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A SERIOUS EXHORTATION TO THE PRESENT and SUCCEEDING Generation IN NEW ENGLAND;

Earnestly calling upon all to Endeavour that the Lords Gracious Presence may be continued with Posterity.

Being the Substance of the LAST SERMONS PREACHED

By Eleazar Mather, late Pastor of the Church in Northampton in New England.

Judg. 2. 10, 17.
And also that Generation were gathered to their fathers, and there arose another Generation after them which knew not the Lord nor yet the works which he had done for Israel—They turned quickly out of the war, which their fathers walked in, obeying the Commandments of the Lord; but they did not so
Psal. 78 3 4 5.—,
Our fathers have told us—We will not hid them from their children shewing the Generation to come the praises of the Lord. He appointed a Law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children, that the Generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children.

CAMBRIDGE: Printed by S. G. and M. J. 1671.

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TO THE CHURCH AND INHABITANTS OF Northampton in N. E.

Beloved in the Lord Jesus,

How the gracious Presence of God did accompany your faith­full, and now blessed Pastor, during the time of his Mini­stration (even for the space of Eleven years) in the Gospel amongst you, it needs not, (nor is it meet) for me to say, your selves having been Witnesses thereof, and many amongst you being the seals of his Ministry. I have heard it from sundry of you, that in his latter time you observed more then ordinary of God to be in him and with him: In which respect it may be presumed, that any thing of his will be wel­come to you, our more especially his last Labours. Wherefore the ensuing Sermons are commended to your serious and practical perusall.

What is here Published, is done from your Pastors Notes, as left written with his own hand, which indeed come every way short of what the same Sermons were when delivered vivâ Voce. Had himself emitted them, they would have been farre more accurate. Nevertheless, I was willing that these should come forth, because the Matter therein contained is weighty and Spiritual, and the Manner of handling serious and searching; and partly because they were his last Sermons It is said, 2 Sam.22. 1. Now these be [the last words] of David the sweet singer in Israel: Remarkable words they are, because the last words. Some observe, that the Swan a little before death sings the most sweetly. These Sermons are the Cygneae (con­ciones) Cantiones (as famous Whickers last Sermon it not unfitly styled) the Swan-like Songs of him that was once a sweet Singer in your Israel. [Page] The dying words of a Father are to be much remembred: Behold, here are the dying (and yet living) Sermons of him that was your Spiritual Fa­ther.

But especially I was inclined to Publish what is here presented to you, because the dying Counsel which my Reverend Father ( [...]) left with me, was, that I should seriously endeavour the good of the Rising Generation in this Country (a) See my Fathers Life, p. 27. What my Father said in the particulars and circumstances of it, I communicated to my Brother, (a Brother he was to me by Nature, as well as in the Lord, which last is indeed, as the (b) Fraters in seculo fratres in Domino, quae posterior major est & melior fraternitas. Ambros. [...] Chrys. Ancient observes, the greatest and best Fraternity) which occasioned him to Preach these Sermons, and causeth me now to expose them to publick view, that so you especially that are of the Rising Generation, not onely in Northampton, but in other places in this Country, may (if it be the will of God to bless Endeavours that way) be awakened to consider the things that belong to your peace, and that before they are hid from your eyes. However, what is here done shall turn for a Testimony.

There was another Sermon intended by the Author, which should have been directory to those of the Rising Generation, as addition all to the Motives which concern them: But (as Elihu speaketh in another case) at this my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place, that those who are the spes gregis, the Hope of the succeeding Generation, should by the Lord be snatched away, when they are in the midst of their dayes, and also in the midst of faithfull endeavors for the good of their Gene­rations. That blessed Man Mr. Cotton in his sermons on Psa. 116.15 preached up­on occasion of the death of M John Oliver. unto whom New-England doth under God owe it self more then unto any man, was much moved when but one Mi­nister, being young in years, was taken away by death, Because (said he) it portends evil to the Rising Generation. What shall we say then, when not one, but many such are taken away? Is there not evil to come? Is it nothing, that besides former Strokes, which have been exceeding awfull and tremendous, the last year, within the space of a Twelve-moneth, no less then Eight persons were taken, that were to our Israel as the Chariots and the Horsemen thereof? Is it nothing that since that, even this Year also, of those in the Ministry amongst our selves, a greater number then that have been near unto death? Oh that I might prove a false Prophet when I often say, The Gospel I fear is going, the Lord Jesus is departing from these Costs. But it will be well if Divine (c)Vide his Poems of the Church Mili­tant. Herberts words prove not oraculous, viz. That the Sun of the Gospel which is come into these Western parts of the World, shall return again from hence. Will the Lord do any thing, and not reveal it unto his servants the Prophets; Our Prophets have foretold us of these dayes. To suppress what some of late upon Death-beds have expressed: Our Prophets and our Fathers have fore­warned us of what is like to come. Renowned Hooker would many times express his fears, that God would punish the wanton spirit of Profes­sors in New-England towards Magistrates and Ministers, with the loss and want of able men in both Orders. Is not this fulfilling? Some, it [Page] is true, that have too much of that spirit which was in the Wilderness of old, when it was said, You Moses and Aaron have killed the people of the Lord, think that God hath taken away his Servants in wrath to them, and in mercy to those that survive. But if it be so, how then cometh it to pass, that breaches are not made up again? There have been many bereaved Congregations of late; Either the Lord raiseth up no Supply at all for them, or it is long first, or it is in such a way as causeth many sad thoughts of heart. Surely these things proclaim aloud, that there is wrath in Heaven against us, if we turn not to him that smiteth us Shall we not be afraid when the Trumpet hath been blown? Not onely the Trumpet of Gods Works, but of his Word also hath sounded loud in our ears. Shall it be forgotten that the Lord did long since stir up the Spirit of that holy Man of God Mr. Shepard, to Preach many Sermons from 2 Chron. 12 8? There are solemn Passages in those Sermons, too many here to be mentioned. And elswhere the same Author hath awfull Expressions. In one place be thus speaketh, (d) On the Parable of the Virgins, p. 96. O New-England, New-England! I dare not yet tell thee what Christ Jesus hath to say to thee. In another place thus; (e) In Sound Believer, p. 250 first Edit. Verily I am afraid such a dismall night is towards—such fore Afflictions of Famine, War, Blood, Mortality, [Death of Gods pre­cious Servants especially] that the Lord will fill the hearts of all Chur­ches, Families, Christians, that shall be saved in those dayes, with such rendings, tearings, shakings, anguish of spirit, as scarce never more in the worst days of our forefathers, & that this shall continue until the remnant that escape shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Blessed be the face and feet of that Minister that shall come unto us in Christs Name. And again, (f) Ibid. p. 346. Verily the time draw­eth on, wherein the Lord will come for fruits from his Vineyard, and if he findes it not, assuredly he will not be beholding to us for obe­dience, [He can raise his glory out of other people, and carry his Gospel to them] who shall bring forth the fruits of it. [The Lord will shortly lay his Ax to the Root of our Tree] and if we will not serve the Lord in this good Land, in the abundance of peace and mercy, we shall serve our enemies in hunger, cold, and nakedness. Thus he. And (g) Mr Norton in the Life of Mr. Cotton, p. 46, 47. an­other that was once a famous Seer in our Israel, had solemn thoughts con­cerning this thing, who faith, Now our Candlesticks cannot but lament in darkness, when their Lights are gone; and the thrones of David mourn, that so many of many of our late Worthies can be seen there no more; our desireable men that remain, remove from us, and few there are that return. And as for those that rise up amongst our selves, such is the portion of this Jerusalem, (that though for her time she hath not been an unfruitful Mother, yet) they are but few that will guide her amongst all the sons whom she hath brought forth, yea very few that take her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up. What the Counsel of the Lord is concerning the bereaved Churches of New-England, is a solemn and awful Meditation. The non-consider­ing [Page] that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come, was a sym­ptomatical and threatning incogitancy in Isaiahs time, &c.

Now if the Lord should be provoked to deprive succeeding Generations of the Gospel, New-England which hath been a Goshen, will become the darkest place under Heaven, Yet I cannot but here further take notice of the weighty words which are fallen from a judicious Pen writing to a people that once enjoyed great and precious Means of grace; Such a lamentable condition (faith (h) Dr. Tuckney in his Epistle on Mr. Cottons Book or Eccles. he) hath been and may be the lot of such pra­ces and people which God hath sometimes highly honoured, when they grow fat and wanton together Beth-el hath proved Beth-even. In after-time we finde young profane Mockers in Bethel, and scornful Neuters in Penuel. Go to Shiloh: Think of the sometimes glorious Churches of Asia: As Empires and Kingdomes, so particular Chur­ches have their periods. I have sometimes on purpose visited some places where God hath before planted his Church, and a faithful Mi­nistry, to see if I could discern any footsteps and remembrances of such a mercy, and so they were all grown over with thorns, and net­tles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof is bro­ken down: and which is more sad, in some of them never, in others very hardly built up again; God proving severe when we grow wan­ton, and so as he removeth the Candlestick, when we play or fight by the light of the Candle set up in it. So he is very hardly induced to set it up again in that place where it hath been wantonly or fro­wardly put out. There are more hopes of recovering a particular person fallen, by virtue of an Everlasting Covenant made with him; but a particular Church or people (unless it be that of the Jews, who in the great lubile after their Rejection shall again return to their former possessions) cannot claim the like priviledge of such a Covenant. The Ark never returned to the same place from whence it was in a way of judgement removed. And the glory of the Lord, when after its gradual removes was at last quite gone from the first Temple; was not fully restored in the second, untill Christs first coming, nor will it be in their Rejection till his second. I think there will be found very few instances of Gods Presence and Ordinan­ces long enjoyed by a people, and after abused and rejected, if there­upon lost, easily (if at all) restored. The Faith once delivered to the Saints, is not wont to be either received or lost the second time, &c. Haec ille. I omit here the Conjecture of Learned (i) See his let­ters to D. Twyss & conjectur a de Gogo & Magogo Mede, that the Apocalyptical Gog and Magog shall arise out of America. Our making or (k) See a dy­ing Testimony against this evil in the en­suing Sermons p. 24, 25. difference between the Children of the Church, and the Chil­dren of Infidels, hath a direct tendency thereunto.

Now Mercy forbid that these things should ever be verified upon New­England. Yet it must needs be acknowledged that the Gospel hath not been valued as it ought to have been.

But (Beloved) although I have thus spoken, I intend not thereby any re­flection [Page] upon you who were the peculiar Charge of him whose dying words are thus received before you. You have approved your selves an obedient people unto them who have had the rule over you. Only it remaineth Brethren, that you be stedfast in the Faith and Order of the Go­spel, which your blessed Pastor did from the Lord instruct you in. Re­member also his Conversation. Some of your selves observed, that in his latter years he grew exceedingly in the grace of God, which caused you to fear and say that you should not enjoy him long, because you saw that he was ripe for Heaven.

Sic Rosa sic Violae primâ moriuntur in herbâ,
Candida nec toto lilia mense nitent.

Follow him as he followed Christ: Then as you were his Joy here, you will be his Crown, when you shall see him again in another and a better World. I rest,

Yours in the Lord Jesus, Increase Mather.
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A WORD TO THE Present and Succeeding Generation IN NEW-ENGLAND.

1 Kings 8. 57.The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us.

IN the beginning of this Chapter we have the Historical Relation of a General Assembly of the Representative Body of Israel, the end whereof was the bringing in the Ark of God into its proper place; from ver. 1, to 6. This occasion Solomon improves unto the manifestation of his Piety towards God, and Respect towards Israel; as will be evi­dent by taking of the several parts of this Chapter, which are four:

1. His Benedictory Oration, from ver. 14, to 22.

2. His famous Prayer, from ver. 22, to 54.

3. The Blessing of his People, to ver. 62.

4. His Festivals, or offering Sacrifice, from ver. 62, to the end. The Text falls within the third of these, soil. His Bles­sing: Where we have

First, A thankful Acknowledgement of Gods mercy, ver. 56.

Secondly, A renewed Prayer for Gods Presence, in this verse. So that this Verse is an earnest Petition, expressed

1. Affirmatively, by way of Supplication.

2. Negatively, by way of Deprecation. In the former we have 1. The Petition it self, The Lord our God be with us. [Page 2] 2. The Illustration, As he was with our fathers. In the latter there is a gemination of the same Request, by divers expres­sions importing the same thing, Let him not leave us, nor for­sake us. And all this is to note the weightiness of the thing prayed for, and earnestness of desire that it might be granted. Whence the Doctrine to be observed from the words, is

Doct.

That the Continuance of the Lords gracious Presence with a People, from fathers to children after them, is a special favour of God, and much to be desired by all that are cordial to the weal of the Israel of God. Or thus: That the Lord would be graciously present with the succeeding Generation, as he was with their fathers, not leaving nor forsaking of them, is the great desire of those that wish well to the Lords people.

See some Scriptures for this.

That the Lords gracious Presence is a special favour, and much to be desired, see Gen. 26.3. This we see was Moses his great request, Exod. 33. 15. q. d. what is an Angel without thee? what is Canaan without thee? See also Josh. 1. 5. and Judg. 6.16. And that the succession of the Lords Presence from one Generation to another, is especially to be desired, see 1 Chron. 22.10. and 28.20. Psal 90.16.

A few words briefly for the Explication of this Doctrine: Application being the main thing intended.

Quest. 1. What is meant by the Lords being with them?

Answ. First, there is an Essential Presence of God, whereby he is every where; not excluded out of Hell, Psal. 139.7. this is not the thing that Solomon prayes for here.

Secondly, there is a Gracious Presence of God; and this is the thing here desired: and this contains as much good as pos­sibly can be desired; universality, fulness, perpetuity of good is in the Lords gracious Presence. This in the inchoation of it is the beginning of Heaven, in the perfection of it tis the compleatment of Heaven. Now God is graciously present divers wayes.

1. By his Providence, there is a special Providence of God towards his People; the Lord doth in a special manner see and [Page 3] take notice of his people, as here ver. 29. His eyes are open upon his Temple, and upon his Church continually, 2 Chron. 16.9. preserving and providing for them, Gen.28.20. & 48. 15, 16. Heb.13.5, 10. and protecting of them, Isa.43.2. and comforting of them, Chap. 41.17.

2.By his Ordinances, whether in Church or Common­wealth. In this respect was Solomons Petition: The Temple was a visible Testimony of Gods Presence, as here ver. 13. An house for the Lord to dwell in, in setled place for him to abide in; and therefore the name of that place where Ordinances are set up, and managed with power and glory, is said to be Jeho­vah-Shammah, Ezek. 48.35. The works of God are seen in the Sanctuary, Psal. 68.24.

3. By his Spirit, working grace in the heart: there is the in-dwelling Presence of God in the Heart, as in a Temple; Rev. 3.20. Sup with them, i. e. keep a continual feast in their hearts.

Quest. 2. What is here meant by fathers?

Ans. In generall; All Superiours, and Ancestors. There are fathers by natural generation; immediate, as Abraham to Isaac or mediate. In a word, all Progenitors, Deut. 10.28. Fathers by age, 1 Joh. 2.13. Fathers by office, in a Civil sense, 2 Kings 5.13. and in a Spiritual sense, 2 Kings 13.14. Those that are instrumental in regeneration of sinners, are Spiritual fathers to them, 1 Cor. 4.13.

Quest. 3. What is meant by leaving or forsaking a people, which is the contrary to be with us?

Ans. These two words note the same thing; one and the same thing is implied under these divers expressions: but the word is doubled, to signifie earnestness of desire not to be left, q. d. Do not let any thing befall us, that may look like leaving or forsaking. To the more full understanding of what is intended hereby, it will be convenient to shew the various acceptations of these two exprrssions. 1. Leaving, is sometimes taken for committing to anothers trust, Gen. 39.6 q. d. Let us not be com­mitted unto others. 2. To desist, or break off from a thing, Joh. 9.27. so here; q. d. Do not break off former kindness: [Page 4] That faithfulness and mercy that fathers had experience of, do not out a stop to it at their children, but let there be a succes­sion of grace to their Successors. 3. To cast off by way of contempt, Prov. 3.3. Hos. 4.11. And for that word Forsake, it signifies liberty or freedome in leaving, 1 Sam. 9.5. So here; when the Lord gives over to care for a people, and suffers them to do as they will, and shift as they can, then he forsaketh. 2. To loosen, or break in pieces: Isa 33.3. When tacklings are loosened, and the Lord sets a people adrift as it were, and lets them go off to Sea, then doth he forsake. 3. To pluck up and break down, Isa. 168. The word there is the same that is in the Text. 4. To scatter, Judg. 15.8. So here Solomon prayes that the Lord would not suffer them to be scattered.

Quest. 4. Why should we thus pray? and why in special for the Lords Presence to succeeding Generations?

Reas. 1. Because of the good that is in the enjoyment of Gods Presence, even all good, Gen. 17.1 Psal.30.5. & 63.3. Have him, and have all: A man cannot want light if he have the Sun, nor water if he have the Fountain, nor any good if he have God, Psal. 23.4.

Reas. 2. Because of the evil that ensueth if God leave: Woe to such, Hos.9.12. Woe to them when I depart from them; the Lord is angry indeed when it is thus. A Parent is angry when he casts his childe out of doors. Deut.31.17 Mine anger shall be kindled, and I will forsake them, many evils, shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, be­cause our God is not amongst us? There is no help in Heaven for us, if God leave us: This is the bitterness and venome of all Gods Judgements. As every affliction is sweetened with Gods, presence, so the Lords dereliction imbitters every affliction: this reacheth the heart, Psal. 42.10. yea if God leave a people, then they are sure to be given up to utter ruine. If the Soul leave the Body, it becometh loathsome, and must be buried: so it is here. To see a Soul forsaken of God is a doleful sight, a flood of vengeance then breaks in, and there is no bank to keep it out: for if God leave all Creatures leave too, so that men shall finde no succour or favour elshwere; Then delivered into [Page 5] hands of Enemies, 2 Kings 21.14. Psal. 21.11. yea, then men will be a terrour to themselves, 1 Sam. 28.15. In a word, to be cast out of Gods presence is the beginning of Hell, Matth. 25.41.

Moreover, there are special Reasons why the Lords Presence should be desired to succeeding Generations, which shall be but mentioned.

First, from the less to the greater: we desire other bles­sings for Children, much more should we desire this, you de­sire to leave an inheritance to your Children, Prove. 13.22. & 15.14. there is much more reason to desire that they might inherit the Lords blessing.

Secondly, Because they have as much need of the Lords Pre­sence as their fathers, their fathers could not live and glorifie God in their generation, had not the Lord been with them, no more can those that succeed them, there is like ground to de­sire for the one as for the other, in respect of need, that one hath as well as other: 1. In respect of the weightiness of the work; the work of one Generation is no less then of an­other, which is to serve God, and advance the Interest of Reli­gion. 2. In respect of Instruments that carry on the work; Alas! poor feeble creatures, little children, and what can chil­dren do in Family-affairs? 1 Kings 3.7. 3. In respect of Ad­versaries, difficulties: Not age, but alwayes there is much to hinder the work of God, within are the same corruptions, Pride, Unbelief, and without are the same worse enemies; nay, later ages are and will be worse then former, 2 Tim 3.1.

Thirdly, Because this is the Generation-work of every one, to pray and labour that the Lords Presence may be with suc­ceeding Generations.

Fourthly, Such as do not thus, will incurre the brand of Apostates, and be cast off from God for ever for casting off God, 2 Chron. 15.2.

Fifthly, It makes much for the glory of God, that the gra­cious Presence of the Lord should be continued from fathers unto children, therefore this is much to be desired and prayed for. But to apply this.

[Page 6] Use 1. Hence take notice what bottom and foundation it is that we stand on; all good is wrapped up in this, The Lords being with us. Can we say that we are safe because of former mercies? The Lord hath been with us in dayes of old, hath blessed our fathers, and are we therefore secure? No verily, he that hath been with them, may leave us; he that hath been a Saviour in former Generations, may become a wayfaring man, as a man astonied that cannot save, Jer.14.8, 9. If we forsake him, he will forsake us, notwithstanding all former en­gagements. It is not what God hath done heretofore, that will make us a happy people at present: it's the wisdome of a peo­ple to discern the Lords dispensation, Psal. 107.43. and an heavy sad Judgement it is, not to discern the Lords departing, Hos.2. Are you like to have good dayes? Are things like to go well in your time? Is Truth and Peace like to be in your dayes? If the Lord be with you, as he was with your fathers, then it will be, otherwise not. Oh therefore learn to know the footsteps of God in your own Souls, for the Lord draws near by his Spirit, and departs first by the Spirits departing; therefore consider of this, have you as much of God as your fathers had?

Use II. What are we to think of them that never prayed such a prayer as this is? Verily they bear little love to the place or people where they live, that never made this request. Many pray for a good Harvest, outward temporal mercies, but not for the Lords Presence: yea, some there are that are not sensible of the Lords departing from them, but if they have outward Comforts, all is well; others care not for Gods Pre­sence, Job 21.14. A miserable frame this is: for, They that are far from the Lord shall perish, Psal.73.26.

Use III. Take notice of the Presence of God, how he doth come or go, approach near, or draw off from us. If this be the great thing to be desired, then it is the duty of all to ob­serve, what grounds of hopes, what of fears, respecting the Lords being with us, as in dayes of old. Much of the Lords Presence hath been shewed unto this people in these Ends of the Earth, Deut 32.2, 10, 11. We may truly say with the Church, Psal.44.1, 2. We have heard with our ears, O God our fathers [Page 7] have told us, what works thou didst in their dayes, in times of old, how thou didst, &c. It stands all to consider (both such of for­mer Generations, that are yet surviving, and those of this other Generation, that are succeeding in the room of their fathers) What is God with us as in times past? God was with them, and is he with us as he was with them? Let us view the footsteps of God, and mark whether the Lord be with us as in dayes of old. And for that end I shall spread before you some Signs of the Lords leaving a People. And the first is this.

First Sign. When the Lord gives up a people to a slight spirit, not minding the Lords Presence, whether with them, or farre off from them: Surely the Lord cannot be very near unto that people, that are not sensible of it. The presence of Gods grace is a very evident sensible thing, and therefore if men feel not this, nor mourn not for the want of it, it is a symptome the Lord is withdrawn. Hence the Lord warns his people, Jer. 6.8. Be instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; if unsensible, and unmindful, I will be gone further and fur­ther from you, Jer. 26. when people are left to a regardless heart, respecting the tokens of the Lords displeasure against them, Hos. 7.9. Gray hairs are here and there upon them, and they know it not; feel other things leave them, but not the Lord. It is not with them as it was wont to be in respect of Trade, the fruits of the Earth, &c. this they take notice of, but take no notice how it is with them in respect of the Lords Presence. Jer 44.17, 18. Then we had plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil; [...] since wanted all things, have been consumed by the sword, and [...] the famine: They take notice of outward plenty, and outward scarcity, of abundance and plenty respect­ing things of this life, but as to the Lords Presence with them, not a word spoken of that. As mens hearts upon serious con­sideration of the Lords nearness to, or removal from them, are affected or not affected therewith, so is the Lord answerably abiding with, or learning of a People. The Lord is farre gone, when there is no enquiry whether he be gone or no. Oh what cause of awakening upon this account? What is the stirring Enquiry of men in these dayes? What is the solemn Enquiry [Page 8] that passeth from man to man, from Plantation to Plantation from Generation to Generation? Is this the Enquiry of the old and gray-headed, Oh, is the Lord with us as he was wont to be? Is this the demand of the Rising Generation, Have we as much of the Presence of God, as our fathers before us had? Do we live as near, are we as much acquainted with God? Is the same Spirit poured out upon us that was on them?

2. When the Lord takes away the chief Instruments and Means of his Presence, and gracious Blessing to a People. When men have a minde to depart, and remove their dwelling, they will send away their Plate, and such things as are of greatest worth and price with them; so here: Is not the Lord packing up the chief Goods he hath, and removing them away, when he takes away Props and Pillars? this declares that he hath left the house, and cares not much though it tumbles down, Isa. 3. 1, 3, 8. When Ordinances are gone, and they that should dispense them gone, this is a sign that God himself is gone, 2 Chron. 15.2. A Generall when he gives order to remove his Standard, it is an evidence that he himself is resolved to go thence; so it is here: As such are pledges of the Lords Presence, so their re­moval, especially when there are not others of the like grace and holiness to stand up, and fill their places, declare that the Lord is upon his departure. It went full ill with Israel when Joshua, and the Elders that out-lived Joshua were gathered to their fathers. It was a true and weighty speech of one, viz. That the Deaths of godly Elders, oft proves Deaths-day of Reli­gion, or at least the day of Deaths wound to Religion. Its both a sign and an occasion of degeneracy, and so of the Lords Spirit departing from a people. There is a special hand of Gods Pro­vidence exercised in the decease of his Worthies; It is either in great wrath, or in great mercy: If it awaken not to a Spirit of Mourning and Supplication, unfeigned and universal Re­pentance, its a sure sign its in wrath, and speaks nothing but woe to that people. Isa. 57.1. The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart, and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. When the Kings special Favourites are dismissed from Court, [Page 9] its a token the King intends to remove from that place, where his Majesty was wont to reside: So when God dismisseth his righteous ones, it is a sign that he himself will be gone ere long.

3. When outward prosperity is unsanctified, when the abounding of temporal blessings is accompanied with the abounding of sin. Though prosperity in it self be of that nature, that it is hard to judge of love or hatred, presence or absence of God, with or from a people thereby; yet as it is attended or accompanied, so it is evidential, though not in it self, yet in the effects and con­comitants, and consequents of it: when prosperity falls on a people that have learned to want as well as to abound; when creatures are means to convey divine favour from God, and hearty obedience unto God, then they are signs of the Lords presence with a people, Joel 2.26. But when men have prospe­rity, outward riches, and know not what to do with them, be­sides making gods of them, this is a sign that the Lords gra­cious presence is not among a people, when men lose Religion in the world, and what they get-in temporals they lose in Spi­rituals, Psal. 106.15. Outward prosperity is a worm at the root of godliness, so that Religion dies when the World thrives, Deut. 28.47. & 32.15. There is sometimes a palpable difference as to Holiness, between a low under state, and a flourishing thriving condition: for the former, see Zeph. 3.11. for the latter, see Hos 13.6. Oh consider, the time was when less of the world, but was there not more of Heaven? less Trading, Buying, Selling, but more Praying more watching over our own hearts, more close walking; less plenty, and less iniquity; men lay aside old Prayer, are almost afraid to put up the New-England Prayer, Lord keep me poor, and keep me humble. In a word, if I were to point out a people from whom God is going, by one sure Character, it should be this, Such people as can make up that they want in God, with the presence of the Creature; can stop the crannies, and fill empty places of the Heart, with Creatures and Creature-comforts: they have not so much as they were wont to have, yet can fill up the room of God with worldly delights; though God be absent, yet if they [Page 10] can get more of the world, that serves turn, Jer. 2.13. Hence mens hearts say, How shall I live without my State, Honour, Peace, Friendship? but not, How shall I live without God?

4. When a Spirit of Division and Contention in matters of Gods Worship, is the Spirit of the Times, and thence Religion turns into Faction, that is an evidence that the Lord is a leaving of a people. The Lord cares not to dwell a shaking totter­ing house long: A Spirit of Love and Unity is an evidence of the Lords presence; God is love, and where love rules, God dwells, 1 Joh. 4.16. Where Brethren live together in unity, there the Lords commands the blessing, even life for evermore, Psal.133.1, 3. Unity keeps God amongst a people, 2 Cor. 13. 11. but when Societies crack in pieces, room is made for God himself to be gone: What father loves to dwell among fighting and quarrelling children? His voice to such is, I'le be gone untill you agree. When a House is a-fire, what wise man will continue therein? Again, a Spirit of Contention is an evidence of Gods anger and displeasure against a people, Lam. 4.16. and speaks ruine each to other, Judg, 9.20, 23. Numb. 21.28, 29. especially when a blessing is taken away from the means of healing, Jer. 14.18. Hence this evil follows upon such division, that Reli­gion is turned into Faction, Godliness lyes in Parties and Siding, and in this and that particular Apprehension. As Jehu de­stroyed the house of Ahab, and the Worshippers of Baal, out of a factious Spirit, and thence measured all Religion according to his own factious Spirit, 2 Kings 10.15, 16. And thus it was in Christs time, there was a division touching matters of Reli­gion, some for one way, and some for another, and thus con­tending about Circumstances, they lost the Substance. In a word, when men become most irreligious in their Religion (I cannot speak it nor you hear it with grief of heart enough) Religion is the occasion of our Contentions and breach of Peace.

5. When the Lord withholds the efficacious and victorious opera­tions of his Spirit from his own Ordinances, that though men have them plentifully dispensed, yet they are but as a dead letter, they are the words and breath of men onely, without life to their Souls: for as on the contrary, no surer pledge of the Lords presence [Page 11] with a people, then when the Spirit accompanies the Ordinan­ces, and makes them effectual for the good of Souls: when the Lord is at the heels of Messenger, and striketh home to the heart of poor creatures, that see God himself in Ordinances, 1 Cor. 14.25. this is a sign the Lord is with them: so when they are continued to men, but the Spirit is not in them, they have them, but no God in them; when the Lord absents him­self from those set meetings for people to meet him in, now its undeniable the Lord is leaving such a people. But when is this, you will say, what the efficacy and overcoming power of the Spirit is withheld from Ordinances? Answ. This is matter of great weight, and therefore I shall a little stay upon it, and shew you when it is, in these specialties.

1. When mens hearts are not stirred, and quickned, and warmed by them, when the Word is lodged onely in the Porch, and ne­ver cometh into the House: Men get something to talk of, and hold up a Profession in the world, and bear up the Name of Religion withall; but their Hearts are not wrought upon: There are not suitable Impressions upon mens Hearts, to the Notions that men have in their Heads; for the Word comes in power, when it passes through all outsides, and enters into the heart, Psal. 45.5. Heb. 4.12. A discerner of thoughts and in­tents of the heart, makes the heart naked; so è contra, when the Word is without power and virtue on the Souls of men, when God is not in it, when the Word is light without heat or life, as the Sun under a Cloud, it warms not the Earth. Saints are wont to say of the Word, By that I have been quickened, Psal. 119. But when the Word is like a cold fire, that men sit by and finde no warmth, surely the Spirit of God is not there, for the Spirit quickeneth, 1 Cor.3.6. Joh.6.63. If Christ speak, then there's life.

2. When Ordinances are onely occasions and means of disquiet, and of disrest unto men, but have no further efficacy upon them, but to cause them to go with galled and condemned Conscien­ces; some have not so much as this, live and die in Security, having not one awakened thought all their dayes: But not many that live under the dispensation of the Gospel, but the [Page 12] Word is to them at sometimes, as Rev. 11.0 a Word that did torment them that dwell on the Earth. Though they live under means of grace, and the Eternal Spirit is wrestling with them, yet they are so shut up under unbelief, and so in league and love with lust, that the Word doth but torment them. There is a generation of Christless sinners, that fret with indignation and vexation, that they cannot enjoy pleasures, and follow lusts with quiet and peace; and if they would speak out what is in their heart, they would say to Christ, as the Devils, Mat.8.29. Art thou come to torment us? or as it was with those that heard Steven, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth, Acts 7.54. Men that are in love with lusts, they cannot endure that God should come near them, they are not able to bear the strokes, whereby he would break their stiff Spirit, but grudge against the Lord-himself, and fall out with the Word that would convince them, Rom. 2.8. Hence in the secret of their hearts they could be glad to hear no more such Awaken­ing, Heart-searching, Soul-rowsing Truths: They say to God, Depart from us, Job 21.14. They pronounce that Sentence upon themselves, which the Lord will pronounce at the last day. A sad thing when a poor creature is Damned above-ground.

3. When the Word of God doth blinde and harden men in their sins and vain hopes, but not convert and save them from their sins. Then God is with his Word, when he doth not suffer poor creatures to escape from him, when he will not let them alone, but plucks them by the hair of the head as it were out of the fire; when he makes the Devil deliver many sinful re­deemed Souls, then the Lord is with them indeed: but when it is otherwise, the Lord is not in his Word, Mat. 13.15. Men come into the world and know not wherefore, and go out and know not whither: though they have many Advantages, yet they stand it out to the very last; they have been put into sad plunges in their own Spirits, but have got over them, and so go to Hell insensibly. When God is in his Ordinances, then it shall be said, This and that man was born there, Psal. 37.5. but when few new­born Christians, this is a symptome God is not in his Word. As when the Seed is sown, and rots under the clods, but never [Page 13] springs up, there is no blessing, but a secret curse on it. Oh consider of this! Are Conversions frequent amongst us? Is God pulling men out of this rueful state? If the Lord deay this to his Ordinances, its because he is not in them. Oh fearful wrath! to have them, and be hardened by them, and the abuse of them to answer for another day! To have them, and yet to be plagued more then Sodom and Gomorrah that never heard of them, in that day of Eternal Judgment!

4. When Ordinances are unprofitable, and empty things, void of Spiritual advantage; when men use them but as bad bar­gains, they lose rather then gain by them: as it was with them of old, Mal. 3.14. What profit? &c. Hence take up that quarrelling Complaint, Isa. 58.3. Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? &c. When God is in them, then they bring on to more fellowship with God and Christ Jesus; then those that live under them are growing up in the fear of the Lord as Da­vid (Zech.12.8) as the Angel of the Lord before them, vigorous and active Christians, as it was with the Thessalonians, 2 Thess. 1.3. When the Sun ariseth with healing under his wings, then they grow up as Calves in the stall, Mal, 4.2. As a watered garden, Isa.58.11. And this will be proportionable in root as, well as branches, not all head and no heart: but when the contrary hereunto is true, that men languish and wither and fall away, time is spent in vain, these unprofitable hours of life, or if they gain, it is onely in some things and not in others; Alas! that men should spend time to no purpose; that men live in the light of Gospel dispensations, and yet walk in the darkness of their own hearts, not knowing whether they must go to Hea­ven or Hell at last, little stability, little comfort by all the means they enjoy!

5. When men can bear the Lords absence, the hidings away of his face, and not lay it to heart as the saddest evil. They keep Sab­baths, and enjoy no God in them, yet the heart breaks not though it be thus: this is sad indeed. 'Tis a token that the Lord is not wholly gone, that he is not so gone but that he may re­turn again, when he gives a heart to mourn after him, as they 1 Sam. 7. lamented after the Lord: but when men can go dayes , [Page 14] weeks, nay it may be moneths together, and no living commu­nion with God, and yet never cry, mourn and lament after him, this saith the Lord is gone indeed, and so gone that unless thou awaken speedily (for ought I know this very Sermon) he will never return more, but leave thee desolate and forsaken to die in thy sins. Oh! shall the Lord depart from thee, and have this to charge upon thee, That he went away from thee for want of being intreated to stay with thee?

Use IV. May be a word of Exhortation. Oh make this your main business, to keep God with you from Generation to Gene­ration: I beseech you let this be the care and prayer of every one, The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. But this Use respects both the first Generation, and this other Generation. 1. The first Generation, that have been betrusted with the management of the Kingdome of Christ and the In­terest of Religion (mostly) hitherto; Labour to keep God still with you, even as in dayes of old, and also to leave his Presence with the Generations that are to come after you, that you may say upon your death-beds, when you are leaving the world to them that succeed, as sometimes old Israel did to Joseph, Gen.48.21. Be­hold I die, but God shall be with you.

Here consider a few things.

Motive 1. This is the great End why the Lord hath betrusted you, as he hath with his Gospel, and why he hath done for you such great things as he hath done, that so he might propagate Religion to those that come after you, Psal. 78.5,6,7. It was not for your sake onely, but for the sake of your Children, that God made himself known unto you; now I beseech you let not the Lord be disappointed of his end. God hath not given his Gospel unto men, that a few old Christians may enjoy some­thing of the Presence of the Lord while they live, and then carry away the Gospel and Religion (as Viz. Worthy Mr. Mit­chell one said) into the cold graves with them when they die; No, but that they might hand down Religion, and engage the Lords Presence with the Gene­ration after them. Its part of the Generation-work of every Christian, to do his utmost that the Lords Name and Honour may be held up to the succeeding Generation. If you think that [Page 15] all the duty that lyes on you is respecting your selves onely, you are much mistaken: A godly mans work reaches further then so Psal. 77.18, 19. 'Tis a sad sign God hath forsaken a people, when they are unmindful of the work of their Generation. That was Davids Spirit, that he would endeavour that Gods Name should be declared to, and embraced by the people that were to be afterwards, Psal.45.17. and Moses his Prayer, Psal. 90.16. and the Lords Promise, Isa. 58.12. Thou shalt raise up (Hebr. settle) the foundations of many Generations, of Age and Age, i. e. Lay such foundations of Holiness as shall endure from Age to Age.

Mot. 2. To you is committed a special opportunity of propa­gating Religion, and the Presence of God to the Rising Generation.

1. In respect of the Lord himself, he will do much at the Re­quest of his old Servants. A man will do much at the importu­nity of an ancient Acquaintance; Paul thought there was something Argumentative, when he writ to Philemon, that he was Paul the aged; and David made use of the like Argument with respect unto himself in reference to this duty, Psa. 71.9, 18. The Lord knows not how to deny an old Disciple any thing. You may go to the Lord, and tell him, I have served thee so many years, and thou hast never denied me any good thing to this day; I have asked much, and had much, now I come to ask for the continuance of thy Presence with the succeeding Generation, deny me not now, Lord.

2. In respect of men. As for those that are to succeed, they that are gathering to their fathers have an opportunity to do good, by distilling the things of God into their hearts. Joshua and the Elders their Presence did tend much to the promoting of holiness, Josh. 24.31. Judg. 2.7. Whilst Jehojadah lived there was an advantage in that, 2 Chron. 24. God and Nature hath put an advantage into the hands of the Ancient; Levit. 19.32. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God; I am the Lord: q. d. You deny me to be Lord, if you do not acknowledge Age.

Mot. 3. Consider, that it is for a Generation that I speak, and such a Generation as that by many weighty and momentous Conside­rations [Page 16] you are bound to tender. As to a Generation; for a Ge­neration, David thought it was matter of great moment, Psal. 71.18. q. d. I had rather die, then outlive the opportunity of making known the Lord to the Rising Generation. It is not one, or two, or a few, but a Generation that I plead for; and it is not onely a Generation, but your Generation: now I come near indeed, a Generations that proceeds from your own loyns, and from your own bowels: Me-thinks this should prove a very feeling Argument. 1 Chron. 28.9 Now Solomon my Son; not Soloman a Son, but Solomon my Son, I charge thee by the Bond of Relation, that thou serve the God of thy fathers. And hence Solomon himself acknowledges his care and instruction. What he received from his Parents, was an effect of their endeared affection to him, Prov. 4.3, 4. Fond affections will vent themselves in foolish and temporal things, but sanctified affection in care to promove ho­liness, and engage the continuance of the Lords Presence. Oh what love, what affections, what bowels towards your Chil­dren? Have you none? or if you have, how do they put forth? I labour they may have something to live upon when I am gone, they must have House and Land, &c. and shall they not have a God? Shall they have your Estate, and not have your God to be their God? Again, they are a Generation of your betrust­ments, a Generation committed to your care and charge to bring up for the Lord, and so in that sense said to be the Lords Generation, Ezek. 16.21. God betrusted you with them respe­ctively to educate for himself. Again, are they not a Generation devoted to the Lord? Prov. 31.2. Sons of vows, more particu­larly devoted to be the Lords, cast upon him from the womb, Psal. 22.10. Again, are they not a Generation for whose sakes you ran great hazards? Was it not for their sakes that many came hither? was not this the end? I pray consider what was the thing proposed? Why came you into this Land? was it not main­ly with respect to the Rising Generation? And what with respect to them? was it to leave them a rich and a wealthy people? was it to leave them Houses, Lands, Livings? Oh no: but to leave God in the midst of them. Again, are they not a Gene­ration that call for the utmost care and help that may be afforded [Page 17] to them on all hands, a poor needy Generation hard bestead, it may be more then their fathers in some respects, Temptations as great, Corruptions as strong, Hearts as bad, and having been freed from such Persecutions, Afflictions, &c. they have not had such opportunities their fathers had, to know and see what was in their hearts. Me thinks I see them like a company of Children in a Boat that is driven out to Sea, may be it may come to shore, but in greater danger to sink or drown then otherwise. Yea, are there not sad symptomes of the Lords departure from them? Is not all in hazard to be lost? What think you of a Vessel at Sea that springs a leak, and takes in water apace, and Marriners some dead, many sick, a few left to keep Pump going, Are they not in danger to sink and perish in the waters? Is it not so here? Again, if you consider the time past, or time to come, they both put you upon the utmost care and diligence. Time past: How much time is gone, but how little is done for the Rising Generation? little Faith, little Prayer, little, Pattern-walking. Nay, are there not many that lay stumbling­blocks in their way? I know men are apt to complain against the Rising Generation, and it cannot be denied but that there is cause enough, I would to God I and all the Lords people were rightly sensible of it; but I beseech you consider whether you give not too much occasion thereunto: Do they not see your Pride, your Worldliness, your Passion, your Vanity? and doth not this harden and stumble them? And if not so, yet Duty is neglected; it may be if you prayed more, they would be more gracious: Or with respect to time to come, 'tis but a little while like to be with you, we may improve that of the Apostle, 2 Per. 1, 13, 14. shortly you must put off the earthly tabernacle; there­fore improve your little time for the good of them that are to come after you.

Mot. 4. Sincere Endeavour to continue the Lords Presence with after-Generations, shall not be without some good success. I dare be bold to say that the Lord will not leave your Posterity, unless by your remissness you declare you do not much care whether he abide with them yes or no. Do you your duty, and the Lord will not lye behinds hand [...] that which is his work: If you begin to be [Page 18] glutted with the Presence of the Lord your selves, that you do not think it worth the pains taking, to leave Him and his Pre­sence as the greatest Blessing to your Children after you, then no marvel though he remove away: But if you are resolved to keep him not onely with your selves, but with yours also, I tell you he cannot finde in his heart to leave either you or them, Prov. 22.6. In an ordinary course of Providence it shall be so; then be able to say, as David to Solomon, 1 Chron. 28.20. The Lord God, even my God will be with thee he will not fail thee nor forsake thee.

Mot. 5. What Comfort will this be, when upon good grounds you are perswaded the Lord will be with those that come after you, even as he was with you? No greater joy, then that you have had a care of Posterity, and that it hath not been in vain, 3 Joh.3.4. this glads the heart of godly Parents, Prov. 23. 15, 16, 24, 25. See Deut. 30.2.

Quest. But what shall we do that we may retain the Lords Presence with us, and convey the same to those after us?

Answ. Be willing to do what you can do: (this makes way for all other Direction) Oh! do what you can for the future Ge­neration. Its true, you cannot give them regenerating and san­ctifying grace, but let not that discourage you from what you can: and though you cannot, yet know that one can, who is infinitely more gracious to the Souls of men then thou art. Neglect not duty, because you cannot do morethen your duty: Oh live a great while in a little time; Do more in one year, then in seven before: as Israel in the Wilderness made more dispatch of the way the last year, then in thirty before; so here, respect­ing the Rising Generation. But more particularly.

1. If you would have the Presence of the Lord continued to those that are to come after you, then make sure of this, that you enjoy and special Presence of God your selves. If you would leave Gods Presence with others, you must be sure to enjoy God your selves: If God in Christ be your God, then you may have hopes that God will be the God of your seed, according to the Promise. Gen. 17.7. He that hath no interest in God, can­not insure any interest to others: He that hath onely a visible [Page 19] interest, an interest in the visible Covenant, he can do no more for his childe but leave that unto him, he cannot believe for any more, nor act faith for any more: An hypocrite cannot believe that God will be the God of his childe by special grace, for he that hath no faith to lay hold of God for himself, hath not faith to lay hold of God for his childe: Be sure therefore of this, that you are under the Promise and Covenant in the Spiritual part of it. You never knew yet, but the Lord did take hold savingly of some at least of the posterity of those that were indeed godly. Da­vid, a man of great observation and experience in the world, tells what he could say to this, Psal. 37.25. Nay, its made some kinde of evidence of Sincerity when a mans repentance is such, as that father and his childe repent too, Deut. 30.6. Not but that a man may repent, and his childe never repent; its pos­sible that a man may be converted, and children many of them never converted, but it is not usual: this is something a rare thing, that a man should be godly, and his children all ungodly; most ordinarily if a man turn with all his heart, his children turn too, sooner or later, more or fewer of them.

2. Be very careful in the due performance of Family-duties, towards them that are under your charge. This is the Lords great Command, Deut, 6.7. and Abrahams special Commendation, Gen. 18.19. the want of this the Lord punishes with rejecting such children, 1 Sam. 3.15.

But what are these Duties?

1. Oversight of the wayes of the Family, that they yield out­ward Obedience to God, and particularly in Sanctifying the Sab­bath. You shall finde Religion lives and dies, as men are exact or remiss in observing the Sabbath: And it is observeable, that the very words of the fourth Commandment doth expresly binde all Masters of Families, (which is not to be found in any other Commandment) Thou, and thy Son, and thy Daughter, Exod. 20.10. the Lord speaks by name of Family-governours, as if it were to make them Overseers of sanctifying the Sab­bath.

2. To instruct them in matters of Religion, that they may not onely profess it, but feel the power of it in life and conversations. [Page 20] Thus were Parents commanded of old, Deut. 6.7. Prov. 22.6. 2 Tim. 3.15.

3. A careful Endeavour that they may profit by the Publick Ministry. When Ministers work in Publick is done, the Fa­mily work begins: for this, see Christs example, Mark 4.13.

4. A declaration of the admirable works of God for his people, Josh. 4.6, 21. Psal. 22.31. & 78.4.

5. By giving them a good Example: Precept without Pat­terns will do little good; you must lead them to Christ by Ex­amples as well as Counsel; you must set your selves first, and speak by Lives as well as words; you must live Religion, as well as talk Religion, Josh. 24.15. This is rather to be attend­ed, because Families are the Seminaries of Church and Com­mon-wealth. Keep the Lord with you in Families, and keep him then in all Societies; let him go thence, and he will quickly go from the rest. Here begins all Apostacy and degeneration; the ruine of Churches and Country springs from thence: Ruine Fami­lies, and ruine all: So on the other hand, keep God there, and keep him every-where. The Generation to come will reap the fruit of Family Education; such Children as you bring up, such Parents will they be, when you are gone, to their Chil­dren, and such Children shall they have who are Parents in the next Generation. You then that are Governours of Families, are the very making or marring of the world, Psa.1.44.12. Unless Poste­rity be polished, hewn and squared by Domestical Discipline, they are never fit to be stones in Gods building. Are not some Parents worse then that rich Glutton, who being in Hell de­sired concerning his fathers house, that they might be fore­warned, and therefore desired Abraham to send Lazarus to his brethren to testifie to them, that they come not to the place of tor­ment, Luke 16, 27, 28? But you will not admonish them, you will not teach them Moses and the Prophets, you will not shew them the danger hanging over their heads, you will not lead a good Example before them while you live. Oh! you may fear that your Children one day will curse you, and wish that they had been the Children of Indians rather.

3. Keep as much of God as you were wont to do in your own [Page 21] Hearts and Conversations: Suffer not the Lord to go away in any degree or measure out of your hearts. In a word, keep up the life and power of godliness in your own Souls. The Lord never takes away his visible presence from the succeeding Genera­tion, unless he take away his secret inward presence from former Generations. The second Generation seldome or ever prove to­tall Apostates, but the fist are deep secret Heart-revolters. Heart-sins in the first, grow up into Life-sins in the second; if you decline at all, they will decline altogether. The loss of the first love is enough to remove the Candlestick, Rev.2.4, 5. You complain against the Pride, Profaneness of young ones, and alas that there is such cause! Oh but who is there amongst you that cries out of the secret sins of their own hearts? Those sins of a second growth of Profaneness in some. Worldliness in many, Deadness and Formality in all; Ah! who is it that looks on the hard heartedness, impenitency of this second Genera­tion, and sayes that now the Lord is punishing my hard heart­edness upon my Childe, he is whipping me on his back. Men, Brethren and Fathers, You had once another Spirit, had you not? A right New-England Spirit. Oh! should I knock at your breast, and ask, Is the old Zeal, Love, Heavenly-minded­ness that was in this Heart twenty, thirty years ago, is it there still? Are you the same men you were? Are you not strangely changed? Have you as much of God as you had? Hath not the World got something? Wife and Children something? Trails and Temptations of a New Place, or hard beginnings got something? Oh! have you not lived to see much of your former life and godliness laid in the grave? Have you the same Hearts you had? Are your worst dayes now as good as your best then? so it is with growing Saints that live much with God: Or rather is not the contrary true, that you are grown old and grown cold; cold indeed, cold at heart; Aged in years, and decayed in power of godliness! But why do I complain? Let me perswade; Oh recover, recover strength for your own Souls sake, and for the sake of the Generation that is to come after you. How can you hope that you should ever finde much of the Lords Presence, if you that once had it lose it, and see it no [Page 22] more? If in [...] time Professors and Lukewarmness go hand in hand together, then in those that come after you Profession and Profaneness shall go hand in hand together: If you keep your Religion and Forms with their buts, they that succeed will be Professors with their buts. You are Christians, Ay! but cold, but dead, but lifeless: They shall be Professors, but vicious, but jeering, but scoffing, but drinking Companions. What hopes that the next Generation will ever enjoy much of the Presence of Gods grace, and power of godliness, if you see it dead and buried before you go to your graves? I remember what the Prophet Elijah said to Elisha, if he could see when he was taken up in the fiery Chariot, it should be so, but if not, it should not be so, 2 Kings 2.10. I allude to it thus; If the Rising Gene­ration could see you going to Heaven with a great measure of Zeal, Life, Spiritualness, then there might be some hopes, that they that are left behinde might enjoy a double portion of your Spirit; but if they see your Life lost, Love cooled, Godliness de­cayed, how can it be?

4. Lay out Faith and Prayer for them to the utmost: There is no help in Earth, but there is help in Heaven. Plead with God, and plead hard, Believe, and believe strongly: Pray more, and speed better; the Lord will suffer himself to be Commanded in this case, Isa. 45.11. you have very good hold of God in the Word, Deut.30.6. and when you pray, you must pray feeling­ly, i. e. with a heart sensible of their sins. Let the sins of the Rising Generation, be the burthen of the first Generation; their Unbelief, the matter of their Complaint before the Lord. Many complain their Children have not such Priviledges as they ought, I pray God grant that they may all have what the Lord hath appointed for them: But alas! where is the man that complains, that his Childe wants saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Oh where is the Parent that sayes in bitterness of Soul, My Childe hath a hard Heart, and a proud Will, an unteachable Spirit; Civil he is, but alas, that's all the Religion I can see? Oh that there were more of those Complaints in secret before the Lord! I verily believe the Lord will awaken a Spirit of Prayer, before he gives us any sure pledges of his abiding with us in all [Page 23] sorts of men amongst us. See how David prayes for Solomon, 1 Chron. 29.19. and this will fetch blessings, Win it in Heaven, and wear it in Earth. Monica, Austin;s Mother, after she had cried and wept to a godly Minister for her then ungodly Son, was answered by that good man, Fieri nequit ut filius tantarum lachrymarum pereat; It cannot be that a Childe of so many Prayers and Tears should perish. And it is observeable, That before the Lord give out any special Generation-mercy, he hum­bles, he prepares his people for that mercy by deep humiliation, he usually layes them exceeding low as in first Conversion, with respect to personal mercies, so with respect to Generation-mer­cy. The continuance of the Lords Presence Generation after Generation, is a very signal mercy, and God the Lord will humble his people in order to this mercy, and this humiliation will cause you to sanctifie Gods Name, though he should take away his Presence, Ezek. 3.12. Secondly, He brings a sentence of death on the mercy, that to the eye of Sense and Reason there is no likelihood that ever it should come to pass, nay it grows more unlikely every day then other; as with Israel in Egypt, Exod. 5. Isaac must be bound, laid on the Altar, the knife at his throat, that so Faith might receive him, as it were from the dead. Truly this makes me hope that the Lords Presence may yet continue with his people in our Generations, because that mercy seems to be a dead mercy: There is no likelihood that it should be so, the knife is at Isaac's throat; Faith can fetch Isaac from the Altar, Isa. 26.19. When Churches are dead, and the Members of Churches are dead, yet then the Covenant lives, the Promise lives. Oh look to the Lord in that word Isa. 65. 22, to the end, and 62.9.

5. If you would have God to be with you and yours after you, then see that you, each one in your respective places, are with and for the Lord: You have the duty and encouragement laid be­fore you, 2 Chron. 15.2. A professing People they alwayes break with God first, before he breaks with them. 'Tis the very end of the Lords works and dispensations to you, that so you might be for him, Isa. 43.21. Quest. But you will say, What is this to be with the Lord? How shall we be so with or for the Lord, as [Page 24] that we may be sure he will still be with and for us? Ans. Work, and work for God in your several capacities; Parents, Husbands, Wives, if you do not work for him, you are not with him: Mark 13.34. He gave to every man his work, and therefore it is that their working with God is said to be a being with God, Hos. 9.8. The watchmen of Ephraim was with my God; i. e. they did the work of God: and so walking with God, as you may see by that of David, 1 Kings 4. and of Hezekiah, 2 King. 18. 6,7. 2. Be for the special interest of God: Mat. 12.30. He that is not with me is against me; Zech.9.7. He that remaineth shall be for our God, i. e. for his Glory, for his Christ, for his Cause. Labour therefore for a Publick Spirit, let all your own interest give way to his; Oh let nothing be dear in compari­son of Christ and his interest, Acts 20.24. To be of a private Spirit is not to be for God. 3. In a special manner see that you are for his Institutions: This is called the Kingdome of God, Acts 1.3. If for Christ, then for his Kingdome. That man is not for God or Christ, that is not for Ordinances: These are called the Name of Christ, Acts 15.14, 16. He that is not for build­ing Gods Tabernacle, would not indeed that God should have a Name amongst men. Remember what you said when you came into the Church, Isa.44.5. I am the Lords; especially see that you be for those Institutions and Ordinances that are ordained by Christ, to bring the Rising Generation into a professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ. Oh take heed how we turn them out of Gods In­heritance, lest you bring, a curse upon your Souls, and their Souls after you. 1 Sam.28.19. When God takes them into his Covenant, he saith he will be a God to them, Gen. 17. Take heed how you deny them any part in the Lord, lest thereby they turn to serve other gods, Josh, 22.24, 25. Where the Lord will enlarge Covenant-mercy, Oh tremble to straighten it or bound it to the Precepts of men: we and our poor Children after us, have need enough of all the grace of the Covenant, let us not despise it, or cast them out our selves from it. If that be the Lords word, that the children of his servants shall continue, and their seed be established before him, Psal. 102. 28. Labour not to make that Promise of no affect: Most certain it is, that the Lords Presence is to be sought and enjoyed in Gods Wayes, [Page 25] and in them only, Will the Lord abide with a Generation that have nothing to do with a Church-state, Ordinances, Ministry, and the visible outward Administrations of the things of his House? I know he may for a while; But will he long? No verily, if they must have nothing to do with these, God will have nothing to do with them.

6. Maintain a Spirit of Love towards God, and towards one an­other: If you love, he will not leave you. Be not like Ephesus that lost their first love, but repent and do your first works, Rev.2.3. Love is a uniting grace, and will not let the person beloved go: This keeps God in Heaven, because nothing but love is there; for where that is, he will be, 1 Joh. 4.18. Joh. 14.23. If ever the Lord leave you or yours after you, it will be because he is not loved: and if it be asked why did the Lord so soon forsake his people, after that he had done so much for them? the Lord will answer and say, It was because I could not have their hearts, I went away for want of love. Oh! it is matter of sad lamentation, that there is such a spirit of dying affection towards Christ in New­England. There is sad declinings in the Spirit of the Churches, the Lord knows: If the Lord take away any thing of his Presence, they can make up the want of God in the enjoyment of the Crea­ture; as some men do when they pass by old hedges, they throw bushes in and stop up gaps, so do men stop all their gaps, all their breaches, with brambles and bushes of Creatures: yea some, if the Lord take away any choice mercy from them, what do they do? why, they grow jealous of him, and love him the less; the reason why he takes away their beloved, is that he may have their whole heart, Hos. 2.6. Ah! how many particular persons are there unto whom Christ is a stumbling-block? some offended at one thing, some at another; some like not this Rule, some not that Command; some are displeased at this Providence, and o­thers at that: Oh that you would consult with your own hearts! Have you quit one lust for Christ? more delight it may be in vain jollity, then in secret Prayer. 2. Love one to another, 2 Cor. 13. Breaches make way for God to be gone:

7. Get a sympathizing Spirit with the gasping, groaning, bleeding and dying condition of that Generation that are to succeed you. Oh! look upon them with an eye of pity, and let your hearts mourn [Page 26] much for them in secret. It may be they speak not for your com­passions, and how shall they? many of them know not their own misery: but their condition calls aloud for all the Prayers, Tears, Faith of the Lords precious ones amongst us.

1. Take a view of their present state; And what is it? Is it not that which justly deserves all the compassions that may be? If to be without God and Christ, and in danger of death and ruine every moment; if to be dead to all Calls, and bold and desperate in wayes of Sin and Security, be a condition to be pitied, many of them need pity. Ah! did thy Redeemer mourn over thy Soul, and hast thou no tears for others? It's said of Christ when he came to Lazarus grave, He wept, because he loved him; Do you not go to the graves of dead Souls every day? but where is your affectionate rowling of bowels? where are your sighs and groans? possibly one may hear you complain and bewail their deprivement of outward Priviledges; Oh but where is that man, and where is the woman that bewails before the Lord and Spiri­tual misery of young men and women? that faith in secret, Oh what Preaching do they enjoy, what Sermons do they hear, what Means do they partake of? Oh but what hearts have they? Oh how blinded, how hardened, how unperswadeable! as if the the Lord sent his Messenger upon that errand Isa. 6.10.

2. Consider present Providences, and they call for pity and com­passion towards them: The things that concern their peace and comfort cannot be effected an accomplished for their good, much taking, but little practising: Nay, that which concerns their Interest is made the Butt of Contention, as if the Lord would divide his people, when they are conspiring to promote the welfare of the Rising Generation. Again, those that are most likely to promove their best good, are snatched away apace one after another. What will become of poor Children, when Heads of Families die? what will become of unskilful Passengers, when Pilot and able Steer­man is taken away? What will become of this Generation, when these that should lead them and light them in the way of Heaven, may not live out half their dayes amongst them! Good Lord, let not that befall them, Dews avertat Oxen! that sometime did Israel of old, that they should have such Prophets as should make them vain, and speak a vision [Page 27] of their own hearts, and not out of the mouth of the Lord; that should say to them that despise God, The Lord hath said ye shall have peace, and to every one that walketh in the imagination of his own heart, Not evil shall come to you: so that they should strengthen the hand of evil doers, that none return from his wickedness, but that from the Prophets of Jerusalem profaneness shall go forth into all the Land, Jer. 23.14, 16, 19.

Again, 3. If you look to what their condition is like to be at last; Will God bear alwayes with a carnal unfavoury Generation? Must they not bring good fruit, or else will they not be in danger to be cut down? Mat. 3.10. Will a few Leaves of Civility and Formality save them from the curse? will such lifting up to Hea­ven not make way to the thrusting down to Hell? Mat. 11.23. This I will say, that amongst the posterity of a professing people, they will either be the most happy, or the most unhappy Generation. Oh! go get a spirit of pity then; You can do but little, but can you not pray? have you no bowels? have you no tears? Oh go draw them on to godliness, bring them near to God by Faith and Prayer, yea and by all wayes of his appointment, count it not want of grace so to do; Whether think you had more grace, Christ or his Disciples? yet we see Christ was tender towards Children, and loth to reject them, when as his Disciples were rigid towards them.

But it is time for us to address our selves to this present Genera­tion. I may speak unto you in the words of Daniel, (Dan. 5.27.) Wherefore let my Counsel be acceptable unto you, retain the Lords Presence with you. I know it is a very difficult thing to speak prevailingly unto a Generation that have been brought up under the solemn Warnings of Gods Word, and yet not wrought upon; It's a very difficult thing to do good in a backsliding time, when men have been accustomed to send away the Lord from their hearts: It's now a hard work to perswade men to hold him by main strength, and not to let him go. In times of degeneracy there is not much likelihood of doing much good, Jer. 25.3, 4, 5. Secure hearts that have had many Means, many Warnings, many Years, and not awakened, if one should rise from the dead to such an one he will do little good, Luke 16.31. Yet I will cry once [Page 28] more what the Lord will do, though me-thinks my work is some­thing like Ezekiels, Chap. 37. who was there commanded to pro­phesie over dead bones: I know I have dead hearts to deal with­all, but yet the Lord may breathe the breath of life into them; Therefore, O Generation, see ye the word of the Lord, Jer. 2.31. You that are the succeeding and surviving Generation, whatever you part with, part not with God, keep God with you whatever you keep, or not keep. And to stir up hereunto, let me spread before you these Considerations.

1. That the Lord will most undoubtedly leave and forsake you, unless you do to the utmost of what you can do to keep him amongst you. The Lord is resolved on it, he will not abide with you, except you do besiege him with your prayers, tears, cries and groans not to be gone: Solomon did no more then need required, when he cried to him, Be with us. Verily the Lord will not thrust him­self upon such a Generation as do but little care for his Presence; If you are of an indifferent spirit, at a kinde of disway in your own thoughts as it were, the Lord will soon resolve the case, Psa. 132.11, 12. And therefore take the Counsel and Lord gives, Jer. 6.8. Be instructed, lest my soul depart from you. Make no other account but the Lord will take away his Presence and leave you desolate, except you rowse up out of your Security, and be more in earnest with him then you have been hitherto. Those endeavours that you have put forth, will not keep God amongst you: If you seek him with all your heart and soul, you may finde him, Deut. 4. and after the same manner that he is found, he is kept amongst a people, and therefore I may make use of those words, Who is on the Lords side, who? Who is bent to keep the Presence of God with them, as he was with their fathers, who? Ah! how will you ever be able to stand before God, men, or your own Consciences another day, when it shall be charged upon you, that it was because of your sloth and negli­gence & supine security that God is gone from the midst of you?

Mot. 2. There is no little Expectation concerning you; You are a Generation of great hopes and great fears: The Lord expects much from you, that you will do much for the glory of his Name, Isa. 63.8. He said, Surely they are children that will not lie; he hath [Page 29] been expecting a long time, Luke 13.7. and your predecessors, those that have been before you, all their expectations under God himself, are in you: they hope you will stand up in their stead, and bear up the Cause of Religion when they are gone: And so also you are a Generation of great fears; some they have a holy fear concerning you, such a fear as was sometimes in the heart of Job towards his Children, Chap. 1. lest you should sin against God, lest you should forget God, and the things of God: yea the Lord is pleased to express himself so, as if he had some fears concerning the rising and succeeding Generation of a professing people, Psal. 78.5. And some they have a sinful fear; Satan and all wicked men they are affraid what you will do, they are affraid lest you should strengthen what your fathers have done before you: And I pray take notice what you have in your hands, it is to pro­move or interrupt the glory of Religion; you will be instrumen­tall (above what your fathers have been) either to the advantage or disadvantage of Religion; the Name of Christ will either gain or lose much by you. If two Generations be for God and the wayes of God, this will be for the honour of Gods Name; and therefore it is that the Lord is so delighted in his Name, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of three Generations. it's greatly for the glory of God, when Truth hath the advantage of a double Generation; so on the contrary Religion will suffer exceedingly if you desert it. If it be said, that the very children pulled down what their fathers builded, 1 Chror 28. 1. this will cast dishonour upon the way they walked in, Judg. 2.17. and the Lord complains of wrong and reproach cast upon him, when men turn away from him to wayes of sin, Jer. 2.5. I may allude to the words of Paul spoken in another case, 1 Cor. 9.15. It were better for me to die, then that any should make my glory void; it were better for you to die, then that Gods Name should suffer by you, as it will suffer if you keep not the Lords Presence with you. Oh take heed what you do, take heed how you sad the heart of God, and godly men, and how you glad the heart of Satan and the wicked.

Mot. 3. Consider that it is the turn of your Generation to stand up for God, and what can you do for him if he be not with you? Elders are gathered a way both in Church and Common-wealth, their [Page 30] work is done as to many of them already, and the Gospel and Ordinances are to be transmitted into your hands, the Affairs of Christs Kingdome will be upon your shoulder; Your fathers be­fore you served God in their Generation, Judg. 2.7. Acts 13.36. they lived and died in the faith of the Gospel, and the profession thereof, and now you come to act your part, the Lords voice to you is, Look, you now to it, I trusted your fathers, and gave them my Laws and Statues, and they were faithful to their death, and now they rest from their labours, and their works follow them, and now I put the like upon you that I did upon them: Oh how will you manage this betrustment without the Lords Presence? Consider 1. The greatness of your Generation work; 'tis too heavy for the shoulders of any Angel in heaven to bear: Look at per­sonal concerns, look at publick concerns, its not work for men, for our selves, but for God. 2. The dayes wherein you live are backsliding times, evil dayes, 2 Tim. 3.1. times of great degeneracy and Apostacy: Alas! little humble walking now, little self-denial, little holiness; Oh how weighty and difficult is their work, that are now called out to stand up for Christ? It is difficult at any time, Onus humeris Angelicis formidandum, as Chrysostom faith concerning the work of the Ministry, A burthen that the shoulders of Angels might shake to come under, but especially in such times wherein we are fallen: How hard is it to keep up an House when it's falling down, to keep the Ship from sinking, when the leak that is sprung hath almost filled it with water. 3. The hands that help they are but few, and those that hinder are many: what can be done at such a time as this, if the Lords presence be not with us?

Mot.4. You have many special Engagements to hold God with you, he is your fathers God, and not willing to leave you: The holy Ghost gives counsel not to forsake our fathers friend, Prov.27.9. much less your fathers God. It's an heart-endearing consideration, that God was the God of Relations, this helps to sweeten the presence of God to us; as men in other things they will not part with what was their Progenitors, Oh this was my fathers, and I will not part with it: so here, Exod. 15.2. he is a God left, commend­ed and bequeathed to you by your fathers; Those that knew how good he was, left this with you as their most weighty Counsel, [Page 31] that whatever you did, you would make choice of the Lord to be your God, 1 Chro. 28.9. 1 Kin. 2.3,4. 3. You have the pattern and example of those that were before you to encourage hereunto: what is it not well with them? did they not live in peace and die in comfort? Peace and truth was in their dayes; they never repented of their choice they made: verily their holiness will be a dreadful witness against you, when the Lord shall say as Jer. 22.15, 16. But Gods Presence was life to them: we may well say as Ruth 1. 16. Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; whither thou goest I will go, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. 4. The cost and care that Predecessors have been at, that so they might leave God with children, is to be seriously thought of; they may say of the Gospel and Ordinances thereof, as 2. Sam. 23. 17. They purchased them with hazard of their lives, as sometimes Jacob gave Jo­seph a blessing, that he took out of the hand of the Amorites with his sword and bowe, Gen. 48.22.

Mot. 5. What will become of you if God be not with you? what a condi­tion will you then be in, if God leave you and cast you out of his sight? Jer. 16.12, 13. 1. Your sins will be worse then the sins of others, 2 Kin. 21.11. 2. You will not be one whit better in respect of any Spiritual ad­vantage, that you have sprung from those that had the Lord to be their God, Ezek. 16.2,3,4,5. Isa. 57.3,4. 3. The want of Gods Presence will bring a curse upon all blessings, and make your condition more miserable then the worst. In this life nothing but plagues, woes, miseries, Hos. 3.3. Deut. 31.17. yea enemies that shall prey on you, will pretend they do it justly, Jer. 50.7. Ordinances, Sabbaths, Sermons, shall blinde, harden, and seal you up in sin. Oh! to be prayed, heard, wept down to Hell, how dreadful is that? You shall be plagued above others, Amos 3.2. Gods hand will follow you, Judg. 2.15. and at last you shall die in sin, Ezek. 18.9, 10. and be cast off for ever, 1 Chron. 29.9. Jer.16.12,13. and go to Hell, though the children of Abraham, Luk. 16.24. your godly Parents will be so far from helping you, that they will rejoyce and bless God for executing Justice upon you to all Eternity; neither your fathers, nor the God of your fathers will own you: But oh let it be our prayer and care, that the Lord our God may be with us, as he was with our fathers, let him not leave us nor forsake us.

REader, The Author had intended another Sermon by way of Direction [...] those of the Rising Generation, to sh [...]w them what course they must take, that [...] the Lords gracious Presence may be successively continued. But here God took him thus serving his Generation, who are by reason of the Authors death deprived of the bene­fit of those Meditations.

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