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But this man goes farther; I not only compare myself with others, but with myself too, and find good ground to conclude the safeness of my condition. I remember a time, when I was vain and idle, when I ran in a way contrary to God. But now I have sowed my wild oats; and whereas before I was loose and dissolute, I have care to do my duty, to serve God, &c. I am not so profane as formerly, my estate must needs be good. This is a very dangerous thing to say, that because I am not as bad as I was, I am therefore good. It is as if a man had a debtor, a slack paymaster, to whom the creditor calls earnestly to pay the debt; the best answer the debtor gives is this, I am sure there are many worse paymasters in the world than I am, and I myself have been a worse, and more slow paymaster heretofore than I am now. Well, because there are worse paymasters, and he himself hath been a worse, doth this make him a better now? And shall this serve to excuse thee, by comparing thyself with others that are worse? And with thyself, that because thou hast mended thyself in some particulars, therefore thou art in the way to heaven? It is a false and foolish conclusion.
4. Now we come to the main thing, another false glass, which we call partial obedience, when a man goes further, looking upon the letter of the commandment only, saying, I thank God I forbear many sins, and do many duties, I am not a thief, nor a murderer, swearer, drunkard, or covetous person: I do not take God's name in vain; I have not broken the Sabbath, though I doubt whether it be moral or no. I have served God in coming to his house, given obedience to my parents, &c. And looking on this he concludes, doubtless all is well with him: as when I have a thousand thorns in my feet, and have three or four taken out, will this help me ? because I have not the stone or the gout, shall I conclude I am well, as if I could not be sick without this or that dis
Because I do something that God requires, shall I think I do as much as I need ? No, we must take heed of
that, God will not be contented with partial obedience; he will have the whole heart or none.
OBJ. But mine is not partial obedience, I do my endeavour, as far as I am able to do, what God requires : here comes in natural reason, and saith, I thank God I do what I can, and I see no reason, why more should be required. I conform myself, as I am able, and I see it needful, to the greatest duties of Christianity ; I lead such a blameless life, that no man can tax me in any particular what God hath enabled me to do; and according to moral philosophy, I know not how more can be required : I go as far as Seneca's rules, and somewhat farther, and sure this is not partial obedience.
Sol. I speak not against morality. But yet let me tell thee, if thou hast no more than morality, it will not bring thee to heaven. Not but that a moral man is an excellent stock, whereon to graft grace and virtue, it is a good help to heaven, yet it comes far short of bringing him thither. Natural reason was once a full and fair glass, till it was broken by the fall: but now it is insufficient. The tables in Moses' hands were excellent things, God made the first tables with his own hand, and perchance they may be therein typical, when these were broken, Moses makes the second, these not so excellent as the former, though I should esteem a piece of these more excellent than all the relics of the papists, for there was something of the first in them, God writes them with his own finger. This glass which was then so perfect, is now broken, and is not so perfect as it was, though there be something yet remaining in it; we may see something of its ancient lustre in the Gentiles; “ for these having not a law, are a law unto themselves.” There are practical principles yet remaining in the tables of our hearts, so that they that care not for the law, shall be judged by that natural light, which is in them. We have a conscience to difference between good and evil. This is the truth. It is a part of the image of God implanted in us, which we are not to despise lest we be judged with those that “hold the truth in unrighteousness :" the truth is the principle of difference betwixt good and bad : the soul was to have a seat as a queen to rule all our actions : but now this queen is taken captive, and all is lost: morality and inward principles are to be much esteemed, as things which God at first planted, yet do they come short of bringing a man to heaven. The young man in the Gospel had a'good esteem of himself, and was doubtless well esteemed of others, and did many things: but yet our Saviour tells him, “how hard a thing it was for one no better qualified than at that time he
was, or rather impossible (for he preferred his wealth before the blessed society of Christ) to come to heaven :" Although he thinks himself well enough, though he were rich not only in great outward possessions, but in his moral virtues too, so that when our Saviour tells him of the commandments, he replies : “ all these have I kept from my youth,” which evidenced him to have been a good moral man indeed in that he had done so much, yet this was not enough, one thing lacked : “ go and sell all that thou hast," &c. However, because there was so much in him, we read, Mark, chap. X. ver. 21. “Jesus loved him :" he sheweth that his cause was heavy, that going so far he should not attain his end. But this was not to be despised, for this Jesus loved him. So 1 Kings, chap. XIV. ver. 13.
“He only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good things towards the Lord." If there are but some good things in a man, the remains of God's work, God loveth his own work; here is the point then, though morality be good, and natural reason be good : and what through the providence of God remains in us, since the state of our first creation; (for this state was a pure and a full glass, made by God himself, but since the fall is much darkened: if we consult with natural reason and moral philosophy, they will discover many things :) yet this comes short. There are abundance of things that it cannot discover, manifold defects which it cannot discern.. The apostle saith in the Romans, chap. VII. ver. 7. “ I had not known sin but by the law. I had not known lust to have been a sin, had not the law said, thou shalt not lust.” We have many sins
we cannot know, but by the law, yea such secret sins, as must be repented of. Our Saviour overthrew the tables of the money changers, and would not suffer them to carry burdens through the temple, though for the use of those that sacrificed, a thing which had some shew of religion in it. He whipped both out, not only those that had residence there, but those that passed through : he would suffer none but those that could justify what they did by the law. Now, as God would not have sin lodge and make its abode in the soul, so he would not have it made a thoroughfare for sin: he would not have vain thoughts come up and down in the hearts. Now, “by the law comes the knowledge of these secret sins.” Reason is a glass much to be esteemed for what it can shew; but it is not a perfect glass; sometimes it shews a sin, but many times diminishes it, that we cannot see it in full proportion. The apostle makes this use of the law, that by it “ sin becomes exceeding sinful.” Thou mayest see sin to be sin by natural reason, but to see it exceeding sinful, this morality comes short of, thou must have this from the law of God.
5. There is another false glass, when the “Devil transforms himself into an angel of light,” when he preacheth Gospel to a man. Beware of the doctrine when the deceiver preacheth. This may be his doctrine: “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” From this, by Satan's cunning delusion the natural man thus concludes: A mere heathen shall be shut out of heaven's gates, but I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, therefore I am in a good condition. Why then should I trouble myself any further? There is no man can accuse me, and my own good works will testify unto me, that I do enough. Strictness in religion is troubleness, and it is an unreasonable thing to do more: but this is but a mere delusion of Satan, for there is nothing more quiets, and satisfies a man, than religion; there is nothing in the world more reasonable, than the service of God. First then know thy disease, and then apply those sweet and sovereign cures. It is no easy matter for a man to be
lieve: we block up the strait ways of God, if we think it an easy matter to believe of ourselves. It must be done by the mighty power of God: it is as great a work of God, as the creation of the world, to make a man believe : it is the mighty power of God to salvation. Such a one must not receive Christ as a Saviour, but as a Lord too. He must renounce all to have him, he must take him on his own terms. He must deny the world and all, looking beforehand what it will cost him. Now for a man to take Christ, as his Lord, denying himself the world, and all, to resolve to pluck out his right eye, cut off his right hand rather than to part with him, and account nothing so dear to him as Christ, is no small matter. Thou canst not be Christ's spouse, unless thou forsake all for him. Thou must all things as dung and dross in comparison with him:" and is not this a difficult thing? Is this an easy task ? Easily spoken indeed, not as easily done : it must be here as in the case of marriage; a man must forsake all others, yea the whole world, else Christ will not own him. Observe the speech of the apostle, “ What is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward that believe," &c. Mark, is to believe so easy a matter think you? Why, unless the mighty power of God be engaged for it, with that strength as it was engaged in raising Christ from the dead, it cannot be. When thou art to believe, and united unto Christ, the agreement is not that thou shalt take him as thy wife, and thou shalt be his husband : no, he must be thy husband, and thou his wife, and according to the obligation of that relation, thou must be in subjection to him, and must obey him. Now for a man to be brought out of his natural condition, and to take Christ on any terms, so he may be saved by him in the end, is not so easy. Canst thou think there is no more required but only the outward baptism, or that there is no more in baptism but the outward washing of the flesh? No; “Het is not a Jew that is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is in the flesh; but he is a Jew that is so inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart.” Thou then
Eph. chap. 1. ver. 19.
k Rom. chap. 2. ver. 29.