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    PART 2.

    SERMONS PUBLISHED — PREFATORY NOTE.

    Under the second division of the Posthumous Sermons of Owen are included all the previously unpublished discourses which appeared in the folio edition of his Sermons and Tracts, 1721. The editors of that volume state, after alluding to his sermons formerly printed, — “With these are printed a considerable number of sermons and other tracts never before published, which we do assure the public are genuine, — a great part of them having been transcribed from his own copies, and the rest taken from his mouth by a gentleman of honor and known integrity.”

    The gentleman referred to was Sir John Hartopp. Dr Isaac Watts, on the death of that baronet, preached a well-known and beautiful sermon on “The Happiness of Separate Spirits.” “When I name Sir John Hartopp,” said the preacher, “all that knew him will agree that I name a gentleman, a scholar, and a Christian.” In the course of the tribute he pays to the memory of the deceased, he alludes to the cordial friendship that long subsisted between Sir John and “that great and venerable man, Dr Owen;” and mentions that he had supplied Asty with important information for his brief memoir of our author. Sir John Hartopp deserved the warm eulogy of Dr Watts. He was a good man, and the friend of good men. He was thrice elected Member of Parliament for Leicestershire, at the time when the attempt was made to exclude the Duke of York from the crown.

    He attended the ministry of Owen in London, and was in the habit of taking notes in short-hand of his sermons, which he afterwards transcribed in full. From these manuscripts most of the posthumous sermons of our author have been derived. He died in 1722, after the publication of the folio edition of Owen’s Sermons; and his name, therefore, is a voucher for the genuineness of all the discourses contained in this division.

    Two discourses on “The Strength of Faith” are here given first, because connected with one on the same text in the preceding volume, — vol, 8 p. 207. The discourses which bear no date fellow. The subsequent discourses in this division are arranged according to the years in which it has been ascertained that they were preached. — Ed.

    SERMON 1.

    THE STRENGTH OF FAITH. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. — ROMANS 4:20.

    IN this chapter the apostle singleth out a signal example, to make good the conclusion which, by sundry convincing demonstrations, he had proved in the foregoing chapter; namely, that the justification of a sinner could by no means be brought about nor accomplished but by the righteousness of faith in Christ. This, I say, in the example of Abraham, and from the testimonies given concerning him, and the way whereby he was justified before God, the apostle proves from the beginning of the chapter to the end of verse 17. From thence to the end of verse 22 he describes that faith of Abraham whereby he obtained acceptation with God; that in all things he might propose him as an example and an encouragement unto us.

    Among the many excellencies which are given in, in the description of this faith of his, arising from its cause, object, matter, and manner, not now to be insisted on, this is none of the least which is mentioned in my text, “He staggered not.”

    There is mei>wsiv in the words, wherein, by a negation, the contrary to what is denied is strongly asserted: “He staggered, not by unbelief;” that is, he was steadfast in believing, or, as it is expounded in the close of the verse, “he was strong in faith.”

    The words may yield us these two observations: — Observation 1. All staggering at the promises of God is through unbelief.

    Saith the apostle, “He staggered not through unbelief.” Men are apt to pretend many other reasons, and do use other pleas; but the truth is, all our staggering is through unbelief. But this proposition from these words I have long since, in another way, proved, evinced, and applied. f7 There is another proposition lies in the text, and that I shall now apply myself unto, which is this: — Obs. 2. Steadfastness in believing the promises is exceeding acceptable unto God.

    In treating upon this subject, I shall do these two things : — I. Explain the terms of the proposition.

    II. Give the proof of it.

    I. As to the former of these, — 1. There is the object concerning which the affirmation is laid down: “The promises,” the promises of God. The promises of God are the declaration of the purposes of his grace towards his elect, according to the tenor of the covenant. That pointed unto in my text was the old great promise of Christ, which contains in it all others; because “in him all the promises of God are yea and amen,” 2 Corinthians 1:20. So that although I shall speak nothing but what will be true with reference to every promise of God whatever, yet I shall bear a chief respect to the promises that exhibit Christ and the free grace of God in him unto sinners; — steadfastness in believing these promises. 2. There is the act that is exercised about this object; and that is, believing.

    It is steadfastness in believing we speak of.

    I shall not make it my design to insist much on the nature of faith, and to debate the differences that are among men about it. Only so much must be spoken concerning it as may give us an acquaintance with that whereof we are treating.

    How many have been the disputes of men about the nature of faith — the subject, proper object, formal reason of it — all know. And how little the church of God is beholding to men, who have made it their business to involve things of general duty, and absolute necessity unto all believers, in intricate disputes, — men that will duly weigh it may easily know. By some men’s too much understanding, others are brought to understand nothing at all. He that would have the things of his own spiritual experience and daily duty made unintelligible to him, let him consider them as stated in men’s philosophical disputes about them. Thus, some place faith in one distinct faculty of the soul, some in another, and some say there are no such things as distinct faculties in the soul. Some place it in both the chief, — the understanding and the will; and some say, it is impossible that one habit should have its residence in two faculties.

    For my part, my intention principally is, to speak to such as God chooseth, — the poor and foolish of the world. And the means whereby he will bring them to himself are not, I am sure, above that understanding which the Son of God hath given them, 1 John 5:20. And whereas the general way, in treating of faith, is, for the most part, to use strictness of expression, that so it may be delivered in a philosophical exactness; the constant way of the Holy Ghost is, by metaphorical expressions, accommodations of it to things of sense and daily usage in the meanest, to give a relish and perception of it to all that are interested in it. And so shall I labor to speak, that every one that doth believe may know what it is to believe.

    Only observe this, by the way, — that I speak of believing and of faith in respect of that end, and to that purpose only, in reference whereunto Paul here treats of it; that is, in respect of justification and our acceptation with God. I say, then, — (1.) That faith, or believing, in this restrained sense, doth not consist solely in the assent of the mind to the truth of the promises, or of any promise. When one affirms any thing to us, and we say we believe him, — that is, that the thing he speaks is true, — then there is this assent of the mind. Without this there is no faith. But this alone is not the faith we speak of. This alone and solitary the devils have, and cannot choose but have it, James 2:19. They believe that which makes them tremble, on the authority of God who revealeth it.

    But you will say, “The devil believes, only the threats of God, — that which makes him tremble; and so his belief is not a general assent, but partial; — and is thereby distinguished from our assent; which is to all that God hath revealed, and especially the promises.”

    I answer, The devil believes the promises no less than he doth the threats of God; that is, that they are true, and shall be accomplished. It is part of his misery, that he cannot but believe them. And the promises of God are as much suited to make him tremble as his threatenings. The first promise to us was couched in a threatening to him, Genesis 3:15. And there is no promise wherein a threatening to him is not couched. Every word concerning Christ, or grace by him, speaks his downfall and ruin. Indeed, his destruction lies more in promises than threats. Promises are what weakens him daily, and gives him a continual foretaste of his approaching destruction.

    On this consideration it is evident, that believing, or faith, cannot be solely an assent to the truth of these promises upon the fidelity of the promiser; but this it is also, or originally. Hence it is called, “the receiving the testimony of God,” and, therein, “setting to our seal that God is true,” John 3:33. But yet, I think there is somewhat more in receiving of the testimony of God, and setting our seal to it (agreeing, as in contracts, that so it is, and so it shall be), than the bare assent of the mind to the truth of the promises; although, in ordinary speech, to receive a man’s testimony, is no more than to believe [that] what he saith, of that concerning which he speaks, is true. But there seems, moreover, in the annexed expression of “setting to our seal,” that that is included which he speaks of to Job, Job 5:27, “Hear it, and know it for thy good.” There is a receiving of it for ourselves, in those expressions; which adds much to a bare assent. I say, then, this assent is of faith, though it be not faith. And in saying it is not justifying faith, we do not deny it, but affirm it to be faith in general.

    The addition of a peculiar assent destroys not the nature of a thing. Now, faith in general is such an assent as hath been described. (2.) It is not in the sole consent of the will to close with the promise, as containing that which is good and suitable. There is the matter of the promise to be considered in believing, as well as the promise itself. Christ, with his righteousness and benefits, is, as it were, tendered unto us therein.

    Whence, by believing we are said to accept of, to “receive the atonement,” Romans 5:11. Now, to consent that the matter of the promise — that which is exhibited in the word of it — is good and desirable, and [that it is] so to us, and to choose it on that account, is required to believing also; and it is properly the receiving of Christ, John 1:12. But yet it is not only precisely and exclusively this. Sarah’s faith, Hebrews 11:11, is described by this, that she “judged him faithful who had promised.” And this is of the nature of faith, as was said before, the judging him faithful that promiseth, and assenting to the truth of his promises on that account.

    Now, the first of these may be without the second, — our assent may be without the consent of the will; but the latter cannot be without the former. But yet, there is such an assent as will certainly produce this choice also, (3.) I suppose I need not say, it doth not entirely consist in the good-liking of the affections, and embracing the things promised. The stony ground received the word presently, and with joy, Matthew 13:20. It is said, verse 5, that the seed sprung up immediately, because it had not depth of earth. Where men have warm affections, but not thoroughly-prepared minds and hearts, they presently run away with the word, and profess great matters from it; but where it is laid in deep, it is longer commonly before it appears. When a man receives the word only in the affections, the first touch of them cannot be hid; instantly he will be speaking of it, melt under it, and declare how he is affected with it: “Oh, this sermon hath done me good indeed!” But yet this is not faith, when it is alone. They receive the word with joy, but have not root in themselves, verses 20, 21.

    When Christ promised “the bread of life,” — that is, himself, — John 6, how many were instantly affected with it, and carried out to strong desires of it! “Lord,” say they, “evermore give us this bread,” verse 34. They like it, they desire it, at that season; their affections are taken with it: but yet they were but pro>skairoi , “temporary,” not true believers; for after a season “they went back, and walked no more with Christ,” verse 66.

    Those “who have a taste of the heavenly gift,” Hebrews 6:4, do you not think they like the taste, and are affected with it? There are, indeed, innumerable deceits in this business. I might show on how many false and corrupt accounts, on what sandy foundations, many men’s affections may be exceedingly taken with the word of promise, preached or considered; so that there is no concluding of believing to lie in any such thing. When affections go before believing, they are little worth; but when they follow it, they are exceeding acceptable and precious in the sight of God. (4.) It is not solely “fiducia,” — a trust, affiance, or confidence. There is a twofold fiducial trust; — one whereby we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin; which you may call adherence. It is such a cleaving to Christ, as that we trust in him for the forgiveness of sins, and acceptation with God. And so much as we trust, so much we adhere, and no more.

    There is also a trust that our sins are forgiven us; we trust or rest upon it.

    Now, it cannot be that either of these should be faith entirely, and that the whole of it should be included in them. There is something more in believing than in trusting; and something more in trusting than is absolutely necessary to preserve the entire notion of believing: for we may believe that wherein we do not trust. But yet this I grant, that where there is believing in Christ, there will be trusting in him, more or less. And when faith is increased to some good height, strength, and steadfastness, it is mainly taken up in trust and confidence, John 14:1. So to believe as to free our hearts from trouble and disquietment, upon any account whatever, is to trust properly; and that doubting, and staggering, and fear, which in Scripture we find condemned as opposite to faith, are indeed directly opposite to this fiduciary reposing our souls on Christ. So the apostle describes his faith or believing, 2 Timothy 1:12. So to believe as to be persuaded that God is able to keep what we commit to him, is to put our trust in him. (5.) Having spoken thus much of these particulars, waiving all the arbitrary determinations of the schools, and exactness of words, as to philosophical rules and terms, I shall give you such a general description of faith, or believing, as may answer in some measure the proper and metaphorical expressions of it in the Scriptures; where it is termed, looking or seeing, hearing, tasting, resting, rolling ourselves, flying for refuge, trusting, and the like. [1.] There must be, what I spake of in the first place, an assent to the whole truth of the promises of God, upon this ground and bottom, — that he is able and faithful to accomplish them. This certainly is in, if it be not all, our receiving the testimony or witness of God, John 3:33. Sarah, of whom we spake before, received the testimony of God. How did she do it? She “judged him faithful who had promised,” Hebrews 11:11. This God proposes to us in the first place. Eternal life is promised by God, who cannot lie, Titus 1:2; that is, who is so faithful, as that it is utterly impossible he should deceive any. So Hebrews 6:17,18, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”

    The design of God is, that we may receive encouragement in our flying for refuge to the hope set before us, — that is, in believing. What doth he propose to this end? Why, his own faithfulness and immutability, on the account of the engagement of his word and oath. Abraham’s faith spoken of, Romans 4, compriseth this, — yea, is commended from it, verse 21.

    The Scripture, indeed, mentions sundry properties of God, on the credit whereof, if I may so speak, our souls are to assent to the truth of his promises, and to acquiesce therein. Two especially are usually named: — 1st. His power: “He is able.” So Romans 4:21, 11:23. 2dly. His faithfulness: as in the places before mentioned, and sundry others.

    The sum is, that on the account of God’s faithfulness and power, this we are to do, if we will believe; — we are to assent to the truth of his promises, and the certainty of their accomplishment. If this be not done, it is in vain to go forward. Let, then, those who intend any advantage by what shall afterward be spoken, stay here a little, and consider how they have laid this foundation. Many there are who never come to any stability all their days, and yet are never able to fix on any certain cause of their shaking and staggering. The foundation was laid disorderly. This first closing with the faithfulness and power of God in the promises, was never distinctly acted over in and by their souls. And if the foundation be weak, let the building be never so glorious, it will totter, if not fall. Look, then, to this beginning of your confidence, that this fail you not. And when all other holds fail, this will support you from utter sinking, if at any time you are reduced to that condition that you have nothing else. [2.] Over and above this, faith, in the Scripture, is expressed (and we find it by experience) to be the will’s consent unto, and acceptance of, the Lord Jesus Christ as mediator, — he that accomplished his work as the only way of going to the Father, as the sole and sufficient cause of our acceptation with him, as our only righteousness before him.

    It hath been said, that faith is the receiving of Christ as a priest, and a lord, to be saved by him, and ruled by him. This sounds excellent well. Who is so vile that, endeavoring to believe, is not willing to be ruled by Christ, as well as saved by him? A faith that would not have Christ to be Lord to rule us, is that faith alone which James rejects. He that would be saved by Christ, and not ruled by him, shall not be saved by him at all. We are to receive a whole Christ, not by halves; — in regard of all his offices, not one or another.

    This sounds well, makes a fair show, and there is, in some regard, truth in what is spoken; but “Latet anguis in herba,” — Let men explain themselves, and it is this: The receiving of Christ as a king, is the yielding obedience to him. But that subjection is not a fruit of the faith whereby we are justified, but an essential part of it; so that there is no difference between faith and works or obedience, in the business of justification, both being alike a condition of it.

    When I lately read one saying, “That this was one principle that the Church of England went on, in the Reformation, that faith and works have the same consideration in the business of justification,” I could not but stand amazed, and conclude that either he or I had been asleep ever since we were born; or that there were two Churches of England, — one that I never knew, and another that he never knew; or else that prejudice is powerful, and makes men confident. Is that the doctrine of the Church of England, as they call it? When, where, by whom was it taught, but by Papists and Socinians, until within a very few years, in England? What place hath it in confessions, homilies, liturgies, controversy writers, or any else of repute for learning and religion in England? But this is no place for contest.

    Others at length mince the matter, and say, that faith and works have the same respects to our justification that shall be public and solemn at the last day, at the day of judgment. And is this all that they have intended?

    How they will justify themselves at the day of judgment for troubling the peace of the saints of God, and shaking the great fundamental articles of the Reformation, I know not; but it is no news, for men loving novelties to dispute themselves they know not whither, and to recoil or retire unhandsomely.

    It is true, then, we acknowledge, that faith receives Christ as a lord, as a king; and it is no true faith that will not, doth not do so, and put the soul upon all that obedience which he, as the captain of our salvation, requires at our hands. But faith, as it justifies (in its concurrence, whatever it be, thereunto), closeth with Christ for righteousness and acceptation with God only. And, give me leave to say, it is in that act no less exclusive of good works than of sin. It closeth with Christ in and for that, on the account whereof he is our righteousness, and for and by which we are justified.

    But you will say, “This makes you Solifidians; and are you not justly so accounted?”

    I say, So was Paul a Solifidian, whose epistles will confute all the formalists and self-justiciaries in the world. We are Solifidians as to justification: — Christ, grace, and faith are all. We are not Solifidians as to salvation nor gospel conversation, nor the declaration of the efficacy of our believing. Such Solifidians as exclude every thing from an influence in our justification but our acceptation by the grace of God, on faith’s receiving of Christ for righteousness and salvation, were all the apostles of Jesus Christ. Such Solifidians as exclude or deny the necessity of works and gospel obedience to him that is justified, — or that say, a true and justifying faith may consist without holiness, works, and obedience, — are condemned by all the apostles, and James in particular.

    This, then, I say, is required to faith, or believing, — that we thus receive Christ. John 1:11, “His own received him not.” The not receiving of Christ for such purposes as he is sent unto us by the Father, is properly unbelief; and therefore, as it follows, the so receiving him is properly faith, or believing, verse 12. Thus, in preaching the gospel, we are said to make a tender or proffer of Christ, as the Scripture doth, Revelation 22:17.

    Now, that which answers a tender or proffer, is the acceptance of it. So that the soul’s willing acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ for our righteousness before God, being tendered to us in the promises of the gospel for that end and purpose, from the love of the Father, is the main of that believing which is so acceptable unto God. [3.] Add hereunto that which I cannot say is absolutely of the nature of faith, but in some degree or other (secret or more known to the soul) a necessary concomitant of it; and that is, the soul’s resting and quieting itself, and satisfying its affections, in its interest in and enjoyment of a sweet, desirable Savior. This is called, “cleaving unto the Lord,” Joshua, Joshua 23:8, — the fixing and fastening our affections on God, as ours in covenant. This is the soul’s resting in God, its affiance and trusting in him.

    And in these three things, which are intelligible to the meanest soul, and written evidently in the words of the Scripture, and in the experience of those who have to do with God in Christ, do I place the believing which is so acceptable to God. 3. There is, next, the qualification of this believing, as laid down in the proposition; and that is, steadfastness, — steadfastness in believing. This is included in the negative. It is said of Abraham that “he staggered not;” that is, he was steadfast. To clear this up a little, take these few observations: — (1.) Faith, or believing, consists in such an habitual frame of heart, and such actings of the soul, as are capable of degrees of straitening or enlargement, of strength and weakness. Hence there is mention in the Scripture of great faith, “O woman, great is thy faith;” and of little faith, “O ye of little faith;” — of strong faith, Abraham “was strong in faith;” and of weak faith, or being weak in faith, “him that is weak in the faith receive;” — of faith with doubting, “O ye of little faith, why did ye doubt?” and of faith excluding doubting, “Being strong in faith, he staggered” or “doubted not.” (2.) That faith in every respect is equal as unto sincerity, and differs only in degrees; yea, it is equal in respect of the main effects and advance of it, — in justification, perseverance, and salvation. A little faith is no less faith than a great faith; yea, a little faith will carry a man. as safely to heaven, though not so comfortably, nor so fruitfully, as a great faith. Now, — (3.) Steadfastness respects those different degrees of faith. It is not of the nature of faith, but bespeaks such a degree of it as is acceptable to God that we should have, and every way advantageous to ourselves. It is mentioned by Peter, 2 Peter 3:17, “Beware lest ye fall from your own steadfastness,” or decline from that stability in believing which you have attained; and by Paul, Colossians 2:5. So that, — (4.) There may be a true faith, that yet may have many troublesome, perplexing doubtings accompanying it, many sinful staggerings and waverings attending it; and yet not be overthrown, but continue true faith still. Men may be true believers, and yet not strong believers. A child that eats milk hath as truly the nature of a man, as he that, being grown up, lives on strong meat. Now, steadfastness denotes stability in believing, in respect of the three things before mentioned, and by it faith is denominated strong and effectual. And it argues, — [1.] A well-grounded, firm, unshaken assent to the truth of the promises; and so it is opposed to wavering, James 1:5,6. [2.] A resolved, clear consent to receive and close with Christ, as tendered in the promise, for life; and so it is opposed to doubting, — that is, troublesome, disquieting, perplexing doubts. [3.] The settled acquiescence of the soul in the choice made and the close consented unto; and so it is opposed to abiding trouble, John 14:1.

    This steadfastness in believing doth not exclude all temptations from without. When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say that the wind never blows upon it. The house that is built on the rock is not free from assaults and storms. The Captain of our salvation, the beginner and ender of our faith, was tempted; and we shall be so, if we follow him. Nor doth it exclude all doubting from within. So long as we have flesh, though faith be steadfast, we shall have unbelief; and that bitter root will bring forth some fruit, more or less, according as Satan gets advantage to water it. But it excludes a falling under temptation, and consequently that trouble and disquietness which ensues thereon: as likewise abiding perplexing doubts, which make us stagger to and fro between hope and fear, questioning whether we close with Christ or not, — have any interest in the promise or not; and is attended with disconsolation and dejectedness of spirit, with real uncertainty of the event.

    This, then, is that which I intend by steadfastness in believing, — the establishment of our hearts in the receiving of Christ, as tendered by the love of the Father, to the peace and settlement of our souls and consciences. And that our hearts should be thus fixed, settled, and established, — that we should live in the sense and power of it, — is, I say, exceeding acceptable unto God.

    There is a twofold evil and miscarriage among us, in the great foundation business of closing with Christ in the promise. Some spend all their days in much darkness and disconsolateness, — disputing it to and fro in their own thoughts, whether their portion and interest lie therein or not. They are off and on, living and dying, hoping and fearing, and commonly fear most when they have best hold, — for that is the nature of doubting.

    When they are quite cast down, then they set themselves a-work to get up; and when they are up to any comfortable persuasion, instantly they fear that all is not well and right, — it is not so with them as it should be: and thus they stagger to and fro all their lives, to the grief of the Spirit of God, and the discomfort of their own souls.

    Others, beginning a serious closing with Christ, upon abiding grounds, and finding it a work of difficulty and tediousness to flesh and blood, relapse into generals, inquire no more, but take it for granted that as much is done as they can accomplish; and so grow formal and secure.

    To obviate both these evils, I shall confirm the proposition laid down; but before I proceed to that, I shall draw some corollaries that arise from what hath been spoken in the explication of the proposition already insisted on: — Corollary 1. Though a little weak faith, where steadfastness is wanting, will carry a man to Christ in heaven, yet it will never carry him comfortably nor pleasantly thither.

    He who hath but a weak faith shall be put to many desperate plunges; every blast of temptation shall cast him down from his consolation, if not turn him aside from his obedience. At best, he is like a man bound in a chain on the top of a high tower; though he cannot fall, yet he cannot but fear. However, it will have a good issue.

    Corollary 2. The least true faith will do its work safely, though not so sweetly.

    True faith in the least degree, gives the soul a share in the first resurrection.

    It is of the vital principle which we receive when we are quickened. Now, be it never so weak a life we have, yet it is a life that shall never fail. It is of the seed of God, which abideth, — incorruptible seed, that dieth not. A believer is spirit, — is quickened from the dead; be he never so young, never so sick, never so weak, he is still alive, and the second death shall have no power over him. A little faith gives a whole Christ. He that hath the least faith hath as true an interest, though not so clear an interest, in the righteousness of Christ as the most steadfast believer. Others may be more holy than he, but not one in the world is more righteous than he; for he is righteous with the righteousness of Christ. He cannot but be low in sanctification, for a little faith will bring forth but little or low obedience; if the root be weak, the fruit will not be great. But he is beneath none in justification. The most imperfect faith will give present justification, because it interests the soul in a present Christ. The lowest degree of true faith gives the highest completeness of righteousness, Colossians 2:10.

    You, who have but a weak faith, have yet a strong Christ. So that, though all the world should set itself against your little faith, it should not prevail.

    Sin cannot do it; Satan cannot do it; — hell cannot do it, Though you take but weak and faint hold on Christ, he takes sure, strong, and unconquerable hold on you. Have you not often wondered, that this spark of heavenly fire should be kept alive in the midst of the sea? It is everlasting; a spark that cannot be quenched, — a drop of that fountain that can never be wholly dried up. Jesus Christ takes special care of them that are weak in faith, Isaiah 40:11. On what account soever they are sick, and weak, and unable, this good Shepherd takes care of them. He shall rule, and they shall abide, Micah 5:4.

    Corollary 3. There may be faith, a little faith, where there wants steadfastness, and [where there] is much doubting.

    Steadfastness is an eminent qualification, that all attain not to; so that there may be faith where there is doubting, though I do not say there must be. Doubtings in themselves are opposite to believing. They are, if I may so say, unbelieving. A man can hardly believe all his days, and never doubt; but a man may doubt all his days, and never believe. If I see a field overgrown with thistles and weeds, I can say, There may be corn there; but yet the thistles and weeds are not corn. I speak this, because some have no better bottom for their quiet, than that they have been disquieted, — that they have doubted. Doubting may be where faith is; but we cannot conclude that where there is doubting, there is faith; for it may rise against presumption and security as well as against believing. Yet observe, there is a twofold doubting: — (1.) Of the end. Men question what will become of them in the close; they fluctuate about what will be their latter end. Did not Balaam do so when he cried, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his”? That wretched man was tossed up and down between hopes and fears. This is common to the vilest person in the world. It is but the shaking of their security, if they be alone. (2.) About the means. The soul doubts whether it loves Christ, and whether Christ loves it or not. This is far more genuine than the former. It discovers, at least, that such a soul is convinced of the excellency and usefulness of Christ, and that it hath a valuation for him; yea, perhaps this may be jealousy from fervency of love sometimes, and not always from weakness of faith. But, however, with these doubtings, faith, at least a little faith, may consist. So was it with the poor man who cried out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” There is believing and unbelieving, faith and doubting, both at work at the same time in the same person, — Jacob and Esau struggling in the same womb. Use. Let not men from their doubting conclude to their believing. He that satisfies himself that his field hath corn because it hath thistles, may come short of a harvest. If thy fears be more about the end than the means, — more about future happiness than present communion with God, — thou canst scarce have a clearer argument of a false, corrupt frame of heart.

    Some flatter themselves with this, that they have doubted and trembled; but now they thank God they are quiet and at rest. How they came to be so, they cannot tell; only, whereas they were disquieted and troubled, now all is well with them. How many of this sort have I known, who, whilst convictions have been warm upon them, have had many perplexing thoughts about their state and condition; after a while, their convictions have worn off, and their doubtings thence arising departed, and they have sunk down into a cold, lifeless frame! This is a miserable bottom of quiet.

    If there were no way of casting out doubts and fears but by believing, this were somewhat; but presumption and security will do it also, at least for a season.

    But these things fall in only by the way, in reference to what was spoken before.

    II. I proceed now to confirm the proposition laid down, according to the explanation given of it before: — 1. And this I shall do first from Scripture testimonies: — (1.) Take the text itself: “He was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” All that God requires of any of the sons of men is, his glory; — that he will not give unto another, Isaiah 42:8. Let God have his glory, and we may take freely whatever we will; — take Christ, take grace, take heaven, — take all. The great glory which he will give to us, consists in giving him his glory, and beholding of it. Now, if this be the great thing, the only thing, that God requires at our hands, — if this be the all which he hath reserved to himself, that he be glorified as God, as our God, — he that gives him that, gives him what is acceptable to him. Thus Abraham pleased God by being strong or steadfast in believing. He was strong in faith, and gave glory to God. The glory of God is spoken of in various senses in the Scripture: — [1.] The Hebrew word dwObK; , signifies “pondus,” or “weight;” whereunto the apostle alludes when he speaks of “an eternal weight of glory,” Corinthians 4:17. This is the glory of the thing itself. It likewise signifies splendor, or brightness, where the apostle, in like manner, speaks of “the brightness of glory,” Hebrews 1:3; which is the greatness and excellency of beauty in all perfections. In this sense, the infinite excellency of God, in his inconceivable perfections, raised up in such brightness as utterly exceeds all our apprehensions, is called his “glory.” And so he is “The God of glory,” Acts 7:2, or, the most glorious God; and our Savior is called “The Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:8, in the same sense. In this respect we can give no glory to God; we can add nothing to his excellencies, nor the infinite, inconceivable brightness of them, by any thing we do. [2.] Glory relates not only to the thing itself that is glorious, but to the estimation and opinion we have of it, — that is, do>xa ; when that which is in itself glorious is esteemed so. The philosopher saith, “Gloria est frequens de aliquo fama cum laude;” or, “Consentiens laus bonorum, incorrupta vox bene judicantium de excellenti virtute.” And, in this respect, that which is infinitely glorious in itself, may be more or less glorious in its manifestation and the estimation of it. So glory is not any of God’s excellencies or perfections; but it is the esteem and manifestation of them amongst and unto others.

    This God declares to be his glory, Exodus 33:19. Moses desires to see the “glory” of God. This God calls his “face;” that is, the glory of God in itself. “This,” saith God, “thou canst not see: ‘Thou canst not see my face,’ — or, the brightness of my essential glory, the splendour of my excellencies and perfections.” Well, what then? shall he have no acquaintance with it? After this God places him in a rock, and tells him, there he will show him his glory. And this he doth under the name of his “back parts;” that is, he will declare to him wherein and how his glory is manifested. Now, this Rock that followed them was Christ, Corinthians 10:4. The Lord places Moses in that rock to show him his glory; intimating that there is no glimpse of it to be obtained but only by them who are placed in Christ Jesus. Now, what is this glory of God which he thus showed to Moses? That he declares, Exodus 34:6; — causing his majesty, or some visible signs of his presence, “to pass before him,” he proclaims the name of God, with many gracious properties of his nature and blessedness. As if he should say, “Moses, wouldst thou see my glory? This is it, that I may be known to be ‘the LORD, the Load God, merciful and gracious;’ — let me be known to be this, and thus, and this is the glory I aim at from the sons of men.”

    See, now, how steadfastness in believing gives glory to God. It advanceth and magnifieth all these properties of God, and gives all his attributes their due exaltation. An excellent estimation of them is included in it. Might I here descend to particulars, I could manifest that there is not any property of God, whereby he hath made himself known to us, but steadfastness in believing gives it the glory which in some measure is due unto it; and that all doubting arises from our calling some divine attribute into question. It were easy to show how this gives God the glory of his faithfulness, truth, power, righteousness, grace, mercy, goodness, love, patience, and whatever else God hath revealed himself to be.

    This, then, is the force of this first testimony: If the glory of God be all that he requires at our hands, and this steadfastness in believing gives him this glory, and this alone doth so, it must needs be acceptable unto him. (2.) A testimony of the same importance is Hebrews 6:17,18. “The heirs of the promise,” those to whom it is made (the great promise of Christ), are believers; these are said here, “to fly for refuge,” katafugo>ntev, “the fliers with speed.” The expression is evidently metaphorical. The allusion, say some, is taken from those who ran in a race for a prize. This, they say, the word krath~sai that follows, (which signifies “to take fast hold on”) doth import. Men that run in a race, when they attain the end, seize on, and lay fast hold of the prize.

    Our translators, by rendering the word “flying for refuge,” manifest that they had respect to the manslayers flying to the city of refuge under the Old Testament: and this way go sundry interpreters. And I am inclined to this acceptation of the metaphor upon a double account: — [1.] Because I think the apostle would more willingly allude to a Hebrew custom, writing to the Hebrews touching an institution of God, and that directly typical of the matter he had in hand, than to a custom of the Greeks and Romans in their races, which hath not so much light in it, as to the business in hand, as the other. [2.] Because the design of the place doth evidently hold out a flying from something, as well as a flying to something; in which regard it is said, that there is “consolation” provided for them; namely, in their deliverance from the evil which they feared and fled from. Now, in a race there is indeed a prize proposed, but there is no evil avoided. It was otherwise with him that fled for refuge; for as he had a city of safety before him, so he had the avenger of blood behind him; and he fled with speed and diligence to the one, that he might avoid the other, Now, these cities of refuge were provided for the manslayer, who, having slain a man at unawares, and being thereby surprised with an apprehension of danger — it being lawful for the avenger of blood to slay him — fled with all his strength to one of those cities, where he was to enjoy immunity and safety.

    Thus a poor sinner, finding himself in a condition of guilt, surprised with a sense of it, seeing death and destruction ready to seize upon him, flies with all his strength to the bosom of the Lord Jesus, — the only city of refuge from the avenging justice of God and curse of the law. Now, this flying to the bosom of Christ, — the hope set before us for relief and safety, — is believing. It is here called flying by the Holy Ghost, to express the nature of it to the spiritual sense of believers. What, now; doth he declare himself to be affected with their “flying for refuge,” — that is, their believing? Why, he hath taken all means possible to show himself abundantly willing to receive them. He hath engaged his word and promise, that they may not in the least doubt or stagger, but know that he is ready to receive them, and give them “strong consolation.” And what is this consolation? Whence may it appear to arise? Whence did consolation arise to him who, having slain a man at unawares, should fly to a city of refuge?

    Must it not be from hence, — the gates of the city would certainly be open to him, that he should find protection there, and be safe-guarded from the revenger? Whence, then, must be our strong consolation, if we thus fly for refuge by believing? Must it not be from hence, that God is freely ready to receive us, — that he will in no wise shut us out, but that we shall be welcome to him; and with the more speed we come, the more welcome we shall be? This he convinces us of, by the engagement of his word and oath to that purpose. And what farther testimony would we have that our believing is acceptable to him ?

    It is said, Hebrews 10:38, “If any man draw back, my soul [the Lord’s] shall have no pleasure in him.” What is it to draw back? It is to decline from his steadfastness of believing. So the apostle interprets it, verse 39, “We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe.” Drawing back is opposed to believing. In these drawers-back that come not up to steadfastness in believing, nor labor so to do, the Lord’s “soul hath no pleasure; “ — that is, he exceedingly abhors and abominates them; which is the force of that expression. His delight is in those who are steadfast in adhering to the promises; in them his soul takes pleasure.

    When the Jews treated with our Savior about salvation, they ask him, “What shall we do, that we might work the work of God?” John 6:28, — that work of God by which, they might come to be accepted with him; which is the cry of all convinced persons. Our Savior’s answer is, verse 29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe.’’ “Will ye know the great work, wherein God is so delighted?” “It is this,” saith he, “that ye ‘believe,’ and be steadfast therein.”

    Hence, also, are many exhortations that are given us by the Holy Ghost to come up hereunto; as Hebrews 12:12; Isaiah 35. But I shall not farther insist on testimonies, which exceedingly abound to this purpose. The farther demonstrations of the point ensue: — 2. The next shall consist in the farther improvement of the first testimony concerning the glory of God, arising from our being steadfast in believing.

    This is granted by all, that God’s ultimate end in all things he doth himself, and in all that he requires us to do, is his own glory. It cannot be otherwise, if he be the first, only independent being, and prime cause of all things, and their chiefest good. God having, then, placed his glory in that which cannot be attained and brought about without believing, in answer to his present constitution of things, it must needs be acceptable to him; as is a suitable means to a designed end to any one’s acting in wisdom and righteousness.

    Bear in mind, I pray, what it is that I mean by believing. Though the word be general and large, yet in my intendment it is restrained to the particulars insisted on, — namely, the constant establishment of our souls in receiving the Lord Jesus, tendered unto us in the truth and from the love of the Father, for the pardon of sins, and acceptation of our persons before God.

    This, I say, according to God’s constitution of things in the covenant of grace, is necessary to bring about that end of glory to himself which he aims at. Hence he sums up his whole design to be “the praise of his glorious grace,” Ephesians 1:6.

    In Proverbs 25:2, if I mistake not, this is clearly asserted, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” or “to cover a matter.” I told you before what is the glory of God. It is not the splendor and majesty of his infinite and excellent perfections, which arise not from any thing he doth, but from what he is; but it is the exaltation, manifestation, and essence of those excellencies. When God is received, believed, known to be such as he declares himself, — therein is he glorified; that is his glory. This glory, saith the Holy Ghost, arises from the covering a matter.

    What matter is this? It is not the glory of God to cover every matter, all things whatever; yea, it is his glory to “bring to light the hidden things of darkness.” The manifestation of his own works “declares his glory,” Psalm 19:1. So doth the manifestation of the good works of his people, Matthew 5:16. It is, then, things of some peculiar kind that are here intended. The following opposition discovers this, “The honor of kings is to search out a matter.” What matter is it that it is the glory of the king to find out? Is it not faults and offenses against the law? Is it not the glory of magistrates to find out transgressions, that the transgressors may be punished? This is the glory of the magistrate, to inquire, find out, and punish offenses, transgressions of the law. It is, then, in answer hereunto, a sinful thing, sin itself, that is the matter or thing which it is the glory of God to cover. But what is it to cover a sinful matter? It is that which is opposed to the magistrate’s finding it out; — what that is, we have a full description in Job 29:16,17, “The cause I knew not, I searched out, and I brake the jaws of the wicked.” It is to make judicial inquisition after, to find out hidden transgressions, that the offenders may be brought to condign punishment; so that God’s concealing a matter is his not searching, with an intention of punishment, into sins and sinners, to make them naked to the stroke of the law. It is his hiding of sin from the condemning power of the law.

    The word here used is the same with that of David, Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is the man whose sin is covered.” And in sundry other places is it used to the same purpose; which is expressed, Micah 7:19, by “casting all our sins into the bottom of the sea.” That which is so disposed of is utterly covered from the sight of men. So doth God express the covering of the sins of his people, as to their not appearance to their condemnation, — they shall be “cast into the bottom of the sea.” Hence are our sins, in the New Testament, said ajfi>enai which we translate “forgiven,” and “to forgive;” and a]fesiv , “forgiveness,’’ in twenty places.

    The word signifies properly to “remove” or “dismiss” one; aJmarth>mata ajfi>enai , is “peccata missa facere,” — “to send or remove away our sins out of sight;” the same in substance with that which is here called “to cover.” And so is the word used in another business, Matthew 23:23, Afh>kate ta< baru>tera tou~ no>mou , — “You have omitted the weightier things of the law;” that is, you have laid them aside, as it were, out of sight, taking no care of them. Now, the bottom of all these expressions of removing, hiding, covering, and concealing sin, which gives life and significancy to them, making them import forgiveness of sin, is the allusion that is in them to the mercy-seat under the law. The making and use of it we have, Exodus 25:17,18. It was a plate of pure gold, lying on the ark, called tr,PoKæ , or “a covering.” In the ark was the law, written on tables of stone. Over the mercy-seat, between the cherubims, was the oracle representing the presence of God. By which the Holy Ghost does signify, that the mercy-seat was to cover the law, and the condemning power of it, as it were, from the eye of God’s justice, that we be not consumed. Hence is God said to cover sin, because by the mercy-seat he hides that which is the strength and power of sin, as to its guilt and tendency unto punishment. The apostle calls this “mercy-seat,” to< iJlasth>rion, Hebrews 9:5. That word is used but once more in the New Testament, and then Christ is called so, Romans 3:25, or o[n proe>qeto oJ iJlasth>rion, — “ whom God hath proposed as a mercy-seat.” Christ alone is that mercy-seat by whom sin, and the law from whence sin hath its rigour, is hidden. And from that typical institution is that expression in the Old Testament, “Hide me under thy wings,” — the wings of the cherubims, where the mercy-seat was; that is, in the bosom of Christ.

    Now, saith the Holy Ghost, thus to hide, to cover, to pardon sin by Christ, is the glory of God, wherein he will be exalted and admired, and for which he will be praised. Give him this, and you give him his great aim and design. Let him be believed in, trusted on, as God in Christ pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin, — so reconciling the world to himself, and manifesting his glorious properties therein, — and he hath his end.

    Should I now proceed to show what God hath done, what he doth, and will do, to set up his glory, it would make it evident, indeed, that he aimed at it. His eternal electing love lies at the bottom of this design. This is the tendency of it, — that God may be glorified in the forgiveness of sin. The sending of his Son, — a mystery of wisdom, goodness, and righteousness past finding out, — with all that, by his authority and commission, he did; suffered, and doth, was, that his name might be glorified in this thing. Hath the new covenant of grace any other end? Did not God on purpose propose, make, and establish that covenant in the blood of his Son; that whereas he had, by his works of creation and providence, by the old covenant and law, given glory to himself in other respects, he might by this glorify himself in the hiding of iniquity? The dispensation of the Spirit for the conversion of sinners, with all the mighty works ensuing thereupon, is to the same and no other purpose. Wherefore doth God exercise patience, forbearance, long-suffering towards us, — such as he will be admired for to eternity, — such as our souls stand amazed to think of? It is only that he may bring about this glory of his, — the covering of iniquity and pardoning of sin.

    Now, what is it that on our part is required, that this great design of God for his glory may be accomplished in and towards us? Is it not our believing, and steadfastness therein? I need not stay to manifest it; nor yet give farther light or strength to our inference from what hath been spoken, — namely, that if these things are so, then our believing and steadfastness therein is exceeding acceptable to God. 3. For the last demonstration of the point, I shall add the consideration of one particular that God useth in the pursuit of his glory, before mentioned; and that is, his institution and command of preaching the gospel to all nations, and the great care he hath taken to provide instruments for the propagation of it, and promulgation therein of the word of his grace, Matthew 28:19, “Go preach the gospel to ‘all nations;’ — ‘to every creature,’“ Mark 16:15. What is this gospel, which he will have preached and declared? Is it any thing but a declaration of his mind and will concerning his gracious acceptation of believing, and steadfastness therein? This God declares of his purpose, his eternal, unchangeable will, — that there is, by his appointment, an infallible, an inviolable connection between believing on Jesus Christ, the receiving of him, and the everlasting fruition of himself. This he declares to all; but his purpose to bestow faith effectually relates only to some: they “believe who are ordained to eternal life.” But this purpose of his will — that believing in Christ shall have the end mentioned, righteousness and salvation in the enjoyment of himself — concerns all alike. Now, to what end hath the Lord taken care that this gospel shall be so preached and declared, and that to the consummation of the world, but that indeed our believing is acceptable to him?

    But I shall desist from the pursuit of this demonstration, wherein so many things offer themselves to consideration, as that the naming of them must needs detain me longer from my principal aim than I am willing.

    SERMON 2.

    THE use of the point insisted on is, to encourage to the duty so commended and exalted; or, it contains motives unto steadfastness in believing the promises. Amongst the many that are usually insisted on to this purpose, I shall choose out some few that seem to be most effectual thereunto: — Use 1. We shall begin with the consideration of God himself, even the Father; and that declaration of his love, kindness, tenderness, readiness, and willingness to receive poor believers, which he hath made of himself in Christ Jesus. According as our apprehensions are of him, and his heart towards us, so will the settlement of our souls in cleaving to him by believing be. We are, amongst men, free and easy with them whom we know to be of a kind, loving, compassionate disposition; but full of doubts, fears, and jealousies, when we have to deal with those who are morose, peevish, and froward. Entertaining hard thoughts of God, ends perpetually in contrivances to fly and keep at a distance from him, and to employ ourselves about any thing in the world rather than to be treating and conversing with him. What delight can any one take in him whom he conceives to be always furious, wrathful, ready to destroy? or, what comfortable expectation can any one have from such a one? Consider, then, in some particulars, what God declares of himself, and try, in the exercising of your thoughts thereon, whether it be not effectual to engage your hearts to steadfastness in believing the promises, and closing with the Son of his love tendered in them: — (1.) He gives us his name for our support, Isaiah 50:10. He speaks to poor, dejected, bewildered, fainting sinners: “Give not over; let not go your hold; though you be in darkness to all other means of support and consolation, yet ‘trust in the name of the LORD.’ And,” saith he, “in case you do so, this name shall be a strong tower unto you,’” Proverbs 18:10.

    And what this name of God, which is such a stay and safe defense, is, is declared at large, Exodus 34:6,7. This name of his, is that glory which he promised to show to Moses, chapter 33. To be known by this name is that great glory of God which he aims to be exalted in; yea, and God is so fully known by his name, and the whole of the obedience he requireth of us is so ordered and disposed in the revelation thereof, that when our Savior had made him and his whole will known from his bosom, he sums up his whole work in this, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world,” John 17:6.

    The manifestation of the name of God to the elect was the great work of Christ on the earth, as he was the prophet and teacher of his church. He declared the name of God, — his gracious, loving, tender nature, — his blessed properties, that were fit to encourage poor creatures to come to him, and to trust in him. This, then, is his name with whom we have to do in this matter; — the name he hath given himself for us to know him and call him by, — that we may deal with him as such, as his name bespeaks him to be. He is gracious, loving, ready to pity, help, receive us; delighting in our good, rejoicing in our approach to him. This he hath proclaimed of himself, — this his only Son hath revealed him to be. He is not called Apollyon, a destroyer; but, the Savior of men. Who would not venture on him, in and by the way which himself hath appointed and approved? (2.) As is his name, so is his nature. Saith he of himself, Isaiah 27:4, “Fury is not in me.” He speaks with reference to his church, to believers, of whom we are speaking. There is no such thing as that anger and wrath in God in reference to thee whereof thou art afraid. Hast thou had hard thoughts of him? Hast thou nothing but entertained affrighting reports concerning him, as though he were a devouring fire and endless burnings? “Be not,” saith he, “mistaken; ‘fury is not in me.’“ He hath not one wrathful, revengeful thought towards thee. No; take hold of his strength, and you shall have peace, verse 5. Nay, he is “love,” 1 John 4:8,16; — of an infinitely loving and tender nature, — all love. There is nothing in him that is inconsistent with love itself. We see how a little love, that is but a weak affection in the nature of a man, will carry a tender father towards a child. How did it melt, soften, reconcile the father of the prodigal in the parable! “O my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee!” saith David, a poor father in distress for the death of a rebellious child. How will a child bear himself above dread and terror, under many miscarriages, upon the account of the love of a tender father! What, then, shall we say or think of Him who is love in the abstract, — whose nature is love? May we not conclude that certainly he “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy,” as the psalmist speaks? <19A308> Psalm 103:8. According as we are, by degrees, led into an acquaintance with God in his properties (for we are led into it by degrees and steps, not being able at once to bear all the glory which he is pleased here to shine upon us with), so are we amazed with his several excellencies. Experience of any property of God as engaged in Christ, and exercising itself for our good, is greatly conquering to the soul; but none so much as this, — his being love, and ready to forgive on that account. Such is the frame of the church, Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by transgression?”

    Can it enter into the heart of man? O who is like to him! Is it possible he should be thus to sinners! This discovery overwhelms the soul, and strengthens it in faith and trust in him.

    There is a general compassion in God, by which he proceeds in the dispensation of his providence, that is too hard for the apprehensions of men when they come to be concerned in it. Poor Jonah was angry that he was so merciful, Jonah 4:2, “I knew that thou wast not one for me to deal with: thou art so gracious and merciful, slow to anger, of such kindness, and repentest thee of the evil, that it is not for me, with any credit or reputation, to be engaged and employed in thy work and service.”

    And if God be thus full of compassion to the world, which today is, and to-morrow shall be cast into the fire, is he not much more loving and tender unto you, “O ye of little faith?” Suit, then, the thoughts of your hearts, in your dealing with God, to this revelation which he hath made of his own nature. He is good, — love and kindness itself; fury is not in him, — he is ready to forgive, accept, embrace. And, — (3.) According to his name and nature, so are his dealings with us, and his actings towards us. From him who is so called, so disposed, we may expect that what he doth in a suitableness thereunto he will do with great readiness and cheerfulness, that so he may answer his name, and express his nature. “How, then, will he show and manifest these things ?” See Isaiah 55:7, He will have mercy: he is love, — he will have mercy; yea, “he will abundantly pardon.” “But how will he do it?” Verse 8, Alas you cannot think how: his thoughts are not as your thoughts. You have poor, low, mean thoughts of God’s way of pardoning; you can by no means reach to it, or comprehend it: raise your apprehensions to the utmost, yet you come not near it. Verse 9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” “But doth not God, then, pardon as we do? — come hardly to it, through many persuasions, and at length do it eJkwkonti ge qumw~| , — ‘with an unwilling kind of willingness,’ that ingenuous spirits had almost as willingly have our wrath as our pardon?” No such thing. What he doth, he doth with his whole heart, and his whole soul, Jeremiah 32:41; and rejoices in the doing of it, Zephaniah 3:17. He will have mercy, he will abundantly pardon; he will do it with his whole soul; he will rejoice in his so doing, and rest in his love. I know not what we can desire more, to assure us of free acceptance with him. You will say, perhaps, that this is but sometimes; and it is well if we can come nigh him in that season. Nay, but he is acting, herein suitably to his name and nature; his whole soul and his whole heart is in it: and therefore he will take a course for the accomplishing of it. Isaiah 30:18, He will wait to be gracious. His heart is set upon it, and he will take advantage to accomplish his desire and design. And if our stubbornness and folly be such as to be ready to wear out his patience, — to make him weary, as he complains, Isaiah 43:24, and to cause him to serve beyond the limits of his patience, — he will be exalted, take to himself his great power for the removal of our stubbornness, that he may be merciful unto us. One way or other he will accomplish the desire of his heart, the design of his grace.

    For the farther clearing of this truth, take along with you these few considerations of God’s dealing with us, and his condescension therein, that he may act suitably to his own nature and name: — [1.] His comparing himself to creatures of the most tender and boundless affection, Isaiah 49:15,16. This is as high as we can go. The affection of a mother to a sucking child, the child of her womb, is the utmost instance that we can give of love, tenderness, and affection. “This,” says God, “you cannot think, you ought not to imagine, that a tender, loving mother, should not have compassion on ‘a sucking child, the son of her womb.’

    Things will act according to their natures, — even tigers love their own offspring; and shall ‘a woman forget her sucking child?’ But yet,” saith God, “raise up your apprehensions to this, take it for granted that she may do so, — which yet, without offering violence to nature, cannot be imagined, — ‘yet I will not forget you;’ — this will not reach my love, nay affection.” Were we as secure of the love of God to us, as we are of the love of a good, gracious mother to her sucking child, whom we see embracing of it, and rejoicing over it all the day long, we would think our estate very comfortable and secure. But, alas! what is this to the love of God to the meanest saint on the earth! What is a drop to the ocean! what is a little dying, decaying affection, to an infiniteness, an eternity of love!

    See the working of this love in God, Hosea 11:8,9; Jeremiah 31:20. [2.] His condescension to entreat us that it may be so, — that he may exercise pity, pardon, goodness, kindness, mercy towards us. He is so full, that he is, as it were, pained until he can get us to himself, that he may communicate of his love unto us. “We pray you,” says the apostle, “in Christ’s stead, as if God by us did beseech you.” What to do? what is he so earnest about? what would God have of us? Some great thing, some difficult service assuredly. “No,” says he, “but, ‘be reconciled to God,’” 2 Corinthians 5:20. Says God, “O ye sons of men, ‘why will ye die?’ I beseech you, be friends with me; let us agree; — accept of the atonement. I have love for you; take mercy, take pardon; do not destroy your own souls.” “This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,” Isaiah 28:12.

    Remember how the Scripture abounds with exhortations and entreaties to this purpose. [3.] In condescension to our weakness, he hath added his oath to this purpose. Will we not yet believe him? will we not yet venture upon him?

    Are we afraid that if we put ourselves upon him, into his hand, he will kill us, we shall die? He gives us this last possible relief against such misgiving thoughts. “Swear unto me that I shall not die, is the utmost that any one requires, when, with the greatest ground of mistrust, he gives up himself to him that is mightier than he. “Now, ‘as I live, saith the Lord,’ I would not the death of a sinner,” Ezekiel 33:11.

    Methinks this should put an end to all strife. We have his promise and oath, Hebrews 6:18, and what would we have more? He is of an infinite loving and tender nature; he entreats us to come to him, and swears we shall not suffer by our so doing. Innumerable other instances of the like kind might be given, to evidence the actings of God towards us to be suitable to his name and nature, before insisted on.

    Now the end aimed at, as you know, in these considerations, is, by them to encourage our hearts in the belief of the promises. It is God with whom therein we have to do. The things we receive by our believing are excellent, desirable, what alone we want, and which will do us good to eternity. The difficulties of believing arise from our unworthiness, and the terror of him with whom we have to do. To disentangle our souls from under the power of such fears and considerations, this, in the first place, is proposed, — the tender, gracious, loving nature of Him with whom herein we have to do. Fill your hearts, then, with such thoughts of God as these; exercise your minds with such apprehensions of him. The psalmist tells you what will be the issue of it, Psalm 9:10, “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee;” — establishment in believing will ensue. If we know the name of God, as by himself revealed, — know the love and kindness wrapped up therein, — we cannot but trust him. Let us be always thinking of God, with a clear persuasion that so it is; that he is gracious, loving, ready to receive us, delighting, rejoicing to embrace us, to do us good, to give us mercy and glory, — whatever he hath promised in Christ; and it will exceedingly tend to the establishment of our hearts.

    But now, concerning the things that have been spoken, great caution is to be used. It is not a general notion of the nature of God that I have been insisting on; but the goodness and love of God to his in Christ Jesus.

    Wherefore, farther, to clear this whole business, and that a sure foundation may be laid of this great thing, I desire to add the following observations: — 1st. I acknowledge that all that can be said, by all or any of the sons of men, concerning the goodness, loveliness, kindness of God in his own blessed nature, is inconceivably, infinitely below what it is in itself. What a little portion is it that we all know of his goodness! Though we have all his works and his whole word to teach us, yet, as we have no affections large enough to entertain it, so no faculty to receive or apprehend it.

    Admiration which is the soul’s “nonplus,” its doing it knows not what, the winding of it up until it stands still, ready to break — is all that we can arrive unto in the consideration hereof. His excellencies and perfections in this kind are sufficient, superabundant, for the engagement of the love and obedience of all rational creatures; and when they can go no farther, they may, with the psalmist, call in all their fellow-creatures to the work. Nor can any man exercise himself in a more noble contemplation than that of the beauty and loveliness of God. “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!” They who have nothing but horrid, harsh apprehensions of the nature of God, — that he is insupportably severe and wrathful, — know him not. To have thoughts of him as cruel and sanguinary; to make use of his greatness and infinite excellencies only to frighten, terrify, and destroy the work of his hands, who is good, and doth good, — who made all things good, in beauty and order, and who loves all the things he hath made, — who hath filled all that we see or can think on with the fruits of his goodness, — is unreasonable, unjust, and wicked. Consider God and his works together as he made them, and in the order by him assigned to them; — there is nothing in his nature towards you but kindness, benignity, goodness, power (exerted to continue to you the goodness first parted), grace, and bounty, in daily, continual additions of more.

    But, alas! they are sinners of whom we speak. It is true, in God, as he is by nature, there is an abundant excellency and beauty, a ravishing goodness and love, for the endearing of his creatures. As he made them, they could desire no more: the not loving him above all for his loveliness, for the suitableness of his excellencies to bind their hearts to him as their chiefest and only good, was the sin of some of them; but now the whole state of things is changed, upon supposition of the entrance of sin. God, indeed, is not changed; — his excellencies and perfections are the same from eternity to eternity: but the creature is changed; and what was desirable and amiable before to him, ceases to be so to him, though it continue to be so in itself. He who, whilst he stood in the law of his creation, had boldness with God, — was neither afraid nor ashamed, — after he had sinned, trembled at the hearing of his voice; yea, endeavored to part with him for ever, and to hide himself from him. What property of God was more endearing to his creatures than his holiness? How is he glorious, lovely, desirable above all, to them who abide in his image and likeness! But as for sinners, they cannot serve him, because of his holiness, Joshua 24:19. In the revelation of God to sinners, together with the discovery of the excellencies before mentioned, — of his goodness, kindness, graciousness, — there is also a vision given of his justice, wrath, anger, severity, and indignation, against sin. These unconquerably interpose between the sinner and all emanations and fruits of goodness and love. Whence, instead of being endeared to God, their contrivance is that of Micah 6:6,7; and upon a conviction of the successlessness of any such attempts, they cry out, “Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Isaiah 33:14. A desire to avoid him to all eternity is all that a sinner’s most choice consideration of God, in his own essential excellencies, can lead him to. For who will set the thorns in battle against him? who will bring the stubble that is fully dry to a consuming fire? And therefore it is that those who propose general grace, from a natural goodness in God, as a ground of consolation to sinners, when they come to answer that objection, “Yea, but God is just, as well as merciful,” do, with many good words, take away with one hand just as much as they give with the other. “Apprehend,” say they, “God’s gracious nature; he is good to all; trust upon it: believe not them that say otherwise.” But he is just also, and will not let any sin go unpunished; and therefore cannot but punish sin according to its demerit. Where is now the consolation spoken of? Wherefore observe, — 2dly. That since the entrance of sin, there is no apprehension — I mean for sinners — of a goodness, love, and kindness in God, as flowing from his natural properties, but upon an account of the interposition of his sovereign will and pleasure. It is most false which by some is said, — that special grace flows from that which they call general grace, and special mercy from general mercy. There is a whole nest of mistakes in that conception. God’s sovereign, distinguishing will is the fountain of all special grace and mercy. “I will,” saith he, “cause all my glory to pass before thee;” and, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15. Here is the fountain of mercy, even the will of God. He is of a merciful and gracious nature; but dispenses mercy and grace by his sovereign will. It is electing love that is at the bottom of all special grace, all special kindness; whence the election obtains, when the rest are hardened, Romans 11:7 [margin]. He blesseth us with spiritual blessings, according as he hath chosen us, Ephesians 1:3,4.

    God having made all things good, and imparted of the fruits of his goodness to them, might, without the least injury to, or restraint of, his own goodness, have given over all them who sinned, and came short of his glory, to an everlasting separation from him. That he deals otherwise with any of them, is not from any propensity in his nature and goodness towards their relief; but from his sovereign, wise, gracious will, wherein he most freely purposed in himself to do them good by Christ, Ephesians 1:9.

    This I say, then, all considerations of the goodness and mercifulness of the nature of God, and of general grace on that account, are so balanced in the soul of a sinner by those of his justice and severity, — so weakened by the experience all men have of the not exerting those properties effectually for the good of all that are pretended to have a right thereunto, — that they are no ground, as so considered, of consolation to sinners. And if any one should venture to draw nigh unto God on the account of such general grace, he would meet the sword of justice before he would lay hold upon Him. So that, — 3dly. Where there is mention in the Scripture made of the goodness of God, by which he reveals himself to be love, to be gracious and tender, it is not upon the general account of his perfections considered in himself, but on the new and special account of the free engagement of his attributes in Christ with regard to his elect. Such expressions, as far as they have a spiritual tendency, and are not restrained to the law of providence, belong to the covenant of grace, and God manifested in Christ. And this is that which is intended by our divines, who say that it is not naturally from the goodness of God that he doth good to sinners, but from his gracious will; for were it not for that, all communications of the other unto sinners would be everlastingly shut up.

    This, then, is that which we are to close withal, — the gracious nature of God, even the Father, as manifested in Christ, on the ground of the atonement made for sin. This is he whom the poor, weak believer hath to do withal. This is he who invites us to the acceptation of Christ in the promises, — he with whom we have principally to do in all this affair. He is love, — ready, willing to receive and embrace those who come to him by Christ. Be convinced of his goodwill and kindness, his patience to usward, and we cannot but be established in closing with his faithfulness in his promises. 4thly. Observe who it is of whom I am speaking. It is believers, those who are interested in God by Christ. Let others, then (such as are not so), take heed lest they abuse and wrest the doctrine of the grace of God to their own destruction. I know nothing is more common with men of vain and light spirits, formalists, yea, and open presumptuous sinners, than to say and think, “God is merciful; there is yet good hopes on that account. He made not men to damn them; and whatever preachers say, it will, at least it may, be well with us at last.” But, poor creatures! even this God of whom we have been speaking, “is a consuming fire; — a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;” — a God that will not let the least sin go unpunished.

    And the greater is his love, his goodness, his condescension to those who come in unto him upon his own terms by Christ; the greater will be his wrath and indignation against those who refuse his tender of love in his own way, and yet “add drunkenness to thirst, and say they shall have peace, though they walk in the imaginations of their own hearts.”

    Use 2. Let a second motive be taken from the excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom, by believing, we do close with and receive. Now, the excellencies of his person are such, as not only may engage us to come to him to attain them, but they are all suited to encourage us in our coming, — to support us, and make us steadfast in our believing). f10 Use 3. We may likewise to the same purpose consider the promises of God, wherein both his love and the excellency and suitableness of the Lord Jesus Christ are signally and eminently expressed. Many things to very good purpose are usually spoken of the promises; — their nature, stability, preciousness, efficacy, centring all in one covenant, their confirmation in Christ, are usually insisted on; being those in particular which the soul in believing closes withal. I shall at present pitch on these two things: — (1.) The infinite condescension the Lord useth in them for the obviating [of] all the objections and fears of our unbelieving hearts. (2.) The manifestation of his wisdom and love, in suiting them to the most pressing wants, troubles, disquietments, and fears of our souls, [so] that we must needs see his intendment in them to do us good. (1.) The first of these might be evinced by sundry sorts of instances. I shall insist on one only, — and that is, the unexpected relief that is laid up in them for us, exhibiting grace and mercy when any thing in the world might rather be looked for. This, with the use of it, I shall manifest by an induction of some particular promises which are generally known to all: — Isaiah 43:22-26. Here are persons guilty of sundry sinful follies. The Lord chargeth them home upon their consciences, to their trouble and disquietment; he makes them go with wounds and blows upon that account. They had neglected his worship, and not called on his name. And whereas they could not utterly cast off all performance of duties, yet what they did abide in the performance of was exceeding burdensome to them; they were weary of it, — yea, weary of God therein, and of all spiritual communion and converse with him: — “Thou hast been weary of me.”

    Their convictions compelled them to do God some service; but it was, as we say, a death to them; — they were weary of it; and most things, either as to the matter or manner that God required, they utterly neglected What, then, says God of himself in reference to this state of theirs? “Notwithstanding all my patience, thou hast made me weary of thee; like one that hath a hard service, that cannot abide in it. It is a bondage,” says God, “for me to have any thing to do with thee.” Suppose we now a poor soul, fully convinced that thus is the state and condition with him, — so powerful is his unbelief and corruption, that he is weary of God and his ways: it may be he would faintly have it otherwise, and therefore binds himself to the performance of duties, if so be that God thereby may be flattered; — but withal, because of his innumerable follies, God also is weary of him, that he can bear the bondage of him no longer; he is “weary of serving.” What can such a one conclude with himself, but that everlasting separation from God will be the close of this dispensation? He is weary of God, and God is weary of him; surely, then, they must part, and that for ever. What remedy is there, or can there be? Poor soul! lie down in darkness.

    But see, now, what God says in this case, and what an unexpected condescension there is in the word of promise. Is it, Be gone? Take a bill of divorce? Take thine own course, and I will take mine against thee? No; says God, “This is an estate and condition whereof I am weary, and thou art weary; — I am weary of thy multiplying the guilt of sin; thou art wearied in serving the power of thy sin. I will put an end to this state of things; we will have peace again between us. I will blot out thy sins, and remember thine iniquities no more. I, even I, will do it.” He redoubles the word passionately, emphatically, to call to mind who he is with whom in this condition we have to do: “‘I, even I,’ — who am God, and not man; I, — whose thoughts are not as your thoughts; I, — who am great in mercy, and who will abundantly pardon; — I will do it.”

    Yea, but saith the poor convinced soul, “I know no reason why thou shouldst do so, — I cannot believe it; for I know not upon what account I should be so dealt withal.” Says God, “I know full well that there is nothing in thee upon the account whereof I should thus deal with thee; there is nothing in thee, but for what thou deservest to be everlastingly cut off; but quiet thy heart, I will do it for my own sake I have deeper engagements on my own account for this than thou canst look into.”

    Doubtless, such a word as this, coming in when God and the soul are at the point of giving over and parting fellowship, — when the soul is ready to do so indeed, and hath great cause to think that God will be first therein, — then, contrary to all expectation, and above all hopes, — must needs constrain it to cry out, as Thomas, upon sight of the wounds of Christ, “My Lord and my God.” Let the soul that cannot get itself unto any steadfastness in closing with Christ in the promises — that staggers, and is tossed to and fro between hopes and fears, being filled with a sense of sin and unworthiness, — dwell a while upon the consideration of this unexpected surprisal, and give up itself to the power of it. Isaiah 57:17,18, gives me another instance to the same purpose. This seems to be the description of a man totally rejected of God. The most dejected sinner can hardly make a more deplorable description of his condition, though ready enough to speak all the evil of himself that he can think of. Let us see how things are disposed. There is an iniquity found in him and upon him, that the soul of God abhors. In this evil there is a continuance, until God manifest himself to take notice of it, and to be provoked with it: “I was wroth,” saith God [according to the sense of the text quoted], “and took a course to let him know so. I laid my hand upon him, and smote him in some outward dispensation, that he could not but take notice that I was wroth. Upon this smiting it may be he begins to seek and pray, but I am not found of him; I hid me, — I let him pray, but took no notice of him, but hid myself in wrath. Surely this will do, he will now leave his iniquity and return to me. Nay,” saith God, “he grows worse than ever; neglecting my smiting, hiding, wrath, he goes on frowardly in the ways of his own heart.”

    God had appointed in the law, that when a son was rebellious against his parents, and grown incorrigible therein, he should be “stoned with stones.”

    What shall be done, then, with this person, who is thus incorrigible under the hand of God? Says God, “‘ I have seen his ways,’ — it will not be better. Shall I destroy him, consume him, make him as Admah and Zeboim? Ah! ‘my bowels are turned in me; my repentings are kindled together: I will heal him.’ If he goes on thus, and no outward means will do him good, he must perish; but ‘I will heal him.’ He wounded his soul; I also wounded him in the blows I gave him when I was wroth. Is he not ‘my dear son?..... Since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him,’” Jeremiah 31:20, He shall have wine and oil, grace and pardon, for all his wounds. But, alas! he is not able to go one step in God’s ways, he is so wonted to his own. “Leave that to me,” saith God; “‘I will lead him;’ I will give him strength, guidance, and direction to go in my way, ‘ I will lead him, yea, and give him comfort’ also.”

    Now, if any one cannot in some measure bring his condition within the verge and compass of this promise, it is hard with him indeed. And as I know the necessity of that duty, and usefulness of searching our hearts for the fruits of the Spirit in us, whereby we are made meet for communion with God, — which are all evidences of our acceptance with God, and pardon of sin thereon; so, I dare say, these are promises that will sufficiently warrant a perplexed soul to close with Christ, as tendered from the love of the Father, even when it can find in itself no other qualifications or conditions, but only such as render it every way unworthy to be accepted. We do not say to a poor, naked, hungry, harbourless man, “Go, get thee clothes, get thee food, get thee a habitation, and then I will give thee an alms: no, but, “Because thou wantest all these, therefore I will give thee an alms.” “Because thou art poor, blind, polluted, guilty, sinful, I will give thee mercy,” says God.

    Yea, but at least a man’s sense of his state and condition, with his acknowledgment of it, is needful to precede his closing with the promise.

    It is so as to his receiving of it, — this oftentimes being the fruit and work of the promise as given itself. But as to the tender of the promise, and Christ in the promise, unto us, it is not so. When did God give the great promise of Christ to Adam? was it when he was sorrowing, repenting, qualifying his soul? No; but when he was flying, hiding, and had no thoughts but of separation from God. Clod calls him forth, and at once tells him what he had deserved, pronounces the curse, and gives him the blessing, “I raised thee up,” saith Christ, “under the apple-tree; there thy mother brought thee forth Song of Solomon 8:5. From the very place of sin Christ raiseth up the soul. So Isaiah 46:12, “Hearken to me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness.” Here are two notable qualifications, stout-heartedness, and remoteness from righteousness.

    What saith God to them? Verse 13, He discourses to them of mercy and salvation; and, Isaiah 55:1, “Buy,” saith he, “wine and milk.” “Yea, but I have nothing to buy withal, and these things require a price.” Indeed, so they do; but take them “without money, and without price.” “But he calls on them only who are ‘thirsty.’“ True; but it is a thirst of indigeney and total want, not a thirst of spiritual desires; for in whomsoever that is, they have already tasted of this wine and milk, and are blessed, Matthew 5.

    Nay, we may go one step farther. Proverbs 9:4,.5, Christ invites them to his bread and wine who have no heart [ bleArsæj\ ]. This, commonly, is the last objection that an unbelieving heart makes against itself, — it hath no mind to Christ. Indeed he hath no heart for Christ. “But yet,” saith Christ, “thou shalt not thus go off, — I will not admit of this excuse; you that have no heart, ‘turn in hither.’“ Now, I say, this obviating of all objections by unexpected appearances of love, mercy, and compassion in the promises, is a strong inducement unto steadfastness in believing. When a soul shall find that God takes for granted that all is true which it can charge itself withal; that its sin, folly, unbelief, heartlessness, is so as he apprehends it, and unconceivably worse than he can think; that he takes for granted all the aggravations of his sins, that lie so dismally in his eye, — his backsliding, frowardness, greatness of sin, impotency, coldness at the present, not answering in affection to the convictions that are upon him; and notwithstanding all this, yet [says,] “Come, let us agree; accept of peace, close with Christ, receive him from my love;” — surely it cannot but in some measure engage it into a rest and acquiescence in the word of promise. (2.) The second part of this motive is taken from the suitableness of the promises to every real distress and cause of staggering whatever. My meaning is, that whereas we are exercised with great variety of doubts and fears, of pressures and perplexities, God hath tempered his love and mercy in Christ, as prepared in the promises, unto every one of these wants and straits whatever. Had God only declared himself to us as God almighty, God all-sufficient, he might justly require and expect that we should act faith on him in every condition. But, moreover, he hath, as it were, drawn out his own all-sufficiency in Christ into numberless streams, flowing in upon all our particular wants, distresses, and temptations whatever. When God gave manna in the wilderness, it was to be gathered and ground in mills, or beat in mortars, and fried in pans, before it could be eaten, Numbers 11:8; but the bread which came from heaven, the manna in the promises, is already ground, beaten, baked, ready for every one’s hunger.

    It is useful, if you have a well about your house, whither you may repair to draw water; but when you have several pipes from a fountain, that convey water to every room, for every particular business, you are greatly to blame if your occasions are not supplied. We have not only a well of salvation to draw water from, but also innumerable streams flowing from that well into every empty vessel.

    I shall give one or two instances of this kind: — Isaiah 32:2: Here are four pressures and troubles mentioned, whereunto we may be exposed: — [1.] The wind; [2.] A tempest; [3.] Dearth; [4.] Weariness.

    And unto all these is the man in the promise — the Lord Jesus Christ, the King that “reigns in righteousness,” verse 1 — suited as a supply in them, or against them. [1.] The first proposed evil is the wind; — and in respect hereof Christ is a “hiding-place.” He that was ready to be cast from the top of a rock with a strong wind, would desire nothing more than a hiding-place until the strong blast were over. When fierce winds have driven a vessel at sea from all its anchors, so that it hath nothing to keep it from splitting on the next rock whereunto it is driven, a safe harbour, a hiding-place, is the great desire and expectation of the poor creatures that are in it. Our Savior tells us what this wind is, Matthew 7:25. The wind that blows upon and casts down false professors to the ground, is the wind of strong and urging temptations. Is this the condition of the soul? [do] strong temptations beat upon it, which are ready to hurry it down into sin and folly, — that it hath no rest from them, one blast immediately succeeding another, — that the soul begins to faint, to be weary, give over, and say, “I shall perish; I cannot hold out to the end?” Is this thy condition? See the Lord Christ suited unto it, and the relief that is in him in this promise, — he is “a hiding-place.” Saith he, “These temptations seek thy life; but with me thou shalt be safe.” Fly to his bosom, retreat into his arms, expect relief by faith from him, and thou shalt be safe. [2.] There is a tempest; — in reference whereunto Christ is here said to be “a covert.” A tempest, in the Scripture, represents the wrath of God for sin. “He breaketh me,” saith Job, “with a tempest,’’ Job 9:17, when he lay under a sense of the displeasure and indignation of God. He threatens to rain upon the wicked “an horrible tempest,” Psalm 11:6. A tempest is a violent mixture of wind, rain, hail, thunder, darkness, and the like.

    Those who have been at sea will tell you what a tempest means. Such was that in Egypt, Exodus 9:23. There was thunder and hail, and fire running upon the ground; fire or dreadful lightning, mingled with hail, verse 24.

    What did men now do, upon the apprehension of this tempest? They made their servants and cattle flee into the houses, verse 20; got them into safe covert, that they might not be destroyed; — and they were safe, accordingly.

    Suppose a poor creature to be under this tempest, full of sad and dreadful thoughts and apprehensions of the wrath of God; behind, before, round about, he can see nothing but hailstones and coals of fire; heaven is dark and dismal over him; he hath not seen sun, moon, or stars, in many days, — not one glimpse of light from above, or hopes of an end. “I shall perish; the earth shakes under me; the pit is opening for me. Is there no hope?”

    Why, see how Christ is suited in this distress also. He is “a covert” from this tempest; get into him, and thou shalt be safe. He hath borne all this storm, as far as thou art concerned; abide with him, and not one hurtful drop shall fall upon thee, — not one hair of thy head shall be singed with this fire. Hast thou fears? hast thou a sense of the wrath of God for sin? dost thou fear it will one day fall upon thee, and be thy portion? Behold a covert, a sure defense, is here provided. [3.] There is drought, causing barrenness, making the heart as a dry place, as a heath or a parched wilderness; — in reference whereunto Christ is a river of water, abundantly, plentifully flowing for its refreshment. Drought in the Scripture denotes almost all manner of evil, it being the great, distressing punishment of those countries. When God threatens sinners, he says they “shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good” (or water) “cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,” Jeremiah 17:6; he shall be left to barrenness and want of all refreshment. And David complains, in his great distress, that his “moisture was turned into the drought of summer,” Psalm 32:4.

    Two things are evidently in this drought; — want of grace or moisture, to make the soul fruitful; and want of rain or consolation, to make it joyful.

    Barrenness and sorrow, or disconsolation, are in this dry place. Let us, then, suppose this condition also. Doth the soul find itself like the parched ground? It hath no moisture to enable it to bring forth fruit, but is dry, sapless; all the fruits of the Spirit seem to be withered; — faith, love, zeal, delight in God, not one of them flourishes; yea, it thinks they are quite dead; it hath no showers, not any drop of consolation, no refreshment, but pines away under barrenness and sorrow. What would now best suit such a condition? Why, turn in a stream of water upon this parched ground. Let there be springs in this thirsty place, let “water break out in the wilderness, and streams in the desert,” as Isaiah 35:6, and how will all things be changed! Those things that hung their heads, and had no beauty, will flourish again; and the things that are ready to die will be revived.

    Why, in this condition Jesus Christ will be water, and that in abundance, — rivers of water, that there shall be no want. He will, by his Spirit, give supplies of grace to make the soul fruitful; he will give in consolation to make it joyful. [4.] There is weariness; — and in respect hereof Christ is said to be “the shadow of a great rock.’’ Weariness of travel and labor, through heat and drought, is insupportable. He that is to travel in a thirsty land, dry and hungry, the sun beating on his head, will be ready, with Jonah in such a condition, to wish he were dead, to be freed of his misery. Oh, how welcome will “the shadow of a great rock” be to such a poor creature! If Jonah rejoiced in “the shade of a gourd,” how much better is “the shadow of a great rock!” Many a poor soul, exercised with temptations, hindered in duties, scorched with a sense of sin, is weary in his journeying towards Canaan, in his course of obedience; and thinks with himself, it were better for him even to die than to live, having no hopes to come to his journey’s end. Let now this poor soul lie down and repose himself a little under the shadow and safe-guarding protection of this Rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ, — how will his strength and resolution come to him again!

    Thus, I say, is Christ in the promises peculiarly suited to all the several distresses that we may at any time fall into. I might multiply instances to this purpose; but this one may suffice to make good the consideration proposed, for the encouraging of us to believe, from the suiting of the grace in the promises to all our wants.

    Two things, then, may hence be deducted: — 1st. The willingness of God that we should be established in believing. To what end should the Lord thus obviate all objections that can possibly arise in a misgiving heart, and accommodate grace in Christ to all perplexities and troubles we at any time lie under, were he not willing we should lay hold on that grace, own it, accept it, and give him the praise of it? If I should go to a poor man, and tell him, “Thou art poor, but see, here are riches; thou art naked, but here is clothing; thou art hungry and thirsty, here is food and refreshment; thou art wounded, but I have the most precious balm in the world:” if I have no intent to have him partake of these riches, food, raiment, medicine, do not I egregiously mock and deride the man’s misery and sorrow? Will a wise or good man do thus? Though many will deafen their ears to the cries of the poor, yet who almost is so desperately wicked as to delight himself in sporting at their misery, and increasing their sorrow? And shall we think that the God of heaven, “the Father of mercy, and God of all consolation,” who is all goodness, sweetness, and truth (as hath been declared), when he doth so suit and temper his fullness to our wants, and suits his grace in Christ to all our fears and troubles for their removal, doth it to increase our misery, and mock our calamity? I speak of the heirs of promise, to whom they are made and do belong. Is it not time for you to leave disputing and questioning the sincerity and faithfulness of God in all these engagements?

    What farther, what greater security can we expect or desire? So that, — 2dly. All unbelief must needs be at length totally resolved into the stubbornness of the will. “Ye will not come unto me,” saith our Savior, “that ye may have life.” When all a man’s objections are prevented and answered, — when all his wants are suited, — when a ground is laid that all his fears may be removed, and yet he keeps off and closes not, — what can it be but a mere perverseness of will that rules him? Doth not such an one say, “Let the Lord do what he will, say what he can, though my mouth be stopped, that I have nothing wherewith to wrangle or contend any more, yet I will believe”? Let this, then, be another motive or encouragement, which, added to what was spoken before concerning God, even the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, is all I shall insist upon.

    SERMON 3.

    THE NATURE AND BEAUTY OF GOSPEL WORSHIP. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18.

    IN the foregoing verses the apostle makes mention of a double reconciliation, wrought by the blood of the cross, — the one, of the Jews and Gentiles unto God; the other, of the same persons one to another.

    There were two things in the law: — First, Worship instituted under it; Secondly, The curse annexed unto it. The first of these being appropriated to the Jews, with an exclusion of the Gentiles, was the cause of unspeakable enmity and hatred between them. The latter, or the curse, falling upon both, was a cause of enmity between God and both of them.

    The Lord Jesus Christ, in his death removing both these, wrought and effected the twofold reconciliation mentioned. First, He brake down “the middle wall of partition between us,” verse 14, and so “made both one;” that is, “between us,” — the Jews and Gentiles. He hath taken away all cause of difference that should hinder us to be one in him. And how hath he done this? By taking away “the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” verse 15; — that is, by abolishing that way of worship which was the Jews’ privilege and burden, from which the Gentiles were excluded; so breaking down that wall of partition. Secondly, By the cross at his death he slew the enmity, or took away the curse of the law; so reconciling both Jews and Gentiles unto God; as verse 16. By bearing the curse of the law, he reconciled both unto God; — by taking away and abolishing the worship of the law, he took away all grounds of difference amongst them.

    Upon this reconciliation ensueth a twofold advantage or privilege; — an access into the favor of God, who before was at enmity with them; and a new and more glorious way of approaching unto God in his worship than that shout which they were before at difference among themselves.

    The first of these is mentioned, Romans 5:2. And that which there called, an “access into this grace wherein we stand,” may in the text be called, an “access unto the Father;” that is, the favor and acceptance with God which we do enjoy. Thus our access unto God is our sense of acceptance with him upon the reconciliation made for us by Jesus Christ.

    But this seems not to me to be the special intendment of the text; for that access unto God here mentioned seems to be the effect of the reconciliation of the Jews and Gentiles among themselves, by the abolishing of the ceremonial worship; — a new and more glorious way of worship being now provided for them both in common, is there expressed.

    Before the reconciliation made, one party alone had the privilege of the carnal worship then instituted; but now both parties have in common such a way of worship, wherein they have immediate access unto God; — in which the apostle asserts the beauty and glory of the gospel worship of Jews and Gentiles above that which, enjoyed by the Jews, was a matter of separation and division between them. And this appears to be the intendment of the words from verse 17. That which is here asserted, is not an immediate effect of the reconciliation made by the blood of Christ on the cross, but of his preaching peace unto, and calling both Jews and Gentiles, — gathering them unto himself, and so to the worship of God.

    Being called by the word of peace, both the one and the other, as to our worship, we have this access.

    And the following words, to the end of the chapter, do make it more plain and evident. Sundry things doth the apostle, upon the account of this their access unto God, speak of the Gentiles.

    First, Negatively, — that they are no more “strangers and foreigners,” verse 19; that is, that they are not so in respect of the worship of God, as in that state and condition wherein they were before their calling, through a participation of the reconciliation made by the blood of Christ. The apostle had declared, verses 11, 12, they were the uncircumcision, aliens, foreigners; that is, men who had no share in, nor admittance unto, the solemn worship of God, which was impaled in the commonwealth of Israel. “But now,” says he, “ye are so no more;” that is, you have a portion and interest in that worship wherewith God is well pleased.

    Secondly, Positively, the apostle affirms two things of them: — first, That they are “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,” verse 19; secondly, That they were built up to be “an holy temple,” or “an habitation to God,” verses 20-22. Both which relate to the solemn worship of God under the gospel. The first asserts them to be now members of the church; — the latter, that by and among them God was worshipped with that divine service which came in the room of that which was appointed in the temple, now by Christ removed and taken away.

    This being the design of the Holy Ghost in this place, I shall present it in this one proposition unto you: — That it is an eminent effect and fruit of our reconciliation unto God and among ourselves, by the blood of Christ, that believers enjoy the privileges of the excellent, glorious, spiritual worship of God in Christ, revealed and required in the gospel.

    I shall, in the prosecution of this subject, — I. Briefly prove that we obtain this privilege as a fruit, and upon the account of the reconciliation made by the blood of Christ.

    II. Show that the worship of the gospel is indeed so beautiful, glorious, and excellent, that the enjoyment of it is an eminent privilege: which I shall principally manifest from the text; and, in so doing, open the several parts of it.

    I. That believers enjoy this privilege as a fruit and effect of the death and blood of Jesus Christ, I shall confirm only with one or two places of Scripture, Hebrews 9:8, compared with Hebrews 10:19-22. Whilst the first tabernacle was standing, before Christ by his death had removed it, and the worship that accompanied it, — which was the partition-wall mentioned that he brake down, — there was no immediate admission unto God; — the way into the holiest not made with hands, which we now make use of in the gospel worship, was not yet laid open, but the worshippers were kept at a great distance, making their application unto God by outward, carnal ordinances. The tabernacle being removed, now a way is made, and an entrance is given to the worshippers, into the holiest, in their worship. How is that obtained? by what means? Hebrews 10:19-22, It is “by the blood of Jesus Christ,” — by the rending of his flesh. This privilege of entering into the holiest, which is a true expressing of all gospel, worship, could no otherwise be obtained for nor granted unto believers, but by the blood of Christ. We “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” by which he prepared, perfected, or “consecrated for us a new and living way” into it. Peter also gives us the same account of the rise of this privilege, 1 Peter 2:4,5. That which is ascribed unto believers is, that they offer up “spiritual sacrifices, acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ.” That is the worship whereof we speak. To fit them for, and enable them hereunto, they are “made a spiritual house, a holy priesthood;” — they are both the temple wherein God dwells by his Spirit, and they are the priests that offer acceptable sacrifices unto him.

    By what means, then, do they attain this honor? By their “coming unto Christ,” and that as he was “disallowed of men, and chosen of God.”

    Herein the apostle includes the whole mystery of his death and bloodshedding, wherein he was most openly rejected of men, and most eminently owned of God in his accomplishment of the work of reconciliation.

    I shall not farther confirm the first part of the proposition, but proceed to evidence, — II. That the worship of God under the gospel is so excellent, beautiful, and glorious, that it may well be esteemed a privilege, purchased by the blood of Christ, which no man can truly and really be made partaker of but by virtue of an interest in the reconciliation by him wrought. For “through him we have an access by one Spirit unto God.”

    This, as I said, I shall evince two ways: — First Absolutely.

    Secondly , Comparatively, in reference unto any other way of worship whatever.

    And the FIRST I shall do from the text.

    It is a principle deeply fixed in the minds of men, yea, ingrafted into them by nature, that the worship of God ought to be orderly, comely, beautiful, and glorious. Hence men in all ages, who have thought it incumbent on them to imagine, find out, and frame the worship of God, or any thing thereunto belonging, have made it constantly their design to fix on things, either in themselves or in the manner of their performance (to their judgment), beautiful, orderly, comely, and glorious. And, indeed, that worship may be well suspected not to be according to the mind of God, which comes short in these properties of order and beauty, comeliness and glory. I shall add unto this only this reasonable assertion, which no man can well deny, — viz., that what is so in his worship and service, God himself is the most proper judge. If, then, we evince not that spiritual gospel worship, in its own naked simplicity, without any other external adventitious helper or countenance, is most orderly, comely, beautiful, and glorious (the Holy Ghost in the Scripture being judge), we shall be content to seek for these things where else, as it is pretended, they may be found.

    To this end, — 1. The first thing in general observable from these words is, that in the spiritual worship of the gospel the whole blessed Trinity, and each person therein distinctly, do in that economy and dispensation wherein they act severally and peculiarly in the work of our redemption, afford distinct communion with themselves unto the souls of the worshippers. So are they all here distinctly mentioned: “Through him” (that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God) “we have access by one Spirit” (that good and holy Spirit the Holy Ghost) unto God, that is the Father;” for so is that name to be taken uJpostatikw~v , “personally,” when it is mentioned in distinction from the Son and Spirit. There is no act, part, or duty of gospel worship, wherein the worshippers have not this distinct communion with each person in the blessed Trinity. The particulars shall be afterward spoken unto.

    This is the general order of gospel worship, the great rubric of our service.

    Here in general lieth its decency, that it respects the mediation of the Son, through whom we have access, and the supplies and assistance of the Spirit, and a regard unto God as a Father. He that fails in any one of these, he breaks all order in gospel worship. If either we come not unto it by Jesus Christ, or perform it not in the strength of the Holy Ghost, or in it go not unto God as a Father, we transgress all the rules of this worship.

    This is the great canon, which if it be neglected, there is no decency in whatever else is done in this way. And this, in general, is the glory of it.

    Worship is certainly an act of the soul, Matthew 22:37. The body hath its share by concomitancy and subserviency to the direction of the mind.

    The acts of the mind and soul receive their advancements and glory from the object about which they are conversant. Now that, in this gospel worship, is God himself in his Son and Holy Ghost, and none else. Acting faith on Christ for admission; and on the Holy Ghost for his assistance (so going on in his strength); and on God, even the Father, for acceptance, — is the work of the soul in this worship. That it hath any thing more glorious to be conversant about, I am as yet to learn. But these things will be handled apart afterward. This, in general, is the order and glory of that worship of which we speak. 2. The same is evident from the general nature of it, — that it is an access unto God. “Through him we have an access to God.” There are two things herein that set forth the excellency, order, and glory of it: — (1.) It brings an access; (2.) The manner of that access, intimated in the word here used; it is prosagwgh> . (1.) It is an access, an approach, a drawing nigh unto God; so the apostle calls it a “drawing near,” Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart;” that is, unto God, in “the holiest,” verse 19. In the first, giving out of the law, and instituting the legal worship, the people were commanded to keep at a distance; and they were not, on pain of death, so much as to touch the mount where the presence of God was, Exodus 19:12. And, accordingly, they stood afar off, whilst Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was, Exodus 20:21. So, not only when the high priest went into the most holy place once a-year with blood (of which afterward), but when the priests in their courses went into the holy place to burn incense daily, the people were kept without, as Luke 1:10. But this gospel worship is our access or drawing nigh to God; no interposition of vails, or any other carnal, ordinance whatever. All is made open, and a new and living way of access given unto us, Hebrews 10:20. And what, in general, can be added to set forth the glory of this worship, to a soul that knows what it is to draw nigh to God, I know not. The heathens of old derided the Egyptians, who, through many stately edifices, and with most pompous ceremonies, brought their worshippers to the image of an ape. I say no more; but let them look to it, how they will acquit themselves who frame much of their worship in a ceremonious access to an altar or an image. The plea of referring unto God at the last hath been common to all idolaters, of what sort soever, from the foundation of the world. (2.) It is a prosagwgh> that we have in this worship; — a manuduction unto God, in order, and with much glory. It is such an access as men have to the presence of a king, when they are handed in by some favourite or great person. This, in this worship, is done by Christ. He takes the worshippers by the hand, and leads them into the presence of God; there presenting them (as we shall see), saying, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me,” Hebrews 2:13. This is the access of believers; thus do they enter into the presence of God. Some, it may be, will be ready to say, that a man may be ashamed to speak such great things as these of poor worms, who have neither order in their way, nor eloquence in their words, nor comeliness in their worship. Let such men know that they must yet hear greater things of them: and it is meet, indeed, they should be in all things conformable unto Christ; and, therefore, have neither form, nor comeliness, nor beauty in themselves, their way, or their worship, to the eyes of the world, as Isaiah 53:2. And “the world knows not them” and their ways, because “it knew not him” nor his ways, 1 John 3:1. But if God may be allowed to judge in his own matters, the spiritual worship of the saints is glorious, since in it they have such an access, such a manuduction unto God. 3. From the immediate object of this worship; and that is God. We have an access to God. It is, as I said, the Father who is here peculiarly intended.

    God, as God, — he who is the beginning and end of all, whose nature is attended with infinite perfection, — he from whom a sovereignty over all doth proceed, — is the formal object of all divine and religious worship.

    Hence, divine worship respects, as its object, each person of the blessed Trinity equally, not as this or that person, but as this or that person is God; that is the formal reason of all divine worship. But yet, as the second person is considered as vested with his office of mediation, and the Holy Ghost as the comforter and sanctifier of his saints; so God the Father is in peculiar manner the object of our faith, and love, and worship. So Peter tells us, 1 Peter 1:21, that through Christ we “believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory.” Christ being considered as mediator, God that raised him from the dead — that is, the Father — is regarded as the ultimate object of our worship; though worshipping him who is the Father as God, the other persons are in the same nature worshipped. This whole matter is declared, Galatians 4:6 (which I cannot now particularly open), with this explanation, that in our access unto God, Christ being considered as the mediator, and the Holy Ghost as our comforter, advocate, and assister, the saints have a peculiar respect unto the person of the Father.

    There are two things that hence arise, evidencing the order, decency, and glory of gospel worship: — (1.) That we have in it a direct and immediate access unto God; (2.) That we have access unto God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ours in him. (1.) This is no small part of the glory of this worship, that our access is unto God himself. When outward worship was in its height and glory, the access of the worshippers immediately was but unto some visible sign and pledge of God’s presence. Such was the temple itself; such was the ark and the mercy-seat. So Paul, describing the tabernacle and temple worshippers, Hebrews 10:1, calls them prosercome>nouv , “the comers unto sacrifices.” There was, as it were, a stop upon their access, in the visible representations of God’s majesty and presence to which they did approach. But now, in this spiritual worship of the gospel, the saints have direct and immediate access unto God, — “ the way into the holiest,” not made with hands, being laid open unto them all. And where they are enjoined the use of any outward signs, as in the sacraments, it is not, as it were, to stop them there from entering into heaven, but to help them forward in their entrance; as all know who are acquainted with their true nature and use. I do not say that any of the worship of old was limited in the sensible pledge and tokens of God’s presence; but only that the spirit of the worshippers was kept in subjection, so as to approach unto God only as he exhibited himself to their faith in those signs, and not immediately, as we do under the gospel. (2.) We have in this spiritual worship of the gospel access unto God as a Father. I showed, in the opening of the words, that God is distinctly proposed here as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in him our God and Father. Hence are we said to come “to the throne of grace,” Hebrews 4:16; that is, unto God as he is gloriously exalted in the dispensation of grace, in kindness, love, mercy, — in a word, as a Father.

    God on the throne of grace, and God as a Father, is all one consideration; for, as a Father, he is all love, grace, and mercy to his children in Christ.

    When God came of old to institute his worship in giving of the law, he did it with the dreadful and terrible representation of his majesty, that the people chose not to come near, but went and “stood afar off, and said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” Exodus 20:18,19.

    And by this dreadful representation of the majesty of God, as the object of that worship, were they kept in fear and bondage all their days. But now are the saints encouraged to make their approach unto God as a Father; the glory whereof the apostle excellently expresseth, Romans 8:14,15. That fear and bondage wherein men were kept under the law is now removed, and in the place thereof a spirit of children, with reverent boldness going to their father, is given unto us. This, I say, adds to the glory, beauty, and excellency of gospel worship. There is not the meanest believer but, with his most broken prayers and supplications, hath an immediate access unto God, and that as a Father; nor the most despised church of saints on the earth but it comes with its worship into the glorious presence of God himself. And this I shall add, by the way, — that men’s attempting to worship God who are not interested in this privilege of access unto him, is the ground of all the superstitious idolatry that is in the world. I shall instance in two things, which are the springs of all others: — [1.] Having not experience of the excellency of this privilege, nor being satisfied with the use of it, men have turned aside to the worship of saints and angels in heaven. This is the very substance of all the reasons that the Papists plead in the justification of that superstition: “To have access to God! It is too great a boldness to come to him immediately; and so it becomes us humbly to make use of the favorites of the court of heaven, of saints and angels, to desire them to entreat with God for us.” Now, not to speak of their unacquaintedness with the mediation of Christ herein, which is plain infidelity, what is this but directly saying, “We understand nothing of gospel worship (wherein believers by Christ have a direct ‘access with boldness’ to God himself); and therefore it is that we had rather fix on this ‘voluntary humility,’ as the apostle calls it, Colossians 2:18, than venture on this access unto God”? This, I say, is the reasoning of men unacquainted with this part of the glory of gospel worship. [2.] Hence are they forced to invent outward, visible pledges and signs of God’s presence, as they imagine, to which they may have access; seeing they are unacquainted with that which is directly unto God himself. Hence images and pictures, altars and the east, must be regarded in worship; with which they can have an immediate conversation, — have an access in their thoughts to them, and, as they think, by them unto God. And on the same account must the sacraments be changed, and that which was appointed to assist us in our entrance unto God be made a god, that men may have an easy access unto him. Carnal men, that know nothing of the other, souls are not at all moulded or affected by any pure act of faith, are here stirred by their senses, and act by them in their worship. And this is the ground wherein all their pompous rites, invented by men in the worship of God, do grow; — even a design and engine to afford carnally-minded men somewhat to be conversant about in their worship, who have no principle to enable them to use this privilege of approaching unto God himself. It is true, they will say it is God alone whom they worship, and whom they intend to draw nigh unto; but I must needs say, that if they knew what it were to do so immediately by Christ, they would be satisfied therewith, and not seek such outward helps in their way as they do. 4. It appears from the principal procuring cause and means of this our access to God; which is Jesus Christ, — through him we have this access.

    This is a new spring of beauty and glory, which we must consider in the particulars of it. That access which the people of God had to the outward pledge of his presence, was by their high priest; and that not in his own person, but barely in his representation of them; and that but once a year: but in the worship of the gospel, the saints have an access through Christ unto God himself in their own persons, and that continually. Now, we have this access through Christ upon many accounts: — (1.) Because he hath purchased and procured this favor for us, that we should so approach unto God, and find acceptance with him. We are “accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 1:6. I must not stay to show how, by paying a ransom for us, and “bearing our iniquities,” he hath answered the law, removed the curse, reconciled us to God, pacified his anger, satisfied justice, procured for us eternal redemption; all which belongs to his procuring for us this favor of acceptance with God. The apostle gives us the sum of it, Hebrews 2:17, He hath, as a high priest, “made reconciliation for the sins of the people;” on the account whereof they have an “access by faith into this grace,” Romans 5:1,2. In this sense have we our access unto God through Christ. He hath purchased it for us.

    It is no small portion of the price of his blood. Nothing else could procure it; — not all the wealth of the world, not all the worth of angels in heaven: none could do it but himself. Go into the most pompous, stately place of outward worship upon the earth, — consider all the wealth and glory of its structure and ornaments; it is an easy thing for a wise man to guess what it all cost, and what is the charge of it. However, none so foolish, but can tell you it is all the price of money; it was bought with “silver and gold,” and” corruptible things “it is the “thick clay:” and he that hath most money may render that kind of worship most beauteous and glorious. But now the gospel worship of believers is the price of the “blood of the Son of God.” Access to God for sinners could no other way be obtained. Let men, as the prophet speaks, “lavish gold out of their bags” ( Isaiah 46:6) upon their idols; their self-invented worship shall come as short, in true glory and beauty, of the meanest prayers of poor saints, as the purchase of corruptible things doth of the fruit of the blood and death of the Son of God, 1 Peter 1:18,19. (2.) We have this access from Christ, inasmuch as he hath opened, prepared, and dedicated a way for us to enter into the presence of God.

    Favor being procured, a way of entrance is also to be provided; otherwise poor souls might say, “There is water, indeed, in the well; but the well is deep, and we have not wherewith to draw. There is an acceptance purchased for us in the presence of God; but by what way shall we come unto him?” I say, he hath provided for us also a way whereby we may enter, Hebrews 10:19,20, — “By a new and living way.” The way into the holiest, of old, was through the vail that hung always before; which the apostle calls “the second vail,” Hebrews 9:3. The form and use thereof you have, Exodus 26:31,32, etc. Through this vail the high priest entered into the holy place. Instead hereof, for an entrance into the presence of God in the holy place not made with hands, Christ hath provided and dedicated a “new and living way” for us. This way is himself; as he telleth Thomas, John 14:6, “I am the way.” It is by him alone that any can obtain an access unto God. But as to our constant approach in worship, there is a peculiar respect had unto his suffering for us in the flesh. We enter “by his blood,” and “through his flesh.” How is that? As men being to go to some great potentate or general in an army have, it may be, some word or token which they show, declare, or make use of, if by any they are hindered in their address, — so it is with believers. The law would stop them in their access to God; so would sin and Satan: but their being “sprinkled with the blood of Christ” is the token that lays all open unto them, and removes all obstacles out of the way; — and when they come into the presence of God, it is the suffering of Christ in the flesh that they insist on as to their acceptation with him. They go to God through him, in his name, “making mention of his righteousness, death, and bloodshedding, pleading for acceptance on his account. This is their “new and living way” of going unto God; — this path they tread, this entrance they use; and no man can obtain an access unto God but by an interest herein. I wonder not at all that men who know not this way — who have no share, nor ever took one step in it — do fix on any kind of worship whatever, rather than once make trial what it is to place the glory of their worship in an access unto God, seeing they have no interest in this way, without which all attempts after it would be altogether fruitless and vain. Now, this adds to the order, and increaseth the glory and beauty, of the spiritual worship of the gospel. Go to the mass-book and the rubric of it; — you will see how many instructions and directions they give priests about the way of going into their sanctum and to their altars; — how they must bow and bend themselves, sometimes one way sometimes another; sometimes kneel, sometimes stand; sometimes go backwards, sometimes forward. This is their way to the breaden god; this they call order, and beauty, and glory; and with such like things are poor, simple sots deluded, and carnal wretches, enemies to Christ and his Spirit, blinded to their eternal ruin. Surely, methinks, this way of gospel access to God is far more comely and glorious: — it is in and by Christ, — a way dedicated by himself on purpose; it is sprinkled with his blood; it is opened by his suffering in the flesh, and abides “new and living” for ever. Were not blindness come on men to the utmost, — were it not evident that they can see nothing afar off, — that they are wholly carnal and unspiritual, “savoring not the things of God,” — it were impossible that they should reject these pearls of the gospel for the husks of swine, such things as they shall never be able to vie with the old heathen in. This only may be said in their excuse, that they cast away and reject what they had no share in, for that which is most properly their own. (3.) We have this access through Christ, in that he is entered before us into the presence of God, to make way for our access unto him, and our acceptance with him. So the apostle, Hebrews 4:14, “We have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” He is gone already into the presence of God to that purpose. The same apostle tells us, Hebrews 6:19,20, “Let us look to ‘that within the vail, whither Jesus the forerunner is for us entered,’” — pro>dromov uJpewords are better rendered, “The forerunner for us is entered.” He is a forerunner for us, — one that is gone into the presence of God to declare that all his saints are coming to him, coming into his presence with their solemn worship and oblations; — he is entered into heaven himself, to carry, as it were, tidings, and make way for the entrance of his saints. This is no small encouragement to follow him: he is gone before for us, and is in continual expectation of the coming of them whose forerunner he is; as is the manner of those who take that office. And this also adds to the glory of gospel worship, with them to whom Christ is precious and honorable: with them by whom he is despised, it is no wonder if his ways be so also. This belongs also to the rubric, and adds to the order of gospel worship. It is an access to God, even the Father, in the holy place not made with hands, on the account of the atonement made, and favor and acceptance purchased, by Jesus Christ, being sprinkled with his blood, and following him, as one that is gone before to provide admittance for us. Here is order and beauty too, if we have either faith or eyes to apprehend or perceive what is so. (4.) We have this access through Christ, as he is “the high priest over the house of God.” This the apostle at large declares, and much insists upon, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. One or two places shall suffice to instance in. Hebrews 4:14-16: The inference which the apostle makes from this consideration, that Christ is our high priest entered into heaven, is, that we should draw nigh unto the throne of grace; and, because he is such a holy priest as he there describes, that we should draw nigh with boldness, or spiritual confidence of our acceptance with God. And this the apostle manageth at large throughout that epistle; — that notwithstanding all the outward glory and splendor of the legal worship, yet that which is appointed in the gospel is far to be preferred before it, inasmuch as the High Priest of this is unspeakably above the high priest by whom that was principally administered. And again, Hebrews 10:21,22, the encouragement to draw nigh to God is taken from this, that we have a “high priest over the house of God.” And it is also considerable, what the Holy Ghost requireth in them who should come nigh to worship God under the guidance and conduct of this blessed and merciful high priest. Is it that they have such vestments and ornaments in their admission? No; but faith, and sanctification, and holiness, are the three great qualifications of these worshippers. “Let us draw nigh,” saith he, “in full assurance of faith,” etc., “and our bodies washed with pure water;” — that is, purified with the blood of Christ, typified in the water of baptism; or else, it may be, effectually cleansed in soul and body by the Holy Ghost, who is frequently compared to water the work of purifying and sanctifying the souls of believers.

    Upon this general head I might make a long stand, to evidence the beauty, order, and glory of the spiritual worship of God, in that it our access to God through Christ, “as the great high priest over the house of God.”

    This, indeed, is so great, that the apostle makes it the sum of his whole dispute about the excellency of the gospel, and our coming to God thereby, Hebrews 8:1,2. “This is,” saith he, “upon the matter, the sum of all: Those with whom we have to do, they had a high priest, in whom, and the administration by him performed, consisted the glory of all their worship. We also,” saith he, “have a high priest no less than they had; but herein there is no comparison between them and us, that we have such a high priest,” — whom he describes; — first, from his own diginity, honor, and glory; he is “set on the right hand of the Majesty of heaven;” — secondly, from his office or ministry, — namely, that he ministers not in a tabernacle, such as was that of Moses, and Solomon’s temple, but in heaven itself, the place of the glorious presence and immediate manifestation of God’s glory; — which he calls “the tabernacle which the Lord pitched;” that is, which he appointed for the place of worship to his saints under the ministry of Christ, their high priest. And though other places are necessary here on earth for their assemblies, as they are men clothed with flesh and infirmities, yet there is none pitched, appointed, or consecrated for the holy and solemn acceptance of their service, but heaven itself; where the High Priest is always ready to administer it before God. And as to the assemblies here below, all places are now alike. And what can be more glorious than this, — namely, that the whole spiritual worship of the gospel, performed here on earth by the saints, is administered in heaven by such a holy Priest, who is at the right hand of the throne of the majesty of God! and yet under his conduct we have by faith an entrance into the presence of God.

    Go to, now, you by whom the spiritual worship of the gospel is despised; [you] that — unless it be adorned, as you say (or rather defiled), with the rites and ceremonies of your own invention — think there is no order, comeliness, or beauty in it! set yourselves to find out whatever pleaseth your imaginations; borrow this of the Jews, that of the Pagans, all of the Papists that you think conducing to that end and purpose; lavish gold out of the bag for the beautifying of it; — will it compare with this glory of the worship of the gospel, that is all carried on under the conduct and administration of this glorious High Priest? It may be they will say that they have that too, and that ornaments do not hinder but that they have also their worship attended with that glory relating to the holy Priest. But do they think so indeed? and do they no more value it than it seems they do? Why are they not contented with it, but they must find out many inventions of their own to help to set it off? Surely it is impossible that men, thoroughly convinced of its spiritual excellency, should fall into that fond conceit of making additions of their own unto it. Nor do they seem rightly to weigh that the holy God doth, all along, oppose this spiritual excellency of gospel worship to the outward splendor of rites and ordinances, instituted by himself for a time; so that what men seek to make up in these things doth but absolutely derogate from the other; and all will one day know, whether it be for want of excellency in the spiritual administration of the gospel worship, under and by the glorious High Priest, or for want of minds enlightened to discern it, and hearts quickened to experience it, that some do lay all the weight of the beauty of gospel worship on matters that they either find out themselves, or borrow from others who were confessedly blind as to all spiritual communion with God in Christ. But if any man list to contend, “we have no such custom, neither the church of God;” only I hope it will not be accounted a crime, that any please themselves and are contented with that glory and beauty, in their worshipping of God, which is given unto it from hence, that they have in it an access to God by Jesus Christ, as the great high priest of their profession and service. However, I am sure this is, and may well be, an unspeakable encouragement and comfort in the duty of drawing nigh unto God, to all the saints, whether in their persons, families, or assemblies, — that Jesus Christ is the great high priest that admits them to the presence of God; who is the minister of that heavenly tabernacle where God is worshipped by them. If we are but able, as the apostle speaks, to look to the things that are not seen, 2 Corinthians 4:18, — that is, with eyes of faith, — we shall find that glory that will give us rest and satisfaction; and for others, we may pray, as Elisha for his servant, that the Lord would open their eyes, and they would quickly see the naked, poor places of the saints’ assemblies not only attended with horses and chariots of fire, but also Christ walking in the midst of them, in the glory wherewith he is described, Revelation 1:13-16; which surely their painted or carved images will be found to come short of. And if the Lord Jesus Christ be pleased, in his unspeakable love, to call his churches and ministers his “glory,” as he doth, 2 Corinthians 8:23, surely these may be contented to make him their only glory. To which purpose we may observe, — [1.] Our Savior Christ warns us of some who thought to be heard for their heathenish “vain repetitions” and “much babbling,” Matthew 6:7. I will not make application of it unto any; but this I say, that men will not be a little mistaken, if they think to be heard for any carnal self-invented furtherance of their devotion. But here lies the joy and confidence of the poor saints, — they have a merciful High Priest over the house of God, by whom they are encouraged to draw nigh with boldness to the throne of grace. He takes them by the hand, and leads them into the presence of God; where, through his means, they obtain a favorable acceptance. [2.] Nor need they be solicitous about their outward estate and condition.

    This was the misery of the Jews of old, — that when they were driven from Jerusalem, and carried into captivity, they were deprived of all the solemn worship of God; they had no high priest, no sacrifice, no altar, tabernacle, or solemn assemblies, — which were all tied to that place.

    Hence we find how bitterly David complains, when, by the persecution of Saul, he was for a season driven from the place of God’s holy and solemn worship: be saw not the glorious ornaments of the high priest, nor the beautiful structure of the tabernacle, nor the order of the Levites and priests in worship. It is now otherwise with the people of God, be they never so poor, and destitute of all outward accommodations. Are their assemblies in the mountains, in the caves and dens of the earth? — Christ, according to his promise, is in the midst of them as their high priest, and they have in their worship all the order, glory, and beauty (I mean, observing gospel rules) that in any place under heaven they can enjoy and be made partakers of. All depends on the presence of Christ, and their access to God by him; and he is excluded from no place, but thinks any place adorned sufficiently for him which his saints are met in or driven unto. Let the hands that hang down be lifted up, and feeble knees be strengthened; — whatever their outward, distressed condition may be, here is order, beauty, and glory, in the worship of God, above all that the world can pretend unto! [3.] Here lies encouragement to them upon a spiritual account, as to the state of things between God and their own souls. They have discoveries made unto them of the glory, majesty, and holiness of God. They know that he is “a consuming fire;” — they have visions of his excellencies, which the world is not acquainted with. They are also sensible of their own poverty, wretchedness, sin, weakness, — how unfit, how unable to approach unto him, or to have to do with him in his holy worship; — they are ashamed of their own prayers and supplications, and could oftentimes, when they are gone through, wish them undone again, considering how unanswerable they are to the greatness and holiness of God. In this condition there is a plentiful relief tendered to faith from the consideration of this High Priest. That this may be more evident, and that the beauty and glory of gospel worship may be by them farther discovered, I shall particularly insist on some parts of it: — First. Our High Priest bears and takes away all the sinfulness and failings that are in or do accompany the holy worship of his saints. The world is apt to despise the worship of the saints, as mean and contemptible, — unmeet for the majesty of God. This puts them on the inventing of what they suppose more glorious and beautiful, though God abhors it. But the saints themselves know that of their defects, wants, and failings in their worship, that the world know not of, and how unfit it is and unsuited to the holy majesty of God, with whom they have to do. They know how the bitter root of unbelief in their hearts springs up and defiles them and their duties; — how effectually vanity works in their minds, and a secret loathness in their wills, in their best duties and most solemn acts of worship; besides innumerable other sinful distempers, that oftentimes get ground and place in their hearts. These, they know, are the things that, in and of themselves, are enough to defile, pollute, and render abominable all their worship; yea, and if God should “mark what is amiss,” the guilt of their holy worship is enough to make both it and them that perform it to be for ever rejected. But now, here is their relief; here beauty, glory, and order, is recovered to their worship; — Christ, as their high priest, takes away all the evil, filth, and iniquity of their holy things, that they may be presented pure, and holy, and glorious before God. So did Aaron typically of old, Exodus 28:38. Thus doth Christ, our high priest, really answer for all that is amiss. All failings, all miscarriages in his saints, them he takes on his own score; and what is from his Spirit, that enters into the presence of the holy God. So, Ephesians 5:25-27, he presents it to himself, and by him it is presented unto God. By this means doth the Lord Christ preserve the glory and beauty of gospel worship, notwithstanding all the defects, and failings, and defilements, that, from the weakness and sins of his saints, do seem to cleave unto it.

    Secondly. This is not enough. Besides the weakness, sinfulness, and imperfections that attend their duties, for which they may be justly rejected, there is not any thing of worth in them for which they may be accepted; — nothing that should yield a sweet savor unto God. Wherefore Christ, as the high priest by whom all believers have their access unto God, takes their duties and prayers, and adds incense unto them, that they may have a sweet savor in heaven, Revelation 8:3. The altar is the place for the priests offering their sacrifices of prayers; and our altar is in heaven: other men may appoint theirs elsewhere. The Lord Christ, the high priest in the temple of God in heaven, and in the holy place not made with hands, is the angel that stands at the altar before the Lord, — the golden altar of incense before the throne; — not the altar for sacrifice, which he hath finished already, but only the altar of incense or intercession, remains. On this golden altar are the prayers of all saints offered. But how came they to be acceptable unto the Lord? Why, this high priest hath much incense, a bottomless store and treasure of righteousness that he adds unto them; which is the only sweet perfume in the presence of the Lord. This makes all their worship glorious indeed.

    Christ, the high priest, takes away the iniquity and failings of them, he adds his own righteousness unto it; and so in his own person offers it on the golden altar (that is, his own self) before the throne of God continually.

    Now, as this tends exceedingly to the consolation of believers, so it stains the glory of all the outward pompous worship that some are so delighted in. For believers, what can more tend to their comfort and encouragement, than that the Lord Christ takes their poor weak prayers, which themselves are oftentimes ashamed of and humbled for, and are ready to cry out against themselves by reason of them; and what by taking away the evil of them, what by adding the incense of his own righteousness, makes them acceptable at the throne of grace! They little know what beauty and glory those very duties which they perform and are troubled at are clothed withal: and for the beauty and glory of gospel worship, in comparison of all the self-invented rites of men, how will one thought of faith about this administration of Christ in heaven with the prayers of the saints, cast contempt and shame upon them! What is all their gaudy preparation, in comparison of the high priest of the saints offering up their prayers on the golden altar before the throne of God! This is order, comeliness, and beauty.

    Thirdly. Christ, as the high priest of the saints, presents both their persons and their duties in the presence of and before the Lord. This is that which was signified of old in the high priest’s precious stones set in gold on his breast and shoulders, with the names of the children of Israel in them, Exodus 28:21. Christ, our high priest, is entered into the holy place for us, and there presents all his saints and their worship before the Lord, being “not ashamed to call them brethren,” and saying of them, “Behold I and the children which the Lord hath given me.”

    And this is the fourth thing in the words, manifesting the excellency and glory of gospel worship, taken from the principal procuring cause: — It is an access to God, through Christ.

    SERMON 5. THIS also adds greatly to the glory and excellency of evangelical worship, that we have in it an access unto God, “in one Spirit,” or “by one Spirit.”

    I shall show in brief, — (1.) How we have it “by the Spirit;” (2.) How “in one,” or “by one Spirit.” (1.) That by the Spirit the Holy Ghost is here intended, is not questioned by any. He is that “one Spirit” who works in these things, and “divideth to every one as he pleaseth,” 1 Corinthians 12:11. I shall not here handle the whole work of the Holy Ghost in and upon the souls of the saints, in and for the performance of all the duties of worship wherein they draw nigh unto God by Christ and obtain communion with him, as absolutely considered; but only so far as his work renders the worship we speak of beautiful and comely; which is the matter we have in hand. And that I shall do in some few considerations: — [1.] The Lord Jesus Christ hath promised to send his Spirit to believers, to enable them, both for matter and manner, in the performance of every duty required in the word, Isaiah 59:21. He will give his word and Spirit. The promise of the one and the other is of equal extent and latitude. Whatever God proposeth in his word to be believed, or requireth to be done, — that he gives his Spirit to enable to believe and do accordingly. There is neither promise nor precept, but the Spirit is given to enable believers to answer the mind of God in them; nor is the Spirit given to enable unto any duty, but what is in the word required. The Spirit and the word, in their several places, have an equal latitude; the one as a moral rule, the other as a real principle of efficiency. Hence they who require duties which the word enjoins not, have need of other assistances than what the Spirit of grace will afford them; and those who pretend to be led by the Spirit beyond the bounds of the word, had need provide themselves of another gospel. Now, with promises hereof doth the gospel abound. He shall “lead us into all truth;” — he shall “teach us all things;” — he shall “abide with us for ever.” Having given his disciples precepts for their whole duty to God and himself, he promiseth them his Spirit to abide with them, to enable them for the accomplishment of them. [2.] There are three things that are needful for the right performance of gospel worship: — 1st. Light and knowledge, that we may be acquainted with the mind and will of God in it, — what it is that he accepteth and approveth, and is appointed by him; that we may know “how to choose the good and refuse the evil,” — like the sheep of Christ, hearing his voice and following him, not hearkening to the voice of a stranger. 2dly. Grace in the heart, so that there may be, in this access unto God, a true, real, spiritual, saving communion, obtained with him in those acts of faith, love, delight, and obedience, which he requireth; without which it is in any thing “impossible to please God.” 3dly. Ability for the performance of the duties that God requireth in his worship, in such a manner as he may be glorified, and those who are called to his worship edified in their most holy faith. Where these three concur, there the worship of God is performed in a due manner, according to his own mind and will; and so, consequently, is excellent, beautiful, and glorious, — God himself being judge. Now, all these do believers receive by and from the Spirit of Christ; and, consequently, have by him their access to the Father; that is, are enabled unto, and carried on in, the worship which God requireth at their hands. 1st. It is he who enables them to discover the mind of God, and his will concerning his worship, that they may embrace what he hath appointed, and refuse the thing whereof he will say at the last day, “Who hath required this at your hand?” He is promised to “lead them into all truth,” as the Spirit of truth, John 16:13; and is the blessed “unction” that teacheth them all things, 1 John 2:27, — all things for the glory of God, and their own consolation. It is he that speaks the word, which sounds in the ears, “This is the way; walk in it.” And when Paul prays for the guidance of the saints, he doth it by praying that God would give them the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” in Christ, Ephesians 1:17. Now, this he doth two ways: — (1st.) By causing them diligently to attend unto the word, the voice of Christ, for their direction, and to that only. This is the great work of the Spirit. So John 16:13, it is said, “He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak;” — that is, he shall reveal and declare nothing but what is the mind of Christ manifested in the word; and that he shall call men to attend unto. “To the law and to the testimony” (to the word), — that is his constant voice. If men turn to any other teaching, they go out of the compass of his commission, — that direction which the Father began from heaven, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.” He is the only master and teacher that the Spirit carries all believers unto. He still cries, “Hear him; attend unto him speaking in the word.” It is true, in point of practice, according to the rule for the remedying of scandals and disorders, we are commanded to “hear the church,” or obey the wholesome directions of it, and to walk according to the gospel; but as to the worship of God, both as to the matter and rules in the appointment of it, we are called continually by the Spirit to hear Christ always; — and that spirit is not of Christ which sends us to any else. (2dly.) By revealing the mind of Christ unto us in the word. This is his work, which he undertakes and performs. I confess that, notwithstanding the assistance that he is ready to give unto them, there are many mistakes, even amongst the saints themselves, in their apprehensions in and about the worship of God. They are many times careless in attending to his directions; negligent in praying for his assistance; slight and overly in the use of the means by him appointed for the discovery of truths; regardless of dispossessing their minds of prejudices and temptations, hindering them in the discovery of the mind of God. It is, therefore, no wonder they are left to be corrected under their own mistakes and miscarriages. But this hinders not but that the Spirit may be said to give the knowledge of the worship of God in the word unto believers; and that because it is not, nor can be, profitably and savingly attained any other way. As “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Spirit,” — so no man can know the way of God’s house and worship but by the Spirit; — and we see by experience, that those that despise his assistance, rather trust to themselves and other men for the worship of God than to the word. This he does, ordinarily, in the use of means, — at least so far, that though in some particulars there may be amongst them mistakes, yet not usually such but that their performances are accepted of God in Christ. And in those things wherein they are at any time “otherwise minded” than according to truth, if they continue waiting, that also shall be revealed unto them from the word by the Spirit. The worship of God is not of man’s finding out, but of his designation who is “the wisdom of God.” It is not taught by human wisdom, nor is it attainable by human industry; but by the wisdom and revelation of the Spirit of God. It is every way divine and heavenly in its rise, in its discovery; and so becoming the greatness and holiness of God. For what doth please God, God himself is the sole judge.

    If any thing else set up itself in competition with it, for beauty and glory, it will be found, to be engaged in a very unequal contest at the last day. 2dly. Believers have this access by the Spirit, inasmuch as he enables them to approach unto God in a spiritual manner, with grace in their hearts, as he is the Spirit of grace and supplication. This is one special end for which the Spirit is promised unto believers, — namely, that he may be in them “a Spirit of grace and supplication,” enabling them to draw nigh unto God in a gracious and acceptable manner, Zechariah 12:10,11. And this is one part of the work that he doth perform, when he is bestowed on them according to the promise. Romans 8:26,27: Let men do their best and utmost, they know not so much as what they ought to pray for; but the Spirit of Christ alone enables them to the whole work. If all the men in the world should lay their heads together to compose one prayer for the use of any one saint but for one day, they were not able to do it so as that it should answer his wants and conditions; nor can any man do it for himself, without the help and assistance of the Spirit, whose proper work this is.

    It were a long work, to show what the Holy Ghost, as a Spirit of grace in the hearts of believers, doth to this end, that they may have, in their access unto God, a saving, spiritual communion with him in Christ; wherein, indeed, consists the chiefest head of all the glory and beauty that is in the worship of God. Should I handle it, I must insist upon all these particulars: — (1st.) That the Holy Spirit discovers their wants unto them, their state and condition, with all the spiritual concernments of their souls; with which, without his effectual working, no man can come to a saving acquaintance spiritually. Men may think it an easy thing to know what they want; but he that knows the difficulty of obedience, the deceitfulness of the heart, the wiles of Satan, the crafts and sleights of indwelling sin, will not think so, but will grant that it is alone to be discovered by the Spirit of grace. (2dly.) It is he alone which really affecteth the heart and soul with their wants, when they are discovered unto us. We are of ourselves dull and stupid in spiritual things; and when matters of the most inexpressible concernment are proposed, we can pass them by without being affected in any proportion to their weight and importance. The Holy Ghost deeply affects the heart with its spiritual concernments, works sorrow, fear, desire, answerable to the wants that are discerned, making “intercession with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered.” (3dly.) It is he alone that can reveal the saving relief and supplies that God hath provided in the promises of the gospel for all the wants of the saints; so enabling them to make their supplications according to the mind of God. It is not the consideration of the letter of the promises that will discover savingly unto us the glorious relief that is provided in them for our wants; but it is revealed unto the saints effectually by the Spirit, as provided by the love of the Father, and purchased by the blood of the Son, and stored up for us in the covenant of grace, that we may make our requests for our portions according to the will of God. (4thly.) It is the Holy Ghost that works in believers faith, love, delight, fervency, watchfulness, perseverance, — all, those graces that give the soul communion with God in his worship, — and in Christ renders their prayers effectual. He doth this radically, by begetting, creating, ingenerating them in the hearts of believers, in the first infusion of the new, spiritual, vital principle with which they are endued when they are born of him; as also by acting, exciting, and stirring them up in every duty of the worship of God that they are called unto; so enabling them to act according to the mind of God.

    By these hath the soul spiritual communion with God in the duties of his worship; and these, with sundry other things, should be handled, if we aimed to set out the work of the Spirit in the worship of the gospel as he is a Spirit of grace and supplication. But the mentioning of them in general is sufficient for the end proposed, — namely, to discover the beauty and the glory of the worship that is thus carried on. Herein lies that which all the beauty of the world fades before, and becomes as a thing of nought, — which brings all the outward pomp of ceremonious worship into contempt; — I mean the glory and excellency that lies in the spiritual communion of the soul with God, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, in that heavenly intercourse which is between God and his saints in their worship, by this means. The Holy Ghost is essentially God himself, blessed for ever in his own person. He comes upon the hearts of the elect, and communicates of his own grace unto them. These graces he enables them to act, exert, and put forth in their worship of God. These God delights in, as coming from himself, as of his own workmanship in us; — he seeth a return of himself to himself, of his grace to his glory: and by these do the saints approach into his presence, speak to him, treat with him, and hear from him. It is the language of faith and love alone, and the like graces of his Spirit, that God hears in his worship. Other voices, cries, and noises he regards not; yea, at least, if not some of them in themselves, yet all of them when these are wanting, are an abomination unto him.

    However, this is the beauty and the glory of the worship of the gospel, — the beauty and glory that God sees in it. Where this work of the Spirit of God is in his worship, there faith, love, delight, and fervency are in a saving and spiritual manner exercised. He is an atheist, who will deny that they are acceptable to God, — that this worship is glorious, beautiful, and comely: and he is no better, who thinks that any outward solemnity can render worship so, when these are wanting. So that they are the things on which the whole doth turn. 3dly. As always from the foundation of the world, so in the New Testament, the solemn worship of God is to be performed in the assemblies of his saints and people. Now, where the same worship is to be performed by many, the very law of nature and reason requireth that some one or more, according as there is necessity, should go before the rest of the assembly in the worship which they have to perform, and be as the hand, or mouth, or eyes to the whole body or assembly. And so, also, hath our Lord ordained, — namely, that in all the public and solemn worship of gospel assemblies, there should be some appointed to go before them in the performance of the duties of the worship that he requireth of them, be they what they will. Now, as the things themselves, wherein these persons are to minister before the Lord in their in their assemblies, are all of them prescribed by God himself; so, as to the manner of their performance, there are these two marks or guides to direct the whole: — first, it must be so performed as to tend to the glory of God; and, secondly, to the edification of the assembly itself. It would be too long for me to show you what is required to this one thing, that the worship of God be carried on in the assembly to the edification of the saints; which is, that all the ordinances of God may have their proper work in them, and effects towards them, for the increase of their faith and graces, and carrying them on in their course of obedience and communion with God.

    The consideration of this work made the apostle say, Prov iJkano>v ; In a word, so far as possible it may be done, their state and condition is to be spread before the Lord in prayer, according as they experience it in their own souls, — their desires to be drawn forth and expressed, — their pleas for mercy and grace to be managed, with the like ends of prayer; their condition to be suited, in instruction, consolation, and exhortation, and the like, in preaching the word. So of all other ordinances; they are to be managed and administered so as may best tend to the edification of the assembly. Now, this is supposed by the third benefit that the saints receive by the Spirit, as to their approach unto God: he gives gifts and abilities, spiritual gifts unto them whom he calleth unto this work of going before the assemblies in the worship of God, that they may perform all things to the glory of God and the edification of the body. I shall not so much as once mention the supplies that are invented and found out by men for this end and purpose. There is not a soul that hath the least communion with God, but knows their emptiness and utter insufficiency for that which they pretend unto.

    Now, that the Holy Ghost furnisheth men with gifts for this end and purpose, we have abundant testimonies in the Scripture; and, blessed be God, we have evidence of it abundantly in and from those who are endued with them, 1 Corinthians 12:4,7,8,11. The design of the apostle in that chapter is to treat of the worship of God, as it is to be carried on and performed in the gospel assemblies of saints; of which he gives an instance in the Church of Corinth. For the right performance hereof, he lays down, in the first verse, that spiritual gifts are bestowed. Being to treat of the public worship of God, he begins with spiritual gifts, whereby men are enabled thereunto. The author of all those gifts, he informs us in the fourth verse, is the Holy Ghost; he is sent by Christ to this very end and purpose, to, bestow them on his churches. The end of the collation, he informs, us, is the profit and edification of the whole body, verse 7. Every one that receives them, doth it to this purpose, — that he may use them to the good and benefit of the whole. To this end are they bestowed in great variety, as verse 8, — that by them the use of the body may be supplied, and church edification may be carried on. And having thus showed their nature, end, and distribution, he again asserts their author to be the Holy Ghost, verse 11. And we have direction, upon this foundation, given for the exercise and use of those gifts, in sundry places; as 1 Peter 4:10,11.

    This then, also, as to the more solemn and public worship of God, is performed by that Spirit in whom we have an access unto the Father: — he gives spiritual gifts unto men, enabling them to perform it in a holy, evangelical manner, so as God may be glorified, and the assemblies of the saints edified, in the administration of all ordinances, according to what they are appointed unto. He enables men to pray, so as that the souls of the saints may be drawn forth thereby unto communion with God, according unto all their wants and desires; — he enables them to preach or speak as the “oracles of God,” so as that the saints may receive instruction suitable to their condition, as to all the ends of the good word of God, whose dispensation is committed unto them; — he enables men to administer the seals of the covenant so, that the faith of the saints may be excited and stirred up to act and exert itself in a way suitable to the nature of each ordinance. And all those gifts are bestowed on men on purpose for the good and edification of others; they are never exercised in a due manner, but they have a farther reach and efficacy in and upon the souls of the saints, than he that is intrusted with them was able to take a prospect of. He little knows how many of his words and expressions are, in the infinite wisdom of the Holy Ghost, suited in an unspeakable variety to the conditions of his saints; — here one, there another, is wrought upon, affected, humbled, melted, lifted up, rejoiced by them; the Holy Ghost making them effectual to the ends for which he hath given out the gifts from whence they do proceed. I might mention sundry other advantages which we have that belong to our access unto God by one Spirit; but because it were endless to enumerate all particulars, and they may be reduced to some one of these general heads, I shall mention no more of them. This, then, is the first, evidence that we have in the words, given unto the glory, beauty, and excellency of gospel worship: In it we have an access unto the Father in the Spirit; which relates unto the things before mentioned, or rather touched on. Here is order: The Spirit reveals the mind of God as to the worship that is acceptable unto him; — he furnishes the souls of the saints with all those graces whereby and wherein they have communion with God in his worship; — he gives gifts unto some, enabling them to go before the assemblies in the worship of God, according to his mind, and unto their edification. Blessed order, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against! Order, proceeding from the God of order; — his own project and appointment! Here is beauty, decency, loveliness. It is all the work of the glorious and holy Spirit, which is like himself, — holy, glorious, and beautiful; and to set up any thing of any man’s finding out in competition with it, is that which the Lord’s soul abhors. (2.) As the saints in the gospel have access unto God in the Spirit, so they have all their access in one Spirit; and this is the spring of all the uniformity which God requires. So the apostle tells us, that, as to the gifts themselves, there are diversities of them, and difference in them, Corinthians 12:4-6. But where, then, is uniformity? If one man have better and greater gifts than another; — one man be more eminent in one kind, another in another; — one excelling in prayer, another in prophesying and preaching, — what confusion must this needs breed! Where is, then, any uniformity in all this? The apostle answereth, verse 11. Here lies the uniformity of gospel worship, — that though the gifts bestowed on men for the public performance of it be various, and there is great diversity among them, yet it is one Spirit that bestows them all among them, and that in the order before mentioned. One and the same Spirit discovers the will and worship of God to them all; — one and the same Spirit works the same graces for their kind in the hearts of them all; — one and the same Spirit bestows the gifts that are necessary for the carrying on of gospel worship in the public assemblies to them who are called to that work. And what if he be pleased to give out his gifts in some variously, as to particulars, “dividing to every one severally, as he will?” yet this hindereth not but that, as to the saints mentioned, they all approach unto God by one Spirit; and so have uniformity in their worship throughout the world.

    This is a catholic uniformity; when whatever is invented by men under that name reaches but to the next hedge, and, as might be easily proved and evinced, is the greatest principle of deformity and disorder in the world.

    This, then, is the uniformity of gospel worship: — all the saints, everywhere, have their access in it unto God in one Spirit, who worketh alike in the general in them all, though he gives out diversities of gifts, serving to the edification of the whole.

    And these are the evidences that are directly and “in terminis” given to the proposition of the beauty, excellency, order, and uniformity, of gospel worship in the text, as we consider it absolutely in itself. Before I come to consider its glory comparatively, in reference to the outward solemn worship of the temple of old, I shall add but one consideration more, which is necessary for the preventing of some objections, as well as for the farther clearing of the truth insisted on; and that is taken from the place where spiritual worship is performed. Much of the beauty and glory of the old worship, according to carnal ordinances, consisted in the excellency of the place wherein it was performed; — first, the tabernacle of Moses; then the temple of Solomon, of whose glory and beauty we shall speak afterward. Answerable hereunto, do some imagine there must be a beauty in the place where men assemble for gospel worship; which they labor to paint and adorn accordingly. But they “err, not knowing the Scriptures.”

    There is nothing spoken of the place and seat of gospel worship, but it is referred to one of these three heads, — all which render it glorious: — 1. It is performed in heaven. Though they who perform it are on earth, yet they do it, by faith, in heaven. The apostle saith that believers, in their worship, do “enter into the holiest;” which he exhorts them to draw nigh unto, Hebrews 10:19,22. What is the “holiest,” whereinto they enter with their worship? It is that whereinto Jesus Christ is entered as their forerunner, Hebrews 6:20. It is into heaven itself, Hebrews 9:24. You will say, “How can these things be, that men should enter into heaven while they are here below?” I say, Are men “masters in Israel,” and ask this question? They who have an access unto the immediate presence of God, and to the throne of grace, enter into heaven itself. And this adds to the glory we treat of. What poor low thoughts have men of God and his ways, who think there lies an acceptable glory and beauty in a little paint and varnish! Heaven itself, the place of God’s glorious residence, where he is attended with all his holy angels, is the state [place?] of this worship.

    Hence is that glorious description given of it, Revelation 4 throughout; where it is expressly said to be “in heaven,” though it is only the worship of the church that is described. It were easy from hence to manifest the glory we have spoken of, in the several parts of it. But I do but point out the heads of things. 2. The second thing mentioned, in reference to the place of this worship, is the persons of the saints; these are said to be the “temple of the Lord,” 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not” (verse 17) “the temple of God is holy?” God hath now no material temple; but he hath chosen this spiritual one, — the hearts and souls of his saints: and beautiful temples they are, being washed with the blood of Christ, beautified with the graces of the Spirit, adorned for communion with him; hence “the King’s daughter” is said to be “all glorious within,” Psalm 45.

    Whatever men may think, God, that knoweth his own graces in the hearts of his, and in whose eyes nothing is beautiful or of price but grace, knows and judges that this place of his worship, this temple that he hath chosen, is full of beauty and glory. Let who will be judge, that pretends to be a Christian, whether is more beautiful in the sight of God, — “ a living stone,” adorned with all the graces of the Spirit, a heart full of the grace of Christ, — or a dead stone cut out of the quarries, though graven into the similitude of a man? 3. The assemblies of the saints are spoken of as God’s temple, and the seat and place of public, solemn, gospel worship, Ephesians 2:21,22.

    Here are many living stones framed into an holy house in the Lord, an habitation for God by his Spirit. God dwells here. As he dwelt in the temple of old, by some outward, carnal pledges of his presence; so, in the assemblies of his saints, which are his habitation, he dwells unspeakably in a more glorious manner by his Spirit. Here, according to his promise, is his habitation. Now, the saints’ assemblies, according to the order of the gospel, are “a building fitly framed together:” as the tabernacle and temple were of old in their outward structure, whereby they were raised; so they in their spiritual union in and under Christ their head. And they are a temple, a holy temple, — holy with the “holiness of truth,” as the apostle speaks, chapter 4:24; — not a typical, relative, but a real holiness, and such as the Lord’s soul delighteth in. I know some can see no beauty in the assemblies of the saints, unless there be an outward beauty and splendor in the fabric and building wherein they convene. But that is not at all the thing in question, what some men can see, or cannot see. Christ himself had unto some “no form nor comeliness that he should be desired;” — no more have his saints, his ways, his worship. That is not it which we inquire after; but what is beautiful, comely, and of price in the eyes and judgment of God. Neither is that the matter in question, whether these or those are saints of God, or no? But only, whether an assembly of saints, as such, which are the temple of God, and being called together according to the order of the gospel, be not a glorious seat of worship? God saith it is so; and if men say otherwise, those that are not enchanted with what I shall not name, will easily know what to give credit to. SECONDLY. Proceed we now, in the next place, to set forth the glory and beauty of this worship of the gospel comparatively, with reference to the solemn outward worship which, by God’s own appointment, was used under the Old Testament; which, as we shall show, was far more excellent on many accounts than any thing of the like kind, — that is, as to outward splendor and beauty, — that was ever found out by men. And I shall do this the more willingly, because the Holy Ghost doth so much and so frequently — and that not without many great and weighty causes — insist upon it in the New Testament, having intimated it beforehand in many places of the Old. To the right understanding of what is gospel, and delivered in Scripture on this account, some things are previously to be considered: — 1. As the whole worship of the old church, so the whole manner of it, with all its rites, ceremonies, and ornaments, both in the tabernacle and temple, were of God’s own appointment. There was not the least part of the fabric wherein his worship was celebrated, nor any ornament of it, — not one rite or ceremony that did attend it, — but it was all of it wholly of God’s own designation and command. This is known and confessed.

    Moses made all things “according to the pattern showed him in the mount;” and at the finishing of the whole work, it is in one chapter ten [eight?] times repeated, that he did as the Lord commanded him, Exodus 40. Now, surely this gave it a beauty, order, and glory incomparably above whatever the wisest of the sons of men are able to invent. “Let the potsherd contend with the potsherds of the earth; but woe unto him that contends with his Maker!” The worship of the pope and his invention may possibly outdo the beauty and order of the worship of the Turk and his invention; but I hope they will not compare with God, nor make themselves equal with him. But why should I say I hope it, when the contrary is evident? For doth he not undertake to assign new rules of his own in the worship of God? and doth he not therein make himself equal with God, whose prerogative it is to be the only lawgiver to his people’s consciences, and the only prescriber of his own worship? But this I may yet hope, that men will not nakedly aver, that what is of their appointment is equal unto, and comparable with, what God appoints.

    Take their institutions and God’s together, and the former, surely, will have great disadvantage in respect of the authors. This, in general, I suppose, will be granted, though men be very apt practically to make void the commands of God by their traditions and institutions, laying more weight upon some one of them than on all the commands of Jesus Christ. “But, it may be, though God appointed that worship of old, and all the concernments of it, he intended not to make that beautiful and glorious, but plain and homely; so that it doth not follow that it is beautiful and excellent because it was by him appointed.” Answer, Though we may well and safely abide by this general proposition, that what God hath appointed in his own worship is therefore beautiful and glorious, excellent, orderly, and comely, because he hath appointed it; yet I add, — 2. That it was God’s intendment to make, appoint, and dispose of all things so, that the solemnity of his worship might be very beautiful and glorious. He appoints the high priest’s garments to be made expressly “for glory and for beauty,” Exodus 28:2, — such as might be specious and goodly to look upon; and speaking of the church-state, when he had formed and fashioned it by his institution, he saith, her renown went forth among the heathen for beauty, for it was perfect through the comeliness he had put upon her, Ezekiel 16:14. There was in her ways of worship a renowned beauty, a perfect comeliness; whence, saith the prophet, “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary,” Jeremiah 17:12.

    But I shall not need to multiply testimonies to this purpose. Who knows not what things are spoken of the tabernacle, the temple, and all the worship belonging to them, everywhere in the Scripture? As God appointed, so it came to pass; — it was the most beautiful solemnity that ever the sun shone upon. Mosaical worship, I say, as celebrated in Solomon’s temple, outdid all the glory and splendor that ever the world, in any place, in any age from the foundation of it, ever enjoyed. Should all the princes of Europe lay their treasures together, they were not able to build a fabric of that charge, magnificence, and glory, as was Solomon’s temple. It were endless to go over particulars. The garments of the high priest were such as rendered him so awful and glorious, that Alexander the Great, that famous conqueror of the east, fell down before him with a prostrate reverence. The order of the house, and all the worship in it, — who can fix his mind upon it without admiration! How glorious was it when the house of Solomon stood in its greatest order and beauty, all overlaid with gold, — thousands of priests and Levites ministering in their orders, with all the most solemn musical instruments that David found out, and the great congregation assembled of hundreds of thousands, all singing praises to God! Let any man in his thoughts a little compare the greatest, most solemn, pompous, and costly worship that any of the sons of men have in these latter days invented and brought into the Christian Church, with this of the Judaical, and he shall quickly find that it holds no proportion with it, — that it is all a toy, a thing of nought in comparison of it. Take the Cathedral of Peter in Rome: bring in the pope and all his cardinals in all their vestments, habiliments, and ornaments; fill their choir with the best singers they can get; set out and adorn their images and pictures to the utmost that their treasures and superstition will reach to; — then compare it to Solomon’s Temple and the worship thereof; and, — without the help of the consideration that the one was from heaven, the other is of men, — the very nature of the things themselves will manifest how vain the present pretences are to glory and beauty. How much more may this be spoken of such underling pretenders as some are!

    These things being premised, we say now, that, notwithstanding this whole worship, and all the concernments of it, was appointed by God himself; notwithstanding it was designed by him to be beautiful and glorious, and that indeed it was the very top of what external beauty and splendor could reach unto; — yet that it was no way comparable to the beauty and glory of this spiritual worship of the New Testament; yea, had no glory in comparison of it. This, then, I shall briefly demonstrate: — (1.) In general; and then, (2.) By an induction of some particular instances.

    For the former, I need go no farther than that place where the apostle doth expressly handle this comparison, viz., 2 Corinthians 3:7-10. He doth here on set purpose compare the ministration of the law in the letter, with all its outward legal worship, rites, and ceremonies, with the administration of the gospel in the Spirit, and the worship of God attending thereon. And first, he acknowledgeth that the old ministration was very glorious; which he either gives an instance of, or proves it by that of Moses’ face shining when he came down from the mount, when he had received the law, and the pattern of all that worship which he was to appoint unto that church. It seems that God left that shining on the face of Moses — which was such that the people could not bear the brightness of it — to testify how glorious that was about which he had received revelation; so that, indeed, saith the apostle, “That ministration was glorious, very glorious, — yea, glory in the abstract,” verse 9. Nothing was there ever in the world to be compared with it. We will, then, compare it now with the ministration of the Spirit, and the worship of God under the gospel. It may be he will say, “It is not all out so glorious, indeed.” Nay, but he goes farther, and tells us that this doth so excel in glory, comeliness, and excellency, that, in respect unto it, the other had no glory at all. What, then, may be said of any thing invented by men in the worship of God for glory and beauty? I dare not say what the apostle saith of that which God himself appointed, — that it hath any glory and beauty in itself. But yet, suppose it hath so; let men esteem it as glorious and beautiful as they can possibly fancy it to be, — yet, unless the same vail be on their minds in reading the Gospel which is on the Jews’ in reading Moses, they cannot but see and acknowledge that it hath no glory in comparison of that spiritual worship which we have described.

    Some particular instances will make the general comparison more evident. I shall only name these three, which — being the principal spring of all the beauty, glory, and order of the worship of old — are peculiarly considered by the apostle to this very purpose, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he sets out the excellency of the evangelical administrations of the covenant and worship of God above and beyond the legal: — 1. The first of these was the temple, the seat of all the solemn outward worship of the old church. The beauty and glory of it were in part spoken to before; nor shall I insist on any particular description of it. It may suffice, that it was the principal state [place] of the beauty and order of the Judaical worship, and which rendered all exceeding glorious; — so far, that the people idolized it, and put their trust in it; — that upon the account of it they should be assuredly preserved, notwithstanding their presumptuous sins: and, indeed, it had such blessings and promises annexed unto it, that if there were at this day any place or house in the world that had the like, I should desire to be among the first that should enter into a pilgrimage of going to it, though it were as far beyond Jerusalem as it is thither. But yet, notwithstanding all this, Solomon himself, in his prayer at the dedication of that house, 1 Kings 8:27, seems to intimate that there was some check upon his spirit, considering the unanswerableness of the house to the great majesty of God. It was a house on the earth, — a house that he did build with his hands; intimating that he looked farther to a more glorious house than that. And what is it, if it be compared with the temple of gospel worship? Whatever is called the temple now of the people of God, is as much beyond that of old as spiritual things are beyond carnal, as heavenly beyond earthly, as eternal beyond temporal. First, In some sense the body of Christ is our temple, as himself called it, speaking of the temple of his body as being prefigured by it, — as having the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in him, typified by the presence of God in the old temple, and being the center wherein all his people meet with their worship of God, as those of old did in the temple.

    And surely there is no comparison, for beauty and excellency, between the house that Solomon built and the Son of God, “who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” Again, The persons and the assemblies of the saints, as I showed before, are a temple to God under the gospel. They are his body, Ephesians 1:23; and his house, Hebrews 3:6. Nor is the old temple, made of wood and stones, gold and silver, to be compared with this living house, washed with the blood of Christ, adorned with the real graces of the Spirit, and garnished with all the choice jewels of God’s eternal love. They are God’s delight, “the firstfruits of the creature” to him, the spouse of Christ, — through his graces altogether lovely. The Lord Jesus sees more beauty and glory in the weakest assemblies of his saints, coming together in his name, and acted and guided in his worship and ways by his Spirit, than ever was in all the worship of Solomon’s temple when it was in its glory. Thirdly, Heaven itself, the holy place not made with hands, is also the saints’ temple under the gospel. Believers have in their worship an open way into the holiest made for them by Christ, who entered into it as the forerunner, Hebrews 6:20; opening it to them, also giving admission into it, chapter 10:19-21. And how exceedingly doth this exalt the excellency of the spiritual worship of the gospel! What was the glory of Solomon’s temple to the glory of the meanest star in heaven! How much less was it, then, in comparison of the glorious presence of God in the highest heavens, whither believers enter with all their worship, even where Christ sits at the right hand of God! 2. The second spring of the beauty of the old worship — which was, indeed, the hinge upon which the whole turned — was the priesthood of Aaron, with all the administrations committed to his charge. The pomp, state, and ceremonies, that the Papists have invented in their outward worship, or that heap which they have, in several parcels, borrowed of the Heathen and Jews, is a toy in comparison of the magnificence of the Aaronical administrations. The high priest under the gospel is Christ alone.

    Now, I shall spare the pains of comparing these together; — partly, because it will be by all confessed that Christ is incomparably more excellent and glorious; and partly, because the apostle, on set purpose, handles this comparison in sundry instances in the Epistle to the Hebrews; where any one may run and read it, it being the main subject-matter of that most excellent epistle. 3. The order, glory, number, significancy, of their sacrifices, was another part of their glory. And, indeed, he that shall seriously consider that one solemn anniversary sacrifice of expiation and atonement, which is instituted, Leviticus 16, will quickly see that there was very much glory and solemnity in the outward ceremony of it. “But now,” saith the apostle, “we have a better sacrifice,” Hebrews 9:23. We have him who is the high priest, and altar, and sacrifice, — all himself; of worth, value, glory, beauty, — upon the account of his own person, the efficacy of his oblation, the real effect of it, — more than a whole creation, if it might have been all offered up at one sacrifice. This is the standing sacrifice of the saints, offered “once for all;” — as effectual now any day as if offered every day: and other sacrifices, properly so called, they have none. I might mention other particulars; but I suppose, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have in some measure manifested the excellency, beauty, order, and uniformity, of the spiritual worship of the gospel; and that both absolutely in itself, and in comparison with any other way of worship whatever. From all which it will be easily made to appear, that this may well be reckoned among the unspeakable privileges that are purchased for us by the death of Christ; — which was the thing first proposed to consideration.

    SERMON 5.

    OF WALKING HUMBLY WITH GOD. “And to walk humbly with thy God.” — Micah 6:8.

    THE beginning of this chapter contains a most pathetical expostulation of God, by the prophet, with his people, about their sins and unworthy walking before him. Having, with an apostrophe to the mountains and hills, verses 1, 2, stirred up their attention, and raised them to the consideration of his plea with them in verses 3-5, he emphatically presses them with the mercies he had of old bestowed upon them, with the patience and love toward them which he showed and exercised in his dealings with them.

    The conviction being effectual to awaken them, and fill them with a sense of their horrible ingratitude and rebellions, verses 6, 7, they begin to make inquiry, according as is the custom of persons under the power of conviction, what course they shall take to avoid the wrath of God, which they could not but acknowledge was due to them. And here, as God speaks, Hosea 7:1, when he would heal them, their iniquity and wickedness is discovered more and more; they discover the wretched principles whereon they were acted, in all that they had to do with God.

    Indeed convictions, on what account soever, made effectual upon the soul, draw out its inward principles; which are not otherwise to be discovered.

    Many there are who have, in notion, received the doctrine of free justification by the blood of Christ, whom, while they are secure in their ways, without trouble or distress, it is impossible to persuade that they do not live and act upon that principle, and walk before God in the strength of it. Let any great conviction, from the word or by any imminent or pressing danger, befall these men, — then their hearts are laid open, — then all their hopes are in their repentance, amendment of life, performance of duties in a better manner; and the iniquity of their self-righteousness is discovered.

    Thus was it with these Jews. Their sins being charged home upon them by the prophet, so that they are not able to stand under their weight and burden, he now discovers the bottom of all their principles in dealing with God; and that is this, that having provoked him, something they must do whereby to appease him and atone his anger.

    In their contrivance to this purpose, they fix on two general heads. First, They propose things which God himself had appointed, verses 6, 7; — secondly, Things of their own finding out, which they supposed might have a farther and better efficacy to the end aimed at than any thing appointed of God himself, verse 7.

    First. They look to sacrifices and burnt-offerings for help; — they consider whether by them, and on their account, they may not come before the Lord, and bow themselves before the high God; that is, perform such a worship for which they may be acquitted from the guilt of their sins.

    Sacrifices were a part of the worship of God appointed by himself, and acceptable to him when offered in faith, according to his mind; yet we find God frequently rejecting them in the Old Testament, whilst yet their institution was in force, and themselves good in their kind. Now, this rejection of them was not absolute, but with respect to somewhat that vitiated the service in them. Among these, two were most eminent: — 1. When they were rested in, as the matter and cause of their justification and acceptation with God, beyond their typical virtue. 2. When they were relied on to countenance men in the neglect of moral duties, or to continue in any way of sin.

    Both these evils attended this appeal of the Jews unto their sacrifices.

    They did it first to please God, or appease God, — that on their account they might be freed from the guilt of sin, and be accepted: and then to countenance themselves in their immoralities and wickedness; as is evident from the prophet’s reply, verse 7, calling them from their vain confidence in sacrifices, to justice, judgment, mercy, and humble walking with God.

    But, — Secondly, They find this will not do; conscience will not be satisfied nor peace be obtained by any performance of these ordinary duties, though they should engage in them in an extraordinary manner; no, though they could bring thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil. Though men attempt never so vigorously, in never so extraordinary a manner, to quiet their souls, terrified with the guilt of sin, by any duties whatever, it will not do, — the work will not be accomplished; therefore they will make farther attempts. If nothing that God hath appointed will reach the end they aim at, because they were never appointed by him for that end, they will invent or use some way of their own that may appear to be of more efficacy than the other: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression?”

    The rise and occasion of such sacrifices as here are mentioned, — the sacrificing of men, of men’s sacrificing their own children; the use of such sacrifices throughout the world, among all nations; the craft and cruelty of Satan in imposing them on poor, sinful, guilty creatures, with the advantages which he had so to do, — I have elsewhere declared. For the present, I shall only observe two things in the state and condition of convinced persons, when pressed with their sins, and a sense of the guilt of them, who are ignorant of the righteousness of God in Christ: — 1. They have a better opinion of their own ways and endeavors, for the pleasing of God and quieting their consciences, than of any thing of God’s institution, or the way by him appointed for that end. This is the height that they rise to, when they have fixed on what is most glorious in their own eyes. Tell a Papist who is convinced of sin, of the blood of Christ, — it is folly to him. Penances, satisfaction, purgatory, intercession of the church in the mass, have much more desirableness in them: — these Eliabs must wear the crown. The case is the same with innumerable poor souls at present, who hope to find more relief in their own duties and amendment of life than in the blood of Christ, as to the appeasing of God and obtaining of peace. 2. There is nothing so horrid, desperate, irksome, or wicked, that convinced persons will not engage to do under their pressure on the account of the guilt of sin. They will burn their children in the fire, whilst the cries of their conscience outcry the lamentation of their miserable infants: which, as it argues the desperate blindness that is in man by nature, choosing such abominations rather than that way which is the wisdom of God; so also the terrors that possess poor souls convinced of sin, that are unacquainted with the only remedy.

    This being the state and condition of these poor creatures, the prophet discovers to them their mistake and desperate folly in the verse of my text.

    Two things are contained in this verse; — the one is implied, the other expressed in words: — First. Here is something implied; and that is, a reproof of the error and mistake of the Jews. They thought sacrifices were appointed for the appeasing of God by their performance of them; and that this was their business in their worship, — by their duty in performance of them, to make satisfaction for the guilt of sin. This the prophet calls them from, telling them that is not their business, their duty: God hath provided another way to make reconciliation and atonement; it is a thing above their power. Their business is to walk with God in holiness; for the matter of atonement, that lies on another hand. “He hath showed thee, O man, what he requireth of thee:” he expects not satisfaction at thy hands, but obedience on the account of peace made.

    Secondly. What is expressed is this, — that God prefers moral worship, in the way of obedience, to all sacrifices whatever; according to the determination afterward approved by our Savior, Mark 12:33, “What doth the Lord require of thee?”

    Now, this moral obedience he refers to three heads: — Doing justly; loving mercy; and walking humbly with God.

    How the two first are comprehensive of our whole duty in respect of men, containing in them the sum and substance of the second table, I shall not stay to declare.

    It is the third head that I have fixed on, which peculiarly regards the first table and the moral duties thereof.

    Concerning this I shall do these three things: — I. I shall show what it is to walk with God.

    II. What it is to walk humbly with God.

    III. Prove this proposition: Humble walking with God, as our God in covenant, is the great duty and most valuable concernment of believers.

    I. As to our walking with God, some things are required to it, and some things are required in it: — Some things are required to it; as, — (1.) Peace and agreement. Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” And he tells us, that walking with God, when there is no peace with him, is like walking in a forest where and when the lion roareth, verse 8, — when a man can have no thoughts but what are full of expectation of his immediately being torn asunder and devoured. So God threateneth to deal with them that pretend to walk with him, and yet are not at peace with him, Psalm 50:22, “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.”

    Who are these? Those to whom he speaks, verse 16, “But unto the wicked, God saith:” the exceptive “but,” distinguishes them from those of whom he spoke before, verse 5, who had made a covenant with him by sacrifice, and so obtained peace in the blood of Christ. When Cain and Abel went into the field together, and were not agreed, the issue was, that the one slew the other. When Joram met Jehu in the field, he cried, “Is it peace?” and finding by his answer that they were not agreed, he instantly flew, and cried out for his life. “‘Agree,’ saith our Savior, ‘with thine adversary whiles thou art in the way,’ lest the issue be sad to thee.”

    You know at what enmity God and man do stand, whilst he is in the state of nature. They are alienated from God by wicked works, — are enemies; and their carnal mind is enmity to him, Romans 8:7; and his wrath abideth on them, John 3:36; — they are children of his wrath, Ephesians 2:3. Were I to pursue this head in particulars, I could manifest from the rise and first breach, from the consideration of the parties at variance, the various ways of managing of it, and its issue, that this is the saddest enmity that can possibly be apprehended. You know, also, what our peace and agreement with God is, and whence it doth arise.

    Christ is “our peace,” Ephesians 2:14. He hath made an end of the difference about sin, Daniel 9:24. He hath made peace for us with God; and by our interest in him, we, who were afar off, are made nigh, and obtain peace, Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14,15.

    This, then, I say, in the first place, is required to our walking with God, — that we are at peace with him, and agreement in the blood of Christ; — that we are by faith actually interested in the atonement; — that our persons are accepted, as the foundation of the acceptation of our duties.

    Without this, every attempt for walking with God in obedience, or the performance of any duties, is, — [1.] Fruitless. All that men do is lost. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;” their holy things are dung, which God will remove. In all their duties they labor in the fire; not any of their works shall turn to their eternal account. God looks on all their duties as the gifts of enemies, that are selfish, deceitful, and, of all things, to be abhorred. Such men may have their reward in this life; but as to what they aim at, their pains are lost, their hearing is lost, their alms are lost, — all is fruitless. [2.] Presumptuous. They put themselves upon the company of God, who hates them, and is hated by them. Psalm 50:16, “But unto the wicked saith God” (this is God’s language to them in their duties), “Thou bold, presumptuous rebel, what hast thou to do to take my name in thy mouth?

    Why dost thou howl thus before me, and offer swine’s blood in my presence? How camest thou hither, not having a wedding garment? I hate thy most solemn oblations.” Indeed, it will be found at the issue, that intolerable presumption lies at the bottom of all unregenerate men’s attempts to walk with God. They count it a slight thing to do so; — they deal with him as one that took very little notice how he is dealt withal.

    This, I say, is the first thing required to our walking with God, — that we be at peace and agreement with him in the blood of Christ. And, as the psalmist says, “Consider this, ye that know not God,” who have not made a covenant with him, in and by the sacrifice of his Son. You meet him in the field, — you put yourselves upon his company, — you pretend to walk with him in these duties, and those other, which custom, education, conviction, or self-righteousness, puts you upon; — in every one of them you provoke him to his face to destroy you. You seem to flatter him that you are agreed, when he declares that you are at enmity. Let a man deal thus with his ruler: — conspire against his crown and dignity, attempt his death, despise his authority, reproach his reputation; and then, when he is proclaimed rebel and traitor, and condemned to die, let him come into his presence, as in former days, and deal with him as a good subject, — offer him gifts and presents; — shall he think to escape? Will he not be seized on, and delivered over to punishment?

    Every man, in his natural estate, is a rebel against God. Thou hast rejected his authority, conspired his ruin, the ruin of his kingdom, — art proclaimed by him a traitor and rebel, — art sentenced to eternal death: is it for thee now to meet him, — to go and flatter him with thy mouth, and fawn upon him in thy other duties? Will he not remember thy rebellions, despise thy offering, command thee out of his presence into bonds and prison, — abhor thy gifts? What canst thou else expect at his hands? This is the best and utmost of their condition, in their obedience, who are not interested in Christ; and the more earnest and zealous you are, the more ready in the performance of duties, the more do you put yourselves on him and his company who hates you upon the justest grounds in the world, and is ready to destroy you. (2.) The second previous thing is, oneness of design. For persons occasionally to fall into the company of one another, and so to pass on together for a little season, doth not suffice for them to be said to walk together. Oneness of aim and design is required to it.

    The aim of God, in general, is his own glory; he makes all things for himself, Proverbs 16:4; Revelation 4:11; — in particular, as to the business of our walking with him, it is the praise of his glorious grace, Ephesians 1:6.

    Now, in this aim of God to exalt his glorious grace, two things are considerable: — First, That all which is to be looked for at the hand of God, is upon the account of mere grace and mercy, Titus 3:4,5. God aims at the exalting of his glory in this, — that he may be known, believed, magnified, as a God pardoning iniquity and sin. And, secondly, That the enjoyment of himself, in this way of mercy and grace, is that great reward of him that walks with him. So God tells Abraham, when he calls him to walk before him, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” Genesis 15:1. The enjoyment of God in covenant, and the good things therein freely promised and bestowed by him, is the exceeding great reward of them that walk with God. This also, then, is required of him that will walk with God, — that he hath the same design in his so doing as God hath; — that he aims in all his obedience at the glory of God’s grace; and the enjoyment of him as his exceeding great reward.

    Now, according to what was before said of the design of God, this may be referred unto three heads: — [1.] In general: — that the design of the person be the glory of God. “Whatever we do,” saith the apostle (that is, in our worship of God, and walking with him), “let all be done to his glory.” Men who, in their obedience, have base, low, unworthy ends, walk as contrary to God in their obedience as in their sins. Some serve him for custom; some for an increase of corn, wine, or oil, or the satisfying of some low earthly end; some aim at self and reputation. All is lost; — it is not walking with God, but warring against him. [2.] To exalt the glory of God’s grace. This is one part of the ministry of the gospel, — that in obedience we should seek to exalt the glory of grace.

    The first natural tendency of obedience was, to exalt the glory of God’s justice. The new covenant hath put another end upon our obedience: it is to exalt free grace; — grace given in Christ, enabling us to obey; grace accepting our obedience, being unworthy; grace constituting this way of walking with God; and grace crowning its performance. [3.] Aiming at the enjoyment of God, as our reward. And this cuts off the obedience of many from being a walking with God. They perform duties, indeed; but what sincerity is there in their aims for the glory of God? Is it almost once taken into their thoughts? Is not the satisfaction of conscience, the escape of hell and wrath, the sole aim they have in their obedience? Is it of concernment to them that the glory of God be exalted?

    Do they care, indeed, what becomes of his name or ways, so they may be saved? Especially, how little is the glory of his grace aimed at! Men are destroyed by a self-righteousness, and have nothing of a gospel obedience in them. Look on the praying and preaching of some men: is it not evident that they walk not with God therein, seek not his glory, have no zeal for it, no care for his name; but rest in the discharge of the duty itself? (3.) That a man may walk with another, it is required that he have a living principle in him, to enable him thereunto. Dead men cannot walk; or if they do, acted by any thing but their own vital principle and essential form, they are a terror to their companions, — not a comfort in their communion. For a dead carcase, or a trunk, to be moved up and down, is not walking. Hence this is everywhere laid down as the principle of our obedience, — that we “who were dead are quickened;” that “the law of the Spirit of life makes us free from the law of sin and death,” Romans 8:2.

    That we may walk with God, a principle of a new life is required; that we may have power for it, and be pressed to it from that which is within us.

    Had not a man rather walk alone, than have a dead carcase, taken out of a grave, and acted by an external force and power, to accompany him?

    This, I say, is a third consideration. The matter of our walking with God consists, as shall be showed, in our obedience, — in our performance of duties required. In this, we are all more or less engaged; yea, so far, that perhaps it is hard to discover who walks fastest, and with most appearance of strength and vigor. But, alas! how many dead souls have we walking amongst us! [1.] Are there none who are utter strangers to a new spiritual life — a life from above, hid with Christ in God, a life of God — that mock almost at these things; at least, that can give no account of any such life in them; — that think it strange it should be required of them that they should give any account of this life, or of being begotten again by the Spirit; yea, that make it a most ridiculous thing? “What, then, is it they will yet plead for themselves? Why do they not walk with God? Is not their conversation good and blameless? Who can charge them with any thing? Do they not perform the duties required of them?” But, friend, would it be acceptable to thee to have a dead man taken out of his grave, and carried along with thee in thy way? All thy services, thy company, is no other to God; he smells nothing but a noisome steam from thy presence with him: thy hearing, praying, duties, meditations, they are on this account all an abomination to him. Tell me not of thy conversation. If it be from a pure conscience (that is, a conscience purified in the blood of Christ), and faith unfeigned, which is the life, or a fruit of it, whereof we are speaking, — it is glorious and commendable; if from other principles, the Lord abhors it. [2.] Are there none who are acted, in their obedience and duties, not from inward principles, and spiritualized faculties, but merely from outward considerations, and external impressions? The apostle tells us how believers “grow,” and “go on to perfection,” Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 1:19. Christ is the head; from him, by the Spirit, into every joint and sinew is derived an influence of life, that. the body may thereby and therewith go on towards perfection. How is it with sundry others?

    They are set upon their feet by custom or conviction: one joint is supplied by repute, another by fear and shame, a third by self-righteousness, a fourth by the lash of conscience; and so they are driven on by a mere external impress. And these are the principles of the obedience of many.

    By such things as these are they acted in their walking with God. Do you suppose you shall be accepted, or that peace will be your latter end? I fear many that hear me this day may be in this condition. Pardon me if I am jealous with a godly jealousy. What means else that hatred of the power of godliness, that darkness in the mystery of the gospel, that cursed formality, that enmity to the Spirit of God, — that hatred of reformation, that is found amongst us?

    Use. If there be so many things required to walking with God, to fit men for it; and many who do strive to walk with him are yet lost from a defect of them, in the midst of their obedience and performance of duties, — what will become of them, where shall they appear, who never once attempted to walk with him, — who are wrought upon by no considerations to make it their business so to do? I speak not only of those amongst us, young and old, whose pride, folly, idleness, debauchery, profaneness, hatred of the ways of God, testify to their faces, to all the world, to the shame and danger of the places wherein they live, that they are servants to sin, and walk contrary to God, — who also will walk contrary unto them, until they are no more. I speak not, I say, of such as these, who are judged of all; nor yet only of those who are kept to outward observances merely on the account of the discipline of the place, and the hopes which they have laid up in it for their outward good, with such other carnal aims; — but of some also who ought to be leaders of others, and examples to that flock that is amongst us. What endeavors to walk with God are found upon them, or seen in their ways? Vanity, pride in themselves, families, and relations, yea, scoffing at religion and the ways of God, are the examples some give. I wish worldliness, selfishness, hardness, and straitness of bowels, with open vanity, do not eat up all humble walking with God, as to the power of it, in others.

    The vanity of the highest profession, without this humble walking, which is another deceit, shall be afterward spoken unto.

    For the present, let me speak to them of whom I have spoken somewhat already. If many shall cry, “Lord, Lord,” and not be heard; if “many shall strive to enter,” and shall not; what will be their lot and portion? Poor creatures! you know not the condition of your souls; you cry “Peace, and sudden destruction is at hand.” Take heed, lest the multitude of sermons and exhortations you have, make you not, like the men that dwell by the falls of mills, deaf with their continual noise. God sends his messengers sometimes to make men deaf, Isaiah 6:10. If that be your portion, it will be sad with you. Give me leave to ask you two or three questions, and I have done: — 1. Do you not please yourselves, some of you, in your ways, and that with contempt of others? Do you not think they are fools, or envious, or hypocrites, or factious, that reprove you; and scorn them in your hearts?

    Do you not rather love, honor, imitate, such as never pressed you (nor will) to this business of a new life, — to walk with God; and so suppose the times ruined, since this new-fangled preaching came up amongst you; — desiring to hear things finely spoken, and fopperies of men ignorant of God and themselves? Or, — 2. Do you not relieve yourselves, with the help of profligate souls, that you will be better, — you will repent when the season is better suited for it, and your present condition is changed? Or, — 3. Do not some of you labor to put far from you all thoughts of these things? “Amici, dum vivimus, vivamus;” — “It will be well enough with us, though we add drunkenness to thirst.” Do not, I say, one or all of these rotten, corrupted principles lie at the bottom of your loose walking with God? Take heed, I beseech you, lest the Lord tear you in pieces!

    SERMON 6.

    HAVING told you what things are previously required to our walking with God, — 2. Our next inquiry is, as to the matter or thing itself; — what it is to walk with God.

    The expression itself is very frequent in Scripture, both as to the examples of them that did so, and as to precepts for others so to do.

    It is said of Enoch, that he “walked with God,” Genesis 5:24. And “Noah walked with God,” Genesis 6:9. Hezekiah:” walked before God,” Isaiah 38:3. Abraham is commanded to walk with God, Genesis 17:1; yea, and the same thing is almost a hundred times in the Scriptures, with some little variation, so expressed. Sometimes we are said to “walk with God;” sometimes to “walk before him;” sometimes to “follow after him,” to “follow hard after him;” sometimes “to walk in his ways;” — all to the same purpose.

    The expression, you know, is metaphorical; by an allusion taken from things natural, spiritual things are expressed therein.

    Not to press the metaphor beyond its principal intention, nor to insist on all particulars wherein any thing of allusion may be found, nor yet insist on the proof of that which is owned and acknowledged, — walking with God, in general, consisteth in the performance of that obedience, for matter and manner, which God, in the covenant of grace, requires at our hands.

    I shall only manifest unto you some few of the chief concernments of this obedience, which give life and significancy to the metaphor, and so pass on: — (1.) That our obedience be walking with God, it is required that we be in covenant with him, and that the obedience be required in the tenor of that covenant.

    This, as to the matter of it, was spoken to before, under the head of what was required to this walking with God, — namely, that we have peace and agreement with him. Here it is formally considered — from that expression, “with God “ — as the spring and rule of our obedience.

    Therefore this expression is comprehensive of the whole duty of the covenant on our part. As, Genesis 17:1, “I am God Almighty,” or “Allsufficient,” — that is, unto thee I will be so, — as this is comprehensive of the whole of the covenant on the part of God, — that he will be unto us an all-sufficient God; so the words that follow are comprehensive of the whole of our duty, — “Walk before me;” which are exegetically explained in the next words, “and be thou perfect.” The covenant, — the agreement that is between God and us in Christ, wherein he promises to be our God, and we give up ourselves to be his people, — is the bottom and spring of that obedience which is walking with God; that is, at an agreement with him, in covenant with him, — with whom, out of covenant, we have no commerce. (2.) It is an obedience according to the tenor of that covenant wherein we are agreed with God. Walking with God according to the tenor of the covenant of works was, “Do this, and live.” The state is now changed. The rule now is that of Genesis 17:1, “‘Be thou perfect,’ or upright, ‘before me,’ in all the obedience I require at thy hands.”

    Now, there are sundry things required to our walking with God in obedience, so that it may answer the tenor of the covenant wherein we are agreed. [1.] That it proceed from faith in God, by Christ the mediator. Faith in God, in general, is, and must be, the principle of all obedience, in what covenant soever, Hebrews 11:6; but faith in God, through Christ the mediator, is the principle of that obedience which, according to the tenor of the new covenant, is accepted. Hence it is called “The obedience of faith,” Romans 1:5; that is, of faith in God by Christ, as the foregoing and following words evince. His blood is the blood of this covenant, Hebrews 9:15, 10:29. The covenant itself is confirmed and ratified, thereby; and by the blood of that covenant do we receive what we receive from God, Zechariah 9:11. Hence, whenever God makes mention of the covenant to Abraham, and stirs him up to the obedience that is required in it, he still mentions the “seed;” “which is Christ,” saith the apostle, Galatians 3:16. As it is said, in general, that “he that comes to God must believe that he is;” so, in particular, as to the new covenant, Christ says of himself, “I am the way:” there is no going to the Father but by him, John 14:6. They who have believed in God, must be careful to maintain good works, Titus 3:8.; that is, they who have believed in God through Christ. If, in our obedience, we walk with God according to the tenor of the new covenant, that obedience ariseth from justifying faith; that is, faith in God through Christ. [2.] That it be perfect; that is, that the person be perfect or upright therein: “Walk before me, and be thou perfect,” Genesis 17:1. It was said of Noah, that he was “perfect in his generations,” Genesis 6:9; as it is also said of many others. David bids us “mark the perfect man,” Psalm 37:37; that is, the man that walketh with God according to the tenor of the new covenant. And our Savior, calling for this obedience, commands us to “be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect,” Matthew 5:48.

    Now there is a twofold perfection: — 1st. There is a telei>wsiv , — a consummation in righteousness. So it is said of the law, that it “made nothing perfect,” Hebrews 7:19, or brought nothing to perfect righteousness. And the sacrifices made not the comers unto God by them perfect, Hebrews 10:1. They could not teleiw~sai , consummate the work of righteousness, which was aimed at.

    In this sense we are said to be perfect, “complete” in Christ, Colossians 2:10; and, as it is said in another case, Ezekiel 16:14, our beauty is “perfect” through his comeliness. This is the perfection of justification; whereof we speak not. 2dly. There is a perfection within us. Now this also is twofold: — A complete perfection of enjoyment; and a perfection of tendency towards enjoyment: — (1st.) In respect of the first, Paul says he was not made perfect, Philippians 3:12; and tells us where and by whom it is obtained, Hebrews 12:23, “The spirits of just men made perfect.” Just men are not thus made perfect until their spirits be brought into the presence of God. This perfection is the aim of Christ’s redemption, Ephesians 5:25,26; and of all their obedience, Ephesians 4:14. But this is not the perfection which the covenant requires, but which it tends and brings to, whilst by the promise of it we are carried on in the work of “perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Corinthians 7:1. See Job 9:20. (2dly.) There is also a perfection of tendency to this end. So Noah is said to be perfect, and Job perfect; and God commands Abraham to be perfect; and David describes the happy condition of the perfect man. Concerning this, observe, — [1st .] There is no word in the Scripture whereby this perfection, and being perfect, is expressed, that in its use is restrained to such an absolute perfection as should admit of no mixture of failing or defect. The word used concerning Noah, and in the terms of the covenant to Abraham, is µymiT; , of µT; , from µmæT; ; which hath various significations. When spoken in the abstract, as µT; is often used, it signifies “simplicity of manners,” without craft; which, in the New Testament, is ajkaki>a [a]kakov , Romans 16:18]. So Jacob is said to be µT; vyai , Genesis 25:27, which we have rendered, “a plain man;” that is, plain-hearted, without guile, — as Christ speaks of Nathanael. Of this sense of the word you have a notable example, 1 Kings 22:34, where the man that slew Ahab is said to draw a bow wOMtul] , “in his simplicity,” which we have rendered, “at a venture;” that is, without any pernicious design in particular. So, Job 9:21, µT; is opposed to [v;r; ; that is, to him that is “unquiet, malicious,” and “perverse.” Such a man in the New Testament is said to be ajne>gklhtov and a]mwmov , — that is, “one that cannot be justly blamed,” or reproved, “for dealing perversely.” Many other instances might be given. The word rv;yO; , which we have commonly rendered “upright,” is used also to this purpose; but it is so known that this word in its use in the Scripture goes no farther than “integrity,” nor reaches to an absolute perfection, that I shall not need to insist on it.

    The words used in the New Testament are chiefly te>leiov and a]rtiov , neither of which in their use is restrained to this perfection. Hence James saith, he is te>leiov , who bridles his tongue, James 3:2. The word is but once used positively of any man in an indefinite sense; and that is, Corinthians 2:6, where it evidently denotes only men of some growth in the knowledge of the mystery of the gospel. But I shall not farther pursue the words. [2dly .] Two things are contained in this perfection of obedience that is required in our walking with God in the new covenant. The first whereof regards our obedience; the second, the persons obeying. 1st. The perfection that respects the obedience itself, or our objective perfection, is that of parts, or the whole of the will and counsel of God as to our obedience. The law or will of God concerning our obedience is perfect; it hath an integrity in it; and we must have respect to all the parts of it that are revealed to us. So David, “I have a respect unto all thy commandments,” <19B906> Psalm 119:6. See James 2:10. 2dly. Subjective perfection, in respect of the person obeying, is his sincerity and freedom from guile, — the uprightness of his heart in his obedience. And this is that which is mainly intended in that expression of being “perfect,” — being upright, without guile, hypocrisy, false or selfish ends, — in singleness and simplicity of heart doing the whole will of God.

    This, then, I say, is that perfection of obedience which makes it walking with God. Whatever comes short of this, — if the heart be not upright, without guile, free from hypocrisy and self-ends, — if the obedience be not universal, it is not walking with God. This is a perfection in a tendency to that which is complete; which Paul wished for the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 13:9; and which he exhorted the Hebrews to, Hebrews 6:1. If we fail in this, or come short of this perfection, by any guile of our hearts, by voluntary retaining any sweet morsel under our tongue, by keeping a knee for Baal, or a bow for Rimmon, — we walk not with God. It is sad to think how many lose all they do or have wrought by coming short in this perfection. One vile lust or other, — love of the world, pride, ambition, idleness, hardheartedness, — may lose all, spoil all; and men walk contrary to God when they think they walk most with him. (3.) That our obedience may be walking with God, it is required that it be a constant, progressive motion towards a mark before us. Walking is a constant progress. He that is walking towards a place that he hath in his eye may stumble sometimes, yea, perhaps, and fall also; but yet, whilst his design and endeavor lies towards the place aimed at, — whilst he lies not still when he falls, but gets up again and presses forward, — he is still, from the chief aim of his acting, said to walk that way. But now, let this man sit down, or lie down in the way, you cannot say he is walking; much less can you say that he is walking that way, if he walk quite contrary. So is it in that obedience which is walking with God. “I press forward,” saith the apostle, “to the mark,” Philippians 3:14; “I follow after it,” chapter 3:12. And he bids us “so run that we may obtain.” There is a constant pressing forwards required in our obedience. Saith David, “I follow hard after God.” The enjoyment of God in Christ is the mark before us; our walking is a constant pressing towards it. To fall into, yea, perhaps, fall under, a temptation, hinders not but that a man may still be said to be walking, though he makes no great speed, and though he defiles himself by his fall. It is not every omission of a duty, it is not every commission of sin, that utterly cuts off in the performance of the duty; but to sit down and give over, — to engage in a way, a course of sin, — this is that which is called walking contrary to God, not with him. (4.) Walking with God, is to walk always as under the eye of God. Hence it is called “walking before him,” before his face, in his sight. The performance of all duties of obedience as under the eye of God, is required unto this walking with him.

    Now, there are two ways whereby a man may do all things as under the eye of God: — [1.] By a general apprehension of God’s omniscience and presence, as “all things are open and naked before him,” Hebrews 4:12; on this consideration, that he knows all things, — that his understanding is infinite, — that nothing can be hid from him, — that there is no flying out of his presence, <19D907> Psalm 139:7, nor hiding from him, the darkness being light to him. Men may have a general persuasion that they are under the eye of God: and this is in the thoughts of all; — I do not say actually, but in respect of the principle of it that lies in them; which, if it may freely act itself, will make them know it and consider it, Psalm 94:9; Job 24:23; Proverbs 15:3. [2.] There is a performance of obedience under the eye of God, as one that is peculiarly concerned in that obedience. God says to David, Psalm 32:8, “‘ I will guide thee with mine eye.’ The consideration of mine eye being upon thee, shall instruct thee, or teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. Mine eye is on thee, as concerned in thy ways and obedience.”

    This is to walk before God, — to consider him as looking on us, as one deeply concerned in all our ways, walking, and obedience.

    Now, we consider the Lord as thus concerned, as one from whom we receive, — 1st, Direction; 2dly, Protection; 3dly, Examination and trial. 1st. Direction. So before, — “ I will guide thee with mine eye.”

    Consideration of the eye of God on us, sends us to him for counsel and direction in the whole course of our obedience. If a child walk in any way with his father looking on him, if he be at a loss at any time which way he ought to go, will he not inquire of him who knows, who looks on him in all his ways? Are we at any loss in our way? know we not what to do, or how to steer our course? — [Let us] look to Him whose eye is upon us, and we shall have direction, Proverbs 22:12. 2dly. Protection in our walking in our obedience: Psalm 34:15, His eyes are so upon them, that his ears are open to them, to give them protection and deliverance: so fully, 2 Chronicles 16:9. This is one end why the eyes of God are upon his and their ways, — that he may show himself strong in their behalf. “I have seen it,” he lays at the bottom of all their deliverance. 3dly. For trial and examination: Psalm 11:4,5, His eyes are upon us, for to search and try if there be, as David speaks, any way of wickedness in us. This use he makes of the consideration of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, <19D907> Psalm 139:7-18. Having set forth God’s intimate knowledge of and acquaintance with him, and all his ways, verses 23, 24, he makes use of it, by appealing to him about his integrity in his obedience. So saith Job to God, “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?” Job 10:4; that is, thou dost not. And what is this spoken in reference unto? Even his trying the paths and obedience of the sons of men, verse 6. When our Savior comes to try, examine, and search the obedience of his churches, he is said to have “eyes of fire,” Revelation 1:14. And, in pursuit of it, he still tells his churches, “I know thy works;” — or, “I have not found thee perfect; I have something against thee:” — all arguing a trial and examination of their obedience.

    This, I say, is to walk before God, or under his eye, — to consider him looking on us peculiarly, as one concerned in our ways, walking, and obedience; that we may constantly take counsel of him, fly to him for protection, and consider that he weighs and tries all our ways and works, whether they are perfect according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.

    Now, there are two things that will certainly follow this consideration of our walking with God, being under his eye and control: — (1st.) Reverential thoughts of him. This God, who is a consuming fire, is nigh to us; his eyes are always on us. “Let us,” saith the apostle, “have grace, whereby we may serve him acceptably,” Hebrews 12:28,29. If men order their deportment and carriage, at least, unto a reverential appearance before their rulers or governors, who see only their outside, shall we not have a regard of Him who always hath his eye upon us, searches our hearts, and tries our reins, — the most secret reserve of our souls? But of this afterward. (2dly.) Self-abasement under a sense of our great vileness, and the imperfection of all our services. But both these belong properly to the next consideration, — of what it is to walk humbly with God. (5.) Our walking with God in our obedience, argues complacency and delight therein, and that we are bound unto God in his ways with the cords of love. He that goes unwillingly, by compulsion, with another, when every step is wearisome and burdensome to him, and his whole heart desires to be discharged of his company, can very improperly be said to walk with him, and no farther than as the mere motion of the body may be so expressed. The Lord walketh with us, and he rejoiceth over us, and in us, Zephaniah 3:17; as also he expresseth his delight in the particular service that we yield unto him, Song of Solomon 2:14. So also saith the Son and Wisdom of God, Proverbs 8:31; his joy and his delight is in the obedience of the sons of men. Hence are those longing expressions of God after the obedience of his people, “‘ O that there were such an heart in thee, that thou wouldst fear me! Turn ye, turn ye; when shall it once be!’

    What have you seen in me, that you are gone away?” And our Savior, the husband of the church, carries this to the greatest height imaginable, Song of Solomon 4:9-16. He speaks as one transported by a delight not to be borne, which he receives from the love and obedience of his spouse, — comparing it with things of the highest natural delight, and preferring them far before them.

    Now, surely, if God hath this delight in us in our walking before him, is it not expected that our delight should be in him in our obedience? It suits not my present business to go over the testimonies of Scripture, wherein either we are required to delight in the Lord, or have the example of the saints, who did so to the height proposed to us; or to insist on the nature of the delight I speak of. Job makes it a sure mark of a hypocrite, that he “will not,” notwithstanding all his obedience, “delight himself in the Almighty,” Job 27:10. Only take notice that there is a twofold delight in this matter: — [1.] A delight in the obedience itself, and the duties of it; [2.] A delight in God in that obedience. [1.] There may be a delight in the duties of obedience, upon some foreign respect, when there is no delight in God in them. A man may delight to go along with another in the way, on the account of some pleasantness in the way, or other occasions which he hath to draw him that way, though he hath no delight at all in the company of him with whom he walks. God tells us of a hypocritical people, that sought him daily, and delighted to know his ways, and took delight in approaching to God, Isaiah 58:2.

    And it is said of some, that Ezekiel’s ministry was to them as “a cheerful song of one that had a pleasant voice;” wherefore they came and heard and attended on it, when their hearts went after their sins, Ezekiel 33:31,32.

    There may be something in the administration of the ordinances of God, in the person administering, in the things administered, which may take the minds of hypocrites, so that they may run after them, and attend to them with great delight and greediness. John “was a burning and a shining light,” saith our Savior to the wicked Jews; and “they were willing for a season to rejoice” (or delight) “in his light,” John 5:35. How many have we seen running after sermons, pressing with the multitude, finding sweetness and contentment in the word, who yet have nothing but novelty, or the ability of the preacher, or some outward consideration, for the bottom of their delight! [2.] There is a delight in God in our obedience, — “Delight thyself in the Lord,” saith the psalmist, Psalm 37:4; — and a delight in obedience and duties, because it is his will, and his ways. When a person aims in every duty to meet with God, to have converse with him, to communicate his soul to him, and to receive refreshment from him; when on this account our duties and all our ways of obedience are sweet and pleasant to us; — then do we in them walk with God. Let not men think, who perform duties with a bondage-frame of spirit; to whom they are weariness and burdensome, but that they dare not omit them; who never examine their hearts whether they meet with God in their duties, or have any delight in so doing; — let them not think, I say, whatever they do, that at all they walk with God.

    I shall not insist on more particulars.

    Use 1. Of direction. Know that it is a great thing to walk with God as we ought. We heard before how many things were required to render it acceptable; now, some of the things that it consists in. Who, almost, hath prepared his heart to walk with God as he ought? who considers whether his walking be such as it ought to be? Believe me, friends, a formal performance of duties, in a course or a round, from one day, one week to another, both in private and public, may possibly come exceeding short of this walking with God. Men content themselves with a very slight and formal course. So they pray morning and evening; so they take part with some of the people of God against open profane persons; so they keep themselves from such sins as would wound a natural conscience, — all is well with them. Be not deceived, walking with God must have, — (1.) All the strength and vigor of the soul laid out in it. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” The soul and heart of a man is to be in the work; his design and contrivance about it; his contending in it. Form and a course will not do it. (2.) It is to have the perfection of the new covenant in universality, and sincerity attending it. It is not the doing of this or that thing, but the doing of all things by Christ commanded; not a loving of friends only, but of enemies; not a denial of the ways of ungodly men only, but a denial of self and the world; not a doing hurt to none only, but a doing good to all; not a hatred to evil men’s ways only, but a love to their persons; not praying and hearing only, — but giving alms, communicating, showing mercy, exercising loving-kindness in the earth; not a mortification of pride and vanity only, especially if as to others in any outward appearance, — but of envy, wrath, discontent. In a word, it is “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord” that is required. If men professing religion, who are almost devoured by world, or flesh, or envy, or faction, or idleness, or uselessness in their generation, would but lay their hearts to the rules we have considered, they would find they had but little cause to hug themselves in their ways and walking.

    I might here go over all the particulars that have been insisted on, and try our obedience by them. But, — Use 2. For others, I shall only ask over the heads of what have been delivered. Would you be thought to walk with God? — (1.) What evidence have you that you are in covenant with him? that your covenant with hell and death is broken, and that you are taken into the bond of the covenant of grace? What account can you give to God, others, or your own souls, of this your covenant state and condition? How many are at a loss as to this foundation of all walking with God! (2.) Is your obedience from faith? What evidence have you thereof? Go over all the causes, effects, and adjuncts of a justifying faith, and try whether you have this principle of all acceptable obedience. How hath it been wrought in you? What work of the Spirit have you had upon you?

    What have been your conviction, humiliation, and conversion? When, how, by what means wrought? Are your hearts purified by it, and are you by it baptized into one Spirit with the people of God? or are you still enemies to them? (3.) Is your walking universal and perfect, according to the tenor of the covenant? Have you no sweet morsel under your tongue, no beloved lust that is indulged to, that you cannot as yet thoroughly part with? no allowed reserve for sin? (4.) Do you delight in God in that obedience you yield? or are his ways a burden unto you, that you are scarce able to bear them, — weary of private prayer, of Sabbaths, of all the worship of God? I leave these things with your consciences.

    SERMON 7.

    WHAT it is to walk with God hath been declared.

    II. What is added thereunto of duty, in this qualification, comes nextly to be considered.

    Amongst the many eminent qualifications of the obedience of believers, we shall find, in the issue, this to stand in the forefront, among the chiefest (the words in the original are, tk,l, [ænex]hæw] ): To “humble thyself in walking,” or, to “walk with God.”

    A man would think that it is such an honor and advancement, that a poor sinful creature should be taken into the company of the great God, to walk with him, that he had need be exhorted to take upon him great thoughts of himself, that he may be prepared for it. “Is it a light matter,” says David, “to be son-in-law to a king?” “Is it a light matter to walk with God? How had the heart of a man need to be lifted up, which hath such apprehensions of its condition!” The matter is quite otherwise. He that would have his heart exalted up to God, must bring it down in itself. There is a pride in every man’s heart by nature, lifting him up, and swelling him until he is too high and big for God to walk with.

    Now, whereas there are two things in our walking with God considerable: — first, The inward power of it; and, secondly, The outward privilege of it, in an orderly admittance to the duties of it; — the former alone is that which edifieth us in this duty; the latter puffeth up. These Jews here, and their successors the Pharisees, having the privilege of performing the outward duty of walking with God, were, as Capernaum, lifted up unto heaven; and, trusting in themselves that they were righteous, they despised others; — of all men, therefore, they were most abhorred of God.

    This is that which the Holy Ghost beats them from, — resting in the privilege to come up to the power. God tells us of the prince of Tyrus, that he set his heart as the heart of God, Ezekiel 28:6; — he would be on even terms with him, independent, the author of his own good, fearless.

    So, in some measure, is the heart of every man by nature; which, indeed, is not to be like God, but the devil.

    To prevent this evil, I shall inquire, what it is that is here required of us, under these two heads: — 1. What it is in reference whereunto we are to humble ourselves in walking with God; 2. How we are to do it: — 1. There are two things that we are to humble ourselves unto in our walking with God: — (1.) The law of his grace? (2.) The law of his providence: — (1.) In all our walking with God, we are to humble ourselves in bowing to the law and rule of his grace; which is the way that he hath revealed wherein he will walk with sinners. The apostle tells us of the Jews in sundry places, that they had a mind to walk with God; they had “a zeal for God.” So he had himself in his Pharisaism, Philippians 3:6. He “was zealous towards God,” Acts 22:3; and so were the Jews, Romans 10:2, “I bear them record, they have a zeal of God.” And they followed after righteousness, “the law of righteousness,” chapter 9:31; they took pains to “establish their righteousness,” chapter 10:3. What can be more required to walking with God than a zeal for him, — for his laws and ways, and a diligent endeavor to attain a righteousness before him? How few do we see attain thus much! What repute have they in the world that do so? But yet, saith the apostle, they did not attain to walk with God, nor the righteousness they sought after, chapter 9:31. But what is the reason of it? Why, in their attempt to walk with God, they did not bow themselves to the law of his grace. So chapter 10:3; they went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. What righteousness is that? Why, “the righteousness of faith,” according to the law of grace, Romans 1:17. “They sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law,” chapter 9:32. And the ground of all this is discovered, verse 33. Behold, here are two effects of Christ towards several persons: some stumble at him, and so are not able to walk on with God. Who are they? He tells you, verse 32. Some are not ashamed. Who are they? They that believe, and so submit to the law of God’s grace. It is evident, then, that men may labor to walk with God, and yet stumble and fall, for want of this humbling themselves to the law of his grace.

    Let us see, then, how that may be done, and what is required thereunto. It is, then, required, — [1.] That the bottom of all a man’s obedience lie in this, — that in himself he is a lost, undone creature, an object of wrath, and that whatever he have of God in any kind, he must have it in a way of mere mercy and grace. To this apprehension of himself must proud man, that would fain have something of his own, humble himself. God abhors every one that he sees coming towards him on any other account. Our Savior Christ lets men know what they are, and what they must be, if they will come to God by him. “I came,” saith he, “to save that which was lost,” Matthew 18:11. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Matthew 9:13. Verse 12, “The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came into the world,” says he, “that they that are blind may see, and that they which see might be made blind,” John 9:39. This is the sum: “If you intend to have any thing to do with God by me, know yourselves to be lost sinners, blind, sick, — dead; so that whatever you have, you must have it in a way of mere grace.”

    And how was this direction followed by Paul? Will you see the foundation of his obedience? You have it, 1 Timothy 1:13-15, “I was thus and thus:

    I am the chief of sinners; ‘but I obtained mercy.’ It is mere mercy and grace upon the account whereof I have any thing from God:” — which principle he improves to the height, Philippians 3:7-9, “All loss, all dung; Christ is all in all.” This the proud Pharisees could not submit unto.

    It is the subject of much of their disputes with our Savior. To be lost, blind, nothing, — they could not endure to hear. Were they not children of Abraham? Did they not do so and so? To tell them that they are lost and nothing, is but to speak out of envy. And on this rock do thousands split themselves, in the days wherein we live. When they are overpowered by any conviction to an apprehension of a necessity of walking with God (as more or less, at one time or other, by one means or other, most men are), they then set themselves on the performance of the duties they have neglected, and of the obedience which they think acceptable, abiding in that course whilst their conviction abides; but never humbling themselves to this part of the law of God’s grace, — to be vile, miserable, lost, cursed, hopeless in themselves; — never making thorough work of it. They lay the foundation of their obedience in a quagmire, whose bottom should have been digged into; and stumble at the stumbling-stone, in their first attempt to walk with God.

    Now, there are two evils attending the mere performance of this duty, which utterly disappoint all men’s attempts for walking with God: — 1st. That men without it will go forth, somewhat, at least, in their own strength, to walk with God. “Why,” say the Pharisees, “can we do nothing? ‘Are we blind also?’” Acting in the power of self will cleave to such a one, so as not to be separated; it will steal upon him in every duty he goes about. Now, nothing is more universally opposite to the whole nature of gospel obedience than this, that a man should perform the least of it in his own strength, without an actual influence of life and power from God in Christ. “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing,” John 15:5. All that is done without strength from him, is nothing. God works in us “to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13.

    Whatever a man doth, which God works not in him, which he receives not strength for from Christ, is all lost, all perishing. Now, our fetching in of strength from Christ for every duty, is founded wholly in that subjection to the law of grace whereof we speak. 2dly. His obedience will build him up in that state wherein he is, or edify him towards hell and destruction: — of which more afterward. [2.] The second thing that we are to humble ourselves unto in the law of grace is, a firm persuasion, exerting itself effectually in all our obedience, that there is not a righteousness to be obtained before God by the performance of any duties or obedience of ours whatever. That this lies in the law of the grace of God, the apostle disputes at large, Romans 4:13-15, “If,” saith he, “righteousness be by the law,” — that is, by our obedience to God according to the law, — “ then faith and the promise serve to no purpose;” there is an inconsistency between the law of grace (that is, of faith and the promise) and the obtaining of a righteousness before God by our obedience. So Galatians 2:21, “If righteousness were by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” “You would walk with God according to his mind; you would please him in Jesus Christ. What do you do? You strive to perform the duties required at your hand, that on their account you may be accepted as righteous with God. I tell you,” saith the apostle, “if this be the state of things, ‘Christ is dead in vain:’ if this be a righteousness before God to be obtained by any thing you can do, the gospel is to no purpose.”

    And this, also, is the proud heart of man to humble himself to, if he will walk with God; — he must obey, he must perform duties, he must be holy, he must abstain from every sin; and that, all, under a quick, living, energetical persuasion, that by these things a righteousness before God is not to be obtained. This is to influence all your duties, to steer you in your whole course of obedience, and to accompany you in every act of it. How few are influenced with this persuasion in their walking with God! Do not most men proceed on other practical principles? “Is not their great reserve for their appearance before God hewed out of their own obedience? God knows they walk not with him. [3.] In the midst of all our obedience which is our own, we must believe and accept of a righteousness which is not our own, nor at all wrought or procured by us; of which we have no assurance that there is any such thing, but by the faith we have in the promise of God: and thereupon, renouncing all that is in or of ourselves, we must merely and solely rest on that for righteousness and acceptance with God. This the apostle affirms his heart to be humbled unto, Philippians 3:7-9, the place before mentioned. He reckons up all his own duties, — is encompassed with them, — sees them lying in great abundance on every hand; every one of them offering its assistance, perhaps painting its face, and crying that it is “gain;” but saith the apostle, “‘You are all loss and dung;’ I look for another righteousness than any you can give me.”

    Man sees and knows his own duty, his own righteousness and walking with God; he seeth what it costs and stands him in; he knows what pains he hath taken about it; what waiting, fasting, laboring, praying it hath cost him; how he hath cut himself short of his natural desires, and mortified his flesh in abstinence from sin. These are the things of a man, wrought in him, performed by him; and the spirit of a man knows them; and they will promise fair to the heart of a man that hath been sincere in them, for any end and purpose that he shall use them. But now, for the righteousness of Christ, — that is without him; he seeth it not, experiences it not; the spirit that is within him knows nothing of it; he hath no acquaintance with it, but merely as it is revealed and proposed in the promises, wherein yet it is nowhere said to him, in particular, that it is his, and was provided for him, but only that it is so, to and for believers. Now, for a man to cast away that which he hath seen, for that which he hath not seen; to refuse that which promises to give him a fair entertainment and supportment in the presence of God, and which he is sure is his own, and cannot be taken from him, for that which he must venture on upon the word of promise, against ten thousand doubts, and fears, and temptations that it belongs not to him; — this requires humbling of the soul before God; and this the heart of a man is not easily brought unto. Every man must make a venture for his future state and condition. The question only is, upon what he shall venture it? Our own obedience is at hand, and promises fairly to give assistance and help: for a man, therefore, wholly to cast it aside upon the naked promise of God to receive him in Christ, is a thing that the heart of man must be humbled unto. There is nothing in a man that will not dispute against this captivity of itself: innumerable proud reasonings and imaginations are set up against it; and when the mind and discursive, notional part of the soul is overpowered with the truth, yet the practical principle of the will and the affections will exceedingly tumultuate against it. But this is the law of God’s grace, which must be submitted unto, if we will walk with him; — the most holy, wise, and zealous, who have yielded the most constant obedience unto God, — whose good works and godly conversation have shone as lights in the world, — must cast down all these crowns at the foot of Jesus, renounce all for him, and the righteousness that he hath wrought out for us. All must be sold for the pearl; — all parted with for Christ. In the strictest course of exactest obedience in us, we are to look for a righteousness wholly without us. [4.] We must humble ourselves to place our obedience on a new foot of account, and yet to pursue it with no less diligence than if it stood upon the old. Ephesians 2:8-10, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” “If not of works, then what need of works any more? The first end appointed to our obedience was, that, we might be saved. This end, it seems, is taken away: our works and duties are excluded from any efficiency in compassing of that end; for if it be of works, ‘then grace is no more grace,’ Galatians 2:21. Then let us lay all works and obedience aside, and sin, that grace may abound.” That many did, that many do, make this use of the grace of God, is most evident; so turning it into lasciviousness. “But,” saith the apostle, “there is more to be said about works than so. Their legal end is changed, and the old foundation they stood upon is taken away. But there is a new constitution making them necessary, — a new obligation, requiring them no less exactly of us than the former did, before it was disannulled.” So Ephesians 2:10, “‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’ God saving us by grace, hath, on that account, appointed that we should walk in obedience. There is this difference: — before, I was to perform good works because I was to be saved by them; now, because I am saved without them.” God saving us in Christ, by grace, hath appointed that we shall perform that in a way of acknowledgment of our free salvation, which before we were to do to be saved. Though works left no room at all for grace, yet grace leaves room for works, though not the same they had before grace came. This, then, are we to humble ourselves to, — to be as diligent in good works, and all duties of obedience, because we are saved without them, as we could be to be saved by them. He that walks with God must humble his soul to place all his obedience on this foot of account. He hath saved us freely; only let our conversation be as beseemeth the gospel. How this principle is effectual in believers, as to the crucifying of all sin, Paul declares, Romans 6:14, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

    The argument to carnal reason would lie quite contrary. “If we are not under the law, — that is, the condemning power of the law, — then let sin have its dominion, power, sway. Did not the law forbid sin, under pain of damnation? — ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not,’ etc. Did not the law command obedience with the promise of salvation? — ‘The man that doth the things of it shall live therein.’ If, then, the law be taken away from having power over us to these ends and purposes, as to forbid sin with terror of damnation, and command obedience for righteousness and salvation, what need we perform the one or avoid the other? “Why, upon this account,” saith the apostle, “that we are under grace; which, with new ends, and on new motives and considerations, requires the one and forbids the other.”

    Have we now, or do we constantly humble ourselves to this part of the law of God’s grace, — that we build up and establish our obedience on grace, and not on the law; on motives of love, not fear; from what God hath done for us in Christ, rather than from what we expect, — because” eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord?” [5.] We are to humble ourselves to this, — that we address ourselves to the performance of the greatest duties, being fully persuaded that we have no strength for the least. This is that which lies so cross to flesh and blood, that our souls must be humbled to it if ever we are brought to it; and yet without this there is no walking with God. There are great and mighty duties to be performed in our walking with God in a way of gospel obedience: there is cutting off right hands, plucking out right eyes; denying, yea, comparatively, hating father, mother, and all relations; dying for Christ, laying down our lives for the brethren; crucifying the flesh, cutting short all earthly desires, keeping the body in subjection, bearing the cross, self-denial, and the like; — which, when they come to be put in practice, will be found to be great and mighty duties. This is required in the law of grace, — that we undertake and go through with these all our days, with a full assurance and persuasion that we have not strength of ourselves, or in ourselves, to perform the least of them. “We are not sufficient of ourselves,” saith the apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:5. We cannot think a good thought. Without Christ we can do nothing, John 15:5.

    This, to a carnal heart, looks like making of brick without straw. “A hard saying it is, who can bear it?” May not men sit down and say, “Why doth he yet complain? Is he not austere, reaping where he hath not sown? Are his ways equal?” Yea, most equal, righteous, and gracious; for this is the design of his thus dealing with us, that upon our addressing ourselves to any duty, we should look to him from whom are all our supplies, and thereby receive strength for what we have to do. How unable was Peter to walk upon the water! Yet, when Christ bids him come, he ventures in the midst of the sea; and with the command hath strength communicated to support him. God may call us to do or suffer what he pleases, so that his call have an efficacy with it to communicate strength for the performance of what he calls us to, Philippians 1:29.

    This, I say, are we to humble ourselves unto, — not only in the general to reckon that the duties that are required of us are not proportioned to the strength residing in us, but to the supply laid up for us in Christ; but also to lie under such an actual conclusion in every particular duty that we address ourselves to. This, in civil and natural things, were the greatest madness in the world; nor is it needful that you should add any farther discouragement to a man from attempting any thing, than to convince him that he hath no strength or ability to perform or go through with it. Once persuade him of that, and there is an end of all endeavors; for who will wear out himself about that which it is impossible he should attain? It is otherwise in spirituals: God may require any thing of us that there is strength laid up in Christ for, enough to enable us to perform it; and we may by faith attempt any duty, though never so great, if there be grace to be obtained for it from Christ. Hence is that enumeration of the great things done by believers through faith, — utterly beyond their own strength and power, Hebrews 11:33,34, “Out of weakness were made strong.” When they entered upon the duty, they were weakness itself; but in the performance of it grew strong, by the supply that was administered.

    So we are said to come to Christ to “find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:16, — when we need it, as going about that which we have no might nor power for.

    This is the way to walk with God, — to be ready and willing to undergo any duty, though never so much above or beyond our strength, so we can see that in Christ there is a supply. The truth is, he that shall consider what God requires of believers, would think them to have a stock of spiritual strength like that of Samson’s, since they are to fight with principalities and powers, contend against the world, and self, and what not; and he that shall look upon them will quickly see their weakness and inability. Here lies the mystery of it, — the duties required of them are proportioned to the grace laid up for them in Christ, — not to what they are at any time themselves intrusted withal. [6.] This, also, is another thing we are to humble ourselves unto, — to be contented to have the sharpest afflictions accompanying and attending the strictest obedience. Men walking closely with God, may perhaps have some secret reserves for freedom from trouble in this life: hence they are apt to think strange of a fiery trial, 1 Peter 4:12; and therefore, when it comes upon them, they are troubled, perplexed, and know not what it means; especially if they see others prospering, and at rest in the land, who know not God. Their estates are ruined, names blasted, bodies afflicted with violent diseases, children taken away, or turning profligate and rebellious, life in danger every hour, — perhaps killed all the day long: hereupon they are ready to cry, with Hezekiah, Isaiah 38:3, “Lord, remember;” or to contend about the business, as Job did, being troubled that he was disappointed in his expectation, of dying in his nest. But this frame is utterly contrary to the law of the grace of God; which is, that the children that he receives are to be chastised, Hebrews 12:6; that they are to undergo whatever chastening he will call them to: for, having made the Captain of their salvation perfect through all manner of sufferings, he will make his conformable to him. This, I say, is part of the law of the grace of God, that in the choicest obedience we willingly undergo the greatest afflictions. The management of this principle between God and Job were worth while to consider; for although he disputed long, yet God left him not until he brought him to own it, and to submit unto it with all his heart.

    This will farther appear in our second head, about submitting to the law of the providence of God. The truth is, to help our poor weak hearts in this business, to prevent all sinful repinings, disputes, and the like, he hath laid in such provision of principles as may render the receiving of it sweet and easy to us; as, — 1st. That he doth not correct us for his pleasure, but that he may make us partakers of his holiness: so that we are not in heaviness unless it be needful for us; which we may rest upon, when we neither see the cause nor the particular of our visitation; — then, on this account we may rest on his sovereign will and wisdom. 2dly. That he will make all things work together for our good. This takes the poison out of every cup we are to drink, yea, all the bitterness of it.

    We have concernments that lie above all that here we can undergo or suffer; and if all work for our advantage and improvement, why should they not be welcome to us? 3dly. That conformity and likeness to Jesus Christ is hereby to be attained; and sundry other principles there are given out, to prevail with our hearts to submit and humble our souls to this part of the law of God’s grace: which is a thing that the devil never thought Job would have done, and was therefore restless until it was put to the trial; but he was disappointed and conquered, and his condemnation aggravated.

    And this is the first thing required of us, — namely, that we humble ourselves to the law of the grace of God.

    Use 1. Let us now take some brief account of ourselves, whether we do so or no. We perform duties, and so seem to walk with God; but, — (1.) Is the bottom of our obedience a deep apprehension and a full conviction of our own vileness and nothingness, — of our being the chief of sinners, lost and undone; so that we always lie at the foot of sovereign grace and mercy? Is it so? Then, when, how, by what means, was this apprehension brought upon us? I intend not a general notion that we are sinners; but a particular apprehension of our lost, undone condition, with suitable affections thereunto. Do we cry to the Lord out of the depths? or is the end of our obedience to keep ourselves out of such a condition? I am afraid many amongst us, could we, or themselves, by any means dive into the depths of their hearts, would be found to yield their obedience unto God merely on the account of keeping them out of the condition which they must be brought unto before they can yield any acceptable obedience to him. If we think at all to walk with God, let us be clear in this, that such a sense and apprehension of ourselves lies at the bottom of it, — “Of sinners I am chief.” (2.) Doth this always abide in our thoughts, and upon our spirits, — that, by all we have done, do, or can do, we cannot obtain righteousness to stand in the presence of God; so that in the secret reserves of our hearts we place none of our righteousness on that account? Can we be content to suffer loss in all our obedience, as to an end of righteousness? and do we appear before God simply on another head, as if there were no such thing as our own obedience in the world? Herein, indeed, lies the great mystery of gospel obedience, — that we pursue it with all our strength and might, with all the vigor of our souls, and labor to abound in it, like the angels in theirs, — perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord; and yet, in point of the acceptation of our persons, to have no more regard unto it than if we had yielded no more obedience than the thief on the cross. (3.) Do we, then, humble ourselves to accept of the righteousness that God in Christ hath provided for us? It is a common working of the heart of them whom God is drawing to himself; — they dare not close with the promise, they dare not accept of Christ and his righteousness, — it would be presumption in them. And the answer is common, — that indeed this is not fear and humility, but pride. Men know not how to humble themselves to a righteousness purely without them, on the testimony of God: the heart is not willing to it; we would willingly establish our own righteousness, and not submit to the righteousness of God. But how is it with our souls? Are we clear in this great point, or no? If we are not, we are at best shuffling with God; — we walk not with him. He admits none into his company, but expressly on the terms of taking this righteousness that he hath provided; and his soul loathes them that would tender him any thing in the room thereof, as men engaged to set up their wisdom and righteousness against his. But I must conclude.

    Use 2. If all these things are required to our walking with God, where shall they appear, what shall be their lot and portion, who take no thought about these things? Some we see visibly to walk contrary to him, having no regard to him at all, nor considering their latter end. Others have some checks of conscience, — that think to cure these distempers and eruptions of sin with a loose cry of “God be merciful to them.” Some go a little farther, — to take care of the performance of duties; but they seek not God in a due manner, and he will make a breach upon them. The Lord awaken them all before it be too late!

    SERMON 8.

    WHAT it is to humble ourselves to the law of God’s grace, you have heard. (2.) I come now to show what it is to humble ourselves to the law of his providence.

    By the law of providence, I intend, God’s sovereign disposal of all the concernments of men in this world, in the variety, order, and manner which he pleaseth, according to the rule and infinite reason of his own goodness, wisdom, righteousness, and truth. [1.] To evince what it is to humble ourselves to this law, some general observations must be given. And, — 1st. There is, and ever was, somewhat, very much, in God’s providential administration of the things of this world, and the concernments of the sons of men therein, which the most improved reason of men cannot reach unto, and which is contrary to all that is in us, as merely men; — of judgment, affections, or what else soever we are acted by. “Thy judgments,” saith David unto God, “are far above out of his sight,” Psalm 10:5; that is, of the man he is speaking of: he is not able to see the ground and reason, the order and beauty of them. And Psalm 36:6, “Thy righteousness is like a great mountain, and thy judgments are a great deep;” that is, as the sea, which none can look into the bottom of, nor know what is done in the caverns thereof. So that there is a height in the judgments of God not to be measured, and a depth not to be fathomed.

    Men cannot look into his ways. So also Psalm 77:19, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.”

    Men must be content to stand at the shore, and admire at the works of God; but as to the beauty and excellency of them, they cannot search them out. To this purpose discourseth Zophar, in Job 11:7-12. It is of the excellency and perfection of God in his works of providence that he is speaking; in the consideration of whose unsearchableness, he closes with that of verse 12, “Vain man would know the secrets of the counsels of God, the reason of his ways; but, in his attempts after it, he is as an ass, as a wild ass, as the colt of a wild ass;” — than which nothing could be spoken with more contempt, to abase the pride of a poor creature.

    The ways of God are, we know, all perfect. He is our rock; and his work is perfect: nothing can be added to them, nor taken from them; yea, they are all comely and beautiful in their season. There is not any thing comes out from him, but it is from wonderful counsel; and all his ways will at length be found to praise him. But, as Job speaks, Job 9:11, we perceive it not, — we take no notice of it; for who hath known his mind, or been his counselor? Romans 11:33,34.

    Hence, not only the heathen were entangled in the consideration of the works of providence, — some, upon it, turning Atheists; most, ascribing all things to blind, uncertain chance and contingency; and others (very few) laboring to set a luster upon what they could not understand, — but we have the people of God themselves disputing with him about the equality of his ways; bringing arguments against it, and contending against his wisdom in them: “Ye say, The way of the LORD is not equal,” Ezekiel 18:25. And again are they at it, Ezekiel 33:20, “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal.” Yea, not only the common people, but the choicest of God’s servants, under the Old Testament, were exceedingly exercised with this, that they could not oftentimes see the beauty and excellency, nor understand the reason or order, of God’s dispensations; which I might prove at large, in the instances of Job, David, Heman, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and others. Yea, there was nothing that God was more put to, in dealing with his people of old, than to justify the righteousness and perfections of his providential dispensations against their unjust, unbelieving complaints and manners.

    This, then, being the condition of God’s providential dispensations in general, — that there is much in them, not only above us, and unsearchable to us, as to the reason and beauty of his ways, but also contrary to all that is in us of reason, judgment, or affections; there is surely need of humbling our souls to the law of this providence, if we intend to walk with him.

    Neither is there any other way to come to an agreement with him, or to quiet our hearts from repining. 2dly . There are four things in God’s providential disposing of the things and concernments of men in the world that require this humbling of ourselves to him, as being no way able to grapple with him: — (1st.) Visible confusion; (2dly.) Unspeakable variety; (3dly.) Sudden alterations; (4thly.) Deep distresses. (1st.) Visible confusion, — like that mentioned, Isaiah 8:22. He that takes a view of the general state of things in the world, will see nothing but trouble, darkness, and anguish; “yea, darkness cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” The oppression of tyrants, wasting of nations, destruction of men and beasts, fury and desolations, make up the things of the past and present ages; — the greatest and choicest parts of the earth, in the meantime, inhabited by them that know not God, — that hate him, that fill and replenish the world with habitations of cruelty, sporting themselves in mischief, like the leviathan in the sea. In respect hereof, God is said to make “darkness his secret place” and his pavilion, Psalm 18:11; and to “dwell in the thick darkness,” 2 Chronicles 6:1; — and to wait for the issue of this dispensation, to humble themselves to the law of it, is the patience and wisdom of the saints. See Habakkuk 2:1. (2dly.) Unspeakable variety. Not to insist on particulars, the case of the saints throughout the world is the only instance I shall mention, and that on a twofold account: — [1st .] Compared among themselves, in what unspeakable variety are they dealt withal! some under persecution always, — some always at peace; some in dungeons and prisons, — some at liberty in their own houses; the saints of one nation under great oppression for many ages, — of another, in quietness; in the same places some poor, in great distress, put hard to it for daily bread all their lives, — others abounding in all things; some full of various afflictions, going softly and mourning all their days, — others spared, and scarce touched with the rod at all; — and yet, commonly, the advantage of holiness and close walking with God lying on the distressed side. How doth God deal, also, with families in respect of grace, while he takes one whole family into covenant, and leaves out another whole family, whose heads and springs are no less holy? He comes into a house, and takes one, and leaves another; — takes a despised outcast, and leaves a darling. Of them, also, some are wise, endowed with great gifts and abilities; — others weak to contempt and reproach. Who can, now, with an eye of reason, look upon them, and say they are all the children of one Father, and that he loves them all alike? Should you come into a great house, and see some children in scarlet, having all things needful, others hewing wood and drawing water, — you would conclude that they are not all children, but some children, some slaves: but when it shall be told you that they are all one man’s children; and that the hewers of wood, that live on the bread and water of affliction, and go in tattered rags, are as dear to him as the other; and that he intends to leave them as good an inheritance as any of the rest; — if you intend not to question the wisdom and goodness of the father of the family, you must resolve to submit to his authority with a quiet subjection of mind. So is it in the great family of God; nothing will quiet our souls, but humbling ourselves to the law of his providence. [2dly .] Comparing them with others was the hard case of old; the pleading whereof by Job, David, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk, is so known, that I shall not need farther to insist upon it.

    I shall not farther manifest this from the variety which is in the dispensations of God towards the men of the world, which the wisest of men can reduce to no rule of righteousness, as things pass among us.

    Solomon acquaints us with it, Ecclesiastes 9:11. Things are disposed of according to no rule that we may fix our expectations on; which ruined the reason of that mirror of mankind, in a natural condition, Marcus Brutus, and made him cry out, W tlh~mon ajreth> . (3dly.) Sudden alterations. As in the case of Job, God takes a man whom he hath blessed with choice of blessings, in the midst of a course of obedience and close walking with himself, when he expected to die in his nest, and to see good all his days; — ruins him in a moment; blasts his name, that he who was esteemed a choice saint, shall not be able to deliver himself from the common esteem of a hypocrite; slays his children; takes away his rest, health, and every thing that is desirable to him. This amazes the soul; it knows not what God is doing, nor why he pleads with it in so much bitterness. A man that either is, or may fall into such a condition, will find that he will never be able to walk with God in it, without humbling himself to the law of his providence. (4thly.) Great, deep, and abiding distresses have the same effects with sudden alterations; — of which more afterwards.

    And these are, in general, some of the things in God’s providential disposal of the things of men in this world, that are too hard and wonderful for flesh and blood; wherein his paths are in the deep; which are contrary to all rules of procedure that he hath given us to judge by, who are to judge of things but once, he being to call all things to a second account. [2.] Having given these two observations, I return to what I first proposed, — namely, the duty of humbling ourselves to the law of the providence of God, so far as it concerns us in particular.

    I do not intend merely that men, in general, should be content with the dealings of God in the world; but that we should humble our hearts to him in what falls to be our share therein, though it come under any one or more of the heads of difficulty before mentioned. Our lots are various in this world: how they may be farther different before we go out of it we know not. Some are in one condition, — some in another. That we envy not one another, nor any in the world; that we repine not at God, nor charge him foolishly, — is that I aim at; — a thing sufficiently necessary in these days, wherein good men are too little able to bear their own condition, if in any thing it differs from [that of] others.

    The next thing, then, is, to consider how and wherein we are to humble ourselves to the law of the providence of God. There are things on this account which our souls are to be humbled unto: — First. His sovereignty. May he not do what he will with his own? This is so argued out in Job that I shall need to go no farther for the confirmation of it. See Job 33:8-13. The words are the sum of what was, or was apprehended to be, the complaint of Job, — that in the midst of his innocency and course of obedience, God dealt hardly with him, and brought him into great distresses. What is the reply hereunto? Verse 12, “Behold, in this thou art not just.” It is a most unequal thing for any man to make any such complaints. Whether Job did so or not, may be disputed; but for any one to do so, is certainly most unjust. But on what ground is that asserted? See the words following: “‘God is greater than man; why strivest thou with him?’ It is to no purpose to contend with him that is mightier than thou. And it is likewise unjust to do it with him, who is infinitely and incomparably so, upon the account of his absolute dominion and sovereignty. ‘For,’ saith he, ‘He giveth no account of his matters.’ He disposeth of all things as he will, and as he pleaseth.” This is pursued to the utmost, Job 34:18,19. Men will not be forward openly to revile or repine against their governors; and what shall be said of God, who is infinitely exalted above them? Hence you have the conclusion of the whole matter, verses 31-33.

    This, I say, is the first thing that we are to humble ourselves unto. Let us lay our mouths in the dust, and ourselves on the ground, and say, “It is the Lord; I will be silent, because he hath done it. He is of one mind, and who can turn him? He doth whatever he pleaseth. Am not I in his hand as clay in the hand of the potter? May he not make what kind of vessel he pleases? When I was not, he brought me out of nothing by his word. What I am, or have, is merely of his pleasure. Oh, let my heart and thoughts be full of deep subjection to his supreme dominion and uncontrollable sovereignty over me!” This quieted Aaron in his great distress; and David in his, 2 Samuel 15:25,26; and Job in his. It is pleaded by the Lord, Jeremiah 10, Romans 9:11, and innumerable other places. If we intend to walk with God, we must humble ourselves to this, and therein we shall find rest.

    Second. His wisdom. He is wise also, as he speaks in derision of men’s pretending to be so; indeed, God is only wise. Now, he hath undertaken to make “all things work together for good to them that love him,” Romans 8:28; — that we shall not be in heaviness unless it be needful, 1 Peter 1:6. In many dispensations of his providence we are at a loss, — we cannot measure them by that rule. We see not how this state or condition can be good for the church in general, or us in particular. We suppose it would be more for his glory, and our advantage, if things were otherwise disposed. Innumerable are the reasonings of the hearts of the sons of men on this account; we know not the thoughts of our own souls herein, how vile they are. God will have us humble ourselves to his wisdom in all his dispensations, and to captivate our understandings thereunto. So Isaiah 40:27,28. This is that which our hearts are to rest in, when ready to repine, — there is no end of his understanding; he sees all things, in all their causes, effects, circumstances, — in their utmost reach, tendency, and correspondency. We walk in a shade, and know nothing of what is before us. The day will come when we shall see one thing set against another, and infinite wisdom shining out in them all; that all things were done in number, weight, and measure; that nothing could have been otherwise than it is disposed of, without the abridgment of the glory of God and the good of his church. Yea, I dare say, that there is no saint of God, that is distressed by any dispensation of providence, but that, if he will seriously and impartially consider his own state and condition, the frame of his heart, his temptations, and ways, with so much of the aims and ends of the Lord as will assuredly be discovered to faith and prayer, but he will have some rays and beams of infinite wisdom shining in it, tempered with love, goodness, and faithfulness. But whether for the present we have this light or not, or are left unto darkness, this is the haven and rest of our tossed souls, the ark and bosom of our peace, — to humble our souls to the infinite wisdom of God in all his procedure; and on that account quietly to commit all things to his management.

    Third. His righteousness. Though God will have us acquiesce in his sovereignty, when we can see nothing else, yet he will have us know that all his ways are equal and righteous. The holy God will do no iniquity.

    That he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, is pleaded as much as any thing that he hath discovered of himself: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Is God unjust who inflicteth vengeance? God forbid. The righteousness of God — all which springeth from, and is reduced to, the universal rectitude of his nature, in respect of the works that he doth — is manifold. It is that which is called “Justitia regiminis,” — his righteousness in rule or government, in the dispensation of rewards and punishments, — that I am speaking of. Now, because we are not able to discern it in many particulars of his proceeding, to help us in humbling our souls unto it, take these considerations: — First. That God judgeth not as man judgeth. Man judgeth according to the seeing of the eye, and the hearing of the ear; but God searcheth the heart.

    Little do we know what is in the heart of men; — what transactions there are or have been between God and them, which, if they were drawn forth, as they shall be one day, the righteousness of God in his procedure would shine as the sun. Rest on this, — we know much less of the matter on the account whereof God judgeth, than we do of the rule whereby he judges.

    Most things are to him otherwise than to us. Secondly. God is the great Judge of all the world, — not of this or that particular place; and so disposeth of all as may tend to the good of the whole, and his glory in the universality, of things. Our thoughts are bounded — much more our observation and knowledge — within a very narrow compass. That may seem deformed unto us which, when it lies under an eye that at once hath a prospect of the whole, is full of beauty and order. He that was able to see at once but some one small part of a goodly statue, might think it a deformed piece; when he that sees it altogether is assured of its due proportion and comeliness. All things in all places, of the ages past and to come, lie at once naked before God; and he disposes of them so as that, in their contexture and answer one to another, they shall be full of order; — which is properly righteousness. Thirdly. God judges here, not by any final, determinate sentence, but in a way of preparation to a judgment to come. This unties all knots, and solves all difficulties whatever. This makes righteous and beautiful the deepest distresses of the godly, and the highest advancements of wicked men. And there let our souls rest themselves in quietness, Acts 17. Fourthly. His goodness, kindness, love, tenderness. Our souls must submit themselves to believe all these to be in all God’s dispensations. I shall but name that one place wherein the apostle disputes for it, Hebrews 12:1-6; and add that wherewith Hosea closes his declaration of God’s various dispensations and dealings with his people, Hosea 14:9.

    This, now, it is to humble our souls to the law of God’s providence in all his dispensations, — to fall down before his sovereignty, wisdom, righteousness, goodness, love, and mercy. And without this frame of heart, there is no walking with God; unless we intend to come into his presence to quarrel with him, — which will not be for our advantage.

    This was Paul’s frame, Philippians 4:11, “I have learned it,” saith he; “it is not in me by nature, but I have now learned it by faith, I have humbled my soul to it,” (ejn oi=v eijmi ) — “in the things, state, condition, good or bad, high or low, at liberty or in prison, respected or despised, in health or sickness, living or dying,” (ejn oi=v eijmi ,) “therein to bow myself to the law of the good providence of God; which is contentment.” So was it also with David. <19D101> Psalm 131:1: He did not exercise himself, or trouble himself, about the ways and works of God that were too high and too hard for him. How, then, did he behave himself? Verse 2: Something in his heart would have been inquiring after those things; but he quieted himself, and humbled his soul to the law of the providence of God, which hath that comfortable issue mentioned, verse 3, — an exhortation not to dispute the ways of God, but to hope and trust in him, on the account mentioned before. This is also the advice that James gives to believers of all sorts, James 1:9,10. Let every one rejoice in the dispensations of God, willingly bowing their hearts to it.

    This is a popular argument, of daily use. Should I insist on the reasons of it, — its consequence, effects, and advantage; its necessity, if we desire that God should have any glory, or our own souls any peace; the perfect conquest that will be obtained by it over the evil of every condition; and stretch it in application to the saddest particular cases imaginable (for all which the Scripture abounds in directions), — I should go too far out of my way.

    This, then, I say, is the second thing we are to humble ourselves unto. 2. My other inquiry remains, — namely, how or by what means we are thus to humble ourselves to the law of grace and providence?

    I shall but name one or two of the principal graces, in the exercise whereof this may be performed: — (1.) Let faith have its work. There are, among others, two things that faith will do, and is suited to do, that lie in a tendency hereunto: — [1.] It empties the soul of self. This is the proper work of faith, — to discover the utter emptiness, insufficiency, nothingness that is in man unto any spiritual end or purpose whatever. So Ephesians 2:8,9. Faith itself is of God, not of ourselves; and it teaches us to be all by grace, and not by any work of ours. If we will be any thing in ourselves, faith tells us then it is nothing to us; for it only fills them that are empty, and makes them all by grace who are nothing by self. While faith is at work, it will fill the soul with such thoughts as these: “I am nothing; a poor worm at God’s disposal; lost, if not found by Christ; — have done, can do, nothing on the account whereof I should be accepted with God: surely God is to be, in all things, submitted to; and the way of his mere grace accepted.” So Romans 3:27. This is the proper work of faith, — to exclude and shut out boasting in ourselves; that is, to render us to ourselves such as have nothing at all to glory or rejoice in ourselves, that God may be all in all.

    Now, this working of faith will keep the heart in a readiness to subject itself unto God in all things, both in the law of his grace and providence. [2.] Faith will actually bring the soul to the foot of God, and give it up universally to his disposal. What did the faith of Abraham do when it obeyed the call of God? Isaiah 41:2. It brought him to the foot of God.

    God called him, to be at his disposal universally, by faith to come to it, following him, he knew not for what, nor whither. “Leave thy father’s house and kindred;’ — he disputes it not. “Cast out Ishmael, whom thou lovest;” — he is gone. “Sacrifice thine only Isaac;” — he goes about it. He was brought by faith to the foot of God, and stood at his disposal for all things. This is the proper nature of faith, — to bring a man to that condition. So was it with David, 2 Samuel 15:26. This faith will do. Will God have me to suffer in my name, estate, family? “It is the LORD,” saith faith. Will he have me to be poor, despised in the world, — of little or no use at all to him or his people? “Who,” saith faith, “shall say to him, What doest thou?” In any state and condition, faith will find out arguments to keep the soul always at God’s disposal. (2.) Constant, abiding reverence of God will help the soul in this universal resignation, and humbling of itself. Now, this reverence of God is an awful spiritual regard of the majesty of God, as he is pleased to concern himself in us, and in our walking before him, on the account of his holiness, greatness, omniscience, omnipresence, and the like. So Hebrews 12:28,29; Psalm 89:7, 8:9.

    Now, this reverence of God ariseth from three things, as is evident from the description of it: — [1.] The infinite excellency and majesty of God and his great name. This is the apostle’s motive, Hebrews 12:29, 4:13. So Deuteronomy 28:58.

    The excellency of God in itself, is not only such as makes wicked men and hypocrites to tremble, whenever the thoughts of it seize on them, Isaiah 33:14, but also it hath filled the saints themselves with dread and terror, Habakkuk 3:16. Nor is there any bearing the rays of his excellency, but as they are shadowed in Christ, by whom we have boldness to approach unto him. [2.] The infinite, inconceivable distance wherein we stand from him.

    Thence is that direction of the wise man to a due regard of God at all times, Ecclesiastes 5:2: He is in heaven, whence he manifests his glorious excellency in a poor worm creeping on the mire and clay of the earth. So did Abraham, Genesis 18:27. What an inconceivable distance is there between the glorious majesty of God, and a little dust which the wind blows away and it is gone! [3.] That this inconceivably glorious God is pleased, of his own grace, to condescend to concern himself in us poor worms, and our services, which he stands in no need of, Isaiah 57:15. His eye is upon us, — his heart is towards us. This makes David break into that admiration, 1 Chronicles 17:16; and should do so to us.

    Now, what are the advantages of keeping alive a reverence of God in our hearts; how many ways it effectually conduces to enable us to humble our souls to the law of his grace and providence; what an issue it will put to all the reasonings of our hearts to the contrary, — I cannot stay to declare.

    And the improvement of these two graces, faith and reverence, is all that I shall at present recommend unto you for the end and purpose under consideration.

    But I come, in the next place, to that part of this whole discourse which was at first principally intended.

    SERMON 9.

    We have at large considered the nature of this duty.

    III. Let us now proceed to prove the proposition at first laid down, and shut up the whole; viz., — Humble walking with God is the great duty and most valuable concernment of believers. “What doth the Lord thy God require of thee?” This is sufficiently asserted in the words of the text itself, which being so emphatically proposed, stand not in need of any farther confirmation by testimony; but because this is a business the Scripture doth much abound in, I shall subjoin a single proof upon each part of the proposition, — that it is both our great duty and most valuable concernment.

    For the former, take that parallel place of Deuteronomy 10:12,13. That which is summarily expressed in my text by walking humbly with God, is here more at large described, with the same preface, “What doth the LORD thy God require of thee?’ It gives us both the root and fruit; the root, in fear and love; the fruit, in walking in God’s ways and keeping his commandments. The perfection of both is, to fear and love the Lord with all the heart and all the soul, and to walk in all his ways. This is the great thing that God requires of professors.

    A place of the same importance, as to the excellency of this concernment of believers, which is the second consideration of it, you have in the answer of the scribe, commended by our Savior, Mark 12:33; as if he should say, in these days, “This is better than all your preaching, all your hearing, all your private meetings, all your conferences, all your fastings.”

    Whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices were then the instituted worship of God, appointed by him, and acceptable to him, as are the things which I now repeated. But all these outward things may be counterfeited, — hypocrites may perform the outward work of them, as they then offered sacrifice; but walking humbly with God cannot: nor are they, in the best of men, of any value, but as they are parts and fruits of humble walking. If in and under the performance of them there be, as there may be, a proud, unmortified heart, — not subdued to the law of the Spirit of life, — not humbled in all things to walk with God; both they and their performance are abhorred of God. So that, though these things ought to be done, yet our great concernment lies, as to the main, in humble walking: “Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel.”

    This is the import of the expression at the beginning of the verse, — “What doth the LORD thy God require of thee?” Thou mayest cast about in thy thoughts to other things, wherein either thyself may be more delighted, or, as thou supposest, may be more acceptable to God. Be not mistaken; this is the great thing that he requires of thee, — to walk humbly with him.

    The grounds of it are: — 1. Every man is most concerned in that which is his great end; the bringing about of that is of most importance to him; the great exercise of his thoughts is, whether he shall succeed as to this or not. The chief end of believers is, the glory of God. This, I say, is so, or ought to be so. For this purpose they were made, redeemed to this purpose, and purchased to be a peculiar people. Now, the Scripture everywhere teaches, that the great means of our glorifying God, is by our humble walking with him, according as it was before described. John 15:8, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” You may have many thoughts that God is glorified by works of miracles, and the like, amazing and dazzling the eyes of the world. Be it so; but in the most eminent manner, it is by your bearing fruit. You know the general rule that our Savior gives his followers, Matthew 5:16. It is from our good works that men give glory to God.

    Which advice is again renewed by the Holy Ghost, 1 Peter 2:12.

    Now, there are sundry ways whereby glory redounds to God by believers’ humble walking with him: — (1.) It gives him the glory of the doctrine of grace. (2.) It gives him the glory of the power of his grace. (3.) It gives him the glory of the law of his grace, — that he is a king obeyed. (4.) It gives him the glory of his justice. (5.) It gives him the glory of his kingdom; — first, in its order and beauty; secondly, in multiplying his subjects: — (1.) It gives God the glory of the doctrine of grace, or of the doctrine of the gospel; which is therefore called “The glorious gospel of God,” because it so brings glory to him. Walking according to this rule, we adorn the doctrine of the gospel in all things. So the apostle tells us, Titus 2:11,12: “This is that which this grace teacheth us; the substance is, to walk humbly with God.” And when men professing it walk answerable to it, it is rendered glorious. When the world shall see that these are the fruits which that doctrine produceth, they must needs magnify it. The pride, folly, and wickedness of professors, hath been the greatest obstacle that ever the gospel received in this world. Nor will it, by any endeavors whatever, be advanced, until there be more conformity unto it in them who make the greatest profession of it. Then is the word glorified, when it hath a free course and progress, 2 Thessalonians 3:1; which it will not have without the humble walking of professors. What eminent gifts are poured out in the days wherein we live! what light is bestowed! what pains in preaching! how is the dispensation of the word multiplied! — yet how little ground is got by it! how few converted! The word hath a free course in preaching, but is not glorified in acceptable obedience. Is it not high time for professors and preachers to look at home, whether the obstacle lie not in ourselves? Do we not fortify the world against the doctrine we profess, by the fruits of it they see in ourselves, and our own ways? Do they not say of us, “These are our new lights and professors; proud, selfish, worldly, unrighteous; negligent of the ordinances themselves profess to magnify; useless in their places and generations; — falling into the very same path which they condemn in others”? Perhaps they may deal falsely and maliciously in these things; but is it not high time for us to examine ourselves, lest, abounding in preaching and talking, we have forgot to walk humbly with God; — and so, not glorifying the gospel, have hindered the free course of its work and efficacy? (2.) Humble walking with God gives him the glory of the power of his grace, — his converting, sanctifying grace. When the world shall see a poor, proud, selfish, rebellious, forward, perhaps dissolute and debauched creature, made gentle, meek, humble, self-denying, sober, useful, — they cannot but inquire after the secret and hidden virtue and power which principled such a change. This is given as the glory of the grace that was to be administered under the gospel, — that it should change the nature of the vilest men; — that it should take away cruelty from the wolf, and violence from the leopard, rage from the lion, and poison from the asp, — making them gentle and useful as the kid and the calf, the cow and the ox, Isaiah 11:6-9. It is not in our nature to humble ourselves to walk with God; we have an opposition to it and all parts of it: no angels or men can persuade us to it. Our carnal mind is enmity to him, not subject to his law, — nor can be. To have our souls humbled, brought to the foot of God, made always ready, willing, obedient, turned in their whole course, changed in all their ways and principles; — this glorifies the grace of God which is dispensed in Christ; by which alone it is that the work is wrought. When men make profession to have received converting and renewing grace from God, and so separate themselves from the men of the world on that account, yet live as they do, or worse, so that their ways and walking are contemptible to all; — it is the greatest reproach imaginable to that work of grace which they make profession of. (3.) This gives God the glory of his law, whereby he requires this obedience at our hands. The obedience of them that are subject to it, sets forth the glory of the wisdom, goodness, and power of the lawgiver in that law. But this may be referred to the first head. (4.) It gives him the glory of his justice, even in this world. There are two sorts of people in the world; the children of God, and others. Temptations lie on both, in reference to each other. The children of God are often disturbed by the outward prosperity of the wicked: the men of the world, at the public claim which they [the children of God] make in the privilege of God’s love and protection: “Why they rather than others, — than we?”

    For the first, we know upon what principle they are to satisfy themselves.

    For the latter, this gives God the glory of his justice, when those whom he owns in this world, who expect a crown of reward from him, do walk humbly with him. So the apostle, 2 Thessalonians 1:4,5, “Your patience and faith in tribulation,” saith he to the saints, “is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of his kingdom.” Their patient and humble walking will be an evidence to convince even the world of the righteous justice of God, in rewarding of them and rejecting of itself. Though eternal life be the gift of God, and chiefly respects the praise of his glorious grace in Jesus Christ, yet God intending to bestow it on us in a way of reward, he will therein visibly glorify his justice also. Now, this gives a foretaste of it unto men, when they shall see those whom he will reward to walk humbly with him; wherein it may appear that his ways are equal, and his judgment righteous; or, as the apostle speaks, “according to truth.” (5.) It gives him the glory of his kingdom, in being an effectual means for the increase of the number of his subjects, and so the propagation of it in the world.

    Now, if on all these, and on sundry other considerations, God be glorified in a humble walking with him, beyond any thing else in this world; this humble walking must certainly be the great and incomparable concernment of all them whose chief end is the advancement of the glory of God. 2. It is our great concernment, because God is greatly delighted in it; it is well-pleasing to him. The humble walking of professors is the great delight of the soul of God, — all that he hath in this world to delight in. If this be our aim, if this be our great interest, — that we may please God, that he may delight in us, and rejoice over us; this is the way whereby it is to be done, Isaiah 57:15, “As I dwell,” saith God, “in the high and holy place, — delight to abide in the heavens, where I manifest my glory; so I dwell with the humble and contrite spirit with delight and joy.”

    Men in an opposition to this frame, be they what they will else in outward profession, are proud men. Nothing takes away pride in the sight of God but this humble walking with him. Now, “the proud he knoweth afar off,” <19D806> Psalm 138:6; he takes notice of them with scorn and indignation; they are to him an abominable thing. It is three times solemnly asserted in the Scriptures, that God resisteth the proud, or scorneth the scorner, and giveth grace to the humble and lowly, Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5. God scorns, abominates, resists, and sets himself against such men; but he gives grace or favor to the lowly, to the humble. This is admirably set out, Isaiah 66:1-3. He deals there with a professing people, — men that in all they did, said, “Let the Lord be glorified,” verse 5. These men, aiming at acceptance with him, and to have him delight in them, pretended principally two things: — (1.) The glory of the temple, — that high and holy house that was built to his own name. Says God, as to this, “Do you think that I have any need of it, or any delight in it, as it is such a goodly and glorious fabric in your eyes? The heaven is my throne,” saith he, “and the earth my footstool; my hands have made all these things, — what need have I of the house you have built, or what delight in it?” (2.) They pleaded his worship and service; the duties they performed therein, their sacrifices and oblations, — praying, hearing. “Alas!” saith God, “all these things I abhor.” And so he compares them to the things which his soul did most hate, and which he has most severely forbid, verse 3. But if God will take delight in none of these things, — if neither temple nor ordinances, worship nor duty of religion, will prevail, — what is it that he delights in? Saith the Lord, “‘To this man will I look;’ I will rejoice over him, and rest in my love.” Let now the proud Pharisee come and boast his righteousness, his duties, his worship, and performances; — the eye of God is on the poor creature behind the door, that is crying, “ God be merciful to me, a sinner;” that is, giving himself up to sovereign mercy, and following after him upon that account. We have got a holiness that puffeth up, that in some hath little other fruit but “Stand from me; I am holier than thou.” God delights not in it. It is a hard thing to excel in humble walking; it [i. e., to excel, distinction] is easier obtained by other ways; but God delights not in them. 3. It is our great concernment, because this makes us alone eminently conformable to Jesus Christ. When the church is raised up to an expectation of his coming, she is bid to look for him as one “meek and lowly,” Zechariah 9:9. And when he calls men to a conformity to his example, this he proposes to them. “Learn of me,” saith he, Matthew 11:29. What shall we learn of him? what doth he propose to our imitation? — that we should work miracles? walk on the sea? open blind eyes? raise the dead? speak as never man spake? “No,” saith he; “this is not your concernment; but ‘learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.’” “Let this mind be in you,” saith the apostle, “that was in Jesus Christ,” Philippians 2:5. What mind was this? He describes it in the next verse, — in his humbling, emptying himself, making himself poor, nothing, that he might do the will of God; coming to his foot, waiting for his command, doing his will cheerfully and readily. “Let,” saith he, “this mind be in you, to be like Christ in this.” I might go over all the contents of humble walking with God, and show the excellency of Jesus Christ in them, and how our conformity to Christ doth principally consist therein; but I must hasten. 4. I might farther evince it, by an induction of the promises that are made unto humble walking with God. But this would be a long work, to insist on the most considerable particulars; so that I shall wholly omit it. 5. It will appear so by comparing it with any thing else wherein men may suppose their interest and concernment to lie: — (1.) Some men (I speak of professors) live as though their great concernments were in heaping up to themselves the things of this world.

    Their hearts are devoured with cares about them, and their thoughts taken up with them. This I shall not so much as compare with humble walking with God; nor make it my business — from the vanity, uncertainty, uselessness as to any eternal end, unsatisfactoriness, attendings of fear, care, and love — to manifest their great incompetency once to come into consideration in this inquiry, as to what is the great concernment of a professor. (2.) There are others whose designs lie after greatness, high places, esteem in the world, — to be somebody in their days; outrunning the providence and call of God to that end; and who make this their business and interest, without farther consideration. But we may say the same of these as of the former, — their way is folly, though they that follow them should praise their sayings. (3.) There are those whose aim is to be learned indeed, and so accounted.

    This they make their work; on this they set up their rest; this takes up their time and strength. If this succeed, all is well; — they have their hearts’ desire. The beauty of this also is fully sullied, and the vanity of it hath been discovered by many, and the shame of its nakedness made to appear. Is this thy great concernment? Dost thou waste thy time and spirit about it? Is this the bosom of thy rest? Hast thou here laid up thy glory? and dost thou aim at this as thy end? Poor creature! thou snuffest up the empty wind. All this while God may abhor thee; and thy learning will never swell to such a greatness as that the door of hell will not be wide enough to receive thee. The vanity, vexation, dreadfulness, emptiness, of this concernment may be easily discovered.

    Nay, put all these together; suppose thou hadst high places, learning, and an answerable repute and credit to them all, — that thou hadst on these heads all that thy heart can desire, and more than ever man had before thee, — would it all give rest to thy soul? Canst thou not look through it all?

    Why, then, dost thou spend thy strength for a thing of nought? Why is the flower of thy spirit laid out about these things, that indeed are not, or are as a thing of nought? But, — (4.) Some men’s great concernment seems to lie in a profession of religion.

    So they may attain to that, and therewithal a name to live, it doth suffice.

    Whether this humble walking with God, in any of the causes or effects of it, be found on them, they are not solicitous. That men may not rest here, give me leave to offer two or three considerations: — [1.] All that they do may be counterfeited; and so, wherein is its excellency? It may be done by him who hath not the least of God or Christ in him. Hypocrites may hear much, pray often, speak of God and the things of God, perform all duties of religion, excel in gifts and parts, be forward in profession to a great repute, — and yet be hypocrites still. [2.] All this hath been done by them who have perished. Many who are now in hell have done all these things, and went down to the pit with the burden of their profession and duties at their back. I could reckon up instances. And let me but try this foundation, which safely I may, — namely, that whatever excellencies have been found in hypocrites and perishing souls, may all meet in one, and yet he be an hypocrite still, — and I shall merit easily the best [repute] of mere profession. Take the zeal of Jehu, the hearing of Herod, the praying of the Pharisee, the fasting of the Jews, Isaiah 58, the joy of the stony ground, and you may dress up a perishing soul to a proportion of profession beyond what the most of us attain unto. [3.] It is useless in the world. I shall freely say, Take away this humble walking, and all profession is a thing of nought; it doth no good at all in the world. Is it for the advantage of mankind, that a man should have credit and repute in religion, and cannot give an instance scarce that any man, high or low, rich or poor, hath been the better for him in the world? that they who should do good to all, do good to none at all? Is this being fruitful in the gospel? is this studying the good works that are profitable to all? — is this doing good to mankind in the places wherein we are? [4.] This is the readiest way for a man to deceive himself to eternity. He that would go down to the pit in peace, let him keep up duties in his family and closet; let him hear as often as he can have an opportunity; let him speak often of good things; let him leave the company of profane and ignorant men, until he have obtained a great repute for religion; let him preach and labor to make others better than he is himself; and, in the meantime, neglect to humble his heart to walk with God in a manifest holiness and usefulness, and he will not fail of his end.

    Let me not be mistaken. God forbid I should countenance profane men in their contempt of the ways of God, and the reproaches of hypocrisy that they are ready to cast upon the best of the saints of God; I say, God forbid. Nor let me be interpreted in the least to plead for men who satisfy themselves in a righteousness without these things, — whom I look upon as men ignorant wholly of the mystery of God and the Father, and of Christ, and evidently uninterested in the covenant of grace. No; this is all I aim at, — I would not have professors flatter themselves in a vain, empty profession, when the fruits they bear of envy, hatred, pride, folly, proclaim that their hearts are not humbled to walk with God. Will, then, these, or any of these things, stand in competition with that which we propose for the great concernment of souls? Doubtless, in comparison of it, they are all a thing of nought.

    Use 1. Is humble walking with God our great concernment? Let us make it our business and our work to bring our hearts unto it all our days. What do we, running out of the way all the day long, spending our strength for that which is not bread? My business is not, — whether I be rich or poor, wise or unwise, learned or ignorant; whether I shall live or die; whether there shall be peace or war with the nations; whether my house shall flourish or wither; whether my gifts be many or few, great or small, whether I have good repute or bad repute in the world; — but only, whether I walk humbly with God or not. As it is with me in this respect, so is my present condition, — so will be my future acceptation. I have tired myself about many things; — this one is necessary. What doth the Lord my God require of me, but this? What doth Christ call for, but this? What doth the whole sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost tend to, but that I may walk humbly with God?

    Give me leave to name a motive or two unto it: — (1.) In humble walking with God we shall find peace in every condition. “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” “Let war come on the nation, — I shall have peace. Let a consumption come on my estate, — I shall have peace. Let nearest relations be taken away, — I shall have peace.” The soul that sets up its rest, and makes it its great concernment to walk humbly with God, is brought to his foot, bent to his will, is ready for his disposal; and whatever God does in the world with himself, his, or others, he hath peace and quietness in it. His own will is gone, the will of God is his choice; his great concernment lies not in any thing that can perish, that can be lost. (2.) We shall also find comfort. Mephibosheth cried, “Let all go, seeing the king is come in peace; which was all that I desired.” When a man shall see, in the worst state and condition, that his great concernment is safe; that though all is lost, God, who is all, is not lost; that this can never be taken from him; — it fills his heart with delight. Is he in prosperity? he fears not the loss of that which he most values. Is he in adversity? yet he can walk with God still; which is his all. He can therefore glory in tribulations, rejoice in afflictions; — his treasure, his concernment is secure. (3.) This alone will make us useful in our generation, and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On this depends all the glory we bring to God, and all the good we do to men.

    Let us, then, make this our business, — aim at it; and, in the strength of Christ, we shall have peace in it.

    Use 2. To humble us all, that we have spent so much of our time and days in and about things wherein we are indeed so little concerned, let us a little bring our ways and affairs to the balance of the sanctuary. One hath risen early, gone to bed late, and worn out himself to increase knowledge and learning. What is it, when we have done? — an engine in the hand of Satan to puff us up with pride and folly; a diversion from the knowledge of Christ, full of vexation of spirit. How many other things have entangled us! What weight have we laid upon them! How have we put a value upon that profession, which hath been a shame rather than an honor to the gospel! The Lord forgive us our folly, in spending ourselves in and about things wherein we are so little concerned; and help us, that our mistake be not at last found out to be fatal! Could we seriously take a view of our ways and time, and see how much of it we have spent in and about things that indeed will, in the issue, do us no good; it would certainly fill our souls with a great deal of shame and confusion.

    Use 3. As to them who seem not at all to be concerned in this business, who never made it their design in their lives to walk with God in the way that hath been spoken to; let me tell such, — (1.) It is more than probable that they may be apt to take advantage at what hath been spoken against empty professors and profession; to triumph in their thoughts against them all, and say, “Such, indeed, they are, and no better.” If so, it is possible that this discourse, through the just judgment of God, may tend to their farther hardening in their sin, — pride and folly. What is the Lord’s intendment towards you, I know not. It is my duty to warn you of it. Some that are professors may fail of the mark of our high calling; but you that are none, can never attain it: but take heed that this be not the issue of this dispensation of the word towards you. I had rather never speak more in this place, than speak any one word with an intention to give you an advantage against professors. If you take it, it will be your ruin. (2.) Consider this, — if the righteous be scarcely saved, where will you, and such as you, bitter scoffers, neglecters of ordinances, haters of the power of godliness and the purity of religion, appear? You whose pride and folly, or whose formality, lukewarmness, and superstition, whose company and society, whose ways and daily walking, proclaim you to be wholly strangers to this concernment of believers, — I say, what will be your lot and portion? (3.) Consider how useless you are in this world. You bring no glory to God, but dishonor; and whereas by any outward acts you may suppose you do good sometimes to men, know that you do more hurt every day than you do good all your lives. How many are by you ensnared into hell! how many hardened! how many destroyed, by living in formality or profaneness!

    SERMON 10.

    PROVIDENTIAL CHANGES, AN ARGUMENT FOR UNIVERSAL HOLINESS. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” — 2 PETER 3:11.

    THAT this second epistle was written unto the same persons to whom the former was directed, the apostle himself informs us, 2 Peter 3:1.

    Who they were to whom the first was directed, he declares fully, <600101> Peter 1:1, 2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia,” etc. “Strangers” are taken two ways: First, In a large, general, and spiritual sense. So all believers are said to be strangers and pilgrims in this world, because they are not of the world, but they look for another country, another city, another house, whose framer and builder is God. Secondly, In a proper, natural sense, for those who abide or dwell in a land that is not their own, wherein they have not right of inheritance with the natives and citizens of it. In this sense the patriarchs were strangers in the land of Canaan before it came to be the possession of their posterity; and the children of Israel were strangers four hundred years in the land of Egypt.

    Now, though the persons to whom the apostle wrote were strangers in the first sense, — pilgrims, whose conversation and country was in heaven, — yet they were no more so than all other believers in the world; so that there was no just cause of saluting them peculiarly under that style and title, were there not some other special reason of that appellation. They were, therefore, also strangers in the latter sense; — persons who had no inheritance in the place of their abode, that were not the free and privileged natives of the country where they dwelt and inhabited; that is, they were Jews scattered abroad in those parts of the world.

    The people of Israel in those days were under various distributions and appellations. First, They were the natives of Jerusalem, and the parts adjacent; and these were in the gospel peculiarly called Jews. You have it often mentioned, that in our Savior’s discourse with them, the Jews answered so and so; that is, the natives of Jerusalem, and places adjoining.

    Secondly, Those who inhabited the seacoasts of the country, whom the others much despised, and called them, from the place of their habitation, as if they had been men of another nation, “Galileans.” Thirdly, Those who lived in several dispersions, up and down the world, among other nations. Of these there were two chief sorts: — 1. Those who lived in some parts of Europe, in Asia the less, also at Alexandria, and other Greek colonies. These are in the Scripture sometimes called Greeks, Acts 17; and elsewhere commonly termed Hellenists; because they used the Greek language, and the Greek Bible then in use. 2. Those who lived in the greater Asia, in and about Babylon; as also in the countries here enumerated by the apostle: — the Jews converted to the faith, that lived scatteredly up and down in those parts of Asia.

    Peter being in a special manner designed by the Holy Ghost the apostle of the Circumcision, and being now at Babylon in the discharge of his apostolical office and duty, 1 Peter 5:13; and being now nigh unto death, which he also knew, 2 Peter 1:14; and not perhaps having time to pass through and personally visit these scattered believers, — he wrote unto them these two epistles, partly about the main and important truths of the gospel, and partly about their own particular and immediate concernment as to the temptations and afflictions wherewith they were exercised.

    It is evident, front sundry places in the New Testament, what extreme oppositions the believing Jews met withal, all the world over, from their own countrymen, with and among whom they lived. They in the meantime, no doubt, warned them of the wrath of Christ against them for their cursed unbelief and persecutions; particularly letting them know, that Christ would come in vengeance ere long, according as he had threatened, to the ruin of his enemies. And because the persecuting Jews, all the world over, upbraided the believers with the temple and the holy city, Jerusalem, their worship and service instituted of God, which they had defiled; they were given to know that even all these things also should be destroyed, for their rejection of the Son of God. After some continuance of time, the threatening denounced being not yet accomplished, — as is the manner of profane persons and hardened sinners, Ecclesiastes 8:11, — they began to mock and scoff, as if they were all but the vain pretences, or loose, causeless fears of the Christians. That this was the state with them, or shortly would be, the apostle declares in this chapter, verses 3, 4. Because things continued in the old state, without alteration, and judgment was not speedily executed, they scoffed at all the threats about the coming of the Lord that had been denounced against them.

    Hereupon the apostle undertakes these three things:— First. He convinces the scoffers of folly by an instance of the like presumption in persons not unlike them, and the dealings of God in a case of the same nature.

    Secondly. He instructs believers in the truth of what they had before been told concerning the coming of Christ, and the destruction of ungodly men.

    Thirdly. He informs them in the due use and improvement that ought practically to be made of the certainty of this threatening of the coming’ of Christ.

    For the first, he minds them, as I said, of the old world, verses 5, 6. Before the destruction of that world, God sent “Noah, a preacher of righteousness,” who, both in word and deed, effectually admonished men of the judgment of God that was ready to come upon them; but they scoffed at his preaching and practice, in building the ark, and persisted in their security. “Now,” saith he, “this they willingly are ignorant of;” — it is through the obstinacy and stubbornness of their will, they do not consider it; for otherwise they had the Scripture, and knew the story.

    There is no ignorance like that where men’s obstinacy and hardness in sin keeps them from a due improvement of what they ought to have improved to its proper purpose. They are to this day willingly ignorant of the flood, who live securely in sin under the denunciation of the judgments of God against sin.

    I shall only observe, by the way, not to look into the difficulties of these verses, that I be not too long detained from my principal intendment, — that the apostle makes a distribution of the world into heaven and earth, and saith, they “were destroyed with water, and perished.” We know that neither the fabric or substance of the one or other was destroyed, but only men that lived on the earth; and the apostle tells us, verse 5, of the heavens and earth that were then, and were destroyed by water, distinct from the heavens and the earth that were now, and were to be consumed by fire: and yet, as to the visible fabric of heaven and earth, they were the same both before the flood and in the apostle’s time, and continue so to this day; when yet it is certain that the heavens and earth, whereof he speaks were to be destroyed and consumed by fire in that generation. We must, then, for the clearing our foundation, a little consider what the apostle intends by “the heavens and the earth” in these two places: — 1. It is certain, that what the apostle intends by the “world,” with its heavens and earth, verses 5, 6, which was destroyed by water; the same, or somewhat of that kind, he intends by “the heavens and the earth” that were to be consumed and destroyed by fire, verse 7. Otherwise there would be no coherence in the apostle’s discourse, nor any kind of argument, but a mere fallacy of words. 2. It is certain, that by the flood, the world, or the fabric of heaven and earth, was not destroyed, but only the inhabitants of the world; and therefore the destruction intimated to succeed by fire, is not of the substance of the heavens and the earth, which shall not be consumed until the last day, but of persons or men living in the world. 3. Then we must consider in what sense men living in the world are said to be the “world,” and the “heavens and earth” of it. I shall only insist on one instance to this purpose, among many that may be produced, Isaiah 51:15,16. The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea,” verse 15, and gave the law, verse 16, and said to Zion, “Thou art my people;” — that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, — made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were.

    This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isaiah 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. The like also is affirmed of the Roman empire, Revelation 6:14; which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Savior Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident, then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which then was destroyed by the flood. 4. On this foundation I affirm, that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text: — (1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffers and those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews; — some of them believing, others opposing the faith. Now, there was no particular concernment of that generation in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation; and, besides, an ample testimony, both to the one and the other, of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ; — which was the thing in question between them. (2.) Peter tells them, that, after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of, verse 13, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,” etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isaiah 65:17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?” Saith Peter, “It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with Isaiah 66:21,22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed, Hebrews 12:26-28.

    This being, then, the design of the place, I shall not insist longer on the context, but briefly open the words proposed, and fix upon the truth contained in them: — First, There is the foundation of the apostle’s inference and exhortation, Tou>twn ou=n pa>ntwn luome>nwn . — “Seeing that I have evinced that all these things, however precious they seem, or what value soever any put upon them, shall be dissolved, — that is, destroyed; and that in that dreadful and fearful manner before mentioned, — in a way of judgment, wrath, and vengeance, by fire and sword; — let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming, — he will come, he will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God himself planted, the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, — the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ, — shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed. This, we know, shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.”

    There is no outward constitution nor frame of things, in governments or nations, but it is subject to a dissolution, and may receive it, and that in a way of judgment. If any might plead exemption, that , on many accounts, of which the apostle was discoursing in prophetical terms (for it was not yet time to speak it openly to all) might interpose for its share. But that also, though of God’s creation, yet standing in the way of, and in opposition to, the interest of Christ, — that also shall be dissolved. And certainly there is no greater folly in the world, than for a mere human creation, a mere product of the sayings and the wisdom of men, to pretend for eternity, or any duration beyond the coincidence of its usefulness to the great ends that Christ hath to accomplish in the world. But this is not my business.

    Secondly, There is the apostle’s inference from, or exhortation on this supposition, expressed emphatically by way of interrogation: “What manner?” Now, herein two things are included: — 1. The evidence of the inference. It follows necessarily, unavoidably; every one must needs make this conclusion, — so that he leaves it to themselves to determine whose concernment it is. So the apostle Paul, in another case, Hebrews 10:29, leaves it to themselves to determine, as a case clear, plain, unquestionable. So here: and this is a most effectual way of insinuating an inference and conclusion, when the parties themselves who are pressed with it are made judges of its necessary consequence. “Judge ye whether holiness becomes not all them who are like to be concerned in such providential alterations.” 2. The extent and perfection of the duty, in its universality and compass, is, in this manner of expression, strongly insinuated: “What manner of persons?” — that is, “Such as, indeed, it is not easy to express what attainments in this kind we ought, on this account, to press after.” This apostle useth the same kind of expression to set forth the greatness and height of what he would deliver to the thoughts of men, 1 Peter 4:17,18. There is in this kind of expression somewhat more insinuated to the mind than we know how to clothe with any words whatever.

    Two things seem principally to be intended: — (1.) That even the saints themselves, in such cases, ought to be other manner of men than usually they are, under ordinary dispensations of providence. Mistake not: our old measures will not serve; another manner of progress them as yet we have made is expected from us; it is not ordinary holiness and godliness that is expected from us under extraordinary calls from God and Christ. (2.) That our endeavors to be godly and holy ought to be boundless and endless. No less is included in this apostrophe, “What manner of persons ought we to be!” — not resting in what we have attained, nor what may seem sufficient to keep our heads above water, — but an endless and boundless pressing on. Alas! it will hardly enter into our hearts to think what manner of men we ought to be.

    Thirdly. For the matter of this exhortation and inference from the former principle, couched in this interrogation, — it is, “All holy conversation and godliness.” The word “all” is not in the original; but both the other words are in the plural number, — “In holy conversations and godlinesses.” Now, these expressions being not proper in our language, the translators have supplied the emphasis and force of them by the addition of the word “all.” And there is no just cause of quarrel with them for so doing; — only, in the original the words are more weighty and emphatical than that supply doth readily reach unto. That which is principally intended is, that all the concernments whatever of holiness and godliness are couched in the words. So that two things are in them: — 1. The two general parts of that universal duty that we owe to God; and they are these: — (1.) Holiness of conversation; which is comprehensive of all holiness and righteousness, both in principle and practice; for no conversation is holy but what comes from a holy heart, and is carried on to that great and holy end, — the glory of God. (2.) Godliness, or the worship of God according to the appointment and institution of Christ. This is the proper importance of eujse>beia as distinct from holiness of conversation, — a due adherence to, and observance of, the instituted worship of God. 2. The extent and compass of them both, and their degrees. It is not in this or that part of conversation, — to be holy in one thing and loose in another, — to be holy in one capacity, and vain in another, — to be godly as a private person, and ungodly or selfish as a magistrate; nor is it to observe one part of worship, and despise another: but in all concernments of conversation, in all parts of worship, doth this duty lie, — “ In all holy conversation and godliness.”

    Fourthly. There is the relation that we ought to bear to the universality of holiness and godliness. We ought to be “in” them; — dei uJpa>rcein uJma~v , — “ You ought to be, to exist, in them.” In these things is your life.

    They are not to be followed now and then, as your leisure will serve; but in all that you do you ought to be still in these, as in the clothes that you wear, — the garment that is on you. Be what you will, or where you will, or employed as you are called, yet still you ought to be in holiness and godliness. And what persons you ought to be in them, or how, hath been declared.

    Observation. Great providential alterations or destructions made upon the account of Christ and his church, call for eminency of universal holiness and godliness in all believers.

    I esteem it my duty to speak somewhat to this proposition, as containing the direction of our great duty in this day. That we have had many providential alterations amongst us, is known to all. What light I have about their relation to Christ and his church, I shall make bold to communicate when I come to the application of the truth in hand, and thereby make way for the pressing of the duty of the text on ourselves in particular. For the present, I confess I am ashamed and astonished at the deportment of many who are professors in these days. They see and talk of the alterations and dissolutions that God is pleased to make; — but what is the improvement that is made hereof? Many take advantage to vent their lusts and passions, — some one way, some another: one rejoicing at the ruin of another, as if that were his duty; others repining at the exaltation of another, as if that were their duty; some contriving one form of outward constitutions, others for another. (I speak of private persons.) But who almost looks to that which is the special call of God under such dispensations? Let us, then, I pray you, take a little view of our duty, and the grounds of it; and who knows but that the Lord may by it enlarge and fix our hearts to the love and prosecution of it?

    The two great providential alterations and dissolutions that have been and shall be made on the account of Christ and his church, to which all lesser are either consequent or do lie in a tendency, are that, first, of the Judaical church and state, whereof I have spoken; and, secondly, that of the Antichristian state and worship, whereunto all the shakings of these nations seem to tend, in the wisdom of God, although we are not able to discern their influence thereunto: — 1. Now, for the first of these, we may consider it in its coming as foretold, and as accomplished: — (1.) As it was foretold and threatened by Christ. How were believers cautioned to be ready for it with eminent holiness and watchfulness therein! So Luke 21:34,36, “Take heed to yourselves; watch, therefore.” Why so? “Christ is coming,” verse 27. When? “Why, in this generation,” verse 32. What to do? “Why, to dissolve heaven and earth,” verse 25; to “ dissolve the Jewish church and state. Watch, therefore; give all diligence.” So also Matthew 24:42. “Watch, therefore.” Oh! on this account what manner of persons ought we to be! (2.) As accomplished. See what use the apostle upon it directs believers unto, Hebrews 12:26-28. This is the use, this the call of Providence, in all these mighty alterations: “Let us have grace,” — strive for it. The nature of the works of God call aloud for an eminent frame of holiness, and close adherence unto God in his worship. I could show how both the duties of my text are here expressed; but I need not. 2. So is it also in reference to that other great work of God in the world relating to Christ and his church, which is the ocean of providence whereinto all the rivulets of lesser alterations do run; I mean, the destruction of Antichrist and his Babylonish kingdom.

    What a frame shall be in the saints on the close of that work, the Holy Ghost declares at large, Revelation 19, — all rejoicing and spiritual communion with God! and whilst the work is on the wheel, those whom God will own in it he sets his mark on as holy, called, and chosen.

    The grounds hereof are, — 1. Because in every such providential alteration or dissolution of things on the account of Christ and his church, there is a peculiar coming of Christ himself. He cometh into the world for the work he hath to do; he cometh among his own to fulfill his pleasure among them. Hence such works are called “his coming;” and “the coming of his day.” Thus James exhorts these very Jews to whom Peter here writes, with reference to the same things, James 5:7-9, “Be patient unto the coming of the Lord.” But how could that generation extend their patience to the day of judgment? “Nay,” saith he, “that is not the work I design, but his coming to take vengeance on his stubborn adversaries;” which he saith, verse 8, “‘draweth nigh,’ is even, at hand; yea, Christ, ‘the judge, standeth before the door,’” verse 9, “ready to enter;” — which also he did within a few years. So upon or in the destruction of Jerusalem (the same work), Luke 21:27, the Son of man is said to “come in a cloud, with power and great glory;” — and they that escape in that desolation are said to “stand before the Son of man,” verse 36. So, in the ruin and destruction of the Roman empire, on the account of their persecution, it is said that “the day of the wrath of the Lamb was come,” Revelation 6:16,17.

    In all such dispensations, then, there is a peculiar coming of Christ, a peculiar drawing nigh of him, to deal with all sorts of persons in a special manner. Though he be oftentimes encompassed with many clouds, and with much darkness, yet he is present, exerting his authority, power, wisdom, righteousness, and grace in an eminent manner. It is with him as it is with God in other works, Job 9:11; though all “see him not, perceive him not,” yet “he goeth by,” and “passeth on.” The lusts, prejudices, corruptions, selfishness, injustice, oppressions of men, — the darkness, unbelief, fears, carnal wisdom, of the saints themselves, — the depth, compass, height, unsearchableness, of the path of the wisdom of Christ himself, — keep us in the dark as to his presence in this and that particular; but yet in such dispensations he is come, and passeth on towards the accomplishment of his work, though we perceive it not. Now, “what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” to meet this great King of saints at his coming? What preparation ought there to be! what solemnity of universal holiness for his entertainment! He is in such dispensations continually nigh us, whether we take notice of it or not.

    I say, then, if there be a special coming and a special meeting of Christ in such dispensations, I suppose I may leave the inference unto all holy conversation and godliness, with the apostle, to the breasts and judgment of them that are concerned. Are we in this work to meet the Lord Jesus?

    What manner of persons ought we to be!

    It may be observed, that Christ puts very great weight on the present frame and course which he finds men in at his coming. Matthew 24:46, “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”

    He annexes blessedness to the frame and course he finds men in at his coming; and [commends him that] waiteth for that hour, verse 42. Be not asleep when the thief comes to break up the house; take heed that that day take you not unprovided, — that you be not overtaken in the midst of the cares of this world. And he complains that when he comes he shall not “find faith on the earth,” Luke 18:8.

    But you will say, “Is this enough, then, that we look to be found in all godliness and holiness at his coming? May we indulge ourselves and our lusts at other seasons, so we be sure to be then provided? Is not the command of duty equal and universal as to all times and seasons? or is it pointed only unto such dispensations?”

    Ans. 1. The inference for preparedness for the coming of Christ is to universal holiness, at all seasons; and that upon the account of the uncertainty of it. This our Savior presseth again and again. “You know not at all when it will be, nor how, — no, not in the least; you believe it not when it is come: ‘I shall not find faith of it on the earth,’” saith Christ. “Men will not take notice of it, nor acknowledge it, nor own it, as my coming; wherefore you have no way to be prepared for it, but by universal, perpetual watchfulness.”

    Ans. 2. The exhortation lies not unto holiness and godliness in general, but as to the degrees of it, — what manner of men we ought to be in them. It is not a godly conversation at an ordinary rate, that may find acceptance at another time, which will suffice to meet Christ at his coming; and that on sundry accounts, afterward to be mentioned. I shall at present only treat of some grounds of it from his own person who cometh, and whom we are to meet; and speak of the work he hath to do in his coming afterward: — (1.) On the account of his personal excellencies and holiness. Consider how he is described when he comes to walk among his churches, Revelation 1:13-17: He is full of beauty and glory. When Isaiah saw him, Isaiah 6, he cries out, “I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips;” because of the dread and terror of his holiness. And Peter also, “Depart from me, Lord; for I am a sinful man.” They were not able to bear the thoughts of his glorious holiness so nigh to them. When the holy God of old was to come down among the people at the giving of the law, all the people were to sanctify themselves, and to wash their clothes, Exodus 19:10,11. And order was still taken that no unclean thing might be in the camp, because of the presence of the holy God, though but in a type and resemblance. Whether we observe it or no, if there be any dissolving dispensations among us that relate to Christ or his church, there is a Holy One in the midst of us; or there will be, when any such dispensations shall pass over us. And to think to have to do in the works and ways wherein he hath to do, with hearts unlike and unsuitable unto him, to act our lusts and follies immediately under the eye of his holiness, to set our defiled hands to his pure and holy hands, — his soul will abhor it. This is a boldness which he will revenge, — that we should bring our neglect and lusts into his holy presence. Christ is in every corner, — in every turn of our affairs; and it is incumbent on us to consider how it is for us to behave ourselves in his special presence. (2.) Upon the account of his authority. He who thus comes is the King of saints, and he comes ,as the King of saints, — he comes to exert his regal power and authority, to give a testimony to it in the world. So Isaiah 63:1-4: He shows his glory, his might, his kingdom, and authority in this work. So Revelation 19:12: When he comes to destroy his antichristian enemies, he hath many crowns on his head; he exerciseth his regal power and authority. What is the duty of saints when their King is so nigh them, when he is come into the midst of them, — whilst he puts forth the greatness of his power round about them? Will it become them to be neglective of him? to be each man in the pursuit of his own lusts, and ways, and works, in the presence of their King? Holiness and godliness hath a due regard to the authority of Christ. Wherever there is a due subjection of soul unto Christ, all holy conversation and godliness will ensue. To be neglective in or of any part of holy conversation, — to be careless of any part of worship, under the special eye of the Lord of our lives and our worship, is not to be borne with. (3.) On the account of the present care, kindness, and love, that he is exerting in all such dispensations towards his. It is a time of care and love.

    The way of his working out the designs of his heart are, indeed, ofttimes dark and hid, and his own do not see so clearly how things lie in a tendency to the event and fruits of love; but so it is; — Christ comes not but with a design of love and pity towards his, — with his heart full of compassion for them. Now, what this calls for at their hands, seeing their holiness and worship is all that his soul is delighted in, is evident unto all.

    Put, now, these things together: — Every such dispensation is a coming of Christ; — the coming of Christ, as it is trying in itself, so it is the coming of the holy King of saints in his love and pity towards them; yea, be the dispensation what it will, never so sharp and severe unto them, yet it is in love and compassion to their souls; — their work is to meet this their holy King in the works of his love and power: and “what manner of persons ought we to be?”

    SERMON 11. 2. THE second ground is, because every such day is a lesser day of judgment, — a forerunner, pledge, and evidence of that great day of the Lord which is to come. God’s great and signal judgments in the world are to be looked on as pledges of the final judgment at the last day. So Jude tells us that, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, “God set forth an example of them that shall suffer the vengeance of eternal fire,” verse 7.

    And Peter calls the time of the destruction of the Judaical church and state expressly “the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men,” 2 Peter 3:7. So to the full is the destruction of the Roman persecuting state expressed, Daniel 7:9,10,14. The solemnity of the work and whole procedure bespeaks a great day, a day of judgment; it is so, and a representation of that which is to come. And the like also is set forth, Daniel 12:1-3; and the same description have we of the like day of Christ, Malachi 4:1.

    Every such day, I say, then, is a lesser day of judgment, wherein much judging-work is accomplished. This Daniel tells us, Daniel 12:10, — it is a trying, a purifying, a teaching, a hardening, a bleeding time. There are great works that are done upon the souls and consciences of men by Christ in such a day, as well as outwardly; and all in a way of judgment. To let pass, then, the outward, visible effects of his wrath and power, of his wisdom and righteousness, I shall consider some few of the more secret judiciary acts that the Lord Christ usually exerts in such a day: — (1.) He pleads with all flesh that are concerned in the alterations and desolations he makes. God puts this as one act of his in judgment, that he pleads with men, Ezekiel 38:22. In his judgments he pleads with and against men about their sins. And in that great representation of the day of judgment, Joel 3:2, God is said to “plead with all nations.” Now, I say, in general, Christ in such a day pleads with all men concerned. His providences have a voice, and that a contending, pleading voice. Unless men are utterly blinded and hardened (as, indeed, the most are), they cannot but hear him, in his great and mighty works, contending with them about their sin and unbelief, — representing to them his righteous judgment to come. Though men now cast off things, on this account and that; and, being filled with their lusts, passions, fury, revenge, or ease, sensuality and worldliness, think these things concern them not; yet the day will come wherein they shall know, that the Lord Christ in his mighty works was pleading even with them also, and that in a way of judgment about their sin and folly. (2.) In such a day Christ judges and determines the profession of many a false hypocrite, who hath deceived the church and people of God. One great work of the last day shall be the discovery of hypocrites: it is thence principally called, “The day wherein the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed.” Many a fair pretender in the world shall be found to have been an enemy of Christ and the gospel. So is the day of Christ’s coming in the flesh represented, Malachi 3:1,2. All were high in their professions of desiring his coming, and of delighting in him; but when he came, what was the issue? How few endured the trial! The false, hypocritical, selfish hearts, who had treasured up the hopes of great things to themselves, being discovered by the trials and temptations wherewith his coming was attended, themselves were utterly cast off from their profession into open enmity to God and his Son. So dealeth the Lord Christ in and under the dispensations whereof we speak, to this day. What by the fury of their own lusts, what by the temptations which lie in their way, what by the advantages they meet withal for the exercise of their vile affections, their hypocrisy is discovered, and themselves cast out of their profession.

    Notable effects of this acting of Christ as a judge have we seen in the dispensation that is passing over us. Some he hath judged by the sentence and judgment of his churches. How many false wretches have been cast out of churches, that have withered under their judgment, and returned no more! Some who have not walked in the order of his churches by him appointed, he hath judged by the world itself; — suffered their sin and folly so to break forth, that the world itself hath cast them out from the number of professors, and owned them as its own. Some have been judged as to their profession of him by strong temptations; that is, their lusts, ambition, selfishness, which have carried them into ways and compliances wherein they have been compelled to desert, and almost renounce all their former profession. Some have been tried and judged by the errors and abominations of the times, and turned aside from the simplicity of the gospel. Now, though there have been, and are, these and many other ways and means of casting men out of and from the profession that they have made, some good, some bad, some in themselves of a mere passive nature, and indifferent; yet they all proceed from Christ in a judiciary way, — they are acts of his in his day of judgment; — and O that England might not yet be farther filled with instances and examples of this kind! (3.) He doth exercise his judgment in blinding and hardening of wicked men; yet they shall not see nor perceive what he is doing, but shall have advantages to do wickedly, and prejudices to blind them therein. So expressly, Daniel 12:10, “They shall do wickedly, and they shall not understand.” There are two parts of his judgment in such a day, about and against them. First, His giving of them up to their own lusts, to do wickedly: “They shall do wickedly.” Wicked they are, and they shall act accordingly; they shall do it in such a day to the purpose, Revelation 16:10,11. Christ will providentially suffer occasions, advantages, provocations, to lie before them, so that they shall do wickedly to the purpose; they shall have daily fresh occasions to curse, repine, blaspheme, oppose Christ and his interest, or to seek themselves, and the satisfaction of their lusts, which at other times they shall not be able to do. Be they in what condition they will, high or low, exalted or depressed, in power or out of it, they shall in such a season do wickedly, according as their advantages and provocations are. And for men to be given up to their own hearts’ lusts, is the next door to the judgment of the great day, when men shall be given up to sin, self, and Satan, unto eternity. Secondly, He blinds them: “None of the wicked shall understand.” Strange! Who seems so wise and so crafty as they? Who do understand the times, and their advantages in them, more than they? Who more prudent for the management of affairs than they? But the truth is, none of them, no, not one of them, shall, or do, or can understand; that is, they understand not the work of Christ, the business and design that he hath in hand, nor what is the true and proper interest of them who are concerned in these dispensations. There are many ways whereby Christ exerts this blinding and infatuating efficacy of his providence towards wicked men in such a day of judgment, that they shall not understand or know that he is at all concerned in the works that are in the world.

    Sometimes the very things that he doth are such, and so contrary to the prejudicate opinions of men, that they can never understand that they are things which he will own. How many have been kept from understanding any thing of Christ in the world, in the days wherein we live, from their inveterate prejudices on the account of old superstitions, and forms of government which have been removed! They will rather die than believe that Christ hath any hand in these things: “They shall not understand.”

    Sometimes the persons by whom he doth them, keep them from understanding. “Shall these men save us?’ — these whom they look upon as the offscouring of the earth. “Sure, if Christ had any work to do in the world, he would make use of other manner of instruments for the accomplishing of them.” They are no less offended with the persons that do them than the things that are done. Christ worketh all this, that they should not understand.

    Sometimes the manner of doing what he hath to do [keeps them from understanding,] — the darkness wherewith it is attended, the strange process that he makes, — sometimes weak, sometimes foolish, sometimes disorderly to the reasoning of flesh and blood, though all beautiful in itself, and in relation to him.

    And sometimes Christ sends a spirit of giddiness into the midst of them, that they shall err and wander in all their ways, and not see nor discern the things that are before them: “None of the wicked shall understand.”

    By these, and many such ways as these, doth Christ in these days of his coming exercise judgment on ungodly men; — not to mention the outward destruction, desolation, and perdition, which usually in such seasons he brings upon them. (4.) He exerciseth judgment at such a time even among the saints themselves. Psalm 82:1: He is judging in the great congregation. So Psalm 1:4-8: All this solemnity of proceeding is for the judgment of his own people; and his judging of them is in a plea about their obedience and failing therein. The sum of this his dealing with them is expressed, Revelation 3:9.

    We may, then, consider, — [1.] What it is that Christ pleadeth with his own people about his coming; [2.] What are the ways and means whereby he doth so: — [1.] There are sundry things on the account whereof Christ at his coming pleads with his saints. One or more of them: — 1st. On the account of some secret lusts that have defiled them, and which they have either indulged themselves in, or not so vigorously opposed as their loyalty unto Christ required. Times of peace and outward prosperity are usually times wherein, through manifold temptations, even the saints themselves are apt to sully their consciences, and to have breaches made upon their integrity; sometimes in things they do know, and sometimes in things they do not know, nor take notice of. Instances may be given in abundance of such things. In this condition Christ deals with them, as Isaiah 4:4. There is blood and filth upon them; the spirit of judgment and burning must be set at work; which, as it principally aims at the internal efficacy of the Spirit in the cleansing of sin, so it respects a time of providential alterations and trials, wherein that work is effectually exerted.

    Christ in these dispensations speaks secretly to the consciences of his saints, and minds them of this and that folly and miscarriage, and deals with them about it. He asks them if things be not so and so with them? — if they have not thus and thus defiled themselves? — whether these hearts are fit to converse with him? and leaves not until their dross and tin be consumed. 2dly. On the account of some way or ways wherein they may have been unadvisedly, or through temptation, or want of seeking counsel aright from him, engaged. They may be got, in their employments, in their callings, in the work that lies before them in this world, into ways and paths wherein Christ is not pleased they should make any progress. What through leaning to their own understandings, what through an inclination of saying “A confederacy” to them to whom the people say “A confederacy,” what through the common mistakes in the days wherein they live, even the saints may be engaged in ways that are not according to the mind and will of Christ. Now, in such a day of Christ’s coming, though he spares the souls of his saints and forgives them, yet he “takes vengeance of their inventions,” Psalm 99:8. He will cast down all their idols, and destroy and consume every false way wherein they were. One is, it may be, in a way of superstition and false worship; another in a way of pride and ambition; another in a way of giving countenance to the men of the world, and things wherein God delights not; — Christ will take vengeance of all these their inventions in the day of his coming. He acts as refiner’s fire,” and as “fullers’ soap.” 3dly. On the account of inordinate cleaving unto the shaken, passing things of the world. This is a peculiar controversy that Christ hath with his, upon the account of adherence to the passing world; and it is a thing wherein, when he comes, too many will be found faulty. I might also insist on their unbelief, and other particulars. But, — [2.] The ways and means whereby Christ judgeth and pleadeth with his own, on these accounts, are also various: — 1st. He doth it by the afflictions, trials, and troubles, that he exerciseth them with at his coming. The use of the furnace is to take away dross; and the issue of afflictions and trials, to take away sin: — this is their fruit. So, Daniel 12:1, the time of Christ’s coming shall be a day of trouble, such as never was. And what shall be the issue Verse 10, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.” Their trials and troubles, their great tribulations, shall be purifying and cleansing. Though the design of Christ in the issue, at the appointed season, be the peace and deliverance of his saints; yet, in the carrying on of his work, great trials and tribulations may befall them all; and many may fall in the way, and perish as to the outward man. Hence, Daniel 12:13, there is an appointed time of rest, and it will be a blessed thing for them that shall be preserved unto it; but whilst those days and seasons are coming to their period, there is often “a time of great trouble,” verse 1. And “the power of the holy people may be scattered,” verse 7, and many afflictions and trials may befall them. Now, by these doth Christ plead with his, for the consumption of their lusts, and the destruction of their inventions, — for the purging and purifying of them.

    All our trials, pressures, troubles, disappointments, in such a day, are the actings of Christ to this end and purpose. The influences that affliction hath unto these ends are commonly spoken unto. 2dly. He doth it by pouring out of his Spirit in a singular manner, for this end and purpose, so to plead with, judge, and cleanse his saints. It is in the administration of his Spirit that at his coming “he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver,” Malachi 3:1-3; and we see what work he accomplishes thereby. The Holy Ghost, who is the great pleader for the saints, and in them, doth at such a time effectually plead with them, by convictions, persuasions, arguings, application of the word, motions, strivings, and the like. Hence those who are unrefined at such a season are said in a peculiar manner “to vex,” to grieve “the Holy Spirit” of God, Isaiah 63:10. His design upon them is a design of love; and to be rejected, resisted, opposed, in his actings and motions, — this grieves and vexes him. Men know not what they do, in neglecting the actings of the Holy Ghost; which are peculiarly suited to providential dispensations.

    When God is great in the world in the works of his providence, — in alterations, dissolutions, shakings, changings, removals, — and sends his Spirit to move and work in the hearts of men, answerably to his mind and will in these dispensations, so that there is a harmony in the voice of God without and within, both speaking aloud and clearly; then to neglect the workings of the Spirit brings men into that condition complained of, Ezekiel 24:13, “Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged any more.”

    It may be observed, that at such seasons when Christ hath any great and signal work to bring forth in the world, he doth by his Spirit deal with the hearts and consciences of the most wicked and vile men; which, when the secrets of all hearts shall be discovered at the last day, will exceedingly exalt the glory of his wisdom, patience, goodness, holiness, and righteousness. So did he with them before the flood; as is evident from Genesis 6:3. When an utter destruction was to come, he saith, his Spirit shall strive with them no more; — that is, about their sin and rebellion.

    That this Spirit was the Spirit of Christ, and that the work of dealing with these ungodly men was the work of Christ, and that it was a fruit of longsuffering, Peter declares, 1 Peter 3:18-20. And if he deals thus with a perishing world, by a work that perisheth also, — how much more doth he it in an effectual work upon the hearts of his own! It is the Spirit that speaks to the churches in all their trials, Revelation 2:3.

    By this means, I say, then, Christ pleads with his saints; secretly and powerfully judging their lusts, corruptions, failings, — consuming and burning them up. He first, by frequent motions and instructions, gives them no rest in any unequal path; then discovers to them the beauty of holiness, the excellency of the love of Christ, the vanity and folly of every thing that hath interrupted their communion with him; and so fills them with godly sorrow, renunciation of sin, and cleaving unto God; — which is the very promise that we have, Ezekiel 6:10. 3dly. As he doth it by the inward, private, effectual operation of his Spirit, so he doth it by the effusion of his light and gifts in the dispensation of the word. Christ seldom brings any great alteration upon the world, but together with it, or to prepare for it, he causeth much effectual light, to break forth in the dispensation of his word. Before the first destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, how he dealt with them he declares, 2 Chronicles 36:15, “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place.”

    And before the final dissolution of the heavens and earth of that church and state, he preached to them himself in the flesh. A glorious light! Before the ruin of the antichristian world, he sends the angel with the everlasting gospel, and his two witnesses to hold forth the light of the gospel; and we must witness to this his way and wisdom in our generation. Now, though there are many rebels against light, and many whose lusts are enraged by the breaking forth of truth in its beauty and luster; and many that, being dazzled with it, do run out of its paths into ways of error and folly, and none of the wicked do understand; yet, among the saints, the more light the more holiness, — for their light is transforming. This, then, is another means whereby, in such a day, Christ consumes the lusts and judges the inordinate walking of his own, — even by the light which in an eminent manner he sends forth in the dispensation of the word.

    Now, if the time and season whereof we speak be such a day of judgment, wherein Christ thus pleads with all men, and with his own in an especial manner, I think the inference unto eminency in universal holiness may be left upon the thoughts and minds of all that are concerned. Especially from these considerations doth the inference lie strong unto the ensuing particulars, in the ways of holiness and godliness: — First, Of selfsearching and self judging in reference to our state and condition. Dreadful are the actings of Christ in such a day on the souls and consciences (ofttimes on the names and lives) of corrupt, unsound professors; — in part I declared them before. If any now should be found in such a condition, his day of judgment is come, his sealing to destruction. This the apostle calls to in such a dispensation, 1 Corinthians 11:31,32. Selfjudging, as to our state and condition, ways and practices, is a great principle of holy conversation and godliness. When Christ comes to judge, we ought surely to judge ourselves; and abounding in that work is a great means of preservation from the temptations of the days whereunto we are exposed. Secondly, Of weanedness from the world and the things thereof.

    Christ’s coming puts vanity on all these passing things. This is surely contained in the text, “Seeing that these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons,” etc. At best they are vain and passing, uncertain things; in such a dispensation as is spoken of, they are all obnoxious to dissolution, and many of them certainly to be removed and taken away.

    And why should the heart of any one be set upon them? why should we not fix our souls on things more profitable, more durable? It is no small matter to meet the Lord Christ at his coming, Malachi 3:1-3. They were all full of desires of the coming of Christ; they sought after him: “The Lord whom ye seek.” They delighted in the thoughts of him: “Whom ye delight in.” Well, he came, according to their desires; he whom they sought was found. And what was the issue? Why, very few of them could abide the day of his coming, or stand when he appeared. He had a work to do they could not away with. They desired his coming, — they desired the day of the Lord; but, as the prophet says, Amos 5:18, “Woe unto them! to what end have they desired it? — it was darkness to them, not light.”

    That was the coming of Christ in person to his temple. It is not otherwise in any of his other comings in providential dispensations. Many men long for it, delight in it, — it is our duty so to do; but what is the issue? One is hardened in sin and lust; — another is lifted up, as though himself were something, when he is nothing; — a third stumbles at the coming itself, and falls: “Woe unto them! the day of the LORD is darkness unto them, and not light.”

    I proceed now to the use. But to make way for the due improvement of the apostle’s exhortation unto us, some previous considerations must be laid down: — First. It is known to all the world that we have had great providential alterations and dissolutions in these nations. He must be a stranger, not in England only, but in Europe, almost in the whole world, that knows it not.

    Our heavens and our earth, our sea and our dry land, have been not only shaken, but removed also. The heavens of ancient and glorious fabric, both civil and ecclesiastical, have been taken down by fire and sword, and the fervent heat of God’s displeasure. It is needless for me to declare what destructions, what dissolutions, what unparalleled alterations we have had in these nations. Persons, things, forms of government of old established, and newly-framed constitutions, we have seen all obnoxious to change or ruin.

    Secondly. It is no less certain that we may say, concerning all these things, “Come and see what God hath wrought.” And as to these desolations of nations, ruin of families, alterations of governments, we may say of them all, as the psalmist, Psalm 46:8 “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.”

    It is his work; he hath done it himself. There is no evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it, Amos 3:6. Have there been any exaltations of men, recoveries from depression, relief of the oppressed, establishments of new frames and order of things? — it hath been all from him, Daniel 2:21, 4:32. Indeed, the days wherein we live are full of practical atheism.

    Some, out of mere stoutness of heart and innate unbelief, will take no notice of God in all these things. Psalm 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” As things have been, so they suppose they are, and will be; but as to the consideration of him who disposeth of all as seems good unto him, they are strangers unto it. Some have had their lusts enraged, and themselves so provoked and disappointed, that, flying upon the instruments which God hath used, they have been filled with prejudice, and utterly blinded as to any discovery of the ways or work of God in these revolutions. Some have been utterly cast down in their thoughts, because they have not been able to discover the righteousness, beauty, and order, of the ways of God; his footsteps having been in the deep, while his paths have not been known. And some, having found an open door for the satisfaction of their lusts, — pride, covetousness, ambition, love of the world, reputation, vain-glory, and uncleanness, — have been so greedily engaged in the pursuit of them, that they have taken little or no notice of the hand of God in these things. And others are at a stand, like the Philistine priests and diviners, 1 Samuel 6:9. They know not whether all this hath been from the hand of God, or whether some chance hath befallen us. I shall not need to mention those in Isaiah 47:13, — “astrologers, star-gazers, and monthly prognosticators,” who have endeavored also to divert the thoughts of unbelieving, foolish men, from a due consideration of the Author of all our revolutions. To all which I shall answer in general in the words of Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:3-9, “God hath done all these things.” And men that will not take notice of him and his proceedings, shall at length be forced so to do, Isaiah 26:11.

    These things being premised, one principal inquiry, which must be the bottom and foundation of the ensuing directions, is, whether it may appear that these providential alterations and dissolutions have related to Christ and his interest in the world in an especial manner?

    That we may yet a little farther clear our way, you may farther observe, what I intend, by relating unto Christ and his church in an especial manner: — 1. Whereas the Lord Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, made “heir of all things,” Hebrews 1:2, and “hath all judgment committed unto him,” over all flesh, in all the world, — which include his right to send his gospel into what nation and place he pleaseth; — so all the alterations that are in the world, all things relate to him, and do lie in a remote tendency to the advancement of his glory. He will work out his own glorious ends from all the breakings of all the nations in the world; even where the interest of his gospel seems outwardly to be very little, or nothing at all. But it is not in this sense that we make our inquiry; for so there would be nothing peculiar in the works that have been among us. 2. Things may relate unto Christ and his church upon the account of special promise. Christ hath a special and peculiar concernment in providential dissolutions when they so relate to him; and that appears in these things: — (1.) When the judgments that are exercised in such a dispensation flow from provocations given unto the Lord Christ, upon the account of his church. So Isaiah 34:8. All the dissolutions mentioned of the heavens and the earth, verse 4, were on Zion’s account, and the controversy that Christ had with Idumea about her. So, Isaiah 63:4, the day of vengeance is the year of the redeemed. Whence, in such a day, the saints themselves are stirred up to take notice that the desolations wrought in the earth are on their account, Jeremiah 51:35; and so it is fully expressed in the ruin of antichristian Babylon, in the Revelation. Where, then, there is a peculiar relation of any dissolving providence unto Christ and his church, the judgments exerted in and under it regard the vengeance of the church, and proceed from the provocations of Christ on that account. (2.) Some promises made unto Christ concerning his inheritance, — some promises of Christ unto his church, — are, in such a day, brought forth unto accomplishment. The promises of Christ to the church are of two sorts: — First, General, essential to the new covenant; and these belong equally to all saints, of all ages, in all places, — not to one more than another. Every saint hath an equal right and interest in the essential promises of the covenant with any other saint whatever; there is no difference, but one God, Lord, and Father of all, is good unto them all alike. And, secondly, There are promises which are peculiarly suited to the several states and conditions into which the visible kingdom of Christ is, in his wisdom, to be brought in several ages. Such are the promises of the calling of the Jews, — of the destruction of Antichrist, — of the increase of light in the latter days, — of the peace, rest, and prosperity of the church in some times or ages, after trials and tribulation. Now, they are the promises of this latter sort that relate unto providential dispensations.

    Having premised these things, I shall now briefly offer some grounds of hope, that such have been the alterations and dissolutions wherein we have been exercised in this generation: —\parFIRST. Because very many of the saints of God have obtained real, evident, soul-refreshing communion with Christ in and about these things, on this foundation, that the things on the wheel amongst us have had a peculiar relation unto him. There is nothing of more certainty to the souls of any, than what they have real, spiritual experience of. When the things about which they are conversant lie only in notion, and are rationally discoursed or debated, much deceit may lie under all; but when things between God and the soul come to be realized by practical experience, they give a neverfailing certainty of themselves. Now, by holding communion about these things with Christ, I understand the exercise of faith, love, hope, expectation, delight, on and in Christ, on the one hand; and the receiving relief, supportment, consolation, joy, patience, perseverance, on the other; from both which, holiness, faithfulness, and thankfulness have proceeded and been increased. Now, this communion with Christ, in and about the works of his providence amongst us, very many of the saints have obtained; and, which is the height and complement of it, died in the clear visions of Christ in such communion. Now there are two things that offer sufficient security against any deceit or mistake in this thing: — 1. The goodness, care, and faithfulness of God towards his own; which will not suffer us to fear that he would lead all his people into such a temptation wherein, in their chiefest communion (as they apprehended) with himself, they should feed on the wind and delusion. If the foundation of all this intercourse with God was false, and not according to his mind, then so was the whole superstructure. Now, that God for many years should lead his people into a way of prayer, faith, hope, thankfulness, and yet all false and an abominable thing, because all leaning on a false ground and supposition; none that consider his goodness and tender pity towards his own, with the delight of his soul in their worship and ways, can once imagine. It is true, men may be zealously engaged in ways and acts of worship, and that all their lives, wherein they think they do God good service; and yet both they and their service be abominated by him for ever.

    But men cannot do so in faith, love, obedience, thankfulness; which alone we speak of. At least, he will not suffer his saints to do so; of whom alone we speak. We have, then, the tender mercies and faithfulness of God to assure us in this case. 2. The self-evidencing efficacy of faith in spiritual experiences strengthens their persuasion. Many, doubtless, may persuade themselves that they have communion with God, and yet feed upon ashes, and a deceived heart turns them aside. The principle of such a delusion I shall not now lay open. But when it is indeed obtained by faith, it is always accompanied with a soul-quieting, refreshing evidence; for faith in its operation will evince itself to the soul where it is. I do not say it always doth so. It may be so clouded with darkness of mind, so overpowered by temptations, that in its most spiritual and genuine acting, it may be hid from the soul wherein it is, — which we find to be the condition of many a gracious soul; but in itself it clears up its own actings. Things that have a selfevidencing power, may be hindered from exerting it; but when they do exert it, it is evident. Put a candle under a bushel, it cannot be seen; but take away the hinderance, and it manifests itself. It is so in faith, and its actings. They may be so clouded to the soul itself in which they act, that it may not be able to attain any comforting evidence of it. But take away the bushel, — fear, prejudices, temptations, corrupt reasonings, — and it will assure the soul of itself and its working. Neither is its working more evident than its fruit, or the product of its operations in the soul; it brings forth love, rest, peace, all with a spiritual sense upon the heart and spirit.

    Now, these have been in this thing so evident in the souls of the saints, that they have bespoken that faith which cannot deceive nor be deceived.

    The bottom, then, of the communion which the saints had with Christ in this work, and have, must either be faith or fancy. If faith, then the communion was and is real, and the work true that it is built upon. That it was not, that it is not, the fancy or imagination of a deluded heart, may appear from these considerations: — (1.) From its extent. We know it possessed the minds of the universality of believers in this nation, who were not, nor are at this day, combined in our political interest, but are woefully divided among themselves; yet have all had, more or less, this persuasion of the work relating unto Christ.

    Now, that this should, be any corrupt imagination, seems to me impossible. I speak not of outward actions and proceedings; for so, I know, whole nations may politically combine in evil, — though I will not believe that ever the generality of the saints of Christ shall do so. But I speak of the frame of their hearts and spirits as to communion with Christ in faith and love; whereunto no outward reasonings or interests could influence them in the least: “Digitus Dei est hoc.” (2.) It appears from the permanency and flourishing of this principle in straits and difficulties. A corrupt imagination, be it never so strong and vigorous in its season, and whilst its food is administered to it, in the temptation it lives upon, yet, in trials great and pressing, it sinks and withers; or, if the difficulty continue, for the most part — unless where it falls on some natures of an unconquerable pertinacy — utterly vanisheth.

    But now, this principle of the saints’ communion with Christ about the work of our generation was never more active, vigorous, and flourishing, did never more evidence itself to be of a divine extract, than in the greatest straits and difficulties, — in the mouth and entrance of the greatest deaths.

    Then did it commonly rise up to its greatest heights and assurance. Our temptations, whether Christ be in this work or no, have, for the most part, befallen us since we had deliverance from pressing, bloody troubles. And I think I may say, that there are very many saints in these nations who can truly say, that the best and the most comfortable days that ever they saw in their lives, were those wherein they were exercised with the greatest fears, dangers, and troubles; and that upon the account of the strengthening of this principle of communion with Christ. And in very many hath it been tried out to the death, when corrupt fancies were of little worth. (3.) It appears from the fruits of this persuasion. Every corrupt imagination and fancy is of the flesh; and the works of the flesh are manifest. Whatever it may do in conjunction with convictions, and for a season, yet in itself, and in a course, it will bring forth no fruit but what tends to the satisfaction of the flesh. But now, the principle under consideration did bring forth fruits unto God, in godliness and righteousness.

    But you will say, “Do we not see what fruit it hath brought forth? Is not the land full of the steam of the lusts of men engaged in the work of this age? Can hell itself afford a worse savor than is sent forth by many of them?”

    Answer 1. Very many who have been engaged never pretended to ought of this principle, but followed professedly on carnal (at best, rational and human) accounts solely. Now, these being men of the world, and being fallen into days of notable temptations, no wonder if their lusts work and tumultuate, and that to purpose. The principle is not to suffer for their miscarriages who renounce it.

    Ans. 2. There was a mixed multitude which in this business went up with the people of God, who pretended to this principle indeed, and talked and spake of the interest of Christ; but, knowing nothing of the power of it, when these men were brought into the wilderness, and there met with provocations on the one hand and temptations on the other, they fell a lusting: and, indeed, they have pursued and acted their lusts to purpose also; which have been, indeed, the more abominable, in that some of them have still the impudence to pretend this principle of faith as to the interest of Christ, which teacheth no such things, nor produceth any such fruits as they abound withal.

    Ans. 3. Many who have really the power of this principle in them, have yet been overpowered by temptations, and have brought forth fruits directly opposite unto that obedience, and holiness, and self-denial, which the principle spoken of tends unto. This, for the most part, hath fallen out since deliverance came in; and so the vigor of faith, raised by daily exercise, was much decayed. None, therefore, of these things can be charged on the principle itself, whose natural, genuine effects we have experienced to be such as no corrupt fancy or imagination could produce.

    Many other reasons of this nature might be insisted on; but this is my first ground. SECONDLY. Because in this much work hath been really done for Christ.

    Whatever have been the designs of any or all of the sons of men, Christ hath done so much for himself, as I can from thence with confidence conclude that the whole hath related unto him. Indeed, in the work he doth, his interest ofttimes lies very much in the dark, yea, is utterly hid from the instruments he employs. Little did the Medes and Persians think, in the destruction of Babylon, that they were executing the vengeance of Zion, and [avenging] the blood of Jerusalem, a poor city ruined sixty or seventy years before. And when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, little did they think whose work they had in hand. And whatever instruments thought or intended, Christ hath done notable work for himself. The destruction of false worship as established by a law, the casting down of combinations for persecution, are no small works. I say, much work hath been done for Christ. There was a generation of men that were risen to a strange height in the contempt of the Spirit and ways of Christ, — combined in a resolution to oppose and persecute all the appearance of him, either by light or holiness, in his saints; setting up an outside, formal worship, in opposition unto the spiritual worship of the gospel. And upon the account of the light and truth which he began to command forth in those days, an unspeakable aggravation attended their guilt; — in the pursuit of whose design some were imprisoned, some banished into the ends of the earth, some beggared, many ruined and given up to death itself.

    Now, what work hath Christ made in these days on the men of that, generation? what vengeance hath he taken on them? This is certain, not to insist on particulars, that whatever new sort or combination of men may rise up in their spirit and design, and whatever success they may obtain, yet the generality of the men of that provocation, at least the heads and rulers of it, are already sealed up under the indignation of the Lord Jesus, and the vengeance he takes for Zion. I shall not insist on more particulars.

    The wasting and destruction of the most eminent persecutors of the saints; the ruin and destruction of civil and ecclesiastical fabrics and combinations of men designing the opposing and persecuting of the Spirit of Christ; the removal of all that false worship under the pretense whereof they persecuted all the spiritual appearances of Christ, — hath been all work done for him. THIRDLY. The breaking forth of much glorious gospel light under this dispensation evinces its relation unto Christ. Look upon the like outward work at any other time in the world. What is the issue of war, blood, confusion? Is it not darkness, ignorance, blindness, barrenness? Hath it not been so in other places of the world? But now, in the coming forth of Christ, though he hath a sword in one hand, yet he hath the sun in the other; though he cause darkness in the destruction and desolation that attend his vengeance, yet he gives light and faith to his saints, Malachi 4:1,2. Christ never comes for vengeance only; his chief design is love.

    Love brings forth light, and that which reveals him more to his saints, and which endears his saints more to him. But I have manifested before that he brings light with him; and he hath done so in this dispensation. Light as to the mysteries of the gospel, — light as to the riches of his grace, — light as to the way of his worship, of his ordinances and institutions, hath broken out amongst us; — as Daniel 12:4. It is such a day he speaks of.

    I know how obnoxious this observation is to a sad objection: — “ Call you these days of light and knowledge? Say you that truth hath shined forth or been diffused? Is it increased or more scattered abroad? Is not the contrary true?”

    Ans. It cannot be denied but that many grievous and enormous abominations have been broached in these times, under the name and pretense of light and truth. But is that singular to these days? hath it not been so upon every appearance of Christ? As the light hath been, so hath been the pretense of it in error and darkness. No sooner was Christ come in the flesh, but instantly there were many false Christs: “Lo, here is Christ,” and, “There is Christ,” was common language in those days; as, “This is the only way,” and “That is the only way,” is now; — and yet the true Christ was in the world. And whatever light at any time comes forth, some mock; — false light about the same thing immediately breaks forth. So was it in the first spreading of the gospel, so in the late Reformation, and so in our days; and this is no evidence against the coming of Christ, but rather for it. For, — 1. Satan pours out this flood of abominations on purpose to bring an ill report upon the truth and light that is sent out by Christ. The great prejudice against truth in the world is, that it is new. “He seems to be a setter forth of strange” (or new) “gods,” say they of Paul, because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. To increase this prejudice, the devil, with it or after it, sends forth his darkness; which, first, enables the world to load the truth itself with reproaches, whilst it comes accompanied with such follies as though it also were of the number; secondly, it disables weak friends to find out and close with the truth amidst so many false pretenders. Where much false money is abroad in the world, every man cannot discern and receive only that which is good. Much less will men always keep safe when they are so unstable and uncertain, as they are for the most part, about choosing of truth. 2. God permits it so to be, — (1.) For the trial of careless professors. There must be heresies, that the approved may be tried. Most men are apt to content themselves with a lazy profession. They will hold to the truth whilst nothing appears but truth. Let error come with the same pretences and advantage, — they are for that also. Now, God delights to judge such persons even in this world, to manifest that they are not of the truth, — that they never received it in the love thereof. And he sifts and tries the elect by it; and that for many advantages not now to be insisted on. As, first, That they may experiment the efficacy of truth; secondly, His power in their preservation; thirdly, That they may hold truth upon firm and abiding grounds. (2.) God permits it, to set a greater lustre and esteem upon truth. Truth, when it is sought after, when it is contended for, when it is experimented in its power and efficacy, is rendered glorious and beautiful; and all these, with innumerable other advantages, it hath by the competition that is set up against it by error. When men keep to the truth, by the power of God and the sense of its sweetness and usefulness to their own souls, and shall see some by their errors turned aside to one abomination, some to another, — some made to wither by them and under them, — they discern the excellency of the truth they embrace. So that, notwithstanding this exception, the observation stands good. FOURTHLY. It appears from the general nature of the dispensation itself, which clearly answers the predictions that are of the great works to be accomplished in the latter days, upon the account of Christ and his church.

    This is a general head, whose particulars I shall not enter into. They cannot be managed without a consideration of all at least of the most principal prophecies of the last times, and of the kingdom of Christ, as to its enlargement, beauty, and glory in them; — too large a task for me to enter upon at present.

    And these are some of the grounds on which I am persuaded that the alterations and providential dissolutions of these days have related unto and do lie in a subserviency to the interest of Christ and his church, whatever be the issue of the individual persons who have been engaged therein.

    Come we now to the uses.

    SERMON 12.

    Use 1. Of trial or examination.

    Hath Christ for many years now been in an especial manner come amongst us? Do these alterations relate to him and his interest, and so require universal holiness and godliness? Let us, then, in the first place, see whether, in their several stations, the men of this generation have walked answerable to such a dispensation. Christ, indeed, hath done his work; but have we done ours? He hath destroyed many of his enemies, judged false professors, hardened and blinded the wicked world, sent out his Spirit to plead with his people, and taken vengeance on their inventions; he hath given out plentiful measures of truth and light: but now the whole inquiry is, Whether all or any of us have answered the mind of Christ in these dispensations, and prepared ourselves to meet him as becometh his greatness and holiness?

    For the generality of the people of the nation, Christ hath been pleading with them about their unbelief, worldliness, atheism, and contempt of the gospel. And what hath been the issue? Alas! he that was filthy is filthy still; he that was profane is so still; swearers, drunkards, and other vicious persons, are so still. Where is that man in a thousand in the nation that takes notice of any peculiar plea of Christ with him about his sin in any of these dispensations? One cries out of one party of men, another curses another party, — a third is angry with God himself; but as to the call of Christ in his mighty appearances, who almost takes any notice of it? The abominable pride, folly, vanity, luxury, that are found in this city, testify to their faces that the voice of Wisdom is not heard in the cry of fools.

    And whereas Christ’s peculiar controversy with this nation hath been about the contempt of the gospel, is there any ground got upon the generality of men? is any reformation wrought on this account among them? nay, may we not say freely, that there is a greater spirit of hatred, enmity, and opposition to Christ and the gospel, risen up in the nation than ever before? Light hath provoked and enraged them, so that they hate the gospel more than ever. How mad are the generality of the people on and after their idols, — their old superstitious ways of worship, which Christ hath witnessed against! What an enmity against the very doctrine of the gospel! what a combination in all places is there against the reforming dispensation of it! And is this any good omen of a comfortable issue of this dispensation? Is not Christ ready to say of such a people, “Why should you be smitten any more? you will revolt more and more?” and to swear in his wrath that they shall not enter into his rest? Nay, may he not justly take his gospel from us, and give it to a people that will bring forth fruit? O England! that in this thy day thou hadst known the things of thy peace! I fear they will be hidden from thee. The temptations of the day, the divisions of thy teachers, with other their miscarriages, and thine own lusts, have deceived thee, — and, without mercy, insuperable mercy, will ruin thee. Shall this shame be thy glory, — that Christ hath not conquered thee, — that thou hast hardened thyself against him?

    But passing them, let us inquire, whether the mind of Christ hath, in these dispensations, been answered in a due manner by the saints themselves? — have they made it their business to meet him “in all holy conversation and godliness?” Indeed, to me the contrary appears, upon these considerations: — (1.) Their great differences among themselves about lesser things; (2.) Their little difference from the world in great things; (3.) The general miscarriage of them all in things prejudicial to the progress of the gospel; (4.) The particular deviation of some into ways of scandal and offense; (5.) The backsliding of most if not of all of them. (1.) Consider their great differences among themselves about lesser things.

    I cannot insist on the weight that is laid by our Savior on the union of his disciples, with the condescension and love which he requires of them to that purpose, — the motives and exhortations given by the Holy Ghost unto them on that account, — the provision of principles and means made in the gospel for it, — the necessity of it to the promotion of the interest of Christ in the world, — the benefit and advantage of it to the saints themselves, — the testimony given by it to the power of Christ and truth of his word, — the blasphemies and woeful, soul-ruining offenses that ensue on the contrary frame, — the weakening of faith, hinderance of prayer, quenching of zeal, strengthening of the men of the world, that attend the neglect of it; — I must not, I say, insist on these things; but see John 17:21-23, and Philippians 2:1-3, of a hundred places that might be mentioned. How little the mind of Christ, and his expectation at his coming, hath been answered by his saints in this particular, is evident unto all. [1.] Who is there, almost, who, having got any private opinion, true or false, wherein he differs from all or any of his brethren, who is not ready to proclaim it, without due regard to scandal and division, and even to quarrel with and divide from all that will not think as he thinks, and speak as he speaks? Now, the pride, self-fullness, vanity of mind, unlikeness to Christ, folly, want of faith and love, that is in such a frame, can never be expressed, nor sufficiently lamented. Christ abhors such a frame of spirit as he doth the pollution of the world. [2.] Neither is this all; but men will lay more weight on their mint and cummin, on the lesser things wherein they differ from their brethren, — spend more time about them, write more books of them, labor more in their prosecution, — than they will do in and about the weighty things of law and gospel; — all which will appear at length to have been but the laying of hay and stubble on the foundation that must be consumed. [3.] And farther; — men fall to judging and censuring each other as to their interest in Christ, or their eternal condition. By what rule? — the everlasting gospel? — the covenant of grace? No; but of the disciples: “Master, they follow not with us.” They that believe not our opinion, we are apt to think believe not in Jesus Christ; and because we delight not in them, that Christ does not delight in them. This digs up the roots of love, weakens prayer, increases evil surmises (which are of the works of the flesh), genders strife and contempt; — things that the soul of Christ abhors. [4.] The abomination of this wickedness ends not here; persecution, banishment, the blood of one another, hath on this account lain in the hearts and minds of some of the saints themselves. Not only have expressions to that purpose broken out from particular men, but it is to be feared that designs for it have been managed by parties and combinations.

    And are they not ready to dress up one another with such names and titles as may fit them for ruin? Sectaries, heretics, schismatics, on the one side; — priests, antichristian dogs, on the other: and all this while Christ is in the midst of us! And doth this answer the expectation of Christ? is this a preparation to meet him “in all holy conversation and godliness?” Can we render ourselves more unlike him, more unmeet for communion with him?

    Are not saints ready to join with the world against saints? — to take the vilest men into their bosom that will close with them in defaming, deriding, or, it may be, destroying their brethren? Doth Christ look for this usage in the house of his friends? (2.) Consider their little difference from the world in great things. The great separation that Christ requires and commands of his saints is, from the world. He died to redeem them from it and out of it, — to deliver them from the present evil world, — the ways, works, fellowship, and ends of it; so providing that, in all holy conversation, his people should dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations.

    Now, there are five things wherein Christ calls for his own to be differenced from the world and the men thereof: — [1.] In spirit; [2.] In principle; [3.] In conversation; [4.] In ends; [5.] In worship. [1.] In spirit. He tells us everywhere, that it is one Spirit that is in his, — another that is in the world. 1 John 4:4, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” “There is a ‘he’ in you, and a ‘he’ in the world; and they are different and opposite. There is dwelling in you the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, nor doth it know him,” John 14:17. And when his disciples began to act in the power of a carnal spirit, he tells them they knew not what spirit they were of. [2.] In principle. The principle that Christ requires in his saints is faith, working by love, and guided by that wisdom which is from above. Timothy 1:5: Here are the saints’ principles (I mean, should be so) of all their operations. A pure heart, and love, which is the end of all faith, is their great principle. This cleanses the conscience, and so sets them on work; — by this they take in strength for operation from Christ, without whom they can do nothing, John 15:5. By this they receive light and guidance from Christ, and that wisdom which is from above, enabling them to order their affairs with discretion, James 3:17,18. Now, the principle that is in the world is self, — self acted and guided by carnal wisdom; which is sensual and devilish; on the account whereof they despise the principle and actings of the saints, Psalm 14:6. [3.] In conversation. He hath redeemed us from a vain conversation, Peter 1:18. There is a peculiar emphasis put upon a conversation that becomes the gospel. There is a twofold conversation; — one that becometh the world and the men of the world; another that becometh the gospel and the profession thereof. That these be kept unmixed is the great exhortation of the apostle, Romans 12:2. And if you would know wherein a worldly conversation consists, the apostle telleth us, 1 John 2:16. A conversation wherein any of these things bear sway, is a conversation of this world. That all holiness, all manner of holiness, universal holiness and godliness, is in the gospel conversation, to which the saints are called, shall be afterward spoken unto. [4.] In ends. There is a double end of men’s working and acting in this world: — 1st . General, which regulates the course of their lives and conversations; 2dly. Particular, which regulates their particular actings and works: and in both these are the saints and the world differenced: — 1st. The general end of the saints is the glory of God. This lies in their eye, in their design, — how God may be glorified by them, his name exalted, his interest promoted; this way the bent of their minds and spirits tends.

    The general end of the men of the world is self; all is resolved into self.

    Whatever they do or act in public or private, whatever their pretense be, yet self is their end; — self-admiration, self-ostentation, self-satisfaction, — all centers in self. Sometimes, indeed, they may perform things that seem to be of a public tendency, — for the good of mankind, the good of nations, yea, it may be, the good of the church; so that it is hard for themselves to discover, or for others to charge them, it may be, that they act for self: but there are these two things that will evince men to make self their general end and aim, even then when they act for public ends: — (1st.) This is a rule that will not fail men: — whatever in public actings is not done with a single eye for the glory of God, is done for self. These two divide all the general ends of men; and where one is not enthroned, the other is. Now, though some men may so far proceed in public actings, that it may not be evident wherein their self-interest lies, — though that also be but seldom, — yet, if they do not eye the glory of God with a single eye in these their actings, it is all for self; — and so it will be found at the last day. Now, how few will be left not turning into self on this rule, now [that] pretences run so high of public aims, might be easily evinced. It were no hard matter to discover how, in things of a public tendency, men make some fleshly imagination or other the god they worship; — so that be enthroned, they are little solicitous about the glory of God himself. (2dly.) The difference of these ends even in public actings may be seen from the ways, means, and frame of spirit in which they are carried on. Let men pretend what they will to public ends, yet if they press after them with a proud, carnal, wrathful, envious spirit, by the ways, wisdom, and in the spirit of the world, without faith and submission to God, it is self and not God that is their aim. And this also might be improved to strip men of glorying in their public designs, were that my present business.

    Jehu’s spirit spoiled his work. 2dly. There is a particular end that regulates the public actings of men.

    This in the saints is their doing the work of their generation; that, as Noah, they may walk with God in their generation. This is their integrity as to the special course of their lives, and their particular employment, — how they may fulfill the work of their generation. The special end of the men of the world is the satisfaction of one particular lust or other. “Will this increase my wealth, my power, my carnal interest in this world, my reputation for wisdom and ability, or give me advantage to grow in this or that corrupt end in particular?” This is the secret inquiry of their deceived hearts; this influences and regulates all their particular actings. [5.] As to their separation in worship, I shall only point to that one place, and leave it, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and 2 Corinthians 7:1, which belongs to that discourse.

    Now, I wish I had a more difficult task in hand, — I wish it were harder for me to manage any principle of conviction that we have not been prepared to meet Christ in his coming, from this consideration of our little difference from the world in these great things of principle, spirit, walking, ends, and worship. For, — What a fleshly, wrathful, carnal, worldly spirit hath discovered itself in many professors; nay, in the most! — how little of the humble, lowly, meek, loving spirit of Christ! Many think it their glory to be unlike Christ in the spirit of their minds, — high, heady, self-full, proud, revengeful.

    What little difference between them and the men of the world ! How like to one another! What oneness is found in them! Is this to learn Christ? to put on Christ? Is this the image of Christ that manifests itself in most professors? Nor, — Are they at a distance from the world as to the principle of their walking and working. Do they walk by faith, and work by faith? are they guided by the wisdom that is from above? make they God their refuge? or are any men more dipped into a principle of carnal wisdom than most professors are? To seek counsel of God, to take the law of their proceedings at his mouth, to look up to him for guidance and direction, to derive strength from the Lord Christ by believing for the work of their employments, — in how few are these things found! Their own wisdom, their own counsel, their own contrivance, their own abilities, shall do their work. Carnal policy and fleshly wisdom are their net and drag.

    Moreover, what is our conversation? How like the world in our persons, in our families, in our spirits, callings, — in whatever the world may properly call its own! Professors have jostled the men of the world, out of the possession of the ways of the world. How few are found walking in a world-condemning conversation! a gospel-glorifying conversation! a fruitful, holy conversation! We are known from the world by word more than by deed; which is not the way that James directs us unto.

    I might go through with the rest of the considerations mentioned, and manifest that there is another evil found amongst us; for as we have great differences among ourselves about little things, so we have little difference from the world in those which are great and weighty. (3.) Consider the general miscarriage almost of all professors in things prejudicial to the advancement of the gospel. The pretense whereof we have served ourselves all along, hath been, of the furtherance, propagation, and advancement of the gospel. Our Lord Christ hath sent out light, and given opportunities suitable unto such a design; — never greater advantages nor greater opportunities from the foundation of the world. If ever they be required at the hands of this generation, they will be found to have been so. Whence, then, hath it been that the work hath not gone on and prospered? why doth it yet stick? Hath it not been from the woeful miscarriage of those who were looked on as the means and instruments of carrying it on? Have there been a few saints in a place? It is odds [but] that they have been at variance among themselves, and made sport for the vain multitude by their divisions; or they have walked forwardly, provokingly, uselessly, worldly, [so] that their pretense for the gospel hath been despised because of their persons. Have they, as men concerned in the honor of Christ and the gospel, as men enjoying the blessed principle of his Spirit, labored to be useful, fruitful, — to do good to all, to be meek, lowly, self-denying, charitable, abounding in good works, patient towards opposers, not reviling again, not returning evil for evil, bearing, suffering, committing all to Christ? Alas! how few are there who have so walked!

    Could some see believers making it their business to be like Christ in the world, — to deny themselves as he did, — to do good to all as he did, — to be patient under persecution and reproaches as he was, — to be tender, pitiful, merciful, like him, — to abide in faith and prayer as he did; what might we not expect, as to the advancement of the gospel amongst us? We complain of cold preaching among ministers, of dead and dull attendance in hearers, of contempt of the word in the most, whereby the power of the gospel is kept within narrow bounds. But the truth is, the prejudices that have been raised by the miscarriages of professors have had a greater influence unto that evil event than any of the rest. And hath this been to meet Christ in his coming? (4.) Of the like nature are the scandalous offenses of many. I shall not insist on the scandalous apostasies of many professors, who, some by one great sin, some by another, are fallen off from the profession of the gospel.

    I wish that too many other instances might not be found among them that remain. Are there not some proud unto scandal, or sensual unto scandal, or covetous unto scandal, or negligent of their families and relations unto scandal, or conformable to the ways, customs, and fashions of the world unto scandal? I wish no such things might be found among us. (5.) Add hereunto the general backsliding, or going back from God, that is amongst professors. We scarce seem to be the same generation of men that we were fifteen or sixteen years ago: — some have utterly lost their principle. Zeal for God, reformation, purity of ordinances, interest of Christ in his saints, are things to be despised, things that have no concernment in our condition and affairs; as though we had no more need of Christ or his interest amongst us: and in the best, is not a fresh spirit of our present engagement almost lost?

    But why should I insist farther on these things? Are not the things that have been spoken sufficient for a rebuke, or a conviction at least, that the professing people of Christ have not walked as though they had a just respect to his coming, or his peculiar presence amongst them? May we not justly fear, that our multiplied provocations may at length prevail with him to withdraw, to put a stop to his work that is upon the wheel; not only to leave us to manifold entanglements in the carrying of it on, but also utterly to forsake it, — to cast down the tower, and pluck up the hedge that he hath made about his vineyard, and leave it to be laid waste? He must have a heart like the flint in the rock of stone, that doth not tremble at it. But complaints will not be our relief. That which is incumbent on us, if yet there may be hope, is our answering the exhortation in my text. If, then, any sense do fall upon our spirits that Christ is come amongst us in a peculiar manner, in the providential alterations and dissolutions that have been among us; and that we have not hitherto demeaned ourselves as becometh them who are called to meet him, and to walk with him in such ways and paths as his amongst us have been; — then, I say, let us apply ourselves in our next use to the exhortation that lies before us, — to all manner of “holy conversation.”

    Use 2. Of exhortation. That, I say, then, which we are now to attend unto, is the exhortation that is included in this expression, “What manner of persons ought we to be?” To further the efficacy of this exhortation, give me leave to premise some few things: — First. There are general reasons of holiness and godliness, and there are special motives unto them. I am not now dealing upon the general reasons of holiness on the account of the covenant of grace; and so shall not press it on those considerations upon believers as such. But I speak of it in reference unto the peculiar motive mentioned in the text, — namely, the providential dissolution of temporal concernments; and so speak to believers as men interested therein, — as persons whom Christ hath a special regard unto in these his dispensations. It is one thing to say, “What manner of persons ought ye to be, whom God hath loved with an everlasting love, whom Christ hath washed in his own blood, — who have received the Spirit of Christ?” and another to say, “Ye that are loved with an everlasting love, are washed in the blood of Christ, and made partakers of the Holy Ghost, seeing that Christ is come amongst us to the dissolution of the great things of the nations, what manner of persons ought ye to be?” That is it in a peculiar pressing unto holiness on the account of the motive that is intended.

    Secondly. There is a holiness and godliness that is required universally, at all times, in all places and seasons, and in all persons whatever, by the gospel; and there is a peculiar improvement of that holiness and godliness at some seasons, and in some persons, that is not required at other times, and of other persons. Christ hath work for all the grace of his people in this world; and, according as opportunities for that work are presented unto them, they ought to stir up their grace for it. In the times of Christ’s coming, he hath great work to do for and by the holiness and godliness of his people. A great testimony is to be given to himself thereby; his work is much to be promoted by it; the world to be convinced, condemned; his judgments against them justified in the sight of all; — and much more hath Christ to do with the holiness of his people at such a season. Now, it is this peculiar improvement of covenant, gospel holiness that is required; not only that holiness that is indispensably incumbent on us by the virtue of the covenant, but that heightening and improvement of it which the season wherein we live, and the work that Christ hath to do, do require of us.

    These things being premised, let us now proceed to the management of our exhortation; and observe, — (1.) That the apostle calls us to a consideration how this work may be effected: “What manner of persons ought ye to be?” Consider with yourselves the equity of the matter, the greatness of the motive, and the ways whereby it may be answered. The business is not now to be left at an ordinary rate, nor unto private meditations; it is to be made a matter of solemn consideration and design; it is to be managed with advice and counsel: consider, I say, “what manner of persons.” It is not about holiness in general that I speak; but about that holiness which becomes us in such a season. This, then, is the first part of this exhortation, — that as to the improvement of holiness answerable to the season of this coming of Christ, we would carry it on by design, by counsel, by deliberate consideration; not only laboring to be holy ourselves, but to promote the work of holiness, the eminency, the activity, the usefulness of it, in one another, — in all believers, — so far as our prayers, exhortations, and examples, can reach. This the apostle pleads for on the same account, Hebrews 3:13; and chapter 10:23, 24, to the same purpose. And we have the practice of it, Malachi 3:16. It was such a time and season as that we treat of, Christ was coming to his temple, verses 1-3. The earth was full of wickedness and contempt of him. What do the saints do? Do they content themselves with their ordinary measures? Do they keep all close to themselves? No; they confer, advise, consult, and that frequently, how, wherein, whereby, the expectation of their coming Lord may be answered. The reasons, arguments, way of carrying on such a counsel and design, the apostle declares, Romans 13:11-14, “The time requires it, the duty is urgent, temptations are many, failings have been great, — the Lord is nigh at hand.” Let, then, believers enter together into this plot, this design; draw as many as they can into it; promote it by all ways and means possible. Let them get together; make this their aim, their design, — engage in it as the duty of their day, of their time and season. This would be a plot that the men of the world would have more just cause to fear than ever they had of any, and yet dare not question, disturb, or interrupt; — a design that would blow up their contrivance, disappoint their counsel, ruin their interest, — shake heaven and earth. Let every one contribute the best of his counsel, the best of his grace, the best of his interest in heaven, the utmost of his self-denial, to the carrying of it on. Methinks we have dwelt long enough upon others’ failings, — fruitless, selfish designs; the world is full of the noise, the steam, the filth of them. Oh, that the stream of our endeavors might now be another way! Oh, that God would stir up some that might stand up and cry, “Who is for God? who is on our side for holiness now?” If ministers at their meetings, if Christians at theirs, would make this their business; if all would agree to sacrifice their lusts, their self-love, their by-opinions to this work, — what glory would redound to Christ! what salvation would be wrought in the earth! Why do any of us lie complaining? Let us up and be doing; there is no doubt, no question to be made. This is that which Christ lengthens his controversy with us about, that he will bring us to, or ruin us and destroy us as to this world. Ministers meet. What do they? Pray a while, and spend their time in and about differences, controversies, — how they may do this or that, which I shall not name. Christians meet, and pray, and go away as they came. Lusts are not sacrificed; faults are not confessed to one another; exhortations mutual are not used; — no ground is got for holiness or godliness, but things remain as they did, or rather grow worse and worse every day: at best, profession rises, and the power of religion falls and decreases.

    I heartily wish professors would be persuaded to come together to advise, to consult for God, — for the glory of Christ and the gospel, and for their own interest in this thing; — to consider what are the pressing temptations of the days wherein we live; what are the corruptions and lusts that are apt to be provoked and excited by these temptations, or by the state of things amongst us; what duties seem to be neglected; and what are the common, visible failings and scandal of professors, wherein themselves, through party, or neglect, or selfishness, have been wanting: and to advise and pray for the remedying of all these evils. I wish they would seriously stir up and exhort one another to contend mightily for the crucifying of all their secret lusts and bosom sins, — for heart-purity and likeness to Christ in all things; that they would incite others, and draw all they can into their society and combination in all parts of the nation. In particular, let not us of this place stand still, expecting when others will begin the work. The meaner, poorer, worse we are, the more incumbent is it on us to rise and be doing. The water is moved, teaching [healing?] is in it, and we strive not who shall enter first, but rather stand striving, contesting with others, to put them before us!

    This is the first direction: — Let us make the matter of holiness and godliness suited to the coming of Christ a business of design, counsel, and common engagement; whereunto every one may contribute of the store which from God he hath received. Blessed will be those servants whom their Master, when he cometh, shall find so doing!

    SERMON 13.

    ISHALL now add some cautions as to the pursuit of the first direction: — [1.] Take heed of a degeneration into self-righteousness. Intendments of holiness have more than once been ruined by Satan through this deceit; they have set out upon conviction, and ended in Pharisaism. Now, this hath been done many ways: — 1st . Some, really convinced of the vanity of an empty profession, and of boasting of saintship upon the account of faith and light without holiness and godliness, — which was the way of many when James and John wrote their epistles, — fall to dispute and contend (as well they may) for the absolute necessity of holiness and strict obedience, of fruitfulness and good works. But Satan here gets advantage upon men’s natural spirits, their heats, and contentions, and insinuates an inherent righteousness, upon the account whereof we should, under one pretense or other, expect acceptation with God as to the justification of our persons. So he prevailed upon the Galatians. The way is narrow and strait that lies between the indispensable necessity of holiness, and its influence into our righteousness. Because no faith will justify us before God, but that also which will justify itself by fruitfulness before men, a great mistake arises, as though what it doth for its own justification were to be reckoned unto ours. Many in our days have gone off from the mystery of the gospel on this account. 2dly . It prevails from a secret self-pleasing, that is apt to grow on the minds of men from a singularity in the performance of duties. This is that which the Heart-searcher aims to prevent in his command, that “when we have done all, we should say we are unprofitable servants;” that is, in the secrets of our hearts to sit down in a sense of our own worthlessness. And here lies another great practical difficulty, — namely, to have the rejoicing of a good conscience in our integrity and constancy in duties, without a reflection upon something of self, that the soul may please itself and rest in. Nehemiah fixes on the medium, Nehemiah 13:22. He had in the sight of God the testimony of his conscience concerning the service he had done for the house of God; but as to the rest, he winds up all in mercy, pardon, and grace. “God, I thank thee I am not as other men,” is apt to creep into the heart in a strict course of duties. And this self-pleasing is the very root of self-righteousness; which, as it may defile the saints themselves, so it will destroy those who only in the strength of their convictions go forth after a holiness and righteousness: for it quickly produceth the deadly, poisonous effect of spiritual pride; which is the greatest assimilation to the nature of the devil that the nature of man is capable of. 3dly. Our own holiness hath an advantage upon spiritual sense against the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ is utterly a strange thing to the best of unbelievers; and this puts them by all means upon the setting up of their own, Romans 10:3. And believers themselves know it only by faith, Romans 1:17; which is “of things not seen.” But what we are ourselves, what we do, what we aim at, and in what manner, this we have a near sense of. And holiness is apt to insinuate itself into the conscience with a beauty that is none of its own, — to proffer itself to the soul’s embraces instead of Jesus Christ. Its native beauty consists in its answering the will of God, conforming the soul to the likeness of Christ, and being useful in the world, in a covenant of mere mercy. From its presence, and the sense we have of it, the heart is apt to put a varnish and false beauty upon it, as to the relief of conscience upon the account of justification. As it was of old with the children of Israel, when Moses was in the mount, and not seen, nor had they any visible pledge of the presence of God, instantly they turned their gold into a calf that would be always present with them; — being in the dark as to the righteousness of Christ, which is, as it were, absent from them, men set up their own holiness in the stead of it; which, though of itself it be of God, yet turned into selfrighteousness is but a calf, — an idol, that cannot save them.

    This is my first caution. But that we may make the better improvement of it, as unto present practice, I shall add some evidences of the prevalency, or at least contending, of self-righteousness for an interest in the soul, under a pretense of duty and holiness; as, — (1st.) When, under a design of holiness, there is an increase of a bondageframe of spirit; — when the mind begins to be enslaved to the duties which it doth itself perform; — when that amplitude, freedom, and largeness of mind which is in a gracious frame of heart decays, and a servile bondage-frame grows in the room of it, so that the soul doth what it doth under this notion, that it dare not do otherwise. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Those that come to Christ, he makes free, John 8:36; — there is freedom and spiritual largeness of heart unto obedience and duty. A will unto duty, enlarged, dilated, and sweetened by love, delight, joy, complacency in the matter of obedience, is the freedom we speak of. This frame, I confess, is not always alike prevalent in gracious souls. They may have things ready to die; sin within, temptations without, desertion from God, — all of them together, each of them, may disturb this harmony, and bring them for a time, it may be a long time, under an indisposition unto such a frame; — but this is for the most part predominant. When such a frame decays, or is not, all endeavors, pains, attempts, severities in duties, do all relate to the law, — to bondage; and consequently lead to self-righteousness, fear, subjection of conscience to duties, — not [to] God in Christ in the duty; fluctuating of peace according to performances. The soul, in its strictest course, had need fear a snare. (2dly.) Increasing in form, and withering in power. Forms are of three sorts: — [1st.] Those of institution; [2dly .] Moral; [3dly .] Arbitrary, in conversation. [1st .] There are forms and ways of worship, whereof some are, and all pretend to be, of Christ’s institution. Let us at present take it for granted that they are all what they are apprehended to be, — namely, from Christ.

    For a man to grow high, earnest, zealous, in and about them, — to be strict and severe in contending for them, and yet find no spiritual refreshment in them, or communion with God, nor to grow in faith and love by them, is to dwell on the confines of self-righteousness, if not hypocrisy. This was the very sin of the Jews about their institutions, so much condemned in the Scripture. None use instituted ways or forms of worship profitably, but such as find communion with God in them, or are seriously humbled because they do not. [2dly .] The outward form of moral duties, that depend not merely on institution, is the same. Such are praying, preaching, hearing. Abounding in them, without a suitable increase in grace, power, liberty, love, meekness, lowliness of mind, argues, though under the highest light to the contrary, a real mixture of self. [3dly .] There are also outward forms in conversation that are used to the same purpose. We have had some who have changed their outward form in a few years as often as Laban changed Jacob’s wages. What shape they will next turn themselves into, I know not. This is not going from strength to strength, and increasing in life and power, but from one shape to another. And as their word and prophecy is directly proportioned and answerable, in its outward appearance, to the administration of the Old Testament, and not at all to the spiritual dispensation of the New; so it may be feared that, in the principle of their obedience, they lie under a legal bondage and self-righteousness, which hath utterly spoiled that which, perhaps, in its first design, set out for mortification and holiness. (3dly.) Where self-righteousness is getting ground, these two, bondage and form, at length bring forth burdensomeness and wearisomeness. This God charges on such justiciaries, Isaiah 43:22, “Thou hast been weary of me.” The ways and worship of God grow very grievous and burdensome to such a soul. He is a stranger to that of the apostle, “His commandments are not grievous;” and that of our Savior himself; “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The easiness of the yoke of Christ ariseth from the assistance that is given to him that bears it by the Holy Ghost, as also the connaturalness that is wrought in the heart to all the duties of it. Both these accompany a gospel frame. But when a soul is deserted of these, the yoke grows heavy, and galleth him; but yet he must go on. This is from self-righteousness. Let this, then, be our first caution. [2.] Take heed of monastic uselessness. I am persuaded monkery came into the world not only with a glorious pretense, but also with a sincere intention. Men weary of the ways, weary of the lusts and sin of the world, designing personal holiness, left their stations, and withdrew themselves into retirement. David was almost gone with this design, Psalm 55:6, “O that I had wings!” and Jeremiah, Jeremiah 9:2, “O that I had a lodging in the wilderness!” Whose heart hath not been exercised with reasonings of this kind, “Oh, that we could be freed from the encumbrances and provocations of this world; what manner of persons might we be in all holy conversation and godliness?” But consider, — 1st. What success this design prosecuted hath had in others. How quickly did it degenerate into wretched superstition, and was thereon blasted and rejected of God! 2dly. God can suffer temptation to pursue us into a wilderness, that shall more obstruct us in the progress of holiness than all the difficulties we meet withal in this world. It is not of what kind our temptations are, but what assistance we are to expect under them, that we are to look after. 3dly. Not our communion [our intercourse with men], but God’s work, is to be considered. God hath work to do in this world; and to desert it because of its difficulties and entanglements, is to cast off his authority.

    Universal holiness is required of us, that we may do the will of God in our generation, Genesis 6:9. It is not enough that we be just, that we be righteous, and walk with God in holiness; but we must also serve our generation, as David did before he fell asleep. God hath a work to do; and not to help him, is to oppose him. [3.] Take heed of laying a design for holiness in a subserviency unto any carnal interest, — of crying, with Jehu, “Come see my zeal for the LORD of hosts,” — thereby to do our own work and compass our own ends. The great scandal that hath befallen the days wherein we live, and which hath hardened the spirits of many against all the ways of God, is, that religion, godliness, zeal, holiness, have been made a cloak for carnal and secular ends. What of this hath been really given, and what hath been taken on false imaginations, the last day will discover. In the meantime this is certain, that there is a corruption in the heart of man, rising up to such a visible prostitution of the whole profession of religion, — which of all things must be carefully avoided.

    And this is the grand exhortation that I shall insist on: Let it be our design to promote generation-holiness in ourselves and others, with the cautions insisted on. (2.) That which in the next place is considerable, is the proposing of the ingredients that lie in the motive to holiness, here expressed by the apostle, “Seeing that these things shall be dissolved.”

    As, — [1.] It will be a furtherance of holiness, to take off our hearts from an esteem and valuation of all things that are so obnoxious to dissolution. An estimation or valuation of earthly things is on all accounts the greatest hinderance to the promotion of holiness. Earthly-mindedness, pride of spirit, elation above our brethren, self-estimation, carnal confidence, contempt of the wisdom and grace of others, aptness to wrath and anger, — some or all of these always accompany such a frame.

    The apostle also makes this an effectual means of the improvement of holiness, — that the mind be taken off from the delightful contemplation of visible things, 2 Corinthians 4:18. Things will work towards “a weight of glory,” (in which words the apostle alludes to the Hebrew word dwObK; , “glory,” which comes from a root signifying to “weigh,” or “to be heavy;” that being the only weighty thing, and all others light and of no moment;) — this way, I say, things will work, whilst our minds are taken off from things that are seen. The mind’s valuation of them is as great an obstruction to the growth of holiness as any thing whatever that can beset us in our pilgrimage. [Now, what can give a greater allay to the warmth of our thoughts and minds, than their continual obnoxiousness to dissolution and change? This the apostle makes his argument everywhere. “They are temporal things,” saith he, “things that abide not, things obnoxious to change and ruin. The world passeth away, and the figure of it. Wilt thou set thine heart upon that which is not?” And there lies the force of the inference under consideration: “Seeing that these things shall be dissolved,” — and it may be in a way of judgment, in a dreadful, fearful manner, — how is it incumbent on us to fix our hearts on more durable things, to choose the better part, the better portion! What advantage can it be to enlarge our hearts to the love of the things that are upon the wing? — to cleave to parting things with our affections? — to grow in our desires after that which withdraws itself from us continually? Let us, then, consider how many duties have been omitted, — how many temptations have been offered and objected to us, — how many spiritual frames of heart prevented or expelled, — how much looseness and vanity of mind introduced, — how much self-confidence promoted, — by an overvaluation of these things; and we shall then see what influence a watching against it may have to the furtherance of a design of holiness. [2.] It will be so, to take off our care about them. This also is a worm that lies at the root of obedience, and is of itself able to wither it, if not removed. Our Lord Jesus Christ, giving us instruction how we should be prepared for the coming of such a day as that whereof we are speaking, charges us, among other things, to take heed that we “be not overcharged with the cares of this life,” Luke 21:34. Indeed, there is nothing so opposite to that peculiar holiness and godliness that is required of us, in and under great providential dissolutions, as this of care about perishing things. The special holiness that we press after is a due mixture of faith, love, self-denial, fruitfulness, — all working in a peculiar and eminent manner. Now, to every one of these is this care a canker and a gangrene, fitted to eat out and devour the life and spirit of them. The very nature of faith consists in a universal casting of our care on God, 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your care on him.” All our care about temporal, spiritual, eternal things, let us cast all this on God, — our whole burden. This is believing, this is faith: and what is more opposite unto it than this care and solicitousness of the soul about the obtaining or retaining of these things?

    Resignation, acquiescency, rest, — all which are acts or effects of faith, — are devoured by it. Trust in God, affiance, delight in his will, — [it] ruins them all. How can a soul glorify God in believing in a difficult season, that is overlaid with this distemper. Nothing is more diametrically opposite thereunto.

    Love enlarges the heart to Christ, and every thing of Christ: valuation, delight, satisfaction, accompany it. It makes the heart free, noble, ready for service, compassionate, — zealous. Nothing is more called for in such a day: and the decay of faith, in the trials and temptations of such a season, is called the “waxing cold of love;” as the fruit decays when the root is consumed. To think of glorifying God in the days wherein we live, without hearts warmed, enlarged, made tender, compassionate, by gospel love, is to think to fly without wings, or to walk without feet. What day, almost, what business, wherein our love is not put to the trial, in all the properties of it! Whether it can bear and forbear; whether it can pity and relieve; whether it can hope all things, and believe all things; whether it can exercise itself towards friends and towards enemies; whether it can give allowance for men’s weakness and temptations; whether it can value Christ above all, and rejoice in him in the loss of all, and many the like things, is it continually tried withal. Now, nothing so contracts and withers the heart, as to all these things, as the cares of this world do.

    Whatever is selfish, fearful, unbelieving, is inwrapped in them. They sometimes pine, wither, and render useless, the whole man; — always drink up the spirit, and deprive it of any communion with God in any thing it hath to do.

    The same may be said concerning self-denial and fruitfulness; which in an eminent manner Christ now calls upon us for. Love, care, and fear, about the things that shall be dissolved, unframes the soul for them.

    On these considerations, and the like which might be added, may this direction be improved, and no small obstacle unto a course of universal holiness and godliness be taken away. Is the power, are the riches, the pleasures of the world valuable? — Alas! they are all passing away; it is but yet a little while, and their place shall know them no more. Yet, could we take off our hearts from an undue valuation of these things, and care about them, half our work were done. (3.) That which remains, for the closing of our discourse on this subject, is to give some few motives unto the duty proposed; and I shall only mention three generals: — [1.] Relating unto ourselves; [2.] Unto others; [3.] Unto Christ himself. [1.] As to ourselves; — this alone will maintain peace and quiet in our souls, in and under those dissolutions of things that we are to be exercised with. We know what desolations, what ruin of families, what destruction of all outward enjoyments in many, they have already in these nations been attended with; and we know not how soon, nor by what ways or means, the bitterest part of the cup, as to outward pressures and calamities, may become our portion. We have seen somewhat of the beginning of the work of Christ; — where he will cease, what he hath yet farther to do, we know not. Our concernment, then, certainly was never greater than it is at this day, to keep up peace and rest within. If there should be a confederacy of outward and inward trouble, who can stand before it? A wounded body, a wounded (it may be ruined) estate, and a wounded spirit all together, who can bear? This is that alone which the world cannot take from us; which is not obnoxious to sword, fire, plots, conspiracies, — nothing without us, — even the peace that is left us, left to our own keeping, through the Holy Ghost, by Jesus Christ. It is not committed to parliaments, to armies, to rulers, to keep for us: it is committed to our own souls to keep, through the Holy Ghost; and no man can take it from us. Again: as it is valuable on this account, that it cannot be taken from us; so on this also, that it will countervail and support us under the loss of all that can. Peace in God, rest in sole retirement, quietness, and security of mind on spiritual, gospel accounts, sense of God’s love in Christ, will support and keep life and vigor in the soul in the loss of outward peace, with whatever is desirable and valuable unto us on any account that relates to this world.

    Now, there is no maintaining of this peace and rest in such a season, without the performance of this duty. So dealt Habakkuk, Habakkuk 3:16, “I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.” That which God required of him in that season, that he brought up his soul unto, [in order] that he might have rest; and his endeavor had the glorious issue mentioned, verses 17, 18. Though spiritual peace may radically and virtually live under many sins and provocations, yet it will not flourish under them, or bring forth any refreshing fruit. To have the fruit and effect of peace under a continuance in any known sin, is impossible. Now, the omission of any known duty is a known sin; and that a peculiar pressing after eminency in universal holiness and godliness in such a season is a known duty, I have before evinced; — no maintaining of inward peace, rest in God, without it: and we shall be sure to be tried, whether it be in us of a truth or not. I discourse not what the carnal security of seared, blinded, hardened sinners will do; but I am sure the weak, tottering, uncertain peace of many believers, will not support them in such trials as it is not only possible that we may, but probable that we shall, meet withal. Would you now desire that your Master should find you unprepared, — that he should make his entrance whilst all things were in disorder? If the heavens should thunder over you, and the earth tremble under you, and the sword stand ready to devour; — oh! what sad thoughts must you have, if at the same time you should be forced to say, “O my soul! is not God mine enemy also? May not wrath, and hell, and judgment be at the end of this dispensation?” What is the reason that a very rumor, a noise oftentimes, is ready to fill many of our souls with such disturbances? Is it not because this peace doth not flourish in the inward man? And what shall we do in the day of trial itself? Let us, then, endeavor, as Peter exhorts, 2 Peter 3:14, to “be found of Christ in peace.” And what may we do that we may be found of him in peace? “Why,” saith he, “be ‘without spot, and blameless.’” Let him come when he will, in what way he pleases, we shall be found in a way of peace, if we be found spotless and blameless, in a way of holiness. “And blessed is that servant whom his Master, when he cometh, shall find so doing.” This will give light in a dungeon, as it did to Paul and Silas; — ease in the fire, in the furnace, as to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; — contentment in the loss of all, as it did to Job; — satisfaction on the foresight of future trouble, as it did to David: “Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Whatever sword be in the hand of Christ, whatever fire or tempest be before him and round about him, what vengeance soever he is to take on any or all of the sons of men, — this peace, kept up by the holiness he requires in such a season, will make a way to his bosom-love, and there repose the soul in rest and quietness. [2.] As to others, what Paul saith to Timothy in another case, about preaching of the gospel, may in some sense be spoken in this. “Take heed,” saith he, “to the doctrine; for thereby thou shalt save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Who knows but that hereby we may save ourselves, and the nation wherein we live! The Lord Christ hath certainly a controversy with these nations; he hath begun to deal with them in his indignation; and we know that there are provocations enough amongst us to stir him up unto our ruin. Who knows, I say, but that by meeting him in a way of generation-holiness, we may divert deserved ruin; at least hinder, that it be not brought upon us for the provocations of his sons and daughters?

    Now, there are several ways whereby this may have an influence into the safety and deliverance of the nations themselves: — 1st . By setting all things right between Christ and the saints, that he may have no need farther to shake the earth and dissolve the heavens of the nations, to awaken his own from their security, to loosen them from perishing things, or to accomplish any other glorious end towards them.

    Christ sometimes sifts nations, that his wheat may be separated from the chaff: he sets nations on fire, that they may be a furnace for the trial of his own; and when their dross is cleansed he will quench his fire. When there was but one saint in a ship, yet it was for his sake that a storm came on all the rest. It is not always for the sins of the wicked, that they may be destroyed, that he comes in a way of judgment; but for the sins of his people, that they may be cleansed. So “judgment,” as Peter speaks, “begins at the house of God.” It is not unlikely that our troubles were brought on these nations for the sins of the nations, in their persecution of Christ, his truths, and saints, against great light. Nor is it less likely that troubles are continued on these nations for the sins of the saints themselves, — such as those before insisted on. Now, what is it that in such trials Christ calls for, and which he will not cease calling for until he prevails? Is it not the work which we are in the pursuit of, — weanedness from the world, self-denial, zeal for truth, humbleness, fruitfulness, faithfulness, universal holiness? If here, then, lies the root of Christ’s controversy with these nations, as most probably it doth; if this be the cause of our troubles (as to me questionless it is); an engagement into the pursuit of this work is the only remedy and cure of the evils that we either feel or fear in these nations. Other remedies have been tried, and all in vain.

    O that we had hearts, through the Holy Ghost, to make trial of this, which the great physician, Jesus Christ, hath prescribed unto us! Heaven and earth call for it at our hands; the nations groan under our sin; — if we regard not ourselves, yet let us make it our business to deliver England out of the hand of the Lord, Joshua 22:31. 2dly. In that it may be an effectual means for the reformation of the nation. Reformation is the great thing that we have been talking of many years; and this hath been our condition in our attempts after it, — the more that light for it hath broken forth amongst us, the more unreformed hath the body of the people been; yea, the more opposite, for the most part, unto reformation. And may not this, among other things, be one occasion, yea, the principal cause of it, — the light of truth hath been accompanied with so many scandals in some, with so little power and evidence in the most, that prejudices have been strengthened in the minds of men against all that hath been pretended or professed? I am persuaded that a design for generation-holiness, carried on according to the light that we have received, would have a greater influence on the minds of the men of the world to look after reformation, than any of our entreaties or exhortations have yet obtained. We are contemptible to the nation, in our pressing after reformation whilst we are divided amongst ourselves; conformable to the world, whilst we proclaim our unmortified lusts, pride, covetousness, ambition, revenge, self-seeking. Would all the people of God stir up themselves to show forth the power of that faith and life they have received, and so take away advantage from obdurate opposers of the gospel, and give an eminent example to others, who now abhor them on the account of many prejudices that they have taken, the nations would be more awakened unto their duty than now they are. Were we agreed and united on this principle, that we would jointly and severally make this our design, — what work might be wrought in families, councils, counties, cities! Now, reformation is acknowledged to be the means, the only means, of the preservation of a nation; — and this the only means of that. 3dly. This is the most effectual way of standing in the gap, to turn away the indignation of the Lord against the nation. Whatever is required thereunto is contained in this design of holiness: there is reformation, there is wrestling by prayer, sundry promises improving our interest in Christ, — all included in this duty. Now, this is the most common way of saving nations, — when wrath is ready to break forth, some Moses or Samuel stands up and pleads for a deliverance, and prevails. Says God, “Destroy not the cluster; there is a blessing in it.” When the greatest and most dreadful judgment that God ever executed on sinners in this world was coming forth, had there been ten persons following after holiness, its accomplishment had been prevented. Here, then, we have a project to save three nations by; and without this, in vain shall they use any other remedies, — they shall not be healed. [3.] Consider this thing, how it relates unto Christ and his glory. All the revenue of glory or honor that we bring unto Christ in this world, is by our obedience or holiness. He did not die for us that we might be great, or wise, or learned, or powerful in the world; but that he might purify us to be a peculiar people unto himself, zealous of good works. This was his design and aim, — that he might have a holy people, a faithful people in the world. He tells us that herein his Father is glorified, that we bear much fruit; — not that we be successful, that we rule and prevail, that we are in credit and reputation; but that we bring forth much fruit: and in the glory of the Father is the Son glorified also. It is this alone that adorns the doctrine of his gospel, and lifts up his name in the world; but especially is Christ glorified by the holiness of his saints in such a season; because, — 1st . Thereby we bear witness to the world that indeed we believe him to be come forth amongst us, and that the works that are on the wheel relate to his kingdom and interest. Let us talk of it whilst we please, unless we live and walk as those who have communion with Christ in the works he doth, the world will yet think that, whatever we profess, yet indeed we believe, as they do, that it is a common thing that hath befallen us. But when indeed they shall see that there is a real reverence of his person upon our spirits, and that we bestir ourselves in his ways, like servants in the presence of their master, — this carries a conviction along with it. To hear men talk of the coming of Christ, and the day of Christ, and the great and terrible things that Christ hath done in these days, and yet in the meantime to walk as the men of the world, — in a spirit of pride, selfishness, and wrath, in sensuality or pleasure, in neglect of prayer and humiliation, yea, of all gospel duties, — swearers and drunkards do not so dishonor Christ as such men do. But let men but see professors making it their business to be holy, humble, self-denying, useful in the world, condescending in love, resigning all to God, — they cannot but say, “Well, this is a great day to the saints; they verily believe that Christ is among them.” This is a professing that brings conviction; words are but as speaking with tongues, that work not out the glory of Christ. 2dly. Thereby we bear witness unto what sort of kingdom it is that Christ hath in the world, and what a kind of king he is. I cannot but fear that our talking of the kingdom of Christ, and managing our notions of it (at least in the world’s apprehensions) to carnal advantages, hath been a notable hinderance of the coming of it forth in beauty and glory amongst us. Every party talks of the kingdom of Christ, some more, some less, — all pretend unto it; but it is evident that many would set him on his throne with the petition of Zebedee’s children in their mouths, — that they may sit on his right hand and his left. Hence the world doth really persuade itself, and is hardened every day in that persuasion, that, whatever is pretended of Christ, it is self-interest that carries all before it; and that men do entertain that notion for the promotion of self-ends. But now this design of abounding in real holiness sets up the pure, unmixed interest of Christ, and casts a conviction upon the world to that purpose. When the world may read in our lives that the kingdom we look for, though it be in this world, yet it is not indeed of this world, but is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, — this bring that honor to Christ wherein he is delighted, and the ignorance of foolish men is put to silence. 3dly. This brings honor unto Christ, and glorifies him in all the vengeance that he executes on his enemies, and all the care that he takes of his own.

    The world itself is hereby made to see that there is a real difference, indeed, in them between whom Christ puts a difference, and is convinced of the righteousness of his judgments. Every one may answer them when they inquire the reason of the dispensations amongst us, yea, they may answer themselves, “The LORD hath done great things for these, even these that serve him.”

    SERMON 14.

    THE SIN AND JUDGMENT OF SPIRITUAL BARRENNESS, “But the miry places thereof, and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.” — Ezekiel 47:11.

    This prophecy contains a vision of the glorious, holy, gospel state of the church, under the representation of a most glorious temple, incomparably excelling that built of old by Solomon; an exposition whereof we have, Corinthians 3:6-8, etc.

    The beginning of this chapter sets out the way and means of the calling and gathering of gospel churches, whose worship is to be so glorious; and this is under a vision of “waters issuing out of the sanctuary,” to heal and quicken all places to which they come.

    By the waters here mentioned is the preaching of the gospel intended. And we may observe of them, first, Their rise, which was from the sanctuary; secondly, Their progress, — they increased until they became a river that none could pass over; thirdly, Their effects or efficacy, — they healed all waters where they came, and quickened, or caused to live, the fishes that were in them.

    I must not long insist on these particulars.

    First. The house, or temple, from whence these waters issue, may be taken two ways: — 1. Mystically, to denote only the presence of God. God dwelt in his temple; thence come these waters — from his presence. He sends out the word of the gospel for the conversion and healing of the nations, <19B002> Psalm 110:2. Or, — 2. Figuratively; and that either for the place where the temple of old stood (that is, Jerusalem), as the preaching of the gospel was to go forth from Jerusalem, and the sound of it from thence to proceed unto all the world, as Isaiah 41:27, 52:7; Acts 1:4,8; or for the church of Christ and his apostles, the first glorious, spiritual temple unto God, whence these waters issued.

    Secondly. Their progress; which is described by degrees, it being at first small, — few men preaching it, and to a few, — but afterward increasing until it filled the whole earth.

    Thirdly. The effects mentioned or ascribed unto these waters are two, — quickening and healing; which I shall not in general speak farther unto, because I shall do it in the opening of my text.

    In the words of the text you have the state and condition of those places whither the waters of the sanctuary do come, and the effects before ascribed unto them are not produced; for so the words are to be read, — they “shall not be healed.”

    We have here a description of some lands or places whereunto the holy waters do come. First, They are “miry and marshy places;” secondly, The event of the waters coming to them, — they are “not healed;” thirdly, The consequent of that event, — they are “given unto salt.”

    I shall in a few words lay open the allegory, or parable, unto you.

    First. By the waters of the sanctuary, I told you, is meant the preaching of the gospel, — that quickening and healing word which the Lord sends out to gather his church unto himself all the world over, to call his saints to that glorious, gospel, spiritual worship, which is here described in this vision of a temple.

    Secondly. The “miry and marshy places” where these waters come, are such where persons cleave inseparably and incurably to their lusts and sins, so that they are not healed by the word. The healing word of the gospel comes, but they receive it not; the water flows over them, they drink it not in, — are not quickened nor healed by it.

    Thirdly. To be “given unto salt,” is to be left unto barrenness, Deuteronomy 29:23; Judges 9:45; Jeremiah 17:6.

    The figurative sense of the passage thus explained will afford us the following observations: — Observation I. God is pleased oftentimes to send the waters of the sanctuary to “miry and marshy places,” that “shall never be healed” by them, nor made fruitful; — or, God, in his infinite wisdom, is pleased to send the preaching of the word unto some places wherein it shall not put forth its quickening and sanctifying power and virtue upon the souls of them that hear it.

    II. All places in the world are barren, unsound, and unhealthy, before the coming of the waters of the sanctuary upon them; — or, the souls of all men are spiritually dead and full of woeful distempers, until they are quickened and healed by the dispensation of the gospel. The word must come and heal them.

    III. The waters of the sanctuary are healing waters; — or, the word of the gospel is in its own nature a quickening, healing, sanctifying, saving word, to them who receive it.

    IV. Where the waters of the sanctuary come, and the land is not healed, that land is given up of the Lord to salt or barrenness for ever; — or, where the word of the gospel is, by the infinitely wise disposal of God, preached unto a place or persons, and they receive it not so as to have their sinful distempers healed by it, they are usually, after a season, given up, by the righteous judgment of God, unto barrenness and everlasting ruin.

    It is this last proposition, as that which is the direct design and scope of the place, that I intend to insist principally upon. But yet I shall speak somewhat to the former.

    I. God is pleased oftentimes, in his infinite wisdom, to send the preaching of the word unto some places wherein it shall not put forth its quickening and sanctifying power and virtue upon the souls of them that hear it.

    The whole Scripture, and whole story of the providence of God in sending the gospel abroad in the world, bears witness to this truth. It was his way from the foundation of the world, and continueth to this very day. Hence was that complaint of the prophet, Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Loud revealed?” — the gospel is preached to them that believe not the report thereof; — and chapter 49:4, “Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought.”

    But we need no greater instance nor any other than that of our Savior, who spent the greatest part of his ministry in preaching to them who were never healed, — never converted nor sanctified by his word. That account he gives of his work, Matthew 11:21-24, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!” etc.

    Now, though there be no searching into the depths of the counsels of God, yet there appear many reasons wherein his wisdom in this dispensation doth shine forth; as, — 1. He doth it principally because, in those places where the word is rejected by the generality of the people, yet there may be some secret, poor souls belonging to the election of grace, whom God will have gathered and called home to himself. So for their sakes, though in the world they are taken no notice of, the word shall be preached unto multitudes. Amos 9:9, “I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” The grains of Israel must be preserved through all the nations of the earth, that not one grain may be lost. Thus Paul preaches the gospel at Philippi, Acts 16:12,13. And what entertainment meets it withal? He and his companion are taken and beaten, and cast into prison sore hurt and wounded; verses 22, 23. Why, then, was it that the gospel must be preached there? Why, there was a stranger come to that town, a poor woman, one Lydia, that dwelt at Thyatira, and she was to be converted, and brought home to God, verse 14. So at Athens, chapter 17:34. And the apostle affirms that he “endured all things for the elect’s sakes,” 2 Timothy 2:10. Here and there a poor despised person is designed to be called. 2. God doth it for a testimony against them that receive it not, and to leave them inexcusable at the last day. Mark 6:11, “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.”

    The word is to be preached, and witness, as it were, is to be taken upon it that it was preached, that men may be left without excuse at the last day.

    As our Savior pleads concerning his own preaching to the Pharisees, John 15:22, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.”

    God will cause men to be without excuse, by that tender of mercy which is made unto them in the gospel. It shall be for a testimony against them at the last day.

    Use. Let not men boast themselves in the outward enjoyment of the word, nor rest themselves in it. It were well, indeed, if all were believers to whom the word is preached, — if all lands were healed where the waters of the sanctuary come; but the Holy Ghost tells us they are not so, Hebrews 4:2, “The word preached did not profit them.” Capernaum was “exalted unto heaven,” in the use of means; but “brought down to hell” for the neglect of them. Let men look to themselves; God hath various ends in sending the gospel. The Lord knows what will be the end of England’s enjoying the gospel so long as it hath done. Sad symptoms appear of a tremendous issue. But I shall speak of this afterward.

    II. The souls of all men are spiritually dead, and full of woeful distempers, until they are quickened and healed by the dispensation of the gospel.

    The waters of the sanctuary must come, to quicken them and heal them.

    They are distempered, therefore, and woefully disordered, before the coming of these waters. So the apostle informs us, Titus 3:5, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

    Before the gospel grace comes to heal and cleanse them, this is the state and condition of men; as it is more largely described by the apostle, Romans 1:18 to the end.

    I shall not stay to mention all the particular distempers that rage in some, and that rule and reign in all before the coming of the gospel; as darkness, blindness, ignorance, worldly-mindedness, sensuality, hatred of God, envy, and malice, which are fixed in the souls of men by presumption and self-righteousness. There is nothing in them of spiritual life or holiness, of purity or zeal, — nothing that is acceptable or pleasing unto God. But to set forth this to the utmost, were to describe the whole natural condition of men, — which is not my present work; and therefore I shall not farther insist on it.

    III. The word of the gospel is in its own nature a quickening, healing, sanctifying, saving word, to them who receive it.

    They [the waters of the sanctuary] bring Christ along with them, the great physician of souls, who alone is able to cure a sin-sick soul. They bring mercy with them to pardon sinners, that “the inhabitants of the land may no more say they are sick, having their sins forgiven them,” Isaiah 33:24. They bring grace with them to cure all the distempers of lusts, Isaiah 11:5-7; Titus 2:11,12.

    These things I have only touched upon, and proceed now to the fourth observation, on which I chiefly proposed to insist.

    IV. Where the waters of the sanctuary come, and the land is not healed, that land is given up of the Lord to salt and barrenness for ever; — or, where the word of the gospel is preached unto a place, or persons, and they receive it not so as to have their sinful distempers healed by it, they are given up by the righteous judgment of God unto barrenness and everlasting ruin.

    To clear this proposition I shall show, — 1. What I mean by the coming of the waters of the sanctuary, or the preaching of the gospel, to a place or persons; 2. What by healing their sinful distempers; 3. What by being given up to barrenness and ruin. 1. By the coming of the healing waters of the sanctuary, I intend not the occasional preaching of a sermon, although this be sufficient to justify God in the rejection of any person or people. In the first preaching of the gospel, the refusal of one sermon lost many their souls unto all eternity.

    When the Lord Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the tidings of everlasting peace, he commanded them to pass through the towns, cities, and villages, and to offer them peace and mercy in the word of truth; which if they received not, they were to shake off the dust of their feet against them, Matthew 10:12-15; Luke 10:8-12. But O the unspeakable patience of Christ to many in the world, where the word is continued ofttimes for a very long season, and the salvation tendered therein despised! But this is that which I intend as the rule of the dispensation mentioned, — namely, when God by his providence doth cause the word to be preached for some continuance, and to the revelation of his whole counsel; as Paul affirmed himself to have done at Ephesus, Acts 20:27, where he had abode above a year.

    Nor do I mean any waters, but the waters of the sanctuary; not any preaching, but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ: which Paul affirms to be his work, Ephesians 3:8. All waters are not the waters of the sanctuary; all preaching is not the preaching of the sanctuary. There is preaching in the world wherein God and the souls of men are no more concerned than in an oration of an ancient heathen. Many undertake to be preachers who never “stood in the counsel of God,” as he complains, Jeremiah 23:22, who never received of the Spirit of Christ, nor knew his mind, — blind leaders of the blind. The children of Zion are promised, under the gospel, that “they shall be all taught of God.” And we have men undertaking to be teachers of them, who never learned any thing of Christ; — a wicked generation of soul-murderers, for which cursed work they every day invent new engines, — whom the Lord’s soul abhors. See their condition and portion, Ezekiel 34:3,4, etc. I mean, therefore, a dispensation of the word according to the mind of Christ, — the due unfolding of the mystery of the gospel. This is the coming I intend. 2. What is meant by their sinful distempers not being healed? Look what the waters of the sanctuary come to do: if that be not effected, they are not healed.

    Now, there are two effects here ascribed unto the waters of the sanctuary: — (1.) They quicken and give new life, verse 9. A natural life they had before, but these give them another life. (2.) Healing, as the waters of Jericho by Elisha, 2 Kings 2:21. Where these effects are not produced, that is the condition described, that is the state of these” miry and marshy places,” — they are not healed: — (1.) Men are not quickened; they receive not a new spiritual life; they are not so brought to the knowledge of God. It is not enough that men have their affections wrought upon, or their lives in some measure reformed; — unless they are quickened, unless they receive a new spiritual life by the word, they are as the unhealed places, over which the curse here mentioned hangs. (2.) The healing of these quickened souls consists in the curing and mortifying of their sinful distempers. This follows the other. Where there is life, there will be healing. Let not men pretend that they live spiritually, if their lusts be not healed. If men are proud, worldly, sensual, they are dead also; there is no effect of the waters of the sanctuary upon them. If men are not made holy, humble, believing, zealous, if they receive not the spirit of prayer and faith, they are not healed.

    This is the condition of the “miry and marshy places” here mentioned: — God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, causeth the gospel to be dispensed among a people, to be preached, where they do, or may, and ought to attend unto it; but they are not converted by the word, not sanctified by it, but continue in their old state and condition. He that was filthy is filthy still; he that was unrighteous is so still; — he that was in the mire of the world and sin is so still. 3. What is the lot and portion of such persons? Why, “they shall be given to salt;” that is, as I have showed, to barrenness, fruitlessness, unprofitableness, and eternal ruin.

    This is the meaning of the proposition; and it is a dreadful word, which yet is true, and will prove so at the last day. Woe to the “miry and marshy places” of the world! woe to the persons and places to whom [and to which] the waters of the sanctuary have come and they are not healed!

    I shall not need to insist much on the proof of the proposition, the Scripture so abounds with testimonies of it. But I shall do these three things: — 1. Name some places that plainly speak the same truth; 2. Show the degrees in which God proceeds usually in this great work, in giving up unprofitable hearers to ruin; and, 3. Give the grounds of it: — 1. For other Scriptures which assert the same truth, take Proverbs 1:25-31, “But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices;” — Proverbs 29:1, “He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy;” — Luke 13:6, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none,” etc. So Hebrews 10:28-30; Corinthians 2:15, 16. 2. For the degrees of rejection, see Ezekiel 10:18, 11:23; Hebrews 6:8, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” They are first rejected, then cursed, and lastly burned. But, — 3. That which I shall principally insist upon, is to show the ways whereby God doth usually proceed in giving up such persons to barrenness, and so to everlasting ruin: — (1.) He casts them out of his care; — he will be at no more charge nor cost with them, nor about them. So, Hebrews 6:8, the land is ajdo>kimov , — “rejected;” the owner will take no more care or pains about such an unprofitable piece of land; he will till it no more, dress it no more, but leave it to its own barrenness. God is the great husbandman, John 15:1.

    When a miry place is not healed, he will cast it out of his husbandry. So Ezekiel 24:13, They have had their time and season, and “are not purged;” therefore “they shall be purged no more.” Jeremiah 6:29,30, “The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.

    Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them.”

    This the Lord Christ declares to be his way of proceeding with them, Zechariah 11:8,9, “My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.”

    A sad parting, the Lord knows! They give up Christ, — he gives up them; and their meeting will be infinitely more sad to them. Now, this the Lord doth several ways: — [1.] He will sometimes utterly remove the gospel from them; — turn the stream of the waters of the sanctuary, that they shall come to them no more. So he threatened the church at Ephesus of old, Revelation 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,” etc., “or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.”

    They shall have the light of the word no more; it shall be removed and taken from them. Ah! how ninny places lie under this woeful judgment of God at this day, — this sentence of being given up to salt for ever! Places there are in the world that have enjoyed the word at God’s appointed season, or, at least, the tender of it, and opportunity to enjoy it; but continuing unprofitable under it, what is now their state, and condition?

    God hath left them to that sore judgment, that they themselves should be made instrumental to cast out the word from amongst them; like the foolish woman, pulling down the house with their own hands: and so [they] have got darkness for a vision, and they that would not rejoice in the truth, and in the light, do now, through the tremendous judgment of God, triumph in darkness, and in a thing of nought.

    It is true, the gospel may be sometimes taken for a season from a people for their trial and exercise, and not penalty; — it may be driven from them, and not absolutely sinned away. Now, as the Lord hath many glorious ends in such a dispensation, so it may easily be known whether people have lost the gospel only for a season, in a way of trial; or penalty, as a beginning of their being given up to salt and barrenness. As, — 1st. They that are deprived for a season of gospel enjoyments for their trial and exercise, are sensible of the displeasure of God in that dispensation, and greatly humble themselves under his hand on that account. They say, as the church in Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me.”

    They look on this as the greatest calamity and trial that can befall them; whereas they that lose it penalty, are either very little concerned about it, or do greatly rejoice at it. The word tormented them, and they are glad they are freed from it. Revelation 11:10, “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”

    Some never rejoice more than when they are got quit of the gospel; and others are like Gallio. Now, when such as these have the word taken from them, and are no way sensible of the displeasure of the Lord in it, nor do humble themselves before him on that account, it is a certain evidence that God is giving them up unto a state of salt; that is, barrenness and eternal ruin. 2dly. They that are deprived of it for a season in a way of trial have no rest, but are earnest with the Lord for the return of it. 1 Samuel 7:2, The ark was gone; and though they had peace and plenty, and all things else in abundance, yet all will not satisfy them; the ark is absent, that pledge of God’s presence, and they lamented after him. So is it with these; — let them have peace, or liberty, or prosperity, all is one; if they have not the ark, — if they have not the gospel and ordinances of God, — they can take no rest, but are still lamenting after the Lord, still longing after the enjoyment of his word. David doth excellently express this frame of heart, Psalm 63:1,2, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”

    He was driven from the ordinances of God; the waters of the sanctuary came not to him. But now they from whom the word is taken penally are no way troubled about it, nor do long after it; they rejoice in what they have in the room of it, — are exceedingly well pleased without it. Let them have an increase of corn, and wine, and oil, — let them have their lusts and their sports, their formalities and follies, — they care not whether ever they hear of the word of the gospel any more. Such men are certainly entering into a condition of salt, of barrenness and ruin. 3dly. They who are deprived of the word for a season for their trial, have a high estimation and value of their mercy and privilege who enjoy it. They do not think the proud happy, nor envy at prosperous wickedness, nor bow in their hearts before the Hamans of the earth. But those they think blessed who enjoy the word, and the presence of God therein. This our Savior teaches them to esteem, Luke 11:28, “But he said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” David doth excellently set out this frame of heart, Psalm 84:4, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee. Selah.” “I am,” saith he, “a poor outcast, deprived of thy word and ordinances. O the blessed condition of those who enjoy them! Let them be what they will as to their outward state, they are in a blessed condition if they may dwell in thy house, — enjoy the privileges of the spiritual house of God and his worship, in the gospel.” This is the frame of such persons, — those only they esteem blessed who are refreshed with the waters of the sanctuary; but none are more despised by those from whom the gospel is judicially removed. It is the great, the mighty, the rich, the sensual, that they esteem blessed; for those others they esteem as the dirt or the mire.

    Now, hence it is that God may at the same time remove his gospel from a place, judicially from some, and by a way of trial from others, whereby these contrary effects are produced: — Some are humbled under the hand of the Lord, mourn after his presence, and account them blessed who enjoy his ordinances; — others triumph and rejoice in their condition, look upon it as good and blessed; at least, are little concerned in the dispensation that God is dealing with them in. And as the Lord doth good to the former by this exercise, preparing them also for farther mercies, in a greater estimation of his word, and profiting under it when enjoyed; so to the other, this is the entrance of their ruin; — they are cast out of the care of God, and you never see such a people afterward obtain mercy. [2.] God doth this sometimes though he causeth the word to be continued unto them, — by restraining the efficacy of it, that it shall not profit them.

    Men may have lived out their season that God hath given them to be healed in, and yet God have work to do in that place where they live; so that the word must be preached. Some poor souls amongst them are to be quickened or healed, called or edified; so that he will not turn away the course of these holy waters, but continue the dispensation of the gospel.

    But as for those who have withstood their season of healing, and are cast out of the care of God, God will so order things that the word shall have no power upon them. Now, though the righteous judgment of God have a hand in this matter, yet, by his permission, their own lusts are the immediate cause of it; as, — 1st. They shall have some prejudices against them by whom the gospel is dispensed in the power and purity of it, which shall keep them from attending unto or profiting by their message. So in the days of Ahab there were four hundred preachers that he had a mind to hear; but they were all false prophets, teachers of lies, idolatrous, and superstitious: only, there were two prophets of the Lord, Elijah the Tishbite, and Micaiah the son of Imlah; and both these he looked upon as his enemies, as persons not well affected unto him; so that he would believe nothing of what they preached.

    So of Elijah, 1 Kings 21:20; and of Micaiah, chapter 22:8. So shall it befall many whom God will leave to salt, because the season of their healing hath been withstood; — though the word be preached, they shall have prejudices against the dispensers of it, so that they shall not profit by them. And little do they think that these prejudices and hard thoughts are chains and fetters to keep them in unto the judgment of the great day.

    And of this nature also are other prejudices that men have. 2dly . He will suffer them to be unconquerably hardened in the love of some sin or lust, which shall keep off the power of the word from their hearts. So the ground here that is not healed is said to be “miry and marshy;” — such as hath a mixture of filth incorporated with it sufficient to repel all the virtue of the healing waters of the sanctuary. Thus we see men every day so furiously set upon their lusts, sports, and sensuality, that they hate, and are filled with madness and rage against, all that would persuade them to sobriety: much more doth the word of the gospel torment them, so that they rise with fury against it; and this keeps them from profiting by it. “They are given to salt.” 3dly . God withdraws the efficacy of his Spirit in the dispensation of the word, that it shall not have that strength and power on them as upon others. God sends his word towards his own in a way of covenant; and then it is always accompanied with his Spirit, Isaiah 59:21. And where God dealeth with men in covenant mercy, these go together. But now when he casts men out of his care, though the word may be preached to their ear, because of some others whom he yet cares for, yet he hath said concerning them, that his Spirit shall strive with them no more. And thence it is that the word makes no impression on them, — its healing virtue is as to, them withheld.

    And this is the first thing the Lord doth to such poor creatures as he leaves to salt, to barrenness, and ruin, for despising the season and means of their healing, — he casts them out of his care, as to the dispensation of the word.

    SERMON 15.

    WE shall now proceed to the uses.

    Use 1. Wonder not if you see a diversity of success in preaching of the word. Some receive it with joy; the most despise it as a thing of nought.

    Whence is this difference? Multitudes are rejected of God, — cast out of his care, — barren land; he will till them no more. A cursed state! Marvel not that many refuse to hear the word, that they love lies; they are given up of God to their hearts’ lusts. Marvel not that the word which they hear affects them no more; — the power of the Spirit is withheld from them.

    Multitudes are thus cast out of the care of God, and tokens of the plague are upon them. They like their condition, rejoice and triumph in it, think none so happy as themselves, and despise them that love the waters of the sanctuary: all which are tokens of this sore plague. Can they expel the gospel from any place? can they quench the light that is in it? can they triumph over the ways of God? — they suppose they have gotten a great victory. This is not an ordinary judgment: they are poor creatures, assuredly cast out of the care of God; “they are given to salt,” and it is a miracle of mercy if ever any of them be healed.

    Oh! it is a woeful thing to look on a place or persons that give evidences of their withstanding the season of their healing, as so many in this nation do!

    How was our Savior affected with it in reference to Jerusalem, Luke 19:41,42, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

    Oh! if we had but any measure of that pity and compassion which dwelt in his holy soul, how could we pass through towns and cities, and see and hear, and not mourn!

    Use 2. Take that advice of the prophet, Jeremiah 13:16, “Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.” (2.) The second thing that God doth, in giving up an unhealed land unto barrenness, is his judicial hardening of them, or leaving them to hardness and impenitency, that so they may fill up the measure of their sins. Hebrews 6:8, “That which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing.” When the care of God is once taken from them, they are nigh unto cursing. The next thing that God will do to them, is to curse them, as our Savior did the barren fig-tree.

    This woeful judgment is at large set forth, Isaiah 6:9,10, “And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” Isaiah was a gospel preacher; “Yet this,” saith God, “shall be the effect of thy preaching towards them that have withstood their season, and have not been healed by the word.” And John tells us that this very thing was accomplished when the gospel was preached by our Savior himself, John 12:40,41. And surely their condition is most woeful whom the preaching of the gospel hardeneth, — whom the only remedy destroys.

    Now, there are four things in this spiritual judgment that God sends upon unhealed souls, that have outlived their season of healing, more or less: — [1.] Blindness of mind and understanding. Their natural blindness and ignorance shall be increased and confirmed; and that by two ways: — 1st. God will send them a “spirit of slumber,” Romans 11:8; that is, a great inadvertency and negligence as to the things of the gospel that are spoken of or preached unto them. As men that slumber take little notice of what is spoken to them or about them; they hear a noise, and sometimes discern a little what is spoken, but not to any use or purpose: so is it with these persons on whom God doth judicially send this spirit of slumber; they hear the sound of the word, and sometimes, it may be, take notice of some one thing or other that is spoken; but to receive and understand the design of it, to ponder it and improve it, that they cannot do; — they are under a spiritual slumber. We may see multitudes in this condition every day. The word hath no life nor vigor towards them; they perceive not the mind of God in it; they understand it not.

    God hath given them a “spirit of slumber,” and they die under it. 2dly. God sends them a spirit of giddiness, causing them to err in their ways, Isaiah 19:14. We have a notable instance of this judgment of God, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. The waters of the sanctuary came unto them, and they were not healed; the gospel was preached unto them, but they withstood their season. They received not the love of the truth; they did not believe and obey, that they might be saved; — because they had pleasure in unrighteousness. How, then, doth God deal with them? Verse 11, He will send them a spirit of giddiness or delusion, that “they shall believe a lie,” — false doctrine, false worship, superstition, and idolatry.

    This they shall believe, and have pleasure in; which will have the fearful end mentioned, verse 12. And this judgment, as it is already come upon many, so it lies at the door, I fear, of the most. We see men every day that have for some years, it may be, enjoyed the preaching of the gospel; but not being healed, quickened, and sanctified by it, are now, with all greediness, given up to follow after fables on the one hand, or superstition on the other; — there is a spirit of giddiness from the Lord upon them.

    And by these means is the darkness of the minds of men increased when God is giving of them up to barrenness. [2.] Obstinacy in the will, or hardness of heart properly so called, is in this judgment of God also. God will give up unhealed persons to hardness of heart. So is it in that place of Isaiah, Isaiah 6:10: and it is the same with that which the apostle calls “a reprobate mind,” Romans 1:28; that is, a mind and heart that is good for nothing with regard to spiritual things, — profligate, and altogether insensible of them. And when this befalls any, they will openly despise the word, and cast it off, using one foolish pretense or other for their so doing; as Jeremiah 44:16, with 43:2. Such persons, whenever the word is preached unto them, and it lies cross to their carnal imaginations or sensual affections, lusts, or sports, rise up in their hearts with contempt, and rage against it. Sometimes they will color their wickedness in their hearts by some pretense or other: “This is the way, the humor, the singularity, of the preacher.” Or sometimes their rage will carry them directly out against the word, without any color or pretense, but because it displeaseth them. Or if they fall not thus into pride and rage (which usually is occasioned by their temptations), they grow utterly senseless, and stupid, and unconcerned in the things of God.

    Let the word thunder from heaven against their sins, they regard it not; let the still small voice of the gospel persuade them unto reconciliation, they attend not unto it; let the judgments of God be abroad in the world, if they escape themselves they are not concerned about them. Do they reach their own persons, they have wrath, and anger, and vexation; but they cannot repent or turn to the Lord. This is, apparently, the condition of most in the world. [3.] Sensuality of affections is in this judgment also, Romans 1:26, “He gave them up to vile affections;” that is, to place their affections on vile, sensual things. Unhealed persons shall do so. Our streets, ale-houses, and many other places, are full of such whose affections are fixed with madness on vile things; and they please themselves in them, little thinking that this is part of the judgment whereunto they are given up of God for their unprofitableness under the word, — for their not being healed by the waters of the sanctuary. [4.] Searedness of conscience. 1 Timothy 4:2, “Having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Ephesians 4:19, “Being past feeling.” Whatever sin they commit, or condition they fall into, conscience shall no more discharge its duty in them and towards them.

    And this is the second thing that God will do towards such unhealed persons. (3.) The third thing considerable is the event of this dealing of God with them, or what is meant by this land’s becoming salt.

    Two things, as I have showed before, are hereby intended: — [1.] Barrenness in this world; [2.] Eternal ruin in the world to come: — [1.] Barrenness. They shall never bear any fruit to God. This was the curse that our Savior gave to the fig-tree, “Never fruit grow on thee.” Man was made to bear fruit unto God; — this is all he came into the world for.

    Now, when God shall say to any, “Go your ways; you shall never do any thing more for me whilst you live in this world; you shall never bear any fruit to me;” — what sorer judgment can any man possibly fall under? I might show you the misery of this condition in many particulars. “Israel is an empty vine,” Hosea 10:1. [2.] Eternal ruin, and that irreparable. Proverbs 29:1, “He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” John 15:6, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” 2 Thessalonians 2:12, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Hebrews 6:8, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

    This is the certain event of that land that is left unto salt, because not healed; and of those persons who, having passed over their season of quickening and sanctifying by the word, are given up to barrenness and ruin. It will do neither me nor you good to flatter you, and to put you into any better hope than your condition will admit of. See Ezekiel 33:8, “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand.”

    This will be the end of the one and the other, when that course is taken.

    Did I not see the tokens of this judgment of God abroad in the world, I would not thus insist upon it as I do.

    Use 1. Of exhortation. Make use of your season, that you fall not under this sore and inexpressible judgment. God gives men a season, a space to repent in, Revelation 2:21. This space and season, as I have showed you before, is not ofttimes all the while that the gospel is preached unto you.

    The word may be preached, and yet its efficacy wholly restrained from you, and that because your time and season is gone. And so it comes to pass daily; and you know not how soon it may be your lot and portion, and you perceive it not. Therefore is the apostle so earnest in exhorting men to make use of their day, before their season be gone, Hebrews 3:12,13, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

    As if he should say, “Take heed to yourselves; stir up yourselves: for if your day be once passed over, you are then gone for ever; it will then be too late for you to look out after mercy.” And so again., 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Now is the day, now is the time.” If you stand in need of any commodity that can be had but at one fair, — that day, that season you will not neglect. You stand in need, I am sure, of grace, mercy, pardon, Christ, life, — salvation; there is only this day, this season, for you to obtain it in. O that you would be persuaded to look out after it before it be hidden from you! See Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” So the same apostle again, Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” Use all diligence in this matter.

    To excite you a little to this, consider, — (1.) That if you are not healed during your season, you can never be healed. If the gospel cure you not, you must die in your sins. Men are greatly mistaken, when they flatter themselves that it can never be too late for them in this world, — there is time enough whilst they are alive. Alas! you have but your season; and that may be over with you many days before you leave the world, yea, many years. We have everywhere ground evidently “left to salt,” though yet not burned up. Use your day. (2.) You know not how your day is going away, nor when it will be over.

    The traveler on the road, that hath a journey to go, knows how to order his affairs. “It is,” saith he, “so many hours to night, and I have time enough before me;” — so doth the laboring man also: but, alas! it is not so with you; you know not how soon your day may be over. I speak not of your lives, which, the Lord knows, are uncertain; but the day of the gospel may be over whilst the day of your lives continue. Nor can you be certain of the day of the preaching of the word; but your day, and your season in it, may come to an end this day, or this night, for aught that you or I know: so that your concernment is unspeakably great in the proposal that is made unto you. Remember the virgins that were shut out, and their cry at midnight!

    You will say, then, “What shall we do to know when it is our season, that we may apply our hearts unto this exhortation?”

    I answer, The Lord alone, who is the searcher of all hearts, knows how it is with you, and whether you have not any of you in particular outstood your opportunity. I can only tell you what is a gospel season; which you are to take care that you may have a share and interest in: — [1.] It is required that the gospel be preached in the power and purity of it.

    This in general makes “the acceptable day, the time of salvation.” And if there be nothing else concurring, this is enough to let a people or person know that the day of the Lord is come upon them, — that the waters of the sanctuary are come unto them. Now, consider with yourselves, whether the gospel be preached unto you or not, or whether you may not or might not have it so preached unto you, or enjoy the dispensation of it, did you but discharge your duty. If it be so, this is one evidence that it is yet your day. [2.] It is a special season when providential calls do join in with and further gospel calls; — when God causes the gospel to be dispensed unto a people, and at the same time puts forth some acts of his providence, that are suited to awaken men to the consideration of their state and condition, then is the season of that people. I shall not go over the several providential calls that have been upon us to inquire after the ways of God.

    Are all the alterations that have been amongst us, discovering the great uncertainty of all things that are here below, no call? Was there no call in the great unseasonableness of the year? — no call in the danger of the loss of the gospel, which seems to stand ready for its flight from you? — the great uncertainty how long you may enjoy these waters of the sanctuary?

    It is certain, that if you have not neglected already your season, your day of grace, you are now under the time that you are to be tried in. [3.] Then is the season, when God moves, [as he does] at some seasons, more effectually upon your hearts and spirits in the dispensation of the word than at other times. This you alone can give an account of; — you only know how it is with you. You can tell whether you have not been moved by the word more than formerly, or convinced by it; whether you have not had purposes of amendment and reformation wrought in you by it; whether you have not been caused to love it more than you have done formerly; whether it hath not begotten at times resolutions in you to try for life and immortality. If it have not, it is much to be feared lest the Lord is leaving of you to salt, — to an estate of perishing and everlasting ruin.

    But if you have had such effects wrought in you, know of a certain that the kingdom of God hath come unto you; and if you withstand your opportunity, you are gone and undone for ever, unless you make thorough work before this dispensation be overpast. [4.] When you see others about you earnest after the word, this is God’s call and ordinance unto you to look to your own condition.

    If now, by any of these means, you come to know that the day of the Lord and the season of your healing is upon you, oh, that you would be prevailed with to be wise for your own souls, and to close with the word of the gospel before the things of your peace be hidden from your eyes!

    I thought, in the next place, to have given you the signs of a departing gospel-day, and evidences of men’s having outlived their season, and being given up to salt and barrenness; but for some reasons forbear.

    Use 2. To discover the miserable condition of poor creatures that, having not in their season been healed by the waters of the sanctuary, are given up of the Lord to salt and barrennes. No heart can conceive, nor tongue, express, the misery of such poor creatures. Let me only mention some particulars: — (1.) They know not that they are so miserable. They perceive not, they understand not, the sore judgment that they are under. Do but their heads ache, or are they sick of an ague, they feel it presently, and seek out for remedies; but in this case the curse of God is upon them, and they do not at all perceive it, and so seek not out for relief. Hosea 7:9, “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.”

    They are nigh to ruin, to destruction, and perceive it not: they take no notice of the misery that is at hand ready to devour them; or if at any time they begin so to do, they shift off the thought of it, which is a great part of their misery. (2.) They are pleased with the condition in which they are; “they cry, Peace and safety, when sudden destruction is at hand,” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. They please themselves in their condition, when the vengeance of the Lord is ready to seize upon them. Is the gospel removed from them, and the streams of the sanctuary turned away? — They are so far from being troubled at it, that they rejoice in it, as hath been declared; they think they may now follow their lusts freely, and do whatever seems good unto themselves; they despise others and bless themselves, as if all were well with them. Or is the word yet continued, but they left to senselessness and salt under it? — They are pleased with their estate, wonder at those who are troubled under the word, and exceedingly despise them. All is well with themselves; and some of them are ready to deride all others that are under the work of the Lord. On this account it is that they do not, will not, look out for relief or healing. (3.) No man can help or relieve them. Men may pity them, but they cannot help them. All the world cannot pull a poor creature out from under the curse of the great God. (4.) Their eternal ruin is certain, as before proved. (5.) This ruin is very sore on gospel despisers.

    SERMON 16. F13 HUMAN POWER DEFEATED. “The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep; and none of the men of might have found their hands. — Psalm 76:5.

    THE common circumstances of this psalm, concerning the penman, title, and the like, I shall not at all inquire after. The time of its being given to the church is alone to us considerable; and yet all the knowledge thereof, also, is but conjectural. What particular time it was wherein it was given we know not; but that it was given for the use of all times, that we know.

    Probable it is, from verse 3, that it was established as a monument of praise in the days of Hezekiah, when, by the immediate hand of God, Jerusalem was delivered from the army of Sennacherib. For a return of which mercy though good Hezekiah came short of the obligation laid on him, rendering not again according to the benefit done unto him, yet the Lord himself takes care for his own glory, setting forth this psalm as a monument of the praise due to his name unto all generations.

    The deliverance of Jerusalem, then, from so great ruin as that impending over it from the threatening army of Sennacherib under their walls, being the occasion of penning this psalm, it cannot but yield us a meet foundation of making mention of the name of the Lord in a suitable work this day.

    In general the whole is eucharistical, and hath two parts: — first, Narratory, concerning the work of God for his people; secondly, Laudatory, or the praise of his people for those works.

    The first part hath three particulars: — 1. An exordium, by way of exultation and rejoicing, verses 1, 2. 2. A special narration of the work of God, for which the praise of the whole is intended, verses 3, 5, 6. 3. An apostrophe to the Lord concerning the one and the other, verse 4.

    The latter containeth, — 1. A doctrinal observation for the use of the church, from the whole, verse 7. 2. The reasons and confirmation of the doctrine so laid down, taken from the power and righteousness of God in the actions recounted, verses 8, 9. 3. A threefold use of the doctrine so confirmed: — of instruction, verse 10; of exhortation, verse 11; of establishment and consolation, verse 12.

    The particulars, preceding my text I shall a little touch upon, that the mind of the Holy Ghost therein may be the more clear unto you, and the doctrine from thence appear with the greater evidence: — 1. In the exordium, verses 1, 2, you have two things: — (1.) The names of the place wherein the work mentioned was wrought and the praise returned held forth; — and these are, Judah, Israel, Salem, Zion. (2.) The relation of God unto this place, which lies at the bottom of the work he did for them and the praise they returned unto him. He was known, his name was great amongst them; there was his tabernacle and his dwelling-place: which may be referred to two heads. — the knowledge of his will, verse 1; and the establishment of his worship, verse 2. (1.) For the description of the place, by its several names titles, I shall not insist upon it; they are all but various expressions of the same thing. It is the church of God that is adorned with all these titles and names of singular endearment: — Judah, that single tribe of which the Messiah was to come; Israel, a prevailing people, the posterity of him that prevailed with God; Salem, the place he chose above all the places of the earth to settle his name therein; and Zion, the choice ornament of that Salem, — a model wherein the beauty and excellency of all the other are contracted, whose gates were then so dear unto the Lord. Or perhaps you have the distribution of the whole into its several parts; — Judah, the governing tribe; Israel, the body of the people; Salem, the chief place of their residence and glory; and Zion, the presence of God in his worship amongst them all. Now, the mention of these titles of the church, so dear to the Lord, doth front the following narration, to afford us this observation: — Observation. The care of Salem, of Zion, lies at the bottom of all God’s powerful actings and workings among the sons of men. Every mighty work of God throughout the world may be prefaced with these two verses. The whole course of affairs in the world is steered by Providence in reference to the good of Salem. Zion hath been the rise and downfall of all the powers of the world; it is her deliverance or trial that is intended in their raising, and her recompense and vengeance in their ruin. God works not among the nations for their own sakes.

    When they are sifted with a sieve, they are but the chaff; Israel is the corn for whose sake it is done: whereof not the least grain shall fall to the ground, Amos 9:9. She is precious in God’s sight and honorable; he loves her: therefore he giveth men for her, and people for her life, Isaiah 43:4. The men of the world are very apt to pride themselves in their thoughts, as though great were their share and interest in the glorious things that God is accomplishing; like a fly that sat on the chariot wheel, and cried, “What a dust have I raised round about!” The truth is, their names are written in the dust, and they are of no account in the eyes of the Lord in all he is accomplishing, but only to exalt his name in their miscarriage and destruction. Was it not in the thoughts of some lately amongst us, that their right hand had accomplished the work of the Lord, and that the end of it must be the satisfaction of their lusts? And hath not the Lord declared that they have neither part nor lot in this matter? It was Salem, not self, — Zion, not Babylon or confusion, that lay at the bottom of the whole. (2.) There is a relation of God unto this place. His will was known there, verse 1; and his worship was established, verse 2. And these also have their particular mention.

    Observation. In the deliverance of his people, God hath a special regard to the honor of his ordinances. Why so great things for Salem?

    Why, there his word is preached, whereby his will is known and his name made great; — there his tabernacle is fixed, and his dwelling-place established; — there he gives his presence in his worship and ordinances, wherein he is delighted. “Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee,” Psalm 68:29. Here is the temple, Christ, and then, the worship of Christ: for their sake it shall be done. When vengeance is recompensed upon an opposing people, it is the vengeance of the temple, Jeremiah 50:28. And it is a voice from thence that rendereth recompense to his enemies, Isaiah 66:6. The great work which the Lord at this day is accomplishing in the world looks fully on this one thing. Wherefore is it that God shaketh the powers of this world, and causeth the towers to totter which they uphold? Is it not that the way of his worship may be vindicated from all their abominations, and vengeance taken upon them for their opposition thereunto? And there is no greater sign of God’s care for a people, than when he shows a regard to his ordinances among that people. The defence he gives is of the glory of the assemblies of mount Zion, Isaiah 4:5. When the ark departs, you may call the children, “Ichabod.” The taking away of his candlestick, the removal of his glory from the temple, is an assured prologue to the utter ruin of a people.

    And hath not the Lord had a special eye this way in the late deliverance? It is his promise, that he will purge the rebels from amongst his people. And he hath done it. Were there not children of Edom amongst them, who cried, “Down with them, down with them even to the ground”? Hath not God magnified his despised word above all his name? Was it not as an offscouring to many particular persons among them in the late murmuring for pre-eminence against those whom the Lord hath chosen? — who, I suppose, have no other joy in their employment than Moses had in his, who once desired the Lord to slay him, that he might be freed from his burden. Only the will of the Lord and the good of a poor thankless people swayed their hearts unto it. And were there here any more discriminating rods cast in before the Lord, to have that bud and spring which he owned (as Numbers 17) than this one: Scripture, or no Scripture? solemn worship, or none at all? I speak only as to some particulars, and that I can upon my own experience. The Lord give their hearts a free discovery of his thoughts in this business! Doubtless he hath had respect to his tabernacle and dwelling-place. For my part, they are to me as the Theban shield; and, notwithstanding all my pressures, I would labor to say, as Mephibosheth, “Let all go, since I see the king in peace.”

    I might farther observe, from both these things together, that among the people of God alone is the residence of his glorious presence. This song is held out from Zion. “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory,’ Psalm 29:9. “Bless ye God in the congregations, the LORD, from the fountain of Israel,” Psalm 68:26. “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion,” Psalm 65:1. As a lame leg, and as a thorn in the hand, ungraceful, painful, “so is a parable in the mouth of fools,” Proverbs 26:7,9. It is the saints who are bid to be joyful in the Lord; and the high praises of God must be in their mouths, <19E905> Psalm 149:5,6. They are high things that beseem only those whom God doth magnify. If the Lord give us matter of praise, pray know from whom it will be acceptable, — whose praises they are he delighteth to inhabit. If you have some defiling lust, the sunshine of mercies will exhale nothing but the offensive steam of carnal affections.

    The sacrifices of wicked hearts are an abomination to the Lord. If your fleshly affections work this day, without the beatings of a pure heart, and the language of a pure lip, the Lord will reject your oblations. Would you have your praise as sweet to the Lord as a mercy is to you? — be assured that in Christ you are the Israel of God, and your prayers shall prevail, your praise shall be accepted. 2. The second particular, as I observed, is a special narration of the works of God, for which the whole is intended, verses 3, 5, 6. And therein you have these two things: — (1.) The place where these acts were wrought and are remembered, “There,” verse 3; (2.) The acts themselves related; which refer, — [1.] To God the worker, verse 3, “He brake;” [2.] To the persons on whom they were wrought, verses 5, 6. (1.) The place where these things were acted and the monuments of them erected, — that is, “There;” there, in Salem and Zion, Judah and Israel; there, not so much in those places, as with reference unto them.

    Observation. All the mighty actings of God regard his church; and there are the monuments and trophies of his victories against his enemies erected. To the first part of this I spake before. A word for the latter: — God decketh and maketh Zion glorious with the spoils of his adversaries. There the glory of Pharaoh and all his host, drowned in the Red sea, is dedicated, Exodus 15; there are the shields of all the mighty men in the host of Sennacherib, slain by an angel, hung up, Isaiah 37:35,36; there is the honor, the robes, the crown, and the reason of Nebuchadnezzar laid up, for the glory of Zion, Daniel 4:33,34, himself being changed into a beast; there is all the pomp and glory of Herod deposited, Acts 12:23, when, as a reward of his pride and persecution, he was devoured of worms; there is the glory of all persecutors, with the blood of Julian in a special manner, who threw it into the air, and cried, “Vicisti Galilaee;” there Haman is visibly exalted upon the gallows by himself erected for the ruin of a prince of the people, Esther 7:10; there the peace and the joy of the church, their choice frame under the bloody massacres of the inhabitants of Zion, is set to show, for the glory of it; there all the rochets of popish prelates, the crowns, and glory, and thrones of the kings of the earth, — all set apart as monuments and trophies of God’s victories in Zion; there is a place reserved for the man of sin, and all the kings of the earth who have committed fornication with the mother of harlots, whose destruction sleepeth not. God will at length certainly glorify Salem with the arrow of the bow, the shield, the sword, and all spoils of its oppressors. (2.) There is what he did describe, both immediately in the actions themselves, verse 3, and with reference to the persons towards whom he so acted, verse 5. Now, because the former is fully contained in the latter, I shall not handle it apart, but descend immediately to the consideration of the words of my text, being a declaration of what the Lord hath done for his people in the day of their distress, with particular reference to the cause of that distress.

    And here we shall look a little, — 1. To the reading of the words; and, 2. To their explication: — 1. To the reading: The “stout-hearted;” or, the “strong in heart,” the “mighty in heart,” (so in the original;) — men of stout, stubborn, unpersuadable hearts and courage, whose epithet is, that they are “far from righteousness,” Isaiah 46:12. The Septuagint have rendered it, ajsu>netoi th~| kardi>a| , — “the, foolish in heart.” Stubborn-hearted men are foolish-hearted men: not to yield unto, is worse than not to understand, what is good. They “are spoiled, — Wll]wOTv]a, , have yielded themselves to the spoil.” So properly, and so rendered by most interpreters; which sense I shall follow. “They have slept their sleep,” — Wmn; , “dormitarunt,” “They have slumbered their sleep.” What it is “to slumber a sleep” we shall see afterward. The residue of the words are literally rendered, save only in the placing of the negation; for whereas we set it on the persons, “none of the men,” in the original it is upon the act, “have not found;” affirming concerning the persons, “all the men of might have not,” — that is, “none of the men of might have:” a very frequent Hebraism, imitated by John, 1 John 3:15, Pa~v ajnqrwpokto>nov oujk e]cei zwhlife, — that is, “none hath.”

    And so you have the words, “The stout of heart have yielded themselves to the spoil, they have slumbered their sleep; and none of the men of might have found their hands.” 2. The words thus read contain three general heads: — (1.) A twofold description of the enemies of Salem: — [1.] In respect of their internal affections: they were “stout of heart,” men of high spirit and haughty courage, “cedere nescientes,” not knowing how to yield to any thing but the dictates of their own proud spirits. [2.] In respect of their power for outward acting: “Men of might;” strong of hand, as well as stout of heart. Courage without strength will but betray its possessor; and strength without courage is but “inutile pondus,” — a burdensome nothing: but when both meet, — a stout heart and strong hands, — who shall stand before them? Thus you have the enemies set out like Goliath, with his spear and helmet, defying the host of the living God. (2.) You have a twofold issue of God’s providence in dealing with them, suitably to this their double qualification: — [1.] He opposeth himself to the stoutness of their hearts, and they “yield themselves to the spoil.” Where observe, first, The act itself: they “yield themselves.” Nothing in the world so contrary to a stout heart as to yield itself. To yield, is a thing of the greatest distance and contrariety to the principle of a stout heart in the world: it is far more reconcilable to death than yielding. But this God will effect. Secondly, The extent of this yielding: it was “to the spoil.” This exceedingly heightens the mighty working of the Lord against them. Should they be brought to yield to reason, persuasion, and union, it were well; but that they should be so prevailed on as to yield to the spoil, — that is, to the mercy of those against whom they rose and opposed themselves, — this is “digitus Dei.” [2.] He opposeth himself to their actual might: they “found not their hands.” Hands are the instruments of acting the heart’s resolution. The strength and power of a man is in his hands; if they be gone, all his hope is gone. If a man’s sword be taken from him, he will do what he can with his hands; but if his hands be gone, he may go to sleep, for any disturbance he will work. For men not to find their hands, is not to have that power for the execution of their designs which formerly they had. In former days they had hands, — power for doing great things; but now, when they would use them against Salem, they could not find them. And why so? — God had taken them away; God took away their power, — their strength departed from them. Samson found not his strength when his locks were cut; though he thought to do as at other times, yet he was deceived, and taken. When God takes away men’s power, they go forth, and think to do as in former days; but when they come to exercise it, all is gone: their hands are laid out of the way, — in allusion to one that seeketh. (3.) There is the total issue of this whole dispensation, placed in the midst of both, as arising from both: “They have slumbered their sleep.” When their hearts yielded, and their hands were lost, courage and power both taken away, what else should they do? Some take this for an expression of death, as it is sometimes used, Psalm 13:3, “Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” I rather conceive it to hold out that condition which God threateneth to bring upon the enemies of his people, when he sends them a “spirit of slumber,” Romans 11:8. Now, in such a condition two things are eminent: — [1.] Its weakness. A condition of slumber and sleep is a weak condition. A sleeping man is able to do nothing. Jael can destroy a drowsy Sisera. [2.] Its vanity. Men in their sleep are apt to have foolish, vain fancies.

    This, then, is that which the Lord holds out concerning the enemies of his church, his people, his ways, when their hearts are gone and their hands gone: — they shall be brought to a condition of weakness in respect of others; they shall not be able to beat them: and of vanity in themselves; they shall feed themselves with vain thoughts, like the dream of a hungry man, Isaiah 29:8, “He dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; he waketh, and, behold, he is empty.” They please themselves for a little season with strong apprehensions of the accomplishment of their hearts’ lusts and cobweb fancies; but the issue is shame and disappointment.

    The words, being opened, will yield us these three observations: — I. Men of stout hearts and strong hands, of courage and power, are often engaged against the Lord.

    II. God suits the workings of providence for deliverance to the qualifications and actings of his opposers; their stout hearts shall yield, their strong hands be lost.

    III. Though men have courage, might, and success, yet when they engage themselves against the Lord, weakness and vanity shall be the issue thereof. In the brief handling whereof I hope you shall find the word of God and the works of God exceedingly suited.

    I. Men of courage, power, and success, of eminent qualifications, are oftentimes engaged against the Lord, and the ways of the Lord.

    I shall multiply neither testimonies nor instances of this truth; for that were but to set up a candle in the sun; — the experience of all ages has made it good. One or two places may suffice: — Psalm 68:30, “Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people.”

    There are not only “calves of the people,” easily deluded, sottish men; but also multitudes of “bulls,” heady, high-minded, bearing down all before them, throwing up all bounds and fences, laying all common to their lusts, not easily to be resisted; — these also are amongst the adversaries of the ways of the Lord. The first open opposers of the ways of God were “giants,” “mighty men,” and “men of renown,” Genesis 6:4. At once “two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, and men of renown,” joined themselves in rebellion against the LORD, Numbers 16:2; and that, — 1. Because these very qualifications, of a stout heart, strong hands, and former success, are apt of themselves, if destitute of directing light and humbling grace, to puff up the spirits of men, and to engage them in ways of their own, contrary to the mind of the Lord. When men take advice of their stout hearts, strong hands, and former success, they are very evil counsellors. When Jeremiah advised the Jews from the Lord for their good, the proud men answered, they would not obey, Jeremiah 43:2. When Pharaoh is made stout for his ruin, he cries, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” Exodus 5:2. And for success, God makes the Assyrian the rod of his anger, sends him against the people of his wrath, with charge “to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets,” Isaiah 10:6. He goeth, accordingly, and prospereth. But when he hath so done, see what a conclusion he makes! He goes against Jerusalem, and cries, “‘Let not your God deceive you. Have the gods of the nations delivered them? and do you think so to be? Isaiah 37:10,12. From the success he had from God, he concluded the success he should have against him; — like those of late amongst ourselves, who having been partners with others in former successes, whilst they went upon the command of God, doubtless received in their stout hearts establishment and strengthening to other undertakings; as if the God of the Parliament could not help. Amaziah, king of Judah, wages war with Edom, and they are destroyed before him, 2 Kings 14:7. The war was of the Lord. Upon this he is lifted up, and causelessly provoketh Jehoash, king of Israel, verse 8, against the mind and will of God. Jehoash sends him word, that if the thistle pride itself against the cedar, the wild beast will tread it down, verse 9. But he had former success, and on he will go to his ruin. The stout-hearted men (for a delivery from whose fury and folly we desire this day to lift up the name of the Lord) having received help and assistance against Edom, will needs lift up the thistle against the cedar, — act out of their own sphere, turn subjection into dominion, to their shame and sorrow. But it were better their hearts should be filled with sorrow, than the nation, and especially the people of God in the nation, with blood and confusion, ending in bondage and tyranny. And this is the first account of it, why men of such qualifications are engaged against the Lord. The qualifications themselves do set up for it, if destitute of divine light and humbling grace. Such men will run upon God, and the thick bosses of his buckler. 2. God will have it so, that the greater may be his glory in the powerful protection and defense of his own, with the destruction, disappointment, and ruin of their enemies. If his enemies were all sottish, weak, foolish, childish, until he makes them so, where would be the praise of his great name? when would there be “Nodus Deo vindice dignus,” — work worthy of the appearance of the Most High? But when there is a great mountain before Zerubbabel ( Zechariah 4:7), — a high, haughty, oppressing empire, — to level that to a plain is glorious. When God will get himself a name, he raises up, not a poor, effeminate Sardanapalus, — a poor, sensual, hypocritical wretch, as some have been; the Lord will not make an open contest by such a one, such as some of our sore oppressors have been: but he will raise up a Pharaoh, a crooked leviathan, a stout-hearted, cunning-headed, strong-handed oppressor; and he tells him (such a one as he), “For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth,” Exodus 9:16. “Thou art a fit subject,” saith he, “for me to exalt my glory in thy ruin.” The beast is to make war with the Lamb; and he shall not do it alone: God will give him in assistance. And who shall these be? — women, and children, and weak ones? No; he will put it into the heart of the kings of the earth “to give their power and strength to the beast,” Revelation 17:17, to break them in pieces. This will be glory indeed. All the opposers which formerly have risen, or at least most of them, have had the power to that height, as they have been exceedingly above all outwardly appearing means of being resisted. The breaking of the old monarchies and of papal power is a work meet for the Lord. And in this shall mainly consist the promised glory of the Church of Christ in after days; whose morning star, I doubt not, is now upon us: — the Lord will more immediately and visibly break the high, stout, haughty ones of the earth, for the sake of his people, than in former times. Look upon all the glorious things that are spoken concerning Zion in the latter days, and you shall find them all interwoven with this still, — the shaking of heaven, the casting down of thrones, and dominions, and mighty ones. I mention this, because indeed I look upon this late mercy as the after-drops of a former refreshing shower, — as an appendix of good-will, for the confirming the former work which God had wrought. “Though,” saith he, “‘ye have lien among the pots,’ — have been in a poor, defiled condition, a condition of bondage, — ‘yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold,’ — ye shall be made exceeding glorious.” But how or when shall this be? Why, when the Almighty scattereth kings for her sake, then shall she be as white as snow in Salmon, Psalm 68:13,14. When God by his almighty power takes away so great opposers, then glory and beauty shall arise upon you. And this, in some degree, lies also at the bottom of the late dispensation of Providence, — men’s hearts were full of fear of a storm; yea, a storm was necessary, that some evidence might be given of the Lord’s continuing his presence amongst you, that if hereafter we be forsaken, it may appear that it was for our own unbelief, unthankfulness, and folly, and not for doing the work of the Lord. Now, how was this expected? “Why, this poor people, or that, unacquainted with the things of their peace, will rise and make opposition.” “No,” saith the Lord, “you shall not have so easy a trial; you shall have men of stout hearts and strong hands, with many former successes on their shoulders; that, when deliverance is given in, my name may be glorious indeed.” Use 1. Be not moved at the most formidable enemies that may arise against you in the ways of God. “It was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind,” Isaiah 7:2. When strong combinations arise, how apt are we to shake and tremble before them, especially when they have some strangeness as well as strength! That Syria should come against Judah, is no wonder; but what, I pray, makes Ephraim too, their brother, and fellow in former afflictions?

    Besides, Syria and Ephraim were always at a mortal difference among themselves. But they who agree in nothing else usually consent in opposition to the ways of God. Then you shall have Edom, Ammon, Amalek, and Ashur altogether of one mind, Psalm 88:6-8. And the kings of the west, that perpetually devour one another, yet have one mind in exalting the beast and opposing the Lamb, Revelation 17:14; — as, in our late troubles, there was a concurrence not only in the main of Syria and Ephraim, the two grand extremes, but also of innumerable particular fancies and designs; so that if a man should have met them, (like him in the fable, the lion, the ass, and the fox), he could not but wonder “Quo iter una facerent,” — whither they were traveling together. But, I say, when such combinations are made, how apt are we to shake and tremble! “They are stout men, valiant men; and perhaps Ahithophel is with them!” Why, if they were not such, I pray how should the Lord have any praise in the close of the dispensation? We would be delivered, but we care not that God should be glorified. If God’s glory were dear to us, we should not care how high opposition did arise. Precious faith, where art thou fled? Had we but some few grains of it, we might see the rising of the greatest mountains to be but a means to make the name of God glorious, by removing them into the midst of the sea. Hath it not been thus in the days of old? The Lord humble us for our unbelief!

    Use 2. Let men to whom the Lord hath given stout hearts, strong hands, and great success, watch carefully over their own spirits, lest they be led aside into any way against the mind of God. Great endowments are ofttimes great temptations. “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground ?” Obadiah 1:3. Was it not the ruin of Amaziah, of whom notwithstanding it was said, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD?” 2 Chronicles 25:2. He who is heightened against the king of terrors, if he hath not humility (one of the chief of graces), will quickly choose himself paths of his own. Alas, poor creatures! if hearts and hands be, and God be not, what will it avail? But of this afterward. I now proceed to the second observation.

    II. God suits the workings and actings of providence for deliverance to the qualifications of the opposers.

    Are they stout hearts? — they shall be made to yield themselves. Are they men of might? they shall lose their power, — they shall not find their hands. To this I shall speak very little. This is the cutting off of Adonibezek’s toes and thumbs. God countermines them in their actings, and blows them up in their own mine. “In the thing wherein they deal proudly, he is above them,” Exodus 18:11. They shall not soar so high on the wings of their pride, but that still they shall find God uppermost.

    When they take counsel, and think to carry it by their advices, God saith, “I am wise also, and will bring evil,” Isaiah 31:2. When they think to carry it by a high hand, his strength shall appear against them. When Herod owns the blasphemy of being called a god, he shall rot and be eaten of worms, Acts 12:23. Pharaoh cries, “Come on, let us deal wisely against Israel,” Exodus 1:10. He of all men shall play the fool, for his own ruin and the ruin of his people, Exodus 14:27,28. If Sennacherib boasts of his mighty host, be sure he shall not find his hands. How evidently hath the Lord thus carried on his providence in the late dispensation! Were not many of the headless, heady undertakers, “robusti animo,” — mighty of heart? and were they not forced to yield themselves, yea, to “yield themselves to the spoil?” Were they not deep in their plotting? Doubtless they or their seducers had digged deep to lay their design; though of the generality of them it cannot be said, as was of Caesar and his companions, “Accessere sobrii ad perdendum rempublicam.” They were brought to act things in very folly and confusion. They were great men of might: whence is it they made no more opposition? The Lord laid their hands out of the way. Many reasons might be given of this; but I must pass to the last point.

    III. Though men have courage, might, and former successes to accompany them, yet when they engage themselves against the Lord, or any way of his, vanity, weakness, and disappointment will be the issue thereof. “Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you?” saith the Lord, Ezekiel 22:14. “Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; woe unto him that contendeth with his Maker!” Isaiah 45:9. “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?” Job 9:4. “The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; but the counsel of the LORD standeth for ever. He maketh the devices of the people of none effect,” Psalm 33:10,11.

    Whoever riseth up without him, or against him, shall fall and come to nothing. This is a plain point, that we suppose ourselves exceedingly well versed in. But He who searcheth our spirits, and is acquainted with our inward parts, knows how great is our unbelief in this very thing; and therefore, in tender condescension, he hath carefully provided for our support herein. A man would think one word, once spoken, were enough to convince and persuade the whole world of this truth; but, the Lord knows, there must be line upon line, here a little, and there a little, to give his own people any establishment herein. And therefore it is that in so many places in his word he hath asserted and affirmed this one thing, — namely, let men be never so strong, powerful, and successful, if once they engage against him, they are utterly destroyed, unless he pluck them out of the snare. “Associate yourselves,” etc., Isaiah 8:9.

    But you will say, “Engage against the Lord! That is true; whoever engageth against him shall surely fall. But who is so mad as to do so? Very Rabshakeh himself affirms that he came not up to Jerusalem without the Lord, but that the Lord sent him to go up against the land to destroy it,” Isaiah 36:10.

    It is true he said so; and by this observation you have an answer to the Scripture. For though he said so, he lied before the Lord, and belied the Lord; his undertaking was against the Lord, and against his mind, as the sequel fully manifested. Many suppose they engage for God, when they engage against him. To engage against the Lord, is to engage against his mind and will. To undertake without the will of God, is enough to be the ruin of the best and stoutest; as we see in the case of Josiah; but to engage against him! — who can do it, and stand when he is provoked? This, then, is that which neither stout hearts nor strong hands shall ever be able to go through withal. For instance, to engage against that authority which God. will own and defend, is successlessly to engage against the Lord. Now, because these are the days wherein the Lord will shake heaven and earth, beat the nations with a rod of iron, breaking much of the power of the world, it may be asked by some, how it shall be known that any authority is such as the Lord will not destroy and overturn, but own it as a way of his own? I answer, To omit the rule of reason, law, and common established principles amongst men, all which give a great light unto the rule of walking in this case, I shall give you six scriptural significations, “a posteriori,’ of such an authority as the Lord will make as a brasen wall, or a rock in the sea, against which the waves dash with noise and fury, but are themselves broken to pieces: — 1. If it be such as the Lord hath honored with success and protection in great, hazardous, and difficult undertakings for himself. Thus was it with Moses. Never had a leader of a people more murmurings, revilings, and rebellions against him. The story is obvious unto all. He was envied, hated, reproached of all sorts, from the princes of the congregation to the mixed multitude. But Moses had traveled through the sea and the desert with the Lord, and was encompassed with success and protection; and therefore all attempts against him shall be birthless and fruitless. This is one; but it will never do alone, unless conjoined with those that follow. 2. If the persons enjoying that authority abide to act for God, and not for themselves, after such success and protection. Saul began to act for God, and he vexed all his enemies, which way soever he turned himself; but afterward, turning to himself, God left him to himself. Cyrus, how honored, how anointed was he for his great undertaking against Babylon! but afterward, pursuing his own ambition, he was requited with blood for the blood he sought. The Lord is with them that are with him, and whilst they are so. The establishment of the house of Saul is far from the Lord: for “those that honor him, he will honor; and they that despise him shall be lightly esteemed,” 1 Samuel 2:30. There is no more certain sign in the world of persons devoted to ruin, or at least of their being divested of their authority, than that having followed God for a season in their enjoyment of success and protection, they turn aside to pursue their own ends, like Jehu. I could give you an example of this, as yet not much above half a year old. But when men undertake with the Lord, and for him, and having known his assistance therein, shall continue to lay out themselves in his ways; the Lord will then build them a house like David, which shall not be prevailed against.

    Here I must give one caution by the way; — that I am very far from countenancing any to move against just and righteous authority, who discern not these things: the Lord forbid. Let men look to the rule of their obedience, which I have nothing to do withal at this time. I only describe such as unto whom, if any dare to make opposition, in an ordinary dispensation of providence, it will prove fruitless and vain. 3. The third thing is, that they subject their power to the power of the Lord Christ, who is Lord of lords, and King of kings. The psalmist tells the rulers of the earth, that the reason of their spoiling is, that they do not “kiss the Son,” Psalm 2:12, or yield unfeigned obedience to the mighty King whom God hath set on his holy hill. God hath promised that he will give in the service of kings and nations to Christ in his kingdom; and therein shall be their security. When God puts it into the heart of rulers to rule according to the interest of Christ and his gospel, and to seek the advancement of his scepter, they shall surely be as a fenced wall. I cannot stay to show what this interest of Christ is. In a word, it is the ordering, framing, carrying on of affairs as is most conducible to the unravelling and destruction of the mystery of iniquity. 4. If they are supported by the prayer of a chosen people, who seek their welfare, not for their own interest and advantage, but for the advantage of the gospel and the ways of Christ, by them asserted. If God’s own people pray for them in authority, that under them they may enjoy some share of their own, and obtain some ends suited to any carnal interest of theirs, God will reject those prayers. But when they seek their welfare, because it is discovered to them that in their peace the gospel shall have peace and prosperity; surely the Lord will not cast out their prayers, nor shame the face of his poor supplicants. 5. If in sincerity, and with courage and zeal, they fulfill the work of their magistracy, in the administration of righteous judgment; especially in those great and unusual acts of justice, in breaking the jaws of the wicked and terrible, and delivering the spoil out of the teeth of the mighty, Job 29:17. Innumerable are the demonstrations of God’s owning such persons. 6. If they have not the qualifications of that power which in these latter days God hath promised to destroy. Now these are two; I will but name them unto you. First, Drinking the cup of fornication that is in the hand of the harlot; that is, practising any false worship and forms invented besides the word. Secondly, Giving their power to the beast, or engaging in any ways of persecution against any of the ways of God, or his saints in those ways. That the Lord is about to shake, break, and destroy all such powers as these, I did not long since, by his assistance, here demonstrate.

    And so have I completed my instances that they who engage against such an authority as is attended with these qualifications, engage against the Lord. I could also give other instances, in other ways and institutions of God; but I chose these as most accommodated to the season. If now I should tell you, that, notwithstanding all clamors to the contrary, these things, for the main, are found in your assemblies, thousands in the world would (yet I hope your own consciences would not) return the lie for so saying. But yet, though the Lord seems to bear witness to some integrity in his late dispensations, I shall only pray that what is wanting may be supplied; — that you may never want the like protection in the like distress.

    Come we now briefly to the reasons why those who oppose such authority shall not succeed. And it were an easy labor to multiply reasons hereof. The sovereignty, the power, all the attributes of God would furnish us with arguments. I shall omit them all; [and] only touch upon two that are couched in the text.

    They shall have no better issue, because, — (1.) The Lord will take away their stout hearts, whereby they are supported; (2.) He will take away their strong hands, whereby they are confirmed: and when hearts and hands are gone, they also are gone. (1.) He will take away their stout hearts, that they shall no more be able to carry them out to any success in their great undertakings. He will break that wheel at the very fountain, that it shall no more be the spring of their proceedings.

    Now, this the Lord usually doth one or more of these four ways: — [1.] He fills them with fury and madness; so taking away their order. [2.] He fills them with folly and giddiness; so taking away their counsel. [3.] He fills them with terror and amazement; so depriving them of their courage. Or, [4.] with contrition and humility; so changing their spirits: — [1.] He fills them with fury and madness, taking away their order, which is the tie and cement of all societies, in all undertakings. “‘Though all the people of the earth,’ saith the Lord, ‘be gathered together against Jerusalem,’ they shall not prosper.” And why so? “I will smite every horse</