The sleepy Spouse of Christ alarm'd: Or, a WARNING To beware of DROWSINESS VVhen Christ Calls, Lest he withdraw in a discontent.

BEING The Sum of some SERMONS upon Cant. 5th, and the beginning.

By J. B. Minister of the Gospel.

Rev. 3.20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Matth. 23.37, 38, 39. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children toge­ther, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? Behold, your house is left un­to you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.

Psal. 95.7, 8. To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Recommended in a Preface by M. Nath. Vincent.

LONDON: Printed [...] Samuel Crouch, at the Princes Arms at [...]

To Mrs. J. D. the Author wisheth all increase of Grace and Peace.

Honoured Friend,

IT was at your request, and the earnest re­quest of some of your Friends, that I was induced to publish these following Sermons. The reason whereof I suppose to be, because your heart was (in some measure) opened to, and affected with the voice of Christ in his Word, when you heard it. I must confess, the matter or subject herein treated of, is very sweet and precious, and such as may well warm the frozen heart of any, that hath the least drachm of sincere love, either of complacency in, or com­miseration to Christ. To see how ready Christ is to condescend to the requests of his Spouse, how sweetly, and with what melting [...] irresistible Arguments, he wooes her; ho [...] and plenti­ful he is in the emanations of his Grace and Kindness towards her: And then on the other hand to consider, how sleightly she looks upon him, how little account she makes of him; and how she makes him dance attendance at her door, [Page] with many other circumstances of her unkind­ness: and withal to consider the danger and hazard which she runs, by her unkind behavi­our towards Christ: These Considerations (which are the subject of the ensuing Discourse) being seriously weighed by a Soul that hath any love for, or breathings after Christ (among the number of which, I hope, I may truely reckon you) cannot choose but in some measure awaken the sleepy Soul, and warm the cold and frozen Af­fections. This effect I perceive the Word had upon you; for which you owe the thanks and praise to the Spirit of Grace, which accompanied the Word to your heart, and gave it entertain­ment there. For man speaks only to the ear, it is God that speaks to the heart: You having therefore tasted the sweetness of this Word your self, desired the communication of it to others, who had not the opportunity (with you) to hear it; and in order thereunto, the publication of it. Your designe I must own to be good: for Grace (where it is in truth) is not only of a dif­fusive nature, (spreading it self through the whole man) but also of a communicative nature; wish­ing that all by-standers might likewise taste that sweetness, which it self is much delighted with. Grace desires not to eat its morsels alone, but if any Banquet be given in by Christ, or any re­freshment by his company, the Soul cries out to [Page] by-standers, O taste and see how good the Lord is! He is altogether lovely. Come, therefore, and I will tell you what he hath done for my Soul. But (though your designe be good, yet) the weakness and insufficiency of the Author, might well have pleaded an excuse. For it is pity that such a sweet and precious sub­ject should be rendred despicable, by being handed into the world by so weak, rude and unpolished an instrument, as I must of necessity confess my self to be. For I am sensible, that many times the Truths of Christ suffer in the world, through the weakness of the Instruments that hand them to us. However, yet (sometimes) it pleaseth God, By the mouths of babes and sucklings to perfect his own praise; that the work may ap­pear to be not of men, but of God. Leaving therefore the work in Gods hand (who is able to do what he pleaseth with and by it) and waving the consideration of mine own weakness, I con­descend to your request, and make bold to cast this my poor mite into Gods Treasury: Say­ing to you and to all courteous Readers, as Peter to the Cripple, Acts 3.6. Silver and Gold have I none; but such as I have, give I unto you. I hope the food is wholesome, though it be but plainly and meanly dressed. And though it may fall into the hands of some, whose curious sto­macks may loath such plain and homely diet; [Page] [...] [Page] [...] [Page] yet possibly it may fall into the hand of some poor creature, who is hungry, humble, and of a contrite Spirit, and trembles at Gods Word. Some poor hungry Soul may (perhaps) here meet with meat, though there be little sawce to he had: And if any poor Soul shall reap benefit by my poor labours and endeavours (I hope) I shall bless God for owning such a worthless creature, in so glorious a work. And (if it do good) the less of the instrument, the more will there be of God seen in it. I beg of you therefore, and of all candid Readers, into whose hands this small Treatise may come, their and your serious per­usal of it, with their Prayers to God for a bles­sing upon it: what you finde of humane weakness in it, pardon and pass it by: whatever you finde of God in it, minde it and apply it. And the very God of Heaven powerfully influence it with his blessed Spirit, that it may do your Souls good, and that you may readily open to Christ now, that he may open to, and own you, at Death and Judgment. Which is the humble and earnest Prayer of

Yours, In and for Christ my Lord and Master, James Bradshaw.


Christian Reader,

THe Spirit of Slumber exceedingly prevails at this day; as great security is to be found in this Nation, as was in the old World and in Sodom, before the one was Drowned, and the other Burned. God hath used several ways and means to awaken us; but our Spiritual Lethargie proves a very stub­born Malady. 'Twere bad enough if onely profane persons were fast asleep in Sin. 'Tis worse that Professors are so too. But 'tis worst of all, that the Wise Virgins slumber as well as the Foo­lish. What may be the Issue of our carnal Security, we may tremble to think of. When men say they shall have peace, though they walk on after the imagination of their evil Heart, the Lord confutes their presumption, by threatning all the Curses written in [Page] his Book, and that he will blot out their names from under Heaven. Promising safety to themselves, is the forerunner of Sinners sudden destruction. 1 Thess. 5.3.

I am perswaded that the designe of the worthy Author of this ensuing Treatise is to prevent that ruine which is likely to follow upon that drowsi­ness and security which does so gene­rally prevail. And in wishing that he may accomplish his designe, is to wish well to the whole Nation. If a word spoken in season be like Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver, there needs no enlarging in the commendation of this Treatise. The Lord make it as profitable as 'tis seasonable! This is the desire and prayer of

Thy Servant for Jesus sake, Nathanael Vincent.

The sleepy Spouse of Christ alarm'd OR, A VVarning to beware of Drow­siness when Christ Calls, lest he withdraw in a discontent.

CANTICLES 5.2, 3, 5, 6.

It is the voice of my beloved that knoc­keth, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, &c.

THis Song, which is an ex­cellent part of Divine Scrip­ture, contains in it much sweet, Heavenly, and Divine matter, profitable for our Edification and Consola­tion. But the great difficul­ty lies in the right understanding of it, in or­der to the drawing out from thence that sweet and Heavenly matter, so profitable to our Souls edification. For the helping us to a right knowledge of the Divine matter here­in contained, it is necessary to consider, 1, The [Page 2] Nature. 2. The general Scope. 3. The Per­sons speaking and spoken of.

1. As touching the Nature of this Book, it is wholly an Allegory, or Figurative, discourse, under the mask of Similitudes and Resem­blances; holding forth to us great, divine, and most excellent Mysteries. And therefore in the understanding of it, we must not acquiesce in the immediate literal Sense, I mean, in the immediate or Grammatical sense which the words bear; but must look through them to the mediate, literal, or spiritual Sense that is couched in them. For the literal Sense of the Scripture is, that Sense which the Holy Ghost immediately and primarily intends in that portion of Scripture, whether delivered in Proper, or Figurative Expressions. And therefore the Literal and Spiritual Sense are here one and the same.

2. As touching the general Scope and de­signe of this Book; it is to set forth the mu­tual Love, spiritual Union and Communion between Christ and his Church; and their mutual carriage and deportment towards each other in several conditions, and under various dispensations; brought in, and carried on by way of Dialogue and discourse between se­veral persons.

3. The persons speaking and persons acting [Page 3] their parts in this Dialogue or Discourse, are principally three. First, The Bridegroom, by which we must understand the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. The Bride or Spouse, by which understand the Church, either in general or particular Believers. 3. The Daughters of Sion, and Jerusalem, &c. by which we may understand either young Converts, or visible Believers.

The persons spoken of, are, 1. The Bride­groom, which is Christ. 2. The Bride, the Church. 3. The Friends of the Bridegroom; which are the Ministers or Messengers of Christ. 4. The Virgins, or Daughters of Jerusalem; young Candidates in Religion, and Professors of Religion. 5. The Brides Mother, the Church, wherein young Converts are begot­ten, nourished, and brought up.

The particular knowledge of the Persons speaking and spoken of, or to, in every place; will give much light for the discovery and right understanding of the thing or matter that is spoken; and therefore this is necessary to be observed in every part of this Book.

The persons here speaking in this Chapter and discoursing of and with each other, are Christ and his Spouse. In the Text we have a rehearsal by the Spouse of Christ; his speech to her, and of her carriage and deportment to­wards him.

[Page 4]If you cast your eye back to the last Verse of the foregoing chapter, you shall find the Spouse making her request to Christ for the revival of her Graces, and the return of Christ into her soul. That Christ would prepare and make ready her Heart, by quickning, inlivening, and enlarging Grace, and putting it into a posture fit for Exercise, for the entertainment of him; and being thus prepared for his entertainment, that he would please to come in and taste of that Feast which himself had prepared. Here­upon in the first Verse of this Chapter Christ makes answer to her request, telling her that he was come, and had brought his Friends with him, to wit, his Ministers, that they, as well as he, might be delighted with that Feast. For it is no small refreshment unto the Friends, or faithful Ministers of Christ, to see and taste of the flourishing Graces of the People or Spouse of Christ. Yea, he invites her also to taste of the sweetness of his Grace in her self, that she might be refreshed with what he had revived and refreshed in her. But she (possi­bly being weary with waiting so long and late for him, not expecting his company at that time of the night) was gone to bed, and fal­len asleep, as she her self confesseth, Verse the 2. But as late as it was, Christ comes and knocks, and she hears, and knew his voice, and gives [Page 5] us an account what he said to her. As she had but now made her sute and request to him, desiring him to come: so he being come, makes another kind and loving motion to her, and such a one as was very reasonable, and (one would have thought) would have been readily embraced. She had begged of him that he would come; and now being come, and finding her in bed, he begs of her that she would open to him, and let him in. But alas poor Spouse! as if she had forgot her respect to her Husband, the benefit and desireableness of his company, and her own request so lately made, she gives him a flat denial, couched under some complemental excuses, Verse 3. I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? She could wish to have Christ, but is too lazy to rise out of her bed to open to him. She would have Christ and his Comforts, but would not be at the pains to perform any duty of obedience unto him, would not open to him by faith: but Christ having a more warm Heart and Affection for her than she had for him, resolves not so to be put off; and being resolved to speed in his request, will not so let her alone; and therefore powerfull (yet sweetly) makes an assault upon the Door of her Heart, so effectually moving upon her Af­fections, [Page 6] and awakening her Graces, that she can no longer deny, but ariseth to open to him, and by arising and coming to the door, finds a wonderful change and alteration in her self, V. 4, 5. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were mo­ved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved, and my hands dropped with myrrhe, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrhe, upon the handles of the lock. She no sooner begins to act faith upon Christ, but she found encourage­ment enough to let him in. If Christ had thus persumed her Lock with but putting in his Finger by the hole of the Door, Oh what would his company be when himself came in! And therefore, without any more delay or ex­cuse, in all haste she opens to him, v. 6. But Christ, though he would not utterly forsake her and cast her off, yet he would make her sensible of the affront which she had offered him, and of her ungrateful carriage towards him; and therefore withdraws, and makes her who (but now) was so delicate and easeful that she could not put on her Coat, or come barefoot­ed over the house-floor) to seek him in the streets, and take many a wet and weary step in the dark night, and that (questionless) with an aking Heart, having his persumes so fresh in her Breast, and her own guilt so [Page 7] fresh upon her Conscience, before she find him. This was the case between Christ and his Spouse at this time.

I shall but in a word mention those parti­culars in the Text, upon which I designe to ground the Doctrine, and so proceed to the Doctrine.

In the whole Conference or Relation I shall take notice of these things, upon which I shall ground the Doctrine.

1. The Churches Prayer, chap. 4.16. A­wake O North-wind, and come thou South, &c. She prays for the breathing Influences of the Spirit, whereby her Graces may be revived and made fit for action; and then desires Christ's company, when she is fixed and pre­pared for him.

2. We have Christ his Answer to the Church her Prayer, chap. 5.1. The Spouse no sooner calls, but Christ makes Answer; no sooner invites, but Christ comes.

3. The posture which he finds her in at his coming: gone to bed, and composing her self to sleep. Believers do sometimes pray for that which they have no patience to wait for.

4. Christ his Call and Proposal which he makes to the Spouse at his coming; which is but very reasonable, since his coming was at [Page 8] her request, v. 2. Open to me, my sister, &c. for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

5. We have the Spouse her unreasonable denial and excuses, v. 3. She litte consider­ed how wet and weary Christ was, and mani­fested but poor respect to him, when she will rather suffer him to stand there, than she will be at the trouble to put on her Coat, or defile her Feet. Oh what difference is here between Christ's love to us, and our love to him!

6. We may observe the effect of this re­fusal and unreasonable denial. Though Christ rouze up her Graces, and give her some taste of his excellency, which may make her un­weariedly to seek him: yet he will make her smart for her lazyness and indifferency, and low value which she set by Christ. He will make her take abundantly more pains before she find him. She shall seek him with a fain­ting aking Heart, and in seeking take many a wet and weary step; feel a little of what he endured at the door, before she find him. v. 6.

From all these considerations in the Text, I gather this Doctrine:

That it is a dangerous thing, and may cost us dear, to be lazy and secure when Christ knocks and calls; especially when his coming and calling is in answer to our Prayers.

[Page 9]This truth is not onely the sense and sum of this Text, but we find the Holy Ghost speaking the same thing for substance in other parts of Scripture. Prov. 1.24, and following verses. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regar­ded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproofs: Therefore, I al­so will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh, &c. Psal. 81.8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Hear, O my people— There shall be no strange God in thee — I am the Lord thy God— But my people would not bearken — So I gave them up— O that my people would have hearkned— Luke 13.34, 35. O Jerusa­lem, Jerusalem, how often would I have ga­thered thee, as an hen gathereth her chickens un­der her wings, but ye would not — Wherefore your city is left to you desolate— Rev. 3.20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man open to me, I will come in unto him, and I will sup with him, and be with me.

In the further prosecution of this Doctrine, I shall (through Gods assistance) observe this method.

1. Speak something by way of Explication. 2. Something by way of Confirmation. 3. Something by way of Application. In the Ex­plication of the Doctrine, I shall endeavour [Page 10] to shew, 1. Where Christ knocks. 2. At whose door Christ knocks. 3. How, or with what he knocks. 4. For what end he knocks: Or what it is that Christ would have when he knocks. 5. What are the special times of his knocking.

I begin with the first of these, Where it is that Christ knocks.

To this I answer, That Christ's Knock [...] and Calls are at the door of man's Heart. To have the Ear open to God's call signifies lit­tle, if the door of the Heart be shut, and Christ cannot get in there. We see in the Text the Spouse (though partly asleep) heard Christs Knock and Call well enough, and yet she cau­sed him to depart from her, because she did not open to him. Wisdom cries, Prov. 23.26. My son, give me thine heart. Christ will have the Heart open, or else he will not come in; and that for these reasons. 1. Because, as Christ is no dissembler, but real in what he offers and gives: so he loves no dissembling; but ex­pects that the Soul should be real and cordial with him. Now, to pretend to embrace Christ, and not to do it with all the Heart, is to mock him, and dissemble with him. This God complains of, Jer. 3.10. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned to me with the whole heart, but feignedly, saith [Page 11] the Lord. This is no better than flattery or lying in God's account. Psal. 78.36, 37. They pretended to return, and seek early after God. Nevertheless they flattered him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongue; for their heart was not right with him. Jeremiah com­plains thus of the wicked, Jer. 12.2. Thou art near them in their lips, but far from their reins. That Son was rejected, who said, I go Sir, but went not. This dissembling and complementing with God, is abominable to the heart-searching God: And therefore he requires that the Heart be opened unto him, and there it is that he knocks.

2. Because the Heart is the chief part of Christ his purchase, and therefore he knocks there. It is true, Christ is the Redeemer of the Body: but had not that been an appurte­nance to the more noble part, the Soul, Christ would never have paid so dear a price for it. But the inward man, the Soul, or Heart, was that which was chiefly in Christ's eye, when he made his Soul an Offering for Sin. Psal. 71.23. My lips shall greatly rejoyce— and my Soul which thou hast redeemed. The Soul is the Jewel which Christ hath purchased; and therefore though he ought to have the Box or Cabinet with it, yet the Cabinet without the Jewel will not give him content. It is the [Page 12] Heart or Soul therefore that he calls for, when he knocks.

3. Because the Heart is the Royal Seat, or Throne, and Christ comes not to be a truckle-bed Guest, but to rule and reign in us: and and therefore if he have the Heart, which is the commanding faculty, the Will and Af­fections, he may by that command the whole man; but without this, it will be in vain, if not impossible, to keep possession of the other parts of the man. The Heart is the fountain, from whence the streams that run in every part of the man proceed; if this be not pure, the streams must needs be filthy: And therefore Prov. 4.23. we are commanded to Keep the Heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of Life. The Heart is always full, and is continually sending forth Legions of thoughts, words and actions, either good or bad: How should Christ keep the outward man quietly, if the heart be not for him? Our Saviour speaks it as an impossibility, Mat. 12.34, 35. that they being evil should speak good things; and gives the reason of it, Because that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks: and therefore according as the heart is disposed and qualified, such are the thoughts, words and actions. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good [Page 13] things; the evil man out of the evil treasure of the heart evil things: How should the fruit be good, when the tree is bad? The heart then, if it be not for Christ, will dayly be sending forth such troops of filthy molesting enemies, that Christ shall have no quiet abode near it; and therefore he will either have the Royal Fort delivered and opened to him, or he will not come there. If the heart be filthy, the whole man is defiled with what issues from thence: and see what flouds of stinking filthiness issue from the heart, and defile the man, Mat. 15.18, 19, 20. Evil Thoughts, Murders, Adulteries, Fornications, Thefts, False witness, Blasphemies; And how then shall the sweet breath of Christ endure near such a sink of filthiness? if he may not come to the spring or rise of it to purge it, there will be no long stay for him.

4. Christ will have the Heart or none, be­cause his chief suit and request is for our love, and this he cannot have without the Heart, because it is seated in the heart; and though it send its servants abroad, yet it self never stirs from thence: and therefore Christ cannot have this, unless he have the Heart. Such is Christs love towards his Spouse, that he ear­nestly desires to be married to her; and the Terms he proposeth, are Marriage-terms, [Page 14] wherein Love is the chief and principal. And great reason he should have this, not only in regard of his great Love wherewith he hath loved us, and the fruits and effects of it; but also in regard we have nothing else to give him: nor can he expect any other thing with us that may be desireable. Portion we have none; not so much as Clothes to our back, o [...] to cover our nakedness, nor Meat for our bel­ly, nor penny of Money in our purse. Beauty and Comeliness we have none, till he have beautified us with his Comeliness. Wisdom and parts we have none, for by nature we a [...] Fools. Providence or good Housewifery w [...] have none, for we had a good portion left us and we have wasted and spent it all. Great Friends and Allies we have none, that can d [...] any thing for us, for we were cast out to th [...] loathing of our persons, in the day wherein w [...] were born, and none eye pitied us; and as fo [...] our descent, our father was an Amorite, and mother an Hittite, a cursed generation, as w [...] read Ezek. 16. beginning. What have w [...] then that may commend us to Christ, or th [...] may in any sort please him, if he have not o [...] Love? And surely, it is but reasonable th [...] he should have this; nay, since he hath nothing else, he will have this, or not mat [...] with us.

5. Christ will have the heart opened where he comes, because the Feasts and Banquets which he hath prepared and brings with him, chiefly respect the heart: the outward man is little or nothing concerned in them, or ad­vantaged by them, unless it be by consequence. Christ his Feasts are Spiritual, and therefore but little grateful to the flesh, or outward man. The word that Christ speaks is part of his Ban­quet or Feast; and David saith they are swee­ter than Honey or the Honey-comb. But what Refreshment or Feast would these be to the body, or outward man, if the Heart take no notice of them, and be not affected with them? and therefore Hos. 2.14. Christ would allure his Spouse, and take her into the Wil­derness, and there would speak comfortably to her: or, speak to her Heart (as the word signifies.) Words yield but little comfort or refreshment, if they be not spoken to the Heart. John 6. Christ tells us he will give his Flesh and Blood to feed us, and this but af­ter an imaginary way neither; for we must not really have his Body and Blood after a corporeal manner, but spiritually represented and adumbrated by a little broken Bread, and poured-forth Wine. If this Feast therefore extend to, or concern nothing more than the Body, it will prove but a poor hungry [Page 16] Feast: he findes it so, that goes away from the Ordinance without finding and feeding upon Christ by Faith. And therefore were not the Banquet Spiritual, and such as immediately concerns the Heart, the Scripture would never call it a Feast of Marrow and Wine setled upon the lees; nor would David say, Psal. 63.5. that his Soul was satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, when he fed upon this. And therefore Christ his Feasts being chiefly spiri­tual, and respecting the Heart, they would be lost, and signifie nothing, if the Heart were not opened to him: And therefore the place where Christ knocks is the door of the Heart, which he requires should be opened to him.

2. The next thing to be enquired into is, At whose door doth Christ knock?

To this I answer, That Christ knocks at e­very ones door, that lives under Gospel-Or­dinances and Dispensations. There is no person living under Gospel-Ordinances, but at one time or another Christ knocks at the door of his heart, requiring entrance and admissi­on. Thou that readest, or hearest this Word, whoever thou be, Male or Female, Bond or Free, Young or Old, Rich or Poor, High or Low, whatever order, rank, or degree thou be of, in whatever condition or state thou be at thy door it is that Christ by this word [Page 17] knocks, saying, Open to me, &c. See the uni­versality of Christ's knock or call, Rev. 3.20. I stand at the door and knock: if any man will open to me, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev. 22.17. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth, say, Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him come, and take of the waters of life freely. Isai. 55.1. He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the wa­ters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Christ knocks not onely at the Hearts of his own people, as here of the Spouse, Open my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: But also at the doors of others, such as are unregenerate, and know him not. Only with this difference; at the doors of his own regenerate ones, he calls for the awakening and [...]ring up the grace which he hath bestowed upon them: but to such as are unregenerate, and yet strangers to him, he calls them to Faith and Repentance, and to come unto him, that they may live and finde rest for their Souls, Matth. 11.28, 29, 30. To Believers he calls, to awaken their Graces that are already implanted in their Hearts: But to Unbelievers he calls, to awaken them out of their sleep in Sin and security. [Page 18] And of these, there is not the meanest Soul nor the greatest Sinner left out of his call: and if any man will but open to him, he will come in; though their Sins be as Scarlet, and crim­son, he will make them as Snow and Wool. Isai. 1.16, 17, &c.

3. The next enquiry is, How, or with what Christ knocks and calls?

And to this I answer, Christ doth not or­dinarily knock and call by an immediate voice from Heaven, as he did upon Saul, Act. 9. but under the Gospel God ordinarily calls some one or more of these ways.

1. Christ knocks or calls, sometimes by his Providences. Christ many times sends some remarkable Providence or other to a­waken Sinners out of their sleep in Sin, and to awaken the Graces of his People, when they are sleepy and sluggish: and these Pro­vidences they are of two sorts: sometimes such as we call Mercies; (though all his Dis­pensations in this case are Mercies, and the fruits of his faithfulness) but by Mercies I mean such things as are Joyous and desirable for the present. He sometimes loads his peo­ple with Blessings and Benefits. Hos. 11.3, 4. And every Mercy in this kinde is an awaken­ing and quickning spur unto duty. There­fore God complains, Hosea 2.8. that they did [Page 19] not consider that he gave them corn, and wine, and oyl, wool and flax, silver and gold, which they should have served him withal: and be­cause they did not, threatens to take them a­way. Therefore we finde this laid down as the ground of that God's Expostulation with his People, Deut, 32.6, 9, 10, &c. The good­ness of God should lead persons to Repentance; God expects it, and by this many times calls. Sometimes God calls by his Corrections and Judgements, striving by the smartness and se­verity of his Judgements, to awaken Sinners, that are rather hardned by Prosperity, and to affright them out of their sleep in sin, and to awaken his own people out of that sleep which they have lulled themselves into by Prosperi­ty. Thus we read, Job 36.8, 9, &c. when he lays persons in Fetters and Irons of Affliction, Then he shews them their way and their trans­gression, wherein they have exceeded. And of these two ways of knocking, usually Mercy and Goodness leads the way; and if that will not do, then Judgement, and the Rod follows after: For God doth not willingly grieve and afflict the children of men, Lam. 3.33. But if need be, they must be in heaviness through mani­fold tribulations and temptations, 1 Pet. 1.6. Thus God calls by his Providences.

2. Sometimes God calls by his Ordinances, [Page 20] reading the Scriptures, and the Labours of his faithful Ministers: hearing the Word preach­ed, and the like. God hath qualified and sent forth his Ministers and Messengers to call and hire Labourers into his Vineyard, to bid Guests to his Wedding-supper, Matth. 22. and the beginning. And this is their work which they are sent about, and is given them in charge, Matth. 28.19, 20. Go, teach all nations, baptizing — Teaching them to observe what I command you. So Acts 26.18. Paul is sent to the Gentiles, To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Christ himself came and preached for this end, and his Doctrine or Sermon was, Repent, for the kingdom of hea­ven is at hand, Matth. 4.17. And John the Baptist came with this message, Mark 1.4. Yea, the Apostle tells us that this is the work of every Minister, 2 Cor. 5.18, 19, 20. —Hath committed to us the word of reconciliation; so then, we are Embassadors for Christ: as if God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. So that every Sermon that the faithful Ministers of Christ preach, is a call and knock from Christ to open unto him.

3. Sometimes Christ calls by the secret im­pulses of his Spirit, and convictions of our [Page 21] own Consciences. Thus we read Acts 2.37. when they heard the Apostles Sermon, They were pricked at their hearts, and cried out, Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved? Here was an inward impulse of the Spirit up­on their Consciences, accompanying the out­ward preaching of the Word. Thus God secretly opened the Heart of Lydia to attend to what was preached by Paul, Acts 16.14. And thus the Jaylor was wrought upon by the Spirit of God, Acts 16.29, 30, 31, &c. This secret impulse of the Spirit, and con­viction of Conscience sinners many times have when they are going on in their sins, though they do not always give heed and hearken to it. And this many times the peo­ple of God have, when they begin to be lazy, drowzy, and to fall asleep in security: and therefore the Apostle bids us not to quench or grieve the Spirit of God, 1 Thess. 5.19. Ephes. 4.30. And indeed the two former ways of Christ his knocking and calling are ineffectu­al, unless they be accompanied with this last way of calling: For neither Ordinances nor Providences can awaken sinners, unless the Spirit of God work by them. And there­fore we read Job 36.8, 9, &c. that he first binds them in Cords, and then opens their ears to discipline.

4. The next thing to be enquired into, is, For what end Christ knocks and calls: or what it is which Christ would have when he knocks? And to this I answer,

In general, That the end or reason of Christs knocks and calls are various, according to the different state and conditions of those, at the doors of whose Heart he calls. But usually when he calls, he would have, or designes one or more of these ends or things.

1. To awaken sinners out of their deep sleep in sin and security. Sinners are by na­ture so fast asleep, in such a dead sleep of sin and security, that nothing less than the voice of the Son of God knocking and speaking at the door of their Hearts will awaken them: hence we read John 5.25. That the time is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. Which must be meant not of a natural Death, or of the day of Resurrection, but of a Death in sin; because he saith, the time now is. And therefore saith the Apostle, Eph. 2.1. You hath he quickned, i. e. by the powerful voice of his Spirit, Who were dead in trespasses and sins. Would you see what one of Christ's calls are in this case? read Eph. 5.14. Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life. [Page 23] This he speaks not onely to the Ear by his Word, but to the Heart by his Spirit.

2. Christ his calls at the doors of our hearts many times designe Repentance. Repen­tance is a Gospel-duty incumbent upon every person, Acts 17.30. But now commands all men every where to repent. And for this end he sends forth his Ministers to preach the Doctrine of Repentance, to shew the necessi­ty of Repentance, and that there is great reason or cause for Repentance; because we have sinned, and thereby departed from God, and cannot come to him again but by Repen­tance. It is called The Doctrine of Repentance, because Repentance is properly a Gospel-do­ctrine, a Doctrine that the Law preacheth not: for the Law, or Covenant of Works, admits of no Repentance; but upon our breach of the Law, immediately pronounceth a Curse, Gal. 3.10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the Law to do them. But the Gospel-covenant admits of, yea calls for Repentance, as the way and means to obtain Mercy: yea pro­miseth Mercy and Pardon upon our Repen­tance, Prov. 28.13. He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall find mercy. Therefore the Gospel tells us, that Except we repent, we shall all likewise perish, Luke 13 5. If per­sons [Page 24] be in a state of unregeneracy, then Christ knocks by his Word, and by his Providences, by his Mercies; and his business with them is, to shew that there is a necessity of their Re­pentance, and that they must either repent, or perish everlastingly. If persons be in a state of regeneracy, and have by some temptation or other lapsed or fallen into Sin; or, it may be, have some Sin lodging in them, not yet truely discovered, and consequently not par­ticularly repented of: Then and in such case Christ calls to renewed and enlarged acts of Repentance; for Repentance is a grace that concerns us all our lives long: And therefore the calls of Christ in this case may be such as these: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3. Christ calls to reconciliation with God. When Christ comes to the door of thine Heart, he comeS as a mediator and peace-maker, to make peace between God and thy Soul, which are at variance with each other; and by rea­son of sin have an utter enmity against each other. The cause of this enmity Christ hath taken away by his death upon the Cross, and nailed it to his Cross: The cause being remo­ved, he comes and calls to intreat that the en­mity it self may be taken away, and we would be reconciled unto God, 2 Cor. 5.18, 19, 20. [Page 25] Though there be little reason for it, yet man is hard to be wooed and perswaded to cast out of his heart the enmity that is lodged there a­gainst God and his way [...]. And therefore Christ is forced to knock and call again and again, before we will (in this case) be per­swaded to yield to his suit.

4. Christ calls for a closure with himself by Faith, as the onely way and means to obtain peace, and reconcilation with God. We by our Sins are indebted to God, more than ever we are able to pay: are therefore in danger to be arrested by Divine Justice, and cast into prison, where we may lie and rot, to all eter­nity. Jesus Christ seeing us in this misery and distress, comes and calls at the door of our hearts, offers to be our Surety to pay every farthing of our debt for us; and that upon this condition only, that he may have our full and free consent to do this for us; and that we will accept of with thankfulness what kindness he shews herein, and rely upon him for the perfecting of this work for us; and where-ever Justice shall lay any charge or ac­cusation against us, we will by Faith confi­dently and stedfastly plead his Satisfaction for our Discharge. This is all that he requires from us; and upon this condition only, pro­miseth to pay our Debt, reconcile us to God, [Page 26] free us from imprisonment, and seal us an ab­solute and full discharge, that shall for ever stand good to all intents and purposes. And therefore Christ his calls in this case are such as these, Matth. 11.28. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Isai. 55.1. H [...], every one that thirsts, come unto the waters, and he that hath no mo­ney, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come and buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Rev. 22.17. Let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely: and he assures us, John 1.12. that As many as receive him (upon these terms) to them he will give power to become the sons of God: to them that thus believe on his Name. And surely one would think this call is worthy to be embraced, with all readiness of heart and thankfulness.

5. Christ calls to sincere and hearty obe­dience to his commands, and subjection to his revealed Will and Law: he calls to take his yoke upon us, and learn of him, Mat. 11.29. This call is like unto that of Boaz to his Kins­man, Ruth 4. Buy Naomi's inheritance: but know also that thou must buy it of Ruth; i. e. buy the inheritance, but thou must take her to be thy wife also, to raise up seed to thy kinsman that is dead. So saith our Saviour, [Page 27] Come, and take the inheritance that I have purchased for th [...], and thou art freely wel­come to it; but know, that in the day where­ [...]in thou dost this, thou must also [...] me to be thy Lord and Husband, and [...] so­lemnly engage to behave thy [...] as a loyal, faithful and obedient wife to me; thou must take me wholly, as I am, onely, absolutely and everlastingly, not only for a Priest to make atonement for thy Sins, and to sanctifie and offer thy gifts to the Father; but as a Prophet, to teach thee such Laws. Statutes and Judg­ments, as are fit and requisite for thee to ob­serve: and as a King, to rule and govern thee by my Law: Thy heart must be my Throne, and there must I sit, and exercise my Authority, and have thy whole man at command. This Christ calls for: but alas! too many that (like Boaz his Kinsman) have a mind of the benefit and inheritance, yet here turn their backs, and will rather let the inhe­ritance go to another, than they will take Christ with it: Many will have Christ his Crown, but few will take up his Cross: and therefore Christ his calls are but slowly heark­ned to in this respect.

6. Christ calls sometimes to awaken and excite his Spouse, when she is dull and slug­gish in her work: sometimes the hearts of [Page 28] Gods own people grow lazy and sluggish, ei­ther laying aside their spiritual work, or per­forming it lazily. If they pray, they pray heartlessly and carelesly, as if they mattered not whether they sped or not. If they read or hear, they do it in too formal and customary a manner, not studying to profit thereby. If they come to the Lords Table, they come not with that appetite, and enlarged desire and expectation that they should; though indeed their wants are many and great, yet if God should put the same question to them, that he did to Elijah, What dost thou here Eli­jah? it would be hard for them to give a clear and particular answer, or a good ac­count of their being there. They have Sins enough to repent of, but yet the sight of Christ bleeding and dying doth but little move or affect them: They can look upon him whom they have pierced, and yet mourn but little over him; they can behold what Christ hath done and suffered, out of pure love to them, and yet have little stirrings of Joy and Thankfulness in their hearts. And as for their spiritual watch, they let that fall, though in their enemies country; and hereby they give advantage and opportunity to their ene­my to tempt them, and take them in his net. Therefore that careful and faithful Captain of [Page 29] our Salvation, seeing in what danger we are, not only in regard of our enemies watchful­ness, but in regard of our lazy and sluggish posture, which indisposeth us for our work, and gives advantage to our adversary; he therefore calls upon us to awaken us, and quicken us to our watch, and to our work: to our watch, lest our enemy come and take us napping; and to our work, left the night come before our work be perfected. It is a manifest token of Christ his care and faithfulness, thus to knock and call by awakening Ordinances or Providences, when thus he finds us enclined to sloath, or sluggishness: and yet many times he is forced to call aloud before he can make us hear.

7. Christ calls to open to him, and take part with him of that rich feast, or banquet, which he hath prepared and brings with him. Be­lievers knowing their absolute dependance upon Christ for continual supply of grace and comfort, they make their request to Christ, that he would come and make a feast in their Souls; that he would fill their hearts with [...]ood and gladness; that his comforts may de­ [...]ight their heart, whatever other thoughts may trouble and cumber them: and hereupon Christ comes and knocks for opening and en­tertainment, saying, (as in the Text) Open to [Page 30] me, my Sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled— and promising, as Rev. 3.20. If any man will open to me, I will come in, and will sup with him, and he shall sup with me. Christ would not loose his feast when he hath prepared it, nor doth he love to eat his morsels alone; but desires the company of his Spouse, for whom he hath prepared them; and therefore calls. This was the case in the Text. The Spouse, vers. 16. of the foregoing Chapter, had prayed for the revival of Grace in her heart, that she might be prepared to receive and entertain Christ; and being so fixed, begs his company. This request is granted, for Christ according to her request comes, and desires to have the door opened to him: when Christ comes with loads of comfort, he many times findes the door of the heart fast shut against him, long knocks and calls before he gain admission. The Promises and Comforts of Christ stand many times long at the doors of our hearts be­fore we open to, and receive them by faith; and many an excuse and put-off will many a poor soul make against it self, before it will be perswaded to receive the promises for its own comfort; yea sometimes so compliment it, and plead excuses, till Christ in an ange [...] withdraw, and make the Soul long, and with an aking heart to seek Christ in the promises [Page 31] before she find him. And this (I conceive) is not the least part of the Holy Ghosts design to discover in this Text.

And thus have I shewed you some of those things which Christ would have when he knocks and calls. The last thing in the Ex­plication of the Doctrine, is to shew what are the special times of Christ his knocking and calling.

To this I answer in general, That there is no Dispensation of God that he exerciseth towards us, but it hath something of a call from God in it. Every Ordinance of God, is a call from God, and comes with some Mes­sage unto us. Messengers are not sent, but upon some message or errand. God's Mini­sters are his Messengers, sent unto us, with some word of Reproof, Instruction, Counsel, or Comfort. And therefore the Scriptures are said to be Profitable for Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, and Instruction in righteousness, 2 Tim. 13.16. And it is God's word that his Mes­sengers bring, and therefore their message is to be heeded, because it is a call or message from God. Every secret impulse of the Spi­rit, check, and conviction of thy Conscience, is a call from God, ought to be listened and hearkned to; for Conscience is God's Deputy or Vice-gerent in the soul. Every Provi­dence [Page 32] that befals thee, whether Mercy bestow­ed upon thee, or Affliction, is a Messenger sent from God, and hath something of a call in it, something that God would have thee to learn by it. Yea, even those common provi­dences, whether of good or evil, that befal thee in common with others, they come with some particular message to thee. A packet of Letters may be brought to a Town or place by one common Post or Carrier, but every ones Letter in particular comes about his own special business, though it come by the hand of the common Carrier. So in common Afflictions or Judgements, though they come in a common way, and by a common hand, either Humane or Divine, or in a common way of Providence; yet they come upon a particular errand, and about particular busi­ness, to the particular persons to whom they are sent. If they come to thee, know there­fore that they have some particular message to thee from Heaven; and therefore labour to understand the Voice, and learn the Lesson. But though there be something of a call from God in every passage of God's carriage towards us, yet there are some special times where­in God's calls are much more remarkable: and it would be of dangerous consequence to slight such calls, or let slip such opportuni­ties. [Page 33] And they are such times as these.

1. Christ his knocks and calls are very re­markable under powerful Ordinances, accom­panied with secret strivings of the Spirit, and convictions of our own Consciences. God qualifies and sends forth his Ministers to preach the Gospel unto those to whom he sends them, and hath promised to be with them al­ways, even to the end of the world, Matth. 28.19, 20. It is his work they are about, and they must have his assistance and direction in the Work. He must put words into their Mouths, such as may accomplish the end and errand for which he sends them to such persons or people. And hence it is, that the faithful Mi­nisters and Servants of Christ, are not onely diversly gifted and qualified for their work; but they find the Spirit of God variously di­recting, assisting, restraining, or enlarging, according as God is pleased to make use of them, and call them forth upon some parti­cular work and designe. There is scarce a faithful Minister of Christ but may observe this in himself by frequent experience, both in his private Studies, and publick Exercises. Now when God doth by his Spirit in a more than ordinary manner raise, enlarge, and di­rect his Servants in their studies; warming the Word upon their Hearts; and likewise [Page 34] inliven, and enlarge, and warm them in their publick work, and at the same time the Spi­rit of God is busie at work, striving with the people to whom this Message is sent, by secret impulses of his Spirit, and convictions of their Consciences; doubtless this is a re­markable call from Christ, and it would be of dangerous consequence to let slip such op­portunities, to stifle such Convictions, and to quench such motions of the Spirit. An emi­nent instance we have of this, Acts 18. where we have Paul at Corinth, inwardly pressed in his Spirit, v. 5. and therefore warmed in his work: and the same Spirit was also busie at work in the Hearts of his hearers; for many believed, v. 8. God encourageth him, and bids him not fear, but go on boldly with his work, and he will be with him, and defend him: And the reason was, because God had much people in that City, v. 9, 10. This was a remarkable time of Christ his calling: and the Jews opposing the Apostle, and rejecting this call, proved of dreadful consequence to them, v. 6. for the Apostle left them, and preached to the Gentiles. When Christ by his Spirit really warms the Heart of the Minister in his work, and withal sends his Spirit to open thine Ears to attend, to enlighten thy Understanding to apprehend, to convince thy [Page 35] Judgment of the truth of what is spoken, and to awake thy Conscience, and make thy Bowels to stir within thee, as here he did the Spouse, Cant. 5.4, 5. this is a special call from Christ; and take heed how thou resist­est it, or lettest it slip.

2. Christ his Knocks and Calls are emi­nent, under special and remarkable Providen­ces. The more eminent and remarkable God's Providences are towards them, the more loud and considerable are his calls up­on thee. As for instance,

1. Under visible danger of Christ his re­moval or withdrawing. If Christ shew signs and tokens of removing, it is to correct our former negligence, and to quicken us to lay faster hold upon him. Thus in this Chapter, whereof the Text is part, the Spouse did but too much slight Christ, in that she was so lazy that she would not arise to let him in; and therefore he withdrew, and made her seek him sorrowing, with an [...]aking Hea [...] and guilty self-condemning conscience, long be­fore she could finde him. Upon this account it is that Christ's departure from a person or people is many times gradual. He doth not depart on a sudden, but by steps and degrees; that every step may be a motive to lay hold upon Christ before he be quite gone. Thus [Page 36] we find he departed from the Temple of old, as is evident in Ezekiel's vision, chapter 10.11. The glory of God first removed to the door of the house, from thence to the Mountain, and then quite away. If we have any bu­siness with God, it is high time to improve our present oportunity, when God tells us by signes and tokens that he is removing, and ready to be gone. There is a wo immediate­ly falls upon that person or people from whom God departs, when he is gone, Hosea 9.12. Wo unto them when I depart from them. And therefore the signes of God's departure must needs be strong alarms to cause us speedily to lay hold upon God before he depart. There­fore saith the Prophet, Isai. 55.6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is neer.

2. When God hath for some time with­drawn himself, and afterward for some little space hath returned again, and manifested his presence or nearness: this is a loud call to improve our time, and while it is called today, to hearken, and not harden our hearts. We read in the parable of the barren Fig-tree, Luke 13.6, &c. that when the owner had come several years expecting fruit, and found none, he commands that the Tree be cut down, because it but cumbred the ground: but [Page 37] at the request and intercession of his Servant he spares it one year longer, and takes more pains with it that year than he had done of other years before; and if then it bear not fruit, it must be cut down without remedy. If after our many years barrenness in God's Orchard, and his threatning to cut us down, he takes more than ordinary pains with us, by his Word, Messengers, and Spirit, seeming more eminently and visibly to return to us for some space, to dig about us, and dung us: this is a loud call from him to improve the present opportunity, lest he cut us down, and there be no servant to stand in the gap, or speak a word for us. God's Ministers are his Husbandmen; and if God threaten to cut down any Tree, they cry out, Lord spare it a little longer, let us take a littl [...] more pains with it; and if then it will not be fruitful, we will hold our peace: and if hereupon God do for some time spare, and yet no fruit be brought forth, that Tree will be in great dan­ger to be cursed, and devoted to the fire. If once God say to his Ministers as once he did to Jeremy, Jer. 7.16. Pray not thou for this peo­ple, neither lift up prayer nor cry, for I will not [...]ear thee; such people must needs be in a sad condition: and therefore if our time be but [...] time of probation, it is dangerous to let [Page 38] it slip, lest God swear in his wrath, that we shall not enter into his rest. We finde that good and publick-spirited man, Ezra, chap. 9. v. 8, &c. sadly trembling and astonished at such a thing as this: God had punished his people by a seventy years Captivity for their sins: and now for a little time grace had been shewed to them from the Lord, to give them a nail in his Sanctuary, and some tokens of his favour, and visible presence; but now they begin to fall to their old course of sinning, and mis­improve this day of grace: this makes Ezra to tremble, and sit down astonished. And see what he saith in his Prayer to God, vers. 13. If after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds seeing that thou our God hast punished us lest than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this: should we again brea [...] thy commandments— Wouldst not thou b [...] angry with us, until thou hadst destroyed us, s [...] that there should be no remnant nor escaping [...] Clearly intimating, how dangerous a thing i [...] is, to shut our ear against such a call as thi [...] is.

3. Christs Call is eminent under great mer­cies spiritual or temporal largely bestowed upon us. The more largely God's hand i [...] opened to thee in Bounties, the more loud [...] his Knock and Call to thee to open to him [Page 39] the Psalmist makes this a strong argument to his soul to return to his God, Psal. 116.7. Re­turn unto thy rest (i. e. unto thy God, for God is the only true and perfect rest of the Soul) O my soul: for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. And if in this case thou shut him out, or turn a deaf ear to his call, the greater will be thy sin: we finde therefore the Spirit of God often aggravating the sins of men from this consideration; as in the case of David, 2 Sa­muel 12. when he had sinned in the matter of Ʋriah, God sends Nathan to him, who thus speaks to him from the Lord, ver. 7, 8, 9. I anointed thee king over Israel: and I delivered thee from the hand of Saul: I gave thee thy ma­sters house, and thy masters wives into thy bo­some, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah: And if that had been too little, I would moreover have given thee such and such things: wherefore then hast thou despised the command­ment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? — This made David's sin wonderfully great; and so is it a most sad aggravation of any mans sin: See how God pleads with his Church, Deut. 32. upon this account, Do you thus re­quite the Lord? Why, what had God done for them? See vers. 9, &c. he had chose them for his portion: His Providence had been won­derful about them, his Presence had been [Page 40] wonderfully with them, and his Goodness had been wonderful towards them; and that therefore they should grow fat and kick, was an heinous and intolerable affront, and would be dreadful in the issue, and therefore wisheth that they would be wise to consider their later end: let us therefore think of this, whom God hath so (every way) loaded with blessings.

4. Christs calls are remarkable, when his judgments are terrible; when the terribleness of Gods Judgments do manifest the heat of Gods wrath, then it is high time to know the voice of the rod, and who hath appointed it. We read Amos 4. God threatens to draw them forth with fish-hooks, and cast them out of their own land, because of their incorrigible­ness under his Judgments: he had so and so punished them for their sins, and yet they had not returned to the Lord, and therefore he would do thus with them, vers. 12. And what follows? (mark) And because I will do thus unto thee, therefore prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. This was a loud call, without any more de­lays to prepare to meet God. The same Pro­phet puts this question in the Negative, which the more strongly affirms, Amos 3.6. Shall a Trumpet be blown in the City, and the people not be afraid? When Gods Judgments sound as a Trumpet of an Enemy that hath taken [Page 41] the City, it is high time for the people to tremble.

5. When the meaning of Gods dealings with us is plainly and legibly written in the forehead of Gods dispensations towards us, the more loud and intelligible is his call. When the finger of God in his Providences plainly points at our carriages, easie to be read and understood, this makes the call more clear, and us the more inexcusable if we take not notice of it. Sometimes a man may plainly read his sin that God smites at, in his punish­ment: as David might read his sin of Adultery and Murder, in Absalom's Rebellion, and lying with his Concubines. Sometimes Judgments put such a stop to us in our sin, and take away the very occasion of our sins, or the things whereby we sin, that we may plainly see God correcting such a sin in us. Sometimes again, the circumstances of the puishment clearly point at the cause of them, as here in the Text. Christ his immediate departure, after the Spouse her complemental excuse and refulal to open to him, did most clearly point out her sin to her, and (no question) was a most bit­ter and biting sting upon her Conscience. Sometimes there comes secret convictions and intimations of the cause of Gods cotroversie, along with the affliction. God whispers us in [Page 42] the ear, and tells us that such a lash and scourge is for such a fault; and when these things fall out thus, they are loud calls from Christ to hearken to Instruction, and to bow our ear to Discipline. That saying of Elihu is very con­siderable for this purpose, Job 36.8, 9, 10, 11. If they be bound in fetters, and holden in cords of affliction: Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgression, that they have exceeded. He openeth their ear to discipline, and commandeth them to depart from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, then they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in plea­sure. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and shall dye without knowledge. And therefore it must needs be of dangerous consequence, to turn the deaf ear to such a loud call as this is. Thus remarkable Provi­dences are a loud call from Christ to open to him.

3. Christ his calls are remarkable, when he comes upon our calling and invitation; when we from a sense of his absence have earnestly begged for his coming, and he in answer to our prayers doth come, and stands knocking at the doors of our hearts for admission and entertainment; this call is very loud, and our refusal to open, would be most unworthy. This is the very case in the Text, and there­fore [Page 43] I need not multiply Texts or Instances about it, for the case is plain enough here. The Spouse had prayed that Christ would come into the garden of her heart; Christ makes no delay, but quickly comes, and might reasona­bly expect to find ready admission, being so earnestly invited; but contrary to his ex­pectation, he finds her in bed, the door shut, and she too lazy to arise to open to him; and therefore he withdraws in a discontent, as well he might. If therefore upon our ear­nest prayer Christ come and knock at the door of our hearts, either by his Ordinances or Providences, let us not stand debating whe­ther we shall let him in or not, whatever po­sture we be in, though naked in our bed: for this is a special time of his coming, and will be unkindly taken, if he finde not admission according to his invitation.

4. When Christ his calls are accompanied with a great deal of earnestness and impor­tunity. When Christ is in so very good ear­nest, that he woes and intreats, and will take no denial; this is a loud, because an earnest call, and argues that he is come very nigh, e­ven to the very door. Therefore the Prophet adviseth by all means to close with such an opportunity as this, Isai. 55.6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while [Page 44] he is neer. This was the case of the Spouse in the Text. Christ was come to her door, and not onely stood there knocking, but by all the friendly compellations imaginable, en­deavours to perswade her to let him in: Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled. And when this will not do, he comes near to the door, and puts in his finger by the hole of the door, as though he would make a for­cible entry; intimating his earnest desire to have admission: and therefore it was un­kindly done of her to keep him out, and cost her dear before he did come in. And so it may be with thee.

5. When Christ his Locks are wet with the dews of the night, then are his calls earnest and importunate, and it will be of dangerous conse­quence to keep him out. This is the argument which Christ makes use of in the Text, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. Many things may be included in this argument, and all of force to perswade her to let him in; and making the argument more strong and forcible, make the call to be so much the louder, and the denial the more unreasonable. The words may be taken in a good sense: My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. [Page 45] i. e. I come full fraught with all manner of Blessings and Benefits, that may tend to the chearing, refreshing, and fructifying of thy spiritual man. There is nothing wanting in me to make thee perfectly and every way hap­py; onely open to me, and let me in: and then thou shalt be made partaker of all that is mine, and all that is in me. What is not wanting in me, shall not be wanting to thee, onely open to me by Faith, and let me in. And the truth is, all our emptiness and penury ari­seth not from any want or defect in Jesus Christ, in him all fulness dwels; but from our selves, because we open not to him. And thus understood, they are an answer to the Spouse her prayer, Chapter 4.16. Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, and breath up­on my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. She prays for the breathings of the Spirit, whereby her Graces might be revived, and made more active, and odoriferou [...]. And to this Christ answers, that the onely way to ob­tain this in the extent and fulness of it, is to open to him by Faith, and let him into the Heart; and if she will do so, he assures her that he brings all fulness of grace and blessings with him, his very head and locks are filled with them; and surely this is a most full and convincing argument, [Page 46] being applied as an answer to her prayer, and might well have the force of a loud call in her ears, sufficient to raise her, though laid down to take her ease. But the words may also be taken in a bad sense, importing the misery and hardship which Christ had undergone in coming to her in so dark and wet a night, and that still he did endure by standing out of doors in the wet, and dark, and cold. As if Christ had said, O my dearest Spouse! thou, by thy prayer, which so lately thou didst send to me, didst importune my company and help; and out of that true affection which I have for thee, and commiseration of thy condition, I have undertaken this long and tedious Jour­ney, wherein I am benighted; the way hath been very foul, (for I have trodden the Wine­press of God's wrath alone, have endured much persecution in my own person, and the persons of my Ministers, and much contra­diction of sinners against my self; it hath cost me my dearest hearts blood to make my way to thee) and the weather hath been very wet, stormy, and tempestuous, so that I am wet to the very skin, not a dry hair upon my head, and the night hath been and is very dark, so dark, that it made me cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? and now I am come, I stand at thy door in this [Page 47] miserable wet and weary condition, desiring entrance and admission: Therefore open to me; and though thou be in thy warm bed, and at ease, yet consider what a sad condition I am in, and how bad and dangerous it is for my health to stand here in this condition; and do not so far forget thy relation to me, thy late request, the pains and hardship which I have endured, and do endure, and the reci­procal Affection which thou oughtest to bear unto me, as to suffer me to stand here out of doors, but arise quickly and open to me. If thou hast any pity or commiseration in thine heart, shew it now to me thy beloved Hus­band. And what could be said more, to make the argument pressing and cogent? and there­fore must needs have the force of a loud, a powerful, and irresistable call.

And thus I have done with the Explication; and now follows the proof and confirmation of the Doctrine; That to be lazy and secure, when Christ calls and knocks, may be of very dangerous consequence; especially when his coming and calling is in answer to our Prayers, as you see here it was in the Text. The truth of which will manifestly appear, from these following Considerations.

1. Let us consider the greatness of our in­gratitude and unkindness which hereby we [Page 48] manifest: nay, I may say, not onely unkind­ness and unthankfulness, but we hereby mani­fest wonderful hypocrisie and dissimulation: We importune and intreat Christ to come into our Souls; and (if our words were to be taken in prayer) we shew our selves to be very ear­nestly desirous of his company, and that we stand in great need of his help, and therefore will take no denial, but intreat again and again. At last Christ yields, consents, and (laying aside all other business) comes, little questioning but to finde us in a readiness to receive him; or however, willing to open to him when he knocks and calls, in regard we have so earnestly invited him. Therefore now at his coming to finde the doors shut, we so careless of his company as not to watch for him one hour; and when he knocks and calls, for us to answer, I have put off my coats how shall I put them on? I have washed my feet how shall I defile them? To make thus light o [...] his pains and coming, what greater unkind­ness, or manifest token of complementing dissimulation and hypocrisie can be shewed Well may Christ say, O Spouse! though thy invitations seemed to be real, yet by this car­riage I see, and plainly perceive the falsness and treachery of thy dissembling heart; fo [...] instead of dealing plainly and faithfully with [Page 49] me, thou hast but mocked me; and how canst thou then say, that thou lovest me? Well may Christ then take this ingratitude and dis­simulation unkindly from her, and take occa­sion hereupon to depart. If any of you should invite a friend to your house, and according to your earnest invitation your friend comes, but at his coming you shut the doors against him; and though you be within, yet you refuse to open to him, may he not well take this piece of ingratitude and mockery unkindly at your hands, and look upon it as an high affront put upon him, and therefore depart in a rage, and resolve to miss your door the next time he comes that way? But if a Wife should deal thus with her Husband, would not this manifest much dissimulation and unkindness? And may not he well take this as an high af­front, to be thus slightly looked upon by his Wife? Such is the case between Christ and his Spouse; and therefore no wonder though he depart in a discontent, when thus affronted, and treacherously dealt with. We finde it rec­koned among the Sufferings of Christ in his state of Humiliation, Isai. 53.2, 3. that he should be slightly esteemed and accounted of among men. — There is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and reje­cted of men. — We hid our faces, as it were, [Page 50] from him; He was despised, and we esteeme [...] hem not. So John 1.11. He came to his ow [...] and his own received him not. Thus to be despised and mocked, and that by his own, thi [...] goes near his heart, and may well put hi [...] into a rage against us. This affront woul [...] far more easily have been born, had it bee [...] from an enemy; but from a friend, and so near a relation, one that had given him so fai [...] an invitation, this cuts and wounds to th [...] very heart. See what David (personatin [...] Christ in the treachery of Judas) speaks Psal. 55.12, &c. It was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have born it. — Bu [...] it was thou a man, mine equal, my guide, an [...] mine acquaintance: this so provokes, that he saith, vers. 15. Let death seize on them, and let them go down quick into hell, for wickedness is among them. Yea, this struck sad upon Christs Spirit, Psal. 41.9. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against me. Such affronts as these cut deep; they wound to the very heart: and therefore no wonder if the effects and consequences which follow here­upon, be sad and dreadful to the soul.

2. Consider the great damage which our Souls sustein by keeping out the Lord Jesus Christ. If we shut him out, he may with­draw: [Page 51] nay, it is the next way to provoke him to withdraw, and how shall we then live with­out him? We read John 15.5. Without me, [...] e. Jesus Christ, ye can do nothing, neither pleasing to God, nor profitable to your selves. And therefore what a miserable condition are [...]ou left in, if Christ depart? Therefore saith God, Hos. 9.12. Wo also unto them when I depart from them. And assure thy self, that thou [...]anst not take a more effectual course to cause [...]im to withdraw, than to shut him out when [...]e comes at thine invitation. Christ may withdraw, yea, and so withdraw as never to [...]eturn again, or call at thy door more, Psal. [...]1.11, 12. My people would not hearken to [...]y voice, and Israel would none of me; so I [...]ave them up to their own hearts lust: and they walked in their own counsels. God knocked forty years at Israels door, but when no ad­mission would be had, then He sware in his [...]rath, that they should never enter into his rest. Psal. 95.10, 11. See that threatning against Ephraim, than which there could not be a greater, Hos. 4.17. Ephraim is joyned to I­ [...]ols, let him alone. As if God had said, There is no hopes of reclaiming him; I have called often at his door, but to little purpose: there­fore I will concern my self no more about him, I will call no more at his door. Read [Page 52] with trembling Ezek. 24.13, 14. Prov. 1.24, &c.

Sometimes though God may at last return and be reconciled, and call again, yet it may be long first, and many a weary step may he cause thee to take in seeking of him before thou find him. God threatens this, Hos. 5.15. I will go and return to my place, and hide my self until they seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. And we read in the Text, that Christ did deal thus with his Spouse. When she arose to open to her beloved, he had withdrawn himself, and was gone. Christ had heard and answered her at her first call: but since she had dealt so deceitfully and dis­ingeniously with him, she should now call and call again before he gave her any answer, should seek and seek him sorrowing before she should finde him. She was but now so lazy, easeful, and delicate, that she could not abide to be at so much pains as to put on her Coat, having put it off; could not endure so much hardship as to tread upon the floor with her naked foot, lest she should defile it: But if Christ be so little store set by, her love to Christ shall be further tried; she shall take a longer Journey, and not complain so much of the soulness of the way neither before she finde him. If it be so tedious a Journey to [Page 53] cross the house-floor, Christ will see whether she will take a journey through the streets, and high-ways, in as dark and foul way and wea­ther as he hath come, before she finde him; that so she may know something of what he hath endured in coming to her, and may now readily open to him the next time. And therefore it is of dangerous consequence to shut out Christ, when he knocks and calls.

3. Consider the benefits and bounties which Christ brings with him into the Soul that o­pens to, and entertains him: Our Saviour saith, Rev. 3.20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man open to me, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me. If Christ will make a Feast unto the Soul that lets him in, it must needs be ill to keep him out. The Soul hath no such store of provision within her self, as to despise the Feasts which Christ will make her. In the Text Christ makes use of this Argument to move her to open the door, For my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night: which being taken in a good sense, (as was noted before) intimates the fulness of Blessings and Benefits which Christ comes loaden with, when he desires entrance into the Soul. Sure I am, that he that commands that None should appear before the Lord empty, [Page 54] will not himself come empty-handed, to give his Spouse a visit, especially knowing her needs, and for what end she desires his company. Would you see what Christ bring with him, read Cantic. 2.3, 4, 5, 6. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was pleasant to my taste. He brought me into his banquetting-house, and his bann [...] over me was love. —His left hand is unde [...] my head, and his right hand doth embrace me [...] If he do but breath upon our Gardens, the Spic [...] will flow out, Cant. 4.16. He brings enoug [...] with him to feast us and all our friends, Cantic. 5.1. yea, and bids both them and us heartily welcome. See John 14.18, 19. I wi [...] not leave you comfortless: I will come to you But what will he bring with him? He wi [...] bring life, vers. 19. Because I live, ye sha [...] live also. Where Christ comes, he brings th [...] which will beget life, and spirits, grace an [...] comfort: He fills the Soul with mir [...]h an [...] comfort, and abundant satisfaction where h [...] comes, Psal. 36.7, 8, 9. therefore it is da [...] gerous not to open to him at his call.

4. Consider our great unworthiness th [...] Christ should come under our roof. If Jac [...] found cause to say, that he was less than th [...] least of Gods mercies; how much more w [...] reflecting upon our own unworthiness, m [...] [Page 55] say with David, Psal. 8.4. Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Would we take a true view of our own state, and see how fit we are for the entertainment of Jesus Christ, see what the Holy Ghost saith of us, Ezech. 16. there he tells thee thy pedigree, vers. 3. Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite, a cursed blood, of a cursed stock. He tells thee also the manner of thy nativity, and in what posture God found thee, vers. 4, 5. a naked and wretched infant, cast out in its goar-blood and filthiness, none to pity or do any necessary office of kindness for [...]hee; and in this posture and condition God [...]ound thee, and set his love upon thee, when [...]here was nothing to be seen that was lovely [...]n thee: thou wast a poor beggar, that had either meat for thy belly, nor clothes to cover [...]ny nakedness, nor a penny of money in thy [...]urse; in this condition he found thee, set his [...]ove upon thee, entered into covenant of mar­ [...]age with thee, espoused thee to be his Wife, [...]ecked and adorned thee with the Jewels of his [...]race, made thee comely through his comeliness [...]t upon thee, set thee up in high and honour­able estate: see Psal. 45.9. the Queen stands Christs right hand in Gold of Ophir, vers. 13, 4. The Kings daughter is all glorious within, [...] raiment is of needle-work, &c. The Virgins [Page 56] her companions must wait upon her. All this, and more than the tongue of Men or Angels can express, hath Christ done for thee, who art a most unworthy wretch; and therefore if now when he comes and calls, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, &c. that now thou shouldest make such a saucy and slight answer, I have put off my coats, how shall I put them on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? this may justly make Christ to repent of his match, and therefore of dangerous consequence. We read, Luke 7.6. the Centurion, when Christ was in the form of a Servant, in his estate of Humilia­tion, said, Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof. How much more unworthy are we of the spiritual presence and company of Christ, now he is in his estate of Exaltation? And therefore the most unwor­thy and disingenious act that can be, is now to shut him out when he knocks and calls at the doors of our Hearts. desiring entertain­ment. Well then may Christ take this as a most horrible affront, from such base and un­worthy upstarts as we are, who but the other day were naked and beggarly creatures. But this will yet appear to be a greater affront if

5. We consider the great condescension o [...] [Page 57] Christ in coming. Christ is the eternal Son of God, and Heir of all things; he is the King of Glory, Psal. 24.7, 8, 9, 10. His Throne is in Heaven: His Kingdom is over all: He is God blessed for ever; needs not thee to adde any thing to his happiness. It is a con­descension in him to behold the things that are done in Heaven, much more to be­hold any earthly creature. And yet this King of Kings, and Lord of Lords comes to thy poor, sootty, beggarly Cottage; knocks at the door of thy Heart, desires admission and entertainment there, and will be content either with such as he findes, or such as he brings. For thee therefore to shut out this King of Glory, is a most inexcusable affront. Let me illustrate these two Arguments, of our unworthyness, and Christ his condescen­sion, by this similitude.

Suppose the greatest King or Emperor in the world should meet a poor, naked, nasty, de­formed Beggar, nothing but Dirt and Lice; not a rag to cover her nakedness, not a mor­sel of bread to put in her mouth, not a Cot­tage to put her head in, not a penny in her purse, but more in debt than she and all her friends in the world are able to pay, and there­fore cast out of her house and harbour, no­thing but the bare Dunghil to lie upon, naked, [Page 58] whatever weather come, and so our of cre­dit as that none would pity her, or let her come in: This great Emperor casts his eye upon her, pities her condition, sets his love upon her, promiseth that if she will take him for her Husband, he will pay her debts for her, procure her a discharge, will marry her, and make her his Bride or Queen, wash away all her filthyness, deck and adorn her with all costly Jewels and Raiment suitable to the quality and degree of such a persons wife as himself is, and that there shall be nothing wanting to make her happy: Hereupon the match is concluded, and he owns her for his Spouse, decks and adorns her according to promise, puts clothes upon her back rich and costly, and money in her purse; yet takes her not for the present home to his Court and Pa­lace, but leaves her a while in her smoaky Cottage: she pretending love to him, thinks his absence long, and therefore sends to him to intreat his company: such is the ardour of his affection, that he comes without delay, though the weather be wet and stormy, the way foul and deep, the night dark, and the Journey tedious; findes her in bed, the doors shut, and therefore knocks and calls, saying, Open to me, my dearest Spouse, for I am come at thy request, though I have not a dry hair [Page 59] upon my head, or thread upon my back; there­fore open to me, and let me in: And she should say, I am gone to bed, I cannot get up, I cannot take so much pains now as to put on my coat, I am composing my self for rest, have washed my feet, have no minde to de­file or dirty them with coming over the floor; and therefore if you would have come in, you should have come sooner. Suppose all this, would this answer be well taken? might not this be of dangerous consequence to this proud beggar, and give just occasion to blast all her hopes? Have I undervalued my self thus (may the King say) to advance a proud beg­gar, and doth she serve me thus? But I will leave her in the condition I found her, and come no more at her. This is the case be­tween Jesus Christ and his Spouse; nay, there cannot be that inequality between the highest Prince in the world and the meanest Beggar, that there is between Jesus Christ and his Spouse. And therefore we may easily ima­gine, of how dangerous consequence it may be, to shut out Jesus Christ when he knocks and calls, especially when his coming is in answer to our Prayers.

6. Consider the great wrong which we do to Jesus Christ, if we do not open to him at his call. The wrong that will fall upon Christ, [Page 60] by our not opening to him, is set down in the Text, in these words, For my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night; which words (as we told you before) may be taken in a bad sense as well as a good, denoting the misery, sufferings, and afflictions, that Jesus Christ endures, in making way, and coming unto his people: in which words I would observe (1.) the great pains which Je­sus Christ had taken to come; such was the length and tediousness of the way, so many obstructions and lets, so many difficulties and hardships, that he was benighted, and it was got very late when he came: and therefore pity to let him stand any longer wet and weary. Oh, what haste would a loving Wife make to arise and open to her Husband, in such a case as this is! And if she did not, her Husband might well take it unkindly at her hands: And yet the Spouse here makes an Apology, I have put off my coat, &c. Such carriage as this may well cause him to with­draw.

2. Here is mention made of Drops and Dews of the night; which seem to denote Afflictions, and Sufferings, and Hardships; for so we finde them made use of in Scripture: when Jacob would set forth what hardship he endured with his Father-in-law Laban, in his [Page 61] service, he saith, Gen. 31.40. In the day the drought consumed me, and the frosts by night. Afflictions in many places are compared to the Night; and so they may well be under­stood here, especially considering how wet and stormy a night it was. And truely Jesus Christ had very stormy weather to come to his Spouse: we read in Scripture what hard­ships he met with in the way. See how Christ himself complains, Psal. 102.23. He hath weakned my strength in the way, he hath shortned my days. He met with the storms of di­vine wrath, which made him to cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The storm was so bitter, that he prays, Fa­ther, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: and yet it pleased the Father to bruise him, and make his soul an offering for sin: He bare our griefs, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was laid upon his shoulders, and with his stripes we were healed: yet we accounted him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He endured hardship not only from enemies, but from friends; and therefore saith, These were the wounds which I received in the house of my friends, Zech. 13.6. And surely this was a stormy night; that the Spouse therefore should deny him entrance such a night as this was, especially when he had endured all this for her [Page 62] sake, that he might come to her, was great unkindness, and might well provoke him to withdraw.

3. His urging this argument seems to im­ply the great prejudice that might come to him by her delay, and making him to stand wet and weary there. The force of the ar­gument seems to lie here, and he thus argues: O my Spouse, I have undertaken a very sad and wearisome Journey for thy sake; I am at last (though late) come in a weary, wet, and dropping condition to the door, it may be very prejudicial to my health to stand long here in this condition I am in: as thou pitiest my life and health, and hast any respect for me, open and let me in, and suffer me not to stand here and catch my death. What more forcible argument could be made use of to a Wise that hath any real respect for her Husband? and yet in this sluggish humour she tells him, She hath put off her Coats, and cannot put them on: she will rather suffer her Husband to starve at the door, than she will be at the pains to put on her Coat and let him in.

Indeed such unkind carriages as these, are prejudicial to Christ's health, they wound and Crucifie him afresh, as the Apostle speaks, Heb. 6.6. It must needs take a deep and sorrow­ful impression upon the heart of Christ, to [Page 63] think that this should be the requital of all his sufferings, and that from the hand of his Spouse: well may this then cause his Jealousie to burn, and cause him in a rage to withdraw himself. Consider this, that every denial, e­very delay to open to Christ, cuts him to the very heart, and doth (as it were) make his pierced heart to bleed afresh.

4. The patience of Christ in all his suffer­ings, seems here to be pointed at also. He had not onely watched till he had felt a drop, but drops, yea, till his Head was filled with drops: he was wet to the very skin, not a dry thred, or free place about him, and therefore could endure to stay no longer: and therefore so earnestly calls, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. To refuse to open in this case, must needs be a great wrong to Christ, and may cost us dear, if he should thereupon depart, as justly he might, being thus wronged and af­fronted by us. But

5. There is one thing more in the Call which makes the wrong intolerable; and that is, the place where he calls is his own house, the door whereat he knocks is his own door. We told you before, that the place where Christ knockt, was at the door of the heart. [Page 64] And the Spouse had before given her heart to Christ; therefore it was his own door that he knocks at, and to his own Spouse that he calls, Open to me, &c. And therefore what an intolerable wrong is here, to keep Christ out of his own house, to keep his own door lockt against him, in such weather, and in such a condition as he was! it is a wonder that in­stead of withdrawing, he did not fire the house about her ears, but that he is an infinitely patient Husband. Such carriages as these are intolerable wrongs to Christ, and there­fore may cost us dear.

6. Consider the earnest and sweet perswasives that Christ at his coming and knocking makes use of to procure his admission. There are three Texts of Scripture which I would pitch upon, from thence to gather the sweet winning arguments that Christ ordinarily makes use of, when he knocks and calls at the door of his Spouse. One is the Text; ano­ther is the Parable of the great Supper at the marriage of the Kings son, Luke 14.17, &c. and the third is Rev. 3.20. And from these Texts I would gather these three Arguments, which Christ makes use of.

1. He wooes and intreats from that nee [...] relation that is between them. She was his sister and spouse; as if Christ should have [Page 65] said thus: My dear sister and spouse! it is thy dear Brother and Husband, that is come wet and weary to thy door, stands here, wet to the very skin, My head filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. Canst thou finde in thine heart to lie snorting in thy bed, and taking thine ease, and hear thy poor afflicted wearied Brother and Husband stand without in all this stormy weather, knocking and calling, and not take so much pains as to come to the door to open to me? Thou needest not stir a foot out of the doors, but onely come to the door and open it. Hast thou no more of a sympathizing and com­miserating spirit in thee? Will the nearness of our relation work no more upon thee? If I were a stranger to thee, I could say the less for my self; (though common pity should be shewed to strangers) but being so nearly related to thee, me thinks I should not need to multi­ply words, but might finde present admission and ready entertainment: why then dost thou not come? Now a refusal or slighty neglect in this case will scarcely be born: the bond of Relation should double the force of the Argument. And therefore unkindnesses from near relations, are of a more provoking and exasperating nature, than from other persons: because better things are expected. And there­fore [Page 66] to deny to open to Christ, when thus he calls, and pleads such an argument as this, must needs be highly provoking, and of dan­gerous consequence.

2. He wooes and intreats from the dea [...] and reciprocal affection that was betwixt them: My Love, my Dove, my undefiled. Oh, what sweet compellations! How can these be denied? And surely Christ is in good earnest, he doth not dissemble or flatter. Doth Elihu say, Job 32.22. I know not how to give flattering titles, for in so doing my Maker would soon take me away? And do you think that our faithful Lord and Husband Jesus Christ would flatter and dissemble? Surely, no: He is real there­fore in these sweet and heart-melting com­pellations, which are expressions of Love coming from his very heart. My love, my dove, my undefiled. As if Christ should have said, Thou art she, whose heart is joined to mine in most sincere and cordial Affection: I have set my love onely upon thee, and have chosen thee out of the world to be my Spouse, Have loved thee with an everlasting love, and there­fore with loving kindness have I drawn thee: and I know that thou hast a real kindness and respect for me, and that thou preferrest my Love before Wine, or any thing that can be named: And that in thine eyes (however [Page 67] contemptible I may be in the eyes of the world) I am altogether lovely. Oh therefore let not sloath and drowziness so far prevail, and make thee to forget thy love to me, and my love to thee (which I have given thee full and frequent assurance of) as to suffer me to stand here in the wet and cold. And what hard-hearted Wife could resist such a heart-melting Argument as this? Yea thou art my Dove. Doves are kind to, and mourn sore for the absence of one another: Thy mate, O my Dove! is at the door, and wilt thou not let him in? Yea further, thou art my undefiled, my chast Spouse; I cannot think that thine heart is in the least alienated from me, or set upon any other Lover: I am not jealous of thee, and therefore shew thy faithfulness and loyalty by opening unto me, that I may not have occasion of jealousie, left in mine ab­sence thy heart should be taken with some o­ther Lover. If this argument will not work, what may Christ think? Would it not then be of dangerous consequence to do that, which may give occasion of jealousie to our Lord and Husband? and therefore the Doctrine must needs be true.

3. He wooes and intreats from the great advantage which his coming in would be unto her. Christ seldom or never [Page 68] invites us to our loss, but we are sure to be gainers by every duty or work he puts us upon: He tells her here, that his head was filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. Which being taken in a good sense (as was noted before) imports, that Christ came full fraught with blessings and benefits, not an hair of his head but would afford some drop of comfort or benefit, which would make amends for the pains which she should be at, in rising and opening to him. And if we read Rev. 3.20. he tell us, that If any man will open unto him, he will come in and sup with them, and they with him. There is Emphasis and weight in every word, he would come in. This piece of condescention in him, was a sufficient recompence of her pains; it was a great ho­nour, that such a guest should come under her roof. That such a glorious person as Christ, who is God equal with the Father, and before whom the very Angels cover their faces with their wings, as not able to behold his Glory. That such a glorious person as this is, should come into such a smoaky cottage, as that of mans heart, is wonderful condescention, and therefore honour enough put upon the Spouse, which might abundantly recompence her la­bour in opening to him. But this is not all, he would come in, and therefore she (being [Page 69] within) should have his company, stand in his presence, In whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for ever­more. And surely his company is no little worth, and that she her self being judge, or else wherefore doth she so earnestly pray for it, Cant. 4. v. 16. Fruition is that which Love labours after, and which alone gives satis­faction and rest to the motion of love. She might now enjoy her beloved, which she had so earnestly panted after, and long looked for: and surely her pains in rising and opening to him could not be so great, as to over-weigh the benefit and desireableness of his company. But yet this is not all, he would sup with her. Oh wonderful condescention! will the King of Glory take, and be content with such a supper as can be provided for him in such a poor beggarly Cottage as man's Heart! is there any dish there that can please or give content to him? Have we any thing in our Hearts that will feast Christ? Oh then open quickly, and let him have it without any delay. For, to be sure, there is nothing there, that is worth the having, but what is of his own sending in: and it is no better, if not worse, for coming through our hands; and therefore stick not to let him have it.

But yet further, he will not onely sup with [Page 70] us, that is, be refreshed with the fruitfulness and sweetness of our Graces, as is evident Cant. 5.1. but we shall sup with him, that is, he will feast us with his comforts and bene­fits. Christ never comes empty handed, but he brings such blessings and benefits with him, as by their excellency and suitableness, will not fail abundantly to refresh our souls, and wherewith the Soul will be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, as David was, Psal. 63.5, 6. Christ never comes in unto any soul, that sincerely opens to him, but he takes them into his Banqueting house, and his banner over them is love: He stays them with flaggons, and comforts them with apples, Cant. 2.4, 5. He abundantly satisfies them with the fatness of his house, and makes them drink of the river of his pleasures; for with him is the Fountain of Life, and in his light we shall see light. Psal. 36.8, 9. And will not then Christ's Feast make amends for our pains in opening to him? But you will say, What can Christ bring with him in such dark and stormy wea­ther? Read but Luke 14.17. It is supper­time, Come, for all things are now ready. There is no dish wanting that may make a complea [...] Feast, all things are in a prepared posture you need do no more but take and eat. Is i [...] therefore better to lie starving in thy bed, that [Page 71] to rise and eat? Will not Christ's Kingly Feast (if it were nothing but for the rarities of it) make amends for thy pains in rising? You see therefore what force this argument hath every way to prevail with her to arise and open to him; and can we think our de­nial will be well taken?

Let me onely adde this consideration more from this last expression, Luke 14.17. Come, for all things are now ready. Christ hath been at great care and charges to provide a Royal and suitable Supper for us, (not suitable to our deserts; for then it would be a miserable one; but suitable to our need and necessity) wherein no variety is wanting, that may ei­ther nourish us, or truely satisfie us, and make us happy; and all things are now prepared and in a readiness; so that if you come not, and that quickly, Supper will be spoiled, and all his labour and charge will be lost: And will he take this well at your hands? Verily no, v. 24. None of those that were bidden shall taste of my Supper, since they make so light of it. And yet rather than I will want guests for my Table, and my Supper be lost, I will send into the hedges and high-ways, and com­pel others to come in; but as for those that made so light of it, they shall not taste it. How sad will it be with every soul that [...]s [Page 72] thus shut out from Christ's Supper! Is it not then of dangerous consequence to exclude Christ when he knocks and calls, and these sweet and heart-melting arguments (flow­ing from the highest degree of love and con­descention) are turned back with an unkinde (though complementing) denial?

8. Argument to prove that to refuse to open to Christ when he knocks and calls, may be of dangerous consequence, especially when his coming is in answer to our prayers, may be taken from the unreasonableness of all excuses that may be pretended as the reason of our sluggishness and sloth. It is true, when we should do any thing for Christ that may cost us any pains or trouble, the flesh is very fruitful and abundant in producing shifts and excuses to hide and cover our backwardness and unwillingness: and indeed, so apt are we to favour our selves, that the meanest and most unreasonable excuse, (to us) seems to carry strength enough of reason, to render the calls and commands of Christ unreasona­ble, and our refusal plausible. If we look back into the Text, we shall finde the Spouse her arguing so unreasonable, that the very arguments she makes use of, are so far from reasonable excuses, that if right conclusions were drawn from them, they would rather [Page 73] enforce Christ's request, than excuse her sloth: And at the best, they are but frivolous shifts to excuse her sluggishness. And (indeed) such are all the excuses which the flesh makes, a­gainst the calls and commands of Christ. Let us a little examine them, and you will see the weakness of them. I have put off my coats, how shall I put them on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? Putting off the Coats, intimates to us, the laying aside of her watchfulness, as being free from the fear of any danger, and no longer expecting or waiting for the company of any friend: whereas the keeping of our Garments fast girded to us, implies the contrary. And this is the argument that she pleads, why it was an impossible thing for her to arise and open to Christ. But is this good arguing, when truely enquired into, and laid down in plain terms? I have laid aside my watch, I expect no further company of Christ this night, nei­ther do I much desire it, but had rather take my rest.

Is this she that but now, in a sense of her want, had begged so earnestly for Christ's com­pany, and was so desirous to be prepared for it, that Christ might not finde her undressed? Compare this Answer with her Prayer, Cant. 4.16. and see how those two arguings will [Page 74] stand together; and yet both come forth o [...] the same mouth. Was her desire of Christ then so great? and is her love to Christ now so cold? Would she then have Christ to come (and calls him her beloved, the beloved of h [...] soul) and will she not now watch for him one hour? but hath laid by her Coat of watchfulness, as though she never looked for him, or cared for his company? yea, will no [...] gird on her Coat of watchfulness, now where Christ stands at the door? but her coat is off and shall not be put on again that night. May not the Spouse be ashamed to own such an argument as this? was it not her sin to lay aside her watch, when she had begged Christ's company? and will she excuse one sin with another? excuse her present sloath with her un­watchfulness? Might she not have more rea­sonably argued thus? I may put on my Coat with shame enough, since my beloved Husband hath found me in this careless posture, and wretched regardlesness of his coming, when I have so earnestly prayed for it. And thus the Argument would conclude against her, and be no excuse for her. But again, I have laid by my watch, how shall I take it up again? what, is the Devil, and all the Enemies of thy soul asleep? Is not the night the time when Thieves walk about, and seek their opportuni­ty [Page 75] to break through and steal? And is this the time to lay aside all fear and watchfulness, and to compose thy self for rest? Is the time of spiritual war and danger over? Or rather, art not thou in greatest danger, when Christ hath set thee upon thy watch, and himself is absent from thee? Some such thoughts surely thou hadst, when thou so earnestly prayed for his company. Art thou not ashamed to have the Captain of thy Salvation to finde thee off from thy watch, in such a dangerous time? And wilt thou think to excuse this thy sin and fault, by telling him that it is impossible for thee to put on thy coats, and stand to thy watch, now when he is come? Oh unrea­sonable arguing! Oh shameful excuse! It is a wonder that thou dost not blush at the shamefulness and unreasonableness of thine own arguing, and that thine own Conscience and sense of guilt doth not retort back thine own argument against thy self.

And truely the second part of her excuse is no better, but in some respects worse: I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? The washing of the feet in those hot Countries, was to supple them, and clear them from dust and sweat, in order to rest and refreshment; that they might the better take their ease being weary. So that her argument runs thus: I [Page 76] have been exceeding weary with working and labouring all day, and now have laid aside all my work; and on purpose and designe, that I might take the more full and quiet rest, I have washed my feet, and am composing my self for rest: and therefore it is unreasonable to call me out of bed now to defile my feet. Let us a little weigh the argument, and you shall see, how instead of making for her as an excuse, it makes strongly against her. Is Christs work so wearisome and irksome, that she is now so weary of it, that she must pur­posely and designedly lay it aside? was it not her sin to be weary of well-doing? And is she now so bold and daring in sin, as to plead this as an argument to prove Christ unreaso­nable in calling her to her work again? Doth Christ say, Blessed are they that at his coming he shall finde so doing? And may not she be ashamed to be found idle, and that upon deliberate thoughts? She cannot say that this sluggish fit was a surprize, and that she was overtaken against her will: for she deliberated about it, designed it, and in order to her more quiet rest, had washed her feet; and therefore may be ashamed of it, since her work is not finished and perfected. Much more may she be ashamed to plead this as an argument of Christ's unreasonableness in cal­ling. [Page 77] She might indeed be ashamed to let Christ come in and see how little work she had done; but little reason to complain of her weariness with doing Christ's work. But this is not all; for her refusal is most shame­less, in that she accounts it a defiling of her feet to arise and open to Christ. And is this so? That which she calls a washing of her feet, in reason might rather be accounted a defiling them, than her rising to open to Christ; that was her sin, but this is her duty. That she might be ashamed of, but this she need not. The dirt of affliction, and diffi­culty in duty, may easily be wiped off; but the filth of sin is not so easily washed off: no­thing but the blood of Christ can cleanse from this, and she must open and let him in, before this can be done. And therefore, if she had understood what she had said, she might have been ashamed of such an argument as this; but that persons shame at nothing that may carry the least colour of excuse; when they are mindful to do any thing, they will abuse, and miscal, and misrepresent things. Wilful sloath and sluggish security, laying aside our watch and the work of Christ, must be called and nick-named a putting off our coats, and wash­ing our feet: whereas if this be washing the feet, I know not what is defiling them. [Page 78] What horrible blindness is there in sinners, to cast that upon Christ and his work, which he may (with greater force and shame to us) cast back in our faces! And yet this was the Spouse her excuse, the unreasonableness whereof we do here see. Oh! should Christ have given himself to ease, and composed himself for rest, when he was about the work of our Redemption, tugging and toiling at it, till he swet drops of blood and water; yea till his hearts blood was spent, and poured upon the ground as water: and should he then have pleaded this argument that here she pleads to him; I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? I am well enough, and at rest in the bosome of my Father, solacing my self in the enjoyment of him, and reposing my self in his eternal Love: how can I leave this, and defile my self with the rags of hu­mane nature, and load my back with the burden of humane sins: and though I be the King of Glory, yet endure the contradiction of sinners against my self, and take upon m [...] the form of a servant, and become obedient unto the Law: and all to do sinful rebellio [...] man a courtesie and kindness, to bring him out of that misery, which he could never ri [...] himself of, but must have sunk and perishe [...] [Page 79] under, to all eternity: and nothing but just, because he had wilfully, by his own sin, plun­ged himself into this gulf of misery. If (I say) Christ should have thus pleaded, when he was about the work of our Redemption, and our necessity called for his help, or we were undone for ever; what had become of us? And yet we are not ashamed to plead such un­reasonable excuses, when he calls upon us to open to him. Surely, such unkind requital of Christs kindness to us, and such unrea­sonable excuses for our own laziness and sloath, may highly provoke and diso­blige him, and prove of very dangerous con­sequence to us. The like may be said of those excuses made Luke 14. and indeed of all excuses that the flesh can make against our opening to Christ at his call; because there can be no reason given why we should keep Christ out of his own house (our hearts) since he hath so dearly bought and paid for them. But by what hath been said already, in this case, you may see the unreasonableness of keeping Christ out of our hearts, when he calls for admission: which may be sufficient to [...]rove that it may be of dangerous consequence, and therefore I shall no further enlarge up­on this head.

9. I might draw an argument à facto, and [Page 80] argue ab esse ad posse; such a thing was, and therefore it may be. It proved of very sad consequence to the Spouse here to keep out Christ. He in a discontent withdrew, and departed, and left her in a very sad condition; both in respect of her inward guilt, for giving him such an unkind, ungrateful, and irratio­nal answer; and also in respect of the pains which she was glad to take before she found him again: before, it would defile her feet to come over the house-floor to open to her be­loved, and was too hard and unreasonable a work for her to do; but now she follows him, and calls after him, through the mity streets and high-ways, and never complains of wearyness, nor the foulness of the way; but would be glad to finde him whatever it cost her, or whatever she endured. And be­ing of such consequence to her, why may it not be so to us? nay certainly it will be so, if we, as she, refuse to open to him at his call. But I have exceeded my first intentions, in enlarging upon the former particulars; and therefore shall speak no more to this. The Doctrine being sufficiently proved, by what hath been already said.

And so I come at last to make Application, and the 1 Ʋse shall be by way of Instruction, or Information.

[Page 81] Is it of such dangerous consequence to be sluggish and secure, when Christ calls? Then hence learn,

1. That it will be of blessed consequence to be watchful, and in a readiness to open when Christ knocks and calls. Our Saviour tells us, Matth. 24.46, 47. Blessed is that Ser­vant, whom his Lord, when he comes, shall finde so doing — He shall make him ruler over all his goods. And therefore by the same argument he adviseth us to watchfulness, and that with­out weariness, or giving over till he come, Luke 12.35, 36, 37, 38. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning: and ye your selves like unto men that wait for their Lord when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom when the Lord cometh shall finde watch­ing: Verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or in the third watch, and finde them so, blessed are those ser­vants. Mark, that at whatsoever time he come, if he finde them about their watch, and at their work, they shall be blessed. But that I may clear this a little further, that they are thus blessed, consider with me these few particulars.

1. Consider the satisfaction that it will be [Page 82] to a gracious heart, to be at home, and at his work, or on his watch, when Christ calls. I an intimate Friend do but call at our door we account it an happiness that he found [...] within. How much more will a gracious soul account it an happiness, that his beloved Jesus, at his coming, found him within, in readiness and preparedness to give him the best entertainment that he had? Especially considering these three things.

1. The duty which we owe to Christ, to be always upon our watch, Matth. 25.13. Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the how when your Lord will come. which shews that it is the will and command of Christ, that we should always watch till Christ do come. Oh! saith the Soul, this is my duty, never to sleep or be secure, but always to be watching: what an happy chance was it, that I was upon my watch when my Lord and Master came and that he found me so doing, found me it my duty. Surely he will take this well at my hand, and I shall be blessed.

2. Considering our preparedness to receive him. He that looks for a Friend, will have every thing in readyness against he come, to make his friend welcome. So will a gracious Soul that expects Christ his coming, will have every thing in a readiness for his wel­come [Page 83] entertainment, and account it his happi­ness that he had so. It will be wonderful satisfaction to the Soul, to have Christ come, when she is in a readiness and preparedness for his entertainment.

3. Consider the Souls earnest looking for Christ his coming. When we expect a friend coming, and have taken a great deal of pains to prepare, and make ready, for his entertain­ment, and have all things in readiness; we stand at the door and watch, and begin to think him long, and ready to think every one that comes to the door to be our friend: when our friend doth come, we are very glad, and bid him heartily welcome, and tell him we began to think him long, and were afraid lest any business should have prevented his com­ing, and therefore are very glad to see him come, and account our selves happy that our expectation is fulfilled. So is it with the Soul that is in this waiting posture for Christ. O my dear Saviour! saith she, I thought it long that thou hadst been absent from me; I gave thee an earnest invitation, being earnestly de­sirous of thy company, and sensible how greatly I stood in need of it: I endeavoured to prepare and make ready for thy entertain­ment, and having done that, I began to think thee long, every hour hath seemed ten to me [Page 84] that thou hast delayed: and I have waited in hope of thy coming, and yet not without fear, lest something or other should prevent thy coming. But thy stay so long hath quick­ned my desire, and now I am more abundantly glad that thou art come, by how much thy stay made me afraid that thou wouldest not come. O welcome, welcome, my long look­ed-for dear Saviour, thy coming makes a­mends for my long waiting: now I think my labour and patience well bestowed; come in, my dearly beloved! for all things are in readiness, and prepared for thy entertainment. Thus the Soul accounts her self happy that Christ came thus seasonably, and that she was thus fitted and in a ready posture for his re­ception and entertainment.

2. That they are blessed whom Christ findes in this posture will appear, if we consider the great satisfaction that Christ will take at his coming, to finde us in a watchful, expecting, and prepared posture. This posture will so wonderfully please Jesus Christ, that instead of sitting down, and being attended and ser­ved by us, He will make us to sit down, and will come forth, and gird himself and serve us. Luke 12.37. We shall be the Guest, and he will be the Servitour. The satisfaction which this will be to Christ, may appear in three things.

[Page 85]1. Finding us in this posture, he takes him­self to be welcome. If at our coming to our friends house, we finde not onely the door open, the house dressed, and all in order; but we finde our friend in the door waiting and earnestly looking for us, thinking our tarrying long, we may reasonably conclude we shall be surely welcome, now we are come. So when Christ findes the Heart prepared, and the Spouse in the door watching, or looking in the way wherein she expects to see him coming; he may thence conclude, that he is a welcome guest to that soul. Surely, saith Christ, I shall now be a welcome guest to my Spouse, now she is so earnestly waiting and looking for me. And this pleaseth Christ more than all the varieties that she can possi­bly prepare for him. For alas! she is but poor, hath no rich entertainment for him, but onely such as is of his own sending and preparing, and therefore welcome is likely to be his best fare, and all that she can give him; and therefore Christ expects no great matters from her, but to have the door open, and him­self made welcome when he comes. And where he findes this, he is so well pleased, that he will suffer no want of any thing needful to be while he stays. He will be at the char­ges of the Feast, and of the dressing of it too [Page 86] And therefore we read, Cant. 5.1. that he not onely eats, but gathers his fruits himself. I have gathered my myrrhe with my spice; I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey, &c.

2. Finding us in this posture, he may ex­pect that we are at leisure from other company and business to entertain him with our com­pany. Christ loves not to come when his Spouse is in the throng, or crowd of worldly company and business; for then he shall have no time of private conference and discourse with her, which is the main of his business; and therefore in this case both he and she would lose the benefit and sweetness of the oppor­tunity. Friends account that time lost that they cannot enjoy one another, though they be toge­ther all the while. If by throng of company they cannot have their discourse and conference, which they designed in their meeting, they account their time lost: and are ready to say, What an unhappy thing was it that we met at such a season as this, and that thus we were interrupted in our discourse? The more in­timate that friends are, the more private mat­ter of discourse they have, and the less they care to be interrupted with company. None more intimate than Christ and his Spouse, an [...] having matter of private conference with her doth not care to come at such a time when [Page 87] she hath a crowd of other company about her, but when she is alone. And therefore when he comes, if she be not alone, he will endea­vour to take her apart by her self, and then his discourse will be most heeded, and have most effectual influence upon her. There­fore we read, Hos. 2.14. I will allure her, (saith God) and bring her into the wilderness, and there will speak comfortably unto her, or speak to her heart, as the word signifies. Now when Christ findes the Soul waiting and looking for him, all alone, either in her door, or in the high-way, he may well conclude, I come sea­sonably, for yonder is my Spouse all alone, free from cumber and other business, waiting for my coming, and therefore I may expect her company. And this abundantly pleaseth him; for it is her company he chiefly comes for. Christ cares not to come when the Soul is crowded with the Flesh and the World: He desires her company alone, and is best pleased when he findes it so.

3. Finding us in a posture of Watchfulness, our clothes on, and our loins girt, he may reasonably suppose us not to be in a drowzy and sluggish condition; and that therefore his company will be pleasant, and not burden­some to us, and his discourse will be better needed by us. When Sleep and Sluggishness [Page 88] overtakes us, the company of our best Friends is but burdensome, and their discourse but little regarded; we had rather have their room than their company, their silence than their discourse, because we are desirous to compose our selves for rest and sleep. So is it with the Spouse of Christ, when she is in a sleepy and secure condition, his company is no whit pleasant, and his discourse sinks but ear-deep, (if it do that) and therefore doth little good. Now Christ loves not to come and finde his Spouse in such a posture as this; but when he findes her watching, or busie at her spiritual work, in a lively condition, Now (saith he, my company will be acceptable, now in a lively manner will she unbosome herself to me, tell me her whole state and condition: and I shall as freely impart my counsels and comforts unto her. This therefore is the condition that I desire to finde her in; and finding her in this condition, it yields abundant satis­faction to Christ. This therefore is a blessed posture, wherein the Soul is in a posture to give Christ such abundant satisfaction.

4. That they are thus blessed, that Christ at his coming findes upon their watch will appear if we consider the honours and benefits which he will confer upon them. He will commend and praise them, he will give [Page 89] them honourable titles, Well done good and faithful servants; he will give them bountiful rewards and a sumptuous feast, and he himself will come forth and serve them: all which is sufficiently evident from what hath been said before, and therefore needs no further enlargement.

2. Hence we may learn the reason of the damnable and desperate condition of many Sinners; and the mournful, drooping, and seeking condition of many Saints. It is not because Christ seldome comes abroad and knocks at the doors of their hearts; but be­cause when he comes, he findes such unready admission and entertainmet. If the question be asked, whence it is that so many sinners perish everlastingly, and that under Gospel-light? The answer must be, not because he never calls or knocks at their doors, but be­cause they will not open and let him in. Our Saviour tells us the reason, John 3.19. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light. So Mat. 23.37. O Jerusalem, — how often would I have gathered thee, as an hen gathereth her chickens under her wings? but ye would not. So also, Prov. 1.24, &c. Because I called, and ye refused — But ye set at nought all my [Page 90] counsels, and would none of my reproofs: I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh. How often doth Christ knock and call by his Word, by his Rod, by his Messengers, by the impulses of his Spirit, and convictions of Conscience? and yet sin­ners are in a deep sleep of Security, and will not open to him. This is the ground of their condemnation.

Again, if it be asked why we see so many Christians walking in darkness, and seeing no light, enquiring (as here the Spouse did) Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? If ye see him, tell him that I am sick of love. I have sought him, but cannot finde him; I have called him, but he gives me no answer. If it be asked, what is the reason why it is thus with many Believers? It may be answered, there is cause for it, they have given Christ some unkinde answer: he hath called, but they have not heard, or heeded. He hath knocked, and they have not opened. And therefore he will make them sensible of their affront and unhandsome carriage, before they shall finde him again.

3. Hence also we may learn what a gross cheat the Devil and our own Hearts have put upon us, and the great danger we have many of us been in, by our refusing to open to Christ at his knocks and calls. A greater [Page 91] cheat the Devil could not put upon us; nor greater danger can we possibly be in, than to be perswaded by him to refuse, or delay, to open to Christ. And yet how ordinary is it for the Devil and carnal Reason to put this cheat upon us! and by being so often and so long cheated, what dreadful and tremendous danger have we many of us brought our selves into! Christ hath called and called again and again, by his Word, and Providences; by his Mercies, and Judgements; by his Spirit, and our own Consciences: and yet from time to time, to this very day, we have put him off with frivolous and vain excuses, and have not fully opened the door of our Hearts to him. Christ hath pressed us so far with arguments, (and those convincing and startling ones, and of all sorts) so that we could not deny but this hath been the voice of Christ, insomuch that he may say, What could I have done or said more than I have done? And yet what cold entertainment hath he found at our doors? May he not justly complain of us, as of Israel of old, Isai. 53.1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord made bare? It would make a man to tremble to think at the loud knocks and calls that God hath given to sinners in these Nations, and yet to this day hath been shut out! few [Page 92] have sincerely received him into their Hearts! nay, may it not be truely said as is complained John 1.11. He came to his own, and his own received him not! Many that have made a large profession of the Name of Christ, that yet have not truely received him into their hearts. Nay, may not Christ say, I am neer in their Mouth, but far from their Reins? Nay, are there not many that (we hope) are true­ly the Spouse of Christ, and have many a time prayed for the breathings of his Spirit, and his comfortable presence, and yet at his coming have shut him out? and yet, where are there any but they have their plausible ex­cuses? though if they were all examined, they would prove as unreasonable as this in the Text. But these we shall make further in­quiry into under another Use: onely here let us take notice what an horrible cheat the De­vil and carnal Reason have hereby put upon us; and what a sad and dreadful condition we have hereby brought our selves into. Which will undeniably appear, if we consider,

1. What, and who those pretended Friends and Lovers are that we have entertained in our hearts, while we have shut out Christ, and refused to open at his call. Shall I tell you 1, what, and 2, who they are?

1. What they are. The Lovers which we [Page 93] have doted upon, and entertained in our hearts while Christ hath been kept out, they are first, False and flattering Lovers. They do not love us really and cordially, though they make great shew and pretence of love. There is none that loves so really as Jesus Christ doth. His love was towards us while we were Ene­mies to him, and did him much disservice; but these onely love us while we please and gratifie them. Do but cross the Devil, the World, or Flesh, and you shall finde they will hate you, and manifest themselves your Ene­mies. Christ's love is pure love, without any by-ends: but the love of these is onely a pre­tended love for their own ends, and the car­rying on of their own designes. His love is a love indeed; and he hath by what he hath done and suffered for us, in real and great deeds, manifested the reality of his love: but their love is meerly verbal and complemental, promising much, but performing little or no­thing of what they promise. His love is chiefly manifested in adversity, in straights, in distresses, when all others frown upon us, and we have now hither to betake our selves but to him: but their love is onely in prosperity, and when we have the least need of them: For if ever we really stand in need of them (as at death and at Judgement) then they [Page 94] will be the furthest off from helping us, of affording any relief: nay then they will ap­pear to be our enemies, and the first that shal set themselves against us: And are these friends to be trusted, and to be kept in our hearts, when Jesus Christ must be shut out? How do we suffer our selves to be miserably deluded by these errand cheats?

2. These Lovers and pretended Friends, they are unprofitable Lovers and Friends. Let them afford the best help they can, they can afford no such benefit and advantage as Jesus Christ can and doth. The Wise-man speaking of worldly things saith, Prov. 23.5. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? Riches certainly make themselves wings, and flie, as an eagle towards Heaven: There is no securing or holding fast these things. When the Devil would have tempted our Saviour to worship him, Matth. 4. he shews him all the King­doms of the World, and the glory of them; and faith, All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. And yet this was not in his power to give. But suppose these were in his power to give, and that he would be as good as his word, and really give them; yet, What would it profit a man to gain the whole world, and loose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? But [Page 95] suppose he would perswade you, that you might gain the one and save the other: yet the Apostle tells us the contrary, 1 Joh. 2.15. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And I am sure, if the love of God be not in him, he cannot save his soul: For the Apostle saith, If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed, Gal. 1.8. and If we love not him that is begotten, we can­not love him that begetteth; for the Father and the Son are one: and therefore there is no real profit to be got by them, but are great losers, and therefore in hearkening unto them we are miserably cheated.

3. They are very uncomfortable Friends, if compared with Christ. They pretend Mirth, and Pleasure, and Delight, but even in the midst of mirth the heart is sad: no real mirth or chearfulness can they give. But he that hath but once tasted how good and pleasant Christ's company is, he may truely say, he never met with such a good, and chearful, and comfortable Friend in all his life; he may say with the Spouse, I sate down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was pleasant to my taste. There is none of these pretended friends, but there is much sowreness, harsh­ness, and unpleasantness to be found in them: but of Jesus Christ it may be said, He is alto­gether [Page 96] lovely; his very yoak is easie, and his burden light: there is comfort in his very Cross; in his company a Believer may sing at midnight in a prison, with his feet fast in the stocks: but as for the pleasures of sin, they are but short, and they alwaies end in pain. What Paul said of sin in respect of profit, Rom. 6.21. What profit had ye in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? So may I say, What pleasure can you take in those pretended friends, whose company will certainly end both in shame and pain?

4. Their designe is destructive. What­ever they may pretend, and however they may flatter thee, and promise rest, and sleep, and quietness, it is but that they may destroy thee, and that to all eternity. They are but such-like friends to thee as Dalilah was to Sampson; if she cause him to sleep upon her lap, it is but that she may cut his Locks, and deliver him weak into the hand of his enemy to torment him. If they cry Peace, peace unto thee, and lull thee asleep in security, it is but that they may binde thee (with the Devils) in chains of darkness, to be reserved to the Judgment of the great Day. Are these therefore friends to be trusted? Who while they flatter thee, pur­posely designe thy destruction, and aim at no­thing more than the ruine both of thy Soul and [Page 97] Body. Oh how do persons suffer themselves to be cheated, by the flattering pretences of false friends, but real enemies! and in the mean while keep out Jesus Christ out of their hearts, who would be a friend indeed. Thus you see what those are that are entertained in the heart, while Jesus Christ is shut out. But

2. Let us see who these are, that do thus cheat us. I will in short tell thee who they are (though by the marks which I have al­ready given of them, thou mayest easily guess who they are.) They are the three grand Enemies of thy Soul. The Devil, the World, and the Flesh: These are th [...]y, that thou (ta­king them for thy friends, and welcome guests into thy heart) art cheated by. Enemies they are, and the greatest, and most inveterate, im­placable, malicious, and unmercyful Enemies that thou hast. Yea, besides them thou hast not such Enemies in all the world; and yet these dost thou receive for thy bosome-friends: and that while thou shuttest out him that is the best and surest friend that thou hast in the world, that hath done more for thee than all the world besides. What Joab said to David when he mourned so exc [...]ssively for Absalom, that may I truely say to thee: By this I per­ceive that thou lovest thine Enemies, and hatest [Page 98] thy Friends. For if these false, dissembling, and rebellious Absaloms might but live, and be thy companions, thou matterest not though Jesus Christ be starved to death at the door of thine heart. Oh wretched cruelty! and mis­guided, blindfolded affection! that will thus be cheated from time to time by the flatteries of them that seek thy life! and these must needs be they that keep possession in thy heart; for none but these (who have ever been mor­tal Enemies to Jesus Christ) would give thee counsel to keep Christ out of thy heart. To be sure, God would not give thee this advice; for he loves and is ever well pleased with his Son, and would have him seated in the Roy­al Throne of thy Heart. Yea, he is reconciling the world unto himself by Jesus Christ. He hath appointed thy reception and entertainment of Jesus Christ as the onely way to happi­ness.

Surely it is not Christ that counsels thee thus; for it is he that stands knocking at the door of thy Heart for entrance and admission. It is not the Spirit of God, for he is also the Spirit of Christ, and is sent upon his errand, to perswade thee to open to Christ: yea, he is heartily grieved, when thou resistest these mo­tions of his. And if Christ may not come in, he will not long stay there himself stri­ving [Page 99] with thee. It cannot be thy Conscience, for that is a faithful witness and admonisher, and will speak truely when it may be heard: and the counsel it gives is according to the will of God, whose vice-gerent it is, and whose authority it bears in the Soul; and therefore it can be no other that gives thee this counsel, but those Enemies before men­tioned, Satan, the World, and the Flesh; for the counsel is like them, and rightly fathers it self: and what folly is it thus to be cheated by such Enemies to thy Soul as these are, and that from time to time?

2. The greatness of this cheat, and the wrong which we sustein by it will appear, if we consider the advantage which these our Enemies have got, by our hearkning unto them, and suffering our selves to be cheated by them thus long. I shall onely mention these three advantages they have got, by per­swading thee to keep thy heart shut against Christ. Advantages they are to them and their designes; but most fearful wrongs to thee, and to thy Soul.

1. They have occasioned thee to commit many a sin, which might have been prevented if thou hadst long since opened to Christ at his call. I do not here speak of thy great sin in refusing to open at Christ's call, which is [Page 100] every time renewed and repeated, when thou refusest to open, whatever thine excuse be Nor do I speak of the sins that are couched and included in the unreasonableness of thy ex­cuses, though these be neither few nor little But I speak of that sinful frame of heart and course of life, that thou leadest and livest it while Jesus Christ is kept out of thy Soul. Reflect upon thy self, and consider how long it is since Christ gave thee the first call, and con­sider what course of life thou hast led since how many wilful and known sins thou hath committed, one upon the back of another yea the same sins many a time over and over again: these sins, all of them, might have been prevented, and many of them (doubtless) had been prevented, if thou hadst opened to Christ at his first call. If thou hadst suffered him to have come in, he would have changed the habit, frame, bent, and inclination of thy heart, and course of thy life and conversation he would have set thee about his work, and kept thee employed in his business, that thou shouldest not have had time or leasure to have hearkned to Satans temptations. It is Satan finding us idle, that mostly gives advantage to his temptations. Christ would have put his Spirit within thee, that should have helped thee against temptations, and would have puri­fied [Page 101] thy heart by faith. His grace should have been sufficient for thee, and his strength made perfect in thy weakness: He would have kept that thy foot should not have slidden, who is the Keeper of Israel, that neither slumbers nor sleeps. He would have armed thee with the whole Armour of God, whereby thou mightest have resisted and repelled, or quenched all the fiery darts of the wicked. He would have renewed thee with daily renewed strength in thy Soul. Yea, He would have kept thee by his almighty power, through faith, unto salvation. Thou hadst not therefore had so many ghastly sins, to have reflected and looked back upon with a trembling heart, and griping conscience, with horrour and consternation, as now thou hast. If there were no more but this consi­deration, (methinks) it might be sufficient to silence all excuses, and cavils of carnal reason, and make the soul affraid of ever refusing to open when Christ calls; and might fully con­vince us of the grand cheat and irreparable wrong which our enemies have put upon us, by perswading us not to open to Jesus Christ.

2. Consider the high affront and provo­cation which we have given to Jesus Christ, by keeping him out so long. He hath called a­gain and again, and was desirous to come in, [Page 102] but we would not: He hath stood knocking till his head was filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, and yet could get nothing from us but frivolous and vain ex­cuses. And what do we think will be the issue of all this? Will his patience never be worn out? Will his wrath never be kindled in his breast? Will the stirrings of his Spirit ne­ver have end? Will the day of Grace never have a night? Will he never swear in his wrath, that thou shalt not enter into his rest? Tremble, O fond man! to think at those things. It hath been of dangerous and dread­ful consequence, thus to deny him admission: He hath thereupon withdrawn himself and departed, and sometimes never returned a­gain. But if he have been found, it hath been after long, weary, and tedious seeking of him. And why may he not do so again? Nay cer­tainly, he will do so. And therefore the wrong and cheat which the Devil, the World and the Flesh have put upon thee, is an un­sufferable wrong, which they can never make thee amends for; let them therefore cheat thee no longer.

3. Consider that every knock and call that Christ gives, and we refuse, doth lock the door of the heart faster against Christ, than it was lockt before: so that if ever Christ get in, he [Page 103] must give fiercer knocks and louder calls than ever he did before; he must take some other course with thee, than ever he hath yet taken. Therefore saith the Apostle, Heb. 3.13. Exhort one another while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardned through the deceitsness of sin. Sin deceitfully and insensibly hardens the heart, and by degrees cauterizeth or feareth the heart and conscience, that it grows braw­ny and past feeling: and then Christ may call and call again, and to little purpose; and therefore it is unspeakable wrong which thine enemies have already done thee; and it would be wrong past recovery, if they should go on to cheat thee still.

Ʋse 2. Is it of such dangerous consequence to be sluggish, secure, and sloathful, when Christ knocks and calls, especially when his coming is in answer to our Prayers? Then this may afford matter of enquiry and exami­nation, to enquire how the case stands be­tween Christ and our Souls, at this day. We profess our selves to be the Spouse of Christ; and if so, it is very probable [...] he doth now and then visit us, and comes to the door of our hearts. We profess to be a candlestick in Christs right hand; and if so, it is likely he walks sometimes in the midst of the golden candlesticks. We profess to be the Church [Page 104] and People of God; and if Christ hath not intimacy and familiarity with, and gives fre­quent visits to his Church, where can Christ be expected to be found? We have the Wor­ship and Ordinances of Christ, and his Name recorded among us: and he hath said, that where he records his name, there he will meet his people, and bless them. We are under his spe­cial care and providence, about whom he is in a special manner concerned: And therefore it concerns us to know how we stand in his favour. And as this is the state of the Church in general, so is it the state of every particu­lar Member, and is the concern of every one of us to know how matters stand between Christ and our Souls: Whether we be in his favour, and have his pleasant company; or whether he have turned his back, withdrawn himself, and be gone away from us in a dis­content, because he hath knocked and called, and we have not opened unto him. And it concerns us the rather to make this enquiry, because the Providences of God for some time have been, and still are considerable towards us: and the Providences of God seem to be near some period. Some great work or o­ther God seems to have upon the Wheel in the Christian world; which e're long may pos­sibly be brought to light. And such times of [Page 105] God's remarkable working, are usually trying, and shaking times. To be sure, it is a blessed thing at such a time to be in Christ his favour, and under his wing.

In the prosecution of this Use there are two things to be enquired into. 1. Whether Christ have not, and do not at this day emi­nently knock and call. 2. What entertain­ment Christ findes, and what answer we have made.

1. Let us enquire whether Christ have not, and do not at this day eminently knock and call. Is not the voice of our beloved to be heard at the doors of our Hearts, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my und [...]filed; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night? We have told you in the opening of the Doctrine, that though there be no passage of God's providence exer­cised towards us, but it hath something of a call from Christ in it: yet there are some spe­cial times, wherein Jesus Christ doth in a more especial manner knock and call, requiring en­trance and admission. How we might know those times, I have endeavoured there to shew. It is not my business here to assigne new times of Christ's eminent calling, but by reflecting upon those, to make enquiry whether the case be not ours: And whether, according to [Page 106] those signes and marks of an eminent call, Christ do not at this day eminently knock and call upon us to open unto him. What I have to say upon this head, I shall sum up into these nine or ten Queries: And by them we may come to understand how the case stands with us.

1. Hath not Christ of late days eminently called, and at this day doth eminently call by his Mercies? The more largely God's hand is opened in Mercies and Bounty unto a per­son or people, the more loud is his call to them to open to him in a way of duty. God ex­pects from us according to the Talents which he bestows upon us. If he bestow five, he ex­pects that we should gain other five. In be­stowing of Mercies, God doth not desiredly cast them away, but expects that he should be served with his own. The more he loads us with blessings and benefits, the more reasona­bly may he expect that we should abound in [...]y. The more of any good thing that God bestows, the more good he looks that they should do with it. The Psalmist makes use of God's bountiful dealing to be an argument to his Soul to return unto his rest, Psal. 116.7. Christ is the rest of the Soul, as well as he that gives rest unto the Soul, Matth. 11.28. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy [Page 107] laden, and ye shall finde rest unto your souls. that is, ye shall finde rest in me, as well as rest by me. For in me ye shall have peace, John 16.33. And if this be an argument to return to our rest, because God hath dealt bountifully with us, surely Christ calls loud to us, to re­turn to our rest. His bountiful dealing to­wards us, of late time, and at this day, is emi­nent and remarkable: For he hath compassed us about with his mercies, and loaden us with his blessings and benefits. The great Peace, the abundant Plenty that God affords, are very considerable, if we consider the broils that are abroad in the world, and the scarcity that hath so lately threatned us. How hath God pre­vented our fears! been better to us than our hopes! done great and wonderful things for us beyond expectation! We may not unfitly apply that saying of Moses to our selves in respect of God's providential care over us, and kindness to us, Deut. 11.11, 12. The land whether ye go to possess it is — a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, even unto the end of the year. Gods goodness in this respect hath been wonderful, even to admiration, especially if we consider the use that we have made of all these mer­cies; which hath been no better than what [Page 106] [...] [Page 107] [...] [Page 108] God complains of Israel, that they made of his mercies, Deut. 32.15. But Jesurun waxed fat, and kicked— Then he forsook God that made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. Now that God should deal thus bountifully with us, when we make such returns as these, is wonderful, and certainly calls for other fruit from us, than hitherto we have brought forth. But if besides these common or gene­ral mercies which God hath bestowed upon us in common with others, we consider the particular mercies which every one of us in particular have received, we shall finde that they have not been inconsiderable, but remar­kable. Have we not at one time or other met with considerable preservations, prote­ctions, successes in our undertakings, when it hath fared far otherwise with our neigh­bours? Have not every one our particular mercies to take notice of? as health, when others have been sick; life, when others have been cut off out of the Land of the Living; Liberty, when others have been under re­straint: Preservations from dangers which we have been obnoxious unto: Deliverances out of evils into which we have fallen. It were endless to enumerate the various ways wherein and whereby God hath been eminent­ly good and gracious unto us. But if we [Page 109] will but seriously reflect upon Gods bounties toward us, we may be able to give a better ac­count of them, than any other person can di­ctate to us. Yea, we may observe more heightening circumstances in them than o­thers can. For many times the circumstan­ces of time and place, and our present condi­tions, do wonderfully exalt and magnifie mer­cies. May one say, I was sick, and in danger of death, when others did die; in what a condition had I been, if I had died then! ve­ry unprepared for death and another world: had never seriously considered my latter end; had got no assurance of Heaven, nor indeed taken much pains about it. If I had gone then, I know not whither I must have gone, nor what must have become of me. May ano­ther say, My house and family were preser­ved, when my neighbours was consumed in unmerciful flames. If such a thing had be­fallen me at that time, (in all probability) I had been ruined in mine outward estate, and my self and family exposed to the mercy of others. May another say, I was in such and such a distress and affliction, and so involved therein, that I could see no way of escaping; but the time of my necessity was God's oppor­tunity, and When I said my foot slippeth, then the Lord he held me up: when I was at a loss in [Page 110] my self, Had viewed and looked on the right hand and left, and could see no help nor hope, then the Lord put under everlasting arms, and saved me. These and such like circumstances make mercies to be eminent, when they are guided by an unseen hand beyond expectation: the more signal and eminent these mercies are, and the more of the special providential hand of God that may be seen in them, the more loud are the knocks and calls upon us to duty, and to answer Gods end in them. And which of us can say but in the course of our lives we have met with such as these, many and many a time? if so, they have been calls from Christ; and the more eminent they have been, the more loud hath been the call.

2. Hath not God loudly called by his Judg­ments? Judgments upon others round about us, which have loudly called upon us to hear, and fear, and do no more so wickedly, lest a worse thing happen unto us. Have we not seen or heard of some that have been taken away in a very terrible manner, in the very act of sinning, and (possibly) we as guilty of such­like sin, as they? How may this make us to tremble, and be a warning unto us! Hath not the hand of God reached us in our persons; relations, estates, houses, trades, callings, and the like? And these have not only been com­mon [Page 111] ordinary Providences, but we might in them see something eminently of the finger of God pointing at us? Some aggravating cir­cumstances or other have made them more re­markable to us, than otherwise they would have been. It may be, consider them in them­selves, they have only been common cala­mities, as Letters come to the Town by the hand of the common Post, or Carrier: but they have been directed to them with some particular message, and have intimated so much to thee, by the circumstances of them; this hath been a special call to thee from Christ. And doubtless, we have most of us had such calls as these, if we have but observed and taken no­tice of them; and if we have not, the greater hath been our fault and our sin. If we do but look through the Nation, as the Mercies have been great that God hath undeservedly bestow­ed upon us; so the Judgments that have befallen us, have not only been various, but very remark­able, such as the hand of God hath been emi­nently seen in, howsoever they have been handed to us by wicked instruments: I need not to enu­merate them, they are obvious to every ob­servant eye. But what do these intimate and call for from us? Surely the rod of God hath a voice; and he that doth not willingly grieve and afflict the children of men, doth not these [Page 112] things to us, but there is considerable cause for it. When God dealt so with his people of old, we may read what cause God had for it. And certain I am, that the blindest among us cannot but see cause enough, from the hand of God, for all that is come upon us. Only here is the misery, that every one seeks to ex­cuse himself, and to lay the blame at some ones door else: and so takes no notice of Gods particular call to him. I would desire here to set before you, and desire the serious Reader to peruse Gods threatnings to Israel of old, and the causes there assigned, and see how far they may concern us: read Deute­ronom. 28.15. to the end. And as for those that would lay the blame upon others, and ex­cuse themselves, I shall only recommend to them that dreadful caution and intimation of Gods minde, Deut. 29.18, 19, 20. It is but too common among us to promise our selves peace, and drink away our fears; but this will prove in the end, an unpardonable aggravation of our sin. If we would but take the pains to search the Scriptures, and take a view of such Judgments as God hath inflicted upon Nations, Families and Persons, and consider the sins that have been the procuring cause of them, for which they have been sent; we should need no Prophet to read us our de­stiny, [Page 113] nor any Expositor to shew us the sins that God points at in the evils which we labour under; nor should we, any of us, finde cause to excuse our selves. Sure I am, the voice of God in his Judgments is eminent; and by the circuits of them, in that they meet with one sort of men after another, and spare few or none, they plainly shew the cause to be gene­ral. And by the complication of them, and their surrounding of us, and hemming us in on every hand, they manifest the greater dis­pleasure, and more unavoidable danger hang­ing over our heads: and therefore the voice and call is very loud, and must either be quickly hearkned to, or else Christ may with­draw, the decree may bring forth, and there will be no remedy. I would seriously recom­mend to your perusal, that one dreadful Chap­ter, Isai. 24, and desire that your thoughts and meditations may dwell a little upon every verse, as you go along, and you will not need me to direct you how to apply it; our pre­sent conditions, and the passages of Gods Providence will sufficiently exemplifie it. And therefore assuredly, the call of God is some­what more than ordinary at this day: and none of us can say, but that God speaks some­thing more than ordinary unto us. And know, that they which think themselves least [Page 114] concerned in this call, may come to finde themselves most concerned at last. I will di­rect such to one Text of Scripture, which calls for their serious observation, Isai. 28. through­out. When God's Judgements come for sin, our Refuge of lies, and Covenant with Death and Hell, will but little avail us. But I pass from this, which is sufficiently evident to be a loud call from Christ, to a

3. Particular, by way of enquiry. Doth not God eminently call, by the great liberty and plenty of the Gospel, which undeservedly to this day we do enjoy? There is a notable saying, Psal. 147.19, 20. He hath shewed his word to Jacob, his statutes and his judgements to Israel: he hath not dealt so with any nation, &c. And may not I apply this very pertinent­ly to these Nations? for what Nation under Heaven hath enjoyed the Gospel more plen­tifully, more plainly, more clearly, and for a longer time, than we have done? The do­ctrine of the Gospel hath not been more clear­ly taught in any Nation under Heaven, than in this our British Island. No Nation hath had more eminently burning and shining lights: and many we enjoy at this day. Never Na­tion was better instructed in the minde and will of Christ; (if we do not wilfully shut our eyes against this light) so that other Na­tions [Page 115] are glad of the crums that fall from our table, insomuch that we may truely say with the Apostle, 2 Cor. 4.3, 4. If our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the mindes of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. And doth Christ thus stand knocking and cal­ling to this day? surely his long patience hath made his call the louder, and to be the same with that, Psal. 95.7, 8. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: especial­ly considering how emphatically, and (to our case) pertinently the Apostle applies it, Heb. 4.7. Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time, as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand; it becomes not us then (who have slighted Christs call so long, and at whose door he hath waited so patiently) to linger any longer, but speedily to arise, and open to him, lest (his patience being worn out) he should depart in a discontent.

4. Doth not God at this day quicken his Ministers by his Spirit? and make his Embas­sadors, in a more than ordinary manner, impor­tunate with us to open to Christ? Do not the faithful Ministers of Christ (laying aside all cir­cumstantial [Page 116] and lesser matters) bend themselves chiefly, if not onely and wholly, to the main work of calling home sinners unto Christ; and to all to open, and open more fully, and truely, and cordially to Christ? Is there not a more than ordinary Spirit resting upon the Prophets, quickning and exciting them to this work; insomuch, that they are very urgent and importunate, and will take no denial, no excuse from sinners? but cry and cry aloud, call and call again, We beseech you in the name of Christ to open to him, and be ye reconciled to God? Doth not God make Ministers more warm, more zealous, more importunate in their work? So that (notwithstanding all the discouragements they meet with, and the re­pulses which you give) they will take no de­nial, but renew their suit? And if one sub­ject will not work, they take another? if one argument will not prevail, they make use of another? leave no stone, no subject, untur­ned, unspoken to, that they can imagine may prevail with you? What bespeaks all this earnestness and industry, but that Christ calls now in good earnest upon you? for we are a­ble to do nothing without him. It is he that directs us to our subjects, and puts a word in­to our mouths. It is he that enlargeth our meditations, blesseth our studies, and warm­eth [Page 117] the word upon our hearts. It is he that toucheth our Lips with a Coal from his Altar, and helps us to deliver our message in the evi­dence and demonstration of the truth, and of power. And all this is for your sakes, that the call might be more convincing and effectual upon you. And therefore if you finde a more than ordinary spirit upon the Prophets at this day, you may conclude it is a more than ordinary call. And therefore apply that to your selves which the Apostle speaks, Acts 17.30. However Christ might wink at former ignorance, or neglect, yet now (by way of e­minency) he commands every man every where to repent.

5. Doth not Christ eminently knock and call at the door of thy heart, by secret impul­ses of his Spirit, and convictions of thy own Conscience? Doth not the word of God sometimes come within thy bosome, and not onely prove a general word spoken to all, but brings some special message to thee, and saith to thee as Nathan did to David, Thou art the man; or as Wisdom to the simple ones, Prov. 1.22, 23. How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and the scorners delight in scorning, and fools hate knowledge? turn ye at my re­proof, &c. May we not say that God is not wholly departed out of his Ordinances? but [Page 118] that yet he walks in the midst of his Golden Can­dlesticks? that his Spirit is yet striving with us? and that yet he hath compassion of his heritage? and is loth to leave his dwelling place? Is there not now and then a secret word whispered in your ear, that this word comes from Heaven, and is sent a particular message to you? Are not you ready to think within your selves sometimes, How comes the Minister to know my case so particularly, and to speak to those things that none knows, but God and mine own Conscience? Why, you must know, that this is God that speaks to you by us. It is he that sends us unto you, and puts words in our mouths, and tells us what to say to you: He who knows the secrets of all Hearts: directs us what to speak; and he by his Spirit opens your ear to hear, and to take notice of what is spoken. And he by his Spirit convinceth your Consciences that you are the persons to whom it is spoken. And therefore when it is thus with you, you may assuredly know that this a special knock and call from Christ. May there not be the same inward working in your Hearts, while this word is sounding in your ears, or represented to your eyes in rea­ding of it, that was in the Disciples going to Emaus, while Christ talked with them and opened the Scriptures, Luke 24.32. Did [Page 119] not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us? &c. Have you not some secret motions, gripings, and prickings at the heart, under this or other ordinance? this is the voice of Christ, saying, Open to me, &c. and the more sensible and piercing these are, the more loud is Christ's call.

6. Are there no fears upon the hearts of God's people, lest Christ his stay at our doors should not be long? Are there no signes and symptomes of Christ's weariness and readi­ness to depart, seen and taken notice of? Is there not a general fear upon the Spirits of most men, lest the Gospel should be ready to be removed? what ground and cause men have for those fears from second causes, I say no­thing; but that there is such a fear (however it comes to pass, or what it is grounded upon) is evident: and I am sure this cannot be with­out the hand of God. This fear is an evil of affliction, it disquiets and troubles the spirits of men; and therefore must needs proceed from the hand of God. For the Prophet tells us, Amos 3.6. That there is no evil in the City but the Lord doth it. This negative interroga­tion being a more vehement affirmation. And if Christ should not wholly depart, and take away his Gospel, yet his particular cal [...]s by inward convictions and strivings of his Spirit [Page 120] may not last long; as he gives you a day, so he will give you but a day; and then he will swear in his wrath that ye shall never enter into his rest. How much of this day may be spent, you may better guess than any one can tell you, knowing how long he hath called and waited: how clear and full convictions have been, and how they are now: how hot the Gospel hath shined, and how cool it is now; and the sha­dows of the evening stretched out. And if this be gone, what will it advantage you to have the Gospel continued? It will be but for your hardening, and the sealing you up to everlasting destruction. Isaiah was a power­ful Preacher, and yet you see what a message God sent him to Israe [...] ▪ Isai. 6.9, 10. It is a very uncomfortable message to a faithful Mini­ster of Christ, to be sent upon this errand; but yet it is the message that God sends them to many an one with: and if this be our message to you, it will be sad. However, we must go what message our Master sends us; and if it be sad to us, it will be ten thousand times more dreadful to you. Only our earnest desire is, that you might know, at least, in this your day, the things that belong to your ever­lasting peace, before they be hidden from your eyes. And these general fears are a loud call to delay or linger no longer, but open to Christ.

7. Are not all these Calls, by Gospel-Ordi­dinances, in answer to your Prayers? Here I speak to you that do pray: For I am not ignorant, that there are a generation of prayer­less souls in the world, and I wish they were not so great a number. There are but too ma­ny Families that call not upon the name of God: which the Prophet prayes that God would pour his wrath upon, Jer. 10.25. and dread­ful will the wrath of God be when it comes. But I speak here to those that do pray. Hath it not been your Prayer, that God would re­turn into his resting place, he, and the ark of his strength? Have not you prayed, Arise, O north­winde, and come thou south, and breath upon my garden? Let my beloved come into his gar­den. Have not you prayed, that you might see and meet with God, as sometimes you have done in his Sanctuary? That you might sit down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit might be pleasant to your taste? Have not you sighed and breathed out your requests to Christ, saying, Tell me, Oh thou whom my soul loveth! where thou feedest, and where thou causest thy flocks to rest at noon? &c. Oh that I might enjoy powerful Ordinances! and meet with the power and presence of Christ in them! that mine eyes might see my teachers, and mine ears hear a voice behind me, saying, [Page 122] This is the way, walk in it! Such-like Prayers as these you have been ever and anon putting up; and in answer to these your Prayers, Christ is come, and stands knocking and cal­ling, Open to me, my Sister, my Love, my Dove, and my undefiled. Those calls of Christ, which are according to your real desires, and in an­swer to your Prayers, must needs be eminent and remarkable.

8. Are not you the professed Spouse of Christ, that have professedly given up your selves by a solemn Marriage-Covenant unto Christ; engaged and swore that you will be his, and at his service? What deeper obli­gation can you lay upon your selves, than you have done? In your Baptism and renewed covenanting at the Lords Table, and by so­lemn Vows and Covenants upon several occa­sions: So that none in the world can be more solemnly engaged to open to Christ than you are. And in regard you expect his coming every hour, doth it not stand you upon, to be always upon your Watch-tower, waiting when your Lord will come, that you may presently open to him? And now when he both knocks and calls, is not this a sufficient summons to you, to open and let him in? Every call of an Husband (especially such an one as Christ is) should have so much weight in it, as to com­mand [Page 123] the obedience of the Wise. And there­fore (if not to others, yet) to you, this call should be sufficiently eminent and remarkable; or else your Husband may charge you with disloyalty and breach of covenant.

9. Did ever Christ use more earnest intrea­ties, and sweet compellations, than he doth at this day? Doth he not say (as to the Spouse) Open to me, my Sister, my Love, my Dove, my undefiled? Do not the sweet ex­pressions of his love, in suffering, bleeding, dying for you, speak thus much? Doth not the sweet voice, and loving intreaties of Christ by his Word and Messengers, speak this language? Doth not his constant care about you, and providential kindness unto you, in every re­spect, and according to what your hearts could wish, bespeak you in this loving manner? Do not all these lay that Christ speaks like a most sweet, loving, tender, and kind-hearted Hus­band to you? Open to me, my Sister, &c. and surely these soft words might break the bone, and force open the doors of our heart, with­out any del [...]. I am sure Christ hath mani­fested as much love, and dealt with as much tenderness towards us, as ever he did towards a people. And therefore his calls are loud enough to be heard.

10. Is not his head filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night?

If we take these words in a good sense, that he comes fully fraught and furnished with all fulness and plenitude of blessings and benefits that our Souls can desire, or stand in need of; I appeal to any of your souls that ever did o­pen to, and let in the Lord Jesus Christ, whe­ther ever you found any want in him, or were streightned in him? whether he brought not more comfort and benefit with him, than ever you were able to contain, though you opened your mouths never so wide? Hath he not fully answered, and over-answered your most enlarged expectations? so that you might have eaten and drunken far more abundantly, if you had been able to contain it? Every hair of his head hath a drop of some kinde of re­freshment hanging at it, which you might be welcome to. And therefore his call is loud e­nough, when he tells you what he hath brought with him.

But take the argument in a bad sense, for the sufferings and afflictions of Christ; and they are a loud call. Hath not Christ suffer­ed enough in his humiliation, in making way to receive you into favour with God, and in­to covenant with himself; but you must put him to new pain and trouble, by making him to [Page 125] stand waiting, and dancing attendance at your door, while you are snorting and stretch­ing your self upon your bed of ease and secu­rity? Was not his once offering up himself a Sacrifice for sin, sufficient, but you must cru­cifie him afresh, and put him to new pain, by your slothful and sluggish delays, and unrea­sonable excuses? Doth not Christ suffer e­nough in his Name and Honour from wicked blasphemous wretches, who rend and tear his very Name, wilfully reject him, and will not have this man to rule over them; but must he also be slighted and undervalued by you? must he suffer in his Ministers by the revilings, evil-speakings, and persecutions that they endure in and from the world? and is not this suffi­cient, but their Hearts also must be made sad by your refusal to open to Christ? The weight of this Argument makes this call to be very loud, and especially at this day, under the cir­cumstances that we now are. And therefore I desire it may be seriously considered.

By these enquiries we may see, that the call of Christ at this day is very eminent and re­markable; and therefore it concerns us to en­quire, what answer we make to this call; Whether we have done, and really do open to this call, or no: which is the

2. Enquiry which we proposed to make: [Page 126] and I beseech you let us be serious in it. It is a matter that greatly concerns us, since Christ his calls are so eminent, and his stay hath been so long at the door of our Hearts. What answer have we made to the calls of Christ? have we heartily, sincerely, and readily opened the doors of our Hearts, that the King of glory might enter in? But alas! if we deal faithfully in the examination of our own Hearts, and in the account which we give in this case, it is to be feared, that Christ hath had no better (if so good) an answer from us, than he had here from his Spouse: As will appear, if our hearts make but true and faithful answer to these fol­lowing Queries.

1. If we have truely opened to Christ, how comes it to pass that convictions are so inef­fectual and fruitless as they are at this day? We finde in the course of our Ministry the word of God sometimes working by way of conviction. Persons are convinced by the word that they are the persons so and so guilty, are a little startled and affrighted; are pricked at the heart, their Consciences smite them, and tell them as Nathan did David, Thou art the man, to whom this reproof comes, that art thus and thus guilty of sin, art in a state of nature and unregeneracy, in the gall of bitter­ness and bonds of iniquity; and that if thou [Page 127] diest in this estate, thou art undone for ever: That there is no way, or course left to avoid this, but by opening to Jesus Christ, re­penting of, and forsaking thy sin, turning to God with all the heart, and taking up a new course of life. Fleeing unto Christ alone for justification, in a sense of thine own utter un­worthyness. Entering into covenant with him, taking him for thy Prophet, Priest, and King; giving up thy self unto him, in all humble, hearty, and sincere submission to his will, and obedience to all his commands. This the word dictates, and Conscience sets in with it, and seconds it: And to make up the conviction more full, the Spirit of God comes in, and tells thee, that this condition thou art in, is not to be rested in, thou must either turn, or die: To day if thou wilt hear the voice of God, then harden not thy heart; ere long it will be too late, thy Sun will be set, thy day of grace over, and these things will be hid from thine eyes. Hereupon thy Conscience is startled, and thou beginnest to think with thy self what thou must do; and (it may be) hast some sudden earnest motions, purposes, and resolutions to turn, and to break off from thine old ways and courses, to become a new creature. But alas! how suddenly are all these vanished and gone again, and thou fal­lest [Page 128] fast asleep again in security? Convictions wear off, Affections cool, Fears abate, Sin looks not so terrible, thine own estate and condition not to dreadful and hopeless, Death not so near the flames of Hell not so hot and scorch­ing; and so the wook is laid aside and left undone, and thou returnest with the dog to the vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wal­lowing in the mire. Or, (at most, if these con­tinue still) thou goest with an inward griping wounded Conscience, and dost not really come out of thy self, unto Christ, for healing, Christ is little store set by, or sought after, but thou patchest up a Plaister for thy wounded Conscience of some pitiful, poor, and imper­fect righteousness of thine own, takest up some small formal Profession of Religion: and thus stoppest the clamours of thy Conscience, and Christ is shut out, and stands without still.

Nay, may I not say of some, that instead o [...] opening to Chrst, they are hardned in thei [...] sins, and grown Sermon-proof? the Word o [...] God affects them not, takes not hold upo [...] them, as sometimes it hath done; but the [...] with less pain and torture of Conscience ca [...] turn off reproofs than formerly they coul [...] have done, and sit more quietly and undistu [...] bedly under Ordinances: and that not becau [...] they are in a better condition than formerly [Page 129] (for they are the same both in heart and life that they were before) but because their hearts are more hardened, and their consciences more brawny, and their souls more sluggish and sensless than they were before. Is this thy opening to Christ? Is this the entertain­ment which Christ finds, when his head is filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night? Oh consider this before it be too late, before Christ be withdrawn and gone! We have a sad complaint which God makes against Ephraim, Hos. 6.4, &c. O Ephraim! what shall I do unto thee? — For your good­ness is as a morning-cloud, and as an early dew it passeth away. A morning-Cloud seems to promise rain, but as the Sun ariseth it va­nisheth away; an early Dew seems to moisten and refresh the earth, but when the Sun comes to be hot, the dew is quickly gone, and the grass scorcheth so much the more: so was their goodness very vanishing and un­constant. They seemed to take notice of Gods words, to be affected with them, and to pro­mise and purpose amendment; but alas, their promises and purposes quickly vanished and came to nothing, according to what you finde Psal. 78.34, 35, 36, 37. Hath it not been too much your case? Under convictions you have seemed to promise God fair things, and there [Page 130] hath been some hopes of your conversion and change: But no sooner hath the heat of con­viction been over, but all these things have quickly vanished away, and come to nothing. Is this the entertainment that Christ hath found? Blame him not then, if he depart, and make you seek him before you finde him.

But further; since it is the Spouse of Christ that is here spoken of, let me carry on this Query about Conviction a little further: You who really are Believers, and have entred into covenant with Christ, and stand in a Covenant-relation to Christ: Have you opened to the calls of Christ? Hath there not been many strong convictions upon your spirits in many particular cases, wherein you have been faulty, and your Consciences have smitten you? and yet for all this, you have stifled these con­victions, and have not opened to Christ: you have many times been convinced of your Pride, Worldly-mindedness, Vanity and Un­savoriness, Sloath, and Luke-warmness, Back­wardness to Duty, Deadness in Duty, Un­belief, and distrust of God, and of his Care and Providence, and such like things; and yet your hearts have not been willing fully to open to Christ in these things, and to let con­viction have its perfect work in order to your reformation: you have heard the Word, and [Page 131] known your selves to be guilty of such things as the Word hath reproved; Conscience hath spoken, and the Spirit of God hath spoken, and yet you have not hearkned to the counsel and dictates thereof, but have turned a deaf ear, and gone on in your sin still. Is this your opening to him who is the wonderful Counsellor, who is your Lord and Husband, and whose com­mands should have influence upon you? Oh my friends! we may all sadly complain, that in this respect we have all of us made excuses, and kept Christ out of our hearts.

2. If the door be not shut against Christ, how comes it to pass that the Ordinances of Christ are so little prized, so little store set by at this day? We told you in the opening of the Doctrine, that one way of Christ his cal­ling was by his Ordinances. In and by them he convinceth of and reproveth sin; directs in, and encourageth unto duty; communi­cates grace, affords his company, gives in nourishment, refreshment, strength, and com­fort unto the hungry panting Soul. These are the Wells of Salvation, and Waters of the Sanctuary, that are for the refreshing the City of our God. Where these therefore are slight­ed, Christ must necessarily be shut out, and not opened to. We have the Spouse, Cant. 1.7, 8. enquiring where she may meet her beloved. And [Page 132] he tells her, she may finde him in his Ordinan­ces, and in the assembly of his Saints: there he records his Name, and there he meets his people and blesseth them. And therefore they that carelesly turn their backs upon the Ordi­nances of Christ, turn their backs upon, and shut the door of their Hearts against him. Persons may, and often do, frequent the Ordi­nances of Christ, and yet keep the door of their Hearts fast shut against Christ: But they are utterly out of the way of opening to Christ, yea, out of the ordinary way of Christs call, that turn their backs upon his Ordinan­ces. Greater contempt cannot persons pour upon Christ, than to despise and set light by the Ordinances of Christ, which he hath insti­tuted as means for the enjoyment of him. And if this be so, how ordinarily is Christ shut out! We complain of the deadness of Trade, and what a low rate all kinde of com­modities carry: but I am sure Christ's trade is very low; the commodities which Christ offers in the market of his Ordinances (though very rich and costly in themselves, yet) are at a very low rate in the esteem of most men. O how slight an occasion will keep persons back from the Ordinances of Christ! If any worldly business be to be done, persons think it unreasonable to be moved to leave that, and [Page 133] to attend the Ordinances of Christ; as the Spouse here thought it unreasonable to move her to leave her warm bed, to come to open to Christ. O how many will rise more early, travel further, and take more pains for an earthly bargain, than to meet with Christ in his Ordinances! these must onely be attended at leisure-times, when men have nothing else to do. If the Ordinances of Christ lose men an hour in their shops, or a single bargain (if but to the value of a shilling) in their trades, they think Christ bids them loss, if he move them to leave their worldly business and attend upon him. Many value Christ and his com­pany at a lower rate than thirty pieces. Some (again) can spare time to attend Ordinan­ces, but if it must cost them any thing, these Ordinances must be forborn. In many pla­ces; and with many persons, he is the best Minister that will be hired at the cheapest rate, though his preaching be little to the purpose; though he seldom disturb them with any con­siderable calls from Christ. Others, though they do frequent Ordinances, yet, not as the Ordinances of Christ, which binde Consci­ence, but as indifferent things, that may be done, or left undone, without any guilt or blame: And therefore they make little mat­ter of rushing out of the world and worldly [Page 134] business into an Ordinance, altogether unpre­pared, and uncomposed, but their thoughts and hearts are full of the world as may be: and as little matter of running into the world again so soon as ever the Ordinance is ended, without allowing themselves the least time to meditate, or beg God's blessing upon what they have been partakers of. Is this your opening to Christ at his call? I am very confident this is not the least reason of persons unfruitfulness under Ordinances at this day, because the Ordinances are not conscien­tiously attended. Nor do persons allow them­selves time in meditation and prayer that the Ordinance might have its soaking influence upon them. By this means, Sirs, you do too ordinarily, if not constantly, shut out Christ. This low esteem that the Ordinances of Christ have among us, doth sufficiently manifest that our hearts are not rightly open to Christ. It was far otherwise with the Spouse, Cant. 2.3. She sate down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was pleasant to her taste. But these have scarce time, and less mindes to sit down at all, but are in a running posture, as if Christ's bounties were not worth the stay­ing for.

3. If the heart be open to Christ, whence is it, that persons are so cold, formal, and in­different, [Page 135] both in their profession, practices and performances? Surely if Christ were let in, the heart would be more warm and lively, Grace would be more active in us than it is at this day. We read, Cantic. 5.5. that when Christ put but in his finger by the hole of the door, though the door was not fully opened to him, yet he left such a warming, perfuming vertue behind him, as set the Spouse her Graces afloat; she can rest no longer in her bed, but ariseth, her bowels yern towards him; and be­fore she get the door open, her fingers drop with myrrhe; there will be a sensible altera­tion of the humours (to speak so) a change of the frame and disposition of Grace in the heart where Christ comes, and meets with ready entertainment. The Souls sleepy fit will be over when Christ comes in, and her Graces will fall to their work; Faith will be strongly active, Love will be inflamed, Thank­fulness will be increased, Obedience will be more exact, and universal Repentance more deep and serious, the heart wholly and zea­lously engaged for Christ, when the door of the heart is truely opened to Christ. But oh, how far otherwise is it with us! something of the carcass of Religion, and the form of God­liness, an external profession of the Name of Christ is left; but little of the life, and zeal, [Page 136] and warmth and power of Religion left! In former days, when Christ was eminently seen in his Ordinances, and Believers hearts were more freely and fully open to him, we see what holy, heavenly, zealous, universally circumspect Christians were then to be found; what wonderful works did manifest them­selves in them, and were done by them. But where have we almost any Christians of the old stamp and strain left! Now adays we have much talking of Religion; but little holy, strict, and exemplary walking in the ways of God, in all holy Conversation and Godliness. Sure I am, there is a vast difference between Christians in former days, and those that now live. Then they were humble, holy, blameless in all man­ner of conversation, zealous for Gods glory, live­ly, spiritual and heavenly in their Duties, fer­vent in spirit, serving the Lord; fervent in love towards God and the Brethren, and that not in word only, but in deed and in truth: such as might easily be distinguished from the gene­rality of the world. But now, how many professors of Religion are there, who are Proud, covetous, sensual, compliers with the fashions and customes of the world, envious, ma­licious, backbiters, slanderers, having only a form of godliness, very curious about circum­stances, very careless about the substance and [Page 137] practical part of Religion? This shews, that though we carry the name of Christ in our foreheads, yet Jesus Christ is too much kept out of our hearts.

4. If the heart be open to Christ, how comes it to pass that the world hath so great a share and interest there? Surely where Christ comes, he gains the heart, and the whole bent of the Soul is after him: Nothing more ear­nestly desired, or diligently sought for than Christ. Rachels language to Jacob, upon bet­ter grounds, and with far better reason, is the language of a gracious heart to God: Give me Children or I die. So saith the Soul, Give me Christ, or I die: I can no longer be with­out him: I languish and pine away for want of him. If I may have but one wish or request in all the world, it shall be this: That God would bestow Christ upon me, that I may not onely have an interest in him, and title or claim to him; but that I may have his company, and communion with him; may live in the light of his count [...]nance, al­ways beholding his most lovely face, hearing his most pleasant voice, and tasting of his most Royal dainties. The breathings of a gracious heart towards Christ are the same (for reality, though not for degree) that Christ his brea­things are towards her, Cant. 2.14. O my [Page 138] dove! — Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. It was thus with David, Psal. 27.4, &c. If he might but have one re­quest, it should be, that he might dwell in the house of the Lord, and that for this end, that he might behold the beauty of the Lord, and enquire in his Temple: and whatever became of other things, this (as the main) would he seek after. But alas! is it not far otherwise with us in these days? and that among those that profess love to Christ! if we look what most men are busie about, what takes up most of their thoughts, what their discourse is most about in all companies, what they spend most time in, and weary themselves in the prose­cution of from day to day: shall we not finde it rather to be the World, than Christ? I will not say, (as is said of the wicked) That God is not in all their thoughts: but this may be too truely said of many; that their most fre­quent, pleasant, and abiding thoughts are a­bout the world. These lie down with them; these rise up; these go out and come in with them, as if these were their onely business. Doth this argue that these Hearts are open to Christ? where the door is open, a man may enter in without obstruction: But here it is an hard matter for a serious thought of Christ [Page 139] to get crowded in: If it come to the door, it gets no further; hath little or no admission into the heart and affections: no abiding there. We read in Scripture of many very gross sins that the servants of God (for some time) have been overcome by: but I do not remem­ber any (mentioned in Scripture) that were sincere, that were overcome with the love of the World. Demas (indeed) is said to em­brace this present World; but whether this be to be understood of his total apostacy from the faith, or onely his deserting his publick work or station, the Scripture leaves us in the dark, and leaves this brand of infamy and disgrace upon him. We know what the A­postle speaks, 1 Tim. 6.9, 10. They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. And the Apostle John tells us, 1 John 2.15. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Evidently manifesting, that there is not room for Christ and the World to dwell in the same heart. Christ himself tells us that we cannot serve God and Mammon. These two contrary Masters will be encroaching up­on [Page 140] each other, and imposing their contra­dictory commands. So that from hence I conclude, that where the world hath a great share in the heart and affections, there Christs interest is but small, and the door of our hearts not sufficiently opened to him. I am affraid that at the great day, when all hearts shall be tried and made manifest, there will be many a man found, who prayed for Christ, had a desire of him, yea and hoped that he had an interest in him, and a love for him; and yet through the prevalency of the world, never truely opened his heart to Christ. Exa­mine your hearts therefore how the case stands with you. If Christ be there, and opened to as he should be; how comes his mortal ene­my, the world, to have such an interest in you? and to bear so much sway with you? If your hearts were opened to Christ, the world would be more despised, and Christs company would be more delightful, and more store set by.

5. And lastly. If the door of our hearts be open to Christ by faith, How comes it to pass that there are so few fruits of Faith to be seen? There is no question to be made, but where Christ the Sun of righteousness shines into the Soul, the door of the heart being opened by Faith, but that it will be Summer-tide with [Page 141] that Soul; Grace will bud, blossom, and bear fruit. And if all other Graces be fruitful, why not Faith? If Faith therefore be fruitful where the Heart is opened to Christ, it concerns us to examine what fruits of Faith we finde in our selves. For as Faith hath a large root or foundation (having the whole Word of God for its object, upon which it acts, and from which at all times it fetcheth direction) so it hath a large office and work in the soul; its work being to purifie both heart and life. Acts 15.9. Purifying their hearts by faith. Therefore the Apostle James tells us, that Faith without works is dead being alone. I may well compare Faith to a large and frugi­ferous tree, whose root or foundation is the whole Word of God, recorded in the whole body of Scripture. The ground or seat of Faith is the heart, (the commanding power of the soul) the body or trunk of this tree, is the habit or principle of Faith infused into us, and nourished in us by the Spirit of God. The several branches of this tree spreading them­selves every way, are the several emanations or flowings forth of Faith, guided and di­rected by the several parts of Gods word. The fruits of Faith are the several particular actings of the whole man, guided by Faith accor­ding to the direction of Gods Word. Now [Page 142] where the ground of the heart is made warm by the presence and influential beams of the Sun of righteousness (being opened unto Christ at his coming) the tree of Faith must needs flourish, and drawing in fresh supply of sap from the rock of truth, which being digested in our hearts by Faith, must needs bring forth suitable and proportionable fruit of all kinds in our lives and conversations. If therefore thy heart be open to Christ by Faith, Where then are the fruits, effects, actings and flow­ings forth of Faith in all the parts and passages of thy life and conversation? Where is thy de­pendance upon, and embracing of his Pro­mises, relying upon his All-sufficiency? Where is thy universal obedience to his com­mands, discharging duty in every part and condition of life, living by and acting ac­cording to the rule of Gods Word, in every thing thou goest about, leaving the issue, suc­cess and event of all thy business and concerns to God, to his care and faithfulness? Where is thy constant watch against the deceitfulness of thy Heart, the temptations of Satan, the allurements and enticements of the World? and thy faithful resistance of all Temptations? thy deep repentance for, and faithful mortifi­cation of all sin, so far as discovered by the Word? Where is thy sincere, cordial, con­stant, [Page 143] universal obedience to the Word of God, making that thy Rule in all thine Actions; squaring thy whole life and conversation, both in respect of God, thy self, and thy Neigh­bour, according thereunto; giving every Duty, in thy general and particular calling, its due time, place, and respect? Not allowing the world to ingross to it self what properly and peculiarly belongs to God, his Worship and Service; and putting off God with such ho­mage and service as might better fit, and were more proper for our worldly concern­ments? My meaning is, our inverting, or go­ing (in the course of our lives) directly con­trary to that command or advice of our Sa­viour, Matth. 6.33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, and all other things shall be added. In all that we do in our general and particular places and callings, keeping God and his interest above, and pre­ferring it before the world.

If these be not the fruits of Faith, wherein thy Soul in some measure abounds, never tell me that thy heart is rightly and truly open to Christ: but according to the measure of thy unfruitfulness, remains (in measure and part at least) shut against Christ, notwithstanding thy pretences to open to him. How is it with you then, friends? In what posture do you [Page 144] finde your hearts? are they open or shut? It is evident that Christ his calls have been ve­ry remarkable: but what entertainment he hath found in your hearts, that is the question that is now put to your Consciences to make answer to. And I beseech you suffer your Consciences to speak, and to speak out what they know and can tell you in this case. Stifle them not, bribe them not, turn not the deaf ear to what they speak: they are God's Deputies within you. And if these condemn you, know that God is greater than your Hearts, and knows all things. You may deceive men, you may deceive your selves; but God you cannot deceive. Christ knows what entertainment he hath found, and he will make you to know it one day also: and therefore deal faithfully with your selves.

And if by these things which we have laid before you, we may try our selves, this may lead many of us (at least) to another work, which may be a

3. Ʋse. Here lies before us matter of deep humiliation, that so eminent and remarkable calls of Christ as we have been partakers of, have been so little regarded by us; that Jesus Christ (notwithstanding his earnestness and importunity) hath found such cold and poor entertainment in our hearts to this very day. [Page 145] But this I will not much enlarge upon, because I would keep within some convenient bounds. It is too obvious and apparent to be denied, that notwithstanding our great profession of love to Christ, desire of him, and frequent imploring his company by prayer; we have in too sad and shameful a manner shut him out at his coming, though his calls have been visible and convincing. How may we then tremble to think how this our behaviour will be resented by him! There are many that from what they behold in the world, are asto­nished at the apprehension of the danger of Christ his withdrawing for a time, if not to­tal departure. But from what usage Christ hath found in our hearts, without looking a­ny further abroad, we may finde sufficient cause of fear and trembling. I am very con­fident, that by that time all reckonings and accounts be cast up, (if Christ do depart) not the least part of the cause of his departure will be found among his own professing peo­ple: Such as have called upon his Name, cry­ed after him, and professed themselves earnestly desirous of his company: and yet, when (in answer to their prayers) he hath come, have not heartily and fully opened unto him. Mi­stake me not, I do not here mean by these per­sons of whom I am speaking, onely Hypo­crites, [Page 146] and such as make onely an external pro­fession of Religion; (though there be too many of these in the World) but also sin­cere believers, who have the root of the mat­ter, the truth of grace within them, and shall (notwithstanding all their blemishes) be found at Christ's right-hand, at the day of Judgement; that yet have too sadly shut out Christ when he hath come and called in an­swer to their prayers. Think not this impos­sible; for in my Text it is the Spouse, the Bride of Christ, that thus unkindly treated him when he stood at her door. And it is to be feared he hath found no better entertain­ment from us. What cause then have we to fear and tremble lest Christ should deal with us here as he did with the Spouse! and therefore with all humility and brokenness of heart, to confess and bewail, and (for time to come) resolve against this unworthy, ungrateful, and undutiful behaviour towards our Lord and Husband. But I pass from this to a [...]

4. Use, viz. of Exhortation, to beseech you all in the name and fear of God to open to the calls and knocks of Christ, laying aside all excuses whatsoever. O! let Christ have your hearts, let him have warm and welcome en­tertainment there. Do I need here to use Arguments? or summon in the Topicks of [Page 147] Rhetorick to quicken and perswade you to embrace this reasonable motion? or if I should use all the arguments I could invent, or that I might collect from the mouths and pens of other men, would these be of any force with you, if Christ his own words and arguments cannot prevail? can I in this case, or any man breathing, say more for Christ than he can and doth speak for himself? And therefore if Christ cannot, how shall I think to prevail with you? If either friendly compellations, ear­nest intreaties, or strong arguments may pre­vail, none of these are wanting in the Text; which I have been endeavouring (according to my power and weak ability) to unfold un­to you in this whole Discourse; to which I shall refer you, and shall not here repeat the same things over again; onely beg your se­rious meditation upon them: And consider­ing their weight and importance, see whe­ther they may not preponderate and out­weigh all arguments that your carnal deceit­ful Hearts, a subtile Devil, and an alluring whorish World can bring against this duty. Onely give me leave in a few words to expo­stulate the case a little with you. And here let me ask you

1. How or what manner of lives you think to live without Christ, and without his com­pany [Page 148] in your hearts? Seriously meditate up­on this, before you give an answer. Do you think to live to more profit and advantage to your selves without than with Christ? Is Christ no gain and advantage to your Souls? will he bring no profit and advantage with him? is not his head filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night? Hath not he the command and dispose of all things? and hath not he promised to give grace and glory, and to withhold no good thing? Psal. 84.11. and doth not he assure us that he that spared not his Son, but delivered him up for us all, will also with him give us all things, that may be good for us? Rom. 8.32. Do you think to live more to your own pleasure, contentment, or comfort? Is it not in his presence that there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand that there are pleasures for evermore? Psal. 16.11. Is it not in him alone that the Soul and Conscience can have true peace and a calm? and that when nothing but storms and tempests are without? read John 16.33. Tell me who but Christ can put your Soul into Davids frame of Spirit, when in Davids condition? Psal. 63. banished, hunted, persecuted, in the Wilderness, destitute of maintenance, friends, a resting-place, Ordinances; every hour in jeopardy of his life; and yet his Soul filled as [Page 149] with marrow and fatness in the company and enjoyment of God: there could he sing and give [...]raise. In such a condition also was he when he penned Psalm 57. and yet his heart was fixed to sing and give praise. If you think you can [...]ive more profitably or more pleasantly with­out Christ, in worldly and sinful ways and courses, let me desire you to take a view of your time, carriages, and manner of life that that is by past: And let me ask you the same question that the Apostle doth, Rom. 6.21. What fruit had you then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? This I will assure you, that either in respect of profit, pleasure, ho­nour or comfort, no company is like to Christs. Oh! therefore let not him stand without, while worse company is entertained in your hearts. What is the reason why Christians hearts are so full of guilt, doubts, fears, and dissatisfactions of every kinde? but for want of the company and presence of Christ. If this Sun of righteousness did but with healing under his wings arise upon, and shine into our hearts; he would quickly dispel and scatter all those midnight fogs and terrours, that do so disturb and disquiet us, and render our lives so uncomfortable.

2. Suppose that you could live well enough without Christ, while you live in this world: [Page 150] Let me ask you what you will do, or how you will make up your accounts at Death and Judg­ment without him? You know that It is appoin­ted to all men once to die, and after death the judgment. You know also, that we must all ap­pear before the Judgment-seat of Christ: for God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world by Jesus Christ, Acts 17.31. and that in that day, We must give him account of all that we have done in the flesh, whether good or evil, whether secret or open, whether in thought, word, or deed: there then we can­not avoid the meeting with Christ; how then do you think that Christ the Judge will look upon you, at that day, who have so slightly looked upon him, when he stood knocking at the door of your hearts? Read with serious­ness Prov. 1.24, to the end, Matth. 25.11, 12. Oh! the countenance and looks of Christ, which to you now is despicable, (but to the Saints lovely) will to you then be most dread­ful and terrible. Then will you cry to the mountains and hills to fall on you, and to hide you from the presence of the Lord, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who is able to abide it?

3. Let me further ask you, What is it that hinders you from opening to Christ at pre­sent? Is it any thing that hath the colour or [Page 151] face of reason in it? If not, why do you suffer it to hinder you? If it have, let us examine it, and see what strength of reason may be in it.

I can but (at present) call to minde these Three great and main hinderances, that keep men off from opening to Christ at his call.

1. The low and mean esteem which persons have of Christ's company, feasts and banquets. The generality of the world are clearly for some sensible good thing: Who will shew us any good thing? Psal. 4.6 Something that may yield them some present advantage, that may advance their estate, their credit, plea­sure or honour; something that they may see with their eyes, or handle, or taste &c. some­thing that is obvious to sense: but as for in­visible things, an interest in Christ, in the Covenant of Grace, a future reward in ano­ther Life, only for the present to be received and apprehended in the promise, these things are little store set by. If Christ would give them of these worldly good things, then they would set store by him. But if he tell them of spiritual Feasts, of a Treasure in Heaven, of a Crown of Glory, and such like things, these are not much taking with the generality, of the world. And therefore Christ his Feasts Company and Benefits, being spiritual, are [Page 152] little store set by, by carnal hearts; and when they are called upon to open to him, they make light of it, as not judging him worth the opening to. But that this is a great mistake, I might easily demonstrate, for we have little rea­son to have so low an esteem and value of Christ his Benefits and Banquets, if we do but rightly understand our selves. We will suppose a man to have all that the world can afford him, both in respect of profit, pleasure, and honour, and yet want true peace of conscience, true comfort in his Soul; can these things give him this, without Christ? But where a Soul hath Christ, he may have peace in his own Soul and Conscience, in the absence of these world­ly enjoyments. David in a wilderness, Paul and Silas in a dungeon, with their feet fast in the stocks, their stripes and wounds unwashed, can sing praises to God with a merry and chearful heart. Nay, my Friends! it is im­possible for me to express that quietness and serenity of Spirit, that abundant peace of Con­science, Joy of heart, contentation and satis­faction which a Believer enjoys in the company of and communion with Christ: therefore it is called a Peace which passeth all understanding, Phil. 4.7. It is called A Joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1.8. It is not what a man hath, but what gives true Peace, Satisfaction [Page 153] and contentment to the Soul, that makes a man happy; and this none but Christ can do: And therefore his company and banquets must needs be not so despicable as many men account them. But alas! it is their igno­rance, and want of experience; would they but be perswaded to open to Christ, and make trial of the excellency of his company, and rarity of his banquets, they would have a more venerable esteem for Christ than now they have.

2. Another grand hindrance that keeps us off from opening to Christ, is the urgency of other business. When Christ comes and calls, persons are so crowded with other busi­ness, that they cannot be at leisure to open to him, or give him any entertainment. Men are generally got plunged so deep in the cares and cumbers of the World, that they have no leisure to open to Christ: no nor so much as to weigh the arguments and motives that Christ makes use of to procure admission into their hearts. Oh how busie are men in the world! head and heart, hands and feet; yea whole soul and body as busily exercised about the world as may be; and they think all this little enough too, they think they get little enough by it; and how should these then have leisure to open to Christ? no wonder though [Page 154] his calls be so ineffectual, when perso [...] [...] so deeply ingaged in the world, that [...] have not leisure to stand still and consider [...] were best to be done, whether that which they are about, or some other thing. We read in the parable of the Supper, when the Master sends forth his Servants to invite guests, one man is busie with his Farm, another with his Merchandise; but none of those which were bidden had leisure to come. And the reason was, they saw a present necessity and urgency of the present business which they were a­bout, but they saw none so great and present need of Christ. Many in the world are worse employed than Martha was, and yet think their time so well spent in that which they are about, that they are loth to be taken off to wait and attend upon Christ and his Ministry. Martha had invited the Lord Jesus to her house, and with him many friends: and that which she was busie about, was, to make rea­dy provision for his entertainment; a busi­ness (one would think) indispensible. And yet our Saviour blames her for this, Luke 10.40, 41, 42. But Martha was cumbered about much serving — And Jesus answered and said, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful. And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall [Page 155] not be taken away from her. How many are [...]oth [...] employed than this! and yet have not [...] to consider whether any thing be more necessary to be done, than what they are a­bout. To such as these I would speak these few words. You think your selves well em­ployed in your earnest and not pursuit of the world, the cares and business that onely re­lates to this present life, and you see nothing more needful at present to be done. Let me ask you this question: Notwithstanding the great business which you have to do in the world, do you not sometimes finde leisure to eat, drink, sleep, dress and adorn the body? You will say, Yes, without these we could not live, nor have any strength to follow our busi­ness. Well, will time be afforded for taking and feeding upon the meat that perisheth, and no time allowed for feeding upon that meat which endures to everlasting life? Read John 6.27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life. Hath your Body more need of Clothes to cover your nakedness, and keep your warm, than your Souls to be clothed with the Righte­ousness of Jesus Christ as a Robe or Garment? If you did but as really see how naked your Souls look in the sight of God, Angels, &c. you would be as much ashamed of your selves, [Page 156] as you would now be to have men see your Body naked. And therefore consider with your selves, whether there be not as great need to take fit and convenient time for the feeding and clothing your Souls, as there is for feeding and clothing your Bodies. And if there be as great need, I pray you let not your pre­cious Souls famish and starve, while you so carefully pamper your Bodies, and that not­withstanding your great and urgent business in the world. Again, you that are so earnest and busie about the world, and have your time and thoughts so taken up about it, let me ask you this one question more: Whether do you judge that your success in your worldly affairs doth principally flow from your own wisdom, care, and pains; or from the blessing of God upon your endeavours? I believe that few or none of you will be so audaciously impious as to affirm the former; (whatever you think) but rather that your successive business doth arise from the blessing of God upon your endeavours. And if so, I pray you to con­sider upon what ground or warrant you can expect the blessing of God upon your endea­vours, when you wilfully shut the door of your Hearts against his well beloved Son? and when you make so light of him and his company, that every worldly trifle must take place of him, [Page 157] and be preferred before him? Might not ma­ny of you succeed better in your worldly busi­ness, if you would give Christ better enter­tainment in your Hearts, and cumber your selves less about the world? Christ bids us, Matth. 6.33. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and the Righteousness thereof: and promiseth that all other things shall be added. Intimating, that the best way to secure a competency of this world to our selves, is in the first and chief place to secure an interest in Christ for our Souls. We say, that he that would drive on a Trade, must have interest and acquain­tance. And I am sure we cannot have interest in, nor acquaintance with a better friend than Christ; nor one that can bestead us more in the carrying on of our worldly business: For It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich; and addes no sorrow therewith, Prov. 10.22. O spare some time therefore in the midst of your worldly business, to open your hearts to Christ.

3. Another hinderance to our opening to Christ, may be the difficulty and unpleasant­ness of the work, either in opening to Christ, or when we have opened to him.

1. There is a difficulty in opening to Christ, which a lazy sluggish Soul is hardly brought to grapple with and overcome. Faith and [Page 158] Love are the two principal ways whereby the Soul is to open to Christ. And these are two Graces, not without much difficulty at­tained unto, in the right exercise of them Many persons, at a distance, think it an easie matter to believe in a crucified Saviour; but when they come to make proof of their Faith in particular cases, they many times finde themselves at a loss. See this in an instance, Mark 9.24. we have a man bringing his child to Christ to be healed; his coming ar­gued something of Faith; but when the Disciples had failed in the cure, and the child was rather worse than better, the mans faith begins to stagger, as appears by his words, vers. 22. If thou canst do any thing, have com­passion on us, and help us. Hereupon Christ calls him to the real exercise of Faith, vers. 23. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. The poor man upon exa­mination of his own heart, finding some faith, but yet this very weak, and hardly to be raised to a firm and stedfast belief, without wavering or doubting, cries out, I believe, Lord help thou mine unbelief: Which manifested his sense of the difficulty of opening to Christ by Faith, as he ought. And truely, Christians that know any thing of their own hearts (as they ought) finde this a very difficult work in cases [Page 159] of an easier nature than this, here, of this man was. And therefore a lazy sluggish Soul is un­willing to be at such pains. There are some weary steps that a believer must take to open to Christ by Faith. As (1.) earnest Prayer to him, who is the Finisher and Perfecter, as well as the Authour and Beginner of this Grace. Faith in the act and exercise, as well as in the habit, must be obtained of Christ by earnest Prayer. And to tug in this duty of Prayer, as we ought, is no easie work, especially if Christ for some time seem to hold back and deny, as he did to the woman of Canaan. This puts the Soul sometimes into a sweat, and there­fore the easeful Soul is loath to be at this pains; his patience is worn out, and he faints and flags in the duty.

2. Another weary step the Soul must take to get Faith into the exercise, is the searching the Word and Promises, and rightly applying them. It is sometimes difficult to finde such promises as may rightly suit our condition: When we have found them, it may be some­thing more difficult rightly to understand them according to the true intent and purport of them: sometimes it may be difficult to get our hearts rightly affected with them; and most of all, to clear up our interest in them. So that sometimes a Believer findes a promise, [Page 160] and meditating sees it to suit his condition well enough; but yet lays it aside, can suck no sweetness from it, because he cannot clear up his interest in it: and that by reason of some particular condition or qualification annexed thereto, which he findes not in himself. In this case to believe seems difficult, and there­fore the promise is laid aside, and no comfort gathered from it; upon this account a lazy Soul sits down in unbelief, and doth not open to Christ by faith.

3. Another weary step is, the overcoming that unbelieving frame of heart which we are naturally prone unto. Unbelief is a sin which naturally flows from the corruption of our natures, and accompanies us in some measure, more or less, while we are in this Vale of Tears. And this part of corrupt nature poor Souls finde as much difficulty in the over­coming, as any corruption. And the reason is, because (of all corruptions) none hath more to say for it self than this; for the object of Faith (properly) is unseen things, such as are not obvious to sense, such as seem to thwart both sense and reason, and frequent experi­ence; such things as we have nothing to bot­tom our faith concerning upon, but the bare Word of God, we are to believe in hope, con­trary to hope. And this makes the work dif­ficult; [Page 161] hereupon few Christians are so resol­ved and industrious, as to be at the pains which the Psalmist was, Psal. 73. to search things to the bottom, and to weigh things in the balance of the Sanctuary, and therefore they sit down without opening to Christ by Faith.

4. Another difficulty is the griping guilt of sin and unworthiness, which so looks them in the face when they should open to Christ by Faith, that the eye of their Faith is dim, and they cannot with any confidence look Christ in the face. It is an usual saying, that a guilty Conscience needs no Accuser. Conscience will inwardly check the adulterous Spouse of Christ, and make her blush when she should open to him and look him in the face. The Psalmist complains, that he was so compassed about, and tormented with his sin, that he could not look up, Psal. 40.12. It is a mistake very common in humbled penitent sinners, that they must not, dare not, by Faith open to, and close with Christ, till they have at­tained such a measure of internal purity and Sanctity as may make them fit for, and (in a sort) worthy of his company. But these begin their work at the wrong end: They should first open to Christ by Faith, and then he will help them to, and carry on in them this [Page 162] work of purity: For it is his work by his Spirit to purifie, and this purifying vertue we must fetch from him by Faith: for It is he that worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, because without him we can do nothing. Our work is first to believe, and then by Faith to mortifie the deeds of the flesh. Now this work is difficult, to open to Christ, and look him in the face by Faith, with the guilt of sin upon our Consciences. This goes contrary to the grain of Flesh and Blood, who would gladly have something of its self and its own Righteousness in its justification. Whereas our work is to disclaim all worthy­ness of our own, and to come to Christ with Ropes about our Necks, as self-condemned persons, lying at the foot-stool of pure Grace, and Christs Righteousness for justification and life. And therefore where there remains any measure of pride in the Heart, according to that measure and degree of pride, Christ will be shut out: The weary step of self-denial (in this case) the sluggish Christian is not wil­ling to take.

Thus you see the work it self in opening to Christ by Faith is very difficult, and hence the lazy Christian lies down upon his bed of pre­sent ease, and refuseth to be at the pains to open to Christ by Faith. But, would the Soul but [Page 163] consider the amends that Christ's company would make for all his pains, and how easie all these duties would be made by Christs com­ing in; surely the Soul would never think his pains better bestowed than in opening to Christ by Faith. It is he that by his Spirit helps our infirmities in prayer, and helps us by his own strength to wrestle with himself and prevail. It is he that brings promises to our minde, helps us to understand and rightly to apply them, and to take the sweetness and the comforts of them. It is he that gives us a Pisgah-sight of unseen things, and assures our Souls of the certainty of them. It is he that helps our unbelief: And it is he, and he alone, that by his Blood must purge away the guilt of all our sins. Oh! therefore open to Christ by Faith, and let not these impediments hinder you.

And as in Faith, so in opening the Heart to Christ by Love, there is great difficulty; much ado to bring the Heart to open fully to Christ by Love. These worldly things seem so lovely, that the Heart is much stolen away by them! These worldly things are so con­stantly present with us, that it is hard to get a sight of Christ, who is at a distance, and seen (as it were) afar off. These worldly things are so obvious and suitable to sense, (by [Page 164] which we too much live) that the object of Faith is little notice taken of. To love him therefore, and that with such a love as we ought, whom we have not seen, this is very dif­ficult: To open our Hearts and Affections to him that we never saw with our eyes, but onely have heard tell of; this is very difficult, and scarcely attainable by a sluggish Soul, that is unwilling to be at the pains to enquire after him. But let not this hinder, for we have such discoveries of him in the Word, (if we will but be at the pains to search them out) as will render him altogether lovely; far more desirable than the most precious thing in the world. And therefore let not sloth hinder us from opening to Christ by love.

2. As there may be difficulty and unplea­santness in opening, so there may be difficult and unpleasant work when we have opened to Christ, and let him in; and the thought of this may make the Soul unwilling to open to Christ. As for instance,

1. Christ at his coming in, may rip up our old sores, and bring our sins to remembrance, which may renew our torment and pain. When Christ comes in, he makes new disco­veries in the Soul: many a sin forgotten, and not duly repented of, is brought to minde; and the sting of it wounds and cuts the Soul, [Page 165] puts the Soul to new sorrow, shame, and pain: and this makes the Soul afraid of opening to Christ. There is in every one such an inde­ [...]ible sense of the holiness of Christ, and of their own guilt, that (though the Soul may have a real desire of Christs company, yet) is really afraid to let him in, lest Christ should discover there what the Soul is afraid to have seen. And therefore it argues not onely the sincerity and truth of Grace, but a considera­ble measure of the prevalency of Grace, when the Soul, without inward reluctancy or fear­fulness, can say as David Psal. 139.23. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. This is a work wherein the Soul would be tenderly dealt with: and lest Christ (in this case) should deal faith­fully and roundly, the Soul is afraid to open to Christ. Though Reason will pray with us to have our Wounds searched, yet Nature it self is afraid to have the Surgeon meddle with it. Such is the case here; and upon this ac­count many faint-hearted Christians are un­willing to open to Christ; but rather shut him out.

But, oh my Friends! If this be the reason why Christ is not readily opened to by you, let me tell you, The longer you keep him out, the worse it will be with you: your Soul is [Page 166] ulcerated with sin, it is not found at the bot­tom; and if Christ be not let in at all, you must unavoidably perish of this wretched di­sease. And if you do let him in hereafter, he must then search it to the bottom, and in the mean time your sin frets as a canker, eats deeper and deeper into your heart; and will not your pain be the more intolerable, when your wound comes to be searched? And therefore let spiritual reason prevail with you to open to Christ, without any more delay. That which here thou makest use of as a rea­son why thy heart is shut against Christ, should be a strong, yea the strongest argument to the contrary, to open to Christ quickly. It is infinite Mercy that thou hast so precious a Surgeon at hand. It would be a most childish thing then to shut him out of doors, because thou needest his help, but art afraid lest he should see, and rip up thy sore. This flesh-pleasing easefulness is that which ruines many thousands.

2. He may call us off from our earnest pur­suit of the world and worldly business, which is urgent upon us: He may say to thee, Come, follow me; be not so hasty in the pursuit of the world, lay aside thy business for a while, I have other business for thee to do; let me have thy company a little, for, for that end [Page 167] am I come. This may be the language of Christ to the soul. But this is very unpleasing unto the Soul, that is hot and earnest in the pursuit of the world; this soul will be ready to answer as the man in the Gospel, Lord I will follow thee, but suffer me first to go and bury my father; let me but dispatch such or such, bu­siness that is urgent upon me, and then I will wait upon thee. But O Soul! consider with thy self, what hast thou of greater concern­ment to do, than to hearken to and obey the voice of Christ? If Christs company be no more worth, and his feast of no greater va­lue, he may resolve thou shalt not taste of his dainties. His business with thee may be the correcting thy faults, the illuminating thee with spiritual wisdome, washing and spiri­tualizing thy cold and carnal A [...] [...] to be sure his main business with thee [...]o [...]tes to thy spiritual estate, to the concerne of thy [...] And this is of so much greater and [...] [...] ­port to thee, than any worldly business what­soever, as thy Soul is of [...] than all the world. For what will [...] thee to gain the whole [...] and [...] precious, immortal soul? [...] give in exchange for thy soul? [...] lost by thine earnest pursuit of [...] neglect of that spiritual work which Christ [...] thee to.

3. Christ at his coming into the Soul, some­times puts his Spouse or People upon some unpleasant work which they would gladly be excused from; and this may be an hindrance to their opening to him. Sometimes he calls to, and puts them upon renewed acts of Re­pentance (as was hinted before.) Sometimes upon the mortification of some beloved lust, which may be as painful, and as unwillingly yielded to, as the cutting off the right hand, right foot; or plucking out the right eye. Nay, his Word may (further) be quick and powerful, shar­per than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, and of the joynts and marrow, discerning and discovering the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb. 4.12. which the Soul is not willing should be dis­covered, or cut off: or at least is afraid of the pain and trouble it may be put to in this work; and therefore lingers, and puts off Christ from time to time. Sometimes (a­gain) Christ may put his Spouse upon such duties, as may cross her natural inclination, or particular, present, and visible interest. Such as denying her self, taking up her cross, following him. Enduring hardship as a good souldier for Christ. Enduring reproaches, evil-speakings, persecutions, and the like: all which are unpleasing to flesh and blood: And where­in [Page 169] the Soul must say (as to its natural incli­nation) as our Saviour said when he prayed, Not my will, but thy will be done. Here the Soul often sticks, and upon these terms, is loth to open to Christ, the flesh having so strong an influence upon the soul. Upon such terms as these the young man in the Gospel went away from Christ, Mark 10.21, 22. — Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come take up thy cross and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved, &c. I am afraid there are but too many in this age that would account these too hard terms to accept of Christ upon.

But if men would but argue rationally, why should these be any hindrances to our opening to Christ? for in all this Christ bids us no loss. If he bids us part with Earthly, he promiseth us Heavenly treasure. If he bids us cut off a corrupt part or member, (though it be painful, yet) it is in order to the eter­nal salvation of the whole, Matth. 5.29, 30. and is it not better to lose a corrupt part, than lose the whole?

4. Christ at his coming may excite us to, and quicken us in our work, may call us to be quicker, and more exact and curious in our work. He may tell us that our work is great, [Page 170] and our time but short. He may bid us strive with all our might to enter in at the straight gate; for many shall, (in a lazy and sloathful manner) seek and wish to enter in, and shall not be able. He may tell us, that this lazy sloath­ful working will not attain the end that we aim at; for the Kingdom of Heaven suffers vio­lence, and the violent onely take it by force. It will not serve our turns to read, pray, hear, meditate, &c. at the cold and careless rate which we do. It will not do well to be such strangers (as we are) to our own hearts; but we must examine our own hearts more deeply, throughly, and effectually: must study and practice our duties more throughly: must watch unto prayer, and give our selves unto prayer: Must make the Law of God our delight and daily meditation: must in all things, small as well as great, exercise a Conscience void of offence towards God and Men: Must set a watch before the door of our Hearts, Lips, and lives: Must (in short) forgetting those things that are behinde, and reaching forward to those things that are before, press towards the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He may come to ask us such questions as these: What have you been doing since the last time I was with you? what have you learned? what have you practised? what proficiency [Page 171] have you made? what account can you give of the Talents which I betrusted you with? in what forwardness is your work? let me see how matters stand with you? what de­signes have you on foot for my glory? and what are the designes which you are now car­rying on? These and such-like questions may be asked by Christ at his coming in. Now if the Soul have been idle and careless, and not able in any measure to give a good ac­count in these and such-like cases; no wonder though she be unwilling (at this time) to o­pen to Christ. The fear of having her faults discovered, and the guilt of them to disturb the quiet of her Conscience, will make her very slow in opening to Christ, (as was noted before.)

But if reason might take place, this should be no hinderance at all; for what Christ tells us, is real truth, that our work is great, and our time but short, passing on a pace, and irreco­verable when gone: and if we have slept or loitered, is it reason that we should do so still? Is it not high time to awake out of sleep? the night is far spent, the day is at hand. If he should let us sleep or loiter on till his last call, to come to the Wedding, as he did the foolish Virgins, Math. 25. in what a condition would you be when you should awake, your [Page 172] lamps gone out, no oyl in your vessels, no neighbour to borrow of, every one having little enough for himself, and you must be forced to go to buy, when you should, enter in with him, and by this means you come to be shut out, and loose your whole expectation? Were it not better let in Christ now, and be content to shake off sleep, while you have time to get oyl into your vessels with your lamps? We use to say, that delays in most cases are very dangerous; and that it is bad putting off things to the last: I am sure this is most true in this case, that so greatly concerns the eternal state of our Souls. Nay further, if things be amiss in us, is it not better to let Christ come in, and put all things to rights in us, then to let them go at random, till they be past cure? I am sure there never was Soul that ever repented of this, whatever pain it was put to in the doing of it; though many a Soul hath sadly repented the shutting out of Christ, when it hath been too late. It is better that Christ bring thy faults and sin to light and remembtance here, while thou mayst repent and reform; than that thy sin should finde thee out in the guilt, shame, and punishment of it to all eternity hereafter: And be sure thy sin will, at one time or other, finde thee out, Numb. 32.23. Oh! therefore let none of these things have influence upon [Page 173] you, to hinder you from opening to Christ at his call.

I dare be bold to say, that there can be no true spiritual reason, for any poor soul to re­fuse to open to Christ; all reasons produced for that end are carnal, and therefore ought to be pulled down and destroyed; For the weapons of our warfare are not (ought not to be) carnal, but mighty; to the pulling down— all imaginations; or (as the word signifies) cavils, or carnal rea­sonings. One of these two causes (doubtless) both which are bad, these carnal reasonings must proceed from; either from a secret love to some sin, or lust in the heart, which we would not have Christ to discover or purge out; which may well call in question the truth and sincerity of Grace in us: for the Psalmist tells us, Psal. 66.18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer: And it is certain, He doth hear the Prayers of such as are sincere; for he saith, Psal. 145.18. The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him — in truth. So that thy sincerity is questionable. Or else it proceeds hence, viz. from Pride and Self-love. Pride, because thou wouldest not have Christ to see things [...]miss in thee: but know, that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. From Self-love, [...]n that thou so much desirest the ease, and gratification of [Page 174] the flesh: Now if thy very life be more dear to thee than Christ, thou art not worthy to be his disciple. O let none of these base and sin­ful arguments keep thee off from opening speedily to Christ at his call.

I might tell thee also of the advantages that will come by opening to Christ, but these I have largely spoken to before, only this one give me leave to mention here; If thou wilt freely open to Christ now, He will readily open to thee at Death and Judgment. There are few but they are convinced of the trouble and restlesness of their present state, and not fully satisfied with the present state they are in, but are still seeking and labouring for some­thing further, in hopes another condition may be better: and this they might gather from all their experiences, that a rest is not to be had here. And consequently all men (in this life) are but in a seeking condition, seeking for rest and can finde none, (as our Saviour speaks in the Pa­rable) they have often something within that suggests, This is not your resting place: By dayly experience they also see, that it is ap­pointed for all men once to die: And therefore they might conclude, that a rest must be had in another world, or not had at all; for here no rest is to be had. And certain it is, that There doth remain a rest for the people of God, [Page 175] and to them only: and who are these people of God, but they that open to Christ here? for all power is committed into the hands of Christ. He it is that hath the key of David, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth: And can we reasonably imagine that he will open to any (at that day) that will not open to him now? No; he tells us quite the contrary, Prov. 1.24, &c. You know the foo­lish Virgins cryed loud, Open to us; but he an­swered, I know you not, depart from me ye wor­kers of iniquity. If therefore there be any restlessness in this world that thou art weary of, or in Hell that thou art afraid of; or if there be any rest at death and in Heaven de­sireable, open to Christ now, as ever thou wouldest avoid the one, or desirest to partake of the other. So (that to conclude this Use) if either sense of duty, love to thy self and thine own happiness, the love of God and Christ, or love to God and Christ may have any influence upon thee, if any thing either of Divinity or Humanity may work upon thee, here is fulness of reason and motives to per­swade thee to open to Christ; and therefore let reason prevail with thee.

But thou wilt say, How shall I open to Christ? And what would you have me in this case to do? I am willing to open to Christ, [Page 176] if I knew but how to do it, and what is re­quired in this case?

That I may help thee a little in this great and necessary work, I shall give thee some directions, how to carry, and what to do, and so shall conclude this subject. And these di­rections shall be of two sorts. 1. Such as may have respect unto the Heart, and the manner or way of the Hearts opening to Christ. 2. Such as may have respect to Christ, and the several ways of his coming in, and making himself manifest unto the Soul.

1. I begin with such directions as respect the Heart, and the way and manner of the Hearts opening to Christ. Now that we may the better know how many ways the Heart must be opened to Christ, it may not be im­pertinent to consider how many ways the Heart may be shut against Christ. Now, it is evident that the Heart may these several ways be shut against Christ. By Pride and self-con­fidence: by unbelief: by impenitency: by want of Love, or coldness of affection: by sloth and sluggishness either in our watch or work. A little to open each of these, and then you shall see by them, what of the Heart, or in what respects the Heart is to be opened to Christ.

1. The Heart may be shut against Christ by [Page 177] Pride, and self-confidence. Such is the Pride and haughtiness of corrupted Nature, that though the sinner be justly condemned for his sin, yet he seeks to justifie himself, and would not seem to be beholden to Jesus Christ nor his satisfaction for a pardon. This is evident in our first Parents, in their shifting off their sins, and endeavouring to transmit the guilt upon some one else. Adam when examined, rather than he would be found faulty, lays the blame upon Eve, and in some sense upon God himself: The woman which thou gavest me, gave me, &c. and I did eat. The woman, when examined, lays the guilt upon the Serpent: The Serpent beguiled me, &c, And the same principle of Pride remains in some measure in the Hearts of all Adam's Posterity; which makes them use their utter­most endeavour to justifie themselves. This is the true cause of all excuses that are made for sin, and the reason why persons do so over-much value their own works of Righte­ousness, judging (in effect) that every small parcel of duty and obedience is sufficient to expiate the greatest sin. And by this means Je­sus Christ is undervalued, and little store set by: For a man will never be wholly beholden to Jesus Christ for his justification, while he hath any Righteousness of his own to lean to. [Page 178] And by this means the Heart is shut against Christ. As this Pride hardens God's heart a­gainst the sinner, and makes God to resist, or set himself in battle-array against the sinner, (as the word signifies) James 4.6. and as this self-justifying confidence causeth Christ (many times) to pass by the door of such a sinner without calling upon him; for he tells us, that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, Matth. 9.13. that is, those that are (through Pride and self-confi­dence) righteous in their own eyes: So this Pride doth harden and shut the heart of the sinner against God and Christ. And there­fore the Psalmist saith, The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God. Psal. 10.4. This therefore must be removed out of the way, before the door of the Heart be truly and fully opened to Christ. Wouldest thou therefore open to Christ, get rid of all Pride and self-confidence: labour to be humble, low, and vile in thine own eyes; and to such Christ will look, Isai. 66.2. To this man will I look, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word. And elsewhere, The poor have the Gospel preached to them. i. e. They that are of a poor, humble, self-denying spirit, have the glad tidings of Salvation brought unto them: to these the Son of Righteousness [Page 179] ariseth with healing under his wings. And there­fore blessed are these poor in spirit, for they shall see God. While David justified himself and hid his sin, the hand of God was heavy upon him: but when he humbled himself and con­fessed freely his sin, God came in with pardon, Psal. 32. Oh therefore labour after humility and lowness of spirit; for God resisteth the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble your selves therefore, and in due time God will exalt you with his presence and company. Christ must do all, and have the glory, as well as the command of all, where he comes: and therefore he is fit company for none but those that are humble, self-denying, self-condemn­ing sinners.

2. The Heart is many times shut against Christ by unbelief. Faith is the hand whereby Christ is received: Faith must open the door to Christ; and therefore where Faith is wan­ting, the door of the Heart must needs be kept shut against Christ. Unbelief is one of the great Bars or Bolts, whereby the Heart is kept fast shut against Christ. This Bar there­fore must be removed, before the Heart can be opened to Christ. The Apostle tells us the rea­son why the Jews were rejected, was because of their unbelief. Unbelief is the great Gospel-sin, the Rock upon which many a poor soul as [Page 180] plit. Therefore saith our Saviour, John 3.18. He that believeth not is condemned al­ready, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Beware there­fore of unbelief, and open to him by Faith. Christ gives many invitations and calls, such as you read Isai. 55.1. &c. Believe therefore that Christ is really willing to receive those that he makes such calls unto; and of those number thou art, if thou dost not wilfully exclude thy self through unbelief. He makes many gracious promises of Pardon of Sin, of Adoption, Sanctification, and Life E­ternal: and withal he tells thee upon what terms and conditions these things are to be had. Therefore by Faith embrace these Pro­mise, apply them to thy self, thankfully close with them, and labour to answer the terms and conditions of them; and if thou dost but on thy part manifest thy real willingness, thou shalt finde that he will come in unto thee with comfort and assurance. Therefore open to Christ by Faith: believe his word: embrace his promises: obey his commands: dread his threatnings: give up thy self by covenant unto him, that he may be made of God unto thee wis­dom righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

3. Sometimes the heart is shut against Christ by impenitency. It is an opinion but too [Page 181] common and ordinary among Sinners, that Repentance is only needful in some few gross cases, for some great and notorious enormity; but as for sins of a less magnitude, they look upon them as pardoned in course, without any considerable repentance. And therefore if they finde not themselves guilty of such great sins, they conceit that they need no Repentance. In this sense are those words of our Saviour to be understood, Luke 15.7. Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no re­pentance; i. e. that think they need no repen­tance: and this is the secret thought but of too many in the world, and by this they shut out the Lord Jesus Christ, as a person that they have no great need of, or occasion for; they think themselves whole, and therefore see no need of a Physician. But he that would have Christ to come into his soul, must see a need of Christ, must see himself to be a sinner, a great sinner, lost and undone without Christ, must see himself an enemy to God by nature, a rebel and traitor; and this his enmity he must repent of, be heartily sorry for, must be really willing and desirous of peace and recon­ciliation with God, must abhor himself for his former enmity, and resolve (through the Grace of God) that he will stand no longer in [Page 182] opposition to God, but must come with an humble, broken, melted heart to God, beg­ging pardon for what is by-past, and delibe­rately resolving and promising new and faith­ful obedience for time to come; and this he must do from a sense of the sinful and cursed nature of sin. And upon this Repentance it is that Christ comes in, and is willing to be a Mediator between God and man. And therefore it thou wouldest open to Christ a­right, set thy self seriously to the work of Repentance, perform that work throughly, let no known sin, or sin that thou canst possibly discover in thy self, pass unrepented of. Go therefore into secret, examine thine own heart, what sins thou canst finde lodged there, medi­tate upon them, with all the aggravating cir­cumstances of them, and dwell so long upon the thoughts of them, till such time as thou hast brought thine heart to an utter loathing and abhorrence of them, and of thy self for committing of them, and allowing thy self in them; and till thou comest to judge and con­demn thy self as worthy of eternal damnation, for hearkening to the temptation of them. And then let God hear thee bemoan thy self, and complaining of thine own folly and wic­kedness, and what a sad and wretched condi­tion thou hast brought thy self into by thy sins: [Page 183] and beg help of God to turn thee, and bring thee unto Jesus Christ, and bestow him upon thee; and when this is done sincerely and faith­fully, thou shalt finde Christ ready to come in unto thy soul. See this exemplified in Ephraims repentance, Jer. 31.18, 19, 20. Surely I have heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bubock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God. After I was turned, I repented; after I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh, I was ashamed, yea even con­founded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear Son? Is he a pleasant Child? For ever since I spake against him, I earnestly remember him still: therefore I will surely have mercy upon him saith the Lord. Ephraim by repentance opened his heart to God, and then Gods heart was open towards him, and Gods bowels yearn towards him. Thus do thou humble thy self to God, and in due time he will exalt thee. Open thine heart by Repentance, and thou wilt be fit for the reception of Jesus Christ.

4. Sometimes the heart may be shut against Christ by decay or want of Love. It is want of due love and respect to Christ, that is the cause why he is shut out of the Soul: did we love Christ more, we should more readily open [Page 184] unto Christ; and did we more really and fer­vently love him, we should have more of his company. If Love be wanting, Christ cares not to come in that Soul; neither indeed will there be convenient room for Christ in that Soul. If thy love to Christ be cold, thy heart will be shut against him: for the Heart is naturally contracted and shut where love is wanting: and it is the very nature of Love to open, expand, or enlarge the Heart to­wards the object beloved. If therefore thou wouldest have Christ to come into thy Soul, set Love to work. Love will make Christ precious and desirable to thy Soul, and there­upon set thee a longing for Christ when he is absent. Love will enlarge thy desire, and make thee impatient of his absence, and spur thee on to a more diligent seeking of him. Love will bid Christ welcome at his coming, and therefore will endeavour not onely to re­move whatever may be offensive and distaste­ful to him, but to have all things in a readiness and preparedness for his entertainment. Nay, Love makes the Soul to think no time lost in his company, nor any cost too great for his entertainment. And therefore if Love have been cold or wanting towards Christ, let it be so no more; but labour to get and maintain more fervent love to Christ, and this will be [Page 185] the ready way to have his company: For Love will make thee to hunger after Christ; and he hath promised to satisfie the hungry soul. We read Rev. 2. that God threatens Ephesus, that he will depart, and remove his Golden Candlestick from the midst of her, because of her decay in her Love towards him: she had lost her first love. And well he might; for the less she loved him, the more was her Heart contracted and shut against him; and there­fore little room could he have in her Heart, and consequently little heart to stay there. Take heed therefore of suffering thy love to Christ to decay, if thou hast any minde of his company: but get thine heart filled with love to Christ, and then the door of thine Heart will be open to him, and he may have ready and welcome entertainment when he comes.

5. The door of the Heart may be shut a­gainst Christ by negligence and sloth. Now there is a two-fold negligence which Christians are subject unto. 1. A negligence or slug­gishness in their work. Or 2. in their Watch: by the means of both which Jesus Christ may be shut out of the Heart.

1. Jesus Christ may be shut out by our neg­ligence and sluggishness in our work. Sloth­ful working and labouring in our spiritual calling, doth but keep Christ out of the Soul. [Page 186] When a man prays after a sluggish and sloth­ful manner, he doth in effect say, that he mat­ters not Christ's company; and therefore he cannot expect to finde him. For Christ will be found of those that diligently seek him. A slothful man will scarcely be willing to wait in the way of duty till Christ come; but, like the Spouse in the Text, will have laid aside his work, and be gone to bed when Christ calls, and too lazy too to arise to open to him. Some persons indeed are impatient of Christ's delays, because of their earnest desire of his company, they are sick of love: to these Christ will come, and will not tarry. Others are im­patient under delays, because they are weary of duty, love not to tug, and toil, and sweat in duty too long, but would have Christ come that their work might be over; and if he come not in their time, they leave off their work: these do shut out Christ. Wouldest thou therefore have thy heart open to Christ, be not slothful or sluggish in duty, but be diligent, painful, and industrious in thy spiritual work. Be diligent in mortifying sin, in quickning grace, in discharging duties, and those of all sorts: that so when Christ comes, he may finde thee so doing, busily employed in thy Lords work; and then will he say to thee, Well done good and faithful servant.

[Page 187]2. Jesus Christ may be shut out by our neg­ligence and sluggishness in our watch. The Spouse here had laid aside her watch, was com­posing her self for rest, and now Christ at his coming found her door shut. When Sinners grow lazy, and let fall their watch, they are in a fitter posture for Satan to finde them than Christ: For Satan goes about like a roaring Lion, seeking whom he may devour: and therefore his fittest opportunity is when he can finde them napping and secure. But Christ comes as a friend, and therefore would finde us watching: he comes as a Master, and therefore expects us to be ready to open to him.

If therefore thou wouldest have thine heart open to Christ, keep a constant watch over thy self: watch and pray, that thou enter not into temptation: Watch against the treachery, deceitfulness, and desperate wickedness of thine own heart. Watch against the insinua­tions of an enticing alluring world. Watch against the motions and suggestions of a mali­cious and subtile Devil. Watch thy corrup­tions, that they prevail not in thee. Watch thy graces, that they neither decay nor be idle. Watch thy Faith, that that may be ready to apprehend and embrace Christ at his coming. And watch thy Patience, that that wear not out, but endure to the end. And watch thy [Page 188] Love, that by the decays and coolings of that, thy Heart be not contracted and shut against Christ. Keep up an universal, constant, and faithful watch, if thou wouldest have the door of thine Heart open when Christ comes. Blessed is he whom his Lord when he comes shall find upon his Watch-tower, ready to open to him.

Thus have I shewed in what respects the Heart may be shut against Christ, and conse­quently, by directing you to the removal of them, and the exercise of the contrary grace, have instructed you how to get and keep the Heart open for Christ. To all which, I onely adde this one thing more.

Wouldest thou have thine Heart open and in a readiness to entertain Jesus Christ at his coming? then live always in expectation of his coming, look for his coming: when the Servant thinks with himself, My Lord delays his coming, he will not come yet; he grows idle and careless, and neglects both his work and his watch: But if we would but thus judge, Our Lord and Master will come, and I know not at what hour of the day, or watch of the night; this would be a means to make us always to keep our Hearts open, and in a rea­diness to receive Jesus Christ at his coming: whereas the want of this makes us suffer our Faith to decay, our Love to cool, and our Hearts to be shut and contracted against Christ at his coming.

[Page 189]And these are the the Directions which I in­tended to speak to, with respect unto our hearts.

2. I have some directions to give thee with reference to Christ, and the several ways of his coming into the Soul.

1. Wouldest thou have thy heart open to Christ aright, then open thine heart to the knowledge of Christ. The directions which here I give, is the advice and councel of Christ himself, called by the name of Wisdom, Prov. 1.20, 21, 22, 23. Wisdom cryeth without, she ut­tereth her voice in the streets — How long ye sim­ple ones, will ye love simplicity? — and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: be­hold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, and will make known my words unto you. The want of the right knowledge of Christ, is the great rea­son or ground why the heart is kept so close shut against Christ. You know, that one way of opening to Christ (which I told you of) was by faith, rolling and recumbing up­on Christ; and the Psalmist tells us, They that know his Name, will put their trust in him, Psal. 9.10. and the reason rendered is, because by knowing him they come to understand his truth and faithfulness, that he never forsakes them that diligently seek him. I [...] is our igno­rance of the excellency, all-sufficiency, and [Page 190] suitableness of Christ to our insufficiency and emptiness, that makes our love to Christ so very cold. For the proper object of Love is some suitable, desireable good thing. Were we better acquainted then with that fulness that is in Christ, we should more fully and freely open our hearts to Christ. Did we but see his loveliness in every respect, the loveli­ness of his person, the loveliness of his dispo­sition and qualifications, the loveliness of his works and undertakings, and his suitableness every way to our condition, we should from the inward sense of love in our own souls, cry out with the Spouse, He is altogether lovely. Nay, our love towards him, and de­sire after him, would be so fervent, that we should say with the Spouse, Tell him that I am sick of love. If therefore thou wouldest have thine heart more open to Christ, study Christ better; for he hath said, he will exalt, or set on high such as know his Name, and set their love upon him, Psal. 91.14. And how can he more highly advance thee, than by ho­nouring thee with his company? Our igno­rance of Christ makes us that we do not under­stand his voice when he calls, and therefore we give no heed to his calls.

2. Open thine heart to the commands of Christ; search the Scriptures, to know what [Page 191] it is that he requires of thee: and as he teaches thee by his Word and Spirit, let thine heart be open to attend thereunto, as the heart of Lydia was, who attended to the things that were spoken by Paul. Yea, let thine heart burn within thee, while he is talking with thee, as the hearts of the Disciples going to Emaus did, while Christ talked with them. Attend diligently to the Ordinances of Christ, and come with the everlasting doors of thine heart open, ready prepared to receive whatsoever divine truth God shall make known unto thee, and resol­ving to practise what truths thou shalt re­ceive; let thine heart be ready to say, when thou comest to every Ordinance, as Samuel did, Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth; or as Paul, Lord, what wouldest thou have me to do? Or as the people to Moses, (but with a better heart, and more stedfast resolution) All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient. Open thine heart to the com­mands of Christ, and let none of his commands be grievous; but say with David, O how love I thy Law! it is my meditation day and night. Remember that Christ is thy Lord and Hus­band; it is his work to command thee, and it is thy duty in all things to obey, and therefore take his yoke upon thee — for his yoke is easie, and his burden light; and, in keeping his com­mands there is great reward.

[Page 192]3. Open thine heart to the counsels and ad­vice of Christ: thou maist assure thy self, that Christ will advise thee to nothing but for thy good. See what counsel Christ gives to the Asian Churches, Rev. 2, 3. chap. his counsel was very suitable to the several states and conditions of every Church. To instance in that of Laodicea, she was a very luke-warm Church, and yet ve­ry proud, self-confident Church; she said, She was rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing; but knew not that she was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. And what was Christs counsel to her? I counsel thee to buy of me Gold tryed in the fire, that thou maist be rich, and white raiment that thou maist be cloathed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou maist see, Rev. 3.17, 18. Jesus Christ is a most faithful Friend and Physician, will certainly give very seasonable counsel and advice: he is called the wonderful Counsellor, Isai. 9.6. Open thine heart, and listen to the counsel which Christ gives to thee; he will instruct thee how to mortifie thy sins; he will teach thee how to improve Ordinan­ces, to perform Duties, to exercise thy graces; he will teach thee in all respects to order thy conversation aright, and to improve all the Dispensations of his Providence towards thee. [Page 193] Take but Christs counsel and advice, and thou canst never do amiss: for he is wise in heart, and communicative of his wisdome, never fails any that trust and seek to him for counsel and advice: Read James 1.5. If any of you want wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives to all men liberally, and upbraideth no man, and it shall be given to him. But know this, that Christ cannot endure to have his counsel slight­ed; to do this would highly displease him. Read Prov. 1.24 &c. I called [...] but ye would have none of my counsels Therefore I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear comes — The [...] shall they call, but I will not answer — for that they hated know­ledge — they would none of my counsels— Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. If thou wilt not open to Christ's counsels, thou mayest follow thine own devices, and see what will be the end of it, Psal. 81.11, 12. write out the Text.

4. Open thine Heart to the rebukes and chastisements of Christ. Be not too wise in thine own conceit, as to think that Christ can finde no fault with thee: But as David speaks concerning the Righteous, so do thou from thy very heart say, Let the Righteous, Christ, smite me, it shall be a kindness; let him reprove me, [Page 194] it shall be an excellent oyl, which shall not break my head. Though thou knowest before hand that he will finde fault with thee at his com­ing, yet be never the more afraid to let him in, nor be thou weary of his rebukes. It is un­pleasant discourse (many times) when our Friends rip up our faults, and tell us of them; but it is really our fault so to account it: for it is the real part of a Friend to reprove us, and not to suffer sin upon our souls. However it may be unpleasant, yet it is both necessary and safe. It argues a more than ordinary love of Christ towards thee, if he deal thus faithfully with thee: for whom he loves he rebukes and cha­stens, Rev. 3.19. Let thy Heart therefore be open, ready, and willing to receive and em­brace his most severe rebukes: And take it as a kindness from him that he will rebuke thee; for it is a piece of blessedness. Blessed is the man whom the Lord rebukes and chastens, and teacheth him out of his Law, Psal. 94.12. Da­vid having found the benefit of this, saith, Psal. 119.75. I know, O Lord that thy judge­ments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. And v. 71. It is good for me that I have been affl [...]cted, &c. And the Apo­stle tells us, that though no affliction be for the present joyous but greivous, yet afterwards it works the peaceable fruits of Righteousness in [Page 195] them that are exercised thereby. Heb. 12.11. open therefore thy Heart to the rebukes of Christ, and willingly receive them.

5. Open to the comforts of Christ. We read that when Christ came to his Disciples when they were met together, his first saluta­tion which he gave them was, Peace be unto you, Luke 24.36. And truely where Christ comes into the Soul, he brings true inward spiritual peace along with him, and freely be­stows it upon his Spouse. But yet, such is the proneness of our natures to unbelief, that we many times refuse the comforts which Christ brings, and do not apply them to our selves. Sinners indeed do many times snatch presumptuously at these comforts, which do not of right belong unto them; nor indeed are they offered by Christ to them. But the People of God sometimes, through a foolish and sinful modesty refuse, or at least are a­fraid to take and apply those comforts which Christ at his coming brings with him; inso­much that Christ is forced to invite, and en­treat them to accept of them, as his free gifts which he is really willing and desirous to be­stow upon them. This is really a fault in pe [...]i­tent sinners; for Christs real d [...]signe in com­ing, is to give that which may be the surest and best ground of everlasting peace and comfort [Page 196] to the Soul. If he convince of and reprove for sin, and thereby cause sorrow and sadness in the Soul, this searching is but in order to the healing of their wound, that they may af­terwards have more solid peace and comfort. If he frown, it is but to make his smiles the more pleasant, and make us to prize them the more. If he call us to, and put us upon more difficult, and (to the flesh) unpleasant work, it is but that thereby he may honour us the more, and his comfortable presence shall be with us in it. If he cast us down for a time, he will be careful that we be not overwhelmed with too much sorrow, and will in due time lift us up; refuse not therefore his comforts which are the designe of all his carriage to­wards thee whatever Christ doth, and how­ever he may seem to carry towards thee; the ultimate end of all is to do thee good, and comfort thee; and therefore hath promised, Rom. 8.28. That all things shall work together for good to them that love God.

6. Open to the love of Christ. I did per­swade you before to open and enlarge your Hearts in love towards Christ. But now I ad­vise you to open your hearts to receive his love. When Christ comes and manifests real tokens and demonstrations of his distinguishing ever­lasting love, do not you despise or reject these. [Page 197] It is an hard matter to convince and perswade some Christians that Christ loves them, or at least that his love is real and distinguishing, such as he bears to his own children or Spouse. They will easily grant that they love him, but cannot so easily believe that he loves them. But I would ask such a Soul this question: How camest thou thus to love Christ? If thy love be real, it is onely a reflex beam of Christ his love to thee; he must necessarily love thee before thou canst love him: For certainly there was a time when thou didst hate, as all unrege­nerate persons do; and who made thee then to differ either from others, or from what thou thy self once was? It can be nothing else but his love shed abroad in thy Heart. This is the argument pleaded, Ezek. 16.1. to the 15 v. Love is an affection not to be forced, but to be drawn, as is intimated, Cant. 8.7. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. And it must be drawn by the discovery of some suitable and desirable excellency in the object beloved, that may answer the need or desire of the Soul that loveth. The Soul finding it self empty or void of something that might tend to the compleating of its happiness (for hap­piness consists in the fulness of the Soul when it wants nothing; while it wants any thing it is [Page 198] not compleatly happy) upon this discovery of emptiness in it self, seeks out where such a thing may be had; and finding Jesus Christ to be that all sufficient object which may every way answer the need and emptiness of the Soul, loves him, with a love of desire and ear­nest longing after him, as the onely person, the enjoyment of whom can make her abso­lutely and perfectly happy. And so far as she can enjoy him, so far she is delighted and sa­tisfied with him. This is the true notion of love, and if thy love to Christ be right, it is such a love as this.

If th [...]refore upon the discovery of Christs excellency and perfection, answerable to thine indigence and emptiness, thy soul doth truely love Christ. I would gladly know, who dis­covered to thee this perfection and suitable­ness in Christ? (who is so generally d [...]spised in the world). And who drew out thy heart in love to Christ, upon this account? Surely it must, it can be none but Christ, and if he thus with loving kindness have drawn thee, certain­ly it is because He hath loved thee with an ever­lasting love, Jer. 31.3. Thou hast less reason therefore to question the real love of Christ to thee, than to question the reality of thy love to him: Open therefore thy heart freely to the love of Christ, and instead of questioning [Page 199] the reality of Christs love to thee, rather study how thou maist by returns of love and thank­ful obedience answer so great love as he hath manifested towards thee. Study to improve and highly prize his love; for he first loved thee, or else thou couldest not have loved him at all.

7. And lastly, Open to the company and presence of Christ; If Christ come to thy door, and would come in and afford thee his company, in any Ordinance, or by any Pro­vidence, whether in publick, private, or se­cret: Open to him, let him in, let him have thy company, let him see all the parts of thine heart, hide nothing from him, deal as Heze­kiah did with the Babylonish Embassadors, shewed them all that was in his house, hid nothing from them; So deal thou by Christ: fully unbossome thy self to him, improve thy time with him, and interest in him to the best advantage, reveal to him thy secrets, confess to him thy sins, acquaint him with thy wants seek counsel and advice from him in all thy difficulties, strength in all thy weak­nesses, support under all thy burdens, victory in all thy temptations, comfort in all thine adversities, a sanctified use or and a seasonable deliverance out of all thy troubles. Beg to be guided by his counsel here, the continuance [Page 200] of his presence with thee alwaies even to [...] end, and thy safe reception and conduct u [...] glory. And if thou thus open to Christ, e [...] nestly desiring and being freely willing that [...] should work all thy works in thee and for thee, he will come in unto thee, and will sup with thee, and thou with him. Will feast thee with his Graces here, and will crown all thy grace with Glory hereafter.


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