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The Christian Thank Offering.

A Brief Discourse. ON The Returns of Gratitude & Obedience Whereto MEN are Obliged, by the Mercies OF GOD. Made On a Solemn THANKSGIVING, kept in a Private Meeting of Christians, on the Occasion of some Deliverances.

By Cotton Mather.

How Happy were my part If some kind man would thrust his Heart Into these Lines: [...] in Heavens Court of Rolls They were by winged Souls Entred for both, far above their Desert, Herbert. Pag. 98.

BOSTON, in N. E. Printed by B. Green, & J. Allen, for Michael Perry, at his Shop at the Town-House. 1696.

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A Preparatory Thanksgiving Song, fetch'd from the Beginning and Conclusion of the Hundred and Third Psalm.

AWake, my Soul, Awake, and Bless
JEHOVAH the most Blessed One:
Bless Him, and His Blest Holiness
Let all my Inward Powers own.
The Glories of that Lord, my Soul,
Confess with Praises, just and high;
And His vast Benefits Extol
With a most Thankful Memory.
Tho' thy Sins have His Wrath incurr'd
He does those Horrid Sins Forgive;
And tho' thy Sins have thee procur'd
Diseases, These He does Relieve.
He does from Deaths and Hells dark place
Thy Life, though Forfeited, Redeem:
And with Rich Merc [...]s of His Grace,
Thou art, How Richly! Crown'd by Him.
Thy Mouth did never Wisely Crave
That Good, which He would not afford.
Such Bowels as our Fathers have,
And more than such are in the Lord.
O ye Bright Angels, who transcend
In Might, show with your Might abroad,
While ye His Will and Voice attend,
the Praise of our Almighty God.
Armies of Angels, that Obey
The Great Gods only Son and Heir,
His Greatness, Oh! Gladly Display:
You and We, His Glad Servants are.
All He has made, throughout His whole
Dominion too, Let all Adore
Their Maker: But, O Thou, my Soul,
Bear part with them for-ever-more.
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THE Christian Thank-Offering.

I Beseech You, Bretheren, by the Mercies of God, that you now give your Serious Attention, unto the Returns which you are to make for those Mercies, declared in

ROM. XII. 1.
I beseech you therefore, Brethren, by the Mercies of God, that yee present your Bodies, a Living Sa­crifice, Holy, Acceptable unto God: Your Rea­sonable Service.

As Reasonable a Thing certainly, as ever was proposed, in the World!

Christians, I have set before you, a pas­sage of Sacred Scripture, worthy to be Written, as once the whole New Testament where­of this is a part, was upon the Walls of a Ger­man Monastery, In Letters of Gold; Yea, to be Written on the Fleshly Tables of our Hearts for ever.

We find this passage, in an Epistle Directed unto the Apostolical Church of Rome, and an Epistle, which insisting on that Great Article of Justification only by Faith in the Obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the main Thing [Page 4] denyed by the present Church of Rome; and on the Conversion of the Israelitish Nation, which is to be Consequent on, and perhaps a little Effect­ed by, the Destruction to come shortly on the present Church of Rome; in those, as well as in other Notable Things, it mentions matters, wherein the Apostatical Church of Rome, is in a peculiar manner concerned.

But we also are concerned in these Things; and this Day, Eminently concerned in the Text now to be considered.

The Doctrinal part of this Epistle, being dis­patched in the first Eleven Chapters, the Practical, is comprized in the Five last; And this part, begins with a most Universal, & most Com­prehensive Exhortation. Wherein we may note,

First, The Matter of the Advice. This is, That we do make our Bodies, which by a Sy­n [...]doche, implies our whole Selves, our Souls, our Names, our Friends, our Estates, and all our In­terests, a Sacrifice unto God: which is done, in short, by Devoting them unto the Service of that God.

Next, The Manner of pressing it. This is, with, A Compellation, Brethren: An Obtestation, I beseech you; And a very weighty Argument, By the Mercies of God; that is to say, The Mercies of God lay upon us, a very powerful Ob­ligation hereun [...]o.

But we have not yet given the Text so par­ticular an Illustra [...], as it seems to call for [Page 5] Know then, That according to the Stricter No­tion of a Sacrifice, its more general Distinction, is into Propitiatory, or Eucharistical Now Christi­anity in that Notion admits but One, and this of the former sort; by which One, even that of Himself, our Lord hath forever perfected them that are Sanctified: He is a Poor Priest, who dreams of any other. We our selves, or any Things that we do, in Religion, are capable of being Sacrifices, only by way of Analogy, & that chiefly to the latter sort; So, we offer up Spiri­tual Sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. A Sacrifice here signifies no more, than a Thing Devoted unto God. But what are we thus to Devote? Our Bodies. Hereby we are to un­derstand our whole Selves: but it is Expressed by, Your Bodies, for Distinction sake: the Bodies of Beasts were heretofore Offered, and now we are to Offer up Our own. This is called, a Li [...]ing Sacrifice, because the Sacrifice of old was to be brought Alive unto the Lord; the Isra [...]lit [...]s might not themselves Eat a thing Dead of it self, much less might they bring such a Thing to the Living God. And yet the Victim was to be Slain, in Sacrificing; which is here opposed, by an Intimation, that when we Sacrifice our Bodies to the Lord, they yet continue to Live Our Lives will not be at all Impaired, by the commanded Sacrifice of our Bodies, no, they will be Improved by a wonderful Sac [...]dness added thereunto. Our Bodies are to be an [...] Sacrifice: And yet the Bodily Life also is herein [Page 6] but alluded unto: 'tis a further, an Higher, a Nobler Living, a Living unto the Lord Jesus Christ, that is here called for. Holy, is annex­ed without any Tautology; for though it be in our word, Sacrifice, it is not in the Greek word, [...]. And besides, the Real Holiness or the Rectitude of Mind, and Walk, which attends our Sacrificing of our selves unto God, is here pointed at. What is Holiness but a Devotion of our selves unto the Lord Jesus Christ? This will be Acceptable. Indeed our Sacrifice becomes not Acceptable By this; and yet, it is not Acceptable without it [...] We have been told, that all our Sacrifices, are Acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ. How­ever, Holiness, in the Nature of the Thing it self, is Well pleasing unto God. And, In all this there is a Reasonable Service; This intimates the Transcendency of the Sacrifice required; they are not B [...]uits but Men, that are to be a Sacrifice; and the Highest Acts of Reason too, are to be the Ingredients of the Sacrifice; and the Right of God hereunto is also signified; there is no­thing so Reasonable, as that we should Offer our selves unto Him. 'Tis to be done with a Presentation; we are to set our selves before God, as they did Sistere ad Altare, th [...] destined Sacrifices, making them Stand ready there for Immolation. The Result of all is,

That the [...] of God unto us, Very Strongly obligeth us to Devote our selves unto the [...] of God.

[Page 7] There are Two Prop [...]sitions which we are here to Listen unto.

1. The First and Great Obedience, and the Summ and Substance of that Obedience, which we owe unto God, is the Devotion of our selves unto the Service of the Lord Jesus Christ. That we should Serve the God that made us, This is the Grand End for which we are made by God: Of mankind, it is by the Eternal Ma­ker said, This people have I formed for my self, they shall show forth my praise. But it is the Son of God, who is that Word of God, of whom we are told, in Col. 1. 16. All things were Cre­ated by Him, and for Him. And the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man, He is that, He [...] of God, and that Lord of All concerning whom 'tis the Will of God, expressed, in Joh: 5 23. That all men should Honour the Son, even [...] they Honour the Father. The Dues which belong to God from us, the Lord JESUS CHRIST, our Immanuel, and our God manifest [...] the Flesh, is the more immediate Receiver of them. He hath a Right unto us not only as He hath Made us, but as He hath Bought us too; & as we are directed, in Eph. 5. 20. To give thanks unto God, and the Father, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; thus, our Service is then most agre [...] ­ably and effectually yielded unto God, [...] we distinctly put the Name of the Lord JESUS CHRIST upon all, as being a Servicein [...]e [...]ded for Him immediately. All the Mercy of God [Page 8] unto us, comes thro' the Hand of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, the God man, and the Medi­ator between God and Man. Hence, tho' it were an Impiety, to Exclude the Consideration of God the Father, or of God the Spirit, in that Service which we are to render unto God for His Mercy, yet we then render it after the most Christian manner, when we carry the Lord JESUS CHRIST in our Thoughts, as the next Object of it. Wherefore, in the Meditations which I am to give you, I shall study still to insert the Name of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, as calling for that Service, which is to be done in the whole of our Obedience unto God. And this I do the rather, because of a boiling An­tipathy in my Soul, against the Paganism of those Traitors unto the King of Heaven, who tho' they call themselves Divines, yet would have their Sermons and Writings valued, for the same cause that Blessed Austin undervalued the Books of their Brother Cicero, Quia Nom [...] Christi non est i [...]i; the Name of the Lord JE­SUS CHRIST is not there. Nor indeed, would we be so profane, as to reckon it a Battology, or a Superfluity, in the Fourteen E­pistles of Paul, that this dearest Name occurrs four hundred and fifty Times therein, and no less than [...] Times in the Ten First Verses to the Corinthians.

The Thing which I assert is, That the Obe­dience to God, which His Innumerable & Unparallellable [Page 9] Mercies unto us, do call for, is, That we Devote our selves unto the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST; who to this End both Died and Rose, that He might be the LORD of all. To Serve the Lord JESUS CHRIST, what is that? Briefly, 'Tis to make [...]t Acknowledgments of His Infinite Excellencies, and bring others to join with us in making of such Acknowledgments. It is to bear our Testi­monies unto the Truths and unto the Wayes of he Lord JESUS CHRIST, and Conform our selves unto His Will. Now to Devote our selves hereunto, is our Acceptable Sacrifice; For [...]e are assured, He that Serveth Christ, is Ac­ceptable to God. And we are thus to proceed [...]n our doing of it.

First, We are to be convinced and satisfied of this; That the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, is the most Reasonable Service. The lord JESUS CHRIST, is the True God, the Great God, the Mighty God, and GOD over all, Blessed [...]r ever. The Lord JESUS CHRIST, is He, whom all the Angels adore, as the Lord of [...]osts, the Creator and Preserver of the World; and the most High, Possessor of Heaven and Earth. The Lord JESUS CHRIST is He, to whom we are beholden for all the Good Things [...]hat ever we do enjoy. HE particularly, tho' He were Equal with God, nevertheless Took on Him the Form of a Servant, for our Good. Upon the view of all this, we are to pro­nounce [Page 10] it infinitely Reasonable, that we should for ever be the Devoted Servants of such a Lord. But the Benefits of Redemption which we have by our Lord JESUS CHRIST, are to have a very particular consideration, among the Reasons of our Serving Him. If we Serve Him not, we Deny the Lord that Bought un.

We are hereupon to Dislike, and Renounce every Service inconsistent with that of the Lord JESUS CHRIST. The proposals which those Hellish Taskmasters, the FLESH, the WORLD and the DEVIL, make unto us, we should Reject with all possible Abhorrence; and be al [...]ogether impatient of the Drudgeries, which we undergo, while we are under their Di­rection.

We are herewithal to Resolve that the Ser­vice of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, shall with His Assistences, be our Everlasting Employ­ment. It is not a Cold Assent, but a Full purpos [...] of Heart, with which we are to Cleave unto the Lord. And with a Resolution to undergo [...] the Self denial therein called for, we must be able to say, Lord, I have inclined my Heart, [...] perform thy Statutes alwayes, even unto the End.

We are herein to give the full consent of our Souls unto the New Covenant, wherein ou [...] Bonds to the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST are to be Signed by us. In the Co­venant of Grace, it is demanded of us, whether we are willing that the Lord JESUS CHRIST [Page 11] should Enstate us in the Favour of God, by the vertue of His Obedience and Intercession, and by His Gracious Influences Enable us, as persons United unto Himself, to Glorify God for ever, and by His own Divine Methods, both Instruct [...] and Incline us, to come at that Final Blessed­ness? And whether we are willing to Express our Thankfulness unto Him, for Delivering us from Spiritual and Eternal Miseries, by sincere Endeavours to Serve Him in Holiness and Righ­teousness all our Dayes? We are now to give up our selves unto the Lord JESUS CHRIST, by declaring our most Hearty Consent unto this COVENANT, in all the Terms of it. Our Baptismal Vow is thus to be Renewed, by our Professing in the most early years of our Youth and Choice, That we do for ever approve of the Dedication to the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, which was visibly passed up­on us in our Infancy.

And finally, We are now to Study, how to Improve our All, for the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST; that He may have Reve­nues of Glory out of All. Having said with Joshua, I will Serve the Lord, we are to say unto our Lord JESUS CHRIST, as one once more improperly did unto another King, I am thine, my Lord, O King, and all that I have. It was required, in 1 Cor. 6. 20. Glorify God in your Bodies, and in your Spirits, which are His. Yea, It was required, in 1 Cor. 10. 30 Whether ye [Page 12] Eat or Drink, or whatever ye do, Do all to Glory of God. Thus, whatever does in a Regard belong unto us, we should by our C [...] ­secration thereof unto the Lord JESUS CHRIST be able to say, This belongs unto the Lord! Whe [...] any Tempters [...] Sollicit us, to abuse any thing that we have unto the Dishonour of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, we should Reply with [...]dignation, How shall I do this Wickedness, an [...] Sin against the Lord; the Lord whose I am, an [...] whom I am to Serve? Instead thereof, All the Powers of our Spirits, our Understandings, our Fantasies, our Memories, our Wills, our Affe­ctions, are to be at work for the Lord JESUS CHRIST continually; All the Members [...] our Bodies, our Eyes, our Ears, our Tongues our Hands and our Feet, are to be at work for the Lord JESUS CHRIST perpetually. All our Possessions, are to have, HOLINESS TO THE LORD, written on them; and we are to put them unto no use, but what may be [...] the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST Our Actions, every Day, should be Ennobled with Deliberate Thoughts, of Glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, in what we do. Yea we should be able to say, with the Apostle, in Phil. 1. [...]1. To me to Live is Christ; by Spending out Lives in the Service of our Lord. It is thus that we are to Present our selves a Sacrifice unto Him, that once made Himself a Sacrifice for us!

[Page 13] II. The Mercy of God unto us, is that which very Strongly Obliges us to this Obedience.

Very Various are the Courses taken by the God of Heaven, to Produce and Procure from [...]s, that Service which we are to Honour our Lord JESUS CHRIST withal. 'Tis the Voice both of His Ordinances and of His Providences, [...] men Serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and in [...]ll Things Obey the Will of that Glorious Lord. But [...]he Mercies of God have this in a most particular manner, for the Language & the Errand of them.

Gratitude, as one says, Like the Blood in the Body, runs through the whole Practice of Christianity. The whole of that Obedience which we render into God, is to be a continued Expression of Gratitude unto Him. Thus the Schoolmen make [...]ngratitude, a General Circumstance of sin; inas­much as though it be not in the Definition of sin, yet it is alwayes in the Perpretration of it.

It has been sometimes a Question very un­safely handled in the Books of some English Writers, What place in the Christian Religion is to [...]e assigned unto Evangelical Obedience? Now we are not so grossly Ignorant of the Gospel, as [...]o assert, That our Hearty and Honest Endeavour [...]f Obeying the whole Will of God, is the condition upon which the Benefits purchased by Christ, belong into us. God forbid, that we should Swallow down all the Poison Comprehended in that As­sertion! We say, The only Condition on our Art, Entitling us to the Benefits Purchased by [Page 14] our Lord-Redeemer, is our Faith in Him, or the Reliance of our Souls upon the Free-Grace of God, in Him alone, for the Communication of those Benefits. And, Aliter qui vadit, Cadit! But then, the Place which we assign unto Evangeli­cal Obedience, is, that of Gratitude unto God, for the Benefits of Redemption; and we think, that the Principle which disposes us to Believe on the Lord JESUS CHRIST, and on His Righ­teousness, will also dispose us to an Hearty and Honest Endeavour of Obeying the whole will of God, in Gratitude unto Him, for what Provision He ha's made for our Happiness in our Lord JE­SUS CHRIST. The Connexion between Justifying Faith and Obedience, Holy, Sincere Thankful Obedience, is Infallible, and Insepara­ble; though we say likewise, that no man can do any Good Works of Obedience, until he be Justified. Nor does this place of Grati­tude for our Happiness, which we assign to Obe­dience, hinder us, from Considering it, as the Way to our Happiness, Yea, as a Part of our Happiness. There is no true Believer, who [...] not of this Perswasion, I am an Happy man, i [...] I may but Serve my Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Every Mercy of God unto us, call [...] for this Return. Almighty God therein does as he speaks, in Hos. 11. 3. I drew them with the Cords of a man, with Bands of Love; I Lai [...] meat unto them. When He dispenses Kind­nesses unto men. He propounds this as a Rea­sonable [Page 15] Expectation thereupon, These Kindnes­s are to be attractive of their Obedience; Inferi­or Creatures are Serviceable unto their Keepers, [...] Feeders, those that Lay meat unto them: and [...] doing thus for the Children of men, I do with [...] and Bands oblige them to Serve me for ever. [...]et us maintain this Truth, with a treble demonstration.

First; We have the Lessons of Scripture, to [...]ow, That the Mercy of God, obliges our O­bedience to Him. The Scripture seems to put his Motto on every Mercy that we Receive, A [...]rong Obligation to Serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, When the Church of Israel received the Mercy of a mighty Deliverance, from woful Circumstances, what Use did their most Merciful Deliverer make of all? It was, A Demand of Obedience to all His Commandments. This is [...]he Preface to both Tables of the Law, I am the Lord your God, that have brought you out of your Distresses, and now surely you can deny me no Obedience. And when Ten Thousand further Mercies had been shown to the People of God, this was the Inference deduced from them; Let these be acknowledged, with an Obedience an­swerable thereunto: Thus you have it, in Deut. 10. 12. Now, (after all) What does the Lord thy God require if thee, but to Fear Him, to Love Him, to Serve Him, and to Obey Him? This was what Samuel once Preached unto a Great Congregation; in 1 Sam. 12. 20. Only Fear [Page 16] the Lord, and Serve Him, for consider how great Things He hath done for you. This was what Paul has written to us all, in Rom. 2. 4. The Goodness of God, O man, Leads thee to Report [...] And Symphonizing with all this, what says th [...] Psalmist, in Psal. 130. 4. There is Forgiveness with thee, O Lord, that thou ma [...]t be feared? E­ven so, we shall conclude but Scripturally, if [...] say, We have all Mercies from thee, O Lord, tha [...] thou mayst be Obeyed. Unto this purpose, it ha [...] been Remark'd, that when God had carried Israel over Jordan, there were Stones Erected for His Praise: But what was inscribed on the Stones? It was not the History of what have been done by God; but it was a Copy of [...] Law. An Intimation, that our Keeping of the Law, is to be no small Ingredient in our Pra [...] ­sing of Him, that gave the Law; our Keeping of the Law is the Return that we are to make unto Him that has carried us well through our Jordans.

Secondly; We have the Complaints of Hea­ven, to show, That the Mercy of God oblige our Obedience to Him. Heaven takes it un­kindly, if we don't see an Obligation to Serve the Lord Jesus Christ, in every Mercy. I [...] was the Expostulation of a provoked God, in Isa. 1. 2. Hear, O Heavens, and give Ear, [...] Earth: Summoned they all are, to make Ma [...] Ashamed: Why, What's the matter? Alas The Lord hath spoken, I have nourished & brought [Page 17] [...] Children, and they have Rebelled against me. How bitterly 'tis Complained of, That Mercy should be bestowed upon us, and we not Return Obedience to the God of our Mercy! It is menti­oned as a Provoking Evil, in Hezekiah, who was otherwise a Godly man: in 2 [...]hron. 32. 25. He rendred not again, according to the Benefit done [...]to him, therefore was wrath upon him. And it [...] mentioned as a Provoking Evil, in Israel, on [...] Day of Humiliation, in Neh. 9. 35. They have [...] Served thee, O Lord, in thy Great Goodness, which thou gavest them. So we see, That when Benefit shall be done un [...]o [...] us, by the [...] Goodness of God, and we don't render this gain, that we shall Serve Him who gives all, [...]he Wrath of God, is Enkindled upon such a Provocation.

Thirdly; The utmost Obedience were due to God, though He should never confer any Mer­cy at all upon us. Truly, such is the Sovereign­ty, such is the Authority, of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, that if HE say, Let such a Service be [...]one for me! No man may dispute it: And, such are His Essential Perfections, that He will remain Worthy of all Service from us, though we were every one of us, Damned, among the Outcasts, in the lowest Hell forever: Tis from the Unreasonableness of Mankind, that there is any cause given for that Complaint, Vix diligitur Jesus Propter Jesum: Scarce is JESUS Loved and Served, for the pure sake of JESUS. Let [Page 18] the most miserable man, under the whole Cop [...] of Heaven, keep Serving of the Lord JESUS CHRIST unto Eternal Ages; Yet he must own, as in Luk. 17. 10. I have done but that which was my Duty to do. If God should strip us im­mediately of all our Desireable Things, and cast us into the dismal shadows of the Second Death forever, we ought still to say, The Holy God still deserves all the Obedience that I can possibly yield unto Him. The Greatness of our Lord JESUS CHRIST renders Him worthy of all our Service, though we should have no [...] particular motive of His Goodness unto us, to invite us thereunto. 'Tis said in Psal. 145. [...] Great is the Lord, & Greatly to be Praised. So [...] say, Great is the Lord, and Greatly to be Served. It was a sweet speech that fell from the Pen of the Renowned Chancellour of Paris, I don't know what the Lord intends to do with me forever but this I know, (Am [...]ri Dignus est et Coli) He is worthy that I should Love Him & Serve Him and I will do so. Though we were horribly bruised between the formidable Milstones of the Anger of God in the place of Dragons for­ever, yet it would become us ever to put this Accent on our Endless Lamentations, Yet This God is to be Obeyed! But what an Additional Obligation to Obedience, is by His Mercy then laid upon us? Let us now make some

APPLICATION.

I. There are Two Things, which, methinks, [Page 19] now have a very Scandalous Face upon them. Two Faults will fall under a Sharp Reproof. [...] am now to tell you,

First, It is an Ill Thing, to be nothing the better for all the Mercies of God. Alas, How many of us will be found Guilty of this monstrous Disingenuity! Man, of whose Tender Mercy is it, that thou art not Consumed! whose Mercy ha's been Feeding, and Cloathing, and Sup­plying, and Preserving, and Advancing of thee, these many years? But art thou not as Dis­obedient unto the God of all this Mercy, as thou vast many years ago? Oh, Examine thy [...]elf; Have I done any more Service to the Lord Jesus Christ, for all that Goodness & Mercy, with which He is daily following of me? Now [...] we astonished at our own Unfruitfulness! It was a most Unrighteous Thing in Jeshurun, to [...]ive the Lord any Occasion to say, as in Deut. 12.15. Thou hast waxed Fat, and Kicked, & for­ [...]ook the God that made thee. It was a most Un­ [...]ovely Thing in David, that the Lord should have have any Occasion to say, as in 2 Sam. 12. 9. I have done much for Thee; Wherefore hast thou despised the Commandment of the Lord? Let us with Trembling Souls, think, whether we shall not bring a Curse on our selves, by such [...] Barrenness?

But, Secondly, 'Tis a Worse Thing then, to be the Worse for the Mercies of God. Some there are, who make the Mercies of God, the [Page 20] Occasions, yea, the Instruments, of their Sin a­gainst Him. There are Spiders, whom the Grace of God, Emboldens in Impiety and Impe­nitency: they Cavil after this rate, God Al­mighty is ready to Pardon, and why may not I allow my self in some Transgressions of His Law? The Apostle Jude hath flashed the hottest Brimstone of Hell, in the faces of those Re­probates; and indeed, Whatever Sins a Rege­nerate man may fall into, it will not be Impro­per at least for the sinner himself to count it questionable, Whether any Regenerate man can Deliberately thus, Turn the Grace of God into Wantonness. And what shall be said of them, who take Encouragement from their Prosperity, to Wallow Securely in those filthy puddles of Death, which they would otherwise be afraid of plunging themselves into? Say, Would you not be more Prayerful, and more Careful, in all your ways, and more Studious to Serve the Lord JESUS CHRIST, if you were un­der those Deadly Bands, which ly upon such, or such of your Neighbours? Conscience, Do thy Office! Is there no Person among us, who ha's had, not only a Life, but a New Life, and a Life Sweetned with many Conveniencies, given to him? And yet, how does he now carry himself? Does not he Live more Car­nally, more Worldlily, more Vainly, than he did before? Is he not like the Jewes, who having made their Offerings in the Temple said, [Page 21] [...]e are now acquitted to do all Abominations, and [...]un upon a New Score of Sinning? Yea, How common a Thing is it, for Persons to make [...]he Mercies of God, the meer Fuel of their Lusts? It was the Crime of them, in Hos. 2. 8. The Corn and Wine which I gave them, did they prepare for Baal. Thus it may be said of many, They would be less Wicked, if it were not for the Mercies which God gives unto them. Now, what an horrid thing is this? It David should have taken the Sword and the Bow that Jona­ [...]han gave him, and presently have Stab'd or [...]not the Donour with it, would it not have been a most Villanous Act? But be it known to you, That you are Fighting against God, with Weapons of His own; yea, you are fighting or the Devil with them. Oh! Think of this, and Blush at the Horrible Thing.

II. But there is an Exhortation to be now pressed upon us; That the Mercy of God may now Cause us to do, what it Calls us to do. I Beseech you, Brethren, by the Mercies of God, that you be thence prevailed withal, to become the Devoted Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, in all New Obedience, which is to Present your selves a Sacrifice unto Him. The Affricans o [...] old, would foolishly Worship the Creatures which did them any Benefit, as our Americans at this Day do the Fire, because of the Singular Bene­fit which they have therefrom. Yea, the Peo­ple [Page 22] of Troas worshipped the very Mice, because they had received a notable Benefit by an Ar­my of Mice, gnawing asunder the Bow Strings of their Enemies. But how unnatural then, will it be for us, to forget the Benefits done to us by our Lord JESUS CHRIST, or to decline th [...] Service of Him that has done the Benefits: Indeed we cannot requite the Mercy of God unto us, by doing of any thing that shall be for His Advantage. Tho' the parts of Thank­fulness are well-distributed by Aquinas, into Recognition, and Valuation, and Retribution, of the Divine Benefits; Yet, for this last point o [...] Thankfulness, if the Son of Sirach might justly say, How canst thou Recompense thy Parents, the things they have done for thee? Much more may we say, 'Tis impossible for us to Recompense our Saviour, the things He hath done for us: And the Light of Nature it self dictates, as Bellarmine himself allows, That no man can, Paria reddere Deo; or, make Equal Returns unto the Lord We must say to our God, as in Psal. 16. 2. My Goodness extendeth not unto thee. Nevertheless there are some Things, which the Lord graci­ously calls Retributions; and those are the Fruits of Obedience, which the Showers of Mercy fal­ling upon us, from Heaven do bespeak our yielding of. The Mercie of God is the Tillage which He Employes upon us; O Earth, Earth, Earth, Hear the Word of the Lord! Now the Retri­ [...]ions which we are to make unto Him, are those [Page 23] which the Apostle mentions, in Phil. 1. 11. The Fruits of Righteousness, which are unto the Glory and Praise of God. Wherefore, I beseech you, Brethren, to Consider such Things as these.

Consider, First, There are many, there are mighty, there are most Undeserved Mercies, which we have Received from the Open Hand of our God. There is no Comfortable Thing at any Time Enjoy'd by us, but what comes unto us, from the Hand of God in the Lord JESUS CHRIST. Verily, we must call Him, as in Psal. 59. 17. The God of our Mercy. But [...]oh [...] how much of His Mercy, are we on every side surrounded withal! There are General Mercies, wherein we all have our share. As we are Englishmen, we are Born to those Rights, which are preferrible to the Best Estates that can be acquired among any other Nations upon Earth. But as we are New-Englanders, we have our further Priviledges, which no People under the Sun, out of New England have. Here are things, whereof we may say, as the Jewish Rabbi said of Liberty, If the Heavens were Parchment, and the Seas were Ink, they would not suffice to Write the Praises due to God, on the account thereof. But besides, and above, and beyond, these Liberties, we have the Liberties of the Gospel too, (the Mercies in the Text now before us most peculi­arly referr'd unto!) in some Circumstances, which may cause us to sing, as in Psal. 147. 20. God hath not dealt so with any Nation. But then, [Page 24] there are Personal Mercies also, wherein all of us may Rejoice. We have our Common Mercies: the Mercies which attended our Infancy, and Education: the Mercies of the Provision hitherto made for all our Necessities: the Mercies of our Preservations from Dangers whereto we have often been Exposed: the Mercies of the Rela­tions, which God [...] graciously given to us; Mer­cies whereof we may say, as in Lam. 3. 32. The Lords Mercies are New to us every morning. We have our Special Mercies too. It may be, Tem­poral Mercies are heaped upon us, with such Loads, as to distinguish us from, to dignifie us above, others round about us: Oh! compare our case, with the case of others, known to us, of whom we do not know, but that we have Sinned much more than they; and say, as in Psal. 16. 6. I have a Goodly Heritage. Yea, but we have our Spiritual Mercies, to be Celebrated with the peculiar Hallelujahs of our Spirits. Our Everlasting Salvation is cont [...]ived in our Lord JESUS CHRIST: and in pursuance of that Salvation, our Lord has complied with all the Humbling Things, which the Justice of God required of our Surety: and that Great Salvati­on is Revealed and Offered unto us, and the Spirit of the Lord JESUS CHRIST hath been savingly Operating upon us, to make us Accept of that Salvation, and to Apply that Salvation unto us for-ever. Oh! say with a Spirit Rejoy­cing in God our Saviour, as in Luc. 1. 78. Thro' [Page 25] the Tender mercy of our God, the Day Spring from [...] High hath visited us. Now, have we Deserv­ [...] [...] these Mercies? No, Not one of them. What [...] we, but the Dogs, that never merited a [...]rumb of all the Bounty that is fallen to us? We are Undeserving, and Ill-deserving, and Hell­ [...]eserving Wretches; and we must own, as in [...]en. 32. 10. Lord, I am not worthy of the Least, [...] all thy Mercies, which thou hast shewed unto thy [...]ervant!

[...] Consider, Secondly: All the Return that we [...] make unto God for His Mercies, is our [...], in the Service of our Lord JESUS CHRIST. If we would ask, and Oh! Let us [...], that convenient Question, What are the [...]anks that our God would have of us, for all His Mercies? The Reply must be, Become the Ser­vants of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Obey Him [...]ith Universal Holiness. Or, we may take an answer from Tit. 2. 10. The Grace of God, that [...]ingeth Salvation, teacheth us, to Deny all Ungod­ [...]ness, and Worldly Lusts, and Live Soberly, and righteously, and Godl [...]ly. It is worth nothing, [...]ow those Two Bad Qualities, are joyned, in Tim. 3. 2. Unthankful, Unholy. If men be not [...]oly, they are not Thankful. Do we Dream, that our All sufficient God will expect from us, Thousands of Rams, and Ten Thousands of Rivers [...]f Oyl, by way of Thankfulness for His Mercies? [...], He only says, Be you my Servants; Live unto me, while you Live upon me, Obey me by Do­ing [Page 26] of Justice, and Loving of Mercy, and Walking Humbly before me, and I have enough. It was most ingenuously spoken, by the Dying Mar­tyr, Alas, I have only two Brass Farthings for my Lord Jesus Christ, a sorry Body, and a sinful Soul: if He, to whom I am infinitely Endebted, will accept of these, He shall have them with all my Heart. Even so ought we to say; We are [...] Insolvent, a Desperate, sort of Debtors unto God; [...] never can pay Him any thing proportionable to what we have Received from Him; but if the unwearie [...] Service of my Obedience may be acceptable to Him. [...] shall be glad; He shall have That, while I have [...] Being.

Consider, Thirdly: If we do not Return the Service of Obedience unto the Lord JESUS CHRIST for His Mercies, we are chargeable with an odious Ingratitude; and Ingratitude [...] indeed the most odious thing Imaginable. [...] say, Ingratum dixeris; et omnia dixeris: As Good call a man, a Viper, or the Detestablest Thin [...] you can imagine, as to say, He is Unthankful I remember, the Prophecy concerning the R [...] ­turn of the Israelitish Nation to a good [...] in the Latter Dayes, Expresses it so, in Hos. 3. [...] They shall Fear the Lord, and His Goodness; [...] is, as a Converted Jew teaches me to Expo [...] it, the Messiah, the Good Thing promised in Eighty Fifth Psalm. Syrs, Our Lord JESUS CHRIST, is a Lord so Good, that He is G [...] ­ness it self; and how Ungrateful are we, if [...] [Page 27] do not Serve such a Lord! A Slave, that shall have his Meat, his Drink, his Cloathing and Lodging from a Good Master, is to be Beaten with many Stripes, if he be not like the Servant, of whom the Centurion his Master, said, I say [...]o him, Do this, and he doth it. It was a Custom even among the Heathen, as our Lord Himself observes, that such as were their Benefactors, (their Baal Hanans, and their Hannibals, their Gracious Lords) they would make them their Governours, and Swear Allegiance unto them. And shall we then refuse to Serve our Lord in Heaven, the Lord of Heaven, who supplies all our wants, and is our Benefactor every moment? The Prophet Elisha, in 2 King. 4. 1 [...]. thought [...]t would have been a breach of Good Manners, if he had not asked a Courteous Hostess, Behold, thou hast been careful of us; What shall be done for thee? Surely then, we should say with ourselves, What shall be done, what Service is there to be done for the Lord JESUS CHRIST, who has been al­ways careful of me? What a sordid man, was that Egyptian Butler, who forgat the Joseph, that had been so useful unto him? And is it not as [...] a thing for us to Forget the God of our [...]? It was a base Temper that Nabal show'd, when David must say of him, in 1 Sam. 25. 11. in vain have I kept all that this Fellow hath. And shall our Lord say of us. In vain have I thrown away all my Mercies upon such [...] Sinner: He is a meer Grave to my Mercies: He'l [Page 28] do no Service for me, Let me do never so much for Him. Syrs, the Lord will by dreadful Dispen­sations, give us to understand, that He does no­thing in vain. Oh! Let not that check belong unto us, in Deut. 32. 6. Do ye thus Requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise!

Consider, Fourthly; All the Service wherein we Obey the Lord JESUS CHRIST, for the Requital of His Mercies, will be as profitable to our selves, as acceptable to the Lord. Certainly, we shall not Lose by it! No, It will issue in the Continuation, and the Augmentation of our Mer­cies. As among men, 'tis a Delight unto us, to Do good unto the Thankful; So will the Bles­sed God say, My Mercies are well bestow'd upon such a man; he shall have them still, he shall have more of them, he shall have as much as Heart can wish. Behold, how we may prevent the Loss of our Precious and Pleasant Things. Let us do Service for the Lord JESUS CHRIST, with what we have: So our Talents will not be ta­ken from us. Let us be Tenants, that shall ho­nestly pay the little Rents required of us, and we shall not be Turned out of all. And what a Sign shall we therein have of our Sincerity before the Lord? An Hypocrite will sometimes abstain from Evil, for fear of Rods and Blowe [...] Oh! but when a man is marvellously quickned unto the Service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST by the Smiles of the Lord upon him, there is a most hopeful mark of Uprightness upon the Sou [...] of such a man.

[Page 29] Well, These Things being thus Considered, [...]ere are some Things, which I desire we may [...]ow find our selves disposed unto.

First, Let us very particularly Ponder the Mercies of God unto us, in the Lord JESUS CHRIST. Retire, & Look back, & Look round, [...]on the Multifarious Loving kindness of our [...]od unto us. As Abashuerus in Est. 6. 1. called for [...] Records, wherein he found Great Things [...]at had been done for him; So let Us ca [...]t [...] Eye into the Records, which we Do, or Should [...]ep, of the Great Things that God hath done [...] us. Oh! Let us make a Catalogue, as far [...] we can, of our Mercies: Nor indeed can [...]e easily leave, a better Legacy to our Families, [...]an such a Catalogue of our Ebenezers, of our [...]xperiences.

Secondly, Let us very particularly Purpose the [...]ervice of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, for, [...] with, His Mercies Retire, and put that [...]terrogatory unto our selves, in Psal. 116. 12. What shall I Render to the Lord for all His Benefits? and pursuant hereunto, Let us choose to be [...] Servants of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, [...] all Holy Conversation. Imitate that Prince [...]ntacuzanus, who giving up himself unto [...] Lord JESUS CHRIST, would afterwards [...] his Name Changed into Christodulus, or, Servant of Christ. I tell you, Great Emperors [...]ere not the Smaller for Subscribing themselves, [...]he Vassals, of this Lord. Yea, Let us often [Page 30] have our Ex [...]lici [...] Contrivances, how to Glorify and Magni [...]y God our Saviour. 'Tis a Noble Question, that we should sometimes put [...] our selves, What special Service may I do for my Lord Jesus Christ, as I Stand in such [...] Relation, or such a Capacity? And in Answer to this Question, some singular ways to [...] Good, will doubtless occur unto us.

Finally, Let us Resign up our selves unto the Spirit of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, that by His Influences, we may Present our selves a Living Sacrifice, Holy, and Acceptable unto Go [...]. We can do nothing of our selves, in this Rea­sonable Service: but if once the Spirit of our Lord JESUS CHRIST shall take Possession [...] us, we shall then Serve Him faithfully, Serve Him [...]ervently, Serve Him constantly; and [...] for Him, and not for another. In allusion to the old usage of Masters Br [...]nding their Servants, [...] was usual for the ancient Idolaters, to Bran [...] themselves for the perpetual Service of the [...] whereto they were devoted, with such Mark [...] as are forbidden in Leviticus. They some times Branded themselves, with the Mark [...] their Idol, as an Hel [...]et was the Mark of [...] and the Ivy was the Mark of Bacchus. The sometimes Branded themselves with the [...] of their Idol; as, [...]upiter, or the like, at larg [...] And they sometimes Branded themselves with the Number of his Name; that is, with other Letters which together would amount unto the [Page 31] same Number with the known Letters of his [...]ome, agreed Privately among the fra [...]ernity, [...]o signify So. I will not Report what some Zealous Persons among the People of God, in the Primitive Times, did in Opposition here­unto. But this I say; Lying at the Foot of [...]overaign Grace, Let us, give up our selves [...]o the Free Spirit of the Lord JESUS CHRIST; and that Spirit will Effectually Mark us, and Hold us, to Service of that Lord Eternally. Come then, Let us Lay our selves in the Dust, [...] the Feet of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, and say before Him; Lord, I would gladly be [...]hine, and there is infinite Reason that I should be [...] forever. Oh! how wonderful will be my Hap­piness, and If thou wilt accept me to Serve thy Glorious Interests! Behold, I here Devote my self, and all that I am, and all that I have, unto thy Glory? But I am able to do nothing: Where­fore, Oh! give me that Good Spirit of thine, which thou hast Promised unto them that ask it. Let that Spirit Seize me, fill me, act me, and make me an instrument of thy Glory for ever.

Whatever ha's been done by the Mercies of God, for the man who does thus, I say, Believest Thou? Thou shalt see yet greater Things than Ever.

But it is Time to break off. We will now make an Echo to the Calls of Heaven which we have thus had,

I Beseech you, by the Mercies of God, that ye [...]esent [...] your Bodies, a Living Sacrifice, Holy, Acceptable [...] to God, your Reasonable Service

[Page 32]

By Digesting it into an Hymn, which may help carry on the Thanksgiving wherein we are Engage [...]

THe Mercies of Almighty God
To miserable Me,
Purchas'd by His most precious Blood,
Are, Oh! how Rich and Free!
Mercies, which Answer and Remove
All my just Miseries:
Mercies, Well-worth my Praise and Love,
And Thankful Sacrifice.
Behold, O Gracious Lord, I do
Present my self to Thee:
No Beasts, but my Own Body to
My God, shall off'red be.
A Body, by the Death of Thine
For Thee full dearly Bought,
To Thee, with Every Thing of mine,
Is now Sincerely brought.
My Living Body Off'red here
So does continue Still;
Oh! may it Live, Thy Name to Fear,
And still to Do Thy Will.
May, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD
On all I do in It,
According to Thy Holy Word,
Be now most Plainly Writ.
May I, the Pleasing of Thee, make
My daily care therein,
And never any Pleasure take
Defi [...]'d with Loathsome Sin
Lord, Let me thus my Reason use
In Off'ring Thee Thy Own:
'Tis all Right Reason I should choose
To be Thine, Thine alone.
FINIS.

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