Twelve Single SERMONS On Various Subjects, Tending to Promote Godliness, AND Quicken Persons to walk in the WAY OF SALVATION. Preached,

By Benjamin Wadsworth, A.M. Pastor of a Church of Christ in Boston, N.E.

1 Cor. 9.22.

— That I might by all Means Save some.

2 Pet. 1.10, 12.

— Give diligence to make your Calling & Election sure. —Where­fore I will not be negligent, to put you al­ways in remembrance of these things.

1 Tim. 4.8.

— Godliness is profitable un­to all things, having the Promise of the Life that now is, & of that which is to come.

BOSTON: Printed by B. Green, for N. Buttolph, B. Eliot, S. Gerrish, and D. Henchman, Sold at their Shops. 1717.



I Have cause to belie [...], [...] I have heard from several, that the Preaching of the following Sermons has not been altogether in vain, but rather profitable to some. And I hope (by God's blessing) the Reading of 'em may be useful to those, who will take the pains to do it. Our Time of Life is so short & uncertain, our Hearts so trifling & deceitful, our Snares and Temptations so many & dangerous; that we had need diligently to Improve all proper Means, to help us forward in the way of Salvation. I hope the fol­lowing Sermons may be useful to this end, to those who will diligently Read them. I shall not here give any particu­lar account, of these several Sermons or Subjects; the Texts & Titles are here subjoyned. It was with a desire & design, to promote the Glory of God & good of Souls; that I have trans­crib'd them for the Press, & that they may be successful in attaining what's thus aim'd at, is & shall be the Prayer of the unworthy Author,

B. Wads.
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  • SERMON, I. THE Brazen Serpent, a Type of Christ. From Numb. 21.8. ‘And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a firy Serpent and set it upon a Pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live.’
  • SERMON, II. The dangerous Sin of Murmu­ring, describ'd and condemned. 1 Cor. 10.10. ‘Neither Murmur ye, as some of them also Murmured; and were destroyed of the de­stoyer.’
  • [Page ii]SERMON, III. The fear of God, fortifying against Sin and ill Examples. Neh. 5.15. ‘— But so did not I, because of the fear of God.’
  • SERMON, IV. The Day of Life to be improv'd, before the Night of Death comes. Joh. 9.4. ‘I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is Day; the Night cometh when no man can work.’
  • SERMON, V. Wholesome Counsels & Warnings, occasion'd by the Sin of Young Men. 1 Sam. 2.17. ‘Wherefore the Sin of the Young Men, was very great before the Lord.’
  • SERMON. VI. GOD, the Free & Soveraign Au­thor of all benefits. [Page iii]
    Ezek. 36.32.
    ‘Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you.’
  • SERMON, VII. Utmost diligence needful, to ob­tain Salvation. Phil. 2.12. ‘— Work out your Salvation with fear & trembling.’
  • SERMON, VIII. The use Christians should make, of remembring their past Sins. Deut. 9.7. ‘Remember and for­get not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness.’
  • SERMON, IX. GOD's Bow bent & Sword drawn, against the wicked. Psal. 7.12. ‘If he turn not, he will whet his Sword: he hath bent his Bow and made it ready.’
  • [Page iv]SERMON,X. Christ coming in Glory, to reward every One according to his works. Mat. 16.27. ‘For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Fa­ther, with His Angels; and then he shall reward every Man according to his works.’
  • SERMON, XI. Disobedience to the Gospel, is a despising of GOD. 1 Thes. 4.8. ‘He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not Man but God.’
  • SERMON, XII. Trusting in GOD, yields perfect Peace. Isai. 26.3. ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect Peace, whose Mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.’
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Sermon, I. The Brazen Serpent, A Type of CHRIST.

Numbers XXI. 8.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a firy Serpent and set it upon a Pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when be looketh upon it shall live.

WE find in the 4th v. of our Context, that Israel Journey­ed from Mount Hor, by the way of the Red-Sea, to compass the Land of Edom; and the Soul of the People was much discourag'd because of the way. They were fatigu'd and tir'd [Page 2] with this tedious Journey, and we find, v. 5. They spake against God, and against Moses. Often before this, when they met with dif­ficulties, they murmured against God, and against his faithful Servants, Moses & Aaron; and this vile practice they renew and re­peat upon this new difficulty they met with. And for this their Sin, God plagues them. v. 6. And the Lord sent firy Serpents among the People; and they bit the People, and much Peo­ple of Israel dyed. It's likely these Serpents were called firy, either because their colour somewhat resembled that of fire; or rather, because those bitten with them were tor­mented with a Scortching burning heat in their Bodies, being greatly Inflam'd, scortch'd with thirst which nothing could quench. These Sinners were serv'd in their kind, were fill'd with their own ways; their Tongues had been Influenc'd by the old Serpent the De­vil, they were set on fire of Hell in speak­ing against God and Moses, and now firy Serpents are sent to punish them. Under this Plague, the People confess their Sin, desire Moses to Pray to God for them, which he did, v. 7. We don't find, that God presently destroy'd or remov'd these Serpents; but our Text tells us, God order'd a remedy for those bitten and wounded with the Serpents. He orders Moses to make a brazen Serpent, and set it on a Pole, that the bitten Israelites looking to it might be heal'd and live. Now this brazen Serpent, which was thus set up on a Pole to heal the wounded Israelites; was a Type of Jesus [Page 3] Christ, who was lifted up and dyed on the Cross, to save Sinners. Our Saviour Him­self so expounds and applies it. Joh. 3.14, 15. And as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting Life. As every Isra­elite stung with the firy Serpents, liv'd, if he did but look on the brazen Serpent; so, every Sinner that believes in Jesus Christ, shall live for ever. The Hebrew word, NES, which in our Text is rendred a Pole; is translated an Engsign, and plainly refers to Christ. Isai. 11.10. And in that day, there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an Ensign of the People; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious. The Lord Jesus Christ is that Ensign of the Peo­ple, to which many of the Gentiles seek and are Saved.

From the words we may observe this

DOCTRINE. As those Israelites bitten with the firy Serpents, who look'd to the brazen Serpent, were sav'd Alive; so, those Sinners who believe in Christ shall be sav'd for ever.

This Doctrine is to be handled, by show­ing in sundry particulars some Parallel or Similitude, between the Malady and Reme­dy of those Israelites mention'd in our Text; and the Malady which Persons have by Sin, and their Remedy thro' Christ.

[Page 4]1. Those bitten by the firy Serpents, were grie­vously wounded. Doubtless those bitings, oc­casion'd extream pain and anguish: many dy'd of their wounds, and we don't find that any recover'd of them (and tis likely none did) but those who look'd to the brazen Serpent. So, all Men are grievously woun­ded by Sin, they are stung by the old Ser­pent, the Devil. The Devil made use of a Serpent, to draw our first Parents into Sin. Gen. 3.1. The Serpent beguiled Eve thro' his subtlety, 2 Cor. 11.3. This Dragon, this old Serpent was the Devil and Satan, which de­ceiveth the whole World, Rev. 12 9. The old Serpent the Devil, drew our First Parents into Sin, and so all their Posterity with them. For by one man sin entred into the World, and death by sin; and so death hath passed upon all men for that all have sinned — by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, Rom. 5.12, 19 All have Sinned and come short of the Glory of God. All meer Men since the fall of Adam, are shapen in Iniquity and con­ceiv'd in Sin; and so they are Children of wrath by nature. Indeed they are all Sin­ners, and Sin is a grievous terrible wound. Sin is a Mortal wound, the wages of it is Death, Rom 6.23 Every Sin in its own na­ture tends to eternal Death and Misery; it deserves such Death. Cursed is every one that continues not in all things written in the book of the Law to do them, Gal. 3.10 Yea, Sin is a wound very grievous, distressing, tormenting to the awakened Consciences of those, who are not at present sensible of their Interest in [Page 5] the healing blood of Christ. Distress of Soul for Sin, is sometimes compar'd to broken bones, Psal. 51.8. To a being weary and heavy laden, Mat. 11.28. To an Insupportable Burthen, Psal. 38.4. Mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as an heavy Burthen, they are too heavy for me. Sense of Sin, made David's bones wax old, he roared all the day long — his moisture was turned into the drought of Summer, Psal. 32 3, 4. Our Tongues can't express the Grief and Horror, the Anguish, Pain, amazing Trouble and Disquietment, which Persons often feel in their own Souls by reason of their Sins. All the Wounds which a Man's Body can receive, are not so hurtful to him, as the Wounds which Sin gives to his Soul. Sin is such a mortal Stab, such a poysonous Wound, as will certainly Kill and Damn a Person for ever, unless the healing Blood of Christ be applyed to it. Surely, Sin is a most grievous Wound. If any ask, Why don't Men com­plain more of this wound? If all are thus wounded, why don't they express their trou­ble, danger, concern more frequently than they do? I answer, they are not duely sensi­ble of their wounds. Many that are Mortal­ly wounded by Sin, are yet stupid; they are in a sort of Spiritual Lethargy. Persons are never reckon [...]d more dangerous in bodily distempers, than when they're most stupid, senseless, and make no complaint at all: those are most dangerous that are in such a condition. So, those that are least sensible of their danger by Sin, least concern'd about it; are indeed in most danger by it. Their Souls seem stupid and [Page 6] benum'd, they seem hastening to hell, without thinking or considering where they are going. They are not sensible of their wounds, that's the reason they don't complain. They're so much taken up about their bodies, that they utterly neglect their Souls. Sin is a wound, and a dreadful dangerous one too; this is the first thing.

2. These bitten Israelites could not be heal'd or cur'd, by any art or skill of their own. Writers say, that when persons were bitten by these poysonous Serpents, Physicians were wont to give them over as uncurable, irrecoverable: No art or skill of men could save them. If they appli'd never so many Medicines of their own contriving, yet they could not be cured thereby. So, Men can't by any skill, art or power of their own, save themselves from that eternal death which their Sins have justly deserved. Fallen men, Sinners, are without strength, Rom. 5.6. Their destruction is of themselves, they are the guilty Authors of it; but they have no strength to deliver themselves from the power, guilt or punish­ment of Sin.

1. Not from the power of Sin. Men are na­turally, Dead in trespasses and in sins, Eph. 2.1. And they can't create new Life in their own Souls: no man can come to the Son, except the Father draws him. True believers are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the fresh, nor of the will of man, but of God, Joh. 1.13. 'Tis God of his own will that does beget them; that creates them in Christ Jesus, according to the exceeding greatness of his power, the [Page 7] working of his Mighty Power, Eph. 1.19, Faith is Gods Gift, Eph. 208. So is Repentance too, Acts 5.31. Alas, without Christ Sinners can do nothing: 'tis God that works in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure. So that Men can't save or deliver themselves from the filth, the power, the prevailing efficacy of Sin.

2. Nor from the guilt or punishment of Sin. They cannot by all their doings or sufferings, satisfie Gods justice, and purchase their own deliverance. When they have done their best, they are unprofitable Servants. If they should offer thousands of Rams, or ten thousands of Rivers of oyl; give their first-born for their transgression, and the fruit of their bodies for the sin of their Souls, yet it would not be a sufficient Sacrifice. They are not redeemed with corruptable things, such as silver and gold, 1 Pet. 1.18. They can by no means redeem their Brother (nor themselves neither) nor give to God a ransome for him, Psal. 49.7. The re­demption of the Soul, is too precious to be wrought by them. They can't buy off eter­nal plagues and punishments. There is Sal­vation in none but Christ; Neither is there any other name given under heaven among men, where­by they can be saved, Act. 4.12. As these bit­ten Israelites, could not heal nor cure them­selves; so neither can Sinners deliver them­selves from the power, guilt or punishment of Sin, by any art, skill or power of their own. If they have no help but of their own procuring, they must necessarily perish for ever.

[Page 8]3. It was God that appointed this brazen Ser­pent, for the healing of the people. 'Twas not any device or contrivance of their own, 'twas not man's Wisdom that propos'd this method. So, 'twas God that appointed Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of Sinners. The Way of sa­ving Sinners thro' Christ, was not the result of the Wisdom or Contrivance neither of Men nor Angels; 'twas originally and wholly from God. God did elect and chuse Christ, to the Office and Work of a Redeemer. Hence Christ is called, God's Servant, and His Elect, Isai. 42.1. 'Tis said of Christ, He was faith­ful to Him that appointed Him, Heb. 3.2. God chose, call'd, appointed Him to His Mediato­rial Work and Service. Tho' Mans Misery is of his own procuring, yet his Salvation is of God's contriving and procuring.

4. 'Twas of God's meer undeserved Mercy and Grace, that He provided a Remedy for the bitten Israelites. They had provoked God, spoken against Him, and against His faithful Servant Moses; God was justly angry with them. He had sent Serpents to bite and wound them, many dyed of their Wounds; and if all had dyed that were bitten, 'twas no more than what they had justly deserved. Now for such unworthy, provoking Sinners as these, God provided a Remedy; surely 'twas nothing but meer, sovereign, undeserved Mercy and Grace that could move him thus to do. So, 'twas meer, sovereign, undeserved Mercy and Grace and nothing else, that mov'd God to provide a Saviour for poor, miserable, self-undoing Sinners. God did not give his Son to save [Page 9] Sinners on the account of any Merit, Worthi­ness, or good Deserving in them, for they were unworthy of any Favour. They justly deserv'd Eternal Wrath and Vengeance: God might have glorify'd His Justice in their ever­lasting Ruin and Destruction. God's Happi­ness does not depend on the Sinners Salvation. God stood in no need of their Happiness; He had no necessity of their Recovery. If He had pleas'd to have sinless Men to serve and praise Him; He might have created a new, holy Stock, and have given them Grace to be eternally Obedient to Him, if He had seen meet so to do. Or if He had desir'd to glori­fy His Grace in the Redemption of Sinners, He might have done it (if he had seen meet) in the Salvation of fallen Angels, who were originally of a Rank and Order superior to Man. Indeed sinful Men did no way deserve God's Favour, nor had He any need of their Salvation; 'twas therefore of His most free and sovereign Grace, that He gave His Son to be their Redeemer. So we read, Joh. 3.16. God so loved the world, as to give his only begot­ten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but should have everlasting Life. Rom. 5.8. God commendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ dyed for us. Thus we see, that Gods sending His Son to save Sinners, is ascribed to His Love: 'Tis menti­oned (and that very justly) as an admirable Effect of His amazing, unparallel Love. 'Twas (as the Apostle tells us, Eph. 2.4.) His great Love wherewith he loved us. 'Twas great Love, if we consider the Author of it, the [Page 10] infinitely Great GOD; Great, as to the long standing of it, from Everlasting to Everlasting. Great, as to the Objects of it, who were vile Sinners, greatly Unworthy of it. 'Twas great Love, else He would never have given His only begotten Son, to dye for the saving of those whom He thus Loved. 'Twas Great as to the Fruits of it, delivering from great and everlasting Misery, and bringing poor unwor­thy Sinners to great and everlasting Glory. Indeed 'twas great Love, free, sovereign, unde­served Grace and Mercy, that moved God to provide such a Saviour as He has done for poor Sinners. Therefore Believers should learn,

1. Not to ascribe any of the praise of their Salvation to any thing of their own. Oh Man, hast thou a saving Change wrought in thy Soul? Art thou become a New Creature? Art thou indeed Intituled to Eternal Life and Glory? Is it thus with thee, while others are hastening on in their Ways of Sin to Eternal Misery? Whence came this diffe­rence between thee and them? Is it to be ascribed to any Worthiness or Merit of thine own; or to any Power which thou hadst to save thy self, more than what others have? No indeed, nothing of the praise of thy Sal­vation is to be ascribed to thy self. If thou shouldst be dealt with according to thy De­servings, Hell would be thy Portion for ever. If no Power but thine own were employed for thy Deliverance, thou wouldst never be de­livered at all.

[Page 11]2. To ascribe the praise of their Deliverance and Salvation wholly to God. O Sinner, 'twas the free, sovereign Grace of God, that pro­vided a Saviour for such as thou art, even for vile Sinners. 'Twas sovereign Mercy that ordered thy being born under the Gospel, or at least thy being brought under the Gos­pel: 'Twas free Grace that set home Divine Truths on thy Soul, and made thee a New Creature. 'Twas free Gra [...], that in the Blood of Christ blotted out thy Sins, and that gave thee a new and firm Title to Eternal Blessedness. The whole of thy Deliverance and Salvation, is to be ascribed to free, sove­reign Grace: 'Tis the fruit and effect of so­vereign divine Mercy. Therefore the whole praise is due to God, to Christ. In this man­ner we should say, as Psal. 115.1. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but to thy name give Glory, for thy mercy and thy truths sake. I'm sure, the bitten Israelites were indebted to free, sove­reign, divine Favour, for providing a Remedy for them. So, Sinners are inconceivably in­debted to sovereign, divine Grace, for pro­viding a Saviour, an holy, powerful Redeem­er for them.

5. If the bitten Israelites had done nothing but pore and ponder on their Wounds, this would not, could not have cured them. Though they were sensible of their Wounds, did see them, feel them, complain of them, smart under their Pain, grieve and mourn for them; yet if they did no more, this could not cure them. They must not only consider their own Wounds, but also look on the Brazen Ser­pent, [Page 12] else they were not healed. So, if Sin­ners only keep looking and poring on their own Sins, this can never save them. Indeed a sight and sense of Sin is proper for them, but this is not sufficient. Men should so con­sider their sickness and wounds, as to see their need of a Physician, a Surgeon; so, Men should so consider their Sin and Misery, as to see their need of a Saviour, and trust in Him for Salvation. But if they only keep poring on their Sins, this won't save them. They may possibly see themselves very vile and sinful, be very much distressed and per­plexed for their Sins, have some Legal Con­victions and Humiliations for them, and yet perish for ever. Ahab humbled himself, and put on Sackcloth; yet there is no Evidence of his true Repentance. Judas Repeated, brought back the Price of his Treason; said, he had sinned in betraying innocent Blood, Mat. 27.3, 4. He had great Convictions and Horrors for Sin, yet he was the Son of Perdition, and perished for ever, because he did not heartily Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be instruct­ed then, 'tis not a meer sight and sense of Sin, horror and distress of Conscience for it, that can bring Persons to Heaven. Persons may have great Awakenings and Horrors for Sin in this World, and yet be Damn'd Eter­nally in the next. 'Tis not enough that Per­sons be frighted with their Sins, but they must abhor and forsake them, and trust in Christ alone for the Pardon of them, if ever they would be saved. Men must not only see their Malady, but also apply the Remedy, if they would obtain the Relief they need.

[Page 13]6. This piece of Brass, though made in the Fi­gure of a Serpent, yet had not the Poyson of a Ser­pent in it; but was for the healing of those that were poysoned. So, the Lord Jesus Christ, tho' made in the likeness of sinful Flesh, Rom. 8 3. Yet he knew no Sin (that is, he had none) a Cor. 5.21. He did no Sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, 1 Pet. 2.22. He had no Sin, but came to save those that had ruined themselves by Sin.

7. 'Twas the Duty of the bitten Israelites to look to the brazen Serpent for Cure, though to an Eye of Sense, there was little if any likelihood of Cure by it. The brazen Serpent had no in­nate Vertue to communicate from it self to those that were bitten, for the healing of them. There was no natural Efficacy in that piece of Brass, to heal wounded Specta­tors, as there is in the Sun to warm the Earth it shines on. Nay, Writers say, that when Persons were bitten with those poysonous Serpents, 'twas very hurtful for them to look upon bright shining Brass. Carnal Rea­son in a bitten Israelite might say, What should I look upon that piece of Brass in the Figure of a Serpent for, what good can it do me? And yet 'twas the Duty of such bitten Persons to look on it for healing. The healing did proceed from Gods Appointment and Institution; and from His own efficaci­ous Power exerted in that His own Way. So, the Way of Salvation through Christ, is very unlikely, if nothing but Mans carnal Reason makes the Judgment of it. Carnal Men were apt to think concerning Christ, [Page 14] that He had no form, comliness or beauty for which He should be desired, Isal ▪ 53.2. The Preaching of Salvation through a Crucified Christ, was to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, 1 Cor. 1.23. Thus carnal Reason often rejects and disapproves the Means appointed by God, even by infi­nite Wisdom and Goodness. Yet tis the Du­ty of all that live under the Gospel, to believe in Christ for Salvation. 1 Joh. 3.23. This is his commandment, that we [...] believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the Way of Gods chusing and appointing, therefore all should walk in it, though never so contrary to carnal Reason. They also should expect the Blessing from God in His own Way, and not from any Worthiness in themselves or Actions. When a bitten Israelite looked on the brazen Serpent, twas not any Vertue or Merit in his Act of looking, that obtained the Cure; but the whole Benefit did proceed from Gods Institution and Blessing. So, when we trust in Christ for Salvation, tis not our Act of trusting that really merits or deserves the Benefit; but this trusting is appointed by God, as the Way in which we are to ex­pect His Favour. We should expect Gods Blessing in His own Way, and not give heed to any contrary Arguings. This might teach us, diligently to attend on all Ordinances of Gods appointment. Let us not say, What good shall I get by these and those Ordinan­ces; what spiritual good can I get by Bap­tism and the Lords Supper? How can these convey any Benefit to my Soul? No, this [Page 15] is carnal Arguing and Reasoning; for these are Means of Gods appointing, therefore we ought heartily and obediently to attend on them, depending on God alone for the Blessings represented and exhibited thereby. If the bitten Israelites had insisted on this, We wont look on the brazen Serpent, it can do us no good; then they might all have dy­ed of their Wounds. So, if we will do no­thing for the good of our own Souls, but just what carnal Reason suggests, we must then perish for ever. Gods Blessing is to be sought and expected in His own Way.

8. The brazen Serpent was set on High, set on a Pole, that all bitten Israelites might see it for their own good. Indeed the Lord Jesus Christ was lifted up on the Cross, He was hanged on a Tree, He suffered that accursed Death to redeem and save Sinners, Gal. 3.13. And Ministers of the Gospel, in their Preaching, should lift up, or hold and shew forth Christ Jesus to Sinners, that they may see Him by Faith, and live. The brazen Serpent was set on an high Pole, that bitten Israelites might see it from all Quarters of the Camp; so, Christ should be Preached and offered to all Sinners, wherever the Gospel comes. Ministers should spread the Name, and Fame, and Glory of Jesus Christ, as much as possibly they can, in­viting all Sinners to look to Him and be sa­ved. Mark 16.15, 16. Go, preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.

[Page 16]9. If the bitten Israelites were never so near the brazen Serpent, yet they had no Benefit there­by, if they did not Look upon it. What if a bitten Israelite lay almost under the very Pole where the Serpent was? What if his bitten Parents, Children, or other Friends were heal'd by looking to it? What of all this, yet if he did not personally look up­on it, then he died of his wounds. So, tho' a person lives under the Gospel, and hears a Multitude of excellent Sermons, tho' he's much urg'd and sollicited to believe in Jesus Christ; yet if he does not believe in him, he shall not be saved by him. It may be his Father and Mother, and many of his near Relatives and Friends believ'd in Christ for the saving of their Souls; yet he will be never the better for this, if he him­self does not believe in Christ he must be damned for ever. If a stung Israelite heard never so much about the brazen Serpent, or spake never so much about it; yet if he personally did not look on it, he was not benefitted by it. So, tho' a person hears never so much about Christ, speaks or preaches never so much about him; yet if he personally does not believe in him, he must perish for ever. If he has ten thou­sand offers of Christ, yet if he does not ac­cept of him by heart-purifying Faith, he must be Eternally Damned. He that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath God abideth on him, Joh. 3.36.

[Page 17]10. All bitten Israelites, were equally welcome to look on the brazen Serpent; and all were heal­ed that did so. Looking on the brazen Ser­pent, was not a Privilege limited only to the Rich or Great, or only to those of such or such Orders and Degrees; No, All might look on it. Whoever was bitten, whether Male or Female, Young or Old, High or Low, Rich or Poor, Bond or Free; whether he had been bitten a longer or shorter Time, whether he had received one Wound or ma­ny, whether his Anguish and Pain had been great or small, yet he might look on the bra­zen Serpent. None were forbidden to look, all bitten Persons were equally welcome; and all that looked on it lived. So, All Sin­ners under the Gospel, are equally welcome to come to Christ; all that will come shall be welcome. He has said, Joh. 6.37. Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. All that hear of Jesus Christ, whether they are Younger or Old, Rich or Poor, or how­ever circumstanced in the World; yet they are invited to come to Christ. Isai. 45.22. Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth. Their own Sins, their own Un­worthiness shall never Ruin them, if they will but heartily submit to Jesus Christ. Who­soever believeth in him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life, Joh. 3.16. If a poor Israelite that had been stung for some consi­derable time, that was much swell'd, great­ly tormented, just ready to die, did but look on the brazen Serpent, he as surely liv'd as he that had look'd on it as soon as he was [Page 18] bitten. So, if the greatest, vilest Sinner in the World should come to Jesus Christ, he would be as welcome as any; and he should never be rejected for his Unworthiness, but should be sav'd for ever. Oh consider the gra­cious Invitations of the Scripture. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavey laden, and I will give you rest, Mat. 11.28. He that is a thirst, let him come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely, Rev. 22.17. These things should abundantly In­courage Poor Sinners, to trust in Christ for Salvation.

11. After many had been cured by Looking on the brazen Serpent, yet this way of healing was not at all abated, but as efficacions as ever. Indeed the healing power came from God, and this was not at all abated by healing of Multitudes. The last bitten Israelite that look'd on the brazen Serpent, was as truly and really benefitted thereby, as the first that look'd on it. So, the Lord Jesus is now as able to save Sinners, as ever he was. Tho' he has healed and saved Multitudes already, all the believers of the Old Testament, and all those of the New Testament heitherto; yet his sufficiency to save is in no measure abated. No, He's able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him, Heb. 7.25. He's fit to be trusted in, for he has Everlast­ing Strength, Isai. 26.4. He is an inexhau­stible fountain of Good and Grace, able for ever to supply all that come to him for help and relief. This should greatly in­courage [Page 19] all of us, to trust in Christ continu­ally, for all that Pardon of Sin, for all those supplies of Grace which we need. Psal. 55.22. Cast thy burden on the Lord, he shall sustain thee. Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you. Psal. 27.14. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he sha [...]l strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the LORD.

SERMON, II. The Dangerous SIN OF Murmuring, Described and Condemned.

1 Cor. X. 10.

Neither Murmur ye, as some of them also Murmured; and were destroyed of the Destroyer.

THose who call themselves Christians, and profess Obedience to the Gospel, should heartily endeavour to live answerably [Page 20] to such their Profession. They should live holily on Earth, that they may live happily in Heaven for ever. The Apostle Paul did exhort the Christian Corinthians thus to live. He said to them, 1 Cor. 9.24. So run, that ye may obtain. He would have them be so hearty, sincere, constant in their Christian Course, as that they might obtain the Prize, the Crown of Eternal Glo­ry. Therefore he would not have them content themselves meerly with their out­ward Profession, their external Religious Priviledges and Performances. To this end, in the former part of this Chapter contain­ing our Text, he tells them, that the Isra­elites of old, were Gods peculiar professing People, that they had many distinguishing Religious Priviledges, and yet many of them perish'd for their Wickedness. Though they did all eat the same spiritual Meat, and did all drink the same spiritual Drink (for they drank of that Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ) yet with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the Wilderness, v. 3, 4, 5. Having thus said, he adds, v. 6. N [...]w these things were our Ex­ [...]s, to the intent we should not lust after [...] things, as they also lusted. Would you know, why the Sins and Punishments of many are recorded in Scripture? Why, 'tis for this end, that the fear of like Pu­nishments, might keep us from the like Sins. We should hear and fear, and not do so Wickedly as others have done. We should not imitate their Sins, lest we partake of [Page 21] their Plagues. The Apostle having plainly intimated in general, that the Sins and Punish­ments of Israel, were recorded for the cau­tioning and warning of those who should hear of them; he then particularly cautions the Corinthians against Idolatry, v. 7. against Fornication, v. 8. against tempting of Christ, v. 9. and against Murmuring, as in our Text, v. 10. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmur­ed; and were destroyed of the Destroyer. As if he had said, Many of the Israelites Mur­mured against God in the Wilderness, and were destroyed for doing so; let this caution you against the Sin of Murmuring. From the Words we may observe this

DOCTRINE. Christians should carefully avoid the great and dangerous Sin of Murmuring.

Under this Doctrine we may consider, (1.) The Nature of this Sins. (2.) The Great­ness of it. (3.) The Danger of it.

1. The Nature of this Sin. Some describe Murmuring to be, a speaking against Persons or Things, out of Dislike, Impatience, or Discontent. To be sure, when Persons Mur­mur at what they meet with, it plainly implies their Dislike of it, their being Un­easy and Discontent with it, their Blaming and Complaining of it, and finding Fault with it: It plainly implies their Condemning of it, as not being as it ought to be. This [Page 22] in general is the Nature of Murmuring. Hence Murmurers and Complainers are put together, as being much the same, Jude. v. 16. This Murmuring, Discontent or Complaining, often operates or exerts it self,

1. When Persons cannot get those Things they [...]e [...]e. Thus, when the Israelites wanted Bread (their Stores being spent which they brought out of Aegypt) they murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and said, would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the Land of Aegypt, when we sat by the flesh­pots, and when we did eat Bread to the full: for he have brought us forth into this wilderness, to [...] this wh [...]le Assembly with hunger, Exod. 16.2, 3. So they Murmured when they wanted [...]a [...]e [...], and said to Moses, Exod. 17.3. Where­fore is this, that thou hast brought us out of Aegypt▪ [...] kill us and our Children, and our Cat­tle with thirst? They greatly Murmured, they bitterly Complained, as though they were ill dealt with; because they had not such Food and Drink, such outward Supports and Supplies as they desired. When Ahab could not get his Neighbours Vineyard as he desired, he shew'd a base, murmuring, discontented Spirit; he was full of ill Hu­mur, Pouty and Sullen, turned away his face, and would not eat Bread, 1 King. 21.4. Ma­ny Persons, when they can't get those things they desire, will Fret, Vex, be Uneasy and Discontent: This is Murmuring, 'tis a fault­ing of Divine Providence, which Governs all Things.

[Page 23]2. When Persons meet with those things, which are more directly and possitively Troublesome and Afflictive to them. Persons often Murmur, not only when they want such things as they desire, but also when they meet with Losses, Disappointments; even when Troubles and Afflictions come upon them. When those who join'd in the Sin of Korah, were cut off by a sudden, terrible Destruction; the Con­gregation Murmured against Moses and Aaron for it, and said, Ye have killed the People of the Lord, Numb. 16.41. They complain'd of the Loss of so many Men, as being an Af­fliction which ought not to have been brought upon them. 'Tis said, Rev. 16.9. And Men were scortched which great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these Plagues. The Affliction they met with, made them quarrel with their Maker, blaspheme his Name, and condemn the Dispensations of his Providence; like those, Isai. 8.21. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead, and hungry, and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and shall curse their King and their God, and shall look upward. Men too often Fret, Vex, Murmur, Curse, when they meet with sore Tryals and Afflictions. Prov. 19.3. The foolishness of Man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. When God afflicts Men for the Folly and Wickedness of their Ways, their Hearts often fret agai [...]st him for it.

[Page 24]3. When Persons see others Enjoy more than they think they should. Persons are too apt to Envy those whom they see in prosperous Circumstances; especially when they judge them unworthy of such Prosperity. When those who labour'd but one Hour in the Vineyard, receiv'd as much as those who labour'd all Day; those who had labour'd all the Day Murmured at it, though they themselves received all they had agreed for, Mat. 20.11. The holy Psalmist was envious at the foolish, when he saw the prosperity of the wicked, Psal. 73.3. Envy always implies Mur­muring in it; 'tis an implicit charging of God with an undue, unbecoming Distributi­on of his Favours. Indeed Gods Providence governs the World; His throne is prepar'd in the Heavens, his kingdom ruleth over all, Psal. 103.19. He does according to his pleasure in Heaven, Earth, Sea, and all deep places, Psal. 135.6. Let Instruments be who or what they will, yet all Benefits and Troubles are distributed, ordered forth, by Divine Provi­dence. God forms the Light, creates Darkness, makes Peace, creates Evil; 'tis the Lord does all these things, Isai. 45.7. Men therefore should look above and beyond Instruments, in all the Mercies and Afflictions they meet with, and consider the Hand of God in every one of them. If therefore they Murmur when they want what they desire; or when they meet with Losses in their Estate in their Children or other dear Relatives, indeed when they meet with any Afflictions; or when they see others in Prosperity whom they [Page 25] think unworthy of it; I say, if they Mur­mur at these things, 'tis plainly a faulting and condemning of what God does. We therefore now proceed to consider,

2. The Greatness of this Sin. Murmuring is a very vile Impiety, a very great Sin. Dis­obedience (as such) to the Divine Law, is a practical contempt of Gods Authority; a saying, Who is the Lord that I should obey him? Murmuring is an implicit faulting of Gods Government; a condemning the Steps and Methods he takes in ordering of his Creatures. Indeed there may be such a thing, as faulting (and that justly) the Instruments of our Trouble, where yet there is no Murmuring against God; but a Patient bearing of his Hand in the Tryal. But on the other hand, when Persons are Fretful, Impatient, Dis­content under Afflictions, whether they have much regard to Instruments or not; this is Murmuring, and a great Crime it is: For it highly and basely reflects on God, who orders and governs all things in his Provi­dence as he pleaseth: 'Tis an implicit judg­ing, faulting, condemning what God does. This highly Reflects,

1. Upon Gods Sovereignty. As for Gods own Being, it is Necessary and Eternal. As for the Being of Creatures, it depends in­tirely on Gods Sovereign Pleasure. For his pleasure, all things are and were created, Rev. 4.11. God has made the Heaven, Earth, Sea, and all things therein; and he preserveth them all, Neh. 9.6. 'Tis of Gods meer Sovereign Pleasure, that he has made Creatures, and [Page 26] that he continues them in Being. There­fore he must needs have the most absolute Lordship and Dominion over them, that possibly can be. He is the Supream Lord and owner of them, and may therefore order and dispose of them as he sees meet. The Earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof; the World and they that dwell therein, Psal. 24.1. Therefore he may do according to his will in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth; none may stay his hand, or say to him, what doest thou? Dan. 4.35. Persons commonly reckon, that Men may dispose of their own things as they will; as the Lord of the Vineyard said, Mat. 20.15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Surely then, the Great GOD may do what he will with his own: He's the sovereign Potter, we are the Clay; he may make one Vessel to Honour and another to Dishonour as he will. Now, when Persons Murmur and Repine at that Condition, at those Cir­cumstances which Providence orders to them; therein they do as it were arraign and con­demn Gods Sovereignty; they implicitely say, God has no right thus to order things as he does, at his own Pleasure. Surely, 'tis great and daring Wickedness, thus to im­peach and condemn Gods Sovereignty, his sovereign Government of the World. When Peter said to our Lord, What shall this Man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Joh. 21.21, 22. So, O Man, though thou art in great Ad­versity, [Page 27] while God bestows great Prosperity on others; yet, what is that to thee? May he not dispose his own Favours as he will? What is that to thee, if others have Health while thou hast Sickness; if others are loaded with Honour, while thou art loaded with Contempt; if others are Rich while thou art Poor; if others have their Houses and Estates continu'd, while thine are taken away; if others have their Wives, Children, or other dear Relatives continu'd, while thine are taken away? Sure­ly, God may do what he will with his own When thou dost fret and vex at thy Condi­tion, thou dost Murmur against God; thou dost practically condemn his Sovereignty, and show thy self displeas'd that he has the actual Government of the World in his own Hand. Thy Murmuring is as it were a practical Essay to rob God of his Crown, thrust him from his Throne, and wrest his Scepter out of his Hand. Such proud, daring Arrogance as this, must needs be a great and heinous Offence. Murmuring does Reflect,

2. On Gods Infinite Wisdom. God is the Father of Lights, his Understanding is infi­nite, he is Wisdom it self. He acts with infinite Wisdom, in all his Works of Creati­on and Providence too: Psal. 104.14. O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in Wisdom hast thou made them all. The Lord of Hosts is wonder­ful in Counsel, and excellent in Working, Isal. 28.29. He worketh all things according to the [Page 28] Counsel of his own will, Eph. 1.11. God in all he does, always aims at the highest and best End, even his own Glory; he has made all things for himself, and he orders all things after the best manner that can be, to ob­tain this best End; and therefore he orders all things in infinite Wisdom. But when Men Murmur, Repine, Fret, and are Dis­content at the Dispensations of Providence; therein they reflect on Gods Wisdom. They practically say, God does not know how to govern the World well and wisely, he does not take right and proper Steps in his Rule and Conduct; for if he orders things well and wisely, then why do they yet complain? Now it must needs be a very great Crime, thus to reflect on the unsearchible Wisdom of the great God. Shall such Bats, such ignorant, short-sighted blind Creatures as we are, arraign and condemn the wise Con­duct of Divine Providence? Yet thus wick­edly we do, when we Murmur at Afflicti­ons. Job 40.3. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty, instruct him! He that reproveth God, let him answer it. 'Tis wicked Arro­gance, for any to pretend to instruct the Al­mighty, or reprove him for any part of his Conduct. He that Murmurs, practically says, that God does not govern wisely; and this Reflection must needs be a great offence. Murmuring Reflects,

3. On Gods Justice and Righteousness. In­deed▪ God is a God of Truth and without ini­quity, just and right is he, Deut. 32 4. Shall not God the Judge of all the Earth, do right? [Page 29] Yes surely, he cannot do a wrong, or an unrighteous thing. He is Righteous in all his ways, and Holy in all his works, Psal. 145.17. Men often do unjust things; yea, Good Men, through Ignorance, or present Preva­lency of Corruption, sometimes do unjust things, and so may justly deserve Blame. But God is unchangibly Wise, Just, Holy, Righteous; and so cannot do an unjust thing. As 'tis impossible for God to lye, so 'tis impossible for God to be unjust, or to act unjustly; for there is no variableness with him, nor any shadow of turning, Jam. 1.17. Yet when Men Murmur at their Condition, they practically charge God with treating them hardly, with dealing unjustly with them. If they meet with no unjust Treatment, then they have no reason to find fault; there­fore their finding fault plainly implies, that they think themselves unfairly dealt with, and that they don't deserve the tryals they meet with, or that others ought not to be so high, and they so low in the World: Ezek. 18.25. Yet ye say, the way of the Lord is not equal. They wickedly charg'd God with Innequa­lity and Injustice in the Methods of his Providence. This was the Spirit and Tem­per of those, Mal. 3.13, 14. Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord, yet ye say, what have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, it is vain to serve God; and what profit is it, that we have kept his Ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord? They seem evidently to complain, that God did not deal with them so well [Page 30] as he should; that he did not bestow on them the Benefits and Blessings which they deserved. The same ill Spirit appear'd in those, Isai. 58.3. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? By these Queries, full of Discontent and fretful Complaints, they practically said, Gods Ways were not equal, he did not deal justly with them, they deserv'd better at his Hands. This is the Heaven-provoking Language, of a Murmuring, Discontented Spirit. Murmuring is a great Crime, 'tis a charging of God with Injustice. Murmur­ing highly Reflects,

4. On the Goodness of God. Murmuring implies a contempt of, and unthankfulness for the Goodness of God. God is good, and his tender Mercies are over all his works, Psal. 145.9. There's no Person in the World, but what receives more or less of the To­kens of Gods Goodness. All Men are Sin­ners, and the Wages of Sin is Death. There­fere all that persons have on this side Death, on this side the unquenchible Flames of Hell, is owing to meer Divine Mercy and Kindness; 'tis better than they deserve: For they are less than the least of Gods Mercies, as Jacob confess'd of himself, Gen. 32.10. Un­der their heaviest Losses, Tryals, Disap­pointments, Afflictions, they should yet say, God punishes us less than our Inquities deserve; 'tis of the Lords Mercy we are not consumed: Wherefore should a living Man complain, a Man [Page 31] for the punishment of his Sins? Under our sorest Afflictions, we yet have many Mer­cies, though we deserve none; therefore we have always cause to be Thankful, but ne­ver any cause to Complain. But when we Murmur and Repine, it shows a contempt of Gods Goodness to us; as though it did not deserve our Notice of it, or Thank­fulness for it. This despising of Gods Good­ness, must needs be highly provoking to him. Oh Man, dost thou Murmur at thy Af­flictions? Thou dost Reproach God in do­ing it. God deals far better with thee than thou deservest, thou hast no reason to Re­pine, but much reason to be Thankful. Hast thou lost part of thy Estate? 'Tis a Mercy thou hast not lost it all. If thou hast lost all thy Estate, yet 'tis a Mercy thou hast thy Liberty, and art not a miserable Captive among cruel Enemies. It may be thou hast Health and Ease in thy Body; that's a great Mercy. Or if thou hast Sick­ness and Pain, yet 'tis a great Mercy that thy Sight and thy Hearing are continued to thee. 'Tis a Mercy that the use of thy Reason is continued to thee. In a Word, Sure I am, 'tis a great Mercy that thou art out of Hell, that thou art under the Gos­pel, that thou hast the Bible for thy Guide and Comfort; and so hast an Opportunity to lay up Treasures in Heaven, to secure an unfading Inheritance, an eternal weight of Glory. 'Tis wicked Ingratitude, a vile contempt of Gods Goodness, for one so circumstanced as thou art; to Murmur and [Page 32] Repine at Troubles and Afflictions. Thus we see, that Murmuring is a very great Sin; it highly reflects on the Sovereignty, Wisdom, Righteousness and Goodness of the Great GOD; and this must needs be a great Offence, an high Affront indeed to the Great GOD.

Let us now consider,

3. The danger of this Sin. The Sin of Murmuring, greatly provokes God, and ex­poseth persons to His terrible displeasure. This is evident from, (1.) The threatenings he has denounc'd against it. (2.) The Judg­ments he has Inflicted for it.

1. From the threatenings he has denounc'd against it. When Israel said, The way of the Lord is not equal; God threatn'd, That he would Judge every one of them according to their ways, Ezek. 18.29, 30. God threnten'd to Judge and punish them severely, when they so wickedly Murmur'd at his Provi­dence. So, Isai. 45.9. Wo unto him that stri­veth with his Maker: Let the Potsheards strive with the Potsheards of the earth: shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, what makest thou? God threateneth those, wo to those, who strive with their Maker, who fault and condemn his proceedings, and yet all Mur­murers do so. Yea, wo to them indeed who strive with their Maker, He'll certain­ly overcome. Shall we strive with our Maker, contend with him? Shall we run [Page 33] upon the thick Bosses of his Buckler? What can we expect but ruine, when we thus provoke Him who is infinitely more than a Match for all Creatures? 1 Cor. 10.22. Do we provoke the Lord to Jealous [...]e, are we stronger than he? We act most foolishly and madly against our own Interest, when we provoke the strong, the Almighty God, by our Murmuring at what he does.

2. From the Judgments God has Inflicted for it. Our Text tells us, that some of the Israelites Murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. God destroy'd many of them in the Wil­derness, for their Murmuring at his dispen­sations. Numb. 11.1. And when the People complained, it displeased the Lord; and the Lord heard it, and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and con­sumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. The People they Murmur'd and Complain'd; and God heard it, He took exact Notice of all their repining, discon­tented, complaining Words; and was so provok'd thereby, that he consum'd many of them with fire. Discontent burnt in their hearts, brake forth in their Words or Actions or more probably in both; and kindled the fire of Gods wrath which con­sum'd them. Soon after this, they Mur­mured for want of Flesh to eat, tho' they had Manna enough every Day; they were not content with God's Allowance which he gave them. Well, God gave them Quails to eat, He sent them Flesh with a vengeance, [Page 34] He gate them Flesh and a Curse with it. For while the Flesh was between their Teeth, ere it was chewed; the wrath of the Lord was [...]indled against the People, and the Lord smote the People with a very great Plague, Numb. 11.33. God Plagu'd 'em and kill'd 'em for their Murmuring. He gave them their desire, and sent leanness into their Soul. At another time, when the Spies gave an ill report of the Land of Canaan, the People Murmured and said, Would God we had died in Aegypt, or would God we had died in this Wilderness, Numb. 14.2. God was so provok'd with this wicked wish, that he said, v. 28, 29. As you have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you. Your Carcasses shall fall in this Wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number from twenty Years old and upward, which have Murmured against me. There were about Six hundred thousand men of Israel, that came out of Aegypt above twenty Years old, (Exod. 12.37. Numb. 1.3.) yet none of them but Caleb and Joshua, ever got to Ca­naan, the rest died in the Wilderness: and 'twas their wicked Murmuring and Unbe­lief▪ [...] procur'd the Death of them. They were so discontent, that they wickedly wish'd they had been dead, God (in a sort) says Amen to it; He threatens that they should die in the Wilderness and he fulfill'd his threatening. Rachel in a Murmuring fit once said, Give me Children or else I die, Gen. 30.1. God gave her Children and they kill'd her: She di'd in Travail with her Second Son, Gen. 35.19. Surely these things show, [Page 35] that Murmuring is a Sin very highly pro­voking to God. And by the way, surely these things should Caution us against wicked wishes, vile abominable Imprecations. Some are very apt to wish such and such evil things to themselves, to their Wives, their Husbands, their Children or other Relatives; it may be they may wickedly and rashly wish that they may be Hanged, or that they may never see one another again, or the like. 'Tis very Sinful to do thus, avoid such wicked wishes, lest God fulfil them in his wrath. Israel wish'd they had di'd in the Wilderness, God said Amen to it, He was so provok'd that He caus'd them to die there. Let none be discontent and fretful, because they can't have these and those things they desire; let them not say, that they can never be easy or content without them, lest God send the things thus desired and a Plague and Curse with them. Rachel can't be content without Children, well then, She shall have Children and be kill'd in bearing them. Israel can't be content without Flesh; well then, they shall have Flesh and a consuming Plague with it. These things should be Cautions and Warnings to others. What has been said, may suffice for clearing of the Doctrine.

We proceed to the USE, from what we have heard we may Infer,

1. That we should be deeply humble, for all that Murmuring and Discontent which we have been chargeable with. Murmuring too often [Page 36] breaks out in Words and Actions; and yet more frequently rageth in the Secret of the Soul. Though 'tis a very common Sin, yet 'tis a very great one. How often have we been Impatient, Fretful, Discontent at the Dispensations of Divine Providence? This was a charging of God foolishly, a stri­ving with our Maker; we should be deeply humbled for it, and say as he, Psal. 73.22. So foolish was I, and ignorant, I was as a Beast before thee. Job 42.6. Wherefore I abhor my self, and repent in dust and Ashes.

2. We should watch and strive against the Sin of Murmuring. This is the Exhortation in our Text, Neither Murmur ye. To quicken and fortify us against this Sin, let us mind the following Directions.

1. Let us consider, that God sends all our Af­flictions. Let Means, Instruments, Second Causes be what they will; yet we have to do with God, in all our Comforts and Afflicti­ons too. Shall there be Evil in a City, and the Lord hath not done it? Amos 3.6. There's no Evil of Affliction, but what is of Gods or­dering. Therefore, though we may be dis­pleased with the Sin of Instruments that afflict us; and may grieve for the Afflictions them­selves too; yet we should not Murmur at them for the sending of them is a Divine Work. Psal. 46.10. Be still, and know that I am God. Psal. 39.9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.

[Page 37]2. Let us impress on our Minds, a firm Be­lief of Gods Righteousness, even in the darkest Dispensations. The Prophet did so; Jer. 12.1. Righteous art thou, O Lord; yet let me talk with thee of thy Judgments. Psal. 97.2. Clouds and darkness are round about him; Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of his Throne. If we cant see through these and those dark Dispensations; yet let us firmly believe, that God does all things well and wisely, that there is no Unrighteousness with him. Pa­tients often take Physick, though they don't know all the Particulars of the Composition, the Potion, nor the particular Nature of them; yet they trust the Physitians Skill, and think that he knows and does well. Much more should we think, that God always does what's best, though we can't at present see through the meaning of his particular Dispen­sations. Our Lord said to Peter, Joh. 13.7. What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.

3. Let us deeply affect our selves with a Sense of our own Sinfulness and Unworthiness. This Consi­deration prevented Murmuring in the afflicted Prophet: Micah 7.9. I will bear the Indigna­tion of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. As if he had said, I have deserv'd worse than all this, I have no reason to complain. So, Dan. 9.14. — The Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doth, for we obeyed not his Voice.

[Page 38]4. Let us get our Affections more wean'd from Earthly Things. Col. 3.2. Set your Affections on things above, not on things on the earth. If we look'd on our selves as Pilgrims and Strangers on Earth, who abide here as it were but for a Night; and rightly considered the Uncertain­ty, Emptiness, Insufficiency of Earthly En­joyments; this would tend very much to pre­vent Envying and Murmuring.

5. Let us be very sollicitous for our Spiritual Eternal Welfare. Are we Discontent at Af­flictions? Let us thus Argue; We are Gods Children, or we are not. If we are not his Children, why are we thus concerned about outward, momentany Troubles? Instead of being so concerned at these Troubles, we should be chiefly concerned to make our Peace with God, that we may be Safe for ever. Work out your own Salvation with fear and trem­bling, Phil. 2.12. Give diligence to make your Calling and Election sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. On the other hand, if we are Gods Children, then all things shall work together for our good, (Rom. 8.28.) whether we can at present see how it shall be or not. God has Power and Faith­fulness sufficient to fulful his Promise. He can do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, Eph. 3.20. And we should not Mur­mur at what is profitable to us.

6. Let us be much in Prayer. In every thing, by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving, we should make known our requests to God, Phil. 4.6. [Page 39] We should Pray, that God would strengthen us against all our Temptations and Corrupti­on; that he would keep us from Sinning, and so particularly from Murmuring and Discontent. Psal. 19.4. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be accepta­ble in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Re­deemer. Psal. 119.133. Order my steps in thy Word; and let not any Iniquity have dominion over me.

Sermon, III. The Fear of GOD, Fortifying Against Sin, and ill Examples.

NEH. V. 15.

—But so did not I, because of the Fear of GOD.

THese are the words of Nehemiah, a god­ly Governour among the Jews. This [Page 40] Book of Nehemiah, refers to the affairs of the Jews after their Babylonish Captivity was end­ed. After their return from Babylon, they were few, poor, and met with various Tri­als. 'Tis said, Chap. 1. v. 3. They were in great Affliction and Reproach: the Wall also of Jeru­salem was broken down, and the Gates thereof burnt with fire. When Nehemiah a godly Jew, heard of this distressed state of his returned Country men (tho' he himself was not then among them, but in Persia, Chap. 1. v. 1.) he was greatly concern'd for them. He himself was Cup-Bearer to the King of Persia (Chap. 1. v. 11.) in which considerable Post, he might doubtless have liv'd in great Personal ease, quiet and prosperity, if he had look'd no fur­ther than a present serving of himself. But being a very godly Man, and of a Publick Spirit, he was sollicitous for the welfare of his Country Men and Brethren the Jews, God's professing People; and he pray'd to God for them. Chap. 1. He also besought the King of Persia (under whose extensive Imperial Go­vernment, the returned Jews then were) that he might be permitted & impowered to go to Judea, and promote the welfare of his Coun­try Men, Chap. 2. He obtain'd his request, was by the King of Persia made Governour over the returned Jews, and sent to promote their welfare. Being thus Impower'd, he laid out himself and imploy'd his Authority, to promote the welfare of his People, in their poor and low circumstances. He took care to get the Walls of Jerusalem rebuilt, Chap. [Page 41] 3. & 4. And in this 5th. Chapter containing our Text, we find, that he took care to Re­dress Grievances and Abuses among the Jews themselves. Some of the Poorer Sort had Mort­gaged their Houses, Lands, Vineyards, and made their Children Bond-Servants also, for the buying of Food and paying the Kings Tribute. The Richer Sort who exacted these things were Rigorous, Cruel, Unkind and Uncharitable to their Poorer Brethren. When these things were complained of, Nehemiah the Governour Re­buk'd those, who were thus Injurious to their Poor Neighbours and set himself to Redress the Wrongs done; as appears in this Chapter, from v. 1. to the 13. Hereupon, Nehemiah (to enforce the Exhortation he had given to others) menti­ons his own kind Example and Carriage, v. 14, 15. Though some who had been Governours over the returned Jews before him, had been very chargible to the Poor People, yea, had suf­fered their very Servants to Rule them; yet he did not follow this Example set before him. So did not I (says he, in our Text) because of the fear of God. He does not deny in general, those who are Civil Rulers, Ministers of God for good to a People; I say, he does not deny in general, that such ought to have a suitable Sup­port and Reward from the People, for whose Welfare they are concerned; but some of his Predecessors in Government, had gone farther than they ought in exacting from the People in their poor and low Circumstances; yea, they had suffered their very Servants to Rule over and abuse them; but Nehemiah dare not Sin after this Rate, dare not tred in these Steps, nor walk [Page 42] in this beaten Road, dare not follow these ill Examples set before him, because he feared God, and therefore made Conscience of his Ways. Though he had the Power of a Governour, yet he dare not abuse that Power, as some of his Prede­cessors had done.

Note by the way, ‘Those that have Power and Authority over Men, yet ought to Fear God as well as others.’

All Men are not Equals, nor do they stand upon a Level as to Power and Authority. Or­der ought to be upheld in Societies, which can't be, without some being Superiors and others Inferiors in them. 'Tis agreeable to the Revealed Will of God, and Required by him, that in Families, which are the smallest So­cieties; in Churches or Ecclesiastical Societies; in Civil Societies, Common Wealths or King­doms, some should be Rulers and others Ruled. Yet even those who have never so much Power and Authority among Men, I say, even such Superiors among Men, are as much Inferiors to God, and ought as really and truly to Fear Him, as any of the meanest and lowest of the Children of Men. If they are Governours, Kings, Emperors, have the greatest Power that's lawful among Mortals; yet they are bound and oblig'd as really and as much to Fear God and Obey Him, as any others are. God is as truly their Ma­kers, Preserver, Benefactor, Lawgiver and Judge, as he is of any others. But the Observation chief­ly intended from the Words is this, viz.

[Page 43]

DOCTRINE. The Fear of GOD should keep us from Sinning, and particularly from following ill Examples.

Here are Two Propositions. (1.) The Fear of God should keep us from Sinning. (2.) It should particularly keep us from following i [...]l Examples.

PROP. I. The Fear of God should keep us from Sinning. Sin is a breach of Gods Law. 1 Joh. 3.4. Whosoever committeth sin, transgres­seth also the Law; for sin is a transgression of the Law. Sin is a very great evil, Inas­much as 'tis an affront to the Infinitely Great GOD. And as 'tis a great Evil, so it deserves great Misery. The wages of sin is death, Rom. 6.23. Those who are the Servants of Sin, are like to be the Subjects of Death, even of Eternal Death and Misery. This Eternal Misery, will be Inflicted by Divine Justice, on those who go on obstinately in ways of wickedness. Therefore the true Fear of God, and of His holy displeasure, is the best Re­medy or Preservative against Sin. Every Re­generate Person, every true Convert, has in him the root and principle of every true saving Grace. As he has true Faith & Trust in Gods Mercy thro' Christ; so he has true Love to God, and true filial Fear of Him. True Fear God, is a saving Grace. Christi­ans are bidden, to pass the time of their So­journing [...]ere [...], 1 Pet. 1.17. They [Page 44] should cleanse themselves from all filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7.1. The more Men fear God, the more careful they'l be to avoid Sin, and to practise holiness. Job 28.28. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. A Person's truly fearing of God, Implies in it, his real belief that God is such an One as He has declar'd Himself to be, and his being suitably Affected there­with; and so it tends directly to keep him from Sinning. A realizing belief of his Know­ledge, Holiness, Power and Faithfulness, does so.

1. A realizing belief of His Knowledge. Gods Law should be our rule in all things; we should conform our Thoughts, Words, and Deeds unto it continually. And God most critically observes whether we do so or not. Tho' many of our Actions may be hid from Men, yet none of them can be hid from God. He says, Jer. 23.23, 24. Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him, saith the Lord? Do not I fill Heaven and Earth, saith the Lord? God is present every where, sees all things, strictly observes whether we regard his Authority and obey His Precepts, yea or no. God's Eyes are on all our ways: there's not a word in our Tongue, but lo, He knows it altogether: Yea He knows the things that come into our Minds, even every one of them. His eyes are in every place beholding the evil and the good, Prov. 15.3. There is no Creature that is not manifest in his sight; all things are open and naked to the eyes [Page 45] of him with whom we have to do. Heb. 4.13. Tho' many Sins are secret as to Men, yet none are so as to God; His Knowledge is Infinite. A realizing belief of this extensive universal Knowledge of God; would tend very much to keep us from Sinning. Per­sons are often restrain'd from Sin, by the Presence of serious, grave, godly Men, their Fellow. Creatures; and how much more would it restrain them from Sin, if they seriously believ'd and consider'd, that the All-seeing Eye of their infinitely Holy and Glorious Judge, is continually upon them?

2. A realizing Belief of his Holiness. As God necessarily sees and knows all the Sins any are guilty of, so, he as necessarily hates and ab­hors them. Sin is the most hateful thing to God that can be, yea, the only thing that provokes him; 'tis the abominable thing that his Soul hates. He has no pleasure in wicked­ness, evil shall not dwell with him; he hates all workers of iniquity, Psal. 5.4, 5. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, he cannot look on iniquity, Hab. 1.13. No vile Object in the World, is so loathsome and abominable to Men as all Sin is to God. 'Tis nothing but Sin, that hin­ders the Communication of Blessings and Favours from God to Men. Your iniqui­ties have separated between you and your God. Isai. 59.2. Your sins have witholden good things from you, Jer. 5.25. God has manifested his matchless, glorious Holiness and Purity, and so his Hatred of Sin, in casting the fallen Angels into Chains of Darkness, in threat­ening [Page 46] Death as the Wages of Sin; in drown­ing the old World with a Flood for their Wickedness; in bringing numberless terrible Judgments on particular Persons, Families, Nations, Kingdoms, Countrys for their Sins; and in bringing terrible Sufferings on our blessed Lord Jesus, who became Surety for his chosen People, and undertook to satisfy for their Sins. Though God through Christ can be Reconciled to Returning Sinners, yet he can­not be Reconciled to Sin it self. Now a Re­alizing Belief of God's infinite Holiness, his unnutterable Hatred and Loathing of Sin, tends to keep Men from Sinning. While the true Fear of God actually and vigorously ope­rates in the Soul, a Person would not dare knowingly to Sin against him, to do any thing which he knows to be so unutterably Hateful to him.

3. A Realizing Belief of his Power. Gods Power is as great to punish Sin, as his Holiness to hate it. Sometimes Just and Righteous Judges can't come at vile Criminals, to punish them as they deserve. But Gods Eye beholds all Transgressors,, he needs no Witnesses to in­form him; his Hand also is long enough to reach them all, and strong enough to inflict the most terrible Judgments on them. He is the Lord Almighty; the Lord God Omni­potent Reigneth; nothing is too hard for him, all things are possible with him. Obstinate Sin­ners can't possibly escape his terrible Revenges. Who ever hardened himself against God and prospered? Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy, [Page 47] are we stronger than he? 1 Cor. 10.22. Tho' Sinners exalt themselves as the Eagle, and set their Nest among the Stars; yet God will bring them down, Obad. v. 4. He can inflict intol­lerable Plagues and Punishments on Sinners, on their Bodies, on their Souls, in Time, and throughout Eternity. Who knows the Power of his Anger? Oh, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! Sure­ly, a Realizing Belief of the Almighty Power of that God, who sees all the Sins of Men, who infinitely hates them, must needs have a proper Tendency to keep Men from Sin­ning. Who but Mad-Men, would heed­lesly and knowingly anger and provoke One, whom they know has present, constant, sufficient Power to deprive them of all their Comforts, to Ruin and Destroy them, to make them unutterably Miserable?

4. A Realizing Belief of Gods Faithfulness. God has denounced terrible Threatnings against Sin and Sinners. The Soul that sins shall die. The Wages of Sin is Death. Every Sin is a Capital Crime, by the Righteous Law of God. Those who are obstinate Ser­vants of Sin in this World, shall be the Sub­jects of Eternal Misery in the next. He that believeth not, shall be damned, Mark. 16.16. The God that has denounced these terrible Threat­nings, is unchangibly True and Faithful to his Word. He is not a man that he should lye, nor the son of man that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spo­ken, and shall he not make it good? Numb. 23.19. [Page 48] It is impossible for God to lye, Heb. 6.18. God is unchangibly True, and will fulfil his Threatnings in the Everlasting Destruction of Sin­ners, if Repentance prevent not. He is as true also to his Promises, and will Pardon all true Penitents, will save all that heartily hate Sin, strive and watch against it. In­deavouring to be Holy in all manner of Con­versation. None have a right, true Fear of God, but those who believe these things con­cerning him; even his infinite Knowledge, Ho­liness, Power and Faithfulness; and those who do really believe these things, duely consider them, and suitably apply them to their own Hearts, they cannot but Fear God, fear to sin against and offend him. They cannot but esteem his Favour better than Life; and so they cannot but Fear the Lord and his good­ness, Hos. 3.5. They cannot but fear the offending of that God, on whose Favour the whole of their Welfare and Happiness de­pends. And on the other hand, they cannot but Fear his Wrath more than Death. The Fear of God should, and as far as it is in lively Exercise it will, keep them from sinning. If the Saints do fall into known Sin at any time, 'tis because the Fear of God was not at that time in due Exercise in their Souls. Sin­ful Fear of Men, more than the true Fear of God, prevail'd in Peter, when he deny'd Christ with Cursing and Swearing. But so far as the true Fear of God prevails in any, 'twill Re­strain them from sinning; it won't suffer them to indulge Sins of Omission or Com­mission. It is not Fear of Shame or Punish­ment [Page 49] from Men, that is the chief Restraint on them; for then they would sin in Secret, or when they had a Prospect of escaping Punishment from Men; but so far as the true Fear of God prevails in them, they are as careful to avoid secret Sins as open ones, (for they know, Gods Eye is always upon them) they are afraid of Sins which would not expose them to humane Censures, as well as of those that would; for they know that God will be provok'd with Sin, whether Men are or not. True Fear of God will make them argue in their own Consciences, as Joseph once did to his wicked, tempting Mistress: Gen. 39.9. How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin again [...]t God? True, holy Fear, puts Men upon Obeying God. Heb. 11.7. By Faith, Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with Fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his house. God told him, a Flood would come and destroy the wicked World, bad him prepare an Ark for safety when the Flood should come; Noah believ'd the threaten'd Judgment would come, was afraid of it, and so obeyed God in providing an Ark for safety, as he had been directed. True Fear of God in Exercise, will make Men chuse Suffering rather than Sinning. Daniel Feared God, and rather than displease God by omitting Prayer, he chose to be cast in­to the Den of Lyons. The three Children Feared God, and they chose to be bound and cast alive into a fiery Furnace, rather than dis­please God by worshipping an Idol, Dan. ch. 3. 'Tis the Character of the true Fearers of God, [Page 50] that they love not their Lives to the Death, Rev. 12.11. They have not so great a Fear of Men, who can do no more than kill the Body; as they have of God, who can destroy both Soul and Body in hell, Mat. 10.28. The Fear of God should, and so far as it operates and prevails it will, Restrain Persons from sin­ning; so far as holy Fear prevails in them, they will act most for Gods Glory and their own Good. And, as the Fear of God should keep us from sinning in general, so,

PROP. II. The Fear of God should particu­larly keep us from following ill Examples. When godly Nehemiah had mentioned ill Practices in others, he adds, But so did not I, because of the Fear of God. As if he had said,

‘Though they have sinned thus and so, yet I dare not do like them; their Example cannot ex­cuse, and therefore shall not obtain, my Imitation. I know that God is my Maker, Lawgiver and Judge, that I am accountable to him for all my Ways, that his Eye is always upon me; there­fore I dare not offend nor sin against him, tho' never so much prompted by ill Examples.’

Indeed the Fear of God should, and where 'tis duely exercis'd it will, strengthen the Soul against the Snares & Temptations by which it is endangered; particularly against ill Ex­amples, which are very dangerous Snares in­deed. God says, Exod. 23.2. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil. If this or that Sin becomes very common, customary, fashi­onable, [Page 51] if the Multitude do it; yet God forbids our imitating them therein. Eph. 5.11. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of dark­ness, but rather reprove them. Do others tempt us to Sin, by their vile Examples or Perswa­sions? We should be so far from comply­ing, that we should rather reprove them. If the Multitude go wrong, we should not go wrong for Company sake. Are we willing to be Damned, to go to Hell for Com­pany sake? If not, let us not Sin for Com­pany sake. Rev. 18.4. — Be not partakers of her sins, that ye partake not of her plagues. Indeed there is no Preservative against the poysonous Influence of ill Examples, like this of the true and lively Fear of God. The Gospel teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, god­ly in this present world, Tit. 2.12. The Fear of God should quicken us to avoid the Ex­amples that are contrary hereunto. As,

1. Examples of Ungodliness. Are others ungodly in their Practice, do they omit any Duties of Religion? We should reply, So dare not I, because of the Fear of God. For Instance, Do others take Gods Name in vain? Do they Curse and Swear Profanely? We should say, So dare not I, because of the Fear of God, who has said, He will not hold them guiltless, that take his Name in vain. Do others Profane Gods holy Sabbath? So dare not I, because of the Fear of God, who has terribly threaten'd those that do so, Jer. 17.27. Do others neglect reading and studying the holy Scriptures? So dare not I, because of the Fear of God, [Page 52] who has said, Joh. 5.39. — Search the Scrip­tures. Josh. 1.8. This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt medi­tate in it day and night. Do others live in the neglect of secret Prayer? So dare not I, be­cause God bids me Pray in Secret, Mat. 6.6. Do others neglect Family Prayer? So dare not I, because Gods fury will he poured out on the Families that call not on his Name, Jer. 10.25. Therefore I will Resolve like Joshua, Josh. 24.15. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Do others neglect Gods Publick Wor­ship, seldom if ever meeting at his House? So dare not I, because he has said, Heb. 10.25. Not forsaking the Assembling of your selves together, as the manner of some is. Do others neglect Baptism or the Lords Supper? So dare not I, because Christ requires, that his Dis­ciples should be Baptised, and should observe all things whatsoever he has commanded, Mat. 28.19, 20. And has particularly said concerning the Lords Supper, Luk. 22.19. This do in remembrance of me. Yea, he has requir'd us to do what­soever he commands, and that as a Proof and Testimony that we Love him and are his Friends, Joh. 14.15. & 15.14. The Fear of God should quicken us to avoid,

2. Examples contrary to Sobriety. Under this head of Sobriety, may be comprehended the Duties of Chastity and Temperance. The fear of God, should fortifie against Examples con­trary hereto. Are others Unchast, Unclean, Filthy, Lascivious in their Words or Actions? We should heartily say, so dare not I, be­cause [Page 53] of the Fear of God who says, Thou shalt not commit Adultery: Flee Fornication: Whore­mongers and Adulterers God will Judge: Fornica­tors and Adulterers shall not Inherit the Kingdom of God. Eph. 4.29. Let no corrupt communica­tion proceed out of your Mouth. Again, are o­thers Drunkards? Do Men or Women make themselves bruitish, or worse than bruitish by Intemperance? so dare not I, because of the Fear of God who has said Take heed lest your hearts are at any time over-charged with surfeiting or drunkenness, Luke 21.34. He also has said, Wo to Drunkards, Drunkards shall not Inherit the Kingdom of God. Nay, tho' others do not Reel and Stagger with Drunkenness, yet, do they drink to Excess, drink more than does them good, Pint after Pint, Quart after Quart, Bottle after Bottle: Or do they drink so as to doze and hurt themselves, tho' they dont Stagger and Vo­mit? so dare not I, because of the Fear of God who has said, Isai. 5.22. Wo to them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink, Amos 6.1, 6. Wo — to them that drink wine in Bowls, Hab. 2.15. Wo unto him that giveth his Neighbour d [...]ink, that pu [...] ­test thy Bottle to him, that makest him drunken also. Oh how many Woes has God denounc'd against Drunkards, strong-headed excessive Drinkers, against vain Tipling Companions? Nay further, Do others take methods that plainly tend to Intemperance, tho' possibly as yet they have not Staggered nor Wallowed in their Vomit? Have they a vicious practice of drinking Drams often? Or do they when [Page 54] their Day-work is over, make a trade of Meet­ing at Taverns, there Idly spending their Time and Money tho' they have no real business there? Or do they on every Payment of Money, hasten to a Tavern to Solemnize that affair by needless Drinking? Are these the practices of some? We should with our Hearts and Consciences say, so dare not I, because of the Fear of God who has said, Be harmless, blameless, unrebukable. Whatso­ever things are Just, Honest, Pure, of good re­port, if there be any vertue or praise, think on these things, Phil. 4.8. Abstain from the Ap­pearance of evil, hate the Garments spotted with the flesh. Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise; redeeming the time, Eph. 5.15, 16. Let any of your Consciences Judge, whether these ill practices I have mention'd, are consistent with walking circumspectly, and with such a redeeming of the time, as will be com­fortable to reflect on in a dying Hour and Judgment Day. The examples of others, should not lead us to any thing wounding to our own Consciences.

The Fear of God should quicken us to avoid,

3. Examples of Unrighteousness. We should be Just and Righteous in our whole beha­viour towards Men; not wronging them in their Persons, Names or Estates. Do others Rob or Steal? We should heartily say, so dare not I, because of the Fear of God who be▪ said, Thou shalt nor Steal. Thieves shall not [Page 55] Inherit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. Do others Lye Cheat, Defraud, Extort, Oppress, needlesly lie long in Debt to the great Injury of their Creditors? Are others so False to their Words, Promises, Ingagements, that there's no regard to be had to what they say? Do others act thus? We should heartily say, so dare not I, because of the Fear of God who has said, Lye not one to another, Speak every man the truth with his Neighbour. That no man go beyond or defraud his Brother in any matter; be­cause the Lord is the Avenger of all such. 1 Thes. 4.6. Owe no man any thing, but to love one ano­ther, Rom. 13.8. We should have our Con­versation in Simplicity and Godly Sincerity, 2 Cor. 1.12. For Men to make plain Pro­mises and Ingagements, when they have no rational prospect, or it may be no true de­sign, to fulfill them; let your Consciences Judge, whether this is to act in Simplicity and godly Sincerity. No, 'tis fallacious dealing, 'tis too much an Imitating the Devil that grand deceiver, 'tis vile deceit; the Fear of God should restrain us from it. Would we be willing, to be thus gull'd and deceiv'd by false Promises our selves? If not, surely we should not serve others so. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, Mat, 7.12. Again, do some neglect Family Government and Instruction, bringing up their Young Ones Ignorantly, Idly, Disorderly; Suffering them to be rude, vicious, to be from home at unseasonable times of Night, to keep bad company, and the like? We should heartily say, so dare not I, because [Page 56] of the Fear of God who has said, Bring up Children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; train up a Child in the way he should go. So, as to Children and Servants, is the Fear of God in your hearts? It should be there, and should restrain you from following ill Examples. Possibly you know such and such Children and Servants, that are very unruly, disorderly, untractable; it may be they're sawcy, disobedient, unfaithful to Parents and Masters, they take a lawless Liberty in many things; and will you plead their Example that you may do so too? God forbid. In­stead of pleading or Imitating their ill Exam­ples, you should rather say as in our Text, So did not I, (yea, so dare not I) because of the Fear of God. The like might be said, in numberless other cases.


From what has been said, we may Infer,

1. Those who Indulge themselves in known ways of wickedness, have no true Fear of God in their Hearts. Psal. 36.1. The transgression of the wicked saith within mine heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. And indeed ma­ny such there are. Such are Liars, Drunkards, Fornicators, Thieves, Profaners of Gods holy Name and Day, Oppressors, Extortioners, Revilers, &c. Those who live in a Course and Trade of known, allowed Wickedness, are open Ene­mies to Heaven, whatever Professions or Pretences they make to the contrary. The [Page 57] Tree is known by its Fruit. Though they pro­fess to know God, yet in works they deny him; being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Tit. 1.16. Indeed they practi­cally bid Defiance to the God that made them, they trample on his Authority; they brave and challenge the Almighty (running on the thick Bosses of his Buckler) as tho' his Wrath would not or could not hurt them. Such a Practice comprehends in it, presump­tuous, daring Wickedness, unnutterable Fol­ly, and tends to Everlasting Destruction.

2. Ill Examples can't excuse us if we imi­tate them. Our being tempted to Sin, won't Indemnify us if we comply. Not the Practice of Men, but the Law of God, should be our Rule. The customs of the People are vain, Jer. 10.3. If we imitate the Sins of others, we may expect to share in their Plagues.

3. We should greatly cherish the Fear of Gad in our own Hearts. We should therefore, at no time dare to affront our Consciences, in doing what they plainly declare to be sinful; or omitting what they testify agreeably to Gods Word, to be Duty. We should also be much in Prayer, that God would help us sincerely and constantly to Fear him; Psal. 86.11. Teach me thy way, O Lord, I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. Psal. 119.133. Order my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. We should also Meditate much on Gods Word, store it up in our Minds and Memories as much as we can; Psal. 119.11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

[Page 58]

Sermon, IV. THE Day of LIFE Improv'd, before the Night of Death comes.


I must work the Works of him that sent me, while it is Day: The Night com­eth when no Man can work.

THese Words were spoken by our Holy Redeemer, when he was about to work a Miracle. The Context tells us, that our Saviour saw a Man Blind from his Birth; and that he miraculously gave Sight to him. When our Saviour saw this Blind Man, his Disciples ask'd him, v 2. Who sinned, this Man or his Parents, that he is born blind? They reckon'd, that some extraordinary Sin had [Page 59] procured this extraordinary Affliction of Blind­ness. v. 3. Jesus answered, neither hath this Man sinned, nor his Parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. The meaning is, 'twas no remarkable, extraordi­nary Sin, either in this Man or his Parents that procured this remarkable extraordinary Affliction, of his being born Blind. God sees so much Sin in any, in all, in the best, that he can without any Injustice or Unrighteousness bring great and remarkable Afflictions on them; Witness, Job. All meer Men are Sinners, and the Wages of Sin is Death, even Eternal Death; and all that Men have on this side such Misery, is better than they de­serve. It is of the Lords Mercy that we are not consumed. — Wherefore doth a living Man complain, a Man for the punishment of his Sins? Lam. 3.22, 39. Our Lord having answered Negatively, that it was no particular, remar­kable Sin, that procured this remarkable Af­fliction of this Person's being born Blind; he then answers Affirmatively, giving the special Reason of it, viz. That the works of God should be made manifest in him. The meaning seems to be plainly this, The special Reason of Gods ordering this Person to be born Blind was, that Jesus Christ the Son of God, might have this special Opportunity and Occasion, to manifest his own divine, miraculous Power, in giving Sight unto him; and by this Mi­racle (together with many others) confirm his own divine Mission and Doctrine. And there­fore he adds in our Text, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is Day.

[Page 60]As if he had said,

‘God, my Eternal Father (whose only begotten Eternal Son I am) has sent me into the World to Redeem Sinners, to teach them the Way of Life and Salvation; and has commissioned me to work Miracles, to confirm this Mission, and the truly Divine Doctrine which I Preach: This is the Work God has sent me about, and this Work I must follow, while the Day of Life lasteth. Therefore I'll give Sight to this blind Man, that by this Miracle (as well as many others) ye may know that God has sent me, that the Doctrine I Preach is true, that I am the true and only Saviour of Sinners, long ago foretold by the Prophets.’

Though our Saviour was to Die for the Redemption of Sinners, and rise from the Dead, and so manifest himself to be the Son of God with Power; yet before this Night of Death came, he would take all proper Opportunities to do the Work God had sent him about, to Preach Divine Truths, and confirm them by Miracles. And in the close of the Verse, gives a general Reason which extends to all Men, viz. The Night cometh when no Man can work. The Day, while the Sun gives Light, is the most convenient time for Men to Work in: The dark Night renders it impossible for them to follow at least some sorts of Work. In allu­sion to what is thus universally known to, and regarded by Men, our Saviour compares the time of Mans Life in this World, to the [Page 61] Day and Death to the Night; and plainly in­timates, that Men should diligently mind and perform the Work God requires of them, while the Day of Life lasts, before the Night of Death puts a stop to their Work. From the Words therefore we may observe this

DOCTRINE. Men should diligently do the Work of God, while the Day of Life lasts; because the Night of Death comes, wherein no Man can work.

Here are Three Propositions, viz.

I. The Night of Death is coming on all Men.

II. When this Night comes, no Man can work.

III. Therefore Men should diligently do the Work of God, while the Day of life lasteth.

PROP. I. The Night of Death is coming on all Men.

Death seems undeniably to be meant, by the Night spoken of in our Text. When Night comes, that's the proper Time for Sleeping; and so Death it self is sometimes compar'd to Sleep. Psal. 13.3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of Death. Psal. 76.5. The stout-hearted are spoiled, — they have slept their sleep. That is, they are Dead. And as Death is compar'd to Sleep; so in our Text [Page 62] 'tis compar'd to Night, the proper Time for Sleep. Death may be compar'd to Night, inasmuch as then Men commonly cease from Working: Psal. 104.23. Man goeth forth to his Work and to his Labour, until the Even­ing. When Night comes, Men commonly leave Working, especially without Doors: Some Works can't be done in the Night. So, when Death comes, Men can work no more (as the next Proposition will show) and on this account it may be compar'd to the Night.

Now this Night, to wit, of Death, is com­ing on all Men The Day of Life lasts but a while with them, the Night of Death is approaching to all Men. 'Tis appointed for Men once to die, Heb. 9.27. This is the Sta­tute-Law of Heaven, no Man can avoid or evade the Force of it. No Man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of Death, and there is no Discharge in that war, Eccl. 8.8. Though the Earth abides for ever, yet the Inhabitants of it do not; for one Generation goes and another comes. Men are Born to Die: Sin has made Men Mortal, the Body is Dead because of Sin. By one Man sin entered into the world, and Death by sin; and so Death hath passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned, Rom. 5.12. All are Sinners, and therefore all must Die; the Godly and Ungodly must Die. Psal. 49.10. He seeth that the wise Men die, likewise the Fool, and the bruitish Person pe­rish. Indeed, the Saints found Alive when [Page 63] Christ comes to Judgment, shall not Die; but shall suddenly be Changed, and be like the glorious, raised Saints, 1 Cor. 15.51, 52. But excepting those then remaining alive, all must have their Bodies and Souls parted from one another. Men and Women, Young and Old, High and Low, Rich and Poor, Learned and Unlearned, Godly and Ungod­ly; all must Die: They must Sleep the Sleep of Death: The Night of Death will soon overtake them. And how soon it will over­take any particular Persons, they don't know: Tho' Death certainly will come, yet 'tis uncertain how soon. Isaac once said, Gen. 27.2. I know not the day of my Death. Every one that can speak, may truly say the same of himself. Prov. 27.1 Boast not thy self of to morrow, thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. So, Jam. 4.14. Ye know not what shall be on the morrow: For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away. The Day of Life is like a Vapour, a Smoak or Fog; no one knows how soon it may disappear and be gone. It is evident therefore, that the Night of Death is coming on all Men, though none of them know how near it may be to them.

PROP. II. When this Night comes, no Man can work.

As we have hinted once and again, when Night comes Men commonly cease from Work; some Works especially must then be left. [Page 64] So, when Men Die, then their working Time is ended for ever. When Men Die, they don't cease to be, their Souls, subsist in a separate State. When the Wicked Die, their Souls go to Hell Torments, till the Resurrection of their Bodies; at which time, their Bodies and Souls together shall be cast into Hell for ever. When the Godly Die, their Souls go into Abrahams Bosom, that is, into Heaven; and there follow that blessed and happy Work, which God appoints them: In [...] Work they shall be employed till the Resurrection of their Bodies; and then their Re­united Bodies and Souls, shall be eternally and inconceivably Happy and Blessed. But notwithstanding all this, yet when the Night of Death comes, no Man can work. That is, he can no more, no longer do any of those Works which are proper and peculiar to this World, to this present state of Life upon Earth. When a Man Dies he ceases from all the exter­nal Works, Affairs, Concerns of this Life. He's never more concerned abo [...] Plowing, Sowing, Reaping, Merchandizing, or any other such out­ward Affairs. Psal. 146.4. His breath goeth forth, he [...]urneth to his earth; on that very day [...] perish. When his Breath goes forth, then all his Thoughts, Plots, Schemes, Contrivances about worldly Matters, they pe­ [...]sh, they cease for ever; he's no more con­cern'd about these Matters. Eccl. 9.10. There is [...]o work, nor device, [...] [...]nowledge, nor wisdom in the grace whither thee [...]. Nay, when the Night of Death comes, then Men can do no [...]re for the Everlast [...]n [...] Welfare of their Souls. [Page 65] In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be, Eccl. 11.3. So, according as Men Die in the state of saving Faith, or damning Unbelief; so it is like to be with them for ever. It is ap­pointed for Men once to die, and after Death the Judgment, Heb. 9.27. When Men Die, their Souls go to their particular Judgment, and are doom'd to a state of Misery or Glory, accord­ing to what their Works and Behaviour in this World were. When Pious Lazarus Died, his Soul went to Abraham's Bosome, to a state of Happiness: When the wicked Rich Man Di­ed, his Soul was sent to Hell-Torments, and the great Gulf was then fixed; he was stak'd down (as it were) in Misery, he could not possibly escape or get out of it, Luk. 16.22, &c. He was beyond the Possibility of Mercy, all his Cries, Prayers, Tears could not obtain the least Relief for him. He beg'd for one small Drop of Water (as much as would hang on the tip of a Finger) to cool his tormented Tongue; but could not obtain it. 'Twas but a small thing he ask [...]d for; he did not ask to be Re­leas'd from those scorching Flames, nor ask that some living Spring or running River of Wa­ter might be afforded for his Relief: No, he ask'd only for one Drop, a small Pittance indeed, and yet could not get it. Oh, there's not one Drop of Mercy for those that Die Christless and Graceless, though they plead and beg never so much for it. If Death finds a Man Christless, the Day, the Season for working out his Sal­vation, is ended for ever. Time was, that if he had heartily Repented of Sin, Believed in Christ, and given up himself to him; it would [Page 66] have been for his advantage, he should have been accepted, pardoned, saved for ever. But the Graceless Sinner, will not do any such works as these after Death; no Invitations of Grace or offers of Pardon, will then be made to him. No, now is the accepted time, now [...] the day of salvation: to day while it is called to day, if ye will hearken to his voice, harden not your hearts. When a graceless Sinner dies, the things of his peace are hidden from his eyes for ever. After death, Men can do no­thing to prepare for Eternity: nothing to­wards the obtaining of peace with God, and endless happiness in his favour. If Men ob­tain peace with God in their Life time, then death can't take it away. Death can't sepa­rate them from the love of God. But if peace with God be not obtain'd before death, it can never be had at all. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, Rev. 14.13. It is as true, Cursed are the dead that die out of the Lord, alie­nated from him by reigning wickedness. Tis evident therefore, that when the Night of death comes, no Man can work.

PROP. III. Therefore Men should diligently do the work of God, while the day of Life lasteth.

Here are Two Things.

(1.) There is a work which God sets Men about, or requires of them.

(2.) The thoughts of Death and what follows it, should make them diligent in this work.

[Page 67]1. There is a Work which God sets Men a­bout, or requires of them. God has made all things for himself, he requires a revenue of Glory from all His Creatures, according to the various natures he has endow'd them with. All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy Saints shall bless thee, Psal. 145.10. All Men should Obey God, that in general is the work he requires of them. I'm now speaking more especially of those, who Injoy God's reveal­ed Will, His Written Word: they have greater advantages to know God's Will, and greater Motives to do it, than meer Hea­thens have. God has shewed them what is good, and what he requires of them; To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God, Mic. 6.8. In general, 'tis their duty to believe all that God declares, and to do all that He commands. Thus He said to Israel: Jer. 11.4. — Obey my voice and do them, according to all that I cammand you. Would we know what is the work God requires of us? Tis this in general, That we should obey His Voice, do all that He bids us; yield sincere, universal, unwearied Obedience to His holy Precepts: this is the work He calls us to, and sets us about. And there is One parti­cular Momentous Command of God, which we should Obey, else we can't obey any other so as to find acceptance with Him; and that is, to Believe in Jesus Christ, to ac­cept of and submit to Him on Gospel Terms as Prince and Saviour. 1 Joh. 3.23. This is his commandment, that we should believe in the [Page 68] Name of his Son Jesus Christ. When the Jews ask'd our Saviour, What shall we do that we may work the works of God? He reply'd, This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent, Joh 6.28, 29. This indeed is the work, the great work, the most absolutely necessary work that God calls all under the Gospel unto, and requires of them. Oh Man, Woman, whoever thou art, there's a work, an Important work which the Great GOD calls thee to, and sets thee about, even thee, thee in particular whoever thou art; and this work is, that thou shouldst heartily Repent of all thy Sins, and heartily Submit to the Lord Jesus as the only Prophet, Priest and King of thy Soul. This is the great call of God in the Gospel to thee, if thou dost not heartily. Obey this call, this Com­mand of God; then thou canst not possibly do any one particular work, that he will ac­cept and be pleased with. Heb. 11.6. With­out faith, it is Impossible to please God, Rom. 8.8. They that are in the flesh, (that is, Un­regenerate) cannot please God. And as God requires all under the Gospel, to believe in Christ, accept of Him as Prince and Saviour; so their doing this Implies in it, their taking Him for their Lord and Lawgiver, and so their yielding unfeigned Obedience to his Precepts. The Gospel teaches them, to deny ungodliness and worldly lust; and to live Soberly, Righteuosly, Godlily in this present World, Tit. 2.12. To cleanse thems [...]l [...]es from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7.1. God requires them also, [Page 69] to do the duties of those several Capacities, Stations, Relations which His Providence has set them in. 1 Cor. 7.24. Let every man wherein he is called, therein abide with God. We should heartily do all that God sets us about, relying on His Grace thro' the Medi­ation of Christ for acceptance. This in ge­neral, is the work God sets us about, and requires of all under the Gospel.

2. The thoughts of Death and what follows, should make them diligent in this work. All of us should be greatly mov'd and quicken'd, speedily and heartily to Repent of all our Sins, to Believe in the Lord Jesus, submitting to Him on Gospel Terms. The calls and offers of the Gospel will soon be ended with us; therefore we should forthwith hate and forsake all our Sins, and give up our selves to the unfeigned, constant practice of God­liness. We can't possibly be too speedy, hearty, diligent, resolute, constant in this work, this necessary work. This indeed is the One Thing needful, the great Impor­tant business we should be chiefly concern'd about. We should show unutterable Folly, and be unspeakably Miserable, if we neglect this work till the Night of Death overtakes us. What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mat. 16.26. Many are greedy after much of the World, as tho' they could never have enough of it; but if a person might be sup­pos'd to gain the whole World, and yet lose [Page 70] his Soul by neglecting the work of God, he would then be a most miserable loser. Those who entertain'd themselves with worldly pleasures and profits, tho' they had never so great a measure of them; yet by neglecting to get into the Ark, they perished when the Flood drowned the old World. So, if Men get never so much of this World's good, yet if they neglect the work of God, neg­lect getting an Interest in Christ, till the Night of Death comes, then they'l perish for ever. How often are Servants beaten, and that very justly, for Playing, for Idling away their Day-time, not doing what their Masters bid them; and when Night comes on, their Stint, their Work is not done? God sets us a Ta [...]k to do, and a most reasonable pro­fitable Task it is; but if we stand all the day Idle neglecting our business till the Night of Death comes, we shall then be beaten, and that most Justly and terribly with many Stripes. Our tender hearted Redeemer, once wept over Jerusalem for neglecting the things of their Peace in the proper Season of them, saying, Luk. 19.41, 42. If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are had from there eyes. The day of Gods Pati­ence is yet extended to us, He waits to be Gracious; but i [...] in this our day we neg­lect the things of our Peace, we're then un­done for ever: it would have been good for us that we had never been born. It's said of Jerusalem, Lam. 1.9. —— She remembreth not her latter end, therefore she came down won­derfully: [Page 71] She had no comforter. Surely, those will come down wonderfully, down indeed, down to hell it self; and will have no com­forter, who dont remember their latter end so as to prepare for it. Well then, let us work the work of God, while it is Day; be­cause the Night comes wherein no Man can work.

Here therefore a few things may be men­tion'd, by way both of Motive and Direction, viz. Seriously consider,

1. Death most certainly will come, and 'tis un­certain how soon. This is so plain a Truth, that doubtless none will dare to deny it; yet 'tis not so duely and seriously thought on as it should be. Oh let us daily think of Death, let it be often in our Thoughts: our thinking daily and frequently on it, need not take up our Time so as to hinder us from any proper business. Death will most certainly come. It may be we sometimes fear these and those Outward troubles, think they will come, yet 'tis not certain that they'll come, possibly they may not. But as for Death, it certainly will come, whether we expect and fear it or no, yet it will come, there's no escaping it. Yea, 'tis coming near­er and nearer to us, every Day, Hour and Moment. The longer it is since Sun rise, the nearer it is to Sun-set. Every time the Clock-strikes, it shows that so much of the Day is gone already; and therefore there is the less remaining before Night comes. Every step we take, and every breath we draw, [Page 72] brings us so much nearer to the end of our Time, of our Life. But as it's certain Death will come, and that 'tis every Moment ap­proaching nearer to us; yet 'tis uncertain how near it may be. Many are apt to put far a­way the evil Day, when they think of Death, they still think of it as at some Years distance: But alas, Such Thoughts are groundless. As 'tis commonly said, Old Man must die; so 'tis as true, Young Man may die. The Young and Stout and Strong, are often suddenly cut down by the Stroke of Death. Art thou Young and Strong? Possibly Death may not come to thee for these several Years; yet on the other hand, thou dost not know that thou hast a Day longer to live. The Rich Sensualist in the Gospel, reckon'd upon living many Years, to eat drink and be merry; but God said to him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee, Luk. 12.19, 20. He was a Fool, for flattering himself with thoughts of long Life, when he knew not how near Death was to him. It's probable, there are many such Fools in the World. Oh, What Sciences do they form in their own Minds? They reckon upon long Life, they plot and contrive to buy and sell and get Gain; to get such and such desirable Enjoyments, to obtain much worldly Grandeur and Plea­sure; but Death comes and nips them in the Bud, cuts them off before ever they pos­sess'd what they thus vainly promis'd to themselves. Therefore let us meditate much on the certainty of Death, and the uncertainty when 'twill come: This tends to quicken us [Page 73] to the Work of the Day in the Day. If a Person would seriously think thus,

‘I don't know but this Day may be my last Day, I don't know that I shall have any more Time to prepare for an endless Eternity in; I don't know but God may require my Soul of me, and doom me to an Eternal State before I'm a Day older.’

I say, if he would frequently thus think with himself, doubtless he would not omit Duty and commit Sin, so readily as he often does. To think when we go to Bed, I don't know that I shall live till Morning; and when we rise in the Morning, I don't know that I shall live till Evening: Surely thus to think, tends to make Persons serious, and to make them mind their Duty. Deut. 32.29. O that they were wise, that they under­stood this, that they would consider their latter end. 'Tis a great Point of Wisdom, and tends to make Persons yet more Wise, seri­ously to consider their latter End; seriously to consider Death, and what's like to follow after it. Psal. 90.12. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to Wis­dom. If we would but seriously consider, that much of our precious Time is gone already, and we know not how little remains; this surely would make us do better than we often do. Again, let us consider,

2. The Eye of God our Judge is continually upon us. Servants will often work diligently [Page 74] while their Master's Eye is on them, though they are too often Idle when he is absent, Well, the Great GOD our Maker is our Judge; he'll call us to an Account for all our Thoughts, Words and Deeds in this World. Eccl. 12.14. God will bring every work into Judgment, with every secret thing, whe­ther it be good or evil. Now this God who will Judge all Men according to their Works, has his Eye continually upon all Men: He critically observes all their Thoughts, Words and Actions. The Eyes of the Lord are in eve­ry place, beholding the evil and the good, Prov. 15.3. There is no Good nor Evil done by Men, but what God takes exact Notice of. His Eyes are upon the Ways of all the Children of Men; there's not a Word in their Tongue, but he knows it, altogether; yea, he knows the things that come into their Minds, even every one of them. He searches the Hearts, tries the Reins of the Chil­dren of Men, even every one of them; to give to every one according to his ways, and ac­cording to the fruit of his doings, Jer. 17.10. How often does the Presence of a Parent or Master, or some grave Superior, Restrain Per­sons from ill Practices, and Incite them to a proper Behaviour? Surely then, if we fre­quently and seriously consider'd, that the Eye of God, our Holy and Glorious Judge is al­ways upon us, and that we know not how soon Death and Judgment will come; this would tend to quicken us to our Work, while the Day of Life lasteth.

[Page 75]3. Let us not allow our selves in any thing now, which we cannot reflect on with Comfort in a dying Hour. Men should do nothing in the Day, but what in their serious Evening Thoughts, they may Reflect on without any Sting, or Regret of Conscience. So, Men should allow themselves in nothing while here in this Day of Life, which they cannot reflect and think on with Comfort, when Death looks them in the Face, and God calls them into Judgment. If thou wast now dangerously Sick, didst apprehend Death very near thee, and thy soul speedily to be doom'd to an Eternal State; if it were thus, couldst thou reflect with Comfort upon thine Impenitence, thy neglecting of Christ, thy shameful neglect of reading and studying Gods Word, thy neglect of Ordinances, Baptism or the Lords-Supper, thy neglect of Secret Prayer, or Family Prayer? Couldst thou reflect with Comfort on thy In­temperance, thy needlesly spending thy Time and Money at Taverns, on thy unclean Practices, on thy Injustice and Unrighteousness in thy Deal­ings, thy whiffling, shuffling, cheating Tricks, on thy Promise-beaking, on thy careless, slothful neg­lecting the Duties of thy Particular Calling, or the Duties of those Particular Relations, whe­ther of Husband, Wife, Parent, Child, Master or Ser­vant, which thou dost sustain: I say, if thou didst apprehend the Night of Death and the Dooming Judgment very near, couldst thou se­riously Reflect with Comfort on such things as these? No surely, thou couldst not. Well them, think seriously of the Matter; [Page 76] and [...] allow thy self in nothing now, which thou canst not think of with Comfort when Death comes. Frequently consider with thy self, What Thoughts shall I have of these and those Ways and Practices of mine, when Death looks me in the Face; can I then re­flect on them with Peace and Comfort? And if they won't afford thee Peace at last, then don't allow them now. Consider on the o­ther hand, if thou dost now diligently and heartily strive to please God in all thy Ways; this will yield thee Comfort in After-Re­flections. This is our rejoycing, even the testi­mony of our Conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the Grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, 2 Cor. 1.12. It's peaceable, comfortable, joyful to look back on a life carefully spent in the Service of God. When the Apostle could say, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith; when he could thus reflect on what was past, he could then look forward with holy Courage and Comfort, and say, hence­forth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteous­ness, 2 Tim. 4.7, 8.

4. Let us get our Hearts more and more weaned, from Worldly Profits and Pleasures. We are too apt to look on this World as our home, as our resting place, and to reckon on a long abode here, and so to crave greedily after Worldly Injoyments; and these things hin­der us from working the works of God. Let as therefore consider, the Night of Death is [Page 77] coming on apace; we must soon part from this World, the Places that now know us will know us no more: we must soon leave our Houses, our Gardens, Orchards, our whole Estates; our dearest Relatives and we must soon part. We brought nothing into this World, and 'tis certain we can carry nothing out, 1 Tim. 6.7. Let these Considerations wean us from this World. Why should we set our Eyes or Hearts, on things that are not? Col. 3.2. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. The more our Hearts are weaned from Worldly Profits and Pleasures; the more likely we shall be to work the works of God while it is Day.

5. Let us neglect nothing now, which we should be loath should he left undone when Death comes. We know not how soon Death may arrest us; well, is there this, that, or the other thing which we would not have undone, unaccomplished when Death comes? If so, then let us do those things speedily. As to Outward concerns, I would give this one Hint; those who have any Estate to dispose of by Will, should always keep a Will by them: Death will come never the sooner for this. And when they have a Will by them, if Death should Suddenly snatch them away; yet such their Will might prevent many Sinful Jan­gles and Quarrels among their Surviving Relatives. But further, wouldst thou have Death come, before thou hast Assurance of thine Interest in Christ? If not, then spee­dily and diligently seek after Assurance. [Page 78] 2 Pet. 1.10. Give diligence to make your Calling and Election sure. If Death should come spee­dily, would it not grieve thee that thou hast not honoured God more with thy Substance, thy Estate; that thou hast not done more for the Spiritual good of thy Relatives, thy Wife, Chil­dren, Servants, Neighbours? Well then, spee­dily and carefully do all those things, which thou wouldest be unwilling should be found undone, unperformed, when Death comes; that when it does come, thou mayst have nothing particularly to lie on thy Conscience (no unrepented Sin, no neglected Duty) to be a grief and trouble to thee; but mayst quietly say with him. Luk. 2.29. Lord, now [...]ettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace.

[Page 79]

Sermon, V. Wholsome COUNSELS and WARNINGS, Occasion'd By the SIN of YOƲNG MEN.

I SAM II. 17.

Wherefore the Sin of the Young Men, was very great before the Lord.

ALL meer Men since the Fall of Adam, are Sinners by Nature, shapen in Ini­quity and conceived in Sin. Yea all meer Men while living in this World, are more or less Sinners by Practice too: For there's not [Page 80] a just Man upon Earth, that doth good and sin­neth not, Eccl. 7.20. Yet there are some Persons, more eminently, abundantly, re­markably Wicked than others: they allow themselves in very heinous, crying, scanda­lous Abominations, working wickedness with greediness. Such vile Transgressors, were these Young Men spoken of in our Text. These Young Men were not professed Infidels and Heathen; no, they were Israelites, Chil­dren of God's Covenant, enjoy'd His Revealed Will, His Holy Oracles; they were some of His Professing People, they had receiv'd Circumcision the Soul of God's Holy Covenant. Nay more than this, they were Children of a godly Father, of Eli. They were Eli's Sons. ver. 12. Eli was a Priest of God, the High Priest at this time: he also was Judge of Israel. chap. 4. ver. 18. By the account we have of Eli in Scripture, he seems to have been a very godly Man, tho' criminally In­dulgent to his Sons, very faulty in not duly witnessing against their vile Abominations; for which neglect of his▪ God threatned such Judgments to him, and his Family, as should make both the Ears of them that heard them to tangle, 1 Sam. 3.11. Eli being a godly Man, a Minister, a Priest, it's very proba­ble he gave his Sons a pious Education, godly Instructions and Exhortations. We find that he once reprov'd them, tho' not with that sharpness and severity which their Crimes deserv'd, 2 Sam. 23, 24. Therefore tho' he did not restrain and punish them as he should have done; yet it seems more [Page 81] than probable, that he gave them very godly Counsels, Instructions, Admonitions. But notwithstanding these Sons of Eli had so good a Father, were Children of the Cove­nant, were Circumcis'd, were doubtless pi­ously instructed; yea, tho' they were Mini­ners, Priests by Birth and Office; yet they were notoriously and abominably wicked. 'Tis here said, ver. 12. They were Sons of Belial (signify­ing, the most scandalous Sinners, such us would not bear the Yoke of Government and good Order) that they knew not the Lord. That is, they wickedly and scandalously disobey'd Him, liv'd as tho' they knew nothing of His Commands; or were not oblig'd to regard them. These Young Priests not only took their own share of the Sacrifices, but they would have it unseasonably too; even before Gods part was Offered and Burnt to Him, ver. 16. Yea, they also forcibly took from the Offerers, part of what belong'd to them, ver. 13, 14. Yea they were so abominably wicked, that they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the Tabernacle, ver. 22. Horribly daring and Impudent they were, in their Fornications and Adulteries, those cursed Practices. So scandalously wicked they were, as that 'tis said in this Verse con­taining our Text, Men abhorred the Offering of the Lord. Men abhorred to bring Sacri­fices, which must pass thro' the hands of such wicked abominable Ministers, Priests, as these were. Our Text therefore says of these Young Men, their Sin was very great before the Lord. Their Sin was before the Lord, [Page 82] it was under His Eye and in His Sight, as indeed the Sins of all Men are. For the Eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good, Prov. 15.3. Many Thiefts, Fornications, Adulteries, Murders, and other abominable Crimes, are committed Secretly as to Men; the Crimes are a long time, if not always conceal'd from the Publick notice of Men; but no Sins are Secret as to God. He knows what is done at Midnight in the darkest corner, as well as what is done at Noon Day on the House top. But this phrase, before the Lord, does here more probably signify, that these Young Men Sinn'd thus abominably at the Tabernacle, the House of God, the place of His special Pre­sence and holy Worship; at the Taberna­cle, where the Ark that Symbol of God's speci­al presence was. And so 'tis justly mention'd as a great aggravation of their impudent wickedness. That they should be thus wicked at the very Door of Gods House, where People came to Worship the Holy and Heart-searching God; this was high and impudent wickedness indeed: It's not easy for Words to paint out such Crimes in their just Colours. It is Criminal at any time, to harbour and nourish wicked thoughts in our hearts; but it is an high aggravation of the Crime, to nourish such thoughts in the House of God, in the time and place of His Holy Worship: and more abomina­ble still, at such a time and place, openly to perpetrate what such indulged Lusts do move for.

[Page 83]But the Observation design'd from the Words, is this, viz.

DOCTRINE. Sometimes, those who have had a Pious Educa­tion, and special Means us'd to make them Religious; do yet prove grosly and scanda­lously Wicked even in their Youth.

Our Text and Context, yield a plain proof of this sorrowful Truth. These Men were Young Man, tho' what their particular Age at this time was we dont exactly know. 'Tis certain, they had means to know God's revealed Will (it was part indeed of their Office work to teach it to others, Mal. 2.7.) They were brought up under the Means of Grace: they had had good Methods us'd to make them Religious; yet they proved o­therwise, they were scandalously Wicked. Alas, it is too often thus▪ Indeed the way of our Duty is prescribed, Prov. 22.6. Train up a Child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it. Christian Parents should bring up their Chil­dren in the mixture and admonition of the Lord, Eph. 6.4. They should do their utmost to Train them up in right ways: this is their Duty, and the best Method they can take, to make their Children take right Courses when grown up, if they live to it. Yet such pious Endeavours, dont always prove successful. Sometimes the Children of E­minently [Page 84] Pious Parents, Children that have had eminent means us'd, and great pains taken with them, to make them truly and practically Religious; do yet prove scan­dalously and abominably wicked. Pious A­braham, did command his Children and Houshold after him, to keep the way of the lord, Gen. 18.19. Yet his Son Ishmael, was a Mocker of his Brother Isaac. It is probable, that he wickedly mock'd and scoff'd at him for pre­tending to be Heir of God's Promise; for the Apostle calls this Mocking, Persecution. Com­pare, Gen. 21.9. with Gal. 4.29. Isaac was a very godly Man, and doubtless gave pious Instructions to his Children, yet his Son E­sau prov'd a Profane Person, and despised his Birthright, Heb. 12.16. No doubt but Pi­ous Jacob, gave goldly Education and In­struction to his Children; yet abominable Crimes were committed by several of them. Simeon and Levi, barbarously Murdered the Shechemites; hypocritically prostituted Cir­cumcision (the Seal of God's Covenant) as a means to fulfil their revenge, Gen. chap. 34. Another of Jacobs Sons, Reuben his First-born, was guilty of Incestuous wickedness, of Uncleanness with his Fathers Wife, Gen. 35.22. Samuel was an holy Prophet, a religious and righteous Judge in Israel, and doubtless gave the best Counsels and Instructions to his Children (as well as set an eminent Exam­ple before them) yet his Sons were very wicked. They walk'd not in his ways, but turned aside after Lucre, and took Bribes, and perverted Judgment, 1 Sam. 8.3. The Daughters of [Page 85] Pious Lot, were so wicked as to make their Father Drunk, that when he was thus besotted he might be Unclean with them, and he was so. Gen. 19.30,—38. Godly David, had a Son Amnon who committed an Incestuous Rape, he forc'd his own Sister; for which wicked Fact, Absalom (another Son of David) Murder'd him, 2 Sam. 13, 14, 28, 29. After­wards, this Absolom rebelled against his Royal Father and would have destroyed him; but he himself died in the Rebellion. These sorrowful Instances now related, prove the Truth of our Doctrine: yea it is too often prov'd, by woful sorrowful Experience from time to time. How often do the Children of professed Christians, who have been Bap­tized, brought up under the Means of Grace, had good Family-Instruction, had good Ex­amples set before them; I say, how often do such, fall into vile, scandalous Abomina­tions? How often are such Persons guilty, possibly of Fornication, Stealing, Profaning God's Holy Name or Day, Drunkenness and other hei­nous Abominations? It is sorrowful and lamentable to consider, that Family In­structions, good Examples, precious Ser­mons have wrought no more good in them; but that notwithstanding the precious Means they have enjoyed, yet they often become scandalously Wicked even while they are Young. Well, when such sinful, sorrowful things happen, What is the Improvement to be made thereof.

[Page 86]

QUESTION. What are the Counsels, Instrustions, Cautions, Warnings proper to be given o [...] such Occasions?


I shall Indeavour to mention a few.

These things show us,

1. That it is not in the power of meer Instruments or Means tho' never so good, to work restraining, (much less, saving) Grace in the Hearts of any. 'Tis justly to be accounted a great favour, to enjoy the Means of Grace; there is no Salvation without the Means. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, Rom. 10.17. Yet the best Means that can be used for the good of Souls, will prove in­effectual; unless God adds his efficacious Blessing. If Young Persons have never so good Instructions given them, never so good Examples set before them in the Family, or by the Neighbours; if they are never so well advantaged as to Publick Ordinances, yet nothing but Divine Almighty Grace can restrain them from Sinning, or make them truly Holy. It was God that kept back A­bimelech from sinning, Gen. 20.6. Whoever plants or waters, yet none but God can give the Increase, 1 Cor. 3.6, 7 If Ministerial weapons (or Indeavours) are us'd never so faithfully; yet 'tis only thro' God (by His efficacious blessing on them) that they are Instrumental to pull down the strong holds of Sin and Satan, to cast down Imaginations — and to bring into Captivity every thought to the [Page 87] obedience of Christ, 2 Cor▪ 10.4, 5. It is said of Lydia, That the Lord opened her heart, that she hearkened to the things that were spoken by Paul, Act. 16.4. Tho' Paul was such an E­minent Apostle, such an Eminent Ambassador of Christ (labouring more abundantly than others, Cor. 15.10.) yet he might have Preach'd long enough and Lydia got no good by it, if God (who has all hearts in his hand, and can turn them as the Rivers of water) had not opened her heart to receive the Truths Preached. Let us learn then, to prize and value Means and diligently to attend on them ('tis our duty so to do) but let us not trust in them, but trust in God alone for a bles­sing, Parents, besides diligently giving the best Instructions to their Children; should earnestly and constantly Pray, that God would give restraining, yea Saving Grace unto them. So, Ministers should not only declare Gods Mind as plainly as ever they can to their People; but they also should earnestly Pray to God for all that Success they desire. The best Means will do no good without Gods blessing.

2. We should grieve and mourn for the scan­dalous Transgressions of others. We should grieve and mourn firstly and chiefly for our own Sins: Be ashamed and confounded for our own ways, Ezek. 36.32. Though our hearty Sorrow for Sin should thus begin at home, yet it should not be confin'd there; but look abroad also. We should sigh and cry for all the Abominations committed by those amongst whom we dwell, Ezek. [Page 88] 9.4. David was grie [...]ed for the Transgressions of others, Psal. 119.158. Lot's Righteous Soul was vexed with the filthy Conversation of the wicked, 2 Pet. 2.7, 8. We should grieve for the heinous, scandalous Sins of others,

1. Because God is very greatly Dishonoured thereby. Rom. 2.23. Thou that makest thy boast of the Law; through breaking the Law disho­nourest thou God? When Men break Gods Law by Profane Swearing, vile Cursing, Sabbath-breaking, Drunkeness, Fornication, Lying, Cheat­ing, Stealing, Defrauding, &c. They grievously Dishonour God thereby. They practically scorn and contemn God, despise him, as though he was not worthy to be Regarded or Obeyed by them. David's scandalous Sin, was a despising of Gods Command, 2 Sam. 12.9. And what are our Hearts made of, if they won't grieve and mourn, when the infinitely Glorious GOD is thus despis'd, contemn'd dishonour­ed by bold Transgressors? We should grieve,

2. Because such Scandals tend to Defile and Corrupt others. A little Leaven leavens the whole Lump. The springing up of a Root of bitterness (an evil example) tends to defile many, Heb. 12.15. One sinner destroys much good, Eccl. 9.18. Sometimes one Drunkard, one foul Mouth'd-Person, one profane Swearer or Sabbath breaker, does a world of Mischief in a Place or Neighbourhood by his cursed Ex­ample: Many are in danger of being defil'd and ruin'd thereby. We're distress'd when a Fire breaks out tho' in but One House, lest it [Page 89] should spread and consume many; and when a Mortal contagious Sickness is brought tho' by but One Person into a Town, lest it should Infect and destroy many So, we should grieve and mourn for Scandalous Practices in a Place, left the Sin should spread, and ruin many Souls. We should grieve,

3. Because Sinners wound their our Souls by their Transgressions. We should love our Neigh­bours as our own Souls, and should grieve for what really hurts them, especially for what hurts their Souls. And Sin is the great­est hurt any can do to their own Souls; the wages of it is death, Rom. 6.23. When Paul saw the Prison-keeper going to kill himself with his own Sword, he cry'd out, do thy self no harm, Act. 16.28. Would it not grieve us, to see distracted persons cutting, wounding, gash­ing, burning their own bodies? Why Men are doing worse than this to themselves, to their precious Souls, when they are boldly and presumptuously Sinning against God. They are heaping up loads of guilt, treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, provoking and challenging divine Almighty vengeance, and hastening apace to the Unquenchible flames of Hell (if speedy Repentance prevent not) and should not our very Souls grieve for such things as these? Yes truely. Sin in others, should move our pity to their Persons, our grief and mourning for, and hatred of their offences. And as we should grieve for the Sins of Others, so,

[Page 90]3. We should Indeavour, and pray for, the Re­pentance of those who grievously transgress. Christ came not to call the Righteous, but Sinners to Repentance. Sovereign Grace has sometimes triumph'd in Saving of great Sinners, in gi­ving Repentance and Pardon to Fornicators, Adulterers, Thieves, Drunkards, and other Scan­dalous t [...]sgressors, 1 Cor. 6.9,—11. And free Grace, can yet do as great wonders as ever. Therefore Indeavours are to be us'd even with great Sinners, If paradventure God will give them repentance, 2 Tim. 2.15. There­fore we should warn the unruly (1 Thes. 5.14.) Indeavour to restore such as we fallen, Gal. 6.1. So, Lev. 19.17. Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thine heart, thou shalt in my wise rebuke thy Neighbour; and shalt not suffer sin upon him. None knows, how far God may bless Indeavours for Saving good to great Transgressors. Onesimus (the Servant of Phi­lemon) play'd the Thief, Stole from his Master, ran away, was apprehended and put in Pri­son; and in Prison was Converted by Gods blessing on the Indeavours of the Apostle Paul, who was a Prisoner in the same Place. See the Epistle to Philemon. Surely then, as we have opportunity and ability, we should re­prove offenders, warm them, counsel them, Indeavour to make them sensible of their Sin and Danger, and so bring them to Repentance. So we should Pray to God for them, that He would indeed take away their heart of Stone and give them an heart of Flesh; that He would make them true Penitents. For in every [Page 91] thing, by Prayer and Supplication we should make known our requests to God, Phil. 4.6. Possibly some, when they hear of the great Crimes of others, will readily run out against them, show their ill will against them, but never Pray to God for them; but such, dont do as they ought.

4. We should be thankful for restraining Grace to us and ours, and be more Watchful and Prayer­ful for the future. Have others fallen into great and crying Abominations, thereby de­serving shame, blame and punishment a­mong Men; and laying themselves open to the sore displeasure of God? And have not we and ours been as bad as they? What's the ground of this difference? If we had had the like Opportunities and Temptations with others, and been left to our selves, we should have shown our selves as bad as any of them all. For the Hearts of all the fallen Children of Men are na­turally alike Sinful, deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jer. 17.9. Out of the heart proceed evil Thoughts, Murders, Adulteries, &c. Such Hearts ours are by Nature. And 'tis the undeserved Grace of God, that keeps us and ours from Sinning, so far as we are Restrained. The vile scandalous Crimes of others, do as it were show what is Originally in our Hearts; therefore we should be Thankful, if we and ours have not broken forth into the like Scandals as they are guilty of. Who maketh thee to differ? When you that are Parents and Masters, [Page 92] justly condemn the vile Crimes that any Young Persons are guilty of; consider, 'tis owing to the meer undeserved Grace of God, that you, your Children and Servants, have not fallen into the like or worse Trans­gressions. If you and yours with others, should be in a Boat when it oversets (or in some other great danger) and while they perish, you and yours escape; would you not be Thankful for such singular Preservation? Surely you should. So when you and yours are kept from those Scandalous Crimes, which many others fall into; you should be Thankful for such distinguishing re­straining Grace vouchsafed to you. Again, the Falls of others should quicken us to more Watchfullness and Prayerfulness, lest we fall as they have done. When the Apostle had mention'd sundry gross Sins in others, the Use or Application he makes is, Let him that thinking he standeth, take heed lest he fall, 1 Cor. 10.12. Truly, such things should make us take heed, watch and be careful that we dont offend like them. With reference to the Sins of (and consequent Judgments on) others, the Apostle says, Rom. 11.20. Be not high-minded, but fear. Oh, be not high-minded, dont boast nor triumph over those that fall, done trust in thine own strength; but Fear, Watch, Pray, lest thou fall as they have done. Consider thy self, lest thou also be tempted, Gal. 6.1. Watch and Pray, that ye enter not into Temptation, Mat. 26.41.

[Page 93]5. Let none trust in themselves, meerly on the account of their freedom from Outward Scandals. Possibly some, when they hear of the Scan­dalous Falls of others, are apt to despise those that fall, and to be mightily con­ceited of themselves, and to trust in their own Duties and Righteousness, because they are not chargeable with like Scandals as others are. Thus 'twas with the self-conceited, self-justifying Pharisee, who said, Luk. 18.11, 12. —God I thank thee, that I am not as other Men are, Extortioners, Unjust, Adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fa [...]t twice in the week, I give tythes of all that I possess. So, possibly some will think, I am no Drunkard, Thief, Fornicator, Prophane Swearer as such and such are; I'm an orderly blame­less Person, I keep Sabbaths, hear Sermons, attend Sacraments, Pray in my Family, &c. therefore surely God is pleas'd with me, and will save such a godly righteous Person as I am. I say, we should take heed of such self-conceitedness as this is. Restraining Grace is a great favour, and should be Thankfully acknowledged as such (as was be­fore hinted) yet it does not intitle us to Heaven. Some who outwardly appear righteous to Men, are inwardly full of iniquity and hypocri­sie, Mat. 23.28. Doubtless, Formality, Hy­pocrisie, Self-flattery will ruin Multitudes. Those who go about to establish their own righteousness, will not submit to the righteousness of God, Rom. 10.3. 'Tis not meer free­dom from Outward Scandals, that can carry [Page 94] us to Heaven: we must be self-empty, bro­ken hearted for Sin, trust only in Christ's Righteousness for Justification, and diligent­ly strive after purity of Heart, as well as Outward blamelessness, if ever we would be Saved.

6. We should bear due witness, against the grie­vous Transgressions of others. Tho' we should pity their Persons, desire and pray for their Repentance; yet we should hate, loath, ab­hor their Sins, (abhor that which is Evil, Rom. 11.9.) and bear due Testimony against them. Nay tho' our dearest Relatives should fall into Scandals, yet we should bear due Testimony against their Sins. Christians should love Christ (His Honour and Glory) above Father, Mother, Wife, Children, Sisters, Brethren, yea and above their own Life too, Luk. 14.26. Mat. 10.37. God requir'd His People of Old, to bear due Testimony against the Sins of their Dearest Relatives, that others might hear and fear and do no more such wick­edness, Deut. 13.6,—11. Eli was terribly threatned, for not duly witnessing against and punishing, the great Scandals of his Sons spoken of in our Text.

7. The great Transgressions of others, should not make us reflect on any good way they have been brought up in, or on any good Profession they have made, or on any good thing formerly done by them. Possibly some that were brought up in Praying Families, that were well Catechi­sed, had a Religious Education, belong'd to [Page 95] Private-Meetings designed for the Furtherance of Piety, were wont to Pray in Secret, &c. I say, Possibly some such have fallen into grievous Scandals, and shall we for the sake of their Sins, condemn the Manner in which they were Educated, or the Method they once took to promote Religion, or the good things once practised by them? No, God forbid. If some Church-Members fall into foul Scan­dals, shall we therefore say, that all Church-Members are alike; or condemn the good Pro­fession which some Scandalous Persons once made? No, this would be vile and abomi­nable indeed. The Devil, would fain bring the Truths and Ways of God into dislike and contempt; for the sake of ill things done by some, who once profess'd those Truths and Ways. But if we rail against, decry or condemn any good Ways and Practi­ces, because of the ill carriage of some who once profess'd and favour'd them; herein we greatly gratifie the Devil, and do more hurt to the Interest of Religion than we're aware of: As it would be unreasonable and unjust, to condemn the Christian Religion in General, because of the hellish Scandals of some professed Christians; so 'tis pro­portionably vile, to condemn any Divine Truth or good Practice, meerly because some who once favour'd the same, are turned Scandalous Criminals.

8. From the Scandalous Falls of Young Per­sons, Housholders should take occasion to warn their Young Ones, to avoid such Evils. Prov. [Page 96] 9.6. Forsake the follish and live. Well, say to your Young Ones,

‘Consider how foolish, how vain, vile, wicked such and such have been; what shame and disgrace among Men, what hurt and damage they have brought to themselves: how wofully they have dishonoured God, and expos'd them­selves to His displeasure, Consider these things, and be Warned hereby not to tread in their steps. Your Hearts are as bad by Nature as theirs, you are in danger by Snares and Tempta­tions; therefore Watch, Pray, give utmost di­ligence lest you fall as others have done.’

When Solomon adviseth Young Men, to avoid the Whorish Woman, this is one Argument he useth, Prov. 7.26. She hath cast down many wounded: yea many strong Men have been slain by her. As if he had said, Oh consider how others have been Tempted, Insnared, Ruined; therefore take Warning, beware lest you fall into the like Snares and Mis­chiefs with them; let their Fails, be loud Watch Words, and Awakening Warnings unto you.

9. When Young Persons fall into grievous Scan­dals, other Young Persons should take peculiar Warning thereby, and beware lest they fall like them. Have Young Men or Young Women, fal­len into these or those Scandals? Then you that are Young, and possibly have much the like Temptations, Snares, Dangers with them; Oh do you take Warning, do you take [Page 97] heed lest you also be prevail'd upon by your Spiritual Enemies. And that you may not fall into gross Scandals, as many others have done; take these few Directions, viz.

1. Heartily comply with the Terms of the Co­venant of Grace. The most of our Young Men and Women, are the Children of Pro­fessing Parents, visibly the Children of the Covenant, and Baptism the Seal of the Co­venant has been set upon them; now you Young Ones, who have thus been Consecrated to God, your Hearts should be right with Him and stedfast in His Covenant. Gods Holy Covenant does oblige you, hear­tily to Repent of your Sins, heartily to sub­mit to Christ in all His Offices as Prophet, Priest and King. You can't really please God, without thus heartily submitting to Christ. They that are in the Flesh (that is, Unregenerate) cannot please God, Rom. 8.8. Without Faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11.6. If you heartily receive Christ and sub­mit to Him on Gospel Terms, this is the best way to keep you from Sinning. 'Tis said to the Saints, Rom. 6.14. Sin shall not have dominion over you. Thus to submit to Christ, is the only way to keep you from pe­rishing. He that believeth not shall be Damned, Mark 16.16. But if you are formal and hypocritical, customary and superficial in your Profession and Practices of a Religi­ous nature; if you dont heartily submit to Christ, then be assured, that you despise God, you contemn Christ, you trample on [Page 98] His Authority, abuse His Patience, despise the Offers of His Mercy and Grace, disregard His terrible Threatenings; this is great Wicked­ness, and there's great danger lest God be hereby provoked to say of you, let him that is filthy be filthy still: and to say of you as of those, Psal. 81.11, 12. My People would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me: so I gave them up to their own hearts Lusts, and they walked in their own Counsels. But on the other hand, if you heartily turn to God, comply with the Terms of His Ho­ly Covenant, submit to Christ as Prince and Saviour; this will be the best way to keep you from Sinning, 'twill be greatly to your advantage. Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance, Mat. 13.12. God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6. He says, Prov. 8.17. I love them that love me, and they that seek me Early shall find me.

2. Maintain a constant Course, of diligently Reading and Studying the Holy Scriptures. Psal. 119.9. Wherewith shall a Young Man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word. Gods Word tells Young and Old how they should live, how they should be­have themselves; and gives them the best Directions for, the best Motives and Ar­guments to, holiness and righteousness that can be. Surely then, Young Men and Woman, (yea indeed all Christians) should main­tain a constant course of Reading and Stu­dying Gods Word. Psal. 119.11. Thy word [Page 99] have I hid in mine heart; that I might not Sin against thee.

3. Humbly submit to Family Government. The Great God, strictly commands Chil­dren to obey their Parents, Servants to Obey their Masters; therefore you Young Ones, if you disobey your Fathers, Mothers, Masters, Mistres­ses, in so doing you disobey God, despise God, you greatly provoke Him indeed. Many Young Men and Women, Children and Servants are Proud, Haughty, Stubborn; they won't submit to the Yoke of Family Government; they will be in these and those Fashions tho' costly, and much above their Rank and Ability; they contend for this and that liberty, liberty to be Unseasonably from home, to be out late on Nights, to go and come almost when they will, to have frequent needless Diversions; thus they'l proudly and stubbornly contend for their own way, tho' possibly Parents and Masters are never so much against it. Alas, such Per­sons a [...]e in a dangerous Course, they're fighting against God; it's well if their Pride and Disobedience be not the Forerun­ner of some grievous Fall. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, Gal. 6.7. You Young Ones, if you cast off the Yoke of Family Government, you then cast off Gods Yoke; and you're in great danger lest God give you up to the Will of your Spiritual Enemies. 'Tis said of Eli's Sons that are spoken of in our Text, 1 Sam. 2.25. — They hearkened not to the voice of their Father, because the Lord [Page 100] would slay them. Oh dont disobey your Pa­rents, lest God be provok'd to slay you. Prov. 30.17. The Eye that mocketh at his Fa­ther, and despiseth to obey his Mother, the Ra­vens of the Valley shall pick it out, and the young Eagles shall eat it. That is, such Dis­obedient ones are like to come to an un­timely judicial Death; it often proves so. Oh tremble at that Word, Prov. 29.1. He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck; shall suddenly be destroyed and that without re­medy.

4. Be diligent in lawful Business. Every Christan that indulges Idleness, is in the Way of Temptations; and Young Persons (who are commonly most active) are especially so. Idleness is Wickedness: The slothful Servant is called the wicked Servant, Mat. 25.26. Idle­ness is the Devils School. If thou art not do­ing some Work for God, well employed in some good thing; the Devil will be ready to employ thee, to offer some cursed Business or other to thee. If you would not fall in­to vile Scandals, then be diligent in some lawful Business. Rom. 12.11 Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

5. Religiously observe Gods Holy Sabbath. The Lords Day, is by the Lords Command to be kept Holy, employed in Holy Exercises and Duties. The Scripture requires this, and terribly threatens the profaning of the Sabbath, Neh. 13.17, 18. Jer. 17.27. Take heed there­fore, you young Men and Women, that you don't [Page 101] entertain slighty Thoughts of the Sabbath, but count it an Holy and Honourable Day, spend it as such in Gods Service, Isai. 58.13. Diligently attend publick and private Du­ties of Religion on the Lords Day; let a Sa­vour of Spiritual Divine Things abide on your Souls. And surely, if you would avoid your diverting Visits on the Lords Day Evenings, and spend those Evenings at home in mind­ing Spiritual Matters; I say, if you young Men and Women would do thus, it would keep you out of the Way of many Temptations, and might be unspeakably profitable to you. But if you once indulge a Regardlessness of Gods Holy Day, he is highly provok'd thereat; and there's great Danger lest you should be left to some great Wickedness.

6. Avoid evil Company. Prov. 13.20. A com­panion of fools shall he destroyed. Alas, How many Persons, especially young Men and Wo­men, that once appear'd Vertuous, Sober, Blame­less, have by falling into bad Company been car­ried away to Folly, and drawn into gross Abominations? Ill Company has Ruin'd Multitudes. Therefore, If sinners intice thee, consent thou not, Prov. 1.10. When vain Com­panions come, and would call you from your proper Work and Business, or would intice you abroad at unseasonable Times, or if they solli­cit you to do any ill Thing; look on such Persons not as your Friends but Enemies. They are indeed the Emissaries of Hell, the Tools and Messengers of the Devil; they are doing Satans Work, even tempting and [Page 102] striving to Ruin Souls. Carefully shun such Companions: Foresake the foolish and live, Prov. 4.14, 15. Enter not into the path of the wicked; and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and pass away. In these two Verses, there are six Prohibitions, requiring us to shun ill Examples and Com­panions. Psal. 1.1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor s [...]tteth in the seat of the scornful.

7. Don't undulge small Sins, but maintain a constant Tenderness of Conscience. Though no Sin is really small in the Sight of God yet some Sins are greater than others. Well, Don't indulge thy self in those Sins, which possibly some may count small Matters, scarce worth the minding. One Sin leads to ano­ther, and smaller Offences to greater Transgressi­ons. Don't tell a Lye, lest thou become a common Lyar▪ and it may be a false Swearer too. Don't so much as steal Fruit out of an Orchard o [...] Garden, lest thou come to steal Things of greater Value. Don't steal from thy Parents or M [...]st [...]r, lest thou come to steal from others, and become a common Thief. Don't use wanton, lascivious Carriage, lest [...]ou fall into Fornication and Adultery. Don't take God's Name in vain, lest thou become an habitual Blasphemer. Don't drink more than thou needest, lest thou become a common Drunkard. Oh, take heed, and watch against the Beginnings of Evil. If thou indulgest those Sins which thou reckon­est [Page 103] small, there's Danger of thy falling into, and being hardened in great and scandalous Transgressions. Therefore allow of no Sin, though counted never so small; but main­tain a great Tenderness of Conscience as Job did: Job. 27.6. My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

8. Maintain a constant Course secret Prayer. Consider the Deceitfulness of thine own wick­ed Heart, the Temptations of the Devil, who watches to destroy thee, the Falls of others once as likely to stand as thou art, the many Snares thou art endangered by. Consider these Things, and let them move thee daily and diligently to Pray to God in Secret, that he would keep thee from sin­ning against him, and would help thee to serve him sincerely, diligently and constant­ly. Mat 6.6. Enter into thy Closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which seeth in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward the openly.

[Page 104]

Sermon, VI. GOD, THE Free and Sovereign AUTHOR OF ALL BENEFITS.

EZEK. XXXVI [...].

Not for your sakes do [...] the Lord God, be it know [...] [...].—

THis Text i [...] [...] or a gracious Declara­tion, which God by his Prophets Eze­kiel made to his People under their Babylonish [Page 105] Captivity. Gods professing People had defil'd their own Land by their Sins, therefore he cast them out and scattered them among their Enemies, v. 17.—19. When the Land of Israel was thus emptied of Gods People, the neighbouring Heathen, and particularly the Edomites, mock'd and derided the deso­late Case of the Jews; and made a Prey of their Land, and appointed it for a Possession to themselves, v. 4, 5. But in the preceeding Part of this Chapter, God promiseth, that he would again bring back his People into their own Land, they should possess it, and be blessed in it: Yea, he promised them Spiri­tual Blessings also, that he would cleanse them from their Filthiness and Idols, give them a new heart and spirit, and cause them to walk in his ways, v. 25.—27. Having resolv'd and promised to bestow such rich Blessings and Benefits on them, he would have them receiv'd as Streams from his own most free, sovereign Bounty; and would not have his sinful unworthy Peo­ple think, that they themselves were any ways deserving of these Benefits. Therefore he says to them in our Text, Not for your sakes do I this, he it known unto you. As if he had said,

‘Consider, that these Benefits, which according to my gracious Promises I'll bestow on you, flow from my meer, free, sovereign, undeserved Boun­ty and Kindness; from mine own Heart, mine own good Will and Pleasure: I'll give them freely, not for the sake of any Worthiness in you, for you have none; you are unworthy of the [Page 106] least Drop of Favour from me. Instead of think­ing your selves Worthy and Deserving of these Favours, you should be ashamed and confound­ed for your own ways, and loath your selves in your own sight for your Iniqui­ties and Abominations, v. 31, 32.’

From the Words therefore we may ob­serve this

DOCTRINE. It is of the free, sovereign Bounty and Goodness of God, that he bestows on the Children of Men all the Benefits they at any time receive.

There are two Propositions in this Doc­trine.

I. God bestows on the Children of Men, all the Benefits they at any time receive.

II. It is of his own free, sovereign Bounty and Goodness that he bestows them.

PROP. I. God bestows on the Children of Men, all the Benefits they at any time re­ceive.

God is the supream efficient Cause and Au­thor of all Benefits. This must needs be own'd by all, who believe that God made the World, and that he governs it by his Providence. God is the Father of Lights, and there is no Beam of Light or Comfort, [Page 107] but what darts forth from this inexhausti­ble Fountain of all Goodness. He is the Giver of every good Gift, Jam. 1.17. There are many Receivers of Benefits, but there is but one original Giver of them, and that is God. He gives to all Life and Breath and all things: We live, move, and have our Being in him. He opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of eve­ry living thing. The Lord is good to all, and his tender Mercies are over all his works, Psal. 145.9, 16. All the Good and Benefit which Creatures receive, whether Angels, Men, or inferior Beings; they all receive it from God. It must needs be so; for his supream sovereign Providence governs all things, and that continually; his Dominion is an ever­lasting Dominion. His throne is prepared in the Heavens, his kingdom ruleth over all, Psal. 103.19. He does according to his will in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth; even in Heaven, Earth, Sea, and in all deep Places, Dan. 4.35. Psal. 135.6. Tho' Benefits may come more immediately and directly in this or that Channel, yet they all originally flow from the same Fountain, even from God, who is Goodness it self. And as it is God who bestows on the Children of Man, all the Benefits they at any time re­ceive; So we are told in

PROP. II. It is of his own free, sovereign Bounty and Goodness that he bestows them.

He bestows on Men all the Benefits they have, and he bestows them freely; 'tis not [Page 108] for your sakes, as our Text declares. And this is true, not only of the Benefits be­stow'd on the Jews, who had so highly pro­vok'd God by their heinous Transgressions; but it's true likewise of all or any of the Children of Men, at one time or other, in this World or in the next. 'Tis of Gods own Heart that he bestows them, the sole Mo­tive is primarily and originally from himself; 'tis not from any Worth, Merit, or good Deserving in them. Indeed God may be said to be under Bonds and Engagements to bestow Benefits, and very great ones too, on some sorts of Persons, even the Bonds of his own Word, Promise, Oath; but 'twas of his own most free, sovereign Bounty and Goodness, that he laid himself under such Bonds. So that all the Benefits Men ever receive, flow originally from the free Bounty and Goodness of God. This Truth may in some Measure be cleared and demonstrated, by considering these following Particulars, viz.

1. 'Twas of Gods Soveraign Goodness, that He purpos'd to make Men, to bestow Benefits on them, and that He did give being to them. It is the Lord that hath made us, and not we our selves. He has of one Blood made all Na­tions of Men to dwell on the face of the Earth, Act. 17.26. Tho' Divine Wisdom directed in, and Divine Power effected, the Creation of the World; yet Divine Goodness was the first mover in the matter. God did not make the World from any necessity of Nature, nor [Page 109] from any need He had of Creatures (for He's Infinitely, Unchangeably Self-sufficient and All-sufficient) but from a voluntary pur­pose to exert and display His Glorious Per­fections, and communicate of His Goodness. For his Pleasure all things are and were created, Rev. 4.11. Therefore Thanks are rendred to God, for His Mercy, (His Goodness) in the Work of Creation, in making the Heavens, Earth, &c, Psal. 136.1.5, — 9. Now God being an Infinitely wise Agent, had laid the Plan or Scheme of His Work, before he set upon doing it: all his Works ad ex­tra, in Creating and Governing the World, are but the Execution of His Antecedent Eternal Purposes. For, known unto him are all his Works from the Foundation of the World, Act. 15.18. He works all things according to the Counsel of his own will, Eph. 1.11. He's of one Mind and none can turn him: his Counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. In­asmuch therefore as all his Works referring to his Creatures, are but the Executions of his Antecedent Eternal Purposes, it thence follows, that his making of Men, and his bestowing Benefits on them; are but the product or execution of his Eternal Counsels. And since before Men had a being, God pur­pos'd to give them being and to bestow be­nefits on them; it must needs be, that those purposes did flow from his most Free Sove­raign bounty. Those purposes of Goodness, could not possibly have any other Spring or Fountain. For Men not being yet made, could not possibly act, and so, could not [Page 110] possibly deserve either good or evil. Gods purposes, did preceed Mens beings and actions, as the Apostle tells us in the par­ticular Instance of Jacob and Esau. The Chil­dren being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to Election might stand, &c. Rom. 9.11. All those benefits Men ever receive, are the fruit and product of those Eternal Purposes which God purposed in Himself, before Men ever had any being; therefore they must necessarily flow Originally from the Soveraign Bounty and Goodness of God. It's of So­veraign Divine Bounty and Goodness,

2. That God has given His Son Christ Jesus, to Die for the Salvation of Sinful Men. All Men by Sinning against God, by breaking his holy Law; became justly obnoxious to Everlasting Vengence, Wrath and Misery. God might (if he had seen meet) have greatly Glorified his Vindictive Justice to all Eternity, in making all sinful Men (as well as all sinful Angels) inconcievably and ever­lastingly miserable. But instead of this, he gave his Only Begotten Eternal Son, to Die a shameful and an accursed Death in the room and stead of sinful Men, to purchase Pardon, Grace and Eternal Blessedness for them. And it could not possibly be any thing else, but most Free, Soveraign Bounty and Goodness in God, that put him upon such a Method as this. That he should in such an expensive way as this (even at the expence of the Blood of his Only Begotten Eternal [Page 111] Son) bring those who deserved endless Plagues and Torments in Hell, to injoy end­less inconceiveable Glories in Heaven, could not possibly proceed from any thing but most Free Soveraign Grace and Goodness. God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting Life, Joh. 3.16. God com­mendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Rom. 5.8. He is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us — by Grace are ye saved, Eph. 2.4, 8. It's of God's Soveraign Goodness,

3. That He has put such a connexion as He has, between Mens Duties, and the benefits which will thence accrue to them. Inasmuch as God is the Soveraign Maker of all Men, does hold their Souls in Life, and preserve their Spirits and all their powers of Operation; inasmuch as they thus intirely depend on the Soveraign pleasure of God, it necessarily follows, that 'tis their indispensable duty to imploy themselves and all their Powers for God, conformably to the discoveries of his preceptive Will unto them. They're indis­pensably obliged to this, from the Relation there is between them and their Creator, and from the dependence they have on him for their Being and Operation; whether he had promis'd any Reward to their Obedience or not. 'Twas therefore an effect of Soveraign Bounty, rather than of proper and strict Justice, that God promis'd an endless happy Life to innocent Man (as is plainly implied in the [Page 112] first Threatning, Gen. 2.17.) if he had con­tinued perfectly obedient. For if innocent Man had long continued perfectly Obedient to his Masters Will; this would have been no more than what he was indispensably ob­lig'd to, from his relation to God as his bountiful Creator and Preserver: nor could God have thence been oblig'd to continue him longer in being, or bestow further Be­nefits on him, unless by his own free soveraign promise he had so oblig'd Himself. Surely then, since Man is faln, it must needs be of Gods Free, Soveraign Grace and Bounty, that in and thro' the Mediation of Jesus Christ, he puts a connexion between Man's Duty and the Benefits which will thence ac­crue to Him. If we judge rightly, we must needs own, 'tis Soveraign Goodness in God that he'll stoop to treat with Rebels, through a Mediator of his own appointing; and that when he might glorify himself in their de­served Destruction, he promiseth to re­ceive them to favour and make 'em Eter­nally happy, if they'll return and submit to the most reasonable and gracious Terms which he offers to them. Yet he does so. For thro' Christ he is reconciling the World to him­self. He does not bid any to seek him in vain; but declares, there's Forgiveness with him that he may be feared, Psal. 130.4. He's a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6. Whatsoever good thing any Man doth, the same shall be receive of the Lord whether he be bond or free, Eph. 6.8. It's of God's Sove­raign Bounty and Goodness,

[Page 113]4. That he bestows many Outward Benefits, on those who continue obstinately wicked and disobe­dient to him. God left not himself without Witness to the Heathen World, but gave them Rain from Heaven and Fruitful Seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness, Act. 14.17. The Wicked are often fat and flourishing, swiming in streams of Pleasure, they are not in trouble like other Men, neither plagued like other Men; their eyes stand out with fat­ness, they have more than heart can wish: the ungodly often prosper in the World, and increase in riches, Psal. 73.5,—13. How many Hea­then Monarchs are there, cloth'd with Royal Robes, crown'd with Diadems, possess'd of vast Power and Wealth, injoying all the ful­ness that outward things can give them; who yet are unmindful of, and rebellious a­gainst, God their Soveraign Maker and Be­nefactor? God often extends riches of his Goodness and forbearance to some, who do nothing else but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath (by their abominable and con­tinued Wickedness,) Rom. 2.4, 5. Many who deserve to burn in Hell forever for their Wickedness, and will get thither at last; yet often enjoy numberless and great Out­ward benefits here in this World; and that for many Years together. Surely, every one who believes the Bible, must think; that this flows from the meer, soveraign, undeserved bounty and kindness of God. For tho' thro' their own folly and sin, such Prosperity often leads to, and fattens 'em for, Destruction; yet [Page 114] this does not hinder, but that the bestowment of such Prosperity in it self considered, is a fruit of Soveraign Divine Goodness. The Light of the Sun is a great Blessing (Mat. 5.45.) tho' many abuse it to the practising of Wickedness, Mic. 2.1. It's of God's Sovereign Bounty and Goodness,

5. That He often makes use of Means and In­struments, to convey Benefits to Men. Some are apt to take so much Notice of Means and In­struments, which more immediately and di­rectly hand forth benefits to them; as too much to neglect the Original Fountain of them. But God is no less the Giver and Au­thor of all Benefits, because he useth Means and Instruments in conveying of any of them. God fed Jacob all his Life long, tho' his Labour and Money supplyed him one while, and his Son Joseph furnish'd his Table afterwards. God was as really the Feeder of Elijah, when the Ravens brought him Flesh and Bread; as he was of Israel in the Wilderness when he daily sup­plied them with Manna. All Second Causes, are under the Influence and Government of the First Cause. God hears the Heavens, they hear the Earth, that so Corn, Wine, Oyl may be produced for God's People, Hos 2.22, 23. All Moral Agents whether good or bad, are under the Government of the First Supream Cause, even God: he can make them Instrumental (if he will) of conveying benefits. God made his People to be pitied, even of their wicked Enemies who carried them Captive, Psal. 106.46. The barbarous People of Malta, shewed [Page 115] no small kindness to Ship-wreck'd Paul and his Company, Act. 28.1, 2. Sometimes Men of great Abilities, of Publick Spirits, inPub­lick Stations and Capacities, are instrumen­tal of abundance of Good to the People a­mong whom they are, in encouraging Ver­tue, and indeavouring to promote their Wel­ [...]are; but 'tis the God of the Spirits of all Flesh, that does raise up, qualify, assist and succeed such Instruments. Sometimes abun­dance of good comes to particular Persons, yea to an whole People, in answer to the Prayers of some godly ones. The Prayers of the Righteous avail much. But 'tis of So­veraign Grace that God helps such to Pray, that by his Promises he has incourag'd such to Pray, and that he gives an Answer to their Prayers. So that all Benefits are as really, truly and originally from God; as if no Means or Instruments were made use of to convey them. Means could never be Instru­mental of any good to us, if God did not make them so. Whoever Plants or Waters, none but God can give the Increase. Would not Men be more thankful to God for every Meals Meat (as well as for other benefits) if they saw Gods Hand as visibly reaching it to them; as Belshazzar saw the Hand when it wrote on the Wall? And yet every Benefit really comes from God, whatever are the Means or Instruments of conveying it; nay 'tis of his meer undeserved bounty, that he does Honour any Means with the Service or Instrumentality of conveying any of his Benefits. So 'tis of Gods Soveraign bounty.

[Page 116]6. That he enables Men to comply with those Terms, on which he's pleas'd to bestow further Benefits. As 'tis of his Soveraign bounty (as we shewed before) to make the con­nection he has between Mens Duties and Be­nefits; so 'tis, that he inclines and enables Men to perform Duty. 'Tis the God of the Spirits of all Flesh, the Fountain of all Good, that often bestows on Unregenerate Men, those common gifts and restraints of Grace; which frequently prove conducive to many outward temporary Benefits, both to themselves and others. But further, 'tis most free and soveraign, as well as most powerful Grace, that enables any heartily to receive Christ as offered in the Gospel, and to walk in him till they come to Glory. It's God's Prerogative to take away the Heart of Stone and give an Heart of Flesh: to create a new Heart and a right Spirit in any. Of his own will be begets them by his Word of Truth, Jam. 1.18. He calls them according to his purpose, (Rom. 8.28.) for no Man can come to Christ, except the Father draws him, Job. 6.44. It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy. As the Wind blows where it will, without Mans appointing or power to ob­struct it; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. And as 'tis of Gods Soveraign Grace, that he first works a saving change in the Soul; so 'tis, that he carries on the work when thus begun. He works both to will and [...]o do of his own good pleasure, Phil. 2.13. [Page 117] 'Tis he that helps, strengthens, upholds by the right Hand of his Righteousness. If any Man draw back, God's Soul will have no pleasure in him; yet those who hold out to the end, are kept by the power of God thro' Faith unto Salvation, 1 Pet. 1.5. So that 'tis indeed most free, soveraign Grace, that ena­bles Persons to do those things, that have a firm connexion with Eternal Happiness. This Grace is most free, and undeserved by thosethat receive it: for tho' tis purchas'd, dearly bought and paid for by Jesus Christ for them; yet 'twas of free Grace that God appointed this Method for purchasing it, and that thereupon he does bestow it. It's of soveraign Grace and Goodness,

7. That God makes the Afflictions of the Saints, Instrumental of great advantage to them. God has promis'd, That all things shall work toge­ther for their good, Rom. 8.28. That their Chastisements shall be for their profit, to make them partakers of his holiness, Heb. 12.10. Indeed their Sins deserve and procure their Afflictions, yea they deserve inconcievably greater evils than ever they meet with. Now when God is whipping them for their offen­ces, that he should resolve and effect their great benefit and advantage thereby; must needs be a fruit of most soveraign Goodness. He turns their Maladies into Remedies, their heavy Burdens into healing Medicines: when if he dealt with them according as they deserve, he might justly make them Eternally and Inconcievably miserable. So­veraign [Page 118] Goodness, must needs be the Spring and Fountain of such a Method as this▪ God's Soveraign bounty and goodness ap­pears,

8. In the greatness and duration of the Bene­fits, promis'd to those that sincerely seek and serve him. As 'tis of Grace, that God has put any con­nexion between Mens Duties, and their ob­taining further and future benefits; so 'tis yet an higher evidence of such Grace, that the benefits promised are so great and durable. Those who heartily submit to God in Christ Jesus, and obey his holy Gospel; shall cer­tainly obtain endless inconceivable Glory and Happiness. This is called the Recom­pence of Reward, Heb. 11.26. But alas, there's no proportion between the short im­perfect Duties of the Saints on Earth, and their endless Glories in Heaven. Therefore tho' their future happiness is called a Reward, yet 'tis a Reward of Grace; and is indeed a Free-Gift. Rom. 6.23. The gift of God is E­ternal Life. Luk. 12.32. It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Now that so great and durable benefits, should be annexed to the sincere duties of the Saints in this World, notwithstanding all their im­perfections; can flow from nothing else, than the soveraign amazing Goodness of that God who delighteth in Mercy. Thus these Heads that have been mention'd, tho' few and brief compar'd to what might have been said; may help to set forth this great Truth to us, viz. That 'tis of Gods free soveraign [Page 119] Bounty and Goodness, that he bestows on the Children of Men, all the benefits or good things they at any time receive.

The USE of these things may be in the following Inferences, viz.

1. We ought to contemplate on and admire at, the free soveraign bounty of God. There can­not be a more noble Subject of our most frequent and serious Contemplation. When here and there a few among Mortals, exceed their Neighbours in Ability, Vertue, Good­ness, Usefulness; they're often much spoken of and commended by those, whose good Opinion is of any worth; I say, 'tis often tho' not always thus. But all the communi­cative Goodness in any Creatures, is not so much compar'd to the Goodness manifested by God; as the glittering of a glow-worm, compar'd to the diffusive extensive Light of the Sun. Surely our Souls should stand, look, gaze and wonder at the free extensive, tho' Incomprehensible Goodness of the Eter­nal Jehovah. Who can tell the Number, or the ten thousandth part, of those Benefits which he freely bestows? Surely, no Mans Arithmetick can reach to this. His won­derful works of Goodness can't be reckon'd up in order, they're more than can be num­bred. Psal. 40.5. But tho' we can't mea­sure the heigth or depth, length or breadth of those streams issuing from Soveraign Di­vine Goodness, and to the most unworthy too; yet we should greatly contemplate on [Page 120] them, and admire the Immense Fountain and Original from whence they flow. This work, the bright Spirits above imploy them­selves in; the more we abound in it the more we shall be like them, and the fitter for their Company.

2. We should never murmur, though possibly we may want some Comforts which we are desirous of. God is the Author, yea, the free, sovereign Giver of all Benefits; And do we indeed de­serve any good thing at his hand? No truly, we are so far from that, that by our Sins we justly deserve his insupportable Wrath for­ever. When Afflictions are most and heaviest upon us, even then 'tis much better with us than we deserve. When God takes away our Health, our Ease, our dearest Friends and Relatives, or any other Comforts; he does but recall what he freely lent us during his Pleasure, so he can do us no wrong herein; and therefore we never have any cause to re­pine or murmur. Nay, we are so far from having any real cause of Murmuring, that when we meet with the most grievous Emp­tyings and Losses, there are yet freely con­tinued to us, so many and great Benefits, as loudly call for our Praising and Adoring the sovereign Author of them. It is of the Lords Mercy we are not consumed. Therefore,

3. We should be constantly Thankful to God, for the diffusive Streams of his free Bounty to us. We can't reckon up the Number or describe the Greatness of these Benefits, God freely [Page 121] bestows on each of us every Day. Every Breath we draw, is a renew'd Instance of his amazing Power, Patience, and undeserved Goodness. If it be not our own Fault, we may daily trust in God for, and delight our selves with the Thoughts of, those matchless, endless Joys, which his faithful Promise se­cures to those that rightly seek after them. Then sure I am, we should be daily and hear­tily Thankful to that God, who thus freely showers down his Benefits on the Unworthy. In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you, 1 Thes. 5.18. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 5.20. Bless the Lord, O my soul, & all that is with­in me, bless his holy name: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, Psal. 103.1, 2. What can be more Vile, Criminal, a­bominably Sordid, than for such as we are, to be unthankful to that God, who freely and constantly bestows great and numberless Benefits on us!

4. We should never envy to others the good Things they enjoy. Whence come those good Thing? Why from God the Fountain of all good, and he may surely do what he will with his own. He is the sovereign Potter, Creatures are the Clay; he may fashion this or that Lump into what Figure he pleaseth, and can be accountable to none for doing so. If others have more Health, Ease, Honour, Power, Wealth, greater inward Gifts and Abilities or Endowments, more desirable [Page 122] Friends and Relatives, greater Measures of Sanctifying Grace and Divine Consolations than we have; yet we should by no means Grudge or Envy them. Our Eye should not be evil because God is good. The lowest Shrub should not envy the tallest Cedar; nor the smallest Stars those of the first Magnitude, for all the Stars have that Measure of Light, and keep the Orb and Sphere their wise, bountiful Maker assign'd them. Men in the lowest Form should not envy those, whom their sovereign Maker and Benefactor makes Superior to them, in one regard or other. Those who receive fewest Talents, have unspeakable cause of Gratitude, but none of Envy.

5. Those who excel others, should never be Proud of it. Who maketh thee to differ? If we have more Health, Wealth, Honour, Power than others; yet here's no just Foundation for Self-conceit. Sovereign Divine Bounty makes the Difference. God might have made us the lowest & meanest, and those who now are so, he might have advanced much higher than we are; and yet done us not the least Wrong therein. If we have greater Natural Abilities than others, God freely gave them, without any Means of our using. In this Case, there is no Reason for the Inferior to be despised, nor the Superior to be Self-conceited. If we have greater Acquir'd Endowments of Mind than others, yet God freely gave Opportunity for Endeavours to get them, and he also gave Success to such Endeavours; so that still here's no cause for Pride, though much for [Page 123] Thankfulness. Nay, If we are sincerely Pi­ous and Godly, and have done much greater Service, and many more good Deeds than o­thers; yet here's nothing to be Proud of. God freely gave the Opportunities for doing good, Qualifications for it, Inclinations to it, Assistances in it, and all the Success that did attend our Endeavours. Indeed in a strict Sense, the more Holy any are, the more they do for God; so much the more they are Indebted to him. Though by his free and gracious Promises, he has oblig'd himself to Re­ward their sincere Performances, yet 'tis of his sovereign Goodness that he has given these Encouragements, that he has given them Hearts to take and improve the Encourage­ments, and to abound in doing what he re­quires. As we love God, because he first lo­ved us; so if we do more for God than others, 'tis because he first did more for us, working in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure: For without him we could do no­thing. If we have sincerely Serv'd God in any Matter, we may justly say as David in that Case of contributing towards building the Temple: 1 Chron. 29.14. Who am I, and what is my People, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. That God should by his gracious Promises give Encouragement to Duty, give Opportunity, Inclination, Assistance to do Duty, and after all give a gracious Reward too (as he will in the other World) here's Grace upon Grace indeed: Grace from the Foundation to the [Page 124] Top-stone. And since 'tis such sovereign Grace, surely those favour'd with it, have no cause for Pride, Boasting or Self-conceit; though unspeakable cause for the most live­ly Gratitude.

6. Though we are never so unworthy in our selves, yet we should trust in God for the best of Blessings and Benefits. It is of Gods own Heart, of his free, sovereign Bounty, that he bestows on Men all the Benefits they ever receive; and since he gives so freely, our Unworthiness should not discourage us from seeking to him, and trusting in him for the best of Blessings which we need. Indeed God does, and ever will▪ maintain his own sovereign Lordship and Dominion over his Creatures, and will give forth his own Favours in his own Way; there­fore we may not expect Pardon of Sin, Peace with God, a Title to future Happiness, un­less we heartily Repent of Sin, hate and turn from it, and receive Christ as Prince and Saviour. 'Tis grand Presumption for any to expect Peace with God, and Happiness in his Favour, and yet continue loving and practi­cing known Wickedness, known Rebellion against him. Yet on the other hand, not­withstanding our many and great Transgressions, by which we are most unworthy, undeser­ving of Gods Favour; yet if we heartily Repent of our Sins, and rely on Gods Fa­vour as offered through Christ in the Pro­mises, we shall then be freely Welcome to it. If we thus do, our unworthiness of Di­vine Favour, shall be no Bar to our obtain­ing [Page 125] it. For Gods Offers of saving Mercy, are most free, gracious, sovereign; and his Promises which contain them are infallibly true. Therefore, together with utmost loath­ing of our Sins, we should all of us be en­courag'd speedily, fully, firmly to trust in the Sovereign Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ, for all that Pardon, Grace and Sal­vation which we need. God is such a So­veraign Fountain of Good, and so delights in Mercy; that we can't possibly please him more, than by thus trusting in him for pro­mised benefits, Psal. 147.11. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy, Abraham was strong in Faith giving glory to God, Rom. 4.20. His Strong Faith, hope and trust in the Divine promi­ses, did please and glorify God.

7. We should freely and readily do as much Good as ever we can. The more we do so, so much the more like we are to God. Christians are bidden to be Followers (it signifies, Imi­tators) of God as dear Children, Eph. 5.1. Sure­ly then, they should endeavour to be as diffusive and extensive as ever they can in doing of Good. Our blessed Lord Jesus said, Luk. 6.36. Be ye therefore merciful as your Fa­ther also is merciful. Our Lord Jesus went a­bout doing good, Act. 10.38. And we should walk as he also walked, 1 Joh. 2.6. We should be as ready to forgive those that have wrong'd us, as we are desirous that God should forgive us. Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ sake hath forgiven you, Eph. 4.32. [Page 126] Yea, as we have opportunity we should do good to all men, especially to those of the houshold of Faith, Gal. 6.10.

8. Those must needs be happy, who have God for their God and Portion. This is the case, of all sincere Believers in Christ Jesus. They have the Unchangeable, Inexhaustable Foun­tain of all Good for their Portion; there is in God, infinitely more than enough to sup­ply all their wants, and that to all Eternity. Nor is this Good God more able than he is willing, to bestow matchless endless Felicity, on all his sincere Saints. Therefore we may well conclude with that, Psal. 146.5. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help; and whose hope is in the Lord his God.

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Sermon, VII. UTMOST DILIGENCE Needful, to obtain SALVATION.

PHIL. II. 12.

— Work out your Salvation with Fear and Trembling.

WHen the First Man Adam rebell'd a­gainst God; all his Posterity were involv'd in that Rebellion. He being their common Father, Head and Representative; they all sinn'd in him and fell with him in that first Transgression. And by being in­volv'd [Page 128] in Sin, they became liable to misery too. By one man sin entred into the World, and death by sin; and so death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, Rom. 5.12. In Adam all Die, 1 Cor. 15.22. All men de­serve Eternal Misery, Eternal Damnation for their sinning against God. For the Wages of sin is Death, Rom. 6.23. Tho' all Men de­serve Damnation, yet God has designed Sal­vation to some; and has sent his only Be­gotten Son to save them, 1 Tim. 1.15. This as a faithful saying worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the World to save Sinners. Christ came into the World on purpose to save Sinners, and none else can do it. For there is Salvation in none other, neither is there any other name given under Heaven among men whereby we can be saved, Act. 4.12. But who are those whom Christ will save? Why all that believe in him. Whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish but have Everlasting Life, Joh. 3.16. He'll save those that Obey him. Heb. 5.9. He became the Author of Eternal Salvation to all them that obey him. Those who heartily repent of their Sins, and trust in Christs Righteousness for Justification, and yield unfeigned Obedience to his Pre­cepts, shall be saved by him. The Lord Je­sus will save them from the Wrath and Curse of God, from Hell, from Eternal Misery; and will make them Eternally Blessed and Glorious in the Heavens. All that call themselves Christians, do at least pro [...]ess and pretend to hope for such Salvation as this. Jesus, signifies a Saviour, why do [Page 129] they call themselves the Disciples and Subjects of Jesus Christ; why do they call him Prince and Saviour, unless they ex­pect Salvation by him? Well, since they pretend to expect such Salvation, they should carefully walk in the way that leads to it; And this is the meaning of our Text, Work out your Salvation with fear and trembling; the Explication whereof may be consider'd under this,

DOCTRINE. It is the Duty of Christians to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling.

Here we may Inquire,

I. What's meant by Christians working out their Salvation?

II. What's meant by working out their Sal­vation with fear and trembling?

III. Why should they so work out their Sal­vation?

QUESTION I. What's meant by Christians working out their Salvation?

The first Answer to this Question, is Nega­tive; it does not mean that they should or can, purchase, merit or deserve any part of their Salvation. Sinners have merited Damnation, by breaking Gods Law; but [Page 130] they cannot merit Salvation, by any or by all their doings and sufferings. Indeed Je­sus Christ has merited Salvation, for all those who shall obtain it; yet those who receive it, do not deserve it. 'Tis Gods free Gift to them, Luk, 12.32. It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. The Gift of God is Eternal Life, Rom. 6.23. This Sal­vation is purchased for, but not by, those who obtain it. As it comes from God, from Christ to them, 'tis a Gift, 'tis the fruit of meer, free, sovereign Love, Grace and no­thing else. There are some Qualifications necessary to be found in Persons, in order to their compleat Salvation; as Faith, Re­pentance, Holiness, without these no Man shall see the Lord. Yet these Inherent qua­lifications, do not merit or deserve Happi­ness; they are rather parts of the Sinners Salvation, and preparatory to the perfection of it. And even these qualifications, are also the Gifts of God. So is Repentance (Act. 5.31.) and Faith, (Eph. 2.8.) it is of Christs fulness, that Persons receive Grace for Grace. He is the Spring and Fountain of their Grace and Holiness: he works in them both to will and to do of his own good Pleasure. So that the Sinner's perfect com­pleat Salvation, is Gods Gift; all those qua­lifications in the Soul which are necessary hereunto, are also Gods Gifts: therefore the Sinner cannot purchase, merit or deserve Sal­vation. This is the Negative Answer.

[Page 131]The Second Answer is Affirmative, A Christians working out his own Salvation, sig­nifies, his walking in those ways, doing those things which lead infallibly to Eternal Salvation. When a Person lives in the Exercise of Re­pentance, of Faith in Christ, and yields sin­cere Obedience to the Gospel; he may then be said to work out his own Salvation, be­cause he takes the only course, walks in the only way that leads to Salvation. For those who obey not the Gospel, shall not be Saved, but be punished with Everlasting Destruction, 2 Thes. 1.9. 'Tis not enough for Men to say, Lord, Lord; but they must do the will of God, else they shall not enter into the Kingdom, Mat. 7.22. In short and in general, a Person may be said to work out his own Salvation, when he lives as the Gospel directs, when he does what Gods Word requires of him. But then, this Obedience must have these qualifi­cations, it must be Sincere, Universal, Con­stant.

1. It must be Sincere. There's no Salva­tion without Faith in Christ. He that be­lieveth not shall be damned, Mark. 16.16. Now true Faith, it purifies the Heart (Acts 15.9.) and works by Love, Gal. 5.6. It shows it self in Works of Obedience. By Faith Abra­ham — obeyed, Heb. 11.8. Faith without works is dead, Jam. 2.26. Yea, true Faith puts the Person upon yielding sincere Obedi­ence to God: He not only does the Things which God commands, but he does them because God commands them, out of Love to [Page 132] God, with a desire to Please and Glorify him. The Hypocrite does many Things for the Matter of them, which God commands; yet his doing them can scarce be call'd Obedience, because he is not heartily mov'd thereto by Gods Authority, and with a design to please him; but rather with a design that he himself may be applauded by Men. Thus all things which the Pharisees did, they did to be seen of Men, Mat. 23.5. But the true Saint acting as such, is mov'd from a Princi­ple of Obedience to God, aiming at his Glo­ry. He desires to glorify God with Body and Spirit; whether he eats, drinks, or whatever he does, 1 Cor. 6.20. & 10.31. He desires that Christ may be magnified in his Body, whether it be by Life or Death, Phil. 1.20. Perfect, sinless Obedience, the Saints cannot arrive to in this World; but sincere Obedience they may and do arrive at.

2. It must be Universal. Hypocrites will pick and chuse among Gods Precepts; they'll do the external, material Part of what's re­quired by some of them, but they wholly disre­gard others. But the true Believer in a becom­ing Temper, has Conscientious Regard to all Gods Commandements. David had re­spect to them all, and said to God, I esteem all by Precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way, Psal. 119.6.128. Our Lord Jesus describes his Disciples, his Friends that are Journeying in their Way to Salvation: Joh. 15.14. Then are ye my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Christ's [Page 133] Yoke is easy, his Burden Light, his Com­mands not grievous but precious to the Heirs of Salvation.

3. It must it Constant. If our Righteousness be as the morning Cloud and early Dew, which soon passeth away; as the Seed sown in stony Ground, which soon withers and comes to nothing, we shall never obtain Salvation. None but the Persevering Saint shall get to Heaven. If any Man draw back, Gods Soul will have no Pleasure in him. We must not be weary in well doing, if we would Reap the Harvest of Eternal Jo [...] ▪ 'Tis by patient continuance in well doing, that we should seek for Glory, Honour and Immortality, and so ob­tain Eternal Life, Rom. 2.7. When Christians yield such Obedience as this to the Gospel of Christ, they may be said to work out their Salvation; for they walk in that Path, that Way of Faith and Obedience which leads to Everlasting Blessedness. We may in the next place enquire,

QUESTION II. What's meant by working out their Salvation with Fear and Trembling?

Here also, the first Answer must be Nega­tive. It does not mean that they should nourish in themselves a Principle of slavish Fear. It does not mean that they should give way to overwhelming Melancholly, to sinking Doubts, Fears, Dispondencies; that [Page 134] they should be filled with amaving Horrors, Terrors and Anguish; that they should spend their whole Time in Weeping, in Sighs and Tears and Groans, refusing Comfort to their Souls. I say, it does not mean that they should thus live. For the ways of Wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace, Prov. 3.17. And Christians are Required to lead Lives of Gladness, Joyfulness and Thanksgiving. They should rejoyce in the Lord, rejoyce in hope of the Glory of God, Phil. 4.4. Rejoyce in the Lord always; and again I say re­joyce. Christians should lead gladsome, thank­ful, chearful Lives.

The second Answer is Affirmative. Their working out their Salvation with Fear and Trem­bling, signifies, that they should use utmost Care, Caution, Diligence, Circumspection in this grand Affair. They should maintain in their Hearts, a constant, holy Jealousy and Godly Fear, lest they should miss of that endless Salvation they hope for, or carry it amiss while they pretend to seek after it. The Precept is much of the same Import with those, Psal. 2.11. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoyce with trembling. 2 Pet. 1.10. Give dili­gence to make your calling and election sure. Heb. 12.15. Looking diligently, lest any Man fail of the Grace of God.

When the Apostle says, Work out your Sal­vation with Fear and Trembling, 'tis as if he had said,

[Page 135] ‘Take heed to your selves: Don't think you are past all danger, dont be secure, idle, sloth­ful, careless. See to it, that your Hearts are right with God, stedfast in his Covenant; and that your Conversation be answerable. You have many Enemies that would obstruct your Salvation, and hinder you from walking in the way that leads to it; therefore have your Eyes open, be on your Watch and Guard, that you may see your dangers and escape them, and see your Enemies and conquer them. Walk circumspectly, not as Fools but as Wise redeeming the time. Be jea­lous of your selves, be cautious and watchful, lest you indulge any Sin, lest you provoke God. Use utmost constant Care, Prayer, Diligence to walk very humbly, closely, exastly with God; that so you may obtain that compleat Salvation, that is promised to his faithful Servants.’

This seems to be the plain import of that Fear and Trembling, with which Christians should work out their Salvation. They can't be too Careful, Cautious, Prayerful, Watchful, Diligent that they may get safe to Heaven at last. Therefore we proceed to,

QUESTION III. Why should they so work out their Salvation?

Why should they use so much Caution, Care, Watchfulness, Prayerfulness, Diligence in this Affair? What are the Reasons or Considerations, which should move them to [Page 136] do thus? For Answer, they are such Con­siderations as these, viz.

1. Many have seem'd very likely to obtain Sal­vation, and yet have miss'd of it at last. Alas, how many such? Many are but almost, not altogether, perswaded to be Christians, such will surely perish if they continue so. Many make an open full Profession of the true Re­ligion, and yet perish at last. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, and propos'd his Law and Covenant to them; what said they to it? Why they readily promised O­bedience, saying, All that the Lard hath said, will we do, and be obedient. All the People answered with one voice and said, all the words which the Lord hath said will we do, Exod, 24.3, 7. We cannot desire Men to say more than this. Who could bid fairer for the Earthly Canaan, or the Heavenly one either, by their Pro­fession, than these did? Yet after this fair show, Multitudes of them perished by their Wickedness, their Unbelief and Disobedience. They could not enter in because of unbelief, Heb. 3.19. The Stony ground hearers, they imbraced the Gospel, yea they did it with Joy too; they made a fair show of Religion, yet they had no Root in themselves; the hot Sun of Per­secution, withered and destroyed the fair shows they had made, Mat. 13. chap. Judas was one of our Lords Twelve Disciples, and for ought we know, was in general blameless in his outward behaviour, 'till he discovered himself to be the Son of Perdition by betray­ing the Lord of Glory. Some have Preached [Page 137] and Prophecied in Christs Name, and in his Name have cast out Devils, and done many wonderful works; and yet were Hypocri­tical in all, and shall at last be numbred a­mong the workers of Iniquity, Mat. 7.22, 23. And does not constant Experience show, that many (who to Mans Judgment) made a good beginning, were Sober, Vertuous, Pi­ous; have afterwards fallen into scandalous courses of wickedness, and lived and dyed in them? Many (to the eye of Men) have bid fair for Heaven, and yet turned into Hell at last. Therefore O Christian, Fear and Tremble, use utmost care and diligence lest thou prove such an one. The Apostle Paul was careful and watchful, lest after he had Preached to others; he himself should prove a Cast-away, 1 Cor. 9.27. Surely there should be as great care in us. How woful, doleful, dreadful would it be; if after we have made fair shows of Religion, and fed our selves with hopes of Heaven a great while, we should be tumbled down into the Tor­ments of Hell? Doubtless there are many now in Hell, who for a while made as fair a show for Heaven as to outward appea­rance, as any of us do. This should make us look about our selves.

2. Many of Gods sincere Children, have thro' Unwatchfulness fallen into great Sins. When they have been off their Watch and Guard, their Spiritual Enemies (Temptations and Corruptions) have given them very sore Falls. Lot's Righteous Soul was vexed with the filthy [Page 138] Conversation of the Sodomites, 2 Pet. 2.7, 8. Yet soon after, he himself was guilty of great Filthiness, of repeated Drunkedness, and repeated Incest, even Incest with his own Daughters, Gen. 19.30. Aaron was a Godly Man, between Eighty and Ninety Years old, and yet join'd in making a Golden Calf to be worshipped by the Israelites. Oh vile Iniqui­ty! After this, Holy Moses, the Meekest Man in the World, spake unadvisedly with his Lips, provoked God, and excluded himself from entering into the earthly Canaan. David, that Man after Gods own Heart, after he had received many wonderful Deliverances, and great Advancement, became guilty of Adultery and Murder. Solomon, after the Lord had appeared to him twice, became guilty of vile Idolatry. The Apostle Peter, he denyed Christ with Cursing and Swearing. What shall we say to such things as these? Surely we should look on them as awful, solemn Warn­ings to us: They are written for our Admo­nition, that he who thinketh he standeth, may take heed lest he fall, 1 Cor. 10.11, 12. Have such eminent Saints, after long stand­ing in Grace, after many particular Victo­ries over their Spiritual Enemies, and after having done eminent Services for God; yet fallen into such Sins as the Scripture assures us they have? Then what will become of us? Are we sure, that we shall never fall as they have done? No, we are not sure of any such thing. If we do know that we are sincere Believers, then we may know that we shall not finally fall away; but shall be [Page 139] kept by the power of God thro' Faith unto Salva­tion, 1 Pet. 1.5. But we dont certainly know, that we shall be kept from sore falls, even into scandalous Sins. Therefore the falls of the Godly, should greatly quicken us to be very careful, watchful, diligent in walking in the way that leads to Salvation. The falls, wounds, groans of others; should be as a continual Alarm in our Ears, put­ting us continually on our watch and guard.

3. God useth his sovereign pleasure, in giving forth grace to the Children of Men. We cant obtain Salvation, unless we are sincerely and practically Godly; and we can't be so, without the help of Divine Grace. Without Christ we can do nothing, Joh. 15.5. We are not sufficient of our selves to think any thing as of our selves; but our sufficiency is of God, 2 Cor. 3.5. Now God acts as a Sovereign Lord, in giving forth his Grace: God is not our Debtor. If we wont hear him to day, he is not oblig'd to call on us to morrow. If we wont comply with his holy motions now, he's not oblig'd to con­tinue them to us. This consideration should quick [...]n us, to be careful and diligent in o­beying God, lest we provoke him to with­draw his Influences. Yea in our Text, the Apostle seems to have reference to this Ar­gument. For when he had said, Work out your Salvation with Fear and Trembling, his very next words (which have an Argumentative reference to them) are, for it is God that [Page 140] worketh in you both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure. As if he had said,

‘You can't work out your Salvation without the help of Gods Spirit, he affords his help accor­ding to his own sovereign pleasure: he may work when he will, and cease working when he will. If you carefully and diligently receive and comply with his gracious Influences; you may expect they shall he continued: to him that hath shall be given. But if you are careless, slothful, negligent; then remember God works at plea­sure, you dont know how soon or how far he may withdraw. Therefore let holy fear, quicken you to utmost diligence.’

God once said, Gen. 6.3. My spirit shall not always strive with Man. O Christian, fear and tremble, l [...]st thou shouldest provoke God to withdraw the Influences and Motions of his good Spirit. If hitherto thou hast been a Christian, only in Name and Profession; then speedily comply with Gods call, hear­tily imbrace Christ on Gospel Terms, lest by thy slothful wickedness, God be provoked ut­terly to withdraw his gracious Influences, and so thou perish for ever. On the other hand, if thou hast true Regenerating Grace in thee, and so shalt never finally fall away and perish; yet be careful and diligent to obey God, and comply with his holy Mo­tions, lest he leave thee to fall very foully, to the darkening of thine Evidence for Hea­ven, and the wounding of thine own Con­science. Davids great Sins, darkened his [Page 141] Evidence for Heaven, sorely wounded his Conscience; his inward troubles were as grievous as broken bones, Psal. 51.8. Peters gross Sins, caus'd bitter weeping. Well then, be careful and diligent in working out your own Salvation, because God acts as a Sove­reign Lord in giving forth his gracious In­fluences.

4. Sloth and Negligence in Christians above their Salvation, is a very great Sin; and often occasions very great Evils. 'Tis it self a very great Sin, for 'tis plain Disobedience to Gods Com­mand. He bids them keep their Hearts with all diligence; seek first the Kingdom of Heaven; strive to enter in at the strait Gate; and to look diligently, lest they fail of the Grace of God. So that Sloth in this Matter is plain Disobedi­ence to God; and 'tis also a practical De­spising and Contemning of his offered Mer­cy▪ and as 'tis a great Sin, so it often pro­cures great Evils. When Christians are sloth­ful and negligent in the Concerns of their Souls, they often become guilty of great re­markable Failings, visible and offensive to others; yea, they sometimes fall into gross Scandals. And this surely does very much hurt; it brings great Dishonour to the Name of God, of Jesus Christ. Davids Adultery and Murder, gave the Enemy great occasion to Blaspheme, 2 Sam. 12.14. O Man, if thou art a true Saint, and in a right Temper; then surely nothing will be so dear to thee, as the Glory and Honour of God, of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ has lov'd thee, given himself [Page 142] a Sacrifice for thee; he has died that thou mayst live: he has been loaded with Shame and Scorn from Men, that thou mayst be crown'd with Glory: And canst thou Dis­honour this glorious and gracious Redeemer? Canst thou wound his Name and Interest? How canst thou bear the Thoughts of this? Well, if thou wouldst not displease and dis­honour thy tender hearted, heavenly Father, thy precious and dear Redeemer; then be not slothful, but most careful and diligent in working out thine own Salvation. Again, if thou shouldst be careless, and fall into great Sins, this would greatly grieve the Ho­ly Spirit of God; the contrary whereto is expresly commanded; Eph. 4.30. Grieve not the holy Spirit, whereby you are sealed to the Day of Redemption. O Believer in Christ, wouldst thou not grieve that Holy Spirit, which en­lighten'd thy dark Mind, soften'd thy hard Heart, made thee a new Creature and a Child of God? Wouldst thou not grieve that Holy Spirit, who alone can assist, re­fresh and comfort thee, and lead the safe to Glory? Then work out thy Salvation with Fear and Trembling, with utmost Care and Di­ligence. Again, if thou shouldst be careless, slothful, and fall into great Sins; this might greatly hurt others: They may be scandaliz'd, offended, prejudic'd against the Ways of God for thy sake. It may be thy ill Exam­ple may be an occasion of their hardening in Sin and perishing for ever. Some think, Da [...]id's Scandals occasioned the Ruin of Mul­titudes. And how canst thou bear the [Page 143] Thoughts of this, that thy Sin, thy ill Ex­ample should hurt the Souls of others? Art thou not bidden to make thy light shine before others, that they seeing thy good works, may glorify thy Father which is in Heaven, Mat. 5.16. If thou wouldst not hurt but benefit, others by thy Example; then work out thy Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Again, if thou shouldst be slothful and fall into gross Offences, this might greatly wound thine own Soul and Conscience (as was hinted but now of David and Peter) there­fore if thou wouldst avoid unutterable wounds, stings, lashes of Conscience; and wouldst injoy true inward peace and sere­nity of Soul; then work out thy Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Indeavour to be inoffensive in word and deed; give no oc­casion of stumbling and finding fault, no not so much as to thine own Conscience. Make a business of Religion; exercise thy self to have always a Conscience void of offence, both towards God and Men.

5. A Christians working out his own Salvation, is a matter of great weight and Importance; therefore he should be most careful and diligent in it. 'Tis exceeding ridiculous for Persons to be serious in nice, needless, triffling matters; and yet triffling in what is weighty and im­portant. Yet too many, yea the most of Men are so. What will become of the Im­penitent Sinner? Why he must lie under the guilt of Sin, under the Wrath and Curse of God forever. He must burn in [Page 144] Hell for ever; be stung, lash'd, tormented with his own Conscience forever; dwell with exas­perated inraged Devils for ever; be inconceiva­bly miserable in Body and Soul to all Eternity. And is it not a matter of great weight and importance, to escape such misery as this? Should not utmost care, prayer, diligence be imploy'd in the matter? How much care, pains, cost will Men sometimes be at, to escape some small temporary evils? Surely then, they should spare no care, pains, watch­fulness and diligence that they may flee from the Wrath to come, and escape that Divine Vengeance which is insupportable. Ordina­rily, Men wont grudge any pains, nor stick at difficulties, to preserve their Houses when on Fire; their Estates, and much more their Lives when in danger. And should they not be ten Thousand times more sollicitous for their Souls, that they may escape Everlasting Inconceivable miseries? Yes indeed they should. For what shall it profit a Man if he gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul? or what shall a Man give in exchange for his Soul? Mat. 16.26. On the other hand, what is the por­tion of those that rightly work out their own Salvation? Why they shall have a far more exceeding, and an Eternal weight of glory; a never fading Crown; they shall dwell with God and Christ forever; shall have fulness of Joys, and rivers of Pleasure for evermore. They shall possess greater Good than Eye hath seen, Ear heard, or the Heart of Man is capable to conceive of. And surely, 'tis a matter of greatest weight and importance, [Page 145] For Men to strive after this: Surely they should use utmost Care and Diligence to obtain this Happiness. How much care, cost and pains will Men sometimes be at, to build one House, or one single Ship? How will they break their rest, jade and tire their Bodies and Minds, hazard Health and Life too; to in­crease their Outward Estate, their Earthly Treasures? And should they not be abun­dantly more concern'd for Heavenly than Earthly Treasures? Indeed they should. Scarce any that calls himself a Christian, will deny it in words; tho' Thousands do in their actions. Doubtless there are many who call themselves Christians, that never in their Lives took half so much pains to get to Heaven; as they have to get Twenty Shil­lings, yea to get a less value. But such are Fools and Mad-men (let their pretence to wisdom be what it will) all will count them so very quickly. Let a real Christian se­riously consider, of how great weight and im­portance it is to work out his own Salvation; and then let him be slothful and careless if he can. Sure I am, the greatest car and diligence should be us'd, to avoid the greatest evil and obtain the greatest good; there­fore it should be imploy'd in working out our own Salvation.

6. A Christian has many Enemies to hinder the working out his Salvation, therefore he should be the more careful and diligent an doing it. When a thing is found to be absolutely necessary (as the working out our Salvation, is already [Page 146] prov'd to be) then the difficulties that lie in the way, should not discourage but animate us, and make us the more resolute and di­ligent. Well, there are many difficulties which lie in the way, and tend to hinder a Christian from working out his own Sal­vation. In this grand work, Persons meet with difficulties from the World, the Devil, and their own Lusts.

1. From the World. The World is a be­witching thing to Men, ever since they first forsook God the Fountain of Living Wa­ters. If any Man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him. Friendship with the World, is enmity with God. Men must by Faith overcome the World, or else they can never get to Heaven. They should keep themselves unspotted from the World, if they would be pure and undefiled in Religion, Jam. 1.27. Alas, Men Souls are much en­dangered by the World, by it's Prosperity and Adversity.

1. By its Prosperity. When Rich and Pros­perous, they're in danger of forgetting God, of being proud, highminded, and of trusting in uncertain [...]iches. When the Fields of the Fool brought forth plentifully, he then thought of Eating, Drinking, and Luxuri­ous licencicus meriment for many Years to come, Luk. 12.19.

2. By i [...] [...] [...]ty. When Persons are ve­ry Poor, [...]ow apt are they very often to [Page 147] Steal, Rob, Lie, Cheat, Defraud; at least to Fret, Murmur, Repine and to be discontent? And these things are very obstructive to their Spiritual and Eternal Good. This pre­sent World in an evil World, (Gal. 1.4.) and may well be reckon'd among the Spiritual Enemies of a Christian, among the difficul­ties which tend to obstruct his Salvation. There's no Experienced Christian, but meets with so much difficulty from the World in his Spiritual concerns; as call for his very great care and diligence to oppose it.

2. From the Devil. The Devil is a Lye [...] and Murderer from the beginning; a grand E­nemy of Souls: He's the old Serpent, who stung and poysoned all Mankind in the Fountain-head, the first Adam. He is full of Subtlety, Spite and Malice; and employs all his Skill and Industry, to hinder Men from being Holy and Happy. He has ma­ny Wiles, Methods, Stratagems to Ruin them. The Consideration of such an Enemy, should make the Christian exceeding careful, watch­ful, diligent in working out his own Salvation. The inspired Apostle Peter thought so, when he said, 1 Pet. 5.8. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walketh about as a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devour. So the Apostle Paul, having mentioned the Devils, the fallen Angels, those Principalities, Powers, spiritual Wickednesses as Enemies to the Christian, he bids him Arm; Put on the whole Armour of God, mentions the Shield, Hel­met, Sword, &c. All must be put on, all [Page 148] diligently and carefully employed, to with­stand so dangerous an Enemy as the Devil is, Eph. 6. latter end. Those who are sloth­ful and careless, as though they had no en­vious Devils plotting against them; are most under their Power and most hurt by them. Those receive most Mischief from him, who are least Jealous of him, least watchful against him.

3. From their own Lusts. Their Lusts do war in their Members, Jam. 4.1. They war a­gainst their Souls. They are deceitful Lusts; that is, they would turn them out of the Way, out of the true Way of Faith and Holiness, which leads to Glory. The best of Christians have indwelling Lusts, which often put them upon the Evil they would not, and hinder them from doing the Good which they would: When they would do Good, Evil is present with them. Holy Paul met with a great Conflict with his own Lusts; and said, Rom. 7.23, 24. I find a Law in my Members, warning against the Law of my Mind, and bringing me into Captivity to the Law of Sin which is in my Members. O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this Death? Surely, the con­sideration of these constant, dangerous Ene­mies, should make the Christian use utmost Care and Diligence, in working out his own Salvation.


We may hence see,

[Page 149]1. Many call themselves Christians, who don't work out their Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Many professed Christians, seem to have lit­tle or no Concern or Care to get to Hea­ven. They pretend to hope for it, but will take no Pains for it: They pretend to hope for Heaven, but walk in the broad Way to Hell. If they have the Form, yet they deny the Power of Godliness. Though they profess to know God, yet in works they deny him; being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Tit. 1.16. But woful and dread­ful will their Condition be, if they don't speedily amend, by unfeigned Faith, Repen­tance, and practical Godliness.

2. We should all be quickned to work out our Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Our Time is short, our Work great; therefore great­est Speed, Care, Diligence is very needful to be used. Motives have been mentioned al­ready: By way of Direstion I would say,

1. Let us be much in Self-Examination about what's past, and Serious Consideration about what's to come. Let us Examine what's past, and be deeply humbled for our Sloth and Neg­ligence. Let us likewise seriously consider what's to come, even Death, Judgment, Eter­nity, and what's like to become of us. Se­rious Meditation on these things may prove very profitable to us.

[Page 150]2. Let us be much in Prayer to God, for his Grace to help us. Psal. 25.4, 5. Shew we thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. Psal. 119.133. Order my steps in thy Word, and let not any Ini­quity have Dominion over me.

[Page 151]

Sermon, VIII. The USE CHRISTIANS Should make, of Remembring their past SINS.

DEUT. IX. 7.

Remember and forget not, how thou pro­vokedst the Lord thy God to Wrath in the Wilderness.

THese Words were spoken by Moses to the Children of Israel, a little before they were to pass Jordan, and possess Canaan, [...].1. And as he tells them, they were go­ing [Page 152] to possess that good Land; so he cau­tions them against thinking that it was for any Righteousness of theirs, that God gave this good Land to them, v. 4. God dispos­sess'd and destroy'd the Canaanites, for their own Wickedness; and did not dispossess them, and make way for Israels coming in their room, for the sake of any Righteousness in the Israelites. v. 6. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good Land to possess it, for thy Righteousness, for thou art a stiff-necked People. And to prevent Proud, Self-conceited Thoughts in them, that they might not imagine that God gave them Ca­naan for the sake of any Goodness or Righ­teousness of theirs, he says to them in this 7th. V. Remember and forget not, how thou pro­vokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wil­derness; from the day that thou didst depart out of the Land of Aegypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord. They were Gods professing, Covenant Peo­ple, that were thus commanded to remem­ber their past Sins: And if this was the Du­ty of Gods People in Days of old, the same is the Duty of Gods People now.

From the Words we therefore may raise this Doctrinal Observation, viz.

DOCTRINE. It is the Duty of Christians, to remember and not forget their past Sins.

[Page 153] Moses requires Israel to remember their Sins, and not forget them. It was a Matter of so great Weight, that he possitively injoyns it, and plainly forbids the Neglect of it: Re­member it, muse and meditate on it, and often revolve it in your Thoughts, that you have Sinned against God, provok'd him; and take heed that you don't forget this, don't let it slip out of your Minds or Memories. He bids them remember their Sins in the Wilderness: They had been in the Wilderness about Forty Years; and very quickly after they came into it, they were guilty of grievous Transgressions (as well as of others afterwards.) Well, though they were so long ago committed, for so long time past, yet they ought to be Remembred and kept in Mind by them. Christians should do what they can, to remember all the Sins of their whole Lives past, and to forget none of them. David says, Psal. 51.3. My sin is ever before me. Neither should Christians remem­ber their actual Sins only, or the more gross and heinous of them; but the thoughts of their Personal Transgressions, should make them also remember their Original Sin. Davids thinking on the Murder and Adultery he had been guilty of, brought him to consider, that he was shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, Psal. 51.5. But more particularly, Christi­ans should remember,

1. Against whom their Sins are committed, and that is the Great GOD, Tho' some Sins [Page 154] are committed more immediately and directly against Men, yet they are all ultimately a­gainst God, inasmuch as they are a breach of his Law. 1 Joh. 3.4. Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law; for sin is a trans­gression of the law. We never sin against our Neighbour, but we break Gods Law in doing it; for the general nature of Sin is, that it is our Nonconformity to the Divine Pre­cept. Hence God says, Prov. 8.36. He that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own Soul. Eve­ry Sin wrongs the Soul, nothing wrongs the Soul but what is against God, therefore eve­ry Sin is against God. Every Sin (tho' more immediately against our Neighbour) is a Violation of Gods Law. Hence David when guilty of Murder and Adultery, yet said to God, Psal. 51.4. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight. Christians therefore should remember, that all [...] Sins are against God, the Great God, the ever blessed God their Maker, Preserver, and only Benefactor; every Sin is a practi­cal contempt of Gods supream, indisputable Authority. The very nature, venom and malignity of Sin is this, that it is against the ever Blessed and Glorious God. The evil of Sin must needs be great, because 'tis against so Great and Glorious an Object. Christians should endeavour so to remember their Sins, as to have a deep self-abasing sense of them; therefore they should remember, not only in general that they are all against the ever Blessed and Glorious God, but they should also remember,

[Page 155]2. The great Aggravations of their Sins.

And here,

1. They should remember, that their Sins ha [...] been committed against their God, their Covenant God. So says Moses to the Israelites in our Text, remember and forget not; how thou provokedst the Lord thy God; even that God who has taken you for his Inheritance, for his peculiar Treasure and People; that God who has made many great, large and preci­ous Promises to you. And as God has taken you for his peculiar People and Treasure, so you have taken him for your God, for your King, Lord and Lawgiver: you have vowed Obedience to him, promised to keep his Statutes and Commandments, Exod. 24.3.7. David said to God, Psal. 119.106. I have sworn and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous Judgments. Such an Ingagement (for the substance of it at least) is suppos'd to be made by all, who take God for their Covenant God: there's a Covenant Trans­action between God and them, and this con­sideration aggravates their Sins against him. Their sinning against God who is in Cove­nant with them, is not only a breaking of his Commands; but also of their own Vows and Promises. When Christians are guilty of gross Crimes, they are guilty of gross Lying or rather Perjury, because they act contrary to those Vows and Engagements, whereby they have bound themselves to obey God. This [Page 156] is a great aggravation of Sin, and should be remembred by Christians as such. Eccl. 5.4. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed.


2. Christians should remember that their Sins have been committed against much knowledge, and that's a great aggravation of them. He that knows his Masters Will and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; when he that falls short thro' Ignorance, shall escape with few, Luk. 12.47, 48. Tho' all Christians are not equal in knowledge, some know more than others, some are Babes and some grown Men; and tho' such as know most, yet know but in part, (1 Cor. 13.9) are short sighted in the things of God; hence David said, Who can understand his Errors; Cleanse thou me from secret faults, Psal. 19.12. The wisest and most knowing Christians, are guilty of sins of Ig­norance every day; I say, tho' things are thus, yet, as God shewed his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments to Israel, and dealt not so with every Nation, Psal. 147.19, 20. So he gives to all Christians generally, especially where the Reformation most prevails; greater means of light and knowledge than he does to other Nations. As for those who are well acquainted with the Bible, to be sure their knowledge in the main substantial parts of Christianity, in the main of their duty, to­wards God and Christ, and towards one ano­ther, [Page 157] must needs be so great, that their Sins, gross Sins especially, cannot but be much aggravated by being against knowledge. Nay possibly Christians sometimes sin, not only in general against knowledge, but also against the particular strivings of their own Con­sciences, and the Motions of Gods Spirit in them: This is still a greater aggravation of sin, and yet how often have we been thus guilty? If we search diligently into our past Lives, it may be we may all find that we have been frequently thus guilty. Did we never find strivings between Lust and Grace in our own Souls, and at last yield to our Lusts, to the grieving the Holy Spirit of God? We should surely remember such grievous aggravations of sin as these are.

3. Its a great aggravation of Sin, when com­mitted against God after the bestowment of many, great and singular Mercies. This Aggravation seems to be implied in our Text, thou pro­vokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the Wilderness. As if he had said to them,

‘God brought thee out of cruel Egyptian Sla­very and Bondage, with an high and mighty hand; he destroyed thine enemies in the red Sea, thro' which thou didst safely pass; he brought thee into the Wilderness, there took care of thee, gave thee Water out of the Rock, fed thee daily with Manna, Bread from Heaven; he did many, great and wonderful things for thee. He ma­nifested much sparing Goodness and Patience to­wards thee, he restrain'd and bridled in his An­ger, [Page 158] when it was just ready to destroy thee; thus he dealt with thee in the Wilderness, yet then and there thou provokedst him to wrath, not­withstanding all the singular discoveries of his Goodness to thee.’

Thus when Nathan comes to set forth the Aggravation of David's Sin, his Adultery and Murder, he says, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee King over Israel, and de­livered thee out of the hand of Saul, &c. Where­fore hast thou despised the Commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? 2 Sam. 12.7, 9. The Mercies as well as Commands of God, should bind us to his Service. Its a great Aggravation of Sin, that 'tis committed against a God that has bestow'd many and great Mercys on us. And in this Regard, none of us can Sin but with great Aggravation. The wages of Sin is Death, Rom. 6.23. And we are all Sinners, so by Nature, were sha­pen in Iniquity and conceiv'd in Sin; and therefore deserv'd Hell even before we were born. Therefore we are less than the least of Gods Mercies, Gen. 32.10. It is of the Lords Mercy we are not consumed, Lam. 3.22. Yet God has spared us hitherto; he has kept us out of Hell, which is better than we deserve. But besides the continuation of our Lives, keeping us out of Hell, yea lea­ving us room to hope for Heaven; I say, besides all these things, possibly all of us at one time or other have had very spe­cial and singular Deliverances, from hazar­dous Sickness, or from some eminent Dangers: [Page 159] It may be some peculiar Mercies at one time or other, have been bestow'd upon us, ei­ther in our own Persons, or in our dear Re­latives. Now all such singular Favours, are singular Ties, Bonds and Obligations to serve God; and so they heighten the Ag­gravation of Sins committed against that God, who has bestow'd such singular Favours. But those of us who are Christians indeed, the Workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works; the Spiritual Mer­cies bestow'd on us, are unspeakably great. God has given us a new Nature, united us to his Son, justified our Persons, in part sanctified our Souls, made us Heirs of Eter­nal Glory, if we are indeed true Believers, the Spiritual Benefits bestow'd on us are so many, so great, bought with such an invaluable Price, bestow'd in such a won­derful Manner, as that Eternity won't be too long a Space, wherein to admire and adore Divine Grace for them. Surely then, if willingly and knowingly we commit any one Sin against God, after the Bestowment of such invaluable Mercies, 'twill be an ag­gravated Crime indeed. As Nehemiah said, Neh. 6.11. Should such a Man as I flee? No sure, 'twould be a great Shame. So all true Christians might say, Shall such as we are Sin against God? What, such as we are, who have received numberless and matchless Benefits from God; shall such as we Sin against him? No sure, for this would be unspeakably Disobedient, Ungrateful, inex­pressibly Sordid and Abominable.

[Page 160]Thus in General, Christians should re­member their Sins as against God; as great­ly Aggravated in being against their Covenant God, against much Light, and after the Bestow­ment of many Mercies. And besides this in General,

They should endeavour Particularly to remember the more Particular Out-break­ings of Sin, which they have been charge­able with. In this Chapter, Moses puts the Israelites In mind of their more particular Transgressions, at Horeb, at Tabera, at Massah and Kibroth-hattaavah, v. 8, 22. Moses particu­larly remembers, his own speaking unadvised­ly with his Lips. David remembers his Adul­tery and Murder; his Sin was ever before him. Paul remembers what a bitter, cruel Persecutor he had been, and often mentions it with Self-condemning for it. If we have not been guilty of the most daring gross and open Trans­gressions, of scandalous Incest like Lot, or Drun­kenness like Noah, or Adultery & Murder like Da­vid; yet possibly at one time or other we have been shamefully Disobedient to our Parents or other Superiors, or have spoken Falsely, have broken some just and lawful Promise, spoken very Passi­onately (without Grounds) to, or of others; or have manifested some base Revenge; or been grosly Dull and Stupid in the Frame of our Hearts towards God. Without Doubt, all of us upon strict Search, may find many remar­kable particular Sins, which our Consciences cannot but severely condemn and check us [Page 161] for. It may be some of us that now are new Creatures, did a long time vigorously and perversely oppose the free Offers of Christ, and Motions of the Spirit of God in our Souls, before we heartily submitted to Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. Oh how Vile was such our withstanding the Calls of the Gospel, the Motions of the good Spirit of God! Surely, such our Sins should be particularly remembred by us. God is gra­ciously pleased to forget the Sins of his Children, true Believers; that is, as to the Guilt of them, he Pardons them. True Believers shall as certainly escape Eternal Condemnation and Misery, as if God had really forgotten they were Sinners (tho' this he can never do) or as if they had never Sinned. But tho' God does in this Sense forget our Sins, yet we in a true and proper Sense, should not forget but remember them. Nay, we should in general, remember the Infirmities, Im­perfections, Short-comings attending our best Duties, those performed with the greatest Sincerity and Fervency. When we have done our best we are but unprofitable servants, Luk. 17.10. There is not a just Man upon Earth, that doth good and sinneth not, Eccl. 7.20. When just Men do Good, perform Duty sincerely; yet there's Sin mix'd with, and cleaving to their Performances; none of them are exactly Perfect. This also Christi­ans should keep in Remembrance.

Now therefore we may Enquire,

[Page 162]

QUESTION. What's the Use Christians should make, of the Remembrance of their past Sins? Or, What are the Duties it should stir them up unto?

For Answer,

There are many Duties it should stir them up unto; some may be now particularly mention'd. The Remembrance of their past Sins,

1. Should make them very Humble and self-abased. Ezek. 36.31, 32. Then shall ye remem­ber your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loath your selves in your own sight, for your Iniquities and for your Abomi­nations. — Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O House of Israel. Great shame, confusion of face, self-judging, self-condemn­ing, self-loathing, self-abasing and abhor­ring, very well becames us, upon the Re­membrance of our Sins. Might we not well say?

‘Ah vile Worm; Ah ungrateful Wretch that I am; that I should forget my Maker, provoke my Preserver, rudely affront my only and glorious Benefactor, basely neglect my Redeemer; that I should so wickedly Disobey my God, who has laid me under numberless and strong Obligations, to consecrate my self wholly, only and continually unto him.’

[Page 163]Alas, it's utterly impossible fully to ex­press or describe, that self-emptying, self-loathing frame of Soul for Sin, that always becomes a true Christian. There's no Grace more Ornamental to a Saint, than Humility; and nothing tends more directly to bring this into Exercise, than the remembrace of our Sins. Can we have high thoughts of our selves? Nay, how can we have any other, but low, mean, self-abasing thoughts; when we consider how disingenious, base, un­grateful, and disobedient we have been to our most merciful and gracious God? May we not well say with him, Psal. 73.22. So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast be­fore thee. Prov. 30.2. Surely, I am more brui­tish than any man, I have not the understanding of a man. Isai. 6.5. —Wo is me, for I am un­done, because I am a man of unclean lips. A due remembrance, a deep sense of Sin, would make us more humble; indeed more low, mean and base in our own minds and thoughts, than could possibly be express'd by our words. The Remembrance of past Sins,

2. Should make Christians very thankful for all their Mercies, as free Gifts of God. Moses in our Text and Context puts Israel in mind of their Sins, that they might not think God bestow'd Canaan on them for the sake of their own Righteousness, as tho' they had deserv'd it. Have we Life, Liberty, Health. Strength, Food, Raiment, Friends, Relations, Reputa­tion, any Outward Comfort or true Inward [Page 164] Peace? Have we all or any of these things? Why these are all the free Gifts of God, we never deserv'd the least part of any one of them. We were no sooner Chil­dren, than we were Children of Wrath, Eph. 2.3. We have deserv'd Death, Hell, Damna­tion thousands of times over by our Sins. It's of the Lords Mercy we are not con­sumed for our Iniquities: whatsoever we have on this side Eternal Burnings, un­quenchible Flames, is meer undeserved Mer­cy, its the free Gift of God. And we should really think and esteem it so, if we had but a due remembrance of our Sins. Since there­fore we have by our Sins times without number deserved Eternal Misery, and are yet surrounded with innumerable Mercies, all of which are the free underserved Fa­vours of God; O how thankful should we be? Surely it becomes us to say, What shall we render to the Lord for all his Benefits, for all his underserved Benefits towards us? There are two sorts of things which we cannot number they are so many, and those are, our Sins against God, and his Benefits be­stow'd on us; this is wonderful indeed. Surely we should be deeply humble for the former; and as thankful for the latter. None are more thankful for their Mercies, than those who are most deeply humble and pe­nitent at the remembrance of their Sins. Remembrance of past Sins,

3. Should make Christians thankful to God for Restraining Grace. Have we been guilty so [Page 165] much as any one single time, of disobeying our Parents or other lawful Superiors, of profaning Gods Holy Name, of groundless Quarrelling, of Intemperance, Uncleanness, Lying, Passionate speaking and reviling? Do we remember that so much as at any one single time, we have been guilty of any one of these, or any such like Crimes? Then how comes it about, that we have not con­stantly lived in them? We have a root of bitterness, a sinful corrupt Nature still dwelling in us, our particular acts of Sin did flow from this corrupt Nature. Out of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts, Murders, Adulte­ries, &c. Well, how comes it to pass, that this bitter corrupt Fountain did not always even continually, send forth such cursed Streams? How comes it about, that we have not in the whole course of our Lives, lived in the most flagitious Crimes, and most scandalous Immoralities; for our corrupt Nature has in it, the root and seed of all manner of Abominations? Why 'tis the Grace of God that has kept us from Sinning, and nothing else has restrain'd us when we had an opportunity of Sinning. I dont mean, true sanctifying saving Grace: many are restrain'd from these and those out-breakings of Sin, which have no saving Grace in them. Well, so far as we have been restrain'd from Sinning, it is God that has restrain'd us. He that kept back Abimelech from de­filing of Abrahams Wife; and David from shed­ding the Blood of Nabal; has kept us back from all those Sins we have not committed, [Page 166] tho' we had an opportunity of committing them. When we remember how shamefully our Corruption has broken forth, we should be thankful for that Grace, which has re­strain'd it from breaking forth much more than it has. The Pharisee said, Luk. 18.11. God I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, Extortioners, Unjust, Adulterers, &c. Tho' we should not (like this Pharisee) proudly trust in our selves as righteous, if we have been outwardly more blameless than others; yet if we can as to matter of fact truly say with him. We have not been so wicked as others, then we should be humbly thankful for it. As we should with brokenness of Heart and deepest self-abasement of Soul, remember and repent of our past Sins; so with true thankfulness of Heart, we should acknow­ledge the restraints of Divine Grace, that have kept us from the more abundant out-breakings of our Corruption. It's matter of great thankfulness to God, that we are not all of us Murderers, Adulterers, Blasphemers; that we are not the most abominable Villains that ever liv'd on Gods Earth, for we should have been internally and externally as vile and wicked, as ever we had any possible op­portunity of being, if Grace had not pre­vented and restrained us. I have often thought, it's a great favour, an instance of the merciful Divine Protection, when Per­sons can in the Morning go out about their Affairs, and come safe home at Night, with­out broken Bones or any distressing Accidents. But I have often thought also, that it's still [Page 167] a much greater Mercy, when they can thus go out in the Morning and come home at Night; without having committed Adultery, Murder, Theft, or some daring and heinous Crime or other, since they have continually a corrupt Nature (the seed and root of all manner of wickedness) in them. When we remember, and most heartily abhor and mourn for our past Sins; let us also be thankful to God, that he has restrain'd and kept us back from Sin so much as he has done. The Remembrance of past Sins,

4. Should keep Christians from murmuring at their Afflictions. It's a thing too frequent, even in Gods own Children, to fret, mur­mur, repine at afflictive Dispensations of Providence. Jacob once complained of his Afflictions; saying, All these things are against me, Gen. 42.36. The Church complained and and said, Lam. 1.12. — Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow. Afflicti­ons brought both Job and Jeremiah to curse the Day of their Birth. How commonly will Christians tell of their Sickness, Poverty, Losses, Crosses, Disappointments, bitterly complaining of their Trials, showing great Discontent and Disquietness of Mind thereat? This is a great Fault; it's a greater Sin than many are aware of, for Persons to fault and quar­rel with the spotless Dispensations of Sove­reign Divine Providence. Well, one thing that occasions this Discontent and Murmur­ing is, the forgetting our own Sins. If we duely remembred our past Sins, our multi­plyed, [Page 168] aggravated Crimes; our repeated Transgressions; were we heartily affected with a Sense of our daily, unavoidable Infirmities, were we duely sensible, that the least of all these deserves Eternal Misery; I say, did we duely remember, consider, and affect our Hearts with these things, we should not then be so ready to Murmur and repine at Afflictions as we often are. All the Trou­bles, Sorrows, Difficulties we meet with ei­ther in Body or Soul, while here in this World; they are but meer Flea-bites, Shadows, Nothing, if compar'd to what our Sins de­serve. Where Sins lye heavy upon the Mind, Affliction lyes the lighter. Shall a living Man complain, a Man for the Punishment of his Sins? Lam. 3.39. No sure, if a Man rightly con­siders what his Sins are, he'll see no Cause to [...]omplain of any Punishment he meets with while he is Living. If Sin be suitably remembred, 'twill rather make a Christian say, as Mic. 7.9. I will bear the Indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. q. d. I know I have sinned against God, my Sins deserve more Misery than I bear; therefore what I do bear, I'll bear it Patient­ly, without Murmuring or Repining. If Sin be suitably remembred, 'twill make an af­flicted Christian Dumb with Silence, so as not to open his Mouth in way of complaining a­gainst God, Psal. 39.9. A suitable Remem­brance of Sin, will make a Christian in the midst of his Sorrows and Troubles, thank­ful that his Troubles are not more and greater, rather than fretful that they are so [Page 169] many and great. Remembrance of past Sins,

5. Should make Christians highly prize, and dayly apply themselves to, the Blood of Christ for Pardon. 'Tis sure, the least Sin deserves Eternal Misery; our innumerably many, and very great Sins, do as certainly deserve greater Measures and Degrees of Misery. There is deserv'd by some, a greater Damnation, Mat. 23.14. Well, Who can save us from this Misery? Who can cancel these Bonds? What can wash away the Guilt of our Sins, and free us from Eternal Death? Why Je­sus Christ and he alone, can save us from deserved Miseries. Nothing but his Blood can quench the Wrath of God that is kind­led against us. If a Man should give his first Born for his Transgression, the Fruit of his Body for the Sin of his Soul; if he should give thousands of Rams, or ten thousands of Rivers of Oyl; if he should give corruptible Things, such as Silver and Gold, all these would a­vail nothing to the satisfying for his Sins, and purchasing the Pardon of them, Mat. 6.7. 1 Pet. 1.18. No, nothing short of the pre­cious Blood of Christ can do the Business. He has purchased the Church with his own Blood, Acts 20.28. 'Tis only through that Blood▪ that we have Redemption, even the Forgivene [...]s of Sins, Eph. 1.7. His Blood washeth away Sin, it cleanseth from all Sin, Rev. 1. [...]. 1 Joh. 1.7. If the Blood of Christ be apply'd by Faith, it will cleanse from all Sins, tho' they have been of a deep Dye, as Scar [...]es [Page 170] or Crimson, Isai. 1.18. On the other hand, without the Application of that Blood, the least Sin cannot be forgiven; for there is Salvation in none other, Act. 4.12. Well then, since this Blood of Christ is the only Remedy, the only Salve that can cure those mortal Stabs and Wounds which our Sins have given to our Souls, Times without Number; Oh, How highly should we prize this precious Blood, when we remember our many and great Sins, and that nothing but this Blood can save us from the Miseries de­served by them? Surely, we should highly prize, and diligently apply our selves to, this precious Blood of Christ. And since we Sin every day, yea there's Sin mix'd with and cleaving to our best Duties; we should as constantly apply our selves by Faith and Prayer, to this Blood for Pardon. Consi­dering our past Sins and daily unavoidable Infirmities; the exercise of Humiliation and Repentance should be our daily work, so also should the exercise of Faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ. We are stung anew by Sin every day, therefore (if we have any true care for our Souls) we should every day by Faith look to Christ for healing. Remem­brance of past Sins,

6. Should make Christians ready to forgive one another, and meek and humble in reproving one another. When we consider our own ma­ny and great Sins, and yet hope in God thro' Christ for the Pardon of them; this should prompt us to forgive those who have wrong­ed [Page 171] us. Our Lord says, Mat. 18.34, 35. His Lord was wroth and delivered him to the Tor­mentors, till he should pay all that was due un­to him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father al­so do unto you, if ye from your Hearts forgive not every one his Brother their Trespasses. Eph. 4.31, 32. Let all Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger, and Clamour, and evil Speaking be put away from you, with all Malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another; even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. If we Pray as our Lord directs, Forgive us as we forgive others; and yet we do not really for­give them, but harbour Revengeful Thoughts against them; what is this but a Mocking of God, and Praying (in effect) that he would retain our Guilt on us and Damn us.

The Remembrance of our Sins should likewise make us meek and humble in reproving of others. Gal. 6.1, 2. Brethren, if a Man be overtaken in a Fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the Spirit of Meekness, considering thy self, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one anothers Burthens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ▪ If we would fulfil the Law of Christ, we should bear one anothers Burdens; and in a spirit of meekness indea­vour to reduce those that are out of the way. Phil. 2.3. Let nothing be done thro' strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. A due Remembrance of our Sins, will make us low and mean in our own eyes; and the more [Page 172] we are so, the more ready we shall be to esteem others, to be meek and humble in our carriage to them. The Remembrance of past Sins,

7. Should make Christians more watchful and fruitful for time to come. When we consider, how Satans Temptations and our own deceitful Hearts, have led us away from God and drawn us into Sin; this should make us cautious and watchful, lest we should again be so Insnared. We commonly say, The Burnt Child dreads the Fire. Our past falls and wounds, should make us the more care­ful of our steps for time to come. If from the Falls of others, the Apostle directs us to make this Application. 1 Cor. 10.12. Let him that thinketh he sta [...]deth, take heed lest he fall; Much more should our own past Falls, make us more careful and watchful for the future. So, the remembrance of our past Sins, should make us more fruitful in Holi­ness for time to come. When we consider, how little we have done for God in time past, nay how much we have done against him; it should make us double our dili­gence, and redeem our time for the future. When we consider, how much of our day of Life has been spent in the service of Sin; it should make us more diligently imploy the remainder of it, in the Service of Christ. Once more, the Remembrance of past Sins,

8. Should move Christians to trust in Christ for Spiritual Strength for the time to come. Except [Page 173] the Lord keep the City, the Watchmen wake in vain that keep it. Our own power and prudence in watching, will not do, unless we have strength from Jesus Christ. We must therefore Pray as well as Watch. When we remember our past Sins and Falls, we should Pray, that God, that Christ would strengthen us against Sin for the future. Without him we can do nothing, Joh. 15.5. But he can work in us to will and to do, of his own good pleasure; can strengthen us to do all things, Phil. 2.13. & 4.13. Well then, let us always despair in our selves; indea­vouring in the exercise of Faith and Prayer, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Let us make those Prayers, with which I shall now finish, Psal. 25.4, 5. Shew me thy ways, teach me thy paths: lead me in thy truth and teach me, Psal. 86.11. Teach me thy way, O Lord, I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. Psal. 119.133. Order my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Psal. 141.4. Incline not mine heart to any evil thing, to practise wick­ed works with men that work iniquity. Psal. 19.13, 14. Keep back thy servant also from pre­sumptuous Sins, let them not have dominion over me. —Let the words of my mouth, and the me­ditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my Strength and my Redeemer.

[Page 174]

Sermon, IX. GOD'S BOW Bent, and SWORD Drawn against the Wicked.

PSAL. VII. 12.

If he turn not, he will whet his Sword: He hath bent his Bow and made it ready.

THe Title of this Psalm shows, that ho­ly David was the inspired Author of it; it refers to a Time when he was in great [Page 175] Danger from wicked Enemies, v. 1. O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust, save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me. This Verse intimates both the Danger he was in, and the Method he took for Relief. As to the latter, namely, his trusting in God, he was encouraged to it from the Consideration of Gods being the Supream Governour of all Things, the Righteous Judge of all Men. He'll surely take his Time to appear emi­nently for the Righteous, and against the Wicked. v. 10. My defence is of God, who saveth the upright in Heart. v. 11. God judgeth the Righteous (that is, will appear to vindi­cate, help and relieve them) and God is angry with the wicked every day. Then fol­lows our Text, If he turn not he will whet his Sword. That is, if the Wicked does not turn from his wicked Ways, but goes on in his Sin (which is further described v. 14.) then God will whet his Sword, he hath bent his Bow and made it ready. These Expressions concerning God, represent him as an Enemy, armed, prepared with a Bow bent and Sword sharpened, to execute Vengeance on the Wick­ed, v. 13. He hath prepared for him the In­struments of Death. God had deadly Vengeance, mortal Vengeance in Store, for those who won't turn from, and forsake their wick­ed Ways. Yea, there's mortal Vengeance in Store for every such one, not any one of them shall escape in a Crowd: If he turn not (he, be he who he will that obstinate­ly goes on in Sin) deadly Vengeance shall overtake him. It shall certainly be so, for [Page 176] God himself will whet his Sword, bend his Bow, &c. God himself will execute Vengeance on the Wicked: Though he often employs Instruments in this Work, yet he never puts it intirely out of his own Hand in­to others. He'll do it himself, and see it throughly done. He assumes to himself this work, of executing Vengeance on the Wick­ed. Deut. 33.35, 41. To me belongeth Venge­ance and Recompence. — If I whet my glit­tering Sword, and mine hand take hold on Judg­ment; I will render Vengeance to mine Enemies, and I will reward them that hate me. Those who walk in ways of known Sin and Dis­obedience to God, are Enemies to God, Haters of him, and he himself (if they turn not) will render Vengeance to them. So that their ways of Sin, are to their own Hurt, Wrong and Damage: (For God says, Prov. 8.36. He that sinneth against me, wrong­eth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.) God will bring deadly Ven­geance, on them, if they turn not.

From the Words therefore we may raise this

DOCTRINE. Great is the Danger of those, who go on in sin­ful Ways.

Their Danger must needs be great, be­cause our Text tells us, If they turn not, God will whet his sword; that is, he'll cer­tainly [Page 177] punish them according to their ways, their deservings. He will thus punish them, partly in this World, but more fully and eternally in the next. As for ways of Sin, (if we would know what they are) they are ways of Disobedience to God. 1 Joh. 3.4. Who­soever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law; for sin is a transgression of the Law. Ways of Disobedience to God, of trangressing his Precepts, of breaking his Command­ments, are ways of Sin; and those who allow themselves in so doing, must needs be in great Danger.

That great is the Danger of those who walk on in ways of Sin, will appear if we consider these following Particulars, viz.

1. God perfestly and exactly knows all their Wickedness. Persons may possibly keep many of their Crimes secret from Men; they often strive to do so. Job 24.15. The Eye also of the Adulterer waiteth for the Twilight, saying, no Eye shall see me; and disguiseth his Face. But no Crime can possibly be kept secret from God; he perfectly and truely knows all the Thoughts, Words, Ways of all the Children of Men: He knows all the secret Springs and Motives of their Actions, what­ever their Pretences are. The Eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Prov. 15.3. There is no creature that is not manifest in his sight; all things are open and naked to the eyes of him with whom we have to do, Heb. 14.23. God perfectly knows all [Page 178] the Sins of every Person, the Time when, the Place where they were committed; and all Aggravations and Circumstances attending them. Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill Heaven and Earth? saith the Lord, Jer. 23.24.

2. God exactly remembers all their Sins. Some­times the ill Actions of Persons are much talk'd of when newly committed, but in a while there's a great silence about them, they're much forgotten. Nay, Persons frequently forget many of their own Words and Acti­ons, bad as well as good. But God perfectly and exactly remembers all the Sins of all Persons. Indeed when he Pardons the Sins of true Penitents, he is said not to remember them any more, Jer. 31.34. This signifies, that he'll never inflict the punishment deserv'd by their Sins. But Gods Knowledge being Infinite and Perfect, in strict and proper speaking, he cannot really forget or let slip out of his Me­mory or Knowledge, any thing that ever he has known. Therefore as he perfectly knows all the Sins of the wicked; so he per­fectly and exactly remembers them all, and that continually. Job said to God, Job 14.16, 17. For now thou numbrest my steps, dost thou not watch over my Sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up mine iniquity. God says concerning the wickedness of his People, Deut. 32.34. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? Men often store and treasure up things in [Page 179] Bags, and Seal them; that they may keep them safely and have them forth coming upon occa­sion: in allusion hereto, God is said to Seal up the Sins of the wicked. It notes his full, exact knowledge and remembrance of them. Oh Sinner, God remembers all thy past transgressions, every one of them, with all their aggravations; all the vanities and fol­lies of thy Childhood, Youth and Riper Age. It may be many Years ago, thou hast been guilty of Drunken Bouts, Unclean Practices, of vile Cursing and Swearing, of Profaning the Sab­bath, of Cheating Tricks, of mad abominable Frolicks, &c. Well, God exactly remembers all these, whether thou dost or no: they're as fresh and plain in God's View and Me­mory, as if committed but this very Moment; and if thou hast not heartily repented, then the guilt of these and all other thy trans­gressions, remains in full force upon thee. Hence Sinners are said, to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of Gods righteous judgment, Rom. 2.5. As they add Sin to Sin, so they treasure up yet greater and greater measures of Wrath and Vengeance; which shall surely be poured out upon them, if Repentance prevent not. Time, may possibly wear out thy remembrance of thy Sins, but it can never wear out God's remembrance of them.

3. God hates all Sin. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil: he cannot look upon ini­quity, Hab. 1.13. This alludes to the practice of Men, when they shut their Eyes [Page 180] or turn away their Faces, as not being able to bear or endure the sight of these or those Objects, which are loathsom, hateful and abominable to them. Men can't endure to see these or those things, which they hate and loath. So, God is said to be of such holy and pure Eyes, that he can't bear the sight of Sin. The Expression notes, his un­utterable hatred, loathing and abhorrence of it. He declares, that 'tis the abominable thing which he hates, Jer. 44.4. No Objects we can think of, can be so hateful and loathsome to us, as all Sin is to God. Nothing can be so displeasing and provoking to us, as all Sin is to God. It is because God's Holiness hates Sin; that his Power has made an Hell to punish it. Indeed Sin is the only thing that's loathsome, hateful and provoking to God; and all Sin is inconceivably abomina­ble to him.

4. God has threatned to punish Sin, and he is faithful it his Word. While Man was Inno­cent, God threatned Death in case of Dis­obedience, Gen. 2.17. And the Scripture plainly declares, the Soul that sins shall Die, Ezek. 18.4. The wages of Sin is Death, Rom. 6.23. Every Sin is Treason and Rebellion against God, and deserves Death; even E­ternal Death and Misery. And if Sin be not so Repented of, as to be Pardoned thro' the Blood of Christ, Eternal Death and Misery shall certainly be inflicted for it: for God is faithful to his Word. He cannot lie, Tit. 1.2. God is not a man that he should repent. Hath [Page 181] be said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spo­ken, and shall he not make it good? Numb. 23.19. It is impossible for God to lie, Heb. 6.18. God is Unchangibly true and faith­ful, and therefore his threatenings (if Repen­tance prevent not) as well as his Promises, shall certainly be accomplished. This God of Unchangible Truth has said, Wo to the wicked, it shall go ill with him, Isai. 3.11. Those who obey not the Gospel, shall be pu­nished with everlasting destruction, 2 Thes. 1.8, 9.

5. God has power sufficient to punish Sin, to fulfil all his Threatnings against it. Among Men, Judges sometimes want Power to inflict deserved Punishments on Offenders; God can never want Power so to do, for he is the Lord God Omnipotent. Criminals sometimes make their Escape out of the hands of Justice, Abscond, Break Drison, &c. But none can make their Escape from God. If they make their Nest among the Stars, he can bring them down. God has already shown, great Justice and Power in punishing of Sin. The strong, the mighty Angels that Rebell'd; he has laid in Chains, reserving them to that terrible Judgment which they tremble at the thoughts of. God Drowned the Old World for their Ungodliness: destroy'd Sodom & Go­morah, with Fire and Brimstone from Heaven for their Wickedness. All the Miseries, Plagues, Punishments, Deaths that were ever inflicted on the Children of Men; were the fruits of Sin. That God who has done these things, is the same God still, he's Unchangible: he [Page 182] can punish Sin more terribly than we can conceive of. Do we provoke the Lord to jealou­sy? Are we stronger than he? 1 Cor. 10.22. O Sinner, wilt thou provoke the Lord by walking in any way of known Sin? Thou Fool, thou Mad Man, God can tear thee in pieces so that none can deliver thee. God governs the World, he does what he will in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabi­tants of the Earth. Thy time, thy breath, all thy ways and concerns are in his Hand; he can do what he will with thee. God can if he pleases, soon strip thee of all thy outward Comforts and Injoyments, of thy Estate, Cre­dit, Friends: he can take away thy Health, fill thee with Sickness and Pain. He can a­waken thy stupid Soul, set thy Sins in order before thee, and make thy Conscience a gnawing tormenting Worm within thee; he can make thee a terror to thy self, and to all round about thee: he can destroy both thy Soul and Body in Hell, Mat. 10.28. Thou art absolutely and intirely in the hand of that God, whom thou provokest with thy wickedness; he can end thy Life and send thee to Hell in a Moment, if he pleaseth. Nothing can be so presumptuously mad and foolish, so eminently hazardous and dange­rous; as for Persons to Sin against and pro­voke, this Holy Almighty Jehovah.

6. God will show no Mercy to those, who are finally obstinate in Sin. God now calls them to turn and live, he waits to be Gracious; but if they will not hearken, will not turn, [Page 183] then (as our Text and the following Verse intimate) God has nothing but a sharpened Sword, a bent Bow, Arrows and Instruments of Death prepared for them. Those who being often reproved, harden their necks, shall suddenly be destroyed; and that without remedy, Prov. 19.1. Those who finally and obstinately re­fuse to turn to God, shall have Divine wrath and fury poured out upon them, but they shall have no Mercy. He that made them will not have mercy on them: and he that formed them will show them no favour, Isai. 27.11. There's a time coming, when all their Prayers, Cries, Tears will prevail nothing with God. He often call'd on them and they would not hear, they obstinately refus'd till the day of his Patience was over; therefore when they cry under the heavy pressures of his Wrath, he will not hear them. If they cry, Lord, Lord, Open to us, hell say, I know you not, Mat. 25.11, 12. Nay, he will laugh at their calamities, and mock when their fear comes as deso­lation, and their destruction as a whirlwind, when destress and anguish come upon them, Prov. 1.26, 27. To have the Great God pouring out his insupportable Vengeance on them, and in­stead of hearing their Cries and Petitions for Mercy; to mock and laugh at their inconceiva­ble anguish and distress, this is terrible indeed. Yet this will be the Portion of obstinate Offenders. God said of his obstinate People of Old, Ezek. 8.18. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and tho' they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear. In the day of God's [Page 184] Patience there's ground to Pray with hope of success (God regards the Prayer of the desti­tute, and will not despise their Prayer) but when God's abused Patience is ended, all the Prayers of Sinners will be disregarded. The wicked rich Man in Hell, tormented in those scorching Flames, begg'd for as much Water to cool his Tongue, as could hang on the tip of a Mans Finger; what a small pittance was this? He did not ask to be taken out of Hell, not ask to have those Flames quenched; not ask to have a running River, a living Fountain always by him to cool and refresh him; no, he ask'd but a small matter, a drop of Water, and that when he was in utmost necessity too, and yet 'twas deny'd him, Luk. 16 Chap. Oh be­lieve it, God has not one drop of Mercy for the finally obstinate and rebellious Sinner. In this World, Gods Mercy (as it were) goes a begging to them, 'tis brought to their very Doors and offer'd to them; Christ stands at the Door and knocks for entrance. They actu­ally injoy many outward Mercies, and Spiri­tual Eternal Mercies are offered to them and urged on them; but when God's Patience is ended, let them Cry and Pray as long as they will, not the least drop of Mercy shall be ob­tained for them. And as they shall not have the least drop of Mercy, so they shall have Wrath and Misery without mixture; Pain without mitigation or intermission. They shall be cast into outer darkness, where there's weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth: they shall be cut asunder; shall be plagu'd with the Worm that never dies, the Fire that never can be [Page 185] quenched, and that among Damned Devils for­ever. Truly, no Tongue can declare, no Heart conceive the greatness of this Misery. Oh, it's a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the living God, Heb. 10.31. Who knoweth the Power of his Anger! None can deliver out of his Hands; he'll punish his obstinate Ene­mies with Everlasting Destruction.

These Things thus briefly touch'd, if duely considered, will fully prove the Truth of our Doctrine, viz. That Great is the Dan­ger of those that go on in sinful Ways. If they had a right Sense of their Danger, it would fill them with Fear and Trembling. Oh how Ignorant, Stupid, presumptuously Daring and Fool-hardy are they, in thus running on the thick Bosses of Gods Buckler, and (as it were) challenging of his Almighty Vengeance a­gainst them! When Balaam's Ass saw an Angel with a drawn Sword, that dumb Beast was so concerned for its own Welfare, as to get out of the way of Danger, Numb. 22.23. But Multitudes of Sinners seem more Senseless, Stupid, Careless than that dumb Beast was. Our Text Represents Almighty God as having a Sword drawn (whetting it for Execution) and a Bow bent, and In­struments of Death made ready to punish the Wicked; and yet they go on Thoughtless and Fearless to meet Divine Vengeance. Many Beasts are more concerned for their own Safety, than Multitudes of Sinners are for their Precious, Immortal Souls. The Ox and Ass, the Crane and Swallow, may con­demn [Page 186] a Fearless, Thoughtless Multitude of Sin­ners. Nay, the very Devils believe Gods com­ing Wrath and Judgment, and tremble at the Belief of it; but many sinful Men won't fear and tremble, at the Threatnings and Wrath of God that are out against them. What, are they more Stupid than Beasts, more Care­less, Fearless, or Unconcern'd than Devils? But Stupid and Fearless as they are, if they go on in Sin till Divine Patience is ended, and Divine Vengeance comes to deal with them; then the stoutest and boldest of them all, will be fill'd with inconceivable Anguish, Horror and Confusion. Rev. 6.15,—17. The Kings of the Earth, and the great Men, and the rich Men, and the chief Captains, and the mighty Men, and every Bondman, and every Free­man, hid themselves in the Dens, and in the Rocks of the Mountains; and said to the Mountains and Rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the Face of him that sitteth on the Throne, and from the Wrath of the Lamb; for the great Day of his Wrath is [...]ome, and who shall be able to stand? This shows, that Sinners who were Great and Rich, Stout and Strong, and had made others Tremble, even Kings, yea chief Captains and mighty Men, puissant Warriors; possibly such as had approach'd many a fenced City, s [...]al'd the Walls, and slain the In­habitants, had storm'd and carry'd many a For­tress, strong Citadel and Castle; that had with in­trepid Boldness and Courage, fac [...]d the thundring Cannon, and encoun [...]red eminent Dangers; yet e­ven such, when they see the Almighty God cloath'd with Wrath and Vengeance to punish the Wicked; then their Courage f [...]s them, Paleness [Page 187] covers them, their Blood chills, they're fill'd with distressing fear, horror, despair; they would be glad to have the heaviest Rocks and Mountains fall on them and crush them to pieces, if that might hide them from the much heavier Wrath of that God, who has drawn his Sword and comes with Instru­ments of Death to execute Vengeance on them. But alas, no Rocks nor Mountains can hide them from the Wrath of a re­venging God; there's no possibility of their escape. Then great must be the danger of those, who go on in ways of Sin. Surely, none but Fools, none but Mad Men will make a mock of Sin; a mock of that which is inconceivably hurtful and dangerous.

But we may now proceed to some Use or Application. From what we have heard, we may Infer,

1. That wonderful is the Love of God in giving Christ to save Sinners. Since Sin is so abominable and provoking to God, and justly deserves terrible Eternal Vengeance; it must needs be amazing Love in God, that he should give his Son to save Sin [...]s. God commendeth his love to us, in that wh [...] we were yet Sinners Christ died for us, Rom. 5.8. So 'twas amazing Love in our Blessed Lord Je­sus Christ, that he should so Love Sinners as to give himself for them, an offering and a sacri­fice to God for a sweet smelling savour, Eph. 5.2. He loved us, and washed us from our Sins in his own Blood, Rom. 1.5. Amazing and Un­parallel [Page 188] is the Divine Love and Grace, in this Method of saving vile Sinners who just­ly deserv'd Everlasting Vengeance.

2. Wonderful is the Patience of God to Poor Sinners. Inasmuch as Sin is unutterably hateful, abominable, provoking to God, and all Sinners are intirely in his Hand that he could crush them in a moment if he would; I say, inasmuch as it is thus, its indeed ad­mirable and wonderful that God should spare Sinners, and bear with them as he often does. God could glorify himself in their speedy utter destruction if he would, 'tis as easy with him to turn them into Hell if he pleas'd, as for us to crush a Moth under our Fingers; and yet he often spares them long. It may be some Prayerless Persons, some Pro­faners of Gods Name and Sabbath; some Drun­kards, Fornicators, Adulterers, Thieves, Liars, Murderers, &c. and it may be others free from such gross visible Scandals, who yet live Impenitent and Unbelieving, are yet suffer'd to live till they're Twenty, Thirty, Fifty, Sixty Years Old or more: tho' they're all this while sinning against God, pro­voking him every day, yet he spares them and calls upon them to turn and live. This is amazing Divine Patience and Forbearance, It is riches of Goodness, Forbearance and Long­suffering, Rom. 2.4.

3. We should heartily and speedily repent, and turn from our Sins. If we turn not, our Text intimates, that God's sharpened Sword and In­struments of Death, will Execute Vengeance [Page 189] on us. But yet such are the wonders of Gods Love, Mercy and Grace; that if we heartily Repent of Sin, and Believe in Christ Jesus, we shall then be Pardoned and Saved. There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared, Psal. 130.4. He that covereth his Sin, shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh, shall have mercy, Prov. 28.13. Let us there­fore heartily repent and turn from all our Sins, and trust in Christ, submitting to him as the only Prophet, Priest and King of our Souls. Ezek. 18.30. — Repent and turn your selves from all your Transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 1 Joh. 3.23. This is his com­mandment, that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ. Isai. 55.7. Let the wicked for­sake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. Yea we should be speedy as well as hearty, in turning from Sin and believing in Christ; for we know not how near we are to Death & Judgment. We may not boast of to morrow, we know not what a day may bring forth, Prov. 27.1. If we are never so careless and thoughless, yet we dont know but that Death may remove us into Eternity, before to morrow morning. Heb. 4.7. —To day, after so long a time, as it is sa [...]d, to day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. It's therefore proper and needful that we take the advice, Eccl. 9.10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whether thou goest.

[Page 190]4. We should carefully watch against Sin, and the occasions of it. Since Sin is so provoking to God and dangerous to our selves, we should be most watchful and prayerful against it. Mat. 26.41. Watch and pray that ye enter not into Temptation. Yea we should carefully watch against the Occasions of Sinning, to avoid them as much as may be. Those things which tend to draw us into Sin and hurt our Souls, and have no tendency to benefit our Souls; should be carefully avoided. Need­less going to Taverns and spending time there, brings no glory to God nor good to Souls, but the contrary. Health-Drinking, what glory did it ever bring to God or good to Souls? it has often been an occasion of much Sin, & therefore of much Dishonour to God and hurt to Souls. A needless frequenting of ill Company, leads to abundance of Sin, Mischief and Misery: A Companion of Fools shall he destroyed. Surely, the thoughts of Gods Sharpened Sword and Bent Bow, of that Vengeance he is preparing for Sinners; should make us very watchful, careful, prayerful to avoid Sin, yea (and so far as we can) the occasions of Sinning, those things which lead and tend to the hurting of our Souls. Persons are apt to cherish in their own minds, many Pleas, Ar­guments, Pretences for these and those sinful (at least doubtful) Practices; but whole Armies of such vain pretences, would vanish at the sight of Gods drawn Sword and bent Bow: if they did but see the Vengeance deserv'd by Sin, it would greatly deter them from it.

5. We should grieve for the Sins of others. [Page 191] Their Sins dishonour God and hurt them­selves; we should grieve for them on both Accounts. I beheld Transgressors and was grie­ved, because they kept not thy Word, Psal. 119.158. If we should see Mad-men cutting, wounding, gashing themselves; would not this grieve us to the Heart? But Alas, Per­sons are more Injurious to themselves, while walking in Ways of known Wickedness, for thereby they deserve Eternal Punishments in Hell. Surely then, we should grieve for the Sins of others, sigh and cry for all the Abominations committed by those among whom we live, Ezek. 9.4.

6. We should do what we can to prevent Sin in others. Private Christians, by their good Examples, wholsome Counsels and Admoni­tions, fervent Prayers (as well as by the well Governing their own Families) should do what they can to prevent Sin in others. Ministers of the Gospel, should faithfully teach and exhort Persons to Repent of Sin, and Believe in Christ: They should lift up their Voice like a Trumpet, faithfully warn them to turn from their evil ways; whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. They should teach them to deny Ungodliness and world­ly Lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and god­lily in this World. If Ministers are unfaith­ful Watchmen, they will bring on them­selves the Guilt of the Blood of Souls. So, such as have Civil Authority, should do their utmost to prevent Sin in those under their Government. Good Laws should be seasonably made, and as faithfully executed. Civil Ru­lers [Page 192] should be a Terror to evil Doers, and a Praise to them that do well. They should do what they can, that the People under them may live in all Godliness and Honesty (which is their Duty) and may enjoy Peace and Quietness as a Fruit thereof, 1 Tim. 2.1, 2. Those in Civil Authority should do what they can, to prevent all that's contrary to the Godliness, Honesty, Peace and Quiet of the Subject. If Taverns are needlesly multiplyed and frequented; if Illuminations and Bonfires occasion growing Disorders, Rude Persons making themselves Judges who shall be spared or hurt in their Properties, whose Fences shall be burnt, and whose Habitations bro­ken or shatter'd; I say, these or any other things that tend to hurt the Morals of a Peo­ple, and are contrary to Peace and Quietness, Godliness and Honesty, are worthy to be con­sider'd, that so all proper Methods may be taken to prevent Wickedness, which is pro­voking to God and hurtful to Men. A serious, realizing Sense of the Vengeance of God a­gainst Sin, would make all Sincere Christi­ans more careful to avoid Sin them [...]lves, and to endeavour the Preventing of it in others also. A thousand Pleas, Arguments, Excuses to indulge sinful Practices, or plain leading Occasions of Sin; would vanish and disappear, before a realizing Sense of Gods Vengeance against Sin. Would Men dare to do this or that [...] thing, if they saw God standing with his Instruments of Death pre­par'd to render Vengeance to them?

[Page 193]7. We should count those our worst Enemies who prompt us to Sin, and those our best Friends who endeavour to prevent our sinning. Those who by Frowns or Flatteries strive to draw us into Sin; do endeavour to make a Breach between our God and our Souls to our utter Undoing. We should avoid such as Enemies indeed. But faithful Reprovers are faithful Friends, and should be so esteemed: Psal. 141.5. Let the Righteous smite me, it shall be a kind­ness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an ex­cellent Oyl, which shall not break my Head. And as we should desire for our selves, so we should show to others, such Friendship. There­fore we should have no Fellowship with the unfruitful works of Darkness, but rather reprove them, Eph. 5.11. We should consider one ano­ther, to provoke unto Love and good Works, Heb. 10.24.

[Page 194]

Sermon, X. CHRIST Coming in GLORY, TO Reward every one according to HIS WORKS.

MAT. XVI. 27.

For the Son of Man shall come in the Glory of his Father, with his Angels; and then he shall Reward every Man according to his Works.

THough in this World, the Godly often meet with great Adversity, and the Un­godly with great Prosperity; yet hereafter it [Page 195] will evidently appear, that the former, viz. the Godly, took a wise and safe Course; and the latter, viz. the Ungodly, took a very foolish and dangerous one. For however it fares with Persons in this present Life, yet in the Judgment Day, every one shall be dealt with according to his Works: This our Text plainly intimates to us. In the three Verses immediately preceeding our Text, we are Instructed, that those who would ap­prove themselves the sincere Disciples of Christ, must cleave close to him, whatever Difficulties they meet with in the Way; yea, though it be the losing of Life for his sake; and if they do so, they shall find their Lives, that is, they shall be happy for ever. But on the other hand, if any from Fear of worldly Troubles, or from Love to worldly Prosperity, should neglect to be the sincere Disciples and Followers of Christ, they, though they should be suppos'd to gain the whole World, would yet be miserable Losers at the last, for they would lose their own Souls; that is, be M [...]se­rable for ever.

Now the Truth of these things, is further declar'd and summ'd up in our Text, which tells us, there shall be a Day of Judgment, in which every Man shall be dealt with ac­cording to his Works. And it is the Lord Je­sus Christ, who is here called the Son of Man, that shall come in the Glory of his Father, accompanied with his Angels, to Judge the World, and to render to every one according to his Deeds.

[Page 196]There are two Doctrines that may be spo­ken briefly to from the Words, viz.

I. The Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall come in the Glory of his Father, with his An­gels to Judge the World.

II. He will then Reward every Man according to his Works.

DOCTRINE, I. The Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall come in the Glory of his Father, with His Angels, to Judge the World.

For the clearing of this Truth, we may consider the following Heads, viz.

1. The Lord Jesus Christ is both God and Man in One Person. He is the Only begotten Son of God, Joh. 3.16. His Eternal Son, of the same Essence and Substance with God the Father and God the Holy Ghost; for these Three are One, 1 Joh. 5.7. They are but One Divine Being, Substance or Essence. Christ therefore is a Divine Person, really and truly God by Nature, from Everlasting to Everlasting. He is God over all, blessed forever, Rom. 9.5. Christ also has an Humane Na­ture, united to His Divine Nature; so that he has T [...] distinct Natures (Divine and Hu­mane) in One Divine Person. This Hu­mane. Nature, the Son of God did in time [Page 197] (not from Eternity) take into Personal U­nion with himself. The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, Joh. 1.14. Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David ac­cording to the Flesh, Rom. 1.3. God sent forth his Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law, Gal. 4.4. So that Christ is both God and Man, he has a Divine Nature which he had from all Eternity; and an Humane Nature which he took to himself in time; now it is with respect to his Humane Nature, that in our Text (as well as in many other places) he is called the Son of Man.

2. This Lord Jesus Christ shall Judge the World. All the World of Mankind, all Hu­mane Persons that ever were in the World, or ever shall be in it, shall be called into Judgment, and Doom'd to a state of endless Misery or Glory, according to what their be­haviour was while they liv'd here upon Earth. And the Person that shall be the Supream, Universal Judge of all, that shall hear all Causes, and determine whether they're good or bad, and pronounce Sentence on each Person accordingly; I say, the Person that shall thus Judge the World, is the Lord Jesus Christ. God— hath appointed a day, in which he will Judge the World in righteousness, by the Man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead, Act 17.30, 31. It was Christ whom God raised from the Dead; and the Apostles were commanded to testify, That it is he which was Ordained of God, to be the Judge [Page 198] of quick and dead, Act. 10.39, —42. The Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing and his kingdom, 2 Tim. 4.1. By the Quick, we are to un­derstand those that shall be found Living on Earth, when Christ comes to Judgment (we shall not all Sleep, 1 Cor. 15.51. We which are alive and remain, 1 Thes. 4.17.) and by the Dead, such as shall be rais'd from the Dead at Christs Coming; all shall be Judged by Christ. Rom. 2.16. God shall judge the secrets of Men by Jesus Christ. It's evident therefore, that the Lord Jesus Christ who is both God and Man, shall Judge the World.

3. When Christ comes to do this, it will be in the Glory of his Father with his Angels. Come, from whence will Christ come to Judge the World? Ans. He will come from Heaven to do it. About Forty Days after our Saviour was rais'd from the Dead, in a Cloud he was taken up, and he ascended into Heaven, Act. 1.3, 9, 10. Christ is now in Heaven at Gods Right Hand, Rom. 8.34. And the Hea­vens must receive (retain) him till the times of the restitution of all things, Act. 3.21. There­fore when Christ sets himself to Judge the World, he will come, and 'twill be from Hea­ven (where he now is) that he will come. 2 Thes. 1.7. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven. This is called his Appearing, 2 Tim. 4.1. His appearing the second time without sin unto Salvation, Heb. 9.28. He has already appear'd once in this World, in a mean humbled state, in the form of a Ser­vant, [Page 199] to Die a Sacrifice for the Sins of his People to procure the Pardon of them; but his Second appearing when he comes to Judge the World, and compleat and perfect the Salvation of his People, will be very bright and splendid, full of Majesty and Glory. For he shall come,

1. In the Glory of his Father. Tho' Christ will descend from Heaven in his Humane Nature, when he comes to Judgment; yet he'll come incircled with Divine Glory. It will then be incontestibly evident to all An­gels and all Men, that Christ's Person is Di­vine, and that he's clothed with the Majesty and Glory proper and peculiar to such an One. Christ as a Divine Person, had Divine Glo­ry before Creatures ever had a being. Our Saviour a little before his Death, made that Prayer to God, Joh. 17.5. And now, O Father, glorifie thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the World was. Whether the Glory in which Christ will come to Judge the World, is in our Text call'd the Glory of the Father, because the Father by an Eternal and Ineffable Gene­ration communicates the Divine Nature and Glory to the Son; or whether, because Christ as Mediator is commissioned by the Father to Judge the World; I say, whether it be in the one or other, of these respects, we need not dispute, tho' I see no cause to reject ei­ther of them. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all Judgment to the Son, Joh. 5.22. God has exalted the Mediator, given [Page 200] him Dignity and Glory in appointing him to Judge the World, Phil. 1.9,— 11. The Glory in which Christ comes to Judge the World, is in our Text call'd the Glory of his Father. 'Tis call'd Christ's own Glory. Mat. 25.31. When the son of Man shall come in his Glory. So we read, Luk. 9.26: He shall come in his own Glory, and in his Fathers and of his holy Angels. He shall come in a Glory be­coming his own Divine Person, and becoming the Son of his Eternal Glorious Father. This Glory in which Christ shall appear at last, will be more Bright, Splendid, Majestick and Magnificent than ever was seen before. Christ's Glory shall be revealed, 1 Pet. 4.13. 'Tis called great Glory, Mat. 24.30. The glo­rious appearing of the Great God, and our Savi­our Jesus Christ, Tit. 2.13. Indeed Christ will then come with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the Trump of God, 1 Thes. 4.16. He shall come in Flaming Fire, 2 Thes. 1.8. He shall come,

2. With his Angels. Christ as God, is the Creator of all things. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made, Joh. 1.3. Christ also as Me­diator, has all things put under his Feet; he is Head over all things, Eph. 1.22. So that Christ both as Creator, and as an exalted Mediator, is Lord of Angels; they are His Angels: They are the Good and not the Fallen Angels, that are especially intended in our Text. All the good Angels shall be of Christ's Retinue, and help to set forth the Splendor of his Ap­pearance, [Page 201] when he descends from Heaven to Judge the World. He shall be Reveal'd from Heaven with his mighty Angels, 2 Thes. 1.7. All the holy Angels shall come with him, Mat. 25.31. All the Angels, the whole Number of the Heavenly Host, those bright Attendants in the Supream Court, shall accom­pany the Glorious JESUS at the Last Day. The Angels on particular Occasions, have some­times appeared so Bright, Dazling and Glo­rious, as to affright mortal Spectators. The Roman Souldiers that were set to keep and watch the Sepulchre of our Saviour, were greatly Amaz'd and Terrify'd at the Sight of an Angel. His countenance was like Light­ening, and his raiment white as Snow. And for fear of him, the Keepers did shake, and became as dead Men, Mat. 28.3, 4. And if the An­gels appeared thus Glorious on particular Occasions, doubtless when they shall all ac­company our Lord (and theirs) on the Judg­ment Day, they'l appear cloath'd with their brightest Robes of Light and Splendor, and therein help to set forth the unparallel Glo­ry of that most August and Grand Solemni­ty. The holy and mighty Angels, who shall then attend our Glorious Judge, shall gather together his Elect from the four Winds, from one end of Heaven to another, Mat. 24.31. And they shall gather the Tares, the Wicked, all things that offend, and them which do Iniquity, and shall cast them into a Furnace of Fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Mat. 13.40, — 42. Thus I have prov'd, that the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall [Page 202] come in the Glory of his Father, with his Angers, to Judge the World.

DOCTRINE, II. He will then Reward every Man according to his Works.

Our Text expresly declares this to us; and for the illustrating and further clearing of it, we may consider the following Particu­lars, viz.

1. All the Dead shall be raised. When Persons die, their Rational Souls parting from their Bodies (which Separation is Death) their Bodies then are usually buried in the Earth, where they Rot and return to Dust. Gen. 3.19. Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return. When a Person dies, then shall the dust return to the Earth as it was, and the spi­rit return unto God who gave it, Eccl. 12.7. But though the dead Bodies of Men shall Rot, return to their Dust; or though being drowned in the Sea, shall be eaten by Fish­es; yet all these dead Bodies, both of the Godly and Ungodly, shall be raised again, they shall live again, shall be re-united to those Souls which formerly dwelt in them, and shall abide united to them for ever. This Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead, is known only by Divine Revelation; there­fore our Saviour refers us to the Scriptures as the only proper Proof of it: For he said to the Sadduces, who denyed the Resurrection, Mat. [Page 203] 22.29. Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the Power of God. God who is infinitely Wise, Powerful and Faithful, has declared in the Scriptures, that the Dead shall be raised; there­fore we have the highest Ground and Rea­son firmly to believe that it shall be so. Tho' if Men would give way to their short-sighted, carnal Reason, they might make Ob­jections against the Resurrection, or fruitless Queries about the Way, Manner and Cir­cumstances of it; yet 'twould be foolish so to do. Acts 26.8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? It's incredible indeed that Men (by any meer Power of their own) should raise the Dead; but not incredible that GOD should do so. 1 Cor. 15.35, 36. But some Man will say, how are the dead raised up, and with what Body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. According to Scripture Language, that Man is a Fool who denies the Resurrection, or makes any doubting, needless Queries about the Way, Manner, Circumstances of it. What God has plainly declar'd, we should firmly believe. Now he has plainly declar'd, Joh. 5.28, 29. The hour is coming, in the which all that are in their Graves shall hear his voice; and shall come forth, they that have done good to the Resurrection of Life, and they that have done evil to the Resurrection of Damnation. Acts 24.15. — There shall be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the Just and unjust. Rev. 20.13. And the Sea gave up the dead which were in it; and Death and Hell delivered up the dead which were [Page 204] in them: And they were judged every one accord­ing to their Works. Thus 'tis evident! that all the Dead shall be raised.

2. All Persons shall be Cited and Convened, before the Throne or Judgment Seat of Christ. When Christ comes from Heaven at the Last Day, to be sure he will descend into this World as low as the Air, for there the Saints shall meet him. We — shall be caught up to­gether with them in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the Air, 1 Thes. 4.17. And when the Lord Jesus thus comes to Judgment, he'll sit on a Glorious Throne, Tribunal, or Judgment-Seat; and all Persons that ever lived in the World, shall be gathered together before him. Mat. 25.31.—33. He shall sit upon the Throne of his Glory, and before him shall be gathered all Nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 2 Cor. 5.10. We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, (that is, while he liv'd here in this World) according to what he hath done whether it be good or bad. Rev. 20.12. I saw the dead, small and great stand before God, and the Books were opened, and another Book was opened which is the Book of Life: and the dead were Judged out of those things which were writ­ten in the Books, according to their works. And not only the Dead, that is, such as shall then be rais'd from the Dead; but those also found Living when Christ comes, shall be Judged. [Page 205] For (as was hinted before) he shall Judge the Quick and the Dead, at his Appearing and his Kingdom, 2 Tim 4.1. Every one of us must give an account of himself to God, Rom. 14.12. All that ever liv'd in the World, must make their Personal Appearance before Christ's Judg­ment Seat; and must give an account of themselves, of their own Carriage and Behavi­our: none shall be allow'd to appear by Proxy, or to have an Attorney to appear in his room and answer in his stead; but every one must appear Personally.

3. The Lord Jesus will then render the Godly, Inconceivably and Eternally happy and blessed. There are but two sorts of Persons in this World, the Godly and the Wicked; and there will be but these two sorts in the Judgment Day. The Godly are call'd Sheep, and shall be at Christ's Right Hand, and he'll say to them, as Mat. 25.34. Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the Foundation of the World. Christ will then own them, call them Blessed, and make them Blessed, in possessing them of an Eternal Glorious Kingdom. Godly Persons, Sincere Believers, are in general described from their doing Good, and shall at last come out of their Graves to the Resurrection of Life, Joh. 5.28, 29. And in the Judgment Day, they shall receive a Reward of Grace for all the good they ever did. Indeed the endless future Glory and Happiness they shall have, is no part of it really meritted, purchased, deserved by them­selves; but it is the Gift of God, Rom. 6.23. [Page 206] It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom, Luk. 12.32. It's a free Gift of God as it comes to them; yet it's call'd a Reward too, inasmuch as God has freely promis'd it to those who seek and serve him; having put a firm connexion between their present Du­ty and their future Welfare. It is the Re­compence of Reward; God is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6, 25. The Lord Jesus will graciously Reward all the sin­cere Duties of the Saints performed in this World. He'll say, Well done thou good and faithful Servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee Ruler over many things: enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord, Mat. 25.21. He'll then mention, commend, and graciously reward, their Alms-Deeds, their Charity and Kindness. He'll say, Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you,—for I was an hun­gred and ye gave me Meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me Drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in; naked and ye Clothed me, &c. Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my Bre­thren, ye have done it unto me, Mat. 25.34,— 40. Their giving a Cup of Cold Water (which is but a small and cheap token of kindness) to a Disciple, shall not lose its Reward, Mat. 10.42. Their sincere Prayers also shall be Rewarded. Mat. 6.6. Enter into thy Closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, Pray to thy Father which seeth in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. So their Faith which they now exercise in this World, shall be found to Praise, Honour and Glory at the ap­pearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1.7. Indeed, [Page 207] none of their work and Labour in the Lord (and for the Lord) shall be in vaiu, 1 Cor. 15.58. For God is not unrighteous to forget their work and labour of love, which they have shewed towards his Name, Heb. 6.10. Yea, whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord whether he be bond or free, Eph. 6.8. All the good Actions of the Saints whether open or secret, shall then be graciously Rewarded. For God will bring every work into Judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil, Eccles. 12.14. All who in this World, sincerely Repent of Sin, Believe in Christ and Obey him; shall by him in the Judgment Day be openly Owned, Com­mended, and graciously Rewarded. And this, so far as it concerns the Godly, is what our Text calls, a Rewarding every man according to his Works. When Christ comes to Judge the World (the Apostle tells us) he will render to every man according to his Deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing, do seek for Glory, Honour and Immortality, Eternal Life. — Glory, Honour and Peace to every Man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. Rom. 2.6, 7, 10. And this good, great and gracious Reward which shall be bestow'd on the Godly; will be an Eternal one, an Happiness that shall never cease nor have an end. It is Everlasting Life, Mat. 25.46. A Crown of Glory that fadeth not away, 1 Pet. 5.4. And as a good and gracious Reward, shall in the Judgment Day be given to those, who in this World were Doers of Good: So,

[Page 208]4. The Lord Jesus will then render the Un­godly, Inconceivably and Eternally Miserable. Isai. 3.11. Wo unto the Wicked, it shall be ill with him; for the Reward of his hands shall be given him. The Sins of Omission which the Ungodly were chargeable with, shall be men­tioned and punished in the Judgment Day. Mat. 25.41, 42. Depart from me ye Cursed, in­to Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels; for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no Meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me no Drink. Many are apt to make light of Sins of Omission. How common is it for many to omit and neglect Secret Prayer, Family Prayer, Reading Gods Word, hearing it Preached, attending on Gods Publick Wor­ship, &c. Well, though the Ungodly make never so light of their Neglects of Duty, their Sins of Omission; yet these their vile Omissions, shall be openly published and punished in the Judgment Day. And so shall their Sins of Commission too; for God will bring every work into Judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil, Eccl. 12.14. All the ill Actions of the Wicked, whether open or secret, shall then be published and punished. God will then bring to light the hidden things of Darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the Heart, 1 Cor. 4.5. He'll Judge the Secrets of Men by Je­sus Christ, Rom. 2.16. Many Abominations are committed in Secret, secret Thiefts, secret Fornications and Adulteries, secret Drunkeness and Intemperance, secret Minders, &c. Well, but [Page 209] these hidden things of Darkness, these cursed, secret Crimes shall then be openly publish­ed before the World, and punished also. In this World, the Wicked often make light of wicked Words? How do many of them abound in Lyes, Reproaches, filthy obscene Speeches, profane Cursing, Swearing, &c. But shall these wicked Words go unpu­nished? No truly. Of every idle word that Men speak, they shall give an account in the day of Judgment; and by their Words the Wicked shall then be Condemned, Mat. 12.36, 37. In­deed all the sinful Thoughts, Words, Actions of the Ungodly and Impenitent, shall be pub­lished and punished in the Last Day; for that Day will be the Revelation of Gods righteous Judgment, Rom. 2.5. As very terrible pu­nishments shall then be inflicted on the Wick­ed, even those Treasures of Wrath they have been purchasing; so their Sins which have de­serv'd those Punishments, shall be mentioned and published; and by publishing of their Sins, there will be revealed and manifested the Righteousness of God, in inflicting their Punishments on them. He will then render to every Man according to his deeds; — to them that are contentious, and obey not the Truth, but obey Unrighteousness, Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish, on every soul of man that doth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile, Rom. 2.6, 8, 9. Thus Christ will deal in the Judgment Day with those that obey Unrighteousness, that live Unrighte­ously; yea, thus he'll deal with every Soul of them particularly, not so much as any [Page 210] one of them shall escape. Gods Hand will find out all his Enemies. Enoch Prophe­sied of the Judgment Day, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute Judgment upon all, and to con­vince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodlily committed; and of all their hard speeches which un­godly sinners have spoken against him, Jud. v. 14, 15. Not only some, but all the hard Speeches, and all the Ungodly Deeds of the Wicked, shall be brought into Judgment, openly publish'd before the whole World of Angels and Men, justly condemn'd and punished. The Un­godly shall then be Sentenc'd, to Everlasting Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels: they shall go away into Everlasting Punishment, Mat. 25.41, 46. They shall be with the Worm that never dies, be cut asunder, be cast in­to outer darkness; have weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth: they shall be punished with Everlasting Destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, 2 Thes. 1.9. This will be the Portion of the Wicked, this is what the Ungodly are hastening unto. But, do Sinners consider this? Can they dwell with devouring Fire, with the never dying Worm, with Everlasting Burnings? When they neglect God, and Christ and their Souls, and live Wickedly, they are but treasuring up Wrath against the day of Wrath; they are increasing their Guilt and Misery. But alas, stupid Sinners walking in the broad way; are little or nothing concerned about their end, and the Eternity they're going to. And [Page 211] as all Ungodly shall be rewarded according to their Works, and made Inconceivably and E­ternally miserable; so, the more wicked any have been on Earth, the more miserable they shall be in Hell, in the Lake that burns with fire and brimstone. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sydon in the Day of Judgment, than for those obstinately Impenitent under the Preaching and Miracles of Jesus Christ our Lord, Mat. 11.22, 23. Some shall receive a greater Damnation, Mat 23.14. All the Im­penitent shall have great Damnation, but some shall receive greater Damnation and Punish­ment than others. Tho' all the Saints shall be Inconceivably happy and glorious; yet doubtless there will be degrees of glory; One Star differing from another Star in glory, so also is the Resurrection of the dead, 1 Cor. 15.41, 42. He that delivered Ten Pounds to his Ten Servants, granted greater Preferment to him that gain'd Ten Pounds by his One, than to him that gain'd but Five Pounds by his one, Luk. 19.13.—19. So, tho' all the wicked shall be eternally and inconceivably miserable; yet he that rewards every one according to his works, will make those most miserable who have been most wicked.

We may now proceed to some brief USE or Application.

From what we have heard, we may Infer,

1. Miserable will be the Condition of the wicked, notwithstanding all their Prosperity in this present World. Sometimes those who live and die un­godly [Page 212] and impenitent, yet in this World are outwardly very Prosperous, they Increase in Ri­ches, their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart can wish: they're sometimes cloth'd in Purple and fare Sump­tuously every day. Indeed the wicked are sometimes so incircled with Outward Prospe­rity and Glory, that the Godly themselves are apt to envy them; but there's no ground to envy them, for they are in a woful con­dition. They're under the guilt of Sin, the wrath and curse of God: they are but trea­suring up of wrath against the day of wrath, and the Revelation of Gods righteous Judgment, Rom. 2.5. Now they serve Sin and Satan, neglect God, Indulge themselves often in those cursed Crimes, which they would by no means have known so much as to a few of their next Neighbours; but very quickly even in the Judgment day, all their Sins open and secret, of Omission and Commission, shall be publish'd and laid open before the World: and for such their Sins, the wicked shall then be sentenc'd to Eternal Punishments in Hell. So that their condition will be Inconceivable miserable notwithstanding all the present Prosperity they can possibly Injoy.

2. Happy will be the State of the Godly, notwithstanding all their adversity in this present World. In this World, the Godly shall have Tribulation, Joh. 16.33. And they often meet with great Tribulation, so that if in this world only they had hope, they would be of all Men most miserable. Well, but notwithstanding [Page 213] all their trouble and adversity in this World, yet they'll be Inconceivably happy and glo­rious for ever. For very quickly, they shall have a glorious Resurrection, their vile bodies shall be fashioned like to the glorious body of Christ, Phil. 3.21. All their exercise of Grace, their Sincere Duties in this World whether open or secret; shall in the Judgment day be o­penly mentioned, commended, and graciously rewarded by Christ their gracious and glori­ous Redeemer, their Lord and Master, and their Judge. It will then plainly appear, that however they were despis'd and contemn'd in the World, yet they serv'd the most kind and gracious Lord; and that none of their labour for Him was in vain. Then also shall all their Sufferings for Righteousness sake, be acknowledged and graciously re­warded. Our Lord said to His Disciples: Matt. 5.11, 12. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoyce and be exceeding glad, for great is your Reward in Heaven. Rom. 8.18. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.

3. We should firmly believe the Resurrection of the dead, the coming of Christ in Glory to Judge the World, and to reward every Man accor­ding to His Works. These things, the Infalli­ble Word of God plainly declares to us, and they are the strongest Arguments & Motives to true Piety; therefore we should most [Page 214] firmly believe them, and continually realize the truth of them to our own Souls.

4. We should live under the governing Influ­ence of this belief. When Christ comes in glory [...] judge the World, this bright Ap­pearance of His, will work Inconceivable shame, horror, terror, confusion to those who neglect and disobey him (whom he'll then try, con­demn and punish before the World) and it will work Inconceivable Joy, Gladness, Tri­umph in those, who in this World sincerely be­liev'd in and obey'd Him. Surely, we should live agreably to the firm unwavering belief of these things; therefore we should not In­dulge or allow our selves in any thing now, which we should be asham'd to have openly publish'd before the World in the last day: we should do nothing now, which we shall be asham'd to own and stand by in the Judg­ment day. Let us live, as realizing the com­ing Judgment. If Sinners saw Christ de­scending from Heaven in Glory, heard the last Trumpet Sounding, saw the Graves open­ing and the Dead rising to be Judged; if Sin­ners realiz'd these things, would they dare to act as now they do? Would they neglect God, and Christ, and their own Souls? Would they neglect Prayer & other Duties? Would they cheat and lie, profanely Curse, Swear and Blaspheme? Would they haunt Taverns, frequent Evil Company, spend their Time in Idleness, in Wicked Gaming, Drunkeness, Uncleaness and other Cursed Practices? Would Sinners do such things as these, if they realiz'd the [Page 215] coming Judgment? Doubtless they would not. And yet the coming of Christ, the raising the Dead▪ the rewarding of every Man according to his works; we should account as real and certain, as if we now saw them with our eyes: for these things shall Infallibly come to pass. Let us believe it, and live accor­dingly; and therefore never Indulge any Sin of Omission or Commission; but heartily re­pent of all our Sins, believe in Christ, sub­mit to and obey Him, glorifie Him with our Bodies & our Spirits, in all things approve our Hearts and Consciences to Him. Let us live, as if the last Sentence were Sounding in our ears, to the Godly, Come ye Blessed; to the Wick­ed, Depart ye Cursed into everlasting fire. I shall finish with, 2 Pet. 3.10, 11. The day of the Lord will come as a theif in the Night, in the which the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat; the Earth also and the works that are there­in shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness.

[Page 216]

Sermon, XI. Disobedience TO THE GOSPEL, Is a Despising of GOD.

I. THES. IV. 8.

He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not Man, but GOD.

MEN don't care to be despis'd them­selves, even then when they deserve contempt; yet they often despise the ever blessed God, who is most worthy of the high­est honour, esteem and love. Men can't bear such vile treatment from one another, as they too frequently offer to the most High God. [Page 217] That Men do sometimes despise God, is plain­ly suppos'd in our Text, as well as asserted in other Places of Scripture. In the 1. v. of this Chapter the Inspired Apostle exhorts the Christian Thessalonians, to abound in such a walk, or holy practice, as he had taught them in Preaching the Gospel; even such a walk as would please God. After this general Ex­hortation, he more particularly cautions and warns them against Uncleanness; and then adds in our Text, He that despiseth, despiseth not Man, but God. It is as if he had said to this purpose.

‘I and others who have faithfully Preached the Gospel to you, are but Ministers, Messengers of God, Ambassadors of Christ; 'tis Gods truth, His mind and will (not cuningly devised fables, 2 Pet. 1.16. nor commandments of Men, Mat. 15.9.) that we declar'd to you; there­fore those who don't live agreably to this Gospel Preached to them, they despise not Men, but God.’

Not Man but God, the meaning is, he despi­seth not only Man who declares this Divine Message, but also God who sends the Message; or the aggravation of this despising is, that 'tis not so much against the Messenger (a frail mortal Man) as against God that sends both Message and Messenger. So, when Israel Mur­mured against Moses and Aaron, Moses said to them, What are we? Your Murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord, Exod. 16.2, 8. So Peter said to Ananias, Act. 5.4. —Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. The great aggravation of the Sin was, that it, was chiefly, principally, ultimately against God as the object of it. So, the Apostle having ex­horted [Page 218] the Thessalonians, to live agreably to the Gospel faithfully Preach'd to them (which Gospel, was not the word of Men but of God, 1 Thes. 2.13.) on supposition any of them liv'd contrary to it, says of such an one, He is a Despiser; and not a despiser of Man only, but which is more vile and abominable, a despiser of God also.

From the words we may observe this

DOCTRINE. Those under the faithful Preaching of the Gospel, who live contrary thereto, are Despisers of God.

Here are Three Propositions, viz. (1.) Mi­nisters should faithfully Preach the Gospel. (2.) Some under such faithful Preaching, live contrary to it. (3.) Such are Despisers of God.

PROP. I. Ministers should faithfully Preach the Gospel.

Such a faithful Preaching of the Gospel, is necessarily suppos'd as the Foundation of what is said in our Text, about Despising of God. For the clearing of this Proposition, we may consider,

1. All meer Men, at coming from fallen Adam, are Sinful and Guilty. The first Adam was a publick Person, representing his Posteri­ty. In his falling from God, Humane Na­ture became Sinful and Guilty. All his Poste­rity [Page 219] are Sharers in the Guilt of his first Sin, and have a sinful Nature derived to them. By one Man Sin entred into the World, and Death by Sin; so Death hath passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned. — By one Mans Disobe­dience, many were made Sinners. Rom. 5.12, 19. As coming from fallen Adam, we are Children of Wrath by Nature; were shapen in Iniqui­ty and conceived in Sin; have Hearts de­ceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Every Mouth must be stopped, and all the World are guilty before God, (Rom. 3.19.) and the Wages of Sin is Death; it deserves Eternal Damnation in Hell.

2. God of his infinite Love, gave his only be­gotten Son Christ Jesus, to save Men from this sinful, miserable Condition. 1 Joh. 4.9. In this was manifested the Love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the World, that we might live though him. Christ purcha­sed his Church with his own Blood, gave him­self a Ransom for them, bought them with a Price, bare their Sins in his own Body on the Tree, was made a Curse, to redeem Sinners from the Curse of the Law, Gal. 3.13. He was manifested to destroy the Works of the Devil, to bless Men in turning them from their Iniquities, saving them from Sin, mak­ing them Holy, saving them from Wrath to come, and bringing them to endless Glory. He suffered, the Just for the Unjust, that he might bring us to God, 1 Pet. 3.18.

3. Persons must turn from Sin to God in Christ, [Page 220] if ever they would obtain Salvation. Christ did not come to save Men in their Sins, but from their Sins, and from the Misery deserved by them. Therefore Sinners must Repent or Pe­rish, (Luk. 13.5.) Believe in Christ, or be Damned, (Mark 16.16.) become sincerely Holy, else they can't see God, and be Happy, Heb. 12.14. The Scope and Design of the Gospel is, To turn Men from Darkness to Light, from the Power of Satan to God; therefore they must have their Sins, with Abhorrence turn from them, trust in Christ's Merits for Pardon; Love, Obey and Serve God Sin­cerely, if ever they would be Saved. Christ is the Author of Eternal Salvation, to them that obey him, Heb. 5.9. But those who will not that he should reign over them, are his Enemies, and shall be slain before him, Luk. 19.27.

4. Ministers should faithfully Preach these Things to Men. The Command to them is, 1 Tim. 4.2. Preach the Word, (that is, the Word of God, his Mind and Will made known in the Scripture,) be instant, in season, out of season; rebuke, reprove, exhort, with all Long-suffering and Doctrine. They must teach Men, to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded, Mat. 28.20. They should plain­ly Preach, Declare, Publish Scripture Doctrines, Precepts, Promises, Threatenings. They should testify to Men, Repentance towards God, Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20.2 [...]. Should plainly tell them of their Sin and Danger, warn them to forsake their Evil Ways, to believe in Christ, to live Holily, that they [Page 221] may die Safely. They should urge Men to deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, to live sober­ly, godlily and righteously, in this present World; for so the Grace of God, which brings Salvation, teaches and requires Men to live, Tit. 2.11, 12. Thus Ministers should faithfully Preach the Gospel.

PROP. II. Some under such faithful Preach­ing, live contrary to it.

Indeed many under the faithful Preach­ing of the holy Prophets, Apostles, and of our holy Redeemer too; liv'd contrary to the holy Doctrines, Precepts, Exhortations that were given to them Indeed in every Age, too ma­ny who hear the Gospel, yet live contrary to it. Here therefore we may enquire,

QUEST. When way Persons be said to live contrary to the faithful Preaching of the Gospel?

ANSW. I might say in general, When they live in the Service of the Devil, of their own Lusts and Corruptions, then they live con­trary to the Gospel; for that requires them to cleanse themselves from all Filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting Holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7.1. It's true, a perfect Freedom from Sin, exact, compleat Holiness, are not attain­able in this Life. There is not a just Man up­on Earth, that doth good and sinneth not, Eccl. 7.20. If we say we have no sin, we deceive our selves; and the truth is not in us. 1 Joh. 1.8. [Page 222] But though Persons can't get quite free from Sin in this World, yet they must hate and war against their Lusts and Corruptions, strive to subdue and mortify them; they must not live serving and obeying of them, for this is quite contrary to the Gospel. There­fore under this Proposition, I'll briefly mention a few general Heads, and say, Persons live contrary to the Gospel,

1. When they live in gross, vicious, scandalous Practices. Many under the Gospel live in a Course of Drunkeness, that worse than beast­ly Practice. They are every now and then Drunk, if not reeling, staggering, and wallow­ing in their own Filthiness, yet they drink to Invi [...]ible Excess. This is quite contrary to Gods Word, which requires Persons to live soberly, denounceth Woes against Drunkards, and plainly says, they shall not inherit the King­dom of God Again, some live in filthy, un­clean Practices, Fornications and Adulteries; and what can be more contrary to Gods Word than this is? For Gods Word says, Thou shalt not commit Adultery, Flee Fornication, Whore▪ mongers and Adulterers God will judge, Fornica­tors and Adulterers shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, &c. Again, some are very Unjust and Unrighteous in their Carriage towards Men; some will Rob and Steal; others who won't go so far as that, yet will Cheat, Defraud, Oppress, Extort in their Dealings. This is quite con­trary to Gods Word; for that says, Thou shalt not steal. That no Man go beyond or defraud his Brother in any matter, because the Lord is the [Page 223] Avenger of all such, 1 Thes. 4.6. As ye would that Men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise, Luk. 6.31. Thieves and Extortioners, shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

2. When they disregard and slight the Day, Worship and Ordinances of God. Gods Word requires, that we should Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy. Therefore when Persons profane the Lords Day, his holy Sabbath, by Idleness, Sleeping, Gaming, or minding worldly Affairs, as if it were a common Day; they then act quite contrary to Gods Word; for this Day should be spent in serious Exercises of Religion, both Publick and Private. Again, God bids us Pray always, Pray without ceasing; Praying always, with all Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit, Eph. 6.18. Publick-Prayer, Fa­mily-Prayer Morning and Evening, Secret or Clo­set-Prayer; all these should be diligently at­tended by every Christian, in the proper, re­curring Times and Seasons thereof. There­fore Prayerless Persons, those who never, or but seldom call on God, they live directly con­trary to his holy Word. Prayerless Persons will be condemn'd from that, Phil. 4.6. In every thing by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made known to God. Those who neglect Secret-Prayer, will be condemn'd from Mat. 6.6. Enter into thy Closet, and when thou hast shut thy Door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. So, those who will suffer a little uncomforta­ble Weather, or small trivial Inconveniences, [Page 224] it may be often nothing but Sloth, to keep them from attending on the Preaching of Gods Word; they act contrary to Gods Word which says, Faith comes by hearing, Hear and your souls shall live, Desire the sincere Milk of the word that ye may grow thereby; not forsaking the as­sembling of your selves together, Heb. 10.25. Therefore when Persons without any suffici­ent Bar in the way, neglect to hear the Gos­pel Preached on Lecture Days, especially on Lords Days; therein they cast contempt on God, despise his Ordinances, as tho' it were not worth their while to hear what the great God has to say to them. Possibly if they knew of a Market, Auction or Vendu [...] [...]ey would go and look for a good bargain; but when the Gospel is Preach'd, which offers Christ that Pearl of great Price, and Invites them to buy tried Gold that they may be Spiritually Rich, white Raiment, Wine and Milk without Money and without Price, (Isai. 55.1.) I say, when these things are offered in the Gospel, they contemptuously neglect to hear them. So, those who disregard the Sacraments, Bap­tism and the Lords Supper, take no care to re­ceive them, nor to obtain the Spiritual bene­fits represented by them; they act quite con­trary to Gods Word, Mat. 28.19, 20.

3. When they have little or no regard to the Government of their Tongues. The well gover­ning of the Tongue, is an Important Article in the Christians conduct, and tends greatly to adorn his Profession. But if a Man seem to be Religious, and yet bridleth not his Tongue [Page 225] but deceiveth his own heart, his Religion is vain, Jam. 1.26. How many are there who fall under this condemnation, whose unbridled Tongues prove their Religion to be vain? (1) Many Indulge a profane Tongue, they rend the Holy and Dreadful Name of the eternal God, by their horrible Oaths, Curses, Blaspemies. Such profane wretches look like the first born of the Devil, act as if they had hell in their Hearts foaming out of their Mouths; and seem to dare and challenge the third Command­ment, which says, Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain. (2) Some Indulge an angry Tongue, if they're but a little cross'd or thwarted, oh how Hot, Firy, Passionate are they? They're for sending out a flood of rage, as tho' they would drive all before them, as tho' they were of that wicked temper, Psal. 12.4. With our Tongues will we prevail, our Lips are our own, who is Lord over us? These act quite contrary to Gods word which says, Psal. 34.13. Keep thy Tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. (3) Some Indulge a Medling Tongue, they'll be Medling and Prating about almost every Person and every Matter, tho' they're not concern'd therewith. They are much for or­dering and directing in, censuring and con­demning of, Matters that don't belong to them. They speak evil of things they know not, are buisy bodies in other Mens matters. These act contrary to that word: 1 Thes. 4.11. Study to be quiet, and to do your own business. (4) Some Indulge a Light, Frothy, Lascivious [Page 226] Tongue; they'll vomit out nast and rotteness in their obscene words. The opening of their Mouths, is like the opening of a Se­pulchre that lets out stink and noisomness; or like the Lancing of a putrifi'd Ulcer that lets out Filth and Corruption. This is as contrary as can be, to Eph. 4.29. Let no corrupt communi­cation proceed out of your Mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may mini­ster grace to the hearers. As for Filthiness, Foolish Talking and Jesting which are not con­venient; let them not be once named among you, for this becometh Saints, Eph. 5.3, 4. (5) Some Indulge a backbiting, reviling, slan­d [...]ing Tongue: Their Tongues are as Swords, as Sharp Rasors working deceitfully, they cut the throat of their Neighbours Reputation, they cut and hack his good Name all to pie­ces. This is quite contrary to Gods word which sayes, Jam. 4.11. Speak not evil one of another, Brethren. Tit. 3.2. Speak evil of no man. Revilers shall not Inherit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. (6) Some Indulge a false lying Tongue in matters of dealing. Pos­sibly he that Sells, will affirm his Wares or Goods to be Sound and Good, when he knows the contrary: Possibly the Buyer will say, it is Naught, it is Naught, till he gets it below the worth, and then brags of his good bargain. Many are so false in dealing, that there's scarce any believing what they say. It may be they'l make Possitive Promises, when they have neither Ability nor Design to fulfill them. They wont bear to have another give 'em the lie, they take it as a great Affront; but [Page 227] they give themselves the lie, prove themselves Lyars very frequently, by being false to their possitive Promises and Ingagements. This is very contrary to that Simplicity and Godly Sincerity, which well becomes us, 2 Cor. 1.12. It's contrary to Eph. 4.25. Wherefore putting away lying, Speak every man truth with his Neighbour.

Sure I am, those who have little or no regard to the Government of their Tongues, have little or no regard to the Word and Authority of God. They are not of David's Spirit who said, Psal. 39.1. I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my Tongue. We're told, Jam. 3.2, — If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. But those who have unbridled Tongue, they break God's bands and cast his cords from them, (Psal. 2.3.) disregarding and slighting those awful words of our glorious Judge: Mat. 12.36, 37. Every Idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be Justified, and by thy words thou shalt be con­demned.

Again, Persons live contrary to the Gospel,

4. When they're under the Governing Influence of an Envious, Spiteful, Revengeful Spirit. As our first and great duty is, to Love God with all our hearts; so our next is, to Love our Neigh­bours as our selves. The Scripture does a­bundantly Inculcate, press, urge this duty of Brotherly Love; he that hates his Brother is a Murderer. 1 Joh. 4.7, 8. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God: and [Page 228] every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love. Our Saviour said, Joh. 13.35. By this shall all men know that ye are my Disci­ples, if ye have love one to another. We should love our Neighbours, heartily desire and endeavour their Welfare, rejoyce in their Welfare, grieve for their Adversity. If therefore we care not how it goes with them, or envy & grieve at the Good they do or enjoy, or rejoyce in their Adversity, or in their Sin because it tends to hurt & blast them; I say, if such a Spirit as this prevails in us, 'tis quite contrary to the Gospel, which says, Rom. 12.15. Rejoyce with them that re­joyce, and weep with them that weep. So, if we are of a spiteful, revengeful Spirit, and will by no Means forgive Injuries; this is as contrary as can be to what Gods Word says, Rom. 12.17, 19. Recompence to no Man Evil for Evil. — Dearly beloved, avenge not your selves. Mat. 6.14, 15. If ye forgive Men their Trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not Men their Trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your Trespasses. So, Eph. 4.31, 32. Let all Bitterness, and Wrath, and An­ger, and Clamour, and evil Speaking, be put a­way from you, with all Malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one ano­ther, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Therefore, as for spiteful malicious Persons, they are rather the Children of the Devil, that Lyar and Murderer from the beginning (who seeks whom he may devour) than the Children of God, who is Love, and delights in Mercy. Persons live contrary to the Gospel,

[Page 229]5. When they are under the governing Influ­ence of a worldly Spirit. Jam. 4.4. The Friend­ship of the World is Enmity with God. To be carnally minded is Death. All that is in the World, the L [...]st of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life; is not of the Father, but is of the World, 1 Joh. 2 26. Earthly Riches, Honours, Pleasures, are sometimes call'd the carnal Man's Trinity. Some are Lovers of pleasures more than Lovers of God; have an higher Value for sensual Gratifications, than for any Converse or Communion with God. So, some love the praise of Men more than the praise of God, Joh. 12.43. If they can but be applauded and honoured by mortal Men, they care not what the Eternal God thinks of them. Others, they make Gold their god. Psal. 49.6. They trust in their Wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their Riches. Their chief Study and Labour is, to get and enjoy Riches, though they lose their Souls thereby. 1 Tim. 6.9, 10. They that will be Rich (that are set and resolv'd upon it, right or wrong) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown Men in destruction and perdition. For the love of Money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves through with ma­ny sorrows. Nothing can be more contrary to the Gospel, than for Persons to indulge such a carnal, worldly Spirit; for the Scope of the Gospel is, to bring Sinners to God, to subdue their Estrangedness and Alienation [Page 230] from him, reconcile them to him through Christ, conform them to his holy Image; and to make them esteem his Favour as Life, his loving Kindness as better than Life; to thirst after God, as the Hart after the Wa­ter Brooks; to esteem nothing in Heaven or Earth, comparable to the Communicati­ons of his Grace and Favour. But alas, of many it may be said, Their god is their belly, they glory in their shame, they mind earth­ly things; and such are Enemies to the Cross of Christ, (Phil. 3.18.) Enemies to what Christ who was Crucified, requires of them. Tho' they profess to know God, yet in works they deny him; being abominable, disobedient, and to eve­ry good work raprobate, Tit. 1.16. Once more, Persons may be said to live contrary to the Gospel,

6. When they are destitute of unfeigned Re­pentance of Sin, and Faith in Christ Jesus. Too many under the Gospel, content themselves with a Name to live, though they are spi­ritually dead; with a Form of Godliness, though they deny the Power of it. They content themselves with outward Shows, Pro­fessions, Performances of Religion; tho' their Hearts were never truly humbled and broken for Sin, never emptyed of themselves, never brought off from their own Righteousness; though they never as self-condemned Sinners, heartily embrac'd Christ as Prince and Savi­our, as the only Prophet, Priest and King of their Souls, All such Persons disobey the Gospel. Though Persons are never so Or­thodox [Page 231] in their Faith and Profession; never so strict and constant in the Externals of Religion; never so blameless and commenda­ble in their outward Behaviour; yet, if they have not been born of the Spirit, nor had the washing of Regeneration, nor been created in Christ Jesus unto good Works; if they have not reciev'd Christ by such a Faith as purifies the Heart, and works by Love; they never heartily obeyed the Gospel of God. For the Scope of the Gospel is not to make Men Hypocrites, to reform their outward Behaviour, and suf­fer Sin to reign in their Souls: No indeed, but that with the Heart they should believe unto Righteousness, and with the Mouth make confession to Salvation, Rom. 10.10. God searches the Heart, sees the whole Frame, Temper, Dis­position, Behaviour of it; and requires that it should grieve for Sin, turn from it with utmost Abhorrence of it, trust in Christ a­lone for Justification, yield unfeigned Sub­mission to his Authority, and Obedience to his Precepts. Jam. 4.8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you; cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded. None but the pure in Heart, shall see God, Mat. 5.8. Indeed God tries the Heart; he can't be deceiv'd, and won't be mock'd; if the Heart be not sound in his Statutes, right with him, and stedfast in his Covenant; then he's not pleas'd with such a Person, nor does he accept of any of his Services. Rom. 8.8. They that are in the Flesh (that is, Un­regenerate) cannot please God. Heb. 11.6. Without Faith it is impossible to please God. [Page 232] Hypocrites may flatter themselves, and pro­voke God, but please him they cannot; for he requires that they should worship him in Spirit and in Truth, and glorify him with their Spirits as well as with their Bodies, 1 Cor. 6.20. The end of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure Heart, and a good Consci­ence, and of Faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1.5. There­fore, if Persons draw near to God with their Mouths, and honour him with their Lips; and yet remove their Hearts far from him, then they worship him in vain, (as to any saving Bene­fit to themselves) Isai. 29.13. with Mat. 15.8, 9.

Having shewed in these few general Hints, that some who live under the faithful Preaching of the Gospel, yet live contrary to it, we may proceed to

PROP. III. Such are Despisers of God.

Those who Disobey God, are said to De­spise him. David's killing Uriah the Hittite, is call'd a Despising the Commandment of the Lord, 2 Sam. 12.9. God said to his People, Lev. 26.15. If ye shall despise my Statutes, or if your Soul abhor my Judgments, so that ye will not do all my Commandments, but that ye break my Covenant. Those therefore who disobey the Gospel faithfully Preached to them, they despise God.

1. Because 'tis the Gospel of GOD which they disobey. The Holy Bible, the Scriptures, they are God's Word and not Man's. Holy Men [Page 233] of God, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. 1.22. Holy Men were infalli­bly moved by Gods Spirit, to declare Gods Mind to those to whom he sent them. So, those who wrote the Scriptures, were infalli­bly assisted by Gods Spirit in doing of it. 2 Tim. 3.16. All Scripture is given by inspira­tion of God.

2. Ministers are but God's Servants, in faith­fully Preaching the Gospel. They are but Stew­ards of the Mysteries of God. The Gospel of Reconciliation is committed to them, they are Ambassadors of Christ, (2 Cor. 5.20.) speak in his Name and by his Authority, when they faithfully Preach the Gospel. They are but Gods Servants in faithfully publishing his Will; therefore (as he bids them) they must lift up their Voice as a Trumpet; tell Men of their Sin and Danger, and warn them to turn and live. They must declare God's Mind, whether Men will hear, or whether they will forbear, Ezek. 2.7. Wo be to them if they do not Preach the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9.16. If they don't faithfully warn Men (as God bids them) to turn from their evil Ways, they'l bring the Guilt of the Blood of Souls on themselves. Therefore, when they faith­fully Preach the Gospel, if Men disobey it, they disobey GOD, disobey the Message he sends to them; and therein throw Scorn & Contempt upon God, despise him, as though he were not worthy to be minded, regarded, or obeyed by them.

USE. We may now proceed to the Use or Application. From what we have heard we may Infer,

[Page 234]1. That Ministers should Preach nothing but what's agreeable to Gods Word. They are Am­bassadors, and should stick close to their In­structions. Their Commission runs, 2 T [...]m. 4.2. Preach the Word. 'Tis God's Word they must Preach and Publish. Paul could say, 1 Cor. 11.23. I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you. Ministers should not Preach their own Whims, Fancies and In­ventions; nor say, Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken it. They should not get into the Pulpit to tell their own Stories, but to deliver God's Message agreeably to his Word. They should Preach no Doctrines as Divine, but what are agreeable to the Scrip­tures; forbid nothing as Sin, but what Gods Word declares to be so; require nothing as Duty, but what they have Scripture Warrant for: They should lay no Burdens on Men's Consciences, but what Gods Word lays there.

2. We should all be deeply humbled, that we have despised God so much as we have done. If those Civil Rulers, whose proper Work it is to issue out Proclamations, enact and pub­lish just Laws; Subjects should endeavour to understand the same, that they may conform thereto. How much more then, should we Read and Hear the Word of the Great GOD, the Eternal KING Study and Pray too, that we may understand and obey it? So far as we have neglected to Read and Hear Gods Word, to understand and obey it; so far we have despised God. And where is the Person, that is not at least in some grievous [Page 235] Measure guilty? We have not us'd such care and diligence as we should have done, to hear, understand, and obey the word of the living God, time one Lawgiver who can save or destroy; this we should be deeply hum­bled for.

3. It's unreasonable and groundless, to be offen­ded with Ministers for the sake of Gospel truths; or with Gospel truths for the sake of Ministers. Many are apt to be offended with Ministers for their Preaching, tho' it is plainly agrea­ble to the word of God. They can quietly hear a Minister Preach against Sin in gene­ral; can hear him condemn Pride, Unrighte­ousness, Evil Speaking and the like, in general termes; but when their Sins are pretty plain­ly and particularly described and condemned in the word Preach'd, then they're angry with the Preacher. They're ready to say, the Mi­nister Intended them in particular, when pos­sibly he never knew, that they personally were ever guilty of this or that crime in particu­lar, which he condemn'd in his Preaching, Very often when Persons are touch'd to the quick, their Sins laid open and condemn'd, their guilty Consciences smitten by the faith­ful Preaching of the word; then they're dis­gusted at the Preacher; apt to hate and revile him, and to say as Ahab of that faithful Pro­phet Micajah, 1 King. 22.8. I hate him, for he doth not Prophesie good of me, but evil. They hate him that rebukes in the Gate, Amos 5.10. The wicked often hate, faithful Reprovers who are their best Friends; tho' such Friends offer them Pearls (faithful Reproofs, are so) they'll turn [Page 236] again and rent them. Such treatment of Mi­nisters for their dealing faithfully, is unrea­sonable and abominable. What, would you have Ministers Prophesie smooth things; and cry Peace, Peace when there is no Peace? Would you not have them faithfully declare God's Mind; if you would, why are you angry when they do it? If a Servant brings to you a Letter from his Master, that contains grievous things in it; you have no reason to be offended with such a Servant, he did but his duty to deliver the Letter as his Master bad him. So when Mi­nisters faithfully Preach Gods word, tho' it pierceth Conscience never so deeply, stings and wounds never so sharply; yet you shou [...]d not be angry with them for it, they do but their duty in faithfully declaring Gods Mind and Will: Instead of being blamed they de­serve to be commended. If Men can't bear sound Doctrine, 'tis because they have itching Ears and distempered Hearts. Faithful sear­ching Sermons, displease none but those who Indulge such Lusts and Corruptions as should be slain by the Sword of the Spirit. The end of Preaching, is not to tickle an itching ear, and gratifie a corrupt fansie; but to Instruct the Mind, reach the Conscience, move the Will and Affections to every thing that's Ho­ly, Just and Good; and to move them against the contrary. It's therefore unreasonable to be displeas'd with Ministers, when they faith­fully aim at these things in Preaching.

And as it's unreasonable to be offended with Ministers for faithfully Preaching the Gospel; so it's unreasonable to be offended with the Gos­pel [Page 237] for the sake of Ministers. Too many are apt to act, as tho' they were Qualifi [...]d & Au­thoriz'd to censure Ministers; sometimes they'll condemn the Voice as being too low, or it may be too high; sometimes the Style as not being Polite, Correct and Curious enough for their nice squeamish humours; sometimes the Method as not being Logical enough for their Phylosophi­cal genius; and by thus faulting one thing or other which they're pleas'd to dislike in the Preacher, they let slip and disregard the weigh­ty and divine truths delivered by him. The Apostle in his Preaching, Indeavour'd to com­mend himself to every Man's Conscience in the sight of God, 2 Cor. 4.2. And did not speak in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but whi [...]h the Holy Ghost teacheth, 1 Cor. 2.13. Yet some of his pround, self-conceited Auditors made bold to censure him, saying, 2 Cor. 10.10. His bo­dily presence is weak, and his Speech contemptible. If this great Apostle was thus censured and despis'd, no wonder if ordinary Ministers are tho' they do never so well. Well, but what­ever opinion you have of Ministers, yet don't think meanly of what they Preach agreably to Scripture. Don't despise heavenly Trea­sures, because they're convey'd in earthen Ves­sels. When great and weighty Truths and Duties are Preached, if Men disregard them because of some dislike they have to the Preacher; this shows great and prevailing Corruption in their Minds. If Men were well an hungry, they would be glad of wholsome food, tho' not dish'd and garnish'd after the newest nicest mode. New born Babes, should [Page 238] desire the sincere Milk of the word that they may grow thereby. If Persons did hunger and thirst after Righteousness, they would prize & value Divine Truths tho' in never so plain a dress.

Don't take upon trust all that Ministers Preach, don't believe it as a Divine Truth meerly because they deliver it, but try it by the word of God: 1 Thes. 5.21. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. When the Apostle had been Preaching to the Bereans, he commends them, That they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scrip­tures daily whether those things were so, Act. 17.10, 11. They readily and gladly heard the word Preach'd, and as diligently search'd the Scriptures, to see whether what was Preach'd agre'd thereto. This was noble indeed. If Mi­nisters Preach contrary to the Scriptures, you have a divine Warrant to reject it. Isai. 8.20. To the Law and to the Testimony, if they speak not accor­ding to this word; it is because there is no light in them. But if Ministers Preach agreeably to the Scriptures, then reject it at your Peril. Act. 5.39. If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest hap­pily ye be found to fight against God. He that des­piseth, despiseth not Man but God; he that dis­obeyeth, disobeyeth not Ministers but God that sends them. When Ministers Preach agrea­bly to the Scriptures, they may truly say, Thus saith the Lord; and those who reject it, do re­ject the Lords Message to them. When Mi­nisters call on you to Repent of Sin, heartily to Believe in Christ Jesus, or to do this or that Duty requir'd by Scripture; then remember, the Great GOD by His Messengers calls on [Page 239] you to do these things, and to neglect them (how mean soever the Messengers in them­selves are) is rebellion against Heaven, against your Law-giver and your Judge. Let us therefore hear and obey Gods Voice, in the Mouths of His faithful Messengers. Let us not think it enough, to commend good Ministers, or good Sermons, this alone wont please God nor save your Souls; but let us Live Gods Word, obey His Voice, do as He bids us. This is the way to have a blessing. Jam. 1.21, 22, 25. Wherefore lay a part all filthiness, and super­fluity of naughtiness; and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your Souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. — But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth there­in, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Sermon, XII. Trusting in GOD, Yields Perfect PEACE.


Thou wilt keep him in perfect Peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trust­eth in thee.

WE live in a changible, uncertain World; if we rightly consider the Nature and [Page 240] Course of the Affairs of it, we can't have our Minds steady and easy, unless we have something better to trust in, than any out­ward Enjoyments whatsoever. But our Text now read, shows us, how Persons may come to have great Peace and Quiet in their own Souls, even in this changible World, and in the next World too. To have the Mind fix­ed staying on God, trusting in him, relying on him, according to the Discoveries he has made of himself in his gracious Promises: This, even this is the Way to have Ease and Rest, Peace and Quiet in the Soul, in this World and in the next also.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect Peace, &c. Thou, that is God. God is the Keeper of those that trust in him. Happy they that have such a Keeper, the best Keeper that can be; a Keeper that never slumbers nor sleeps, Psal. 121.4. Yea, he'll keep them in perfect Peace; the Hebrew is, Peace, Peace. The Repetition of the Word may intimate, the Firmness, Greatness, Certainty of the Peace of those who have God for their Keeper: Peace, Peace, they have Peace with God, often Peace and Quiet in their own Consciences; Peace in this World and in the next. And who are they that are thus favour'd? Why, such as have their Minds stayed on God. There's Variety among Interpreters, about the Mean­ing and Application of these Words. Some are for reading thus, With a firm Purpose (or established Decree or Resolve) thou wilt keep him in perfect Peace, because he trusteth in thee. Some thus, Thou wilt keep the Mind (or [Page 241] Thought) of him that trusteth in thee, in per­fect Peace.

But without further insisting on these Things, the Words may afford us this fol­lowing Observation, viz.

DOCTRINE. God will keep those in perfect Peace, whose Hearts are stayed on him, and do trust in him.

Here we may Enquire,

I. What's implyed in Persons having their Hearts stayed on God, trusting in him?

II. What's meant by God's keeping of such in perfect Peace?

QUESTION I. What's implyed in Person having their Hearts stayed on God, trusting in him?

For Answer, this must needs imply,

1. That they are acquainted with the Revela­tions of Gods Will, with his gracious Promises. All Men are Sinners, as such they deserve no Peace with God; but Wrath and Ven­geance from him. But God is in Christ recon­ciling the World unto himself, 2 Cor. 5.19. God can be just, and the Justifyer of him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. 3.26. Therefore Persons must be more or less acquainted with the Revela­tions of His Will, with his gracious Pro­mises through Christ, else they have no Bot­tom, no Foundation for hoping and trusting in God for Peace, for Pardon, for Eternal Blessedness. The Scheme and Method of Sinners Reconciliation with God, was laid in Gods own eternal purpose (Eph. 3.11.) and this Purpose of his can't be known to Men, any further than he reveals and discovers it. [Page 242] Therefore the Mercy of God through Christ, revealed in the Promises, is the Foun­dation of Faith, the Ground and Encourage­ment Persons have to hope and trust in him. Rom. 10.14, 17. — How shall they be­lieve in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a Preacher? — So then, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

2. That they actually trust in God, upon the Encouragement of his Promises. Though such as cover their Sins, shall not prosper; yet those who confess and forsake them, shall have Mercy. There's an Abundance of Pardoning Mercy with God, for penitent, returning Sin­ners, Isai. 55.7. Therefore Persons cannot be said, rightly to stay on God, or lean on the Lord (as the Phrase is, Mic. 3.11.) unless they heartily Repent of their Sins, grieve and mourn for them, hate and turn from them; and heartily trust in God's Mercy through Christ, as Revealed in the Promises. And when they do thus trust in his Mercy, cast all their Cares and Burdens upon him; rely and depend on him for Pardon, for Grace, for the good Things laid up in the Promises: I say, when they do thus, they may be said to have their Minds and Hearts stayed on God, trusting in him. And where there is such a trusting in God as this, it purifies the Heart, works by Love, (Act. 15.9. Gal. 5.6.) and brings forth Fruits of sincere, holy Obedience to God; for Faith without Works is dead, Jam. 2.26. By Faith Abraham — obey­ed, Heb. 11.8.

[Page 243]3. Their Steadiness and Continuance in so do­ing. Their trusting in God, and so their other Duties the Fruits thereof, should not be like the morning Cloud, and the early Dew, which soon pass away. They should trust in the Lord for ever; their Hearts should be fix'd in doing it, Isai. 26.4. Psal. 112.7. When the Jews ask'd our Saviour, What shall we do that we may work the Works of God? He replyed, This is the Work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent, Joh. 6.28, 29. The Work of Faith, is the Work of God, that which he requires of us, and we should be doing of it as long as we live. 1 Cor. 15.58. Be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord. We should constantly and firmly trust in God through Jesus Christ, for all the Blessings, Temporal, Spiritual, Eternal, which his Promises give us Encouragement to hope for. And this Faith should quick­en us to obey God, to walk in his Ways, to submit and resign our selves and all our Concerns, to his holy, wise and gracious Dispose. When we thus do, we may be said to have our Minds and Hearts stayed on God, trusting in him.

QUESTION II. What's meant by Gods keeping of such in per­fect Peace?


It may imply,

1. That God is at Peace with them. As for the unregenerate, impenitent Sinners, they are in a State of Enmity to God, and are under his terrible Wrath and Curse. He [Page 244] that believeth not, is condemned already, — the Wrath of God abideth on him, Joh. 3.18, 36. The Wages of Sin is Death: The Law of God condemns impenitent Sinners. Gal. 3.10. Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things written in the Book of the Law to do them. But when a Person heartily Repents of his Sins, and trusteth in the Mercy of God through Christ for Pardon; then the Great GOD, his Maker, Lawgiver and Judge, is Reconciled to him, and at Peace with him. Being justified by Faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. ——There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 5.1. & 8.1. If any one's Sins have been never so many or great, yet if he heartily Repents and turns from them, and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ; then God Pardons all his Iniquities, and is at Peace with his Soul. 1 Joh. 1.7. The Blood of Jesus cleanseth from all Sin, Acts 10.43. — Whosoever believeth in him, shall receive the Remission of Sins.

2. God will always be at Peace with such. He will keep them in Peace, or keep Peace with them for ever. Being once Reconciled to them through Christ, he'll never cast them out of Favour: Whom he loves, he loves to the end. It's true, sincere Saints are liable to grievous Falls; some of them are sometimes actually chargeable with very gross Transgressions, as Noah, Lot, and some others have been; and such Transgressions are very provoking to God. Such Offences may possibly provoke God to bring heavy [Page 245] Troubles and Afflictions on them. Because David by his hainous Crimes, had given great Occasion to the Enemy to blaspheme; there­fore God took away his Child by Death, 2 Sam. 12.4. But though God may be thus highly provoked with the Offences of his adopted Children; yet he'll so Renew them by the Exercise of Repentance, as that they shall not be utterly Rejected by him, nor Conquered by their Spiritual Enemies. He will restore their Souls, and lead them in paths of Righteousness for his Name sake, Psal. 23.3. The Foundation of God stands sure, having this Seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his. God has both threaten'd and promis'd con­cerning the Spiritual Seed of David, of Christ, Psal. 89.30,— 33. If his Children forsake my Law, and walk not in my Judgments; if they break my Statutes, and keep not my Command­ments, then will I visit their Transgression with the Rod, and their Iniquity with Stripes. Neverthe­less, my loving kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. When God has once accepted a penitent, believing Sinner, and pardoned him for Christ's sake; though after this he may possibly chastise him very sorely for great Offences, yet he'll never utterly cast him off, nor suffer him finally to perish; but by his Grace he will Humble him, Restore him, and Save him for ever. He will bring him to Heaven, though it be by Weeping Cross; he'll save him, though it be as by Fire. For whom he justified, them he also glo­rified, Rom. 8.30.

[Page 246]3. God will give them all that outward tem­porary Prosperity, which he sees best for them. The Hebrew Word Shalom, which we ren­der Peace, is of a large, extensive Signifi­cation, sometimes comprehending all man­ner of outward Welfare and Prosperity in it. Thus God said to the Jewish Captives at Babylon; Jer. 29.7. Seek the peace of the City whether I have caused you to be carryed away Cap­tives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof ye shall have peace. So, Psal. 122.6. Seek the peace of Jerusalem; they shall pros­per that love thee. Well, God will give to such as have their Minds stayed on him, all that outward Prosperity which he sees best for them. Godliness hath the promise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4.8. It's true, God won't give to the Saints an uninterrupted Course of present, outward Prosperity; they have no Ground to expect that he will, but abundant Ground to expect the contrary: Yet he'll give them all that outward Prosperity, which in infi­nite Wisdom and Love he sees best for them, or which he sees will be most for his Glory, and their Spiritual, Eternal Good. It can­not be, but that God should deal thus with them. He that has so lov'd them, as to give his only begotten, Eternal Son to die for their Salvation, cannot but bestow on them what he sees best for them. Rom. 8.32. He that spared not his own Son▪ but delivered him up for us all; how shall [...] not with him also freely give us all thing [...] [...] And the Apostle plainly says there, v. 28. All things shall [Page 247] work together for good, to them that love God, and are called according to his purpose. Those whom God has effectually called home to Christ, and enabled to stay their Minds on him, and trust in him; as for such, he'll make all things work together for their greatest Good, and everlasting Welfare. Therefore he must needs bestow on them, all that outward Good, and Prosperity, he sees will be most for their true and great­est Welfare.

4. God often gives them great inward Peace and Joy in their own Souls. Peace with God is one thing, Peace and Quiet in the Con­science is another. A Person may possibly be a true, penitent Believer, and be Pardon­ed, Reconciled to God, and at Peace with him; and yet not know, or be fully assured in his own Mind, that he is in so safe a State. Even Zion her self is sometimes rea­dy to say, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me, Isai. 49.14. Those that fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his Servants, yet sometimes walk in the Dark, and have no Light, Isai. 50.10. That sincere Saints are sometimes under Clouds, Doubts, Fears, Jealousys about their own Spiritual Safety, is a thing too plain to be disputed or deny­ed. Notwithstanding all this, yet a steady Course of having the Mind stayed on God, and trusting in him, tends directly to the inward Peace, Joy and Satisfaction of the Soul. The ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace, Prov. 3.17. Great peace have they that love thy Law, and nothing shall [Page 248] offend them, Psal. 119.165. So the Apostle says, Rom. 15.13. Now the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Ho­ly Ghost. Believing in Christ, lays a Founda­tion for fullness of Joy and Peace: And tho' some who have true Faith, are not at pre­sent fill'd with such Joy and Peace; yet this proceeds from the Weakness of their Faith. For if they did suitably and firmly Realize the Truths of God, and stedfastly trust in him through Christ, for the Accom­plishment of his gracious and faithful Promises; then on good Grounds they might infer, that God is at Peace with them, and so they might well rejoyce in him as their Portion, and exceeding great Reward. Therefore, as they are bid to trust in the Lord for ever; (Isai. 26.4.) so they are bid to rejoyce in the Lord always, Phil. 3.1. So, Phil. 4.4. Rejoyce in the Lord always; and again I say rejoyce.

A Realizing the Revealed Truths of God, and a firm trusting in him through Christ for promised Blessings; gives good Ground for inward Peace, and true Spiritual Joy and Comfort, even in the midst of outward Dan­gers, Troubles and Afflictions.

This may appear if we consider the fol­lowing Particulars, viz.

1. Men are made for Eternity. Indeed their Time and Life in this World, are very short and uncertain; but there is an endless State of Misery or Glory, after this present Life is ended. The Scripture plainly assures us of the Immortality of the Soul, and of an endless, [Page 249] future Eternity. And though when the Body and Soul part at Death, the Body Consumes, Rots, returns to Dust, as it was originally; yet there shall be a Resurrection of the Dead, both of the Just and Unjust, Acts 24.15. And as all the Dead shall be Raised, so all particular person shall be Judged to a State of endless Glory or Misery, according to what their Carriage and Behaviour was here in this Word. 2 Cor 5.10. We must all appear be­fore the Judgment Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the Body; accord­ing to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. God will [...]ender to every Man according to his Deeds, Rom. 2.6. And when all per­sons both Good and Bad, shall be thus Judged, then the Wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the Righteous into Life eternal, Mat. 25.46. So that every particu­lar, individual person, that ever has lived, or ever shall live in the World, shall be Eternally and Inconceivably Happy or Mi­serable in the future State and World.

2. That's really best for Persons, which most promotes their Spiritual and Everlasting Welfare. If Men had no other State and Being but in this present Life and World, like the Beasts that perish; then present, outward Ease and Prosperity, might be reckoned their Chief Good and Happiness; and the contrary hereto their Greatest Misery. But since they are made for an Eternal State, that must needs be most for their Good, which mostly pro­motes their Eternal Good and Welfare, how cross soever it may seem to their present [Page 250] Ease or Inclination. When persons are Sick or Wounded, that Physick, those Applications which cause more present Uneasiness, are yet reckoned good and advantagious, if they are useful to procure Health and Soundness of Body. Though in it self considered, it's irksome and troublesome, to have deep Incisions made in the Flesh, or to have a Leg or Arm cut off from the Body; yet these Methods are reckoned good, when they are needful to preserve Life. So, though Sickness, Pain, Poverty, Con­tempt, Persecution, and the like, in themselves considered, are very undesirable, uneasy, un­comfortable and distressing; yet if they be­come instrumental to promote our Spiritual and Eternal Welfare; so far they are to be look'd on as Good and Beneficial. The Apostle speaks plainly to the same purpose, Heb. 12.11. Now no chastening for the present seemeth joy­ous but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of Righteousness, to them that are exercised thereby.

3. God has promised, that all the Afflictions of the Saints shall he for their Good and Benefit. He has plainly declar'd, Rom. 8.28. All things shall work together for good, to them that love God. But how can this be? What Good can they have by Pain, Poverty, Contempt, and other heavy Afflictions? How can such things as these be said to be for their Good? Why, these things may be said to be for their Good, so far as they are instrumental to make them more fit and meet for Hea­ven. We Read of a Meetness (or Fitness;) for the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, Col. 1.12. [Page 251] And what is it makes Persons fit or meet for Heaven, for the Enjoyment of God and Christ in the future State? Why the more Holy they are, so much the more fit for the Heavenly State. Without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord: But the pure in Heart shall see God, Heb. 12.14. Mat. 5.8. Those that have clean Hands and a pure Heart, are most fit to stand in God's holy Place, Psal. 24.3, 4. Well, the Afflictions of the Saints shall be made instrumental to promote their Holiness. When the Apostle gives the Reason why God afflicts the Saints, he says, it is for our profit, that we might be partakers of his Holiness, Heb. 12.10. The Fruit is, to purge away Iniquity, and take away Sin, Isai. 27.9. We are al­ways profited by our Afflictions, of what Nature or Degree soever they are; if thereby we are made more Holy, Humble, Prayerful, Patient, Thankful, more purg'd from Sin, and wean'd from the World. If our Pride, Envy, Co­vetuousness, Revenge, or any other Lust what­soever, is more subdued and mortifyed by this or the other Affliction; then we are profit­ed and benefited by it. Sometimes Afflicti­ons are sent to humble and chasten for past Sins, sometimes to prevent those Sins there is great Danger of. Thus, the Apostle Paul had a Thorn in the Flesh, a Messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above Measure, a Cor. 12.7. It was to prevent that Pride and Self-conceit which God saw he was in Danger of. Possibly the Saints meet with Losses and Disappointments in Business. they can but just rub along in the [Page 252] Word; or they lose Children or other dear Relatives; and possibly God may order these things, to prevent the Sins he sees them in Danger of; such as Pride, Worldly-Mindedness, Inordinate Love to Creatures. Yea, at the same time he may design both to abase and humble them for past Sins, and also to prevent those further Miscarriages they are in Dan­ger of. He chastens them, that they may not be condemned with the World, 1 Cor. 11.32. God declares his End in afflicting them, 'tis to make them more Holy; and therefore, tho' he may do it in just Anger against their Sins, yet 'tis in tender Love to their Souls. Their light Afflictions which are but for a moment, shall work for them a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of Glory, 2 Cor. 4.17. The holy Psalmist found, that his Afflictions had been for his Spiritual Good and Advantage; Psal. 119.67, 71, 75. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy Word. —It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn thy Statutes. — I know, O Lord, that all thy Judgments are right; and that thou in faith­fulness hast afflicted me.

4. God will certainly fulfil all his Promises. God is infinitely Wise and Knowing, infi­nitely Strong and Mighty, infinitely True and Faithful; and therefore all his Promises shall most certainly be accomplished. He cannot lye, Tit. 1.2. It is impossible for God to lye, Heb. 6.18. God knows how to fulfil his Promises, for his Understanding is infinite. He's able to fulfil them all, for he's the Lord [Page 253] God Omnipotent, (Rev. 19.6.) and can do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, Eph. 3.20. Many things may possibly disable Men from fulfilling their Promises, but nothing can hinder GOD from fulfilling his. God has Power sufficient to break through, break over, and utterly to remove all Difficulties that lye in his way. That which is impossible with Men, is yet possible and easy with God. He can baring Good out of Evil, Light out of Darkness, and call things that are not as though they were. Gods Providence actually governs the World; he does according to his Will in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth. As he is the Giver of every good Gift, bestows all the Benefits any receive; so he also dis­penseth all the Troubles and Afflictions which any meet with. The Saints meet with no Tryals but what is of Gods sending; 'tis the Chastisement of the Lord, Heb. 12.5. The Lord creates Darkness and Evil, Isai. 45.7. And he never brings Tryals on the Saints, but he sees the same are proper for them. 1 Pet. 1.6. If need be ye are in Heaviness, through manifold Temptations. God never sends Afflictions on the Saints, but when he sees them some way or other needful to promote their Spi­ritual and Eternal Good. So that God orders all their Afflictions as to the Kind or Sort, as to the Measure, Degree, Duration, and all the Circumstances of them; and has promised, that all things shall work together for their Good; and is true and faithful to his Pro­mises.

[Page 254]Now, these things laid together and duely considered, plainly show, that when the Saints realize the Truths of God, and firmly trust in him through Christ for promised Blessings; this gives them good Ground for inward Peace, Joy, Serenity of Mind, even in the midst of alt the Uncertainties, Dangers, Troubles, Afflictions they are liable to in this present evil World.

For they may know, that things don't come to pass by Chance or Accident as to God, but are all ordered by his wise, sove­reign, unerring Providence; even by the Hand of that God, who has promised, that all things shall work together for their Good. They may know, that their Life, their Time, all their Affairs and Circumstances, are intire­ly at the Dispose of that faithful, omnipo­tent God, who has promised, that he will never leave them nor forsake them, that he will give them Grace and Glory, and no good thing will he withold from them.

Therefore in their firm Relying on God for the Accomplishment of his Promises, they may glory in Tribulation, rejoyce in hope of the Glory of God. They may boldly say, The Lord is mine Helper, I will not fear what Man shall do unto me, Heb. 13.5, 6. If all outward Means of Help and Relief fail them, they may yet rejoyce in the Lord, and joy in the God of their Salvation, Heb. 3.17, 18. He shall not be afraid of evil Tidings, his Heart is fixed trusting in the Lord, Psal. 112.7. In the midst of outward, threatening Dangers and Confusions, they may yet have inward [Page 255] Peace, Calm and Serenity of Soul. Psal. 46.1, 2. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of Trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the Mountains be carryed into the midst of the Sea.

Those who rightly trust in the Almighty God, as their Help, Strength and Refuge, have enough to support them, though the Mountains should be carryed into the midst of the Sea. Though Heaven and Earth should seem ready to crack and break, as if all things were approaching to a sudden Dis­olution; yet there is no Occasion for them to be frighted or terrifyed; for the Alsuffici­ent, Unchangible GOD, who orders all Changes that happen, is the unchangible Por­tion of their Souls for ever. He'll guide them by Counsel, till he brings them to Glory, Psal. 73.24. In the due Exercise of Faith, the Saints may triumph and say, Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? — Nay, in all these things, we are more than Conquerors thro' Christ that has loved us. For I am perswaded, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things pre­sent, nor things to come, nor heighth, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Rom. 8.35,—39.

USE. We may now proceed to some Ap­plication; Inferring from what has been said,

[Page 256]1. That God has made plentiful Provision for the Comfort of his Saints, even while they abide in this present evil World. It's true, this is not their Home nor Resting Place, they are Strangers, Sojourners, Pilgrims upon Earth; yet God has made such Discoveries of his Mind to them, as gives them abundant Ground even for pre­sent Comfort. If they meet with great and sud­den Afflictions, they need not be surpriz'd nor frighted; for God has forewarn'd them, that such is the State and Course of this present Life, and that in the World they shall have Tribulation. He has told them also, that they should com­mit the keeping of their Souls to him; cast all their Cares and Burdens upon him, for he'll care for them and sustain them; and will make all things work for their Good, and guide them by Counsel, till he brings them to Glory. These & such like gra­cious Promises, give them abundant Ground for present Peace, Joy, Comfort in their own Souls, whatever outward Troubles they meet with. Therefore when they are bid to rejoyce in the Lord always, 'tis no Mockery, no Jest, nor hard Saying; its no more than what the faithful, gracious Promises of God, give them sufficient Ground for. 1 Pet. 1.8. Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, tho' now you see him not, yet be­lieving, ye rejoyce with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory.

2. Unbelief is the greatest Plague and Mischief the Saints have in the World. There may be Truth of Faith, where there is Weakness of Faith. Our Saviour once said to the great Apostle Peter, Mat. 14.31. O thou of little Faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? The best Believers in the World, have [Page 257] some Unbelief in them; and it prevails more at some times than at others. And this Unbe­lief is their greatest Plague and Mischief. The lively Exercise of Faith, does as it were feeling­ly unite the Soul to God in Christ, as the Al­sufficient Fountain of Light, Life, Love, Grace, and all Good; and how profitable and comforta­ble must this needs be? The lively Exercise of Faith may show the Saint, that all things are his, whether Life, Death, things present, or things to come; & he is Christ's, & Christ is God's, 1 Cor. 3.21, 23. But Unbelief, so far as that prevails, it separates the Soul from God the Fountain of all Good. Heb 3.12. Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the living God. An unbelieving Heart, is an evil Heart. Why so? Why, because it departs from the living God: That must needs be very Evil, which departs from the Fountain of all Good and Grace. Therefore the Saints should take heed at such an Heart, to avoid it: Be not faithless but believing.

3. We should all of us believe and trust in God, in Jesus Christ. It's our Duty, our Interest to do so. 1 Joh. 3.23. This is his Commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Sin­ners, the Unregenerate, should forthwith Repent of all their Sins, and trust in Jesus Christ for Salvation; they Provoke God and Ruin their own Souls, if they neglect it. Oh Dreadful Evils! 1 Joh. 5.10. He that believeth not God, hath made him a Lyar, because he believeth not the Record that God gave of his Son. Mark 16.16. He that believeth not shall be damned. On the other hand, Sinners cannot possibly please God, or [Page 258] profit themselves, in any thing, like penitent­ly trusting in his Mercy in Christ for Salva­tion. Psal. 147.11. The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his Mercy. Joh. 3.16. Whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but shall have Everlasting Life. The Saints al­so should be in the constant Exercise of live­ly Faith; firmly Realizing Gods Revealed Truths, and firmly Trusting in him for pro­mised Blessings. Isai. 26.4. Trust in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Such Faith Glorifies God. Abraham was strong in Faith, giving glory to God, Rom 4.20. It is profitable to us. Jer. 17.7. Blessed is the Man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. There is joy and peace in believing, Rom. 15.13. We should therefore check and rebuke our doubting, unbelieving Hearts; and should stir up our selves to take hold on God. Psal. 42.11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God. Psal. 27.14. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine Heart; wait I say on the Lord. Lam. 3.25, 26. The Lord is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a Man should both hope, and quietly wait for the Salvation of the Lord.


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