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The Necessity Of Religious Violence in Order to Obtain DURABLE HAPPINESS. Open'd and Urg'd in a SERMON Upon Mat. 11. v.12. Preach'd at Perth-Amboy, June 29. 1735.

By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M. and Minister of the Gospel at New-Brunswick, in New-Jersey.

Deficile est fateor et tendit inardua Virtus sed quo Deficior a eo prestantiora.

Printed and Sold by William Bradford in New-York.

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The PREFACE.

Candid Reader;

IT's Customary to prefix some Apology before Per­formances of this Nature. All that I shall offer of that kind is this: That my Profession as a Christian, and Character as a Minister of the Gospel, oblige me to improve the small Talent my Great Master has given me, for the honour of his Name, and in the Service of his Church; and that, pursuant to this good Design, right Reason in­structs me, to make any of my Labours that I think have a tendency this Way, as extensive and permanent as I can; that so far as I know my self, was the purpose of my Heart in the Composure and Publication of the following Discourse, which if attain'd, will yield me the Satisfaction I desire.

Farewell.

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The Necessity Of Religious Violence, &c.

Mat. 11. vers. 12.

And from the Days of John the Baptists, until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth Violence, and the Violent take it by force.

THE great goodness of the Blessed God is equally apparent and con­spicuous in preparing a Happiness for his People, revealing the way to it, and sending his Servants to incultate by all Arts of Perswasion possible, the Necessity, Importance and Reasonableness of travelling in the One, in order to obtain the other. Of this the Text under our pre­sent Consideration treats, in which we may Note Three Things,

  • 1. A Commendation of the Baptists Faithful­ness.
  • 2. An Illustration of Gods Goodness.
  • 3. A Description of the Way to Happiness.

1. As to the Baptists Commendation: It's said, that from his time the Kingdom of Heaven [Page 2]suffered Violence, i. e. from the Time in which he began to preach, the Gospel Church be­gan to be remarkably established; its Doc­trines eagerly embraced, and it's Precepts ve­hemently Practised; and in this importunate painful course, his convinced hearers longed after, and labour'd for the Happiness of the blessed in Heaven. To this purpose Piseator and others, speak. Lightfoot observes perti­nently, that the Jewish People were forbid to touch the Mount Sinai, but that now we may use Violence in ascending the mistical Mountain: So Grotius also notes, Suffers Violence, Biazetai, i. e. is obtained by Mortifi­cation, Repentance, Ignominy, Poverty, so Meno­chius, Basil, Chrisostom, Hilarie, Austine.

2. God's Goodness is great in not only suffering guilty Creatures to take Heaven by Violence, but even in exciting them to it, and in assisting them in the performance of it.

3. We have a Description of the Way to the Imperial Heaven in these Words, and the Violent take it by Force: These who are truly convinc'd of Sin, of Righteousness and of Judgment(a) labour to take Heaven by Storm and will not stick at any cost to obtain it. These seek with importunate vehemence, [Page 3]like Jacob of old, and will not cease until they obtain the blessing.(b) These put a force upon their corrupt Nature, are willing to perform the hardest Services, and under­go the severest sufferings, in order to obtain the great Salvation, (by force) as Dr. Hammond observes; the Jews who were the Children of the Kingdom rejected it, and the despised Gentiles imbrac'd it with readiness and vehe­mence; even the Publicans and Harlots; the poor and Illiterate People, whom the proud Rabbins deem'd accursed.

Again, the Word seems to signify, that the Kingdom of Heaven is not now confin'd to one People as of old, but lies open and ex­posed, without any National Inclosures, that whoever will take persevering pains for it may possess it; so Brugensis, Tirinus, Hilary and Ambrose. Once more it may signify that the Kingdom of Heaven, is not now so much entail'd on Descent and progeny, as confer'd on persevering Virtue; so Menochius and Mal­donate. We are said to take that by Violence which we tear out of anothers Hands; the Kingdom of Heaven seem'd to belong to the Jews, as Children by Covenant, even that Kingdom is seiz:d and taken out of their Sloathful indolent Hands, by the inferiour [Page 4] Gentiles, through the violence of Faith and earnest Labour.

From the Words of our Text, thus briefly paraphrazed, we may observe the following Proposition, viz. That these who wou'd obtain an Interest in the Kingdom of Hea­ven, must use Violence, in order to it.

Intreating upon this Proposition, I shall en­deavour to shew, 1st, what are the Properties of this Kingdom. 2d, What are the Qualifica­tions of its Possessors, or what is included in that Violence which is necessary in order to obtain an Interest in it. 3d. With whom we should use Violence. 4th. In what, 5th, For what. And then Improve it in a Threefold Use.

  • 1. of Information,
  • 2. Exami­nation, and
  • 3. Exhortation.

And, 1. I am to shew you what are the Pro­perties of this Kingdom; it will appear, I think, by considering the following particu­lars, that it has all the amiable Qualities that may command Esteem, or excite, Desire. For,

1. It is an Ancient Kingdom, it had its rise before the Foundation of the Earth were laid, Gen. 1.1.

2. A Specious Kingdom: The Globe of the Earth is a vast Body in extent and Mag­nitude, and yet it is but a small Point, com­pared with the visible Heavens, which at an immense distance circle and compass it. Now [Page 5]the Emperial, or third Heaven is Superiour to, and therefore doubtless greater than the Christaline. Therefore well might the bles­sed Jesus inform his mourning Disciples, that in his Fathers House were many Mansions, John 14.2.

3. A rich opulent Kingdom; it abounds with all things, that are necessary, for Hon­our, Support, Wealth, Pleasure. There are Thrones of Righteousness, Ensigns of Ma­jesty, Palms of Victory, Mansions of Beauty, Diadems of Glory.

There unambitious Honour bears unsullied Laurels, being fearless of a Rival, or invidi­ous Detractive, the poignant Darts of Malig­nant Reproach shall never stain the white Names of the Lambs followers in their Fa­thers Kingdom.

There is the Manna of Angels to feed upon; there be the pure Christal Fountains of Life to bathe in, and drink of, that Spring from the Throne of God, and the Lamb, with an invarible and eternal Tenor; there is the Tree of Life, richly laden with Apples of Salvation, bearing Twelve manner of Fruits, whose Leaves are for the healing of the Nations.(c)

There are Streets of Gold, Gates of Pearl, and Walls of Jasper.(d) But above all, [Page 6]there is a Lamb of God, the Pearl of great Price, who is infinitely more valuable than if the immense Globe of the Earth, the un­fathomable Deeps of the Ocean, the broad Sheets of the Christaline or Emperial Hea­vens were turned into a Body of Massy or Liquid Gold! And this Pearl, dear Brethren, whose worth Surpasses the highest Flight of an Angel's Thought to conceive, or his Tongue to express, belongs to every inha­bitant of that Kingdom. O Blessed God, how Great and Stupendious is thy Mercy, and dear Affection, that suffers such a Kingdom to be taken through Violence by the guilty, base Creatures. But to proceed,

There are pure and perpetual Pleasures, sinless and unstain'd Delights; for the Lamb is the perpetual source of Light to the Me­tropolis of that Kingdom; there sin with all its ruful train of Sorrow, Shame, Soli­tude, Diseases, Darkness and Death, has not access or residence; all Tears are wiped a­way, Sorrow and Sighing forever flee; the Inhabitants of that Kingdom shall not say, they are sick.(e) So that there will be no Avenues of entrance for that Sable Serjeant Death to arrest them: But on the contrary, the Sun of Righteousness will shine with uncloaded Lustre upon all the Denizons of [Page 7]that City, opening to their Understandings, all the dark Scenes of Nature, Grace and Providence, shewing the united tendency of every of them to exalt the declaritive Hon­ours of the Divine Perfections, and to se­cure the compleat Happiness of the Redee­med.

But more particularly expressing the ama­zing heights of his Wisdom, the Stupendu­ous depths of his Love, and the awful extent of his Power! what joyful Transports must needs posses the Breasts of the Redeem'd! When without an intercepting Glass they shall perpetually behold the Glorious Per­fections of God, the amiable and transcendent Excellencies of the Redeemer, and clearly perceive (without the least doubt to Eternity) every of these engaged to promote their Hap­piness, and also feel the everlasting Streams of the Divine Love and Affection; and be bless'd with the Social Worship of Saints and An­gels, without any defect, variation or Period. but do I pretend to describe these things! Eye hath not seen, neither hath Ear heard, neither hath it entr'd in the Heart of Man, to conceive what God hath prepared for those that love him.(f)

4. A beautiful and glorious Kingdom; therefore called Paradise, with an Allusion to the [Page 8]earthly Eden, which was crowned with a variety of Beauties and innocent Pleasures. That must needs be a beautiful Place, which infinite Wisdom, has contriv'd, and infinite Power fram'd, for the Manifestation of the Perfections of the Deity, and Consumation of his Peoples Felicity. That must needs be a glorious Place, where a glorious God be­ing seated on a blazing Throne of solemn Majesty, and unexpressible Beauty, makes the Perfections of his blessed Nature shine forth with unvail'd Brightness and Splendor, to the equal wonder and delight of the whole Heavens, like the Sun in his Meridean Alti­tude, when no dusky Cloud hides his Beau­ty, or intercepts his Rays. The happy In­habitants of that Kingdom do then with open face, (indeed) behold the Glory of God shi­ning in the Face of Christ, and are transfor­med from Glory to Glory.

5. An unshaken and everlasting Kingdom. It is a City that hath Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God; perfectly free'd from all the vertegenous Vicissitudes, or various Changes of Time, a House not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens. But I proceed to confider, the Second propos'd, viz. To shew what is included in that Violenee, which is necessary in order to obtain an In­terest in eternal Happiness. And,

[Page 9] 1. It includes early Endeavours after Christ and Holiness,(g) for our Creator must be re­membered in the days of our Youth; that which we love most, we will seek first; the blessed God being the greatest and best of Beings, and the Auther, Preserver and Benefactor of ours, undoubtedly deserves our most ready Re­gards and intense Affections; and is best able to reward our defective Services, and Satiate our longing Souls. Add to this, that he encourages all those who seek him early, with the promise of a kind Reception.(h)

2. Eager Desire: It is the distinguishing Character, and prevailing Disposition of a Child of God to Thirst insatiably after Com­munion with him, and conformity to him, and a sense of his Love and Favour, more than Life it self, and its most amiable Enjoy­ments, shew me a Token for Good;(i) I have long'd for thy Salvation, O Lord, and thy Law is my delight,(k) O! how vehe­ment are the desires of convinced Souls, after the lovely Jesus; & pardon through his Blood, they contemn all things else in comparison of this,(l) They are apt to speak in such Language as this, O! for a Christ, or I die; O! for a Christ, or I perish; O! if the bles­sed [Page 10]God wou'd but give me an interest in Jesus I wou'd be well, my hungry Soul wou'd be well satisfied, I wou'd be contented with Shame and Poverty, Pain and Death itself: O! the importunate pleadings! O the unutterable Groans of such awaken'd Sin­ners! how do they Scale the Heavens with their Tears and Sighs, and will take no de­nial of God; with what mournful Counte­nances and longing Hearts, will they look up to the visible Heavens, the bright Pavement of their Fathers Courts! How do such dear Souls sit alone and keep Silence(m) and yet continually breathe forth vehement desires, strong cries, and sad complaints, until the Gracious God, (whose Ears are ever open to the Cries of the Poor and oppressed) hears their Groans, and sets them at Liberty(n)

3. Earnest Labour: (o) The lukewarm indo­lent Soul is hateful to Christ, and will (so con­tinuing) be surely rejected with Abhorrence(p) God never intended Heaven to gratify the wishes of Sluggish Balaam's(q) or indif­ferent Gallio's (r) but to give those Rest that are Weary and heavy laden.(s)

4. Persevering Diligence (t) the Troubles of such as are truly and savingly convin'd, are [Page 11]not like the morning Cloud and early Dew which soon passeth away, as is the sad case of many Hypocrites, whom God complains over,(n) No, no, they want their Hearts thorowly and perpetually broken, and the Laws of God engraven on the Tables of them, as with a Pen of Iron, and the point of a Diamond, and laid in the Rock forever; they want to shed Seas of Grief for their breaches of these holy Laws; how freely can they joyn with Jeremiah's Petition, Jer. 9.1. It's their chief Sorrow that they Sorrow no more for Sin. But they not only mourn, but la­bour, Acts 2.37. And observe by the way, they not only labour for a time, and then leave off, as too many Hypocrites do, but they keep seeking till they find, and cant't con­tent themselves in the Duty done, without the gracious Presence of God in it,(a) like the Woman who diligently search'd for the piece of Silver until she found it,(b) so do they seek after the Happiness of their lost perishing Souls, till they attain Satisfactory Evidences of it, and then they rejoyce in­deed, and the whole Heavens with them, because the Child who was lost is found, and the Person who was dead is made alive.(c) But I proceed to consider, The

[Page 12] 3. Third propos'd; which was to shew with whom we should use Violence.

1. With God, in imploring his Mercy both for our selves and others, after the fol­lowing manner, viz.

1. Fervently; with great intensness of Spirit, Summoning all our Powers to, and solemnly engageing them in the Worship of the blessed God. It's such praying that's most like to succeed, the Incense must be put upon burn­ing Coals,(d) for it's the fervent-Prayer of a Righteous Man that avails much. (e)

2. Affectionately, with flowing Tears and heavy Groans; thus holy Jacob wrestled with the Angel, and prevailed, and why? Because he wept, and made Supplication unto him(w) The gracious God inform'd Hezekiah, that he had heard his Prayers, for he had seen his Tears,(x) ‘A crying Prayer, (says one) pierces the depths of Heaven, is like Mu­sick on the Water, Melody in the Ears of God;’ Crys and Groans from a Heart truly broken in Prayer, are like to many Eloquent, Advocates at the Throne of Grace.

3. Believingly relying upon the Power or pro­mise of God, (y) We may say at least, with the poor Man, who cry'd, Lord if thou wilt, [Page 13]thou canst make me clean (z)

4. Argumentatively, Earnestly, but Reverently expostulating with God, and pleading for Re­lief, by a variety of Arguments drawn from the Mercy of God, and our former Experi­encies of it; from the Name of God, and our Reliance thereon; from our Relation to the Divine Majesty, from the inflexible Equity, and gracious Promisses of God, and the Reproach it will be to his Honour, if he will not hear and help his poor opposed and oppressed People.

These Arguments, and many more of the like Nature, we may find dispersed through­out the Sacred Records, and frequently us'd by the faithful Servants of God in their distress and extremity Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in Anger shut up his tender Mercy, Selah.(a) Awful was the threatning of God against Israel, Deut. 9.14. Let me alone, that I may destroy them. And memorable the pleadings of Moses to prevent the Execution of it, from the 26th verse of the same Chapter, to the end.

5. Importunately and perseveringly; being ur­gent and instant in Prayer. To be so, is not only a Duty but a sign of Mercy's being near; when Elijah had prayed seven Times, the [Page 14]Cloud appear'd.(b) The excellency and ef­ficacy of this way of Praying, is represented by our Lord in Two pathetical Parables.(c) Deservedly famous is the instance of the Wo­man of Canaan, who notwithstanding a Se­ries of dejecting discouragements, yet con­tinued instant.(d) Go you and do likewise, and thou shan't fare worse.

2. With our selves, in exciting our selves to Duty in general, and to these Duties in particular, to which we have a natural Aver­sion

We must stir up our selves to lay hold on God, and press forward towards the Mark set before us.(e) As to the Duties of Reli­gion in General; we must use Violence in re­sisting the following Hindrances to them, viz.

1. The Sloth of our Nature, which in­clines us to ease and indolence, and break through the strong Chains and soft Enchant­ments of all such Voices which under the pretext of Ease, betrays your thoughtless Souls into endless Pains and Agonies, and ut­terly bereaves us of true Liberty and Happi­ness. How long wilt thou Sleep, O Slug­gard? When wilt thou awake out of thy Sleep?(f) Dear Brethren, We must labour to rouse our selves out of this Sloathful Secu­rity [Page 15]and resist the flattering Charms of it, as a drowsy Man would do when he perceives the House on fire over his Head. To ex­cite to this, we should consider,

1. That as the Sluggards Field is cover'd with Thorns, and his Back with Rags, as Solomon instructs us, so Sluggish Souls are over grown with Corruptions, depriv'd of the Robes of the Redeemers Righteousness, and can expect nothing (reasonably) but Shame and contempt. And,

2. That the Sluggards desire, slay him, be­cause his Hands refuse to labour,(g) So do Sluggish Slothful Sinners deceive and damn themselves, by foolishly imagining their Ba­laam like inefectual Wishes to be Signs of a good State. And

3 Dosn't the Sluggard turn himself upon his Bed, as the Door upon its Hinges, and cry­ing A little more Sleep, a little more Slumber? Dosn't he therefore fold his Hands in his Bosom, and eat his own Flesh? And may not carnal Slothful Sinners, that fondly hug their sinful Ease and Security in despite of the Remonstrances of Reason and Conscience, foolishly delaying to seek pardoning Mercy? and courting a little more Sleep, a little more Slumber, also expect to eat their own Flesh i. e. [Page 16]to be fill'd with such Indignation against themselves (perhaps when it's too late to mend the matter) that they will be desirous to tear out their own Bowels for their Madness in neglecting (thro' Sloth) to improve the preci­ous Price put into their Hands, in Hell there will be weeping and gnashing of Teeth. Once more.

4. The Sluggard will not Plow by rea­son of cold, and so want's Bread in Harvest.(h) so are there not many sloathful Souls that neglect these Duties of Religon, which are as necessary to obtain Happiness as plowing is to prepare for a Crop, because of some dif­ficulty that attends the performance? But as there is no Comparison between suffering a little Cold and starving for want of Bread: So is there any paralel between the temporary. Pains of Mortification and the eternal Agonies of Damnation? but

2, We should equally resist the Temptati­ons of Satan with the Sloth of our own Na­ture; O how many are the Artful policies and deep devices of Satan to keep the People of God, especially from the sweet Duties of Re­ligion?

1. Sometimes he will tell them that they are not in a right Frame now, your Prayer with [Page 17]such a cold Frame, will signify nothing, it will be but a meer mocking of God, stay a little longer till you get a good frame, and then go to Prayer; and so perhaps the Season of the Day is lost and the poor Soul is brought under Guilt by the sinful Neglect; Satan thy Temptation is both unreasonable and false.

1. It's unreasonable; it's as if a poor Beggar would neglect asking an Alms, 'till it was given him without asking for, (which he can­not reasonably expect) and then go and ask for it. And then,

2. It's false that there is no good in such Prayers as are offer'd with a Cold frame; the Matter is surely good, for it is an Act of Obe­dience to the divine Command; and oftentimes when the People of God begin with a cold frame, they end in a warm one; for God will meet these that wait upon him in his Way. Di­ligence after this manner, with a holy Vio­lence is an Evidence of our uprightness, and the good God is not unjust to forget our Work and Labour of Love. And truly it is an Act of greater Self-denial to be dili­gent in Duty when Gods Face is hid from us, than when we are under the shines of it. Again.

3. Satan will plead, you have no Time, no Time for Prayer; and so point to other Duties you have to do; Answ. Pray how [Page 18]can this be, for what was all our Time given us? But to serve God and secure an interest in his Love? What have we time to free our Bellies and chatter idle Discourse, and no time to serve the God that made us? O shame! But

4. It Satan finds that we will go to Prayer do what he can, then he'll listen into your Ear, be short, be short, just run over the Heads of Prayer, and that will do for this Time well e­nough; God knows your wants before you speak, you can't inform him, he is unchange­able, you can't turn him, and also you must beware of vain Repetitions. It's true Satan, we can't inform God, but we should obey him, we can't affect him, but we may in some Sort our selves. Again

7. The Devil will alledge that it favours too much of the Covenant of Works of a legal Spirit to be so Diligent in Duties. I an­swer, It's as great a Falshood as the Father of Lies can invent, and in it he vents his hel­lish venom with a view to sully the Beauty and disparage the Honour of the whole Gos­pel, as if it relax'd in a Measure our Obliga­tion to Holiness, which is the vilest affront to Redeeming Love that can be imagin'd, for our Obligations, instead of being lessened are exceedingly encreased by the condescending goodness of God in Christ, who has come [Page 19]to destroy the works of the Devil, and given us great and precious Promisses, yielding the strongest excitements to purify our selves from all filthithess of the Flesh and Spirit(i)

Querie, But isn't it a Sin to strive in our own strength? I Ans. It is a Sin to depend upon our own strength, or performances, as tho' they could commend us to God, or merit his Favour. But I assert that it is no Sin, but an important Duty for us to use our strength in Gods Service, to stir up our selves to take hold upon him, for to him that hath shall be given.(k) Mat. 13.12. But

3. We should use Violence in resisting the Temptations of the World against Duty, as particularly.

1. Of the Business of the World, and many Hypocrite-professors will make the Worship of God, truckle to Mammon, they'l pray a few Words in the Evening, when the Busi­ness and Diversions of the House, are over, when they themselves are perhaps half asleep, and the rest a snoreing, sweet Prayers! But will they pray in the Morning? commonly, no; have a care of that, they have something of greater Weight to be done, their dearly Beloved Mammon is to be worshipped, and his golden Precepts speedily obey'd, the God of [Page 20]Heaven must take up with the Worlds lea­vings and Scraps, and be served when they have nothing else to do. What wou'dn't you have them to serve him first whom they love best? I confess it's very natural to do so. We can't well serve two Masters at once, if Christ and Reason may have any Credit,(l)

2. Of the pleasures of the World: How lively can many be in discourse, in eating and drinking, they can sit up late enough to perform these pleasant tasks; but when ever Prayer comes upon the Board, then their Spirits lag, and they are presently dispos'd to take a Nap; Is this taking Heaven by Vi­olence!

3. Of the People of it, if any strangers or acquaintances come in, then don't many People shut Prayers out of Doors, and per­haps spend their Time in impertinent unedi­fying Discourse, as if they were ashamed of the Service of God; But I believe they are not ashamed to Eat before them, if they are to pray. But if we are ashamed of Christs Worship here without Repentance and Re­formation, he will be ashamed of us when he comes in the Glory of his Father with the Holy Angels.

4. Of the God of it, We must use Vio­lence against Satan by discrediting his Fair, [Page 21]but false Promisses, by contemning his emp­ty threats, resisting his sly Insinuations, and avoiding his crafty Disputations; we hadn't best hold a parley with him, for he has too much Subtilty for us to vanquish by dispute, we stand upon unequal Ground with him, both in respect of Age and Experience, and therefore it's much safer for us to resist him, and then he will fly from us; and to hasten from his crafty Sophisms and strong Temp­tations upon the Wings of devout Suppli­cation to God, and with Michael the Arch-Angel pray to Jehovah to rebuke him. We must fight against all the Hosts of Hell, but it should be in the Armour of God; every Part of which we should be careful to have on in the field of Battle, (which continues during our abode in this Wilderness) it's advisable in our disputes with Devils to ob­serve the Martial Order, to eye our Captain General, and obey his Directions, to keep our Faces against the Enemy as well as our re­spective Places in the Field of Fight, and not to give Ground one Hairs breadth for all the Forces of Hell and Earth, but rather ad­vance by a steady regular Progress upon the Enemy, by which they are diseouraged and we strengthned.(m)

[Page 22] 4. We must use Violence against Sin.

1. In resisting its inward Motions, which if indulg'd, proceed to outward Acts.(n) as also,

2. Inavoiding outward Temptations and enducements to Sin. These that are Sincere will shun the Appearance of Evil,(o) but Hypocrites are bold Fellows, they'r not afraid to tread the Devils ground, because they'r ignorant of their own Weakness as well as Satans strength, and are void of real Love to Holiness. And,

3. In withdrawing Fewel from our Lusts, using Moderation in Meats, and sometimes a total Abstinence, which is of vast Service in the course of Christanity, nam sine cerere et baca friget venus, without Meats and Drinks lusts languishes. There are some Devils that will not be cast out without Fasting and Prayer,(p) If professors will not Labour as well as Pray for Mortifications of Sin, they may pray till they'r gray-headed before they find much of it. Praying for such things as we don't earnestly endeavour after is gross Hypocrisy in our Combats with Sin; let us not forget frequently and importunately to implore the divine aids: For if we thro' the Spirit mortify the Deeds of the Body, we shall [Page 23]live(q) and labour in Concurrence with the divine Assistance to strangle the first Concep­tions and buds of it, (obsta principiis) it's easi­est crushing this Cockatrice in the Egg, the longer it's indulged, the stronger and more impetuous it grows, like Water running thro' a small Hole or Crevice in a Mill-dam, if it be for a while neglected, increases to a violent Torrent, and scorns Resistance. To excite you to this noble Work, think of the Words of the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews, Chap. 12. verse 4. You have not resisted unto blood, striving against Sin. But I pro­ceed to the

4. Proposition, viz. to shew in what we should use Violence. Now to prevent a te­dious prolixity, I shall only transiently touch at a few of many Duties, which I think suit the present State of my Audience. And,

1. We must use Violence, in reading the holy Word of God, that Magazine of Mar­tial Furniture, that Mine of the purest Gold, that Treasure of Sacred Truth, in which is hid the orient Pearl of everlasting Value. Here is the Pole-star of pure Precepts to di­rect us. Here is the Manna of precious pro­misses to refresh us Here are the awful Bea­cons of dreadful threatnings and example. [Page 24]to terify and affright us from Sin, and guide our wandring Souls into the Port of Bliss.

Now the Violence that we must use, in reading the Scripture is against the Sloth and Infidelity of our Natures, and the lightness of our Spirits, we should read the Oracles of God with Order, frequency, seriousness and believing Application.(r) The Bereans were commended for the searching their Scriptures.(s) it is with a solemn pause, having first im­plored Heaven for Direction and Illumina­tion, that we should open the Leaves of the sa­cred Records, labouring to hear the Voice of God in them, and observing the Characters of divine Majesty engraven on them.

2. In hearing the Word: This we shou'd labour to prepare for by considering the Ne­cessity and Importance of this Duty(t) as well as the Danger, and sin of neglecting or abu­sing the Oppertunities of performing it.(u) and by supplicating Heaven for your own Preparation, and the Ministers Direction to speak to your Case. O the Groans that should be sent up to the God of all Grace upon a Sab­bath Morning! Ye ought to endeavour to plow up the fallow Ground of your Hearts by Consideration and Prayer, that there may [Page 25]be some Room for the Seed of the Word in your Hearts, that it may'nt be sow'd among Thorns,(w) or hard Rocks, and devour'd by the Birds of Prey; and when you come to hear, you shou'd attend carefully to what is spoken, believe firmly what's agreeable to the Scrip­tures of Truth, apply closely what is suitable to your Case, and obey evangelically.(x) And,

3. In self Examination.(y) Examine your selves whether ye be in the Faith, prove your own selves; this Examination should be speedy without Delay, impartial without previous Byass, universal of our State, Frames, Thoughts, Speeches, Actions; without Li­mitation, regular, without Variation from the Word, which is the proper Test and Touch-stone of Goodness, the Standard of Sincerity, and Scale of Action. And,

4. In self-judging(z) for if we Judge our selves, we shall not be judged; this should be deliberate and decisive, after having weighed our Evidences in the Sanctuary's Scales with great Solemnity and Exactness, we should come to a positive conclusive Judgment, con­cerning the goodness or badness of our State; and not always hang in suspence, between [Page 26]Hope and Fear. If our State be good, we want the Comfort of it in a World of Sor­row, if bad, we need the Consideration of its Danger and Terror, to alarm and excite us to that Pain and Labour which is ne­cessary to obtain an Escape.

5 In Consideration(a) Now as the Neg­lect of this Duty exposes to the most de­structive Dangers, even to be tore in Pieces by the Hand of Justice, so the right Per­formance of it enhances the most valuable and durable Benefits, Conversion to the di­vine Majesty, and the dear Caresses of the Arms of his Mercy. The Father fell upon the Prodigals Neck and kissed him.(b) The Subjects to be especially thought of, are the Terrors of an Offended Sovereign, the dan­gers of a guilty State, the glories of the celestial Paradise, the Honors of the infernal Furnace, the Charms of Holiness, the defor­mities of Vice, and Beauties of the divine Goodness; there be many other necessary Du­ties, such as Family Religon, Instruction of Children, keeping the Sabbath, avoiding excessive Wordly care; et Cet. which I shou'd mention, but the Time wou'd fail me; and therefore we come to the

5. proposed. Which was to shew for what we should use Violence, before I propose [Page 27]the particalar Reasons, I shall first endeavour to confirm the Truth of the general Propo­sition, which I think is very evident from the various Metaphors in Scripture, representing the Christian Travels to the New Jerusalem, such as these following, viz. of Running(c) Wrestling(d) Fighting(e) Now do not eve­ry of these clearly and emphatically hold forth the utmost Necessity of Pains and Ve­hemence in the Service of the most high God? In running a Race, dosn't a Man bend his Body forward, use all his Strength and Swiftness to gain the Prize! So must we, Dear Brethren, if we would gain, not a Gar­land of Bays, (which is said to be the Re­ward of Olimpick contests) but a Spangling never fading Crown of Life and Glory. In Wrestling isn't all the strength of the Bodyex­erted to prevent a shameful Fall? So my Dear Brethren, if we who are call'd to contend with Devils, these strong & subtil, Spirits do not use much labour and carnestness in Petitioning God, and opposing them, they'l certainly give us a doleful and destructive fall, into the dark Deeps of the damned Dragons. Again, when Men fight, isn't all their Vigor excited and Anger inflam'd to foil their Opponent, and gain the Honours of the Field of Battle? [Page 28]So must we with the utmost hate and re­venge oppose Sin and Satan;(f) and that not so much for the Honours, as the Benefits of the Victory, which are Noble as our Souls, and lasting as our God. But more particularly, the Reasons of using Violence are these.

1. God commands it, strive to enter in at the strait Gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.(g) And surely, a God of infinite Wisdom and Goodness woun't command what was unrea­sonable or unnecessary; won't you obey, poor Sinners, the God that made you, in a case that so highly concerns your greatest In­terest!

2. The Nature of the Case requires it; the Duties of Holiness are so contrary to our corrupt Affections that we must do Violence to the one, if we wou'd perform the other: The enemies of Religion are so numerous, so malicious, so politick, so powerful, that without watchful Violence we are in danger, either of being betray'd by the Craft and Sub­tilty, or vanquish'd by the might and malice of these restless Enemies of our Souls, who, either by artful Ambuscades, or open Assaults continually seek our Ruin,

[Page 29] 3. The importance of the Case deserves it: Is there any thing of equal Moment with that of Securing, the endless Happiness of our deathless Souls? No surely, for what shall a Man give in exchange for his Soul, if he should gain the whole World and lose the same?(h) O! the idle Amusements, insi­pid Pleasures and ensnaring gains of a vain, vain World! They are as the emptiest Dreams and basest dross in comparison of it! This is the one thing necessary which who­ever obtains, secures not only the best but the most necessary Part. We may apply with too great reason the Words of Christ to Martha, to many unconverted Sinners, Mar­tha, Martha, thou are careful about many things, but one Thing is needful.(i)

I proceed to the Improvement in the Three fold Use before mention'd; the First of which, was that of Information.

Doth the Kingdom of Heaven suffer Vio­lence? Then this informs us,

1. Of the great goodness of God in the following Instances,

  • 1. In preparing such a Kingdom for Sin­ning Mankind, while in the mean timehe utterly abandon'd and passed by the whole race of the sinning Angels, Creatures of a [Page 30]nobler Mould and higher Order than we, and never gave them one offer of pardoning Mercy after their Apostacy.
  • 2. In sending his only begotten Son out of his Bosom in the fullness of Time to take upon him, not the Nature of Angels, but the seed of Abraham, in Order by the labours of his Life, and sufferings of his Death to purchase that prepar'd Happiness for his People(k)
  • 3. In sending a Troop or Choir of his E­lect Angels to publish to the perishing World the Birth of this Purchaser and Sa­viour who is Christ the Lord.(l) And
  • 4. In sending the Apostles further to dis­cover the Beauty and Glory of the purcha­sed Happiness, than was done before under the Shadowy Jewish Oeconomy. Hence we are told, that Life and Immortality was brought to light through the Gospel.(m)
  • 5. In proposing this Happiness on the most equal Terms, viz. The forsaking our Iniquities and using Violence to obtain it. Now our Safety, Liberty and Life, obliges us to comply with the first: And Honour and Gratitude, with the Second.
  • 6. In sending his Ambassadors to urge us by the most proper and powerful Perswasives [Page 31]to a compliance with these equal Terms. And.
  • 7. In sending his blessed Spirit, to Seal their Attempts, and prepare poor Sinners for that glorious Good which the Father had prepar­ed, and God the Son had purchased for them.(n) These things duly consider'd may make us use the Apostles Exclamation, O the depth of the Riches both of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his Judgments, and his Ways past find­ing our.(o) And in another place, may be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the Breadth and Length, and Depth and Highth; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be fill'd with all the fulness of God.(p)

2. Of the great madness, ingratitude and obstinacy of Sinners in slighting and re­jecting so great a Salvation; What can be a more Astonishing pitch of folly and mad­ness, than to reject the sweetest Life, the most valuable Liberty, and never expiring Glory, for a Bondage, Shame and Death! for the trasient trifles and sordid rubbish of this perishing World, that can't satisfy us while we have them and must soon beta­ken from us, or we from them. Or for base lusts that dishonour and enslave us; for Hon­ours [Page 32]that have no substantial Goodness, but the most corrupting and fatal Effects;

And what can be more ungrateful and ob­stinate than to slight the most compassionate and dear Mercy! the most ravishing Goodness and the greatest Glory? Such free, rich, valu­able, dearly purchased, and everlasting Bene­fits! So condescendingly offer'd! So impor­tunately enforc'd! by the softest Charms, the strongest Arguments at the sweetest incen­tives that are wont to make Impressions on Mens understandings, or consciences, their Fears or their Love! What say you Sinners! Will you always slight this great Salvation! What! Slight the most tremendous Majesty! The tenderest expresses of Bowel Mercy! the brightest blaze of ravishing and amazing, Glory! And shall the Holy Jesus have al­ways reason to complain over you! as he did over the obstinate Iews? O Ierusalem Ieru­salem, how often would I have gathered thy Children together, even as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings, and ye would not!(q) What ails you poor wretched unconverted Sinners! where is your Reason and Consciences! Alas! have you abandon'd both? arn't you the most infatuated Crea­tures that ever breath'd? who thus vilely [Page 33]trifle with the great God, and your poor pe­rishing Souls! and sordidly reject the offers of his Love, and thereby your own Life and Happiness! for how shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation?(r) O cruel World, that thus slight the blessed God! the Holy Jesus, and their own Souls Happiness! Your eyes will be open'd by and by to see the hor­rid glaring Scene of your Shame and Guilt, your Stupidity, obstinacy, madness and mis­ery! if not now to your Humiliation and Conversion, then surely among the damned to your Confusion and Torment; then will you fill those dismal Regions with doleful Roarings, hideous Screeches, passionate, but useless Lamentations! But I pass, to the

2. Use, which is of Examination; pray Heaven, do you use that Violence to obtain Heaven which I discrib'd in the Doctrinal part of this Discourse! How is it with you? poor Sinners? Do you seek after Happiness with such early endeavour, eager Desire, earnest Labour, and persevering Deligence?

Do ye use Violence with God by praying to him fervently, affectionately, believingly, argumentatively and importunately?

Do ye also use Violence with your selves in opposing your sloth and in a conscienticy [Page 34]performance of all known Duty? As also in opposing the Temptations of Satan and of Sin, in faithfully resisting its inward Mo­tions and carefully shunning outward Incen­tives to it?

Do ye also conscientiously oppose the Temptations of the World in the Business of it, yea, pleasures of it, and People of it? Again,

Do ye use Violence in the performance of these following Duties of Religion?

1. In reading the Word of God with such Frequency, Order, Seriousness, Belief, Application and Practice? as was before hinted?

2. In hearing the Word, do you labour and prepare for it, by Meditation and Prayer? and do you Solemnly attend to what you hear, as in the presence of God? Do you closely apply your proper Portion, and Evan­gelically practise it? And,

3. Do you Examine your selves with such impartiality, and regularity as has been spoken? And,

4. Do you judge your selves deliberately, and decissively, and habitually Practise the great Duty of solemn and affecting Conside­ration? Do you realy use this Violence, my Brethren If so, then

  • [Page 35]1. Bless God for exciting you to it, and assisting you in it: Without his preventing in­fluence you would have been as secure and sloathful as others are.
  • 2. Rejoice in his distinguishing Goodness, for this conscientious evangelical Violence, is a sure presage of eternal Happiness. Our Text informs us, that the Kingdom of Hea­ven suffers Violence, and that the Violent take it by Force: Ye shall reap if ye faint not; he that preseveres to the end shall ob­tain a Crown of Life that fadeth not away. This may encourage, animate, and content you in all the Labours and sufferings of Life; for what are these in Comparison of that weight of Glory which shall be revealed;(s)

But Alas! what reason is there to fear that a great Number of you have the very con­trary qualities to these now mention'd!

Are there not some who instead of seeking Heaven early, delay that grand pursuit, one Month and Year after another, who Instead of being eager in Desire, or earnest in La­bour that way, are secure and lukewarm Lao­dicean-like, inconstant as the Wind that blows in the Affairs of Religion. Don't the Aims, Desires and Labours of most of you bend to an opposite Mark, and run in a quite con­trary [Page 36]Vein? How vehement are your desires, how early, earnest, & persevering are your La­bours about the enjoyments of this dying Life I while in the mean Time the great concerns of your Souls, and eternity are sadly neg­lected! Dosn't your common vein of Speech betray your Worldly Hearts? they are (saith St. John) of the World; therefore speak they of the World, and the World heareth them,(t)

Instead of Praying fervently, affection­ately, believingly, argumentatively, impor­tunately, don't you pray coldly, stupidly, presumptuously indifferently, abruptly; and offer Violence to your own Reason and Con­sciences, in sinning against God, by knowing­ly, and habitually, breaking his blessed Laws, and slighting his rich Love:(u) and there­by prove your selves to be the Children of your Father the Devil,(w) Are there not many, who instead of using Violence with their Corrupt Nature, in opposing sloath, do Violence to their Consciences by indulging it?

Are there not many, who instead opposing Violence in opposing the Temptations of Satan, and the Worlds Business, People Plea­sures, do run knowingly into the Way of [Page 37]Temptation? tempt the Devil to tempt them, as if he was too slow in his Work, embarass themselves in needless, worldly Business, or imploy their thoughts and cares inordinately about that which is Necessary, and who court and covet needless Conversation with wicked People, and thereby discover their damnable Hypocrisy, and themselves to be the very Sons and Daughters of Death, notwithstanding all their fair pretences?

Are there not many, who instead of using Violence agaist sinful Motions, secretly in­dulge them, and thereby prove themselves to be but whited Sepulchers? and who instead of withdrawing the Fuel of Sin, make Pro­vision for the Flesh to fulfill the Lusts thereof, (x)

And how few among us use such Violence in reading of the Word, as I described? Are not our Bibles almost moulded in our Chests, or upon our Shelves? Who is there that reads that blessed Book with Solemnity and close Application? Who is there among you that hears the Word with such previous Prepara­tion, close Attention, and believing Applicati­on, and evangelical Obedience? Don't you hear it with indifferency and unconcernedness, as the Words of a Man, rather than of God? And forget it as fast as you hear it! Don't I [Page 38]saw upon hard Rocks! Where are the ef­fects of a preached Gospel? Where is there one convinc'd humble Soul among you at pre­sent. that Labours to take Heaven by Violence.

Again, Instead of examining and judging your selves, as I before describ'd, don't some of you Studiously avoid the knowledge of your State, and are still in suspense between a groundless Hope and a just Fear, and will not come to a conclusive judgment about your Condition, for fear of the necessary pain that it would Occasion? And to this end, don't you carefully ward off all the Strokes, and Arrows of the Word which would wound or awake you? And,

As to the Duty of solemn Cosideration upon terrible Subjects, don't you keep your selves as great Strangers to it as you can, lest your present false Peace should be distur­bed? Arn't you rushing along, poor Sinners, to a vast Eternity in a thoughtless inconsi­derate course of Action? In which you will be quickly plung'd? (So continuing) and brought to your Senses with a Vengence, and made to roar out eternally without hope or help of your present Madness and Folly!

Is it necessary to use Violence in order to obtain eternal Happiness? Then what [Page 39]will become of the following sorts of Sin­ners?

  • 1. Of the Secure, who have never been so much as convin'd thoroughly of their damnable Condition, who have never cried out with the Prodigal, I perish with Hunger, (y) or with Peters hearers, when pricked in their Hearts, Men and Brethren, what shall we do? (z)
  • 2. Of Apostates, who have been convinc'd, but draw back to Perdition.(a) Arn't these posses'd with seven Devils? (b)
  • 3. Formalists, who content themselves with a dead Form of Religion; O! That such wou'd consider Seriously that saying of Christ, Mat. 5.28 But I say unto you, That who'oever-looketh on a Woman to lust after her, hath commit­ted Aduliry with her already in his Heart.
  • 4. Prophane People of all Sorts, Drunkards, Swearers, Whoremongers, Adulterers, Sabbath-brea­kers, Thieves: Don't all these storm Hell, and endeavour to take Damnation by Violence, out of the Hands of the Devil? They are as earnest, as if they wou'd take no Denial; [Page 40]But they need n't fear, they shall have their Wages (so continuing) as sure as God is truth.(c)
  • 5. Covetous Idolatrous Worldlings; these are using Violence indeed, but not for Christ and Heaven, but for this Earth, these merciless Rooks are tearing all they can out of the Hands of it's just Owners, perhaps as if they cou'd never, never, get enough of that Earth, they set their Hearts and Souls upon; But I may tell them for their GOD son, they shall by and by, get their Eyes and Mouths and Hearts full of it in the [...] Grave, where their pamper'd [...] will quickly become a [...] of dry Bones. Let these Earth Worms read their Portion, Ephes. [...]. 5.
  • 6. Filthy Hypocrites, who have double Tongues and divided Hearts; these Stage [...] who g [...]ve their Maker the Tongue, the Cap and [...]; for in Speech they [...] Love to God and Violence, for Heaven, [...] their Hearts go [...] their Covetousness and other [...]sts,(d) [...] your [...], you [...] Hy­pocrites, [Page 41]in the 24th Chapter of St. Matthew the 51st verse.

3. The Third and last Use, is a Ʋse of Ex­hortation: Be intreated, Friends and Brethren, in the Name of God, to use Violence, in order to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven; to this end consider, I beseech you, the following Arguments, or Motives. And,

1. It is a necessary Duty, and that in two Respects, viz. of Command and Mean.

  • 1. Of Command, Strive to enter in at the strait Gate, for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (e) Let us Labour therefore to enter unto that Rest, lest any Man fall, after the same Example, of unbe­lief.(f) Isn't it necessary to obey your Creator!
  • 2. Of Mean.
    • 1. In respect of God; we can do nothing to purpose in Religion with­out his assistance.(g) which can't ordinarily be obtain'd without Labour.(i)
    • 2. In re­spect of us.
    For,
    • 1. The Gate is strait thorow which we are to pass; for Conviction and [Page 42]Conversion is quite contrary to our Natural case and Inclination.
    • 2. The Way is narrow, which we are to Travel in; the path of Ho­liness is opposite to our corrupt Dispositions; for the carnal Mind, is Enmity against God.(k)

3. The Enemies many, that we are to Tra­vel through, and very crafty, powerful and invidious; the World the Devil and the Flesh lye continually in Ambush to destroy us, or else Labour by open Combat to make us quit the Field of Battle, or lye at their Feet as blee­ding Victims to their Rage: These Conside­rations prove plainly, the absulute necessity of Violence, if we would be Victorious and ob­tain the good we seem to aim at, and propose. It some seek that shall never find, how shall these find that never, or but coldly Seek?

2. It's a very beneficial Duty, for in the per­formance of it, we are like to obtain eternal Happiness; and what is so valuable in itself, or should be so much desir'd by us, as this Anci­ent, spacious, rich, beautiful and everlasting Kingdom?

3. It is a very Rational Duty; in doing this, we comply with the united voice of Reason, of Conscience, of Man, and of God, in obey­ing our Maker, and securing our greatest In­terest. [Page 43]A wake then, you sluggish Souls, and strive to enter in at the strait Gate; for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

4. Others are battering the Heavens night and day, with Tears, and Sighs and Groans, as I am informed, they are comming to Christ in Flocks in New-England, at this time; and will you forever lye still in your beds, of car­nal Security, over the dreadful steeps of Dam­nation; like a sleepy Man, on the top of a Mast? Wretched Sinners! isn't there one Soul among you all that will be perswaded to awake this day? Ah! not one prodigal prevail'd what to return to his offended Father! Not one Lidia open her Heart to hear the Word of Christ? O Doleful! O Mournful! Mournful! Mournful! O wretched mould of your Hearts! you hard­ned Sinners, suffer me to bewail over you in the Language of mourning Jeremiah, Oh! that my Head were Waters, and mine Eyes a Fountain of Tears, that I might weep day ana night for the slain of the Daughter of my People. (l)

5. Awake and strive, Sinners, to enter in at the strait Gate; for see what vehement Labour and Hardship of Travel, Heat and Cold, Pe­rils by Land and Sea, many perform, endure and expose themselves to, and all to secure a little worldly Pelf; Won't you take as much [Page 44]pains about your Sou a, as they about their Bo­ches and Estates, about an Eternal, as they about a Temporal good O Shame! O Wonderful!

6. The Violence that many wicked People take to Damn themselves, by wicked Courses, should make you more painful in seeking the Happiness of your poor Souls; shall they take more pains in the Service of the Devil, than you in the Service of God; more pains for Damnation, than you for Salvation! O strange madness!

7. See what Violence the Devil uses against you to destroy you; and won't you take as much pains to save your Souls, under God, as the Devil doth to damn them!

I shall conclude with the Words of Moses to the People of Israel, [...]. 30 from verse 15. to 20. See I have set before you this day. Life and Good and Death and Evil, in that I command you this Day &c. &c. And of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews. Heb. 4.1 [...]. Let us Labour there­fore to enter into that Rest, lest any Man fall short after the same Example of Ʋnbelief. Amen.

FINIS.
[Page]

Errata.

PageLineforRead
16IncultateIuculcate
61athe
 14thethy
184freefeed
2522decifivedecisive
2812woun'twoudn't
3318HeavenHearers
 28ConscienticyConscientious,
3625opposingof using
381sawsow
4018gavegive
4313whatwith

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