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EASTER, 1906 





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, 

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

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. 












Epistle Dedicatory . . . . . .3 

Advertisement to the Reader . . 7 
Preface ....... 8 

Chapter I. . . . 15 

II. . . 179 

III. . .270 

IV. . . . 325 
V. . 398 








To the Honourable Colonel ALEXANDER POPHAM, a Member of 

SIR, Dedications, though often abused to a vain flattery, are of 
ancient use, and may be of great profit. The custom is the less to be 
disparaged, because we find it hallowed by the practice of one of the 
penmen of the Holy Scriptures, St Luke, in his Gospel and the Acts, 
Luke i. 3, Acts i. 3, both which he inscribeth to Theophilus, a per 
son not only eminent in religion, but dignified with birth and place ; l 
which hath been imitated by the holy men of God in all ages ; their 
aim in such inscriptions being, partly to signify their thankfulness for 
favours received in this public and spiritual way of return ; partly to 
oblige persons eminent by the respects of the church, and by the 
honour of their name, to commend their labours to public acceptance ; 
partly by an innocent guile to bring them under a greater obligation 
in the profession and practice of the truths of religion. It is usual in 
scripture to ascribe a testimony, producible at the day of judgment, to 
the more notable circumstances and accidents of human life ; as to the 
rust of hoarded money, James v. 3 ; to the solemn publications of the 
gospel, the dust of the apostles' feet, &c., Matt. x. And so, I remem 
ber, in the primitive times, when grown persons were baptized, they 
were wont to leave a stole and white garment in the vestry of the 
church for a testimony and witness. "Wherefore, when one Elpido- 
phorus had revolted from the faith, the deacon of the church came 
and told him, * Elpidophorus, I will keep this stole as a monument 
against thee to all eternity.' And truly books, being public monu 
ments, are much of this nature, a testimony likely to be produced in 
the day of judgment, not only against the author, but the persons to 
whom they are inscribed, in case, on either side, there be any defection 
in judgment or manners from the truths therein professed ; for they 
being consigned to their respect and patronage, they are drawn into a 
fellowship of the obligation. 

1 So much I conceive is intimated in that form of address, KpdnaTe Oeo^tXe, a term 
which is wont to be given to persons of honour, as Acts xxiv. 3, Kpariare &r)\i!;, and 
Acts xxvi. 25, KpaTurre ^TJCTTG, in both places we render noble. And so by Justin Martyr 
to Diognetus, to whom he giveth an account of the Christian religion, icpdrurre 
(Just. Mart. Epist. ad Diog.) 


Sir there are many reasons why I should prefix your name to this 
work ' Besides the general relation you have to the place whew, 1 by 
SessincTof Godri have enjoyed a quiet and successful nnmstry 
and service in the word for these seven years, I have good cause to 
your frequent attendance upon these lectures and counte- 

J . -i -i i ji T J n ^-^4-'-,-^-,-, r\r\ TT/-mv annna Hmnncvsr, 

[ religion, wr 
private resp( 

breaches which at any - . 

violence- for all which, if the Lord would make me an instrument, 
by the present exercises, of promoting your spiritual welfare, or warm- 
in*' your heart into any raisedness of zeal and religious eminency, 
that bv your example others maybe provoked to the emulation ot the 
like virtue I shall have my aim and the fruit of my prayers. By 
this inscription the book is become not only mine but yours ; you own 
the truths to which I have witnessed, and it will be sad for our account 
in the day of the Lord, if, after such a solemn profession, you or 1 
should be found in a carnal and unregenerate condition. 

Good sir, make it your work to honour him that hath advanced 
you. Those differences of high and low, rich and poor, are only calcu 
lated for the present world, and cannot outlive time. In the grave, at 
the' day of judgment, and in heaven, there are no such distinctions. 
The grave taketh away all civil differences ; skulls wear no wreaths 
and marks of honour : Job iii. 19, ' The small and the great are 
there, and the servant is free from his master.' So at the day of 
judgment : ' I saw the dead, both great and small, stand before the 
Lord/ Rev. xx. 12. None can be exempted from trial at Christ's bar. 
When civil differences vanish, moral take place. The distinc 
tion then is good and bad, not great and small. Oh, sir, then you will 
see that there is no birth like that to be born again of the Spirit, no 
tenure like an interest in the covenant, no estate like the inheritance 
of the saints in light, no magistracy like that whereby we sit at 
Christ's right hand, judging angels and men, 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. How 
will the faces of great men gather blackness, that now flourish in the 
pomp and splendour of an outward estate, but then shall become the 
scorn of God, and saints, and angels ! And those holy ones of God 
shall come forth and say, * Lo, this is the man that made not God 
his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and 
strengthened himself in his wickedness I ' Ps. Iii. 7. Ah ! sir, wealth 
and power are of no use in that day, unless it be to aggravate and 
increase judgment. Many that are now despicable, so obscure that 
they are lost in the tale and count of the world, shall then be 
taken into the arms of Christ ; he will not be ashamed to confess 
them man by man before his Father, Luke xii. 8 Father, this is 
one of mine. Oh 1 it is sweet to hear such an acknowledgment out of 
Christ's own mouth. So also in heaven there are none poor. All the 
vessels of glory are filled up. If there be any difference in the de 
gree, the foundation of it is laid in grace, not greatness. 
^ Sir, you will find in this epistle that men of your rank and qua 
lity are liable to great corruptions; 2 they soon grow proud, sensual, 

1 Stoke-Newington. 

2 See the notes on James i. 9, 11, and ii. 1-7, and v. 1-5. 


oppressive, worldly, stubborn against the word : ' I went to the great 
men, but they had altogether broken the yoke/ Jer. v. 5. To a 
spiritual eye, the condition is no way desirable but as it giveth fairer 
advantages of public usefulness and a more diffusive charity. 
Greatness hath nothing greater than a heart to be willing, and a 
power to be able to do good. 1 Then it is a fair resemblance of that 
perfection which is in God, who differeth from man in nothing so 
much as the eternity of his being, the infiniteness of his power, and 
the unweariedness of his love and goodness. 2 It is the fond ambition 
of man to sever these things. We all affect to be great, but not 
good ; and would be as gods, not in holiness, but power. Nothing 
hath cost the creature dearer since the creation. It turned angels 
into devils, and Adam out of paradise. In these times we have seen 
strange changes. God hath been contending with the oaks and 
cedars, Amos ii. 9, and staining all worldly glory. Certainly there is 
no security in anything on this side Christ ; whatever storm cometh, 
you will find his bosom the surest place of retreat. The Lord give 
you to lay up your soul there by the sure reposal of a lively and 
active faith ! 

Sir, you will bear with my plainness and freedom with you ; other 
addresses would neither be comely in me, nor pleasing to you. Our 
work is not to flatter greatness, but, in the scripture sense (not in the 
humour of the age), to level mountains, Luke iii. 5. Now, sir, the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you with all spiritual 
blessings in Christ ; as also your pious consort, your hopeful buds, 
with all the worthy relatives and branches of your family, that the 
name of POPHAM may yield forth a sweet and fresh perfume in the 
churches of Christ ; which I desire to fix here, as the prayer of him 
who is, sir, yours, in all Christian observance, 


1 " Nihil habet fortuna magna majus quatn ut possit, et natura bona melius quam ut 
velit, benefacere quamplurimis." Tullius, Orat. pro Eege Deiotaro. 

2 " Tpta <TTIV v oh diafitpuv <ITLV 6 Qe6s, ai8ioTi)Tt ^(aijs f irepiovffly, dvvdjj.&s f KOL! ^ 
SiaXeliretv eihroteiV TOVS avOpuirovs," Themistius* 


GOOD HEADER, It is usual with those that publish books, to premise 
somewhat by way of excuse and acknowledgment of the unworthiness 
of what they publish ; which, setting aside the modest sense that every 
man should have of his own endeavours, seemeth not to be without 
crime ; if it be unworthy, the excuse will not make it better or more 
passable ; for this is to adventure upon a crime against conviction, 
and (if we may allude to a matter so weighty) is somewhat like 
Pilate's case, who washed his hands, and yet condemned Christ. 
Usually such professions are but counterfeit; and that praise which 
men seem to neglect, or beat back at the first hop, they readily take 
at next rebound, which certainly is a vain and wicked artifice in 
divine matters ; for besides the hypocrisy, there is a disparagement 
done to the precious truths which they publish, whilst they would 
seem to weaken the esteem of them, that they may the more plausibly 
promote their own honour : the best that can be said is, that every 
man in public would appear in a better dress than common infirmity 
will allow ; and to this work we come not out of choice, but constraint. 
For my own part (though I know apologies of this nature are little 
credited), I can freely profess that I had no itch to appear in public, 
as conceiving my gifts fitter for private edification ; and being humbled 
with the constant burthen of four times a week preaching, what could 
I do ? And if I had a mind to divulge my labours, some will wonder 
that I made choice of this subject, which was conceived in my very 
youth, and without the least aim of any further publication than to 
the auditory that then attended upon it. But it being an entire piece, 
and _ being persuaded by the renewed importunity of many gracious 
ministers and Christians that it might conduce somewhat to public 
benefit, I was willing to be deaf to all considerations of my own credit 
and fame. Wherein is that to be accounted of, so one poor soul receive 
comfort and profit? The Epistle of Jude was with this licensed to 
the press. But being wearied with this and the constant returns of 
my other employment, and hearing that another learned brother 1 in- 
tendeth to publish his elaborate meditations on that epistle I shall 
confine my thoughts to that privacy to which I had intended these, 
had they not been thus publicly drawn forth. The matter herein 

1 Mr Jenkins. 


delivered, will, I conceive, be found holy and useful. If any expression 
should be found that savoureth not of true piety, or suiteth not with 
reverence to God, charity to men, or zeal of good works, I do, from 
my soul, wish it expunged, and shall upon conviction take the next 
occasion to retract it. I know some are prejudiced against endeavours 
of this kind, as if nothing could be said but what hath been said 
already. For my part, I pretend to nothing novel, and though no other 
things can be said, yet they may be more explained, and with more 
liveliness of phrase and expression, every truth receiving some savour 
from the vessel through which it passeth ; and yet I may speak it 
without arrogance, some arguments thou wilt find improved for thy 
further edification ; and therefore I suppose (though there be now 
some glut) this book may crowd forth in the throng of comments. I 
confess I have made use of those that have formerly written upon this 
epistle, and upon others' instigation, that the work might be more 
complete, more than I at first intended ; and yet (I hope) I cannot be 
said to ' boast in another man's line of things made ready to our 
hand/ 2 Cor. x. 16. For thy direction in this work, I do entreat thee 
to compare the notes with the exposition, especially if thou dost at 
any time stick at the genuineness of any point. Well, then, so often 
repeated, is the usual note of the use or practical inference. If the 
style seem too curt and abrupt, know that I sometimes reserved my 
self for a sudden inculcation and enlargement. For the great contro 
versy of justification, I have handled it as largely as the epistle would 
give leave, and the state of the auditory would bear. Had I been 
aware of some controversies grown since amongst us, I should have 
said more ; yet, take it altogether, enough is said as to my sense, and 
for vindicating this epistle. If some passages be again repeated, which 
I suppose will seldom fall out, impute it to the multitude of my em 
ployment. I never saw the work altogether, and my thoughts being 
scattered to so many subjects throughout the week, I could not always 
so distinctly remember what I had written. In short, if thou receivest 
any benefit, return me but the relief of thy prayers for an increase of 
abilities, and a faithful use of them to the Lord's glory, and I shall be 
abundantly recompensed. 






I INTEND, by the assistance of God's Holy Spirit, in the weekly returns 
of this lecture, to handle the Epistle of James. It is full of useful 
and practical matter. I have the rather chosen this scripture that it 
may be an allay to those comforts which, in another exercise, I have 
endeavoured to draw out of the 53d of Isaiah. I would, at the 
same time, carry on the doctrine both of faith and manners, and 
show you your duties together with your encouragements, lest, with 
Ephraim, you should only love to tread out the corn, and refuse to 
break the clods, Hosea x. 11. We are all apt to divorce comfort from 
duty, and to content ourselves with a ' barren and unfruitful know 
ledge ' of Jesus Christ, 2 Peter i. 8 ; as if all that he required of the 
world were only a few naked, cold, and inactive apprehensions of his 
merit, and all things were so done for us, that nothing remained to 
be done by us. This is the wretched conceit of many in the present 
age, and therefore, either they abuse the sweetness of grace to loose 
ness, or the power of it to laziness. Christ's merit and the Spirit's 
efficacy are the commonplaces from whence they draw all the defences 
and excuses of their own wantonness and idleness. It is true God 
hath opened an excellent treasure in the church to defray the debts 
of humble sinners, and to bear the expenses of the saints to heaven ; 
but there is nothing allowed to wanton prodigals, who spend freely 
and sin lavishly upon the mere account of the riches of grace ; as in 
your charitable bequests, when you leave moneys in the way of a stock, 
it is to encourage men in an honest calling, not to feed riot and excess. 
Who ever left a sum for drunkards, or a stock to be employed in 
dicing and gaming ? Again, I confess, whatever grace doth, it doth 
freely ; we have ' grace for grace,' 1 John i. 16 ; that is, grace for 
grace's sake. But there is a difference between merit and means ; 
a schoolmaster may teach a child gratis, freely, and yet he must take 
pains to get his learning. And there is a difference between causality 

1 xapi" &vrl xctpiTos, id est, non pro ullo merito, sed ex me a bonitate, quod alibi dis- 
tluctius.enunciat apostolus, xa/a^/tara /card TTJV X^/H". Rom. xii. 6 (Grot, in locum). 


and order. Mercy is never obtained but in the use of means ; wisdom's 
dole is dispensed at wisdom's gate, Prov. viii. 34. But the use of 
means doth not oblige God to give mercy ; there are conditions which 
only show the way of grace's working. Again, I grant that closing 
with Christ is an excellent duty, and of the highest importance in 
religion. But in Christ there are no dead and sapless branches ; faith 
is not an idle grace ; wherever it is, it fructifieth in good works. To 
evince all this to you, I have chosen to explain this epistle. The 
apostle wrote it upon the same reason, to wit, to prevent or check 
their misprisions who cried up naked apprehensions for faith, and a 
barren profession for true religion. Such unrelenting lumps of sin 
and lust were there even in the primitive times, gilded with the 
specious name of Christians. 

The epistle in our translation beareth title thus, THE EPISTLE 
GENERAL OF JAMES ; in the Greek, 'la/cwftov rov airoa-roXov eV^o-ToA,?; 
KaOokiK?) the Catholic, or General Epistle of James the Apostle ; 
for the clearing of which, before I enter upon the body of the epistle, 
give me leave to premise these questions : 

1. Whether this epistle be of divine authority ? 

2. Concerning the subordinate author or instrument, James, what 

James this was ? 

3. What was the time of writing it ? 

4. The persons to whom it was written. 

5. What is the occasion, matter, and scope of it ? 

6. The reason of that term in the title, catholic or general. 

I. Concerning the divine authority of this epistle, I desire to discuss 
it with reverence and trembling. It is dangerous to loosen foundation 
stones. I should wholly have omitted this part of my work, but that 
the difference is so famous ; and to conceal known adversaries is an 
argument of fear and distrust. The Lord grant that the cure be not 
turned into a snare, and that vain men may not unsettle themselves 
by what is intended for an establishment ! That which gave occasion 
to doubt of this epistle was some passages in Jerome and Eusebius, 
in which they seem, at least by reporting the sense of others, to infringe 
the authority of it. I shall give you the passages, and then show you 
what little reason there is why they should jostle James out of the canon. 
The passage of Eusebius runneth thus : Kal ra Kara TOV ' 
ov TI TTpcorrj rcov Tri(rro\a>v rcov ovopa&aevwv Ka6d\iK&v eivai 
laTeov &>5 voOeverai uev' ov TroAAot ryovv T&V TraXai avrfjs ef 
0)9 ov$e Trjs \<youevr}<; 'JoOSa, uia<? Kal avrfj^ ovcrr)<? rwv 
KaOo\uca>v oyLt&)9 8 L(T/jiv /cal ravTa? aera TWV \oiTTWv ev 
KK\r)(TLais, &c. j 1 that is, ' And these things concerning James, whose 
epistle that is reported to be, which is the first among the epistles 
called universal ; 2 yet we are to understand that the same is not void 
of suspicion, for many of the ancients make no mention thereof, nor of 
Jude, being also one of the seven called universal ; yet notwithstanding 
we know them to be publicly read in most churches : ' so far Eusebius. 
The other passage of Jerome, 3 is this : Jacobus unam tantum scripsit 

1 Euseb., lib. ii. Hist. Eccles., c. 23. 

2 So Dr Hamner rendereth that clause, lariw ptv us 

3 Hieron. in Catal. Eccles. Script. 


epistolam, quce et ipsa ab olio quodam sub ejus nomine edita esse 
asseritur, licet paullatim temper e procedente obtinuerit auctoritatem ; 
that is, 'James wrote but one epistle, which is also said to be put forth 
by another in his name, though by little and little in process of time 
it gained authority in the church.' These are the clauses which first 
begat a doubt of this epistle, but without reason these two authors 
reporting the sense of others rather than their own ; and if any part 
of scripture should be laid aside because some have questioned it, the 
devil would soon obtain his purpose. One time or another the greatest 
part of it hath been impeached by men of a wicked and unsober wit, 
who, when they could not pervert the rule to gratify their purposes, 
reflected a scorn and contempt upon it. Now it would exceedingly 
furnish the triumphs of hell if we should think their private cavils to be 
warrant sufficient to weaken our faith, and besides disadvantage the 
church by the loss of a most considerable part of the canon ; for the 
case doth not only concern this epistle, but divers others, as the Second 
of Peter, the Second and Third Epistles of John, the Book of the 
Revelation, the last chapter of Mark, * some passages in the 22d of 
Luke, 2 the beginning of the 8th of John, 3 some passages in the 5th 
chapter of the First Epistle of John. Where would profaneness stay ? 
and, if this liberty should be allowed, the flood of atheism stop its 
course ? But, besides all this, why should a few private testimonies 
prejudice the general consent of the church, which hath transmitted 
this epistle to us, together with other parts of the New Testament ? 
For if we go to external testimony, there is no reason but the greater 
number should carry it. It were easy to instance in councils and 
fathers, who by an unanimous suffrage have commended this epistle 
to the faith and reverence of the church. Those canons which com 
monly go under the name of the apostles 4 (though I build not much 
upon that testimony) decreed it to be received for scripture ; so the 
Council of Laodicea, can. 59 ; so of Mile vis, cap. 7 ; so the third 
Council of Carthage, cap. 47 ; of Orange, cap. 25 ; Concilium Cabil- 
onense, cap. 33 ; of Toledo, cap. 3. So for the consent of the most 
ancient fathers, 5 by whom it is quoted as scripture, as by Ignatius, 
Epist. ad Epliesios, &c. You may see Brochmand, in Prolog. Epist! 
Jacob, and lodocus Coccius, his ' Thesaurus Theologicus/ torn, i., lib. 
6, art. 23 ; read also Dr Rainold's ' De Libris Apocryphis,' torn, i., 
prselect. 4, &c. Out of all which you may see what authority it had 
among the ancients. Of late, I confess, it hath found harder measure 
Cajetan and Erasmus show little respect to it; Luther plainly rejecteth 
it; and for the incivility and rudeness of his expression in callino- it 
stramineam epistolam, as it cannot be denied, 6 so it is not to be 
excused. Luther himself seemeth to retract it, speaking of it else- 

1 See Hieron., Quest. 3, ad Hedibium et Euthymium. 

2 Sextus Senensis Bibl. sanct., lib. i. c. 23, 24. 

3 Hieron. adversus Pelag., lib. ii. 

4 See Caranza, his Summa Conciliorum p 7 

Hilt^r LimSelf differenceth i4 from those * are plainly spurious-lib, iii. Eccles 


where with more reverence : EJpistolam hanc, quamvis rejectam a veteri- 
bus, pro utili tamen et non contemnenda habeo, vet ob hanc causam 
quodnihil plane humance doctrince offerat, ut leg em Deifortiterurgeat; 
verum ut meam de ilia sententiam candide promam extra prcejudi- 
cium, existimo nullius esse apostoli (Luther Prsef. Epist. Jacob.) ; that 
is, ' This epistle, though not owned by many of the ancients, I judge to 
be full of profitable and precious matter, it offering no doctrine of a 
human invention, strongly urging the law of God; yet, in my opinion 
(which I would speak without prejudice), it seemeth not to be written 
by any apostle ;' which was the error and failing of this holy and 
eminent servant of God ; and therein he is followed by others of his 
own profession, Osiander, Camerarius, Bugenhag, &c., and Althamerus, 
whose blasphemies are recorded by Grotius in his ' Eivetian Apol. 
Discuss./ p. 170, and by him unworthily urged to reflect a scorn upon 
our churches. Concerning this Andreas Althamerus, see learned 
Rivet's reply, in his SidXva-ts (Grot. Discuss., p. 480). However, 
Luther is herein deserted by the modern Lutherans, who allow this 
epistle in the canon, as is plain by the writings of Hunnius, Montrer, 
Gerhard, Walther, &c. Brochmand, a learned Lutheran, and Bishop 
of Zealand, in Denmark, hath written a worthy comment upon this 
epistle, to whom (though I received him late, and when the work was 
in a good progress) I have been beholden for some help in this exposi 
tion, especially in the critical explication of some Greek words, and 
most of the quotations out of the Socinian pamphlets, and for whom I 
acknowledge myself indebted to the courtesy of that learned and 
worthy gentleman, Colonel Edward Leigh, to whose faithfulness and 
industry the church of God oweth so much. 

The reasons which moved Luther to reject this epistle shall be 
answered in their proper places. By his own testimony, cited before, 
it containeth nothing repugnant to other scriptures, and it savoureth 
of the genius of the gospel, as well as other writings of the apostles ; 
and though he seemeth to make little mention of Christ and the 
gospel, yet, if you consider it more thoroughly, you will find many 
passages looking that way. The Epistle of Paul to Philemon hath 
been hitherto reputed canonical, yet it treateth not of the merits and 
death of Christ. I confess the style which the apostle useth is more 
rousing, much of the epistle concerning the carnal Hebrews, as well 
as those that had taken upon themselves the profession of Christ ; in 
short, it hath a force upon the conscience, and is not only delivered by 
the church, but sealed up to our use and comfort by the Holy Ghost, 
as other scriptures are. It was written by an apostle, as other epistles 
taken into the canon, as the inscription showeth, and there is no 
reason why we should doubt of this title, more than of Paul's name 
before his epistles. It is true there were some spurious writings that 
carried the names of the apostles, as the ' Acts of Andrew,' the ' Liturgy 
of St James,' the ' Canons of the Apostles,' ' Luke's History of the Acts 
of Paul and Tecla,' Mark's Life of Barnabas/ the ' Gospel of Paul ;' 
but all these, by the just hand of God, had some mark of infamy im- 

inis, imprimis quce ad Romanos, Galatas, EpJiesios scriptce sunt ; nee enim genium indol- 
emque habet evangelicam. So in his Comment, on Genesis, in c. 22, he saith, Facessant 
de media. adversaria, cum suo Jacobo, quern toties nobis objiciunt. 


pressed upon them, by the enforcement of matters false or ridiculous, 
or contrary to the truth of doctrine or history. But this epistle hath 
nothing contrary to the truth of religion, nor unbeseeming the gravity 
of it, and the majesty of other scriptures ; therefore, upon the whole, 
we may pronounce that, it being represented to us with these advan 
tages, it hath a just title to our respect and belief, and should be 
received in the church with the same esteem and reverence which we 
bear to other scriptures. 

II. Secondly, Concerning the subordinate author, James, there is 
some controversy about stating the right person, who he was. In the 
general, it is certain he was an apostle, no epistles but theirs being 
received into the rule of faith ; and it is no prejudice that he styleth 
himself ' the servant of the Lord/ for so doth Paul often, as we shall 
prove anon in the explication of the first verse. But now, among the 
apostles there were two called by the name of James James the son 
of Zebedee, and James the son of Alpheus. Many of the ancients 
indeed thought there were three of this name Jacobus major, or of 
Zebedee ; Jacobus minor, or of Alpheus ; arid James the brother of 
the Lord, called also Chobliham, 1 or Oblias, or James the Just, whom 
they thought not to be an apostle, but Bishop of Jerusalem. Jerome 
calleth him decimum tertium apostolum, the thirteenth apostle (in 
Isai. lib. v. cap. 7). Dorotheas maketh him one of the seventy, the 
first in his catalogue, but without reason. For indeed there were 
but two Jameses, 2 this N latter James being the same with him of 
Alpheus ; for plainly the brother of the Lord is reckoned among the 
apostles, Gal. i. 19 ; and called a pillar, Gal. ii. 9 ; and he is called 
the ^brother of the Lord, because he was in that family to which 
Christ was numbered. Some suppose his mother's sister's son, the son 
of Mary of Cleophas, who was sister to the Virgin. Now, Cleophas and 
Alpheus is all one, as a learned author supposeth, 3 though Junius 
contradicteth it (in Epist. Judge, sub initio) ; and Kabanus saith, after 
the death of Alpheus, she married Cleophas. But however it be, this 
James is the same, which is enough for our purpose. Well, then, there 
being two, to which of these is the epistle to be ascribed ? The whole 
stream of antiquity carrieth it for the brother of the Lord, who, as I 
said, is the same with Jacobus minor, or the son of Alpheus ; and 
with good reason, the son of Zebedee being long before beheaded by 
Herod, from the very beginning of the preaching of the gospel, Acts 
xu. 2. But this epistle must needs be of a later date, as alluding to 
some passages already written, and noting the degeneration of the 
church which was not so very presently. There are some few indeed 
of another judgment, as Flavius Dexter, Julius Toletanus, Didacus 
Itozor, and others cited by Eusebius Neirembergius, 4 a Spanish Jesuit, 
who also brmgeth the authority of an ancient Gottish missal to this 

; by Epiphanius, 

Eusebius Neirembe^giu^de^rig^e sTcra^crip'ture, lib. xi. cap. 15-19, 


purpose, together with reasons to prove this to be the first New Testa 
ment scripture that was written, and all to devolve the honour of the 
epistle upon the Spanish saint, Jacohus major ; which yet is contrary 
to the decree of the Trent Council, which ascribeth it to James the 
brother of the Lord. Well, then, James the Less is the person whom 
we have found to be the instrument which the Spirit of God made use 
of to convey this treasure to the church. Much may be said of him, 
but I shall contract all into a brief sum. He was by his private 
calling an husbandman, 1 by public office in the church an apostle, 
and especially called to the inspection of the church in and about 
Jerusalem, either because of his eminency and near relation to Christ, 
or for the great esteem he had gained among the Jews ; and therefore, 
when the other apostles were going to and fro disseminating the word 
of life, James is often found at Jerusalem. (See Gal. i. 18, 19 ; Acts i. 
14, 21 ; and xv. &c.) For his temper, he was of an exact strictness, 
exceeding just ; and therefore called Oblias, and James the Just ; yea, 
so just, that Josephus maketh the violence offered to him to be one of 
the causes of the Jewish ruin. (Joseph. Antiq., lib. xx. cap. 16.) Of 
so great temperance, that he drank neither wine nor strong drink, and 
ate no flesh. So pious, that his knees were made like a camel's hoof 
by frequent prayer. His death happened six years before that of 
Peter, thirty- eight years before that of John, in the sixty-third year 
of Christ, if chronology be true. He died a martyr ; they would have 
him persuade the people to abandon the doctrine of Christ, which, 
when he refused, and pressed the quite contrary, he was thrown down 
from a pinnacle of the temple, and his brains dashed out with a 
fuller's club, and so gave up the ghost. See these things set forth at 
large by Eusebius, lib. ii. cap. 23, et ibi citatos. 

III. Thirdly, For the time when this epistle was w r ritten, it cannot 
be exactly stated. It is placed first among the catholic epistles, either 
as first written, or first received into the canon, though in the ranking 
of it there be a variety. In the Greek Bibles it sustaineth the same 
place which we assign to it. Some think the Epistle of Peter was first 
written ; but in so great an uncertainty who can determine anything ? 
Certain we are, that it was written after the heresies were somewhat 
grown, and before Jerusalem drew to its end ; for what St James 
threateneth, St Paul taketh notice of as accomplished, 1 Thes. ii. 16. 
Speaking of the people of the Jews, he saith, ' Wrath is come upon 
them, et? TO reXo?, to the uttermost ;' which is denounced in chap. v. of 
our apostle. The critical reader, that would know more of the time 
and order of this epistle, I refer to Eusebius Neirembergiue, lib. xi. 
De Origine Sacrse Scripturge, cap. 15. 

IV. Fourthly, The persons to whom he wrote are specified in the 
first verse ' To the twelve tribes/ &c., which we shall explain anon ; 
let it suffice for the present, that he writeth chiefly to those among 
them that were gained to the faith of Christ, though there be many 
passages interspersed which do concern the unbelieving Jews. See 
chap. v. 1, and the reasons there alleged in the exposition. 

V. Fifthly, For the occasion, matter, and scope, you may take it 

1 Clemens, lib. ii. Constit. Apostol., cap. 63. 


thus : Certainly one great occasion was that which Austin 1 taketh 
notice of, to wit, the growth of that opinion in the apostles' days, that 
a bare, naked faith was enough to salvation, though good works were 
neglected. It is clear that some such thing was cried up by the school 
of Simon. Now, Samaria being nigh to Jerusalem, our apostle, whose 
inspection was mostly confined to those churches, might rather than 
others take notice of it. But this concerneth but a part of the epistle ; 
the more general occasion was the great degeneration of faith and 
manners, and the growth of libertine doctrines, as about God's being 
the author of sin, the sufficiency of empty faith, and naked profession, 
&c. When the world was newly ploughed and sowed with the gospel, 
these tares came up together with the good corn. As also to comfort 
God's children against the violence of the persecutions then exercised 
upon them, and to awaken the men of his own nation out of their 
stupid security, judgments being even at the door, and they altogether 
senseless ; therefore the whole epistle is fraught with excellent in 
structions how to bear afflictions, to hear the word, to mortify vile 
affections, to bridle the tongue, to conceive rightly of the nature of 
God, to adorn our profession with a good conversation, with meekness, 
and peace, and charity ; finally, how to behave ourselves in the time of 
approaching misery. All these, and many other doctrines, are scat 
tered throughout the epistle, so that you may see it is exceeding useful 
for these times. 

VI. Sixthly, Concerning the title catholic or general epistle, which 
is the title given all the seven latter epistles ; I answer, in some copies 
it is KavovL/crj, canonical ; but probably that is an error. Why then 
catholic ? Many reasons are given. (Ecumenius, and out of him 
Beza, thinketh it is because they were not inscribed to any particular 
nation or city, as Paul's are to Kome, Corinth, &c. But this hokleth 
not in all, some of John's being dedicated to private persons, to Gaius 
and the Elect Lady; and then there must be more than seven, that to 
the Hebrews being directed to the same persons to which Peter and 
James wrote theirs. Some say, because they contain universal doctrine, 
or the public treasure of the universal church ; but that would seem 
to derogate from the other epistles, and to prefer these before them. 
Pareus thinketh they were merely called so by an inconsiderate cus 
tom ; but most probably the reason is to vindicate their authenticity, 
and to distinguish them from the epistles of Barnabas, Ignatius, 
Clemens, and Polycarp, which, though ancient, never made up any 
part of the rule of faith, and so not derogate from the other epistles, 2 
but to join these to them. These things premised, I come, by God's 
assistance, to handle the epistle itself. 

' Excitata fuit tempers apostolorum opinio, sufficere solam fidem ad salutem obti- 
nendam, si vel maxime bona opera negligerentur, contra quam opinionem Apostolicse 
Epistolae Petri, Johannis, Jacobi, Judse, maxime dirigunt intentionem, ut vehementer 
adstruant fidem. sine operibus nihil prodesse.' Aug. Lib. de fide et Operibus. 

' Ecclesia vetus has epistolas canonicas et catholicas appellavit, non ut aliis quidquam 
adimeret, sed ut has illis contra nonuullorum seuteatias adjungeret.' Junius in Judam, 
p. 10. 





James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the tivelve 
tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. JAMES I. 1. 

JAMES, there were two of this name, the son of Zebedee, and the 
son of Alpheus ; the latter is the author of this epistle, as in the pre 
fatory discourse on the title more fully appeareth. 

A servant of God. The word SoOXo? is sometimes put to imply an 
abject and vile condition, as that of a slave or bondman ; so the apostle 
Paul, when he saith, Gal. iii. 28, ' bond or free are all one in Christ,' 
for bond he useth the word $ov\os ; and this great apostle thinketh 
it an honour to be SoOXo?, the servant of God. The lowest ministry 
and office about God is honourable. 

But why not apostle ? Grotius supposeth the reason to be because 
neither James the son of Zebedee, nor James of Alpheus, was the 
author of this epistle, but some third James ; not an apostle, but 
president of the presbytery at Jerusalem ; but that we have disproved 
in the preface. I answer, therefore : He mentioneth not his apostle- 
ship 1. Because there was no need, he being eminent in the opinion 
and repute of the churches ; therefore Paul saith, he was accounted a 
pillar and main column of the Christian faith, Gal. ii. 9. Paul, 
whose apostleship was enviously questioned, avoucheth it often. 2. 
Paul himself doth not in every epistle call himself an apostle. Some 
times his style is, * Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ,' Philem. 1 ; 
sometimes, ' Paul, a servant of Christ,' Phil. i. 1 ; sometimes nothing 
but his name Paul is prefixed, as in 1 Thes. i. 1 , and 2 Thes. i. 1. 

It followeth, and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some take both these 
clauses in a conjoined sense, as applied to the same person, and read 
it thus : A servant of Jesus Christ who is God and Lord ; as indeed 
this was one of the places urged by the Greek fathers for the God 
head of Christ against the Arians. But our reading, which dis- 
joineth the clauses, is to be preferred, as being least strained, and 


more suitable to the apostolic inscriptions ; neither is the dignity of 
Christ hereby impaired, he being proposed as an object of equal 
honour with the Father ; and as the Father is Lord, as well as Jesus 
Christ, so Jesus Christ is God as well as the Father. Well, then, 
James is not only God's servant by the right of creation and pro 
vidence, but Christ's servant by the right of redemption ; yea, espe 
cially deputed by Christ as Lord, that is, as mediator and head of the 
church, to do him service in the way of an apostle ; and I suppose 
there is some special reason of this disjunction, 'a servant of God 
and of Christ,' to show his countrymen that, in serving Christ, he 
served the God of his fathers, as Paul pleaded, Acts xxvi. 6, 7, that, 
in standing for Christ, he did but stand for * the hope of the promise 
made unto the fathers, unto which promise the twelve tribes, serving 
God day and night, hope to come/ 

It followeth in the text, to the twelve tribes; that is, to the Jews 
and people of Israel, chiefly those converted to the faith of Christ ; 
to these James writeth, as the ' minister of the circumcision/ Gal. 
ii. 9. And he writeth not in Hebrew, their own tongue, but in 
Greek, as being the language then most in use, as the apostle Paul 
writeth to the Eomans in the same tongue, and not in the Latin. 

Which are scattered abroad ; in the original, rat? ev ry Siao-Tropa, 
to those which are in or of the dispersion. But what scattering or 
dispersion is here intended ? I answer, (1.) Either that which was 
occasioned by their ancient captivities, and the frequent changes of 
nations, for so there were some Jews that still lived abroad, supposed 
to be intended in that expression, John vii. 35, * Will he go to the 
dispersed among the Gentiles ? ' Or (2.) More lately by the persecu 
tion spoken of in the 8th of the Acts. Or (3.) By the hatred of 
Claudius, who commanded all the Jews to depart from Eome, Acts 
xviii. 2. And it is probable that the like was done in other great 
cities. The Jews, and amongst them the Christians, being every 
where cast out, as John out of Ephesos, and others out of Alexandria. 
Or (4.) Some voluntary dispersion, the Hebrews living here and there 
among the Gentiles a little before the declension and ruin of their 
state, some in Cilicia, some in Pontus, &c. Thus the apostle Peter 
writeth, 1 Peter i. 1, ' To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, 
Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia/ 

Xalpetv, greeting. An usual salutation, but not so frequent in 
scripture. Cajetan thinketh it profane and paganish, and therefore 
questipneth the epistle, but unworthily. We find the same salutation 
sometimes used in holy writ, as to the Virgin Mary, Luke i. 28 : 
%atpe (the same word that is used here), ' Hail, thou that art highly 
favoured.^ So Acts xv. 23 : ' The apostles, and elders, and brethren, 
send (xalpew) greeting to the brethren which are of the Gentiles/ 
Usually it is ' grace, mercy, and peace/ but sometimes ' greeting/ 

Observations out of this verse are these : 

^ Obs. 1. From that, James a servant of God, he was Christ's near 
kinsman according to the flesh, and, therefore, by a Hebraism called 
1 The brother of the Lord/ Gal. i. 19, not properly and strictly, as 
Joseph's son, which yet was the opinion of some of the ancients l by a 

1 Eusebius Epiphanius, Gregory Nissen, and others. 


former marriage, but his cousin. Well, then, ' James, the Lord's 
kinsman,' calleth himself ' the Lord's servant : ' the note is, that 
inward privileges are the best and most honourable, and spiritual 
kin is to be preferred before carnal. Mary was happier, gestando 
Christum corde quam utero in having Christ in her heart rather 
than her womb; and James in being Christ's servant, than his 
brother. Hear Christ himself speaking to this point, Mat. xii. 
47-49 : 'When one told him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren 
stand without desiring to speak with thee/ Christ answered. ' Who is 
my mother, and who are my brethren ? And he stretched forth his 
hand to his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren ; 
for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the 
same is my brother, sister, and mother/ The truest relation to 
Christ is founded in grace, and we are far happier in receiving him 
by faith, than in touching him by blood ; and he that endeavours to 
do his will may be as sure of Christ's love and esteem, as if he were 
linked to him by the nearest outward relations. 

Obs. 2. It is no dishonour to the highest to be Christ's servant. 
James, whom Paul calleth ' a pillar/ calleth himself ' a servant of 
Christ ;' and David, a king, saith, Ps. Ixxxiv. 10, ' I had rather be a 
doorkeeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of 
wickedness/ The office of the Nethinims, or doorkeepers in the 
temple, was the lowest ; and therefore, when the question was pro 
posed what they should do with the Levites that had warped from 
God to idols, God saith, ' They shall bear their iniquity ; ' that is, 
they shall be degraded, and employed in the lowest offices and minis 
tries of the temple, which was to be porters and doorkeepers (see 
Ezek. xliv. 10-13) : yet saith David, ' I had rather be a doorkeeper ; ' 
carnal honour and greatness is nothing to this. Paul was ' an Heb 
rew of the Hebrews/ Phil. iii. 5 ; that is, of an ancient Hebrew race 
and extraction, there being, to the memory of man, no proselyte in 
his family or among his ancestors, which was accounted a very 
great honour by that nation ; yet, saith Paul, I count all o-Kvj3a\.a, 
dung and dog's meat, in comparison of an interest in Christ, Phil. iii. 8. 

Obs. 3. The highest in repute and office in the church yet are still 
but servants: ' James, a servant ; ' 2 Cor. iv. 1, ' Let a man account 
of us as of ministers of Christ/ The sin of Corinth was man-wor 
ship, in giving an excess of honour and respect to those teachers 
whom they admired, setting them up as heads of factions, and giving 
up their faith to their dictates. The apostle seeketh to reclaim them 
from that error, by showing that they are not masters, but ministers : 
give them the honour of a minister and steward, but not that 
dependence which is due to the master only. See 2 Cor. i. 24: 'We 
have not dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy/ We 
are not to prescribe articles of faith, but explain them. So the apostle 
Peter bids the elders not to behave themselves as 'lords over God's 
heritage/ 1 Peter v. 3 ; not to master it over their consciences. Our 
work is mere service, and we can but persuade ; Christ must impose 
upon the conscience. It is Christ's own advice to his disciples in 
Mat. xxiii. 10 : ' Be not ye called masters, for one is your master, even 
Christ/ All the authority and success of our' teaching is from our 



servant of Go, an o esus firw.n a services we 
r the Father, and the Son also : John v. 23, ' God will 
honour the Son as they honour the Father ;' that is, God 
oured and worshied only in Christ: John xiv. 1, 'Ye 

Lord We can prescribe nothing as necessary to be believed or 
done which is not according to his will or word. In short, we come 
not in our own name, and must not act with respect to our own ends ; 
we are servants. 

Obs 4 A servant of God, and of Jesus Cfirwt.In all services we 

must honour 

have all to 

will be honoured and worshipped 

believe in God, believe also in me.' Believing is the highest worship 

and respect of the creature ; you must give it to the Son, to the second 

person as mediator, as well as to the Father. Do duties so as you 

may honour Christ in them ; and so 

First, Look for their acceptance in Christ. Oh ! it would be sad if 
we were only to look to God the Father in duties. Adam hid himself, 
and durst not come into the presence of God, till the promise of Christ. 
The hypocrites cried, Isa. xxxiii. 14, ' Who shall dwell with consum 
ing fire?' Guilt can form no other thought of God by looking upon 
him out of Christ ; we can see nothing but majesty armed with wrath 
and power. But now it is said, Eph. iii. 12, that ' in Christ we have 
access with boldness and confidence ;' for in him those attributes, 
which are in themselves terrible, become sweet and comfortable ; as 
water, which is salt in the ocean, being strained through the earth, 
becometh sweet in the rivers ; that in God which, out of Christ, strik- 
eth terror into the soul, in Christ begets a confidence. 

Secondly, Look for your assistance from him. You serve God in Christ : 
[1.] When you serve God through Christ : Phil. iv. 13, ' I can do all 
things, through Christ that strengtheneth me/ When your own hands 
are in God's work, your eyes must be to Christ's hands for support 
in it : Ps. cxxiii. 2, ' As the eyes of servants look to the hands 
of their masters/ &c. ; you must go about God's work with his own 

[2.] When ye have an eye to the concernments of Jesus Christ 
in all your service of God, 2 Cor. v. 15. We must ' live to him that 
died for us ;' not only to God in general, but to him, to God that died 
for us. You must see how you advance his kingdom, propagate his 
truth, further the glory of Christ as mediator. 

[3.] When all is done for Christ's sake. In Christ God hath 
niievf claim in you, and ye are bought with his blood, that ye may be 
his servants. Under the law the great argument to obedience was God's 
sovereignty : Thus and thus ye shall do, ' I am the Lord ;' as in Lev. 
xix. 37, and other places. Now the argument is gratitude, God's 
love, God's love in Christ : ' The love of Christ constraineth us/ 2 Cor. 
v. 14. The apostle often persuades by that motive Be God's servants 
for Christ's sake. 

Obs. 5. To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. God 
looks after his afflicted servants : he moveth James to write to the 
scattered tribes : the care of heaven flourisheth towards you when 
you wither. A man would have thought these had been driven away 
from God's care, when they had been driven away from the sanctuary. 
Thus saith the Lord, though I have cast them far off 
among the heathen, and have scattered them among the countries, 


yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the places where they 
come/ Though they wanted the temple, yet God would be a little 
sanctuary. He looks after them, to watch their spirits, that he may 
apply seasonable comforts ; and to watch their adversaries, to prevent 
them with seasonable providences. He looketh after them to watch 
the seasons of deliverance, ' that he may gather her that was driven 
out/ Micah iv. 6, and make up ' his jewels/ Mai. iii. 17, that seemed 
to be carelessly scattered and lost. 

Obs. 6. God's own people may be dispersed, and driven from their 
countries and habitations. God hath his outcasts : he saith to Moab, 
' Pity my outcasts/ Isa. xvi. 4. And the church complains, ' Our in 
heritance is turned to strangers/ Lam. v. 2. Christ himself had not 
where to lay his head ; and the apostle tells us of some ' of whom the 
world was not worthy/ that ' they wandered in deserts, and mountains, 
and woods, and caves/ Mark, they -wandered in the woods (it is 
Chrysostom's note),aX\a K.CLI eicel 6We? efavyov ! the retirement and 
privacy of the wilderness did not yield them a quiet and safe abode. 
So in Acts viii. 4, we read of the primitive believers, that ' they were 
scattered abroad everywhere/ Many of the children of God in these 
times have been driven from their dwellings ; but you see we have no 
reason to think the case strange. 

Obs. 7. To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. There 
was something more in their scattering than ordinary : they were a 
people whom God for a long time had kept together under the wings 
of providence. That which is notable in their scattering is : 

1. The severity of God's justice; the twelve tribes are scattered 
his own people. It is ill resting on any privileges, when God's Israel 
may be made strangers. Israel was all for liberty ; therefore God 
saith, ' I will feed them as a lamb in a large place,' Hosea iv. 16. God 
would give them liberty and room enough. As a lamb out of the fold 
goeth up and down bleating in the forest or wilderness, without com 
fort and companion, in the midst of wolves and the beasts of the desert 
liberty enough, but danger enough ! so God would cast them out of 
the fold, and they should live a Jew here and a Jew there, thinly 
scattered and dispersed throughout the countries, among a people 
whose language they understood not, and as a lamb in the midst of 
the beasts of prey. Oh! consider the severity of God's justice; cer 
tainly it is a great sin that maketh a loving father cast a child out of 
doors. Sin is always driving away arid casting out ; it drove the 
angels out of heaven, Adam out of paradise, and Cain out of the 
church, Gen. iv. 12, 16, and the children of God out of their dwellings: 
Jer. ix. 19, ' Our dwellings have cast us out/ Your houses will 
be weary of you when you dishonour God in them, and you will be 
driven from those comforts which you abuse to excess ; riot doth but 
make way for rapine. You shall see in the 6th of Amos, when they 
were at ease in Sion, they would prostitute David's music to their 
sportiveness and common banquets: Amos vi. 5, ' They invent to them 
selves instruments of music like David/ But for this God threateneth 
to scatter them, and to remove them from their houses of luxury 
and pleasure. And when they were driven to the land of a stranger, 

x Chrysostom in Heb. xi. 


they were served in their own kind; the Babylonians would have 
temple-music : Ps. cxxxvii. 3, ' Now let us have one of your 
Hebrew songs:' nothing but a holy song would serve their profane 
sport. And so in all such like cases, when we are weary of God in 
our houses and families, our houses are weary of us. David's house was 
out of order, and then he was forced to fly from it, 2 Sam. xv. Oh ! 
then, when you walk in the midst of your comforts, your stately 
dwellings and houses of pomp and pleasure, be not of Nebuchadnez 
zar's spirit, when he walked in the palace of Babylon, and said, Dan. 
iv. 30, 'Is not this great Babel, which I have built ? 'pride grew 
upon him by the sight of his comforts ; not of the spirit of those Jews 
who, when they dwelt within ceiled houses, cried, ' The time to build 
the Lord's house is not come/ Hag. i. 1,2. They were well, and at 
ease, and therefore neglected God ; but of David's spirit, who, when 
he went into his stately palace, serious thoughts and purposes of 
honouring God arose within his spirit : 2 Sam. vii. 2, ' Shall I dwell 
in a house of cedar, and the ark of God dwell within curtains?' 
Observe the different workings of their spirits. Nebuchadnezzar, walk 
ing in his palace, groweth proud: ' Is not this great Babel, which I 
have built ? ' The Jews, in their ceiled houses, grow careless : ' The 
time to build the Lord's house is not come/ David, in his curious 
house of cedar, groweth religious : What have I done for the ark of 
God, who hath done so much for me? Well, then, honour God in 
your houses, lest you become the burdens of them, and they spue you 
out. The twelve tribes were scattered. 

2. The infallibility of his truth ; they were punished ' as their con 
gregation had heard;' as the prophet speaketh, Hosea vii. 11, 12. In 
judicial dispensations, it is good to observe not only God's justice, but 
God's truth. No calamity befell Israel but what was in the letter 
foretold in the books of Moses ; a man might have written their 
history out of the threatenings of the law. See Lev. xxvi. 33 : ' If 
ye walk contrary unto me, I will scatter you among the heathens, and 
will draw a sword after you.' The like is threatened in Deut. xxviii. 
64 : ' And the Lord shall scatter you from one end of the earth unto 
another among all the people/ And you see how suitable the event was 
to the prophecy ; and therefore I conceive James useth this expression 
of ' the twelve tribes,' when that distinction was antiquated, and the 
tribes much confounded, to show that they, who were once twelve 
flourishing tribes, were now, by the accomplishment of that prophecy, 
sadly scattered and mingled among the nations. 

3. The tenderness of his love to the believers among them ; he hath 
a James for the Christians of the scattered tribes, In the severest 
ways of jiis justice he doth not forget his own, and he hath special 
consolations for them when they lie under the common judgment. 
When other Jews were banished, John, amongst the rest, was banished 
out of Ephesus into Patmos, a barren, miserable rock or island ; but 
there he had those high revelations, Kev. i. 9. Well, then, wherever 
you are, you are near to God ; he is a God at hand, and a God afar 
off :^ when you lose your dwelling, you do not lose your interest in 
Christ ; and you are everywhere at home, but there where you are 
strangers to God. 


Yer. 2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temp 

My brethren. A usual compellation in the scriptures, and very 
frequent in this epistle, partly because of the manner of the Jews, who 
were wont to call all of their nation brethren, and partly because of 
the manner of the ancient Christians, 1 who in courtesy used to call 
the men and women of their society and communion brothers and 
sisters ; partly out of apostolical kindness, and that the exhortation 
might be seasoned with the more love and good-will. 

Count it ; that is, though sense will not find it so, yet in spiritual 
judgment you must so esteem it. 

All joy ; that is, matter of chief joy. Tlacrav, all is thus used in 
the writings of the apostles, as in 1 Tim. i. 15, Trao-^? aTroSo^?}? af^o?, 
' worthy of all acceptation,' that is, of chief acceptation. 

When ye fall, orav irepiTrearj're. The word signifies such troubles 
as come upon us unawares, as sudden things do most discompose the 
mind. But however, says the apostle, ' when ye fall/ and are suddenly 
circumvented, yet you must look upon it as a trial and matter of great 
joy ; for though it seemeth a chance to us, yet it falleth under the 
ordination of God. 

Divers. The Jewish nation was infamous, and generally hated, 
especially the Christian Jews, who, besides the scorn of the heathen, 
were exercised with sundry injuries, rapines, and spoils from their 
own brethren, and people of their own nation, as appeareth by the- 
Epistle of Peter, who wrote to the same persons that our apostle doth ; 
and also speaketh of ' divers or manifold temptations/ 1 Peter i. 6. 
And again by the Epistle to the Hebrews, written also to these dis 
persed tribes : see Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your 
goods/ that is, by the fury of the multitude and base people, against 
whom the Christians could have no right. 

Temptations. So he calleth afflictions, which to believers are of that 
use and habitude. 

The observations are : 

Obs. 1. My brethren. Christians are linked to one another in the 
bond of brotherhood. It was an ancient use, as I showed before, for 
Christians of the same communion to call one another brothers and 
sisters, which gave occasion of scorn to the heathen then. Quod fratres 
nos vocamus, infamant, saith Tertullian ; and it is still made matter 
of reproach : what scoff more usual than that of holy brethren ? If 
we will not keep up the title, yet the affection which becomes the re 
lation should not cease. The term hinteth duty to all sorts of Chris 
tians ; meekness to those that excel in gifts or office, that they may 
be not stately and disdainful to the meanest in the body of Christ it 
is Christ's own argument, ' Ye are brethren/ Mat. xxiii. 8 : and it 
also suggesteth love, and mutual amity. Who should love more than 
those that are united in the same head and hope ? Eodem sanguine 
Christi glutinati, as Augustine said of himself and his friend Alipius ; 
that is, cemented with the same blood of Christ. We are all travel 
ling homeward, and expect to meet in the same heaven : it would be 

i See Tertul. in Apol. cap. 39, Justin Mart, in fine Apol. 2, and Clement. Alexand. 
lib. v. Stromat. 


sad that brethren should ' fall out by the way,' Gen. xlv. 24. It was 
once said Aspice, ut se mutuo diligunt Christiani !$ee how the 
Christians love one another ! (Tertul. in Apol. cap. 39.) But alas ! 
now we may say, See how they hate one another ! 

Obs. 2. From that count it, miseries are sweet or bitter according 
as we will reckon of them. Seneca said, Levis est dolor si nihil opinio 
adjeceritour grief lieth in our own opinion and apprehension of 
miseries. Spiritual things are worthy in themselves, other things 
depend upon our opinion and valuation of them. Well, then, it stand- 
eth us much upon to make a right judgment ; therein lieth our misery 
or comfort ; things are according as you will count them. That your 
judgments may be rectified in point of afflictions, take these rules. 

1. Do not judge by sense : Heb. xii. 11, ' No affliction for the pre 
sent seemeth joyous, but grievous,' &c. Theophylact observeth, 1 that 
in this passage two words are emphatical, TT/OO? TO Trapbv and &o/cei,for 
the present and seemeth ; for the present noteth the feeling and expe 
rience of sense, and seemeth the apprehension and dictate of it : sense 
can feel no joy in it, and sense will suggest nothing but bitterness and 
sorrow ; but we are not to go by that count and reckoning. A Chris 
tian liveth above the world, because he doth not judge according to 
the world. Paul's scorn of all sublunary accidents arose from his 
spiritual judgment concerning them : Bom. viii. 18, ' I reckon that 
the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared 
with the joys that shall be revealed in us/ Sense, that is altogether 
for present things, would judge quite otherwise ; but saith the apostle, 
' I reckon/ i.e., reason by another manner of rule and account : so 
Heb. xi. 26, it is said, that ' Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ 
better than the treasures of Egypt : ' his choice, you see, was founded 
in his judgment and esteem. 

2. Judge by a supernatural light. Christ's eye-salve must clear 
your sight, or else you cannot make a right judgment : there is no 
proper and fit apprehension of things till you get within the veil, and 
see by the light of a sanctuary lamp: 1 Cor. ii. 11, ' The things of 
God knoweth no man, but by the Spirit of God/ He had said before, 
ver. 9, ' Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard/ &c. ; i.e., natural senses 
do not perceive the worth and price of spiritual privileges ; for I sup 
pose the apostle speaketh not there of the incapacity of our under 
standings to conceive of heavenly joys, but of the unsuitableness of 
spiritual objects to carnal senses. A man that hath no other light 
but reason and nature, cannot judge of those things ; God's riddles 
are only open to those that plough with God's heifer : and it is by 
God's Spirit that we come to discern and esteem the things that are 
of God ; which is the main drift of the apostle in that chapter. So 
David, Ps. xxxvi. 9, ' In thy light we shall see light ; ' that is, by his 
Spirit we come to discern the brightness of glory or grace, and the 
nothingness of the world. 

3. Judge by supernatural grounds. Many times common grounds 
may help us to discern the lightness of our grief, yea, carnal grounds ; 
your counting must be an holy counting. Those in the prophet said, 

- 'The bricks are fallen, but we will build with hewn stones/ Isa. ix. 

1 Theoph. in loc. 



10. It is a misery, but we know how to remedy it ; so many despise 
their troubles : we can repair and make up this loss again, or know 
how to deal well enough with this misery. All this is not ' a right 
judgment/ but ' vain thoughts ; ' so the prophet calleth their carnal 
debates and reasonings : Jer. iv. 14, 'How long shall vain thoughts 
lodge within thee ? ' that is, carnal shifts and contrivances, by which 
they despised the judgment, rather than improved it. True judging 
and counting always lolloweth some spiritual discourse and reasoning, 
and is the result of some principle of faith or patience ; as thus, it is a 
misery, but God will turn it to our good. God's corrections are sharp, 
but we have strong corruptions to be mortified ; we are called to great 
trials, but we may reckon upon great hopes, &c. 

Obs. 3. From that all joy ; afflictions to God's people do not only 
minister occasion of patience, but great joy. The world hath no reason 
to think religion a black and gloomy way : as the apostle saith, ' The 
weakness of Christ is stronger than the strength of men/ 1 Cor. i. 25 ; 
so grace's worst is better than the world's best ; ' all joy/ when in 
divers trials ! A Christian is a bird that can sing in winter as well 
as in spring ; he can live in the fire like Moses's bush ; burn, and not 
be consumed ; nay, leap in the fire. The counsel of the text is not a 
paradox, fitted only for notion and discourse, or some strain and reach 
of fancy ; but an observation, built upon a common and known expe 
rience: this is the fashion and manner of believers, to rejoice in their 
trials. Thus Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took the spoiling of your goods joy 
fully ; ' in the midst of rifling and plundering, and the incivilities of 
rude and violent men, they were joyful and cheerful. The apostle 
goeth one step higher : 2 Cor. vii. 4, ' I am exceeding joyful in all our 
tribulation/ Mark that virepTrepLora-evo^ai rfj %apa, I superabound 
or overflow in joy. Certainly a dejected spirit liveth much beneath the 
height of Christian privileges and principles. Paul in his worst estate 
felt an exuberancy of joy : ' I am exceeding joyful ; ' nay, you shall see 
in another place he went higher yet : Rom. v. 3, ' We glory in tribula 
tions/ fcavxco/jLeOa ; it noteth the highest joy joy with a boasting and 
exultation ; such a ravishment as cannot be compressed. Certainly a 
Christian is the world's wonder, and there is nothing in their lives but 
what men will count strange ; their whole course is a riddle, which 
the multitude understandeth not, 2 Cor. vi. 10: 'As sorrowful, yet 
always rejoicing;' it is Paul's riddle, and may be every Christian's 
motto and symbol. 

Object. 1. But you will say, Doth not the scripture allow us a sense 
of our condition ? How can we rejoice in that which is evil ? Christ's 
soul was ' heavy unto death.' 

Solut. I answer 1. Not barely in the evil of them ; that is so far 
from being a fruit of grace, that it is against nature : there is a 
natural abhorrency of that which is painful, as we see in Christ him 
self : John xii. 27, ' My soul is troubled ; what shall I say ? Father, 
save me from this hour/ &c. As a private person, Christ would 
manifest the same affections that are in us, though as mediator, he 
freely chose death and sufferings ; the mere evil is grievous. Besides, 
in the sufferings of Christ there was a concurrence of our guilt taken 
into his own person and of God's wrath ; and it is a known rule, 


Ccelestis ira quos premit miseros facit, Jiumana nullos. No adversary 
but God can make us miserable ; and it is his wrath that putteth a 
vinegar and gall into our sufferings, not man's. 

2. Their joy is from the happy effects, or consequents, or comforts, 
occasioned by their sufferings. I will name some. 

[1.1 The honour done to us ; that we are singled out to bear wit 
ness to the truths of Christ: ' To you it is given to suffer,' Phil. i. 29. 
It is a gift and an act of free-grace : to be called to such special ser 
vice is an act of God's special favour, and so far from being a matter 
of discouragement, that it is a ground of thanksgiving: 1 Peter 
iv. 16, 'If any man surfer as a Christian, let him glorify God^in this 
behalf : ' not accuse God by murmuring thoughts, but glorify him. 
This consideration had an influence upon the primitive saints and 
martyrs. It is said, Acts v. 41, that 'they went away rejoicing that 
they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ : ' in the original, on 
/carrj^icodrja-av aTificurOrjvai,, that they were honoured to be dishonoured 
for Christ. It is a great dignity and honour put upon us to be drawn 
out before angels and men as champions for God and his truth ; and 
this will warrant our joy. So Christ himself: Mat. v. 12, 'When 
men say all manner of evil against you falsely, and for my name's 
sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad/ Luke hath it, ' Rejoice, and 
leap for joy/ Luke vi. 23 ; which noteth such exsiliency of affection 
as is stirred up by some sudden and great comfort. 

[2.] The benefit the church receiveth. Resolute defences gain upon 
the world. The church is like an oak, which liveth by its own 
wounds, and the more limbs are cut off, the more new sprouts. 1 Ter- 
tulliansaith, The heathen's cruelty was the great bait and motive by 
which men were drawn into the Christian religion ; 2 and Austin 3 
reckoneth up all the methods of destruction by which the heathen 
sought to suppress the growth of Christianity, but still it grew the 
more; they were bound, butchered, racked, stoned, burned, but still 
they were multiplied. The church was at first founded in blood, and it 
thriveth best when it is moistened with blood ; founded in the blood 
of Christ, and moistened or watered, as it were, with the blood of the 
martyrs. Well, then, they may rejoice in this, that religion is more 
propagated, and that their own death and sufferings do any way con 
tribute to the life and nourishing of the church. 

[3.] Their own private and particular comforts. God hath consola 
tions proper for martyrs, and his children under trials. 4 Let me 
name a few. Sometimes it is a greater presence of the word : 1 Thes. 
i. 6, * Ye received the word with much affliction, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost/ Great affliction ! but the gospel will counterpoise all. 
Usually it is a clear evidence and sight of their gracious estate. The 
sun shineth many times when it raineth ; and they have sweet glimpses 

' 1ef.Lv6y.evov 0dAAei Kal rep viS-ripy avrdyuvifcTai.' Naz. in. Orat. 

2 'Exquisitior quaeque crudelitas vestra illecebra est; magis sectse, plures efficimur, quo- 
ties metimur a vobis,' &c. TertuL in Apol. 

3 ' Ligabantur, includebantur, caedebantur, torquebantur, urebantur, laniabautur, tru- 
cidabantur et tamen multiplicabantur.' Aug. lib. xxii. de Civit. Dei, c. 6. 

4 _ Philip, the Landgrave of Hesse, being asked how he could endure his long and 
tedious imprisonment, ' Professus est se divinas martyrum consolationes semisse.' 


of God's favour when their outward condition is most gloomy and sad : 
'When men revile you, and persecute you, rejoice, for yours is the 
kingdom of heaven/ Mat. v. 10. God cleareth up their right and 
interest yours. So also distinct hopes and thoughts of glory. Mar 
tyrs, in the act of suffering and troubles, have not only a sight of 
their interest, but a sight of the glory of their interest. There are 
some thoughts stirred up in them which come near to an ecstasy, a 
happy pre-union of their souls and their blessedness, and such a fore- 
enjoyment of heaven as giveth them a kind of dedolency in the midst 
of their trials and sufferings. Their minds are so wholly swallowed 
up with the things that are not seen, that they have little thought or 
sense of the things that are seen ; as the apostle seemeth to intimate, 
2 Cor. iv. 18. Again, they rejoice because of their speedy and swifter 
passage into glory. The enemies do them a courtesy to rid them out 
of a troublesome world. This made the ancient Christians to rejoice 
more when they were condemned than absolved j 1 to kiss the stake, and 
thank the executioner, because of their earnest desires to be with Christ. 
So Justin Martyr (Apol. 1, adversus Gentes), Gratias agimus quod 
a molestis dominis liber emur we thank you for delivering us from 
hard taskmasters, that we may more sweetly enjoy the bosom of 
Jesus Christ. 

Object. 2. But some will say, My sufferings are not akin to martyrdom ; 
they come not from the hand of men, but providence, and are for my 
own sins, not for Christ. 

Solut. I answer It is true there is a difference between afflictions 
from the hand of God, and persecutions from the violence of men. 
God's hand is just, and guilt will make the soul less cheerful ; but 
remember the apostle's word is divers trials ; and sickness, death of 
friends, and such things as come from an immediate providence, are 
but trials to the children of God. In these afflictions there is required 
not only mourning and humbling, but a holy courage and confi 
dence : Job v. 22, ' At destruction and famine shalt thou laugh/ 
There is a holy greatness of mind, and a joy that becometh the sad 
dest providences. Faith should be above all that befalleth us ; it is 
its proper work to make a believer triumph over every temporary acci 
dent. In ordinary crosses there are many reasons of laughing and 
joy ; as the fellow-feeling of Christ ; if you do not suffer for Christ, 
Christ suffereth in you, and with you. He is afflicted and touched 
with a sense of your afflictions. It is an error in believers to think 
that Christ is altogether unconcerned in their sorrows, unless they be 
endured for his name's sake, and that the comforts of the gospel are 
only applicable to martyrdom. Again, another ground of joy in ordi 
nary crosses is, because in them we may have much experience of grace, 
of the love of God, and our own sincerity and patience ; and that is 
ground of rejoicing: Eom. v. 3, 'We rejoice in tribulation, knowing 
that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience.' The rule 
holdeth good in all kinds of tribulations or sufferings ; they occasion 
sweet discoveries of God, and so are matter of joy. See also 2 Cor. 
xii. 9, 10, ' I glory in infirmities,' and ' take pleasure in infirmities, 
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.' They are happy occa- 

1 ' Magis damnati quatn absoluti gaudernus.' Tertul. in Apol. 


sions to discover more of God to us, to give us a greater sense and 
feelino- of the power of grace ; and so we may take pleasure m them. 
Lastly, all evils are alike to faith ; and it would as much misbecome 
a Christian hope to be dejected with losses, as with violence or per 
secution. You should walk so that the world may know you can live 
above every condition, and that all evils are much beneath your hopes. 
Well, then, from all that hath been said we see that we should with 
the same cheerfulness suffer the will of Christ as we should suffer 
for the name of Christ. 

Obs. 4. From that, ivhen ye fall, observe that evils are the better borne 
when they are undeserved and involuntary ; that is, when we fall into 
them, rather than draw them upon ourselves. It was Tertullian's 
error to say that afflictions were to be sought arid desired. The crea 
ture never knoweth when it is well ; sometimes we question God's 
love, because we have no afflictions, and anon, because we have no 
thing but afflictions. In all these things we must refer ourselves to 
God's pleasure, not desire troubles, but bear them when he layeth 
them on us. Christ hath taught us to pray, ' Lead us not into tempta 
tion; ' it is but a fond presumption to cast ourselves upon it. Philas- 
trius speaketh of some that would compel men to kill them out of an 
affectation of martyrdom ; and so doth Theodorct. 1 This was a mad 
ambition, not a true zeal ; and no less fond are they that seek out 
crosses and troubles in the world, rather than wait for them, or by 
their own violences and miscarriages draw just hatred upon them 
selves. Peter's rule is: 'Let none of you suffer as an evil-doer,' 1 
Peter iv. 15. We lose the comfort of our sufferings when there is 
guilt in them. 

Obs. 5. From that divers, God hath several ways wherewith to exercise 
his people. Divers miseries come one in the neck of another, as the 
lunatic in the gospel ' fell sometimes in the water, sometimes in the fire ;' 
so God changeth the dispensation, sometimes in this trouble, sometimes 
in that. Paul gives a catalogue of his dangers and sufferings : 2 Cor. 
xi. 24-28, ' In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine 
own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the wilderness, 
in perils in the city, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.' 
Crosses seldom come single. When God beginneth once to try, 
he useth divers ways of trial ; and indeed there is great reason. 
Divers diseases must have divers remedies. Pride, envy, coveteous- 
ness, worldliness, wantonness, ambition, are not all cured by the same 
physic. Such an affliction pricks the bladder of pride, another checks 
our desires, that are apt to run out in the way of the world, &c. Do 
not murmur, then, if miseries come upon you, like waves, in a continual 
succession. Job's messengers came thick and close one after another, 
to tell of oxen, and house, and camels, and sons, and daughters, and 
all destroyed, Job i. ; messenger upon messenger, and still with a 
sadder story. We have ' divers lusts,' Titus iii. 3, and, therefore, have 
need of ' divers trials/ In the 6th of the Kevelations one horse cometh 
after another the white, the pale, the black, the red. When the 
sluice is once opened, several judgments succeed in order. In the 
4th of Amos, the prophet speaks of blasting, and mildew, and clean- 

1 Theod. lib. iv. Hseret. Fabul. 


ness of teeth, pestilence, and war; all these judgments one after 
another. So Christ threatens Jerusalem with ' wars and rumours of 
wars ; ' and addeth : ' There shall be famine, and pestilences, and 
earthquakes in divers places,' Mat. xxiv. 7. Oh ! then, ' Stand in 
awe, and sin not,' Ps. iv. When the first hrunt is over, you cannot 
say, 'the bitterness ot death is past;' other judgments will have 
their course and turn. And learn, too, from hence, that God hath 
several methods of trial confiscation, banishment, poverty, infamy, 
reproach ; some trials search us more than others. We must leave 
it to his wisdom to make choice. Will-suffering is as bad as will- 

Obs. 6. From that word temptations, observe, that the afflictions of 
God's people are but trials. He calleth them not afflictions or perse 
cutions, but ' temptations,' from the end for which God sendeth them. 
The same word is elsewhere used: 2 Peter ii. 9, ' God knoweth how 
to deliver the godly out of temptation.' Now affliction is called 
temptation, not in the vulgar sense, as temptation is put for an occa 
sion or inducement to sin, but in its proper and native signification, 
as it is taken for trial and experience ; and so we have it positively 
asserted that this is the end of God : Dent. viii. 16, ' He fed thee with 
manna in the wilderness, to humble thee and prove thee, and do thee 
good at the latter end.' The afflictions of the saints are not judg 
ments, but corrections or trials God's discipline to mortify sin, or his 
means to discover grace ; to prove our faith, love, patience, sincerity, 
constancy, &c. Well, then, behave thyself as one under trial. Let 
nothing be discovered in thee but what is good and gracious. Men 
will do their best at their trial ; oh ! watch over yourselves with the 
more care that no impatience, vanity, murmuring, or worldliness of 
spirit may appear in you. 

Yer. 3. Knowing this, that the trial of your faith loorketh pa 

Here is the first argument to press them to joy in afflictions, taken 
partly from the nature, partly from the effect of them. The nature 
of them they are a ' trial of faith ; ' the effect or fruit of them they 
beget or 'work patience.' Let us a little examine the words. 

Knowing. It either implieth that they ought to know, as Paul saith 
elsewhere : 1 Thes. iv. 13, ' I would not have you ignorant, brethren, 
concerning them that are asleep in the Lord/ &c. So some suppose 
James speaketh as exhorting: Knowing, that is, I would have you 
know ; or else it is a report ; knowing, that is, ye do know, being taught 
by the Spirit and experience ; or rather, lastly, it is a direction, in 
which the apostle acquainteth them with the way how the Spirit 
settleth a joy in the hearts of persecuted Christians, by a lively know 
ledge, or spiritual discourse, by acting their thoughts upon the 
nature and quality of their troubles ; and so knowing is distinctly con 

That the trial of your faith. Here is a new word used for afflic 
tions ; before it was ireipaa-^ol^, temptations, which is more general. 
Here it is So/cifj,iov, trial, which noteth such a trial as tendeth to 
approbation. But here ariseth a doubt, because of the seeming con 
tradiction between Paul and James. Paul saith, Eom. v. 4, that 


patience worketh SOKI^V, trial or experience ; and James seemeth 
to invert the order, saying, that SOKI/JLIOV, ' trial or experience worketh 
patience/ But I answer (1.) There is a difference between the 
words : there it is So/cijjir) ; here, SOKI/J.IOV ; and so fitly rendered there 
experience here, trial. (2.) There Paul speaketh of the effect of suf 
fering, experience of God's help, and the comforts of his Spirit, which 
work patience ; here, of the suffering itself, which, from its use and 
ordination to believers, he calleth trial, because by it our faith and 
other graces are approved and tried. 

Of your faith; that is, either of your constancy in the profession of 
the faith, or else of faith the grace, which is the chief tiling exercised 
and approved in affliction. 

Worketh patience. The original word is Karepyd&Tcu, perfecteth 
patience. But this is a new paradox how affliction or trial, which is 
the cause of all murmuring or impatience, should work patience ! 

I answer (1.) Some expound the proposition of a natural patience, 
which, indeed, is caused by the mere affliction ; when we are used to 
them, they are the less grievous. Passions being blunted by conti 
nual exercise, grief becometh a delight. But I suppose this is not in 
the aim of the apostle ; this is a stupidity, not a patience. (2.) Then, 
I suppose the meaning is, that our trials minister matter and occa 
sion for patience. (3.) God's blessing must not be excluded. The work 
of the efficient is often given to the material cause, and trial is said to 
do that which God doth. By trial he sanctifieth afflictions to us, and 
then they are a means to beget patience. (4.) We must not forget the 
distinction between punishment and trial. The fruit of punishment 
is despair and murmuring, but of trial, patience and sweet submis 
sion. To the wicked every condition is a snare. They are corrupted 
by prosperity, and dejected by adversity ; * but to the godly every 
estate is a blessing. Their prosperity worketh thanksgiving, their 
adversity patience. Pharaoh and Joram grew the more mad for their 
afflictions, but the people of God the more patient. The same fire that 
purgeth the corn bruiseth the stalk or reed, and in that fire in which 
the chaff is burnt gold sparkleth. 2 So true is that of the psalmist : 
Ps. xi. 5, ' The Lord trieth the righteous; but the wicked, and him that 
loveth violence, his soul hateth/ Well, then, the sum of all is, that 
afflictions serve to examine and prove our faith, and, by the blessing of 
God, to bring forth the fruit of patience, as the quiet fruit of right 
eousness is ascribed to the rod, Heb. xii. 11, which is indeed the 
proper work of the Spirit. He saith, ' The chastening yieldeth the 
peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby ; ' as 
our apostle saith, ' The trial worketh patience/ 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. From that knowing, ignorance is the cause of sorrow. 
When we do not rightly discern of evils, we grieve for them. Our 
strength, as men, lieth in reason ; as Christians, in spiritual discourse. 
Paul was instructed, Phil. iv. 11, and that made him walk with such 
an equal mind in unequal conditions. Solomon saith, Prov. xxiv. 5, 

' Eum nulla adversitas dejicit, quern nulla prosperitas corrumpit.' Greg. Mor. 
' ' Ignis non est diversus et diversa agit ; paleam in cineres vertit ; auro sordes tollit.' 
Aug. in Ps. xxxi. 


* A wise man is strong, yea, a man of knowledge increase th strength ;' 
and he saith afterwards, ver. 10, 'If thou faintest in affliction, thy 
strength is but small ; ' that is, thou hast but little prudence or know 
ledge. There lieth the weakness of our spirits. Children are scared with 
every trifle. Did we know what God is, and whereto his dealings tend, 
we should not faint. Well, then, labour for a right discerning. To help 
you, consider : (1.) General knowledge will not serve the turn. The 
heathens had TO (yvwa-rov, excellent notions concerning God in the gene 
ral, Rom i. 19 ; but they were 'vain in their imaginations/ ver. 21 
ev rot? SiaXoyia-fiois, in their practical inferences, when they were 

to bring down their knowledge to particular cases and experiences. 
They had a great deal of knowledge in general truths, but no prudence 
to apply them to particular exigences and cases. Many can discourse 
well in the general ; as Seneca, when he had the rich gardens, could 
persuade to patience, but fainted when himself came to suffer. 1 So 
Eliphaz charge th it upon Job, that he was able to instruct and strengthen 
others, ' But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest ; it toucheth 
thee, and thou art troubled,' Job iv. 45. Therefore it must not only be 
a knowledge, but a prudence to make application of general truths, that 
in particular cases we may not be disturbed and discomposed. (2.) Our 
knowledge must be drawn out in actual thoughts and spiritual dis 
course. This bringeth in seasonable succour and relief to the soul, 
and therein lieth our strength. Observe it, and you shall always find 
that the Spirit worketh by seasonable thoughts. Christ had taught the 
apostles a great many comforts, and then he promiseth, John xiv. 
26, ' The Comforter shall come ; KOI dva/Avijcrci,, and he shall bring all 
things to your remembrance which I shall say to you/ That is the 
proper office of the Comforter, to come in with powerful and season 
able thoughts to the relief of the soul. The apostle ascribeth their 
fainting to ' forgetting the consolation,' Heb. xii. 5. Nay, observe it 
generally throughout the word our strength in duties or afflictions 
is made to lie in our distinct and actual thoughts. Would we mor 
tify corruptions ? It is done by a present acting of the thoughts, or 
by spiritual discourse ; therefore the apostle saith, Rom. vi. 6, ' Know 
ing this, that our old man is crucified with him ; ' so would we bear 
afflictions cheerfully. See Heb. x. 34, * Ye took it joyfully, knowing 
that you have a better and more enduring substance ; ' and Rom. v. 
3, ' Knowing that tribulation worketh experience.' And so in many 
other places of scripture we find that the Spirit helpeth us by awaken 
ing and stirring up proper thoughts and discourses in the mind. (3.) 
Those thoughts which usually beget patience are such as these : (1st.) 
That evils do not come by chance, or the mere fury of instruments, 
but from God. So holy Job : ' The arrows of the Almighty are with 
in me,' Job vi. 4. Mark, ' the arrows of the Almighty/ though Satan 
had a great hand in them, as you may see, Job ii. 7 God's arrows, 
though shot out of Satan's bow. And then, (2d.) That where we see 
anything of God, we owe nothing but reverence and submission ; for 
he is too strong to be resisted, too just to be questioned, and too good 
to be suspected. But more of this in the fifth chapter. 

Obs. 2. From that Sofcifjuov, the trial, the use and ordination of 
1 ' Senecse preedivitis hortos.' Juvenal. 


persecution to the people of God is trial. God maketh use of the worst 
instruments, as fine gold is cast into the fire, the most devouring ele 
ment. Innocency is best tried by iniquity. 1 But why doth God try 
us ? Not for his own sake, for he is omniscient ; but either (1.) For 
our sakes, that we may know ourselves. In trials we discern the sin 
cerity of grace, and the weakness and liveliness of it ; and so are less 
strangers to our own hearts. Sincerity is discovered. A gilded pot 
sherd may shine till it cometh to scouring. In trying times God 
heateth the furnace so hot, that dross is quite wasted ; every interest 
is crossed, and then hirelings become changelings. Therefore, that 
we may know our sincerity, God useth severe ways of trial. Sometimes 
we discover our own weakness, Mat. xiii. ; we find that faith weak in 
danger which we thought to be strong out of danger ; as the blade in the 
stony ground was green, and made a fair show till the height of sum 
mer. Peter thought his faith impregnable, till the sad trial in the 
high priest's hall, Mat. xxvi. 69. In pinching weather weak persons 
feel the aches and bruises of their joints. Sometimes we discern the 
liveliness of grace. Stars shine in the night that lie hid in the day. It 
is said, Eev. xiii. 10, ' Here is the patience and faith of the saints ; ' 
that is, the time when these graces are exercised, and discovered in 
their height and glory. Spices are most fragrant when burnt and 
bruised, so have saving graces their chiefest fragrancy in hard times. 
The pillar that conducted the Israelites appeared as a cloud by day, 
but as a fire by night. The excellency of faith is beclouded till it be 
put upon a thorough trial. Thus for ourselves, that we may know 
either the sincerity, or the weakness, or the liveliness of the grace that 
is wrought in us. (2.) Or for the world's sake. And so, (1st.) for the 
present to convince them by our constancy, that they may be con 
firmed in the faith, if weak and staggering, or converted, if altogether 
uncalled. It was a notable saying of Luther, Ecclesia totum mun- 
dum convertit sanguine et oratione the church converteth the w r hole 
world by blood and prayer. We are proved, and religion is proved, 
when we are called to sufferings. Paul's bonds made for the fur 
therance of the gospel : Phil. i. 12, 13, ' Many of the brethren 
waxed confident in my bonds, and are much more bold to speak the 
word without fear.' In prosperous times religion is usually stained 
with the scandals of those that profess it ; and then God bringeth on 
great trials to honour and clear the renown of it again to the world, 
and usually these prevail. Justin Martyr was converted by the con 
stancy of the Christians (Niceph. lib. iii. cap. 26). Nay, he himself 
confesseth it. 2 When he saw the Christians so willingly choose death, 
he reasoned thus within himself : Surely these men must be honest, and 
there is somewhat eminent in their principles. So I remember the 
author of the Council of Trent saith concerning Anne de Burg, a 
senator of Paris, who was burnt for Protestantism, that the death and 
constancy of a man so conspicuous did make many curious to know 
what religion that was for which he had courageously endured pun 
ishment, and so the number was much increased. 3 (2d.) We are tried 

1 'Probatio innocentiso nostrue est iniquitas vestra.' Tertul. in Apol. 

2 Justin Mart, in Apol. 2, circa finem. 

3 See Hist, of the Council of Trent, p. 418,2d edit. 


with a respect to the day of judgment : 1 Peter i. 7, ' That the trial 
of your faith may be found to praise and honour in the day of Christ's 
appearing.' God will justify faith before all the world, and the crown 
of patience is set upon a believer's head in that solemn day of Christ. 
You see the reasons why God trieth. 

Use. Well, then, it teacheth us to bear afflictions with constancy 
and patience ; God trieth us by these things. For your comfort con 
sider four things : (1.) God's aim in your afflictions is not destruction, 
but trial ; as gold is put into the furnace to be fined, not consumed. 
Wicked men's misery is ' an evil, arid an only evil,' Ezek. vii. 5. In 
their cup there is no mixture, and their plagues are not to fan, but 
destroy. But to godly men, miseries have another property and habi 
tude : Dan. xi. 35, ' They shall fall to try, and to purge, and to make 
white ; ' that is, in times of many persecutions, as was that of Anti- 
ochus, the figure of Antichrist. (2.) The time of trial is appointed : 
Dan. xi. 35, ' They shall fall to try, and to purge, and to make white, 
even to the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed.' 
You are not in the furnace by chance, or at the will of your enemies ; 
the time is appointed, set by God. (3.) God sitteth by the furnace 
prying and looking after his metal : Mai. iii. 3, ' He shall sit as a refiner 
and purifier of silver/ It notes his constant and assiduous care, that 
the fire be not too hot, that nothing be spilt and lost. It is a notable 
expression that of Isa. xlviii. 9, 10: 'For my praise will I refrain ; I 
have refined thee, but not as silver ; ' that is, not so thoroughly. Silver 
or gold is kept in the fire till the dross be wholly wrought out of it : 
if we should be fined as silver, when should we come out of the fur 
nace ? Therefore God saith he will ' choose us in the furnace,' though 
much dross still remain. (4.) Consider, this trial is not only to approve, 
but to improve ; we are tried as gold, refined when tried : so 1 Peter i. 
7, ' That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold 
that perisheth ; ' or more clearly in Job xxiii. 10, ' When he hath 
tried me, I shall come forth as gold : ' the drossy and scorious part or 
matter is Severed, and the corruptions that cleave close to us are purged 
and eaten out. 

Obs. 3. From that, your faith. The chief grace which is tried in 
persecution is faith: so in 1 Peter i. 7, k That the trial of your faith, 
being more precious/ &c. Of all graces Satan hath a spite at faitfy, 
and of all graces God delighteth that the perfection of it should be 
discovered. Faith is tried, partly because it is the radical grace that 
keepeth in the life of a Christian : Hab. ii. 4, ' The just shall live by 
faith : ' we work by love, but live by faith ; partly because this is the 
grace most exercised, sometimes in keeping the soul from using ill 
means, and unlawful courses : Isa. xxviii. 16, 'He that believeth doth 
not make haste ; ' that is, to help himself before God will. It is believ 
ing that maketh the soul stand to its proof and trial : Heb. xi. 35, 
' By faith those that were tortured would not accept deliverance ; ' 
that is, which was offered to them upon ill terms, of refusing God and 
his service. Sometimes it is exercised in bringing the soul to live 
upon gospel-comforts in the absence of want of worldly, and to make 
a Christian to fetch water out of the rock when there is none in the 
fountain. Many occasions there are to exercise faith, partly because 


it is the grace most oppugned and assaulted ; all other graces march 
under the conduct of faith : and therefore Satan's cunning^is to fight, 
not against small or great, but to make the brunt and weight of his 
opposition to fall upon this grace : nay, God himself seemeth an 
enemy, and it is faith's work to believe him near, when to sense he is 
gone and withdrawn. Well, then : 

Use 1. You that have faith, or pretend to it, must look for trials. 
Graces are not crowned till they are exercised ; never any yet went to 
heaven without combats and conflicts. Faith must be tried before it 
be ' found to praise and honour.' It is very notable, that wherever 
God bestoweth the assurance of his favour, there presently followeth 
some trial : Heb. x. 32, ' After ye were illuminated, ye endured a great 
fight of afflictions/ Some are cast upon troubles for religion soon after 
their first conversion, like these, as soon as illuminated. When Christ 
himself had received a testimony from heaven, presently Satan 
tempteth him : ' This is my beloved Son ; ' and presently he cometh 
with an, ' If thou be the Son of God ' Mat. iii. 17, with Mat. iv. 1, 
3 : after solemn assurance he would fain make you question your 
adoption. So see Gen. xxii. 1 : ' It came to pass that after these things 
God did tempt Abraham/ What things were those ? Solemn inter 
courses between him and God, and express assurance from heaven that 
the Lord would be his God, and the God of his seed. When the castle 
is victualled, then look for a siege. 

Use 2. You that are under trials, look to your faith. Christ knew 
what was most likely to be assailed, and therefore telleth Peter, Luke 
xxii. 32, ' I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not/ When 
faith faileth, we faint ; therefore we should make it our chief work to 
maintain faith. Chiefly look after two things : (1.) Hold fast your 
assurance in the midst of the saddest trials: in the furnace call God 
Father : Zech. xiii. 21, ' I will bring them through the fire, and they 
shall be refined as silver and gold is tried : and they shall say, The Lord 
is my God.' Let not any hard dealing make you mistake your Father's 
affection. One special point of faith, under the cross, is the faith of our 
adoption: Heb. xii. 5, ' The exhortation speaketh to you as children; my 
son, despise not the chastening of the Lord/ It is the apostle's own note 
that the afflicted are styled by the name of sons. Christ had a bitter 
cup, but saith lie, My Father hath put it into my hands: John xviii. 
11, ' The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink of 
it ? ' It is a bitter cup, but he is still my Father. (2.) The next work 
of faith is, to keep your hopes fresh and lively : believers always 
counter-balance the temptation with their hopes. There is no grief 
or loss so great, but faith knoweth how to despise it in the hope of the 
reward: therefore the apostle describeth faith to be, Heb. xi. 1, 
uTTocrracrt? TWV e\7rio/jiei>a)v, ' the substance of things hoped for ; ' 
because it giveth a reality and present being to things absent and to 
come, opposing hope to the temptation, and making the thing hoped 
for as really to exist in the heart of the believer as if it were already 
enjoyed. Well, then, let faith put your hopes in one balance, when 
the devil hath put the world, with the terrors and profits of it, in the 
other; and say, as Paul, Xoyi&paL, ' I reckon, or compute, that the 
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the 


glory that shall be revealed in us,' Kom. viii. 18. All this is nothing 
to our hopes : what is this to glory to come ? 

Obs. 4. From that /carepyd^erai, worketh or perfecteth, many trials 
cause patience, that is, by the blessing of God upon them. Habits are 
strengthened by frequent acts ; the more you act grace, the stronger ; 
and often trial puts us upon frequent exercise : the apostle saith, chas 
tening 'yieldeth the quiet fruit of righteousness, rot? veyv/j,vaa-/ji,evois, 
to them that are exercised thereby,' Heb. xii. 11. The fruit of patience 
is not found after one affliction or two, but after we are exercised and 
acquainted with them : the yoke after a while begin neth to be well 
settled, and by much bearing, we learn to bear with quietness, for use 
perfecteth ; as we see those parts of the body are most solid that are 
most in action, 1 and trees often shaken are deeply rooted. Well, then : 
(1.) It showeth how careful you should be to exercise yourselves under 
every cross ; by that means you come to get habits of grace and 
patience : neglect causeth decay, and God withdraweth his hand from 
such as are idle : in spirituals, as well as temporals, ' diligence maketh 
rich,' Prov. x. 4. (2.) It showeth that if we murmur or miscarry in 
any providence, the fault is in our own hearts, not in our condition. 
Many blame providence, and say they cannot do otherwise, their 
troubles are so great and sharp. Oh ! consider, trials, yea, many trials, 
where sanctified, work patience : that which you think would cause 
you to murmur, is a means to make you patient. The evil is in the 
unmortifiedness of your affections, not in the misery of your condition. 
By the apostle's rule, the greater the trial the greater the patience, 
for the trial worketh patience. There is no condition in the world 
but giveth occasion for the exercise of grace. 

Obs. 5. From that patience, the apostle comforteth them with 
this argument, that they should gain patience ; as if that would make 
amends for all the smart of their sufferings. The note is, that it is 
an excellent exchange to part with outward Comforts for inward graces. 
Fiery trials are nothing if you gain patience. Sickness, with patience, 
is better than health ; loss, with patience, is better than gain. If 
earthly affections were more mortified, we should value inward enjoy 
ments and experiences of God more than we do. Paul saith, 2 Cor. 
xii. 9, ' I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may 
rest upon me : ' misery and calamities should be welcome, because 
they gave him further experiences of Christ. Certainly, nothing 
maketh afflictions burthensome to us but our own carnal affections. 

Obs. 6. From the same, we may observe more particularly, that 
patience is a grace of an excellent use and value. We cannot be 
Christians without it ; we cannot be men without it : not Christians, 
for it is not only the ornament, but the conservatory of other graces. 
How else should we persist in well-doing when we meet with grievous 
crosses ? Therefore the apostle Peter biddeth us, 2 Peter i. 5, 6, to 
' add to faith, virtue ; to virtue, knowledge ; to knowledge, temper 
ance ; to temperance, patience.' Where are all the requisites of true 
godliness ? It is grounded in faith, directed by knowledge ; defended, 
on the right hand, by temperance against the allurements of the world ; 

1 ' Ferendo discimus perferre ; solidissima pars est corporis, quam frequens usus agita- 
vit.' Seneca. 



on the left, by patience against the hardships of the world. ^ You see 
we cannot be Christians without it ; so, also, not men. ^ Christ saith, 
' In patience possess your souls/ Luke xxi. 19. A man is a man, and 
doth enjoy himself and his life by patience : otherwise we shall but 
create needless troubles and disquiets to ourselves, ^ and so be, as it 
were, dispossessed of our own lives and souls that is, lose the comfort 
and the quiet of them. 

Ver. 4. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be 
perfect and entire, wanting in nothing. 

Here he cometh to show what patience is right, by way of exhorta 
tion, pressing them to perseverance, integrity, and all possible perfec 
tion. I will open what is difficult in the verse. 

"Epyov re\iov, her perfect work. For the opening of this, know 
that in the apostle's time there were divers that with a great deal of 
zeal bore out the first brunt, but being tired, either with the diversity 
or the length of evils, they yielded and fainted ; therefore he wisheth 
them to tarry till patience were thoroughly exercised, and its perfection 
discovered. The highest acts of graces are called the perfection of 
them : as of Abraham's faith we say, in ordinary speech, there was a 
perfect faith ; so when patience is thoroughly tried by sundry and 
long afflictions, we say there is a perfect patience. So that the perfect 
work of patience is a resolute perseverance, notwithstanding the length, 
the sharpness, and the continual succession of sundry afflictions. One 
trial discovered patience in Job ; but when evil came upon evil, and 
he bore all with a meek and quiet spirit, that discovered patience 
perfect, or sufficiently exercised. It followeth : 

That you may be perfect and entire, wanting in nothing. The 
apostle's intent is not to assert a possibility of perfection in Christians: 
* We all fail in many things/ James iii. 2. And all that we have 
here is but in part: 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10, 'We know in part, and we 
prophesy in part ; but when that which is perfect is come, then that 
which is in part shall be done away.' Here grace must needs be 
imperfect, because the means are imperfect. But his meaning is either 
that we should be sincere, as sincerity is called perfection in scripture: 
Gen. xvii. 1, ' Walk before me, and be thou perfect ; ' so it is in the 
original and marginal reading, what in our translation is, ' be thou 
upright ; ' or else it is meant of the perfection of duration and perse 
verance ; or rather, lastly, that perfection is intended which is called 
the perfection of parts, that we might be so perfect, or entire, that 
no necessary grace might be lacking that, having other gifts, they 
might also have the gift of patience, and the whole image of Christ 
might be completed in them that nothing might be wanting which is 
necessary to make up a Christian. Some, indeed, make this a legal 
sentence, as implying what God may in justice require, and to what 
we should in conscience aim to wit, exact perfection, both in parts 
and degrees. It is true this is beyond our power ; but because we 
have lost our power, there is no reason God should lose his right. It 
is a saying of Austin, 1 homo, in prceceptione cognosce quid debeas 
habere, et in correptione cognosce tuo te vitio non habere. Such pre 
cepts serve to show God's right, and quicken us to duty, and humble 

1 Aug. in lib. de Corrept. et Grat. c. 3. 


us with the sense of our own weakness. So much God might require, 
and so much we had power to perform, though we have lost it by our 
own default. This is true, but the former interpretations are more 
simple and genuine. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. The perfection of our graces is not discovered till we are 
put upon many and great trials. As a pilot's skill is discerned in a 
storm, so is a Christian's grace in many and great troubles. 1 Well, 
then, in all that doth befall you, say, Yet patience hath not had its 
perfect work. Expectation of a worse thing maketh lesser troubles 
more comportable ; yet trust and patience is not drawn out to the 
height. The apostle saith, Heb. xii. 4, ' Yet ye have not resisted 
unto blood, striving against sin/ Should we faint in a lesser trial, 
before the perfect work cometh to be discovered ? Job was in a sad 
condition, yet he putteth a harder case : Job xiii. 15, ' If he should 
kill me, yet I will trust in him : ' in a higher trial I should not faint 
or murmur. 

Obs. 2. That the exercise of grace must not be interrupted till it be 
full and perfect till it come to 6^70^ reXetov, a perfect work. Ordi 
nary spirits may be a little raised for a time, but they fall by and by 
again : Gal. v. 7, ' Ye did run well ; who hindered you ? ' You were 
in a good way of faith and patience, and went happily forward ; but 
what turned you out of the way ? Implying there was as little, or 
rather less, reason to be faint in the progress as to be discouraged in 
the beginning. Common principles may make men blaze and glare 
for a while, yet afterward they fall from heaven like lightning. It is 
true of all graces, but chiefly of the grace in the text. Patience must 
last to the end of the providence, as long as the affliction lasteth ; not 
only at first, but when your evils are doubled, and the furnace is 
heated seven times hotter. Common stubbornness will bear the first 
onset, but patience holdeth out when troubles are continued and 
delayed. The apostle chideth the Galatians because their first heat 
was soon spent : Gal. iii. 3, * Are ye so foolish ? having begun in the 
spirit, are ye made perfect in the flesh ? ' It is not enough to begin ; 
our proceedings in religion must be answerable to our beginnings. 2 
To falter and stagger after much forwardness, 3 showeth we are ' not 
fit for the kingdom of God,' Luke ix. 62. The beasts in the prophet 
always went forward (see Ezek. i. 11) ; and crabs, that go backward, 
are reckoned among unclean creatures y Lev. xi. 10. Nero's first five 
years are famous ; and many set forth well, but are soon discouraged. 
Liberius, the Bishop of Home, was zealous against the Arians, and 
was looked upon as the Samson of the church, the most earnest 
maintainer of orthodoxism ; suffered banishment for the truth ; but 
alas! he after failed, and to recover his bishopric (saith Baronius 4 ), 
sided with the Arians. Well, then, while you are in the world, go on 
to a more perfect discovery of patience, and follow them that, ' through 

1 ' Gubernatoris artem tranquillum mare efc obsequens ventus non ostendit; adversi 
aliquid incurrat oportet, quod animum probet.' Sen. ad Marc. c. 5. 

2 ' Non incepisse sed perfecisse virtutis est.' Aug. ad Frat. in Eremo. Ser. 8. 

3 ' Turpe est cedere oneri, et luctari cum officio quod semel recepisti ; nou est vir fortis 
et strenuus qui laborem fugit, nee crescit illi animus ipsa rerum difficultate. ' Seneca. 

4 Baronius ad annum Christi, 357. 


faith' and a continued < patience, have inherited the promises/ Heb. 
vi .12. 

Obs. 3. That Christians must aim at, and press on to perfection. 
The apostle saith, ' That ye may be perfect and entire, nothing want 
ing/ (1.) Christians will be coveting, and aspiring to, absolute per 
fection. We are led on to growth by this aim and desire : they hate 
sin so perfectly, that they cannot be quiet till it be utterly abolished. 
First, they go to God for justification, ne damnet^ that the damning 
power of sin may be taken away ; then for sanctification, ne regnet, 
that the reigning power of sin may be destroyed ; then for glorification, 
ne sit, that the very being of it may be abolished. And as they are 
bent against sin with a mortal and keen hatred, so they are carried on 
with an earnest and importunate desire of grace. They that have 
true grace will not be contented with a little grace ; no measures will 
serve their turn. ' I would by any means attain to the resurrection 
of the dead,' saith Paul, Phil. iii. 11 ; that is, such a state of grace as 
we enjoy after the resurrection. It is a metonymy of the subject for 
the adjunct. Free grace, you see, hath a vast desire and ambition ; 
it aimeth at the holiness of the glorious and everlasting state ; and, 
indeed, this is it which makes a Christian to press onward, and be so 
earnest in his endeavours ; as Heb. vi. 1 , with 4, ' Let us go on to 
perfection ; ' and then ver. 4, * It is impossible for those that were 
once enlightened/ &c., implying that men go back when they do not 
go on to perfection ; having low aims, they go backward, and fall off. 
(2.) Christians must be actually perfect in all points and parts of 
Christianity. As they will have faith, they will have patience; as 
patience, love and zeal. In 1 Peter i. 15, the rule is, ' Be ye holy, as I 
am holy, in all manner of conversation/ Every point and part of life 
must be seasoned with grace, therefore the apostle saith, lv Tracrfj 
ava<rrpo<l>fj, in every creek and turning of the conversation : so 2 Cor. 
viii. 7, ' As ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and 
knowledge, and in all diligence, see that ye abound in this grace also/ 
Hypocrites are always lacking in one part or another. The Corinthians 
had much knowledge and utterance, and little charity ; as many pro 
fessors pray much, know much, hear much, but do not give much ; 
they do not ' abound in this also/ As Basil saith in his sermon ad 
Divites, I know many that fast, pray, sigh, Trdcrav rrjv dbdiravnv evkd- 
fteiav eK^iavvfjbevov^^ love all cheap acts of religion, and such as cost 
nothing but their own pains, but are sordid and base, withholding from 
God and the poor, rl o^eXo? TOVTOLS TT}? XO/TTT;? dperTJs. What profit 
have they in their other graces when they are not perfect ? There is 
a link and cognation between the graces ; they love to go hand in 
hand, to come up as in a dance, and consort, as some expound the 
apostle's word, eV^of^We : 2 Peter i. 5, ' Add to faith, virtue,' Ac. 
One allowed miscarriage or neglect may be fatal. Say, then, thus 
within yourselves A Christian should be found in nothing wanting. 
Oh ! but how many sad defects are there in my soul ! if I were 
weighed in God's balance, I should be found much wanting ! Oh, 
strive to be more entire and perfect. (3.) They aim at the perfection 
of duration, that, as they would be wanting in no part of duty, so in 
no part of their lives. Subsequent acts of apostasy make our former 


crown to wither ; they lose what they have wrought, 2 John 8. All 
their spiritual labour formerly bestowed is to no purpose, and whatever 
we have done and suffered for the gospel, it is, in regard of God, lost 
and forgotten. So Ezek. xviii. 24, ' When he turneth to iniquity, all 
the righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned/ As under 
the law, if a Nazarite had defiled himself, he was to begin all anew : 
Num. vi. 12, * The days that were before shall be lost, because his 
separation was denied ; ' as if he had fulfilled the half part of his vow, 
or three parts of his vow, yet all was to be null and lost upon every 
pollution, and he was to begin again. So it is in point of apostasy; 
after, by a solemn vow and consecration, we have separated ourselves 
to Christ, if we do not endure to the end, all the righteousness, zeal, 
and patience of our former profession is forgotten. 

Ver. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth 
to all men liberally, and upbraideth not ; and it shall be given him. 

The apostle, having spoken of bearing afflictions with a mind above 
them, cometh here to prevent an objection, which might be framed 
thus : This is a hard saying, to keep up the spirit not only in patience, 
but joy ; when all things are against us, who can abide it ? .Duty is 
soon expressed, but how shall we get it practised? The apostle 
granteth it is hard, and it will require a great deal of spiritual skill 
and wisdom, which, if you want (saith he), God will furnish you, if 
you ask it of him ; and upon this occasion digresseth into the rules 
and encouragements of prayer : in this verse he encourageth them by 
the nature and promise of God. But to the words. 

If any of y OIL This if doth not argue doubt, but only inferreth a 
supposition. 1 But why doth the apostle speak with a supposition ? 
Who doth not lack wisdom ? May we not ask, in the prophet's question, 
* Who is wise ? who is prudent ? ' Hosea xiv. 9. I answer (1.) Such 
expressions do more strongly aver and affirm a thing, as Mai. i. 6 : ' If 
I be a father, where is my honour ? If I be a master, where is my 
fear ?' Not as if God would make a doubt of these things, but such sup 
positions are the strongest affirmations, for they imply a presumption 
of a concession : you will all grant, I am a father and a master, &c. 
So here, if you lack wisdom : you will grant you all lack this skill. So 
Eom. xiii. 9, ' If there be any other commandment/ &c. The apostle 
knew there was another commandment, but he proceeded upon that 
grant. So 2 Thes. i. 6, eiirep, ' If it be a righteous thing,' &c. The 
apostle taketh it for granted it is righteous to render tribulation to 
the troubler, and proceedeth upon that grant : and therefore we render 
it affirmatively, ' seeing it is/ &c. So James v. 15, ' If he hath com 
mitted sins/ Why, who hath not ? It is, I say, a proceeding upon a 
presumption of a grant. (2.) All do not lack in a like manner : some 
want only further degrees and supplies ; therefore, if you lack ; with 
a supposition, if you lack it wholly, or only more measures. 

Wisdom. It is to be restrained to the circumstances of the text, not 
taken generally : he intendeth wisdom or skill to bear afflictions ; for 
in the original the beginning of this verse doth plainly catch hold of 
the heel of the former, eV jmrjSevl Xet7ro//,ez/ot, and then el &e rt? 
' lacking nothing,' and presently, ' if any of you lack/ 

1 Nou dubitantis est, sed supponentis. 


Let Mm ask it ; that is, by serious and earnest prayer. 

Of God ; to whom our addresses must be immediate. 

That giveth to all men. -Some suppose it implieth the natural 
beneficence and general bounty of God, as indeed that is an argument 
in prayer ; God, that giveth to all men, will not deny his saints : as the 
psalmist rnaketh God's common bounty to the creatures to be aground 
of hope and confidence to his people, Ps. cxlv. 16, ' Thou satisfiest 
the desire of every living thing ; ' and upon this his trust groweth, 
ver. 19, 'He will fulfil the desires of them that fear him/ He that 
satisfieth every living thing certainly will satisfy his own servants. 
There is a general bounty of God, which though liberally dispensed, 
yet is not specially. But this sense the context will not bear. By all 
men, then, may be understood all kinds of persons Jew, Greek, or 
barbarian, high or low, rich or poor. God giveth not with a respect 
to outward excellency ; he giveth to all men : or else, (3.) and so most 
suitably to the context, to all askers, all that seek him with earnestness 
and trust; however, it is thus generally expressed, that none might 
be discouraged, but apply himself to God with some hope. 

Liberally. The word in the original is aTrXw?, which properly signi- 
fieth simply, but usually in matters of this nature it is taken for 
bountifully. I note it the rather to explain many other places ; as 
Mat. vi. 22 : Christ would have the ' eye single/ that is, bounteous, 
not looking after the money we part with : so Eom. xii. 8, ' He that 
giveth, let him do it ev aTrXoryri,, with simplicity/ we read, but in the 
margin, ' liberally, or bountifully/ So Acts ii. 46, ' They did eat their 
bread with all singleness of heart ; ' that is, bounteously, liberally, as 
we translate the word in other places, as 2 Cor. viii. 2, ' The riches 
of your singleness,' we translate ' liberality : ' so 2 Cor. ix. 11, the 
same word is used for bounty ; and this word simplicity is so often put 
for 'bounty, to show (1.) That it must come from the free and single 
motion of our hearts ; as they that give sparingly give with a hand 
half shut and a heart half willing ; that is, not simply, with a native 
and free motion. (2.) That we must not give deceitfully, as serving 
our own ends, or with another intent than our bounty seemeth to hold 
forth : so God gives simply, that is, as David expresseth it, 2 Sam. 
vii. 21, according to his own heart. 

Andupbraideth no man. Here he reproveth another usual blemish 
of man's bounty, which is to upbraid others with what they have done 
for them, and that eateth out all the worth of a kindness : the laws 
of courtesy requiring that the receiver should remember, and the 
giver forget : 1 but God upbraideth riot. But you will say, what is the 
meaning then of those expostulations concerning mercies received? 
and why is it said, Mat. xi. 20, ' Then he began to upbraid the cities, 
in which many of his mighty works were done ' ? Because of this 
objection, some ^ expound this clause one way, some another; some 
suppose it implieth he doth not give proudly, as men use to do, up 
braiding those that receive with their words or looks : so God up 
braideth not, that is, doth not disdainfully reject the asker, or twit him 
with his unworthiness, or doth not refuse because of present failings, 

i 'Hsec beneficii inter duos lex est, alter oblivisci debet datistatim, alter accept! nun- 
quam.' Sen. de Beneficiis. 


or former infirmities. But I think it rather noteth God's indefati- 
gableness to do good : ask as oft as you will, he upbraideth you not 
with the frequency of your accesses to him : he doth not twit us with 
asking, though he twitteth us with the abuse of what we have re 
ceived upon asking. He doth upbraid, not to begrudge his own 
bounty, but to bring us to a sense of our shame, and to make us own 
our ingratitude. 

And it shall be given him. Besides the nature of God, here he 
urgeth a promise, ' Let him ask of God, and it shall be given him/ 
The descriptions of God help us to form right thoughts of him, and 
the promise, to fasten upon him by a sure trust. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That all men are concluded and shut up under an estate of 
lacking : ' If any of you.' This supposition, as we showed before, is 
a universal affirmative. God's wisdom suffereth the creatures to lack, 
because dependence begetteth observance; if we were not forced to 
hang upon heaven, and live upon the continued supplies of God, we 
would not care for him. We see this the less sensible men are of the 
condition of mankind, the less religious. Promises usually invite 
those that are in want, because they are most likely to regard them : 
Isa. Iv. 1. ' Ho, every one that thirsteth, and he that hath no money ; ' 
Mat. xi. 28, ' The weary and heavy laden.' In the 5th of Matthew, 
' The poor in spirit/ and ' they that hunger and thirst after righteous 
ness : ' being humbled by their own wants and needs, they are most 
pliable to God's offers. Well, then, do not think your lot is above the 
lot of the rest of the creatures. God only is avTap/cys, self-happy, self- 
sufficient; other things are encompassed with wants, that they may 
look after him: Ps. cxlv. 15, 16, 'The eyes of all things are upon 
thee, and thou satisfiest the desire of every living thing/ The crea 
tures are made up of desires, that their eyes may be upon God. 
Certainly they want most that want nothing : be sensible of your con 

Obs. 2. From that lack, want and indigence put us upon prayer, 
and our addresses to heaven begin at the sense of our own needs. 
The father should not have heard from the prodigal, had he not ' begun 
to be in want,' Luke xv. 16. Observe it : the creature first beginneth 
with God out of self-love. The first motive and allurement is the 
supply of our wants. But, remember, it is better to begin in the 
flesh and end in the spirit, than to begin in the spirit and end in the 
flesh. It is well that God sanctifieth our self-love to so blessed a 
purpose. If there had not been so many miseries, of blindness, 
lameness, possessions, palsies, in the days of Christ's flesh, there 
would not have been such great resort to him. The first motive is 

Obs. 3. From that wisdom, considered with respect to the con 
text ; and the note is, that there is need of great wisdom for the right 
managing of afflictions. Cheerful patience is a holy art and skill 
which a man learneth of God : ' I have learned to abound, and to be 
abased/ Phil. iv. 10. Such an hard lesson needeth much learning. 
There is need of wisdom in several respects : (1.) To discern of God's 
end in it, to pick out the language and meaning of the dispensation : 


Micah vi. 9, ' Hear the rod/ Every providence hath a voice, though 
sometimes it be so still and low that it requireth some skill to hear 
it. Our spirits are most satisfied when we discern God's aim in 
everything. (2.) To know the nature of the affliction, whether it be 
to fan or to destroy ; how it is intended for our good ; and what uses 
and benefits we may make of it : ' Blessed is the man whom thou 
chastisest, and teachest out of thy law/ Ps. xciv. 12. The rod is 
a blessing when instruction goeth along with it (3.) To find out 
your own duty ; to know the things of obedience in the day of them : 
' Oh ! that thou wert wise in this thy day/ Luke xix. 41. There are 
seasonable and proper duties which become every providence : it is 
wisdom to find them out ; to know what to do in every circumstance. 
(4.) To moderate the violences of our own passions. 1 He that liveth 
by sense, will, and passion, is not wise. Skill is required of us to 
apply apt counsels and comforts, that our hearts may be above the 
misery that our flesh is under. The Lord 'giveth counsel in the 
reins/ and that calmeth the heart. Well, then: (1.) Get wisdom, if 
you would get patience. Men of understanding have the greatest 
command of their affections. Our hastiness of spirit conieth from 
folly, Prov. xiv. 29 ; for where there is no wisdom, there is nothing 
to counterbalance affection. Look, as discretion sets limits to anger, 
so it doth to sorrow. Solomon saith, Prov. xix. 11, 'The discretion 
of a man deferreth his anger ; ' so it doth check the excesses of his 
grief. (2.) To confute the world's censure ; they count patience, sim 
plicity, and meekness under injuries, to be but blockishness and 
folly. No ; it is a calmness of mind upon holy arid wise grounds ; 
but it is no new thing with the world to call good evil, and to bap 
tize graces with a name of their own fancying. As the astronomers 
call the glorious stars bulls, snakes, dragons, &c., so they miscall 
the most shining and glorious graces. Zeal is fury ; strictness, 
nicety ; and patience, folly ! And yet James saith, * If any lack wis 
dom/ meaning patience. (3.) Would ye be accounted wise ? Show it 
by the patience and calmness of your spirits. We naturally desire to 
be thought sinful rather than weak. ' Are we blind also ? ' John ix. 40. 
We all affect the repute of wisdom, and would not be accounted 
blind or foolish. Consider, a man of boisterous affections is a fool, 
and he that hath no command of his passions hath no under 

Ols. 4. From that of God, in all our wants we must, immedi 
ately repair to God. The scriptures do not direct us to the shrines of 
saints, but to the throne of grace. You need not use the saints' inter 
cession ; Christ hath opened a way for you into the presence of the 

Obs. 5. More particularly observe, wisdom must be sought of God. 
He is wise, the fountain of wisdom, an unexhausted fountain. His 
stock is not spent by misgiving. See Job xxxii. 8, ' There is a spirit 
in man ; but the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding/ 
Men have the faculty, but God giveth the light, as the dial is capable 

1 ' Sapiens ad omnem incursum munitus et intentus, non si paupertas, non si ignonri- 
nia, non si dolor impetuna faciant, pedem referet ; iuterritus et contra ilia ibit et inter 
ilia.' Seneca. 


of showing the time of the day when the sun shineth on it. It is a 
most spiritual idolatry to * lean to our own understanding.' True 
wisdom is a divine ray, and an emanation from God. Men never 
obtain it but in the way of a humble trust. When we see our 
insufficiency and God's all-sufficiency, then the Lord undertaketh for 
us, to direct us and guide us : Prov. iii. 5, 6, ' Acknowledge the Lord 
in all thy ways, and he shall direct thy paths/ When men are con 
ceited, and think to relieve their souls by their own thoughts and 
care, they do but perplex themselves the more. God will be acknow 
ledged, that is, consulted with, in all our undertakings and conflicts, 
or else we shall miscarry. The better sort of heathens would not 
begin anything of moment without asking counsel at the oracle. As 
all wisdom is to be sought of God, so especially this wisdom, to bear 
afflictions. There is nothing more abhorrent from reason than to 
think ourselves happy in misery. We must go to another school 
than that of nature. I confess reason and nature may offer some 
rules that may carry a man far in the art of patience ; but what is an 
inferior or grammar school to a university ? The best way will be, 
not to go to nature, but Christ, ' in whom are hid all the treasures 
of wisdom and knowledge,' Col. ii. 3. 

Obs. 6. From that let him ask, God will have everything fetched 
out by prayer ; he giveth nothing without asking. It is one of the 
laws according to which heaven's bounty is dispensed : Ezek. xxxvi. 
37, ' I will be sought to by the house of Israel for this thing/ God 
will have us see the author of every mercy by the way of obtaining 
it. It is a comfort and a privilege to receive mercies in a way of 
duty; it is better to ask and not receive, than to receive and not ask. 1 
Prayer coming between our desires and the bounty of God is a 
means to beget a due respect between him and us: every audience 
increaseth love, thanks, and trust, Ps. cxvi. 1, 2. We usually wear 
with thanks what we win by prayer ; and those comforts are best im 
proved which we receive upon our knees. Well, then, wisdom and 
every good gift is an alms you have it for the asking. Mercies at 
'that rate do not cost dear. Oh ! who would not be one of that 
number whom God calleth his suppliants ? Zeph. iii. 10 ; of ' the 
generation of them that seek him ' ? Ps. xxiv. 6. 

Ols. 7. Asking yieldeth a remedy for the greatest wants. Men sit 
down groaning under their discouragements, because they do not look 
further than themselves. Oh ! you do not know how you may speed 
in asking. God humbleth us with much weakness, that he may put 
us upon prayer. That is easy to the Spirit which is hard to nature. 
God requireth such obedience as is above the power of our natures, 
but not above the power of his own grace. It was a good saying 
that, Da quodjubes, et jiibe quod vis Give what thou commandest, 
and command what thou wilt. If God command anything above 
nature, it is to bring you upon your knees for grace. He loveth to 
command that you may be forced to ask; and, indeed, if God hath 
commanded, you may be bold to ask. There is a promise goeth 
hand-in-hand with every precept : ( Let him ask/ 

Obs. 8. That giveth. God's dispensations to the creatures are car- 

1 Clem. Alex. lib. vii. Strom. 


ried in the way of a gift. Who can make God his debtor, ad 
vantage his being, or perform an act that may be obliging and 
meritorious ? Usually God bestoweth most upon those who, in the 
eye of the world, are of least desert, and least able to requite him. 
Doth not he invite the worst freely ? Isa. Iv. 1, 'He that hath no 
money, come and buy, without money and without price.' Nazianzen, 1 
I remember, notably improveth this place, co TT}? eu^oX/a? rov 
crvva\\dy]j,aTos Oh, this easy way of contract ! SlSao-iv ijSiov TJ 
\ayifi avow iv eiepoi he giveth more willingly than others sell ; WVLOV 
crol TO 6e\r/o-ai povov TO a^aOov if thou wilt but accept, that is all the 
price ; though you have no merits, nothing in yourselves to encourage 
you, yet will you accept? So in the Gospel, the blind and the lame 
were called to the wedding, Mat. xxii. Whatever is dispensed to 
such persons must needs be a gift. Well, then, silence all secret 
thoughts, as if God did see more in you than others, when he 
poureth out more of himself to you. Merit is so gross a conceit, that, 
in the light of the gospel, it dareth not appear in so many downright 
words ; but there are implicit whisperings, some thoughts which are 
verba mentis, the words of the mind, whereby we think that there is 
some reason for God's choice ; and therefore it is said, Deut. ix. 4, 
4 Say not in thy heart, For my own righteousness : ' as you dare not 
say it outwardly, so do not say it in your hearts. Be not conscious 
to the sacrilege of a privy silent thought that way. 

Obs. 9. To all men. The proposals of God's grace are very general 
and universal. It is a great encouragement that in the offer none are 
excluded. Why should we, then, exclude ourselves? Matt. xi. 28, 
4 Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden/ Mark, poor 
soul, Jesus Christ maketh no exceptions. He did not except thee that 
hast an heavy load and burden of guilt upon thy back : ' Come, all ye.' 
So here ; the lack is general, ' If any ; ' and the supply is general, ' He 
giveth to all men/ God never told thee that this was never intended 
to thee, and that thy name was left out of the Lamb's book. And it 
is a base jealousy to mistrust God without a cause. 

Obs. 10. From that liberally, God's gifts are free and liberal. 
Many times he giveth more than we ask, and our prayers come far 
short of what grace doth for us. There is an imperfect modesty in our 
thoughts and requests. We are not able to rise up to the just excess 
and infiniteness of the divine goodness. The apostle saith, God will 
' do above what we can ask or think,' Eph. iii. 20. As it is good to ob 
serve how the answers of prayer have far exceeded the desires of the 
creature, which usually are vast and capacious, let me give you some 
instances. Solomon asked wisdom, and God gave liberally ; he gave 
him wisdom, and riches, and honour in great abundance, 1 Kings iii. 
13. Jacob asked but food and raiment for his journey, and God multi- 
plieth him from his staff into two bands, Gen. xxviii. 20, with xxxii. 
10. Abraham asked but one son, and God gave him issue as the stars 
in the heavens, and the sand on the sea-shore. Gen. xv. with xxii. Saul 
came to Samuel for the asses, and he heareth news of a kingdom. The 
prodigal thought it much to be received as an hired servant, and the 
father is devising all the honour and entertainment that possibly he can 

1 Greg. Naz. Orat. 40, de Baptismo, circa med. 


for him the calf, the ring, the robe, &c., Luke xv. In Mat. xviii. 26, 
the debtor desired but forbearance for a little time : ' Have a little 
patience, and I will pay thee all : ' and in the next verse his master 
'forgave the debt.' Certainly God's bounty is too large for our 
thoughts. The spouse would be drawn after Christ, but the King 
brought her into his chambers, Cant. i. 4. David desired to be de 
livered out of the present danger : Ps. xxxi. 4, ' Pull me out of the 
net ; ' and God advanced him to honour and dignity : * Thou hast put 
my feet in a large room/ ver. 8. Well, then : (1.) Do not straiten God 
in your thoughts : * Open your mouths, and I will fill them,' Ps. Ixxxi. 
10. God's hand is open, but our hearts are not open. The divine 
grace, like the olive-trees in Zechariah, is always dropping ; but we 
want a vessel. That expression of the virgin is notable : Luke i. 46, 
' My heart doth magnify the Lord/ peyaXvvei, that is, make more 
room for God in my thoughts. When God's bounty is not only ever- 
flowing, but overflowing, we should make our thoughts and hopes as 
large and comprehensive as possibly they can be. When the King of 
glory is drawing nigh, they are bidden to set open the doors, Ps. xxiv. 
7. No thoughts of ours can search out God to perfection ; that is, 
exhaust and draw out all the excellency and glory of the Godhead ; 
but certainly we should rise and ascend more in our apprehensions. 
(2.) Let us imitate our heavenly Father, give liberally, avrXw? that 
is the word of the text with a free and a native bounty : give 
simply, not with a double mind. Some men have a backward and a 
close heart, liberal only in promises. Consider, God doth not feed 
you with empty promises. Others eye self in all their kindness, make 
a market of their charity; 1 this is not simply, and according to the 
divine pattern. Some men give grudgingly, with a divided mind, half 
inclining, half forbearing ; this is not like God neither. Others give 
in guile, and to deceive men ; 2 it is kindness to their hurt, %>a a^wpa, 
giftless gifts ; their courtesy is most dangerous. 3 Give like your 
heavenly Father, liberally, simply. 

Obs. 11. From that and upbraidetli not. Men are apt to do so, but 
God giveth in another manner. Observe from hence, First, in the 
general, that God giveth quite in another manner than man doth. It 
is our fault to measure infiniteness by our last, and to muse of God 
according as we use ourselves. The soul, in all her conclusions, is 
directed by principles and premises of sense and experience ; and 
because we converse with limited natures and dispositions, therefore 
we do not form proper and worthy thoughts of God. It was the gross 
idolatry of the heathens to ' turn the glory of the incorruptible God 
into the image of a man/ Rom. i. 23; that is, to fancy God according to 
the shape and figure of our bodies. And so it is the spiritual idolatry 
of Christians to fancy God according to the model and size of their own 
minds and dispositions. I am persuaded there doth nothing disadvan 
tage us so much in believing as this conceit that ' God is altogether 
like ourselves/ Ps. 1. 21. We, being of eager and revengeful spirits, 
cannot believe his patience and pardoning mercy ; and that, I suppose, 

TJ "X.O-PLV iroiovcriv.' Isocrates. 
2 ' Non est sportula quce negotiatur.' Martial. 
8 Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes. 


was the reason why the apostles (when Christ talked of forgiving our 
brother seven times in one day), cried out, Luke xvii. 5, ' Lord, in 
crease our faith/ as not being able to believe so great a pardoning 
mercy either in themselves or God. And therefore, also, I suppose it 
is that God doth with such veheinency show everywhere that his heart 
hath other manner of dispositions than man's hath : Isa. Iv. 8, 9, 'My 
thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways ; as far 
as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your 
thoughts : ' I am not straitened in bowels, nor hardened, nor implacable, 
as men are ; as there is a vast space and distance between the earth 
and the firmament, so between your drop and my ocean. So Hosea xi. 
9, ' I am God, and not man ; and therefore Ephraim shall not be de 
stroyed ; ' that is, I have not such a narrow heart, such wrathful im 
placable dispositions as men have. Well, then, consider^ when God 
giveth, he will give like himself. Do not measure him by the 
wretched straitness of your own hearts, and confine God within the 
circle of the creatures. It is said of Araunah that he gave as a king 
to David, 2 Sam. xxiv. 23. Whatever God doth, he will do as a God, 
above the rate and measure of the creatures, something befitting the 
infiniteness and eternity of his own essence. 

Obs. 12. From the same clause, upbraideth not, you may more 
particularly observe, that God doth not reproach his people with the 
frequency of their addresses to him for mercy, and is never weary 
doing them good. It is man's use to excuse himself by what he hath 
done already. They will recount their former favours to deny the 
present requests. Men's stock is soon spent ; they waste by giving, 
and therefore they soon grow weary. Yea, we are afraid to press a friend 
too much, lest, by frequent use, kindness be worn out. You know it 
is Solomon's advice, Prov. xxv, 17, ' Let thy foot be seldom in thy 
neighbour's house, lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee/ Thus 
it is with men ; either oat of penury or satiety, they are soon full of 
their friends. But oh ! what a difference there is between our earthly 
and our heavenly friend. The oftener we come to God, the welcomer ; 
and the more we ' acquaint ourselves with him/ the more ' good 
cometh to us/ Job xxii. 21. His gates are always open, and he is still 
ready to receive us. We need not be afraid to urge God to the next 
act of love and kindness : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' Who delivered us from so 
great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom we trust that he will yet 
deliver us.' One mercy is but a step to another, and if God hath, we 
may again trust that he ivitt. With men, renewed addresses and often 
visitings are but impudence, but with God they are confidence. God is 
so far from upbraiding us with what he hath done already, that his 
people make it their usual argument, ' He hath delivered me from the 
lion and the bear, therefore he shall from the uncircumcised Philistine/ 
1 Sam. xvii. 37. Well, then : (1.) Whenever you receive mercy upon 
mercy, give the Lord the praise of his unwearied love. When God 
promised to keep up honour upon honour, and privilege upon privilege 
on David and his line, David saith, 2 Sam. vii. 19, ' And is this the 
manner of man, Lord God ? ' Would man do thus ? Is this ac 
cording to his use and custom, to grant request after request, and to 
let his grace run in the same eternal tenor of love and sweetness ? 


Should we .go to man as often as we go to God, we should soon have a 
repulse, but we cannot weary infiniteness. (2.) If God be not weary of 
blessing you, be not you weary of serving him. Duty is the proper cor 
relate of mercy. God is not weary of blessing, so be not you ' weary of 
well-doing,' Gal. vi. 9. Let not your zeal and heat be spent, as his 
bounty is not. 

Obs. 13. From that and it shall be given him. Due asking will 
prevail with God. God always satisfieth prayer, though he doth not 
always satisfy carnal desires : ' Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, 
and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened to you,' Mat. vii. 7. 
If we do not receive at asking, let us go to seeking ; if not at seeking, 
let us go on to knocking. It is good to continue fervency till we have 
an answer. But you will say, Are these promises true ? The sons of 
Zebedee, they asked, and could not find, Mat. xx. 22. The foolish 
virgins, they knocked, and it was not opened to them, Mat. xxv. 8. So 
the church seeketh Christ :*Cant iii. 1, ' By night on my bed I sought 
him whom my soul loveth ; I sought him, and found him not.' How, 
then, can these words of Christ be made good? I shall answer by 
stating the general case. Prayers rightly qualified want not success ; 
that is, if they come from a holy heart, in a holy manner, to a holy 
purpose. I remember one prettily summeth up all the requisites of 
prayer thus, Si bonum petant boni, bene, ad bonum. 1 These are the 
limitations: (1.) Concerning the person. God looketh after, not only 
the property of the prayer, but the propriety and interest of the person. 
Our apostle, chap. v. 16, ' The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous 
man availeth much,' Se^crt? evepyov/^evrj a prayer driven with much 
force and vehemency ; but it must be of a righteous person. The 
Jews propound it as a known rule, John ix. 31, * God heareth not 
sinners.' It is so frequently inculcated in scripture, that they urge 
it as a proverb An unclean person polluteth his own prayers. But of 
this hereafter. (2.) That which they ask must be good : 1 John v. 
14, ' Whatever we ask according to his will, he heareth us/ It must 
be according to his revealed will, that is obedience ; and with submis 
sion to his secret will, that is patience neither according to our own 
lusts, nor our own fancies. To ask according to our lusts is an im 
plicit blasphemy, like Balaam's sacrifices, performed out of a hope to 
draw heaven into the confederacy of his cursed designs. And to make 
our fancy the highest rule is a presumptuous folly. God knoweth what 
is best for us. Like children, we desire a knife ; like a wise Father he 
giveth us bread. God always heareth his people when the request is 
good. But we must remember God must judge what is good, not we 
ourselves. There cannot be a greater judgment than always to have 
our own will granted. 2 (3.) We must ask in a right manner, with faith, 
as in the next verse ; with fervency, see chap. v. 16 ; with patience and 
constancy, waiting for God's time and leisure. God's discoveries of 
himself are not by-aiid-by to the creature. A sack stretched out con- 

1 Grotius in Annot. in Mat. xviii. 19. 

2 ' Sancti ad salutem per omnia exaudiuntur, sed non ad voluntatem, ad voluntatem 
etiam Dsemones exauditi sunt, etad porcos quos petiverant ire missi sunt.' Aug. in Epist. 
Johan. tract. 6. So also (Serm. 53, de Verbis Domini), ' Quid prosit medicus novit, non 


taineth the more ; and when the desires are extended and drawn out 
to God, the mercy is usually the greater : Ps. xl. 1, 'I waited patiently 
for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry/ God loveth 
to dispense mercies after our waiting. (4.) It must be ad lonum ; you 
must pray to a good end, with an aim and reference to the Lord's glory. 
There is a difference between a carnal desire and a gracious supplica 
tion : James iv. 3, ' You ask and have not, because you ask amiss, to 
spend it on your lusts/ Never let your requests terminate in self. That 
was but a brutish request, Exod. xvii. 2, ' Give us water that we may 
drink/ A beast can aim at self-preservation. Prayer, as every act of 
the Christian life, must have an ordination to God. Well, then, pray 
thus, and you shall be sure to speed. Carnal requests are often dis 
appointed, and therefore we suspect gracious prayers, and faith is 
much shaken by the disappointment of a rash confidence. Consider 
that, John xvi. 23, ' Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever you ask 
the Father in my name, he shall give it you/ Mark, Christ speaketh 
universally, ' whatsoever/ to raise our hopes ; earnestly, ' verily, 
verily/ to encourage our faith. We are apt to disbelieve such promises. 

Obs. 14. Lastly, from that it shall be given. He bringeth an 
encouragement not only from the nature of God, but the promise of 
God. It is an encouragement in prayer, when we consider there is 
not only bounty in God, but bounty engaged by promise. What good 
will the general report do without a particular invitation ? There is 
a rich King giveth freely ; ay ! but he giveth at pleasure ; no, he hath 
promised to give to thee. The psalmist argueth from God's nature, 
* Thou art good, and dost good/ Ps. cxix. 68. But from the promise 
we may reason thus, ' Thou art good, and shalt do good/ God at 
large, and discovered to you in loose attributes, doth not yield a suffi 
cient foundation for trust ; but God in covenant, God as ours. Well, 
then, let the world think what it will of prayer, it is not a fruitless 
labour : you have promises for prayer, and promises to prayer ; and 
therefore when you pray for a blessing promised, God doth, as it were, 
come under another engagement : ' Ask, and it shall be given/ 

Ver. 6. But let him ask in faith, nothing ivavering ; for he that 
wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the ivind and tossed. 

Here he proposeth a caution, to prevent mistakes about what he had 
delivered : every asking will not serve the turn ; it must be an asking 
in faith. 

But let him ask in faith. Faith may be taken (1.) For confidence 
in God, or an act of particular trust, as Eph. iii. 12 :' We have bold 
ness and access with confidence through the faith of him/ (2.) It may 
import persuasion of the lawfulness of the things that we ask for ; that is 
one acceptation of faith in scripture, Kom. xiv. 23 : ' Whatever is not 
of faith, is sin ; ' that is, if we practise it before we are persuaded of 
the lawfulness of it. Or, (3.) In faith, that is, in a state of believing ; 
for God will hear none but his own, those that have interest in Jesus 
Christ, ' in whom the promises are yea and amen/ 2 Cor. i. 20. All 
these senses are considerable, but I think the first is most direct and 
formal ; for faith is here opposed to doubting and wavering, and so 
noteth a particular act of trust. 

Nothing wavering, ^ev Siatcpivopwo?. What is this wavering f 


The word signifieth not disputing or traversing the matter as doubt 
ful in the thoughts. The same phrase is used Acts x. 20, * Arise, go 
with them, jArjSev Sia/cpivo/jLevos, nothing doubting ; ' that is, do not 
stand disputing in thy thoughts about thy calling and the good suc 
cess of it. The word is often used in the matter of believing ; as Rom. 
iv. 20, 'He staggered not through unbelief; in the original ov 
8iKpL0rj t 'He disputed not/ did not debate the matter, but settled 
his heart upon God's power and promise : Mat. xxi. 21 : 'If ye have 
faith, and doubt not, ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed 
into the depths of the sea/ &c. If they could but remove the anxious- 
ness and uncertainty of their thoughts, and settle their hearts upon 
the warrant, they should do miracles. 

For lie that doubtetli is like a wave of the sea, that is tossed to and 
fro. An elegant similitude to set out their estate, used by common 
authors in the same matter, 1 and by the prophet Isaiah, chap. Ivii. 
20. James saith here, the doubter, eouee K\vBa>vt,, is ' like a wave of 
the sea ; ' and the prophet saith of all wicked men, K\v8ovi(r6)ja-ovTat 
(as the Septuagint render it), ' These shall be like troubled waves, 
whose waters cannot rest/ 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That the trial of a true prayer is the faith of it. Cursory 
requests are made out of fashion, not in faith ; men pray, but do not 
consider the bounty of him to whom they pray : prayer is a means, 
not a task ; therefore, in prayer there should be distinct reflections 
upon the success of it. Well, then, look to your prayers ; see you put 
them up with a particular hope and trust ; all the success lieth on 
that : ' woman I great is thy faith ; be it to thee as thou wilt/ 
Mat. xv. 28 : God can deny faith nothing ; ' Be it to you as you will/ 
So Mark xi. 24, ' Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe 
that ye shall receive them, and ye shall have them/ Mark that, ' Be 
lieve, and ye shall have/ God's attributes, when they are glorified, 
they are exercised, and by our trust his truth and power is engaged. 
But you will say, How shall we do to pray in faith ? I answer There 
is something presupposed, and that is an interest in Christ. But that 
which is required in every prayer is : 

1. An actual reliance upon the grace and merits of Jesus Christ : 
Eph. ii. 18, ' Through him we have access with confidence unto the 
Father/ We cannot lift up a thought of hope and trust but by him. 
If you have not assurance, yet go out of yourselves, and look for your 
acceptance in his merits. Certainly this must be done ; none can pray 
aright but believers. How can they comfortably be persuaded of a 
blessing, that have never a promise belonging to them ? Therefore, 
at least you must honour Christ in the duty : you must see that such 
worthless creatures as you may be accepted in him : Heb. iv. 16, ' Let 
us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain 
mercy, and find help in time of need/ Through Christ we may come 
freely and boldly : I am a sinner, but Jesus Christ, my intercessor, is 
righteous. Men will say, they do not doubt of God, but of them 
selves : I am a wretched sinner, will the Lord hear me ? I answer 

1 ' Turbo quidam animos nostros rotat, et involvit f ugientes petentesque eadeni, et 
nunc in sublime allevatos, nunc in infima allisos rapit.' Seneca de Vita Beata. 


This is but Satan's policy to make us say we doubt of ourselves^ not 
of God ; for, in effect, it is a doubting of God ; of his mercy, as if it 
were not free enough to pardon and save ; of his power, as if it were 
not great enough to help. We must come humbly ; we are sinners : 
but we must come in faith also; Christ is a Saviour: it is our folly, 
under colour of humbling ourselves, to have low thoughts of God. If 
we had skill, we should see that all graces, like the stones in the 
building, have a marvellous symmetry and compliance one with 
another ; and we may come humbly, yet boldly in Christ. 

2. We must put up no prayer but what we can put up in faith : 
prayer must be regulated by faith, and faith must not wander out of 
the limits of the word. If you have a promise, you may be confident 
that your requests will be heard, though in God's season : you cannot 
put up a carnal desire in faith. The apostle's words are notably perti 
nent to state this matter : 1 John v. 14, ' This is the confidence that 
we have concerning him, that if we ask anything according to his will, 
he heareth us.' All things are to be asked in faith; some things 
absolutely, as spiritual blessings, I mean, as considered in their 
essence, not degree. Degrees are arbitrary. Other things condition 
ally, as outward blessings. Let the prayer be according to the word, 
and the success will be according to the prayer. 

3. The soul must actually magnify God's attributes in every prayer, 
and distinctly urge them against the present doubt and fear. Usually 
we do not doubt for want of a clear promise, but out of low thoughts 
of God ; we cannot carry his love, power, truth, above the present 
temptation, and believe that there is love enough to justify us from 
so many sins, power enough to deliver us from so great a death or 
danger, 2 Cor. i. 10 ; and bounty enough to bestow so great a mercy. 
This is to pray in faith, to form proper and right thoughts of God in 
prayer, when we see there is enough to answer the particular doubt 
and exigency : as Mat. viii. 28, 29, Jesus saith to the two blind men, 
' Believe ye that I am able to do this ? and they said, Yea, Lord : 
then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it unto 
you.' Christ asked first whether they had a right estimation of his 
power, and then, in the next place, he calleth it faith, and gave them 
the blessing. Those that come to God had need conceive rightly of 
him ; Christ requireth nothing more of the blind man but a sealing 
to the greatness of his power. 'Believest thou that I am able?' 
* Yea, Lord ; ' and that was all. But you will say, Tell us more dis 
tinctly, what faith is required in every prayer ? I answer The ques 
tion has been in a great part already answered. 

But, for further satisfaction, take these rules : [1.] That where we 
have a certain promise, we must no way doubt of his will ; for the 
doubt must either proceed from a suspicion that this is not the word 
or will of God, and that is atheism ; or from a jealousy that God will 
not. make good his word, and that is blasphemy ; or a fear that he is 
not able to accomplish his will, and that is downright distrust and 
unbelief. Therefore, where we have a clear sight of his will in the 
promise, we may have a confidence towards him, 1 John v. 14. 

[2.] Where we have no certain assurance of his will, the work of faith 
is to glorify and apply his power. Unbelief stumbleth most at that, 


rather at God's can than will ; as appeareth partly by experience. 
Fears come upon us only when means fail and the blessings expected 
are most unlikely ; which argueth that it is not the uncertainty of God's 
will, but the misconceit of his power, that maketh u doubt. The pre 
sent dangers arid difficulties surprise us with such a terror that we 
cannot comfortably use the help of prayer out of a faith in God's 
power : partly by the testimony of the scriptures. Search, and you 
shall find that God's power and all-sufficiency is the first ground and 
reason of faith. Abraham believed, because ' God was able to per 
form/ Kom. iv. 21. And that unbelief expresseth itself in such 
language as implieth a plain distrust of God's power ; as Ps. Ixxviii. 
19, ' Can the Lord prepare a table in the wilderness ?' It is not ivill, 
but can : 2 Kings vii. 2, ' If the Lord should open the windows of 
heaven, how can this be ?' So the Virgin Mary : Luke i. 34, ' How 
can these things be ? ' and so in many other instances. Men deceive 
themselves when they think they doubt because they know not the 
will of God : their main hesitancy is at his power. Look, as in the 
case of conversion, we pretend a cannot, when indeed we will not; l so, 
oppositely, in the case of faith, we pretend we know not God's will, 
when we indeed doubt of his can. Therefore the main work of your 
faith is to give him the glory of his power, leaving his will to himself. 
Christ putteth you, as he did the blind men (Mat. ix. 28), to the 
question, ' Am I able ?' Your souls must answer, * Yea, Lord.' And 
in prayer you must come as the leper : Mat. viii. 2, ' Lord, if thou 
wilt, thou canst make me clean/ Whether he grant you or not, 
believe ; that is, say in your thoughts, Lord, thou canst. 

[3.] In these cases, his power is not only to be glorified, but also his 
love. But you will say, in an uncertain case, How must we glorify 
his love? I answer Two ways; faith hath a double work. (1.) 
To compose the soul to a submission to God's pleasure. He is so 
good, that you may refer yourself to his goodness. Whether he grant 
or not, he is a wise God and a loving father, and will do what is best ; 
so that, you see, in no case we must dispute, but refer ourselves to 
God, as the leper was not troubled about God's will, but said, 'Lord, 
thou canst/ Cast yourselves upon his will, but conjure him by his 
power ; this is the true and genuine working of faith. When you 
dare leave your case with God's love, ' let him do what seemeth good 
in his eyes,' good he will do ; as in scripture the children of God in 
all temporal matters do resign themselves to his disposal, for they 
know his heart is full of love, and that is best which their heavenly 
Father thinketh best, and this taketh off the disquiet and perplexity of 
the spirit : Prov. xvi. 3, ' Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy 
thoughts shall be established/ They wait with serenity when they 
have committed their works to God's will with submission. (2.) To 
incline and raise the soul into some hope of the mercy prayed for. 
Hope is the fountain of endeavours, and we should neither pray nor 
wait upon God were it not that we may look up to him because there 
is hope, Lam. iii. 29. The hypocrite's prejudice was, * It is in vain 
to seek God/ Job xxi. 15. There are some particular promises, you 
know, concerning preservation in times of pestilence, oppression, 

1 ' Non posse praetenditur, non velle in causa est.' Seneca. 


famine, &c. (Mai. iii. 14), which, though they are not always made 
good in the rigour of the letter, yet they are in a great measure ful 
filled, and eVl TO TrXeto-roz^, for the most part take place. I say, though 
they are to be expounded with the exception and reservation of the 
cross (for God is no further obliged than he is obliged by the covenant 
of grace, and in the covenant of grace he hath still kept a liberty of 
' visiting their iniquity with rods,' Ps. Ixxxix. 33), yet because the 
children of God have many experiences of their accomplishment, they 
cannot choose but conceive some hope towards God, and incline rather 
to think that God will grant. The least that these promises do is to 
beget some loose hope, they being so express to our case, and being so 
often accomplished. Nay, how can we urge these in prayer to a good 
God, and not say, as David, ' Remember thy word unto thy servant, 
wherein thou hast caused rne to hope/ Ps. cxix. 49 ? I do not say we 
should prescribe to God, and limit his will to our thoughts, but only 
conceive a hope with submission, because of the general reservation 
of the cross. 

[4.] Some, that have more near communion with God, may have a 
particular faith of some particular occurrences. By some special 
instincts in prayer from the Spirit of God they have gone away and 
said with David, Ps. xxvii. 3, ' In this I will be confident/ I do 
not say it is usual, but sometimes it may be so ; we cannot abridge 
the Spirit of his liberty of revealing himself to his people. But, 
remember, privileges do not make rules ; these are acts of God's 
prerogative, not according to his standing law and rule. However, 
this I conceive is common : that, in a particular case, we may conceive 
the more hope, when our hearts have been drawn out to God by an 
actual trust ; that is, when we have urged a particular promise to God 
in prayer with submission, yet with hope ; for God seldom faileth a 
trusting soul. They may lay hold on God by virtue of a double 
claim ; partly by virtue of the single promise that first invited them 
to God, and then by virtue of another promise made to their trust ; 
as Isa. xxvi. 3, ' Thou keepest him in perfect peace who putteth his 
trust in^thee, because he trusteth in thee/ An ingenious man will not 
disappoint trust ; and God saith, eo nomine, for that reason, because 
they trust in him, he will do them good; therefore, now having 
glorified God's power, and with hope referred themselves to his will, 
they have a new argument of hope within themselves. It is notable 
that in Ps. xci. 2, 3, there is a dialogue between the Spirit of God and 
a believing soul. The soul saith, ' I will say of the Lord, he is my 
refuge and my fortress, my God ; in him will I trust/ There is a 
resolution of a humble and actual trust. The Spirit answereth, 
yer. 3, ' Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and 
from a noisome pestilence/ There is a promise under an averment, 
surely, which certainly would do nothing, if it did not at the least 
draw out the more hope. 

Thus I have given you my thoughts of this common and useful 
case, praying in faith. 

Obs. 2. From that nothing wavering, or disputing, as it is in the 
original, man's nature is much given to disputes against the grace 
and promises of God. The pride of reason will not stoop to a re vela- 


tion ; and where we have no assurance but the divine testimony, there 
we are apt to cavil. All doubts are but disputes against a promise ; 
therefore what is said in our translation, ' Lift up pure hands, without 
wrath and doubting' (1 Tim. ii. 8), is in the original %o>/ot? &aXo7io-//,ou, 
without reasoning or dispute. A sure word is committed to the 
uncertainty of our thoughts and debates, and God's promises ascited 
before the tribunal of our reason. Well, then, cast down those \OJLO-- 
povs, those imaginations, or reasonings rather (for so the word pro 
perly signifieth), which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God 
in Christ. Carnal reason is faith's worst enemy. It is a great advan 
tage when we can make reason, that is an enemy to faith, to be a 
servant to it; \oyi%a-6e, saith the apostle: Kom. vi. 11, ' Beckon, or 
reason yourselves to be dead to sin, and alive to God.' Then is our 
reason and discourse well employed, when it serveth to set on and urge 
conclusions of faith. 

Obs. 3. From the same That the less we doubt, the more we come 
up to the nature of true faith. The use of grace is to settle the heart 
upon God ; to be fast and loose argueth weakness : ' Why doubt ye, 
ye of little faith ?' I do not say it is no faith, but it is a weak 
faith : a trembling hand may hold somewhat, but faintly. Well, then, 
seek to lay aside your doubts and carnal debates, especially in prayer ; 
corne ' without wrath and doubting : ' without wrath to a God of peace, 
without doubting to a God of mercy. Do not debate whether it be 
better to cast yourselves upon God's promise and disposal, or to leave 
yourselves to your own. carnal care ; that is no faith when the heart 
wavereth between hopes and fears, help and God. Our Saviour saith, 
Luke xii. 29, fjurj f^erewpi^eo-de, ' Be not of doubtful mind, what ye 
shall eat and drink ; ' do not hang between two, like a meteor hovering 
in the air (so the word signifieth), not knowing what God will do for 
you. A thorough belief of God's attributes, as revealed in Christ, 
taketh off all disquiets and perplexities of spirit. Well, then, get a 
clear interest in Christ, and a more distinct apprehension of God's 
attributes. Ignorance perplexeth us, and filleth the soul with misty 
dark reasonings ; but faith settleth the soul, and giveth it a greater 

Obs. 4. From that like a wave of the sea, tossed to and fro, 
doubts are perplexing, and torment the mind. An unbeliever is like 
the waves of the sea, always rolling ; but a believer is like a tree, 
much shaken, but firm at root. We are under misery and bondage 
as long as we are tossed upon the waves of our own affections ; and 
till faith giveth a certainty, there is no rest and peace in the soul : 
* Keturn to thy rest, my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with 
thee/ Ps. cxvi. 7. Faith shedding abroad God's love in our sense 
and feeling, begetteth a calm : they that teach a doctrine of doubting 
exercent carnificinam animarum, saith Calvin they do but keep con 
science upon the rack, and leave men to the torment of their own dis 
tracted thoughts. Romish locusts are like scorpions (Rev. ix. 10), with 
' stings in their tails ; ' and ' men shall desire death' (ver. 6) that are 
stung with them. Antichristian doctrines yield no comfort and ease 
to the conscience, but rather sting it and wound it, that, to be freed 
from their anxiety, men would desire to die. Certainly there cannot 


be a greater misery than for man to be a burden and a terror to him 
self ; and there is no torment like that of our own thoughts. Well, 
then, go to God, and get your spirit settled : he that cherisheth his 
own doubts doth but hug a distemper instead of a duty. ^ 

Ver. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything 
of the Lord. 

Let him not think It is either put to show that they can look for 
nothing, nor rise up into any confidence before God ; he doth not say, 
' He shall receive nothing/ but * Let not that man think he shall 
receive;' whatever God's overflowing bounty may give them, they 
can expect nothing. Or else, ' Let not that man think/ to check 
their vain hopes. Man deceiveth himself, and would fain seduce 
his soul into the way of a carnal hope ; therefore, saith the apostle, 
'Let not that man think/ that is, deceive himself with a vain 

That he shall receive anything. Such doubting as endeth not in 
faith frustrateth prayers, and maketh them altogether vain and fruit 
less. There are doubts in the people of God, but they get the victory 
over them ; and, therefore, it is not to be understood as if any doubt 
did make us incapable of any blessing, but only such as is allowed 
and prevaileth. 

Of the Lord, irapa rov Kvplov ; that is, from Christ ; Lord, in 
the idiom of the New Testament, being most usually applied to him, 
as mediator ; and Christ as mediator is to commend our prayers to 
God, and to convey all blessings from God ; therefore, the apostle 
saith, 1 Cor. viii. 6, 'To us there is but one God, the Father of all, 
by whom are all things, and we in him ; and one Lord Jesus Christ, 
by whom are all things, and we by him.' The heathens, as they had 
many gods, many ultimate objects of worship, so they had many 
lords, many intermediate powers, that were to be as agents between 
the gods and men, to convey the prayers and supplications of men to 
the gods, and the bounty and rewards of devotion from the gods to 
men ; * But to us/ saith the apostle, ' there is but one God/ one 
sovereign God, ' the Father/ the first spring and fountain of blessings ; 
4 and one Lord/ that is, one Mediator, ' Jesus Christ, St ov ra Trdvra 
Kal rjfjieis Si avrov, by whom are all things ' which come from the 
Father to us, and by whom alone we find access to him. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That unbelievers, though they may receive something, yet 
they can expect nothing from God. Let him not think They are 
under a double misery :(!.) They can lift up no thoughts of hope 
and comfort, for they are not under the assurance of a promise. Oh, 
what a misery is this, to toil, and still to be left to an uncertainty 
to pray, and to have no sure hope ! When the task is over, they 
cannot look for acceptance or a blessing. The children of God are 
upon^ more sure terms : 1 Cor. ix. 26, ' I run not as uncertainly ; ' 
that is, not as one that is in danger or doubt of having run in vain. 
So Solomon saith, Prov. xi. 18, ' The righteous hath a sure reward ; ' 
they have God's infallible promise, and may expect a blessing ; but 
the wicked, whether they run or sit, they cannot form their thoughts 
into any hope ; whether they run, or sit still, they are in the same 


condition; 1 if they run, they run uncertainly; if they pray, they 
pray uncertainly ; like a slave that doth his task, and knoweth not 
whether he shall please ; so, when they have done all, they are still 
left to the puzzle and uncertainty of their own thoughts ; and indeed 
it is a punishment that well enough suiteth with their dispositions ; 
they pray, and do not look after the success of prayer ; they perform 
duties, and do not observe the blessing of duties, like children that 
shoot their arrows at rovers, with an uncertain aim, and never look 
after them again. Those that live best among carnal men, live by 
guess, and some loose devout aims. (2.) If they receive anything, 
they cannot look upon it as coming by promise, or as a return of 
prayers. When the children are fed, the dogs may have crumbs : all 
their comforts are but the spillings and overflowings of God's bounty. 
And truly this is a great misery, when we cannot see love in our 
enjoyments, and blessings are given us by chance rather than cove 
nant ; they cannot discern mercy and truth in any of their comforts, 
as Jacob did,' Gen. xxxii. 10. Well, then, let the misery of this con 
dition make us to come out of it ; get a sure interest in Christ, that 
you may be under a sure hope and expectation. Unbelief will always 
leave you to uncertainty ; doubting is a new provocation, and when a 
man maketh a supplication a provocation, what can he look for ? A 
man may be ashamed to ask God, that is so backward to honour him. 
Obs. 2. From the other reason of the words, let him not think. 
Men usually deceive themselves with vain hopes and thoughts : they 
are out in their thinking : Mat. iii. 9, ' Think not to say within your 
selves, We have Abraham to our father.' Carnal confidence is rooted 
in some vain principle and thought ; so men think God is not just, 
hell is not so hot, the devil is not so black, nor the scriptures so strict 
as they are made to be. The apostles everywhere meet with these 
carnal thoughts ; asl Cor. vi. 9, * Be not deceived; neither fornicators, 
nor adulterers, nor idolaters/ &c. They were apt to deceive them 
selves with some such hope ; so Gal. vi. 7, ' Be not deceived, God is 
not mocked.' Men are persuaded that if they can devise any shift to 
excuse themselves from duty, all will be well enough. God is not 
mocked with any pretences ; this is but a vain thought. Well, then, 
look to your privy thoughts. All corrupt actions are founded in some 
vain thought, and this vain thought is strengthened with some vain 
word ; therefore the apostle saith, Eph. v. 6, ' Let no man deceive 
you with vain words.' All practical errors are but a man's natural 
thoughts cried up for a valuable opinion, and they all tend either to 
excuse sin, or to secure us from judgment, or to seduce us into a vain 
hope ; and thus foolish man becometh his own cheater, and deceiveth 
himself with his own thinking. In all natural and civil things we 
desire to know the truth ; many do deceive, but none would willingly 
be deceived ; 2 but in spiritual things we think ourselves never more 
happy than when we have seduced our souls into a vain hope, or 
gotten them into a fool's paradise. 

1 ' T6 ffTdScov HfpiK\rjs dr, dr e/cdtfi/ro, 

OuSeis oldevoXws' Saiju.6ftos jSpaSi/rijs.' GTCEC. Epigram. 

2 ' Gaudium de veritate ormies volunt, multos expertus sum qui velint fallere, qui 
au tern f alii nerninem.' Aug. lib. a;. Confes. cap. 13. 


Obs. 3. From that, that lie shall receive. The cause why we 
receive not upon asking, is not from God, but ourselves ; he ' giveth 
liberally/ but we pray doubtingly. He would give, but we cannot 
receive. We see men are discouraged when they are distrusted, and 
suspicion is the ready way to make them unfaithful ; and, certainly, 
when we distrust God, it is not reasonable we should expect aught 
from him. Christ said to Martha, John xi. 40, ' If thou wouldst 
believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God ;' that is, power, love, 
truth, discovered in their lustre and glory. Omnipotency knoweth no 
restraint, only it is discouraged by man's unbelief; therefore it is 
said, Mark vi. 5, 6, ' And he could do no mighty work there, 
because of their unbelief ; ; he could not, because he would not, not 
for want of power in him, but for want of disposition in the people. 
So Mark ix. 22, 23 : the father cometh for a possessed child : 
* Master, if thou canst do anything, help us/ Christ answereth, f If 
thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth/ 
The distressed father saith, ' If thou canst do anything ; ' our holy 
Lord saith, ' If thou canst believe : ' as if he had said, Do not doubt 
of my power, but look to thy own faith ; I can, if thou canst. If we 
were disposed to receive as God is fitted to give, we should not be 
long without an answer. Omnipotent power can save to the utter 
most, infinite love can pardon to the uttermost, if we could but 
believe. ' All things are possible to him that believeth ; ' that is, God 
can do all things for the comfort and use of believers ; faith is his 
immutable ordinance, and he will not go out of his own way. Well, 
then, if you receive not, it is not for want of power in God, but want 
of faith in yourselves. 

Obs. 4. From that anything neither wisdom nor anything else 
that God thinketh the least mercy too good for unbelievers : he 
thinketh. nothing too good for faith, and anything too good for 
unbelief. It is observable, in the days of Christ's flesh, that faith was 
never frustrate ; he never let it pass without some effect ; nay, some 
times he offereth all that you can wish for : Mat. xv. 28, ' Great is 
thy faith ; be it to thee even as thou wilt.' Faith giveth Christ con 
tent, and, therefore, he will be sure to give the believer content ; 
crave what you will, and he will give it. But, on the contrary, * Let 
not that man think that he shall receive anything/ How are the 
bowels of mercy shrunk up at the sight of unbelief ! Believers shall 
have all things, and you nothing. 

Obs. 5. From that/row the Lord, that the fruit of our prayers 
is received from the hands of Christ ; he is the middle person by 
whom God conveyeth blessings to us, and we return duty to him. See 
John xiv. 13, ' Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, that 
will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son/ Mark, ' I will 
do it/ 1 Christ receiveth the power to convey the blessing ; we must 
ask the Father, but it cometh to us through him : and all this, not 
that the Father might be excluded, but glorified. We are unworthy 
to converse with the Father, therefore Christ is the true mediator. 
God is glorified when we come to him through Christ. In times of 

_ 'Mirum novumque dictu quod patri exhibeatur petitio et filius exaudiat, cum ex- 
auditio ad eum pertineat cui est porrecta petitio.' Simon de Cassia, lib. xiii. cap. 2. 


knowledge, God would have your thoughts in prayer to be more dis 
tinct and explicit ; you must come to the Father in the Son's name, 
and look for all through the Spirit : and as the Spirit worketh as 
Christ's Spirit, to glorify the Son, John xvi. 4, so the Son, he will 
give to glorify the Father. What an excellent ground of hope and 
confidence have we, when we reflect upon these three things in prayer 
the Father's love, the Son's merit, and the Spirit's power ! No man 
cometh to the Son but by the Father, John vi. 65 : no man cometh to 
the Father but by the Son, John xiv. 6 : no man is united to the Son 
but by the Holy Ghost : therefore do we read of ' the unity of the 
Spirit/ Eph. iv. 3. 

Ver. 8. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. 

He proceedeth to a general consideration of the unhappiness of un 
believers, and he saith two things of them that they are double- 
minded and unstable. Possibly there may be a secret antithesis, or 
opposition, between the temper of these men and what he had said 
before of God. God giveth a-TrAw?, with a single mind (ver. 5), and we 
expect with a double mind, our trust being nothing so sure as his 
mercy is free. But let us examine the words more particularly. 

A double-minded man, tyvyp<s avrjp. The word signifieth one that 
hath two souls ; and so it may imply (1.) A hypocrite, as the same 
word is used to that purpose, James iv. 8 : * Purify your hearts, ye 
double-minded/ Sfyv^oi,. As he speaketh to open sinners to cleanse 
their hands, so to close hypocrites (whom he there calleth double- 
minded, as pretending one thing and meaning another), to purify 
their hearts, that is, to grow more inwardly sincere ; and so it suiteth 
very well with that phrase by which the Hebrews express a deceiver : 
Ps. xii. 2, ' With a double heart do they speak : ' in the original, 
'With a heart and a heart,' which is their manner of expression 
when they would express a thing- that is double or deceitful, as divers 
or deceitful weights is a weight and a weight in the original, Prov. 
xx. 23. As Theophrastus saith of the partridges of Paphlagonia, that 
they had two hearts ; so every hypocrite hath two hearts or two souls. 
As I remember, I have read of a profane wretch that bragged he had 
two souls in one body, one for God, and the other for anything. 1 (2.) It 
implieth one that is distracted and divided in his thoughts, floating 
between two different ways and opinions, as if he had two minds, or 
two souls ; and certainly there were such in the apostle's days, some 
Judaising brethren, that sometimes would sort with the Jews, some 
times with the Christians, and did not use all due endeavours to be 
built up in the faith, or settled in the truth : as of ancient, long before 
this time, it is said of others, 2 Kings xvii. 33, ' They feared the Lord, 
and served their own gods;' they were divided between God and 
idols, which indifferency of theirs the prophet expresseth by a double 
or divided heart : Hosea x. 2, ' Their heart is divided, now shall they 
be found faulty.' Thus Athanasius applied this description to the 
Eusebians, 2 that sometimes held one thing, and anon another, that a 

1 * Professus est se habere duas animas in eodem corpore, unam Deo dicatam, alteram 
unicuique illam vellet.' Callenueius lib. v. Hist. Neap. 

2 The Arians, so called from Eusebius, the Arian Bishop of Nicomedia, who recanted 
and fell again to his heresy. Socrat. Scholast. lib. i. cap. 25. 


man could never have them at any stay or certain pass. (3.) And, more 
expressly to the context, it may note those whose minds were tossed 
to and fro with various and uncertain motions ; now lifted up with a 
billow of presumption, then cast down in a gulf of despair, being 
divided between hopes and fears concerning their acceptance with 
God. I prefer this latter sense, as most suiting with the apostle's pur 

Is unstable, a/carda-Taro?. Hath no constancy of soul, being as ready 
to depart from God as to close with him ; no way fixed and resolved 
in the religion he professeth. 

In all kis ways. Some apply it chiefly to prayer, because those that 
are doubtful of success often intermit the practice of it, regarding it 
only now and then in some zealous pangs, when conscience falleth 
upon them : but I suppose rather it is a general maxim, and that 
prayer is only intended by consequence, for the apostle saith, ' in all his 
ways/ Note, loay, by a known Hebraism, is put for any counsel, 
action, thought, or purpose ; arid so it implieth that all their thoughts, 
motions, and actions do float hither and thither continually. 
The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That unbelieving hypocrites are men of a double mind; 
they want the conduct of the Spirit, and are led by their own affec 
tions, and therefore cannot be settled : fear, the love of the world, 
carnal hopes and interests draw them hither and thither, for they have 
no certain guide and rule. It is said of godly men, Ps. cxii. 7, ' They 
shall not be afraid of evil tidings ; their heart is fixed, trusting in the 
Lord : ' they walk by a sure rule, and look to sure promises ; and there 
fore, though their condition is changed, their heart is not changed, for 
the ground of their hopes is still the same. Carnal men's hearts rise 
and fall with their news, and when affairs are doubtful, their hopes are 
uncertain, for they are fixed upon uncertain objects, 'They are con 
founded, for they have heard evil tidings,' saith the prophet, Jer, xlix. 
23 : upon every turn of affairs, they have, as it were, another heart 
and soul. That request of David is notable for the opening of this 
double mind, Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, 'Unite my heart to fear thy name/ The 
Septuagint read evworov T^V KapStav /^oO, ' make my heart one,' that is, 
apply it only and constantly to thy fear ; implying, that where men 
are divided between God and secular interests, they have, as it were, 
two hearts ; one heart inclineth them to a care of duty, the other heart 
discourageth them by fears of the world : the heart is not //-om^co? 
(which is Aquila's word in that place), after one manner and fashion. 
This double mind in carnal men bewrayeth itself two ways in their 
hopes and their opinions. (1.) In their hopes, they are distracted be 
tween expectation and jealousy, doubts and fears ; now full of confi 
dence in their prayers, and anon breathing forth nothing but sorrow 
and despair ; and possibly that may be one reason why the psalmist 
compareth the wicked to chaff, Ps. i. 4, because they have no firm 
stay and subsistence, but are driven to and fro by various and un 
certain motions, leading their lives by guess, rather than any sure aim. 
(2.) In their opinions, hypocrites usually waver and hang in suspense, 
being distracted between conscience and carnal affections ; their affec 
tions carry them to Baal, their consciences to God ; as the prophet 


saith to such men, 1 Kings xviii. 21, ' How long will ye halt between 
two opinions ? ' They are usually guilty of a promiscuous compliance, 
which, though used by them in carnal policy, yet often tendeth to their 
hurt ; for this indifferency is hateful to God and men. God loatheth 
it : Rev. iii. 15, ' I know thy works ; I would thou wert either hot or 
cold ; but because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will spue tliee out of 
my mouth/ Lukewarmness is that temper that is most ingrate to the 
stomach, and therefore causeth vomits : so are lukewarm Christians to 
God ; his ways are not honoured but by a zealous earnestness. And man 
hateth it. Solon did not judge him a good citizen that in a civil war 
took neither part; usually such middling men, 1 like those that come 
between two fencers, suffer on both sides. I confess, sometimes godly 
persons may be at a stand ; those that make conscience of things are 
not rash in choice, and therefore usually there is some hesitancy before 
engagement, which, though it be an infirmity, yet God winketh at it 
as long as they endeavour satisfaction : but certainly a child of God 
should not rest in such a frame of spirit : sincerity is much tried by 
an 'establishment in the present truth,' 2 Peter i. 12; that is, by up 
rightness in the controversies of our age and time. Antiquated 
opinions, that are altogether severed and abstracted from present 
interests, are no trial, therefore it is good to be positive and settled, 
v TTJ nrapovarj akrjdeiq, ' in the truth that now is/ I confess, such 
cases may happen, where the pretences of both sides are so fair, and 
the miscarriages so foul, that we know not which to choose ; and (as 
Cato said of the civil wars between Ca3sar and Pompey, quern fug iam 
video, quern sequar non video), we can better see whom to avoid, than 
whom to close with and follow ; and thereupon there may be hesitancy 
and indifferency ; but this is neither allowed for the present, nor con 
tinued out of interest, but conscience, and never descendeth to any 
base compliances for advantage. 2 

Obs. 2. That doubtfulness of mind is the cause of uncertainty in 
our lives and conversations. Their minds are double, and therefore 
their ways are unstable. First, there is (as Seneca saith), nusquam 
residents animi volutatio, uncertain rollings of spirit ; and then vita 
pendens, a doubtful and suspensive life. 3 For our actions do oft bear 
the imnge and resemblance of our thoughts, and the heart not being 
fixed, the life is very uncertain. The note holdeth good in two cases : 
(1.) In fixing the heart in the hopes of the gospel ; (2.) In fixing the 
heart in the doctrine of the gospel ; as faith sometimes implieth the 
doctrine which is believed, sometimes the grace by which we do believe. 4 
A certain expectation of the hopes of the gospel produceth obedience, 
and a certain belief of the doctrine of the gospel produceth constancy. 

1. None walk so evenly with God as they that are assured of the 
love of God. Faith is the mother of obedience, and sureness of trust 
maketh way for strictness of life. When men are loose from Christ, 
they are loose in point of duty, and their floating belief is soon dis 
covered in their inconstancy and unevenness of walking. We do not 

1 ''M^o-os air* a/j.<poTtpuv /ca/cws Tracrxei' Nazar. Orat. 13. 

2 ' Bonus jinimus nanquam erranti obsequium accommodat.' Ambros. 

3 Sen. lib. de Tranquill. 

4 ' Fides quse creditur, et fides qua creditur.' 


with any alacrity or cheerfulness engage in that of whose success we 
are doubtful ; l and therefore, when we know not whether God will 
accept us or no, when we are off and on in point of trust, we are just 
so in the course of our lives, serve God by fits and starts, only when 
some zealous moods and pangs come upon us. It is the slander 
of the world to think assurance is an idle doctrine. Never is the soul 
so quickened and enabled for duty as it is by ' the joy of the Lord : ' 
Neh. viii. 10, ' The joy of the Lord is your strength.' Faith, filling 
the heart with spiritual joy, yieldeth a strength for all our duties and 
labours ; and we are carried on with life and vigour when we have 
most lively apprehensions of the divine grace. 

2. None are so constant in the profession of any truth as they that 
are convinced and assured of the grounds of it. When we are but 
half convinced, we are usually unstable. I remember the apostle 
speaketh of a thing which he calleth 'IStov o-rrfpiypov, ' our own stead 
fastness/ 2 Peter iii. 17, ' Lest ye fall from your own steadfastness 
into the error of the wicked/ Every believer hath, or should have, a 
proper ballast in his own spirit, some solid, rational grounds that may 
stay and support him; otherwise, when the chain of consent is broken, 
we shall soon be scattered. So elsewhere a believer is bidden to ren 
der \6yov, ' a reason of the hope that is in him,' 1 Peter iii. 15; that is, 
those inward motives that constrained his assent to the truth. Thus also 
the apostle Paul chargeth us, 1 Thes. v. 21, first to ' prove all things,' 
and then to 'hold fast that which is good/ It is unsafe to engage till 
a full conviction, or to resolve without evidence, for there is no likeli 
hood of holding fast till we have proved. Well, then, labour to under 
stand the grounds of your religion. If you love a truth ignorantly, you 
cannot love it constantly. There is still a party left in the soul to 
betray it into the hands of the opposite error. To take up ways with 
out any trial is but a simple credulity, which will soon be abused and 
misled ; and to take up ways upon half conviction is hypocrisy, which 
by that other part of the mind not yet gained will be soon discovered. 
Look upon it, then, as brutish to follow the track, and base to profess 
before you are ascertained. 

Ver. 9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. 

The apostle having finished that necessary digression about prayer, 
returneth to the main matter in hand, which is bearing of afflictions 
with joy; and urgeth another reason in this verse, because, to be de 
pressed in ^ the world for righteousness' sake, is to be exalted towards 
God ; and in consideration of their spiritual comforts and privileges, 
they had rather cause to boast and glory than to be made sorry. Lot 
us see the force of the words. 

Let the brother ; that is, a Christian. The people of God are ex 
pressed by that term, because the truest friendship and brotherhood is 
inter bonos, among the good and godly. Combinations of wicked 
men are rather a faction and a conspiracy than a brotherhood ; there 
fore you find this in scripture notion always appropriated to the people 
of God. When it is said indefinitely ' a brother,' you may under 
stand a saint ; as here James doth not say ' a Christian/ but ' let 
the brother/ So Paul, 1 Cor. xvi. 20, ' All the brethren salute you ; ' 

1 C n/>oat/jec7is OVK ^artv aSwdrw.' Arist. Ethic. 


that is, all the saints. And sometimes it is expressed with this ad 
dition, * holy brethren/ 1 Thes. v. 27 ; whereas in the same place, in 
ver. 26, he had said, ' Greet all the brethren.' This loving compel- 
lation and use of calling one another brothers and sisters continued 
till Tertullian's time, as we showed before. 

Of loiv degree. In the original it is raTre^o?, which, as the Hebrew 
word "oy, signifieth both humble and base, the grace and the con 
dition, affliction and humility. It is here put for the condition, not 
the grace, and therefore we well render it ' of a low degree ; ' for it is 
opposed to the term ' rich ' in the next verse ; and so it is taken else 
where, as Prov. xvi. 19, * Better be of an humble spirit with the 
lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud/ By lowly he meaneth 
the lowly in condition, not in heart ; for it is opposed to ' dividing the 
spoil.' So Luke i. 48, * He hath regarded the low estate of his hand 
maid ; ' it is rrjv TcnreivuxTiv, the humility of his handmaid. The 
grace and the condition are expressed by the same term, because a 
low estate is the great engagement to a lowly heart. But remember, 
by low degree is not intended one that is poor simply, but one that is 
poor for Christ, as persecutions and afflictions are often expressed by 
the word humility and humiliation ; thus Ps. ix. 12, 13, ' He for- 
getteth not the cry of the humble ' the margin readeth afflicted ; 
and in ver. 13, ' Consider my trouble which I suffer from them that 
hate me ' in the original, my ' humiliation/ So here, aSeA</>o? 
Ta-Trai/o?, ' the humble brother ' is one that is humbled or made low 
by the adversaries of religion. 

Eejoice. In the original icav^da-Ow, ' boast ' or ' glory,' as it is in 
the margin. It is the highest act of joy; even when joy beginneth to 
degenerate, and pass the limits and bounds of reason. I say, it is the 
first degeneration of joy, and argue th the soul to be surprised with 
great excess and height of affection, for the next step beyond this is 
verily wicked. Joy beginneth to exceed when it cometh to exultation, 
but when it cometh to insultation, it is stark naught. Therefore, 
how should they boast or glory ? Is that lawful ? I answer (1.) It 
may be understood as a concession of the lesser evil, thus : Rather than 
murmur under afflictions, or faint under them, or endeavour to come 
out of them by ill means, you may rather boast of them ; rather than 
groan under them as a burden, you may boast of them as a privilege 
it is the lesser evil. Such concessions are frequent in scripture, as 
Prov. v. 19, ' Thou shalt err in her love ;' so in the original, and in the 
Septuagint, rfj $L\ia avr^ Trepifapo/jievos TroAAocrro? e'er??, * Thou shalt 
be overmuch in her love/ We translate, ' He shall be ravished with 
her love/ which certainly implieth an unlawful degree, for ecstasies 
and ravishments in carnal matters are sinful. How is it, then, to be 
understood? Doth the scripture allow any vitiosity and excess of 
affection ? No ; it is only a notation of the lesser evil. Eather than 
lose thyself in the embraces of an harlot, ' let her breasts satisfy 
be overmuch, or ' err in her love/ (2.) It may only imply the worth 
of our Christian privileges: let him look upon his privileges as 
matter of boasting. How base and abject soever your condition seem 
to the world, yet suffering for Christianity is a thing whereof you may 
rather boast than be ashamed. (3.) It may be the word is to be mol- 


lifted with a softer signification, as our translators, instead of ' let him 
boast' or glory, say, * let him rejoice,' though, by the way, there is 
no necessity of such a mitigated sense ; for the apostle Paul saith 
directly, in the same terms, Rom. v. 3, ' We boast, or glory, in tribu 
lations,' &c. But more of this in the observations. 

In that lie is exalted, ev reo in/ret avrov, in his sublimity. This 
may be understood two ways: (1.) More generally, in that he is a 
brother or a member of Christ, as the worth and honour of the spirit 
ual estate is often put to counterpoise the misery and obscurity of 
afflictions ; thus Rev. ii. 9, ' I know thy poverty, but thou art rich/ 
poor outwardly, but rich spiritually. (2.) More particularly, it may 
note the honour of afflictions, that we are thought worthy to be suf 
ferers for anything in which Christ is concerned, which is certainly a 
great preferment and exaltation. 
The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That the people of God are brethren. I observed it before, 
but here it is direct, ' Let the brother of low degree/ &c. They are 
begotten by the same Spirit, by the same immortal seed of the word. 
They have many engagements upon them to all social and brotherly 
affection. Jure matris naturce 1 (as Tertullian saith) by the common 
right of nature, all men are brethren. But, Vos mali fratres, quia 
parum homines (saith he to the persecutors) the church can ill call 
you brethren, because ye are scarce men. Well, then, consider your 
relation to one another. You are brethren, a relation of the greatest 
endearment, partly as it is natural not founded in choice, as friend 
ship, but nature ; partly as it is between equals. The respect between 
parents and children is natural ; but in that part of it which ascendeth 
from inferiors to superiors, there is more of reverence than sweetness. 
In equals there is (if I may so speak) a greater symmetry and propor 
tion of spirit, therefore more love. Ah ! then, live and love as brethren. 
Averseness of heart and carriage will not stand with this sweet rela 
tion. The apostle speaketh with admiration: 1 Cor. vi. 6, 'Brother 
goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers ! ' There are 
two aggravations one from the persons striving, brother with brother; 
the other, before whom they made infidels conscious of their conten 
tion. So Gen. xiii. 7, 8, ' And there was a strife between the herd- 
men of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle, and the 
Canaanite and Perizzite was yet in the land.' The Canaanite was yet 
unsubdued, ready to take advantage of their divisions, yet they strove. 
But see how Abram taketh up the matter. ' We be brethren, let 
there be no more strife/ Oh ! consider, no discords are like those of 
brethren. The nearer the union, the greater the separation upon a 
breach ; for natural ties being stronger than artificial, when they are 
once broken they are hardly made up again ; as seams when they are 
ripped may be sewed again, but rents in the whole cloth are not so 
easily remedied. And so Solomon saith, Prov. xviii. 19, 'A brother 
offended is harder to be won than a strong city : their contentions 
are like the bars of a castle ; ' that is, they are as irreconcilable as 
a strong castle is impregnable. But this is not all that is required, 
as to avoid what misbecometh the relation, but we must also practise 

1 Tertul. in Apol. cap. 39. 


the duty that it enforceth. There should be mutual endeavours for 
each others' good : Ps. cxxii. 8, ' For my brethren and companions' 
sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee ; ' that is, because of the re 
lation, he would be earnest with God in prayer for their welfare. 

Obs. 2. The brother of low degree. He saith of low degree, and yet 
brother. Meanness doth not take away church relations. Christian 
respects are not to be measured by these outward things ; a man is 
not to be measured by them, therefore certainly not a Christian, I 
had almost said, not a beast. We choose a horse sine phaleris et 
ephippio, by his strength and swiftness, not the gaudiness of his trap 
pings : that which Christians should look at is not these outward 
additaments, but the eminency of grace : James ii. 1, ' Have not the 
faith of our Lord Jesus Christ in respect of persons ; ' that is, do not 
esteem their grace according to the splendour or meanness of the out 
ward state and condition. Despising the poor is called a despising 
the church of God : 1 Cor. xi. 22, ' Have ye not houses to eat and 
drink in ? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that 
have not ? ' At their love feasts they were wont to slight the poor, 
and discourage those that were not able to defray part of the charge, 
which, the apostle saith, is a despising the church that is, those that 
are members of Christ and the church, as well as themselves ; x for he 
doth not oppose eKK\7]a-iai> to oiicov, as a public place to a private, but 
a public action to a private action ; as if he had said thus : In your 
houses you have a liberty to invite whom you please, but when you 
meet in a public assembly, you must not exclude such a considerable 
part of the church as the poor are. 

Obs. 3. Again, from that the brother of a low degree. Not a man 
of low degree, but a brother. It is not poverty, but poor Christianity 
that occasioneth joy and comfort. Many please themselves because 
they suffer afflictions in this world ; and therefore think they should 
be free in the world to come, as many ungodly poor men think death 
will make an end of their troubles, as if they could not have two hells. 
Oh ! consider, it is not mere meanness that is a comfort ; the brother 
only can rejoice in his misery and low estate. You shall see it is said, 
Exod. xxiii. 3, * Thou shalt not countenance a poor man in his cause : ' 
a man would have thought it should have been rather said, ' the rich ; ' 
but there is a foolish pity in man, and we are apt to say, he is a poor 
man, and so omit justice. Well, then, God, that condemneth it in man, 
will not pity you for your mere poverty : Mat. v. 3, ' Blessed are the 
poor in spirit ; ' mark that irvev^aTi, in spirit, not in purse. Many 
men's sufferings here are but the pledges and prefaces of future misery, 
the ' beginning of sorrows/ Mat. xxiv. 8. For the present your families 
are full of wants, your persons oppressed with misery and reproach, 
but all this is but a shadow of hell that cometh after ; every Lazarus 
is not carried into Abraham's bosom ; you may be miserable here and 
hereafter too ; God will not pity you because of your suffering, but 
punish you rather, for these give you warning. Oh ! consider, then, is 
it not sad to you, when you see the naked walls, the ragged clothes, 
and hear the cries of the hungry bellies within your families, you your- 

i See Spanhemius in his Dubia Evanyelica, part iii. dub. 77, largely discussing this 


selves much bitten and pinched with want, and become the scorn and 
contempt of those that dwell about you ? Ay ! but it will be more 
sad to consider that these are the beginnings of sorrows ; you cry for 
a bit now, and then you may howl for a drop to cool your tongue ; 
now you are the scorn of men, then the scorn of God, men, and angels. 
Oh ! be wise ; now you may have Christ as well as others ; as the poor 
and rich were to pay the same ransom to make an atonement for their 
souls, Exod. xxx. 15 : but if not, you will perish as well as others ; as 
God will not favour the rich, so he will not pity the poor. 

Obs. 4. From the word raTreo/o? it signifieth both humble, and of 
loiv degree observe, that the meanest have the greatest reason and 
engagement to be humble ; their condition always maketh the grace 
in season poverty and pride are most unsuitable. It was one of 
Solomon's odd sights, Eccles. x. 7, to see ' servants on horseback, and 
princes going on foot/ A poor proud man is a prodigy and wonder 
of pride ; he hath less temptation to be proud, he hath more reason to 
be humble. Nebuchadnezzar was more excusable, for he had a great 
Babel, and that was a great temptation. Besides what should be in 
your affections, there is somewhat in your condition to take down the 
height of your spirits : it is not fit for those of the highest rank to turn 
fashionists, and display the ensigns of their own vanity ; but when 
servants and those of a low degree put themselves into the garb, it is 
most intolerable. But alas ! thus we often find it ; men usually walk 
unsuitably to their condition, as if they would supply in pride what 
is lacking in estate and sufficiency ; whereas others that excel in 
abilities are most lowly in mind, as the sun at highest casteth least 

Obs. 5. Again, from that of low degree. God may set his people in 
the lowest rank of men. A brother may be rdireivo^, base and abject, 
in regard of his outward condition. ' The Captain of salvation/ the 
Son of God himself, was, Isa. liii. 3, ' despised and rejected of men ; ' 
as we render it in the original, chadal ischim, desitio virorum,ihatis, 
the leaving-off of men ; implying that he appeared in such a form 
and rank that he could scarce be said to be man, but as if he were to 
be reckoned among some baser kind of creatures ; as Ps. xxii. 6, 
David saith, as a type of him, * I am a worm, and no man ; ' rather 
to be numbered among the worms than among men, of so miserable a 
being that you could scarce call him man; rather worm, or some 
other notion that is fittest to express the lowest rank of creatures. 
Well, then, in the greatest misery say, I am not yet beneath the con 
dition of a saint a brother may be base and abject. 

^ Obs. 6. From that let the brother of low degree glory. That the 
vilest and most abject condition will not excuse us from murmuring : 
though you be Tdireivos, base, yet you may rejoice and glory in the 
Lord. A man cannot sink so low as to be past the help of spiritual 
comforts. In 'the place of dragons' there is somewhat to check 
murmurings, somewhat that may allay the bitterness of our condition, 
if we had eyes to see it : though the worst thing were happened to 
you, poverty, loss of goods, exile, yet in all this there is no ground of 
impatiency : the brother of low degree may pitch upon something in 
which he may glory. Well, then, do not excuse passion by misery, 


and blame your condition when you should blame yourselves : it is 
not your misery, but your passions, that occasion sin ; wormwood is 
not poison. But alas ! the old Adam is found in us : ' The woman, 
which thou gavest me, gave me, and I did eat/ We blame provi 
dence when we should smite upon our own thighs. It is but a fond 
excuse to say, Never such sufferings as mine : Lam. i. 12, ' Is there 
any sorrow like unto my sorrow ? ' Men pitch upon that circumstance, 
and so justify their murmurings. But remember, the greatness of 
your sufferings cannot give allowance to the exorbitancies of your 
passions : the low degree hath its comforts. 

Obs. 7. From that rejoice, or glory, or boast. There is a concession 
of some kind of boasting to a Christian ; he may glory in his privileges. 
To state this matter, I shall show you : 

1. How he may not boast. (1.) Not to set off self, self-worth, self- 
merits ; so the apostle's reproof is just, 1 Cor. iv. 7, ' Why dost thou 
glory ' (the same word that is used here) ' as if thou hadst not received 
what thou hast ? ' That is an evil glorying, to glory in ourselves, as if 
our gifts and graces were of our own purchasing, and ordained for the 
setting off of our own esteem ; all such boasting is contrary to grace, 
as the apostle saith, Rom. iii. 27, flou ovv r) Kavxrja-is, ' Where is 
boasting? It is excluded by grace.' (2.) Not to vaunt it over others ; 
the scripture giveth you no allowance to feed pride : it is the language 
of hypocrites, Isa. Ixv. 5, ' Stand by thyself ; I am holier than thou/ 
To despise others, as carnal, as men of the world, and to carry our 
selves with an imperious roughness towards them, it is a sign we 
forget who made the difference. The apostle chideth such kind of 
persons, Rom. xiv. 10, TL efou&z/efc, 'Why dost thou set at naught thy 
brother?' Tertullian readeth it, Cur nullificasf why dost thou 
nothing him? He that maketh nothing of others, forgetteth that 
God is ' all in all ' to himself. Grace is of another temper : Titus iii. 
3, ' Show meekness to all men, for we ourselves in times past were 
foolish and disobedient/ So think of what you are, that you may not 
forget what you were, before grace made the distinction. 

2. How he may boast. (1.) If it be for the glory of God, to exalt 
God, not yourselves : Ps. xxxiv. 2, ' My soul shall make her boast of 
God ; ' of his goodness, mercy, power. This is well, when we see we 
have nothing to boast of but our God ; neither wealth, nor riches, nor 
wisdom, but of the Lord alone : Jer. ix. 23, 24, ' Let not the wise 
man glory in his wisdom, nor the mighty man glory in his strength ; 
but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he knoweth me, saith the 
Lord/ This doth not only quicken others to praise him, but argueth 
much affection in yourselves ; as, when we prize a thing, we say we 
have nothing to glory of but that ; so it is a sign the soul sets God 
above all when it will glory in none other. (2.) To set out the worth 
of your privileges. The world thinketh you have a hard bargain to 
have a crucified Christ ; glory in it. Thus Rom. v. 3, ' We glory in 
tribulations/ The apostle doth not say, We must glory or boast of our 
tribulations or sufferings, but glory in tribulations. There is poor 
comfort in offering our bodies to the idol of our own praise, and to 
affect a martyrdom to make way for our repute or esteem, that we 
may have somewhat whereof to boast ; that is not the apostle's mean- 


ing. But this glorying is to let the world know the honour we put 
upon any engagement for Christ, and that they may know we are not 
ashamed of our profession, when it is discountenanced and persecuted. 
The apostle Paul is excellently explained by the apostle Peter : 1 Peter 
iv. 16, 'If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but 
let him glorify God in this behalf.' They think it is a disgrace, and 
you think it is a glory to surfer for Christ. Look, as divines say, in the 
case of eyeing the reward ; then it is done most purely when it is done to 
extenuate the temptation by the esteem and presence of our hopes, as 
Christ counted it a light shame, in comparison of ' the joy set before 
him/ Heb. xii. 2 ; and Moses the treasures of Egypt nothing in com 
parison of the recompense of reward, Heb. xii. 26. So, here, in 
this cause you may glory, that is, to counterbalance the shame of the 
world with the dignity of your profession and hopes. Well, then, 
you see how you may glory, to declare your valuation and esteem of 
God and his ways. 

Obs. 8. From that he is exalted. That grace is a preferment and 
exaltation ; even those of low degree may be thus exalted. All the 
comforts of Christianity are such as are riddles and contradictions 
to the flesh : poverty is preferment ; servants are freemen, the Lord's 
freemen, 1 Cor. vii. 22. The privileges of Christianity take off all 
the ignominy of the world. Christian slaves and vassals are yet 
delivered from the tyranny of Satan, the slavery of sin ; therefore he 
saith they are ' the Lord's freemen/ So James ii. 5, ' Hath not God 
chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith ? ' Spiritual treasure 
and inward riches are the best. A Christian's life is full of mysteries ; 
poor, and yet rich, base, and yet exalted ; shut out of the world, and 
yet admitted into the company of saints and angels ; slighted, yet dear 
to God ; the world's dirt, and God's jewels. In one place it is said, 
1 Cor. iv. 13, ' We are counted as the scurf and off-scouring of the 
earth ; ; and in another, Mai. iii. 17, ' I will make up my jewels.' 
Not a foot of land, yet an interest in the land of promise, a share in 
the inheritance of the saints in light ; you see everything is amply 
made up in another way. Do but consider the nature of your privi 
leges, and you cannot but count them a preferment. You are called to 
be ' sons of God : ' John i. 12, ' He vouchsafed them egovalav, the 
privilege or prerogative to become the sons of God ;' so also, * members 
of Christ/ and what a door of hope doth that open to you ; so also 
' heirs of the promises/ 'joint-heirs with Christ/ Rom. viii. 17 ; so also 
' partakers of the divine nature/ 2 Peter i. 4 : and what a privilege is 
that, that we should be severed from the vile world, and gilded with 
glory, when we might have stood like rotten posts ! that we should be 
united to Christ, when, like dried leaven, 1 we might have been driven 
to and fro throughout the earth. Well, then : 

1. Never quarrel with providence. Though you have not other 
things, rejoice in this, that you have the best things. Sole adoption is 
worth all the world. Do not complain that you have not the gold, 
if you have the kiss. I allude to that known story in Xenophon. 
Never envy the world's enjoyments, no, though you see men wicked 
and undeserving. To murmur under any such pretence is but dis- 

1 Qu. ' leaves ' ? ED. 


guised envy. Consider God hath called you to another advancement. 
You sin against the bounty of God if you do not value it above all 
the pomp and glory of the creatures. They are full and shining, but 
your comforts are better and more satisfying : 1 Tim. vi. 6, ' Godliness 
with contentment is great gain ; ' or it may be read, ' Godliness is 
great gain with contentment/ in opposition to worldly gain. Men 
may gain much, but they are not satisfied ; but godliness is such a 
gain as bringeth contentment and quiet along with it ; for I suppose 
that place of the apostle is parallel to that of Solomon : Prov. x. 22, 
' The blessing of God maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.' 

2. Eefresh your hearts with the sense of your privileges. You that 
are the people of God are exalted in your greatest abasures. Are you 
naked ? You may be ' arrayed in tine linen/ Kev. xix. 8, which is 
' SiKaKOfAara, the righteousnesses of the saints : ' that plural word im- 
plieth justification and sanctification. Are you hungry ? God's moun 
tain will yield you ' a feast of fat things, a feast of wines upon the lees 
well refined/ Isa. xxv. 6 : wines on the lees are most generous and 
sprightly. Are you thirsty ? You have ' a well of water springing 
up to everlasting life/ John iv. 14. Are you base ? You have glory, 
you have a crown. The word useth these expressions to show that 
all your wants are made up by this inward supply. 

Obs. 9. Observe more particularly, that the greatest abasures and 
sufferings for Christ are an honour to us : Acts v. 41, ' They rejoiced 
they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name/ It was an 
act of God's grace to put this honour upon them. Well, then, do not 
look upon that as a judgment which is a favour. Reproaches for 
Christ are matter of thanksgiving rather than discontent. In ordi 
nary sufferings God's people have this comfort, that as nothing cometh 
without merit, so nothing goeth away without profit. But here, what 
ever is done to them is an honour, and an high vouchsafement. Oh ! 
how happy are the people of God, that can suffer nothing from God or 
men, but what they may take comfort in ! 

Ver. 10. But the rich, in that he is made low ; because as the flower 
of ike grass he shall pass away. 

He taketh occasion from the former exhortation, which pressed to 
rejoice in miseries, to speak of the opposite case, prosperity. Some 
suppose the words to be an irony, 1 wherein the apostle discovereth his 
low conceit of worldly glory : all their exaltation is humiliation ; and 
therefore, if he will glory, let him glory in his vileness, and the un- 
settledness of his condition. That is all they can boast of a low en 
joyment that may be soon lost. But I suppose it is rather a direction ; 
for he speaketh by way of advice to the rich Christian or brother, 
which will appear more fully by a view of the words. 

But the rich. It noteth the noble, the honourable, those that are 
dignified with any outward excellency, more especially those that did as 
yet remain untouched or unbroken by persecution. Some observe he 
doth not say ' the rich brother/ as before, * the brother of low degree/ 
but only generally ' the rich.' Few of that quality and rank give their 
names to Christ. But this may be too curious. 

In that, &c. You see here wanteth a verb to make the sense entire 

1 Tho. Lyra. 


and full. What is to be understood ? (Ecumenius saith 
1 Let him be ashamed/ considering the uncertainty of his estate ; others, 
much to the same sense, raireLvovo-dw, let hhn^be humbled in that he 
is made low, as if the opposite word to Kav^acrdw^ were to be intro 
duced to supply the sense. So it would be a like speech with that, 1 
Tim. iv. 3, where in the original it runneth thus, KCO^VOVTCOV ja/jielv KOI 
aTreyeaOai T&V Ppwpdrcov, 'forbidding to marry, and to abstain from 
meats; 'where there is a defect of the contrary word 'commanding/ 
which we in our translation supply, and read, ' forbidding to marry, and 
commanding to abstain from meats/ as Epiphanius, citing that place, 
readeth it with that addition, /cco\v6i>ra)v ja/^elv KOI Kekevbwrwv cnrtyza-- 
Qai BwJLaTwv. So 1 Tim. ii. 12, ' I suffer not a woman to teach, but to 

be in silence.' The opposite word to suffer not, or forbid, is under 
stood, that is, ' I command her to be in silence.' So here, ' Let the 
brother of low degree glory in that he is exalted ; ' and then ' the rich 
be humbled in that he is made low. 1 Many go this way. But this 
seemeth somewhat to disturb the series and order of the words. I 
always count that the best sense which runneth with a smooth plain 
ness ; therefore I rather like the opinion of others who repeat Kav^aaOw^ 
used in the former verse, ' Let him rejoice, the poor man, in that^he is 
spiritually exalted ; the rich in that he is spiritually humbled.' So 
that grace maketh them both even and alike to God, and in regard of 
divine approbation they stand upon the same level the poor that is 
too low he is exalted, the rich that is too high he is humbled ; which 
to both is matter of glory or joy. 

He is made low. Some say outwardly and in providence, when his 
crown is laid in the dust, and he is stripped of all, and brought into 
the condition of the brother of low degree. But this is not so proper ; 
for the apostle speaketh of such a making low as will consist with his 
being rich ; made low whilst vrXoimo?, rich, and high in estate and 
esteem. Some more particularly say, therefore made low, because, 
though honourable for riches, yet, because a Christian, no more esteemed 
than if poor, but accounted base and ignominious. But this doth not 
suit with the reason at the end of the verse, ' because as the flower of 
the field he shall pass away/ More properly, then, it is understood of 
the disposition of the heart, of a low mind in a high condition ; and so 
it noteth either such humility as ariseth from the consideration of our 
own sinfulness (they are happy indeed whom God hath humbled with 
a sense of their sins), or from a consideration of the uncertainty of all 
worldly enjoyments. When our hearts are drawn from a high esteem 
of outward excellences, and we live in a constant expectation of and 
preparation for the cross, we may be said to be made low, though 
never so much exalted, which I suppose is chiefly intended, and so it 
suiteth with the reason annexed, and is parallel with that of the 
apostle : 1 Tim. vi. 17, ' Charge the rich men of this world that they 
be not high-mir ded, and trust not in uncertain riches.' The meaning is, 
that the glory of their condition is, that when God hath made them 
most high, they are most low in their own thoughts. 

Because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. He ren- 
dereth a reason why they should have a lowly mind in the midst of 
their flourishing and plenty, because the pomp of their condition is but 


as a flower of the field, which fadeth as soon as it displayeth its glory. 
The similitude is often used in scripture : Ps. xxxvii. 2, ' They shall 
soon be cut down as the grass, and wither as the green herb ; ' so 
Job xiv. 2, ' He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down ; ' so Isa. 
xl. 6, 7, ' All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of 
the field. The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, because the 
Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it ;' so also in many other places. I 
shall improve the similitude in the notes. Only observe here, that 
the apostle doth not say that his riches shall pass away as a flower, 
but he shall pass away, he and his riches also. If we had a security of 
our estate, we have none of our lives. We pass and they pass, and 
that with as easy a turn of providence as the flower of the field fadeth. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. Riches are not altogether inconsistent with Christianity. 
' Let the rich/ that is, the rich brother. Usually they are a great 
snare. It is a hard matter to enjoy the world without being en 
tangled with the cares and pleasures of it. The moon never suffereth 
eclipse but when it is at the full ; and usually in our fulness we mis 
carry ; and therefore our Saviour saith, Mat. xix. 24, * It is easier 
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to 
enter into the kingdom of God.' It is a Jewish proverb to note an 
impossibility. Rich men should often think of it. A camel may as 
soon go through a needle's eye, as you enter into the kingdom of God. 
That were a rare miracle of nature, indeed, to see a camel or an ele 
phant to pass through a needle's eye ; and it is as rare a miracle of 
grace to see a rich man gained to Christ and a love of heaven. Of all 
person sin the world, they are least apprehensive of spiritual excel 
lences. Christ himself came inpoverty, in a prejudice, as it were, to 
them that love riches. Plato, an heathen, saith the same almost with 
Christ, that it is impossible for a man to be eminently rich and emi 
nently good. 1 The way of grace is usually so strait, that there is 
scarce any room for them that would enter with their great burthens 
of riches and honour. 2 But you will say, What will you have 
Christians to do then? In a lavish luxury to throw away their 
estates ? or in an excess of charity to make others full, when themselves 
are empty ? I answer No ; there are two passages to mollify the 
rigour of our Lord's saying. One is in the context, * With God all things 
are possible,' Mat. xix. 26. Difficulties in the way to heaven serve to 
bring us to a despair of ourselves, not of God. He can loosen the heart 
from the world, that riches shall be no impediment ; as Job by provi 
dence was made eminently rich, and by grace eminently godly ' none 
like him in all the earth/ Job i. 8. The other passage is in Mark x. 
23, 24, ' Jesus said, How hard is it for them that have riches to enter 
into the kingdom of God ! And the disciples were astonished at his 
words ; but Jesus answereth again, How hard is it for them that trust 
riches to enter into the kingdom of God ! ' It is not the having, but 
the trusting. Riches in the having, in the bare possession, are not a 
hindrance to Christianity, but in our abuse of them. The sum of all 

1 ( 'Aya6bv t>vra 5ta0e/>6irws /cai TrXo&rtoi' elvai Sia0e/>6i'Tc<JS ddvvarov.' Plato. 

2 ' Non possunt in coelum aspicere, quoniam mens eorum in humum prona, terraeque de- 
fixa est; virtutis autem via non capit magna onera portantes.' Lactant. lib. sept. 


is, it is impossible to trust in riches and enter into the kingdom of 
God, and it to us is impossible to have riches and not to trust in them. 
Well, then, of all men, rich men should be most careful. ^ A man may 
be rich and godly, but it is because now and then God will work some 
miracles of grace. Your possessions will not be your ruin till your cor 
ruptions mingle with them. Under the law the poor and rich were 
to pay the same ransom, Exod. xxx. 15, intimating they may have 
interest in the same Christ. It is Austin's observation l that poor Laz 
arus was saved in the bosom of rich Abraham. Kiches in themselves 
are God's blessings that come within a promise. It is said, Ps. cxii. 3, 
of him that feareth the Lord, that ' wealth and riches shall be in his 
house ; ' that is, when God seeth good, for all temporal promises must 
be understood with an exception. They do not intimate what always 
shall be, but that whatever is is by way of a blessing, the fruit of a 
promise, not of chance, or a looser providence. Yea, riches with a 
blessing are so far from being a hindrance to grace, that they are an 
ornament to it ; so Prov. xiv. 24, ' The crown of the wise is their 
riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly.' A rich wise man is 
more conspicuous ; an estate may adorn virtue, but it cannot disguise 
folly. A wise man that is rich hath an advantage to discover himself 
which others have not ; but a fool is a fool still, as an ape is an ape 
though tied with a golden chain. And to this sense I suppose Solo 
mon speaketh when he saith, Eccles. vii. 11, 'Wisdom with an inheri 
tance is good ; ' that is, more eminent and useful. And thus you see 
riches are as men use them, blessings promiscuously dispensed to the 
good, lest they should be thought altogether evil ; to the bad, lest they 
should be thought only good. 2 

Obs. 2. That a rich man's humility is his glory. Your excellency 
doth not lie in the pomp and splendour of your condition, but in the 
meekness of your hearts. Humility is not only a clothing, ' Put on 
humbleness of mind/ Col. iii. 12, but an ornament, 1 Peter v. 5, ' Be 
decked with humility/ e^Ko^^aao^Oe. It cometh from a word that 
signifieth a knot, that maketh decency when things are fitly tied. 
Men think that humility is a debasement, and meekness a derogation 
from their honour and repute. Ah ! but you see God counteth 
it an ornament. It is not a disguise, but a decking. None so base as 
the proud in the eyes of God and men. Before God, you must not 
value yourself by your estate and outward pomp, but your graces. 
An high mind and a low condition are all one to the Lord, only 
poverty hath the advantage, because it is usually gracious. If any may 
glory, they may glory that have most arguments of God's love. Now 
a lowly mind is a far better testimony of it than an high estate. And 
so before men, as Augustine said, he is a great man that is not lifted up 
because of his greatness. You are not better than others by your estate, 
but your meekness. The apostles possessed all things though they had 
nothing. They have more than you if they have a humble heart. 

Obs. 3. That the way to be humble is to count the world's advan 
tages our abasement. The poor man must glory in that he is exalted, 
but the rich in that he is made low. Honours and riches do but set 

1 * Servatur pauper Lazarus, sed in sinu Abraham! divitis.' August, in Ps. li. 
' Dautur bonis ue putentur mala, mails ne putentur bona. ' August. 


us beneath other men, rather than above them, and do rather abate 
from you than add anything to you ; and it may be you have less of 
the Spirit because you have more of the world. God doth not use to 
flow in both ways. Well, then, get this mind in the midst of your 
abundance. It is nothing what you do at other times. Men dispraise 
that which they want, as the fox the grapes, and simple men learn 
ing. But when you are rich, can you glory in that you are made low, 
and say, All this is but low in regard of the saints' privileges ? This 
would keep the heart in a right frame, so that you could lose wealth 
or keep it. If you lose it, you do but lose a part of your abasement ; 
if you keep it, you do not keep that which setteth you the higher or 
the nearer to God. This is to ' possess all things as if you possessed 
them not,' 1 Cor. vii. 30 not to have them in your hearts when you 
have them in your houses. And the truth is, this is the way to keep 
them still, to be humble in the possession of them : Mat. xxiii. 12, 
4 Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall 
humble himself shall be exalted.' Kiches will be your abasement, if 
you do not think them so. 

Obs. 4. If we would be made low in the midst of worldly enjoy 
ments, we should consider the uncertainty of them. This is the rea 
son rendered by the apostle, ' Because as the flower of the grass he 
shall pass away.' We are worldly, because we forget the world's 
vanity and our own transitoriness : Ps. xlix. 11, * Their inward thought 
is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places 
to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.' 
Either we think that we shall live for ever, or leave our riches to 
those that will continue our memory for ever ; that is, to our chil 
dren, which are but the parent multiplied and continued ; which is, 
as one saith, nodosa ceternitas, a knotty eternity. When our thread 
is spun out and done, their thread is knit to it ; and so we dream of a 
continued succession in our name and family. But alas ! this inward 
thought is but a vain thought a sorry refuge by which man would 
make amends for the loss of the true eternity. But in vain ; for we 
perish, and our estate too. Both your persons and your condition are 
transitory. The apostle saith, ' He shall pass away like the flower of 
the grass.' Man himself is like the grass, soon withered; his condition 
is like the flower of the grass, gone with a puff of wind. So 1 Peter i. 
24, ' All flesh is grass, and the glory of man as the flower of the grass/ 
Many times the flower is gone when the stalk remaineth ; so man 
seeth all that he hath been gathering a long time soon dissipated 
by the breath of providence, and he, like a withered rotten stalk, 
liveth scorned and neglected. The scriptures make use of both 
these arguments sometimes our own transitoriness, as Luke xii. 20, 
'Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.' Here 
men toil, and beat their brains, and tire their spirits, and rack their 
consciences ; and when they have done all, like silkworms, they die in 
their work, and God taketh them away ere they can roast what ^ they 
get in hunting. Sometimes the transitoriness of these outward things ; 
if we do not leave them, they may leave us. As many a man hath 
survived his happiness, and lived so long as to see himself, when his 
flower is gone, to be cast out upon the dunghill of scorn and contempt. 


And, truly it is a madness to be proud of that which may perish before 
we perish, as it is the worst of miseries to outlive our own happiness. 
The apostle saith, 1 Tim. vi. 17, ' Charge rich men that they be not 
high-minded, and trust not in uncertain riches/ Trust should have a 
sure object, for it is the quiet repose of the soul in the bosom of an 
immutable good. Therefore that which is uncertain cannot yield a 
ground of trust. You may entertain it with j ealousy, but not with trust ; 
so Prov. xxiii. 5, ' Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ?' 
Outward riches are so far from being the best things, that they rather 
are not anything at all. Solomon calleth them ' that which is not ;' 
and who ever loved nothing, and would be proud of that which is not ? 
Obs. 5. The uncertainty of worldly enjoyments may be well resem 
bled by a flower beautiful, but fading. The similitude is elsewhere 
used : I gave you places in the exposition, let me add a few more : 
see Ps. ciii. 15, 16, 'As for man, his days are as grass; as a 
flower of the field, so he flour isheth : for the wind passeth over it. 
and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more/ When 
the flower is gone, the root, as afraid, shrinketh into the ground, and 
there remaineth neither remnant nor sign ; so many a man that 
keepeth a bustling, and ruffleth it in the world, is soon snapped off 
by providence, and there doth not remain the least sign and memorial 
of him. So 1 Peter i. 24, 'For all flesh is as grass, and all the 
glory of man as the flower of the grass ; the grass withereth, and the 
flower thereof falleth away/ It is repeated and returned to our con 
sideration ' all flesh is grass/ and then, ' the grass withereth,' to show 
that we should often whet it and inculcate it upon our thoughts. In 
short, from this resemblance you may learn two things : 

1. That though the things of the world are specious, yet they 
should not allure us, because they are fading. Flowers are sweet, and 
affect the eye, but their beauty is soon scorched : the soul is for an 
eternal good, that it may have a happiness suitable to its own dura 
tion. An immortal soul cannot have full contentment in that which 
is fading ; but this is a point that calleth for meditation rather than 
demonstration. It is easy to declaim upon the vanity of the creature : 
it is every man's object and every man's subject. Oh! but think of 
it seriously, and desire God to be in your thoughts. When the 
creatures tempt you, be not enticed by the beauty of them, so as to 
forget their vanity. Say, Here is a flower, glorious, but fading; 
glass that is bright, but brittle. 

2. The fairest things are most fading. Creatures, when they come 
to their excellency, then they decay, as herbs, when they come to 
flower, they begin to wither ; or, as the sun when it cometh to the 
zenith, then it declineth : Ps. xxxix. 5, ' Man at his best estate is 
altogether vanity ; ' not at his worst only, when the feebleness and 
inconveniences of old age have surprised him. Many, you know, are 
blasted and cut off in their flower, and wither as soon as they begin 
to flourish. Paul had a messenger of Satan presently upon his ecstasy, 
2 Cor. xii. 7. So the prophet speaketh of ' a grasshopper in the begin 
ning of the shooting up of the latter growth/ Amos vii. 1. As soon 
as the ground recovered any verdure and greenness, presently there 
came a grasshopper to devour the herbage : the meaning is, a new 


affliction as soon as they began to flourish. Well, then, suspect these 
outward things when you most abound in them. David thought of 
overthrows when God had given him a great victory, as Ps. Ix. Com 
pare the psalm with the title. So it is good to think of famine and 
want in the midst of plenty : a man doth not know what overturn- 
ings there may be in the world. The woman that stood not in need 
of the prophet, 2 Kings iv. 13, ' I dwell among my own people/ 
that is, I have no need of friends at court, yet afterward stood in need 
of the prophet's man, 2 Kings viii. 5. The Lord knoweth how soon 
your condition may be turned ; when it seemeth to flourish most, it 
may be near a withering. 

Ver. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen ivith a burning lieat, but it 
withereih the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the 
fashion of it perisheth; so also shall the rich man fade aiuay in his ways. 

He pursueth the similitude, and in the close of the verse applieth 
it. There is nothing needeth illustration but the latter clause. 

So shall ; that is, so may ; for the passage is not absolutely defini 
tive of what always shall be, but only declarative of what may be ; 
and, therefore, the future tense is used for the potential mood. We 
see, many times, that * the wicked live, become old, and mighty in 
power ; their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God 
upon them : their bull gendereth, and faileth not ; their cow calveth, 
and casteth not her calf/ Job xxi. 7-10. Therefore, I say, the apostle 
showeth not what always cometh to pass, but what may be, and 
usually falleth out, and what at length certainly will be their portion. 

The rich man. That is either to be taken generally for the rich, 
whether godly or ungodly, or more especially for the ungodly person 
that trusteth in his riches. 

Fade away /jLapavOrja-ercu, a word proper to herbs when they lose 
their verdure and beauty. 

In his ways. Some read, as Erasmus and Gagneus, eV iropiaLs, 
' with his abundance/ which reading Calvin also approveth, as suit 
ing better with the context, ' So shall the rich and all his abundance 
fade away ; ' but the general and more received reading is that which 
we follow, eV Tropetcus in his ways or journeys ; the word is emphatical, 
and importeth that earnest industry by which men compass sea and 
land, run hither and thither in the pursuit of wealth, and yet, when 
all is done, it fadeth like the flower of the grass. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1 . From the continuance of the similitude, that the vanity of 
flowers should hint thoughts to us about the vanity of our own com 
forts. We delight in pictures and emblems, for then the soul, by the 
help of fancy and imagination, hath a double view of the object in 
the similitude, which is, as it were, a picture of it, and then the thing 
itself. This was God's ancient way to teach his people by types ; still 
he teacheth us by similitudes taken from common and ordinary 
objects, that when we are cast upon them, spiritual thoughts may be 
awakened ; and so every ordinary object is, as it were, hallowed and 
consecrated to a heavenly purpose. Well, then, let this be your field 
or garden meditation ; when you see them decked with a great deal of 
bravery, remember all this is gone in an instant when the burning 


heat ariseth. In the text it is (let me open that by the way) 7puo<? 
T&> Kavo-a)vi, the sun with a burning wind, so in the original ; for 
/cavaojv, the word used here, is usually put here for a scorching wind, 
which, in the hot and eastern countries, was wont to accompany the 
rising of the sun ; as Jonah iv. 8, ' It came to pass, when the sun did 
begin to arise, God prepared a vehement east wind ; ' and, therefore, 
do we read of ' the drying east wind/ Ezek. xvii. 10 ; and in many 
places of Hosea. It was a hot, piercing wind that blasted all things, 
and was the usual figure of God's judgments ; and so the psalmist 
saith, 'The wind passeth over it, and it is gone,' Ps. ciii. 16. But 
this by the way, because I omitted it in the exposition. When, I say, 
you walk in a garden or field, as Isaac did, to meditate, Gen. xxiv. 63, 
think thus with yourselves : Here is a goodly show and paintry ; but 
alas ! these things are but for a season ; they would fade away of 
their own accord, but the breath of the east wind will soon dry them 
up ; so are all worldly comforts like flowers in the spring, good in 
their season, but very vanishing and perishing. 

Obs. 2. That our comforts are perishing in themselves, but espe 
cially when the hand of providence is stretched out against them. 
The flower fadeth of itself, but chiefly when it is scorched by the 
glowing, burning east wind. Our hearts should be loose at all times 
from outward things, but especially in times of public desolation ; it 
is a sin against providence to affect great things : when God is over 
turning all, then there is a burning heat upon the flowers, and God 
is gone forth to blast worldly glory : Jer. xlv. 4, 5, * The Lord saith r 
I will pluck up this whole land, and seekest thou great things for 
thyself ? ' that is, a prosperous condition in a time of public desola 
tion ; it is as if a man should be planting flowers when there is a 
wind gone forth to blast them. Well, then, take heed you do not 
make providence your enemy, then your comforts will become more 
perishing. ^ You cannot then expect a comfortable warmth from God, 
but a burning heat. There are three sins especially by which you 
make providence your enemy, and so the creatures more vain. 

1. When you abuse them to serve your lusts. Where there is 
pride and wantonness, you may look for a burning ; certainly your 
flowers will be scorched and dried up. Pleasant Sodom, when it was- 
given to ' pride, and idleness, and fulness of bread/ met with a burn 
ing heat indeed, Ezek. xvi. 49 : in Salvian's phrase, 1 God will rain 
hell out of heaven rather than not visit for such sins. 

2. When you make them objects of trust. God can brook no rivals ; 
trust being the fairest and best respect of the creatures, it must not be 
intercepted, but ascend to God. If you make idols of the creatures, 
God will make nothing of them ; the fire of God's jealousy is a burn 
ing heat. God took away from Judah the staff and the stay, Isa. 
iii. 1 ; that is, that which they made so, excluding him ; for that is the 
case in the context. So when you trust in your wealth, as if it must 
needs be well with your families, and you were secured against all 
judgments, and turns of providence ; certainly God will take away the 
staff and the stay, and show that riches are but dead helps, when they 
are preferred before the living God, 1 Tim. vi. 17. 

1 'Pluit Gehennam e coelo.' Salvian de Provid. 


3. When you get them by wrong means. Wealth thus gotten is 
flesh (like the eagles from the altar) with a coal in it, that devoureth 
the whole nest: Hab. ii. 9, 'Woe be to him that coveteth an evil 
covetousness, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be de 
livered from the power of evil.' You think it is a ready way to 
advance you ; no, this is the ready way to ruin all : James v. 3, ' Your 
gold and silver shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh 
as it were fire;' that is, draw the fire and burning heat of God's 
wrath upon yourselves and families. 

From that his ways. 

Obs. 3. Worldly men pursue wealth with great care and industry. 
The rich turneth hither and thither, he hath several ways whereby to 
accomplish his ends. In self-denial, covetousness is the ape of grace ; 
it ' suffereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,' 1 Cor. 
xiii. 6, 7. What pains do men take for things that perish ! Do but 
observe their incessant care, earnest labour, and unwearied industry, 
and say, how well would this suit with the heavenly treasure ! It is a 
pity a plant that would thrive so well in Canaan should still grow in 
the soil of Egypt ; that the zealous earnestness of the soul should be 
misplaced, and we should take more pains to be rich unto the world 
than to be rich towards God. Luke xii. 21. Man fallen is but the ana 
gram of man in innocency, he hath the same affections and delights, only 
they are transposed and misplaced; therefore do we offend in the 
measure, because we mistake in the object. Or else, secondly, observe 
their pains and care, and say thus : Shall a lust have more power 
upon them than the love of God upon me ? I have higher motives, 
and a reward more sure, Prov. xi. 18 ; they are more earnest for an 
earthly purchase, and to heap up treasure to themselves, than I am to 
enrich my soul with spiritual and heavenly excellences. Surely grace 
is an active thing, of as forcible an efficacy as corruption ; why then 
do we act with such difference and disproportion ? The fault is not 
in grace, but in ourselves. Grace is like a keen weapon in a child's 
hand ; it maketh little impression because it is weakly wielded. 
Worldly men have the advantage of us in matter of principle, but we 
have the advantage of them in matter of motive ; we have higher 
motives, but they more entire principles, for what they do, they do 
with their whole heart ; but our principles are mixed, and therefore 
grace worketh with a greater faintness than corruption doth. But, 
however, it is sad. Pambus, in ecclesiastical history, wept when he 
saw a harlot dressed with much care and cost, partly to see one take 
so much pains for her own undoing, partly because he had not been 
so careful to please God as she had been to please a wanton lover. 
And truly when we see men ' cumber themselves with much serving,' 
and toiling and bustling up and down in the world, and all for riches 
that 'take themselves wings and fly away/ we may be ashamed 
that we do so little for Christ, and they do so much for wealth, and 
that we do not lay out our strength and earnestness for heaven with 
any proportion to what they do for the world. 

Obs. 4. Lastly, again, from that eV rat? Tropetais, from his ways or 
journeys. All our endeavours will be fruitless if God's hand be 
against us. As the flower to the burning heat, so is the rich man in 


his ways ; that is, notwithstanding all his industry and care, God may 
soon blast him : they ' earned wages, but put it in a bag with holes/ 
Hag. i. 6 ; that is, their gains did not thrive with them. Peter 
' toiled all night but caught nothing/ till he took Christ into the boat, 
Luke v. 5. So you will catch nothing, nothing with comfort and 
profit, till you take God along with you : Ps. cxxvii. 2, ' It is vain for 
you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows : for so 
he giveth his beloved sleep/ Some take this place in a more particular 
and restrained sense ; as if David would intimate that all their agita 
tions to oppose the reign of Solomon, though backed with much care 
and industry, should be fruitless; though Absalom and Adonijah 
were tortured with the care of their own ambitious designs, yet God 
would give Jedidiah, or his beloved, rest ; that is, the kingdom should 
quietly and safely be devolved upon Solomon, who took no such pains 
to court the people, and to raise himself up into their esteem as Absa 
lom and Adonijah did ; and they ground this exposition partly on the 
title of the psalm, ' a, psalm for Solomon/ partly on the name of Solo 
mon, who was called Jedidijah, or the beloved of the Lord, 2 Sam. 
xii. 24, 25, the word used here, ' he giveth his beloved rest.' But I 
suppose this sense is too curious ; for though the psalm be entitled to 
Solomon, yet I think not so much by way of prophecy as direction : 
for as the 72d Psalm (which also beareth title for Solomon) repre- 
senteth to him the model of a kingdom and the -affairs thereof, so this 
psalm, the model of a family, with the incident cares and blessings of 
it ; and therefore the passages of it are of a more universal and un 
limited concernment than to be appropriated to Solomon ; and it is 
not to be neglected that the Septuagint turn the Hebrew word plurally, 
rot? dyaTTTiTow avrov VTTVOV, ' his beloved ones sleep/ showing that the 
sentence is general. The meaning is, then, that though worldly men 
fare never so hardly, beat their brains, tire their spirits, rack their 
consciences, yet many times all is for nothing ; either God doth not 
give them an estate, or not the comfort of it. But his beloved, with 
out any of these racking cares, enjoy contentment: if they have not 
the world, they have sleep and rest ; with silence submitting to the 
will of God, and with quietness waiting for the blessing of God. Well, 
then, acknowledge the providence that you may come under the bless 
ing ^ of it; labour without God cannot prosper; against God and 
against his will in his word, will surely miscarry. 

Ver. 12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he 
is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath pro 
mised to them that love him. 

Here the apostle concludeth all the former discourse with a general 
sentence. I shall despatch it very briefly, because the matter of it often 
occurreth in this epistle. 

Blessed; that is, already blessed. They are not miserable, as the 
world judgeth them : it is a Christian paradox, wherein there is an 
allusion to what is said, Job v. 17, ' Behold, happy is the man whom 
God correcteth ; ' it is a wonder, and therefore he calleth the world to 
see it Behold I So the apostle, in an opposition to the judgment of 
the world, saith, Blessed. 

Is the man, dvrjp. The word used is only proper to the masculine 


sex, and therefore some l have forced and obtruded some misshapen 
conceits upon this scripture ; whereas throughout the epistle we shall 
observe our apostle delighteth in the use of this word for both sexes ; 
as ver. 23, avSpi, TrapaKvtyavri,, ( A man beholding his face/ &c., in 
tending a man or woman, for it answereth to the Hebrew word iscli, 
under which the woman also was comprehended. 

That endureth, o? vTropevei that is, that patiently and constantly 
beareth. A wicked man suffereth, but he doth not endure: they suffer, 
but unwillingly, with murmuring and blasphemy ; but the godly man 
endureth ; that is, beareth the affliction with patience and constancy ; 
without murmuring, fainting, or blaspheming. Enduring is taken in 
a good sense ; as Heb. xii. 7, * If ye endure chastening, God dealeth 
with you as sons.' God is not perceived to deal as a father, but when 
the affliction is patiently borne, which the apostle calleth enduring 

Temptation. Affliction is so called, as before ; in itself it is a pun 
ishment of sin, but to the godly but a trial ; as death, the king of 
terrors, or highest of afflictions, is in itself the wages of sin, but to 
them, the gate of eternal life. 

For ivlien lie is tried, So/ayuo? yevopevos. The word is often trans 
lated approved: Rom. xiv. 18, ' Approved of man ; ' it is 8o/a//.o<?. 
So 1 Cor. xi. 19, ' That BOKIJIOI, they which are approved may be 
made manifest ; ' so here, when he is made or found approved, that is, 
right and sound in the faith ; it is a metaphor taken from metals, 
whose excellence is discerned in the fire. 

He shall receive; that is, freely; for though none be crowned with 
out striving, 2 Tim. ii. 5, yet they are not crowned for striving ; as 
in the scripture it is said in many places, God will give every man 
according to his work, yet not for his work, for such passages do only 
imply (as Ferus, 2 a Papist, also granteth) that as evil works shall not 
remain unpunished, so neither shall good works be unrewarded. 

A crown of life. It is usual in scripture to set forth the gifts of 
God by a crown, sometimes to note the honour that God putteth upon 
the creatures : ' Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour,' Ps. 
viii. 5 ; sometimes to note the all-sufficiency of God's love. It is as a 
crown ; on every side there are experiences of it : so it is said, Ps. ciii. 
4, ' He crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies : ' but 
most usually it is applied to the heavenly estate : (1.) Partly to note 
the honour of it, as a crown is the emblem of majesty ; and so it noteth 
that imperial and kingly dignity to which we are advanced in Christ : 
Luke xxii. 29, ' I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath 
appointed unto me/ Christ, that left us the cross, hath left us his 
crown also : one of Christ's legacies to the church is his own cross ; 
therefore Luther saith, Ecclesia est hceres crucis the church is heir of 
the cross. So you see in this place he saith Sum'^/u, I do by will and 
testament so the word signifieth dispose a kingdom to you; and 
that is one reason why heavenly glory is expressed by a crown. (2.) 
To note the endless and perpetual fulness that is in it : roundness is 

_ 1 ' Beatus vir, non mollis vel effceminatus, sed vir, dictus a virtute animi, virore fidei, 
vigore spei.' Aquinas in locum. 
2 Ferus in Mat. in cap. 16. v. 27. 


an emblem of plenty and perpetuity ; there is somewhat on every side, 
and there is no end in it: so Ps. xvi. 11, 'In thy presence is fulness 
of joy, and pleasures for evermore/ (3.) To note that it is given 
after striving ; it was a reward of conquest ; there was a crown set be 
fore those that ran a race : to which use the apostle alludeth, 1 Cor. 
ix. 24, 25 : ' They which run a race run all, but one receiveth the 
prize : so run that ye may obtain. Now, they do it to obtain a cor 
ruptible crown, but we an incorruptible ; ' that is, in the races and 
Isthmic games near Corinth, the reward was only some garland of 
flowers and herbs, which soon faded ; but we run for an incorruptible 
crown of glory ; or, as another apostle calleth it, ' A crown of glory 
that fadeth not away,' 1 Peter v. 4. Thus you see why heaven is 
expressed by a crown ; now sometimes it is called ' a crown of glory,' 
to note the splendour of it ; sometimes ' a crown of righteousness/ 2 
Tim. iv. 8, to note the ground and rise of it, which is God's truth 
engaged by a promise, called God's righteousness in scripture : some 
times it is called ' a crown of life,' as Eev. ii. 10, ' Be faithful unto 
death, and I will give thee a crown of life ; ' because it is not to be 
had but in eternal or everlasting life : or else, to note the duration of 
it ; it is not a dying, withering crown, as the garland of flowers, but a 
living crown, such as will flourish to all eternity. 

Which the Lord hath promised. This is added, partly to show the 
certainty of it we have the assurance of a promise ; partly to note the 
ground of expectation not by virtue of our own merits, but God's 
promise. Now there is no particular promise alleged, because it is 
the general drift of the whole word of God. In the law there is a pro 
mise of mercy : ' To a thousand generations, to them that love him,' 
Exod. xx. 6. When all things were ' after the manner of a carnal com 
mandment,' the expressions of the promises were also carnal and that 
is the reason why, in the Old Testament, the blessings of the promises 
are expressed by * a fat portion,' * long life,' and a ' blessing upon pos 
terity ; ' for all these expressions were not to be taken in the rigour of 
the letter, but as figures of heavenly joys and eternal life : and there 
fore, what was in the commandment, ' mercy to a thousand generations, 
to them that love him,' is in the apostle, ' a crown of life to them thai 
love him,' the mystery of the expression being opened and unveiled. 

To them that love him. A usual description of the people of God. 
But why them that love him, rather than them that serve or obey 
him, or some other description? I answer (1.) Because love is the 
sum of the whole law, and the hinge upon which all the command 
ments turn : this is the one word into which the Decalogue is abridged ; 
therefore Paul saith, Kom. xiii. 10, that ' love is vrX^co^a vo/^ov, the 
fulfilling of the law.' (2.) Because it is the great note of our interest 
in Christ : faith giveth a right in the promises, and love evidenceth it ; 
therefore is it so often specified as the condition of the promises, the 
condition that evidenceth our interest in them ; as James ii. 5, ' The 
kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him.' He doth 
not say 'fear him/ or * trust in him/ though these graces also are im 
plied, but chiefly ' to them that love him.' So Kom. viii. 28, ' All 
things work together for good to them that love God, to them that 
are called according to his purpose : ' where love of God, you see, is 


made the discovery both of effectual calling and election. (3.) Be 
cause patience is the fruit of love : Nihil est quod non tolerat quiper- 
fecte diligit he that loveth much will suffer much : and therefore 
when the apostle speaketh of enduring temptations, he encourageth 
them by the crown of life promised to them that love God : a man 
would not suffer for him, unless he did love him. 

I shall give you the notes briefly. 

Obs. 1. Afflictions do not make the people of God miserable. There 
is a great deal of difference between a Christian and a man of the 
world : his best estate is vanity, Ps. xxxix. 5 ; and a Christian's 
worst is happiness. He that loveth God is like a die ; cast him high 
or low, he is still upon a square : x he may be sometimes afflicted, but 
he is always happy. There is a double reason for it : 

1. Because outward misery cannot diminish his happiness. 

2. Because sometimes it doth increase it. 

1. Afflictions cannot diminish his happiness : a man is never miser 
able till he hath lost his happiness. Our comfort lieth much in the 
choice of our chiefest good. They that say, ' Happy is the people that 
is in such a case/ Ps. cxliv. 12-15 ; that is, where there is no com 
plaining in their streets, sheep bringing forth thousands, garners full, 
oxen strong to labour, &c., they may be soon miserable : all these 
things may be gone, with an easy turn of providence, as Job lost all 
in an instant. But they that say, ' Happy is the people whose God is 
the Lord,' that is, that count it their happiness to enjoy God, when 
they lose all, they may be happy, because they have not lost God. 
Our afflictions discover our choice and affections; when outward 
crosses are the greatest evil, it is a sign God was not the chiefest good ; 
for our grief, in the absence f any comfort, is according to the happi 
ness that we fancied in the enjoyment of it. One that hath setup his 
rest in God can rejoice in his interest, ' though the fields should yield 
no meat, and the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there 
should be no herd in the stalls.' These are great evils, and soon felt 
by a carnal heart ; yet the prophet, in the person of all believers, saith, 
Hab. iii. 18, ' I will joy in the Lord, and rejoice in the God of my 
salvation/ In the greatest defect and want of earthly things there is 
happiness, and comfort enough in a covenant-interest. 

2. Sometimes afflictions increase their happiness, as they occasion 
more comfort and further experience of grace : God seldom afflicteth 
in vain. Such solemn providences and dispensations leave us better 
or worse, the children of God gain profit by them, for it is God's 
course to recompense outward losses with inward enjoyments : 2 Cor. 
i. 5, ' For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also consolation 
aboundeth by Christ;' that is, inward comforts and experiences, 
according to the rate of outward sufferings. Now he hath not the 
heart of a Christian thai; can think himself more happy in temporal 
commodities than spiritual experiences : a wilderness that giveth us 
more of God is to be preferred above all the pleasures and treasures 
of Egypt. Learn, then, that they may be blessed whom men count 
miserable. They are not always happy to whom all things happen 
according to their desires, but they that endure evil with victory and 

1 "lerpdyuvos dvrjp. Arist.' 


patience ; the world judge th according to outward appearance, and 
therefore is often mistaken. Nemo atiorum sensu miser est, sed suo, 
saith Salvian 1 a godly man's happiness, or misery, is not to be 
judged by the world's sense or feeling, but his own ; his happiness and 
yours differ. The apostle saith, 1 Cor. xv. 19, 'If our hopes were 
only in this world, we were of all men most miserable ; ' if worldly 
enjoyments were our blessedness, a Christian might not only be miser 
able, but c most miserable.' The main difference between a worldly 
man and a gracious man is in their chiefest good and their utmost 
end ; and therefore a worldly man cannot judge of a spiritual man's 
happiness. But, saith the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 15, ' The spiritual man 
judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man : ' you think 
that their estate is misery, but they know that yours is vanity. You 
cannot judge them, but by the light of the Spirit they judge all 
things. They that count God their chiefest good know no other evil 
but the darkening of his countenance ; in all other cases, ' Blessed is 
he that endureth : ' they lose nothing by affliction, but their sins. 

Obs. 2. Of all afflictions those are sweetest which we endure for 
Christ's sake. The apostle saith, ' Blessed are they that endure temp 
tation ; ' that is, persecution for religion's sake. The immediate strokes 
of providence are more properly corrections ; the violences of men 
against us are more properly trials ; there is comfort and blessedness 
in corrections, namely, when we receive profit by them : Ps. xciv. 12, 
'Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, Lord, and instructest 
out of thy law/ Mark, when the chastening is from the Lord, there 
is comfort in it, if there be instruction in it : but it is far more sweet 
when we are merely called to suffer for a good conscience : Mat. v. 
10, ' Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake/ 
There is the blessedness more clear. Corrections aim at the mortify 
ing of sin, and so are more humbling : but trials aim at the discovery 
of grace, and so are more comfortable. Corrections imply guilt ; 
either we have sinned, or are likely to sin, and then God taketh the 
rod in hand. But trials befall us, that the world may know our will 
ingness to choose the greatest affliction before the least sin, and there 
fore must needs be matter of more joy and blessedness to us. In 
short, corrections are a discovery and silent reproof of our corruptions ; 
but trials a discovery and public manifestation of our innocency, not a 
reproof, so much as an honour and grace to us. Well, then, when you 
are called to suffer for Christ, apply this comfort : it is a blessed thing 
to endure evil for that cause ; only be sure your hearts be upright, that 
it be for Christ indeed, and your hearts be right with Christ. 

1. That it be for Christ. It is not the blood and suffering that 
maketh the martyr, but the cause. We are all apt to entitle our 
quarrel to Christ, therefore we should go upon the more sure grounds. 
The glory of our sufferings is marred when there is somewhat of an 
evil deed in them, 1 Peter iv. 15. And we cannot be so cheerful as 
in a cause purely religious ; evils are not welcomed that come mixed 
in our thoughts, partly trial, and partly punishment. 

2. That your heart be right for Christ. The form of religion may 
many times draw a persecution upon itself, as well as the power , the 

1 Sal. de Gub. Dei, lib. i. 


world hateth both, though the form less. Oh I how sad is it that a 
man cometh to suffer, and he hath nothing to bear him out but an 
empty form. Either such kind of persons ' make shipwreck of a good 
conscience,' or else, out of an obstinacy to their faction, do but sacri 
fice a stout body to a stubborn mind ; or, which is worse, have nothing 
to support them but the low principles of vainglory and worldly 
applause. Oh ! consider, there is no blessedness in such sufferings ; 
then may you suffer cheerfully when you appeal to God's omnisciency 
for your uprightness, as they do in the psalm, ' The Lord knoweth 
the secrets of the heart ; yea, for thy sake are we slain all the day 
long/ Ps. xliv. 21 , 22. Can you appeal to the God that knoweth 
secrets, and say, For thy sake are we exposed to such hazards in the 
world ? 

Obs. 3. From that when he is tried, note that before crowning 
there must be a trial. We have no profit at all by the affliction, 
neither grace nor glory, till there be some wrestling and exercise ; for 
grace, the apostle showeth plainly, Heb. xii. 11, 'It yieldeth the quiet 
fruits of righteousness, rot? yejv^ao-^evo^, to them that are exercised 
thereby.' The pleasantness and blessedness is not found by and by, 
but after much struggling and wrestling with God in prayer, long 
acquaintance with the affliction. So for glory, the apostle showeth 
here, ' when he is proved, he shall receive a crown.' In the building 
of the temple the stones were first carved and hewed, that the sound 
of hammer might not be heard in God's house ; so the living stones 
are first hewn before they are set in the New Jerusalem. The apostle 
saith, 2 Tim. ii. 5, ' If a man strive for masteries, he is not crowned 
unless he strive lawfully ; ' that is, unless he perform the conditions 
and laws of the exercise in which he is engaged, he cannot expect the 
reward ; so neither can we from God till we have passed through all 
the stages of Christianity. The trial doth not merit heaven, but 
always goeth before it. Before we are brought to glory, God will 
first wean us from sin and the world, which the apostle calleth a being 
1 made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light,' Col. i. 12. 
And this work is helped on by many afflictions. Those serve to make 
us meet for the communion of saints, not to merit it. When God 
crowneth us, he doth but crown his own gifts in us. 1 Well, then, 
bear your trials with the more patience. It is said, Acts xiv. 22, 
that Paul 'confirmed the souls of the disciples, showing that 
through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God.' 
It is the common lot. There is none goeth to heaven without their 
trial. As the way to Canaan lay through a howling wilderness and 
desert, so the path to heaven lieth through much affliction. He that 
passeth his life without trial knoweth not himself, nor hath no oppor 
tunity to discover his uprightness. 2 

06s. 4. That it is good to oppose the glory of our hopes against the 
abasure of our sufferings. Here are trials, but we look for a crown 
of glory. This is the way to counterpoise the temptation, and in the 

1 'Deus nihil coronat nisi dona sua.' Aug., lib. v. horn. 14. 

2 'Miseruin te judico quod nunquam fuisti miser; transistis sine adversario yitam; nemo 
sciet quid potueris ; ne tu quidem ipse ; opus est ad notitiam sui experimento, quso 
quisque posset nisi tentando non didicit.' Sen. lib. de Provid., cap. 4. 


conflict between the flesh and spirit, to come in to the relief of the 
better part. Thus Paul saith, the inward man is strengthened, 
* When we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that 
are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the 
things that are not seen are eternal,' 2 Cor. iv. 18. A direct opposi 
tion of our hopes to our sufferings maketh them seem light and easy. 
Thus our Saviour biddeth us consider, ' When you are persecuted for 
righteousness' sake, yours is the kingdom of God/ Mat. v. 10. 
Though ye be deprived of all you have, yet ye cannot be deprived 
of heaven. Eemember, heaven is still yours. You may lose an 
estate, but you have an assurance of a crown of glory. Thus Basil 
speaketh of some martyrs that were cast out all night naked in a cold 
frosty time, and were to be burned the next day, how they comforted 
themselves in this manner : * The winter is sharp, but paradise is 
sweet ; here we shiver for cold, but the bosom of Abraham will make 
amends for all/ &C. 1 Well, then, make use of this heavenly wisdom ; 
consider your hopes, the glory of them, the truth of them. 

1. The glory of them. There are two things trouble men in their 
sufferings disgrace and death. See what provision God hath made 
against these fears : he hath promised a crown against the ignominy 
of your sufferings, and against temporal death a crown of life. A 
man can lose nothing for God, but it is abundantly recompensed and 
made up again ; the crown of thorns is turned into a crown of glory, 
and losing of life is the ready way to save it, Mat. x. 39. Thus, it 
is good, you see, to oppose our hopes to our sorrows, and not altogether 
to look to the present dangers and sufferings, but to the crown, the 
crown of life that is laid up for us. 2 Extreme misery, without hope 
of redress, overwhelmeth the soul ; and, therefore, the promises do 
everywhere oppose a proper comfort to that case where the feeling is 
like to be sorest, that faith may have a present and ready answer to 
such extremities as sense urgeth ; as Stephen, in the midst of his 
sufferings, ' looked steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, 
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God/ Acts vii. 55. There 
was somewhat of miracle and extraordinary ecstasy in that vision, 
the glory of heaven being not only represented to his soul, but to his 
senses ; but it was a pledge of that which falleth out ordinarily 
in the sufferings of God's children, for their hearts are then 
usually raised to a more fixed and distinct consideration of their hopes, 
whereby the danger arid temptation is defeated and overcome. It is 
very observable that when Moses and Elijah came to speak with 
Christ about his sufferings, they appeared in such forms of glory as 
did allay the sharpness of the message ; for it is said, Luke ix. 31, 
' They appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should 
accomplish at Jerusalem ; ' intimating that the crown of thorns 
should put us in mind of the crown of glory ; and when we are 
clothed with shame and sorrow, we should think of the shining gar 
ments ; for the messengers of the cross were apparelled with a shin 
ing glory. 

1 ' Apifj,f>s 6 xei/iwi', dXXa y\VKfo 6 7ra/od5ewos* dXyetvrj -5) ftfyis, dXX i)8eia y a-rr6\av<Tis. 
fuicpbv dvaf^eivu^ev Kal 6 /(6X7ros ^uas 6d\\f>et TOV Trar/ndpxou,' &c. Basil ad 40 Martyr. 

2 'Pericula non respicit martyr, coronas respicit.' Basil, ubi supra. 


2. The truth of them. It is not only a * crown of glory ' that you 
expect, but a ' crown of righteousness/ 2 Tim. iv. 8, that is, which 
the righteous God will surely bestow upon you ; for though God 
maketh the promise in grace, yet it being once made, his truth, which 
is often called his righteousness in scripture, obligeth him to perform 
it. 1 Well, then, consider thus : I have the promise of the righteous 
God to assure me, and shall I doubt or draw back ? He is too holy 
to deceive ' God that . cannot lie,' Titus i. 2 ; so immutable and 
faithful that he cannot repent and change his mind, Num. xxiii. 19 ; 
so omnipotent and able that he cannot be disappointed and hindered, 
Job ix. 12 ; so gracious that he will not forget : ' Hath he said, and 
shall he not do it ? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? ' 
Oh ! that our trust were as sure as his promises, and there were no 
more doubt to be made of our interest than of his truth ! Every 
promise is built upon four pillars : God's justice or holiness, which 
will not suffer him to deceive ; his grace or goodness, which will not 
suffer him to forget ; his truth, which will not suffer him to change; 
his power, which maketh him able to accomplish. 

Obs. 5. Lastly, That no enduring is acceptable to God but such as 
doth arise from love. The crown which God hath promised, he doth 
not say, ' to them that suffer,' but ' to them that love him/ A man 
may suffer for Christ, that is, in his cause, without any love to him, 
but it is nothing worth : 1 Cor. xiii. 3, ' If I give my body to be 
burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing/ Through 
natural stoutness and stubbornness men may be constant in their way, 
and, as I said before, yield a stout body to a stubborn mind ; and yet, 
when they are burning in the fires, their souls burn with no zeal or 
love to God's glory. There are many who would die for Christ if 
they were put to it, yet will not quit a lust for him. Vicious persons 
that die in a good cause are but like a dog's head cut off for sacri 
fice. Well, then, do not think that mere suffering will excuse a 
wicked life. It is observable that Christ saith last of all, * Blessed 
are they that suffer for righteousness' sake,' Mat. v. 10, as intimating 
that a martyr must have all the preceding graces ; first, ' Blessed 
are the poor in spirit ; blessed are the pure in heart ; ' then, ' Blessed 
are they that suffer/ First, grace is required, and then martyrdom. 
The victory is less over outward inconveniences than inward lusts ; 
for these, being more rooted in our nature, are more hardly overcome. 
Under the law the priests were to search the beasts brought for burnt- 
offerings, whether scabbed or mangy, &c. A burnt-offering, if 
scabby, is not acceptable to God. In short, that love that keepeth 
the commandments is best able to make us suffer for them. Philo 
sophy may teach us to endure hardships, as Calanus in Curtius 
willingly offered his body to the fires ; but grace only can teach us 
to overcome lusts. We read of many that, out of greatness or sullen- 
ness of spirit, could offer violence to nature, but were at a loss when 
they came to deal with a corruption ; so easy is it to cut off a member 
rather than 'a lust, and to withstand an enemy rather than a tempta 
tion 1 Therefore the scriptures, when they set out an outward enemy, 
though never so fierce, call him flesh, ' with them is an arm of flesh ; ' 

1 ' Promittendo se debitorem fecit.' Aug. 


but when they speak of the spiritual combat, they make it a higher 
work, and of another nature : ' We fight not against flesh and 
blood'/ &c., Eph. vi. 12. Learn then to do for God, that you may 
the better die for him ; for a wicked man, as he profaneth his actions, 
so his sufferings his blood is but as swine's blood, a defilement to 

the altar. 

Other notes might be observed out of this verse, but they may be 
collected either out of the exposition, or supplied out of observations 
on chap. ii. ver. 5, where suitable matter is discussed. 

Ver. 13. Let no man say, lohen he is tempted, I am tempted of God ; 
for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. 

He cometh now to another kind of temptations ; for having spoken 
of outward trials, he taketh occasion to speak of these inward tempta 
tions, that thereby he might remove a blasphemous error concerning 
the cause of them. It is clear that those outward trials are from God, 
but these inward trials, or temptations to sin, are altogether incon 
sistent with the purity and holiness of his nature, as the apostle proveth 
in this and the following verses. 

Let no man, ivhen he is tempted, ///^Set? ireipa^o^evos that is, 
tempted to sin, for in this sense is the word used in scripture ; as 
SoKi/jid&v, or trial, is the proper word for the other temptation, so 
Treipd&iv is the proper word for temptations to sin ; thus the devil is 
called o ireipd&v, the tempter, Mat. iv. 3 ; and in the Lord's Prayer 
we pray that we may not be led ei? Treipaa-^ov, ' into temptation/ 
chiefly intending that we may not be cast upon solicitations to evil ; 
so here, when he is tempted, that is, so solicited to sin that he is 
overcome by it. 

Say ; that is, either in word or thought, for a thought is verbum 
mentis, the saying of the heart ; and some that dare not lisp out such 
a blasphemy certainly dare imagine it ; for the apostle implies that 
the creature is apt to say, to have some excuse or other. 

/ am tempted of God ; that is, it was he solicited, or enforced me to 
evil ; or, if he would not have me sin, why would not he hinder me ? 

For God cannot be tempted with evil. Here is the reason, drawn 
from the unchangeable holiness of God : he cannot any way be seduced 
and tempted into evil. Some read it actively, he is not the tempter of 
evil ; but this would confound it with the last clause ; some, as Sal- 
meron, out of Clemens Komanus, 1 render the sense thus : God is not 
the tempter of evil persons, but only of the good, by afflictions ; 
but that is a nicety which will not hold true in all cases, and doth not 
agree with the original phrase ; for it is not TWV Ka/ca)v, as referring it 
to evil persons, but simply without an article, KCLKWV, as referring it to 
evil things. The sum is, God cannot, by any external applications, or ill 
motions from within, be drawn aside to that which is unjust. 

Neither tempteth he any man; that is, doth not love to seduce 
others, willing that men should be conformed to the holiness of his own 
nature. He tempteth not, either by inward solicitation or by such an 
inward or outward dispensation as may enforce us to sin. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. From that let no man say, that man is apt to say, or 

1 ''A56/ct/xos avrjp ctTretpaaros iraph ry 0e<.' Clem. Rom. lib. ii. Const., cap. 8. 


to transfer the guilt of his own miscarriages. When they are seduced 
by their own folly, they would fain transact the guilt and blame upon 
others. Thus Aaron shifts his crime upon the people, upon their 
solicitations, Exod. xxxii. 23, 24, ' They said, Make us gods, and I 
cast it into the fire, and thereof came the calf.' Mark, thereof came, 
as if it were a work of chance rather than art. So Pilate, upon the 
Jews' instigation, Mat. xxvii. 24, ' Look ye to it.' So ignorant men, 
their errors upon their teachers ; if they are wrong, they have been 
taught so ; and therefore Jeremiah says, Jer. iv. 10, ' Ah ! Lord God, 
surely thou hast greatly deceived this people ; ' that is, Lord, they 
will say thou hast deceived them ; it was thy prophets told them so. 
So Saul, 1 Sam. xv. 15, ' The people spared the best of the sheep and 
of the oxen ; ' and ver. 24, ' I feared the people.' It was out of fear 
of others that entreated ; the people would have it so. So many, if 
they are angry, say they are provoked ; if they swear, others urged 
them to it ; as the Shelomith's son blasphemed in strife, Lev. xxiv. 10. 
So if drawn to excess of drink, or abuse of the creatures, it was long 
of others that enticed them. Well, then : 

1. Beware of these vain pretences. Silence and owning of guilt is far 
more becoming : God is most glorified when the creatures lay aside their 
shifts. You shall see, Lev. xiii. 45, ' The leper in whom the plague i? 
shall have his clothes rent and his head bare, and he shall put a covering 
upon his upper lip, and he shall cry, Unclean, unclean ; ' all was to be 
naked and open but only his upper lip ; he was not to open his mouth 
in excuses. It is best to have nothing to say, nothing but confession 
of sin ; leprosy must be acknowledged. The covering of the upper 
lip among the Hebrews was the sign of shameful conviction. 

2. Learn that all these excuses are vain and frivolous, they will not 
hold with God. Aaron is reproved, notwithstanding his evasion. 
Pilate could not wash off the guilt when he washed his hands. He 
that crucified our Saviour crucified himself afterward. 1 Ignorance is 
not excused by ill teaching : * The blind lead the blind,' and not one, 
but ' both fall into the ditch,' Mat. xv. 14 the blind guide and the 
blind follower. So Ezek. iii. 18, ' The man shall die in his iniquity, 
but his soul will I require at thy hand.' It will be ill for the teacher, 
and ill for the misled soul too. So Saul is rejected from being king, 
for obeying the voice of the people rather than the Lord, 1 Sam. xv. 
23. Shelomith's son was stoned, though he blasphemed in spite, Lev. 
xxiv. 14. And it went ill with Moses, though they provoked his 
spirit, so that ' he spake unadvisedly with his lips,' Ps. cvi. 33, 34. 
Certainly it is best when we have nothing to say but only, Unclean, 
unclean ! 

Obs. 2. Creatures, rather than not transfer their guilt, will cast it 
upon God himself. They blame the Lord in their thoughts ; it is 
foolish to cast it altogether upon Satan to say, I was tempted of 
Satan. Alas ! if there were no Satan to tempt we should tempt our 
selves. His suggestions and temptations would not work were there 
not some intervening thought, and that maketh us guilty. Besides, 
some sins have their sole rise from our own corruption, as the im 
perfect animals are sometimes bred ex putri materia, only out of 

1 Euseb. Eccles. Hist., lib. ii. cap. 7. 


slimy matter, and at other times they are engendered by copulation. 
It is useless to cast it upon others I was tempted of others. Actions 
cannot he accomplished without our own concurrence, and we must 
bear the guilt. But it is blasphemous to cast it upon God, and say, 
' I am tempted of God;' and yet we are apt to do so, partly to be 
clear in our own thoughts. Men would do anything rather than think 
basely of themselves, for it is man's disposition to be ' right in his 
own eyes/ Prov. xvi. 2. We love those glasses that would make us 
show fairest. It is against nature for a man willingly to profess and 
own his own shame : Job. xxxi. 33, ' If I hid my sin as did Adam,' 
i.e., more liominum, as Adam and all Adam's children do. Men would 
be clear and better than they are. Partly because by casting it upon 
God the soul is most secure. When he that is to punish sin beareth 
the guilt of it, the soul is relieved from much horror and bondage ; 
therefore, in the way of faith, God's transacting our sin upon Christ 
is most satisfying to the spirit : Isa. liii. 6, ' The Lord hath laid on 
him the iniquity of us all.' Now, we would lay it upon God by odious 
aspersions of his power and providence ; for if we could once make 
God a sinner, we would be secure. You see we do not fear men that 
are as faulty as ourselves ; they need pardon as well as we, and there 
fore is it that the soul doth so wickedly design to bring God into a 
partnership and fellowship of our guilt. Partly through a wicked de 
sire that is in men to blemish the being of God. Man naturally hateth 
God ; and our spite is shown this way, by polluting and profaning 
his glory, and making it become vile in our thoughts ; for since we 
cannot raze out the sense of the deity, w r e would destroy the dread and 
reverence of it. It is a saying of Plutarch, Malo de me did nullum 
esse Plutarchum quam malum esse Plutarclium, de Deo male sentire 
quam Deum esse negare pejus duco. We cannot deny God, and there- 
lore we debase him, which is worst, as it is better not to be than to 
be wicked ; we think him ' as one of us/ Ps. 1. 21 ; and the apostle 
saith, ' We turn his glory into a lie/ Rom. i. 25. Well, then, beware 
of this wickedness of turning sin upon God. The more natural it is to 
us the more should we take heed of it. We charge God with our 
evils and sins divers ways, 

1. When we blame his providence, the state of things, the times, 
the persons about us, the circumstances of providence, as the laying 
of tempting objects in our way, our condition, &c., as if God's disposing 
of our interests were a calling us to sin : thus Adam, Gen. iii. 12, ' The 
woman which thou gavest me, she gave me, and I did eat.' Mark, it 
is obliquely reflected upon God, ' The woman which tliou gavest me.' 
So many will plead the greatness of their distractions and incum- 
brances. God hath laid so many miseries and discouragements upon 
them, and cast them upon such hard times, that they are forced to 
such shifts ; whereas, alas ! God sendeth us miseries, not to make us 
worse, but to make us better, as Paul seemeth to argue in 1 Cor. x. 13, 
14: if ^ they did turn to idolatry, the fault was not in their sufferings 
and trials, but in themselves. Thus you make God to tempt you to 
sin when you transfer it upon providence, and blame your condition 
rather than yourselves. Providence may dispose of the object, but it 
doth not impel or excite the lust ; it appointeth the condition, but 


Satan setteth up the snare. It was by God's providence that the 
wedge of gold lay in Achan's way, that Bathsheba was offered naked 
to David's eye, that the sensual man hath abundance, that the timo 
rous is surprised with persecution, &c. All these things are from God, 
for the fault lieth not here. The outward estate, or the creatures 
that have been the occasions of our sinning, cannot be blamed : as 
beauty in women, pleasantness in wine. These are good creatures ot 
God, meant for a remedy ; we turn them into a snare. The more of 
God's goodness or glory is seen in any creature, the greater check it 
is to a temptation, for so far it is a memorial of God ; and therefore 
some have observed that desires simply unclean are most usually 
stirred up towards deformed objects. Beauty in itself is some stricture 
and resemblance of the divine majesty and glory, and therefore cannot 
but check motions altogether brutish. It is very observable that of 
the apostle Peter : 2 Pet. i. 4, ' The corruption that is in the world 
through lust.' The world is only the object ; the cause is lust. The 
reason why men are covetous, or sensual, or effeminate, is not in gold, 
or wine, or women, but in men's naughty affections and dispositions. 
So also it is very observable, that when the apostle John would sum 
up the contents of that world which is opposite to the love of God, he 
doth not name the objects, but the lusts ; the fault is there. He doth 
not say, Whatsoever is in the world is pleasures, or honours, or 
profits, but ' the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride 
of life/ and addeth, ' These are not of the Father, but of the world/ 
1 John ii. 16 ; that is, not of God, as riches, and honour, and other 
outward things are, but these are parts of that world that man hath 
made, the world in our own bowels, as the poison is not in the flower, 
but in the spider's nature. 

2. By ascribing sin to the defect and faint operation of the divine 
grace. Men will say they could do no otherwise ; they had no more 
grace given them by God : Prov. xix. 3, ' The foolishness of man 
perverteth his ways, and his heart fretteth against the Lord.' They 
say it was long of God ; he did not give more grace. They ' corrupt 
themselves in what they know/ Jude 10, and then complain, God 
gave no power. Men naturally look upon God as a Pharaoh, requiring 
brick where he gave no straw. The servant in the Gospel would 
make his master in the fault why he did not improve his talent: 
Mat. xxv. 24, ' I knew thou wert an hard man, reaping where thou 
hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed, and there 
fore I went and hid the talent ; ' as if that were all the cause. 

3. When men lay all their miscarriages upon their fate, and the 
unhappy stars that shone at their birth, these are but blind flings at 
God himself, veiled under reflections upon the creature. Alas ! ' who 
is it that bringeth out Mazzaroth in his season, that ordereth the stars 
in their course ? is it not the Lord ? ' To this sort you may refer 
them that storm at any creatures, because they dare not openly and 
clearly oppose themselves against heaven ; .as Job curseth the clay of 
his birth, Job iii. 3, as if it had been unlucky to him ; and others curse 
some lower instruments. 

4. When men are angry they know not why. They are loath to 
spend any holy indignation upon themselves; therefore, feeling the 


stings and gripes of conscience, they fret and fume, and know not 
why. They would fain break out against God, but dare not ; as 
David himself, 2 Sam. vi. 8, ' David was displeased because the Lord 
had made a breach upon Uzzah.' He was angry, but could not tell 
with whom to be angry ; he should have been angry with his own 
folly and ignorance. Wicked men break out apparently : Isa. viii. 
21/22, ' They shall fret themselves, and curse their God, and their 
king, and look upward ; and they shall look to the earth,' &c. Sin 
proving unhappy, vexeth the soul ; and then men curse and rave, and 
break out into indecencies of passion and madness, accusing God, 
and providence, and instruments, and any but themselves. So. Kev. 
xvi. 21, 'They blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their 
plagues;' the madness of their rage breaketh out into open blas 
phemy. But in the children of God it is more secretly carried ; there 
is a storming in their hearts, but they dare not give it vent ; as in 
Jonah, chap, iv., he was vexed, and surcharged with passion, but 
knew not upon whom to disgorge it. 

5. Most grossly, when you think he useth any suggestion to the 
soul, to persuade it and incline it to evil. Satan may come, and, by 
the help of fancy and the senses, transmit evil counsel to the soul. 
But God doth not, as more fully hereafter : Mat. v. 37, ' Whatsoever 
is beyond these cometh of evil ; ' in the original it is e'/c Trovrjpov, not 
only of the evil heart, but the evil serpent ; from the devil, and our 
corruption, if it be beside the rule. There is Satan's counsel in all 
this, not the Lord's. 

6. When you have an ill understanding and conceit of his decrees, 
as if they did necessitate you to sin. Men will say, Who can help it ? 
God would have it so, as if that were an excuse for all. Though God 
hath decreed that sin shall be, yet he doth neither infuse evil nor 
enforce you to evil. God doth not infuse evil ; that which draweth 
you to it is your own concupiscence, as in the next verse. He doth 
not give you an evil nature or evil habits ; these are from yourselves. 
He doth enforce you, neither physically, by urging and inclining the 
will to act, nor morally, by counselling and persuading, or commanding 
you to it. God leaveth you to yourselves, casteth you in his pro 
vidence, and in pursuance of his decrees, upon such things as are a 
snare to you ; that is all that God doth, as anon will more fully 
appear. I only now take notice of that wickedness which is in our 
natures, whereby we are apt to blemish God, and excuse ourselves. 

06s. 3. From that he cannot be tempted with evil, that God is 
so immutably good and holy that he is above the power of a tempta 
tion. Men soon warp and vary, but he cannot be tempted. There is 
a wicked folly in man which maketh us measure God by the creature ; 
and, because we can be tempted, think God can be tempted also ; as 
suppose, enticed to give way to our sins. Why else do they desire him 
to prosper them in their evil projects, to further unjust gain, or un 
clean intents ? as the whore, Prov. vii. 14, had her vows and peace- 
offerings to prosper in her wantonness. And generally, we deal with 
God as if he could be tempted and wrought to a compliance with our 
corrupt ends, as Solomon speaketh of sacrifice offered with an evil 
mind, Prov. xxi. 27 ; that is, to gain the favour of heaven in some 


evil undertaking and design. Thus the king of Moab hoped to entice 
God by the multitude of his sacrifices, seven altars, seven oxen, seven 
rams, Num. xxii. , and the prophet, of some that thought to draw God 
into a liking of their oppression: Zech. xi. 5, 'Blessed be God, I am 
rich.' So in these times wicked men have a pretence of religion, as if 
they would allure the Lord to enter into their secret, and come under 
the banner of their faction and conspiracy. Oh ! what base thoughts 
have carnal men of God ! No wonder the word of God is made a 
nose of wax, when God himself is made an idol or puppet, that 
moveth by the wire of every carnal worshipper! Oh! check this 
blasphemy. God cannot be tempted ; he is immutably just and holy : 
Ilab. i. 13, ' Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst 
not look on iniquity.' Iniquity shall never have a good look from 
him. Oh ! then, how should we tremble that are easily carried aside 
with temptation ! How can you stand before the God that cannot be 
tempted ? 

Uses of this note are two : 

1. It is an inducement to get an interest in God, and more com 
munion with him : a believer is ' made partaker of the divine nature,' 
2 Peter i. 4. Now the more of the divine nature in you, the more you 
are able to stand against temptations. We are easily carried aside, 
because we have more of man than God in us. We are so mutable, 
that if all memory of sin and Satan were abolished, man himself 
would become his own devil ; but God is at the same stay. Oh ! let 
us covet more of the divine nature, that when the tempter cometh he 
may find the less in us. We do in nothing so much resemble God as 
in immutable holiness. 

2. You may make use of it to the purpose in hand. When natural 
thoughts rise in us, thoughts against the purity of God, say thus : 
Surely God cannot be the author of sin, who is the ultor or the avenger 
of it ; he is at the same pass and stay of holiness, and cannot warp 
aside to evil. Especially make use of it when anything is said of God 
in scripture which doth not agree with that standing copy of his holi 
ness, the righteous law which he hath given us. Do not think it any 
variation from that immutable tenor of purity and justice which is in 
his nature, for * he cannot be tempted ; ' as when he bade Abraham 
offer his son, it was not evil, partly because God may require the life of 
any of his creatures when he will ; partly because, being the lawgiver, 
he may dispense with his own law : and a peculiar precept is not in 
force when it derogateth from a general command, to wit, that we 
must do whatsoever God requireth: so in bidding them spoil the 
Egyptians. God is not bound to our rule ; the moral law is a rule to 
us, not to himself, &c. In all such cases salve the glory of God, for he 
is aTreipacrros KCLK&V, altogether incapable of the least sin or evil. 

Obs. 4. From that neither tempteth he any man, that the Lord 
is no tempter ; the author of all good cannot be the author of sin. 
God useth many a moving persuasion to draw us to holiness, not a 
hint to encourage us to sin ; certainly they are far from the nature of 
God that entice others to wickedness, for he tempteth no man man 
tempteth others many ways : 

1. By commands, when you contribute your authority to the counte- 


nancing of it. It is the character of Jeroboam that he ' made Israel 
to sin : ' ' Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that made Israel to sin/ It is 
again and again repeated ; the guilt of a whole nation lieth upon his 
shoulders ; Israel ruined him, and he ruined Israel. So 2 Chron. xxxiii. 
9, ' Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, 
and do worse than the heathens/ Mark, he made them ; their sins are 
charged upon your score. In the 7th of the Revelations, where the 
tribes are numbered, Dan is altogether left out, and Ephraim is not 
mentioned. Dan was the first leading tribe that by example went over 
to idols : Judges xviii., and Ephraim by authority : so some give the 

2. By their solicitations and entreaties, when men become panders 
to others' lusts : Prov. vii. 21, ' With much fair speech she caused him 
to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him/ Mark, she 
caused him to yield, and then forced him ; first he began to incline, 
and then he could no longer resist. When such Eves lay forth their 
apples, what evil cometh by it ? Solicitations are as the bellows to 
blow up those latent sparkles of sin which are hidden in our natures 
into a flame. 

3. Those that soothe up or encourage men in their evil ways, calling 
evil good and good evil, like Ahab's prophets. Their word is, ' Go up 
and prosper ; ' they cry, Peace, peace ! to a soul utterly sunk and lost in 
a pit of perdition. Oh ! how far are these from the nature of God. He 
tempteth no man ; but these are devils in man's shape ; their work is 
to seduce and tempt murderers of souls, yea (as Epiphanius calleth 
the Novatians), murderers of repentance. 1 Dives in hell had more 
charity ; he would have some to testify to his brethren * lest they came 
into that place of torment,' Luke xvi. 28. But these are factors for 
hell, negotiate for Satan, strengthen the hands of the wicked, and 
(which God taketh worse) discourage and set back those that were 
looking towards heaven. So the apostle, 2 Peter ii. 18, they 'allure 
through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that 
were clean escaped from them that live in error, rot)? OVTCDS cnrofyv- 
yovTas, really or verily escaped, that is, had begun to profess the gospel ; 
or, as some copies have, oXf/yw? aTrocfrvyovTas, having a little escaped 
from error ; thence the vulgar eos qui paululum effugiunt, with which 
the Syriac and Arabic translations agree ; 2 and so it showeth how ill 
God taketh it, that the early growth and budding of grace should be 
blasted, and as soon as they began to profess any change, that a seducer 
should set them back again, and entangle those that had made some 
escape, and were in a fair way to a holy life. This is Satan's dis 
position outright : the dragon watched for the man-child as soon as he 
was born, Bev. xii. 4, and these make advantage of those early ten 
dencies and dispositions to faith which are in poor souls ; for while they 
are deeply affected with their sins, and admiring the riches and grace 
of Christ, they strike in with some erroneous representations, and, under 
a colour of liberty and gospel, reduce and bring them back to their old 

Use 2. If God tempteth no man, then it informeth us that God can- 

1 ' TOI)J Novels TTJS /AeTavolas.' Epiphan. 

2 So see Jerom. lib. iii. contra Jovin. et Aug. de Fide et Operibus, cap. 25. 


not be the author of sin. I shall here take occasion a little to enlarge 
upon that point. I shall first clear those places which seem to imply 
it ; then, secondly, show you what is the efficiency and concurrence of 
God about sin. 

I. For the clearing of the places of scripture. They are of divers 
ranks ; there are some places that seem to say that God doth tempt, as 
Gen. xxii. 1, ' God tempted Abraham ; ' so in many other places ; but 
that was but a trial of his faith, not a solicitation to sin. There is a 
tempting by way of trial, and a tempting by way of seclucement. 1 
God trieth their obedience, but doth not stir them up to sin. But you 
will say, there are other places which seem to hint that God doth 
solicit, incite, and stir up to sin ; as 1 Chron. v. 26, ' God stirred up 
the spirit of Pul, the king of Assyria, to carry away the Jews captive ; ' 
but that was not evil, to punish an hypocritical nation, but just and 
holy, a part of his corrective discipline ; and God's stirring implieth 
nothing but the designation of his providence, and the ordering of that 
rage and fury that in them was stirred up by ambition and other evil 
causes, as a correction to his people. So also 2 Sani. xxiv. 1, ; The 
anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David to 
number the people.' But compare it with 1 Chron. xxi. 1, and you 
shall see it is said, ' Satan stood up and provoked David to number the 
people ;' and so some explain one place by the other, and refer that he 
to Satan, ' The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he/ 
(that is, the devil) ; or it may be referred to the last antecedent, the 
Lord, whose anger is said to be stirred up ; he moved, that is permitted 
Satan to move, by withdrawing himself from David. God moved 
permissive, Satan efficaciter : God suffered, Satan tempted ; for God 
is often in scripture said to do that which he doth but permit to 
be done ; as to * Awaken the sword against the man his fellow/ Zech. 
xiii. 7, that is, to stir up all that rage which was exercised upon 
Christ ; and the reason of such expressions is because of the activeness 
of his providence in and about sin, for he doth not barely permit it, 
but dispose circumstances and occasions, and limit and overrule it, so 
as it may be for good. Thus also Ps. cv. 25, 'He turned their heart 
to hate his people, and to deal subtilely with his servants/ The mean 
ing is, God only offereth the occasion by doing good to his people. The 
Egyptians pursued them out of envy and jealousy. God, I say, only 
gave the occasion, did not restrain their malice; therefore he is said to 
do it. There are other places which imply that God hardeneth, 
blindeth sinners, delivereth them over to a reprobate sense, serideth 
them a strong delusion ; asKom. i. 2 ; Thes. ii. 11, and in many other 
places. I answer in general to them all : God, by doing these things, 
doth not tempt the good that they may become evil, but only most 
justly punisheth the evil with evil : this hardening, blinding, is not a 
withdrawing a good quality from them, but a punishment according 
to their wickedness. Particularly God is said to harden, as he doth 
not soften ; he doth not infuse evil, but only withhold grace ; hardness 
of heart is man's sin, but hardening, God's judgment. So again, God 
is said to make blind as he doth not enlighten, as freezing and dark 
ness follow upon the absence of the sun : he doth not infuse evil, nor 

1 ' Diabolus tentat ; Deus probat.' Tertul. de Orat. 


take away any good thing from them, but only refuseth to give them 
more grace, or to confirm them in the good they have. So also God 
is said to give up to lusts when he doth not restrain us, but leaveth us 
to our own sway and the temptations of Satan. So God is said to send 
a strong lie when he suffereth us to be carried away with it. God in 
deed foreseeth and knoweth how we will behave ourselves upon these 
temptations, but the foresight of a thing doth not cause it. 

Some urge that 1 Kings xxii. 22, ' Thou shalt be a lying spirit ; go 
forth and do so, and thou shalt prevail with him.' But that is only a 
parabolical scheme of providence, and implieth not a charge and com 
mission so much as a permission. 

Others urge those places which do directly seem to refer sin to God ; 
as Gen. xlv. 5, 8, 'Be not grieved nor offended, it was not you that 
sent me hither ; it was not you, but God.' The very sending, which was 
a sinful act, is taken off from man and appropriated to God. So 1 
Kings xii. 15, ' The king hearkened not unto the people, for the cause 
was from the Lord ; ' that rebellion there is said to be from the Lord. 
I answer These things are said to be of the Lord because he would dis 
pose of them to his own glory, and work out his own designs and 
decrees. There are some other places urged, as where God is said to 
deliver Christ, to bruise and afflict him, which was an evil act, &c. ; 
but these only imply a providential assistance arid co-operation, by 
which God concurreth to every action of the creatures, as shall be 
cleared elsewhere. 

II. I am to state the efficiency and concurrence of God about sin. 
All that God doth in it may be given you in these propositions : 

1. It is certain that without God sin would never be ; without his 
prohibition an action would riot be sinful. The apostle saith, ' Where 
is no law, there is no transgression ; ' but I mean chiefly without his per 
mission and fore-knowledge, yea, and I may add, without his will and 
concurrence, without which nothing can happen and fall out ; it can 
not be beside the will of God, for then he were not omniscient ; or 
against his will, for then he were not omnipotent. There is no action 
of ours but needeth the continued concurrence and supportation of 
his providence ; and if he did not uphold us in being and working, we 
could do nothing. 

2. Yet God can by no means be looked upon as the direct author of 
it, or the proper cause of that obliquity that is in the actions of the 
creatures ; for his providence is conversant about sin without sin, as a 
sunbeam lighteth upon a dunghill without being stained by it. This 
is best cleared by a collection and summary of all those actions where 
by, from first to last, providence is concerned in man's sin ; which are 
briefly these : 

[1.] Fore-knowledge and pre-ordination. God intended and ap 
pointed that it should be. Many that grant prescience deny pre 
ordination, lest they should make God the author of sin ; but these 
fear where no fear is. The scripture speaketh roundly, ascribing 
both to God : * Him being delivered by the fore-knowledge and deter 
minate counsel of God/ Acts ii. 23. Mark, Peter saith, not only 
rfj Trpoyvcocrei,, ' by the fore -knowledge/ but wpia^evrj /SoiAf}, ' deter 
minate counsel/ which implieth a positive decree. Now that cannot 


infer any guilt or evil in God, for God appointed it, as he meant to 
bring good out of it. Wicked men have quite contrary ends. Thus 
Joseph speaketh to his brethren, when they were afraid of his revenge, 
Gen 1. 19, ' Am I in the place of God? ' that is, was it my design to 
bring these things to pass, or God's decree? and who am I, that I 
should resist the will of God? And then again, ver. 20, ' But as for 
you, ye thought evil ; but God meant it for good, to bring it to pass, 
as it is this day, to save much people alive ; ' that is, God decreed it 
otherwise than you designed it : your aim was wholly evil, his good. 

[2.] There is a permission of it. God's decrees imply that sin shall 
be, but they do not impel or enforce ; for he leaveth us to the liberty 
of our own hearts, and our own free choice and work ; he is resolved 
not to hinder us : Acts xiv. 16, ' He suffered them to walk in their own 
ways.' God was not bound to hinder it, therefore permission in God can 
not be faulty; ' Who hath given him first ? ' Were grace a debt, it were 
injustice to withhold it ; and did God act out of a servile necessity, 
the creatures might reject the blame of their miscarriages upon the 
faintriess of his operation : but God being free, neither obliged by 
necessity of nature, nor any external rule and law, nor by any fore 
going merit of the creatures, may do with his own as it pleaseth him ; 
and it is a shameless impudence in man to blame God because he is 
free, when himself cannot endure to be bound. 1 

[3.] There is a concurrence to the action, though not to the sinful- 
ness of it. It is said, Acts xvii. 28, ' In him we live, move, and have 
our being.' When God made the creatures, he did not make them 
independent and absolute : we had not only being from him, but still 
we have it in him ; we are in him, we live in him, and we move in 
him, KivovpeOa we are moved or acted in him. All created images 
and appearances are but like the impress of a seal upon the waters : 
take away the seal, and the form vanisheth ; subtract the influence of 
providence, and presently all creatures return to their first nothing ; 
therefore to every action there needeth the support and concurrence 
of God : so that the bare action or motion is good, and from God ; 
but the de-ordination, and obliquity of it, is from man ; it cometh 
from an evil will, and therein is discerned the free work of the crea 

[4.] There is a desertion of a sinner, and leaving of him to himself. 
God may suspend, yea, and withdraw, grace out of mere sovereignty ; 
that is, because he will : but he never doth it but either out of justice 
or wisdom ; out of wisdom, for the trial of his children, as, in the busi 
ness of the ambassadors, ' God left Hezekiah, that he might know 
what was in his heart/ 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. So sometimes in justice, 
to punish the wicked ; as Ps. Ixxxi. 12, ' I gave them up to their own 
hearts' lusts, and they walked in their own counsels.' When grace is 
withdrawn, which should moderate and govern the affections, man is 
left to the sway and impetuous violence of his own lusts. Now God 

14 Homo Deum non nisi ex sensu suo metitur, nee de auctoritate ejus cogitat, quin 
earn circumcidat, nee de libertate quin ei fibulam impositam velit ; Pelagiani omnes 
nascimur, immo cum supercilio pharisaico. HJc character vix delebilis est^: ^Homo sibi 
obnoxium Deum existimat, non se Deo,' &c. Spanhem. de Gratia Universali, in Prcef. ad 


cannot be blamed in all this, partly because he is not bound to give or 
continue grace: partly because, when common light and restraints 
are violated, he seemeth to be bound rather to withdraw what is 
already given ; and when men put finger in the eye of nature, God 
may put it out, that they that will not, may not jsee ; and if the hedge 
be continually broken, it is but justice to pluck it up ; and then if the 
vineyard be eaten down, who can be blamed ? Isa. v. 5 : partly be 
cause the subsequent disorders do arise from man's own counsel and 
free choice ; therefore upon this tradition of God's it is said, ' They 
walked in their own counsels ; ' that is, according to the free motion 
arid inclination of their own spirits. 

[5.] There is a concession and giving leave to wicked instruments, to 
stir them up to evil ; as carnal company, evil acquaintance, false pro 
phets : 1 Kings xxii. 22, ' I will go forth, and be a lying spirit in the 
mouth of Ahab's prophets ; and God said, Go forth.' In that scheme 
and draught of providence, the evil spirit is brought in, asking leave 
for wicked instruments. So Job xii. 16, it is said, 4 The deceiver and 
deceived are his ; ' he is sovereign Lord over all the instruments of 
deceit, so that they are restrained within bounds and limits, that they 
can do nothing further than he will give leave. 

[6.] There is a presenting of occasions, and disposing of them to such 
providences as become a snare ; but this can reflect no dishonour 
upon God, because the providences and objects are good in them 
selves, and in their own nature motives to duty, rather than tempta 
tions to sin. Wicked men abuse the best things the word irritateth 
their corruption ; sin getteth strength by the commandment : Isa. vi. 
9, * Go, make the heart of this people fat/ that is, dull and heavy ; as 
the ass, which of all creatures hath the fattest heart, is the dullest. 1 
The prophet is bidden to make their hearts fat ; the preaching of the 
word, which should instruct and quicken, maketh them the more 
gross and heavy. So also they abuse mercies and miseries : Ps. Ixix. 
22, ' Let their table become a snare, and their welfare a trap/ A 
sinner, like a spider, sucketh poison out of everything ; or, like the 
sea, turneth the sweet influences of the heavens, the fresh supply of 
the rivers, into salt water ; so their table, their welfare, all becomes a 
curse and a snare to them. In this sense it is said, Jer. vi. 21, ' I 
will lay stumbling-blocks before this people ; ' that is, such occasions 
and providences as are a means to ruin them : in all which God most 
righteously promoteth the glory of his justice. 

[7.] A judicial tradition and delivering them up to the power of 
Satan and their own vile affections ; as Kom. i. 26. ' God gave them 
up to vile affections ; ' this is, when God suffereth those /colvas eVi/o/a?, 
those common notices to be quenched, and all manner of restraints to 
be removed : the truth is, we rather give up ourselves ; only, because 
God serveth his ends of it, it is said, he giveth. 

[8.] A limitation of sin. As God appointeth the measures of grace 
according to his own good pleasure, so also the stint of sin ; it runneth 
out so far as may be for his glory : Ps. Ixxvi. 10, ' The wrath of man 
shall praise thee, the remainder thereof shalt thou restrain/ So far 
as it may make for God's glory, God letteth the fierceness of man to 

1 Plutarch. 


have its scope; but when it is come to the stint and bounds that pro 
vidence hath set to it, it is quenched in an instant. 

[9.] There is a disposal and turning of it to the uses of his glory : 
Bom. iii. 7, ' Our unrighteousness commendeth his righteousness, and 
the truth of God aboundeth to his glory through our lie.' God is so 
good, that he would not suffer evil if he could not bring good out of 
it. In regard of the issue and event of it, sin may be termed (as 
Gregory said of Adam's fall) felix culpa, a happy fall, because it 
maketh way for the glory of God. It is good to note how many attri 
butes are advanced by sin mercy in pardoning, justice in punishing, 
wisdom in ordering, power in overruling it ; every way doth our good 
God serve himself of the evils of men. The picture of providence 
would not be half so fair were it not for these black lines and darker 
shadows. Well, then, let me never blame that God for permitting sin, 
who is willing to discover so much mercy in the remitting of it. 

Ver. 14. But every man is tempted ivhen he is drawn away of his 
own lust, and enticed. 

Here he cometh to show the true and proper cause of sin. having 
removed the false pretended caujso, namely, God's providence and de 
cree. The true procreating cause of sin is in every man's soul ; it is 
his lust ; he carrieth. that which is fons et fames, the food and fuel 
of it in his own bosom. Now this lust worketh two ways, by force 
and fraud, drawing away and enticing, as in the explication will more 
fully appear. 

But every man is tempted. He speaketh so universally, because 
none is free but Christ. 

When ~by his own lust. He saith his own, because though we have 
all a corrupt nature in common, yet every one hath a particular several 
inclination to this or that sin rooted in his nature. Or rather own, to 
exclude foreign force, and all violence from without : there is not a 
greater enemy than our own nature. 

His own lust. That I may show you what is meant by lust, I must 
premise something : (1.) The soul of man is chiefly and mainly made 
up of desires ; like a sponge, it is always thirsting, and sucking of 
something to fill itself. All its actings, even the first actings of the 
understanding, come out of some will and some desire ; as the apostle 
speaketh of ' the wills of the mind,' Eph. ii. 3, a place I shall touch upon 
again by and by. (2.) At least this will be granted, that the bent of 
the soul, the most vigorous, commanding, swaying faculty of the soul, 
is desire ; that SVVCLIJLLS eTriOvfjurfTiKr] is, I say, the most vigorous bent of 
the soul. (3.) Since the fall, man rather consulteth with his desires 
than with anything else, and there all action and pursuit beginneth. So 
that this faculty is eminently corrupted, and corrupteth and swayeth all 
the rest; and therefore gross lusts, the lower and baser desires, are called, 
* the law of the members,' Kom. vii. 23 ; desires or lusts giving law 
to the whole soul. Upon these reasons I suppose it is that all sin is 
expressed by lust, which, if taken in a proper and restrained sense, 
would not reach the obliquities of the whole nature of man, but only 
of one faculty ; but because there seemeth to be in the creature a 
secret will and desire, by which every act is drawn out, and desire is 
the most vigorous faculty, bending and engaging the soul to action, 


the Spirit of God chooseth to express sin by lust, and such words as 
are most proper to the desires of the creatures. It is true, that in the 
Old Testament I find it expressed by a word proper to the under 
standing, by ' inventions/ or ' imaginations/ or ' counsels/ whence 
those phrases, ' walking according to their own imaginations/ and 
' walking in their own counsels/ But the New Testament delighteth 
rather in the other expressions of ' concupiscence ' and ' lust/ words 
proper to the desires ; the reason of which difference I conceive to be, 
partly the manner of the Hebrews, who frequently use words of the 
understanding to note suitable affections ; partly the state of the world, 
who at first were brutish in their conceits, and prone to idols, and 
therefore the Old Testament runneth in that strain, ' imaginations/ 
* counsels/ &c. ; and at length were brutish in their desires, and more 
prone to gross sins ; and therefore in the New, it is ' lusts/ ' concupis 
cence/ &c. However, this 1 observe, that in the Old Testament there 
is some word belonging to the will and desires adjoined to those 
words of the understanding, as the ' imaginations of their own hearts/ 
' the counsels of their own hearts / that is, such imaginations as were 
stirred up and provoked by their own hearts and desires. All this is 
premised to show you why the scripture chooseth to express sin by 
lust and concupiscence. 

Now, lust may be considered two ways : (1.) As a power ; (2.) As 
an act. 

1. As a power, and so it noteth that habitual, primitive, and radical 
indisposition to good, and a disposition to evil, that is in all the facul 
ties the whole dunghill of corruption, which reeketh sometimes in the 
understanding by evil thoughts, sometimes in the will by lusts and 
corrupt desires, and is the mother out of whose womb all sin cometh ; 
and as it is called lust or concupiscence, so it is called flesli, the oppo 
site contrary principle to spirit : Gal. v. 17, ' The flesh lusteth against 
the spirit / there it is called flesh, and its radical act lusting. 

2. Look upon it as an act, and actual lust or concupiscence, and it 
is nothing else but the risings and first motions of this fleshly nature 
that is in us. These lustings are of two sorts those of the lower and 
those of the upper soul. The apostle calleth them, Eph. ii. 3, ' the 
wills of the flesh, and of the mind/ 

_ [1.] The wills of the flesh are those lower and more brutish appe 
tites which are the rise of lust, wantonness, drunkenness, gluttony, 
called by way of emphasis, l the lusts of the flesh:' 1 John ii. 16, 
' Whatever is in the world is the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, 
and the pride of life.' By the lusts of the flesh are meant the neigh- 
ings of the soul after outward pleasures, and all manner of sensual and 
carnal delights. Now these, when they are improved into gross and 
irregular actions, stink in the nostrils of nature. In Aristotle 1 they 
are called eiriOv^iai 6r)pia>$eis, brutish and belluine, not only because we 
have them in common with the beasts, but because they degenerate 
into a brutish excess. Thus you see what lusts of the flesh are. I 
confess they are sometimes taken more largely for any risings of 
corrupt nature, it being most natural to us to be enslaved by sensual 
and fleshly objects ; the part is put for the whole. 

1 Arist. Ethic., lib. vii. cap. 6. 


[2.] The wills of the mind are the first risings of the corruption 
that is in the upper soul, as fleshly reasonings, thoughts, and desires, 
covetousness, ambition, pride, envy, malice, &c. These are rooted in 
the corrupt risings or stirrings of the mind, will, &c. These things I 
thought good to hint, to show you what the scripture intendeth by 
lust, the vicious inclinations of our own spirits, chiefly those impetus 
primo primi, the first risings of original sin. 

He is drawn away and enticed. There is some variety among inter 
preters in opening these two words. Some conceive that in these two 
words the apostle givetli out two causes of sin, one internal, which is 
lust, as if that were hinted in the former word : ' drawn away by his 
lust ;' and the other external, to wit, the pleasure that adhereth to the 
object, which is as the bait to entice the soul, for the word signifieth 
enticed as with a bait ; and (as Plato saith) rjftovrj 8e\ap KCLKWV, 
pleasure is the bait of sin. Thus Piscator and our translators seem 
to favour it, in putting the words thus : ' When he is drawn by his 
own lust, and enticed ;' as if they would intimate to us this sense, 
drawn away by his own lust, and enticed by the object ; whereas, the 
posture of th<3 words in the original referreth both to lust ; thus, 
' When he is drawn away and enticed by his lust.' Others make 
these words to hint several degrees in the admission of sin. Thus, 
first drawn away from God, then enticed by sin ; then, in the next 
verse, ' sin conceiveth,' then ' bringeth forth,' &c. Others, as Pareus, 
Grotius, &c., make these to be the two parts of sin, and by drawing 
away, say they, is meant the departure from the true good, and by 
enticed, the cleaving to evil. For look, as in grace there is something 
privative and something positive, a departure from evil and a cleaving 
to good so, on the contrary, there is in sin a withdrawing from that 
which is good, and an ensnaring by that which is evil. I cannot 
altogether disallow this sense, though I rather incline to think that 
neither the object nor the parts of evil are here hinted, but only the 
several ways which lust taketh to undo us ; partly by force, and so 
that word cometh in, e^eTuro/Aei'o?, he is ' drawn aside,' or haled with 
the rage and impetuous violence of his desires ; partly by blandishment 
and allurements ; and so the other word is used, SeXea^oyLtez/o?, ' he 
is enticed,' and beguiled with the promise and appearance of pleasure 
and satisfaction to the soul. 

From this verse observe : 

Obs. 1. That the cause of evil is in a man's self, in his own lusts, 
77 18 la eTTLOvpia, the Eve in our own bosoms. Corrupt nature is not 
capable of an excuse. Sin knoweth no mother but your own hearts. 
Every man's heart may say to him, as the heart of Apollodorus in the 
kettle, 1 eyo> aol TOVTCW air la it is I have been the cause of this. 
Other things may concur, but the root of all is in yourselves. A man 
is never truly humbled till he ' smite upon his own thigh,' and doth 
express most indignation against himself. Do not say it was God. 
He gave a pure soul, only it met with viciously disposed matter. 
It is not the light, but the putrid matter that made the torch stink, 
though, it is true, it did not stink till it was lighted. You cannot 

1 Plut. de Sera Num. Vindict. 


altogether blame the devil : ' Suggestion can do nothing without 
lust/ 1 I remember Nazianzen saith, TO irvp Trap TI^V, rjSe <Xof rov 
TTvevfjuaTosthe fire is in our wood, though it be the devil's flame. You 
cannot blame the world ; there are allurements abroad, but it is your 
fault to swallow the bait. If you would have resisted embraces, as 
Tamar did Amnon's, the world could not force you. Do not cry out 
of examples ; there is somewhat in thee that made thee close with the 
evil before thee. Examples provoke abhor r en cy from the sin, if there 
be nothing in the man to suit with it. Lot was the more righteous for 
living in Sodom, and Anach arsis the more temperate for living in 
Scythia ; ungodly examples are permitted to increase detestation, not 
to encourage imitation. Do not cry out of occasions. David saw 
Bathsheba naked ; but he saith, ' I have sinned and done this evil,' 
Ps. li. 4. Do not cast all the blame upon the iniquity of the times ; 
good men are best in worst times, most glorious when the generation 
is most crooked, Phil. ii. 15 ; most careful of duty when the age is 
most dissolute, ' redeeming the time, for the days are evil,' Eph. v. 
16 ; like fire that scorcheth most in the sharpest frost, or stars that 
shine brightest in the darkest nights. Do not blame the pleasantness 
of the creatures. You may as well say you will rebel against the 
prince because he hath bestowed power upon you, and by his bounty 
you are able to make war against him. It is true, there is much in 
these things ; but there is more in your hearts. It is your venomous 
nature that turneth all to poison. 

Obs. 2. That, above all things, a man should look to his desires. 
All sin is called eTuOvpia, lust or desire. God calleth for the heart : 
' My son, give me thy heart;' which is the seat of desires. The 
children of God, when they plead their inriocency, urge their desires, 
they fail in duty ; but their ' desires are to the remembrance of his 
name/ Neh. i. 11 ; Isa. xxvi. 8. The first thing by which sin discovereth 
itself is by lust or desire. All actions have their rise from some inclina 
tion arid tendency of the desire towards the object. Before there is any 
thought or consultation in the soul, there is 6'/oet9, a general tendency or 
bent in the soul. Well, then, look to your lusts or desires ; the whole 
man is swayed by them : men are worldly or heavenly as their de 
sires are ; appetite followetli life ; the spirit hath its lustings as well 
as the flesh. See how it is with you. 

Obs. 3. The way that lust taketh to ensnare the soul is by force 
and flattery, either * drawn away ' or 'enticed/ 

First, By violence, e^eX/co/uew?, drawn away, haled with it. One 
way of knowing desires to be irregular is, if they are violent and over- 
pleasing to the flesh. When affections are impetuous, you have just 
cause to suspect them, not to satisfy them. David would not touch 
the waters of Bethlehem when he longed for them, 2 Sam. xxiii. 17. 
Rage of desire can never be lawful. Greediness is a note of unclean- 
ness, Eph. iv. 19. When the heart boileth or panteth, it is not love, 
but lust. When you find any such force upon your spirits towards 
carnal objects, if you would be innocent, complain and cry out as the 
ravished virgin under the law ; if she cried out she was guiltless. It 

1 'Diabolidecipientiscalliditas, ethominis consentientis voluntas.' Aug. dePeccat. Oriy. 

lib. ii. cap. 37. 


is a sign that sin hath not gained your consent, but committeth a 
rape upon your souls. When you cry out to God, Bom. vii. 24, ' O 
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me ? ' you may discern this 
force upon your souls. 

1. When your desires will not endure consultation, or the consider 
ation of reason, but you are carried on by a brutish rage ; as Jer. v. 
8, * They were as fed horses ; every one neighed after his neighbour's 
wife.' They had no more command of themselves than a fed horse. 
So Jer. viii. 6, ' Every one turneth into his course, as the horse into 
the battle/ The rage of the horse is stirred up by a warlike noise, 
and then they confront danger, and press on upon the pikes and the 
heat of the battle. So they go on with an unbridled license against 
all reason and restraints, without any counsel and recollection. Your 
lusts will not allow you the pause of reason and discourse. 

2. When they grow more outrageous by opposition, and that little 
check that you give to them is like the sprinkling of water upon 
the coals, the fire burnetli the more fiercely. This is that which the 
apostle calleth TraOos eiriOv^ia^, ' the passionateness of lust.' We 
translate it a little too flatly, ' the lust of concupiscence,' 1 Thes. iv. 
5. It noteth a raging earnestness. This violence is most discerned 
in the irregular motions of the sensual appetite, which are most sen 
sible because they disturb reason, vex the soul, oppress the body. 
But it is also in other sins. The apostle speaketh of it elsewhere : 
Kom. i. 27, ' They burned in their lust one towards another/ It is 
when reason is so disturbed and oppressed, that there can be no resist 
ance ; yea, grace itself is overborne. 

3. When they urge and vex the soul till fulfilled, which is often ex 
pressed in scripture by a languor and sickness. Now this is such 
an height and excess of affection as is only due to objects that are 
most excellent and spiritual ; otherwise it is a note of the power of 
lust. To be sick for Christ is but a duty, Cant. ii. 5 ; so worthy an 
object will warrant the highest affection. But to be sick for any out 
ward and carnal object noteth the irnpetuousness and violence of sin 
in the soul. Thus Amnon was sick for Tamar, 2 Sam. xiii. 2 ; that 
was a sickness to death, the sickness of lust and uncleanness. Ahab 
was sick of covetousness, 1 Kings xxi. 4 ; and Hainan for honour, 
Esth. v. All violent affections urge the soul, and make it impatient ; 
and because affections are the nails and pins that tie body and soul to 
gether, leave a faintness and weakness in the body. 

This violence of lust may inform us, 

1. Why wicked men are so mad upon sin, and give themselves 
over to it to their own disadvantage : ' They draw iniquity with 
cart ropes,' Isa. v. 18. As beasts that are under the yoke put out all 
their strength to draw the load that is behind them, so these draw 
on wickedness to their disadvantage, commit it though it be difficult 
and inconvenient. So it is said, Jer. ix. 5, that they ' weary them 
selves to commit iniquity/ What is the reason of all this ? There is 
a violence in sin which they cannot withstand. 

2. Why the children of God cannot do as they would withstand a 
temptation so resolutely, perform duties so acceptably. Lusts may be 
strong upon them also. It is observable that James saith, ' Every man 



is tempted,' taking in the godly too. A wicked man doth nothing but 
sin his works are merely evil ; but a godly man's are not purely 
good : Kom. vii. 19, ' The good that I would I do not do ; but the evil 
that I would not, that I do/ Though they do not resolve and harden 
their faces in a way of sin, yet they may be discouraged in a way of 
grace. So Gal. v. 17, 'Ye cannot do the things that ye would.' Their 
resolutions are broken by this violence and potent opposition. 

Secondly, Observe, the next way of lust is by flattery, SeXeafoyaez'o?, 
enticed. It cometh lapped up in the bait of pleasure, and that mightily 
prevaileth with men : Titus iii. 3, ' Serving divers lusts and pleasures/ 
That is one of the impediments of conversion lust promiseth delight 
and pleasure ; so Job xx. 12, ' Wickedness is sweet in his mouth, and he 
hicleth it under his tongue,' It is an allusion to children, that hide a 
sweet morsel under their tongue, lest they should let it go too soon. 
Neither is this only meant of sensual wickedness, such as is conversant 
about meats, drinks, and carnal comforts ; but spiritual, as envy, 
malice, griping plots to undo and oppress others : Prov. ii. 14, c They 
rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked/ Ee- 
venge is sweet, oppression is sweet, to a carnal heart ; so Prov. x. 23, 
' It is a sport to a fool to do mischief/ They are enticed with a kind 
of pleasure of that which is mischievous to another. Well, then : 

1. Learn to suspect things that are too delightful. Carnal objects 
tickle much, and beget an evil delight, and so fasten upon the soul. 
It is time to ' put a knife to the throat ' when you begin to be tickled 
with the sweets of the world. Your foot is in the snare when the 
world cometh in upon you with too much delight. That which you 
should look after in the creatures is their usefulness, not their plea 
santness that is the bait of lust. The philosopher could say, that 
natural desires are properly Trpb? TO. dvayfcala, to what is necessary. 1 
Solomon saitli, Prov. xxiii. 31, ' Look not upon the wine when it 
is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself 
right/ You need not create allurements to your fancy, and by the 
eye invite the taste. There are stories of heathens that would not 
look upon excellent beauties lest they should be ensnared. Pleasures 
are but enticements, baits that have hooks under them. The harlot's 
lips drop honey in the greeting, and wormwood in the parting, Prov. 
vii. ; like John's book, honey in the mouth, and wormwood in the 
bowels. God hath made man of such a nature that all carnal delights 
leave impressions of sorrow at their departure. 

2. Learn what need there is of great care. Pleasure is one of the 
baits of lust. The truth is, all sins are rooted in love of pleasure. 
Therefore be watchful. Noonday devils are most dangerous, and 
such things do us most mischief as betray us with smiles and 
kisses. Heathens were out that advised to pleasures, that by experience 
we might be weaned from them; as Tully2 saith of youth, voluptates 
experiendo contemnatky use of pleasures let us learn to disdain them, 
as the desires are deadened and flattened to an accustomed object. But, 
alas ! this is the bait of lust rather than the cure. Poor souls ! they 
did not know a more excellent way. It is true, some curiosity is 

1 Arist. Eth., lib. vii. cap vi. 

2 M. T. Cicero in Orat. pro Rege Deiot, 


satisfied by experience : but, however, the spirit groweth more sot 
tish and sensual. Wicked men, when once they are taken in that 
snare, are in a most sad condition, and think that they can never have 
enough of sensual pleasures ; all delight seemeth to them too short ; 
as one wished for a crane's neck, that he might have the longer relish 
of meats and drinks. And Tacitus speaketh of another glutton that, 
though he could satisfy his stomach, yet not his fancy or lust ; quod 
edere non potuit, oculo devoravit his womb was sooner filled than his 

Ver. 15. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and 
sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 

Then, when lust, eira Se. After this he goeth on in describing the 
progress of sin : after that lust had by violence withdrawn, and by 
delight ensnared, the soul, then sin is conceived ; and after conception, 
there is a bringing forth ; and after the birth, death. 

Hath conceived; that is, as soon as sin beginneth to form motions 
and impulses into desires, and to ripen things into a consent ; for sin, 
or corrupt nature, having inclined the soul unto a carnal object by 
carnal apprehensions, laboureth to fix the soul in an evil desire. Now 
the titillation or delight which ariseth from such carnal thoughts and 
apprehensions is called the conception of sin. 

It bringeth forth ; that is, perfecteth sin, and bringeth it to effect 
within us, by a full consent and decree in the will ; and without us, 
by an actual execution. The one is the forming and cherishing in the 
womb after conception ; the other, as the birth and production. 

Sin ; that is, actual sin ; for the Papists go beside the scope when 
they infer hence that lust without consent is not truly sin. Our 
Saviour saith plainly, that the first titillations are sinful : Mat. v. 28, 
' Whoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed 
adultery with her already in his heart/ Though there be but such 
an imperfect consent as is occasioned by a glancing thought, it is 
adultery. But you will say, How is this place to be reconciled with 
that of Paul, Kom. vii. 8, where he saith, ' Sin wrought in him all 
manner of lust ; ' and here it is said, ' Lust bringeth forth sin/ I 
answer By sin Paul understandeth that which James calleth here lust, 
that is, evil nature, or the wicked bent of the spirit ; and by lust, the 
actual excitation of evil nature : but by sin James understandeth the 
actual formation and accomplishment of those imperfect desires that 
are in the soul. 

And sin, when it is finished ; that is, actually accomplished, and by 
frequent acts strengthened, and settled into a habit. But why doth 
the apostle say, ' When it is finished ' ? Are all the rest venial all 
corrupt motions till sin be drawn either to a full consent, or an actual 
accomplishment, or a perfect habit. I answer (1.) The apostle doth 
not distinguish between sin and sin, but speaketh of the entire course 
and method of the same sin, of the whole flux and order, and so rather 
showeth what death and hell followeth, than how it is deserved. Every 
sin is mortal in its own nature, and bindeth over the sinner to^death 
and punishment ; but usually men consummate and perfect sin ere 
it lighteth upon them. (2.) Death may be applied as the common 
fruit to every degree in this series, to the conception as well as the 


production, and to the production as well as the consummation of 
it. The grandfather and great-grandfather have an interest in the 
child, as well as the immediate parent ; and death is a brat that 
may be laid, not only at sin's door, but lust's. (3.) It is good to 
note that James speaketh here according to the appearance of things 
to men. When lust bringeth forth, and the birth and conceptions of 
the soul are perfected into a scandalous gross sin, men are sensible of 
the danger and merit of it. 

Brmgeth forth ; that is, bindeth the soul over to it ; for in this suc 
cession there is a difference : lust is the mother of sin, but sin is the 
merit of death; and so Cajetan glosseth well, general meritorie, it 
bringeth forth, as the work yieldeth the wages. 

Death. It is but a modest word for damnation ; the first and second 
death are both implied : for as the apostle showeth the supreme cause 
of sin, which is lust ; so the last and utmost result of it, which is death ; 
not only that which is temporal, for then the series would not be 
perfect, but that other death, which we are always dying, and is called 
death, because life is neither desired, nor can it properly be said to be 
enjoyed. Vivere nolunt, mori nesciunt they would not live, and 
cannot die. 

The notes are these: 

Obs. 1. That sin encroacheth upon the spirit by degrees ; the 
apostle goeth on with the pedigree of it. Lust begetteth strong and 
vigorous motions, or pleasing and delightful thoughts, which draw 
the mind to a full and clear consent ; and then sin is hatched, and then 
disclosed, and then strengthened, and then the person is destroyed. 
To open the process or successive inclination of the soul to sin, it will 
not be amiss to give the whole traverse of any practical matter in the 
soul. There is first o/oef t?, which is nothing but the irritation of the 
object, provoking the soul to look after it; then there is OP/JLTJ, a 
motion of the sensitive appetite, or lower soul, which, receiving things 
by the fancy, representeth them as a sensual good ; and so a man 
inclineth to them, according as they are more or less pleasant to the 
senses ; and then the understanding cometh to apprehend them, and the 
will inclineth, at least so far as to move the understanding to look 
more after them, and to advise about some likely means to accomplish 
and effect them, which is called /3ov\7jcr^, consultation ; and when the 
understanding hath consulted upon the motion of the will, there 
followeth POV\T), a decree of the will about it, and tlien aipeai,?, the 
actual choice of the thing, and then ^ov\^^a, a perfect desire, and then 
action. And so sin is represented by the fancy to the appetite ; and 
then fancy, being a friend, blindeth the understanding, and then the 
soul beginneth to be engaged in the pursuit of it. If this course and 
method be a little too large for your thoughts, see it contracted in 
this passage of our apostle. There is concupiscence, or corrupt 
nature, then lust, or some inclinations of the soul to close with sin, 
then delight, then full consent, and then action, and then death. 
David observeth somewhat a like progress : Ps. i. 1, ' Blessed is the 
man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in 
the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.' Sin is never 
at a stay : first, ungodly, then sinners, then scorners ; first, counsels, 


then way, then seat ; and again, first, ioalk t then stand, then sit. You 
see distinctly there three different terms for the persons, the objects, 
the actions : first, men like wickedness, then they tcalk in it, then are 
habituated : first, men are ivithdrawn into a way of sin, then confirmed, 
then profess it. To do anything that the Lord hateth, is to ' walk in 
the counsels of the ungodly ; ' to go on with delight, is to ' stand in the 
way of sinners ; ' to harden our hearts against checks of conscience 
and reproofs, is to commence into the highest degree, and to ' sit/ as 
it is there expressed, * in the seat of scorners ; ' or, as it is in the 
Septuagint, rwv Xoipwv, to affect the honour of the chair of pestilence. 
Thus you see men go on from assent to delight, from delight to 

Use 1. Oh that we were wise, then, to rise against sin betimes! 
That we would ' take the little foxes,' Cant. ii. 15 ; even the first 
appearances of corruption ! That we would ' dash Babylon's brats 
against the stone ! ' Ps. cxxxvii. Hugo's gloss is pious, though not so 
suitable to the scope of that place : sit nihil in te Bdbylonicum the 
least of Babylon must be checked; not only the grown men, but dash 
the little ones against the stone. A Christian's life should be spent in 
watching lust. The debates of the soul are quick, and soon ended, 
and, without the mercy of God, that may be done in little more than 
an instant that may undo us for ever. It is dangerous to ' give place 
to Satan/ Eph. iv. 27. The devil will draw us from motions to 
action, and from thence to reiteration, till our hearts be habituated 
and hardened within us: Eccles. x. 13, ' The beginning of a foolish 
man's speech is foolishness, but the latter end is foolish madness/ 
From folly they go on to downright passion. Small breaches in a 
sea-bank occasion the ruin of the whole, if not timely repaired. Sin 
gaineth upon us by insensible degrees, and those that are once in 
Satan's snare are soon taken by him at his will and pleasure. 

Use 2. It reproveth them that boldly adventure upon a sin because 
of the smallness of it ; besides, the offence done to God, in standing 
with him for a trifle, as the ' selling of the righteous ' is aggravated in 
the prophet by the little advantage, ' for a pair of shoes/ Consider 
the danger to yourselves. Great faults do not only ruin the soul, but 
lesser ; dallying with temptations is of a sad consequence. Caesar was 
killed with bodkins. Look, as it is murder to stifle an infant in the 
womb, so it is spiritual murder to suppress and choke the conceptions 
of the Spirit ; x but, on the other side, it is but a necessary rigour to 
dash Babylon's brats, and to suppress sin in the conception and 
growth, ere it be ripened and perfected. We are so far to abhor sin 
as to beware of the remote tendencies ; yea, to avoid ' the occasions of 
it/ 1 Thes. v. 22. If it be but male coloratum, as Bernard glosseth, 
of an ill look and complexion, it is good to stand at a distance. 

Obs. 2. Lust is fully conceived and formed in the soul, when the 
will is drawn to consent ; the decree in the will is the ground of all 
practice. Look, as duties come off kindly when once there is a decree 
in the will : Ps. xxxii. 5, * I said I will confess my transgressions unto 

1 ' Homicidii festinatio est prohibere nasci ; etiam conceptum utero dum adhuc sanguis 
in hominem delibatur dissolvere non licet, nee refert natura natam quis eripiat animam an 
nascentem disturbet.' Tertul. in Apol. 


the Lord.' David had gotten his will to consent to acts of repentance, 
and then he could no longer keep silence : so, on the other side, all 
acts of sin are founded in the fixed choice and resolution of the will. 
' I will pursue, I will overtake,' said mad Pharaoh, Exod. xv. 9 ; and 
that engaged him in acts of violence. Now this decree of the will is 
most dangerous in the general choice of our way and course ; for as 
religion lieth in the settled resolution of the soul, when we make it 
our work and business, as Barnabas exhorted the new converts, ' that 
with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord,' Acts xi. 23, TTJ 
TrpoOeo-i, TT}? KapSias, that they would resolvedly decree for God in the 
will; so, when the apostle speaketh of his holy manner of life, he 
calleth it irpoQeo-w, his purpose, 2 Tim. iii. 10. So also the state of 
sin lieth in a worldly or carnal choice ; as the apostle saith, 1 Tim. 
vi. 9, ' He that will be rich ; ' that is, that hath decreed and fixed a 
resolution in his soul to make it his only study and care to grow rich 
and get an estate, he is altogether carnal. A child of God may be 
overborne, but usually he doth not fix his will : Eom. vii. 16, ' I do 
that which I would not ; ' or, if his will be set, yet there is not a full 
consent, for there will be continual dislikes from the new nature. I 
confess sometimes, as there is too much of deliberation and counsel in 
the sins of God's children (as you know David's sin was a continued 
series and plot), so too much of resolution and the will; but this is 
in acts of sin, not in the course and state ; their manner of life and 
purpose is godly. Well, then, if lust hath insinuated into your 
thoughts, labour to keep it from a decree, and gaining the consent of 
the will. Sins are the more heinous as they are the more resolved 
and voluntary. 

Obs. 3. What is conceived in the heart is usually brought forth in 
the life and conversation. ' Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth 
forth sin/ That is the reason why the apostle Peter directeth a 
Christian to spend the first care about the heart : 1 Peter ii. 11, 12, 
' Abstain from fleshly lusts/ and then ' have your conversations honest/ 
As long as there is lust in the heart, there will be no cleanness in the 
conversation ; as worms in wood will at length cause the rottenness to 
appear. How soon do lusts bewray themselves ! Pride runneth into 
the eyes, therefore we read of ' haughty eyes/ Prov. vi. 17, or into the 
feet, causing a strutting gait or gesture. A wanton mind peepeth 
out through wanton eyes and a gazing look. A garish, frothy 
spirit bewrayeth itself in the vanity of apparel, and a filthy heart in 
the rottenness of communication ; the eyes, the feet, the tongue, the 
life do easily bewray what is seated in the heart. Momus, in the fable, 
quarrelled with God for not making a window at every man's breast, 
that others might see what was in it. There needeth no such dis 
covery. Time showeth what births there are in the womb ; so will 
the life what lusts are conceived and fostered in the heart, for lust 
delighteth to bring forth. Well, then : 

1. Learn that hypocrites cannot always be hidden, disguises will 
fall off. Men flatter themselves in their hidden sins, but they will be 
' found hateful/ Ps. xxxvi. 2 ; that is, scandalous and inconvenient. 
God hath peremptorily determined that ' their wickedness shall be 
showed before the comgregation/ Prov. xxvi. 26. Some misbehaviour 


will bring it to light ; art and fiction is not durable. The apostle 
saith, 1 Tim. v. 25, ' They that are otherwise cannot be hidden ; ' 
that is, otherwise than good. 

2. Learn the danger of neglecting lusts and thoughts. If these be 
not suppressed, they will ripen into sins and acts of filthiness. While 
we are negligent and our care is intermitted, the business of sin 
thriveth and goeth on. Allowed thoughts bring the mind and the 
temptation together. David mused on Bathsheba's beauty, and so was 
all on fire. It is ill dallying with thoughts. 

3. Learn what a mercy it is to be hindered of our evil intentions, 
that sinful conceptions are still-born, and when we wanted no lust we 
should want an occasion. Mere restraints are a blessing. We are 
not so evil as otherwise we would be. Lust would bring forth. God 
would have Abimelech to acknowledge mercy in a restraint : Gen. xx. 
6, ' I withheld thee from sinning against her/ David blessed God 
that the rash executions of his rage were prevented : ' Blessed be the 
God of Israel, which sent thee to meet me this day/ 1 Sam. xxv. 32. 
God smote Paul from his horse, and so took him off from persecution, 
when his heart boiled with rancour and malice against the saints, Acts 
ix. Oh ! take notice of such instances when your way of sin hath been 
hedged up by providence, Hosea ii. 6 ; and though lusts be not 
checked, yet the execution is disappointed : you were mad, arid should 
have gone on furiously, but that God ' fenced up your way with thorns.' 

Obs. 4. That the result and last effect of sin is death ; so the apostle 
Paul, Bom. vi. 21, 'The end of these things is death.' It cometh 
with a pleasing and delightful sweetness, promising nothing but satis 
faction and contentment, but the end is death. So Ezek. xviii. 4, 
' The soul that sinneth it shall die.' It is an express law that brooketh 
only the exception of free grace ; it shall die temporally, die eternally. 
This is a principle impressed upon nature ; the very heathens were 
sensible of it : Kom. i. 32, ' Knowing that they which commit such 
things are worthy of death.' Mark, the apostle saith the heathens 
knew it. Conscience, being sensible of the wrong done to the godhead, 
could fear nothing less from angry justice. Draco, the rigid law 
giver, being asked why, when sins were equal, 1 he appointed death 
to all ? answered, He knew that sins were not all equal, but he knew 
the least deserved death. This was that that made the heathens at 
such a loss for a satisfaction to divine justice, because they could find 
none sufficient to redeem their guilty souls from the dread of death ; 
and therefore the first effect of the blood of Christ upon the conscience 
is ' purging from dead works/ Heb. ix. 14 ; that is, from that sentence 
of death which the conscience receiveth by reason of our works. The 
Papists on this point, worse than the heathen, hold some sins venial in 
their own nature. It is true, it is said, 1 John v. 17, * There is a sin 
not unto death ; ' but that place speaketh of the event, not the merit ; 
words, evil thoughts, the least sins, deserve death. Do not think God 
will be 2 so extreme. If you have no better plea, that will be a sorry 
refuge in the day of wrath. David a Mauden, 3 a learned Papist, saith, 
Those sins are only to be counted mortal (1.) Which are said to be 

1 Qu. ' Not equal ' ? ED. 2 Qu. ' Will not be ' ? ED. 

3 David a Mauden in Prefat. Comment, in Decalog. 


an abomination to God, and hated by him, in scripture ; (2.) To 
which a Fee, or woe, is expressly denounced ; or (3.), Are distinctly 
said to be worthy of eternal death ; or (4.) To exclude and shut out 
from the kingdom of itaaven ; or (5.) Such as by the law of nature 
are directly repugnant to the love of God or our neighbour. But, 
alas ! all this is to be wise without the word. It is true God hath 
expressly declared more of his displeasure against these sins than 
others, and therefore we are more ^ound and engaged to avoid them, 
but they are all mortal in their merit. 

Use 1. It teacheth us how to stop the violence of lust ; this will be 
death and damnation. Oh ! consider it, an^l se t it as a flaming sword 
in the way of your carnal delights. Observ^ now w } se ly God hath 
ordered it, much of sin is pleasant ; ay ! but thei- e i s death in the pot, 
and so fear may counterbalance delight. x\noi^h er p ar t of sin is 
serious, as worldliness, in which there is no gros^, ac t } and so there 
being nothing foul to work upon shame, there is something dreadful 
to work upon fear. Well, then, awaken the soul ; consider what 
Wisdom saith, Prov. viii. 36, 'He that farsaketh me i^oveth death/ 
It is against nature for a creature to love its own death ; a n natural 
motions are for self-preservation. Oh ! why then should 1" , S atisfy my 
flesh to endanger my soul ? God himself puts on a pa, 6S j on) an( J 
reasoneth thus with us, Ezek. xxxiii. 11, ' Why will ye die, Q house 
of Israel ? ' Why will you wilfully throw away your o\vn'\ souls ? 
Why will ye for a superfluous cup adventure to drink a cup oi ? wrath 
unmixed? For a little estate in the world make hell your poi-fton? 
It is sweet for the present, but it will be death. Sin's best are S0 on 
spent, the worst is always behind. 

Use 2. It showeth what reason we have to mortify sin lest it mor^ jfy 
us ; no sins are mortal but such as are not mortified ; either sin mi- js t 
die, or the sinner. The life of sin and the life of a sinner are like t\y 
buckets in a well if the one goeth up the other must come dowi;^ 
When sin liveth the sinner must die. There is an evil in sin and a? n 
evil after sin. The evil in sin is the violation of God's law, and th'tp 
evil after sin is the just punishment of it. Now, those that are not; 
sensible of the evil in sin shall be sensible of the evil after sin. To 
the regenerate person, all God's dispensations are to save the person 
and destroy the sin, Ps. xcix. 8 : ' Thou wast a God that forgavest 
them, and tookest vengeance of their inventions/ God spared the 
sinner and took vengeance on the sin; but the unmortified person 
spareth his sins, and his life goeth for it ; as the apostle Paul speaketh 
of himself when the power of the word came first upon him, Rom. 
vii. 9, ' Sin revived and I died/ Sin was exasperated, and he felt 
nothing but terror and condemnation. Oh ! then, consider it is better 
sin should be condemned than you should be condemned; as the 
apostle speaketh of the condemnation of sin, Rom. viii. 3, ' For sin, 
he condemned sin in the flesh;' that is, Christ being made a sacrifice 
for sin, sin was condemned to save the sinner. Reason thus within 
yourselves : It is better sin should die than I should die : ' Thy life goes 
for its life/ as it is in the prophet's parable, 1 Kings xx. 39 ; therefore 
let me destroy my sin, that my soul may escape. 

Use 3. Bless God that hath delivered you out of a sinful state ; 


your soul hath escaped a snare of death. Oh ! never look back upon 
Sodom but with detestation ; bless God that you are escaped : ' Blessed 
be the Lord that gave me counsel in my reins/ Ps. xvi. 7. I might 
have been Satan's bond- slave, lust's vassal, and have earned no other 
wages but my own death, but he hath called me to life and peace. 
Conversion is onewhere expressed by a 'calling out of darkness into 
a marvellous light/ that is much ; but in another, by a ' translating 
from death to life/ that is more. It is no less a change than from 
death to life. I might have wasted away my days in pleasure and 
vanity, and afterwards gone to hell. ' Oh ! blessed be the name of 
God for evermore, that hath delivered me from so great a death ! ' 

Ver. 1 6. Do not err, my beloved brethren. 

The apostle having disputed the matter with them about God being 
the author of sin, he dissuadeth them from this blasphemy. There is 
no difficulty in this verse. 

Do not err, p,^ TT\avacr6e, do not wander ; a metaphor taken from 
sheep, and sometimes it noteth errors in practice, or going off from 
the word as a rule of righteousness, as it is said, Isa. Ixiii. 17, ' We 
have erred from thy ways ; ' sometimes errors in judgment, or going 
off from the word as the standard and measure of truth, which we 
most commonly express by this term * error.' 

My beloved brethren. Dealing with them about an error, he dealeth 
with them very meekly, and therefore is the compilation so loving and 

This verse will afford some points. 

Obs. 1. It is not good to brand things with the name of error till 
we have proved them to be so. After he had disputed the matter with 
them, he saith, ' Err not.' (1.) Loose slings will do no good. To 
play about us with terms of heresy and error doth but prejudice men's 
minds, and exulcerate them against our testimony. None but fools 
will be afraid of hot words. Discoveries do far better than invectives. 
Usually that is a peevish zeal that stayeth in generals. It is observ 
able, Mat. xxiii., from ver. 13 to 33, our Saviour denounceth never a 
woe but he presently rendereth a reason for it. ' Woe unto you, for 
ye shut the kingdom of heaven;' and again, ' Woe unto you, for ye 
devour widows' houses/ &c. You never knew a man gained by loose 
slings. The business is to make good the charge, to discover what is 
heresy and what is antichristianism, &c. (2.) This is an easy way to 
blemish the holy truths of God. How often do the Papists spread that 
livery upon us, heretics and schismatics. They ' speak evil of things 
they do not know/ Jude 10. When men are loath to descend to the trial 
of a way, they blemish it : Acts xxiv. 14, ' After the way which they 
call heresy we worship the God of our fathers/ Men condemn things 
suddenly and rashly, and so often truth is miscalled. If matters were 
dispatched by arguments rather than censures, we should have less 
differences. The most innocent truths may suffer under an odious 
imputation. The spouse had her veil taken from her, and represented 
to the world as a prostitute, Cant. iii. The Christians were called 
Genus hominum superstitionis malificce, 1 a wicked sort of men, and 
Christianity a witchery and superstition. 

1 Tacit. Anual., lib. xv. ; Sueton. in Nero, cap. 16. 


Use. Oh ! then, that in this age we would practise this : Be less 
in passion and more in argument. That we would condemn things 
by reasoning rather than miscalling. That we were less in generals, 
and would deal more particularly. This is the way to ' stablish men 
in the present truth.' In morals, the word seldom doth good but 
when it is brought home to the very case. Thunder at a distance 
doth not move us so much as a clap in our own zenith ; that maketh 
us startle. General invectives make but superficial impressions ; show 
what is an error, and then call it so. Truly that was the way in 
ancient times. At first, indeed, for peace' sake, some 1 have observed 
that the fathers declaimed generally against errors about the power 
of nature, not meddling with the persons or particular tenets of Pela- 
gius and his disciples ; but afterward they saw cause for being more 
particular. Loose discourses lose their profit. Blunt iron, that 
toucheth many points at once, doth not enter, but make a bruise ; but 
a needle, that toucheth but one point, entereth to the quick. When 
we come to deal particularly with every man's work, then the fire 
trieth it, 1 Cor. iii. 13. I do the rather urge this because usually 
ungrounded zeal stayeth in generals, and those that know least are 
most loose and invective in their discourses. 

Ols. 2. We should as carefully avoid errors as vices ; a blind eye 

is worse than a lame foot, yea, a blind eye will cause it ; he that hath 

not light is apt to stumble : Kom. i. 26 , first they were given up, efc 

' ' 

to a vain mind/ and then ' to vile affections/ Some 
opinions seem to be remote, and to lie far enough from practice, and 
yet they have an influence upon it ; they mcke the heart foolish, and 
then the life will not be right. There is a link and cognation between 
truth and truth, as there is between grace and grace ; and therefore 
speculative errors do but make way for practical. Again, there are 
some errors that seem to encourage strictness, as free-will, universal 
grace, &c. ; but, truly weighed, they are the greatest discouragement ; 
and therefore it hath been the just judgment of God that the broachers 
of such opinions have been most loose in life, and (as the apostle 
Peter maketh it the character of all erroneous persons, 2 Peter ii.) 
vain and sensual. The apostle Paul presseth strictness, and our work 
the more earnestly, because God must work all, Phil. ii. 12, 13. 
Well, then, beware of erroneous conceits ; your spirit is embased by 
them. Men think nothing is to be shunned but what is foul in act, 
and so publicly odious. Consider, there is ' filthiness in the spirit' as 
well as ' in the flesh/ 2 Cor. vii. 1 ; and a vain mind is as bad and as 
odious to God as a vicious life. Error and idolatry will be as dan 
gerous as drunkenness and whoredom ; and therefore you should as 
carefully avoid them that would entice you to errors, as those that will 
draw you to sin and profaneness ; for error, being the more plausible 
of the two, the delusion is the more strong : natural conscience will 
smite for profaneness. Many, I am persuaded, dally with opinions, 
because they do not know the dangerous result of them : all false prin 
ciples have a secret but pestilent influence on the life and conversation. 
Obs. 3. Do not err ; that is, do not mistake in this matter, because 
it is a hard thing to conceive how God concurreth to the act, and not 

1 See Usser de Britann. Eccl. Primordiis, p. 221. 


to the evil of the act ; how he should be the author of all things, and 
not the author of sin : therefore he saith, however it be difficult to 
conceive, yet ' Do not err/ The note is, that where truths cannot be 
plainly and easily made out to the apprehension, men are apt to 
swerve from them. Many truths suffer much because of their intri 
cacy , errors may be so near alike that it is hard to distinguish them : 
the nature of man is prone to error, and therefore when the truth is hard 
to find out, we content ourselves with our own prejudices. All truths 
are encumbered with such a difficulty that they which have a mind 
to doubt and wrangle do easily stumble at it: John vi. 60, ' This is a 
hard saying ; who can hear it ? ' that is, understand it ; and then, ver. 
66, ' From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no 
more with him.' When there is something to justify our prejudices, 
we think we are safe enough. God leaveth justly such difficulties for 
a stumbling-block to them that have a mind to be offended. The 
Pharisees and people that had followed Christ thought themselves 
well enough, because of the darkness of those expressions, as if it did 
justify their apostasy; so when there are some involucra veritatis, 
some covers of difficulty, in which truth is lapped up from a common 
eye, we think our assent may be excused : as Jews say, that surely 
Christ was not the Messiah, because he did not come in such a way as 
to satisfy all his own countrymen ; so many refuse truth because it 
will require some industry and exercise to find it out. God never 
meant to satisfy liominibus prcefracti myenii, 1 men of a captious and 
perverse wit ; and therefore truth is represented in such a manner, 
that though there be plainness enough to those that have a mind to 
know, yet difficulty enough to harden others to their own ruin. Men 
would fain spare the pains of prayer, study, and discourse ; they are 
loath to ' cry for knowledge, to dig for it as for silver/ Prov. ii. 4 ; they 
love an easy, short way to truth, and therefore run away with those 
mistakes which come next to hand, vainly imagining that God doth 
not require belief to such things as are difficult and hard to be under 
stood ; they do not look to what is sound and solid, but what is plau 
sible, and at first blush reconcilable with their thoughts and appre 

Use 1. You see, then, what need you have to pray for gifts of 
interpretation, and a ' door of utterance' for your ministers, and a know 
ing heart for yourselves, that you may not be discouraged by the 
difficulties that fence up the way of truth. Pray that God would give 
us a clear spirit, a plain expression, and yourselves a right under 
standing ; this will be better than to cavil at the dispensation of God, 
that he should leave the world in such doubt and suspense. Chry- 
sostom observeth, that the saints do not pray, Lord, make a plainer 
law, but, Lord, open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of thy law ; 
as David doth. It were an unjust demand for blind men, or they 
that willingly shut their eyes, to desire God to make such a sun that 
they might see ; it is better to desire gifts of the Spirit for the minister, 
that the scriptures might be opened ; and the grace of the Spirit for 
ourselves, that our understandings might be opened, that so we may 
come to discern the mind of God. 

1 Camero de Eccles. 


Use 2. It showeth how much they are to blame that darken truth, 
and make the things of God the more obscure. ' They darken counsel 
by words/ that by method or manner of speaking perplex the under 
standing, that people can hardly reach the letter of things delivered. 
Many men have a faculty to raise a cloud of dust with their own feet, 
and so darken the brightness and glory of the scriptures ; certainly 
such men either envy the commonness of knowledge, or serve their 
own esteem, when they draw all things to a difficulty, and would seem 
to swim there, where they may easily wade, yea, pass over dry-shod. 

Ols. 4. Again, from that do not err. Take in the weightiness of 
the matter. Ah ! would you err in this point, in a business that doth 
so deeply intrench upon the honour of God ? The mistake being so 
dangerous, he is the more earnest. Oh ! do not err. The note is, that 
errors about the nature of God are very dangerous. There is nothing 
more natural to us than to have ill thoughts of God, and nothing 
more dangerous ; all practice dependeth upon it, to keep the glory of 
God unstained in your apprehensions. You shall see, Kom. i. 23, 24, 
' They changed the glory of God/ &c., and then ' God gave them up 
to uncleanness.' Idolatry is often expressed by whoredom ; bodily 
and spiritual uncleanness usually go together : ill thoughts of God 
debauch the spirit, and make men lose their sense and care of piety. 
Well, then, take heed of erring this error : let not the nature or glory 
of God be blemished in your thoughts ; abhor whatever cometh into 
your mind, or may be suggested by others, if it tend any way to 
abate your esteem of God, or to eclipse the divine glory in your 

06s. 5. From that my beloved brethren. Gentle dealing will best 
become dissuasives from error. One saith, we must speak to kings, 
fyriiiaa-i, ftvcra-ivois, with silken words. Certainly we had need to 
use much tenderness to persons that differ from us, speak to them in 
silken words. Where the matter is like to displease, the manner should 
not be bitter : pills must be sugared, that they may down the better : 
many a man hath been lost through violence : you engage them to 
the other party. As Tertullian, when he had spoken "favourably of 
the Montanists, by the violence of the priests of Kome he was forced 
into their fellowship. 1 Meekness may gain those that are not engaged. 
Men of another party will think all is spoken out of rage and anger 
against them ; it is good to give them as little cause as may be, 
especially if but inclining through weakness to an error. Oh ! ' do not 
err, my beloved brethren.' I would to God we could learn this wis 
dom in this age : 2 Tim. ii. 25, ' In meekness instructing those that 
oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them repentance to 
the acknowledging of the truth.' Others will brook sharpness better 
than they: every man that is of a contrary opinion thinketh feat 
he hath the advantage ground of another, as being in the right ; and 
pride is always touchy. Outward gross sins fill the soul with more 
shame, and upon conviction there is not that boldness of reply ; for a 
man is so far under another as he may be reproved by him : but now 
here, where every man thinketh himself upon equal or higher terms, 
we had need deal the more meekly, lest pride take prejudice, and, out 

1 ' Prorsus in Montani partes transivit.' Pamcl. in Vita Tertul. 


of a distaste of the manner, snuff at the matter itself : but of this 

Ver. 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and 
cometh down from the Father of lights, with ivhom is no variable 
ness, neither shadow of turning. 

He taketh occasion from the former matter, which was to show you 
that God was not the author of sin, to show you that God is the 
author of all good, especially the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed 
on us ; in which there is an argument secretly couched : the author 
of all good cannot be the author of evil. Now ' every good and perfect 
gift ' is of God ; and because the argument should be the more strong 
by an allusion to the sun, he representeth God, in the latter part of 
the verse, as essentially and immutably good. 

Every good gift. The vulgar readeth * the best gift,' properly 
enough to the sense, but not to the original words. The gift is called 
good, either (1.) To exclude those gifts of Satan which are indeed 
injuries rather than gifts: a blind mind, 2 Cor. iv. 4; unruly affec 
tions, Eph. ii. 2. These gifts, that are from beneath, are not good. 
(2.) To note the kind of gifts which he speaketh of ; not common mercies, 
but good gifts, such as the apostle calleth elsewhere Trvev^anKa^ 
evhoyias, ' spiritual blessings/ Eph. i. 3. It is true all common gifts 
come from the divine bounty ; but the apostle intendeth here special 
blessings, as appeareth partly by the attributes ' good ' and ' perfect.' 
It is true some distinguish between the two clauses, makin 
ayaOrj, or ' good gift,' to imply earthly blessings, and &w/o7^t 
' perfect gift,' to imply heavenly or spiritual blessings ; but I suppose 
that is too curious. These two words imply the same mercies with a 
different respect, as by and by ; partly because such mercies suit with 
the context, look upon it forward or backward. In the foregoing 
verses he speaketh about God being the author of sin, and no argu 
ment is so fit to batter down that conceit as that God is the author of 
special and saving grace ; arid in the following verse he instanceth 
in regeneration, partly because those mercies are most clearly from 
God, and need little of the concurrence of second causes. 

And every perfect gift; that is, such as do anyway conduce to 
our perfection, not only initial and first grace, but all the progresses in 
the spiritual life, and at last perfection and eternal life itself, are the 
gift of God. Though eternal death be a wages, yet eternal life is a 
gift ; and therefore the apostle diversifieth the phrase when he corn- 
pareth them both together, Rom. vi. 23. The sum is, that not only 
the beginning, but all the gradual accesses from grace to glory, are by 
gift, and from the free mercy of God. 

Is from above ; that is, from heaven. The same phrase is else 
where used : John iii. 21, 'He that cometh from above is above all ; ' 
that is, from heaven. And heaven is put for God, as Luke xv. 21, 
1 1 have sinned against heaven, and against thee;' that is, against 
God and his earthly father. And I suppose there is some special 
reason why our blessings are said to be from above, because they were 
designed there, and thither is their aim and tendency, and there are 
they perfectly enjoyed ; and therefore, Eph. i. 3, are we said to be 
'blessed with spiritual blessings in heavenly places; 3 therefore 'in 


heavenly places/ because thence was their original, and there is their 

And descendeth or cometJi down; not ' falleth down/ to show (saith 
Aquinas) that we have not blessings by chance, but in the way of 
regular means. 

From the Father of lights ; that is, from God. The word father 
is often used for the author or first cause, as Gen. iv. 20, 21, ' The 
father of such as dwell in tents ; ' ' the father of those that handle the 
harp ; ' that is, the author and founder. So God is elsewhere called 
1 Father of spirits/ Heb. xii. 9, because they do not run in the material 
channel of a fleshly descent, but are immediately created by God. 
Well, but what is meant by Father of lights ? Some conceive that 
it intendeth no more but ' glorious Father/ as it is usual with the 
Hebrews to put the genitive case for an epithet, and the genitive 
plural for the superlative degree. But I conceive rather God is here 
spoken of in allusion to the sun, who deriveth and streameth out his 
light to all the stars ; and so God, being the author of all perfections, 
which are also signified and expressed by light, is called here ' The 
Father of lights/ Therefore it is usual in the scriptures to attribute 
light to God and darkness to the devil ; as Luke xxii. 53, ' This is 
your hour, the power of darkness ; ' that is, of Satan. More of this 
term in the points. 

With lohom is no variableness, 7rapa\\ayr). It is an astronomical 
word or term, taken from the heavenly bodies, which suffer many 
declinations and revolutions which they call parallaxes, a word that 
hath great affinity with this used by the apostle. The heavenly lights 
have their vicissitudes, eclipses, and decreases ; but our sun shineth 
always with a like brightness and glory. 

Neither shadow of turning, r/aoTn}? airoaKiacrpa. The allusion is 
continued. Stars, according to their different light and posture, have 
divers adumbrations ; as, the nearer the sun is to us, the less shadow 
it casteth ; the farther off, the greater : so that we know the various 
motions and turning of the sun by the difference of the shadows. But 
the Father of spiritual lights is not like the father or fountain of 
bodily : with him is no shadow of turning ; that is, he is without any 
motion or change, any local accesses and recesses, remaineth always 
the same. This is a sun that doth not set or rise, cannot be overcast 
or eclipsed. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That all good things are from above ; they come to us from God. 
Mere evil is not from above ; ' the same fountain doth not yield sweet 
and bitter waters.' God is good, and immutably good, and therefore 
it cannot be from him, which was Plato's argument. Evils do not 
come from God, because he is good ; which reasoning is true, if it be 
understood of evils of sin ; for otherwise, ' Shall there be evil in a city 
and the Lord hath not done it?' Amos iii. 6. But for good that 
floweth clearly from the upper spring, there are indeed some pipes 
and conveyances, as the word, and prayer, and the seals; and for 
ordinary blessings, your industry and care. But your fresh springs are 
in God ; and in all these things we must, as chickens, sip and look 
upwards. It is, I confess, the waywardness of flesh and blood to look 


to the next hand, as children thank the tailor for the new coat, and 
suffer the immediate helps to intercept their trust and respects ; and 
therefore God often curseth the means, and blasteth our endeavours. 
The divine jealousy will not brook a rival. God delighteth in this 
honour of being the sole author of all our good, and therefore cannot 
endure that we should give it to another. When God was about to 
work miracles by Moses' hand, he first made it leprous, Exod. iv. 6. 
There he was aforehand with this sin ; first or last, the hand of the 
creature is made leprous. This note, that God is the author of all the 
good that is in us, is useful to prevent many corruptions ; as, (1.) 
Glorying in ourselves. Who would magnify himself in that which is 
from above? We count it odious for a man to set out himself in 
another man's work and glory ; as the apostle saith, 2 Cor. x. 16, that 
he would not 'boast in another man's line of things made ready to 
his hands.' Now, all good is made ready to your hand; it is the 
bounty of heaven to you. It is not your line and work, but God's. 
(2.) Insultation, or vaunting it over others. Had we all from ourselves, 
the highest might have the highest mind ; but ' who made you to 
differ ? ' 1 Cor. iv. 7. Carnal and weak spirits feed their lusts with 
their enjoyments. A straight pillar, the more you lay upon it, the 
straighter it is, and the more stable; but that which is crooked 
boweth under its weight : so the more God casteth in upon carnal 
men, the more is their spirit perverted. (3.) Envy to those that have 
received most. Our eye is evil when God's hand is good. Envy is a 
rebellion against God himself, and the liberty and pleasure of his 
dispensations. God distributeth gifts and blessings as he will, not as 
we will ; our duty is to be contented, and to beg grace to make use of 
what we have received. 

Obs. 2. Whatever we have from above, we have it in the way of 
a gift. We have nothing but ' what we have received/ and what we 
have received we have received ' freely.' There is nothing in us that 
could oblige God to bestow it ; the favours of heaven are not set to 
sale. When God inviteth us to mercy, he doth not invite us as a 
host, but as a king ; not to buy, but to take : they are most welcome 
that have no money, Isa. Iv. 1 ; that is, no confidence in their own 
merits. Some divines say, that in innocency we could not merit. 
When the covenant did seem to hang upon works, we could, in their 
sense, impetrare, but not mereri obtain by virtue of doing, but not 
deserve. Merit and desert are improper notions to express the rela 
tion between the work of a creature and the reward of a Creator ; and 
much more incongruous are they since the fall. Sin, bringing in a 
contrariness of desert, maketh mercy much more a gift ; so that now 
in every giving there is somewhat of. forgiving, and grace is the more 
obliging because in every blessing there is not only bounty, but a 
pardon. It was long since determined by the schools, that penitents 
had more reason to be thankful than innocents, sin giving an advantage 
to mercy to be doubly free in giving and pardoning, and so the 
greater obligation is left upon us. Oh ! then, that we were sensible 
of this ; that in all our actions our principle might be a sense of God's 
love, and our end or motive a sight of God's glory. 

Obs. 3. That among all the gifts of God, spiritual blessings are the 


best : these are called here good and perfect, because these make us 
good and perfect. It is very observable that it is said, Mat. vii. 11, 
* If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, much 
more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them 
that ask him/ Now in the parallel place in Luke xi. 13, it is, gi^ 
' the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ;' that is the giving of good 
gifts, to give the Holy Spirit. Nihil bomim sine summo bono 1 there 
can be nothing good where there is not the Spirit of God : other 
blessings are promiscuously dispensed; these are blessings for 
favourites. The ' men of God's hand/ Ps. xvii. 14, may have abun 
dance of treasure, that is, violent, bloody men ; but the ' men alter 
God's heart 7 have abundance of the Spirit. A man may be weary of 
other gifts ; an estate may be a snare, life itself a burden ; but you 
never knew any weary of spiritual blessings, to whom grace or the love 
of God was a burden ; therefore, it is ' better than life,' Ps. Ixiii. 3. 
Well, then, they are profane spirits that prefer pottage before a 
birthright, vain delights before the good and perfect gifts. David 
makes a wiser choice in his prayer, Ps. cvi. 4, ' Eemeniber me, 
Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people ; visit me 
with thy salvation/ Not every mercy will content David, but the 
mercy of God's own people ; not every gift, but the good and perfect 
gift. The like prayer is in Ps. cxix. 132, ' Look upon me, and be 
merciful unto me, as thou usest to do to those that love thy name/ 
Mark, not the mercies that he used to bestow upon the world, but 
the mercies he used to bestow upon his people and favourites. No 
thing but the best mercy will content the best hearts. 

Obs. 4. That God is the Father of lights. Light being a simple 
and ^ defecate quality, and, of all those which are bodily, most pure and 
spiritual, is often put to decipher the essence and glory of God, and 
also the essences and perfections of creatures as they are from God. 
The essence of ^Gocl : 1 John i. 5, ' God is light, and there is no 
darkness in him/ There light, being a creature simple and unmixed, 
is put to note the simplicity of the divine essence. So also the glory 

of God: ' He dwelleth in light inaccessible/ 1 Tim. vi. 16 ; that is, in 
inconceivable glory. So Jesus Christ, in regard he received his 
personality and subsistence from the Father, is called, in the Nicene 
Creed, </>w? e/c (/HUTO?, #eo? a\r)6ivos GK Oeov a\r]6lvov, ' Light of light, 
and very God of very God/ So also the creatures, as they derive 
their perfections from God, are also called lights; as the angels, 
' Angels of light, 2 Cor. xi. 14; the saints, ' Children of light, ' Luke 
xvi. 8. Yea, reasonable creatures, as they have wisdom and under 
standing, are said to be lights ; so John i. 9, ' This is the light that 
enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world ;' that is, with the 
light of reason : all the candles in the world are lighted at this torch. 
In short, reason, wisdom, holiness, happiness are often expressed by 
light, and they are all from God. As the stars shine with a borrowed 
lustre, so do all the creatures ; where you meet with any brightness 
and excellency in them, remember it is but a streak and ray of the 
divine glory. As the star brought the wise men to Christ, so should 
all the stars in the world bring up your thoughts to God, who is 

1 Aug. lib. iv. contra Jul. 


'the Fountain and Father of lights/ Thus Mat. v. 16, 'Let your 
light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may 
glorify/ not you, but ' your Father which is in heaven.' If you see a 
candle bum brightly and purely, remember it was lighted and en 
kindled by God. If there be any light in them, a sight and sense of 
the mysteries of the gospel, if they be 'burning and shining lights/ if 
they give out the flame of a holy conversation, still remember they 
do but discover that lustre and glory they received from above. 
Well, then, if God be the Father of lights, 

1. It presseth you to a,pply yourselves to God. If you want the 
light of grace, or knowledge, or comfort, you must shine in his beam 
arid be kindled at his flame. We are dark bodies till the Lord fill us 
with his own glory. Oh ! how uncomfortable should we be without 
God. In the night there is nothing but terror and error ; and so it is 
in the soul without the light of the divine presence. When the sun 
is gone the herbs wither ; and when God, who is the sun of spirits, is 
withdrawn, there is nothing but discomfort and a sad languishing in. 
the soul. Oh ! pray, then, that God would shine in upon your soul, 
not by flashes, but with a constant light. It is too often thus with us 
in point of comfort find grace ; holy thoughts arise, and, like a flash 
of lightning, make the room bright, but the lightning is gone, and we 
are as dark as ever. But when God shineth in by a constant light, 
then shall we give out the lustre of a holy conversation : Isa. Ix. 1, 

* Arise and shine ; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is 
risen upon thee.' We, like the moon, are dark bodies, and have no 
light rooted within ourselves ; the Lord must arise upon us ere we 
can shine. So also in point of comfort : Ps. xxxiv. 5, ' They looked 
to him and were lightened ; their face was not confounded.' 

2. It showeth the reason why wicked men hate God : John iii. 
19-21, ' Light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather 
than light ; ' and again, ' They come not to the light, for their deeds 
are evil/ Men that delight in darkness cannot endure God, nor any 
thing that representeth God. Kachel could not endure Laban's 
search, nor wicked men God's eye. He is the Father of lights ; he 
hath a discerning eye, and a discovering beam. 

3. It presseth the children of God to walk in all purity and innocency : 

* Ye are children of light, walk in the light,' Eph. v. 8. Walk so 
as you may resemble the glory of your Father: faults in you, like 
spots in the moon, are soon discerned. You that are the lights of 
the world should not shine dimly ; nay, in the worst times, like stars 
in the blackest night, you should shine brightest ; therefore the apostle 
saith, Phil. ii. 15, ' Shine as stars in the midst of a perverse age.' 

Gbs. 5. That the Lord is unchangeable in holiness and glory ; he is 
a sun that shineth always with a like brightness. God, and all that 
is in God, is unchangeable ; for this is an attribute that, like a silken 
string through a chain of pearl, runneth through all the rest : his 
mercy is unchangeable, * his mercy endureth for ever/ Ps. c. 5. So 
his strength, and therefore he is called ' The Eock of ages/ Isa. xxvi. 
4. So his counsel, Mutat sententiam, sed non decretum (as Bradwar- 
dine) ; he may change his sentence, the outward threatening or pro 
mise, but not his inward decree; he may will a change, but not 

VOL. iv. H 


change his will. So his love is immutable ; his heart is the same to us 
in the diversity of outward conditions : we are changed in estate and 
opinion, but God he is not changed ; therefore when Job saith, Job 
xxx. 21, ' Thou art turned to be cruel/ he speaketh only according 
to his own feeling and apprehension. Well, then, 

1. The more mutable you are, the less you are like God. Oh ! 
how should you loathe yourselves when you are so fickle in your pur 
poses, so changeable in your resolutions ! God is immutably holy, 
but you have a heart that loveth to wander. He is always the same, 
but you are soon removed, Gal. i. 6 ; ' soon shaken in mind,' 2 Thes. 
ii. 2 ; whirried with every blast, Eph. iv. 14, borne down with every 
new emergency and temptation. The more you do ' continue in the 
good that you have learned and been assured of/ 2 Tim. iii. 14, the 
more do you resemble the divine perfection. 

2. Go to him to establish and settle your spirits. God, that is 
unchangeable in himself, can bring you into an immutable estate of 
grace, against which all the gates of hell cannot prevail ; therefore be 
not quiet, till you have gotten such gifts from him as are without 
repentance, the fruits of eternal grace, and the pledges of eternal 

3. Carry yourselves to him as unto an immutable good ; in the 
greatest change of things see him always the same : when there is 
little in the creature, there is as much in God as ever : Ps. cii. 26, 27, 
' They shall perish, but thou shalt endure ; they shall all wax old as a 
garment : thou art the same for ever, and thy years have no end/ All 
creatures vanish, not only like a piece of cloth, but like a garment. 
Cloth would rot of itself, or be eaten out by moths ; but a garment is 
worn and wasted every day. But God doth not change ; there is no 
wrinkle upon the brow of eternity ; the arm of mercy is not dried up, 
nor do his bowels of love waste and spend themselves. And truly this 
is the church's comfort in the saddest condition, that however the face 
of the creatures be changed to them, God will be still the same. It is 
said somewhere, that * the name of God is as an ointment poured out/ 
Certainly this name of God's immutability is as an ointment poured out, 
the best cordial to refresh a fainting soul. When the Israelites were 
in distress, all the letters of credence that God would give Moses were 
those, Exod. iii. 14, ' I am that I am hath sent me unto you.' That 
was comfort enough to the Israelites, that their God remained in the 
same tenor and glory of the divine essence ; he could still say / A M. 
With God is no change, no past or present ; he remaineth in the same 
indivisible point of eternity ; and therefore saith, I AM. So the 
prophet Malachi iii. 6, eya Kvpios, ov/c 7f\\oiwp(u, ' I am the Lord, 
that change not ' (or am not changed) ; ' therefore ye sons of Jacob are 
not consumed/ Our safety lieth in God's immutability ; we cannot 
perish utterly, because he cannot change. 

Ver. 18. Of his own good-will begat he us, by the word of truth, tJiat 
we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. 

The apostle showeth that his main aim was to set forth God as the 
author of spiritual gifts, and therefore instanceth in regeneration. 

Of his own good-will, /3ov\7]dels. Because he would, or being 
willing. The word is put :(!.) To deny compulsion or necessity ; 


God needed not to save any; and (2.) To exclude merit; we could 
not oblige him to it, it was merely the good pleasure of God ; for this 
fiovXrjOels is equivalent to that which Paul calleth evbofcla, the natural 
bent, purpose, and inclination of God's heart to do the creatures good : 
Eph. i. 1 1, it is called ' the counsel of his will/ and elsewhere ' abundant 
mercy ; ' 1 Pet. i. 3, ' Out of his abundant mercy he hath begotten us 
to a lively hope ; ; in other places ' the pleasure of the Father/ 

Begat he us. A word that properly importeth natural generation, 
and sometimes it is put for creation ; and so as we are men we are 
said to be his 761/09, ' his offspring/ Acts xvii. 28 ; and indeed so some 
take it here, applying these words to God's creating and forming us, 
and making men to be his first-fruits, or the choicest piece in the 
whole creation ; or, as Zoroaster called him, ToX/^porar?;? T??? (frvcrecos 
ayaXfJia, the masterpiece of over-daring nature. But this is beside 
the scope ; for he speaketh of such a begetting as is ' by the word 
of truth/ which, in the next verse, he maketh to be an argument of 
more conscience and sense of the duty of hearing ; therefore begetting 
is put to imply the work of grace upon our souls. The same metaphor 
is elsewhere used : 1 Peter i. 23 ' Being born again, not of corruptible 
seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth for ever ;' 
so 1 Peter i. 3, ' Begotten to a lively hope.' I have brought these two 
places to show you the two parts in the work of grace ; the one is qua 
regeneramur, by which we are begotten, the other qua renascimur, by 
which we are born again; the one is God's act purely, the other 
implieth the manifestation of life in ourselves ; a distinction that 
serveth to clear some controversies in religion : but I go on with my 

By the word of truth. Here is the instrument noted. Those that 
refer this verse to the creation, understand it of Jesus Christ, who is 
the eternal uncreated Word of the Father, and by him were all things 
made ; see John i. 1, 2 ; Heb. i. 3, &c. ; but clearly it is meant of the 
gospel, which is often called ' the word of truth/ and is the ordinary 
means whereby God begetteth us to himself. 

That we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. Those that 
apply the verse to the creation say the apostle meaneth here that man 
was the choicest, chiefest part of it ; for all things were subjected 
to him, and put under his feet, Ps. viii. But I conceive it noteth 
rather the dignity and prerogative of the regenerate ; for as it was the 
privilege of the first-fruits of all the sheaves to be consecrated, so 
believers and converts among all men were set aside for the uses and 
purposes of God. The first-fruits of all things were the Lord's : (1.) 
Partly to testify his right in that people ; (2.) Partly for a witness of 
their thankfulness ; they having received all from him, were to give him 
this acknowledgment : Prov. iii. 9, * Honour the Lord with thy sub 
stance, and with the first-fruits of thy increase ;' this was the honour 
and homage they were to do to God. Now this is everywhere attributed 
to the people of God ; as to Israel, because they were God's peculiar 
people, called out from all the nations : Jer. ii. 3, ' The first-fruits of 
his increase is holiness to the Lord ; ' that is, of all people they were 
dedicated to God. So the holy worshippers, figured by those virgins 
in Kev. xiv. 4, are said to be ' redeemed from among men, to 


be a first-fruits unto God and the Lamb:' these were the chiefest, 
Christ's own portion. So the church is called, Heb. xii. 23, ' the church 
of the first-born.' All the world are as common men; the church 
are the Lord's. 

The points are these : 

Obs. 1. That which engaged God to the work of regeneration was 
merely his own will and good pleasure : * Of his own will begat he us;' 
Eom. ix. 18, ' He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom 
he will he hardeneth.' God's will is the reason of all his actions ; you 
will find the highest cause to be will, love, and mercy. God can have 
no higher motive, nothing without himself, no foresight of faith and 
works ; he was merely inclined by his own pleasure : John xv. 16, 
1 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you ;' he begins with us 
first. When Moses treateth of the cause of God's love to Israel, he 
assigneth nothing but love : Dent. vii. 7, 8, ' He loved you 5< because 
he loved you ;' he had no motive, and can expect no satisfaction. So 
Ps. xviii. 19, 'He delivered me, because he delighted in me;' that 
was all the reason he did it, because he would do it. So Hosea xiv. 
4, ; I will love them freely ;' there is the spring and rise of all. This 
is applicable divers ways : (1.) To stir us up to admire the mercy of 
God, that nothing should incline and dispose his heart but his own 
will ; the same will that begat us, passed by others : whom he will he 
saveth, and whom he will he hardeneth. Man's thoughts are very 
unsober in the inquiry why God should choose some arid leave others : 
when you have done all, you must rest in this supreme cause, God's 
will and pleasure : Mat. xi. 26, ' Even so, Father, because it pleased 
thee.' Christ himself could give no other reason, and there is the 
final result of all disputes. Oh ! admire God, all ye his saints, in his 
mercy to you ; this circumstance giveth us the purest apprehensions 
of the freeness of God's love, when you see that it was God's own will 
that determined mercy to you, and made the difference between you 
and others ; nay, in some respects, it puts a difference between you 
and Christ : evjjuzveia Trdrpos a cnroKTeivei, aXXot? ryiyvercu crwr^p/a, 1 
the good-will of the Father slayeth thee, and saveth others; he 
willed Christ's death, and your salvation. In the same verse, Christ's 
bruises and our salvation are called chephers, God's pleasure : Isa. 
liii. 10, ' It pleased the Father to bruise him ; ' and then, ' My 
pleasure/ that is, in the salvation of the elect, ' shall prosper in his 
hands.' (2.) It informeth us the reason why, in the work of regeneration, 
God acteth with such liberty : God acteth according to his pleasure ; 
the Holy One of Israel must not be limited and confined to our 
thoughts : John iii. 8, ' The wind bloweth where it listeth.' All is 
not done after one tenor, but according to the will of the free Spirit ; 
as, in giving means, you must leave God to his will : there are mighty 
works in Chorazin and Bethsaida, when there are none in Tyre and 
Sidon. Israel had statutes and ordinances, when all the world had 
nothing but the glimmering candle of their own reason. So for the 
work of the Spirit with the means, some have only the means, others 
the work of the Spirit with the means : John xiv. 22, ' How is it that 

1 Nazianz. in bis Christina Pctticns. 


thou wilt reveal thyself unto us, and not unto the world ? ' They 
have choice revelations. The spouse is brought into the closet, 
Cant. i. 3, when the virgins, common Christians, stay only in the 
palace of the great King. Do but observe two places : Acts ix. 7, it 
is said of Paul's companions, that ' they heard a voice/ and yet, Acts 
xxii. 9, it is said, ' They that were with him heard not the voice.' 
Solomon Glassius reconcileth these two places thus : They heard a 
sound, but they did not hear it distinctly as Christ's voice. Some 
only hear the outward sound, the voice of man, but not of the Spirit 
in the word ; there is a great deal of difference in the same auditories. 
So also for the measure of grace ; to some more is given, to some less ; 
though all have a vital influence, yet all have not the same measure 
of arbitrary influences : Phil. ii. 13, 'He giveth both to will and to 
do, Kara rrjv evboKiav, according to his good pleasure.' So for the 
manner ; it is very diverse and various. God beginneth with some in 
love, with others by terrors, 'plucking them out of the fire.' Some 
are gained by a cross and affliction, others by a mercy. Some are 
caught by a holy guile (as the apostle saith of the Corinthians) ; 
others are brought in more sensibly, and with greater consternation. 
Upon some the Spirit cometh like a gentle blast, grace insinuateth 
itself ; upon others like a mighty rushing wind, with greater terror 
and enforcement. So for the time ; some are longer in the birth, and 
wait at the pool for many years ; others are surprised and gained of 
a sudden : Cant. vi. 12, ' Ere I was aware, my soul made me like the 
chariots of Amminadib.' Therefore we should not limit God to any 
one instance, but still wait upon him in the use of means, for his good 
pleasure to our souls. 

Obs. 2. That the calling of a soul to God is, as it were, a new beget 
ting and regeneration. He ' begat us ; ' there must be a new framing 
and making, for all is out of order, and there is no active influence and 
concurrence of our will ; therefore grace is called, 2 Cor. v. 17, Kaivrj 
/crtcrt?, ' a new creation ; ' all was a chaos and vast emptiness before. 
So elsewhere it is expressed by being ' born again,' John iii. 5 ; and 
so believers are called Christ's seed,' Isa. liii. 10. The point being 
obvious, I shall the less stay on it. It is useful (1.) To show us the 
horrible defilement and depravation of our nature ; mending and 
repairing would not serve the turn, but God must new make and new 
create us, and beget us again : like the house infected with leprosy, 
scraping will not serve the turn ; it must be pulled down, and built 
up again. They mince the matter that say of nature as those of the 
damsel, ' She is not dead, but sleepeth ; ' as if it were a languor or a 
swoon into which Adam and his posterity fell. No ; it was a death, 
and therefore are those two notions of creation and resurrection 
solemnly consecrated by the Spirit of God to express our regeneration 
or new birth. (2.) To show us that we are merely passive in our con 
version : it is a begetting, and we (as the infant in the womb) contri 
bute nothing to our own forming : Ps. c. 4, ' It is he that hath made 
us, and not we ourselves ; ' we had no hand in it. (3.) It showeth us 
two properties oi conversion : (1st.) There will be life ; the effect of 
generation is life Natural men are said, Eph. iv. 18, to be ' alienated 
from the life of God ; ' they are altogether strangers to the motions and 


operations of the Spirit. But now, when the soul is begotten, there 
will be acting, and moving, and spiritual feeling ; the soul will not be 
so dead towards God. Paul saith, G-al. ii. 20, ' Not I live, but Christ 
liveth in me.' A man cannot have interest in Christ, but he will 
receive life from him. (2d.) There will be a change. At the first God 
bringeth in the holy frame, all the seeds of grace ; and therefore there 
will be a change : of profane, carnal, careless hearts, they are made 
spiritual, heavenly, holy : Eph. v. 8, ' Ye were darkness, but now are 
light in the Lord.' You see there is a vast difference. If men 
remain the same, how can they be said to be begotten ? They are 
filthy still, carnal still, worldly still ; there will be at least a desolation 
of the old forms and frames of spirit. 

Obs. 3. It is the proper work of God to beget us : 'he begat.' It 
is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as here, and so, in other 
places, to God the Son : believers are ' his seed/ Isa. liii. 10. Some 
times to the Spirit, John iii. 6. God the Father's will : ' Of his own 
will begat he us. God the Son's merit : through his obedience we 
have ' the adoption of sons,' Gal. iv. 5. God the Spirit's efficacy : by 
his overshadowing the soul is the new creature hatched and brought 
forth. It is ascribed to all the three persons together in one place : 
Titus iii. 5, 6, ' By his mercy he hath saved us, through the renewing 
of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus 
Christ.' In another place you have two persons mentioned : Eph. ii. 
10, ' For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ unto good 
works.' It is true, the ministers of the gospel are said to beget, but 
it is as they are instruments in God's hands. So Paul saith, ' I 
begat you/ 1 Cor. iv. 15 ; and of Onesimus he saith, ' Whom I begat 
in my bonds/ Philem. 10. God loveth to put his own honour many 
times upon the instruments. 

Well, then 1. Eemove false causes. You cannot beget yourselves, 
that were monstrous ; you must look up above self, and above means, 
to God, who must form you after his own image. It is said, John i. 
13, that we are ' begotten, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, 
nor the will of man, but of God/ Not in the outward impure way 
that ^is meant by that ' not of blood ; nor by the will of the flesh/ 
that is, in the carnal manner, as man begetteth man to satisfy a fleshly 
will or desire ; ' nor of the will of man/ that is, any workings or 
desires of our will ; but only by the power of the Spirit ; for the intent 
of ^ that place is to remove gross thoughts and wrong causes, that we 
might apprehend it right for the nature of it, and look up to the right 
cause of it. 

2. It showeth what an honourable relation we are invested with by 
the new birth. He begat us. God is our Father ; that engageth 
his love, and bowels, and care, and everything that can be dear and 
refreshing to the creature: Mat. vi. 32, 'Your heavenly Father 
knoweth that you have need of these things.' This relation is often 
urged by the children of God : Isa, Ixiii. 16, .< Doubtless thou art our 
Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us/ There is comfort in a 
father, much more in a heavenly Father. Evil men may be good 
fathers, Mat. vii. 11 ; they cannot but obey those natural and 
fatherly impressions that are upon their bowels ; how much more will 


a good God be a good Father ? Tarn pater nemo, tampius nemo * 
none can be so good and so much a father as he. 

Obs. 4. The ordinary means whereby God begetteth us is the gospel. 
He begat us ' by the word of truth : ' 1 Cor. iv. 15, ' I have be 
gotten you in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.' There is the instru 
ment, the author, the means: the instrument, Paul, ' I have begotten 
you ; ' the means, ' by the gospel ; ' the author, ' in Jesus Christ/ 
So 1 Peter i. 23, ' Begotten by the incorruptible seed of the word.' 
The word is, as it were, the seed, which, being ingrafted in the heart, 
springeth up in obedience : it is by the word, and that part of the 
word which is properly called the gospel. Moses may bring us to the 
borders, but Joshua leadeth us into the land of Canaan ; the law may 
prepare and make way, but that which conveyeth the grace of con 
version is properly the gospel. Well, then, let us wait upon God in 
the use of the word : it is not good to balk the known and ordinary 
ways of grace. Wisdom's dole is given at wisdom's gates : Prov. 
viii. 34, * Blessed is he that watcheth always at my gates.' It was a 
great advantage to the decrepit man to lie still at the pool, John v. 
God's means will prove successful in God's time. Urge your souls 
with the necessity of the means. ' Faith cometh by hearing, and 
hearing by the word of God/ Rom. x. 17. Without grace I cannot 
be saved, without the word I cannot have grace ; reason thus within 
yourselves, that you may awaken the soul to a greater conscience and 
sense of waiting upon God in the word. It is true, the divine grace 
doth all, he begetteth us ; but remember, it is by the word of truth. 
The influences of the heavens make fruitful seasons, but yet plough 
ing is necessary. It is one of the sophisms of this age to urge the 
Spirit's efficacy as a plea for the neglect of the means. 

Obs. 5. The gospel is a word of truth ; so it is called, not only in 
this, but in divers other places. See 2 Cor. vi. 7 ; Eph. i. 12 ; Cpl. 
i. 5 ; 2 Tim. ii. 15 ; the same expression is used in all these places. 
You may constantly observe, that in matters evangelical the scriptures 
speak with the greatest averment and certainty ; the comfort of them is 
so rich, and the way of them is so wonderful, that there we are apt to 
doubt most, and therefore there do the scriptures give us the more 
solemn assurance ; as 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is a faithful saying, and 
worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners/ We 
are apt to look upon it as a doubtful thing, or at best but as a 
probable truth ; therefore Paul prefaceth, ' This is a faithful saying/ 
So Isa. liii. 4, ' Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sor 
rows.' Thou sayest, surely I am a sinner; but it is as sure that 
Christ is a Saviour ; naturally we are more sensible and sure of sin 
than of the comforts of Christ. The apostle speaketh of heathens, 
Eom. i. 32, that they ' knew the judgment of God/ and that * they 
that commit such things are worthy of death/ Natural conscience 
will give us a sight and sense of sin, but usually we look upon gospel 
comforts with a loose heart and doubtful mind ; and therefore is it 
that the scripture useth such forms of certainty. Is it sure that thou 
art a sinner ? so sure is it that he hath ' borne our sins and carried 
our sorrows/ So Eev. xix. 9, ' Blessed are they which are called to 

1 Tertul. in lib. de Orat. Dora. 


the supper of the Lamb : these are the true sayings of God/ ^ So 
Kev. xxii. 6, when he had spoken of the glory of heaven, he saith, 
4 These sayings are faithful and true/ The Spirit of God foresaw 
where we are most apt to doubt, and therefore hath laid in such 
solemn security (as the asseverations of God) aforehand. Thus 
Christ's priesthood is ushered in with an oath, Ps. ex. 4, ' The Lord 
hath sworn, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec/ 
Points so far above the reach and apprehension of nature are hard to 
be believed, therefore are they prefaced with deep asseverations and 

Use. The use is to press us to put our seal to these truths, to 
adventure our souls upon the warrant of them. How strange is it 
that our hearts should be most loose towards those points that have a 
special note of truth and faithfulness annexed to them ! Well may 
it be said, 1 John v. 10, ' He that believeth not maketh God a liar ;' 
for these things are propounded to you, not only in assertions, but 
asseverations. He hath told you they are faithful and true sayings ; 
therefore you implicitly give God the lie when you think these things 
are too good to be true, or carry yourselves with a carelessness and loose 
uncertainty towards them, or, in despair, think there cannot be com 
fort for such sinners as you are. This is to lift up your own sense 
and experience against the oaths and protestations of God, which are 
everywhere interlaced with the proposals of the gospel. Oh ! do not 
hang off. Bring up assent to the greatest certainty that may be ; 
check those vile thoughts which secretly lurk in all our hearts, that 
the gospel is some fine device and rare artifice to cheat the world, 
some golden fancy to make fools fond with ; as that profane pope 
said, Fabula Gliristi, the fable of the gospel. Oh ! consider, all the 
wit of the creatures could not contrive or design such a plot and 
frame of truths, so satisfying to the conscience, as the gospel is, and 
therefore all assents that do not amount and come up to assurance are 
beneath the dignity of it. 

Assents are of divers kinds ; some are very imperfect. There is 
conjecture, which is but a lighter inclination and propension of the 
mind to that which is only probable ; it may or may not be true. This 
is discerned by carelessness and disrespect towards things that are 
excellent ; men do but guess, and have but loose thoughts of them. 
Higher than this there is opinion, when the mind is strongly swayed 
to think a thing true, however there isformido oppositi, a fear of the 
contrary, which is opposed to believing with all the heart, Acts viii. 
This is enough to engage to profession a man followeth his opinion. 
The next degree above this is 6\t,yo7ncrTLa , ' weak faith,' which 
engageth the soul not only to profession, but to some affection and 
adherence to the truths acknowledged ; they look upon them as true 
and good, but cleave to them with much brokenness and imperfection. 
Higher than this there is assurance ; I mean, of the truths of the 
gospel, not of our interest in the comforts of it. This is intended by 
the apostle when he said the Thessalonians ' received the word with 
much assurance/ 1 Thes. i. 5 ; they were undoubtedly, and beyond 
contradiction, persuaded of the truths of the gospel. The same 
apostle, Col. ii. 2, calleth it, ' The riches of the full assurance of under- 


standing the mysteries of Christ ; ' that is, such an apprehension of 
the truths of the gospel as is joined with some experience, and a 
resolution to live and die in the profession of it. 

Quest. You will say, How shall we do to ripen our assents to such 
a perfection? What are those proper mediums or arguments by 
which (next to the infallible persuasion of the Spirit) the soul is 
assured that the gospel is a word of truth ? 

Ans. This question is worth answering at all times, because atheism 
is so natural to us, if there were none in the world, yet there is too 
much of the atheist in our own bosoms, but in these times espe 
cially, the reigning sin being atheism and scepticism in matters of 
religion, occasioned partly by corrupt and blasphemous doctrines, 
which have a marvellous compliance with our thoughts ; partly by 
the sad divisions among the people of God. Every one pretending to 
be in the right, we suspect all ; therefore Christ prayed for unity in 
the church upon this argument, ' That the world may know that thou 
hast sent me/ Johnxvii. 23. When there are divisions in the church, 
usually there is atheism in the world: partly by the scandals and 
villanies committed under a pretence of religion, by which Christ is, 
as it were, denied, Titus i. 16, and again, 'crucified and put to an 
open shame/ Heb. vi. 6 ; that is, exposed to the derision and scorn of 
his enemies, and represented as a malefactor. Now if ever then, is 
it needful to ballast the mind with solid and rational grounds, and to 
establish you in the holy faith. Many arguments are urged by the 
fathers and the schoolmen in behalf of the gospel ; but I have always 
preferred the arguments of the fathers, as of Lactantius, Tertullian, 
Justin Martyr, Cyril, &c., before those of the schoolmen, as being 
more practical and natural, and so having a greater and a more con 
stant awe upon the conscience ; whereas those of the schoolmen (who 
questionless were the worser men) are more subtle and speculative, 
and so less apt to be understood, and are not so always present with 
the soul as the other are, that are founded in practical truths. Briefly, 
then, you may know the gospel to be a word of truth, because what 
ever is excellent in a religion is in an unparalleled manner found in 
our religion, or in the doctrine of the gospel. The glory of a religion 
lieth in three things the excellency of rewards, the purity of precepts, 
and the sureness of principles of trust. Now examine the gospel by 
these things, and see if it can be matched elsewhere. 

1. The excellency of rewards. This is one of the chief est perfec 
tions of a religion. Therefore the apostle proposeth it a principle and 
foundation of religion and worship to ' believe that God is, and that he 
is a plentiful rewarder of those that seek him/ Heb. xi. 6. He that 
cometh to God, that is, to engage in his worship, next to his being 
must believe his bounty ; and the reason is, because a man, in all his 
endeavours, is poised to some happiness and reward. Now since the 
fall there are * many inventions/ Eccles. vii. 29. As the Sodomites, 
when they were smitten with blindness, groped about Lot's door, so do 
we grope and feel here and there for a reward that may be adequate 
and of full proportion with our desires. The heathen were at a sad 
loss and puzzle. Austin, 1 out of Varro, reckoneth up two hundred 

1 August, de Civit. Dei, lib. xix. cap. 1. 


and eighty-eight opinions about the chiefest good. Some placed it in 
pleasures, and such things as gratified sense. But this were to make 
brutes of men, for it is the beast's happiness to enjoy pleasures without 
remorse ; and Tully saith, he is not worthy the name of a man, qui 
unum diem velit esse in voluptate, that would entirely spend one 
whole day in pleasures. Alas ! this is a way so gross, so oppressive, 
and burthensome to nature, so full of disturbance and distraction to 
reason, that it can never satisfy. Some went higher for a reward for 
virtue, and talked of victory over enemies, long life, and a happy old 
age; but many that were good wanted these blessings. Others 
dreamed of a kind of eternity, and placed it in fame and the per 
petuity of their name and renown, which is a kind of shadow of the 
true eternity ; but this was a sorry happiness to those that lived and 
died obscurely. Those that went highest could go no higher than the 
exercise of virtue, and said that virtue was a reward to itself ; and 
said that a man was happy, if virtuous, in the greatest torments, in 
Phalaris' brazen bull, &c. But, alas ! ' If our happiness were in this 
life only, we were of all men most miserable/ 1 Cor. xv. 19. . Chris 
tianity would scarce make amends for the trouble of it. But now the 
gospel goeth higher, and propoundeth a pure and sweet hope, most 
pure, and fittest for such a sublime creature, a reasonable creature, as 
man is, and most sweet and contenting, and that is the eternal and 
happy enjoyment of God in Christ in the life to come ; not a Turkish 
paradise, but chaste and rational ' pleasures at his right hand for ever 
more/ Ps. xvi. 11 ; complete knowledge, perfect love, the filling up 
of the soul with God; so that the gospel, you see, hath outbidden 
all religions, propounding a fit and most excellent reward to the 
holy life. 

2. Purity of precepts. In the Christian religion all moral ' duties 
are advanced and heightened to their greatest perfection : Ps. cxix. 
96, * The commandment is exceeding broad/ of a vast extent and 
latitude, comprising every motion, thought, and circumstance. The 
heathens contented themselves with a shadow of duty. The apostle 
saith, Eom. ii. 15, that epyov vofjuov, ' the work of the law, was written 
upon their hearts ; ' that is, they had a sense of the outward work, and 
a sight of the surface of the commandment. They made conscience 
to abstain from gross acts of sin, and to perform outward acts of piety 
and devotion, as sacrifice and babbling of hymns and prayers to their 
gods. All their wisdom was to make the life plausible, to refrain 
themselves ; as it is said of Haman, when his heart boiled with rancour 
and malice against Mordecai, Esther v. 10, 'Haman refrained him 
self.' So Lactantius proveth against them that they had not a true 
way of mortification, and were not spiritual enough in their appre 
hensions of the law : Sapientia eorum plerwnque abscondit vitia, non 
abscindit all their wisdom was to hide a lust, not to quench a lust ; 
or rather to prevent the sin, not to check the lust. But now our holy 
religion doth not only forbid sins, but lusts : 1 Peter ii. 11, ' Dearly 
beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly 
lusts.' Babylon's brats (as we showed before) by a holy murder must 
be dashed against the stones. The precepts are exact, commanding 
love, not only to friends, but enemies. The law is spiritual, and 


therefore in all points perfect : Ps. xix. 7, ' The law of the Lord is 
perfect, converting the soul ;' that is, not only guiding the offices of the 
exterior man, but piercing to the thoughts, the first motions of the 
heart ; we have a perfect law. 

3. The sureness of the principles of trust. One of the choicest 
respects of the creature to the Godhead is trust and dependence. And 
trust, being the rest and quiet of the soul, must have a sure bottom 
and foundation. Now stand upon the ways, and survey all the reli 
gions in the world, and you will find no foundation for trust but in 
the gospel, refer it to any object, trusting in God for a common mercy, 
trusting in God for a saving mercy. 

[1.] For a common mercy. There are no such representations of 
God to the soul as in the gospel. The Gentiles had but loose and 
dark thoughts of God, and therefore are generally described by this 
character, ' Men without hope,' 1 Thes. iv, 13. I remember when 
our Saviour speaketh against carking and anxiousness about outward 
supports, he dissuadeth thus : ' Take no thought what ye shall eat, 
or what ye shall drink, or what ye shall put on, for after these things 
seek the Gentiles/ Mat. vi. 31, 32, implying such solicitude to be only 
excusable in heathen who had no sure principles ; but you that know 
providence and the care of a heavenly Father, should not be thus 
anxious. It is true, the heathens had some sense of a deity ; they 
had TO <yvM(TTov TOV <9eoO, some knowledge of the nature of God, Bom. 
i. 20 ; but the apostle saith in the next verse, that ' they were vain, eV 
$La\.oyicrfjLOLs, in their imaginations/ that is, in their practical infer 
ences and discourses ; when they came to represent God as an object 
of trust, and to form practical thoughts and apprehensions of his 
majesty, there they were vain and foolish. But now in the gospel God 
is represented as a fit object of trust, and therefore the solemn and 
purest part of Christian worship is faith ; and it is judiciously observed 
by Luther, Id agit tola scriptura, ut crcdamus Deum esse miseri- 
cordem it is the design of the whole scripture to bring the soul to 
a steady belief and trust ; therefore the psalmist, w r hen he speaketh 
of God's different administrations in the world and in the church, 
when he cometh to his administrations in the church, he saith, Ps. 
xciii. 5, ' The testimonies of the Lord are sure/ God deals with us 
upon sure principles, though he hath discovered himself to the world 
only in loose attributes. 

[2.] For saving mercies ; and indeed that is the trial of all reli 
gions ; that is best which giveth the soul a sure hope of salvation : 
Jer. vi. 16, God biddeth them ' stand upon the ways, and see, and 
ask for the good old way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for 
your souls ; ' intimating, they should choose that for the best religion 
which yieldeth most peace of conscience. Now, there are three things 
that trouble the soul our distance from God, our dread of angry jus 
tice, and a despair of retaining comfort with a sense of duty ; and 
therefore, ere the conscience can have any solid rest and quiet, there 
must be three matches made, three couples brought together God and 
rnaii, justice and mercy, comfort and duty, all these must mutually 
embrace and kiss each other. 

(1.) God and man must be brought together. Some of the wise 


heathens placed happiness in the nearest access and approach to God 
that may be, as Plato for one ; and Coelius Rhodiginus, saith Aristotle, 
delighted much in that verse of Homer where it is said that it would 
never be well till the gods and mortal men did come to live together. 
Certain we are that common instinct maketh us to grope and feel 
after an eternal good : Acts xvii. 27, ' They groped after God/ Now, 
how shall we come to have any commerce with God, there being, 
besides the distance of our beings, guilt contracted in the soul ? How 
can stubble dwell with devouring burnings ? guilty creatures think of 
God without trembling ? approach him without being devoured and 
swallowed up of his glory ? The heathens were sensible of this in 
some part, and therefore held that the supreme gods were defiled by 
the unhallowed approaches of sinful and mortal men, and therefore 
invented heroes and half-gods, a kind of middle powers, that were to 
be mediators, to convey their prayers to the gods, and the blessings of 
the gods back again to them : so Plutarch, Sia Sai/jLovtcov nraaa 6/uX/a 
KOI SiaheKTos jjbera^v Oewv KOL avOpwTrwv that by these intermediate 
powers there was all commerce and communion between the gods and 
men. To this doctrine of the heathen the apostle alludeth, 1 Cor. 
viii. 5 ; the heathens had ' lords many, and gods many ; ' as they had 
many gods, many ultimate objects of worship, so many lords, that is, 
mediators. ' But to us (saith he) there is but one Lord, and one 
God ; ' that is, one supreme essence and one Mediator, which is that 
excellent and sure way which the scriptures lay down for our com 
merce with God. The device of the heathens, being fabulous and 
absurd, could not yield comfort ; but in the gospel there is excellent 
provision made for our comfort and hope, for there the Godhead and 
manhood is represented as met in one nature. The Son of God was 
made the Son of man, that the sons of men might be the sons of God ; 
therefore the apostle Peter showeth that the great work of Christ 
was ' to bring us to God,' 1 Peter iii. 18, to bring God and man 
together. So the apostle Paul saith, Heb x. 20, we may ' draw 
near through the veil of his flesh.' It is an allusion to the temple, 
where the veil hid the glory of the sanctum sanctorum, and gave 
entrance to it. So Christ's incarnation did, as it were, rebate the 
edge of the divine glory and brightness, that creatures may come and 
converse with it without terror. Christ is the true Jacob's ladder, 
John i. 51, the bottom of which toucheth earth there is his 
humanity ; and the top reacheth heaven there is his divinity ; so 
that we may climb this ladder, and have communion with God: 
ascende per hominem et pervenies ad Deum, as that father said 
climbing up in hope by the manhood of Christ, we have social access 
to the Godhead. 

(2.) Justice and mercy must be brought together. We want mercy, 
and fear justice ; guilt impresseth a trembling upon the spirit, be 
cause we know not how to redeem our souls out of the hands of angry 
justice; the very heathens were under this bondage and torment, 
because of the severity of the divine justice : ' Knowing the judgment 
of God, they thought themselves worthy of death,' Bom. i. 32. There- 
fore^ the great inquiry of nature is, how we shall appease angry 
justice., and redeem our souls from this fear. You know the question, 


Micah vi. 6, 7, ' Wherewith shall I come before him ? and wherewith 
will he be pleased ? ' The heathens, in their blindness, thought to 
oblige the Godhead by acts meritorious (as merit is natural), either 
by costly sacrifices, ' rivers of oil, thousands of rams, burnt-offerings, 
and whole burnt-offerings/ hecatombs of sacrifices ; or by putting them 
selves to pains or tortures, as Baal's priests gashed themselves ; or by 
doing some act that is unwelcome and displeasant to nature, as by 
offering their children in sacrifices, those dear pledges of affection, 
which certainly was an act of great self-denial, natural love being 
descensive, and like a river running downward ; yea, this was not all, 
the best of their children, their first-born, in whom all their hopes 
were laid up, they being observed to be most fortunate and successful. 
And this custom also the carnal Jews took up, for bare outward sacri 
fice was but a dull way either to satisfy God (his being ' the cattle of 
a thousand hills/ Ps. 1. 10), or to pacify conscience; for though it 
were a worship of God's own appointing, yet it ' did not make the 
comer thereunto perfect, as appertaining to the conscience/ Heb. ix. 
9 ; that is, the worshipper that looked no further could never have a 
quiet and perfect conscience, and therefore they ' caused their children 
to pass through the fire to Moloch.' Such a barbarous custom could 
not be taken up barely by imitation ; nothing but horror of conscience 
could tempt men to an act so cruel and unnatural ; and the prophet 
plainly saith, they ' gave their first-born for the sin of their soul.' 
Thus you see all ways are at a loss, because they could not yield a 
recompense to offended justice. But, in the gospel, 'justice and 
mercy have kissed each other, righteousness and truth have met 
together,' as it is Ps. Ixxxv. 10. And we may sing, ' Gracious is the 
Lord, and righteous,' Ps. cxvi. 5 ; 'Our beloved is white and ruddy,' 
Cant. v. 10. For there is a God satisfying as well as a God offended, so 
that mercy and justice shine with an equal lustre and glory ; yea, 
justice, which is the terror of the world, in Christ is made our friend, 
and the chief ground of our hope and support ; as 1 John i. 9, ' The 
Lord is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.' A man would 
have thought faithful and gracious had been a more proper term than 
faithful and righteous, pardon being most properly an act of free 
grace ; but justice being satisfied in Christ, it is no derogation to his 
righteousness to dispense a pardon. So the crown of glory is called ' a 
crown of righteousness/ 2 Tim. iv. 8. There is a whole vein of 
scriptures runneth that way, that make all the comfort and hope of a 
Christian to hang upon God's righteousness ; yea, if you will believe the 
apostle Paul, you shall see that God's great intent in appointing 
Christ, rather than any other Kedeemer, was to show himself just in 
pardoning, and that he might be kind to sinners without any wrong 
to his righteousness; in short, that justice being satisfied, mercy 
might have the freer course. Hear the apostle, and you shall see 
he speaketh full to this purpose : Rom. iii. 25, 26, ' Whom God hath 
set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his 
righteousness in the remission of sins.' And lest we should lose the 
emphatical word, he redoubleth it : 'To declare, I say, his righteous 
ness, and that he might be just, and the justifier of him that belie veth 
in Jesus : ' that is, in the matter of justification, where grace is most 


free, God makes his righteousness shine forth, having received satis 
faction from Christ. 

(3.) Comfort and duty are brought together. The end of all reli 
gion is ut anima sit subjecta Deo et pacata sibi that the soul may 
be quiet in itself, and obedient to that which is supposed to be God. 
Now how shall we do to retain a care of duty with a sense of comfort ? 
Conscience cannot be stifled with loose principles. The heathens 
could not be quiet, and therefore, when their reason was discomposed 
and disturbed with the rage of sensual lusts, and they knew not how 
to bridle them, they offered violence to nature ; pulled out their eyes, 
because they could not look upon a woman without lusting after her ; 
and raged against their innocent members, instead of their unclean 
affections. And we, that have the light of Christianity, know much 
more that we cannot have comfort without duty; for though true 
peace of conscience be founded in Christ's satisfaction, yet it is found 
only in his service : Mat. xi. 28, ' Come to me, and I will give you 
rest;' but in ver. 29 it is, 'Take my yoke upon you, and ye shall 
find rest for your souls/ As we must come to Christ for comfort, so 
we must stay under his discipline, if we would have a sense of it in 
our own souls. Well, now, you shall see how excellently these are 
provided for in the gospel. There is Spirit against weaknesses, and 
merit against defects and failings, so that duty is provided for, and 
comfort. They need not despair under weaknesses, having the assist 
ance of a mighty Spirit ; they need not put out their eyes, having a 
God to quench their lusts ; * they need not despair under the sense 
of their defects, there being such a full merit in the obedience of 
Christ. In short, when they have largest thoughts of duty, they 
may have sweetest hopes of comfort, and say, with David, fs. cxix. 
6, ' I shall not be ashamed when I have respect to all thy command 

So much for the fifth observation. 

Obs. 6. That God's children are his first-fruits. The word hinteth 
two things their dignity and their duty ; which two considerations 
will draw out the force of the apostle's expression. 

1. It noteth the dignity of the people of God in two regards : (1.) 
One is, they are ' the Lord's portion/ Xao? Treptoi/o-to?, his ' peculiar 
people/ Titus ii. 14, the treasure people, the people God looketh after. 
The world are his goods, but you his treasure. The word /crLo-^drwi' in 
the emphatical. Others are but his creatures, you his first-fruits. 
He delighteth to be called your God ; he hath, as it were, impropriated 
himself to your use and comfort : ' Blessed is the people whose God is 
the Lord/ Ps. cxliv. 15. He is Lord of all, but your God. One said, 
Tolle meum et tolle Deumit is the relation to God that is sweet, and 
a general relation yieldeth no comfort. Oh ! what a mighty instance 
is this of the love of God to us, that he should reckon us for his first- 
fruits, for his own lot and portion ! (2.) That they are the consider 
able part of the world. The first-fruits were offered for the blessing 
of all the rest : Prov. iii. 10, * Offer thy first-fruits, and so thy barns 

1 ' Democritus excaecavit seipsum quod mulieres sine concupiscentia aspicere non posset, 
et doleret si non esset potitus : at Christianus salvis oculis fceniinam videt ; animo ad- 
versus libidinem csecus est.' Tertul. in Apol., cap. 46. 


shall be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with wine.' 
So here ; the children of God, they are the ' blessing in the cluster ;' 
others fare the better for their neighbourhood ; they are the strength, 
the ' chariots and horsemen' of a nation. It was a profane suggestion 
in Haman to say, ' It was not for the king's profit to suffer them to 
live.' These are the first-fruits that God taketh in lieu of a whole 
nation, to convey a blessing to the rest. 

2. It hinteth duty ; as (1.) Thankfulness in all their lives. First- 
fruits were dedicated to God in token of thankfulness. Cain is im 
plicitly branded for unthankfulness because he did not offer the first- 
fruits. You, that are the first-fruits of God, should, in a sense of his 
mercy, live the life of love and praise. The apostle saith the mercies 
of God should persuade us to offer ourselves, Eom. xii. 1. Now, 
under the gospel, there are no sin-offerings, all are thank-offerings. 
Well, then, give up yourselves in a reasonable way, 'X.oyiKrj Xarpeta, of 
sacrifice. It is but reason that when God hath begotten us we should 
be his first-fruits. The principle and motive of obedience under the 
gospel is not terror, but gratitude : Luke i. 74, ' That we, being 
delivered out of the hands of our enemies, should serve him without 
fear/ &c. Your lives should show you to be first-fruits, to be yielded 
to God as a testimony of thankfulness. (2.) It noteth holiness. The 
first-fruits were holy unto the Lord. God's portion must be holy; 
and therefore of things that were in their own nature an abomination 
the first-fruits were not to be offered to God, as the first-born of a 
dog or ass, but were to be redeemed with money. God can brook no 
unclean thing. Sins in you are far more irksome and grievous to his 
Spirit than in others. You shall see, Jer. xxxii. 30, it is said, ' The 
children of Israel and Judah have only done evil before me from their 
youth.' The Septuagint read, ILQVQI Troiovwres rr]v a/jbapriav^ ' they 
alone, or they only, have been sinners before me ;' as if God did not take 
notice of the sins of other nations : Israel, God's portion, are the only 
sinners. (3.) It noteth consecration. You are dedicate things, and 
they must not be alienated ; your time, parts, strength, and concern 
ments, all is the Lord's ; you cannot dispose of them as you please, but 
as it may make for the Lord's glory ; you are not first-fruits when you 
'seek your own things ;' you are not to walk in your own ways, nor 
to your own ends ; you may do with your own as it pleaseth you, but you 
cannot do so with what is the Lord's. First-fruits were passed over 
into the right of God, the owner had no property in them. Well, 
then: (1st.) You are not to walk in your own ways; your desires 
and wills are not to guide you, but the will of God. ' There is a way 
(saith Solomon) that seemeth right in a man's own eyes;' a corrupt 
mind looketh upon it as good and pleasant, and a corrupt will and 
desire is ready to run out after it. So the prophet Isaiah, chap. liii. 6, 
1 We are all gone astray, every man to his own way.' Oh ! remember 
you are to study the mind and will of God ; your own inventions will 
seduce you, and your own affections will betray you. (2d.) Not to 
your own ends : 2 Cor. v. 15, ' Henceforth we are no more to live to 
ourselves/ to our pleasure, profit, honour, interests : we have no right 
and property in ourselves, it is all given up to God. Those that gave 
up all to God did not reserve a liberty for self-pursuits and self- 


interests. 1 All pleasures, honours, profits, are to be refused or received 
as they make us serviceable to the glory of God. 

Ver. 19. Wherefore, my Moved brethren, let every man be swift to 
hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. 

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, &c. You see these words are in 
ferred out of the former. The apostle saith, ivherefore. Some make 
the consequence thus: He hath begotten you, therefore walk as men 
regenerate ; for they make these sentences to be of a general concern 
ment, and take them in the largest sense and extent of them. But 
this seemeth harsh, partly because it is not the use of the gospel to 
descend to such low civilities as the ordering of speech and the like ; 
much less would it urge such a weighty argument as regeneration in 
a matter of such common importance ; and indeed the inference in 
that sense is no way clear, and it would be a great gap and stride to 
descend from such a weighty and spiritual matter to mere rules of 
civility: partly because the subsequent context showeth these sen 
tences must be restrained to the matter in hand ; for, ver. 21, he sub- 
inferreth out of these sayings an exhortation to hear the word rightly ; 
therefore I conceive the connection to stand thus : He had spoken of 
the word of truth as being the instrument of conversion, and upon 
that ground persuadeth to diligent hearing and reverent speaking of 
it ; for so these sentences must be restrained, and then the coherence 
is more fluent and easy, as thus : You see what an honour God hath 
put on the word, as by it to beget us to himself ; therefore ' be swift 
to hear,' that is, of a docile or teachable mind, be ready still to wait 
upon God in the word ; be ' slow to speak/ that is, do not rashly 
precipitate your judgment or opinion concerning things of faith ; be 
' slow to wrath/ that is, be not angrily prejudiced against those that 
seem to differ and dissent from you. Thus you see, if we con 
sider these directions under a special reference to the matter in hand, 
the context is easy. I confess it is good to give scripture its full lati 
tude in application, and therefore rules may be commodiously extended 
to repress the disorders of private conversation, as garrulity, when men 
are full of talk themselves, and morosity, when they cannot endure to 
hear others, and so also anger and private revenge ; especially when 
any of these is found, as usually they are, in Christian meetings and 
conventions, little patience, and much talk and anger. But the chief 
aim of the apostle is to direct them in the solemn hearing of the word. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. From that ivherefore. It is a great encouragement to wait 
upon the ordinances, when we consider the benefits God doth dispense 
by them. In the institution of every duty there is a word of com 
mand and a word of promise. The command for our warrant, the 
promise for our encouragement. The command that we may come 
in obedience, and the promise that we may come in faith. Thus it is 
said, Isa. Iv. 3, ' Hear, and your soul shall live.' Hear, that is the 
command. Your soul shall live, there is the promise. It is God's 
mercy that no duty is a mere task, but a holy means ; and ordinances 
are appointed, not only in sovereignty, but in mercy. Well, then, 
Christians are not only to look to the ground of duties, but the end of 

1 ' Nesciunt suis parcere qtii nihil simm norunt.' Ambros. 


them, that sweeteneth them to us. God hath required nothing of you 
but for your own benefit : Prov. ix. 12, ' If thou be wise, thou shalt be 
wise for thyself.' God hath glory in your approaches, but you have 
comfort. Oh ! consider, then, every time you come to hear the word, 
the high privileges you may enjoy by it ! Say thus, when you come 
to hear : I am to hear that my soul may live, I am going to the word 
that is to beget me, to make my soul partaker of the divine nature. 
Christians do not raise their expectations to such a height of mercies 
as are offered to them in the ordinances. 

Obs. 2. Again, from the illative particle ivJierefore. Experience 
of the success of ordinances engageth us to a further attendance 
upon them. He hath begotten you by the word of truth, ' where 
fore, be swift to hear.' Who would baulk a way in which he hath 
found good, and discontinue duty when he hath found the benefit of 
it ? When God hath given you success, he hath given you a seal of 
his truth, a real experience of the comforts of his service. The Stan- 
carists, 1 that think ordinances useless for believers, fit to initiate us 
in religion, and no further, are ignorant of the nature of grace, the 
state of their own hearts, and the ends of the word. Because this 
proud sect is revived in our times, and man} r , as soon as they have 
found the benefit of ordinances, think they are above them, let us a 
little examine these particulars. 

1. They are ignorant of the nature of grace, which always upon a 
taste longeth for more: Ps. Ixiii. 1, 2, ' I long to see thy power and 
glory, as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.' When the springs lie 
low, a little water cast in bringeth up more : so, after a taste, grace 
longeth for more communion with God ; they would see God as they 
have seen him : so the apostle, 1 Peter ii. 3, 4, ' If ye have tasted that 
he is gracious, come to him as to a living stone ; ' that is, if you have 
had any taste and experience of Christ in the word (which is the 
case in the context), you will be coming to him for more. However 
it is with spiritual pride, grace is quickened by former success and 
experience, not blunted. 

2. They are ignorant of the intent and end of the word, which is 
not only to beget us, but to make the saints perfect, Eph. iv. 12, 13. 
The apostles, when they had established churches, returned to ' confirm 
the disciples' hearts,' Acts xiv. 22. We are to look after growth, as 
well as truth. Now, lest you should think it only concerneth the 
new-born babes, or the weaker sort of Christians, you shall see those 
of the highest form found need to exercise themselves herein : the 
prophets ' searched diligently ' into the writings of other prophets, 1 
Peter i. 11, 12. Daniel himself, though a prophet, and a prophet of 
high visions,_ studied books, Dan. ix. 2. And still the greatest have 
need of praying, meditating, reading, hearing, to preserve the work of 
grace that is begun in their souls. That place is notable, Luke viii. 
18, ' Take heed how you hear ; for whosoever hath, to him shall be 
given ; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken that which 
he seemeth to have/ Our Saviour upon this ground presseth them to 
a greater conscience and sense of the duty of hearing, because those 

1 From Stancaras, a professor at Konigsberg, and afterwards in Poland, where he died 
in 1574. ED. 



tliat have grace already will have further confirmation and increase ; 
and those that, upon a presumption and pretence of having grace, 
neglect the means of grace, shall lose that which they seemed to have ; 
that is, shall appear to be just nothing in religion, blasted in gifts, as 
well as decayed in grace. 

3. They are ignorant of the state of their own hearts. Are there 
no graces to be perfected and increased ? no corruptions to be morti 
fied ? no good resolutions to be strengthened ? no affections to be 
quickened and stirred up ? Is there no decay of vigour and liveli 
hood ? no deadness growing upon their spirits ? Certainly none need 
ordinances so much as they that do not need them. The spirit is a 
tender thing, soon discomposed. Things that are most delicate are 
most dependent. Brambles grow of themselves, but the vine needeth 
props. Wolves and dogs can rummage and seek abroad in the wilder 
ness, but the sheep need a pastor. They that look into their hearts 
would find a double need of ordinances. (1.) Knowledge is imperfect. 
It is some good degree of knowledge to be sensible of our own ignor 
ance ; none so proud and contented as they that know least : 1 Cor. 
viii. 2, 'If any man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth 
nothing as he ought to know.' At first truths seem few, and soon 
learned ; and it is some good progress in any learning to be sensible 
and humbled with the imperfections of knowledge ; and it is so in 
divine matters. We see little in the word till we come to be more 
deeply acquainted with it : and then, Ps. cxix. 18, ' Open mine eyes, 
that I may see wonders in thy law ; ' then we come to discern depths, 
and such wisdom as we never thought of. The word is an ocean, 
without bottom and banks. A man may see an end of other things, 
and get the mastery over an art : 'I have seen an end of all perfec 
tion, but thy commandment is exceeding broad,' Ps. cxix. 96. We 
can never exhaust all the treasure and worth that is in the word. (2.) 
Affections need a new excitement. Commands must be repeated to a 
dull servant ; such is our will. We need fresh enforcements of duty 
upon us. Live coals need blowing, and a good soldier the trumpet 
to stir up his warlike rage, 1 Cor. xiv. 31. All may learn, or all be 
comforted. The apostle there specifieth the two ends of prophecy, 
which is either that we may learn, or be comforted, or exhorted ; the 
word is indifferent to both those significations, either the improving of 
knowledge, or the exciting of languishing affections. 

Obs. 3. From that let every one. This is a duty that is universal, 
and bindeth all men. None are exempted from hearing and patient 
learning : ' the eye hath need of the foot.' Those that know most 
may learn more. Junius was converted by discourse with a plough 
man. A simple laic (as the story * calleth him) turned the whole 
Council of Nice against Arianism. G-od may make use of the meanest 
things for the instruction of the greatest. Paul, the great apostle, 
calleth Priscilla and Persis, two women, his ' fellow-helpers in the 
Lord/ Kom. xvi. Torches are many times lighted at a candle, and 
the most glorious saints advantaged by the meanest. Christ would 
teach his disciples by a child : ' He took a child, and set him in the 
midst of them/ Mat. xviii. 2. It is proud disdain to scorn the 

1 Socrates Scholast., lib. ii., Eccles. Hist., cap. 8. 


meanest gifts. There may be gold in an earthen vessel. There is none 
too old, none too wise, none too high to be taught. 1 Let every one. 

Obs. 4. From that be swift, that is, ready. The commendation of 
duties is the ready discharge of them. Swiftness noteth two things : 
(1.) Freeness of spirit ; do it without reluctancy when you do it ; no 
offerings are accepted of God but such as are free-will offerings, Ps. 
cxix. 108. (2.) Swiftness noteth diligence in taking the next occasion ; 
they will not decline an opportunity, and say, Another day. Delay is 
a sign of unwillingness. You shall see, Ezek. i., the beasts had four 
faces and four wings ; they had four faces, as waiting when the Spirit 
would come upon them ; and four wings, as ready to look and fly into 
that part of the world into which God would dispatch them. This 
readiness to take occasions is showed in three things : (1st.) In restrain 
ing all debates and deliberations : ' I consulted not with flesh and 
blood, but immediately I went up to Jerusalem/ Gal. i. 10. When 
the soul deliberateth about duty, it neglecteth it ; do not debate when 
God commandeth, whether it be best or no ; the soul is half won when 
it yieldeth to dispute things. God saith, Gen. ii. 17, ' In the day that 
thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die/ And Eve repeateth, chap. iii. 3, 
' Thou shalt not eat, lest ye die ; ' and Satan saith, ver. 4, ' Ye shall 
not surely die/ God affirmeth, the woman doubteth, and Satan 
denieth. It is not good to allow the devil the advantage of a debate ; 
when you pause upon things, Satan worketh upon your hesitancy. (2d.) 
In laying aside all pretences and excuses. Duty would never be done 
if we should allow the soul in every lesser scruple ; there will still be 
' a lion in the way/ and opening to the Spouse will be interpreted a 
defiling of the feet. Peter, as soon as he heard the voice of Christ, 
cast himself into the sea, others came about by ship, Mai xiv. 29 ; 
he did not plead the waves between him and Christ. (3d.) In yielding 
yourselves up to the whole will of God without reservations, do not 
allow one exception, or reserve one carnal desire : Acts ix. 6, ' Lord, 
what wilt thou have me to do ? ' The ear and heart was open for 
every command. So 1 Sam. iii. 9, ' Speak, Lord, for thy servant 
heareth/ He was ready to receive whatever God would command ; 
but, alas! it is otherwise with us. Christ cometh to offer himself 
to us, as he did to the blind man: Luke xviii. 41, ' What wilt thou 
that I shall do unto thee ? ' Christ is fain to ask our pleasure, not we 
his. The master asketh what the servant will command. Yea, we 
refuse him when he offereth himself to us : Heb. xii. 25, w Trapcurrj- 
crare, ' See that ye refuse not/ &c. The word signifieth, do not urge 
vain pretences. This is the fourth note, but I must be more par 

06s. 5. From that be swift to hear ; that is, the word of God, for 
otherwise it were good to be slow in hearing. We may wish our 
selves deaf sometimes/that we may not hear oaths, impurities, railings ; 
as old Maris was glad that he was blind, that he could not see such 
a cursed apostate as Julian. Divers things are implied in this 
precept. I shall endeavour to draw out the sense of it in these particu 

1. It showeth how we should value hearing : be glad of an oppor- 

1 'Act yrjpdffKb) iroXXa didavKdnevos. Solon. 


tunity ; the ear is the sense of learning, 1 and so it is of grace ; it is 
that sense that is consecrated to receive the most spiritual dispensa 
tions : Kom. x. 14, ' How shall they believe in him of whom they have 
not heard? ' The Lord beginneth his sermon with ' Hear, Israel/ 
Deut. vi. When Christ was solemnly discovered from heaven to be 
the great prophet of the church, the respect that is bespoken for 
him is audience : Mat. xvii. 5, ' This is my beloved Son, hear him.' 
God is pleased to appoint this way, do not despise it. Beading hath its 
use, but the voice hath aliquid latentis energice, a secret force upon 
the soul, because of the sympathy between the external word and 
inward reason ; I mean, it hath a ministerial efficacy, by which the 
authority and sovereign efficacy of the Spirit is conveyed. God 
would insinuate a real efficacy in a moral way, and therefore useth 
the voice. The apostle had spoken much of the word, and then he 
saith, ' This is the word which is preached to you,' 1 Peter i. 25. ' It is 
not the word read, but the word preached. You may judge it a vain 
artifice, count it ' the foolishness of preaching/ but it is under the 
blessing of a solemn institution: ' It pleased the Father/ &c., 1 Cor. 
i. 21. Therefore, by the external voice there is meant, then, a 
ministerial excitation. Eeading doth good in its place ; but to slight 
hearing, out of a pretence that you can read better sermons at home, is a 
sin. Duties mistimed lose their nature ; the blood is the continent of 
life when it is in the proper vessels ; but when it is out, it is hurtful, 
and breedeth putrefactions and diseases. 

2. It showeth how ready we should be to take all occasions to hear 
the word. If ministers must preach ' in season and out of season/ 
a people are bound to hear. It is observed that a little before the 
French massacre Protestants were cloyed with the word ; and so it is 
now. Heretofore they would run far and near to enjoy such an 
opportunity : Mat. iii. 5, ' Jerusalem and Judea, and all the region 
round about, came to hear John.' Some of those places mentioned 
were thirty miles from .ZEnon beyond Salem, which was the place 
where John baptized: 1 Sam. iii. 1, 'The word of the Lord was 
precious in those days ; for there was no open vision.' Heretofore 
lectures were frequented when they were more scarce. The wheat of 
heaven was despised when it fell every day : Amos viii. 12, ' I will 
send a famine of the word, and they shall wander from sea to sea, 
from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro, and shall 
not find it.' Then they would go far and near for a little comfort 
and counsel. This is one of those enjoyments which is valued when 
it is wanted. When manna is a common food, men lust for quails : 
' Nothing but this manna ! ' This swiftness here showeth the content 
men should take in hearing the word ; but, alas ! now men pretend 
every vain excuse, their merchandise, their farm, and so cannot wait 
upon the word of God : it may be on the Lord's day, when they dare 
do nothing else ; but few take other occasions and opportunities. David 
saith,Ps. xxvi. 8, ' I have loved the habitation of thy house, the place 
where thine honour dwelleth/ It was comfort to him to wait upon 
God, to come to the doors of wisdom, a burden to us. 

' Plus est in auribus quam in oculis situm, quoniam doctrina et sapientia percipi 
auribus solia potest, oculis soils non potest.' Lactantius. 


3. It noteth readiness to hear the sense and mind of others upon 
the word. We should not be so puffed up with our own knowledge, 
but we should be swift to hear what others can say. It is a great 
evil to contemn others' gifts ; there is none so wise but he may receive 
some benefit by the different handling of what he himself krioweth. 
It is an advantage to observe the different breathings of the Spirit of 
God in divers instruments. Job would not ' despise the cause of his 
servants/ Job xxxi. And as we should not contemn their gifts, so 
we should not contemn their judgments. In this being swift to 
hear is condemned that l^io^vwjjioavvrj^ that private spirit, and over 
prizing of our own conceits and apprehensions, so that we are not 
patient to hear anything against them. Men are ' puffed up with their 
own mind/ though it be ' fleshly' arjd carnal, Col. ii. 18 ; they make 
a darling and an idol of their own thoughts. The apostle saith, 
1 Cor. xiv. 30, ' If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let 
the first hold his peace.' You do not know what may be revealed to 
another ; no man is above a condition of being instructed. Divide 
self from thy opinion, and love things not because they suit with thy 
prejudices, but truth. ' Be swift to hear/ that is, to consider what 
may be urged against you. 

4. It noteth what we should do in Christian meetings. They are 
apt to degenerate into noise and clamour ; we are all swift to speak, 
but not to hear one another, and so all our conferences end in tumult 
and confusion, and no good is gotten by them : every man's ' belly is 
like a bottle full of wind, ready to burst for want of vent/ Job xxxii. 
19. If we were as patient and swift to hear as we are ready to speak, 
there would be less of wrath and more of profit in our meetings. I 
remember when a Manichee contested with Augustine, and with 
importunate clamour cried, ' Hear me, hear me/ the father modestly 
answered, Nee ego te, nee tu me, sed ambo audiamus apostolum 
neither hear me, nor I thee, but let us both hear the apostle. It 
were well if we could thus repress the violences and impetuousness of 
our spirits ; when one crieth, Hear me, and another, Hear me, let us 
both hear the apostle, and then we shall hear one another. He saith, 
' Be swift to hear, slow to speak.' When Paul reproveth the disorder 
and tumult that was in the Corinthian assemblies, he adviseth them 
to speak ava pepos, l by turn or course/ 1 Cor. xiv. 27 ; and ver. 31, 
* Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all be 
comforted ; ' that every one should have free liberty to speak, according 
as their part and turn came, and not in a hurry and clatter, which 
hindered both the instruction and comfort of the assembly. 

Obs. 6. That there are many cases wherein we must be slow to speak. 
This clause must also be treated of according to the restriction of the 
context ; slow in speaking of the word of God, and that in several cases. 

1. It teacheth men not to adventure upon the preaching of the 
word till they have a good spiritual furniture, or are stored with a 
sufficiency of gifts. It is not for every one that can speak an hour to 
adventure upon the work of teaching. John was thirty years old 
when he preached first, Luke iii. 1. In the fifteenth year of Tiberius, 1 
that was John's thirtieth year. Augustus reigned fifty-five years, and 

1 Stapyld. in Prompt. Moral, in Dorn. 3, Advent. 


John was born in his fortieth year, and preached in the fifteenth of 
Tiberius, his next successor. Every one itcheth after the dignity of 
being a teacher in Israel. There is somewhat of superiority in it 
(upon which reason the apostle forbiddeth women to teach, 1 Cor. 
xiv. 34, because by the law of their creation they cannot be superiors), 
and somewhat of profit, and therefore the time is hastened and pre 
cipitated. Few stay till their youthful heats be spent, and thirty 
years' experience hath fitted them for so great a work and burthen. 
It is observable that Jesus Christ had also fulfilled thirty years ere he 
entered upon his public ministry. Though I do not tie it merely to 
the years ; either too young or too weak, it is all one to me. There 
are (as Ignatius saith in his epistle to the Magnesians) TTJV 7ro\iav 
fjidTiv cfrepovres, some that in vain hang out the bush of grey hairs, 
when they have no good wine to vend or utter. Indeed, the drift of 
that whole epistle is to persuade them to reverence their bishop, though 
but of small years, 1 where he instanceth in Daniel, Solomon, Jere 
miah, Samuel, Josiah, whose youth was seasoned with knowledge and 
piety, and concludeth that it is not age but gifts make a minister, 
and, through the abundance of Spirit, there may be an old mind in a 
young body ; and Timothy, though younger in years, was an elder in 
the church. For my own particular, I must say, as Pharaoh's chief 
butler said, Gen. xli. 9, ' I remember my faults this day.' I cannot 
excuse myself from much of crime and sin in it ; but I have been in 
the ministry these ten years, and yet not fully completed the thirtieth 
year of my age ; the Lord forgive my rash intrusion. Whatever help 
or furtherance I have contributed to the faith and joy of the saints by 
my former public labours, or my private ministerial endeavours, or 
shall do by this present work, I desire it may be wholly ascribed to 
the efficacy of the divine grace, which is many times conveyed 
and reached forth by the most unworthy instruments. But to return. 
Tertullian 2 hath a notable observation concerning some sectaries in 
his time, Nunquam citius prqficitur quam in castris rebellium, ubi 
ipsum illic esse promereri est that men usually have a quick dispatch 
and progress in the tents of heresy, and become teachers ere they are 
scarce Christians. He goeth on : Neophytos collocant, ut gloria eos 
obligent, quia veritate non possunt they set up young men to teach, 
that they may win them by honour, when they cannot gain them by 
truth. Certainly this is a bait that pride soon swalloweth ; and that 
which hath drawn many into error, is a liberty to teach before they 
are scarce anything in religion. Oh ! consider, hasty births do not fill 
the house, but the grave. Men that obtrude themselves too soon upon 
a calling do not edify, but destroy. It is good for a while to be slow 
to speak. Aquinas, when he heard Albertus, was called Bos mutus, 
the dumb ox, because for a great while he was altogether silent. It 
is not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of vainglory which putteth 
men upon things ^ which they are not able to wield and manage. It is 
good to take notice of those compressions and constraints that are 

1 Hortatur Magnesianos : ' MT? Kara^ovelv TT?S i)\iida.s TOV eirLffKbirov, ou irpol rj]v thai- 
vw&yv afopuvras vettTrjTa dXXdt irpol TTJV tv Gey <t>p6v*i<rtv.''Ignat. Epist. ad Maqnes sub 
initio Epist. 

2 Tertul. in lib. de Prescript, adversus Hseret. 


within our spirits ; but it is good also to take heed that they do not 
arise from pride, or some carnal affections. 

2. It showeth that we should not precipitate our judgments con 
cerning doctrines and points of divinity. That we may not rashly 
condemn or defend anything that is contrary to the word of God, or 
of which we have certainty from the word. Be slow to speak ; that 
is, do not speak till you have a sure ground. The sudden conceptions 
of the mind are not always the best. To take up things hastily 
engageth a man to many inconveniences. Moses would not give an 
answer suddenly ; Num. ix. 8, ' I will hear what the Lord will speak 
concerning you.' That great prophet was at a stand till he had spoken 
with God. Under the law the tip of the priest's ear was to be sprinkled 
with blood ; first he must hear Christ, and then speak to the people. 
Well, then, be not too hasty to defend any opinion till you have tried 
it. How mutable do men of a sudden spirit and fiery nature appear 
to the world ! Rashly professing according to their present appre 
hensions, they are forced to change often. There should be a due 
pause ere we receive things, and a serious deliberation ere we defend 
and profess them. 

3. That we be not more forward to teach others than to learn our 
selves. Many are hasty to speak, but backward to do, and can better 
master it and prescribe to others than practise themselves, which our 
apostle noteth: James iii. 1, 'My brethren, be not many masters;' 
that is, be not so forward to discipline others when you neglect your 
own souls. The apostle speaketh so earnestly, as if he meant to rouse 
a benumbed conscience : Rom. ii. 21, * Thou which teachest another, 
teachest thou not thyself?' And I have heard that a scandalous 
minister, in reading of it, was struck at the heart and converted. 
Since the fall, light is more directive than persuasive ; and therefore 
a heathen could observe, that it is far more easy to instruct others 
than to practise ourselves. 1 

4. That we do not vainly and emptily talk of the things of God, 
and put forth ourselves above what is meet : it is good to take every 
occasion, but many times indiscreet speaking doth more hurt than 
silence. Some will be always bewraying their folly, and in every meet 
ing engross all the discourse : Prov. x. 19, 'In the multitude of 
words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise.' 
We should weigh our words before we utter them : when men are 
swift to speak and much in talk, they bewray some folly which is a stain 
to them. So Prov. xvii. 27, ' He that hath understanding spareth 
his words/ Empty vessels sound loudest ; and men of great parts, 
like a deep river, glide on with the least noise. 

5. It teacheth us not to be over-ready to frame objections against 
the word. It is good to be dumb at a reproof, though not deaf. Let 
not every proud thought break out into thy speeches. Guilt will 
recoil at the hearing of the word, and the mind will be full of vain 
surmises and carnal objections ; but alas ! how odious would men 
appear if they should be swift to utter them if thoughts, that are the 
words of the mind, should be formed into outward words and expres- 

1 '"Airavres Zfffiev ec's rb vovQerelv v6<f>oi, 6rav d'avroi iroiufiev /juapol ou yiyvu<?KOfJi.ei>.' 


sions. Thoughts may be corrected upon further information, but 
words cannot be recalled; thoughts do only stain our own spirits, 
words convey a taint to others ; thoughts are more indeliberate than 
words ; in thoughts we mi with our mind only, in words with our 
mind and tongue. 

Obs. 7. That renewed men should be slow to wrath. You must 
understand this with the same reference that you do the other clauses ; 
and so it implieth that the word must not be received or delivered 
with a wrathful heart : it concerneth both hearers and teachers. 

1. The teachers. They must be slow to wrath in delivering the 
word. (1.) Let not the word lacquey upon private anger : spiritual 
weapons must not be used in your own cause ; you have not a power 
to cast out of Christ at your own pleasure. The word is not com 
mitted to you for the advancing of your esteem and interests, but 
Christ's. The apostle had ' vengeance in a readiness/ 2 Cor. x. 6, 
but it was for disobedience to Christ, not for disrespect to his own person. 
Men that quarrel for esteem bring a just reproach and scandal upon 
their ministry. (2.) Do not easily deliver yourselves up to the sway 
of your own passions and anger : people will easily distinguish between 
this mock thunder and divine threatenings. Passionate outcries do 
only fright the easy and over-credulous souls, and that only for the 
present ; proofs and insinuations do a great deal more good : snow 
that falleth soft, soaketh deep. In the tempest Christ slept ; when 
passion is up, true zeal is usually asleep. 

2. The people. It teacheth them patience under the word. Do 
not rise up in arms against a just reproof; it is natural to us, but be 
slow to it ; do not yield to your nature. David said ' I have sinned 
against the Lord/ 2 Sam. xii. 13, when Nathan set home his fact with 
all the aggravations : and it is an accusation against a king, 2 Chron. 
xxx vi. 12, * He humbled riot himself before Jeremiah the prophet, 
speaking from the mouth of the Lord.' Mark, it is not said, ' before 
the Lord/ but ' before Jeremiah.' God was angry with a great king 
for not humbling himself before a poor prophet. Anger doth but 
bewray your own guilt. One was reported to have uttered something 
against the honour of Tiberius ; the crafty tyrant did the more strongly 
believe it, because it was the just report of his own guilt. Quia vera 
erant dicta credebantur, saith the historian. 1 So many think we aim 
at them, intend to disgrace them, because indeed there is a cause, and 
so storm at the word. Usually none are angry at a reproof but those 
that most deserve it ; and when conviction, which should humble, 
doth but irritate, it is an ill sign. Those that were ' pricked at the 
hearts/ Acts ii. 37, were much better tempered than those that were ' cut 
to the heart/ Acts vii. 54, as humiliation is a better fruit of the word 
than impatience. You shall see the children of God are most meek 
when the word falleth upon their hearts most directly. David saith, ' Let 
the righteous reprove me, and it shall be an oil/ c. Reproof to a 
gracious soul is like a sword anointed with balsam ; it woundeth and 
healeth at the same time. So Hezekiah said, Isa. xxxix. 8, ' Good is 
the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken : ' it was a sad word, a 
heavy threatening; yet the submission of his sanctified judgment 

1 Tacitus. 


calleth it good. In such cases you should not storm and rage, but 
give thanks, and say, as David to Abigal, ' Blessed be the Lord that 
sent thee to meet me this day : ' bless God for meeting with you in 
the word. 

Obs. 8. That it is some cure of passion to delay it. * Be slow to 
wrath.' Anger groweth not by degrees, like other passions, but at her 
birth she is in her full growth ; the heat and fury of it is at first, and 
therefore the best cure is deliberation : 1 Prov. xix. 11, ' The discretion 
of a man deferreth his anger ; ' that is, the revenge which anger 
meditateth. Many men are like tinder or gunpowder, take fire at the 
least spark of offence, and, by following their passions too close, run 
themselves into inconveniences ; therefore it is good to check these 
precipitant motions by delay and due recourse to reason : Prov. xiv. 
29, ' He that is hasty in spirit exalteth folly.' When men are quick 
and short of spirit, they are transported into many indecencies, which 
dishonour God, and wound their conscience, and afterward have 
cause enough, by a long repentance, to bewail the sad effects of a 
short and sudden anger. Athenodorus advised Augustus, when he 
was surprised with anger, to repeat the alphabet, which advice was so 
far good, as it tended to cool a sudden rage, that the mind, being 
diverted, might afterward deliberate. So Ambrose 2 counselled Theo- 
dosius the Great (after he had rashly massacred the citizens of Thes- 
salonica) to decree, that in all sentences that concerned life, the 
execution of them should be deferred till the thirtieth day, that so 
there may be a space for showing mercy, if need required. Well, 
then, indulge not the violence and swiftness of passion ; sudden appre 
hensions usually mistake, the ultimate judgment of reason is best. 
Motions vehement, and of a sudden irruption, run away without a rule, 
and end in folly and inconvenience. It is a description of God that 
he is ' slow to wrath ; ' certainly a hasty spirit is most unlike God. It 
is true that some good men have been observed to be ofu^oXot, hasty, 
and soon moved, as Calvin. 3 Augustine observes the like of his 
father, Patricius, 4 and some observe the same of Cameron ; 5 but for the 
most part these motions in those servants of God were but (as Jerome 
calleth them) propassions, sudden and irresistible alterations that were 
connatural to them, and which they by religious exercises in a great mea 
sure mortified and subdued ; and if anger came soon, it stayed not long. 
Solomon says, Eccles. vii. 9, ' Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry, 
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.' That anger is 6 most culpable 
which soon cometh, but resteth or stayeth long, as being indulged. 
So Solomon saith elsewhere, Prov. xiv. 17, ' He that is soon angry 
dealeth foolishly, but a man of wicked devices is hated ; ' implying, 
that sudden anger is an effect of folly and weakness, which may be 

1 ' Maximum remedium iraedilatio est, ut primus ejus fervor relanguescat, etcaligo quae 
prerait mentem aut resiliat aut minus densa sit ; graves habet impetus primo.' Senec. 
de Ira, lib. ii. cap. 28, and lib. iii. cap. 12. 

2 Ruff., lib. ii. Hist., cap. 18 ; Theod., lib. v. Hist., cap. 26. 

3 Beza in Vita Calvini, p. 109. 

4 ' Erat vero ille sicut benevolentia praecipuus : ita ira fervidus.' Aug. Confess., lib. 
ix. cap. 9. 

5 ' '0i/xoXos quidam et adversus notos etfamiliares facile initabilis, sed qui etiam Irani 
deponeret, atque ultro culpam et errorem agn'*ceret.' Icon. Carrier. Prcef. Operibus. 

6 Qu. ' is not ' ? ED. 


incident to the best, but to concoct anger into malice is an argument 
of wickedness, and is found only in the most depraved natures ; in 
short, it is contemptible to be angry suddenly, but to plot revenge 

Ver. 20. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of 

Here he rendereth a reason of the last clause, why they should take 
heed of this indignation and rising of their hearts against the word, 
because the wrath of man would hinder them from attaining that 
righteousness and accomplishing that duty which God requireth in 
his word. 

For the ivrath of man. There is an emphasis in that word : he 
doth not say wrath in general, for there is always a righteousness in 
the wrath of God. The apostle saith, Kom. i. 18, it is ' revealed 
from heaven against the unrighteousness of men/ or, rather, the wrath 
of man, to show that, under what disguises soever it appeareth, it is 
but human and fleshly : there is nothing of God, but much of man 
in it. 

Worketh not, ov Karepjd^eraL doth not attain, doth not persuade 
or bring forth, any righteous action ; yea, it hindereth God from per 
fecting his work in us. 

The righteousness of God. That is, say some, justice mixed with 
mercy, which is the righteousness that the scriptures ascribe to God, 
and anger will not suffer a man to dispense it ; but this seems too 
much strained and forced. Others say the meaning is, it doth not 
execute God's just revenge, but our own malice. But rather the 
righteousness of God is put for such righteousness as God requireth, 
God approveth, God effecteth ; and in this sense in scripture things 
are said to be of God or of Christ which are effected by his power 
or commanded in his word : thus faith is said to be the work of God, 
John vi. 29, because he commandeth we should labour in it, which 
plainly is the intent of that context ; and the apostle useth the word 
' righteousness,' because anger puts on the form of justice and righteous 
ness more than any other virtues. It seemeth to be but a just 
displeasure against an offence, and looks upon revenge not as irrational 
excess, but a just punishment, especially such anger as carrieth the 
face of zeal, which is the anger spoken of in the text. Kage and 
distempered heats in controversies of religion, and about the sense of 
the word, such carnal zeal, how just and pious soever it seem, is not 
approved and acquitted as righteous before God. It is observable 
that there is a litotes in the apostle's expression more is intended than 
said ; for the apostle means, it is so far from working righteousness, 
that it worketh all manner of evil ; witness the tragical effects of it 
in the world: the slaughters that Simeon and Levi wrought in 
Shechem : Sarah in her anger breaks two commandments at once, 
takes the name of God in vain, and falsely accuseth Abraham, 
Gen. xvi. 5. 

Obs. 1. From the context. The worst thing that we can bring to a 
religious controversy is anger. The context speaketh of anger occa 
sioned by differences about the word. Usually no affections are so out 
rageous as those which are engaged in the quarrel of religion, for then 


that which should bridle the passion is made the fuel of it, and that 
which should restrain undue heats and excesses engageth them. How 
ever, this should not be. Christianity, of all religions, is the meekest 
and most humble. It is founded upon the blood of Christ, who is a 
Lamb slain. It is consigned and sealed by the Spirit of Christ, who 
descended like a dove. Both are emblems of a meek and modest 
humility. And should a meek religion be defended by our violences, 
and the God of peace served with wrathful affections, and the mad 
ness of an evil nature bewray itself in the best cause ? Christ's war 
fare needeth not such carnal weapons ; as Achish said, ' Have I need 
of mad men ? ' 1 Sam. xxi. 15. So, hath Jesus Christ need of our 
passions and furies ? Doth the God of heaven need { a tongue set on 
fire of hell ' ? James iii. 6. Michael the archangel was engaged in 
the best cause against the worst adversary, with Satan about the body 
of Moses ; and yet the purity of his nature would not permit him to 
profane his engagement with any excess and indecency of passion : 
' He durst not bring against him a railing accusation,' Jude 9. And 
as the wrath of man is unsuitable to the matters of God, so it is also 
prejudicial. When tongue is sharpened against tongue, and pen against 
pen, what followeth ? Nothing but mutual animosities and hatreds, 
whereby, if we gain aught of truth, we lose much of love and good 
ness. Satan would fain be even with God. The devil's kingdom is 
mostly ruined by the rage of his own instruments ; and you cannot 
gratify Satan more than when you wrong the truth by an unseemly 
defence of it ; l for then he seemeth to be quits with Christ, overturn 
ing his kingdom by those which are engaged in the defence of it. 
Briefly, then, if you would do good, use a fit means. The barking 
dog loseth the prey. Violence and furious prosecution seldom gaineth. 
Those engage most successfully that use the hardest arguments and 
the softest words ; whereas railings and revilings, as they are without 
love, so they are without profit. Be watchful ; our religious affections 
may often overset us. 

06s. 2. From that ivorketh not the righteousness. Anger is not to 
be trusted ; it is not so just and righteous as it seemeth to be. Of all 
passions this is most apt to be justified. As Jonah said to God, ' I 
do well to be angry,' Jonah iv. 9, so men are apt to excuse their heats 
and passions, as if they did but express a just indignation against an 
offence and wrong received. Anger, like a cloud, blindeth the mind, 
and then tyranniseth over it. There is in it somewhat of rage and 
violence ; it vehemently exciteth a man to act, and taketh away his 
rule according to which he ought to act. All violent concitations of 
the spirit disturb reason, and hinder clearness of debate ; and it is 
then with the soul as it is with men in a mutiny, the gravest cannot 
be heard ; and there is in it somewhat of mist and darkness, by which 
reason, being beclouded, is rather made a party than a judge, and doth 
not only excuse our passion, but feed it, as being employed in represent 
ing the injury, rather than bridling our irrational excess. Well, then, 
do not believe anger. Men credit their passion, and that foments it. 
In an unjust cause, when Sarah was passionate, you see how confident 
she is, Gen. xvi. 5, * The Lord judge between me and thee.' It would 

1 ' Affectavit quandoque diabolus veritateru defendendo concutere.' Tert. 


have been ill for her if the Lord had umpired between her and Abra 
ham. It was a strange confidence, when she was in the wrong, to 
appeal to God. You see anger is full of mistakes, and it seemeth 
just and righteous when it doth nothing less than work the righteous 
ness of God. The heathens suspected themselves when under the 
power of their anger. ' I would beat thee/ saith one, ' if I were not 
angry/ l When you are under the power of a passion, you "have just 
cause to suspect all your apprehensions ; you are apt to mistake others, 
and to mistake your own spirits. Passion is blind, and cannot judge ; 
it is furious, and hath no leisure to debate and consider. 

Obs. 3. From that anger of man and righteousness of God. Note 
the opposition, for there is an emphasis in those two words man and 
God. The point is, that a wrathful spirit is a spirit most unsuitable 
to God. God being the God of peace, requireth pacatum animum 
a quiet and composed spirit. Thunder is in the lower regions, 
inferiora fulminant ; all above is quiet. Wrathful men are most unfit 
either to act grace or to receive grace ; to -act grace by drawing nigh 
to God in worship, for worship must carry proportion with the object 
of it, as the God that is a spirit, John iv. 27, will be served in spirit ; so 
the God of peace with a peaceable mind. So to receive grace from 
God : angry men give place to Satan, but grieve the Spirit, Eph. iv. 26, 
27, with 30, and so are more fit to receive sin than grace. God is 
described, Ps. ii. 4, to ' sit in the heavens,' which noteth a quiet and 
composed posture ; and truly, as he sitteth in the heavens, so he 
dwelleth in a meek and quiet spirit. 

Obs. 4. The last note is more general, from the whole verse : that 
man's anger is usually evil and unrighteous. Anger and passion is a 
sin with which the people of God are many times surprised, and too 
often do they swallow it without grief and remorse, out of a conceit 
partly that their anger is such as is lawful and allowed ; partly that 
it is but a venial evil, and of sudden surreption, for which there is a 
pardon of course. 

I shall therefore endeavour two things briefly : 

1. Show you what anger is sinful. 

2. How sinful, and how great an evil it is. 

First, To state the matter, that it. is necessary, for all anger is not 
sinful ; one sort of it falleth under a concession, another under a com 
mand, another under the just reproofs of the word. 

[1.] There are some indeliberable motions, which Jerome calleth 
propassions, 2 sudden and irresistible alterations, which are the infelici 
ties of nature, not the sins ; 3 tolerable in themselves, if rightly stinted. 
A man is not to be stupid and insensate : anger in itself is but a 
natural motion to that which is offensive ; and (as all passions) is so 
long lawful as it doth not make us omit a duty, or dispose us to a sin, 
or exceed the value of its impulsive cause. So the apostle saith, ' Be 
angry, and sin not,' Eph. iv. 26. He alloweth what is natural, for- 
biddeth what is sinful. 

[2.] There is a necessary holy anger, which is the whetstone of 

1 ' Cocdissem te nisi iratus essem.' Plato. 

2 ' UpoTrddeiai, non irddrjS Hicron. Epist. ad Demet. 

3 ' Infirmitates, non iniquitates.' Ambros. 


fortitude and zeal. So it is said, ' Lot's righteous soul was vexed/ 
2 Peter ii. 7. So Christ himself, Mark iii. 5. ' He looked about him 
with anger.' So Moses' wrath waxed hot, Exod. xi. 8. This is but 
an advised motion of the will, guided by the rules of reason. Cer 
tainly they are angry and sin not who are angry at nothing but sin : 
it is well when every passion serveth the interests of religion. How 
ever, let "me tell you, this being a fierce and strong motion of the 
spirit, it must be used with great advice and caution. (1.) The prin 
ciple must be right. God's interests and ours are often twisted, and 
many times self interposeth the more plausibly because it is varnished 
with a show of religion ; and we are more apt to storm at indignities 
and affronts offered to ourselves rather than to God. The Samaritans 
rejected Christ, and in the name of Christ the apostles, they presently 
called for fire from heaven; but our Lord saith, Luke ix. 55, 'Ye 
know not what mariner of spirit ye are of.' It is good to look to 
the impulses upon which our spirits are acted ; pride and self-love 
is apt to rage at our own contempt and disgrace ; and the more 
securely when the main interest is God's. A river many times loseth 
its savour when it is mingled with other streams; and zeal that 
boileth up upon an injury done to God may prove carnal, when it is 
fed with the accessions of our own contempt and interest. 1 It is 
observed of Moses, that he was most meek in his own cause. When 
Miriam and Aaron spoke against him, it is said, Num. xii. 3, ' The 
man Moses was meek above all men in the earth ; ' but when the law 
was made void, he broke the tables, and his meek spirit was heightened 
into some excess of zeal. By that action you would have judged his 
temper hot and furious. Lot's spirit was vexed, but it was with 
Sodom's filthiness, not with Sodom's injuries. Zeal is too good an 
affection to be sacrificed to the idol of our own esteem and interests. 
(2.) It must have a right object : the heat of indignation must be 
against the crime, rather than against the person : good anger is 
always accompanied with grief ; it prompteth us to pity and pray 
for the party offending. Mark iii. 5, Christ ' looked about him with 
anger, and was grieved for the hardness of their hearts/ False zeal 
hath mischief and malice in it ; it would have the offender rooted out, 
and purposeth revenge rather than correction. (3.) The manner 
must be right. See that you be not tempted to any indecency and 
unhandsomeness of expression ; violent and troubled expressions argue 
some carnal commotion in the spirit. Moses was angry upon a good 
cause, but he * spake unadvisedly withj his lips,' Ps. cvi. 33. In reli 
gious contests men are more secure, as if the occasion would warrant 
their excesses ; and so often anger is vented the more freely, and lieth 
unmortified under a pretence of zeal. 

[3.] There is a sinful anger when it is either (1.) Hasty and inde- 
liberate. Kash and sudden motions are never without sin. Some 
pettish spirits are, as I said, like fine glasses, broken as soon as 
touched, and all of fire upon every slight and trifling occasion ; when 
meek and grave spirits are like flints, that do not send out a spark but 
after violent and great collision. Feeble minds have a habit of wrath, 

[ i/'i/xtf ^ay KaO' eavrov Sta/3o\ds viro<j>epwv, &c.' Basil ad Fratres in 


and, like broken bones, are apt to roar with the least touch : it argueth 
much unmortifiedness to be so soon moved. Or, (2.) Immoderate, 
when it exceedeth the merits of the cause, as being too much, or kept 
too long : too much when the commotion is so immoderate as to dis 
compose the spirit, or to disturb reason, or to interrupt prayer, and 
the free exercise of the spirit in duties of religion. When men have 
lost that patience in which they should possess and enjoy themselves, 
Luke xxi. 19. There is a rational dislike that may be allowed, but such 
violent commotions are not without sin. Too long : anger should be 
like a spark, soon extinguished ; like fire in straw, rather than like fire 
in iron. Thoughts of revenge are sweet, but when they stay long in 
the vessel they are apt to wax eager and sour. New wine is heady, 
but if it be kept long, it groweth tart. Anger is furious, but if it be 
detained, it is digested and concocted into malice. Aristotle reckoneth 
three degrees of angry men, each of which is worse than the former ; 
some are hasty, others are bitter, others are implacable. 1 Wrath 
retained desistetli not without revenge. Oh ! consider this spirit is 
most unchristian. The rule of the word is, ' Let not the sun go down 
upon your wrath/ Eph. iv. 26. This is a fire that must be covered 
ere we go to bed : if the sun leave us angry, the next morning he may 
find us malicious. Plutarch saith of the Pythagoreans that if any offence 
had fallen out in the day, they would before sunset mutually embrace 
one another, and depart in love. 2 And there is a story of Patricius 
and John of Alexandria, between whom great anger had passed ; but 
at evening John sent to him this message, The sun is set; upon which 
they were soon reconciled. (3.) Causeless, without a sufficient ground : 
Mat. v. 22, ' Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, is 
in danger of judgment/ But now the great inquiry is, What is a 
sufficient cause for anger ? Are injuries ? I answer No ; our religion 
forbiddeth revenge as well as injury, for they differ only in order. 
The ill-doing of another doth not loosen and take away the bond of 
our love. When men are provoked by an injury, they think they may 
do anything ; as if another's injury had exempted them from the 
obedience of God's law. This is but to repeat and act over their sins : 
it was bad in them, it is worse in us ; for he that sinneth by example 
sinneth twice, 3 because he had an instance of the odiousness of it in 
another. To ' answer a fool according to his folly ' is to be ' like him/ 
Prov. xxvi. 4 ; to practise that myself which I judge odious in another ; 
and certainly it cannot be any property of a good man purposely to be 
evil because another is so. 4 But are mishaps a cause ? I answer No ; 
this were not only anger, but murmuring, and a storming against 
providence, by which all events, that are to us casual, are determined. 
But are the miscarriages of children and servants a cause ? I answer If 
it be in spiritual matters, anger justly moderated is a duty. If in moral 
and civil, only a rational and temperate displeasure is lawful. For it 

1 e '0pyi\ol, TriKpol, xd\eiroi.' Arist. Ethic., lib. iv. cap. 18. 

2 ' TLv0ayoptKol ytvei wStv irporfKOvres, dXXoi KOIVOV \6yov ^er^vr^, etirore irpoaxOeiev 
ei's \oi8oplav VTT opyijs, irplv rbv ijKiov dvvai rds 5etds ^SaXXovres dXX^Xois Kal da"jracrdiJ.evoL 
SieXtfojTO. ' Plutarch. 

3 ' Qui exemplo peccat bis peccat.' 

4 ' Qui referre injuriam nititur, eum ipsum a quo laesus est gestifc imitari ; et qui 
malum imitatur bonus ease nullo pacto potest.' Lactant. de Vero Cultu, lib. 6. cap. 10. 


is but a natural dislike and motion of the soul against what is unhand 
some and troublesome. But we must see that we regard measure, 
and time, and other circumstances. (4.) Such as is without a good 
end. The end of all anger must be the correction of offences, not the 
execution of our own malice. Always that anger is evil which hath 
somewhat of mischief in it, which aimeth not so much at the convic 
tion and reclaiming of an offender as his disgrace and confusion. 
The stirring of the spirit is not sinful till revenge mingle with it. 
Well, then, as there must be a good cause, there must be a good end. 
Cain was angry with Abel without a cause, and therefore his anger 
was wicked and sinful, Gen. iv. 5. But Esau had some cause to be 
angry with Jacob, and yet his anger was not excusable, because 
there was mischief and revenge in it, Gen. xxvii. 41. 

Secondly, My next work is to show you how sinful it is. I have 
been larger in the former part than my method permitted ; I shall the 
more contract myself in this. Consider an argument or two. 

1. Nothing maketh room for Satan more than wrath : Eph. iv. 
26, 27, ' Be angry and sin not ;' and it followeth, ' Give not place to 
the devil ;' as if the apostle had said, If you give place to wrath, you 
will give place to Satan, who will further and further close with you. 
When passions are neglected they are ripened into habits, and then 
the devil hath a kind of right in us. The world is full of the tragical 
effects of anger, and therefore, when it is harboured and entertained, 
you do not know what may be the issue of it. 

2. It much woundeth your own peace. When the apostle had 
spoken of the sad effects of anger, he added, Eph. iv. 30, ' And grieve 
not the Holy Spirit, by which you are sealed to the day of redemption.' 
The Spirit cannot endure an unquiet mansion and habitation : wrath 
ful and fro ward spirits usually want their seal, that peace and establish 
ment which others enjoy ; for the violences of anger do not only dis 
compose reason, but disturb conscience. The Holy Ghost loveth a 
sedate and meek spirit ; the clamour and tumult of passion frighteth 
him from us, and it is but just with God to let them want peace of 
conscience that make so little conscience of peace. 

3. It disparageth Christianity : the glory of our religion lieth in the 
power that it hath to sanctify and meeken the spirit. Now when men 
that profess Christ break out into such rude and indiscreet excesses, 
they stain their profession, and debase faith beneath the rate of reason, 
as if morality could better cure the irregularities of nature than re 
ligion. Heathens are famous for their patience under injuries, dis 
covered not only in their sayings and rules for the bridling of passion, 
but in their practice. Many of their sayings were very strict and 
exact ; for, by the progressive inferences of reason, they fancied rules 
of perfection, but indeed looked upon them as calculated for talk, 
rather than practice. But when I find them in their lives passing by 
offences with a meek spirit, without any disturbance and purposes of 
revengeful returns, I cannot but wonder, and be ashamed that I have 
less command and rule of my own spirit than they had, having so 
much advantage of rule and motive above them. As when I read that 
Lycurgus l had one of his eyes struck out by an insolent young man, 

1 Plutarch, in Vita Lycurgi. 


and yet used much lenity and love to the party that did it, how can 
I choose but blush at those eager prosecutions that are in my own 
spirit upon every light distaste, that I must have limb for limb, tooth 
for tooth, and cannot be quiet till I have returned reviling for revil- 
in- ? &c. Certainly I cannot dishonour the law of Christ more than 
todo less than they did by the law of nature. 

Ver. 21. Wherefore lay apart allfllthiness and superfluity of naugh 
tiness, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, ivhich is able 
to save your souls. 

The apostle having formerly spoken of the power of the word, and 
from thence inferred that it should be heard willingly, and without 
a cavilling or contradicting spirit, and to that purpose having shown 
the evil of wrath, he again enforceth the main exhortation of laying 
aside all wrathful and exulcerated affections, that they might be fitter 
to entertain the word with an honest and meek heart, for their comfort 
and salvation. There is in the verse a duty, and that is, ' receiving 
of the word;' the help to it, and that is, ' laying aside' evil frames of 
spirit. Then there is the manner how this duty is to be performed, 
' with meekness ;' then the next end, and that is * ingrafting the word ;' 
then the last end, which is propounded by way of motive, ' which is 
able to save your souls.' 

Wherefore, that is, because wrath is such an hindrance to the right 
eousness which God requireth ; or it may be referred to the whole 
context, upon all these considerations. 

Lay apart, air 06 eleven. The force of the word implieth we should 
put it off as an unclean rag or worn garment : the same metaphor is 
used by the apostle Paul : Eph. iv. 22, ' That ye put off the old man, 
which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts ;' and Col. iii. 8, in a 
very like case, ' But now put off these, anger, malice, wrath, blasphemy, 
filthy communication. 

All filtliiness, Traaav pvTrapiav. The word is sometimes put for 
the filthiness of ulcers, and for the nastiness and filth of the body 
through sweating, and is here put to stir up the greater abomination 
against sin, which is elsewhere called ' the filth of the flesh/ 1 Peter 
iii. 21. Some suppose the apostle intendeth those lusts which are most 
beastly, and have greatest turpitude in them ; but either the sense 
must be more general to imply all sin, or more particularly restrained 
to filthy and evil speaking, or else it will not so well suit with the 

And superfluity of naughtiness, rrjv Trepicrcrelav Kaicias. It may 
be rendered ' the oveiowing of malice ; ' and so it noteth scoffs, and 
railings, and evil speakings, which are the superfluity of that in which 
everything is superfluous ; and these are specified in a parallel place 
of the apostle Peter, 1 Peter ii. 1, to which James might allude, writ 
ing after him. Beza rendereth it 'the excrement of wickedness.' 
Some make it an allusion to the garbage of the sacrifices in the brook 
.Kedron. Most take it generally for that abundance of evil and filthi 
ness that is in the heart of man". 

And receive. A word often used for the appropriation of the word, 
and admitting the power of it into our hearts. Eeceive, that is, give 
it more way to come to you ; make more room for it in your hearts. 


Thus it is charged upon them, 2 Thes. ii. 10, that ' they received not 
the love of the truth.' So it is said of the natural man, ov Se^rai, 
* He receiveth not the things of God/ This is a notion so proper to 
this matter, that the formal act of faith is expressed by it, John i. 11, 
' To as many as received him/ &c. 

With meekness ; that is, with a teachable mind, with a modest, sub 
missive spirit. 

The ingrafted tvord, \6<yov e^vrov. Some refer it to reason, 
others to Christ, but with much absurdity ; for this word noteth the 
end and fruit of hearing, that the word may be planted in us ; and the 
apostle showeth that, by the industry of the apostles, the word was 
not only propounded to them, but rooted in them by faith. The like 
metaphor is elsewhere used : ' I have planted,' 1 Cor. iii. 6, that is, 
God by his means ; and the metaphor is continued, Col. i. 6, \6yos 
KapTTofopov/jievos, a phrase that noteth the flourishing and growing of 
the word after the planting of it in the soul. 

Which is able to save ; that is, instrumentally, as it is accompanied 
with the divine grace ; for the gospel is ' the power of God unto salva 
tion,' Kom. i. 16. 

Your souls ; that is, yourselves, bodies and souls. Salvation is attri 
buted to the soul by way of eminency, the principal part being put for 
the whole : Eom. xiii. 1, ' Let every soul be subject to the higher 
powers,' that is, every person. So in other places the same manner of 
expression is used in this very matter : 1 Peter i. 9, ' The end of your 
faith, the salvation of your souls ; ' so Mat. xvi. 20, ' Lose his own 
soul,' that is, himself. In such forms of speech the body is not ex 
cluded, because it always followeth the state of the soul. 

The notes are many : I shall be the briefer. 

Ols. 1. From that laying aside. Before we come to the word 
there must be preparation. They that look for the bridegroom had 
need trim up their lamps. The instrument must be tuned ere it can 
make melody. Hash entering upon duties is seldom successful. God 
may meet us unawares, such is his mercy ; but it is a great adventure. 
The people were to wash their clothes when they went to hear the law, 
Exod. xix. 10. Something there must be done to prepare and fix the 
heart to seek the Lord, 2 Chron. xx. 19 ; Ps. Ivi. 8. Solomon saith, 
' Take heed to thy foot when thou goest into the house of God,' Eccles. 
v. 1. The heathens had one in their temples to remember them that 
came to worship of their work ; he was to cry, Hoc age. Many come 
to hear, but they do not consider the weight and importance of the 
duty. Christ saith, Luke viii. 18, ' Take heed how you hear.' It 
were well there were such a sound in men's ears in the times of their 
approaches to God ; some to cry to them, ' Oh, take heed how you hear/ 
It is good to be ' swift to hear,' but not to be rash and inconsiderate. 
Do not make such haste as to forget to take God along with you. You 
must begin duties with duties. 1 Special duties require a special setting 
apart of the heart for God, but all require something. Inconsiderate 
addresses are always fruitless. We come on, and go off, and there is 
all. We do not come with expectation, and go without satisfaction. 
Well, then, come with more advised care when you come to wait upon 

1 ' Iter ad pietatem est intra pietatem. ' 


God ; look to your feet, and come prepared. Let me speak one word 
by way of caution, and another by way of direction. 

1. By way of caution. (1.) Do not exclude God out of your pre 
parations. Usually men mistake in this matter, and hope by their 
own care to work themselves into a fitness of spirit. Preparation 
consisteth much in laying aside evil frames ; and before you lay aside 
other evil frames, lay aside self-confidence : Prov. xvi. 1, ' The pre 
parations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from 
the Lord ; ' the very dispositions and motions of the spirit are from 
him. It is a wrong to that text to expound it so as if the preparation 
were from man and the success from God ; both are from the Lord. 
God's children have entered comfortably upon duties, when they have 
seen God in their preparations : Ps. Ixxi. 16, ' I will go forth in the 
strength of God;' that is, to the duty of praise, as is clear in the 
context. (2.) Though you cannot get your hearts into such a frame 
as you do desire, trust God : ' Faith is the evidence of things not 
seen/ Heb. xi. 1 ; and that help which is absent to sense and feeling 
may be present to faith. A bell may be long in rising, but it ringeth 
loud when it is once up. You do not know how God may come in. 
The eunuch read, and understood not, and God sent him an in 
terpreter, Acts viii. When you begin duty you are dead and indis 
posed ; but you do not know with what sensible approaches of his 
grace and power he may visit you ere it be over. It is not good to 
neglect duty out of discouragements ; this were to commit one sin to 
excuse another : ' Say not, I am a child/ Jer. i. 6 : 'I am slow of 
lips/ ' Who made the mouth ? ' Exod. iv. 10, 11. 

2. By way of direction. I cannot go out into all the severals of 
preparation, how the heart must be purged, faith exercised, repentance 
renewed, wants and weaknesses reviewed, God's glory considered, the 
nature^ grounds, and ends of the ordinances weighed in our thoughts. 
Only, in the general, so much preparation there must be as will 
make the heart reverent. God will be served with a joy mixed with 
trembling : the heart is never right in worship till it be possessed 
with an awe of God : ' How dreadful is this place ! ' Gen. xxviii. 17. 
And again, such preparation as will settle the bent of the spirit 
heavenward. It is said somewhere, ' They set themselves to seek the 
Lord ; ^ and David saith, Ps. Ivii. 7, ' My heart is fixed, my heart is 
fixed ; ' that is, composed to a heavenly and holy frame. And again, 
such preparation as will make you come humble and hungry. Grace 
is^usually given to the desiring soul : ' He hath filled the hungry 
with good things/ Luke i. 53. Again, such as erecteth and raiseth 
the heart into a posture of expectation. It is often said, ' Be it to 
thee according to thy faith.' They that look for nothing find nothing ; 
Uhnst s greater things are for those that believe, John i. 50. 

Obs. ^ 2. Christian preparation consists most in laying aside and dis 
possessing evil frames. Weeds must be rooted out before the ground 
is fit to receive the seed : < Plough up your fallow ground, and sow not 
among thorns/ Jer. iv. 3. There is an unsuitableness between a filthy 
spirit and the pure holy word ; and therefore they that will not leave 
their accustomed sins are unfit hearers. The matter must be pre 
pared ere it can receive the form. Some translate Paul's 


eavrbv, I Cor. xi. 28, ' Let him purge himself/ get away his dross and 
corruption. All this showeth the need of renewing repentance before 
the hearing the word ; that sin being dispossessed, there may be 
room for the entrance of grace. Noxious weeds are apt to grow 
again in the best minds ; therefore, as the leper under the law was 
still to keep his hair shaven, Lev. xiv., so should we cut and shave, 
that though the roots of sin remain, yet they may not grow and 
sprout. There is an extraordinary vanity in some men, that will lay 
aside their sins before some solemn duties, but with a purpose to 
return to the folly of them ; as they fable the serpent layeth aside his 
poison when he goeth to drink. They say to their lusts as Abraham 
to his servants, ' Tarry you here, for I must go yonder and worship ; 
I will come again to you/ Gen. xxii. 5. They do not take an ever 
lasting farewell of their sins. But, however, they are wiser than those 
that come reeking from their sins into God's presence : this is to dare 
him to his face. The Jews are chidden for praying with their 
* hands full of blood/ Isa. i. 15. They came boldly, before they had 
been humbled for their oppression : ' If her father had spat in her face, 
should she not be ashamed seven days?' Num. xii. 14. After great 
rebellions there should be a solemn humbling and purging. What 
can men that come in their sins expect from God ? Their state con- 
futeth their worship. God will have nothing to do with them, and 
he marvelleth they should have anything to do with him. He hath 
nothing to do with them : Job viii. 20, ' He will not help the evil 
doers ;' in the original, ' He will not take the wicked by the hand;' 
and he wondereth you should have anything to do with him : ' What 
hast thou to do to take my words into thy mouth?' Ps. 1. 16. 

Obs. 3. From the word laying aside, aTroOepevoi. Put it off as a 
rotten and filthy garment. Sin must be left with an utter detestation : 
Isa. xxx. 22, ' Thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth ; 
thou shalt say, Get ye hence/ Sin is often expressed by abomination ; 
it is so to God, it should be so to men. Faint resistance argueth 
some inclination of the mind to it. Here affections should be drawn 
out to their height ; grief should become contrition, anger should 
be heightened into rage and indignation, and shame should be 
turned into confusion ; no displeasure can be strong and keen enough 
for sin. 

Obs. 4. From that all. We must not lay aside sin in part only, 
but all sin. So in Peter, the particle is universal, iraa-av /carclav, 1 
Peter ii. 1, ' all malice : ' and David saith, ' I hate every false way/ Ps. 
cxix. True hatred is ek ra yevrj^ to the whole kind. When we 
hate sin as sin, we hate all sin. The heart is most sincere when the 
hatred is general. The least sin is dangerous, and in its own nature 
deadly and destructive. Caesar was stabbed with bodkins. We read 
of some that have been devoured of wild beasts, lions and bears ; but 
of others that have been eaten up of vermin, mice, or lice. Pope 
Adrian was choked with a gnat. The least sins may undo you. You 
know what Christ speaketh of a little leaven. Do not neglect the 
least sins, or excuse yourselves in any Rimmon. Carry out yourselves 
against all known sins, and pray as he, Job xxxiv. 32, ' That which 

1 Arist. Khet. in Pass. od. 


I see not, teach thou me ; if I have done iniquity, I will do so no 

Obs. 5. From that word fiWiiness. Sin is filthiness ; it snllieth the 
glory and beauty of the soul, defaceth the image of God. This 
expression is often used, ' Filthiness of flesh and spirit/ 2 Cor. vii. 
1, where not only gross wickedness, such as proceedeth from fleshly 
and brutish lusts, is called filthiness, but such as is more spiritual, 
unbelief, heresy, or misbelief, &c., nay, original corruption is called 
so : Job xiv. 4, ' Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? ' 
so Job xv. 14, ' How can man be clean ? ' Nay, things glorious in 
the eyes of men. Duties they are called dung, because of the iniquity 
that is found in them : Mai. ii. 3, * I will spread dung upon your 
faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts/ So it was in God's eyes. 
The Spirit of God everywhere useth comparisons taken from things 
that are most odious, that our hearts may be wrought into the greater 
detestation of sin. Certainly they are much mistaken that think sin 
an ornament, when the Spirit of God calleth it dung and excrement. 
But more especially I find three sins called filthiness in scripture : 
(1.) Covetousness, because it debaseth the spirit of man, and maketh 
him stoop to such indecencies as are beneath humanity ; so it is 
said, ' filthy lucre/ 1 Peter v. 2. (2.) Lust, which in scripture 
dialect is called filthiness, or the sin of unclearmess, 1 Thes. iv. 7, 
because it maketh a man to subject or submit his desires to the 
beasts' happiness, which is sensual pleasures. (3.) In this place, 
anger and malice is called filthiness. We please ourselves in it, but 
it is but filthiness ; it is brutish to yield to our rage and the turbulent 
agitation of our spirits, and not to be able to withstand a provocation ; 
it is worse than poison in toads or asps, or what may be conceived to 
be most filthy in the creatures ; poison in them doth hurt others, it 
cannot hurt themselves ; anger may not hurt others, it cannot choose but 
hurt us. Well, then, all that hath been said is an engagement to us 
to resist sin, to detest it as a defilement ; it will darken the glory of 
our natures. There are some ' spots that are not as the spots of God's 
children/ Deut. xxxii. 5. Oh ! let us get rid of these ' filthy garments/ 
Zech. iii. 4-6, and desire change of raiment, the righteousness of 
Christ. Ay ! but there are some lesser sins that are spots too : ' The 
garment spotted by the flesh/ Jude 23 ; unseemly words are called 
'filthiness/ Eph. v. 4, and duties ' dung.' 

Obs. 6. From that superfluity of wickedness. That there is abun 
dance of wickedness to be purged out of the heart of man. Such a ful 
ness as runneth over, a deluge of sin : Gen. vi. 5, ' All the imagina 
tions of the heart are evil, only evil, and that continually ; ' it runneth 
out into every thought, into every desire, into every purpose. As 
there is saltness in every drop of the sea, and bitterness in every 
branch of wormwood, so sin in everything that is framed within the 
soul. Whatever an unclean person touched, though it were holy flesh, 
it was unclean ; so all our actions are poisoned with it. Dan. ix. 27, 
we read of ' the overspreading of abominations ; ' and David saith, 
Ps. xiv., * They are all become vile, and gone out of the way ; ' all, 
and all over. In the understanding there are filthy thoughts and 
purposes ; there sin beginneth : fish stink first at the head. In the 


will filthy motions ; the affections mingle with filthy objects. The 
memory, that should be like the ark, the chest of the law, retaineth, 
like the grate of a sink, nothing but mud and filthiness. The con 
science is defiled and stained with the impurities of our lives ; the 
members are but instruments of filthiness. A rolling eye provoketh 
a wanton fancy, and stirreth up unclean glances : 2 Peter ii. 14, 

* Having eyes full of adultery ; ' in the original, //-ot^aX/So?, ' full of the 
adulteress/ The tongue bewrayeth the rottenness of the heart in 
filthy speaking. Oh ! what cause we have to bless God that there is 
'a fountain opened for uncleanness,' Zech. xiii. 1. Certainly conver 
sion is not an easy work, there is such a mass of corruption to be laid 

Obs. 7. From that receive. Our duty in hearing the word is to 
receive it. See places in the exposition. In the word there is the 
hand of God's bounty, reaching out comfort and counsel to us ; and 
there must be the hand of faith to receive it. In receiving there is an 
act of the understanding, in apprehending the truth and musing upon 
it. So Christ saith, Luke ix. 44, ' Let these sayings sink down into 
your minds/ Let them not float in the fancy, but enter upon the 
heart, as Solomon speaketh of wisdom's entering into the heart, Prov. 
ii. 10. And there is an act of faith, the crediting and believing faculty 
is stirred up to entertain it. So the apostle saith, ' mingled with faith 
in the hearing/ Heb. iv. 2, that is, mingled with our heart, or closely 
applied to our hearts. And there is an act of the will and affections 
to embrace and lodge it in the soul, which is called somewhere ' a 
receiving the truth in love/ when we make room for it, that carnal 
affections and prejudices may not vomit and throw it up again. Christ 
complaineth somewhere that ' his word had no place in them,' ov x^P av 
%i ev, it cannot find any room, or be safely lodged in you ; but, 
like a hot morsel or queasy bit, it was soon given up again. 

Obs. 8. The word must be received with all meekness. Christ was 
anointed to preach glad tidings to the meek, Isa. Ixi. 1. They have 
most right in the gospel. The main business will be to show what 
this meekness is. Consider its opposites. Since the fall graces are best 
known by their contraries. It excludeth three things: (1.) A wrath 
ful fierceness, by which men rise in a rage against the word. When 
they are admonished, they revile. Deep conviction provoketh many 
times fierce opposition: Jer. vi. 10, ' The word of the Lord is to them a 
reproach/ They think the minister raileth when he doth but discover 
their guilt to them. (2.) A proud stubbornness, when men are resolved 
to hold their own ; and though the premises fall before the word, yet 
they maintain the conclusion : Jer. ii. 25, ' Kefrain thy foot from bare 
ness, and thy throat from thirst ; ' that is, why will you trot to Egypt 
for help, you will get nothing but bareness and thirst ; but they said, 

* Strangers have we loved, and them will we follow ; ' that is, Say 
what thou wilt, we will take our own way and course. So Jer. xliv. 
16, 17, ' We will not hearken to thee, but will certainly do whatsoever 
goeth out of our own mouth/ Men scorn to strike sail before the 
truth, and though they cannot maintain an opposition, yet they will 
continue it. (3.) A contentious wrangling, which is found in men of an 
unsober wit, that scorn to captivate the pride of reason, and therefore 


stick to every shift. The psalmist saith, Ps. xxv. 8, 9, * He will teach 
sinners the way. The meek he will guide in judgment ; the meek he 
will teach his way.' Of all sinners, God taketh the meek sinner for 
his scholar. There is difficulty enough in the scriptures to harden 
the obstinate. Camero 1 observeth that the scriptures are so penned 
that they that have a mind to know may know ; and they that have a 
mind to wrangle may take occasion enough of offence, and justly 
perish by the rebellion of their own reason ; for, saith he, God never 
meant to satisfy liominibm prcefracti mgenii, men of a stubborn and 
perverse wit. And Tertullian2 had observed the same long before 
him : that God had so disposed the scriptures, that they that will not 
be satisfied might be hardened. Certain we are that our Saviour 
Christ saith, Mark iv. 11, 12, that ' these things are done in parables, 
that seeing they might not see, nor perceive and understand ;' that is, 
for a just punishment of wilful blindness and hardness, that those that 
would not see might not see. So elsewhere our Lord saith, that ' he 
that will do the will of God shall know what doctrine is of God/ John 
vii. 17. When the heart is meekened to obey a truth, the mind is 
soon opened to conceive of it. 

Secondly, My next work is to show what it includeth. (1.) Humi 
lity and brokenness of spirit. There must be insection before insition, 
meekness before ingrafting. Gospel revivings are for the contrite 
heart, Isa. Ivii. 15. The broken heart is not only a tamed heart, but a 
tender heart, and then the least touch of the word is felt : ' Those 
that tremble at my word/ Isa. Ixvi. 2. (2.) Teachableness and tract- 
ableness of spirit. There is an ingenuous as well as a culpable facility : 
' The wisdom that is from above is gentle, and easy to be entreated/ 
James iii. 17. It is good to get a tractable frame. The servants of 
God come with a mind to obey ; they do but wait for the discovery 
of their duty : Acts x. 33, ' We are all here present before God, to 
hear the things that are commanded thee of God/ They came not 
with a mind to dispute, but practise. Oh ! consider, perverse opposi 
tion will be your own ruin. It is said, Luke vii. 30, ' They rejected 
the counsel of God/ but it was ' against themselves ;' that is, to their 
own loss. So Acts xiii. 46, ' Ye put it from you, and judge yourselves 
unworthy of eternal life/ Disputing against the word, it is a judging 
yourselves ; it is as if, in effect, you should say, I care not for God, 
nor all the tenders of grace and glory that he maketh to me. 

Obs. 9. The word must not only be apprehended by us, but planted 
in us. It is God's promise : Jer. xxxi. 33, ' I will put my laws in 
their hearts, and write them in their inward parts ; ' that is, he will 
enlighten our minds to the understanding of his will, and frame our 
hearts and affections to the obedience of it, so that we shall not only 
know duty, but have an inclination to it, which is the true ingrafting 
of the word. Then ' the root of the matter is within us/ Job xix. 28 ; 
that is, the comfort of God's promises rooted in the heart. So 1 John 
iii. 9, ' His seed abideth in him ;' that is, the seed of the word planted 
in the heart. Look to it, then, that the word be ingrafted in you, that 

1 Camer, lib. de notis verbi Dei. 

2 * Non periclitor dicere ipsas scripturas ita dispositas esse, ut materiam subministra- 
rent hsereticis.' Tertid. 


it do not fall like seed on the stony ground, so as it cannot take root. 
You will know it thus: (1.) If it be ingrafted, it will be ^6709 /cap- 
7ro(t>opovijLVo$, ' a fruitful word/ Col. i. 6 ; it will spring up in your 
conversation; the 'stalk of wickedness/ Ezek. vii. 11, will not grow so 
much as the word. (2.) The graft draweth all the sap of the stock to 
itself. All your affections, purposes, cares, thoughts, will serve the word : 
Rom. vi. 17, el? ov 7rap$66rjT TVTTOV 8^0/^775. They were delivered 
over into the stamp and mould of the word that was delivered to 
them. All affections and motions of the spirit are cast into the mould 
of religion. 

Obs. 10. That the word in God's hand is an instrument to save our 
souls. It is sometimes called ' the word of truth/ at other times, ' the 
word of life ;' the one noteth the quality of it, the other the fruit of 
it. It is called ' the power of God/ Rom. i. 16, and 'the arm of the 
Lord :' Isa. liii. 1, ' Who hath believed our report? to whom is the 
arm of the Lord revealed?' By our report God's arm is conveyed 
into the soul. The use to which God hath deputed the word should 
beget a reverence to it. The gospel is a saving word ; let us not 
despise the simplicity of it. Gospel truths should not be too plain 
for our mouths, or too stale for your ears. ' I am not ashamed of the 
gospel/ saith the apostle, ' for it is the power of God to salvation.' 

Obs. 11. That the main care of a Christian should be to save his 
soul. This is propounded as an argument why we should hear the 
word ; it will save your souls. Usually our greatest care is to gratify 
the body. Solomon saith, ' All a man's labour is for the mouth ;' that 
is, to support the body in a decent state. Oh ! but consider this is but 
the worser part ; and who would trim the scabbard and let the sword 
rust ? Man is in part an angel, and in part a beast. Why should 
we please the beast in us, rather than the angel ? In short, your 
greatest fear should be for the soul, and your greatest care should be 
for the soul. Your greatest fear : Mat. x. 28, ' Fear not them that 
can destroy the body, but fear him that can cast both body and soul 
into hell fire.' There is a double argument. The body is but the 
worser part, and the body is alone ; but on the other side, the soul is 
the more noble part, and the state of the body dependeth upon the 
well or ill being of the soul : he is ' able to cast both soul and body/ 
&c., and therefore it is the greatest imprudence in the world, out of a 
fear of the body, to betray the soul. So your greatest care, riches and 
splendour in the world, these are the conveniences of the body, and 
what good will they do you, when you come to be laid in the cold 
silent grave ? Mat. xvi. 26, * What profit hath a man, if he win the 
whole world, and lose his own soul ? ' It is but a sorry exchange 
that, to hazard the eternal welfare of the soul for a short fruition of 
the world. So Job xxvii. 8, ' What is the hope of the hypocrite, 
though he hath gained, when God taketh his soul ?' There is many 
a carnal man that pursueth the world with a fruitless and vain 
attempt ; they ' rise early, go to bed late, eat the bread of sorrows ; ' 
yet all will not do. But suppose they have gained and taken the prey 
in hunting, yet what will it profit him when body and soul must 
part, and though the body be decked, yet the soul must go into misery 
and darkness, without any furniture and provision for another life ? 


what hope will his gain minister to him ? Oh ! that we were wise to 
consider these things, that we would make it our work to provide for 
the soul, to clothe the soul for another world, that we would wait upon 
God in the word, that our souls may be furnished with every spiritual 
and heavenly excellency, that we may not be ' found naked,' saitli the 
apostle, 2 Cor. v. 3. 

Obs. 12. That they that have received the word must receive it again : 
though it were ingrafted in them, yet receive it that it may save your 
souls. God hath deputed it to be a means not only of regeneration, 
but salvation ; and therefore, till we come to heaven, we must use this 
help. They that live above ordinances, do not live at all, spiritually, 
graciously. Painted fire needeth no fuel. The word, though it be 
an immortal seed, yet needeth constant care and watering. But of 
this before. 

Ver. 22. But be ye doers of the ivord, and not hearers only, deceiv 
ing your own selves. 

This verse catcheth hold of the heel of the former. He had spoken 
of the fruit of the word, the salvation of the soul ; that it may be 
obtained, he showeth that we should not only hear, but practise. 

But be ye doers of the word; that is, real observers. There is a 
sentence of Paul that, for sound, is like this, but is indeed quite to 
another sense : Eom. ii. 13, ' For not the hearers of the law, but the 
doers, are just before God.' Doer is there taken for one that satisfieth 
the law, and fulfilleth it in every tittle ; for the apostle's drift is to 
prove that the Jews, notwithstanding their privilege of having the 
oracles of God committed to them, were never a whit the nearer j usti- 
fication before God. But here, by doers are implied those that receive 
the work of the word into their hearts, and express the effect of it in 
their lives. There are three things which make a man a TTO^TT)?, a 
doer of the word faith, love, and obedience. 

And not hearers only. Some neither hear nor do ; others hear, but 
they rest in it. Therefore the apostle doth not dissuade from hearing ; 
* Hear/ saith he, but ' not only.' 

Deceiving, TrapaXoyL&fjievoi. The word is a term of art : it implieth 
a sophistical argument or syllogism, which hath an appearance or 
probability of truth, but is false in matter or form ; and is put by the 
apostle to imply those false discourses which are in the consciences of 
men. Paul useth the same word to imply that deceit which men 
impose upon others by colourable persuasions : Col. ii. 4, ' Let no 
man TrapdXoyify, deceive you with enticing words.' 

Your own selves. The argument receiveth force from these words. 
If a man would baffle other men, he would not put a paralogism upon 
himself, deceive himself in a matter of so great consequence. Or 
else it may be a monition ; you deceive yourselves, but you cannot 
deceive God. 

The notes are : 

Obs. l.^That hearing is good, but should not be rested in. The 
apostle saith, ' Be not hearers only.' Many go from sermon to sermon, 
hear much, but do not digest it in their thoughts. The Jews were much 
in turning over the leaves of 'the scriptures, but did not weigh the matter 
of them: therefore I suppose our Saviour reproveth them, John v/39, 


' You search the scriptures.' That epevvare there seemeth to he 
indicative, rather than imperative, especially since it followeth, ' for 
in them ye think to have eternal life.' They thought it was enough 
to be busy in the letter of the scripture, and that bare reading would 
yield them eternal life : so do others rest in hearing. They that stay 
in the means are like a foolish workman, that contenteth himself with 
the having of tools. It is a sad description of some foolish women, 
2 Tim. iii. 7, that they are ' ever learning, and never coming to the 
knowledge of the truth/ Much hearing will increase our judgment, 
if there be not a lively impression upon our hearts. The heart of 
man is so sottish, that they content themselves with the bare pre 
sence of the ordinances in their place ; it is satisfaction enough that 
they * have aLevite to their priest/ Judges xvii. 13. Others content 
themselves with their bare presence at the ordinances, though they 
do not feel the power of them. 

01)s. 2. That the doers of the word are the best hearers. That is 
good when we hear things that are to be done, and do things that are 
to be heard. That knowledge is best which is most practical, and 
that hearing is best which endeth in practice. David saith, Ps. cxix. 
105, ' Thy word is a lantern to my feet, and a light to my steps.' 
That is light indeed which directeth you in your paths and ways. 
Mat. vii. 24, ' He that heareth my words, and doeth them, I will liken 
him to a wise builder.' That is wisdom, to come to the word so as we 
may go away the better. Divers hearers propound other ends. Some 
come to the word that they may judge it ; the pulpit, which is God's 
tribunal, is their bar ; they come hither to sit judges of men's gifts 
and parts : James iv. 11, ' Thou art not a doer of the law, but a 
judge.' Others come to hear pleasing things, to delight themselves in 
the elegancy of speech, rarity of conceits, what is finely couched and 
ordered, not what is proper to their case. This is not an act of religion 
so much as curiosity, for they coine to a sermon with the same mind 
they would to a comedy or tragedy ; the utmost that can be gained 
from them is commendation and praise : Ezek. xxxiii. 32, ' Thou art 
to them as a lovely song, or one that hath a pleasant voice ; but they 
hear thy words, and do them not:' they were taken with the tinkling 
and tunableness of the expressions, but did not regard the heavenly 
matter. So, that fond woman suddenly breaketh out into a commen 
dation of our Lord, but, it seemeth, regarded the person more than the 
doctrine : Luke xi. 27, ' Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the 
paps that gave thee suck ; ' for which our Saviour correcteth her in the 
next verse, ' Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, 
and keep it.' You are mistaken ; the end of preaching is not to exalt 
men, but God. You will say An excellent sermon 1 But what do you 
gain by it ? The hearer's life is the preacher's best commendation, 2 
Cor. iii. 1 , 2. They that praise the man but do not practise the 
matter, are like those that taste wines that they may commend them, 
not buy them. Others come that they may better their parts, and 
increase their knowledge. Every one desireth to know more than 
another, to set up themselves ; they do so much excel others as they 
excel them in knowledge : and therefore we are all for notions and 
head-light, little for that wisdom that ' entereth upon the heart/ 


Prov. ii. 10, and serveth to better the life ; like children in the 
rickets, that have big heads but weak joints : this is the disease of 
this age. There is a great deal of curious knowledge, airy notions, 
but practical saving truths are antiquated and out of date. Seneca 
observed of the philosophers, that when they grew more learned they 
were less moral. 1 And generally we find now a great decay of zeal, 
with the growth of notion and knowledge, as if the waters of the 
sanctuary had put out the fire of the sanctuary, and men could not be 
at the same time learned and holy. Others hear that they may say 
they have heard ; conscience would not be pacified without some 
worship : * They come as my people use to do/ Ezek. xxxiii. 31 ; that 
is, according to the fashion of the age. Duties by many are used as a 
sleepy sop to allay the rage of conscience. 

The true use of ordinances is to come that we may profit. Usually 
men speed according to their aim and expectation : ' Desire the sincere 
milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby/ 1 Peter ii. 2. So David 
professeth his aim, Ps. cxix. 11, ' Thy word have I hid in my heart, 
that I might not sin against thee/ The mind, like the ark, should be 
the chest of the law, that we may know what to do in every case, and 
that truths may be always present with us, as Christians find it a 
great advantage to have truths ready and present, to talk with them 
upon all occasions, Prov. vi. 21, 22. Oh! it is sweet when we and 
our reins can confer together, Ps. xvi. 7. 

If you cannot find present profit in what you hear, consider how it 
may be useful k for you to the future. Things I confess are not so 
acceptable when they do not reach the present case ; but they have 
their season, and if come to you, you may bless G-od that ever you 
were acquainted with them : Isa. xlii. 23, ' Who will hearken and 
hear for the time to come ? ' You may be under terrors, and under 
miseries, and then one of these truths will be exceeding refreshing ; or 
you may be liable to such or such snares when you come to be engaged 
in the world, or versed in such employments, therefore treasure up 
every truth of God : provision argueth wisdom ; it may concern you 
in time. Jer. x. 11, the prophet teacheth them how they should 
defend their religion in Babylon; therefore that sentence is in Chaldee, 
that he might put words in their mouths, against they came to con 
verse with the Chaldeans : ' Thus shall ye say to them, The gods that 
made not the heavens and the earth, they shall perish from the earth/ 
It is good to provide for Babylon whiles we are in Sion, and not to 
reject truths as not pertinent to our case, but to reserve them for 
future use and profit. 

Obs. 3. From that irapaXoyitpjjbevoL Do not cheat yourselves with 
a fallacy or false argument. Observe, that self-deceit is founded in 
some false argumentation or reasoning. Conscience supplieth three 
offices of a rule, a witness, and a judge ; and so accordingly the act 
of conscience is threefold. There is a-vvrrjprjtw, or a right apprehen 
sion ^of the principles of religion ; so conscience is a rule : there is 
ffwe&qo-ts, a sense of our actions compared with the rule or known 
will of God, or a testimony concerning the proportion or disproportion 
that our actions bear with the word : then, lastly, there is tcpum, or 

1 ' Boni esse desierunt simul ac docti evaserint.' Seneca. 


judgment, by which a man applieth to himself those rules of Chris 
tianity which concern his fact or state. All these acts of conscience 
may be reduced into a syllogism or argument. As for instance : he 
that is wholly carnal hath no interest in Christ ; there is the first act, 
knowledge : but I am wholly carnal ; there is the second act, con 
science : therefore I have no interest in Christ ; there is the third act, 
judgment. The first act of conscience maketh the proposition, the 
second the assumption, the third the conclusion. Now all self-deceit 
is in one of these ; propositions. Sometimes conscience is out as a law in 
the very principles ; sometimes as a witness in the assumption ; some 
times as a judge it suspendeth and hideth the conclusion. Sometimes, 
I say, it faileth as a law, by making an erroneous principle to be the 
bottom of a strong hope ; as here, the principle is naught : ' They that 
hear the word shall be saved.' At other times it erreth in the appli 
cation of the rule ; as 1 John i. 6, ' If we say that we have fellowship 
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth ;' so 1 
John ii. 4. The principle was right, ' They that have communion with 
God are happy ;' but ' We have communion with God/ that was false, 
because they walked in darkness. So as a judge it doth not pass sen 
tence, but out of self-love forbeareth to judge of the quality of the 
action or state, that the soul may not be affrightened with the danger 
of it. You see the deceit ; how shall we help it ? I answer severally 
to all these acts and parts of conscience : 

First, That you may build upon right principles: (1.) It is good 
to ' hide the word in our hearts/ and to store the soul with sound 
knowledge, and that will always rise up against vain hopes ; as he that 
would get weeds destroyed must plant the ground with contrary seeds. 
When there is much knowledge, your own reins will chasten you ; 
and those sound principles will be talking to you, and speaking 
by way of check and denial to your sudden and rash presumptions : 
' Bind the law to thine heart, and when thou wakest it shall talk to 
thee/ Prov. vi. 22. (2.) In the witnessing of conscience observe the 
reason of it, and let the principle be always in sight : do not credit a 
single testimony without a clear rule or positive ground. . A corrupt 
conscience usually giveth in a bare report, because the grounds are 
so slender and insufficient that they come least in sight ; for upon a 
trial conscience would be ashamed of them : as, for instance, this is 
the report of conscience, Sure I am in a good condition : now ask 
why ? and the conscience will be ashamed of the paralogism in the 
text I hear the word, make much of good ministers, &c. And yet 
this is the secret and inward thought of most men, upon which they 
build all their hopes ; whereas true grounds are open and clear, and 
are urged together with the report, and so beget a firm and steady 
confidence in the spirit; as 1 John ii. 3, ' Hereby we are sure we know 
him/ that is, enjoy him, have communion with him ; for knowing 
there is knowing him by sense and experience. Now whence did this 
confidence arise ? You shall see from an open and clear ground : We 
are sure (saith he) because 'We keep his commandments/ (3.) The 
grounds upon which conscience goeth should be full and positive. 
There are three sorts of marks laid down in scripture : some are only 
exclusive, others inclusive : and between these a middle sort of marks, 


which I may call positive. For exclusive marks, their intent is to deceive 
<i false hope, or to shut out bold pretenders, by showing them how far 
they come short of an interest in Christ; and usually they are taken from 
a necessary common work, as hearing the word, praying in secret, 
attendance upon the ordinances ; he that doth not these things is cer 
tainly none of God's : but in case he doth them, he cannot conclude his 
estate to be gracious. It is the paralogism mentioned in the text, to reason 
from negative marks and the common works of Christianity. It is 
true, all go not so far ; therefore Athanasius wished utinam omnes 
essent liypocritcv would to God that all were hypocrites, and could un 
dergo the trial of these exclusive marks. All are not diligent hearers ; 
but, however, it is not safe to be hearers only. But, then, there are other 
marks which are inclusive, which are laid down to show the measures and 
degrees of grace, and are rather intended for comfort than conviction, 
which, if they are found in us, we are safe, and in the state of grace ; 
but if not, we cannot conclude a nullity of grace. Thus faith is often 
described by such effects as are proper to the radiancy and eminent 
degree of it, and promises are made to such or such raised operations 
of other graces. The use of these notes is to comfort, or to convince 
of want of growth. But, again, there is a middle sort of marks 
between both these, which I call positive ; and they are such as are 
always and only found in a heart truly gracious, because they are 
such as necessarily infer the inhabitation of the Spirit, and are there 
where grace is at the lowest. Such the apostle calleth ra e^o^em 
T>}? crwTTjpias, Heb. vi. 9, ' Things that accompany salvation ,' or 
which necessarily have salvation in them, the sure symptoms of a 
blessed estate. He had spoken before of a common work, enlightening, 
and slight tastes and feelings, ver. 4-6. But, saith he, ' We are per 
suaded better things of you,' and that you have those necessary evidences 
to which salvation is infallibly annexed. Now, these must be by great 
care collected out of the word, that we may be sure the foundation and 
principle is right. 

Secondly, That conscience as a witness may not fail you, take these 
rules : (1.) Note the natural and first report of it ere art hath passed 
upon it. Sudden and indeliberate checks at the word, or in prayer, 
being the immediate births of conscience, have the less of deceit in 
them. I have observed that the deceitfulness that is in a wicked man'fe 
heart is not so much in the testimony itself of his conscience, as in 
the many shifts and evasions he useth to avoid the sense of it. Every 
sinner's heart doth reproach and condemn him ; but all their art is 
how to choke this testimony, or slight it. You know the apostle John 
referreth the whole decision of all doubts concerning our estate to con 
science, 1 John iii. 20, 21. For certainly the first voice of conscience 
is genuine and unfeigned ; for it being privy to all our actions, cannot 
but give a testimony concerning them ; only we elude it. And there 
fore let wicked men pretend what peace they will, their consciences 
witness rightly to them ; and were it not for those sleights by which 
they put it off, they might soon discern their estate. The apostle 
saith, they are ' all their lifetime subject to bondage/ Heb. ii. 15. 
They have a wound and torment within them, which is not always 
felt, but soon awakened, if they were true to themselves. The arti- 


ficial and second report of conscience is deceitful and partial, when 
it hath been flattered or choked with some carnal sophisms and 
principles. But the first and native report, which of a sudden pinch- 
eth like a stitch in the side, is true and faithful. (2.) Wait upon the 
word. One main use of it is to help conscience in witnessing, and 
to bring us and our hearts acquainted with one another : Heb. iv. 
12, ' The word is quick and powerful, a discerner of the thoughts 
and intents of the heart;' it revealeth all those plots and dis 
guises by which we would hide our actions from our own privity 
and conscience. He saith there, it ' divideth between soul and spirit.' 
The soul cleaveth to sin, and the spirit, or mind, plotteth pretences 
to hide it ; but the word discovereth all this self-deceiving sophistry. 
So 1 Cor. xiv. 25, ' The secrets of his heart are made manifest : ' that 
is, to himself, by the conviction of the word. (3.) Ascite conscience, 
and call it often into the presence of God : 1 Peter iii. 21, ' The 
answer of a good conscience towards God.' Will it witness thus to the 
all-seeing God ? When Peter's sincerity was questioned he appeal eth to 
Christ's omnisciency : John xxi. 17, 'Lord, thou knowest all things, 
and thou knowest that I love thee/ Can you appeal to God's omni 
sciency, and assure your hearts before him ? So 1 John iii. 20, ' If 
our hearts condemn us, God is greater than conscience, and knoweth 
all things.' God's omnisciency is there mentioned, because that is the 
solemn attribute to which conscience appealeth in all her verdicts, 
which are the more valid when they can be avowed before the God 
that knoweth all things. 

Thirdly, That conscience may do its office as a judge, you must do 
this : (1.) When conscience is silent, suspect it ; it is naught ; we are 
careless, and our heart is grown senseless and stupid with pleasures. 
A dead sea is worse than a raging sea. It is not a calm this, but a 
death. A tender conscience is always witnessing ; and therefore, when 
it never saith, What have I done ? it is a sign it is seared. Tkere is 
a continual parley between a godly man and his conscience ; it is either 
suggesting a duty, or humbling for defects ; it is their daily exercise 
to judge themselves. As God after every day's work reviewed it, and 
'saw that it was good,' Gen. i, so they review each day, and judge of 
the actions of it. (2.) If conscience do not speak to you, you must 
speak to conscience. David biddeth insolent men, Ps. iv. 4, to ' com 
mune with their hearts, and be still.' Take time to parley, and speak 
with yourselves. The prophet complaineth, Jer. viii. 6, ' No man 
asketh himself, What have I done ? ' There should be a time to ask 
questions of our own souls. (3.) Upon every doubt bring things to 
some issue and certainty. Conscience will sometimes lisp out half a 
word. Draw it to a full conviction. Nothing maketh the work of 
grace so doubtful and litigious as this, that Christians content them 
selves with semi- persuasions, and do not get the case fully cleared one 
way or another. The Spirit delighteth in a full and plenary convic 
tion : John xvi. 8, eXeyfet, ' He shall convince the world of sin, of 
righteousness, and of judgment.' Conviction is a term of art ; it is 
done when things are laid down so clearly that we see it is impossible 
it should be otherwise. 1 Now this the Spirit doth, whether it be in a 

1 ' Td /XT? dwarov fiXXws Zx. eiv > ^' forus u>s ^ue?s X^o/ier,' &c. Arist. Org. 


state of sin or righteousness. God saith he would deal with his 
people so roundly, ' that they might remember, and not open their 
mouth any more for shame/ Ezek. xvi. 63 ; that is, leave them so 
convinced, that they might not have a word to say but ' Unclean ! un 
clean ! ' It is good upon every doubt to follow it so close that it may 
be brought to a certain and determinate issue. 

Obs. 4. That men are easily deceived into a good opinion of them 
selves by their bare hearing. We are apt to pitch upon the good that is 
in any action, and not to consider the evil of it : I am a hearer of the 
word, and therefore I am in a good case. Christ's similitude implieth 
that men build upon their hearing, and make it the foundation of their 
hopes, Mat. vii. 24, to the end. Watch over this deceit ; such a 
weighty structure should not be raised upon so sandy a foundation. 
(1.) Consider the danger of such a self-deceit : hearing without 
practice draweth the greater judgment upon you. Uriah carried 
letters to Joab, and he thought the contents were for his honour and 
preferment in the army, but it was but the message of his own destruc 
tion. We hear many sermons, and think to come and urge this to 
God ; but out of those sermons will God condemn us. (2.) Consider 
how far hypocrites may go in this matter. They may sever themselves 
from following errors, and hear the word constantly: Luke vi. 47, 
' Whosoever cometh to me,' &c. They may approve of the good way, 
and applaud it : ' Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that 
gave thee suck,' &c., Luke xi. 27, 28. They may hold out a great 
deal of glavering and false affection : Luke vi. 46, ' Why call ye me 
Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ? ' They may be en 
dowed with church gifts of prophecy and miracles, be able to talk and 
discourse savourily of the things of God, do much for the edification of 
others : ' Many will say to me in that day,' &c., Mat. vii. 22. They 
may have a vain persuasion of their faith and interest in Christ : they 
will say, ' Lord, Lord/ Mat. vii. 21. They may make some progress 
in obedience, abstain from grosser sins, and things publicly odious : 
' Herod did many things,' Mark vi. ; and Christ saith, ' Every tree that 
bringeth not forth good fruit/ &c., Mat. vii. 19. There must be some 
thing positive. There may be some external conformity ; ay ! but 
there is no effectual change made ; ' the tree is not good/ Mat. vii. 18. 
Well, therefore, outward duties with partial reformation will not serve 
the turn. (3.) Consider the easiness of deceit : Jer. xvii. 9, ' The 
heart of man is deceitful above all things ; who can find it out ? ' 
Who can trace and unravel the mystery of iniquity that is in the soul ? 
Since we lost our uprightness we have many inventions, Eccles. vii. 29, 
shifts and wiles whereby to avoid the stroke of conscience : they are 
called, Prov. xx. 27, ' the depths of the belly.' Look, as in the belly 
the inwards are folded, and rolled up within one another, so are there 
turnings and crafty devices in the heart of man. 

Yer. 23, 24, For if any be a hearer of the ivord, and not a doer, 
he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a glass : for he be- 
holdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what 
manner of man he was. 

Here James amplifieth the former reason, which was taken from 
the vanity and unprofitableness of bare hearing, by a similitude taken 
from a man looking in a glass. 


If any be a hearer of the luord and not a doer ; that is, contenteth 
himself with bare hearing, or bare knowing the word of God, and doth 
not come away with impulses of zeal, and resolutions of obedience. 

Is like a man : In the original it is dvSpl, a word proper to the 
masculine sex, and therefore some frame a criticism. The apostle 
doth not say, ' like a woman / they are more diligent and curious. 
They view themselves again and again, that they may do away every 
spot and deformity. But this is more witty than solid. The apostle 
useth av^p promiscuously for man and woman, as ver. 12, ' Blessed 
is the man that endureth temptation,' the man or woman : only the 
masculine sex is specified, as most worthy. 

That beholdeth his natural face, TO irpoa-aTrov TJ}? yevecrca)?, l the 
face of his nativity.' What is intended by that ? Some say, the face 
as God made it at its birth, that he may behold God's work in it, and 
so take occasion to condemn painting, and the artificial cerusse and 
varnish of the face ; or his natural face, upon which men bestow least 
care. In painting, there is more exactness : or natural face, as import 
ing a glance, as a man passeth by a glass, and seeth that he hath the 
face of a man, not exactly surveying the several lineaments. Others 
think the apostle hinteth the thing intended by the similitude our 
natural and original deformity represented in the words, and that he 
complicateth and foldeth up the thing signified with the expressions 
of the similitude ; but that seemeth forced. I suppose, by ' natural 
face/ he meaneth his own face, the glass representing the very face 
which nature gave him. 

He goeth his ivay, and straightway for getteth ivhat manner of man 
he was. He forgetteth the fashion of his countenance, the spots re 
presented therein, and so fitly noteth those weak impressions which 
the discoveries of the word leave upon a careless soul, who, after his 
deformity is represented, is not affected with it so as to be brought to 

The notes are these : 

01)s. 1. That the word of God is a glass. But what doth it show 
us ? I answer (1.) God and Christ : 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' We all with an 
open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed 
into the same image from glory to glory/ A glass implieth the clear 
est representation that we are capable of here upon earth. I confess 
a glass is sometimes put for a dark vision ; as 1 Cor. xiii. 12, ' Now 
we see but as in a glass, darkly ; but then we shall see face to face/ 
Then we shall see God himself : 1 John iii. 2, ' We shall see God as 
he is.' But here we have his image and reflection in the word : as 
sometimes the ' heart of flesh' is put for an earthly mind, sometimes 
for a tender heart. In opposition to ' a heart of stone,' the ' heart of 
flesh' is taken in a good sense ; but, in opposition to pure and sublime 
affections, in a bad sense. So, in opposition to the shadows of the law, 
seeing in a glass importeth a clear discerning ; but in opposition to 
* face to face/ but a low and weak conception of the essence of God. 
Oh ! study the glory of God in the word. Though you cannot exhaust 
and draw out all the divine perfections in your thoughts, yet ' your 
ear may receive a little thereof,' Job iv. 11. When we want the sun, 
we do not despise a candle. (2.) The word is a glass to show us our- 


selves ; it discovereth the hidden things 'of the heart, all the deformi 
ties of the soul : Mark iv. 22, ' There is nothing hidden that shall not 
be made manifest.' The word discovereth all things. Our sins are 
the spots which the law discovereth ; Christ's blood is the water to 
wash them off, and that is discovered in the gospel.* The law dis 
covereth sins : Kom. vii. 9, ' I was alive without the law, but when 
the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.' We think ourselves 
well and in a good case, till the law falleth upon the spirit with full 
conviction, and then we see all the spots and freckles of our souls. 
The gospel discovereth how we may do away our sins, and deck and 
attire our souls with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. 

Use. It ministereth a meditation to you. When you are at your 
glass, consider the word of God is a glass : I must look after the estate 
and complexion of my soul. Take but a part of the law and exercise 
yourself with it every day, and you will soon see the deformity of your 
own spirit : do not look in a flattering glass. We love a picture that 
is like us, rather than that which is flourished and varnished with 
more art. 

0~bs. 2. That the knowledge of formal professors is but slight and 
glancing : like a man beholding his face in a glass, or like the glaring 
of a sunbeam upon a wave, it rusheth into the thoughts, and it is 
gone. The beast under the law that did not chew the cud was unclean. 
There is much in meditation and a constant light. Some men, if 
they should be considerate, would undo all their false hopes ; therefore, 
usually, carnal men's thoughts are but slight and trivial ; they know 
things, but are loath to let their thoughts pause upon them : Luke ii. 5 
it is said, 4 Mary pondered all these sayings.' A slippery, vain, incon 
sistent mind will be hardly held to truths. When we apprehend a 
thing, curiosity being satisfied, we begin to loathe it ; and, therefore, it is 
an hard matter to agitate the thoughts again to that point to which they 
have once arrived ; the first apprehension doth, as it were, deflower it. 
Obs. 3. Vain men go from the ordinances just as they came to 
them : he beholdeth, and goeth away. Like the beasts in Noah's ark, 
they went in unclean, and came out unclean. So many come un- 
humbled and unmortified, and so they go away. Oh ! let it never be 
said of you. 

Ols. 4. Slight apprehensions make a very weak impression : things 
work when the thoughts are serious and ponderous : musing maketh 
the fire burn, Ps. xxxix. 3. When God's arrows stick fast, they 
make us roar to the purpose, Job vi. 4. And David, when he would 
express his deep affection, he saith, Ps. li. 3, ' My sin is ever before 
me: 'jit would not out of his thoughts. Well, then, a weak impres 
sion is an argument of a slight apprehension : thoughts always follow 
affection. They that ' heal their wounds slightly,' Jer. vi. 14, show 
that they were never soundly touched and pricked at heart. Men 
thoroughly affected say I shall remember such a sermon all my life 
time. David saith, Ps. cxix. 93, * I will never forget thy precepts ; 
for by them thou hast quickened me.' Others let good things slip, 
because they never felt the power of them. 

1 'Maculae sunt peccata qua ostendit lex ; aqua est sanguie Christ! quem ostendit 


Ver. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and 
continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the 
work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 

In this verse you have the third reason why they should hear the 
word so as to practise it. The first was, they would but deceive 
themselves, and go away with a vain mistake. The next, that bare 
hearing would be of little benefit ; no more than for a man to glance 
his eye upon a glass, and to have a slight view of his countenance. 
And now, because due and right hearing will end in blessedness. This 
verse is full of matter. I shall drop it out as the order of the words 
yieldeth it. 

But whoso looketh, 6 Be irapaKvtyas : a metaphor taken from those 
that do not only glance upon a thing, but bend their body towards it, 
that they may pierce it with their eyes, and narrowly pry into it. 
The same word is used for the stooping down of the disciples to look 
into Christ's sepulchre, Luke xxiv. 12, and John xx. 4, 5, and that 
narrow search which the angels use to find out the mysteries of sal 
vation : 1 Peter i. 12, ' Which things the angels desire to look into ; ' 
where there is a plain allusion to the cherubim whose faces were 
bowed down towards the ark, as desirous to see the mysteries therein 
contained. The word implieth three things : (1.) Deepness of 
meditation. He doth not glance upon, but ' look into the perfect law 
of liberty.' (2.) Diligence of inquiry ; they do not content themselves 
with what is offered to their first thoughts, but accurately pry into the 
mind of God revealed in the word. (3.) Liveliness of impression : they 
do so look upon it as to find the virtue of it in their hearts : 2 Cor. iii. 
18, c We, with open face beholding the glory of the Lord as in a 
glass, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.' Such a 
gaze as bringeth the glory of the Lord into our hearts, as Moses' face 
shone by talking with God ; and we, by conversing with the word, 
carry away the beauty and glory of it in our spirits. 

Into the perfect law. Some understand the moral law, in opposition 
to the ceremonial, as not being clear and full, and not able to justify, 
though men rested in the observances of it ; and not perfect, because 
not durable, and was not to remain for ever. Thus Heb. vii. 19, 
1 The law made nothing perfect, but only the bringing in of a better 
hope.' A man could not be sanctified, justified, saved, without Christ, 
by the dispensation of Moses. So Heb. ix. 9, ' That service could not 
make the comer thereunto perfect, as appertaining to the conscience/ 
The soul could find no ease and rest in it without looking to Christ. 
But though this sense be probable, yet I rather understand the whole 
doctrine and word of God, and chiefly the gospel. The will of God in 
scripture is called a law. So a godly man is said to ' meditate uii the 
law day and night,' Ps. i. ; and ' thy law do I love,' Ps. cxix., where by 
law is understood the whole word ; and the gospel is called VO/JLO? 
TriVreo)?, ' the law of faith,' Kom. iii. 27. Now this law is said to be 
perfect, because it is so formally in itself, and they that look into it will 
see that there needeth no other word to make the man of God perfect. 

Of liberty. It is so called, partly because of the clearness of 
revelation : it is the counsel of God to his friends ; or, saith Piscator, 
because it spareth none, but dealeth with all freely, without respect of 



persons, though they be higher, richer, stronger than others ; but 
rather because it calleth us into a state of freedom. See other reasons 
in the notes. 

And continuetli therein; that is, persevereth in the study of this 
holy doctrine, and remaineth in the knowledge, belief, and obedience 
of it. 

He being not a forgetful hearer, a/cpoarrjs 7% eTriXrjo-fjiovTJs, ( a 
hearer of oblivion,' a Hebraism ; and he useth this term to answer 
the former similitude of a man's forgetting his natural face. 

But a doer of the work ; that is, laboureth to refer and bring all 
things to practice. He is said to be a doer that studieth to do, though 
his hand doth not reach to the perfectness of the work ; that is, mind 
ful of the business cut out to him in the word. 

He shall be blessed in his deed; that is, so behaving himself, or 
so doing ; or, as some more generally, he shall be blessed in all his 
ways, whatsoever he doth shall be prosperous and happy. For they 
conceive it to be an allusion to the words of the 1st Psalm, ver. 3, 
' Whatsoever he shall do shall prosper : ' for the psalmist speaketh 
there of doing the law, and meditating in the law, as James speaketh 
here of looking into the law of liberty, and walking in it. But here the 
Papists come upon us, and say Lo ! here is a clear place that we are 
blessed for our deeds. But I answer It is good to mark the distinct 
ness of scripture phrase : the apostle doth not say for, but in his 
deed. It is an argument or evidence of our blessedness, though not 
the ground of it ; the way, though not the cause. 

The points are these : 

Obs. 1. From that he looJceth. That we should with all serious 
ness and earnestness apply ourselves to the knowledge of the gospel. 
There should be deep meditation and diligent inquiry. Your first 
duty, Christians, is to admit the word into your serious thoughts : Ps. 
i. 2, ' He meclitateth in the law day and night.' We should always 
be chewing and sucking out the sweetness of this cud : Ps. xlv. 1, 
' My heart inditeth a good matter.' The word in the original signi- 
fieth baketh or frieth ; it is an allusion to the mincah, or meat-offering, 
that was baked and fried in a pan. Truths are concocted and ripened 
by meditation. And then there must be diligent inquiry, that we may 
not content ourselves with the surface of truth, but get into the bowels 
of it : 1 Peter i. 10, ' Of which salvation the prophets have inquired 
diligently.' Though they had a more immediate assistance of the 
Spirit, yet they would more accurately look into the depths and mys 
teries of the gospel, and consider their own prophecies : Prov. ii. 4, 
' Search for wisdom as for hidden treasures.' Jewels do not lie upon 
the surface ; you must get into the caverns and dark receptacles of the 
earth for them. No more do truths lie in the surface or outside of an 
expression. The beauty and glory of the scriptures is within, and 
must be fetched out with much study and prayer. A glance cannot 
discover the worth of anything to us. He that doth but cast his eye 
upon a piece of embroidery, doth not discern the curiousness and the 
art of it. So to know Christ in the bulk doth not work half so kindly 
with us as when we search out the breadth, and the depth, and the 
length, the exact dimensions of his love to us. 


Obs. 2. The gospel is a law. It is often invested with this title and 
appellation : Kom. viii. 2, ' The law of the Spirit of the life of Jesus 
Christ hath made us free from the law of sin and death/ The covenant 
of works is there called ' the law of sin and death/ because the use of 
it to man fallen is to convince of sin, and to oblige and bind over to 
death. But the gospel, or covenant of grace, is called the law of the 
Spirit of the life of Christ, because the intent of it is, by faith, to plant 
us into Christ, whose life we are enabled to live by the Spirit ; and it 
is called ' the law of this life/ because everything that concurreth in 
the right constitution and making of a law is found in the gospel : 
As (1.) Equity, without which a law is but tyranny. All the precepts 
of the gospel are just and equal, most proportionate to the dignity of 
man's nature : it is holy, good, and comfortable. (2.) There is 
promulgation, which is the life and form of the law, and without which 
it were but a private snare to catch men and entrap them. Now it is 
' proclaimed to the captives/ Isa. Ixi. 1 ; it must be ' preached to every 
creature/ Mark xvi. (3.) The author, without which it were sedi 
tion God, who can prescribe to the creature. (4.) The end, public 
good, without which a law were tyrannous exaction ; and the end is 
the salvation of our souls. Well, then, look upon the gospel as a law 
and rule, according to which (1st.) Your lives must be conformed : 
' Peace on them that walk according to this rule/ Gal. vi. 16 ; that is, 
the directions of the gospel. (2d.) All controversies and doctrines 
must be decided : ' To the law and the testimony ; if they speak not 
according to this rule, it is because there is no light in them/ Isa. viii. 
20. (3d.) Your estates must be judged : ' God will judge the secrets 
of all men, according to my gospel/ Kom. ii. 16. The whole word 
carrieth the face of a law, according to which you shall be judged ; 
nay, the gospel itself is a law, partly as it is a rule, partly because of 
the commanding prevailing power it hath over the heart. So it is 
' the law of the Spirit of life ; ' so that they that are in Christ are 
not without a law, not avopoi, but evvofjioi. So the apostle, 1 Cor. 
ix. 21, ' I am not without the law, but under the law to Christ ; ' 
that is, under the rule and direction of the moral law, as adopted 
and taken in as a part of the gospel by Christ. 

Obs. 3. The word of God is a perfect law. So it is in divers respects. 
(1.) Because it maketh perfect. The nearer we come to the word, the 
greater is the perfection and accomplishment of our spirits. The 
goodness and excellency of the creature lieth in the nearest conformity 
to God's will. (2.) It directeth us to the greatest perfection, to God 
blessed for ever, to the righteousness of Christ, to perfect communion 
with God in glory. (3.) It concerneth the whole man, and hath a force 
upon the conscience : men go no further than outward obedience ; but 
c the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul/ Ps. xix. 7. 'It is 
not a lame, defective rule ; besides outward observances, there is some 
what for the soul. (4.) It is a perfect law, because of the invariable 
tenor of it ; it needeth not to be changed, but is always like itself : 
as we say, that is a perfect rule that needeth no amendment. (5.) It 
is pure, and free from error. There are no laws of men but there are 
some blemish in them. Of old, wickedness was enacted by a law 1 

1 Osorius de Glor., lib. i. 


adultery : by a law of the Syrians, the virgins were to prostitute them 
selves before marriage. So in the laws of every country there are 
some marks of human error and frailty ; but, Ps. cxix. 140, ' Thy 
word is pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.' (6.) Because it is a suf 
ficient rule. Christ hath been ' faithful in all his house/ in all the 
appointments of it. Whatever is necessary for knowledge, for regu 
lating of life and worship, for confirmation of true doctrines, for 
confutation of false, it is all in the word : 2 Tim. iii. 17, ' That the 
man of God may be perfectly furnished unto every good work.' Well, 
then (1 .) Prize the word. We love what is perfect. (2.) Suffer nothing 
to be added to it : Deut. iv., * Ye shall not add to the word which I 
command you.' So the whole Bible is concluded : Kev. xxii. 18, ' If 
any one add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that 
are written in this book/ It will be a sad adding that incurreth these 
plagues. The plagues written in that book were those dreadful judg 
ments that should be executed upon Antichrist and his adherents ; 
they are most for adding, coining new doctrines of faith, piecing up 
the word with their own inventions. And, indeed, as they add, by 
obtruding upon the world the traditions and usages of men, so others 
add by imposing upon men's reverence their own inventions and ima 
ginations. They cry up their fancies without the word, and private 
illuminations. God would not leave the world at so great an uncer 
tainty. Others urge the commands of men. Certainly God never 
intended that the souls of his people should be left as a prey to the 
present power. 

01)s. 4. That the gospel, or word of God, is a ' law of liberty/ As 
it is a perfect, so it is a free law. So it is in divers respects. (1.) Be 
cause it teacheth the way to true liberty, and freedom from sin, wrath, 
death. Naturally we are under the law of sin and death, entangled 
with the yoke of our own corruptions, and bound over to eternal 
misery ; but the gospel is a doctrine of liberty and deliverance : 
John viii. 36, ' If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free 
indeed.' There is no state so free as that which we enjoy by the 
gospel. (2.) The bond of obedience that is laid upon us is indeed and 
in truth a perfect freedom. For, 

1. The matter itself of our obedience is freedom. 

2. We do it upon free principles. 

3. We have the help of a free Spirit. 

4. We do it in a state of freedom. 

1. The matter is freedom. Duty is the greatest liberty, and sin the 
greatest bondage. You cannot have a worse restraint than to be left 
to ' walk in the ways of your own hearts.' The sinning angels are 
said to be ' kept in chains of darkness/ Jude 6. A wicked man is in 
bondage here and hereafter ; now in snares, then in chains ; here 
1 taken captive by Satan at his will' and pleasure, 2 Tim. ii. 26, and 
hereafter bound up with Satan in chains of darkness. Sin itself is a 
bondage, and hell a prison, 1 Peter iii. 19. Were there nothing in 
sin but the present slavery, it is enough to dissuade us. Who would 
be a vassal to his own lusts? at the command of pride, and every 
unclean motion ? But, alas ! the present thraldom is nothing to what 
is future. The condition of a sinner for the present is servile, but 


hereafter woful and dreadful. Satan's work is drudgery, and his 
reward is death, How can we remain in such an estate with any 
pleasure ? From the beginning to the end it is but a miserable ser 
vility. Why should we account Christ's service a burthen, when it is 
the most happy liberty and freedom ? The world is all for ' casting 
aside the cords, for breaking these bonds,' Ps. ii. 3. Which would 
you have ? the cords of duty or the chains of darkness ? We cannot 
endure the restraints of the word, or the severe, grave precepts of 
Christianity ; we look upon them as an infringement of our carnal 
ease and liberty. Oh ! consider these are not gyves, but ornaments : Ps. 
cxix. 45, ' I shall walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts ;' beddachah, 
1 at large/ That is the only free life that is spent in loving, enjoying, 
and praising God. Oh ! do not count it, then, to be the only free and 
pleasant life to know nothing, to care for nothing, in matters of reli- 

fion. Who would dote upon his shackles, and think gyves a liberty ? 
Peter ii. 19, ' While they promise themselves liberty, they themselves 
are the servants of corruption ; for of whom a man is overcome, of the 
same is he brought into bondage/ The apostle alludeth to the law of 
nations, by which it is lawful to make slaves of those that are over 
come and taken in war. Now those that preach carnal doctrine, and 
tell men they may live as they list, they help on the victory of sin, 
and so bring men into a vassalage and servitude to their own lusts. 
So Kom. vi. 20, ' When ye were servants of sin, ye were free from 
righteousness/ You would expatiate, and run out at large, and you 
thought this was a freedom ; but all the while you were servants, and 
servants to the basest master, your own sin. It was Ham's curse to 
be a servant of servants. It is a goodly preferment, is it not, to be 
Satan's vassal, lust's slave? I remember Austin saith of Home, 
that she was the great mistress of the world, and the drudge of sin. 1 
And Chrysostom saith, that Joseph was the freeman, and his mistress 
was the servant, when she obeyed her lusts. 2 

2. We do it upon free principles. Whatever we do, we do it as 

* the Lord's freemen/ 1 Cor. vii. 22, upon principles of love and 
thankfulness. God might rule us 'with a rod of iron,' but he urgeth 
the soul with ' constraints of love/ In one place, ' I beseech you by 
the mercies of God/ &c., Kom. xii. 1 ; in another, ' Grace teacheth 
us/ &c., Titus ii. 12. The motives of the gospel are mercy and grace ; 
and the obedience of the gospel is an obedience performed out of 
gratitude or thankfulness. 

3. We have the assistance of a free Spirit, that disentangleth our 
souls, and helpeth us in the work of obedience. David prayeth, 

* Uphold me by thy free Spirit/ Ps. Ii. 12. A free Spirit, because he 
maketh us free, helpeth us to serve God willingly and freely. There 
is spirit and life in the commandment, somewhat besides a dead letter, 
and that maketh it a ' perfect law of liberty/ Of old, there was light 
in the commandment to guide their feet, but not fire to burn up their 
lusts ; there was no help to fulfil it : the light was directive, but not 

4. We do it in a free state, in an estate of sonship, and well pleas- 

1 ' Domitrix gentium, et captiva vitiorum.' A ug. de Civit. Dei. 

2 Chrysos. Horn. 19, in priorem Ep. ad Corinth. 


ing : Eom. viii. 15, ' Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again 
unto fear ; but a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' 
When a man is under a covenant of works, the testimony of his con 
science is suitable to his estate ; and therefore in his natural condition 
his spirit is servile, and all that he doth he doth as a servant : but 
when he is regenerated, and claimeth by another tenure, that of grace, 
the dispositions of his spirit are more filial and child-like ; he acteth 
as a son, with an ingenuous liberty and confidence. Adam himself 
in innocency, because under a covenant of works, was but as an 
honourable servant : Gal. iv. 31 , ' We are not children of the bond 
woman, but of the free.' The new covenant giveth us another kind 
of estate and spirit. So Luke i. 74, ' Being delivered out of the hands 
of our enemies, we serve him without fear ;' that is, without such a 
scrupulous awe and bondage, as otherwise would remain upon the 

Use. Well, then, consider whether you be under a law of liberty, yea 
or no. To this end (1. ) Ask your souls, which is a bondage to you, sin or 
duty ? When you do complain of the yoke, what is grievous to you, the 
commandment or the transgression ? Do you ' delight in the law of the 
Lord in the inward man ? ' Only corruption that hangeth on so fast 
is a sad burthen. The carnal heart hath a spite at the law, Eom. viii. 7, 
not its own lusts. (2.) When you do duty, what is the weight that 
poiseth your spirits to it ? Your warrant is the command ; but your 
poise and weight should be love. 1 (3.) What is your strength for duty 
reason or the assistance of the free Spirit ? He that cometh in his own 
name usually standeth upon his own bottom. When our dependence is 
on Christ, our tendency is to him. (4.) Would you have the work ac 
cepted for its own sake, or your persons accepted for Christ's sake ? It is 
an ill sign when a man's thoughts run more upon the property and qua 
lity of the work than upon the propriety and interest of his person. In 
the law of liberty or covenant of grace, God's acceptance beginneth 
with the person ; and though there be weak services, much deadness, 
coldness, dulness, yet it is accepted, because it is done in a free state. 
Works can never be so vile as our person was when we first found 
favour with God. If it be thus with you, you have cause to bless God 
for your freedom, to consider what you shall render again. Kequite 
God you cannot till you pay back as much as he gave you. 2 ' He hath 
given his Son to free you, and you should give up yourselves. 

06s. 5. From that and abidetli therein. This commendeth our 
knowledge of and affection to the word, to continue in it. Hypocrites 
have a taste ; some men's hearts burn under the ordinances, but all is 
lost and drowned in the world again : John viii. 31, ' If ye continue 
in the word, then are ye my disciples indeed.' There may be good 
flashes for the present, but Christ saith, * If ye continue/ if ye ripen 
them to good affections. So 2 John 9, * Whosoever transgresseth, and 
abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God ; but he that 
abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the 
Son.' He that hath not God hath lost himself; and he that hath 
God hath all things : now so great a privilege is promised to perseve- 

L 'Amor meus est pondus meum, eo feror quocunque feror.' Aug. 
3 ' Deo redempti sumus, Deum debemus.' Salvian. 


ranee. The corrupt angels lost their glory when they left their love 
to the truth. Their sin is thus expressed they ' abode not in the 
truth/ John viii. 44. Now to this abiding in the word two things are 
opposite : (1.) Apostasy, when we go off from our former profession 
and zeal for God ; a sad case ! 2 Peter ii. 21, ' Better they had never 
known the holy commandment than to go back from the knowledge of 
it after it was once delivered to them.' The less law the less trans 
gression ; apostates sin against more conviction : Ps. cxix. 118, 
'Thou hast trodden down them that err from thy statutes: God 
treadeth them under feet as unsavoury salt, 1 because they have 
lost their smartness and savour. (2.) There is erepoSiSacncaXla, 
other gospelling: Gal. i. 6, 'Soon turned to another gospel.' So 
1 Tim. i. 3, ' Charge them that they teach no other doctrine.' 
Men would have something new and strange, which is usually the 
ground of heresy. So 1 Tim. vi. 3, 'If any teach otherwise, and 
consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, he is proud, knowing nothing/ This desire to differ, and 
hear another gospel, is very dangerous ; new ways affected are the 
high way to an old error. 

Well, then, if we must abide in the word, then (1.) Be sure to 
cherish good motions if they come upon your hearts : you are to abide 
therein : though the Spirit break in upon the soul of a sudden, let it 
not go so. Usually our religious pangs are but like a sudden flash of 
lightning into a dark place. (2.) Be careful to observe the first 
decays and languishments of your spirits, that you may 'strengthen 
the things that are ready to die/ Kev. iii. 2. If the candle of the Lord 
doth not shine as it was wont to do, complain of the first dimness 
and decay. 

Obs. 6. From that being not a forgetful hearer. That hearers must 
take heed that they do not forget the good things dispensed to them. 
Helps to memory are these : (1.) Attention ; men remember what they 
heed and regard : Prov. iv. 21, ' Attend to my sayings ; keep them in 
the midst of thine heart ; ' that is, in such a place where nothing can 
come to take them away. Where there is attention, there will be 
retention : the memory is the chest and ark of divine truths, and a 
man should see them carefully locked up : Isa. xlii. 23, ' Who will 
hearken and hear for the time to come ?' Hearkening noteth rever 
ence and seriousness ; as it is said, Isa. xxxii. 3, ' The ears of them 
that hear shall hearken/ Now reverence in the admission of the word 
helpeth us in the keeping of it : truths are lost by slight hearing. 
(2.) Affection, that is a great friend to memory ; men remember what 
they care for : an old man will not forget where he laid his bag of 
gold : delight and love are always renewing and reviving the object 
upon our thoughts, Ps. cxix. David often asserteth his delight in the 
law, and therefore it was always in his thoughts : ver. 97, ' Oh how 
love I thy law ! it is my meditation all the day/ (3.) Application 
and appropriation of truths; we will remember that which con- 
cerneth ourselves : in a public edict, a man will be sure to carry away 
that which is proper to his case and tenure : Job v. 27, ' Hear this, 

14 Sic Ecebolius de ipso ; HaT^crare /i r6 aXas r6 dvalffdyTOv.' Socrat. Ecd. Hi&t. 
lib. iii. cap. 2. 


and know it for thy good ;' there he spake to me ; this I must re 
member for ray comfort. So Prov. ix. 12, ' Be wise for thyself;' 
this is for your souls, and concerneth you nearly. (4.) Meditation, 
and holy care to cover the word, that it be not snatched from us by 
vain thoughts ; that the fowls of the air do not peck up the good 
seed, Mat. xiii. 4. You should often revolve and revive it upon the 
thoughts : as an apple, when it is tossed in the hand, leaveth the odour 
and smell of it behind when it is gone : Luke ii. 19, * Mary kept these 
sayings, and pondered them in her heart ;' she kept them, because she 
pondered them. (5.) Observation of the accomplishment of truths : 
you will remember things spoken long since, when you see them veri 
fied: John ii. 19, ' Then they remembered that it was written, The zeal 
of thine house hath eaten me up/ Such occasions observed will make 
old truths come to mind afresh. So ver. 22, * Then they remembered 
he had spoken ' of destroying the temple in three days. So God 
saith, Hosea vii. 12, * I will chastise them, as their congregation hath 
heard.' When the prophets are dead and gone, they may remember 
they were taught such things along time since. (6.) Practise what 
thou nearest : you will remember the good you get by it : 'I will re 
member thy precepts, for by them thou hast quickened me/ Ps. cxix. 93. 
Christians can discourse of the circumstances of that sermon by which 
they have received profit. (7.) Commit it to the Spirit's keeping and 
charge : John xiv. 26, The Comforter, ava^vrjo-e^ shall bring things to 
your remembrance/ Christ chargeth the Holy Ghost with his own 
sermons ; the disciples' memories were too slippery : and truly this 
is the great advantage which they have that have interest in the 
promise of the Spirit, that truths are brought freshly to mind in the 
very season wherein they do concern them. 

Obs. 7. From that lie, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer. 
Sin cometh for want of remembering : forgetful hearers are negligent : 
Ps. ciii. 18, ' Them that remember his commandments to do them/ 
A godly man hath an affective memory; he remembereth to do. 
Wicked men are often expressed and set out by their bad memories ; 
as Job viii. 13, ' They forget God ;' so Ps. cxix. 139, ' Mine enemies 
have forgotten thy word;' that is, they do not practise it; yea, the 
sins of God's people are usually sins of forgetfulness and incogitancy ; 
as Peter would never have been so bold and daring upon the danger, 
and done what he did, if he had remembered. The text saith, ' When 
he remembered, he wept bitterly/ Luke xxii. 61. So when they 
fainted under affliction : Heb. xii. 5, * Ye have forgotten the consola 
tion whch speaketh to you as children.' A bad memory is the cause 
of a great deal of mischief in the soul. So for distrust : Mark viii. 18, 
' Ye see and hear, but do not remember ; ' they did not actually consider 
the former experience of the loaves and fishes, and so distrusted. So- 
for murmuring and impatience : David murmured till he * remem 
bered the years of the right hand of the Most High/ Ps. Ixxvii. 10 
We find that seasonable truths give a great deal of relief and ease to 
the mind in a temptation: Lam. iii. 21, ' This I recall to mind, and 
therefore I have hope;' whereas others are troubled with every event 
of providence, because they do not remember the comforts the scrip 
ture hath provided in such a case. They that came to the sepulchre 


were troubled about the death and resurrection of Christ, because they 
had forgotten what he had spoken to them in Galilee, Luke xxiv. 6, 8. 
So when the Thessalonians were troubled at the growing of errors, 
and extremely shaken in their confidence, Paul saith, 2 Thes. ii. 5, 
' Eemember ye not how I spake of those things ? ' It is very observ 
able that in many places of scripture all duty is expressed by this word 
remember, as if it did necessarily imply suitable actions and affections ; 
so Exod. xx. 8, ' Kemember the sabbath-day ; ' as if, then, they must 
needs sanctify it : so Eccles. xii. 1, ' Kemember thy Creator ;' it is put 
for all that reverence, duty, and worship which we owe to God. In 
other places the link between memory and duty is plainly asserted : 
Num. xv. 40, ' That ye may remember to do all my commandments : ' 
a seasonable recalling of truths doth much. You see, out of all this, 
that we should not only get knowledge, but remembrance ; that we 
should not only faithfully lay up truths, but seasonably lay them out ; 
it is a great skill to do so, and we had need call in the help of the 
Spirit. There are some truths that are of a general use and benefit ; 
others that serve for some cases and seasons. In the general, hide the 
whole word in your heart, that ye may have a fresh truth to check sin 
in every temptation, Ps. cxix. 11. So lay up the mercies of God that 
you may be thankful ; forget not all his benefits, Ps. ciii. 2 ; your sins, 
that you may be humble : Deut. ix. 7, ' Eemember and forget not 
how thou provokedst the Lord thy God in the wilderness ; ' so remark 
able experiences, ' the years of God's right hand,' that you may be 
confident. Labour thus to get a present ready memory, that will urge 
truths in the season when they do concern us. 

Obs. 8. From that but a doer of the ivork. The word layeth out 
work for us. It was not ordained only for speculation ; it is a rule of 
duty to the creatures. There is the ' work of faith/ John vi. 29 ; the 
' labour of love/ Heb. vi. 1 ; and ' fruits worthy repentance/ Mat. iii. 8. 
All this work is cut out to us in the gospel faith, love, and new 
obedience. Do not content yourselves, then, with a module of truth. 
The apostle calleth it, Rom. ii. 20, ^opfywcnv eVto-T^yu,^, ' a form of 
knowledge/ With a winter sun, that shineth, but warmeth not, let 
not the tree of knowledge deprive you of the tree of life ; work the 
works of God. Faith is your work, repentance is your business, and 
the life of love and praise your duty. 

Obs. 9. From that shall be blessed in his deed. There is a blessed 
ness annexed to the doing of the work of the word; 1 not for the 
work's sake, but out of the mercy of God. See then that you hear so that 
you come within the compass of the blessing ; the blessing is usually 
pronounced at the time of your addresses to God in this worship. See 
that your own interest be clear, that when the minister, in God's 
name, saith, * Blessed is he that heareth the word and keepeth it/ you 
may echo again to God, and bless him in your reins, for that he hath 
bowed your heart to the obedience of it. 

Ver. 26. But if any man among you seemefh to be religious, and 
bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own soul, this man's religion 
is vain. 

The apostle having showed the blessedness of those which are doers 
1 Qu. < Lord ' ? ED. 


of the word, lest any should seem to challenge a share in it to whom 
it doth not belong, he discovereth who are hearers only, and not doers 
of the word ; men that do allow themselves in any known sin ; and he 
instanceth in the evils of the tongue. 

Quest. Before I open the words any further, I shall inquire why 
James doth pitch so much weight upon this one particular, it 
seeming so inconsiderable in itself, and it having so little respect to 
the context. 

Ans. The reasons assigned in the answer will afford us so many 

Reas. 1. Because this is a chief part of our respect to our neighbour, 
and true love to God will be manifested by love to our neighbour. 
They do not usually detract from others whom God hath pardoned. 
He that saith, ' Thou shalt love God,' hath also said, ' Thou shalt love 
thy neighbour;' though the object be diverse, yet the ground for 
obedience is the same ; therefore the apostles usually bring this argu 
ment to unmask and discolour hypocritical persuasions ; as 1 John ii. 9, 
'He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in 
darkness even till now;' so 1 John iii. 17, 18, ' If he shut up his 
bowels from his brother, how dwelleth the love of God in him ? ' How 
can it be imagined that those that are sensible of the love of God 
should be merciless towards others ? So 1 John iv. 20, ' He that loveth 
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he 
hath not seen ? ' The good and attractiveness that is in others is an 
object of the senses, and usually they make a strong impression. 
Well, then, do not flatter yourselves with duties of worship, in the 
neglect of duties of commerce. 

Reas. 2. Because of the natural proneness that is in us to offend with 
the tongue: censuring is a pleasing sin, extremely compliant with 
nature. How propense the nature of man is to it I shall show you in 
the third chapter. Speech is the discovery of reason ; corruption soon 
runneth out that way. Well, then, watch over it ; the more natu 
ral corruptions are, the more care should we use to suppress them : 
Ps. xxxix. 1, ' I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my 
tongue.' There needeth special caution for that ; and as you should 
watch, so you should pray, and desire God to watch over your watch 
ing :^ Ps. cxli. 3, ' Set a watch before my mouth, keep the door of my 
lips/ The awe of God is a great restraint. 

Reas. 3. Because it was the sin of that age, as appeareth by his 
frequent dissuasives. See ver. 19 ; so chap. Hi. per totum ; so chap. iv. 
ver. 11, &c. The note is It is an ill sign to be carried away with 
the evil of the times. It is a description of wicked men, Eph. ii. 2, 
that they ' walked according to the course of this world ; ' in the original, 
tear aww, according to the age, as the manner of the times went. 
So Kom. xii. 2: 'Be not conformed to this world;' T& OMBVI TOVTW, 
1 to this age ;' the meaning is, do not get into the garb of the times. 
So 2 Chron. xvii. 4, ' He walked after the trade of Israel.' Many do so ; 
they walk after the fashion and trade of the country and times wherein 
they live. Oh ! consider, this is the sure note of a vain profession. 
Sins, when they grow common, become less odious; and therefore 
slight spirits commit them without remorse. 


Reas. 4. Because it seerneth so small a sin, and having laid aside 
grosser sins, they did the more securely continue in the practice of it. 
They were not adulterers, drunkards ; and therefore, flattering them 
selves with a show of holiness, they did the more freely censure and 
detract from others. Note, indulgence in the least sin cannot stand 
with grace. Your ' religion is vain ' if you do not c refrain your 
tongue.' They are miserably mistaken that hope to redeem their souls 
from the guilt of one sin by abstaining from the practice of another. 
Some are precise in small things, that they may be excused for non- 
observance of ' the weightier things of the law ; ' as the stomach, 
when it cannot digest solid food, naturally desireth to fill itself 
with water, or such light stuff as breedeth nought but wind. The 
Pharisees ' tithed mint and cummin,' &c. Others avoid grosser sins, 
and hope that it is an excuse for other corruptions that are not so 
odious. We all plead, * Is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?' 

Reas. 5. Because this is usually the hypocrite's sin. Hypocrites, of 
all others, are least able to bridle their tongue ; and they that seem to 
be religious, are most free in censuring ; partly because, being ac 
quainted with the guilt of their own spirits, they are most apt to sus 
pect others. Nazianzen saith of his father, ovre rl rcov irovrjpwv avros 
TrapaSexT) he being of an innocent and candid soul, was less apt to 
think evil of others ; and he giveth this reason, fipabv yap et9 inrovoiav 
Kcucovlro 7T/70? fca/ciav ^vcrKiv^ov goodness is least suspicious, and plain 
hearts think all like themselves. Partly because they use to be much 
abroad that are so little at home. Censuring is a trick of the devil, 
to take off the care from their own hearts ; and therefore, to excuse 
indignation against their own sins, their zeal is passionate in declaim 
ing against the sins of others. Gracious hearts reflect most upon 
themselves ; they do not seek what to reprove in others, but what to 
lament in themselves. Partly because they are not so meek and gentle 
as true Christians. When a man is sensible of his own failings, he is 
very tender in reflecting upon the weaknesses of others : Gal. vi. 1, 
' Ye which are spiritual, restore him with meekness/ They which are 
most spiritual are most tender to set a fallen Christian in joint again, 
Karapri^ere. Partly because an hypocrite is a proud person : he would 
have every one to be his own foil, and therefore he blemisheth others. 
Diotrephes would be prating against John, because he ' loved the pre 
eminence/ 3 John 9, 10. Partly because hypocrites are best at their 
tongue, and therefore cannot bridle it. When men make religion a 
talk, their way is to blemish others ; it is a piece of their religion. 
The Lord give you to discern into your own souls, whether these dis 
positions be in you or no. 

Reas. 6. Because there is such a quick intercourse between the 
tongue and the heart, that the tongue is the best discovery of it ; and 
therefore, saith the apostle, is ' their religion vain/ if they ' cannot 
bridle their tongues.' Seneca said, that the speech is the express 
image of the heart ; and a greater than he said, ' Out of the abun 
dance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' The quality of many men's 
religion may be discerned by the intemperateness of their language ; 
words are but the excrements and overflow of their wickedness. A 
man may soon discern of what religion they are, saith Pareus of the 


Jesuits, qui theologiam in caninam maledicentiam transferunt that, 
like angry curs, cannot pass by one another without snarling. 

These reasons being premised, the opening of the verse will be the 
more easy. 

If any man seemeth to be religious. To himself or others, by the prac 
tice of some few things by worship, and some duties of the first table. 

And bridleth not his tongue ; that is, doth not abstain from the evils 
of the tongue, such as railing, reviling, censuring, and detraction, which 
latter, I suppose, is chiefly intended. 

But deceiveth his own soul. It may be understood two ways : (1.) 
Though he detract from others, yet he hath too good an opinion of 
himself. Self-love is the ground of hypocrisy ; they do not search 
themselves, suspect themselves. Judas said last, 'Master, is it I?' 
They are too equal to themselves, though too severe to others. (2.) 
The other sense may be, he cometh at length to flatter himself, to 
deceive his own soul, as well as to seem to others. 

This mans religion is vain ; that is, either he maketh his graces 
and the good things that are in him to be vain and unprofitable, or 
rather, his religion is pretended to no purpose. 

Obs. 1. Besides what I have observed already from hence, you may 
collect from that seemeth to be religious, there may be religion only 
in pretence and seeming. So 1 Cor. viii. 2, ' If any man among you 
thinketh he knoweth anything ; ' that is, pleaseth, flattereth himself in 
the conceit of his knowledge. So Gal. vi. 3, ' If any man think him 
self to be something, when he is nothing ; ' that proudly overweeneth 
his own worth. Well, then, rest not in a ' form of godliness/ 2 Tim. 
iii. 5, or in a ' form of knowledge/ Horn. ii. 20 ; in a naked specula 
tion, or in a varnished profession. These things may carry a fair 
show and semblance in the world, but are of no account before God. 
Still put yourselves to this question, Am I yet beyond a hypocrite ? 
Be what you would seem to be. 1 

Obs. 2. From that bridleth not his tongue. That it is a great part 
of religion to bridle the tongue. There are several evils that must be 
restrained lying, swearing, cursing, railing, ribaldry. I shall speak 
of these five: (1.) Lying. Beware of that, with all the kinds, equi 
vocation and dissimulation. Truth is the ground of commerce. It 
is a sin destructive to the good of mankind. The devil, that is, the 
accuser, he is called the liar too. Oh ! do not cry up a report of others, 
till you have sifted it. ' Report, say they, and we will report it/ Jer. 
xx. 10 ; that is, bring us anything, and we will blaze it ; and so a 
little water is evaporated into a great deal of steam and smoke. Crassa 
negligentia dolus est, say the civilians if you do not try it, you are 
guilty. (2.) Cursing. There is corruption at the heart when the 
tongue is so blistered. It is observable that when God would have 
the curses pronounced upon Mount Ebal, he employed the servile 
tribes about it, only Reuben was amongst them, that prostituted his 
father's bed. There is seldom any blessing for them that use them 
selves to curses. (3.) Swearing. It is said the righteous ' feareth 
an oath/ Eccles. ix. 2. Not only those false-mouthed oaths, but 
minced oaths, and vain speeches, and peremptory asseverations in the 

1 'Quod videri vis, illud esse debes.' 


slightest matters. Men that lavish away deep asseverations upon every 
trifle are, if the matter be anything more serious, put upon that which 
should be the last reserve, an oath. (4.) Bailing. I take it not only 
for the gross railing, but privy defamations and whisperings to the 
prejudice of others, meddling with other men's matters ; as the apostles 
often speak against these, so commending with a but, as the scripture 
saith of Naaman, 2 Kings v. 1, 'A great man, an honourable man, a 
mighty man, but he was a leper.' They say he is thus and thus, but, 
&c. ; and so wound while they pretend to kiss. They make their 
praise but a preface to their reproach, which is but as an archer that 
draweth back his hand, that the arrow may fly with the more force. 
It was a great praise that Jerome gave Asella, Habebat silentium 
loquens she was silent when she spake ; for she spake only of reli 
gious and necessary things, not meddling with others' persons or fame. 
(5.) Kibaldry. Filthy 'rotten communication/ Col. iii. 8; ad-jrpos 
Xo7o?, ' filthy speaking,' Eph. v. 4. Many travel under the burthen 
of a profane jest. Oh ! the filthy breath that cometh out of their 
mouths ! All foolish jesting cometh under this head. Aristotle's 
virtue, evrpa7re\ia, is a sin with Paul, Eph. v. 4. 

Obs. 3. From that but deceiveth himself. Hypocrites come at length 
to deceive themselves. A liar, by repeating his lies, beginneth to 
believe them. Natural conscience is pacified with a show. It is just 
with God to punish deceit with deceit. And as they cozen others, so 
they deceive their own souls ; as the carver fell in love with an image of 
his own making, and thought it living. Hypocrisy endeth in hardness 
and gross blindness, and by custom men dote upon that which at 
first they knew was but paint and varnish ; as if God would be as 
easily mocked and deceived as men. 

Obs. 4. From that this man's religion is vain. Pretended religion will 
be fruitless : shows are nullities with God. Of all things, a man cannot 
endure that his serious actions shall be in vain and to no purpose ; for 
there usually hope is more strong, and therefore the disappointment 
must needs be the more vexatious. This will be no small part of 
your torment in hell, to think that all your profession is come to this. 
I prophesied in Christ's name, in his name I wrought miracles. I 
conferred, repeated, closed with the better side, to my loss and disad 
vantage, and yet am I now in hell. Oh ! how sad will such discourses 
be in the place of torment ! Oh ! consider, the greater rise your hope 
had, the more bruising and crushing will your fall be, as a stone that 
falleth from a high place is broken to powder. 

Ver. 27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, 
is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and 
to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

Here the apostle cometh to the positive part of the trial. As he 
must not do hurt, lest his religion prove vain ; so he must do good, 
that it may be found pure and undefiled. 

From the context observe : 

Obs. Negatives in religion are not enough : he must refrain his 
tongue, and he must visit the fatherless. Our duty should carry pro 
portion with the divine grace to us. God's mercies are not only priva 
tive but positive ; he doth not only bring us out of hell, but put us 


under an assurance of glory. It was Absalom's misery to be only 
acquitted from the punishment, but not to see the king's face. God's 
grace is more entirely dispensed ; we are taken out of a state of wrath 
into a state of love. God's terms to Abraham were, to be ' a shield 
and an exceeding great reward ;' to be a protector, and a saviour ; and 
to all the faithful, ' a sun and a shield/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. A shield 
against danger, and a sun, the cause of all vegetation, life, and bless 
ing. Now we should imitate our heavenly Father ; we should not 
rest in a bare removal of evil, but be careful of that which is good : 
there should be not only an abstinence from grosser sins, but 
a care to maintain communion with God. The descriptions of the 
word are negative and positive : c Walketh not in the counsel of the 
ungodly, but walketh in the ways of the Lord/ Ps. i. 1, 2 ; so Kom. 
viii. 1, ' Walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.' Some are not 
drunkards, not outwardly vicious ; but are they godly ? Is there any 
savour and power of religion ? Are there any motions and feelings of 
the spiritual life within their souls ? God, that hateth sin, delighteth in 
grace ; to be less evil, at the best, will but procure you a cooler hell. 
It is vulgarly observed, that the Pharisee's religion ran upon nots, 
Luke xviii. 11. It is not enough to live civilly and do no man wrong ; 
there must be grace, and the exercise of grace. I observe, that sins 
trouble the conscience more than want of grace, partly because con 
science doth not use to smite for spiritual defects, and partly because 
sins work an actual distemper and disturbance to reason. Oh ! but 
consider ; he that wanteth good works is as much hated of God as the 
outwardly vicious ; and the barren tree is cut down as well as the 
poisonous tree if it bear no fruit as well as if it bear ill fruit. It is not 
enough for a servant that he doth his master no hurt ; he must do his 
master's work : in the Gospel, he had not misspent his talent, but hid 
it in a napkin. 

But I come to the words. In the verse he presseth them to works 
of charity, and an holy conversation, that so they might both show 
themselves to be truly religious, and that their profession was that 
pure and immaculate faith which Christian religion propoundeth. 

Pure religion, and undefiled. He doth not set down what is the 
whole nature of religion, but only some particular testimonies of it. 
Keligion also requireth faith and worship, but the truth of these is 
evidenced by charity and an holy life ; and, therefore, the anti-scrip- 
turists of our days grossly pervert this place, and the scope of the 
apostle, when they would make all religion to consist in these outward 
acts; for the apostle is dealing with hypocrites, who pretended faith and 
worship, neglecting charity. 

Before God and the Father is this ; that is, before God, who is the 
Father of Christ, and us in him. The like phrase is used in many 
other places : 2 Cor. i. 3, ' Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ;' so Eph. i. 3 ; so Eph. v. 20, 'To the God, and the 
Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ : ' and he saith, ' Before 
God/ that is, in his eye, and his esteem. Hypocrites may deceive men, 
for they see only what is without ; but God the Father judgeth 
rightly. And also this is mentioned to imply the sincerity of such 
Christian offices ; they should be done as in the presence of God. 


To visit. Under this word by a synecdoche are comprehended all 
duties of love. To visit, is to comfort them in their misery, to relieve 
them in their necessities ; and under this one kind of charity are com 
prehended all duties to our neighbour. 

The fatherless and the widoivs. These are specified, but others are 
not excluded : there are other objects of charity, as the poor, the sick, 
the captive, the stranger, which are also spoken of in scriptures. But 
the fatherless and widows do most usually want relief, and are most 
liable to neglect and oppression. They are often mentioned elsewhere 
in scripture ; as Isa. i. 17, ' Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow ;' 
so Ps. cxlvi. 9 ; so Prov. xv. 25, and xxiii. 10. 

In their affliction ; that is, in their straits, and when most op 
pressed; and this is added lest men should think their duty per 
formed by visiting those amongst the fatherless and widows that are 
rich and wealthy. 

And to keep himself unspotted. This is coupled with the former 
duty, to show the inseparable connection that should be between 
charity and holiness, and to show that that religion is false which 
doth not teach holiness as well as charity : as Papists sever them, and 
cry up charity as a merit to expiate the defect of holiness. 

From the world. The world, when it is taken in an ill sense, is 
sometimes put for the men of the world, and sometimes for the lusts 
of the world : 1 John ii. 15, ' Whatever is in the world is either the 
lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh, or the pride of life.' Now, to 

* keep ourselves unspotted from the world/ is to keep ourselves from 
the taint and infection of an evil example, and the prevalency and 
sovereignty of worldly lusts. 

Out of this verse observe : 

06s. 1. That it is the glory of religion when it is pure : Ps. xix., 
' The commandment of the Lord is pure ; ' no doctrine so holy in 
itself, and maketh such provision for good life. False religions are 
descried by their impurity. God suffereth false worshippers to fall 
into obscenities, that they may draw a just scorn upon themselves, 
Kom. i. Popery is no friend to good life : pardons set at sale make 
way for looseness. The true Christian religion is called ' a holy faith,' 
Jude 20. No faith goeth so high for rewards, nor is so holy for 
precepts. Well, then, an impure life will not suit with a holy faith. 
Precious liquor must be kept in a clean vessel, and ' the mystery of the 
faith ' held ' in a pure conscience/ 1 Tim. iii. 9. We never suit with 
our religion more than when the way is undefiled and the heart pure : 

* Blessed are the undefiled in the way/ Ps. cxix. 1 ; and again, 
' Blessed are the pure in heart/ Mat. v. 8. 

Obs. 2. That a pure religion should be kept undefiled. A holy life 
and a bounteous heart are ornaments to the gospel. Keligion is not 
adorned with ceremonies, but purity and charity. The apostle 
speaketh of making the doctrine of God our Saviour comely, _ Titus 
ii. 10. It is with us either to credit or to stain our religion : 

* Wisdom is/ or should be, 'justified of her children/ Mat. xi. 19. 
By the innocency of their lives they bring a glory to their way. So 
also a bountiful man is an honour to his profession, whereas a 
covetous man sullieth it ; as the apostle saith, Rom. v. 7, ' For a 


righteous man would one scarcely die, but for a good man would one 
even dare to die.' A man of a severe innocency is hated rather than 
loved, but a good or bountiful man gaineth upon the hearts of others ; 
they would even die for him. 

Obs. 3. A great fruit and token of piety is provision for the 
afflicted. In the 25th of Matthew you see acts of charity fill up the 
bill. Works of mercy do well become them that do expect or have 
received mercy from God; this is to be like God, and we should 
never come to him, or go away from him, but with somewhat of his 
image in our hearts : dissimilitude and disproportion is the ground of 
dislike. Now one of the chief glories in the Godhead is the un- 
weariedness of his love and bounty : he visits the fatherless and the 
widows ; so should we : the spirit of our religion is forgiving ; and 
therefore the cruel hard heart is made by Paul a kind of ' denying the 
faith/ 1 Tim. v. 8. 

Obs. 4. Charity singleth out the objects that are most miserable. 
The apostle saith, ' the widows and fatherless,' and that * in their 
afflictions/ That is true bounty when we give to those that are not 
able to make requital : Luke xiv. 12-14, ' When thou makest a 
dinner or supper, call not thy brethren, or friends, or rich neigh 
bours/ &c. We cannot do the least duty for God but we have some 
self aims. We make our giving many times to be a kind of selling, and 
mind our advantage in our charity. Oh ! consider, our sweetest influ 
ences should fall on the lower grounds : to visit the rich widows is but 
courtesy ; to visit the poor, and that in their affliction, that is charity. 

Obs. 5. This charity to the poor must be performed as worship, out 
of respect to God. The apostle saith to visit the fatherless is 0pijcr- 
fceta, worship. A Christian hath a holy art of turning duties of the 
second fc table into duties of the first ; and in respect to man, they 
worship God. So Heb. xiii, 16, 'To do good, and to communicate, 
forget not ; for with such sacrifice God is well pleased/ To do good 
is a duty of the second table ; and sacrifice, while it was a part of 
God's worship, a duty of the first. Well, then, alms should be 
sacrifice ; not a sin-offering, but a thank-offering to God. This is the 
difference between a Christian and others, he can make commerce 
worship. In common business he acteth upon reasons and principles 
of religion, and whatever he doth to man, he doth it for God's sake, 
out of love to God, fear of God. The world is led by interest, and 
they by conscience. The men of the world are tied one to another, 
like Samson's foxes by their tails, by their mutual' intertwisted 
interests ; but they, in all their relations, do what they do as in and 
to the Lord, Eph. v. 22 ; so Eph. vi. 1 ; so ver. 7, et alibi. Well, 
then, we must be tender of the end and reason of our actions in civil 
respects : alms is worship and sacrifice, and therefore not to be offered 
to the idol of our own credit and esteem, or to be done out of private 
ends, but in obedience to God, and for his glory. 

Obs. 6. From that before God. True religion and profession is rather 
for God's eye than man's. It aimeth at the approbation of God, not 
ostentation before men. David saith, Ps. xviii. 23, * I have been 
upright before thee, and kept myself from my iniquity/ That is a 
fruit of true uprightness, to draw all our actions into the presence of 


God, and to do what we do before him. So Ps. xvi. 8, ' I have set 
the Lord always before me/ In every action he was thinking of the 
eye of God ; will this be an action for God's notice and approbation ? 
So Ps. cxix. 168, ' I have kept thy testimonies ; for all my ways are 
before thee/ He maketh that to be the reason of the integrity of his 
obedience, ' My ways are before thee ;' under the observance and 
inspection of God. Hypocrites cannot endure such thoughts. The 
prodigal was for a far country, away from his father ; and it is said, 
Job xiii. 16, 'A hypocrite will not come before him ; 7 that is, be 
under God's eye and sight. 

Obs. 7. From that before God and the Father. We serve God 
most comfortably when we consider him as a Father in Christ. Lord, 
Lord, is not half so sweet as Our Father. Duty in the covenant of 
grace is far more comfortable, not only as we have more help, but 
because it is done in a sweeter relation. We are not servants, but 
have received the adoption of sons. Get an interest in God, that his 
work may be sweet to you. Mercies yield the more sweetness when 
they come not only from a Creator, but a Father ; and duties are done 
with the more confidence when we can come into the presence of God, 
not as servants, but sons. A servant may use greater industry and 
pains than a son, and yet please less. 

Obs. 8. The relieving of the afflicted and the unspotted life must 
go together. As the apostle coupleth them, so doth Christ : Mat. v. 
7, 8, ' Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy ;' and then 
presently, ' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' 
A man that is charitable and not pure, is better to others than to 
himself. Goodness and righteousness are often coupled in the Old 
Testament : Micah vi. 8 ; so Dan. iv. 27. It is strange that men should 
so grossly separate what God hath joined. There are some that are 
' pure in their own eyes,' but content themselves with a cheap and 
barren profession. Others are vicious and loose, and they are all for 
acts of charity and mercy ; and so covetousness lurketh under the veil 
of profession on the one side, and on the other men hope to recom 
pense God for the excesses of an ill life by a liberal profusion, as if 
the emptying of the purse were a way to ease the conscience. Well, 
then, let the hand be open and the heart pure. You must ' visit the 
fatherless and the widow/ and ' keep yourselves unspotted from the 

Obs. 9. The world is a dirty, defiling thing. A man can hardly 
walk here but he shall defile his garments. (1.) The very things of 
the world leave a taint upon our spirits. By worldly objects we soon 
grow worldly. It is hard to touch pitch and not to be defiled. We 
see in other things that our minds receive a tincture from those objects 
with which we usually converse. Christ prayeth, John xvii. 15, 'I 
pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but keep them 
from the evil of the world/ Christ knew what a temptation it is to 
live here in the midst of honours, and pleasures, and profits. It was 
a happy thing that Paul could say, Gal. vi. 14, ' I am crucified to 
the world, and the world is crucified to me/ The world hated him, 
and he did not care for the world. The world is crucified to many, 
but they are not crucified to it ; they follow after a flying shadow. 

VOL. iv. M 


(2.) The lusts of the world, they stain the glory and deface the excel 
lency of your natures : ' Corruption is in the world through lust/ 
2 Peter i. 4. Your affections were made for higher purposes than to 
be melted out in lusts. To love the pleasures of the world, it is as if 
you should defile your bed with a blackamoor, and be so sick of lust 
as to hug nastiness. and embrace the dung, Lam. iv. 5. (3.) The men 
of the world are sooty, dirty creatures. We cannot converse with 
them but they leave their filthiness upon us. The apostle saith, 
2 Tim. ii. 21, ' If a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel 
of honour, sanctified and meet for the master's use/ From these, that 
is, from the leprosy of evil examples, for the apostle speaketh of those 
vessels of dishonour that are in the great house of God, the world, 
which a man cannot touch without defilement. A man cannot hold 
any communion with them, but he shall be the worse for them. 
' These are spots in your love-feasts,' Jude 12 ; they defile the 

Well, then (1.) Let us more and more grow weary of the world. 
A man that would always live here is like a scullion that loveth to lie 
among the pots. In those blessed mansions that are above, ' there 
shall in no wise enter anything that defileth, neither whatsoever 
worketh abomination,' Kev. xxi. 27. There we shall have pure com 
pany, and be out of the reach and danger of temptations. There are 
no devils in heaven ; they were cast out long since, 2 Peter ii. 6, and 
you are to fill up their vacant rooms and places. The devil, when he 
was not fit for heaven, he was cast into the world, a fit place for 
misery, sin, arid torment ; and now this is the devil's walk. He com- 
passeth the earth to and fro. Who would be in love with a place of 
bondage ? with Satan's diocese ? that odd, dirty corner of the uni 
verse, where a man can hardly move back or forth, but he shall be 
defiled? (2.) While we live here, let us keep ourselves as unspotted 
as we can. In a place of snares, we should walk with the more care : 
Kev. iii. 4, 'There are a few names that have not defiled their 
garments ; they shall walk with me in white.' There are some, though 
few, that escape the taint of the world. You are kept by the power 
of God ; yet, in some sense, you must keep yourselves : you are to 
' watch, and keep your garments,' Kev. xvi. 15. You are to act faith 
upon the victory of Christ, by which ' he hath overcome the world/ 1 
John v, 4. You are to commend yourselves to God in prayer, that he 
may keep and ' present you faultless before the presence of his glory/ 
Jude 24. You are to discourse upon the promises, and to work them 
into your hearts by spiritual reasoning, that you may ' escape the cor 
ruption that is in the world through lust/ 2 Peter i. 4, and 2 Cor. vii. 
1. You are to avoid communion with the lepers of the world : we 
should learn a holy pride, 1 and scorn such company. A man that 
keepeth ill company is like him that walketh in the sun, tanned 
insensibly. All these things you must do. It is a folly to think 
that because the power is from God, therefore the care should not be 
in ourselves. 

1 ' Discamus sanctam superbiam, et sciamus nos esse illis meliores.' Hieron. 



VER. 1. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 
Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 

This chapter containeth two special admonitions, which were very 
needful as the state of things then were. The first is against ' re 
spect of persons/ because of outward advantages, especially in church 
matters. The other is against a vain opinion and ostentation of 
faith, where there was no presence or testimony of works to commend 
it. He dealeth in the former admonition from the 1st verse to 
the 14th. And in the latter from thence to the end of the 

In this 1st verse he propoundeth the matter to them which he 
would have them to avoid, * respect of persons ' because of some out 
ward excellency, which hath no kind of affinity or pertinency at all to 
religion. The sense will be most clear by a particular explication of 
the words. 

My brethren. An usual compilation throughout the epistle. 
Some think he chiefly intendeth in this expression the presbyters and 
deacons, who had a great hand (say they) in giving every one their con 
venient places. But I know no reason why we should so restrain it, 
it being applied in all the other passages of the epistle to the whole 
body of those to whom he wrote ; and here, where he dissuadeth 
them from respect of persons, it seemeth to have a special respect, as 
noting the equal interest of all Christians in the same Father. 

Have not the faith. Faith is not taken strictly, but more generally 
for the profession of Christian religion, or the manifestations of the 
grace of Christ in the souls of his people. The meaning is, have not 
grace, have not religion, &c. 

Of our Lord Jesus Christ. He doth not mean the personal faith of 
Christ, or, as some accommodate the expression, faith wrought by 
Christ. This manner of speech doth not note the author so much as 
the object. Faith of Christ, in the intent of the scripture, is faith in 
Christ ; as Gral. ii. 20, ' I live by the faith of the Son of God ; ' so 
Eph. iii. 12, ' We have confidence, and access, by the faith of him ; ' 
so Phil. iii. 9, ' The righteousness which is through the faith of 
Christ ; ' and so elsewhere. Now Christ is here called our Lord, 
because it is the proper term for him as mediator and head of the 
Church, and by virtue of our common and equal interest in him : the 
head is dishonoured in the disrespect of the members. 

The Lord of glory. Some read, ( The faith of the glory of Christ 
with respect of persons ; ' that is, do not measure the glorious faith by 
these outward and secular advantages, or ' the faith of our glorious 
Lord Jesus Christ ; ' for we supply the word Lord, which is but once 
in the original, partly because he is called so in other places : 1 Cor. 
ii. 8, ' They would not have crucified the Lord of glory ;' partly because 
it is fitly repeated out of the context ; partly because in this place 
it hath the force of an argument. Christianity being a relation to 
the Lord of glory, putteth honour enough upon men, though other 
wise poor and despicable ; and if men did believe Christ were 


glorious, they would not so easily despise those in whom there is the 
least of Christ. 

With respect of persons, evrrpoo-coTroXrjtyLais. Respect of persons is 
had when, in the same cause, we give more or less to any one than is 
meet, because of something in his person which hath no relation to 
that cause. The word properly signifieth accepting of one's face or 
outside, and so noteth a respect to others out of a consideration of some 
external glory that we find in them. The phrase, when it is used in 
the Old Testament, is rendered by the Septuagint by Oav/jud^v TO 
7rp6cra)7rov, 1 wondering at a man's face, as being overcome and dazzled 
at the beauty of it ; which probably gave occasion to that expression of 
St Jude, ver. 16, Oav^dfyvres irpoawira, which we render, ' having 
men's persons in admiration because of advantage/ But, before we 
go on, we must rightly pitch and state the offence from which our 
apostle dissuadeth, for otherwise absurdities will follow. Civility and 
humanity calleth for outward respect and reverence to them that 
excel in the world. To rise up to a rich man is not simply evil. If 
all difference of persons, and respect to them, were sinful, there 
would be no place for government and mastership. Therefore I shall 
inquire : 

I. What respect of persons is sinful. 

II. The particular abuse which the apostle taxeth and noteth in this 

First, What respect of persons is sinful? There is a holy and 
warrantable respect of persons either by God or men : (1.) By God ; 
he is said to ' accept the faces ' of his people, Gen. xix. 21 naschati 
panecha, so it is in the Hebrew ; and so elsewhere God is often said 
to respect their persons ; their persons first, and then their services. 
(2.) By men, when we prefer others out of a due cause, their age, 
calling, gifts, graces : yea, it is lawful to put a respect upon them be 
cause of that outward glory and excellency wherewith God hath 
furnished them. There is a respect proper and due to their persons, 
though not so much for their own sakes as for the bounty of God to 
them ; as they that bowed before the ass that carried about the rites 
of Isis, non tibi, sed religioni, did obeisance to the religion, not the 

But then there is a vicious respect of persons, when the judgment 
is blinded by some external glory and appearance, so that we cannot 
discern truth or right, and a cause is over-balanced by such foreign 
circumstances as have no affinity with it. Thus it is said, Lev. 
xix. 15, ' Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour 
the mighty ; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.' 
Neither swayed with foolish pity, on the one hand, nor with respect to 
might, power, friendship, greatness, on the other ; as usually those are 
the two prejudices against the execution of justice : either carnal pity 
saith, He is a poor man, or else carnal fear saith, He is a great man ; 
and so the outward accidents of life are rather valued than the merits 
of the cause. So Deut. i. 17, ' Thou shalt not respect persons in 
judgment, but hear the small as well as great/ 

Secondly, What is this particular offence which the apostle calleth 

1 See Cartw. in Gen. xix. 21. 


the ' having the faith of Christ in respect of persons/ which was the 
sin of those times ? I answer (1.) In the general, their having too 
great a care of these differences and outward regards in their church 
administrations, both in their worship, and courts, and censures, as we 
shall show in the next verse. In the things of God all are equal ; 
rich and poor stand upon the same level and terms of advantage. Our 
salvation is called ' a common salvation,' Jiule 3 ; and the faith of all, 
for the essence and object of it, 'a like precious faith,' 2 Peter i. 1. 
But now their respects were only carried out to those that lived in 
some splendour in the world, with a manifest and sensible contempt 
of their poor brethren, as if they were unworthy their company and 
converse ; as appeareth not only by the present context, but by chap, 
i. 8, 9, where he comforteth the poor despised brethren, showing that 
grace was their preferment; and 1 Cor. x. 1, from ver. 19 onward, 
* Every one took his own supper ; ' ver. 22, but ' despised the church 
of God ; ' that is, excluded the poor, who were the church as well as 
they. So that mark, there was not only a difference made between 
the poor and the rich, but great reverence showed to the one, with 
a proud contempt of the other. (2.) More particularly (1st.) 
They over-esteemed the rich, doing all the grace and reverence they 
could devise in the congregation and courts of judicature ; yea, they 
went so far as to esteem the wicked rich above the godly poor, honour 
ing and observing those that were apt to hale them to the judgment- 
seats. (2d.) They debased the poor, not considering them according 
to their eminency in grace and high station in Christianity ; passing 
by the appearance of God in them, without any mark or notice ; yea, 
they offered injury and contumely to them, because of their outward 
abasure and despicableness, out of a proud insolence, scarce behaving 
themselves towards them as men, much less as Christians. 

The notes are these: 

Obs. 1. That respect of persons in religious matters is a sin. We 
maybe many ways guilty of it: (1.) By making external things, 
not religion, the ground of our respect and affection. The apostle 
saith, 2 Cor. v. 16, ' Henceforth know we no man after the flesh ; 
yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth 
know we him no more.' Knowing after the flesh is to love and 
esteem any one out of secular and outward advantages. Paul, when 
a Pharisee, looked for a Messiah coming in outward pomp and glory ; 
but being converted, he had laid aside those fleshly thoughts and 
apprehensions. It is true what Solomon saith, 'Wisdom with an 
inheritance is good.' When grace and outward excellency meet to 
gether, it niaketh the person more lovely ; but the ground and rise 
of our affection should be grace. Love to the brethren is an evi 
dence, but we should be careful of the reason of that love, that 
we love them qua brethren, because of that of God which we see in 
them. That saying of Tertuilian is usual, We must not judge of 
faith by persons, but of persons by faith. 1 (2.) When we do not carry 
out the measure and proportion of affection according to the measures 
and proportions of grace, and pitch our respects there where we find 
the ground of love most eminent. David's delights were * to the saints, 

1 ' Nori judicamus ex personis fidem, sed ex fide personas.' Tertul. 


and the excellent of the earth/ Ps. xvi. 3 ; that is, to those which were 
most eminent among them. Some prefer a cold, neutral profession 
before real grace, will not own mean Christians by any familiarity and 
converse, though the power and brightness of God's image shine forth 
most clearly in them. The apostle saith, 1 Cor. xii. 23, ' We bestow 
most honour on the uncomely parts/ Those who have least of worldly 
pomp and grace, if they excel in Christ, should have most of Christian 
respect and honour. (3.) When we can easily make greatness a cover 
for baseness, and excuse sin by honour, whereas that is the aggrava 
tion ; the advantage of greatness maketh sin the more eminent and 
notable. It is good to note with what freedom the scriptures speak of 
wicked persons in the highest honour : Dan. iv. 17, he giveth king 
doms ' to the basest of men ;' the world cannot think as basely of the 
children of God, but the word speaketh as basely of them. The 
Turkish empire, as great as it is, saith Luther, it is but a morsel, which 
the master of the house throweth to dogs. 1 David maketh it a de 
scription of a godly man, Ps. xv. 4, ' In whose eyes a vile person is 
contemned, but he honoureth them that fear the Lord";'/ let him be 
what he will be, if he be a wicked person, he is to them a vile person. 
How low was that evil king in the eyes of the holy prophet ! 2 Kings 
iii. 14, ' Were it not that I regarded the presence of Jehoshaphat, the 
King of Judah, I would not look towards thee, nor see thee/ (4.) 
When we yield religious respects, give testimonies to men for advan 
tage, and, under pretence of religion, servilely addict ourselves to men 
for base ends ; this Jude noteth in that expression, Jude 16, ' Having 
men's persons in admiration because of advantage/ The apostle 
speaketh of some heretics that were otherwise proud, but yet for ad 
vantage fawning and servile, as usually none so base-spirited as the 
proud are, when it may make for their worldly profit. 2 It was observed 
of our late bishops, by one of their own party, 3 that (though they were 
otherwise of a proud, insulting spirit) they were willing to take Ham's 
curse upon them, that they might domineer in the tents of Shem ; to 
be servi servorum, slaves to great men-servants, that they might bear 
rule over the tribe of Levi. But to return ; this is a clear respect of 
persons, when men keep at a distance, and are proud to the poor ser 
vants of God, but can crouch, and comply, and do anything for profit 
and advantage. It was a brave resolution that of Elihu, Job xxxii. 
21, ' I cannot accept any man's person ; I know not to give flattering 
titles/ (5.) When church administrations are not carried on with an 
indifferent and even hand to rich and poor, either by way of exhorta 
tion or censure. By way of exhortation : Christ died for both, and we 
must have a care of both, Exod. xxx. 15 ; the poor and the rich were 
to give the same atonement for their souls ; their souls were as pre 
cious to Christ as those that glitter most in outward pomp. The 
apostle saith, ' We are debtors both to the bond and free/ Kom. i. 14. 
Christ saith to Peter, ' Feed my lambs,' as well as ' Feed my sheep/ 
John xxi. So for censure : Micaiah feared not Ahab, nor John Baptist 

1 ' Turcicum imperium, quantum quantum est, mica est quam paterfamilias canibus 
projicit.' Luth. 

1 Ut dominetur aliis prius servit ; curvatur obsequio ut honors donetur.' Ambros. 
3 Dr Jackson in his Treatise of Faith, part ii. c. 26, p. 457. 


Herod and the Pharisees. It was an excellent commendation that 
which they gave to Christ, Mark xii. 14, ' Thou carest for no man, 
and regardest the person of no man, but teachest the way of God in 
truth.' Ah ! we should learn of our Lord and Master. We are never 
true ministers of Jesus Christ till we deal alike with persons that are 
alike in themselves. (6.) When we contemn the truths of God be 
cause of the persons that bring them to us. Usually we regard the 
man rather than the matter, and not the golden treasure so much as 
the earthen vessel ; x it was the prejudice cast upon Christ, ' Is not this 
the carpenter's son ? ' We look upon the cup rather than the liquor, 
and consider not what, but tvho bringeth it. Matheo Langi, 2 Arch 
bishop of Saltzburg, told every one that the reformation of the mass 
was needful, the liberty of meats convenient, and to be disburdened 
of so many commands of men just ; but that a poor monk (meaning 
Luther) should reform all was not to be endured. So in Christ's time 
the question was common, ' Do any of the rulers believe in him ? ' 
Thus you see we are apt to despise excellent things, because of the 
despicableness of the instrument : ' The poor man delivered the 
city' (saith Solomon) ' but he was forgotten/ Eccles. ix. 15, 16. The 
same words have a different acceptation, because of the different esteem 
and value of the persons engaged in them. Erasmus observed, that 
what was accounted orthodox in the fathers, was condemned as heretical 
in Luther. 3 Thus you see how many ways in religious matters we 
may be guilty of respect of persons. 

Use. Oh ! consider these things. It is a heinous evil, and a na 
tural evil. We are marvellous apt to think that there is no emin- 
ency but what consisteth in outward greatness. This is to disvalue 
the members of Christ ; yea, to disvalue Christ himself : ' He that 
despiseth the poor,' though they be but the common poor, ' reproacheth 
their maker/ Prov. xvii. 5. But to despise poor Christians that are 
again renewed to the image of God, that is higher ; and it is highest 
of all when a Christian doth despise Christians ; as it is far worse for 
a scholar to disvalue scholarship, or a soldier his profession, than for 
other men. It is nothing so bad in worldly men, that are acquainted 
with no higher glory. Oh ! consider what a dishonour it is to Christ 
for you to prefer mammon before him, as if wealth could put a greater 
value upon a person than grace. 

Obs. 2. That Jesus Christ is a glorious Lord, not only in regard of his 
own person, which is 'the brightness of his Father's glory/ Heb. i. 3, or in 
regard of his present exaltation, whereby he hath ' a name above all 
names/ Phil: ii. 9. Not only as he enjoyeth it in himself, but as he 
dispenseth it to others. He will give you as much glory as your hearts 
can wish for. He putteth an honour upon you for the present. You 
may be sure you shall not be disgraced by him, either in your hope ; 
it is such as ' shall not make you ashamed/ Rom. v. 5 : false wor 
shippers may be ashamed, as Baal's were, of their trust in their god, 

1 ' Omnia dicta tanti existimantur, quantus est ipse qui dixerit, nee tarn dictionis vim 
atque virtutem quam dictatoris cogitant dignitatem.' Salvia. contra A varit., lib. i. 

2 Hist, of Council of Trent. Edit. Lond. 1629, p. 55. 

3 ' Compertum est damnata ut hseretica in libris Lutheri, quae in Bernardi, Augustin- 
ique libris ut orthodoxa immo et pia leguntur.' Erasm. in Epist. ad Card. Mogunt. 


1 Kings xviii ; or of your enjoyments : you are ( made comely in his 
comeliness/ Ezek. xvi. 1 4 ; and the church is called ' the fairest among 
women/ Cant. v. 9 ; or of your service : your work is an ornament to 
you. God himself is ' glorious in holiness/ Exod. xv. 11. But for the 
future you will always find him a Lord of glory ; sometimes in this 
world, after you have been a long time beclouded under disgrace, re 
proach, and suffering. When hair is shaven, it cometh the thicker, 
and with a new increase ; so, when the razor of censure hath made 
your heads bare, and brought on the baldness of reproach, be not dis 
couraged : God hath a time to ' bring forth your righteousness as the 
noon-day/ Ps. xxxvii. 6, by an apparent conviction to dazzle arid dis 
courage your adversaries. The world was well changed when Con- 
stantine kissed the hollow of Paphnutius' eye, that was erewhile put 
out for Christ. Scorn is but a little cloud that is soon blown over. 
But if Christ do not cause your enemies to bow to you, yet he will give 
you honour among his people ; for he hath promised to honour those 
that honour him, 1 Sam. ii. 30 ; and he is able to do it, for the hearts 
of all men are in his hands, and he can dispose of their respects at 
pleasure. That sentence of Solomon intimateth that Gcd is resolved 
upon it, ' A man shall be commended according to his wisdom/ Prov. 
xii. 8. But, however, suppose all this were not, in the next world you 
shall be sure to find Christ a Lord of glory, when he cometh to put the 
same glory upon the saints which the Father hath put upon himself, 
John xvii. 22, 24. ' In that day/ as the apostle saith, ' he will be 
glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe/ 2 Thes. 
i. 10. It is a notable expression ; not only admired in himself, but in 
his saints ; as if he accounted the social glory which resulteth to his 
person from the glory of his children a greater honour to him than his 
own personal glory. Well, then, look to your thoughts of Christ. 
How do you consider him ? as a Lord of glory ? The apostle saith, 
' To them that believe, Christ is precious/ 1 Peter ii. 7, in the ori 
ginal, Ti/ir^, an honour. They account no honour like the honour of 
having relation to Christ. You will know this disposition by two 
notes : (1.) All other excellencies will be as nothing. Birth, ' an 
Hebrew of the Hebrews ; ' dignity, ' a Pharisee ; ' moral accomplish 
ments, ' touching the law, blameless ; ' beauty and esteem in the world, 
' if any man might have confidence in the flesh, I much more ; ' yet 
* I count all things but dung and loss, for the excellency of the know 
ledge of Christ/ Phil. iii. 8. (2.) All other abasures will be nothing: 
Taireivos, the ' brother of base degree ' may count his baseness for Christ 
a preferment; let him ' rejoice in that he is exalted/ James i. 9. So 
of Moses it is said, he 'esteemed the reproaches of Christ better 
treasures than the riches of Egypt/ Heb. xi. 26. Mark, he did not 
only endure the reproaches of Christ, but counted them treasures, to be 
reckoned among his honours and things of value. So Thuanus re- 
porteth of Ludovicus Marsacus, a knight of France, when he was led, 
with other martyrs that were bound with cords, to execution, and he 
for his dignity was not bound, he cried, ' Give me my chains too ; let 
me be a knight of the same order/ l Certainly it is an honour to be 

1 'Cur non et me quoque torque donas, et insisrnis Luius ordinis militem creas?' 
Thuan. Hist. 


vile for God, 2 Sam. vi. 22. To a gracious spirit, nothing is base but 
sin and tergiversation ; disgrace itself is honourable, when it is endured 
for the Lord of glory. 

Obs. 3. Those that count Christ glorious will account Christianity 
and faith glorious. The apostle maketh it an argument here, ' The 
faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.' He that prizeth 
the person of Christ prizeth all his relatives. As among men, 
when we love a man, we love his picture, and whatsoever hath re 
lation to him. Grace is but a ray, a derived excellency from Christ. 
A Christian is much known by his esteem. What, then, do you ac 
count most excellent in yourselves or others ? (1.) In yourselves. 
What is your greatest honour and treasure ? What would you desire 
for yourselves or others ? What would you part with first ? Theodo- 
sius valued his Christianity above his empire. Luther said, he had 
rather be Christian/us rusticus than ethnicus Alexander a Christian 
clown than a Pagan emperor. (2.) In others. Who are most precioua 
with you ? those in whom you see most of the image of Christ ? We 
use to honour the servants of glorious kings : Prov. xii. 26, ' The 
righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.' Who is the best 
neighbour to you ? those that fear God ? and do you like them best, 
when their conferences are most religious ? You shall see this inde 
finite proverb is restrained by another, Prov. xix. 1, where Solomon 
intimateth that the righteous poor man is better than his rich neigh 
bour. There, indeed, is the trial. Communion with holy and graci 
ous spirits is far better than the countenance and respects of a great 
man to you. Oh ! do not despise those jewels of Christ that lie in the 
dirt and dunghill. David could see silver wings in those doves that 
had lain among the pots. 

Ver. 2-4. For if there come into your assembly a man ivith a gold 
ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile 
raiment ; and you have respect to him that iveareth the gay clothing, 
and say to him, Sit thou here in a good place ; and say to the poor, 
Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool ; are ye not then partial 
in yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts? 

I have put all these verses together, because they make but one 
entire sentence. The apostle proveth how guilty they were of this 
evil from whence he dissuadeth them, by a usual practice of theirs in 
their ecclesiastical conventions. 

If there come into your assembly. The word in the original is, 
et? awaytoyrjv, ' into your synagogue/ by which some understand their 
Christian assembly for worship : but that is not so probable, because 
the Christian assembly is nowhere, that I can remember, expressed 
by avi>a<ya)jrj, synagogue, but by eK/c\r](Tia, church ; and in the church- 
meeting there may be, without sin, several seats and places appointed 
for men of several ranks and dignities in the world ; and it is a mis 
take to apply the censure of the apostle to such a practice. Others 
apply it to any common convention and meeting for the deciding of 
controversies, establishing of public order, and disposing of the offices 
of the church ; and by synagogue they understand the court where 
they judged all causes belonging to themselves. 1 Austin seemeth to 

1 ' Per convention significantur ccetus seu cougregationes public* profanee, in qnibus 


incline to this sense for one part of it, namely, for a meeting to dis 
pose of all offices that belonged to the church, which were not to be 
intrusted to men according to their outward quality, but inward 
accomplishments ; l there being the same abuse in fashion in the primi 
tive times which, to our grief, hath been found among us, that men 
were chosen and called to office out of a respect to their worldly lustre 
rather than their spiritual endowments, and the gold ring was pre 
ferred before the rich faith, a practice wholly inconsonant with 
Christian religion and with the dispensation of those times ; God 
himself having immediately called fishermen, and persons otherwise 
despicable, certainly of little note and remark in the world, to the 
highest offices and employments in the church. If we take the words 
in this restrained sense, for a court or meeting to dispose of ecclesiastical 
offices and functions, the context may be accommodated with a very 
proper sense, for, according to their offices, so had they places in all 
church-meetings ; and therefore the apostle Paul useth that phrase, 
' He that occupieth the room of the unlearned/ 1 Cor. xiv. 16 ; or, as 
it is in the original, TOTTOV ISiaiTov, the place of the private person. 
The elders they sat by themselves, 2 then others that were more learned, 
then the ignorants ; the church herein following the custom of the 
synagogue, which (as the author of the Comment upon the Epistles, 
that goeth under the name of Ambrose, observeth) was wont to place 
the elders in chairs, the next in rank on benches, the novices at their 
feet on mats ; 3 and thence came the phrase of * sitting at the feet ' of 
any one for a disciple, as it is said Paul was ' brought up at the feet 
of Gamaliel/ And for the women, Grotius telleth us, that the first 
place was given to the widows of one man, then to the virgins, then 
to the matrons. 4 Now, because they assigned these places preposter 
ously, out of a regard of wealth rather than grace, and said to the 
rich, ' Sit thou here, /caXco?, honourably/ and to the poor, however 
qualified, ' Stand thou there, or sit at my feet/ the place of learners 
and idiots, the apostle doth with such severity tax the abuse, to wit, 
their carnal partiality in distributing the honours of the church. 
Thus you see the context will go on smoothly. But I must not limit 
the text to this one use of the court or synagogue ; and therefore, if 
we take in the other uses of deciding all causes and differences be 
tween the members of the Church, &c., every passage in the context 
will have its full light and explication ; for the apostle speaketh of 
judging, and of such respect of persons as is condemned by the law, 
ver. 9, which is an accepting of persons in judgment, Lev. xix. 5. 
And therefore I understand this synagogue of an assembly met to do 
justice. In which thought I am confirmed by the judgment and 

conveniebant Christian! ut justis legibus et arbitris domesticas vel politicas communesque 
lites dirimerent.' Hevar. in loc. 

1 ' Nee sane, quantum arbitror, putandum est leve ease peccatum in personarum accep- 
tione habere fidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, si illam distantiam sedendi ac standi ad 
honores ecclesiasticos referamus ; quis enim ferat eligi divitem ad sedem honoris ecclesisB, 
contempto paupere instructiore atque sanctiore.' Aug. Epist. 29. 

2 ' President probati quique seniores, honoremistum non pretio sed testimonio adepti.' 
Tertul. in Apol. 

3 ' Synagogse traditio est ut sedentes disputent, seniores dignitate in cathedris, sequentes 
in subselliis, novissimi in pavimento super mattas.' Ambros. in primam ad Cor. 

4 ' Primus locus viduis univiris, proximus virginibus, deinde matronis.' Grot, in loc. 


reasons of a late learned writer, 1 who proveth that it was the fashion 
of the Jews to keep court in their synagogues ; and therefore do we 
so often read those phrases. Mat. x. 17, ' They shall scourge you in 
their synagogues ;' Acts xxii. 19, ' Beaten in every synagogue ;' Acts 
xxvi. 11, * I punished them in every synagogue,' because, as he saith, 
where sentence was given, there justice was executed ; and it is pro 
bable that, being converted to Christianity, they still held the same 
course. And it is very notable, which he quoteth out of Maimonides' 
Sanhedrim, cap. 21, ' That it is expressly provided by the Jews' 
constitutions, that when a poor man and a rich plead together, the 
rich shall not be bidden to sit down, and the poor stand, or sit in a 
worse place, but both sit, or both stand : ' which is a circumstance 
that hath a clear respect to the phrases used by the apostle here ; and 
the rather to be noted, because our apostle writeth to ' the twelve 
tribes/ Hebrews by nation, with whom these customs were familiar 
and of known use. So that out of all we may collect that the syna 
gogue here spoken of is not the church assembly, but the ecclesiastical 
court or convention for the decision of strifes, wherein they were not 
to favour the cause of the rich against the poor ; which is an expli 
cation that cleareth the whole context, and preventeth the incon 
veniences of the received exposition, which so far pleadeth the cause 
of the poor as to deny civility and due respect to the rich and 
honourable in Christian assemblies. 

A man with a gold ring, xpvaoSaKTv^Los, l a gold-fingered man,' 
that is the force of the original word. The gold ring was a badge of 
honour and nobility ; therefore Judah had his signet, Gen. xxxviii. 
18-25 ; and Pharaoh, as a token that Joseph was promoted to honour, 
' took off his ring from his hand and put it upon Joseph's, and arrayed 
him in vestures of fine linen/ Gen. xlii. So Ahasuerus dealt with 
Mordecai, Esther viii. 8. 

In goodly apparel This also was a note of dignity : Gen. 
xxvii. 15, ' Rebecca took the goodly garment of her son Esau ; ' by 
which some understand 2 the gorgeous priestly ornaments which be 
longed to him as having the birthright. So when the prodigal 
returned, the father, to do him honour, calleth for the best robe and 
a ring ; some marks and ornaments of honour which were put on 
upon solemn days. But the luxury of after-times made the use more 
common. It is said of the rich man in the Gospel, Luke xvi. 19, 
that he was ' clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared deliciously 
every day.' 

A poor man in vile raiment. In the original, ej-dfjTi pvTrapa, 'filthy, 
sordid raiment ; ' it is the same word which the Septuagint use in 
Zech. iii. 3, 4, where mention is made of the high priest's ' filthy 
garments/ which was a figure of the calamitous state of the church ; 
where the Septuagint have Ij^dria pvirapd. 

And you have respect to him that iveareth the gay clothing.- 
'E7ri(3\e7riv is to gaze and observe with some admiration and special 

1 Herbert Thorndike, in his book of the Right of the Church in a Christian State, 
printed at London, 1649. See pp. 38, 39. 

2 Lightfoot in Gen. 


Sit thou here in a good place, /eaXw?, ' in an honourable or worthy 
place ; ' and so it noteth, either the rash disposal of the honours of 
the church into their hands, or the favouring of them in their cause, 
as before. 

Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool. Expressions of con 
tempt and disrespect. Standing or sitting at the feet was the 
posture of the younger disciples. Sometimes standing is put for 
those that stood upon their defence ; as Ps. cxxx. 3, ' If thou shouldst 
mark what is done, who can stand ? ' that is, in curia, in court, as 
those that make a bold defence. So Eph. vi. 13, ' Take the armour 
of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and when 
you have done all, to stand ; ' that is, before God's tribunal : it is an 
allusion to the posture of men in courts. This different respect 
of poor and rich bringeth to my mind a passage of Bernard, who, 
when he chanced to espy a poor man meanly apparelled, he would say 
to himself, Truly, Bernard, this man with more patience beareth his 
cross than thou : but if he saw a rich man delicately clothed, then he 
would say, It may be that this man, under his delicate clothing, hath 
a better soul than thou hast under thy religious habit. An excellent 
charity, and a far better practice than theirs in the text, who said to 
him in the goodly raiment, ' sit/ to the poor, ' stand.' To the rich 
they assigned ' a good place/ but to the poor the room ' under the 

Are ye not partial in yourselves? This clause is severally ren 
dered, because of the different significations of the word SiaKpiOfjre. 
Some turn it without an interrogation, thus, ' Ye were not judged in 
yourselves, but,' &c. ; as if the sense were Though they were not 
judged themselves, yet they judged others by these inevident signs. 
But it is better with an interrogation ; and yet then there are different 
readings. Some thus, ' Are ye not condemned in yourselves ? ' that 
is, do not your own consciences fall upon you ? Certainly the 
apostle applieth the fact to their consciences by this vehement and 
rousing question ; but I think SiatcpidriTe must not be here rendered 
condemned. Others thus, ' Have ye not doubted or questioned the 
matter in yourselves ? ' for that is another sense of the word in the 
text. But here it seemeth most harsh and incongruous. Another 
sense of the word is, to make a difference ; so it is often taken : 
Sicucpivo^evoi, ' making a difference/ Jude 22 ; ovSev Sietcplve, ' He put 
no difference/ Acts xv. 9 ; and so it may be fitly rendered here, 
' Have ye not made a difference ? ' that is, an unjust difference, out of 
carnal affection, rather than any true judgment. And therefore, for 
more perspicuity, we explain, rather than interpret, when we render, 
Are ye not partial ? It is an appeal to their consciences in making 
such a difference : Are ye not counterpoised with perverse respects ? 
Many times we may know the quality of an action by the verdict of 
conscience. Is not this partiality ? Doth not conscience tell you it is 
making a difference which God never made ? Sins directly dispro 
portionate to our profession are against conscience, and in such 
practices the heart is divided. There are some disallowing thoughts 
which men strive to smother. 

And become judges of evil thoughts. From the running of the 


words in our translation, I should have guessed the sense to be this, 
That by these outward appearances of meanness and greatness in the 
world, they judged of men's hearts ; which is here expressed by what 
is most transient and inward in the heart, the thoughts. But this 
Kpiral ^idko^io-^wv irov^pwv, is to be taken in quite another sense. l 
The meaning is, you altogether judge perversely, according to the rule 
of your own corrupt thoughts and intentions. Their esteem and their 
ends were not right, but perverted by carnal affections. They esteemed 
outward pomp above spiritual graces, which was contrary to reason 
and religion ; and they proposed to themselves other ends than men 
should do in acts of choice and judicature. They had men's persons 
in admiration, because of advantage ; and did not weigh so much the 
merits of the cause, as the condition of the persons contending. 

From these verses, besides the things touched in the explication, you 
may observe : 

Obs. 1. That men are marvellous apt to honour worldly greatness. 
To a carnal eye nothing else is glorious. A corrupt judgment tainteth 
the practice. A child of God may be guilty of much worldliness, but 
he hath not a worldly judgment. David's heart went astray ; but his 
judgment being right, that brought him about again, Ps. Ixxiii. : com 
pare the whole psalm with the last verse, ' It is good for me to draw 
nigh to God/ Moses' uprightness and love to the people of God 
was from his esteem : Heb. xi. 26, ' Esteeming the reproach of Christ/ 
&c. When men have a right esteem, that will make them prize 
religion, though shrouded under poor sorry weeds ; but when their 
judgments and conceits are prepossessed and occupied with carnal 
principles, nothing seemeth lovely but greatness, and exalted wicked 
ness hath more of their respect than oppressed grace. But you will 
say May we not show honour and respect to men great in the world 
if they are wicked ? 

I answer There is a respect due to the rich, though wicked ; but 
if it be accompanied with a contempt of the mean servants of God, it 
is such a partiality as doth not become grace. More particularly, that 
you may not mistake in your respects to wicked men, take a direction 
or two : (1.) Great men in the world must have respect due to their 
places, but the godly must have your converse and familiarity : ' My 
delight is in the excellent of the earth/ Ps. xvi. 3. A Christian can 
not delight in the converse of a wicked man so as he can in the children 
of God ; besides that the object in the eye of grace hath more loveli 
ness, there is the advantage of sweet counsels and spiritual commun 
ion : ' Comforted by the mutual faith of you and me/ Kom. i. 12. (2.) 
You must be sure not to be ashamed of the meanest Christians, to 
vouchsafe all due respects to them. Onesimus was a mean servant, 
yet, when converted, Paul counted him ' above a servant, as a brother/ 
Philem. 16. So the messengers of the churches are called ' the glory 
of Christ,' 2 Cor. viii. 23, such as Christ will boast of. Christ is 
ashamed of none but those that are ashamed of him : it is glory enough 
in the eye of Christ and grace that they are holy. (3.) You must 
own them for brethren in their greatest abasures and afflictions, as 
Moses did the people of God, Heb. xi. 25. (4.) Be sure to drive on 

1 ' Genetivus Lie non est objecti, sed attributi.' Grot. 


no self-design in your respects ; be not swayed by a corrupt aim at 
advantage : this will make us take Egyptians for Israelites, and per 
versely carry out our esteem. It chiefly concerneth ministers to mind 
this, that they may not gild a potsherd, and comply with wicked 
men for their own gain and advantage : it is a description of false 
teachers, 2 Peter ii. 3, ' Through covetousness they shall, with feigned 
words, make merchandise of you : ' they apply themselves to those 
among whom they may drive on the trade best ; not to the saints, but 
to the rich, and soothe up them ; where there is most gain, not where 
most grace : Hosea vii. 3, ' They made the rulers glad with their lies.' 
Obs. 2. From that are ye not partial f He urgeth them with a 
question. To bring us to a sense of things, it is good to put questions 
to our consciences, because then we do directly return upon our own 
souls. Soliloquies and discourses with yourselves are of excellent ad 
vantage : Ps. iv. 4, ' Commune with your own hearts, and be still/ 
It is a hard matter to bring a man and himself together, to get him 
to speak a word to himself. There are many that live in the world 
for a long time some forty or fifty years and all this while they 
cannot be brought to converse with their own hearts. This question 
ing of conscience will be of use to you in humiliation, faith, and 
obedience. (1.) In your humbling work. There are several questions 
proper to that business, as in the examination of your estate, when 
you bring your ways and the commandment together, which is the 
first rise of humiliation : you will find the soul most awakened by 
asking of questions. Oh! 'what have I done?' Jer. viii. 6. Do 
I walk according to the tenor of this holy law ? Can I say, ' My 
heart is clean?' Prov. xx. 9. Then there is a second question: When 
guilt is found out concerning the rigour of the law, and the sureness 
of wrath, every violation is death : will God be partial for thy sake ? 
* His jealousy shall smoke against that man that saith, I shall have 
peace, though I walk in the way of mine own heart,' Deut. xxix. 19. 
Then there are other questions about the dreadfulness of wrath : Ezek. 
xxii. 14, * Can my heart endure, and my hands be made strong, in the 
days that God shall deal with me ?' Shall I be able to bear up under 
torments without measure and without end ? Can I dwell with those 
devouring burnings ? Then there is a fourth question, after a way of 
escape: 'What shall I do to inherit eternal life?' Acts xvi. 30; 
or, as it is in the prophet, 'Wherewith shall I come before God?' 
Micah vi. 8. With what recompense shall I appease his angry jus 
tice ? Thus you see the whole business of humiliation is carried on 
in these interrogative forms. (2.) For the work of faith, these ques 
tions are serviceable, partly to quicken the soul to the consideration 
of the offer of God ; as when the apostle had disputed of free justifi 
cation, he enf orceth all by a question, ' What shall we then say to these 
things ?' Kom. viii. 31 . Soul, what canst thou object and urge against 
so rich mercies ? Paul, all the while before, had been but drawing 
the bow,^ now he letteth fly the arrow. ' What shall we say ?' Partly 
because it maketh us more sensible of the danger of not believing : Heb. 
ii. 3, * How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' If I 
neglect God's second offer, what will become of me ? Thus it is ;an 
help to the work of faith. (3.) In the work of obedience these ques- 


tions are serviceable ; as when a temptation is like to carry it in the 
soul, it is good to come in with a smart question : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How 
can I do this wickedness, and sin against God ? ' So if the heart drive 
on heavily in duties of worship, ' Offer it now to the governor ; would 
he accept it at my hands ? ' Mai. i. 8. Would I do thus to an earthly 
prince in an earthly matter ? Thus you see questions are of singular 
use in every part of the holy life. Be more frequent in them ; and in 
every matter take occasion to discourse with your own souls. 

Obs. 3. From that judges of evil thoughts. Evils begin first in the 
thoughts: Mat. xv. 19, 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts;' 
that is in the front of that black roll. Affections pervert the thoughts, 
and thoughts stain the judgment. Therefore, when God would 
express the wickedness of the old world, he saith, ' The imagination 
of their thoughts were evil,' Gen. vi. 5. The reason of atheism is 
blasphemy in the thoughts : Ps. x. 4, ' All their thoughts are that 
there is no God.' The reason of worldliness is some wretched 
thought that is hidden in the bosom : Ps. xlix. 11, ' Their inward 
thought is that their houses shall continue for ever/ You see, then, 
there is reason why you should go to God to cleanse your spirits 
from evil thoughts, why you should be humbled under them, why 
you should watch against them : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let the wicked man 
forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return 
unto the Lord/ Mark, not only his way, but his thoughts. Trace 
every corrupt desire, every inordinate practice, till you come up to 
some inward and hidden thought. There are implicit thoughts, and 
thoughts explicit : explicit are those that are impressed upon the 
conscience, and are more sensible ; implicit are those which the scrip 
ture calleth ' hidden thoughts,' and the ' sayings of the heart/ 
Though the desires, purposes, actions, are according to them, yet we 
do not so sensibly discern them ; for they are so odious, that they 
come least in sight. Many such there are ; as this was the hidden 
thought implied in the text, that wealth is to be preferred before 
grace ; and that made them judge so perversely. It is good therefore 
to wait upon the word, which ' discovereth the thoughts and intents 
of the heart/ Heb. iv. 12, that upon every experience you may refer 
things to their proper head and cause : sure there hath been a vile 
thought in me, that there is no God ; that the world is for ever ; that 
riches are better than grace ; that the pleasures of sin are better than 
the hopes of life, &c. It is good to interpret every action, and to 
observe the language that is couched in it ; your lives do but speak 
out these thoughts. 

Ols. 4. That this is an evil thought, that men are to be valued by 
their outward excellency. It is against the dispensation of God, who 
putteth the greatest glory upon those that are of least account and 
esteem in the world. It is against the nature of grace, whose glory 
is not sensible, obvious to the senses, but inward and hidden :^ Ps. 
xlv. 13, ' The king's daughter is all glorious within/ A Christian's 
inside is best ; all the world's glory is in show, fancy, and appearance : 
Agrippa and Bernice 'came with great pomp,' Acts xxv. 23, pera 
7roA7v% (fxivTaa-ias, with much show and fancy. Painted things have 
a greater show with them than real. Nazianzen saith, the world is 


Helena without, and Hecuba within : there is nothing answerable to 
the appearance ; but now grace is under a veil, ' it doth not appear 
what we shall be,' 1 John iii. 2. Thus Cant. i. 6, the church is said 
to be ' black, but comely ;' full of spiritual beauty, though outwardly 
wretched, and deformed" with afflictions ; which is there expressed by 
two similitudes, like ' the tents of Kedar, and the curtains of Solomon/ 
The tents of Kedar : the Arabians lived in tents, which were but 
homely and slender in comparison of city buildings, obscure huts, 
sullied and blacked with the weather, but rich within, and full of 
costly utensils ; therefore we hear of ' the glory of Kedar/ Isa. 
xxi. 16. And Solomon's curtains may possibly signify the same thing. 
Josephus saith, Solomon had Babylonian curtains, of a baser stuff 
and work, to hide the curious imagery that was carved on the marble 
walls. The greatest glory is within the veil : ' The hidden man of 
the heart' is an ornament ' of great price,' 1 Peter iii. 4. And as it is 
against the nature of grace, so it is against all right reason : we do 
not use to judge so in other cases : we do not prize a horse for the gaudry 
of his saddle and trappings, but for his strength and swiftness. That 
painter was laughed at who, because he could not draw Helena fair, 
drew her rich. We do not therefore judge it a good sword because 
it hath a golden belt. Well, then, if it be against providence, and 
grace, and reason, go by a wiser rule in valuing things and persons 
than outward excellency : do not think that faith best which the ruler 
professeth, John vii. 48, nor those persons best that glitter most with 
worldly lustre. Christ cometh often in a disguise to us, as well as the 
Jews to us in his poor members. 

Ver. 5. Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor 
of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he ha*h 
promised to them that love him ? 

In this verse the apostle urgeth another argument against respect 
of persons : you will despise those whom God, out of his wise ordina 
tion, hath called to the greatest honour. He instanceth in a threefold 
dignity which the Lord putteth upon the godly poor : they are elected 
of God, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. 

Hearken, my beloved brethren. He exciteth their attention, and still 
giveth them the loving compellation which he had formerly used. In 
all grave and weighty matters, it is usual in the scripture to preface 
and premise some craving of attention : ' He that hath an ear to 
hear let him hear/ Mat. xiii. 9 ; so James in the council of Jerusalem : 
Acts xv. 13, ' Men and brethren, hearken unto me.' Here the^apostle 
useth this preface, partly to stir them up to consider the dispensation 
proper to that age. So 1 Cor. i. 26, ' Behold your calling, brethren, 
not many wise, not many mighty/ &c. ; that is, seriously consider the 
matter of God's calling in these times. Partly because he is about 
to urge a warm argument against the perverseness of their respects, 
and when the matter concerneth our case, it calleth for our best 

Hath not God chosen ? that is, by the special designment of grace 
he hath singled out the poor to be heirs of life. You will find it so 
always, for the most part, but in those times especially. Partly to 
confute the pride of great persons, as if God should respect them for 


their outward dignity. The first choice that God made in the world 
was of poor men ; and therefore do we so often read that the poor re 
ceived the gospel ; not only the poor in spirit, but the poor in purse. 
God chose fishermen to preach the gospel, and poor persons to receive 
it : few were won that were of any rank and quality in the world ; 
and partly that we might not think that wonderful increase and 
spreading of the gospel to come to pass by the advantage of human 
power, fleshly aids and props, but by the virtue of divine grace. 

The poor of the world; that is, in regard of outward enjoyments: 
1 Tim. vi. 17, there he speaketh of ' the rich of this world.' There 
is another world that hath its riches, but they that have estate there 
are usually poor and despicable. The saints are described to be those 
that have not their hopes in this world, 1 Cor. xv. 19, or poor in 
this world ; that is, in the opinion of the present world they are vile 
and abject. 

Eicli in faith. So they may be said to be two ways : Either in 
regard of high measures and raised degrees of faith ; as Abraham 
was said to be ' strong in faith/ Kom. iv. 20, or that woman, Mat. xv. 28, 

* woman ! great is thy faith.' So when the apostle presseth them 
to a spiritual abundance in gifts and graces, he saith, Col. iii. 1G, 

* Let the word of God dwell in you, 7rA,ofo-/&)?, richly.' Or rich, in op 
position to worldly poverty, as noting the recompense that is made up 
to them for their outward poverty in their hopes and privileges. And 
mark, God is said to ' choose rich in faith ;' that is, ' to be rich in faith/ 
It is such am expression as is used Kom. viii. 29, 'He hath chosen 
us like his Son ;' that is, ' to be like his Son ;' which is plainly averred 
by the apostle, Eph. i. 4, ' He hath chosen us in him that we might 
be holy :' not because we are good, but that we might be good. This 
place cannot be urged for the foresight of faith ; for as he chose us 
rich in faith, so he chose us heirs of glory : and therefore it doth not 
note the reason of God's choice, but the end ; not that they were so, 
but that they might be so. 

Heirs of the kingdom. Glory is often set out by a kingdom, and 
the faithful as princes under years. 

Which he hath promised. Promises of this nature are everywhere : 
Prov. viii. 17, ' I love them that love me ;' so Exod. xx. 6, ' Showing 
mercy to thousands of them that love me/ 

To them that love him. Why this grace is specified, see the reasons 
alleged in the explication and notes of the 12th verse of the first 
chapter. Only observe the order used by the apostle ; first he placeth 
election, then faith, then love. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. That oftentimes God choose th the poor of this world. The 
lion and the eagle are passed by, and the lamb and the dove chosen for 
sacrifice. The gospel, that was * hidden from the wise and prudent, 
was revealed to babes,' Mat. xi. 25. This God doth, partly to show 
the glory of his power in preserving them, and truth amongst them, 1 

1 ' Adverte cceleste consilium : non sapientes aliquos, non divites, non nobiles, sed 
piscatores et publicanos, quos dirigeret, elegit ; ne traduxisse poteniia, redemisse divitiis, 
nobilitatisque auctoritate traxisse aliquos videretur, et veritatis ratio, non disputationis 
gratia, praevaleret. Ambr. in Luc,, cap. 6, sec. 3. 



that were not upheld by worldly props. The church is called ' the 
congregation of the poor/ Ps. Ixxiv. 19 ; a miserable sort of men, that 
were destitute of all worldly advantages. Usually he showeth his 
power by using weak means. Moses' hand was made leprous before 
it wrought miracles, Exod. iv. Jericho was blown down with rams' 
horns, and Goliah slain with a sling and a stone. Partly because 
God would show the riches of his goodness in choosing the poor. All 
must now be ascribed to mercy. At the first God chose the worst 
and the poorest, which was an argument that he was not moved with 
outward respects; the most - sinful and the most obscure, 1 'that all 
flesh might glory in the Lord/ 1 Cor. i. 28. A thief was made the 
delight of paradise, and Lazarus taken into Abraham's bosom. Those 
that had not the least pretence of glorying in themselves are invited 
to grace. Partly because God would discover his wisdom by making 
up their outward defects by this inward glory. Levi, that had no por 
tion among his brethren, had the Lord for his portion. God is 
wanting to no creature ; the rich have somewhat, and the poor have 
' the favour of his people/ Ps. cvi. 4, special mercies. The buyers, 
and sellers, and money-changers were whipped out of the temple ; the 
rich have least interest there. Partly that the members might be 
conformed to the head, the saints to Christ, in meanness and suffering: 
Zech. ix. 9, ' Thy king coraeth unto thee poor.' Partly because pov 
erty is a means to keep them upright ; riches are a great snare. The 
moon is never eclipsed but when it is at the full. Certainly God's 
people are then in most danger. They say the sun never moveth 
slower than when it is highest in the zodiac. Usually men are 
never more flat in duty and dead in service than when mounted high 
in worldly advantages. A pirate never setteth upon an empty vessel: 
the devil is most busy in the fulness of our sufficiency. Those that 
were taken up with the pleasantness of the country, and saw it fit for 
sheep, would not go into Canaan. The disciples pleaded, ' Lord, we 
have left all things, and followed thee ;' as if the keeping of an estate, 
and the keeping of Christ were hardly compatible. Well, then (1.) 
You that are poor, bless God ; it is all from mercy that God should 
look upon you. It is a comfort in your meanness ; rejected by the 
world, chosen by God. He that is happy in his own conscience 
cannot be miserable by the judgment of others : Isa. Ivi. 3, 4, ' Let not 
the eunuch say, I am a dry tree ; for I will give him an everlasting 
name.' Be not discouraged, though outwardly mean. The poor man 
is known to God by name : Luke xvi., he hath a proper name, Lazarus ; 
whereas the rich man is called by an appellative name. Among 
men it is^ otherwise. Divitum nomina sciuntur, pauperum nesciuntur, 
saith Cajetan. However we forget the poor, we will be sure to re 
member the rich man's name and title. (2.) You that are rich, 
consider this is not the favour of God's people ; be not contented with 
common bounty. You may have an estate, and others may have 
higher privileges. As Luther, 2 profess that you will not be contented 

^Noluit prius eligere senatores, sed piscatores, magna artificis misericordia ! Sciebat 
enim quia si eligeret senatorem, diceret senator, dignitas mea electa est, &c. Et paulo 
post. Da mihi, in quit, istum piscatorem, veni tu pauper, sequere me, nihil babes, nihil 
nosti, sequere me.' Aug. Ser. xix. de Verb. Dom. 

2 ' Valde protestatus sum me nolle sic ab eo satiari.' Luth. 


so ; you will not be quiet till you have the tokens of his special 

Obs. 2. There are poor in this world, and poor in the world to 
come. Dives, that fared deliciously every day, and was clothed in fine 
linen, yet wanted a drop to cool his tongue. Desideravit guttam, 
saith Austin, qui non dedit micam ; he wanted a drop, that would not 
give a crumb : Isa. Ixv. 13, 14, ' Behold my servants shall eat, but ye 
shall "be hungry ; behold my servants shall drink, but ye shall be 
thirsty : they shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed.' Ye are left to 
your choice, to be rich in this world, but poor in the world to come ; 
though here you swim and wallow in a sea of pleasures, yet there you 
may want a drop to cool your tongue. 

Obs. 3. The poor of this world may be spiritually rich. The apostle's 
riddle is made good, 2 Cor. vi. 10, ' As having nothing, yet possessing 
all things ; ' nothing in the world, and all in faith. 

Obs. 4. Faith maketh us truly rich ; it is the open hand of the soul, to 
receive all the bounteous supplies of God. If we be empty and poor, 
it is not because God's hand is straitened, but ours is not opened. A 
man may be poor notwithstanding the abundance of wealth: it putteth 
a difference between you and others for a while, but in the grave ' the 
poor and the rich meet together/ Job iii. 19 ; that is, are all in the 
same estate without difference. In the charnel-house all skulls are 
in the same case, not to be distinguished by the ornaments or abasures of 
temporal life. It is grace alone that will make you to excel for ever. 
Nay, riches cannot make you always to differ in this world : ' They take 
to themselves wings, and fly away/ Prov. xxiii. 5. Well, then, you 
that are poor, do not envy others' plenty ; you that are rich, do not 
please yourselves in these enjoyments. Istce divitice nee verce sunt, nee 
vestrce they are neither true riches, neither can you always call them 
your own. 

Obs. 5. The Lord loveth only the godly poor. There are a wicked 
poor whose hearts are ignorantly stubborn, whose lives are viciously 
profane. Christ saith, ' Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom 
of God/ Luke vi. 20. In the evangelist Matthew it is explained, 
1 Blessed are the poor in spirit/ Mat. v. 3. David saith, ' The ab- 
jects gathered themselves against me/ Ps. xxxv. 15. Many times 
men of that quality are malignant opposites to the children and cause 
of God, saucy dust, that will be flying in the faces of God's people ; 
and their rage is the more fierce because there is nothing of know 
ledge, politic restraints, and civil or ingenuous education, to break the 
force of it. 

Obs. 6. All God's people are heirs ; they are heirs, they are but heirs. 
They are heirs ; that cometh to them by virtue of their sonship : Kom. 
viii. 17, ' If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with 
Christ/ Jesus Christ was the natural son and the natural heir ; and 
we, being adopted sons, are adopted heirs. He is called, Heb. i. 2, 
' the heir of all things ; ' and he hath invested us with his own privi 
leges. Do but consider what an heir a child of God is, one that is 
received into the same privileges with Christ ; and therefore the apostle 
saith, he is a ' joint-heir.' In a spiritual manner, and as we are capable, 
we shall possess the same glory that Christ doth. Again, they are 


heirs whose right is indefeasible. Men may appoint heirs, and alter 
their purpose, especially concerning adopted heirs; but God never 
changeth. In assurance of it we have earnest, 2 Cor. i. 22, and we 
have first-fruits, Kom. viii. 23. We have earnest to show how sure, 
we have first-fruits to show how good, our inheritance is ; a taste how 
good, and a pledge how sure. Well, then, you that have tasted of 
the grapes of Eshcol, have had any sense of your adoption, you may 
be confident God will never alter his purposes of love. Again, they 
are heirs that not only look to inherit the goods of their heavenly 
Father, but his person. God doth not only make over heaven to you, 
but himself : ' I will be your God ; ' quantus quantus est, God is yours. 
So Ps. xvi. 5, ' The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.' Again, 
they are heirs that possess by 1 their father's lifetime. Men give their 
estates to us when they can possess them no longer. But this is our 
happiness, that God and we possess it together ; and therefore it is 
said, ' glorified with him.' Again, they are heirs to an estate that 
will not be diminished by the multitude of co-heirs. Many a fair 
stream is drawn dry by being dispersed into several channels ; but 
here, the more the greater the privilege. What a happiness is it to 
enjoy God among all the saints ! They ' shall sit down with Abra 
ham, and Isaac, and Jacob.' We may jointly inherit without envy. 
The company is a part of the blessing: it is one of the apostle's 
motives, * Ye are come to an innumerable company of saints and 
angels/ Heb. xii. 22, 23. It was a foolish question, that, ' Who shall be 
greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? ' Mat. xviii. ; for when God is all in 
all, he will fill up every vessel. Such a question suiteth with our present 
state ; but in glory, as there is no sin to provoke such curiosity, so 
there is no want to occasion it. They are but heirs : alas ! now they 
groan and wait for the adoption, Eom. viii. 23, that is, for the full en 
joyment of the privileges of it. So 1 John iii. 2, * We are the sons 
of God, but it doth not appear what we shall be ; ' we have a right, 
but not full possession. Hope cannot conceive what the estate will 
be when it cometh in hand. There is much goodness laid out, but 
more laid up, Ps. xxxi. 19. It is observable that all Christian pri 
vileges are spoken of in scripture as if they did not receive their ac 
complishment till the day of judgment. I have spoken already of 
adoption, that the saints wait for it. For justification, then, we shall 
know the comfort of it ; when Christ, in his solemn and most imperial 
day, in the midst of the triumph of his justice, shall remember only 
the services, and pass by the sins, of the faithful. Then shall we know 
the meaning of that promise, ' I am he that f orgiveth your iniquities, 
and will remember your sins no more.' Our comfort now is mixed, 
and we are often harassed with doubts and fears ; but when our par 
don is solemnly proclaimed before all the world, then shall we indeed 
know what it is to be absolved. Therefore the scripture speaketh as 
if an act for our justification were only passed then : Acts iii. 19, * Ke- 
pent, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing 
shall come from the presence of the Lord.' And possibly that may 
be the reason of that expression that intimateth forgiveness of sins 
in the world to come : Mat. xii. 32, ' It shall never be forgiven, in this 

1 Qu. 'in ' or ' during ' ? ED. 


world, or in the world to come ; ' i.e., an act of pardon can neither 
now be really passed, or then solemnly declared. So for redemption : 
we shall not understand that privilege till we are redeemed from death 
and the grave, and have a full and final deliverance from all evils ; 
therefore we are said to ' wait for the redemption of our bodies/ Kom. 
viii. 23, and ' lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh/ 
Luke xxi. 28. And that possibly may be the reason why the apostle, 
when he numbereth up the fruits of our union with Christ, he putteth 
redemption last, 1 Cor. i. 30. Here we have righteousness, wisdom, 
grace, but in the world to come we have redemption ; therefore, the 
day of the Lord is called ' the day of redemption/ Eph. iv. 30. So 
also for union with Christ; it is begun here, but so often inter 
rupted, that it is rather an absence than a union : 2 Cor. v. 6, ' Whiles 
we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.' The apostle 
speaketh so, because we do not so freely enjoy the comforts of his pre 
sence. So Phil. i. 23, ' I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ ;' 
a Christian is with Christ here, but rather without him. Then shall 
we know what it is to be with him, when we shall in body and soul 
be translated into heaven, and be always in his eye and presence. So 
for sanctification : there is so much of the old nature remaining, that 
there is scarce anything of the new ; and therefore the day of judg 
ment is called TrdXiyyevea-la, the regeneration/ Mat. xix. 28 ; that is, 
the time when all things are made new, when we come to be settled 
in our everlasting state ; and that may be the occasion of the apostle's 
expression, 1 Thes. iii. 13, ' Sanctified at Christ's coming.' Thus you 
see, in all points of Christian privilege, we are, though heirs, yet but 
heirs. Well, then, you that ' have the first-fruits of the Spirit/ come 
and rejoice in your hopes : ' Behold what manner of love the Father 
hath showed you ! ' 1 John iii. 1. We were strangers, yet we are 
made sons nay, heirs ; we were of low degree it may be poor, beg 
garly in the world yet have we this egova-lav, this dignity put upon 
us, to be chosen to the fairest kingdom that ever was and will be, 
John i. 12. We were enemies, rebellious as well as despicable, yet 
still heirs : from ' children of wrath/ made ' heirs of glory.' God 
needed not such an adoption ; he had a Son who is called his delight 
and rejoicing before all worlds, Prov. viii. 31, and yet he would make 
thee, that wast a stranger to his family, a rebel to his crown, so base 
in the world, a joint-heir with his only Son. Oh ! what love and 
thankfulness should this beget in us ! Every person of the Godhead 
showeth his love to us ; the Father he adopteth us : ' Behold what 
manner of love the Father/ &c. ; the Son for a while resigneth and layeth 
aside his honour nay, dieth, to purchase our right, Gal. iv. 6; and 
' the Spirit witnesseth that we are the sons of God/ Kom. viii. 15. 
Oh ! adore the love of the Trinity with high and raised thoughts. 
Consider what a comfort here is against all the discouragements and 
abasures that we meet with in the world ; princes in disguise are 
often slighted, and the heirs of heaven are made the world's reproach. 
But why should you be dejected ? 2 Sam. xiii. 4, ' Why art thou so 
lean from day to day ? art not thou the king's son ? ' Are not you 
heirs of the kingdom of glory ? And, by the way, here is some advice 
to the world : Do not contemn the meanest that are godly they are 


heirs ; every one worshippeth the rising sun, and observeth the heir. 
Oh ! make you friends of them, they will stead you another day : Luke 
xvi. 9, 'Make you friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, 
when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations ; ' that 
is, with that wealth, which is usually abused to sin, make you friends 
of the poor godly saints ; they with Christ shall judge the world, 1 
Cor. vi. 2. Make them friends, that they may give their suffrage to 
you, and receive you into heavenly joys. A main thing that Christ 
taketh notice of at the day of judgment, is this : * Thus have ye done 
to one of my naked brethren,' Mat. xxv. 40. 

Obs. 7. That the faithful are heirs to a kingdom. Heaven and 
glory is often set out to us under that notion. You have places every 
where. Kingdoms are for kings ; and every saint is a spiritual king : 
Eev. i. 6, 'He hath made us kings and priests unto God his Father.' 
Suitable to which expression it is said, 1 Peter ii. 9, that we are ' a 
royal priesthood.' These two dignities are joined together, because 
heretofore their kings were priests ; and the heads of the families were 
the priests of it. Cohen signifieth both a prince of Midian and a priest 
of Midian. But to return. They are kings because of that spiritual 
power they have over themselves, sin, Satan, and the world ; and be 
cause they are kings, therefore their glory must be a kingdom. Again, 
Christ is a king, and therefore they are kings, and his kingdom is their 
kingdom. Being united to Christ, they are possessed of his royalty. 
Again, there is a very great resemblance between the glory we expect 
and a kingdom : Luke xii. 32, ' Fear not, little flock ; it is your Father's 
pleasure to give you a kingdom/ It is called a kingdom in regard of 
its splendour, festivity, and glory. That is the highest excellency and 
note of a difference amongst men. And also in regard of attendants ; 
angels are ' ministering spirits/ Heb. i. 14. They are so already ; but 
there they are as porters standing at the twelve gates of our city, Rev. 
xxi. 12. Nay, Christ himself will gird himself, and serve those whom 
he findeth watching at his second coming, Luke xii. 37. And it is a 
kingdom in regard of power and dominion. ' All things are theirs/ 
1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. They ' shall judge the world/ 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3 ; yea, 
the evil angels. And also in regard of abundance of content and 
satisfaction. There is ' fulness of pleasures for evermore/ Ps. xvi. 11. 
All these things concur to make it a kingdom. It is a state of the 
highest honour and glory, great pleasure and contentment, noble 
attendants, vast dominion. To all these you may add the great 
liberty and freedom which we shall enjoy from sins and troubles. We 
shall be above the control of Satan, and the opposition of a vile heart. 
Oh ! then, we that expect these things, ' what manner of persons ought 
we to be?' The apostle hath an exhortation suitable to this pur 
pose: l^Thes. ii. 11, 12, ' Walk worthy of God, that hath called you 
to his kingdom.' Live as kings for the present, commanding your 
spirits, judging your souls, above ordinary pursuits it is not for 
eagles to catch flies ; above ordinary crosses cogita te Ccesarem esse. 
Eemember thou shalt one day be a king with God in glory. Enter 
upon thy kingdom by degrees : ' The kingdom of God is joy and 
peace in the Holy Ghost/ Eom. xiv. 17. But now for others, who as yet 
remain, at the best, but in an uncertain estate, it is a motive to press 


them to do what they can to interest themselves in these hopes : Mat. 
xi. 12, ' The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence/ It is a kingdom, 
and therefore men are so violent for it. Oh ! consider, it is for a 
crown, and that will encourage you to all earnestness of pursuit. A 
lazy wish, a drowsy prayer, is not enough. 

06s. 8. That heaven is a kingdom engaged by promise. It is not 
only good, to tempt your desires, but sure, to support your hopes. Look 
upon it not only as a kingdom, but as a promised kingdom, and judge 
him faithful that hath promised. None can comfort themselves in 
these hopes but they that have interest in the promise. They can 
plead with God for their own souls We have thy word ; there is a 
' promise wherein thou hast caused us to hope/ Ps. cxix. 49. Heaven 
is not only prepared, but promised. You may not only have loose 
hopes, but a steadfast confidence. 

Obs. 9. That the promise of the kingdom is made to those that love 
God. Love is the effect of faith, and the ground of all duty, and so 
the best discovery of a spiritual estate. They do not believe that do 
not love ; and they cannot obey that do not love. Look, then, to this 
grace. Do you love God ? When promises have the condition spe 
cified in them, we cannot take comfort in the promise till we are sure 
of the condition. As Christ asked Simon Peter, ' Lovest thou me ? ' 
so commune with your own souls, Dost thou love God ? Nay, urge 
the soul with it again, Dost thou indeed love God ? The effects and 
products of love are many. Those which love God, love that which 
is of God. As (1.) His glory. Their great desire and delight is to 
honour him, that they may be any way serviceable to the glory of 
God. The sin mentioned, 2 Tim. iii. 2, ' Lovers of themselves/ is the 
opposite frame to this. When all that men do is with a self-respect, 
they have little love to God. (2.) His commandments. I observed 
before, that usually men love sin and hate the commandment. They 
are vexed with those holy laws that thwart their corrupt desires. 
Natural conscience impresseth a sense of duty, and vile affection 
worketh a dislike of it. But now, 1 John v. 3, ' This is the love of 
God, that his commandments are not grievous.' Duty is their delight, 
and ordinances their solace : Ps. xxvi. 8, ' How have I loved the 
habitation of thine house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth ! ' 
They will desire to be often in the company of God, to be there where 
they may meet with him. (3.) His friends. They love Christians as 
Christians, though otherwise never so mean. Love of the brethren is 
made an evidence of great importance, 1 John iii. 14. By these dis 
coveries may you judge yourselves. 

Ver. 6. But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress 
you, and draw you before the judgment-seats ? 

Here the apostle endeavoureth to work them to a sense of their own 
miscarriage. For, having proved respect of persons a sin, he falleth. 
directly upon their consciences ; and you have been guilty of it, you 
have despised the poor. And then, to show that their practice was 
not only vain and evil, but mad and senseless, he urgeth a new argu 
ment : ' Do not rich men oppress you ? ' He doth, in effect, ask them, 
whether they would show so much honour to their executioners and 
oppressors ? But you will say, Doth not the apostle herein stir them 


up to revenge ? and are we not * to love our enemies, and to do good 
to them that hate us ' ? I answer (1.) It is one thing to love enemies, 
another to esteem them out of some perverse respect ; and there is a 
difference between fawning and offices of humanity and civility. 
(2.) Some have deserved so ill of the church, that they cannot chal 
lenge the least civil respect from the people of God : 3 John 10, * Bid 
him not God speed/ So 2 Kings iii. 14, ' Were it not for Jehosha- 
phat, the king of Judah, I would not look towards thee, nor see thee/ 
(3.) The apostle doth not speak to the persons, but to the case. Will 
you honour wealth, which is the visible cause of all mischief ? You 
see that men of that rank and order are usually persecutors and blas 
phemers. He speaketh of rich men in general, not such as used to 
frequent the church and synagogue ; for otherwise you mistake the 
apostle's argument if you think the words directed to the persons 
rather than the order. His argument runneth thus : Will you prefer 
men for wealth in the church, when you see that none are so mis 
chievous, and such public enemies to the church, as those that are 
wealthy ? To prove that wealth is no sufficient ground of Christian 
respect, he urgeth the usual abuse of it. 

But ye have despised the poor. He showeth how contrary their 
practice was to God's dispensation : God hath put honour upon them, 
but ye dishonour them, as the original word signifieth. The prophet 
expresseth such a like sin thus: Amos v. 11, ' Ye have trodden the 
poor under foot/ 

Do not rich men. Either he meaneth rich Pagans and Jews that 
had not embraced Christianity, persecutions usually arising from men 
of that sort and order, as the scribes, pharisees, and high priests : 
' The chief men of the city were stirred up against Paul and 
Barnabas/ Acts xiii. 50 ; or else pseudo-Christians, who, being great 
and powerful, oppressed their brethren, and used all manner of 
violence towards them. Or, rather, in general, any sort of rich men. 

Oppress you. The word is /caraSwao-Tevovo-i,, abuse their power 
against you, or usurp a power over you which was never given them. 
In which sense Solomon saith, Prov. xxii. 7, * The rich ruleth over 
the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender/ Ruleth, that is, 
arrogateth a power, though not invested with the honour of magis 

And draw you before the judgment-seats? If it be understood of 
the unconverted Jews, the meaning is, they helped forward the 
persecution, and implieth the same with that, Mat. x. 17, * They 
shall deliver you up to councils/ Or, if of rich men in the general, to 
which I rather incline, it noteth the violent practices which they 
used to the poor, dragging them, as they used to do with their 
debtors : ' He plucked him by the throat,' Mat. xviii. 28. And the 
prophet Isaiah expresseth the same cruelty by * smiting with the fist 
of wickedness,' Isa. Iviii. 4. A great liberty the creditor had over the 
debtor among the Jews, and that our apostle intimateth in the word 
eX/cowi, 'they draw you;' and when he addeth 'before judgment- 
seats/ he aggravateth this wickedness that was now grown customary 
among them ; which was not only violent usage of the poor, but 
oppressing them under a form of law: either wearing them out by 


vexatious suits, or defrauding them presently of their right, through 
the favour which they obtained by their power and greatness, a 
practice common among all nations, but especially among the Jews, 
and therefore is it everywhere noted in the scriptures. See Ps. 
x. 9, 10. 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. From that despised the poor. That known and apparent 
guilt must be roundly charged. Nathan said to David, 2 Sam. xii. 
7, ' Thou art the man/ When the practice is notorious, a faint 
accusation doth no good. The prophet striketh David on the breast ; 
this is thy sin. When a city is on fire, will a man come coldly and 
say, Yonder is a great fire, I pray God it doth no harm ? No ; he 
will cry, Fire, fire ; you are undone if you do not quench it. So 
when the practice is open and clearly sinful, it is not good to come 
with a contemplative lecture and lame homily, but to fall to the 
case directly. Ye have despised the poor. Sirs, this is your sin, and 
if you do not reform it, this will be you ruin. It is good to be a 
little warm when the sin is common and the danger imminent. 

Obs. 2. From that but you. He opposeth their practice to God's 
dispensation; that despising the poor is a sin, not only against the 
word and written will of God, but his mind and intent in his works 
and dispensations. It is a kind of gigantomachy, a resisting of God. 
(1.) It is against the mind of God in their creation : Prov. xxii. 2, 
' The rich and the poor meet together, the Lord is the maker of them 
both ; ' that is, they meet in this, that they have but one maker. 
There is another meeting, Job iii. 15 ; they meet in the grave, they 
meet in their death, and in their maker. Now God never made a 
creature for contempt. These considerations should restrain it. They 
were made as we were, and they die as we do. The poor man is 
called our ' own flesh,' Isa. Iviii. 7 ; Adam's child, as we are. (2.) It 
is against God's providence, his common providence, who hath con 
stituted this order in the world : Prov. xvii. 5, ' Whoso reproacheth 
the poor despiseth his maker ;' that is, contemneth the wise dispensa 
tion of God, who would have the world to consist of hills and valleys, 
and the poor intermingled with the rich ; therefore Christ saith, 
Mat. xxvi. 11, The poor you have always present with you.' It is one 
of the settled constitutions and laws of providence, and it is necessary 
for the uses and services of the world ; this preserveth order. There 
are many offices and functions which human societies cannot want, 
and therefore some men's spirits are fitted for handicrafts, and hard 
manual labours, to which men of a higher spirit and delicate breeding 
will not condescend. (3.) It is also against God's special providence, 
by which many times the greatest gifts are bestowed upon them that 
are poor and despicable in the world ; their wit being sharpened by 
necessity, they may have the clearer use of reason. Naaman's servant 
saw more than his master, 2 Kings v. 13 ; and Solomon telleth of ' a 
poor man that delivered the city,'' Eccles. ix. 15. Nay, God many 
times putteth that singular honour of being heirs of salvation upon 
them. The poor are rich in faith in the context ; and then injury must 
needs redound to him, for they are his friends and children; and 
friends have all things common, both courtesies and injuries. 


Ols. 3. Kich men are usually persecutors or oppressors. Their 
wickedness hath the advantage of an occasion. And usually when a 
disposition and an occasion meet together, then sin is drawn forth 
and discovered. Many have will, but have no power* The world 
would be a common stage to act all manner of villanies upon, were it 
not for such restraints of providence. Therefore Solomon maketh an 
oppressing poor men to be a kind of wonder and prodigy. Besides, 
riches exalt the mind, and efferate it. They have had little experience 
of misery, and so have little pity. God's motives to Israel were these : 
Do good to strangers, for thou wert a stranger ; and do good to the 
poor, for thy father was a poor Syrian. Such reasonings are frequent 
in scripture. But now, when men live altogether at ease, their hearts 
are not meekened with a sense of the accidents and inconveniences of 
the common life. And therefore, having power in their hands, they 
use it, as beasts do their strength, in acts of violence. The prophet 
often complaineth, Amos vi., of ' the excellency of Jacob/ and ' the 
oppression that was in her palaces/ Again, wealth often endeth in 
pride, and pride breaketh all common and moral restraints ; and so 
men make their will a law, and think as if the rest of the world were 
made to serve their pleasures. And besides, the world filleth their 
hearts with a ravenous desire to have more of the world, how unjustly 
soever it be purchased and gotten. You see the reason why they are 
oppressors and they are persecutors, because commonly the meanest 
are most forward in religion. The spirit of the world and the spirit 
of Christ are at enmity. The gospel putteth men upon the same 
level, which persons elevated and exalted cannot endure. Besides, 
they are afraid that the things of Christ will bring some disturbance 
to their worldly concernments and possessions. The Jewish rulers 
were afraid of division among the people, and the coming in of the 
Romans. The Gadarenes were afraid of their hogs. Many such 
reasons might be given. Well, then, rich men should be more care 
ful to avoid the sins that seem to cleave to their rank and order. It 
is very hard, but ' with God all things are possible/ Wealth is called 
'the mammon of unrighteousness/ Luke xvi. 9. because it is usually 
the instrument and incentive of it. That of Jerome is harsh, but too 
often true Omnis dives aut iniquus est, aut iniqui limres that every 
rich man is either an oppressor himself, or the heir of one. Certainly it 
is but almost impossible to be rich and righteous. There are many evils 
incident to your state. Moral evils, such as heathens discerned, as 
pride : ' Charge them that they be not high-minded/ 1 Tim. vi. 17. 
Boasting, with some contempt of others : Jer. ix. 23, ' Let not the 
rich man glory in his riches ; ' so injustice : Prov. xxii. 7, ' The rich 
ruleth over the poor ; ' that is, by force and violence : the word 
may be read, ' domineereth/ Then luxury and profuseness. Men 
abuse the fatness of their portion, and lay it out upon their lusts. 
Dives * fared deliciously every day/ But there are also spiritual 
evils, which are worse, because they lie more closely and undiscerned. 
These are (1.) Forgetting of God, when he hath remembered them 
most. Men that live at ease have little or no sense of duty. Agur 
prayeth, ' Give me not riches, lest I be full, and deny thee/ Prov. xxx. 
9. And (2.) creature-confidence. Hence those frequent cautions : 1 


Tim. vi. 17, * Trust not in uncertain riches ; ' and Ps. Ixii. 10, ' If 
riches increase, set not your hearts upon them/ Usually the creatures 
rival God ; and when we enjoy them in abundance, it is hard to keep 
off the heart from trust in them. (3.) Worldliness. We are tainted 
by the objects with which we usually converse ; and the more men 
have, the more sparing for God's uses and their own. Solomon 
speaketh of ' riches kept by the owners to their hurt/ Eccles. v. 13. 
And there is an expression in the book of Job, chap. xx. 22, ' In the 
fulness of his sufficiency, he shall be in straits.' There is no greater 
argument of God's curse than to have an estate and not to enjoy it. 
So (4.) security : Luke xii. 19, * Soul, take thine ease, thou hast goods 
laid up for many years.' These are evils that cleave to wealth, like 
rust to money. I have but named them, because I would not digress 
into illustrations. 

Ver. 7. Do not theylilaspheme that worthy nameby wliich ye are called? 

He proceedeth in reckoning up the abuses of riches. Who are the 
enemies of God and of religion, the scorners of the worthy name of 
Christians, but the rich ? 

Do not they blaspheme. Some interpret it of the carnal rich men 
that professed religion, as if, by the scandal of their practices, they 
had brought an odium and ill report upon Christianity itself. So that 
' they blaspheme/ in their sense, is, 'they cause to blaspheme/ They 
think it is an Hebraism, kal for hiphil. The whole stream of inter 
preters run this way. They urge for it those parallel places : Rom. 
ii. 24, ' Through you is the name of God blasphemed among the Gen 
tiles ; ' and 2 Peter ii. 2, by them is ' the way of truth evil spoken 
of ; ' that is, by their means. And that in the 1st epistle to Timothy, 
chap. vi. 1, Let servants be obedient, ' that the name of God and his 
doctrine be not blasphemed ; ' and Titus ii. 5, The wives should be 
discreet and chaste, ' that the word of God be not blasphemed/ Cer 
tainly religion is never more dishonoured than by the lives of carnal 
professors. But this is the great mistake of this context, to apply 
what is here spoken to rich Christians. The apostle only giveth an 
observation of the manners of the rich men of that age ; they were 
usually such as were bitter enemies to Christianity ; and thereupon 
inferreth that wealth was not a valuable consideration in the church 
to prefer men to places of rule and honour, or to further their cause 
whenever it came into debate. 

That worthy name, /ca\bv, ' honourable ; ' as before, ver. 3. 
/caXft)?, ' in a good place/ is, in the original, honourably. 

By which ye are called. In the original, TO eTriK\7)Qkv efi 
vpas, 'which is called upon you;' and some interpret that thus, 
' which you call upon.' It is made a description of Christians : 1 Cor. 
i. 2, ' All that call upon the name of Christ ; ' and 2 Tim. ii. 18, ' Let 
him that nameth the name of Christ.' Or else thus : Which is called 
upon over you ; that is, in baptism, Mat. xxviii. 19, and Acts ii. 38. 

name be called upon us ; ' or to children, as Gen. xlviii. 16, * Let my 
name be called on them, and the name of my fathers,' &c. ; and so it 


implieth the name of Christ, which is put upon his people, who sus 
tain these relations to him of spouse and children. 

The notes are these : 

066'. 1. That wicked rich men, ahove all others, are most prone to 
blasphemy. They ' set their hearts as the heart of God,' Ezek. xxviii. 
5, 6. Eiches beget pride, and pride endeth in atheism. Besides, 
they, enjoying a most liberal use of the creature, are apt to talk un 
seemly. When their hearts are warmed and inflamed with wine and 
mirth, they cannot contain, but must needs disgorge their malice upon 
the ways and servants of Christ. The merry and full-fed Babylonians 
must have a Hebrew song, Ps. cxxxvii. And it is no feast with 
many unless John the Baptist's head be brought in a charger. Reli 
gion, or religious persons, must be served in to feed their mirth and 

Obs. 2. They that love Christ will hate blasphemers. When he 
would work them into a disesteem of these ungodly wretches, he saith, 
* Do they not blaspheme that worthy name ? ' Moses burned with a 
holy zeal when he heard that one had blasphemed God, Lev. xxiv. 13, 
14. And David saith, Ps. cxxxix. 20-22, ' They speak against thee 
wickedly ; thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them 
that hate thee ? 1 hate them with a perfect hatred : I count them 
mine enemies/ Love is tender of the least wrong done to the thing 
beloved. More especially will it sparkle and burn with a fiery zeal when 
such high contempt is cast upon it as blasphemy putteth upon Christ. 
Those Gallios of our time, that can so tamely, and without any in 
dignation, hear the worthy name of Christ profaned with execrable 
blasphemies, show how little love they have to him. David counted 
them his enemies that spoke wickedly against his God ; but such are 
their darlings. 

Obs. 3. That Christ's name is a worthy name. Christianity will 
never be a disgrace to you ; you may be a disgrace to Christianity. ' I 
am not ashamed/ saith the apostle Paul, ' of the gospel of Christ/ 
Eom. i. 16. Many are ashamed to own their profession in carnal com 
pany, as if there could be any disgrace in being Christ's servant. Oh ! 
it is an honour to you. And as Christianity is an honour to you, so 
should you be an honour to it, that you may not stain a worthy name : 
'Adorn the gospel/ Titus ii. 10. The herd of wicked men they are 
ignota capita, persons unknown and unobserved ; they may sin, and 
sin again, yet the world taketh no notice of it. But how doth it fur 
nish the triumphs of the uncircumcised to see men of a worthy name 
overtaken in an offence ? The Hams of the world will laugh to see 
a Noah drunk. Spots and stains in white are soon discerned. 

Obs. 4. The people of Christ are named and called after Christ's 
name ; Christians, from Christ. The apostle saith, Eph. iii. 15, * From 
him the whole family, both in heaven and earth, is named/ The name 
was first given them at Antioch, Acts xi. 26. They were called 'disciples' 
before, but, to distinguish themselves from false brethren, they named 
themselves ' Christians/ They were called ' Nazarites' and ' Galileans ' 
by their enemies ; and about this time there was a sect of that name, 
half Jews and half Christians. Now the very name presseth us to 
care and holiness. Eernember what Christ did : you are called after 


his name : 2 Tim. ii. 19, ' Let every one that nameth the name of 
Christ depart from iniquity : ' mi? o ovopafav, he that counteth it his 
honour to use the name of Christ in invocation. Alexander the 
Great said to one of his captains, that was also called Alexander, 
Recordare nominis Alexandri see you do nothing unworthy the 
name of Alexander. So, see you do nothing unworthy the name of 
Christ. And, as another said, speaking of something unbeseeming, I 
could do it, if I were not Themistocles ; so, I could do it, if I were not 
a Christian. Or, as Nehemiah, ' Should such a man as I flee ? ' Shall 
I, that am named by the name of Christ, do this ? Again, this name 
is an argument which you may use to God in prayer for grace and 
mercy ; his name is upon you, that endeareth you to his bowels. God's 
promises are made to such, ' If the people that are called by my name/ 
&c., 2 Chron. vii. 14. And so there is a notable promise, Deut. 
xxviii. 10, ' And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art 
called by the name of God, and they shall be afraid of thee/ So you 
shall see the church pleading this, Jer. xiv. 9, ' Yet thou, Lord, art 
in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name ; leave us not.' So 
may you go to God : Lord, it is thus with us, but ( we are called by 
thy name/ 

Ver. 8. If ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scriptures, Thou 
shall love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. 

Now he comes to discover the ground upon which they did thus 
preposterously dispense their respects. It was not charity, as they did 
pretend, but having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage. 
For this verse is a prolepsis, or a prevention of an excuse foreseen, 
which might be framed thus : That they were not to be blamed for 
being too humble, and giving respect there, where it was least due ; 
and that they did it out of relation to the common good, and a neces 
sary observance of those ranks and degrees which God hath constituted 
among men. The apostle supposeth this objection, and answereth it 
partly by concession : if you do it in obedience to the second table 
(the tenor of which the apostle expresseth by that general rule ' Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself '), then, such respect, rightly regu 
lated, and ' according to the scriptures/ is but a duty ; partly by way 
of conviction : your inordinate respect of the rich, with contempt of 
the poor, is such a flattery and partiality which the law doth openly 
condemn. The poor, and those whom we may help and relieve, 
being in the law, or scripture-notion, as much, yea, rather more, the 
neighbour than the rich. 

If ye fulfil, reXetre. If ye do squarely and roundly come up to the 
obedience of the law, that part of it which is the rule of outward 
respects. The word properly signifies, ' if ye perfectly accomplish/ 
Sincerity is a kind of perfection. The Papists, among other places, 
bring this for one to show that a just man may fulfil the law of God. 
In this place it only implies a sincere respect to the whole duty of the 

The royal law. So he calleth it, either because God is the King of 
kings, and Jesus Christ the King of saints, Kev. xv. 3 ; and so the 
law, either in God's hands or Christ's hands, is a royal law, the least 
deflection from which is rebellion. You would not easily break kings' 


laws. God's laws are royal laws because of the dignity of the author 
of them. The Syriac interpreter favoureth this sense, for he trans- 
lateth it ' the law of God ; ' or they may be called so from their own 
worth : that which is excellent, we call it royal ; or else because of 
its great power upon the conscience. Men's laws are but properly 
ministerial and explicatory ; God's is royal and absolute. Or ' the 
royal law/ to show the plainness and perspicuity of it, like ' a royal 
way ; ' or, as we express it, ' the king's highway/ So it is said, 
Num. xxi. 22, ' We will only go by the king s way/ Suitable to 
which expression, ' the royal law ' may imply the highway and road of 
duty. Or, lastly, a royal law, to note the ingenuity of its precepts. 
The command of God, that is to guide you in dispensing your respects, 
doth not oblige you to this servility ; the duty of it is more royal and 

According to the scriptures ; that is, as the tenor of it is often set 
down in the word. The form here specified is often repeated, Lev. 
xix. 18. The Septuagint, in the translation of that place, have the 
same words with our apostle. It is often repeated by our Lord, see 
Mat. xxii. 39 ; and often by the apostles, see Kom. xiii. 9 ; Gal. v. 14. 
The full import of this rule we shall anon open. 

Ye do ivell. The same form is used, Phil. iv. 14, and implieth that 
then they were not blameworthy, and might justly be absolved and 
acquitted from the guilt charged in the context. And by the way we 
may hence gather, that the apostle doth not simply forbid a respect to 
the rich, but a respect sordid and invested with the circumstances of 
the context. 

Out of this verse observe : 

Obs. 1. That the vilest wickedness will have a fair covert and pre 
tence. Sin loves to walk under a disguise ; the native face of it is 
ugly and odious. Therefore Satan in policy, and our hearts deceived 
by ignorance and self-love, seek to mask and hide it, that we may 
spare ourselves, which should press us to the greater heed. Never 
seek a cover of duty for a vile practice, and to excuse checks of con 
science by some pretence from the law. It is Satan's cunning some 
times to dress up sins in the form and appearance of duty, and at 
other times to represent duty in the garb of sin : as Christ's healing 
on the Sabbath day. Be the more suspicious, especially in a matter 
wherein your private advantage is concerned, lest base compliance 
be reputed a necessary submission, and unjust gain be counted godli 
ness. Examine the nature of the practice by the rule, Is the royal 
law appliable to such servility ? And examine your own hearts. Is 
my aim right as well as my action ? It is not enough to do what 
the law requires, but it must be done in that manner which the law 
requireth. Matter of duty may be turned into sin, where the respect 
and aim is carnal. 

Obs. 2. That coming to the law is the best way to discover self- 
deceits. If it be according to the law (saith the apostle), it is well. 
Paul died by the coming of the commandment, Kom. vii. 9 ; that is, 
in conviction upon his heart ; saw himself in a dead and lost estate. 
So Eom. iii. 20, ' By the law is the knowledge of sin ;' and therefore we 
should often talk with the commandment, consult with it in all practices. 


Obs. 3. That the Lord's law is a royal law. (1.) It hath a kingly 
author. The solemn motive to obedience is, 'I am the Lord.' 
Marcion blasphemed in saying the law came from an evil God. 
Many now speak so contemptuously of it as if they had a Marcionite's 
spirit. The same Lord Jesus that gave the gospel gave also the law. 
Therefore it is so often said, Acts vii., that the law was ' given by an 
angel ; ' that is, the angel of the covenant. So Heb. xii. 25 to end ; 
the apostle proves that it was the voice of the Lord Jesus that shook 
Mount Sinai. It is a known rule in divinity that the Father never 
appeared in any shape, and therefore that all those apparitions in the 
Old Testament were of the second person. (2.) It requires noble 
work, fit for kings ; service most proportioned to the dignity of a man's 
spirit. Service is an honour, and duty a privilege : Hosea viii. 12, 
' The great things ' (it is in the vulgar Jionorabilia legis, the honour 
able things) ' of my law/ It is said of Israel that no nation was so 
high in honour above all nations, because they had God's statutes, 
which was ' their wisdom/ Deut. vii. The brightest part of God's 
glory is his holiness ; and therefore it is said, ' Glorious in holiness ; ' 
and it is our dignity to be holy. That must needs be a royal law 
that maketh all those kings that fulfil it. (3.) There is royal wages ; 
no less than all of you to be made kings and princes unto God : ' Enter 
into the kingdom prepared for you ; ' and, ' henceforth is laid up for 
me a crown,' 2 Tim. iv. 8. This is the entertainment that ye shall 
have from God hereafter, to be all crowned kings and princes. Oh ! 
then, give the law this honour in your thoughts. Naturally men 
adore strictness. How great is the excellency of God's statutes! 
Check yourselves, that you can no more come under the power of 
them. In the ways of sin you have a bad master, worse work, and the 
worst wages. There is a bad master : ' His lusts will ye do/ John viii. 
44 ; they are Satan's lusts, he is the author of them. There is bad 
work ; sin is the greatest bondage and thraldom, 2 Peter ii. 18, the 
heart naturally riseth against it. Then there is bad wages : Born, vi., 
' The wages of sin is death/ Well, then, press these disproportions, and 
say, ' What evil have I found in God ? ' Jer. ii. 5. Hath God or 
sin been a land of darkness to me ? I have served him these eighty 
years (said Poly carp), /cal OVK rjSifcijcre ^e, and he never did me harm. 
Eeason with yourselves : Will you sin against a royal Lord, such royal 
work, such a royal reward ? 

Obs. 4. That the rule that God hath left us is laid down in the 
scriptures ; there is the signification of his will, and from thence must 
it be sought : they are ' able to make the man of God perfect/ 

Obs. 5. The scriptures require we should love our neighbour as our 
selves. Paul saith, Gal. v. 14, ' All the law is fulfilled in one word : 
love thy neighbour as thyself/ All the law, that is, all that part of 
the law which concerns our duty towards others; or all the law, ^ by 
worshipping God, in discharging our duty towards man, and so turning 
both tables into one. And Christ saith, Mat. vii. 12, ' This is the 
law, and the prophets ' that is, the sum of the whole word, and that 
standard of equity which is erected therein that ' whatsoever ye 
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them : ' for which 
saying Severus reverenced Christ and Christianity. But must a man 


love his neighbour with the same proportion of care and respect that 
he doth himself ? The special love of a man to his wife is expressed 
by this, Eph. v. 28, ' So ought men to love their wives as their own 
bodies;' and the Hebrew expression is the same in all other places : 
* Let him love his neighbour as his own body.' And must he now 
love every one with those singular respects and proportions of affection 
that he beareth to himself and his wife ? 

I answer The strictness of the precept should not amaze us. Christ 
raiseth it one peg higher : John xiii. 34, ' I have given you a com 
mandment, that as I have loved you, so ye should love one another.' 
There is another manner of pattern : Christ's love was intense, and 
the measure of it beyond the conceit of our thoughts : Yet as I love, 
so must ye love one another. 

But for the opening of this matter, I shall first show you, Who is 
your neighbour ; secondly. What kind of love is required to him. 

First, Who is your neighbour ? a question necessary to be pro 
pounded. It was propounded to Christ himself : Luke x. 29, ' Who 
is my neighbour?' The solution may be gathered out of Christ's 
answer. First, In the general, every man to whom I may be helpful ; 
and the term neighbour is used because our charity is most exercised 
and drawn out to those that are near us, the objects that are about us. 
But it must not be confined there : for Christ proves that a stranger 
may be a neighbour, Luke x. 36. All people that have the face of a man 
are called ' our flesh,' Isa. Iviii. 7, and ' one blood,' Acts xvii. 26 * one 
blood,' cousins at a remoter distance. Any man is a neighbour in 
regard of the nearness of our first original, and as he is capable of 
the same glory and blessedness which we expect ; and so a stranger, 
an enemy, may be a neighbour by the gospel rules, and an object of 
such love as we bear unto ourselves, we being bound to desire his 
good, by virtue of his manhood, as we would our own. Secondly, 
There are more especial neighbours, who dwell about us, and are 
more frequent with us, whose necessities must provoke us to more 
acts and expressions of love ; and as they are more or less near unto 
us, so are we to proportion our love to them : those that dwell with 
us before strangers. Thus the Hebrews preferred the men of their 
own nation before the Grecians ' in the daily ministration,' Acts vi. 
And then our kindred, and those of our family, before a common 
neighbour ; as the apostle saith, 1 Tim. v. 8, ' If any man provideth 
not for his own, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.' 
He speaks upon the case of showing pity at home. And then our 
children are in the next rank before them ; and the wife of the bosom 
before them all : and accordingly must all acts of bounty and pro 
vision be dispensed. Thirdly, There are spiritual neighbours, and 
they are those who are begotten by the same Spirit to the same hopes, 
who are to have a special preferment in our affection ; I mean, in that 
kind of affection which is proper to Christianity : and for all outward 
acts of bounty and love, they are to have the pre-eminence, our children 
and families only excepted, which, by the law of nature, in this case 
are to be looked upon as a part of ourselves : Gal. vi. 10, ' As we 
have opportunity, let us do good to all men ; especially to the house 
hold of faith.' In short, in the love of bounty, the poor and necessitous 


man is the special neighbour ; in the love of delight, the godly man 
is to have the preferment : * My delights are to the excellent of the 
earth,' Ps. xvi. 2. Which also is Bernard's determination, Meliori 
major affectus, indigentiori major effectus, tribuendus est the best 
must have most of our affection, the poorest most of our bounty : 
Luke xiv. 12-14, ' When thou makest a feast, call not thy rich neigh 
bours/ &c. He doth not condemn honest courtesies, but reproveth the 
Pharisees' error, who thought by these things to satisfy the command 
ment; just as these did here in the text, who would seem to make that 
an act of charity which was but an act of covetousness, and called that 
love which was base servility and compliance : and we still see that 
many esteem that Christian communion which is indeed but a carnal 
visit, and pretend courtesy to excuse charity. 

Secondly, What kind of love is required in this expression, we are 
to love them as ourselves ? I answer The expression showeth the 
manner of our love, not the measure of it ; a parity and likeness for 
kind, not for proportion. It cannot be understood in the same 
degree, partly because in some cases a man is bound to love his 
neighbour more than himself ; as 1 John iii. 16, ' We ought to lay 
down our lives for the brethren/ my single life to save^the whole 
community. And so we ought to help on one another's spiritual good 
with the loss of our temporal : we may expose ourselves to uncertain 
danger to hinder another's certain danger. The apostle Paul, in a 
glorious excess of charity, could prefer the common good of the salva 
tion of all the Jews before the particular salvation of his own soul : 
Kom. ix. 3, ' I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for 
my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh ; ' and Moses, for the 
general safety of Israel, could wish himself to be ' blotted out of God's 
book/ Exod. xxxii. Cases may happen wherein a public good may be 
more considerable, and better in itself, than my particular happiness ; 
and then in self-denial I am bound to love others better than myself. 
And partly because, on the other hand, in ordinary cases it is impos 
sible I should be as strongly moved, or as industriously active, in 
another man's case as I would in my own ; therefore, as I said, the 
rule intendeth the kind of affection, and the way of it ; that is, with 
what mind and in what course I should pursue the good of others 
with the same heart and in the same way I would mine own ; and 
chiefly aimeth at the prevention of a double evil usual among men 
self-love and injury : self-love, when men out of the privacy and 
narrowness of their spirits, only ' mind their own things ; ' and injury, 
when men care not how they deal with others. First, It preventeth 
self-love by pressing us (1.) To mind the good of others : 1 Cor. 
x. 24, ' Let no man seek his own, but each man another's wealth/ 
their comfort and contentment, by all offices of humanity suitable and 
convenient to their necessities ; especially to promote their spiritual 
good, labouring to procure it, praying for them, though they be 
enemies, as David fasted for his enemies, Ps. xxxv. But alas ! this 
love is quite decayed in these last ages of the world. ^They are 
mightily infamed in the scriptures for self-seeking, 2 Tim. iii. 2. One 
said, 1 The world was once destroyed, propter ardorem cnpidinis, with 

1 Ludolphus de Vita Christi. 


water for the heat of lust ; and it will be again destroyed, propter 
teporem charitatis, with fire for the coldness of love. These duties 
are quite out of date and use. (2.) To niind their good really, as 
truly, though not as much. The apostle saith, ' Let love be without 
dissimulation ; ' and St John speaketh often of ' loving in truth/ 
Though we are not every way as earnest, yet we must be as real in 
promoting their good as our own, without any self-end and reflections 
upon our own advantage and profit. Secondly, It preventeth injury, 
by directing us to deal with others as we would have them to deal 
with ourselves ; wishing them no more hurt than we would wish our 
own souls : I mean, when we are in our right reason, and self-love is 
regular ; hiding their defects and infirmities as you would your own ; 
pardoning their offences as you desire God should do yours ; and in 
all contracts and acts of converse putting your souls in their stead. 
Would I be thus dealt with ? If I had my own choice, would not I 
be otherwise used ? In all our commerce it is good to make frequent 
appeals to our consciences: Would I have this measure measured 
unto my own soul ? 

And thus I have opened the great rule of all commerce, ' Love thy 
neighbour as thyself ;' whose intent is, as I said, partly to prevent 
self-love, by showing we must do others good as well as ourselves ; 
and partly to prevent injury, that we may do others no more evil than 
we do ourselves. 

Ver. 9. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are 
convinced of the laic as transgressors. 

Here is the second part of the apostle's answer. In the former part 
there was the concession, 'Ye do well/ if you give this respect in 
obedience to the law : but here is the correction ; you give it contrary 
to the direction of the law, and so it is not a duty, but a sin. 

But if ye have respect to persons ; that is, if, in distributing the 
honours and censures of the church, you judge altogether according to 
men's outward quality and condition, as before was cleared 

Ye commit sin ; that is, it is not a duty, as you pretend, but a sin ; 
and, whatever you think, the law, which is the rule of Christ's process, 
will find you guilty. 

And are convinced of the law. This may be understood, either 
generally, that, whatever their pretences were, yet the law would find 
them out, and distinguish their unjust partiality from a necessary re 
spect ; or else, more especially, it may be understood of the law which 
they urged, ; Love thy neighbour as thyself ;' which required an equai 
respect to the neighbour, however distinguished, whether rich or poor ; 
or else the apostle intendeth the law against respect of persons : Lev. 
xix. 15, ' Thou shalt do no unrighteousness in judgment ; thou shalt 
not respect the person of the poor, nor the person of the mighty ; but 
in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.' To which place I 
suppose the apostle almdeth, because it is so fair for his purpose, and 
because in that context the general of love to the neighbour is re 
peated, see ver. 18 ; and in that the Septuagint have the very same 
words which the apostle useth in ver. 8. 

As transgressors. c /2?, the word in the original for os,implieth reality, 1 

1 ' Veritatem, non similitudinem.' Laurent, in locum. 


not only similitude and likeness ; that is, that you are indeed trans 
gressors. I do the rather note it for the opening of a like expression 
in a matter important and weighty ; it is in John i. 14, * We saw his 
glory, as the glory of the only-begotten Son of God ;' that is, not like 
the glory of the Son of God, but that he was indeed so. 

Little is to be observed out of this verse, because the matter of it is 
handled in the context. Only note : 

Obs. 1. That the word and rule discovereth wickedness when our 
blind consciences do not. Conscience hath but a weak light, and 
that light is partial: 'Favour thyself is the language of corrupt 
nature ; and, therefore, that we may not be injurious to our own quiet, 
deluded conscience is apt to mistake every pretence for duty, and the 
outward work of every duty for the power and life of it ; therefore the 
apostle saith of the heathens, that had but a little light, that they 
only minded epyov vb^ov, ' the work of the law/ Kom. ii. 14 ; that is, 
the external matter of the commandment. Nay, those that have more 
light are every way as unfaithful in the use of it. Paul rested con 
tented with his pharisaism and outward righteousness, till, by a serious 
application of the rule, he found that to be a merit of death which he 
had formerly reckoned upon as a plea for life. That I suppose he 
intendeth when he sayeth, ' I was alive without the law, but the com 
mandment coming, I died,' Kom. vii. 9. Well, then, we see we have 
need to attend upon the word, and consult with the law, not the 
crooked rule of our own consciences. 

Obs. 2. It is but a crafty pretence when one part of the law is 
pleaded to excuse obedience to another ; for when we pick and choose, 
we do not fulfil God's will, but our own. 1 These pretended submis 
sive respect to the rich, as due by the law, but forgot those other pre 
cepts that established a duty to the poor. Conscience must be satisfied 
with something ; therefore men usually please themselves in so much 
of obedience as is least contrary to their interests and inclinations, and 
have not an entire uniform respect to the whole law. It is as if a ser 
vant should think himself dutiful when he goeth to a feast or a fair 
when his master biddeth him ; when, in the meantime, he declineth 
errands of less trouble, but of more service : whereas in such matters 
he doth not obey his master's will, but his own inclination. So in 
commands easy and compliant with our own humours and designs, we 
do not so much serve God as our own interests ; and there is more of 
design than of duty and religion in such actions ; and, therefore, they 
lose their reward with God. As to instance in a matter suitable to 
the context, God hath required that persons should be hospitable and 
harborous. Now men of a social nature will soon hear in that ear, and 
think themselves liberal and bountiful because they spend much in 
festivity and entertainment, or in feasting with their rich neighbours ; 
whereas little or nothing is done out of a well-tempered charity, and 
in refreshing the poor members of Christ. Now this is no more ac 
cepted of God than the offering of a dog's head in sacrifice ; because 
all this is but a lust fed and served under a pretence of religion 
joviality under the disguise of Christian charity and bounty ; and, 

' Qui facit solummodo ea quae vult facere, non dominicam voluntatem implet, sed 
suam.' Salman. 


therefore the apostle maketh entertainments to he hut ' sowing to the 
flesh/ Gal. vi. 8 ; for I suppose the drift of that context is to distinguish 
between what is spent in charity and luxury : and in the process of 
the last day (described Mat. xxv.), Christ doth not ask what thou hast 
done to the rich, but to his poor members to the hungry, the naked, 
&c. Well, then, beware of such a partial, disproportionate obedience. 
Hypocrites use to divide between the tables between duty to God and 
duty to man ; and in the respects due to man they are swayed more by 
their own humours and interests than the true motives of obedience ; and, 
therefore, though they usually exceed in their duty and submission to 
the rich, yet they neglect if not contemn the poor, either in their suf 
frages and elections to ecclesiastical honours and offices, or in acts of 
judicature, or in duties of private charity, in visits and entertain 
ments ; which respect of persons our apostle justly disproveth, taxing 
it for a transgression, and not a duty. 

Ver. 10. For whosoever shall keep the whole laiv, and yet offend in 
one point, is guilty of all. 

The connection between this verse and the former is this : They 
had pleaded that their respect of the rich was but a necessary civility, 
and a duty of the law ; or, at least, that it was but a small offence, 
such as might be excused by their innocent intention, and obedience 
in other things, which was an opinion rife in those days ; and that 
some i make to the occasion of this sentence, that the apostle might 
disprove that conceit which was then so common, that obedience in some 
things did make amends for their neglect and disobedience in other 
things. That the conceit was common appeareth by several passages 
of Christ and the apostles. Our Saviour chargeth it often upon the 
Pharisees. Ben Maimon, in his treatise of repentance, hath such a 
passage as this is : ' Every one/ saith he, ' hath his merits and his 
sins. He whose merits are equal to 2 his sins, he is tzadoc^ the right 
eous man ; he whose sins are greater than his merits, he is rashang, 
the wicked man ; but where the sins and the merits are equal, he 
is the middle man, partly happy, and partly miserable.' This was 
the sum of the Jewish doctrine in the more corrupt tim&s; and 
some think the apostle might meet with this error in this verse, by 
showing that the least breach rendered a man obnoxious to the 
danger of the violation of the whole law. Kather, I suppose, it lieth 
thus : They satisfied themselves with half duty, using over-much observ 
ance to the rich, and to the poor nothing at all. He had before said, et 
vofjiov reXetre j3a<ri\i/cov, ' If ye fulfil, or perfect, the royal law/ Now, 
they minded that part of it that was advantageous to them ; it was 
not full or perfect obedience to cut off so much of duty as was less 
profitable : therefore the law convinced them ' as transgressors.' The 
royal law saith, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ; ' and man 
is not to make such exceptions as please him best, to defalcate and cut 
off such a considerable part of duty at his own pleasure. God saith, 
' thy neighbour ; ' and I must not say, ' my rich neighbour only/ 
There must be an even and adequate care to comply with the whole 
will of God, or else it is not obedience, but you are in the danger of 
transgressors. This hint maketh much for the opening of the verse, 

1 See Camero, the last edition of his works in folio, p. 170. 2 Qu. ' Greater than ' ? ED. 


a place in itself difficult. Augustine l consulted with Jerome about 
the sense of it in a long epistle ; and, indeed, at the first view, the 
sentence seemeth harsh and rough. I shall first open the phrases, 
remove false inferences from it, and then establish the true notes and 
observations, that this scripture may have its due and proper force 
upon the conscience. 

Whosoever shall keep the ivliole law. He speaketh upon supposition. 
Suppose a man should be exact in all other points of the law, which 
yet is impossible, we may suppose things that never shall be. Or else 
he speaketh according to their pretences and presumptions. They 
supposed they were not to be taxed or convinced as transgressors in 
any other matter : grant it, saith the apostle ; or else he speaketh of 
the whole of this commandment, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour/ 
&c. Suppose your duty to rich men, and where it may make for your 
advantage, be whole and entire. 

Yet {f he offend in one point. Willingly, constantly, and with 
allowance from conscience ; with thought of merit and excuse, because 
of his obedience in other matters. 

He is guilty of all. Liable to the same punishment, standeth upon 
the same terms of hope and acceptance with God, as if he had done 
nothing. A man may violate totam legem though not totum legis ; sin 
against the dignity and authority of the whole law, though he doth not 
actually break every part of it. Ay ! but you will say, as the apostles, 
Mat. xix., ' Who then can be saved ? ' Here is a terrible sentence that 
will much discourage God's little ones, who are conscious to themselves 
of their daily failings. I answer That which the apostle aimeth at is 
the discovery of hypocrites, not the discouragement of saints. As Zuin- 
glius, when he had flashed the thunder and lightning of God in the 
face of sinners, he was wont to come in with this proviso, Bone Chris- 
tiane, haic nihil ad te poor Christian, this is not spoken tothee. So 
this is not spoken to discourage God's children, however it may be of 
use to them to make them more humble, cautious, and watchful, as 
lions will tremble when dogs are beaten. To clear the place, before I 
come to lay down the notes, I shall, according to promise, remove the 
false inferences. (1.) You cannot conclude hence that all sins are 
equal. They are all damning, not all alike damning. Some guilt 
may be more heinous, but all is deadly. And that is it which James 
asserteth : he saith, 'he is guilty of all,' but not equally guilty. The 
apostle would infer an equality of care and respect to the whole law, 
but not an equality of sin. All that can be collected is this, that one 
allowed, wilful, deliberate breach and violation forfeiteth our right 
eousness, and maketh us become obnoxious to the curse of the whole 
law, and the sinner shall no less die than if he had broken all by an 
actual transgression. So that, although all allowed sins deserve 
death, yet there is a difference still remaining in the several degrees 
of guilt and the curse. (2.) You cannot hence conclude that total 
rebellion is simply, and in itself, better than formal profession. Christ 
loved the man for the good things that were in him from his youth, 
and telleth him, ' Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.' We 
read of greater sins, and more intolerable judgment. Good moral 

1 Aug. Retract., lib. ii. cap. 45 ; et Epist. 102 adEvodium ; et Epist. 29 ad Hieron. 


heathens may have a cooler hell. (3.) You cannot apply it to them 
whose care of obedience is universal, though the success be not 
answerable : Ps. cxix. 6, ' Then shall I not be ashamed when I have 
respect to all thy commandments ; ' not when I have observed, but 
when I have respect. Gracious hearts look to all, when they cannot 
accomplish all ; and upon every known defect and failing they humble 
themselves, and seek mercy. It doth not exclude them, for then it 
would exclude all. But when men allow and please themselves in a 
partial obedience, without fore-care, present-striving, and after-grief, 
they come under the terror of this sentence. God will dispense with 
none that can dispense with themselves in any known failing. (4.) 
You must not urge this sentence to the exclusion of the comforts of 
the gospel, and the hopes that we have by the grace of God in Christ : 
for this sentence in itself is legal, the very rigour of the law, and such 
sayings brook the exceptions of repentance and free grace : for the 
rigour of the law can only take place on those that are under the bond 
of it, and are not freed by Christ. That this is the voice of the law is 
plain, because it consenteth with that sum and tenor of it which is 
laid down Deut. xxvii. 26, ' Cursed is every one that continueth not 
in all the words of this law to do them.' If they failed but in a cir 
cumstance, in a ceremony, they were under the power of the curse. So 
the apostle urgeth it. Gal. iii. 10, ' As many as are under the works of 
the law, are under the curse ; for cursed is he that continueth not in all 
things to do them/ Now Christ hath redeemed all those that have in 
terest in him from this curse, by being (as the apostle saith there, ver. 13) 
' made a curse for us ;' so that there is a remedy in Christ, of which 
we are possessed by faith and repentance. And let it not seem strange 
to any that I say the sentence is legal, for many of that nature are 
here and there intermixed and scattered throughout the gospel, because 
they are of excellent use and service for gospel ends and purposes : as 
to convince hypocrites, whose obedience is always partial; to drive 
men to the grace revealed in the gospel ; and for the guidance and 
rule of Christians, that they may know the whole will of God. For 
though we are freed from the rigour of the law, yet we ought to look 
to the whole rule, and, as much as in us lieth, to strive, f^rj Trraiew eV 
evl, not to offend in one point and tittle, not to rest in their imperfec 
tions, but to strive against them. Christ hath again revived this 
strictness : Mat. v. 19, ' Whosoever shall break one of these command 
ments, and teach men to do so, shall be least in the kingdom of God ;' 
that is, shall not be owned for a gospel minister. Christ is chary of 
his least saints and least commandments. Though there be a pardon, 
of course, for infirmities and failings, yet Christ hath not abated any 
thing of the strictness of the law. The Pharisees thought that some 
commandments were little and arbitrary; and therefore the lawyer 
came to Christ : Mat. xxii. 36, * Master, which is the great command 
ment in the law ? ' It is true, some duties are more excellent ; but 
the question was propounded according the mind of the Pharisees, 
who accounted outward devotionary acts most singular, and their own 
traditions weighty things ; now he cometh to see if Christ liked the 
distribution. (5.) You must not urge this sentence to pervert the 
order of the commandments ; as if a man, in committing theft, com- 


mitted adultery ; and in committing adultery, he committed murder. 
It is notable the apostle doth not say, ' He transgresseth all,' but ' he 
is guilty of all/ The precepts are not to be taken disjunctim, but 
conjunctim and completive ; not severally, but altogether, as they 
make one entire law and rule of righteousness, the contempt reflect 
ing upon the whole law when it is wilfully violated in one part ; as he 
that wrongeth one member, wrongeth the whole man or body of which 
it is a part. The text being vindicated, I shall sum up the whole 
verse into one observation, which is : 

Obs. That voluntary and allowed neglects of any part of the law 
make us guilty of the violation of the whole law. Many reasons 
might be urged to mollify the seeming asperity and rigour of the 
point ; as partly because the contempt of the same authority is mani 
fested in the breach of one as well as of all : all the commands are 
equal in regard of God ; they are all ratified by the same authority, 
which man contemneth when he maketh his own will the measure of 
obedience ; and partly because the same curse is deserved, which, when 
neglects are voluntary, taketh place ; partly because the law is but 
one copulation, like a chain which is dissolved by the loosening of one 
link ; partly because all sin proceedeth from the same corruption : 
the least sin is contrary to love, as well as the least drop of water to 
fire j 1 partly because amongst men it is counted equal : one condition 
not observed forfeiteth the whole lease ; and partly because one sin 
cere duty hath much promised to it, and therefore one sin hath its 
proportionable guilt. True love is called a * fulfilling of the wholo 
law/ Kom. xiii. 8. And, in God's account, he that sincerely repenteth 
of one sin, repenteth of all. And so, on the contrary, one allowed sin 
is virtually a violation of the whole law ; and, therefore, when some 
went to gather manna on the Sabbath day, God said, Exod. xvi. 28, 
' How long will ye refuse to keep my commandments and my laws ? ' 
implying that in the breach of that one they had broken all. 

There are many uses of this note : because they are of profit and 
concernment to you, in the right application of this place, I shall give 
them you in their order. 

1. It showeth how tender we should be of every command: wilful 
violation amounteth to a total neglect ; therefore, as wisdom adviseth, 
Prov. vii. 2, ' Keep my law as the apple of thine eye/ The least 
dust offendeth the eye ; and so the law is a tender thing, and soon 
wronged. Lest you forfeit all your righteousness at once, it is good 
to be careful. 

2. That partial obedience is an argument of insincerity. When 
we neglect duties that either thwart carnal desires or prejudice carnal 
concernments, we do not please God, but ourselves. We are to walk 
' in all God's statutes/ Luke i. 6. David fulfilled irdvra ra QeXtffiara, 
' all the wills of God/ Acts xiii. 22. 

3. That it is a vain deceit to excuse defects of one duty by care of 
another. Sometimes men ante-date, sometimes they post-date, an 
indulgence. They ante-date it when they sin upon a presumption 
they shall make amends by repentance, or that their future good 
deeds shall be a sufficient expiation or satisfaction. They post-date 

1 * Contra earn charitatem facit, in qua pendent omnia.' Aug. Epist. 29. 


it when, from duties already done, they take liberty or an occasion to 
sin the more freely : Ezek. xxxiii. 13, ' If he trust to his righteous 
ness, and commit iniquity/ that is, if, upon that occasion of right 
eousness so done, called, or thought to be so in his apprehension, he 
shall adventure upon sin, the doom is, ' he shall die the death/ We 
see many men's hearts grow loose and vain after duties, and they are 
the more presumptuous and careless out of a vain conceit that super- 
erogating in some things will excuse obedience in others. 

4. That upon any particular failing we ought to renew our peace 
with God. I have done that now which will make me guilty of the 
whole law ; therefore, soul, run to thy advocate : 1 John ii. 1, * If any 
man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the 
righteous.' Oh ! go to Christ that he may sue out your pardon ; 
your hearts are not right with God if you do not use this course : 
after daily transgressions sue out a daily pardon. The children of 
God are like fountains ; when mud is stirred up they do not leave till 
they can get themselves clear again. Particular sins must have 
particular applications of grace, for in themselves, in their own merit, 
they leave you under a curse. It is good to deprecate it, as David 
doth, Ps. vi. 1, '0 Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger/ &c. 

5. That we must not only regard the work of duty, but all the 
circumstances of it ; and so proportionably, not only the acts of sin, 
but the vicious motions and inclinations of it. One point is 
dangerous. The Pharisees were for external duties, and the avoid 
ing of gross sins, but securely allowed themselves in sins more hidden, 
which yet are of a dangerous consequence. Malice is murder ; and 
thereupon John saith, 1 John iii. 15, ' No murderer hath, eternal life/ 
And lust is adultery, Mat. v. 28 ; a look, a glance, a thought, a 
desire, is in itself damnable, and brooketh only the exception of the 
divine grace. 

6. That former profession will do no good in case there be a total 
revolt afterward. A little poison in a cup, and one leak in a ship, 
may ruin all. A man may ride right for a long time, but one turn in 
the end of the journey may bring him quite out of the way. Gideon 
had seventy sons, and but one bastard, and yet that bastard destroyed 
all the rest, Judges viii. It is said, Eccles. ix. 18, ' One sinner destroy- 
eth much good/ Once a sinner, all is lost ; the ancients expound it 
that way. So Ezek. xxxiii. 13, ' All his righteousness shall be 
forgotten ; ' that is, all will be to no purpose. As the sins of one that 
repenteth are carried into a land of darkness, so are their duties who 

7. That the smallness of sin is a poor excuse; it is an aggravation 
rather than an excuse : it is the more sad, that we should stand with 
God for a trifle. Luke xvi. 21, he would not give a crumb, and this 
wonderfully displeased God ; he did not receive a drop. God's judg 
ments have been most remarkable when the occasion was least. 
Adam was cast out of paradise for an apple ; so gathering of sticks on 
the Sabbath day, looking into the ark, &c. God's command bindeth 
in lesser things as well as greater; though the object be different, the 
command is still the same : ' I tasted but a little honey (saith 
Jonathan), and I must die/ 1 Sam. xiv. 43. It will be sad to you to 


go to hell for a small matter. One of the prophet's aggravations is, 
that they ' sold the righteous for a pair of shoes,' Amos ii. 6. Would 
you contest with God for a small thing and of little consequence ? As 
it is imprudence, so it is unkindness. 

Ver. 11. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do 
not kill. Now if thou commit adultery, yet if thou do not kill, thou 
art become a transgressor of the law. 

Here is a proof of the intent of the former sentence, that we are not 
to look to the matter of the command, how it complieth with our 
desires and interests, but to the authority of the lawgiver. He giveth 
an instance in the sixth and seventh commandments. God, that hath 
said one, hath said both ; they are precepts of the same law and law 
giver ; and therefore, in the violation of one of these laws the authority 
of the law is violated. 

He that said, Do not commit adultery ; that is, that threatened 
adultery with death, Deut. xxii. 22, threatened also murder with 
death, Lev. xxiv. 17, and Deut. xix. 13 ; and the apostle useth that 
phrase ' He that said,' as alluding to the preface of the law : Exod. 
xx. 1, ' God spake all these words, saying.' He instancetli in such sins 
as are not only digested into the sum of the moral law, but are more 
directly against the light of nature, that so his argument might 
be the more strong and sensible ; which is to be noted, lest we should 
think that only a uniformity of obedience is required to those precepts 
that forbid sins openly gross and heinous. 

Out of these words observe : 

Obs. 1. That we must not so much dispute the matter of the com 
mand, as look to the will of the lawgiver. He proveth that the whole 
law had an equal obligation upon the conscience, because he that said 
the one said the other. God's will is motive enough to obedience, 
1 Peter ii. 15 ; 1 Thes. iv. 3 ; v. 18. Every sin is an affront to 
God's sovereignty, as if his will were not reason enough ; and to his 
wisdom, as if he did not know what were good for men ; and to his 
justice, as if the ways of God were unequal. When your hearts stick 
at any duty, shame yourselves with these considerations : It is a trial 
of sincerity ; then duty is well done when it is done intuitu voluntatis, 
with a bare sight of God's will. And it is a motive to universal 
obedience j 1 this duty is required as well as other duties, and enjoined 
by the same will. 

Obs. 2. Duties and sins are of several kinds, according to the several 
laws of God. Man hath several affections ; every one must have a 
special law : he hath several essential parts ; God giveth laws to both : 
he is disposed to several providences, which needeth a distinct rule ; 
he is under several relations and obligations to God, which call for 
duties of a different nature and respect. Well, then, be not contented, 
with Herod, to ' hear many things,' gladly to practise somewhat. He 
that calleth you to pray calleth you to hear, to redeem time for 
meditation and other holy purposes. All commands are equally 
commanded, and must be equally observed. And be not secure, 
though you be not guilty of such sins as are reproved in others. Other 
diseases are mortal besides the plague : though you are not for the 

1 ' A quatenus ad omue valet consequential 


farm, you may be for the merchandise : though thou art not a thief or 
whore, yet thou mayest be covetous and worldly. There is, as Hippo 
crates said, 8t7rX77 navia, a double madness a sober madness as well 
as a trying. 1 You may be dead in sins, though not dissolute ; and 
though the life may be gravely ordered, yet the heart may be averse 
from God. The Pharisee could say, I am no adulterer, but he could 
not say, I am not proud, I am not self-confident. 

Ver. 12. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the 
law of liberty. 

Out of the whole discourse he inferreth a seasonable exhortation, 
that they would order their speeches and actions so as to endure the 
test and trial of the law, especially in the matter of impartial respects, 
because commanded by an impartial law. The reason of it lieth thus: 
Those that would be judged by the law should not omit the least part 
of it. But you desire to be judged by the moral law, evangelised or 
made a ' law of liberty ;' in which term he hinteth the reinforcement 
of the duties of the law of Moses in the gospel, which doth as exactly 
require a care in our speeches and actions as the law ; for though 
believers be freed from the terror of the law, yet not from the obedi 
ence of it ; yea, if they continue in any known and allowed neglects, 
they lose their privilege, and are not judged by a law of liberty, but 
fall under the utmost rigour and severity of the sentence forementioned. 

$o speak ye, and so do. He joineth the matter hinted in the close 
of the former chapter concerning speech, ver. 27, and the matter of 
the present chapter, concerning impartial respects, together ; and 
saith, ' so speak/ as relating to those directions ; ' so do/ as relating to 
the present case ; and the rather, because not only actions but speeches 
fall under the judgment of God and the law. 

As they that shall be judged. Some read, * as those that will judge/ 
as applying it to the direct context ; and they make out the sense 
thus : In the Old Testament, differences of persons were not so ex 
pressly forbidden ; but now, as differences of nation, so of relation, 
are taken away by the law of liberty : bond and free are all one in 
Christ, Gal. iii. 28 ; and therefore you are to judge without any re 
spect of persons. But this seemeth more argute than solid. It is 
better to keep our own reading, ' as those that shall be judged ;' that 
is, either in conscience here, or rather at the tribunal of God hereafter. 

By the laio of liberty. The same expression is used in the 25th 
verse of the former chapter. But what is the force of it here ? The 
lowest reason may be, because their observance of rich men was servile, 
and the law commanded nobler and freer respects, more separate from 
base aims and self -advantage ; or else in this expression the apostle 
may anticipate an objection which might be framed against the rigour 
of the former sentence ; they might pretend they had an exemption 
by Christ. The apostle granteth there was a liberty, but not a 
license ; for still there is a law, though to the elect a law of liberty ; 
but, saith he, see that your interest be good. To wicked men it is 
still a bondage, and a hard yoke. Therefore, walk so that you may 
not be judged in a legal way, for then the least failing maketh you 
obnoxious to the curse ; which rigour, if you would not undergo, see 

1 So in first edition ; in second edition, ' toying.' Qu. ' crying ' ? ED. 


that you walk so that you may give evidence that you are come under 
the banner of love and the privileges of the gospel. And then, when 
you come to be judged, you will be judged upon gospel terms ; other 
wise there is no liberty or freedom for any that allow themselves in 
the least breach or voluntary neglect, nothing to be expected but 
judgment without mercy. 

From this verse I observe : 

Obs. 1. That the law in the hands of Christ is a law of liberty. 

1. It is a ' law:' 1 Cor. ix. 21, ' I am not ai/o/*o9, without the law, but 
eWo/zo?, under the law to Christ.' There is a yoke, though not an 
insupportable burden. Though there be not rigour, yet there is a rule 
still. It is directive : ' He hath showed thee, man, what is good/ 
Micah vi. 8. The acceptable will of God is discovered in the law of ten 
words, and the moral part of the scripture is but a commentary upon it. 
And it is also imperative. It is not arbitrary to us whether we will 
obey or no. Laws are obliging. The will of the creator being signi 
fied to us in the law, we are under the commanding power of it. 
Things moral and just are perpetually obliging : Rom. vii. 12, ' The 
law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good/ It is holy, 
it discovereth true strictness. It is just or suitable to those common 
notices of right and equity which are impressed upon the creature ; 
and it is good, that is, profitable, useful for man. All which things 
infer a perpetual obligation ; and if the law were not obliging, there 
could be no sin ; for where there is no obligation, there is no trans 
gression : 1 John iii. 4, ' Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth the 
law ; for sin is the transgression of the law.' Now natural conscience 
would soon be offended at that doctrine that should make murder, 
incest, or adultery no sins ; and therefore it is but the vain conceit of 
profane men in these times to think that the gospel freeth us from the 
obligation of the law because it freeth us from the curse of it, for then 
all duty would be will-worship, and sin but a fond conceit. 

2. It is a ' law of liberty ; ' for there is a great deal of freedom pur 
chased by Christ. 

[1.] We are freed from the law, as a covenant of works. We 
are not absolutely bound to such rigour and exactness as that re 
quired. Life and glory is not offered upon such strict terms. We 
ought to aim at exactness of obedience, but not to despair if we can 
not reach it. We are so far to eye perfect obedience, as if it were still 
the matter of our justification, as to be humbled for defects. A gra 
cious heart cannot offend a good God without grief. Sin is still damn 
ing in its own nature, still a violation of a righteous law, still an 
affront to God. Nay, there are new arguments of humiliation, as sin 
ning against God's love and kindness, the forfeiting of our actual 
fruition of the comforts of the covenant, though not our right in it, &c. 
And as to be humbled for our defects, so to be as earnest in our 
endeavours. You have more reason to be strict, because you have 
more help. Lex jubet, gratia juvat we have more advantages, and 
therefore we should have more care of duty : Phil. iii. 11, ' I press on, 
that if it be possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead ; ' 
that is, the holiness of that state. A Christian's actions are much 
below his aims. They have no grace that can be content with a little 


grace. So that you see we ought to look to the law's utmost, though 
we be not judged by the law's rigour. Failings not allowed are par 
doned, and weaknesses passed by ; the obedience required of us being 
not that of servants, but children : Mai. iii. 17, ' I will spare them, as 
a man spareth his only son/ 

[2.] We are freed from the curse and condemnation. The law may 
condemn the actions, it cannot condemn the person. It judgeth 
actions according to their quality, but it hath no power over the per 
son. So we are said to be ' dead to the law/ Gal. ii. 19, and the law 
to us, Gal. iv. 6, and therefore the apostle saith, ovbev /card/cpifjia, 
' There is not one condemnation to them that are in Christ,' Bom. viii. 
1. The curse may be proposed to a believer, but it cannot take hold 
of a believer. Not only colts, but horses already broken, need a bridle. 

[3.] We are freed from the curse and irritation of the law : Bom. 
vii., ' Sin took occasion from the commandment/ Carnal hearts grow 
worse for a restraint, as waters swell and rage when the course is stopped. 
The very prohibition is an occasional provocation ; but to a gracious 
heart it is motive enough to a duty, because God willeth it. 

[4.] We are freed from bondage and terrors. By natural men duties 
are done servilely, and out of slavish principles : ' We have not received 
the spirit of bondage again unto fear,' Bom. viii. 15. The great prin 
ciple in the Old Testament, when the dispensation was more legal, 
was fear. Therefore it is said, ' The fear of God is the beginning 
of wisdom/ Prov. ix. ; and ' the whole duty of man is to fear God, 
and keep his commandments/ Eccles. xii. 13. Fear is represented 
as the great principle of duty and worship in the Old Testament, as 
suitable to that dispensation. But in the New we read that ' love 
constraineth/ 2 Cor. v. 14 ; that love ' keepeth the commandments/ 
1 John v. 2, &c. To the old world God more discovered his will, to 
us his grace ; and therefore our great constraint is to arise from love 
and sweetness. 

Use. It showeth us the happiness of those which are in Christ : the 
law to a believer is a law of liberty; to another it is the law of 
bondage and death. We may ' serve him without fear/ Luke i. 57, 
that is, without slavish fear. Beasts are urged with goads, and things 
without life haled with cart-ropes ; but Christians are led by sanctified 
affections, motives of grace, and considerations of gratitude. Oh! 
look to yourselves, then, whether you be in Christ or no. How sweet 
is this, when we are ' free for righteousness/ and do not complain 
of the commandment, but of sin, and the transgression is looked 
upon as a bondage, rather than duty ! The same apostle that groaned 
under the body of death, delighted in the law of the Lord in the 
inward man, Bom. vii. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our 
own corruptions. And again, how sweet is this, when the command 
giveth us a warrant, and love a motive, and we can come before God 
as children, not as hirelings ! 

Obs. 2. That we shall be judged by the law at the last day ; see 
Bom. ii. 12, ' As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by 
the law/ The apostle's drift is to prove that all men out of Christ 
are under a condemnation, whether they had a law promulged or a 
law inbred ; a law written in tables of stone, as the Jews ; or in tables 


of the heart, as the Gentiles. All are judged according to the decla 
rations of his will that God hath made to them : they that have 
gospel by gospel, or 'the law of faith/ Horn. iii. 31, 'The words 
that I have spoken, shall judge them at the last day,' John xii. 48 ; 
they that have only the law of nature, by the law natural ; they 
that had the law written, by the law of tables ; believers, by the law 
of liberty, Christ's obedience shall be put upon their score. How 
ever their actions are brought to be scanned by a law and rule, their 
faith shall be judged and approved by their works, which, though 
they be not the causes of glory, yet they are the evidences : as 
motion is not the cause of life, but the effect and token of it. That 
works are brought into judgment appeareth by that scheme, Mat. 
xxv. 35. So Kev. xx. 12, ' The books were opened, and every man 
was judged according to his works.' The judge of the world will 
show that he doth rightly. The works of the wicked are produced as 
the merit of their ruin ; the works of the godly, as evidences of glory : 
and therefore the apostle, when he speaketh of the process of God 
with the godly and wicked, he noteth the reward and the recompense 
of the godly in a different term and phrase : Kom. vi. 23, ' The wages 
of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life/ The works of the 
wicked are produced to show the equity of their wages ; the works of 
the godly, to declare their interest in his gift. Well, then, if the law 
be the rule of judgment, then let it be so now. If your confidence 
will not stand before the word, it will not stand before Christ at his 
appearing. We might anticipate and prevent the sentence of that 
day if we would go to the law and to the testimony. This is usual in 
experience, that persons the more ignorant, the more presuming ; and 
men that contemn and neglect the means of grace have highest hopes. 
The reason is, because they cherish a confidence which the word 
would soon confute ; and therefore, out of a secret consciousness of 
their own guilt, shun that way of trial : ' They come not to the light, 
lest their deeds should be reproved/ John iii. 20. Oh ! if you dare 
not stand before the word now, as it is opened by a minister, what will 
you do when it is opened by Christ? Therefore when the word 
reproveth, regard it with all reverence and fear : This word judgeth 
me now, and it will judge me at the last day. Many fret at the light ; 
as the Ethiopians once a year solemnly curse the sun. Oh ! but how 
will they gnash the teeth when this word shall be brought against 
them at the coming of Christ in the clouds ! 

Again, if we shall be judged according to the measure of light and 
knowledge that we have of the law, it presseth us to bring forth fruits 
answerable to the dispensation of God. It is sad to put the finger in 
nature's eye, much more to grow black and wanzy in the sunshine of 
the gospel. As God looketh to the rule, so to our proportions and 
measures of light : ' If I had not spoken to them, they had had no sin/ 
saith Christ ; that is, no such sin, not that kind of sin, not so ^much 
sin. Gentiles shall answer for their knowledge, and we according to 
our proportions. In sins of knowledge there is more of sin ; for accord 
ing to the sense that we have of the law forbidding, so is sin increased, 
and there is more of malice ; therefore apostates, who have most 
knowledge of the truth, are (as Arnobius saith) Haximi osores sui 


ordinis the greatest enemies to their own order and profession ; and 
suitable the prophet Hosea v. 2, ' The revolters are profound to make 
slaughter.' Certainly there is more unkindness to God when we sin 
against a direct sight and intuition of his will : and therefore David 
aggravateth his adultery, because it was committed after God had 
made him ' to know wisdom in the inward part,' Ps. li. 6 ; which cer 
tainly is the intent of the Hebrew text there, though we read somewhat 
otherwise in our translation. It is sad that after the law is written 
upon the heart, it should be transgressed ; in such acts there is a kind 
of violence offered to the principles and suggestions of our own bosom. 
Obs. 3. It is a great help to our Christian course to think of the 
day of judgment. They best prepare themselves to the spiritual 
battle that always hear the sound of that day's trump. Do not think 
it is against the liberty of the gospel to think of these severe accounts, 
or a talk only for novices ; it is useful for the children of God. 
Though they are delivered from the rigour of that day, yet they ought 
still to reflect upon it with reverence. I confess there are some ser 
vile reflections which beget nothing but torment and bondage in the 
spirit ; these will not become the children of God. But still a holy 
awe and reverence is necessary ; you will find it of special use to 
quicken you to Christian care and watchfulness. There are evange 
lical reflections which serve to make the spirit strict, but not servile. 
It is a fondness in them that think this argument is wholly legal. The 
apostle Paul maketh the doctrine of judgment to come to be a part 
of the gospel, Kom. ii. 13 : ' God will judge the secrets of all men 
according to my gospel,' that is, according as I have taught in the 
dispensation of the gospel. And, indeed, it is a branch of the most 
glorious part of the doctrine of the gospel ; Christ's judging being the 
highest and most imperial act of his kingly office. The truth is, it is of 
excellent use to invite wicked men to repentance, and therefore Paul 
chose this argument at Athens, Acts xvii. 31, 'He hath commanded 
all men to repent, because he hath appointed a day wherein he will 
judge the world in righteousness.' Three reasons may be given why 
he useth that motive to them at first. One is intimated in the text, 
because it is a forcible and pressing motive to repentance ; and the 
other two may be easily conjectured, or collected out of the context. 
As, secondly, to prevent their plea, that if they had been in a wrong 
way, they had found it a happy way ; no judgment or plague had 
lighted upon them. The apostle anticipateth this objection by telling 
them, ' at those days of ignorance God winked/ but now taketh notice ; 
and if they did not repent now, however they escaped here, they should 
be sure to meet with judgment to come. And, thirdly, because the 
heathens themselves had some kind of dread and expectation of such a 
day, conscience being but the counterpart of this doctrine ; and, there 
fore, when Paul spake of 'judgment to come, Felix trembled/ though 
an heathen, Acts xxiv. 25. The philosophers had some dreams of a 
severe day of accounts, as appeareth by Plato's Gorgias, many passages 
in Tully, &c. And possibly herein the light of nature might be much 
helped by tradition; so that, for the first and inviting motive, it 
serveth excellently. Nay, the people of God, that are already brought 
into Christ, find a great deal of sweet use and profit by exercising 


their thoughts in it. The strictness of it serveth to scare them out of 
their own righteousness. Nothing but Christ's righteousness will 
serve for Christ's judgment : ' That I maybe found in him/ &c., Phil, 
iii. 9. When wrath cometh thus solemnly to make inquisition for 
sinners, it is comfortable to be ' hidden in the cleft of the rock/ to be 
* found in him.' So also it is useful to make them more strict and 
watchful ; that they may keep faith and grace in a constant exercise, 
and so be fit to meet the Lord when he cometh, with joy and bold 
ness. The preacher, when he had propounded the whole duty of man, 
he enforceth it upon this motive, ' For God shall bring every work to 
judgment/ Eccles. xii. 13, 14. And again, more faithful in their call 
ings. Whatever things are omitted at the day of judgment, our car 
riage in our callings is chiefly noted and produced, it being that 
particular sphere to which we are limited and confined for serving the 
great ends of our creation. And as all callings are respected, so 
especially those high callings wherein there is some peculiar and 
special ministration to God, or some charge and employment for the 
public good. Paul himself, though a chosen vessel, a man of strong 
affections to Christ, yet thought need sometimes to use the spur ; and 
though he professed that he chiefly acted out of the constraints of love, 
yet he also took the advantage of fear, ' Knowing the terror of the 
Lord in that day, we persuade men/ 2 Cor. v. 11, implying that a re 
flection upon the severity and strictness of the day of judgment was a 
great enforcement to urge him to faithfulness in the ministry ; and 
having found the use of it in his own spirit, he presseth Timothy by 
the same motive : 2 Tim. iv. 1,2, 'I charge thee, before Jesus Christ, 
who shall judge quick and dead, be instant; preach the word in 
season, out of season/ It is a most vehement persuasive to diligence, 
when we consider that we must give an account of our work. So also 
to make them thankful. There cannot be a greater argument of praise 
than when we consider our deliverance from wrath, when wrath is 
drawn out to the height, that we can look Christ in the face with com 
fort, 1 John ii. 28 ; and we may begin our triumph when others are 
overwhelmed with terrors. So the apostle saith, 1 John iv. 17, 
' Herein is love perfect, that we may have boldness at the day of judg 
ment ; ' that is, therein is the height and perfection of the divine love 
discovered, that when others call upon mountains to cover them, we 
may lift up our heads with comfort, and may call the world's judge 
our friend and father. 

Lastly, To awaken their souls to an earnestness of desire and expec 
tation. The good servant expecteth his master's coming, Mat. xxiv. 
45, and ' the bride saith, Come/ Kev. xxii. The day of judgment is 
the day of Christ's royalty and your espousals : here we are betrothed, 
not married. When Christ went out of the world, there were mutual 
and interchangeable pledges of love and affection. Nobis dedit arr- 
habonem Spiritus ; a nobis accepit arrhabonem carnis. 1 He left us 
the pledge of his Spirit, as Elijah ascending, left his mantle ; he took 
from us the pledge of our flesh and nature ; therefore certainly all 
that have interest in Christ must needs ' love the day of his appearing/ 
2 Tim. iv. 8. 

1 Tertullianus. 


Use. Well, then, often exercise your thoughts in this matter. Think 
of the judge, of his majesty, on the glory of his appearance ; when 
the graves are opened, rocks are rent, and Christ's unspeakable glory 
shall break forth like lightning through the heavens ; when he shall 
come riding on the clouds, environed with flames of fire, attended with 
all the host of the elect angels, and the great shout and trump shall 
summon all before the royal throne of Christ's judgment. Consider, 
also, his purity and holiness. When God discovered himself in a par 
ticular judgment, they said, 1 Sam. vi. 20, ' Who can stand before this 
holy God ? 3 But when Christ cometh to judge all the world, ' with a 
garment white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool,' Dan. 
vii. 9, how will guilty spotted creatures appear in his presence ? 
Christ's throne is ' a white throne/ Eev. xx. 11, and black sinners can 
not stand before it. None have confidence in that day but either 
such as are of an unspotted innocency, as the angels, or those that 
are washed in Christ's blood, as the saints. Consider his strict justice : 
nothing so small and inconsiderable but, if it be sinful, God hateth it. 
Idle and light words weigh heavy in God's balance, Mat. xii. 36. 
Nothing so hidden and secret but is then opened ; deadness, irreve 
rence, unsavoriness in holy duties, the least failing or defect in cir 
cumstance, manner, or end. A man should never think of the severity 
of that day but he should cry out, * If thou, Lord, shouldst mark 
iniquities, who shall stand ? ' Ps. cxxx. 3. Stand, that is, rectus m 
curia, be able to make a bold defence in that day. Those sins which, 
through the commonness and easiness of error, seem to challenge a 
pardon of course, and wherein we are most indulgent to ourselves, as 
the follies and excesses committed through the heat of youth, and so 
in man's account, who hath but a drop of indignation against sin, are 
venial, shall be then produced : Eccles. xi. 9, ' Know that for all these 
things God will bring thee to judgment/ Oh ! think of these things 
to an evangelical purpose, that ye may trust in nothing but Christ's 
righteousness against Christ's judgment. 

Obs. 4. From that so speak, and so do : that not only our actions, 
but our speeches, in which we are less deliberate, come under the judi- 
catory of God and the word : Mat. xii. 36, * But I say unto you, that 
every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account 
thereof in the day of judgment ; for by thy words shalt thou be jus 
tified, by thy words condemned.' Usually we forget ourselves in our 
speeches, and make light account of them ; ay ! but for idle words, 
not only evil, but idle, we shall be judged in the last day. Evil words 
show a wicked heart, and idle words a vain mind. There is a quick 
intercourse between the heart and the tongue ; and whatever aboundeth 
in the heart cometh uppermost, and findeth vent in the speech. There 
fore let wicked men beware lest ' their own tongue fall upon them,* 
Ps. Ixiv. 8. Better have a whole mountain than one evil tongue to 
fall upon us ; this will crush you to pieces in the day of wrath. Well, 
then, it shows how fond their excuse is who hope they are not so bad 
as they make themselves in their words. Alas ! this is one of the 
nearest and clearest discoveries of what is in thy heart ; thy tongue 
should be thy glory, Ps. ix., and it is thy shame. Evil words have a 
cursed influence ; that o-aTrpos Xo7o?, ' rotten communication/ Col. iv. 6, 


passeth through others like lightning, and setteth them all on fire. 
Behold a great deceit in good things : men think their talking should 
excuse their ivalking ; in bad they hope their hearts are good, though 
their communications be vile and base. A stinking breath argueth 
corrupt lungs ; such putrid and rank speeches come from a foul 
heart. Christ asked his disciples, ' What manner of communications 
they had ? ' Luke xxiv. 17. Xenophon and Plato gave rules that 
men's speeches at meals, and such like meetings, should be written, 
that they might be more serious. Oh ! consider, God writeth them. 
What a shameful story will be brought out against you at the day of 
judgment, when all your rotten and unsavoury speeches shall be num 
bered and reckoned up to you ! It is observable, when Paul, Bom. 
iii. 13, 14, maketh an anatomy of a natural man, he standeth more 
on the organs of speech than all the other members : ' Their throat 
is an open sepulchre ; with their tongues have they used deceit ; the 
poison of asps is under their lips ; their mouth is full of cursing and 
bitterness/ &c. The inward dunghill reeketh, and sendeth forth its 
stench most this way. 

Ver. 13. For he shall have judgment without mercy that showed 
no mercy ; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. 

He applieth the former direction to the matter : ' So speak, and so 
do/ as those that would not come under the rigour of the covenant 
of works ; for if you allow yourselves in any sin, or do anything 
against any part of the royal law, you can expect nothing but 'judg 
ment without mercy.' But to be cruel to your brethren with allow 
ance and indulgence is a sin that will put you into that capacity ; not 
only as it is an allowed transgression of the law, but a special sin, that 
in equity seemeth to require such a judgment ; it being most meet 
that they should find no mercy that would show none. 

For lie shall have judgment ivithout mercy. In which expression 
he intimateth the effect of the covenant of works, which is judgment 
without any mixture and temper of mercy, the law abating nothing to 
the transgressor ; as also to imply the retaliation of God : hard men 
justly meet with hard dealing and recompense. 

That shoiued no mercy. As if he had said, Mercy is not for those 
that only honour rich men, but them that are full of bowels and 
bounty to the poor ; for by ' showing no mercy ' he either intendeth 
shutting up the bowels against the necessities of the poor, or using 
them with contumely, injury, and reproach. They were so far from 
giving due respect, that they were guilty of undue disrespect ; a prac 
tice which certainly will leave us ashamed at the day of judgment, 
when the Lord shall slight our persons, and leave us to our own just 
horrors and discouragements. 

And mercy rejoiceth over judgment The word is KaraKawxarai, 
'boasteth, lifteth up the head ; as a man will when anything is accom 
plished with glory and success. This latter clause hath been tortured 
and vexed with diversity of expositions : it were fruitless to number 
up all to you : they may be referred to two general heads. Some take 
mercy here for God's mercy ; others for man's mercy. They that 
apply it to God either expound it thus : They have a severe judg 
ment ; and if it be not so with all, it is merely the mercy of God 



which hath rejoiced and triumphed over his justice. So Fulgentius 
among the fathers. But this is too forced. Others, as Gregory, <fec., 
carry it, with more probability, thus : Though unmerciful men be 
severely handled, yet, in the behalf of others, mercy rejoiceth over 
judgment; that is, in the conflict and contest between attributes 
about sinners, mercy getteth the victory and upperhand, and so 
rejoiceth, as men when they divide the spoil. Piscator maketh out 
this sense yet more subtilely, taking KOI, which we translate and, for 
though or yet, as it is often in scripture ; and then the sense is, 
Though mercy itself would fain rejoice over judgment, acts of pity 
and kindness being exercised with more of God's delight, yet at the 
sight of unmercif ulness the bowels of it shrink up and retire. I should 
incline this way, but that the apostle speaketh here of that mercy 
which man showeth to man : for there seemeth to be a thesis and an 
antithesis, a position and an opposition, in the verse. In the position 
the apostle asserteth that the unmerciful shall find no mercy ; in the 
opposition, that mercy findeth the judgment not only tempered, but 
overcome ; that is, he that showeth mercy is not in danger of 
damnation, for God will not condemn those that imitate his own 
goodness ; and therefore he may rejoice over his fears, as one that 
hath escaped. Now the orthodox, that go this way of applying it to 
man's mercy, do not make this disposition a cause of our acceptance 
with God, but an evidence ; mercy showed to men being an assured 
pledge of that mercy which he shall obtain with God. I confess all 
this Is rational ; but look to the phrase of the text, and you will find 
some inconvenience in this opinion ; for it will be a speech of a most 
harsh sound and construction to say that our mercy should rejoice 
against God's judgment; for then man would seem to have 'somewhat 
wherewith to glory before God,' which is contrary to David, who 
denieth any work of ours to be justifiable in his sight, Ps. cxliiL 2, or 
to be able to hold up the head or neck against his judgment ; con 
trary to Christ, who forbiddeth this rejoicing against the divine 
judgment, though we be conscious to ourselves of performing our 
duty, Luke xvii. 10 ; and contrary to Paul, who saith there is no 
glorying before God, Kom. iv. 2. All the rejoicing we have against 
God's justice is in the victory of his mercy ; therefore I believe these 
two senses may be well compounded and modified each by the other, 
thus : It is the mercy of God that rejoiceth over his justice, and it is 
mercy in man that giveth us to rejoice in the mercy of God ; and 
therefore the wisdom of the apostle is to be observed in framing the 
speech so that it might be indifferently compliant with both these 
senses. Yea, upon a more accurate and intimate consideration of the 
words, I find that the opposition in the apostle's speech doth not lie so 
much between unmercifulness and mercy, as between judgment with 
out mercy and judgment overcome by mercy. Therefore, upon the 
issue of the whole debate, I should judge that the apostle's speech is 
elliptical, and more must be understood than is expressed ; mercy in 
God being expressed as the rise of our triumph, and mercy in man 
being understood as the evidence of it : and the sum is, that the 
merciful man may glory as one that hath received mercy, for the 
mercy of God rejoicing over the justice of God in his behalf ; he may 


rejoice over Satan, sin, death, hell, and his own conscience. In the 
court of heaven the mercy of God rejoiceth ; in the court of conscience, 
the mercy of man : the one noteth a victory over the divine justice, 
the other a victory over our own fears. 

The observations are these : 

Obs. 1. The condition of men under the covenant of works is very 
miserable. They meet with justice without any temper of mercy. 
The word speaketh no comfort to them. Either exact duty or extreme 
misery are the terms of that covenant. 'Do and live,' and 'do 
and die,' is the only voice you shall hear whilst you hold by that 
tenure. God asked of Adam, ' What hast thou done ? ' not, Hast thou 
repented ? So in the prophet, Ezek. xviii., ' The soul that sinneth 
shall die.' The least breach is fatal. To man fallen the duty of that 
covenant is impossible, the penalty of it is intolerable. Fore-going 
sins cannot be expiated by subsequent duties. Paying of new debts 
doth not quit the old score. Will you hope in God's mercy ? One 
attribute is not exercised to the prejudice and wrong of another. In 
that covenant God intendeth to glorify justice, and you are engaged 
to a righteous law, and both law and justice must have satisfaction. 
As the word speaketh no comfort, so providence yieldeth none. All 
God's dispensations are judicial : Ezek. vii. 5, 'An evil, and an only 
evil/ Their crosses are altogether curses. There is nothing befalleth 
them that are under the covenant of grace, but there is some good in 
it ; something to invite hope, or to allay sorrow : ' In wrath God 
remembereth mercy/ Hab. iii. 2. The rod is not turned into a ser 
pent, and therefore comforteth, Ps. xxiii. 5. Whereas to these every 
comfort is salted with a curse ; and in their discomforts there is 
nothing but a face and an appearance of wrath. But the worst of the 
covenant of works is hereafter. When he dealeth with his people all 
in mercy, he will deal with them all in judgment : Rev. xiv. 10, ' A 
cup of wrath unmixed ; ' that is, simple and bare ingredients of 
wrath. Yet it is said, Ps. Ixxv. 8, that 'the cup of the Lord is 
full mixed ; ' full mixed with all sorts of plagues, but unmixed, with 
out the least drop or temperament of mercy. Oh ! how will ye do to 
suffer those torments that are without ease and without end ? Eev. 
xx. 7, ' They shall be cast into the lake that burneth with fire and 
brimstone, where they shall be tormented for ever and ever/ Nothing 
more painful to the sense than fire ; no fire more noisome or more scald 
ing than brimstone ; and all this for ever and ever. There is an eternity 
of extremity ; it is without measure and without end , which is the hell 
of hell, that after a thousand years are passed over, that worm dieth 
not, and that fire is not quenched. The brick-hills and the furnace of 
Babel are but shadows to it. There was a sad howling and yelling in 
Sodom when God rained hell out of heaven. How did the poor scalded 
creatures run up and down in that deluge of brimstone, and shriek 
and howl because of their pains ! Oh ! but what weeping and gnash 
ing will there be in hell, when a ' fiery stream shall go out from the 
throne of God/ Dan. vii. 10, and poor damned creatures shall wal 
low hither and thither, and have ' not a drop to cool their tongues ! ' 
Well, then, it should awaken those that are under the covenant of 
works to come under the banner of grace. Those that are condemned 


in one court have liberty of appeal to another ; and when ' ye are 
dead,' and lost to the first law, you may be ; alive to God/ Gal. ii. 19. 
Let ' the avenger of blood' make you fly to ' the city of refuge/ But 
you will say, Who are now under the covenant of works ? There is a 
vulgar prejudice abroad which supposeth that the first covenant was 
repealed and disannulled upon the fall, and that God now dealeth 
with us upon new terms ; as if the covenant of grace did wholly ex 
trude and shut out the former contract, wherein they think Adam only 
was concerned. But this is a gross mistake, because it was made not 
only with Adam, but with all his seed. And every natural man, 
whilst natural, whilst merely a son of Adam, is obliged to the tenor 
of it. The form of the law runneth universally, ' Cursed is every one 
that/ &c., Gal, iii. 10 ; which rule brooketh no exception but that of 
free grace and interest in Christ. And therefore every child, even 
those born in the church, are obnoxious to the curse and penalty of it : 
' Children of wrath, even as others/ Eph. ii. 3 ; and therefore are natural 
men described by this term, ' Those that are under the law/ Gal. iv. 5 ; 
that is, under the bond and curse of the law of works. If the law of 
works had been repealed and laid aside presently upon Adam's fall, 
Christ had not come under the bond and curse of it as our substitute 
and surety, for he was to take our debt upon him, to submit to the 
duty and penalty of our engagement ; therefore it is said, in the place 
last quoted, he was ' made under the law, to redeem them that were 
under the law/ So also Gal. iii. 13, ' He was made a curse for us ; ' 
that is, in our room and place. And, again, the law is not repealed, 
because it is an unchangeable rule, according to which God proceedeth, 
fjLta fcepaia : l Not a pick of the law shall pass away/ Mat. v. 18, till all 
be fulfilled, either by the creature, or upon the creature, by us, or by 
our surety. It is the covenant of works that condemneth all the sons 
of Adam. The rigour of it brought Christ from heaven to fulfil it for 
believers. Either we must have Christ to fulfil it, or for the breach 
of it we must perish for ever. And therefore our apostle saith, that 
at the day of judgment God proceedeth with all men according to the 
two covenants; some are 'judged by the law of liberty/ and some 
' have judgment without mercy/ The two covenants have two prin 
cipal confederate parties that contracted for them and their heirs 
Adam and Christ ; therefore, as long as thou art Adam's heir, thou 
hast Adam's engagement upon thee. The covenant of works was 
made with Adam and his seed, who were all natural men. The 
covenant of grace with Christ and his seed, who are believers, Isa. liii. 
10. God will own no interest in them that claim by Adam. As 
Abraham was to reckon his seed by Isaac, not by Ishmael, 'la 
Isaac shall thy seed be called ; ' so God's children are reckoned 
by Christ. Others, that have but a common interest, cherish 
a vain hope : ' God that made them will not save them/ Isa. 
xxvii. 11. 

But you will say, how shall we more distinctly know what is our 
claim and tenure ? I answer 

1. It is a shrewd presumption that you are under the old bond, 
if you cannot discern how your copy and tenure is changed. The 
heirs of promise are described to be those that ' fly for refuge to 


the hope that is before them/ Heb. vi. 18. God's children are usually 
frighted out of themselves by some avenger of blood ; and do the 
more earnestly come under the holy bond of the new oath, and fly to 
Christ, by considering the misery of their standing in Adam. The 
apostle supposed that wrath made inquisition for him, and therefore 
crieth out, ' Oh! that I might be found in him/ Phil. iii. 9. They 
that presume that they had ever faith and a good heart towards God, 
grossly mistake. That justiciary said, ' All these I kept from my 
youth/ Mat. xix. 20. 

2. Much may be discerned from the present state and frame of your 
hearts. If they carry a proportion with the covenant of works, it is 
to be feared you hold by that title and copy. As (1.) When the 
spirit is legal. There is a suitable spirit both to law and gospel. A 
servile spirit is the spirit of the law, a free spirit is the spirit of the 
gospel. It is the character of men under works: Heb. ii. 15, 'All 
their lifetime they are subject to bondage.' Keligion is careful, but a 
foolish scrupulosity and servile awe argue bondage. See Bom. viii. 
15, arid 2 Tim. i. 7. (2.) When we seek ' a righteousness of our own/ 
Bom. x. 3, and settle our life and peace upon a foundation of our own 
works. The covenant of works is natural to us. Common people hope 
to be saved by their works and good meaning, and by their good 
prayers to be accepted with God. ' What shall we do ? ' is the lan 
guage of every convinced man. And the Jews said, John vi. 28, 
' What are the works of God ? ' We would fain engage the divine 
grace by our own works. But this disposition reigneth most in such as 
either (1st.) Plead their works, as those in the prophet that 'delighted 
to draw nigh to God ; ' 1 that is, to expostulate and contend with him 
about their works, for so it followeth in the next verse : Isa. Iviii. 2, 3, 
* Wherefore have we fasted ? ' So the Pharisee, Luke xviii. 11. And 
hypocrites are brought in by Christ pleading their works, as noting 
the secret ground of their confidence: Mat. vii. 21, 'We have pro 
phesied in thy name, cast out devils/ The saints of God own no such 
thing : Mat. xxv. 37, ' When saw we thee an hungered, naked ? ' &c. 
They wonder Christ should remember such sorry things. As they 
perform duties with more care, so they overlook them with more 
self-denial ; whereas others build upon their great gifts, employment 
in the ministry, urge every petty thing as an engagement upon God. 
(2d.) When they take more liberty to sin, hoping to make amends by 
their duties. Conviction would not let them prosecute their sins so freely, 
if they did not make fair promises of reformation. It is usual with 
men to carry on a sin the more securely out of a presumption of a 
former or after duty. Sir Edwin Sands observeth that the Italians 
are emboldened to sin, that they may have somewhat to confess. 
And Solomon speaketh of ' sacrifice with an evil mind/ Prov. xxi. 27. 
And Balaam built seven altars, and offered seven rams, &c., Num. 
xxi., out of a vain hope to ingratiate God, that he might curse the 
people. And the prophet speaketh of committing iniquity out of a trust 
in righteousness, Ezek. xxxiii. 13. 

3. You may collect much from the unsuitableness of your hearts to 
the state of grace. As (1.) If you live under the reign of any sin, 

1 Vide Sanctium in locum. 


when it is constant and allowed, that rule holdeth good : James 
ii. 10, ' He that is guilty of one, is guilty of all.' Then the devil 
hath an interest in you, not Christ. Habituated dispositions, good or 
bad, show who is your father. It is notable that of Kom. vi. 14, ' Sin 
shall not have dominion over you ; for you are not under the law, but 
under grace.' An interest in grace cannot consist with a known sin. 
(2.) If you abuse grace ; for then you make grace an enemy, and then 
justice will take up the quarrel of abused mercy. Usually men please 
themselves in this, if they be right in doctrine, but do not take notice 
of that taint that is insensibly conveyed into their manners. Oh ! con 
sider, when out of a pretence of gospel you grow neglectful of duty, 
less circumspect and wary in your ways, more secure, slighting the 
threatenings of the word, you offend grace so much that it turneth 
you over to justice. There are Antinomists in life as well as doctrine. 
Good Christians are angry that others make that an occasion to lust 
which is to themselves a ground of hope : l They turn the grace of 
our God/ &c., Jude 4. Therefore that man that maketh it fuel for 
sin hath a naked apprehension of it, not a sure interest. 

Obs. 2. Unmerciful men find no mercy. (1.) It is a sin most un 
suitable to grace. Kindness maketh us pity misery : ' Thou wast a 
stranger, be kind to strangers.' He that was forgiven, and plucked 
his fellow-servant by the throat, had his pardon retrieved, Mat. xviii. 
We pray, ' Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that tres 
pass against us/ Mat. vi. God's love to us melteth the soul, and 
affecteth us not only with contrition towards God, but compassion to 
our brethren. At Zurich, when the gospel was first preached, they 
gave liberty to their captives and prisoners, out of a sense of their own 
deliverance by Christ. (2.) It is unlike to God ; he giveth and for- 
giveth. How will you look God in the face, if you should be so con 
trary to him? Dissimilitude and disproportion is the ground of 
dislike. It is a disposition that will check your praj^ers ; beware of it. 
Unmercifulness is twofold when we neither give nor forgive. It 
notes (1st.) A defect in giving, or shutting up the bowels. They ask, 
and your hearts are as flint or steel. We are faulty when we do not 
what we should do, as when we do what we should not do. Covet- 
ousness and violence will weigh alike heavy in God's balance ; and 
you may be as cruel in neglect as injury. (2d.) In denying pardon to 
those that have wronged us. They have done you hurt, but you must 
be like your heavenly Father. No man can do thee so much hurt as 
thou hast done God. Sin is more opposite to his nature than wrong 
can be to your interests. Would you have God as slack in giving, as 
backward to forgive ? What would you say if God should deal thus 
with you, either for grace or pardon ? Certainly bounteous and piteous 
hearts pray with most confidence. 

Obs. 3. God usually retaliates and dealeth with men according to 
the manner and way of their wickedness. The sin and suffering oft 
meet in some remarkable circumstance : Babylon hath blood for blood. 
Jacob cometh as the elder to Isaac, and Leah cometh as the younger 
to Jacob : he that denied a crumb, wanted a drop, Luke xvi. : Asa, 
that set the prophet in the stocks, had a disease in his feet. Well, 
then, when it is so, know the sin by the judgment, and silence mur- 


muring. Adoni-bezek, a heathen, observed, ' As I have done, God 
hath done to me/ Judges i. And it showeth you what reason you 
have to pray that God would not deal with you according to your 
iniquities, your manner of dealing either with him or men ; and walk 
with the greater awe and strictness. Would I have God to deal thus 
with me ? Would I have the recompenses of the Lord to be after 
this rate ? 

Obs. 4. God exerciseth acts of mercy with delight ; his mercy re- 
joiceth over justice. So in the prophet, ' Mercy pleaseth him/ Micah vii. 
18 ; so in another prophet, ' I will rejoice over them, to do them good/ 
Jer. xxxii. 41. God is infinitely just as well as merciful, only he 
delighteth in gracious dispensations and discoveries of himself to the 
creature : this should encourage you in your approaches to God. Mercy 
is as acceptable to God as to you. In 2 Sam. xiv. 1, when ' Joab per 
ceived the king's heart was to Absalom/ he setteth the woman of Tekoah 
to make request for him. The King's heart is set upon mercy, your 
requests gratify his own bowels ; and again, if ' mercy hath rejoiced over 
judgment/ so should you too : go and triumph over death, hell, devil, 
damnation, and make your boast of mercy all the day long : 1 Cor. xv. 
55, ' death ! where is thy sting ? grave ! where is thy victory ? ' 
You have another triumph : Kom. viii. 33, ' Who shall lay anything to 
our charge ?' And though the devil be the accuser of the brethren, 
yet because mercy hath rejoiced over judgment, therefore we may 
rejoice over Satan, and go to heaven singing. 

Obs. 5. Mercy in us is a sign of our interest in God's mercy : Mat. 
v. 7, ' Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' They 
shall obtain : God will deal kindly with them, but it is mercy which 
they obtain, not a just reward ; so Prov. xi. 25, ' The liberal soul 
shall be made fat : ' the widow of Sarepta's barrel had no bottom. I 
shall show you what this mercy is. It is manifested (1.) In pitying 
miseries. Jesus had compassion on the multitude, Mat. xv. 32 ; so 
should we. It is not mercy unless it ariseth from a motion in the 
bowels : ' If thou shalt draw out thy soul to the hungry/ Isa. Iviii. 10. 
Heart and hand must go together : bounty beginneth in pity. (2.) 
In relieving wants by counsel or contribution : it is not enough to say, 
' Be clothed/ James ii. 16. (3.) In forgiving injuries and offences, 
Mat. xviii. 22, ' until seventy times seven ; ' that is, toties quoties it is 
an allusion to Peter's number, 'Must I forgive seven times? 7 Yea, 
saith Christ, ' seventy times seven :' an uncertain number for a certain. 
God * multiplieth pardon/ Isa. Iv. 7, and so should we. As Tully 
said of Caesar, Nihil oblivisci soles nisi injurias that he forgot 
nothing but injuries; so should you. Secondly, I shall show you when it 
is a pledge of mercy. (1.) When it is done as duty, and according to 
the manner God hath required : ' To distribute forget not, for with 
such sacrifice God is well pleased/ Alms must be sacrifice, given to 
men for God's sake ; not merely done as a commendable act, but in 
conscience of the rule. (2.) The grounds must be warrantable. The 
right spring of mercy is from sense of God's mercy ; it is a thank- 
offering, not a sin-offering. 

Ver. 14. What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath 
faith, and hath no works ? Can faith save him ? 


Here is the second exhortation against boasting of an idle faith, and 
it suiteth with the last argument urged in behalf of the former mat 
ter. He had spoken of a law of liberty ; now, lest this expression should 
justify the misprision of some false hypocrites, who thought they 
might live as they list, so as they did profess faith in Christ, he dis^ 
proveth the vanity of this conceit by divers arguments. 

What doth it profit, my brethren ; that is, how will it further the 
ends of a profession or a religion ? So the apostle, when he confuteth 
another such presumptuous persuasion, saith ovSev e/u, 'I am nothing,' 1 
Cor. xiii. 2 ; that is, of no esteem with God, upon the supposition that 
his gifts were without charity. 

If a man say lie hath faith. Say, that is, boast of it to others, or 
pride himself in the conceit of it. It is notable that the apostle doth 
not say ' if any hath faith/ but ' if any man say he hath faith.' Faith, 
where it is indeed, is of use and profit to salvation ; and he that hath 
faith is sure of salvation, but not always he that saith he hath faith. 
In this whole discourse the apostle's intent is to show, not ivhat 
justifieth, but who is justified ; not what faith doth, but what faith 
is. And the drift of the context is not to show that faith without 
works doth not justify, but that a persuasion or assent without works 
is not faith; and the justification he speaketh of is not so much of 
the person as of the faith. 

And hath no ivorks ; that is, if there be no fruits and issues of 
holiness from it. It is the folly of the Papists to restrain it to acts of 
charity. There are other products of faith ; it being a grace that 
hath a universal influence into all the offices of the holy life. 

Can faith save him? that is, a pretence of faith, for otherwise 
faith saveth ; that is, in that way of concurrence in which any act of 
the creatures can be said to save. So Paul, Eph. ii. 8, Tfj %pm eVre 
o-eo-coo-fjievoi, Sta TT?? Trtcrreo)?, ' Ye are saved by grace through faith, not 
by works.' And therefore certainly our apostle meaneth a pretence of 
faith, otherwise there would be a direct contradiction, and it may be 
collected out of all the whole discourse. The two next verses show 
he meaneth such a faith as is in the tongue and lips, such a faith as 
is alone and by itself ; ver. 17, such a faith as the devils may have ; 
ver. 19, such a faith as is dead ; that is, no more can be accounted 
faith than a dead man can be accounted a man. 

The notes out of this verse are these : 

Obs. 1. That pretended graces are fruitless and unprofitable. For 
mal graces, as well as formal duties, bring in nothing to the spirit^ 
for the present no grace, no comfort, and can beget no hope of glory 
for the future. Pretences of the truth are a disadvantage, for they 
argue a conviction of the truth, arid yet a refusal of it. It is a kind 
of practical blasphemy to veil an impure life under a profession of 
faith ; for we do as it were tack on and fasten the errors and excesses 
of our lives upon religion: therefore it is said, Kev. ii. 9, ' I know the 
blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not/ There is less 
dishonour brought to God by open opposition, then by prof ession used 
as a cover and excuse for profaneness. And in the Gospel it is de 
termined in that parable, Mat. xxi. 28, 29, that that son was less 
culpable that said ' I will not/ than the other that said ' I will/ and 


did not. All this is spoken to illustrate that passage, * What doth it 
profit if a man say he hath faith ? ' 

Obs. 2. Pretences of faith are easy and usual. Men are apt to say 
they have faith ; when they see the vanity of works, and cannot stand 
before God by that claim, they pretend to faith. In so free a dis 
covery of the gospel, men are apt to declaim against resting in works, 
but it is as dangerous to rest in a false faith. 

Obs. 3. From that and hath no works. He proveth it is but a saying 
they have faith if there be not works and fruits of it. The note is 
that where there is true faith there will be works. There are three 
things tha,t will incline the soul to duty a forcible principle, a 
mighty aid, a high aim ; all these are where faith is. The forcible 
principle is God's love, the mighty aid is God's Spirit, the high aim is 
God's glory. (1.) For the principle, where there is faith there will be 
love : affection followeth persuasion ; and where there is love there will 
be work ; therefore do we often read of ' the labour of love/ Heb. vi. 
10 ; 1 Thes. i. 3 ; and ' faith worketh by love.' Faith, which is an 
apprehension of God's love to us, begetteth a return of love to God, and 
then maketh use of so sweet an affection to carry out all its acts and 
services of thankfulness : it first begetteth love, and then maketh use 
of it. (2.) There is a mighty aid received from the quickening 
Spirit. Help engageth to action ; man's great excuse is want of 
power. Faith planteth into Christ, and so receiveth an influence 
from him. He liveth in us by his Spirit, and we live in him by 
faith , and therefore we must needs ' bring forth much fruit,' John 
xv. 4. It is observable that in the 17th and 26th verses, that the 
apostle calleth a workless faith a dead or lifeless faith, void of the 
life and quickening of the Spirit. Where there is life there will be 
acting. Operation followeth being. Hypocrites are said to be ' twice 
dead, plucked up by the roots,' Jude 12. Twice dead, dead in their 
natural condition and dead after their profession, and then plucked up ; 
that is, plainly discovered to be those that never had any vital 
influence from Christ. (3.) Where there is faith there will be aims 
to glorify God. Faith that receiveth grace returneth glory : 1 Peter 
ii. 12, ' Glorify God in the day of visitation.' When God visiteth 
their souls in mercy, they will be devising how they may do him 
glory ; for faith is ingenuous, it cannot think of taking without 
giving : and when it apprehendeth mercy it contriveth what shall be 
rendered unto the Lord. Well, then, try your faith ; it is not a 
naked assent or an inactive apprehension ; there will be effects, some 
works, which you may know to be good if they be done in Christ ; 
Xapls e'^of), ' without me, or out of me, ye can do nothing, John xv. 
5 by Christ, ' I can do all things through Christ that strengthened 
me/ Phil. iv. 13, that is, by the actual influence of his grace ; and 
for Christ, that is, for his sake and glory ; ejj,ol TO %fjv Xpto-ro?, Phil, 
i. 21. Paul's whole life, his TO tfjv, was consecrated to Christ for the 
uses and purposes of his glory. In short, they that work in Christ, 
as united to him by faith, work by Christ, by the continual supply of 
his grace, and for Christ, with an aim at his glory. 

Obs. 4. From that can faith save him ? that is, will you come 
before God with these hopes for salvation ? We should cherish no 


other confidence than such as will abide the day of the Lord, and hold 
out to salvation. Will this be a plea, then, when all mankind is either 
to be damned or saved, to say you made profession ? 1 John ii. 28. 
The solemnity of Christ's coming is the circumstance that is often used 
for detecting ungrounded hopes ; as Luke xxi. 36, ' Watch and pray, 
that you may be able to stand before the Son of man ;' that is, with 
out shame and remorse at his coming. So 1 John iv. 17, ' That we 
may have boldness at the day of judgment.' Men consider what will 
serve for the present purposes, what will quiet the heart, that they 
may follow their business or pleasures with the less regret. Oh ! but 
consider what will serve you for salvation ; what will serve turn at the 
day of death or the day of judgment. No plea is sufficient but what 
may be urged before the throne of the Lamb. Well, then, urge this 
upon your souls, Will this faith save me interest me in Christ, so as 
I may have boldness at the day of judgment ? As Christ asked Peter 
thrice, ' Lovest thou me?' so put the question again and again unto 
your souls, Can I look Christ in the face with these hopes ? Sincere 
graces are called ra e^ojmepa TT)? a-ooTrjplas, Heb. vi. 9, ' Things that 
accompany salvation/ This is the issue and result of all self- 
inquiries, Is it a saving grace ? Nothing should satisfy me but what 
can save me. 

Ver. 15-16. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily 
bread, and one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed, 
be you filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things that are 
needful to the bodi/, what doth it profit ? 

If a brother or a sister. The apostle compareth faith and charity, 
and showeth that pretences of faith avail no more than pretences of 
charity. By brother or sister he meaneth Christians, united together 
by the bond of the same profession, terms oft used in that sense in 
this epistle. 

Be naked ; that is, ill-clothed ; so nakedness is often taken : so 
1 Cor. iv. 11, ' We suffer hunger, we are naked;' that is, destitute of 
necessary apparel. So Job xxii. 6, ' Thou hast stripped the naked of 
their clothing ; ' that is, the ill-clothed are brought to worse poverty 
by thy extortion. So when men have not a decent garment, or be 
coming their state, 1 Sam. xix. 24. Saul prophesied naked ; that is, 
without the vestment of a prophet. 

And destitute of daily bread ; that is, not only of moderate sup 
plies, but such as are extremely necessary. They have not from hand 
to mouth, or wherewith to sustain life for a day. Christ calleth it, 
aprov eTTtovcnov, ' present bread,' Mat. vi. 11. Under these two 
notions of nakedness and hunger, he comprehendeth all the necessi 
ties of the human life, for these are the things utterly necessary. 
Therefore Christ saith, ' Take no thought what ye shall eat, or where 
with ye shall be clothed,' Mat. vi. 31 ; ' And if we have food and 
raiment, let us be therewith content/ 1 Tim. vi. 8. And Jacob pro- 
miseth worship if God would give him ' bread to eat, and raiment to 
put on,' Gen. xxviii. 20. Till the world grew to a height of luxury, 
this was enough. 1 The bill of provisions was very short, ' food and 

1 ' Cibus et potus sunt divitiae Christianorum.' Hieron. 


And one of you say to them ; that is, that hath ability otherwise 
to do them good ; for else good wishes are not to be despised ; and 
some can only give a cheap alms, prayers, and counsel. 

Depart in peace. A solemn form of salutation, 1 which is as much 
as, ' I wish you well.' See Mark v. 34 ; Luke vii. 50, and Luke 
viii. 48. 

Be you ivarmed, or be you filled. After the general form, he cometh 
to instance in good wishes, suitable to the double necessity fore- 
mentioned : ' Be warmed,' that is, be clothed ; it is opposed to * naked/ 
So Job xxxi. 20, ' The poor were warmed with the fleece of my sheep.' 
The Septuagint have it, edap^avd^a-av airo /covpas a^vwv yu/oO, ' Be 
filled ; ' that is, I wish you food to sustain your hunger. 

Notioithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to 
the body ; that is, when you are able ; otherwise a hearty wish is of 
use and acceptance. So ' a cup of cold water ' is welcome, Mat. x. 42 ; 
and it is not reason that ' other men should be eased and we burdened,' 
2 Cor. viii. 13. His chief aim was to shame the rich, that thought 
.to satisfy their duty by a few cheap words and charitable wishes ; 
which offence was as common as pretence of faith, as appeareth 

1 John iii. 18, ' Let us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed 
and in truth.' 

What doth it profit ? that is, the poor ; the belly is not filled with 
words, or the back clothed with wishes. This is but like that mad 
person that thought to pay his debts with the noise of money, and 
instead of opening his purse, shaked it. The poor will not thank you 
for good wishes, neither will God for saying you have faith. 

The points are these : 

Ols. 1. That an excellent way to discover our deceitful dealing 
with God is to put the case in a sensible instance, or to parallel it 
with our own dealings one with another. You will not count words 
liberality, neither will God count pretences faith : this is the reason 
of parables ; matters between God and us are stated by instances of 
like matters between man and man. The judgment hath best view 
of things when they are carried in a third person, and is not so 
blinded and perverted as in our own case. David could determine, 

2 Sam. xii., ' The man that doth this shall die the death.' If the case 
had been represented in a downright reproof, no doubt he would have 
been more favourable. Again, by this means they are made more 
plain and sensible; for heavenly things, being represented in an 
earthly form, come clothed with our own notions. We can see the 
sun better in a basin than in the firmament, and interpret heaven's 
language when it speaketh to us in the dialect of earth. Well, then, 
use this art, put the case in a temporal matter : Mai. i. 8, ' Offer it 
now to the governor ; will he be pleased with thee ? or will he accept 
thy person ? ' Would men account this fair dealing, to come with a 
gift so sickly and imperfect ? So sometimes suppose the case your 
own : would I be thus dealt withal ? Thus Christ made the Pharisees 
to give judgment against themselves, Mat. xxi. Those that despised, 

1 See Luke ii. 29, and 2 Kings v. 19, where only is a salutation, not an allowance or 
grant of his request ; yea, Naaman's words imply a resolution rather than a case and 


abused, persecuted the messengers, killed the son, saith Christ to them, 
' What will the Lord of the vineyard do with them ?' They answer, 
ver. 40, 41, 'He will miserably destroy them, and let out his vineyard 
to other men.' So will God do to you, saith Christ, ver. 43. And 
thus God appealeth to the Jews upon a parable, Isa. v. 3, ' Judge 
between me and my people.' We shall soon see the irrationality of 
our inferences in divine matters when we put the case in terms 
proper to human affairs ; as when ' grace is turned into wantonness/ 
how absurd and illogical is the consequence, when we infer careless 
ness of duty out of the abundance of grace ? It is as if you should say, 
My master is good, therefore I will offend him and displease him. 
Thus you may do in many cases, especially when the word giveth you 
the hint of a metaphor ; only take heed you do not reason thus in the 
matter of believing and expecting mercy from God, lest you straiten 
free grace, which is not dispensed ' after the manner of man/ 2 Sam. 
vii. 19. God will accept a returning prostitute, which man will not, 
Jer. iii. 1. Otherwise it will be of special use to shame us with neglect, 
to open a gap to conviction, to shame us with the absurdity and 
irrationality of our inferences in matters of religion. 

Obs. 2. From that if a brother or a sister. God's own people may 
be destitute of necessary outward supports: Heb. xi. 37, they 'of 
whom the world was not worthy/ ' wandered about, destitute, afflicted, 
tormented/ It is true David saith, Ps. xxxvii. 25, * I have been 
young, and now am old, yet never saw I the righteous forsaken, or 
their seed begging bread;' but either he speaketh merely upon his 
own experience, or asserteth that they were not forsaken though 
begging bread ; or else he speaks of the shameful trade of begging, 
which among the Jews was a token of God's curse ; as Ps. lix. 15, ' Let 
them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satis 
fied.' So, ' let them be vagabonds/ Ps. cix. 10. Certainly the Jews 
had more of the carnal and outward blessing of the covenant than be 
lievers under the gospel, it being more suitable to their dispensation. 

Obs. 3. Bare words will not discharge or satisfy duty. Good words 
are good in themselves, and do become a Christian mouth, but they 
must not be rested in. Some cannot go so far in profession as good 
words, religious conference, and holy discourse. Words argue that 
you have a knowledge of duty; and bare words, that you want a 
heart for it. 

Obs. 4. More particularly observe, that a few charitable words are 
not enough. Some men's words are fierce and cruel, others * love in 
word and in tongue/ 1 John iii. 20 ; but this is not enough. Words 
are cheap, compliments cost nothing ; and will you serve God with 
that which costeth nothing ? Words are but a cold kind of pity ; 
the belly is not filled with words, but meat j 1 nor is the back clothed 
with good wishes. Words are but a derision ; you mock the poor 
when you bid them * be warmed, be filled/ and do not minister to 
their necessities. Nay, it is a kind of mocking of God : Gal. vi. 7, 
' Be not deceived, God is not mocked/ He speaketh of such as 
would fain be accounted liberal and charitable, but it was only in 
words and excuses. 

1 ' Venter non habet aures.' 


Ver. 17. Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone. 

Here he cometh to accommodate the instance and similitude, and 
showeth that a naked profession of faith is no better than a verbal 
charity ; God looketh upon it as dead, cold, and useless. 

Even so faith. He speaketh according to their presumption: you 
call it faith ; and, according to appearance it hath some likeness to 
faith, but it is dead in itself. 

If it have not works. He doth not only intend acts of charity, 
but all other fruits and operations of faith. 

Is dead. The apostle speaketh in allusion to a corpse or a dead 
plant, which hath only an outward similitude and likeness to those 
which are living ; it is dead in regard of root, and dead in regard of 
fruits ; it is void of the life of Christ, and it is void of good fruits. 
Operation or motion is an argument and effect of life. 

Being alone. In the original K.CL& eavrqv, it is dead by itself, or 
dead in itself ; that is, how great soever it be, it is all dead. We 
translate it ' being alone/ as noting the emptiness, barrenness, and 
nakedness of such profession or general assents ; and so it suiteth with 
that known maxim among the Protestants, Sola fides justificat, sed 
non fides quce est sola, that faith alone justifieth, but not that faith 
which is alone ; not a naked assent or bare profession : which inter 
pretation is suitable enough to the context. 

Obs. That false faith is a dead faith. It cannot act, no more than 
a dead body can arise and walk ; it is dead, because it doth not unite 
us to Christ. True faith planteth us into Christ, and so receiveth 
virtue and life from him: ' I live by faith in the Son of God,' Gal. 
ii. 20. It is dead, because it doth not discover itself in any motions 
or operations of life. You may know there is life by the beating of 
the pulses : a living faith will be active, and bewray itself in some 
gracious effects ; there will be liveliness in holy duties : ' dead works ' 
do not become ' the living God,' Heb. ix. 14. There will be some 
what more than morality in duties of conversation ; yea, there will be 
life in death itself. Faith is the life of our lives, the soul that 
animateth the whole body of obedience. Faith is not always alike 
lively, but where it is true, it is always living. We read of ' a lively 
faith,' and ' a lively hope,' 1 Peter i. 3, and then we have a greater 
feeling of the motions of the spiritual life : at other times it is only 
living, and then if you be not sensible of life, you will be sensible of 
deadness : sense is the lowest token of life ; you will be complaining 
and groaning under corruptions. Well, then, hereby you may try 
your faith ; doth it receive life from Christ ? Doth it act ? If Christ 
be in you, he would live in you. Never think of living with Christ, 
unless you live in Christ : and there is none liveth in Christ but he 
1 bringeth forth much fruit,' John xv. 5. 

Ver. 18. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have ivorks : 
slwio me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith 
by my ivorks. 

The apostle amplifieth the present argument against an empty, soli 
tary faith, by supposing a dialogue between a believer, that can mani 
fest his faith by his works, and a boasting hypocrite, that can produce 
no such effect and experience. So that the dispute doth not lie so 


much, between faith and works, as between faith pretended and faith 
discovered by works ; for the apostle doth not introduce them speak 
ing thus, Thou standest upon thy faith, and I upon my works ; but 
' Show me thy faith without works, and I will/ &c., that is, Show me 
a warrant for thy faith, and I will soon prove mine own. 

Yea, a man may say ; that is, some true believer may come and 
plead thus with a boasting hypocrite. 

Thou hast faith. Let it be as thou sayest, but that is all thou hast ; 
a naked profession of faith, or at best, but some historical assent ; for 
the apostle granteth that, ver. 19, yea, not only to them, but to the 

And I have works. He doth not mean without faith ; that is con 
trary to an expression in the text, ' I will show thee my faith by my 
works/ Works without faith are as a building without a foundation, 
but acts of nature lustred with common graces. Thou boastest with 
thy tongue of faith ; I shall not boast, but produce works, which are 
but a real apology and commendation. Christ produceth no other 
testimony but his works, Mat. xi. 4, 5. Our works do best ' praise us 
in the gates/ 

Show me thy faith without thy works. This clause is diversely 
read in the original. Some, as (Ecumenius, read only Selgov rfy 
TTicrTiv crov, ' Show me thy faith/ and I will soon warrant mine. Most 
copies read e/c rwv epycov, that is, prove thy works, since they are 
such inseparable fruits of faith, where are they? But the most 
approved copies have %wpis epywv, ' without thy works ; ' and the 
meaning is, Thou wantest the truest testimony and discovery of faith. 
Now, show me such a faith, that is, make it good by any warrant from 
the principles and maxims of our religion. 

And I will shoiv thee my faith ~by my ivorks ; that is, soon evi 
dence it to the world, or soon evince it to be true faith out of the 

The notes are these : 

Obs. 1. A great means to convince hypocrites is to show how grace 
worketh in true Christians. The apostle instituteth a dialogue be 
tween both ; thus Christ compareth the two builders, Mat. vii. 24, &c., 
and the wise virgins and the foolish, Mat. xxv. This awakeneth 
emulation ; it showeth that the austerities of Christianity are possible. 
Others can go higher than your forms. Take this course, Do we live 
as they do as they that, through faith and patience, inherit the 
promises ? 

06s. 2. From that show me thy faith without works, &c. In all our 
hopes and conceits of grace we should always look to the warrant we 
have for them. Can I show or prove this to be faith or love by any 
rational grounds or scripture arguments ? If Christians would look 
to the warrant of their hopes, they might discern more of the guile of 
their spirit. Presumption is a rash trust, without the sight of an 
actual or clear ground. He that ' built on the sand/ built hand over 
head, not considering whether the foundation were sufficient to sup 
port the structure. But he that built on the rock, did not only con 
sider whether it would bear up such a stress, but was clearly resolved 
in his mind of the strength and sufficiency of the foundation. It is 


good to believe, * as the scripture saith/ John vii. 38, to cherish no 
persuasion without an actual sight of a clear and distinct warrant, that 
we may be able to ' show our faith/ upon all cavils and challenges, 
that is, evince it to be good. 

Obs. 3. Works are an evidence of true faith. Graces are not dead, 
useless habits ; they will have some effects and operations when they 
are weakest and in their infancy. It is said of Paul, as soon as he was 
regenerate, ' Behold, he prayeth.' New-born children will cry at least 
before they are able to go. This is the evidence by which we must 
judge, and this is the evidence by which Christ will judge. (1.) The 
evidence by which we must judge. It is the drift of many scriptures 
to lay down evidences taken from sanctification and the holy life ; they 
were written to this very purpose ; as more especially Ps. cxix. and 
the first epistle of John ; see 1 John v. 13. Yea, conclusions are drawn 
to our hands. It is said, ' Hereby we may know,' &c. See 1 John iii. 
14, and 1 John iii. 19. In many places promises are given out, with 
descriptions annexed, taken from the meekness, piety, good works of 
the saints, as Ps. i. 1, 2 ; Ps. xxxii. 1-9 ; Kom. viii. 1. Good works 
are the most sensible discovery ; all causes are known by their effects. 
The apples, leaves, and blossoms are evident when the life and sap 
is not seen. (2.) This is the evidence according to which Christ pro- 
ceedeth at the day of judgment: Kev. xx. 12, They were 'judged 
according to their works.' So Mat. vii. 23, ' Depart from me, ye that 
work iniquity/ They made profession, but their works were naught. 
So Mat. xxv. 41, 42. 

Use. You may make use of this note to judge yourselves and 
to judge others. (1.) Yourselves: when the causes are hidden, the 
effects are sensible ; therefore you may try graces by their fruits and 
operations. Works are not a ground of confidence, but an evidence ; 
not the foundations of faith, but the encouragements of assurance. 1 
Comfort may be increased by the sight of good works, but it is not 
built upon them ; they are seeds of hope, not props of confidence ; 
sweet evidences of election, not causes ; happy presages and beginnings 
of glory ; in short, they can manifest an interest, but not merit it. 
We have ' peace with God ' by the righteousness of Christ, and ' peace 
of conscience/ by the fruits of righteousness in ourselves ; but more 
of this anon. (2.) Others may be judged by their works : where there 
is knowledge, and a good life, it is not Christian to suspect the^ heart. 
The devil said, when he had nothing to object against Job's life, 
4 Doth Job serve God for nought ? ' If men be knowing, and profess, 
and be fruitful in good works, it is an injury to say they are only civil, 
moral men. Profession may be counterfeited, but when it is honoured 
with works, you must leave the heart to God, James i. 27. To be ' un- 
defiled/ and ' visit the fatherless and widows/ that is ' true religion ; ' 
that is the great note and discovery of it. Empty profession may have 
more of a party in it, than of power ; but profession honoured with 
works is charity's rule to judge by. 

Ver. 19. Thou believest there is one God, thou dost well ; the devils 
also believe, and tremble. 

1 Bona opera sunt spei qusedam seminaria, caritatis incentiva, occulta prsedestina- 
tionis judicia, non fiducise f undamenta, futures felicitatis prsesagia,' &c. Bernard. 


This instance slioweth what faith he disputeth against, namely, such 
as consisteth in bare speculation and knowledge ; which can no more 
save a man than looking on the sun can translate a man into the 
sphere and orb of it. 

Thou betievest ; that is, assentest to this truth : the lowest act of 
faith is invested with the name of believing. 

There is one God. He instanceth in this proposition, though he doth 
limit the matter only to this, partly because this was the first article 
of the creed, the primitive truth in religion, ' that there is one God/ 
by it intending also assent to other articles of religion ; partly be 
cause this was the critical difference between them and the pagans, 
and the shibboleth of the Christian profession as to heathens. 

Thou dost ivell. It is an approbation of such assent so far as it is 
good, and not rested in ; though it be not saving, yet so far as it is 
historical it is good good in its kind, as a common work and prepara 
tion ; for so it is required: ' Hear, Israel, our God is one Lord/ 
Deut. vi. 4. And so in another article of religion it is said, 1 John 
iv. 2, ' He that believeth Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God ; ' 
that is, so far forth of God. 

The devils also believe; that is, assent to this truth, and other 
truths revealed in the word. 

And tremble, <f>pio-aovcn,. The word signifieth extreme fear and 
horror of spirit ; it cometh from </H, a word that implieth that noise 
which is caused by the commotion of the sea. Now, this clause is 
added, ' they tremble/ not to imply, as some suppose, that they do 
more than assent, as having an experience of some work upon their 
affections, but to disprove this kind of faith, and to show that it is not 
saving ; they have an assent which causeth horror and torment, but 
they have not a faith which causeth confidence and peace, the proper 
fruit of that faith which is justifying, Eom. v. 1 ; Eph. iii. 12. 

Obs. 1. Bare assent to the articles of religion doth not infer true 
faith. True faith uniteth to Christ, it is conversant about his per 
son ; it is not only assensus axiomati, an assent to a gospel-maxim or 
proposition ; you are not justified by that, but by being one with 
Christ. It was the mistake of the former age to make the promise 
rather than the person of Christ to be the formal object of faith ; the 
promise is the warrant, Christ the object: therefore the work of 
faith is terminated on him in the expressions of scripture. We read 
of coming to him, receiving him, &c. ; we cannot close with Christ 
without a promise, and we must not close with a promise without 
Christ : in short, there is not only assent in faith, but consent ; not 
only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ ; 
there must be an act that is directly and formally conversant about 
the person of Christ. Well, then, do not mistake a, naked illumina 
tion, or some general acknowledgment of the articles of religion for 
faith. A man may be right in opinion and judgment, but of vile 
affections ; and a carnal Christian is in as great danger as a pagan, 
or idolater, or heretic ; for though his judgment be sound, yet his 
manners are heterodox and heretical. True believing is not an act of 
the understanding only, but a work of ' all the heart/ Acts viii. 37. 
I confess some expressions of scripture seem to lay much upon assent, 


as 1 John iv. 2, and v. 1 ; 1 Cor. xii. 3 ; Mat. xvi. 17 ; but these places 
do either show that assents, where they are serious, and upon full con 
viction, come from some special revelation ; or else, if they propound 
them as evidences of grace, we must distinguish times : the greatest 
difficulty lay then upon assent, rather than affiance. The truths of 
God suffering under so many prejudices, the gospel was a novel doc 
trine, contrary to the ordinary and received principles of reason, per 
secuted in the world, no friend to natural and carnal affections, and 
therefore apt to be suspected. The wind that bloweth on our backs, 
blew in their faces ; arid that which draweth on many to assent to the 
gospel was their discouragement. Consent and long prescription of 
time, the countenance and favour of the world, do beget a veneration 
and reverence to religion ; and therefore assent now is nothing so much 
as it was then, especially when it is trivial and arreptitious, rather than 
deliberate ; for this is only the fruit of human testimony, and needeth 
not supernatural grace. Therefore do not please yourselves in naked 
assents ; these cost nothing, and are worth nothing. There is ' a form 
of knowledge,' Eom. ii. 20, as well as ' a form of godliness,' 2 Tim. iii. 
5. ' A form of knowledge ' is nothing but an idea or module of truth 
in the brains, when there is no power or virtue to change and trans 
form the heart. 

Obs. 2. From that tliou doest well. It is good to own the least ap 
pearance of good in men. So far it is well, saith the apostle. To 
commend that which is good is the ready way to mend the rest. 
This is a sweet art of drawing on men further and further : so far as 
it is good, own it : 1 Cor. xi. 2, with 17, ' In this I praise you/ 
saith Paul ; and again, 'In this I praise you not.' Jesus loved the 
young man for his moral excellency, Mark x. 21. It was a hopeful 
step. It is good to take off the scandal of being severe censurers, not 
to be always blaming. It reproveth them that blast the early bud 
dings of grace, and discourage men as soon as they look toward 
religion by their severe rigour ; like the dragon that watched to 
' destroy the man-child as soon as he was born/ Kev. xii. 4. The 
infant and young workings of grace should be dandled upon the lap 
of commendation, or, like weak things, fostered with much gentleness 
and care. 

Obs. 3. The devils assent to the articles of Christian religion. It 
cometh to pass partly through the subtlety of their natures they are 
intellectual essences ; partly through experience of providences, sight 
of miracles. They are sensible of the power of God in rescuing men 
from their paws ; so that they are forced to acknowledge there is a 
God, and to consent to many truths in the scriptures. There are 
many articles acknowledged at once in Mat. viii. 29, ' Jesus, thou Son 
of God, art thou come to torment us before our time ? ' They 
acknowledge God, Christ the Son of God, not in an ordinary adoptive 
way ; for it is. Luke iv., ' That thou art the Holy One of God ; ' then a 
day of judgment, which will occasion more torment to themselves and 
other sinners. And so you shall see Paul adjured the devil ' by the 
name of Christ/ Acts xvi. 18. And the devils answer the sons of 
Sceva, ' Paul I know, and Jesus I know ; but who are ye ? ' Acts 
xix. 15. They acknowledged that Jesus as the master, Paul as the 

VOL. iv. Q 


servant and messenger, had mightily shaken their power and kingdom. 
So it is said, Phil. ii. 10, ' Things under the earth ; ' that is, the 
devils who are turned into hell, which is represented as a subterranean 
place, do ' bow the knee ' to Christ. Well, then, never rest in the 
devils' faith. Can the devils be justified or be saved ? They believe 
there is a God, that there is a Christ, that Christ died for sinners. 
A Christian is to exceed and go beyond devils ; nay, beyond other 
men, beyond pagans ; nay, beyond hypocrites in the church ; nay, be 
yond himself ; he must ' forget the things that are behind/ &c. Is it 
not a notable check to atheistical thoughts, Should I be worse than 
devils ? David said, ' I was as a beast before thee,' Ps. Ixxiii. 23 ; 
and Agur, Prov. xxx. 2, ' Surely I am more brutish than any man, 
and have not the understanding of a man.' Whilst we go about to 
ungod God, we do but unman ourselves ; nay, worse, an atheist is not 
only a beast, but a devil. Christ called Judas ' devil,' John vi. 70. 
Nay, worse than devils : the devils are under the dread of this truth ; 
we are stupid, insensible of providence, careless of judgments, when 
' the devils believe and tremble.' The Lord might well expostulate 
thus, ' Fear ye not me, foolish people, that have no understand 
ing?' Jer. v. 21,22. 

Obs. 4. Horror is the effect of the devils' knowledge : the more they 
know of God the greater trembling is there impressed upon them. 
They were terrified at a miracle, or any glorious discovery of Christ's 
power on earth : ' Art thou come to torment us before our time ? ' 
Well, then, hence you may collect (1.) Light that yieldeth us no 
comfort is but darkness. The devils have knowledge left, but no 
comfort, therefore said to be ' held under chains of darkness,' Jude 6. 
The more they think of God the more they tremble. It is miserable 
to have only light enough to awaken conscience, and knowledge enough 
to be self-condemned, to know God, but not to enjoy him. The 
devils cannot choose but abominate their own thoughts of the Deity. 
Oh ! rest not, then, till you have gotten such a knowledge of God as 
yieldeth comfort : Ps. xxxvi. 9, ' In thy light shall we see light ; ' 
there is light in this light, all other light is darkness. (2.) All 
knowledge of God out of Christ is uncomfortable : that is the reason 
why the devils tremble ; they cannot know God as a father, but as a 
j udge ; not as a friend, but as an enemy. Faith looking upon God 
as a father and as a friend, yieldeth peace to the soul, Kom. v. 1 ; 
and ' fear is cast out, for fear hath torment in it,' 1 John iv. 18. This 
is the misery of devils and damned men and natural men, that they 
cannot think of God without horror ; whereas this is the great solace 
and comfort of the saints, that there is a God : Ps. civ. 34. ' My 
meditation of him shall be sweet ; ' and Cant. i. 3, ' Thy name is as an 
ointment poured out,' full of fragrancy and refreshing. Salt waters 
being strained through the earth become sweet. God's attributes, 
which are in themselves terrible and dreadful to a sinner, being 
derived to us through Christ, yield comfort and sweetness. The chil 
dren of God can long for the day when Christ's appearance will be 
most terrible : * Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.' 

Ver. 20. But wilt thou know, vain man, that faith without works 
is dead ? 


Here he reinforceth the dispute against a carnal professor ; the 
disputation is not about the cause of justification, but what we should 
think of an empty faith. 

But wilt tliou know ; that is, wilt thou rightly understand and 
consider of the matter, or hearken to what can be said against thy 
faith ? The like form of speech is used Rom. xiii. 3, ' Wilt thou 
then not be afraid of the power ? ' that is, be taught how not to 
fear it. 

vain man, avQpwTre iceve, empty man ; a metaphor taken 
from an empty vessel. It is the parallel word to raka, which is 
forbidden Mat. v. 22. The Septuagint render rikim by avSpa? 
/cevovs, Judges xi. 3. You will say. Was it lawful for the apostle to 
use such words of contempt and disgrace? I answer (1.) Christ 
doth not forbid the word, but the word used in anger. You shall see 
fool, another term there forbidden, is elsewhere used by Christ him- 
'feelf : Mat. xxiii. 17, ' ye fools and blind ; ' and Luke xxiv. 25, * 
ye fools, and slow of heart to believe.' And so Paul, Gal. iii. 1, ' ye 
foolish Galatians.' There is a difference between necessary corrections 
and contemptuous speeches or reproofs. (2.) The apostle doth not 
direct this to any one person, but to such an order or sort of men ; 1 
such speeches to private persons savour of private anger : but being 
directed to such a sort of men, do but note the just detestation of a 
public reproof. 

That faith without works is dead. Mark, he doth not say, ' faith 
is dead without works/ but ' faith without works is dead : ' there is a 
difference in these predications; as if he said, faith is dead without 
works, it would have argued that works are the cause that gave life 
to faith, whereas they are effects that argue life in faith. As, for in 
stance, ' a man without motion is dead ' is proper, but a ' man is dead 
without motion ' is a predication far different. Briefly, in this dispute 
the apostle proceedeth upon the supposition of several maxims. As 
(1.) That the way to know graces is by their effects and operations, 
as causes are known by their necessary effects. (2. ) That works are 
an effect of faith ; ' faith without works is dead,' and works are dead 
without faith. So that works that are gracious are a proper, per 
petual, and inseparable effect of faith ; they are such effects as do not 
give life to faith, but declare it ; as apples do not give life to the tree, 
but show it forth. 

The notes are these : 

01)s. 1. From that wilt thou know $ Presumers are either ignorant 
or inconsiderate. False and mistaken faith is usually a brat of dark 
ness ; either men do not understand what faith is, or do not consider 
what they do. Ignorance and incogitancy maketh such unwarrant 
able conceits to escape without censure. 

Obs. 2. From that vain or empty man. Temporaries are but 
vain men ; like empty vessels, full of wind, and make the greatest 
sound ; they are full of windy presumptions and boasting professions. 
(1.) Full of wind, they have a little airy knowledge, such as puffeth 
up : 2 Peter i. 8, ' Barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our 
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' There is knowledge, but it is a 

1 ' Hie notautur non certi homines, sed certa hominum genera.' Grot, in locum. 


barren and unfruitful knowledge ; they are void and destitute of any 
solid grace. (2.) Of a great sound and noise ; can talk of grace, 
boast of knowledge, glory in their faith. Usually presumers are of a 
slight, frothy spirit, that are all for tongue and an empty profession. 
A vain faith and a vain man are oft suited and matched. 

Obs. 3. Hypocrites must be roused with some asperity and sharp 
ness. So the apostle, ' vain man ; ' so Christ, * ye foolish and 
blind ; ' so John the Baptist, ' ye generation of vipers,' Mat. iii. 7. 
Hypocrites are usually inconsiderate, and of a sleepy conscience, so that 
we must not whisper, but cry aloud. An open sinner hath a constant 
torment and bondage upon his spirit, which is soon felt and soon 
awakened ; but a hypocrite is able to make defences and replies. We 
must, by the warrant of those great examples, deal with him more 
roughly ; mildness doth but soothe him in his error. 

065. 4. That an empty barren faith is a dead faith. I noted this 
before ; let me touch on it again. It is a dead faith (1.) Because it 
may stand with a natural state, in which we are ' dead in trespasses 
and sins.' (2.) It is dead, because it receiveth not the quickening 
influences of the Spirit. (3.) It is dead, because it wanteth the effect 
of life, which is operation ; all life is the beginning of operation, 
tendeth to operation, and is increased by operation ; so faith is dead, 
like a root of a tree in the ground, when it cannot produce the ordi 
nary effects and fruits of faith. (4.) It is dead, because unavailable 
to eternal life, of no more use and service to you than a dead thing. 
Oh ! pluck it off ; who would suffer a dead plant in his garden ? ' Why 
cumbereth it the ground ? ' Luke xiii. 7. 

, Ver. 21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, lolien he 
offered Isaac upon the altar ? 

Here he propoundeth the demonstration that might convince the 
vain man, which is taken from the example of Abraham ; the 
believers of the Old and New Testament being all justified the same 

Was not Abraham our father. He instanceth in Abraham, because 
lie was the prime example and idea of justification, and because many 
were apt to plead that instance urged by Paul, Kom. iv. 1-4, &c., and 
because he was a man of special reverence and esteem among the 
Jews. And he calleth him ' our father/ because he was so to those 
to whom he wrote, to the twelve dispersed tribes, and because he is to 
all the faithful, who are described to be those that ' walk in the steps 
of our father Abraham/ Kom. iv. 12. And indeed this is the solemn 
name and title that is given to Abraham in the scriptures, ' Abraham 
our father/ See John viii. 53 ; Acts vii. 2 ; Eom. iv. 1. 

Justified ~by works ; that is, declared to be just by his works before 
God and the world. But you will say, is not this contrary to scripture ? 
It is said, Kom. iii. 20, ' By the works of the law no man is justified ; ' 
and particularly it is said of Abraham, that he was ' not justified by 
works/ Kom. iv. 2. How shall we reconcile this difference ? I shall 
not enter upon the main question till I come to the 24th verse ; only, 
for the clearing of the present doubt, give me leave to return some 
thing by way of answer. Some distinguish of justification, it is either 
in foro divino or liumano, in heaven or before men, and that is again 


either in our own consciences or in the sight of others : in the two 
latter senses they grant that works do justify ; though not before God, 
yet in the court of conscience and before the world. The distinction 
is not altogether without warrant of scripture, for, Kom. iii. 20, ' By 
the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.' Mark 
that, in Ms sight, implying there is another justification before men, 
which may take in works. So also Kom. iv. 2, that ' Abraham had 
not whereof to glory before God' That last clause implieth he could 
avouch his sincerity, as Job also did, before men, Job xxxi. Well, 
then, according to this opinion, these two places may be thus recon 
ciled : Paul speaketh of the use and office of faith in foro divino, before 
God, and James speaketh of the effects and qualities of faith by which 
it is justified before men. And thus the business may be fairly accom 
modated ; but that I believe there is somewhat more in it, because he 
speaketh of some special justification that Abraham received upon his 
offering of Isaac ; and you shall find that from God he then received 
a justification of his faith, though thirty years before that he had 
received a justification of his person. When he was an idolater and 
ungodly, Joshua xiv. 2, Kom. v. 4, then God called him out of grace, 
Gen. xii. 3, and justified him. It is said, ' He believed, and it was 
counted to him for righteousness/ Gen. xv. 6. He was justified by 
imputation, and absolved from guilt and sin, so as it could not lie 
upon him to damnation. But now, when he offered Isaac, his faith 
was justified to be true and right, for that command was for the trial 
of it ; therefore upon his obedience God did two things renewed the 
promise of Christ to him, Gen. xxii. 16, 17, and gave him a testimony 
and declaration of his sincerity, ver. 12, ' Now I know that thou 
fearest God/ saith Christ to him, who is there called the ' Angel of 
the Lord.' I conceive, as works are signs in foro, to men, by 
which they may judge of the quality of faith, so in foro divino, before 
God, God judging ' according to our works/ as it is distinctly said, 
Kev. xx. 12. God will evince the faith of his saints to be right by 
producing their works, and will discover the ungrounded hopes of 
others by their works also, for great and small are all judged accord 
ing to that rule. And not only hereafter, but now also doth God 
judge according to works ; that is, look upon them as testimonies and 
declarations of faith. ' Now I know that thou fearest God / that is, 
now I have an experience ; upon which experience Abraham was 
justified and the promise renewed. I conceive our apostle alludeth to 
that experience, for he speaketh as in a known case, * Was not Abraham 
justified by works ? ; that is, upon this did not he receive a testimony 
and declaration from God that he was justified ? And suitable to this 
the author of the Book of Maccabees saith, 1 Mac. ii. 52, ' Was not 
Abraham found faithful in temptation ? and it was imputed to him 
for righteousness/ Found faithful is a phrase equivalent to that 
which James useth, ' was justified/ Therefore Paul and James may 
be thus reconciled : Paul speaketh of the justifying of a sinner from 
the curse of his natural condition, the occupations of the law, &c., and 
accepting him into the favour of God, which is of grace, and not^ of 
debt; James of the justifying and approbation of that faith by which 
we are thus accepted with God. God giveth us the comfort of our 


former justification by such experiences and fruits of faith, for in them 
we are found faithful ; that is, before God and man approved to have 
a right faith. And to this purpose Diodat excellently glosseth, that 
justification in Paul is opposite to the condemnation of a sinner in 
general, and justification in James is opposite to the condemnation of 
a hypocrite in particular. In Paul's sense a sinner is absolved, in 
James's sense a believer is approved ; and so most sweetly, and for 
aught I can see, without exception the apostles are agreed. For the 
Popish exceptions I shall handle them, ver. 24. 

When he offered Isaac upon the altars Mark, though Abraham 
never actually offered him, but only in purpose and vow, yet it is said 
' he offered/ So Heb. xi. 17, ' By faith Abraham offered Isaac/ &c. ; 
he purposed it, and if God had continued the command, would ac 
tually have done it. 1 God counteth that to be done which is about to 
be done, and taketh notice of what is in the heart, though it be not 
brought to practice and actual accomplishment. 

Obs. 1. Those that would have Abraham's privileges must look to 
it that they have Abraham's faith. You claim kin of him as believers. 
How was it with Abraham ? Two things are notable in his faith 
(1.) He received the promises with all humility : Gen. xvii. 3, ' And 
Abraham fell on his face/ as mightily abashed and abased in himself, 
to see God deal thus with him. (2.) He improved them, with much 
fidelity, being upright before God, and walking in all relations for his 
glory. Two instances there are of his obediences, upon which the 
Holy Ghost hath set a special mark and note one was leaving his 
father's house, Gen. xii. 1 , wherein he denied himself in his possessions ; 
the other was the sacrificing of his son, Gen. xxii. 1, wherein he 
denied himself in his hopes. Oh I ' look to the rock from whence you 
were hewn, the hole of the pit out of which you were digged, to 
Abraham your father,' Isa. li. 1, 2. Do you receive mercies so 
humbly, improve them so thankfully ? Who would not stick at 
those commands wherewith Abraham was exercised and tried ? God 
calleth every believer more or less to deny something that is near and 
dear to him. 

Obs. 2. Believers must see that they honour and justify their faith 
by works. Never content yourselves with an empty profession. Pro 
fession showeth to what party we addict ourselves, but holiness showeth 
we addict ourselves to God. Disagreeing parties may accord in the 
same guilt and practices : ' What do you more ? ' Mat. v. 47. Chris 
tianity may be professed out of faction by them that have a pagan 
heart, under a Christian name. All natural men, however they differ 
in interest, agree in one common rebellion against God. But the chief 
thing which I would urge, is to press them that profess themselves to 
be justified by grace to make good their interest in grace, to look to 
the evidence of works. Libertines press men absolutely to believe 
that they are justified from all eternity ; and to lull them asleep in a 
complete security, make it a sin to doubt of or question their faith, 
whether it be right or no. Saltmarsh saith, That we are no more to 
question faith than to question the promise, and that Christ and his 

1 ' Immolari sibi Deus filium jussit, pater obtulit, et quantum ad defunctioneni cordis 
pertinet, immolavit.' Salvian. de Gub. Dei, lib. i. 


apostles did not press men to ask the question whether they did be 
lieve or no, and that Christ's commands to believe are not to be dis 
puted, but obeyed/ &C. 1 Vain allegation! There is a difference 
between questioning the command and questioning our obedience. 
Though we are not to dispute against the duty, yet we are to examine 
whether we perform it. The apostle speaketh directly to this pur 
pose : ' Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith,' 2 Cor. xiii. 5. 
There is no other way to undeceive the soul, and to discover false 
conceptions from true graces. How sad was it for the foolish virgins, 
that never doubted of their faith till it was too late ! It is the vulgar 
mistake to think that the excellency of faith lieth in the security and 
strength of persuasion ; and that whoever can make full account that 
Christ died for him, or that he shall go to heaven, doth believe ; 
whereas the difference between faith and presumption doth not lie in 
the security of persuasion, but in the ground of it, Mat. vii., latter end. 
The two buildings there might be raised in equal height and comeli 
ness ; the difference was in the foundation. A hypocrite may have as 
fair and as full a confidence as a believer, but it is not as well built 
and raised ; and, if the scripture shall give sentence, he is not most 
happy that hath least trouble, but he that hath least cause ; therefore 
you had need look to your faith and confidence, that it may be justi 
fied, justified by your works. This is a sensible evidence, and most in 
sight. I confess, by some it is decried as litigious, by others as legal. 
Some think that because there are so many shifts, and circuits, and 
wiles in the heart of man, it is an uncertain, if not an impossible way 
of trial. I confess, if in trial we were only to go by the light of our 
conscience and reason, the objection would seem to have weight in it. 
Who can discover the ' foldings of the belly,' Prov. xx. 27, without 
God's own candle ? The main certainty lieth in the Spirit's witness, 
without which the witness of water is silent, 1 John v. 8. Graces 
shine not without this light. God's own interpreter must ' show a 
man his righteousness/ Job xxxiii., otherwise there will be many shifts 
in the heart, and we shall still be in the dark. Under the law every 
thing was to be established ' in the mouth of two or three witnesses/ 
Deut. xvii. 6. So here are two witnesses, the Spirit with our spirits, 
the Spirit with our renewed consciences, Eom. viii. 16. It is the Holy 
Ghost that giveth light, whereby we may discern the truth of grace, 
imprinteth the feeling and comfort, and by satisfying the soul begetteth 
a serenity and calmness within us. Therefore the apostle pitcheth 
the main certainty upon the Spirit's evidence : Kom. ix. 2, ' I lie not, 
my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost ; ' that is, my 
conscience is assured by the Holy Ghost that I do not err or lie. 
Others cry it up for legal, as by pressing men to look to works as an 
evidence, we went about to establish their confidence in their own 
righteousness, or a merit in themselves. Certainly it is one thing to 
judge by our graces, another thing to rest or put our trust in them. 
There is a great deal of difference between declaring and deserving. 
Works as fruits may declare our justified estate. There is a difference 
between ' peace with God ' and ' peace of conscience.' Peace and amity 
with God we have merely by grace and free justification, that elprfvrj 

1 Saltmarsti in his Free Grace, cap. v., pp. 62-64. 


777309 &eov, Bom. v. 1 ; but in the court of conscience there must be 
some evidence and manifestation. A broken man hath peace in court as 
soon as the surety hath paid his debt, but hath the comfort of it within 
himself when it is signified to him by letter or otherwise. Free j ustifica- 
tion is the ground of our comfort, but works the evidence that intimate it 
to us. However, we had need be cautious. An undue use of marks will 
keep the soul full of doubts ; and we want the comfort that we seek 
when we do not bottom and found it upon Christ, according to his 
free promises. Above all things a Christian should be most delicate 
and tender in founding his hopes. God is impatient of a copartner 
in the creature's trust ; he will not give that glory to another ; and if 
you do, he will declare his anger by leaving you to a constant uncer 
tainty and dissatisfaction. Always when we think to warm ourselves 
by our own sparkles, we lie down in sorrow. Because the business is 
of great concernment, I shall give you a few directions, how you may 
reflect upon your graces, or works, as evidences of your estate. 

1. You must be loyal to Christ. Many seek all their happiness in 
the gracious dispositions of their own souls, and so neglect Christ. 1 
This were to prize the love token before the lovely person. To rectify 
it, it is good to go to work this way : (1.) Let there be a thorough 
going out of yourselves ; be sure to keep the heart right in point of 
righteousness ; and in founding your hopes, see that you do not neg 
lect ' the corner stone.' Paul reckoneth up all his natural privileges, 
moral excellencies, nay, his own righteousness, what he did as a 
Pharisee, what as a Christian. ' If any might have confidence in the 
flesh/ Paul might ; but he renounceth all ; nay, counts it ' loss/ i.e., 
dangerous allurements to hypocrisy and self-confidence, Phil. iii. It is 
good to have such actual and fresh thoughts in ourselves when we pro 
ceed to trial, that our souls may be rather carried to than diverted and 
taken off from Christ. Usually assurance is given in after a solemn 
and direct exercise of faith : Eph. i. 13, * After ye believed, ye were 
sealed by the Spirit of promise ; ; where the apostle showeth the order 
of the Spirit's sealing, after believing or going to Christ, and the quality 
under which the Spirit sealeth, as a Spirit of promise ; implying, that 
when the thoughts have been newly and freshly exercised in the con 
sideration of our own unworthiness and God's free grace and promises, 
then are we fittest to receive the witness and certioration of the Spirit. 
(2.) In the very view and comfort of your graces still keep the heart 
upon Christ. See what would become of you were it not for free grace. 
God could find matter of condemnation against you, not only in the 
worst sins, but in the best duties ; the most regenerate man durst not 
adventure his soul upon the heavenliest thought that ever he conceived. 
When Nehemiah had performed a zealous action he subjoineth, Neh. 
xiii. 22, ' Kemember me, my God, concerning this also, and spare me 
according to the greatness of thy mercy ;' intimating, that therein God 
might find enough to ruin him. So Paul, 1 Cor. iv. 4, ' I know nothing 
by myself, yet am I not hereby justified :' he knew no unfaithfulness 
in his ministry, yet this would not make him righteous before God. 
So that, in the presence of the greatest evidences, you should see free 

1 See Mr T. Goodwin in his preface before his book called 'Faith Triumphing in its 


grace is the surest refuge ; as Jehoshaphat, when he had all the strength 
of Judah, who are numbered to be five hundred thousand, yet goeth 
to God, as if there were no presence of means: 2 Chron. xx. 12, ' We 
have no might ; our eyes are unto thee.' So in the fairest train of 
graces you should still keep Christ in the eye of faith, and let the soul 
stay upon him ; or, as in a pair of compasses, one part is fixed in the 
centre whilst the other foot wandereth about in the circumference, so 
must the soul stay on Christ, be fixed on him, whilst we search after 
evidences and additional comforts. (3.) After the issue and close of 
all, you must the more earnestly renew your addresses to Christ, and 
exercise faith with the more advantage and cheerfulness. You have 
much more encouragement to close with him when you survey 
his bounty to your souls, and consider those emanations of grace by 
which you are enabled to good works. So 1 John v. 13, ' These things 
have I written to you that believe, that you may know that you have 
eternal life, and that you may believe on him.' His meaning is, that 
upon assurance they might renew the act of faith with the more cheer 
fulness ; as Thomas, when he felt Christ's wounds, had the greater reason 
to believe, John xx. 27 ; non nova, sed cmctajide, as Estius glosseth, by a 
renewed and increased faith. So when you have had a feeling and sense 
of Christ's bounty to you, and by good works have cleared up your interest 
in eternal life, you have the greatest reason to cast yourselves again upon 
Christ by faith and confidence ; for, as the apostle saith, ' The righteous 
ness of God is revealed from faith to faith,' Rom. i. 17. The whole 
business of our justification before God is carried on by a continual act 
of faith, from one act and degree to another. In short, whatever com 
fort we seek in our works and graces, Christ must still ' lie as a bundle 
of myrrh between our breasts,' Cant. i. 12 ; be kept close and near the 
heart, always in the eye of faith and the arms of love. 

2. You must go to work evangelically, and with a spirit suiting the 
gospel. Consider and understand your evidences and graces not in a 
legal perfection, but as ' sprinkled with the blood of the covenant.' If 
you should look for love, fear, faith, hope, in that perfection which the 
law requireth, the heart will still be kept unsettled ; your business is 
to look to the truth rather than the measure. Usually men bring 
their graces rather to the balance than to the touchstone, and weigh 
them when they should try them, as if the quantity and measure were 
more considerable than the essence and nature. It is good to own 
grace, though mingled with much weakness : the children of God have 
pleaded the truth of their graces, when conscious to themselves of 
many failings : Cant. i. 5, * I am black, but comely.' There is grace, 
though under the veil and cloud of much weakness ; so Cant. v. 2, ' I 
sleep, but my heart waketh :' the spouse hath a double aspect, to what 
was evil and what was good ; so he in the Gospel could with confidence 
plead his faith, though humbled with sad relics and remains of un 
belief : ' Lord, I believe ; help my unbelief/ Mark ix. 24. We must not 
bear false witness against others, much less against ourselves ; and, 
therefore, own a little good, though in the midst of much evil. 

3. You must go to work prudently, understanding the nature of 
marks, and the time to use them ; everything is beautiful in its season. 
There are times of desertion, when graces are not visible. In dark- 


ness we can neither see black nor white. In times of great dejection 
and discouragement the work of a Christian is not to try, but believe : 
' Let him stay himself on the name of God/ Isa. 1. 10. It is most 
seasonable to encourage the soul to acts of faith, and to reflect upon 
the absolute promises, rather than conditional. The absolute promises 
were intended by God as attractives and encouragements to such dis 
tressed souls. There is a time when the soul is apt to slumber, and 
to be surprised with a careless security ; then it is good to awaken it 
by a serious trial. To a loose, carnal spirit, an absolute promise is as 
poison ; to a dejected spirit, as cheering wine. When the soul lieth 
under fear and sense of guilt, it is unable to judge, therefore exam 
ination doth but increase the trouble. But again, when the heart is 
drowsy and careless, trial is most in season ; and it is best to reflect 
upon the conditional promises, that we may look after the qualifica 
tions expressed in them ere we take comfort. When David was under 
hatches, he laboured to maintain faith, and outbrave discourage 
ments : Ps. iii. 2, the enemies said, ' Now there is no help for him in 
his God/ He hath fallen scandalously, and that psalm was penned 
upon occasion of Absalom's rebellion, which was ordered by way of 
correction of David's sin ; and this made them vaunt, Now God is his 
enemy. Now David doth not mention the sin, but awakeneth his 
trust ; in the very face of the temptation he maintaineth his confi 
dence : ' But thou art my shield, my glory, and the lifter up of my head,' 
&c.,ver. 3. And elsewhere he professeththat this was his general practice: 
Ps. Ivi. 3, ' At what time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee.' In 
times of discouragement, and when terror was likely to grow upon his 
spirit, he would look after arguments and supports of trust and depend 
ence. So, on the contrary, when the heart groweth rusty and secure, it is 
good to use Nazianzen's policy, when his heart began to be corrupted with 
ease and pleasure, 1 Tot? QpfjvoL? avyyiryvo^cu, saith he, I use to read the 
Lamentations of Jeremiah, or to inure his mind to matter sad and lament 
able. In all spiritual cases it is good to deal prudently, lest we put 
ourselves into the hands of our enemies, and further the devices of Satan. 
4. Your great care must be to be humbly thankful ; thankful, be 
cause all is from God. It is a vain spirit that is proud of what is 
borrowed, or glorieth because he is more in debt than others : 1 Cor. 
iv. 7, ' Who made thee differ ? and what hast thou which thou hasffc 
not received? 7 Whatever we find upon a search, it must not be 
ascribed to free-will, but to free grace : ' He giveth will and deed ac 
cording to his pleasure/ Phil. ii. 13. Free-will establisheth merit ; 
free grace checketh it. The sun is not beholden, because we borrow 
light from it, or the fountain because we draw water. We may all 
say, as David, ' Of thine own have we given thee ;' Lord, this is thy 
bounty. Then humble we must be, because as every good work 
cometh from God's Spirit, so it passeth through thy heart, and there 
it is defiled ; parlus sequitur ventrem. Our good works have more of 
the mother in them than the father ; and so ' our righteousnesses' 
become * dung/ Phil. iii. 8, and ' filthy rags/ Isa. Ixiv. 6. Thus, lest 
pride taint the spirit by the sight of our graces, it is good to make 
distinct and actual reflections on God's bounty and our own vileness. 

1 Nazian. Orat. xiii. circa med. 


Obs. 3. From that ivlien he offered Isaac. Isaac is counted offered, 
because he was so in Abraham's purpose. The note is, that serious 
purposes of obedience are accepted for obedience. God hath given in 
pardon upon a purpose of returning : Ps. xxxii. 5/1 said I would 
confess, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin/ Only remember 
they must be such purposes as are like Abraham's. (1.) Serious and 
resolved, for he prepared himself to the performance ; not vain pur 
poses to betray present duties, when men hope to do that to-morrow 
which they should do to-day ; these are vanishing and flitting motions 
which God taketh notice of : Ps. xliv. 21, ' God knoweth the secrets of 
the hearts/ and that such delays are but modest denials, or rather de 
ceitful offers, to put off the clamour and importunity of conscience. 
Nothing more usual than such purposes for the future to justify 
present neglects. God will search it out : Abraham was ready. (2.) 
They must be such as end in action, unless in the case of allowable 
hindrances. When is that ? (1st.) When we are hindered, as Abra 
ham was, from heaven ; he, by divine command ; we, by providence : 
1 Kings viii. 18, ' Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house 
unto my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart/ When 
mere providence diverteth us from holy intentions, God accepteth of 
the will. (2d.) By invincible weakness : Rom. vii. 18, ' To will is 
present with me ; but to perform that which is good, I find not/ The 
apostle could not, KaTepyd&Oai, come up to the rate of his purposes ; 
in such a case God looketh to what is in the heart. Well, then (1.) 
It serveth for comfort to the people of God, who, because they do not 
perform duty as they would, are much discouraged. God taketh no 
tice of the purpose, and judgeth of you, as physicians do of their 
patients, not by their eating, but their appetite. Purposes and desires 
are works of God's own stirring up, the free native offering and mo 
tions of grace. Practices may be overruled, but such earnest purposes 
as make you do what you can are usually serious and genuine. The 
children of God, that cannot justify their practices, plead the inward 
motions and desires of their hearts : John xxi. 17, ' Thou knowest all 
things, and thou knowest that I love thee ; ' Neh. i. 11, ' Desire to 
fear thy name/ &c. (2.) It is for advice to us to be careful of our 
purposes. Many would be more wicked, were they not bound up. 1 
God takes notice of what is in their hearts : Mat. v. 28, ' He that looketh 
upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her in 
his heart/ So also Seneca, Incesta est et sine stupro quw stuprum 
cupit the purpose maketh guilty, though the act be restrained. God 
took notice of the king of Babylon's purposes and intentions : Isa. x. 
7, ' It is in his heart to destroy, and cut off nations not a few/ Mo 
tions and inclinations should be watched over. (3.) It showeth God's 
readiness to receive returning sinners ; he met his son ' while he was 
yet a great way off/ Luke xv. As soon as the will layeth down the 
weapons of defiance, and moveth towards God, the Lord runneth to 
embrace and fall upon the neck of such a poor soul, that he may 
satisfy it with some early comforts. So Isa. Ixv. 24, ' Before they call, 
I will answer ; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear/ Acts of 
grace do anticipate and often prevent acts of duty. ' Turn me/ saith 

1 ' Solve leonem et senties.' 


Ephrairn, and then * a dear and pleasant son/ Jer. xxxi. 18, with ver. 
20 As soon as you set your faces towards God, he runneth towards 
you. (4.) It showeth how we should entertain the purposes and 
promises of God ; look upon them in the promise with such a cer 
tainty as if they were actually accomplished : Kev. xiv. 8, ' Babylon 
is fallen, is fallen.' God can read duty in the purpose : we have 
much more cause to read accomplishment in the promise. ' Hath he 
said, and shall he not do it ? hath he spoken, and shall he not make 
it good ? ' Num. xxiii. 19. His will is not changeable as ours, neither 
is his power restrained. 

Obs. 4. From that offered Isaac upon the altar. He bringeth this 
as the great argument of the truth of Abraham's faith. It is not for 
faith to produce every action, unless it produce such actions as 
Abraham's. Such as will engage you to self-denial are troublesome 
to the flesh. David scorned such service as cost nothing. There where 
we must deny our own reason, affections, interest, that is an action fit- 
to try a believer. Let us see what is observable in this action of 
Abraham, that we may go and do likewise. (1.) Observe the great 
ness of the temptation. It was to offer his own son, the son of his 
love, his only son, a son longed for, and obtained when * his body was 
dead,' and ' Sarah's womb dead ;' nay, ' the son of the promise.' Had 
he been to contend only with natural affection, it had been much 
descensive love is always vehement ; but for love to Isaac there were 
special endearing reasons and arguments. But Abraham was not 
only to conflict with natural affection, but reason; not only with 
reason, but faith. He was, as it were, to execute all his hopes ; and 
all this was to be done by himself ; with his own hand he was at one 
stroke to cut off all his comforts ; the execution of such a sentence 
was as harsh and bitter to flesh and blood as to be his own execu 
tioner. Oh ! go and shame yourselves without, you that can so little 
deny yourselves for God, that attempt duties only when they are easy 
and obvious, never care to recover them out of the hands of difficulty 
and inconvenience. Public duties, if well done, are usually against 
carnal interests, private duties against carnal affections. Can you 
give up all that is near and dear to you ? Can you offer up your 
Isaac ? your ease and pleasure for private duties ? your interests for 
public ? Every action is not a trial of faith, but such as engageth 
to self-denial. (2.) Consider the readiness of his obedience. As 
Abraham is the pattern of believing, so of obeying. He received the 
promises as a figure of our faith ; he offered up his son as a figure 
of our obedience, Heb. xi. 17. (1st.) He obeyed readily and 
willingly : Gen. xxii. 3, ' Abraham rose early in the morning.' In 
such a service some would have delayed all the time they could, but 
he is up early. Usually we straiten duty rather than straiten our 
selves ; we are not about that work early. (2d.) Kesolutely ; he con- 
cealeth it from his wife, servants, from Isaac himself, that so he might 
not be diverted from his pious purpose. Oh ! who is now so wise to order 
the circumstances of a duty that he may not be hindered in it ? (3d.) 
He denied carnal reason. In difficult cases we seek to elude the 
command, dispute how we shall shift it off, not how we shall obey it. 
If we had been put upon such a trial, we would question the vision, 


or seek some other meaning ; perhaps offer the image of Isaac, or 
some youngling of the flock, and call it Isaac ; as now we often pervert 
a command by distinctions, and invent shifts to cheat our souls into 
a neglect of duty ; as the heathens, when their gods called for </>&>ra, 
a man, they offered <wra, a candle; or as Hercules offered up a 
painted man instead of a living. But Abraham doth not so, though 
he had a fair occasion, for he was divided between believing the pro 
mise and obeying the command. God tried him in his faith : his 
faith was to conflict with his natural reason as well as his obedience 
with his natural affection. But ' he accounted that God was able to 
raise him from the dead/ Heb. xi. 19, and he reconcileth the command 
ment with the promise. How easily could we have slipped out at 
this door, and disobey, out of pretences and reasons of religion. But 
Abraham offered Isaac. 

Ver. 22. Seest ihou how his faith ivrought ivith his ivorks, and by 
ivorks tuas faith made perfect ? 

Having alleged the instance, he now urgeth it by an apostrophe 
to the boasting hypocrite, who nourished an impure life under the 
pretence of faith. 

Seest ihou, /SXeTret?. He seeketh to awaken the secure carnalist by 
urging this instance upon his conscience : ' Seest thou?' that is, is it 
not clear ? or without an interrogation, ' Thou seest.' 

How Ms faith wrought with his works. Many senses are given of 
this phrase. The Papists urge it to prove that faith needeth the con 
currence of works in the matter of justification, as if works and faith 
were joint causes ; but then the apostle would have said, that works 
wrought with his faith, and not faith with his works. Among the 
orthodox it is expounded with some difference. That sense which I 
prefer is, that his faith rested not in a naked, bare profession, but was 
operative ; it had efficacy and influence upon his works, co-working 
with all other graces ; it doth not only exert and put forth itself in 
acts of believing, but also in working. 

And by works tuas faith made perfect. This clause also hath been 
vexed into several senses. The Papists gather hence that in the work 
of justification faith receiveth its worth, value, and perfection from 
works a conceit prejudicial to the freeness of God's love, contrary to 
the constant doctrine of the scriptures ; for faith rather giveth a value 
to works than works to faith, Eom. xiv. 23 ; Heb. xi. 4-6 ; and works 
are so far from being chief, and the more perfect cause of justification, 
that they are not respected there at all. This sense being justly 
disproved, divers others are given. As (1.) ' Made perfect/ that is, 
say some, ' made known and discovered j' 1 as God's strength is said to 
be ' perfected in our weakness/ 2 Cor. xii. 9. None will be so mad as 
to say that our strength doth add anything to the power of God, that is 
incapable of increase and decrease, and hath no need to borrow aught 
from the weakness of man. It is ' made perfect/ because it hath the 
better advantage of discovery, and doth more singularly put forth and 
show itself ; so faith is made perfect, that is, more fully known and 
apparent. And the reason of the expression is (1st.) Because 

1 ' Opera non sunt causa quod aliquis Justus sit apud Deum, sed potius sunt execu- 
tiones et manifestationes justitiae' Thorn. Aquin. in Gal. iii., lect. 4. 


excelling things, whiles kept private, suffer a kind of imperfection ; 
or (2d.) Because it is an argument faith is come to some maturity and 
perfection of growth, not only living, but lively, when it can produce 
its proper and necessary operations ; this sense is probable. But (2.) 
Others understand . it thus : that faith or profession is not full and 
complete till works be joined with it, faith and works being the two 
essential parts which make up a believer ; which interpretation suiteth 
well enough with the scope of the apostle. (3.) The exposition which 
I take to be most simple and suitable is, that faith co-working 
with obedience is made perfect, that is, bettered and improved ; as the 
inward vigour of the spirits is increased by motion and exercise : and 
so in short (as Dr Jackson explaineth it 1 ), works do not perfect faith 
by communication and imputation 2 of their perfection, to it, but by 
stirring, exercising, and intending the natural vigour of it. 

From this verse thus opened observe : 

Obs. 1. There is an influence of faith upon all a Christian's actings, 
Heb. xi. Faith is made the grand principle ; acts are there spoken 
of, which do more formally belong to other graces. But we say the 
general won the day, though the private soldiers did worthily in the 
high places of the field, because it was under his conduct and direc 
tion. So because all other graces inarch, and are brought up in their 
order, to fight under the conduct of faith, the honour of the day and 
duty is devolved upon it. The influence of faith is great into all the 
offices of the heavenly life. (1.) Because it hath the advantage of a 
sweet principle : ' It worketh by love,' Gal. v. 6. It represents the 
love of God, and then inaketh use of the sweetness of it by way of 
argument : it urgeth by such melting entreaties, that the believer 
cannot say nay. Paul intirnateth the argument of faith, Gal. ii. 20, 
'I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved, and gave himself 
for me.' When the soul is backward, faith saith, Christ loved you, 
and gave himself up for you. He was not thus backward in the 
work of salvation ; as the soldier said to Augustus when he refused 
his petition I did not serve you so at the battle of Actium. (2.) It 
presents strong encouragements ; it seeth assistance in the power of 
God, acceptance in the grace of God, reward in the bounty of God. 
When you are weakened with doubtings and discouragements, faith 
saith, Do your endeavour, and God will accept you. When Christ 
came to feast with his spouse he saith, Cant. v. 1, 'I will eat my 
honeycomb with my honey/ Though it were mixed with wax, and 
embased with weakness, Christ will accept it. Whenjealousymaketh 
the heart faint, and the hands feeble, lest we should drive on heavily, 
faith showeth the soul ' an angel that standeth at the altar with sweet 
incense/ Kev. viii. 3, 4. Duty coming immediately out of our hands 
would yield an ill savour, therefore Christ intercepteth it in the passage, 
and so it is perfumed in the hands of a mediator. Again, are you dis 
couraged with weakness ? faith will reply, Thou art weak, but God 
will enable thee. It is an advantage, not a discouragement, to be 
weak in ourselves, that we may be ' strong in the Lord, and in the 
power of his might/ Eph. vi. 10. When the bucket is empty, it 
can be the better filled out of the ocean. Paul saith, 2 Cor. xii. 10, 

1 Jackson of Faith. 2 Qu. ' impartation ' ED. 


' When I am weak, then am I strong.' There is no heart so dead but 
God can quicken it, and he is willing. It is said, 1 Chron. xv. 26, 
* God helped the Levites,' when the work was bodily ; and we are less 
apt to be indisposed for bodily labour. God helped them by discharg 
ing their lassitudes; so certainly he will much more give inward 
strength, more love, joy, hope, which are the strength of the soul, 
Neh. viii. 10. Again, if the heart be lazy and backward, or stick at 
ease and pleasure, faith can present the glory of the reward, the plea 
sures at God's right hand, &c. (3.) It breaketh the force of opposite 
propensions ; if the world standeth in the way of duty, ' faith over- 
cometh the world,' 1 John v. 4 ; partly by bringing Christ into the 
combat, partly by spiritual replies and arguments. Reason telleth us 
we must be for ourselves; faith telleth us we must be for God. 
Reason saith, If I take this course, I shall undo myself; faith, by 
looking within the veil, seeth it is the only way to save all, 2 Cor. 
iv. 15-17. Reason presenteth the treasures of Egypt, and faith the 
recompense of reward. From hence are those bickerings and counter- 
buffs which a believer feeleth sometimes within himself. 

Well, then, out of all this we may infer (1.) That we had need 
get faith ; there is as great a necessity of faith as of life ; it is the life 
of our lives and the soul of our souls ; ilieprimum mobile, the first pin, 
that moveth all the wheels of obedience, like the blood and spirits 
which run through the whole body. There is by the ordination of 
God as great a necessity of faith as of Christ : what good will a deep 
well do us without a bucket ? He that hath a mind to work, would 
not be without his tools ; and who would be without faith that maketh 
conscience of duty ? (2.) Act it in all your works ; no works are 
good till faith work with them, they are not acceptable, nor half so 
Idndly Heb. xi. 4, ' By faith Abel offered ' ir\eiova dvaiav (not only a 
better sacrifice, as we render it, but) ' more sacrifice,' as the word will 
bear. Faith is the best support you can have ; carnal ends make us 
mangle duty, doubts weaken us in duty. 

Obs. 2. That faith is bettered and made more perfect by acting. 
Neglect of our graces is the ground of their decrease and decay ; wells 
are the sweeter for draining. 1 Christians get nothing by dead and 
useless habits. Talents hid in a napkin gather rust ; the noblest 
faculties are embased when not improved in exercise. The apostle 
wisheth Timothy avatpirvpelv, to ' excite and enliven his gifts/ 2 
Tim. i. 6. It is an allusion to the fire of the temple, which was always 
to be kept burning. Well, then, be much in duty, draw out the acts 
of your graces ; many live, but are not lively ; decays do insensibly 
make way for deadness. 

Ver. 23. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith , Abraham be 
lieved God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness ; and he was 
catted the friend of God. 

To strengthen the former argument from the example of Abraham, 
he produceth a testimony of scripture to prove that Abraham had true 
faith, and that Abraham was truly justified. 

And the scripture was fulfilled. You will say, How can this be, 
since that saying was spoken of Abraham long before ? Compare 

1 ' Td 0/xfctra fravT\ovfj.ei>a /SeXriw 2cm.' Basil. 


Gen. xv. 6 with Gen. xxii. ; and the apostle Paul saith that scripture 
was fulfilled in him ' while he was yet in his uncircumcision/ Rom. iv. 
10, which was before Isaac's birth, certainly before his being offered. 
Luther 1 upon this ground rejecteth this epistle with some incivility 
of expression. The Papists seek to reconcile the matter thus : That 
though faith were imputed to Abraham for righteousness before he 
offered Isaac, yet our apostle would prove that faith was not enough 
to justify him, but there needed also works ; for, say they, his righteous 
ness was not complete and full till it was made perfect by the acces 
sion of works. And the Socinians 2 pipe after the same tune and 
note, but without ground and warrant ; for Paul quoteth the very same 
words for justification without works, Rom. iv. 2, 3, and proveth that 
he had such a justification as made him completely happy and blessed, 
ver. 6-8. And if James should go about to superinduce the righteous 
ness of works, he would be directly contrary both to Moses and Paul. 
The words of Moses can no way bear that sense, who plainly averreth 
faith to be imputed to him for righteousness. Briefly, then, for open 
ing the place, you must note, that a scripture is said to be fulfilled in 
several senses : sometimes when the main scope of the place is urged ; 
at other times when a like case falleth out, and so a scripture is quoted, 
and said to be fulfilled, not by way of argument, but allusion ; sensu 
transumptivo, as divines 3 speak ; and they give a note whereby the 
allusive sense may be distinguished from that which is chief and 
proper. When a text is quoted properly, it is said, 'that it might be 
fulfilled/ as noting the aim and scope of the place. Whenit is quoted 
by allusion, or to suit it with a parallel instance, it is said, * then it 
was fulfilled/ as implying that such a like case fell out. So here, 
' Then was the scripture fulfilled ;' that is, upon this instance and ex 
perience of his faith it might be again said that faith was imputed to 
him for righteousness ; and we may rather own this exposition, because 
this sacrifice of his son, Gen. xxii., was a greater manifestation and 
discovery of his faith than that sacrifice mentioned Gen. xv., when 
this honour was first put upon him. And things are said to be ful 
filled when they are most clearly manifested ; as in that known place 
of Acts xiii. 32, 33, where those words, ' Thou art my Son ; this day 
have I begotten thee/ are said to be fulfilled at Christ's resurrection, 
because then he ' showed himself to be the Son of God/ Rom. i. 4. So 
here ; this being the evident discovery of Abraham's faith, it appeared 
how truly it was said of him that ' he believed, and it was imputed 
to him for righteousness/ By that action he declared he had a true 
justifying faith, and therefore 4 the Lord saith after this trial, ' Now I 
know that thou fearest me/ Gen. xxii. 12. And I suppose that he doth 
the rather use this expression to prevent an objection that might be 
drawn from Genesis or the doctrine of Paul ; as also intimating that 

1 Luth. Preef. inhanc epistolam, ubi dicit, HCKC verba Mosis violenter a Jacobo trahi et 
torqueri, &c. 

2 ' Fides, nisi bonorum operum fructibus perficiatur, justificationein perfectam ac salu- 
tem sempiternam conciliare hominibus non potest, ut apertissime testatur Jacobus. 
Vollcel de Vera Heligione, lib. iv, cap. 3, 139. 

3 Spanhem. Dub. Evang., pars 2. Dub. 64, et alibi. 

4 As also the author of the book of Maccabees saith it was now fulfilled : ' 

evptdij TT/OTOS Kal e\oyi(rd-n O.VT$ eis SiKdioa^v. 1 Mac, ii. 52, 


his doctrine tendednotto press men to renounce the righteousness of faith, 
but to get their interest therein cleared, the testimony of Abraham's 
righteousness being so every way compliant with the doctrine proposed. 

Abraham believed God^ and it ivas counted to him for righteous 
ness. The original meaning of that phrase, ' it was counted to him 
for righteousness,' is only to show that the thing was approved and 
-accepted by God : and so it is often used in the Old Testament ; as 
Phinehas' zeal is said to be 'counted in him for righteousness:' 
Ps. cvi. 30, 31, ' He stood up and executed judgment ; and that was 
counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.' 
And therefore in this phrase the scripture doth not declare what is the 
matter of our justification, but only what value the Lord is pleased to 
put upon acts of faith or obedience, when they are performed in the 
face of difficulty and discouragement. It is true, it is quoted by the 
apostle to prove the righteousness which is of faith, without that of 
works: Rom. iv. 3, 'What saith the scripture? Abraham believed 
God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.' But I suppose the 
.apostle doth not quote the rigour of the expression, as if he would 
infer that faith is the matter of our righteousness, but only that the 
first testimony and solemn approbation which Abraham had from God 
was because of his faith. When scriptural expressions are rigorously 
urged, without considering their first and constant use, no wonder that 
mistakes and controversies do arise. For those great disputes about 
the matter of justification, I would not intermeddle; let it suffice to 
note, that the general current of Paul's epistles 1 carrieth it for the 
righteousness of Christ, which being imputed to us, maketh us just and 
acceptable before God ; and this righteousness we receive by faith. So 
that faith justifieth not in the Popish sense as a most perfect grace, or 
as a good work done by us, but in its relation to Christ, as it receiveth 
Christ and his satisfactory righteousness ; and so whether you say it 
justifieth as an instrument, a sole- working instrument, or as an ordin 
ance, or relative action, required on our parts, all is to the same issue 
and purpose : to contend about mere words and bare forms of speech 
is to be too precise and critical. 

And he was called the friend of God. The apostle saith 'he was 
called ;' that is, he was ; as Isa. xlviii. 8, ' Thou wast called a trans 
gressor from the womb ;' that is, thou wast a transgressor. So in the 
New Testament: 1 John iii. 1, ' To be called the sons of God ;' that 
is, to be the sons of God. Or it alludeth to the solemn appellation 
wherewith Abraham is invested in scripture ; as Isa. xli. 8, ' Thou 
Israel are the seed of Abraham my friend.' So 2 Chron. xx. 7, ' Thou 
art our God, and thou gavest this land to the seed of Abraham thy 
friend/ 2 And this title was given to Abraham because of his frequent 
communion with God he had often visions ; and because of his fre 
quent covenanting with God a great condescension, such as the kings 
of the earth use only to their equals and friends : and therefore, in the 
places where this title is given to Abraham, there is some respect to 
the covenant ; and here it is said to be given to him upon that testi- 

1 See Rom. iv. 23-25 ; Rom. v. 19; 1 Cor. i.30; 2 Cor. v. 21 ; Phil. iii. 9. 

2 Efj,paTvp^e-r) fj.eyd\(as Appaa/j. Kal ^iXos irpoynyop^d-rj rov Qeov.'Ckm. in Epist. ad 



mony of his faith and obedience in offering Isaac, when the covenant 
was solemnly renewed and confirmed to him by oath. 

Obs. 1. Works ratify the Spirit's witness. The apostle saith, ' Then 
it was fulfilled ;' that is, seen that Abraham was a believer indeed, ac 
cording to the testimony of God. The Spirit assureth us sometimes 
by expressions, speaking to us by some inward whisper and voice ; 
sometimes by impressions, implanting gracious dispositions, as it were 
writing his mind to us. It is well when both are sensible, and with 
the witness of the Spirit we have that of water, 1 John v. 8. To look 
after works is the best way to prevent delusion. Here is no deceit, 
as in flashy joys. Fanatic spirits are often deceived by sudden flashes 
of comfort. Works, being a more sensible and constant pledge of the 
Spirit, beget a more solid joy : 1 John iii. 29, ' Hereby we know we 
are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him ;' that is, by 
real acts of love and charity. The way of immediate revelation is 
more flitting and inconstant ; such actings of the Spirit being like those 
outward motions that came upon Samson ' the Spirit came upon him 
at times ;' and so upon every withdrawment new scruples and doubts 
do arise. But the trial by grace is most constant and durable, it being 
a continual real pledge of God's love to us. Flashes of comfort are 
only sweet and delightful while felt ; but it is said of grace, ' the seed 
abidethin him/ 1 John iii. 8, and c the anointing, ev vfuv fjuevei, abideth 
in you/ 1 John ii. 7. This is a standing glory, and the continual re 
past of the soul ; whereas those ravishings are like delicacies which 
God tendereth to his people in the times of festivity and magnificence. 
Well, then, learn (1.) That good works are not a doubtful and liti 
gious evidence. Men of dark spirits and great fancy will be always 
raising scruples ; but the fault is in the persons, not the evidence. 
(2.) Learn to approve yourselves to God with all good conscience in 
times of trial ; this will ratify and make good those imperfect whispers 
and mutterings in your souls concerning your interest in Christ. Do 
as Abraham did : upon a call he forsook his country ; though he were 
childless, he believed the promise of a numerous issue ; when God 
tempted him, he offered Isaac. When God trieth your faith or 
obedience with some difficulty, then is the special time to gain assur 
ance by being found faithful. 

Obs. 2. Believers are God's friends. This was not Abraham's title 
alone, but the title of all the righteous. Thus Christ saith, John xi. 11, 
' Our friend Lazarus sleepeth/ And more expressly, John xv. 15, 
' Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends/ Now they are 
friends to God (1.) Because they are perfectly reconciled to him in 
Christ : we were enemies by nature ; but God would not only pardon 
us, but receive us into friendship, Col. i. 21. Absalom was pardoned, 
but he ' could not see the king's face/ In other breaches, when the 
wound is healed, the scar remaineth ; but now we are not only restored, 
and brought into an estate of amity, but advanced to higher principles. 
God doth not only spare converts, but delight in them. Periissemus 
nisi periissemus we had been lost if we had not been lost ; the fall 
made way for the more glorious restoration ; as a broken bone, when 
it is well set, is strongest in the crack. (2.) All dispensations and 
duties that pass between them are passed in a friendly way : As (1st.) 


Communication of goods. Plutarch's reasoning is good : Ta rwv $i\wv 
Trdvra /coiva, friends have all things in common ; but God is our friend, 
and therefore we cannot want a rare speech from a heathen. In the 
covenanted is ours, and we are his, Jer. xxxi. 33, and xxxii. 38, 39 ; 
Zech. xiii. 9. He maketh over himself to us, quantus quantus est, as 
great as he is ; and so by an entire resignation we are given up to 
him. The covenant is like a conjugal contract, and may be illustrated 
by that of the prophet, Hosea iii. 3, ' Thou shalt be for me, and I will 
be for thee.' God maketh over himself and all his power and mercy 
to us, so that no dispensation cometh to us but in the way of a bless 
ing ; if it be so common a mercy as rain, ' the rain shall be a rain of 
blessing/ Ezek. xxxiv. 26 ; so we give up ourselves to God, even to 
the lowest interest and enjoyment : ' Upon the horse-bells there shall 
be written, Holiness to the Lord/ Zech. xiv. 20 ; all is consecrated. 
(2d.) Communication of secrets. So our Lord urgeth this relation : 
John xv. 15, ' Henceforth I call you not servants ; for the servant 
knoweth not what his lord doth : but I have called you friends ; for 
all things that I have heard I have made known to you.' Servants 
are only acquainted with what concerneth their duty and work ; * the 
master commandeth, but doth not tell them the reason of the com 
mand. But now Christ had dealt more socially and sweetly with the 
apostles ; he had opened all the secrets of the Father concerning his 
own resurrection, mission of the Holy Ghost, the calling of Gentiles, 
last judgment, eternal life, &c. And so shall you that lie in Christ's 
bosom know his secrets : Gen. xviii. 17, ' Shall I hide from Abraham 
the thing which I do ? ' He will acquaint you with everything that con 
cerneth your salvation and peace. So, on the other side, do believers 
open their secrets to God : Eph. iii. 12 ; Heb. x. 19, they ' come with 
boldness to the throne of grace;' the word is, pera Trap fro- las, with 
liberty of speech ; or, as it more strictly signifieth, liberty to speak all 
our mind. We may use some freedom with God, and acquaint him 
with all our griefs, and all our fears, and all our wants, and all our 
desires, as a friend would pour out his heart into the bosom of another 
friend ; as it is said, Exod. xxxiii. 11, ' The Lord spake to Moses face 
to face, as a man speaketh to his friend.' (3d.) Conformity and cor 
respondency of will and affections. True friendship is built upon 
likeness and consent of wills: 2 God and the soul willeth the same 
thing holiness as the means, and God's glory as the end : John xv. 
14, ' Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you ;' to do 
otherwise is but false, glavering affection. It is the commendation of 
Ephesus, Kev. ii. 6, ' Thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which 
I also hate.' No friendship like that where we love and hate the 
same things, to hate what God hateth, and love what God loveth. 
See Prov. viii. 13; so see Ps. cxxxix. 21. (4th.) By mutual delight 
and complacency ; they delight in God, and God in them : Isa. Ixii. 4, 
'The Lord delighteth in thee/ in their persons, their graces, their 
duties ; so do they delight in God, in their addresses to him, in his 
fellowship and presence , they cannot brook any strangeness and dis 
tance ; they cannot let a day pass, or a duty pass, without some 

1 * Servus herilis imperil non servus est sed minister.' Seneca. 

2 ' Eadem velle et nolle, ea demum firma est amicitia.' Sallust. 


communion and intercourse with God. It is said of the hypocrites, 
Job xxvii. 10, that ' they will not delight themselves in God.' Formal 
duties are a burden, '' What a weariness is it/ Mai. i. 13, though it 
were a sickly lamb. The prodigal thought it best to be out of the 
father's eye, best in a far country, Luke xv. ; but it is their delight to 
be with Christ ; his work is sweet to them, his statutes their songs, 
Ps. cxix. 54 ; duties come from them freely, as graces do from God ; 
he 'rejoiceth over them to do them good;' and they can say, every 
one of them, * How do I delight in thy law ! ' (5th.) By the special 
favour and respect God beareth them. Others have but common 
mercies, they saving ; they have ' hidden manna/ joys which others 
cannot conceive, Kev. ii. 17. Others are brought into the palace, Ps. 
xlv. 15, but they into the chambers of the great King, Cant. i. 4 ; they 
have closet mercies, a sweet fellowship with God in all their ways ; 
others have the letter, they the power ; others have the work of an 
ordinance, they the comfort : Cant. v. 1, ' Eat, friends/ &c. Well, 
then (1.) Here is comfort to the righteous, to those that have found 
any friend-like affection in themselves towards God, any care to please 
him. God is your friend ; you were enemies, but you are made near 
through Christ. God delighteth in your persons, in your prayers, in 
your graces, your outward welfare. It is a great honour to be the 
king's friend ; you are favourites of heaven ! Oh ! this is your com 
fort that delight in his presence, that walk in his ways as much as 
you can, though not as much as you should. (2.) Here is caution to 
you ; your sins go nearest to God's heart : ' It was my familiar friend/ 
Ps. Iv. 12. It was sad to Christ to be betrayed by his own disciples ; 
it is a like grief to his Spirit when his laws are made void by his own 
friends : 2 Sam. xvi. 17, ' Is this thy kindness to thy friend ? ' It was 
David's aggravation : Ps. xli. 9, ' Mine own familiar friend, in whom 
I trusted.' Unexpected injuries surprise us with the more grief. Oh 1 
walk carefully, watchfully ! 

Ver. 24. You see then how ~by tvorks a man is justified, and not by 
faith only. 

You see then. It is either a consectary out of the whole discourse, 
or out of the particular example of Abraham ; he alludeth to Paul's 
manner of reasoning : Kom. iii. 28, ' Therefore we conclude that a 
man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law ;' and probably 
this discourse is intended to correct the abuse of that doctrine. 

Hoiv by works ; that is, by the parts and offices of the holy life. 

A man is justified ; that is, acquitted from hypocrisy ; for he is 
said to be justified, in the phrase of our apostle, whose faith appeareth 
to be good and right, or who is found just and righteous ; as Christ is 
said to be ' manifested in the flesh, but justified in the Spirit/ 1 Tim. 
iii. 16 ; that is, approved to be God. 

And not by faith only. Not by a bare naked profession, or a dead 
vain faith, such as consisteth in a mere assent or empty speculation, 
which is so far from justifying that it is not properly faith. 

The main work in the discussion of this verse is to reconcile James 
with Paul. The conclusions seem directly opposite. See Kom. iii. 
28 ; Gal. ii. 16. Paul also bringeth the instance of Abraham against 
justification by works. Much ado there hath been to reconcile this 


seeming difference. Some upon this ground deny the authority of the 
epistle ; so Luther, and many of the Lutherans at first. Camerarius 1 
speaketh boldly and rashly, as if heat of contention had obtruded the 
apostle upon the contrary extreme and error ; but this is to cut the 
knot, not to untie it. The apostles, acted by the same Spirit of truth, 
could not deliver contrary assertions ; and though men usually out of 
the extreme hatred of one error embrace another, yet it cannot be 
imagined, without blasphemy, of those who were guided by an infallible 
assistance. They show more reverence to the scriptures who seek to 
reconcile both places than to deny the authority of one. Many ways 
are propounded ; I shall briefly examine them, that with good advice 
and evidence we may pitch upon the best. 

1. The Papists 2 say that Paul speaketh of the first justification, by 
which a man, if unjust, is made just ; and that by works he under- 
standeth works done without faith and grace, by the sole power and 
force of free-will. But James speaketh of the second justification, 
whereby of just he is made more just ; and by works he imderstandeth 
such as are performed in faith, and by the help of divine grace. To 
this I answer (1.) That it confoundeth justification with sanctifica- 
tion. (2.) That the distinction is false, and hath no ground in scrip 
ture. We can merit nothing after we are in a good estate, and are 
saved by grace all our lives : Kom. i. 17, ' the righteousness of God is 
revealed from faith to faith, for the just shall live by faith.' If the 
righteousness whereby a sinner is justified be wholly absolved by faith, 
there is no place for works at all. But the apostle saith, throughout 
the whole life it is revealed from faith to faith ; besides, the apostle 
Paul excludeth all works, even those done by grace. It is true, this 
error is less than that of the Pelagians, who said that by natural abili 
ties the law might be kept to justification. However, it is not enough 
to ascribe justificatory works to the grace of God. So did the Pha 
risee: Luke xviii. 11, 12, * God, I thank thee/ not myself. Yet he 
went not away justified. It is ill to associate nature with grace, and 
to make man a coadjutor in that in which God will have the sole 
glory. (3.) It is little less than blasphemy to say, We are more just 
by our own works than by the merits of Christ received by faith ; 3 for 
to that justification, whereby a man is made more just, they admit 
works. (4.) The phrase of being more just suiteth not with the scope 
of the apostle, who doth not show how our righteousness is increased, 
but who hath an interest in it. Neither will the adversaries grant 
that those against whom the apostle disputeth had a first and real 
righteousness ; and beside, it is contradicted by the example of Kahab, 
who, according to their explication, cannot be said to be justified in 
their second way of justification, and yet in our apostle's sense she is 

1 ' Contentions studium quoddam irritatum ab importunis ostentatoribus doctrinse fidei, 
longius hujus epistolae auctorem quasi extulisse videri possit, nam hoc in certaminibus 
semper fieri consuevit.' Camerar. in hanc Epist. 

2 ' Paulus loquitur de prima justificatione, et nomine operum intelligit opera qua) fiunt 
sine fide et gratia, solis viribus liberi arbitrii. Jacobus autem de secunda justincatione,' 
&c. Bellarm. de Verbo Dei, lib. i. cap. 13, sec. 12. 

3 ' Contumeliosum est in sanctum meritum Christi, asserere secundam justificationem, 
quse in nostris operibus consistit, majorem et auctiorem et digniorem esse apud Deum 
quain primam, quse solo merito Christi nititur, et quidem noil primam sed secundam 
justificationem inereri vitam seternam.' Chemnitius, Exam. Condi. Trident., p. 153. 


justified by works ; and therefore the Popish gloss will not remove 
the seeming contrariety between the apostles. 

2. The Arminians and Socinians go another way to work ; and that 
they may deceive with the fairer pretence, seem to ascribe all to grace, 
and to condemn the merit of all sorts of works, because poor, weak, 
and imperfect ; but they make new obedience the instrument of justi 
fication, and say that the free grace of God is only seen in the accepta 
tion of our imperfect obedience. So doth Socinus 1 and others. 2 And 
the way of reconciliation which they propose between the apostles is 
this : Paulus cum negat nos ex operibus justificari, nomine operum per- 
fectam per totam vitam legis divince observationem intelligit, nee aiiud 
quidquam dicer e vult, nisi nos ex merito ipsorum operum nequaquam 
justificari coram Deo, non autem ad nos coram ipso justificandos nulla 
opera nostra requiri ; sunt enim opera, id est obedientia quam Cliristo 
prwstamus, licet nee efficients, nee meritoria, tamen causa sine qua non 
justificationis coram Deo atque ceterna} salutis. That Paul, when he 
denieth justification by works, understandeth by works perfect obe 
dience, such as the law required; and James only new obedience, 
which is the condition, without which we are not justified. So Socinus, 
2 Synops. Justif., p. 17, and herein he is generally followed by the men 
of his own school. 3 But to this I reply (1.) That the apostle Paul 
doth not only exclude the exact obedience of the law, but the sincere 
obedience of the gospel, all kind of works from the business of justifica 
tion, as appeareth by the frequent disjunction or opposition of faith and 
works throughout the scriptures. Take these for a taste: Eph. ii. 8, 9, 
' By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves ; it 
is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.' So 
Kom. xi. 6, ' If by grace, then it is no more of works ; otherwise grace 
is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace ; 
otherwise work is no more work/ The two ways of grace and works 
are incompatible. A mixed and patched way of works and grace 
together will never be accepted of God. The new cloth sewed on upon 
the old confidence makes the rent the worser. It was the error of those 
against whom Paul dealeth in his epistles to rest half upon Christ 
and half upon works ; and therefore is he so zealous everywhere in 
this dispute : Gal. v. 4, ' Christ is become of none effect unto you, 
whosoever are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.' For 
they did go about to mix both the covenants, and so wholly destroyed 
their own interest in that of grace. (2.) It is a matter of dan 
gerous consequence to set up works, under what pretence soever, as 
the matter or condition of our justification before God. It robbeth 
God of his glory, and weakeneth the comfort of the creature. God's 
glory suffereth, because, as far as we ascribe to ourselves, so much do 
we take off from God. Now when we make our own obedience the 

1 Socin. Fragm. de Juatificat., p. 9. 

2 Confess. Armin., cap. 18, sec. 3. Dr Hammond, Cat., p. 47, the first edition. 

3 * Paulus ea a fide opera removet quse perpetuurn perf ectissimumque per omnem vitae 
cursum obedientiam continent. Jacobus vero ea intelligit opera quse homines spe prse- 
miorum divinorum ducti ex animo, omnibusque viribus perficiunt, quamvis omni pro- 
lapsione nequaquam careant, habitus tamen vitiorum quidem omnium exuisse, omnium 
autem virtutum sibi comparasse, merito dici possint.' Volkd. lib. de Vera Religione, cap. 
3, p. 180. 


matter or condition of our righteousness, we glory in ourselves, con 
trary to that, Kom. iv. 2, 3, and detract from free grace, by which alone 
we are justified, Rom. iii. 24, and the creature suffereth loss of com 
fort when his righteousness before God is built upon so frail a founda 
tion as his own obedience. The examples of the children of God, 
who were always at a loss in themselves, show how dangerous it is to 
stand upon our own bottom. Take a few places : Job ix. 2, 3, ' How 
shall a man be just with God ? If he will contend with him, he can 
not answer him one of a thousand.' So ver. 20, 'If I justify myself, 
my own mouth shall condemn me. If I say, I am perfect ; it shall 
also prove me perverse.' So ver. 30, 31, 'If I wash myself with 
snow water, and make my hands never so clean, yet thou shalt 
plunge me in a ditch ; my own clothes shall abhor me.' So also 
David showeth that he was never able to enter upon this plea, to jus 
tify himself by his own obedience, Ps. cxliii. 3, and cxxx. 3. And in 
the New Testament abundantly do the saints disown their obedience 
and righteousness, as not daring to trust it, yea, their new obedience 
upon gospel terms : 1 Cor. iv. 4, ' I know nothing by myself, yet am 
I not hereby justified.' He did what he was able, was conscious to 
himself of no crime and unfaithfulness in his ministry and dispensation, 
yet all this will not justify. So Phil. iii. 9, ' Oh ! that I might be found 
in him, not having my own righteousness/ &c. He durst not trust the 
inquiry and search of justice with any act or holiness of his own. 

Briefly to clear this point more fully, let me lay down a few propositions. 

(1.) Whosoever would be accepted with God must be righteous: 
Hab. i. 13, ' Thou art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.' God 
cannot give a sinner, as a sinner, a good look. (2.) Every righteousness 
will not serve the turn : it must be such as will endure the pure eyes 
of his glory. Hence those phrases, ' justified in thy sight/ Ps. cxliii. 2 ; 
Eom. iii. 20 ; and ' glorying before God/ Born. iv. 2 ; so Gal. iii. 11 , &c. 
(3.) Such a righteousness can be found in no man. Our obedience 
is a covering that is too short : Job xv. 14, ' What is man, that he 
should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should 
be righteous ? ' So 1 Sam. vi. 20, ' Who can stand before this holy 
God ? ' The least defect leaveth us to the challenge of the law and 
the plea of justice. (4.) This righteousness is only to be had in 
Christ ; there is no other name given under him ; l there indeed it is to 
be found ; therefore he is called, ' The Lord our righteousness/ Jer. 
xxiii. 6, and he is ' made to us righteousness/ 1 Cor. i. 30. Therefore 
we are bidden ' to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness/ Mat. 
vi. 33. We must seek God's righteousness if we would enter into God's 
kingdom. (5.) This righteousness is made ours by faith : ours it 
must be, as in the first proposition, and ours it is only by faith : Rom. 
i. 17, ' The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.' 
From first to last the benefit of Christ's righteousness is received by 
faith ; it is the fittest and most self-denying grace ; it is the grace 
that beginneth our union with Christ ; and when we are made one 
with Christ, we are possessed of his righteousness and merit, as our 
right, for our comfort and use. So see Rom. iii. 22, and Phil. iii. 9, 
where the righteousness of God by faith is opposed to 'our own righteous- 

1 Qu. ' heaven ' ? ED. 


ness, which is of the law ; ' which intimateth to us that this righteous 
ness is of God, and that it is made ours by faith. (6.) Those that 
receive the righteousness of Christ are also sanctified by him. New 
obedience is an inseparable companion of justification: 1 Cor. i. 30, 
'righteousness and sanctification ;' by virtue of the union we have 
both : 2 Cor. v. 17, ' Whosoever is in Christ is a new creature.' So 
that obedience is not the condition of justification, but the evidence ; 
not the condition and qualification of the new covenant, so much as of 
the covenanters. Faith justifieth, and obedience approveth : l it must 
be in the same subject, though it hath not a voice in the same court. 

3. The orthodox, though they differ somewhat in words and 
phrases, yet they agree in the same common sense, in reconciling 
James and Paul. Thus, while some say Paul disputeth of the cause 
of justification, and so excludeth works ; James, of the effects of justi- 
cation, and so enforceth a presence of them ; and others say Paul 
disputeth how we are justified, and James how we shall evidence our 
selves to be justified ; the one taketh justification for acquittance from 
sin, the other for acquittance from hypocrisy ; the one for the imputa 
tion of righteousness, the other for the declaration of righteousness. 
Or as others, Paul speaketh of the office of faith, James of the quality 
of faith ; Paul pleadeth for saving faith, James pleadeth against naked 
assent ; the one speaketh of the justifying of the person, the other of the 
faith, &c. All these answers are to the same effect, either subordinate 
to one another or differing only in expression, and do very well suit with 
the scope of the apostle. You shall see everywhere he seeketh to 
disvalue and put a disgrace upon that faith he speaketh of ; he calleth 
it a vain dead faith, a faith which is alone, &c. And when he fixeth 
the scope of the disputation, he saith, ' Show me thy faith by thy 
works / where he plainly discovereth what was the matter in contro 
versy, to wit, the evidencing of their faith. And it is notable, that 
when he beginneth to argue, the proposition which he layeth down is 
this, that a bare profession of faith without works will not save. It is 
true, it is delivered by way of question, ver. 14, ' What will it profit, 
my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, and hath not works ? Will 
faith save him?' Or, as it is in the original, will 77 Tr/crrt?, will that 
faith save him ? Now such questions are the strongest way of denial, for 
they are an appeal to the conscience ; and you shall see that the conclu 
sion is this always, that faith which is alone and without works, is dead ; 
which plainly showeth what was the TO fyrovpevov, or the thing in ques 
tion, to wit, the unjustifiableness of that faith which is without works. 

Out of the whole discourse you may observe : 

Obs. 1. That in the scriptures there is sometimes a seeming differ 
ence, but no real contrariety. The TO evavriofaves, the seeming differ 
ence, is ordered with good advice. God would prevent misprisions 
and errors on every side ; and the expressions of scripture are ordered 
so that one may relieve another. 2 As, for instance, some hold that 
Christ had only an imaginary body, and was man but in appearance ; 
therefore, to show the reality of his human nature, you have that 

1 See Mr Ball of the Covenant, p. 20. 

' Alterius sic 
Altcra poscit opem res, et con jurat amice.* 


expression, John i. 14, ' The word was made flesh.' Others, straining 
that expression, held a change of the Godhead into the humanity; 
to correct which excess we have another expression, 1 Tim. iii. 16, 
' God manifested in the flesh/ To a Valentinian, urging that place 
in Timothy for Christ's fantastic and imaginary body, we may 
oppose that in John, 'The word was made flesh ;' to a Cerinthian, 
pleading for a change of the Godhead, we may oppose that in Paul, 
' God manifested,' &c. So in some places we are bid 'to work out our 
salvation,' Phil. ii. 12, 13 ; and the whole business of salvation is 
charged upon us, to check laziness. In other places the will and deed 
is altogether ascribed to God, to prevent self-confidence. Thus Paul, 
having to deal with pharisaical justiciaries, proveth invincibly justifi 
cation by faith without works ; James, having to deal with carnal 
gospellers, proveth as strongly that a profession of faith without 
works is vain. The scripture hath so poised and contempered all 
doctrines and expressions, that it might wisely prevent human mis 
takes and errors on every hand, and sentences might not be violently 
urged apart, but measured by the proportion of faith. 

Obs. 2. That a bare profession of faith is not enough to acquit us 
from hypocrisy. Christ would not own them that professed his name 
but wrought iniquity, Mat. vii. 21, 22; so also the church should not 
own men for their bare profession. In these times we look more at 
gifts and abilities of speech than good works, and empty prattle 
weigheth more than real charity. 

Ver. 25. Likewise also was not JRaluib the harlot justified by works, 
ivhen she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another 
loay ? 

Here he bringeth another instance. But why doth he mention 
Eahab? (1.) Because this act of hers is made an effect of faith: 
Heb. xi. 31, ' By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that 
believed not, when she had received the spies in peace/ It was indeed 
a great act of faith for one that had lived among heathens to be per 
suaded of the power of the God of Israel, of the right they had to that 
land ; which faith was wrought in her by divine instinct, upon the 
report which was made of God and his works. (2.) Because this 
instance doth well to be annexed to the former. They might object 
that every one could not go as high as Abraham, the great idea and 
pattern of all believers ; ay ! but the lowest faith must produce works 
as well as the highest ; and therefore he bringeth Rahab for an in 
stance of the weakest faith. (1st.) For her person; she was a woman, 
a harlot, a heathen, when God wrought upon her; there being so 
many disadvantages, it is to be presumed this was as low an instance 
as can be brought. (2d.) For the act itself, it was accompanied with 
weakness, with a lie, which indeed is suppressed, or not mentioned, 
lest it should deface the glory of her faith. (3d.) Because there 
might be some doubt of this instance. They might object that bare 
profession was accounted faith in Rahab, and she a harlot. He 
replieth that in Rahab the doctrine might be made good ; for her 
faith, how weak soever, yielded some self-denying act or fruit. 

But you will say, How is this pertinent to the purpose, to prove 
that pretence or profession of faith without works is not enough to 


acquit us of hypocrisy ? I answer You must conceive it thus : If 
she had only said unto these messengers, I believe the God of heaven 
and earth hath given you this whole land for a possession, yet I 
dare not show you any kindness in this city, it had been but such a 
dead barren faith as he here treateth of ; but this belief prevailed so 
far with her, that she performed a grateful office to them, though she 
incurred present danger, and the tortures which the rage of her 
citizens would inflict upon her for harbouring spies. I come now to 
the words. 

Likeivise also. It hath relation to the former instance of Abraham. 

Was not Ealiab the harlot. Lyranus thinks that the word 
hazzonah, for harlot, was her proper name ; others think it only signi- 
fieth that she was a hostess or victualler ; so the Chaldee paraphrase 
rendereth it a woman that kept a tavern, N/VpYl^E) NDJn jvval/ca 
TravSoicevTpiav ; the Chaldee word being formed out of the Greek, 
they derive the original zonah from zun, which signifieth to feed, 
though others derive it from zanah, he played the adulterer; and they 
think it altogether improbable for a prince of Judah to marry a com 
mon harlot. But the article 77 Tropvr], that harlot, so commonly used 
in scripture, and because this is still repeated as a noted circumstance, 
and the Syriac hath a word that properly and only signifieth harlot, 
seem to infer that she was indeed a woman of a vicious and infamous 
life , and it is but folly to excuse that which God would have made 
known for his own glory. Probably she might be both a hostess and 
a harlot too, as many times such are of an evil fame. She lived from 
her parents ; no mention is made of husband and children : if her pre 
tence had not been to keep a place of entertainment, it is not likely 
that the spies would turn into an open brothel-house, unless ignorant 
of it, or by divine providence guided thither. 

Justified by works ; that is, approved to be sincere, and honoured 
by God before all the congregation ; there being a special charge to save 
her and her household when all her countrymen were slain, and she 
being after joined in marriage with a prince of Israel. 

When she had received the messengers, and sent them out another 
way. The story is in the 2d of Joshua. But is not this act question 
able ? Is it not treachery ? Did she not sin against that love and 
faithfulness that she owed to her country ? Abulensis thinketh she 
had not sinned if she had betrayed the messengers ; but vainly, and 
against the direct testimony of scripture : she sinned not, because she 
had a warrant and particular revelation from God that the land of 
Canaan, and so her town, was given to the Israelites, Josh. ii. 9-11, 
&c. And being gained to the faith, she was to leave her Gentile 
relation, and to be amassed into one body with the people of Israel, 
and so bound to promote their interest, as Calvin well observeth. 1 But 
you will say, If there be no sin, wherein lieth the excellency of the 
action? what is it more than civility, or necessary prudence and 
caution, she being thus persuaded ? I answer (1.) There was much 

1 ' Sola cognitio Dei, quam Deus animo ejus indidit, earn eximit a culpa, tanquain 
solutam communi lege, quamvis ad eum usque diem obstricta f uisset suis popularibus ; 
ubi tamen co-optata fuisset in corpus Ecclesise, nova conditio manumissio fuit a jure 
societatis, quo jure devinciuntur cives.' Calvin in Joshuam, ii. 4. 


faith in it, in believing what she had heard of God in the wilderness 
and the desert places of Arabia, and magnifying his power and ability 
to destroy them. Though the people of her city were in great 
strength and prosperity, they thought themselves safe within their 
walls, and were not sensible of their sins and ensuing dangers ; and 
besides, God having revealed it to her by some special instinct, she 
was confident of future success : Josh. ii. 11, ' The Lord your God 
is God in heaven above and the earth beneath : I know the Lord 
hath given you the land/ And so, as Origen observeth, 1 she acknow- 
ledgeth what is past, believeth what is present, and foretelleth what is 
to come. (2.) There was obedience in it ; for whatever she did here 
in, she did it out of a reverence and dread of God, whom she knew to 
be the author of this war ; and though there was some weakness in 
the action, yet for the main of it, it was a duty. (3.) There was self- 
denial in it ; it was an action that might have been of a very dangerous 
consequence to her; but to manifest her fidelity to God she over- 
looketh the threats and cruelties of her citizens, 2 the promiscuous 
events of war, the burning of her country, which she would never 
have done, if she had thought a profession of confidence enough. 

The points observable in this verse are many. I shall dispatch 
them briefly. 

Obs. 1. Many times God may choose the worst of sinners. Faith 
in a harlot is acceptable : ' The last shall be first ; ' that is, those that 
set out late for heaven do often make more way than an early profes 
sor. No women are reckoned in the genealogy of Christ but such as 
were stained with some infamy ; idolatrous women, adulterous 
women, in Christ's own line, such as Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, 
Tamar. Chrysostom 3 giveth the reason, &>? iarpos, ov% o>? St/cao-r?)? 
Trapayeyovev, he came to save sinners, and therefore would be known 
to come of sinners according to the flesh. Manasses was received 
after witchcraft, Paul after blasphemy, 1 Tim. i. '13; and all as 
precedents in which God would show forth mercy and long-suffering ; 
as Rahab here. So you shall see it is said, Mat. xxi. 31, 'Publicans 
and harlots go into the kingdom of God.' The most odious and de 
spised sinners, when they turn to God by repentance, find grace and 
place in Christ's heart. 

Obs. 2. The meanest faith must justify itself by works and gracious 
effects. Rahab, a Gentile convert, doth not only profess, but preserve 
the spies. Let not hypocrites plead every one is not like Abraham. 
Are you like Rahab ? Can you produce any evidence of your faith ? 
The lowest degree will show itself by some effect or other. Christ in 
the garden taketh notice of the ' green figs,' Cant. ii. 13. The smallest 
faith, though it be but like a grain of mustard-seed, will have some 

Obs. 3. Believers, though they justify their profession, are still 

1 ' Ilia quse aliquando erat meretrix, jam Spiritu. Sancto repleta est, et de prseteritis 
quidem confitetur, de presentibus vero credit, prophetat et prsenunciat de futuris.' 
Origen. Horn. 3, in Josuam. 

2 ' Non minse civium, non bellorum pericula, non incendia patriae, non suorum pericula 
terrent : disce, vir, disce, Christiane, quomodo veruin Jesum sequi debeas, quando f semina 
contempsit omnia sua.' Ambrose in Enarrat. Ps. xxxvii. 

3 Chrysostom. Homil. 3, in Matt. 


monuments of free grace. It is ' Rahab, the harlot,' though justified 
by works. The scars and marks of old sins remain, not to our dis 
honour, but God's glory. 

Obs. 4. Ordinary acts are gracious when they flow from faith and 
are done in obedience ; as Kahab's receiving the messengers : enter 
tainment in such a case is not civility, but religion : Mat. x. 42, ' A 
cup of cold water in the name of a prophet ' is not courtesy, but duty, 
and shall not lose its reward. Heb. xi., many civil and secular acts 
are ascribed to faith, as fighting of battles, saving of children, &c., 
because by faith directed to spiritual ends, and performed by super 
natural strength. A carnal man performeth his religious duties 
for civil ends, and a godly man his civil duties for religious ends, and 
in offices natural and human he is spiritual. Certainly there is no 
chemistry like to that of grace ; there brass is turned into gold, and 
actions of commerce made worship. A Christian is always doing his 
great work, whether in the shop or in the closet, obeying God and 
glorifying God in his respects to men. 

Obs. 5. The great trial of faith is in acts of self-denial. Such was 
Kahab's, to prefer the will of God before the safety of her own country ; 
and such was Abraham's in the former instance. Self-denial -is the 
first thing that must be resolved upon in Christianity, Mat. xvi. 24. 
A man is not discovered when God's way and his own lie together. 
Your great inquiry should be, Wherein have I denied myself for 
God ? thwarted any lust ? hazarded any concernment ? No trial 
like that when we can part with some conveniency in sense, upon the 
proper and sole encouragements of faith. 

Obs. 6. The actions and duties of God's children are usually blem 
ished with some notable defect ; as Rahab's entertainment with 
Rahab's lie. ' Moses smote the rock twice/ Num. xx. 11 ; there was 
anger mixed with faith. Abraham offered Isaac, but equivocated 
with his servants : ' I and the lad will re turn,' Gen. xxii. 5 ; and yet he 
meant with a mind to sacrifice him. Thus we still plough with an 
ox and an ass in the best duties, and discover corruption in the very 
trials of grace. 

Obs. 7. God hideth his eyes from the evil that is in our good 
actions. Here is mention made of receiving the messengers, but no 
mention of the lie. He that drew Alexander, whilst he had a scar 
upon his face, drew him with his finger upon the scar. God putteth 
the finger of mercy upon our scars. See James v. 11, ' Ye have heard 
of the patience of Job ; ' we have heard of his impatience, his cursing 
the day of his birth, &c., but no murmurings are mentioned. How 
unlike are wicked men to the Lord I they only pitch upon the evil 
and weaknesses of his people, and overlook the good ; like flesh-flies, that 
pitch upon the sores, or vultures, that fly over the gardens of delight, 
and light upon a carrion : one blemish shall be enough to stain all 
their glory. But the Lord pardoneth much weakness where he findeth 
anything of grace and sincerity. It is said, 1 Peter iii. 6, ' Even as 
Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.' The place alluded to is 
Gen. xviii. 12. Sarah's whole sentence is full of unbelief: ' Shall I 
have pleasure, my lord also being old ? ' There was but one good 
word, that of lord, the note of respect and reverence to her husband, 


and that the Spirit of God takes notice of. Certainly it is good serv 
ing of that master, who is so ready to reward the good of our actions, 
and to pardon the evil of them. 

Ver. 26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without 
works is dead also. 

Here the apostle concludeth the whole dispute, showing how little 
is to be ascribed to an empty profession of faith without works ; it is 
but as the body without the vital spirit a carcase, useless but 
noisome. There needeth not much illustration of this verse, the 
matter of it being already discussed in ver. 17 and 20. 

For as the body without the spirit. There is some difference about 
the meaning of the word Tr^euynaro? ; we read in the margin, breath ; 
in the text, spirit. Many prefer the marginal reading, because it is 
not ^v%}9, as the body without the soul, but as the body without the 
spirit or breath. Of this opinion is Cajetan, whose words are notable, 
because they fully accord with the Protestant doctrine. ' By spirit/ 
saith he, ' is not meant the soul, but the breath : for as the body of a 
beast when it doth not breathe is dead, so is faith without works 
dead, breathing being the effect of life, as working is of living faith. 
Whence it is clear what the apostle meaneth, 1 when he saith, faith is 
dead without works, not that works are the soul of faith, but that 
works are the companions of faith, as breathing is inseparable from 
life.' By which exposition their doctrine that charity is the soul of 
faith, and their distinction of inform and formed faith, fall to the 
ground. But, however, I rather think that irvev^aTo^ in the text is 
not to be translated breath, but spirit or soul, that substance which 
quickeneth and animateth the body, which is elsewhere expressed by 
this word ; as in those noted places, Luke xxiii. 46, ' Into thy hands 
do I commit my spirit ; ' and Acts vii. 59, ' Lord Jesus, receive my 
spirit/ And that respiration which is the effect of life is expressed 
by other words, TTVOTJ and avairvori ; as Acts xvii. 25, he giveth 
%wr)v KOL nTvoT)v teal ra Trdvra, ' he giveth life, and breath, and all 
things.' The meaning is, then, as a body without a soul, so is faith 
without works. And yet hence it will not follow that charity or the 
works are the soul of faith, for the comparison doth not hold in regard 
of animation and information, but in regard of operation. As in the 
body without soul there are only the outward proportions and linea 
ments, but nothing to discover life ; so in empty profession there 
are some lineaments of faith, but no fruits to discover the truth and 
life of it, it differing as much from faith as a carcase doth from a man. 

Is dead ; that is, cannot perform the functions and offices of life, 
or of a man. 

So faith without works. The Papists understand true justifying 
faith, for they suppose it may be without works; but dead faith 
cannot be true faith, as a carcase is not a true man, and a true faith 
cannot be without works, Gal. v. 6. We must understand, then, an 
external profession of belief, which, because of some resemblance 
with what is true, is called faith. 

1 ' Unde apparet quo sensu dicit, fidem sine operibus mortuam esse, non quod sentiat 
opera esse formam fidei, sed quod sentit opera ease concomitantia fidei, sic at halitus 
concomitatur vitam corporis.' Cajetan in locum. 


Is dead; that is, false or useless to all the ends and purposes of 

For practical notes see ver. 17, 20 ; only observe : 
Obs. That naked profession, in respect of true faith, is hut as a dead 
body and carcase. It is so in two respects : (1.) It is noisome as a rotten 
carcase. A carnal Christian is the carcase of a true Christian ; there 
are the lineaments with corruption. An impure life veiled under 
profession is as noisome to God as a dead body is to you. When 
carnal professors draw nigh to Christ, he goeth further off, as you 
would from what offendeth : Mat. vii. 23, ' Depart from me, ye workers 
of iniquity ;' I cannot endure your presence. When they come to him 
in prayer, ' The prayer of the wicked is abomination ;' like the breath 
that cometh from rotten lungs. (2.) It is useless, as to all the purposes 
of faith 5 1 it cannot unite you to Christ, that you may possess your 
selves of his righteousness, or give you a feeling of his Spirit. In 
short, it bringeth no glory to God, yieldeth no comfort to him that 
hath it, and no benefit to others ; of no more use than a dead body 
when the spirits are gone. 


VER. 1. My brethren, ~be not many masters, knowing that we shall 
receive the greater condemnation. 

Here the apostle diverteth to another matter, reinforcing what he 
had said in the first chapter of the evil of the tongue ; however, this 
discourse is with good reason subjoined to the former. Those that 
vainly boast of their own faith are most apt to censure others ; and 
they that pretend to religion are wont to take the greatest liberty in 
rigid and bitter reflections upon the errors of their brethren. 

My brethren. The compellation, though familiar and usual to our 
apostle, hath here a special emphasis. (1.) Good men are many times 
surprised, and usurp too great a liberty over the failings of others. 
(2.) He would not deal too rigidly himself, and therefore tempereth 
his reproof with sweetness. (3.) The title carrieth the force of an 
argument ; brethren should not affect a mastership over each other. 

Be not many masters. What is the meaning ? The word master 
hath divers significations. Sometimes it is taken for an absoluteness 
of power and authority in the church : thus Christ alone is a master, 
Mat. xxiii. 10 ; his word is a law ; his will is authentic. Sometimes 
it is taken for a subordinate teaching and opening the counsels of 
God ; and those who do so by way of office are called ' masters in 
Israel,' John iii. 10 ; and so some take it in this place, and make the 
sense of the apostle's dissuasive to be, that every one should not easily 
or unlawfully invade the office of public teaching. And the reason, 
' knowing that we shall receive/ &c., they open thus : because God 
requireth more of them that are teachers than of others, and so by 
rash entering into the office they run the hazard of the greater 

1 ' OvStv Ktpdos vyiov* TrtVrews, TTJS TroXiretes Sie^tfa/a/i^j.' Chrysostom de Sacerdotio, 
lib. iv. 


judgment. But the context will not bear this sense, the bent and 
drift of it being against the ill use of the tongue ; and the reason 
annexed will not gratify it without much straining ; and the scripture 
saith, that for not reproving and warning we draw the greater 
judgment upon ourselves, rather than by teaching or reproving, 
Ezek. xxxiii. 6. Therefore this second sense is not proper ; neither 
can the first be applied, as master is taken for authenticness in the 
church, though Austin and Beda seem so to understand it, as if the 
apostle had dissuaded them from setting up themselves as masters 
and heads of factions, and broaching novel doctrines, that they might 
appear in the head of a train, or, in the scripture phrase, ' draw 
disciples after them.' But this is wholly alien and foreign to the 
apostle's scope. Master, then, is sometimes taken in the worst sense, 
KaTaxpTja-TLtcws, for a supercilious reprover, for one that is gotten into 
a chair of arrogance, whence he doth pro imperw, magisterially 
enough inveigh against the practices of other men ; and so it is taken 
here. And the apostle maketh choice of this expression, 'be not 
many masters' (1.) To show he doth not speak of public and 
authorised reproof. God hath set some in the church that are to be 
censores morum, masters of manners, as the teacher and ecclesiastical 
magistrate ; but because God hath allowed a few, let not every one 
be a master, or turn censurer : ' Be not many ; ' we are all apt, but 
this itch must be killed. (2.) To show that he doth not forbid private 
brotherly admonitions, such as proceed from Christian care and love, 
but such a reproving as was supercilious and masterly, managed with 
as much sharpness and rigour as a man would use to his slave, or a 
master to a scholar of the lowest class and standing. And so some 
understand that TroXXol StSaovcaXot, be not much masters, as if TroXXol 
were taken for TTO\V, many for much. 

Knowing that we shatl receive the greater condemnation. This is 
the first reason the apostle produceth against the pride of censuring, 
which is grounded upon a consideration of the danger of the sin, or 
the severity of judgment following it ; pelfyv Kplfia, ' a greater 
judgment,' either from men. Censurers have their own measure 
usually return edinto their bosoms, Mat. vii. 1, 2. Or from God. 
Who can expect pardon for him that is severe to others ? Mat. xviii. 
32, 33. I chiefly understand judgment and condemnation from God, 
which is the more severe to censurers, upon a threefold ground : 
(1.) The justice of retaliation. We condemn others, and God con- 
demneth us ; we are severe to their failings, and how can we expect 
that God should be merciful to ours ? (2.) Because God is the avenger 
of injuries, Kom. xii. 19, and among them, blasting the repute of 
others is the greatest. (3.) A censurer's sins are more aggravated, 
because of that garb of indignation that he seemeth to put on against 
them : see Kom. ii. 1. In censuring others we do but pronounce our 
own doom and judgment, which the scripture manifestly representeth 
to us in those known instances of David, 2 Sam. xii., and Ahab, 
1 Kings xx. 39, &c. 

06s. 1. The best need dissuasives from proud censuring. The 
apostle saith, ' My brethren, be not many masters ; ' and afterwards he 
putteth himself in the number, ' If we,' &c. It is the natural disease 


of wit, a pleasing evil : it suiteth with pride and self-love, and feedeth 
conceit. Proud nature thinketh itself somebody, when it can get into 
a chair of arrogance, and cast out censures according to its own will 
and pleasure, as if God hath advanced us into some higher rank and 
sphere, and all the world had been made to be our scholars. It suiteth 
with self-love, because it diverteth the care of our souls ; they that so 
narrowly look after the mote, forget the beam. And it strengtheneth 
self-conceit ; so many evils in others make our own the less odious. It 
serveth vainglory, and provideth for our esteem abroad ; we demolish 
the esteem of others, that out of the ruins of it we may raise a struc 
ture of praise to ourselves. Now all these evils are in the best of 
God's children. ' Pride of life ' is last mentioned, 1 John ii. 16, because 
it is last mortified ; it groweth with the decrease of other sins, and 
thriveth by their decay. Well, then, * suffer the words of exhorta 
tion,' Heb. xiii. 22. Some religious persons think such dissuasives as 
to them are either superfluous or injurious , this touchiness argueth 
guilt : no evil is more natural, no evil desireth less to be touched ; 
insensibly it stealeth from our hearts into our tongues. We sin, and do 
not think of censuring ; pride, being crossed, rageth : hear such matters 
patiently ; James speaketh to the brethren, ' Be not many masters.' 

Obs. 2. Censuring ; it is an arrogation of mastership over others. 
All teaching, especially reproof, is an act of power, and therefore the 
apostle forbiddeth it to women, 1 Cor. xiv. 34, because they cannot 
have power over a man. Well, then, when you are about to censure, 
check it with this thought What power hath God given me over my 
fallen brother ? * Why should I judge another man's servant ? to his 
own master he standeth or falleth,' Horn. xiv. 4. It is a wrong to God 
to put myself in his room ; it is a wrong to my neighbour to arrogate a 
power over him which God never gave me. We all stand upon the 
same level ; needless and unprofitable censuring is but a bold usurpa 
tion ; and besides the idleness of the words, we shall give an account 
for the sauciness of them. 

Obs. 3. Christians should not affect this mastership over their 
brethren. You may admonish, reprove, warn, but it should not be in 
a masterly way. How is that ? (1.) When we do it out of pride and 
self-conceit, as conceiving yourselves more just, holy, wise, &c. : Luke 
xviii., ' I am not as other men ; ' l he speaketh indefinitely. With 
praise a Christian may say he is not as some men; some are as 
brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed ; and with thankfulness 
we may acknowledge that God hath not suffered us to run into the 
excess of their riot. The Pharisee speaketh as if he were above com 
mon weakness : Gal vi. 1, ' Kestore with meekness, considering your 
selves ; ' we are all involved in the same state of frailty. (2.) When 
we do it as vaunting over their infirmities and frailties, in a braving way, 
rather to shame than to restore them ; as Ham laughed at Noah's 
drunkenness : this doth not argue hatred of the sin, but envy, malice 
against the person. Paul's temper was truly Christian : Phil. iii. 17, 
' I have told you often, and now tell you weeping, they are enemies of 

1 * Non dicit, ut aliqul, modestise f uisset istud ; sunt enim aliqui profecto dsemones 
Immana specie larvati, universalem naturam sortitur indefinitus enunciandi modus.' Dr 
Hall, Serm. Synod. Dord. 


the cross of Christ/ A good man taketh no delight to rake in a dung 
hill, others' failings cannot serve his mirth and triumph : * My soul 
shall weep sore for your pride in secret places/ Jer. xiii. 17. Censures 
are full of passion, but Christian reproofs of compassion ; such a dif 
ference there is between reproving out of pride, and out of love and 
charity. (3.) When the censure is unmerciful, and we remit nothing 
of extreme rigour and severity ; yea, divest the action of those exten 
uating circumstances of which the matter is capable. The censure 
should be extended no further than what may be necessarily inferred 
from the fact ; jealousy collecteth more than is offered, but ' charity 
thinketh no evil/ 1 Cor. xiii. 5, ov 7wyl%erai rb KCLKQV ; it reasoneth 
no evil ; that is, doth not seek to make sins, but cover them ; as when 
an action is capable of two interpretations, it doth not fasten upon 
that which is evil, or interpret doubtful things in the worst sense, or 
conclude a sin from an inevident sign ; as Eli did from Hannah's fer 
vency conclude her drunkenness, 1 Sam. i. 14, 15 ; or if there be evil 
in it, it doth not by undue surmises make it worse ; as judge the heart 
by the fact, or by one or more single actions infer a habit or malignity 
in the offender ; or if that be visible, it doth not prejudge their future 
condition. Though charity be not blind, it looketh upon things as 
they are ; yet charity is not jealous to argue things into what they 
are not. It is against all law and right to be judge and accuser too, 
and to hunt out an offence, and then censure it. (4.) When we infringe 
Christian liberty, and condemn others for things merely indifferent, 
this is to master it indeed, and lay snares upon the conscience a wrong 
not so much to our brethren as to God's own law, which we judge as 
if it were an imperfect rule, James iv. 11. In habits and meats there 
is a great latitude ; and as long as rules of sobriety and modesty are 
not violated, we cannot censure, but must leave the heart to God. See 
Kom. xiv. per totum. (5.) When men do not consider what may stand 
with charity as well as what will agree with truth ; there may be 
censure where there is no slander. Many religious persons think they 
are safe if they can speak only of others what is true. But this is 
not all ; every evil must not be divulged, some must be covered with 
the cloak of love ; there may be malice in reporting the truth. An 
eager desire to spread a fault wanteth not sin : ' Keport, say they, and 
we will report it/ Jer. xx. 10. Nay, if there be no ill intent, such 
prattle will come under the charge of idle words, for which we are 
responsible. The apostle forbiddeth * whispering/ and ' meddling in 
others' matters ; ' at best it is but a wanton vanity. All that we do 
herein should be to promote some aim of love and charity, that the 
offender may be seasonably reproved ; or for some common good, that 
by the uncasing of a hypocrite others be not deceived and ensnared. 
(6.) When we do it to set off ourselves, and use them as a foil to give 
our worth the better lustre, and by the report of their scandals to climb 
up and commence into a better esteem. In the whole matter we are 
to be acted by love, and to aim at the Lord's glory. Well, then, look 
to yourselves in your reproofs, that they be not censures ; they are so 
when they are supercilious and magisterial, the issues of pride rather 
than love. Envy often goeth under the mask of zeal ; we had need be 
careful, especially in times of public difference. For remedies : (1.) 
VOL. iv. s 


Cherish a humble sense of your own vileness and frailty. Others fall 
sadly and foully ; but what are we ? l we were as bad, Titus iii. 2, 3 ; we 
may be worse, 1 Cor. x. 12. Bernard 2 telleth of a man that, hearing 
of a fallen brother, fell into a bitter weeping, crying out, He is fallen 
to-day, and I may to-morrow. (2.) Exchange a sin for a duty : 1 John 
v. 16, ' If any see his brother sin, let him pray.' This will be a holy 
art and means to spend your zeal with least danger and most profit. 

Obs. 4. From that knowing that we, dec. A remedy against vain cen 
sures is to consider ourselves, Gal. vi. 1 . How is it with us ? Gracious 
hearts are always looking inward ; they inquire most into themselves, 
are most severe against their own corruptions. (1.) Most inquisitive 
after their own sins. ' The fool's eyes are to the ends of the earth,' 
always abroad ; like the windows of the temple, broad outward, nar 
row inward ; curious to sift the lives of others, careless to reform his 
own. But with good men it is otherwise, they find deceit enough in 
their own hearts to take up their care and thoughts. (2.) Most severe 
against themselves. A good heart is ready to throw the first stone 
against itself, John viii. 4, 5 ; others can, with much heat, inveigh 
against other men's sins, and with a fond indulgence cherish their own. 
Hatred against the person doth but take advantage of the miscarriage 
to shroud itself from notice and censure ; and though they hate the 
traitor, yet they love the treason. 

Obs. 5. Kash and undue judging of others, when we are guilty our 
selves, maketh us liable to the greater judgment. The apostle pro- 
ceedeth upon that supposition. Sharp reprovers had need be exact, 
otherwise they draw a hard law upon themselves, and in judging 
others pronounce their own doom ; their sins are sins of knowledge, 
and the more knowledge the more stripes. Ignorants have this ad 
vantage, ut mitius ardeant, they have a cooler hell. Well, then, rest 
not in talking and prescribing burdens to others ; it is a cheap zeal ; 
but ' thinkest thou that thou shalt escape ? ' Kom. ii. 3, and ver. 21, 
' Thou which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself ? ' &c. There 
is little sincerity in that, as well as little self-denial ; and hypocrisy 
will render us liable to condemnation. Hell is the hypocrite's fee- 
simple, Mat. xxiv. 51. The phrase of 'receiving the greater judg 
ment ' is also applied to the Pharisees, Mat. xxiii. 14, because of their 
hypocrisy. So that those that reprove, whether out of office or charity, 
had need look to themselves ; their sins are sins against knowledge, 
and so have more of malice and hypocrisy in them, and therefore draw 
on the greater judgment. Lewd ministers could not but tremble in 
their hearts, if they were sensible of their work. God purified Isaiah 
before he sent him to reprove Israel, Isa. vi. 7. Your first work should 
begin at your own hearts, and then you will carry on the duty with 
more comfort and boldness. 

Ver. 2. For in many things ive offend all. If any man offend not 
in word, the same is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole 

He goeth on to dissuade from supercilious censures. In this verse 
he urgeth two arguments. The first is the common frailty incident 

1 ' Aut sumus, aut f uimus, aut possumus ease quod hie est.' 

2 ' Bernard, de Resurrect. Dom. 


to all men, which may be two ways urged : (1.) Wilt thou condemn 
them for that from which no men be exempted ? The excuse of 
weakness and failings is the unhappy privilege of all mortal men. Or 
(2.) Will you not show them that tenderness which you need your 
selves ? You may also fail ; ' we all of us offend in many things.' 
The next argument, the difficulty of not sinning by the tongue ; he 
that can do that, can do anything in Christianity. 

In many things we offend all. He saith we, including himself, 
though an apostle of great holiness. Eusebius x saith, he was for his 
virtue surnamed The Just. And indeed none is exempted, not the 
blessed Virgin, who is taxed in scripture for some slips, Luke ii. 49 ; 
John ii. 3, 4. For that question, whether God can, by the singular 
assistance of grace, keep any one in the animal and bodily life totally 
pure from sin, it is altogether curious, and of no use and profit ; God's 
pleasure being declared the other way. And to that other question, 
whether some very short or transient action of a renewed man, whether 
civil, moral, or natural, may not be without actual sin, I answer in 
these propositions : (1.) That in our deliberate actions, especially 
those which are moral, there is some mixture of sin. In this sense 
you may take that, Eccles. vii. 20, ' There is not a just man upon the 
earth that doeth good and sinneth not.' You may understand, that 
sinneth not in doing good ; for he doth not say simply, There is not 
a just man that sinneth not, but a just man that doeth good and, &c. 
And to this purpose is that saying of Luther, so much upbraided by 
the Papists, 2 that the best works of the regenerate are sins, if exam 
ined by God. And Gregory the Great 3 hath a saying of the same 
sound and sense, that man's merit is but sin, and his righteousness 
unrighteousness, if it should be called to a strict account. Yea, the 
prophet Isaiah before them both, that 'all our righteousness is as 
filthy rags/ Isa. Ixiv. 6. No work of ours is so pure but there is some 
taint and filth of sin cleaving to it, which, without a mediator, in the 
rigour of the law would be damnable. So that though the essence of 
the work be good and holy, yet because of the fleshly adherences, it 
cannot any way undergo the strictness of divine judgment ; man being 
in part holy, and in part carnal, the effect cannot exceed the force of 
the cause ; and as there is a mixture in the faculties and principles 
of operation, so there will be in the actions themselves, especially in 
actions religious, corrupt nature returning and recoiling with the more 
force against resolutions of duty. (2.) There may be, I conceive, an 
action so short that there is no room or scope for corruption to put 
forth itself; as in a sudden holy glance or thought, we may conceive 
a motion or lust of the spirit, or renewed nature in itself, and as pre 
ceding a lust of the flesh, or the opposition of the old nature, which, 
though it be not perfectly, yet is purely, holy. Besides, in some actions 
the force and vigour of corrupt nature may be wholly suspended by 
the power of God ; as it is in conversion, in which divines say we are 

1 Euseb. Eccl. Hist., lib. ii. cap. 1. 

2 ' Opus bonum optime factum mortals peccatum est' ; et paulo post, ' Omne opus justi 
damnabile est, et mortale peccatum, si judicio Dei judicetur.' Luther in Assert., arts. 
31, 32, 35, 36. 

3 ' Ornne virtutis nostrse meritum est vitium, et omnis humana justitia injustitia est 
si stricte judicetur.' Greg. Moral. 9, caps. 1, 14. 


wholly passive ; l and though God doth not take away the power of 
resisting, yet he bridleth it, and suspendeth it, that corruption cannot 
put forth itself, but lieth hid in its own root. Besides, in some 
actions, which are merely natural, as in walking a step or two, there- 
is not the least provocation to draw forth sin ; and therefore I cannot 
but justly condemn that unnecessary rigour in some, who say, that a 
renewed man in every action, whether moral, civil, or natural, be it 
but the walking of two or three steps, doth actually sin ; a fond nicety, 
which, under the colour of a deeper humility, destroyeth true humilia 
tion. We need not make man more guilty ; it is enough to humble 
us that ' in many things we offend all.' But the devil loveth to cheat 
men of true humility by that which is affected and strained ; and when 
fancy inventeth supposed crimes, conscience is the less troubled for 
those which are real ; curiosity being a kind of excuse for due remorse. 
(3.) Those actions are not acceptable with God for their own sakes 
partly because though they are pure, or free from sin, yet they are not 
perfect ; they might be more holy. And partly because they are done 
by a person that hath a corrupt nature, and is stained with the guilt 
of other actual sins, the least of which renders him obnoxious to the 
curse of the whole law, James ii. 10. So that these actions also need 
a mediator ; and, as the apostle saith, where we * know nothing by our 
selves, we are not thereby justified,' 1 Cor. iv. 4 ; or as it is, Job ix. 
3, * If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thou 
sand.' For one such innocent action, there are a thousand- stained 
and polluted. Another question may be, whether there be not some 
sins which in their own nature are so foul that a child of God can 
not fall into them ? I answer (1.) There are some gross corruptions 
which are very contrary to grace, /xtacryLtaro. rov Koapov, * corruptions 
of the world,' 2 Peter ii. 20, sins that stink in the nostrils of nature ; 
therefore the apostle saith, ' The lusts of the flesh are manifest,' Gal. 
v. 19, that is, to sense and reason ; as adultery, drunkenness, &c., which 
nature hath branded with marks of shame and contempt ; into these 
a child of God may fall, though rarely and very seldom. We have 
instances of Noah's drunkenness, Lot's incest, and David's adultery ; 
therefore may conclude, that the children of God do not only sin freely 
in thought, but sometimes foully in act ; however, not usually, not 
but upon special temptation : they are not ad pocula faciles, given to 
women, or to wine. The usual practice is a note of God's hatred : 
' A whore is a deep ditch, and he that is abhorred of the Lord shall 
fall therein/ Prov. xxii. 14. These sins, therefore, are not of usual in 
cidence, as wrath, and worldliness, and pride are. (2.) There are other 
sins which are extremely contrary to nature itself, as Sodom's bestiality, 
&c., into which a renewed man cannot fall ; partly for the great dis 
honour such a fact would reflect upon religion ; partly because it is a 
note of God's tradition, or giving up a man or woman to sin, Kom. i. 
26, 27. These things are so far from being practised by saints, that 
they are not to be named amongst them, Eph. v. 3. 

1 ' Deus in ipso regenerationis opere adeo potenter in voluntatem agit, ut actualiter 
resistendi potentia proxima pro illo tempore suspendatur ; emotam autem et in actu. 
primo positam resist endi potentiam non quidem funditus extirpat, sed in sua amara 
radice delitessere permittit.' Tkeol. Britan. in Synod. Dord., Art. de Conversione. 


// any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. Here 
is the second argument ; bridling the tongue is a note of some per 
fection and effectual progress in grace. * Offend not in word/ that is, 
speaketh only a known truth, and that seasonably, charitably, without 
vanity, or folly, or obscenity, or rash oaths, as Gregory Nyssen 1 fully 
expoundeth it. ' Is a perfect man/ You may take the words as a 
supposition. If any man avoid the evils of the tongue, I will make 
bold to call him a perfect man, such another as is not found among 
mortals. Thus we say often, when we propose an unlikely practice, 
He that could do this were a perfect man indeed. Or you may take 
it positively and assertively, and so it is another argument against 
supercilious censures. ' If you offend not in word, you are perfect/ 
that is, upright, sincere : those that are so, because they do not 
divide and baulk with God, are expressed by the term perfect. 
Or else perfect is put here for some ripeness and growth in Christianity. 
In the Jewish discipline there were two sorts of persons da-tcrjral, 
beginners, that did exercise themselves in virtuous actions and 
endeavours ; then there were others, whom Philo calleth reXetou?, 
perfect ; they were those that had attained to somewhat, and made 
some progress in the matters learned. Thus perfect is taken, 1 Cor. 
ii. 6, ' We speak wisdom among those that are perfect/ However 
weaklings are taken with toys, yet grown, mortified Christians will 
discern wisdom and sublimity in the plain preaching of Christ 
crucified. And this sense may be accommodated to this place : He 
that bridleth his tongue is not da-Kijrr)?, a beginner or learner, one 
that trieth experiments in religion, but reXeto?, a perfect man, one 
that hath made some towardly progress. 

And able to bridle the whole body. By body, Grotius under- 
standeth the church, which is called ' the body/ 1 Cor. xii. 20, Eph. 
iv. 12 ; and he maketh the sense out thus : He that can bridle him 
self in disputation is able to govern the church ; an exposition curious, 
but strange to this context. By bridling the body is meant, then, 
governing all his other actions, which are expressed here by the term 
body, because they are acted by the members of the body, eyes, hands, 
feet, &c. Why he pitcheth so much weight upon this matter of 
governing the tongue, I shall show you in the observations. 

Obs. 1. None are absolutely freed and exempted from sinning : 
1 John i. 8, ' If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, 
and the truth is not in us.' The doctrine of the Catharists is a lying 
doctrine : Prov. xx. 9, ' Who can say I have made my heart clean, 
I am pure from my sin ? ' Solomon maketh a challenge to all the 
world. Many may say so boldly, but who can say so truly ? All of 
us offend in many things, and many of us in all things. There is in 
all a cursed root of bitterness, 2 which God doth mortify, but not 
nullify ; it is cast down, but not cast out. Like the wild fig-tree, or 
ivy in the wall, 3 cut off stump, body, bough, and branches, yet some 

1 ' MTJ XaXetV Tot /larcua, etSeVat Kaipov Kal p.erpa /cat \6yov avayKCuov Kal eiriKpifftv 
eijaroxov, /J.TJ XaXetv apptid/jius, ^77 x a ^ a f e " / T b$ eirvyxtfawraf rrj <r<f>o5poTT]Ti.' Nyssenus, 
jrepl evTroitas. 

* ' Habitat, sed non regnat ; manet, sed non dominatur ; evulsuin quodammodo, nee 
tamen expulsum ; dejectum, sed non prorsus ejectum tamen. PsaL xc., serai. 10. 

a Similitude Procli apud Epiphan. Hserea 64. 


strings or other will sprout out again, till the wall be plucked down : 
God will have it so, till we come to heaven. Well, then (1.) Walk 
with more caution; you carry a sinning heart about you. As 
long as there is fuel for a temptation, we cannot be secure ; he that 
hath gunpowder about him will be afraid of sparkles. (2.) Censure 
with the more tenderness ; give every action the allowance of human 
frailty, Gal. vi. 1. We all need forgiveness ; without grace thou 
mightest fall into the same sins. (3.) Be the more earnest with God 
for grace ; God will keep you still dependent, and beholden to his 
power : ' Who shall deliver me ? ' Rom. vii. (4.) Magnify the love of 
God with the more praise. Paul groaneth under his corruptions, 
Eom. vii., latter end ; and then admireth the happiness of those that 
are in Christ, Eom. viii. 1 : they have so many sins, and yet none are 

Obs. 2. The sins of the best are many. The apostle saith, ' We 
offend.' God would not abolish and destroy all at once. There is a 
prayer against outward enemies, Ps. lix. 11, ' Slay them not, lest 
my people forget : scatter them by thy power ; and bring them down, 
God, our shield.' He would not have them utterly destroyed, but 
some relics preserved as a memorial. So God dealeth in respect of 
sin ; it is brought down, but not wholly slain ; something is still left 
as a monument of the divine grace ; as Peter of Alexandria, when 
he destroyed the rest of the idols, left one that was most monstrous 
and misshapen to put them in mind of their former idolatry. God 
will still honour free grace ; the condition of his own people is mixed, 
light chequered with darkness; those that walk in the light may 
stumble. Oh ! then (1.) Be not altogether dismayed at the sight of 
failings. A godly person observed that Christians were usually to 
blame for three things : They seek for that in themselves which they 
can only find in Christ ; for that in the law which shall only be had 
in the gospel ; and that upon earth which shall only be enjoyed in 
heaven. We complain of sin ; and when shall the earthly estate be 
free ? You should not murmur, but run to your Advocate. You 
complain, and so do all that have the first-fruits of the Spirit : 1 Peter 
v. 9, * All these things are accomplished in your brethren that are in 
the flesh.' They are all troubled with a busy devil, a corrupt heart, 
and a naughty world. (2.) However, bewail these failings, the evils 
that abound in your hearts, in your duties, that you cannot serve God 
as entirely as you served Satan ; your evil works were merely evil, but 
your good are not purely good; there your heart was poured out, 
e^xydrjcrav, Jude 11, here it is restrained ; there is filthiness in your 
righteousness, Isa. Ixiv. 

Obs. 3. To be able to bridle the tongue is an argument of some 
growth and happy progress in grace. You shall see not only our 
apostle, but the scripture everywhere maketh it a matter of great 
weight and moment : Prov. xviii. 21, ' Death and life are in the power 
of the tongue/ Upon the right or ill using of it a man's safety doth 
depend. And lest you should think the scripture only intendeth tem 
poral safety or ruin, see Mat. xii. 37, ' By thy words shalt thou be 
justified, and by thy words condemned.' One of the prime things 
that shall be brought forth to judgment are your words. So Prov. 


xiii. 3, 'He that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his life; but he that 
openeth wide his lips, shall have destruction.' He intimateth a simi 
litude of a city besieged : to open the gates betrayeth the safety of it ; 
all watch and ward is about the gate. So the tongue is the gate or 
door of the soul, by which it goeth out in converse and communi 
cation ; to keep it open or loose-guarded letteth in an enemy, which 
proveth the death of the soul. So in other places it is made the great 
argument and sign of spiritual and holy prudence : Prov. x. 19, ' In 
the multitude of words there wanteth not sin ; but he that refraineth 
his lips is wise.' Empty vessels are full of sound ; discreet silence, or 
a wise ordering of speech, is a token of grace. So Prov. xvii. 27, ' He 
that hath knowledge spareth his words ; and a man of understanding 
is of an excellent spirit.' In the original it is ' of a cool spirit/ not 
rash and hot, ready to pour out his soul in wrath. So David maketh 
it to be a great argument or sign of our interest in the promises : Ps. 
xxxiv. 13, ' What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, 
that he may see good ? keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from 
speaking guile :' that is the first direction. So elsewhere he maketh 
it the character of a godly man, Ps. xv. 3. I have heaped up these 
scriptures that the matter of keeping the tongue may not seem light 
and trivial. The Spirit of God, you see, giveth exhortation upon 
exhortation, and spendeth many scriptures upon this argument. There 
were also special reasons why our apostle should be so much in press 
ing it. (1.) Because this was the sin of that age, as appeareth by the 
frequent dissuasions from vain boasting of themselves, and detracting 
from others, in the 1st and 2d chapters ; and it is a high point of 
grace not to be snared with the evils of our own times. (2.) It is 
the best discovery of the heart ; speech is the express image of it : 
Mat. xii. 34, ' Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' 
When the heart is full, it overfloweth in speech. The story of loquere 
ut videam is common : Speak that I may see thee ; so Socrates to a 
fair boy. We know metals by their tinkling. Ps. xxxvii. 30, ' The 
mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh judg 
ment, for the law of the Lord is in his heart.' Good men will be 
always discovering themselves, and giving vent to the fulness of their 
hearts. (3.) It is the hypocrites' sin ; they abstain from grosser 
actions, but usually offend in their words, in boasting professions, and 
proud censures : see James i. 26. (4.) All of us are apt to offend 
with the tongue many ways ; most of a man's sins are in his words. 
One reckoneth up twenty-four several sins of the tongue, and yet the 
number may be increased lying, railing, swearing, ribaldry, scoffing, 
quarrelling, deceiving, boasting, tattling, &c. At first, indeed, there 
was no other sin in society but lying, but now to how many evils doth 
this one member subscribe ? It is observable, that when the apostle 
giveth us the anatomy of wickedness in all the members of the body, 
he stayeth longest on the organs of speech, and goeth over them all : 
Kom. iii. 13-15, ' Their throat is an open sepulchre ; with their tongues 
have they used deceit ; the poison of asps is under their lips : whose 
mouth is full of cursing and bitterness/ &c. There is much need, you 
see, of reforming and polishing this member. So Prov. xii. 13, ' The 
snare of the wicked is the transgression of his lips ; ' that is, not only 


by which he taketh others, but by which he is taken himself, to his 
own ruin and destruction. (5.) It is a sin into which we usually and 
easily fall, partly by reason of that quick intercourse that is between 
the tongue and the heart we sin in an instant ; and partly because 
speech is a human act which is performed without labour ; and so 
we sin that way incogitantly, without noting or judging it : ' Our 
tongues are our own/ Ps. xii. 4 ; such natural actions are performed 
without thinking of the weight and consequence of them ; and partly 
because the evils of the tongue are very pleasing, marvellously com 
pliant with nature. 

Well, then, take care, not only of your actions, but your speeches : 
Ps. xxxix. 1, ' I said I would take heed to my ways, lest I offend 
with my tongue.' He would take heed to the whole course of his life, 
but chiefly watch his tongue ; iniquity and offence was likely to 
shoot forth soonest that way. Next to keeping our hearts, Solomon 
biddeth us to keep our tongues : Prov. iv. 23, 24, ' Keep thy heart 
with all diligence ; ' then, ' Put away a f reward mouth and perverse 
lips.' First the heart, then the tongue, then the foot, ver. 26. Con 
sider (1.) Your speeches are noted. Xenophon would have all speeches 
written, to make men more serious. They are recorded, James ii. 12. 
Every idle word is brought into judgment, Mat. xii. 36 : light words 
weigh heavy in God's balance. (2.) They are punished : Ps. Ixiv. 
8, * Their own tongue shall fall upon them/ Better a mountain 
should fall upon you than the weight of your own tongue. Origen 
observeth out of that expression which intimateth that the rich man 
desired a drop to cool his tongue, Luke xvi. 24, that his tongue 
was punished quia lingua plus peccaverat, because he had sinned 
most with his tongue : but the expression there intendeth only ease 
and comfort. Other places are more clear : see Prov. xiv. 3, ' In the 
mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise shall 
preserve them.' We boast and insult ; God will make it a rod to 
scourge us. It is not a sword, but a rod ; because God will punish 
contempt with contempt, both in this life and that to come. (3.) 
Consider what a vile thing it is to abuse the tongue to strife, censure, 
or insultation. The tongue is called the glory of man in the Psalms : 
1 Awake, my glory/ Ps. Ivii. 8. It should not accommodate such vile 
uses and purposes ; we pervert it from its proper use. God made it 
to celebrate his own praise, to convey the holy conceptions of the soul 
to others. Man's excellency should not be thus debased ; better be 
dumb than of a wicked tongue. (4.) It is not of small regard that 
God in nature would show that he hath set bounds to the tongue : he 
hath hedged it in with a row of teeth. 1 Other organs are double ; we 
have two eyes, two ears, but one tongue. Children have not a use of 
their tongue naturally till they have a use of reason ; certainly, there 
fore, it was never intended to serve passion and pride and every idle 

-For apt remedies (1.) Get a pure heart; there is the tongue's 
treasury and storehouse. A good man is always ready to discourse, 
not forced by the company, but because the law of God is in his 
heart : Prov. xv. 7, ' The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the 

y l ' Aetvoj' ?ros fivyev />KOS odovruv. ' Homer. 


heart of the foolish is not so.' By virtue of the opposition it should 
be * the tongue of the foolish/ but whatever is in the tongue cometh 
from the heart; his heart doth not 1 incline his tongue. 2 A stream 
riseth not above the fountain. Out of the heart come blasphemies and 
evil speakings, Mat. xv. 19. (2.) Watch and guard speech: Ps. 
xxxix. 1, * I said, I will take heed to my tongue ;' / said, that is, 
penitus decrevi, I took up such a resolution. Nay, he saith, he would 
' keep his mouth as with a bridle, especially when the wicked were 
before him.' The tongue had need be restrained with force and 
watchfulness, for it is quick and ready to bring forth every wicked 
conception. You must not only watch over it, but bridle it ; it is 
good to break the force of these constraints within us, and to suffocate 
and choke them in the first conception. David, though enraged, 
would keep in his spirit as with a bridle. Pambus in the Tripartite 
History was long in learning of this lesson. So, see Prov. xxx. 32, 
' If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or hast thought evil, 
lay thy hand upon thy mouth ; ' that is, to bridle and stifle those 
thoughts of anger, revenge, or any other ill design ; do not deal too 
softly with unruly evils, but strongly resist and compress them. 
This rule should chiefly be observed in worship : Eccles. v. 1, 'Be not 
rash with thy mouth.' Our words should be more advised ; a hasty 
carelessness erigageth to sin : ' The preacher sought out words/ 
Certainly in worship we should see our thoughts ere they escape from 
us. (3.) All our endeavours are nothing. Go to God : Ps. cxli. 3, 
' Set a watch, Lord, before my month; keep the door of my lips/ 
He desireth God to keep him from speaking amiss when he was in 
deep afflictions. It is God alone that can tame the tongue ; desire 
the custody of his spirit : Prov. xvi. 1, ' The answer of the tongue 
is from the Lord.' When the heart is prepared the tongue may 
falter. In preaching and praying we are sometimes stopped in 
the midst of the work though the matter be meditated. The saints 
sometimes desire God to open their mouth, Eph. vi. 19 ; Ps. 1. 15 ; 
sometimes to shut it ; he doth all in this matter. (4.) That you 
may not offend in your words, let them be oftener employed about 
holy uses. It is not enough to abstain from evil-speaking : Eph. iv. 
29, * Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth, but 
that which is good to the use of edifying.' So Eph. v. 4, ' Neither 
filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, but rather giving of thanks / 
ev^dpLana, that is, thankfully remembering your sweet experiences. 
You may have joy, if Christians, in other things; you may com 
municate to one another your experiences of God, and that is better 
mirth than foolish jesting. As we must then avoid the evil of the 
tongue, so we must commune one with another more fruitfully, 
quickening one another to a sweet apprehension of the benefits of God. 
The spouse's lips ' dropped honeycombs/ Cant. iv. Many possibly 
avoid conferences grossly evil ; but how slow are we to good ! 
Solomon, that describeth the sad effects of an evil tongue, doth also 
everywhere discover the fruits of a good tongue. For a taste take 
these places : Prov. x. 20, * The tongue of the just is as choice silver ;' 
not only as it is purged from the dross of vanity, and lies, and filthy 

1 Qu. ' but' ? ED. 2 ' Qualia principia, talia principiata.' 


speaking, but because of the worth and benefits of it. In another 
place he saith it is the ' tree of life/ Prov. xi. 30, whose leaves are 
medicinable. And Prov. xii. 18, ' The tongue of .the wise is health/ 
All which should shame us, because we are so backward in holy 
discourse, to refresh and heal one another. And out of the whole 
we may learn that Christianity doth not take away the use of speech, 
but rule it ; and doth not make us dumb in converse, but gracious. 

Ver. 3, 4. Behold, we put bits into horses' mouths, that they may 
obey us ; and we turn about their ivhole bodies. Behold also the ships, 
which, though they be great, and driven of fierce ivinds, yet they are 
turned about with a small helm, ivhithersoever the governor listeth. 

These two verses being spent in comparisons and similitudes, need 
the less of comment and illustration. The drift of them is to show 
that little things are able to guide great bodies, as a bridle and a 
rudder ; and so the guiding of the tongue, a little member, may be of 
as great use and consequence in moral matters. By the bridle we 
keep the horse from stumbling, and by the rudder the ship from rocks. 
So answerably Solomon saith, Prov. xxi. 23, 'Whoso keepeth his 
mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles/ 

Out of these verses observe : 

Obs. 1. That it is good to illustrate divine things by similitudes 
taken from earthly. (1.) Our knowledge is by sense ; by things 
known we the better apprehend those that are unknown : and by an 
earthly matter, with which we are acquainted, we conceive of the 
sweetness and worth of that which is heavenly and spiritual. (2.) In 
a similitude the thing is doubly represented, and with a sweet variety ; 
though we know the man, we delight to view the picture Christians 
should use their parts more this way ; there is much benefit in it ; 
fancy is polished : we are more fit for occasional meditation, and we 
apprehend spiritual things with more clearness and affection. 

Obs. 2. Nature, art, and religion show that the smallest things, 
wisely ordered, may be of great use. Neglect not small things ; we 
are often snared by saying, ' Is it not a little one ? ' Gen. xix. 20. 
And we lose much advantage by ' despising the day of small things/ 
Zech. iv. 10. 

Obs. 3. God's wisdom is much seen by endowing man with an 
ability of contrivance and rare invention ; that so fierce and wild a 
creature as the horse should be tamed with a bridle, that things of so 
great a bulk as ships should be turned about, and that against the 
violence of boisterous winds, with a small helm : Aristotle * proposeth 
it as a worthy matter of consideration. These crafts are all from the 
Lord : Isa. liv. 16, ' Behold, I create the smith that bloweth in the 
coals in the fire, and bringeth forth an instrument for his work.' He 
left these inventions to human industry, but he giveth the wit and 
abilities. 2 The heathens had a several god for every several craft, as 
the Papists have now a tutelar saint ; but the Lord giveth wisdom. 

1 ' Ata rl Tr~r)8d\i.oi> u-'iKpov eir ^xdrov irXolov roffaisryv 8ijvafj.iv %et,' &c. Arist. ii. 
^/LijXaviK&v, cap. 5. 

2 ' Keliquit hsec sane Deus humanis ingeniis eruenda ; tamen fieri non potest quin 
ipsius sint omnia, qui et sapientiam tribuit homini ut inveniret, et ilia ipsa quse possunt 
inveniri primus invenit.' Lactant. de Falsa Relig., lib. i. cap. 18. 


As for embroidery: Exod. xxxi. 3, 'Bezaleel was filled with the 
Spirit of God/ &c. Every art is a common gift of the Spirit. So for 
husbandry, see Isa. xxviii. 24-26. So for war, Ps. cxliv. 1. Well, 
then, bless God for the various dispensations of his gifts for the good 
of mankind, and wait upon him, that you may understand the matter 
of your callings, and find good in them : Prov. xvi. 20, ' He that 
handleth a matter wisely shall find good ; and whoso trusteth in the 
Lord, happy is he.' You must wait upon the Lord for skill and for 
success ; he teacheth to tame the horse, to steer the ship. 

Obs. 4. From the first similitude you may observe, that men, for 
their natural fierceness and wantonness, are like wild beasts. Man 
affected to be God, but became like ' the beasts that perish/ Ps. xlix. 
12. The psalmist saith, Ps. xxxii. 19, ' Be not like horse and mule, 
whose mouth must be held with bit and bridle, lest they come near 
thee/ To keep them from doing harm, they must be held in with bit 
and bridle. So there is a wantonness by which we are apt to kick 
with the heel against God's precepts, Deut. xxxii. 15. It is God's 
mercy that we are restrained. This natural fierceness may be dis 
cerned to be abated by the guidance of the tongue. 

Ver. 5. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great 
things : behold how great a matter a little fire Jcindleth ! 

Even so the tongue is a little member. Here is the reddition of the 
similitude ; the tongue is a bridle and rudder, small in bulk, and yet 
of great use. The apostle's word is fjie^aXav^l, ' boasteth great 
things ; ' this indeed is the proper signification of the word. By the 
force of the context James should have said, ' doth great things ; ; for 
the thing to be proved was, that he that can govern his tongue is able 
to govern his whole body. To take off the prejudice that might arise 
against such a proposition, he produceth two similitudes, wherein he 
would insinuate that things little by good management may be of 
great use ; and thereupon, in the accommodation of the similitudes to 
the present purpose, he should have inferred that the little member the 
tongue, well ordered, can do great things ; that is, the government of 
it is of singular use in man's life. But he rather, and that according 
to the use of the apostles, repeateth the main proposition in such 
terms as imply another argument. ' And boasteth great things : ' as 
if he had said, The tongue witnesseth for itself; for by it men^ trumpet 
out their confidences and presumptions, and boast they can bring great 
things to pass. And he instanceth in boasting, not only as most 
accommodate to his matter, but (1.) Because it is the usual sin of the 
tongue ; this is a member that most of all serveth pride, a sin from 
whence most of the errors and miscarriages of the tongue proceed. 
(2.) Because this is usually the sin of those that have no command of 
their spirits and actions. Hypocrites and vain men are proud boasters. 
' Flattering lips/ and * the tongue that speaketh proud things/ are 
joined together, Ps. xii. 3. So Prov. xiv. 3, ' In the mouth of the 
foolish is the rod of pride.' True grace humbleth, false puffeth up. 

Behold how great a matter a, little fire kindleth. Another similitude, 
to show that great inconveniences come from the abuse of so small a 
member. A man would think that words, that pass away with the 
breath in which they are uttered, had not such a weight and deadly 


influence ; but, saitli the apostle, a little fire kindletli much wood. 
Small things are not to be neglected in nature, art, religion, or provi 
dence. In nature, matters of moment grow up from small beginnings. 
Nature loveth to have the cause and seed of everything small : a little 
leaven leaveneth the whole lump ; thin exhalations descend in great 
showers ; small breaches in a sea-bank let in great inundations, &c. 

Notes out of this verse are these: 

Obs. I. A usual sin of the tongue is boasting. Sometimes the 
pride of the heart shooteth out by the eyes ; therefore we read of 
' haughty eyes/ and ' a proud look/ Prov. vi. 17 ; but usually it is dis 
played in our speech. The tongue trumpeteth it out (1.) In bold 
vaunts. Kabshakeh threatened he would make them c eat their own 
dung, and drink their own piss/ So Isa. xiv. 13, * I will ascend into 
the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ; I will sit 
upon the mount of the congregation, on the sides of the north/ He 
threateneth battle against God himself, and then against his people. See 
Hannah's dissuasion, 1 Sain. ii. 3, ' Talk no more exceeding proudly ; 
let not arrogancy come out of your mouth/ &c. (2.) In a proud osten 
tation of our own worth and excellency : ' Is not this great Babel, which 
I have built ? ; First we entertain our spirits with whispers of vanity 
and suppositions of applause ; and then the rage of vainglory is so 
great, that we trumpet out our own shame. It is against reason that 
a man should be judge in his own cause. In the Olympic Games the 
wrestlers did not put the crowns upon their own heads ; that which 
is lawful praise in another's lips, in our own is but boasting. (3.) In 
contemptuous challenges of God and man. Of God : * Who is the God 
of the Hebrews, that I should let you go ?' and Ps. xii. 4, ' Our tongues 
are our own ; who is lord over us ? ' Of man : Daring, provoking 
speeches are recorded in the word. Solomon saith, Prov. xviii. 6, { A 
fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.' 
Cartwright on that place instanceth in those forms of irritation or pro 
vocation, Do an thou durst, and, Thou sordid fellow ; which he saith 
are as the alarum of war, and as drums to beat up to the battle. (4.) 
Bragging promises, as if they could achieve and accomplish great mat 
ters above the reach of their gifts and strength : ' I will pursue, I will 
overtake, I will divide the spoil/ &c., Exod. xv. 

Obs. 2. Small things are to be regarded ; and we must not consider 
matters in their beginning only, but progress, and ultimate issue. A little 
sin doth a great deal of mischief, and a little grace is of great efficacy : 
Eccles. x. 13, * The beginning of a foolish man's speech is foolishness, 
but the latter end is foolish madness/ At first men toy, wrangle, for 
sport and pastime, but afterward, break out into furious passion, and 
so from folly go on to madness. Contention at first is but as a spark, 
but afterwards it being fomented and blown up by unsober spirits, it 
1 devoureth the great deep/ Amos vii. 4, putteth whole kingdoms into 
combustion : Prov. xvii. 14, * The beginning of strife is as when one 
letteth out water / it is easy to open the sluices and let it out, but who 
can call the floods back again ? Strife is sometimes compared to fire, 
sometimes to water ; they are both unmerciful elements when once 
they are let loose : Prov. xxvi. 21, ' A man given to strife is as fire to 
the coals : ' when the burning is once begun, it is easily propagated and 


continued So heresy at first is inconsiderable, but it creepeth like a 
gangrene from one place to another, till it hath destroyed the whole 
body. Arius, a small Alexandrian spark, enkindled all the world in 
a flame. 1 So also providence beginneth great matters upon small oc 
casions. Luther's reformation was occasioned by opposing pardoners. 
Men begin to quarrel one with another about trifles ; and God infer- 
reth great mutations and changes of states and kingdoms. 2 The young 
men's playing may prove bitterness in the issue, 2 Sam. ii. 26. Christ's 
kingdom at first was despised, a poor tender branch, a little stone 
crumbled from the mountains ; but afterwards it ' filled the whole 
earth/ Dan. ii. 37. Well, then, out of all this (1.) Learn not to neglect 
evils that are small in their rise and original ; resist sin betimes, 
Eph. iv. 27; give no place to Satan. You know not the utmost 
issue of Satan's tyranny and encroachment. So for contention, 
neither meddle 3 with it at all, or leave off betime. So for heresy ; ' take 
the little foxes/ Cant. ii. 15. Watch over the first and most modest 
appearances of error : ' I did not give place, not for an hour,' saith the 
apostle, Gal. ii. 5. (2.) Learn not to despise the low beginnings of 
providence and deliverance : there is a ' day of small things,' Zech. iv. 
10. God useth to go on when he hath begun a good work. Philpot 
said, The martyrs had kindled such a light in England as should not 
easily go out. 

Ver. 6. And the tongue is a fire, a ivorld of iniquity : so is the 
tongue among the members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth 
on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell 

Here he applieth the similitude of a little fire to an evil tongue : 
' And the tongue is a fire/ &c. I shall open the phrases that are most 

A world of iniquity. Things that are exuberant and abounding 
are expressed by this proverbial speech, ' a world.' It implieth that 
the force and power of the tongue to hurt is very great ; as the world 
is full of all kind of things, so the tongue of all kind of sin. 

So is the tongue among the members ; that is, of so great regard ; 
it is but one, and that a small member among the rest, and yet of 
such a cursed influence, that it often draweth guilt upon all the rest of 
the members. 

That it defileth the whole body. Ephraim Syrus understandeth this 
clause without a figure ; he thinketh it is an allusion to the punishment 
of leprosy with which Miriam and Aaron were smitten for the abuse 
of their tongues. But that agreeth not with this place. The mean 
ing is, therefore, it blotteth and infecteth the whole man with sin and 
guilt, and so possibly there may be an allusion to what is said, Eccles, 
v. 6, ' Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin ;' where byfiesh is 
meant the whole man ; as also here by body : which term the apostle 
used before, ver. 3, and with good advice. (1.) Because he speaketh 
of the tongue, which is a member of the body, and so the rather 
carrieth the expression in terms suitable. (2.) Because sin, though 
it beginneth in the soul, is executed and accomplished by the body ; 

1 ' In Alexandria una scintilla f uit, sed quia non statim oppressa est, totuna orbem ejus 
flamma populata est.' Hitron. 

3 ' Penes reges est inferre bellum ; penes autem Deum terminare.' 
3 Qu. ' either meddle not' ? ED. 


and it is some grace, when we cannot stop it in the concupiscible, to 
stop it in the locomotive power ; if not in the lust, yet in the members. 
Or (3.) Body, because of that resemblance the scriptures make 
between the sins of all the members and a body ; and therefore the 
course of our actions, whether good or bad, are expressed by this 
term ; as Mat. vi. 22, ' The light of the body is the eye ; and there 
fore if the eye be single, the whole body is full of light,' &c. ; where 
body is put for all the actions of the soul : if the understanding and 
aim be rightly directed, all the motions are right. Now the tongue 
defileth this whole body, as it persuadeth to sin, or else uttereth and 
bewrayeth sin, and so showeth the whole man to be defiled. It also 
engageth to sin : the tongue often engageth the hand to smite with 
the fist of wickedness, and by its brawling and contention other 
members are involved in sin and inconveniences. So also for other 
sins, men speak evil, and then commit it ; one member infected 
maketh way for the corruption and defilement of another ; and the 
tongue being of so sovereign an influence, taintetli all. 

And setteth on fire. He showeth the further efficacy of this tongue- 
fire ; it doth not only black and sully, but it devoureth and destroyeth. 
He expresseth it by this phrase, ' setteth on fire,' because of the compar 
ison foregoing ; and it is very proper, partly in regard of the effects 
of the tongue, which are usually false heats, passion, wrath, raging, 
violence, contrary to which is that ' cool spirit ; which Solomon saith 
is in the prudent man ; partly in regard of the tongue's manner of 
working in contentions. It is rapid and violent ; men are by the tongue 
transported and heated into inconveniences ; and it is also disorderly, 
like raging fire, causing great confusions ; and therefore in any heat 
we had need look to the rise and quality of it : be sure to watch over 
your spirit when it beginneth to grow furious and inflamed. 

The ivhole course of nature. In the original it is TOV rpo^ov rfjs 
yei^ecreo)?, which some render, ' the wheel of our nativity/ by which he 
intendeth the whole course of our lives ; there is no action, no age, no 
estate privileged from the influence of it. The Syriac interpreter hath, 
' all our generations,' as if the sense were, that all ages of the world 
are conscious to the evils of the tongue, and can produce instances and 
experiences of it. But the word rather signifieth our natural course, 
or the wheel of human conversation. 

And it is set on fire ofliell. He showeth whence the tongue hath 
all this malice and mischief ; from hell, that is, from the devil, who is 
the father of lies, the author of malice and virulency, and doth by 
the tongue, as a dexterous instrument or fit servant, transmit lies, and 
slanders, and strifes, for inflaming and enkindling the world. Some 
read, tfrhoyurofiewj, ' it shall be set on fire of hell/ as implying the 
punishment ; but in all approved copies it is ^Xo7tfo/^e^, { is set on 
fire/ as noting the original. 

The points observable are these : 

Obs. 1. There is a resemblance between an evil tongue and fire : 
(1.) For the heat of it. It is the instrument of wrath and contention, 
which is the heat of a man a boiling of the blood about the heart. 
Solomon saith, ' A man of understanding is of a cool spirit/ Prov. 
xvii. 27. Hot water boileth over, so do passions in the heart boil out 


in the words. Of the ungodly man it is said, Prov. xvi. 27, ' In his 
lips there is a burning fire. (2.) For the danger of it. It kindleth 
a great burning. The tongue is a powerful means to kindle divisions 
and strifes. You know we had need look to fire. It is a bad master, 
and a good servant. Where it prevaileth, it soon turneth houses into 
a wilderness ; and you have as much need to watch the tongue. Solo 
mon saith, Prov. xxvi. 18, ' The fool casteth firebrands, and saith, Am 
I not in sport ? ' We throw fire abroad, scalding words, and do not 
think of the danger of them. (3.) For the scorching. Keproaches 
penetrate like fire. David compareth them to ' coals of juniper/ Ps. 
cxx. 4, which burn hottest and longest ; they may be kept a whole 
year. The Septuagint have rot? avOpdfy rot? ep^/MLKol^, ' desolating 
coals.' Fire is a most active element, and leaveth a great sense and 
pain. So do reproaches, like the living coals of juniper. (4.) It is 
kindled from hell, as in the close of the verse. Zeal is a holy fire 
that cometh from heaven, this from hell. Isaiah's lips were ' touched 
with a coal from the altar,' Isa. vi. 6 ; and the Holy Ghost descended 
in cloven tongues of fire, Acts ii. But this is fire from beneath, of an 
infernal original. Oh ! labour then for a cool spirit. A tongue that 
is set on fire from hell shall be set on fire in hell. You know who 
wished for a drop to cool his tongue. The hot words of wrath, strife, 
and censure come from Satan, and lead to Satan. 1 When you feel 
this heat upon your spirit, remember from what hearth these coals 
were gathered. God's word was as fire in Jeremiah's bones, so is 
wrath many times in ours ; yet though wrath boil, keep anger from 
being a scorching fire in your tongues. See Ps. xxxix. 3, &c. 

Obs. 2. There is a world of sin in the tongue. It is an instrument 
of many sins. By it we induce ourselves to evil, by it we seduce others. 
Some sins are formal and proper to this member, others flow from it. It 
acteth in some sins, as lying, railing, swearing, &c. It concurreth to 
others, by commanding, counselling, persuading, seducing, &c. It is 
made the pander to lust and sin. Oh ! how vile are we if there be a world 
of sin in the tongue in one member ! Some 2 have reckoned as many 
sins in the tongue as there are letters in the alphabet. Where shall we 
find a rule and account to number up the sins of every member ? ' All 
the imaginations are evil,' Gen. vi. 3. As there is saltness in every 
drop of the sea, and bitterness in every branch of wormwood, there 
is an ' overspreading of abominations' throughout the whole man, Dan. 
ix. 27. Again, we may consider the ingratitude of man. Our tongue 
is our glory ; 3 it is the member by which we discover and show forth 
our reason ; it fitteth us for commerce. Speech maketh man a sociable 
creature ; 4 yet there is a world of iniquity in the tongue. 

Obs. 3. From that and defileth. Sin is a defilement and a blot. We hear 
of ' filthy communication/ ' filthy lucre/ and ' filthy lusts/ The very 
show of sin is called ' filthiness of the flesh/ 2 Cor. vii. 1. Scandalous 
sinners are the stain of their society : ' These are spots in your love 
feasts.' It will be your own disgrace. When, you give up yourselves 
to the practice of sin, you get to yourselves a blot : Deut. xxxii. 5, 

1 ' Illic incipit, et illuc rapit.' 2 Laurent, in loc. 

3 Ps. cviii. 1, and xvi. 9, compared with Acts ii. 26. 

4 "Avepwiros tv 0&ret $G>ov iroKLnKov.' Arist. Pol., lib. i. cap. 2. 


* Their spot is not as the spot of God's people/ And it will be your 
eternal disadvantage : Rev. xxi. 27, ' And there shall in no wise enter 
into it anything that defileth/ In short, sin is such a filthiness that 
it is ashamed of itself. It seeketh to hide itself from those that most 
love it, and goeth shrouded under the disguise of virtue. There needeth 
no other argument to make it odious than to see it in its own colours. 

Obs. 4. Tongue sins do much defile. They defile others. We com 
municate evil to others, either by carnal suggestions, or provoke them 
to evil by our passion. They defile ourselves. By speaking evil of 
them we contract guilt upon ourselves. Either they deserve it not, 
and so it is a lie, which is a great blot, or if the crime imposed be 
true, their sin is made ours by an undue speaking of it. 1 

Obs. 5. From that the whole body. An evil tongue hath a great 
influence upon other members. When a man speaketh evil, he will 
commit it. When the tongue hath the boldness to talk of sin, the 
rest of the members have the boldness to act it : 1 Cor. xv. 33, ' Evil 
words corrupt good manners/ First we think, then speak, and then do. 
Men will say it is but talk. Be not deceived ; a pestilent tongue will 
infect other members. 

Obs. 6. From that the course, or wheel, of our nativity. Man's life 
is like a wheel. It is always in motion ; we are always turning and 
rolling to our graves : Ps. xc. 3, ' Thou turnest man to destruction, 
and sayest, Return, ye children of men.' The meaning is, they are 
turned into the world, and returned to the grave. It noteth also the 
uncertainty of any worldly state ; the spokes are now up, and now 
down, sometimes in the dirt, and sometimes out. The bishops of 
Mentz give a wheel for their arms ; it is but the emblem of our lives, 
and the inconstancy of every condition of life ; when you see the wheel , 
improve the occasion to some good meditation. There is a story of 
Bajazet, as also of another taken by an ancient king of France, when 
they saw the wheel of the conqueror's chariot, they smiled, saying, ' The 
upper spokes will come down again/ Here we are always moving, 
sometimes up, sometimes down, but still towards the grave. 

Obs. 7. The evils of the tongue are of a large and universal influence, 
diffuse themselves into all conditions and states of life. There is no 
faculty which the tongue doth not poison, from the understanding to 
the locomotive ; it violently stirreth up the will and affections, maketh 
the hands and the feet ' swift to shed blood/ Rom. iii. 14, 15. There 
is no action which it doth not reach ; not only those of ordinary con 
versation, by lying, swearing, censuring, &c., but holy duties, as prayer, 
and those direct and higher addresses to God, by foolish babbling, and 
carnal requests; we would have God revenge our private quarrel. 
Pulpits are made stages and cockpits, on which men play their prizes 
and masteries, and set on private passions. There is no age exempted ; 
it is not only found in young men, that are of eager and fervorous 
spirits, but in those whom age and experience hath more matured and 
ripened. Other sins decay with age, this many times increaseth ; and 
we grow more forward and pettish as natural strength decayeth, and 
'the days come on in which is no pleasure/ I say, when other sins 
lose their vigour, as being tamed and subdued by the infirmities of old 

1 ' Peccatum quod alter incurrit operando, tuum facis obloquendo.' 


age, we see the spirit groweth more tart, nature being drawn down to 
the dregs, and the expressions more passionate. No calling is exempted. 
The tradesman in his shop abuse th his tongue for gain : Prov. xxi. 6, 
' The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and 
fro of them that love death ; ' the woman at home, in idle tattling, 
and vain censures. Ministers in the pulpit often prostitute the sacred- 
ness of their function to the corruption of the tongue, by preaching for 
gain, by being ' rash with their mouths to utter anything before God/ 
Eccles. v. 1 ; by being furiously passionate, &c. There is no temper so 
meek and humble but may be perverted. Holy Moses, the meekest 
man upon earth, was angry at the waters of strife, and brake out into 
passion : Ps. cvi. 33, ' He spake unadvisedly with his lips.' Meek 
Christians in a disease, how fro ward are they ! injurious even to God 
himself. David well prayeth in a great cross, ' Lord, keep the door 
of my lips/ Ps. cxli. 3. Well, then, none of us should think these 
exhortations unnecessary. It is a vain scoff, and it argueth horrible 
slightness of spirit, to charge this only upon the female sex : through 
the strength and pregnancy of imagination or fancy, they may be 
given to talk ; but you see men, the best and highest, are apt to 
offend. The apostle saith, * It setteth on fire the whole course of nature/ 
No part of man so noxious and hurtful ; no part of a man more fierce 
and unbridled ; no part more easy and apt to err. 

Obs. 8. A wicked tongue is of an infernal original. The prophets' 
fires, as I told you, were kindled from heaven ; like the chaste fires 
of the Roman vestals, which, if let out, were to be rekindled by a sun 
beam. In all heats it is good to see whence they come ; heat in good 
matters out of a selfish aim, is a coal fetched not from the altar, but 
the kitchen. Calumnies and reproaches are a fire blown up by the 
breath of hell. The devil hath been ' a liar from the beginning,' John 
viii. 44, and an accuser of the brethren, and he loveth to make others 
like himself. Learn, then, to abhor revilings, contentions, and re 
proaches, as you would hell flames ; these are but the eruptions of an 
infernal fire ; slanderers are the devil's slaves and instruments. Again, 
if blasted with contumely, learn to slight it ; who would care for the 
suggestions of the father of lies ? The murderer is a liar. In short, 
that which cometh from hell will go thither again : Mat. v. 22, ' Who 
soever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire/ Wrath 
being expressed in a word of reproach, you see how deadly and grievous 
it is. By nourishing an evil tongue, you do nourish and keep in hell 
flame, which hereafter will break out to your destruction. 

Ver. 7, 8. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, 
and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of man 
kind : but the tongue can no man tame : it is an unruly evil, and full 
of deadly poison. 

Having showed the cursed influence of the tongue, he showeth how 
difficult the cure is. Wild beasts are more tractable, and may be 
sooner brought to hand, than an evil tongue ; it is wilder than the 
wildest beast. 

Every kind of beasts, and birds, and serpents, and things in the sea. 
The enumeration is the more full, that he may show how far human 
art can reach. For instances and stories, interpreters abound iu 



them. How lions have been tamed and brought to hunt as dogs, or 
draw the chariot as horses, you may see Pliny in his Natural History, 
lib. viii. cap. 16, and ^Elian, lib. xv. cap. 14. How birds have been 
taught, you may see Plin. lib. x. cap 42, and Macrob. lib. ii. Saturn, 
cap. 10. Of elephants, Lipsius, cent, prim a, Epist. 50. In short, 
nothing is so violent and noxious by nature but human art and 
industry hath mada it serviceable to human uses. This is