This is a biblical counseling text from the 17th century.
Here’s what I’ve been working on. I’ll put this up as a pdf with formatting and such when it is completed (at present the bolds, italics, et cetera will not show up in the post). The original text from 1637 is 244 pages long. Below, you will find the first 76 pages. The formatting, chapter headings and such have been added. I have also slightly modernized the text (rather than “speaketh” I have “speaks”).
Brief Directions Onto a Godly Life:
Wherein every Christian is furnished with most necessary helps for the furthering of him in a godly course here upon earth, that he so may attain eternal happiness.
Written by Mr. Paul Bayne, minister of God’s Word,
to Mr. Nicholas Jordane, his brother.
Printed by A.G. for I.N. and are to be sold by Samuel Enderby
at the Starre in Pope’s Head Alley, 1637
The Epistle Dedicatory
To the right worshipful, Mr. Nicholas Jordane, Esquire, and one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace and Quorum, in the County of Suffolk’s,
It has been an ancient custom to reserve some lively representation of worthy friends deceased, to thereby continue the remembrance of their virtues, persons, and love. This holy treatise ensuing has served you to that purpose, and that very fitly; for herein you have a true representation and remembrance of your most worthy and loving brother, especially of the most noble and worthy part of it, I mean of his excellent understanding of the mystery of godliness, his most zealous and earnest will and desire of all men’s practice of godliness; and a sincere love unto you in particular, unto whom he primarily directed these directions onto a godly life; which as they do lively express that he had put on the new man, created and renewed in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. So it is most worthy of our reservation, both in the remembrance in imitation of him. Yea, I confidently affirm, that this faithful remembrance is most worthy and fit always to be carried about us, and daily to be looked upon by us: for it will help us well to put on that new man, and to be conformable to our head Jesus Christ, and to walk before the Lord in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. For there is this difference between those former corporeal images of earthly bodies and this that men with too much love and use of them, easily fell into superstitious wickedness; but this the more it is loved and used of man, the more will all wickedness be rooted out of their hearts, and the more will they glorify God by a holy life and conversation [conversation means the sum total of on’s conduct] having received this holy treatise at your worship’s hands to publish unto to the world, I am bold to return it unto you for safeguard, both that the world may know unto whom it is obliged for so excellent a monument, as also for the great benefit that shall be reaped thereby. So, Sir, accounting it a wise part in him that cannot speak well, to say but little; I commend you and this treatise to God’s grace which is able to build us up further, even to do wondrously above all that we can ask or think.
Your Worship’s humbly at command,
PART ONE: The trouble of this world is sin; redemption by God in Jesus Christ is the only solution. Therefore, our chief goal must be to obtain that salvation by faith. We must distinguish true faith from false – and then lay hold upon the grace to be had in full assurance of God’s love for us. For such faith “is the root and ground of a godly life.”
CHAPTER ONE: OUR PROBLEM IS SIN
The trouble of humanity is sin. Redemption in Christ is the only answer. However, not all have true faith which lays hold on redemption. At times the trouble lies with poor pastors who do not do their job. Some trouble lies with the people who will not hear with faith.
Sure it is, that it was not thus with mankind in the beginning as now it is.
God created man happy, yet mutable [subject to change, able to change]; but Satan by deceit did cast him from that happy condition; whereby besides the loss of that felicity, he was plunged into extreme misery, which consists in two things.
First, in sin.
Second, the curse following upon it.
The Scope of Our Trouble
First, sin is not only that first transgression of Adam whereby we are all guilty, but also that infection of soul and body arising from the former. Hence it is that the understanding is filled with blindness; the conscience wounded, seared and defiled; the memory forgetting good things, or not remembering anything right.
The will captive, of no strength to good but only to evil; the affections altogether disordered. The cogitations about heavenly matters are error, falsehood, and lies. The wishes and desires of the heart are earthly and fleshly. The outward behavior is nothing else but a giving up of the members of the body as instruments of sin.
The curse makes them subject in this life for his use of the creatures to dearths, famine, etc. For his body, to sickness and other pains.
In his sense for his friends to like calamities; in his soul to vile affections, to blindness, hardness of heart, desperation, madness, etc. And both body and soul to endless and easeless torture in the world to come.
Objection: All are not in this case or estate.
Answer: All are subject by nature to the same wrath of God. They which feel it not, that case is no better, but rather worse than the other.
The Only Remedy
The only sufficient remedy for the saving of man is to satisfy God’s justice, which by sin is violated. His justice is satisfied by suffering the punishment due to the sin and by present keeping of the Law. Therefore it is not to be sought from ourselves, nor in any other creature. It was appointed by the Father, was undertaken and wrought by Christ, and sealed in men’s heart by the Holy Ghost: but it may be demanded:
Objection: How did Christ’s redemption become ours; I answer:
Answer: God the Father of his infinite love gave him freely to us, with all his whole work of redemption. The divine mystery is brought to light by the gospel. The use whereof is to manifest that righteousness in Christ, whereby the law is fully satisfied, and salvation attained.
The remedy of the tidings of it is received only by faith, which faith is so to give credit to God’s Word, revealing this mercy and truth of God: and by these, the Holy Ghost enlightening him to conceive, drawing him to believe, and so uniting came to Christ.
Knowledge that Transforms
The knowledge of the former things is not sufficient for him that will come to happiness: but this knowledge works.
First, he is drawn by the secret work of the Spirit of God, to be persuaded that the doctrine taught does concern him. He has wisdom given to him to apply general things particularly to himself: Colossians 1:9. First, the preaching of the law, and the threat curses of it; whereby he sees himself guilty before God of eternal punishment and wrath.
Secondly, the Lord directs him to enter into further consideration with himself, of it about his present estate, and counsels what to do in this extremity — and that not lightly, but seriously, as a matter of life and death. Jeremiah 8:6; Luke 7:15.
Thirdly, from the former consultation, he comes to this resolution, that he will not return to his old ways, but in all humility and meekness and brokenness of heart say with Paul; Lord what do you wish that I do?
Fourthly, by this means he comes to an unfeigned desire of forgiveness, which always proceeds from a found hope that God will be entreated of him. This hungering after mercy and longing after Christ is very earnest and fervent, though in some with more timorousness than in others. This makes the gospel to be glad tidings and the feet of them that bring it to be beautiful to him.
Fifthly, with earnest, humble, and particular confession of his sins, he pours out prayers to God for the pardon of them in Christ.
Sixthly, he having found out this pearl, prizes it as it is worth: and therefore sells all that he has, and bids farewell to his sweetest delights for the attaining of it; which affection is not for a moment, but is written as it were with the point of the diamond, never to be razed out again.
Seventhly, then he comes to apply the gospel to himself as before he did the law, and seals up his salvation in his heart, reasoning from those gracious promises which God has made to such as he.
Thus by often and deep weighing the truth, unchangeableness and perpetuity of the promises, he comes at length to be settled in faith. This faith unites him to Christ, and brings it to happiness. It is wrought inwardly by the Spirit, while men obey God’s ordinance in the hearing of the Word, the outward means of salvation.
The Marks of True Faith
Now the marks of faith to be seen in the believer by himself or others are:
First, if he strives against doubting, Judges 6:17.
Second, if not feeling faith, he complains bitterly of the lack of it.
Third, if he seeks fervently to be settled in believing.
Fourth, if he desires to search out this sin which may possibly hinder him and endeavor expel it.
Why Do Some Not Come To Faith or Godliness?
The main cause why so many do lack of faith is the devil’s bewitching and blinding of men, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Wherein man’s fault is that he opens his ears, and gives credit to Satan’s deceitful suggestions.
For the preventing therefore of this danger, the Lord has given watchmen to warn the people of the peril. The reason therefore why men do not avoid it, is either in the minister — that he does not warn them a right – or else in the people, that they do not receive it.
In the Ministers:
First, if they teach not at all.
Second, if they teach seldom.
Third, if they teach, but not plainly to the capacity of the hearer.
Fourth, if by catechizing they do not teach the grounds of faith in right and good order.
Fifth, if they be not ready by private conference to satisfy their doubts.
Sixth, if they have not a Christian care of giving good example by a holy and blameless life.
Ministers must consider their duty laid forth:
First, by titles as watchmen, laborers (Matthew 9:37); salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14); shepherds (Job 21:15); good scribes (Matthew 13); stewards (first Corinthians 4:1); nurses (1Thessalonians 2:7).
Secondly, in commandments (Acts 20:28; 2 Timothy 4:2). For their better encouragements, they must consider:
The honor vouchsafed to them, to be God’s ambassadors.
The comfort of this labor.
The good that they may do.
The great reward prepared for them, Daniel 12:3.
The hindrances that are the people:
First, if they esteem lightly of the gospel, preferring other things before it.
Secondly, if they imagine that it is an impossible thing to get assurance of salvation in this life
Thirdly, if they think assurance of salvation , while not impossible, yet is not in anyway necessary.
Fourthly, if they think assurance of salvation both possible and necessary, but to hard to come by.
Fifthly, if they be careless and ignorant.
Sixthly, if for fear of losing other pleasures, they forbear to seek assurance of salvation.
Seventhly, if they presume on their faith, living still in their sins.
Eighthly, if there were never thorough brokenness of heart prepared to receive the gospel.
Ninthly, if for fear of not continuing, they will not begin.
Tenthly, if they do work upon themselves, but to deal lightly with matters of salvation.
Eleventhly, if they content themselves with sudden flashes but soon are out and do not seek to be settled.
A warning as to false faith
A naked and bare desire of salvation now and then stirred up in a man is not true faith.
First, true desire cannot be satisfied without it, and therefore gives not over till it obtain it.
Secondly, it makes high account of it, as of a precious faith; and the valuing of it according to the worthiness of it: He seeks willingly and readily. He settles his heart upon the promises of God. He meditates on God’s commandments, so that he should believe them; by these means he comes to be settled. When this is done, he must beware of all occasions that may unsettle him. Again, especially that he does not give too much place to fleshly reasons of carnal doubtings nor hearken to evil suggestions.
CHAPTER TWO: THE WEAKNESS WHICH HARMS TRUE CHRISTIANS
True Christians may still have doubts; yet God does use these doubts for his good purpose. The true Christian must understand that our growth takes place over time, and that God is full of mercy. Moreover, we must understand that such doubts do not come from God. Finally, we must not distrust God’s grace even when we do not subjectively feel such grace.
Because the children of God after they have believed are often drawn from their hold, and cause to suspect themselves, and to so fall into much fear in doubting that they are none of the Lord’s, they must therefore learn to strengthen themselves thus:
First, they must know that in God there is no shadow of change, and therefore it is their weakness to entertain such thoughts, Psalm 77:13. For he ought not to cast away his confidence, Hebrews 10:35.
Second, he may persuade himself that he laboring after, and going to rest his weary heart on the promises of God, shall never be wholly forsaken, though sometimes destitute of feeling.
Question: Now if any ask, Why does God suffers children to fall to such fears? It is this:
Answer: Lest by a sudden absolute change, they should become secure or presumptuous.
Third, they must know that the root of our comfort is not in the strength of our Christian life, but of the free grace of God in Christ. And therefore, the weakness there and ought not to bring us into doubting of our salvation. It may be weak, but it shall never be extinguished; for he that his newborn can never die.
Fourth, they must call to mind that they may it be yet children, subject to many diseases, and some of those, such as may take away sense of life. This must move us not to despair, but to seek with all diligence for the cure: whereas if any object:
Be Assured: We Have Good Hope of Mercy
Objection: many of the faithful are brought to that pass, that being persuaded that they are reprobates, or near onto desperation; they have a sense of God’s wrath, and are in great anguish of conscience: how shall they stay themselves in this estate?
First, they may be assured of this, they are not without hope of mercy, because they have not sinned against the Holy Ghost; for they have not bullishly set themselves against the truth of God, they have not willfully persecuted against their conscience, but do love the same desire to be partakers of it.
Satan and Doubt
Second, they must learn to know from whom this delusion comes, even from Satan who labors either to wring their hope from them, or else to weary their lives with heaviness and discomfort. This he attempts:
By spiritual suggestion, he being a spirit, and help also with long experience which he has had of this trade, and therefore fit. He being also full of malice, and of unsearchable subtlety, with exceeding strength, and therefore ready thus trouble us. Thus he incites us to sins, not only which by nature we love, but even to those which we have no inclination onto. And when Satan has thus fastened upon many of man, that he labors to dim his knowledge and understanding, that he may laid no hold on any truth to comfort them, or make benefit of any promise.
By outward objects and occasions forcibly persuading to sin. Now because these things proceed rather from Satan than from themselves, there is no cause why they should be discouraged.
They must call to mind that God calls and encourages us to trust and believe in him; and therefore it must displease God that they are removed from their faith, to give place to the spirit of error.
When We Cannot Feel Grace
Objection: And how if they feel not the sweet taste of God’s grace?
Yet they must not measure themselves by what they presently feel, when the soul has lost her feelings; but by the time passed, when they were free from temptation.
The fruits of their faith are often evident the eye of others, when they themselves cannot see them.
They must be acquainted with the ways of God, who often does hide himself for a season, but they may with more earnest desire seek for his wonted grace, and with more joyfulness of heart praise him when they have obtained it again. And if this hinder them because
Objection: They cannot live as God’s children do, or as he requires; they are to be encouraged herewith:
Answer: They are plants which take not their full perfection at once but little by little with daily watering and dressing: and that Patience and consistency with a resolute mind to bear God’s trial will bring a good end in all temptation.
CHAPTER THREE: THE LIMITS OF UNBELIEF
Unbelievers may show many signs in common with true Christians such conscience for sin, and reverence to outward religion – even a kind of repentance. Assurance cannot rest merely on such outward considerations. True faith goes much deeper.
That every Christian may see his estate to be good, it shall be profitable to consider how far an unbeliever may go; and so whether he hath gone further.
First, the unbeliever may be terrified with the sins, his conscience terrified by the spirit of bondage, Matthew 27:3.
Second, he may be pensive after sin committed, 1 Kings 21:7.
Third, he may find joy and delight in the gospel, and of the exercises of religion, Matthew 13:20.
Fourth, he may have a taste of the life to come with Balaam.
Fifth, he may reverence the ministers and obey them in many things as Herod it, and it never be sealed up to eternal life. Many that have made great and glorious shows and seem to have been very forward, have after either in prosperity waxed wanton, or an affliction weary. Nay, many which have shined as lights for a season have fallen away even before trouble came.
Many have had great grief of mind, and so seem onto themselves to have repented; but yet have deceived themselves, because they never furnish themselves with true faith, pure heart, a good conscience, change of their life to the love of God; their hearts are not upright, nor will they deal plainly with the Lord.
But if we would not lose all or labor, we must go further than any unrepentant person could go; we must never cease to we have more humility, sincerity and truth of heart, and certain marks and testimony of our salvation.
They will hear the gospel diligently: but we must lay our estate with it, and receive the print of it upon our hearts and lives, and be cast into the mold of it, and so find in it the power of salvation.
They will refrain from themselves, and drive out of their families many sins. But we must willingly be reformed and what part of our life soever we can be justly challenged: and not blemish our profession in anything.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE JOY AND COMFORT OF TRUE FAITH
While true faith may at times to be difficult to experience, the effects of that faith can be known. One great element of such faith is joy and comfort – which sustains us through even great trials. Means to grow and sustain such joy.
Although the love of God in Christ, the work of the Spirit applying them, and faith apprehending them, be the chief cause of our conversion, yet because they are not so easily felt of us, as they are sure and infallible grounds of themselves of salvation; therefore it is necessary to add some other of facts or other properties of true faith, to accompany the love of God, and of Christ Jesus in us; and are other works or fruits of the Holy Ghost by the Gospel, which may more clearly be perceived and discerned than faith itself; and were clearly testify that where they be, faith shall be found also.
The first inseparable companion of faith is joy and comfort, glorious and unspeakable, Acts 8:39.
But it will be said
Yet Joy is Mixed With Sorrow
Objection: Some true believers are even sad and sorrowful.
Answer: Indeed they mourn and groan for a while after that which may make then merry forever: and in this mourning they are blessed (Matthew 5:4) and their estate far to be preferred before the laughter of the ungodly which is but madness.
First, the child of God being converted cannot but admire this change of the state and even be astonished at the love and mercy of God: for what should move him to bestow such happiness upon so unworthy a creature, Job 14:22, Psalms 116:8, 139:34.
Second, this holy and reverent admiration must not be only at our first conversion, but ought every day to be renewed in the Lord, who does every day pardon our sins (Psalms 118:8) and does also uphold us in our confidence and integrity.
Third, the true believer feeling the love of God to be shed abroad in his heart, has also with in him unfeigned love kindled towards God (Psalm 116:1; Luke 7:47), which love of God must shadow the love of all other things whatsoever.
Fourth, he cannot but have his heart enlarged into thankfulness and praise God even in afflictions themselves, Psalm 116:12.
Fifth, there is begotten a holy and earnest desire to have more communion with God; even to enjoy his blessed presence and to see his glory, 2 Corinthians 5:1.
Sixth, the former grace makes him to forsake this world, to become a stranger and pilgrim, and so to have no more to do with this world that he needs must. Not that he leave the necessary duties to forsake his calling, but that he is not so tied to these things, but that he could willingly leave them, and so being ready to die, is made fit to live.
Seventh, he cannot but lament and be ashamed of his former unkindness to God, and is ready to be revenged of himself for it.
Eighth, it cannot be, but knowing out of what misery he hath escaped, unto what happiness he has attained, he pity others that already are as he was, and wish and labor to make them as he is. One means whereof is a fine conference, Proverbs 10:21.
How to Maintain Joy and Comfort
If any as taste and happiness which comes by a true faith and does therefore desire to keep the same and fears the losing of it, he must for his confirmation:
First, nourish within himself and daily that high estimation account making of his grace, he must think it is chiefest happiness and most precious treasure; which they that do, have their heart ever upon it; they fear the foregoing of it, they regard it most of all other things.
Second, he must both by prayer and daily and oft beg this of God and also seriously meditate on the gracious promises of God in nature, truth, perpetuity: for lack of this calling to mind of things, many do let slip out of their minds those grounds of faith by which sometimes they have found comfort.
Third, he must help himself by ordinary and reverent hearing the glad tidings of salvation preached unto them; as also by the holy use of the sacraments.
Fourth, he must carefully retain and a viewing of his sins by right examination; the sight of them will keep him from taking offense of the cross of Christ, nay hardness and bitterness of his sins will make Christ’s death most sweet and pleasant onto him.
Fifth, he must labor to settle himself even by the experience which he himself had found of God’s goodness towards him, and is working in him.
Sixth, he may confirm himself even by the example of others, who once weak have become strong, and of such as he is and have become such as he desires to be. By these means God’s children come to have a holy acquaintance with God, and to know his will towards them; the Lord disposing even their weakness onto their good, that they may by their falls be humbled, and God by their of holding may be glorified.
One especial thing is always to begin the day with deep consideration of God, his gracious favor towards us; which if we do not, little can be looked for in the day, but either unsavory lightness, and so to be deceived; or unprofitable care, so to be disquieted.
Excursus: Degrees of Faith
By that which has been said before, it is to be observed, that although true faith be in substance one and the same; yet there are three degrees of it.
First is the weakest and least measure, when there is a yet no assurance in the believer, and yet inseparable fruits, and infallible tokens of it.
The second degree is when with some assurance is wrought in the believer at some time, but very weak; and is often to seek and desiring and recovered again by entering into due consideration of his estate, and of the truth of God who has promised it.
The third is the highest degree of it, though more strong and better settled in some than in others; and this has assurance accompanying it for the most part usually, unless the believer quench the Spirit in himself: or the Lord (to show him that he stands by grace) does leave him to himself for his own glory, and the better establishing of him afterwards.
PART TWO: It having been showed hitherto who are true believers: it follows to show how a believer is to behave himself throughout his whole conversation [manner of life].
Wherein is to be laid down, first, the grounds of a godly life, that is, that it is grounded on faith, and proceeds from a pure heart.
The parts of it, which is to flee evil, and do good.
CHAPTER FIVE: HOW FAITH CHANGES THE HEART
True godliness flows from true faith; and true faith lays hold of all that God has said.
Godliness Rests Upon Faith
Unfeigned faith and a godly life are inseparable companions.
First, godliness cannot be without true faith, James 2:18, Hebrews 11:6, Genesis 6:5. The fountain being evil, the rivers which run from it cannot be good. So where faith is not in the heart, there can be no goodness in the life; by which we see how many deceive themselves, thinking they fear love and serve God; and yet have no faith, or constant desire of it.
Second, neither can faith be without godliness, for as no man lives godly which believes not; so no man who believes, can live wickedly; but as he is newborn, so like a new creature [he] follows newness of life and obedience; although this does not appear either at the first beginning of his conversion, nor in the vehemency of temptation, Titus 2:12.
True Faith Transforms the Life
Neither does faith work a bare wandering desire to please God, but it frames also the man onto it [faith shapes one], and teaches him in some true and acceptable measure to go about it; and when it is over matched with fleshly corruption, yet it raises signings and strivings in the heart, till it [corruption] be subdued.
So that as they are deceived which pass from a little sorrow for sin to newness of life, as they imagine, without faith (the beginning and worker of all new life). So they also are no less deluded but please themselves, thinking they have faith, when their lives are not only filled with offensive actions, but also with custom in common in the same. For he that is honored with the title of a believer, must be known by the livery of an uncorrupt life. The true servants of God dare no otherwise believe their sins to be forgiven them, then they walk humbly before God and man.
Faith Lays Hold to All the Promises of God
When faith is said to be necessary to a godly life, we must not only understand by this the “faith” to be saved. The godly man must labor to believe all the promises of this life and of life to come (whether the great and principal, as of the graces of the Spirit; or the smaller, as bodily safety and preservation from dangers so far as they shall be good for him) do belong on to him. And besides he must believe that both all the commandments (which teacher obedience) and the threatenings (because they restrain the contrary), are set down for him particularly to bind his conscience thereunto, Romans 15:4.
Thus he must attend upon the whole word of God. Many who have hoped to be saved do not thus. Some sins they make no conscience of; some promises they look not at. Therefore, they are not so well fenced as they might be; but hold the very promise of salvation itself very weakly. This comes to pass partly because they are not taught these things are right: partly because being taught, they do not digest and work upon them their consciences.
This brings doubting and unsettledness even to good Christians: therefore he that believes to be saved, must believe also that he shall be sanctified, 1 Corinthians 1:30; that he shall receive grace from God to bring forth fruits of amendment of life; and that he shall be enabled to cast off his old conversation. [He must also believe that he will] have grace to go through troubles and deliverance from them.
For assistance and blessing of God, he must depend on God’s Word; this is the obedience of faith, Romans 1:5, which if we have as a foundation to uphold and encourage us, it will greatly avail for the furthering of us in a godly course; by this we shall sooner wade through doubts, and grow out of fear; whereas otherwise we think and fear often times and be without help.
Many examples we have in the Scripture of such as thus believe, especially set down in the 11th chapter to Hebrews: Hebrews 11:16, 38; Galatians 2:19. When men do not thus walk in the strength of God his word, it causes tedious troubles in them, and indeed the offensive lives of many, and the starting aside of sundry [many persons] come from this want [lack].
Paul Complained of his Flesh – Not of Faith
Objection: But it may be objected, that Paul himself seemed to want [lack] to this, for he found no means to perform that which was good, as he complains, Romans 7:18. I answer onto that
Answer: He complains not that he had no promise of strength, or that he had no faith in the same, for he saith the contrary, Philippians 4:13. He complains that for all the hope of help that he had, yet the rebellion of his flesh did mightily striving resist the spirit. And this must every faithful man look for while he live.CHAPTER SIX: A GODLY LIFE PROCEEDS FROM A PURE HEART
The Spirit of God works to wholly transform the heart. The Spirit works faith in the heart, which produces a conscience which hates sin and savors Christ. Only a heart thus reformed can lead to a changed life.
Now for the fountain from whence a godly life does proceed, it is from the heart, which therefore must be purged and cleansed.
For this we are to know, that the heart of man, before it be emptied, is a dungeon of iniquity; before it be enlightened, a den of darkness; before it be cleansed, a puddle of filthiness: and that which St. James speaks of the tongue, may much more be said of the heart, that before it be tamed, it is an unruly evil. Now if such a heart be the guide for our life, how monstrous and loathsome must that life needs be? Of necessity then the heart must be purged and changed.
The Spirit Transforms the Heart
This purging of the heart is renewing in holiness and righteousness by little and little of all true believers, they being first delivered and freed from the tyranny of sin and fear of damnation; for then does sin receive a deadly wound, and the power thereof is abated and crucified. The change is shown by the hatred of sin and a delighting in goodness.
Although this change will be but weakness at first. Yet if it be in truth, and will, and desire, it is an infallible mark of God’s election and love towards them. This grace is dimmed and often choked in many because [they fail to seek God]. God does strengthen and continue this gift of holiness and sanctification, as it is nourished, esteemed, set by, and as men do stir it up for themselves, by asking after it when they do miss it, and provoking themselves to pray for such good affections and cannot be satisfied without them; as David did, Psalm 43:5, 103:1.
Thus we ought to cherish and blow up the sparks within us, which will not ordinarily fail us, especially for any long time — except in time of temptation, [or it result from] our default and folly.
As for the matter how this is done, we are to know what is the proper and wonderful work of God by the power of the Holy Ghost. Acts 15:9; Isaiah 11:2. He that has faith unfeigned and a heart sanctified and purified from his natural corruption and wicked disposition; as it is not to accounted being little worth, it being an evident work of the Spirit; so neither is he to stand at this stay in this, it being about the beginning of the work that shall follow it.
Faith is the Instrument Used by the Spirit
Objection: How does God purge our hearts, when faith is said to do it. Acts 15:9, 1 John 3:5.
Answer: Faith is truly said to do it: because those men not yet assured of the happiness of heaven, not knowing, nor feeling any better delights — [those men] seek after those [delights] which their blind and deceitful hearts do dream of here on earth.
But as soon as they are assured of God’s favor through faith, so soon are their hearts changed, and their affections set another way; so that faith may well be said to purify and cleanse the heart, 1 Peter 1:4; but not as the chief and highest cause, for that is the Holy Ghost. [Faith is] but as the instrument.
Thus from faith and a pure heart do arise a good conscience, a sweet peace, and holy security; having received from God a mind to know him, a heart to love him, the will to please him; and strength also in some measure acceptable to obey him.
From hence does proceed that true repentance, which is a purpose of the heart. Acts 11:23; an inclination of the will, Psalm 119:44, 57; and a continuing every in the life, Acts 24:16. Such a man will cast off all evil and obey God both inwardly and outwardly, according to the measure of knowledge and everyone.
Only True Heart Change Will Produce a Godly Life
This sound of purging of the heart is that strong foundation upon only which a good life comes to be built. For God will have our whole heart, not a piece of it, for it is neither beseeming his greatness, nor fit for them to suffer or receive so great good blessings at his hands. Many indeed are hardly brought to this, and therefore all their fair shows and colors do vanish away and come to nothing, for rash and hasty purposes are no sufficient foundation to bear up so great and weighty buildings, as the whole course of their lives to be wholly passed.
But if men at their first embracing of the gospel to give their hearts holy to the Lord, then should God have more honor, and themselves more abiding comfort.
CHAPTER SEVEN: GODLINESS IS A CONTINUAL HATRED OF SIN
Godliness shows itself in a continual (not an occasional) hatred of sin. True godliness does not show itself in self-reliance, but in a reliance of faith upon the power of God. Such a person can turn even a sinful fall into a work of grace by better learning the depth of sin in their own heart and turning ever more to Christ for help.
The Progress of Godliness
Now having shown the ground and root of the godly life, that is, faith and a pure heart; it remains to speak of the parts of it, which are renouncing of all sin and care to walk in a new life.
A Continual Hatred of Sin
The party believing is brought to this power and grace: He is out of love with all ungodliness, — not only with some part or kind — but loathes the whole course of iniquity, which was his only delight and pleasure before.
Neither does he this in some good mood only, or when some shame or danger approach, then to show some mistake of it [He does not only avoid sin when he “feels like it” or when it looks most helpful]. But in good advisement he is resolved to cast off such behavior as a loathsome ragged garment. Hosea 4:9, Ephesians 4:24, Matthew 16:24.
For want of this settled denying of ourselves, divers [many people] never attain true godliness. Some never conceiving [understanding] the doctrine, others forgetting, and some scorning it, the most receiving it coldly, and going about it preposterously.
Whereas the servants of God leave not sin for a time, nor by constraint, or for company, and fear, etc. But being at utter defiance with it, do abjure it forever. Nehemiah 10:29.
Faith and Hope to Work
But in all these [things] they trust not to their own strength, but daily consider what cause they have to do so. [First, they are] infinitely bound to God to discharge it [their duty to forsake sin]. [They also] become firmly persuaded that God who has made them willing, will also make them able to do it. Philippians 4:13, Romans 9:31. And therefore, although they see not the help present with their eyes, yet they hope for that which they see not, and therefore wait patiently for it, till it be granted [to] them.
Thus both faith and hope being nourished and strengthened in them day-to-day, they do find both the will and desire and strength (though imperfect) to accomplish the peace of their hearts, that which they set upon and attempt. Indeed it is not obtained without striving, but [that] is no just cause of discouragement for us, to take pain for so great a profit when we are sure of [our success] before we go about it.
Should We Be Discouraged if We are not Perfect
Objection What if the faithful do not always prevail therein?
Answer: As it is true that in some particulars they are overcome, yet that does not cut off all comfort for them: for howsoever they do not account light of any fall [as long as they do not think falling into sin is a small thing], yet those very falls turn to their gain afterwards: for
thereby they come to know themselves better,
their prime pride is much assuaged,
they have experience of God’s grace toward them,
and they cleave more nearer onto him after,
and are more circumspect in looking to their ways:
Remember always that this belongs only to the true believer, who having the Lord for his teacher, has become both skillful and able to do this; which the natural man (in whom is no dram of goodness) is altogether impossible.
CHAPTER NINE: THE PATTERN OF SIN
A summary of sin as ordered by the Ten Commandments.
We have seen that 1) we must renounce sin, 2) how we must renounce sin. Now we will consider the various kinds of evils which are to be renounced: inward or outward sins.
First by inward evils is not meant the native imperfection of the heart, but the fruits and effects thereof, James 1:14, Colossians 3:5, and that in such as profess religion.
Amongst these, the root of all the rest is infidelity, Hebrews 3:12. From hence grows out three arms or boughs of which every one shoots forth his branches: the innumerable worldly lusts, which are:
1. Impious against God.
2. Injurious to man.
3. Most hurtful to ourselves.
Sin Against the Honor of God
As (touching the Majesty of God) their hearts are full of blindness, covered with darkness; so it goes against them to be taught the true knowledge of the true God; it is death for them to be drawn out of their ignorance; they cannot abide to hear of his Judgment Day, Job 13, Acts 24:25.
And whereas God requires that confidence should be put in him for continual defense, deliverance and succor of soul and body; they are carried with distrust, as with the whirlwind. In adversity they are either overcome with a servile and desperate fear or are boiling with impatience, or else swelling against [in a rage against] God in obstinacy and contempt.
In prosperity there is little or no thankfulness yielded to God by them.Their rejoicing is carnal, and oftentimes they are made drunk with pleasures; they are lovers of them more than of God. Thus, they have become insensible and past all feeling.
As for the second commandment, they rebel against the spiritual and true service of God, and that which they yield him is a will-worship—even that which fantasy, custom, or fleshly wisdom teaches them, Job 21:14-15, Matthew 15:9. Many are carried by superstition and blind devotion and a false worship; and others which retain the truth, yet in the use of religious exercises, their hearts take no delight.
So also against the third commandment through the course of their private conversation [manner of life] , their hearts are altogether vain, profane and dissolute, they have no pleasure in pleasing God, though it should be their meat, drink and pastime. His most fearful judgments they pass over lightly, so far are they from expelling hypocrisy and other sins.
As for the Lord’s Sabbath and other good means appointed on the same, to season and change their hearts, they sensibly loathe them, or find no favor in them, neither is any part of their thoughts to seek any comfort by them.
Sins Against One’s Neighbor
After these we consider those unbridled worldly lusts, which carried man after the herd of their neighbor.
When irreverent contempt and obstinacy appears to be in the hearts of many against their betters, diminishing that authority and common estimation which God has given to them; so that place, years and gifts, are held in mean [low, base, something to be despised] account of them. What unfaithfulness in men to them which labor for their good and welfare either in corporal or spiritual things, etc.
How against the good of their neighbors’ souls, many do rejoice to see them, nay to make them fall into sin; what unappeasable anger, deadly hatred, and bitter seeking of revenge, there is amongst men; how readily occasions are taken in thinking evil of others, how lightly men esteem of hurting others: how almost none will with Abraham (Genesis 13:8) give up their rights to avoid dissension; how there is no meekness or mildness to forbear others, no burying of offenses, no pacifying of wrath, no fellow feeling of misery [no sympathy for others].
How men let loose their hearts to filthy and unclean thoughts and desires, how they are inflamed through every object that pleases them; how they delight to blow up those burning lusts, by unclean talk; and to feed their adulterous eyes by wanton spectacles, and resort to those places, where they may be incensed by all provocations, etc.
What greedy and insatiable desire there is of gain for other men’s goods, though it be by deceit and wrong; what repining at [envy of] other men’s gettings [property], what the piling and fleecing, oppression and usury in all estates.
How rare those are the take well and interpret in the better part, things done are spoken doubtfully [those who listen charitably and assume the best about others]. What mistakes, suspicions, surmises do arise against our brethern, even as Saul against David and Jonathan.
1 Samuel 22:8. Also what deriding there is by both word and writing, what slanders and reproaches, etc.
And lastly, how their desires tend not to good, neither lead them to God; but are for the most part taken up in wishing somewhat of their neighbor’s property to their hurt.
The Swarm of Sin
The evils also that concern themselves, are neither few nor small: an abundance of outward things, setting our hearts of them in delighting excessively even in the abuse of them, and enjoying beyond measure things transitory, which is the very pride of life.
Contrarily, fretting, murmuring and vexing themselves when they fall into extremity, or unto frowardness and sullenness when they are crossed or displeased; deceiving themselves with desires of things unprofitable; troubling themselves with curious meddling in things impertinent; blindfolding themselves with foolish love of themselves, etc.
The lusts wherewith the hearts of men do swarm and are even burdened and loaded, may easily persuade us, that it is divine power and grace from above that must purge these and such like unsavory drafts out of them.
CHAPTER TEN: STRIVING AND ASSURANCE
Striving with sin; the need for grace; the importance of assurance.
And yet these and many other such like [temptations] are renounced as they come to be known of God’s servants and resisted, according to the wisdom which God has given them (although in others they rule and reign), and the obtaining of grace for this, as a special part of Christianity. Ephesians 4:22.
Striving is a Sign of Life
So that he that exercises himself in observing both his soul and shameful lusts — when he has been led away, deceived by them, which of them do most trouble him, and oftest prevail with him — and so by the helps which God has given him, to resist them, though but weakly and imperfectly, he need not doubt but that he is occupied in the godly life.
Thus all God’s children do renounce and overcome their wickedness, though not all in the same measure. Yet even the weakest hate and strive against sin, when it is seen and perceived.
All are not so meek as Moses (Numbers 12:13); so faithful as Abraham; so continent is Joseph (Genesis 39); so zealous as David; nor so full of love is the woman in the gospel (Luke 7:47). Yet those that be behind others (so it be a truth that they endeavor) are not to be discouraged, for all believers have not their part of the same degree of mortification: some receive 30 fold, some 60, some a hundred. Indeed those who are most of all troubled for being behind others, do declare plainly, that they love the grace that they mourn for, and hate deadly the corruption which they complaining cry out of.
Those Who do not Fight
Now those who do not mourn their sins, but rather willingly suffer themselves to be ruled and led by their lusts can no ways claim any part of a godly life. For he that is so minded, could not be but carnal, estranged from God, and a bondman of hell.
Comfort for the Faltering Christian
But the Christians that strive against temptations, and see them decline in their measure, may comfort themselves on these three special graces.
1. That they have a clear knowledge of their salvation.
2. That they account it as their chief treasure.
3. That they be settled forward in some plain in a good course of life, whereby they grow in faith, and the obtaining of God, though with some striving.
But if they walk destitute of any of these three, they shall be snared much with fear and unquietness. These therefore, must be earnestly labored for, being of all things most necessary to be learned of such as have obtained already to the knowledge of true happiness by Jesus Christ. If a man knows nothing profitable of the salvation before he believes; then after he believes, he knows nothing profitably to grow on with comfort is Christian course — unless without these three matters are faithfully and carefully looked unto and preserved.
Why Does God Not Sometimes Give Us More Grace?
As for the greater increase of faith, knowledge, strength against sin, comfort and suchlike fruits of the Spirit, sometime the Lord does withhold them, either because he sees them in some respect not to be good for us in the present (2 Corinthians 1:9), or else to try us [to make a trial of our faith], whether we love them so well, that we will seek after [these fruits of the Spirit when we do not have them].
But for the most part, if we grow not, it is most justly to be imputed to our own fault as to our own ignorance, sloth, favoring of ourselves and sin. Or, if these be not the causes, then it is our own timorousness and unbelief, fearing that such graces we desire shall not be given to us; whereas we ought to believe.
God Will Provide
Neither need we fear lest by believing this we should be too presumptuous, for God has promised it, commanded us to trust in him. James 1:6. And if we fail not in using the means, staying upon the Lord by faith, assuredly he will not fail nor disappoint us; but we shall have grace to guide our feet, to rise when we are fallen, returned when we are stepped out of the way, and to walk in most sweet safety under God’s protection, all the day. Deuteronomy 33:12. And finally, our gain shall be such as shall cause us to marvel at God’s goodness, and giving us more than we have asked.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE THREE LEVELS OF THE GROWTH OF GRACE
The nature of spiritual maturation.
Objection: A question may here be raised: How the minds and hearts of the believers are taken up [in temptation] usually seeing they renounce outward lusts?
Answer: Their thoughts are according to their divers [various stages of] growth and ages, which are three.
The highest degree as of old age, or the experienced estate which yet is not the perfect age of Christ (for that shall not fall us to the life to come) but a firm, constant, and settled going on to that perfection.
The second is the middle-age in Christianity, in which like young men wrestling, we have courage against our sinful lusts; but yet like on to them who have many foils, we are oftentimes cooled in our courage, though we sometimes prevail, ever-growing, though slowly.
The third is childhood or infancy, the lowest in the last. That which is principally discerned by an earnest desire of the sincere milk of the word, namely, of the promises of forgiveness of sins; which although some of these dear children of God cannot with full assurance laid hold of; yet this their hungry desire after it (which cannot be satisfied without it) with a sensible fear to offend God, is a true sign thereof.
Those of Long Experience
The first sort are such as through long experience and much acquaintance with the practice of a godly life have obtained grace to guide themselves more constantly than others, and to keep within bounds. They are much freed from this bondage, and seldom so grossly succumb to a corrupt lust as others: which estate, though it would be aimed at by all godly people, yet it is not obtained but of such as have accustomed their minds to the heavenly course, and to whom good meditations and thoughts to shun and avoid evil are become a pleasure; and who understand the content of the commandments so that they can discern the good from evil.
Now those who have their minds usually set up on some-one or other of the infinite [perfect, eternal] heavenly instructions, which from time to time [continually] have treasured up in their hearts. Whereby, though they be not quickened up [changed] as they have desired, or desire to be, yet they are held [back from] much evil.
They often consider God’s unutterable kindness, of man’s mortality, the momentary estate of all things under the sun, the blessed estate of the elect, the endless woe of the damned and suchlike. They are often beholding and meditating on God, his majesty, power, wisdom, eternity, justice, patience and long-suffering, and of his care for them.
But a great part of their daily thought is this, how they may have a good conscience at all things pleasing God, and how they may be prepared for the cross; also how they may hold constantly the profession of their hope onto the end with joy; how they may resist all occasions of evil; what lets [hindrances] they shall find from without and within. And lastly, how they may order well their particular actions and their callings, that they may make a good account at the end of the day, and so at the last end [the final judgment].
Thus the first sort are exercised, yet not wholly free from evil thoughts, and vain desires, for not even Paul was freed from such. 2 Corinthians 12:19, Romans 7:24. And God will make them see their weakness from time to time, especially to subdue pride in them, and to hold them under.
The Young Men
The second sort compared to young men, are neither so experienced in Christianity as the fathers, nor yet utterly unacquainted therewith, as the newborn babes.
These are especially occupied and fighting against temptations, and resisting unruly lusts. Joel 2:4. For knowing by the light of the Scriptures what corruptions they have in themselves, they watch their hearts urgently; they pray against their corruptions often and earnestly; they are always in fear lest they should be overcome, and casting [searching for] how they may avoid the occasions of sin. And sin becomes odious onto them, yet not ever [finally] overcoming [corruptions].
They are often unsettled and distempered; often renewing the covenant with the Lord to please him better; sometimes discouraged, but they rise again, glad to use all good helps, both public and private, and having prevailed against greater corruptions, are earnestly set against the smaller, and such is seem less dangerous, such as the idle rovings of their brain which do not directly so much carry them after evil as hinder them from good
They are continue to suffer from some infirmities. But God permits this that they may be more humble and not forget what they were in times past.
And so we see that the second age and growth in Christianity is a striving betwixt fear and hope, sorrow and joy – rather than superiority over unruly affections. It is an estate standing in need of counsel and help, rather than fitted and experienced to counsel, direct and settle others: but the more sure they be of their salvation, the more expert they should be in the battle.
The Little Children
The third sort compared to little children, who hang up on the breast and do labor for knowledge of their Father in Christ, and desire the means of their spiritual nourishment. 1 Peter 2:2. Their thoughts are taken up in these things, and their keeping themselves that they may not offend or displease their Father. They are cheerful while their small faith is held up by cleaving to the promise.
And since they will be uncheerful when their faith fails –- they must be careful of two perils.
The first is, lest upon pretense of seeking continuance of comfort, they neglect their lawful business; for Satan appears as an angel of light.
The second, when they lack the comfort of assurance, they be driven to any distrust or desperate fear; for so the devil appears as a roaring lion.
These must grow daily out of their childishness, mortifying all such faults as are in them – purging such from them. With these children, the Lord deals most kindly, not showing them all their corruptions at once, which were enough to dismay them; or how many afflictions abide them [are in wait for them] which would likely overwhelm them.
With us we may see in these three degrees, have for the most part the purged hearts of God’s children are taken up; the weakest of which do far differ from the secretive hypocrite.
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE SINS OF THE MERE PROFESSORS AND THE GODLY
There are those who profess Christ, but by their deeds they deny Him — four types. The godly also sin: and how the sins of the godly differ.
Thus having spoken of the inwards lusts and sins of the heart, and showed how they are disliked and renounced of all believers: the like is to be shown of outward sins of the life, that they be abhorred and shunned also: which is the rather to be considered, because many boast they have true hearts to God, if their lives are wicked. But to rejoice either about their salvation, or the goodness of their heart when if their behavior be stained with outward wickedness, and their holy profession blemished with open in shameful sin, then their boast is vain.
None can be truly godly who does not endeavor to walk free from offensive evils (if he knows them to be sins). This can be seen throughout Scripture: 1 Samuel 4:7, Hosea 14:9, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 2:20, James 1:25; Romans 6:2. By example, Joseph, Genesis 39:10, Moses, Hebrews 11:24, Zacheus, Luke 19:2, of the sinful woman, Luke 7:37.
They plainly showed that they believed in Christ, because they came to forsake sins which by nature they loved and by custom they had long lain in; they did this even though the sin was pleasant unto them.
Those Who Will Not Utterly Renounce Sin
Notwithstanding the former doctrine be most plain for Scripture and reason, yet there are many that hope for salvation, and yet renounced not open sins, and outward offenses.
These are referred to four sorts.
The Gross Offender
The first are gross offenders. They show their hypocrisy by open and repeated evil. They may profess Christianity, but they consider it to be of little worth. Their constant wickedness causes them to think poorly of all others – and to become hardened and blinded in their own sin. Now such hardness of heart and lack of conscience evidences God’s judgment – especially when they continue to make some sort of profession of godliness and at the same time show no evidence of change in their heart. 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
The Completely Careless
The second sort are such as being rude and ignorant, or altogether careless; flattering themselves in that gross and brutish estate, who have many speeches also suitable for their lives, which lay open their hearts to all.
The Occasionally Conforming
The third sort are those who because they keep within some civil course of honesty, and are free from gross crimes, think themselves to be in a very good estate – even though their open faults be many.
Some of these (as also of the former) are sometimes pricked in their conscience for sin, or rather for punishment of it. Exodus 9:27. They may show some change in life. Mark 6:19, Hosea 6:4, Micah 6:6. They will sometimes make vows and covenants to do well. Psalm 78:36. They will sharply reprove others. Psalm 50:16. They have some sudden flashes of grace, and yet do lack true godliness. Therefore, they have their sentence pronounced by their Savior. Matthew 22:31 & 5:20.
The Censorious “Brother”
The fourth sort of professors are such who think well of themselves due to their seeming zeal. Yet, they cannot brook or abide any other that differ from them in judgment. They are taunters, railers and slanderers of their brothers. Yea, most sharp and uncharitable and proud censurers of their brothers and betters; who are so soon ripe in their own conceit, that none is meet or sufficient to teach them. Titus 3:1-2.
The life thus led is not the life which God requires, neither are those works which faith affords. So that howsoever God gathers his elect out of all these kinds, yet are none of them will be accounted as his, while their hearts abide stained with such corruptions, or their lives defiled with such treachery.
The Godly Do Have Faults
Against this that has been said, some will be objecting in asking, Why such differences made of men? Have the godly no faults? Are they without infirmities? Are they not like unto other men sinning [don’t they sin like other men?]. If it be so, why should they be shoaled [differentiated or distinguished as a group] from the others?
I answer, that as for differences of men, they are put by the Lord himself in name, conversation [manner of life], and reward. Psalms 1:2 & 50:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.
The end of the ministry is to shoal [separate] God’s elect and beloved ones from the world, and to bring them to his sheepfold.
The Godly Differ in How They Respond
Where is it demanded, if they be not partakers of the same sins that other men are? It cannot be denied, but the godly are somewhat infected with common corruptions, living where Satan lives. And further, it is possible they may also lie in the same loathsomeness for season.
But yet so, as it appears plainly, that they were not given over like wicked men: for when they come to themselves again, we see how strangely they are amazed at their own offense, how they tremble to think what they have done, and can have no peace within themselves till they return home again after they are gone out of the way, and so are made more vigilant and wary against the like another time. The which of the wicked cannot be said.
Why the Godly Sin?
Besides the falls of the godly are but when they are securer and take liberty onto themselves. 2 Samuel 11:4. Sin comes for the godly when they fail to fence themselves and as they are charged. Hebrews 4:1 & 3:12. As for reproachful and flagitious falls, we must know that it is possible for us to be preserved from them. 1 Peter 5:10. So was Enoch, Abraham, Caleb, and Joshua, with many others; but yet as many rare and servants of God have fallen into shameful sins, so may we: God suffers his servants to fall so dangerously for these causes.
Why God Permits the Godly to Sin.
For the humbling of them.
That they see his exceeding bountifulness and pardoning so great sins, and so love him the more, Luke 7:47, John 21:15.
That others far weaker than they, yet faithful, may be encouraged to believe that their sin shall be pardoned, and their weak service accepted by God. 1 Timothy 1:16. Without such an example of repentance, they might otherwise be discouraged. Out of these cases, if we hold fast to faith and stand upon our watch, we need not fear falling, for God takes no pleasure to cast them down who desire to stand, but to raise them up who are fallen. Psalms 130:3. To help our weakness, he supply our wants, and to deliver us from such dangers as we fear, so far as it is expedient; or else he makes us able to bear them.
The Infirmity of Sin Continues
Now concerning infirmities, it must be granted, that because they have still a body of sin within them, they must needs be subject to infirmities, and this is properly a sin of infirmity, When partly of [deficient] knowledge and more through frailty, an offenses is wrought to the displeasing of God: and when such a one is committed – even though he does not wish it to be so – yet because the power of corruption at that time is greater in him the strength of grace, therefore he was forced to yield to it.
It is in this that the godly do much differ from all wicked:
for it is their greatest care that they may not fall,
the greatest sorrow when they are overcome,
their greatest joy, when they do prevail over sins;
none of which are to be found in the wicked.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: CONTINUALLY WATCH YOUR HEART
Transformation requires a continual watchfulness over our own heart.
The heart thus purged, as has before been shown, does require great care for the keeping of it still in good plight [in a good state] afterwards. Proverbs 4:23. This is done by watching, trying, and purging.
We must watch, lest we should for the want [lack] thereof be deceived with the baits of sin. We must examine and try it, because no man can watch so carefully, but that much evil will creep in. And we must purge out that filthy dross of concupiscence [lust, sinful sexual desire] which we find by examining, but it set not our will on fire, to satisfy and perform the desires thereof. Psalm 119:9.
We May Gain Power Over Our Will & Affections
This indeed is no idle work; for he that goes about it must be content and glad to wean his heart from many unprofitable and wondering thoughts and desires: and so season them with holy and heavenly meditations. But we may see by Scripture (Psalm 32:4-6, Hebrews 10:38) and by experience (not withstanding our affections be strong, unruly, and most hardly subdued) with what ease we may renounce and forsake them, and have power over our will and appetites, when our heart speeds us renewed and kept mastered: whereas the little acquaintance and ill governing of the heart, by letting it loose to folly, wondering and needless fantasies [an imagination, not necessarily pleasurable], is that which causes it to be surfeited with all manner of iniquity.
We Must Continually Look to Our Hearts
Again, if our hearts be not plus carefully looked onto, we shall not have them ready to any duty. And hence it is, but many men’s hearts are swarming usually with vain thoughts, even while they are hearing and praying, because they do not constantly throughout the day watch over them.
For the only way to curb our lusts is to look our hearts. By looking to our hearts, we shall not only have help in furtherance to worship God aright, but in our common actions, affairs and business, we should so behave ourselves as would be a joy to those that should behold us; and we would be an ornament and beauty to the gospel which we do profess.
Thus, we ought to look to our hearts in all that we do, both keeping out evil that would enter, and purging out that which by stealth shall creep in, and not by fits only, when the good mood takes us (which as it is too common, so it is most dangerous) but always. Psalm 1:2, Ephesians 5:16. Which if we shall do, although our hearts being purified and cleansed but in part, our desires and therefore cannot be all good and pleasing to God. Our hearts will be imperfect and many of our thoughts evil, and other thoughts which will be mixed with evil and corruption.
Yet to have our hearts thus changed even in part, so is it be in truth, it is a benefit of greater value than the whole world. And he that has it, is by infinite degrees happier than the most glorying professor that lacks it.