THE Day of Grace, In which the Chief of SINNERS MAY BE Turn'd and healed.

By Nathanael Vincent.

2 Cor. 6. 2. Behold, now is the accepted time; Behold, now is the day of salvation.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Golden Bible on London-Bridge, next the Gate. 1669.

To the Reader.

'TIs not at all improper to add a Treatise of the Day of Grace, to a Discourse con­cerning Conversion. This is the only time wherein he that turns will be accepted: Oh therefore receive not the Grace of God in vain. Though the sinner by his iniquity is removed far away from God, the Gulph not­withstanding is not yet fixed. We are cast out by Nature in a far Coun­try indeed, but this Country is not Hell, though just upon the borders of Hell: a return is possible unto our Fathers house; and upon our return how joyfully shall we be embraced!

One principal reason why Time is so exceeding precious, is, because it contains the Day of Grace. This pre­sent [Page] time, though so very short, is of greater value then an whole Eternity hereafter; for then mercy will be out of reach, and Reprobates unalte­rably concluded in sin, and under the heavy load of divine vengeance and indignation. This is the Day of thy gracious visitation: Waste it not a­way in doing nothing, or which is worse, in doing wickedly; for there is another day a coming, which will be a day of darkness and of gloomi­ness, a day of distress and destructi­on, if Grace and Salvation be neg­lected.

N. V.

The Day of Grace.

Luke 19. 41, 42.And when he was come near, he be­held the City, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

THe time was now approaching in which our Lord was to make his Soul an offering for sin, and to testifie his love to his Sheep, by laying down his life, to redeem theirs from death, which by going astray they had deser­ved. And Jerusalem is appointed the [Page 2] Stage, on which Christ was to act the greatest part, both of sorrow and affe­ction. Well might he cry out, Behold ye that pass by; Was ever Grief, and Was ever Love like Mine? Unto Jerusalem he comes most willingly, though he soresaw the Cross and shame. The Head was for­ward to suffer himself, that hereby the sufferings of the Members might be pre­vented. And according as it was foretold by the Prophet, his approach is not with outward pomp and splendour; but he is meek and lowly, riding upon an Asses Foal. Thus he that thought it not rob­bery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and humbled himself to this end, that we might be raised and ex­alted.

When he was just at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoyce, and to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works which they had seen, v. 37. They cry Hosanna to the Son of David, and bless the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, saying, Peace in heaven and glory in the highest, v. 38. Even through [Page 3] the darkest cloud of Christs Humiliation, some beams and rayes of this Sun of Righteousness, of this Lord of glory, did break forth. The Pharisees are offended at the Disciples acclamations, and desire Jesus to rebuke them, v. 39. Unto which unreasonable request of theirs he makes this reply, That if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out, v. 40. As if he had said, My Person, my Doctrine, my Actions, my Wonders are so evident, that they who are not as stupid as the stoues themselves must needs be convinced.

At last he comes within view of Je­rusalem, and the sight of this faithless, ungrateful and obstinate City, where so many Prophets had been kill'd, and which now it self was so near to deso­lation, raises a sorrow in his sacred breast, so that in the midst of his Disci­ples triumph he bursts out into tears, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which be­long to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

Which words express how our Lord [Page 4] was affected towards Jerusalems Inha­bitants. His commiseration is very great, and 'tis joyned with a kind of exprobra­tion or upbraiding of them: he pitties their sad estate, and upbraids their igno­rance, and folly, in not minding the things which would have conduced to their peace and welfare.

The text may be thus divided.

  • 1. Our Saviour mourns: When he came near, he beheld, and wept.
  • 2. The persons over whom: The Ci­ty of Jerusalem.
  • 3. The causes why, and they are these,

1. They know not, no not they who had so much means of knowledge, the things that belonged to their peace.

2. They improved not, but neglected Their day of visitation.

3. This neglect and ignorance of theirs being wilful, was punished with a greater degree of blindness, Now they are hid from thine [...]yes, and that was a judg­ment most deplorable.

Beloved, I am to speak-of the Day of Grade I wish you may all know the things [Page 5] which concern your peace, else Jerusa­lems punishment may be also yours; the day may be gone, the lights of the San­ctuary may be put out, and the things of your peace may be hid from your eyes.

I shall illustrate the words of the Text by this ensuing Commentary upon them.

And when he was come near, he beheld the City. The nearness of a miserable ob­ject does affect the sight and heart. And as with his eyes he saw the City, so by the eyes of Prophesie he saw the City besieged, the enemy casting a trench a­bout it, and keeping it in on every side; he foresaw how it would be laid even with the ground by Roman Armies, and not so much as one stone left upon ano­ther.

And he wept over it. These tears shew­ed the truth of his humane nature, and how (iniquity excepted) he was in all things made like unto his brethren. Our Lord could hunger, and groan, and weep, and dye, but sin indeed he could not, Heb. 4. 15. It was the desire of Christ to execute th [...] office which his Father had [Page 6] put him in, which was to be a Gatherer and a Saviour of the lost Sheep of the house of Israel: But when he perceived those Sheep transformed into Wolves, ready to devour their own Shepherd, pe­remptorily resolved to perish, and to re­fuse the salvation which he brought them, 'tis no wonder if he did not hold his tears.

Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou. There is a mixture of grief and indigna­tion in Christ, at the ignorance and per­versness of miserable Jerusalem; and this made his speech to be abrupt and imperfect. Calvin translates [...], O si cognovisses! Our Lord wishes that they had known what so highly and nearly concerned them. But 'tis plainly implied that they knew not: and this is that of which the Prophet long ago complained, Isa. 1. 3. The Ox knows his owner, and the Ass his Masters crib, but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider. [...], eve [...] thou; this is very emphatical. As if Christ should have said, O thou Jerusalem, who hast enjoy­ed so many means and mercies, and hast [Page 7] slighted and abused them all, notwith­standing all former folly and unkindness to God, to thy self, I wish that even thou, wouldst at last have open'd thy eyes and ears, and become wise unto thy own sal­vation.

At least in this thy day. That was a day of special visitation. God who at sundry times and in divers man­ners spake in time past unto the Fa­thers by the Prophets, in that day spake unto them by his Son. And al­though many Messengers and Servant [...] which were sent, had been despised and persecuted to the death by them, yet at least the Son should have been reveren­ced. This was their day, a time in which they might have been accepted, a day in wch salvation was brought near to them.

The things which belong unto thy peace! Peace (according to the Hebrew phrase) does imply all the parts of happ [...]ness, the principal whereof does certainly lie in being reconciled to, and enjoying God. But the way of peace and reconciliation, namely, Justification by faith in Jesus, they knew not. An humbled Messiah, [Page 8] who was to make mens peace by the bloud of his cross, Col. 1. 20. they hid their fa­ces from, and esteemed him not: Being puffed up with their own righteousness and external priviledges and preroga­tives, they would not submit unto the righteousness of faith which is revealed in the Gospel.

But now they are hid from thy eyes. Christ here sets forth the spiritual judg­ment which they lay under, and likewise removes the scandal and offence which his infirm Disciples might be apt to take, because Jerusalem did reject him. They had long refused to look unto the Lord, that they might be saved; and now God sends them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, and hearts that they should never understand. This is a very sore and yet usual punishment, when men receive the grace of God in vain, and are resolved to walk contrary to the light which shines about them.

The Text does yield several points of Doctrine.

First, Jesus Christ is exceeding full of [Page 9] pity and compassion. His weeping here over Jerusalem, shews how kindly affe­ctioned he was towards them, and is to­wards others in misery.

Secondly, The Lord does grant unto sinners a day of grace, in which pardon and life are proffer'd to them, and may be ob­tained by them. If thou hadst known in this thy day.

Thirdly, To know in this day of grace the things which belong to our peace, is our great happiness and wisdom. If Jerusalem had been so wise, her ruine would have been prevented.

Fourthly, When sinners will not see, they are smitten many times with spiri­tual blindness, and the things of their peace are in a way of judgment hid from them.

Fifthly, Souls being thus left under darkness, their state is wretched and deplo­rable. Our Lord with tears laments this sad condition of Jerusalem.

Doct. 1. The first Doctrine is this, That Jesus Christ is exceeding full of pity and compassion. The tears which he shed prove this; and if tears will not satis­fie, [Page 10] a little after you may behold him shedding of his blood.

This compassion of Christ extends it self to them that perish, as well as unto those he saves.

To them that perish his compassion is seen in four things.

1. In causing the Light whereby he is discovered to shine upon them. 'Tis a mer­cy that the lost are told of a Saviour, that they are informed how sin hath caused their misery, and Christ is sufficient to cure it. Nay herein [...]. Tender mercy appears, that the Day-spring from on high does visit them that sit in darkness, which can guide their feet into the way of peace, Luke 1. 78, 79. They need not say, Who shall ascend into hea­ven, to understand the means of fallen mans recovery? The word is nigh, which can give a sufficient information. 'Twas the great advantage of the Jews, that to them were committed the Oracles of God, Rom. 3. 1, 2. But now those Oracles are pronounced more fully and plainly; and to enjoy them is the priviledge of such, as in a Land of light have their lot given [Page 11] them. It was great mercy towards Ca­pernaum, that she was lifted up to Hea­ven, that such words were spoken, that such works were done in her; and be­cause she improved not the mercy, how does our Lord upbraid her?

2. Christs compassion towards them that perish is seen, in calling and inviting them to come to him: The Marriage-feast is prepared, and the servants are sent into the high-wayes, to invite all to come, and partake of it, Matth. 22. Wisdom cryeth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she cryeth in the chief places of concourse; How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? and scorners delight in scorning, and fools hate knowledge? turn ye at my reproof, &c. Prov. 1. 20, 21, 22. And Prov. 9. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. we read, Wisdom hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine, and furnished her table, she hath sent forth her maidens, she cryeth upon the highest places of the City; Whoso is simple let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith unto him, come eat of my bread, and drink of my wine which I have mingled; forsake [Page 12] the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding. Thus sinners are called after, and though dogs, yet the same bread which is prepared for the children is proffer'd to them; the same inestimable benefits of Christ, as pardon, peace, grace, glory, are tendred to them, which belie­vers have accepted of; with the same eye-salve their eyes shall be annointed; with the same tried gold they shall be enriched; with the same white rayment all their nakedness shall be covered, if they will but come and close with Je­sus.

3. Christs compassion towards them that perish is seen, in waiting long that he may be gracious; he knocks at the door, and he stands knocking there, Rev. 3 20. He stands till his head is filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. He sees how Satan hath admission at his pleasure, and unto Mammon at first ap­proach the door is set wide open to re­ceive him, but against Christ 'tis lock'd and bolted; and yet his love and pati­ence overcomes these indignities, and he waits still to see, if at last sinners will [Page 13] consult their own good, and entertain him. Christ by his Spirit strives long, checking them from sin, moving them to duty, demonstrating the reasonableness of conversion and obedience, the danger of continuance in their provocations. Christ does not go away at the first re­pulse, nor curse the Fig-tree for the first years unfruitfulness, but he digs about it and dungs it, and expects a great while, before that sentence be pronoun­ced, Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?

4. Christs compassion towards them that perish, is seen, in wishing, when for their obstinacy they are given over to them­selves, that they would have hearkened and [...]beyed. Thus he weeps and wishes, that Jerusalem had known what they were [...]gnorant of. And Israel, when for their [...]eafness unto, and refusing of God, they [...]ere given up to their own hearts lusts, [...]nd suffer'd to walk after their own [...]ounsels, the Lord wishes, O that my peo­ [...]le had hearkened unto me, and Israel had [...]alked in my wayes! Psal. 81. 11, 12, 13. Those that perish will have no reason to [...]omplain of Christ, but of themselves; [Page 14] he wanted not pitty, but to themselves they were unmerciful.

But in the second place; the compas­sion of our Lord is manifested, and that principally to them that are saved; they are called Vessels of mercy.

1. Christ receives those he saves, though they come home in rags: The beggarli­ness of the Prodigal did not hinder his Father from running to him, and embra­cing him. Their emptiness of worth doth not stir up his hatred, but his pitty. Christ hath enough, and to spare for them. Sinners should not keep off from Christ, because they cannot bring any grace of their own to commend them: He can put comeliness upon those, who by sin are never so much deformed. When we come to our Lord we are over-spread with a leprosie, (iniquity is fitly called by that name) and all our righte­ousness is as filthy rags; now what mer­cy is it, that he takes away our filthy garments, and puts upon us the robe o [...] his own righteousness, and from tha [...] worst sort of leprosie doth make u [...] clean?

[Page 15] 2. Christ makes reconciliation for the sins of those who are saved by him. And considering what wo and misery sin un­pardon'd exposes the children of men to, 'tis an act of mercy to make an atone­ment for it. Heb. 2. 17. Wherefore in all thlngs it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest, in things per­taining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. That load of guilt and wrath, which else would sink them into the lowest Hell, the Lord Jesus takes off from the Heirs of salva­tion.

3. Christ heals the wounds which their spiritual enemies have made. The good Samaritan had compassion upon the man that fell among thieves, Luke 10. Our Lord finds us in a worse case; what wounds have our lusts and Satan made in our spirits? and truly they are incu­rable by any but this Physician. When the fiery Serpents had stung the Israe­lites, they looked unto the Brazen Ser­pent, and looking, they were healed pre­sently. That Brazen Serpent typified Jesus Christ; and although Conscience [Page 16] be never so much sting, yet He can expel the poyson, and asswage the pain and an­guish, and make the Conscience first pure, and after peaceable.

4. Christ gives rest unto them that la­bour, and are heavy laden, Matth. 11. 28. Many are the burthens of believers, but he commands them to cast all their bur­thens upon him, and he promises to su­stain them. The curse of the Law is a burthen, but Christ redeems them from the curse of the Law, being himself made a curse for them, Gal. 3. 13. They groan under the dominion of sin, the bondage of corruption, but the Son of God pulls down sins dominion, and makes them free indeed. Their poverty and empti­ness causes them to sigh and complain; but Christ Jesus unlocks his unsearcha­ble riches, which are superabundantly sufficient to replenish them. And he that commands the rich in this world, to be ready to distribute, to be willing to com­municate, surely himself will in no wise be a Niggard of his spiritual Trea­sures.

5. Christ succours those he saves, in their temptation. In the hour of tempta­tion [Page 17] they very much need his pitty and aid, and they have both. Dido, in Vir­gil, spake thus to the Trojans, who were cast upon her Coasts,

Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco,

I that have endured misery my self, know how t [...] compassionate and succour the miserable. Our Lord himself, he had experience of temptations, and he will relieve those that are assaulted as he was. Hark to the Apostle, Heb. 2. 18. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he knows how to succour them that are tempted. He knows that belie­vers enemies are above their match; that sin, and the world, and the God of it would be too hard for them; therefore his own Power doth rest upon them, which brings them out of the field more then Conquerours.

The Application follows.

USE 1. If our Lord be so compassionate, here­by Faith may be marveliously encouraged. [Page 18] How safely and gladly may a Soul ven­ture it self in the hands of such an one? Those are unacquainted with his Bow­els, that entertain hard thoughts concern­ing him. Why art thou cast down, O desponding spirit? Why art thou so much disquieted? Why doest thou cre­dit the unreasonable suggestions of the Wicked one? Though he be the Father of lyes, yet a greater lye he never tells, then when he doth perswade thee, that Christ is unwilling to receive them, that see their need of him, and long after him.

1. If he weep over the obstinate, do ye think he will be hard-hearted to the peni­tent? If he stretch forth his hands all the day long to the disobedient and gain­saying, will not his Arms be open to em­brace the obedient and complying? If he goes into the far Country to seek thee, when he has inclined thy heart to come home, will he shut the door against thee?

2. Consider for the encouragement of faith, That t [...]se compassions of Christ do far transcend and exceed all human mercies. A Mothers bowels do yern, especially [Page 19] towards her sucking Infant; and yet even these are Marble compared with the bowels of Christ. Hark how Zion is reproved for her hard surmises, Isai. 49. 14, 15. But Zion hath said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath for­gotten me. Can a woman forget her suck­ing child, that she should not have compas­sion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee. How unwilling is a Mother to bring forth Children for the Murtherer? And much more unwilling is this Saviour, that any Soul, which is desirous to be san­ctified and saved, should become the De­vils prey.

3. Consider, His compassions are joyned with such a fulness, that there is nothing miserable sinners need, but out of this ful­ness they may have abundant supply. Our Lord hath power as well as pitty, why then should we not trust in him, and go to him at all times, since his power shews him so able, and his pitty proves him so willing to relieve and save?

USE II. Since Christ is so compassionate, surely 'tis unreasonable to quarrel at, and refuse to submit unto his yoak: The yoak of such a merciful one, must needs be granted an easie yoak, and his burthen a light bur­then. Matth. 11. 30. The Kingdom of Hea­ven is like unto a Marriage. And as the Wives subjection unto a tender and in­dulgent Husband is sweet and pleasant, so, and much more pleasant is the Be­lievers subjection unto Christ. Ungodly ones are strangely prejudiced against the Scepter and Government of Jesus; but indeed 'tis without cause; they say, We will not have this Lord to reign over us. 'Tis a mercy to be translated into his Kingdom, for then you are freed from other Lords, which are so imperious, so cruel, and will reward with death all the service which you do for them. All the precepts of Christ are for your profit, and he forbids you nothing, but what he sees will h [...]rm you.

Methinks at the reading of this; the most stubborn should yield and say [Page 21] We stood out against the Lord of life, but 'twas upon a mistake; we did not think his service was so near a kin to freedom; we once imagined his commands grievous, therefore we cast them behind our backs; but now we are resolved to obey no other, since they are to be esteemed above gold, nay, the finest gold, and are sweeter then the honey and the honey-comb.

USE III. Since our Lord is so merciful, let me perswade you to the imitation of him; put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mer­cies. Among the company of blessed ones, the merciful are numbred, for they shall obtain mercy, Matth. 5. 7. Your own souls, and the souls of others should be the special objects of your pitty. Let your own souls be wept over, because guilty of so much sin, and because by such prodigious defilements rendered so much unlike unto an holy God. 'Twas a say­ing of a Father, Flebam merituram Di­donem, me mortuum non flebam. I wept when I read the story of Dido about to kill her self, but my own condition, [Page 22] though quite dead in sin, I bewailed not. Look into your selves, and you may be­hold matter enough for mourning, fresh guilt and stains added to what were be­fore; here be liberal of your sorrow, where 'tis so very well deserved. The souls of others too should have a share in your compassion; Oh weep over kin­dred, neighbours, that still are ignorant, aliens, enemies, and wish, and pray, that they may know the things which belong to their peace, before they are hid from their eyes!

Thus of the first Doctrine.

Doct. 2. The second follows, That the Lord does grant unto sinners a Day of Grace, in which pardon and life are prof­fer'd to them, and may be obtained by them. If thou hadst known in this thy day. This day we read of, Heb. 3. 7, 8. Where­fore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To day, if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts. Now Gods voice is heard, and that heart is both wicked and foolish, which har­dens it self. See also 2 Cor. 6. 1, 2. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you, that ye receive not the grace of God in [Page 23] vain: for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, in the day of salvation have I succour'd thee, Behold, now is the ac­cepted time; behold, now is the day of sal­vation. Those words (I have heard thee in a time accepted, in the day of salvation have I succour'd thee) are spoken by God the Father unto Christ his Son. Christ himself had (in some sense) a Day of Grace, in which the Father was well pleased with him; in which the Sacri­fice, which he offered up once for the sins of all, was accepted; in which his strong cryes for himself, that he might be carri­ed through the difficult work of Mans Redemption, were heard; and accord­ingly he was succour'd, and enabled to work out a compleat salvation for the children of men. And hence it comes to pass, that unto them also a day of grace is granted, in which they may be accepted, and salvation is brought near them, that they may lay hold upon it.

My work in the handling of this truth will be: First, to shew upon what ac­count the Season of Grace is called a Day. Secondly, to declare what are the [Page 24] priviledges of this Day of Grace. Third­ly, to lay down the properties of it. Fourthly, I shall give some reasons why such a day is granted. And then conclude with the Application.

First, Upon what account the Season of Grace is called a Day.

1. The Season of Grace is called a Day, in regard of the light that then shines. The Sun of Righteousness is ri­sen, and this Day is made by that Suns shining. Light from the Gospel springs up unto them, which else would have sat in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, Matth. 4. 16. By this light things are discover'd which were hid from Ages and Generations. Gods eternal counsel to glorifie his Grace in the pardon, adop­tion, cleansing and saving of men that have all sinn'd, and thereby come short of his glory, is by this light made mani­fest.

The light of Nature is but weak and dim, and cannot make it day; it gives such a discovery both of God and sin, as is sufficient to leave those that sin a­gainst God without excuse, Rom. 1. 20. But the way how enemies may be re­conciled [Page 25] it cannot shew. Nay, because the first Covenant ran thus, Do this and live, the light of Nature doth strongly incline us to put a confidence in our own works, then which nothing is more con­trary to the Gospel of the Grace of God.

But though the Light of Nature be apt to lead out of the way, as well as imperfect, the Light of the Gospel is suf­ficient. All that are now in glory made use of this Guide in their passage through the world. David, Psal. 19. doth make a comparison between the Light of Na­ture, and that of the Word: From the Heavens, Firmament, Sun, and Moon, and other Creatures, something of the Glory of God may be discover'd: but then after he adds, The Law of the Lord is perfect; as if he had said, From the Word shines forth a greater light, then from the Sun, and Moon, and Stars; a light, which guides infallibly to the Light that's everlasting. And this Light is one thing, which makes the Day the text speaks of.

2. The Season of Grace is called a Day, in that it is design'd for working. [Page 26] When the day comes, though the beasts gather themselves, and lay them down in their dens, yet man arises and goes forth to his work and labour till the evening, Psal. 104. 22, 23. In like manner, this day of the Gospel; though they, who are brutish, lay them down in the bed of ease, and fall asleep in carnal security, yet such as have the understanding of men, will go forth unto their work and la­bour; and surely they who have lusts to mortifie, a world to overcome, a devil to resist, and souls to save, have work enough to do. Why stand ye here all the day idle? (sayes our Lord in the Para­ble) Matth. 20. 6. Spiritual sloth is now unseasonable and unreasonable. Now is the time, and the only time, for working; Whatever therefore our hand finds to do, we [...] should do it with our whole might. The Painter gave a good reason, why in his Piece he was so accurate, In Immorta­litatem pingo, I paint for immortality; intimating, that the picture he made, was to continue in view after he was dead and gone: So we should say, In Aeternitatem operamur, Our dayes work is for Eterni­ty, therefore we dare not trifle. The [Page 27] Church is likened unto a Vineyard, and every one should be a labourer.

3. The Season of Grace is called a Day, in regard of the brevity and shortness of its continuance; It cannot exceed the term of natural life, and how short that is experience shews, and the Scripture to affect us, doth express by several nota­ble similitudes: Sayes the Apostle, What is your life? It is even a vapour, that ap­peareth for a little while, and then vanish­eth away, Jam. 4. 14. And Job 9. 25, 26. Now my dayes are swifter then a post, they flee away, and see no good; they are passed away as the ships of desire, as the Eagle that hasteth to the prey. How fast doth the Post ride? how swiftly doth the Ship sail? what haste doth the hungry Eagle make to the prey? Such speed, O man, O woman, thou art making towards another world. The Day of Grace short­ens as thy life shortens; reflect upon the opportunities thou hast lost with grief, condemn thy folly, and be so wise as now to redeem time, by doubled care and di­ligence.

And as this Day of Grace cannot ex­ceed the bounds of life, so it may come [Page 28] to a period before. Long resisting of the Spirit, and standing out against the means of Grace, the Lord may, and often doth punish, by resolving, his Spirit shall strive no longer, and that to the working of Grace, the means shall never be made ef­fectual: The accepted time is not [...], but [...], not an Age, but a Day, and much of this day is gone already. Now as the Traveller being straitned, as to time, makes the greater speed, so should we in our Christian race; we should lay aside the clogs of the world, and the weights of sin, that we may run with the greater freedom and patience, Hebr. 12. 1.

We may observe great difference in the dayes of the year; very long they are in the midst of Summer, in compari­son with what they are in the depth of Winter. And verily such an inequality there is between the day of grace, which some have, and which others do enjoy. And what knowest thou, O secure soul, who reckonest upon a long season yet to come, but that thy day of grace may prove as it were a winters day, having not half so many hours, as to others are [Page 29] allotted! Rouze up thy self therefore, and loose no more of that time which is so exceeding short at longest, and may be so much shorter then thou imaginest.

4. The Season of Grace is called a Day, with relation to the night that is coming; and when the night is come, thy main work cannot be done, if then it be undone; and if it be undone, thou thy self art undone for ever. I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day (sayes Christ) the night cometh, when no man can work, John 9. 4. When the day of the righteous concludes, they rest from their labour, and their works follow them; and though the night of death overspreads their earthly taberna­cle, yet their spirits are made perfect, and 'tis an everlasting day of glory with them. And on the other side, when the day of the wicked comes to a period, ei­ther they are left under invincible blind­ness, and deadness, and obduration; and how can they work then, unless the works of darkness? or else death finishes both the day of life and grace together, and then 'twill be too late to think of working, for they will be bound hand [Page 30] and foot, and thrown into outer darkness. When you hear of a day of grace, with­all remember, that the night and darknes [...] are hastning; and if so, for you to delay that great business, for which this day i [...] afforded, shews the worst and most per­nicious imprudence. Let me speak to you in the words of our Lord, John 12▪ 35. Yet a little while is the light wit [...] you; walk while ye have the light, le [...] darkness come upon you; for he that walk­eth in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth▪

In the second place, I am to declare the priviledges of the Day of Grace▪ These are Priviledges of inestimable va­lue: the loss of these, and of the hopes that ever they will be again enjoyed, is one thing which makes Hell so sad [...] place. A time of trade and thriving in the world, a time of peace, and plenty, and outward prosperity, though to be pray'd for and prized, yet it is nothing near so much to be prized as the accepted time, as the day of salvation.

The priviledges of the Day of Grace are these following.

1. One is the enjoyment of the Word of God. Because of this Israel of old was [Page 31] look'd upon as priviledg'd above the whole earth besides, Psal. 147. 10, 20. He sheweth his Word unto Jacob, his Statutes and his Judgments to the children of Is­rael; he hath not dealt so with any nati­on; and as for his Judgments they have not known them. The Saints in Scripture, whose eyes were more fully open, and whose judgments were more clear, to apprehend the worth of things, what an estimate do they put upon the Word of God! What was David's judgment con­cerning it? He sayes, Psal. 119. 103. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! [...]ea, sweeter then honey to my mouth: And ver. 72. The law of thy mouth is better un­to me then thousands of gold and silver. Indeed this whole Psalm may be called a Psalm of praise, that is to say, of the Word of God; and David's judgment is not to be undervalued, who is called, a man after Gods own heart. Holy Job esteemed this Word at an high rate, when he made that profession, it was va­ [...]ued more then his necessary food, Job 23. 12. Hence comes that Wisdom, which the Topaz of Aethiopia cannot equal, and the price whereof is above Rubies.

Now in the Day of Grace this Word is vouchsafed; you both have it to search into it your selves, and you have it open­ed and applied by the ministry of the Gospel.

1. You may search into it your selves. How many thousands under Antichristi­an bondage, enjoy not this priviledge, to have the Scriptures in a known tongue? The Word is the Souls food: Cruel Pa­pists! who deny the soul bread. The Word is the Key, which unlocks the Treasures both of Grace and Glory: Cruel Papists! who take away the Key of knowledge, enter not themselves, and hinder those that would. The Word is the Souls weapon, whereby the Wicked one is is overcome: Cruel Papists! who took this weapon out of its hand, and so betrayed it into the hands of Satan. Though the command of Christ be ex­press, to search the Scriptures, Jeh. 5. 39. Though the Apostle Paul sayes, Let th [...] Word dwell in you richly, Colos. 3. 16. Though Timothy from his childhood wa [...] admitted to, and made acquainted with the Scriptures, which made him wise t [...] salvation, 2 Tim. 3. 15. Though Chry­sostom [Page 33] (with whom the other Fathers generally as to this particular, agree) doth tell us, Hom. 9. in Epist. ad Col. [...], That all evils are caused by the Scriptures ignorance: Yet unto how many, under Popery, are the Scriptures de­nied?

It was thus in this our Land not ma­ny scores of years ago, Romish dark­ness as thick here as in other places: But now the Bushel is taken off from the Lamp of the Word, all may be enlight­ned and directed by it, which foolishly shut not their eyes against it. You have the Word in your houses, in your hands; oh that it were in more heads and hearts! You may daily have recourse to this Word, for counsel, for quickning, and comfort; and if you will but give up your selves to it, that Promise shall assuredly be fulfilled, Prov. 6. 22. When thou goest it shall lead thee, when thou sleep­est it shall keep thee, when thou awakest it shall talk with thee. As the Word doth guide and guard them that entertain it, so it talks with them, it tells them of such things, as draw forth their desires, [Page 34] inflame their love, put them upon labour, and fill them with unspeakable joy.

2. You have this Word opened and ap­plied by the ministry of the Gospel. Mi­nisters are yet with you, and that's a great priviledge, for with them Christ hath promised to be alwayes to the end of the world, Matth. 28. ult. 'Tis their busi­ness to divide the Word, and to give to every one his portion. They foresee the storm, and warn the wicked to turn and fly unto a place of refuge, they encou­rage those who have true (though but weak) grace, and shew how those Pro­mises and Comforts, which they hear of, belong to them, though they are so apt to thrust them away from themselves. Ministers, they do both bind and loose, they bind the impenitent and unbeliev­ing sinner under the curse, under wrath, and he is bound in Heaven; for the sen­tence that the Gospel passes upon him, is in Heaven ratified. But if the impeni­tent soul is broken, mourns for sin, loaths it, leaves it; if the unbelieving sinner, which before rejected Christ, receives him, then Ministers have commission to loose him, whom before they bound, and [Page 35] he is loosed in Heaven; whom the Word declares justified, to be sure the God of Heaven hath acquitted. And truly Ministers bind with this design, that afterwards they may loose; they denounce threats, that, sinners being a­wakened and contrite, they may apply the Promises.

These Ambassadours of Christ, come and intreat you to be reconciled unto God, and as they inform you upon what articles he will be at peace with you, so they use many arguments to work upon your consciences and affections; they will not let you alone in your vanity, but Sabbath after Sabbath cry to you, and tell you, that when you rush into sin you rush into a battel, and 'tis against that great God, who must needs be too hard for you: Who ever fought with him, and got any thing but blows, wounds and death? Who ever hardned himself against him and prospered? Job 9. 4. They are ever commending Jesus Christ to you, and declaring how able, and how willing he is to save you, and how certain you are to be damn'd without him. And is it not a priviledge to be thus importu­ned [Page 36] for your own good? to have blessed­ness and life in a manner obtruded and forc'd upon you? Now Messengers of Peace are sent in this Day of Grace; now glad tidings are brought, that God is willing to be reconciled; but when once you come to the Region of darkness be­low, such tidings will never come to your ears more.

The greatness of this priviledge, to enjoy the Word, will further appear, if the admirable effects of the Word of God are duly considered.

1. The Word of God doth make the sim­ple wise, Psal. 119. 130. The entrance of thy words giveth light, it giveth under­standing to the simple. Those, whom Satan before befool'd, putting them off with husks instead of what is solid and satisfying, are by the Word made too wise for this subtle Serpent: Now they are undeceived, and perceive how little fruit they have had of their evil works, therefore they are ashamed of them, and of their own folly, in giving way to them. The Word discovers the pearl of price to them, and makes them wise Mer­chants, they sell all to purchase it: This [Page 37] wisdom which the Word infuses, is not of this world, nor of the Princes of this world, which come to nought, 1 Cor. 2. 6. The great ones of the earth may be prudent, in chusing and ordering the means, for the attaining of the end which they aim at, but in the choice of their end, they discover the greatest simplicity. All that greatness and glory, which they design, and themselves also, will come to nought; Death will certainly and spee­dily contract all their honour and pow­er, and cover it with those two words, Hic jacet, Here it all lies buried. But the wisdom, which the Word imparts, makes us to look higher, at a better and more enduring substance, at an inheritance which never fades away: And the Word shews, how by sanctification we may be prepared for that inheritance; and those who are made meet to be so, shall at length be made partakers of it. While the Day of Grace lasteth, thou mayst be made wise to salvation; but if this be not improved, in the greatness of thy folly thou shalt go astray, and dye without in­struction, Prov. 5. 23.

2. This Word doth raise the dead to life. That Voice, Arise ye dead and come to Jesus, must needs be powerful, since upon it follows the first Resurrecti­on; John 5. 25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. At the hearing of this Word of God, the Conscience, which was before stupid, is startled; the heart, that was all of stone, becomes a heart of flesh, it is ten­der and sensible, it feels the weight of sin and of the curse, and longs to be freed from both, though before it matter'd nei­ther. A new principle of grace is put into the Soul, whereby it is inclined to­wards God, and acts for him. The Lord is breathed after, and there is a desire to please him now, as there was formerly to please the flesh, by fulfilling the lusts of it. O dismal state to lye dead in sin! to be senseless and unconcern'd under such a load! But that's a life indeed, to be alive to God. And while this day of salvation continues, thou maist be questi­oned; but if this be lost, the second death will be thy portion, and then [Page 39] Life will be eternally farre from thee.

3. This Word doth cleanse those defile­ments, which nothing in the world can do away. The Word of God is compared to fire, and to an hammer, as an hammer it breaks the rocky heart, and then as fire it melts the heart, and from its dross doth purifie it: John 15. 3. Now are ye clean, through the Word which I have spoken to you. In the Word, as in a glass, we may behold the abominable filthiness, and vile ingratitude, that is in sin; and also the beauty of holiness is presented to our eye; no wonder then, if the former be abhorr'd, the latter desired. Besides, the Word holds forth a Promise from the Lord himself, to make the sinner clean, and that from all filthiness both of the flesh and spirit, Ezek. 36. 25. 2 Cor. 7. 1. The Day of Grace is a day of healing; now thou mayst be purged and cured of thy spiritual plagues; but if this sea­son be neglected, thou wilt dye of them.

5. This Word doth afford such peace and joy, as the creatures cannot yield. Corn, and Wine, and Oyl, cannot yield [Page 40] such true comfort. Hark to David, Psal. 119. 111. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever, for they are the re­joycing of my heart. In sensual mirth the heart is sad, misgives, and is unsatis­fied; but the Word makes the very heart joyful. In the Word, we may see at present the reconciled face of God, the frowns and other signs of anger gone, and it speaks plainly of fuller manifesta­tions, and infinitely greater pleasures, which are reserved for hereafter; and the lively hopes of these, which are so near, as well as sure and glorious, may well make the heart to leap for joy.

5. This Word is able to build up those who are converted, and to bring them safe unto their Country: 'Tis a means to in­crease the grace, which 'tis a means to work: As it is the incorruptible seed, whereby we are regenerated and begot­ten again, so it is the milk wherewith we grow and thrive in holiness. Act. 20. 32. I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. I might add, That even those whom the Word doth not [Page 41] savingly change, yet it prevails upon many times a great way, it brings them near to the Kingdom, and 'tis their own fault that they miss of it.

And seeing the Word of God hath such effects, that the enjoyment of it is a great priviledge, is without contro­versie.

2. Another priviledge of the Day of Grace, is the presence of the Spirit. The Word, and all other Ordinances, with­out the Spirit, are but like the carcass without the soul. He makes the Word quick and powerful, and sharper then a two-edged Sword, which also would be found but a dead and inefficacious letter. 'Tis observed concerning the hotter Climates, that when the Sun is up, and begins to shine, and scorch more vehe­mently, there is also a wind arises to fan and cool the dwellers there, else those Regions would be uninhabitable. In like manner, where the Sun of the Go­spel shines, there is the wind of the Spi­rit; and these his gales, how refreshing, how powerful are they? The acc [...]sses of the Spirit are much to be observed and esteemed; without his concurrence, no [Page 42] advantage will be reaped by all the means of grace we use.

If the several operations of the Spirit are consider'd, 'twill be very evident what a priviledge of the Day of Grace this is, to enjoy his presence.

1. 'Tis the work of the Spirit to con­vince. Though the secure ones of the world had rather be let alone to sleep on, and cannot endure to be jogged by conviction; yet these convictions are great mercies. What the Spirit doth convince the world of, our Lord informs us, John 16. 8. And when he is come, he will reprove or convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me, of righte­ousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged. The Spi­rit convinces men of sin; he shews the evil in it, and the danger of it, and a­mong other sins, that grand one of un­belief, that is to say, their rejecting Christ so long, and slighting and refusing the remedy he proffers, is in a special manner set home upon their hearts to their affliction and humbling. He con­vinces [Page 43] likewise of righteousness as well as of sin. He discovers the righteousness of Christ, whereby all sin may be cover­ed; and this righteousness appears to be compleat and accepted, because Christ is gone to his Father. Christ undertook by his sufferings to satisfie for our offences; and if the satisfaction had not been full, he would never have been rid of the curse, which, sin being imputed to him, was laid upon him; neither would his righteous Father have suffered him to have sit down in the Throne with him. But now since he is gone to his Father, and set down in the Throne, we may conclude, he hath paid the utmost far­thing of our debt; and through him the Father is ready to shew grace and fa­vour to us. And if the conviction and sight of sin cast down, the discovery of this righteousness may again revive. 'Tis a happiness to see our scores, since we are shew'd a way how to have them all cross'd; were it not for the sight of the one, we should never mind the other.

Again, the Spirit doth convince of Judgment. By Judgment we may un­derstand, the condemnation of the im­penitent [Page 44] and unbelieving, who, though they are convinced of sin, continue in sin; and though Christ be proffer'd, still refuse to embrace him. The Prince of this world is judged, and condemned; and shall these, who sin against a remedy (which the Devil never did) escape? No certainly, God, who spared not the An­gels which sinned, but cast them down to hell, knows how to reserve the unjust un­to the day of judgment to be punished, 2 Pet. 2 4, 9. Or else by Judgment we may understand, the Government and Kingdom of Jesus Christ. All power is given to him, and Judgment committed in­to his hand. Satan, the Prince of this world, is already cast out and overcome. And if he hath spoiled principalities and powers, certainly all his foes will be made his footstool. Well then, it highly con­cerns all to submit unto the Scepter of Christ, since else they will be dash'd in pieces by him. And in this Day of Grace, Christ is ready to pass by former rebellions, if you now will become obe­dient to him

2. 'Tis the work of the Spirit to renew. 'Tis a difficult matter to change an heart [Page 45] that is so unconceivably wicked as mans is; and yet the Spirit doth effect this change; he shews his mighty power, in causing a vehement love to be turned in­to a perfect hatred. Sin, which was lov'd better then the soul, better then salvation, the heart by the Spirit is turn'd against it, and how earnest are the cries that it may not reign, no, nor live any longer! And Holiness, against which there was a very strong, though unrea­sonable antipathy, is now hungred and thirsted after; there is a tide which runs upwards, contrary to the former stream which ran downward. The Lord hath those affections, which before sin and the world commanded. The desart is become as Sharon, and in the ruines which cor­ruption hath made, there is a Temple for the Spirit of God to dwell in. The Day of Grace is the only time to be made new creatures in. Now thy earthly heart may be made heavenly, thy impure heart cleansed, thy mind, which was vain, carnal, enmity against God, may be made serious, and to approve, and subject it self to the Law of God.

[Page 46] 3. 'Tis the work of the Spirit to guide. They who are the children of God, are lead by him, and 'tis in the way everlast­ing that he leads them; they are directed into such a path, as will certainly bring them to the everlasting enjoyment of the Eternal God. Neither doth he only guide, but strengthen; the Spirit puts might into their inner man, and makes them to hold on their way, till they come to the blessed end of it. We have all like sheep gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, Isa. 53. 6. But in this Day of Grace, the Spirit is near, to chalk out a path, in which we cannot miss of happiness, and to help us over all the stumbling blocks, and difficulties, which are cast in our way. The Spirit doth also comfort as well as strengthen: He sheds abroad the sense of the love o [...] God into the heart; and such a joy is­sues from this sense of love, that tribula­tion cannot turn into sorrow.

4. Many of them that perish, have ex­perience, while this Day of Grace conti­nues, of the Spirits workings. The Spiri [...] doth use a kind of holy violence, to hin­der them from pulling down vengeance [Page 47] upon themselves. Thus he did strive with the old world in the day of their visitation. 1 Pet. 3. 18, 19, 20. Christ was quickned by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God wait­ed in the dayes of Noah. This place is wrested, and may seem difficult, but the meaning is plainly this, That Christ was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Ghost, by which Holy Ghost, ac­companying the ministry of the ancient Patriarks, he preached unto the impeni­tent sinners of the old world, whose spi­rits are now imprisoned in hell, because [...]n their life time they were disobedient [...]o the Spirits voice, all the while the [...]ong suffering of God did wait upon [...]hem. Thus the Spirit likewise did [...]trive with the children of Israel, but [...]hey rebelled, and vexed the holy Spirit of God, Isai 63. 10. 'Tis not an unusual [...]hing, for the Spirit to enlighten and a­ [...]aken the Conscience, to clap chains and [...]etters upon corruption, for a while, that [...] breaks not forth as formerly, to con­ [...]rain unto a frequent performance of [Page 48] duty. But the Soul hankers after its beloved lusts and vanities, grows weary of the Spirits restraint, grudges the time and pains which duty takes up, and wish­es that the Spirit would go away, and accordingly the Holy Ghost departs from him. However this is true, that the Spirit works much, and would more, were he not resisted. That's the second priviledge of the Day of Grace, the pre­sence of the Spirit.

3. Another priviledge of the Day of Grace, is liberty to come to the Throne of Grace. All flesh is now invited to the Hearer of Prayers, and their prayers shall be regarded, if they no longer regard ini­quity.

1. The Lord now is near, and may b [...] found, Isai. 55. 6. His merciful nature in­clines him to come to the help of them that need it. As he is near to give the [...] that grace which they cry for, so to giv [...] them grace to cry after a right manner▪ We cannot so much as come that w [...] may be help'd, unless we are help'd t [...] come. The Lord is within hearing o [...] all that call; who ever sought him seri­ [...]usly, and sought in vain? He is so nea [...] [Page 49] as to hear our very whisper'd supplicati­ons, and to take notice of the inward groanings of our spirits, Psal. 38. 9. Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee.

But some may object, Doth not the Scripture say, that the Lord and his sal­vation are far from the wicked? and therefore wicked ones have no encourage­ment to come to him.

Well, But if the wicked man doth cry, that he may be renewed, and that his wickedness, both as to the guilt and practise, may be put far away from him, then the Lord will draw near immedi­ately.

2. God is not only in this day of grace willing to be found, but he seeks after us. John 4. 23. The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Fervent prayer is delightful musick in his ears, Cant. 2. 14. O my Dove, that art in the clefts of the rocks, in the secret places of the stairs; let me see thy coun [...]enance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. The Lord is pleased to see us gather about him, and [Page 50] to hear us cry for this, and that, and the other mercy, since his mercies are so great a multitude, that he hath enough and enough for all. Nay, the Lord him­self doth seek to us, and beseech us to be reconciled, 2 Cor. 5. 20. And if he in­treat us to accept of mercy, shall not we speed in our intreaties for the obtain­ing of it?

3. The promise which God hath made may now be pleaded. This is the time to lay hold upon his Covenant. Lord! thou hast promised to blot out iniquity as a cloud; oh when shall this cloud be scat­ter'd, that I may walk in the light of thy countenance! Thou hast promised a new heart; when shall this heart of mine be changed! when shall it burn with love to thee, and indignation against sin, which doth offend thee! Lord! Thou hast promi­sed to take away the heart of stone, and to transform the adamant into flesh; oh why am I so hard and stupid! why, since I have sinned so much, should I sorrow so little! Again, Thou hast promised to make me clean; Lord, when, oh when, will it once be! Thus may we urge the Pro­mises, and he that made them will [Page 51] give us cause to adore his faithful­ness.

The worst of men, the chief of sin­ners, may urge the promise of a new heart, and of washing from filthiness, as long as they seek unto the God of Israel to do this for them, Ezek. 36. 37. and are so far wrought upon, as to desire to be sancti­fied; the whole Covenant shall be made good to them, if their unbelief of Gods power and truth be not an hinderance.

4. Now in this Day of Grace the great High-priest stands ready to intercede for us. Never any sincerely begg'd for par­don and for grace, but Christ pray'd that Prayer over again, and a gracious return was made to it. The Spirit also is ready to help infirmities, to fill our hearts with such desires as shall be surely satisfied; and truly we have to do with a God, who of the best things, which are most needful, most desirable, is alwayes most liberal. Now are the mollia fandi tem­pora, the times to speak and speed; but when this gracious season is gone, ah then the loudest cries will be in vain; God will hear, Christ will intercede, the Spirit help no more.

4. Another priviledge of the Day of Grace is this, That now the way is open to the Kingdom. As you may come to the Throne of Grace, so 'tis possible to get in­to the Throne of Glory, Rev. 3. 21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my Throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father in his Throne. Our Lord doth stand, as it were, with a Crown of Life in his hand, and sayes, Believe in me, and continue faithful to the death, and this Crown shall be put upon your heads. The Kingdom is offered, and the sure way to the Kingdom is re­vealed. Life and Immortality are brought to light by the Gospel, that is, such a bles­sed and glorious life, as will never by death have a period; and if you cease to do evil, learn to do well, and patiently con­tinue in well-doing, this eternal life shall assuredly be given you.

The foolish Virgins had a Day o [...] Grace as well as the wise: The Bride­groom came, and the door was open; i [...] they had been ready, they might have entred; but having lost the opportunity, they knocked at last, but it was too late the door was shut, and they were sent [Page 53] away with, I know you not, Matth. 25. We read of a Ladder that reached from earth to heaven; now there is a possibili­ty of climbing up thither: But there is no Ladder that reaches from hell to hea­ven: If this present day of salvation be lost, salvation it self also will be lost for ever.

5. Another priviledge of the Day of Grace is this, That during this season the state of the wicked is not unalterable. 'Tis true, the Holy Ghost expresly sayes, that impenitent and unbelieving ones are con­demn'd already, Joh. 3. 18. Sentence of condemnation is past, but it may be re­pealed, if they at last are brought to mourn for their rejecting of a Saviour, and with their hearts believe in the Name of the only begotten Son of God; the con­sequent of this faith will be freedom from condemnation, Rom. 8. 1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not af­ter the flesh, but after the Spirit. There was condemnation heretofore to them as well as to others, but now there is none, for they are in Christ, and shew it, by re­nouncing the lusts and works of the flesh, [Page 54] and giving themselves up to the Spirits guidance.

They whom sin hath set at a great di­stance from Christ, are called to come to him; and while this Day of Grace lasts, that word holds good, I will in no wise cast out. But when this day is done, then 'twill be, I will in no wise receive. The Lamb himself then will be full of wrath, and that's dreadful. The Lamb can pa­cifie the anger of God, but who can ap­pease the Lambs anger? When the only Reconciler is himself irreconcileable; when the only Intercessour is inexora­ble; when the only Saviour punisheth with everlasting destruction, what hope of help remains then?

But as yet 'tis possible for Rebels to obtain a pardon, and to be made children. Though thou hast sinn'd thy self near to hell, yet thou hast not sinn'd thy self into hell. Though sin hath abounded, if thou art brought by the entring of the Law, to a sence how thy offences have aboun­ded, Grace will much more abound, Rom. 5. 20. The Lord hath turn'd and chang'd as bad as the worst of you, and that which hath been done may be done a­gain, [Page 55] since his hand is as mighty to save, and his Grace as free as ever.

I have done with the priviledges of this Day of Grace. In the third place follow the properties of it, which are these.

1. This Day of Grace is uncertain, as to its duration, 'tis more uncertain then the day of life, for that may end before this doth: Nay, the Day of Grace may be past, while the very means of Grace continue. The acceptable time was pass'd with the Jews, when the Prophet was sent to preach among them. Hark what a sad Commission he had, Isa. 6. 9, 10. Go make the heart of this people fat, make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed. 'Tis dreadful when the Word shall make the ear more deaf, and the Light the eye more blind, and awakening means the heart more gross and stupid.

The Sons of Eli had outstood their day, and yet after this their Father ad­monishes them, and endeavours to re­claim them. They were lascivious, and [Page 56] made themselves vile; and Eli said, 'Tis no good report I hear of you, my sons, ye make the Lords people to transgress: If one man sin against another, the Judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwith­standing they hearkened not unto the voice of their Father, because the Lord would slay them. When Drunkards, Sorcerers, Liars, Whoremongers, Worldlings, are reproved often, and will not hearken, who knows but the season of mercy may be ended, and the Lord intends to slay them, to damn them: And if at the hear­ing of this they are unconcern'd, there is greater cause to fear (though we can­not absolutely conclude) that 'tis so in­deed.

The day of grace is uncertain: the means of grace may be before you are aware removed. The golden Candlestick doth not stand so fast in any place, as that 'tis impossible it should be took away. Trem­ble at that threatning uttered to the Church of Ephesus, Rev. 2. 5. I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candle­stick out of his place, except thou repent. And although Ordinances remain, a [Page 57] blessing may be withheld from them. Thou doest not know but every call may be the last time of asking, and Christ may for ever after hold his peace; and therefore presently give consent to be espoused to him; thou dost not know, but that every motion of the Spirit may have his last striving with thee, and if thou still resistest, the Spirit may take his leave, and say, Foolish Soul, go on in sin, go on to hell, I will not strive any more to hin­der thee.

2. This Day of Grace is exceeding pre­cious: This is the very flower and cream of time. What's the reason the Psalmist begs, the Lord would teach him to num­ber his dayes aright? Psal. 90. 12. What's the reason one Apostle exhorts, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time? Eph. 5. 15, 16. and another advises, Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear, 1 Pet. 1. 17. Surely these holy men saw more in time, then most in the world are aware of; they were sensible, the present time con­tains the Day of Grace; and that eternal Glory must now be got, or lost for ever. If there were no hope at all of being re­conciled [Page 58] unto God, of obtaining mercy, and finding grace, alass our time would be of no value! But we may without prejudice to truth affirm, that time is more precious then gold; for now only Christ, who is so precious, is to be re­ceived; now only the Soul, which is so precious, is to be secured.

The Apostle calls this the accepted time, and the day of salvation: If now we come the Lord will accept us, and give his Son, himself, and freely all things to us; and Salvation, which since we are lost we so much need, shall not be denied. This Salvation is called Salvation of the Soul, Heb. 10. 39. The better part, the Jewel which the Destroyer principally aims at, and designs to make his prey, is secured. This salvation also is affirm­ed to be great, everlasting, and salvation to the uttermost. From the greatest evils the heirs of salvation are delivered, ever­lastingly delivered, and that good work which is begun in them, shall be perfected to the uttermost, and all of them shall stand in Glory, as so many Monuments of Power, and Mercy, and Grace, unto Eternity. And is not the Day of Grace [Page 59] precious, since a day of such salva­tion?

3. This Day of Grace is a Day of Pow­er, Psal. 110. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. The Arm of the Lord is now revealed, in making the re­port of the Gospel to be believed; the same power is exerted in raising a sinner to the life of faith, that was shewn in raising up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Strong holds are pull'd down, reasonings against Religion, as if it were either ab­surd, or intollerably burthensom, are si­lenced. Those lusts, which before bare all the sway, have a deadly wound, which shall not be healed again. Sins domini­on is overthrown, and the world is over­come, 'tis now under foot, which used to have its seat in the very heart. Thus be­lievers find this day a day of power. They are powerfully drawn to Jesus Christ, and as powerfully upheld and sup­ported by him.

And of this power the ungodly are not without some taste and experience. Mighty convictions and restraints for a while they have, but by degrees they grow stupid, and get loose again, and then [Page 60] fulfil their fleshly and their worldly lusts with the greater eagerness; just as wa­ter being dam'd up, when that restraint is taken away, doth run with greater strength and speed for having been re­strained.

4. This Day of Grace it is but one when this is gone, another is not to be expected. In Nature there is a vicissitude of day and night, even at midnight 'twill not be ma­ny hours before the morning and the light return, Soles occidere & redire pos­sunt; but the night which follows after the Day of Grace is everlasting. The a­bused light of the Gospel will be follow­ed with that which is called, [...], The blackness of darkness for ever. Life indeed will return again at the general resurrection, but another season of mercy will not be vouchsafed. The Day of Grace is like the Dove, which Noah sent the third time out of the Ark, when once 'tis flown away, 'twill return no more. What mean the care­less world to sport, and play, and sin away this golden season? Every moment that slips by you is irrevocable; and 'tis but a little while, and the whole stock [Page 61] will be spent of this accepted time: Oh improve some of it, at least, before it be all gone.

If after death you were certain to be sent into the world again, and to hear the joyful sound of the Gospel a­gain, and that the Lord again would try you, and wait that he might be gracious, then present carelessness were not alto­gether so much without apology. But since immediately upon your dissolution, you must go to your long, your eternal home, either of weal or wo, oh let Eternity, which is just at the door, be provided for, before this your day be ended.

Thus you have the Properties of the Day of Grace. In the fourth place I am to lay down the Reasons, why such a Day of Grace is granted. Several reasons of this may be assigned.

1. One shall be drawn from the Son's Incarnation, and taking our nature on him. Hence it comes to pass, that unto man such kindness is expressed. The Apostle sayes, Verily, he took not on him the nature of Angels, but he took on him [Page 62] the seed of Abraham, Heb. 2. 16. He was made in the likeness of men, therefore mankind is the dearer to him. There is a difference put between apostate Angels and fallen men; I speak even of those, that through their own wickedness and folly miss of salvation. The reprobate Angels never had a remedy provided, nor a Day of Grace afforded; Christ assu­med not their nature, but as soon as ever they had sinned, they fell, like lightning, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, from Heaven to Hell. But man was not thus dealt with; even those whom the Apostle calls Vessels of wrath fitted to de­struction, are yet endured with much long­suffering, Rom. 9. 22. Their salvation is in it self really possible, I say, in it self, though all things consider'd, there is an impossibility of any other event, then the destruction of sinners continuing in their rebellions; and this real possibility of salvation will make them cast the whole blame of their perdition on them­selves, that the day of salvation was trifled away, and the salvation of that day was neglected.

This matter may be made more obvi­ous [Page 63] and plain by a similitude. The Apo­stle Paul, Acts 27. admonisheth the Cen­turion, who was to conduct him to Rome, that the voyage they were about to make, would be with much damage and hurt, not only of the lading and ship, but also of their lives. Who can deny, that the tarrying in the Haven where they were, and where they might have been in safeguard, was in it self really possible? and they could not reasonably lay the blame of their shipwrack on Gods decree and determination, but up­on their own rashness. In like manner sinners are admonished, that if they go on in wickedness 'twill be to their hurt and eternal damage, not only of their lives, but also of their souls. Who can deny, that the abstaining from such and such sins is really possible? therefore Gods decree is not to be blamed (which brings no coaction upon the will of man) but mans own perversness, if he is wrack'd, and miscarries to eternity.

We read of the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appearing, Tit. 3. 4. The Son of God was manifest­ed in the flesh of man; and upon this [Page 64] score it is that light comes into the world, and shines even upon those dark souls that are unwilling to comprehend it, and salvation is proffer'd also unto them that refuse to embrace it.

2. A Day of Grace is granted, that the power of God may be known. His power is much spoken of in the Gospel, and be­lievers feel the wonderful effects of that power. We are inform'd of a twofold Creation, the first and the second, the old and the new: In the first Creation, the power of God was glorious indeed, i [...] making the world out of nothing; but here, as there was nothing to help, so there was nothing to resist this power o [...] God: But in the new Creation, in mak­ing new creatures, there is a great oppo­sition and resistance met withall, and how glorious is the power of God that overcomes it? What wonders are wrought in this day of Grace by the hand of the Lord? He not only sayes, Let there be light, where darkness is, but where dark­ness is loved: He not only sayes, Arise, to them that are dead, but to them that are unwilling to be raised. Indisposition and opposition likewise are to be found in [Page 65] sinners, when the Lord first comes to work upon them. The Bullock cannot endure the yoak, though hereby its life is lengthened; for the beast that works not is fatted immediately for the slaughter. A sinner is likened to a bullock unaccu­stomed to the yoak, Jer. 31. 18. he disco­vers a great reluctancy and unwilling­ness to yield; now in turning such an one (with whose corruption and lusts Sa­tan joyns, to hinder conversion) the power of God is the more to be admi­red.

3. A Day of Grace is granted for the manifestation of divine goodness and mercy. The Lord is said to delight in mercy, Mic. 7. 18. therefore he allows a day, in which mercy may be had, and now it is to be obtained or never. It is not small mercy that raises the sons of men out of those depths of misery into which they are fallen: Great is thy mercy towards me, saith the Psalmist; and the greatness of it is demonstrated, for thou hast redeemed my soul out of the lowest hell. And if the unworthiness of man be duly considered, the freeness of this mercy is to be admi­red, as much as the abundance of it. Mer­cy [Page 66] is free, as well as plenteous; 'tis ex­pressed not only above desert, but with­out desert, nay contrary to desert; there­fore according to that ancient Fathers phrase, 'tis Omni modo gratuita, free eve­ry way. Hence it is, that Saints have used that as an argument to obtain mercy, which o [...] would have thought should have quite discouraged them from en­tertaining any hopes of it, namely, the greatness of sin. Psal. 25. 11. For thy Name sake pardon my iniquity, for it is great; as if he had said, Lord, I know 'tis thy de­sign in this day of grace to manifest and to magnifie thy mercy; and the greatness of my sin will serve to set thy mercy higher; the richness and freeness of it will be the more wondred at, because shewn to a gross transgressour. Mercy, nay, [...], abundant mercy is expressed in justifying the ungodly, in quickening the dead, and begetting them again to a lively hope, 1 Pet. 1. 3. And this is the only season; if it be not now laid hold on, it will be clean gone for ever.

4. A Day of Grace is granted, that the Lords long-suffering and forbear­ance may be wondred at. He is an eye­witness [Page 67] of all the wickedness that is done against him; he hates all the sin he sees, and can easily take vengeance upon the committers of it; he stands not in the least need of any of them, and yet he spares them, and that a great while: Oh how great is the stock of his patience? Lord! what is man that thou doest for­bear him so long, since thou canst so easily crush him! How comes it to pass, that thou doest call after him to benefit him, since thou canst not be benefited by him! and notwithstanding many provocations art un­willing he should perish! Oh wonderful patience, that will leave the abusers of it without any the least apology; and that will be matter of everlasting marvel to those, who hereby are lead unto repen­tance!

5. A Day of Grace is granted, that the righteousness of the Lord in those se­verities, which are shew'd upon the impe­nitent and unbelieving, may be the more evident and undeniable. He will be justified when he speaks, though never so amazing a sentence be utter'd by him; he will be clear when he is judged: Sin­ners who had a day of Grace and lost it, [Page 68] an acknowledgment will be extorted from them, that they are justly punished, with the loss of endless blessedness, which they frequently heard of, and as often slighted.

When God shall thus plead with the Impenitent at his Bar; Did not I give you a day as well as others? Did not I call, and you refuse? Did not I stretch forth my hand, and you disregarded me? Did not I give you counsels, and reproofs, and you set them all at naught? And thereup­on shall bid them depart away, never to see his face more: How will all the Saints and Angels approve of the Sentence, and cry, Righteous art thou, O Lord, because thou hast thus judged! and the impeni­tent will not have one syllable to say a­gainst it.

Now I descend to the Application: And I shall begin with some Consecta­ries, that may be drawn from the Do­ctrine.

1. In this Day of Grace, to sleep is ve­ry improper. Let us not sleep, as do others, (sayes the Apostle) but let us watch, and be sober; for they that sleep sleep in the [Page 69] night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night; but let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, 1 Thes. 5. 6, 7, 8. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggish Consci­ence? when wilt thou awake? shall no­thing force thine eyes open? The ene­mies of our salvation are far from sleep­ing, they ply their business to bring a­bout our ruine, and shall not we awake for our own security? How can we watch unless we are awake? and if we are not vigilant, how certain are we to be devoured by the roaring Lion? A­wake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light; and light being given to see withall, see that thou walk circumspectly. The Sun of Righteousness is up, and shining, there­fore we should be up and doing. Sloth in this mid-day of the Gospel is unsutable as well as dangerous; the Apostle there­fore cautions against it, Heb. 6. 12. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The Lethurgy of the Conscience is a sore malady; when the sinners heart is [Page 70] ever and anon ready to drop asleep, not­withstanding all the means which are used to rouze it. But though threaten­ings, though judgments will not awaken some, that are seized upon by the spirit of slumber, yet I'll tell you what will do it, The sight of an angry sin-revenging Judge upon the Tribunal; the seeing and feeling of the torments of Hell, will awaken them that are most fast asleep in sin: What wilt thou sleep upon the pits brink? Usually sinners fear least, when because of the nearness of evil they have most reason to be afraid.

2. How much besides themselves are they, whose whole employment is the works of darkness in this day time. The Apostle exhorts us, to cast off the works of dark­ness, and to put on the armour of light, Rom. 13. 12. Light is a kind of armour, for the light making a discovery of sins deceitfulness, the heart is hereby arm'd against temptation; but because most do love their evil deeds, therefore they hate the [...]ight which doth discover and re­pr [...]ve them. Alas, that such bad work, as the service of Satan and divers lusts is, should have so many hands to it! The [Page 71] works of wickedness are rightly termed the works of darkness; the actors of them fly the light, for when they are seen they cause shame; and from God, who is light, they hinder us: allowance of these, and fellowship with him are inconsistent; moreover, unto outer darkness these works have a most certain tendency.

Now shall a Day of Grace be consu­med in sins drudgery? This was given as a day of salvation, and shall we in it work out our own condemnation? Shall it be spent in making sure of Hell, and treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath? When the Lord doth grant us a day to make our peace, shall we give this day to Satan, and do nothing, but by wicked works more alienate our selves, and make the wall of separation higher? If the season that was allotted for the obtaining of mercy be abused, only to the aggravating of sin, and augmenting of misery, this will argue you guilty of such a folly and madness, as must be con­fess'd beyond hyperbole.

3. What cause is there of thankfulness for such a Day of Grace? The Israelitish servants prized the year of Jubilee, and [Page 72] much more should we this, [...], acceptable year of the Lord. Liberty and freedom from our spiritual bondage is now offer'd, and may be ob­tain'd, if you will not let sin and Satan boar your ears, as it were; if you say not, as most do, We love these masters, and we will not leave them. The greatness of our obligation to thankfulness for this Day of Grace, will be further evident, if these things are weighed.

1. The light doth shine more clearly in this our day, then it did of old. The an­cient Jewish Church enjoyed but the dawning, or at most, the early morning of this Day of Grace, but we the noontide of it; many shadows of good things to come they had, whereby those things were obscurely represented; but we have under the Gospel the substance ex­hibited, and the shadows are flown away. Moses, the great Prophet of the Jews, had a vail upon his face, to signifie that his was a more dark dispensation; but we all, saith the Apostle, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of God, are ebanged into the same image, from glo­ry to glory, even as by the Spirit of the [Page 73] Lord, 2 Cor. 3. 18. Christ is now more fully discover'd, his sweet offices more explain'd, and his precious benefits more gloriously displayed.

2. We ought to be thankful that this our day hath so long lasted. The Lord long ago might have given us up to a re­probate mind, nay, fetter'd us in chains of darkness, because of our hating know­ledge, and holding the truth in unrighte­ousness. 'Tis a wonder, that having sin­ned so much against the light, we have not sinn'd the light away. I read, that at Joshua's request, the Sun stood still in the Firmament, and hasted not to go down for an whole day, Josh. 10. 13. And have not we had experience of the like mira­cle of Grace? Hath not the Sun of Righ­teousness stopt his course, not hasting to go down? How long hath Christ stood waiting? and still he stands proffering both light and life, and light and life shall be given to them that understand the value of such offers.

3. Especially we have cause to praise, if this Day of Grace hath been effectual, and we have been made the children of light, and of the day. Most even in this Day of [Page 74] Grace, are blinded by the God of this world; the Gospel is to them an hidden Gospel; but if the Lord, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shi­ned into our hearts, and hath called us out of darkness into his marvelloas light, sure we have abundant reason to shew forth his praises, 1 Pet. 2. 9. If he had not enligh­tened our eyes; we should have slept the deep of death as well as others. Was there not a time, when we did not see either our sin, or our extream danger? Was there not a time when we were as unsensible of the worth of souls, and of our need of Jesus, as the most careless ones? Oh wonderful love, that he hath made the difference, and distinguished us from others! that hath illuminated and converted us, when others are suf­fer'd still to run on blindfold towards ruine!

4. Since such a day of Grace is grant­ed, the special seasons of it should be im­proved: The whole is precious, but some seasons are more golden, and to be e­steemed at an higher rate.

1. The Season of Youth. This is the fittest time to sow the seed of Grace, that [Page 75] it may bring forth the fruit of life and glory. The journey towards the new Jerusalem is long, the distance which sin hath set us at from our Creatour is great, therefore to be setting forth betimes is a great part of wisdom: The Lord doth take it well, when in our youthful dayes we make choice of him. Samuel, Oba­diah, Josiah, Timothy, have a commenda­tion given them, that they knew, and loved, and feared God betimes; that they abstained from, and despised those lusts and vanities, with which youth most commonly is ensnared and defiled. The time of youth is a time of strength, vi­gour and activity; then you will either do much for God, or much against him. In the service of such a Master as the Lord is, how well will your strength be employed? Activeness will here become you. Early remembrance of God will prevent abundance of sin, which might cause bitterness many years after. Thou writest bitter things against me, sayes Job, and causest me to possess the iniquities of my youth, Job 15. 26. and it will have great influence to your stedfastness with God all your dayes.

Quo semel est imbuta, recens, servabit Testa diu. (odorem

Horat. Epist 2. ad Lollium.

The cask retains the scent of that a long time after, which was first put into it, when 'twas new. And in like manner, if youthful years are season'd with grace, the gray hairs will be found in the way of righteousness: Prov. 12. 6. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Add also, that in the time of youth sin is more ea­sily pluck'd up, because it hath not taken such deep root. Age and custom will make evil, like the spots of the Leopard, and the blackness of the Aethiopians, which no water can wash away. Augu­stine in his Confessions, l. 8. c. 5. doth make this acknowledgment, Ex voluntate per­versâ facta est libido, & dum servitur li­bidini facta est consuetudo, & dum con­suetudini non resistitur, facta est necessitas. From a perverse corrupted will flow evil desires, while evil desires are fulfilled, sin ripens into custom, while custom is not [Page 77] resisted, there follows a kind of ne­cessity and unalterableness in simming. Oh therefore withstand sin betimes, use the same policy in reference to your lusts, which the Egyptians would have used towards Israel; they feared lest the Is­raelites, when grown, might be too hard for them, therefore they endeavoured in their weak infancy to destroy them. To see young faces set towards Sion, the way thither being diligently enquired after; to behold children turn Souldiers in the spiritual warfare, fighting under Christs Ensign, making the Tempter flee from them, taking Heaven by storm and vio­lence; what a brave sight is it!

2. The Season of Health is another sea­son to be improved. Then the body is a more fit instrument to serve the soul in the Lords service. The time of sickness is most commonly a time of spending; therefore in health you should be treasu­ring up good store of Grace. Now you may attend upon the publick Ordinan­ces, you may come to Gods House, and sit down at his Table; but sickness will deprive you of such opportunities. Now you should be labouring for Grace, and [Page 78] trying your grace, that you may not be deceived with what is but counterfeit. You should be so wise, as to foresee the evil day of affliction and infirmity a com­ing, and beg beforehand for such a mea­sure of faith as may make you stand, such a measure of patience and submission, that there may not be the least repining thought against God; but whatever your trials are, that you may not faint, but acquiesce in the wisdome and grace of him, by whom you are chastized. Beg also beforehand for a sense of his Love, and when you see the rod in your Fa­thers hand, none of the stripes will be intollerable. Let health be thus im­proved: And to perswade you, consi­der, that what you do in the day of health will be more upon choice, and not upon force, and consequently your since­rity will be the more evident; whereas if you are forced to seek the Lord by his smiting of you, whether your hearts are right, may be suspected.

3. The Season of spiritual Plenty should also be with care and diligence improved. When heavenly Manna falls so thick a­bout your habitations, shall none at all [Page 79] be gathered? When so much seed is sown, shall the Fowls of the Air be suf­fered to take all away? or if you do re­ceive this seed, shall it be choaked by the world, and bring forth no fruit to perfe­ction? Let every one in this Assembly think thus with himself, How many scores of Sermons have been preached to me? how many warnings have I had? how many reproofs have been given me? how often have I been exhorted to obedience? how many prayers have I joyned in? But what fruit have I to shew of all? What grace have I gotten? what lust have I got the mastery over? Where's the faith, the love, the zeal, the holiness and humility, which might have been attained if these means of grace had been, as they ought to have been, improved?

Ordinances in abundance are now en­joyed: shall they be but prices in the hands of fools? Where the Lord gives so much, to be sure he will require the more. Oh lament your pass'd non-proficiency, and for the future let your whole heart be in every duty; be most earnestly desirous to get something from God every time you draw near to him You neglect your [Page 80] own interest, when you do his work neg­ligently. Ordinances are the pipes through which grace is conveyed to thirsty souls; there is never a duty you engage in, wherein this truth should not be considered and believed. In this duty God can give me that which is of greater worth then the whole world; and here­upon you would not in Ordinances themselves, but obtain the benefit of them.

4. The Lords day is another special Season of the Day of Grace; let it not be prophaned, but husbanded to the best ad­vantage. They who keep holy the Sab­bath day, and find the Lord owning that sanctification of his day, by sanctifying, and quickning, and refreshing their hearts upon it; as they are clearly con­vinced, so they are glad the Sabbath i [...] moral, they would not it should be other­wise. 'Tis but reasonable they should give the Lord one day in seven; and no day is so much their own, so much for their spiritual, which is the truest gain, as this which they give to him: It may not on­ly be called the Lords day, but the Souls day likewise. Worldly thoughts, and [Page 81] pleasures, and employments, which on other dayes are allowed, be now forbid­den, that the Soul with greater intension may be respected, and provision made for it. Now Gods mouth is open, he speaks to us; his ear is open, we may speak to him; and if we hear and obey his voice, he will not fail to hear and grant our requests. The priviledge of enjoying Sabbaths, one of our English Poets doth no less piously then ingeniously set [...]orth.

O day most calm, most bright,
The fruit of this, the next worlds bud;
Th' endorsment of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his bloud;
The couch of time, cares balm and bay;
The week were dark, but for thy light,
Thy torch doth shew the way.
Man had straight forward gone
To endless death; but thou dost pull,
And turn us round to look on one,
Whom, if we were not very dull,
We could not chuse but look on still;
Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.
Sabbaths the Pillars are
On which Heavens Palace arched lies;
The other dayes fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities:
They are the fruitful beds and border [...]
In Gods rich Garden; that is bare
Which parts their ranks and orders.
Thou art a day of mirth;
And where the week dayes trail [...] ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth;
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from seven to seven
Till that we both being toss'd from earth
Fly hand in hand to heaven.
Herbert. Temple, p. 66. 67, 68.

5. The feasting day is another season Grace. When we are brought into th [...] banquetting-house, and the banner over [...] is love, Cant. 2. 4. Who that Table i [...] spread, where Christ is the Feast as we [...] as the Inviter to it, there it is that belie­vers may arrive unto such a nick of com­munion with the Lord that is nearest o [...] kin to that fellowship, which perfected Spirits, which see him face to face, hav [...] with him. Oh what a rellish hath tha [...] [Page 83] flesh, which is meat indeed, that bloud, which is drink indeed! John 6. When we be­hold how Christ hath suffered the curse for us, and upon this our faith concludes, from suffering it we shall be exempted; how may our hearts rejoyce? At this Table Christs Fulness is the entertain­ment. He beholds none with a grudg­ing look, with an evil eye; the more hun­gry we are, the more welcome, and sure not to be sent away empty. Oh why will any feed on husks, and despise this bread of God, which giveth light unto the world!

Thus you see what are the special Seasons of the Day of Grace, which not to lay hold upon, is to be false to your selves, and regardless of your chief advantage.

USE. II. Of Caution. There are three evils which I must warn you to beware of. First, Presume not upon the lasting of this Day of Grace. Secondly, Don't rashly conclude the Day of Grace is pass'd. Thirdly, Take heed of being strengthned, and emboldened [Page 84] by the general practice to idle it all a­way.

1. Presume not upon the lasting of this Day of Grace, Presumption is a sin as common as unreasonable. How many thousands are now despairing in Hell, because of the vain hopes, and false con­fidences, which here on earth they enter­tained? 'Tis an ordinary delusion, for the ungodly to imagine, that either they have believed and repented already, or that there will be time enough several years hence to do it: and after they have deferred their main work long, they are apt to defer it longer: Tanquam semper victuri vivunt, Sen. They live as if they were to live alwayes, and as if the Day of Grace were not a day, but a kind of eter­nity. 'Tis a notable passage of Gregory, Hom. 12. in Evang If every one knew (sayes he) when he were to go out of this present world, then he might more rea­sonably allot this part of his time for pleasure, and that for repentance, Sed qui poenitentiae veniam spopondit, peccanti cra­stinum non promisit. But he that promise [...] pardon to them who repent of sin, hath not engaged to give another day to them [Page 85] that go on in sin. Let two things here be laid to heart.

1. Presumption is the way to make the Day of Grace altogether unavailable. Men will not seriously mind eternity, while they think they have time enough before them. Thou who reckonest up­on many Sabbaths yet to come, and up­on many Sermons yet to be heard, the present Sabbaths are lost, and the pre­sent Sermons are little heeded, less pra­ctised, and thou thy self least of all pro­fited.

2. Presumption is the way to shorten this Day of Grace, and to hasten the ever­lasting nights approach. The evil servant that said in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, is threatned, The Lord of that ser­vant will come in a day that he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, much sooner then he was aware, and cut him asunder, and appoint him his por­tion with the hypocrites, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matth. 24. 48, 49, 50, 51. The rich man in the Gospel presumed upon many years, but he had not many hours of his time remaining; God called him Fool, and said, This night [Page 86] thy soul shall be required of thee. If an earthly Master bid his servant go and work to day, and he answer, he will set about his work a week, or a moneth hence; how can the Master chuse but be provoked? he justly turns that servant out of doors, allowing him no longer time to tarry. The Lord, in like man­ner, bids the Sons of men to work to day, If they answer, Many years hence 'tis time enough; How can he chuse but be incensed, and his displeasure may cause the season of mercy to end sud­denly.

Now that I may further strike at and startle this presumption, I shall propose and answer one Case of Conscience. When have sinners cause to fear that the Day of Grace is growing towards evening, and ready to conclude with them?

To this I answer.

1. One sign that the Day of Grace is near an end, is long and unbewail'd un­fruitfulness: When they who have liv­ed under the means of Grace, are either empty Vines, or bring forth fruit unto themselves: when the Lord hath come, not three years only, but ten, twenty, [Page 87] thirty years together, seeking fruit, but hath found none; and (which is worst of all) their barrenness is not their bur­then; 'Tis to be feared, that the axe will speedily be laid to the root, that they will quickly be cut down, and be made fuel for that fire that is unquenchable. You have a notable Parable of a Vine­yard planted in a very fruitful hill, Isa. 5. 'Twas fenced, the stones were gathered out; but when grapes were expected, behold no­thing but leaves, and wild grapes, ver. 4. But upon this God resolves to take away the hedge, and his vineyard shall be eaten up, to break the wall, and it shall be trod­den down; he resolves to lay it waste, it shall not be pruned nor digged, there shall come up briars and thorns, and the clouds are commanded to rain no rain upon it, ver. 5, 6. You that have been long unfruit­ful, and this hath never troubled you, how soon may the clouds be commanded to rain no rain upon you? how soon may the influences of heaven be altoge­ther withheld from you? how soon may barrenness be your punishment, which is your sin, the Lord in judgment resolving, that never fruit shall grow upon you?

2. Another sign that the Day of Grace is near an end, is great security. The old world were thus secure, when the Lord resolved the Holy Ghost should not much longer strive with them. Great security was the forerunner of the Jews rejection. They would not believe their sins were so heinous, or that God was so much displeased with them; they would not believe the Messiah, who told them of their maladies, and proffer'd to cure them. And the Apostle tells us, because of unbelief they were broken off, Rom. 11. 20. And such security will go before the end of the world, when the Day of Grace shall conclude with all, and when time it self shall be no longer: How far are se­cure souls from being in a secure state? When they cry peace and safety, how sud­denly may trouble and destruction come up­on them, which they shall not escape? 1 Thes. 5. 3.

3. Another sign that the Day of Grace is near an end, is unlamented indif­ferency, whether or no it do continue. If you are of an indifferent spirit, whether you enjoy the light, or it be put out in obscurity; whether you hear the pub­lishers [Page 89] of glad tidings, or whether their mouths be stopp'd; there is reason to be afraid the Lord is about to divest you of those priviledges, which you know not how to value. If you look upon spi­ritual darkness, as no plague, which is in­finitely worse then that of Egypt; if you esteem the famine of the Word (which is worse then a famine of bread, or a thirst of water, Amos 8. 11.) no such great judgment, as long as from temporal judgments you are exempted, this is a most wretched temper of soul; and the Lord must needs be angry, when the greatest mercies and favours are slighted; and what punishment more probable or equal then to be deprived of them?

4. Another sign that the Day of Grace is near an end, is contradicting and persecuting of the Lords Messengers. We read, Matth. 22. of a Marriage feast pre­pared, servants are sent forth to invite many to the Marriage; some, who were invited, took those servants and intreat­them spightfully. Could the King, which made this Supper bear this? No, he was wrath, and did destroy these per­secutors, [Page 90] and none of them were per­mitted to partake of those good things he had provided, and once proffer'd to them. That is a dreadful text, 2 Chron. 36. 16. But they mocked the Messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his Prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, and there was no remedy. The Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached the Gospel, the multitude flock to hear them; when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against the Apostles doctrine; but the Apostles seeing them reject 'the Gospel, and them, in such a way, make this reply, It was needful that the Word of God should be first spoken unto you, but since you put it from you, you shall not be troubled with it, lo, we turn to the Gen­tiles, Acts 13. 45, 46. and then to the Gentiles did the light arise and shine forth, and the Jews were left under dark­ness.

Another sign the Day of Grace is near an end, if not quite ended, is obstinacy in some opinions, which are damnable. When fundamental truths are denied, when all means used to reclaim and turn the er­roneous, [Page 91] through prejudi [...]e, do but con­firm and harden them, how near to de­sperate is their case? When the Lord sends strong delusions to any, and they believe a lye, oh 'tis to be feared he in­tends their ruine, and that their judg­ment will not linger, will not flumber long: 2 Thes. 2. 11, 12. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lye, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Errour may extinguish the light of the Gospel, and cause the Ordinances of God to be slighted, the Word to be cast aside, and the Spirit to depart, and leave sinners to the seduction of Satan, and the ima­gination of their dark and foolish hearts. Let me therefore speak to you in the words of the Apostle, 2 Pet. 3. 17. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being lead away with the errour of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

6. Another fatal sign, that the Day of Grace is near its period, is an habit of back-sliding. Hark how the Lord up­braids his people with this; and after, [Page 92] they are told of their desperate state; Jer. 8. 4, 5. Thus saith the Lord, shall they fall and not arise? shall they turn away, and not return? why is this people of Jerusa­lem slidden back with a perpetual back­sliding? And then it follows, ver. 20, 21, 22 The Harvest is past, the Summer is end­ed, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am black, a­stonishment hath taken hold upon me. Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no Phy­sician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recover'd? There are many Professours, who some­times look Sion-ward, and have some common work upon them, but after do draw back, and by often doing so con­tract such a scaredness, that they make light of doing so. They do possibly un­der some awakenings confess their sins, but quickly return to the commission of them again; they are convinced 'tis their duty, and yet they will not be perswa­ded to do the work of the Lord vigo­rously, they are convinced of such and such sins, and yet they will not be dis­swaded from following after them. They may have a form of godliness, but [Page 93] they will not be brought under the pow­er of godliness, nor give their consent to be sincerely and thorowly sanctified. Divers motions and proffers of assistance they have had from the Spirit, but all in vain, they are bent upon backsliding. Surely then they have just ground to fear, that sentence is ready to be, if not already pronounced, Ezek. 24. 13. Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not pur­ged, thou shalt not be purged from thy fil­thiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.

Thus concerning the Signs when the Day of Grace is declining and drawing towards night. Presumptuous soul, if thou findest in thy self any of these signs, oh startle exceedingly at the discovery, and before the last hour of the day be ended, enter into, and labour to purpose in the Lords Vineyard.

2. A second word of Caution is this, Don't rashly conclude the Day of Grace is pass'd, and that the Sun is already set up­on you. This is an extreme contrary to that of presumptuous ones, which tempt­ed and troubled spirits are very prone to run into. They are ready to takeup Jobs [Page 94] complaint, only with some sad variations, Oh that I were as in moneths past, as in the dayes when God would have preserved me! when his candle shined upon my head, and by his light I might have been deliver'd from the power of darkness! The Almigh­ty was then with me; he call'd upon me to turn, and was ready upon my turning to hear my calling to him. But now I cry, and he doth not hear me; I stand up, and he regards me not: I have so bitterly provoked him to leave me, that I am afraid he is now gone for ever.

Three things are here to be consi­der'd.

1. No man can certainly conclude con­cerning another, that his day is pass'd. If we consult the Scripture, we shall find those that have gone far in wickedness at last reclaimed; therefore we should not despair of the worst. Indeed the pride and stubbornness of the ungodly makes us fear that all our labour will be in vain, yet we speak still, and exhort and reprove with all long-suffering, 2 Tim. 4. 2. be­cause with God all things are possible; and those sheep that are gone much a­stray, seemingly past reach, he can lay [Page 95] hold of, and bring home again to the fold.

2. No man ought to draw such a sad conclusion in reference to himself, that the season of mercy is quite expired. Though our election may be made sure, yet repro­bation is not presently to be discover'd: Though upon thy comparing thy heart and life with the Word of God, thou mayst know of a certainty thou hast no grace; yet thou hast no warrant to say, thou never shalt have any: As filthy as thou have been washed; as unholy as thou have been sanctified; as guilty as thou have been justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, 1 Cor. 6. 11.

3. When Satan pesters you with thoughts, that there is no help remaining, but the acceptable time is all slipt away, rather hope the contrary; for Satan is a liar; and because he is so busie about you, 'tis a sign that he is afraid of loosing you; if he knew certainly that your day of visitation were gone, he would be sure of you, and so he would be quiet, [...]nd not as he doth, molest and trouble [...]ou.

But for the further relief of those, who are apt to discourage themselves, and to damp their own endeavours after grace, by thinking the day is ended, and 'tis now too late, I shall do two things. First, Lay down some probable signs. Secondly, Some certain signs of this Day of Grace's continuance.

The probable signs of its continuance are these.

1. When the heart is inclined to sit under powerful means, who knows but by the word of faith which you attend upon, the grace of faith may be wrought in you.

2. When ever and anon the heart i [...] stirred, and conscience awakened by the Spirit, and the Lord doth not let yo [...] alone in your iniquities, nor suffer you t [...] sleep quietly and undisturbedly the sleep of death.

3. When those false grounds of hope which you have built upon, are more and more discover'd; when you are mad [...] to perceive the vanity of confidence i [...] your selves, or in your own righteous­ness; and that 'tis not enough to b [...] somewhat better then the worst are; an [...] [Page 97] that the name of Christians signifies no thing, unless you depart from iniquity, 2 Tim. 2. 19. Who knows, but that be­ing beaten off from insufficient bottoms, you may at length be settled upon the right foundation, Jesus Christ.

4. When there is a great fear least the Day of Grace should be past, 'tis to be hoped that 'tis not past. Jerusalem in the text was far from any such fear. Usually souls are left senseless, when the Lord leaves them. Of the old world, and of Sodom 'tis said, They eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded, they married and were given in marriage, and minded nothing else but things of this nature, though the floud was so near the one, and fire ready to consume the other.

5. When sinners are inquisitive what they shall do to be saved, 'tis probable at least, that the day of salvation is not ter­minated, but salvation is near, and may be obtained, if the terms on which 'tis proffer'd are not quarrel'd at, but sub­mitted to as good and equal.

In the second place follow the certain signs that the Day of Grace is not yet concluded.

1. This day is not pass'd when the Soul is for peace with God upon any conditions. If this be the yielding frame and temper of thy heart, certainly thou dost not only know, but also art willing to do the things which belong unto thy peace. If this be thy language, Lord! Doth a right eye offend thee? it shall be pluckt out: doth a right hand offend thee? it shall be cut off: Those sins that seem most sweet and necessary, as long as thou hatest them, that is sufficient to discommend them, I am resolved to love them no longer! Thou hast no reason to give up all for lost: No, no, being thus made willing to cast away every transgression, iniquity shall not be thy ruine, as you may see Ezek. 18. 30.

2. This Day of Grace is not pass'd, when the sinner sets open the door of his heart; that Christ the Lord may enter. That pro­mise is most sure, If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him, and sup with him, and he shall sup with me, Rev. 3. 20. Christ complains of the Jews, that They would not come to him that they might have life; but if any are made wil­ling to come, the waters of life are open, [Page 99] and none that desire shall be denied them, Rev. 22. 17. Let him that is a thirst come, and whoever will, let him drink of the waters of life freely. Doest thou know Christ? Art thou acquainted with his Kingdom as well as his Priesthood? and art thou willing to have his Kingdom set up in thy heart, and thy very thoughts and affections brought into obedience and captivity? Art thou wil­ling thus to receive him? Certainly thou shalt be received by him, and have power to become a child of God, Joh. 1. 12.

3. This Day of Grace is not pass'd, if Grace be desired above all things in the world. If the edge of thy appetite to­wards the things that perish is turn'd, if the pearl of price be indeed of price in thy esteem; if that be thy will and desire, which is the will of God, even thy sanctification; surely the Spirit is so far from having left thee, that he is in thee: 'Tis he who raises this hunger and thirst after righteousness, which as it shall be sa­tisfied, so it argues thy estate blessed, Ma [...]th. 5. 6.

5. This Day of Grace is not pass'd, when the heart is grieved for the [Page 100] mispence of so much of this day, and is wil­ling to live the rest of it to the will of God, 1 Pet. 4. 2. If you judge that the time past of your life doth suffice, nay, more then suffice, to have been foolish and dis­obedient to God, and to have obey'd and served divers lusts and pleasures, and if you resolve to dedicate the remainder of your lives in the flesh to the Lord, that he may dispose of it, certainly the Lord will accept both of your time and you: Though you come in late, so it be but presently, into the Vineyard, you shall receive a penny; and diligence in your Masters work will be rewarded with your Masters joy.

3. A third word of Caution is this, Take heed of being strengthned and em­boldned by the general practise to idle this Day of Grace away. We read concern­ing Laish, That the people dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure, Judg. 18. 7. And truly this is the manner of most in the world, careful possibly they are about many things, but as to the main thing utterly careless: Their ti [...]e is of little, and their souls of less value in their judgments. But that [Page 101] the humour and custom of the world may not be followed, let these considera­tions be ponder'd by you.

1. The most in the world are blind. As Moses speaks, they are void of counsel, neither have they any understanding in them; they are not wise to consider their latter end, Deut. 32. 28, 29. nor the worth of that gracious season, in which alone preparation can be made for it. And shall we write after the Coppies which a company of fools set us? Shall we fol­low the blind, that quickly will fall into the ditch, and have not eyes to see their danger?

2. The most are unbelieving; a froward generation, children, in whom there is no faith, and from this root of infidelity doth spring their prodigallity of the day of Grace. Did they indeed believe that death will not make an end of them, but that after this is finished, another life will follow, either of the greatest joy, or of as great sorrow; and that joy or sor­row in the next world will be their lot, according as the present season is, or is not improved; certainly they would be more sparing of that which is so preci­ous. [Page 102] Oh the secret paganisme that is in the hearts of multitudes! they live as if Eternity were a fiction, and Hell a fable; but will it be thought a fable, when they feel the tortures of it? And what shall we tread in the steps of such Infidels? No, we are to follow, not the unbelief, but the faith of others, Heb. 13. 7. Whose faith follow, considering the end of the [...]r conver­sation.

3. Are not many, who are such spend­thrifts of this Day of Grace, self-condemn­ed? How often doth Conscience re­proach them for their spiritual sloth? and 'tis very unreasonable to go in that way, which they themselves do frequent­ly condemn themselves for: Idleness is is a sin which leaves behind it a great deal of regret and dissatisfaction in the heart; 'tis common for the slothful to hear a voice behind them, saying, Time is a treasure that ought not to be thus foolish­ly, and to no purpose, wasted.

USE III. Of Exhortation. Let me perswade all to a serious im­provement of this day of their gracious [Page 103] visitation. The Arguments to prevail are these,

1. This day is continually passing: Your glass is running every moment, whether you sleep or wake, are in company or a­lone, are vain or serious, do pray or sin, it never stands still: And when once your glass is run, 'twill never be turn'd again, but taken down immediately. Your dayes are but an hand-breadth; and whether of this hand-breadth there be an inch remaining, is a question. Time is not unfitly pictur'd with wings, because it flies so fast away; and bald behind, be­cause you cannot catch hold of it to pull it back. The best part of this day is u­sually at first; if we seek unto the Al­mighty betimes, Job 8. 5. we are the more sure to find him; and this should engage you to a more speedy trading with this precious talent.

2. You all must be reckoned with, how you have husbanded this gracious season. Oh what a case will the slothful soul be in, when death gives him a summons; and he hears that word, Render an ac­count of thy stewardship, for thou mayst be no longer steward. Conscience must needs [Page 104] very much amaze the sinner, when it shall before the Judge bring in such Indict­ments as these against him. So much of this day of savation was spent in immode­rate recreations: So much in carnal and ungodly company: So much in eager pur­suing after the deceitful riches and plea­sures of this world: So much in making provision for the flesh, that the vile and base lusts of it might be fulfilled: So much in proud and towring imaginations: So much in amorous and filthy musings: So much in vain and rotten communication: So much in Taverns, and Ale-houses, and in the Harlots habitations: So much in tricking and adorning the body: And Christ and the soul were all the mean while neglected and forgotten. Often ask thy self this question; Do I spend my Day of Grace after such a manner, as I may account for it at last with comfort? Such thoughts would make you seri­ous.

3. Let the diligence of the earthly minded, in improving the worlds day, shame you out of your idleness in this day of salvation. If the greedy tradesman hears of an excellent b [...]rg [...]m, what madness [Page 105] doth he count it to neglect the season wherein he may have it? He that is co­vetous of preferment, 'tis no sooner offer'd then accepted: Oh, say such, We must catch occasion by the fore-lock, we may never have the like again. Alas! that men should be so wise in trifles, and such fools in the greatest matters! Now is the time of preferment; you may be advanced to the dignity of Children, and Heirs of God: Now is the time to grow rich to­wards God, to lay up such a treasure, 'that will never fail, that none can take away from you.

4. Let the apprehensions which others have of this Day of Grace be consider'd by you. Here I shall bring several Speak­ers upon the Stage, delivering what their judgments and thoughts are.

1. Hearken to the awakened Soul, whose eyes are newly forced open by the Spirit: Surely I am more brutish then a­ny; I have not the understanding of a man: Many years I have liv'd, and as many I have lust, in sin and folly: A treasure I have been entrusted with, but I have been cheated of it by a deceitful heart, a deceit­ful world, and a subtle Serpent: I remem­ber [Page 106] opportunities have followed thick one upon another, of getting grace, but none were laid hold upon: There was nothing I slighted more, then that which least of all deserv'd my slighting: Oh that my past dayes could be again recall'd, they should be spent after another fashion: But instead of that, what cause have I to fear, that the Lord may allow no more time, since that which he hath allowed hath been so unpro­fitably consumed?

2. Hearken to the serious Christian: How great a work have I to do, and how short a time to do it in? How vast is eter­nity, which depends upon this moment? Lord! the world is not worth my time and pains in comparison of thy self, and that Grace and Glory which thou hast revealed. Now is the time to fly from the vengeance of eternal fire, and to gain the life that's [...]verlasting; and to scape the one, and gain the other, shall be my lifes main busi­ness.

3. Hearken to a rouzed sinner just go­ing out of the world: Oh! my head doth ake, my heart is sick, my eyes are dim, my breath is short, a general trembling seises on me, and all do shew, that this earthly [Page 107] house of my tabernacle is upon the point of being dissolved: And must I now be for­ced away? O my soul, to what place art thou removing? Hark! I hear a dreadful sound within; Conscience speaks language full of horrour. Alas! Is the sentence now past, Cut down the tree that brought forth none but evil fruit? Must I go pre­sently to the Bar of God, who have nothing but provoked him all my dayes? May I not be spared a few years, or moneths, or weeks longer? Oh call time again; I ne­ver saw thy worth till now: If I might be again recover'd and restored, oh how often would I pray, and how earnestly would I cry for mercy and grace? how carefully would I hear and practise? But this I should have done before, 'tis now too late to think—and there he stops, his thread is cut asun­der, his soul flyes away, and leaves his bo­dy a clod of earth.

And now Brethren, are your hearts still mastered? 'Tis to be hoped concern­ing the worst in this Congregation, that their day is not quite gone; but who knows whether this may not be the last hour; and if now you will not, your own spirits may be quickly required of [Page 108] you, or Gods Spirit may depart from you. You will wish at last, as others have done, that the day of salvation had been valued, let it therefore be no more neglected.

5. Consider, If you will not improve the Day of Grace, you can reasonably ex­pect nothing but a day of wrath. When mercy hath acted its part towards un­godly ones, and being still refused, makes its Exit; then fury and indignation en­ters upon the stage; but of that traged▪ there will be no end. Whole eternity will be taken up in feeling the effects of di­vine displeasure, and in bewailing the loss of that Day of Grace, wherein this anger might have been appeased.

I have done with the second Do­ctrine.

Doct. 3. The third follows: To know, in this Day of Grace, the things which belong to our peace, is our great hap­piness and wisdom. If Jerusalem had been thus wise, she would not have been, as she was, rejected. If thou hadst known, sayes Christ: The defective speech is thus to be made up, If the things of thy [Page 109] peace had been understood by thee, O Jerusalem, thy state would have been as happy as now 'tis woful; instead of be­ing cut off, thou wouldst have been still as near to God and as dear as ever; in­stead of having his wrath poured out upon thee to the uttermost, that mercy, which hath been so often proffer'd, had assuredly been bestowed, if thou hadst not foolishly shut thy eyes, so as not to see either the value, or thy own need of mercy. A text somewhat parallel to this we have Isai. 48. 17, 18. Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee [...]o profit, which leadeth thee by the way which thou shouldest go: Oh that thou [...]dst hearkened to my commandments! [...]hen had thy peace been as a river, and thy [...]ighteousness as the waves of the Sea.

In the prosecution of this Doctrine, [...] shall first open to you the nature of [...]eace: Secondly, manifest what are the [...]hings which belong to our peace: Thirdly, confirm the doctrine: Fourth­ly apply it.

In the first place I am to open to you [...]he nature of peace.

This is a subject no less profitable then pleasant, Dulce nomen pacis, the name of peace hath a sweet sound. Peace implies a blessed conjunction between heaven and earth, between the Creator and us his creatures; and, which follows here­upon, a satisfaction and quietness in our hearts, so that those disturbances and dis­orders, which were caused by sin, are be­calmed and regulated. The first of these, namely, Agreement with Heaven, is the principally intended peace, which Christ speaks of; but the other, namely, Quiet­ness within, follows upon this, and is the superstructure upon this founda­tion.

I shall therefore first explain the na­ture of Peace above, and afterwards of Peace within.

1. There is a Peace with God above: When I speak of peace with God, 'tis supposed that by nature God and we are at variance, and sin is the make-bate be­tween God and man. Sin is a thing that not only causes commotions and tumults here below; therefore saith the Apostle, From whence comes war and fightings a­mong you? comes it not hence, even of [Page 111] your lusts that war in your members? Jam. 4. 1. but it also sets Heaven and Earth at odds; it so besots the pot­sherds of the earth, that they venture to contend with him that is their Maker, and who can easily dash them all in pie­ces. Sin hath set us at a vast distance from God, and is continually thrusting us further from him; yet we may have peace, if we will indeed return to him: Though we have provoked him to be an enemy, yet he is not such an enemy as is irre­concileable: Hark what language he ut­ters, Isai. 27. 4, 5. Fury is not in me; let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me. Peace with God is here pro­mised; God himself is ready to streng­then us, that we may make peace with him, and the more abundantly to en­courage us, he sayes, Fury is not in me, that is, towards them who are willing to be reconciled, and to rebel no more, he is not at all furious, but gracious and easie to be intreated, though their awa­kened and fearful hearts are prone to imagine the Lord is made up all of an­ger.

This Peace with God, several thing [...] are implied in it.

1. Peace with God implies the re­moval of his wrath. All sin is pardon' [...] and done away in the bloud of Christ▪ and guilt being cover'd, the Lords anger ceases, for sin is the only provocation to him. See how these are joyned, the forgiveness of sin, and the taking away of wrath, Psal. 85. 2, 3. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast cover­ed all their sin, Selah. Thou hast take [...] away all thy wrath, thou hast turned thy self from the fierceness of thine anger. The flaming sword is removed, and the Lord sayes, Draw nigh to me, and I will draw nigh to you. We read, as of a Gulph fixed between God and damned spirits, so of a middle wall of partition between God and unregenerate sinners; the for­mer, namely, the Gulph, indeed cannot be passed thorow; but the latter, the mid­dle wall, may be broken down, and 'tis broken down when our peace is made: His wrath abides on those that will not believe, that refuse to be reconciled; but his anger ceases towards them who be­lieve and yield to him. Thrice happy [Page 113] they, who are eased of such a load as the wrath of God!

Speak O ye troubled Consciences, is not this anger your greatest trouble, and that which makes the deepest wounds? Speak, O Hells Inhabitants, is not divine wrath a punishment too heavy for you to bear? is not this the weight which sinks you lowest in the bottomless pit? Final­ly, hear what Christ spake when he felt the displeasure of his Father, My Soul, sayes he, is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Well may they rejoyce, who through Jesus are freed from this dis­pleasure.

2. Peace with God implies an interest in his love. His love is every whit as great towards those who are at peace with him, as before his wrath was. We may cease to be angry with another, and yet not have any great affection for him. But where the Lord turns away his wrath, the stream of his love doth run amain. The time of our reconcilation and returning is called a time of love: And this love is the more to be admired, because it finds us in our bloud, which makes us deserve loathing; it finds no [Page 114] beauty, no comeliness at all in us, but what it puts upon us. The Apostle speaks of rich mercy, and great love, which the reconciled have an interest in, Ephes. 2. 4, 5. But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ: by grace ye are saved. This love of God is exceeding li­beral, it sets open his fulness which is so all-sufficient, and we may come, and take what we need at pleasure.

And as they, who are at peace with God, have an interest in his love, so this love doth enkindle love in them to him again: The unreasonable enmity of their hearts against God is cured; the soul lifts up it self to God, Psal. 25. 1. which before very unreasonably doated upon the world, and much more unreasonably upon its own lusts.

3. Peace with God implies the esta­blishment of a sure and everlasting Cove­nant between him and us. As the Lord makes this Covenant, so he makes over himself in this Covenant; He becomes ours, and he takes us for his own, Ezek. 16 8. N [...]w when I passed by thee, and [Page 115] looked upon thee, behold thy time was the time of love, and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware un­to thee, and entred into Covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine. This Covenant is styled the Covenant of peace. The Lord being once a friend will never become an enemy; he will be merciful to the un­righteousness of them that are in Co­venant with him; and as he hath engaged not to leave and forsake them, so he hath promised to put his love and fear into their hearts, that they shall not leave and forsake him: they are apt to be unsted­fast, 'tis well they have to do with a God that is faithful and changeth not; to this is owing their perseverance and their blessedness. That's a sweet place, Isai. 54. 10. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither the Co­venant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Oh that our hearts were but set to study this Cove­nant of our God! How precious, how sutable are the Promises of it! We are guilty; defiled, troubled, weak and lost creatures, but in this Covenant, Pardon, [Page 116] the Spirit, Peace, strengthening Grace, and eternal Salvation are made over. And he that hath promised can as easily perform as promise. Nay, Christ hath confirmed this Covenant by his death, so that it cannot be altered. Our Lord at his death engaged his Father to be a Friend unto all that did or should be­lieve in him; and therefore that he will be a sure and never failing Friend, may securely be built upon.

4. Peace with God implies, his taking us into a new and near relation to himself. He makes us his Children, and surely then we shall abide in his house for ever. He not only sayes▪ I will be a God to you, but also, I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty, 2 Cor. 6. 18. Well may we wonder with the Apostle, 1 Joh. 3. 1. Behold, what manner of love the Fa­ther hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God! Those who are at peace with God are espoused unto Jesus Christ, unto such, a Bill of divorce shall never be given. And as Christ be­comes their Husband, and God their Fa­ther so they consent to carry it like Chil­dren, [Page 117] to love and fear the Lord in a child-like manner, to follow fully and hard after him; they are willing to be faithful unto Christ, and to be subject unto his commands, which are far from being grievous.

5. Peace with God implies freedom of access to him. Those who proudly har­den themselves in sin, the Lord beholds them afar off, but he is nigh to those whose peace is made; such are invited not only to come, but to come with bold­ness to the Throne of Grace; and mercy and grace to help shall not be denied them, Heb. 4. ult. They may without dis­couragement approach to God, and tell him of their temptations; He is ready to succour them: they may tell him of their weakness, he is ready to strengthen them with might in their inward man; they may tell him of the distempers, which they are burthen'd with, he is ready to heal them; they may spread their desires before him, he is ready to fulfil the desire of the humble, Psal. 10. 17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble, thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.

And as the Soul, whose peace is made hath freedom of access to God, so God hath freedom of access unto the soul. When Christ knocks, the heart opens; when the Spirit moves, he doth prevail; when God comes to dwell, the heart yields it self to be his Temple and habi­tation; and how much hereby is the soul dignified and advanced? The sinner is no longer foolishly stubborn, he denies the Lord nothing; when he requires his heart, his desire, his love, none of these shall be kept back any longer from him.

6. Peace with God implies fellowship and communion with him. There is a kind of a commonness between God and them that are reconciled to him; whatever is in God is theirs, because God is not asha­med to be called their God, Heb. 11. 16. They have an interest and propriety in his Power, and Wisdom, and Mercy, and fulness, and they are sensible of the bles­sed effects of these and other of the Lords Attributes. God having given them himself, what will he refuse to com­municate? He is ever manifesting him­self, and bestowing those blessings upon [Page 119] them, which Aliens never do receive. He deals not towards them with a sparing hand; the promise runs thus, Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it, Psal. 81. 10. And this is certain, that the more open our mouths are, the more open will the hand of God be.

Thus you see what Peace above, what Peace with God is.

In the next place I am to speak of Peace within.

'Tis natural to man to be his own enemy and tormentor. He that was pos­sessed with unclean spirits, 'tis said no man could bind him, no not with chains, but he was in the Tombs and Mountains, crying and cutting himself with stones, Mar. 5. 5. In like manner, a child of disobedience, in whom the Prince of the power of the Air worketh, will not be bound, will not be hindred from doing his soul harm; those cords of restraint that the Word casts upon him, he breaks asunder and casts away; he is continual­ly cutting and wounding his own con­science, and if he be not quickly transla­ted out of this estate, he will quickly give himself the fatal blow. As long as any [Page 120] are enemies to God, they are also their own adversaries; but when they leave off fighting against God, they cease war­ring against themselves.

Peace within is very comprehensive, several things are therein included.

1. Peace within comprehends calm­ness in the Conscience: This calmness follows upon the apprehension and sense of our peace with God, and that now he is in his Son reconciled. A reproaching Conscience is a fearful companion; we cannot fly away from Conscience, it is alwayes with us; if awakened 'twill speak boldly, and tell us our own, be we never so proud or high in the world, and the ear is forced to hear Conscience's ac­cusations; when God gives it a com­mand to speak, how impossible is it for us to impose silence on it? Oh what a storm doth the remembrance of mani­fold sins, with their manifold aggrava­tions, raise in the Conscience? how ama­zed is it to see so much guilt, and God so much and so justly incensed? But when God by his Spirit doth say, Soul, though sin hath abounded, my grace doth supera­bound; thy debts are all paid, thy iniqui­ties [Page 121] are all pardoned, Then the storm ceases, and there follows a great calm; Then Conscience layes aside the whip of steel, wherewith before it lash'd it self.

Conscience acquits the sinner, because God hath first justified and absolved him. Sins which are past are remitted, and instead of continuing in sin, the heart is changed, and is sincerely desirous to have it slain; and this godly sincerity Conscience gives testimony to, the effect of which is peace and joy, 2 Cor. 1. 12. Our rejoycing is this, the testimony of our conscience. Conscience tells us of our duty, and urges us to the performance of it; now when Conscience is heeded by us, and what we do for God our very hearts are in it, Conscience will not con­demn, but approve us, and this will qui­et us; for sayes the Apostle, 1 Job. 3. 20. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.

2. Peace within comprehends satis­faction in the heart. Solomon, while making trial what sufficiency was in the things under the Sun, was far from peace within, vanity was the fruit of all his [Page 122] labour, and his spirit is so far from being satisfied, that 'twas filled with vexation. But when God doth give himself to us, whom our hearts must then needs look upon as a proportionable happiness, as a sufficient portion, oh then we are come to our centre, and are at rest When the Soul ceases to tire and weary it self in pursu­ing after the creatures, and is fixed upon God, who is a Sun, a Shield, an exceeding great Reward; who is the God of all grace, and calls us to eternal glory; who cannot only satiate our desires, but do exceedingly above our desires and thoughts, according to that power which worketh in us, Ephes. 3. 20. Then, then our peace abounds, and passes all understanding. The heart is exceedingly pleased with its choice, having made choice of God; it would not exchange conditions with the greatest graceless ones in the whole world.

It must be acknowledg'd indeed, that in this life only the back parts of the Lord Jehovah are seen, and little of him in comparison is to be enjoyed: Yet this is certain, that Gods little is much more then the worlds all: The enjoy­ment [Page 123] of the Lord in part, affords more peace and satisfaction, by ten thousand degrees, then the creatures are capable of yielding; and that satisfaction, how much is it heightned by the assured hopes, that at last we shall be fully satis­fied?

3. Peace within comprehends an a­greement in our wills to the will of God. 'Tis but reason, that since Gods will is so high, so holy, so good, our wills should stoop and submit; and we cannot have peace but in that submission. The car­nal mind is enmity against God, and refu­ses to be subject to the Law and Word of God: Nay, by that very Law the corrupted heart is irritated and provo­ked, 'tis the more forward to sin, because forbidden to transgress: He was not un­acquainted with mans nature, who said, ‘Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimus (que) negata.’ We are very prone to do that which is forbidden, and to desire what is denied us: And while the heart is thus irritated by the Law, alas! the sinner is like the [Page 124] troubled sea, when it cannot rest: Sin taking occasion by the commandment, doth work all manner of concupiscence, Rom. 7. 8. But now what peace is there, when our hearts are reconciled to our duty, when we do not quarrel at, but love the Law, and wish, oh that our wayes were directed to keep it! How can there be peace within, unless there be some suta­bleness between our spirits and Gods Word and Ordinances? unless what was before look'd upon, without cause, as a burthen and weariness, be now e­steem'd as a priviledge and advan­tage?

Peace within comprehends ordinate­ness in the affections. Our passions and affections, being corrupted by sin, are ve­ry tumultuous and unruly; and except these are tamed and brought into right order, we shall not know peace. Those are some of the worst kind of slaves that are enslaved by their own affections. How is that man hurried, who is under the power of worldly or unclean desires? His fleshly and his worldly lusts do so take up his time and pains, that they will not permit him to eat, or drink, or sleep, [Page 125] and much less pray in quiet. How is that heart rent and torn, that is by inor­dinate love glued to any creature, when of that creature 'tis deprived? Oh the overwhelming sorrow which follows up­on love that is excessive! What a rack and torture is anger? What an evil is fear? many times worse then the evil feared: And so I might instance in other affecti­ons.

If the world be compared to a Stage, and the life of man to a part which he acts upon it, we may truly say, that a wicked man doth act, [...], the part of a Self-punisher, because by giving way to his corrupt affections, he contributes so much to his own dis­quiet.

But 'tis the work of the Spirit of God to renew these affections; the anger and sorrow are turned against and on sin, the love and the desire are towards God: And as here there is no danger of excess, so there is a certainty of enjoyment: The heart sits loose from the world, and the world is not able to disturb that peace which it hath in God. None are more free from trouble then those that are [Page 126] most masters of their own affections: And well may the Apostle say, that the fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy, Gal. 5. 22. since he brings our affections into captivity.

5. Peace within comprehends a ceas­ing to be our own foes. When are we our own foes? Surely when we side with Satan against our selves, when we cherish those lusts that war against our own souls. The Vipers off-spring do eat out the Vipers bowels; and sinful lusts, in like manner, will destroy at last those in whom they are bred and foster'd. Oh let us all be reconciled to our selves, and not continue any longer the greatest accesso­ries to our own misery.

I have shewed now what Peace is.

In the second place I am to manifest what are the things which belong unto our peace.

'Tis in the Gospel that these things are revealed, which therefore is called the Gospel of Peace, Rom. 10. 15. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. Herein is contained an Embassage of reconciliation: The God [Page 127] of peace proclaims to the world what an inclination he hath to be a friend and a Saviour to the children of men, and in­forms them upon what articles a peace shall be made and established between him and them. The Law of Nature is here silent; the Heathens by the light of that could never find out the way, how Divine Justice may be satisfied, and an attonement for sin made. Nay, the writ­ten Law of God speaks not a word con­cerning it: The Law teacheth our duty, convinceth of transgression, thunders out curses against transgressours, and they would be left under the curse, if the Go­spel did not tell them how to be redeem­ed from it, and how Grace, and Mercy, and Peace may be obtained.

There are three things which the Go­spel reveals concerning our peace.

  • 1. Who is the Mediatour or Peace-ma­ker, Jesus Christ.
  • 2. What are the conditions of this Peace.
  • 3. How we may attain to an assurance of it.

1. One thing which we must know concerning our peace, is, Who is the Me­diatour [Page 128] or Peace-maker between God and men, and he is Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. 2. 5, 6. For there is one God, and one Mediatour be­tween God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Here it was that Je­rusalem was ignorant; a cruclfied Messi­ah (though his crucifixion was neces­sary to his making of our peace) they hid their faces from, and disesteemed. Christ crucified was to the Jews a stum­bling-block, and to the Greeks foolish­ness, but to them that are reconciled and saved, he is the power of God, and the wisdom of God: Hence 'tis, that the Apostle resolves to know nothing be­sides him. All things that are revealed in Scripture must be known with relati­on to Christ, else our knowledge will be uncomfortable and without advantage.

What good will it do us to hear that God is gracious and merciful, unless in Christ he be reconciled? what good, to be informed of heaven and glory, unless Christ, who hath the Key of David, do open the door that we may enter? What good, to hear of the Promises, unless in Christ they be Yea and Amen to the glo­ry [Page 129] of God? Finally, what will it benefit us to hear of the priviledges of the Go­spel, unless through Christ we are admit­ted to them? There is an excellency in the knowledge of Christ our Peace-ma­ker, in comparison of which the Apostle counted all things but loss and dung, Phil. 3. 8.

Christ Jesus is our Peace-maker by a threefold means. His Satisfaction, his In­tercession, and the communication of his benefits.

1. Christ Jesus is our Peace maker by means of his satisfaction: For the ini­quity of his people was he smitten, and the chastisement of their peace was laid upon him: He was sent on purpose to be a propitiation; 1 John 4. 10. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he lov­ed us, and sent his Son to be the propitia­tion for our sins. Christ is said to recon­cile both Jews and Gentiles unto God, by the bloud of his Cross, and to have slain the enmity thereby. Corruptible things, as silver and gold, were insuffici­ent, but the bloud of Christ was a suffici­ent price for our redemption.

We may conceive such a kind of dia­logue [Page 130] as this, between Justice, and Christ, and Man who hath offended.

1. Divine Justice thus begins: Bring forth the Soul which hath sinned that it may dye: A righteous Law hath been bro­ken, and 'tis but righteous that the curse should be inflicted: Here are not one, or two, but thousands of sins upon record: Now therefore I am resolved to whet my glittering sword, and my hand shall imme­diately take hold on vengeance, and I'll make the sinner know to his cost, what 'tis to provoke the Lord to jealousie.

2. Christ answers; Hold Justice, stay thy hand! those sins thou speakest of, they are transferred unto another, therefore the Soul must not dye that's guilty of them: The debt is great, but I undertake to pay it all; where thou art wronged, it shall be put wholly on my account, I am resolved to be the sinners Surety, I am content to be made sin for him, though I knew none, though I never was my self in the least guilty

3. Unto this Justice replyes, Then, O thou Son of God, I must sheath my sword in thy bowels, I must wound, and bruise, and afflict thee: where ever I find sin, though [Page 131] but imputed, I can't for [...]ear to punish it.

4. Christ answers again; Do Justice, strike, and spare not; I am willing to be wounded, that the sinners wounds may be closed and cured; I am willing to dye that be may live; I am willing to undergo the curse, that he may receive the blessing, even life for evermore.

5. Upon this the sinner wonders and cryes out, Oh love that passeth knowledge! My Lord, my Saviour! since thou hast giv­en thy life a ransom for me, I am resolved to trust in thee, and to lay the stress of my salvation on thee; I expect and desire fa­vour and pardon no other way, then by thee, who art both the Price and the Prince of Peace.

2. Christ is our Peace-maker by means of his intercession. As his satisfaction is one, so his intercession is the other part of his Priestly office. He seconds his suf­ferings by his intercession; and we may be confident his intercession will be pre­valent, because of that love which his Father bears him, and because by his suf­ferings he hath purchased whatever he intercedes for. Christ the righteous is our [Page 132] Advocate with the Father, 1 John 2. 1. He presents before his Father the com­pleatness of his satisfaction, and how he hath endured the Cross and shame, and drank off that whole Cup which his Fa­ther put into his hand, and fulfilled all righteousness; how he did, and suffered all that was required of him, and all this, not for himself, but us. Whereupon the Father looks upon us with an eye of love, he is pacified towards us; and as he is Christs God and Father, so he is ours too: John 20. 17. Go tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.

Christ is our Peace-maker by the com­munication of his benefits: He is made unto us wisdom, and then we see the way of reconciliation: He is made unto us righteousness; sin is no longer imputed, and that quarrel which Justice had with us comes to an end: He is made unto us sanctification, and then the holiness of God ceases to be our enemy, and we no longer hate that holiness; there is a sweet agreement between our renewed nature and an holy God, and his holy Law, which he would have us walk ac­cording [Page 133] to. They that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, love God because of his ho­liness, and they love the Word of God upon the same score, Psal. 119. 139, 140. My zeal hath consumed m [...], because mine enemies have forgotten thy words: Thy Word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it. Finally, Christ is made unto us redemption, that's a fourth benefit rec­koned up by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 1. 30. He makes us free indeed, because he frees us from that which is slavery indeed, he delivers us from the bondage of corrupti­on, and causes us to become the servants of God and righteousness, Rom. 6. And now we are reconciled to Gods Sove­raignty and Authority, we own him as our Lord, who as he hath right to rule us, so 'tis our honour, our advancement, our freedom to be ruled by him.

2. As we must know who is our Peace-maker, so what are the conditions of our peace.

1. One condition is godly sorrow: And as the Lord doth grant us peace, so he himself doth work this and the other conditions of it. If we will be reconci­led, we must mourn for our offending [Page 134] and provoking God to be an enemy. The eye of the body can look every way but inward, and shall the eye of our mind never look inward neither? Were our hearts but more acquainted with them­selves, they would be more broken and contrite hearts: How deeply is the Law of sin engraven there? and this Law of sin forbids whatever the Law of God commands, and commands whatever the Law of God forbids. The most vene­mous creature is not more full of poyson, then our hearts are full of enmity against the Lord, and reprobateness to what is good: This corruption of our nature is not a thing which hath layn dormant and idle; no, but as a Fountain perpe­tually sends forth water, so from the heart proceed evils abundantly, whereby the man is defiled. 'Tis difficult to rec­kon up the sins of one day, or of one du­ty; and how vast then is the total sum of our whole lives abominations? Oh break hard heart for shame! who hast so often broken the most equal laws, and broken thorow so many obligations to obedience. If th [...] offending God be made light of, this will anger him more then all thy other offences.

[Page 135] 2. Another condition of our Peace is Believing. When the Jaylour was under the sense of Gods anger and wrath, and tortur'd with the fears of damnation, and cry'd out, What shall I do to be saved? Paul and Silas made this answer, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16. 30, 31. How much is faith preached up in the Gospel? and unto Christ our faith is directed, for 'tis in him that God is well pleased, and 'tis through that beloved Son alone, that he will be at peace, and well pleased with us: If we expect favour or mercy any other way, but through Jesus, that very expe­ctation is sufficient to be an eternal im­pediment to our obtaining of either. The Lord hath made Faith one great condition of our peace and salvation, for two reasons.

1. Man being thus reconciled and sa­ved by believing, all the glory redounds to God alone: Mans boasting is utterly ex­cluded: The hand of faith is an empty hand, it brings nothing along with it; but it receives Christ, and with him, and from him, freely all th [...]ngs. Faith exalts Christ, and abases the sinner, and makes [Page 136] him see, that he is wretched, and misera­ble, and poor, and naked, and that to Christ he must be beholding for every thing, he must thank himself for no­thing.

Man being thus reconciled and saved by believing, his peace with God is last­ing, his salvation sure, Rom. 4. 16. There­fore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure. Adam was at peace with God when first created; but since the continuance of his peace depended upon the constancy of his obedience, peace and life were soon lost by him. But faith puts our peace and salvation in the hands of ano­ther, in the hands of Christ, he under­takes to be the finisher of our faith, Heb. 12. 2. He hath promised to keep us from falling, and to confirm us to the end, 1 Cor. 1. 8. And the believer rests upon this word of promise, which will never fail him.

That's the second condition of peace, believing.

3. Another condition is; Conversion with the whole heart to God. How often doth the Spirit cry out, Turn and live [...]? [Page 137] And though the Lord was bitterly pro­voked, yet upon his peoples returning, he promises to be pacified, Jer. 3. 12. Go and proclaim these words towards the North, and say, Return thou back-sliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause my an­ger to fall upon you, for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Our returning to him must be without delay, without deceit; we must not divide our hearts between him and sin, between him and Mammon, but we must consent to be wholly his, and never to leave him any more; but if through infirmity we do fall, we must look unto the Lord to pity, and pardon, and heal, and raise us. To turn away from God so as not to return, is inconsistent with peace. Thus you know these things, which are the conditions of your peace; let me add, Happy are ye if ye do them.

3. It concerns us to know, how we may attain to an assurance of Peace. The soul indeed may be safe without this as­surance, but withall 'twill be disconso­late. Now 'tis the Spirit who makes this discovery: We read, Rom. 14. 17. of peace and joy in the holy Ghost. Peace [Page 138] and joy are the fruits of this blessed Comforter. In Scripture the Saints are said to be sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption, Ephes. 4. 30. And their being thus sealed, as it denotes their di­stinction from the rest of the world, their being appropriated unto God, and the value that is put upon them; so it serves to confirm them in that perswasion, That God is theirs, and they are his. There is indeed a privy Seal of his gracious De­cree, of which the Apostle speaks, 2 Tim. 2. 19. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. But after­wards, when the Spirit works upon us, we are sealed in a more discernable way. Now the work and method of the Spirit in sealing and bringing those, who are re­conciled, unto an assurance of peace, I shall declare.

1. The Spitit convinces us of sin and misery, of our worthlesness and weak­ness, and bows our hearts to a submission to the righteousness of Christ, and draws us to a closure with him.

2. The Spirit sanctifies and cleanses us from the filthiness, in which we wal­lowed, [Page 139] and causes us to yield obedience to the commands of God, Ezek. 36. 27.

3. The Spirit doth more and more stir up and increase the grace which he he hath wrought, so that the actings of faith, and love, and hope, and zeal, are the more strong and sensible.

4. The Spirit doth discover the truth of these graces, letting us see, that our hearts do prize Christ, and breath after God, and after a greater degree of like­ness to him, as the Saints in Scripture have done before us.

5. Then peace and joy follows. But here we must understand, that this peace is twofold. First, more weak, mixed and imperfect. Secondly, more ravishing, glorious and triumphant.

1. There is a peace more weak, mixed and imperfect, which is for our support and encouragement, and this is common with believers, when they stir up them­selves, and seek the Lord with their whole desire, as they did, 2 Chron. 15. 15. Seldom is a duty performed with our heart and might, but some degree of peace and satisfaction follows, the Spirit giving some intimation, and raising a se­cret [Page 140] hope, that God through Christ doth accept of us. Oh who would not labour since there is such peace and rest attends it?

2. There is a peace more ravishing, glorious, and triumphing. How brightly doth the light of Gods countenance then shine upon us! How sweet is that love, the sense of which the Spirit sheds a­broad in the heart! Rom. 5. 5. What con­fidence have we then in God! How do we admire the richness of his grace! how low are we in our own eyes, being astonished that such vile creatures should be so advanced! How do we then de­spise the worlds delights, and the plea­sures of sin! How forward are we to obey, and to walk in all Ordinances blameless! How undaunted at danger, and at death, which will but increase our pleasures, sending us much nearer to the Lord, then here we are capable of ap­proaching! Thus 'tis by the Spirit that peace is spoken to us; and if we would at­tain to this peace, we must heed the Spi­rits counsels, we must readily close with his motions, we must gladly accept of his help and assistance, we must give up our selves unto his guidance.

In the third place follow the reasons of the Doctrine.

Why, to know the things of our peace is our great happiness and wisdom.

The reasons are these.

1. Because a true knowledge of these things will be practical and industrious; It will very much affect the heart, and quicken diligence, in seeking peace be­fore it be too late: A right understand­ing of it, will hinder a business of such eternal consequence, from being any lon­ger neglected by us.

2. Because of the evil which unavoid­ably follows, if of the things which con­cern our peace we are ignorant. The igno­rant soul is wretchedly careless, it mat­ters not whether God be a friend or foe, [...]s if his loving kindness were not to be [...]alued; as if his wrath were not to be [...]eared; and at last, the soul misses of mer­ [...]y, which it doth not regard, and falls [...]uddenly and irrecoverably into the pit [...]f destruction, which it dreams not of, [...]or endeavours to prevent.

Now follows the Application.

USE I. Of Instruction. There are two great lessons which we may learn from this Doctrine.

1. One lesson is this, That believers are the wisest and happiest souls, for the things of their peace are understood by them. Those things which are hid from the prudent of the world are unto these discover'd: I know they are accounted children a [...] babes by the carnally minded, but in the end they will be found to have had [...] all others the greatest foresight, the fai­thest reach, the truest understanding: Matth. 11. 25, 26. At that time Jesus an­swered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou h [...] hid these things from the wise and pr [...] ­dent, and hast revealed them unto babes even so Father, for so it seemed good in th [...] sight.

Peace is a thing which all seek after but most are mistaken in judging wha [...] is peace, and are wofully deceived in th [...] way to it: Only the believer hits righ [...] for he is lead by a Guide that leads onl [...] into truth.

'Tis indeed found by experience, tha [...] [Page 143] endeavours are used to blind and deceive the believer himself; but he is too wise to be put off with peace and happiness only in shew.

Many things do proffer peace to him.

1. Pleasures do use this charming lan­guage. What is it, O man, which thou seekest for? Is it quiet and satisfaction? [...] taste the sweetness which gratify­ing thy senses will afford: Is it not fine [...] g [...]ter in silk and silver bravely? to be [...]lothed in purple and fine linnen, and to presumptuously and deliciously every day? Who are more free from care and trouble, [...]en those who chaunt to the sound of the [...]ol, who drink wine in bowls, who eat limbs out of the flock, and calves out of [...]e midst of the stall, and after lay them down upon beds of Ivory, and stretch them­selves upon their couches? Come, come, away with needless scruples, indulge un­to thy appetite, please thy senses, what­ever thy eys desire withhold not from them, and quench thy longing flame in Dalilah's [...]braces.

Unto this the believing soul replyes: Death is climbing up at the windows, the Judge standeth before the door, Eternity is [Page 144] just at hand; and, O all ye sensual plea­sures, can you last any longer then a short season? Where is the Glutton that fared deliciously, that had as much as heart could wish? Is he not tormented in the flames? Oh deceitful pleasures, which cheat men of eternal joys, and drill them along to endless torments!

2. Wealth and worldly greatness do also make big offers: Wouldst thou, O Man, have peace? then seek a great estate, joyn house to house, and field to field, let thy coffers be cram'd with silver and gold, endeavour to be somebody in the world: Doest thou not know how many eyes, how much respect riches and honour will draw after thee? Let this be thy aim, to live i [...] plenty and esteem, and to leave a name be­hind thee.

Unto this also the believing soul an­swers: To expect peace and contentation from worldly abundance, is as absurd, as t [...] hope to sleep quietly in a bed of thorns. Who ever attained to greater earthly glory then Solomon? whose treasures did ever more abound? yet he himself disgraces a [...] his own wealth and honour, by calling them, Vanity and vexation of spirit.

[Page 145] 3. At last the Lord calls to the Be­liever, and thus speaks to him: Is it hap­piness, O man, which thou art searching af­ter? Look unto me, who am the God of love and peace: The creatures have but empty breasts, are but broken cisterus; but I have store of living waters to quench thy thirst, and satisfie thy longing: Sin is the distur­ber of thy peace, therefore let sin be cast a­way with hatred, and trouble, that ever thou didst give it entertainment. Come, come to me without delay, I will be to thee a God, I will be all unto thee; thou shalt ne­ver lack as long as I am all-sufficient.

Hereupon the soul yields: Thou art my haven, O my God; till I am arrived at thee I am in a storm, and every moment in langer to be cast away; in thee only, through thy Son, I can have peace; oh therefore let me be glew'd to thee, that no­thing may cause a separation! well may the believing soul return unto its rest, since God is his, and the peace which is made shall never quite be broken.

2. Another lesson which we may learn is this, The wretchedness of the ungodly, for there is no peace to them; Isai. 57. 21. There is no peace, saith my God, unto the [Page 146] wicked. And the more wicked, the less peace, and the longer you continue wick­ed, the less hopes that ever there will be any. I grant indeed, that 'tis ordinary for wicked ones to cry peace to themselves, but this false and imaginary peace is as bad, nay worse, then none at all.

1. The peace of the wicked is founded upon ignorance; they know not what cause they have to fear and be troubled, the sins which they commit, the God whom they every hour provoke, and the vengeance unto which they are liable, is not in all their thoughts: These things they are willingly ignorant of, 2 Pet. 3. 5.

2. This peace of the wicked, many times 'tis the consequent of judicial hard­ness; their eyes are shut, their conscien­ces are cast into a dead sleep, and are be­come past feeling; no wonder if they en­joy a kind of quiet.

3. This peace of the wicked is a great hindrance to their obtaining of true peace: while they imagine their state is good and safe enough, they will not seek to have it alter'd; by means of this the strong man armed doth keep the house in more quiet and secure possession.

[Page 147] 4. This peace of the wicked is but of very short continuance; 'tis chased away like a pleasant dream or night vision, and the succeeding wo and trouble will be the more intollerable, because unlookt for it will come upon them.

A peace the wicked have, but 'tis without ground, and worse then none: True peace what have they to do with, as long as the wickednesses, which are practised, delighted in, and pleaded for, are so many?

1. The ungodly have no peace in life. The Lord is their enemy, he hates them, is angry with them, walks contrary to them. Hark how he proclaims war, Ezek. 5. 8. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I even am against thee, and I will execute judgments in the midst of thee. And as the Apostle sayes, If God be for us, who can be against us? So the words may be inverted, If God be a­gainst us, what doth it signifie who is for us?

2. Much less have the ungodly any peace at death. The end of the perfect and upright is peace; but the transgressours shall be destroyed together, the end of the wicked [Page 148] shall be cut off, Psal. 37. 37, 38 Then their hopes will prove a Spiders web, their confidence as the giving up of the ghost. Perhaps when the snares of death are upon them, the pains of hell may get hold of them, Conscience may be af­frighted, and they may be like wild Bulls in a net, full of the fury of the Lord, and the rebuke of God: But if they dye stu­pid, there is the less hope; if there are no bands in their death, 'tis the more certain they will be bound immediately after, and thrown into the lake of fire.

3. The Judge will not find the ungodly in peace: No, no, they were not diligent or desirous to be cleansed from their spots and filthiness. How many sins un­repented of will accompany them to the Tribunal? which will prove them ene­mies to God, and which with a lowd united voice will cry for vengeance up­on them.

4. And will they find any peace in hell into which with a curse they must depart? Can there be any ease, any rest taken in those devouring flames? How many things will the damned have to trouble [Page 149] them? All the wrath of God stirr'd up against them: The glory of his power manifesting it self in their destruction: The reflections of Conscience upon the proffers of peace and life, which were once made, but madly, sottishly despised, and which should never, never be made more: Oh how will they be troubled, and bowed down, and mourn, and wail, and weep eternally!

USE II. Of Exhortation to the Lords Enemies. O that you would be perswaded unto peace! Many arguments I may fill my mouth with, to prevail with you to be reconciled.

1. Do but consider seriously, what kind of enemy the Lord is, and that consi­deration will make you afraid, that he should be your enemy any longer.

1. You cannot fly from his reach. Though you exalt your selves as the Ea­gle, though you set your nest among the Stars, yet from thence the Lord can bring you down, Obad. 4. Though you should go down to the bottom of the Sea, and [Page 150] hide your selves at the earths centre, yet there his hand can take you. If you ima­gine that any refuge can secure you from God, that refuge will be found a lye, and will deceive you. The Lord does fill both heaven and earth, nay the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain him, how then is it possible any should fly from him?

2. You cannot resist his power. Far stronger creatures then you, were not a­ble to withstand the God of heaven: The Dragon fought and his Angels, but how easily were they overcome? After that Jehu had slain Joram and Ahaziah, the Kings of Israel and Judah, we read that the Elders of Samaria were exceed­ingly afraid, and said, behold two Kings stood not before him, how then shall we stand? 2 Kings 10. 4: So may I say, Be­hold the Angels that excel in strength, stood not before the Lord, he cast them, when they sinned, into chains, which they can never break asunder; And how then shall man be able to stand, who dwelleth in a house of clay, whose foun­dation is in the dust, and who is crushed before the moth? Sinner! God will certainly be too hard for thee, thou canst [Page 151] no more resist his power, then a feather can bear up against a whirlwind, or dried stubble defend it self from the fiercest [...]ame.

3. You cannot bear his indignation. How doth David faint and cry out, when a little of Gods anger was stirred up a­gainst him? Remove thy stroak away from me, I am consumed by the blow of thy hand, Psal. 39. 10. And if a little be so intollerable, what will the whole weight be? The Prophet brings in the unsensi­ble creatures, as if they had sense, fearing and quaking, when the Lord doth shew his wrath, Nehem. 1. 5, 6. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at his presence, yea, the world and all that dwell therein; who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. Surely that heart is worse then rocky, which doth not trem­ble before him.

4. He can engage all the creatures a­gainst you. He is the Maker and also the great Commander of the Host of Heaven and Earth. The Angels are rea­dy [Page 152] press'd for his service, and to do his will; all the Devils are at his beck, and forward to be the Executioners, when he hath pass'd an angry sentence: The Thunder and the Lightning say unto him, Here we are: The stormy Wind doth fulfill his words: Nay, the smallest and most inconsiderable creatures he can render dreadful, and tame the proudest by them. And since he is Jehova Exerci­tuum, the Lord of such Armies, Oh do not enter into battel with him.

5. He hath access unto your very spirits, and can wound and fill your souls with horrour. When the Lord impressed his anger upon the heart of Judas, how rest­less was he? though a covetous man, he flings away his silver, that would not ease him; his life is a burthen, and with his own hands he puts an end to it. A wound­ed spirit who can bear? and wounds there the Lord can give you.

6. His power will reach his enemies in the next world: Nay, then his hand will be heaviest of all; God will lay on load upon his adversaries, and not in the least spare them: His patience will then be at an end, his goodness totally and eternally [Page 153] withdrawn; and how low then will his vengeance weigh them down? Such an enemy the Lord is, and this is one argu­ment to perswade you to peace.

2. Be mindful of the dependance you have upon him. In him you live, and move, and have your being, and if he should withdraw his visitation, your life would presently conclude and vanish: And is it safe, or a wise part in you, to provoke that God to be your enemy, in whose hand your breath is, and who can take it out of your nostrils when he plea­seth? He can loose the silver cord, he can break the golden bowl, and require your souls at your hands, without giving you an hours or a minutes warning. Whosoever you fall out with, methinks you should get and keep in with God, for 'tis his patience and mercy which keeps you out of the grave and hell; of both which, by reason of sin, you are in great danger.

3. The condescension and stooping of God is admirably great, in beseeching such as you to be reconciled: And shall he in­treat in vain? Shall the malefactour be beseeched to accept of a pardon, and re­fuse [Page 154] it? That is a text that should work upon the most refractory, 2 Cor. 5. 20. Now then we are Embassadours for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. What is it come to this, doth God beseech, and Christ pray, that we, who are so mean and so vile, would be friends, and shall we continue rebels? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord! for the impenitent, then the earth or stones, are much more stupid. To slight the proffer of mercy, and to diso­bey the command to come for it, is both a fault and a folly inexcusable; but to be deaf to intreaties, is worst of all; this; goes nearest unto God, when his conde­scension and kindness is disregarded and abused, and upon this abuse the greater contempt, and anger, and hatred must needs follow.

4. Consider what kind of friend the Lord is. I might be large in describing his excellencies, which they who are ac­quainted with him see and admire. Three things at present I shall mention.

1. God is such a friend, whose love is transcendent. That sweet name (which [Page 155] is as an oyntment poured forth) he calls himself by, The God of love and peace, 2 Cor. 13. 11. Nay, he is stiled [...], Love in the abstract, 1 John 4. 8. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. Whatever returns of love we make, those returns fall infinitely short of the love of God from whence they come. Indeed it is as possible to equal him in strength, in wisdom, or any other of his perfections, as to equal him in love. Oh let this love of God be as a loadstone to draw yours, and as a whetstone to shar­pen it.

2. God is such a friend, whose fulness can never be exhausted. The Sun, although it hath shined ever since the Creation, yet 'tis as full of light as ever it was. And though the Lord hath supplyed the wants of all them, whom he hath made his friends from the beginning, yet his stock and store is not at all diminished; His wisdom is never posed in their great­est difficulties; when believers know not what to do, and their eyes are unto him, he knows what to do for them: His power can raise them out of the lowest deep; his all-sufficiency can give [Page 156] to the uttermost of their desires, nay ex­ceedingly more then it hath entred into their hearts to desire or conceive: Who in his wits would not leave a vain world, and deceitful lusts, to come to such a friend as God hath alwayes shewed him­self to be?

3. God is such a friend, as will last when all other friends fail. He is the Lord who changes not: He can as soon cease to be, as cease to be faithful; and the faithfulness of God towards his friends, will make them also faithful; he will not turn away from them, and he will hold them fast that they shall not depart from him. The Lord is most constant; the Ordinances of the Sun, and Moon, and Stars are not so immutable as the Promises he hath made. Men of low de­gree are vanity, men of high degree are a lye, Psal. 62. 9. But God is true: Wealth may take wings and fly away, prosperity may vanish so as to be forgotten, flesh and heart may fail, but the Lord will be a friend and a portion for ever. Oh consent to be reconciled, since such a friend here­by will be gained.

5. Consider, If God be at peace with [Page 157] you, he will shield you from all other ad­versaries; he will wrest those weapons out of your own hands, whereby you en­deavoured your own destruction; he will give a deaths wound to sin, that it shall not be your death. And though the world, and the God of the world, fight against you, they shall not be able to pre­vail: Nay, their very enmity shall be­friend you, and God will turn to good what they do mean for evil. 'Tis admirable to consider, how the adversaries of the Lords people, though they have the in­tension of enemies, yet are forced to act like friends, and do a kindness unto Saints by those means, whereby they thought to have injured and destroyed them. Just as Joseph's brethren, when they would hinder his promotion, sold their brother into Egypt, where he arri­ved to that honour, which being fore­told was the matter of their envy.

6. Gods late dispensations, in a way of judgment, do call upon you aloud to sue for peace. He hath displayed his Flag of De­fiance, and the Motto of it hath been, Peste, Ferro, & Flamma, By Plague, and Sword, and Fire; By all these the Lord [Page 158] hath been fighting with us and our sins, and rebelling against him is the ground of the quarrel. The Sword was drawn, which devoured flesh, and dyed red the Sea with bloud. The Quiver was open­ed, and out flew the Arrows of the Pesti­lence; and what slaughter did those Ar­rows make? Heaps upon heaps the De­stroyer kill'd, many thousand went down to the Chambers of Death. We were ready to conclude, when the Plague was over, that God had done with us, but we were mistaken: A Fire was kindled in his wrath, which the strongest, the state­liest buildings could not stand against: How did the flames roar? what havock did they make? In three dayes space, London was no more like it self, then the dead bones, which have lay'n in the grave for several years, are like unto the man, when he was alive, and in his greatest strength and beauty.

When these effects of his displeasure are look'd upon with a considerate eye, who can doubt that God was angry? and how little hath been done to appease his wrath? 'Tis high time to beg for mercy, and to abandon whatever is a bar [Page 159] in Mercy's way. Oh that London, oh that England, would know the things that belong to their peace! We are not brought so low but we may be brought lower, if we provoke the Lord to conti­nue still an enemy.

7. Consider, as yet there is a possibility of being reconciled to God: His Arms are open and stretched forth, if you will but cast your selves into them: If the most wicked will but forsake their wayes and thoughts, and return to the Lord, he will have mercy upon them; and though sin hath abounded, he will abundantly par­don, Isai. 55. 7. Oh what would the damned give, that mercy were but possi­ble to be obtained? 'Tis great mercy that you have not sinn'd your selves be­yond the reach of mercy: But if the fa­vour of God and peace with him be neg­lected, how quickly may you be conclu­ded under sin and wrath, and your sal­vation become as impossible, as is the sal­vation of those who are in Hell?

I hope by this time your ears will be readily open to hearken to some Directi­ons, how you may have your peace with God made.

The Directions are these.

1. Be sensible of, and bewail that enmi­ty which is between God and you. You have unnaturally rebelled and risen up against your Father that made you. Those members which he formed, you have yielded as weapons of unrighteousness; those powers which he hath indued your souls with, you have employed sinfully: You have dishonoured him in your bo­dies and spirits, whereas you should have glorified him in both. You are unjustly and unreasonably the Lords enemies; what hath he done to deserve your ha­tred? for which of his kindnesses do you fight against him? But the Lord is just­ly an enemy to you, because your trans­gressions against him have been so many and so mighty. That you should have hearts alienated from such a God, so holy and gracious, and to whom you owe all that you are and have, it should make your hearts break and melt within you; and that you have engaged this God a­gainst you, should be esteemed an evil and a bitter thing, Jer. 2. 19.

2. Let your cryes be strong for peace: Resolve never to give over, till he whom [Page 161] you have provoked to be your enemy, is become your friend. If you would have an interest in the favour of God, that fa­vour must be intreated, and that with your whole heart: Psal. 119. 58. I in­treated thy favour with my whole heart; be merciful to me according unto thy word. The condemned prisoner at the bar, if there be hopes of speeding, how doth he implore the Judges mercy? The beggar, who is ready to starve for hunger, how doth he make a noise, Bread, bread, for the Lords sake, bread! And you have more cause to cry for peace with God; for if you live and dye enemies, you are ever­lastingly undone. And to hearten you to prayer, let that Scripture be consider'd, Psal. 86. 5. For thou Lord art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy un­to all them that call upon thee.

3. The mediation of Jesus Christ must be used. The Apostle tells us, That Christ came and preached to them which were far off, and to them which were nigh, Ephes. 2. 12. that is, both to the Jews and Gen­tiles: And that peace which he preach­ed, by his bloud he purchased The bloud of Christ hath a voice, which [Page 162] voice is loud, and peace is the thing which his bloud cryes for. You must expect peace no other way but by the bloud of the Cross. Believe that this bloud of Christ, the eternal Son of God, is sufficient to make an atonement for your sin; and being encouraged by the proffers and promises which he hath made in the Gospel, be sure to trust in him, to be your Advocate with the Fa­ther, and he will not fail to mediate your peace; who ever believed on him and was confounded? Christ is styled the Prince of Peace, Isai. 9. 6. which shews that he hath an uncontroulable power to make peace, when, and for whom he pleases.

4. Let the design of God in the Gospel be consider'd as matter of encouragement: which design is to reconcile the world unto himself, 2 Cor. 5 19. God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not im­puting their trespasses to them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconcilia­tion. One great thing which keeps [...]en off from God, is an unbelieving fear, that [...] is avers [...] from peace, rather forward to take veng [...]an [...] upon the sinner, then [Page 163] ready to forgive his sin. But have they, who entertain such fears, ever look'd in­to the Gospel? If the Lord were so for­ward to kill and destroy, why hath he provided a City of refuge? why did he refuse to spare his Son? why doth he proclaim himself a God abundant in loving kindness, goodness and truth, who hath mercy for thousands, and forgives iniquity, transgression and sin? The more firmly you are perswaded of his kindness and compassions, the sooner you will yield to him.

5. Lay hold upon the Lords own strength, if you would have your peace made. Con­sult the forecited place, Isai. 27. 5. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me. Though by the strength of the Lord, we may understand Christ Jesus, who is called, the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1. 24. Yet I rather think the Holy Ghost doth inti­mate to us in that place, that unless God doth draw us to himself by his own strength, we shall never close with him, but still continue at a distance and enmi­ty. Your neck is so much like an iron [Page 164] sinew, that a less strength then that of God is insufficient to bow it to his yoak. Desire therefore, that this arm may be revealed, whereby your naturally stub­born spirits may be made tractable and obedient.

6. Resolve to cover and keep nothing, whereby the Lord hath been provoked. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper. And as sin, which is the cause of war, must be forsaken, so you must leave the tents of Rebels; you must shake off your acquaintance with them that are the Lords profess'd enemies, and become companions of those that fear him.

USE III. Of Advice, to those whose peace is made.

Endeavour after an assurance of it. Be restless, while it may be question'd, whe­ther God be your friend, or whether he be your foe? His favour is a thing of so great value, of such sweetness, and will have so great an influence, as that it bet­ter deserves to be ensured then those things of the world, uncertainty about which doth so much torture the worldly minded.

Here I shall, first, Lay down some signs of that peace which is true. Secondly, Some arguments to perswade believers to endeavour after an assurance of peace.

The Signs are these.

1. True peace follows after contrition and trouble for sin. Thou art at peace; but wast thou ever troubled? if not, 'twere well if thy peace were gone, and trouble in the room of it. Thou art trou­bled at thy temporal losses, and when thy expectation from the creatures is frustrated; affliction also is troublesom, and acknowledg'd an evil, but were thine eyes open to see the evil of sin? was thy heart ever troubled for it? If guilt be made light of, if future punishment be not thought on, nor feared, if thou art unsensible that sin is a plague, and 'tis not noysom to thee, if thy offending of God be the smallest matter of a thou­sand, as long as thou feelest nothing of his hand, certainly thou wast never bro­ken, and so thy peace is not thy privi­ledg, but thy punishment. Christ was an­nointed to bind up the broken-hearted, and to comfort th [...]se who first have mourned, Isai. 61. 1. and those who have true rest [Page 166] given them, were first weary and heavy laden.

2. True peace is the fruit of the lips. Isai. 57. 9. I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near. Peace is called the fruit of the lips, partly because 'tis obtained by prayer, partly because 'tis grounded upon the Gospel which is preached to us: Where true peace is, there hath been a crying and lifting up the voice for it. Oh what importunities have been used, that the Lord would cease to be an adversa­ry? what wrestlings for his favour and friendship? This peace hath been valued above all the world, and the soul hath been contented to do any thing, to be any thing, so it may be at peace with God.

True peace is likewise grounded upon the word; 'tis a peace not of our own, but of the Lords speaking, Psal. 85. 8. I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, and to his Saints, but let them not turn again to folly. And when he speaks peace, who then can make trouble? The word dis­covers the marks and characters of such [Page 167] as are indeed reconciled unto God, and become his children; that they prize the Lord Jesus above all, 1 Pet. 2. 7. that they hunger and thirst after holiness and righteousness, Matth. 5. 6. that they love and fear, and are desirous to follow their Father, Ephes. 5. 1. And the Spirit by the Word doth work these gracious qualities and inclinations in our hearts, and discovers that he hath wrought them; and so we come to conclude that we are indeed reconciled.

3. True peace is joyned with the spiri­tual combat. The Spirit lusts against the flesh in all those who are reconciled unto God. There is a war with sin where­ever there is a peace with God. If any of our lusts, which are both the Lords enemies and our own too, are winked at, and provision is made for them that they may be fulfilled, we plainly shew we are still alienated from him. But if the re­mainders of corruption, if that evil which is present with us, be our burthen, and makes us cry out, O wretched as we are; Rom. 7. 24. and we would esteem it one of the greatest happinesses, to be ea­sed of that sin that dwells in us, this [Page 168] shews evidently, that with our minds we serve the Law of God, that we are in Christ Jesus, and there is no condemnation to us, Rom. 7. 25. and 8. 1.

I grant, that in a wicked man there may be a combat between his will and his conscience: Conscience may check and reproach him, for what his will hath a strong propension towards. But the combat between the flesh and Spirit is another thing: Here the very heart and will is renewed, holiness is longed after, sin, not only because of its guilt, but be­cause of its filth, a burthen; and the heart is desirous that conscience were more awakened, that it might exercise greater power, and cause a greater re­straint from what is evil; whereas the desire of unrenewed ones is, that consci­ence, when troubled, may be husht asleep, that so sin may be committed without any remorse.

4. True peace is inconsistent with care­less walking. A Child of God, who hath attained unto peace, if he grows loose, and begins to live at random, presently his peace withers, and conscience grudges and is unsatisfied, especially if temptati­on [Page 169] to sin, that hath more of presumption, doth prevail. Canst thou omit thy du­ty? canst thou be proud and peevish? canst thou be excessive in thy recreati­ons? canst thou be unwatchful over thy heart, and words, and wayes, and yet thy peace not at all abate? Assure thy self thy peace is but a meer delusion.

The quicknings of the Spirit may be without the comforts, but never the com­forts without the quicknings. If thou grievest the Spirit by thy lukewarmness and formality to withdraw his assistance, and to leave thee under deadness, and thy peace still remains, that peace is not the Spirits fruit, but thy own hearts pre­sumption.

Thus of the signs of peace.

Now follows the arguments to per­swade unto endeavours after assurance that your peace is made,

1. Assurance of peace will inflame your hearts with love. How will the fire kin­dle, and your hearts burn within you, when you perceive, that you, even you in particular, have an interest in that love which passes knowledge? that God hath had thoughts of kindness and mercy to­wards [Page 170] you, before the foundation of the world was laid, and that as his love is from everlasting, so to everlasting it will endure? 1 John 4. 19. We love him, sayes the Apostle, because he first loved us. And this manifestation and sense of the love of God will have the greater influence, because it usually finds us in sorrow, doubting whether ever favour will be extended towards such as we, fearing we are cast-awayes. Now when in this dole­ful darkness the light of Gods counte­nance is lifted up, and he shews his recon­ciled face, oh how do our affections work towards him! The Prodigal, who came home with a sad and doubtful mind, when he found himself in his Fathers armes, when he saw tha [...] so long absence and great exorbitancies had not extin­guish'd his Fathers love, surely the work­ings of his love towards his Father again were beyond expression.

2. Assurance of peace will fill you with joy and wonder. You will admire to see how the case is altered with you, a while ago you were strangers, now friends and favourites; a while ago you had not obtained mercy, but now you [Page 171] have obtained mercy; a while ago dead in sin, but now you have attained to the first resurrection, and so are some of those happy ones, over whom the second death hath no power; a while ago the chil­dren of wrath, and sons of death, now adopted the children of God, and the heirs of glory! Well may your hearts rejoyce, and your joy no man taketh from you. This joy is not like that of the carnal and ungodly, 'tis built upon a surer foundation, affliction cannot damp it, and the thoughts of death and judg­ment, which quite spoil the mirth of the wicked, will but highten and increase it, it being an earnest of that fulness of joy, which after dissolution will be entred into.

3. Assurance of peace will mightily en­gage you unto thankfulness. This is one reason certainly, why David is called a man after the heart of God, because he was so much in praise. And assurance will make you abound in thanksgiving. Unbelieving doubts and fears cause us to be possessed with a dumb devil, so that though our receipts are vast, our returns are small: We misconstrue mercies, and [Page 172] say, they are common to hypocrites, and that they are given in anger to us, and will serve only to increase both our sin and punishment. But when we know that our peace is made, we shall also know our interest in those blessings which are peculiar to Gods chosen ones; and as for outward mercies, they will be very much sweetned, because coming not only from the hand, but from the heart of God; and hereupon we shall be the more forward to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name, Heb. 13. 15.

4. Assurance of peace will quicken you to duty, and make you stedfast in obedience. With what forwardness will you pray, when you know you shall be heard? with what willingness will you engage in o­ther Ordinances, when you know that God will meet with you in them? When you attend upon the ministry of the Word, the Lord himself hath engaged to be your instructer; when you come to the table, he will certainly make you welcome, and will be, not only the invi­ter, but the feast likewise. Your expecta­tions [Page 173] may be justly raised, and you shall not be ashamed of them. What encou­ragement doth this afford? Add also, when you know that you are reconciled to God, and have had a sight and taste how good and gracious he is, you will cleave to him with the fuller purpose of heart; you will find so much sweetness in him, that all the delights of sin and the world, which Satan doth so much mag­nifie in his temptations, will be but cheap and mean in comparison.

5. Assurance of peace will set you a­bove the fears of affliction and of death: Then you will be able to make applicati­on of that supporting truth unto your selves, That all chastisements are from love, [...]d tend unto your holiness and profit, [...]eb. 12. 6, 10. and this will keep you from fainting and dismayedness of Spirit. Nay, death it self will rather be desired then feared, when you know it will ad­mit you into the Lords presence, from whom, while in the body, you are absent, when you know, that as soon as this earthly house of your tabernacle shall be dissolved, you shall have a building of God, [...]n house not made with hands, eternal in [...]he heavens, 2 Cor. 5. 1.

USE IV. Of Direction, how peace may be kept and maintained.

1. Let not your hearts be lifted up with pride after the Lord hath manifested him­self to you. Pride is a great enemy to peace. God revives and comforts the spi­rit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite ones, Isai. 57. 15. Those who observe the workings of their own souls, shall find, after Gods manifesting himself, that pride is commonly one of the first sins which assaults them. The Apostle, after the abundance of revelations, was in great danger of being exalted above measure; therefore the messenger of Sa­tan is sent to buffet him, that this self-exalting might be prevented. Oh do not think highly of your selves, do not cen­sure and undervalue others; the more low you are in your own eyes, your joy and peace will be the more abiding.

2. Be watchful even against little sins: These will dead the heart, and grieve the Spirit, causing him to suspend his [Page 175] sweet influences, and make way for greater. Little sins have their peculiar aggravations. How inexcusable are we when we stand with God about a small matter, and refuse to do a little for him? Mispence of a little time, a little excess in using of the creatures, a little frothi­ness of mind, the smaller stirrings of pride and passion, and such like, which are more commonly to be found in professors; you must beware of, else these lesser sins, to your cost and sorrow, will be found great enough, to interrupt and break your peace.

3. Especially take heed of gross trans­gressions which waste the Conscience. When David would needs feed upon forbidden pleasures, he lost his peace, and the joy of Gods salvation, Psal. 51. Grosser falls do break the bones, and raise a new storm in the Conscience, where before a calm was. By these you will not only cause the Lords enemies to reproach religion, but also your own hearts to reproach you. Oh therefore cry, Ʋphold me continually with thy free Spirit, and keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.

[Page 176] 4. Do the work of the Lord diligently. God doth most constantly manifest him­self to those, who most constantly seek and search for him with their whole heart, Jer. 29. 13. Never offer unto God a sacrifice, but let it have sound inwards. The Psalmist tells us, That the Lords countenance doth behold the upright, Psal. 11. ult. When we are sincere, and serve him with our whole soul, then he shews his face, and in his looks we may read his love, and through Christ his accepting of us.

5. Let your design in begging the con­tinuance of peace be this, that hereby you may be encouraged to do more for God, and to cleave the closer to him. Aim at his glory as well as your own satisfaction in this matter. Lord! I desire a continued assurance of thy love, but 'tis that I may love thee more, and be more zealous for thine honour, and labour in thy work with greater life and vigour.

6. Let it be your dayly practise to walk with God. Be not religious only by fits, this argues an heart much distemper­ed.

Here I shall give a directory how to walk every day.

1. When your eyes are first open, lift them up to God, let your hearts be well seasoned with holy thoughts and affecti­ons; they will be in the better frame all the day:

2. Allot some time for secret prayer and searching of the Scripture, twice every day at least: And servants, which are not masters of their own time, if they cannot so conveniently pray at one time, should be sure to catch hold of another opportunity.

3. Let not meditation be omitted. One quarter of an hour, at least, in thinking upon some truth, the hearing or reading of which hath a little moved you, or which doth most concern you, may be well spared.

4. Be serious in family duties, walk in in the house with a perfect heart, and conscienciously do the duties of your places and relations, because the word stands much upon these, and hereby Re­ligion is adorned.

5. Accustom your selves to thoughts of God, and let your desires be fre­quently [Page 178] ascending towards him.

6. In worldly business, remember Conscience is to be kept void of offence; take heed of injustice, defrauding, over­reaching.

7. Let not the world, when it flows into your hands, insinuate it self into your hearts.

8. Study to excell in those things which may make Religion amiable in the eyes of the world, as meekness, hu­mility, contentedness with your conditi­on, charitableness, quietness, refusing to backbite and defame any.

9. Be vigilant against the sin which doth most easily beset you, the sin of your constitution, the sin of your calling, the sin which heretofore did bear the greatest sway in you.

10. Resist temptation at the first appearing of it; start back from Satans baits, as one would do who is ready to tread upon a Serpent.

11. Let not Christian liberty degene­rate into carnal licentiousness, use not li­berty for an occasion to the flesh; remem­ber you are the Disciples of the crucified Jesus, and so in your walking there must [Page 179] be not an enmity, but a sutableness to his Cross.

12. Bad company abstain from, and be not intimate with lukewarm profes­sours; when necessitated to be with them, be jealous over your selves; never sinfully comply with, but rather reprove them.

13. Design to get ground upon some sin or other every day; every day let some progress be made in the work of mortification.

14. Observe providences, and get the good of them; let losses and crosses wean you from the world, let afflictions imbit­ter sin, and let mercies indear the Father of them.

15. Rest not in Ordinances, but con­sider you must be reckoned with how you have improved them; If in these you neither meet with God, nor miss him, 'tis a bad sign.

16. Keep a watch before the door of your lips; oaths, falshood, vanity, filthi­ness, your communication must be free from. Be also swift to hear, and slow to speak, for in multitude of words there wanteth not sin.

[Page 180] 17. If you fall, lye not where you are fallen, cry immediately for pardon and healing; let the wound, while green, be cured before it fester.

18. Have daily recourse to Christ, to cover the sins of daily incursion; you have as much need of daily pardon, as you have of dayly bread.

19. Live as Strangers and Pilgrims; look upon the World as your Inn, and Heaven as your Home, and act as within view of Death, and Judgment, and Eter­nity.

20. At evening reflect how you have spent the day. An Heathen of old gave this notable advice,


Which may be thus Englished.

Never let sleep, which senses tyes,
At any night close up thine eyes,
Before the actions of the day
Thou thrice and seriously doest weigh;
Where have I sinn'd? what have I done?
What duty have I let alone?

If you would walk after this manner, how perfect might your peace be? and how much might your passage be sweet­ned through this vale of tears?

I have done with the third Doctrine: I shall be very brief in the two which remain.

Doct. 4. The fourth Doctrine is this, That when sinners will not see, they are smitten many times with spiritual blind­ness, and the things of their peace are in a way of judgment hid from them.

The Lord hides the things of their peace from them several wayes.

1. He causes his Spirit to withdraw: 'Tis the Spirits work to enlighten dark understandings; but if the Spirit be gone, how great must the darkness be?

2. The Lord gives men up to the per­verse reasonings and counsels of their own hearts; and then a thousand absurdities will, by the carnal mind, be imagined in the doctrine which is according to god­liness; and how burthensome will the practise of godliness be made to ap­pear?

[Page 182] 3. The Lord permits Satan to blind them; and by his means their hatred of light, and of the works of light, is very much augmented; and hereupon, either more abominable prophaneness, or strong delusions follow.

4. The Lord in his providence causes several things to happen, which sinners stumble at, and by which they are more confirmed in their prejudices against the Word, and in their infidelity. The righ­teous are suffer'd sometimes to fall into sin, and many times into great distress: The wicked often prosper in the world, and live and dye in a false peace: And upon this the ungodly are more darkned and hardned.

5. In all this the Lord acts as a Judge, and intends to punish their refusing to be enlightned, and yet he is not the Author of sin: He is light, 1 John 1. 5. and no darkness can come from him. All igno­rance and mistake is from corrupted na­ture, being wrought upon by the Prince of darkness.

Neither is the justice of God to be quarrelled at for dealing thus with them that reject illumination.

[Page 183] 1. The merit of their sin is great. Nescire est ignorantis, nolle scire est super­biae; there is abundance of pride in them that are unwilling to be informed, and a great love to evil deeds, and also mighty ingratitude, for light is a very great pri­viledge.

2. This punishment is very sutable; What more equal, then that those, who would not be enlightned by the Spirit of the Lord, and directed into the paths of peace, should be suffered to be beguiled by Satan and their own spirits, and so be misguided and lost for ever?

Ʋse 1. Take heed of sinning against the light, for fear it be put out in obscu­rity. The clearer the light shines, the more it aggravates the works of dark­ness. Let not the lusts of your hearts be cherished and fulfilled, lest the light of your heads be hereby extinguished.

Ʋse 2. Do not unwarrantably sur­mise, that the things of your peace are in judgment hid from you. All blindness is not judicial. If thou wouldst fain know the will of God and do it, God upon thy asking will give wisdom libe­rally without upbraiding, Jam. 1. He [Page 184] will not fail by his Spirit to instruct thee, who hath made thee thus willing to be instructed.

Doct. 5. The last Doctrine follows, When souls are left under darkness, their state is wretched and deplorable.

Consider, with such

1. God is extreamly angry. When he punisheth sin with sin he is most of all displeased; and truly he cannot punish it with a worse evil then it self is. In temporal judgments, 'tis to be hoped, the Lord aims at our reformation and a­mendment; but when he gives up any to blindness of mind, and a reprobate sense, 'tis a sign his love and mercy have done with them. As by the Spirit of God believers are sealed up to the day of re­demption, so by the spirit of flumber the unbelievers are sealed up to the day of destruction.

2. With such Satan doth what he pleases; he leads them along, and how little do they perceive whither they are going? how do means make them worse? how bold are they in sin? how quickly are they like to fill up the measure of [Page 185] their iniquity, and grow rotten ripe for vengeance? and when that vengeance overtakes them, then they will weep o­ver themselves, as Christ doth over Je­rusalem, and too late lament their own misery, when 'twill be impossible to have it removed.

Ʋse 1. Earnestly intreat, that this may never be yours, which was the punish­ment of Jerusalem: And if you would not lye under the like plague, you must not be guilty of the like sin, namely, re­jecting Christ, and the Gospel of peace.

Ʋse 2. Pitty those who tread in Je­rusalems steps, and provoke the Lord to close their eyes; tell them of their dan­ger, which they themselves do not per­ceive; awaken them out of their Lethar­gie, if it be possible, before it become past remedy.

Ʋse 3. If the Lord, when others are blinded, is become both light and salva­tion to any of you, break out into praise. The light is marvellous which you are called to, and marvellous should be your joy. You have that eye-salve, with which few eyes are annointed, you have that Spirit which the world doth not receive. [Page 186] You were born blind as well as others, but a miracle of grace hath been wrought upon you; the vail is taken off, and you see the Lord, and your inte­rest in him, how should all that is within you bless him? This present light, where­with you are visited, is, as it were the dawning of the day of glory, and a cer­tain forerunner of the light that's ever­lasting.



The First Part. PAge 5. line 13. for Him read Me; p. 7. l. 20. for deadful r. dreadful; p. 10. l. 11. f. nelp r. help; p. 12. l. 22. f. hepless r. helpless; p. 22. l. 17. del. to be; p. 41. l. 5 f. de r. be; p. 46. l 12. f. wayes r. wages; p. 86. l. 6. f. vow r. voice,

The Second Part. PAge 4. line 16. for know read knew; p. 5. l. 19. f. eyes r. eye; p. 15 l. 7 f. thlngs r. things; p. 16. l. 1. f sting r. stung; p. 33. l. 4. f. [...] r. [...]; for [...] r. [...]; p. 35. l. 15. f. vanity r. iniquity; p. 38. l. 26. f questioned r quickned; p. 43. l. 13. f. sit r. sat; p 60 l. 16. f. [...] r. [...]; p. 69. l. 27. f. lethurgy r. lethargie; p. 74 l. 16. f. deep r. sleep; p 80. l. 9. after not r. rest; p. 107 l. 23. f mastered r. unaf­fected; p. 128. l 7. f. cruclfied r. crucified; p. 149. l. 7. f. should r. shall; p. 151. l. 15. f. Nehem. r Nahum.

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