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positively to assert, and to give in briefly, the scriptural and rational bottoms, and proofs of those assertions; wherein I have gone aside, to pull or thrust a line of debate, I have transgressed against my own purpose, I hope it will be pardoned: though I am heartily desirous any thing which passeth my pen, may be brought to the test, and myself reduced where I have gone amiss; yet my spirit faints within me, to think of that way of handling things in controversy, which some men by reciprocation of answers and replies have wound themselves into. Bolsecte, and Staphylus, and Stapleton, seem to live again, and much gall from beneath to be poured into men's ink. Oh, the deep wounds the gospel hath received by the mutual keen invectives of learned men! I hope the Lord will preserve me from being engaged with any man of such a frame of spirit. What hath been asserted may easily be cast up in a few positions, the intelligent reader will quickly discern what is aimed at, and what I have stood to avow.
If what is proposed be not satisfactory, I humbly offer to the honourable parliament, that a certain number of learned men, who are differently minded as to this business of toleration, which almost every where is spoken against, may be desired and required to a fair debate of the matter in difference before their own assembly; that so, if it be possible, some light may be given to the determination of this thing, of so great concernment in the judgments of all men, both on the one side and on the other, that so they may 'try all things, and hold fast that which is good.'
Corol. 1. That magistrates have nothing to do in matters of religion, as some unadvisedly affirm, is exceedingly wide from the truth of the thing itself.
Corol. 2. Corporal punishments for simple error were found out to help to build the tower of Babel.
Si quid novisti rectius istis,
STEADFASTNESS OF PROMISES,
SINFULNESS OF STAGGERING.
This sermon was preached before the Parliament, Feb. 28, 1649. being a day set apart for solemn humiliation throughout the nation.
THE COMMONS OF ENGLAND
SIRS, That God in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways, having caused various seasons to pass over you, and in them all manifested, that his works are truth, and his ways judgment, calls earnestly by them for that walking before him, which is required from them, who with other distinguishing mercies, are interested in the specialty of his protecting providence. As in a view of present enjoyments, to sacrifice to your net, and burn incense to your drag, as though by them, your portion were fat and plenteous, is an exceeding provocation to the eyes of his glory; so to press to the residue of your desires and expectations, by an arm of flesh, the designings and contrivances of carnal reason, with outwardly appearing mediums of their accomplishment, is no less an abomination to him. Though there may be a present sweetness to them that find the life of the hand, yet their latter end will be, to lie down in sorrow.
That you might be prevailed on to give glory to God by steadfastness in believing, committing all your ways to him with patience in well-doing, to the contempt of the most varnished appearance of carnal policy, was my peculiar aim in this ensuing Sermon.
That which added ready willingness to my obedience unto your commands for the preaching and publishing hereof, being a serious proposal for the advancement and propagation of the gospel in another nation, is here again recommended to your thoughts, by
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.-Rom. iv. 20. In the first chapters of this epistle, the apostle, from Scripture, and the constant practice of all sorts of men, of all ages, Jews and Gentiles, wise and barbarians, proves all the world, and every individual therein, to have sinned and come short of the glory of God:' and not only so, but that it was utterly impossible, that by their own strength, or by virtue of any assistance communicated, or privileges enjoyed, they should ever attain to a righteousness of their own, that might be acceptable unto God.
Hereupon he concludes that discourse with these two positive assertions: First, That for what is past, 'every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God;' chap. iii. 19. Secondly, For the future, though they should labour to amend their ways, and improve their assistances and privileges to a better advantage than formerly, ‘yet by the deeds of the law, shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God;' ver. 20.
Now it being the main drift of the apostle, in this epistle, and in his whole employment, to manifest that God hath not shut up all the sons of men, hopeless and remediless under · this condition; he immediately discovers and opens the rich supply, which God in free grace hath made and provided, for the delivery of his own from this calamitous estate, even by the righteousness of faith in Christ, which he unfoldeth, asserteth, proves, and vindicates from objections, to the end of the third chapter.
This being a matter of so great weight, as, comprising in itself the sum of the gospel wherewith he was intrusted; the honour and exaltation of Christ, which above all he desired; the great design of God to be glorious in his saints ; and in a word, the chief subject of the ambassage from Christ, to him committed (to wit, that they who neither have, nor by any means can attain a righteousness of their own, by the utmost of their workings, may yet have that which is complete and unrefusable in Christ, by believing), he therefore