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and complaining of abundant sinfulness. And sure, purity cannot be expected in these who are so far from it by their own confession; yet the truth is, that such purity, as is here below, will either be found to lodge among these, or no where. Be not deceived, think not that they who loath, and (as they can) fly from the unholiness of the world, are therefore taken with the conceit of their own holiness; but as their perfect purity of justification is by Christ's imputed righteousness, so likewise they will know, and do always acknowledge, that their inherent holiness is from above too, from the same fountain, Jesus Christ. The wisdom from above is pure, this is their engagement to humility, for it excludes vaunting and boasting, and besides that, it is imperfect, troubled and stained with sin, which is enough to keep them humble. Their daily sad experience will not suffer them to be so mistaken; their many faults of infirmity, cannot but keep them from this presumptuous fault. There is a generation indeed that is pure in their own eyes", but they are such as are not washen from their filthiness. They that are washen, are still bewailing, that they again contract so much defilement. The most purified christians are they that are most sensible of their impurity. Therefore I called not this an universal freedom from pollution, but an universal detestation of it: They that are thus pure are daily defiled with many sins, but they cannot be in love with any sin at all, nor do they willingly dispense with the smallest sins, which a natural man either sees not to be sin (though his dim moonlight discover grosser evils) or if he do see them, yet he judges it too much niceness to chuse a great inconvenience rather than a little sin. Again they differ in another particular, a natural man may be so far in love with virtue after his manner, as to dislike his own faults and resolve to amend them, but yet he would think it a great weakness to sit
"Prov, xxx. 12.
down and mourn for sin, and to afflict his soul, as the scripture speaks. The christian's repentance goes not so lightly, there is a great deal more work in it. There is not only indignation against impurity, but it proceeds to revenge. The saints, we read of in scripture, were ashamed of their impurity, but never of their tears for it. Let the world enjoy their own thoughts and account it folly; yet sure the christian, that delights in purity, seeing he cannot be free from daily sin, when he retires himself at night, is then best contented when his eyes serve him most plentifully to weep out the stains of the by-past day; yet he knows withal, that it is only his Redeemer's blood that takes away the guilt of them. This is the condition of those that are truly, though not yet fully cleansed from the pollutions of the world by the spirit of wisdom and purity. What mean they then, that would argue themselves out of this number, because they find yet much dross left, and that they are not so defecated and refined as they would wish to be? On the contrary, this hatred of pollution testifies strongly that the contrary of it, purity, is there; and though its beginnings be small, doubt not, it shall in the end be victorious; the smoaking of this flax shews indeed that there is gross matter there, but it witnesseth likewise that there is fire in it too; and though it be little, we have Christ's own word for it, that it shall not be quenched; and if he favour it, no other power shall be able to quench it. You find not indeed absolute holiness in your persons, nor in your best performances, yet if you breathe and follow after it, if the pulse of the heart beat thus, if the main current of your affection be towards purity, if sin be in you as your disease and greatest grief, and not as your delight, then take courage you are as pure as travellers can be; and notwithstanding that impure spirit, Satan, and the impurity of your own spirits vex you daily with
* 2 Cor. vii. 11.
temptations, and often foil you, yet in despite of them all, you shall arrive safe at home where perfection dwells.
Wisdom from above is pure.] Be ashamed then of your extreme folly, you that take pleasure in any kind of uncleanness, especially seeing God hath reformed and purged his house amongst us: You that are, or should be his living temples, remain not unreformed; if you do, church-reformation will be so far from profiting you, that, as a clearer light, it will but serve to make your impurity both more visible and more inexcusable. you mean that the Holy Ghost should dwell with you, entertain him, avoiding both spiritual and fleshly pollutions. The word here used doth more particularly signify chastity; and certainly wherever this wisdom from above is, this comely grace is one of her attendants. Whatever any have been in times past, let all be persuaded henceforth to mortify all lustful and carnal affections; know that there is more true and lasting pleasure in the contempt of unlawful pleasures, than in the enjoyment of them. Grieve not then the good Spirit of God with actions or speeches, yea or with thoughts, that are impure. The unholy soul, like the mystical Babylon, makes itself a cage of unclean birds, and an habitation of filthy spirits; and if it continues to be such, it must, when it dislodges, take up its habitation with cursed spirits for ever in utter darkness. But as for those that are sincerely and affectionately pure, that is, pure in heart, our Saviour hath pronounced their begun happiness, Blessed are they that are pure in heart; and assured them of full happiness, for they shall see God. This wisdom is sent from Heaven on purpose to guide the elect thither by the way of purity. And mark how well their reward is suited to their labour, their frequent contemplating and beholding of God's purity as they could, while they were on their journey, and y Apoc. xiii.
their labouring to be like him, shall bring them to sit down in glory, and to be for ever the pure beholders of that purest object, They shall see God. What this is we cannot tell you, nor can you conceive it: But walk heavenwards in purity, and long to be there, where you shall know what it means; for you shall see him as he is.
Now to that blessed Trinity be praise for ever.
Will return to my place (saith the Lord by his Prophet) till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me early. The Father of Mercies hides himself from his children, not to lose them, but that they may seek him, and may learn, having found him, to keep closer by him than formerly. He threatens them, to keep them from punishment: if his threatening work submission, it is well; if not, he punishes them gently, to save them from destruction. He seeks no more, but that they acknowledge their offence, and seek his face. Wonderful clemency! For who can forbear to confess multitudes of offences that know themselves? And who can choose but seek thy face, that ever saw thy face, and that know thee? In their affliction they will seek me early. He that prays not till affliction comes and forces him to it, is very slothful; but he that prays not in affliction, is altogether senseless. Certainly they that at this time are not more than ordinary fervent in prayer, or do not at least desire and strive to be so, cannot well think that there is any spiritual life within them. Sure it is high time to stir up ourselves to prayers and tears. All may bear arms in that kind of service. Weak women may be strong in prayer; and those tears, wherein they usually abound upon other occasions, cannot be so well spent as this way. Let them not run out in howlings and impatience, but bring them, by bewailing sins, private as well as publick, to quench this publick fire. And ye men, yea, ye men of courage, account it no disparage
a Hos. v. 15.