USEFUL INSTRUCTIONS for a professing People in Times of great SECURITY AND DEGENERACY:

Delivered in several SERMONS on Solemn Occasions:

By Mr. Samuel Willard Pastor of the Church of Christ at Groton.

Ezek. 3. 17. Son of Man, I have made thee a Watchman to the House of Israel: therefore hear the Word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
Amos 3. 8. The Lord God hath spoken, who can but Prophesy?
Jer. 2. 31. O Generation, See ye the Word of the Lord: have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a Land of darkeness? wherefore say my People, we are Lords, we will come no more unto thee.
Haggai. 1. 5, 7.
Thus saith the Lord, Consider your ways.

CAMBRIDGE: Printed by Samuel Green. 1673.

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Jer. 7. 12.But go ye now unto my Place which is in Shiloh, &c:’

IN the beginning of this Chapter, the Lord sends by his Pro­phet, to call Judah and Jerusalem to true Repentance, en­courageing them [...] it by a promise of establishment of their peace and mercies, in case they would so do, ver. 1, 2, 3, & 5, 6, 7, &c. That this coun [...]ell of his may take effect upon them, he en­deavours to reclaim them from their vain confidence in their external worship, and enjoyment of the Temple and Ordinances, ver. 4. After which he enlargeth himselfe by a Declaration, of their hypocriticall dealings, and false trust in the Temple, as if it were a sure safeguard to them from punishment, notwithstanding all their wicked abominati­ons, ver. 8, 9, 10. which vanity, he declares to be a changing of a place of holy worship, into a den of robbers, ver. 11. and then gives them to un­derstand that he takes notice of it: And in the Text further calls them off from their vain confidence by sending them to Shiloh, to take notice of his dealing with them for thir sins.

From the context, diverse Truths are Observable.

Doct. 1. When God is never so much provoked with a people, He yet tenders them termes of peace, before he cutts them off. In the three last verses of the former Chapter, he shews what they were; a rebel­lious and counselless people, on whom he had laid out much cost, to whom he had sent many messengers, who had spent their breath and lives to no purpose, and yet here again he sends an invitation to repen­tance, with a conditional promise of good; before he denounceth hi [...] last sentence against them. The like we shall find. Chap 4. 1. and 3. 1. and 18. 11. &c.

Reason 1. From the great desire which God hath that sinners should [...] that he may verifie that truth. Ezek. 18. 11. That sinners may know where the true and proper cause of their destruction lies, that it is in themselves, and not in him; they shall not have the blame to lay upon God in the least, and therefore he proffers pardon and mercy, holds out the flag of peace before them, that if in the time of truce they will come in, they may, and welcome.

[Page 2] Reas. 2. From the Attributes of mercy and long-suffering, which discover themselves in withholding the stroak of vengeance, and hold­ing his hand back. Ier. 3. 12. 2 Pet. 3. 9. God will have a time for all his Attributes to appear, now is the day of mercy, and now God will let sinners have large trusts of it, he warns, yea, follows on to warne and perswade with a people; that if it be possible [...] escape

Reas. 3. For the advancement of his glory by his patience, God aims at himself, his own glory in all his doings: now by this Clemency of his he will gaine honour, either to his mercy in their welfare, or his justice in their ruine; which every way God will be a gainer hereby: if they repent how will they magnifie his patience and so bearance: if they be obstinate and perish, how eminently will he clear his justice in their ruine?

Use 1. This may convince us how unreasonable a thing it is to sin a­gainst God: is God so unwilling to punish, so desirous to do us good, so ready to pardon us, who would sin against, and provoke such a God? bold, presumptuous, and horrible is that spirit of iniquity, that makes Gods patience and mercy his encouragement to sin; would we deal so [...], who would take encoucagement? to vex and anger one that is good and patient to us: that is the aggravation of their sin Psal. [...] 43. their deliverances were the occasion of their presumption to [...].

Use 2. What encouragement is there here to us after all our grievous sins to return to the Lord by Repentance, God is yet ready to receive us, and [...] store his mercies unto us, and therefore let us be quickned up by this consideration. motive.

1. Consider the wonderful self denyal that there is in God, he needs us not, but could do well enough without us, being self-sufficient in him­self, yea, hath Angels which attend upon him, and that he should ac­cept of dust and ashes, much more unprofitable sinful creatures, and receive them into mercy; oh what a condescendency is this!

2. Consider, the wrong we do him will fall upon our selves in the end, we may fight against him, but they are arrows shot up against heaven, which will fall down upon our own heads Ier. 7. 19. we may think what we will, but the issue of such provocations, will be the impe [...] ­tent sinners confusion; briers and thorns must not think to thrive again the devouring fire.

3. Consider, The benefits of Repentance will redound to our own good [Page 3] Jer. 7. 5, 6, 7. we shall tast the sweet of it; to escape from misery, to enjoy the benediction of God, and sweet fruits of peace, will be our advantage: let it then break our hearts to consider, that after all our sins, God hath yet wid'ned arms to receive us into: if a man find his ene­mies, would he not destroy them. 1. Sam. 24. 19. yet hath God had [...] ­nifold opportunities and sufficient provocations, and hath not [...] use of them.

Doct. 2. True Repentance is the best and only way for the settle­ment of true peace: this the Lord propounds to them as the way and means to settlement, that they may dwell in that place for ever: and to that end he call [...] them up, not to a feigned, but a true repentance; if they had a desire to prosper. Ier 4. 1. if you will return, return to me. i. e. be sure to repent aright, do not turn from one sin to another, do not wander from that mountain to this hill, change one Idol for ano­ther; but go back again to your God: hence the Lord shews that to be the reason of the continuance of their sorrows. Isa. 58 2, 3, 4. and Zech 7. 5, 6. they had pretended services, fastings, &c. but they did it not to God, it was not in a right manner.

Reas. 1. From the difference between true and feigned repentance, in the one there is a free and hearty renouncing of all sin: a sight of it, a sorrow for it, and a forsaking it; this the Lord himself hath constitu­ted as the way to enjoy mercy. Prov. 28. 13. this hath a firme promise made to it. Isa. 1. 19, 20. when as feigned repentance it a mocking of God, as the Lord declares, and therefore denounceth that threatning against it Isa. 29. 13. 14. God will not be mocked by sinners; that Re­pentance which God will only own and acknowledge, comes from a deep touch and sence of the bitterness of sin. Ier. 2. 19.

Reas. 2. Because it is only true Repentance which sets us in the way of [...] peace.

1. God only is the Author of true peace. Isa. 57. 17. if ever the creature be truly enstated in peace, God must speake it to the soule, [...] all the world should declare amity with the creature, yet if [...] do not set his seal to it, it is but a blank, and signifies nothing

2. Sin hath cut the creature off from the right and true foundation of [...], what peace, &c. 2. King. 9. 22. God will not, cannot, [...] blessings and peace to impenitent and hypocritical sinners; he [...]ould wound the great Attribute of his holiness, if he should so do.

3. It is only by true Repentance that we heartily renounce sin and [...] [Page 4] under the condition of peace, Ier. 3. 12, 13. God sets forth tenders of peace before vile sinners, but there are Articles of composition, terms of agreement, which the Creature must needs consent to, if he desire good, or otherwise the treaty must break off, and be put to an end.

Use 1. Here see the dangerous estate of an obstinate people, who re­fuse to hearken to the counsels of God; if once iniquity increase to obstinacy, and renounce repentance the only way of pacification, the condition of such a people is become desperate, Ezek 14 13 as long as there remains any remorse upon the consciences of a people there may be some hope of them, because they are not without capacity of attending the way of peace, but if conscience be stupified, and the sense of sin obliterated, what hope can there be; and therefore as we would avoid utter ruine, have a care of adding obstinacy to all other sins, if we will yet repent there is hope, but if we are resolute our case i [...] past hope.

Use. 2. To direct us to a right way of settling our selves on such a firm way of peace as shall stand; let us forsake our sins and return unto God from whom we have turned away; though we have departed away from God into sin, yet let us not stand it out against him: Motive.

Consider, Our league with Hell and Death will not do, Isai. 28. 18 we may go down to Egypt and ride upon Horses, but these shall not save us, Isa. 3 [...] beginning, though we should adde to own the strength of all the Creation, and engage the whole world in our quarrel, yet we [...] not think to be too hard for the Almighty, none ever tryed a fall with him but they were thrown.

2. So long as we persist in a way of sin God hath a quarrel against us, Isai: 57: ult: wherever God finds wickedness there he stands off from the sinner; we may make flourishes of great matters in forms of Reli­gion, &c: but if sin be still covenanted with, and we maintain our rebel­lion, the return will be, who required these things at your hands?

3. No peace like that whose foundation is laid in true repentance, for its a peace whose Basis is peace with God, and that gives peace with all things, [...]ob 5: 19: and its an inviolable peace, a league which can ne­ver be broken: Oh! labour we then after this peace, if we clap up a peace and God be not in it, be will disanul all that is done, but enter a covenant with him and the world shall never be able to overthrow it, Earth and Hell shall not prevail against it; let us then confess our sins to him, and cast our selves before him, and go with them, Hos [...]

[Page 5] Doct: 3 True repentance is alwayes attended with a through refor­mation: If ye throughly amend your wayes, &c ver: 5. the Lord there declares what a manner of repentance it is that he looks for; not a ver­bal, in a few empty Confessions, nor a formal, in a few dejected and cast down looks: like theirs in Isai: 58: beginning but here, and in the se­quel he declares if they will have peace what it is he expects; the sum of which is, let all which hath been amiss be mended, turn over a new leaf, reform your hearts and wayes, your souls and lives, and that I will accept of.

Reas. 1 Because such is the vile and loathsome nature of sin, that can't be indeed seen in its own colours, but it must needs be odious and abo­minable in our eyes: It hath so much of contrariety in it, to the holiness of God, and so much vileness, and filth, and abomination that none can see it but must needs hate it; when sin is truly seen, it then ap­pears to be sinful, Rom: 7: 14: that is the very worst name that can be put upon it, viz: its own: men see sin many times in its effects, and that frights them, but it cannot make them hate their sin, but they think it good enough if it had not such consequences, but when the face of it is uncovered and the souls eyes opened, now he stands off, his affections are slain.

Reas. 2. From the Inconsistency of hating sin in the heart, and closing with it in the life and practice: will we alwayes keep company, and hold intimate fellowship, and drive a constant trade and commerce with one, the sight of whom we loath, an unreformed life is a plain denial, and contradicting of all our verbal and professed repentance, Tit: 1: 16: If we live in sin it makes nothing to the credit of the world, much less to the all seeing eye of God to speak and profess against it.

Reas: 3 From the nature of true repentance, which is a change from what we were to some other thing; a change of affections, a change of profession, and not only so, but also a change of objects, a turning from the creature to God, Jer: 4: 1: now this implies a through reformation, when the creature casts off all other things which it hath pursued, and seek to God alone.

Use 1 This may call us to the Examination, whether ever we truly repented or no of those sins which we have so often confessed to God, viz: where is our reformation? Search throughly one and another of us, re­member what we have confessed, and with what shews of sense and so­row, as if those sins had indeed been a burthen to us, and we desired to [Page 6] be rid of them, but have they been amended, have we truly relinquisht them? if not, assure we our selves God looks at himself as mocked at all this while, and therefore if we be defective in this essential and sub­stantial part of our repentance, never enquire or ask of God where­fore his hand is stretched out still against us, after so many Prayers and supplications have been poured out before him on solemn dayes:

The Reason is obvious and plain, and he that runs may read it:

Use [...] Hence therefore let this truth move upon us, to perswade us, and to reclaim us from words to works; from profession to practise, from confession to amendment: we have begun a good work in confessing, but it it go no further the work is spoiled; adde we therefore now to it, reformation, let us turn away from those sins we have drawn up so many protests against, and let us shew a practical hatred of what we have verbally renounced.

Doct. 4 The b [...]st [...]ou ward priviledges in the world, if once they come to be [...]rusted in, are no better th [...]n lyes; ver 4. trust not in lying words, the Temple, &c. i. e. they have as great and grand a delusion in them, and as surely deceive any that place their confidence upon them as any other deceit in the world whatsoever: they are no better shelter, nor will afford any greater security and safeguard to the soul then any other vain hiding place; and therefore, they that trust in them trust in false­hood; a lye is that which is spoken to deceive the creature: thus when men speak of their priviledges, and rest on them, they deceive their own selves.

Reas. 1. Because God give [...]hi [...] blessing with these priviled [...]es but condi­tionally, i. e. according to the creatures improvement of them; if they will make use of them aright they are a special benefit to them, otherwise not, 1 Chron: 28: 11: and therefore positively and absolutely to trust in these, and not to carry a respect to the condition which is annexed to them, it is to neglect and abuse Gods order of blessing, who together with priviledges, promiseth good to the faithful improver of them, but threatens wrath, and denounceth his judgements against the abu­sers of it, and is therefore a great deceit.

Reas. 2. Because the greater the blessing is, if not answerably impro­ved, it brings the greater curse upon the Creature: Mat. 11. 2 [...]. that is Capernaum [...] sin, abuse of Gospel priviledges, and therefore a special and extraordinary doom is past upon them; the greater the mercy is, the more sadly is God provoked by the abusing of it, and therefore [Page 7] who ever escape, it's like to fare ill wich such as those. Ans. 3. 2.

Use 1. To reprove our carnal confidence in the enjoyment of the means of grace and priviledges of the Gospel: you that trust in your interests you have Sabbaths, Sacraments, liberty of nearest communion with God in his Ordinances, &c. and hereupon you are ready to think that God loves you, and will not bring a scourge upon you, but con­clude your selves to be exempted from any danger of misery and deso­lation; let me tell you; you trust in lying words, you leane upon such a prop as will certainly fail and deceive you in the latter end. Consider, Jer. 9. 25, 26.

Use 2. To awaken us to be think our selves what use it is that we make of the means of grace which we have and enjoy, what good we get by the Ordinances: think it not enough that we have and enjoy them; you have the temple of the Lord among you, the Word preached from Sabbath to Sabbath, and the Sacraments administred; these are high priviledges, but all the benefit is in the use of them, if we have them only to look upon, and boast off, and not to improve for our conversi­on to God, and help forward in his ways, they will become a snare to us in the end.

Doct. 5. 'Tis the great sin of a professing people, in the times of Apo­stacy, to cover their gross iniquity under the veil of priviledges and perfor­mances. ver. 8, 9, 10. they thought if they did but come to Gods house, and perform a few Ceremonies there, offer sacrifices, &c. they might take the liberty to steal, murder, swear, and what not; thus we read of that bold and impudent woman, who had not her name for nothing. Prov. [...]. 14, 15.

Reas. 1. From their presumptuous trust in their priviledges, as though God were bound to preserve his Temple, he hath no other habitation in the world, and therefore he will never depart from hence, his glory is involved in our preservation, and will he laugh in our ruine: if he should destroy us, his name would be routed out of the earth, and therefore there is no danger that ever we should be cut off, or cast out; this was their presumption. Mich. 3. 11. the Lord is among us, no evil can betide us, and therefore they steal, judge for reward, wrong the innocent; there is no danger.

Reas. 2. From the secret Atheism and hypocrisie that is in the heart of vain man, who thinks God takes no notice of their wickedness, but is deceived by their pretended services; men consider not that Gods all [Page 8] all seeing eye penetrates into all corners of the earth, and the secrets of the heart, and hence they think they may sin unseen. Ezek. 8. 12.

Use To quicken us up to examine our selves, whither or no we are not going into Apostacy by this; aske every one his own heart, can we not lanch forth into any sin, do violence, steale &c. and yet go & stand before the Lord and say, we are delivered to do all these abominations: Sin and pray, and pray and sin again, with as much greediness as ever; come before God and make our confessions, tell him a large story of what sins we have been overtaken withall, and seem to beg his pre­sence and help against it, as though we were willing and desirous to be rid of it, and yet go away, and strive no more against the temptati­on, nor set our selves in opposition against the sin then we did before; but entertain the same with greediness, the very next time we meet an opportunity and provocation, be as vain, as passionate, &c as ever; and when all is done, then come and rense them over again in few tears and empty confessions: and so wipe our mouths, and say, what have I done; if the matter so with us, this is an evidence to us of the depth of hypocrisie in our hearts; well, let us look to our selves, we may thus please our selves into a vain hope and soul delusion, but let us know that God and our sins will find us out.

Doct. 6. Hypocritical service is no better the [...] robbery, pretended service to God: to come reaking from our sins into the house of God to perform a few formal duties, and when we have done, to go thence again with more greedy desires after it; what is this, but to turn the house of God into a den of Robbers.

Reas. 1. Because God is hereby robbed of that glory which is due to his Name, who requires hearty service; which the hypocrite offers up to the Idol of his heart, and not unto God; he gives that glory which is alone due to God, to his graven Images, to his own by ends and aims; God requires the heart, because he knows that that is the lea­der of all the rest of the faculties, and it is his due, for he made it; but the hypocrite steals the best piece of the sacrifice from God, and is not this Robbery.

Reas. 2. Because the sinner hereby robs himself of all the good which he should otherwise get by his [...] that were done in sincerity. Ezek. 14. 7, 8 God hath made great promises to sincerity, in manifold ex­pressions in Scripture, but he denounceth s [...]re woes upon hypocrites, destructive desolation and ruine; so that it is [...] lost, and [...] our­selves out from good.

[Page 9] Use To condemn that spirit of hypocrisie which is ready to seize upon our hearts, will you give entertainment to secret sins, and forsake God in your hearts, live in a way and course of disobedience, and yet here come before God in solemn and serious duties, as though you were good Christians; God looks upon you as no better then a company of Robbers, you do at the present rob him of his glory; but, assure your selves, he will not be a looser by you, the time hastens when he will come and recover his honour out of your hands: and you rob your selves of all the good you might get by such opportunities as these; oh! if such duties were done in truth and sincerity, they would b [...]ing in a plenteous harvest; fasting days would be our best feasting days, God would both accept of us, and also crown us with admirable blessings; but it we will come with an Idol in our hearts, cry out against such sins as we bear an entire love unto, confess those evils we never intend to leave off in our course, assure we our selves we shall be found the greatest self Cheaters in the end.

Doct. 7. God takes notice of, and will find a time to punish the wick­edness of a sinning people; for both these are understood in the words. ver. 11. I behold it, and will requ [...]te it: so Psal. 35. 22, 23.

Reas. From the Attributes of Omniscience and Iustice.

1. God knows all things, nothing can escape his sight, because his eye is every where. Pro. 15. 3. he knows all things, even the secrets of the hearts of men, for he made them, every room and corner of them; he therefore keeps a key to them, he must needs be Omniscient, for he is Omnipresent in all places, by his essential presence; intimate with all things: Acts 17. 28.

2. He observes all things, and there is reason for it, because he admi­nisters the affairs of the whole world; Psal. 33. 13, 14, 15. All acti­on of the creatures in the world flow as to their principle from him, and therefore he cannot but take notice of them

3. He will requite, for he is just and cannot but give them their deme­rit Jer 5. 29 he is the judge of the whole world, and therefore must be just, he is the highest and supream ju [...]g beyond whom there is no appeal, and therefore had need be just; yea, he is engaged by his Word to do justice and execute judgment upon sinners for their sins

Use 1. To shew us how vain a thing it is to go about to deceive God with vain service, whiles our [...] estranged from in; if we had to deal with man like our selves, we [...]ght easily cast a [...] before their [Page 10] eyes, and make them believe strange matters, but God who can in no ways cheat or deceive, though we cover our service with a cloak of de­ceit, yet God can tell us whether it be alive or dead; and if we go about so to serve him, he will make us to know sooner or later, that he took good notice of them in the day when he comes to set our sins in order before us, and tell us this we did at such a time, and that abomination at another time: See Psal. 50. 18. &c.

Use. 2. This may certifie the sinner, that God will take a time to rec­kon with him, the alseeing eye sees thee, and cannot chuse but take no­tice of thee, and he will call thee to an account, though be may seem to wink at present and not to take notice of thy wayes and doings, but to let thee alone; yet I promise thee time will be when thou shalt know it to thy cost, that he is not such an one as thou art, nor did ever give his consent to and approbation of thy wayes and doings: and therefore is there any here that lyes and lives in sin; deceive not thy own soul, but let it awaken thee to look about thee, and make thy peace with God, for otherwise what he hath spoken he will performe, he will not come short of his threatnings any whit more then his promises, let then that counsel be acceptable. Am. 4. ult. meet God with Repen­tance, before he meet us with his heavy plagues But I come from the Context to the words of the Text: God having counselled and warned them; the further to awaken and effect their hearts, and pre­serve them, sets a lively example before them: in every way suiting and answering the present state of Jerusalem, he therefore sets it forth. 1. By the title it once bare, the place &c. 2. By the evils which were brought upon it: where, 1. The author, God himself: what I did. 2. The procuring cause, the wickedness of my people Israel: Hence.

Doct 8. The example of Gods judgements upon his own people for their sin and wicked Apostacy, are very useful and solemn considerations for all professors of Religion: the Lord sends lerusalem to Shiloh, and for what end, only to see, what he did, and for what, to view his judge­ments in their causes and effects; to see, i. e. not only to look on, but to consider them seriously, and to make use of them to themselves; and learn something from it for their own conviction; by comparing ca­ses together.

The ground of the truth we may understand if we consider a few pro­positions: viz.

1. God hath one rule of dealing with all his externally covenanted [Page 11] people in the world, and that because the covenant with them all runs upon the same terms and conditions, for it is a conditional Covenant; in the which there is a promise and a threatning, a promise annexed to obedience, but a threatning denounced against disobedience. Isa. 1. 19, 20. It is true, God reserves a soveraignty to himself as to the circum­stances of his dealings with his people in one place or in another; without either infringing his Covenant, or rendring to the creature a Reason of that variety; hence, possibly patience and mercy may lon­ger wait upon some then others, some God may come severely out against, for breach of Covenant, and to others he may condescend to allow a greater space to repent in, as he pleaseth, and he does not the least wrong or injury in so doing, because he is both supream, and hath ends in all his judgements, beyond the capacity of the creatures find­ing out; but, as to the essence of the Covenant, he thus far stands po­sitively and absolutely engaged to reward obedience, and to punish disobedience; which flows from his everlasting righteousness.

2. Examples of Gods judgements upon his own people for their sins, are evident confirmations and testimonies that he is a God who proceeds impartially according to his own Rule; as when Laws are executed according to the tenor of them upon malefactors in the Kingdome, we now know that such Laws were not meer scare-crows, made only to fright, but not to hurt, but that there was reality in the Law-makers, and that they were really set against such evils to subvert and root them out, and may teach others to expect what to meet with, in the like ca­ses: so, when God punisheth sin in his people according to his threat­ning in his word, we now see that those threatnings are realities; that his orders and constitutions are not bug-bears, but realities, that sin shall not go unpunished. Hence God declares in his word, that he will be known to be God in his judgements. Exek. 28. 22 if men will not believe the word, that God will do as he hath said, but presume upon his mercy and patience; when he takes his rod into his hand, now he is mad, that believs not.

3. Hence, Examples have matter of precept in them. Gods judge­ments are documents, there are doctrinal conclusions to be drawn for our instruction out of them, hence, we shall find God in Scripture cal­ling upon his people to look upon Examples. thus, Luk. 17. 32. 2. Pet. 2. 4, 5, 6. &c. If God have thus dealt with such a people, we may thence conclude he will deal so with those that are so qualified, if [Page 12] we enjoy the same priviledges that Israel did, and make no better use of them then they made of theirs, we may expect to be visited as well as they were, and not only may we argue a pari, but also ab impari, from the lesser to the greater; if Israel so priviledged were not spared; how much less shall we be spared, who exceed them in priviledges, if sinners under the Law found no favour, how much sorer punishment may sinners under the Gospel expect: God writes his severe truths with the blood of his disobedient Subjects, and makes their ruinous heaps to proclaim knowledg and counsel to the rest of the world: Sodom's ashes, Shiloh's fire, Ierusalem's desolation, are uses of instruction to the Inha­bitants of the Earth.

4. Examples are of wondrous benefit to give efficacy to Doctrines, and move upon the affections, and bring them to consideration, they are useful to perswade; and to move the soul to make out after God: Psal. 78.6, 7, 8.

1. Because there is a natural sympathy between the children of men, there is a kind of a fellow feeling of sufferings; when we read only of Doctrines, these may reach the understanding, but when we read or hear of Examples, humane affection doth as it were represent to us the case as our own; whereupon the judgements of God, do in the very hearing dwell upon the thoughts, and take upon the heart: when I read the story of Sodom's overthrow, me thinks I see the Sun rising in glorious brightness, the Sodomites sporting and pleasing themselves in their opulence and security; when on a sudden, me thinks I see the heavens covered with those sable clouds, and hear the great Cannon of heaven thundring down tempests upon them, and the streams of fire with horror and dread, till I behold a proud City, on a sudden be­come a desolate heap; when I read Ierusalems history, me thinks I see the battering Engines placed against the walls, the proud enemy climb­ing up the battlements, the feeble and saint-hearted Citizens flying in­to corners, overtaking by the insulting foe; who without mercy or pity sheaths his sword in their bowels; me-thinks I see the fire-balls flying [...] and fro, and the glorious buildings, the work of many years, yeelding to that prevailing and mercyless enemy, I hear the cries of ravished virgins and bereaved Orphans, yea, I look on till I see all Gods threatnings fulfilled, and the glory of the Nations stript of all ornament and become a widow, &c.

2. Because examples come in by the senses, and these have a great [Page 13] stroake to more the affections, and they perswade the heart of man. Lam. 3. 51.

3. Because Examples have an awakening voice in them, when judg­ment comes into the world, it carries awe with it, it sensibly moves the soul to have consideration; such as these are natural influences up­on the heart of such as have any remainder of an acting conscience in them. viz.

1. Why may not the same judgments befall us, what grounds have we to promise our selves security, and immunity from the same plagues & miseries which are upon others.

2. Hereupon they put the c [...]eature in mind of its ways and doings, what they have been; now conscience, if it be not altogether seared and be­nummed, reads the creature a more close and severe Lecture then usu­all, now those sins that he had before lived in forgetfulness came afresh into his memory.

3. Hence they are to put the creature into fear of the same wrath and terror, as Scholars, when they see their Master take the rod in hand, to punish offendors; every one presently considers what his faults have been, and if he have been tardy, he stands quivering, and quak­ing, fearfully expecting when his time and turn will come to be called sorth.

4. Now the soul is put upon the study and consideration how to prevent and escape severe and like plagues, now he be-thinks himself of making his peace of coming and seeking a pardon; for fear least by obstinacy he bring himself to [...]ine.

5. Now the creature is alarm'd to Repentance, he had calls before, but those he regarded not, but now he sees there is no longer delaying and playing with the threatnings of God, and now, if ever, is the soul in a likely way to be reclaimed.

Use Of counsel and exhortation to us, in the words of the Text, go to Shiloh, &c. In the prosecution of which use, I shall.

1. Bring you to Shiloh, and shew you what God did to it, and for what,

2. Draw some useful instructions from the consideration of Shiloh, and press them in a few words of counsel.

1. Then, go to Shiloh: and here consider,

  • 1. What Shiloh was,
  • 2. What were their sins.
  • 3. Gods judgments on it.

[Page 14] 1. What Shiloh was, we have it in the words of the Text in two things.

1. It was Gods place: i. e. a peculiar place which he had chosen to himself, his chief place.

2. It was the place where God set his name at the first: i. e. It was the first Tent, or Tabernacle where God see up his Ordinances, and called his name upon it, after he had given to his people Israel possession of the land of Canaan: as we shall find in Joshua 18. 1. here it was that after the Arke had been unsettled for 40 years and upward in the wil­derness, [...] first chose it a fixed place, here was God worshiped first af­ter he had granted a settlement to his people Israel. The Tabernacle was a Testimony of Gods presence with his people, hither the Tribes came up to worship, here it was that God manifested his great glory, by this it was that God declared Israel to be a peculiar people to himself, so that Shiloh was not only a part of God dwelling place, for so were all the Tribes, nor only a habitation of Gods people, for so were all other Cities, Towns and Villages where Israel dwelt, but it was the place of Gods manifesting himself to his peole, his especial habitation.

2. What was the wickedness of Shiloh; for the Lord shews that it was for that, he did that to it, which he had done; Text, now we shall see the sin of Shiloh, if we look into 1 Sam. 2. 12. &c. which was the sin of the Priests in contemning the Ordinances of God, giving an e­vil example to the people, and enriching themselves in a way of abuse of Gods Institutions, and thereby discouraging the people from serving of God, and of Eli in bearing with the wickedness, and not severely punishing the sin of his sons, which God interprets as a preferring them before him. ver. 21. &c. and Psa. 78. 41. to 60. where their horrible ingratitude in forgetting Gods mercies, and woful Idolatry is declared this was Israels sin, the Priests and people were polluted and defiled, and alienated from God; there was a continuance of Ordinan­ces and sacrifice, but both abuse of Ordinances and Idolatry, both in profession and practice.

3. The judgments of God upon his people Israel, and upon Shiloh in particular: we shall find recorded in scripture, what God did to it; for that is the thing which God would have in especial be minded, look into 1 Sam. 4. 10, 11: where you shall find the judgment denounced, and more amply we shall read of the execution of it in Psal 78. 59. to 68. where we have described unto us, the effects of their sins.

1. In [...] of Gods affections from them, turning of his for­mer [Page 15] love into hatred, ver. 59. God had formerly loved Israel, they were to him a choice people, tender as the apple of ones eye, tenderly taken care for, and foltered by him, protected from evils, dandled in the lap of his providence, and singularly respected by him; as we shall find amply related to us in Deut. 32. 7, &c. But now his heart was hardned against them, and his former love turned into abhorrence and detestation.

2. The consequents following upon this, or the tokens whereby God signified and expressed his displeasure unto them, which are.

1. God departed and forsook them, even his own house not only the other Cities, of Israel, but even his own tent at Shiloh, [...].

2. When God had left them, all miseries followed, [...] &c. their crown was taken from their head, and their enemies which formerly were tributary to them, now lord it over them, yea, an universal d [...]ge of miseries came upon them, as you may there read. Thus you [...], once chosen by God, where he set up his Ordinances, made his [...] to dwell, and shone forth in his wonderful glory: forsaken by God, and buryed in its own ruines, altogether disowned and refus­ed as a place of abhorrence and contempt.

3. Let us consider what we may learn at Shiloh, observe here even from the consideration of this example.

1. That God hath no where on earth so engaged himself and his presence, but that sin may drive him away: where was his name greater then at Shiloh; there was the Tabernacle, there was the Priests and Levites serving, there were daily morning and evening sacrifices, thither came the tribes yearly to appear before God, there were the seals of Gods Covenant, yet is Shiloh deserted and destroyed; Ierusalem may also witness this truth, the once dwelling place of God, where the Temple was, the place whereof God had said, this is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it. Psal. 132. 14. but now behold it de­serted and twice made the subject of Gods fury, and not so much as the ruines of it left to testifie what it was, a [...] not to be found upon a stone; hence therefore learn we not to promise our selves security if we be found in the ways of sin, whatsoever engagement and covenant God may seem to stand bound in unto us, God knows how to keep up his glory in the world, though we be ruinated, he can keep up a Church in the world, though we be left de [...]late; the stones of the field, if he but speak the word, shall rise up children of Abraham; the remotest [Page 16] ends of the earth shall come in, and the children of the Kingdom shall be thrust out; let not this therefore be your rest.

2. That Sion affords no more security to sinners then Sodom, Shiloh is as dangerous a place to sin in, as any in the world; if a people in covenant with God, be found rebellious, he will spare them no more then any other people, may he will begin with them. Am. 3. 2. judge­ment shall begin at his house; Shilohs ruines are a memorial of this, and declare how vain it is to take sanctuary in the Tabernacle, and shreud our selves from judgment under pretence of Gods covenant; Ierusalem smarted [...] for this sin, if Ioab be a man of death, it avails him not to take [...] the horns of the Altar:

Learn we therefore from hence, to beware to our selves, how we make bold to sin, and think the Covenant shall save us, if God find us re­bellious, & bold sinners, though we should hide our selves in the Tem [...]le, and take refuge under the pretended shadow of Gods promises of fa­vour and love to us, God will yet find us out, and will not spare us; whatever they plead for themselves. Mat. 7. 21, 22. yet Christs answer still is, I know you not; I tell thee, when God shall come forth to execute his judgements upon sinners, thy church membership, thy priviledges shall not save thee, God will no more regard thee for all this then if thou we [...]t an Indian; except it be to punish thee the more, because thy sins have therein been greater, and more hainous: if such pleas could have prevailed, who could have pleaded more then Shiloh and lerusalem.

3. General Apostacy makes way for general calamity, learn this in Shiloh; the Priests violated Gods Ordinances, and the people they provoked him with their Idols, and then see the effects. 1 Sam. 4. 10, 11. Israel is smitten, 30000 stain, the Ark lost, the Priests stain, read this also in lerusalem. 2 Chron. 36. 15, 16, &c. hence therefore what grea­ter request can we leave with God this day, than this, that he would prevent our general decay in grace, and to that end, that he would re­store the fallen, prevent the back [...]liding, and settle hi [...] own, that mer­cy may be settled among us; pray for rulers in Church and Common­wealth, that they may do right, and give good examples, and for all the body of people, that sin do not grow and encrease among them; if once we see a spirit of prevailing corruption spreading it self among us, we may read leading symptomes of destruction [...], & therefore may be roused up to ply the throne of grace, that such sad causes may be [Page 17] removed, and so our eyes may not see the natural direfull effect that flow from them.

4. Lenetie in Rulers, brings ruine upon a people, whether in com­mon wealth or in Churches: Rulers may be good men in themselves, so was Eli, but if they give way to sinfull forbearance in the executing of Justice according to the will of God, they are not occasions onely, but leading causes to the undoing of a people, because such a spirit a­nimates wicked spirits, and makes them bold to do perversely upon presumption of a pardon, or to be past by with some [...] proof; God chargeth Shiloh's destruction upon Eli, who was [...] Israel, and when his Sons the Priests did wickedly, he connives so far, as only to rebuke them, who being gotten beyond remorse or sense of reproof abused their Fathers patience, to add to their Rebellion; therefore must Shiloh be laid wast.

Hence therefore, let this teach us to pray unto God, to put a Spirit into our Rulers, Zealous against Sin, especially in these times of pre­vailing iniquity; and let us, in our place incourage them in so doing, by rejoycing in acts of Justice and severity, against such evils as grow and thrive among us: Pray that they may not respect persons, nor en­courage some in sin, by sparing others; especially remembring, that as long as such a spirit is in Rulers, what ever sins there be in a people, the [...] [...] still some to stand in the Gap.

5. The greatest Mercy abused by sin, give God the highest provocation God recounts what he had done for them, and what they had done a­gainst him, Israel sinned greivously, after such and such favours, and when God heard this, when this was the report brought him of the im­provement that they had made of all his mercyes, this brings them in­to abhorrence: and good reason there is for it, for every mercy is an obligation laid upon the creature to obedience; hence the greater the mercy is, the stronger tye lyes upon the creature; to sin therefore against mercy, grace, and speciall mereyes, is to break Gods strong cor [...] of Love, then which, what greater provocation can there be: Consider David & Han [...], 2 Sam. 10. Ingratitude in return for friendship, is the [...] hard to bear of any thing. Aske we then our own hearts, what [...] we have made of all those great mercies which our God hath be­stowed up on us: great favours we have had, equal with those he had shewed to his people at Shiloh; yea, if all things be considered, we may well say, Superiour unto them, in as much as the layes of the Gospel [Page 18] afford far greater light, then the dayes of the Law did; and have we remembred what God hath done for us? so as to make our returns unto him; hath he had his tribute of thankefull Obedience? have we lived up to our enjoyments? have we been singular in holiness? as we have been singular in the means of holiness; of have we not rather grown vain and loose, and prophane? despising of the meanes, and hardening our hearts against the Counsels of God? if it be so with us, Go to Shiloh, and tremble.

6. A [...] forsaken of God are in the road way to all misery: we read, [...] sakes his Tent which was in Shiloh, and what follows, but ruine and waste, and an universal deluge of destruction: all woes fol­low when he is gone, Hos. 9. 12. and reason there is for it; for his fa­vour is the life of a people, his protection is their only defence; well may it therefore be said of a people, deserted by God, their rock hath sold them into the hands of misery: fear we therefore to provoak God to leave us. Consider,

1. All our blessings are in his hand, he holds us as his dispose, if any people in the World, then to be sure we are at Gods provision, who have no store but what his yearly blessing brings in unto us.

2. Sin will provoke him to leave us, for he is a God of [...] to behold iniquity, i. e. with love, liking or approbation; his holiness engageth him to manifest signal discoveries of the contrariety which he hath against sin.

3. If when he repoves our sins, we harden our selves in them, it is a sure signe that he is forsakeing of us, Jer. 7. 28. Have we therefore given to God any provocation to unsettle himselfe, an think of a removall a­way from us: Oh let our repentance fetch him back and settle him.

Lastly. It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hands of the Living God: The Charracters of Gods wrath, & impressions of his Judgements re­maining upon Shiloh, teach us this Lesson: If God come once to ab­horr a people for their sins, and fall upon them in his Judgments; he meets them not as a man, but gives them a Divine siroak; if he [...] an­gry, his very countenance is terrible and amazing. Psal. 18. 8 [...] 3. what is he then, when he poures out his displeasure: [...] then from the example of Shiloh, to fear and dread provoaking the great God to wrath against us: what ever causes moving to this oc­casion, are in Gods goodness removed away from us, yet the remem­brance of our sins is matter sufficient to humble us before God this day; [Page 19] Better it is for us to bow our selves before him, left he break us in pieces: and therefore let it be our great endeavour to meet God in the way by Repentance, before he come home to us in wrath, and fall upon us in his fore displeasure; let that be the great practical lesson that we learn at Shiloh. For motive:

1. Consider, God will not bear with sin, let him find it where he will: He is no respecter of persons, circumcised, or uncircumcised, if uncir­cumcised in heart: Jer 9. 25, 26. if he find it in Church, or Common­wealth, in Rulers, or Subjects; where he finds it, he will punish it.

2. God is yet willing to be met with Repentance, [...] many signs and tokens of Gods desire rather that we should [...] then dye, hence hath he drawn out his long suffering to so long a thread as he hath done; by following with counsels, and piece-mealing out his judgments.

3. There is all Reason we should acknowledge and repent, we are not able to give a good Reason, only we have sinned against him, that was unreasonable: Ier. 2 5. and if so, then needs must it be Rational, that we should see the evil, and take the shame to our selves of such unreaso­nable doings.

4. If God once take us in hand, he will be known, and make us to know too, how sad and miserable a thing it is for us to enforce him to cut us off; do we provoke him to [...], do we not rather provoke our own souls to ruine: Oh remember! remember! if we have made him our ad­versary by sin, he is yet in the way, though he may be coming in judg­ment, yet he waits to be gracious he hath waited long, turn not his pa­tience into fury, why should we be made like unto Shiloh: God is mercifull, true, but he is just too, and he can make his wrath known, ask Shiloh else, and they can tell you [...] story of it: Look on Shiloh, Look on Ierusalem, look on the [...] of desolate Churches, and take warning by these to fall down before God, to receive his re­proofs; if you be wise, be wife for your selves; turn to him, for why should [...]

[Page 21]
ISAIAH. 26. 9.When thy Judgements are in the Earth, the Inhabitants of the World will learn Righteousness.

THis Chapter is a Song, Celebrating the Prays [...]s of God, in his Judgments on his Enemies, and favours to his People; and is full of Spirituall matter.

The Song is appointed to be Sung by the Faith­full at their deliverance from the Babilonish Cap­tivity. In this 9th verse. The Church Declares;

1. Her own Frame under the Judgements of God: namely an Earnest and early Desire after him: In the night, Signifies in the darke and gloomy times of affliction, when they were under the Tyranny and Captivity of the Enemy, shut up as it were in dark­ness.

2. What should be the Frame of all that▪ see or hear of Gods ter­rible doings in the world, [...]it should teach them Righteousness: of which latter we may at this season make some improvement; and a little to open the Words.

[Page 22] [When thy Judgments;. &c.] Judgments are Acts of Divine Justice, Vindicative, all Gods dispensations to the creature, are cal­led either acts of Mercy or justice; Not as if there were a con­tradiction in these two; God is Just where he is Mercifull, i.e. his being mercifull doth not infringe or wrong his justice at all: and where God is Just, he is Mercifull also, in this world; be­cause his justice is here dispensed with moderation; though the time be comeing when he will execute justice without mercy:

But wherein any act of Divine Providence, one of these Attri­butes is more visible to the creature then the other, thence it re­ceives its Denomination.

Judgments, are Judicial acts of Gods Severity in the World, wherein he declares himselfe to be set against sin or sinners; Some translate it Chastizements: Judgment sometimes intend proper act; of Revenging justice; when God comes forth to right himselfe up­on his enemies, in their wonderfull destruction: Sometimes severe afflictions, though intended for the amendment of those who suffer them: the word signifies properly, a doing right.

[Righteousness] The word signifies Truth and Equity: it is of­tentimes in Scripture restrained to second Table dutyes, and then it is distinguished from Holyness, which referrs to first Table dutyes, but here, as in many other places, it is used more largely, to signifie a reformation of Life, and universal Anastasy, or Reclaim­ing from their former sinfull courses.

[Will learne] This is spoken as if such an effect should come to pass in all that should see and hear of Gods judgements; for the Scripture speaks of some, that when Gods hand was upon them, they sinned yet more: thus Ahaz: 2 Chron. 28.22. but it is spoken either,

1. By way of Presumption, as if they should say, surely they will learn righteousness. or,

[Page 23] 2. Expressing what ought to be, as if it would be; such a thing should be, and if men were in a right frame, it would be: the meaning is, that there is matter enough in Gods judgements to awaken the world to righteousness. Hence,

Doct. The Judgements of God in the World carry along with them an universal awakening call to Righteousness. When God comes forth rid­ing in his fiery Chariot, and dispenseth terrible things among the chil­dren of men, it sends forth a loud cry to the world to reform and amend their ways. By way of Explication, Consider a few things.

First. All judgements are of God, it's said thy judgements, they come from him: here observe,

1. Some judgements are more immediate, they come by an unseen hand and in an unknown way, we see the effects, but are not able to track them in their causes; of such as these, even an Egyptian Ma­gician must say, lo the finger of God.

2. Other judgements come mediately by the mediation or efficiency of Instruments, second causes are the next occasion of them, and these are either.

1. Devils, who have a great stroake in many effects of providence, they come by Divine permission, God giving them a license, so far as he sees meet for his own ends; and sometimes they come with a Com­mission from God on his errands, who shall for us perswade Ahab to go to Ramoth Gilead and fall? I, faith the Devills, go, saith God, and prosper, 1 Kings 22. 20. &c.

2. Men, who are many times the meanes of bringing sore and sad, calamities upon their fellow creatures, being used and improved by God to that end, by Warrs, and desolations that follow then, upon, thus God used the Philistins, Syrians, Assyrians &c. to af­flict Israel and Judah.

3. Bruit beasts and unreasonable creatures, who serve their great Lord against man, when he rebells against God, which otherwise should have been subservient to him: thus the fiery Serpents in the wilderness, the two shee Bears, to tear in peeces the mocking chil­dren, thus Locusts, Caterpillers, Palmer wormes &c.

4. Elements, Starrs, Rivers, Vapours, Rain, Drought &c the Starrs fought in their course against Sisera, the brook [...]ishon swept them away Judg 5.

[Page 24] By all these meanes God may bring severe punishments upon the creture for his sin: but all these are from God, they are his Judgments, and come of his errand. This appears;

1. From the Supream Efficiency of God; all creatures move as they are moved by him: in the matter of the action, if he give not his Efficiency, they can do nothing at all: in him we live, move and have our being: his Efficiency is the first mover, he is as it were the first wheel of the great clock of the world, or the spring of this watch: Second beings have an operation, but it hath an absolute dependence upon his Co- [...] that if so much as a dog wag his tongue against us, there is [...] only Divine permis­sion in it, but Divin Efficiency also.

2. From his Providential Ordering of all the affaires of the world: God sits King upon the flood Psal. 29. 10. He is Soveraign disposer of all things, and therefore good and evill comes from him, who­ever it be that doth it. Amos 3.6. God saith David, bid Shemei [...].

[...] 3. Because Prayer to God hath been the meanes of turning aside judgment, yea even then when Instruments have done their worst, the people of God in their distress, have but acquainted God with it, end sought him in the case, and the buisiness hath been done: thus David prayes to God to turn the counsell of Achitophel into foolish­ness, and its done; and he who formerly was looked upon to speak Oracles, is now disregarded: Hezekiah doth tell, go into the the house of God, and spread Rabshekah's raling letter before him and leaves the case with him; and the next newes is, an Angel is sent from heaen, who slayes in one night an hundred, four score and five thousand of his enemies, 2 Kings 19.35. Hence we have the Church­es confidence in Gods protection, enabling them to sound a cha­lenge to their enemies to do their worst against them. Isa. 8. 9, 10. there is their boldness, God is with us.

Secondly. All those acts of Divine Providence, wherein God dis­covers his severity in any degree against sin, are properly the Judgments of God: wherever God layes his heavy hand upon a people: whe­ther.

1. In Revenging himself upon his enemies, by cutting them off, or sorely visiting them.

[Page 25] 2. In Punishments and [...] upon his people, when for their amendment he brings disappointments and afflictions upon them; for in both these God doth 1. Shew himself set against [...]: 2. Do right.

Thirdly, Judgements are either

1. More ordinary dispensations of Divine Providence, such as are more common; as the usual afflictions which God brings upon any in way of penalty, viz. Sicknesses, Crosses, Losses, Poverty, [...] Rain, Famine, Pestilence &c these are Gods usual Scourge, [...]

2. More [...] some remarkable [...] not usual doth [...] as are more [...] frequent, such as Possession by Devils, Deaths by Thunder and [...] and the li [...]e.

Pourthly, Judgements are either

1. Private and Personal, when God shews his severity upon persons or [...] are singled out from others to be the subjects of af­flection. Or

2. General and Epidemical Visitations, when God comes and brings a [...] go upon a Country or a People.

Fifthly, Judgements are either

1. Outward, when the next and immediate subject they [...] upon is mens Bodies or Estates, and damnifie them in either. Or

2. Spiritual. When they seize upon mens Souls and Spirits; as Di­stractions. Desperations, &c. I mention these distinctions, partly that we may be the better directed to a careful observance, that we may discover God coming in his several awful dispensations upon us, and purely because we may improve some of them in the Application.

Sixthly, All Judgements whatsoever, and in what way soever they come, are Doctrinal, they bring instruction and teaching along with them, to those that either see or heart of them; they are speaking Providences.

Here consider, 1. That they are Doctrinal, 2. How far they are so.

1. That all Judgements are Doctrinal, will appear, if we consider,

First, that Judgments in relation to the subject of them, are acts of the Soveraign Justice of God. There are [...] in this Position.

1. They are Acts of Justice, because God visits none beyond their sins desert: what-ever Gods dealing be to any, he will vindicate him­self [Page 26] that he doth them no wrong, there is sin enough in the creature to make him to justifie God when [...]e judgeth, Psal. 51. 3, 4. Job 40 4, 5.

2. They are Acts of Sover [...]ign Justice: which appears, because God doth not visit all alike in the world, whose sins are alike, but picks and chuseth as he sees meet, some to be monuments of his severity, whiles others are left. Gods Soveraignty herein appears, because he follows no other Rule but his [...] pleasure, in making choice whom to dispense Judgements, and whom to leave; so that sometimes he leaves, and lets alone, such as have been [...] sinners in many ag­gravating respects, whiles he takes other [...] have not been so no­torious: and therefore our Saviour Christ, to them enquiring about the man born blinde, removes the cause from them to Gods Soveraignty, Joh. 9. 2, 3.

Secondly, they naturally teach these lessons:

1. That God is a just God, that he is set against sin, and will not alwayes [...] with sinners: dayes of patience make sinners forget, yea Atheistically think God is not holy and just; but he is known in his Judgements, these are beginning discoveries before the great and general Assizes.

2. That God will sooner or later be revenged upon sinners: every monument of Divine Revenge lectures out what others may look for and expect at the hands of God. Gods Judgements declare that sin shall not alwayes go unpunished, that though there be a day of for­bearance, yet there shall also be a day wherein they shall receive their wages.

3. That there shall be a great Day of Judgement: for if some sin­ners are here taken, and others in this world forborn, according to the pleasure of Gods Soveraign will, this shews that there must be another day above and besides all these Judgement-dayes, wherein God sits upon some sinners in this world.

4. That there is no security in a state of sin, though we are not such notorious sinners as others, yet are we under sin; we lye open and liable to the Judgements of God, and may as soon as others be made monuments of it. It is no cloak to say, I am not as bad as such and such. Art thou out from the promise of Gods special grace? thou art every day open to Judgement

5. That there [...] our peace with God: if God [...] the Scepter, and [...] upon sinners, we are [Page 27] in a dangerous state as long as we are not agreed with him, but have him for our adversary. And hence the conclusion is to teach men righteousness, to forsake those sins that are provoking to God, and lay hold upon him in a way of true Repentance, in time, for his mer­cy, le [...]t we also be made monuments of his wrath▪ this is the voice of all the Judgements of God which they speak to the [...].

II. How far they are Doctrinal: This is considerable, [...]ther in re­spect of

1. The Judgements themselves. All Judgements serve to teach, they have a voice in them, but some cry louder then others. There is a voice in common calamities and disappointments, but a louder voice in extraordinary Judgements; Natural causes bring awful. Judge­ments, but more awful when they are Preternatural; every sickness and disease, every cross and loss speaks, but when God goes out of the ordinary path, here is a more awakening Call. In a word, the [...] stupendio [...]s and admirable the Providence is, the louder is the voice of God, and more clear to be heard, for then the Lion roars, [...] 3 8.

2. Of the Places wherein they are:

(1.) Judgements remote have a voice to us, let them be never so fa [...] off [...] we have any cognizance of them, for the Text limits it to no narrower bounds then the World.

(2.) But Judgments near are more loud: when a fire is in our neighbours house, it then bids us to look about us to secure our own▪

(3.) But Judgements at home are most loud of all, in our Town, on in our Families, for then God cries among us, yea the stroke of his R [...]d is upon us, and therefore i [...]s high time for every one to see to himself.

3. In respect of Senses:

(1.) Judgements heard of are awful, for this is a great sense of di­scipline. But

(2.) Judgements seen and felt are more dreadful and awakening; and the Reason is, Because these Senses are more intelligent, and less f [...]ll [...]cious: we may question the truth of reports, but what we see and feel we have less cause to suspect▪ If any Sense can inform with­out fallacy, it is these; as also these are the most affecting Senses, The eye affects the heart, much more then when the hand of God lyes heavy upon a person.

[Page 28] Seventhly, It is the will and command of God that his Judgements should learn men righteousness.

Reas. 1. Because he singles out some to shew his judgements upon, and takes not all sinners as he might do: this shews that God would have men improve this day of his presence to Repentance. God hath Pleas enough against others, and might have executed his wrath on them, but when he does not, he shews that he would have others to get good by it.

Reas. 2. Because God in his Word calls men to consider and observe his Judgements; he declares it to be his will, that when he visits any in severity for their sins. All Israel should hear, and fear, and do no more so. When God would reclaim Judah from their vain confidence, and awaken them to repentance, he sends them to Shiloh, to see what wastes and desolations he had there made, Jer. 7. 12.

Reas. 3. Because none of Gods Providences are in vain, God doth nothing in the world to no purpose.

Reas. 4. Because God does by his awakening Judgements teach them he intends good to: David professeth, Thy judgements make me, afraid, i.e. afraid to sin, afraid to be licentious and remiss in my life and wayes.

Reas. 5. Because God doth charge the neglect of this duty upon Judah as a great, grievous, and provoking sin: when he had executed his judgements upon her sister Aholah (Israel, the [...]en Tribes) that Aholibah (Judah) held on her own old courses of sin, and was no what affected there withall, nor did by it learn to amend, Ezek. 23.

Use 1. Or Information of our judgements in divers things:

1. That Afflictions and Calamities are not by casualty, they are Gods Judgements, ordered and [...]ore-determined by him; not a Spar­row falls to the ground without him: and therefore let it teach us not to slight them, o [...] look upon them in a negligent manner, as things that come promiscuously, and imprudently to pass, but by the wise disposal of God. See God in all that falls out in the world, and adore him.

2. That it is our duty to look beyond Instruments in every Judge­ment that befalls us. It is true, Instruments are some of them ra­tional some are [...]; and hence some Instruments may be [...] give opportunity, may in a way of Equity b [...] proceeded against: but we must not rest in [Page 29] the malice of Instruments, but look [...], and see the hand of God: its a foolish dog that runs after the stone, and mindes not the hand that threw it. If we look upon the most [...]ational Instruments, as they be in the hands of God, and consider them as under his Sove­raign [...], they are no more then [...] or Knife, or any other instrument in the hands of a man: The Assyrian my [...] Isa. 10. 5. Hence God is nevertheless to be seen for the malice of spight of the creature, because he improves even the wrath of man to his praise, and the remainder of wrath he restrains. [...]earn we hence in all the Judge­ments that befall us, not so much to say what means the instruments, but what provokes God, though Syrian before and Philist [...]m behinde, yet [...]et Israel return to God that smi [...]es him.

3. That times wherein god brings his Judgements among a people, are solemn times, and ought to be [...] with solemnity; they are times of serious consideration, H [...]g. 15 and humiliation. God when he visits a people in Judgement, bids [...] he trumpet. [...] a [...] assembly▪ return to the Lord with weeping, willing, and lamentation. J [...] 2. 1, 2, 13. We are not therefore before God this day in this so­lemn duty, uncalled for.

4. That no person that sees on hears of Gods Judgements is un­concerned: if he be an inhabitant of this world, there is a voice to him. Learn we therefore to have a care of disinteresting our selves, or saying, What relation hath this or that to me?

5. That the more of Gods Judgements have been among a people▪ the more God will have against them, if they repent not; God will have despised Judgements to lay to their charge: it will be an heavy aggravation of such a peoples sin, that they have not onely had and enjoyed Gods Ordinances among them, but those backed with his Truth-confirming Providences, speaking once and again, speaking to many Senses at once, and yet they have got nothing by them; this is an argument of an exceeding hard heart. Gods Judgements in this world, if we repent not, will not mitigate but increase our judgements and woes in another.

Use II. For Reproof. And here let me come home in this Use and the next, to the case and providence which hath occasioned this dayes solemnity, the awful Judgement of God that is among us: and the Reproof is, That [...] Judgements o [...] God that have befallen us, and [...] more nor [...] made [Page 30] use of by us then it is. Let this consideration have its weight in hum­bling us this day before God.

1. We may all [...] with our own hearts, that we are no more af­fected with it, that there is so much ice and coldness in us, that our affections are scarce warmed with such a providence; we may lay our hands upon our mouthes, and be angry with our selves, that we finde such a chilness upon our affections. But

2. Particularly, those deserve a Reproof,

First, That make all their application of those whom the Judgement is upon: Oh the spirit of censure that is in too many, and there they rest; Surely there is some special reason, some more then ordinary provocation, why else is God come out upon that Family, rather then upon any other Family? I do not here speak to make those whom the Judgement nextly concerns, to be regardless of Gods hand upon them; no, let them know that God calls them into the School of Search, and would have them in particular try what is the meaning of his so severe coming out against them, that they may learn to [...] in silence, and justifie him: But I speak to others, who are apt to judge of persons by providences, though Scripture teacheth us that all things fell out alike unto all. And therefore let such consider,

1. This practice is contrary to our Saviours precept, who admo­nisheth others by such providences to learn this lesson, that except they repent, they shall likewise perish, Luke 13. 2, 3. it seems personal appli­cation suits better, its the wisest way to bring all things home to our own Souls; that might be profitable to us.

2. This is to forget our own sinfulness: whiles we judge and cen­sure others, we do tacitly justifie our selves, and think our selves bet­ter then others; we interpret our merit rather then [...], mercy to be the distinguishing cause: and is not this to lift up our selves too high?

3. This is to forget divine Soveraignty: God all this while is not adored by us in his Supreme uncontrolable disposal which he hath of all creatures, to lay his hand where he pleaseth, without giving ac­count to the creature. Consider well with thy self, and it may be thou hast been ten times a greater sinner, if all the circumstances of aggravation were well pondered and weighed, but God [...] ends best known to himself hath thus dealt.

4. This is the way to rob God of the glory of his goodness to thee [Page 31] in preserving thee from this sad Calamity, [...]hereas if thou reflect in­ward, thou mightest see so much of provocation in thy own heart, and so many grievous obliquities and wanderings, that it would set thee into a rapture of admiration, at the unspeakable favour which appears in thy preservation, who mightest have been chosen in the room of this person, to have been hung up as a sign, and a wonder, and an astonishment, for others with sad hearts to have looked upon.

5. This is not to learn Righteousness; for that is onely by draw­ing conclusions home to our selves, and making the case our own: yea, this is a way to harden our hearts in wickedness. Let us there­fore learn to make a better use of this tremendous Providence.

Secondly, Those that look not beyond Instruments. There is a great deal of enquiry made about the Devils agency, and raising of Spirits against such as we are ready to think may be his subservient actors in this case, but how many are there that look no further. Consider,

1. This is to forget the Supremacy of Divine Providence; we do not remember that God sits and rules over Men and Devils, and that in such an uncontrolable manner, that Earth and Hell cannot move to any act upon the creature, unless he permit them.

2. It tends to hinder the right efficacy of this Judgement upon the Soul; for it raiseth, and humbles not the Soul of the creature: it is the way to provocation and exasperation, to bitterness and rage, from the consideration of the virulency of the enemy, and that we have [...] deserved it at their hands, &c. whereas if we looked beyond these, to God the prime Efficient, it would teach us silence, and holy submission: I was dumb, &c. because thou didst it, Psal. 39. 9.

Thirdly, Those that look upon the Providence with slighty and common affections, whose hearts are not awed by it, but look upon it as matter of [...] or no concernment, are as jocund, as vain, as light, as frothy as ever they were: there are too many of these Con­sider,

1. This argues that God is not feared by such hearts, those that fear not God [...] his Judgements, especially in such Judgements, may well be thought not to fear him at all. Assure thy self if this Provi­dence, so solemn, have left no impression upon thee, thou hast a heart as hard as [...]

2. [...] should learn Righteousness: the [Page 32] Affections are the feet of the Soul, if these move not, there is little good to be hoped for in such an one, and therefore never look that such should get any good by it.

Fourthly, Those that have lost their Affections: it may be many were at the first, at the newness and strangeness of the sight and spe­ctacle, filled for a season with consternation; but now they are got­ten to their old wont again, and recovered their frights and amaze­ments, dried up their fears, and wiped their eyes, and they are where they were before: this shews that this Judgement had [...] depth of efficacy upon your souls, it was onely something external; it shews what your nature [...]s is. Oh, that's of a cold nature indeed, that will freeze while the fire is under it. Let all such consider, that they con­temn God, and harden their own hearts, and if he do not wonderfully set in, it will be to their own destruction.

Use III. For Exh [...]rtation and Direction. Oh let it be an awaken­ing word of Counsel to us all. We are now come together to affect our souls with this stupend Judgement of God which is among us, the Lord in mercy grant that it may teach us Righteousness; the voice of God cries aloud by it to this poor Town in a special manner, the Lord give us an hearing ear: let it be our great request, that he would bore our ear to instruction, that it may not pass by without doing us true and saving good. For Motive:

1. Let us consider the awfulness, of the Judgement it self: this is none of those ordinary dispensations of Gods Providence which are frequent and usual in the world, to be sure not among [...]; it is no common sickness and calamity, and yet if it had been no more it had been our duty to have wisely considered it, and given attention to the voice of it; but it is extraordinary and stupendious: it is not usuall for God to give Satan such liberty and power, so to rock and torture, so to hurry and perplex poor creatures, and therefore something [...] special to be learned by us, when God has leaves the common track, and comes in so unwonted a way of Judgement.

2. Consider how nearly we are related unto it above other in the Land: there is a voice in it to the whole Land, but in a more [...] manner to poor Groton; it is not a Judgement afar off, but it is [...] us, yea among us, God hath in his wisdome singled out this [...] Town our of all others in this Wilderness, to dispense such an ama­zing Providence in, and therefore let us make a more near and special [Page 33] use of it: Let us look upon our selves to be set up as a Beacon upon [...] Hill by this Providence, and let those that hear what hath been done among us, hear also of the good effects, and reformation it hath wrought among us.

3. Consider what advantage we have above others to be affected with it: others indeed may hear of it, relations may be carried from one place to another, and that may affect, yet not so much as when it is seen. Why, we may say as Job, I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee. Reports may be carried various, and that may wound a great part of the credit of it abroad in the world, as not knowing how or where to fasten their belief; however, when never so truly reported, it cannot carry the life of the thing with it: but we have seen, yea seen such things as one would think might melt, or break an heart of stone; we may carry about with us every day, the very pourtraicture of those Hellish and Diabolicall Cruelties, those strange Gestures, those dreadful Voices: and there­fore if we be not awed and affected by it, who should?

4. Consider how sad it will be for us, if we be not awed and af­fected with this Judgement, if we learn nothing by it: Oh how much will God have against us, above others! the nearer he hath come to us, and the more we are concerned in it, and the louder the Cry hath been to us, will all have their particular weight to increase our con­demnation, God will lay every circumstance to our charge, and as he hath singularly revealed his minde to us in it, so he will have a singu­lar provocation by it. Oh! little do we know how much this provi­dence slighted and misimproved will adde to the weight of our sins, and increase of our woes. Let it then be a solemn lesson to teach us Righteousness. For Direction:

First, Let us all in general learn something by it, let it afford us some practical conclusions, which may be for our use and benefit to instruct and teach us in wayes of Righteousness; namely,

1. Learn by it that Satan is busie in places of Gospel light, to se­duce and draw away Souls from attending the means of grace. The Light of the Gospel doth not clear and free places from Satan or his bold Temptations, these infernal Spirits of darkness will come thither, and there endeavour to raise mists and fogs to seduce souls; and there­fore let us learn not to live securely under the enjoyment of the Gospel of grace, but to spend our time of sojourning here in holy fear.

[Page 34] 2. That there is no place free, no not the House of God from Sa­tans Temptations: when thou art in Gods House, and thy bodily pre­sence to attend the Ordinances, the dispensing of the Gospel, Satan will come thither, as he often did to this poor creature, he will do all he can to steal away thy minde and meditation, he will begin a par [...] with thee that shall last as long as the Sermon, and thou shalt go away without receiving one word of instruction. Oh how can [...]e please thy fancy, and delude thy soul! and therefore let it awaken thee to be careful to keep thy foot when thou comest to the house of God, if thou wouldest not offer the sacrifice of fools, Eccles. 5. 1. The feet of the soul are the Affections, learn to be more watchful over them, to keep them from wandring, lest Satan meet and make a prey of them, and so steal away the feed of the Word from thee.

3. That discontent layes us exceeding open to the assaults of Satan, and gives him more then ordinary advantage to make discoveries of himself to us: little do we know how we do as it were invite the Devil by it. In any Government, discontented persons are fittest for Tray­tors to work upon: by discontent we discover a weariness of Gods Government, and therefore Satan is emboldened by it to come, yea to make his Apparitions, and strike in to the drawing over of poor crea­tures to enter a Covenant of Rebellion with him, and a wonder it is if any at such a time escape. Learn we therefore to be more watchfull over our own hearts, beware how we give any way to secret up­risings against the Providence of God.

4. That this world would be a sad place to live in, if it were not for Gods over-ruling Providence. Oh how busie is the Devil, that great Adversary of Souls! and [...]ow full is he of Cruelty! did not God re­strain his rage, he would soon make poor Mortals incapable of living here below: By the Claw you may judge of the Lion. We finde in Jobs case, he goes to the outside of his Commission: and here you have a lively spectacle of his venome and spight; Oh then let it awa­ken us to see by whom we are every day preserved and protected from the rage of Devils, God onely: Alas! what were we in the hands of these infernal Powers, if Gods Omnipotency did not restrain them. Let this make God more glorious in our eyes.

5. That there is no safety but under the wings of the Lord Jesus Christ: he onely is the strong man that can secure us from the posses­sion of Satan. Satan rules and reigns in this world, and you see how [Page 35] much power he holds over the children of disobedience. And there­fore learn hence both to bless God for Christ Jesus, who came into the world to destroy the works of the Devil; had he not come to set up, his Kingdome in this world, the Devil would have reigned Lord and King in all Souls, he onely is able to dispossess the strength, and un­castle the Powers of Hell: as also to fly under the wings of this Re­deemer for safeguard, that we may be freed from these cruel Enemies.

6. That visible Priviledges are no security from Satan: it's not e­nough to be baptized with water, unless we be also baptized with the holy Ghost, and with fire; it's not enough to be a Member of the vi­sible Church, if we be not also of Christs invisible Flock: Satan is not terrified by these outward things, he is not afraid to assault those that are Christs nominally, and to endeavour to make them his own really. [...] it teach us then to beware that we trust not in lying words, have a [...] of crying The Temple of the Lord; Satan desires no bet­ter advantage [...] us, then to draw us to rest secure upon this bot­tom. Bless God for our Priviledges, but rest not in them; prize, but do [...] them, if you would not be made the prey of Satan.

2 [...], Let us all in particular learn righteousness by this monument that is before us let it awaken us all to reform our hearts and lives, to be more careful to and over our selves for the time to come; let it in­deed appear that we have been proficien [...]s in this School of Gods Judgements, that God hath brought Correction and Teaching toge­ther, that so in the winding up it may be found an happy Judgement. Let us therefore apply it to our selves in our particular respects.

1. Let it be a Doctrinal Providence to Young and Old.

First, To you that are Elder, and more grown up in years, let it awaken you.

1. Consider how many more provocations God hath had from you, then he [...]ath had from this poor creature; how many more Or­dinances and Providences have attended upon you, then ever did upon her: think how long you have lived in Gods world, and yet have done him little or no service since you came into it: and therefore let this awaken you to see how it stands with you, how the matter goes between God and your Souls, whether you are secure under his wings, and at peace with him. When you see one so much younger then you thus visited, Oh think upon what ground you stand, fear [Page 36] the like or worse, if you are yet in an uncertain state. Let it in a [...] manner awaken old ones to make their calling and election sure, considering how much danger you are in.

2. Let it teach you how much you have had of the patience of God exercised towards you, that God hath born with and for born you so long; you have lived a great while longer in the world, and it may be have been more enormous and flagitious in your lives then ever this poor creature was: possibly you have lived in scandalous sins, and grievous pollutions: if you should consider, and ask a Reason why God hath taken her and not taken you, you may see and say, that if God had gone according to outward appearance, or ex­tremity of rigour, there had been transcendently more ground why he should have come upon you. Oh then, when you see one so young, and one not observed to be guilty of any flagitious crimes taken, while you are by Gods goodness spared, learn to admire at, and worship the patience of God towards you.

3. Let it therefore teach you to amend your wayes, and reform your lives, and that speedily: it may be a great argument to quicken you up no longer to use delayes, nor put off God coming to you in his Word, and perswading you by his Spirit to repent and return to him. Oh see in this lecture upon what slippery and dangerous ground you stand, and have stood all this while, and if God had been severe towards you, you had not had this opportunity of being called to Repentance; and then learn to shake off all delayes, to put by all ex­cuses, and bless God that you yet have an opportunity.

Secondly, You that are Young ones, behold here one of your Tribe and Form, as I may say, one of your own years pickt out of you by the wise Providence of God, to be made an object of Gods severity, and mans pity. Out of doubt [...] especial Cry to you Young ones, to Remember your Creator [...] of your youth: you have been often counselled and admonished in the House of God, yea ear­nestly and compassionately intreated to devote your young time to God, to give up the prime of your years to him; but you have slight­ed and disregarded such Counsels and Calls, and have taken up [...] that you would have your childish and youthful vanities, let God by his [...] say what he would to you: Well, now God hath [...] in his Providence, and thunders out his minde to you in [...] sad Object, and what do you now say to it? will you hear [Page 37] Gods voice, or will you for [...]? are you still resolved in your [...] courses, or will you learn Righteousness? if you would but [...] your ears, you might here observe God speaking something to you.

1. Learn, that there is no safety in [...] with the Spirit of God; who comes early to bespea [...] your Souls for God. God shews that he hath a quarrel with the Youth for slighting and despising Counsels and Reproofs, he would that you should know he is in haste for an an­swer, and will not wait long if you [...] away your time: God looks that where there is so much of Gospel light, and so many endeavours used by Church and Common-wealth for the instruction of Youth in the Wayes of God, there should be answerable improvement made, and will have you to know that his patience will not wait so long as in places of ignorance. Let it therefore teach you to beware how you presume upon hereafter, and promising your selves that there is time enough, you may follow your vain courses yet a little longer: Whiles you are thinking it is too soon to repent and amend, how soon may God come and declare that it is too late, that his patience is spent, and there is no more room left for Repentance.

2. That either God or the Devil will have your young time: you are here at your choice, God by his Word and Spirit is tendring you to receive you into his service, and declaring how acceptable and plea­sing it will be to him, but if you will not give your time to him, you will to a worse Master, the Devil stands waiting, yea endeavouring for you, and if Gods yoke please you not, he will easily perswade you to take his, and though that may seem delightful for the present, yet know it, it will be bitterness in the latter end.

3. That if Young ones will not have Christ to reign over them; he may give them over into the hands and power of Satan: if Christs sweet government do not please you, you shall be left under the ty­ranny and cruelty of the Devil. Oh then learn hence not to despise and contemn the Calls of the Gospel, left God come out in Judge­ment against you, and put you into the everlasting possession of that cruel Enemy of your [...].

II. Let [...] teach both Parents and Children: Here is something [...].

First▪ [...] to you that are [...] [...]o you [...].

1. [...] [Page 38] Childrens Souls: here you may see how open they are by nature to Satans temptations, how they every day go in danger of those fly and subtile assaults of this politick enemy of their Souls: let this lye near your hearts.

2. Hence let this teach you to be careful in Educating them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, which is the onely way and means to prevent this adversary. If you have hitherto been remiss, learn now to be more careful and vigilant about it, let it be a quickning pro­vidence to rouse you up from this neglect, by teaching you the great weight of the duty, even of as much moment as the precious lives of their poor souls.

3. Let it teach you to begin with them betimes, do not defer in­structing of them too long; you see Satan will set upon them early, he will not delay long before he comes and useth his endeavours to draw your Childrens souls away after him: and therefore if you would prevent him, do not you delay, but be dropping in instruction as they are able, and as soon as they are able to understand any thing.

4. Whithersoever they go, bear a holy jealousie over them, lest they should offend God, and provoke him to leave them to the Devil: you cannot be alwayes with them, nor constantly have them under your eye, but where-ever they be, be sure let your hear [...] go along with them, have a righteous fear concerning them you see Satan is ready to take all occasions to insinuate himself into them, and there­fore for ought you know they may have the Devil in their company; let that direct your souls to heaven for them, that God would look to them, and preserve them: Job offers Sacrifice for his Children, when met in lawful recreation, lest they sinned, and cursed God in their hearts, Job 1. 5.

5. Be more watchful over them hereafter, then you have been heretofore; have a care of [...] them have their [...], to go and come where and when they please, and especially in the night, be sure take an account of their business, and hold your Parental Authority over them, keep them within their bounds, you had better bear their ha [...]d thoughts of you now, then see them made vassals of Satan, and left up to Gods Judgements. If your Children resist or contemn your Authority, the Will of God is that you should not [...]ear with them, no [...] spare them; it is a great deal better they should live in [Page 39] Bridewell under restraint; then in your families at their liberty.

6. See to your own lives, that they be exemplary to your Children, if you teach them never so carefully, yet if you unteach them again by your vain conversation before them, its little the better; think how much advantage you put into Satans hands against your Children, to draw them into sin by your example, he knows well enough what a taking argument this is with Children.

7. Rest not satisfied, but be constant and earnest with God for your Children till you see Christ formed in them, as knowing that till then they are in Satans Kingdome, and under his Jurisdiction. Oh what bowels of affection, what [...] requests might this providence arm us withall! how strong might it make us with God for our Chil­dren! O pity them in a state of unregeneracy: Chri [...]less souls are naked souls, and therefore lye open to the enemy; cease not there­fore night nor day begging for them. See in this providence their danger, and let it quicken you to importunacy.

Secondly, Children do you learn something hence also.

1. Learn to hearken to the loving and wholesom Counsels of your Parents, and not to slight or despise their Admonitions and Reproofs. You see here how open you are to Satans assaults, and if you will not hear God speaking to you by your Parents, it is just with God to leave you to the Devil, to hear him: know it, when your Parents speak to you, and advise you for your good, God speaks to you by them, and if your eye despise them, God may suffer these infernal Ra­vens and Eagles to pick it out, and eat it. One would think this Mo­nument might make you fear and tremble.

2. Learn hence not to trust to your Parents Covenant, or to think that you shall be saved by their Faith, or by it secured from Satan: it is true, you may fare the better by them and for them, but if you rest upon their godliness for your security, you are deceived: you may be the natural Children of godly Parents, and yet the spiritual Chil­dren of the Devil, Joh. 8. 43, 44. Know it, it is not enough to be the Children of godly Parents, unless you do inherit their graces: seek therefore that, or else Satan hath you at his beck.

3. Rest not upon your Parents Prayers; think it not enough that your godly Parents pray for you to God, and therefore you are safe: true, Parents Prayers are a great benefit to Children, but if they be trusted to, they will prove a meer delusion. Abraham prayes for [Page 40] Ishmael, but he [...] not for himself: God may answer your Pa­rents Prayers in another way, they shall not lose them, but yet if you rest there, they may but increase your woes. Let this therefore call upon you to make your own peace.

4. Learn to obey your Parents in all their lawful Commands, and that in obedience unto God: acknowledge their authority and juris­diction over you, and though they restrain you from that which you may think to be a lawful liberty, yet be obedient in all things lawful, for though the thing be a matter indifferent, yet if you disobey and displease your Parents in it, be sure you lay your selves open to Satan.

III. Let it teach both the Regenerate, and Unregenerate.

First, You that are Regenerated, and brought home to God, you may learn something here.

1. Let this providence teach you to magnifie Gods grace, that hath taken you out of Satans Kingdome, and translated you into the King­dome of his own Son. When-ever we see any left by God, and in any wayes in the hand of Satan, and under his power, how should it [...] us with God-glorifying thoughts, at the consideration of his wonder­full love to us. Now is a time to consider who made the difference between two pieces of the same clay, to remember how opposite we were to any saving good, what pains God took with us, what per­swasions he used, and how contumeliously we often handled his Spirit; [...] consider that if his love had not carried him against our hatred, had [...] he pitied us, when we did not, could not pity our selves, we had yet to this day been under the dominion of Hell.

2. Let it awaken you to walk worthy of your vocation; you now see your calling, you are called out of Satans kingdome, you are delivered from the powers of darkness, labour then to walk no longer in the vanity of your mindes: Are you Gods Children? Live in holiness, 1 Pet. 1. 14, &c. Oh that this Providence might awaken those that have given up themselves to God and his Service, to consider whether we have not too much gratified Satan, by being too light, too vain, too excessive in taking liberty in worldly mirth and vanity, too little spiritual in our course and conversation among men. Let it then be a word of Warning to us to be more serious and cautious to our selves and wayes for the time to come.

3. Let it move in you earning bowels of compassion towards those [Page 41] that are yet in Satans Kingdome, and under his spiritual Jurisdiction: you may here see a little, though but a little, yet so much appears here visible and demonstrative, as may give a glimpse of discovery how sad and doleful the condition of poor unregenerate sinners is, who are spiritually possest by Satan: Let it then rouse up in you bowels of pity, when you look in the faces of any such, [...]et it make you to mourn over them, and pray for them, and counsel and advise them as God gives you opportunity, that if it may be, you may be helpful to their escape out of the paws of the devouring Lion.

4. Let it awaken you to watch your wayes and actions, to be care­full to your lives and courses, how you carry it before them who are yet in their vanity, lest Satan make you his Stales to allure poor souls by. If the Devil can belye the people of God to encourage others to hearken to him, be sure he will make his market of your failings, negligent walkings, and whatsoever is done amiss by you at one time or other, to draw others more fearlesly after him; and will it not be a sad thing that souls should follow Satan to their eternal ruine and perdition, and you the live-birds that have drawn them into this net? For the Lords sake, for the love you bear to poor souls, if there be any pity, any compassion, any desire to Gods glory, or others Salva­tion, look to your wayes, and see they be exemplary.

Secondly, You that are Unregenerate, labour to hear the voice of God in this Providence, and learn by it.

1. Let this Example teach you how cruel a Master you serve: you see here, that Satan (whatever pretences he makes, and fair promises he seeks to delude poor souls withall) is in his heart set against all mankinde, and he seeks only to destroy them; and if once God less him loose, and gives him liberty, he will soon shew his own nature, and give evidence of his Cruelty. This you have seen is but a little of that bitter spight he will exercise upon those who shall be wholly deli­vered into his hands. You have little cause to boast of your condi­tion, its a cruel bondage, you are in the hands of one whose tender mercies are cruelty. Oh that this might make you weary of Satans go­vernment, that it might make you begin to discover his policies, and flee from him.

2. Let it shew you the great danger you go in every hour of being made a prey to Satan. Consider how ready this Adversary is to fasten his Talons upon poor creatures, if God permit him: and consider [Page 42] that thou hast no security, no ground to promise thy self that God will defend thee from him, no not for a moment, it is Gods goodness that he hath hither to afforded thee his protection, but thou hast no promise that he will continue it: Yea consider, how many Calls and Counsels, how many Providences and Ordinances thou hast despised, how often God hath come to thee, and wooed earnestly for thy soul, used heart-breaking intreaties with thee, endeavouring to insinuate himself into thy very soul, and yet thou hast hardned thy heart against all, and resolutely refused: think then, what hast thou to say for thy self why thou mayest not speedily hear God say to the Devil, Take the full and everlasting possession of such a soul? and what will become of thee then?

3. Hence let it be a loud Cry to you to Repentance: You have had many Cries in your ears from the Word, but you have not be­lieved the report which Gods Messengers have brought. Oh that you would believe when God addes such a Confirmation to the truth of his Word! reade your own state in this poor Monument, and think by what you see in her, what is like to become of you in the state you are in; hearken, and you may hear God crying to you by her, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Lastly, let me return once again to all that are here in Gods pre­sence this day to humble themselves before him: learn we hence, for this day, and hence-forward, these two Lessons.

1. Let us all examine by this Providence what sins they have been, that have given Satan so much footing in this poor place: sure the voice of God is loud to us, and bids us to bring this matter upon [...]rch; for though God be Soveraign yet it is to us a time of Con­sideration when Gods hand is out against us, Hag. 1. 7. Let it then bring us upon a serious Triall of our selves and wayes, that we may be able to trace God in his Providence, and acknowledge his righte­ous Judgements; let us ask whether our Contentions have not set open this door, and invited Satan in? I am sure these carry a very great resemblance of the Devils Cloven Foot. Have not our Heart­Divisions grieved away the Spirit of God, and given Satan this ad­vantage? I am sure they leave a people faulty, Hos. 10 2. and there­fore say them open to severe punishments: these have been too gene­rall sins, and what have been in particular? What a deal of Wordly­mindedness in the elder sort? the vanity and looseness in the younger, [Page 43] increased to such a height of impudency. Let me adde, the general light esteem there hath been among us of Gods [...]oly and precious Or­dinances, and contempt of his Messengers: these are crying sins, and therefore, may well be answered with loud-speaking Providences.

2. Let us all joyn heart and hand to drive this Enemy out again. Let that be our great business this day to implore God, and beg his assistance and direction in so great a Work as this is; and let us forthwith set upon it, and follow it might and main: and that in re­pentance of, and humiliation for what is past, and reformation for the future, let us search and try our wayes, and turn again to the Lord; Let us lay aside Envy and Malice, throw down our Contention & Strife, and take up Peace and Love. Let the Aged reform their Earthly­mindedness, and the Youth their Vanity, their Night-walkings, and merry Drinking-meetings; let the Judgements of God awe our hearts, and leave such impressions behinde them, as may powerfully lead us in wayes of Righteousness, that God may delight to dwell among us, and tread Satan under our feet.

[Page 44]
ISAIAH 21. 11, 12.

11 The burden of Dumah. He ca [...]eth to me out of Se [...]r, Watchmen, what of the night? watchmen, what of the night?

12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

TImes of publick Calamity, either felt, or justly feared, are try­ing Times; these do call in a solemn manner for Consideration, and especially to enquire into the Causes, and bethink of the sad E­vents. This is New-Englands day, wherein God hath at least taken the Rod into his hand, and is shewing some part of his severity to­ward us; and though he mix it with much moderation, yet there is a great deal of bitterness in the Cup: 'tis time therefore humbly to enquire into the grounds, and consider of the Consequences of these Calamities. The Text before us may afford us something by way of Instruction and Direction in this enquiry.

The words ate a Prophesie against Dumah, delivered by way of Question and Answer.

The Question is propounded ver. 11.

The Answer short, full, and sharp, ver. 12.

The meaning of the words take up as they come to be handled in particular.

The burden] i. e. A Prophesie containing Threatnings of Wrath, and Predictions of Misery: an ordinary phrase it is among the Pro­phets, to express any Vision of sad consequence. See Chap. 13. 1 and this Chapter, ver. 1, 13. and therefore the Prophet interprets the sense of the word, ver. 2. An hard Vision. See also 2 Kings 9. 25. Jer. 23. 33. and elswhere. Hence▪

Doct. The denunciations of Gods wrath against a sinning people is a Burden, a thing heavy and grievous. In divers considerations.

1. They are a burden to Gods Messengers: i. e. grievous and hard to them, their spirits are oppressed, and many times even overwhelmed within them, to fore-think of the message they have to deliver. [Page 45] See ver. 3. 4. Chap. 15. 5. & 1 [...]. 9. Jer. 48. 31, 32. & 4. 19, 20.

2. They are a burden to the People to whom they are sent. This in two respects:

(1.) They are a burden of grief and sorrow to the godly, who hear and fear, Hab. 3. 16.

(2.) Of indignation to the wicked, who cannot endure so much as to hear of them, the very Threatning is to them intolerable, Amos 7. 10. 2 Chron. 36. 16. Jer. 26. 8, 9.

3. In some sense they are a burden to God, who speaking after the manner of men, expresseth a rel [...]n [...]ing at the very mention of it, Hos. 11. 8, 9.

4. A burden in the Effects of them, or matter of Threatning con­tained in them, which is sore and heavy to bear: Context, ver. 2.

The Reasons are:

1. Of the first; From the sympathetical compassionateness of Gods Messengers towards their fellow-creatures, there is a [...], A love of man naturally in man, this is increased by grace: this we see eminent in Paul, Rom. 9. 1. and Moses, Blot me rather out of thy book.

2. Of the second; From the sense of the severity of Gods dis­pleasure in the godly, and hence it produceth sorrow for their sins.

(1.) It brings sin to minde, which is the Cause, Psal. 25. 17, 18.

(2.) The people of God know what a sad thing it is to have to do with an angry God Psal. 76. 7.

3. Of the third; From the pride of heart which is in the wicked, Jer. 43. 2. they are too good to be reproved, will not hear by reason of the height of heir spirits, think so well of themselves, that they cannot believe that God is displeased at them.

4. Of the fourth; From the compassions of God towards poor sinners, he herein discovers his merciful Nature, Hos. 11. 8

5. Of the fifth; From the aversness of the nature of man from sorrows and miseries: they are against our nature, and therefore must needs be burdensome; yea they are Punishments, and are there­fore grievous.

Use 1. See here a Reason why Gods Warnings and Threatnings finde no more welcome, and why plain Preaching Ministers are [...] sinning man is gotten above warning, though by our sins we are pul­ling down Gods Judgements upon our heads, all this is nothing, but [Page 46] he that tells us plainly of them, and represents the anger of God be­fore us for them, he is the troubler of Israel.

Use II. Learn hence to interpret the Threatnings of Judgement denounced by Gods Messengers in the best sense, when they tell you of Gods wrath. Oh do not think th [...], tell you as they would have it, or that they take any delight in bringing such heavy tidings, but they must say as God commands them, Jer. 28. 6. they can be gladly con­tent that the threatning may never be fulfilled.

Use III. Here is a mark to distinguish the people of God from hy­pocritical Professors: when God tells us plainly of our sins, and speaks of his wrath, 'tis indeed a burden to all; but how? why, the wicked endeavour to throw it off themselves, and cast it upon Gods Ministers, and violently to pull their shoulder from under it; but the people of God sit down under it, and bear it patiently, yea take up a new burden of sorrow for the sin which hath procured it, Lam. 3. 27, 28, 39.

Use IV. Learn hence what use to make of the threatning of Gods Judgements, and Reproofs of your sins, if it be a burden to hear of them, what then will it be to bear them? if you cannot endure to sit quietly whiles you are told of them, how will you endure when God shall do according to the word of his Messengers? Let such thoughts as these move you to prepare your selves, this use God would have these burdens attain, Amos 4. 13.

Of Dumah] i.e. Of the Land of Idumea, the place of the posterity of Esau, called Edom: these were, though of the posterity of Abra­ham and Isaac, yet a Nation rejected by God, and become an Heathen Nation; and yet God tells them aforehand what he intends against them, and condescends to give them a Warning to Repentance. Hence

Doct. God, though grievously provoked, yet seldome brings desolating Judgements, before he gives warning. Edom, though out of Gods Co­venant shall nevertheless hear from God before they feel his wrath, and Babylon, and Arabia, and Tyre, &c. as we finde scattered in the Prophesies, how much more a people in Covenant with him.

Reas. 1. Because this is the day of Gods for bearance, and therefore he will exalt it towards sinners, and make them to taste of it. It is the time wherein Justice is moderated by Mercy.

2. That sinners may have an opportunity to repent: when God speaks to them before he strikes them, he puts a price into their hands, [Page 47] [...] on it as such a season, Rev. 2. 21.

3. To take off all excuse in the day of Vengeance, that all mouthes may be stopt, sinners shall have nothing to say for themselves, as ha­ving been warned; they shall have no plea, shall not be able to say, We never heard of it: no cloak shall be left them.

Use. This may be a Rule to teach us what use to make of those ma­nifold Warnings which God vouchsafes to afford unto us.

1. Hearken to his Warnings, hear his Threatnings, attend to them, and believe them.

Quest. How doth God warn us?

Ans. First, By his Messengers, these are Ambassadors, to declare the minde and counsel of God, and proclaim his Judgments.

Obj. But Revelations cease, how then can they give us a true account of the minde of God, and his purposes of bringing Judgments [...]n its?

Ans. God gives a greater portion of his Spirit to his Ministers, then to others, and by that Spirit he extraordinarily

1. Stirs them up to a consideration of his minde and counsels: he directs their thoughts that way.

2. Discovers to them the sins of the times and places they live in, makes them to observe the frames and manners of the people he sends them to.

3. Enables them to compare his ancient dealings with sinners, in the several respects and circumstances, and hence to draw conclusions, and hence verifies that promise, Amos 3. 7. Now these Conclusions are a sure word of Prophesie: for

1. The Rule is standing, Crying sins are answered with certain Judge­ment. God is the same he was, his Holiness and Justice remain in­violable, and unchangeable, and therefore sinners have no hopes to escape, if they remain in their sins.

2. Like sins bring like Judgements; Sodoms sins are followed with Sodoms plagues; and therefore if our sins answer former times, we may expect our sufferings to be like theirs.

3. The Prophesies of the Prophets were cautioned with the condition of Repentance, either explicite, as appears by the invita­tions to repent annexed to their Threatnings frequently; or at least implicite, Jer. 18. 7, &c. so are theirs.

Secondly, By his Providences: gathering of Clouds, and some [Page 48] drops of rain presage [...] [...] Signs speak, the Rod hath a voice in [...] and may be heard, though it be but shaken over us.

2. Let the Patience of God break our hearts, and lead us to repen­tance, Rom.2. 4. Remember, God might have stricken when he warn­ed us; he might have made our plagues seven times heavier, when he did lay some gentler stroke upon us; he might have made haste, be­gun, and made an end with us in one day, after he ha [...] so long in pa­tience waited upon us.

3. Give credit to Gods Threatnings, do not think he is in jest, look at such times wherein Ordinances and Providences concur in denoun­cing wrath against us, to be reall tokens of Divine Displeasure, and to have a loud voice in them; and therefore let it teach us to meet God, and that without delay.

He calleth, &c] Here is the question or Introduction to the Prophesie.

He] i.e. Some Person, or Messenger.

Calleth] i.e. Comes to enquire.

To me] i. e. Isaiah.

Out of Seir] Mount Seir lying in the Land of the Edomites, is ta­ken for the whole Land of Idumea.

Watchman, what, &c.] By Watchman is meant the Prophet, these are called Watchmen by God, because he sets them to discern his wrath, and give warning to the people. The meaning or intent of the Que­stion is diversly understood: I finde a twofold interpretation.

1. Some take it to be an expression of the bitterness and anguish of the Edomites, concerning the future event of those troubles which were beginning upon them: it seems War was threatned by the As­syrian; through which anguish they send to the Prophet, to know what was likely to ensue, what troubles they should meet withall: for Night is here a Metaphor of the time of affliction, as it is often in Scripture, Isa. 26. 9, &c. and then the ingemination of the Interro­gatory, implies an earnestness of desire to be informed.

2. Others understand it to be spoken in a flouring way, and so they call the Prophet Watchman by way of derision; as if they should say, Isaiah, you pretend to be a Watchman, and have foretold much of the time of trouble and desolation to come upon us, but we still enjoy the morning of prosperity, we are a free people, and not in subje­ction; come, what do you say to it now? Either interpretation will stand with the Analogie of Faith: though I think the latter to be [Page 49] more suitable to the Answer given in the following verse; in which sense the doubling of the Question is an aggravation of the scoff in a sarcasmous speech.

From these words observe,

Doct. 1. Times of Calamity are fitly compared to the night season.

There is much of Analogie in these.

1. In the night nothing can be distinguished from the darkness, all things lye equally mantled under that black [...] hence the Grave is called A land of darkness, because all meet equally, and [...] there: in times of Calamity the affliction is universal, good and bad are not to be distinguished by the outward face of Divine Provi­dence, Eccles 9. 1.

2. The night is a joyless time, darkness and obscurity hide from us objects of joy and mirth: in times of Calamity objects of joy are re­moved, these outward symptomes and expressions of delights and pleasures are removed, Jer. 7 34.

3. The night is full of terrour, the darkness hath a kinde of influ­ence upon our fantasie, leaving an impression of strange apprehen­sions and possessing us with fears. Calamitous times are fearful and terrible times, fill us with suspitions, a man knows not whom to trust, lives in a fearful expectation of sudden miseries to seize upon him.

4. The night is a solitary time, breaks up societies, and scattereth them to their severall Chambers, to feed upon their melancholick thoughts and fears. Troublesome times bring places full of inha­bitants to fit solitary.

Use. I. See here a Reason why the people of God ought to do their utmost to prevent the day of Calamity: though they shall get good by all Providences, yet no affliction is in it self joyous, but grievous, and they shall finde a great deal of night of trouble at such a time. Hence wonder not to hear them so earnest to depreca [...]e that day, and labour to with God for a prevention of it. Christ himself, in whom was no sin, begs again and again, if it be possible that the Cup might pass away from him; how much more they that have sin as well as sor­row to grapple withall.

Use II. See here the Analogie between Sin and Sorrow, both are in Scripture called darkness: hence the punishment is suitable to the fault, God payes men in their own Coin; if men will hurry them­selves [Page 50] into the shades of sin, God justly brings them into a land of darkness, and of the shadow of death.

Use III. This Consideration may warn us to have a care how we provoke Gods Judgements against us, to bring wrath upon us; we may be [...]old and fearless while the day time lasts, and our Sun of pro­sperity shines upon us, but if we pull down Judgements upon our heads, we shall finde the night to be

1. Joyless, we shall see the difference between joy and sorrow ex­perimentally when God shall have removed our comforts away from us, our peace, our outward supplies, all our precious things, we shall then feel what it is to be benighted.

2. Terrible, full of amazement. Ah! little do we know what the terrour of this night mean, to be oppressed with pining hunger, with pinching penury; to hear the cries of Children following us for bread, and none to give them; to hear the found of the Trumpet, and Alarm to War; to hear the cries of the wounded, and see the slain in our gates; to fee the raging of Famine and Pestilence, and natural affection changed into a Tyger-like Cruelty, tender-hearted Mothers shutting up their bowels of pity, and laying violent hands on the Children they have born; to go into Captivity, and serve an Ene­my whose tender mercies are cruelty; to live in fear of every sight, every noise, left it should be some messenger of Death, or that which is worse.

3. Solitary and lonesome, when you shall be made desolate, and like Job. who was made a stranger to the wife of his bosom [...]; and hence you shall have that which will fill head and heart full of perplexity: how careful then should we be that we provoke not God against us, to bring darkness of adversity upon us.

Doct. 2. 'Tis the guise and disposition of the wicked, to despise and [...] at the Threatnings of Gods Judgment against them, especially if God delay execution.

Thus the Edomites here, they had been threatned, but they yet were in peace, and thoug [...] the Enemy was coming, they yet are se­cure. See also for this, Eccles. 8 11. Ezek. 12. 22. Poor sinning man, though he might reade the [...] of death in himself, yet is not wil­ling to believe any evil till he feels it. It God delay, his Messengers presently are Liars.

Reas. 1. From the natural [...] possesseth the hearts of [Page 51] the unregenerate: sinful man is naturally secure, which security a­riseth from

1. Their not seeing and being affected with their sin, justly pro­voking of God, Mal. 2.7. men grope in their darkness, and cannot see wherein they have done amiss. Men. especially if they have taken a form of godliness, and begin to be sticklers in Religion, they ob­serve not that they want the power, and having taken up a good ap­prehension of themselves, the Word of Conviction passeth by as a thing in which they are not concerned. Hence they wonder that God should have any thing against them, they cannot believe it, and so they despise, and make a mock of those that tell them of Wrath a­gainst them.

2. Their misinterpretation of Gods patient dealing with them: Natural men make a God to themselves of their own Mindes, Psal. 50.21. if God delayes them, then presently he approves of their wayes, at least they must have him a God all of mercy, they exalt his Compassion to the injury and violation of his Holiness and Justice; and so, what should be a means of their Repentance, 2 Per. 3. 9. is an occasion of their hardning.

3. Their false hopes and promises of their escape, their Covenants with Hell and Death. Isa. 28. 17, 18. make all men (thriving in the wo [...]ld in a way of wickedness, and being rooted deep in their outward enjoyments) begin to account this a kinde of Deity to them, and hence build up their hopes and thoughts upon an unchangeable estate, Psal. 49. 11. and hence can disdain, and flout away the denunciation of a change.

Reas. 2. Because their present prosperity so takes up their senses, that they despise God, no wonder then if they scoff at his Threat­nings. Pharaoh sitting in the Pomp and Glory of the Crown of E­gypt, demands, Who is the Lord? Natural men are ready to say (in times of prosperity) with Niobe, Major sum quam cui passit fortuna nocers. I am greater then the hand of Providence can reach to do any injury to, and hence beat a Challenge to the Almighty, Job. 21. 13. 14.

Use 1. See here a Reason why Gods Messenger are so slighted by a secure and prospering people: when they speak of dayes of wrath, men do not believe them, their Preaching is accounted as false tales & vain stories why, men liv [...] at case, and therefore they are accounted [Page 52] fools that speak of a storm, and are made a May-game [...] here of the Prophet: and no wonder, for they do so by God himself; I spake to thee in thy prosperity, and thou wouldest not hear. Men are short sighted, though they can discern the signs of [...] yet they are not willing to see any thing of the signs of Divine Displeasure, and if they see nothing, they will believe nothing, yea though they do see they are not willing to believe.

Use II. To convince us of, and humble us for even this very sin before God this day. God hath given New-England many dayes of prosperity, it hath been day with us a long time, but mean-while sin hath been growing upon us, and increasing, and Gods Messengers have dealt faithfully [...] and told us of it, and warned us by the clear demonstrations of the Word of God, that Judgements hang over our heads, but have not these Admonitions been despised and mocked by us?

Quest. You will say, How?

Ans. 1. Some have mocked them in plain terms, we have not been clear of this brazen-faced impudence, some to flout at the Warnings of God, yea to hate those that have been most serious in reproving our sins, especially that have pointed [...] out.

2. Others have no believed, [...] hose not a few neither, but the most; we may almost use the [...] demand, Isa. 53. 1.

3. Have not these Warnings been practically slighted and dis­regarded?

1. How few hearts have been affected? and not to be affected, is a degree of mocking: how few m [...]ing hearts? how few that hear and fear? how few tremblers at the Word of God? or that with old Eli sit by the way, trembling for the Ark of God? We can sit under the Convictions of the Word, and no whit convinced; little remorse when these burdens are laid upon us, and we go away and wipe our monthes, and say, What have I done? We (like deaf men) startle not when the Tran per founds, because we will not hear it.

2. What little care is there to return and meet God by repentance, and what is this [...] then to slight and mock God.?

Obj. But many dayes of Humiliation have been kept?

Ans. True; and to what purpose?

1. Where is the Refo [...]mation that hath followed? in Isa. 58. the Lord owns that onely as a true Fast, which is a day of Reformation [...] [Page 53] but what hath been amended? if we [...] miss before, we are so still, notwithstanding all that is made to appear to the view of the world: and this is a manifest mockery.

2. Have we not kept dayes to encourage our selves to sin more boldly upon a new score, with the Where in Prov. 7. 14, 15? thought to have cleared all old scores with God by an overly Consession, that, so we might more securely run into new arrerages: and is not this a great mockery, to think to pay God with such counterfeit Coin? What have we to do then; but to confess and bewail this sin before God, and labour to amend it? For Motive: Consider,

1. God will make you to know who sent these Messengers, that it was not of their own heads, nor on their own errands, that his Mi­nisters came to you, but that it was from him, Ezek. 2 5. and that you have not scoffed and neglected them, but God himself: you shall see this.

2. Gods patience hath a bounded time, Hab, 2.3. God may delay long, he will not do so alwayes; know it, he is just as well as merci­full: God will take a season, finde out a fit opportunity to be known in his Judgements upon those who despise his patience, and reject his counsels and fore-warnings, he will not strive alwayes with man, who is flesh, Gen. 6. 3.

3. Such a spirit will provoke God to make haste, Ezek. 12. 23. if God send, yea rise up early and send, and so far condescend to a rebel­lious people, as to send Messenger after Messenger, and Message upon Message, and these mocked and despised, that news quickly comes there is no remedy, 2 Chron. 36.16. this ripens men apace for destruction.

4. Such a spirit is an immediate fore-runner of swift Calamity, 1 Thess. 5. 1—No surer and more infallible token of great Calamities to be hastning upon a people then this, when God tells them of trou­ble and calamity, they cry Peace, Peace, and lay themselves down (in despight of all Counsels and Warnings) upon the bed of Security, and take their case in sin without remorse. Let us then be deeply af­fected with this evil, as knowing that there is nothing whereby we have more [...] provoked God, and [...]exed his Spirit, then by this. lye low before him in the sense of it, it may be he will pardon and forgive it.


[Page 54] You see Edom here makes a great do of Enquiry: there is an hy­pocritical and false, and there is a sincere and true Enquiry made about divine Dispensations, and the one apparently, and to the view of the world, may be as earnestly pressed as the other.

Reas. 1. Because there are other things which may excite such an Enquiry, besides the fear of God; viz.

1. A natural fear, which may be sti [...]red up at the first hearing of Threatnings, and discovery of tokens presaging Calamity; the sight of dismall Clouds, and the noise of some terrible Thunder, cracks, do at the first carry a kinde of consternation along with them: and this makes men, till by degrees they outgrow their affrightment, to be ve­ry sedulous to know what thes-things mean.

2. A naturally busie talkative spirit, that loves to be busie, talking and discoursing, many affect to be in discourse, and hence they enquire that they may have something to spend time in discourse.

3. A desire to be thought wise, discerning and prudent, hence men will enquire for light: we love to have the esteem for prudence and discretion, to be accounted men of discerning spirits, that observe and know the times, and hence take some pains in searching.

4. An ironicall and flouring spirit: such this seems to be in the Text, not that we have any true desire to know any thing, but in dis­dain of Gods Ministers: we enquire of them as for knowledge, but in the mean-while look upon them to have no more knowledge of the minde and counsel of God then ourselves: with this spirit those proud men seem to have come to enquire of the Prophet. Jer. 43.

Reas. 2. Because there are other ends of such Enquiry, besides such as accompany sincerity; viz.

1. A bare desire of external knowledge and discourse: there is seated in man a great natural desire of the knowledge of the Nature of things, and that especially of future Contingencies; hence men take a great deal of pains, and busie themselves much in seeking to know such things, when it is to no other end but to know.

2. An intent to [...]avill at Gods dispensations, Isa. 58.2. Some en­quire to no other end, but that they may pick a quarrel with Divine Providence, and charge the wayes of God with injustice, as if they were wiser then God, as if he did not Rule the World by an equall Law.

Use. 1. For Tryall: there is much talk now a dayes amongst us, [Page 55] about the Judgements of God, and those awfull Providences that are rolling over our heads: there is a great Enquiry made, but let us not think or conclude our selves ever the better, because we are a­mong the number of those who are possibly the most forward upon this account, but examine our selves whether we do it in sincerity or in hypocrisie.

Signs of hypocriticall Enquiry.

1. When we enquire more after the Events of Calamity, then the Causes procuring of it: thus those Id [...]tans, What of the night? i. e. What is like to come upon us? So there is much enquiry, what the issue of these rolling Providences is like to be; what things are like to come to: but there are few say, What have I done? wherein is the Lords anger incensed amp;c.? this shews we are more afraid of sorrow then sin, when we look so much at the Rod, and not at the hand which wieldeth it: This argues a spirit of hypocrisie, for we neglect our work; which is to search and try our hearts, and meddle with Gods work, whose Soveraignty it is to rule and order the affairs of the whole World at his own pleasure.

2. When we enquire more after Natural then Spiritual Causes: we are very inquisitive to know what may be the Natural Cause of these Blastings which have for many years diminished and corrupted the best of our Grain; and hence, many projective endeavours in vain attempted to prevent it, by a seeking to remove that Cause, which we are to this day baffled in, and as far off to seek as ever: but the Causes Spiritual (which are more manifest, and easie to be discovered) are slightly sought after, and so but little endeavour to remove them, hence no wonder that the Effect remains, we enquire in hypocrisie.

3. When we enquire, but 'tis without any desire or willingness to see the true Reason or Causes, or be convinced of them, we enquire with a [...]inde of fore-stalled and prejudicate spirit; we have taken up already what our determination is and must be: hence this it is, and no other thing, hence we arm our selves with a resolution to out­stand all Conviction, and so lay a block in the way to prevent any effi­cacious meeting God in such a way as might remove his hand off from us, and prevent the process of more and worse miseries.

4. When we enquire, but never intend to reform: this was the en­quiry of those, Jer. 43. their promises were indeed fair, but when the Prophet had gone to God and enquired for them, and brought [Page 56] them word back again, [...] they discover their hypocritical heart, Chap. 44. 16. they would make a formal kinde of process, as if they had been desirous of Gods counsel to direct them; and had the An­swer been to their mindes, what godly men might they have past for: Hath God told us nothing? have not his Messengers pointed at some­thing? have not the very Providences themselves given light to our enquiry? but all this while, where is the amendment? who turns from his evil way to the Lord?

5. When we enquire, but not of Gods Watchmen: times have been when they have been esteemed, and looked upon as Watchmen indeed, who were best able to inform us in the Counsels of God; but now who more blinde then they in our practical judgement? a prejudicial eye is cast upon them, and they laid by as useless. Oh how is the cavil­ling of an Anabaptistical and censorious spirit (who can spit his venom in the face of Magistracy and Ministry, and make these the Causes of all our Trouble) set by among many? whiles the faithful Warnings of Gods Servants are contemned.

6. When possibly we enquire of them, but with a slighty and dis­dainful spirit: Oh how many go with their nice Queries to their Ministers, when they despise them in their hearts? and either lay snares for them, as they dealt by Christ himself, Is it lawful to pay tribute, &c? or at least do not go to them as such whom they do indeed look upon and esteem to be sent of God, and therefore may hopefully expect to receive better information from them, then from others, hence they little regard, and less do they practice.

7. When we enquire, but we are not willing the Cause should be in our selves, but in others: and hence though we enquire with some earnestness, yet if the Answer (though true) touch us, and our Cor­ruptions, we cannot bear it; this shews that we enquire with a cen­sorious (which is an hypocritical) spirit: we regard not how much blame be laid upon others, but are willing to take none of the blame and shame of the sin to our selves; and therefore come not up to this, which is the onely sincere first Enquiry, What have I done?

Use II. To humble us for our hypocrisie upon this account: and how much cause the best of us may have to take the shame of this sin upon us before God this day, if we did seriously enquire, we might in some measure discover: let us then bewail it seriously. For Motive: Consider,

[Page 57] 1. It is no light matter to mock God; [...] we do in every act [...] hypocrisie: God is not mocked, saith the Apostle, i. e. he will not be put off with, nor will he put up our mockeries.

2. God and year sin will finde you out: God discerns the heart, and therefore it is no mocking of him; he is a jealous God, and there­fore he will make you to know how ill he takes it, he will smoke against your best services, that you may understand your hypocrisie is ob­served by him, Isa. 58. 1—

Thus much of the Question of the Idumeans.

The Answer of the Prophet follows. The Answer is short and full.

The Watchman i. e. the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah owns his Office, though they put it upon him as a scoff and mockery, but [...]he is not a­shamed of it in the least. Hence

Doct. The Ministers of God are not ashamed of their Office, though the world seem to despise and flout at it. Let the men of the world think never so undervaluingly of the Place and Work they are in, they yet prize and esteem it.

Reas. 1. Because it is an Office instituted by God, and therefore will be defended, and vindicated by him: he owns them, though the world despise them, and he will take upon him to plead the Cause of his de­spised Ministers.

Reas. 2. Because it is a high and honourable Office, though despised: let the world look upon it with an eye of disdain, yet it is in it self a dignity, an honour; Ministers are Ambassadors from God to men, 2 Cor. 5. 20 now the Majesty of the Prince is represented in the Ambassa­dor, God looks that part of his own honour is engraven upon this Office, Ministers therefore have no reason to be discouraged by the contumelies of the world.

Reas. 3. Because it is a Work which is accompanied with the glori­ous power of God, and made a means of the Salvation of Gods E­lect: this is Pauls reason why he is not ashamed of the Gospel, Rom. 1. 16. When they see God putting forth his power, and making the stoutest sinners fall (like the walls of Jericho) at the sounding of the Preach­ing of the Gospel, and many souls by their Ministry brought effectu­ally home to God, this is enough to make them disdain the standers and [...] of men, and glory in their Ministry.

Reas. 4. [...] with God: Ministers look not for, not would be satisfied with an earthly reward; their praise is of God and [Page 58] [...] shall not lose their reward, and they dare trust him, and can chearfully endure, and meet with all that re­viling and contempt which wicked men delight to be venting against them: the Crown will more then pay for all.

Use. Learn hence to have a care that you contemn not Gods Mini­sters, and above all the Office of the Ministry: doubtless the low esteem of this great Work appearing by too many evident symptomes, is, one thing for which God is now pleading with us, and therefore seasonable at this time to be hinted to us. Oh beware of this sin. Consider,

1. If we despise them, we despise God, Luke 10.18. the Prince ac­counts all the affronts and indignities offered to his Ambassadors, to bear a proper respect to himself; and do you then think that God will bear it? Moses may hold his peace, Gods Ministers may pity and pray for you, yea will; but God will not suffer his own glory thus to be trampled upon, nor his Servants thus to be abused.

2. If we contemn them, and receive not their Ministry, it is the ready way to be given up by God to a spirit of delusion, 2 Thess. 2. 10 Observer, and you shall se [...], this hath been the door out of which so many have gone away into those giddy distempers which they are now inflicted withall, even those many Enthusiasms of the Devil; an un­dervaluing of the Ministry, an elevating and [...] up private gifts, [...]amp;c. which hath led men by degrees to those great Apostacies, where­by their light (which would have shone clearly in its proper Orb) hath spent it self in a blaze, and gone out in a stinking snuff.

The Watchman said] i. e. from God, and by his direction, we here see the Prophet gives them a serious Answer. Hence

Doct. What-ever end a people have in enquiring, it is the duty of Gods Ministers faithfully to answer them according to the minde and counsel of God. See Jer. 42. 19, 20. the people they dissembled, but Jeremiah tells them the truth.

Reas. 1. From the nature of their Office, which is to be Watchmen, which depends not upon the acceptance, or not acceptance of their Message, but is an absolute duty, whose neglect cannot be displeased withall: whether they will hear or no, Ezekiel must discharge his Office, Chap. 2.7. yea, it lyes so upon him, as the neglect of it b [...]ngs him under the dreadfull [...] of Gods wrath. Chap. 2. 18. [...]e breaks his change if he neglect it, yea and hazards the undoing of [Page 59] [...] whom he is set up to be a Watchman.

Reas. 2. Because God will have a rebellious people left inexcuseable, Ezek. 2. 5. though the prime end, and natural tendency of the Mini­stry, be for the Conversion and good of the people to whom they are sent, yet God in just judgement will sometimes have it to be to in­crease their Condemnation, and to make their misery more dreadful: Line upon line, &c. is sometimes given to make a people stumble and [...] Isa. 28.13. all this is for Gods glory, the shine of the glory of his Justice, when he shall come to recover the honour of his despised Counsels and Warnings, and plead with a people for their wretched and inexcusable violation of both Covenants.

Use I. See here a reason why Gods faithful Ministers use so little humane policy in the execution of their Place and Office: should they connive at our sins, few pillows under our elbows, fawn upon us, or at the least speak in the dark and aloof off, they were most likely, in an eye of humane Reason, to live more quietly, and less hated: he is ready to be accounted our enemy who tells us the truth. How easily might they accommodate themselves to humane affections, but they dare not do it, but speak plain; not because they are ignorant of the probability of what entertainment they are like to meet withall, but because they dare not to be false to the charge and trust which God hath laid upon them. I confess, concerning some things there may be an indiscreet zeal, in these there is a time to hold one's peace; but in the discovery of the Counsels of God, and laying open crying sins, &c. it's not the fear or favour of man, but the awful command of God, which must be, and is, the Rule of the serious Minister, who being sent from God, must deliver his Embassie.

Use II. Learn hence how faithful God is to us, how unfaithful so­ever we be to him, and to our own souls; might we have our own desires, we would hear nothing else but soothing and pleasant words; he that preacheth sin and wrath, is a Legallist, a Micaiah, he never speaks good to us; thus would we go sleeping and secure to Hell, run our selves jocundly into all misery, such enemies are we to our own souls: but how faithful is God, who seeing us falling into the seas of wrath, sends to awaken us out of our sleep, to tell us of our evil wayes, and to reclaim, and bring us back. That God hath ordained and set up the Office of the Ministry under that solemn and dreadful charge, As they will answer it in the great day, If they will not bring [Page 60] the guilt of the blood [...] upon their own heads, to tell sinners of their wayes, and [...] seasonable and constant warning; herein is the Faithfulness of God, and his great Goodness wondrously ex­alted.

Use. III. Learn hence to account a plain-dealing Ministry to be of God, however they cross our corruptions: if any in the world are indeed sent of God to us, then surely those, who laying aside all self­ends and worldly interests, lay themselves open to the hatred and per­secution of the world, hazard to lose our love and good will, to be evil spoken of, to suffer want, and hard usage among us, rather then be silent in an evil day; rather then hold their peace, and let us alone in our sins, or palliate and dissemble with us in the Cause of God and our own souls. Pray to God that you may alwayes have and enjoy such Ministers, and that he would put this Spirit into his Ambas­sadors.

The morning someth, and also, the night] Here the Prophet answers them according to their particular enquiry about the success. In which observe

1. A Concession; The morning cometh: It is true indeed, you do for the present enjoy a season or prosperity, though evil have been denounced against you; and it cometh still i. e. you have still a short season behinde of day.

2. A Warning and also the night: i. e. as you have your morning, so assure your selves you [...] have your night; think not, nor deceive your selves into such a foolish hope, as to promise, your selves you shall rever [...] adversity, because you now live at case and prosper.

3. The words carry in them the face of an Argument: he com­pares their condition to a Natural day, in which there are two consti­tuting parts, viz. Day and Night, light and darkness, which naturally follow one upon another: the day of the people of God usually (as the Natural day) begins with darkness, and ends in [...]; the wickeds day begins with morning, but shall end with night. Hence if they look for right to follow the clearest day, why do they dream as if sorrow could not come in the room of their present pleasure and delight? Hence

Doct. 1. [...] an hundred and fourty [Page 61] years, [...]are with the [...]

Reas. 1. Because this is the day of Gods [...] [...]ance: God is per­fectly just, and he shall be known to be so in the day of vengeance, when the great Assizes shall be set, and he shall render unto every one according to their works; but mean while he hath a day of mercy, wherein (without any infringement to his Justice and Holiness) he moderates the Sentence past upon sinners; and delayes the full execu­tion of it, mean-while conferring much of his goodness upon them. Now the season of the shine of this Attribute of Mercy, appear­ing in his Clemency and Benignity, is properly here in this world: God will have the glory of all his Attributes shine out and appear in his Efficiency; now there is no room for, nor knowledge of his Pa­tience, Long sufferance, and Goodness in Hell, where the Cup of Wrath is without mixture: God therefore now makes it appear in the [...] of wrath fitted to destruction, Rom.9.22.

Reas. 2. Because God hath in his Decrees, not onely laid men out for punishment, but for their measure and degrees of punishment, which they come to by the height of their sin, and by the number of Mercies abused: this is an awful, but an undeniable Truth, That God hath not onely designed such sinners to destruction, but hath allotted them their place in Hell; Judas is gone to his place: there is a Hell more and less tolerable, Mat. 11.15. as also that men come to this, by their abusing and misimproving of mercies, Rom. 2.5. hence therefore sinners must have such a time of Patience, so many Mercies, &c. beyond which, as they shall not be spared, so before which they shall not be disturbed, but let alone till their measure be sulfilled, till they are ripe, and fully fitted to destruction, Gen. 15.16.

Use. 1. Learn hence, that outward prosperity is no sure token of Gods special favour, Eccles. 9 2. a person or people may have and en­joy the worlds abundance, and over [...] in the outward things of this, life, and yet be the hated of God, such whom God turns like Oxen, into a rich Pasture, where they may be fatted up for the slaughter­house of Hell: reckon not therefore upon this. Hive any of you escaped the [...] which God hath been [...] do not sooth up your selves with this, and [...] selves into an opinion this God loves you [...] the letter; a dear childe of God may be under the most severe [...], whiles thou that art no, [...] mayest be a [...]. [Page 62] [...] and solemn Examination of our selves, what [...] have made of those many dayes of pro­sperity which we have [...]: it is not enough that we have had them, but how have we improved them. Know it, the day of Reckoning is coming, and then an account will be taken, when the more any have received, the more they will have to answer for. We have been a people wonderfully favoured by the Lord, but let not this make us secure; who knows but we have turned Gods great Mercies into great Curses by abusing of them: 'tis time then (now God is coming to recover his Mercies out of our hands) to ask our own hearts, whe­ther we have not highly abused, yea so that if Repentance prevent not, to our final destruction.

Doct. 2. A people in the very height of outward prosperity, may be very near to ruine and destruction. The Prophet speaks here quick, as of sudden Changes, The morning comes, also the night; intimating, as if there should be no long distance between their morning and night, as if it should be a short morning, a day soon changed into night. You remember how it was with the Old World, and with Sodom, who were taken in the height of their pleasures, in the top of their pro­sperity, and suddenly brought to a final end, and fearful desolation; and out Saviour Christ speaks of such times in the dayes of the Gospel, Luke 17.26, &c.

Reas. 1. Because such dayes ripen men faster for destruction, Rom. 9.22. the more men have, and abuse, the deeper they run into Gods debt-book, the larger accounts they have: the better the Pasture is, the sooner the Ox is fat; now you know the Ox is not taken from his Pasture, till such time as the day of slaughter comes, hence God takes men in their height, and makes them come down wonderfully.

Reas. 2. From the nature of Patience, which as it can bear and en­dure a great deal, and a long while, so when it once comes to be worn out, and provoked, breaks forth into a most sudden and direful flame: Loesa patientia fit furor; Jer. 4.4. That anger which is not suddenly and speedily stirred up, when kindled is most furious and unappease­able.

Reas. 3. From the nature of sin, which the more goodness of God it enjoyes, the more it heightens it self into boldness and violence: Sodoms fulness (which called to glorifie God) was an occasion of the crying sins that were among them; hence they pull down wrath, and there is no remedy.

[Page 63] Use. This may convince us of a great [...] the Goodness and rich Mercy of God expressed to us-ward in the every thing, in that he hath not brought our Calamity and Desolation on us all at once, but hath come by degrees, he hath not dealt with us as with Sodom, whose desolation came in a day, sudden as a Whirlwind; whose morning was fair and clear, who saw the Sun shine upon them, the same day wherein they were over whelmed with a storm of Fire and Brimstone. Our Sun hath been obscured, our day brought to the twilight, before sudden and thick darkness: these are tokens of Gods long suffering and great favour towards us; hereby God gives us further warning, and more space to [...]. Oh let us then make this use of it; God shews by this that he is willing to be stopt in his way, to accept the sacrifices of an humble spirit.

Doct 3. God would have us in the Morning to think of Night. Whiles times of peace and plenty continue, God would that we bethink our selves of a change, Eccles. 11.8. God would have these Edomites to consider that Night would come after their Morning was over.

Reas. From the sutableness and seasonableness of these thoughts at such a time.

1. The se [...]ions consideration of it may be a means to prevent it: by removing the Cause, the Effect ceaseth; God brings sorrow for sin, Repentance stops him in his course, and brings back his favour. A wise and holy improvement of the day of Gods goodness and favour, causeth the Sun to stand still in our Firmament, and the day of pro­sperity to last: but the sinful abuse of it hastens the setting of our Sun, and coming of the black and dark night; now to think of this beforehand, affords us a solemn and awakening Motive carefully to improve our time of visitation, whereby we may enjoy a blessed lengthening out of our tranquillity.

2. The due improving of these thoughts may be a means to fit us for the Night: Fore-warned (as we say) and fore-armed; the expe­ctation of storms and tempests, drives persons to seek a seasonable shelter and hiding-place from the wind and rain: this makes serious souls prepare to meet with their God. They that never think nor consider of a change, never think of being emptied from vessel to vessel, are like fishes taken in an evil net, are horribly unprepared; but the serious ex­pectation of dayes of Calamity, will drive us (if any thing) to make our peace with God, to take up our shelter under the wings of the [Page 64] Lord Jesus Christ, [...] evil of these evils overtake us not.

3. These thoughts [...] make us wise to improve our morning to the best advantage: when we see night coming, and a great deal before us to do, this doubles our diligence, whiles many times we idle away much of the day, as long as we think it a great while to night; as long as we [...] the Sun to be in its height, we sleep, but when it is near setting, [...] redeem the time. Oh how laborious Christians should we be, how sedulous in the work of God, if we did but carry along with us in our mindes the thoughts of the evil day, did we but with a cautious expectation every day look for a change!

Use. 1. See here how grievously they provoke God, who in the day of their prosperity minde nothing but their case and pleasure, Amos 6. 1.—it is an iniquity which God cannot bear, as follows in the sequel: it is a note of a wicked man, when he enjoyes the fa­vour of God, to do nothing but spend his dayes in mirth; there are the afflictions of Joseph to minde, yea also and our own change to minde: what was the ground of Jerusalems destruction but this? Lam. 1.9.

Use II. This may be for Direction to us, what use to make of the consideration and fore-thoughts of the night of Trouble, in a few things:

First, Consider what just reason we have to expect a night, a change, more sorrows still; viz.

1. The grievous loss of precious time in the best, Oh how much of our time here have we wasted away, aliud agendo, in that which profits not. None in the world ever enjoyed a happier advantage to serve God in, then we have done for so long a season in this Wilder­ness, wherein we have enjoyed peat [...], and the liberties of the Gospel, liberty to be as good as we will, and all encouragements to serve God; but oh how much have we been wasting away unprofitably, in Con­tentions, and busie Wranglings about matters of an inferiour consi­deraton, about our worldly Cares and Perplexities, &c. We have used but little care to redeem those precious hours from those en­compassing vanities which beset us.

2. [...] provocations of Gods wrath in many, which may make God say of us as of Israel, that we press him as a Cart is pressed with the sheaves. Oh how many crying sins have been sound among us? Should God come and [...] with us, (and indeed so he doth, and hath [Page 65] been pleading with us a great while) and [...] over to us a Bill of our several Items, how few need he leave [...] those [...] a­gainst Jerusalem, in that heavy Accusation accorded Ezek. 22.14. I need not mention in particular, Crying [...] been found, and are prevailing, and shall not God visit for [...] things? will be not be a­venged on such a people, who promised, and gave [...] of bet­ter things?

Secondly, Consider what Warnings God hath given us:

1. In the Ministry: Hath it not been the voice of God in the mouth of all his Prophets, hath there not been a full and universal consent of all Gods Messengers, that God hath a Controversie with his people, and cannot be silent? How long hath this been a Conclusion, and they have been faithful to discharge their duty, and acquit their Consciences on this account by declaring it: this we have heard often proclaimed, and by sound demonstration cleared to us, but we have made too light of that, Ministers must say something to keep up their credit, and keep the people in awe. And therefore

2. God hath warned us in his Providences, that so he might make us believe his Word in the mouth of his Messengers: and that not only by many Signs and Prognosticks usual forerunners of calamitous times, but also by the Vaunt-Courriers of his Army of Judgements, beginnings of sorrows; many have been the sad and awakening Pro­vidences of these latter years, he is a stranger in our Israel who is unacquainted therewithall. It we will not credit the Word, yet let us believe the Rod; if in the Morning we have been easily deluded into false and vain hopes, to think it would never be Night, yet one would think, when the Sun seems to be setting in our Horizon, and the dusk of the Evening is coming upon us, we should now be ready to give credit to it, unless we are fallen into a Lethargic, and dead sleep of Security.

3. Now let us bethink our selves how it may be prevented: to what end should we be warned, but that we might endeavou to prevent and escape the drinking the dregs of this Cup, whereof we have been already made to sip?

1. Believe that God is yet willing to be stopt, he shews how un­willing he is to [...], and therefore is ready to be stayed. God loves to be hindred in these proceedings he himself looks to set if there be any to stand in the gap, and make up the breach, and he is grieved when [Page 66] [...] none: [...] encouragement; The God of Israel is a mer­ciful God, and will be ready to extend that mercy to us, notwithstand­ing any advantage he hath in his hand against us: he therefore (when in the midst of Judgements) swears, that he delights not in the sinners death, and calls upon them to return to him, Ezek. 36. 11.

3. Improve the means of prevention that are appointed by God: as there is a possibility of stopping the process of Gods wrath, so there is but one onely way whereby it can be done, and that is by re­turning by a thorow Repentance, by a confessing and forsaking those sins that pull down wrath; we must confess, that he may be acknow­ledged Just; we must forsake, because the Cause must be taken away before the Effect cease.

4. Prepare that if the Night come you may make advantage of it for your good: though the Night hath many sad disadvantages, yet it hath its advantages too; though it pay the sluggard with shame, yet to him that hath done his work, 'tis sweet, and helps his rest: if it finde you in a way of righteousness, it can do you no hurt, it shall do you a great deal of good. Oh prepare, get your sins pardoned and done away, if the guilt of these remain, they will interpose as a thick and dismall Cloud, between the light of Gods countenance and your souls, then it will be a black and dark night indeed: get into Christ, make him your shelter and rock, he is a sure refuge, and the tempest cannot break through him to do you any harm, though it should bear down, and wash away the clay house of your earthly tabernacle, yet it cannot keep you from, but will hasten you to a more speedy posses­sion of your Eternal Mansion, your house of rest, whose [...] and maker is God.

If ye will enquire, enquire ye:] The Prophet having answered their Question about the Events of Providence, and confirmed his fore­warnings, by taking off the objection from present prosperity, and ascertained them of the hastening of their Calamity; being desirous to prevent their utter desolation, addes a [...] of serious advice to them from God, wherein he tacitly reproves the hypocrisie of their former inquisitiveness, and calls up to sincerity in their enquiring. Hence

Doct. 1. Hypocritical service is in Gods [...] no service. Edo [...] makes a seeming enquiry, out they did it not in earnest, hence the Prophet speaks of it as [...]. The [...] much, and [Page 67] were angry that God did not answer them, [...] their [...]ffliction still re­mained on them; God tells them he looked upon it as no Fast, Isai. 58.3.

Reas. is, Because it

1. Comes not from a right principles; Grace, which onely can do any thing acceptably to God: where there is not this, the Sacrifice is an abomination. That which hath the matter of visible service in it, is looked upon as the greatest sin, Isa. 66.2.

2. Is not done in a right manner, viz. Sincerity of heart. God requires the heart in every service, for that commands all the facul­ties, and what way that goes, thither indeed all aim; hence the com­plaint is, Their heart [...]as not upright toward God.

3. Neither doth it aim at the right end, viz. the glory of God: this is the end of all true service, to bring glory to our Maker, and if this be not our aim and end, God is not indeed served in it. Now every hypocritical service wants all these ingredients, and therefore is not a serving of God, hence no wonder if he do not accept it.

Use. This may be for Tryal, to see whether our services and en­quiries have not been hypocritical, whether or no we have not drawn near to God with our lips, whiles our hearts have been far from him: Surely there is great reason why we should make such an enquiry an this is, if we consider what effects have followed upon our fastings.

1. How little fruit of Reformation hath there been on our part: what one thing hath there been amended? what publick sin hath been reclaimed? is there ever the less vanity, pride, profaneness, oppres­sion, contention? or do not these and the like evils seem rather to in­arease and grow more after all? and is not this a note of hypocrisie, to confess, and seem to bewail, and yet not to amend, but grow worse?

2. Wherein hath there been a removal of the Rod on Gods part: do not our calamities seem to increase, and the stroke to be more and more heavy? we lost many Instruments of the glory of God, and suffered many bodily Calamities, and Blastings of our labours, and we have fasted, but his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretch­ed out still; yea more varieties of sorrows are heaped upon us: we may therefore well examine our own hears, what is the reason of all this, unless we have not yet indeed turned to him who smote us, the Lord our God.

[Page 68] Doct. 2. Whatsoever [...] we make, yet God knows with what hears we come to him, to ask [...] and direction from him. The Idum are seem earnest and urgent, but yet the Lord tells them that they make none (i. e. no acceptable) enquiry.

Reas. From his Omniscience, Psal. 94.8. Heb. 4.13. he is the heart maker, and therefore hath the power of discerning the heart, and all the motions and turnings of it; all the nooks and corners of it are open: it is so full of deceitfulness, that we cannot know it throughly, but he perfectly and exactly views, and discerns it; if he did no: know the secrets of our hearts, if any thing were [...] from him, he were not God.

Use. Learn hence that you cannot deceive God, man you may put off with fine words and fair p [...]etences, but not so God: hath not God made it to appear that he will not be mocked by us? we have offered up to him hypocritical services, and accordingly we have been paid: we come with an Idol in our heart, and he hath answered us according to our Idol. Let us then look to our selves, and bew [...]re how we come before him, with what heart we come into his prese [...]ce: know it, if we sow wind, we shall reap the east-wind; we may think to deceive and put him off with our mockeries, but he observes and takes notice even of those thoughts, and will make us to see and feel that he i [...] d [...]spleased with them: Bring then no more vain oblations, offer up no more heart­less sacrifices to him, but come loathing our selves, taking the true shame of our sins, and with a real desire to be rid of them, and we shall be accepted.

Doct. 3 Those that would be instructed by God, in the grounds of his quarrel, and means of restitution, must enquire in good earnest. God loves no this hypocritis, and it we bring it, he will answer accordingly, Ezek. 14 4. God may indeed answer those that enquire in hypocrisie, but it is an unwelcome answer he gives them, viz. a commision, and a ratifying of his Threatnings, and an [...] fulfilling of them: All the news that Edom hears, is, That their Night shall come on them, the [...] determined shell be brought to [...] them: but God gives an answer of peace onely to those that enquire in sin­ [...]ity.

Reas. 1. Because this hypocrious is are great reason of the continua­tion of Gods anger, and there [...] must be [...], [...] before God [...] 4. they [Page 69] had sinned, and God had afflicted; they [...] God had added to their affliction, and they now would [...] the iniquity of their fasting procured the [...]; Is this such a Fast as I have required? hence God direct the [...] to fast aright, in the sequel. Judah had been full of [...], but God was [...] Isa. 1. he tells them how they should come and reason out the case with him, and enjoy pardon and mercy at his hands, ver. 16, 17.

Reas. 2. Because there can be no hope of true Reformation, where there is not sincerity in [...] enquiring: if we enquire hypocritically, we cannot [...] to spent; for the very first step to repen­tance, is a serious [...] and enquiry into our hearts and wayes, Lam. 3.40. Those proud men, Jer. 43. they come in hypocrisie, and hence when they have an answer from God, and are counselled for their [...], they take up a resolution that they will not do according to the word of the Lord.

Use. I for Tryall: Le us examine whether this be not the reason why God hath not yet made us to see, and be sensible of the grounds of his Contest with this poor Land. This is the great and general complaint, We have fasted and prayed, sought and enquired, but his hand is stretched out still, and he is yet pleased to hide the reason from us, and not to let us know why he [...] with us. Oh, do not charge God [...] of [...] or hard dealing: God, though he be Sovereign, and not [...] of any of his matters, yet he is a gracious God, and [...] to the humble soul to make a discovery of his Counsels, would we know why God hides his minde from us; look upon our selves, did we ever yet enquire in good ear­nest? Gods hand hath been heavy on this account upon us.

1. In some things God hath di [...]ded the Apprehensions of his Mes­sengers, as is too manifest and apparent; and this is your [...], which ought to be your sorrow, for if in any point the [...] give an uncertain sound, yours is the suffering [...] to be, [...] yet this is a general out-cry, What do you expect from [...] what do you think we should do, when our Ministers are not [...] [...] it is a humbling thought, but do not wash your lands, and [...] you mouthes, as if you were clean in this point, [...] finde the root and cause of the affl [...]ct on in your selves; [...] you [...] God [...] good earnest for your Ministers, and [...] as you ought to do, and [...] of God [...]o give [...] out heart, there would be a [...] among them.

[Page 70] 2. In other things [...] a general Consent and Agreement among Gods Ministers, but the people of God are divided in apprehension: and hence a check in many [...] put to the comfortable carrying on of the Work of Reformation; some are of one minde, some of an­other; some consent with, and other dissent from the Messengers of God, and hence are ready to charge each other mutually as the causes of our Calamity: and what's the reason of these divisions in Reuben, but that we have enquired of God with an Idol in our hearts? We first take up Conclusions that we are in the right, and all others out of the way that are different from us; and then, with these Conclusions we go to God, and make as if we enquired of him.

3. In other things all agree as to the Theory, viz. as to many Moral Causes and Occasions, which are justly provoking to God to bring a Scourge upon us: Who agrees not that Pride, Profaneness, Conten­tion, &c. are things which provoke Gods anger, and cause him to smoke against a people in the fire of his displeasure? yea, who agrees not that these sins are prevailing and increasing among us? and yet we little reform these things in our selves, neither are we satisfied in our enquiry, but still remain queri [...]ts; and why? we still enquire hy­pocritically: this may be matter of humiliation this day, among o­thers let us not forget to bewail this sin in the presence of God, and beg of him to give us grace to seek him so as we may be heard by him, and he found by us.

Use II. for Exhortation: We come this day humbly to ask of God what his minde is, why he is offended at his people, and seems to be unwilling to be pacified, and to be angry at our requests; why if you will enquire, enquire: if you would be satisfied, and receive an answer of peace at Gods hands, come in good earnest, and God shall satisfie you this day: none ever asked counsel of him with a true and sincere heart, but was satisfied. For your help herein by way of Direction in this great business, if you would receive help and counsell from God, then

1. Lay down your own judgements and wills at the foot of God, there are many that bring a fore-stalled judgement, and will (as we heard) take up their rash Conclusions, according to their own opi­nions, and resolve never to be moved from them: this provokes God to leave us up to be seduced by our own delusions. Empty your selves therefore of your own wisdome and will, that you may be ready to entertain his.

[Page 71] 2. Make the Word of God your Rule [...], make that your Light and Lamp to lead you in your search [...] the Causes of Gods displeasure: go not by humane policy, [...] carnal reason, or other mens judgements and apprehensions, which are fallacious; no, [...] God be true, and every man a lyar. Compare we our selves by his Word exactly, by the Rule, and by Examples, and let Conscience be an im­partial Judge, and doubtless we shall discover more then a little.

3. Come with an humble heart, prepared to submit to whatsoever God shall discover. Consider, many things have been told you, but they have met with, and crost your corruptions, and so you have re­jected them: a proud heart is never like to be so familiar with God as to be instructed by him, he sees such at a distance: would you have God to teach you, submit humbly to his teaching.

1. If the sin [...]all upon you in particular, be ready to take the shame of it: if while thou art standing before God, asking him by whom. and for what he is provoked? if he answer, Thou art the man, for these and those things he is provoked and offended; why, now lay thy mo [...]th in the d [...]st, reply not against him. While the sin is laid open others, and it toucheth not us, as we conceive, or at least onely our natural infirmities, &c. we are well pleased; but when our [...] come to be opened, rubbed and chafed, why then we kick, and fling, and rage, and grow mad. Avoid this frame, and bear patiently to be laid open and reproved.

2. If the Command laid upon you be never so cross, be ready and willing to obey it: it may be, that which God expects may be exceed­ing averse, an Opinion which thou hast been long rooted and rivetted in, and dwelt upon with great confidence; a sin which hath brought thee in a great deal of profit, credit, or the like: the thing which God commands may seem to carnal Reason unreasonable, &c. now a proud heart will fling away; but have a care thou bring not such an heart before the great Searcher of hearts: Come, able in some mea­sure sincerely to say, Speak Lord, thy Servant heareth; Command me what thou wilt. I am ready to obey and follow thee.

4. Begin at home in your enquiry: be sure search your own hearts in the first place, whether the Achan, the troubler of Israel be not lodged in your own breast. We keep a great deal of do abroad, search­ing, enquiring, censuring as if we were true men to God, and re­solved to [...] but we are like some treacherous Constable, [Page 72] that hath a Warrant to search for a Malefactor, he is very busie and strict in his Office, searcheth and ransacks every house in the Town, pries into every corner, as very desirous to finde him out, and bring him forth, and yet mean while he lyes had at home in his own house: Oh! this will never do, if thou knowest any sin harboured in thy heart, lie not to God by thus enquiring, nay if thou do but suspect it, let that be enough to cause a search: and to that end examine all thy wayes and actions, and see whether they have not been provoking to Cod. examine them throughly.

1. In the matter of them, see whether thou hast not fallen short in many things of the letter of the Law, committed those very sins, neglected those very duties, which the least light of Conscience might have convinced thee to be thy duty to be done or avoided.

2. In the Circumstance of thy actions.

1. Of time, a thing beautiful in its season: unseasonable, is ugly and deformed: hast thou taken the seasons of Christian duties? hast thou spoken against thy neighbours sins plainly to his face; privately, or not rather behinde his back, slinderously reviling him, &c.?

2. Of place or persons: David would hold his tongue in presence of the wicked; how many times hast thou failed of due consideration, when, or before thou hast thus done, or thus said.

3. In the manner of the carriage of your selves: it may be you have for the matter attended your duty, but have you for the manner too? have not you [...] out of your duty, and run into sin upon this account? have you not under pretext of zeal of Gods glory, and upholding his Name and Honour, given the reins into the neck of unruly passions, and [...] Moses spoken unadvisedly; yea worse then he, raged, re [...]iled, &c.? Examine every thing, and possibly God may discover to you more of this mischief lodged in your own heart, then ever yet you were aware of.

Obj. But general visitations, argue a general provocation, and there­fore they argue that we [...] look ahead.

Ans. The Object on hath [...] in to impair the necessity of the duty urged in the Direction, at such a time as this: for,

1. Sometimes a private person [...] be the occasion of a general and publick Calamity: Ach [...] Israel; Israel is charged with his sin, and fly before their [...]: [...]e reade of nothing else that the Lord charges upon them, but onely his sin.

[Page 73] 2. General is made up of particularly [...] particulars, and therefore mayest well [...] self upon the ac­count of publick and general visitations. [...] one should so ex­cuse themselves, where should the sin he sound? God faith In thee are found such, &c. Ezek.22. he doth not there lay every particular sin upon all, yet all these went together to make up the provocation of Gods wrath, and procure their publick Calamity.

3. Thou it may be art a private person, and therefore canst do but little upon a publick account but by thy prayers; labour therefore to do the more with thine own heart. God hath not set every man in such a place, wherein he is called to busie himself in matters of publick con­cernment, these belong to persons in publick employment, whom we can onely, assist by our prayers, or a detection and discovery of such particular enormities as we are privy to, that they may receive their due reward, and sin may be taken out of Israel: but we have the more scope and opportunity to be searching our own hearts, and if we neg­lect that work, we do little or nothing.

4. Thou art not fitted to look abroad, till thou hast first made a thorough work at home, Mat. 7.1—Thou art like to make but poor work in publick matters, whiles thou harbourest sin in thin own heart; if therefore thou hast a desire to do God service upon that ac­count, thou hadst need to be more then ordinarily careful to clear thy own accounts with God, lest thou be found guilty of hypocrisie. It will be found the ready way to bring thy self under inexcusable Con­demnation before God, to search after and condemn those sins in o­thers, which thou thy self livest in the daily practice of, Rom. 2.1. thou must therefore prepare thy self to this work by a thorough search of thy own heart.

5. Particular Repentance goes before general mercies, Zech. 11.9. if God intend good to this poor Land he will bring us to this, he will make us get alone, and every one lay his singer upon his own sore, and mourn over our sins wherewithall we have been provoking his Majesty: and when he hath once brought us to that, the time of his gracious visitation is near at hand; yea, that indeed is the first great mercy, for which let us this day seek his face.

5. Reform according to thy ability, and where thou canst not re­form, these mourn.

First, Reform according to thy latitude.

[Page 74] 1. Reform thy [...] by due discipline towards it, here then canst not be too strict [...]; let the search be thorough, and the reformation universal: mortifie thy lusts and corruptions, ransack and cleanse every corner of thy heart, let none of thy Idols remain, but put them all away; resolve with Ephraim, that thou wilt have no more to do with them, Hos. 14.8. and beg of God grace that thou mayest stand to thy resolutions.

2. Reform others that are under thy charge, as far as thou canst do thy best; say to thy Children, as Jacob to his sons, Put away every one from among you his strange gods; Joshua, you know, could under­take not onely for himself, but for his too, I and my house will serve the Lord: be sure to reform them as to the outward man; you can indeed do no more, but be sure do that. Content not your selves to give them some slighty reproofs for their sins, that was Eli's sin, which removed his family from the Priesthood, but make use of that authority which God hath put into your hands, as occasion may re­quire, and then commend the success to God.

3. Pray to God that he would

(1) Give and continue an endeavour after Reformation to the Ma­gistracy and Ministry, and give them an advantage, and encourage them in that Work Bless God in as much as you see their hearts towards the Work, beg of him that he would remove all obstacles and hindrances out of the way, that there may be a thorough and glorious Work of it. Oh be earnest with God for this, without it we have but little hopes to see any more good dayes.

(2) Give a spirit of Reformation to all his people, that such a work may be universally consented to, that we may all set our hearts and shoulders to the Work: doubtless there is no greater good we can beg for at the hands of God at this time.

Secondly, Where thou canst do no good, there mourn: beg of God to give thee a spirit of mourning for all the sins of the Land. We finde this spirit to have been eminent in good David, Psal. 1. 19. 136, 158. and it is that, which (if it tend not to the prevention of publick Calamity, yet) will bring a private blessing [...] along with it, such shall not be forgotten in the day of Calamity, but be noted for mercy, Ezek. 9. 4.

6. Let thy further enquiry be accompanied with amendment of what is at the present discovered, that is the way to know more; to be faith­full [Page 75] [...] have now my finger upon the right Sore. [...] say indeed this is New Englands great disease; God hath begun in his Judgements to visit us, and there is a great deal of enquiry after the Cause: Gods Ministers endeavour faithfully to discover it, and yet still we are querists, Di­vine Providence speaks, and points at many things evidently, and still we are where we were; we acknowledge many things, and grant them to be amiss, and yet still the cry is, What's the reason? God is pleased to hide the reason: and why? why, men cannot see wood for trees: if we wait for immediate Revelations, we may wait long e­nough, there is no expecting of one to come from the dead to tell us. Indeed we can hardly look any where, but we may see causes apparent.

1. Let every private person look at home, take an account with his own heart, and he shall see enough to mend there. Out of doubt, if we deal here ingenuously, we shall finde that which may teach us to justifie God, and declare him righteous in what concerns us.

2. Look into Families, and see what disorders there are, Children rising up against Parents, and carrying themselves disobediently, which hath a dreadful Curse denounced against it: Parents neglecting the due care of their Children, to nurture and bring them up in the admoni­tion of the Lord, cockering, and making them their equals, not keeping their due distances; and too many families without the Worship of God in them, being more like Pagan, then Christian houses.

3. Look into Towns, and there you shall see disorders, young men despising the aged, and carrying themselves contemptuously towards them; vanity and profaneness abounding; a selfish spirit growing upon the most, together with a neglect of one anothers good, that love which is due one to another wholly in many neglected; Town Societies rent in pieces with disorderly Contention.

4. Look into Congregations, and there you shall see confusions; some contending with their Ministers, and others biting and catching atone another; some not agreeing about the setting up of the Ordi­nances of God among them, and others not contented when they have them, but pulling them down again with [...] and main; great emulations, jealousies false surmises &c. Ministers despised, their Office questioned, their Authority cast off, and trampled upon, their persons undervalued and vilified, their comfortable Supply and Main­tenance neglected, Ordinances not frequented with care and constan­cy, &c.

[Page 76] 5. Look into [...] or Civil State, and there you [...] see the Sinews of our [...] Society wondrously loosened: the want of Power in the Supreme Representative Body to strengthen them, by reason of the necessary [...] incident to a declining Popular Go­vernment; and hence arise many misbehaviours, which time forbids to mention.

6. Look into the Body Ecclesiastical, and there you shall see Chur­ches; some ready to exalt themselves above the Civil Magistrate, and disowning his Civil Power in matters appertaining to Godliness; o­thers ready to renounce Consociation and Communion one with an­other, and many the like: and yet we still enquire; What's the reason? Why is God displeased? Why, is all this nothing? yes sure: why, who knows not that these are our distempers?

Obj. But there is some particular thing which must be known, and this is either in Magistrate, or Ministers, or both: when shall you finds in Scripture that God ever brought publick Judgements on his people, but the sins of Princes, Priests and Prophets were the causes of it, and are so de­clared to have been? and therefore we must enquire yet further.

Ans. 1. This Objection is strange and impertinent, it is as if a Phy­sician should come to a person all over full of mortal wounds, and yet neglects them all, and strangely cries out, There is one singular wound which I must finde out: is not this to suffer the person wilfully to perish, by letting him bleed out his life at the known wounds, while he goes upon the discovery of one unknown? Is not this New-Englands case, such as was once Judahs, Isa. 1 5. and shall we yet grope as in the dark after some singular thing: I therefore fear that this is but a fond and hypocritical excuse, to put off the edge of the conviction of present sins, and keep up our credit too, as if we would willingly know the minde of God. But

2. Suppose there be some singular sin: yet

First, It doth not need presently terminate upon the Magistracy and Ministry, though wherein they may be wanting in their places, the Lord give them to see & reform it, but it is not my work to scandalize those who cannot hear me speak: yet I say the sin is not needfully theirs. But

1. It may be universal, a spreading and over-running distemper. It is true indeed, God sometimes speaks to these, For your sakes they shall go into captivity; but if we be wise and compare Scripture, we shall elswhere hear God saying, My people would have it so; there is a concurrence, a delight in it.

[Page 77] 2. [...] form, but we will not be reformed: our [...] Government both in Church and Commonwealth, is partly [...] whose cor­ruption and degeneracy being Anarchy, the guilt of the errours of Administration fall upon the people, especial it persons in Office and Place do their endeavour to rectifie and at [...]end them, but are over­powered; nay, though they attain an outward Reformation, yet there may remain the guilt of that sin unrepented of upon a Land, which God will not forget, but (though he may delay for a while) will finde out a time to call to reckoning. Josiah was the greatest Refor­mer in Judah that ever was, yet though there were peace in his time. Reade 2 Kings 22. 25: & 23. 25, 26.

3. Consider (though I speak not to excuse sin in any, where they may be guilty before God) yet consider why hath God lately taken away so many of his precious Servants in the Ministry, it is not to their damage or wrong, they are gone to their rest, have left a sinful and sorrowful world, to be invested with a Crown of Glory, and to be with Christ, which is best: but we are bereaved, the Lights are put out of our Candlesticks; they were despised here, and they are now received to honour and glory: and this may call us to solemn conside­ration. Consider Isa. 57. 1—

Secondly, Be it a singular sin, and let it center where it will, it seems we are to seek about it; It tell you, the way to know it, is to reform what we do know. God reveals himself by degrees to a people ac­cording to their improvement. God hath told us of these and those things; why should he discover any more, since we mend not, but make so ill use of what he hath discovered. Let me tell you, and I can assure you of it to be a truth, prove it, and you shall have experience of it, If we repent from our hearts of our known sins, God will either remove the stroke off from us, or further discover what is provoking to him.

Return, come.] Verba festinantes. The words

1. Contain a general duty: this duty is a serious Repentance, im­plied in both words put together. Return. Esau went out from the Church, desoised the Priviledges of it, his Posterity, here is called up­on to come back again. Come; i. e. Come to God, to him from whom you went away in that Apostacy: which two are true Repentance; A turning away from sin, a going to God.

[Page 78] 2. They [...] both wor [...]s [...]; Forsake sin, and [...] God, this is a whole work.

[...] Repentance, Return, come. God is at a word with them, if they [...] then make haste. Hence, to sum up all in one, observe this

Doct. When God begins to visit a sinning people for their sins, be ex­pects a thorough and [...] Repentance.

1. God now expects Repentance: he promiseth himself such an effect, Isa. 26 9. hence he calls for it, Jer. 26. 12, 13.

2. God expects a thorough Repentance, it is no halving of it with God, when once he hath taken the rod into his hand, Jer. 4. 1.

3. God expects a speedy Repentance, God is in haste, and so must we, ibid.

Reas. 1. Of the the first; From Gods merciful Nature, who had rather sinners should repent and live, Ezek. 36. 11. he had rather spare then destroy, but it must be so as his Honour may not be wronged, which is near and precious to him, and therefore it must be by giving glory to him in a way of Repentance. Hence God when he ha [...] be­gun, useth delayes, and moves slowly in bringing his Judgements.

Reas. 2. Of the second; Because partial Repentance is but a mockery: We owe God all, and therefore in every thing wherein we have offend­ed him, we ought to repent and return, and seek to make it up. He that doth not repent seriously of every sin, doth not repent truly of any sin; he that doth not return unto God, doth not in truth turn away from his sin: a half repentance therefore is no repentance at all.

Reas. 3. Of the third:

1. Because this is the last means, and therefore if this do it not, what hopes are there remaining of such a peoples Reformation. God takes not the Rod in his hand till he be enforced to it, Lam. 3. 37. he useth all other means first, Convictions, Reproofs, Warnings, Threat­nings, and waits to see if these will not reach his ends, and work re­pentance; when all these fail then he begins to afflict a people: now if this will not effect it, nothing will, such a people are beyond hopes obstinate in rebellion, whom Judgements will not awaken to repen­tance, and therefore, God hath little encouragement to use any long delayes with such a people.

2. Because God delayes till he be indeed provoked, and therefore [Page 79] there is need to make haste. God in this exalts his Patience to wait a long time upon a rebellious people, but if Patience be worn out, we had need have a care now to our selves, Isa. 27. 4.

Use. Here we see what is our work to day: God hath begun and made an entrance, and hath been bringing of us on to a stage of Judgements, I need not mention the particulars wherein his hand hath been out against us. Here you see what God expects at our hands.

First, He must have Repentance, if you come not to this you do no­thing; if you only confess, it is but half a Fast, you must forsake too.

1. God will be owned to be just, in the most retired thoughts of your hearts, he cannot bear it to be found fault withall, or be thought to do any [...], he will have you to acknowledge, that in all [...] hath done, he is righteous.

2. Hence you must see your sins, your many provocations, your Covenant-breakings, and your particular enormities, you cannot else justifie God aright, for that is onely done by a sight of sin in its being, its hainousness and guilt.

3. God punishment for sin, hence therefore you must forsake them, you must part with those sins which have parted between God and you: Gods holiness will keep him at a distance from you, so long as you keep your sins, and do not willingly part with them: he cannot love you, till you hate your sins.

Secondly, He must have a thorough Repentance.

1. You must repent of all your sins, that is, all universally, and all particularly, as he comes to discover them to you, you must be sure hide none under your tongue, spare none, but bring them all forth, and confess them before God; the least sin reserved, will keep you at a distance from God.

2. You must amend your wayes, you must live a new life, take cut a new lesson and learn to practise it; you must live no longer after the old [...]ort, you must not now go out of Gods presence, and do as bad as ever you did, God will not endure such halving with him.

3. You must cleave to God with your whole heart, and not fit loose [...] have heretofore done, you must not have your [...] and on's. sometimes you are for God and his service, and sometimes offended in him, God will have you take up your firm resolution, to be for him, and for no other.

Thirdly, He must have a speedy Repentance, you have [...] with [...] him [Page 80] [...] sent to you by his Messengers many a time [...] your [...] but now he [...] he will not be played with [...] you intend to repent, set about [...] you go [...] week, you have [...] and [...] broken all Convenants, now there [...] must see it [...] and you must not [...] any delayes. God [...] he hath [...] already. But if you will [...] God hath mercy in [...] for you, and you shall be [...] to take of it. If New-Englands sin, become New-Englands ruine, which God in his rich mercy prevent, yet then shall you have a mark of [...]: But if you yet resolve to delay, and [...] God off expect swift and sudden ruine, you have tasted of the [...], but God hath [...] heavy plagues in store, expect to go captive with the [...] captive, to be [...] with the first that are slain by by the sword, to be [...] with the first that perish with hu [...]ger: But repent, and God is merciful, the sword of his wrath shall return into its sheath, there is yet hope in Israel concerning this thing, but you must make haste. Oh! come with speed, left repentance come too late.


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