze their respect, 
as if aU should look to him, but he joins Timothy with him ; so great an 
apostle joins an inferior. 

There is a spirit of singularity in many ; they will seem to do aU them- 
selves, and cany all themselves before them ; and they will not speak the 
truths that others have spoken before them without some disdain. As a 
proud critic said, ' I would they had never been men that spake our things 
before we were, that we might have had all the credit of it' [a). Oh, no ! 
Those that are led with the Spirit of God, they are content in modesty and 
humility to have others joined with them ; and they know it is available! for 
others likewise ; they wiU respect the truth the more. 

And thus far we yield to the papists when we speak of this, whether the 
church can give authority to the word of God or no. In regard of us, the 
church hath some power, in regard of our weakness ; but what is that 
power ? It is an inducing power, an alluring power, a propounding power, 
to propound the mysteries of salvation. But the inward work, the con- 
vincing power, is from the evidence of the Spirit of God, and from the Scrip- 
ture itself. All that the church doth is to move, to induce, and to propound 
this, quoad nos. It hath some power in the hearts of men. 

The church thus far gives authority to the Scriptures in the hearts of 
men, though it be an improper phrase to say it gives authority ; for, as the 
men said to the woman of Samaria, ' Now we believe it ourselves, not be- 
cause thou toldest us,' &c., John iv. 42. The church allures us to respect 
the Scriptui'es ; but then there is an inward power, an inward majesty in 
the Scriptures, and that bears down all before it. 

Again, here is a ground why St Paul alleged human authority sometimes 
in his epistles, and in his dealing with men ; because he was to deal with 
men, that would be rhamed the more with them. Anything that may 
strengthen the truth in regard of the weakness of those with whom we have 
to deal, may be used in a heavenly poUcy. ' One of your own prophets,' 
saith St Paul, towards the end, i. 12. And so in the Acts of the Apostles, 
xvii. 28, he quotes a saying out of an atheist (b). 

* This use of ' party ' = person, which is not uncommon in Sibhes and his con- 
temporaries, shews that it is not the modern vulgarism (so-called) which precisians 
would make it. — G. t That is, ' advantageous.' — G. 



10 



COMMENTARY ON 



' Tiviothij our brother.' 'Brother:' he means not only by grace but by 
calling. As we know in the law and other professions, those of the same 
profession are called before brethren ; so Timothy was St Paul's brother, 
not only by grace, but by calling ; and two bonds bind stronger. Here is 
a treble bond, nature, grace, calling. They were men, they were fellow 
Christians, and they were teachers of the gospel. Therefore he saith, 
' Timothy our brother.' Timothy was an evangehyt, yet notwithstanding it 
was a greater honour to him to be a brother to St Paul than to be an evan- 
gehst. An hypocrite may be an evangehst ; but a true brother of St Paul 
none but a true Christian can be. All Christians ai-e brethren. It is a 
word that levels all ; for it takes do^\-n the mountains, and fills up the 
valleys. The greatest men in the world, the mountains, if they be Chris- 
tians, they are brethren to the lowest. And it fills up the valleys. The 
lowest, if they be Christians, are brethren to the highest ; howsoever in 
worldly respects, they cease in death ; as personal differences, and dif- 
ferences in calhng, they all cease in death. All are brethren ; therefore he 
useth it for great respect. St Paul was a great apostle ; Timothy an in- 
ferior man, yet both brethren, * Timothy our brother.' 

' To the church of God at Corinth.' We have seen the persons from 
whom, ' Paul and Timothy.' Now here are the persons to whom, ' to the 
church of God at Corinth.' Corinth was a very wicked city, as, where there 
is a great confluence of many people, there is a contagion of many sins of 
the people ; and yet notwithstanding in this Corinth there was a church. 
For as Christ saith, ' No man can come to me, except my Father draw him,' 
John vi. 44 ; so where the Father will draw, who can draw back ? Even 
in Corinth God hath his church. He raiseth up a generation of men, a 
church, which is a company of creatm-es differing as much from the com- 
mon, as men do from beasts. And yet such is the power and efiicacy of 
the blessed gospel of salvation, having the Spirit of God accompanying it, 
that even in Corinth, a wretched city, this word and this Spirit raised up a 
company of men, called here by the name of a church, and saints. And 
such power indeed hath the word of God with the Spirit, not only in wicked 
places, but in our wicked hearts too. 

Let a man have a world of wickedness in him, and let him come and pre- 
sent himself meekly and constantly to the means of salvation, and God in 
time by his Spirit will raise a new frame of grace in his heart, he will make 
a new creation. As at the first he created all out of nothing, order out of 
confusion ; so out of the heart, which is nothing but a chaos of confusion, 
of blindness, and darkness, and terror (there is a world of confusion in the 
heart of man) ; God by his creating word (for his word of the gospel is 
creating, as well as his word was at the first in the creation of the world ; 
it hath a creating power) he raiseth an excellent frame in the heart of a 
man, he scatters his natural blindness, he sets in order his natural confusion, 
that a man becomes a new creature, and an heir of a new world. 

Let no people despau', nor no person; for God hath his chm'ch in ' Co- 
rinth.' 

But what is become of this chm-ch now ? Why, alas ! it is under the 
slavery of the Turks, it is under miserable captivity at this day. At the 
first, Corinth was overthrown by Numeus,=!= a Roman captain, for the abusing 
the Roman ambassadors ; it was ruinated for the unfit carnage to the 
ambassadors, who would not suffer themselves to be contemned, nor the 
* Qu. 'Mummius?'— Ed. 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 1. 11 

majesty of the Roman empire. But Augustus Cassar afterwards repaired 
it (c). And now for neglecting of God's ambassadors, the preachers of the 
gospel, it is under another miseiy, but spiiitual ; it is under the bondage, I 
say, of that tp'ant. 

What is become of Rome, that glorious city ? It is now ' the habitation 
of devils, a cage of unclean birds,' Rev. xviii. 2. "WTiat is become of those 
glorious churches which St John wrote those epistles to in his Revelation ? 
and which St Paul wrote unto ? Alas, they are gone ! the gospel is now 
come into the western parts. And shall we think all shall be safe with us, 
as the Jews did, ciying, ' The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord ? ' 
Jer. vii. 4, No, no ! unless we respect Christ's blessed gospel of salvation, 
except we bring forth fruits worthy of it, except we maintain and defend it, 
and think it our honour and our crown, and be zealous for it. If we suffer 
the insolent enemies of it to grow as vipers in the very bosom of the church, 
what is like to become of us ? If there were no foreign enemies to invade 
us, we would let slip the glorious gospel of salvation. God will not suffer 
this indignity to this blessed jewel, his truth ; he will not suffer the doctrine 
of the gospel to be so disrespected. You see the fearful example of the 
church of Corinth. Let those whom it may concern, that have any advan- 
tage and authority, let them put in for God's cause, put in for the gospel, 
labour to propagate and to derive* this blessed truth we enjoy to posterity, 
by suppressing as much as they may the underminers of it. It is an 
acceptable service. ' To the church of God at Corinth.' 

' And all the saints in Achuia.' Corinth was the city, Achaia the country 
wherein Corinth was. There were then saints, holy men in all Achaia. And 
St Paul writes to ' all saints,' to weak saints, to strong saints, to rich saints, 
to poor saints ; because every saint hath somewhat that is lovely and respec- 
tive! in them, somewhat to be respected. The least grace deserves respect 
from the greatest apostle. And all have one head, all have one hope of 
glory, all are redeemed with the same ' precious blood of Christ,' 1 Pet. 
i. 19 (and so I might run on). The many privileges agi'ee to all. There- 
fore, all should have place in our respect. * To all saints,' that the least 
should not think themselves undervalued. "Weakness is most of all subject 
to complaining if it be disrespected. Therefore, in heavenly wisdom and 
prudence, the apostle puts in ' all saints,' in all Achaia whatsoever. Be- 
sides the mother city, the metropolis of that country, which was Corinth, 
there were saints scattered. God in heavenly wisdom scatters his saints. 
As seed, when it is scattered in the ground, it doth more good than when 
it is on heaps in the barn ; so God scatters his saints as jewels, as the lights 
of the world. Here he will have one to shine and there another. Here he 
will have one fruitful to condemn the wicked world where they are, and by 
their good example, and their heavenly and fruitful conversation, to draw 
out of the wicked estate of nature those with whom they are. Therefore he 
will have them scattered here and there, not only at Corinth, but ' saints in 
all Achaia,' besides scattered in other places. 

But we must know, by the way, that these saints had reference to some 
particular church : for though it be sufficient to make a Christian to have 
union with Christ (there is the main, the head) ; yet notwithstanding,^ he 
must be a branch, he must be a member of some particular congregation. 
Therefore we have it in Acts ii. 47 : ' God added to the church such as 
should be saved.' Those that are added to salvation must be added to the 
* That is, 'transmit,'— G. t That is, ' respect-worthy.'— G. 



12 



COMMENTARY ON 



church ; a man must be a member of some particular church. So, though 
these were scattered, they were members of some church. God's children 
are as stones in some building ; and there is an influence of grace comes 
from Chi-ist, the Head, to every particular member, as it is in the body. 
God quickens not straggling members, that have no reference to any parti- 
cular church. That I note by the way. ' To the church of God at Corinth, 
and all the saints in Achaia.' 

'Saints.' Quest. The apostle calls them saints. All believers are called 
saints. Are they so ? Are all in the visible church saintst ? Yes, say 
some, and therefore they say that our church is not a true visible church ; 
because many of them are not saints, say some that went out from among us. 

uins. I answer, alt are, or should be saints. St Paul wrote here to those 
that were sacramental* saints, and such as by outward covenant and pro- 
fession were saints ; not that they were all of them inwardly so ; but all 
should be so done. He calls them so, to put them in mind of their duty. 
To clear this point a little. 

1. Sometimes the church of God in the Scripture hath its narae from the 
commixtion of good and bad in it. So it is called a field where there is a 
mixtm-e of good and bad seed, Mat. xiii. 19, 20 ; so it is called a house wherein 
there are vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour, 2 Tim. ii. 20 ; because 
there is such a mixture in the visible church. 

2. Sometimes the chm-ch hath the name from the better part, and so it 
is the spouse of Christ, the love of Christ, ' a pecuUar people,' ' an holy 
nation,' 1 Pet. ii. 9, and * saints,' as it is here. Not that all are so, but it 
hath the denomination from the better part ; aU should be so, and the best 
are so, and it is suflicient that the denomination of a company be from the 
better part. As we say of gold ore : though there be much earth mixed with 
it, yet in regard of the better part we call it gold, we give it that name ; so, 
in regard that the best are saints, and that all should be so, therefore he 
calls them all saints. 

Quest. Should all in the visible church be saints by profession, and by 
sacrament ? Should all that are baptized, and receive the communion, enter 
into a profession of sanctity ? What say you then to a profane, atheistical 
generation, that, forsooth, make a show of holiness, and therefore we must 
look for none of them ? 

Ans. I say all profane persons are gross hypocrites. Why ? for are you 
members of the church or no ? Yes, will every one say ; will you make 
me an infidel ? will you make me a pagan ? Well, take your own word 
then. WTiat is it to be a member of the church but to be a saint ? Must 
thou be a saint ? Doth not thy profession, as thou art a member, bind thee 
to be a saint ? In baptism, was not thy promise to ' renounce the devil, 
the world, and the flesh ? ' In renewing thy covenant in the communion, 
dost not thou purpose to cleave to God in all things ? Thou that takest 
liberty, therefore, in the church of God, under the profession of religion, to 
live as a libertine, thou art a gross hypocrite, and this aggravates thy sin, 
and makes it worse than a pagan's. Thou which art in the bosom of the 
church, in the kingdom of saints, as it is in Dan. vii. 18, ' the people of the 
saints of the Most High,' the people of God in the church wherein thou art 
a professed member ; and yet dost thou take liberty grossly to offend God ? 

Quest. What doth make a saint ? 

Ans. In a word, to the constitution of a true saint, there is 
* That is, ' professed.' ' avowed ' — Q 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 1. 13 

A separation, dedication, qualification , conversation. 

1. There is a separation preseutly. When a man is a saint, he is separate 
from the confused company of the world, from the kingdom of Satan. 
Therefore those that have all companies alike, that carry themselves in- 
differently in all companies, as men that profess a kind of ci\ility, that are 
taken up with the complement* of the times, men that learn the language 
of the times, that are for all sorts, they know not what belongs to the high 
profession of Christianity. 

There is a due to all, I confess ; there is a benevolence and a beneficence 
to all ; but there is a kind of complacency, a sweet familiarity, and amity 
which should be reserved to a few, only to those in whom we see the evi- 
dences and signs of grace. If there be not a separation in respect of grace, 
there is no hoUness at all ; a saint must be separated. Not locally, but in 
regard of amity, in regard of intimate friendship. As we see it is in out- 
ward things, in some of our houses. There is a court where all come, poor 
and rich ; and there is the house where those of nearer acquaintance come ; 
and then there is the innermost room, the closet, where only ourselves and 
those which are nearest to us come. So it is in the passages of the soul. 
There are some remote courtesies that come from us, as men, to all, be 
they what they will ; there are other respects to others that are nearer, that 
we admit nearer, that are of better quality ; and there are other that are 
nearest of all, that we admit even into the closet of our hearts : and those 
are they with whom we hope to have communion for ever in heaven, the 
blessed people of God, termed here ' saints.' It is an evidence of our 
translation from a cursed estate to a better when we love such. ' Hereby 
we know,' saith St John, * that we are translated from death to life, because 
we love the brethren,' 1 John iii. 14. There must be a separation. 

2. And withal there must be a dedication of ourselves to tfie service of God. 
A Christian, when he knows himself by the word of truth and by the work 
of the Spirit, to be God's child, he dedicates himself to better services than 
before. He thinks himself too good, he thinks too highh' of himself to be 
a base blasphemer, or swearer, to be a filthy person. He considers himself 
as 'the temple of the Holy Ghost,' 1 Cor. iii. 16, and he useth himself to 
better purposes, to better studies, to do good. 

3. And then with dedication, there is an imvard qualification to inablef 
him with light never to forget the image of God. Herein this saiutship 
stands, especially in this inward qualification, whereby we resemble Christ 
the King of saints. All our sanctificatiou comes from him. As Aaron's 
ointment went down from his head to his beard, and so to his skirts, Ps. 
cxxxiii. 2, so all our sauctification is from Christ. Eveiy saint is quahfied 
from the Spirit of Christ. ' Of his fulness,' John i. 16, we receive this in- 
ward qualification, that we have another judgment of things than this world 
hath ; what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what 
is comfortable and what tends to discomfort. He hath another conceit of 
things. He hath another light than he had before, and than other carnal 
men have. He hath a heavenly light. He hath another language. He 
gives himself to prayer and to thanksgiving. He is given to savoury dis- 
course. He hath other courses in his particular calling and in his genei^al 
calling than other refuse; company have, or than himself had before his 
calling. This is from his qualification. 

4. And this qualification and conversation go together. He hath a new 

* That is, ' compliment ' = line manners. — G. f Tliat is, ' enable ' = endow. — G. 
t That is, ' worthless.' — G. 



14 COMMENTARY ON 

conversation. He carries Limself even like to him that ' hath called him 
out of darkness into marvellous light,' 1 Pet, ii. 9. So a true saint, as 
every professor of religion ought to be, he is dedicate to God, and he is 
qualified in some degree, as Christ was, by his Holy Spirit. He is a new 
creature. * He that is in Christ is a new creature,' 2 Cor. v. 17, and he 
shews this by his conversation, or else he is no saint. 

Quest. How shall we know a saint from a mere civil-:-' man ? (as there be 
many that live and die in that estate, which is to be pitied ; and one main 
end of our calling is not only to reduce profane men to a better fashion of 
life, but to shew civil men their danger.) 

Ans. A mere civil man looks to the second table. He is smooth in his 
carriage and conversation with men, but negligent in his service to God. 
A civil man he looks to his outward carriage, but he makes no conscience 
of secret sins. He is not ' holy in all manner of conversation,' as St Peter 
saith, 1 Pet. i. 15. ' Be ye holy in all manner of conversation,' in private, 
in public, in your retired carriage. • He makes no conscience of his 
thoughts, of his speeches, of all. 

You may know an hypocrite so, that carries himself smoothly and ac- 
ceptably in the eye of the world ; but he makes no conscience of his 
thoughts, he makes no conscience of his affections, of his desires, of his 
lusts, and such things. He makes no conscience of lesser oaths, nor per- 
haps of rotten discourses. No ; they are all for this, that they may pass 
in the world, that they may carry themselves wdth acceptance. As for 
what belongs to the ' new creature,' to saints, they care not ; for they have 
vain conceits of these, and judge them as hypocrites. Because such a one 
knows himself should be an hypocrite, if he should do otherwise than he 
doth, therefore he thinks that others that are above his pitch are hypocrites, 
and they make a show of that that is not in them ; because if he should 
make show of that, his heart would tell him that he were an hypocrite. 

A true saint differs from an hypocrite in many respects ; but in this one 
mainly, that a true saint of God is altered in the inward frame and qualifi- 
cation of his soul. He is a ' new creature.' Therefore there is a spring 
of better thoughts, of better desires, of better aims in him than in other 
men. And he labours more after the inward frame of his heart than after 
his outward carriage. What he is ashamed to do, he is ashamed to think, 
he is ashamed to lust after. What he desires to do, he desires to love in 
his heart. He labours that all may be true in the inward man ; because 
grace, as well as nature, begins from the heart, from the inward parts. 

An hypocrite never cares for that. All his care is for the outward parts. 
He is sale-work. So his carriage be acceptable to others, all his care is 
taken. He lives to the view. Therefore he looks not to the substance and 
the truth, but to the shadow and appearance. 

Now I come to the salutation itself. 



VEESE 2. 

'Grace be mito you,'' &c. 'Grace' doth enter into the whole conver- 
sation of a Christian, and doth sweeten his very salutations. Which 
I observe, because many men confine their religion to places, to actions, 
and to times. There is a relish of holiness in everything that comes from 
a Christian ; in his salutations and courtesies. St Paul salutes them, 
* That is, ' moral.'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 2. 15 

* Grace and peace from God,' &c. And the use of holy salutations are to 
shew [and] win love. 

To shew love and respect. Therefore he salutes them ; and by shewing 
love, to gain love ; for there is a loadstone in love. And thirdly, the use 
of salutations is by them to convey some good. For these salutations are 
not mere wishes, but prayers, nay, blessings. God's people are a blessed 
people, and they are full of blessing. They carry a blessmg in their very 
speeches. 

Quest. What is a hlessing ? 

Ans. A hlessing is a prayer, with the apj)lication of the thing prayed for. It 
is somewhat more than a prayer, ' Grace be with you, and peace.' It is 
not only a mere wish, I desire it ; nay, my desire of it is with an applying 
of it. ' Grace shall be with you, and peace,' and the more because I 
heartily wish it to you. It is no light matter to have the benediction and 
salutation of a holy man, especially those that are superiors; for the 
superiors bless the inferiors. There is a grace goes even with the very 
salutations, with the common prayers of a holy man. It is a comfortable 
sign when God doth enlarge the heart of a holy man to wish well to a man. 

And surely the very consideration of that should move us to let them 
have such encouragement from our carriage and demeanour, that they may 
have hearts to think of us to the throne of grace, to give us a good wish, to 
give us a good desire. For every gracious desire, every prayer, hath 'its 
effect when it comes from a favourite of God, especially frorn such a man 
as St Paul was ; from a minister, a holy man in a calling, a man of God. 
They have their efficacy with them. They are not empty words, ' grace 
and peace.' 

The popes think it a great favour when they bestow their apostoHcal 
benediction and blessing. Their blessing is not much worth. Their curse 
is better than their blessing. But surely the blessing of a man rightly 
called, those that are true ministers of Christ, they are clothed with power 
and efficacy from God. ' Grace be with you, and peace ;' it is no idle com- 
pliment. 

And here you see likewise what should be the manner of the salutation 
of Christians. As they ought to salute, to shew love, and to gain love, so 
aU their salutations should be holy. There is a taking the name of God in 
vain in salutations ofttimes, ' God save you,' &c., and it must be done with 
a kind of scorn ; and if there be any demonstration of religion, it becomes 
them not, that which should become them most. What should become a 
saint, but to carry himself saint-Hke ? And yet men must do it with a 
kmd of scorn, with a kind of graceless grace. That which in the religious 
use of it is a comfortable and sweet thing, and is alway with a comfortable 
and gracious effect in God's childi-en ; either it hath effect, and is made 
grace to them to whom it is spoken, or returns to them that speak it. As 
Chi-ist saith to his disciples, ' When you come into a house, pronounce 
peace to them ; and if the house be not worthy, your peace shall return to 
you,' Mat. x. 13. So the salutations of a good man, if they be not effec- 
tual to the parties, if they be unworthy, rebeUious creatures, they return 
again to himself ; they have effect one way or other. Let it not be done, 
therefore, with a taking the name of God in vain in a scornful manner, but 
with gravity and reverence, as becometh a holy action. There is some limita- 
tion and exception of this. Salutations, in some cases, may be omitted. 

1. As in serious business, 'salute no man by the way,' as Christ saith 
to his apostles, Luke x. 4. A neglect sometimes is good manners, when 



16 COMMENTARY ON 

respect is swallowed up in a greater duty. As it was good manners for 
David to dance and to carry himself, as it were, unseemly before the ark, 
2 Sam. vi. 14 ; because he was to neglect respect to meaner persons, to for- 
get the respect he was to shew to men. Being altogether taken up with 
higher matters, it was a kind of decency and comeliness. And overmuch 
scrupulousness and niceness in lesser things, when men are called to greater, 
is but unmannerly manners. In these cases, these lesser must give way 
and place to the greater. * Salute no man by the way.' Despatch the 
business you are about ; that is, if it may be a hindrance in the way, salute 
not. This is in respect of time. 

2. And as for time, so for persons. A notorious, incorrigible heretic, 
salute not. To salute such a one would be, as it were, a connivance or an 
indulgence to him. 'Salute him not' (tZ). The denying of a salutation 
many times hath the force of a censure. The party neglected may think 
there is somewhat in him for which he is neglected in that manner. In 
these cases, salutations may be omitted sometimes. But I go unto the 
particulars. 

' 6rrace be unto yoti and peace.' These are the good things wished. "We 
see the apostle, a blessed man, that had been ' in the third heaven ' rapt 
up, 2 Cor. xii. 2, that had been taught of Christ what things were most 
excellent, and had himself seen ' excellent things which he could not utter,' 
2 Cor. xii. 4, when he comes to wishes, we see out of heavenly wisdom and 
experience he draws them to two heads, all good things to 'grace and peace.' 
If there had been better things to be wished, he would have wished them, 
but grace and peace are the principal things. 

Quest. What is meant by grace here ? 

Ans. Grace, in this place, is the free favour and love of God from his oum 
bowels ; not for any desert, or worth, or strength of love of ours. It is his 
own free grace and love, which is shed by the Holy Ghost, and springs only 
from his own goodness and loving nature, and not from us at all. This is 
grace. It must be distinguished from the fruits of it ; as the apostle doth 
distinguish them, ' grace, and the gifts of grace,' Rom. v. 15. There is 
favour and the gifts of favour, which is grace inherent in us. Here espe- 
cially is meant the fountain and spring of all the favour of God, with the 
manifestation of it, with the increase of it, with the continuance of it. He 
wisheth these things, the favour of God, with the manifestation of it to 
their souls ; that God would be gracious to them, so that he would shew 
his grace ; that he would discover it, and shine upon them ; and to that 
end that he would give them his Holy Spirit, to shed ' his love into their 
hearts,' Rom. v. 5. This shining of God into the heart, this shedding of 
the love of God into the heart, is the grace here meant ; God's fiivour, with 
the manifestation of it to the soul, and with the continuance of it, and the 
increase of it still. ' Grace unto you.' As if he should have said, I wish 
you the favour of God, and the report of it to your souls ; that as he loves 
you through his Christ, so he would witness as much by his Holy Spirit to 
your souls. And I wish you likewise the continuance of it, and the in- 
crease of it, and the fruits of it likewise (for that must not be excluded), 
all particular graces, which are likewise called graces. They have the name 
of favours, because they come from favour ; and favour is the chief thing in 
them. What is the chief thing in joy, in faith, in love ? They are graces. 
They cannot be considered as qualifications, as earthly things in us. They 
proceed from the gi'aee and love of God, and have their especial value from 



1! COHINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. '2,. 17 

thence. So I wish you the manifestation, the continuance and increase of 
favour, with all the fruits of God's favour, especially such as concern a 
better life. The word is easily understood after the common sense. Grace 
is the loving and free respect of a superior to an inferior ; the respect of a 
magistrate to such as are under him. Such a one is in grace with the 
prince, we say. We mean not any inherent thing, but fi-ee grace. So in 
religion it is not any inherent, habitual thing, gi-ace ; but it is free favour, 
and whatsoever issues from free favour. This must be the rather observed, 
this phrase, against the papists. We say we are justified by gi-ace, and so 
do they. What do they mean by being justified by grace ? That is, by in- 
herent grace. We say, No ; we are justified by grace ; that is, by the free 
favour of God in Jesus Christ. So is the acception * of the word. 
But, to come to the point, that which I will now note is this, that 
Doct.^A Christian, though he be in the state of grace and favour with God, 
yet still he needs the continuance of it. 

He stands in need of the continuance of God. St Paul here prays for 
grace and peace, to those that were in the state of grace already. Why ? 
The reason of it is, that we run into new breaches every day, of ourselves. 
As long as there is a spring of corruption in us, a cursed issue of connip- 
tion, so long there will be some actions, and speeches, and thoughts, that 
will issue, that would of themselves break our peace with God, or at least 
hinder the sweet sense of it. Therefore, we have continual occasion to 
renew our desires of the sense and feeling of the favour of God, and to renew 
our pardon every day, to take out a pardon of course, as we have now the 
liberty to do. So oft as we confess our sins, * he is merciful to forgive us,' 
1 John i. 9. And to win his favour, we have need every day still of grace. 
I list not to join in conflict here with the papists concerning their opinion. 

1 will but touch it by the way, to shew the danger of it. They will not 
have all of mere grace. But Christians are under grace while they are in 
this world, as St Paul saith, all is grace, grace still : nay, at the day of 
judgment, ' The Lord shew mercy to the house of Onesiphorus at that day,' 

2 Tim. i. 16, at the day of judgment. Grace and mercy must be our plea, 
till we come to heaven. They stand upon grace to enable f us to the 
work ; and then by the work we may merit our own salvation, and so they 
will not have it of grace, of gift; but as a stipend, a thing of merit, 
directly contrary to St Paul, Rom. vi. 23, Eternal life is ^d^iofia. The 
word comes of %af' 5, of gift. ' The gift of God, a free gift through 
Jesus Christ our Lord.' So from the first gi-ace, to eternal life, which is 
the complement of all, all is grace. 

As for the New Testament, it is the covenant of grace. The whole car- 
riage of our salvation is called the covenant of grace ; because, God of grace 
doth enter into covenant with us. He sent Christ of gi-ace, who is the 
foundation of the covenant. The fulfilling of it, on our part, is of grace. 
He gives us faith. ' Faith is the gift of God,' Eph. ii. 8. ' He puts his 
fear in our hearts that we should not depart from him,' Jeremiah xxxii. 40. 
And when he enters into covenant with us, it is of grace and love. It was 
of grace that he sent Christ to be the foundation of the covenant ; that in the 
satisfying of his justice he might be gi-acious to us, without disparagement 
to his justice. Of grace he fulfils the condition on our part. We are no more 
able to beUeve than we are to fulfil the law ; but he enables us by his word 
and Spirit, attending upon the means of salvation, to fulfil the covenant. 
And when we have done all, he gives us of grace, eternal life ; all is of grace. 
* That is, ' acceptation.' — G. t That is, ' qualify.' — G. 

VOL. III. A. B 

f 



18 COIIMKNTARY ON 

There is nothing in the gosj^el but grace. Therefore in the Ephesians, i. 6, 
it is stood upon by the apostle, ' To the praise of the glory of his rich 
grace.' From election to glorification, all is to the glory of his grace. 

We ought to conceive of God as a gracious Father, withholding his anger, 
which we deserve to be poured upon us ; by the intercession of Christ, 
withholding that anger, and the fruits of it. And, notwithstanding we are 
in grace, if we neglect to seek to God the Father, if we neglect to seek to 
Christ, who makes intercession for us, then, though we be in the first grace 
still, we are not cast away yet ; we are filil sub ira, sons under wrath ; we 
ai'e- under anger, though not under hatred. 

Therefore, eveiy day we should labour to maintain the grace of God 
with the assm'ance of it. It is a great matter to carry ourselves so, as we 
may be under the sense and feeling of the grace of God. It is not suflB- 
cient to be in the grace of God, but to have the report of it to our own 
hearts, have it to shine upon us. 

Quest. How should we carry ourselves so, that we may be in [a] state of 
grace ? that is, in such a state as we may find the sweet evidence and com- 
fortable feeling continually, that we are God's children. 

Ans. First of all, there must be a loerpetual, daily 2)ractice of abasing our- 
selves, of making ourselves j^oor ; that is, every day to see the vanity of all 
things in the world out of us ; to see the weakness of grace in us ; to 
see the return of our corruptions that foil us every day ; that so we may see 
, in what need we stand of the favour of God : considering that all comforts 
without are vanity, and that all the graces in us are stained with cor- 
ruption ; considering, besides the stains of our graces, that there is a conti- 
nual issue of corruption. These things will make our spirits poor, and 
make us hunger and thirst after the sense and feeling of free pardon every 
day. This will enforce us to renew our patent, to renew our portion in the 
covenant of grace, to have daily pardon. This should be our daily practice, 
to enter deeper and deeper into ourselves. 

This is to ' live by faith,' Gal. ii. 20. As God is continually ready to 
shew us favour in Christ, not only at the fii'st in acquitting us from our sins, 
but continually doth shew us favour upon all occasions, and is justifying 
and pardoning, and speaking peace continually to us ; so there must be an 
action answerable in us, that is depending upon God by faith, living by 
faith. This we do by seeing in what need we stand of grace. ' God resists 
the proud, but gives grace to the humble,' James iv. 6. 

2. Then, again, that we may walk in the grace of God, and in the sense 
of it, let us every da}' labour to have our souls more and more enriched with 
the endomncnts and graces of GocVs Spirit, that we may be objects of God's 
delight. Let us labour to be aflected to things as he is afiected. Two can- 
not ' walk together except they be agreed,' Amos iii. 3. Let us hate that 
which God hates, and delight in that which God delights in, that we may 
have a kind of complacency, and be in love with the blessed work of the 
Spirit of God more and more. Let us labour to delight in them that grow 
in grace, as the nearer any one comes to our likeness, the more we grow 
in famiharity with them. Labour also to preserve a clear soul, that God 
may shine upon us. God delights not in strangeness to us. His desire 
is that we may walk in the sense and assurance of his grace and favour. 

Quest. How shall we know that we are in a state of grace with God ? 

Ans. I answer, that we do not deceive ourselves ; 

1. We must look to the ivork of God's grace. God's grace is a fruitful grace. 
His favour is fruitful. It is not a barren favour ; it is not a winter sun. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER, 2. 19 

The sun in the winter, it carries a goodly countenance, but it heats not 
to any pm-pose ; it doth not quicken. But God's grace, it carries life and 
heat where it comes. Therefore, if we be in a state of grace and favour 
with God, we may discern it. 

But in times of desertion, though a person be in grace and favour with 
God, yet many times he thinks he is not so. 

It is true. Then, we must not always go to our feeling at such times, 
and the enlargement of our hearts by the Spirit of comfort, but go to the 
work of grace. For, 

2. Where grace and favour is, there are the graces of the Spirit. As it is 
not a bare favour in regard of comfort, so it is not a barren favour in regard 
of graces ; for eveiy heart that is in favour with God hath some graces of 
the Spirit. God enriches the soul where he shews favour. His love- 
tokens are some graces. Therefore, if the witness and comfort of the 
Spirit cease in case of desertion, let us go to the work of the Spirit, and 
by that we may know if we be in grace with God. For God's people are 
a ' peculiar people :' and God's children have always some peculiar 
grace. Some ornaments, some jewels the spouse of Christ hath, which 
others have not. 

Therefore, examine thy heart, what work of God there is, and what de- 
sire thou hast after better things, what inward hatred against that which 
is ill, what strength thou hast against it. Go to some mark of regenera- 
tion, of the ' new creature,' and these will evidence that we are in a state 
of grace with God, because these are pecuhar favours. And though we 
feel not the comfort, yet there is a work, and that work will comfort us 
more than the comfort itself will do. 

3. And this is one thing whereby we may know w^e are in favour with 
God, when we can comfort ourselves, and can go to the throne of grace 
through Christ. When ice can go boldly to God it is a sign of favour. 
When we can call upon him, when we can go in any desertion to prayer, 
when in any affliction we can have enlarged hearts, it is a sign of favour 
with God. A mere hypocrite, or a man that hath not this peculiar grace, 
he trusts to outward things ; and when they are gone, when he is in trouble, 
he hath not the heart to go to God. His heart is shut up, he sinks 
down, because he relied upon common matters. He did not rely upon 
the favour of God and the best fruit of it, which are graces, but upon 
common favours. Therefore, he sinks in despair. 

But a sound Christian, take him at the worst, he can sigh to God, he 
can go to him, and open his soul to him. ' By Christ we have an en- 
trance to the Father,' Eph. ii. 18 ; ' We have boldness through faith,' 
Eph. iii. 12. Every Christian hath this in the worst extremity, he hath 
a spirit of prayer. Though he cannot enlarge himself, yet he can sigh 
and groan to God, and God will hear the sighs of his own Spirit ; they 
are loud in his ears. David, at the worst, he prays to God ; Saul, at the 
Y/orst, he goes to the witch, 1 Sam. xxviii. 7, seq., and from thence to his 
sword's point, 1 Sam. xxxi. 4. But usually, the usual temper and disposition 
of a man in the state of gi'ace is joy ; for, as one saith, grace is the begettel 
of joy ; for they both have one root in the Greek language. There is the 
same root for favour and for joy (e). So favour is usually and ordinarily 
with a sweet enlargement of heart. AVe may thank ourselves else, that do 
not walk so warily and so jealously as we should. 

The reward that God gives his children that are careful is a spirit of 
joy. ' Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and joy in tribula- 



20 COMMENTARY ON 

tion,' Rom. v. 1. For, even as it is in human matters, the favour and 
countenance of the king, it is as a shower of rain after a drought, it 
comforts his subjects. There is a wondrous joy in the favour and gi'ace 
of great persons ahvay ; and as the favourable aspect of the heavens upon ' 
inferior bodies promiseth good things,* and men promise themselves from 
that fa^our and good, so the favour and grace of God enlarge the soul 
with joy and comfort. And there is that measure of joy in those that are 
in the free favour of God, that they will honour God freely, to cast them- 
selves upon his mercy. 

And it is with a disesteem of all things in the world besides. It is 
such a joy as works in the soul a base esteem of all things else. St 
Paul esteemed all dross, ' in comparison of the knowledge of Christ,* 
Phih'p. iii. 8, and the favour of God in Christ. So in Ps. iv., David saith 
of some, ' There be many that will saj, Who will shew us any good ? ' 
ver. 6. Any good ! It is no matter. But saith the Holy Spirit in David, 
' Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon me,' ver. 6. He goes to 
prayer. He saith not, ' Who will shew us any good ? ' It is no matter 
what, or how we come by it, any earthly good worldly men desire. No ; 
saith he, ' Lord, shew us the light of thy countenance.' He desires that 
above all things, so he saith, ' The lovingkindness of the Lord is better 
than life itself,' Ps. Ixiii. 3. Life is a sweet thing, the sweetest thing in 
the world ; but the grace and favour of God is better than that. For in 
this, when all comforts fail, the children of God have assurance, that 
' neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any- 
thing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ,' Rom. viii. 38, 
which shews itself better than life itself. When life fails, this favour shall 
never fail. Nothing shall be able to separ-ate us from the favour of God in 
Christ. It is an everlasting favour, and therefore everlasting because it is 
free. If it were originally in us, it would fail when we fail ; but it is an 
everlasting favour because it is free. God hath founded the cause of love 
to us in himself. So much for that, * Grace be unto you.' 

' And peace.' All that I will say of peace in this place is this, to shew, 

Obs. That true j^eace issues from grace. 

It is to be had thence. Peace, we take here for that sweet peace with 
God, and peace of conscience, and likewise peace with all things, when 
aU things are peaceable to us, when there is a sweet success in all 
business, with a security in a good estate. It is a blessed thing when we 
know that all will be well with us. This quiet and peaceable estate issues 
fi-'om grace, peace of conscience especially. I observe it the rather [be- 
cause] it hath been the en-or of the world to seek peace where it is not, 
to seek peace in sanctification, to seek it in the work of grace within a 
man, not to speak of worldly men, that seek peace in outward content- 
ments, in recreations, in friends, and the like. Alas ! it is a poor peace. 
But I speak of religious persons that are of a higher strain. They have 
sought peace, but not high enough. True peace must be selected from 
grace, the free favour in Christ. This will quiet and still the clamours of 
an accusing conscience. God reconciled in Christ will pacify the con- 
science ; nothing else will do it. For if our chief peace were fetched from 
sanctification, as many fetch it thence in error of judgment, alas! the 

* That is, according to (the now exploded, but in time of Sibbes accredited sys- 
tem of) astrology. Even Bacon and Milton believed in the influence of the stars. 
-G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 2. 21 

conscience would be dismayed, and always doubt whether it had sanctifi- 
cation enough or no. Indeed, sanctification and grace within is required 
as a qualification, to shew that we are not hypocrites, but are in the state 
and covenant of gi-ace. It is not required as a foundation of comfort, 
but as a qualification of the persons to whom comfort belongs. There- 
fore, David, and St Paul, and the rest, that knew the true power and efla- 
cacy of the gospel, they sought for peace m the grace and free favour of God. 

Let us lay it up to put it in practice in the time of dissolution, in the 
time of spiritual conflict, in the time when our consciences shall be 
awakened, and perhaps upon the rack, and Satan will be busy to trouble 
our peace, that we may shut our eyes to all things below, and see God 
shining on [us] in Christ ; that we may see the favour of God in Christ, 
by whose death and passion he is reconciled to us, and in the grace and 
free favour of God in Christ we shall see peace enough. 

It is true, likewise, besides peace of conscience, of all other peace, peace 
of success and peace of state. That all creatures and all conditions are 
peaceable to us, whence is it ? It is from grace. For God, being recon- 
ciled, he reconciles all. When God himself is ours, all is ours. When 
he is turned, all is tm-ned with him. When he becomes our Father in 
Christ, and is at peace with us, all are at peace besides. So that all 
conditions, all estates, all creatures, they work for our good. _ It is from 
hence, when God is turned, all are turned with him. He being the God 
of the creature, that sustains and upholds the creatm-e, in whom the 
creature hath his being and working, he must needs therefore turn it for 
the good of them that are in covenant with him. All that are joined in 
covenant with him, he fills them wdth peace, because they are in grace with 
him. 

This should stir up our hearts, above all things in the world, to pray 
for grace, to get grace, to empty om-selves of self-confidence, that we may 
be vessels for grace, to make grace our plea, to magnify the grace of God. 

We must never look in this world for a peace altogether absolute. That 
is reserved for heaven. Our peace here is a troubled peace. God will 
have a distinction between heaven and earth. But when our peace is in- 
terrupted, when the waters ' are come into our souls,' Ps. Ixix. 1, what 
must be our course ? When we would have peace, go to grace, go to the 
free promise of grace in Christ. ' Grace and peace.' 

' From God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: The spring of 
grace and peace are here mentioned. 

After the preface, he comes to the argument which he intends ; and 
begins with blessing. 

One part of the scope of this blessed apostle is, to avoid the scandal 
of his suflerings ; for he was a man of sorrows, if ever man was. Next 
Christ, who was a true man of sorrow, the blessed apostle was_ a man of 
miseries and sorrow. Now, weak, shallow Christians thought him to be a 
man deserted of God. They thought it was impossible for God to regard 
a man so forlorn, so despicable as this man was. What doth he ? Before 
he comes to other matters, he wipes away this imputation and clears this 
scandal. You lay my crosses, and sufferings, and disgraces in the world 
to my shame ! It is your weakness. That which you account my shame 
is a matter of praise. I am so far fi-om being disheartened or discouraged 
from what I sufi'er, that, 

* That is, ' to take away the stumblingblock.'— G. 



22 OOMMENTAKY ON 



VERSE 3. 

'Blessed he God, the Father of Christ, the Father of mercies,^ dc. 
That which to the flesh is matter of scandal and offence, that to the 
spirit and to a spiritual man is matter of glory, so contrary is the flesh 
and the spirit, and so opposite is the disposition and the current of the 
fleshly man to the spiritual man. Job was so far from cursing God for 
taking away, that he saith, ' Blessed be the name of God,' not only for 
giving, but for taking away too. Job i. 21. 

What ground there is in troubles and persecutions to bless God we shall 
see in the cui'rent and passages of the chapter. 

To come, then, to the very verse itself, where there is a blessing and 
praising of God first ; and in this praising consider 

The act, object, reasons. 

1. The act, ' Blessed be God,' which is a praising. ' 

2. The object is ' God the Father. 

3. The reasons are enwrapped in the object, ' Blessed be God the Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 

(1.) Because he is the God and Father of Jesus Christ, therefore blessed 
be he. Another reason is, 

(2.) Because he is the ' Father of mercies.' Another reason is, 
(3.) From the act of this disposition of mercy in God, he is the ' God of 
all comfort,' and as he is comfortable, so he doth comfort. * Thou art 
good and doest good,' saith the psalmist, Ps. cxix. 68. Thou art a God of 
comfort, and thou dost comfort. For as he is, so he doth. He shews his 
nature in his working, * Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of comfort,' of which I shall speak 
when I come to them. 

* Blessed be God, the Father,' <&c. We see here the heart of the blessed 
apostle, being warmed with the sense and taste of the sweet mercy of God, 
stirs up his tongue to bless God ; a full heart and a full tongue. We 
have here the exuberancy, the abundance of his thankfulness breaking 
forth in his speech. His heart had first tasted of the sweet mercies and 
comforts of God before he praiseth God. The first thing that we will ob- 
serve hence is, that 

It is the disposition of God's children, after they have tasted the sweet mercy 
and comfort and love of God, to break forth into the praising of God and to 
thanksgiving. 

It is as natural for the new creature to do so as for the birds to sing in 
the spring. When tJje sun hath warmed the poor creature, it shews its 
thankfulness in singing ; and that little blood and spirits that it hath being 
warmed after winter, it is natural for those creatures so to do, and we de- 
light in them. 

It is as natural for the new creature, when it feels the Sun of righteous- 
ness warming the soul, when it tastes of the mercy of God in Christ, to shew 
forth itself in thankfulness and praise ; and it can no more be kept from it, 
than fire can keep from burning, or water from cooling. It is the nature 
of the new creature so to do. 

The reason is, every creature must do the work for which God hath 
enabled* it, to the which God hath framed it. The happiness of the 
* That is, ' qualified.' — G. 



2 COEINTniANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 28 

creature is in well-doing, in working according to its nature. The heathen 
could see that. Now all the creatures, the new creature especiaUj^ is for 
the glory of God in Christ Jesus. All the new creature, and what privileges 
it hath, and what graces it hath, all is, that God may have the glory of 
grace. Why then, it must needs work answerable to that which God hath 
created it for. Therefore it must shew forth the praise and glory of God. 
* Blessed be God,' saith the apostle, Eph. i. 3 ; and the blessed apostle 
Peter begins his epistle, ' Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who hath begotten us to an inheritance immortal and undefiled, which 
fadeth not away, reserved for us in heaven,' 1 Pet. i. 3. 

I shall not need to set down with the exposition of the word ' blessed :' 
how God blesseth us, and how we bless God. His blessing is a conferring 
of blessing ; our blessing is a declaring of his goodness. It is a thing well 
enough known. Our blessing of God is a praising of God, a setting out 
what is in him. 

Only one thing is to be cleared. What good can we do to God in bless- 
ing of him ? He is blessed, though we bless him not ; and he is praised, 
whether we praise him or no. He had glory enough before he made the 
world. He contented himself in the Trinity, the blessed Trinity in itself, 
before there were either angels, or men, or other creatures to bless him ; 
and now he can be blessed enough, though we do not bless him. 

It is true he can be so ; and he can have heaven, though thou hast it 
not, but be a damned creature ; and he will be blessed, whether thou bless 
him or no. 

1. Om' blessing of him is required as a duty, to make us more capable of 
his graces, ' To him that hath shall be given,' Mat. xiii. 12. To him that 
hath, and useth that he hath to the glory of God, shall be given more. We 
give nothing. 

The stream gives nothing to the fountain. The beam gives nothing to 
the sun, for it issues from the sun. Our very blessing of God is a blessing 
of his. 

It is from his grace that we can praise his gi-ace ; and we ran still into a 
new debt, when we have hearts enlarged to bless him. 

We ought to have our hearts more enlarged, that we can be enlarged to 
praise God. 

2. And to others it is good, for others are stirred up by it. God's good- 
ness and mercy is enlarged in regard of the manifestation of it to others, by 
our blessing of God. 

3. Yea, this good comes to our souls. Besides the increase of grace, we 
shall find an increase of joy and comfort. That is one end why God 
requires it of us. Though he himself, in his essence, be alway alike 
blessed, yet he requires that we should be thankful to him alway ; that 
we should bless and praise him even in misery and aifliction. And why, then ? 

1. Because, if we can tvork upon our hearts a disposition to see God's love, 
and to praise ayid bless him, we can never he uncomfortable. We have some 
comfort against all estates and conditions, by studjdng to praise God, by 
working of our hearts to a disposition to praise and bless God ; for then 
crosses are Kght, crosses are no crosses then. That is the reason that the 
apostles and holy men so stirred up their hearts to praise and thanksgiving, 
that they might feel their crosses the less, that they might be less sensible 
oi their discomforts. For undoubtedly, when we search for matter of 
praising God in any affliction, and when we see there is some mercy yet 
reserved, that we are not consumed, the consideration that there is alway 



24 COMMENTAKY ON 

some mercy, that we are yet unthankful for, will enlarge our hearts ; and 
God, when he hath thanks and praise from us, he gives us still more 
matter of thankfulness, and the more we thank him and praise him, the 
more we have matter of praise. 

This being a trath, that God's children, when they have tasted of his 
mercy, break forth into his praise, it being the end of his favours ; and 
nature being inclined thereto, this should stir us up to this duty. And that 
we may the better perform this holy duty, let us take notice of all God's 
favours and blessings. Knowledge stirs up the affections. Blessing of 
God springs immediately from an enlarged heart, but enlargement of heart 
is stirred up from apprehension. For as things are reported to the know- 
ledge, so the understanding reports them to the heart and affections. 
Therefore it is a duty that we ought to take notice of God's favours, and 
with taking notice of them, 

2. To mind them, to remember them, forget not all his benefits. * Praise 
the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits,' Ps. ciii. 2, insinuating 
that the cause why we praise not God is the forgetting of his benefits. 

Let us take notice of them, let us register them, let us mind them, let us 
keep diaries of his mercies and favours every day.* He renews his mercies 
and favours every day, and we ought to renew our blessing of him every 
day. We should labour to do here, as we shall do when we are in heaven, 
where we shall do nothing else but praise and bless him. We ought to be 
in heaven, while we are on the earth, as much as we may. Let us register 
his favours and mercies. 

Quest. But what favours ? 

Ans. Especially spiritual, nay, first spiritual favours, without which we 
cannot heartily give thanks for any outward thing. For the soul will cast 
with itself, till it feel itself in covenant with God in Christ, that a man is 
the child of God. 

Indeed I have many mercies and favours. God is good to me. But 
perhaps all these are but favours of the traitor in the prison, that hath the 
liberty of the tower, and all things that his heart can desire ; but then he 
looks for an execution, he looks for a writ to draw him forth to make him 
a spectacle to all. And so this trembling for fear of a future ill which 
the soul looks for, it keeps the soul from thankfulness. It cannot be 
heartily thankful for any mercy, till it can be thankful for spiritual favours. 

Therefore first let us see that our state be good, that we are in Christ, 
that we are in covenant of grace, that though we are weak Christians, yet 
we are true, [that] there is truth in grace wrought in us. And then, when 
we have tasted the best mercies, spiritual mercies ; when we see we are 
taken out of the state of nature (for then all is in love to us), when we 
have the first mercy, pardoning mercy, that our sins are forgiven in Christ, 
then the other are mercies indeed to us, not as favours to a condemned man. 

And that is the reason that a carnal man, he hath his heart shut, he can- 
not praise God, he cannot trust in God ; because he staggers in his estate, 
because he is not assured. He thinks, it may be God ' fattens me against 
the day of slaughter,' Jer. xii. 3. Therefore I know not whether I should 
)raise him for this or no. But he is deceived in that. For if he had his 
heart enlarged to bless God for that, God would shew further favour still ; 
but the heart will not yield hearty praise to God, till it be persuaded of 
God's love. For all om* love is by reflection. * We love him, because he 

* ' Diaries.' As a fine spccimon of, and connsels in regard to, this kind of diary, 
see Beadle's ' Diary of a Thaukful Christian,' 12mo, 1656. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 25 

loved us first,' 1 John iv. 19, and we praise and bless him, because he hath 
blessed us first in heavenly blessings in Christ. 

Let us take notice of his favours, let us remind them, let us register 
them, especially favours and mercies in Christ. Let us after* think how we 
were pulled out of the cursed estate of nature, by what ministry, by what 
acquaintance, by what speech, and how God hath followed that mercy with 
new acquaintance, with new comfort to our souls, with new refreshings ; 
that by his Spirit he hath repressed our corruptions, that he hath sanctified 
us, made us more humble, more careful, that he hath made us more 
jealous, more watchful. These mercies and favours will make others sweet 
unto us. 

And then learn to prize and value the mercies of God, which will not be 
unless we compare them with our own unworthiness. Lay his mercies 
together with om- own unworthiness, and it will make us break forth into 
blessing of God, when we consider what we are ourselves, as Jacob said, 
' less than the least of God's mercies,' Gen. xxxii. 10. 

We forget God's mercies every day. He strives with our unthankful- 
uess. The comparing of his mercies with our unworthiness, and our 
desei-t on the contrary, will make us to bless God for his goodness and 
patience, that he will not only be good to us, in not inflicting that which 
our sins have deserved. * Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ.' 

And, to name no more but this one, above all, beg of God his Hohj 
Spint. For this blessing of God is nothing else but a vent from the Spirit. 
For as organs and wind instruments do never sound except they be blown, 
they are dead and make no music till there be breath put into them ; so 
we are dead and dull instruments. Therefore it is said, we are ' filled with 
the Holy Ghost,' Acts ix. 17. All God's childi-en, they are filled with the 
Spirit before they can praise God. The Spirit stirs them up to praise him, 
and as it gives them matter to praise him ; for so it gives the sacrifice of 
praise itself. God gives to his children both the benefits to bless him for, 
and he gives the blessing of a heart to bless him. And we must beg both 
of God ; beg a heart able to discern spiritual favours, to taste and relish 
them, and to see our own unworthiness of them ; and beg of God his Holy 
Spirit to awaken, and quicken, and enlarge our dead and dull hearts to praise 
his name. 

Let us stir up our hearts to it, stir up the Spirit of God in us. Every 
one that hath the Spirit of God should labour to stir up the Spirit. As 
St Paul writes to Timothy, 2 Tim. i. 6, and as David stirs up himself, 
' Praise the Lord, my soul : and all that is within me, praise his holy 
name,' Ps. ciii. 1, seq., so we should raise up ourselves, and stir up our- 
selves, to this duty. 

And shame ourselves. What ! hath God freed me from so great misery ? 
And hath he advanced me to so happy an estate in this world ? Doth he 
put me in so certain a hope of glory in the world to come ? Have I a 
certain promise to be carried to salvation ? that neither * things present, 
nor things to come, shall be able to separate me from the love of God in 
Christ Jesus ' ? Horn. viii. 38. Doth he renew his mercies eveiy day upon 
me ? And can I be thus dead, can I be thus dull-hearted "? Let us shame 
ourselves. ^ And certainly if a man were to teach a child of God a ground 
of humiliation, if a child of God that is in the state of grace should ask 
how he might grow humble and be abased more and more, a man could 

* Qu. 'often?'— £d. 



26 



COMMENT.UIY ON 



give no one direction better than this, to consider how God hath been 
good continually; how he hath been patient and good, and upon what 
ground we hope that he will be so ; and to consider the disposition of our 
own drooping, di-owsy souls. If this will not abase a soul that hath tasted 
the love and mercy of God, nothing in the world will do it. There never 
was a child of God of a dull temper and disposition, but he was ashamed 
that, being under such a covenant of favour, that he should yet not have a 
heart more enlarged to bless God. 

To stir us up to this duty, for arguments to persuade us, what need we 
use «nany ? 

1 . It should be our duty in this world to be as mucJi in heaven and heavenly 
employment. ' Our conversation is in heaven,' saith the apostle, Phil. iii. 
20. How can we be in heaven more than by practising of that which the 
saints and angels, and the cherubins and seraphins, spend all their 
strength in there ? How do they spend all that blessed strength with 
cheerfulness and joy, that are in that place of joy ? How do they spend 
it but in setting forth the praise of God, the wonderful goodness of God, 
that hath brought them to that happiness ? Certainly that which we shall 
do for ever in heaven, we ought to do as much as we may do on earth. 

2. And it is, as I said before, in all afflictions and troubles the only special 
way to mitigate them, to work our hearts to thankfulness for mercies and favours 
that ice enjoy. We have cause indeed at the first to be abased and humbled ; 
but we have more cause to rejoice in working our hearts to comfort, in 
blessing of God. It will ease the cross, any cross whatsoever. I will not 
dwell further upon the point. I shall have occasion oft to digress upon 
this duty. 

The object of praise here is God, clothed with a comfortable descrip- 
tion ; not God simply, for, alas ! we have no hearts to praise God, take 
God only armed with justice, clothed with majesty. Consider God thus, 
indeed he deserves glory and praise, but the guilty soul will not praise him 
thus considered, and abstracted from mercy, and goodness, and love. There- 
fore saith he, 'Blessed be God.' God how considered ? ' Blessed be God, 
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 

First, he is Father of Christ, and then Father of mercies, and God of 
comfort. God, so considered, be blessed ! 

Obs. God, as he is to be prayed unto, so he is to be praised, and only God. 

This sacrifice, this perfume, this incense, it must not be misspent upon 
any creature. We have all of his grace, and we should return all to his glory. 
That is a duty. But consider him as he is described here, first, ' the Father 
of Christ,' and then the ' Father of mercies, and God of all comfort.' And 
it is not to be omitted, that first begins with this. 

1. * Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Not the Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ only as he is God, but the Father of our Lord 
Jesua Christ as ho is man. For God being the Father of whole Christ, 
being Father of the person, he is Father of the manhood, taken into unity 
with that person. So he is Father both of God and man. They cannot 
be divided in Christ. He being the Father of whole Christ, he is the 
Father of God and man. And he is first the Father of Christ, and then the 
Father of us, and the Father of mercies. For, alas ! unless he had been 
the Father of Christ, God and man, mediator, he could never have been 
the Father of such cursed creatures as we are. But because he is the 
Father of Christ, of that blessed manhood, which Christ hath taken into 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 27 

unity of person with the Godhead, therefore he is the Father of us who bv 
union are one with Christ. ' ^ 

The point then is, that, 

Doct. God, thus considered, as the Father of Jesus Christ, is to he praised 
Here is the reason of blessing and praising him, in this, that he is the 
father oi Jesus Christ, for thence he comes to be our Father. It is a 
point that we think not oft enough on, but it is the ground of all comfort- 
for we have all at the second hand. Christ hath all first, and we have all 
trom him. He is the first Son, and we are sons. He is the first beloved 
of God, and we are beloved in him. He is filled first with all grace, and 
we are filled from him : ' of his fuhiess we receive grace for grace,' John 
1. 16. He was first acquitted of our sins, as our surety, and then we are 
justified, because he was justified from our sins, being our surety He is 
ascended into heaven, we shaU ascend. He sits at the riaht hand of God 
and we sit with him in heavenly places. He judgeth,"we shall judge.* 
Whatsoever we do, Christ doth it first. We have it in Christ, and through 
Christ, and from Christ. He is the Father of Christ, and our Father 
_ Use I. Therefore we ought to bless God for Christ, that he would predes- 
tinate Christ to be our Head, to be our Saviom-; that he would take the 
human nature of Christ and make it one person with his divine nature and 
BO predestinate us, and elect, and choose us to salvation in him. Blessed 
be God, that he would be the Father of Jesus Christ ! 

Use 2. And as this should stir us up to bless God for Jesus Christ so 
likewise it shoidd direct us to comfortable meditations, to see our nature in 
Christ first, and then in ourselves. See thy nature abased in Christ, see thv 
nature glorified in Christ, see thy nature filled with all grace in Christ and 
see this, that thou art knit to that nature, thou art flesh of Christ's flesh 
and bone of his bone, and thou shalt be so as he is. In that Christ's nature 
was fii-st abased, and then glorified, this nature shall first be abased to 
death and dust, and then be glorified. Christ died, ' and rose again, ' Rom 
XIV. 9. Thou art predestinated to be conformable to Christ. For as his 
flesh was fii-st humbled and then glorious, so thine must be first humble 
and then glorious. His flesh was holy, humble, and glorious, and so must 
?"?"^ Sf • . Whatsoever we look for m ourselves, that is good, we must see 
it m Christ first. 

And when we hear in the gospel, in the articles of the creed, of Christ 

''•T. V '/ r^^'f * P'""^' °^ ^^""*^ ^^'^^g' ascending, and sitting at the 
rigut hand ot God ; let us see ourselves in him, see ourselves dyina in him 
and rising m him, and sitting at the right hand of God. For the same God 
that raised Christ natural, will raise Christ mystical. He will raise whole 
Christ ; for he is not glorified by pieces. As whole Christ natural, in his 
body and members, was raised, so shall whole Christ mystical be There- 
fore in every article of the creed bless God, bless God for abasing of Christ 
bless God for raising him up, bless God for raising us up. ' Blessed be 
God who hath raised us up to an immortal hope, by the resurrection of 
Christ, saith St Peter, 1 Peter i. 3. Bless God for the ascension of Christ 
that our head is m heaven. Let us bless God, not for personal favours only' 
but go to the sprmg. Bless God for shewing it to Christ, and to us in him' 
ihis point the apostle had learned well. Therefore he begins with praise 
'Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ' If the Virgin Mary 
thought herself blessed, ' and all generations should call her blesse'd,' Luke 
1. 48, for bearing our Saviour in her womb, and so being his mother, then 
* ' Him ' is added here, an evident misprint. — G. 



28 OOMMENTAEY ON 

all generations must needs do this duty to call God blessed, because he is 
the Father of Christ. So God the Father is to be blessed as the spring of 
favours ; for he gave Christ, All generations call the Virgin Mary blessed, 
because she was the mother of Christ : but that was in a lower degree than 
God was his Father. This point ought to take up our meditations, to think 
we have aU in Christ first. To think of ourselves in Christ, it is comfort- 
able ; and Christ shall have more glory by it. God the Father and the Son 
shall have glory by it, and we shall have comfort. 

The second consideration of God is, not only as he is the Father of Christ, 
but as he is 

2. ' The Father of mercies.'' God is the Father of Christ, and our Father, 
* and the Father of mercies.' But as I said before in this method, he is 
first the Father of Christ, and then our Father, and then * the Father of mer- 
cies.' For he could never be the Father of mercies to us, except he were 
the Father of Christ. For mercy must see justice contented.- One attri- 
bute in God must not devour another. All must have satisfaction. His 
justice must have no wrong. Nor it hath not now. It is fully satisfied by 
Christ. 

Therefore God is the Father of Christ, that Christ in our nature might 
die for us, and so he might be our Father notwithstanding our sins, having 
punished our sins in our siu-ety, Christ. So being the Father of Christ, and 
our Father, he is the Father of mercies ; his justice hath no loss by it. 

If God had not found out a way, out of the bowels of his mercy, how he 
might shew good to us, by reconciling mercy and justice in the mediator 
Christ, in punishing him for our sins, to set us free, he had never been 
a Father of mercy ; if he had not been the Father of Christ first. For we 
being in such contrary terms as God and we were, he being holiness, and 
we nothing but a mass of sin and corruption ; without sufficient satisfaction 
of an infinite person there could be no reconciliation. Therefore he is the 
Father of Christ, who died for us. He took our nature upon him to satisfy 
God's justice, and then Father of us, and so Father of mercy to us. 

He may well be the Father of mercies now, being the Father of Christ, of 
our nature in Christ : for, as I said, he is the Father of Chi-ist as man, as 
well as he is God. Being the Father of our nature, being taken into the 
unity with his own Son's nature, for both make one Christ, he becomes * the 
Father of mercies.' He is a Father to him by nature, to us by grace and 
adoption. * The Father of Christ, and Father of mercies.' It is a necessary 
method, for God out of Christ is a fountain indeed, but he is a ' fountain 
sealed up.' He is a God merciful and gracioiis in his own nature, but 
there is sin that stops the fountain, that stops the current of the mercy. 
There must be therefore satisfaction to his justice and wrath, before there 
can be reconciliation, before there can any mercy flow from him. He is 
first the Father of Christ, and then the ' Father of mercies.' We have all 
from Christ. If he were not the Father of Christ, he should be the Father 
of nobody ; for immediatelyf no man is able to appear before God without 
a mediator. 

' Father of mercies.' By Father, which is a kind of hebraism (/), is meant 
be is the original, the spring of mercies, he is the ' Father of mercies.' He 
doth not say the Father of one mercy, but the * Father of mercies.' His 
mercy is one ; it is his nature, it is himself. As he is one, so mercy in 
him is one. It is one in the fountain, but many in the streams. It is one 
* That is, ' satisfied.'— G. f That is, ^ ' in Iiimself.'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 29 

in him, one nature, and one mercy. But because we have not one sin, 
but many sins, we have not one misery, but many, that lies upon this frail 
nature of ours. Therefore according to the exigencies of us wretched 
creatures, according to our sins and miseries, his mercies stream out. They 
ai'e derived* and run out to all kind of sin and misery v/hatsoever. 

' The Father of mercies.' If all mercies were lost, they must be found in 
him. He is ' the Father of mercies.' They are his bowels, as it were, and 
mercy pleaseth him as a man is pleased with his own natural child, f ' The 
Father of mercies.' He doth not say the Author of mercies, but the Father 
of them. He gives them the sweetest name that can be. He doth not say 
the Father of revenge, or of judgment, though he be the Father of them too ; 
but to his children the Father of mercies. A sweet name under which none 
should despair ! 

But to shew some reasons why he is so styled. 

1. There is good reason. Being the Father of Christ, his justice being fully 
contented, sin being taken away that stopped the current of his mercies, 
he being naturally merciful, his mercies run freely, ' Father of Christ, and 
Father of mercies.' It follows well. He is the Father of mercies, because 
he is the Father of Christ ; and because his justice is satisfied in him, and 
he being naturally merciful, what hinders but that mercy may run amain, 
freely, and abundantly upon those that are in covenant with him in Chrst, 
that are members of Christ. That is one reason, because his justice is 
satisfied. 

2. And because he is naturally merciful, therefore he is the * Father oi 
mercies.' The sea doth not more naturally flow, and is moist, and the sun 
doth not more naturally shine, the fire doth not more naturally bum, heavy 
bodies do not more naturally sink to the centre, than God doth naturally 
shew pity and mercy where his justice is satisfied ; for it is his nature, it is 
himself. 

The apostle doth not name other attributes, for, alas ! other attributes 
would scare us. As, for example, if the guilty conscience consider him as 
a God of justice, it will reason thus : What is this to me ? I am a sinner, 
and he will be just in punishing. If he consider he is a God of wisdom, 
the conscience considers he is the more wise to find out my -n^indings and 
turnings from him, and my covering of my sins ; he is the more wise to 
find me out in my courses, and to shame me. He doth not say, he is a God 
of power, the father of power. The guilty conscience then would reason, 
he is the more able to crush me and to send me^to hell. 

Indeed, there is no attribute of God, but it k matter of terror, being 
secluded from mercy ; but considering God the Father of mercies, then we 
may consider sweetly and comfortably of all other attributes. He is mer- 
ciful and good to me ; therefore his wisdom, that shall serve to do me 
good, to devise good things for me ; his power shall serve to free me 
from mine enemies ; his justice to revenge my quarrel ; and so all otlier 
attributes shall be serviceable to my comfort. They may be thought 
upon sweetly, where mercy is laid claim unto before. Therefore, here he 
is called ' the Father of mercies,' and not the Father of other attributes. 

' Of mercies.' To unfold the word a little, ' mercy' is here the same with 
grace to a person in misery. Mercy is but free favour shewed to a miser- 
able person. Grace shews the freeness of it, and mercy shews the state of 

* That is, ' transmitted.'— G. 

t That is, = ' marriage-born, not in the modern sense, in Scotland, of illegiti- 
mate.' — G. 



30 COMMENTABY ON 

the person to whom it is shewn. Alway where mercy is, either there 13 
present or else possible misery. 

There was mercy shewed to angels that stood, to free them, to give them 
grace to stand. They might have fallen as the de-vils did when they were 
angels. None are the subjects of mercy, but such as either are in misery, 
or are possible to fall into miser}'. Now, when God keeps and upholds the 
creatm'e from falling into that which he is subject to fall into (he being a 
creature taken out of nothing, and therefore subject to fall to nothing with- 
out assistance), to hold him from that whereto he would fall without being 
upheld, this makes him the object of mercy, whatsoever the misery be, 
spiritual or outward. 

Thus Grod is the Father of mercy ; he upholds his children from that 
which else they would fall into continually. He is ' the Father of mercy,' 
before conversion, offering and enjoining mercy to them, that as they will 
be good to their souls, they would receive mercy. He joins his glory and 
his mercy together, that he will be glorified in shewing mercy ; and he 
presseth it upon us. What a mercy is this, that he should press mercy 
upon us for our own good ? ' Why will ye die, house of Israel,' Jer. 
xxvii. 13. And, ' Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,' 
Mat. xi. 28. There is mercy before conversion. And there is mercy in 
prolonging his wrath, in not punishing ; and there is mercy in pardoning 
sin freely, in pardoning all sin, the punishment and the guilt, and all. And 
when we are in the state of grace, and have our sins pardoned, still it is his 
mercy to forbear the punishments due to us, in mitigating his corrections, 
and in seasonable corrections. For it is a mercy for God to correct his 
children seasonably. * Therefore we are corrected of God, that we should 
not be damned with the world,' 1 Cor. xi. 32. 

It is a mercy to have seasonable correction. It is a mercy to have cor- 
rection mitigated and sweetened with some comforts. It is a mercy after 
we are in the state of grace, besides this, to have the continuance of out- 
ward blessings. 

God renews his mercies every day. His mercies fail not,' Lament, iii. 
22. His mercies are renewed continually upon us. 

So he is Father of all kind of mercies; privative* mercies, in freeing 
us from ill ; and positive mercies, in bestowing good. Pardoning mercies, 
healing mercies, preserving mercijes, all mercies come from this Father of 
I will not stand to unfold them in particular ; for indeed every thing that 
comes from God to his children, it is a mercy. It is as it were dipt in 
mercy before it comes to us. It is a mercy, that is, there is a freedom in 
it, and a pity to his creature. For the creature is alway in some neces- 
sity and in some dependence. We are in a state of necessities in this 
life, in some misery or other, and that, as I said, is the object of mercy. 

Besides, we are dependent for the good we have. It is at God's mercy 
to continue or to take away any comfort that he gives us. Every thing is 
a mercy. And in every thing we take from God we ought to conceive a 
mercy in it, and to think this is a mercy from God. If we have health, it 
is a mercy ; if we have strength, it is a mercy ; if we have deliverance, it 
is a mercy. It comes in the respect and relation of a mercy, all that comes 
from God. He is not said to be the father of the thing ; but the ' Father 
of mercies.' There is a mercy contained in the thing. They come from 
the pity and love of God, and that is the sweetest. Therefore, he is said 
to be the ' Father of mercies.' 

* That is, = ' negative.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 81 

Quest. What use may we make of this, that God is tlie * Father of 
mercies ' ? 

Ans. It is a point full of sweet and comfortable uses, to those that are 
not in the state of grace, and to those that are in the state of grace. 

Use 1. To those that are not in the state of grace, they should see here a 
haven to flee to ; a city of refuge to flee unto. Do but consider, thou wretched 
soul, how God is styled a * Father of mercies ' to thee, a God of bounty. 
All is to allure thee to repentance, to allm-e thee to come in. He is not 
merciful by accident, but he is naturally merciful in himself. He hath 
bowels of mercy in himself. * Mercy pleaseth him,' Micah vii. 18. 

Therefore, despair not, thou drooping soul, whosoever thou art that are 
under the guilt of sin ! come to the Father of mercies ! cast thyself into 
this sea of his mercy ! hide thyself in these bowels ! be not an enemy to 
thine own mercy ! As Jonah saith, ' Refuse not th}^ own mercy,' Jonah 
ii. 8, that is offered. There is mercy pressed upon thee, mercy with 
threatening if thou beUeve not mercy, now thou art called to receive it. 
The wrath of God hangs over thee as a weight, or as a sword ready to fall 
upon thee. As Christ saith, ' The wrath of God hangs over us,' John 
iii. 36, if we do not receive mercy offered us. 

Allege not thy sins against mercy. Thy sins are the sins of a creature ; 
God is the ' Father of mercies.' He is infinite. Christ thy Saviour hath 
made an infinite satisfaction, and thy sins are finite, and in that respect 
there is mercy for thee if thou wilt come in, if thou apprehend and receive 
mercy. 

' One deep calls upon another deep,' Ps. xhi. 7. The depth of thy sins 
and misery draws unto it, and calls upon the depth of mercy. * The mercy 
of God is above all his works,' Ps. cxlv. 9. It is not only above all his 
works to cover them all, and under them to uphold them, but it is beyond 
them all. His mercy exceeds all other attributes to the creature. It is 
above his works, and upon his works, and under his works, and it is above 
thy works too. He is more glorious in his mercy than in any other attri- 
bute. He doth all for the glory of his mercy, both in the creation and in 
the gospel. His mercy, therefore, is above his own works, and above thy 
works if tliou come in. 

Oil is of a kingly nature. It swims above all other Hquids. So the 
mercy of God, like oil, it swims above all other attributes in him, and above 
aU sin in thee, if thou wilt receive it. 

* Father of mercies.' In a corrupt estate the special mercy is forgiving 
mercy. If it were not for forgiving mercies, all other gifts and mercies 
were to little purpose. For it were but a reserving of us to eternal judg- 
ment, but a feeding the traitor to the day of execution, a giving him the 
liberty of the prison, which is nothing unless his treason be pardoned. So 
the forgiving mercy leads to all the rest. Nov.^ these forgiving mercies, they 
are unlimited mercies, there is no bounds of them. For he being the 
Father of Christ, who is an infijiite person, and having received an infinite 
satisfaction from an infinite Person, he may well be infinitely merciful ; and 
himself is an infinite God. His mercies are like himself. The satisfaction 
whereby he may be merciful is infinite. Hereupon it is that he may par- 
don, and will pardon all sin without limitation, if they be never so great, 
never so many. 

This I observe, the rather to appease the conscience of a sinner when it 
is suppressed* with terror and fear of the greatness of his sins. Consider 
* Qu. ' oppressed? — G. 



32 COMMENTARY ON 

how God hath set down himself, and will be known and apprehended of us, 
not only as merciful, but a ' Father of mercies,' and not of one mercy, but 
of aU mercies, not only giving, but, forgiving especially, ' Which forgiveth 
all thy sins, and healeth all thy infirmities,' Ps. ciii. 3. This I observe 
against a proneness in us to despair. We are not now proner in the time 
of peace to presume, than when conscience is awakened, to despair ; we are 
prone to both alike. For here is the poison of man's corruption. Is God 
80 merciful ? Surely, I may go on in sin, and cry God mercy, and there 
is an end. God is merciful, nay, the Father of mercies. 

Now, in the time of peace, sin is nothing with us. Swearing is nothing, 
rotten discourse is nothing, going beyond others in our dealing and com- 
merce is nothing, getting an estate by fi-aud and deceit is nothing. * The 
bread of deceit is sweet,' Prov. xx. 17. Loose, licentious, libertine life, is 
nothing. And those that do not follow the same excess, and are [not] dis- 
solute, it is a strange matter with us,' they are strange people. We think 
it strange that others do not so, and if they be better than we, it is but 
hypocrisy. Men measure all by themselves. So all is nothing. Great, 
gross swearing is nothing. Men glory in it, and to make scruple of it, it 
is thus and thus. They have terms for it. And what is the bawd* for all 
this ? Oh ! God is merciful, and Christ he is wondrous mercifd : he took 
our nature that he might die for us, &c. 

It is true indeed. But when the conscience is awakened, then the con- 
science will tell thee another lesson. The conscience will set God as just, 
and Satan will help conscience with accusations and aggravations. It is 
true, it is too true. The conscience will take part with God and with his 
word. It is true thou hast done thus and thus. These are thy sins, and 
God is just. 

And especially at the hour of death, when earthly comforts fail, and there 
is nothing but sin set before a man's eyes, the comforts that are set before 
him can do him no good. Then the conscience will hardly f receive any 
comfort : especially the consciences of such as have gone on in a course of 
sin, in spite of good means. A conscience of such a man as either refuseth 
or rejects the means, because it would favour itself in sin ; or a conscience 
that being under means, having had its sins discovered to it, that conscience 
will hardly admit of any comfort. And there is none, but they find it 
another manner of matter than they think it. Sin is a blacker thing than 
they imagine. Their oaths that they trifle with, and their dissolute and 
their rotten discourse, when they should be better affected |, upon the Sab- 
bath, and such like. Therefore we ought to look to it. 

Well ! to press this point of presumption a little further, now I am in 
it, we are wondrous prone to abuse this mercy to presumption, and after 
to despair. 

I consider this beforehand, that however God's mercy be unlimited, as 
indeed it is in itself, it is so unlimited to those that repent, and to those 
that receive and embrace mercy, and mercy in one kind as well as another. 
It is so to those that repent of their sins. For God is so the ' Father 
of mercy,' as that he is the ' God of vengeance ' too, Deut. xxxii. 5. He 
is a just God too. 

The conscience will tell you this well enough, when the outward com- 
forts, that now you dally with and set as gods in the room of God, and 
drown yourselves in sensuality and idolatry with the creature, and put them 

* Sic Qu. ' bode ?' = bid, meaning bait. — G. 

t That is, ' affectioned' = disposed. — G. t That is, ' with difficulty.' — G, 



2 COi'JNTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 33 

in the place of God, — when they arc taken away, conscience will tell yor 
that God is merciftd indeed ; but he is just to such that refuse mercies. 

Therefore, though his mercy be unlimited to such as are broken-hearted 
to such as repent of their sins (for he will glorify his mercy as he may 
glorify his other attributes), he is wisely merciful. If he should be mer- 
ciful to such as go on in sin, he should not be wisely merciful. 

Who among men, if he be wise, would be merciful to a child or servant 
without acknowledgment of the fault ? 

Was not David over- merciful to Absalom ? Yes ; it was his fault. Yet, 
out of wisdom, he would not admit him into his presence till he was 
humbled for his fault and made intercession, though he doated upon him, 
2 Sam. xiv. 28. God is infinitely wise, as he is merciful. Therefore , ha 
will not be merciful to him that goes on in wickedness and sin. ''This 
cannot be too often pressed, for the most of the auditors, wheresoever v.'t! 
speak, the devil hath them in this snare, that God is merciful, &c. Ami 
doth he not know how to use it ? He is so indeed, but it is to repentant 
souls that mean to break off their course of sin. 

Otherwise, if the mercy of God work the other way, hearken to thy 
doom, ' He that blesseth himself,' saith God by Moses, and saith, ' These 
curses shall not come to me,' he that blesseth himself and saith. Oh, all 
shall be well, God is merciful, &c., ' my Avi'ath shall smoke against him,' 
Deut. xxix. 16, 20, and I will not be merciful to him that goes on in his 
sins. God will ' wound the hahy scalp of him that goes on in sin,' Ps. 
Ixviii. 21. As the apostle saith, he that abuseth the bounty and patience 
of God, that should lead him to repentance, ' he treasureth up wrath 
against the day of wrath,' Rom. ii. 5. The Scripture is never in any case 
more terrible than this way. In Isa. xxviii. 15, ' You have made a cove- 
nant with hell and death,' with God's judgments ; but hell and death hath 
not made a covenant with you. You make a covenant, and think you shall 
do well ; but God is terrible to such. His wrath shall smoke against such 
as make a covenant with his judgments, and treasure up wrath against the 
day of wrath. 

Take heed. IS the proclamation of mercy call thee not in, if thou stand out 
as a rebel and come not in, but go on still, then justice lays hold on thee, 
God's wrath shall smoke against thee, as we see in Prov. i. 26, ' I will 
laugh at your destruction,' speaking of those that would not come in • 
and as* it is in Isa. xxvii. 11, 'He that formed them and made them 
will have no mercy on them, nor shew them favour.' He will have no de- 
light in them. They are ignorant sots, and will not labour to know God 
and his will, to do and obey it. ' Ho that made them will have no de- 
light in them, and he that formed them will reject them.' It is a pitiful 
thing when God, that made them and fonned them in their mother's womb, 
whose creatures they are, shall have no delight in them ; when he that 
made them, his heart shall not pity them, Ezek. xviii. 18. He that goes 
on in a course of sin presumptuously and doth not repent, God's eye shall 
not pity him. ' He that made him will have no delight in him.' 

Therefore the apostle, because we are disposed and prone to abuse the 
goodness and longsuffering of God and the mercies of Christ, he saith, 
' Be not deceived, be not deceived' (he oft presseth this), * for neither the 
covetous nor licentious persons shall enter into heaven,' 1 Cor. vi. 10. 

Though God be merciful, if thou live in these sins, be not deceived, 

* By a strange misprint, the words ' and as,' appear in the unmeaning form of 
' Chidas,' in the folio. It is plain that ' and as' was intended Ly Sihhes. — G. 

VOL. III. 



34 COMMENTARY ON 

thou shalt never enter into heaven. God will not be merciful to the 
most of those that even now live in the bosom of the church, because 
they make mercy a baud to their sinful courses. God will harden him- 
self. He will not bless such. He hath no mercy for such. To such he 
is a God of vengeance. 

His mercy is to such as are weary of their sinful courses. As I said, 
he is merciful, but so as he is wise. 

What prince will prostitute a pardon to one that is a rebel, and yet 
thinks himself a good subject all the while ? He is no rebel ; cares he 
for a pardon ? and shall he have a pardon when he cares not for it ? 
Those that are not humbled in the sight and sense of their sins, that 
think themselves in a good estate, they are rebels, that have not sued out 
their pardon. There is no mercy to them yet. ' He that made them will 
not pity them,' because they are ignorant, hardened wretches, that live in 
blasphemy, in swearing, in corrupt courses, in hardness of heart, that live 
in sins, that their own conscience and the conscience of others about them 
know that they are sins, devouring sins, that devour all their comfort ; and 
3'et, notwithstanding, they dream of mercy. Mercy ! Hell is their por- 
tion, and not mercy, that make an idol of God. 

Thus it is with us ; we are prone to presume upon God's mercy. I 
speak this that we should not surfeit of this sweet doctrine, that God is 
the ' Father of mercies.' He is so to repentant sinners, to those that 
believe. To those mercy is sweet. We know oil is above all liquors. 
God's mercy is above all his own works and above our sins. But what is 
the vessel for this oil ? This oil of mercy, it is put in broken vessels ; it 
is kept best there. A broken heart, a humble heart, receives and keeps 
mercy. 

As for proud dispositions, as all sinners that go on in a course of sin, 
the psalmist terms them proud men ; he is a proud man that sets his own 
will against God's command. ' God resists the proud,' James iv. 6. It 
is the humble, yielding heart, that will be led and lured by God, that is a 
vessel to receive mercy. It must be a deep vessel, it must be a broken 
vessel, deep with humiliation, broken by contrition, that must receive 
mercy. And it must be a large vessel laid open, capable to receive mercy, 
and all mercy, not only pardoning mercy, but healing mercy, as I said out 
of that psalm, ' That forgiveth all thy sins, and healeth all thy transgres- 
sions,' Ps. ciii. 3. 

Therefore those that have not grace and mercy, to heal then' corruptions, 
to dry up that issue in some comfortable measure, they have no pardoning 
mercy ; and those that desire not their corruptions to be healed, they 
never desire heartily their corruptions to be pardoned. Those mercies go 
together. 

He is not the ' Father of mercy,' but of all mercies that belong to salva- 
tion, and he gives them every one, and he that desires the one, desires the 
other. 

Let us consider how the sweet descriptions of God, and how his pro- 
mises work upon us. If they work on us to make us presume, it is a fear- 
ful case. It is as bad a sign as may be, to be ill, because God is good, ' to 
turn the grace of God into wantonness,' Jude ver. 4. 

But as we are thus prone to presume ; so when conscience is awaked we 
are as prone to despair. Therefore if they work with us this way, ' there is 
mercy with God, therefore I will come in ;' * therefore I will cast down my 
weapons at his feet,' ' I will cease to resist him,' ' I wiU come in, and take 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. B. 35 

terms of peace with him,' ' I will yield him obedience for the time to come;' 
' therefore I will fear and love so good a God.' If it work thus, it is a 
sign of an elect soul, of a gracious disposition. And then if thou come 
in, never consider what thy sins have been; if thou come in, God will 
embrace thee in his mercy. Thy sins are all as a spark of fire that falls 
into the ocean, that is drowned presently. So are thy sins in the ocean of 
God's mercy. 

There is not more light in the sun, there is not more water in the sea, 
than there is mercy in the ' Father of mercy,' whose bowels are opened to 
thee if thou be weary of thy sinful courses, and come in, and embrace 
mercy. 

In the tabernacle, we know, there was a mercy-seat. We call it a pro- 
pitiatory. In the ark, which this mercy-seat covered, was the law. Now 
in the law there were curses against all sinners. 

The mercy-seat was a type of Chi-ist, covering the law, covering the 
curse. Though thou be guilty of the curse a thousand times, God in 
Christ is merciful. Christ is the mercy-seat. Come to God in Christ. 
There is mercy in Israel notwithstanding thy gi-eat sins. If we cast away a 
purpose of Hving in sin, and cast away our weapons, and submit ourselves 
to him, he is the Father of mercies. That is, he is merciful from himself, 
he is the spring of them, and hath them from his own bowels. They are 
free mercies, because he is the Father of them. 

For he is just by our feult, he is severe from us, he takes occasion from 
our sins ; but he is merciful from his own bowels. He is good from him- 
self. We provoke him to be severe and just. Therefore be we never so 
miserable in regard of sin, and the fruits of sin, yet he is the Father of 
mercy, of free mercy ; mercy from himself. ' Mercy pleascth him,' Micah 
vii. 18. He is dehghted in it. 

Now that which is natural comes easily, as water from the fountain 
comes without violence, and heat from the fire comes without any violence, 
because it is natm-al. A mother pities her child, because it is natm-al. 
There is a sweet instinct of nature that moves and pricks forward nature to 
that affection of love that she bears to her child. So it is with God. It is 
nature in him to be merciful to his, because they are his. Mercy is his 
nature. We are his. We being his, his nature being merciful, he will be 
merciful to all that are his, to such as repent of theii- sins, and lay hold of 
his mercy by a true fixith. 

His word shews likewise his mercy. There is not one atti'ibute set down 
more in Scripture than mercy. It is the name whereby he will be known, 
Exod. xxxiv. 6, where he describes it, and tells us his name. What is the 
name of God ? His longsuflfering, and mercy, &c. There is a long de- 
scription of God in that place. David, in Ps. iii., besides that which is in 
every prophet almost, hath the same description of God, to comfort God's 
people in his time. In Ps. Ixxxvi., ciii., cxlv., there is the same descrip- 
tion of God as there is in Moses. He is merciful and longsuflfering, &c. 
He describes himself to be so, and his promises are promises of mercy. 
At what time soever a sinner repents, and without hmitation of sins, all 
sins shall be forgiven. ' The blood of Christ purgeth us from all sin,' 
1 John i. 7. 

If there be no limitation of persons whomsoever, of sins whatsoever, 
or of time whensoever, here is a ground that we should never despair. 
* God is the Father of mercies.' 

It is excellent that the prophet hath, to prevent the thoughts of a de- 



86 COMMENTARY ON 

jected soul, ' Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his 
thoughts, and return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to 
our God, for he will abundantly pardon,' Isa. Iv. 7. 

Obj. Aye, but I have abused mercy a long time ; I have lived in sin, 
and committed great sins. Well, notwithstanding that, see how he answers 
it : * My thoughts are not your thoughts.' You are vindictive. If a man 
offend you, you are ready to aggravate the fault, and to take revenge, &c. 
' But my thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways,' 
saith the Lord ; ' for as far as the heaven is above the earth, so are my 
thoughts above your thoughts, and my w^ays above yom'ways,' Ps. ciii. 11. 
We have narrow, poor thoughts of mercy, because we ourselves are given 
to revenge, and we are ready, when we think of our sins, to say, Can 
God forgive them ? can God be merciful to such ? &c. ' My thoughts 
are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways.' 

It is good to consider this, and it is a sweet meditation ; for the time 
undoubtedly will come, that unless God's mercy and God's thoughts should 
be, as himself is, infinite, unless his ways should be infinitely above our 
ways, and his thoughts infinitely above ours in mercy, certainly the soul 
would receive no comfort. 

The soul of a Christian acquainted with the word of God knows that 
God's mercy is, as himself is, infinite, and his thoughts this w^ay are, as 
himself is, infiaiite. Therefore the Scripture sets down the mercies of 
God by all dimensions. There is the depth of wisdom, but when he 
comes to speak of love and mercy, as it is in Eph. iii. 18, ' Oh, the depth, 
and breadth, and height of this ! ' 

Indeed, for height, it is higher than the heavens ; for depth, it fetcheth 
the soul from the nethermost deep. We have deep misery, ' Out of the 
deep I cried to thee,' Ps. cxxx. 1 ; yet notwithstanding, his mercy is 
deeper than our misery. the depth of his mercy ! There is a depth 
of mercy deeper than any misery or rebellion of ours, though we have 
sunk deep in rebellion. And for the extent of them, as I said before, 
' his mercy is over all his works,' Ps. cxlv. 9. It extends to the utmost 
parts of the earth. The Scripture doth wonderfully enlarge his mercy be- 
yond all dimensions whatsoever. These things are to good purpose ; and 
it is a mercy to us that he sets forth himself in mercy in his word, because 
the soul, sometime or other when it is awakened, as every one that God de- 
lights in is awakened, first or last, it needs all that is, it is all little enough. 

God is merciful to those that are heavy laden, that feel the burden of their 
sins upon their souls. Such as are touched with the sense of their sins, 
God still meets them half-way. He is more ready to pardon than they are 
to ask mercy. As we see in the prodigal, when he had wasted all, when 
he was as low as a man could be, when he was come to husks, and when 
he had despised his father's admonition, yet upon resolution to return, when 
he was stung with the sense of his sins, his father meets him and entertains 
him ; he upbraids him not with his sin, Luke xv. 20, seq. 

Take sin, with all the aggravations we can, yet if we repent and resolve 
upon new courses, there is comfort, though we relapse into sin again and 
again. If we must pardon ten times seven-times, as Christ saith, Luke 
xvii. 4,* certainly there cannot be more mercy in the cistern than there is 

* "With reference to a former note (vol. I. page 231), Sibbes's phrase should have 
been printed ' seventy seven-times.' The question to our Lord was, ' till seven- 
times ? ' ' Yes,' he replied, ' till seventy seven-times,' which is = seventy times 
seven. Sibbes's quotation above is a slip. — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 37 

in the fountain ; there cannot be more mercy in us than there is in the 
' Father of mercies,' as God is. 

Take sin in the aggravations, in the greatness of it, Manassch's sm, 
Peter's denying of his Master, the thief on the cross, and Paul's persecu- 
tion ! Take sin as gi'eat as you will, he is the ' Father of mercies.' If we 
consider that God is infinite in mercy, and that the Scripture reveals him 
as the ' Father of mercies,' there is no question but there is abundance, a 
world of comfort to any disti'essed soul that is ready to cast itself on God's 

mercy. t n j 

Use 2. Fo7- those that are converted, that are in the state of grace — Is God 
' the Father of mercies ?' let this stir ?*s nj) to embrace mercy, every day to 
live by mercy, to 'plead mercy ivith God in our daily breaches ; to love and fear 
God, because there is mercy with him that ' he might bo feared,' Ps.cxxx. 4. 
It is a harder matter to make a daily sweet use of this than it is taken 
for. Those that are the fittest subjects for mercy, they think themselves 
furthest off from mercy. Come to a broken soul, who is catched in the 
snare ; whose conscience is on the rack, he thmks, alas ! there is no mercy 
for me ! I have been such a sinner, God hath shewed me mercy before, and 
now I have offended him again and again. Those that are the subjects of 
mercy, that are the nearest to mercy, when their conscience is awakened, 
they think themselves fm-thest off, and we have need to press abundance of 
mercy, and all little enough to set the soul in frame. There is none of us 
all, but we shall see a necessity of pressmg this one time or other, before 
we die. David when he had sinned, he knew well enough that God was 
merciful. Oh, but it was not a slight mercy that would satisfy him, as we 
see, Ps. U., how he prcsseth upon God for mercy, and will a httle serve 
him? No! 'according to thy abundant mercy,' ver. 1. He i^resseth 
mercy, and abundance of mercy, a multitude of mercies ; and unless he had 
seen infinite mercy, abundant mercy in God, when his conscience was 
awaked with the fouhiess of his sin (there being such a cry for vengeance, 
his sin caUed and cried) ; if the blood of Christ had not cried above it, 
' Mercy, mercy,' and abundance of mercy, multitudes of compassion, the 
soul of Da^-id would not have been stilled. 

So other saints of God, when they have considered the fouhiess of sni, 
how odious it is to God, they could not be quieted and comforted, but that 
they saw mercy, and abundance of mercy. As the apostle St Peter saith, 
' Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, of his abundant 
mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ, to an inheritance, immortal,' &c., 1 Pet. i. 3. 

' God is the Father of mercies.' For faith will not have sufficient footmg, 
but in infinite mercy. In the tune of despair, in the time of torment of 
conscience, in the time of desertion, it must be mercy, and ' the Father of 
mercies,' and multitudes of compassions, and bowels of love ; and all little 
enough for faith to fix on, the faith of a conscience on the rack. But when 
faithlionsiders of God set out— not as Satan sets him forth, a God of ven- 
geance, a ' consuming fire,' Heb. xii. 29,— when faith considers God pictured 
out in the gospel, it sees him the Father of Christ and our Father, and the 
Father of mercies and God of comfort, faith seeing infinite mercy m an 
infinite God ; and secirg mercy triumph against justice, and all other attri- 
butes, here faith hath some footing, and stays itself, or else the converted, 
sanctified soul, seeing the odiousness of sin, and the clamorousness of sm, such 
that it will not be satisfied, but with abundant mercy ; and God must be pre- 
sented to it as a ' Father of mercy ' and compassion, before it can have peace. 



38 COMMENTARY ON 

Therefore, if so be at any time our conscience be awakened, and tbe 
devil lays hard to us, let us think of God as he hath made himself known 
in his word, as a ' Father of mercies and God of comfort,' represent him to 
our souls, as he represents himself in his word. Times of desertion, when 
we seem to be forsaken of God, will enforce this. Times of desertion will 
come, when the soul will think God hath forgotten to be merciful, and hath 
shut up his love in displeasure. Oh, no ! he is the Father of mercy, he 
never shuts up his bowels altogether, he never stops the spring of his mercy. 
He doth to our feeling, but it is his mercy that he doth that ; it is his mercy 
that he hinders the sense of mercy. He doth that in mercy. It is to make 
us more capable of mercy afterward. 

Therefore, saith the Father, when he comes to us in his love, and the 
sense of it, it is for our good ; and when he takes the sense of his love from 
us, it is for our good. For when he takes away the sense of his love fi'om 
us, it is to enlarge our souls to be more capable of mercy after, to prize it 
more, to walk warily, and jealously, to look to our corruptions better. 
Therefore in the time of desertion think of this, when God seems to forget 
us. ' Can a mother forget her child?' Isa. xlix. 15. Suppose she should 
be so u^nnatural as to do it, which can hardly be believed, that a mother 
should forget her child, ' Yet not^\'ithstanding I mil not forget you ; ' you 
are ' written upon the palms of my hands,' ver. 16, that is, I have you 
alway in my eye. So that if there were no mercies to be found in nature, 
no bowels to be found in a mother (where usually they are most abundant), 
yet notwithstanding there is mercy to be found in ' the Father of mercies ' 
still. Therefore in such times let us make use of this. 

And another thing that we ought to learn hence is this, if God be so in 
Christ Jesus, for we must alway put that in, for he is merciful with satis- 
faction. And yet it is his mercy that he would admit of satisfaction. His 
mercy devised a way to content justice. His mercy set all on work. Mercy 
is above justice in the work of salvation. Justice hath received content- 
ment from mercy. But that by the way, to make us have higher thoughts 
of mercy, than any other attribute of God in the doctrine of the gospel, in 
that kingdom of Christ. It is a kingdom of grace and mercy, if we have 
hearts to embrace it. 

Let this encourage us to come to God, and to cast ourselves into the 
arms of this merciful Father. If we have lived in other courses before, let 
the mercy of God work upon our souls. In Rom. ii. 4, it is pressed there 
excellently. ' This mercy of God should lead us to repentance,' it should 
encourage us. What makes a thief or a traitor come in, when there is pro- 
clamation out against him ? If there be a pardon sent after him, it makes 
him come in, or else he runs out still further and further, while the hue and 
ciy pursues him. But hope of mercy and pardon will bring him in again. 
So it is that that brings us in again to God, the very hope of mercy and 
pardon. If we be never so ill, or have been never so ill, do not put off, but 
take this day now; * Now is the time,' now, * while it is called to-day,' Ps. 
xcv. 7, 8, take the present time. Here is our error, if God be ' the Father 
of mercy,' I will cry him mercy at the hour of death. Aye, thou mayest go 
to hell with mercy in thy mouth. He is merciful to those that truly repent. 
But how dost thou know that thy repentance on thy deathbed will be true ? 
It is not soiTow for sickness, and grief for death, and fear of that. But 
there must be a hatred of sin. And how shall conscience tell thee now thou 
hast repented, that it is a hating of thy sinful courses, rather than the fear 
of damnation ? that is rather from the sense of grief. Conscience will 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VKR. 3. 39 

hardly be comforted ia this, for it will upbraid. Aye, now, now j'ou would 
have mercy. 

We see by many that have recovered again, that have promised great 
matters in their sickness, that it is hypocritical repentance, for they have 
been worse after than they were before (f^). It is not a sufficient matter to 
yield thee comfort, that thou art much humbled in thy sickness, and at the 
hour of death ; for it is hard for thee to determine whether it be true repent- 
ance, or mere sorrow for sin as it brings judgment. Fear of damnation is 
not sufficient to bring a man to heaven. Thy nature must be changed 
before thou come to heaven. Thou must love righteousness because it is 
righteousness. Thou must love God because he is good. Thou must hate 
sin because it is sin. 

How canst thou tell, when thou hast been naught before affliction, whe- 
ther affliction have wrought this, that thou repentest only out of hatred of 
judgment, to shun that, or out of hatred of sin, because it is sm "? There- 
fore now a httle repentance in thy health, and in the enjoying of thy pro- 
sperity, a little hatred of ill ways now, will more comfort thee than a 
thousand times more prayer and striving wiU then. Although, if thou canst 
do it truly then, yet the gate of mercy is open, but thy heart vvdll scarce 
say it is truly done, because it is forced. 

Then, again, perhaps thou shalt not have the honour of it, thou shalt 
not have the mercy. Thou that hast refused m^rcy, and lived in a loose, 
profane course, thou that hast despised mercy all the while, God will not 
honour thee so much as to have a good word, or a sorrowful word, that 
even very grief shall not extort it from thee. But as thou hast forgotten God 
in thy life, and wouldst not own his admonitions, thou shalt forget thyself 
in death, and be taken away suddenly, or else with some violent disease 
that shall take away the use of the parts that God hath given thee, as in- 
flammation of the spu-its, or the like, that shall take away the use of sound 
reason. It is madness, and no better, to live as the most hve, to cry God 
is merciful, &c. Thou mayest go to hell for all that. Repentance must be 
from a true hatred of sin ; and that that must comfort thee, must be a dis- 
position for the present, for then it is unforced. 

Therefore all these sweet comforts are to you that come in and leave 
your wicked courses. If you have been swearers, to swear no more ; if 
you have been deceivers, to deceive no more ; if you have been licentious, 
to be so no more, but to break off the course of your sins as God shall 
enable you. Or else this one thing, think of it, that you now daub your 
conscience withal, and go on in sin with that, will be most terror to you, 
even mercy. Nothing will vex you so much as mercy afterward. Then thou 
shalt think with thyself, I have heard comfortable [tidings] of the promises, 
and of the nature of God, but I put off and despised all, I regarded my 
sinful courses more than the mercy of God in Chiist, they were sweeter 
to me than mercy. I Uved in sins, out of the abundance of profaneness 
that did me no good ; I lived in sins, out of the superfluity of profaneness 
that I had neither profit nor pleasure by, and neglected mercy. The con- 
sideration of mercy neglected, with the continuing in a wretched com-se, it 
will more aggravate the soul's torment. 

Let us be encouraged to come in. Such as intend to leave their sinful 
courses, let them remember that then they come to a Father of mercy that 
is more ready to pardon than you are to ask it, as you see in the prodigal 
son, which I instanced in before ; it is a notable, sweet story. I have a 
Father, saith he, when he had spent all, and was come to husks, Luke 



40 COMMENTARY ON 

XV. 16. Affliction is a notable means to naake us to taste and relish 
mercy. I have a Father, and there is plenty in his house ; and he 
comes and confesseth his sin. He had no sooner resolved, but his Father, 
he doth not stay for him, but he meets him, and kisseth him, Luke xv. 
20, seq. 

Let us consider of this description of Grod, the Father of mercy. It should 
move any that are in ill and lewd courses before, ' In my Father's house 
there are good things,' and in his heart there are bowels of mercy. I have 
a Father, and a Father of mercy. I will go home, and submit myself to 
him, and say to him, I have been thus and thus, but I will be so no 
more. You shall find that God, by his Spirit, will be readier to meet you 
than you are to cast yourselves at the feet of his mercy, and into the arms 
of his mercy. He will come and meet you, and kiss you. You shall find 
much comfort upon your resolution to come in, if it be a sound resolution. 

The son fears his father's displeasure ; but saith the father, ' My thoughts 
are not as your thoughts.' Oh ! I fear he will not receive me ! Yes, yes, 
he is willing to embrace you. Mercy pleaseth him ; ' and why will you 
perish, house of Israel?' Jer. xxvii. 13. 

Again, ' God is the Father of mercies ' This should stir us up to an 
imitation of this our gracious Father ; for every father begets to his own 
likeness, and all the sons of this Father are like the Father, They are 
merciful. * The kings of Israel are merciful kings,' 1 Kings xx. 31, saith 
the heathen king Benhadad ; and the God of Israel is a merciful God, and 
all that are under God are merciful. His sons are ' merciful as their hea- 
venly Father is merciful, Luke vi. 36. Therefore, if we would make it 
good to our own hearts, and the opinion and judgment of others of us, that 
we are children of this merciful Father, we must put on bowels of mercy 
om-selves as in Col. iii. 12, ' Now, therefore, as the elect of God,' as you 
will make it good that God hath elected you, ' put on the bowels of mercy.' 
Whatsoever we have from God, it comes in the respect of a mercy, and so 
it should do from God's children. Everything that comes from them to 
them that are in misery, it should be a mercy. They should not only be- 
stow the thing, but a sweet mercy with the thing. A child of God he 
pours out his bowels to his brother, as Isaiah saith, ' Pour out thy bowels,' 
&c., Isa. Ixiii. 15. There is some bowels, that is, there is an afiection in 
God's children. They give not only the thing, the relief, but mercy with 
it, that hath a sweet report to the soul. There is pity, that more comforts 
a sanctified soul than the thing itself. We must not do works of mercy 
proudly (r/). It is not the thing that God stands on, but the afiection in 
the thing. His benefits are with a fatherly pity. So should ours be with 
a pitiful respect, with a tender heart. ' The veiy mercies of the wicked 
are cruel,' Prov. xii. 10. If they be merciful, there is some pride of spirit, 
there is some taste of a hard heart, of an hypocritical spirit. Somewhat is 
not as it should be. Their mercies are not mercies. We must in our 
mercy imitate the Father of mercies. 

Alas ! it is the fault of our time. There is little mercy to those that are 
in misery. What a cruel thing is it that so many, I would I could say 
Christian souls, I cannot say so, but they are a company of men that have 
the image of God upon them, men that live miserable poor, such as, for 
aught I know, God's mercy hath purchased with the blood of his Son, and 
may belong to God's kingdom. They have the image of God upon them, yet 
they live without laws, without church, without commonwealth, irregular 
persons, that have no order taken for them, or not executed at the least, to 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I. VER. 3. 41 

repress the sturdy of them, and to relieve those that are to be relieved for 
age or impotency (r/*). 

It is a pitiful thing and a foul blemish to this commonwealth, and will 
bring some ill upon wealth, and plague it from such irregular persons. He 
will plague the commonwealth for such enormities. How do they live ? 
As beasts, and worse. They submit themselves to no orders of the church. 
They have none, and submit to none. Here is an object of mercy to those 
that it concerns. 

And likewise, mercy ought to be shewed to the souls of men, as well as 
to their miserable and wretched estates. Is popery antichristian ? What 
mercy is it to suffer poisoners ? What a mercy were it in a commonwealth 
to suffer men that are incendiaries to have liberty to do what mischief they 
would ? or men that should poison fountains, and all that should refi'esh and 
nourish men ? Were this any policy for the body ? And is it any policy 
to suffer those to poison the judgments of people with heresies to God, and 
treason to their prince ? to draw the affections of men from religion and 
the state, where is merc}^ all the while ? 

Oh ! is it a mercy to them not to restrain them ? Mercy ! Is it mercy 
to the sheep to let the wolves at liberty ? No. If you will be merciful, to 
shew mercy to the souls of these men is to use them hardly, that they may 
know their error. They may now impute the liberty they have to the ap- 
probation of their cause ; and so they are cruel, not only to others, but to 
their own souls. 

I speak this the rather, [that] it may be a seasonable speech at this time, to 
enforce good laws this way. It is a great mercy. Mercy to the soul, it is 
the greatest mercy ; and so cruelty to the soul is the greatest cruelty that 
can be. 

What should I speak of mercy to others ? Oh, that we would be merci- 
ful to our own souls ! God is merciful to our souls. He sent his Son to 
' visit us from on high,' in bowels of compassion. He sent Christ, as 
Zacharias saith, Luke i. 68, and yet we are not merciful to ourselves. How 
many sinful, wretched persons pierce their hearts through with covetous- 
ness, and other wicked courses, that are more dangerous to the soul than 
poison is to the body ! They stab their souls with cares, and lusts, and 
other such kind of courses. What a mockery is this of God, to ask him 
mercy, when wo will not be merciful to our own souls ! and to entreat 
others to pray for us, when we will not be merciful to ourselves ! Shall 
we go to God for mercy, when we will not shew mercy to ourselves ? Shall 
we desire him to spare us, when we will not spare ourselves ? It is a 
mocking of God to come and offer our devotions here, and come with an 
intent yet to live in any sin. God will not hear us, if we purpose to live 
in sin. ' If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer,' 
Ps. Ixvi. 18. As we ought to be merciful to the souls of others, and to 
the estates of others, so we should to our own souls. 

How can they reform evils abroad, those that are governors, when they 
do not care to reform themselves ? Can they be merciful to the souls of 
others, that are cruel to their own ? They cannot. Let mercy begin at 
home. 

This is that that the Scripture aims at. Mercy and the right use of it, 
is the way to come to salvation ; and the abuse of it is that that damns ; 
and they are damned most that abuse mercy. Oh, the sins against the 
gospel will lie upon the conscience another day. The sins against the law, 
they help, with the gospel, to see mercy ; but sins against mercy prefer 



42 COMMENTARY ON 

our sins above mercy ; and in temptations to despair, to extenuate mercy, 
hereafter it will be the veiy hell of hell, that we have sinned against mercy, 
that we have not embraced it with faith, that we have not repented to be 
capable of it. 

Use 8. But to end the point with that which is the most proper use of 
all, which is an use of comfort in all estates, to go to God in all. ' He is the 
Father of mercy.' And when all is taken from us in losses and crosses, to 
think, well, our fathers may die, and our mothers may die, and our nearest 
and dearest friends that have most bowels of pity, may die ; but we have a 
Father of mercy, that hath eternal mercy in him. His mercies are tender 
mercies, and everlasting mercies, as himself is. We are everlasting. Our 
souls are immortal. We have an everlasting Father, that is the ' Father 
of mercies.' When all are taken away, God takes not himself away. He 
is the Father of mercy still. 

Now that we may make ourselves still capable of mercy, still fit for 
mercy, let us take this daily course. 

1. Let us labour every day, to have broken and deep soids. As I said 
before, it is the broken heart that is the vessel that contains mercy, a 
deeper heart that holds all the mercy. We need, therefore, to empty our- 
selves by confession of our sins, and search our own thoughts and ways, 
and afflict our souls by repentance ; and when* we shall be fit objects for 
God the Father of mercy to shed mercy into misery. It is the loadstone 
of mercy, misery left discerned and complained of. Let us search and see 
our misery, our spiritual misery especially ; for God begins mercy to the 
soul in his children, he begins mercy there especially. General mercy he 
shews to beasts, to all creatures ; but special mercy begins at the soul. 
Now, I say, misery being the loadstone of mercy, let us lay before God by 
confession and humiliation, the sores and sins of our souls. And then 
make use of this mercy every day ; for God is not only merciful in 
pardoning mercy at the first, in forgiving our sins at the first, but every 
day he is ready to pardon new sins, as it is Lam. iii. 23, ' He renews 
his mercies every day, every morning.' God renews his mercies not only 
for body, but for soul. There is a throne of grace and mercy every day 
open to go to, and a sceptre of mercy held out every day to lay hold on, 
and a ' fountain for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in every day,' Zech. 
xiii. 1. It is never stopped up, or drawn dry. The fountain is ever open, 
the sceptre is ever held forth, and the throne is ever kept, 

God keeps not terms. Now the Com't of Chancery is open, and now it 
is shut. But he keeps court every day. Therefore Christ in the gospel 
enjoins us to go to God every day. Eveiy day we say the Lord's prayer, 

* forgive us our trespasses,' Luke xi. 4, insinuating that the court of mercy 
is kept every day to take out our pardon. Every day there is a pardon of 
course taken out, ' at what time soever a sinner repents,' &c., 1 Kings viii. 
38, seq. 

QiLest. How shall we improve this mercy every day ? 

Alls. 1. Do this ; when thou hast made a breach in thy conscience, every 
day believe this, that God is ' the Father of mercies,' and he may well be 
merciful now, because he hath been sufficiently satisfied by the death of 
Christ. ' He is the Father of Christ, and the Father of mercies.' This do 
every day. 

2. And withal consider our condition and estate is a state of dependence. 

• In him we live and move and have our being,' Acts xvii. 28. This will 

* Qu. ' then ? '—Ed. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VKK, 3. 43 

force us to mercy, that he would hold us in the same estate we are in, and 
go on with the work of gi-ace, that he would uphold us in health, for that 
depends upon him ; that he would uphold us in peace, for that depends 
upon him : he is ' the God of peace,' 1 Cor. xiv. 33, that he would uphold 
us in comfort and strength, to do good and resist evil. We are in a 
dependent state and condition in all good of hody and soul. He upholds 
the whole world, and every particular. Let him take away his hand of 
merciful protection and sustaining fi'om us, and we sink presently. 

3. And every day consider how we are environed with any danger. 
Remember, we have compassing mercies, as we have compassing dangers, 
as it is, ' Mercy compasseth us round about,' Ps. xxxii. 10. Every day, 
indeed, we have need of mercy. That is the way to have mercy. Here is 
a fountain of mercy, ' the Father of mercy,' bowels opened. The only way 
to use it is to see what need we have of mercy, and to fly to God ; to see 
what need we have in our souls, and in regard of outward estate, and to 
see that our condition is a dependent condition. 

Use 4. And lastly, to make a uae of thankfuluess, ' Blessed be God, the 
Father of mercy,' we have the mercy of jiuhlic contintted peace, u-hen others 
have ivar, and their estates are consumed. * Blessed be God, the Father of 
mercy, we sit under our own vines, and under our own fig-trees,' Micah 
iv. 4. K we have any personal mercies, ' Blessed be God, the Father of 
mercies,' this way. If he shew mercy to our souls, and pardon our sins, 
' Blessed be God, the Father of mercies,' in this kind ; that he hath taken 
us and redeemed us out of that cursed estate, that others walk in that are 
yet in their sins. Oh ! it is a mercy, and for this we should have enlarged 
hearts. 

And withal consider the fearful estate of others, that God doth not shew 
mercy to, and this will make us thankful. As for instance, if a man would 
be thanldul, that hath a pardon, let him see another executed, that is, 
broken upon the wheel or the rack, or cut in pieces and tortured, and then 
he will think, I was in the same estate as this man is, and I am pardoned. 
Oh ! what a gracious Sovereign have I ! The consideration of the fearful 
estate out of mercy, what a fearful estate those are in that live in sins 
against conscience, that they are ready to di'op into hell when God strikes 
them with death ; if they die so, what a fearful estate they are in ! and 
that God should give me pardon and grace to enter into another course of 
life ; that though I have not much grace, yet I know it is true I am the 
child of God ; the consideration of the misery of others, in part in this 
world without repentance, and especially what they shall sufier in hell ; 
to consider the torment of the souls that are not in the state of grace, 
this will make us thankful for mercies, for pardoning and forgiving 
mercies, for protecting mercies, that God hath left thousands in the 
course of nature, going on in a wilful course of sin. This is that that 
the apostle here practiseth. ' Blessed be God, the Father of mercies.' 
The other stj'le here is, 

' The God of all comfort.'' The life of a Christian is a mystery ; as in 
many respects, so in this, that whereas the flesh in him, though he be not 
altogether flesh, thinks him to be a man disconsolate, the spirit finds matter 
of comfort and glory. From whonce the world begins discouragement and 
the flesh upbraiding, from thence the Spirit of God in holy St Paul begins 
matter of glory. They thought him a man neglected of God, because he 
was afiiicted. No ! saith he, ' blessed be the God of all comfort.' Our 



44 COMMENTARY ON 

comforts ai"o above our discomforts. As the wisdom of the flesh is enmity 
to God and his Spirit in all things, so in this, in the judgment of the 
cross ; for that which is bitterest to the flesh is sweetest to the spirit. 
St Paul therefore opposeth his comforts spiritual to his disgraces outward ; 
and because it is unfit to mention any comfort, any good from God with- 
out blessing of him, that is the spring and fountain from whence we have 
all, he takes occasion, together with the mention of comfort, to bless God, 
' the God of all comfort.' 

The verse contains a wise prevention of scandal at the cross. St Paul 
was a man of sorrows if ever any was, next to Christ himself, and that [he] 
might prevent all scandal at his crosses, and disgraceful afilicted usage, he 
doth shew his comforts under the cross, which he would not have wanted 
to have been without his cross. Therefore he begins here with praising of 
God. 

We praise God for favours, and indeed the comforts he had in his crosses 
were more than the grievance he had by them ; therefore had cause to bless 
God ; ' Blessed be God,' &c. 

' The God of all comfort.' ' The God of comfort, and the God of all 
comfort.' We must give St Paul leave to be thus large, for his heart was 
full ; and a full heart, a full expression. And he speaks not out of books, 
but from sense and feeling. Though he knew well enough that ' God was 
the Father of mercy and God of all comfort,' that way ; yet these be words 
that come from the heart, come from feeling rather than from the tongue. 
They came not from St Paul's pen only. His pen was first dipped in his 
heart and soul when he wrote this. ' God is the Father of mercy, and God 
of all comfort.' I feel him so ; he comforts me in all tribulations. 

' The God of all comfort.' To explain the word a little. Comfort is 
either the thing itself, a comfortable outward thing, a blessing of God 
wherein comfort is hid, or else it is reasons ; because a man is an under- 
standing creature, reasons from which comfort is grounded ; or it is a real 
comfort, inward and spiritual, by the assistance and strength of the Spirit 
of God, when perhaps there is no outward thing to comfort. And perhaps 
reasons and discourse are not present at that time, yet there is a presence 
of the Spirit that comforts, as we see ofttimes a man is comforted with 
the very sight of his friend, without discourse. To a man endued with 
reason, whose discomforts are spiritual, for the most part, in the soul, the 
very presence of a man that he loves puts much delight into him. What 
is God then ? ' The God of comfort.' His very presence must needs 
comfort. Comfort is taken many other ways, but these are the principal, 
to this purpose. 

1. First, comfort is the thing itself. There is comfort in every creature of 
God, and God is the God of that comfort. In hunger, meat comforts ; in 
thirst, drink comforts ; in cold, garments comfort ; in want of advice, friends 
comfort, and it is a sweet comfort. ' God is the God of all comfort ; ' of 
the comfortable things. But besides the necessary things, every sense hath 
somewhat to comfort it. The eye, besides ordinary colours, hath delightful 
colours to behold ; and so the ear, besides ordinary noise and sounds, it 
hath music to delight it ; the smell, besides ordinary savours, it hath sweet 
flowers to refresh it ; and so every part of the body, besides that which is 
ordinary, it hath somewhat to comfort it. Because God is nothing but 
comfort to his creature, if it be as it should be, he is God of these com- 
forts, ' the God of all comfort,' of the comfort of outward things, of 
friends, &c. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, Y^U, 3. 45 

2. So he is the God of the second comfort, of comfortable reasons and 
arguments. For a man, especially in inward troubles, must have grounds 
of comfort from strong reasons. God ministereth these. He is the God of 
these. For he hath given us his Scriptures, his word ; and the comforts 
that are fetched from thence are strong ones, because they are his com- 
forts. It is his word. The word of a prince comforts, though he be not 
there to speak it. Though it be a letter, or by a messenger, yet he whose 
word it is, is one that is able to make his word good. He is Lord and 
Master of his word. The word of God is comfortable, and all the reasons 
that are in it, and that are deduced from it, upon good ground and conse- 
quence, they are comfortable, because it is God's word. He is the God of 
all. And those comforts in God's word, and reasons from thence, they are 
wonderful in the variety of them. There is comfort from the liberty of a 
Christian laid out there, that he hath free access to the throne of grace ; 
comfort from the prerogatives of a Christian, that he is the child of God, 
that he is justified, that he is the heir of heaven, and such like ; comforts 
from the promises of grace, of the presence of God, of assistance by his 
presence. These things out of the word of God are wondrous plentiful. 
Indeed, the word of God is a breast of comfort, as the prophet calls it : 
' Suck comfort out of the breasts of comfort,' Isa. Ixvi. 11. 

The books of God are breasts of comfort, wells of comfort. There are 
springs of comfort. 

God's word is a paradise, as it were. In paradise, there were sweet 
streams that ran through; and in paradise stirred the voice of God, not 
only calling, ' Adam, where art thou ? ' terrifying of him, but the voice of 
God promising Adam the blessed seed. Gen. iii. 9. 

So in the word of God, there is God rousing out of sin, and there is God 
speaking peace to the soul. There is a sweet current of mercy mns from 
the paradise of God ; and there is the ' tree of life,' Kev. ii. 7, Christ him- 
self, and trees of all manner of fruit, comforts of all sorts whatsoever. 
And there is no angel there, to keep the door and gate of paradise with a 
fieiy, flaming sword. No ! this paradise is open for all. And they are 
cruel tyrants that stop this paradise, that stop this fountain, as the papists 
do. As God is the God of comfort, so he is the God of comfoi-t in that 
respect. 

But this is not enough, to make him the God of comfort. We may have 
the word of God, and all the reasons from thence, from privileges and pre- 
rogatives, and examples, and yet not be comfortable, if 

3. We have not the God of comfort, with the word of comfort, the Spirit 
of God, that must apply the comfort to the soul, and be the God of com- 
fort there. 

For there must be application, and working of comfort out of God's word 
upon the soul, by the Spirit. The Spmt must set it on strongly and sweetly, 
that the soul may be affected. 

You may have a carnal man — he for fashion or custom reads the Scrip- 
tures, and he is as dead-hearted when he hath done as when he began. 
He never looks to the Spirit of comfort. There must be the Spirit of God, 
to work, and to apply comfort to the heart, and to teach us to discourse 
and to reason from the word ; not only to shew the reasons of the word, 
but to teach us to draw reasons from the word, and to apply them to our 
particular state and condition. The Spirit teachcth this wisdom. And 
therefore it is well called the Comforter. ' I will send you the Comforter,' 
John xiv. 26. The poor disciples had many comforts from Christ, but be- 



46 COMMENTARY ON 

cause the Comforter was not come, they were not comfortable, but hea\7'. 
What was the reason ? Because ' the Comforter was not come.' When 
the Holy Ghost was come, after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, 
when he had sent the Comforter, then they were so full of comfort, that 
they rejoiced that they * were thought worthy to suffer an3iihing for Christ,' 
Acts V. 41 ; and the more they suffered, the more joyful, and comfortable, 
and glorious they are. 

You see what a comfort is. It is the things themselves, and the word, 
and reasons from it, and likewise the Spirit of God with the reasons, and 
with pi'esence. Sometimes without any reasons, with present strength, 
God doth establish the soul. Together with reasons, there is a strengthen- 
ing power of the Spirit, a vigour that goes with the Spirit of God, that joins 
with the spirit of the afflicted person. So whether it be the outward 
thing, as reasons and discourse, or the presence of the Spirit, God joining 
with our spirit, God is the God of that comfort, the ' God of all cornfort.' 

A comfort is anything that allays a malady, that either takes it away, oi 
allays and mitigates it. A comfort is anything that raiseth up the soul. 
The comforts that we have in this life, they are not such as do altogether 
take away sorrow and grief, but they mitigate them. Comfort is that which 
is above a malady. It is such a remedy as is stronger to support the soul 
from being cast down over much with the grievance, whether it be grievance 
felt, that we are in the sense of such a grievance as is feared. When the 
soul apprehends anything, to set against the ill we fear that is stronger 
than it ; when the soul hath somewhat that it can set against the present 
sense of the grievance that is stronger than it, though it do not wholly ex- 
pel it, but the discomfort remains still in some degree, it may be said well 
to be a comfort. 

The reason why I speak of this mitigation is, because in this hfe God 
never so wholly comforts his children, but there will be flesh left in them ; 
and that will murmur, and there will be some resistance against comfort. 
While there are remainders of sin, there will be ground of discomfort, by 
reason of the conflict between the flesh and spirit. 

For instance, a man hath some cross on him : what saith the flesh ? God 
is mine enemy, and I will take such and such courses. I will not endure 
this. This is the voice of the flesh, of the ' old man.' What saith the 
spirit ? Surely God is not mine enemy. He intends my good by these 
things. So while these fight, here is the ' flesh against the spirit,' Gal. 
V. 17. Yet here is comfort, because the spirit is predominant. But it is 
not fully comfort, because there is the ' old man ' in him, that withstands 
comfort in the whole measure of comfort. 

Therefore we must take this degree. We cannot have the full comfort 
till we come to heaven. There all tears shall be wiped fi'om our eyes. In 
this world we must be content to have comfort with some grief. The malady 
is not wholly purged. 

Sometimes God removes the outward grievance more fully. God helps 
many times altogether, as in sickness to health perfectly. But I speak not 
of that. Comfort is that which is opposite to misery, and it must be 
stronger, for there is no prevailing but by a stronger. When the agent is 
not above the patient, there is no prevailing. There is a conflict till one 
have got the mastery. 

' The God of all comfort.' ' All,' that is, of all comfortable things, and 
of all divine reasons. It must be most substantial comfort. The soul in 
some maladies will not be comforted by philosophical reasons. Saith the 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, ^'ER. 8. 47 

heathen, ' The disease is stronger than the physic,' ^hen he considers 
Plato's comforts and the like. So we may say of the reasons of philoso- 
phical men, Romanists, and moralists. When they come to terror ol con- 
science, when they come to inward grievances, inward stmgs that are m a 
man, from a man's conscience (as all discomforts usually when they press 
hard, it is with a guilty conscience), what can aU such reasons do .-' io 
say it is the state of other men, and it is in vain to munnur,^ and I know 
not what, such reasons as Seneca and Plato and others have, it wiU scarce 
still the conscience for a fit. They are ignorant of the root. Alas ! how 
can they tell the remedy, when they know not the ground of the malady ! 

It must be God, it must be his word, his trath. The conscience must 
know it to be God's truth, and then it mil comfort. God is the God ot 
comfort, of the things, and of the reasons. They must be his reasons. 

And he also is the author of that spiritual presence ; he is with his 
children. When ' they are in the fire, he goes with them into the water, 
as it is in Isa. xliii. 2. He is with them ' m the valley of death. Vs. 
xxiii. 4. They shall find God with them to comfort them. So there is a 
kind of presence with God's comforts, and a banishing of all discomfort. 

And this comfort is as large as the maladies, as large as the ills are. He 
is a God of comfort against everj^ particular iU. If there be diverse ills, 
he hath diverse comforts ; if they be long ills, he hath long comforts ; it 
there be strong iUs, he hath strong comforts ; if there be new ills, he hath 
new comforts. Take the ills in what extent and degree you wiU, God hath 
somewhat to set against them that is stronger than they, and that is the 
blessed estate of God's children. He is the ' God of all comfort. _ 

St Chrj'sostom, an excellent preacher, yields me one observation upon 
this very place {h). It is the wisdom of a Christian to see how God de- 
scribes himself, there bemg something in God answerable to whatsoever is 
iU in the world. The Spirit of God in the Scripture sets forth God fitting 
to the particular occasions. Speaking here of the misery and the disgi-ace- 
ful usage of St Paul, being taught by the Spii'it of God, he considereth God 
as a ' Father of mercies' and a ' God of comfort.' Speaking of the ven- 
geance on his enemies, the psahnist saith, * Thou God of vengeance, shew 
thyself,' Ps. xciv. 1. In God there is help for every malady. 

Therefore the wisdom of a Christian is to single out of God what is fat- 
tin» his present occasion. In crosses and miseries, think of him as a 
' Father of mercies ;' in discomforts, think of him as a ' God of comfort ; 
in perplexities and distress, think of him as a God of wisdom ; and oppres- 
sion of others, and difficulties which we cannot wade out of, think of him as 
a God and Father Almighty, as a God of vengeance ; and so every way to 
think of God appliable to the present occasion. And though many ol us 
have no gi'eat afiliction upon us for the present, yet we should lay up store 
against the evil day ; and therefore it is good to treasure up these descrip- 
tions of God, ' the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort.' 

To explain the word a little. What doth he mean by ' God ' in this place ? 
That he is the God of comfort, that hath a further comfort m it, m the 
very title that is called the God of comfort. In that he is called the God 
of comfort, it implies two things. 

1. Fu-st, it shews that he is a Creator of it ; that he can work it out ot 
what he will, out of nothmg. • i r i,i. + 

2. And then, that he can raise it out of the contrary, as he raised light out 
■ ot darkness in the creation, and in the government of this worid he raiseth 

his children out of misery. As he raised all out of nothing, order out ot 



48 COMMENTARY ON 

confusion, so in his church he is the God of comfort. He can raise com- 
fort out of nothing ; out of nothing that is hkely to yield comfort. Put the 
case that there be neither medicine, nor meat, nor drink, nor nothing to 
comfort us in this world, as we shall have none of these things in heaven, 
he is the God of comfort that shall supply all our wants. As he shall then 
be all in all, so in this world, when it is by the manifestation of his gloiy. 
When Moses was forty days in the mountain, he wanted outward comforts ; 
but he had the God of comfort with him, and he supplied the want of meat 
and drink and all other comforts, because he is the God of all comfort. In 
him are all comforts originally and fundamentally ; and if there be none, 
he can create and make them of nothing. 

God, as a God properly, makes something of nothing. That is to be 
a God ; for nothing but God can make something of nothing. Gods upon 
earth call men their creatures, in a kind of imitation of God ; but that is 
but a phrase that puffs them up. They are but gods in a kind of sense, and 
the other are but creatures in a kind of sense ; because, perhaps they have 
nothing in them, and in that sense, deservedly creatures. But it is proper 
to God, to make somewhat of nothing ; and so he is the ' God of comfort.' 
Where there is no comfort at all, he can raise comfort, as he made the 
world of nothing by his veiy word. 

And which is more, it is the property of God as God, it is peculiar to 
God to make comfort out of that which is contrary. Therein he shews 
himself most to be a God of all. He can raise comfort out of discomfort, 
life out of death. When Christ had been three days in the grave, he raised 
him. As it is with the head of comfort, with the head of believers, so it is 
with every particular Christian. He raiseth them out of death. Those that 
sow in sorrow, they reap in joy. What cannot he do that can raise com- 
fort out of discomfort ? and discomforts oftentimes are the occasions of the 
greatest comforts. Let a Christian go back to the former course of his 
life, and he shall find that the greatest crosses that ever he sufiered will 
yield him most comfort, and who did this ? Certainly it must be God, 
that can raise all out of nothing, and that can make comfort not only out 
of comfortable creatures that are ordained for comfort ; but he can draw 
honey out of the lion's belly. ' Out of the eater came meat, and out of the 
strong came sweetness,' saith Samson in his riddle. Judges xiv. 14. When 
a honeycomb shall come out of the lion's belly, certainly this is a miracle, 
this may well be a riddle. This is the riddle of Christianity, that God who 
is the God of comfort, he raiseth comforts out of our chiefest discomforts. 
He can create it out of that which is contrary. 

Therefore Luther's speech is very good, ' All things come from God to 
his church, especially in contraries ;' as he is righteousness, but it is in sin 
felt. He is comfort, but it is in misery. He is life, but it is in death. We 
must die before we live. Indeed, he is all, but it is in nothing, in the soul 
that feels itself to be nothing. There is the foundation for God to work 
on. Therefore the God of comfort can create comfort. If none be, he 
can make comfort. If the contrary be, he can raise contraries out of con- 
traries. He is the * God of all comfort.' Every word hath emphasis and 
strength in it. 

* The God of all comfort.' Amongst divers other things that flow from 
hence, mark the order. He is the ' God and Father of Christ' first, and then 
the ' Father of mercy,' and ' the God of comfort.' 

Take him out of this order, and think not of him as a God of comfort, 
but as a ' consuming fire,' Heb. xii. 29. But take the method of the text, 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 3. 49 

now he is the ' God of comfort after he is the Father of Christ.' This being 
laid as a ground, the text itself as a doctrine, what subordinate truths arise 
hence ? 

First of all, if God be ' God of all comfort,' there is this conclusion hence ; 
that, whatsoever the means of comfort be, God is the spring of it. 

Christ is the conduit next to God ; for he is close to God. God is the 
God of Christ, and the Holy Ghost is usually the stream. The streams 
of comfort come through Chiist the conduit ; from God the Father, the 
fountain, by the graces of the Spirit. But I speak of outward comforts. 
' Blessed be God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' All are comforters ! 
God the Father is the father of comfort ; the Holy Ghost is the comforter ; 
Christ Jesus likewise is the God of comfort. Whatsoever the outward 
means be, yet God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are the comforters. 
Take them together. That is tlie conclusion hence. 

I observe it the rather, to cure a disposition to atheism in -men that look 
brutishly to the thing. They look to the comfort, and never look to the 
comforter, even for outward comforts. Wicked men, their bellies are filled 
with the comforts of God, but it is with things that are comfortable, that 
are abstracted from the comforter. They care not for the root, the favour 
and mercy of God, So they have the thing, they care not. 

Therefore they are not thankful to God, nor in their wants, they go not 
to the God of comfort. Why ? They think they have supply enough, 
they have friends, they have riches, that ' are their stronghold,' Ps. 
Ixxxix. 40, and if they have outward necessaries to supply and comfort them, 
that is all they care for. As for the ' God of comfort,' they trouble not 
their hands-= wath him, 

A Christian, whatsoever the comfort be, if it be outward, he knows 
that the God of comfort sends it, and that is the reason he is so thankful 
for all outward comforts. If they be the necessaries for this life, in 
meat he tastes the comfort of God, in drink he tastes the comfort of God, 
in the ornaments of this life he tastes the comfort of God. It is God 
that heats him with fire, it is God that clothes him with garments, it ia 
God that feeds him with meat, it is God that refresheth his senses in these 
comforts. 

Therefore the heathen, out of their ignorance, they made every thing a 
god that was comfortable, out of which they received comfort. They made 
a god of the fire, and of the water. These are but instruments of the God 
of comfort, but the heathen made gods of them. A Christian doth not so, 
but he sees God in them, and drivesf these streams from the fountain, God 
is seen to be the God of comfort in them all. 

Again, considering that God is ' the God of all comfort,' this should teach 
us as thankfulness to God, so jjrayer in the want of any comfort, that he 
would both give the thing, and the comfort of the thing. We may have 
the thing and the wrath of God with it. But thou that art the God of 
comfort, vouchsafe the outward comforts to us, and vouchsafe comfort with 
them. Thou that art the God of every thing, and of the comfort of the 
thing, vouchsafe both. 

Again, if God be the God of all comfort whatsoever, then here is a 
gi'ound of divers other tniths ; as, for instance, that if we look for any com- 
fort from the things, or from reasons and discourse, or from God, we should 
go to God in the use of the thing, before the use, after the use, at all times. 
Before the use, that God would suggest, either by reading, or hearing, &c., 
* Qu. ' heads.' — Q. f Qu. 'derives?' == traces. — G. 

VOL. III. D 



50 COMMENTAKY OX 

reasons of comfort. lu the use, that he would settle and seal comfort to 
our souls. Lord, I hear many sweet things. I read many comfortable 
things. These would affect a stone almost ; yet unless thou set them on 
my soul, they will never comfort me. Thou art the God of comfort. The 
materials are from thee. But except with revelation and discovery thou 
join application, all will not comfort, unless with revelation and apphcation 
thou open my soul to join with these comforts. 

3. In the third place. There must be a dlscovenj and application, and an 
openi)ig of the sold to them. As there be divers flowers that open and shut 
with the sun, so the soul, by the Spirit of God, it opens to comforts. 
Though comforts be put close to the soul, if that do not open to them, 
there is no comfort given ; for all is in the application. There is a double 
application, of the thing to the soul, and of the soul to the thing. God 
must do all. 

Quest. What is the reason that many hear sermons, and read sweet dis- 
courses, and yet when they come to suffer crosses and afliictions they are to 
see ?* 

Ans. They go to the stream, they cut the conduits from the spring, they 
go not to the well head, they see not the derivation of comfort. It is neces- 
sary for the deriving of comfort to the soul, to take the scales from the eye 
of the soul. They see not the necessity of a divine presence to apply it, 
and to lay it close to the soul, and to open the soul, to join the soul to those 
comforts. ' God is the God of all comfort.' If anything will stir up devo- 
tion much to pray to God, undoubtedly this will be eftectual, that whatso- 
ever the comfort be, whether it be outward things or reasons and discourses 
whatsoever, we may go to God that he would give it. 

Well, this being so, if God be the ' God of aU comfort,' the well of com- 
fort, the Father of comfort, and hath remedies for every malady, then you 
see here whither to go. You see a Christian in all estates hath ground of 
comfort, for he is in covenant with the God of comfort. 

Quest. You will say to me, What is the reason that Christians are no more 
comfortable, having the ' God of comfort ' for their God ? 

Ans. I answer: 1. It is partly /ro»i ignorance. We have remainders of 
ignorance, that we know not our own comfort. Satan doth veil the eye of 
the soul in the time of trouble, that we cannot see that there is a well of 
comfort. Poor Hagar, when she was almost undone for thirst, yet she had 
a fountain of water near hand ; but she saw it not, she was so overtaken 
with grief. Gen. xxi. 15, seq. Ignorance and, 2, passion hinder the sight 
of comfort. When we give way so much to the present malady, as if there 
were no God of comfort in heaven, as if there were no Scripture that hath 
breasts of comfort, that is as full as a breast that is willing to discharge 
itself of comfort. As if there were no matter of comfort, they feed upon 
grief, and delight to flatter theirselves in grief, as Rachel, ' that mourned, 
and would not be comforted,' Mat. ii. 18. So out of a kind of ignorance, 
and passion, and wilfulness they will not be comforted. 

And again, 3, ar/gravatinfj the grievance. As Bildad saith, ' Are the 
comforts of God light to thee?' Job xv. 11. These are good words, but 
my discomforts are greater, my malady is greater. So the comforts of the 
Holy Ghost, the comforts of God's Spirit, seem light to them. Ignorance, 
and passion, and dwelling too much, makes us neglect comfort. It makes 
us to see comfort to be no comfort in a manner. Mary, when Christ was 
before her eyes, they were so blubbered with tears, with fear that her Lord 

* Qu. 'seek.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, XEH. 3. 51 

was lost, that she could not see him, even when he was before her, John 
XX. 15. So grief and passion hinder the soul so much from seeing God's 
comforts, that we see them not when they are before us, when they are 
present. So men are guilty of their own discomfort. It is their own fault. 

4. Again, ofttimes forgetfulness. As the apostle saith, ' Have ye for- 
gotten the consolation that speaks?' Heb. xii. 5. Have ye forgotten that 
every son that God chastiseth not is a bastard ? Have ye forgotten ? 
Insinuating that, if they had remembered this, it would have comforted 
them. ' Have ye forgotten ? ' 

5. And then one especial cause is, that I spake of before, the looking to 
things present, forgetting the spring, the well-head of comfort, God himself; 
the looking too much to the means. Oh ! say some, if they be in distress, 
if I had such a book, if I had such a man to comfort me, certainly it would 
be otherwise with me, I should be better than I am. Put case he were 
with thee, alas ! he is not at the spring ! It is the God of comfort that 
must comfort thee, man, in all thy distresses whatsoever. Therefore if thou 
attribute not more to God than to the creature, nay, than to an angel, if 
he were to comfort thee, thou shalt find no comfort. ' I, even I, am he 
that comforts thee,' Isa. li. 12. I am he that pardons thy sins, which is 
the cause of all discomfort. That is comfort ! That is the sting of all. 
' I am he that pardons thy sins.' 

We, as criers, may speak pardon to the soul ; but God must give it. 
We may speak comfort, but God must give it. He must say to the soul, 
* I am thy salvation,' Ps. xxxv. 3. When men idolise any discourse in 
books, or any particular man over much (though we may value those that 
are instrumental above others, there may be a difference of gifts, but), the 
resting too much in the creature, it is an enemy to comfort ; and some 
grow to that wilfulness in that kind, that they will neglect all because they 
have not that they would have, whereas if they would look to God, meaner 
means would serve the tm-n ofttimes, if they would go to the God of 
comfort. 



YERSE 4. 

* Who comforteth us in all tribulation.' Afflictions and crosses, as they 
are irksome in suffering, so they are likewise disgraceful ; and as it 
was in the cross of Christ, there were* two things, torment and shame. 
The one he felt himself, the other he had from others ; those two. Dis- 
grace is proper to the cross. So it is in all the crosses that we suffer, 
i,her is some disgi-ace with it. Therefore St Paul, to prevent the scandal 
and disgrace of the cross, as I said before, he doth here begin with prais- 
ing God even for crosses in the midst of them. * Blessed be God, the 
Father of mercies, the God of all comfort ; who comforteth us in all tribu- 
lations,' &c. 

' Who comforteth us in all tribulation.' These words contain a making 
good of the former title, 'He is a God of comfort, and doth comfort; he 
is good, and doth good.' He fills up his name by his works. He shews 
what he is. The Scripture doth especially describe God, not in all things 
as he is in himself; but as he is, and works to his poor church. And 
they are useful terms, all of them. He is ' the Father of mercy,' be- 
cause he is so to his chui'ch. He is the ' God of comfort,' because he 
* Misprinted 'was.'— G. 



52 COMMENTARY ON 

is SO to bis people. Therefore be saith here, as be is ' the God of 
comfort ; ' so be doth comfort us in all tribulation. He doth not say, who 
keeps us out of misery. Blessed be the God of comfort, that never suffers 
us to faU into discomfort ! No ! but ' blessed be the God of comfort, that 
comforts us in all tribulation.' It is more to raise good out of evil, than 
not to suffer evil to be at all. It shews gi'eater power, it manifests greater 
goodness, to triumph over ill, when it [is] suffered to be, and so not to 
keep ill from us, but to comfort us in it. 

He doth not say for the time past, which bath comforted us, or which 
can comfort us if it please him. No ! He doth it. It is bis use.* He 
doth it alway. It springs from bis love. He never at any instant or 
moment of time forgets bis children. And he saith not, he doth comfort 
us in one or two, or a few tribulations ; but be comfortetb us in ' all tribu- 
lations,' of what kind or degree soever. 

Obj. It may be objected, to clear the sense a little, he doth not alway 
comfort : for then there could be no time of discomfort. 

A71S. I answer: He doth alway comfort in some degree ; for take a Chris- 
tian at the lowest, yet he hath so much comfort as to keep him from sinking, 
"When be is at the depth of miseiy, there is a depth of mei'cy lower than be. 
' Out of the deep have I cried unto thee, Lord,' Ps. cxxx. 1 ; and this is a 
comfort that be bath in the midst of discomforts, that be hath a spirit of 
prayer ; and if not a spirit of prayer, yet a spirit of sighing and groaning 
to God, and God hears the sighs and groans of his own Spu'it in his chil- 
dren. When they cannot distinctly pray, there is a spirit to look up to 
God. ' Though thou kill me, yet will I trust in thee,' saith Job, Job xiii. 
15, in the midst of his miseries. So though God, more notoriously to the 
view of the world, sometime doth comfort before we come to trouble, that 
we may bear it the better, and sometime he doth comfort more apparently 
after we come out ; yet notwithstanding, in the midst of discomforts, he 
doth alway comfort so far as that we sink not into despair. There is 
somewhat to uphold the soul. For when Solomon saith, ' A wounded 
spirit, who can bear ? ' Prov. xviii. 14 ; that is, none can bear it ; it is the 
greatest grief. Then I would know, what keeps a wounded spirit from 
sinking that it doth not despair ? Is it not a spirit stronger than the 
wounded spirit? It isf not God that is greater than the wounded con- 
science ? Yes ! Then there is comfort greater than the discomfort of a 
wounded conscience, that keeps it from despair. Those that finally despair, 
they are none of God's. So that, take the words in what regard or in what 
sense you will, yet there is a sweet and comfortable sense of them, and the 
apostle might well say, he is the ' God of all comfort, that doth comfort us 
in all tribulation.' 

It is here a ground supposed, that God's children are subject to tribulation. 

We are subject here to tribulation of all kinds, for God comforts us in 
all our tribulations. We are here in a state, therefore, needing comfort, 
because we are in tribulation. 

And the second is that God doth answer our state. God doth comfort 
his children in all tribulation. 

And the ground is from himself. ' He is the God of comfort.' He doth 
but like himself, when be doth it. The God of comfort shews that be is 
BO, by comforting us in all tribulations. 

First, It is supposed that in this icorld we are in tribidations. 

Indeed, that I need not be long in. We must, at one time or other, be 
* That is, his ' wont.'— G. t Qu. ' is it? '—Ed. 



2 COKINTHlAiSS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 53 

in trilmlation, some or other. For though, in regard of outward afflictions, 
we are free from them sometimes, we have a few hoUdays, as we say ; yet 
notwithstanding, there is in the greatest enlargements of God's children in 
this world, somewhat that troubles thefr minds. For either there is some 
desertion, God withholds comfort from them in some measure, he shews 
himself a stranger, which humbles them much ; or else they have strong 
temptations of Satan, to sin by prosperity, &c., which grieves them as 
much as the outward cross ; or else their gi-ievance is, that they cannot 
serve God with that cheerftilness of spirit. Is there nothing, whoever thou 
art, that troubles thee as much as the cross in the day of affliction ? Cer- 
tainly there is somewhat or other that troubleth the soul of a Christian. 
He is never out of one grievance or other. 

The life of a Christian is as a web, that is woven of good and ill. He 
hath good days and ill days ; he hath tribulations and comforts. As St 
Austin saith very well, between these two, tribulation on om* part, and 
comfort on God's part, our life runs between these two. Our crosses and 
God's comforts, they are both mingled together. 

There is no child of God, but knows what these things mean, troubles 
either from friends or enemies, or both, domestical or personal, in body or 
mind, one way or other. That is supposed, and it were not an unproper 
argument to the text ; for when he saith ' in all tribulations,' it is laid as a 
ground that every man suffers tribulation one way or other. But I shall 
have fitter occasion after to enlarge this. 

Again we see here, that God comforts Ms children in all tribulation. 

And his comforts are answerable to their discomforts, and beyond them. 
They are stronger to master all opposites whatsoever, and all grievances. 
There could be no comfort else. Alas ! what are all discomforts, when 
God sets himself to comfort ? When he will be a God of comfort, one 
look, one glance of his fatherly countenance in Jesus Christ, will banish all 
terrors whatsoever, and make even a very dungeon to be a paradise. ' He 
comforteth us in all tribulation.' 

And this he doth, as you may perceive by the unfolding of the words, 
either by some outward thing applied to the outward want or cross, or by 
some inward reasons, that are opposite to the inward malady, or by an 
inward presence. His comforts are appliable to the tribulation, and to the 
strength, and length, and variety of it. We may know it by his course in 
this life. What misery are we subject to in this life ! but we have comfort 
fit for it ? So good is God. 

We may reason thus very well. If so be that in our pilgrimage here, in 
this life of ours, which is but the gallerj^, as it were, to heaven ; if in this 
short life, which is but a way or passage, we have, both day and night, so 
many comforts : in the very night, if we look up to heaven, we see what 
glorious things there are towards the earth here, on this side the heaven, the 
stars of the light,* &c. And if so be upon the earth there be such comforts, 
especially in the spring and summer time, if the very earth, the basest 
dregs of the world, yield such comfort and delights to all the senses, then a 
man may reason very strongly, what comforts shall we have at home ? If 
God by the creatures thus comforts us in our outward wants, what are the 
inward comforts of his Spirit here to his children ? and what are the last 
comforts of all, the comforts reserved at home, when God * shall be all in 
aU?' 1 Cor. XV. 28. 

Now there are some drops of comfort conveyed in smells, some in gar- 
* Qu. ' the light of the stars ? '—Ed. 



54 COMMENTABY ON 

ments, some in friends, some in diet ; here a drop, and there a drop. But 
when we shall have immediate communion there with the God of comfort 
himself, what comforts shall we have there ? God comforts us here, by 
providing for us, and giving us things that are comfortable. 

Or by giving reasons and grounds of comfort, which are stronger than 
the reasons and grounds of discomfort, reasons from the privileges and 
prerogative of Christians, &c. The Scripture is full of them. 

But likewise, which is the best of all, and most intended, the inward 
inspring of comfort, with the reasons and grounds, he inwardly conveys 
comforts to the soul, and strengtheneth and supports the soul. And he 
doth this not only by the application of the reasons, and the things that we 
understand, to the soul, but by opening the soul to embrace them. For 
sometime the soul may be in such a case as it may reject comfort, that 
' the consolation of the Almighty,' Job xv. 11, may seem light to it. 
Sometime there may be such a disposition of soul, that the chiefest com- 
forts in Scripture yield it no comfort. They are not embraced. The soul 
is shut to them. God provides reasons and grounds of comfort, and like- 
wise he applies these comforts by his Spirit to the soul, and he inwardly 
warms and opens the soul to embrace comfort. He opens the understand- 
ing to understand, and the will and affections to embrace, or else there will 
be no cflmfort. 

Many are like Rachel. Her children were gone, and it is said of her, 
' She would not be comforted,' Mat. ii. 18. God is the * God of comfort.' 
As he gives the matter and ground of comfort, and reasons out of his holy 
word above all discomforts ; so by his Spirit he frames and fits the heart 
to entertain these, to take the benefit of them, 

' He comforts us in all tribulation.' To comfort is to support the soul 
against the grievance past, or felt, or feared. 

There may be some remainders of grief for what is past. Grief present 
presseth most, and grief feared. Now God comforteth, whatsoever the 
grievance is, by supporting the soul against it, as I said before. 

"We are in tribulation in this life, and yet in all tribulations God doth 
comfort us. To add to that I said before of this point, let us therefore go 
to God in all the means of comfort, because he is the God of it, and he 
must comfort us. 

Therefore, when we send for divines, or read holy books, for we must 
use all means, we must not set God against his means, but join them to- 
gether : to add that caution by the way. 

We may not, therefore, necessitate the God of comfort, that because he 
comforts us, therefore we will neglect reading and prayer, and conference 
with them that God hath exercised in the school of Christ, who should 
speak comfort to the weary soul by their ofiice. 

No, no ! God and his means must he joined together. We must trust 
God, but not tempt him. To set God against his means is to tempt him ; 
that because he is the God of comfort, therefore we will use no means, no 
physician for the body or for the soul. This is absurd. He is the God of 
comfort in the means. He comforts us * in all tribulation,' by means, if 
they be to be had. 

K there be no means to be had, he is the God of comfort, he can create 
them ; and if it be so far that there be no means, but the contrary, he is a 
God that can comfort out of discomfort, and can, as I said, make the great- 
est grounds of comfort out of the greatest discomforts. But he is a God of 
the means, if they be to be had. K there be none, then let us go to him, 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 55 

and say, Thou God of comfort, if thou do not comfort, none can comfort ; 
if thou help not, none can help ; and then he will help, and help strongly. 
It is necessary to look to God, whatever the means be. It is he that com- 
forts by them. Therefore let him have the praise. If we have any friend, 
any comfort of the outward man, or any solace of the inward man, by 
seasonable speech, &c., blessed be the ' God of comfort' who hath sent this 
comforter ; who hath sent me comfort by such, and such, let him have the 
praise. Whatsoever the means be, the comfort is his. 

And that is the cause that many have no more comfort. They trust to 
the means over much, or neglect the means. 

Again, if ' God comfort in all tribulation,' let Christians be ashamed to 
be overmuch disconsolate, that have the ' God of comfort' for their God, 
' who comforteth in all tribulation.' ' Why art thou so cast down ?' Ps. 
xlii. 11. 'Is there no balm in Gilead for thee ? Jer. viii. 22. ' Is there 
not a God in Israel ?' 1 Sam. xvii. 46. It is the fault of Christians ; they pore 
too much on their troubles, they look all one way. They look to the 
grievance, and not to the comfort. 

There is a God of comfort that answers his name every way in the exer- 
cise of that attribute to his church. Therefore Christians must blame them- 
selves if they be too much cast down ; and laboui- for faith to draw near to 
this God of comfort. 

It should make them ashamed of themselves that think it even a duty, 
as it were, to walk drooping, and disconsolately, and deadly, to have flat and 
dead spirits. What ! is this beseeming a Christian that is in covenant 
with God, that is the ' God of comfort,' and that answers his title in deal- 
ing with his children, that is ready to comfort them in all tribulation ? 
What if particular comforts be taken from thee, is there not a God of com- 
fort left ? he hath not taken away himself. What if thou be restrained, and 
shut up from other comforts, can any shut up God's Spirit ? can any shut 
up God and our prayers ? 

Is not this a comfort, that we may go to God alway ? and he is with us 
in all estates and in all wants whatsoever ? So long as we are in covenant 
with the ' God of comfort,' why should we be overmuch cast down ?' ' Why 
art thou so troubled, my soul?' Ps. xlii. 11. David checks his soul 
thrice together for distrust in God. He is thy God, the God of all 
comfort. 

Qii£st. What course shall we take that we may derive to ourselves com- 
fort from this God of comfort, who comforteth us in all om* tribulations ? 

Ans. 1. Let us consider what our vmlachj and grievance is, especially let 
us look to our spiritual grievance and malady, sin : for sin is the cause of 
all other evils. Therefore it is the worst evil. And sin makes us loathed 
of God, the fountain of good. It drives us from him, when other evils 
drive us to him ; and therefore it is the worst evil in that sense too. 

2. Again, in the second place, look to the discomforts of sin, especially in 
the discomforts of conscience of those that are awakened ; and Satan useth 
that as a means to despair in every cross. 

(1.) Therefore let us search and try our souls for our sins; for our chief 
discomforts are from sin. For, alas ! what are all other comforts ? and 
what are all other discomforts ? If a man's conscience be quiet, what are 
all discomforts ? and if conscience be on the rack, what ai-e all comforts ? 
The disquiet and vexation of sin is the gi'eatest of all ; because then we 
have to deal with God. When sin is presented before us, and the judg- 
ments of God, and God as an angry judge, and conscience is awaked and 



56 COMMENTARY ON 

on the rack, ^Yllat in the world can take up the quarrel and appease con- 
science, when we and God are at difference, when the soul speaks nothing 
but discomfort ? 

In this case remember that God doth so far prevent objections in this 
kind from the accusations of conscience, that he reasons that he will com- 
fort us, from that that conscience reasons against comfort. He doth this 
in the hearts of his children to whom he means to shew mercy : as we see 
in the poor publican. ' Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,' saith he, Luke 
xviii. 13. God taught him that reasoning. Nature would have taught 
him to reason as Peter did, ' Lord, depart from me, I am a sinful man,' 
Luke V. 8, and therefore I have nothing to do with God. 

So our Saviour Christ, ' Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy 
laden,' Mat. xi. 28. They think, of all people they ought to run from God, 
they are so laden with sin, they have nothing to do with God. ' Oh, come 
unto me,' saith Christ. Therefore, when thy conscience is awakened with 
the sense of sin, remember what is said in the gospel, ' Be of good comfort, 
he calleth thee,' Mark x. 49; be thou of good comfort, thou art one that 
Christ calls, ' Come unto me, ye that are weary and heavy laden ;' and 
' Blessed are those that mourn,' Mat. v. 4. 

That which thou and the devil with thy conscience would move thee to 
use as an argument to run away, our Saviour Christ in the gospel useth as 
an argument to draw thee forward. He comes for such, ' to seek, and to 
save the lost sinners.' This is a faithful saying, saith St Paul, that ' Christ 
came to save sinners.' Therefore, believe not Satan. He presents God to 
the soul that is humbled, and terrified in the sight of sin, as cruel, as a ter- 
rible judge, &c. He hides the mercy of God from such. To men that are 
in a sinful course he shews nothing but mercy. Aye, but now there is 
nothing but comfort to thee that art cast down and afflicted in the sense of 
thy sins ; for all the comforts in the gospel of forgiveness of sins, and all 
the comforts from Christ's incarnation, the end of his coming in the flesh, 
the end of his death, and of all, is to save sinners. 

Look thou, therefore, to the throne of mercy and grace, when thy con- 
science shall be awakened with the sense of sin, and Satan shall use that as 
an argument to draw thee from God. Consider the Scripture useth this as 
an argument to drive me to God, to allure me to him. * Come unto me, 
all ye that are weary and heavy laden.' And ' Christ came to seek and to 
save that which was lost.' Luther, a man much exercised in spiritual con- 
flicts, he confessed this was the balm that did most refresh his soul, ' God 
hath shut up all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all,' Rom. iii. 19. 
He shut up all under sin as prisoners, to see themselves under sin, and 
under the curse, that he might ' have mercy upon all ;' upon all those 
that are convinced with the sense and sight of their sins. He hath shut 
up all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all those that belong 
to him. 

This raised up that blessed man. Therefore, let us not be much dis- 
comforted, but ' be of good comfort, Christ calls us.' 

For such as are sinners, that are given to the sins of the tongue, and of 
the life, to rotten discourse, to swearing and such like, to such as mean to 
be so, and think their case good. Oh ! God is ' the God of comfort !' To 
such, as I said before, I can speak no comfort, nor the word of God speaks 
none. They must have another word and another Scripture ; for this word 
speaks no comfort to such that are sinful and wretched, and will be so, and 
justify themselves to be so. 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. -4. 57 

All the judgments in the Scripture are theirs. Hell and damnation and 
wrath, that is their portion to drink. 

We can speak no comfort to such, nor the word of God that we unfold. 
It hath not a drop of comfort for them, God will not be merciful to such 
as go on in wicked, rotten, scandalous courses, that because hell hath not 
yet taken them, they may live long, and so make a ' covenant with hell and 
death,' Isa. xxviii. 18, and bless themselves. 

Oh ! but thou hast made no covenant with God, nor he hath made none 
with thee ; and hell and death have made no covenant valh thee, though 
thou hast made one with them. But there are two words go to a covenant. 
Death and hell shall seize upon thee, notwithstanding thy covenant. 

Those that will live in sin in despite of the ministiy, in spite of afflic- 
tions, there is no comfort to such. I speak only to the broken heart, 
which are fit vessels for comfort. God is ' the God of comfort ' to such. 
What shall we say, then, to such as, after they have had some evidence 
of their good estate, that they are Christians, are fallen into sin? Is 
there any comfort for such ? 

Yes. Doth not St Paul, in 2 Cor. v. 20, desire such to be ' reconciled 
to God ? ' ' We are, as ambassadors of Christ, desiring you to be recon- 
ciled,' if you have sinned. So God hath comfort for those that have 
sinned. Christ knew that we should every day run into sins unawares. 
Therefore, he teaches us in the Lord's prayer to say every day, * Forgive 
us our debts, our trespasses,' Mat. vi. 12. There is ' balm in Gilead,' 
there is mercy in Israel, for such daily trespasses as we run into. 

Therefore, let none be discouraged, but fly presently to the ' God of 
comfort and Father of mercies.' And think not that he is weary of pardon- 
ing, as man is, for he is infinite in mercy ; and though he be the party 
offended, yet he desires peace with us. 

Caution. But yet, notwithstanding that we shall not love to run into his 
books, he doth, with giving the comfort of the pardon of sin, when we 
fall into it, add such sharp crosses, as we shall wish we had not given 
him occasion to correct us so sharply. We shall buy our comfort dear. 
We had better not have given him occasion. 

God forgave the sin of David after he had repented, though he were a 
good man before ; but David bought the pleasure of his sin dear. He 
wished a thousand times that he had never given occasion to God to 
raise good out of his evil, to turn his sin to his comfort. Yet God will 
do this, because God would never have us in a state of despair. 

2. For other grievances besides sin, the comforts that we are to apply 
are more easy, and they are infinite, if we could reckon the particular 
comforts that God comforts his children withal. 

It is good to have general comforts ready for all kind of maladies and 
grievances, and* this poor, wretched life of ours, in our absence from God, 
is subject to. 

(1.) As, for instance, that general comfort, the covenant of grace. That 
is a spring of comfort, that God is our God and Father in Christ. What 
can come from a gracious and good God in covenant with us but that 
which is good ? — nothing but what is favourably good, I mean. For the 
covenant is everlasting. When God takes once upon him to be our Father 
in covenant, he is so for ever. Bum. castigas pater, dc. While he cor- 
rects, he is a Father ; and when he smiles upon us, he is a Father. 

God in the covenant of grace takes upon him a relation that ever holds. 
* Qu. 'that?'— Ed. 



58 COMMENTARY ON 

As he is for ever the Father of Christ, so he is for ever the Father of those 
that are members of Christ ; and whatsoever comes from the Father of 
mercy, whether he correct or smile, whatsoever he doth, is in mercy. 

(2.) Again, in the midst of any grievance remember the gracious pro- 
mise of mitigation, 1 Cor. x. 13. * God will not suffer us to be tempted 
above our strength, but he will give an issue to the temptation.' He 
will give a mitigation, and either he will raise our strength to the tempta- 
tion, or he will bring the temptation and trial to our strength. He will fit 
them, and this is a comfort. 

(3.) There is comfort, likewise, in all troubles whatsoever, of the pre- 
sence of God. God will be present with us if once we be in covenant 
with him. He will be present in all trials to assist us, to strengthen us, 
to comfort us, to raise our spirits. And if God be present, he will banish 
all discomforts ; for God is light, and where light is, darkness vanisheth. 
Now God, being the Father of light, that is, of all comfort, where he is pre- 
sent he banisheth discomfort in what measure he is pleased to banish it. 
Therefore David often reasoneth from the presence of God to the de- 
fiance of all troubles, Ps. iii. 6, 'If God be with me, I will not fear ten 
thousand that are against me.' And in Ps. xxiii. 4, ' Though I walk in 
the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for thou art with me.' 
And ' if God be with us, who can be against us?' Rom. viii. 33, 34. * And 
when thou passest through the fire, I will be with thee,' &c., Isa. xHii. 2. 

1 will be with thee, not to keep thee out, but to uphold thee, as he did 
the martyrs. There was a fire of comfort in them above that fire that 
consumed their bodies ; and, as we see, he was with the three children. 
There was ' a fourth, like the Son of God,' Dan. iii. 25. 

So in all tribulations there is another with us, that is, the Spirit of God, 
that comforts us in all, and is present with us in all. The goldsmith, 
when he puts the wedge into the fire, he stands by till the dross be con- 
sumed. So God is with his children in the furnace of affliction. He 
brings them into affliction ; he continues with them in affliction ; and he 
brings them at last out of affliction. The presence of God is a main and 
a grand comfort in all tribulation. 

(4.) Besides, in all that befalls us whatsoever, consider the end. All is 
for a good end. ' All things work together for the best to them that love 
God,' saith St Paul, Pcom. viii. 28. Why do we endure physic ? Because 
we know the physician is wise, and he is our friend, and he doth it to carry 
away burdensome, hurtful humours. We shall be better and lighter after- 
wards. Do we do this in our common course in the things of this life ? 
Grace will much more certainly teach us to do it ; to reason. It is from 
a father, and it is for my good. Let us look whence it comes and what 
it tends to, with the promise of mitigation and of God's presence in our 
troubles. These are main comforts, if we could think of them, if the 
devil did not take them out of our memory. 

(5.) And for the fifth* ground of comfort that God doth comfort us 
withal in all tribulations, it is the promise of final deliverance and final 
comfort for ever. If none will raise our souls, that will, when we shall con- 
sider that it will not be long. 

' The short afflictions in this world bring an eternal weight of glory,' 

2 Cor. iv. 17. There will be a final deliverance. Life itself, that is, the 
subject that receives affliction, that is short. Our life is but a moment, 
2 Cor. iv. 17. Therefore, our afflictions must be short. 

* Misprinted ' first.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 59 

Life is longer than discomforts. There is but a piece of our life sub- 
ject to miseries ; and if that be but a vapom*, but a moment, and as a 
point between eternity before and eternity after, what are the miseries of 
this life ? Certainly they are but for a moment. 

Therefore, the promise of final deliverance, when all tears shall be wiped 
from our eyes, this should comfort us, if nothing else would. This is the 
way, therefore, whereby God usually comforts, by suggesting the heads and 
springs of comfort. 

And, indeed, there is a daily method of comforting, whereby we may 
comfort ourselves in all crosses, if we would use that daily method and 
order of comfort. As there is a kind of diet to keep the body in temper, 
so there is a kind of spiritual diet to keep the soul in temper, in a course 
of comfort, unless it be when God takes hberty to cast down for some 
special end, as we see in Job. 

Therefore, let us take this course ; for God, as he comforteth us, so he 
comforts us as understanding creatures, he useth our understanding to 
consider how we should comfort ourselves ; and after we are once in a 
state of comfort, if we be not wanting to ourselves, there is no great 
difficulty to keep our comfort. There are means to keep daily comfort. 
God hath provided them, and he will be present to make good all his 
comforts. Grant it, therefore, that we are in the covenant of grace, that 
God is our Father in Christ, and we take him to be our God, to be all- 
sufficient, then, to keep ourselves in a daily temper for comfort, 

[1.] Every day keep our souls tender, that we may be capable of comfort; 
keep the wound open, that we may receive balm, that there grow not a 
deadness upon the heart, considering that while we live here there is alway 
some sin in us, that must be wrought out by some course or other. Let 
us try and search our souls, what ill is in the wound ; let us keep it open 
and tender, that there may be a fitness for mercy, to receive the balm of 
comfort, which will not be if we slubber over. Certainly it is an excellent 
course every day to search our hearts and ways, and presently to apply the 
balm of comfort, the promise of pardon. Take the present, when we have 
searched the wound, to get pardon and forgiveness daily. As we sin daily, 
Christ bids us ask it daily. 

This will make us fit for comfort, by discerning the estate of our souls, 
and the remainders of corruption. That which sharpens appetite and 
makes the balm of God to be sweet indeed, is the sense of, and the keeping 
open of our wound. A daily search into our wants and weaknesses, a 
daily fresh sight of the body of sin in us, and experience how it is fruitful 
in ill thoughts, and desires, and actions, this will drive us to a necessity of 
daily comfort. 

And certainly a fresh sight of our corruptions, it is never without some 
fresh comfort. We see St Paul, Rom. \'ii., he sets himself to this work, to 
complain of his indisposition, by reason of sin in him ; and how doth he 
end that sight and search into his own estate ? He ends in a triumphing 
manner, ' Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord : There is no 
condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,' verse 25 ; after he had 
complained, ' Oh, miserable man that I am ! who shall deliver me from this 
body of death ? ' There can be no danger in a deep search into our ways 
and hearts, if this be laid as a ground before, that there is more supply and 
heavenly comfort in God, and the promises of God, than there can be ill in 
our souls. Then the more ill we find in ourselves, the more we are dis- 
posed to fetch grounds of comfort from God. 



60 COMMENTARY ON 

■ [2.] And together witli this searching of our souls, and asking daily 
pardon, let us for the time to come renew our covenant ivith God, that we 
may have the comfort of a good conscience to get pardon for om* sins past, 
and renew our resolutions for the time to come. 

[3.] And withal, that we may use an orderly course of comfort, let us 
every did^j feed on Christ, the food of life ; let us every day feed upon some- 
thing in Christ. Consider the death of Christ, the satisfaction he hath 
made by his death, his intercession in heaven. His blood runs afresh, that 
■we may every day feed on it. 

We may run every day into new offences against the law, to new neglect 
of duty, into new crosses ; let us feed upon Christ. He came into the 
world ' to save sinners,' 1 Tim. i. 15, to make us happy, with peace of 
conscience here, and with glory afterward. Let us feed on Christ daily. 
As the body is fed with cordials, so this feeds, and comforts, and strengthens 
the soul. 

This is to live by faith, to lead our lives by faith, to feed on Christ every 
day. 

[4.] And likewise, if we will keep our souls in a perpetual temper of 
comfort, let us every day meditate of some prerogatives of Christians, that 
may raise our souls ; let us single out some or other. As for example, that 
excellent prerogative to be the ' sons of God,' 1 John iii. 2. What love ! 
saith the apostle, that we, of rebels and traitors, in Christ should be made 
the sons of God ! That of slaves, we should be made servants ; of servants, 
sons ; of sons, heirs ; and of heirs, fellow-heirs with Christ : what preroga- 
tive is this, that God should give his Son to make us, that were rebels, 
sons, heirs, and fellow-heirs with Christ ! Gal. iv. 7. And to consider 
what follows upon this liberty, that we have from the curse of the law, to 
go to God boldly, to go to the throne of grace through Christ, oui- elder 
Brother, by prayer ; to think of eternal life as om" inheritance ; to think of 
God above as our Father. Let us think of our prerogatives of religion, 
adoption, and justification, &c. 

Upon necessity we are driven to it, if we consider the grievances of this 
world, together with our corruptions.' Our corruptions, and afflictions, 
and temptations, and desertions, one thing or other, will drive us to go out 
of ourselves for comfort, to feed on the benefits by Christ. And consider 
what he hath done. It is for us, the execution of his ofiice, and all for us ; 
what he is, what he did, what he suffered, what procured, all is for us. 
The soul delighting itself in these pi'erogatives, it will keep the soul in a 
perpetual estate of comfort. Therefore the Scripture sets forth Chiist by 
all terms that may be comfortable. He is the door to let us in. ' He is 
the way, the truth, and the life,' John xiv. 6, the water and the bread, &c. 
In sin, he is our righteousness ; in death, he is our life ; in our ignorance, 
he is our way ; in spiritual hunger and thirst, he is the bread and water of 
life : he is all in all. And if we cannot think of some prerogative of 
Christianity, then think of some promise. As I said before, think of the 
covenant of grace. There is a spring of comfort in that, that God in Christ 
is our God to death, and for ever ; and that promise I speak of, that ' All 
things shall work for the best,' Kom. viii. 28. 

Let us every day think of these things, and suggest them to our own 
Bouls, that our souls may be affected with them, and digest them, that our 
souls and they maj' be one, as it were. 

[5.] And every day stir up our hearts to he thankful. A thankful heart 
can never want comfort ; for it cannot be done without some comfort and 



2 CORIXTHIANS CHAP. I, VKE. 4. 61 

cheerfulness. And when God receives any praise and glory, he answers it 
with comfort. A thankful heart is alway comfortable. 

[6.] And let us stir up om- hearts to he fruitful in the hohj actions. The 
reward of a fruitful life is a comfortable life. Besides heaven, God alway 
in this life gives a present reward to any good action. It is rewarded with 
peace of conscience. Besides, it is a good foundation against the evil day. 
Every good action, as the apostle saith to Timothy, it ' lays up a good 
foimdation,' 1 Tim. vi. 19. The more good we do, the more we are 
assured that our faith is not hypocritical, but sound and good, and will 
hold out in the time of trial. It will be a good foundation that we have had 
evidence before, that we have a sound and fruitful faith. 

What do wicked men, careless, sinful creatures, that go on in a course 
of profaneness and blasphemy, &c.? They lay a ground of despair, a 
ground of discomfort, to be swallowed up in the evil day. Then conscience 
will be awaked at the last, and Satan will be ready to join with conscience, 
and conscience will seal all the accusations that Satan lays against them ; 
and where is the poor soul then ? As it is with them, so, on the contrary, 
the Christian soul that doth good, besides the present comfort of a good 
conscience, it lays a good foundation against the time to come ; for in the 
worst times, it can reason with itself. My faith is not fruitless, I am not an 
hypocrite. Though the fruits of it be weak, and mixed with corruptions, 
yet there is tnith in them. This wiU comfort us when nothing else will. ' 

Therefore let us every day be setting ourselves in some good way ; for 
comfort is in comfortable courses, and not in ill courses. In God's ways 
we shall have God's comforts. In those ways let us exercise the spiritual 
strength we have ; let us pray to God, and perform the exercise of religion 
with strength, shew some zeal in it ; let us shew some zeal against sin, if 
occasion be, if it be in God's work, in God's way. Let a man set him- 
self upon a good work, especially when it is in opposition ; for the honour 
of God, and the peace of his conscience. Presently there is comfort upon it. 

[7. J And that we may not be discouraged with the imperfection of our 
performances, one way of daily comfort is, to consider the condition of the 
covenant of grace between God and us. In the covenant of grace, our per- 
formances, if they be sincere, they are accepted ; and it is the perfection 
of the gospel, sincerity. Sincerity will look God in the face with comfort, 
because he is with the upright. So much truth in all our dealings, so 
much comfort. 

[8.] And with sincerity labour for growth, to grow better and better. 
God in the gospel means to bring us to perfection in heaven by little and 
little. In the law there was present perfection required ; but in the gospel 
God requires that we should come to perfection by little and little, as Christ 
by little and little satisfied for our sins, and not all at once. In the condi- 
tion of the covenant of grace, we must live and grow by grace, by little and 
little, and not all at once. The condition of the covenant of grace is not 
to him that hath strength of grace in perfection. But if we believe and 
labour to walk with God, if there be truth of grace, truth goes for perfection 
in the covenant of grace. We should labour for sound knowledge of the 
covenant of grace, that now we are freed from the rigour, as well as from 
the curse of the law ; that though we have imperfections, 3'et God will be 
our Father, and in this condition of imperfection he will be a pardoning 
Father, and looks on our obedience, though it be feeble, and weak, and 
imperfect, yet, being the obedience of children in the covenant of grace, 
and he accepts of what is his own, and pardons what is ours. 



t)2 COMMENTARY ON 

[9.j And every day labour to preserve the comfoHs of the Spirit that we 
have, not to grieve the Spirit ; for comfort comes with the Spirit of God, 
as heat accompanies the fire. As wheresoever &ce is, there is heat ; so 
wheresoever the Spirit of God is, there is comfort ; because the Spirit of 
God is God, and God is with comfort. Wheresoever comfort is, God is ; 
and wheresoever God is, there is comfort. If we would have comfort con- 
tinually every day, let us carefully watch that we give way to the Spirit of 
God, by good actions, and meditations, and exercises. 

And by no means grieve the Spirit, or resist the Spirit, for then we resist 
comfort. If we speak any thing that is ill, we lose our comfort for that 
time. Conscience will check us. We have grieved the Spirit. If we hear 
any thing with applause, and are not touched with it, we lose our comfort ; 
conscience will toll us we are dead-hearted, and not affected as we should 
be. There is a great deal of flesh and corruption that is affected with such 
rotten discourse. And so if we venture upon occasions, we shall grieve the 
Spirit, either if we speak somewhat to satisfy others that are nought,* or if 
we hear somewhat that is ill from others. Want of wisdom in this kind, 
doth make us go without comfort many times : want of wisdom to single 
out our company, or else |if we be with such, to do that that may 
please them, and gi'ieve the Spirit, and hinder our own comfort. 

[10.] These and such like directions, if we would observe, we might walk 
in a course of comfort. The God of comfort hath prescribed this in the 
book of comfort. These are the courses for God's childi-en, to walk in a 
comfortable way, till they come to heaven. More especially, if we would 
at any time take a more full measure of comfort, then take the book of God 
into your hand. Those are comforts that refresh the soul. Single out 
some special portion of Scripture, and there you shall have a world of com- 
fort, as, for example, let a man single out the Epistle to the Romans. 
If a man be in any grievance whatsoever, what a world of comfort is there, 
fitting for every malady ! There is a method how to come to comfort. 

There St Paul, in the beginning, first strips all men of confidence of any 
thing in themselves, and tells them that no man can be saved by works, 
Jews nor Gentiles, but all by the righteousness of God in Christ. ' All are 
deprived of the glory of God,' Rom. iii. 19, Jews, and Gentiles, every- 
body. And when we are brought to Christ, he tells us, in the latter end of 
the third chapter, that by Christ we have the forgiveness of all our former 
sins whatsoever. * He is the propitiation for our sins.' In the fourth 
chapter he comforts us by the example of Abraham and David, that they 
were justified without works by faith, not by works of their own, but by 
laying hold of the promises of comfort and salvation merely by Christ. And 
all that St Paul saith is ' written for us,' 1 Cor. x. 11. But in the first 
chapter especially, because all the miseries of this life come from the ' first 
Adam.' Because we are children of the ' first Adam,' death and misery 
comes from that. He opposeth the comfort in the ' second Adam,' and he 
shews that there is more comfort by the second Adam, than there is dis- 
comfort by the first. Righteousness in the second Adam ' reigns to life 
everlasting,' Rom. v. 17, and glory. Sin and misery came by the first, but 
there is the pardon of all sin by the second Adam. He doth excellently 
oppose them in the latter end of that chapter. In the beginning of the fifth 
chapter he shews there the method, and descent of joy, ' Being justified by 
faith, in Christ, we have peace with God,' Rom. v. 1. Considering that by 
the righteousness of Christ we are freed from sin, ' We have peace with 
* Qu. ' naught ? '—Ed. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP, I, VER. 4. 63 

God through Jesus Chi-ist our Lord,' Rom. v. 1. And ' we have boldness 
to the throne of gi'ace, and we rejoice in tiibulation : knowing that tribula- 
tion brings forth patience ; and patience, experience ; and experience, hope,' 
Rom. V. 4. He sets himself there of purpose to comfort in all tribulation, 
and he saith, in these things we rejoice, ' We rejoice in tribulation.' 

Aye, but for our sins after our conversion, after we are in the state of 
grace, what comfort is there for them ? There is excellent comfort in the 
fifth of the Romans. * If when we were enemies he gave his Son for us :' 
if he saved us by the death of Christ when we were enemies, much more, 
Christ being aUve, and in heaven, he will keep it for us ; and keep us to 
salvation now, when we are friends, seeing he died for us when we were 
enemies. Aye, but the remainders of corruption in this world trouble us. 
That troubles our comfort, the combat between the flesh and the Spirit. 
Would you see comfort for that ? You shall see it in Romans vii. 24, 25. 
' Oh, miserable man, who shall dehver me from this body of death ? Thanks 
be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' So he shews there what way 
to have comfort in the combat between the flesh and the spirit, to search 
into our corruptions, to lay them open to God by confession. 

And then, in the beginning of the eighth chapter, saith he, * There is no 
condemnation to them that are in Chi'ist Jesus,' ver. 1. Though there be 
sin, yet there is no condemnation ; though there be this conflict between 
the flesh and the spirit. So he comforts them. And for the afilictions that 
follow our corruptions in this life, there is a treasure of comfort against 
them in that chapter ; for doth he not say, ' if we suffer with him, we shall 
reign with him,' ver. 17. And the same ' Spirit helps our infirmities, and 
teacheth us how to pray?' ver. 26. We can never be uncomfortable if 
we can pray ; but there is a promise of the Spirit that stirs up sighs, and 

* groans that cannot be expressed,' ver. 26, and a Christian hath alway a 
spirit of prayer, at the least of sighs and groans ; and God hears the sighs 
of his own Spirit. 

And what a gi-and comfort is that, that I named before, verse 28, * All 
things work for the best to them that love God.' And ' if God be with us, 
who can be against us.' ver. 33. And he sends us to Chi'ist. If Christ 
be dead, ' or rather risen again, who shall lay anything to our charge ?' 
Christ is * ascended to heaven, and makes intercession at the right hand of 
God,' ver. 34. Though Satan lay our sins to our charge, Christ makes 
intercession in heaven at the right hand of God. He makes continual inter- 
cession for our continual breaches with God. Who shall lay anything to 
our charge ? Aye, but all that power of hell and sin ! and all labour to 
separate us from God, to breed division between God and us. In the lat- 
ter end of that chapter he bids defiance to all, what shall ' separate us from 
the love of God in Christ ?' ver. 35. It shall separate his love from Christ 
first. God's love is found in Christ. He shall cease to love Christ if he 
cease to love us. Aye, but we may afterward fall into an uncomfortable 
case. For that he saith, ' neither things present, nor things to come, shall 
be able to separate us,' ver. 38. 

What an excellent spring of comfort is there in that reasoning, verse 82, 

• If God spared not his own Son, but gave him to death for us all, how 
shall he not with him give us all things else.' How many streams may be 
drawn from that spring ! ' If God spared not his own Son, but gave him 
to death for us all, how shall he not with him give us all things else' in this 
world necessary, grace, provision, and protection, till he have brought us 
to heaven ? If he have given Christ, he will give all. Whatsoever is writ- 



G4 COMMENTARY OX 

ten, is written for our comfort. I name-!= tliis epistle, because I would 
name one instance for all. ' All is written for our comfort,' as he saith 
after in the same epistle, xv. 4. The written word, or the word unfolded ; 
the end of preaching, is especially to comfort. The chirurgeon opens a 
wound, and the physician gives a purge, but all is to restore at the last. 
All that the chirurgeon aims at, is to close up the wound at the last. So 
all our aim is to comfort. We must cast you down, and shew you your 
misery that you are in, and shew you, that if you continue in that course, 
hell and damnation belongs to you. But this is to make you despair in 
yourselves, and to fly to the God of comfort. The law is for the gospel. 
All serve to bring the soul to comfort. 

Therefore go to the word of God, any portion, the Psalms or any special 
part of the Scripture ; and that, by the Spirit of God, will be a means to 
raise the soul. The Spirit in the Vvord, joining with the Spirit in us, will 
make a sweet close together, and comfort us in all tribulation. 

[11.] And have recourse daily to co7nmon principles. All the principles of 
religion serve for comfort, especially the articles of the creed. ' I believe in 
God the Father Almighty.' What a spring of comfort is in that ! What 
can befall from a father, but it shall turn to good, and by a Father Almighty ? 
Though he be never so strongly opposed, yet he will turn it to good. He 
is a ' Father Almighty.' And the articles of Christ, every article hath 
ground of daily comfort, of his abasement. In Christ, I see myself. He 
is my surety, ' the second Adam.' I see my sins crucified with him. This 
is the way to reap comfort when the conscience is disquieted. When I look 
upon my sins, not in my own conscience, but take it out there, and see it 
in Christ dying, and crucified, in the articles of abasement to see our sin, 
and misery, all in Christ. f For he stood there as surety, as a public per- 
son for all. What a comfort is this ! When I see how Christ was abased, 
I see my own comfort, for he was my surety. If my sins being laid on 
him, who was my surety, could not condemn him, or keep him in the grave, 
but overcame sin that was laid to his charge, surely]; I shall overcome my 
corruptions. Nothing that I have shall overcome me, because it could not 
overcome Christ my surety. His victory is mine. 

And so, if the soul be in any desolation and discomfort, all the articles 
of his ' glorification and exaltation.' His rising again acquits the soul. 
Therefore my sins are satisfied for, because my surety is out of prison. 
And his ascending into heaven shews my triumph. He led captivity cap- 
tive. And the enemies that are left are for the trial of my faith, and not 
to conquer me. For Christ hath ' led captivity captive,' Ps. Ixviii. 18, 
and is ascended into heaven. He led all in triumph, and sits at the 
right hand of God, to rule his church to the end of the world. He sits for 
me to overcome my enemies, as St Paul saith excellently, Rom. viii. 33, 
* Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's people ? It is Christ that 
died, or rather, that is risen again, who sits at the right hand of God.' 

And if we be troubled for the loss of a particular friend, there is com- 
fort in that article of the ' communion of saints.' There are those that have 
more grace, and that is for me. If my own prayers be weak, ' I believe 
the communion of saints,' and have the benefit of their prayers. Every 
one that saith ' Our Father' brings me in, if I be in the covenant of grace, 
and of the communion of saints. If I have weaknesses in myself, ' I believe 
in the Holy Ghost,' the comforter of God's elect, and my comforter. If I 

* Misprinted ' mean'. — G. f Articles I. and IV., and infra IX. — Q. 

i That is, ' assuredly.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. G5 

fear death, * I believe the resurrection of the body.' If I fear the day of 
judgment, * I believe that Chiist shall be my judge.' He shall come to 
judge the quick and the dead. In all the miseries of this life, considering 
that they are but short, ' I believe the life everlasting.' So that indeed if 
we would dig to om-selves springs of comfort, let us goto the ai'ticles of our 
faith, and see how there ai'e streams of comfort from every one answerable 
to all our particular exigencies and necessities whatsoever. 

And to close up this point, remember, whatsoever means we use, what 
prerogative soever we think of, whatsoever we do, remember we go to the 
God of comfort, and desire him to bless his word in the ministry, and 
desire him to work in the communion of saints, with his Spirit to warm 
our hearts. Alway remember to carry him along in all, that we may have 
comfort from ' the God of comfort, who comforteth m all tribulations.' 

Next words are, 

' That we may able to comfort tlwn which are in any trouble.'' These 
words shew the end why God doth comfort us in all tribulation. One 
main end is, that we should he comforted in ourselves. That is the first. 
And then, that we, being comforted oui'selves, from that ability should he 
ahle to derive* comfort to others. ' We are comforted in all tribulations, 
that we should he able to comfort them, that are in any tribidation.' 

It is not St Paul's case only, and great men in religion, ministers and 
the like. It is not their lot and portion alone to be persecuted and troubled, 
but 

Obs. We are all in this life subject to disquiets and discomforts. 

Every one, ' whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suft'er per- 
secution,' 2 Tim. iii. 12. Therefore the apostle saith not only our+ tribula- 
tion ; but that ' we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble.' 
Trouble is the portion of all God's children one with another. I do but 
touch that by the way; But that which I shall more stand upon, it is the 
end, one main end why God comforteth, especially ministers : it is, that they 
should be able to comfort others with the comforts that God hath comforted 
them withal. ' That we may be able,' kc. Now you must conceive that this 
ability, it is not ability alone without will and practice, as if he meant, God 
hath given me comfort that I might be able to comfort others if I will. 
That is not God's end only, that we may be able, but that we may exercise 
our ability, that it may be ability in exercise ; as God doth not give a rich 
man riches to that end that he may be able to relieve others if he will. 
No ! But if thou be a child of God, he gives thee ability and will too, he 
gives an inward strength. So the meaning here is, not that we may be 
able to comfort others if we will, but that we may be both able and willing 
to comfort others. 

And to comfort others not only by our example, that because we have 
been comforted of God, so they shall be comforted. It is good, but it is 
not the full extent of the apostle's meaning ; for then the dead examples 
should comfort as well as the living. And indeed that is one way of com- 
fort, to consider the examples of former times. But the apostle's meaning 
is, that I should comfort them not only by my example of God's dealing 
with me, that they should look for the like comfort. That is but one de- 
gree. His meaning is further therefore, tint we should be able to comfort 
them by sympathizing with them ; as indeed it is a sweet comfort to those 
that are in distress when others compassionate their estate. 

* That is, ' communicate.' — G t Qu., 'one?' — Ed. 

VOL. III. E 



66 COMMENTAKY ON 

And not only so, by our example and sympathy with them, but likemse 
that we may be able to comfort them by the imvard support, and strength, 
and light that we have found by the Spirit of God in ourselves. That is 
that that will enable us to comfort others, from that very support and in- 
ward strength that we have found from God ; by those graces, and that 
particular strength and comfort that we have had. When there is a sweet 
expressing of our inward comfort to them, shewing something in our com- 
fort that may raise them up, in the like troubles that we were in, then the 
comfort will not be a dead comfort, when it comes from a man experienced. 
Personated comfort, when a man takes upon him to comfort, that only 
speaks comfort, but feels not what he speaks, there is little life in it. We 
are comforted that we may comfort others, with feeling, ha^^ng been com- 
forted ourselves before, with feeUng, and comfortable apprehensions in our- 
selves. The point considerable in the first place, to make way to the rest, 
is this, that 

Doct. God's children, they have all of them interest in divine comforts. 

St Paul was comforted, that he might comfort others. Divine comforts 
belong to all. They are the portion of all God's people. The meanest 
have interest, as well [as] the greatest. There is the same spiritual physic 
for the poorest subject, and the greatest monarch. There is the same 
spiritual comfort for the meanest, and for the gi-eatest Christian in the 
world. St Paul hath the same comfort as St Paul's children in the faith. 
What is the reason that they are communicable thus to all ? that they lie 
open to all ? 

Reason 1. God is the God and Father of all light and comfort. Christ 
is the Saviour of all. All the privileges of religion belong to all equally. 
All are sons and heirs, and all are ahke redeemed, ' The brother of low 
degree, and the brother of high degree,' James i. 9. They may differ in 
the references and relations of this life, but in Christ all are alike. 

Reason 2. Besides, it is the nature of spiritual privileffes and blessings. 
They are communicable to all alike without impairing. The more one hath, 
the less another hath not. All have an equal share. Every one hath 
interest entire ; every one hath aU, without loss or hindrance to others. 
As for instance, the sun, every particular man hath all the good the sun 
can do, as well as all the world hath. It is peculiarly and entirely every 
man's own, Everyman in solidmn hath the use of it. The sun is not one 
man's more than another. As a public fountain or conduit, every man 
hath as much right in it as another. So in religion, the graces, and privi- 
leges, and favours, they lie open as the prerogatives and privileges of all 
God's children ; and that is the excellency of them. In the things of this 
life it is not so. They are not common to all alike. There is a loss in 
the division. The more one hath, the less another hath. And that is the 
reason why the things of this life breed a disposition of pride and envy. 
One envies another, because he wants that that another hath ; and one 
despiseth another, because he hath more than another hath ; but in the 
comforts of God's Spirit, and the prerogatives that are the ground of those 
comforts, all have interest alike. 

Only the difference is in the vessels they bring. If one man bring a 
large vessel, a large faith, he carries more ; and another that brings a less 
faith carries less, but it lies open to all alike. As St C^'prian saith, we 
carry as much from God as we bring vessels. But all have interest alike 
in divine comforts. 

Therefore among Christians there is little envy, because in the best 



2 OOPvINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 67 

things, which they value best, all may have alike ; and that which one 
desires, another may have as much as he. He knows he hath never the less. 

Use. The point is comfortable to all, even to the meanest, and to them 
especially, that howsoever there be a difference between others and them in 
outward things, that cease in death (for all differences shall cease ere long 
between us and others), yet the best things are common. In this life those 
things that are necessary, they are common, as the light, and the elements, 
fire, and water, &c. ; and those are necessary'* that are not common. But 
especially in spiritual things, the best things are common. Let no man be dis- 
comforted, if he be God's child. Comfort belongs to him, as well as to the 
greatest apostle. The chiefest comforts belong to him as well as to the chief- 
est Christian. Therefore, let us emy none, nor despise none in this respect. 

In the next place, we may observe here, hence, that though these comforts 
he common, yet God derives these comforts commonly by the means of men. 

This is God's order in deriving these comforts to the soul. He comforts 
one, that another may be comforted. Not that the comforts themselves 
that join with our spirits come from men, but that, together with the speech 
and presence of men whom we love and respect, and in whom we discern 
the appearance of the Spint of God to dwell, together with the speech 
of persons in whom the Spirit is strong and powerful, the Spirit of God 
ioins, and the Spirit raiseth the soul with comfort. So the Spii'it com- 
forteth, by comforting others, that they may comfort us. 

This is not only true of ministers, but it is true of Christians, as Chris- 
tians. For St Paul must be considered, in something as an apostle, in 
something as a Christian, in something as a minister of Christ. As an 
apostle, he had the care of ' all the churches,' &c., 2 Cor. xi. 28. As a 
Christian, he comforted and exhorted others. One Chi'istian ought to 
comfort another. Therefore he would have done it as a Christian, if he 
had not been an apostle. And in something he is to be considered as a 
minister of Christ, as a teacher and ambassador of Christ, a teacher of the 
gospel. He was somewhat as an apostle, somewhat as a minister, some- 
what as a Christian. Therefore it concerns us all to consider how to 
comfort one another as Christians. We are all members of the same body 
whereof Christ is the head. Therefore whatsoever comfort we feel, we 
ought to communicate. 

The celestial bodies will teach us this. Whatsoever light or influence 
the moon and the stars receive, they bestow it on these inferior bodies. 
They have their light from the sun, and they reflect it again upon the 
creatures below. In the fabric of man's body, those ofiicial parts, as we 
call them, those parts and members of the body, the heart and the liver, 
which are both members and ofiicial parts, that do office and service to 
oLher parts, they convey and derive the spirits and the blood to all other 
parts. They receive strength, partly for themselves first, and then to 
convey it to other members. The liver is fed itself with some part of the 
blood, and it conveys the rest to the veins, and so to the whole body. The 
heart is nourished itself of the purest nourishment, the spirits are increased, 
and those spirits are spread through the arteries. 

The stomach feeds itself with the meat it digests, and with the strength 
it hath. Being an official part, it serves other parts, and strengtheneth 
other parts ; and if there be a decay in it, there is a decay in all the parts 
of the body. So a Christian ought to strengthen himself, and then 
strengthen others. No man is for himself alone. And although whatso- 
* Qu., ' not necessary?' — Ed. 



68 COMMENTARY ON 

over the means be, the comfort comes from God, yet he will have comfort 
to be conveyed to us by men this way. 

Reason 1. Partly to tri/ our obedience, whether we will respect his ordi- 
nance. He will have us go to men like om-selves. Now, if we will have 
comfort, we must look to his ordinance, we must have it of others, and not 
altogether from ourselves. And that is the reason why many go all their 
lifetime with heavj'', drooping spirits. Out of pride and neglect, they scorn 
to seek it of others. They smother their grief, and bleed inwardly ; because 
they will not lay open the state of their souls to others. Although God be 
* the God of comfort,' he hath ordained this order, that he will comfort us 
by them that he hath appointed to comfort us. He comforteth others, that 
they may comfort us. Though God be the God of comfort, yet he conveys 
it, for the most part, by the means of others. I say for the most part ; for 
he ties not himself to means, though he tie us to means, when we have 
means. Occasion may be, when a man is shut from all earthly comforts, as 
in contagious diseases, and restraint, &c. A man may be shut from all 
intercourse of worldly comforts ; but even then, a Christian is never in such 
an estate, but he hath one comfort or other. Then God comforts immediately, 
and then he comforts more sweetly and strongly ; then the soul cleaves to him 
close, and saith. Now thou must comfort or none, now the honour is all thine. 

Now the nearer the soul is to the fountain of comfort, the more it is 
comforted, but the soul is never so near to God as in extremity of affliction. 
When all means fail, then the soul goes to the fountain of comfort, and 
gives all the glory to him. But I say, when there is means, God hath 
appointed to derive his comfort by means ; when we may have the benefit, 
of the communion of saints, of the word, &c. God will not comfort us 
immediately in the neglect of the means. ' He comforteth us, that we 
might comfort others.' And as he doth it to try our obedience. 

Reason 2. So partly, to knit us in love one to another. For is not this a 
great bond to knit us one to another, when we consider that our good is 
hid in another ? The good that is derived to us, it is hid in others. And 
this makes us to esteem highly of others. How sweet are the looks and 
sight of a friend ! and more sweet the words of a fi-iend, especially of an 
experienced friend, that hath been in the furnace himself. 

Thus God, to knit us one to another in love, hath ordained that the com- 
fort that he conveys, it should be conveyed by the means of others. Other 
reasons there may be given, but these are sufficient. 

Use. If this be so, then we ought from hence to learn, that ivhatsoever ive 
have we are debtors of it to others, whatsoever comfort we have, whether it 
be outward or inward comfort. 

And even as God hath disposed and dispensed his benefits and graces to 
us, so let us be good stewards of it. We shall give account of it ere long. 
Let eveiy man reason with himself, why have I this comfort that another 
wants ? I am God's steward ; God hath not given it to me to lay up, but 
to lay out. To speak a little of outward comforts. It is cursed atheism in 
many rich persons, that think they are to live here only to scrape an estate 
for them and their children ; when in the mean time their neighbours want, 
and God's children want, that are as dear to God as themselves, and perish 
for want of comfort. If they were not atheists in this point, they would 
think I am a steward, and what comfort shall I have of scraping much ? 
That will but increase my account. Such a steward were mad that would 
desire a great account. The more my account is, the more I have to an- 
swer for, and the more shall be my punishment if I quit not all well. 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 69 

Now men out of atheism, that do not believe a day of judgment, a 
time of account, they engross comforts to them and theirs, as if there were 
not a church, as if there were not an afflicted body of Christ. They think 
not that they are stewards. Whereas the time will come, when they 
shall have more comfort of that that they have bestowed, than of that that 
they shall leave behind them to their children. That which is msely dis- 
pensed for the comfort of God's people, it will comfort us, when all that 
we shall leave behind will not, nay, perhaps it will trouble us, the ill get- 
ting of it. 

And so whatsoever inward comforts we have, it is for the comfort of 
others. We are debtors of it. Whatsoever ability we have, as occasion is 
offered, if there be a necessity in those that are of the same body with our- 
selves, we ought to regard them in pity and compassion. If we should see 
a poor creature cast himself into a whirlpool, or plunge himself into some 
desperate pit, were we not accessory to his death, if we should not help 
him ! if we would not pull one out of the fire ? Oh, yes ! and is not the 
soul in as great danger ? and is not mercy to the soul the greatest mercy ? 
shall we see others ready to be swallowed up in the pit of despair, with 
heaviness of spirit ? shall we see them dejected, and not take it to heart ? 
But either we are unable to minister a word of comfort to them, or else 
unwilling : as if we were of Cain's disposition, that we would look to our- 
selves only ; ' we are none of their keepers,' Gen. iv. 9. 

It is a miserable thing to profess ourselves to be members of that body 
whereof Christ is the head, to profess the communion of saints, and yet 
to be so dead-hearted in these particular exigencies and occasions. _ It lies 
upon us as a duty, if God convey comforts to us ft'om others ; and his end in 
comforting us any way, of putting any comfort in our hands outward or in- 
ward, it is to comfort others. If we do it not, we are Hable to sin, to the 
breach of God's command, and we fi-ustrate God's end. 

But if this he upon us as a duty to comfort others, then it concerns us to 
know how to be able to do it. 

That we may be able to comfort others, let us, 

(1.) Be ready to take notice of the grievance of others; as Moses went 
to see the afflictions of his brethren, and when he saw it, laid it to heart, 

Ex. iv. 31. •• o ^ . 

It is a good way to go to ' the house of mournmg,' Eccles. vn. 2, and not 
to balk and decline our Christian brethren in adversity. God ' knows our 
souls in adversity, Ps. xxxi. 7 ; so should we do the souls of others, if they 
be knit to us in any bond of kindred, or nature, or neighbourhood, or the 
like. That bond should provoke us ; for bonds are as the veins and arte- 
ries to derive comfort. All bonds are to derive good, whether bonds of 
neighbourhood, or acquaintance, &c. A man should think with himself, I 
have this bond to do my neighbour good. It is God's providence that I 
should be acquainted with him, and do that to him that I cannot do to a 
stranger. Let us consider all bonds, and let this work upon us : let us 
consider their grievance is a bond to tie us. 

(2.) And withal let us labour to put upon its the boiceh of a father and 
mother, tender bowels, as God puts upon him bowels of compassion 
towards us. So St Paul, being an excellent comforter of others, in 1 Thess. 
ii. 7, he shews there how he carried himself as a father, or mother, or 
nurse to them. Those that will comfort others, they must put upon them 
the affections of tender creatures as may be. They must be patient, they 



70 COMMENTARY ON 

must be tenderly affected, they must have love, they must have the graces 
of communion. 

What be the graces of communion ? The graces of Christian com- 
munion to fit us in the communion of saints to do good, they ai'e a loving, 
meek, patient spirit. Love makes patient. As we see mothers and nurses, 
what can they not endm-e of their children, because they love them ? And 
they must be likewise wise and furnished. They that will comfort others 
must get wisdom and ability. They must get humility, they must abase 
themselves that they may be comfortable to others, and not stand upon 
terms. These be the graces of communion that fit us for the communion 
of saints. 

What is the reason that many are so untoward to this duty, and have no 
heart to it, that they cannot indeed do it ? 

The reason is, they consider not their bonds : they do not ' consider 
the poor and needy,' Ps. xli. 1. They have not the graces of communion, 
they want loving spirits, they want ability, they are empty, they are not 
furnished, they have not knowledge laid up in store, they want humble 
spirits. The want of these graces makes us so ban-en in this practice of 
the communion of saints. Therefore we should bewail our own barren- 
ness when we should do such duties, and cannot. And beg of God the 
spirit of love and wisdom, that we may do things wisely, that we may speak 
that which is fit. ' A word in season is as apples of gold with pictures of 
silver,' Prov. xxv. 11. And let us beg a humble spu'it, that we may be 
abased to comfort others. As Christ in love to us he abased himself, he 
became man, and when he was man, he became a servant, he abased him- 
self to wash his disciples' feet, talk with a silly woman, and such base 
offices. And if the Spirit of Christ be in us, it will abase us to offices of 
love, to support one another, to bear one another's burthens,' Gal. vi. 2. 

(3.) Again, if we would comfort others as we should, let us labour to get 
experience of comfort in ourselves. God comforteth us that we might be 
able to comfort others. He will easily kindle others that is all on fire 
himself, and that is comforted himself. He can easily comfort others 
with that comfort he feels himself. Those that have experience can do it 
best. 

As we see in physicians, if there be two physicians, whereof the one hath 
been sick of the disease that he is to cure in another ; the other perhaps is 
more excellent than he otherwise, but he hath never been sick of it ; the 
patient will sooner trust himself with the experienced physician than with 
the other ; for undoubtedly he is better seen in that than the other, though 
perhaps the other may be a greater booked* physician than he. As it is 
with the physicians of the body, so it is with the physician of the soul : 
the experienced physician is the best. What is the reason that old men, 
and wise men, are the mercifulest of all ? Because they have had expe- 
rience of many crosses and miseries. A wise man knows what crosses are ; 
he understands them best. 

The way, then, to comfort others, is to get experience of divine comforts 
ourselves. And that we may get experience of God's comforts, let us mark 
what was said before of the rules of comfort, and work upon our own hearts 
whatsoever may be comfortable to others ; that we may not be empty 
trunks to speak words without feeling. 

He that is well may speak very good things to a sick man, but the sick 
man sees that he speaks without pity and compassion. Those that have 
* Tliat is, ' book-learned.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, A'ER. 4. 71 

been sick of the same disease, -when they come to comfort, they do it with 
a great deal of meekness and mildness. Those that are fit to comfort 
others must be spiritual themselves fii'st, as the apostle saith, Gal. vi. 1. 
Saith the wise and holy apostle, ' If any man be overtaken,' as, alas ! we 
are all overtaken with some corruption or other, 'ye that are spiritual, restore 
such a one,' set him in joint, as the word is (?'), ' with the spirit of meek- 
ness, knowing that thou thyself mayest be tempted.' 

The Spirit of God is a Spirit of comfort. The more we have of the 
Spirit, the fitter we are to comfort others. We see many men will speak 
very good things, but they do but personate soiTOW, and personate comfort. 
It comes from them without feeling. As he saith. If thou didst beheve 
these things that thou speakest, wouldst thou ever say them so ? He 
that speaks good things without experience, he speaks as if he did never 
beheve them. Those that speak things with experience, that have wrought 
them upon their hearts and spirits, there is such a demonstration in the 
manner of their speaking, of a spirit of love and meekness, and compas- 
sion, that it prevails maiwellously. It is so true that our Saviom- Chi'ist 
himself, that he might have the more tender bowels of compassion towards 
us, he made it one end of his incarnation, as it is pressed again and again 
in Heb. ii. and Heb. iv. The apostle dwells upon it, ' It became him to be 
man, to take upon him our infirmities, that he might be a merciful Re- 
deemer, a merciful high priest,' Heb. ii. 17. It was one end of his incar- 
nation that he might not only save us, but that he might be a merciful 
Redeemer, that he might have experience of our infirmities. Of persecu- 
tion, he was persecuted himself; of want, he wanted himself; of tempta- 
tion, he was tempted himself ; of wrath, he felt it himself, ' My God, my 
God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' Mark xv. 34. 

Here is the comfort of a Christian soul, that Christ hath begun to him in 
ah. Therefore it became hun to be man, not only to redeem us, but to be 
a merciful high priest, a comfoz-table high priest. 

The way, then, you see, how to comfort others, is, to get our own hearts 
sensible of spiritual comfort. Two irons, if they be both hot, do close to- 
gether presently, but unless both be hot, they do not join together hand- 
somely. So that that makes us join together strongly is, if two spirits 
meet, and both be warm ; if one godly man comfort another godly man ; if 
one holy man labour to breed an impression of heat in another, there is a 
knitting of both spirits, they join strongly together. Therefore we ought 
to labour to get experience, that we may comfort others, seeing none can 
comfort so well as experimental Christians. 

Quest. Why is experience such an enabling to spiritual comfort ? 

A71S. 1. I answer, because it brings the comfort home to our own souls. 
The devil knows comfort well enough, but he feels none. Experience helps 
faith, it helps all other knowledge. Our Saviour Christ is said to learn by 
experience, for ' he learned obedience in that he sufiered,' Heb. v. 8. Ex- 
perience is such a means of the increasing of knowledge, as that it bettered 
the knowledge of Christ, that had aU knowledge in him. He had know- 
ledge by looking upon God, being the ' wisdom of God,' 1 Cor. i. 30, yet he 
leai-ned somewhat by the experience, he bettered himself by experience. 
He knew what to bear the cross was by experience. He knew what infir- 
mities were by experience. He knew what he could sufler by experience. 
So it added to his knowledge as man. And so the angels themselves are 
continual students in the mysteries of the gospel. They get experimental 
knowledge to the knowledge that they have inbred, and that knowledge that 



72 COJIMENTAKV ON 

they have by the presence of God. To that they add experimental know- 
ledge. 

So then, if it bettered the knowledge of our blessed Saviour, and increased 
it, [if J it was a new way increased by experience, and it adds to the know- 
ledge of the angels, much more to ours. 

2. Then, again, it gains a great confidence in the speaker ; for what we 
Bpeak with experience, we speak with a great deal of boldness. 

3. Again, experimental comforts, those that we have felt ourselves, and 
have felt likewise the grievance, ice speak them irith such expressions as no 
other can do, in the apprehension of the party whom we comfort, so weU 
as an experienced person. For he goes about the work tenderly and gently 
and lovingly, because he hath been in the same himself. And that is the 
reason that the apostle St Paul, in the place I named before. Gal. vi. 1, 
presseth this duty upon spiritual men, especially because themselves have 
been tempted, and may be tempted. Those that have been tempted, and 
think they may be afterward, this doth wondrously fit them for this work 
of comforting others. But to add a little in t'lis point, to shew how to 
comfort others by our own experience and skill, I spake before of an art of 
comforting ourselves. There is a skill likewise in comforting others. 
Even as we comfort ourselves, in that method we must comfort others. 
When we comfort ourselves, we must first consider our need of comfort, 
search our wounds, our maladies, have them fresh in our sight, that so wo 
may be forced to seek for comfort ; and as we ought to do this daily, so when 
we are to comfort others, 

(1.) We ought not only to comfort them, bat to search them as much as 
we can, what sin is in them, and what misery is upon them, and acquaint 
them with their own estate that they are in, as far as we can discern. We 
may judge of them partly by ourselves. For we must not prostitute com- 
forts to persons that are indisposed, till we see them fitted. God doth 
comfort, but it is the abject. Christ heals, but [it] is the wounded spirit. 
He came to seek, but it is those that are lost. He came to ease, but it 
is those that are ' heavy laden.' Therefore, that we may comfort them to 
pm'pose, we ought to shew, and discover to them, what estate they are in, 
that we may force them to comfort, if they be not enemies to comfort and 
to their own souls. 

He is an unwise physician that administers cordials before he gives pre- 
paratives to carry away the noisome humours. They will do little good. 
We ought therefore to prepare them this way, if we intend to do them good. 

(2.) And then when we see what need they stand in, bring them to Christ 
and the covenant of grace. That is the best way to comfort them, to bring 
them to see that God is their Father, when we discern some signs of grace 
in them. For this is the main stop in all comfort, that there is none but 
they shall find by experience. They are ready to say. You teach wondrous 
comforts, that there is an inheritance in heaven that God hath provided ; 
and on earth, there is an issue of all for good, and there is a presence of 
God in troubles ! This is true ; but how shall I know this belongs to me ? 
This is the cavil of flesh and blood, that turns the back to the most heavenly 
comforts that are. The main and principal thing therefore in dealing with 
others, and with our own hearts, is to let them see that there are some signs 
and evidences that they are in the covenant of grace, that they belong to 
God. Unless we see that, all the comfort we can give them is to tell them 
that they are not yet sunk into hell, and that they have space to repent. 
But as long as men Ua c in sinful courses, that they are not in a state of 



2 COSIXTHIANS CilAP. I, VEE. 4. 73 

grace, we can tell them no comfort, except they will devise a new Scripture, 
a new Bible. If they do so, they may have comfort. But this word of 
God, God herein speaks no comfort to persons that live in sin, and will do 
60. We should labour therefore to discern some evidence that they are in 
the state of grace. 

And ofttimes those are indeed most entitled to comfort that think it fur- 
thest from them. Therefore we should acquaint them with the conditions 
of the covenant of grace, that God looks to truth. Therefore if we discern 
any true, broken, humble spirit, a hungering and a thirsting after righteous- 
ness, and a desire of comfort, ' Blessed are those that hunger and thirst,' 
Mat. V. 6 ; it belongs to them, we may comfort them. If we see spiritual 
poverty, that they see their wants, and would be supplied, ' Blessed are the 
poor in spirit,' Mat. v. 3 ; ' Be of good comfort,' Christ calls such, Mat. x. 
49. If they see and feel the bm'den of their sins, we may comfort them. 
Christ calls them, ' Come unto me, ye that are weary and heavy laden,' 
Mat. xi. 28. If we discern spiritual and heavenly desires to grow in grace 
and overcome their corruptions, if we discover and discern this in their 
practice and obedience, ' God will fulfil the desires of them that fear him,' 
Ps. cxlv. 19. And he accepts the will for the deed. 

There is a desire of happiness in nature that comforts not a man. It ia 
no sign of grace to desire to be free from hell and to be in heaven. It is a 
natural desire. Every creature wishes well to heaven. But if there be a 
desire of the means that tend to heaven, a desire of grace, these are evi- 
dences of grace. These are the pulses that we may find grace by ; when 
they see their infirmities, and groan under them, and would be better, and 
complain that they are not better, and are out of love with their own hearts. 
There is a combat in their hearts, they are not friends with themselves. 
When we see this inward conflict, and a desire to better, and to get vic- 
tories against their corruptions, though there be many corruptions and 
weaknesses, a man may safely say, they are in a state of grace, they are 
on the mending hand. For ' Christ wiU not break the bruised reed, nor 
quench the smoking flax,' Mat. xii. 20. ' And where he hath begun a 
good work, he will perfect it to the day of the Lord,' Philip, i. 6. He will 
cherish these weak beginnings, therefore we may comfort them on good 
ground. 

(3.) Then, besides that, in our deaUng with them, when we have dis- 
covered, by some evidence, that they belong to the covenant, that we see, 
by some love to good things, and to God's image in his children, and by 
other evidences, then we may comfort them boldly ; and then to fetch from 
our own experience, what a comfort will it be to such ! When we can say, 
My estate was as yours is ; I found those corruptions that you groan 
under; I allowed not myself in them as you do not. When a man can 
say from his own experience, that notwithstanding these I have evident 
signs of God's Spirit that I am his, then he can comfort others by his own 
experience. 

(4.) And what a comfort is it to go to the experiments'^- of Scripture! It is 
an excellent way. As now, let a man be deserted of God, David will com- 
fort him by his experience, Ps. Ixxvii. 2, 8, 10, where he saithhe found God 
as his enemy ; and as Job saith, ' the terrors of God drank up his spirit,' 
Job vi. 4. Be of good comfort ! David would come and comfort thee if he 
were alive. If the terror of God be against thee for sin, that thy con- 
science is awakened, be of good comfort ! Christ, if he were on earth, 
* That is, ' experiences ' = examples. — G. 



74 



COMMENTAKY ON 



would shew thee by Lis own example that he endured that desertion on the 
cross : ' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? ' Mark xv. 34. 
K thou be molested and vexed with Satan, Job will comfort thee by his 
example. His book is most of it combating and comfort. And so for all 
other grievances, go to the Scriptm-es. Whatsoever is * written, is written 
for our learning,' Pray to God, and he will hear thee as he did Ehas. 

Obj. Oh ! but Elias was an excellent man. 

Ans. The Scripture prevents* the objection: 'he was a man subject to 
infirmities,' James v. 17. If God heard him, he will hear thee. Believe 
in Christ, as Abraham did, ' the father of the faithful,' in the promised 
Messiah, and he will forgive thee all thy sins. 

Obj. Oh ! but he had a strong faith. 

Ans. What hath the Scripture to take away this objection ? In Rom. 
iv. 23, ' This was not written for Abraham only, but for those that believe 
with the faith of Abraham.' 

Obj. Aye, but I am a wretched sinner, there is little hope of me. 

Ans. Yes ! St Paul will come and comfort thee by his example and ex- 
perience : ' This is a faithful saying, that Jesus Christ came into the world 
to save sinners, of whom I am the chief,' 1 Tim. i. 15. 

Obj. Aye, he came to save such sinners as St Paul was. 

Ans. Aye, saith St Paul, ' and that I might be an example to all that 
shall believe in Christ, to the end of the world,' 1 Tim. i. 16. He takes 
away that objection. And the apostle is so heavenly wise, that where he 
speaks of privileges, he enlargeth it to others. ' There is no condemnation 
to them that are in Christ Jesus,' Rom. viii. 1. 'And what shall separate 
us from the love of God?' ver. 35. But when he speaks of matter of 
abasement, that we may see that he was, in regard of his corruptions, as 
much humbled as we, then he speaks in his own person : ' wretched 
man that I am ! who shall deliver me from this body of death ? ' Rom. 
vii. 24. Therefore his comforts belong to thee. Now, as these examples 
in Scripture, and the experiences of God's children there, be apphcable to 
us, so much more the experience of God's children that are aUve. There- 
fore we should be willing to do offices of comfort in this kind. 

Those that are of ability, either men or women, they will have in their 
houses somewhat to comfort others, they will have strong waters, and cor- 
dials, and medicines ; and they account it a glory to have somewhat that 
their neighbours may be beholden to them for. And though they bestow 
it freely, yet they think and account it a sufficient recompence that they 
can be beneficial to others. People do this for things of this life, and think 
they deserve a great deal of respect for their goodness in this kind. Surely^ 
if we consider, there is a life that needs comfort more than this fading life, 
and there are miseries that pinch us more than the miseries of the body ! 
Every one should labour to have in the house of his soul somewhat, some 
strong waters of comfort, that he may be able to tell others. This refreshed 
my soul, this hath done me good ; I give you no worse than I took myself 
fii-st. This wondrously commends the comfort in the party that gives it, 
and it commends it to the party that receives it, to take benefit by the 
comforts of other men. For is it not a strengthening to our case when 
another shall say to our comfort. It was my case ? Is it not sealed by the 
evidence of two ? Surely it is a great assurance when we have another to 
tell us his experience. 

Use 1. Again, if this be God's order, that he will convey comfort to ua 
* That is, ' anticipates.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 75 

by others, then we ought to depend upon God's ordinance, we ought to ex- 
pect comfort one fi-om another, especially from the ministers, who are 
messengers of comfort. I speak it the rather, because in what degree we 
neglect any one means that God hath ordained to comfort us, though he 
be the Grod of comfort, yet in that measure we are sure to want comfort. 
And this is one principal ordinance, the ministry, and the communion of 
saints. 

Some there be that will neglect the means of salvation. They have dead 
spirits, and live and die so, for the most part. They have much ado to 
recover comfort. Those men that retire themselves, that will work all out 
of the flint themselves, they are commonly uncomfortable. God hath 
ordained one to help another, as in an arch one stone strengtheneth another. 
The ministiy especially is ordained for comfort. 

2. And likewise God hath ordained one Christian to comfort another, as 
well as the ministers. Let us therefore regard much the communion of 
saints. Let one Christian labour to comfort another, and every one labour 
to be fit to receive comfort from others, labour to have humble and wilUng 
spirits. It is so true that God doth convey comfort, even by common 
Christians as well as the ministers, that St Paul himself, Kom. i. 12 ; he 
desires to see the Romans, ' that he might receive mutual comfort from 
them.' For a minister may have more knowledge and book-learning per- 
haps than another Christian that may have better experience than he, espe- 
cially in some things ; and there is not the meanest Christian but he may 
comfort the greatest clerk in the world, and help him by his experience 
that God hath shewed to him, by declaring how God shewed him comfort 
at such a time, and upon such an occasion. The experience of God's 
people, the meanest of them may help the best Christians. Therefore he 
will have none to be neglected. 

There is never a member of Christ's body, but hath some ability to com- 
fort another ; for Christ hath no dead members. God will have it so, be- 
cause he will have one Christian to honour another, and to honour them 
from the knowledge of the use and necessity that one hath of another. If 
God should not derive comfort from one to another in some degree, and 
from the meanest to the greatest, one would despise another. But God 
will not have it so. He will have the communion of saints valued to the 
end of the world. What will one Christian regard another, what would 
weak Christians regard the strong, and what would strong Christians re- 
gard the weak, if there were not a continual supply one from another? 
Therefore God hath ordained that by the ministry, and by the communion 
of saints, we should comfort one another. 

Let us_ not think that this doth not concern us. It concerns us all. 
Therefore when we have any trouble in mind, let us regard the communion 
of saints, let us regard acquaintance. And let us know this, that God will 
hold us in heaviness till we have used all the means that he hath appointed. 
If one help not, perhaps another will ; perhaps the ministry will help, 
perhaps acquaintance will help. But if we find not comfort in one, let us 
go over all. And, would you have more ? Christ himself, did he not take 
two disciples into the garden with him when his spirit was heavy? Did 
not he know that God had ordained one to comfort another ? * Two are better 
than one,' Eccles. iv. 9. If one be alone, he shall be a-cold, but if there 
be two, they heat one another. If there be one alone, there can hardly 
be true spiritual heat. If two be together, if one fall, ' the other may 
raise him up,' Eccles. iv. 10, but if one be alone and fall, who shall raise 



76 COMMENTARY ON 

him up ? It is meant spiritually, as well as bodily aud outwardly by 
Solomon. 

We cannot have a better president* than our blessed Saviour. Solitari- 
ness in such times in spiritual desertion ' it is the hour of temptation.' 
Vfben did the devil set on Christ ? \Vhen he was alone. It was the 
fittest time to tempt him when Christ was severed. So the devil sets on 
single persons when they arc alone, and tempts them, and presseth them 
with variety of temptations. ' Woe to him that is alone,' Eccles. iv. 10, 
Christ sent his disciples by two and two, that one might comfort another, 
and one might strengthen another, Mark \i. 7. 

Now, though in particular it belong to ministers in a more eminent 
sort ; yet let every one lay it to heart, you ought to have abilities to com- 
fort others, and to receive comfort of others. And consider it is an angeli- 
cal work to comfort others. We imitate God himself, and the most excel- 
lent creatures the angels, whose office is to comfort. Even our very 
Saviour, they came to comfort him in his greatest extremity. A man is a 
god to a man when he comforts. When he discomforts, and directs, and 
withdraws, he is a devil to a man. Men are beasts to men, devils to men, 
that way. But he that is an instrument to convey comfort, he is a god to 
a man. God is the God of comfort. Thou art in the place of God to a man 
when thou comfortest him, thou shalt save thyself and others. God honours 
men with his own title when they comfort. Not only ministers, but others 
save men. Thou shalt ' gain thy brother,' by thy admonition and reproof. 
What greater honour can ye have than God's own title, to be saviours one 
of another ? It is the office, I say, of angels. They were sent to comfort 
Christ. It is their duty to pitch their tents about God's children, to sug- 
gest holy thoughts, as the devil suggests evil, and to be about us, though we 
think not of it. Nay, it is not only an angelical work, but it is the work of 
God's Spirit. The sweetest style of the Holy Ghost is to be a ' comforter.' 

What shall we think of cursed spirits that insult over others' misery, that 
give them gall to eat, and vinegar to drink, that add affliction to the afflicted ? 
What shall we say to barren spirits, that have not a word of comfort to say, 
but come in a profane and dead manner, I am sorry to see you thus, and 
I hope you will better. Barren soul, as the wilderness ! What ! a mem- 
ber of Christ, of the communion of saints, and no way furnished, no wor(?_ 
of comfort to a distressed soul ! We may know the comfort we have our- 
selves to be comfort indeed, and from the grace and favour of God, when 
we have hearts enlarged to do good to others with it. 

How do gifts and grace differ, to add that useful distinction ? And a 
man may have a great many gifts and be proud, and full of envy, and have 
a devilish poisonful spirit to draw all to himseh", and not be good, but be 
carried with self-love, and die a de^il, notwithstanding his excellent parts. 
Why ? Here are such gifts, and parts, but there is a bitter root of self- 
love to draw all to himself, to deify himself, to make an idol of himself. 
But grace with gifts works otherwise. That turns all by a spirit of love and 
humility to the good of others. 

There is no envy in a gracious heart. So fiir forth as it is gracious there 
is no pride, no scorn to do good to others. How shall we distinguish men 
of excellent parts, whether they be Christians or not Christians ? They 
have both of them wit and memory, they have both courage. Aye, but 
whether of them improve their parts and abilities most to the good of 
others ? Whether of them hath the most humble spirit, the most loving 
* That 13, 'precedent.' — G. 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 4. 77 

Bpirit, the most discreet spirit, to be witty to do good to others upon all 
advantages. There is the Christian that hath God's grace with his gifts. 
But for the other, ' Knowledge puffeth up,' saith the apostle, 1 Cor. viii. 1, 
What edifies and builds us? ' Love edifieth,' 1 Cor. viii. 1. Knowledge 
gathers many materials, stone, and timber, &c. What builds the house, 
the body of Christ ? It is a loving and humble spirit. 

Therefore let us think that we have nothing in Christianity, by any parts 
we have, of memory or wit, or reading, &c., unless we have a humble 
spirit, that we can deny ourselves and debase ourselves to do good to others 
upon all the best advantages ; or else we have not the spirit of Christ, 
that sweet spirit of Christ that denied himself to do good to us. 

Where grace is established once, and is in the right nature, there is a 
public mind ; and it is one of the best signs of a heart that is fashioned to 
the image of Christ, who denied himself, and became all in all to us, to have 
a public mind, to have self-love killed, to think I have nothing to purpose 
as I should have, except I can make use of it to the good of others. There- 
fore let us be willing to do good in this kind. 

And as I said, let us make use of comfort from others. Think that they 
are reserved to the times and place where thou livest, that thou mightest 
make use of them. Therefore those that need comfort should not flatter 
themselves in their grief, but humbly depend upon the means that God 
hath ordained. And let every man think, what if God have hid my com- 
fort in another man ? What if he have given him ' the tongue of the learned,' 
Isa. 1. 4, to speak a word in season unto me? Let no man think to master 
his trouble and grief by himself. We are members of the body, and the 
good that God will convey to us, must be from and by others. Therefore 
it is a mutual duty. Those that have comfort ought to comfort others ; 
and those that do need comfort, ought to repair to others. It is the ordi- 
nance of God, as Job saith, for one of ' a thousand to shew a man his 
righteousness,' Job xxxiii. 23. Though a man be never so wise, yet some- 
times he knows not his own comfort. He knows not that portion of com- 
fort that belongs to him, till some others discover it to him. Physicians 
will have others to heal themselves, to judge of their diseases ; and certainly 
one reason why persons that are excellent in themselves, have passed their 
days in darkness, it hath been this, that they think to overmaster their 
heaviness and distraction of spirit with their own reason, &c., which will 
not be. God, what he will do, he will do by his own means and ordinance. 
Use 3. Let us therefore learn, hence, to see the goodness of God, that 
besides the ministry that he hath ordained, and the salvation that he keeps 
for us, and the promises that he hath given us, and the angels that attend 
us, &c., he doth even ordain others, that are men, and have bodies with 
ourselves, other fellow- Christians, to be instruments to convey comfort. 
He trains them up, that they may be able to comfort, and do good to us ; 
and he hides the good he intends to us in them, and conveys it to us by 
them. It is a special goodness of God, that evei7thing should tend to our 
good. Thus all things are for us. The sufierings of others tend to increase 
our comfort, and the comfort of others is for our comfort. There is such 
a sweet prudence in directing us to heaven, that God makes everything 
help ; not only our own troubles that we sufier ourselves, but he doth 
sweetly turn the troubles of others, and the comforts of others to our good. 
It ministereth an argument of praising and blessing of God ; and that 
we should answer him in the like, that as he hath devised all the ways that 
may be of comforting us, of turning all to our good, that that we sufi'er 



78 COMMENTARY ON 

ourselves, and that that others suffer ; so we should study by all means 
and ways to set forth his glory, and no way to grieve the Spirit of so 
gracious a God, that thus every way intends our comfort. 



VEESE 5. 

' For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolations also 
abound by Christ.' Here the blessed apostle shews the reason why his 
heart was so enlarged, as we see in ver. 3, in the midst of his troubles and 
persecutions, to bless God. There was good reason ; for as his afflictions, 
so his consolations abounded. It is a reason, likewise, of his ability to 
comfort others, the reason why he was fitted to comfort others, because 
he found comfort abound in himself in his sufferings. So they have a 
double reference to the words before. But to take the words in themselves, 

' As the sufferings of Christ abound,' dx. It is an excellent portion of 
Scripture, and that which I should have a great deal of encouragement to 
speak of, if the times and disposition of the hearers were for it ; for it is a 
text of comfort for those that suffer persecution, that suffer affliction for 
the gospel. Now, because we do not suffer, or at least we suffer not any 
great matter (except it be a reproach, or the like, which is a matter of 
nothing, but a chip of the cross, a trifle), therefore we hear these matters 
of comfort against the disgrace of the cross of Christ, with dead hearts. 
But we know not what we are reserved to ; therefore we must learn some- 
what to store up, though we have not present use of it. The several 
branches of divine truths, that may be observed from these words, are first 
this, That the sifferlngs of Christians may abound. They are many in this 
world, and they may be more still. ' For as the sufferings of Christ 
abound in us,' &c. 

Secondly, what ice ought to think of those sufferings, what judgment we are 
to have of them. ' They are the sufferings of Christ.' 

Thirdly, that being the sufferings of Christ, he tvill not destitute'^ us of 
comfort ; but we have our comfort increased in a proportion answerable to 
our troubles. * So our consolations,' &c. 

The fourth point is, by whom and in ivhom all this is. This strange 
work is by Christ. The balancing of these two so sweetly together, crosses 
and comforts, they come both from one hand, both from one spring, ' the 
sufferings of Christ,' and the comforts of Christ, and both abound. Our 
troubles are for him, and our comforts are by him. So here is sufferings 
and comfort, increase of suffering, increase of comfort, sufferings for Christ, 
and comfort by Christ. You see them balanced together, and you see 
which weighs down the balance. Comfort by Christ weighs down sufferings 
for Christ. The good is greater than the ill. It is a point of wondrous 
comfort. The ark, you know, mounted up as the waters mounted up, when 
the waters overflowed the world. So it is here in this verse. There is a 
mounting of the waters, a rising of the waters above the mountains. 
Afflictions increase, and grow higher and higher ; but be of good comfort, 
here is the ark above the waters, here is consolation above all. As our suffer- 
ings for Christ increase, so our consolations, likewise, by Chi'ist increase. 

For the first, I will be very short in it. 

Doct. The sufferings of Christ abound in us. 

* That is, ' deprive.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 5. 79 

There is nobody in this world, but fii'st or last, if they live any long time, 
they must suffer ; and as a man is in degrees of goodness, so his suiferings 
must abound. The better man, the more suiferings. Sufferings abounded 
in St Paul. It doth not abound in all. That was personal in St Paul, to 
abound in sufferings. It doth not go out of the person of St Paul, and 
such as St Paul was. All must suffer, but not in a like measure. There 
are several cups. All do not abound in sufferings, as aU do not abound in 
grace and strength. Those that are of a higher rank, their sufferings 
abound more. God doth not use an exact proportion in afflictions, but 
that which we call geometrical, a proportion apphable to the strength of 
the sufferer. Christ, as he had more strength than any, so he suffered 
more than any ; and St Paul, having an extraordinary measure of strength, 
he suffered more than all the apostles. The sufferings of Christ abounded 
in him ; but all must suffer. 

What is the reason of it ? What is the reason that troubles abound 
thus ? Surely if we look to God, the devil, the world, ourselves, we shall 
see reasons enough. 

Reason 1. If we look to God and Christ, tve are ordained to be conformable 
to Christ. We must be conformable to Christ in sufferings first, before we 
be in glory. It is God's decree, we are called to sufferings, as weU as to 
be believing. We must answer God's call. Every Christian must resolve 
to take up his cross every day, some degree of the cross or other. Reproach 
for Christ's sake is a suffering. The scorn of the world is the rebuke of 
Christ. We are called to suffering, as weU as to glory. It is part of our 
effectual calling, it is an appendix, an accessory thing to the main. We 
must take grace with suffering, and it is well we may have it so too. It is 
well that we have the state of grace here, and gloiy hereafter, with suffering. 

Reason 2. If we look to the devil, there must be sufferinr}. Satan is the 
prince of the world. He is the prince of an opposite kingdom. 

Reason 3. If we consider tchat place we live in when we are taken out oj 
the world to the blessed estate of Christians, to be members of Christ and heirs 
of heaven. The world is strange to us, and we are strangers to it. Crosses 
and afflictions are necessary for them that are travellers. We would think 
else that we were at home, and forget our country. Considering the condi- 
tion we live in, we must have sufferings. If we consider the disposition of the 
parties among whom we live, they are people of an opposite spirit. There- 
fore they malign us, because we are taken from among them ; and though 
there be no opposition shewed to them, yet it upbraids enough their cursed 
estate when they see others taken from them. That speaks loud enough 
that their course is naught, that they see others mislike it. The world, 
that is led by the spirit of Satan, maligns them that are better than them- 
selves. There is opposition between the seed of the serpent and the seed 
of the woman. So long as there are wicked men, that are instruments and 
organs of the devil, God's children m.ust be opposed. While there is a 
devil suffered to be ' the god of the world,' 2 Cor. iv. 4, and so long as he 
hath so strong a faction in the world as he hath, ' the children of dis- 
obedience,' Eph. V. 6, in whom he rules, God's children shall never want 
suffering. 

Reason 4. If we regard ourselves, we have always in ourselves good and bad. 

That which is good, we have need of sufferings to exercise it and to know 

it ; for if there were no sufferings, how should we know what good we have ? 

(1.) Is it not a great comfort to a Christian, when he knows by suffering 

that he hath more patience than he looked for, that he hath more faith than 



80 COMJISNTARV ON 

he thought ne had, that he hath more love to God, that he can endure to 
suffer more for God than ever he thought he could, that he hath more re- 
signing of his heart and giving up of himself than he thought of, that he can 
deny the world, which he thought he could not have done ? What a com- 
fort is it to a Christian when he knows by suffering what he can do and 
what he cannot do. It is good, therefore, and necessary in regard of our- 
selves, that we may know our strength. 

(2.) In regard, likewise, of the evil that is in us, suffer we must. For 
there must be a daily purging ; and the best instruments to scour us are 
wicked men, the devil's instruments. It is unfit for God's children to take 
that base office on them, for one Christian to fall upon another. It is good 
there should be an opposite faction in the world, that there should be wicked 
men, in regard of the ill that is in us. There is somewhat to be scoured 
and purged out. So we see, whether we look upward or downward, to God, 
or to the de^dl, or to the faction of the devil in the world, or to ourselves, 
for good or evil, it is necessary that there should be some afflictions. 

And to speak a little more home to us, there must be sufferings in this 
regard, because the church alway hath corruption and soil, especially in 
prosperity. If a man look to the churches in Germany, that have suffered 
much of late,* and mark what reports hath been given of them, how cold 
and dull they were in the possession of the gospel, how indifferent they were, 
how they valued not that invaluable pearl, a man shall see that suffering was 
needful to scour them. If a man look to the state of this city, though there 
be many good people (the Lord increase the number of them), yet, if a man 
consider with what cold affections the blessed truth of God is entertained, 
which I say is above all, what is all that we enjoy ? What is our peace to 
the gospel of peace ? What is our prosperity, and what is all, to the blessed 
truth of salvation ? If we had not that, wherein were not the Turks as 
good as we ? For all other things, were not other nations as good as we ? 
Certainly yes. For policy, and other beauty, and ornaments, and rarities, 
what have we to lift up our excellency but the continuance of the blessed 
doctrine of salvation, whereby our souls are begotten to God, to ' an in- 
heritance immortal, undefiled, reserved in the heavens ? ' 1 Peter i. 4. 
Now, the cold esteem of this certainly will enforce in time a national suffer- 
ing, unless there be a national repentance. It is true of every particular 
Christian. As we see, when the rain and the heat join together, they breed 
as well weeds as corn, so prosperity and the blessings of God, they have 
brought up in us much v/eeds as well as good corn ; and there must be a 
time of weeding and pm'ging in regard of our state in this world. We are 
gathering soil every day. There must be a suffering one time or other, 

Ohj. But some will say, What ! do you talk of suffering ? Now is a 
time of peace. We live among Christians, and not pagans and Tui-ks ; and 
for our adversaries, though they be many, yet they do not shew themselves. 

Ans. St Austin answers this in himself. Do but begin to live as a 
Christian should, and see if thou shalt not be used unchristianly of them 
that are Christians in name, but not in deed. A suffering from Christians 
is more sharp than that of enemies. Those that are fleshly will be ready 
to be injurious ; those that are carnal, formal professors, v/ill be ready to offer 
some disgrace or other to those that are more spiritual than themselves. 

There is a threefold suffering in the church since Christ's time. The 
first was of doctrine concerning the natures of Christ. There was persecu- 
tion about that ; for there were Arians that denied the Godhead, and others 
* That is, 1624-5. Cf. note o*.— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YER. 5. 81 

that denied the manhood of Christ,* and such hke great enemies of the 
church. Afterward, in popery, they set on Christ's offices, and divided his 
kingly and priestly and prophetical office, to the pope, to saints, to works, 
and such like, encroaching upon them, and persecuting with fire and faggot 
all those that gave all to Christ, and did not sacrilegiously give anything to 
the creature. 

But there is a persecution as ill as any of these, where the nature and 
offices of Christ are well enough understood, where the power of religion 
is opposed by others, when so much religion as is necessary to bring a man 
to heaven is opposed ; for it is not the knowledge of the nature, and offices, 
and benefits by Christ, but it is a knowledge that hath obedience with it that 
must bring us to heaven, a knowledge with self-denial, a knowledge with 
selling and parting with all our lusts and wicked courses, that will not stand 
with the gospel. 

Now, where this is, this cannot be brooked by any means, and it goes 
under as great disgrace, as heresies did in former times. So that it is 
matter of reproach to have so much religion as is necessarily required of a 
man before he can be saved. That which the world disgraces is necessary 
to every man before he can be saved, that is, a strict giving up of himself 
to God, and a watching over his ways as much as human frailty will per- 
mit, a conscionable t endeavour in all things to please God, out of con- 
science and thankfulness to God. We must not think to come to heaven 
without that. It will not be. ' Without holiness none shall see God.' This 
despised holiness, this maligned holiness, is that which is necessary to bring 
us to heaven, and so much as is necessary to bring us to heaven is disgraced 
everywhere. 

Those that resolve to be Christians in good earnest, and would have com- 
fort on their deathbed and in the times of persecution, they must endure to 
bs set light by, to bear the reproach of Christ. They must resolve on 
this beforehand, that when these things come to pass, we be not ofiended. 

Use. Well, then, to make a little use of this. Since there must be 
troubles and crosses, and they must increase if we will be Christians, let 
this teach us to judge aright of those that are ill thought on in the ivorld oft- 
times, when we see nothing but good in their carriage. Oh, what imputa- 
tions are laid on them ! You may see what an indiscreet man he was, you 
may see that he lacked wisdom and policy, else he might have kept him- 
self out of this trouble. I would ask such a party. Had not Clirist as much 
wisdom as thee ? He was the * wisdom of the Father.' Did he keep out 
of reproaches ? Was he not reproached as a troublesome man, as an 
enemy to Caesar, and taxed for base things, as a ' winebibber,' &c., Mat. 
xi. 19, and one that 'had a devil,' Mat. xi. 18, and many other waj's ? 
Was not St Paul as discreet as we are, who in our understanding and 
conceit are ready to conceive distastefully of men that sutler anything for 
the gospel ? And yet, notwithstanding, all his wisdom kept him not from 
the cross, ' but the cross abides me,' saith he, ' everywhere,' 2 Cor. i. 5. 
The devil and the cross follow God's children wheresoever they go. All 
their wisdom and holiness cannot keep them from it, because God hath de- 
creed it and called them to it, and they must be conformable to Christ. 

Therefore, let us take heed that we do not suffer men to sufier in our 

conceits, when they suffer in a good cause, the cross of Christ, reproachful 

things, base death, &c. Afflictions are therefore called the cross, because 

there is a kind of baseness with them, and as it is so, so carnal men esteem it. 

* That is, the Gnostics. — G. t That is, ' conscientious.' — G. 

VOL. III. F 



82 COMMENTARY OX 

Presently with the sufi'ering there goes a taint, and an abasing in their con- 
ceit, of those men that suffer in a good cause. There is a diminishing 
conceit goes in camal men of that which should be their glory. ' Our crosses 
abound,' 2 Cor. i. 5. But what ought we to judge of these crosses ? 

Doct. They are the stifferings of Christ. 

Quest. Why ? Christ suffers nothing ; he is in heaven, in glory. How 
can he suffer ? This is to disparage his glorious estate, to make him suffer 
anything. 

Ans. I answer, the sufferings of Christ, they are twofold. The suffer- 
ings of Christ's person, that which he suffered himself, which were propi- 
tiatory and satisfactory* for oui* redemption ; and the sufferings of Christ 
in his mystical body, which likewise is called Christ. For Christ in Scrip- 
ture is taken either for Christ himself, or for the members of Christ. ' Why 
persecutest thou me?' saith he to Saul, Acts ix. 4 ; or for the whole body 
mystical with the head, 1 Cor. xii. 27. ' So is Christ.' Christ, Head and 
members, is called Christ. Now, when he calls the sufferings of the church 
the sufferings of Christ, he means not the sufferings of Christ in his own per- 
son ; for he suffers nothing ; he is out of all the malice of persecutors ; they 
cannot reach to heaven to Christ ; but he means the sufferings of Christ in 
his mystical body. These are called ' the sufferings of Christ.' 

Quest. Why are these called the suffeiings of Christ ? 

Ans. (1.) Partly, because they are the sufferings of mystical Christ, the 
body of Christ, the church. For the church, the company of true believers, 
are the fulness of Christ, they make up the mystical body of Christ. There- 
fore when they suffer, he that is the head suffers. 

(2.) Again, they are called the sufferings of Christ, those that his mem- 
bers and children suffer, because they are for Christ, they are in his quarrel, 
they are for his truth, for his cause, and by his appointment he calls us to 
suffering. It is for his cause. In our intendment we intend to suffer for 
Christ, to maintain his cause. They are the sufferings of Christ likewise 
in the intent of the opposites and enemies. They persecute us for some 
goodness they see in us. They persecute the cause and truth of Christ in 
us. So they are the sufferings of Christ both ways. 

(3.) Especially, they are the sufferings of Christ hy u-ay of sympathy; 
because Christ doth impute them to himself. ' The sufferings of Christ.' 
It is a phrase that springs from the near union that is between Christ and 
his members, the church ; which is as near or nearer than any natural 
union between the head and members. Hereupon it comes that we are 
said to suffer with him, to die with him, to be crucified with him, to ascend 
with him, to sit in heavenly places with him, to judge the world with him, 
to do all with him by reason of this union. And he is said to suffer with 
us, to be afflicted in us, to be reproached with us. He was stoned in 
Stephen, he was persecuted by Saul, he was beheaded in Paul, he was 
burned with the martyrs, he was banished with the Christians, and he suf- 
fers in all his children. Not that he doth so in his own person, but because 
it pleaseth him, by reason of the near communion that is between him and 
us, to take that which is done to his members, as done to himself. There- 
fore they are called ' the sufferings of Christ.' He suffers when we suffer, 
and we suffer when he suffers. 

The difference is, all the comforts in our sufferings, it comes from com- 
munion in his sufferings, because he is our surety. For why are we 
encouraged to suffer by way of sympathy and communion with him ? Be- 
* That is, ' satisfying.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 5. 83 

cause he in love died for us, and was crucified for us, and abased for us, 
and shamed for us. Aud when is the soul encouraged to suffer afflictions 
for Christ ? When it hath a little felt the wi-ath of God that Christ suffered 
for it. Oh, how much am I beholden to God for Christ, that endui'ed the 
whole wrath of God ? They are ' the sufferings of Christ.' This is a won- 
drous comfortable point ; and it is a notion that doth sweeten the bitterest 
crosses, that they are the sufferings of Chi'ist. Not only that we are con- 
formable to Christ in them, we suffer as he did, but they are ' the sufferings 
of Christ,' he imputes them as done to him, he suffers with us. 

(4.) And another reason, why they are the suflerings of Christ, it is be- 
cause he not only takes it as done to himself, but he is jrresent with them. 
He was with St Paul in the dungeon, he was with the three young men in 
the fiery furnace. There were three put in, and there was a fom-th, which 
was Christ, the Son of God [j). He goes with the martyrs to the prison, to 
the stake. He is with them till he has brought them to heaven. He is 
present with them when they suffer. 

Here I must, before I come to make use of it, distinguish between the 
crosses, and sufferings of Christ, and of ordinary sufferings as men. 

[1.] Something in this vale of misery u'e suffer as creatures : as being 
subject to mutability and change, because this is a world of changes. 
In this sublunaiy world there is nothing but changes. Thus we suffer as 
creatures. All creatures are subject to vanity, and complain and groan under it. 

[2.] Somewhat we suffer as men. It is the common condition of men. 
This nature of ours, since the fall, is subject to sicknesses, to crosses, and 
pain, and casualties. Every day brings new crosses with it. This we suf- 
fer as men. 

[3.] Now the sufferings of Christians, as religious hohj men, those are 
here meant, those are ' the sufferings of Christ.' Yet notwithstanding the 
sufferings as men, by the Spirit of God, help our conformity to Christ, by 
them the flesh is purged, and the Spirit strengthened, and weaning from 
the world is wrought, and a desire to heaven. 

By the daily crosses we suffer as men, not for religion, we are much 
bettered ; and those in some sort may be called the sufferings of Chi'ist, 
because by them we are confonned to Christ more in holiness. We gi'ow 
more out of love with the world, and more heavenly minded. This dis- 
tinction is necessary to know which ai-e best, the sufferings of Christians as 
good men. 

Use. It is a point, I say, of wondrous comfort. That we should be con- 
formable in our sufferings with our head Christ Jesus, our glorified head in 
heaven, is it not a wondrous comfort ? Nay, is it not a glory ? It is a 
wondrous glory that God will set us apart to do any thing, that God will take 
any thing of us, much more that he will single us out ^o be champions in his 
quarrel, and more, that he will triumph in us, that the comfort shall abound. 

To give an instance. If a monarch should redeem a slave, a traitor 
from prison, and take him to fight in the quarrel of his own son, to be his 
champion, were it not an honour ? So the very sufferings for Christ are 
an encouragement. The disgraces, and whatsoever they are that we suffer 
in a good cause, they are ensigns of honour, they are badges of honour of 
Christian knighthood. If a golden fleece, or a garter,* or such things, be 
accounted so highly of and glorified in, because they are favours, &c., much 
more should the sufferings for Christ be glorified in, as ensigns of the love 
of God, and of our Christian profession. When we fight under Christ's 
* That is, the knightly ' orders' so designated. — G. 



84 COMMENTARY ON 

banner, we are like to Christ. We are conformable to him. He went 
before, and we follow his steps ; ' and if we suffer with him, we shall 
be glorified with him,' Rom. -viii. 17. 

Therefore be not discouraged. That which we think to be matter 
of discouragement, it should be our crown. It is our crown to suffer 
reproach in a good cause. It is a sign God favours us, vvhen he takes our 
credit, our goods, or our life to honour himself by. Is it not an honour to 
us ? Doth he take anything from us but he gives us better ? He takes 
our goods, but he gives us himself. He takes our liberty, but he gives us 
enlargement of conscience. He takes our life, but he gives us heaven. If 
he take anything from us, for to seal his truth, and stand out in his quarrel, 
as Christ saith, he * gives an hundredfold' in this world, that is a gracious 
spirit of contentment and comfort. 

We have God himself. Hath not he more that hath the spring than he 
that hath twenty cisterns ? Those that have riches, and place, and friends, 
they have cisterns ; but he that sufiers for God, and for Christ, he hath 
Christ, he hath God, he hath the spring to go to. If all be taken from 
him, he hath God the spring to go to. If all particular beams, he hath the 
sun. It is durable, wondrous comfort to suffer for Christ's sake. 

Therefore, let it encourage us in a good course, notwithstanding all the 
opposition we meet with in the world ; let us here learn what is our duty. 
Let the malicious world judge, or say, or do what they will ; if God be on 
our side, ' who can be against us ?' Eom. viii. 33, 34. And if we suffer 
anything for Christ, he suffers with us, and in us, and he will triumph in 
us over all these sufferings at last. 

I will add no more, to set an edge upon that I have said, than this, [as J 
' they are the sufferings of Christ,' we should be many ways encouraged to 
suffer for him. For did not he suffer for us that, which if all the creatures 
in heaven and earth had suffered, they would have sunk under it, the wrath 
of God ? And what good have we by his sufferings ? Are we not freed 
from hell and damnation ? and have we not title to heaven ? Hath he 
suffered in his person so much for us, and shall not we be content to suffer 
for him, and his mystical body, that in his own body suffered so much for us ? 

Again, when we suffer in his quarrel, we suffer not only for him that 
suffered for us, but we suffer for him that sits at the right hand of God, 
that is glorious in heaven, ' the King of kings, and Lord of lords.' Our 
sufferings are sufferings for him that hath done so much for us, and for 
him that is so able now to over-rule all, to crush our enemies ; for him 
that is so able now to minister comfort by his Spirit. This is a notable 
encouragement, that they are the sufferings of Christ, that is, so glorious 
as he is, and that will reward every suffering, and every disgrace. We 
shall be paid well for every suffering. We shall lose nothing. 

And will not this encourage us likewise to sufler for Christ's sake, because 
he will be with us in all our sufferings. He will not leave us alone. It is 
his cause, and he will stand by his own cause. He will maintain his own 
quarrel. He will cause comfort to increase. Is it not an encouragement 
to defend a prince's quarrel in his own sight, when he stands by to abet us? 
It would encourage a dull mettle. When we suffer for Christ's cause, we 
have Christ to defend us. He is with us in all our sufferings to bear us up. 
He puts his shoulder under, by his Holy Spirit, to support us. 

We cannot live long in this world. We owe God a death. We owe 
nature a death. The sentence of death is passed upon us. We cannot enjoy 
the comfort of this world long. And for favour and applause of the world, 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, \'EE. 5. 85 

we must leave it, and it will leave us, we know not how soon. And this 
meditation should enforce us to be willing, however it go with us, for any- 
thing here, for life, or goods, or friends, or credit and reputation, or what- 
soever, to be willing to seal the cause of Christ with that which is dearest 
to us. ' If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him,' Rom. viii. 17. 

The very sufferings of Christ are better than the most glorious day of 
the greatest monarch in the world that is not a Christian. It is better to 
suffer with Christ, than to joy with the world. The very abasement of St 
Paul was better than the triumph of Nero. Let Moses be judge. He 
judged it the best end of the balance, Heb. xi. 26. The very sufferings 
and reproach of Christ, and of religion, is better than the best thing in the 
world. The worst thing in Christianity, is better than the best thing out 
of Christ. The best thing out of Christ is the honour of a king, the honour 
of a prince, to be a king's son, &c. But the reproach of Christ for a good 
cause is better than the best thing in the world. I say, let Moses be judge, 
if we will not believe it om'selves till we feel it. The woi'st day of a Chris- 
tian is better than the best day of a carnal man ; for he hath the presence 
of God's Spirit to support him in some measure. 

Therefore let us not be afraid beforehand. ' Fear nothing,' saith the 
■apostle, ' that thou shalt suffer,' Acts xx^^i. 24. And with Moses, let ' us 
"not be ashamed of the rebuke of Christ,' Heb. xi. 26 ; but ' let us go out 
of the camp with Christ, bearing our reproach,' Heb. xiii. 13. And because 
we know not what God may call us to, let us entertain presently a resolu- 
tion to endure whatsoever in this world God calls us to ; to pass through 
thick and thin, to pass through all kinds of ways to the ' hope of our glorious 
calling,' Philip, iii. 14 ; if by any way, by any means,' saith St Paul, ' I 
may attain the resurrection of the dead,' Philip, iii. 11 : if by any means 
I may come to heaven, by fair death, or by violent death. He scorned 
reproach, if by any means he might be happy. 

And for others, it is a wondrous quailing to the spiiits of men that offer 
any ^vrong, if it be but a disgrace. A scoff is a persecution to a Christian 
for a good cause. When wicked men oppose a Christian in a good cause 
and course, let us learn what they do, they ' kick against the pricks,' Acts 
ix. 5. Do they know what they do ? "When they reproach Christians, it 
is the ' reproach of Christ,' Heb. xi. 26. What was Ishmael's scorning ? 
A persecution. Gal. iv. 29 Christ is scorned in his members. Will he 
endure this at their hands ? When good causes are opposed, Christ is 
opposed, and Christ is scoffed. This doth enable-^ om* suffering, being an 
abasing of itself, that Christ accounts it done to him. 

Base men of the world, they think when they scoff at goodness, and 
wrong the image of God in his children, they think they deride and despise 
a company of weak creatures, that they scoff at silly persons meaner than 
themselves. But they are deceived. They scoff Christ in them, and he 
takes it so, ' Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?' Acts Lx. 4. The foot 
is trod on the earth, and the head speaks from heaven. It is the reproach 
of Christ ; and it will be laid to thy charge at the day of judgment, that 
thou hast scoffed, and persecuted, and i-eproached Christ in his members. 
It will be a heavy indictment. Men should not regard what they conceive 
of things ; but what he that must be their judge will conceive of things ere 
long ; and he interprets it as done to his own person. It is true both of 
good and ill. Whatsoever good we do to a Christian as a Christian, to a 
disciple in the name of a disciple, Christ takes it as done to himself, 
* That is, ' strengthen us in suffering.' — G. 



86 COMMENTARY ON 

* Inasmucli as you have done it to these, you have done it to me,' Mat. 
XXV. 40. 

It should animate us to do good offices to those that are Christ's. What 
we do to them, we do to Christ. Let us be willing to refresh the bowels 
of Christ in his members, at home or abroad, as occasion serves ; to main- 
tain the quarrel of Christ as much as we can, to relieve Christ. He comes 
to us in the poor, and asks relief. He that shed his blood for us, he that 
died for us, he that hath given us all, asks a little pittance for himself; that 
we for his sake would be so good to him in his members, as to do thus and 
thus ; that for Jonathan's sake we would regard poor, lame Mephibosheth, his 
son, 2 Sam. ix. 1, seq. Christ, though he be gone, he hath some Mephi- 
bosheths, some poor, weak members ; and what offices we do them, he 
accounts done to himself. It runs on his score. He will be accountable 
for every good word we speak in his cause, for every defence, for every act 
of bounty. It is a point of large meditation to consider, that the crosses 
and afflictions of Christians, they are the sufferings of Christ. 

Do but consider the Spirit of God intended in this phrase, to dignify all 
disgraces and indignities that are put upon us in a good cause and quarrel. 
Could he have said more in few words ? He calls them not disgraces, or 
losses, or death ; but he puts such a comfortable title upon them, that 
might make us in love with suffering anything, and set us on fire to endure 
anything in a good cause. They are the ' sufferings of Christ.' 

' As the sufferings of Christ abound, so our consolations,' &c. The third 
general point is, that our consolations are 2iroportionahle to our sufferings. 
' Our consolations abound.' We suffer in this world. That is hard. Aye, 
but they are the sufferings of Christ. There is sweetness. And then an- 
other degree is, our consolations abound as our sufferings abound. Con- 
solation is, as I shewed before in the unfolding of the word, an inward 
support of the soul against trouble felt or feared ; and it must be stronger 
than the grievance, or else the action of comfort will not follow. There is 
a disproportion between the agent and the patient, in all prevailing actions, 
or else there is no prevailing. If the comfort be not above the malady, it 
is no comfort. And therefore no comforts but divine comforts will stand 
at length, because in all other comforts set^ef mediciufim morbo* the malady 
is above the remedy. They make glorious pretences, as the philosophers 
do, Plutarch and Seneca, and the rest. But they are as apothecaries' 
boxes. They have goodly titles, but there is nothing within. 

Alas ! when there is trouble in the conscience, awakened with the sight 
of sin, and the displeasure of God, what can all those precepts compose 
and frame the soul in pett^y troubles ? They have their place ; and surely 
the neglect of them many times is that that makes the cross heavier. But 
alas ! in divine troubles, in terror of conscience, it must be divine comfort. 
It must be of like nature, or else the effect of comfort will never follow ; 
and those be the comforts that he means here. As our troubles and afflic- 
tions abound, so our consolations, our divine supports, they abound. The 
point is this, that 

Doct. Our comforts are proportionable to orir sufferings. 

What did I say, proportionable ? It is above all proportion of suffering. 
As it is said, ' the afflictions of this life are not woiihy of the glory that 
shall be revealed,' Eom. viii. 18. And indeed in this life the consolations 
abound as the sufferings abound. For God keeps not aU for the life to 
come. He gives us a taste, a grape of Canaan, before we come to Canaan, 
* Qu. ' cedit medicina morbo?' —'Ea'D. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, \^E. 5. 87 

As the Israelites, they sent for grapes to taste the goodness of the land, 
and they had them brought to them by the spies, by which they might 
guess of the fruitfulness and sweetness of the land itself. So the taste and 
relish that God's children have of that fulness which is reserved in another 
world, it is answerable and proportionable to their sufferings; and in the 
proportion, the exceeding part is of comfort. There is an exceeding, if not 
for the present, yet afterwards. The ark did rise together with the water, 
and comforts rise together with matter of suffering. 

But what is the reason of the proportion ? Why the greatest comforts 
follow the greatest sufferings ? What is the gi'ound of it ? They are many. 

Reason 1. To name some: fh'st of all, this is a ground that the more 
capable the soul is of coinfort, the more comfort it receives. But great 
troubles bring a capacity and capableness of soul, fitting it to receive 
comfort. How is that ? Troubles do humble the soul, and humility is a 
grace, and the vessel of all grace, and of comfort too. A low and meek 
spirit is a deep spirit, and the lower and deeper, and the larger the spirit 
is, the more capable it is to contain heavenly comfoi't. We know the more 
empty a man is of himself, the more fit he is for comfort ; but crosses and 
affiictions empty us of ourselves, to see that there is nothing in us, that 
what we are we must be out of ourselves ; and the less we are in ourselves, 
the more we are in God. And that is the reason that St Austin saith, that 
nothing is more strong than a humble, empty spirit ; because it makes the 
creature to go out of itself to him that is strength itself, and comfort itself. 
Now, that which makes us go out of ourselves to strength, that is strong. 
But this doth crosses and affiictions. That is the main reason why the 
proportion holds. 

Reason 2. Again, another reason is this, troubles, and afflictions, and crosses 
do exercise graces ; and the more grace is exercised, the more comfort is 
derived, for comfort follows graces. The comforts of the Spirit follow the 
graces of the Spirit, as the heat follows the fire, or as the shadow follows 
the body. Now, the more gi'ace, the more comfort : the more afiliction, 
the more exercise of grace ; the more exercise of grace, the more grace it- 
self; as we see, the deeper the root the higher the tree. After the sharpest 
winter usually there is the sweetest spring, and the ft'uitfulest summer and 
autumn ; because in the sharpest winter the gi'ound is mellowed most, and 
the seed sinks the deepest ; and the gi'ound is inwardly warmed, the soil, 
the earth is prepared for it ; and thereupon, when the outward heat comes 
to draw it forth, it comes to be abundantly fi'uitful. We see it in nature, 
that that we call antiperistasis,''' the environing of one contrary with an- 
other increaseth the contrary. Whatsoever is good is increased, being en- 
vironed by the contrary ill, because they are put to the conflict. 

So it is with the soul. It is the showers of affliction that bring the sweet 
flowers of comfort after. The soul is prepared and manm-ed for them. 
The soul is exercised, and enlarged, and fitted for them every way. ' In the 
multitude of my son*ows, thy comforts refreshed my soul,' saith David, Ps. 
xciv. 19. Answerable to our discomforts, God's comforts refresh our souls. 

Reason 3. And God is so wise, tJtat before ive enter to suffer any great matter, 
he tcill give us more grace answerable to the greatness of our suffering, and after 
great suffering he will give great comfort. God is so infinitely loving and 
wise, that he will not call us to sufl'er gi-eat troubles till he give us some 
grace answerable. As a captain will not set a fi^esh-water soldier in a 

* That is, ' avTiTTiperasic, opposition or counteraction of the surrounding parts ; 
in rhetoric as explained above.' — G. 



88 COMMENTAEY ON 

sharp brunt, but some experienced man. "Whatsoever wisdom is in man, 
it is but a drop in regard of that infinite wisdom that is in God. He pro- 
portions our strength before we sufi"cr, and in sufi'ering he doth increase it ; 
and after suffering, then comfort comes following amain. Indeed, especially 
after a little while waiting, for God's time is the best time. 

Eeason 4. And we shall have most experience of the presence of Christ 
and his Holy Spirit at such times. The nearer to the spring of comfort, 
the more comfort. But in the deepest and sharpest afflictions, we are 
near to God. Therefore the more comfort. 

How is this proved ? The more we are stripped of outward comforts, 
the more near we are to God, who is stj'led the ' God that comforteth 
the abject,' Job xxix. 25 ; and the nearer to God, the nearer to comfort it- 
self. For all comfort springs from him ; and when outward means fail 
that should convey comfort to us, then he conveys it immediately by him- 
self. I confess he is present at all times ; but when the comfort is con- 
veyed by the creature, by man, it is not so sweet as when God joins with 
the soul immediately, as in great crosses he doth. Such occasion, and 
such extremity may be, that none can comfort a man but God, by his 
Spirit. When Christ comes to the soul immediately, what abundance of 
comfort is there then ! As a king that doth not send a messenger, but 
comes immediately in his own person to visit one in misery, what a grace 
is it ! So what a grace is it to a soul afflicted and deserted, to have Christ 
immediately present ! As the martyrs found, when no other creature could 
comfort them, there was a fire within above all the outward fire and tor- 
ment, which abated and allayed the torments that were without. The 
divinest comforts are kept for the harshest and the vvorst times. We shall 
have the presence of Christ in the absence of all other creatures, and he 
will minister comfort. They may keep outward comforts from us, they 
can never keep the God of comfort from us ; and so long as a Christian 
soul and God can close together, it cannot want comfort. 

Reason 5. Another reason why comforts increase, because tee praij most 
then. When we pray most, we are most happy. But in our greatest 
sufiterings we pray most, and most ardently. Therefore then we feel most 
comfort. When God and a Christian soul can talk together, and have 
communion, though he cannot speak to God with his tongue, yet he can 
sigh and groan to God. He can pour forth his spirit to God, and as long 
as we can pray we can never be miserable ; as long as the heart can ease 
itself into the bosom of God, there will alway be a return of a sweet answer. 
Of all the exercises of religion, that exercise that hath most immediate com- 
munion with God is prayer. Then we speak familiarl}' to God in his own 
language and words, and call upon him by his own promises. We allege 
those to him, and this cannot be, we cannot speak, and confer, and con- 
verse with the God of comfort without a great deal, without a world, of com- 
fort. Great crosses drive us to this, and therefore then we have great comfort. 

Use 1. What use may we make of this '? First, for ourselves, we should* 
not fear nor faint, neither faint in troubles nor fear troubles. Faint not in 
them. We shall have comfort proportionable ; and let us not fear troubles 
before they come, or any measure of them. Proportionable to the measure 
of our afflictions shall be our comfort. Let us not fear anything we shall 
Bulfer in this world in a good cause ; for as we suffer so we shall receive 
from God, We fear our fiwn good. For it is better to have the comfort 
we shall have in sufferiii ' ;i,nything for a good cause, than to be exempted 
* Mis rinted ' would.'— G. 



2 COEIXTHIAXS CH.VP. I, VER. 5. 60 

from the suffering and to want the comfort. There is no proportion. The 
choice is much better, to have comfort with gi-ievance than to want the 
comfort together with the grievance. St Paul would not have chosen im- 
munity from suffering, he would not have been exempted from the cross to 
have wanted his comfort. 

For the disproportion is wide and great. The comforts are inward and 
sweet, the crosses, for the most part, are outward. What are all the crosses 
and sufferings in this world ? Set aside an afflicted conscience, it is but 
brushing of the garment, as it were ; some outward thing in the outward 
man, but the comforts are inward and deep. 

But what if there be inward grievances too ? Then we have deeper com- 
forts than they. The cross is never so deep but the comfort is deeper. 
' Oh the depth of the wisdom and love of God ! ' Kom. xi. 23. There is 
the part and dimension of God's love, the depth of it ! There is a depth 
in crosses. ' Out of the deep have I cried to thee,' Ps. cxxx. 1. But there 
is a deeper depth of comfort, there is a hand under to fetch us up at the 
lowest. ' Thy right hand is upon me, and thy left hand is under me,' Song of 
Sol. ii. 6, saith the church to God. There is comfort lower and deeper 
than the giievauce, though it be inward, spiritual grievance. Nay, of all 
grievances (I know what I speak a little of mine own experience, and it is 
true in the experience of all ministers and Christians, that) there is none 
that have more help than they that are exercised with spiritual temptations 
of conscience. They are forced to search for deep comforts. Shallow 
comforts will not serve their turn ! And when they have them, they keep 
them, and make much of them. They have more retired and deep thoughts 
of Christ, and of comforts than other people, who as they are strangers to 
their crosses, so they are strangers to their comfort. There is no degree of 
proportion between the crosses and the comforts. The crosses are momen- 
tary, the comforts are growing. The crosses make us not a whit the worse, 
and the comforts make us better. Fear nothing therefore ; but go on in 
the ways of religion, and never be discouraged to suffer in a good cause 
for fear of men, to think, Oh this will come, and that will come. No, no ; 
if the sufferings grow, the comforts shaU grow with it, be of good comfort. 

Use 2. Again, another use may be, that ive judge aright of those that are 
disgraced in the ivorld, if their cause be good ; that we should not have dis- 
tasteful conceits of them, as indeed suffering breeds distaste naturally in 
men. They love men in a flourishing estate, and distaste them suffering ; 
but that is corruption of men. But God is the nearest to them then, 
nearer than ever he was, and their comforts increase with their crosses. 
In the conjunction between the sun and the moon, as by experience we see, 
in the space between the old and new moon, there is a time of conjunction. 
We think the moon to be lost in that time, because we see her not ; but 
the moon is more enlightened then, than ever she was in herself. But 
here is the reason, the light part of the moon is turned to the sunward, 
to heavenward, and the dark part is turned toward the earth. So a Chris- 
tian in crosses and abasement seems to be a dark creature, but he is more 
enlightened then, than ever before? Why? His light part is to Godward, 
it is not seen of the world. The world sees his crosses, luit they do not 
see his comforts. And as the moon is nearer the sun at that time than at 
other times ; so the soul hath to deal with God in afflictions. It is nearer 
to God, and his dark side is toward the world. As the v.'orld sees the 
moon's ecHpse, so the world sees our darkness, but not our inward comfort. 
Therefore we should ^!iidge aright of others in this case. 



90 COMMENTARY ON 

Use 3. Another use shall be of thankfulness to God, that besides the 
comforts of heaven (which are not to be spoken of, and which we shall not 
know till we come to feel them), besides the great comfort we have to be 
free from hell, that we have a measure of comfort here in this world, in our 
pilgrimage, and absence from heaven, such a measure of comfort, as may 
carry us with comfort along. We ought to be thankful to God, not only 
for redemption and glorification, but that God comforts us in our pilgri- 
mage, that he mingles crosses with comforts ; nay, that in this world our 
comforts are more than our crosses. 

Ohj. Some may object. Aye, but my crosses are more than my comforts ? 

Ans. Are they so ? Dost thou suffer in a good cause or no ? If thou 
dost, thy comforts are more than thy crosses, if there be not a fault in thee. 

Quest. "What shall I do therefore ? 

First, Take this direction in suffering, pull out the sting of sin, though 
we suffer in never so good a cause, for in one suffering, God aims at divers 
things. God in thy suffering aims at thy correction, as well as at the exer- 
cise of thy grace and at thy comfort. Therefore, let affliction have the 
correcting and amending part first, and then the comforting part will 
follow. Though the cause be good, yet God's children offctimes want com- 
fort till afterward. Why ? They have not renewed their repentance, and 
cleansed their souls. They have not pulled out the sting. When they have 
repented of their personal sins that lie upon them, and gone back to the sins 
of their youth, and then renewed their covenant with God, and their pur- 
poses for the time to come, then comes comfort, and not before. Therefore 
it is no disparagment to a good cause, that sometimes Christians find not 
present comfort. They have personal sins that hang on them, that are not 
repented of, which God intends to amend them of, as well as to honour 
them by suffering in his cause. 

Second. Again, if God's children complain, that iheir sufferings are above 
their strength, and above measure, and desire God to weigh their afflictions, 
they are so great, as Job saith, — it is the speech of sense and not of faith, it is 
the speech of the fit, and not of the state. There is a fit and a state. It 
is no matter what they saj' in their fit, then the flesh and sense speak, and 
not grace and faith at that time. If they judge by sense, then they judge 
so, but we know that reason corrects the errors of sense, and faith corrects 
the errors of reason. But what do they say in their constant state ? Their 
comforts are answerable to their crosses, either in suffering or afterwards, 
though not alway at the same time. So much for that. 

But this will be abused by carnal persons. We speak of abundance of 
comfort, but it is to those that have interest in it. The book of God speaks 
no comfort to persons that live in sin, and will do so. We speak comfort 
to those that are broken-hearted for their sins, that are content to endure 
the reproach of religion in despite of the world, that will bear the cross 
of Christ. For the other, as their jollity increaseth in the world, so their 
crosses and troubles shall increase. As it is said. Rev. xviii. 17, of mysti- 
cal Babylon, the Church of Rome, that hath flourished in the world a great 
while, and sat as a queen and blessed herself, ' As she glorified herself, and 
lived deliciouslj^ so much torment and sorrow give her.' So it is true of 
every wicked man that is in an evil course, and will be, and as the Scripture 
phrase is, ' blesseth himself in an evil course,' they shall be sure of the 
curse of God, and not of comfort. For in what proportion they have do- 
lighted themselves in this world in sin, in that proportion they shall have 
toi-ment of conscience, if conscience be awaked in this world ; and in that 



2 CORIXTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 5. 91 

proportion they shall have torment in the world to come. As sin is grow- 
ing, so rods are growing for them. Wicked men, saith St Paul, ' they 
grow worse and worse,' 2 Tim. iii. 13. The more they sin, the more they 
may. They sink in rebellion, and the more they sink in rebellion, the 
more they sink in the state of damnation. They fill up the measm'e of 
their sins, and treasure up the -no-ath of God against the day of wrath. 
Whosoever thou art that livest in a sinful course, and will do so in spite of 
God's ordinance, in spite of the motions of the Spirit, that hast the good 
motions of the Spirit knocking at thy soul, and yet wilt rather refuse com- 
fort than take comfort, together with direction, go on still in this thy wicked 
course, but remember, as thy comforts increase in this world, so thy torment 
is increasing. And here is the disproportion between God's children and others. 
They have their sufferings first, and their comfort afterward ; but others have 
their pleasure first, and their torment after. Theirs are for a time, but 
others for ever. Thus we see what we may comfortably observe from this, 
that comforts increase as crosses increase. 

A word of the fourth and last point. 

How comes this to pass, that as our afflictions abound, so our consolations 
abound ? 

Doct. They abound by Christ, saith the apostle, God the Father, he is 
the God of comfort ; the Holy Ghost is the comforter. But how comes 
this to pass, that we that are not the objects of comfort, but of con- 
fusion, should have God the Father to be the ' God of comfort,' and the 
Holy Ghost ' to be our comforter ?' Oh, it is that Jesus Christ, the great 
peace-maker, hath satisfied God, and procured the Holy Ghost ; for the 
Holy Ghost is procured by the satisfaction and death of Christ, and he was 
sent after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Therefore Christ is 
called ' the consolation of Israel,' Luke ii. 25, and those that waited for 
Christ waited for the consolation of Israel. All comfort is hid in Christ. 
He is the storehouse of comfort. ' We have it through him, and by him, 
and in him.' For that God is the ' Father of comfort,' it is because Christ 
is our mediator and intercessor in heaven ; that the Holy Ghost is ' the 
comforter,' it is because Christ sent him. And the comforts of the Holy 
Ghost are fetched from Christ, from the death of Christ, or the ascension 
of Christ, from some argument from Christ. Whatsoever comforteth the 
soul, the Holy Ghost doth it by fetching some argument from Christ, from 
his satisfaction, from his worth, from his intercession in heaven. Some- 
thing in Christ it is. So Christ by his Spirit doth comfort, and the rea- 
sons fetched by the Spirit are from Christ. Therefore it is by Christ. 

What is the reason that a Christian soul doth not fear God as ' a con- 
suming fire,' Heb. xii. 29, but can look upon him with comfort ? It is 
because God hath received satisfaction by Christ. What is the reason that 
a Christian soul fears not hell, but thinks of it with comfort ? Chi-ist hath 
conquered hell and Satan. What is the reason that a Christian fears not 
death ? Christ by death hath overcome death, and him that had the power 
of death, the devil. Christ is mine, saith the Christian soul. Therefore I 
do not fear it, but think of it with comfort, because a Christian is more 
than a conqueror over all these. AVhat is the reason that a Christian is 
not afraid of his corruptions and sins ? He knows that God, for Christ's 
sake, will pardon them, and that the remainder of his corruptions will work 
to his humiliation, and to his good. ' All shall work for the best to them 
that love God,' Rom. viii. 28. What is the reason that there is not any 
thing in the world but it is comfortable to a Christian ? When he thinks 



92 COJUIENTARY ON 

of God, he thiuks of him as a Father of comfort ; when he thinks of the 
Holy Ghost, he thinks of him as a Spirit of comfort ; when he thinks of 
angels, he thinks of them as his attendants ; v.hen he thinks of heaven, he 
thinks of it as of his inheritance ; he thinks of saints as a communion whereof 
he is partaker. Whence is all this ? By Christ, who hath made God our 
Father, the Holy Ghost our comforter, who hath made angels ours, saints 
ours, heaven ours, earth ours, devils ours, death ours, all ours, in issue. 

For God being turned in love to us, all is turned. Our crosses are no 
curses now, but comforts ; and the bitterest crosses jield the sweetest com- 
forts. All this is by Christ, that hath turned the course of things, and hid 
blessings in the greatest crosses that ever were. And this he did in him- 
self, before he doth it in us. For did not his gi'eatest crosses tend to his 
greatest glory ? who ever in the world was abased as our head Christ Jesus 
was ? that made him cry, ' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' 
Mat. XV. 34. All the creatm-es in the world would have sunk under the 
sufferings that Christ endured. What abasement to the abasement of 
Christ ? and what glory to the glory of Christ ? ' He humbled himself to 
the death of the cross ; wherefore God gave him a name above all names, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,' Phil. ii. 8. Now 
as it was in our head, his greatest abasement ushered in his greatest glory ; 
so it shall be in us, — our greatest crosses are before our greatest comforts. 
He is our president.* He is the exemplary cause as well as the efficient 
working cause. It is by Christ all this, that consolations abound in us. It 
was performed first in him, and shall be by him, by his Spirit to the end 
of the world. 

Use. The use that we are to make of this is, that in all our sufferings, 
before we come to heaven, ?/'<? should look to Christ. He hath turned all 
things. Let us study Christ, and fetch comfort from him. Our flesh was 
abased in him. Our flesh is glorified in him now in heaven, in his person. 
And so it must be in our own persons. Our flesh must be abased, and 
then as he is glorious in heaven, so shall we be in ourselves. That very 
Spirit that raised and advanced him at the lowest, that very Spirit (there 
being but one Spirit in the head and members) in our greatest abasement 
shall vouchsafe us the greatest advancement that we can look for, to sit at 
the right hand of God, to reign with Christ ; ' for if we suffer with him, we 
shall reign with him,' Rom. viii. 17. 

And hence you may have a reason likewise why Christians have no more 
comfort. They do not study Christ enough. They consider not Christ, 
and the nearness wherein Christ is to them, and they to Christ, that both 
make one Christ. They do not consider how Christ hath sweetened all. 
He hath turned God, and turned all to us. He hath made God our Father, 
and in him all things favourable unto us. So that now the fixe is our 
friend, the stone, and the gout, and all diseases, disgi-ace and temptation, 
all are at peace and league with us ; all is turned in the use and issue to 
good, to the help and comfort of God's children (/.•). ' All things are yours, 
and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's,' 1 Cor. iii. 23. There is not the 
worst thing but it is at peace with us ; because the malignant power it 
hath, in order to damnation, is taken away. Now it doth not hurt us, but 
there is a sovereign curing power to turn it to good. 

I confess God's children are discomforted, but then they wrong their 
principles, they wrong their grounds, their religion, their Saviour. They 
* That is. ' precedent' = exemplar. — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. 1, VER. 6. 93 

wrong all the comforts tliey have interest in, because they do not improve 
them when occasion serves, as Job is checked, * Hast thou forgot the con- 
solations of the Almighty ?' Job xv. 11, or why dost thou forget them ? So 
if we have consolations and forget them, and doat and pore upon our 
grievance, it is just with God to leave us comfortless ; not that we want any 
comfort, but we flatter our grievance and forget our comfort. Let us change 
our object, and when we have looked upon our grievance, and been humbled 
in the sight of our sins, let us look upon the promises, let us look upon 
Christ in glory, and see ourselves in heaven triumphing with him. 

What can terrify a soul ? not death itself, when it sees itself in Christ 
triumphing. Faith sees me as well triumphing in heaven, and sitting at 
the right hand of God, as it doth Christ, for it knows I am a member of 
Christ, and whatsoever is between me and that happiness, that is reserved 
for me in heaven, I shall triumph over it. 

Christ triumphed in his own person over death, hell, sin, the grave, the 
devil, and he will triumph in me his mystical body. What he hath done 
in himself, he will do in me. This faith will overcome the world, and the 
devil, and hell, and all that is between us and heaven. A Christian that 
sees himself sitting at the right hand of God wdth Christ, triumphing with 
him, he is discouraged at nothing ; for faith that makes things to come 
present, it sees him conquering already. 

Let us be exhorted to joy, ' Rejoice, and again I say rejoice,' Philip. 
iv. 4. We have reason to do so, if we look to our grounds. But when we 
yield to Satan, and our own flesh, we rob God of his glory and om-selves of 
comfort, but we may thank ourselves for it. 

But I come to the sixth verse, wherein the apostle enlarge th himself, by 
shewing the end of his sufierings in regard of them, by setting down both 
parts, both affliction and comfort. 



VERSE 6. 

' Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation : or whe- 
ther ive be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.' It is much 
in everything, how the mind is prepared to receive what is spoken. The 
apostle, therefore, to make way for himself in their hearts, he removes scandal 
from his sufierings, and he shews that it was so far that they should take 
ofience at it, that they ought to do as he did, to bless God for it ; for as the 
sufierings of Christ abounded in him, so his comfort abounded. And because 
they should think themselves no way hurt by his sufierings and base usage 
in the world, he tells them in the verse that all was for their good. No 
man should be ofiended at his own good. They had no reason to take 
scandal at that which was for their good ; but, saith he, if you think basely 
of me for my sufierings, you think basely of your own comfort : for my 
sufierings are for your good, and my comforts are for your good. Whether 
I suffer or be comforted, it is for you. 

The cross is a distasteful thing to us, and likewise the cross in others is 
a distasteful thing, not only distasteful and bitter to us, but shameful. St 
Paul knowing this, because he would, as I said, work himself into their 
good conceit, that he might prevail with them for their good, saith he, you 
ought not to think a whit the worse of me for this, for all is for you. So 
you see the scope of the words, ' Whether we be afflicted, it is for your 
consolation,' &c. 



94 COMMENTARY ON 

But first he speaks of affliction alone, and then of comfort alone. If we 
be afflicted, it is for j'our good ; and if we be comforted, it is for your good. 
His reason is, because sometimes afflictions appear without comfort. 
Therefore he saith not, ' If we be comforted only, it is for your good ;' but 
' If we be afflicted, it is for your good.' Sometimes comfort is before our 
afflictions. That we may endure it the better, God cheers us to it. Some- 
times God sheds his Spirit in affliction, that there is abundance of comfort 
in it. But for the most part it comes after, after we have waited ; but in 
it there is always such a measure of comfort that supports us, that we sink 
not. Yet the special degree of comfort usually comes after. Therefore he 
speaks of affliction in the first place. ' If I be afflicted, it is for you,' &c. 

The point is easy, that 

Doct. The afflictions of the saints are for the good of others. 

The afflictions of God's church are God's people's, especially the afflic- 
tions of pastors and leaders of God's army. God singles out some to sufier 
for the good of others ; the good especially of consolation and salvation, for 
these two goods. 

Quest. How can this be, that the afflictions of God's people are for the 
consolation and salvation of others ? 

Ans. I answer, many ways, as we shall see afterwards more particu- 
larly : but only now to make way. 

1. Afflictions are for the good and comfort of others, because we have their 
example in suffering, to train us up how to suffer. Example is a forcible kind 
of teaching. Therefore, saith the apostle, our afflictions are for you, to 
lead and teach you the way how to suffer. Words are not enough, espe- 
cially in matter of suffering. There must be some example. Therefore 
Christ from heaven came, not only to redeem us, but to teach us, not only 
by words, but by example, how to do, and suffer willingly, and cheerfully, 
and stoutly, in obedience to God, as he did. 

2. Again, afflictions do good to others, by ministering occasion to them to 
search deeper into the cause. When they see the people of God are so used, 
they take occasion hereby to inquire what is the cause, and so take occasion 
to be instructed deeply in matters of religion ; for man's nature is inquisi- 
tive, and grace takes the hint off anything. What is the matter that such 
and such endure such things ? Hereupon, I say, they come to be better 
grounded in the cause, and little occasions ofttimes are the beginnings of 
great matters ; by reason that the spirit as well as wit is of a working nature, 
and will draw one thing from another. We see what a great tree riseth of 
a little seed ! how a little thing, upon report, worketh conversion. Naaman 
the Assyrian had a seiwant, and she told him that there was a prophet in 
Jewry that was a famous man, that did great matters, and if he would go 
to him, he should be cured of his leprosy. That little occasion being minis- 
tered, Naaman comes to the prophet, and he was cured of a double leprosy, 
both of soul and body, and went home a good man, 2 Kings v. 1, seq. So by 
way of ministering occasion of inquisition, the sufferings of others do good. 

3. And then, seeing the constant and resolute spirits of those that 
suffer, it doth them good, and comforts them : for, first, it makes them con- 
ceive well of the cause: certainly these men that sufier constantly, and 
cheerfully, it is a good cause that they suffer for, when they see the cause 
is such a resolution and courage in the sufferers. And it makes them in 
love with, and begin to think well of, the persons, when they can deny them- 
selves. Surely these men care not for the pleasures and vanities of the 
world, that can endure to suffer these. So Justin Martyr saith when he 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 6. 95 

saw Christians suffer ; he thought they were men that cared not for plea- 
sures ; for if they had, they would not suffer these things (Ij. 

4. Besides, they can gather from the presence of God's Spirit emboldening 
the sufferers, what they may hope for themselves if they should suffer. They 
may reason thus : Is God by his Spirit so full and so strong in these that 
are flesh and blood as we are ? Is he so strong in women, in young men, 
m aged naen, that neither their years, nor their sex, nor their tenderness, 
can any kmd of way hinder them from these kind of abasements and sharp 
suffermgs ?_ Surely the same Spirit of God will be as strong in me, if I 
stand out in the same cause, and carry myself as they do. And there is 
good reason, for God is the same God, the Spirit is the same Spirit, the 
cause IS the same cause. Therefore it is no false reasoning. I may, upon 
a good presumption, hope for the presence and assistance of the Spirit of 
God to enable and strengthen me as he did them ; for the same Spirit of 
God will be strong in all. 

5. And this is partly likewise in the intent of them that siffer. There is 
a double intent. It is the intent of God to single them out to suffer for the 
good of others ; and it is their intent to suffer that others may have good. 
This IS one reason why they are willing rather to suffer shame, or bodily 
punishment, than they will hmder others of the good they may take by 
their suffering._ So it is God's end, and their end. It is for your consola- 
hon, in God's mtent, and in my intent and purpose, and in the event itself. 
Thus you see how afflictions, suffered in good cause, help for the consola- 
tion and salvation even of others. The example of those that suffer flow 
mto the mmd, and insinuate into the judgment and affection, of the beholders 
many ways. 

And this the factors of antichrist know very well ; for if ever there be 
any persecution again, we shall hardly have fire and faggot, that they may 
not give example. They will come to gunpowder plots and massacres, and 
such violent courses, to sweep away all. They know if it come to matter 
of example once, the grace of God in his children, and the presence of his 
Spirit, that shall appear to others, it is of a wondrous working force. They 
are wise enough to know that. The devil teacheth them that wit, when he 
hath been put by all his other shifts. 

If it be so that the sufferings of God's children are for the good of others, 
then to make some use of it. 

Use 1. Let us not take offence at the cause of religion for suffering. We 
ought not to have an ill conceit of a cause for suffering, but rather think the 
better of it. I speak it in this regard, we have many that will honour 
the martyrs that are dead, that are recorded in the book, but if any suffer 
m the present view, before their eyes, they are disgraceful to them. This 
should not be. For, first of all, if the cause be good, the end of good men 
(by the help of the Spirit of God) is for thy good. Was it not a cruel thing 
m Saul to strike at David when he played on his harp, when he sought his 
good and easement ? 1 Sam. xviii. 10, 11. To kill a nightingale in singing, 
it is a barbarous thing. God's children, by all that they suffer, intend the 
good of others. Now, to hurt and malign them in doing good, to persecute 
them that endure ill for our good, or that labour and do anything for our 
good, it IS a barbarous, savage thing. All is for the elect. ' I suffer not* 
for the elect's sake,' saith St Paul in 2 Tim. ii. 10 ; so my sufferings are 
for you. We may know we are elected of God, if we take good by the 
Buffermgs of others ; if we take no scandal and offence, and do not add 

*Qu. 'all?'— Ed. 



96 COMMENTARY ON 

affliction to the afflictod, for all is in God's intent, and in their intent, for 
our good. 

For instance (a little to enlighten the point, because it is not usually stood 
on, and it is a notion that may help om- conceits of the excellent estate of 
God's children), reprobation, to go as high as we may, it is for their good, 
to shew mercy to them, to set by and neglect so many, and to single them 
out. The creation of the world is for their sakes. God's providence 
du'ects all for their good. For why doth ho suffer wicked men ? It is that 
they may be instruments to exercise them that are good. It is by reflection, 
or some way for the cause of the good, that the wicked are suffered to be 
upon the earth. The administration of the world, it is not for the rebels that 
are in it, it is for those that are God's children ; and he tosseth and tumbleth 
empires and monarchies. The great men of the world, they think they do 
gi'eat matters ; but, alas ! all this is for the exercise of the church, this is 
reductive to the church, by God's providence. All their attempts are for 
the little flock, for a few that are a despised company, that he means to 
save, if we had eyes to see it. 

So likewise his ordinances are to gather this church, which he hath 
chosen from all the world to himself. The ordinances of the ministry, 
and of the sacraments, the suffering of ministers, the doing and suffering 
of Christians, all is for their good, as we see in this place, ' I suffer for 
your consolation and comfort.' Heaven and earth stands for them. Tho 
pillars of heaven and earth vv^ould be taken asunder, and all would come to 
a chaos, an end would be of all, if the number of them were gathered that 
are the blessed people of God, for whom all things are. The doings and 
sufferings of God's people, we do not know indeed, that are ministers, who 
belong to God and who do not, but our intent is to do good to those that 
are God's, and the issue proves so. The rest God hath his end in it to 
harden them, and bring them to confusion, to take excuse from them ; but 
the real good of all our pains and suffering is the elect's. 

Let us examine what good we take by ordinances of God, and by 
the sufferings of the present chm-ch, and the sufferings of the former 
church. Do their examples animate, and quicken, and encourage us to 
the like courses ? It is a sign we are elected of God. There is no greater 
sign of a good estate in grace, than a gracious heart, to draw good out of 
the examples of others, and to draw good out of everything that befalls us, 
because God's end in election, and his manner of providence, is to guide all 
to their gocid. 

Use 2. Again, we learn another thing likewise, hoiv God overndes in his 
providence the projects of carnal men, of the devil and his instruments, and 
agents and factors. God overrules all things, that which in itself is ill, and 
in the intendment* of the inflicter is ill, yet God turns it to the good of 
others, and the good of them that suffer too. Satan intends no such matter, 
as it is said, Isa. x. 5. Nebuchadnezzar thinks no such thing. ' Asshur, 
the rod of my wrath,' he intends no such matter. They intend not the 
consolation of God's when they wrong the saints of God, and so exercise 
their patience and grace. No ! they intend their hurt and confusions. It 
is no matter what they intend ; but God at the first created light out of 
darkness, and in liis |)rovidence doth great matters by small means. In his 
providence ovt r his church, he doth raise contraries out of contraries ; he 
turns the wicked projects of men to contrary ends, and makes all service- 
able to his own end. 

* That is, 'intention.' — G. 



2 CORIN'THIANS CHAP. I, YER. G. 97 

In state policy, he is accounted the wisest man that can make his ene- 
mies instrumental to his own purjiose, that can make othei's serve his own 
turn, to work his own ends by others that are his opposites ; and he had 
need of a great reaching head that can do so. The great providence of 
heaven doth thus. God is the wisest politician in the world. All other 
policy is but a beam from that Sun. He can make instrumental and ser- 
viceable to him his veiy enemies. And this is the torment of Satan, that 
God overshoots him in his own bow. He overreachelh him in his own 
policy. Where he thinks to do most harm he doth most good. Li those 
afflictions whereby he thinks to quell the courage of the church, God doth 
exceeding good to them, and enlargeth the bounds of the church this way. 

It is an ordinary speech, ' The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the 
church' (m). The word of God is the seed of the church ; how then is the 
blood of the martjTS and sufferers the seed of the church '? Thus the 
word of God is the seed of the church, how ? As it is in the Bible, in the 
book ? No ! As it is published in preaching, much more as it is published 
in confession, and much more as it is published and sealed in martyrdom, 
by suffering. The word of God is so laid open, as not only spoken but 
confessed and practised in life ; and not only so, but sealed by enduring 
anything. Thus it is the seed, and works strongly. 

God overrules all inferiors. Though they have contrary motions in 
their own intent to his, yet he bi'iugs them about to his end. As we see 
the heavens have a contrary motion to the first heaven, that carries the 
rest, the primwn mobile, yet they are turned about by another motion, con- 
trary to the bent of themselves. They go one way, and are carried another.* 
As we see in the wheels of the clock, one runs one way, another another ; 
all make the clock strike, all serve the intent of the clockmaker ; so one 
runs one way, and another, another. Carnal men offer disgrace and dis- 
paragement to God's people ; their intent is to otherthrow all, to disgrace 
and to trample on the cause of religion ; but God useth contrary wheels, 
to make the clock strike. All turns in the issue to his end. Therefore 
though we say in our common speech, that the devil is the god of this v.orld, 
it is the Scriptm'e phrase, 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; and it is so in regard of the wicked 
that are under him, yet he is a god under a God. There is but one monarch 
of the world. He is a god that hath not power over swine further than he 
is suffered, Mat. viii. 30, seq. It is a point of wondrous comfort, that 
though we be thus used, yet there is an active providence, there is one 
monarch, one great king, that rules all. 

It is a ground of patience and contentment in whatsoever we sutler, not 
to look to the next instrument, but [toj look to the overruling cause, that 
vlU turn all in the issue to our good. This Joseph comforted his brethren 
with. You sent me, and of an ill mind too ; but God turned it to good. 
It was no thank to them, yet it was no matter. He comforted them in this, 
that God turned their malice to his good, and to their good too, for he was 
sent as a steward to provide for them. 

And it is one ground why to think more moderately in regard of anger, 
fierceness, against wicked men, it is gi-ound of pitying of them ; for, alas ! 
poor souls, what do they ! Though they intend it of malice, they are but 
instruments, and shall be overruled to do good contrary to their meaning, 
as St Paul saith here, ' Whether I be afSicted, it is for your consolation 
and salvation.' The worst intents and designs of the enemies of religion, 

* This frequently-recurring illustration is drawn from the Cartesian system of 
astronomy, which Newton's discoveries had not yet superseded. — G. 
VOL. III. G 



98 COMMENTARY ON 

was for the consolation and salvation of the Corinthians. It is good to 
think of this beforehand. It is a ground of patience ; and not only so, 
but of comfort and joy, which is a degree above patience. God overrules 
all thus. Therefore we should quietly cast oiu'sclves wholly upon him, 
willing to do and suffer whatsoever he will have us, knowing that he will 
direct all to the good of the church, to our comfort, and his own gloi-y. 

Use 3. Again, a further use may be this, to tench its to commioiicate our 
estate to others, became it is for their rjood. Good is diffusive, saith St Paul. 
All that I do or suffer, it is for your good, to join comfort and suffering to- 
gether. ' If I be comforted,' it is for you; and if I suffer, it is for you. It 
must be bj'^ their taking notice of it, and that is not all that they ought to 
take notice, but we ought to let them take notice as much as we can, ' Come, 
children, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord,' Ps. xxxiv. 11. ' Come 
and I will tell you what the Lord hath done for my soul.' ' The righteous 
shall compass me about,' saith David, Ps. cxlii. 7. As when a man hath 
some great matter to tell, there will be a ring of people about him, desirous 
to hear what he saith ; so saith David, the righteous shall compass me 
about. When David had sweet matter of experience, to tell what God had 
done for him ; how he had been with him in his affliction, and delivered him, 
' the righteous shall compass me about,' I will declare it to others. For 
God's children make others' case their own. They comfort them as they 
would be comforted of them again. 

As they ought to do so, so we should take notice of their troubles and 
deliverances, how God sanctifies them to them. These things tend to 
edification. There is the same reason to one saint of God as to all, and 
God is the same to all in the like case. Experiments are made much of in 
other things in physic, and judged cases in law, and such like. Tried 
things in all professions are good. So tried truths should bo valued. Now 
when a man teacheth another his experiment,* it is a judged case, a tried 
truth. It is not every truth that will stay the soul in the time of a great 
temptation, but a truth proved, a tried truth. Therefore it is good for 
parents and governors, for fi-iends and for all degrees of men, to make it 
one way to spend their time fi-uitfully, to discourse with others of the blessed 
experiments which they have had of God's gracious providence, in the passages 
of their life. ' Abraham will teach his children,' Gen. xviii. 19, I will tell 
it to him therefore, saith God. It is a means for God to reveal many 
things sweetly to us, when he knows we are of a communicative, spreading 
disposition. God gains by that means. His glory is spread. Our grace 
is increased. The good of others is multiplied. — To go on. 

' It is for your consolation and salvation.'' Whether we be afflicted, or 
whether we be comforted, all is for your consolation and salvation. I will 
not trouble you here with the diverse readings of copies. Some Greek 
copies want the word salvation, but the most that the translations follow 
have both consolation and salvation. Some have consolation and salvation 
in the first, but they repeat it not in the second. ' Whether we be com- 
forted, it is for your consolation and salvation.' But because the more 
current have both, therefore we will join both, ' it is for your consolation 
and salvation' (n). 

For huper\ in the Greek it hath a double force. It signifies either to 
merit ; hupon,\ to procure and merit salvation ; and so we do not under- 

* That is, ' experience.' — Q. f That is, weg = over, above. — G. 

X Apparently a misprint. — Ed. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 6. 99 

stand it. Or huper'^ for your good, a final cause. It includes either a meri- 
torious deserving cause, or a final cause. ' Whether I be aiSicted, it is for 
your consolation and salvation,' not by merit and desert; — so Christ's suf- 
fering was — but to help it forward in the execution of it. 

I speak this to cut the sinews of a popish point, as I meet it, which is a 
cozening point of their religion, which indeed is not a point of religion, 
but a point of Romish policy, a point of cozenage ; as most of their religion 
is but a trick for the belly. They have devices forsooth of the pope's 
treasury. He being the treasurer of the chm'ch, hath a treasury ; and what 
must that be filled with ? With the merits of saints, with the superabun- 
dance. For they can deserve and procure heaven for themselves, and 
more than obey. There is an overplus of obedience. The superabundance 
of that is laid in a treasury. And who should have the benefit of that but 
the treasury of the church and the pope ? But how shall the church come 
by this abundant satisfaction and merit ? They must buy them by par- 
dons, and they come not to have pardons for nought, but by purchasing of 
them, and hence come popish indulgences. That is nothing but a dis- 
pensing of the satisfaction and merits of the saints, which they did, say 
they, for the chm'ch, abusing such phrases as these. When they had more 
than their own obedience, they did good to others, and others had benefit 
by it. 

A shameful opinion, bred in the dark night of popery, when the Scrip- 
tures were hid, and when people did lie in ignorance ; and it was merely to 
advantage their own selves. For indeed the Scripture saith that God's 
children did suffer for the church ; but that was not for satisfaction for the 
church, but for the good of the church. Only Christ's death was satisfac- 
toiy. Christ is the only treasury of the church, and the satisfaction of 
Christ. They think they merit by their sufierings, when they suffer for 
their merits. And they think they merit not only for themselves, but for 
others too, which is a diabolical sarcasm. The devil mocks them that way ; 
he makes them ignorant of themselves. Alas ! that a silly, sinful man 
should think to do enough for himself, and more than enough, enough for 
others ! The wise virgins had but oil enough for themselves ; they had none 
for others. But these wise virgins have more than for themselves ; they 
have for others too. It is not worth the standing on, to hinder better and 
more comfortable things. The phrase runs in this sense, when it is meant 
of Christ. Christ suflered for our satisfaction, for our redemption. And 
Leo the pope, one of the best of their popes, and in his rank, a holy man 
in his time, he saith excellent well for this, sanctorum preciosa mors, do. 
The death of the saints is precious ; but the death of no saint is a propi- 
tiation for others. Their death is sanctified, but not propitiatory to others. 
Therefore singidaris singulis. All the saints, their death was for themselves. 
It is an excellent speech solus Christus, dc. (o). Every other besides 
Christ, their death was singular. It went not out of their persons to do others 
good, otherwise than by an exemplary course, as St Paul speaks here. 
But only Christ it is, in whom all died, in whom all are crucified, in whom 
all are raised, in whom all ascend, in whom all are glorified. As pubhc 
Adam, his death was for all. He was not considerable m his death, as 
one man, but as a ' second Adam,' who by his public obedience, as the first 
public person, by his disobedience infected all ; so he by his obedience and 
satisfaction, by his passive obedience, especially when he shut up his obedi- 
ence in death, aU died in him. It was as much as if all had died, as if aU 
* That is, h'Xig = for tlie realization of. — G. 



100 COMMENTARY ON 

had been crucified, and risen in him. The meaning is therefore, * Whether 
we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation,' to help it forward, 
to help forward your comfort, by way of example, and not by way of satis- 
faction and merit any kind of way. 

Do but consider this one reason, and so I will end the point. There 
was no saint that ever merited heaven by his own satisfaction, therefore he 
could not do good to others by way of satisfaction. How do you prove 
that ? By that excellent speech, in Rom. viii. 18, ' The sufferings of this 
world are not worthy of the glory that shall be revealed.' All that they 
suffered was not worthy of the glory to be revealed ; therefore they could 
not by any satisfaction of their own merit heaven for themselves. What 
should we speak of others then, to do any good to others, I mean, by way 
of satisfaction ? But he shews this in the next words more clearly, how 
good is done to others, ' Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation 
and salvation. 

' Which is effectual in enduring the same sufferings that tve also suffer.' It is 
read in the margin, and most go that way, and the oldest interpreters too 
(ji). Some translators have a word as fit in the margin as in the text oft- 
times, and they leave it to the readers to take which they will. It is good 
and useful both ways, but the most go that way, and it is more clear. The 
meaning is this, ' Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salva- 
tion,' which salvation of yours is wrought out, ' in enduring the same suffer- 
ings that we also sufler.' If it be read ' effectual,' as it is in the text, and 
not in the margin, then it is thus, ' If we be afflicted, it is for your conso- 
lation and salvation, the assurance whereof in you is effectual, to make you 
endure the suflerings that we suffer.' 

Now here must be a thing clear. 

How salvation is wrought by affliction ? 

I answer, salvation is wrought hj Christ, by way of merit and procure- 
ment, and purchase and satisfaction to divine justice ; but salvation, in re- 
gard of the profession of it, is wrought by afflictions, that is, we come to 
have it by this way. We might consider salvation in purchase and title, 
and salvation in possession and investing into it. Salvation in title and 
purchase is wrought by the death and sufferings of Christ, who hath this 
pre-eminence, to be called and styled a Saviour ; but though it be gotten by 
him, it is not possessed but by a certain way and course. That salvation, 
the title whereof we have by Christ, it is not possessed or entered into, but 
by a course of sufiering and doing. God hath measured out so many holy 
actions for every Christian to do, and so many things for every Christian 
to suffer, so many grievances, if he be of years of discretion. God hath a 
way to save children which lean to his msdom, but this way God saveth 
men. They have a cup measured to them, they have so many afflictions 
to suffer, before they be possessed of that which Christ hath purchased. So 
it is wrought in regard of possession, in suffering the same afflictions that 
others sufler. 

There are two ways, doing good, and suffering for good, that are the 
beaten way to obtain salvation, which salvation is wrought by the satisfac- 
tion of Christ. Mark here, he saith our suflerings tend to your comfort 
and salvation. How? Because it helps you to endure the same sufiering. 
By seeing others sufier, and by enduring the like, we come to the possession 
of salvation in the end, because by seeing them suffer, we are encouraged 
to sufier. The point hence is this, that, 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 6. 101 

Boct. Whatsoever good we take by the suferiitf/s of any, it is by stirring xip 
and strengthening some grace in us. 

Whatsoever good we take by any, — set Christ aside, from whom we take 
good hkewise by way of example, as well as merit ; but in a singular 
respect by way of merit, — but for others, whatsoever good we take, it is 
not direct, it is not immediate, but only by stirring up some grace, by 
strengthening some grace in us. There is no good derived from others to 
me but by confirming and strengthening some grace. So I come to have 
good by them, saith St Paul here, ' My sufierings incnease your salvation.' 
But it is because my sufferings stir you up to suffer the same afflictions. 
You learn of me by my carriage and example to suffer, and so by suffering 
that which I suffer you come to salvation. 

This is sufficient to convince that idle opinion that I spoke of before, 
that the sufferings of the saints are not conveyed by way of pardon to the 
ignorant people, that know not what saint, or pardon, or suffering, or merit 
is. But the way of comfort by the suffering of others, is by confirming and 
strengthening some grace, of patience, or comfort, &c., in them. All the 
good that is in the father cannot help the son, except he tread in his 
father's steps. If we go not in the same way as others do to heaven, in the 
same graces, all their sufferings will do us no good, but serve to condermi 
us. The point is clear ; because it serves to enlighten other points, I do 
but name it. But that which I wiU a little more stand on is, that salvation 
is wrought by suffering. 

Doct. We come to the possession of salvation by patience. 

Faith of salvation by Christ stirs us up to sufier, till we come to the pos- 
session of that that we have title to. Mark how these hang together. 
First, a Christian knows that God will save him by the merits, and satis- 
faction, and obedience of Christ, his surety. The assured persuasion of 
this salvation that he hath title to by Christ, because the possession of it 
is deferred till the next world, and there is a distance of time, and that 
time is encumbered with afflictions, hereupon comes a necessity of some 
special grace to carry us along till we be fally invested into that that we have 
title to by Christ. There must be some grace between faith and the pos- 
session of heaven. I am assm'ed of the possession of heaven in my first 
conversion ; but I am not invested into it. It is deferred. There is a dis- 
tance of time which is afflictive ; for hope deferred maketh the heart faint. 
A thing that we have right and title to, deferred, afflicts the soul, and the 
deferring of good hath the respect of ill. Good deferred puts upon it the 
consideration of ill ; for it is a grievance to want a good I have a right unto. 
Now it is not only deferred, but my Life is an exercised life, with many 
actions and sufierings. What grace must bear me up between me and 
heaven, and in the tediousness of the time prolonged ? Especially the grace 
of enduring. Therefore faith in Christ, by which I have a title to heaven, 
that stirs up hope, and hope stirs up patience, and that helps me in the 
way to heaven. It helps me to bear crosses and afflictions, and likewise to 
endure the tediousness and length of time till I come to heaven. So sal- 
vation is wrought by suffering. We come not to the possession of it but 
by suffering and enduring. ' You have need of patience,' saith the apostle, 
Heb. X. 36. 

Give me leave to clear the point a little. How doth patience enter into 
this great work of helping our salvation ? Patience in enduring affliction, 
it helps many ways. 

1. They work salvation, not by way of merit, for that were to disable the 



102 COMMENTARY ON 

title we hare by Christ, but hi/ ivatj qf evidence. It helps the evideuce of the 
title. For I have title by Christ. But how do I know that my evidence 
to that title is good ? Afflictions, and the patient suffering of them. Not 
afflictions alone, but afflictions joined with the grace of patience to endure 
them ; for else they do no good. Afflictions are evil in themselves. For 
thus it increaseth my evidence. Every heir is a son. For heaven is the 
inheritance of sons ; and every son must be corrected ; and I am corrected 
and afflicted in this life ; and God doth give me grace to endure them, and 
to see my good in them. These afflictions, therefore, mingled with patient 
enduring of them, do evidence that I am not a bastard. In Heb. xii. 8, 
the apostle proves this. Every one that hath not some affliction or other, 
' he is a bastard and not a sou.' It increaseth my evidence that I am the 
child of God, especially if I sufier for a good cause. ' If we suffer with him, 
we shall reign with him,' Rom. viii. 17. Here the evidence is increased. 
By this I know I am in the way which is strewed with crosses and afflic- 
tions. We must enter into heaven this way. I know it for the way, 
so it furthers my salvation. It gives me assurance that my evidence is 
good. 

It is the Scripture's manner to say things are done, when the knowledge 
of the thing is increased: as to say we are saved, when we know more 
assuredly that we shall be saved ; to say we are in the kingdom of heaven 
when we know we are in the state of the kingdom of heaven, as in 2 Pet. 
iii. 18. Saith he, ' grow in grace,' &c., for by this means, ' a further 
entrance shall be ministered unto you, into the kingdom of God,' 2 Pet. 
i. 11. The knowledge of a man's estate in grace is a further entrance into 
the kingdom of God, that is begun here in this life. The knowledge that 
I am an heir of heaven, is to be in heaven before my time. Thus afflic- 
tions joined with patience help salvation, because they help the evidence of 
salvation. They shew that we are sons, and not bastards. It is an evi- 
dence of our adoption. 

2. And then sufferings, joined with the grace of enduring, help forward 
salvation by way of qualification. There is a qualification and disposition of 
soul, which is necessary before we come to heaven ; ' because no unclean 
thing shall ever come to heaven,' Rev. xxi. 27. 

Now suffering, joined with patience, having a mighty and blessed work 
this way, to purge us of that soil that we cannot carry to heaven with us. 
We may not think to carry our unmortified pride and lusts, and base 
earthly affections, and our pleasures and riches ill gotten, to heaven with 
us. Oh, no ! the presence of heaven is a more pure presence than so, 
and the place will not endure such defilements. We must be cleansed 
therefore. 

Now, because afflictions endured with patience, have a blessed power to 
subdue that which by nature is powerful in us, to purge out those base 
affections, that are contrary to the glorious estate we look for ; therefore 
they help us to heaven, they help the qualification of the person, not the 
merit and desert of it. 

They help likewise the qualification, by removing that which corruption 
feeds on ; for affliction endured removes that which corruption works on, 
and strengthens itself by. Affliction is either in removing riches, or 
honours, or pleasures, somewhat that corruption feeds on ; for all corrup- 
tion is about those idols, greatness, or pleasure, or profit of the world. 
Now sufferings crossing us in our reputation, or estates, or body, one way 
or other, they withdraw the fuel that feeds our corruptions, and so help 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I. VER. 6. 108 

mortification and purgation, and so fit us for heaven. They help our 
repentance. They make the favour of God sweet, and sin bitter. It is a 
bitter thing to offend God. We feel it by the afflictions that are laid 
on us. 

3. Again, many positive graces are required before we come to heaven. 
Affliction endured helps all gi-aces whatsoever. The only time for grace to 
thrive in is the time of affliction, for affliction endured helps our zeal, our 
love. We have experience of the patience of God, and they stir up 
prayer. All graces are set on work in affliction. ' Out of the deep have I 
cried,' Ps. cxxx. 1. Prayers are cries in affliction. They are not cold dull 
things, but set on fire ; they set the spii'it on work to cry to God with ear- 
nest, frequent, and fervent prayer. 

4. Then again, afflictions endured, they rvork salvation and help xcs to 
heaven, because they whet and sharjyen our desire of heaven ; for when we find 
ill usage here below in our pilgrimage, we have a great desire to be at home 
at rest ; and that is one main end why God sends afflictions, to help sal- 
vation this way by shai^Dening our desires. For were it not for afflic- 
tions, and the enduring of them, would we ever say, ' Come, Lord Jesus, 
come quickly ' ? Rev. xxii. 20. Would we not be of Peter's mind, ' It is 
good for us to be here'? Mark ix. 5. Would we ever be weary of the 
world, before we be fired out of it and pulled out of it, as Lot out of Sodom ? 
No. They help our desire and earnestness. The creature groans, Rom. 
viii. 21, 22. ' Those that have received the first fruits of the Spirit, they 
wait for the adoption of the sons of God.' Those that have the beginnings 
of grace, they wait for the accomplishment. What makes this but afflic- 
tions and troubles of the world ? They desire a state wherein all tears shall 
be wiped from their eyes. 

So we see, these and many other ways, but these are the principal, how 
afflictions, endured as they should be, they help salvation, they work our 
salvation. Though they work not the title of it, yet they help us in the way. 

First, because they assure us that ice are the sons of God, and so have evi- 
dence that we are in a good state ; and then they remove the hindrances 
and purge us of our sins. And then they help us in all graces, they cherish 
all graces, and they sharpen and whet the edge of our desires to be out of 
this world. 

And all this must be in every Christian before he come to heaven ; for 
God never brings a man of years to heaven but he gives him cause to see 
why he would be out of this world, either by long sickness or affliction, or 
by one thing or other. He makes them see that it is better to be there 
than here ; and if it were not for crosses, who would be of that mind ? 

Therefore, have we not cause to suspect ourselves that we are in smooth 
ways and find no crosses ? God doth give respite to his children. They 
have breathing times. They are not alway under crosses. He is merciful. 
Perhaps they have not strength enough. He will not bring them to the 
lists,* to the stage, because they are not enabled, they have not strength 
enough. But they that have a continual tenor of prosperity may well sus- 
pect themselves. If one have direction to such a place, and they tell 
him there are such ways, deep waters, that except he take heed he will be 
drowned, and step into holes, and they are craggy ways ; and if he meet 
with none of these, he may well think he is not in his way. So the way to 
heaven, it is through afflictions. We must endure many afflictions, saith 
the apostle here, ' Salvation is wrought by enduring the same afflictions 
* That is, 'barriers' Cf. Richardson, sub voce—G. 



xOi C03IJIENTAEY ON 

that you see in us.' Now, if I suffer and endure nothing, if I cannot en- 
dure so much as a fiHp, a disgrace, a frown, a scorn for Christ, if the 
way be over-smooth, it is not the way to heaven certainly. The way is not 
strewed with roses. We must have om* feet ' shod with the preparation of 
the gospel,' Eph. vi. 15. They must be well shod that go among thorns ; and 
they had need to be well fenced that go the way to heaven. It is a thorny, 
rugged way. But it is no matter what the way be, so it brings us to heaven ; 
but certainly, if the way be too smooth, we ought to suspect ourselves. 

Now, because it may be objected, many will say, alas ! "VMiat do we 
suffer ? and, therefore, our case is not good. 

I answer, every Christian suffers one of these ways at one time or other, 
nay, at all times, either by sympathy with the church [or otherwise.] 

1. Put the case we have no afflictions of our own, do we not sympathise 
with the church beyond the seas ? When thou hearest ill news, if thou be 
glad to hear it, certainly thy case is bad. There is a suffering by sym- 
pathy, and that suffering is ours. 

2. Then again, there are afflictions and sufferings that arise iipon scandals, 
that men run into before our eyes, which is a great grief. ' Mine eyes gush 
out with rivers of waters, because men keep not thy law,' saith David, Ps. 
cxix. 136. Is it not a matter of suffering to a Christian soul to see that he 
would not see, and to hear blasphemies and oaths that he would not hear ? 
to have the understanding forced to understand that he would not, living 
in a world of iniquity, in the kingdom of the devil ? It is a great grievance. 
' Woe is me that I am forced to dwell in Meshech, and to have my habita- 
tion with the tents of Kedar,' Ps. cxx. 5. It is a pitiful affliction to the 
saints of God, to him that hath the life of grace in his heart, to have the 
wicked as ' goads and thorns,' as the Scripture saith the Jebusites should 
be to the Israelites, Num. xxxiii. 55 ; to have thoughts forced upon us and 
things forced upon our soiils that we would not see nor think nor hear of, 
that which shall never be in heaven. 

3. Again, every one suffers the burden of his calling, which is a great 
suffering. A man need not to whip himself, as the Scottish papists do {q), 
if he be but faithful in his calling. It is a notable means of mortification, 
God keeps a man from persecution many times because he hath burdens 
in his calling to exercise him. He hath many crosses in his calling. God 
hath joined sweat to labour, and trouble, and pains ; and there is no man 
that is faithful in his calling as he should be, but he shall find many crosses. 

4. And then, that which afflicts most of all, the affliction of all afflictions, 
the inward combat between the fle.^h and the sjririt, which God usually takes 
up in persecution and outward troubles. God's dear children in persecu- 
tion find little molestation from their corruptions, because God will not lay 
more upon them than he will give them strength to bear ; and now, when 
he singles them out to outward crosses, he subdues their corruptions, that 
they do not vex them as before. 

In the time of peace he lets loose their corruptions, sometimes anger, 
sometimes pride, sometimes one base affection, sometimes another ; and 
think you this is no grief to them ? Oh, yes ; it grieves them, and humbles 
them more than any cross would do. St Paul was grieved more at this than 
at all his sufferings. It made him cry out, ' Oh, wretched man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from this body of death ? ' Rom. vii. 24. He doth 
not say. Oh, wretched iv.v.^^, who shall deliver me from crosses and afflic- 
tions ? Though they made him wretched in the eye of the world, 3'et he re- 
joiced in those. But his grief was, that he could not do the good that he 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 6, 1(K 

would ; and that made him cry out, ' wretched man that I am,' &c. 
It is God that ties up our corruptions, that they run not so violently on the 
soul at one time as they do at another, for he hath the command of them 
hy his Spirit. There is no Christian hut one of these ways he suffers in the 
greatest time of peace. Especially this v^-ay God exerciseth them, that he 
makes them weary of their lives by this spiritual conflict. If they know 
what the life of grace means, he makes them know what it is to be ab- 
sent from heaven. He makes them know that this life is a place of 
absence ; and all this is to help our disposition to salvation, by helping 
mortification and by helping our desire to heaven. Those that go on in a 
smooth course, that know not what this inward combat means, and are 
carried away with their* sins, they are so far from taking scandals to heart, 
that if they see evil men, they are ready to join with them, to join with blas- 
phemers and v.dcked persons ; and instead of sympathising with the chm-ch 
of God, they are ready to join with them that censure them, and so add 
affliction to the afflicted. 
But to proceed. 

* Whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.' Of 
' comfort ' I spake in the former verse. Only that note that I will briefly 
commend you to is this, that 

Doct. God's children, hap how it will, they do youd. 

Cast them into what estate you will, they do good. They are good, and 
do good. If they be afflicted, they do good by that ; if they have comfort, 
they do good to others by that. No estate is amiss to God's children ; 
and that is the reason of their perfect resignation. The child of God per- 
fectly resigns himself into God's hand. Lord, if thou wilt have me suffer, 
I will suffer ; if thou wilt have me afflicted, I yield myself ; if thou wilt have 
me enjoy prosperity, I will. I know it shall be for my good, and for the 
good of others. 

There is an intercourse in the life of a Christian. He is now afflicted, 
and now comforted, not for his own sake only, but for the good of others ; 
and when he shall be afflicted, and how long, and what comfort he shall 
have, how much, he leaves it to the wisdom of God. It is a blessed estate, if 
we could think of it, to be a Christian, that we need to care for nothing but 
to serve God. We need to care for nothing, but study to keep a good con- 
science. Let God alone with all our estate ; for God will enable us to want 
and to abound in our own persons, and likewise he will sanctify our estate 
for the good of others. 

And a Christian will be willing to be tossed, and to be ' changed from 
vessel to vessel,' Jer. xlviii. 11, from state to state, for the good of others. 
If his afflictions may do good to the church, he is content that God should 
withdraw his blessings from him, and humble him with crosses. If his 
example may be good to others, he is likewise joyful ; when God gives 
him rest, and causeth an inward comfort, he knows that this is good for 
others. He hath learned in his first entrance into Christianity, self-denial, 
not to live to himself, but for the glory of God and the good of others, as 
much as he may. 

Use. We should labour therefore to content ourselves in all conditions, 
knowing that all is for the best, not only to ourselves, and God's glory, but 
for the good of others. God, when he takes things from us, and afflicts us, 
and when he comforts us, he intends the comfort of others. So we should 
reason when we endure anything, and when we are comforted, certainly 



106 COMMENTAKY ON 

God intends tlie good of others by this ; therefore I will have a special 
care in suffering, to cairy it decently and exemplarily, knowing that the 
eyes of many are upon me. I will carry myself so, that God may have 
glory, and others may have edification and comfort, knowing that I am but 
God's steward, to convey this to others, that are of the same body with 
myself. Therefore in our communion we have with others, upon any good 
occasion, we ought to express the blessed experience of the comfort of God 
upon us. This is the practice of holy men in their meeting with others, 
to shew them the comforts of God to their souls. ' Come, and I will shew 
you what God hath done for my soul,' Ps. cxlii. 7, saith the psalmist. 
All are the better for a good man. He doth good to all ; and therefore 
Solomon saith, ' When a righteous man is advanced, the city rejoiceth,' 
Prov. xi. 10. They have cause, for he hath a public mind. Nothing 
doth more characterise, and is a better stamp of a true Christian, than a 
public mind. 

A carnal man out of self-love may grieve at his own sins, and may la- 
bour to comfort himself; but a Christian thinks others shall take good by 
me. It is the mind of Christ, and it is the mind of all the members of 
Christ, when a man thinks he hath nothing, except he have it to improve 
for the good of others. 

A dead, sullen, reserved spirit, is not a Christian's spirit. If by nature 
we have such, we must labour to help it with grace ; for gi*ace is a difiusive, 
communicating thing, not only in the ministers of God, but in every Chris- 
tian. Grace will teach them to make savoury their conversation to others, 
this way, that whatsoever they are, or whatsoever they can do, or whatso- 
ever they suffer, they study to improve all to the good of others. 

And mark the extent of the loving wisdom and providence of God, how 
many things he doth at once. For in the same affliction ofttimes, he cor- 
rects some in his children, in the same affliction he tries some grace, in the 
same affliction he witnesseth to his truth in them, in the same affliction he 
doth good to others besides the good he doth to them. In the same afflic- 
tion that others inflict, he hasteneth the ruin of them that offer it; at one 
time, and in one action, he hasteneth the destruction of the one, by hastening 
the good of the other ; he ripens grace in his children, making them ex- 
emplary to others, and all in the same action, so large is the wise providence 
of God. 

It should teach us likewise to follow that providence, and to see how 
many ways anything we suffer any kind of way may extend, that if one 
way will not comfort, another may. When we suffer, and are grieved, 
let us consider withal that he that doth the wrong, he hastens his ri;in and 
judgment. As Pharaoh, when he hastened the overthrow of the children of 
Israel, he hastened his overthrow in the Red Sea. So a pit is digged for 
the wicked, when they dig a pit for the godly, Ps. vii. 15. And consider, 
to comfort thyself, thou hast some sin in thee, and God intends not only to 
witness this truth, but to correct some sin in thee, and thou must look to 
that. Thou hast some grace in thee, and he intends the trial of that. 
Look to these things. This shews strong heavenly-mindedness, when there 
is self-denial. Let us consider what God calls us to ; for God looks to 
many things in the same act. Wherefore doth God give us reason and 
discourse, but to be able to foUow him in his dealing, as far as we can 
reach to ? 

But I go on to the next verse. 



2 CORINTHIANS CUAP. I, VEK. 7. 107 

VERSE 7. 

* And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that as you are partakers 
of the sufferiufj, so you shall be also of the consolation.' This verse is nothing 
but a strengthening of what he said before. He had told them that what- 
soever he suffered, it was for their comfort too ; and now he repeats it 
again, and sets a seal upon it, ' Our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that 
as you are partakers of the sufferings, so you shall also be of the consola- 
tion.' In these words he shews that they shall share in the good with him 
as well as in the ill ; that the Spirit of God in them should help them to 
take all the good they could, both by his sufferings and by his comfort. 
For as he by the help of the Spirit of God intended the public good, in- 
tended their good and comfort in all, whether he were afflicted or com- 
forted ; so he saith here, he was assured that as they were partakers of his 
sufferings, so they should be of his comforts likewise. 

Here is the truth, and the seal of the truth. 

The truth, that they were ' partakers of his sufferings,' and should be 
* partakers of his consolations.' 

And the seal is in the manner of affirming these truths, * Our hope of you 
is stedfast.' And in this order I will speak of them. First, 

Doct. God's children are partakers of the sufferings of others. 

The Corinthians were partakers of the sufferings of St Paul. 

God's children are partakers of the sufferings of others many ways. 

First. By way of sympathy, taking to heart the estate of the church and 
children of God abroad. It grieved the Corinthians to hear that St Paul 
was afflicted ; for even as it is in the natui'al body, so likewise in the mysti- 
cal body, there is a sympathy between the members. 

Second. Likewise they partake of the sufferings of others by way of pro- 
portion. They suffered in their kind and proportion as he suffered; though 
perhaps not in the same very individual kind. There is a portion of 
suffering in the church. Some suffer one way, and others another; but all 
partake of sufferings in some degree or other. 

3. Then again, they did partake of St Paul's sufferings in preparation 
and disposition of mind. Howsoever now they did not suffer as much as 
he, yet, saith he, I know as far as the Spirit of God is in you, you are pre- 
pared to suffer ; and what we are prepared to do, that we do. Christ saith 
we ' sell all for the gospel,' when upon serious examination of our hearts 
we find we can part with it. When we set ourselves to examination, what 
cannot I part with for Christ ? Can I part with my goods ? Can I part 
with my life ? If we can once come to resolution, it is done, as Abraham 
is said to sacrifice his son, because he resolved to do it, Heb. xi. 17 ; and 
David is said to build the temple, because he intended to do it, 1 Kings 
viii. 18. God looks upon us in our resolutions and preparations. What 
we resolve to do, that is done. So, saith he, you are partakers of my suf- 
ferings, not only by sympathy, and in proportion of suffei'ings, but you are 
prepared, he speaks charitably and lovingly, to suffer whatsoever I suffer, 
if God call you to it. 

Reason. And the ground of Christians partaking of the sufferings one of 
another, it is the communion that is between Christians. They are all mem- 
bers of one body. If the hand suffer, the head suffers. The head thinks 
itself wronged when the hand or the foot is wronged, by reason of the 
sympathy between the members, as I said ; and so it is in the mystical 
body of Christ. 



108 COMMENTARY ON 

There are these three unions which depend one upon another. 

1. The union of Christ ivith ournaturc, which is inseparable. It is an 
eternal union. He never lays that blessed mass of our liesh aside which he 
took, which is the gi'ound of all our comfort ; for God is now at one with 
us, because God hath taken our nature on him, and satisfied the wrath of 
God his Father. 

2. Next the union of Christ with our nature, is the union, of Christ mysti- 
cal. Christ and his members when they suffer, Christ suffers. Their suf- 
ferings are the sufferings of Christ. 

3. The third is the union of one memher with another, that what one 
member suffers, another doth suffer. Therefore the Corinthians were par- 
takers of Christ, because their sufferings were the sufferings of Christ ; and 
they were partakers of St Paul's sufferings, because his sufferings were their 
sufferings. 

They were partakers of Chi'ist's sufferings, because of the communion 
between the head and the members ; and they were partakers of St Paul's 
sufferings, because of the communion of one member with another. And 
surely there is not a heart that was ever touched with the Spirit of God, 
but when he hears of any calamity of the church, whether it be in the 
Palatinate (/•), in France, in the Low countries, or in any country in the 
world, if he hears that the church hath a blow, it strikes to the heart of 
any man that hath the Spirit of God in them, by a sympathetica! suffering. 
It is one good sign to know whether a man be of the mystical body or no, 
to take to heart the grievance of the church. As good Nehemiah did ; ho 
would not take comfoi't in the pleasures of a court, in the king of Babylon's 
court, when it went not well with his country. When the church was in 
distress, he took their grievance to heart. So Moses, the very joys of 
Pharaoh's court could not please him, when he considered the abasement 
of his countrymen, and he joined with them; and it is called the ' rebuke' 
of Christ. 

So it is with all the people of God. There is a communication of suffer- 
ings. ' As you are partakers of the sufferings, so you shall be also of the 
consolation.' 

Wherein two things are observable. 

First, that a necessary jnecedent condition of comfort is sufferings. 

And then the consequent of this, tliat those that suffer as they should are 
sure of comfort. These two things unfold the meaning of the Spirit of God 
here. 

Before there be comfort, there must be suffering ; for God hath estab- 
lished this order. Even as in nature, there must be ^ night before the 
day, and a winter before a summer ; so in the kingaom of Christ, in his 
ruling of the church, there is this divine policy, there must be suffering 
before comfort. God will sooner break the league and the covenant be- 
tween day and night, than this league of suffering and comfort : the one 
must be before the other. It was so in our head, Christ. He suffered, 
and then entered into his glory. So all his members must be conformable* 
to him in suffering, and then enter into their glory. 

The reasons of this are divers. 

Reason 1. First of all, this method and order is, first, suffering, and then 

comfort, becaiise God finds us in a corrupt estate; and something must be 

wrought out of us, before we can be vessels to receive comfort. Therefore 

there must be a purgation one way or other, either by repentance, or if not, 

• Misprinted, ' comfortable.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 7. 109 

by repentance, by affliction, to help repentance. There must be suflferinw 
before comfort. The soul is unfit for comfort. 

Secondly, this order commends and siveetens comfort to i(s. For fire is 
sweet after cold, and meat is sweet after hunger ; so comfort is sweet after 
suffering, God fits us to comfort by this, by purging out what is contrary 
to comfort. And he endears comfort by this. Those that have felt the 
cross, comfort is comfort indeed to them. Heaven is heaven indeed to him 
that hath had a hell in his conscience upon earth, that hath been afiiicted 
in conscience, or outwardly persecuted. It set a price and value upon 
comfort. 

Partly likewise to sharpen our desire of comfort ; for sufi'ering breeds 
sense, and sense that stirs up desire, and desire is eager. Now sufierin'^, 
it makes comforts precious, and sets us in a wondi-ous strong desire after 
them. 

And by this means, likewise, God comes to his own end, which is that 
our comforts may be eternal. Therefore we have that which is ill, in the 
first place. Woe to us, if it should be said to us, as to Dives in the gospel, 
' Son, son, thou hadst thy good here, and now thou must have thy ill,' 
Luke xvi. 25. God intends not to deal so with his children ; but they taste 
the worst wine first, and better afterward. Because ho intends eternal 
happiness to them, he observes this method, first ill, and then good, the 
best at last. 

Use 1. If this be so, then ivhij should we be offended at God's order ? Why 
should we not take it, not only gently and meekly, but joyfully, the afflic- 
tions that God sends to prepare and fit us for happiness, to sharpen our 
desire to happiness, to make it precious to us ? Certainly it is a ground, 
not only of patience and meekness, but of joy and comfort, in all the things 
we sufl'er. Will a patient be angry with his chirurgeon for searching of 
his wound ? He knows that that is the way to cure him. Will any man 
tJike ofi'ence at the goldsmith for purging his mass ? They know that is 
the way to purify it, and fetch out the dross. 

This is the method in nature. The ground must be ploughed and pre- 
pared, and then comes the harvest. Let us he content with this method, 
and rejoice in any sufiering, knowing it will have a blessed issue ; and not 
to think much at sufiering anything for a good cause in ourselves, or by 
way of sympathy or support with others, because this is the highway to a 
better estate. If we suffer with the church, or for the church, any kind of 
way, we shall be comforted with the church. It is that which sweetens 
the cross, that we are under hope of better still. Who would not endure a 
little grievance in the way, to have honour in the end ? to have ill usage in 
an inn, and to go to a kingdom ? All our discomforts and afflictions are 
but by the way here ; and crosses are necessary for travellers, and here we 
are but in a travelling estate. It should, I say, encourage us not to take 
offence at anything that God exerciseth us with in this world, nor to take 
scandal at the afflictions of the church. 

Use 2. And then it shoidd strike terror to those that ivill not endure so 
much as a scratch, a scoff, a word, a chip of the cross, that ivill endure rjothing. 
Do they know that this is God's order ? Do they avoid crosses in any 
degree ? and do they think to have comfort ? No ! God will not change 
his order for them. He hath established this order, and heaven and earth 
shall fail, rather than God's order shall not be sure. If we will have com- 
fort, we must suffer. If we will avoid sufiering, and think to go to heaven 
another way than God hath ordained, we may take our own way, but we 



1 1 COMMENTARY ON 

must give liim leave to take his way in comforting and advancing whom he 
will, and that will not ho ns, hecause we will not frame ourselves to his 
order. Wo must not look for his dignity. ' If we will not suffer with 
him, we shall not reign with him,' Rom. viii. 17. 

The next thing observable in the order is this, that 

Ihct. Those that suffer as they should are sure of covifnrt. 

There is a threefold conformity with Christ, in sufferiug, grace, glory. 

Those that are not conformable to him in suffering, they cannot be con- 
formable to him in grace ; and if they be not in grace, they shall not in 
glory. He took upon him our nature abased first; and our nature purified, 
and our nature glorious, he hath now in heaven. So our nature in us must 
keep this order. First, it must be abased, as our flesh was in him, and 
then filled with grace, by little and little, and then glorious, as our nature 
is in him. If we will not suffer our flesh to be abased and exercised with 
afflictions, and let God work his own good work as he pleaseth this way, 
we are not conformable to Chi'ist, who was first abased, and then advanced. 
What was wrought in his blessed flesh, must be wrought in his mystical 
body, in all his members, by little and little. Therefore those that are 
tender and wayward to endure anything, when God calls them to it, they 
are enemies to their own comfort. God hath set down this order, if they 
do not partake of the sufferings of the church, they shall not partake of the 
comfort. 

Oh, it is a cursed estate to be out of the condition of God's people, and 
it is a comfortable thing to have part with those that are good, yea, even if 
it be in suffering with them. It is better to have communion with God's 
people in suffering, than to have communion with the wicked in the world, 
in reigning and triumphing. 

And that is the reason that the Spirit of God in the prophet made him 
desire, ' Deal with me. Lord, as thou usest to deal with those that fear thy 
name,' Ps. cxix. 121. He knew he deals well enough with them. ' Visit 
me with the salvation of thy children,' Ps. cvi. 4. He knew that was a 
special salvation. So to have God deal with us, as he deals with his, and 
to visit us in mercy and love, as he visits his own, it is a special favour. 
It is better to bear the cross with them, that we may partake with them 
in the comfort, than to have all the comforts that the wicked have, and to 
share with them in the misery afterward. Therefore let us be content to 
share with God's people in their suffering. When we hear of any that 
suffer for a just cause, though we have no sufferings of our own, let us 
bear a part with them, and with the bond of the communion of saints, help 
what we may. 

And it is as true on the contrary, if we partake with the wicked in their 
sins, we shall partake with them in their punishment. Therefore the Scrip- 
ture saith, ' Come out of Babylon, my people, lest if you partake of her 
sins, so you partake of her punishments,' Rev. xviii. 4. Now, atheistical 
people think it nothing to enter into league, and amity, and society with 
profane people, that are professedly so, not only by weakness, but those 
that are stigmatized. But what saith the Scripture? — and the Holy Ghost 
doth not trifle with us. — ' Come out of Babylon, my people, lest you par- 
take of her plagues ; ' which is not meant so much locally to come out of 
the place, as in disposition to come out in respect of liking, and converse, 
and secret intimate communion. Lot's sons-in-law, they thought it was 
but trifling. They gibed as atheists do now, when they hear the ministers 
encourage people to make much of religion, and to set against those that 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 7. Ill 

are opposite. They tliink they are enforced to it, and it is upon mistake, 
&c., though it be as palpable as the light of the sun. They deal as Lot's 
sons-in-law, when he warned them to come out of Sodom, and he was 
pulled out. They would believe nothing till fire came do^\Ti from heaven, 
and destroyed them all. It was too late then. Therefore let us hearken 
to the counsel of the angel, let us not make this a matter of scom, a light 
matter ; but as we desire to have no part in their confusion, so avoid their 
courses. The Scripture is terrible to those that, after the breaking out of 
the light, will be such. There is not more direct Scriptures against any 
kind of men, than those that wilfully cleave to antichrist. Therefore we 
should not esteem it a hght matter, but think of it seriously indeed. 

And not only in respect of them, but all wicked society. Were it not 
pity that men should be severed from them hereafter, whose company they 
will not be severed from now ? If thou see an adulterer, a blasphemer, a 
wicked, Ucentious, atheistical person, and thou runnest into the same ex- 
cess of riot with him, thou wilt not be drawn by any persuasions, minis- 
terial or friendly, or by thine own light, which knows his course to be 
naught, to retire from his society, — dost thou not think to share with him 
afterward in his judgment ? As you are all tares, so you shall be bound 
in a bimdle, and cast into heU together. Mat. xiii. 30. As the wheat shall 
be gathered into heaven, so the tares, a cursed company, that will cleave 
together though they be damned for it. As they clave together as burs 
and tares here, so they shall be cast into hell together. That is the end of 
dissolute, unruly creatures, that nothing will sever them from those who in 
their own consciences they know their com-ses to be naught. 

* Our hope of you is stedfast.' There is a double certainty, a certainty of 
the tinxth of the thing, and a certainty of the estate of the person. The 
certainty of the truth is this, those that suffer with Christ and his church, 
shall be glorified icith Christ and his church. The certainty of the truth is 
more certain than heaven and earth. Now, besides the certainty of the 
truth, or thing, there is interposed a certainty of the persons, that as they 
were interested in the sufferings, so they should be in the comfoiis. And 
this is true as well as the former. For God's promises are not mere ideas 
wanting truths, that have no performance in the persons ; but if the thing 
be trae, it is true in the person to whom the truth belongs. Suffering 
goes before glory. Therefore if we suffer we shall be glorified. But this 
is the condition, if they suffer with Christ. Then St Paul takes it for 
certain that they shall be glorified with Christ. There is not the same 
certainty of the persons as of the truth itself. The truth is certain by a 
certainty of faith, but the certainty of the persons is the certainty of a 
charitable persuasion. I am persuaded that you will suffer with me in 
sympathy, and therefore I am persuaded in the certainty of charity that 
you shall of a certain have the comfort. 

* Our hope of you is stedfast.' St Paul, you see, hath a good conceit of 
them, that he might encourage them to sympathise and take to heart his 
crosses, and to take good by them. A good hope of others hath a double 
efficacy. 

1. It hath one efficacy in the party that hath the good hope of another. 
It stirs him up to be diligent to take all courses that may be for the good 
of another. As the speech is, Hope stirs up to work ; it stirs up en- 
deavour ; 80 it doth in the husbandman, and in every kind of trade. 
Hope quickens endeavour. A man will never sow upon the sands. He 



112 COMMENTARY ON 

loseth his cost. A man will never bestow his paiiis upon those that he 
thinks arc desperate. And what is it that dulls and deads endeavour ? I 
despair of ever doing such a man good. When those despau'ing thoughts 
enter into the soul, there is a stop of all endeavour. And surely Christians 
are much to blame that way. When they might have ground, if charity 
■were in them, at least of hope of others ; upon some hard, despairing 
conceits they cast off hope, and so neglect all endeavours of doing good to 
others. The Spirit of God is witty* in the hearts of his children to ob- 
serve all advantages of doing good. Therefore it is willing to entertain all 
offers of good in others. If they be but willing to hear reproof, if the}' be 
willing to hear comfort, and to hear good discourse, it will make a good 
construction of their errors, if it may be, except it be those that are mali- 
ciously obstinate. It will impute it to passion, or to ill company, to one 
thing or other. As far as possible it will admit of a good construction. 
Love in God's children will admit of it ; and love stirs up to hope, and 
hope stirs up to deal with them for their good. 

I know that charity is not sottish ; but yet it is willing to think the best. 
Where there is probability of good for the present, or where there is a 
tractableness, where there is a willingness to entertain communion, where 
there is any propension,f we must be of our blessed Saviour's disposition, 
* who will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed,' Mat. 
xii. 20. We must draw all, and drive none away. This is one special 
fruit and effect that hope hath in the party that doth hope toward another. 

Now, as it is good for the speaker to be well conceited ; so it is a good 
preparative in the hearer. It hath a winning power in the party hoped of. 
It is a great attractive ; for we willingly hear those that conceit good of us. 
St Paul here works upon the natural disposition in all, which is, that they 
love to be well thought of; and natural dispositions are strong. It is the 
natural disposition for every man to love where he is well thought of; and 
it is not sinful, unless it be in vainglorj', to desire to have good place in 
the esteem of others. And there a man will labour to carry himself an- 
swerable to the good conceit had in him. 

There is a conflict in the worst man. Where he is well conceited of, he 
labours to maintain it, except it be those that are mightily enthralled, as 
some wretches are, to blasphemy, and to a cursed life, that they care not. 
But else if they be well thought of, it will stir them up to maintain it. He 
is a dissolute man, he is not a man, so far as he is careless of this, he is 
brutish and senseless. St Paul, in saying ' our hope is stedfast concerning 
you,' he wins himself into their good opinion ; and so by that means he 
hoped to prevail with them for greater matters. So hope, it stirs up men 
to do good, and it makes the other willing to receive good. For it makes 
them willing to content them that hope well of them. St Paul was led 
with this heavenly wisdom, and that which made him so industrious, was 
hope of prevailing ; and that which made him prevail with others, was the 
good conceit he had of thorn. He would gather upon every one. When 
he saw Agrippa come on a little, ' Agrippa, believest thou the Scriptures ? ' 
Acts xxvi. 27. I know thou behevest. ' Almost thou persuadest me to 
be a Christian,' saith he, ver. 28 ; and so he comes in a little. It is good, 
as much as may be, to have hope of others. 

But what is his degree of hope ? ' Our hope of you ' — is stedfast. 

He had a stedfast hope, that if they were sufferers, they should be par- 
takers of the comfort. 

* That is, ' wise.' — G. t That is, ' inclination.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I. VKR. 7. 113 

The observation may be this, that 

Doct. Divine truths are such as we may build a steclfast hope on the j^er- 
formance of them. 

Divine truths, divine comforts, they are of that nature, that though we 
do not yet enjoy them, yet we may build certainly upon them. I hope sted- 
fastly, that if you be partakers of the sufierings, you shall be partakers of 
the comforts. A man cannot say so of anything else but divine truths. A 
man cannot say of any other, or of himself, I hope stedfastly to be rich, I 
hope stedfastly to be great, or I hope stedfastly to live long. The nature 
of the thing is uncertain. The state of the world is vanity ; and life itself, 
and all things here, will not admit of a certain apprehension. For the cer- 
tainty in a man's understanding, it follows the certainty of the thing, or 
else there is no adequation.* When there is an evenness in the apprehen- 
sion to the thing, then it is true ; but if we apprehend anything that is 
here, that either riches or life, or favour will be thus, or thus long, it is no 
true apprehension. We cannot build a certain hope upon an uncertain 
ground. But of divine truths, we can say, if we see the one, undoubtedly 
the other will follow ; if we see the signs oi grace in any man, that he is 
strong to endure any disgi'ace for religion, any discomfort, then we may 
say, certainly, as you partake of the afflictions of Christ, and of the afflic- 
tions and sufferings of his people, his body mystical ; so undoubtedly you 
shall be partakers of the comfort of God's people : heaven and earth shall 
fail, but this shall never fail. 

Is not this a comfort to a Christian, that when he is in the state of 
grace, he hath something that he may build on, when all things else fail ? 
In all the changes and alterations of this life, he hath somewhat unalter- 
able, — the certainty of divine comforts, the certainty of his estate in grace, 
though he be in an afflicted estate. As verily as he is afflicted, so verily 
he shall be comforted. ' If we suffer with Christ, we shall be glorified with 
him,' Rom. viii. 17. 

Upon what ground is this certainty built, that if we suffer we shall be 
glorified ? 

It is built upon our union with Christ. It is built upon the communion 
we have with the church of God. We are all of one body. And it is 
built upon his own experience. As verily as I have been afflicted, and 
have comfort, so shall you that sufi'er be comforted : what I feel, you 
shall feel. 

Because in things necessary there is the like reason from one to all ; if 
one be justified by faith, all are justified by fixith ; if one sufi'er and receive 
comfort, all that sufier shall receive comfort. Divine comforts are from 
one to all, from the head to the body, from the body to every member. If 
Christ sufiered, I shall siifter, if I be of his body ; if Christ was comforted, 
I shall be comforted. Divine truths they agree in the head and the mem- 
bers. If it be true in one, it is true in all. St Paul felt it in his own per- 
son ; and, saith he, as I have felt afflictions increase, and comforts increase, 
so it shall be with you ; you shall be partakers of the comforts now, or 
hereafter. And it is built likewise upon God's promise, which is surer 
than heaven and earth. ' If we sufier with him, we shall be glorified with 
him,' as the apostle saith, Rom. viii. 17. All these are grounds to found 
this stedfast hope on. And then the nature of God : he is a just God, a 
holy God, and when we have taken the ill, we shall find the sweet, as in 

*' That is, ' proportion.* This is a superior example of the use of the word to 
that priven by Richardson, sub voce from Fuller — G. 

VOL. III. H 



114 COMMENTARY ON 

2 Thess. i. 6. * It is just with God, to render to them that afflict you 
trouble, and to you comfort.' God hath pawned his justice upon it, and 
he will observe this order. Where he begins in trouble, he will end in 
comfort. It is just with God, and therefore I may be persuaded. 

It should be a special comfort to all that are in any sanctified cross, whe- 
ther it be for a good cause or no. If a man find that he stands out for a 
good cause, then there is more matter of joy. It is matter of triumph then. 
But if they be crosses common to nature, if a man find them sanctified, (as 
they are only to God's children, they learn humility by them, they learn 
heavenly-mindedness, they learn patience, they learn more carefulness by 
their afflictions, if it be thus sanctified), then a man may say to such a one, 
' As you partake of the sufferings, so you shall partake of the comfort,' 
though you feel it not for the present. 

Is it not a comfort for a patient to have his physician come to him, 
whom he knows to be wise, and speaks by his book, to say to him, Be of 
good comfort, you shall never die of this disease ; this that I give you will 
do you good : there was never any that took this potion but they recovered. 
Would not this revive the patient ? Now when the physicians of our souls 
shall come and tell a man, by discerning his state to be good, by discern- 
ing signs of grace in his abasement. Be of good comfort, there is good 
intended to you ; your sufferings shall end in comfort, undoubtedly ; 
we may well be persuaded of this, God will never vary his order. 
Therefore, when we are in any trouble, and find God blessing it to us, to 
abate our pride, to sharpen our desire, to exercise our graces, when we find 
it sanctified, let it comfort us, it shall turn to our further comfort. We find 
a present good that it is a pledge of a further good. It will make a bitter 
potion to go down, when the physician saith, it will do you good. How 
many distasteful things do poor creatures endure and take down to cure 
this carcase ! It were offensive to name what distasteful things they will 
take to do them good (/•*). 

Let us take this cup fi'om God's hand, let us endure the cross patiently, 
whatsoever it be. It is a bitter cup, but it is out of a Father's hand, it is 
out of a sweet hand. There may be a miscarrying in other physic, but 
God's physic shall certainly do us good. God hath said it, ' All things 
shall work for the best to those that love him,' Rom. viii. 28. He hath 
said it beforehand. We may presume, and build our persuasion upon this 
issue, that all things shall work for our good. "What a comfort is this in all 
the intercourses and changes of this life, when we know before, that what- 
soever we meet with, it hath a command from God to do us good, it is me- 
dicinable, though it seem never so ill, to do us good, to work ill out of us, 
by the blessing of God. But to proceed. 



YEESES 8, 9. 

* For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which 
came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, 
insomuch that we despaired even of life : But we had the sentence of death in 
ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.' 

Here St Paul comes to the particular explication of what he had gene- 
rally spoken before. He had generally said before, that he had both com- 
fort and affliction ; but now he specifies what afflictions they were. ' I would 
not have you ignorant of the troubles which came to us in Asia,' &c. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YER. 8. 115 

'I woidd not have you ignorant of!' He knew it was behoveful for 
them to know : therefore, to insmuate into their respect the more, he tells 
them of it. Indeed, to know both together is very sweet and comfortable, 
to know both the afflictions of God's people and their comforts, as here, he 
tells them what ill he endured in Asia, and how God delivered him : to see 
how these are linked together ia God's people, is very comfortable. There- 
fore ' I would not have you ignorant.' 

Now, that they might not be ignorant, he sets before their eyes the par- 
ticular grievance that he suffered in Asia. And see how he doth raise him- 
self by degrees, and represent it to them most lively. 

First of all, saith he, ' We were pressed out of measure.' There is one 
degi'ee, ' we were pressed.' It is a metaphor. ' We were pressed,' as a cart is 
pressed under sheaves, as a man is pressed under a burden ; as a ship that 
is over laden is pressed deep down with too much burden. So it was 
with us, we were pressed with afflictions. Afflictions are of a depressing 
nature, they draw down the soul as comfort raiseth it up. 

' Out of measure.' There is the second degi'ee ; they were not only 
pressed, but pressed ' out of measure.' 

' Above strength.' Above my strength, above ordinary strength. And 
he riseth higher still. The waters rise higher, ' insomuch that we despaired 
of life.' We despaired of any escaping out of trouble at the present en- 
counter, nay, we did not see how we should escape for the time to come. 

Nay, it was so great, in the first place, that we passed ' the sentence of 
death upon ourselves.' It is a speech taken from malefactors that are 
condemned ; for even as they, having the sentence pronounced upon them, 
we account them dead men, they esteem themselves so, and so do others 
esteem them, the sentence being passed upon them ; so I even passed the 
sentence on myself, seeing no evasion or escape out of the troubles I was 
in, the sentence of death passed upon me. ' We had the sentence of death 
in ourselves.' It was not passed by God, nor by the world ; for they had 
not decreed to kill him, but he passed it upon himself when he saw no way 
to escape. He was deceived, though, as ofttimes God's children are, for 
he died not at that time. 

And then afterwards he sets down the end why all this was, a sweet end, 
a double end, * That we should not trust in ourselves.' What should we 
trust in then ? * But in God that raiseth the dead.' 

Fu-st to speak of his grievance, and then of the reason why God did thus 
follow him. 

' We would not have you ignorant.' He prevents all scandal by this. * I 
would not have you ignorant.' I am so far from caring, or fearing, or be- 
ing ashamed, that you should know of my affliction that I suffer, that ' I 
would not have you ignorant of it.' For know this, that when j^ou know 
my afflictions you shall know my deliverance also. St Paul was wondrous 
scnipulous at this, lest they should take any offence at his sufferings. In- 
deed it is the state of God's children ; their worst cross. Sometimes are 
censures upon them for the cross, the harsh censures of others in their 
troubles. It was the last, and the greatest of Job's troubles, that, and his 
wife together. When his house was overthrown, his children killed, his 
goods taken away, himself stricken with boils, then for his indiscreet friends 
to become ' miserable comforters,' those that should have comforted him, 
to become censurers and judges of him, as if he had been a man deserted 
and forsaken of God, as if all had been from God as a punishment for his 



116 



COMIIENTAT.Y ON 



sins, this was his greatest cross, as it was his last, when his wife in his 
bosom, she that should have comforted him most, should sohcit him to ill, 
and his friends by their rash and vile censures to make his cross heavier. 
So it is with God's childi-en in the world. They cannot endure hardness 
in the world, they cannot be used othei-wise than their cause deserves. 
But they must also undergo hard censures ; that grieves them more than 
the cross itself. It was the case of this blessed apostle. The Spirit of 
God in him therefore sets him to mention his affliction with boldness and 
confidence, yea, with comfort and joy. ' I would not have you ignorant, ' I am 
not of the mmd of carnal men, that would* have it concealed, nay, I would 
not have you ignorant, I pray understand it. He lays it open to their 
view, that they might be affected with it, as he was ; for those things that 
we are affected with, we are large in the discourse of them. He shews that 
the misery, though it were past, and were off, yet he was affected with it. 
' We were pressed out of measure above strength.' 

Obj. This seems to thwart another place of Scripture in 1 Cor. x. 13, 
' God is faithful, and will lay no more upon you than you shall be able to 
bear ; ' and yet here he saith, ' we were afflicted above strength.' How can 
these hang together ? 

I answer, God will not suffer his children to endui'e anything above 
strength, above that they are able to bear, especially in spiritual evils, but 
for sickness and persecution or such, sometimes he may lay more upon them 
than they have present strength to bear. 

But, put the case that St Paul speaks of, inward grievance, and outward 
afflictions too, as both usually accompany one another. St Paul's meaning 
is here undoubtedl}^ ' We were pressed above strength,' that is, above 
ordinary natural strength, that unless God had made a supply by a new 
supernatural strength, we had never been able to endure it. Therefore 
take it so, above ordinary natural strength ; for extraordinary crosses must 
have extraordinary strength, and crosses with grievance of spirit must have 
more than natural strength to bear them. 

Obj. Again, where it is said, ' Insomuch that we despaired of life,' as if 
he had cared much for his life, — this seemeth to cross another place, Phil, 
i. 23, 'I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ;' and here he seems 
to be very careful, in a strait, lest he should die. 

Ans. I answer, we must take St Paul in diverse considerations and re- 
spects. As St Paul hath finished his course, and done his work, so 'Hence- 
forth is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,' 2 Tim. iv. 8; so he 
thinks of nothing but life and glory ; he cares not for his life. But take St 
Paul in the midst of his course, and so he had a care to his charge. Take 
St Paul as he looked to gloiy, so he desired to be dissolved ; take him as 
he was affected to edify the church, so he laboured to live by all means, 
and so he saith he despaired of life, as desiringto live to do good to the church. 

Obj. Again, it may be objected against the last, ' We received the sen- 
tence of death in ourselves.' St Paul died not now, and he had the Spirit 
of God in him, to know what he spake ; how doth this agree then that he 
had the sentence of death passed ? 

Ans. I answer, St Paul spake according to the probability of second 
causes, according to the appearance of things ; and so he might pronounce 
of himself without danger, as being no sinful error, that indeed I am a dead 
man, I see no hope of escaping. If I look to the probability of second 
causes, all my enemies are about me, I am in the lion's mouth, there is but 
* ' Not ' inserted here by a self-correcting misprint.— G. 



2 CORIKXHIANS CHAP. I, \ER. 8. 117 

a step between me and death. He doth not look here to the decree of God, 
but he looks to the disposing of present causes. So God's children are 
often deceived in themselves in that respect. It is no great error ; for it is 
true what they speak in regard of second causes, though it be not true in 
regard of God's decree. 

The objections being satisfied, we may observe some points of doctrine- 

And out of the first part of St Paul's trial, which some take it to be that in 
Acts xix., [when] at Ephesus, Demetrius the smith raised up a trouble against 
him, when they cried out, ' Great is Diana of the Ephesians.' But those 
are but conjectures. It may be it was some great sickness ; it may be some 
other affliction. The Scripture is silent in the particular what it was. To 
come then to the points themselves. In the first part, this is considerable 
in the first place, that 

God suffers his children to fall into extreme perils and dangers. 

And then secondly, that they are sensible of it. 

For the first, 

God suffers his children to fall into great extremities. This is clear here, 
we see how he riseth by degrees. ' We were pressed above measm-e, above 
strength, that we even despaired of life, we received the sentence of death 
in ourselves.' He riseth by five steps, to shew the extremity that he was 
in. This is no new thing, that God should suffer his children thus to be 
exercised. 

It is true in the head, it is true in the body, and it is true of every par- 
ticular member of the body. 

It is true of our head, Christ Jesus himself. "We see to what exigencies 
he was brought, in what danger of his life ofttimes he was, as when they 
would have cast him down from the mount, Lnke iv. 29, and when, in ap- 
prehension of his Father's wrath, he sweat ' water and blood ' in the garden, 
Luke xxii. 44 ; and on the cross cried out, ' My God, my God, why hast 
thou forsaken me ?' Mark xv. 34. None was ever so abased as he was. 
He ' humbled himself to the death of the cross,' Philip, ii. 8, nay, lower 
than the cross ; he was in captivity in the grave three days. They thought 
they had had their will on him there, they thought they might have trampled 
on Christ ; and no doubt but the devil triumphed over the grave, and 
thought he had had him where he would. But we see afterward God 
raised him again gloriously. 

Now, as the head was abased, even unto extremity ; so it is true of the whole 
body of the church from the beginning of the world. The church in Egypt was 
in extremity before Moses came ; therefore, a learned Hebrician Capne (s), 
that brought Hebrew into these western parts, was wont to say. When the 
tale of brick was doubled, then comes Moses, that is, in extremity. When 
there was no remedy, then God sent them deliverance. In what a pitiful 
case was the poor church and people of God in Esther's time. There was 
but a hair's-breadth between them and destruction. It was decreed by 
Haman, and they had gotten the king's decree too. They were, as it were, 
between the hammer and the anvil, ready to be crushed in pieces presently, 
had not God come between. And so in Babylon the church was in ex- 
tremity, insomuch as that when deliverance was told them, ' they were as 
men that dream,' Ps. cxxvi. 1, as if there had been no such matter; they 
wondered at it. And so in the times of persecution, God hath suffered his 
church to fall into extreme danger, as now at this time the church is in 
other parts. I might draw this truth along through all ages. It is true of 
the whole body of the church. It is true likewise of the particular mem- 



118 COMMENTARY ON 

bers. Take the principal members of it. You see Abraham, before God 
made good bis promise, be was brought to a dry body, and Sarah to a dead 
womb, that they despaired of all second causes. And David, though God 
promised him a kingdom, yet he was so straitened that he thought many 
times he should have died. * I said in my haste. All men are liars,' Ps. 
cxvi. 11. They tell me this and that, but there is nothing so. He was 
hunted as a ' partridge in the wilderness,' 1 Sam. xxvi. 20. 

It was time of St Paul. We see what extremity he was brought unto, as 
the psalmist saith, Ps. cxviii. 18, ' I was afflicted sore, but I was not de- 
livered to death,' even as we say, only not killed. It is and hath been so 
with all the members of the church from Abel to this day. Sometime or 
other, if they live any long time, they shall be like Moses at the Red Sea. We 
see in what a strait he and his company was there. There was the Egyp- 
tians behind them, the mountains on each side of them, the Red Sea before 
them. What escaping was here for Moses ? So it is with the poor church 
and children of God ofttimes. There are dangers behind them, and perils 
before them, and troubles on all sides. God brings them so low as death's door, 
sometimes by sickness, as there is an instance in Ps. cvii. 18, of those that go 
down to the sea in ships. ' He brings them to death's door,' saith the psalmist. 

What is the reason that, by persecution and afflictions, by one grievance 
or another, God brings his children to such a lo-\7 ebb ? 

The reasons are many. 

Beason 1. The first may be, he icill thus try ivhat mettle thetj are made of. 
Light afflictions, light crosses, will not try them thoroughly ; great ones 
will. Jonah, that slept in the ship, he falls a-praying in the whale's belly. 
He that was pettish out of trouble, and falls a-quarrelling with God him- 
self in trouble, he falls to praying when he was in the bottom of hell, as he 
saith himself. Little afflictions may stand with murmuring and repining, 
but great ones try indeed what we are. What we are in great afflictions, 
we are indeed. 

Reason 2. Again, to try the sincerity of our estate, to make us to know 
ourselves, to make us kno^vn to the world and known to ourselves, what 
good we have and what ill we have. A man knows not what a deal of 
looseness he hath in his heart, and what a deal of falseness, till we come to 
the cross and to extremity. Whereas before I thought I had had a great 
deal of patience, a great deal of faith, and a great deal of heavenly-minded- 
ness ; now I see I have not that store laid up as I thought I had. And 
sometime a man is deceived on the contrary. I thought I had had no goodness 
in me ; and yet in extremity such a one goes to prayer, he goes to the word 
of God, to the communion of saints, he delights in good things, and only in 
those. Extremity makes him discern and know himself for ill and for good, 
and makes others to Imow him too. That is another end. 

Beason 3. Again, God suffers us to fall into extremity, to set an edye trpon 
our desires and our prayers, to make us cry to him. ' Out of the deep I have 
cried unto thee, Lord,' Ps. cxxx. 1. When a man is in the deep, it is 
not an ordinary prayer will serve, but he must cry. God loves to hear his 
children speak to him. He loves the voice of his children. It is the best 
music that he delights in. Therefore, he will take a course that he will be 
sure to hear from them ; and rather than they shall neglect prayer, he will 
sufier them to fall into some rousing sin, into such a state and condition, 
that they may dart up prayers, that they may force prayers out of the 
anguish of spirit, that their prayers may be violent, that will take no 
denial, that they may be strivings with God, that they may wrestle with 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 8. 119 

God, as we see in Jacob and the woman of Canaan, that they may be im- 
portunate, and never leave him, nor take any denial. 

Reason 4. Again, God suifers his children to fall into this extreme peril 
and danger, not only to try them, what good they have in them, but when 
he hath tried it to exercise it, to exercise their faith and their 2}ati£nce. St 
Paul had a great deal of grace in him, and God would be sure to have a great 
deal of trial and exercise of it ; and therefore he suffered him to fall into ex- 
treme dangers, that so all the patience and all the faith he had might be set 
on work. And so it was in Job. God had fm:'nished his champion with a 
great measure of patience, and then he singles him out to the combat ; he 
brings him into the hsts to encounter with Satan, and to triumph over Satan 
and all-the evils he suffered whatsoever. 

Reason 5. Again, it is to perfect the ivork of mortification, to let patience 
have her perfect work, and faith and prayer to have their perfect work, to 
perfect all gi-aces, and so to perfect the work of mortification. For in ex- 
treme dangers he weans us perfectly from the world as much as may be ; 
nothing will do it if these will not. St Paul came to many cities, and there 
he thought ofttimes to have great matter of entertainment ; and instead of that, 
he was whipped and misused. God vised the matter so to mortify pride 
and self-confidence in St Paul. He scoured him so from pride, that he 
should not go out of the city but he should be well scoured first by misusage. 
So, rather than God will suffer his children to go to hell, and rather than 
he will suffer them to Uve in the world here without glory to their profes- 
sion, without manifesting of grace, to mortify and subdue their base, earthly 
affections, he will scour them, to subdue their pride and to subdue their 
earthly-mindeduess. We might prevent the bitterness of the cross if we 
would. We might prevent his mortifying of us by afflictions, by the morti- 
fication of the spirit ; but because we are negligent in that work, to perfect 
the work of mortification he is forced to lay here many crosses and ex- 
treme dangers upon us. 

Reason 6. Lastly, God doth this for another end, that he might he sxire 
by this means to prepare us for greater blessings ; for in what deep measm'e 
we are humbled by any deep affliction, in that measure we are prepared for 
some blessing. Humility doth empty the soul, and crosses do breed 
humihty. The emptiness of the soul fits it for receipt. God therefore doth 
empty us by crosses, that we may be fit vessels to receive some larger mea- 
sure of grace and comfort. For, as it is said before, ' As our tribulations 
increase, so our comforts increase.' Therefore, it is a good sign that God 
intends much spiritual good to any man, when he lays some heavy load upon 
him in this world. All is to prepare for some greater comfort and some 
greater measure of grace. 

Why doth the husbandman fall upon his ground, and tear and rend it up 
with the plough, and the better the ground is, the more he labours to kill 
weeds ? Is it because he hath an ill mind to the ground ? No. He means 
to sow good seed there, and he will not plough a whit longer than may 
serve to prepare the ground. It is the Holy Ghost's comparison, Isa. 
xxviii. 24. So likewise the goldsmith, the best metal that he hath, he 
tempers it, he labours to consume the dross of it, and the longer it is in 
the fire, the more pure it comes forth. So God keeps his children under 
crosses, and doth plough them. They neglect to plough themselves, and 
he is fain to set ploughers that will do it indeed, — some ill-minded men, or 
some cross. If they would plough themselves and examine themselves, 
they might spare God the labour. But when they are negligent, God 



120 COMMENTARY ON 

takes tlie labour into his own hand, and sets others on work that will do 
it to purpose. But all is to prepare them for heavenly seed, for grace and 
comfort, that in what measure we have been depressed, as he saith here, 
* we were pressed above measure,' in that measure he means to lift us up 
by heavenly comfort. 

And, which is a clause of that, that ire might set a price upon the comforts 
vhen they come ; for when he hath so prepared us for it, and then we re- 
ceive it, then comfort is comfort indeed. Comfort in itself is all one, and 
gloiy in itself is all one, first and last ; but it is not all one to the person. 
Comfort is endeared to a person that hath been kept under and been dieted 
before. Then when it comes he sets a great value upon it, when he hath 
been without it so long. 

Our nature is so, that we value things by the want of them rather 
than by the present enjoying of them. After we have wanted it, and have 
been long time prepared for it, then when it comes it is welcome indeed. 
For these and many such like ends we must be willing to approve of God's 
holy and wise dispensation in this, in ordering matters so with his chil- 
dren, in bringing them to great dangers of body, in danger of life, some- 
times to spiritual desertions, leaving them to themselves, as if he had no 
care of them. But St Paul speaks especially here of outward crosses. You 
see the reasons of it. 

Use 1. The use of it, is first, that ice should not pass a harsh, unadvised, 
rif/id censure upon ourselres, or others, for these respects, for any great afflic- 
tion or abasement in this world. The world is ready to pass their verdict 
presently upon a man. Oh, >such a one, you see what a kind of man he 
was, you see how God follows him with crosses. So uncharitable men 
judge amiss of ' the generation of the righteous.' Whereas they should set 
the court in their own hearts, and begin to censure there, and to examine 
themselves, they go out and keep their court abroad. But I say, pass 
not a harsh censure upon others, or on thyself, no, not for extreme dan- 
gers. For God now is making way for great comfort. Let God go on his 
way, without thy censuring of him. 

Use 2. Again, this should teach us, that ice should not bnild ovennuch con- 
fidence on earthly thinfjs, on the things of this world, neither on health of 
body, or on friends, or on continuance of life. Alas ! it is God's ordinary 
course, to strip us of all in this world. We think of great reputation ; but, 
saith God, I will take that from you ; you shall learn to trust in me. You 
think you have strong and vigorous bodies, and you shall live long, and 
therefore you will venture upon such and such courses. Aye, but God suf- 
fers his children to come to extreme dangers and hazards, that they think 
the sentence of death is passed upon them. 

And since this is God's course with the body, and with the members, and 
■with our head Christ himself, shall we think to have immunity, and to 
escape, and not look to God's order ? 

The church is in great misery, and we are negligent in prayer ; we think 
there are many good people, and there is strong munition, &c., as if when 
God's people are in security, and forget him and his blessings, it were not 
his course to strip them of all, to suffer them to fall into extreme dangers. 
Have we not the church before our eyes to teach us ? Let us trust, there- 
fore, in nothing in this world. 

So much for that point. 

The second thing in the first part is this, that 

I)oct. As God's children are brought to this estate, so they are sensible of it. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 8. 121 

They are flesh and not steel, ' they have not the strength of steel,' as 
Job saith, Job vi. 12. They are men, they are not stones. They are 
Christians, they are not Stoics. Therefore St Paul, as he was in extremity, 
so he apprehended his extremity ; and with all his heart he wonld have 
escaped if he could. He looked about to all evasions how he might escape 
death. God's children are sensible of their crosses ; especially they are 
sensible of death, as he speaks here of himself, ' "We despaired even 
of life itself.' The word is very significant in the original. We were in 
such a strait that we knew not how to escape with life, so that ' we despaired 
of life' (t). We would have escaped with our Uves, but we saw no way 
to escape. To make this clear, there are three things in God's children. 

There is grace, nature, corrupt nature, nature with the tang* of cor- 
ruption. 

Grace, that looks upward, to glory and comfort. Nature looks to the 
present grievance, nature looks not to things to come, to matters revealed 
in the word, to supernatural comforts : nature looks to the present cross, 
even nature without sin. Conaipt natui'e feels, and feels with a secret 
murmuring and repining, and heaviness and dulness ; as indeed corrupt 
nature will alway have a boutf in crosses ; it will alway play its part, first 
or last. There are alway these three works in the children of God, in all 
extremities. Grace works, and that carries up, up still. * Trast in God.' 
It looks to heaven, it looks to the end and issue, that all is for good. 
Nature it fills full of sense and pain, and makes a man desu-e remedy and 
ease. Corrupt nature stirs a man up to fret, and say, what doth God 
mean to do thus ? It stirs a man ofttimes to use ill means, indirect 
courses. 

St Paul was sensible, from a right principle of nature ; and, no doubt, 
here was some tang* of corruption with it. He was sensible of the fear of 
death. Adam in innocency would have been affected, and exquisitely sen- 
sible, no doubt, if his body had been wronged ; for the more pure the com- 
plexion, | the more sensible of solution. As physicians say, when that which 
should be knit together, if anything be loosed by sickness, or by wounds, 
that should by nature not be hurt, but continue together, it breeds exqui- 
site pain, as to cut that which should not be cut, to disjoin that which 
should be together. This is in nature. 

The schoolmen say (;/), and the reason is good, that Christ's pains were the 
greatest pains, because his senses were not dulled and stupified with sen- 
suality, or indirect courses. He had a body of an excellent temper, and he 
was in the perfection of his j^ears when he died. Therefore he received such 
an impi'ession of gi'ief in his whipping, and when he was crowned with 
thorns. That was it that made him so sensible of grief, that when he 
sweat, he sweat drops of blood, and upon the cross it made him cry out, 
' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' Mark xv. 34. 

God's children, out of a principle of nature, are sensible of any grievance 
to this outward man of theirs, to the body, especially in death, as we see 
here St Paul. And there is most patience where there is most sense. It 
is stupidity and blockishness else. 

Queat. Why are God's children so sensible in grief, especially in death? 

Ans. Oh, there is a great cause. Indeed, in some regards, they are not 
afraid of it ; for death is an enemy to nature, it is none to gi'ace. But 
when I speak not of grace and glory, but of nature, 

* That is, = 'taint,' or 'touch." — G-. t That is, 'turn, 'part.'— G. 

X That is, =^^ ' conjunction,' or ' union.' — G. 



122 COMMENTARY ON 

Reason 1. Hath not nature great cause to tremble at death, ichen it is an 
enemij to nature, even to right nature ? It is the king of fears, as Job saith, 
Job xviii. 14. It is that tyrant that makes all the kings of the earth to 
tremble at him. When death comes, it is terrible. Why ? because it 
strips us of all the contentments of this life, of all comforts whatsoever we 
have here. Nature without sin is sensible of earthly comforts that God 
hath appointed for nature ; and when nature sees an end of them, nature 
begins to give in, and to gi'ieve. 

limson 2. Again, deatli parts the best friends we have in this world, the 
tody and the soul, two old friends ; and they cannot be parted without exqui- 
site grief. If two fifiends that take contentment in each other, common 
friends, cannot part without grief, how shall these bosom friends, these 
united friends, body and soul, part without grief ? This marriage between 
the soul and the body cannot be disunited without exquisite pain, being old 
acquaintance. 

Reason 3. Again, nature abhors death, [because] it hinders ns of all em- 
ployment. It hinders of all service of God in church and commonwealth. 
And so grace, which is beyond nature, doth a little desire the continuance 
of life. 

But nature, even out of no sinful principle, it sees that now I can serve 
God no longer, I can do God no more service, I can do good no longer 
in this world. And therefore it takes it to heart. Our Sa-vaour saith, 
' While 3"0U have light, walk : the night cometh, when no man is able to 
work,' John ix. 4, the night of sickness and death. So it breeds discom- 
fort, and is terrible that way. 

Reason A. Again, in death ^ve leave those that cast their care upon us, we 
leave ofttimes wives and children, wdthout husband or father ; those that 
had dependence upon us. And this must needs work upon nature, upon 
a right principle of nature. Indeed the excess of it is with corruption 
alway. 

Reason 5. Again, in death, there is great pain. They say, births are with 
great pangs, and so they are. Now death is a birth, the birth of immor- 
tality. No wonder then if it have great pangs. Therefore nature fears it 
even for the pangs, the concomitants that are joined with it. 

Reason 6. And then in death, nature considers the state of the body pre- 
sently after death, that that goodly body, that strength and vigour I 
enjoyed before, must now be worms'-meat. I must say ' to the worm. 
Thou art my brother, and to corruption. Thou art my mother,' and the like, 
as it is in Job, Job xvii. 14. That head, that perhaps hath ruled the com- 
monwealth, the place where I lived, it must lie level with others ; and that 
body that others were enamoured with, it must now be so forlorn, that the 
sight of it will not be endm-ed of our best friends. Natm*e considers what 
the estate will be there, that it shall turn to rottenness ere long ; that the 
goodliest persons shall be turned to dust, and lie rotting there till the day 
of the resurrection. 

Faith and grace looks higher ; but because we have nature as long as 
we are men, these and such like respects work upon nature, and make death 
grievous. 

Reason 7. But besides the glass of nature, and these things here in the 
world, look upon it i)t the law of God, in that glass ; and so natui'e trembles, 
and quarrels at death. Death! what is it ? It is the ' wages of sin,' Rom. 
vi. 23, it is the end of all comfort ; and nature cannot see any comfort after 
that. It is beyond nature. Nature teacheth us not that there will be a 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 8. 123 

resurrection of the body, nature teacheth us not that the soul goes to God. 
Here must be a great deal of grace, and a great deal of faith, to convince 
the soul of this. Nature teacheth it not. 

Now, when besides this, the law of God comes and saith, death came in 
by sin, ' and sin is the sting of death,' 1 Cor. xv, 56, death is armed with 
sin, and sin comes in with the evidences of God's anger. Here, unless 
there be faith and grace, a man is either as Nabal, a stone and a sot in 
death, or as Judas and Cain, swallowed up with despair. It is impossible 
for a man that is not a true Christian, that is not a good man, but that 
either he should be as a stone, or desperate in sickness and death, without 
grace. He must be one of them. If he be a wise man, he cannot but 
despair in the hour of death. For is it a matter to be dallied with, or to 
be carried bravely out, as your Roman spirits and atheists think ? They 
account it a glory to die bravely, in a stout manner. Is the terrible of 
terribles so to be put off? When all the comforts in this world shall end, 
and aU emplojinents cease, when there is eternity before a man ; and, after 
death, hell, and eternal damnation of body and soul, are these matters 
to be slighted ? It would make a man look about him. If a man have 
not faith and grace, he must either despair or die Uke a stone. None but 
a good Christian can carry himself well in the hour of death. Nay, a good 
Christian is sensible of death ; and tiU he see God's time is come, he labours 
to avoid it by all means, as St Paul doth here. 

Reason 8. But St Paul had another ground beyond nature to avoid death. 
He knew himself ordained for the service of the church; therefore he desired 
to escape, that he might serve God a longer time for the good of his church. 

Use 1. Are God's children sensible of death, and the danger of it, and 
out of a principle of nature and grace too ? Hoiv then should carnal, 
wretched men look about them, that have not made their accounts even with 
God ? The repoi-t of death to them should be like the handwriting upon 
the wall to Belshazzar, Dan. v. 24. It should make theii' knees beat 
together, and make their countenance pale. It should strike them with 
terror ; and, like Nabal, make their hearts to die as a stone within them. 

Use 2. But it is a use ot comfort to poor, deluded Christians. They 
think, alas ! can my estate be good ? I am afraid of death, I tremble and 
quake at the name of death, I cannot endure to hear of it, but it most of 
all affects me to see it. Therefore I fear I have no grace in me, I fear I 
have no faith in me. 

Be not discomforted, whosoever thou art, that sayest so, if thou labour 
to strengthen thy faith, and to keep a good conscience ; for thou mayest do 
thus out of a principle of nature. Natm'e trembles at death. 

A man may do two things from diverse principle, from diverse repects, 
and both without sin. For example, in festing, nature without sin desireth 
meat, or else fasting were not an afflicting of a man's body ; but grace, that 
hath another principle, and that desires to hold out without sustenance, to 
be afflicted. So here is both a desire, and not a desire, and both good in 
their kind. So a man in the time of sickness and death, he may by all 
means desire to escape it, and tremble at it out of a principle of nature ; 
but out of a higher principle he may triumph. ' death, where is thy 
sting? grave, where is thy victory?' 1 Cor. xv. 55; and 'they that 
beheve in Christ shall never die,' John xi. 26. * We are in heavenly places 
together with Christ,' Eph. i. 3. We are as sure of heaven as if we were 
there. So out of such kind of principles we may triumph over death, by 
faith and grace. 



121 



COMMENIARY ON 



So let none be discouraged. Nature goes one way, and faith and grace 
another. A man may know when it is nature, and when it is grace. When 
grace subdues nature, and subordinates it to a higher principle, a man need 
not be much troubled. 

Christ himseli' our head, he was afraid of death when he looked on death 
as death ; but when he looked upon death as a service, as a redemption, 
as a sweet sacrifice to God, so ' with a thirsting I have thirsted,' saith he, 
Luke xxii. 15. He thirsted after death in that respect. Looking to his 
human nature, to the truth of his manhood, then saith he, ' that this 
cup might pass from me,' Mat. xxvi. 39 ; but in another consideration, he 
willingly gave his soul a sacrifice for sin to God. 

The desire is as the objects are presented. Let heaven and happiness 
be presented, so death is a passage to it, so death is the end of misery, 
and the beginning of happiness, so God's childi'en ' desire to be dissolved, 
and to be with Christ,' as St Paul did, Phihp. i. 23. But look upon death 
otherwise, as it is an enemy to nature, as it is a stop of all employment in 
this world, and of all service to the church, that we can do God no longer 
service ; and so a man may desire to live still, and be afraid of death, if he 
look upon death in the glass of nature, and in the glass of the law, likewise 
that it comes in as a punishment of sin, so indeed it is temble, it is the 
king of fears. But look upon it in another glass, in the glass of the 
gospel, as it is sweetened and as it is disarmed by Christ, and so it is 
comfortable. ' Better is the day of death than the day of birth,' Eccles. 
\'ii. 1 ; for in our birth we corae into misery, in death we go from it. So 
upon diverse considerations we may be diversely affected, and have diverse 
respects to things ; for the soul of man is fi-amed so to be carried to the 
present objects, and therefore in a good man in some respects, at some 
time, death is terrible ; he trembles at it, which upon higher considerations 
and respects, he embraeeth willingly. 

Indeed, it is a sign of a wise man to value life. It is the opportunity 
and advantage to honour God. After death we are receivers, and not 
doers. Then we receive our wages. But while we are here, we should 
desire even for the glory that is reserved for us, to do all the good we can, 
because the time of life is that blessed advantage of doing good and of 
taking good. It is to be in heaven before our time to do others good, and 
to get evidence of heaven for ourselves. This is the second thing, that as 
God's children are suffered to fall into extreme dangers, so they are very 
sensible of them, especially in matter of death, which is the last enemy. 
There the devil sets upon them indeed. He knows that that is the last 
enemy, and that there he must get all or lose all ; and he labours to make 
death more terrible than it is or should be. 

The way not to fear death, and not to let nature have overmuch scope, 
is to disarm death beforehand, to pluck out the sting of it by repentance ; 
weaken it beforehand, that it may not get the better, even as we do with 
om- enemies. The way to overcome them is to weaken them, to weaken 
their forces, to starve them if we can, to intercept all their provision. 
What makes death terrible and strong ? We put stings into it, our sins, 
our sins against conscience. The time will come when conscience will 
awaken, and it will be then, if ever, to our comfort ; and then our former 
sins will stare in our faces, the sins of our youth, the sins that we have 
before neglected soundly to repent for. Therefore let us labour this way 
to make death less terrible. 

Again, that we may not fear it ovennuch, let us look upon it in the 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 8, 125 

glass of the gospel, as it is now in Christ, as it is turned clean another way. 
Now, it hath sweet names. It is called a dissolution, a departure, a sleep- 
ing, a going to our Father's, and such like. God doth sweeten a bitter 
thing, that it may enter into us with less terror. So it must be our wisdom 
to sweeten the meditation of it, by evangelical considei'ations, what it is now 
by Christ. 

And withal to meditate the two terms, from whence and whither. What 
a blessed change it is if we be in Christ ! It is a change for the better, 
better company, better employment, a better place, all better. Who would 
be grieved at, and afraid of, death ? Let us recall the promise of the pre- 
sence of God. He will be with us to death, and in death. ' Blessed are 
those that die in the Lord,' Rex. xiv. 13. And especially faith in Christ 
will make us, that we shall not fear death, when we shall see him our head 
in heaven before us, ready to receive us when we come there ; and to see 
ourselves in heaven, already in him ; as verily in faith and in the promise, 
as if we were there. * We are set in heavenly places ' with Christ already. 
Let us have these and such like considerations to sweeten the thought of 
death. 

But to touch this, which is an appendix to that formerly mentioned, that 

Obs. God's children are deceived concerning their death ofttimes. 

The time of death is uncertain. St Paul thought he should have died 
when he did not ; he was deceived. There is a double error about death. 
Sometimes we think we shall not die, when indeed we are dead men. 
Sometimes we receive the sentence of death, we pass a censure upon our- 
selves, that we cannot live, when God intends our escape. So it is uncer- 
tain to us the hour of death. Sometime we are uncertain when it is cer- 
tain ; sometime we think it certain when it falls not out so. Both ways 
we are deceived, because God will have us, while we live here, to be at an 
uncertainty for the very moment of death. ' Our times are in his hand.' 
Our time of hfe is in his hand. We came into the world when he thought 
good. Our time of living here is in his hands. We live just as long as he 
will have us. Our time of death is in his hand. The prophet saith not 
only, my time is in thy hands, but ' my times,' my time of coming into the 
world, my time of hving in the world, and my time of going out of the 
world shall be when thou shalt appoint me. Therefore he will have us 
uncertain of it ourselves, till the moment of death come. St Paul was de- 
ceived, ' He received the sentence of death in himself,' but he died not at 
that time. 

So that the manner and circumstances of death are uncertain, whether it 
shall be violent or fair death, [whether] it shall be by diseases or by 
casualties, whether at home or abroad. All the circumstances of death are 
hidden from us, as well as death itself and the time of it. 

And this is out of heavenly wisdom, and love of God to us, that we 
should at all times be provided, and prepared for our dissolution and change. 
It is left at this imcertainty, that we might make our estate certain, to be 
fitted to die at all times. Let us make that use of it to provide every day. 
Oh, it were a happy thing if we could make every day, as it were, another 
life, a several life ; and pass sentence upon ourselves, a possible and pro- 
bable sentence ; it may be this day may be the last day. And let us end 
eveiy day as we would end our lives. How would we end our Uves ? We 
would end them with repentance for our sins past, with commending our 
souls into the hands of God, with resolution and purpose to please God in 
all things, with disposing all things wisely in this world. Let us end our 



l:iQ COMMENTARY ON 

days, every daj so, as mucli as possible may be ; let us set everj'thing 
right ; let us set the state of our souls in order, set all in order as much as 
may be every day. It were a blessed course if we could do so. 

And this is one part, one main branch of our corruption, wherein it 
shews itself strongly, that we live in an estate that we are ashamed to die 
in. Come to some men, and ask them, how it is with you ? have you 
repented of your sins past ? have you renewed your purposes for the time 
to come ? Yes ; we do it solemnly at the communion. But we should re- 
new our repentance, and renew our covenants every day, to please God 
that day. Do you do so now? If God should seize upon you now, are 
you in the exercise of faith ? in the exercise of repentance ? in the exercise 
of holy purposes, to please God ? are you in God's ways ? do you live as 
you would be content to die ? But Satan and our own corruption be- 
witcheth us with a vain hope of long life, we promise ourselves that, that 
God doth not promise us ; we make that certain that God doth not make 
certain. Indeed we are certain of death, but for the time, and manner, 
and circumstances we know them not. Sometimes we think we shall die 
when we do not, and sometimes we die when we think we shall not. 

Oh, will some say, if I knew when I should die, I would be a prepared 
man, I would be exact in my preparation. Wouldst thou so ? thou art 
deceived. Saul knew exactly he should die. He took it for exact when 
the witch in the shape of Samuel told him that he should die by to-morrow this 
time, and yet he died desperately upon the sword's point for all that. He 
did not prepare himself. It must be the Spirit of God that must prepare 
us for this. If we knew never so much, that we should die never so soon, 
we cannot prepare ourselves. Our preparation must be by the Spirit of 
God. Let us labour continually to be prepared for it. 

And let no man resolve to take liberty a moment, a minute of an hour 
to sin. God hath left it uncertain the day of death. What if that moment 
and minute wherein thou resolvest to sin should be the moment of thy 
death and departure hence ? for it is but a minute's work to end th}^ days. 
"What if God should end thy days in that minute ? Let no man take 
liberty and time to sin, when God gives him no liberty in sin. If God 
should strike thee, thou goest to hell quick, thou must sink from sin to 
hell. It is a pitiful case, whenas eternity depends upon our watchfulness 
in this world. But to come to the end and issue, why he was thus dealt 
with by God, carrying him through these extremities. 

* That ire niiglit not trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead.' 
Here is the end specified that God intended, in suffering him to be brought 
so low, even to death's door, that there was but a step between him and 
death. The end is double, ' That we should not trust in ourselves, but in 
God that raiseth the dead.' It is set down negatively and positively. 
First, ' That we should not trust in ourselves,' and then that we should 
' trust in God.' And the method is excellent. For we can never trust in 
God till we distrust ourselves, till our hearts be taken off from all confi- 
dence in ourselves and in the creature ; and then when our hearts are taken 
off from false confidence, they must have somewhat to rely on, and that is 
God or nothing ; for else we shall fall into despair. The end of all this was, 
that ' we might not trust in ourselves, but in God that I'aiseth the dead.' 

The wisdom of heaven doth nothing without an end proportionable to 
that heavenly wisdom ; so all this sore aflliction of the blessed apostle, 
what aimed it at ? To pull down, and to build up ; to pull down self- 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 9. 127 

confidence, ' That we might not trust in ourselves ; ' and to build up con- 
fidence and affiance in God, ' but in God that raiseth the dead.' 

We being in a contrary state to grace and communion with God, this 
order is necessary, that God must use some way that we shall not trust in 
ourselves ; and then to bring us to trust in him. So these two are sub- 
ordinate ends one to another. ' We received the sentence of death, that we 
might not trust in ourselves.' 

From the dependence this may be observed, that 

Doct. The certain account of death, is a means to wean us from ourselves, 
and to make us trust in God. 

The sentence of death, the assured knowledge that we must die, the 
certain expectation and looking for death, is the way to wean us from the 
world, and to fit us for God, to prepare us for a better life. You see it 
follows of necessity, ' We received the sentence of death, that we should 
not trust in ourselves,' &c. 

The looking-for of death therefore, takes away confidence in ourselves and 
the creature. Alas ! in death, what can all the creatures help ? What 
can friends, or physic, or money help ? Then honour's, and pleasures, and 
all leave us then. 

This the rather to note a corrupt atheistical course in those that are to 
deal with sick folk, that are extreme sick, that conceal their estate from 
them, and feed them with false hopes of long life. They deserve ill of per- 
sons in extremity to put them in hope of recovery. Physicians that are 
not divines in some measure, what do they ? against their conscience, and 
against their experience, and against sense. Oh, I hope you shall do well, 
&c. Alas ! what do they ? they hurt their souls, they breed a false con- 
fidence. It is a dangerous thing to trust upon long life, when perhaps they 
are snatched suddenly away, before they have made their accounts even 
with God, before they have set their souls in that state they should do. 

Therefore the best way is to do as good Isaiah did with Hezekiah, ' set 
thy house in order, for thou must die,' 2 Kings xx. 1, that is, in the dis- 
position of second causes, thou shalt have a disease that will bring thee to 
death, and God had said so. God had a reservation, but it was more than 
Isaiah knew at that time. ' Set thy house in order, for thou must die.' 
So they should begin with God, to tell them, as we say, the worst first. 
It is a pitiful thing that death should be accounted the worst, but so it is, 
by reason of our fearfulness. Deal plainly with them, let them * receive 
the sentence of death,' that so they may be driven out of themselves and 
the creature altogether, and be driven to trust in ' God that raiseth the dead.' 
Put thy soul in order. You are no man of this world ; lest they betray 
their souls for a little self-respect perhaps, because they would not displease 
them. 

It may be in some cases discreet to yield, to make the means to work the 
better ; but where there is nothing but evident signs of death, they ought to 
deal directly with them, that they may receive the sentence of death. It 
wi'ought with St Paul this good eff'ect, ' I received the sentence of death, 
that we might not trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead.' 

It is God's just judgment upon hypocrites, and upon many carnal 
wretched persons, that are led with a false confidence all their life, that 
trust in the creature, trust in friends and riches, that will not trust in God, 
and will not be taught to number their days in their lifetime. It is just 
with God [toward those who], to their very death [are filled] with false con- 
fidence, wiien they come to death, to suffer them to perish in their false 



128 COMMEKTARY ON 

confidence, and so to sink into hell. It is just with God to suffei- them to 
have atheists about them, or weak persons that shall say, Oh, you shall 
do well enough, and then even out of a very desire to live, they are willing 
to believe all, and so they die without all show of change ; and as they 
live, so they die, and are wretched in both. The life of a wicked man 
is ill, his death worse, his estate after death worst of all ; and this is one 
way whereby God sufi'ers men to fall into the snare of the devil, when he 
suffers not those that are about them to deal faithfully. St Paul received 
the sentence of death, that it might force him not to trust in himself, but 
in God that raiseth the dead. 

The second thing that is observable hence out of this first part, which is 
the negative part, is this, that, 

Doct. GocVs children are prone to trust in themselves. 

The hearts even of God's dear children are prone in themselves, if they 
be left to their own bent and weight, to self-confidence, and will not hold 
up in faith and affiance in God further than they are lifted and kept up by 
a spirit of faith, which God puts into them. It was not in vain that God used 
this course with blessed St Paul. Here is an end set down, that he 'might 
not trust in himself.' What, was he in peril to trust in himself? Alas ! 
St Paul, though he were an holy excellent man, yet he was a man; and in 
the best man there is a double principle, a principle of nature, of corrupt 
nature, and a principle of grace ; and he works according to both principles. 
There is an inteimixture of both in all his actions, and in all his passions too, 
in his sufferings. Corruption shews itself in his best deeds, and his best 
sufferings, in eveiything. ' That we should not trust in ourselves,' that is, 
in anything in ourselves, or out of ourselves, in the creature ; it is all one. 
We see by the example of St Paul that the best are prone to trust in them- 
selves. All this hard usage of St Paul, that he received the sentence of 
death, it was that ' he should not trust in himself.' What, was there danger 
in St Paul to trust in himself ? a man that had been so exercised with 
crosses and afflictions as he had been, no man more, one would think that 
he had been scoured enough of pride, and self-confidence ! the whippings 
and misusings, the stocks, the dungeons, &c., would not all this work pride, 
and self-confidence out of the apostle '? No ! So deeply it is invested into 
our base nature, our trusting to present things, that we cannot live the life 
of faith, we cannot depend upon God, whom we cannot see but with other 
eyes than nature hath. It is so deeply rooted in our nature, that the blessed 
apostle himself must have this great help, to be taught to go out of himself, 
and to depend upon God. We see in what danger he was, in another place, 
to be lifted up with the revelations. He was fain to have a ' prick in the 
flesh, a messenger of Satan to bufiet him,' 2 Cor. xii. 7. 

Hezekiah, his heart was lifted up, as the Scripture speaks, in his treasures, 
that he shewed to the I^ng of Babylon's ambassadors, as if he were such a 
rich prince. And so holy David, in numbering the people, to shew what a 
mighty prince he was. It was his vain confidence. Therefore God put him 
to a strange cure. He punished him in that that he gloried in. He took 
away so many of his people. And so Hezekiah was punished in that he 
sinned in. He was fain to have a purge for it. His treasure was taken 
away and earned to Babylon. ' I said in my prosperity,' saith holy David, 
*I shall never be moved,' Ps. xxx. 6. The best are subject to false con- 
fidence to trust in themselves. 

One reason partly, because there is a mixture of corruption in us while 
we live here, and corruption looks to this false principle in us, that will 



2 coraxTHiANs chap. i. ver. 9. 129 

never be wrought out with all the afflictions in the world. Till death make 
an end of corruption, there will be a false trust in ourselves and in the 
creature. We cannot trust God perfectly as we should do. 

Beason 1. Again, the reason is, because the things of this life are useful 
and commodious unto us, and ive are nouzelled* up in the use of them, and 
when Satan doth amplify them in our fancy to be greater in goodness than 
they are ; and opinion sets a greater worth on them, if there were no devil. 
But he presenting these things in all the lustre he can, he helps the ima- 
gination, which he hath more to do with than with all the parts of the soul. 
And the soul looks in the glass of opinion upon these things, and thinks 
they are goodly, great matters, learning and wisdom, honour and riches. 
Looking upon them as they are amplified by the false fancy of others and 
the competition of the world wherein we live, every man is greedy and 
hasty of these things. All men have not faith for better things. There- 
fore, they are mad of these. So the competition of others and the en- 
larging our conceits upon them above their worth, these make us put greater 
confidence in them, and then we come to trust in ourselves and in them, 
and not in God. 

Reason 2. Naturally ice cannot see the nothingness of the creature, that as 
it came out of nothing, so it will turn to nothing. But because it is sen- 
sible, these good things are sensible, and present, and necessary, and use- 
ful ; and naturally we live by our senses. Therefore, we place our delight 
in them, that when they are taken away all the soul goes with them. As 
he that leans upon a crutch, or anything, when that is taken away, down 
he falls, so it is with a man by nature ; he trusts to these things, and when 
they go, his soul sinks together with the things. Even as it is with those 
that are in a stream, when they are in a running stream they are carried 
with the stream, so all these things go away, they are of a fleeting condition. 
We see them not in their passage. When they are gone, we see them past. 
We see not ourselves vanish by little and little out of this life. We see not 
the creatures present, we see not death, and other things beyond death, as 
we should by the eye of faith. So things pass, and we pass with them ; 
the stream and we run together. It must be a great measure of faith that 
must help this. We are prone to trust to sensible things naturally. We 
know what it is to live by sense ; but to live by faith it is a remote thing, 
to lead our lives by reasons drawn from things that are not seen, to live by 
promises, it is a hard thing, when things that are sensible cannot work 
upon us. When we see men die, and see the vanity of things sensible, it 
will not work upon us ; how then do we think that things that are super- 
natural, which are remotef far above sense, should work on us ? It is a 
hard thing not to trust to ourselves, we are so addicted to live by sense ; 
and there is some corruption in St Paul, in the best men, to trust to pre- 
sent things. 

Who doth not think but he shall live one day longer, and so trusts to 
life ? As the heathen man could say, ' There is not the oldest man but he 
thinks he may live a little longer, one day longer' (v). Who makes that 
use of mortality and the uncertain, fading condition of this life as he should ? 
And all because of a false trust ; as in other things, so in the continuance 
of life. We see we are prone to trust, to put base, false confidence in some- 
what or other while we live in this world. 

Reason 3. Again, our nature being prone to outivard things, and sunk deeply 
into them, it can hardly be recovered ; it cannot be sober without much ado 
* That is, 'nourished.' — G. t That is, 'removed.' — Ed. 

VOL. III. 1 



130 



COMMENTARY ON 



and brought from trusting of present things. You have some men that 
have things at will in this world. They never know what faith means. All 
their life they live by sense. Their conscience is not awaked, and outward 
afflictions seize not on them and supply of earthly things they have. What 
religion means, and what God and heaven means, they have heard of them 
perhaps, but throughly and inwardly what it means they never come to 
know in this world, without there be some alteration and changes. They 
must have some changes. ' The wicked have no changes,' saith the pro- 
phet, Ps. Iv. 19. But while they be as they are, they know not God, nor 
themselves, nor the vanity of earthly things. We speak the truth of God 
to a company ofttimes that are besotted with sensuality, and that have 
perpetual supply of earthly things. Speak to them of faith, and of things 
that are remote from sense, &c., they hear them as if they were in a dream. 
Nature is prone to trust in present things, even in the best, in St Paul him- 
self. 

Use 1. Now, our proneness to it doth justify God's dealings in many things, 
as (1.) Why doth God humhh great ones with great afflictioyis? Wliy doth he 
humble great men, great and excellent Christians, with great falls ? That 
they might not trust in themselves ; no, not in their own present graces. 
God will not bring a man to salvation now by grace in himself to give him 
title to heaven. His graces must only be to help his evidence that he is 
not an hypocrite, and to give evidence to others, that others ' may see 
his good works,' &c., Mat. v. 16. But if he come to trust in them once, to 
set them in Christ's stead, God will abase his pride by suffering him to fall, 
that he may go out of himself, to be saved by Christ, and to seek for mercy 
in Christ. 

(2.) And this is the reason why God in his providence doth great things 
by small means, ivithout means, and against means sometimes. When he 
crosses and curses great means, it is that we might not ' trust in ourselves.' 
We are prone to self-confidence ; and because God will cure it, for we must 
not carry it to heaven with us, therefore he is forced to take this kind of 
dispensation. 

Proud flesh will always devise something but that which it should do, to 
uphold itself withal. It will not be driven from all its holds ; God hath 
much ado to work it out from all its holds. If it have not wealth, it will 
have wit and policy ; or if it have not that, it will have civil life, and out- 
ward works to trust to, and to swell it with. But to come and give God 
the gloiy of salvation only by mercy, and to depend only on God, and to 
see an insufficiency in any thing we do, it can hardly be brought to pass. 
Insomuch that that article of justification by the obedience of Christ only, 
it is merely a spiritual thing, altogether transcending nature. 

No marvel if we find such opposition from the Church of Rome, and all, 
unless it be the true church ; they understand not the main article, of salva- 
tion only by mercy, because nature is so desperately prone to self-con- 
fidence. 

Use 2. Let us take heed of false confidence in the things of this life, of 
confidence in any thing but God. 

But to come to some trials. You will say, how shall we know whether 
we put over much confidence in them or no ? 

(1.) It is an easy matter to know it. We trust them too much when we 
grow proud upon any thing, when our spirits are lifted up. ' Charge rich 
men that they be not high-minded,' 1 Tim. vi. 17, insinuating that they 
are in danger to be high-minded. ' If riches increase, set not your hearts 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 131 

upon them,' saith the Psahnist, Ps. Ixii. 10. There is great danger when 
the heart is set on them, and lifted up, when men think themselves so 
much the better as they are greater. Indeed, if they weigh themselves in 
a civil balance it is so, but the corrupt natui-e of man goes further, and 
thinks a man intrinsically better, and more beloved of God for these things. 
It is a dangerous sign that we trust too much to them. 

(2.) Again, overmuch grief, if they he taken aicatj any of them, or if we be 
crossed in them. The gi'ief in wanting betrays the love in enjojdng. It is 
a sign that Job had gotten a gi-eat measui'e of self-denial, not to trust in 
himself or his riches, though he were a rich man, because when they were 
taken away, ' Blessed be God,' saith he, ' thou gavest them, and thou hast 
taken them away,' Job i. 21. He that can stand when his stay is taken 
from him, it is a sign he trusts not too much to his stay. He that is so 
weak that when his stay is taken away, down he falls, it is a sign he leans 
hard. Those that when these things are taken from them, when their 
friends are taken away, or their honours, or riches are taken away, yet they 
can support themselves out of diviner grounds, it is a sign they did not 
overmuch trust these things. Nature will work something, but overmuch 
grief betrays overmuch love always. 

Again, which is but a branch of the other, we may know that we over- 
much set by them, hy fretting to be crossed in any of these things. A 
man may know Ahithophel trusted too much to his policy and wit : when 
he was crossed he could not endm-e it. We see he made away himself for 
very shame, 2 Sam. xvii. 23. When a man is crossed in his wit and 
policy, when he is crossed in those projects he hath laid ; when he is 
crossed in his preferment, or riches, or friends, then he is all amort,* he 
frets, which is more than grieving ; when he not only gi-ieves, but with 
Ahithophel he goes to ill courses. It is a sign he trusted too much, and 
too basely to them before. 

(3.) Again, when the enjoying of these things is joined with contempt and 
base esteem of others, it is a sign that we rest too much in them. There 
is more trust put to them than they should bear. We should not, in the 
enjoying of honour, or riches, or pleasures, or any thing, think the meaner 
of others. 

(4.) Especially, seciirity shews that ice trust too much in them, when we 
bless om'selves, I shall do well. ' Soul, soul, thou hast goods laid up for many 
years,' Luke xii. 19, saith the fool, and he was but a fool for it, to promise 
certainty for uncertainty. A man cannot stand in that which cannot stand 
itself. To promise life in a dying condition, to promise any thing in this 
world, when the very natm'e of them is uncertain, ' Thou fool,' saith the 
Scripture. If his soul had been so full of faith as his barns were of corn, 
he would never have said, ' Soul, soul, take thy rest,' for these things ; 
but he would have trusted in God. It is a sign we ti'ust too much to these 
things, when we secure ourselves all will be well, and bless ourselves, as 
the Scriptm'e speaks. 

(5.) Again, it is a sign we trust too much to these things, whennpon con- 
fidence of these things ive go to ill and unwarrantable courses, and tJiink to be 
borne out by these things. As when the younger sort shall pour forth them- 
selves to vanity, and are careless of swearing and hcentiousness, that they 
care not what to do, they shall live long enough to repent, &c. This is 
a diabolical trust, that God will give them no security in. So when men 

* That is, 'spiritless,' ' ir animate.' This from Sibbes supplements excellently 
Eichardson, sub voce. — G. 



-sX 



132 COMMENTARY ON 

that have riches will venture on bad causes, and think to carry it out with 
their purse, they trust in matter of oppression, and think to bear out the 
matter with their friends, or with their place, or with their wits ; this is 
false trust. ' Thy wisdom hath caused thee to rebel,' as the prophet saith 
concerning Babylon, Isa. xlvii. 10. They thought they had reaching heads, 
and so ventured upon rebellious courses. When any of these outward 
things draw us to unwarrantable, unjustifiable courses, it is a sign we plant 
too much confidence in them : and it is a sign, if we belong to God, that he 
intends to cross us in them. The very confidence in these things hath 
drawn many to ill courses, to do that that they should not do, as good 
Josiah, Hezekiah, David, and the rest. 

Thus we see how we should examine ourselves, whether we trust too 
much in these things or no. 

Now, since we are thus prone to this false confidence, and since we may 
thus discern it ; if we discern it in ourselves, how shall we cure it ? That 
in the next doctrine : — That u-e mirjht not trust in ourselves. From whence 
observe, 

Doct. It is a danrjerous state to trust in ourselves. 

This ill disposition, to trust in ourselves, or anything out of ourselves, 
but only in God, in whom we should trust, it is dangerous. For a man 
may reason thus from the text : That which God is forced to take such des- 
perate courses for, as to bring such an excellent man as St Paul to such 
extremity, and all that he should not trust in himself, that he was not only 
prone to, but it was a dangerous estate for him. But God brings him to 
death's door, that he ' received the sentence of death, that he might not 
trust in himself,' that he might see the nothingness of all things else. 
Therefore it was a dangerous estate for him to trust in himself. 

It is ill in respect of I. God ; II. ourselves. 

I. In respect of God. To trust to ourselves, or the creature, is 

1. To idolize ourselves, or the creature. We make an idol of the thing we 
trust in. We put God out of his place, and set up that we trust in, in 
God's room ; and so provoke God to jealousy. When men shall trust 
their wits in matters of religion, as in popery they do (they serve God after 
their own inventions), what a dishonour is it to God? as if he were not wise 
enough to prescribe how he will be worshipped. ' Go after me, Satan,' 
saith Christ to Peter, Mat. xvi. 23. He calls him devil. Why ? what 
hurt was it ? He came with a good intention ? That which papists* think 
they please God most in, they are devils in ; and these things that they 
teach are ' the doctrines of devils,' 1 Tim. iv. 1. ' But the wisdom of the 
flesh is death ; it is not subject to the law of God, nor can be subject,' 
saith the apostle, Kom. viii. 7. So it is dangerous, because it is oflensive 
to God. ' There is a way that seemeth right in a man's own eyes : the 
issues whereof are the issues of death,' Prov. xiv. 12. It is idolatry in 
regard of God. 

2. And it is spiritual adultery. For what should take up our affections ? 
Should we not place our joy, our delight, which follows our trust alway ; 
for trust carries the whole soul with it : what should take up our joy and 
delight ? Should not God, and heaven, and heavenly things ? should not 
these things have place in our hearts, as they have in their own worth ? 
When we take these affections from God, and place them upon the creature, 
they are adulterous affections. Wlaen we love riches or pleasures better 
than God that gave us all, it is an adulterous, whorish love. ' Oh ye 

* Misprinted ' popery.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 133 

adulterers and adulteresses,' saith blessed St James, ' know ye not that the 
love of this world is enmity with God ? ' James iv. 4. 

3. It is likewise falsehood. For it makes the creature to be that that it 
is not, and it makes God that which he is not. We despise him, and set 
up the creature in his room. There is a false witness alway in false confi- 
dence. Indeed there are many sins in it. 

4. There is ignorance ; not knowing the creature to be so vain as it is. 
There is ignorance of God, not knowing him to be * all in all,' Col. iii. 11, 
as he is. 

5. And there is rehellion, to trust in the creature, when God will not have 
it trusted in. 

6. And there is impatimce. When these supports are taken away, then 
men grow to murmming. There is almost all sins hidden in self-confidence 
and self-sufficiency. You see the danger of it to God. 

II. Besides that, it is dangerous to ourselves. It brings ns under a curse. 
' Cursed is the man that maketh flesh his arms,' Jer. xvii. 5, that trusts in 
anything but God. It brings us under a curse, as I said, because it is 
idolatry and spiritual adultery. And then again, because leaning to a false 
prop, that being taken away that shored us up before, down we fall, with 
that we leaned on. 

Now all things but God being vanity, we relying upon that which is 
vain, our trust is vain, as the thing is vain. We can hope for no better 
condition that the things we trust to. They are vain, and we are vain ; so 
there is a curse upon them. 

Therefore we hare gi'eat cause to hate that upstart religion, that hath 
been devised for their own ends, for their own profit, because it would bring 
us under a curse. They would have us to trust to om- own works in matter 
of salvation, to trust to our own satisfaction to be freed from purgatorj', &c. 
They would have us to trust to creatures, to something besides God ; to 
trust in the mediation of saints, to be our intercessors, &c. And what doth 
this false trust ? It breeds despair at length. 

What is the reason that a well-advised papist, that knows what he doth, 
cannot but despair, or else renounce popery ? Because popery cames the 
soul to false props in matter of justification. They renounce their own 
religion at the hour of death, as Bellarmine did (tc). They live by one re- 
ligion, and die by another, which would not be if their religion were good. 
For their hearts tell them that they have not done so many works that they 
may trust in them, and they have not been so well done that they may 
trust in them. It is a dangerous thing. ' Cursed is he that trusts in man,' 
or in anything in man. 

Nay, we must not trust our own graces, as they are in ourselves, not 
by way of merit ; no, not by way of strength. We must not trust our pre- 
sent graces to carry us out, without new supply to further us. It was 
Peter's fault. ' Though all men deny thee, yet will not I,' Mat. xxvi. 85. 
He trusted to his present strength ; he forgot that if he had not a new sup- 
ply from the spriug of grace, that he should miserably miscarry, and so he 
died.* All our righteousness to trust to, it is a ' broken reed,' Isa. xxxvi. 6. 
It is somewhat, if we place it in the due place, to give us evidence that we 
are true Christians ; but to trust in it by way of merit, the devil will pick 
BO many holes in that kind of title, and conscience will see so many flaws 
in it, if we bring no better title, than either the holiness in us, or the works 
from us, the devil and our own conscience will spy so many flaws and 
* That is, spiritually, and for the moment of his backsliding. — G. Qu. ' did '? ' — Ei>. 



134 COMMENTARY ON 

cracks in it at the time of death, that we shall not dare to trust in it, but 
we must run out of ourselves to Christ, or else we die in desperation. Let 
us know these things. All things 'but God, the more we know them, the 
less we trust in them. But it is clean contrary of God, the more we know 
him, the more weJ^shaU trust in him. The more we meditate, and enlarge 
our hearts in the consideration of his divine essence every way, the more 
we shall trust in him. ' They that know thy name, will trust in thee,' 
Ps. ix. 10. Let us trust in no outward thing. 

No ! not in the humanity of Christ. I add that fm'ther. We are very 
prone to trust in things sensible ; and the apostles, because Christ was 
present with them, and comfortable among them (as indeed he was sweet 
and loving, bearing with their infirmities, and encouraging them upon all 
occasions) ; they were loath to part with him. He tells them that he must 
leave them, but they should not fare the worse, he would ' send them the 
Comforter.' ' The flesh itself profits nothing,' John vi. 63, without the 
Godhead, saith he. 

Trust not in the sacraments above their place. It is a dangerous thing 
to put too much in any creature (God is extremely ofiiended at it), as not 
only our adversaries the papists, but proud persons among us, that are 
weary of the doctrine of the church, and will not submit, in their pride, to 
riper judgments. They attribute too much to the sacraments, as some 
others do too little. They attribute a presence there. They make it an 
idol. They give it such reverence as they will not do to God himself, and 
from a false conceit. Oh, there is I know not what presence. Therefore 
the Lutherans must needs in a great degi'ee be idolaters, by their consub- 
stantiation ; and the papists by their transubstantiation, by their real pre- 
sence. Coster saith, and saith truly, if Christ be not there, we are the 
greatest idolaters in the world (.r). 

But there is a more subtle kind of attributing to the sacraments, that 
alway God gives grace with the sacraments, the sacraments convey grace 
alway. As a plaster it hath a kind of power to eat out the dead flesh, and 
as phj'sic hath a power to carry away the ill humours, so the conveying of 
grace is included in the sacraments. So they tie God's grace to these 
things. 

Indeed, there is grace hy them, though not in them. God gives grace to 
the humble receiver ; but otherwise, to him that comes not with an humble, 
believing heart. They are seals to a blank. There is no validity in them. 
All the good use they have is to strengthen faith ; and if there be not some- 
thing before to be strengthened, and confirmed, and assured, they are but 
seals to a blank. It is in these things according to our faith, and accord- 
ing to our preparation ; and then God in the holy, and humble, and faith- 
ful use of them blcsseth his own ordinance, for the increase, and confirming 
of our faith, and for the increase and strengthening of all grace. 

So that there is not anything in the church, but the proud, naughty heart 
of man will take hurt by it, rather than submit to the pure, and powerful 
truth of God. It will have by-ways to have ' confidence in the flesh,' Philip, 
iii. 4, one way or other. 

And many men, rather than they will trust to sound repentance and humi- 
liation for sin, they will trust to the words of absolution without it, and 
when they are said, go to hell with a pardon about their necks. The false 
heart will trust to outward things though it be damned for it. In their 
place they are good, if they be used only as helps in their kind. We lay 
more weight upon outward things, upon the sacraments, and upon the 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 9. 135 

words of the minister than they will bear, and never care for the inward 
powerful work of gi-ace. Everything of God is excellent in their order and 
kind, but our corrupt hearts bring an ill report upon the things. 

You see then, it is a dangerous disposition to trust any too much. It is 
to idolise them, and to wrong God, to take the honour from God. It is 
to hurt ourselves, and bring ourselves under a cui'se ; and to wrong the 
things themselves, to bring an evil report upon the things. It is universally 
true. You shall never see a false, bitter heart, that will not stoop to God's 
plain truth (they will have by-ways of their own), but in some measure or 
other they arebaiTen of great matters, and given up to some sensible bitter- 
ness, to self-conceitedness, and self-confidence. They are alway punished 
in that kind with a spiritual kind of punishment. 

We must take heed therefore of trusting too much to anything but God 
himself. God is jealous of our trust. He will have us trust in nothing 
but himself in matters of salvation. No ; not in matters of common life, 
not in matters politic and civil. We must not build our trust in any creature 
so much as to think ourselves happy by them, or to think they cannot de- 
ceive us. They are creatures of nothing. Therefore they are prone to 
deceive. They are prone to turn to nothing. Therefore we must not build 
upon them overmuch, no not in civil matters. 

Indeed, if we see the image of God in any man, we may trust him: if we 
see him faithful, and loving, and good. Yet trust him as a man alway, 
that is, as such a one as may deceive, and yet he may be a man and a good 
man. So in other creatures, ia the use of physic, and wars, and arms, &c. 
In danger we may in some subordinate consideration trust to them ; but 
we must use them as means, that is, as such as God hath free liberty to use 
to good to help us, and free liberty not to use. We must use them, but 
not trust to them. ' Some trust in chariots, and some in horses ; but our 
trust is in the Lord,' Ps. xx. 7. And, ' Trust not in princes,' Ps. cxlvi. 3, 
as the psalmist saith. Trust not in anything. 

If we trust in anything, it must be subordinate to our trust in God. It 
must not be co-ordinate, as we say, that is, not in the same rank, much 
less above God. As worldlings trast in their wealth, they tnist in their 
friends above God ; they trast not so much in heaven and happiness there, 
they think not themselves so happy for that as they do for earthly things. 
Nay, they trust against God in confidence of their friends and of their purse. 
A carnal man makes riches ' his stronghold ; ' he trusts them above God, 
and against God. We must neither trust them with God, in a co-ordinate 
proportion with him, nor above God, much less against God. Wliat makes 
base flesh and blood de^dlish in that respect, to attempt cursed means, 
against the truth, and against good causes? 

They bear themselves out with these things ; perhaps the truth crosses 
them in their designs, and shames them, and frets them. ^^Iiat makes 
them undermine good causes, and go desperately to kick against the pricks, 
to dash themselves against wrath which is stronger than they ? They 
think to bear themselves out with their greatness, with their friends, with 
some carnal support or other. This is to trust against God, which is 
worst of all. 

And this makes that harlot of Rome so confident against the church of 
God. ' I sit as a queen,' saith Babylon, Piev. xviii. 7 ; not only outward 
Babylon, that was the type, but spiritual Babylon, ' I sit as a queen.' I 
shall be hereafter as I am now. Therefore saith God, ' Thy destruction 
shall come in one day,' Rev. xviii. 8. Thy destruction shall come unre- 



136 COMMENTiVRY ON 

coverably and suddenly, because she blest herself ha an ill course ; as now 
at this day they think all is sure. 

If we trust anything but God, we must trust them as instruments, as 
helps in their rank and place which God hath set them ; so much and no 
more. ' Let a man esteem of us as ministers of Christ,' saith St Paul, 
2 Cor. vi. 4. If they esteem of us more, it is too much ; if less, it is too 
little, just so much ; as ministers, but as ' ministers of Christ.' So there is 
a due to everything. No more ; for then you wrong God : no less ; for then 
you wrong the thing and God too. Just so much as God would have it, 
and then we shall have just the grace that God intends. 

Seeing there is such a danger, in false confidence, let us take heed of it 
by all means. 

' That xve may not trust in ourselves.^ That is, in any earthly thing in our- 
selves, or out of ourselves, wit, honour, riches, learning, or whatsoever, 
but God and his truth and promises. Let us labour to have a sanctified 
judgment in everything ; to judge of things in their nature and order and 
rank as we should do, and be not carried with opinion of things. Judge 
of them as the Creator of things judgeth of them, as God judgeth, and the 
Scripture judgeth. 

Now, of all outward things that we are prone to trust in, how doth the 
Scripture judge of them ? How doth God judge of them ? They are uncer- 
tain riches. ' Riches they have wings,' Prov. xxiii. 5. They are nothing, as 
the prophet saith. ' Wilt thou set thy heart upon that which is nothing ?' Job 
vii. 17. They are vanity ; they are of nothing, and they tend to nothing. 

When the hour of death comes, what, will all these do good ? They are 
uncertain, and weak, and ineflicacious for that for which we trust them. 
They will not make us happy. They commend us not a whit to God. He 
hates us no more if we want them. He loves us no more if we have them. 
They make us not the better in ourselves, but the worse. They make us 
more indisposed to good things. 

We say of those that are intoxicate with any kind of frenzy or lunacy, 
twice as much physic will not serve their turn as will serve another, because 
of the distemper of their brain, and the inflammation of their blood and 
spirits. Certainly it is true of those that are spmtually drunk with the 
conceit of the creature, with honour, with riches, &c. Three times, many 
times so much means, will not serve the turn, to bring them to goodness, 
as will serve meaner men. 

What is the reason the poor receive the gospel ? 

Because there is a lesser distance between them and the blessed truths 
of God than in others, though perhaps they belong to God too ; for the 
things of this life will work a little. 

We say of weak brains, that strong drink doth much weaken them ; and 
so weak stomachs, hard meat will not digest in them, it will overcome them. 
And weak brains, though strong water overcome them not, yet it will weaken 
them. So in these things, great parts and great place set a man further off 
from the gospel. A great deal of corruption cannot be overcome and digested 
without a great measure of grace. The proportion of grace it must be 
great, it must be treble to men that have great matters in this world ; it 
must be greater than to poorer men, who [are] in a less distance from 
heaven. 

Hence we may see the reasons of God's dispensation, why God doth 
seldom work by great means. I say seldom, sometimes he doth, to shew 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 137 

that they are good means. As it is said and ohserved by an ancient father, 
that seldom he saw any good come by General Councils. Why ? They 
are good in themselves, but men trust too much upon them, and therefore 
God disappoints them of that they trust to. Because the naughty nature 
of man puts too much trust in these things, therefore God will not give that 
issue that we look for, but, on the contrary, a curse. 

Why doth not God bless great preparations, many times, to war ? &c. 
Recause we put too much trust in them. Here are too many, saith God 
to Gideon, Judges vii., et alibi. Take away some, here are too many to go 
to war. What is the reason that God, where the greatest excellencies are, 
adds some imperfection to balance them ? Because they should not trust 
in themselves. 

What is the reason that in the church God chooseth men of meaner 
parts and sufficiencies, the disciples fishermen ? If they had been great 
men, men would have said place had carried it ; if they had been scholars, 
men would have said that their learning had carried it ; if they had been 
witty* men, they would have said their wit had caiTied it. It had been no 
marvel if they should win the world. But when they saw they were mean 
men, fishermen, sisters at the receipt of custom (and perhaps their par's 
were not great), then they might attribute it to the divineness of the gospyl, 
to the divineness of God's truth, and to God's blessing upon it. 

What is the reason that God suffers excellent men to fall foully some- 
times, St Peter himself, and David ? &c. Because they should not trust 
in themselves, not trust in their grace, not trust in anything, no, not in the 
best things in themselves. 

What is the reason that God goes by contraries in all the carriage of our 
salvation ? ' That we should not trust in ourselves.' In our calling he 
calls men out of nothing. ' He calls things that are not as if they were,' 
Rom iv. 17. In justification, he justifies a sinner, he that despairs of his 
own righteousness. That no man should trust in anything he hath, or de- 
spair if he want any perfection, God justifies a sinner that despairs of 
himself. In sanctification, God sanctifies a man when he sees no goodness 
in himself. Most of all, then, he is a vessel fit to receive grace. And he 
doth sanctify him sometimes by his falls. He makes him good by his slips, 
which is a strange course to make a man better by. Saith St Austin, ' I 
dare say, and stand to it, that it is profitable for some men to fall ; they 
grow more holy by their slips' (//). As Peter, he grew stronger by his infir- 
mity. This strange course God takes. Why so ? That we should not 
trust in ourselves. In our calling, in our justification from our sins, ' that 
we should not trust in ourselves,' nor despair. 

In sanctification. Nay, he takes a course that we shall grow better by 
our falls, that we may be ashamed of them, and be more cautelousf and 
humble, and more watchful for the time to come. In glorification he will 
glorify us, but it shall be when we have been rotten in our graves before ; 
we must come to nothing. So in every passage of salvation he goes by 
contraries, and all to beat down confidence in ourselves, and that we should 
not distrust him in any extremity ; for then is the time for God to work 
his work most of all. 

' That we might not trust in ourselves.' To help us further against this 
self-confidence, let us labour to know ourselves well, what we are, distinct 
from the new creature, distinct from grace and glory. Indeed, in that re- 
spect we are something in God. If we go out of ourselves and see wha i 
* That is, ' wise." — G. t TLat is, ■ cautious.' — G. 



138 



COMMENTARY ON 



■we are in Christ, we are somebody. For we are heirs of heaven, we are 
kings and rulers over all, all things are subject to us, hell, and sin, and 
death. We are somebody there. But in that wherein our nature is prone 
to put over much confidence, what are we ? What are we as we are strong, as 
we are rich, as we are noble, as we are in favour with great ones ? Alas ! 
all is nothing, because ere long it will be nothing. What will all be in the 
hour of death, when we must receive ' the sentence of death ? ' What 
will all favours do us good ? They will be gone. "What will all relations, 
that we are styled by this and that title, what good will it do ? Alas ! these 
end in death ; all earthly relations shall be laid in the dust. All the honours 
in the earth, all lichcs and contentments, aU the friends that we have, what 
can they do ? Nothing! All shall leave us there. And for us to trust in 
that which will fail ns ere long, and which being taken away, we receive a 
great foil * (for he that leans to a thing, if that be taken away, down he 
falls), what a shame will it be ? 

As the heathen man said, that gi-eat emperor, ' I have been all things, 
and nothing doth me good now,' when he was to die (z). Indeed, nothiag 
could do him good. ' Let not the rich man glory in his riches, nor the 
Avise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength,' saith 
the prophet ; ' but let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord,' Jer. ix. 22. 

Consider what the best thing is that we have of inward things, our wis- 
dom. Wisdom, if it be not spiritual, it is only a thing for the things of 
this life, and we are ofttimes deceived in it. It makes God to disappoint 
us ofttimes to make us go out of ourselves. An excellent place for this we 
have in Isa. 1. the last verse, ' Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, and com- 
pass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your own fire,' &c. 
(it is a kind of ironia*), ' and the sparks that you have kindled ; this you 
shall have of my hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow.' Walk m the light of 
your own fire, walk according to your own devices and projects ; this ye 
shall have at my hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow. God catcheth the wise 
in the imagination of their own hearts ; he disappoints the counsel and the 
projects of Ahithophel. God takes a glory in it, to shame the policies and 
projects of those that will be witty in a distinct way against God. The 
best policy is to serve God and to walk uprightly. 

* That we slwnld not trust in. ourselves, hut in God wJio raiseth the dead.'' 
This is the other branch, what we should trust in, in God. All this 
humbling of the blessed apostle, even to death's door, that ' he received the 
sentence of death,' it was first to subdue carnal confidence in himself. He 
was prone to think himself stronger than he was, or that he should be up- 
held, that something or other should keep him from death. That he might 
subdue this carnal confidence, and then that he might trust in God, it was 
all for these two ends, ' that we might not trust in ourselves (or in any 
means), but in God that raiseth the dead.' 

Was St Paul to learn to trust in God, that had been so long a scholar 
in Christ's school, nay, a master in Israel ? Was he to learn to trust in 
God? 

Yes ; doubtless, he was. It is a lesson that is hardly learned, and it is 
a lesson that we shall be learning all our life, to go out of ourselves and 
out of the creature, and to go further into God, to rely more and more upon 
him. It is a lesson that we can never learn as we ought. Therefore, weak 
Christians ought not to be discouraged when they find defects and weakness 
* Thcat is, ' fall.'— G. t That is, 'irony.'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 139 

in their trust. Our hearts are false, and prone to trust outward things ; 
but do they groan under their corruptions ? Do they complain of them- 
selves ? Do they go out of themselves ? Their estate is good. The estate 
of a Christian, it is a growing, it is a conflicting estate. He comes not to 
full trust and confidence in God till he have gathered many experiments,* 
till God have exercised him to the proof throughly ; therefore, let them not 
be discouraged. A Christian is not alway like himself; he is in a growing 
estate. There is a weak faith and a strong faith. ' 0, ye of little faith,' 
Mat. vi. 80. The disciples had a little faith as well as Abraham, ' that 
was strong in faith. As long as we are on the complaining hand, and on 
the striving hand, and growing hand, all is hopeful. St Paul himself still 
strived against self-confidence, and still learned to trust in God more and 
more. 

But mark the order. First, God doth all this, ' that we should not trust 
in ourselves.' But that is not the thing he doth mainly aim at, but another 
thing, that we should trust in God who raiseth the dead.' Whence we may 
observe, that 

Doct. God, to make us trust in himself, is fain to cast us out of ourselves. 

His proper work is not to drive us out of ourselves, that is a work sub- 
ordinate to a higher. But the furthest and last work is, that we should ' trust 
in him,' as the prophet saith. ' God doth a strange work,' Isa. xxviii. 21. He 
doth a work strange to himself, that he may do his own work. He doth a work 
that doth not concern him so properly, that he may do his own work, as he 
is God, that is, to confii'm and settle us upon himself. But that he ma-y 
do this, he must set us out of ourselves by crosses and afflictions. That 
is not his own proper work, to afilict us, and to bring us low ; for he is the 
* Father of mercies.' But that he may do his own work, to bring us to 
him, and then do good to us, he must take this in his way, and do this 
first. To make it clear. A carpenter, he pulls down a house, he takes 
it in pieces. His art is not to pull down houses, but to build them up. But 
he doth that which doth not belong to him properly, that he may do that 
which doth belong to him ; for he will not build upon a rotten, founda- 
tion. So neither ' will God build upon a rotten foundation.' He will 
not build upon carnal confidence, upon carnal trust, upon pride, and 
covetousness ; but he will demolish that rotten foundation with afiiic- 
tions and crosses. He will use such means that we shall have small joy to 
trust in sin. He will by crosses and afflictions force us to go from our sins. 
He will demolish that rotten foundation, that he may raise up an excellent 
edifice and frame of the new creature, that shall endure to everlasting. 
The work of a physician is to cure nature, and not to weaken it. It is not 
his work to make people sick, but to make them sound. If the body be 
distempered, it must be weakened. He must carry the burden of ill and 
noisome humours before it be strengthened. To make people sound he 
must give them strong purgations, that shall afflict them and afiect them as 
much as the disease for a while. But all is to make them lighter and 
stronger after, when they are eased of the burden of noisome humours : 
and so it is in every other trade. So God shews his skill in this great 
matter in bringing us to heaven this way. He doth that work which doth not 
properly concern him, to work at last his own blessed good work. He 
afflicts us to drive us out of ourselves, that we may come at last to trust in 
him, in whom is all our happiness and good. 

The reason of it is clear. For in a succession of contraries there must 
* That is, ' experiences.' — G 



1-1,0 COMMENTARY ON 

be a removing of cue contrary before another can be brought in. If a ves- 
sel be to be filled with a contrary liquor, the first must have a vent ; it 
must be emptied of the worse, that the better may come. So it is with us. 
We are full of self-confidence, as a vessel of naughty Uquor. Out must 
that go, that better things may come in. So it is in ploughing, and in 
evervthincr else. This is taken as a principle in nature. The order gene- 
rally is this, that we should not trust in ourselves, that we might be brought 
to trust in God. He brings us low, to ' receive the sentence of death,' to 
di'ive us out of ourselves, that he may bring us to rely on him. 

Use 1. The use we should make of it, among many others, is this, that 
we fshould not take offence at God when he is about this strange u'ork, as we 
think. When he is making us sick with physic, with afflictions, and troubles, 
let us not think that he hates us. Doth the physician hate the patient 
when he makes him sick ? Perhaps he stays a good while from him till 
his physic have wrought throughly, but he doth not hate him, but gives 
it time, and sufl'ers it to have its work, that so he may recover himself. 
Doth the goldsmith hate his precious metal when he puts it into the fire, 
and sufiers the fire to work upon it ? What is lost ? Nothing but the 
dross. What is lost in the body by sickness ? The ill humours that load 
the body and distemper the actions and functions of it, that it cannot work 
as it should. There is nothing lost but that that may well be spared. So 
when God goes about his work, he afflicts thee and follows thee with losses 
and crosses. He takes away friends and credit, this outward thing and 
that. All this is to give thee a purge. He works a strange work, that he 
may work his own work, that he may bring thee to himself. 

Therefore let us be far from murmuring at this blessed work of God : let 
us rather bless God for his care this way, that he will not sufier us to perish 
with the world. God might have suffered us to rot upon our dregs, that 
we should have no changes, as the world hath not. But he hath more care 
of us than so. The husbandman will not plough in the wilderness. The 
heathy ground shall go unploughed long enough. He loves it not so well 
as to sow good seed there. So when God takes pains, and is at cost with 
any man ; when he pm-geth him, and ploughs him, and hammers him ; all 
this is to consume that which is naught, to plough up the weeds, to fit him 
for the blessed seed of grace, to fit him for comfort here and glory in an- 
other world. Why then should we murmur against God ? Let us rather 
be thankful, especially when we see the blessed issue of this, when we see 
our earthly-mindedness abated, when we see ourselves more heavenly- 
minded, when we see ourselves weaned from the world, when we see ourselves 
take more delight in communion with God. Then, blessed be God for 
crosses and afflictions, that he hath taken the pains, and would be at the 
cost with us to exercise us. It is a ground not only of patience, but of 
thankfulness, when God humbles us. Be not discontent, man ! Grudge 
not ! mm-mur not ! God doth a work that seems strange to thee, and 
which is not his own proper work, that he may do his own work, that he 
may bring thee nearer to himself. Why dost thou murmur at thy own good ? 

The patient cries out of the phj'sician that ho torments him. He hears 
him well enough, but he will not be advised by his patient. He means to 
advise him, and to rule him. He would fain have comfort. He is in pain, 
and cries for ease. But his time is not yet come. So let us wait, and not 
murmur under crosses. God is doing one work to bring to pass another. 
He brings us out of ourselves, that he may bring us nearer to himself. 

Use 2. And another use that we may make of it, let us examine ourselves. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 141 

whether our afflictions awl crosses have had this effect in vs, to bnng us to trust 
in him more. If they have, all is well. But if they make us worse, that 
we fret and murmur, and feel no good by them, it is an ill sign ; for God 
doth bring us low, that we may not trust in ourselves, but in him. Quern 
prasentia mala non corrigunt, &c. Whom the presence of ill and grievance 
amends not, they bring to eternal grievance. ' This is Aliaz,' saith the 
Scripture, 2 Chron. xxviii. 22 : a strange man, a wicked king, that not- 
withstanding God followed him with judgments, yet he grew worse and 
worse. This is Ahaz ! He might well be branded. When a man belongs 
to God, everything brings him nearer to God. When a man is brought to 
be more humble, and more careful, and more watchful every way, to be 
more zealous, more heavenly-minded ; it is a blessed sign that God then is 
working a blessed work, to force him out of himself, and to bring him nearer 
himself, to trust in him. This we cannot too much consider of. 

Use 3. It should teach us likewise this, that we juchje mt amiss of the 
generation of the righteous, ivhen ice see God much humbling them. When 
we see hini follow them with siclmess, with troubles and disgraces in the 
world, perhaps with terror of conscience, with desertions, be not dis- 
couraged. If be be thy friend, censure him not ; add not affliction to his 
afflictfon. Is not his affliction enough ? Thou needest not add to* thy un- 
just censure, f s Job said to his friends. The more we are afflicted of God, 
the more good he intends to work to us. The end is to bring us from our- 
selves to trust in him. 

It is a wicked disposition in men that know not the ways of God. They 
are ignorant of the ways that he takes with his children. When they see 
men that are Christians, that they are humbled and cast down and troubled, 
they think they are men forsaken of God, &c. Alas ! they do not know 
God's manner of dealing. He casts them down that he may raise them 
up. They ' receive the sentence of death' against themselves, that he may 
comfort them after, that he may do them good in their latter end. Let this 
therefore keep us from censuring of other men in om- thoughts for this hard 
course which God seems to take with them. 

Use 4. And let us make this use of it, when we are in any grievance, and 
God follows us still, let us mourn and lament the stubbornness of our hearts, 
that will not ijield. God intends to draw us near to him, to trust in him. 
If we would do this, the affliction would cease, except it be for trial, and 
for the exercise of grace, and for witness to the truth. When God afflicts, 
sometime for trial and for witness, there is a spirit of glory in such a case, 
that a man is never afflicted in mind. But, I say, when God follows us 
with sickness, with crosses, with loss of friends, and we are not wrought 
upon, let as censure our hard hearts, that force God to take this course. 

And 'justify God in all this,' Job i. 22, et alibi. Lord, thou knowest I 
could not be good without this, thou knowest I would not be drawn without 
this ; bring me near to thyself, that thou mayest take away this heavy hand 
from me. The intemperate man that is sick makes the physician seem 
cruel. It is because I set my affections too much on earthly things, that 
thou foUowest me with these troubles. We force God to do this. A phy- 
sician is forced to bring his patient even to skin and bone. An intemperate 
patient sometimes, that hath surfeited upon a long distemper, he must bring 
him to death's door, even almost to death, because his distemper is so set- 
tled upon him, that he cannot otherwise cure him. So it is with God, the 
physician of our souls. He must bring us wondrous low. We are so prone, 

» Qii. -to it?"— Ed. 



142 COMMENTARY ON 

SO desperate!}- addicted to present thincjs, to trust to them, and to be proud 
of them, and confident in them, that God must deal as a sharp physician. 
He must bring us so low, or else we should never be recovered of our per- 
fect health again, and all is that we might trust in God. 

Observe we from hence another point, that 

Doctrine. God in all outward things that are ill, intends the cjood of the sold. 

He takes liberty to take away health, and liberty, and friends, to take 
away comforts. But whatsoever he takes away, he intends the good of the 
soul in the first place. And all the ills that he inflicts upon us, they are to 
cure a worse ill, the ill of the soul ; to cure an unbelieving heart, a worldly, 
proud, carnal heart, which is too much addicted to earthly things. We see 
here how God dealt with St Paul. All was to build up his soul in trust 
and confidence in God, all was for the soul. 

The reason is ; other things are vanishing, the soul is the better part, 
the eternal part. If all be well with the soul, all shall be well other- 
wise at last. If it be well with the soul, the body shall do well. Though 
God take liberty to humble us with sickness, and with death itself, yet 
God will raise the body and make it glorious. A good soul will draw it 
after it at last, and move God to make the body glorious. But if the soul 
be naught, let us cherish and do what we will with the body ; both will be 
naught at last. 

This life is not a life to regard the body. We are dead in that while we 
live. 'The sentence of death' is passed. We must die. We are dying 
every day. ' The body is dead because of sin,' Rom. viii. 10. We are 
going to our grave. Every day takes away a part of our life. 

This is not a life for this body of ours. It is a respite to get assurance 
of an eternal estate in heaven. God takes our wealth, and liberty, and 
strength, &c., that he may help our souls, that he may work his own blessed 
work in our souls, that he may lay a foundation of eternal happiness in our 
souls. 

Therefore, hence we should learn to resign our bodies and estates to God. 
Lord, do with me what thou wilt ! only cure my soul, only strengthen my 
faith. I give thee liberty with all my heart to take what thou wilt, so thou 
save my soul. Give me not up to an unbelieving heart, to an hypocritical, 
false heart, to false confidence, to trust in false grounds, and to perish eter- 
nally ; for my estate and body, do what thou wilt. We should be brought 
to this. Wliy ? Because indeed the state of the soul is the true state either 
in good or ill. If all be naught with that, all will be naught at last. We 
shall try it to our cost. 

And therefore let us even rather thank God, and desire God to go on 
with his work. Lord, rather than thou shouldst give me up to a hard heart, 
to a stubborn heart, and perish and have no sound change, rather than suffer 
me to perish thus, use me as thou wilt. 

And thank him when we find any degree of goodness or faith. Lord, 
thou mightst have followed me with outward blessings, and so have given 
me up in my soul to hypocrisy, and to pride, that I should never have felt 
the power of gi'ace, that I should never have known thee, or myself 
throughly, or the vanity of outward things. But this thou hast not done, 
thou hast not given me liberty in outward things, that thou mightest do 
good to my soul, blessed be thy name. Let us not only take it well, but 
thankfully at God's hands. To proceed, 

' That we might trust in God that raiseth the dead.' 

Obs. The soul must have somewhat to trust to. The foundation must be laid; 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, WAI. 9. 143 

for the soul is a creatui'o, and a dependent creatui'e. Somewhat it must have 
to rely on ; as all weak dependent things have somewhat to depend on. The 
vine is a weak plant. It must have the elm or somewhat to rely on. It will 
sink else, it will become unfruitful and unprofitable. All things that are weak, 
are supported by somewhat that is stronger. It is an inclination and in- 
stinct in things that are weak, to look for supply from things that are stronger 
than themselves to support them ; and it is their happiness to be so. The 
creatui'es that are unreasonable* are guided by those that have reason, by 
men ; and the creatures that are reasonable are guided by superiors, by 
God, and by angels that are above them, and have the care and charge over 
them. It is the happiness of weaker things to be under the supportation 
of that which is stronger. And some support it will have, good or bad. 

The soul, if it have not God, it will have pleasures, it will have profit. 
The worst of men, that think there is little for them in heaven, by reason 
of their blasphemy, and filthy courses, they will have base pleasures to go 
to, that they will trust to, and carnal acquaintance to solace themselves 
withal. The worst of men will have some dirty thing or other, to give 
their souls to, to support themselves withal ; something the soul will have. 

God loves the soul, and hath made it for himself; and as he hath made 
it for himself, to join with himself, to solace himself in it (* My son, give 
me thy heart,' Prov. xxiii. 26) so when he takes it from outward things, 
he will not have it empty, to rely upon nothing, but he takes it to himself. 
All this is to take our hearts from ourselves, and from self-confidence, that 
we may trust in him. God is for the heart, and that is for him ; as I said, 
he calls for it, ' My son, give me thy heart,' give me thy afiection of trust, 
of joy, of dehght. All the affections, they are made for God, and for 
heaven, and heavenly things. Our afi'ections that we have, they are not 
made for riches. Our souls are not made for them. The soul is larger 
than they. They will not content the soul. The soul is a spiritual sub- 
stance, and they are outward things. The soul is large, they are scanty in 
their extent. They are uncertain, and momentary ; the soul is an eternal 
thing. It outlives those things. And thereupon the soul is not made for 
them, and they are not made for the soul. 

They are to give contentment to the outward man for a while here. The}' 
are made for our pilgrimage, to comfort us in the way to heaven ; but the 
soul is not for them. 

The soul is the chamber, and the bed, and, as it were, the cabinet for 
God himself, and Christ to rest in only. 

All outward things must be kept out of the heart. We may use them ; 
but we must keep them out of the heart. It is not for them. We must 
not joy in them, and solace ourselves, and delight in them over much, 
further than we seek God in them, and enjoy God in them. But as they 
are sensible •'■'- things, the heart is not for them. Therefore God takes the 
heart from self-confidence, and from other things. He suffers it not to 
wander ; but he takes it to himself, that we may trust in him. 

The next thing, then, that we may observe is, that when we go out of 
ourselves, we must have somewhat to rely on, which is better than all 
things else. We lose not by the change ; but when we are stripped of 
ourselves, and of all earthly things, we have God to go to. 

Doctrine. God is the object of trust. 

God is the proper object of trust of the Christian soul. He is the object 
of trust, as well as the author of it. He is the cause and worker of it by 
* Tliat is, ' without reason.' — G. t That is, ' outward.' — G. 



14-1 COMMENTARY ON 

his Spirit, am\ he is the object of it. If we trust to other thiugs, it must 
be as they are Ciod's instruments, as they ai"e God's means. But if ■we 
trust anything, cither wealth, or friends, or anything, to neglect the worship 
of God, or to please ourselves in it, to put our hands to ill courses, in 
confidence of the creature, in confidence of men, or anything else, to take 
any false cause in hand, this is to trust them above their respect. We 
must trust to them as instruments, as voluntary instruments, which God 
may use when he pleaseth, or not use when he pleaseth. When we use 
them otherwise, we forget their nature. Then we use them not as instru- 
ments, but as the chief. We forget the order. 

God is the object of trust. We must rest on him for grace and glory ; 
for the best things, and for the things of this life, as far as the}' are good. 

So far as we trust to anything else to move us to security, to rest in 
them, or to sin for them, it is a sinful trust. Other things we may trust ; 
but in the nature of vain instruments, changeable instruments, that God 
may alter and change. He that is rich to-day, may be poor to-morrow. 
He that hath a friend to-day, may have him taken away to-morrow. And 
so all outward things, they are changeable and mutable. But we may trust 
God all times alike. He is eternal. He is infinitely able, and infinitely 
■wise, to know all our grievances. We may trust him with our souls, with 
our hearts. He is faithful, and loving, and eternal, as our souls are. He 
gives eternity to the soul. Therefore at all times we may trust in him, in 
all places, everywhere. He knows our hearts, he knows our grievance 
everywhere. He hath all grounds of one that may be trusted to. He 
hath power and goodness, and mercy and wisdom. He is the object of 
trust. 

But how considered, is he the object of trust, God out of Christ, Media- 
tor ? 

Oh, no ! God in covenant with us in Christ, — he is the object of our trust, 
or else there is such a distance and contrariety between man's nature and 
God, that he is a ' consuming fire,' Heb. xii. 29. Since the fall from the 
covenant of works, we cannot be saved by that ; but he hath vouchsafed to 
be ours in a better covenant in Christ, in whom ' all the promises are yea 
and amen,' 2 Cor. i. 20. This good comes from God to us by Christ. 
Christ first receives it, and he derives* it to us, as our elder Brother, and 
as om' head. All the promises are made in him, and through him. He 
receives it for us. We receive it at the second hand. God hath filled 
him first. ' And of his fulness we receive grace for grace,' John i. 16. 

' Without him we can do nothing,' John xv. 5. With him we can do 
all things. So we trust in God reconciled ; God made ours in the cove- 
nant of grace in Jesus Christ, who hath made our peace. Else God is a 
' sealed fountain.' He is a fountain of good, but a sealed fountain. Christ 
hath opened this fountain. His love is open to Christ, and derived to 
Christ, in whom our flesh is. He is ' bone of our bone, and flesh of our 
flesh,' Eph. V. 30, that we might be bone of his bone, and flesh of his 
flesh by being united with him. So now we trust in him, as God, the 
Father of Christ, reconciled. ' I believe in God the Father Almighty,' as 
it is in the creed. God thus considered is the object of trust. There are 
two ojects of trust : God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; and Christ 
Mediator. 

Use. If this be so, that God reconciled now is the object of trust, for all 
things that are good, not only for salvation, but for grace, and for all com- 
* That is, transmits.'— Q. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, ^^ER. 9. 145 

forts, to bring us to heaven, then ive see the vanitij of all other conjidence 
ichatsoever, as I touched before. 

And is it not a blessed thing that God will be trusted, that he hath made 
himself such a one as we may trust him ? Now blessed be God for Christ, 
that he having received satisfaction to his justice by him, he may be trusted, 
and desires that we should trust him ; that now in Christ he hath made 
himself a Father, that we should not fear him, nor run away from him. 
It is a gi'eat favour that God will be trusted of us, that he mil honour us 
so much. 

He accounts it an honour when we trust him, but indeed it is an honour 
to us that we have a thi'one of grace through Christ to go to ; that he hath 
devised a way that we might trust him, and not run from him ; that we may 
go to him in Christ, who sits at his right hand, who is our intercessor, who 
hath redeemed us with his precious blood. It is our happiness that he 
hath made himself a gracious and loving Father, that he calls us to him, 
and thinks himself honoured by our trusting in him. 

Again, we see here that, 

Doct. Trust in God is a main duty. 

He is the object of trust, and it is a main duty. It is a spring of duty 
out of which all comes ; for we see here all doth aim at this. Afflictions 
they come to mortify our self-confidence. Self-confidence is subdued that 
we may trust in God. Our trust must be carried to him. He is the object 
of it. And this trast in God is a main duty, which in this world we ought 
to labour for. It is that that God doth aim at, and it is that that we should 
aim at. God doth aim at it in exercising of us ; and we should aim at it 
on our part, in our hearing, in our receiving the sacrament, in everything, 
that our trust and affiance and confidence may be in God, and that we may 
grow more and more and more in it. 

Well, since God is the object of trust, and trust is such a necessary 
grace, that God doth all to bring us to trust in him, let us come to search 
ourselves, how shall we know whether we trust in God or no ? And then 
to direct us, how to come to trust in him, to give some means and helps. 

1. He trusts in God reconciled in Jesus Christ that Jiies to him in extre- 
mitij. That a man trusts unto, that when he is pinched he flies unto. 
How shall a man know that he is a covetous worldling ? If he be in ex- 
tremity, he goes to his purse, he makes a friend of that. How shall a 
man know that he trusts to the arm of flesh, that he trusts his friend too 
much ? In extremity he runs to him, presently he goes to a friend he 
hath. What we run to, that our trust is in. A Christian, he runs to his 
God ; and happy is that Christian that is in covenant, that he hath a God 
to run to in all extremities, in sickness, in death, at all times. He is happy 
that he hath a God, when all fails, to trust in. 

Wilt thou know therefore whether thou trustest in God or no ? Whither 
goest thou ? A carnal man, he goes to one earthly prop or other. If God 
answer him not presently, then he goes with Saul to the witch, to the devil 
himself perhaps. If God do not send him present help, he goes to one 
carnal help or other, to fetches * of his wit, to poUcy, to crack his con- 
science, to bear out things with impudence. He hath not learned to trust 
in God, and he runs not to him, but to some wicked course or other. 

All that go not to God in the use of good means (for we must put that 
in, we must go to God in the use of his means, in the use of good means 
only), they trust not God ; lor God will not be tempted, but trusted. We 
* That is, ' devices.' — G. 

VOL. III. K 



14G COMMENTARY ON 

must go to him by prayer, and in tbo use of lawful means, and only of 
la'n-ful means ; or else, if we trust him and do not use the means, we tempt 
him. We must serve God's providence in using the means. 

2. Therefore, secondly, he that trusts in God iisctJt, his memis. He that 
trusts God for a harvest must plough, and sow, and do all that belongs to 
the providence of God. 

So a merchant that will increase his estate, he must get a ship and other 
proAasion to do it with, for we must serve God's providence as well as trust 
God's providence. AVhen we neglect good and lawful means, and run into 
ill courses, and use ill means, we serve not God, nor trust him. Those 
that grow rich by calling ' evil good, and good evil,' Isa. v. 20, they have 
not learned to trust in God. Those that think except they leave their 
posterity great they shall not be happy, and therefore they will neglect the 
Sabbath, and neglect all, to scrape an estate ; — is this to trust in God ? 
Have they learned to trust in God, when sacrilegiously they take away the 
time dedicated for the salvation of their souls and the service of God ? Is 
this one means that God hath ordained to trust him in ? They that flatter 
and serve men's humours when they know them to be in a naughty and ill 
way, is this to trust God, when they go out of his means and way, and 
make an idol of flesh and blood to serve their own turn ? 

Alas ! we need not name these things. If men had learned what it is to 
trust in God, and depend upon him in the use of lawful means, and would 
rather be content to want in this world than to have anything with a cracked 
conscience ! 

I beseech you, let us examine our own hearts in this. There are many 
that think they trust in God when they do not. They trust their policy, 
they trust flesh and blood, and by consequence they trust the devil, if they 
trust not in God. 

3. In the next place, he that trusts in God, his mind will he quieted in 
some comfortable measure, when he hath used the means that are Imvful, and 
cast himself upon God. He will be quiet, and let God work then. When 
he hath taken pains in his calling lawfully, and desired God's blessing, if 
God send wealth, so it is ; if not, he is not much troubled. He knows 
that all shall be for the best to them that trust in God. When he cannot 
have it in the use of lawful means, he is quiet. He that trusts a physician, 
when he hath used the direction of the physician, he is quiet. He thinks 
he is a wise man, an experienced physician, and now he will not trouble 
his mind any longer. If a man vex himself, and think all will not be well, 
he doth not trust his physician. And so in other professions we trust to a 
man's counsel, if we think him wise and honest. We follow his direction, 
and then we will be quiet. 

Now, God is infinitely wise. When we have used lawful means, and 
commended the means to God ; for as he will be trusted in, so he will be 
sought unto. ' I will be sought to by the house of Israel for this,' Ezek. 
xxxvi. 37. For except we pray to him, he is not trusted. But when we 
have prayed to him, in the use of lawful means, let us be quiet, let us not 
be distracted with dividing cares about this and that, as if there were not a 
God in heaven that had care of us, that had a providence over things 
below. Certainly he hath. Do thou do thy work, and let him alone with 
his work. The care of duty belongs to thee. When thou hast done thy 
duty, rest thou quiet, or else thou honourest him not as a God, thou trustest 
him not, thou dost not make a God of him. It is a great dishonour to God. 

A man thinks himself dishonoured when he is not trusted ; when we see 



2 COEINTHIAXS CnAP. I, VEE. 9, 147 

he liath ahvay been faithful to us, and is so reputed, and yet we call his 
credit in question, and will not be quiet. We should do as children do. 
They follow their books, and let their father take care for all provision for 
meat and drink, and clothes and such things. They beat not their heads 
about it. They know they have a father that will take care for that. If we 
were true children of God, and have the disposition of heavenly children, 
we will do so. If we trouble oui'selves, and beat our heads, it is a sign 
that we fear that God is not our Father. Therefore I add that to other 
signs, a resting of ourselves quiet. When we are quiet, God will do more 
than when we vex ourselves. ' Be still, and see the salvation of the Lord,' 
saith Moses at the Red Sea, Exod. xiv. 13. So let us be still and quiet, 
and see the salvation of God. He will work wonders. 

4. Again, it is a sign that we trust in God, ivhen there are no means, yet 
notidthstanding ice ivill not despair, but hope and trust in God. When we 
see nothing in the eye of flesh and blood, no means of recovery, yet we 
trust in God. He can work his way though we see not how ; he can make 
a passage for us. AVhen God is thus honoured he works wonders. This 
is to make a God of him, when there is no means, to believe that he can 
work against means. If my life shall be for his glory and my good, he 
can recover my life though the physician say I am a dead man. If he have 
employment for me in this world, he can do it. He can work with means, 
or against means, or vrithout means. And so in desperate troubles, if God 
see it good for me, he can deliver me though there be no means. He is 
the Creator of means. Do not tie him to his own creature. If all be 
taken away, he can make new. 

5. Again, he trusts in God that labours to make God his friend continu- 
al I y ; for he whom we trust unto wo will not provoke. Certainly we will 
not provoke a man whom we mean to make our fiiend. Those that live 
in swearing, in defiled courses, in contempt of God and holy things, of the 
ordinances of God, of the day appointed to holy and religious uses, those 
that 'wax stubborn against God,' 1 Tim. v. 11, as the Scripture speaks, 
do we trust him against whom we walk stubbornly ? Will a man trust 
him that he makes his enemy by wicked courses ? Thou makest God thy 
enemy, and provokest him to his face, to try whether he will pour ven- 
geance upon this* or no. He tells thee thou shalt not be mipunished if thou 
' take his name in vain,' Exod. xx. 7 ; yet thou wilt be stubborn, and not 
make conscience of these things. Dost thou trust lijm ? No ! thou pro- 
vokest him. Thou mayest trust him ; but it must be to damn thee, to 
give thee thy reward with rebels ; thou mayest trust him for that. But for 
good things thou doest not, thou canst not trust him in wicked courses. 

Who will trust his enemy, especially he that hath made his enemy by his 
ill course of life ? A man that goes on in an evil com-se, he cannot, he 
doth not trust in God. 

6. He that trusts in God's promise ivill trust in his threatening. Where 
there is an evangelical faith, there is a legal faith alway. He that believes 
that God will save him if he trast in Christ, he believes that if he do not be- 
lieve in Christ he will damn him, if he live in his natm'al course without 
repentance. 

There is a legal faith of the curse, as well as an evangelical of the pro- 
mise. They are both together. If thou do not believe God's curse in 
wicked courses, thou wilt never believe him for the other. Therefore, I will 
add this to make up the evidences of trust in ^od. True trust looks to 
* Qu. 'tbee?'-ED, 



148 COMMENTARY ON 

God's truth, and promise, and word in one part of it as well as another. 
Thou trusts God for thy salvation and the promises of that ; but thou must 
trust him for the direction of thy life too. Faith doth not single out some 
objects ; I will believe this, and not that. Faith is carried to all the ob- 
jects, it believes all God's truths. Therefore, if I believe not the threaten- 
ings and directions, to be ruled by them, I believe not the promises. In 
what measure thou believest the promise of mercy to save thy soul, in that 
measure thou believest the directions of God's word to guide thy soul. He 
that receives Chiist as a Priest to save him, he must receive him as a King 
to rule him. 

All the directions, and all the threatenings, and all the promises must be 
received and believed. 

A man hath no more faith and trust in God than he hath care to follow 
God's direction ; for faith is carried to all divine truths. All come from 
the same God. Thousands go to hell, and think. Oh, God is a merciful 
God, and I will trust in him ! But how is thy life ? Is it carried by God's 
directions ? Thou art a rebel. Thou livest in sins against conscience. 
Thou wilt trust in God in one part of his word, and not in another. Thou 
must not be a chooser. 

7. Again, the last that I will name at this time, if thou trust God for 
one thing, undonhtedhj thou will trust him for all. If thou trust him w^th 
thy soul, certainly thou wilt trust him with thy children. Some men hope 
to be saved by Christ. Oh, he will be merciful to their souls ; and yet 
even to their death they use corrupt com-ses to get an estate and to make 
their children rich ; and except they have so much, they will not trust in 
God. If they have nothing to leave them, they think not that there is a 
God in heaven who is a better Father than they. Put case thou hast 
nothing, hast thou not God's blessing ? Canst thou trust thy soul with 
God, and canst thou not trust him with thy family ? Is he not the God of 
thy seed ? Hath he not made the promise to thy posterity as well as to 
thyself? If thou trust him for one thing, thou wilt trust him for all. 
Wilt thou trust him for heaven, and wilt thou not trust him for provision 
for daily bread ? Wilt thou not trust him for this or that, but thou must 
use unlawful means ? He that trusts God, he trusts him for all truths and 
for all things needful, with his family, with his body, with his soul, with 
all. And so much for the trials, whether we trust in God or no. 

Let us not deceive ourselves. It is a point of infinite consequence, as 
much as the salvation of our souls. What brings men to hell in the church ? 
False confidence. They trust to false things, or they think they trust in 
God, when indeed they do not. 

The fault of a ship is seen in a tempest, and the fault of a house is seen 
when winter comes. Thy trust, that is thy house that thou goest to and 
restest in, the fault of that will be seen when thou comcst to extremity. 
In the hour of death, then thou hast not a God to go to, then thy conscience 
upbraids thee ; thou hast lived by thy shifts* in carnal confidence and re- 
bellion against God, and how canst thou then willingly trust God, whom 
thou hast made thine enemy all thy lifetime ? 

To go, then, to some helps. If upon search we find that we do not so 
trust in God as we should, let us lament our unbelieving hearts, complain 
to God of it, desire God, whatsoever he doth, that he would honour us so 
much as that we may honour him by trusting in him ; for it is his glory 
and our salvation. , 

* That is, ' expedients.'- Q. 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 9. 149 

But because I will not go out of the text, the best way is that which 
follows, to know God as he is. 

How come we to trust a man ? When we know his honesty, his fidelity, 
his wisdom, and his sufficiency, then we trust him. Therefore, St Paul 
adds here that we should ' trust in God that raiseth the dead,' that is, ' in 
God Almighty.' From whence I raise this general, that 

The best way to trust in God is to know him as he is. 

We know his attributes by his principal works. We know his nature by 
his works, as here is one of the principal set down, he is God * that raiseth 
the dead.' A sound, sanctified trust in God is by knowing of him. ' They 
that know thy name will trust in thee,' Ps. ix. 10. 

There are three ways of the knowledge of God : 

His nature, promises, and icorks — 

To know what he hath engaged himself in, in all the promises that con- 
cern us ; and then to know his strength, how able he is to make good these 
promises ; and then to know his works, how his nature hath enabled him 
to make good those promises. 

1. Especially his nature; as to consider his goodness and his wisdom. 
Every attribute, indeed, doth enforce trust, for he is good freely, he is good 
to us of his own bowels. We may trust him that hath made himself a 
Father, out of his own mercy in Christ, when we were enemies. His good- 
ness and wisdom is infinite as himself, and his power and his truth. As the 
Scripture saith ofttimes, ' Faithful is God that hath promised,' Heb. xi. 11. 

St Bernard, a good man in evil times, saith he, * I consider three things 
in which I pitch my hope and trust, charitatem adoptionis, the love of God 
in making me his child ; and veritatem promissionis, the truth of God in 
performing his promise. His love is such, to make me his child ; his truth 
is such, to perform his promise. Thirdly, I consider his power, that is 
able to make good that that he hath promised ' [w). 

This threefold cable is a strong one. His love in adoption, his truth in 
performing his promise, and his power in making good all this. This three- 
fold cable will not easily be broken. Let my sottish flesh murmur against 
me as long as it will. As the flesh will murmur, who art thou, that thou 
darest trust in God ? What is thy merit, that thou hopest for such great 
glory ? No, no, saith he ; ' I know whom I have believed,' 2 Tim. i. 12, 
as St Paul saith. I answer with great confidence against my sottish, mur- 
muring flesh, ' I know whom I have trusted.' He is able, he is good, he 
is true. This that holy man had to exercise his faith. 

I name it, because it is the temper of all believing souls that are so in 
truth. The believing heart considers the nature of God, the promise of 
God, and though the murmuring, rebellious flesh say. What art thou ? 
how darest thou that art flesh and blood look to God ? Oh ! he is faithful, 
he is good and gracious in Christ. He hath made himself a father. I 
know whom I have beheved. God is all-sufficient. 

Trust and confidence doth grow in the soul, in what measure and pro- 
portion the knowledge of him whom we trust in grows, and as his strength 
grows. The more rich and strong a man grows, in whom I trust, and the 
more gracious and good he grows, and the more my knowledge of him is 
increased with it too, that I see he is so able, so true, so loving a man, a 
man so affected to me, the more he grows, and my knowledge of him, the 
more my trust is carried to him. So a Christian, the more he considers 
the infiniteness of God's love, of his wisdom and goodness, the more he is 
carried in trust, and confidence to it. 



loO COMMENTARY ON 

Not to trouble you v/itli many places, the 42d Psalm is an excellent 
psalm for trust and confidence in God. The whole psalm is to that pur- 
pose, to stir up himself to trust in God ; for that follows knowledge ; 
when upon knowledge we rouse up our hearts. ' God is my rock, and my 
salvation, and defence.' Is he so ? Then, my soul, ' trust in God.' He 
chargeth it upon his soul, ' Therefore I will trust m God.' And then he 
blames his soul. Is God so ? Why art thou so disquieted, my soul ? ' 

This is the exercise of a Christian heart, when, upon sound knowledge, 
he can charge his soul to trust in God, and check his soul, ' Why art thou 
cast down ? Still trust in God.' Why dost thou not trust in him ? Is he 
not true ? Is he not wise ? He is the ' God of my salvation.' And in 
ver. 8, ' Trust in God at all times,' in prosperity, in adversity. Why ? 
' God is my refuge.' 

There he sets forth his nature. If our troubles be never so many, there 
is somewhat in God that is answerable ; as in Ps. xxviii. 7, ' He is a rock 
and a shield.' He hath somewhat in him that is opposite to every ill. 

And withal, ' pour out thy heart to God ; ' for where there is trust there 
is prayer. ' Trust in God at all times, and pour out thy heart before him, 
for he is our refuge.' 

And so, ' trust not in oppression and robbery. If riches increase, set not 
yoiu' heart upon them ; for God hath spoken once, and twice, that power 
belongs to God,' Ps. Ixii. 11. Trust not any other thing but God. Power 
and mercy belong to him. This is a notable way to trust in God, to know 
that power and mercy belong to him. If another man love me, hath not 
God another man's heart in his hand ? ' The king's heart is in his hand,' 
Prov. xxi. 1. Therefore trust in God for the favour of men. Hath he not 
all the power? That that another man hath that affects me, it is but a 
derived power fi'om him. He hath inchned him to do good to me. All 
mercy and love, it is from God ; and he turns and disposeth it as it pleaseth 
him. As it is the Scripture phrase, the language of Canaan, the heart is 
in God's hands ; he inclined the heart of such a man. The knowledge of 
God, with prayer and stirring up ourselves to trust in God, and checking 
our souls for the contrary, it is a notable means to trust in God, 

And though we feel no present comfort fi'om God, trust him for his word, 
trust him for his promise, though he seem now to be a God hidden. As a 
child in the dark he holds his father fast by the hand. He sees not his 
father, but he knows his father's hand is strong. And though he see him 
not, yet he believes it is his father, and holds him though it be in the dark. 

Men they cast anchor in the dark, at midnight. Though they cannot 
see, yet they know that the anchor will hold fast. Cast anchor upon God 
in darkness and temptation. Hold God fast in the dark night, although 
we see nothing. We shall alway find this, that he is a God able to fulfil 
his promise, that he is a true and faithful and able God. Cast anchor in 
him therefore. Though thou feel or see nothing, be sure in all extremities 
to trust in God, 

2. Besides other things, trust in God is properly and primarily wrought 
by the jnomises. Trust in God so far as he hath discovered himself to be 
trusted. I can trust a man no farther than I have a writing or a word of 
mouth from him, or a message from him. 

Now, what have we from God to trust him for ? We have his word 
written, and that is sealed by the sacrament. The way to trust in God, 
therefore, is to know tlu promises. 

(1.) The general promises that do concern aU Christians and all conditions 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 9. 151 

and estates of men. * God will be a sun and a shield ; ' a sua for all good, 
and a shield to keep away all evil. ' And no good thing shall be wanting to 
him that lives a godly life,' Ps. Isxxiv. 11. Again, general promises for 
issue. * All things shall work for good to them that love God,' Rom, viii. 
28. And, ' He will give his Spirit to them that ask him,' Luke xi. 13. It 
is a general promise to all askers whatsoever, that they shall have the 
Spirit of God, which is a promise that hath all particular graces in it. For 
the Spirit is the fountain of all grace. It is the Spirit of love, of faith, of 
hope. All are in the promise of the Spirit, and God hath promised this. 
Let us trust in God for these general things. 

(2.) And for particular promises. He hath made a promise to be * a 
husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless,' Ps. Ixviii. 5. He 
wiU ' regard the cause of the widow,' Ps. cxlvi. 9 ; and he is a God ' that 
comforteth the abject,' 2 Cor. vii. 6. He hath made promises to those 
that are afflicted, to all estates and conditions of men. Trust in God for 
these. 

But how 9 He hath made these with conditions in regard of outward 
things. Let us trust him so far forth as he hath promised, that is, he wiU 
either protect us from dangers or give us patience in dangers. He wiU 
give us aU outward things, or else contenknent, which is better. Take 
him in that latitude. Trust in him as he will be trusted to. For outward 
things, he will either give the things or give the gi'ace, which is better. He 
will either remove the grievance, or he will plant the grace, which is better. 
If he remove not the evil, he will give patience to bear it. And what do I 
lose if he give me not the good thing, if he give me contentment ? I have 
grace to supply it, which makes me a better man. 

If he give me the thing without the grace, what am I the better ? A 
carnal reprobate may have that. 

So let us trust him, as he will be trusted. For grace and spiritual 
things, all shall be for our good without fail ; but for the things of this 
life, either he will give them, or else graces. 

Let us trust God, therefore, as he will be trusted in his word and 
promises. 

Now this trusting of God (to speak a little to the present purpose, 
because St Paul was now in great affliction. When he learned to trust in 
God, he was in fear of death), let us see how we are to exercise this trust 
in great crosses, and in the hour of death. St Paul was in these two. 

The point is very large, and I wiU take it only according to the present 
scope. 

How doth a Christian exercise trust in extremity, in extreme crosses ? 
for then he must go to God ; he hath none else to go to. 

1. He is heaten frmn the creature; and, as I said before, the soul wiU 
have somewhat to go to. The poor creatures, the silly conies, they have 
the rocks to go to, as Solomon saith, Prov. xxx. 26. The soul that hath 
greater understanding, it is necessitated to trust in God in afflictions. Then 
the soul must say to God, ' Lord, if thou help not, none can,' as Jehosha- 
phat said in 2 Chron. xx. 12, ' We know not what to do, but our eyes are 
to thee.' In great afflictions we exercise trust, because we are forced. 

2. And because then we are put to this, we put the 'promises in suit, the 
promises made to us for extremity. 

(1.) He hath promised to be with us ' in the fire, and in the water,' Isa. 
xliii, 2. There is a promise of GocVs presence, and the soul improves that. 
Lord, thou hast promised to be present in great perils and dangers, as 



152 COMMENTAUY OS 

there are two of the gi'catest specified, fire and water. Thou hast promised 
thou wilt be present with us in the fire, and in the water. Now, Lord, 
make good thy promise, be thou present. And when God makes good this 
promise of presence, then the soul triumphs, as in Ps. xxiii. 4, ' Though I 
walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, because thou art 
with me, Lord.' So in Ps. xxvii. 1, he begins triumphantly, ' The Lord is 
my shield, whom shall I fear ? of whom shall I be afraid ? ' Let us exer- 
cise om' trust this way in extremity. ' God is with us, and who can be 
against us?' saith the apostle, Rom. viii. 31. Thus the Christian soul 
lives by trusting in God. In all extremity of crosses whatsoever, the soul 
is forced to God, and claims the promises of presence. 

And not only the promise of his presence, but 

(2.) The promise of support and comfort, and of mitigation. There is a 
promise in 1 Cor. x. 13, ' God is faithful, and will not sufier us to be 
tempted above our strength.' Here faith is exercised. Lord, I am in a 
gi'eat cross now, I am in affliction ; thou hast promised that thou wilt not 
suffer me to be tempted above that I am able to bear. 

Now make good this promise of thine, be present, and be present by 
way of mitigation ; either pull down the cross, and make it less, or raise 
up my strength, and make that greater. For thou hast promised that thou 
wilt not sufier us to be tempted above our strength. 

3. And then the soul lives hi/ faith of tJie issue in f/reat extremities. I am 
in great extremity, but I know all shall end well. Thus we trust in God 
in all extremity of afflictions whatsoever ; in the hour of death, when we 
receive the sentence of death, how do we then exercise trust in God ! In 
Ps. xvi. 9, ' My flesh shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not sufier thy 
Holy One to see corruption.' Because God did not suffer Christ to see 
corruption, who is om' head, therefore my flesh likewise shall rest in hope, 
when I die. Our Head triumphed over death, and is in heaven, and I die 
in faith; I trust in God that raised him from the dead, who was my Surety. 
I know my debts are paid ; my Surety is out of prison. Christ, who took 
upon him to discharge my debts, he is out of the prison of the grave, he is 
in heaven, therefore my flesh shall rest in hope. [We could not thus 
speak] if it were not for this, that Clirist were risen. When we have the 
sentence of death, we overlook the grave, we see ourselves in heaven, as 
David saith, ' I should utterly have failed, but that I looked to see the 
goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,' Ps. xxvii. 13. Then faith 
looks beyond death, and beyond the grave. It looks up, and with Stephen 
it sees Christ at the ' right hand of God,' Acts vii. 56. We see Chi'ist 
ready to receive our souls. 

Then we trust in God that raiseth the dead ; nay, we see ourselves, as 
it were, raised already. 

Use. Thus we see how ive should trust in God, in r/reat crosses, and in tlie 
sentence of death. This, in a word, should be another ground of patience, 
and not only of patience, but of contentment, in extreme crosses, in the 
hour of death, that all that God doth is for this, that we may exercise trust 
in him. And if the soul clasp to him, who is the fountain of life, the chief 
good, it cannot be miserable. But this it doth by trust. Our trust makes 
us one with him. It is that which brings us to God ; and afflictions, and 
death itself, force us to exercise faith in the promises, and drive us to him. 
So God hath overpowered all crosses, extreme crosses, even death itself, 
that he hath sanctified them to fit us to trust in him ; and who can be 
miserable that trusts in God ? 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP, I, VER. 9. 15L 

What construction should we make of crosses and afflictions ? Surely 
this is to take away false confidence ; this is to drive me to God. Shall I 
be impatient and murmur at that which Grod hath ordained to bring me 
nearer to himself, to trust in him, to take away all false confidence in the 
creature ? 

No ! This should cut the sinews of all carnal confidence, and make us 
patient and thankful in aU crosses ; because God now is seeking our good, 
he is drawing good out of these crosses. He labours by this to bring us 
nearer to himself. Blessed is that cross, blessed is that sickness, or loss 
of friends whatsoever, that brings us nearer to God ! Why doth God take 
away our dear friends ? That we might cling nearer to him, because he will 
have us to see that he is all-sufficient. 

What doth a man lose when he trusts in God, though he lose all the 
world ? Hath he not him that made the world at the first, and can make 
another if he please ? If a man lose all, and have God, as he hath that 
trusts in him, and in his word ; for God will not deny his word and truth. 
He that trusts in God hath him, and if he have him, what if he be stripped 
of all ? He can make another world with a word of his mouth. Other 
things are but a beam to him ; what need a man care for a beam, that hath 
the sun ? 

All the afflictions of this world are to draw or to drive us to God, whether 
we will or no. As the messengers in the gospel, to force the guests to the 
banquet with violence, Luke xiv. 23 ; so afflictions they are to force us to 
God. This blessed efiect they have in all God's children. 

But those that do not belong to God, what do they in the hour of death 
and in extremity ? They are either blocks, as Nabal was, senseless creatures ; 
or raging, as Cain, Ahithophel, and Judas ; either sots, or desperate in 
extremity. Saul in extremity goes to the witch, to ill means. David 
in aU extremity he goes to prayer, he goes to his rock and shield ; to God 
who was his ' all in all.' He knew all this was done to drive him to trust 
in God. ' Why art thou disquieted, my soul ? why art thou vexed in 
me? trust in God,' Ps. xlii. 11. All this is to make thee trust in God. He 
checks and chides his own soul. A child of God doth check himself. 
When his base heart would have him sink and fall down, and go to false 
means, then he raiseth himself up, ' Trust in God, my soul.' 

But such as Saul, proud, confident hj'pocrites, when all outward things 
are taken away, they go to the witch, to the devil, to one unlawful means 
or other, and at the last to desperate conclusions, to the sword itself. 

As we desire to have evidence of a good estate in grace, that we belong 
to God, so let us desire God that we may find him drawing us so near to 
him by all crosses whatsoever, that we may see in him a supply of whatso- 
ever is taken from us ; if we lose our friends, that we may trust God the 
more. As St Paul speaks of the widow, 1 Tim. v. 10, seq., when her 
husband was alive, she trusted to him ; but now she wants her former help 
to go to, she gives herself to prayer, she goes to God, she trusts in God. 
So it should be with all. AVlien friends are taken away we should go to 
God. He will supply that which is wanting. Those that are bereft of any 
comfort, now they should go to God. What do we lose by that ? We had 
the stream before, now we have the fountain. We shall have it in a more 
excellent manner in God than we had before. 

And that makes a Christian at a point in this world. He is not much 
discouraged whatsoever he lose. If he lose all, to his life, he knows he 
shall have a better supply from God than he can lose in the world. There- 



!l<)i COMMENTARY ON 

fore bo is never much cast down. Ho knows that all shall drive him 
nearer to God, to trust in God. As St Paul saith here, ' We received the 
sentence of death, that we might not trust in ourselves, but in God that 
raiseth the dead.' 

One means to settle our trust the better in God reconciled to us, in the 
covenant of gi'ace through Christ, his beloved, and our beloved, is the 
blessed sacrament. And therefore come to it as to a seal sanctified by God 
for that very pm-pose, to strengthen our tnist in God. How many ways 
doth God condescend to strengthen our trust ? because it is such an honour 
to him. For by trusting in him we give him the honour of all his attributes, 
"we make him a God, we set him in his throne, which we do not when we 
trust not in him. How many ways doth he condescend to strengthen our 
trust ! 

(1.) We have his promise, 'If we believe in him, we shall not perish, but 
have everlasting life,' John iii. 15. 

(2.) We have a seal of that promise, the sacrament ; and is not a broad 
seal a great confirmation ? If a man have a grant from the king, if he 
have his broad seal, it is a great confirmation. Though the other were 
good, yet the seal is stronger. So we have God's promise, and in regard 
of our weakness there is a seal added to it. 

(3.) If that be not enough we have more, we have his oath. He hath 
paw^ned his life. ' As I live, saith the Lord,' &c., Ezek. xviii. 32. He 
hath pawned his being. As he is God, he will forgive us if we repent. 
We have his promise, seal, and oath. Whatsoever among men may 
strengthen trust and faith, God condescends unto to strengthen our faith, 
because he would not have us perish in unbelief. 

(4.) Besides that, he hath given us earnest. A man's trust is strengthened 
when he hath earnest. Every true Christian hath a blessed earnest, that 
is, the Comforter. He hath the Spirit in him, the fii'st fruits. Where 
God gives an earnest, he will make good the bargain at the last. Where he 
gives the first fruits, he will add the harvest. God never repents of his 
earnest. Where ' he hath begun a good work, he wiU finish it to the day of 
the Lord,' Philip, i. 6. An earnest is not taken away, but the rest is added. 

(5.) And the same Spirit that is an earnest is also a pawn and plcchfe. 
We will trust any runagate, if we have a pawn sufficient. Now God hath 
given us this pawn of his Spirit. Christ hath given us his Spirit, and hath 
taken our flesh to heaven. Our flesh is there, and his Spirit is in our 
hearts, besides many evidences that we have in this life as pawns. 

Indeed, in extremity sometimes we must trust God without a pawn, 
upon his bare word. ' Though he kill me, yet will I trust in him,' saith 
Job, chap. xiii. 15 ; but God ordinarily gives us many pawns of his love. 

The sacrament is not only a seal of the promise, but likewise it hath an- 
other relation to strengthen our faith. It is a seizon (.*;), as a piece of 
earth that is given to assure possession of the whole. As a man saith, 
Take, here is a piece of earth, here is my land ; here are the keys of my 
house ; so in the promises sealed by the sacrament, here is life, here is 
favour, here is forgiveness of sins, here is life everlasting. What can we 
have more to strengthen our faith ? God hath condescended every way to 
strengthen us, if we will come in, and honour him so much as to trust him 
with our souls, and our salvation. Therefore let us come to the sacrament 
with undoubted confidence. God will keep his credit. He will not deceive 
liis credit. ' He will never forsake those that trust in him.' Ps. ix. 10. 
But to answer an objection. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YEP.. 9. lo5 

Obj. Oil ! all these are confirmations indeed, if I did believe and trust 
in God, but my heart is full of unbelief. Indeed all these are made to some 
that believe abeady in some measure. They have this seal, and oath, and 
earnest, and pawns, and first fruits, and all, if they believe ; but I cannot 
bring my heart to trust in God. 

Aus. What hinders thee ? 

I am a wretched creature, a sinful creature. 

Dost thou mean to be so still ? It is no matter what thou hast been, but 
what thou wilt be. The greater the sickness, the more is the honour of the 
physician in curing it ; the greater thy sins, the more honour to God in 
forgiving such sins. Retort the temptation thus upon Satan. God works 
by contraries, and whom ho will make righteous he will make them to see 
their sins ; and before he will raise us up he will make us rotten in our 
graves ; before he will make us glorious he will make us miserable. I 
know that God by this intends that I should despair in myself. God in- 
tends that I should despair indeed, but it is that I should despair in my- 
self, as the text saith here, that ' we should not trust in ourselves,' when 
we have a sight oi the vileness of our sins ; ' but in God that raiseth 
the dead,' that raiseth the dead soul, the despairing soul, that it should 
trust in him. Therefore retort the temptation upon Satan, because I 
see my sins, and despair in myself, therefore I trust in God, ' He that 
is in darkness and sees no light, let him trust in the Lord his God,' Isa. 
I. 10. 

Mark for thy comfort, the gospel calls men who in their own sense and 
feeling think themselves furthest off ; he that is poor, and sees his want, 
' Blessed are the poor in Spirit.' Mat. v. 3. But I have no grace. Oh that 
I had grace! 'Blessed are they that hunger and thirst,' Mat. v. 6. It 
thou mourn for thj' sins, ' Blessed are they that mourn,' Mat. v. 4. Thou 
findest a heavy load of thy sins, ' Come unto me all ye, that are weary, and 
heavy laden, and I will ease you,' Mat. xi. 28. The gospel takes away all 
the objections and misdoubtings oi the unbelieving heart, God is so willing 
to come to him. Therefore stand not cavilling, interpret all to the best. 
God will have us to despair in om'selves, that we may trust in him ; and 
then we are fittest to trust in God, when we despair in ourselves ; then we 
make God all in all. He hath righteousness enough, holiness enough, 
satisfaction enough, he hath all enough for thee. 

And for men that are not yet believers, how wondrously doth God labour 
to bring such men to a good hope ! K they yield themselves and come in, 
there is an offer to every one that ' will come in and take the water of 
life,' 

There is a command. He that hath commanded, * Thou shalt not mur- 
der. Thou shalt not steal,' he lays a charge on thee that thou believe, 1 
John iii. 23, ' This is his command, that we belicA'e in the Son of God.' And 
think with thyseli, thou committest a sin against the gospel, which is worse 
than a sin against the law ; for if a man sin against the law, he may have 
help in the gospel. But it he sin against the gospel there is not another 
gospel to help him. God offers thee comfort. He canimands thee to 
trust in him. And thou rebellest, thou offendest him, if thou do not be- 
lieve. 

Is not here encouragement, if thou be not more wedded to thy sinful 
course, than to the good of thy soul ? If thou mlt still live in thy sins, 
and wilt not trust in God, then thou shalt be damned. There is no help 
for thee if thou believe not, ' the wrath of God hangs over thy head^' Johii 



I-'jG commentary on 

iii. 3G. ' Thou art condemned already,' John iii. 18, by nature. If thou 
b^Heve not, thou needest no further condemnation, but only the execution 
of God's justice 

Naturally thou art bom the child of wrath, and God threateneth thee, to 
stir thee up, and to make thee come in. He useth sweet allurements, be- 
sides the commands and threatenings, ' Come unto me, all ye that are weary 
and heavy laden, and I will ease you,' Mat. xi. 28. And ' Why will ye 
perish, house of Israel,' Jer. xxvii. 13. And, ' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 
how oft, &c.,' Mat. xxiii. 37 ? God complains of thee, he allm-es thee, he 
sends his ambassadors. ' We are ministers in Christ's name to beseech 
you to be reconciled,' 2 Cor. v. 20, to come in, to cast down your weapons, 
your sins, to believe in God, and trust in his mercy, and to hope for all 
good from him. What should keep thee off ? He is willing to have thee 
believe. 

Olij. ' Oh, if I were elected,' &c. 

Trouble not thyself with dark scruples of his eternal decree ! Obey the 
command, obey the threatening, and put that out of doubt. If thou yield 
to the command, if thou obey the threatening, if thou be drawn by that, 
undoubtedly thou art the child of God. Put not in these doubts and jang- 
liugs, things that are too high for thee tiU thou believe. Indeed, when thou 
beliovest, then thou mayest comfort thyself ; I believe, therefore I know I 
shall be saved. ' Whom he hath chosen, them he calls ; and whom he calls, 
he justifies,' Eom. viii. 30. I find myself freed from the sentence of con- 
demnation in my heart, therefore I know I am called, I know I am elected. 
Then with comfort thou mayest go to those disputes. But not before a man 
obeys. Put those cavils out, and obey the gospel, when salvation is oftered, 
when Satan puts these things to thee, when thou art threatened and com- 
manded. 

How shall this justify God at the day of judgment against damned 
wretches, that have lived in the bosom of the church, and yet would not 
believe. They will believe after their own fashion ; if God will save them, 
and let them live in their sinful courses. But they will rather be damned 
than they will part with them. Are they not worthy to be damned ? judge 
thyself, that rather than they will alter their course, and receive mercy with 
it, rather than they will receive Christ, whole Christ, as a king and a priest, 
to rule them as well as to satisfy for them — they will gild over their wicked 
courses, and will have none of him at all. They will rather be damned than 
take another course ; their damnation is just. 

If thou take whole Christ, and yield to his government, he useth all means 
to strengthen thy faith after thou believest, and he useth all means to allure 
thee to believe. It is a point of much consequence, and all depends upon 
it. It is the sum of the gospel to trust in God, in Christ. Therefore I 
have been a little the longer in it. Till we can bring our hearts to this we 
have nothing. 

When we have this, then when all shall be taken from us, as it will ere 
long, all the friends we have, and all our comforts ; yet our trust shaU not 
be taken from us, nor our God in whom we trust shall be taken from us. 
We shall have God left, and a heart to trust in God. That will stand us 
iu stead when all other things shall fail. ' That we might not trust in our- 
selves, but in God which raiseth the dead.' 

These words have a double force in this place. 

First, St Paul might reason thus, I am brought to death, as low as I can 
be, even to receive the sentence of death ; but I trust in God, who will '•aioa 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. Ij VEE. 9. 157 

me when I am dead. Therefore he can raise me out of sickness. Though 
there be no means, no phj^sic, he can do it himself. Or if it were perse- 
cution, he might reason, I am now persecuted ; but God will raise me out 
of the grave ; therefore he can raise me out of this trouble if it be for my 
good. It hath the force of a strong argument that way. 

And it hath another force, that is, put case the worst, ' I received the 
sentence of death,' that is, if I die, as I look for no other, yet I trust that 
God that raiseth the dead, he will raise me ; the confidence of the resurrec- 
tion makes me die comfortably. As we sleep quietly, because we hope to 
rise again ; and we put our seed into the ground, with comfort. Why ? we 
hope to receive it in a more glorious manner in the harvest. So though my 
body be sown in the earth, it shall rise a glorious body. I trust in God, 
though ' I receive the sentence of death,' yet I shall sleep in the Lord. 
As when I go to sleep, I hope to rise again ; so I trust when the re- 
suiTection shall come, that my body shall waken and arise. ' I trust in 
God that raiseth the dead.' Because he raiseth the dead, he can recover 
me if he will. If not, he will make this body a glorious body afterward. 
So every way it was a strong argument with St Paul, ' I trust in God that 
raiseth the dead.' 

The apostle draws an argument of comfort from God's power in raising 
the dead. And it is a true reason, a good argument. He that will raise 
the dead body out of the grave, he can raise out of misery, out of captivity. 
The argument is strong. Thus God comforts his people in Ezek. xxxvii., 
in that parable of the dry bones that he put life in. So the blessed apostle 
St Paul, he speaks of Abraham, ' He looked to God who quickeneth the 
dead, who calleth things that are not, as though they were,' Rom. iv. 17. 
What made Abraham to trust in God, that he would give him Isaac again ? 
he considered if God can raise Isaac from the dead, if he please he can give 
me Isaac back again ; and though Isaac were the son of promise, yet he 
trusted God's word, more than Isaac the son of his love. Why ? He 
knew that God could raise him from the dead, though he had sacrificed 
him. He trusted in God, ' who quickeneth the dead.' 

Doct. The resurrection, then, is an argument to strengthen our faith in all 
miseries ichatsoever. 

It strengthens our faith before death, and in death. I will not enter into 
the common-place of that point concerning the resurrection ; it would be 
tedious and unjust, because it is not intended here, but only it is used as a 
special argument. Therefore I will but touch that point. 

Doct. God will raise us from the dead. 

Nature is more ofiended at this, than any other thing. But St Paul 
makes it clear, that it is not against nature, that God should raise the dead, 
1 Cor. XV. 85, seq. To speak a little of it, and then to speak of the use 
the apostle made of it, and of the use that we may make of it. Saith the 
apostle in that place, speaking to witty atheists, that thought to have cavilled 
out the resurrection from the dead. Thou fool, thou speakest against nature, 
if thou think it altogether impossible. 

Look to the seed, do we not see that God every spring raiseth things 
that were dead. We see in the silk- worm, what an alteration there is from 
a fly to a worm, &c. ? We see what men can do by art. They make 
glasses, of what ? Of ashes. We see what nature can do, which is the 
ordinary providence of God. We see what it can do in the bowels of the 
earth. What is gold, and silver, and pearl ? Is it not water and earth, 
excellently digested, exquisitely concocted and digested ? That there should 



lob COMMENTARY ON 

bo such excellent things of so base a creature ! We see what art and nature 
can do. If art and nature can do so great things, why do we call in ques- 
tion the power of God ? If God have revealed his will to do so, why do we 
doubt of this great point of God's raising the dead ? 

The ancients had much ado with the pagans about this point. They 
handled it excellently, as they were excellent in those points which they 
were forced to by the adversaries, and indeed they were especially sound in 
those points. I say they were excellent and large in the handling of this : 
but I will not stand upon that. It is an article of our creed, * I believe the 
resurrection of the body.'* Indeed, he that believeth the first article of the 
creed, he will easily believe the last. He that believes in ' God the Father 
Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,' he will easily beheve the resurrection 
of the body. 

But I will rather come to shew the use of it. God will raise the dead. 
Therefore, God's manner of working is, when there is no hope, in extremity, 
as I touched before. He raiseth us, but it is when we are dead. He doth 
his greatest works when there is least hope. So it is in the resurrection 
out of troubles, as in the resurrection of the body. When there is no hope 
at all, no ground in nature, but it must be his power altogether that must 
do it, then he falls to work to raise the dead. 

Use. Therefore our faith must follow his worhing. He raiseth the dead. 
He justifies a sinner. But it is when he is furthest from grace, a sinner 
despairing of all mercy. Then he hath the most need of justification. He 
raiseth the dead, but it is then when they are nothing but dust ; then it is 
time for him to work to raise the dead. He restores, but it is that which 
is lost. God never forgets his old work. This was his old manner of 
working at the first, and still every day he useth it, * he made all of nothing,' 
order out of confusion, light out of darkness. This was in the creation ; 
and the like he doth still. He never forgets his old work. This, St Paul 
being acquainted with, he fasteneth his hope and trust upon such a God as 
will raise the dead. Therefore make that use of it that the apostle doth. 
Wlaen the church is in any calamity, which is as it were a death, when it is 
as in that 37th of Ezekiel, ' dry bones,' comfort yourselves. God com- 
forted the church there, that he would raise the church out ol Babylon, as 
he raised those dead bones. The one is as easy as the other. So in the 
government of the church continually, he brings order out of confusion, light 
out 01 darkness, and life out of death, that is, out of extreme troubles. 
When men think themselves dead, when they think the church dead, past 
all hope, then he will quicken and raise it. So that he will never forget 
this course, till he have raised our dead bodies ; and then he will finish that 
manner of dispensation. This is God's manner of working. 

We must answer it with our faith, that is, in the greatest dejection that 
can be, to ' tnast in God that raiseth the dead.' Faith, if it be true, it will 
answer the ground of it. But when it is carried to God, it is carried to 
him that raiseth the dead. Therefore, though it be desperate every way, 
yet notwithstanding I hope above hope. I hope in him whose course is to 
raise the dead, who at the last will raise the dead, and stiU delights in a 
proportion to raise men from death, out of all troubles and miseries. 

Well ! this God doth, and therefore carry it along in all miseries whatso- 
ever, in soul, in body, or estate, or in the church, &c. 

God raiseth from the dead, therefore we must feel ourselves dead before 
we can be raised by his grace. What is the reason that a papist cannot be 

* Article XI.-G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAi^ I. YEil. 9, 159 

a good Christian? He opposetli his own conversion. "What is conversion? 
It is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the soul. But that which is 
raised must be dead first. They account not themselves dead, and there- 
fore oppose this resurrection. And so, when we are dead in grace or com- 
fort, let us trust in God that raiseth the dead. And so for outward condi- 
tion in this life and the estate of the church. 

The conversion of the Jews, which seems a thing so strange. When a 
man thinks how they are dispersed, and thinks of their poverty and dis- 
grace, he thinks, Is this a likely matter ? Kemember what God hath said, 
he will raise the dead. And because this is a work that seems as hard as 
the raising of the dead, therefore their calling and conversion is called a 
kind of resurrection, Rom. xi. 15. Let us hope for that. He that raiseth 
the body will raise that people, as despicable as they are, to be a glorious 
people and church. 

And so for the confusion of the ' man of sin.' The revelation of the 
gospel, when it came out of the gi-ave of darkness, out of the Egyptian 
darkness of popery, was it not a raising of the dead ? 

When Luther arose for the defence of the truth, a man might have said 
to him. What ! dost thou set thyself against the whole world ? Go to thy 
cloister, and say, ' Lord, have mercy upon us.' Dost thou hope to reform 
the world against all the world ? Alas !* he trusted in God ' that raiseth the 
dead,' that raiseth men to conversion when he pleaseth, and that raiseth 
the church when he pleaseth, even from death. He raised the church out 
of Babylon, and he will raise the Jews that now are in a dead state. Why 
should we doubt of these things, when we believe, or profess to believe the 
main, the resurrection from the dead ? 

And every day in the church God is raising the dead spiritually. The 
dead hear the voice of Christ every day. When the ministry is in power, 
when there is a blessing upon it, conveying it to the heart, then he is rais- 
ing the dead. So ' wisdom is justified of her children,' Mat. xi. 19. The 
gospel is justified to be a powerful doctrine, having the Spirit of God cloth- 
ing it, to raise people from the dead, those that are dead in sin. 

There are none that ever are spiritually raised, but those that see them- 
selves dead. And that is the reason why we are to abhor popery, because 
it teacheth us that we are not dead in ourselves, and then there can be no 
resurrection to grace ; for the resurrection is of the dead. The more we 
see a contrariety in nature to grace, the more fit objects we are for the divine 
power of God to raise. * He raiseth the dead.' 

Thus we see how to go along with this. In all troubles God will raise 
the dead, therefore he will bring me out of this trouble, if he see it good. 
Therefore in extremity let us thus reason with om-selves. Now I know 
not which way to turn me ; ' there is but a step between me and death,' 
1 Sam. XX. 3. If God have any purpose to use my service further, he 
that raiseth the dead will raise me from the grave ; ' to him belong the issues 
of death,' Ps. Ixviii. 20. He can give an evasion and escape if he will ; if 
not, if he will not deliver me, then I die in this faith, that he will raise me 
from the dead. 

This is that that upholds a Christian in extremity. This made the martyrs 
so confident. This made those three young men so resolute that w^ere cast 
into the fiery furnace. What was their comfort ? Surely this, God can 
deliver us if he will, say they. He is able to deliver us now ; but if he 

* 'Alas!' The peculiar use of this interjection by Sibbes has elsewhere been 
noted. It will be frequently met with thus used in the present volume. — G. 



IGO COMMENTARY ON 

will not do this for ns, he will raise our bodies. If he will not deliver them 
here, there will be a final deliverance at the resurrection. 

So in Heb. xi. 16, those blessed men, ' they hoped for a better resurrec- 
tion,' and this made them confident. 

This makes us confident to stand out against all the threatenings and all 
the crosses of the world, that we may hold our peace with God, notwith- 
standing all the enticements and allurements to the contrary, because we 
trust in God that raiseth the dead. 

Again, let us learn to extract contrary principles to Satan out of God's 
proceedings. What doth he reason when we are dead, either in sin or in 
misery ? WTaat hast thou to do with God ? God hath forsaken thee. 
No ! saith faith, God is a God raising the dead. The more dead I am in 
the eye of the world, and in my own sense, the nearer I am to God's help. 
I am a despairing sinner, a great sinner ; but the more, God will magnify 
his mercy, that ' where sin hath abounded, grace may abound much more,' 
Rom. V. 20. Retort home the argument, draw contrary principles to him. 
This is a divine art which faith hath. 

Oh, but then you may presume, and do what you list. 

Not so, retort the argument again upon him ; if I do so, God will bring 
me to death, he will bring me to despair ; and who is it that delights to 
have that course taken with him, to be brought so low ? So every way we 
may retort temptations from this dealing of God. K I be careless, he will 
bring me as low as hell. I shall have little joy to try conclusions with him. 

And if thou 1)C low, despair not, thou art the fitter object. God raiseth 
the dead, therefore I will not add to my sins legal. I will not add this 
evangelical sin, this destroying sin of despair and unbelief; but I will cast 
myself upon the mercy of God, and believe in him that raiseth the dead ; 
and desire him to speak to my dead soul, which is as rotten as Lazarus's 
body, which had been so long in the grave, that he would say to it, ' Come 
forth' of that cursed estate. It is but for him to speak the word, to bless 
his word, and then it will come out by faith. It is the art of faith to draw 
contrary arguments to Satan, and those that belong to God do so in all 
temptations. But those that do not, they sink lower and lower, having 
nothing to uphold their souls. They have not learned to trust in God that 
raiseth the dead. 

God is the God that raiseth the dead. Therefore let us oft think of 
this ; think what God means to do with us, that we may cany ourselves 
answerably, ' I trust in God that raiseth the dead.' Therefore let us honour 
God while we live, with that body that he will raise ; let us be fruitful in 
our place. St Paul draws this conclusion, 1 Cor. xv. 58, fi-om the resun-ec- 
tion, ' Finally, my brethi'en, be constant, unmoveable, alway abounding in 
the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.' 
Especially considering that he will raise the dead bodies after a more 
glorious manner than they are now, he will make a more glorious body. 
For alway God's second works are better than his fii'st. He raiseth the 
dead, and will make our bodies like the glorious body of Christ. 

But the point of the resurrection is very large, and perhaps I shall have 
better occasion to speak of it afterward. I only apply it to the present 
purpose, how it strengthens faith in misery and in the hour of death. 

A man is strengthened in his faith when he thinks, now I am going 
* the way of all flesh,' Josh, xxiii. 14, I am to yield my soul to God, and 
death is to close up mine ej'es ; yet I have trusted in God, and do trust 
in God that will raise my body from the grave. This comforts the soul 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YER. 10. 161 

against tlie horror of the grave, against that confusion and darkness that 
is after death. 

Faith seeth things to come as present, it sees the hody, after it hath a 
long time been in the dust, clothed with flesh, and made like the glorious 
body of Christ. Faith sees this, and so a Christian soul dies in faith, and 
sows the body as good seed in the groimd in hope of a glorious resurrection. 

And that comforts a Christian soul, in the loss of children, of wife, of 
friends, that have been dearest and nearest to me. I tnist ' in God that 
raiseth the dead,' that he will raise them again, and then we shall all be for 
ever with the Lord. It is a point of singular comfort. For the main 
articles of our faith they have a wondrous working upon us, in all the 
passages of our Uves. It is good to think often upon the pillars of our 
faith, as this is one, * that God will raise us from the dead.' 

But I go on to the next verse. 



YEESE 10. 

* Who delivered us from so great a death, who doth deliver us; in ivhom 
tve trust that he idll yet deliver us.' St Paul sets down his troubles to the 
life, that he might make himself and others more sensible of his comforts, 
and of God's grace and goodness in his deliverance. These words contain 
his deliverance out of that trouble, his particular deliverance out of a par- 
ticular trouble. And this deliverance is set down by a triple distinction of 
time. As time is either past, present, or to come ; so God, who is the de- 
liverer for all times, ' he hath delivered us ' for the time past, ' he doth de- 
liver us ' for the present, ' in whom we trust that he will deliver us ' for the 
time to come. 

Who delivered us from so great a death.' After St Paul had learned to 
trust in God, after he had taken forth that lesson, a hard lesson to leam, 
that must be learned by bringing a man to such extremity, I say, after he 
had learned ' to trust in God that raiseth the dead,' God gave him this re- 
ward of his diligence in the blessed school of afflictions. He delivered him, 
' who hath delivered us, and who doth deliver us ' continually. He will 
not take his hand from the work, and for the time to come I hope he will 
do so still. 

St Paul here calls his trouble a death. It was not a death properly. It 
is but his aggravation of the trouble that caUs it a death ; because God's 
mercy only hindered it from being a death. It was only not a death. It 
was some desperate trouble, some desperate sickness. The particular is 
not set down in the Scripture. We know what a tumult there was about 
Diana of Ephesus, Acts xix, and in 1 Cor. xv. 32, ' He fought with beasts 
at Ephesus (which is in Asia), after the manner of men.' Whether 
it were that, or some other, we know not. Whatsoever it was, he calls it a 
death. He doth not call it an afiliction, but a death ; and a great death, 
to make himself the more sensible. 

Wherefore have we souls and understandings, but to exercise them in 
setting forth our dangers, and the deliverances of God ? to consider of 
things to affect us deeply ? The apostle here to affect himself deeply, he 
sets it down here by a death. 

And ofttimes in the Psalms, the psalmist in Ps. xviii. 4, and Ps. xi. 6, 
he calls his afllictions death and hell, and so they had been indeed, except 

VOL. III. L 



1G2 COMITENTARY ON 

God had delivered him. But to come to the points that are considerable 
hence. First of all we may observe this, that 

God, till he have ivrought his own icork, he doth not deliver ; he brings men 
to a low ebb, to a very low estate, before he will deliver. 

Secondly. After God hath wrought his otcn work, then he delivers his 
children . 

Thirdly, He continues the work still, ' he doth deliver me.' 

Fourthly. That upon experience of God's former deliverance, God's children 
have founded a blessed argument for the time to come. 'He hath, and he 
will deliver me.' God is alway hke himself. He is never at a loss. What 
he hath done, he doth, and will do, reserving the Hmitations, as we shall 
see afterward. 

l)oct. 1. God doth not at the first deliver his children. 

He delivered St Paul, but it was after he had brought him to ' receive 
the sentence of death,' and after he had learned not to trust in himself, but 
' in God that raiseth the dead.' God defers his deUverance for many 
reasons. To name a few. 

Reason (1). God doth defer his deliverance when we are in dangers, 
partly, as you see here, to perfect the ivork of mortification of self-confidence, 
to subdue trust in any earthly thing. St Paul by this learned not to trust 
in himself. 

2. And then to strengthen our faith and confidence in God; when we 
are dra^vn from all creatures to learn to trust in him. 

3. And to sweeten his deliverance when it comes, to endear his favours ; for 
tLon they are sweet indeed, after God hath beat ns out of ourselves. 
Summer and spring are sweet after winter. So it is in this vicissitude and 
intercourse that God useth. Favour after affliction and crosses, is favour 
indeed. That makes heaven so sweet to God's children when they come 
there, because they go to heaven out of a great deal of misery in this 
world. 

4. And partly likewise God defers it for his own glory, that it may be 
known for his mere work ; for when we are at a loss, and the soul can 
reason thus, God must help or none can help, then God hath the glory. 
Therefore in love to his own glory he defers it so long. 

5. Again, he useth to defer long, that he might the more shame the 
enemies at length ; for if the affliction be from the insolency and pride of the 
enemies, he defers deliverance, till they be come to the highest pitch, and 
then he ariscth as ' a giant refi-eshed with wine, and smites his enemies in 
the hinder parts,' Ps. Ixxviii. 66. He is as it were refreshed on the 
sudden. And as it is his greatest glory to raise his children when they 
are at the lowest ; so it is his glory to confound the pride of the enemies 
when it is at the highest. If he should do it before, his glory would not 
shine so much in the confusion of them, and their enterprises against his 
children. One would think he should not have lot Pharaoh alone so long ; 
but he got him glory the more at the last, in confounding him in the Red 
Sea. So Haman came very far, almost to the execution of the decree he 
had gotten by his policy and malice ; and then God delivered his church 
and confounded Haman. These and the like reasons may be given to 
shew that God in heavenly and deep wisdom doth not presently deliver his 
children. 

Use. The proper use of it is, that we should learn not to be hasty and 
Bhort-spirited in God's dealing, but learn to practise that which we are often 
enjoined, to wait on God, to wait his good leisure. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 10. 163 

Especially considering that whicli is the second point, let that satisfy us, that 

Doct. 2. After God hath dove his imrk, he will deliver. 

Let us wait, for he will deliver at length. Perhaps his time is not yet 
that he will deliver ; but usually when all is desperate, when he may have 
all the glory, then he delivers. He delivered the three young men, but 
they were put into the fire first, and the furnace was made seven times 
hotter, that he might have the glory in consuming their enemies. So he 
delivered Hezekiah in his time, but it was when the enemy was even ready 
to seize upon the city, Isa. xxxvii. 14, seq. He promised St Paul that not 
one man should perish in the ship, but yet they sufiered shipwreck, they 
went away only with their Uves, Acts xxvii. 24, 44. God doth so deliver 
his, that he doth not sufier them to perish in the danger. 

Use. Therefore let us stay his time, and ivait. It may be it is not God's 
time yet. 

When shall we know that it is God's time to deliver, that we may wait 
with comfort ? 

(1.) God knows his own time best ; but usually it is when we are brought 
very loiv, and when our spirits are low. When we are brought very low, 
both in regard of human support, and in regard of our spirits, when we are 
humble, when om' souls ' cleave to the dust,' Ps. cxix. 25. ' Help, Lord,' 
for we are brought very low. ' Help, Lord, for vain is the help of man,' 
Ps. Ix. 11. 

When the church can plead so, it is a good plea. When we are at the 
lowest, and the malice of the enemy is at the highest, when the waters 
swell, ' Help, Lord, for the waters aa-e come into my very soul,' Ps. Ixix. 1 ; 
when we are very low, and the enemies very high, as we see in Pharaoh ; 
and so in Herod, when he was in the height of his pride, when he was in 
all his glory, God takes him there. 

Thus God delivers his, and confounds his enemies. I join them both 
together, for the one is not commonly without the other. The annoyance 
of God's children is from their enemies. Therefore when he delivers the 
one he confounds the other. When the malice of the one is at the highest, 
and the state of the other is at the lowest, and their spirits are afflicted and 
cast down with their estate, then is the time when God will deliver. 

(2.) Again, when our hearts are enlarged to j^ray, when we can pray from 
a broken heart. As you see here, he joins them together. God will deliver 
me, but it must be by your prayers. When we have hearts to pray, and 
when others have hearts to pray for us, that is the time of deliverance. 
Usually there goes before deliverance an enlarged heart to pray to God, as 
we see in Daniel, chap, ix., a little before they came out of Babylon, he had 
a large heart to pray to God. And when we can plead with God his 
promise, ' Remember, Lord, thy promise wherein thou hast caused us to 
trust,' Ps. cxix. 49 ; when we can cast ourselves upon God's mercy with 
prayer, and plead with God to remember his promise, it is a sign God 
means to deliver us. When the heart is shut and closed up, that it cannot 
speak to God, when there is some sin or other that doth stifle the spirit, 
that it cannot vent itself with that liberty to God, it is a sign that it is not 
the time yet of God's deliverance. 

God will at the length deliver. Therefore from both these, that he doth 
defer deliverance, and that he will deliver at length, let us infer this lesson 
of waiting ; let us wait therefore, and wait with comfort. Let us remember 
these principles. 

First, God hath a time, as for all things, so for our deliverance. 



164 COMMENTARY ON 

Secondly, that God's time is tlie best time. He is the best discemer of 
opportunities. 

Thirdly, remember that this shall be when he hath wi'onght his work 
upon our souls, specially when he hath made us to trust in him. As here, 
when St Paul had learned to trvist in God, then he delivered him. And 
why should we desu'e to do our bodies good, or om* estates good, till God 
hath wrought his cure on our souls ? for God intends our souls in the first 
plaice. Our souls, they are the whole man, in a manner. The welfare of 
the soul di'aws the welfare of the body, and the welfare of the estate after 
it. The body shall do well, if the soul do well. 

Therefore we should desire rather that the Lord would let the aifliction 
stay, than that it should part without the message for which God sends it. 
Every affliction is God's messenger. We should desire the Lord to let it 
staj for the answer for which he hath sent it. 

And indeed, it will never part without the answer for which God sends 
it, till it have humbled us, till it have brought us to trust in God, till we be 
such as we should be. And a Christian soul rather desires to be in the 
furnace, to be under the affliction, to be purged better yet, than to have the 
cross and affliction removed, and not to be a whit the better for it. There- 
fore, considering that there will be a time, and that God's time is the best 
time, and that this time will be when he hath fitted us, we should learn to 
wait in any cross, and not to be over hasty. 

Again, consider, though the time be long, yet he will deliver at length by 
death. Death will end all miseries. 

And consider, that how long soever we endure anything, yet what is that 
that we endure here, to that that we are freed fi'om by Christ ? We are freed 
from misery, from all misery, from the wrath of God, from damnation. 
And what is that that we can sufier here, to the glory and joy that remains 
for us in heaven ? What is all that we can suffer here, to that that Christ 
hath endm'ed for us ? What is all that we can endure here, to that that 
we have deserved ? Considering, then, what we are delivered from, what 
God hath resex'ved for us, what Christ hath endured, and what we deserve, 
it will make us wait, and wait with patience. Especially considering, as I 
said before, that God is working his good work for our good. Though we 
at the first, perhaps, for a while do not see the meaning of the affliction, 
the meaning of the cross, we cannot read it perfectly, yet in general we 
may know it is for our good. God of his infinite wisdom will not sufi'er a 
hair to fall from our heads, without his providence. ' And all shall work 
together for the best to those that love him,' Rom. viii. 28. 

It is long then, we see, ere God deliver ; and why ? and at the last he 
will deliver one way or other ; and therefore let us wait quietly. And this 
the saints of God have practised in all ages. ' Yet, my soul, keep silence 
to the Lord,' Ps. Ixii. 5. He had a shrewd conflict with himself, when he 
saw how good causes were trampled on, and he saw the insolence of wicked 
persons, how they lift up their heads, ' Yet, my soul, keep silence to the 
Lord.' So he begins, 'Yet God is good to Israel,' Ps. Ixxiii. 1, for all this. 
And God chargeth it upon his people that they should wait, ' If I tarry, 
wait thou,' Hab. ii. 2. And the blessing is promised to those that can 
wait and not murmur, as in Ps. cxlvii. 11. It is a duty that we are much 
urged to, and very hardly brought to the practice of. Therefore we are to 
hear it pressed the more, ' The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, 
in those that hope in his mercy,' Ps. cxlvii. 11, in those that trust in his 
mercy. 



I 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 10. 165 

The like you have in many places : ' Therefore will the Lord wait, that 
he may be gracious to you ; therefore he will be exalted, that he may have 
mercy upon you : he is a God of judgment, blessed are all that wait for 
him,' Isa. xxx. 18. So in Lam. iii. The church still waits upon God. 

How oft doth David charge himself, ' Wait, and trust in God, my soul,' 
Ps. xlii. 5. Let us learn this upon these gi'ounds, that God is long ere he 
deliver, but at last he will deliver ; and that is sufficient to force this, to wait 
stiU upon God with patience and silence. 

Well, thus we see God doth deliver, ' who deKvered us,' &c. What will 
he do for the time present ? He hath delivered, and doth deliver, and he 
will deliver. From all jointly together, you see that 

Doct. God's people in this world stand in need of deliverance alway. 

They have always troubles. When one is past, another is present. 
Deliverance supposeth dangers. 

1. There have been dangers, there are dangers, and there will be dangers. 
Our life is a warfare, a temptation. We are absent from God. We are 
alway exposed to dangers. We live in the midst of devils and of devilish- 
minded men. We have corruptions in us that expose us to sin, and sin 
draws on judgments. We are alway in danger one way or other while we 
live in this world. But our comfort is, that as there have been dangers, 
and are dangers, and will be dangers ; so there hath been deliverance, there 
is deliverance, and there will be deliverance. It is a trade that God useth. 
It is his art. ' God knoweth how to deliver his,' as St Peter saith, 2 Peter 
ii. 9. He hath alway exercised it, he is excellent at it. He hath delivered 
his church, he doth deliver his church, and he will deliver his church ; and 
so every particular member, he hath, and doth, and will deliver them. 

Wonderful is the intercourse that God useth with his people and their 
estate. Even as in nature there is a change and intercourse of day and 
night, of light and darkness, of morning and evening, of summer and 
winter, of hot and cold ; so in the life of a Christian there are changes, 
dangers, and deliverances. There is a * sowing in tears, and a reaping in 
joy,' Ps. cxxvi. 5. There is a night of affliction, and a morning of joy and 
prosperity : ' Heaviness may be in the evening, but joy cometh in the morn- 
ing,' Ps. xxx. 5. 

And thus we go on till we end our days, till we be taken to heaven, 
where there shall be no change, where ' aU tears shall be wiped from our 
eyes.' 

If we had spiritual eyes, eyes to see our danger, to see how full the 
world is of devils ! And then to consider how many dangers this weak life 
is subject to, how many casualties ! We cannot go out of doors, we can- 
not take a journey, but how many dangers are we subject to ! We are en- 
vironed with perpetual dangers. The snares of death compass us almost 
everywhere, abroad and at home, in our greatest security. 

But our comfort is, that God doth compass us with mercy, as it is, Ps. 
xxxii. 6. As dangers are round about us, so God is a ' wall of fire about 
us.' We have dangers about us, devils about us. We have a guard about 
us, we have God about us, we have angels about us, we have all his crea- 
tures about us. ' All things are yours,' saith the apostle, 2 Cor. iv. 15, &c. 

It is God that hath .delivered us, that doth deliver us. Who restrains 
the devils from having their wills of us ? They are enemies not only to 
our souls and to our salvation, but to our bodies. They are enemies to 
our health, as we see in Job. We live in the midst of lions ; ofttimes in 
the midst of enemies. Who restrains their malice ? We are preserved 



166 COMMENTARY ON 

from dangers day and night. Who shuts in the doors, who watcheth over 
us, but he that keeps Israel ? It is God that dehvereth us. Without his 
deliverance all deliverances were to little purpose. All shutting in were to 
little pm-pose, except he shut us in that shut Noah into the ark. He must 
watch over us. It is God that dclivercth us. 

But doth he deliver us only outwardly ? 

2. No ! He hath delivered, and he doth deliver, ns spiritualhj. He hath 
delivered us from the power of hell and damnation. He doth deliver us 
from many sins that we should commit ; and when we have sinned, he 
delivers us from despair. He delivers us from presuming, by touching our 
hearts with saving grief for sin. If we belong to him, one of the two ways 
he dehvers ; either from the sin or from the danger of the sin ; either from 
the committing of the sin, or from despairing for the sin, or presuming in 
a course of sin. 

Who dehvereth us from our inbred corruptions ? Should we not run 
every day into the sins that we see others commit ? Who cuts short our 
lusts, and suppresseth them, that we are not swearers, that we are not 
licentious persons, that we are not godless persons ? Are we not hewn out 
of the same rock '? Who keeps us from sin ? Is it any inbred goodness ? 
Are we not all alike tainted with original sin, children of wrath ? Who 
puts a difierence between us and others ? It is God that hath delivered 
us, and that doth deliver us. 

It is his mercy that we do not commit sin, it is his preventing deliver- 
ance ; and when we have committed sin, it is his mercy to pai'don it. 
There is his preserving deliverance from despair after the committing of sin. 

All are beholden to God for deliverance. Those that have committed 
sin, that he delivers them from the wrath, to come, from the damnation 
that they deserve ; and those that have the grace not to commit sin, they 
are beholden to him, that he delivers them from that which their coiTup- 
tions else would carry them to, if he should take his government from their 
hearts. 

We have an inward guard as well as an outward, an invisible guard, ' We 
are kept by the Spirit of God through faith to salvation,' 1 Pet. i. 5. We 
have a guard that keeps us from despair, from sinking. God dehvereth us 
from ourselves by this inward guard. There is not the vilest atheist that 
lives, but let God open his conscience, and let loose himself upon himself, 
to see what he deserves, to see what he is ready to sink into, if he see not 
God's mercy to deliver him, if he see not an intercessor, a mediator to 
come between God and him, what would become of him ? Therefore saith 
St Paul in Philip, iv. 7, ' The peace of God which passeth all understand- 
ing shall "guard " your hearts and minds ; ' for so the word is in the original, 
' shall guard your hearts and minds.' * 

We have not only a guard outward, but we have a peace in us, the Spirit 
of God, the strengthening power of God, the sight of the love of God. God 
delivers us, as from all others, so from ourselves. Judas had no enemies. 
God let him loose to himself. What became of him ? Ahithophel had no 
enemy. God let him loose to himself too ; and then we see what a des- 
perate conclusion ho came to. 

So, whosoever thou art that comtemnest religion, that makest anything 

of greater moment and respect than that, if thou hadst not an enemy in the 

world, but all were thy friends, as Judas had all to be his friends. The 

Pharisees were his friends. He had money of them. But God opened 

* See note k, vol. i. p. 334.— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 10. 167 

his conscience, and he could not endure the sight of it. It spake bitter 
things to him, when God opened an inward hell in his conscience. So 
God doth deliver us outwardly and inwardly, and the inward is double ; 
partly from despair, partly from the rage of corruptions, as I said before. 
Is it not God that ties up our corruptions ? There is such a world of sin 
in the heart of a man, as often he finds the experience of it, when he meets 
with a fit temptation to his disposition, that God's childi-en complain of 
themselves that the sins of their hearts have deceived them. So God 
delivers men from the rage of lusts. He ties up their corruptions, and 
delivers them fi-om them. And when we fall, and are ready to despair for 
them, he deHvers us from despair. He doth deliver, he is perpetually 
dehvering. It implies that we alway stand in need of deliverance. 

Therefore, we should alway look up to God. He is the breath of our 
nostrils ; ' In him we Hve, and move, and have our being,' Acts svii. 28. 
In him we stand, and in him we are delivered in the midst of all our enemies. 
It should stir up our hearts thankfully to depend upon God. He that hath 
delivered us, he doth deliver us. If he should not continue his deUverance, 
we should be continually in extreme danger. 

* Who hath delivered us, and doth deliver tis,' Sc. A Christian is never 
in so great perplexity but God is dehvering of him, even in trouble. So 
the church saith, Lam. iii. 22, ' It is God's mercy that we are not all con- 
sumed.' 

The church was in a pitiful estate then. One would have thought they 
were as low as almost they might be. Yet, notwithstanding, the Spirit of 
God in those blessed men that hved in those times, they saw that they 
might have been worse than they were ; and they saw that there was some 
danger from which they were deUvered, ' It is thy mercy that we are not aU 
consumed.' God delivered them from extremity. 

Nay, in troubles God doth deliver so as there may be a distinction, for 
the most part, between his and others. * When I gather my jewels, it shall 
be known who serves me, and who serves me not,' Mai. iii. 17. God con- 
tinually delivers, more especially at some times. 

As we say of providence, providence is nothing but a continued act of 
creation. And it is true. The same power that created all things of 
nothing, the same power sustains all things. God upholds all things with 
his right hand. 

For even as it is with a stone which is upheld by a man's hand, let him 
withdraw his hand, and down it falls. So naturally all things, as they are 
raised out of nothuag, so they will fall to their first principles except they 
be sustained by that continual act of creation which we call providence, to 
mamtain them in the order wherein they were set at the first. So there is 
a continual act of deliverance till we be delivered out of all troubles, and set 
in a place where there shall be no more annoyance at all, either from within 
us or without us. God doth still deliver. 

Use. Oh ! let this move us to a renounce* of the eye and majesty of the 
great God, of the presence of God. Who will willingly provoke him of 
whom he stands in need to deliver him ? 

Let God withdraw his deliverance, his preventing deliverance, or his 
rescuing deliverance. For, as I said, there is a double deliverance. He 
prevents us from trouble, he delivers us that we do not fall into it ; and 

* That is, ' renunciation.' And yet this can hardly be what Sibbes intended here. 
Query, does he use it etymologically, as = to report, and by inference, recognise ? — G, 



1G8 COMMENTAKY ON 

when we are fallen into it he rescues ns. If God should not thus dehver 
us, there is no mischief that any others fall into but we should fall into the 
Lke were it not for his preventing deliverance. 

As St Austin saith well, A man that is freed from sin ought to thank God 
as well for the sins that he hath not committed as for the sins that he 
hath had forgiven ; for it is an equal mercy that a man fall not into sin as 
for his sin to be pardoned. And so for troubles too. It is God's mercy 
to prevent troubles as well as to dehver out of trouble when we are 
fallen into it. 

"Who would not reverence this great God ? What miscreant wretches 
are they that inure their tongue to swearing, to tear that majesty, that if he 
should withdraw his deliverance and protection from them, what would be- 
come of them ? 

Where there is perpetual dependence upon any man, how doth it enforce 
reverence and respect even amongst men ? It is atheism, therefore, for 
men to inm'e their tongues to speak cursed language, to inure their hearts 
to entertain profane thoughts of God, and to neglect the consideration of 
his m.'ijesty. Holy men in Scripture are said to walk with God, that is, to 
have God in then- eye in all times, in all places, as he had them in his eye 
to delight in them, to prevent troubles, and to deliver them fi'om troubles 
when they were in them. 

We should take notice of God's special providence in this kind, that God 
by deliverance often gives us our lives, and it should teach us to consecrate 
our lives to God, ' who doth deliver us.' 

^In ivhom we Jiojw,' or trust, or have affiance, * that he will yet deliver iis.* 
The holy apostle doth take in trust here the time to come. He speaks 
as if he were assured of that as of anything past ; and he doth found his 
hope for the time to come upon that which was past and present. As he 
saith in Eom. v. 4, ' Experience breeds hope,' so it doth here in the blessed 
apostle, ' He hath delivered, and he doth deliver,' and why should I not 
trust in so good a God for the time to come ? I hope he will deliver me. 
And surely so may we do. 

Doct. A Christian nun/ rehj on God for the time to come. 

Upon what ground, upon what pillars is this confidence built of the holy 
apostle ? 

1. Upon the name of God, the name of his nature, ' Jehovah,' * I am,' 
which signifies a constant being, ' I was, I am, and am to come.' 

There was danger, there is danger, and there will come danger. There 
was a God, there is a God, and there will be a God, Jehovah, I am. If 
there be a flux, a perpetual succession of ill, there is a perpetual being and 
living of the living Jehovah. So Christ is proved to be Jehovah, because 
he calls himself, liev. i. 8, ' He that was, and is, and is to come,' Jehovah, 
alway like himself. 

Now, if God be Jehovah, alway like himself, then if he have delivered, 
if he doth deliver, he will deliver. He is I AM in himself. 

2. Now, as his name is, so is his nature and properties. He is ' I AM ' 
in his love to his church. He is alway in the present tense. ' Whom he 
loves, he loves to the end,' John xiii. 1. He is unchangeable. ' I, the 
Lord your God, change not ; therefore, you are not consumed,' Mai. iii. 6. 
The reason why, notwithstanding our many provocations of him, that we 
are not consumed, it is because his love to us is unchangeable. Though 
we are up and down, ' he cannot deny himself,' 2 Tim. ii. 13 ; and there is 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I. VEK. 10, 169 

the foundation of our comfort, that though we change oft, yet he never 
changeth. There is no outward thing can change him ; for then that were 
God, and not he. There is no inward thing can change him ; for then he 
were not perfectly wise. So there is nothing either in himself or in the 
creatures that can change God. He is alway like himself. Therefore, this 
is a ground of confidence for the time to come. 

3. Likewise his covenant and j^yoviise. The covenant that he hath made 
with his children is an everlasting covenant, that he w^ill be their God to 
death, and for ever ; and the gifts and graces of God, his inward love, they 
are without repentance, and their union with Christ is an everlasting 
union. 

4. And also eiVjjerience built upon these grounds, that God is Jehovah. 
What he hath done he will do ; and his properties are answerable to his 
name ; he is unchangeable, and his promise and covenant are unchangeable. 
Therefore, experience from the time past comes to be a good argument from 
these three grounds : because he is Jehovah, ' I AM ; ' and because he is 
unchangeable, being Jehovah ; and because his covenant is everlasting, be- 
cause he is unchangeable. 

For the foundation of all comfort is the name and being of God, 
Jehovah. From his being, issue and flovv' his properties, and they are like 
him unchangeable and eternal, and from his properties comes that to be 
unchangeable that comes from him, his word, and promise, and covenant. 
Considering then that his name and being is such, that his properties are 
such, that his covenant is such, issuing from his natm-e and properties, 
experience then of trust in the love and mercy of God, is an unanswerable 
argument against all temptations. He hath loved, he doth love, and he 
will love ; he hath delivered, he doth deliver, and he will deliver, and will 
' preserve us to his heavenly kingdom,' 2 Tim. iv. 18. 

It is a good argument that God that is Jehovah, that God that is 
unchangeable, that God that is in covenant with me, that is my God, and 
T his, that God oi whom I have had experience for the time past, that he 
hath been my God. WTiy should I doubt for the time to come ? Unless I 
will call in question the very being of God, the very properties of God, 
and the truth of God in his covenant, and overturn all, I may as well trust 
him for the time to come, as for the time present ; ' He hath delivered me, 
he doth deliver me, and he will deliver me.' 

Ohj. But it may be objected, God doth not deliver alway, and therefore 
it seems not to be a current truth. How doth God deliver his children, 
when we see how they miscarry in troubles and persecutions, both the 
church in general and particular Christians, as there be many instances. 
It seems God doth not deliver his. They die martyrs. St. Paul himself 
died a bloody death. Therefore, how is this true that we may build a 
certain confidence upon it, ' he hath delivered, he doth deliver, and he will 
deliver ? ' 

Ans. I answer, we must take it in the latitude, this deliverance. 

1. God delivers them so as stands with their desires to be delivered ; for 
there may cases come wherein God's children will not be delivered, as we 
see the three young men when they were cast into the fire, they would not 
be delivered out of the fire, but they were delivered in it. And so in Heb. 
xi. 35, there is a notable example. ' Tender women receive their dead 
again raised to life, and others likewise were tortured, and would not 
accept of deliverance.' They would have none upon ill terms. So some- 
times God doth not deliver his children, no, nor they will not be delivered, 



170 



COMMENTARY ON 



because perhaps their deliverance is promised upon ill terms ; that they 
may redeem their lives if they will by denying God and religion ; an ill 
bai'gain (cc). 

2. Again, I answer that howsoever God doth not deliver his from trouble, 
yet he delivers them in trouble, as in Isaiah xliii. 2, he promiseth to be 
with them, and to deliver them in ' the fh'e, and iu the water.' 

God did not keep the martyrs out of the tire, but God was with them 
in the fii-e, and in the water, to support them by the inward fire of his 
Spu'it, that they might not be overcome of the outward fire and flame. So 
God delivers them in trouble, though not out of trouble. 

There is an open deliverance visible to the world, and a secret, inward, 
invisible deliverance. There is an open glorious deliverance, as we see in 
the deliverance of the three young men, and many other examples. And 
there is an invisible deliverance, which is only felt of them, and of God, 
Avho delivers them. He delivers them in the inward man. He delivers 
them from the ill of troubles, from sin and despair ; that they put not their 
hands to sinful courses. He supports them inwardly with comfort, and 
supports them inwardly in a course of obedience. And that spiritual, 
inward deliverance is the best, and that which God's people more value 
than deliverance out of trouble. He doth not deliver them from suffering 
ill, he delivers them from doing ill, as in that notable place, 2 Tim. iv. 17, 
18, 'I was delivered out of the mouth of the hon, and the Lord shall 
deliver me from every evd work.' He doth not say, God shall deliver me 
from death, and from suflering evil works of tyrants ; no, but he shall deliver 
me from carrying myself unseemly and unbefitting such a man as I am, 
that I may not disgrace my profession. ' He shall deliver me from every 
evil work.'' And that is that which the saints and martyrs and all good 
people desire, that God would deliver them, that they may not sink in their 
minds, that they despair not, that they carry not themselves uncomely in 
troubles, but so as is meet for the credit of the truth which they seal with 
their blood {dd). ' He hath delivered me, and he will deliver me from every 
evil work.' And what saith he afterwards ? ' He shall preserve me to his 
heavenly kingdom.' 

He doth not say, he shall presei-ve me from death. He knew he should 
die. But, ' he shall preserve me to his heavenly kingdom.' So put the 
case that God do not deliver //ohi death, yet he delivers hij death. 

There is a partial deliverance, and a total deliverance. There is a 
deliverance from this and that trouble, and there is a deliverance from all 
troubles. God delivers us most when we think he delivers least ; for we 
think how doth he deliver his children when we see them taken away by 
death, and ofttimes are massacred ? 

That is one way of delivering them. God by death takes them from all 
miseries. They are out of the reach of their enemies. Death delivers 
them from all miseries of this Ufe, both inward of sin, and outward of 
trouble. All are detennined in death. Therefore, God when he doth not 
dehver them from death, he delivers them by death, and takes them to his 
heavenly kingdom. 

God oft-times delivers his by not delivering them out of trouble ; for 
when he sees us in danger of some sin, he delivers us into trouble to deliver 
us from some corruption. Of all evils God's children desire to avoid the 
delivering up to themselves, and to their own lusts, to their own base 
earthly hearts, to a dead heart. He delivers them into trouble therefore to 
deliver them from themselves. 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 10. ' 171 

God will deliver us for the time to come, so that we depend upon him, 
and humble ourselves, and be like ourselves. When God delivereth us at 
the first, it may be we are hke oui-selves, but perhaps afterward we grow 
prouder, and self-confident, and wiU not do that we formerly did. There- 
fore, God sometimes though he put us in hope of deliverance, yet he will 
not deliver us, because we are not prepared, we are not thoroughly humbled. 
As we see in Judges xx. There the Israelites were to set on the Benjamites. 
They go the fii'st time, and had the foil.- They go the second time, and 
are foiled. The third time they set on them with fasting and prayer, and 
then they had the victory. 

What was the reason they had it not at the first time ? They were not 
humbled enough ; they did not flee to God, with fasting and prayer. It 
may be there is some sin, some affection unmortified, of revenge and anger. 
When God hath subdued that, and brought it under, and brought us to 
fasting and prayer, then God will deliver us ; as at the third encounter they 
carried away the victory. When we have not made our peace with God, 
we may come the first and second time, and not be delivered ; but when 
we are thoroughly humbled, and brought low, then God will deliver us. 

And then, we must know that alway these outward promises have a 
reservation to God's glory, and our eternal good. ' God hath delivered 
me,' and he doth, and will deliver me, if it may stand with his glory and 
my good. And therefore the soul saith to God, with that reserved speech 
of him in the gospel. Lord, ' if thou wilt, thou canst heal me,' Mat. viii. 2. 
If thou wilt, thou canst deliver me. If it be for thy glory, and my eternal 
good, or for the church's good, thou wilt do it. And neither the church 
nor the particular members of the church, desire deliverance upon any 
other terms. But when it may be for the glory of God, and for the church's 
good ; when they may be instrumental by long life to serve God, and to 
serve the church ; and when it is for their own advantage to gather further 
assurance of their salvation, then he hath, and doth, and will dehver still. 
This is enough to build the confidence of God's children upon, for their 
deliverance for the time to come. 

God will deliver his church and children, and he will deliver them out of 
all. He will ' deliver Israel out of all his troubles,' Ps. xxv. 22. He will 
not leave a ' horn or a hoof,' as Moses said, Exod. x. 26. He will not 
leave one trouble. He will deliver us at the last out of all, and advance 
us to his heavenly kingdom. His bowels will melt over his church and 
children ; he is a father, and he hath the bowels of a mother. This may 
serve to answer all objections that will arise in our hearts, as indeed we 
are ready to cavil against divine truths and comforts ; especially in the time 
of trouble and temptation, our hearts are full of complaints and disputes ; 
therefore I thought good to answer this. 

But what is the argument of the apostle here ? Especially experience ; 
' He hath delivered, he doth deliver, and he will deliver me.' 

Doct. As God will delirei: his church for the time to come, so this is one 
main, argiiment that he will do it, experience of fonner favours and deliverances. 

This St Paul useth familiarly, ' I was delivered out of the mouth of the 
lion,' and ' the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and preserve 
me to his heavenly kingdom,' 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18 — a blessed arguing. So 
David argues, ' God delivered me from the bear and the lion, and therefore 
he will deliver me from this uncircumcised Philistine,' 1 Sam. xvii. 37. 

So Jacob pleads, that God would deliver him fi-om Esau. He had hat) 
* That is, = ' defeat." — Gr. 



172 



COMMENTAKY ON 



experience of God's mercy till then, and therefore he trasted that God 
would deliver him from Esau. 

It is a good argument, to plead experience to move God to care for us 
for the time to come. 

It was used by the Head of the church, by the body, the church, and 
by eveiy member of the church. 

1. It was used by the Head, Ps. xxii., which is a psalm made of 
Christ, ' I was cast on thee fi'om my mother's womb, therefore be not far 
from me.' 

It was typically true of David, and it was true of the Son of David. 

2, So the church pleads with God in divers places, in Isa. li. 2, God 
calls to his people to make use of former experience. ' Look to Abraham 
your father, and to Sarah that bare you,' &c. Look to former times, ' to 
the rock whence jon were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you 
were digged.' He that was your God then, is your God now. ' Look to 
Abraham, your father,' and from thence reason till now. So in Isa. Ixiii. 7, 
' I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord, and the praise of the Lord, 
according to the great goodness of the Lord bestowed upon us.' ' In all 
their afflictions he was afflicted,' &c. He speaks of former experience: 'In 
love he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.' So in Ps. xliv. 1, 
' Our fathers have told us ' this and this. So both the Head of the chm-ch 
and the chui'ch itself, plead vsdth God from former experience, and God 
calls them to former experience : ' Remember the rock whence you where 
hewn.' And he upbraids them, because they forgat the works done to 
their fathers, in Ps. cv., and divers others. He objects to them that they 
did not make use of God's former favours, ' They forgot their Saviour, that 
had done great things in Egypt,' &c., Ps. cvi. 11, 12. They forgat his 
former favours. And in the 13th verse of that psalm, ' They soon forgat his 
works, and waited not for his counsel.' 

And so it is with every particular saint of God. They have reasoned 
from experience of God's favours, from the time past to the time to come. 
The Psalms are full of it. Among the rest, ' I remembered the daj'S of 
old, and meditated on all thy works ; I mused on the works of thy hands,' 
Ps. cxliii. 5. And in Ps. cxvi. 3, ' The sorrows of death,' (as the apostle 
saith here, ' I was delivered from so great a death,') ' the sorrows of death 
compassed me, the pains of hell took hold on me. I found sorrow and 
trouble. I cried unto the Lord : Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 
The Lord preserveth the simple : I was brought low, and he helped me.' 
What doth he build on that ? ' Return unto thy rest, my soul ; the 
Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. Thou hast delivered my soul from 
death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.' What will he do 
for the time to come ? ' I will walk before the Lord in the land of the 
living.' Thus we see how we may plead with God, as the psalmi&t doth 
excellently in Ps. Ixxi. He goes along with God there from the beginning 
of his days, in verse 5. * Thou hast been my hope. Lord, and my trust 
from my youth ; by thee I have been held from the womb ; thou tookest me 
out of my mother's bowels : my praise shall be continually of thee.' What 
doth he plead from this now, when he was old ? In verse 9, ' Cast me not 
oil" in the time of my old age ; forsake me not when my strength faileth.' 

Why ? Thou hast been my God from my youth ; thou hast held me 
from the womb : therefore cast me not off in my old age, forsake me not 
when my strength faileth. So he pleads with God, verse 17, ' Lord, thou 
hast taught me from my youth ; now when I am old and grey-headed, 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEB. 10. 173 

forsake me not, till I have shewed thy strength to this generation, and thy 
power to every one that is to come.' 

Thus we see how the Spirit of God in his children makes a blessed use 
of former experience, to reason with God for the time to come ; and it will 
afford us arguments in all kinds. We may reason from former spiritual 
favours to spiritual favours. As for instance, God hath begun a good work 
in us, therefore ' He will finish it to the day of the Lord,' Phil, i, 6. ' His 
gifts and graces are without repentance,' Eom. xi. 29. And we may reason 
from spiritual favours past to all favours to come that are of a lower nature, 
Rom, viii. 32, ' He that spared not his own Son, but gave him to death for 
us all, how shall he not with him give us all things ? ' It is a strong 
reason. He hath done the greater, therefore he may well do the less. We 
may reason from one favour to another. Thus, from temporal to temporal. 
He hath delivered me, therefore if it be for his glory and my good he 
will deliver me. We may reason from once to all of the like, Ps. xxiii. 1, 
' God is my shepherd,' &c. ' He hath been with me in the valley of death,' 
ver. 4. He hath shewed himself to be my shepherd in all my troubles. 
What doth he build on that, for the time to come ? ' Doubtless the loving- 
kindness of the Lord shall follow me all the days of my life,' ;ver, 6. 

Use 1. This should teach us then, this holj^^ practice, to laij iqy observa- 
tions of God's deaUng, and to take them as so many pawns and pledges to 
move God for the time to come to regard us. It is wondrous pleasing to 
him. It is no argument to prevail if we come to men, to say, you have 
done this for me, therefore you will ; because man hath a finite power 
which is soon drawn dry. But God is infinite. He is a spring. He can 
create new. What he hath done he can do, and more too. He is where 
he was at the first, and will be to the end of the world. He is never at a 
loss. Therefore it is a strong argument to go to God, and say, 'Lord, thou 
art my God from the womb,' thou hast delivered me from such a danger, 
and such an exigence. When I knew not what to do, thou madest open a 
way. I see by evident signs it was thy goodness, thou art alway like thy- 
self, to be the same God now. Therefore we should treasure up observa- 
tions of God's dealing with us. 

Use 2. And consider with them the promises, and see how God hath made good 
his promise by experience, and then join both together, and we may wrestle 
with God. Lord, thou hast promised thus and thus, nay, I have had the 
performance of this promise in former times. And now I stand in need 
of the performance of that promise which before I have had experience of. 

Use 3. And desire God hij his Spirit to sanctify our memories, that we may 
remember fit deliverances, and fit favours, that when the time shall come we 
may have arguments from experience. What is the reason that we sink in 
temptation ? that we are to seek when troubles come ? It is from base- 
ness of heart, that though God have manifested his care and love to us by 
thousands of experiments,* yet we are ready upon every new trouble to 
call all into question, as if he had never been a good God to us. This is 
base infidelity of heart ; and our neglecting to treasure up blessed experi- 
ments of God's former favour. 

It should be the wisdom of every Christian to be well read in the story 
of his own life, and to return back in his thoughts what God hath done for 
him, how God hath dealt with him for the time past, what he hath wrought 
in him by his Holy Spirit. Let us make use of it, both in outv/ard and in 
inward troubles, in disconsolations of spirit, and in inward desertions ; let 
* That is, ' experiences.' — G. 



174 COMMENTAKY ON 

US call to mind what good soever hatli been wi-ouglit in us, by such a 
means, by such an ordinance, by such a book, by such an occasion. 

Let us call to mind how effectually God hath WTOught in us in former 
times, and make use of this in the midst of the hour of dai-kness, when God 
seems to hide his face from us. 

I see not the sun in a cloudy day, yet notwithstanding the sun is in the 
sky still. At midnight we hope for the morning. The morning wiU un- 
doubtedly come, though it be midnight for the present. So David com- 
forted himself in Ps. Ixxvii. 11, ' I will remember the works of the Lord; 
surely I will remember thy wonders of old, I wiU meditate of all thy works, 
and talk of thy doings,' &c. See his infirmity. When he was in trouble 
of mind, his sins began to upbraid him that God had left him. * I said in 
my infirmity, God hath forgotten me, &c., and hath God forgotten to be 
gracious ? hath he shut up his tender mercies in clispleasure ? then saith 
he, this was my infirmity, but I will remember the years of the right hand 
of the Most High,' &c. And the same he hath in many other places, as 
Ps. cxliii. 4, 5. 

It argues the great weakness of our nature, which is ready to distrust 
God upon every temptation of Satan, as if God had never dealt gi'aciously 
with us, as if God were changeable like ourselves. Let us labour to sup- 
port ourselves in the time of temptation with the former experience of 
God's gracious goodness, and his blessed work upon our souls. He that 
delivered us from the power of Satan, and keeps us fi'om him still, that we 
sink not into despair, he will keep us for the time to come, so that ' neither 
things present, nor things to come,' as the apostle saith, ' shall be able to 
separate us from the love of God in Christ,' Rom. viii. 35. And let us, 
as it were, make diaries of God's dealing to us. This is to be acquainted 
with God, as Job speaks. Job xxii. 21 ; this is to walk wdth God, to observe 
his steps to us, and ours to him. It is a thing that will wondrously 
strengthen our faith, especially in old years, in gray hairs. What a com- 
fortable thing is it when an aged man can look back to the former part of 
his life, and can reckon how God hath given him his life again and again ! 
how God hath comforted him in distress ! how God hath raised him up 
in the midst of pei-plexity, when he knew not which way to turn him, how 
God comforted him when he was disconsolate ! All these meeting together, 
in our last conflict, when all comfort will be little enough, what a comfort 
will it be ! 

And those that disfumish themselves by their negligence and carelessness 
of such blessed helps, what enemies are they to their own comfort ! 

Therefore consider God's dealing, remember it, observe it, think of it, and 
desire God's Spirit to help your minds and memories herein, that nothing 
may be lost. For, I say, all will be httle enough, the comforts of others, 
our own experience, the promises of Scripture, our hearts are so ready to sink, 
and to call in question God's truth, and Satan will ply us so in the time of 
temptation. 

Especially those that are old and grow into years, they should be rich in 
these experiments, and able even to have a story of them. We should be 
able to make a book of experiments from our childhood. God's care to 
every man in particular, it is as if there were none but he, and there is no 
man that is a Christian but he observes God's ways to him, that he can 
say, God cares for me as if he cared for none but me. Let us, therefore, 
treasure up experiments. We see one notable example in David, how he 
pleads with God, Ps. Ixxi. 3, from his fonner experience, ' Be thou my 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 10. 175 

habitation, wherein I may continually rest : thou hast given command to 
save me ; for thou art my rock and my fortress.' Whatsoever is comfort- 
able in the creature, God hath taken the name of it to himself, that in all 
troubles we might fly to him as the grand deUverer ; for it is he that de- 
livers, whatsoever the means be, whether it be angels or men. It is he 
that sets aU on work. Therefore he is called a ' rock' and a * fortress,' &c. 

* Thou hast given command to save me,' Ps. Ixxi. 3, that is, God hath the 
command of all creatures. He can command the fish to give up Jonah. 
He can command the devils to go out. Christ did it when he was on 
earth in the days of his flesh. Therefore much more now he is in hea- 
ven. He can command winds and storms, and devils and all troubles. 
He hath the command of all, as he saith to Elias, ' Behold, I have com- 
manded a widow to feed thee,' 1 Kings xvii. 9. ' The hearts of kings 
are in his hand, as the rivers of waters,' Prov. xxi. 1. He that com- 
mands the creatm^es can command deliverance, ' Thou hast commanded 
to save me,' for the time past. What doth he say for the time to come ? 

* Deliver me, God, from the wicked : thou art my hope and trust from 
my youth, &c. Cast me not off in mine old age ; when my strength faileth 
me, forsake me not.' It is a good argument, * Thou hast been my God 
from my mother's womb, therefore cast me not off in my old age.' 

Well ! we see here the practice of God's children in aU times. Let it be 
a pattern for our imitation, that we * do not forsake our own mercy,' as Jonah 
saith, ii. 8. 

When God hath provided mercy, and provided promises to help us with 
experience, let us not betray all through unbelief, through base despair in 
the time of trouble. If we had but only God's promise that he will be our 
God, that he will forgive our sins, were not that enough ? Is it not the 
promise of God, of Jehovah, that is truth itself? But when he hath sweet- 
ened his promise by experience, and every experience is a pledge and an 
earnest of a benefit to come, what a good God have we, that is content, not 
only to reserve the joys of heaven for us, but to give us a taste, to give us 
the assurance and earnest of the time to come, and, besides his promise, to 
give us comfortable experience, and all to support our weak faith ! 

But remember withal that this belongs only to God's children, and in a good 
cause. For wicked men to reason thus, ' He hath, and therefore he wiU,' 
it is a dangerous argument. They must not trust former experience. We 
must hope that God will continue as he hath been, upon this gi'ound, that 
we are his, or else the ground of the ruin of wicked men is presumption 
that God will bear with them as he hath done. ' The king of Sodom ' and 
his people were rescued out of trouble by Abraham and the army that he 
raised ; yet they were pitifully consumed, not long after, by fire from hea- 
ven. Pharaoh was delivered by Moses's prayer. God delivered him fi'om 
ten plagues. They made not a good use of it, and they perished after 
miserably in the Red Sea. Rabshakeh comes and tells of the former pros- 
perity of Sennacherib, ' Where are the Gods of Hamath and Arpad,' &c. 
2 lungs xviii. 34. Hath not my lord overcome all ? Aye, but it was im- 
mediately before his reign.* Herod, he prospered, and had good success in 
the beheading of James, and therefore he would set upon Peter. He 
thought to trust to his former success. He was flushed in the execution of 
James. He thought God hath given me success, and blessed me in this. 
He thought God was of his mind, as it is, Ps. 1. 21, ' Thou thinkest me to 
be like thyself,' thou thinkest I hate those that thou hatest, that are my 

* Qu. ' ruin ? '—Ed. 



176 COMMENTARY ON 

dear children. Therefore Herod presumed to go on and lay hold on Peter. 
But the church falls a-prajdug, and God smites Herod with a fearful death. 
He was eaten up with lice, with worms bred in his body, Acts xii. 23. 

So I say it is no good argument to say, I have prospered in wicked courses, 
I do prosper, and therefore I shall prosper. I have gotten a great deal of 
goods hj ill means, and I have kept such ill company ; and though some 
mislike my courses, yet I hope to-morrow shall be as to-day, &c. Take heed, 
bless not thyself. ' God's wrath will smoke,' Dent. xxix. 20, against such. 
' Treasure not up -wrath unto thyself against the day of wrath,' Rom. ii. 5. 
Argue not so upon God's patience. It is an argument for God's children. 
He hath been my God, he is my God, and he will be my God. It is a 
sophism else for others, and as the prophet Amos saith, ' He that hath 
escaped the lion shall fall into the hands of the bear,' v, 19. So the 
wicked that escape one danger shall fall into another at length. It is no 
good argument for them to hope for the like of that they have had. 

Nay, rather it is the worst outward sign in this world of a man in the 
state of reprobation, of a man hated of God, to prosper and have security 
in ill courses. God blesseth him, and lets him go on in smooth courses. 
As the streams of Jordan go on smooth and still, and then enter into the 
Dead Sea ; so many men live and go on in smooth, easy courses, and we see 
at length they either end in despair, as Judas, or in deadness of heart, as 
Nabal. So that of all estates it is the most miserable when a man lives in 
a naughty course, and God interrupts him not in his course with some out- 
ward judgment. It is a reason only for the children of God to support them- 
selves with, in a good cause, wherein they walk with a good conscience. Then 
they may say truly, God, that hath been my God till now, will be my God 
to the end of my days. 

Use. Is God so constant to his children in his love, and in his fatherly 
care and providence, that whom he hath delivered, he doth deliver and will 
deliver ? Let its be constant in our service, and love hack again. Let us 
return the echo back again, and say, I have served God, I do serve God, 
and I will serve God ; because he hath loved me, he doth love me, and he 
will love me. He hath delivered me, he doth deliver me, and he will de- 
liver me. As he is constant in love to me, so will I be constant in respect, 
in reverence and obedience to him. 

Therefore we see the saints of God, as God loves them from everlasting 
to everlasting, being Jehovah, as he never alters in his nature, so not in 
his love to them ; so they never alter in their love to him. Therefore it is 
a clause in Scripture expressed by holy men, ' To whom be praise for ever,' 
Ps. cxi. 10. As they knew that he was their God for ever and for ever, 
so they purposed to be his people, and to praise him for ever and for ever. 
And because they cannot live here alway themselves, they desire that there 
may be a generation to praise him for ever and for ever, and they lay a 
plot and ground so much as they can, that God's name may be known, 
that religion may be propagated for ever. They know God is their God for 
ever. They know he is constant in love to them, and they are constant in 
their love to him, and for his glory, ' To whom bo glory for ever.' 

See here the happiness of a true Christian that is in covenant with 
God ; he can say, I have had my happiness and my portion, I have it, and 
I shall have it for ever. Take a worldling, can he say so ? He cannot. 
God will confound his insolence if he should say so. I have been rich, I 
have prospered in my course, I have attained to this and that means, T yet 
thrive, and I shall thrive, Aye, is it so ? No ! Thou bulkiest upon the 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 11. 177 

sands. Howsoever God hath done, and howsoever he doth, thou canst not 
secure thyself for the time to come. Only the Christian that makes God 
his rock and his fortress, his shield and strong tower of defence, he may 
say he hath had that which is certain, he enjoys that which is immutahle 
and constant. God is his portion, his eternal portion. He hath been good, 
he is good, and he will be good to eternity. No man else, that hath a severed 
happiness out of God, can say so. 

A sound Christian, take him in all references of time, he is a happy 
man. If he look back, God hath delivered him from Satan, from hell and 
damnation, and many dangers. If he look to the present, he is compassed 
about with a guard of angels, and with the providence of God. God doth 
dehver him. He hath a guard about him that cannot be seen but with the 
eye of faith. The devil sees it well enough, as we see in Job, ' Thou hast 
hedged him about,' Job i. 10. How can I come to him ? He looked 
about to see if he could come into Job, to see if the hedge had any breach, 
but there was none. God's providence compassed him about. God hath 
and doth deliver. And if he look to the time to come he will dehver, he 
seeth that ' neither things present, nor things to come, shall be able to 
separate him from the love of God,' Rom. viii. 38. 

And this is not only true of outward dangers, but especially in spiritual. 
God hath been gracious. He hath given Christ. ' How shall he not with 
him give us all things ? ' Rom. viii. 32. A Christian is in the favour of 
God now, how shall he be - so for ever ? He hath eternity, world without 
end, to comfort himself in, that God, as long as he is God, he hath com- 
fort. As long as he hath a soul, so long Jehovah, the hving God, will be 
his God, both of his body and soul. He is the ' God of Abraham,' there- 
fore he will raise his body. He is the God ' that raiseth the dead,' and he 
will for ever glorify both body and soul in heaven. 

Look which way he will, a Christian hath cause of much comfort. Why 
should he be dismaj'ed with anything in the world ? AVhy should he not 
serve God with all the encouragement that may be, when he hath nothing 
to care for but to serve him ? As for matter of deliverance and protection, 
it belongs not to us, but to him. Let us do that that belongs to us, and 
he will do that that belongs to him, if ' we commit our souls to him as to a 
faithful Creator in well-doing; he hath delivered us, he doth deliver us, and 
he will dehver us, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.' 



YERSE 11. 

* You also helping together hy prayer for us* In these words the holy 
apostle sets down the subordinate means that God hath sanctified to con- 
tinue deliverance to his children. ' He hath delivered, he doth deliver, and 
he will deliver us for the time to come.' Was this confidence of St Paul a 
presumption without the use of means ? He will deliver us, * you also 
helping together by prayer for us.' The chief cause doth not take away 
the subordinate, but doth estabhsh it. And though God be the great 
deliverer, and ' salvation belong to the Lord,' Ps. iii. 8, as the Scripture 
speaks, salvation and deliverance it is his work ; yet notwithstanding he 
hath, not for defect of power, but for the multiplication and manifestation 
of his goodness, ordained the subordinate means of deliverance ; and as he 
will deliver, so he will deliver in his own manner and by his own means. 
* Qu. ' not be ?'— G. 

VOL. III. M 



178 COMMENTAEY ON 

He will deliver, but yet notwithstanding you must pray : ' you also helping 
together by prayer for us.' 

The words have no difficulty in them, * you helping together,' that is, 
you together joining in prayer with me. I pray for myself, and you to- 
gether helping me by prayer, God will deliver me. 

The points considerable in these words are these : — 

First of all, that in the time of peril, or in the want of any benefit, the 
means to be delivered from the one, and to convey the other, it is j^rayer. 
God will do this, ' you praying.' 

The second is this, that God's children can pray for themselves. 

The third is, that notwithstanding, though they can pray for themselves, yet 
they require* the joint lielp of others, and they need the help of others. 

The fourth is, that our aim prayers, and the jjrayers of others joining all 
together, is a mighty 2^revailing means for the conveying of all good, and for 
the removing of any ill. God will ' deliver me, you helping by your prayers.' 

Doct. Prayer is a means to convey all good, and to deliver from all ill. 

Because God hath stablished this order, ' Call upon me in the day of 
trouble, and I will deliver thee,' Ps. 1. 15. He joins deliverance to calling 
upon him. SoinPs. xci. 15, a notable place; besides others. Indeed, the 
psalms are wondrous full in this kind. ' He shall call upon me, and I will 
answer him ; I will be wdth him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honour 
him.' Mark it, ' He shall call upon me, and I will deliver him ; ' and 
more than so, for God's benefits are complete, he doth not only deliver, but 
he honours, ' I will deliver him, and advance him,' Ps. xci. 15. God doth 
not only dehver his children by prayer, but he ' delivers them from evU 
works, and preserves them to his heavenly kingdom.' He delivers them 
and advanceth them together. He doth not do his work by halves. ' The 
eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their 
cry,' Ps. xxxiv. 15. His eyes are upon them, to see their miseries and 
wants. Aye, but though his eyes be open, his ears must be open too, to 
hear their cry. If his eyes were open to see their wants, if his ears be not 
open to hear their cry, his children might be miserable still. 

Sometimes God delivers wicked men. He preserves them. But the 
preservation of a wicked man is but a reservation of him for future judg- 
ment, to feed him for the slaughter ; and that deliverance is not worth the 
speaking of. But for his children, his eyes are open on them, and his ears 
to hear their cry. As they be in misery that he sees them, so they must 
cry that he may hear them. God hath stablished this order. He will 
deliver, but prayer is the means. 

Now, the reason that he hath established this order, 

It is for his glory [and] our own good. 

Eeasonl. It is for his own glory; because prayer gives him the glory 
of all his attributes. For when we go to him, do we not give him the glory 
of his omniscience, that he Imows our hearts and knows our wants ? Do 
we not give him the glory of his omnipotence, that he can help us ? Do we 
not give him the glory of his omnipresence, that he is everywhere ? Do we 
not give him the gloiy of his truth, that he will make good his promise 
which we allege to him and press him with ? What a world of glory hath 
God by prayer. 

Reason 2. And then /or our sakes he hath established this order to con- 
vey all by prayer, to 

(1.) Shew our dependence on him. For we being in such a low distance 
* That is, = « seek.'— G. 



2 COPJNTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 11. 179 

under God, it is good that we should know from whom we have all. There- 
fore, he will have us to pray to him. He commands it. Prayer is an act 
of self-denial. It makes us to look out of ourselves higher. Prayer acknow- 
ledgeth that we have that which we have, not of ourselves, but from him. 
Prayer argueth a necessary dependence upon him to whom we pray ; for if 
"we had it at home, we would not go abroad. 

(2.) And then, again, it doth us good, because, as it gives God all the 
glory, so likewise it exerciseth all the graces in a man. There is not a grace 
but it is put into the fire, it is quickened and kindled by prayer. For it 
sets faith on work to believe the promise. It sets hope on work to expect 
the things prayed for. It sets love on work, because we pray for others 
that are members of the church. It sets obedience on work, because we 
do it with respect to God's command. Prayer sets humility on work. We 
prostrate ourselves before God, and acknowledge that there is no goodness 
or desert in us. There is not a grace in the heart but it is exercised in 
prayer. 

The devil knows it well enough, and therefore of all exercises he labours 
to hinder the exercise of prayer, for he thinks then we fetch help against 
him; and, indeed, so we do. For in one prayer God is honoured, the church 
is benefited, grace is exercised, the devil is vanquished. What a world of 
good is by prayer ? So that God hath established this order upon great 
reasons, fetched from our own comfort and good, and from his glory. 

Since God hath established this order, away with idle suggestions, partly 
carnal and partlj' devilish. God knows what we want, and God knew 
before all time what we have need of, and he may grant it if he will. Aye, 
but that God that decreed, at the same time that he decreed to convey good, 
at the same time he decreed to convey it this way by prayer. Therefore, 
let us not disjoin that which God hath joined. Christ knew that God de- 
creed all, and yet spent whole nights in prayer. And who knew God's love 
more than he ? Yet because as he was man he was a creature, because as 
he was man he received good from his Father, to shew his dependence 
he continually prayed, he sanctified ever}i,hing by prayer. And all holy 
men of God from the beginning, the more certain they were of anything by 
promise, the more eager, and earnest, and fervent they wei-e in prayer. It 
was a ground of prayer. They knew that this was God's order. Therefore, 
if they had a promise, they turned it into prayer presently. 

The means of the execution of God's decree, and the decree itself of the 
thing, they fall under the same decree. When God hath decreed to do 
anything, he hath decreed to do it by these means. So prayer comes as 
well within the decree as the thing prayed for. In Ezek. xxxvi. 37, ' I will 
do this, but I will be inquired of by the house of Judah.' I will do it, but 
they shall ask me, they shall seek to me first. So there is a notable place, 
Phil. i. 19, ' I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your 
prayers.' We must not, then, so reason as to make the chief cause to take 
away the subordinate means; but let us serve God's purpose and providence, 
let us serve God's order. He hath stablished this order and course, let 
us serve it. This is the obedience of faith, the obedience of a Christian. 

Doct. 2. The second thing is, that 

God's children are enabled to pratjfor themselves. I observe this the rather 
because the vilest men that live, when they are in trouble, as Pharaoh, Oh, 
go to Moses, let him pray for me ! He could not pray for himself. He 
was such a desperate, wretched creature, he knew that God would not re- 
gard him. Therefore he saith, Go to Moses. And so Simon Magus, who 



180 C03IMENTARY ON 

was a wretch, yet when Peter denounced a judgment against him, ' Pray 
thou that none of these things Hght upon me,' Acts viii. 24. You are ac- 
cepted of Clod ; my conscience is so full of terror and horror, and so full of 
sin, that I dare not pray. A wicked man may desire others to pray for 
him ; but, alas ! his conscience is surprised with horror for his sins, and 
his purposes are so cruel, so earthly, and so base, that he knows he cannot 
pray with acceptance for himself. God's children, as they desire the prayers 
of others, so they can pray themselves. They do not desire that others 
should do all, but that they would ' help together with their prayers.' 

Reason. Now, the reason of this, that God's children can pray for them- 
selves, and must pray for themselves, it is because they are children ; and 
as soon as ever they are new born, they are known by their voice, by cry- 
ing. A child, as soon as he is bom, he cries. A new-born child cries as 
soon as he is new born. He cries, ' Abba, Father.' He goes to his Father 
presently. In Acts ix. 11, as soon as Paul was converted, he cries, he goes 
to God by prayer. Therefore God, when he directs Ananias to him, saith 
he. Go to such a place, and there thou shalt find Paul, ' he is praying.' As 
soon as he is converted he is praying. 

God's children have the spirit of adoption, the spirit of sons. God is 
their Father, and they exercise the prerogative and privilege they have. 
They go to their Father, and cry to him. In Zech. xii. 10, j^ou have there a 
promise ' that God would pour the Spirit of supplication ' upon his children. 
They cannot pray of themselves, but God pours a Spirit of supplication 
into their hearts ; and his Spirit being poured into them, they can pour 
forth their prayers to him again. 

Use. The use of this is, not to content ourselves to turn over this duty 
of prayer to the minister and to good people, ' Oh, pray you for us.' Aye, we 
do so ; but pray for thyself. If thou wilt have another man's prayers do 
thee good, thou must help with thy own prayers, be good thyself. 

Men turn it off with shght phrases and speeches, ' You must pray for 
us,' &c. 

Alas ! what will our prayers do thee good if thou be a graceless, blas- 
phemous, carnal, brutish person ? If thy conscience tell thee by the light 
of nature (for the word of God it may be thou dost not care for) that thou 
art so, what can our prayers do thee good ? If thou mean to be so, though 
Noah, Daniel, and Job, saith God, should stand before me for this people, 
I would regard them for themselves, I would not hear them for this people, 
Ezek. xiv. 14. Let us be able and willing to help ourselves, and then we 
shall pray to some purpose. 

God loves to hear the cries of his children. The very broken cries of a 
child are more pleasing than the eloquent speech of a servant. Sometimes 
the children of God have not the Spirit of prayer as at other times ; and 
then they must do as Hezekiah did, they must ' mourn as a dove, and chatter 
as a swallow,' Isa. xxxviii. 14. And as Moses at the Red Sea, he cried, and 
the Lord heard his prayer, though he spake never a word. So in Rom. 
viii. 2G, ' The Spirit teacheth us to sigh and groan.' 

When we cannot pray, we must strive with ourselves against unbeHef, 
and deadness of heart, by all means possible. Sighs and groans are 
prayers to God, ' My groans and my sighs are not hid from thee,' saith the 
prophet David, Ps. xxxviii. 9. And so in Lam. iii. 56, the church being 
in distress, saith she, ' Thou hast heard my voice, hide not thine ear at my 
breathing.' Sometime the children of God can only sigh, and breathe, and 
groan to God ; for there is such a confusion in then- thoughts, they are so 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 11. 181 

amazed at their troubles, they are so siu'prised that they cannot utter a dis- 
tmct prayer; and then they sigh, and breathe, and groan; they help them- 
selves one way or other. If thou be a child of God, though thou be 
oppressed with grief, yet cry and gi'oan to God, strive against thy grief all 
thou canst ; and though thou canst not cry distinctly, yet mom'n as well as 
thou canst, and God knows the gi"oans of his own Spirit, and those cries 
are eloquent in his ears, they pierce heaven. But this being but supposed 
as a ground, the third observation is, as God conveys all blessings by prayer, 
and God's children have a spirit of prayer ; so God's children desire the 
prayers of others, and it is the duty of others to pray for them. ' You also 
helping by your prayer for us.' 

Doctrine 3. Christians ought to help one another hy prayer. 

The holy and blessed apostle was sm-e of God's love to him, and of his 
care of him ; yet notwithstanding he was as sure that God would use both 
the prayers of himself and others to continue this his goodness to him ; and 
therefore the greater faith, the greater care of prayer. And vv-here there is 
no care of prayer, either of our own or of others for us, there is no faith at 
all. 

There is an article of our faith, which, I think, is little believed. Though 
it be said over much, and heard often, yet it is little practised, ' I believe in 
the communion of saints.' Is there a communion of saints ? wherein doth 
this communion stand ? Among many other things, in this, that one saint 
prays for another. 

This is one branch of the communion of saints, as they communicate in 
privileges ; for they are all the sons of God, they are all heirs of heaven, 
they are all members of Christ, they are all redeemed by the blood of 
Christ ; and so all other privileges belong to all alike. As there is a 
communion in privileges, so there is a communion in duties one to an- 
other. One prays for another. There is a mutual intercourse of duty. 
And those that truly believe the communion of saints, do truly practise the 
duties belonging to that blessed society, that is, they pray for one another. 
I mean here on earth. Here we have a command, here we have a promise, 
here we have mutual necessities. I have need of them, and they have need 
of me. We have need one of another. 

In heaven there is no such necessity ; yet there may be, as divines grant, a 
general wish for the church, because the saints want their bodies, and 
because they want the accomplishment of the elect. 

Where there is want of happmess, there will be a general desire that 
God would accomplish these days of sin ; but for any particular necessities 
of ours, they cannot know them. ' Abraham hath forgotten us, and Israel 
knows us not,' Is. Ixiii. 16. There is a communion of saints, and this 
blessed communion and society trade this way in praying for one another. 
God commands that we should * pray one for another,' James v. 13, 14. 

Every Christian is a priest and a prophet. Now the priest's duty was 
to pray, and the prophet's duty was to pray. Now, as the priest carried 
the tribes on his breast, only to signify that he had them in his heart, and 
that he was a type of Chi'ist, who hath us in his heart alway in heaven, to 
make intercession for us ; so in some sense, every true Christian is a priest. 
He must carry the church and people of God in his heart. He must have 
a care of others. He must not only pray for himself, but for others, as he 
himself would have interest in the common prayer, ' Our Father,' as Christ 
teacheth us. Not that a Christian may not say, ' My Father,' when we 
have particular ground and occasion to go to God. But Christ being to 



182 COMMENTARY ON 

direct the Church of God, he teacheth us to say, ' Our Father.' There is 
therefore a regaxd to be had by every true Chi-istian of the estate of 
others. 

Ecasnn. The reason is, God's children sometimes cannot so well pray. 
Though they have ahvay a spirit of prayer, that they can gi'oan to God, yet 
in some cases they cannot so well pray for themselves, as in sickness. 
Affliction is a better time to pray in than sickness ; for affliction gathers 
and unites the spirits together. It makes a man more strong to pray to 
God. But sickness distempers the powers of the soul. It distempers the 
instrumeiits that the soul works by. It distempers the animal spirits which 
the understanding useth. They are inflamed, and distempered, and con- 
fused. Now the spirits., that are the instruments of the soul, being troubled 
with sickness, sickness is not so fit a time for a man to pray for himself. 
Though God hear the groans of his Spirit, as David saith, ' My sighs are 
not hid from thee,' Ps. xxxviii. 9 ; yet notwithstanding it is good at this 
time to send for those that can make a more distinct prayer, though, it 
may be, they be gi'eat Christians. Therefore, saith St James, ' Is any man 
afflicted ? let him pray ; is any man sick ? let him send for the elders of the 
church, and let them pray for him,' James v. 13, 14 ; not that he is not 
able to pray for himself, but let them help by joining together with him to 
God, ' And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise 
him up.' 

Naj', I add more, for the illustration of the point, it is so true that God 
regards the prayers of one for another, that he regards the prayer of weak 
ones, for grand ones. Great Christians are helped by mean ones ; yea, 
pastors are helped by the people. St Paul, a man eminent in grace and 
place, a grand Christian, and for place an apostle, yet he was helped by the 
prayers of the weak Corinthians. So that a weak Christian in grace and 
place, may help a greater Christian than himself, both in gi'ace and in 
place. Parents are helped by the praj^ers of their children. Magistrates 
by those that are under them. The rich are helped by those that are poor. 
The ministers by the prayers of the people, ' You helping by your prayers.' 
The prayers of the people prevail for the ministers ; for though there be a 
civil dilTerence which shall all end in death, yet notwithstanding in the 
communion of saints, there is no difference. * A poor man may be rich in 
faith,' as St James saith, ii. 5, and one may have as much credit in the 
court of heaven as another. As St Austin saith well, God hath made the 
rich for the poor, and the poor for the rich : the rich to relieve the poor, 
and the poor to pray for the rich ; for herein one is accepted for another. 

St Paul stands much upon the virtue and efficacy of the prayers of the 
Corinthians, for himself a gi'eat apostle. And so in Kom. xv. 80, ' I be- 
seech you for the love of Christ, and for the blessed work of the Spirit, 
strive by prayer together with us.' As ever you felt Christ do good to you, 
and as ever you felt the efficacy of the Spirit, strive with God, wrestle by 
prayer for me ; and so in evei-y epistle he begs their prayers. 

And ministers need the prayers of people to God, as well as any other, 
or rather more ; for, as God conveys much good to others by them, eo 
Satan maligns them more than other men. ' Aim not at small nor great, 
but at the Iving of Israel,' 1 Kings xxii. 31, pick out him. So the devil 
aims not at small nor great, but at the guides of God's people, at the leaders 
of his army. ' I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,' 
Zech. xiii."7. 

Therefore pray for them, that they may have abilities, that they may have 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 11. 183 

parts and gifts, and that they may have a willing mind, a large heart to use 
them, that they may have success in using them, that they may have strength 
of the outward man, that they may have protection from unreasonable men, 
' Pray for us, that we may be delivered from um-easonable and absurd men,' 
2 Thess. iii. 1, 2. ' Absurd men;' for none but absurd men will wrong 
those that God conveys so much good by, as he doth by the ministry. It 
is their lot to be vexed with such men ofttimes; and, therefore, pray for us. 

What is the reason of this, that mean Christians may help gi-eat Chris- 
tians by their prayers ? 

God will have it thus. Great Christians have not the spirit of prayer 
alike at all times. Though it be supposed they have it, yet the more help 
there is, the more hands are put to the work, the sooner it is despatched. 
As in the removing of a burden, the more join together, the sooner it is 
removed ; and so in the drawing of anj'thing, the more hands, the speedier 
despatch. 

So when we would draw blessings from heaven, the more prayers there 
be that offer violence to God, the more we draw from him. If it be a judg- 
ment that hangs over our heads, the more there be that labour to put away 
the judgment by prayer, and to remove the cloud that hangs over our heads, 
the sooner it passeth by. Many help much, as many brands make a great 
fire ; and many little rivers running into a common channel, they make the 
river swell greater ; so prayer is strong when it is carried by the spirits of 
many ; yea, those that are not, perhaps, so well experienced. 

But, as I said, sometimes men not only great in place, but great in grace, 
need the help of others. The spirit of prayer is not in a like measure in 
them. Sometime they are too secure, sometime they are too presumptuous, 
sometime too negligent and careless, in stirring up the grace of God in them, 
sometime they are prone to be lifted up too much, sometime to be cast down 
too much. 

If this be so, what a benefit is this then to have the help of others ? 
when ofttimes a man meaner in gifts may have as great a measure of the 
spirit of prayer as another. 

Prayer, it is not a work of gifts, but of grace. It is a work of a broken 
heart, of a believing heart. 

And in prayer there be divers gifts which are far more eminent in one 
than in another, yet all excellent good in then* kind. Some have the gift 
to be fluent, to be large in words, in expUcation of themselves. Some men 
have not so much in that, but they have a broken heart. Some again have 
it in zeal and earnestness of affections. So that there is something in the 
very action of prayer which helps in many. One helps with his ability, 
with his large gift of speech ; another with his humble and broken spirit ; 
another with his zeal and ardency to wrestle and strive with God to get a 
blessing. 

Moses was a man of a stammering tongue, and yet Moses was a man for 
prayer. Aaron and Hur were silent, and were fain to hold up his hands, 
but Moses must pray ; and yet Moses was no man of eloquence, and he 
pretends that for his excuse when he was to go to Pharaoh, Exod. iv. 13. 

Therefore it is a matter of the heart, a matter of grace, of humility, of 
strong faith, and not a matter of words, though that be a special gift too. 

Pieason 1. God will have it thus in his wise dispensation, because he uill 
have every man esteemed, and because he ivill have no man to be lyroud. He 
will humble his own to let them know that \h.ey stand in need of the prayers 
of the weakest. Every man in the church of God hath some gifts, that 



184 OOSIAiENTARY ON 

none should be despised ; and none have all gifts, that none should px'e- 
sume over-much and be proud. In the church of God, in the body of 
Christ, there is no idle member. In the communion of saints there is none 
unprofitable. Every one can do good in his kind. 

lu'dnun 2. God will have this, because he uill have none desphecl. It was 
a fault in St James's time, ' The brother of high degree,' James i. 9, did 
despise the brother of low degree, that is, the rich Christians despised the 
poor Christians. But saith St James, ' Hath not God chosen the poor in 
the world, rich in faith?' James ii. 5. Now faith is the ground of prayer. 
It is a fault in all times. Men have swelling conceits against the meaner 
sort, and undervalue them. God will not have it so. He will have us see 
that we stand in need of the meanest Christians ; and by this he will raise 
up the dejected spirit of weak Christians. 

What a comfort is it then, that I should be able to help the greatest man 
in the world ? That he should be beholden to me for that dutj^ ? So it 
abascth the greatest, that they stand in need of the meanest ; and it raiseth 
the meanest, that the greatest are helped by them, and it Icnits all into a 
sweet communion. For when a great Christian shall think, yonder poor 
Christian, he is gracious in the court of heaven ! Howsoever he be neglected 
in the world, he may do me good by his prayers. It ■ndll make him esteem 
and value him the more, and it will make him value his fi'iendship. He 
will not disparage him. He will not grieve the spirit of such a one, whose 
prayer may prevail with God, and draw down a blessing for him. We see 
here the Corinthians help the apostle by their prayers. 

You see the reason of it, that God will knit Christians together ; and 
humble them that think themselves great, and that he might comfort eveiy 
mean Christian. 

Use 1. Therefore let no Christian slight his otvn prayers, no, not those that 
are young ones. That great di\-ine Paulus Phagius, who was a great Hebre- 
cian in his time, and one that helped to restore the gospel in England (ee), 
it was a good speech of him, he was wont to say, ' I wish the prayers of 
younger scholars ; for their souls are not tainted with sin, and God often 
hears the poor j^oung ones (that are not tainted, and soiled with the sins of 
the world, as others are) sooner than others. A weak Christian, that hath 
not a politic head and a devilish spirit, meaner persons that are but j'oung 
ones, they have more acquaintance, many times, with God than others.' 
Despise not the prayer of any. And let none despise his own prayer. Shall 
I pray to God, will some say ? I pray ! do you pray for me. Why dost 
thou not pray for thyself ? I am unworthy. Unworthy ? Dost thou so 
basely esteem of it, when God is not only willing that thou shouldst pray for 
thyself, but requires thee to pray for others ? Hast thou so base an esteem 
of this incense ? ' Let my prayers be directed in thj sight as incense,' 
saith David, Ps. cxli. 2. God esteems this as odour, and wilt thou say, I 
am not worthy ? Abase not that which he hath vouchsafed so to honour. 
God esteems so highly of it, that he will not only hear thy prayers for thy- 
self, but for others. 

Use 2. Again, there is no pretence for any man to he idle in the profession 
of reliyion. Thou hast not riches, thou canst not give ; thou hast not place, 
thou canst not shew countenance to others ; but if thou be a child of God, 
thou hast the Spirit of prayer, the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of a son in 
thee, which enables thee to pray for thyself and others. There is no Chris- 
tian but he may do this, ' You also helping together by jonr prayers for me.' 

The fourth and last observation out of these words is, that 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER, 11. 185 

Doct. 4. Prayer is a prevailing course ivith God. 

It prevails for the removing of ill, or for the preventing of ill, or for the 
obtaining of good, ' I shall be delivered,' I shall be continued in the state 
of deliverance ; but yet you must pray. Your prayers will obtain and beg 
this of God. 

Reason 1. Prayer is a prevailing course, because, as I said, it is obedience 
to God's order. He bids us call upon him, and he will hear us. Prayer 
binds him with his own promise. Lord, thou canst not deny thyself, thou 
canst not deny thy promise, thou hast promised to be near all those that 
call upon thee in truth ; and though with much weakness, yet we call upon 
thee in truth ; therefore we cannot but be persuaded of thy goodness that 
thou wilt be near us. So it is a prevailing course, because it is obedience 
to God's order. 

Reason 2. And it is a j^rerailing course, because likewise it sets God on 
work. Faith, that is in the heart, and that sets prayer on work, for prayer 
is nothing but the voice of faith, the flame of faith. The fire is in the heart 
and spii'it, but the voice, the flame, the expression of faith, is prayer. Faith 
in the heart sets prayer on work. What doth prayer ? That goes into 
heaven, it pierceth heaven, and that sets God on work ; because it brings 
him his promise, it brings him his nature. Thy nature is to be Jehovah, 
good and gracious, and merciful to thine ! thy promise is answerable to thy 
nature, and thou hast made rich and precious promises. As faith sets 
prayer on work, so prayer sets God on work ; and when God is set on work 
by prayer (as prayer must needs bind him, bringing himself to himself, 
bringing his word to him ; every man is as his word, and his word is as 
himself), God being set on work, he sets all on work. He sets heaven and 
earth on work, when he is set on work by prayer. Therefore it is a pre- 
vailing course. He sets all his attributes on work for the deliverance and 
rescue of his church from danger, and for the doing of any good. He sets 
his mercy and goodness on work, and his love, and whatsoever is in him. 

You see then why it is a prevailing course, because it is obedience to 
God, and because it sets God on work. It overcomes him which overcomes 
all. It overcomes him that is omnipotent. We see the woman of Canaan, 
she overcame Christ by the strength that she had from Christ. And Moses 
he overcame God, * Let me alone,' Exod. xxxii. 10, why dost thou press 
me ? ' Let me alone.' It oflers violence to God, it prevails with him ; and 
that which prevails with God, prevails with all things else. The prayer of 
faith hath the promise. ' The prayer of a righteous man,' in faith, ' it pre- 
vails much,' saith St James, v. 16. Consider now, if the prayer of one 
righteous man prevail much, what shall the prayer of many righteous men 
do ? As St Paul saith here, my prayers and your prayers being joined 
together must needs prevail. 

For instances, the Scripture is full of them, how God hath vouchsafed 
deUverance by the help of prayer. I will give but a few instances of former 
times, and some considerations of later time. 

For former times : in Exod. xvii., you see when Amalek set upon the 
people, Moses did more good by prayer than all the army by fighting. As 
long as Moses' hands were held up by Aaron and Hur, the people of God pre- 
vailed : a notable instance to shew the power of prayer. In 2 Chron xiv., 
Asa prayed to God, and presseth God with arguments, and the people of 
God prevail. In 2 Chron. xx., there you have good king Jehoshaphat. He 
prays to God, and he brings to God his former experience. He presseth 
God with his covenant, with his nature, and the hke arguments spoken of 



180 COMMENTARY ON 

before ; aud then he complains of their necessity, ' Lord we know not what 
to do, our eyes are towards thee,' 2 Chron. xx. 12. And God's opportunity 
is when we are at the worst, and the lowest. Then he is near to help, 
' We know not what to do, but our eyes are towards thee,' saith that blessed 
king, and then he prevailed. 

So the prophet Isaiah and Hezekiah, they both join together in prayer 
to God, and God heard the prophet, and the prayer of the king. They 
spread the letter before the Lord, and prayed to God, when Rabshakeh railed 
against God, and they prevailed naightily, Isa. xxxvii. 14. 

Esther was but a woman, and a good woman she was. The church was 
in extremity in her time. She takes this course. She fasted and prayed, 
she and her people ; and we see what an excellent issue came of it, the con- 
fusion of proud Haman, and the deliverance of the church. In Acts xii., 
Herod ha\ing good success in the beheading of James, being flushed with 
the blood of James, he would needs set upon Peter too. The church, fear- 
ing the loss of so worthy a pillar, falls to praying. See the issue of it, God 
struck him presently. Woe be to the birds of prey, when God's turtle 
mourns ! When God's turtle, the church, mourns, and prays to God, woe 
be to those birds that violently prey on the poor church ! Woe be to Herod, 
and all bloody persecuting tyrants ! Woe be to all malignant despisers of 
the church, when the church begins to pray ! For though she direct not 
her prayers against them in particular, yet it is enough that she prays for 
herself, and herself cannot be delivered without the confusion of her enemies. 
You see these instances of old. 

I will name but some of later times. What hath not prayer done ? Let 
us not be discouraged. Prayer can scatter the enemies, and move God to 
command the winds, and the waters, and all against his enemies. What 
cannot prayer do, when the people of God have their hearts quickened, and 
raised to pray ? Prayer c-'i open heaven. Prayer can open the womb. 
Praj^er can open the prison, and strike off the fetters. It is a pick-lock. 
We see in Acts xvi., when St Paul was cast in prison, he prayed to God 
at midnight, and God shakes the foundations of the prison, and all flies 
open, Acts xvi. 26. So St Peter was in prison, he prays, and the angel 
delivers him. Acts v. 19. What cannot prayer do ? It is of an omni- 
potent power, because it prevails with an omnipotent and almighty God. 

Oh that we were persuaded of this ! But our hearts are so full of 
atheism naturally, that we think not of it. We think not that there is such 
efficacy in prayer ; but we cherish base conceits, God may if he will, &c., 
and put all upon him, and never serve his providence and command, who 
commands us to call upon him, and who will do things in his providence, 
but he will do them in this order. We must pray, first to acknowledge our 
dependence upon him. If we were thoroughly convinced of the prevailing 
power of prayer, what good might be done by it, as there hath been in 
former times ! Certainly we would beg of God above all things the spirit 
of supplication. And if we have the spirit of prayer, we can never be 
miserable. If a man have the spirit of prayer, whatsoever he want he 
causeth it from heaven. He can beg it by prayer. And if he want* the 
thing he can beg contentation,f he can beg patience, he can beg grace, and 
beg acquaintance with God ; and acquaintance with God it will put a glory 
upon him. 

It is such a thing as all the world cannot take from us. They cannot take 
God from us, they cannot take prayer from us. If we were convinced of 
* That is, 'be without' = denied.— G. t That is, 'contentment.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 11. 187 

this we would be much in prayer, in private prayer, in public prayer, for 
ourselves, for the church of God. 

The church of God now abroad, you see, is in combustion. If the Spirit 
of God in any measm-e and degree be in our breasts, we will sympathize 
with the state of the church. We wish them well, it may be ; but wishes 
are one thing, and prayer is another. Dost thou pray for the church ? If 
we could pray for the church, it would be better. We should do more good 
with our prayers at home than they shall do by fighting abroad ; as Moses 
did more good in the mount by prayer than they did in the valley by fight- 
ing. Undoubtedly it would be so. 

We may fear the less success, the spirits of men are so flat and so 
dead this way. The time hath been not long since that we have been 
stirred up more to pray, upon the apprehension of some fears, to pray 
with earnestness and feeling, expressing some desire in wishing their wel- 
fare ; but now a man can hardly converse with any that have so deep an 
apprehension as they have had in former times. 

Now therefore, as we desire to have interest in the good of the church, 
so let us remember to present the estate of the church to God. And let 
us present the church of God to him as his own, as his turtle, as his love. 

You know when they would move Christ, they tell him, ' Him whom thou 
lovest is sick,' Lazarus * whom thou lovest,' John xi. 3. So, Lord, her 
whom thou lovest, the chui'ch, whom thou gavest thy Son to redeem with 
his blood ; the church to whom thou hast given thy Spirit to dwell in ; the 
church wherein thou hast thy habitation amongst men ; the church that 
only glorifieth thee, and in whom thou wilt be eternally glorified in heaven, 
that church is sick, it is weak, it is in distress, it is in hazard. 

Let us make conscience of this duty, let us help the church with our 
prayers. St Paul saith, * I shall be delivered, together with the help of 
your prayers,' Philem. 22. Without doubt the church should be delivered, if 
we had the grace to help them with our prayers. And God will so glorify 
the blessed exercise of calling upon him, that we, I say, shall do more good 
at home than they shall do abroad. Let us believe this ; it is God's manner 
of dealing. 

In the book of Judges, in that story of the Benjamites, concerning the 
wrong done to the priest's concubine, the rest of the tribes of Israel, when 
they set on the Benjamites, they asked counsel of God twice, and went 
against them, and were discomfited ; but the third time they come to God, 
Judges XX. 26, ' Then all the childi'en of Israel came to the house of the 
Lord, and wept, and sat there before the Lord ; and fasted that day tiU the 
evening.' They thought because they had a good cause, they might with- 
out fasting and prayer, and without seeking to the Lord, prevail, and there- 
fore they went against them twice, and were shamefully foiled, to their great 
loss. But when at the last they came and humbled themselves before God, 
and fasted, and inquired of God the cause of that ill, after that they had a 
glorious victory. 

Christ tells his disciples that there were some kind of devils that will 
not be cast out by fasting and prayer. Mat. xvii. 21. So there are some 
kind of miseries, some kind of calamities, some kind of sins, that will not 
be overcome, and which God wiU not deliver the church fi'om, but by fast- 
ing and praj'er. 

And so for private Christians, they have some sins that are master-sins, 
personal sins. It is not a slight prayer and a wish that will mortify them. 
There must be fasting, and prayer, and humiliation ; and that way those 



i'66 COMMENTARY ON 

devils are cast out. I would we were persuaded of it, that it is such a pre- 
vaiUng thing, holy prayer, to help ourselves in sin, and to help us in misery, 
to help the church of God. 

Use. Well, since the prayers even of the meanest Christians are so pre- 
vailing, let us leam to respect them ; for, as they can pray, so their prayers 
will prevail. And take heed we grieve not the Spirit of God in any poor 
saint, that so they may pray for us with wilUngness and cheerfulness. Do 
but consider what a blessing it is to have a stock going, to have our part 
in the common stock. As there is a common stock of prayer in the church, 
every Christian can pray, and pray prevailingly. What a blessing is it to 
be a good Christian, to have a portion in the prevailing prayers of others ! 
That when a man is dead and dull, and unfit himself, this may comfort 
him, that others have the spirit of zeal, and will supply his want. It is a 
blessed thing ! Let us consider the excellency of this duty of prayer, from 
the prevalency of it, to whet us on to the exercise of it. It is a happiness 
to have a part in it. It is a blessing whereby we can do good to others. 
We can reach them that are many hundred miles off, those that be at the 
farthest end of the world. When we cannot reach them other ways, we can 
reach them by prayer. We cannot speak to them, they are far off, but we 
can speak to God for them ; and he can convey that good to them that we 
desire. What a blessed condition is this ! 

Quest. But some man may say. How shall I know that I can pray, that 
I am in a state to help the church of God, and to prevail for it by my 
prayers ? 

1. I answer, first of all, thou shalt know it if thou be as iiiUmri to help 
otherwise, if thou canst, as well as by prayer. St James speaks in his time 
of certain men that would feed the poor people of God with good words, 
James ii. 16. Now good words are good-cheap ; but they will do nothing. 
They will buy nothing, they will not clothe, nor feed. So St James tells 
them, that that is but a dead faith. 

So there are a company that will only pray for the church when they 
are able to do other vfaja, when they have countenance, and estate, and 
riches, and friends, and place, and many things that they might improve 
for the good of others, and for the good of the church. Some will be ready 
to say, I pray for the church, and I will pray. Aye, but art thou not able 
to do somewhat else ? St Paul when he wishes them to pray for him, he 
means not only prayer, but that duty implies to do aU that they pray for, 
to help their prayers, or else it is a mocking of God. If thou pray aright 
for the church, thou art willing to relieve them ; if thou pray for thy friend, 
thou art willing to help him, and succour him ; if thou pray for any, thou 
art willing to countenance them. That is one trial, which discovers many 
to be hypocrites. If their prayers were worth anything, and the times stood 
in need of them, it is likely they should not have them, because they only 
give good words, and nothing else. 

2. Again, he that is in a state of prayer, he must be such a one as must 
relinquish in his vurpose all wicked, blanphemous, scandalous, unthrifty courses 
whatsoever. He that purposeth to please God, and to have his prayer 
accepted of God, he must leave all. For as. the Psalmist saith, ' If I regard 
iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer.' For a man to 
come with a petition to God, with a purpose to offend him, is to come to 
practise treason in the presence-chamber ; to come into the presence of 
God, and to have a purpose to stab him with his sins. Dost thou purpose 
to live in thy filthy courses, in thy scandalous evil course of life, to be a 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 11. 189 

blasphemer, a swearer, and yet dost thou think that God will hear and re- 
gard thy prayer ? ' If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear 
my prayer,' Ps. Ixvi. 18. That is another thing that thou mayest know ii 
by, whether thou be in such an estate as that thou mayest pray successfully 
for thyself, and for others. 

3. In Prov. xxviii. 9, there is a third discovery, ' He that turns his ear 
from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abominable.' Thou mayest 
know it by this, if thou be in such an estate as that God will regard thy 
prayers for thyself or for others, that they may be prevailing prayers ; how 
standest thou affected to God's truth and word ? how art thou acquainted 
with the reading of the Scriptures, andwith hearing the blessed word of 
God unfolded and broken open by the blessed ordinance of God ? How 
doest thou attend upon God ? Wouldst thou have him who is the great 
God of heaven and earth to hear thee, and to regard thee, when thou wilt 
not hear and regard him ? Thou wouldst have him to regard thy prayers, 
and thou regardest not him speaking by the ministry of his word. Thou 
despisest his ordinance which he hath left with thee. He hath left thee the 
mysteries of his word, and thou regardest them not, but spendest thy time 
altogether either about thy calling, or about some trifling studies, and 
neglectest the main, the soul-saving truth ; will he hear thy prayer ? No, 
saith the wise man ; ' He that turns his ear from hearing the law, that man's 
prayer shall be abominable.' 

Since prayer is so prevailing a thing, so pleasing to God, so helpful to 
the church, and so helpful to ourselves, who would be in such a case that 
he cannot pray, or if he doth pray, that his prayer should be abominable, 
that God should turn his prayer into sin ? It is a miserable case that a 
man lives in, that is in league with sin, that allows himself in any wicked 
course, in rebellion to God's ordinance. Such men are in such a state that 
God doth not regard their prayers for themselves or for others. Some do 
so exalt and lift up their pride against God, that they do not regard the very 
ordinance of God. No, not while they are hearing it, but set themselves to 
be otherwise disposed at that very time. How can such expect that God 
will regard them ? This shall be sufficient to press that point. Saith Saint 
Paul, ' I shall be delivered by your prayers.' 

Obs. God ivill deliver the ministers by the i^eopJe's prayers. 

God will be good to the ministers for the prayers of the people. This 
concerns us that are ministers. Prayer is prevaihng even for us. And as 
it is our duty to give ourselves to preaching and prayer, so it is the people's 
duty to praj' for us Ukewise, and for these particulars, as I named. 

To pray for abihty, — to pray for a willing mind to discharge that ability, — 
to pray for success of that discharge. For we must be able to preach 
to the people of God, and we must be willing, and there must be success. 
It doth much discom'age God's people, and those that are ministers, when 
they find no success of their labours. Isa. xlix. 4, saith the prophet, ' I 
have laboured in vain.' Elias was much discouraged in his time, Romans 
xi. 4, 1 Kings xix. 18 ; and Isaiah and Elias were good men, yet they were 
much discouraged. They saw little fruit of their labour. Therefore let us 
help the ministers with our prayers in this respect, that God would enable 
them ; that God would enlarge their hearts with willingness. For there 
are many that are of ability, but they are so proud, and so idle, that they 
think themselves too good to preach to them, whom God and the church 
hath called them to bestow their labours on. They have ability, but thej' 
want a large heart. And those that have both ability and a large heart, 



lyO COMMENTARY ON 

they want success, they see little fruit ; hccause the people pray not for 
them ; and they perhaps are negligent in the duty themselves ; then- labours 
are not steeped in" prayers. 

Again, a fourth thing that we ought to pray for for them, is strength and 
ability of the outward man ; and all that fear God, and have felt the benefit 
of the ministiy, they do this, and God doth answer it. 

Likewise to pray /or ]jrotection and deliverance from unreasonable men, 
to pray for strength of spirit, and likewise for protection. For, as St Paul 
saith, * All men have not faith. Pray for us, that we may be delivered from 
unreasonable, absurd men : all have not faith,' 2 Thess. iii. 2. Men that 
believe not God's truth, that believe not God's word, that are full of 
atheism, full of contempt and scorn, they are ' absurd men.' Though they 
think themselves the witty* men of the world, yet they are unreasonable 
and absurd men. ' Pray for us, that we may be deUvered from unreason- 
able men.' 

Likewise from him that is the head of nicked men, the Devil. He sees 
that the ministers they are the standard-bearers, they are the captains of 
God's army. They stand not alone, and they fall not alone. Many others 
fall with them. There is no calling under heaven by which God conveys 
so much good, as by the dispensation of his ordinance in the ministry ; 
therefore we should help them by our prayers. There are no men better 
if they be good, nor none more hurtful if they be bad ; none worse. As 
Christ saith, ' They are the salt of the earth,' to season the unsavomy 
world, ' and if the salt have lost the savour, it is good for nothing but to be 
cast on the dunghill,' Luke xiv. 34, 35. Therefore pray that God would 
deliver them from the devil, who maligns them. They are the buttf of his 
malice, by his instruments. 

There are many that come to hear the word to carp, and to cavil, and to 
sit as judges to examine, but how few are there that pray for the ministers ! 
and surely, because they pray not, they profit not. If we could pray more, 
we should profit more. I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, put up 
your petitions to God, that God would teach us (that are inferior to you in 
other respects, setting aside our calling) that we may teach you, that we 
may instruct his people. As John Baptist saith, ' The friends of the bride 
learn of the bridegroom,' John iii. 29, what to speak to the spouse. So 
we leam from prayer, and from reading, we learn from Christ what to teach 
you. If you pray to God to teach us that we may teach you, you shall 
never go away without a blessing. 

And therefore, as I said, wo see how the apostle desires the Eomans to 
strive and contend with him in prayer. He useth all protestations, and 
obtestations, ' For the love of Christ and of his Spirit,' &c., Romans xv. 30. 
And, pray for us, ' that the word may have a free passage, and be glorified,' 
2 Thess. iii. 1. In every epistle still he urgeth, 'Pray for us.' The 
blessed apostle was so heavenly-minded, that he would neglect no help that 
might further him in the ministiy. So if we have Christian hearts, we will 
neglect no helps, not the help of the meanest Christian that we are ac- 
quainted with. When he that was a gi-eat apostle saith, ' Pray for us, 
strive in prayer for us,' he prays for the help of others' prayer. So the 
more gracious we are, and the nearer to God, the more we understand the 
things of God, the more careful we shall be of this Christian duty of prayer, 
for the ministers, and for ourselves, and others. Upon this ground, that 
it is God's ordinance ; and there is nothing established by God that shall 
* That is, 'wise.' -G. t That is. 'mark,'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 11, 191 

want a blessing. Therefore if we liave faith, we will pray ; the more faith 
the more prayer ; the greater faith the greater prayer. Christ had the 
greatest faith, and he prayed whole nights together. St Paul was mighty 
in faith ; he was mighty in prayer. Where there is little faith, there will 
be little prayer ; and where there is no faith, there will be no prayer. ' You 
also helping together by prayer for us.' 

Mark the heavenly art of the apostle. He doth here insinuate and en- 
wrap an exhortation by taking it for granted that they would pray for him. 
It is the most cunning way to convey an exhortation, by way of taking it 
for granted, and by way of encouragement. ' The Lord will deliver me.' 
He doth not say, therefore I pray help me by your prayers ; but the Lord 
will deliver me if you help me, and I know I shall not want your prayers. 
He takes it for granted that they would pray for him ; and granted truths 
are the strongest truths. It is the best way to encourage any man, if we 
know any good in him, to take it for granted that he will do so ; and so * I 
shall be delivered, you helping together by your prayers.' 

* That, for the gift bestowed upon ws by the means of many persons, thanks 
may he given by viany on our behalf J' After he had set down the means 
that God would convey the blessing by, which was prayer, then he shews 
the end, why God would deliver him by praj^er. For the gift of health 
and deliverance bestowed upon me, by the means of many prayers of many 
persons, 'likewise thanks shall be given by many on our behalf;' that is, 
on my behalf. Yea, as many shall be ready to thank God for my deliver- 
ance and health, as before many prayed to God for it. So that in this 
regard, God in love to his own praise and glory will deliver me by your 
prayers, because he shall gain praise, and praise of many. 

* That for the gift bestowed,' &c. And first for the words somewhat. 

* For the gift bestowed on us.' Deliverance and health is a gift, 
charisma,'^- a free gift. If health be a gift, what are greater things ? They 
are much more a free gift. If daily bread be a gift, certainly eternal life 
is much more a gift. ' The gift of God is eternal life,' Rom. vi. 23. 

Away with conceit of merit ! If we merit not daily bread, if we merit 
not outward deliverance, if we merit not health, what can we do for eternal 
life ? It is a doting conceit, a mere foohsh conceit then, to think that the 
beggar merits his alms by begging, prayer being the chief work we do. 
What doth the beggar merit by begging ? Begging, it is a disavowing of 
merit. Health, you see here, it is a gift bestowed by prayer, that * for the 
gift bestowed upon us,' &c. 

Things come to be ours either by contract or by gift. If it be by con- 
tract, then we know what we have to do. If it be by gift, the only way to 
get a thing by gift is prayer. So that which is gotten here by prayer, it is 
called a gift, not only a gift for the freeness of it, but because health, and 
deliverance out of trouble, is a great and special gift. For, as it seems, 
St Paul here was desperately sick (I rather incline to that than any other 
deliverance), ' I received the sentence of death,' &c. 

Is not health a gift ? Is it not the foundation of all the comforts of this 
life ? What would riches comfort us ? What would friends comfort us ? 
Bring all to a sick man, alas ! he hath no relish in anything, because he 
wants the ground of all earthly comforts, he wants health. Therefore you 
know the Grecians accounted that a chief blessing. If they had health, 
they were contented with any estate {(f). A poor man in a mean estate, 
• That is, ' ;;/ag/(r//,a.'— G. 



192 COMMENTABY ON 

with a little competency, is more happy than the greatest monarch in the 
world that is under sickness and pain of body. 

Health ! it is comfort itself, and it sweetens all other comforts. 

Thei'efore it is a matter that especially we should bless God for, both for 
preventing* health (God keeps us out of sickness), and likewise for deliver- 
ing us out of it, for both are like favours. And they that have a constant 
enjoyment of their health should as well praise God, as they that are de- 
livered out of sickness. It is God's goodness that they do not fall into 
sickness. There is the ground of sickness in every man. Though ho had 
no outward enemy in the world, yet God can distemper the humours ; and 
when there is a jar and disproportion in the humours, then follows a hurt- 
ing of the powers, and a hindering of the actions, &c. We should bless 
God for the continuance of health. It is a special gift. ' For the gift 
bestowed.' 

' By the means of many persons.' God bestowed health on St Paul, but 
it was by the means of many prayers of many persons. 

Quest. Would not God have bestowed health upon St Paul if he had not 
had their prayers ? 

Ans. Yes, doubtless. But yet notwithstanding when there are many 
prayers, they prevail much more. Many streams make a river run more 
strongly, and so many prayers prevail strongly. Health is such a blessing 
as may be begged by others. 

Therefore it is a good thing in sickness, and in any trouble, to beg the 
prayers of others, that they may beg health and deliverance of God for 
us. The good Corinthians here, they pray St Paul out of his trouble. 
And God so far honours his children, even the meanest, that they are a 
means to beg health and deliverance for others, even to pray them out of 
this or that trouble. 

And what a comfort and encouragement is this, that a Christian hath so 
many factors for him ! He hath all the saints in the world that say, ' Our 
Father,' praying for him. He must needs be rich that hath a world ot 
factors, that hath a stock going in every part of the world. A Christian 
hath factors all the world over. He is a member of the mystical body, and 
many prayers are made for him. It is a great comfort. 

And it is a great encouragement for us to pray for one another, consider- 
ing that God will so far honom- us. St Paul's health here, it was a gift by 
the prayers of many. 

Obj. But thou wilt object : I am a weak Christian, a sinful creature. 
What, should God regard my prayers ? Alas ! my prayers will do you 
little good. 

Solution. Yes, they will do much, not only for thyself, but for others. 
What are prayers ? Are they not incense kindled by the fire of the blessed 
Spirit of God ? Are they not in themselves good motions, stirred up by 
the Spirit ? Themselves in their nature are good, though they be imperfect 
and stained. The Spirit that stirs them up is good, the good Spirit of 
God. ' We know not how to pray,' Rom. viii. 20, but the Spirit teacheth 
us. The Mediator through whom they are oifered, who mingles his odour 
with them, Piev. viii. 3, ' He is the argol that mingleth odours with the 
prayers of the saints,' and makes them acceptable to God. The person 
likewise that offers them is good. What is he ? Is he not God's child ? 
Do not parents love to hear the voice of their children ? If, therefore, the 
person be good, though weak, and the prayer be good, and the Spirit good, 
* That is, = keeping off ill health. — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP, I, VER. 11. 193 

and the Mediator so good, then let no man be discouraged, not only to pray 
for himself, but to pray for others. God would hear the Corinthians, 
though they were stained with schism, and many other weaknesses. They 
were none of the most refined churches that St Paul wrote to, as we may 
see in the first epistle ; yet saith St Paul, my health and deliverance is a 
gift, and a gift by the prayers of many, weak and strong joining together. 

Obj. It is the subtilty of Satan, and our own hearts join with him in 
the temptation. What should I pray ? My conscience tells me this and 
that. 

Ans. Dost thou mean to be so still ? Then indeed, as it is, ' If I 
regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer,' Ps. Ixvi. 18. 
But if thou have repented thee of thy sins, and intendest to lead a new' 
Ufe for the time to come, God will hear thy prayers, not only for thyself, 
but for others. God will bestow gifts upon others, by means of thy prayers. 

To go on. 

' Thanks may be given by many persons.' God's end in delivering St 
Paul by prayer, was that he might have many thanks for many prayers, 
when they were heard once. ' That thanks may be given by many on our 
behalf,' that is, because we are delivered, and restored to health and 
strength again, to serve the church as we did before. You see here how 

Obs. Praise foUoivs prayer. 

Many prayers, and then many praises ; these follow one another. Indeed 
this is God's order ; and we see in natm'e, where there is a receiving, there 
is a giving. We see the earth, it receives fruit, it yields fruit, as Christ 
saith of the good gi'ound, sixty-fold, many-fold. You see bodies that 
receive the sun, they reflect their beams back to the sun again. 

The streams, as they come from the sea, so by an unwearied motion 
they return back again to the sea. And men do eat the fruit of their own 
flocks, they reap the fruit of their own orchards and gardens. In nature, 
whatsoever receives, it returns back again. The influence and light that 
those heavenly bodies, the stars, and the planets, &c., have from the sun, 
who is the chief light of all, they bestow it upon the inferior bodies. You 
see it in nature, much more is it in gi-ace. What we receive from God by 
gift, obtained by prayer, he must have the praise for it. Many pra3^ers, 
many praises. As soon as ever a benefit is received, presently there is an 
obligation, a natural obligation, and a religious obligation. Upon the 
receipt of a benefit, there must be some thought of returning something 
presently. 

It teacheth us what a horrible sin ingratitude is. It is the grave of all 
God's blessings. It receives all, and never returns anything back again. 
As those lepers, they never came back again to thank Christ, but only the 
tenth, a poor Samaritan, Luke xvii. 17. Men are eager to sue to God, 
restless till they have that they would have, but then they are barren and 
unfruitful, they yield nothing back again. After prayer, there must be 
praise and thanksgiving. It condemneth our backwardness and untoward- 
ness in this kind. Like little children, they are ready to beg favours, but 
when they come to thanksgiving, they look another way, as if it were irk- 
some to them. So it is with our nature. When we go about this heavenly 
duty, we give God a formal word or two, ' Thanks be to God,' &c. But 
we never work our hearts to thankfulness. ' That thanks may be given by 
many.' 

As the prayers of many are mighty with God to prevail, so likewise the 
praises of many are very grateful and acceptable to God, even as it is 

VOL. ni. N 



i 



194 COMMENTARY ON 

with instraments. The sweetness of music ariseth from many instruments, 
and from the concord of all the strings in every instrument. When every 
instrument hath many strings, and are all in tune, it makes sweet haiTuony, 
it makes sweet concord. So, when many give God thanks, and every one 
hath a good heart set in tune, when they are good Christians all, it is 
wondrous acceptable music to God, it is sweet incense ; more acceptable to 
God than any sweet savom' and odour can be to us. That is one reason 
•why God will have many to pray to him, that he may have many praises. 

God doth wondrously honour concord, especially when it is concord in 
praising of him. It is a comely thing for ' brethren to Uve in unity,' as it 
is Ps. cxxxiii. 1. If to praise God be a comely thing, and if concord be a 
comely thing, then when both meet together, it must needs be wondrous 
beautiful, and wondrous acceptable to God, when many brethren meet and 
join to praise God. Therefore it is said, in the church's new conversion, 
' They met all together as one man,' Acts ii. 46, they were of one heart and 
one soul, and they were given to prayer and to praising of God. A blessed 
estate of that beginning church ! They were all as one man, of one heart, 
of one spirit, of one soul. 

As the blessed angels and blessed spirits in heaven, they aU join together, 
as it is in Eev. xiv. 2, 3. The blessed man heard a voice in heaven as the 
voice of many waters, and of great thunder ; and he heard the voice of 
harpers, ' and they sang a new song.' There were many harps, but one 
song, one thanksgiving, one heart, one spirit in all, wondrous acceptable 
to God. 

This should make us in love with public meetings. Severed thanks- 
giving is not so acceptable a thanksgiving. God doth bestow all good upon 
us in the body, as we knit ourselves not only in thanksgiving to him, but 
in love to the church. As all things are derived from God to us in the 
body, so let our praise return to God in the body as much as we may. 

It shews what a hateful thing schism and division is in the church. 
Besides many other inconveniences, God wants glory by it. God loves to 
be praised by many joining together. As the apostle saith here, ' Thanks 
shall be given by many,' &c. Many ! not as they are many persons, but 
as they are many godly persons that are led by the Spirit of God. 

Use. Therefore, if the praise of many be so acceptable, it should first be an 
encouragement to union. In John x\ii. 21, saith om* Saviour Christ there, 
' I pray that they may be one, as we are one.' It was the sum of that 
heavenly prayer, the unity of the church to the end of the world, ' That 
they may be one, as we are one.' The Trinity should be the pattern of 
our unity. Because, I say, all good is in union, and all that comes from 
us that is accepted of God, it must be in peace and union. 

God so loves peace, and a quiet disposition inclinable to peace, that he 
neglects his own service till we have made peace one with another. Mat. 
V. 24, ' If thou have any ofi"ence with thy brother,' if thou have done him 
any wrong, or he thee, ' go and be reconciled to him, and then come and 
bring thy offering.' God will stay for his own offering ; he is content to 
stay for his own seiwice, till we be at peace one with another. Whether it 
be prayer or praise, if we be not at peace, it is not acceptable. Again, this 
should teach us to stir up others, when we praise God, and others have 
cause as well as we, ' that thanks may be given by many.' When we are in 
trouble, call upon others ; and as it is the common and commendable fashion, 
desire others to pray for us, that prayer may be made by many ; and when we 
receive any favour, any dehverance from any great danger, acquaint others 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 11. 195 

with it, that thanks may be given by many. It was the practice of David, 
in Ps. kvi. 16, ' Come ! I will tell you what the Lord hath done for my 
soul.' And in Ps. xxxiv. 4, and in Ps. cxlii. 7, ' Bring my soul out 
of trouble, that I may praise thy name,' and what shall others do ? ' Then 
the righteous shall compass me about, for thou hast dealt bountifully with 
me : ' shewing that it is the fashion of righteous men, when God hath 
dealt graciously with any of his childi-en, they compass him about, to be 
acquainted with the passages of divine providence, and God's goodness 
towards them, * The righteous shall compass me about, for thou hast dealt 
bountifully with me.' 

Holy David, in Ps. ciii. 20-22, he stirs up every creature to praise God, 
even the creatures of hail, of storms, and winds, and everything, even the 
blessed angels, as we see in the latter end of that psalm, as if thanksgiving 
were an employment fit for angels ; and indeed so it is. And, as if all his 
own praise were not enough, except all the creatures in heaven and earth 
should join with him in that blessed melody to praise God ; the angels, and 
all creatures praise God. Let us stir up one another to this exercise. 

How do the creatures praise God ? They do praise God by the tongue. 
Although they have a kind of secret praise which God hears well enough, 
for they do their duty in their place willingly and cheerfully ; but they 
praise God in our tongues. Every creature gives us occasion of praising 
God. 

' That thanks may be given by many,' &c. 

Many give thanks here for one, St Paul, for the minister. We see here 
God's end, that many should praise God, not only for themselves, but for 
others, especially for those by whom God conveys and derives good unto 
them, whether outward or spiritual good. The apostle exhorts us ' to pray 
for all men,' 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2 ; ' for kings,' yea, though they were persecuting 
kings at that time. And surely if we ought to pray to God for all mankind, 
we ought to praise God for all sorts of men, especially for governors and 
ministers, &c., because God by them bestows his gi-eatest blessings. Obey 
the magistrate. * Let every soul be subject to the higher powers ; for the 
powers that are, are ordained of God, and he is the minister of God for thy 
good,' Rom. xiii. 1. So the governors and ministers of God are for our 
good. We ought therefore, as to pray for them, that they may execute 
their office for our good, so to praise God for the good we have by them. 
You know David stirred up the people to mourn for Saul, though a tyrant. 
' He clothed you and your daughters,' saith he, ' with scarlet,' 2 Sam. i. 24. 
If they should praise God for a persecuting king, and mourn for him when 
he was gone, much more should we for those that are good. 

And so likewise for pastors, we ought to praise God for them, and all 
that have good by them will pray to God, and praise God for them. And 
undoubtedly it is a sign of a man that hath no good by them, that prays 
not for them, and that praiseth not God by them. We ought to praise 
God in that proportion, as well as to pray to God one for another. 

And this should stir us up to be good to many, that many may praise 
God, not only for themselves, but for us. If it be our duty to pray for 
those that we derive good by, and to praise God for them, then let us labour 
to be such as may communicate to others. Good is difi'usive, and good 
men are like the box in the gospel, that when it was opened, all the house 
smelled of it, John xii. 3. 

The heathen philosopher said that a just man, a good man, is a common 
good, Uke a public stream, like a public conduit, that every man hath a 



196 COMMENTABY ON 

share in. Therefore, as the wise man saith, ' When good men are exalted, 
the city rejoiceth,' Prov. xi. 10, many rejoice. Who would not, therefore, 
hihour in this respect to be good, to have a pubhc disposition, to have a 
large heart, to do all the good we can, that so we may not only have more 
prayers to God for us, but we may have more praise to God for us, 
that God may gain by it, * that thanks may be given by many on our 
behalf?' 

Let us take notice of our negligence in this kind, and be stirred up to 
this blessed duty. And, therefore, consider wherein it consists. 

1. It consists in our taking notice of the favours of God to ourselves and 
others, and in valuing the good things that we praise God for, to esteem 
them. The children of Israel, they did not bless God for the manna, they 
did not value it, ' This manna, this manna,' in scorn. Num. xi. 6. So in 
Ps. cvi. 7, ' They neglected God's pleasant things, they set light by them,' 
Hos. Adii. 12, ' He gave them the great things of his law, and they accounted 
them as slight, as strange things,' not worthy to be regarded. 

2. Praise consists in taking notice, and not only in taking notice, but in 
remembering and minding them, as in Ps. ciii. 2, ' My soul, praise the Lord, 
and forget not all his benefits.' 

3. And likewise in an estimation of them ; and likewise, 

4. In expressing this thankfulness in words, ' Awake, my glory,' Ps. 
Ivii. 8. Our tongues are our glory, especially as they are instruments to 
praise and glorify God. We camiot use our language better than to speak 
the language of Canaan in praising of God. 

5. Likewise, praise consists in doing good, which is real praise, though 
we say nothing. Moses cried to God, though he spake not a word. Evil 
works have a cry, although they say nothing. Abel's blood cried against 
Cain, Gen. iv. 10. And as evil works, so good works have a cry. Though 
a man praise not God with his tongue, his works praise God. Job saith, 
' The sides of the poor blessed him,' Job xxxi. 20. What ! could their 
sides speak ? No ; but there was a real thanksgiving to God. Their sides 
blessed God. So our good works may praise God as well as our tongues 
and hearts. The heavens and the earth, they praise God, though they say 
nothing, because they stir us up to say something. ' Let men see your 
good works,' Mat. v. 16, that they may take occasion from thence to bless 
God, saith Clu-ist. Or else your praising of God is but a mere compliment- 
ing with God ; to give him thanks with the tongue, and after to dishonour 
him with your lives, Ps. 1. 16, ' What hast thou to do to take my name 
into thy mouth, sith thou hatest to be reformed ? ' What hast thou to do 
to take my name into thy mouth, either in prayer or in praise, when thou 
hatest to be reformed ? ' High words are unseemly for a fool,' saith the 
the wise man, Eccles. v. 3, x. 14. And what higher words than praise ? 
Therefore, praise for a man that lives in a blasphemous course of life, in a 
filthy course of life, praise is too high a word for a fool. We must praise 
God in our lives, or else not at all. God will not accept of it. It consists 
in these things. 

Now some directions how to perform it for ourselves and others. 

1. If we would praise God for ourselves, or for any, then let us look about 
us, let i(s look above us and beneath lis, let us look backward, look to the present, 
look forward. Everything puts songs of praise into our mouth. Have we 
not matter enough of our own to praise God for ? Let us look about us, 
to the prosperity of others. Let us praise God for the ministry, praise God 
for the maaistracy, praise God for the government whereia we live. There 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 11. 197 

are many gi'ievances in the best government, but a Christian heart con- 
sidereth what good he hath by that government, what good he hath by that 
ordinance, and doth not only dehght to feed on the blemishes, as flies do 
upon sores. It is a sign of a naughty heart to do so. Although a man 
should not be insensible of the ills of the times (for else how should we pray 
against them ?), yet he is not so sensible as to forget the good he hath by 
them. If we would praise God, let us look to the good, and not so much 
upon the ill. 

Look up to heaven, look to the earth, to the sea. David occasions 
praise from every creature. Every creature ministers matter of praise, 
from the stars to the dust, from heaven to earth, from the cedar to the 
hyssop that grows by the wall. Is there not a beam of God's goodness in 
every creature ? Have we not use of every creature ? We must praise 
God not only for the mojesty and order that shines in them, but for the use 
of them in respect of us. 

And so let us look to the works of providence, as well as to the works of 
creation. Look to God's work in his church, his confounding of his ene- 
mies, his deliverance of his church, the churches abroad, our own church, 
our own persons, our hiends. Thus we should feed ourselves, that we may 
have matter of praising God. God gives us matter every day. He renews 
his favours upon the place wherein we live and upon us, as it is Lam. iii. 
22, ' It is his mercy that we are not all consumed.' Let us look back to 
the favours that we have enjoyed ; let us look for the present. What doth 
he do for us ? The apostle saith here, ' God doth deliver us.' Doth he 
not give deliverance, and favour, and grace, inward grace for the time to 
come ? Hath he not reserved an inheritance, immortal and undefiled, in 
the heavens for us ? Wherefore doth he bestow things present, and where- 
fore doth he reveal things laid up for us for the time to come, but that we 
should praise him, but that we should praise him for that which he means 
to do afterwards ? ' Blessed be God the Father, who hath begotten us to 
an inheritance, immortal and undefiled,' &c., saith St Peter, 1 Pet. i. 4. 
God reveals good things that are to come, that we are heirs- apparent to the 
crown of glory. This is revealed that we might praise him now, that we 
might begin the employment of heaven upon earth. Let us look upward 
and downward, let us look about us, look inward, look backward, look to 
the present, look forward. Everything ministereth matter of praise to 
God. 

Yea, our very crosses. Happy is he whom God vouchsafeth to be angry 
with, that he doth not give him over to a reprobate sense lo fill up his sins, 
but that he will correct him, to pull him from ill courses. Happy is he 
that God vouchsafeth to be angry with in evil courses. There is a bless- 
ing hid in ill, in the cross. ' hi all thiiif/s give thanks,' saith the apostle, 
Eph. V. 20. \Vhat ! in afflictions ? Aye, not for the affliction itself, but 
for the issue of it. There is an effect in afflictions to draw us from the 
world, to di-aw us to God, to make us more heavenly-minded, to make us 
see better into these earthly things, to make us in love with heavenly things. 
' In all things give thanks.' When we want matter in ourselves, let us look 
abroad, and give thanks to God for the prosperity of others. 

2. And withal, in the second place, when we look about us, let its dwell 
in the meditation of the usefulness of these things, of the f/oodiiess of God in 
them, till our hearts be warmed. It is not a slight ' God be thanked ' that 
will serve, but we must dwell upon it. Let om- hearts dwell so long on the 
favours and blessings of God till there be a blessed fire kindled in us. The 



198 COMMENTARY ON 

best bone-fire ■■• of all is to have our hearts kindled with love to God in the 
consideration of his mercy. Let us dwell so long upon it till a flame be 
kindled in us. A slight praise is neither acceptable to God nor man, 

3. And then let us consider our own unworthiness, let us dwell upon that. 
' I am less than the least of all thy favours,' saith good Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 
10. If we be less than the least, then we must be thankful for the least. 
Humility is alway thankful. A humble man thinks himself unworthy of 
anything, and therefore he is thankful for anj'thing. 

A proud man praiseth himself above the common rate. He overvalues 
and overprizeth himself, and therefore he thinks he never hath enough. 
When he hath a great deal, he thinks he hath less than he deserves, and 
therefore he is an unthankful person ; and that makes a proud man so in- 
tolerable to God. He is alway an unthankful person, a murmuring person. 
A humble man, because he undervalues himself, he thinks he hath more 
than he deserves, and he is thankful for everything. He knows he de- 
serves nothing of himself. It is the mere goodness of God whatsoever he 
hath. 

The best direction to thanksgiving is to have a humble and low heart. 
Therefore David, 1 Chron. xxix. 14, when he would exercise his heart to 
thankfulness, when the people had given liberally, saith he, ' Who am I, or 
what is this people, that we should be able to ofier wiUingly after this sort ? 
All comes of thee, and all is thine own that we give.' What am I, or what 
is this people, that we should have hearts to give liberally to the temple ? 
See how he abaseth himself. And Abraham, ' I am dust and ashes, shall 
I speak to my Lord ? ' Gen. xviii. 27. And Job, ' I abhor myself in dust 
and ashes,' xlii. 6, when he considered God's excellency and his own base- 
ness. A humble heart is alway thankful, and the way to thankfulness ia 
to consider our humility. ' What am I ? ' saith David. He had a heart 
to be thankful. ' Of thine own I give thee.' Not only the matter to be 
thankful for, but of thine own I give thee ; when I give thee thanks, thou 
givest me a thankful heart. 

As the sacrifice that Abraham oflfered was found by God, so God must 
find the sacrifice that we ofi'er, even a thankful heart. Of thine own, Lord, 
I give thee, even when I give thee thanks. 

Therefore you may make that a means to have a thankful heart, to pray 
for a thankful heart. And when we have it, bless God for it, that we may 
be more thankful. God must vouchsafe the portion of a thankful heart 
with other blessngs. He that gives matter to be thankful, must give a 
heart to be thankful. 

4. Again, to make us more thankful, do but consider the misery of our- 
selves if we wanted the hleasiniia we are thaiikfulfor, and the misery of others 
that have them not. Thou that hast health, if thou wouldst be thankful for 
it, look abroad, look into hospitals, look on thy sick friends that cannot 
come abroad. Thou that wouldst be thankful for the liberty of the gospel, 
look beyoni. the ^eas, look into the Palatiinte, and other countries, and 
certainly this will make thee thankful, if anything will. If we would be 
thankful for spiritual blessings, consider the misery of ihose that are under 
the bondage of Satan, ho'v there is but a little step between them and hell, 
that they are ready to sink into it. There is but the short thread of this 
life to be cut, and they are lor ever miserable. If we would be thankful for 
any blessing, let us consider the misery to be without it. If we would be 

* Tliat is, ' bon-fire,' =: boon-fire, or fire of joy, voluntarily kindled. Cf. Richard- 
eon, sub voce. — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 11, 199 

thankful for our wits, let us consider distracted persons. What an ex- 
cellent engine to all things in this life, and the life to come, is this spark of 
reason ! If we want reason, what can we do in civil things ? What can 
we do in matters of grace ? Grace presupposeth nature. If we would be 
thankful for health, for strength, and for reason, if we would be thankful 
for common favours, consider the misery of those that want these things. 

Would we be thankful for the blessed ordinance, consider but the misery 
of those that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, how they are led 
by Satan and want the means of salvation. Those that would be thankful 
for the government we have, let them consider those that live in anarchy, 
where every man lives as he lists, where a man cannot enjoy his own. 
The consideration of these things it should quicken us to thankfulness, the 
consideration of our own misery if we should want them, and the misery of 
those that do want them. 

5. And let us keej^ a cataloffue of God's blessings. It will serve us, 
as in regard of God to bless him the more, so in regard of ourselves, to 
establish our faith the more ; for God is Jehovah, alway like himself. 
Whom he hath done good unto, he will do good to. He is constant in his 
love. * Whom he loves, he loves to the end,' John xiii. 1. God shall have 
more thanks, and we shall have more comfort. 

Again, to add some encom-agements and motives to thankfulness, which 
may be a forcible means to make us thankful, do but consider. 

(1.) It is God's tribute, it is God's custom. Do but deny the king his 
custom, and what will come of it ? Deny him tribute, and you forfeit all. 
So you forfeit all for want of thankfulness. 

What is the reason that God hath taken away the gospel from countries 
abroad, and may do from us if we be not more thankful ? Because they 
were not thankful. It is all the tribute, all the impost he sets upon his 
blessings. ' I will give you this,' but you shall glorify me with thanks- 
giving. It is aU the honour he looks for. ' He that praiseth me honoureth 
me,' Ps. 1. 23. And ' now, Israel, what doth the Lord require of thee,' 
for all his favours, but ' to serve him with a cheerful and good heart ?' Deut. 
X. 12, to be thankful. 

"What is the reason that the earth denies her own to us, that sometimes 
we have unseasonable years ? We deny God his own. He stops the due 
of the creature, because we stop his due. 

When we are not thankful he is forced to make the heavens as iron, and 
the earth as brass. We force him to make the creature otherwise than it 
is, because we deny him thankfulness. 

The running of favours from heaven ceaseth when there is not a recourse 
back again of thankfuhiess to him. For unthankfulness is a drying wind. 
It dries up the fountain of God's favours. It binds God. It will not sutler 
him to be as good as his word. If ever God give us up to public judgments, 
it will be because we are not thankful to God for favoui's and deliverances, 
as that in '88, by sea,* and from the gunpowder treason by land.f Was it 
not a sick state after Queen Mary, when Queen Elizabeth received the 
crown ? The church and commonwealth were sick. Now if we be to 
praise God for our particular persons, when we have recovered our health, 
much more should we praise God, when the state, when the church is de- 
livered, as it was at the coming in of Queen Elizabeth, and afterward in '88 ; 
and of late time, and continually he doth deliver us. And if we look that 

* That is, from the Armada, 1588. See note, vol. I. p. 318.— G. 
t ' Treason.' See note e. vol. I. p. 316. — G-. 



200 COMMENTARY ON 

lie should deliver us, not only our persons, but the state wherein we live, 
let us pray to God that he would do so, and praise God for his former 
deliverance. 

(2.) Again, this is another motive, the praising of God for former deliver- 
ances, it invites him to bestow new blessinr/s. Upon what ground doth the 
husbandman bestow more seed ? Upon that which hath yielded most in 
time past. Will any man sow in the barren wilderness where it is lost ? 
No ; but where he looks to reap most, and hath done fonnerly. Where he 
sees a soil that is fruitful, he will sow it the more ; and w^here the heart is 
a barren wilderness, that it yields nothing back again, he takes that away 
that he gave before. 

You know there is a debt in giving. There must be a returning of 
thanksgiving alway ; and kindness requires kindness. There is an obliga- 
tion. And where benefits are taken, and men are thankful, that is the way 
to get more, to be thankful for that we have. For God minds his own 
glory above all things, and he will especially be bountiful to those 
from whom he sees he hath most glory. Therefore alway those that have 
been richest in grace, and in comfort, they were most in thankfulness, as 
we see in David, ' a man after God's own heart,' 1 Sam. xiii. 14, Acts xiii. 
22, and in divers others. Let this encourage us. 

First, if we be not thankful, it stops the current of benefits. 

Secondly, if we be thankful God will give us more mercies and deliver- 
ances. When we praise him in our hearts, in our lives, in our bounty to 
others, in real thankfulness, when we are ready to good works, then he is 
ready to bestow new still. 

(3.) Again, to stir us up to this duty of praising God for ourselves and 
others, consider it is the heijlnning of heaven upon earth. What a happiness 
is it, that when our persons cannot go to heaven till we die, till our bodies 
be raised, yet we can send our ambassadors, we can send our prayers and 
thanksgivings to heaven ; and God accepts them, as if we came in our own 
persons. ' Let your conversation be in heaven,' saith the apostle, Philip, 
iii. 20. How is that ? By praising God much. I pray, what is the em- 
plo}Tnent of heaven, of the angels, and blessed spirits ? They praise God 
continually for the work of creation, and for the work of redemption. That 
is their especial task in heaven. Our duty is to be much this way, in prais- 
ing God. Self-love forceth prayer ofttimes ; but to praise God comes from 
a more heavenly afi'ection. 

(4.) Again, do but consider, that no creature in the xvorld is unthankful, but 
devils only, and devilish men ; and good men, only so far as they are cor- 
rupt and hold correspondency with their corruptions. For every .creature 
praiseth God in his kind, set the devil aside, who is full of envy and pride 
and malice against God. Therefore, except we will be like the devil, let 
us be thankful. God hath made all creatures to praise him, and to serve 
us, that we may praise him ; and when they praise him, shall we blaspheme 
him ? May not the swearer think with himself, every creature blesseth God, 
even the senseless creatures, and shall I dishonoiu' God by my tongue which 
should be my glory, to glorify him ? Shall I blaspheme him, and be like 
to the devil ? Shall I be more base than the senseless creatures ? What 
glory hath God by many men that live in the church, that blaspheme God ; 
and their whole life is a witness against God, as the whole life of a Chris- 
tian, after he is in the st:.io of grace, is a witness for God, and a praising 
of him. His whole life is a thanksgiving. So the whole life of wicked and 
careless creatm-es, is a dishonour of God, it is a witness against God. There 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 11. 201 

are none but devils, devilish-minded men, but they praise God, even the 
very dumb creatures. Let us labour to have a part in that blessed music 
and harmony to praise God. If we do not praise God here, we shall never 
do it in heaven. 

But we must remember, by the way, that this thankfulness it must be 
a fruitful thanksgiving. As for us to pray to God to bless us, avA then to 
do nothing, it is a barren prayer ; so to thank God, and then to do nothing, 
it is a barren thanksgiving. Our deeds have words, our deeds have a voice 
to God. They speak, they pray. There is a kind of prayer, a kind of 
tlianks in our works. Works pray to God. They have a kind of cry to 
God, both ill works and good works. And if good works have a cry to God 
in prayer, they will have a voice in thanksgiving. This fruitful, this real 
thanks, is that which God stands upon. 

And therefore it is alway joined with a study how to improve the things 
that we thank God for to the best advantage. If we thank God for health, 
and recovery, and deliverance, we will labour to improve it to God's glory. 
If we be thankful to God for riches, for peace, we will improve that to grow 
in grace, to do good to others. There is never a thankful heart, but it 
studies to improve that which it is thankful for really, that God may have the 
glory, and it the comfort, and benefit by it ; or else it is but a lip-labour, 
but a lost labour. 

Let us shame ourselves, and condemn ourselves for our unthankfulness ; 
and that will be done by comparing our carriage to men with our carriage to 
God. If so be that a man do us a little courtesy, how are we confounded 
if we have not returned some thanks ? And yet, notwithstanding, from 
God we have all that we have, all that we are, all that we hope to have ; 
and yet how many benefits do we devour, and do not return God thanks ? 

This disproportion will shame the best Christian, that he is not so quick 
in his devotion to God to be thankful there, as he is sensible of small kind- 
nesses done by men. This is a good way to make us more thankful. 

And now when we come to the sacrament, let us bless God. The 
Eucharist is a thanksgiving. Where there are many, there should be 
thanksgiving. Where there is a communion there is many ; and thanks- 
giving should be especially of vaanj met together to thank God for Christ, 
and for the good we have by him. For if many joined together in praise 
for St Paul that was but a minister, that was but an instrument to set out 
the praise and the doctrine of Christ, much more should we be thankful to 
God for Christ himself, which is the gift of all gifts, and for which he gives 
us all other gifts. If he give us him, can he deny us anything ? If we be 
thankful for the health of our bodies, as indeed we should, if we be thank- 
ful for the peace of our humours, much more should we be thankful 
for the peace of our consciences, when our souls are set in tune, when 
God and we are friends, when the soul by the Spirit of God is set at peace, 
and is fit for the praise of God, and is fit to do good ; when it is a health- 
ful soul. 

As in the body, it is a sign it is sick when the actions are hindered ; so it 
is likewise with the soul. 

We should bless God for ability to do good, for any health in our souls, 
more than for health of body. Do but consider, if we are to thank God for 
the instruments of good, much more are we to thank him for the good things 
themselves. If we should thank God for the ministers (for now I stand upon 
that, many prayers and praises were given to God for St Paul) much more 
should we be thankful for that which we have by the ministry, that is, for 



Ii02 COMMENTARY ON 

all the blessings of God, for grace and glory, for life and salvation. It is tha 
ministry of life, * and the power of God to salvation,' Rom. i. 16. We 
should be thankful to God for peace, ' we are the messengers of peace,' 
Eph, vi. 15. We should be thankful to God for grace, and for his Holy 
Spirit ; the Spirit is given with it. We should be thankful especially for 
spiritual favours. A man cannot be thankful to God for health and hberty, 
unless first he know God to be his, that he can bless God for spiritual 
favours. ' Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath 
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, Eph. i. 3. We should be 
thankful for Christ, and all the benefits we have by Christ, much more than 
for any other blessings whatsoever. 

Therefore, now seeing we are a communion, let praise be given by many.* 
We have greater matters than the health of a minister (or any particular 
person, either ourselves or others) to be thankful for. We have greater 
cause, being to bless God for the greatest gift that ever he gave, even for 
Christ. The disposition in a feast is to be joyful, and cheerful, to praise 
God. Now we are to feast with God, and with Jesus Chiist. Christ is not 
only the food, but he invites us, he is with us. What will we do for Christ 
if we will not feast with him ? What a degree of unthankfulness is it, when 
we will not so much as feast with him ? when we will not willingly receive 
him ? What will he do for Christ that will not feast with him ? How unfit 
will he be to praise God, and praise Chiist, that when Christ makes a feast 
of himself, and gives himself together with the bread and wine, representing 
the benefit of his body and blood, broken, and shed for us, and all his bene- 
fits ? If we will not feed upon himself, when he stoops so low as to give him- 
self for us, and to feed us with himself, what will we do ? How can we be 
thankful for other blessings, when we are not thankful for himself ? And 
how can we be thankful for himself, when we will not come and partake of 
him? 

Let us stir up our hearts and think now to take the communion ; as for 
matter of repentance and sorrow, it should be despatched before. It is the 
Eucharist, a matter of thanksgiving. We should raise our hearts above 
earthly things. We should consider that we are to deal with Christ, and 
these are but representations. 

When the bread is broken, think of the body of Christ ; and when the 
wine is poured out, think of the blood of Christ. And w'hen our bodies 
are cheered by these elements, think how our souls are refreshed by the 
blood of Christ by faith. If we should be thankful to God for bodily de- 
liverance, how much more should we thank him for our souls, being 
deUvered from hell by the blood of Christ, which is the grand deliverance ? 
Let us dispose our hearts to thankfulness. It is a fit disposition for a 
feast. 

And, as I said, take heed of sin. It chokes thankfulness. Therefore ex- 
amine thy purposes, how thou comest. If thou come with a purpose to 
live in sin, thou art an unfit receiver. The place we stand in is holy, the 
business is holy, we have to deal with a holy God ; and therefore if we pur- 
pose not to relinquish wicked courses, and to enter into covenant with God, 
to abstain from sin, we come not aright. * When thou comest into the 
house of God, take heed to thy feet,' saith the wise man, Eccles. v. 1. Take 
heed to thy affections ; consider with whom thou hast to deal. But if thou 
hast renewed thy repentance, and thy purposes with God for the time to 
come, come with cheerfulness, with a thankful disposition. Thankfulness 
* Margin-note here. 'It was a sacrament day.' — G. 



2 CORINTHUNS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 20c' 

is a disposition for a feast. If it be a disposition for bodily deliverance, it 
is much more for the deliverance of the soul ; and much more for Chi-ist, 
and the blessings we have by him, who is ' all in all.' * That thanks may 
be given by many on our behalf.' 



"VEESE 12. 

* For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,^ &c. St Paul in 
these words doth divers things at once. 

1. He shews a reason why many should pray for him, and give thanks 
on his behalf. You have cause, saith he, ' for our rejoicing is this, the testi- 
mony of our conscience,' &c. Therefore if many of you give thanks to 
God for me, it is your duty. My conscience bears me witness that I have 
carried myself well towards you. You have cause to pray for us, and 
to praise God for oui' deliverance, for you have received much good by 
us. God conveys much good by public persons to those that ai-e under 
them. Therefore there ought to be many prayers, and many thanks, for 
them. 

2. And again, they ought to pray and give thanks for him, because they 
should not lose their labour, they should not lose their prayers, their incense; 
because it should be for a man that was gracious with God, that had the 
testimony of his conscience that he walked in simplicity and godly sincerity, 
as he saith, ' Pray for us, for we are assured that we have a good conscience,' 
Heb. xiii. 18. So they are a reason of the former. 

3. Another thing that he aims at is, the preventing* of some imputations. 
He was accused in their thoughts at least, and by the words of some false 
teachers, that were his worst enemies, as you have no enemy, next to the 
devil, to a minister, like a minister. If a man would see the spirit of the 
devil, let him look to some of them. St Paul had many enemies, many 
false brethren, that laid false imputations upon him to disparage him in the 
thoughts of others, in the thoughts of his hearers. They accounted him 
an inconstant man, that he came not to them when he promised ; and that 
he suffered affliction, and it was like enough for some desert. They ac- 
counted him a despicable man. He suffered afflictions in the world. He 
wanted discretion to keep himself out of the cross. Nay, saith he, what- 
soever you impute to me, and lay upon me, ' our rejoicing is this, the tes- 
timony of our conscience,' &c. 

4. Again, he aims at this, to lay the blame upon those false brethren who 
deserved it. They think I am a deceiver, they think I am wily. No ! 
I do not walk so, I do not walk in fleshly wisdom as they do that seek 
themselves, and not you. So I say, St Paul aims at divers things in bring- 
ing in these words. 

We see here, first of all, that 

Doct. The more eminent a man is for place and gifts, the more he should he 
prayed for, and the more thanks should be given for him. 

You have cause, saith St Paul, to do it for me ; for our rejoicing is this, 
that ' we have walked in simplicity and sincerity, &c., and more abundantly 
to you- ward.' St Paul was a brother as he was a Christian. He was a 
father, in regard he had called them to the faith ; and he was an apostle. 
In all regards they ought to praise God for him ; because he was a father, 
because he was the father of them, ' you have not many fathers,' saith he, 
* That is, ' anticipating.' — G. 



204 COJIilENTAEY ON 

and because he was an apostle, a man eminent, by whose means God con- 
veyed a world oi good to the church. 

To make way to the main thing, observe this in general, that 

Obs. CJiristiaus are often driven to their apology. 

Especially ministers, the fathers of Christians. Holy men in the church 
are driven to their apology and defence ; because those that shine in their 
own consciences, wicked men labour to darken them in their reputation, 
that their own wickedness may be the less seen and observed. It hath 
alway been the policy of Satan, and of wicked men, that so all might seem 
alike, to lay aspersions upon those that were better men than themselves. 
St Paul is forced to make his apology, to retire to the testimony of his 
conscience. ' Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,' &c. 

Use. Therefore make this use of it, not to think it strange if we be driven 
to our apology. 

Quest. But some may say. Is not the life the best apology ? as St Peter 
saith, ' that you may stop the mouths of gainsay ers.' 

Ans. Yes, of all apologies life is the best, to oppose to all imputations ; 
but notwithstanding it is not enough. 

A man is cruel if he make not his apology and defence sometimes. 
Because his imputations * tend to the hurt of others, being public persons, 
especially ministers, who have so much authority in the hearts of people, 
as they can gain by their good life and desert. And if any imputation Ue 
upon them, they are to clear it in words. Their life will not serve the turn, 
but they must otherwise make their apology, if it be needful, for themselves, 
as St Paul doth here. It is not only lawful, but expedient sometimes, to 
speak by way of commendation of oui'selves. 

In what cases ? 

1. Not only in case of thankfulness to God, to praise God for his graces 
in us. 

2. And likewise in case of example to others, a man may speak of God's 
work in him, he may tell what God hath done for his soul, and in his soul, 
that God may have glory, and others may have benefit. 

3. But likewise in the third place, and it was St Paul's case here, a man 
jaay speak of himself, by way of apology and defence, that the truth suflfer 
not. It is a kind of betraying the cause, lor a man to be silent when he is 
so accused. Though, as I said, a good life be the best apology, and except 
there be a good life the verbal apology is to little purpose, yet the apology 
of life ofttimes in public persons is too little. In these cases we must speak 
of ourselves, and of the good things of God in us. 

Qmst. But another query f may be here. May a man glory in that which 
is in him, of the grace of God that is in him ? Our glorying should 
be in Christ, in the obedience and righteousness of Christ, and in God re- 
conciled through Christ. Can a Christian glory in anything that is in him, 
which is imperfect ? 

Ans. I answer briefly, St Paul doth not here glory in the court of justifi- 
cation, but in the court of a Christian conversation. Therein a man may 
glory in the work of grace in him, in those inward works, and the works 
that flow from them. When a man is to deal with men, he may set forth 
his life, nay, when a man is to deal with God, he may set forth his sincerity, 
not, I say, in the court of justification, but in the court of sanctification, 
and a holy Hfe. There good works are the ornament of the spouse. They 
are her jewels. But come to the court of justification, all are dung, as the 
* That is, imputations against him. — G. t Spelled ' (juere.' — G. 



2 ORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 205 

apostle saith, ' all are dung and dross,' Philip, iii. 8 ; not worthy to bo 
named. They are not able, they are not strong enough. All that comes 
from us, and all that is in us, it is not able to bear us out in glorying in the 
court of justification. 'All are stained as menstruous cloths,' Isa. xxx. 22. 

But mark, St Paul speaks of glorying before men, of a sanctified hfe. 
He glories not in his conversation and sincerity as a title, but he glories in 
it as an evidence that his title is good. That whereby he hath his title, is 
only by the righteousness of Christ. That he hath heaven, and is free 
from hell, that is the title. But what evidence have you that Christ and 
his righteousness is yours ? There must be somewhat wrought in you, 
and that is sincere walking. So he allegeth it as an evidence of his state 
in grace, that that was good. So we see in what case he gloried in his 
sincerity. 

To come to the words. 

For the words themselves, they contain the blessed temper of St Paul's 
spirit in the midst of disgraces, in the midst of imputations. The temper 
of his spirit it was joyful, glorying. 

' Our rejoicing is this.' The ground of it is, ' the testimony of our con- 
science.' 

The matter whereof conscience doth witness and testify, it is conversa- 
tion. That is the thing testified of. 

And the manner positively, ' in simplicity and godly sincerity.' * In 
simplicity.' You would think this to be a simple commendation, to com- 
mend himself for simplicity ; but it is a godly simplicity, whereby we are 
like to God, to be simple without mixture of sin and hypocrisy, without 
mixture of error and falsehood. That simplicity that is despised by carnal 
wretches that stain and defile their consciences, and call them what you 
will, so you account them not simple. They despise the term of an honest, 
simple man. 

Simplicity is not here taken for a defect of knowledge, as the word is 
commonly used, but for an excellency whereby we resemble God ; that is, 
free from all mixture of sin and ignorance. ' In simpUcity and godly sin- 
cerity.' And then negatively, ' not in fleshly wisdom.' 

And then, because this setting out of himself might seem to be ostenta- 
tion, to set down his glorying in his conscience, and in his simplicity, 
here is a qualification of it likewise. Indeed I glory in my simplicity, and 
sincerity, that is, in my conversation ; but it is by the grace of God. By 
the grace of God my conversation hath been in godly sincerity, and not in 
fleshly wisdom. For St Paul was wondrous jealous of his heart, for fear 
of pride ; not I, saith he, ' I laboured more than they all ; 0, not I, but the 
grace of God that was in me,' 1 Cor, xv. 10. He was afraid of the least 
insinuation of spiritual pride, and so he saith here ' Our rejoicing is the 
testimony of our conscience, that in simpHcity and sincerity, by the grace 
of God.' 

And then the extent of this conversation, thus in simplicity and sincerity, 
in regard of the object. It hath been thus, ' In the world, towards all men 
that I have conversed with. They can say as much, wheresoever I have 
lived ; ' And more abundantly to you- ward.' My care and conscience hath 
been to carry myself as I should, ' more abundantly to you-ward,' with 
whom I have lived longest. This is an excellent evidence of a good man, 
that he is best liked where he is best known. Now St Paul had lived long 
amongst them, and he was their father in Christ ; and therefore, saith he, 
my conversation is known, especially to you-ward. 



206 COMMENTARY ON 

Many men are best trusted where they are least known. Their public 
conversation is good and plausible, but their secret courses are vile and 
naught, as those know that are acquainted with their retired courses. But 
you, saith the apostle, with whom I have lived longest, with whom I have 
been most, you can bear witness of my conversation, that I have lived so 
and so in the world, and more abundantly to you- ward. 

' This is oui- rejoicing,' &c. We see here the temper and disposition that 
St Paul was in. He was in a glorying, in a rejoicing estate. We see then 
that 

A Christian, take him at the worst, his estate is a rejoicing estate. 

' Our rejoicing is this.' The word in the original is more than joy, for 
it is ■/.av'^risi;, a glorying. ' Our glorying ' is this, which is a joy mani- 
festing itself in the outward man, when the heart and the spirit seem as it 
were to go outward, and, as it were, to meet the thing joyed in. A 
Christian hath his joy, his glorying, and a glorying that is proper to him- 
self. It is a spiritual joy, as it follows after, ' Our rejoicing is the testimony 
of our conscience.' 

So good is God, that in the worst estate he gives his children matter of 
rejoicing in this world. He gives them a taste of heaven before they come 
there. He gives them a grape of Canaan, as Israel. They tasted of 
Canaan, what a good land it was, before they came thither. So God's 
childi'en, they have their rejoicing. St Paul swears and protests it, 1 Cor. 
XV. 31, ' By our rejoicing in Christ Jesus I die daily.' As verily as we joy 
in all our afflictions, so this is true that I say, that I die daily. 

Use. Therefore we should labour to be of such a temper, as that we may 
glory, and rejoice. A Christian hath his rejoicing, but it is a spiritual 
rejoicing, like his estate. Every creature hath his joy, as St Chrysostom 
speaks. We do all for joy. All that we do is that we may joy at length. 
It is the centre of the soul. As rest is to motion, so the desire of all is to 
joy, to rest in joy. So that heaven itself is termed by the name of joy, 
happiness itself, 'Enter into thy master's joy,' Matt. xxv. 21. Every 
creature hath his joy proper to him. Every man hath his joy. A carnal 
man hath a carnal joy, a spiritual man hath a holy joy. 

1. First, he joys in his election, which was before all worlds, that his 
name is written in heaven, as it is, Luke x. 20, ' Rejoice in this, that your 
names are written in heaven, and not that the devils are subject unto you.' 

2. And then, he joys in his justification, that he is freed from his sins, 
Rom. V. 1, 'Being justified by faith we have peace with God through 
Christ, and we rejoice in afflictions.' Being justified first. There is the 
way how this joy comes in. A Christian being justified by faith, and freed 
from the guilt of his sin, it worketh joy. 

3. And then, there is a joy of sanctification, of a good conscience, of a 
holy life led, as we see here, ' Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our 
conscience, '&c. 

4. And then, there is a joy of glory to come. * We rejoice under the hope of 
glory,' saith the apostle, Rom. v. 2. So a Christian's joy is suitable to himself. 

There is no other man that can glory, and be wise, because all men but 
a Christian, ' they glory in their shame,' Philip, iii. 19, or they glory in 
vanishing things. A Christian is not ashamed of his joy, of his glorying, 
because he glories not in his shame. Therefore the apostle here justifies 
his joy. Our rejoicing is this, I care not if all the world know my joy, it 
is the ' testimony of my conscience.' As if he should say. Let others 
rejoice in base pleasures which they will not stand to avow ; let others 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 207 

rejoice in riclies, in honours, in the favour of men ; let them rejoice in what 
they please, my joy is another kind of joy. ' I rejoice in the testimony of 
my conscience.' A Christian, as he hath a joy, so he hath a joy that he 
wiU stand to, and make it good. There is no other man but he will blush, 
and have shame in his forehead, that joys in anything that is baser than 
himself, that joys in outward things. He cannot stand to it, and say, This 
is my joy. But a Christian hath the warrant of his conscience for that 
which he joys in, and therefore he is not ashamed of it. Another man 
dares not reveal his joy. 

All the subtilty of the world, is to have the pleasures that sin will afford ; 
and yet withal they study to cover it, that it may not appear. Where is 
the joy of the ambitious ? 

His study, his thought, and his joy is to have respect, Haman-like ; and 
yet he studies to conceal this. He dares not have it known. He dares 
not avow it. ' This is my rejoicing ; ' for then all the world would laugh 
at him for a vain person. 

Again, the joy of the base-minded man, is in his pleasure, but he dares 
not avow this. He dares not say, my rejoicing is this ; for then eveiy man 
would scorn him as a beast. The rich man, he joys in his riches, but he 
dares not be known of this, for he would then be accounted a base earthly- 
minded man. Every man would scorn him. He studies to have all the 
pleasure, and all the comfort that these things will afford, and yet to cover 
them. Because he thinks, that there is a higher matter that he should joy 
in, if he were not an atheist. 

A Christian is not ashamed of his joy, and rejoicing. * I rejoice in this,* 
saith he. For, 

1. It is ivell bred. It is bred from the Spirit of God witnessing that his 
name is written in the book of life, witnessing that his sins are forgiven, 
witnessing that he lives as a Christian should do, witnessing that he hath 
the evidences of his justification, that he hath a holy hfe, the pledge 
likewise of future glory. His joy is well bred. 

2. Likewise it is pei-manent. Other men's joy and rejoicing is but as 
a flash of thorns, as the wise man calls it, as it were, a flame in thorns ; 
as the crackling of thorns, which is sooner gone. And it is an unseemly 
glorying and rejoicing, for a man to glory in that which is worse than him- 
self, and in that which is out of himself. As all other things are out of a 
man's self, and worse, and meaner than a man's self; therefore a man 
cannot rejoice in them, and be wise. It is a disparagement to the wisdom 
of a man, to glory in things that are meaner than himself, and that are out 
of himself. A holy Christian hath that in himself, and that which is more 
excellent than himself, to glory in. ' This is our rejoicing, the testimony 
of our conscience.' 

All other rejoicing it is vain glory, and vain rejoicing. Therefore in 
Jer. ix. 23, saith he, ' Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let 
not the strong man glory in his strength, let not the rich man glory in his 
riches ; ' but if a man will glory, ' let him glory that he knows the Lord to 
be his,' and that he knows himself to be the Lord's. When he knows the 
Lord to be his, and himself to be God's by faith, and a good conscience, 
then there is matter of gloiying. 

Of all kind of men, God doth hate proud boasters most of all ; for glory 
is the froth of pride, and God hates pride. He opposeth pride, and sets 
himself in battle array against it, and who can thriye that hath God for his 
enemy ? Boasting and pride in any earthly thing it is against all the com- 



208 COMMENTARY OX 

mandments almost. It is idolatry, it makes that we boast, and glory in, an 
idol ; whereas we should glory in God that gives it. 

And it is spiritual adultery, when we cleave in our affections to some 
outward thing more than to God. It is false witness. Pride is a false 
glass. It makes the things and the men themselves that enjoy them to 
seem greater than they are. The devil amplifies earthly things to a carnal 
man in a false glass, that they seem big to him ; whereas if he could see 
them in their true colours, they are false things, they are snares and hin- 
drances in the way to heaven, and such names they have. The Scripture 
gives an ill report of them, ' They are vanity and vexation of spirit,' 
Eccles. i. 14 ; because we should be discouraged fi'om setting our affections 
on these things, and from glorying in them. 

Therefore let us take heed of false glorying. If we will glory, we see 
here what we are to glory in. ' This is om* rejoicing, the testimony of our 
conscience,' &c. And this we may justify and stand by that. It is good. 
It is the ' testimony of conscience.' 

' This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience.' 

The testimony of conscience, it is a matter and ground of joy to a true 
Christian. Here we are to consider these things. 

First, to consider a little the nature of conscience. 

And then, that conscience bears witness ; that there is a testimony of con- 
science. 

And that this conscience bearing witness is a ground of comfort. 

For the first. 

Every man feels and knows what conscience means. There be many rigid 
disputes of it among the schoolmen that had leisure enough ; and of all men 
knew as little, and felt what it waa, as any sort of men, living under the 
darkness of popery and superstition, and being in thraldom to the pope, 
and to the corruptions of the times they lived in. They have much 
jangling about the description of it, whether it be the soul itself, or a faculty, 
or an act. 

In a word, conscience is all these in some sort, in divers respects. 
Therefore I will not wrangle with any particular opinion. 

1. For rchat is conscience, but the soul itseJf reflecting upon itself ? It is 
the property of the reasonable soul and the excellency of it, that it can re- 
turn upon itself. The beast cannot ; for it runs right forward. It knows 
it is carried to the object ; but it cannot return and recoil upon itself. But 
the soul of the reasonable creature, of all even from men to God himself, 
who understands in the highest degree, though he do not discourse as man 
doth, yet he knows himself, he knows and understands his own excellency. 
And wheresoever there is understanding, there is a reflect act whereby the 
soul returns upon itself, and knows what it doth. It knows what it wills, 
it knows what it affects, it knows what it speaks, it knows all in it, and 
all out of it. It is the property of the soul. Therefore the original 
word in the Old Testament that signifies the heart, it is taken for the 
conscience {gg). Conscience and heart are all one. I am persuaded in 
my soul, that is, in my conscience ; and the Spirit witnesseth to our spirit, 
that is, to our conscience. Conscience is called the spirit, the heart, the 
soul ; because it is nothing but the soul reflecting and returning upon itself. 

Therefore it is called conscience, that is, one knowing joined with an- 
other ; because conscience knows itself, and it knows what it knows. It 
knows what the heart is. It not only knows itself, but it is a knowledge 
of the heart with God. It is called conscience, because it knows with God ; 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP, I, VER. 12. 209 

for what conscience knows, God knows, that is above conscience. It is a 
knowledge with God, and a knowledge of a man's self. 

And so it may be the soul itself endued with that excellent faculty of re- 
flecting and returning upon itself. Therefore it judgeth of its own acts, 
because it can return upon itself. 

2. Conscience likewise in some sort may be called a faculty. The com- 
mon stream runs that way, that it is a power. It is not one power, 
but conscience is in all the powers of the soul ; for it is in the understand- 
ing, and there it rules. Conscience is it by which it is ruled and guided. 
Conscience is nothing but an application of it to some particular, to some- 
thing it knows, to some rules it knows before. Conscience is in the will, 
in the affections, the joy of conscience, and the peace of conscience, and so 
it runs through the whole soul. It is not one faculty, or two, but it is 
placed in all the faculties. 

3. And some will needs have it an act, a particular act, and not a power. 
Wlien it doth exercise, conscience, it is an act. Wlien it accuseth, or ex- 
cuseth, or when it witnesseth, it is an act. At that time it is a faculty in 
act. So that we need not to wrangle whether it be this or that. Let us 
comprehend as much in om* notions as we can ; that it is the soul, the heart, 
the spirit of a man returning upon itself, and it hath something to do in all 
the powers ; and it is an act itself when it is stirred up to accuse or to 
excuse ; to punish a man with fears and terrors, or to comfort him with joy, 
and the like. 

Now conscience is a most excellent thing, it is above reason and sense ; 
for conscience is under God, and hath an eye to God alway. An atheist 
can have no conscience therefore, because he takes away the ground of con- 
science, which is an eye to God. Conscience looks to God. Itisplacedas God's 
deputy and vicegerent in man. Now it is above reason in this respect. Rea- 
son saith, you ought to do this, it is a comely thing, it is a thing acceptable 
with men amongst whom you live and converse, it becomes your condition as 
you are a man to carry yourself thus, it agrees with the rules and principles 
of nature in you. Thus saith reason, and they are good motives from reason. 
But conscience goeth higher. There is a God to whom I must answer, there is 
a judgment, therefore I do this, and therefore I do not this. It is a more 
divine, a more excellent power in man than anything else, than sense or 
reason, or whatsoever. As it is planted by God for special use, so it looks 
to God in all. 

Therefore the name for conscience in the Greek and Latin signifies a 
knowledge with another {lili) ; because it is a knowledge with God. God 
and my own heart knows this. God and my conscience, as we use to say. 

There are three things joined with conscience. 

1. It is a knowledge tcith a rule, trith a general rule. That is alway the 
foundation of conscience in a man (iij. For there is a general rule. — Who- 
soever commits murder, whosoever commits adultery, whosoever is a blas- 
phemer, a swearer, a covetous, corrupt person, ' he shall not enter into the 
kingdom of heaven,' as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vi. 9, seq. Here is the 
general rule. Now conscience applies it, but I am such a one, therefore I 
shall not enter into heaven. So here the conscience it practiseth with a rule. 
It is a knowledge of those particulars with a general rule. And then, 

2. It is a knowledge of me, of my own heart. I know what I have done, 
I know what I do, and in what manner, whether in hypocrisy or sincerity ; I 
know what I think. And then, 

3. It is a knowledge with God ; for God knows what conscience knows. 

VOL. III. o 



210 COMMENTARY ON 

He knows what is thouglit or done. Conscience is above me, and God is 
above conscience. Conscience is above me and above all men in the 
world ; for it is immediately 'subjugated to God. Conscience knows more 
than the world, and God knows a thousand times more than conscience or 
the world. It is a knowledge with a general rule ; for where there is no 
general rule there is no conscience. To make this a little clearer. All 
have a rule. Those that have not the word, which is the best rule of all, 
yet they have the word wi-itten in their hearts ; they have a natural judi- 
catm-e in their souls, their conscience excusing, or accusing one another. 
They have a general rule. You must do no wrong, you must do that which 
is right. 

In the soul there is a treasure of rules by nature. The word doth 
add more rules, the law and the gospel. And that part of the soul that 
preserv^es rules is called intellectual, because it preserves rules. All men 
by nature have these graven in the soul. And therefore the heathen were 
exact in the rules of justice, in the principles which they had by nature, 
grafted and planted in them. 

Now because the copy of the image of God, the law of God written in 
nature, was much blurred since the fall, God gave a new copy of his law, 
which was more exact. Therefore the Jews, which had the word of God, 
should have had more conscience than the heathen, because they had a 
better general rule. And now we having the gospel too, which is a more 
evangelical rule, we should be more exact in our lives than they. 

But every man in the world hath a rule. If men ' sin without the law, 
they shall be judged without the law,' Rom. ii. 12, by the principles of 
nature. If they sin under the gospel, they shall be judged by the word 
and gospel. So that conscience, it is a knowledge with a rule, and with 
the particular actions that I have done, and a knowledge with God. 

In a word, to clear this further concerning the nature of conscience, know 
that God hath set up in man a court, and there is in man all that are in a 
court. 

1. There is a register to take notice of what we have done. Besides the 
general rule (for that is the ground and foundation of all), there is con- 
science, which is a register to set down whatsoever we have done exactly. 
The conscience keeps diaries. It sets down everything. It is not for- 
gotten, though we think it is, when conscience is once awaked. As in Jer. 
xvii. 1, ' The sins of Judah are written with a pen of iron, and with the point 
of a diamond ' upon their souls. All their wit and craft will not rase it 
out. It may be forgotten a while, by the rage of lusts, or one thing or 
other ; but there is a register that writes it down. Conscience is the 
register. 

2. And then there are witnesses. ' The testimony of conscience.' Con- 
science doth witness, this I have done, this I have not done. 

3. There is an accuser with tlie ivltness. The conscience, it accuseth, or 
excuseth. 

4. And then there is the judge. Conscience is the judge. There it doth 
judge, this is well done, this is ill done. 

6. Then there is an executioner, and conscience is that too. Upon 
accusation and judgment, there is punishment. The first punishment is 
within a man alway before he come to hell. The punishment of conscience, 
it is a prejudice* of future judgment. There is a flash of heU presently 
after an ill act. The heathen could observe, that God hath framed the 
* That is, ' pre-judgment.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 211 

heart and tlie brain so as there is a sympathy between them, that whatso- 
ever is in the understanding that is well and comfortable, the understanding 
in the brain sends it to the heart, and raiseth some comfort. If the under- 
standing apprehend dolorous things, ill matters, then the heart smites, as 
David's ' heart smote him,' 1 Sam. xxiv. 5. The heart smites with gi'ief 
for the present, and with fear for the time to come. 

In good things, it brings joy presently, and hope for the time to come, 
that follows a good excusing conscience. 

God hath set and planted in man this court of conscience, and it is God's 
hall, as it were, wherein he keeps his first judgment, wherein he keeps his 
assizes. And conscience doth all the parts. It registereth, it witnesseth, it 
accuseth, it judgeth, it executes, it doth all. 

Now you see in general, what the nature of conscience is, and why it is 
planted in us by God. 

One main end among the rest, besides his love to us to keep us from 
sin, and then by smiting us to drive us to conversion and repentance, to 
turn from our sins to God, another main end, is to be a prejudice,* to 
make way to God's eternal judgment ; for therein things are judged before. 
When God lays open the book of conscience, when it is wi-itten there by 
this register, we shall have much to do to excuse ourselves, or to plead that 
we need many witnesses ; for our conscience will accuse us. We shall be 
self-accusers, self-condemners, as the apostle saith. Conscience will take 
God's part, and God will take part with conscience. And God hath planted 
it for this main end, that he might be justified in the damnation of wicked 
men at the day of judgment. 

Now I come to the second particular, that conscience gives evidence or 
witness. ' This is the evidence or testimony of our conscience.' The 
witness of conscience it comes in this order. Upon some general rules, 
that the conscience hath laid up in the soul, out of nature, and out of the 
book of God, the conscience doth apply those generals to the particulars. 

First, in directinri. This is such a truth in general, you ought to carry 
yourself thus and thus, to do this, saith conscience.! So it directeth, and 
is a monitor before it be a witness. Well, if the monitions of conscience 
be regarded and heard, from thence comes conscience to witness, that the 
general rule that dhects in particulars hath been obeyed ; and so after it 
hath done its duty in directing, it comes to judge and to witness, this I 
have done, or this I have not done. So the witness of conscience comes in 
that manner. 

Now if you would know what manner of witness conscience is. It is, 
1. A witness that there is no exception ar/ainst. It is a witness that will 
say all the truth, and will say nothing but the truth. It is a witness that 
will not be bribed, it will not be corrupted long. For a time we may 
silence it, but it will not be so long, nor in all things. Some sins may be 
slubbered over, but there are some sins that by the general light in nature 
are so known to be naught;}: that conscience will accuse. Therefore it is a 
faithful judge and witness ; especially in great sins, it is an uncorrupt 
witness. It is a true register. It is alway writing and setting down, 
though we know not what it writes for the present, being carried away with 
vanities and lusts. Yet we shall know afterward, when the book of con- 
science shall be laid open. 

It is a witness that we cannot impeach. No man can say, I had nobody 

* That is, 'prejudgment.' — G. f Margin-note here, 'Joseph's brethren.'— G. 
X That is, ' naughty, wicked.' — G. 



212 COMMENTARY ON 

to tell me. Alas ! a man's own conscience will tell him well enough at 
the day of judgment, and say to him when he is in hell, as Reuben said to 
his brethren, when they were in Egj'pt in prison, ' Did not I tell you, hurt 
not the boy ?' Gen. xxxvii. 22, seq, meddle not with him. So conscience 
will say, Did not I witness ? did not I give you warning ? Yes, I did, 
but you regarded it not. It is a faithful witness. There is no exception 
against it. 

2. And then it is a)i imvard witness, it is a domestic witness ; a chaplain 
in ordinary, a domestical divine. It is alway telling us, and alway ready 
to put good things into us. It is an eye-witness, and an ear-witness ; for 
it is as deep in man as any sin can be. If it be but in thought, conscience 
tells me what I think ; and conscience tells me what I desire, as well as 
what I speak, and what I do. It is an inward and an eye-witness of 
everj'thing. As God sees all, and knows all, who is all eye ; so conscience 
is all eye. It sees everything, it hears everything. It is privy to our 
thoughts. 

As we cannot escape God's eye, so we cannot escape the eye of con- 
science. * Whither shall I flee from thy presence ? ' saith David. ' If I 
go to heaven, thou art there ; if I go down into hell, thou art there,' Ps. 
cxxxix. 7. So a man may say of conscience, "VVhither shall I flee from 
conscience ? If a man could flee from himself, it were somewhat. Con- 
science is such a thing as that a man cannot flee from it, nor he cannot 
bid it begone. It is as inward as his soul. Nay, the soul will leave the 
body, but conscience will not leave the soul. What it writes, it writes for 
eternity, except it be wiped out by repentance. As St Chrysostom saith, 
whatsoever is written there may be wiped out by daily repentance. 

You see, then, it is a witness, and how and what manner of witness con- 
science is. 

Use. Therefore, we should not sin in hope of concealment. What if thou con- 
ceal it from all others, canst thou conceal [it from] thy own conscience ? As 
one saith well. What good is it for thee that none knows what is done, when 
thou knowest it thyself ? What profit is it for him that hath a conscience 
that will accuse him, that he hath no man to accuse him but himself ? He 
is a thousand witnesses to himself. Conscience is not a private witness. 
It is a thousand witnesses. Therefore, never sin in hope to have it con- 
cealed. It were better that all men should know it than that thyself should 
know it. All will be one day written in thy forehead. Conscience will be 
a blab. If it cannot speak the truth now, though it be bribed in this life, 
it will have power and efficacy in the life to come. Never sin, therefore, in 
hope of concealment. Conscience is a witness. We have the witness in 
us ; and^ as Isaiah saith, ' Our sins witness against us.* It is in vain to 
look for secrecy. Conscience will discover all. 

Use. Again, considering that conscience doth witness, and will witness, 
let us labour that it may witness well, let us labour to ftiniish it with a good 
testimony. Let us carry ourselves so in all our demeanour to God and men 
that conscience may give a good testimony, a good witness. It will witness 
either for us or against us. 

1. Therefore, first of all, labour to have good rules to guide it, and then 
labour to obey those rules. Knowledge and obedience are necessary, that 
conscience may give a good witness. Now, a good vntness of conscience 
is twofold : a true and honest witness, and then a peaceable witness fol- 
lows on it ; that it may witness truth, and then that it may witness peace 
for us. 



2 OOBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 218 

That conscience may witness truly and excuse us, conscience must be 
rightly instructed ; for naturally conscience can tell us many things. The 
heathen men, philosophers, we may read it to our shame, they made con- 
science of things which Christians, that are instructed by a further rule 
than conscience, that have the book of God to rectify the inward book of 
conscience, yet they make no conscience of. How many cases did they 
make scruple of, to discover faults to the buyer in their selling, and to deal 
truly and honestly, for the second table especially ! It should make Chris- 
tians ashamed. 

But besides that rule, we have the rule of the Scriptm-es, because men 
are ready to trample upon and to rase out the writing of conscience, but the 
book of God they cannot ; therefore, that is added to help conscience. 
And God adds his Spirit to his word to convince conscience, and to make 
the witness of the word more effectual ; for although the word say thus and 
thus, yet till the Spirit convince the soul, and set it dowTi that it is thus, 
till it convince it with a heavenly light, conscience will not be fully convict. 
That conscience, therefore, may be able to witness well, let us regard the 
notions of nature, preserve them. If we do not, God will give us up to 
gross sins. Let us labour to have right principles and grounds, to cherish 
principles of nature common with the heathens, and to lay up principles 
out of the word of God, to preserve the admonitions, and directions, and 
rules of the word. 

And especially the sweet motions of God's blessed Spirit. For conscience 
alway supposeth a rule, the rule of nature, the rule of the word, and the 
suggestions of the blessed Spirit with the word. 

Therefore, to note by the way, an ignorant man can never have a good 
conscience, especially a man that affects ignorance, because he hath no rule. 
He labours to have none. It is not merely ignorance, but likewise obstinacy 
with ignorance. 

He will not know what he should, lest conscience will force him to do 
what he knows. What a sottish thing is this ! It will be the heaviest sin 
that can be laid to our charge at the day of judgment, not that we were ig- 
norant, but that we refused to know, we refused to have our conscience 
rectified and instructed. 

And those that avoid knowledge because they will not do what they know, 
they shall know one day that their wilful ignorance will be laid to their 
charge as a heavy sin. 

Labour to have right principles and grounds. What is the reason that 
commonly men have such bad consciences ? They have false principles. 
They conclude, May I not do what I list ? may I not make of my own 
what I will ? and every man for himself, and God for us all. Diabolical 
principles ! And so, commonly if a man examine men that live in wicked- 
ness, they have false principles, God sees not, God regards not, and it is 
time enough to repent. The cause that men live wickedly is false prin- 
ciples. Therefore they have so vile consciences as they have. Their hearts 
deceive them, and they deceive their hearts. They have false principles 
put into them by others. They are deceived, and they deceive their hearts. 
They force false principles upon themselves. Many study for false grounds 
to live by for their advantage. 

There are many that are atheistical, that live even under the gospel, and 
what rule have they ? The example of them by whom they hope to rise. 
They study their manners. They square their lives by them. This is all 
^•he rule they have. 



214 COMMENTARY ON 

And again, the multitude. They do as the most do, and custom, and 
other false rules. These rules will not comfort us. To say, I did it hy 
such an example, I did as others among whom I live did, or I did it be- 
cause it was the custom of the times ; these things being alleged will com- 
fort nothing. For who gave you these rules ? Doth God say anywhere in 
his word, You shall be judged by the example of others, you shall be judged 
by the custom of the times you live in ? 

No ; you shall be judged by my word. The word that Moses spake, 

* and the word that I speak, shall judge you ' at the last day, John xii. 48. 
They that have not the word shall be judged by the word wi'itten in their 
hearts. * Those that have sinned without the law ' shall be judged by that, 

* without the law of Moses,' Rom, ii. 12. 

God hath acquainted us with other rules. We must take heed of this, 
therefore, that we get good rules. Take heed that they be not false rules. 
For the want of these directions men come to have ill consciences. Where 
there is no good rule, there is a blind conscience ; where there is no appli- 
cation of the rule, there is a profane conscience ; and where there is a false 
rule, there is an en-oueous, a scrupulous, a wicked conscience. 

A papist, because he hath a false rule, he cannot have a good conscience. 
The abomination of popeiy is, that they sin against conscience ; and con- 
science, indeed, is even with them, for it overthrows the most of their prin- 
ciples. They sin against conscience many ways, I mean not against their 
own conscience, but they sin against the conscience of others. For what 
do they ? That they may rule in the consciences of men (for that is the 
end of their great prelate, the tyrant of souls), they have false rules, that 
the pope cannot err. Their rule is the authority and judgment of him that 
cannot err ; and he, for the most part, is an unlearned man in divinity, that 
never read over the Scriptures in all his life, and he must judge all contro- 
versies. Where this is gi-anted, that the pope cannot err, he sits in the 
conscience to do what he list. And he makes divine laws ; and cursed is 
he, saith the Council of Trent, that doth not equalise those traditions with 
the word of God (jj). 

From this false rule comes all, even rebellion itself. If he give dispen- 
sation from the oath of allegiance because he cannot err, therefore they 
ought to obey him, and rebel against their governors. All rebellion is from 
that rebellious rebellion that comes from false principles. ■ These men talk 
of conscience, and they come not to church for conscience sake. What con- 
science can they have when they have false rules ? To equivocate and lie, — 
sins against nature. And other rules, that give liberty against the word; that 
children may disobey their parents, and get into a cloister, &c. 

The most of popery, though there were no word of God, it is against 
nature, against conscience, which God hath planted in man as his deputy, 
his tenant. 

And as they sin against conscience, so, as I said, conscience is even with 
them. For let a man trust to his conscience, and he can never be a sound 
papist : except he leave that, and go upon base false grounds, because other 
great men do it, and because his predecessors have done it, &c. I appeal 
to their own consciences, if any man at the day of death think to be saved 
by his merits, doth not Bellarmine (after long dispute of salvation by merits) 
disclaim it ?* doth he not put away merits, for the uncertainty of his own 
righteousness ? So their own consciences do wring away the testimony of 
trusting to merits. 

* See Note ff, vol. I. p. 313.— G, 



2 CORI^THIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 215 

Again, that original sin is no great sin. It is but the cause of sin, and 
it is less than any venial sin. Oh, but when conscience is awaked to know 
what a coiTupt estate it is, it will draw from them that which it drew from 
St Paul, * wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body 
of death ?' Eom. vii. 24. Conscience, when it is awaked, wiU tell them that 
it is another manner of sin, and that it is the fountain of all sin. 

And so for justification by works. Conscience itself, if there were no 
book of God, would say it is a false point. And then they plead for igno- 
rance. They have blind consciences. Their clergy being a subtle gene- 
ration, that have abused the world a long time, because they would 
sit in the conscience where God should sit, they ' sit in the temple of God,' 
2 Thess. ii. 4, and would be respected above that which is due to them — 
they would be accounted as petty gods in the world. Therefore they keep 
the people from the knowledge of the true rule, and make what they speak 
equal with God's word. Now if the people did discern this, they would 
not be papists long ; for no man would willingly be cozened. Let us labour 
therefore for a true rule. 

2. And when we have gotten rules, fippln them ; for what are rules with- 
out application ? Eules are instrumental things ; and instruments without 
use are nothing. If a carpenter have a rule, and hang it up by him, and 
work by conceit, what is it good for ? So to get a company of rules by the 
word of God (to refine natural knowledge as much as we can), and then to 
make no use of it in our lives, it is to no purpose ; therefore when we have 
rules, let us apply them. 

In this, those that have the true rule, and apply it not, are better than 
they that refuse to have the rule, because, as hath been said, an ignorant 
man that hath not the rule, he cannot be good. But a man that hath the 
rule, and yet squares not his life by it, yet he can bring the rule to his life. 
There is a near converse between the heart and the brain. Such a man, 
he hath the rule in his memoiy, he hath it in his understanding ; and 
therefore there is a thousand times more hope of him that cares to know, 
that cares to hear the word of God, and cares for the means, than of sot- 
tish persons that care not to hear, because they would not do that they 
know, and because they would not have their sleepy, dull, and drowsy con- 
science awaked. There is no hope of such a one. It should be our care 
to have right rules, and in the application of them to make much of con- 
science, that it may apply aright in directing, and then in comfort. If we 
obey it in du'ecting, it will witness and excuse ; and upon witness and 
excuse, there wiU come a sweet paradise to the soul, of joy and peace un- 
speakable and glorious. 

The last thing I observe from these words is this, that 

Doct. The testimony and witness of conscience is a ground of comfort 
and joy. 

The reason of the joining these two, the witness of a good conscience, 
and joy, it is that which I said before in the description of conscience ; for 

1. Conscience first admonisheth, and then uitnesseth, and then it excuseth, or 
accuseth, and then it judgeth, and executeth* Now the inward execution of 
conscience is joy, if it be good ; for God hath so planted it in the heart and 
soul, that where conscience doth accuse, or excuse, there is alway execu- 
tion. There is alway joy or fear. The affections of joy or fear alway fol- 
low. If a man's conscience excuse him, that he hath done well, then con- 
science comes to be enlarged, to be a paradise to the soul, to be a jubilee, 
* In the margin ' Frou the office of conscience.' — G. 



216 COJIiIi;NTAE^ ON 

a rcfresliing, to speak peace and comfort to a man. For rewards are not 
kept altogether for the life to come. Hell is begun in an ill conscience, and 
heaven is begvm in a good conscience. An ill conscience is a hell upon 
earth, a good conscience is a heaven upon earth. Therefore the testimony 
of a good conscience breeds glorying and rejoicing. 

2. Again, conscience when it witnesseth, it coniforts, because when it wit- 
nessetJi, it witncssieth with God; and where God is, there is his Spirit, and 
where the Holy Spirit is, there is joj. For even as heat follows the fire, 
so joy and glorying accompany the Spirit of God, ' the Spirit of glory,' 
1 Pet. i. 14. Now when conscience witnesseth aright, it witnesseth with 
God ; and God is alway clothed with joy. He brings joy and glory into 
the heart. Conscience witnesseth with God that I am his. 

3. And it ivituesseth ivith vujseJf that I have led vii/ life thus, ' Our re- 
joicing is the witness of our conscience.' It is not the witness of another 
man's conscience, but my own. Other men may witness, and say I am 
thus and thus, but all is to no pm-pose, if my own conscience tell me 
I am another man than they take me to be. But when a man's own 
conscien'^e witnesseth for him, there follows rejoicing. A man cannot 
rejoice with the testimony of another man's conscience, because another 
man saith, I am a good man, &c., unless there be the testimony of my own 
conscience. 

Now it is a sweet benefit, an excusing conscience, when it witnesseth 
well. Let us see it in all the passages of life, that a good conscience in 
excusing breeds glorying and joy. 

It doth breed joy in life, in death, at the day of j}ulgment. 

1. In life, in all the passages of life, in all estates, both good and ill. 

(1.) In fjood, the testimony of conscience breeds joy, for it enjoys the 
pleasures of this life, and the comforts of it with the favour of God. Con- 
science tells the man that he hath gotten the things well that he enjoys, 
that he hath gotten the place, and advancement that he hath, well : that he 
enjoys the comforts of this life with a good conscience, and ' all things are 
pure to the pure,' Titus i. 15. If he have gotten them ill, conscience up- 
braids him alway, and therefore he cannot joy in the good estate he hath. 
If a man had all the contentments in the world, if he had not the testimony 
of a good conscience, what were all ? Wliat contentment had Adam in 
paradise, after once by sin he had fallen from the peace of conscience ? 
None at all. * A little that the righteous hath, is better than great riches 
oi the ungodly,' Prov. xvi. 8, because they have not peace of conscience. 

(2.) And so for ill estate, when conscience witnesseth well, it breeds 
rejoicing, 

[1.1 In false imputations, and slanders, and disgraces, as here, it was 
insinuated into the Corinthians by false teachei's, and those that followed 
them, that St Paul was so and so. Saith St Paul, You may say what you 
will of me, ' my rejoicing is this, the testimony of my conscience,' that I 
am not the man which they make me to be in your hearts by their false 
reports. The witness of conscience is a good and sufficient ground of re- 
joicing in this case. Therefore holy men have retired to their conscience 
in all times, as St Paul you see doth here. 

So Job, his conscience bare him out in all the false imputations of his 
comfortless friends that were ' miserable comforters,' Job xvi. 2. They 
laboured to take away his sincerity from him, the chief cause of his joy. 
' You shall not take away my sincerity,' saith he, Job xxvii. G. You would 
make me an hypocrite, and thus and thus, but my conscience tells me I am 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 217 

otherwise, therefore ' you shall not take away my innocency from me.' 
And in Job xxxi. 35, ' Behold, it is my desire, that the Almighty would 
answer me, and that my adversaries would write a book against me, I would 
take it upon my shoulder, I would take it as a crown unto me.' Here was 
the force of a good conscience in Job's troubles, that if his adversaries should 
write a book against him, yet he would bind it as a crown about him, 
xxxi. 36. And so David, in all imputations this was his joy, when they 
laid things to his charge that he had never done : he takes this for his joy, 
the comfort of his conscience. So St Paul, he retires to his conscience, 
and being raised up with the worthiness of a good conscience, he despiseth 
all imputations whatsoever. He sets conscience up as a flag of defiance to 
all false slanders and imputations that were laid against him, as we see in 
the story of the Acts, and in this place and others. Saith he in one place, 
* I pass not for man's sentence,' 1 Cor. iv. 3, I pass not for man's day. 
Man hath his day, man will have his judgment-seat, and will get upon the 
bench, and judge me that I am such and such. I care not for man's day. 
There is another judgment-seat that I look unto, and to the testimony of 
my conscience, ' My rejoicing is the witness of my conscience.' 

Holy men have cause to retire to their own consciences, when they 
would rejoice against false imputations. So holy St Austin, what saith he 
to a Donatist that wronged him in his reputation ? ' Think of Austin what 
you please, as long as my conscience accuseth me not with Grod, I wUl give 
you leave to think what you will ' (kk). 

If so be that man's conscience clears him, he cares not a whit for reports; 
because a good man looks more to conscience than to fame. Therefore if 
conscience tell him truth, though fame lie he cares not much ; for he 
squares not his life by report, but by conscience. Indeed he looks to a 
good name, but that is in the last place. 

For a good man looks first to God, who is above conscience ; and then 
he looks to conscience, which is under God ; and then, in the third place, 
he looks to report amongst men. And if God and his conscience excuse 
him, though men accuse him, and lay imputations upon him, this or that, 
he passeth little for man's judgment. So the witness of conscience, it 
comforts in all imputations whatsoever. 

r2.J Again, it comforts in sickness. Hezekiah was sick. What doth he 
retire unto ? ' Remember, Lord, how I have walked uprightly before thee,' 
Isa. xxxviii. 3. He goes to his conscience. 

In sickness, when a man can eat nothing, a good ' conscience is a con- 
tinual feast,' Prov. xv. 15. In sorrow it is a musician. A good conscience 
doth not only coimsel and advise, but it is a musician to delight. It is a 
physician to heal. It is the best cordial, the best physic. All other are 
physicians of no value, comforts of no value. If a man's conscience be 
wounded, if it be not quieted by faith in the blood of Christ ; if he have 
not the Spirit to witness the forgiveness of his sins, and to sanctify and 
enable him to lead a good life, all is to no purpose, if there be an evil con- 
science. The unsound body while it is sick, it is in a kind of hell already. 

[3.] Again, take a man in any cross ichatsoever, a good conscience doth bear 
out the cross, it bears a man up alway. Because a good conscience, being a 
witness with God, it raiseth a man above all earthly things whatsoever. 
There is no earthly discouragement that can dismay a good conscience, 
because there is a kind of divinity in conscience, put in by God, and it 
witnesseth together with God. So that in all crosses it comforts. 

So likewise in losses, in want, in want of friends, in want of comforts. 



218 COMMENTAEY ON 

in want of liberty ; what doth the witness of a good conscience in all these ? 
In want of friends, it is a friend indeed ; it is an inward friend, a near friend 
to us. Put the case that a man have never a friend in the world, yet he 
hath God and his own conscience. Where there is a good conscience, there 
is God and his Holy Spirit alway. In want of liberty, in want of outward 
comforts, he hath the comfort of a good conscience. 

A man on his death-bed, he sees he wants all outward comforts, but he 
hath a good conscience. And so in want of liberty, when a man is restrained, 
his heart is at liberty. 

A wicked man that hath a bad conscience, is imprisoned in his own 
heart. Though he have never such liberty, though he be a monarch, a 
bad conscience imprisons him at home, he is in fetters, his thoughts make 
him afraid of thunder, afraid of everything, afraid of himself ; and though 
there be nobody else to awe him, yet his conscience awes him. Where 
there is a conscience under the guilt of sin unrepented, [though] there is 
the greatest liberty in the world, there is restraint ; for conscience is the 
worst prison. Where there is a good conscience, there is an inward en- 
largement. A good man in the greatest restraint hath liberty. Paul and 
Silas, Acts xvi., in the dungeon, in the hell of the dungeon, in the worst 
place of the dungeon, in the stocks, and at the worst time of the day, of 
the natural day, I mean, at midnight, and in the worst usage, when they 
were misused, and whipped withal, they had all the discouragements that 
could be ; and yet they sang at midnight, these blessed men, Paul and 
Silas. Because their hearts were enlarged, there was a paradise in the 
very dungeon. 

As where the king is, there is his court, so it is where God is. God in 
the prison, in the noisome dungeon, by his Spirit so enlarged their hearts, 
that they sang at midnight. Whereas if conscience be ill, if it were in 
paradise, conscience would fear, as we see in Adam, Gen. iii. 8. St Paul 
in prison was better than Adam in paradise, when he had offended God. 
Adam had outward comforts enough ; but when he had sinned, his con- 
science made him afraid of him from whom he should have all comfort ; it 
made him afraid of God, and hide himself among the leaves. Alas, a poor 
shift ! We see then, conscience doth witness, and the witness of it when 
it is good doth cause the soul to glory and rejoice, not only in positive 
ills, in slanders and crosses, but in losses, in want of friends, in want of 
comforts, in want of liberty. 

And so for the time to come, in evils threatened, a good conscience is 
bold : ' It fears no ill tidings,' Ps. cxii. 8. ' My heart is fixed, my heart is 
fixed,' saith David. * Wicked men are like the trees of the forest. Wicked 
Ahaz,' his heart ' did tremble and shake as the leaves with the wind,' Isa. vii. 
2. The noise of fear is alway in their ears. An ill conscience, when it is 
mingled with ill news, when there are two fears together, it must needs be 
a great fear. 

2. And a good conscience, when it hath laid up grounds of joy in Hfe, 
in the worst estate and condition of life, then it makes use of joy in death ; 
for when all comforts are taken from a man, when his friends cannot com- 
fort him, and all earthly things leave him, then that conscience that hath 
gone along with him, that hath been a monitor, and a witness all his life- 
time, now it comes to speak good things to him, now it comforts him, now 
conscience is somebody. At the hour of death, when nothing else will be 
regarded, when nothing will comfort, then conscience doth. * The righteous 
hath hope in his death,' as the wise man saith, Prov. xiv. 32. Death is 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 219 

called the king of fears, because it makes all afraid. It is the terrible of 
terribles, saith the philosopher ; but here is a king above the king of fears. 
A good conscience is above the king of fears, death. A good conscience is 
so far from being discouraged by this king of fears, that it is joyful even in 
death ; because it knows that then it is near to the place where conscience 
shall be fuUy enlarged, where there shall be no annoyance, nor no grievance 
whatsoever. 

Death is the end of misery, and the beginning of happiness. Therefore 
a good conscience is joyful in death. 

3. And after death, at the day of judgment. There the witness of con- 
science is a wondrous cause of joy ; for there a man that hath a good con- 
science, he looks upon the Judge, his brother : he looks on him with whom 
he has made his peace in his lifetime before, and now he receives that 
which he had the beginnings of before, then he Hfts up his head with joy 
and comfort. So you see how the witness of conscience causeth glory and 
joy in all estates whatsoever, in life, in death, after death. It speaks for a 
man there. It never leaves him till it have brought him to heaven itself, 
where all things else leave a man. 

Therefore, how much should we prize and value the testimony and 
witness of a good conscience ! And what madness is it for a man to 
humour men, and displease conscience, his best fi-iend ! Of all persons 
and all things in the world, we should reverence our own conscience most 
of all. Wretched men despise the inward witness of this inward friend, 
this inward divine, this inward physician, this inward comforter, this in- 
ward counsellor. It is no better than madness that men should regard 
that everything else be good and clean, and yet notwithstanding in the 
midst of all to have foul consciences. 

Ohj. But to answer an objection, and to unloose some knots. It may be 
said, that when the hearts of people are good, yet there a good conscience 
concludes not alway for comfort. Where there is faith in Christ, and an 
honest life, conscience should conclude comfort. Here is the rule, this I 
have obeyed, therefore I should have comfort. 

Now this we see crossed ofttimes, that Christians that live exact lives are 
often troubled in conscience. How can trouble of conscience stand with joy 
upon the witness of conscience ? 

Ans. I answer, the witness of conscience, when it is a good conscience, 
it doth not alway breed joy. 

1. It is because our estate is imperfect here, and conscience doth not alway 
witness out of the goodness of it. Sometime conscience is misled, and so 
sometimes good Christians take the error of conscience for the witness of 
conscience. 

These things should be distinguished. Conscience sometime in the best 
errs, as well as gives a true witness. 

If we take the error of conscience for the witness of conscience, there 
will come trouble of conscience, and that deservedly, through our own folly. 

Now conscience doth err in good men, sometimes when they regard rules 
which they should not, or when they mistake the matter and do not argue 
aright. As for instance, when they gather thus, I have not grace in such 
a measure, and therefore I have none, I am not the child of God. 

What a rule is this ? This is the error of conscience ; and therefore it 
must needs breed perplexity of conscience. A good conscience, when it is 
right, cannot witness thus, because the word doth not say thus. Is a nullity 
and an imperfection all one ? No ; there is much difference in the whole 



220 COMMENTAKY ON 

kind. A nullity is nothing. An imperfection, though it be but a little 
degree, yet it is something. This is the error of conscience, and from 
thence comes trouble of conscience, which makes men reason ill many ways. 
As for instance, I have not so much grace as such a one hath, and therefore 
I have no grace. Now that is a false reasoning ; for every one hath his 
due measure. If thou be not so great a rich man as the richest in the 
town, yet thou mayest be rich in thy kind. 

2. Again, when conscience looks to the huviour. You are to live by faith, 
and not by the humour of melancholy. When the instrument of reason 
that should judge is distempered by melancholy, it reasons from thence 
fiilsely. Because melancholy persuades me that I am so, therefore conscience 
being led by the humour of the body, saith I am so. Who bade thee hve 
by humour ? thou must live by rule. Melancholy may tell thee sometime 
when it is in strength, that thou art made of glass, as it hath done some. 
It will deceive thee in bodily things, wherein sense can confute melancholy, 
much more will it if we yield to it in matters of the soul. It will persuade 
us that we are not the children of God, that we have not grace and good- 
ness when we have. 

3. Again, hence it is that conscience doth not conclude comfort in God's 
children, because it looks to the ill, and not to the good that is in them ; for 
there are those two things in God's children. There is good and ill. Now 
in the time of temptation they look to the ill, and think they have no good, 
because they will not see anything but ill. They fix their eyes on the re- 
mainders of their rebellious lusts, which are not fully subdued in them, and 
they look wholly on them. Whereas they should have two eyes, one to 
look on that which is good, that God may have glory and they comfort. 

Now they, fixing their eyes altogether on that which is naught, and be- 
cause they do not, or will not, see that which is good, therefore they have 
no comfort ; because they suffer conscience to be iU led that it doth not 
its duty. 

And conscience in good men, it looks sometimes to that that it should 
not in others, in regard of others. It looks to the flourishing of wicked 
men, and therefore it concludes, * Certainly I have washed my hands in 
vain,' since such men thrive and prosper in the world, Ps. xxxvii. 35, seq., 
and Ps. Ixxiii. 13. Who bade thee look to this, and to be uncomfortable 
from thence, that thy estate is not good, because it is not such an estate ? 
' So foolish, and as a beast was I before thee,' saith David, because I re- 
garded such things, Ps. Ixxiii. 22. No marvel if men be uncomfortable that 
are led away by scandals. Look to faith, go to the word, to the sanctuary. 
' I went to the sanctuary,' saith he, * and there I saw the end of these 
men,' ver. 17. So conscience must be suffered to have its work, to be led 
by a true rule. 

4. Again, conscience sometimes concludes not comfort, when there 
is ground of comfort, /rom the remainders of corruptions and infirmities; 
whereas we should be driven by our infirmities to Christ. And conscience 
sometimes in good men doth not exercise its work. It is drawn away with 
vain delights, even in the best of men. 

And conscience, of its own unworthiness, and of the greatness of the 
things it looks for, being joined together, it makes a man that he joys not when 
he hath cause. As for instance, when the soul sees that God in Christ hath 
pardoned all my sins, and hath vouchsafed his Spirit to me, and will give 
me heaven in the world to come, to such a wretch as I am ; here being a 
conflict between the conscience and sense ot its own unworthiness, and the 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 221 

greatness of the good promised, the heart begins to stagger, and to doubt 
for want of sound faith. 

Indeed, if we look on our own unworthiness, and the greatness of the 
good things promised, we may wonder ; but alas !* God is infiijite in good- 
ness, he transcends our unworthiness ; and in the gospel, the glory of 
God's mercy, it triumphs over our unworthiness, and over our sins. What- 
soever our sin and unworthiness is, his goodness in the gospel triumphs 
over all. 

In innocency God should have advanced an innocent man ; but the 
gospel is more glorious. For he comes to sinnei's, to condemned persons 
by nature, and yet God triumphs over their sins and unworthiness. He 
regards not what we deserve, but what may stand with the glory of his 
mercy. Therefore we should banish those thoughts, and enjoy our own 
privilege, the promises of heaven, and happiness, and all comforts whatso- 
ever. So much for the answer of that objection. 

Now if we would joy in the witness of a good conscience, we must espe- 
cially in the time of temptation live by faith, and not by feeling, not by 
what we feel for the present. But as we see Christ in his gi'eatest horror, 
' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' Mark xvii. 34, he goes 
to mij God still, we must ' hve by feith and not by sense,' 2 Cor. v. 7. 

And then if we would rejoice in extremities, remember that God works by 
contraries. God will bring us to heaven, but it must be by hell. God will 
bring us to comfort, but it must be by sense of our own unworthiness. He 
will forgive our sins, but it must be by sight and sense of our sins. He 
will bring us to life, but it must be by death. He will brmg us to glory, 
but it must be by shame. God works by contraries ; therefore in con- 
traries believe contraries. When we are in a state that hath no comfort, 
yet we may joy in it if we believe in Christ. He works by contraries. 

As in the creation he made all out of nothing, order out of confusion ; so 
in the work of the new creation, in the new creature, he doth so likewise ; 
therefore be not dismayed. 

Remember this rule likewise, that in the covenant of grace God requires 
truth, and not measure. Thou art not under the law, but under the 
covenant of grace. A little fire is true fire as well as the whole element of 
fire. A drop of water is water as well as the whole ocean. So if it be 
true faith, true grief for sins, true hatred of them, true desire of the favour 
of God, and to grow better ; truth is respected in the covenant of grace, 
and not any set measm-e. 

What saith the covenant of grace ? ' He that believes and repents shall 
be saved,' Mark xvi. 16, not he that hath a strong faith, or he that hath 
perfect repentance. So St Paul saith, as we shall see after, * This is our 
rejoicing, that in simplicity and sincerity we have had our conversation 
among you,' 2 Cor. i. 12. He doth not say, that our conversation hath 
been perfect. So if we would have joy in the testimony of conscience, we 
must not abridge ourselves of joy, because we have not a perfect measure 
of grace ; but rejoice that God hath wrought any measure of grace in such 
unclean and polluted hearts as ours are. For the least measure of grace is 
a pledge of perfection in the world to come. 

' This is our rejoicing, the testimony / our conscience^ dc. Hence we may 
gather clearly, that 

Obs. A man may know his own estate in grace. 
* See note, p. 169.— G. 



222 COMMENTARY ON 

I gather it from the place thiis, ' Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of 
our conscience, that in simplicity,' &c. 

Where there is joy, and the ground of joy, there is a knowledge of the 
estate ; but a Christian hath glorying, and a ground of glorying in himself, 
and he knows it. He hath that in him that witnesseth that estate. He 
hath the witness of conscience ; therefore he may know and be assured of 
it. If this testimony were not a true testimony, it were something. But 
all men naturally have a conscience ; and a Christian hath a sanctified 
conscience. And where that is, there is a true testimony, and true joy 
from that testimony. Therefore he may be assured of his salvation, and 
have true joy and comfort, a heaven upon earth before he come to heaven 
itself. 

If conscience testify of itself, and from witnessing give cause of joy, much 
more the Spirit of God coming into the conscience, ' The Spirit bears 
witness with our spirits.' If our spirit and conscience bear witness to us 
of our conversation in simplicity and sincerity, and from thence of our 
estate in grace, much more by the witness of two. ' By the witness of two 
or three everything shall be confirmed,' Matt, xviii. 16 ; but our spirits, 
and conscience, and the Spirit of God, which every child of God hath, 
witnesseth that we are the children of God, Rom. viii. 14, et alibi. * The 
Spirit witnesseth with our spirits that we are the sons of God.' Therefore 
a Christian may know his estate in grace. 

The spirit of a man knows himself, and the Spirit of God knows him 
likewise, and it knows what is in the heart of God ; and when these two 
meet, the Spirit of God that knows the secrets of God, and that knows our 
secrets, and our spirit that knows our heart likewise, what should hinder 
but that we may know our own estate ? It is the nature of conscience, as 
I told you, to reflect upon itself and upon the person in whom it is, to know 
what is known by it, and to judge, and condemn, and execute itself, by 
inward fear and terror, in ill ; and in good, by comfort and joy in a man's 
self. It is the property that the soul hath above all creatures, to return and 
recoil upon itself. If .this be natural to man, much more to the spirit of a 
man. For if a man know what is in himself naturally, his own wit, and 
understanding, which is alway with him, bred up with him, much more he 
knows by his spirit the things that are adventitious, that come fi-om without 
him, that is the work of grace. 

If a man, by a reflect knowledge, know what naturally is in him, in what 
part he hath it, and how he exerciseth it ; if he know and remember what 
he hath done, and the manner of it, whether well or ill ; then he may know 
the work of the Spirit that comes from without him, that works a change 
in him. 

We say of light, that it discovers itself and all other things ; so the soul 
it is lightsome, and therefore knows itself and knows other things. 

The Spirit of God is much more lightsome. Where it is it discovers 
itself, and lighteneth the soul. It discovereth the party in whom it is. 
As the apostle saith, 1 Cor. ii. 12. * We have the Spirit, whereby 
we know the things that we receive of God.' It not only worketh in 
us, but it teacheth us what it hath wrought. Therefore a Christian knows 
that he is in the state of grace, he knows his virtues, and his disposi- 
tion ; except it be in the time of temptation, and upon those grounds 
named before. 

Therefore we should labour to know our estate, to ' examine ourselves 
whether we be in the faith or no, except we be reprobates and castaways,' 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, YEB.. 12. 223 

as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. A Christian should aim at this, to 
understand his own estate in grace upon good grounds. 

Ohj. But it may be objected ; how can we know our estate in grace, our 
virtues are so imperfect, our abiUties are so weak and feeble. 

Am. I answer, the ground of judging aright of our estate, it is not 
worthiness or perfection, but sincerity. We must not look for perfection. 
For that makes the papists to teach that there may be doubting, because 
they look to false grounds ; but we must look to the ground in the covenant 
of grace, to grace itself, and not to the measure. Where there is truth and 
sincerity, there is the condition of the covenant of grace, and there is a 
ground for a man to build his estate in grace on. 

The perfect righteousness of Christ is that that gives us title to heaven ; 
but to know that we have right in that title, is the simplicity and sincerity 
in our walking, in our conversation, as the apostle saith here, ' This is our 
rejoicing,' &c. Therefore Christians, when they are set upon by tempta- 
tions of their own misdoubting hearts, and by Satan, they must not go to 
the great measure of grace that is in others, that they have not so much 
as others, and therefore they have none ; nor to the great measure of grace 
that they want themselves, but to the truth of their grace, the truth of their 
desires and endeavours, the truth of their affections. * Hereby we know 
that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren,' 
1 John iii. 14. 

Use. This should stir us up to have a good conscience, that we may rejoice. 
Why should we labour that we may rejoice ? Why ? what is our life with- 
out joy ? and what is joy without a good conscience ? 

What is our life without joy ? Without joy we can do nothing. We 
are like an instrument out of tune. An instrument out of tune it yields 
but harsh music. Without joy we are as a member out of joint. We can 
do nothing well without joy, and a good conscience, which is the ground of 
joy. A man without joy is a palsy-member that moves itself unfitly, and 
uncomely. He goes not about things as he should. A good conscience 
breeds joy and comfort. It enables a man to do all things comely in the 
sight of God, and comfortably to himself. It makes him go cheerfully 
through his business. A good * conscience is a continual feast,' Prov. xv. 
15. Without joy we cannot suffer afflictions. We cannot die well without 
it. Simeon died comfortably, because he died in peace, when he had 
embraced Christ in his heart, and in his arms. Mat. ix. 36. Without joy 
and the ground of joy we can neither do nor suffer anything. Therefore 
in Psalm li. 12, David, when he had lost the peace and comfort of a good 
conscience, he prays for the free Spirit of God. Alas ! till God had enlarged 
his heart with the sense of a good conscience in the pardon of his sins, and 
given him the power of his Spirit to lead a better hfe for the time to come, 
his spirit was not free before. He could not praise God with a large spirit. 
He wanted freedom of spirit. His conscience was bound. His lips were 
sealed up. ' Open my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise,' Ps. 
li. 15. His heart was bound, and therefore he prays to have it enlarged. 
' Restore to me thy joy and salvation,' Ps. li. 12 ; intimating that we can- 
not have a free spirit without joy, and we cannot have joy without a good 
conscience sprinkled with the blood of Christ, in the pardon of our sins. 

If it be so, that we cannot do anything nor suffer anything as we should, 
that we cannot praise God, that we cannot live nor die without joy, and the 
ground of it, the testimony of a good conscience ; let us labour, then, that 
conscience may witness well unto us. 



22-4 COMMENTARY ON 

Especially considering tliat an ill conscience, it is the worst thing in the 
world. There is no friend so good as a good conscience. There is no foe 
so ill as a bad conscience. It makes us either kings or slaves. A man 
that hath a good conscience, that witnesseth well for him, it raiseth his 
heart in a princely manner above all things in the world. A man that hath 
a bad conscience, though he be a monarch, it makes him a slave. A bad 
conscience embitters all things in the world to him, though they be never 
so comfortable in themselves. What is so comfortable as the presence of 
God ? What is so comfortable as the light ? Yet a bad conscience, that 
wiU not be ruled, it hates the light, and hates the presence of God, as we 
see Adam, when he had sinned, he fled from God, Gen. iii. 8. 

A bad conscience cannot joy in the midst of joy. It is like a gouty foot 
or a gouty toe covered with a velvet shoe. Alas ! what doth it ease it ? 
What doth glorious apparel ease the diseased body ? Nothing at all. The 
ill is within. There the arrow sticks. 

And so in the comforts of the word, if the conscience be bad, we that are 
the messengers of comfort, we may apply comfort to you ; but if there be 
one within that saith thus. It is true, but I regarded not the word before, I 
regarded not the checks of conscience, conscience will speak more terror 
than we can speak peace. And after long and wilful rebellion, conscience 
will admit of no comfort for the most part. Kegard it, therefore, in time ; 
labour in time that it may witness well. An ill conscience, when it should 
be most comforted, then it is most terrible. At the hour of death we should 
have most comfort, if we had any wisdom. "When earthly comforts shall be 
taken from us, and at the day of judgment, then an ill conscience, look 
where it will, it hath matter of terror. If it look up, there is the Judge 
armed with vengeance ; if it look beneath, there is hell ready to swallow it ; 
if it look on the one side, there is the devil accusing and helping con- 
science ; if it look round aboixt, there is heaven and earth, and all on fire, 
and within there is a hell. Where shall the sinner and ungodly appear ? 
' If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and ungodly ap- 
pear,' 1 Pet. iv. 18, at that time ? 

let us labour to have a good conscience, and to exercise the reflect* 
power of conscience in this world ; that is, let us examine ourselves, ad- 
monish ourselves, judge ourselves, condemn ourselves, do all in ourselves. 
Let us keep court at home first, let us keep the assizes there, and then we 
shall have comfort at the great assizes. 

Therefore, God out of his love hath put conscience into the soul, that we 
might keep a court at home. Let conscience, therefore, do its worst now, 
let it accuse, let it judge ; and when it hath judged, let it smite us and do 
execution upon us, that, ' having judged ourselves, we may not be con- 
demned with the world,' 1 Cor. xi. 32. 

If we sufler not conscience to have its full work now, it will have it one 
day. A sleepy conscience will not alway sleep. If we do not sufier con- 
science to awake here, it will awaken in hell, where there is no remedy. 

Therefore, give conscience leave to speak what it will. Perhaps it 
will tell thee a tale in thine ear which thou wouldst be loath to hear, it will 
pursue thee with terrors like a bloodhound, and will not suff^er thee to rest ; 
therefore, as a bankrupt, thou art loath to look in thy books, because there 
is nothing but matter of terror. This is but a folly, for at the last conscience 
will do its duty. It will awaken either here or in hell. Therefore, we are 
to hope the best of them that have their consciences opened here. There 
* That is, ' reflex.'— G. 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, YER. 12. 225 

is hope that they will make their peace with God, that * they will agree with 
their adversary while they are in the way,' Mat. v. 25. If thou suffer con- 
science to be sleepy and drowsy till it be awaked in hell, woe unto thee ! 
for then thy estate is determined of; it will be a ban-en repentance. Now 
thy repentance may be fruitful, it may force thee to make thy peace with 
God. Dost thou think it will alway be thus with thee ? Thou besottest 
thy conscience with sensuality, and sayest, ' Go thy way, and come another 
time,' as he said to St Paul, Acts xxiv. 25. I will tell thee, this peace will 
prove a tempest in the end. 

Conscience of all things in the world deserves the greatest reverence, 
more than any monarch in the world; for it is above all men, it is next unto 
God. And yet what do many men ? Regard the honour of their friends 
more than conscience, that inward friend that shall accompany them to 
heaven, that will go with them to death and to judgment, and make them 
lift up their heads with joy when other friends cannot help them, but must 
needs leave them in death. Now, for a man to follow the humours of men, 
to follow the multitude, and to stain conscience, what a foolish wretch is 
he ! Though such men think themselves never so wise, it is the greatest 
follv in the world to stain conscience to please any man, because conscience 
is i;bove all men. 

Again, those that follow their own humours, their own dispositions, and 
are carried away with their own lusts, it is a folly and madness ; for the 
time will come that that which their covetous, base lust hath carried them 
to, that shall be taken away, as honom-s, riches, pleasures, which is the 
fuel of that lust which makes them now neglect conscience ; all shall be 
taken away in sickness or in the time of despair, when conscience shall be 
awaked. Now, what folly is it to please thy own lust, which thou shouldst 
mortify and subdue, and to displease conscience, thy best friend ! And 
then when thy lust is fully satisfied, all that hath been fuel to it, that hath 
fed it, shall be taken away at the hour of death, or some special judgment, 
and conscience shall be awaked, and shall torment thee for giving liberty 
to thy base lusts and to thyself. And those eyes of thy soul that thy 
offence delighted to shut up, there shall some punishment come, either in 
this hfe or in that to come, that shall open those eyes, as Adam's eyes were 
opened after his sin. Why ? Were they not open before ? He had such 
a strong desire to the apple, he did not regard them ; but his punishment 
afterward opened those eyes, which his inordinate desire shut. So it shall 
be with every sinner. Therefore, regard no man in the world more than 
thy conscience. Regard nothing, no pleasure, no profit, more than con- 
science ; reverence it more than anything in the world. Happy is that man 
that carries with him a good conscience, that can witness that he hath said, 
nor done nothing that may vex or grieve conscience. If it be otherwise, 
whatsoever a man gains he loseth in conscience, and there is no comparison 
between those two. One crack, one flaw in conscience, will prove more 
disadvantageous than the rest will be profitable. Thou must cast up the 
rest again. ' They are sweet bits downward, but they shall be gravel in 
the belly,' Prov. xx. 17. 

We think when we have gained anything, when we have done anything, 
we shall hear no more of it, as David said to Joab, when he set him to make 
away Uriah, ' Let not this trouble thee,' 2 Sam. xi. 25. So, let not this ill 
gain, let not this ill speech or tbis ill carriage, trouble thee, thou shalt hear 
no more of this. We take order to stop and silence conscience, thinking ncA^er 
to hear more of it. Oh, but remember, conscience will have its work ; and 

VOL. III. P 



226 COMMENTARY ON I 

the longer we defer the •witness and work of conscience, the more it will 
terrify and accuse ns afterward. 

Therefore, of all men, be they never so great, they are most miserable 
that follow their wills and their lusts most ; that never have any outward 
check or inward check of conscience, but drown it with sensual pleasures. As 
Charles the IXth, who at night, when conscience hath the fittest time to work, 
a man being retired, then he would have his singing boys, after he had be- 
trayed them in that horrible massacre,* after which he never had peace 
and quiet ; and as Saul sent for David's harp when the evil spirit was upon 
him, 1 Sam. xvi. 23, so wicked men, they look for foreign helps. But it 
will not be ; for the greatest men with their foreign helps are most miserable. 

The reason is, because the more they sink in rebellion and sin against 
conscience, the more they sink in terrors. It shall be the greatest tor- 
ment to those that have had their wills most in the world. The more their 
conscience is silenced and violenced in this world, the more vocal it shall 
be at the hour of death, and the day of judgment. Therefore judge who 
are the most miserable men in the world (although they have never so 
much regard in the world besides), those that have consciences, but will 
not suffer them to work, but with sensuality within them, and by pleasing, 
flattering speech of those without them, they keep it down, and take order 
that neither conscience within, nor none other without, shall disturb them ; 
if they do, they shall be served as Ahab dealt with Micaiah, 2 Kings xxii. 
24. These men that are thus at peace in sinful courses, of all men they are 
most miserable. They enjoy their pleasure here for a little time, but their 
conscience shall torment them for ever ; and shall say to them, as Reuben 
said to his brethren, ' I told you this before, but you would not hearken to 
me, and now you shall be tormented.' 

Conscience is an evil beast. It makes a man rise against himself. There- 
fore of all men, those that be disordered in their courses, that neglect con- 
science, and neglect the means of salvation, that should awaken conscience, 
they are the most miserable. For the longer they go on, the more they sink 
in sin ; and the more they sink in sin, the more they sink in terror of con- 
science ; if not now, yet they shall hereafter. 

If we desire therefore to have joy and comfort at all times, let us labour 
to have a good conscience that may witness well. And therefore let ua 
every day keep an audit within doors, every day cast up our accounts, 
every day draw the blood of Christ over our accounts, every day beg for- 
giveness of sins, and the Spirit of Christ to lead us, that so we may keep 
account every day, that we may make our reckonings even every day, that 
we may have the less to do in the time of sickness, in the time of tempta- 
tion, and in the time of death, when we have discharged our consciences 
before by keeping session at home in our own hearts. 

This should be the daily practice of a Christian, and then he may lay 
himself down in peace. 

He that sleeps with a conscience defiled, is as he that sleeps among wild 
beasts, among adders and toads, that if his eyes were open to see them, he 
would be out of his wits. He that sleeps without a good conscience, he is 
an unadvised man. God may make his bed his grave, he may smite him 
suddenly. Therefore let us every day labour to have a good conscience, 
that so we may have matter of perpetual joy. 

A good conscience especially, is an evangelical conscience ; for a legal 

* That is, of BartLolomew. The after-dread of Charles IX. is recorded by all 
his historians and biographers. See footnote, vol. i. p. 149. — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 227 

good conscience none have ; that is, such a conscience as acquits a man 
that he hath obeyed the law in all things exactty. A legal complete good 
conscience none have, except in some particular fact ; there is a good con- 
science in fact. As the heathen could excuse themselves, they were thus 
and thus, Rom. ii. 15 ; and God ministereth much joy in that. But an 
evangelical good conscience is that we must trust to ; that is, such a con- 
science that though it knows itself guilty of sin, yet it knows that Christ 
hath shed his blood for sinners ; and such a conscience as by means of 
faith is sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and is cleared from the accusa- 
tions of sin. 

There is an evangelical conscience when, by faith wrought by the Spirit 
of God, in the hearing of the gospel, we lay hold upon the obedience and 
righteousness of Chi'ist. And such is the obedience and righteousness of 
Christ, that it pacifieth the conscience, which nothing else in the world will 
do. The conscience, without a full obedience, it will alway stagger. 

And that is the reason that conscience confounds and confutes the popish 
way of salvation by works, &c. Because the conscience alway staggers, 
and fears, I have not done works enough, I have not done them well 
enough ; those that I have done they have been corrupt and mixed, and 
therefore I dare not bring them to the judgment-seat of God, to plead 
them meritorious. Therefore they do well to hold uncertainty of salva- 
tion ; because, holding merit, they must needs be uncertain of their salva- 
tion. A true Christian is certain of his salvation, because his conscience 
lays hold on the blood of Christ, because the obedience whereby he claims 
heaven is a superabundant obedience, it is the satisfaction of Christ, as the 
apostle saith in that excellent place, Heb. ix. 14, ' The blood of Christ, 
which offered himself by the eternal Spirit (that is, by the Godhead), shall 
cleanse your consciences from dead works to serve the living God.' The 
blood of Christ that offered himself, his human nature by his divine, to 
God as a sacrifice, it shall purge your consciences from dead works. The 
blood of Christ, that is, the sacrifice, the obedience of Christ, in ofi'ering 
himself, fully pacified God, and answered the punishment which we should 
have endured ; for he was our Sm-ety. ' The blood of Christ speaks better 
than the blood of Abel,' Heb. xii. 24. It speaks better than our sins. 
Our sins cry vengeance, but the blood of Clmst cries mercy. 

The blood of Christ out- cries our sins. The guilty conscience for sin 
cries. Guilty, guilty, hell, damnation, wrath, and anguish ; but the blood 
of Christ cries, I say, mercy, because it was shed by our surety in our behalf. 
His obedience is a full satisfaction to God. 

Now, the way to have a good conscience is, upon the accusations of an 
evil conscience by the law, to come to Christ our surety, and to get our 
consciences sprinkled by faith in his blood, to get a persuasion that he shed 
his blood for us, and upon that to labour to be purged by the Spirit. There 
are two purgers, the blood of Christ from the guilt of sin, and the Spirit of 
Christ from the stain of sin ; and upon that comes a complete good con- 
science, being justified by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit 
of Christ. Therefore Christ came not by blood alone, or by water alone, 
but by water and blood ; by blood in justification, by water in sanctifica- 
tion and holiness of life. 

Quest. Why do we allege this now for the sacrament ? 

Arts. We speak of a good conscience, * which is a continual feast,' Prov. 
XV. 15. How comes a good conscience to be such a continual feast ? 

An evangeUcal conscience is a feast indeed ; because it feeds on a higher 



228 COMMENTARY ON 

feast : it feeds on Christ. He is the Passover lamb, as the apostle applies 
it, 1 Cor. V. 7. He is the ' Passover, slain for us ; ' and there is repre- 
sented in the sacrament, his body broken and his blood poured out for our 
sins. He came to feast us, and we shall feast with him. 

Hereupon, if we bring repentance for our sins past, and faith whereby we 
are incorporate into Christ, then our consciences speak peace ; and as it is 
in 1 Pet. iii. 21, the conscience makes a good demand. ' It is not baptism, 
but the demand of a good conscience.' When the conscience hath fed on 
Christ, it demands boldly, as it is Rom. viii. 33, of Satan and all enemies, 
' Who shall lay anything to our charge ? It is God that justifieth. It is 
Christ that died, or rather that is risen again.' It boldly demands of God, 
who hath given his Son. The bold demand of conscience prevails with 
God, and this comes by faith in Christ. Now, this is strengthened by the 
sacrament. Here are the visible representations and seals that we are in- 
corporate more and more into Christ ; and so feeding upon Christ once, 
our conscience is pacified and purged from all dead works, and we come to 
have a continual feast. 

Christ is first the Prince of I'ighteousness, the righteous King, and then 
* Prince of peace ; ' first he gi\es righteousness, and then he speaks peace 
to the conscience. ' The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy 
in the Holy Ghost,' Rom. xiv. 17. 

So that all our feast and joy and comfort that we have in our consciences, 
it must be from righteousness. A double righteousness : the righteousness 
of Christ which hath satisfied and appeased the wrath of God fully ; and 
then we must have the righteousness of a good conscience sanctified by 
the Spirit of Christ. We must put tliem together alway. We can never 
have communion with Christ, and have forgiveness of sins ; but we must 
have a spirit of sanctification. ' There is mei'cy with thee, that thou mayest 
be feared,' Ps. cxxx. 4. Where there is mercy in the forgiveness of sin, 
there is a disposition to fear it ever after. Therefore if for the present you 
would have a good conscience, desire God to strengthen your faith in the 
blood of Christ poured out for you ; desire God to strengthen your faith in 
the crucified body of Chi'st broken for you ; that so feeding on Christ, who 
is your surety, who himself is yours, and all is yoiu's, you may ever have 
the feast of a good conscience, that will comfort you in false imputations, 
that will comfort you in life and in death, and at the day of judgment. 
' This is our rejoicing in all things, the testimony of our conscience ; ' first 
purged by ' the blood of Christ,' and then purged and sanctified by the 
Spirit of Christ, that we have had our ' conversation in simplicity and sin- 
cerity,' &c. 

* Our rejoicing is this, that in simplicity and sincerity.' This is the matter 
of this testimony of conscience, that is simplicity and sincerity. St Paul 
glories in his simplicity and sincerity. And mark that by the way, it is no 
vain glorying, but lawful upon such cautions as I named before. But to 
add a little, — a man in some cases may glory in the graces of God that are 
in him ; but with these cautions. 

First, if so be that he look on them as the gifts of God. 

Secondly, if he look on them as stained ivith his own defects, and so in 
that respect be humbled. 

Thirdly, if he look upon them as fruits of his justification, and as finiits 
of his assurance of his salvation, and not as causes. 

And then, if it he before men that he glories : not when he is to deal with 



I 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 229 

God. When men lay this and that imputation upon a man, he may rejoice, 
as St Paul doth here, in the testimony of his conscience, ' in simplicity and 
sincerity.' 

The matter of the testimony of conscience wherein he glories is ' simpli- 
city and godly sincerity,' or, as the words may well be read, ' in the sim- 
plicity and sincerity of God,' such as proceeds from God, and such as aims 
at and looks to God, and resembles God. For both simplicity and sincerity 
come from God. They are wrought by God ; and therein we resemble 
God. And both of them have an eye to God, a respect to God. So it is 
in the original, ' in the simplicity and sincerity of God ' [II). 

There is not much difference between simplicity and sincerity. The one 
expresseth the other. If you will have the difference, simphcity especially 
respects men, our conversation amongst men. Simplicity hath an eye to 
God in all things in religion, opposite to hypocrisy in religion. ' Simplicity,' 
that is opposed to doubleness. Where doubleness is, there is alway hypo- 
crisy, opposed to sincerity ; and where simplicity is, there is alway sin- 
cerity, truth to God. But it is not good to be very exact and punctual in 
the distinction of these things. They may one express the other very well. 

* Simplicity.' St Paul's rejoicing was, that his conscience witnessed to 
him his simplicity in his whole conversation in the world, his whole course 
of life, which the Scripture calls in other places a ' walking,' Acts ix. 81. 
St Paul means this first of himself ; and then he propounds himself an ex- 
ample to us. 

Quest. How was St Paul's conversation in simplicity ? 

Ans. Not only if we consider St Paul as a Christian, but consider him as 
an apostle, his conversation was in simplicity. It was without guile, with- 
out seeking himself, without seeking his own ; for rather than he would be 
grievous to the Corinthians, the man of God he wrought himself. Because 
he would not give any the least scandal to them, being a rich people, he 
had rather live by his own labom* than to open his * mouth. He did not 
seek himself. In a word, he did not serve himself of the gospel. He served 
Christ. He did not serve himself of Christ. 

There are many that serve themselves of the gospel, that serve themselves 
of religion. They care no more for religion than will serve their own turn. 
St Paul's conversation was in simplicity. He had no such aim. He did 
not preach of envy, or of malice, or for gain, as ho taxeth some of the 
Philippian teachers, ' Some preach Christ,' not of simplicity and sincerity, 
'but of envy,' &c., Philip, i. 18. 

Then again, as an apostle and a teacher, his conversation was in simpli- 
city ; because he mingled nothing with the word of God in teaching. His 
doctrine is pure. ' What should the chaff do with the wheat ?' Jer. xxiii. 28. 
What should the dross do with the gold ? He did not mingle his own con- 
ceits and devices with the word : for he taught the pure word of God, the 
simple word of God, simple without any mixtm'e of any by-aims. So the 
blessed apostle was simple both in his doctrine and in his intentions ; pro- 
pounding himself herein exemplary to all us, that, as we look to hold up 
our heads with comfort, and to glory in all estates whatsoever, so our con- 
sciences must bear us witness that we carry ourselves in the simplicity and 
sincerity of God. 

Now simplicity is, when there is a conformity of pretension and intention, 
whju there is nothing double, when there is not a contradiction in the spirit 
of a man, and in his words and carriage outwardly. That is simplicity, 

» Qu. 'their?'— G. 



230 COMMENTAKY ON 

when there is an exact confonnity and correspondence in a man's judgment 
and speech, in his affections and actions. When a man judgeth simply as 
the truth of the thing is, and when he affects as he judgeth, when he loves 
and hates as he judgeth, and he speaks as he affects and judgeth, and he 
doth as he speaks, then a man is a simple man. 

Simple, that is properly, that hath no mixture of the contrary. As we 
say, light is a simple thing ; it cannot endure darkness : fu*e is a simple 
body ; it cannot endure the contrary with it : so the pure majesty of God 
cannot endure the least stain whatsoever. So it is with the holy disposition 
of a Christian, "\^^len he is once a new creature, there is a simplicity in 
him. Though there be a mixture, yet he studies simplicity ; he studies to 
have nothing opposite to the Spirit of God ; he studies not to have any 
contradiction in him ; he labours that his heart may not go one way, and 
his carriage another ; that his pretensions be not one, and his intentions 
another. He bears the image of Christ. You know Christ is compared to 
a lamb, a simple creature, fruitful to men, innocent in himself. So the 
Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove, a simple creature, that hath 
no way to avoid danger but by flight ; a haimless creature.* 

The devil takes on him the shape of a serpent, a subtle, wild creature. 
The Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. You see then what sim- 
plicity is. It is a frame of soul without mixture of the contrary, 

1. We must not take simplicity /or a defect ; when a man is simple be- 
cause he knows not how to be witty. Simplicity is sometimes taken in that 
sense for a defect of nature, when a man is easily deluded ; but here it is 
taken for a grace. A man that knows how to double with the world, how 
to run counterfeit, how to be false in all kinds ; but he will not. He 
knows the world, but he will not use the fashions of the world. So sim- 
plicity here is a strength of grace. 

2. Likewise, simplicity and plainness, it must not be taken /or rudeness 
and unnecessary opening of ourselves ; for that is simplicity in an evil sense, 
profane rudeness. 

You shall have some that will lay about them, they care not what they 
speak, they cai'e not whom they smite ; but, as Solomon's fool, they throw 
' firebrands,' Prov. xxvi. 18. They speak what they list, of whom they list, 
against whom they list. Here simplicity and plainness is no grace. This 
is no virtue. This is but an easing of their rotten, corrupt, and vile heart. 

We know there are two kinds of sepulchres, open and shut sepulchres. 
They are both naught. f But yet, notwithstanding, your hidden sepulchre 
is less offensive. That which is open stinks that none can come nigh. 
That is very offensive. An hypocrite, that is a hidden sepulchre, a ' painted 
sepulchre ' without, and nothing but bones within, he hath a naughty, 
rotten heart : yet, notwithstanding, he is not so offensive as the open 
sepulchre, which offends all that come near it. So these men that say they 
cannot dissemble, and they have a plain heart, though they will swear, and 
dissemble, and detract, and throw firebrands against any man ; is this a 
plain heart ? It is an open sepulchre, that sends a stench to all that are 
near. 

3. Again, let us take heed, that we do not for simplicity take credulity. 
' The simple man,' saith Solomon, ' will believe everything,' Prov. xiv. 15. 
This is simple credulity. A man must not beheve everything, for there is 
much danger comes by credulity. Jeremiah, and Gedaliah, and others, 

* Cf. ' Bowels Opened,' vol. II., pp. 76-79.— G. 
t That is, ' naughty ' = filthy.— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 231 

they were much harmed by credulity. It is a good fence not to be too 
hasty to believe ; for incredulity and hardness to believe is a good pre- 
servative ; and he is a wise man that will not believe everything. So you 
see there are some things that come near this simplicity, as defect, rudeness, 
and creduUty, which yet are not that simplicity that St Paul saith he 
walked in. 

And this simplicity may well be called the simplicity of God ; because 
God is simple. ' He is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,' 
1 John i. 5. There is no mixtm^e of fraud, or contrariety. He is pure, simple, 
and sincere. And as he is in his nature, so he is in his carriage to men 
every way. There is a simplicity that he doth in his word testify. And 
indeed he hath shewed that he loves us. Would we have a better evidence 
of it than his own Son ? There is no doubling in God's dealing to men. 
And therefore as it comes from God, so this simplicity it resembleth 
God. 

For alas ! if God had had by-respects, what would the creature yield him ? 
Doth he stand in need of us, or doth he need anything we have ? All coun- 
terfeiting, and insincerity, and doubling, is for hope of gain, or for fear of 
danger. Now what can God have of the creature ? What cause hath he 
in us of his dealing toward us ? In his giving, in his forgiving, in aU his 
dealing, he is simple. 

So every one that is the child of God, he hath the virtue of simplicity. 
Simplicity is such a grace as extends to all the parts of our conversation 
As the apostle saith here, ' My conversation in the world hath been in sim- 
pHcity.' 

By nature man is contrary to this simplicity, since the fall. God made 
him right and straight, and simple, but as the wise man saith, * he sought 
out many inventions,' Eccles. vii. 29. So that a man without gi'ace is 
double in his carriage. And that from self-love, from self-ends, and aims. 

And hereupon he must be double ; for there must be something that is 
good in him. For else evil is destructive of itself. If there were not some 
thing good, men could never continue, nor the place could never continue. 
And if all were good, and aU were plain, and honest, that would destroy 
the ill which men labour to nourish. Men have carnal projects to raise 
themselves, to get riches, and this must be by ill means. There is an idol 
in their hearts which they serve, which they sacrifice to. Their self-love, 
either in honour, or in riches, or in pleasure, they set up something. There- 
fore a man without grace, he studies to be strongly ill ; and because he can- 
not be ill except he be good, for then all the world would see it ; hereupon 
comes doubling. Good there must be to carry the iU he intends the more 
close ; ill there must be, or else he cannot have his aim. And hence comes 
dissimulation and simulation, the vices of these times, both opposite to 
simplicity, and such vices as proceed from want of worth and want of 
strength. 

For when men have no worth to trust to, and yet would have the profit 
of sin, and the pleasure of sin, and would have reputation, then they carry 
all dissemblingly. Where there is strength of worth, and of parts, and re- 
putation, there is less dissembUng alway. It is a vice usually of those that 
have little or no virtue in them. A man of strength carries things open 
and fair. 

This dissimulation it comes from the want of this grace of simplicity, 
both 

Before, in, [and] after the project. 



232 C03IMENTARY ON 

1. Before, as you see in Herod. He intends mischief, when he pretends 
he would be a worshipper of Christ, Mat. ii. 8. And so Absalom, he pre- 
tends he had a vow to make, when he intends murder, 2 Sam. xv. 7 ; a 
dissimulation, pretending good when there is an intention of ill before. 

2. So there is a dissimulation in the project for the present, which comes 
from this doubling ; when men carry things fairly outwardly to those with 
whom they live, and yet notwithstanding have false and treacherous hearts ; 
as Judas had all the while he conversed with Christ. He covered his ill with 
good pretexts, a care for the poor, &c. 

3. So after. "When the ill is done, what a world of doubling is there to 
cover ill, to extenuate it, and excuses, and translations ! This is the sim- 
plicity that reigns among men where there is no strength of grace. Where 
there is want of simplicity there is this dissembling. 

And with dissimulation there is simulation, that is, when we make our- 
selves sometimes worse than we are ; when we are better than we seem 
to be. Sometimes that wins on us too. Then we carry not ourselves 
simply. 

For if we were good, we would be good everywhere. But a man that 
useth simulation, if he be in evil company he fashioneth himself to the com- 
pany, he speaks that which his conscience checks him for, he carries him- 
self vainly and lightly, he holds correspondence with the company. So that 
by dissimulation and simulation, there is a fault committed against simph- 
city, which yields the testimony of a good conscience. 

It is a base fault this simulation, which we think to be a lesser fault than 
the other, which is dissimulation. For whom do we serve ? Are we not 
the sons of God ? Are we not the sons of our heavenly Father, the sons of 
the great King ? and for us to carry ourselves not to be such as we are 
in the midst of the wicked world, it is a great want of discretion. St 
Paul would discover who he was, even before the bar ; David * would 
speak of God's righteous testimonies even before princes, and not be 
ashamed,' Ps. cxix. 46. 

And this is that which Christ saith, ' He that is ashamed of me before 
men, of him will I be ashamed before my heavenly Father,' Mark viii. 38. 
Let us take heed of dissimulation and simulation, which are opposite to this 
simplicity. 

Again, this simplicity is opposite to cm*iosity, and fineness. And thus 
the apostle ! Both in his calling and conversation, St Paul conversed in 
simplicity, as a Christian, and as an apostle. 

As an apostle, he was not overcurious in words. He reproveth those 
foolish, vainglorious spirits, that were so among the Corinthians. He de- 
livered the word plainly, and plainness is best in handling the word of God ; 
for who will enamel a precious stone ? We use to enamel that that hath 
not a native excellency in itself, but that which hath an excellency from 
something without. True religion hath this with it alway, that it is simple ; 
because it hath state enough of its o^vn. 

The whore of Babylon hath need of a gilded cup, and pictures, and what 
not, to set her out ; but the true religion is in simplicity. 

Christ himself when he was born, he was laid in a cratch.* He was 
simple in his carriage, and his speeches. It was a common speech in 
ancient time, when the chalices were gold, the priests were wood. In re- 
ligion, fineness and curiosity carry suspicion of falsehood with them. 

Those that oveimuch affect fineness of speech, they are either deceived 
* That is, ' crib or manger.'— G. 



2 COKIKTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 233 

or will deceive. That which is not native, and comes not from within, it 
will deceive. Some falsehoods carry a better colour than some truths ; 
because men set their wits on work to set some colour upon falsehood alway. 

And here take notice of the duty of ministers, that they should utter 
divine truth in the native simplicity of it. St Paul as a minister, delivered 
the plain word plainly. 

And as a Christian in our common course of life, as we should take heed 
of doubling, so of too much curiosity. For too much curiosity in diet or 
apparel, it implies too much care of these things, which hinders our care 
of better things, as our Saviour Christ saith to Martha, ' Martha, thou art 
troubled about many things,' Luke x. 41. 

The soul is finite, and cannot be set about many things at once. There- 
fore, when there is overmuch curiosity in smaller things, it implies little or 
no care in the main. What is more than for decency of place, it argues 
carelessness in the main. Therefore the apostle, labouring to take off that, 
he bids women that they should not be ' decked with gold and broidered 
hair,' &c. ; but to look to the ' hidden man of the heart,' 1 Tim. ii. 9. And 
therefore Christ took off Martha from outward things, because he knew it 
could not be without the neglect of better things. Seriousness in heavenly 
things, it carries a carelessness in other things. And a Christian cannot 
choose but discover a mind that is not earthly and vain. When he is a true 
believer, he regards other things as poor petty things, that are not worthy 
estimation. 

A Christian when he hath fixed his end, to be Uke to God, to be simple 
as God is, he still draws toward his end; and therefore he moderates his 
carriage in all things. What is unnecessary he leaves out. His end is to 
be like God, and like Christ, with whom he shall live hereafter. Now the 
best things are the most simple, as the heavens, the sun, and the stars, &c. 
There is diversity, but no contrariety. There is diversity in the magnitude 
of the stars, but they are of the same nature. So in a Christian there are 
many graces, but they are not contrary one to another. So that a Christian 
hath his main care for better things ; he cares not for the world, nor the 
things thereof. And therefore he accounts them, in comparison of better 
things, as nothing ; and that is the reason that he is careless and negligent 
of those things that he did formerly regard, as having better things to take 
up his thoughts. 

We see then that simpHcity, as it is opposed to doubling, so it is opposed 
to fineness and curiosity. 

And usually where there is a fineness and curiosity, there is hypocrisy ; 
for it is not for nought when men affect anything. Affectation usually is a 
strain above nature. When a man will do that which he is not disposed 
to by natm-e, but for some forced end, it is hypocrisy. So the Corinthian 
teachers argued* the falseness of their hearts by the fineness of their teach- 
ing. They had another aini than to please God and convert souls. Usually 
affectation to the world is joined with hypocrisy towards God. 

Again, this simplicity is contrary to that corruption in popery, namely, 
equivocation. What simplicity is that, when they speak one thing, and 
mean another ? when there is a mental reservation, and such a reservation, 
that if that were set down that is reserved, it were absurd. 

Or else there may be a reservation : a man may reserve his meaning. A 
man may not speak all the truth at all times, except he be called to it, in 
judgment, &c. Otherwise truth, as all good actions, it is never good but 
* That is, ' proved.' — G. 



234 COMMENTARY ON 

■when it is seasonable ; and then it is seasonable when there is convenient fur- 
niture of circumstances, when a man is called to it. For there may be a 
reservation. A man is not bound to speak all things at all times, but to 
wait for a fit time. One word in a fit time is worth a thousand out of time. 
But mental reservation, to speak one thing, and to reserve another, it is 
absurd and inconsequent, and so is dissimulation. There is a lie, in fact. 
A man's life is a lie, that is a dissembler. Dissimulation is naught.* 

A man may sometimes make some show to do something that he intends 
not. Christ made as though he would have gone further when he did not 
mean it, Luke xxiv. 28 (^vim). But dissimulation is that which is intrinsi- 
cally naught.* 

Obj. But some man will say. Except I dissemble, I shall run into danger. 

Ans. Well ! it is not necessary for thee to live, but it is necessary for 
thee to live like an honest man, and keep a good conscience. That is 
necessary.-j- For come what will upon true dealing, we ought to deal truly, 
and not dissemble. Those that pretend a necessity, they must do it, they 
cannot live else, they cannot avoid danger else, unless they dissemble : 
saith Tertullian very well. There is no necessity of sin t© them, upon 
whom there lies no other necessity but not to sin [nu). Christians, they 
are men that have no necessity hes upon them but not to sin. It is not 
necessary they should be rich, it is not necessary they should be poor, it is 
not necessary they should have their freedom and liberty. There is no 
necessity lies upon them, but that they be good, that they do not sin. Can 
he pretend I must sin upon necessity, who hath no necessity imposed upon 
him by God, but to avoid all sin ? 

As for lying, which is against this simplicity that should be in speech, 
all kinds of lies, ofiicious | lies, or pernicious lies. Officious lies, to do a 
good turn to help ourselves or others with a He, it is a gross sin. It is 
condemned by St Austin in a whole book, which he wrote against l3dng.§ 
Therefore I pass it. I shall have occasion to speak somewhat of it after- 
ward. It is intrinsically ill every lie, because it is contrary to the hintj| of 
speech. God hath made our reason and understanding to frame speech, 
and speech to be the messenger and interpreter of reason, and of the con- 
ceit.^ Now when speech shall be a false messenger, it is contrary to the 
gift of speech. Speech should be the stream of understanding and reason. 
Now when the fountain is one, and the spring is another, there is a contra- 
diction. It is against nature, so it is intrinsically ill. It is not only 
against the will of God, but it is against the image of God, which is in 
truth. It is ill, not by inconvenience or by inconsequence, but a pernicious 
lie is inwardly ill. Jesting lies, pernicious lies, officious lies, all lies, let 
them be what they will, they come from the father of lies, the devil, and are 
hated of God, who is truth itself. 

Besides that, it is a sin opposite to society, and therefore by God's just 
judgment it is punished by society. All men hate a bar, a false dissembler, 
as an enemy to society, as a man that ofi'ends against that bond whereby 
God hath kiiit men together. 

Now, to move us the better to this simplicity, this direct course of life, 
that there may be a conformity and harmony between the outward and in- 
ward man, in the thoughts, speeches, and actions, that they may be one. 

1. Consider, first of all, that this simpHcity, it is a comely thing. Come- 

* That is, ' naughty ' = bad.— G. § That is, his ' Be Mendacio.'—Q. 

t See note I, vol. I. p. 210.— G. || That is, ' end.'— Ed. 

X That is, ' o fficial."— G. t That is, ' conception.'— G, 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 12. 235 

liness and seemliness, it is a thing that is cleHghtful to the eyes of God, and 
to a man's own conscience ; and it stands in oneness and proportion. For 
you know where there is a comely proportion, there all things suit in one ; 
as in a comely body, the head and all the rest of the members are suitable. 
There is not a young green head upon an old body, or a fair face on a 
deformed body, for then there is two ; the body is one, and the complexion 
another. Beauty and comeliness is in one, when there is a correspondency, 
a proportion, a harmony in the parts. 

In Rev. xiii. 11, seq., you have a cruel beast there with the horns 
of a lamb. There is two, there is a goodly pretension and show, but there 
is a beast that is hid within. Dissimulation is double, and where there is 
singleness and doubleness, there is deformity alway. It is an ugly thing 
in the eyes of God, it is a misshapen thing, it is a monster : Jacob's voice, 
and Esau's hands : words ' as smooth as oil, and war in the heart.' Prov. v. 3, 
Ps. Iv. 21. It is a monstrous thing. Even as there be monsters in nature, 
so there be in disposition. Where there is such a gross mixture, the devil 
and an angel of light, outwardly an angel of light and inwardly a devil ; to 
hide a devil in the shape of an angel of light, there is a horrible deformity. 

It is a comely thing, therefore, when all things hold conformity and cor- 
respondence in our lives, when they are even amongst men, when we labour 
to have sanctified judgments of things, and speak what is our judgment, and 
have outward expressions answerable to the inward impressions wrought by 
the Spirit of God every way, then a man is like himself, he is one. There 
is not a heart and a heart. Adam at the first was every way hke himself, 
but after falling from God to the creature, the changeable, corruptible crea- 
ture, to have his corruptible end, he fell to this doubleness. 

2. And as St James saith, * A double-minded man is unconstant in all 
his trays.' That is another reason to move us to simplicity of disposition ; 
for where doubling is, a man is unconstant in all his ways. What doth St 
James mean by this, where he saith, ' A double-minded man is unsettled ?' 
Because a double-minded man, he looks with one eye to religion, and to 
those things that are good, and with another part of his heart to the world ; 
and hereupon he can never be settled any way. Why ? Because having 
unsettled intentions, having false aims, double aims, he will be crossed con- 
tinually. Please God he would, he would be religious. That is one inten- 
tion. But now comes the world and religion to dash one against another, 
and then he must be inconstant, because he hath not simplicity, he hath 
not a ' single eye,' as Christ saith, ' If the eye be single, then the body is 
light.' He hath not a right intention, a right judgment of things ; he 
judgeth too high of the world, and not high enough of gi-ace and goodness. 
And hereupon it comes, that when the world comes to cross his good inten- 
tions, having his mind on earthly things, because it is cross to religion, his 
mind is unsettled. 

Again, by terrors of conscience, a double-minded man, that will please 
God, and yet be a worldling, is inconstant in all his ways. If his eye 
were single, then all his body would be light ; that is, if a man had a single 
judgment to know what is right, to what in life, and in death to stick to, 
all would be single. The judgment and intentions go together. When a 
man's judgment is convinced of the goodness of spiritual things, upon judg- 
ment follows intention. When a man desires and resolves to serve God, 
and to please him in all things, then all the body and his affections are 
lightsome. His affections and his outward man goes with a single eye. 
A man that hath a false, weak judgment, and thereupon a false, weak, double 



2C6 



COMMENTARY ON 



intention, his body is dark, he hath a darksome conversation. A double- 
minded man is inconstant in all his ways. Therefore we should labour 
for this simpUcity in all our conversation. 

3. Again, we should the rather labour for this simpKcity, because it is 
part of the image of God. Therein we resemble God, in whom is no mix- 
tui'e at all of contraries : but all is alike. 

4. And as it resembles God, so it bears us out in the presence of God, 
and our own conscience ; as he saith here, ' Our rejoicing is this, the testi- 
mony of our conscience, that in simpUcity,' &c. Now God is greater 
than conscience. A man that carries himself in simplicity, and in an uni- 
foiTQ, even manner to God, and to men, that man hath comfort in his con- 
science, and comfort before God. 

And of all other sins, the time will come that none will he heavier on us 
than doubling, both with men and with God, when it will appear that we 
have not been the men that we carried ourselves to be. 

The reason is, the more will there is in a sin, and the more advisedness, 
the greater is the sin ; and the greater the sin is, the greater the terror of 
conscience ; and the greater that is, the more fear and trembling before 
God, that knows conscience better than we do. 

Now where there is doubling, where a man is not one in his outward 
and inward man, in his conversation to men, when there is a covering of 
hatred, and of ill affections with contrary pretences, there is advisement, 
there is much will and little passion to bear a man out, to excuse him ; 
but he doth it, as we say, in cool blood, and that makes dissimulation so 
gross, because it is in cool blood. The more will and advisement is in 
any sin, the gi'eater it is, so the aggravation of sin is to be considered ; 
and where temptations are strong, and the less a man is himself, so 
there is a diminution, and a less aggravation ; as when a man is carried 
with passion, with infii'mity, or the like. But usually when men double 
they plot. 

David he plotted before and after his sin. He doubled before and after 
his sin. That was laid to his charge more than all that ever he did in his 
life. He was a man * after God's own heart, except in the matter of 
Uriah,' 1 lungs xv. 5. Why ? Because in that he plotted. We see before 
what many shifts, and windings, and turnings he had to accomplish it. He 
sends Uriah to Joab, and gives him a letter to place him in the fore front, 
and useth many projects. 

And after it was committed, how did he cover it ? And when it was hid 
from men, he would have hid it from God a great while, till God pulled 
him from his hiding-place, and him* confess roundly, Ps. xxxii. 3, till he 
dealt directly with God, ' My bones were consumed, and my moisture was 
turned into the di'ought of summer.' He hid it from men, and would have 
hid it from God. Therefore, because tLere was much plotting in that sin, 
that is set down as the only blemish in all his life. He ' was a man after 
God's own heart, except in the matter of Uriah.' Many other faults are 
recorded in the Book of God of David ; but because there might be some 
excuse, they were from infirmity, or out of passion, or oversight, &c., they 
are not so charged on him. But this was with plotting. It was in cold 
blood. There was much will and advice in it ; therefore this is doted f for a 
great sin. 

And if it be in our dealing amongst men, we should consider who it is 
we deceive, who it is we go beyond in doubling, who it is that we circum- 
* Qu. ' made liim ? '—Ed. t Qu. ' noted ? '— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, ^-ER, 12. 237 

vent, and who it is that doth it. Are we not all Christians ? We are or 
should be all new creatures. And who do we do it to ? To our fellow-mem- 
bers and to our brethren. Therefore, in Eph. iv. 25,* when the apostle 
dissuades the Ephesians from this, from double dealing, and double 
carnage to men, saith he, ' You are members one of another.' Let us con- 
sider who we are and whom we deal with. 

Now there be some persons, and some courses, that are likelier and 
more prone to this doubling than others, for want of this grace of simplicity. 

Where there is strength of parts, there is ofttimes a turning of them 
against God, and against our brethren. Where grace hath not subdued 
strong imaginations, strong thoughts, and brought all under it, there is a 
turning of those parts against God, and against our brethren. And as it is 
in particular persons, so some callings are more prone to double-dealing, to 
this carriage that is not fair and commendable before God, nor com- 
fortable to the conscience. As we see now a-days it reigns ever3Tvhere, in 
every street. 

We see amongst men of trade, merchants and the like, there is not that 
direct dealing. They know one thing, and pretend another. 

So likewise in the laws there are many imputations, I would they were 
false, that men set false colours upon ill causes ; to gild a rotten post, as 
we say, to call white black and black white. There is a woe in Isaiah pro- 
nounced against such as justify hard causes, such ' as call evil good, and 
good evil,' Isa. v. 20. It is a greater sin than it is usually taken for. 

So, go to any rank of men. They have learned the art of dissimulation 
in then- course ; they have learned to sell wind, to sell words, to sell no- 
thing, to sell pretexts, to overthrow a man by way of commendations and 
flattery. Such tricks there are, which are contrary to this simplicity. To 
cover hatred with fair words, to kill with kindness, as we say, to overthrow 
a man with commendations ; to commend a man before another who is 
jealous of the virtues he commends him for ; to commend a man for valour 
before a coward ; to commend a man, and thereby to take occasion to send 
him out of the way ; to commend a man, and then to come in with an ex- 
ception, to mar all ; to cover revenge and hatred with fair carriage, there- 
by to get opportunity to revenge — such tricks there are abroad, which oft- 
times discover themselves at length. For God is just. He will discover 
all these hidden windings and turnings ; for plotting makes it more odious. 
Of all men doublers are most hateful. 

How shall we come to attain this grace, to converse in the world in 
simplicity ? 

First of all, take it for a rule, though many think it no great matter to be 
a dissembler, our nature is full of dissimulation since the fall The heart of 
man is unsearchable. There is a deep deceit in man. Take a child, and 
see what dissimulation he learns. It is one of the first things he learns, 
to dissemble, to double, to be false. We see the weakest creatures, what 
shifts, what windings and turnings they have to save themselves ? 

It is a virtue to be downright ; for therein a man must cross himself. 
It is no thanks for a man to shuffle, and to shift in the world. Nature 
teacheth this, to dissemble, to turn and wind, &c. A man need not to 
plough to have weeds. The ground itself is a mother to them, though it 
be a stepmother to good seed. So we need not teach men to dissemble. 
Every man hath it by nature. But it must be strength of grace that makes 
a man downright. Take that for a ground. 

* Misprinted ' 1 Thess. iv.' — Q. 



238 COMMENTARY ON 

There are a company of sottish men, that take it for a great commenda- 
tion to dissemble ; and rather than they will be known not to dissemble in 
business, they will puzzle clear business. When a thing is ftiir and clear, 
they will have projects beyond the moon, and so carry themselves in it as 
if they desired to be accounted cozeners and dissemblers. Alas ! poor 
souls. Nature teacheth men to be naught in this kind well enough. Ivnow 
therefore, whosoever thou art that studiest this art of dissembling and 
doubling, thy own nature is prone enough to this, and the devil is apt to 
lead thee into it. This being laid for a ground, how may we carry our- 
selves in the world in holy simplicity, that may yield comfort to our con- 
science in life and in death ? 

1. First consider, that the time will come that we shall deal xvith that that 
will not dissemble with us. Let the eunningest dissembler hold out as long 
as he can, he shall meet with sickness, or with terror of conscience, he shall 
meet with death itself, and with the judgment of God, and hell torment. 
Although now he cany himself smoothly, and dance in a net, as we say, 
and double with the world, though he make a fair show, yet ere long thou 
shalt meet with that that will deal simply with thee, that will deal plain 
enough with thee. Thou shalt be uncased, and laid open to the world ere 
long (oo). Let us consider this. 

We see a snake or serpent, it doubles, and winds, and turns when it is 
alive, till it be killed, and then it is stretched forth at length. As one said, 
seeing a snake dead, and stretched out, so, saith he, it behoved you to 
have lived. So the devil, that great serpent, that ancient ' old serpent,' 
Eev. xii. 9, he gets into the snake, into the wily wit, and makes it wind 
and tm-n, and shift and shuffle in the world. But then some great cross 
comes, or death comes, and then a man is stretched out at length to the 
view of the world, and then he confesseth all, and j^erhaps that confession 
is sincere when it is wrung out by terror of conscience, then he confesseth 
that he hath deceived the world, and deceived himself, and laboured to 
deceive God also. 

K we would have comfort in the hour of death, labour we to deal plainly 
and directly ; and of all other sins, as I said before, remember this is that 
which ^vill lie the heaviest on us, as coming nearest the sin against the Holy 
Ghost. For what is the sin against the Holy Ghost ? When men rush 
against their knowledge in malice to the truth known. Where there is 
most knowledge, and most will, there is the gi'eatest sin. Now in lying 
and dissembling, and double-dealing, a man comes near to the sin against 
the Holy Ghost ; for he knows that he doth ill, he plots the ill that he 
knows ; and when there is plotting, there is time to deliberate ; a man is 
not carried away by passion. 

Consider, the time will come when you will be uncased, when you will 
be laid open and naked ; and then at that time, of all sins, this will lie 
heavy on thee, thy dissembling in the world. Therefore every one in his 
calling, take heed of the sins of his calling, among the rest, of this one of 
double-dealing. 

2. And therefore that we may avoid it the better, labour for faith, to live 
by faith. What is the reason that men live by shifts, and by doubling in 
the world ? They have not faith to depend upon God, in good and plain 
downright courses. Men are ready to say, If I should not dissemble and 
double, and cari-y things after that manner, how should I live ? Why, 
where is thy faith ? The righteous man hves by his faith, and not by his 
shifts, not by his wits. God will provide for us. Are we not in covenant 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER, 12. 239 

with God ? Do we not profess to be God's children ? Do children use to 
shift ? No ; a child goes about to do his father's will and pleasure, and he 
knows that he will maintain him. It is against the nature of the child of 
God, as far as he knows himself to be a child of God, to use any indirect 
course, any windings and turnings in his calling. Let us depend upon 
God as a child depends on his father ; and of all ethers God will provide 
most for them that in simple honesty, in plain downright dealing, depend on 
him in doing good. 

For God accounts it a prerogative to defend and maintain them that 
cast themselves on him. He will be their wisdom that can deny their own 
wisdom, and their own shifts by nature, and in conscience labour to deal 
directly. He will be wise for them and provide for them. It is his pre- 
rogative to do so, and not to suffer his children to be deserted. A little 
faith therefore would help all this, and would make us walk in simplicity. 
If we could make God our all-sufficiency once, then we should walk up- 
rightly before God and men. 

For what makes men to double ? 

This certainly makes men to double. They think they shall be undone 
if they be direct ; for if they deal directly, they shall lose their liberty, or 
their lives, or their opportunity of gaining, &c. Well ; come what will, 
deal thou directly, and know this for a rule, thou shalt have more good 
in God's favour, if thou be a Christian, than thou canst lose in the world, 
if upon grounds of conscience thou deal directly in what estate soever 
thou art. 

If thou be a judge, if thou be a witness, deal directly, speak the truth. 
If thou be a divine, speak directly in God's cause, deal out the word of God 
as in God's presence, come what will, whatsoever thou losest in thy wealth, 
or liberty, &c., thou shalt gain in God. Is not all good in him ? What is 
all the good we have, is it not from him ? And the nearer you come to 
him, the more your happiness is increased ; the more you are stripped of 
earthly things, the more you have in God. Hath not he men's hearts in 
his hands ? When you think you shall endanger yourselves thus and thus 
by plain direct dealing without doubling, if you be called to the profession of 
the truth, &c. ; hath not he the hearts of men in his hands to make them 
favour you when he pleaseth ? In Prov. x. 9, ' He that walketh uprightly, 
walketh boldly.' He that walketh uprightly, not doubling in his courses, 
he walketh safely. God will procure his safety. God that hath ' the 
hearts of men in his hand as the rivers of water,' Prov. xxi. 1, he can turn 
them to favour such a man. 

A man's nature is inclined to favour downright- dealing men, and to hate 
the contrary. You see the three young men, when they were threatened 
with fire, come what will, ' king, we will not worship the image of gold 
which thou hast set up,' Dan. iii. 14, seq. They would be burned first. 
What lost they by it ? 

Howsoever, if we should lose, as it is not to be granted that we can lose 
anything by dkect dealing, ' For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness 
thereof,' Ps. xxiv. 1, and the hearts of men are his. But suppose they do, 
yet they gain in better things, in comfort of conscience, and expectation 
and hope of better things. Faith is the ground of courage, and the ground 
of all other graces that carry a man's courage in a course of simplicity in 
this world. 

Therefore, if we would walk simply, and have our conversation in the 
world in this grace, let us labour especially for faith to depend upon God's 



210 COMMENTARY ON 

promises, to approve ourselves to him, to make him our last and chief end, 
and our communion with him, and to direct all our courses to that end. 
This is indeed to set him up a throne in om* hearts, and to make him a 
God, when rather than we will displease him or his vicegerent, his vicar in 
us, which is conscience (that he hath placed in us as a monitor and as a 
witness), we will venture the loss of the creature, of anything in the 
world, rather than we will displease that vicar which he hath set in our 
hearts. This, I say, is to make him a God ; and he will take the care and 
protection of such a man. St Paul here, in all the imputations, in all 
crosses in the world, he retires home, to himself, to his own house, to con- 
science ; and that did bear him out, that 'in simplicity he had his conver- 
sation in the world.' The next particular is, 

' In sincerity.' The apostle adds to simplicity, this ' godly sincerity.' 
And he may well join these two together, for plainness and truth go to- 
gether. A plain heart is usually a true heart. Doubleness and hypocrisy, 
which are contrary, they always go together. He that is not plain to men 
will not be sincere to God. Simplicity respects our whole course with men- 
Sincerity hath an eye to God, though, perhaps, in matters and actions 
towards men. Sincerity is alway with a respect to God ; and so it is op- 
posed to hypocrisy, a vice in religion opposite to God. 

Now this sincerity that the apostle speaks of, it is a blessed frame of the 
soul, wrought by the Spirit of God, tcherebi/ the soid is set straight and nght 
in a purpose to p)lease God in all things (and in endeavours answerable to that 
purpose), and to offend him in nothing. 

I make a plain description, because I intend practice. There may be 
some nicer descriptions. 

But, I say, it is a blessed frame of the soul, wrought b}' the sincere Spirit 
of God, whereby the soul is set straight and right to purpose, and to endea- 
vour all that is pleasing in God's sight ; and that with an intention to please 
God, with an eye to God, or else it is not sincerity. It is such a disposi- 
tion and frame of soul that doth all good, that hates all ill, with a pui-pose 
to please God in all, with an eje to God. 

And therefore it is called ' sincerity of God,' or 'godly sincerity;' and 
it is called so fitly : because God is not only the author of it, but God is 
the aim of it, and the pattern of it ; for he is the first thing that is sincere, 
that is simple and unmixed. God is the pattern of it. It makes us like 
to God, and he is the aim of it. A man that is sincere aims at God in all 
his courses : wherein he aims not at God he is not sincere. It comes from 
God, and it looks to God. For naturally we are all hypocrites. We look 
to shows. Therefore sincerity is from God. 

And it is the sincerity of God especially, because, where this sincerity is, 
it makes us aim at God in all things, it makes us have respect to him in 
all things, as the creature should have respect to the Creator, the servant 
to the master, the son to the father, the subject to the prince. The rela- 
tions we stand in to God should make us aim at him in all things. 

The observation from hence is this, 

Doct. A Christian that hopes for joy, must have his conscience witness to 
him, that his conversation is in the sincerity of God. 

As the apostle saith here, ' This is the testimony of our conscience, that 
in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation,' &c. 

Now to go on with this sincerity, and lay it open a little. Sincerity, it 
is not so much a distinct thing, as that which goes with every good thing. 
Truth and sincerity, it is not so much a diotinct virtue, and grace, as a 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 12. * 241 

truth joined to all gi'aces ; as sincere hope, sincere faith, sincere love, sin- 
cere repentance, sincere confession. It is a gi'ace annexed to every grace. 
It is the life and sonl of every grace, and all is nothing vv'ithout it. 

Therefore it behoves us to consider of it, I say, not so much a distinct 
thing from other graces, as that which makes other graces to be graces, 
without which they are nothing at all. So much sincerity, so much reality. 
So much as we have not in sincerity, we have nothing to God. It is but 
an empty show, and will be so accounted. 

In philosophy, you know, that which is true, only hath a being and con- 
sistence. All truth hath a being, all falsehood is nothing. It is a counter- 
feit thing. It is nothing to that it is pretended to be. An image is 
something, but St Paul calls it nothing, because it is not that which it 
should be, and which the idolater would have it to be. He would have it 
to be a god, but it is nothing less. All is nothing without sincerity. 
Therefore let us consider of it. And that we may the better consider of it, 
let us look upon it in every action. 

All actions are either good, ill, indifferent. 

How is sincerity discovered in good actions ? 

1. Sincerity is tried in good actions many ways. 

(1.) First of all, a man that is sincere in the doing that which is good, 
he will have a mind prepared to know all that is good; to know the good he 
stands disposed to, to know good, and to learn by all good means. There- 
fore he hath a heart prepared with diligence to be informed in the use of 
means. So far as a man is careless and negligent in coming to the means 
of knowledge, and to be put in mind of good duties, so far a man is an 
hyjjocrite and insincere. 

(2.) Again, in regard of good duties, a true, sincere Christian hath an 
universal respect to all that is good. He desires to know all, and, when any- 
thing is manifested to him, he intends to practise all. ' We are here in the 
presence of God,' saith Cornelius, 'to practise all things that shall be taught 
us by God,' Acts s. 33. 'I will have respect to all thy commandments,' 
Ps. cxix. 6, one and another. 

The ground of it is this, sincerity looks at God. Now God, he commands 
one thing as well as another ; and therefore, if a man do anything that is 
good, in conscience to God, he must do one as well as another. As St 
James saith excellently to this purpose, ' He that offends in one is guilty of 
all,' ii. 10. Because, abstaining from one sin, and doing one good for con- 
science, he will do all for conscience if he be sincere. 

Therefore it is true in divinity, — a man that repents of one sin, he repents 
of all, if he repent of any sin as it is a sin, because all sins are of one nature. 
We must not single out what pleaseth us, and leave what doth not please 
us. This is to make ourselves gods. The servant must not choose his 
work, but take that work that his master commands him ; therefore sincerity 
is tried in universal obedience. 

Partial obedience is insincere obedience. When a man saith, This sin 
I must keep still, herein ' God be merciful to me,' this stands with my 
profit, I must not leave this ; this sin I am affected to, as we see in Saul, — 
this is insincerity. It is as good as nothing to God-ward. It may keep 
a man from shame in the world, &c., but to God it is nothing. A man 
must have respect to all God's commandments. It is not done to God 
else. 

(3.) More particularly, he that is sincere, he tvill have regard of the main 
duties, and he will have regard likewise of the lesser ditties, and especiallg of 

VOL. III. ^l 



2i2 ' COMMENTARY ON 

the lesser, such as are not liable to tlie censure of men, or to the censure 
and punishment of the law ; for there a man's sincerity is most tried. In 
great duties, there are great rewards, great encouragements ; but for lesser 
duties, there are lesser encouragements. But if a man do them, he must 
do them for conscience sake. 

Therefore this is sincerity, to practise good duties though they be lesser 
duties, and though they be less esteemed in the world, and less counte- 
nanced ; to practise them though they be discountenanced by the devil, 
and by great ones ; yet to practise them, because they be good ; and to 
love good things that the world cares not for, because they be good. 

The practice of private prayer morning and evening, it is a thing we are 
not expressly bound to, but as conscience binds us. Therefore if a man 
be sincere he will make conscience of that, as well as any other duty, 
because God bids us ' pray alway,' 1 Thess. v. 17. So, to fear an oath for 
conscience sake, not to swear common or lighter oaths, — for I count him not 
worthy the name of a Christian, that is an ordinary swearer ; but — lighter 
oaths a Christian makes conscience of, because he looks to God. Now 
God looks to little sins as well as to great ; and there is no sin little indeed 
that toucheth the majesty of God. 

The practice of all duties, therefore, is a notable evidence of sincerity. 
Herod did many things, but he had a Herodias, that spoiled all. And so 
if thou obey in many things, and not in all, thou hast a Herodias, a main 
sin. Alas ! all is to no purpose ! thou art an hypocrite. 

(4.) Again, for good things, one that is sincere in respect to God, he is 
uniform in his obedience, that is, he doth all that is good, and he doth it in 
one place as well as another, and at one time as well as another. He doth 
it not by starts. 

Therefore there is constancy required in sincerity. Where sincerity is, 
there is constancy to do it in all times, in all places. Or else it is but a 
humour. It is not sincerity when a man doth it but in good moods, as we 
eay. Therefore a man that is sincere, he makes conscience of private 
duties as well as of public ; of personal duties between God and his own 
soul, as well as of the duties that the world takes notice of; in one place 
as well as another. He is holy not only in the church, but in his closet ; 
not only in his calling as he is a Christian, but when he is about his par- 
ticular business. He considers he is in the presence of God in every place, 
at all times. 

St Paul everywhere laboured to have a good conversation. When he 
was at the bar, he remembered where he was, and he laboured to convert 
others. In the prison he converted Onesimus, Philcm. 10. When he had 
his liberty, he spread the gospel everywhere. 

So in all places he was uniform like himself, which shewed that he had 
a good conscience. And therefore he doth not say, I do now and then a 
good action, but mj course of life, ' m}' conversation, is in sincerity.' So 
there must be sincerity in our walking, our whole conversation. Thus we 
see in good actions how to try our sincerity. 

(5.) A sincere man in the very performance of good duties, he is humble ; 
because he doth all things in the eye of God. He doth it in sincerity 
with humility. He doth all good with reverence, because he doth it to 
God. 

Humility, and reverence, it is a qualification of sincerity ; because what- 
soever we do, we do it in the eye of God. Therefore we are reverent w 
our very secret devotions in our closets. We carry ourselves reverently; 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 213 

because when no eye seeth us, the eye of heaven seeth us, in one place as 
well as another. A sincere christian, is a reverent, and humble Christian, 
and this reverence accompanies all his good actions. 

(6.) And when he hath done all, a sincere Christian that doth them to 
God, he is humble, and then he is thankful ; for he knows that he hath not 
done it by his own strength, but by God, and therefore God hath the 
glory. _ 

He is humble, because they are mixed with some infirmities of his.^ A 
sincere Christian is alway humble, having an eye to God. Though to the 
eye of the world he hath done excellent well, yet he knows that God seeth* 
as he seeth. He seeth some defects, God seeth more, and that humbleth 
him. As we see David, 1 Chron. xxix. 14. Saith he, ' Who am I ? or 
who is this people, that we should be able to offer willingly after this sort ? 
AU things come of thee ; of thine own I have given thee.' So he humbled 
himself in thankfulness to God. 

2. For ill actions, (1.) a true sincere Christian beforehand he intends none. 
He regards none in his heart. Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard iniquity in my hearts, 
the Lord will not hear my prayers.' His disposition is to regard none. 
He is in league with none. If he were, his heart were Mse, his conscience 
would tell him he were an hypocrite. He is subject to infirmities, but he 
doth not respect them, he doth not regard them. He intends not in his 
heart to live in them. 

(2.) Again, if he fall into any sin, he is sincerely yrieved for them. His 
heart is tender, and he sincerely confesseth them, without guile, Ps. xxxii. 
2. ' Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile,' who when he 
sees he hath sinned, he doth not guilefully cloak and extenuate his sin. 
As we see Saul, he had many evasions, and excuses for himself, 1 Samuel 
xiii. 12. A true Christian will lay open his sin with all the aggravations 
that his conscience tells him of. As David saith, what a fool, ' and what 
a beast was I,' Ps. Ixxiii. 22 ; what an unthankful creature was I to sin 
against so many benefits and favours ! He will be ashamed and con- 
founded in himself. 

(3.) And of all sins, a sincere Christian is most careful to avoid his 
■personal sins. You may know sincerity by that. He that takes not heed 
to that which he is most inclined unto, he shall be tripped in it. 

An hj^ocrite and Mse-hearted man, he doth good, but it is with a 
purpose to be favoured in some sin wherein he strengtheneth himself. He 
will do something, that God may be favourable to him in other things. 

But a true sincere Christian, though he be inclined by temper of body, 
or by his calling, or by the former custom of his unregenerate life, to some 
sin more than another, and he hath not shaken some sin wholly off, he hath 
not purged himself wholly of the dregs of it, but he finds still a propense- 
ness in his nature to it ; yet as far as he is sincere, he gets strength, 
especially against that. A false-hearted man favours himself, especially in 
those sins ; and will swell if he be found out in them. He wiU not bear a 
reproof. But a Christian that is sincere, that intends amendment, that 
intends to be better, he would reform his heai't if it be amiss, and is will- 
ing to be discovered in his most particular and personal sin's that he is 
prone to. 

We may try ourselves by this, not only by hating sin in general and at 
large, but how we stand affected, especially to those particular sins we are 
most prone to. Sincerity, as it hates all wicked ways, so it hates those sina 
* Qu. 'teeth not?'-G. 



244 COMMENTARY ON 

that are most sweet, that wo are most prone to, as -ffell as any other, nay, 
more than any other ; beeansc those especially endanger the soul. A child 
of God will abstain from all evil. He will be careful, not only that others 
abstain from sin, but he will abstain from sin himself most of all. Noisome 
things we hate them always, but wc hate them most when they are nearest 
ns. As a toad, we hate it afar off, much more when it is near. So a sin- 
cere Christian hates sin most in his own breast. 

(4.) Now because sincerity hath an eye to God, I must hate all sin as well 
as a))!/, or else I am not sincere. 

A man that hath the point of his soul to God-ward, he will hate all man- 
ner of ill, little ills as well as great ; because all sin agrees in this, — all sin is 
against God. It is contraiy to the mind of God ; and all sin is pernicious 
to the soul. All sin is against the pure word of God, and considering it is 
60, therefore I must hate all sin, if I hate any ; because God hates all, and 
all sin is contrary to the image of God ; and not onlj^ contrary to the image 
of God, but contrary to the revealed will of God, contrary to my soul's com- 
fort, contrary to communion with God, and contrary to the peace of my 
conscience. Those regards come in every sin. Every sin hinders that. 

(5.) Again, where the soul and conscience is sincere, there will be a spe- 
cial care for the time to come of the sins ive have been overtaken uithal. So 
we see how this sincerity may be tried, in abstaining from evil, as well as 
in the good we do. 

3. For actions that are of a more common nature, that in themselves are 
veitJier f/ood nor ill, hut as the doer is, and as the doer stands affected, a true 
Christian may be tried by them thus — 

(1.) For the actions of his callinrf, though they be good in their kind, yet 
they be not religious, thus he stands affected if he be sincere, — he doth them 
as God's work. Common actions are as the doer is affected. A sincere 
man considers what he doth as God's work. He is commanded to serve 
God in his callin^ as well as in the church ; an&, therefore, he will not do 
it negligently. ' For cursed is he that doth the worK ui the Lord negli- 
gently,' Jer. xlviii. 10. 

He will not do it falsely. He will not profane his calling. I will not 
prostitute my calling to serve my lust, or to serve my gain. Doth not God 
see it ? is not he the author of my calling ? is it not his work, saith con- 
science ? Yes ! and therefore he doth common actions with an eye to God, 
and so he makes them good and religious actions. For the grace of God 
is a blessed alchymist ! Wliere it toucheth, it makes good and religious. 
Though the actions be not so in their own nature, it raiseth the actions, it 
elevates them higher than themselves. 

It makes the actions of our calling, that are ordinary actions, to be holy, 
when they are done with an eye of sincerity to God. As St Paul saith, the 
very servant serves God in serving his master. 

(2.) And so for actions that we account most indifferent, as recreations 
and lihevtij to refresh onrselves. A sincere man considers of them as a liberty 
bought to him by the blood of Christ, and considers himself in the presence 
of God. And, therefore, whatsoever he doth, ' whether he eat or drink.' 
&c., 1 Cor. X. 31, he still useth his refreshings as in the presence of God, 
and doth all as in the sight of God. His conversation, that is, his whole 
course, whatsoever he doth, is sincere with an eye to God, He knows his 
corruption is such that it most watcheth him in his liberties ; for the more 
lawful a thing is, the more we are in danger to be entangled in it. 

In excess, in open ills, there is not so much danger as in things that 



2 COBINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. Jilo 

seem indifferent, lawful recreations, &c. Recreations, and such things, are 
lawful ; but to spend whole nights unthriftily, basely, scandalously this way, 
it is not only against religion, but against civihty. In a civil man's judg- 
ment, it is a scandal to the place and person. Therefore he that hath any 
truth of grace in him, he will look to himself, and look to God in the most 
free actions of all. You see then how we may judge of our sincerity what- 
soever we do. A sincere Christian stands thus affected in some measure, in 
some degree, in the good he doth, in the ill he abstains from. Whatsoever 
it be, he thinks he hath to deal with God. 

Use 1. Now to stir us up to this blessed state, to labour for this frame of 
soul, to be sincere, to have our conversation in sincerity, what needs be 
added more than this, that without it all is nothing. 

1. All our glorious performances are mere aho)ninations, icithout sinceritij. 
God wiU say, you did it not to me, you did it for vaingloiT, you did it for 
custom or out of education, for vain and by-respects, and not to me, and do 
you look for a reward of me ? You did it not for conscience ; for conscience 
alway looks to God. And what we do not in conscience and obedience to 
God, in our general or particular calling, it stands not on our reckoning 
with God. It is as good as if it were not done, in regard of God, and of 
the life to come. ' You have your reward,' saith 'hrist, Mat. vi. 2. It is 
no matter what your respects be here. If you carry yourselves carefully in 
your place, to have the credit of men, to gain the favour of men, you have 
your reward. Will you look for a reward from God, when what you did, 
you did it to the world ? 

What a pitiful thing is this, that a man should do many things, many 
years together, and yet do nothing that may further his day of account, 
because it was not done out of conscience of his duty ? His conversation 
was not in sincerity to God. Now, if we have not truth we have nothing 
in religion. St Paul saith, as I said before, ' Of an idol, it is nothing,' 
Why ! it is a piece of wood, or a piece of gold, the materials of it is some- 
thing, but it is nothing to that which it should be. If a man be not true in 
religion, he is nothing in that. He is a true hypocrite, but a false Chris- 
tian. He is nothing in Christianity. He is something in hypocrisy, but 
that something is nothing. 

All the shows in the world, and all the flourishes, they are nothing. 
What is the reason that excellent clerks,* men of excellent parts, die 
comfortless many times ? Why ! God is not beholden to them for all that 
they did. They sought their own praise. As the prophet Isaiah saith, 
' When you fasted, did you fast to me ?' Zech. vii. 5. When you did good 
works, did you do them to me ? may God say. There was no truth in it. 
So much simplicity, so much comfort. Sincerity is all that we can come to 
in this world. Perfection we cannot attain to. Christ is perfection lor us. 
Truth is aU that we can reach to, and without that all is nothing. There- 
fore we ought to regard it especially. 

2. Again, on the other side, this is a great encouragement to be sincere, 
to be true-hearted in all our courses and actions ; because it gives acceptance 
to whatsoever ice do ; and it is that by which God values us. God values us 
not by perfection, not by glorious shows, but by what we have in truth. 
So much truth, so much worth. A little pearl is worth a great deal of 
rubbish. 

A little sincerity, because it is God's own creature, it is ' the sincerity of 
God,' it is wrought by him, it is his stuff. There is an almighty power to 
* That si, =: ' ministers of the gospel.' — G. 



246 COMMENTARY OX 

work tiiitli in us ; for by nature wc are all false. God gives to some men 
to can-y themselves more civilly than others ; but it is nothing worth except 
God change a man by gi-ace ; because God accepts us according to sincerity. 
God values us by truth. So much truth, so much esteem of the God of 
truth. 

And where this sincerity is, God bears with many infirmities. As hi 
marriage, the husband that is discreet, that knows what belongs to mar- 
riage, if the heart of the wife be true, though she have many woman-hke 
infirmities, he passeth by them as long as the conjugal knot is kept im- 
violate. So a Christian, if his heart be true, that he looks to God in all 
things, though he have many infirmities, God passeth by them. As 
we see in Asa ; how manj' faults had he committed ? He trusted in the 
physicians, he used the prophet hardly, and many other faults, and yet it 
is said that his heart was upright all his daj's, because he had truth in him. 
It was in passion that he did this or that otherwise. So Hezckiah, although 
he had many infuinities, jet he could say that he ' had walked uprightly 
before God,' Isa. xxxviii. 3 ; and God did well esteem him for it. And 
when he speaks of those that were to come to the passover, ' Be merciful 
to those that prepare their hearts,' 2 Chron. xxx. 19, those that have true 
hearts, though they have many weaknesses. 

Now, if the heart be false, though a woman have many virtues, yet if she 
want the main, if she have a false heart to her husband, what is all the 
rest ? So the soul that is married to God, that hath, sweet communion 
with God, if the heart and soul be naught, what are all the shows in the 
world ? They are nothing. Let us take it to heart, therefore, and labour 
to approve our hearts and souls to God in all that we do, more than our 
hves and outward conversations to the world. Let them think what they 
will, so God approve of our hearts, and intentions, and purposes ; we are 
not to ' pass what the world judgeth,' as St Paul saith of himself, 1 Cor. 
iv. 3. 

3. Again, this should encourage us to labour for sincerity and truth, be- 
cause wheresoever that is, there is a (froidnfi to perfection. ' To him that 
hath shall be given,' Mat. xiii. 12. ' If we order our conversation aright,' 
as the psalmist saith, Ps. 1. 23, and labour to please God in all things, the 
more we do, the more we shall have grace to do; and the more we have, the 
more we shall have. ' To him that hath shall be given ; ' that is, he that 
truly hath, and doth not seem to have, but [he that] hath not indeed, that 
seemeth to have goodness, and hath none indeed, that which he hath shall be 
taken from him. 

A true Christian is alway on the mending hand. It is a blessed prero- 
gative. He is alway mending and bettering by God's blessing. For where 
God gives in truth, if it be but a little, if it be but a grain of mustard-seed, 
if it be true, he will cherish it till it come to be a tree. He wiU add grace 
to grace, one degree of grace to another. Where there is truth, it is alway 
honoured with growth. It is not only a sign of truth, but where truth is 
there will be an endeavour of growth. It is a prerogative. Where God be- 
stows truth, he will always add the grace of gi'owth, though not at all times 
alike. Yet if Christians sometimes do not grow, their not growing and their 
failings shame them, and makes them grow more afterward, and recover 
their former backwardness. A true Christian is alway on the mending 
hand. An hypocrite grows worse and worse alway, till he be uncased alto- 
gether, and turned into hell. These and such like considerations may stir 
us up to labour to have a conversation in simplicity and godly sincerity. 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEB. 12. 247 

Use 2. Now, how shall we come to carry ourselves in sincerity, that we 
may have comfort in all estates ? 

That we may carry ourselves in sincerity, 

1. First, M'e 7niist get a change of heart. Our nature must be changed. 
For by nature a man aims at himself in all things, and not at God. A man 
makes himself his last end. He makes something in the world, either pro- 
fits, or pleasures, &c., the term that he looks unto. Therefore, there must 
be a change of heart. A man must be a good man, or else he cannot be a 
sincere man. Such as we are, such our actions wiU be. Therefore, we 
cannot be sincere till we have our hearts changed. 

2. No man can aim at God's glory, but he that hath felt God's love in 
himself. Therefore as a particular branch of that, labour to get assurance 
of the love of God in Jesus Christ ; for how can we endeavour to please 
him unless we love him ? And how can we love him unless we be per- 
suaded that he loves us in Christ ? Therefore let us stablish our hearts 
more and more in the evidences of his love to us ; and then loiowing that 
he loves us, we shall love him, and labour to please him in all things. 
These are grounds that must be laid before we can be sincere ; to get as- 
surance of God's love to us in the pardon of our sins. ' Our conscience 
must be purged from dead works, to serve the li\dng God,' as the apostle 
saith, Heb. ix. 14 ; that is, we cannot serve God to our comfort till our 
consciences are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, which assures us of the 
pardon of our sins. Therefore saith Zacharias, ' We are redeemed, that 
we might serve him in righteousness and holiness before him all the days 
of our life,' Luke i. 75. So that unless a man be redeemed, he cannot 
serve him in righteousness and holiness ' before him ' all the days of his 
life ; that is, he cannot serve God in sincerity. 

For who will labour to please his enemy ? Therefore the papists main- 
tain hypocrisy when they say we ought not to be persuaded of the love of 
God, for then we ought to be hypocrites. For how shall we seek him with 
the loss of favour, and of credit, and of life itself, if we know not that his 
favour will stand us in stead, if we lose these things for him ? 

3. Again, that we may be sincere, let us labour to mortifg all our earthlv; 
affections to the ivorld ; for how can we be sincere when we seek for honours,, 
and pleasures, and riches, and not for better things ? Therefore we must 
know that there is more good to be had in truth, in a downright Christian 
profession, than in all worldly good whatsoever. And if we be hypocrites 
in our profession, there is more ill in that than in anything in the world. 
This wiU make us sincere, when we can be persuaded that we shall get 
better things by being sincere in rehgion than the world can give us, or 
take away from us. For why are men insincere and false-hearted ? 
Because they think not religion to be the true good. They think it is 
better to have riches than to have a good mind. These things therefore 
must be mortified ; and a man must know that the life of a Christian is in- 
comparably the best life, though it be with the loss of Hberty, yea, with the 
loss of life itself. 

Simon Magus grew to false affections in religion, because he thought to 
have profit by it. So the Pharisees, they had naughty hearts, and there- 
fore they had no good by religion. No man can profit by religion so long 
as his heart is naught, so long as there is some idol in his heart. A good 
Christian had rather have a large heart to serve God, and rather grow in 
the image of God, to be like him, than to grow in anything in the world, 
and that makes him sincere out of a good judgment ; because Christian ex- 



248 COililEKTABY ON 

cellency is the best excellency incomparably. For he knows well what all 
else will be ere long. "What ! will all do good, riches, honours, friends ? 
WTiat good will they do in the hour of death ? There is nothing but grace, 
and the expression of it in the whole conversation, that will comfort us. 
Therefore he undervalues all things in the world to sincerity and a good 
conscience. 

4. Again, that we may have our conversation in sincerity, let us labour 
in everything we do to approve ourselves to the eye of God. We see the 
Scripture everywhere shews, that this hath made God's children conscien- 
tious in all their com-ses ; even when they might have sinned not only 
secm-ely, but with advantage. What kept Joseph from committing folly 
with his mistress ? ' Shall I do this, and sin against God ? ' Gen. xxxix. 
9. And so Job in chap, xxxi., he shews what awed and kept him from 
ill-doing ; in ver. 3, ' Doth not he see my ways, and account all my steps ? ' 
This was it that kept him in awe. So the church of God, Ps. xliv., being 
in great distress, they kept themselves from idolatry, and from the conta- 
gion of the times wherein they hved. Upon what ground ? You shall see 
in verse 21, 'If we had done thus and thus, shall not God search it out ? 
for he knows the very secrets of the heart.' So a Christian being per- 
suaded of the eye of God upon him, it makes him sincere. The eye of God 
being ten thousand times brighter than the sun, he being light itself. He 
made the heart, and he knows all the turnings of the heart. The con- 
sideration of this will make us sincere in our closets, in our very thoughts ; 
for they all lie open and naked to his view. 

What is the reason that men practise secret villany, secret wickedness, 
and give themselves to speculative filthiness ? Because they are atheists. 
They forget that they are in the eye of God, who sees the plots and projects 
of their hearts, and the nets that they have laid for their brethren. There- 
fore David brings them in saying, ' Tush ! God sees us not,' Isaiah xxix. 15. 
And that is the reason they are unconscionable in their desires, in their 
hearts, in their secret thoughts. It is from a hidden atheism. For if we 
did consider that the eye of God sees us in all our intents and actions, and 
sees us in what manner we do all, and to what end ; that he sees every 
action, with the circumstances, the aims, and ends ; if the heart did well 
ponder this, it would prevent a great deal of evil. 

Conscience is the witness of our conversation,' a witness that will keep us 
fi-om offending. If there were a witness by, and that witness were a great 
person, a judge, &c., it would keep us in our good behaviour. Now when 
a man shall consider, I have a witness within me, my conscience ; and a 
witness without, which is God, who is my Judge, who can strike me dead 
in the committing of a sin, if he please : this would make men, if they were 
not atheists, to fear to sin. 

Let us labour therefore to approve our hearts to God, as well as our con- 
versations to men ; set ourselves in the presence of God, who is a discerner 
of our thoughts as well as of our actions ; and that which we should be 
ashamed to do before men, let us be afraid to think before God, That is 
another means to come to sincerity. 

5. Another direction to help us to walk sincerely is, especiaUy to look to 
the heart, look to the beginning, to the spring of all our desires, thoughts, 
affections, and actions, that is, the heart. The qualification of that is the 
quahfication of the man. If the heart be naught, the man is naught. If 
that be sincere, the man i;; sincere. Therefore look to the heart. See 
what springs out thence. If there spring out naughty thoughts and desires, 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 12. 249 

suppress them in the beginning. Let us examine every thought. If we 
fird that we do but think an evil thought, execute it presently ; crush it : 
for all that is naught comes from a thought and desire at the first. There- 
fore let us look to our thoughts and desires. See if we have not false de- 
sires, and intents and thoughts answerable. 

God is a Spirit, and he looks to our very spirits : and what we are in our 
spirits, in our hearts and affections, that we are to him. Therefore, as a 
branch of this, what ill we shun, let us do it from the heart, by hating it 
first. A man may avoid an evil action from fear, or out of other respects, 
but that is not sincerity. Therefore look to thy heart, see that thou hate 
evil, and let it come from sincere looking to God. ' Ye that love the Lord, 
hate the thing that is evil,' saith David, Ps. xcvii. 10 : not only avoid it, 
but hate it ; and not only hate it, but hate it out of love to God. And 
that which is good, not only to do it, but to labour to delight and joy in it. 
For the outward action is not the thing that is regarded, but when there is 
a resolution, a desire and delight in it, then God accounts it as done. And 
so it is in evil. If we dehght in evil, it is as if it were done already. 
Therefore in doing good, look to the heart, joy in the good you do, and then 
do it ; and in evil, look to the heart, judge it to be evil, and then abstain 
from it. 

This is the reason of all the errors in our lives. Because we have bad 
hearts, we look not to God in sincerity. Judas had a naughty heart. He 
loved not the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore he had a naughty conclusion. 
What the heart doth not, is not done in religion. Thus we see how we 
may come to have our conversation in sincerity, that we may rejoice in the 
testimony of our conscience. 

Use. Therefore now, to make an use of exhortation, we should labour for 
sincerity, and esteem highly of it, because God so esteems of it. Truth is all that 
we can allege to God. We cannot allege perfection. St Paul himself saith 
not, I have walked exactly or perfectly : no, but he saith, ' This is our re- 
joicing, that we have walked in sincerity.' So, if a man's conscience can 
excuse him of hypocrisy and doubling, though it cannot fi'ee him from im- 
perfections, God in the covenant of grace looks not so much at perfection 
as at truth. 

Obj. Here I might answer an objection of some Christians. Oh, but I 
cannot pi'ay without distraction, I cannot delight so in good things, &c. 

Ans. Though a Christian's heart cannot free him from this, yet his heart 
desires to approve itself to God in all things ; and his heart is ready to say 
to the Lord, as David said, ' Lord, try me, if there be any way of wicked- 
ness in me,' Ps. cxxxix. 23. And therefore he will attend upon all means 
to get this sincerity. He will be diligent in the word of God, for therein 
the mind of God is manifestly seen. The word of God, it is a begetting 
word, it makes us immortal, it makes us new creatures. It is truth, and 
the instrument of truth. Truth will make truth. The true sincere word 
of God, not mingled with devices, it will make what it is. The word of 
God, being his word who is Almighty, it hath an almighty transforming 
power from him. It is accompanied and clothed with his Almighty Spirit. 
Truth will cause truth. Such as it is in itself it will work in our hearts. 

In that mongrel, false religion, poperj^ they have traditions, and false 
devices of men, and so they make false Christians. Such as they are they 
make. Strain them to the quintessence, and they cannot make a tnie 
Christian. Truth makes true Christians. Therefore attend upon God's 
ordinance with all reverence, and it will make thee a sound heart. It is a 



250 



COMMENTARY ON 



transforming word. Those that desire to hear the word of God, and to 
have their consciences to be infoiined by the hearing of it, they are sincere 
Christians ; and those that labour to shut up the word of God, that it may 
not work upon the conscience, they are false-hearted. 

A heart that is sincere, it prizeth the word of God that makes us sincere. 
The word of God hath this effect, especially being unfolded in the ministry 
of it, that a man may say, as Jacob did, ' Doubtless God is in this place,' 
Gen. xxviii. 17. It is all that is ours. Nothing runs upon our reckoning 
but sincerity. For what I have not done truly, conscience saith I have 
not done to God, and therefore I can expect no comfort for it ; but what I 
have done to God, I look to have with comfort : for I know that God regards 
not perfection, but sincerity. He requh'es not so much a great faith, as a 
true faith ; not so much perfect love, as true love, and that I have in truth, 
as St Peter said, ' Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,' John xvi. 30. 

This will make us look God, who is the Judge, in the face. It gives us 
not title to heaven, for that is only by Christ ; but it is a qualification 
required of us in the gospel. Nothing is ours but what we do in truth. 

And again, consider that it will comfort us against Satan at the hour of 
death. When Satan shall tempt us to despair for our sins, as that he will 
do, we may comfort ourselves with this, that we have been sincere. We 
may send him to Christ, for that must be the way, who hath fulfilled God's 
will, and satisfied his Father's wrath. Satan will say. This is true ; 
it is the gospel, and therefore it cannot be denied ; but it is for them that 
have walked according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh ; for 
those that have obeyed God in all things. Now when our conscience shall 
join with Satan, and say, we did nothing to God, we have not obeyed 
him, how can we answer him ? we must needs yield to the tempter. But 
when we can say with Peter, ' Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,' thou 
knowest I have laboured to approve my heart to thee, and that I have 
prosecuted this desire with endeavours ; this will comfort a man in the 
time of temptation. Therefore let us labour to have our conversation in 
sincerity. 

It will afford us much comfort in this Hfe, as it did St Paul. St Paul 
here was in some grievous sickness, even to death, and he was disgraced as 
a person that regarded not his promise of coming to them. Now what doth 
he do in all this sickness and disgrace ? what doth he answer to them ? 
He comforts himself in this, ' My rejoicing is, that my conscience doth testify 
my sincerity.' He runs to God, and to his sincerity, as his stronghold. He 
approves himself to God. Something we shall have in this life first or last ; 
afllictions, or disgraces, and troubles will come. What is then the strong- 
hold of a Christian ? Then he runs to his sincerity. What would Heze- 
kiah have done when he received the ' sentence of death,' [if it had not been] 
that he had walked before God in uprightness and sincerity ? Sincerity 
then is worth more than the world. And he that will not labour for that 
which is worth more than all the world, it is a sign he is ignorant of the 
worth of it. A man at the hour of death he would lose all the world if he 
had it, for sincerity. 

Therefore let us not part with our sincerity. Let us not offend against 
sincerity and truth by falsehood in our carriage, and in our tongues, or con- 
versations any manner of way, since it will yield us so much comfort in 
temptations, and afflictions, and at the tribunal and judgment-seat of 
Christ. 

Let us not have false aims and ends, and do things in a false manner. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 251 

It is not action only that God requires, but the manner. If we regard not 
the manner, God will not regard the matter. The matter of the Pharisees' 
performances was very good for stuff, but their hearts being naught, God 
regarded it not. Let us look to the manner of doing all that we do, that 
we do them to God, that we do them in sincerity, in a holy manner. The 
Scripture requires this, receive the sacrament, but thus, ' Examine your- 
selves,' 1 Cor. xi. 28. ' Take heed how you hear,' Mark iv. 24. Let your 
conversation be in the world, but thus, ' in simplicity and godly sincerity.' 
St Paul doth not say that he rejoiced in miracles, or in the great works that 
he had done, in converting of nations, &c., which yet were matters of joy ; 
but when he comes to joy indeed, here is his joy, that his conversation had 
been in ' simplicity and godly sincerity.' 

And Christians must take heed that they reason not against sincerity 
another way, that is, to conclude they have no goodness, because they see 
a great deal of corruption and imperfections ; for imperfections may stand 
with truth. Asa, as I said, had many infirmities in his life, yet notwith- 
standing it is said, that he walked in sincerity. So Hezekiah, it is said he 
' walked before God uprightly,' j'et he had many infirmities and imperfec- 
tions. Nay, a man may well retort this upon such poor souls, that are 
witnesses with Satan against themseves, in the sight of their sins, that their 
sins being known by them, especially with hatred of them, it is a sign of 
sincerity. 

Again, others are ready to say, I am not sincere, because God follows 
me with afflictions and distresses. Reason not so, for he therefore follows 
thee with afflictions, because he would have nothing but sincerity in thee. 
He would make thee wholly sincere, and purge thee as metal is purged in 
the fire from the dross. Therefore take heed thus of sinning against sin- 
cerity. Do nothing in h}^ocrisy. And when we are once sincere, let us 
not sin against it by yielding to the devil. This comforted Job, when his 
friends alleged his corruptions. ' Well,' saith he, ' you shall not take away 
my sincerity from me,' Job xxvii. 6. He looked to the eye of God, that saw 
him, to whom he approved his heart ; and that consideration made him 
sincere, and thence he comforted himself. So let us comfort ourselves in 
our sincerity against Satan's allegations ; as a condition of the covenant of 
grace, which respects not perfection but tnith. 

To add one thing more. As there is an order of other graces ; so there 
is an order in this sincerity which we should labour for. There is this order 
to be kept. 

1. We must dig deep. We must lay a sincere foundation. What is that ? 
A deep search into our own hearts and ways by sound humiliation. We 
say of digestions, if the first be naught, all are naught ; if the fu'st concoc- 
tion in the body be naught, there can never be good assimilation, there 
can never be good blood. So if there be not a good, a sincere foundation, 
there can never be a sincere fabric. Therefore many mistake, and build 
castles in the air, comb-downes, as we say (pp). They build a frame of pro- 
fession that comes to nothing in the end ; because it is not sincere in this 
order. They were never truly humbled. They had a guileful heart, in the 
confession of their sins. They never knew what sin was throughly, and 
feelingly. ' Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile,' Ps. xxxii. 
2. The psalmist especially means and intends there, in regard of down- 
right dealing with God in the confession of sins. For he himself when he 
did not deal roundly and uprightly with God in the confession of his sins, 
with detestation, and with resolution never to commit the same again, lie 



2o'A 



COilMENTARY OX 



was in a pitiful plip;ht both of soul and body ; his moisture was turned into 
' the drought of summer,' Ps. xxxii. 4. 

2. But when without guile he laid open his soul to God, then he came 
from sincere humihation, and sincere confession, to sincere faith. Therefore, 
for the order, let us first labour to be sincere in the sight of that which is 
ill in us, in the confession of oui- sins, and then we shall be smcere, the 
better to depend upon God's mercy in Christ by faith. 

3. And from thence we shall come to sincere love. When we believe that 
God is reconciled in Christ, we shall love him. Our love is but a reflection 
of his love to us. When once we know that he loves us, we shall love him 
again. 

The spring of all duty is sincere love, coming from sincere faith ; as 
sincere faith is forced out of the sincere sight of our sins, of the ill and 
miserable estate we are in. A man will not go out of himself, so long as he 
sees any hope in himself ; and therefore sound knowledge of the evil condi- 
tion we are in, it forceth the grace of faith, which forceth a man to go out 
of himself. And then when he is persuaded of God's love in Christ, he 
loves him again. 

Love is that which animates, and quickens, and enlivens all duties. What 
are all duties, but love ? Christ reduceth all to love. It is a sweet affection 
that stirs up and quickeneth to all duties. It carries us along to all duties. 
All are love. What need I stand on sincere patience, sincere temperance, 
sincere sobriety, &c. ? If a man have sincere love to God, it will carry him 
to all duties. Remember this order. 

Especially every day, enter into your own souls, and search impartially, 
what sin there is there unconfessed, and unrepented of, and make your peace 
with God by confession. And then go to sincere dependence on God by 
faith in the promises. And then stir up your hearts to love him ; and 
from the love of him to love one another in sincerity, not in hypocrisy. 
Thus we have the maimer of the blessed apostle's carriage in the world, 
whereupon his rejoicing was founded. ' Our rejoicing is this, the testi- 
.mony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity,' 

* We have had our conversation in the world.' I will speak a little of 
those words, before I come to the negative paii, ' Not in fleshly wisdom.' 

* Our conversation.' By ' conversation,' anastrophe* he means the 
several turnings of his life, in what relation soever he stood to God, to men, 
as a minister, as a Christian, as a friend, as a neighbour, at home or 
abroad, in all estates, in all places, and at aU times. His conversation was 
* in simplicity and sincerity.' 

' In the world,' that is, wheresoever he had lived. And mark how he joins 
them together. His conversation in the world amongst men, it was with 
sincerity to God. It was that that did rule his conversation in the world. 
And so it should be with us wheresoever we are, or v/hatsoever we do in 
the world, our carriage here must be directed by a higher aspect. The ship 
while it is tossed in the sea, it is ruled by the pole-star. That must guide 
it. So in our conversation in the world. The stuff of our conversation 
may be the business we have in the world, but the rule, the regiment f of all 
must be from heaven, with an eye to God. I touch that fi'om the knitting 
of these together. 

Now where he saith, that his conversation was in simplicity and sin- 

* That is, avaar^oiprj, turning about, = manner of life.- G. 
t That is, ' government.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 253 

cerity, you may see here then that all the frame, all the passages of his life 
were good. This makes good that which I touched before, which hath its 
proper place here, that 

Sincerity extends itself to all the frame of a man's life. 

He that is sincere, is sincere in all places, and at all times ; in all the 
turnings and windings and passages of his life ; or else he is not sincere at 
all. His conversation must be sincere, wheresoever he lives, or whatsoever 
he doth, in prosperity or adversity, at home or abroad. 

The veriest hypocrite in the world, hath he not pangs sometimes ? Take 
an oppressor, he thinks that he should not die so, he thinks, I must be 
called to an account if I do thus. Doth not Ahab lie upon his sick-bed 
sometimes ? Is not Herod sometimes troubled in conscience ? Hath not a 
wicked man sometimes twitches of conscience which the world sees not, 
secret checks of conscience ? Oh, yes ! There is not the vilest man hving, 
but he hath his good fits, he hath pangs of goodness. But what is this to 
a conversation ? Our conversation must be in sincerity in all the turnings 
and passages of it. 

God judgeth us by the tenor of our life, and not by single particular 
acts. A good man may be ill in a particular act ; and an evil man m.ay be 
good in a particular act. But I say, God doth not judge us by a distinct 
severed passage, but by the tenor of our life. Uniformity, equability, and 
evenness of life, it is an undoubted e^adence of a good man. 

Because he is a new creature, and being a new creature, he hath a new 
nature ; and natm-e works uniformly. Ai-t works differently, and enforcedly. 
Teach a creature somewhat that is against nature, it will do something, but 
a lion will have a lion's trick, and a wolf will have a wolf's trick. Teach 
them never so much, a lion will be a lion in all places ; a wolf will be a 
wolf, and an eagle will be an eagle. Every creature will observe its own 
nature, and be like itself. 

A Christian, as far as he is good, as far as he is a Christian, is uniform. 
His conversation is good, he is like himself, in all places, in all times, upon 
all occasions, in prosperity, in adversity. The very word shews that the 
universality of a man's course must be in sincerity, wheresoever he is. 
God is everywhere, and sincerity hath an eye to God. It makes a man 
good everjTvhere ; or else it doth nothing to God. Doth not God see 
everywhere, abroad, and at home in our closets ? If we plot villany, 
there sees he it as well as abroad. Therefore if I do it anywhere, I 
regard not the eye of God. 

Again, where he saith, ' our conversation,' it implies constancy, as well 
as uniformity. He was so in all places and in all times. But that I noted 
before, therefore I pass it. * Our conversation in the icoiid.' 

That is, amongst other men, wheresoever I was, and have lived. Whence 
we see, that 

Obs. Christianity may stand ivith conversing abroad in the world. 

Men need not be mued*up in a cloister, as the foolish monks in former 
times. They thought that religion was a thing confined to solitariness ; 
whereas ofttimes it requires greater strength of grace to be alone than to 
be in company. We know the proverb, ' Woe to him that is alone,' Eccles. 
iv. 10. A good Christian converses in the world, and that in simplicity 
and sincerity. We need not, I say, cloister ourselves up to be good men, 
to be sincere Christians). We may converse in the world in sincerity if we 
have St Paul's spirit. 

* That is, ' mure(i,'= immured. — G. 



254 COMMENTARY ON 

But that which I will press more, is this, that 

Obs. True relif/ion, ichere it is in strength, doth carry a man in the world, 
and yet he is not tainted with the world. 

St Paul conversed in the world in sincerity. The world is an hypocrite, 
as he said of old. The whole world acts a part. It is an h^-pocrite, 
and a cruel opposer of sincerity and tnith. St Paul lived abroad in the 
world, amongst men that had aims of their own, and abused themselves in 
the world, and yet he walked in ' simplicity and sincerity.' He was a good 
man for all that. A man that is not of the world, hut begotten to be a 
member of a higher world, he may cany himself in the world without the 
corruptions of the world, he may carry himself so in the world that he may 
not be carried away of the world. We see St Paul did so. 

Noah was a good man in evil times, ' a good man in his generation,' Gen. 
vi. 9. Enoch, in evil times ' walked with God,' Gen. v. 22. In Acts xiii. 
22, ' David in his generation served the purpose of God ;' and his generation 
was none of the best. For you know there was Ahithophel, and Doeg, which 
were bad companions, yet in his generation he served the purpose of God. 
So every man in his time may live and converse in the world, and yet not 
be carried away with the corruptions of the times. 

"What is the reason ? 

Reason. The reason is, that a true Christian hath a spirit in him above 
the world. As St John saith, ' The Spirit that is in you is stronger than he 
that is in the world,' 1 John iv. 4. The child of God hath a spirit in him, 
a new nature, that sets him in a rank above the world. Christians are au 
order of men that are above the world. They are men of another world. 
And therefore having a principle of grace that raiseth them above the base 
condition of the world, the}' can live in the world, without the blemishes and 
corruptions of the world. They are men of a higher disposition. 

Even as sickness in the body hurts not the reasonable life, so anything 
that a Christian meets with in the world, it hurts not his Christian life, which 
is his best life, because it is a life of a higher respect, of a higher nature. 
St Paul's ' conversation was in heaven,' Philip, iii. 20, it was above the 
snares here below. He was ' crucified to the world,' Gal. vi. 14. He was 
a dead man to all that was evil in the world, and to that which was good 
and indifierent in the world. For pleasures, for honours, for meat and 
drink, and such necessaries ; the counsel that he gave to others, he prac- 
tised in himself, for worldly caUings, and refreshings, and the like, 1 Cor. 
vii. 29. ' The time is short, let us use the world as though we used it not.' 
He used mdifferent things in the world, which are good or evil as they be 
used, as if he had not used them. He lived in the world, as a traveller or 
passenger. He knew he was not at home. He knew he had another home 
to go to. ' Here we have no continuing city,' Heb. xiii. 14, and therefore 
he used the world as though he used it not. As a traveller useth things 
in his way as far as they may further him ; but let his very staff trouble 
him, he throws it away. So a Christian useth indifferent things in the 
world, which are good or evil according as himself is, he useth them well ; 
because ' all things are pure to the pure,' Titus i. 15. He useth them so 
as that he doth not delight in them, because he hath better things to solace 
himself in. He doth not drown himself in these as worldlings do. 

And for the ills of the world, a Christian in a good measure is crucified 
to the world, and the world to him. And he hath his conversation in 
heaven, ' But our conversation is in heaven,' Philip, iii. 20. ]\Iany serve 
their bellies, ' whose end is damnation, but our conversation is in heaven.' 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 255 

Now his conversation being heavenly, that is the reason that he can converse 
in the world in sincerity, though the world be of another strain. 

So you see then that a Christian is of a higher nature, of a higher con- 
dition than the world ; and he is crucified to the world ; and he knows 
himself to be a passenger and a traveller in the world, and therefore he useth 
the world as though he used it not. And withal he hath his employment 
above the world. The birds that have the air, as long as they are there, 
they are not catched with snares below ; and Christians that have their con- 
versation above, they are not ensnared with the things of the world as other 
men are. We see St Paul conversed in the world in sincerity. 

I observe it the rather, because it is the common exception of weak, and 
false spirits. — We must do as the world doth, or else we cannot live. He 
that knows not how to dissemble, knows not how to live. And the times 
are naught ; so that which is naught and grounded in themselves, they lay 
all the blame of it upon the times. 

Indeed the times are naught, like themselves. As he said, There is a 
circle of human things. The times are but even as they were. Things 
come again upon the stage. The same things are acted. The persons 
indeed are changed, but the same things are acted in the world to the end 
of the world. The times were naught before, they are naught, and they 
will be so. Villany is acted upon the stage of the world continually. The 
former actors are gone, but others are instructed with the same devices, 
with the same plots. The corruption of nature shews itself in all. Only 
now we have the advantage for the acting of wickedness in the end of the 
world ; because, besides the old wickedness in former times, we have the 
new wickednesses of these times. All the streams running into one, make 
the channel greater. 

Men say, Alas ! alas ! the times are ill. Were they not so in Noah's 
time ? Were they not so in David's time ? Were they not so in St Paul's 
time ? Men pretend conformity to the world upon a kind of necessity. 
They must do as others do. 

If they were true Christians it would not be so ; for Noah was good in 
evil times. Nehemiah was good in the court of the king of Babel.* 
Joseph was good, even in Egypt, in Pharaoh's court. This can be no 
plea. For a Christian hath a spirit to raise him above the corruption of 
the times he lives in ; he hath such a spuit likewise as is above prosperity 
or adversity, which will teach him to manage both, and to govern himself 
in all occasions and occurrentsf of the world. ' I can do all things,' saith 
St Paul, ' through Chiist that strengtheneth me ! ' 

As we say, the planets have one course whereby they are carried with 
the first mover every twenty-four hours, from east to west, as the sun is, 
whereby he makes the day. But the sun hath a course of his own back 
again. And so by creeping back again he makes the year in his own com'se. 
So the moon hath one course of her own ; but yet she is carried every day 
another course by the first mover. 

So, a good Chii'istian that lives in the world, he is carried with the world 
in common things ; he companies, and trafiics, and trades, and deals with 
the world. But hath he not a motion of his own contrary to all this at the 
same time ? Yes ; though he converse in the world, yet notwithstanding 
he is thinking of heaven, he is framing his course another way than the 
world doth. He goes a contrary course, he swims against the stream of 
the world. 

* That is, 'Babylon.' — G-. t That is, 'occurrences.' — G. 



250 COMMENTARY ON 

There are some kiud of rivers, they say, that pass through the sea, and 
yet notwithstanding they retain their freshness. It seems as an emblem 
to shew the condition of a Christian. He passeth through the salt waters, 
and yet keeps his freshness, he preserves himself. Therefore, I say, it is 
no plea to say that times are naught, and company is naught, &c. A man 
is not to f^ishion himself to the times. An hj-jjocrite, chameleon-like, can 
turn himself into all colours but white ; and as the water, which we say 
hath no figure of its own, but it is figured by the vessel that it is in (if the 
vessel be round, the water is round ; if the vessel be four-cornered, the 
■water is so), it being a thin, airy, moist body. It hath no compass of its 
own, but is confined by the body it is kept in. 

So some men they have no religion, they have no consistence, no stand- 
ing, no strength or goodness of their own ; but such as their company is, 
such they are, and they think this will serve for all. I must do as others 
do ; it is the fashion of the world. If they be among svi^earers, they will 
swear ; if they be among those that are unclean, they will pollute them- 
selves. They frame themselves to all companies. They will be all, but 
that which they should be. This will not serve the turn. 

A Christian may pray for the assistance of God to keep him in the world ; 
and he may know that God will. What ground hath he ? Our Saviour 
Christ, saith he, ' Father, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of 
the world, but that thou keep them in the world,' John xvii. 15. He prays 
for his apostles and disciples, that God would keep them in the world from 
the contagion of sin, and from the destruction of the world. St Paul, you 
see, lived and conversed in the world, wheresoever he was, in sincerity and 
simplicity. He was not carried away with the stream, and errors of the 
times wherein he lived. 

Nay, to add more, it doth unite the power of gi'ace together, and make 
a man the better, the worse the company or the place is where he lives. We 
know in nature, the environing of contraries increaseth the contrary ; and 
holy men have been better ofttimes in the midst of temptation, and have 
gathered their forces and strength of gi-ace together, more than when they 
have been more secure. The envy and malice of the world is quick-sighted, 
and the more they live amongst those that are observers of them, the more 
cautelous* they are of their carriage. You l^iow it is the apostle's reason, 
* Redeem the time, because the days are evil,' Eph. v. 10. Be you the 
better, because the days are evil. Witness for God in an ' evil generation,' 
in evil times. He doth not say. Do you sin, because the days are evil. 
God's people do always witness for him. 

Let me add this likewise, to give farther light, that we must not take 
occasion hence, to conform and fashion ourselves to any company, to cast 
ourselves into evil company when we need not. We must not tempt God ; 
for then it is just with God to sufi'er us to be soiled with the company. 
And by our carelessness in this kind, we offend the godly, that easily here- 
upon take us to be worse than we are. And as we grieve the Spirit of God 
in them, so in ourselves ; and we build up and strengthen wicked persons. 
And, therefore, this living in the world ' in simplicity and sincerity,' it must 
be when our calling is such, that we live in the world, that we need not any 
local separation to sever ourselves. But when in the world, we are cast on 
men without grace, by our callings, and occasions, we may presume that 
God will keep us by his Spirit. 

Let us not be weary of hearing of this point. For ere long we must all 
* That is, ' cautious.' — 6. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 257 

appear before God, and then what an honour will it be for us, that we 
have witnessed for God in this world ! that we have stood for God and 
good causes in the midst of the world, and ' shined as lights in the midst of 
a crooked generation' ! Philip, ii. 15. That we have managed the cause 
of God, and stood for religion, and held our own in the midst of papists 
and atheists, and profane persons, and witnessed for the best things in 
spite of all, when we have been called to it. We are not to thrust our- 
selves into unnecessary troubles, no, not for the best things, unless we be 
called to it ; but when we are called, and can witness for the best things, 
what an honour will it be for us ! 

And on the contrary, saith Christ, ' He that denies me, and is ashamed 
of me before men, of him will I be ashamed before my heavenly Father,' 
Mark viii. 38. What a fearful thing is this ! Let us look to God in 
simplicity and sincerity, and God will keep us that the world shall not 
hurt us. 

Ol)j. What will become of us ? will some say, this trouble we shall come 
into, and that persecution will befall us. 

Aus. It is not so. Christ was opposed when he was here upon earth ; 
but till his hour was come they could not do anything. Eveiy man hath his 
hom% every man hath his time allotted to serve God in here. God hath 
measured out his life ; and till his hour be come, that God will take him 
out of the world, God will bind up the endeavours of men. Then- plots 
shall be to no pm-pose. God will keep them, and watch over them 
that are downright. ' Because thou hast kept my word, I will keep thee,' 
Rev. iii. 8-10, saith God. Let us keep the word of God in evil times, and 
God will keep us ; let us stand for God, and he will stand for us. 

It is no plea to say, I shall run into this danger, and that danger. 
' God will be thy buckler and thy shield,' Ps. xci. 4, if thou stand for him. 
And that which brings danger is too much correspondence with the world. 
When men forsake their sincerity in the world, when men will be on both 
sides, they carry things unhappily, and unsuccessfully. A do^vnright 
"atheist will carry things with better success than a halting Christian. For 
his policy and subtlety will cany him to actions inconvenient ; but then 
comes his conscience after, when he is in the midst of them, and 
damps him that he cannot go forward nor backward. Therefore the 
only way is to resolve to live in the world in simplicity and sincerity. 
If we do so, we may carry holy businesses strongly, God will assist us 
therein. He will increase our light, and make our way plain and clear 
to us. 

But if a man be not sincere, but double, and carnal, and pretend love of 
religion, and yet take courses and do actions that are not suitable to re- 
ligion, it will not succeed well. God will curse it. He will strike him 
with amazement. He will strike his brain with errors in judgment, &c. 
There is no pretence therefore to make us live falsely, and doubly in the 
world ; but we ought to live as St Paul did, let the world be as bad as it 
will, or as it can be, ' in simplicity and sincerity.' God will shew himself 
strong for those that walk uprightly. He will be w^isdom to such. But 
if we walk doubly, and falsely, and make religion our pretence, God will 
shew himself om- enemy. 

Where be your neuter^ then ? Where be your politicians in religion, that 
will keep their religion to themselves ? St Paul conversed in the world, 
wheresoever he was, in sincerity. He made show what he w-as. He 
walked not according to carnal wisdom, as he saith afterwards. Where be 

VOL. III. K 



2j8 cosimentaky on 

jonr yuIfiJiiUdiis- then, that are of all bolicfk, and yet are of no belie'^? that 
tashion themselves to all religions ? And if they be of the true religion, 
yet it is their wisdom to conceal it. St Paul did not so. But I shall have 
occasion to touch that in the negative part afterward, ' not in fleshly wis- 
dom,' &c. 

Again, where he saith, ' My conversation hath been thus in the world,' 
he means, in this life my conversation here hath been sincere. I will give 
you a touch on that. Though it be not the main aim here, yet notwith- 
standing it may well be touched, that, 

Obs. We must, while ice live here in this iiorld, converse in simplicity and 
sincerity. 

We must not turn it off to live as we list, subtlely, politicly, and carnally, 
and then think to die well. No ; we must live ' soberly, righteously, and 
justly in this present world,' Tit. ii. 12, Do you think to begin to live well 
when you are gone hence ? No ; that is a time of reward, and not a time 
of work. This world is God's workhouse ; here you must work. This is 
God's field ; here you must labour. This is God's sea ; here we must 
sail. Here we must take pains. We must sweat at it. Here we must 
plough and sow, if ever we will reap. 

Dost thou think to carry thyself subtlely, to have thy own ends in every- 
thing here, and then when death comes, a ' Lord, have mercy upon me' 
shall serve for all ? No ; thou must converse as a Christian while thou 
livest here in this world, ' in simplicity and sincerity.' God must have 
honour here by thee. Thou must have a care of thy salvation here. Dost 
thou think to have that in another world which thou dost not care for 
here ? Dost thou think to have glory in another world, which thou didst 
not think of here ? Dost thou think to reap in another world that which 
thou didst not sow here ? Let us in this world stand for the glory of God, 
openly and boldly, and for the example of others, for the exercise of our 
own graces. A true Christian hath his conversation in ' sincerity in this 
world;' the more blame to the world then to deprave their dealing! Why? 
Because they are lights in the world, and they serve the world to good pur- 
pose, if the world would take benefit by them. They shine in the world to 
lead them the way to heaven. But the world is willing to let them go to 
heaven alone if they will. 

But if the carriage of God's children be like St Paul's, as it is true, for 
they are all of one disposition, they ' converse in simplicity and sincerity 
wheresoever they are,' wicked, slanderous, malicious, depraving persons 
are to blame, that lay to their charge hypocrisy, and this and that, when it 
is nothing so. They deserve well of the wicked unthankful world, and God 
upholds the world for their sakes. ' When the righteous are exalted, the 
city rcjoiceth,' saith Solomon, Prov. xi. 10. Because wheresoever they live, 
they live not only in simplicity and sincerity, but they live fruitfully. The 
city, the whole community, all the people are the better. They make the 
times and the places the better wherein they live, because a good man is a 
public good. The Spirit of God, when it makes a good man, it puts him 
out of himself, and gives him a public aflection. It teacheth him to deny 
himself. It teacheth him to love others. It teacheth him to employ and 
improve all that is in him, that is good, for the service of God and of men; 
to serve God in serving men in the place he lives in. Therefore malicious 
and devilish is the world to deprave such kind of men as live in the world 
in simplicity and sincerity, that serve God and the world by all the means 
* That is, 'no-faith's,'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 259 

they can. ' Our conversation hath been in simpUcity and sincerity in the 
world.' 

* But more abundantly to yoii-ivard.' Why ? Was it in hypocrisy to 
others, and in sincerity to them only ? No ; that is not the meaning. 
But thus, that wheresoever he had lived in the world, in what estate soever 
he was, he carried himself in ' simplicity and sincerity ; ' but to you I have 
made it more evident than to any other. Why ? Because he had lived 
longer with them ; and they were such as he was a Father unto in Christ. 
Therefore, saith he, I have evidenced my ' simplicity and sincerity more 
abundantly to you than to any other.' Whence we may obseiwe, that 

Obs. A sincere Christian is best where he is best known. 

It is a note of a truly good and sincere man to be best where he is best 
known, as I touched when I opened the words. It is othenvise with many. 
Their carriage abroad is very plausible ; but follow them home : what are 
they in their familes ? They are lions in their houses. What are they in 
their retired courses and carriage ? They do not answer the expectation 
that is raised of them abroad. They never pray to God, &c. Those that 
know them best will trust them least. It is not so with a Christian. My 
conversation in the world uath been good wheresoever it hath been. But 
among you, with whom I have conversed more familiarly, who have seen 
my daily carriage and course of life, among you my conversation was best 
of all. It is a note of a man that is sincere, that the more he is seen 
into, the more he shines. The godly are substantially good, and therefore 
where they are best known, they are best approved. 

For Christians they are not painted creatures, that a little discovery will 
search them to the bottom, and then shame them. They are not gilded, 
but gold ; and therefore the more you enter into them, the more metal you 
shall find still. They have a hidden treasury. The more you search them, 
the more stuif you shall have still. Their tongues are as ' fined silver,' and 
their heart is a rich treasury within them. A Christian he labours for a 
broken heart still. He labours to get new grace, and new knowledge of 
the word of God still ; and the more you converse with him, the more you 
see him, the more you shall approve and love him, if you be good as he 
is. Therefore saith the apostle, I have carried myself well to all, but 
especially to you with whom I have lived longer. 

Use. Therefore, as we would have an evidence of our sincerity, which is 
the best evidence that we can have in this world, that we may be able to 
say that we are sinc^^'e and true Christians, which is better than if a man 
could say he were a monarch, that he were the greatest man in the world, 
let us labour to carry ourselves in our courses to those that knoiv lis best, and 
in our most retired courses, like to Christians. And not to put on the 
fashion of religion, as men put on their garments : their best gannents, 
when they go abroad, and so to make good things serviceable to our 
purpose. But to be so indeed at home amongst our friends, among those 
that know us, when we are not awed, as there is a great deal of liberty 
amongst fi'iends. Wheresoever we are, let us remember we are alway in 
the eye of God ; and labour to approve ourselves most to them that know 
our com-ses most. 

God knows more than men, therefore let us chiefly labour to approve 
ourselves to him. And next to God, let us approve ourselves to conscience. 
Fear conscience more than all the monarchs in the world ; because that 
knows most, and will be most against us. 



2G0 COMMENTARY ON 

And then again, for others that know our convcrfsations, good men that 
converse with us, let us approve ourselves to them most that have the best 
and the sharpest judgments, 

A true Christian, as he loves goodness, so he loves it most that it should 
be in his own heart. He lives more to God and to conscience, than to 
fame and report. He had rather be than seem to be. And as he hates all 
ill, so he hates even secret ill. The nearer corruption is, the more he 
hates it, as a man hates toads and venomous creatures ; and the nearer 
they are, the more he hates them. The most retired carriage of a Chi'is- 
tian is most holy, and best of all. 

Again, where he saith, ' My conversation hath been in simplicity, &c., to 
you-ward,' here is a good note for preachers, that if they look to convert 
any by their doctrine, they must win them by their conversation likewise 
in simplicity and sincerity. St Paul being to gain the Philippians to 
Christ, he doth it not by words only, by arguments of logic, and by persua- 
sions only, to convince the understandiag of the truth of that which he 
taught ; but he demonstrates to them how they should live. ' Walk as you 
have me for an ensample,' Philip, iii. 17. I shew you that that which I teach 
is possible, by my practice. I shew to high and low, how I carry myself. 
* My conversation hath been in simplicity and sincerity.' Those that I 
would convert by my doctrine, I labour by my conversation to gain 
them. So I say, ministers have here a special direction how to carry 
themselves. 

And others likewise that have a gaining disposition, as indeed we should 
not stand upon terms of this.,and that, but every one labour to gain others. 
Would you work upon others, and gain them from popery, &c. ? Then 
not only shew them arguments to convince their judgments, which must 
be done, that is certain ; but likewise let them see that the things that you 
speak are possible things, things that you are persuaded of. And if you 
be not good, and press them to goodness, j'ou cannot persuade them of the 
truth of that you speak. They will think it is not possible ; for then you 
would act it yourselves. But when they see one go before them, and 
demonstrate it to their eyes, how they should carry themselves, this is 
the way to teach them to be sound Christians indeed. But I hasten to the 
negative part. 

' Not in fleshly wisdom,'' dx. Here is a secret wipe, a secret taxing of 
the false apostles and teachers. ' My conversation hath been in simplicity 
and sincerity,' whatsoever you think of me. ' Not in fleshly wisdom,' as 
theirs is. 

' Not in fleshly wisdom.' To distinguish it a little. 

1. There is a natural wisdom planted in the soul of man, even as there 
is a natural light in the eye, to see both things that are hurtful, and that 
are good, for the outward man. So in the soul of man, which is his eye, 
there is an inbred light of natural wisdom, a common light to discern of 
things and of creatures ; a natural kind of wisdom, which may be polished 
and advanced to a higher degree by experience and art. As the eye of the 
body, it sees better when it is helped with an outward, with a foreign light. 
This is natural wisdom. 

2. There is likewise a politic or civil wisdom, gotten by observation, and 
increased by observation ; and withal, it is a gift of God, though it be a 
common gift, as Ahithophel's. It was not merely carnal wisdom that was 
in him, but he had a gift of policy. So some men, though they be not 



2 COKINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEK. 12. 261 

truly religious, yet God gives them a gift of politic wisdom, to be able to 
discern the difference of things, to lay states and commonwealths together, 
to be able to judge, and resolve, and to execute wisely, and politically, and 
prudently. It is an especial gift of God. This the apostle doth not aim 
at ; neither natural nor civil wisdom, though it be a gift of God, I say, 
which is increased by observation and by other means. 

3. Besides this, there is a spiritual, a heavenhj wisdom, whereby the soul 
having a right end and aim set and prefixed to it, it directs all its courses 
to that end ; whereby the soul is able to deliberate, to consult, and to 
resolve on heavenly things, and what hinders heavenly comfort ; and to 
resolve upon good duties, and to resolve against that which is ill, to resolve 
upon all advantages of doing good to the church, and of all hindrances 
of ourselves, and of the church, and of the places we live in. It is a 
heavenly kind of prudence to guide our own ways, yea, and to guide 
others too. 

4. But besides all these, there is another wisdom which is here the 
* wisdom of the Jiesh ; ' which because the flesh hath correspondency with 
Satan, it is also a devilish wisdom, for the most part. For the devil ploughs 
with our heifer. The most mischief that he hath done in the world, it is 
by the correspondency that he hath with our flesh, our enemy within. The 
flesh and Satan do join together, and work all strongly with the mis- 
chievous policy of the world : and therefore it is called likewise ' worldly 
wisdom.' 

And hereupon Christians that are mere professors, and not Christians 
soundly, some are called flesh, because they are ruled of the flesh. And 
they are called the world, because they frame themselves to the wisdom 
and to the courses of the world. And if you would anatomize them, there 
is nothing but the world in them, worldly pride and worldly ends. And 
they are called devils too, as Judas was called a devil, John vi. 70. They 
plot with Satan by carnal wisdom. They yield to Satan. They savour 
not the things of God, 

Men have their name and denomination in the Scripture, by that which 
they are ruled by. When they are ruled by the flesh, they are cafled flesh ; 
when they are ruled by the world and the evil examples thereof, they are 
called the world. And when they are ruled by Satan, so far as they 
are ruled by him, they are called Satan. * One of you is a devil,' saith 
Christ. 

* Not in fleshly wisdom.' What is meant here by ' fleshly wisdom ? ' 
If it be fleshly, why is it wisdom ? Wisdom is but one. There is but one 
wisdom. Wisdom we know, in itself, it is a knowledge of principles and 
grounds, and deductions and conclusions from principles. A wise man 
knows both the grounds and principles, and he knows what may be raised 
from thence ; and likewise a man that is truly wise, he not only knows them, 
but he knows how to act them, how to work and act his principles and 
conclusions to an end. He hath principles, and conclusions, and workings 
out of his brain ; and when he hath done all in the brain, when he hath 
framed the aim of his principles, and the manner how to act them, then be 
goes about to work ; and a wise man can work answerable to his end and 
rules. 

Now there is a carnal wisdom that initiated this ; for carnal wisdom 
hath aims, and ends, and principles, and it hath conclusions from those 
principles, and it acts to an end. A true Christian he hath his ends. His 



262 



COMMENTARY ON 



aim is supernatural : to please God in all things, to be happy in another 
world, to enjoy God, to have nearer acquaintance with him while he lives 
here. Many such subordinate ends, besides the main end, he hath. And 
some principles likewise he hath out of the word of God concerning this 
end ; and then he hath directions out of the word of God suitable to those 
principles. And then he sets on working, and all that he works is in order 
to his end, and in \drtue of the end he propounds. As a man that travels, 
every step that he goes in his journcj^ every step is in virtue and strength 
of his fu'st intention, and the end that he propounds, though he think not 
of his end in every step, and he consults and asks about the way, and all 
to that end. 

So it is with a carnal man too, he that walks after carnal wisdom. Carnal 
■ndsdom hath its end, and that is a man's self; for a carnal man himself is 
the idol, and the idolater. His end is himself, either in his honours, or in 
his pleasures, or riches, &c. Himself is the centre into which all the lines 
of his life fall. And he hath rules. Seek thyself in all things. Love 
thyself above all. And what then ? If thou love others, love them for 
thyself, as far as they may serve thy turn. Care for no man further than 
thou canst make use of him for thyself. Respect him so far, and no 
further. 

But it may be there are many that stand in the way. Then again he 
hath principles. Undermine them, ruin them, make way to thine own ends 
by the ruin of as many as thou canst. And if another man's light over- 
shine thine, that thou art nobody to him, carnal wisdom bids thee deprave 
him, slander him, backbite him. The more he seems to be vile, the less 
thy nakedness shall appear. Here is carnal wisdom. 

There is no envy in goodness, in strength and ability. They would have 
all to be so ; but baseness is joined with much envy. When it sees another 
overshadow it, it labours to eclipse him with slanders and base reports. 
This is a principle of carnal wisdom. And hence comes all that working 
and undermining, secret conveyances, and laying nets for others, as the 
prophet speaks. 

All carnal wisdom hath carnal ends, and carnal rules, and carnal courses 
answerable. It consults upon the attaining of its end. It deliberates and 
consults, and shrewdly too ; for it is whetted by Satan. And then it goes 
with the stream of the world, and therefore it is carried very strongly 
towards its end. And then it resolves strongly ; because fleshly wisdom 
usually is with the times. And then it executes. God sufiers it oft-times 
to come to execution, and to enjoy its plots and projects. And therefore 
in regard that it hath the same passages, though in a contrary kind, with 
other wisdom, it is called wisdom, though indeed it be not wisdom. And 
thereupon it hath a diminishing term here, it is ' fleshly wisdom.' 

Now this wisdom is called ' fleshly,' because it is led with reasons from 
the flesh, and it tends to the maintenance of the flesh. It comes from it, 
and it tends to it. 

I take not ' flesh ' here, for one part of a man, his body ; but for the 
unrcgenerate part, which is carried to changeable things, to the creature, 
and sets up some creature to be an idol, instead of the Creator, ' blessed 
for evermore.' 

And that from this reason, because the creature, the things below are near 
to us, and pleasant to us ; and because we are brought up in these deUghts 
of the creature that are sensible ; and therefore the flesh, the baser part, is 
ready to di-aw away the soul to the delights of it ; because the del]f;hts of 



2 COPJNXHIANS CHAP. I, YilR. 12. 263 

it are pleasant, and we are trained up in them from the beginning of our 
hfe to the end of it. Now these things below, the profits, and pleasures, 
and honoiTrs, they work first upon the senses, upon the outward man ; and 
from the senses they ascend to the fancy, and imagination, and that bemg 
carnal by nature esteems more highly of them than there is cause, and 
esteems of the contrary to these as the greatest ills. Oh ! poverty is worse 
than hell to a carnal man ! and he had rather be dead than be disgraced. 
He had rather damn his soul, than to be denied of his pleasure. Imagina- 
tion makes them such great things, and the devil helps imagmation. B.e 
hath much affinity with that part, with the imagination ; and imagination, 
when men have strong conceits of these things, that labours to draw the 
will and afi'ections to itself, to swaty that part. So that the will, the com- 
manding part of the soul, for the most part it yields to these imaginations 
of base things. It conceives of them highly, and the contrary to be vile 
and base. And hereupon the will comes to approve of these things, and 
to choose these thmgs ; yea, and the understanding part itself, that blessed 
spark of wisdom that is left in us, capable of better things, and fit for the 
image of God. Yet that, by our coiTuption, being stripped of the gi'ace it 
had in the creation, and now being under original corruption, being under 
the law of sin, it is led by a carnal will and imagination, and by sense, and 
is ruled by them. So that that which should rule all, is ruled by base, 
earthly things. 

The soul of man, while we live here, is between things better than itsell, 
and worse than itself, meaner than itself. Now by corruption it cleaves to 
things meaner than itself. It is witty to devise them. It is willing to choose 
them. It delights in them. It bathes itself in them. So that whereas it should 
rule the body, the body and the lower parts rule the soul. When it yields to 
that which is better than itself, to the sanctifymg Sphit of God, and to the word 
of God, and is clothed with the image of God, when it yields to better 
thmgs, then they raise it to a degree of excellency even above itself when it 
was at the best. For a man that is in Christ, that hath the image of Christ 
upon him, in some sort, is better than Adam was in innocency. His 
estate is more sm^e ; and the dignity he is advanced to by Christ is greater 
than he should have had if he had stood still in Adam. This is the condi- 
tion of the soul. An excellent creature, it is capable of the image and like- 
ness of Christ, and of God, capable of all grace. 

Again, if it submit itself to base creatures, it becomes even as them ; and 
therefore men are called ' the worid.' They are called ' flesh.' They are 
called after that which leads them. The very soul itself, as it were, is flesh, 
For, as the very body of a holy man in some sort is spirit ; and everything 
in him is spirit ; as it shall be at the day of judgment, as St Paul saith, 
' it shall be raised a spiritual body,' 1 Cor. xv. 44 ; because it shall be sub- 
ject to the motions of the Spirit of God in all things ; and it shall not be 
supported by bodily means. Now the very sonl is bodily and carnal. Such 
a degeneration is wrought in man since the fall. He makes his soul that 
was given to guide him in this worid, and which is made apprehensive of 
better things, of the things of another world. This soul he makes it the 
bawd to serve his base lusts and pleasures. 

' Not in fleshly wisdom.' Now wisdom is a middle word. It may be 
either spiritual or carnal, as the man is in whom it is. If a man have 
moral honesty in him, and good things in him that way, it makes him a 
good politician, a wise man, useful in his place. Though he be not a 
sound Christian, yet he may be a wise man in his place ; and God 



2o4: COJIMENTARY ON 

useth such kind of men in the ^vorld, and they have their reward here, they 
are advanced, &c. 

But if it is light in a devilish natui*e, in a crooked, oblique natui-e, then it 
is malicious, devilish wisdom. 

And, note this by the way. AU men that have flesh in them, have not 
fleshly wisdom ; for some are carried with the flesh, with the rage of fleshly 
lusts. As the swine in the gospel were carried headlong into the sea, they 
are carried by their lusts to hell, as your common swaggerers and roarers ; 
so that they may escape the danger of the laws, they care not for God nor 
man — uTcgular, wild persons. These have flesh, they are ruled by the flesh, 
but they have not so much as ' fleshly wisdom ;' for they take courses to 
overthrow themselves in the world, to overthrow their names, and their 
bodies and all. They have not so much as policy in them, their lusts so 
reign in them. Siach wretches we have ofttimes amongst us, that think 
themselves somebody, but they have not so much as carnal wisdom in them 
to cari-y themselves better than a devil. 

Now, in other men the flesh hath a wisdom that carries them not after 
this fashion ; but it whets their wits, and they are as bad in another kind. 
As, take the same man, when he is young he is carried by his brutish lusts, 
without any wisdom at all, even as the hurry of his lusts carry him, and 
transport him : when he grows old he is carried subtlely with the wisdom 
of the world. He is alway under lusts, alway under the flesh. When he 
is young he is carried with base lusts ; and when he is old he is under the 
flesh, and fleshly wisdom still. He is earned with slavish covetousness 
to the world, as formerly he was subject to base lusts in his youth. All 
this is naught. 

"VATaere these difi"er in the subject, in the person, usually the base lust 
serves the witty. Those that are carried with base lusts, they are subject, 
and enthralled, and overruled by those that are carried with the wisdom of 
the flesh. As your subtle men, your usurers, and subtle oppressors, great 
witty men, they make other men serviceable to their turn. Other men are 
slaves to them. 

But to come nearer that that I mean to stand on. 

' My conversation hath not been in fleshly wisdom.' You may see 
by the coherence, which I will not dwell on, what to judge of * fleshly 
wisdom.' 

Ohserv. Fleshly wisdom is, where tlxere is no simplicity nor sincerity: be- 
cause he opposeth them here. Where * fleshly wisdom' is, there is neither 
' simplicity' nor ' sincerity.' For take a subtle wise man, he is all outside, 
and there is no simplicity in him. He that is not wise to God, but to the 
world, he wraps himself in ceremonies in matters of religion, and studies 
the outside of things to approve himself to the world, and to attain his own 
ends ; but there is no simplicity or sincerity. He that is wise to the world 
hath no respect to God. 

Sincerity hath an eye to God ; and a sincere man, as f^ir as he is sin- 
cere, hath an eye to God, and he doth this and that because God seeth him, 
and because God is pleased with it ; but he that works according to fleshly 
wisdom, he hath aims contrary and distinct to that. Therefore the apostle 
saith, ' We walk in the sincerity of God' (as it is in the original*), ' and 
not according to fleshly wisdom.' 

So you may know from the opposition, that fleshly wisdom is where 
there is no sincerity. Whei-e there is no love to God or to men, there is 
* That is, ' iiXiKotviia Qiov.' — G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 265 

no simplicity, all is for show ; and where there is all for show, there is 
double carriage, not in simplicity aiming at God's gloiy. There is ' fleshly 
wisdom.' That for the connection. 

But the point of doctrine proper to the place is this, that 

Doctrine. God's children have another manner of ride to live by than the 
world: the nde that a godhj ivise man goeth by, is not Jleshly wisdom. 

A man that looks for any joy, that looks to be in the blessed estate that 
St Paul here was in, he must not be ruled by fleshly Avisdom. ' Our conver- 
sation,' saith he, ' in the world hath not been in fleshly wisdom.' St Paul, 
no question but he had flesh in him, and likewise he had ' fleshly wisdom :' 
because flesh is in all parts, and it mingles itself with all graces. In the 
understanding there is light and darkness ; in the will there is rebellion 
and pliableness to God. So St Paul had the stirrings of fleshly wisdom in 
him. When he was in danger, no doubt but the flesh would stir in him, 
you may avoid it by shifts if you will. And when he was before great ones, 
you may flatter and betray the truth if you will. 

No doubt but St Paul, as he expressed himself, Rom. viii., as he had 
a conflict in himself in other regards : so there was a conflict between wis- 
dom and wisdom. The wisdom of the flesh did stir against the wisdom 
of the spirit. Aye, but it is one thing to have fleshly wisdom in us, 
and it is another thing to make it our rule. It is one thing to have 
flesh in us, and another thing to ' be in the flesh,' as the Scripture 
phrase is.* This conflict wondi'ously afilicted St Paul. No doubt but it 
was one sharp conflict. 

No question but carnal wisdom set St Paul to shift for himself many 
times ; but by the power of the Spirit he checked it and kept it under. It 
was not his rule. 

Now, the reasons of this doctrine, that the godly guide not themselves 
by fleshly wisdom, which hath worldly aims, and carnal means to bring 
those aims to pass, they are. 

Reason 1. First, because God's children tt'iZZ 7iot cherish that in them, and 
make that their ride, which is contrary to God, which is enmity to God. But 
this carnal wisdom, which prowls for the world, and looks for ease, and 
profit, and pleasure, it is ' enmity to God,' Rom. viii. 6-8. The apostle 
proves it at large. They being subject to God, children of God, being 
under him in all kind of subjection, as servants, as children, as spouses, they 
will not cherish that which is rebellion to God, which is not subject to 
God, neither can be. As we may say, a papist that is jesuited, he is 
neither a good subject, nor can be ; so the wisdom of the flesh, neither is 
it subject to God, nor can be subject. In the nature of it, it is rebellion. 
It is God's enemy ; it withstands all the articles that he hath given us to 
believe. Fleshly wisdom hath some opposition against all truth. It op- 
poseth every command that God gives us to obey. There is something in 
flesh and blood to withstand every command. It is the greatest enemy that 
God hath. 

2. And as it is an enemy to God, so it is to us. It is contrary to our 
good. It is death, ' the wisdom of the flesh,' Rom. viii. 4. Saith the apostle, 
Rom. vii. 8, ' The flesh deceived me and slew me.' There is no wise man 
will cherish that which is death, and which is God's enemy, and his own 
too. The wisdom of the flesh, as it is opposite to God's Spirit, a rebel 
and an enemy to him, so it is death to a Christian, and therefore he will 
not frame his course of hfe by it. 

« Cf . 2 Cor. xii. 7 ; Gal. ii. 20 ; Philip, i. 22.— G, 



2G6 coMMENTAny on 

It brings us to eternal death, it betraj's us to Satan. Sampson could have 
had no harm had not DeUlah betrayed him ; so the devil could not hurt us 
unless it were for fleshly wisdom. The devil is not such an enemy to a 
man as his own fleshly wisdom. 

Reason 2. Again, a Christian knows, that as it is contrary to God and 
contrary to his good, so it is base and unworthy, as ivell as dangerous. It is 
base and unworthy for a Christian, that is an heir of heaven, that is raised 
to be a child of God, to abase his wits, to prowl for the world. How base 
and unworthy is it for him to seek the things below, that is bom again ' to 
an inheritance, immortal and undefiled, that is reserved for him in heaven ?' 
1 Pet. i. 4. 

How unworthy is it for him that hath his understanding and all his in- 
ward parts and powers dedicated and consecrated to God, to make his 
understanding a bawd for the base purposes of the flesh ! The high in- 
dignity of the thing makes the child of God ashamed to be ruled by the 
flesh, to prostitute the strength of his soul to the flesh ; to make his soul, 
that should carry the image of God, to carry the image of the devil ; to make 
his wit and understanding a bawd to accomplish earthly things, which God 
hath sanctified to attain grace and comfort in this world, and to live as a 
Christian should do, that he may die with comfort, and enjoy heaven. 

Reason 3. Again, God's children will not be ruled by that which they 
should mortify and subdue. But this wisdom of the flesh is the object of 
mortification. They are redeemed from it. 

A Christian, as he is redeemed from hell and damnation, so he is re- 
deemed from himself. He is redeemed and set at liberty from the slaverj' 
of his soul to Satan, to the world, and worldly projects. He is redeemed 
from the base conversation he was in before. What hath he to do to be 
ruled by him from whom he is redeemed ? These things might be ampli- 
fied at large ; but you see the truth evident, what ground a Christian hath 
not to be niled by fleshly wisdom. 

Reason 4. But to make it a little clearer. A Christian hath no reason to 
be ruled by earthly wisdom, for the yielding to it doth all the mischief in the 
world. It is the cause of all the misery in the world, unto Christians espe- 
cially. God catcheth ' the wise in their own craftiness,' Job v. 13, though 
they be politic and wise. Especially if a Christian give way to carnal 
politic wisdom, God will universally shame him. I never knew a Christian 
thrive in politic courses. When he hath secret conveyances for the world, 
God crosseth him every way, in his reputation, in his projects, and 
purposes. 

But consider, to amplify that which I gave in a branch before, what 
reason hath a Chi-istian to be ruled by * fleshly wisdom,' when it hinders 
him from all that is good, if he yield unto it, and keeps him in imperfect 
good ? 

I speak especially now to those that are not in the state of gi'ace. What 
reason hath any one of you to be ruled by fleshly wisdom, when it keeps 
you in the state of unregeneracy ? It keeps you perhaps in some good, 
but it is imperfect good. You think you are good enough, and that all 
is sure, and God will be merciful, &c., whenas a reprobate may go be- 
yond you. 

It hinders from good actions with pretences, for fleshly wisdom will tell 
us there will be danger, you shall be reproached if you do this and that, 
you shall be accounted thus and thus, and run into obloquy. 

It hinders from doing good. * There is a lion in the way,' Prov. xxvi. 13. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 267 

It forecasts this and that danger. It keeps us in imperfect good that will 
never save us. It objects dangers. The sluggard that will not set on his 
spirit to labour, he thinks himself wondrous wise in forecasting dangers. 
Oh, I shall want myself, &c. 

It dulls and distracts us in good. He that hath a carnal protecting head, 
it eats up his soul, that when he comes to pray, or to bear, or to meddle 
with spiritual matters, the marrow and strength of his soul is eaten up with 
carnal projects, and he doth things by halves. 

Nay, carnal wisdom, as far as it is in us unmortified, it sets itself against 
good by depraving good, that we may seem to be mischievous, and ill, and 
wicked with reason. Men are loath to go to hell without reason. There 
was none that ever went to hell yet without wisdom, a great deal of wisdom. 
And how doth their wisdom bring them to hell ? As in other respects, 
which I named before, so in this ; it whets the poisonfulness of their nature 
to invent and to raise scandals, or to be willing to take scandals when they 
are offered. 

A carnal wise man, when he knows that such a degree of religion is con- 
trary to his carnal projects, he fasteneth all the disgrace on it that he can, 
that he may be the less observed. Religious he would be, but with a limi- 
tation, with a reservation and restraint, as far as may stand with his carnal 
projects and purposes ; and so much religion as goes beyond that, and dis- 
covers him to be false and halting, so much he opposeth. The wisdom of 
the flesh is bitter and sharp against all the opposers of it, and stirs the 
cursed nature of man to the opposing of that which is contrary to it. 

Take a carnal man, either in magistracy or ministry, if he be not humbled 
with pains in his calling and with the word that he teacheth, what doth he 
most hate in the world ? What doth he oppose ? Is there anything but 
saving grace ? Is there anything but that which God loves most, and which 
is best for his soul, that is the object of his spite and of his poison and 
malice ? 

To be led by this is even as if a man should be led by a pirate, by a 
thief, by an enemy. And what can become of that man, to be led ' as the 
fool to the stocks,' as Solomon saith, Prov. vii. 22. He is in the way of 
death. * There is a way that seemeth good to a man in his own eyes, but 
the issues of it are death,' saith Solomon, Prov. xiv. 12; and that is the 
way that carnal wisdom dictates to men. 

It hinders also from the reforming of ill. Policy overthrows policy, as 
we say. Policy overthrows commonwealths. Tell a man that is in place, 
You ought to reform this abuse and that abuse. He is ready to think. Oh, 
if I be not wary, others will inquire into my life too, and find me out. 

So this cursed policy, this carnal wisdom, it makes men unfruitful in 
their places, by forecasting dangers ; and so it hinders from doing good, 
and from reforming gross abominations and abuses. 

So it hinders from suffering when God calls to it. It forecasts : if you 
be religious, you must suffer, it will bring your good name in question, it 
will bring your life in question, it will hazard your estate. Whereas, in- 
deed, all the world is not worth the truth of God ; and a man loves not his 
life that will not hate it in such a case ; if it come to case of confession, and 
standing for the truth in a good quarrel. 

But here fleshly wisdom objects this and that danger ; as we see in Spira 
and others. And thus man, yielding to fleshly wisdom, he grows desperate 
at length (qq). 

There are two men in a man, as it were. There is the flesh and the 



268 



COMMENTARY OX 



spirit. The flesli saith as Job's wife said, ' Curse God and die,' or ' Bless 
God and die,' read it -whether you will (/v). There is the murmuring 
part in the cross that bids us curse God ; and as Peter said unto Christ, 
* Oh ! save yourselves, this shall not bef'al you,' Mat. xvi. 22 ; pity yourself, 
have regard of yourself.* The flesh when we are to sutler saith as Eve to 
Adam, as Job's wife to him, or as Peter to Christ, Oh spare yourself, be 
wise, be wise. And to colour the matter the more, there must be a pre- 
tence of -v^-isdom ; whenas it is the greatest folly in the world to redeem any 
earthly commodity, even life itself, with the cracking of conscience, with the 
breach of that ' petice which passeth understanding,' Philip, iv. 7, and per- 
haps with the loss of our souls. It is the greatest folly in the world ; it is 
to be penny wise and pound foolish. So we see whensoever we are about 
to suffer, carnal wisdom hinders ns. As it hindei-s us from good, and in 
good, and hinders us from reforming evil ; and in suffering when we are 
called to it. So it provokes us to evil. And that we may SAvallow down 
the evil with the gi-eater pleasure, and more deeply, it colours ill with good. 
We may thank this' politic carnal wisdom, that truth and goodness ever 
goes with a scratched face, that it goes under disgrace, that it goes in a 
contrary habit; and that hypocrisy goes in its ruff, in its colours. I say 
we may thank carnal wisdom ; for if truth were presented in its own view, 
it would stir up approbation from all. And if men could see vice and 
wickedness uncased, if they could see it in its own hue, they would all de- 
test it. Carnal wisdom sees that this is not for the advancrug of the pro- 
jects it hath, and therefore it disgraceth that which is good, and sets false 
colom'S on that which is ill. 

I say, it stirs up to ill, and it keeps us in ill. Carnal wisdom saith, You 
may do this, you may continue thus long. It deceives us with vain hopes 
of long life. 

I might enlarge the point. You see then what reason God's children 
have, not to be ruled by fleshly carnal wisdom. 

By the way, let me give tliis caution, that oftentimes that is accounted 
carnal irisdom that is not. The weaker sort, they are to blame ofttimes to 
lay imputations upon those that God hath given greater gifts to ; and they 
account that carnal wisdom that is not so, but is spiritual prudence. I 
must needs add that caution by the way. As for a man to keep his mind, 
and not to speak against evil in all places. ' The prudent man shall keep 
silent,' saith the prophet, Prov. xii. 23. The times and the place may be 
such, that the prudent man may keep silence. It is best to do so. 

And likewise to be cautelous to prevent danger so far as it may be with- 
out breach of a good conscience. St Paul, you know, when he was called 
before the Sadducees and the Pharisees, he escaped by a shift.* It was not 
a sinful shift. He said he was a Pharisee, and so he set them together, and 
they falling into contention, St Paul in the mean time escaped, Acts xxiii, 
7. Many things might be done, if we would take hoed of carnal wisdom, 
and that with a great deal of wisdom and approbation too. 

Jeroboam might have settled his kingdom, and yet he need not have set 
up the two calves in that cursed poUcy. It was foretold that he should 
have those tribes, but he would be wiser than God, and he would devise a 
way of his own, 2 Chron. xiii. 8, et alibi. 

David might have escaped from Achish the king of Gath. He need not 
have made himself a fool. Ahithophel might have provided well for 
himself under David his old master. He need not have proved a rebel. 
* See Note^, vol. II., p. 191. — G. t That is, ' expedient.'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 2G9 

There is nothing; that carnal wisdom doth, but heavenly wisdom will do it 
better if men conld light on it ; and God would give them better success in 
their carnage. But there is a way for heavenly prudence, I say, and that 
must not be accounted carnal wisdom. 

It is for want of tlis that people are too credulous. Gedaliah, he trusted 
too much, he was tco era lulous to trust. Considering that men are subject 
to infirmities, and sv.bject to falseness, it is good to be doubtful, to be sus- 
picious sometimes; find it is no carnal wisdom neither. The very loadstone 
of a lie is credulity. What emboldens people to deal falsely with men ? 
They know them to be credulous and weak. They will believe anything. 

But for the most part the error is on the contrary, over-much jealousy. 
Your carnal politicians are over-jealous. Jealousy is good, suspicion is 
good, considering that we live in a false world ; but not to be over-jealous. 
We see Herod, he thought. Oh ! Christ is born ; and out of jealousy he kills 
a number of poor infants, and his own among the rest. Alas ! * Christ 
came not to take away his kingdom, but to give a heavenly kingdom. So 
the Jews they were very jealous that if Christ were not condemned, the 
Romans would come and take away their kingdom, John xi. 48 ; but that 
which wicked men fear, out of such jealousy, shall come upon them. And 
so the subtlest and most devilish men in late times, that grounded the 
persecution of the poor Protestants, upon jealousy, absurd jealousy; for 
they, by the rules of their religion, walk in sincerity. It ties them from 
plotting. And yet out of fear and jealousy, they exercised a world of cruelty 
against them. 

And if any man shall but consider and read Stephen Gardiner's letters 
(a man of a devilish jealousy), to see out of his wit he projected what hurt 
would come by suffering the gospel to remain, it will seem strange (ss). 
Alas, poor man ! the commonwealths beyond the seas and our own nation 
never prospered better than by entertaining the gospel. Yet this devilish- 
witted man, whose wit was set and sharpened by the devil, was in fear and 
jealousy of the gospel. And God usually punisheth it this way, that those 
subtle heads that are jealous of those that mean them no harm, but all the 
good that may be, usually, they are over-credulous in another kind. They 
trust those that deceive their trust, they trust those that the weakest, the 
very dregs of the people, will not trust, they trust those that are notoriously 
false. God strikes their brains and besots them, that they trust men that 
all the world know to be miderminers ; notwithstanding where they should 
trust, and cast themselves into the bosom of their true-hearted friends, there 
they are aU full of fear and jealousy. But this caution by the way. 

You see the thing proved, that godly men when they give their names 
to God, they ought to be ruled by God, and not by carnal policy or fleshly 
wisdom. You see the reasons of it. 

Use 1. The use that we will make of it shall be to stir ns up to imitation of 
the blessed apostle St Paul. I speak to them that their breeding and parts 
have raised many of them I hope from base filthy lusts ; so that the danger 
is now of ' fleshly wisdom.' The devil is more in the brain than in the 
heart, as he said of a cursed politician. Many men have the devil in their 
head. He is not altogether in the heart and afi'ections, but in the brain ; 
and there he works his engines. And politic subtle men, they are the great 
engineers of Satan ; and that which he cannot do by himself, he doth it 
by them. 

Therefore, I beseech you, let us not be instrumental to Satan, who was 
* See Note p. 159.— G. 



270 COM.MENTAEY ON 

the first author of this carnal wisdom ; for by his temptation we offended 
God, and then came all shifts upon it. You see what shifts came presently 
upon Satan's temptation. 

Man did natm\ally aifect wisdom ; to know good and evil. What wisdom 
did he get after he had ftxllen ? He had wisdom to flee from God. There 
was his wisdom, to run from God. So all the wisdom of a man that hath 
not grace, it is to shift, to run away from God, and to have helps and supports 
against God. A foolish thing it is, as if he could do it ! And then, an- 
other shift of Adam was, to cover himself with fig-leaves, a silly shift. 
And then to translate his fault upon another. So, this shifting of carnal 
wit it came presently upon the fall. Take heed, therefore, of carnal wisdom ; 
it is devUish : presently upon yielding to the temptation of the devil it 
came in. 

And that you may not make it your rule, and Uve by carnal wisdom, con- 
sider seriously what I said before, how it hinders you from all that is good ; 
how it hinders you from reforming that which is ill in your places and call- 
ings ; how it stirs up to all that is ill ; how it stirs you up to cover ill. 
It teaches you wit to do ill, and to cover ill when it is done. As we see in 
David's adultery, what a deal of wit there was to practise it. And then 
what a many windings and turnings there were to cover it. But God laid 
him open, and brought him to shame in this world, being a good man. 

And as I said, who will be ruled by his enemy ? If a man be on the 
land, and be ruled by a thief that will lead him out of his way, it is ex- 
tremity of sottishness. Or if he be on the sea, and be guided by a pirate, 
what good can come to that man that is ruled by those that seek his ruin ? 
Now if a man be ruled by carnal wisdom, he is ruled by his enemy ; and if 
all the enemies in the world should plot to do a man that mischief that his 
own head and carnal wit doth him, he would cry out of them. In Isa. 
xlvii. 10,* ' Thy wisdom hath made thee to rebel.' It is wisdom that makes 
men to rebel against God. Too much trusting to tricks and shifts of carnal 
wisdom, it makes men take contrary courses to God, and so provoke him. 
' Are we wiser than he ? are we stronger than he ?' 1 Engs xx. 23, 25. 
Doth he not daily and continually make those the buttsf of his displeasure 
and wrath, that adventure their wisdom and policy against his wisdom ? 
Yes, surely ! God delights to catch the wise in their own craftiness ; he 
delights to overturn the builders of Babel. It is but a building of Babel to 
rear anything by politic wisdom, contrary to the rules of religion, and con- 
trary to the practice of piety. To do anything against conscience and 
honesty ; to do anything against the truth by politic shifts, it is to build a 
Babel that will fall upon our own heads. It is like the foolish fire that 
leads a man out of his way.| This foolish fixe of carnal wisdom, it leads 
men to hellish strength : it makes them forsake God's light, and the light 
of his Spirit and word, and follow a false light of their own imagination 
and invention. And therefore you see what the prophet Isaiah saith of 
the people that were in those times, Isa. 1. 11, that did much plod in tricks 
of policy, ' Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about 
with sparks : walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have 
kindled : this ye shall have of my hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow.' So, 
consider this, it falls out ofttimes, that God sufiers a man to walk in the 
light of his own fire that he hath kindled, and in his own comforts. He 
wiU have comforts, and a distinct way from God's ways ; and he will 

* Misprintel ' JorPTni'ih.' — G. ;t That is, the lynisfa'uus. — G. 

t That is, ' marks.'— G. 



2 CORINTHIANS CHAP. 1, VliR. 12. 271 

have distinct rules from God's rule. Well, well ! you liave kindled a 
fire ; walk in the light of your own fire, but be sure you shall he down 
in sorrow. 

It is the greatest judgment that God can shew in this world, to give us 
up to our own wits, to our own devices ; for we shall wind, and tui*n, and 
work our own ruin. And that is the hell of hell in hell, when the soul 
there shall think with itself, I brought myself hither. God will be exceed- 
ingly justified when men by their own wit shall damn themselves ; when 
God hath revealed to man, and taught them, this is the way, ' man, I 
have shewed thee what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee,' 
Deut. X. 12. He hath revealed it in his word, do this and do that, and he 
hath given conscience to help ; and yet out of policy to contrive thy own 
pleasures, and profits, and advantages in the world, thou hast done the 
contrary. When a man's soul shall reason thus. My own wit brought me 
hither ; I am damned by wit, I am damned by policy. A poor poHcy it is 
that brings a man to damnation ! 

Therefore we should beg of God above all things, that he would not 
deliver us up to ourselves. As St Austin hath a good speech, ' Lord, free 
me from myself, from my own devices and policy' (tt). The devil himself 
is not such an enemy, as I said, as our own carnal wit; for it is that that 
betrays us to Satan. Satan could do us no harm unless he had a friend 
within us. Therefore beg of God above all things. Lord, give me not up 
to my own brain, to my own devices (for man is a beast by his own know- 
ledge) ; but let thy wisdom and thy will be my rule. 

Use 2. Again, if so be that we ought not to make this carnal, fleshly 
wisdom the rule of our life, then let us have a ner/atlve voice ready present! ij 
for it. Whensoever we find any carnal suggestion in our hearts, say nay 
to it presently, deny it presently, have a jealousy presently. When any 
plot ariseth that is not warrantable by the word of God, and that is con- 
trary to conscience and to simplicity and sincerity, presently deny it ; con- 
sult not with flesh and blood, as St Paul saith of himself, ' I consulted not 
with flesh and blood,' Gal. i. 16. 

And when you have anjiihing to do, considering that this is not the rule 
you are to live by, or when you have anything to resist, when you have 
anything to sufler, consider what God requires ; consider what is for the 
peace of conscience ; consider what is for the good of yourselves, and for 
the good of the church ; consult with these advisers, with these intelH- 
gencers, and not with flesh and blood. Consider not what is for your profit, 
for your pleasure, for your ease ; but resolve against them. Get the truth 
of God so planted in your hearts that it may carry you through all these 
impediments, and all these suggestions whatsoever. 

Use 3. And because we cannot do this without a change, we cannot have 
a disposition contrary to carnal wisdom without a change (for except a man 
be born anew, except he be a new creature, he cannot have holy aims), 
you must labour therefore more and more to have the spirit of your mind 
renewed, and to grow in assurance of a better estate. For what makes men 
carnally to project for this world ? They are not sure of a better. They 
reason thus with themselves : It may be I may have heaven, it may be not. 
I am sure of the pleasures present, of the profits present, although, alas ! 
it be but for a short time. Whereas, if thy soul were enlightened with 
heavenly light, and thou wert convinced of the excellent estate of God's 
children in this world in the state of grace, that a Christian is incomparably 
above all men in the fii-st-fruits of heaven, in the peace of conscience, and 



'li'A COMMENTARY OX 

'joy in the Holy Ghost,' Rom. xiv. 17, which is ahove all prosperity, and 
all profit whatsoever ; and that in heaven, which is above our capacity and 
reach, every way they shall be happy. If men were convinced of this, 
certainly they would not prostitute their pates to work so worldlily. If they 
were sure of heaven, they would not so plod for the earth. 

Let us therefore labour to grow daily in the assm'ance of salvation ; beg 
of God his Spirit to have your minds enlightened. 

Use 4. And withal, to join both together, to see the ranity of all earthly 
things, tchich set carnal wisdoii on work. For, first, outward things they 
work upon the sense, upon the outward man. Profits and pleasures are out- 
ward things, and therefore the}^ work upon sense, they work upon opinion. 
In opinion they be so, as indeed worldly things are more in opinion than in 
truth. A carnal wordly man, he thinks poverty a hell, he thinks it is such 
a misery. It is not so. 

Labour to have a right judgment of the things of the earth, that set carnal 
wisdom on work, to avoid poverty, to avoid suftering for a good cause. 
The devil inflames fancy. Fancy thinks it is a great hurt to be in poverty ; 
fancy thinks it is a great good to be in honour, to be in credit, to have great 
place, that other men may be beholden to us. Alas ! get a sanctified judg- 
ment to see what these things be that set our wits on work. What are all 
these things ? ' Vanity, and vexation of spirit,' 

Let our meditations walk between these two. Often think of the excel- 
lent estate of a Christian in this world, and in the world to come ; and that 
will set heavenly wisdom on work. It will make you plot, and be politic 
for heaven. And then withal see the vanity of all other things, of pleasures, 
and honours, and profits, and whatsoever, that we may not prostitute our 
souls to them which are worse than ourselves ; that our souls may not set 
themselves on work to project and prowl for these things that are worse 
than themselves. 

Let this be your daily practice. The meditation of these two things is 
worthy to take up your cogitations every day. To consider the vanity, the 
vexation, and uncertainty that accompanies all these things, when you have 
got them ; as we see in Ahab, when he had gotten the vineyard. Besides 
the vanity of them, consider how you have gotten them, and how miserable 
will you judge yourselves presently ! How doth God meet the carnal wits 
of men in the attaining of things ! ' The wicked man shall not roast that 
which he took in hunting,' Prov. xii, 27. He hunted after preferment, he 
hunted after riches, to scrape a great deal for his posterity ; how doth God 
deal with such ? He overthrows them utterly ; and his posterity, perhaps 
they spoil all. Himself roasted not that which he took in hunting. Ahab 
got much by yielding to the carnal wisdom of Jezebel, ' Hast thou gotten, 
and also taken possession,' 1 Kings xxi. 19. What became of Ahab with 
all his plots and devices '? 

Ahithophel and others, God may give them success for a while, but after- 
ward he gives them the overthrow. Herod, he had success a while in kill- 
ing of James, and, therefore, he thought to work wisely and get Peter too ; 
God struck him with worms, Acts xii. 23. Pharaoh, in the overthrow of 
God's people, saith he, ' Let us work wisely,' Exod. i. 10. How wisely ? 
They were overthrown and drowned themselves. Their wisdom brought 
them into the midst of the sea. Consider the vanity of earthly things. 
And then consider how just it is with God to cross them either in their 
own time ; as the rich fool in the gospel, when he had riches for many 
years, ' This night shall they take away thy soul ! ' Luke xii. 20. That we 



2 COEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VER. 12. 273 

may not walk according to the false rules of fleshly wisdom, let us oft think 
of these things. 

And to add another thing out of the text. You see here that St Paul 
rejoiced in this, that his conscience could witness that he had not walked 
in ' fleshly wisdom ; ' so if you do not walk according to the rules of fleshly 
wisdom, you shall have this benefit, your conscience shall glory in it. 

To make it clear to you, — take in your thoughts a pohtician upon his 
deathbed, that hath striven so much for riches, that hath striven to root 
himself by policy, to attain to such and such places, to obtain his pleasure 
and delights in the world ; what gloiy, what comfort hath he in this ? 
There is nothing more opposite to comfort than plotting ; for, as I said be- 
fore when I spake of simplicity, the more vv-ill there is, the more deliberation 
and plotting there is in sin, the more is the sua ; because it is done coolly, 
as we say. So of all persons usually, if their wits be their own, the greatest 
plotters die most desperately. For then their conscience tells them, that 
they have set their wits on the rack, to do this mischief and that mischief ; 
and here his comfort is cooled, his peace of conscience is broken. Wliat 
comfort can there be, when that which he sinned for, that which he broke 
the peace of his conscience for, that is gone, and he must be taken and 
hurried away from that. But the wound of conscience, the crack of con- 
science, that remains for ever ; when he shall think, that for which I sinned 
is vanished, but my terror abides for ever. 

A man therefore that walks after the rules of fleshly wisdom, he can 
never say with St Paul, ' I rejoice.' But on the contrary, let a man be able 
to witness to himself, as St Paul could ; at such a time my fleshly, subtle 
wisdom would have discouraged me from doing good ; and the wisdom of 
flesh and blood in others would have discouraged me from reforming such 
and such abuses ; but I knew it was my duty, and I did it. Here now is 
comfort. At such a time I was moved to such evil by flesh and blood in 
myself, or perhaps in others (as a man shall never want the devil in his 
friends. The devil comes to us in our nearest friends). But I had the 
grace to withstand it. I was not led by such and such rules, by my 
acquaintance, or by my own devices ; but I had grace to resist such motions. 
What a wondrous comfort is this ? 

There is nothing so sharp in conflict as this. To resist carnal wisdom, 
it is the shrewdest temptation that is from carnal wisdom ; and as the 
temptation is the strongest, so the comfort is answerable. When Jezebel 
shall be ofiered with her enticements, with her colours, with her paint ; and 
a man can dash her in pieces, and cast her out of the window, when a man 
can maintain sincerity and honesty, what a comfort is this ! The greater 
and stronger the temptation is that is resisted, the more is the comfort, 
when we come to yield our souls to God, when we come to our account. 
Therefore, be not discouraged when you are set upon by carnal wisdom, by 
strong reasons of others, or subtle reasons of your own. Is it against the 
rule ? Is it against conscience ? Is it against the word ? withstand it ! 
That which is sharpest in the conflict, will be sweetest in the comfort. 

Use 5. Again, if so be that carnal, fleshly, worldly wisdom (for it is all 
one, for the flesh is led by the world, and both conspire together, and hold 
correspondence to betray the soul, if it) be such an enemy, that it hinders 
our joy and comfort, and that if ever we will joy, we must not be led by 
coi-nal wisdom ; then we ought in our daily courses to repent, not only of 
gross sins, but to repent even of carnal devices, and carnal designs. Why ? 
It is the motion and the counsel of God's enemy, and of onr enemy. 
VOL. in. s 



274 



COMJrENTAEY ON 



Therefore, as David, Pg. xxxvii. and Ps. Ixxiii., when fleshly wisdom did 
suggest to him carnal motions of doubting of the providence of God, that 
he began to think well of the ways of the wicked, that they prospered that 
were led altogether by fleshly wisdom, he censures himself (it is the drift 
of both Psalms), ' So foohsh was I, and as a beast before thee,' Ps. Ixxiii. 
22 ; as indeed, ' Man is a beast by his own knowledge,' as Jeremiah saith, 
X. 14. For all carnal men sympathise either with boasts in base lusts, ox 
else with de^•ils in politic lusts ; either they are like devils, subtle, or like 
beasts, brutish in all their courses. 

Therefore, when any base thought, opposite to the majesty of God and 
his truth, and to the Spirit of God moving our hearts, ariseth in our hearts, 
think, this is the motion of mine enemy, of an enemy that lurks in my 
bosom, of God's enem}', of a traitor ; let us renounce it, and be abased, and 
censure ourselves for it, as holy David did, ' So foohsh was I,' &c. Crush 
all thoughts and devices of carnal wisdom in the beginning. 

We see that the godly, they ought not, nor do not lead their lives by 
fleshly wisdom ; nay, take it in the best sense, take it for the rules of 
reason, they do not lead their lives altogether by the light of nature, but 
only in those things wherein the light of nature and reason may be a judge. 
For the light of reason, the principle of reason, is given us as a candle in 
the dark night of this world, to lead us in civil and in common actions, and 
it hath its use. But yet natural reason, it becomes carnal reason in a man 
that is carnal. ' All things are impure to him that is impure, even his very 
light is darkness,' Tit. i. 15 ; Mat. vi. 23. Not that the light of nature, and 
that reason, which is a part of the image of God, is in itself evil. It is good 
in itself, but the vessel taints it. Those that have great parts of learning, 
that have great wits, and helps of learning as much as may be, what do 
they ? They trust in them, and so they stain them. Therefore, Luther 
was wont to say, ' Good works are good, but to trust in good works is 
damnable ' (^mi). So nature, and reason, and learning, they are good in 
themselves ; but trusting in them they become carnal, when a man neglects 
better rules for them. When men scorn religion, as your politicians usually 
do, then natural reason, in regard of this tainture, it becomes carnal. ' Not 
with fleshly wisdom,' or not with natural wisdom, as it is a higher rule of 
hfe. 

^Vhat then shall become of a Christian, when he hath renounced that 
which is in him by nature ? when he hath denied his wit and his will ? 
when he hath renounced a bad guide, shall he have no guide at all? Yes! 
For a man is never lawless. He is always under some guide or other. A 
man is alway under one kingdom or other. When he ceaseth to be under 
the kingdom of Satan, he comes under the kingdom of Christ; and when he 
is not led by the flesh, he is led by the Spirit. God's children, when they 
have renounced natural, carnal wisdom, they have not renounced aU wis- 
dom. They are wise still ; but they are wise by a supernatural light, they 
are wise in supernatural things. Yea, and in natural things after a super- 
natural manner. They are new creatures, advanced to a higher rank and 
order of creatures. So their wisdom is a gracious wisdom, when they are 
Christians. 

When a Christian hath renounced carnal wisdom, God leaves him 

not in the storm in the world as a ship without a stern.* He leaves him 

not as having no pole-star to guide his course by, but he gives him better 

direction. He hath the word of God, he hath the Spirit of God, he hath 

* That is, ' helm.'— G. 



2 OOEINTHIANS CHAP. I, VEE. 12. 275 

the grace of God to guide him. Therefore, after the negative here, ' Not 
in fleshly wisdom,' the holy apostle tells us how the child of God is led in 
his own person, but 

* Bij the grace of God.' It is good for inferiors alway to be under the govern- 
ment of superiors, and so God hath framed the world. For beasts, because they 
have no wisdom of their own , they are led and guided by men : and man, because 
he is, as I said before, ' a beast by his own knowledge,' and hath but a finite, 
a limited understanding, he is guided by a larger understanding, he is guided 
by God if he be good. And it is the happiness of the creature to be under 
the guidance of a better wisdom. All things in the world are guided to 
their end. Things without life are guided to their end without their privity. 
We see there is an end in everything. There is nothing in nature but it 
hath its end ; whereupon comes that saying of the philosophers, which is 
good, that the work of nature is a work of deep understanding. Not so 
much as the leaves, but they serve to shelter, and cover the fi'uit from the 
sun, and the storms, that it may thrive the better. There is nothing in 
nature but it is of great use. The work of natm-e is a work of deep under- 
standing. Now man, because he hath a principle of understanding in him- 
self, he is so guided by the wisdom of God to his end, as that he under- 
stands his own end himself. He is s