We're making big changes. Please try out the beta site at beta.ccel.org and send us feedback. Thank you!
« Prev CHAPTER II. Next »



For the opening of which assertion I have chosen this text, (Eccl. vii. 29,) God made man righteous; which clearly demonstrates,--

That God made all mankind at first in Adam, in a most glorious, happy, and righteous estate. Man, when he came first out of God's mint, shined most glorious. There is a marvelous glory in all creatures, (the servants and household stuff of man:) therefore there was a greater glory in man himself, the end of them. God calleth a parliament, and gathers a council, when man was to be made; and said, "Come, let us make man in our own image," as though all the wisdom of the Trinity should be seen in the creation of man.

Wherein did the glory and blessedness of man appear?

In the impression of God's image upon him. (Gen. i. 26.) Can there be any greater glory for a Joseph, for a subject, than to be like his prince?

What was the image of God?

The schoolmen and fathers have many curious (yet some necessary) though difficult questions about this. I will omit all theirs, and tell you only what is the apostle's judgment, (Col. iii. 20,) out of which this general description of God's image may be thus gathered: It is man's perfection of holiness, resembling God's admirable holiness, whereby only man pleaseth God.

For all other inferior creatures did carry the marks and footsteps of God's power, wisdom, goodness, whereby all these attributes were seen. One of the most perfect attributes, his holiness, he would have men only appear in, and be made manifest by man, his best inferior creature, as a king's wisdom and bounty appears in managing the affairs of all his kingdom; but his royal, princely, and most eminent perfections appear in the face and disposition of his Son, next under him. But more particularly this image of God appeared in these four particulars:--

(1). In man's understanding. This was like unto God's. Now, God's image here chiefly consisted in this particular, viz.,: As God saw himself, and beheld his own infinite, endless glory and excellency, so man was privy to God's excellency, and saw God most gloriously; as Moses, though a sinful man, saw him face to face, much more Adam, a perfect man. God, loving man, could do no less than reveal himself to man.


(2). In his affections. The image of God chiefly appeared in two things:--

First. As God, seeing himself, loved himself, so Adam, seeing God, loved this God more than the world, more than himself. As iron put into the fire seems to be nothing but fire, so Adam, being beloved of God, was turned into a lump of love, to love God again.

Secondly. As God delighted in himself, so did Adam delight in God, took sweet repose in the bosom of God. Methinks I see Adam rapt up in continual ecstasies in having this God.

(3). In his will. The image of God chiefly appeared in two things:--

First. As God only willed himself as his last end, so did Adam will God as his last end, not as man doth now.

Secondly. As God willed nothing but good, so did Adam will nothing, though not immutably, but good; for God's will was his.

(4). In his life, God's image did appear thus: that, even as God, if he had assumed man's nature, would have lived outwardly, so did Adam; for God would have lived according to his own will, law, and rule: so did Adam. Adam's body was the lantern through which holiness, like a lamp burning in his heart, shined. This was God's image, by means of which, as it is said in the description, he pleased God, similitude being the ground of love; and hence God did most dearly love him, and highly honor him to be Lord over all creatures. No evil (continuing in that estate) could hurt him; here was no sorrow, no sickness, no tears, no fears, no death, no hell, nor ever should have been if there he had stood.

Objection. How was this estate ours?

Answer. As Christ's righteousness is a believer's by imputation, though he never performed it himself, so Adam's righteousness and image were imputed to us, and accounted ours; for Adam received our stock or patrimony to keep it for us, and to convey it to us. Hence, he proving bankrupt, we lost it. But we had it in his hands, as an orphan may have a great estate left him, though he never receive one penny of it from him that was his guardian, that should have kept it for him, and conveyed it to him.

Here see the horrible nature of sin, that plucks man down by the ears from his throne, from his perfection, though never so great. Adam might have pleaded for himself, and have said, Although I have sinned, yet it is but one and the first fault, Lord, behold, I am thy first born. O, pity my poor posterity, who are forever undone if thou forgivest not. Yet see, one sin weighs him down and all his posterity, as we shall hear, into eternal ruin.


Hence learn how justly God may require perfect obedience to all the law of every man, and curse him if he can not perform it, because man was at first made in such a glorious estate, wherein he had power given him to please God perfectly. God may, therefore, require this debt of perfect obedience. Now man is broke, and in prison; in hell he must lie forever, if he can not pay justice every farthing, because God trusted him with a stock which if he had well improved, he might have paid all.

See what cause every man hath to lament his miserable estate he is now fallen into. For beggars' children to live vagrants and poor is not so lamentable as for a great prince's children to become such. One never in favor with the prince grieves not as he doth that was once in favor, but now cast out. Man is now rejected of God that was beloved of God. He is now a runagate up and down the earth that was once a prince and lord of all the world. This is one aggravation of the damned's sorrow. O, the hopes, the means, the mercies that once I had! Can these, do these lament for the loss of their hopes and common mercies? Lord, what hearts, then, have men that can not, do not, that will not lament the loss of such special high favors, now gone, which once they had? It is said that those that saw the glory of the first temple wept when they saw the glory of the second, and how inferior it was to the first. You that either have the temple of God begun to be repaired in you, or not begun at all, O, think of the temple burnt, the glory of God now vanished and lost.

This speaks comfort to all God's people. If all Adam's posterity were perfectly righteous in him, then thou that art of the blood royal, and in Christ art perfectly righteous in him much more, inasmuch as the righteousness of the second Adam exceeds the first, so art thou more happy, more holy in the second Adam than ever the first in himself was. He might lose all his righteousness; but the second Adam can not, hath not; so that, if Christ may be damned, then thou mayest; else not.

This likewise reproveth three sorts of people:--

(1). Such as are ashamed of holiness. Lord, what times are we fallen into now? The image of God, which was once men's glory, is now their shame; and sin, which is men's shame, is now their glory. The world hath raised up many false reports of holy courses, calling it folly and preciseness, pride, hypocrisy, and that, whatsoever shows men may make, they are as bad as the worst, if their sins were writ in their foreheads. Hence it cometh to pass that many a man, who is almost persuaded to be a new man, and to turn over a new leaf, dares not, will not, for 203 shame of the world, enter upon religious courses. What will they think of me then? saith he. Men are ashamed to refuse to drink healths, and hence maintain them lawful. Our gallants are ashamed to stay a mile behind the fashion; hence they will defend open and naked breasts and strange apparel, as things comely. O, time servers! that have some conscience to desire to be honest, and to be reputed so, yet conform themselves to all companies. If they hear others swear, they are ashamed to reprove them; they are ashamed to enter the lists of holy discourse in bad company; and they will pretend discretion, and we must not cast pearls before swine; but the bottom of the business is, they are ashamed to be holy, O, fearful! Is it a shame to be like God? O, sinful wretches! It is a credit to be any thing but religious, and, with many, religion is a shame. I wonder with what face thou darest pray, or with what look thou wilt behold the Lord of glory at the last day, who art ashamed of him now, that will be admired of all men, angels, and devils then? Dost thou look for wages from Christ that art ashamed to own Christ, or to wear his livery?

 2. It reproves them that hate holiness, which is more than to be ashamed of it.

 3. It reproves them that content themselves with a certain measure of holiness. Perfect holiness was Adam's image, whereby he pleased God; and shall a little holiness content thee?

Now, there are these three sorts of them:--

 1 . The formalist, who contents himself with some holiness, as much as will credit him.

The form and name of religion is honos, honor sometimes; but the power and practice of it is onus, a burden; hence men take up the first, and shake off the second. And indeed the greatest part take up this course: if they have no goodness, they should be the shame, scorn, and table talk of the times; therefore every man will, for his honor's sake, have this form. Now, this form is according to the mold wherein he is cast. If his acquaintance be but civil, he will be like them; if they be more exact, as to pray, read, confer, he will not stay one inch behind them. If to be better than his companions, to bear the bell before them, will credit him, he will be so, whatever it cost him; but yet he never will be so exact in his course as to be hated for it, unless he perceives the hatred he contracts from some men shall be recompensed with the more love and credit by other men. He disguiseth himself according to the places or company he comes into. King Joash was a good man so long 204 as Jehoiada the priest lived. If a little religion will serve to credit men, that shall serve for that time; if more in another place, you shall then have them commending good men, good sermons, good books, and drop forth two or three good sentences. What will they think of him then? They cover themselves over with these fig leaves of common honesty to cover their nakedness; they bait all their courses over with honesty, that they may catch, for they fish only for credit. One may trap these people thus: Follow them in their private houses, there is worldliness, passion, looseness; and to their private chambers, there they ordinarily neglect or snuffle over duties to their private vain thoughts. In this tyring house you shall then see these stage players; their shop windows are shut; here no honesty is to be seen scarce, because their gain, their respect, comes not in at this door, where none beholds them. Let either minister or any faithful friend search, try, discover, accuse, and condemn these men as rotten, though gilded, posts, as unsound, hollow-hearted wretches, their hearts will swell like toads, and hiss like snakes, and bark like dogs, against them that thus censure them, because they rob them of their God they served, their gain is gone.

 2. The guilty, self-condemned sinner, that goes further than the formalist, and contents himself with so much holiness as will quiet him; and hence all the heathen have had some religion, because they had some conscience to trouble them. This man, if he hath lived in foul sins, and begins to be racked and troubled for them, he will then confess and forsake those sins. But how? As a dog doth his meat; not because he hates his carrion, but because he fears the cudgel. He performs holy duties, not because he will use them, but because he must use them; there is no quiet else. If conscience be still, he omits duties; if conscience cry and stir, he falls to duties, and so hath his good mood as conscience hath his fits. They boast and crow over hypocrites, because the holiness they have is not a bare show. No; but it is to stop thy conscience, and only to quiet the clamors of that. Thou dost bribe, and so quiet (the bailiff) thy conscience, by thy praying, hearing, and sorrowing; but God, thy Judge, hath heavy things to lay to thy charge, before whom thou shalt shortly with dread appear.

 3. The pining and devout hypocrite, that, being pursued with the fear of hell, goes further, and labors for just so much holiness as will save him only, and carry him to heaven at last. Hence the young man in the gospel came with that great question to Christ, which many unsound hearts come with to ministers 205 now--what he should do to inherit eternal life. These people set up such a man in their thoughts to be a very honest man, and one doubtless that shall be saved; and hence they will take him to be their copy and sampler, and labor to do as he doth, and to live just as he lives, and to hold opinions as he holds, and so hope to be saved. They will ask, very inquisitively, What is the least measure of grace, and the least grain of faith? and the best sermons are not such as humble them most, but such as flatter them best; wherein they may hear how well good desires are accepted of by God; which if they hear to be of that virtue to save them, God shall be served only with good desires, and the devil in their actions all their lives.

Thus they make any thing serve for God; they labor not after so much holiness as will honor Christ, but after just so much as will bear their charges to heaven, and save themselves. For this is one of the greatest differences betwixt a child of God and a hypocrite. In their obedience, the one takes up duties out of love to Christ, to have him; and hence he mourns daily, because Christ is no greater gainer by him; the other out of love to himself, merely to save his own soul; and hence he mourns for his sins, because they may damn him. Remember that place, therefore, 1 Cor. xv. ult.

Lastly. Labor to get this image of God renewed again. Honest men will labor to pay their debts; this is God's debt. How do men labor to be in the fashion! Better to be out of the world than out of the fashion. To be like God is heaven's fashion, angels' fashion, and it will be in fashion one day, when the Lord Jesus shall appear; then, if thou hast the superscription and image of the devil, and not the image of God upon thee, God and Christ will never own thee at that day. Labor, therefore, to have God's image restored again, and Satan's wash out; seek not, as many do, to purchase such and such a grace first. But,--

 1. Labor to mortify and subdue that sin which is opposite in thine heart to that grace. First put off the old man, and then put on the new. (Eph. iv.)

 2. Labor for a melting, tender heart for the least sin. Gold is then only fit to receive the impression when it is tender and is melted; when thine heart is heated, therefore, at a sermon, cry out, Lord, now strike, now imprint thine image upon me!

 3. Labor to see the Lord Jesus in his glory. For as wicked men, looking upon the evil example of great ones in the world, that will bear them out, grow like them in villainy, so the very beholding the glorious grace in Christ, this great Lord of glory, transformeth men into this image. (2 Cor. iii. 17, 18.) As the glass, set full against the sun, receives not only the beams, as all 206 other dark bodies do, but the image of the sun, so the understanding, with open face beholding Christ, is turned into the image and likeness of Christ. Men nowadays look only to the best men's lives, and see how they walk, and rest here. O, look higher to this blessed face of God in Christ as thine own. As the application of the seal to the wax imprints the image, so to view the grace of Christ as all thine imprints the same image strongly on the soul. I come now to the third principal head in order, which I shall insist upon, out of Rom. iii. 23: "All have sinned and deprived of the glory of God."

« Prev CHAPTER II. Next »

| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |