Mr. MARSH's Sermon ON THE Fatherly Care of GOD to his Covenant Children.



THE Reader may hereby be Inform'd, That the Sermons, Preach'd Annual­ly, at the General Elections in Hartford, from the Year 1712, exclusively, to 1736, inclusively (excepting Two Years, viz. 1729, & 1735, when the Copies could not be obtained for the Press) are Printed, Bound up in Three Volumns, and are to be Sold by T. Green, at N.L.


GOD's Fatherly Care OF HIS Covenant Children; SHEWED and IMPROVED, In a SERMON Preached BEFORE THE General Assembly OF THE Colony of Connecticut, On the Day of their ELECTION At Hartford, May 13, 1736.

By Jonathan Marsh, A. M. Teacher of a Church in Windsor.

Printed by Order of the General Assembly.

N.LONDON, Printed and Sold by T. GREEN, Printer to the GOVERNOUR and COMPANY, 1737.


At a General Assembly holden at Hartford, on the 13th, Day of May, Anno Domini, 1736.

THIS Assembly do Appoint Roger Welcott, Esq & Capt Henry Allyn, to return the Thanks of this Assembly, to the Reverend Mr. Jonathan Marsh, for his Sermon which he Preached before the General Assembly on the 13th, Day of May, Instant; and desire a Copy thereof that it may be Printed.

George Wyllys, Secr.
[Page 1]

An Election Sermon.


Like as a Father pitieth his Children, so the LORD pitieth them that Fear Him.

THIS Psalm is Entituled, A Psalm of David; in which he stirreth up him­self and summoneth all his Powers, both of Body and Mind, to bless & praise the Name of GOD. The particular Reasons of it, are;

1. Special mercy shewn to him in forgiving his sins & healing his diseases, and in saving him from death when in imminent danger. See ver. 1. to 4. He shews his care thus, To relieve the Oppressed, ver. 5, 6. And then,

2. His Particular care for & over his Church, even for Israel, in giving his Law to them, and opening to them the mysteries of his Providence in their favour. ver. 7, 8, 9. So that if he corrects them for their Sins, as his chosen people; yet he limits & sets bounds to his Anger, as to the time and the measure of it. If he visits sore, yet not accor­ding to the demerit of their sins; but causes His Grace to Exert it self over their Unwor­thiness, ver. 10, 11. But 'tis in special [Page 2] to them that fear Him: He pardons their sins & does them all away. They are removed from them so far as the East and the West in their distances, ver. 12. This the Lord promises to do for the faithful, in the day of his gracious visitation, Jer. 31 34. And here, ver. 13. His gracious dealing is compared to that of a tender and compassionate Father in his dealing with his Children. Text, Like as a Father pitieth his Chil­dren, &c God is a Father to such; in the way of the New Covenant he owns them to be such, let them be Jew or Gentile, in the Gospel day, without distinction; and he treats them with like care and tenderness. And he is in special so tender and gracious in his dealings towards them that truly Fear him; i. e. the Seed of the Faithful; such as are Upright before him, and are under the influence of his Fear. so as to make it their care to please Him by keeping Covenant with him. Be it so they offend at times and break his Laws, He that knows their defects, will bear much with their froward tem­pers & peevish dispositions. He is not strict to mark their iniquities against them, for he knows their frame, ver. 14.


That GOD has a Fatherly Care for His Covenant Children; in special for them that Fear Him.

Here to shew,

[Page 3]1. He has a Fatherly Care for his Covenant People in general. He has so for Israel, whilst a Nation or People in Covenant with him; and he has so for a People or Nation taken into Covenant in Gospel times.

And we may briefly hint it in several Instan­ces, in which the Lord shews it.

1. In declaring them to be his Children and owning them as such. When God brings Israel into Covenant, he thus declares for Himself, and brings them thus to stipulate with him; or to [...]. Here [...]s the mutual Engagement between them, Deut. 26.17, 18. So it is in Gospel Times, Heb. 8, 10. Again, He is said in terms, To be their Father; and they are said to be, His Sons & Daughters, 2 Cor. 6.18.

But will the Most High and holy GOD thus transact with Vile and Sinful men, that be as Worms of the dust? Yes, so tis; Oh! ineffable Grace and Condescention in him. The Psal­mist therefore Expresses his Raised thoughts upon it, Psal. 8.4. What is man, that thou art thus mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou art pleased thus to visit him?

2. In taking them under his Fatherly Conduct & Directions Herein he acts the part of a Father. Parental care tends to this; To be sure for the Child while he is a Child, and wants skill and conduct to direct himself. Now the Father will keep him under his Eye, and not let him go [Page 4] far from him, or get out of his sight. The Lord has thus the wakeful Eye of his Providence over Israel night & day: The Pillar of the cloud by day, and that of fire by night, to guide them in the way they should go. This shews his par­ticular care to guide them in the Wilderness, after he has brought them out of Egypt by a Mighty Hand and prevented them in their low Estate, Exod. 13.21, 22. So Moses speaks in his Divine Song concerning them, Deut. 32.10. Thus, When Israel is a child the Lord loves him, and calls his son out of Egypt, Hos. 11.1.

3. In the Provision he makes for them. 'Tis the care of a tender Father to provide for his Chil­dren; to be sure while they be young and not able to provide for themselves. The Lord has this care for men in general, to provide for them, He provides for Man and Beast; These are all his Creatures, and live upon his Bounty day by day. But he provides in special for Is­rael, as his People in Covenant; in the Wilder­ness, Psal. 78.26. He gives them bread from hea­ven, and water out of the rock.

4. In taking them under his special Protection. A Father will do this as he is able for his Child, He will protect him from harm, if he be expo­sed by Enemies, or by Beasts of prey, &c. The Lord takes Israel, from the time of his coming up out of Egypt, down to Succeeding Times, under the wing of his Protection. He is tender [Page 5] of them, even as of the apple of his Eye, Deut. 32.10. If any touch them to do them harm, still they provoke Him to anger by their sins; and shall be sure to feel his Resentments for it, Psal. 105.13, 14, 15.

5. In bearing with their evil Tempers and Man­ners. Parents are thus pitiful towards their Children, in bearing with their peevish Tempers and froward Dispositions; they bear much and long with them; to be sure some do so: they bear with that from them thro' love & tender­ness, which others can't that be strangers to them or not so nearly related. So the Lord bears with that from his People in Covenant, that he will not bear with from others. He bears with that from them, which they won't or can't bear with from one another. This the Context shews. He bears with them long; and if their Sins be many and very grievous, and heavy Enough to tire his Patience, if he were like a weak and angry man; so that he would be for consuming them at once. See Jonah 4.1, 3. compar'd with Neh. 1.3. Mal 36. I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

6. In the Correction he uses when he sees there is need. He sees at times there is need of it: Milder means won't do; Chidings won't do; Reproofs, Admonitions, Warnings, Threat­nings won't do; He hews them by his Servants [Page 6] the Prophets, and slays them by the words of his Mouth, Hos. 6.5. So the Lord threatens Israel. But this is not sufficient to Reclaim them. Now he proceeds to visit with the Rod. But how loth does he seem to be to come to it, or to use it as he might? If he Corrects, he acts as a Father in it, and not as an incensed Judge. His Correction is seasonable; He will take a proper time and season for it: He will not do it too soon; so as to be sudden and hasty in it; nor will he defer it too long. He will take them alone to do it, or by themselves as separate from other people, and when their minds are best prepared to receive it, Lam. 3.28. Farther, In its particular nature and kind, it shall be seaso­nable and proper to carry light and conviction with it, that they may read or see their Sin in the punishment of it, Psal. 18 26. Jer. 2.19. Again, As to the measure of it; The Church prays for this, Jer. 10 24 O Lord, correct me, but with judgment, &c lest thou bring me to nothing. He tries lighter strokes, and then more heavy, if there be need; but yet 'tis in measure. He does in the midst of Judgment remember Mercy.

And for a close to this, here we may observe a Fathers pity herein, His lothness to give them up, if they prove Incorrigible under all See the yearnings of his bowels; as the heart of a tender Parent ready to break within him, Hos. 11.8. Yea, rather than do as at times, when all [Page 7] means fail, he will try his own Strength upon them, and break their stubborn and rebellious Hearts by the power of his Almighty Arm: (What is more than any Earthly Parent can possibly do) See it in Ephraim's turn, Jer. 31.19, 20. Thus for the first General Head.

II. To shew He has this Care in special for them that truly Fear Him. Be it so his Fatherly care reaches to the Body of a People in Covenant with him, then that of a more special nature to them that truly fear him. These are the faith­ful in the Land, on whom the Lord has set his Eye, and in whom he delights.

His Fatherly Care for them intends such things as these in it.

1. That his Love to them is Peculiar. He has set his love upon them before the Foundation of the world. He has Loved them with an Everlasting Love, Jer. 31.3. They are chosen in Christ, to be to the glory of his Grace, Eph. 1.4.

2. He has given them to know his Name and to put their Trust in Him. Others hear of him and may have some sensible manifestations of his Presence and Glory (As Israel at the Red Sea, and at Mount Sinai after it, upon the giving the Law) that now dispose them to Praise him or to Fear him for a time; but they don't see him, as Moses does in the Proclamation of his Name, Exod. 34, 6, 7. Or as Abraham. [Page 8] Isaac and Jacob their Fathers, before did, when he made or declared his Covenant with them; or as such as truly fear God in the Gospel-day, know him at times in his Son Jesus Christ, Job. 17.3. The Spirit of God thus opening their Understandings in Gospel Truths and giving them to see & know the things set forth, or the Objects revealed by this medium, in a spiritual manner; or to Evidence the clearness so as they could not see them before, 1 Cor. 2, 9, to 14. So 2 Cor. 3.18. & Chap. 4.6.

3. Their Relation to God 'tis Saving. Others are Visibly related to him; they may have right to External Privileges, as having a Regular standing in the Covenant: But these upon be­lieving in Christ and coming up to the Gospel Condition, have the favour or privilege of Adoption in a Saving sense and meaning. They have a real vital Union to Christ, Job. 1.12. They have the spirit of Children given to them as the fruit of their Faith. Hence a filial fear of God & love to him; coming to him with free­dom, as Children to a Father, in the duty of Prayer, or by way of Complaint upon occasion. This is more in some than others, and more sen­sible in the Subject of it at one time than at an­other; but yet there is something of it in every true Believer, Rom. 9.15. Gal. 4.6.

4. God's Providence is concerned in all his dealings, to promote their best good and to farther them in the [Page 9] way to Eternal Life. See the faith of the upright man for this, Psal. 73.24. Rom. 8.28. Let us then be directed to look constantly to the glory of God as our ultimate End in whatever we do or suffer, and this will arm us with Christian fortitude and patience, Rom. 2.7 Others have found its strength & efficacy, when acted from this spirit of Faith, in the view of things unseen and eternal. See it in the Primitive Christians under their Persecutions, 2 Cor. 4.17.

But for the ƲSE of the DOCTRINE.

USE, I. Of Information and Instruction, in a few Particulars. Learn hence,

1. The Obligations of such a People to GOD must be special and very great. As they be the Subjects of his Fatherly Care, so their Obligations are proportionate as Children, to be true and faithful to him. See what the Lord expects from Israel, on the account of what he had done in taking them into Covenant with himself. He saves them before hand, as it were. He migh­tily trusts and confides in them, that they will be obedient & true to what they promise, and what he has so fairly bound them to do. Isa 63.8 He said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. They be in particular bound to love the Lord their God, and to cleave to him as their Portion and Inhe­ritance; [Page 10] they are to give up themselves to him in Heart and Life, Deut. 6, 4, 5. They be obliged to fear and honour Him. See the Lord's chal­lenge, (on the common right of a Parent) to Israel, Mal. 1.6. A son honoureth his father, —If I then be your Father, where is mine Honour? They are to be much in the study of his Pre­cepts to know his Mind and Will, that so they may be Obedient to him in all things, and may attend the duties of Natural and Revealed Re­ligion with care: They are to Fear GOD and Reverence their Superiors in every Order. Its like to go well with a People when the Fifth Commandment is strictly observed by them. They are to own and profess the Truths of God, and to Worship him aright, Job. 4.24. They are to Fear and Reverence his Great and Holy Name; to Sanctify the Sabbath, to keep it as a Holy Day unto the Lord; to Love his House, his Worship and Ordinances therein, and not live in the careless Neglect of any of his Institutions. Farther, They are to to be Sober, Temperate, Peaceable, Chast, Diligent in Bu­siness, Men of Truth and Honesty, Kind and Charitable, and so govern their Affections as to these things, by the rules of Reason and Re­ligion: They are to be Humble and Meek, not Proud & Haughty; so as to gain the ascendant over their corrupt Humours and Passions: And to be in all things Blameless as the Sons of God [Page 11] without Rebuke. If the world in general be Corrupt, they ought not to be so; but be sepa­rate & stop at a distance from them, 2 Cor. 6.19. Phil. 2.15. They are to consider the End of God's dealing with them, and what will be the End of their contrary Carriage to Him, Deut. 32.29 Farther, As to the special tyes of Gra­titude to God, which are thus laid upon them and how if herein they fail and are unmind­ful of the God that has formed them and Re­deemed them, there's just ground of Com­plaint against them; As in Deut. 32.6.

2. Learn hence, How sad it is if such a People do much to provoke him by their Sins. If instead of Living to him as obedient Children, they Rebel against him; if instead of Trembling at the word, or feeling the weight of God's Au­thority in it, as well as the justice & goodness of the Precept, they trample upon it and are bold to transgress; This is sad and looks with a dark Aspect on a People. In special,

(1) If they be Sins which they have been often told of, reproved for, warned against, and called on to humble themselves for before the Lord, and so to Re­form. If a people are often told of their for­getfulness of God, their neglect of his Worship and Ordinances; of their Formality in God's service, or of their strange Ease and Quiet in resting in doing somthing in the duties of Re­ligion, short of the life & power of Godliness. [Page 12] If they are told of their Pride, Covetousness, Voluptuousness, Injustice, Deceit and Lying. If they are told of their Strifes & Divisions in Towns and Churches, to the waft of much precious Time, as well as to their apparent hurt and damage in Temporals and Spirituals. And yet there is no return to God by Refor­mation: Still the same Sins laid in charge against them, Year after Year; no change in the general for the better; but it may be growing worse, here is a sad Omen upon a people, Jer. 7.25, 26.

(2) Sins for which they have suffered much already. If for these & such like Sins the Land mourns, and for them the Lord yet smoaks against our Prayers; and we have yet Sickness sore and grievous; just complaint of our low and declining state in Temporals, as well as Spirituals. In particular, as to frowns in Sea­sons in the Spring, and so in Harvest time, so that the work of our hands fail as to the Fruit of it, and our Stock dies in particular places. If our Losses are considerable by Land or Sea, every Year, and yet we have not Eyes to see nor Hearts to reform; but some are impatient & find fault with others, while some are easie and unconcerned; others be in the dark and at a loss, not knowing what to do to Revive a dying or decaying State; saving but to go on in the Path they have gone on in from year to [Page 13] year; And still the Complaint is, as made by the more serious and thinking Part of this people, as wiftly looking one upon another in Conversation, That the Land is sinking, no Reformation, no Amendment; but things look darker on us from year to year in ssome respect or other! What is it but to come to their case in Ezek. 33.10. To put away, &c.?

3. Inference, It may teach such a People not to distrust God's Care in time of Distrest, Straits and Dangers. They may be at times much Ex­posed; their Constitution may be Threatned, by such as are no Friends to it; God is angry, and a series of Evils follow it: yet such a Peo­ple as are in the hands of a Merciful God and Compassionate Father, are not to distrust his Care. It may be the People ben't brought low enough yet. To be sure they be not as to temper and spirit; it may be as to their Circumstances neither. When the Child is got much out of frame, grown to be very froward, peevish and stout, and will be going away from its Parents in its own strength; no wonder if the Parent lets go its hold and so it falls to wounding in a measure for conviction; yet it goes not out of sight. A sad instance like this in Israel, when they had been fret­ting and provoking the Lord, upon the evil report of the Spies, they will yet venture to go up without Commission from God; but [Page 14] they smart for their Presumption, Numb. 14. [...]. So a People may be apt to trust to Man and [...], to their own Strength and the in­fluence of Others as Israel to Moses & Aaron in Egypt, but yet their burden grows, their [...] is doubled before the Lord begins to work for their deliverance. And so it may be now, when a People have been looking here and there, to men & means to be saved from Evils, and it Fails; now may be the time for the Lord to shew his Power, Isa. 62.6. Farther, In the time of outward Straits, 'tis with the Lord to supply our Wants; He has done it for Israel in times past, and he is as able & willing to do it now as then, Isa. 59.1. He will do it if we trust in him; He has so declared for such as fear him and hope in his grace, Psal. Farther, If he brings desolating Judgments by sore Sickness upon some parts of the Land, he may spare us and our Children, if we take the warning and be humbled for our sins before him, sympathize with our Christian Brethren under their sore Bereavements, and unitedly be seeking for sparing Mercy in this time of threatning Calamity. The Lord knows our frames, and considers that we are but dust; as it follows the Text. See ver. 14, 15.

4. Inference, Learn hence, how dreadful is the state of such a People, to be Rejected of God and to be Cast off by him. Their repeated Back­slidings [Page 15] lead to it, if they be of duration and continuance, Jer. 8.5. Now they grow to that degree in Sin, and are so habituated to it, that their wound is said to be incurable, Isa. 1.5. Jer. 8.22. Now if the Lord writes, [...], upon Israels State, Hos. 1.9. First Rejects her, and then the House of Judah, for like abomina­tions. Now is their Glory and defence gone, their City and Temple; Mount Sion once the Joy of the whole Earth, is made a Ruinous heap. So if after this there be a revival upon Judahs Captivity; they quickly Revolt from God. How low is their State brought at times, by particular Judgments from God, or by Enemies, and they be threatned with utter Ruine, which comes at length upon their Re­jecting Christ. In the prospect of which, how is their sad state Lamented by him, as he sees the Day of it to be approaching? Mat. 23.37. So Luk. 19.41, 42. Remarks made on this, are left for Ensamples and Warnings to the Church in Gospel times, 1 Cor. 10.11. We have the like Instance in the Asian Churches; how are they threatned, and since forsaken? See it as to Ephesus, Rev. 2.3. And others of them since over-run by Turks and Infidels; and have Mahomet or his followers possessing those places that were once the Conquest of Christ, as Riding forth on his word of Truth in the day of his Victorious grace, so to succeed and [Page 16] prosper the Ministry of his Apostles. Com­pare Psal. 45.4, 5. with Rev. 6.3. What is this for, but to warn the Church in every Age to look well to their standing; so as not to be high-minded, but fear.

USE, II. Of Exhortation and Direction, to several Orders and Degrees of Persons among us, with respect to the Relative Duties incumbent on them, in their Places. And here in particular,

1. Let it be directed to the Civil Rulers of this People; in special to the Honourable the GOVER­NOƲR, the DEPƲTY-Governour, the Worship­ful Assistants, Judges and Justices; together with the Representative Body of this People now Assem­bled on this great and weighty Occasion.

Honourable, Worshipful & highly Esteemed; As the Rule and Government of this People, may be again devolved upon You, by this Days E­lection, and you may be so directed by Provi­dence to take the Charge a new upon you; be Intreated to do it in Humility and the Fear of the Lord 'Tis from Him you derive your Power; Let then a tender Regard for His Honour, and a Concern for the Publick good of this People, be the Principles and Motives by which you are acted in your Conduct and Government of them. We Expect of You, as the Sons of the Mighty, whose Name you bear in your Exalted Station, that [Page 17] you Eye Him in his Rectoral Care & Goodness; and Imitate his good Providence, in a tender concern for the Welfare of this People, so far as you are capable of. In particular, Be directed & humbly intreated, to be tender and skilful Guides to the People. Use and improve the Knowlege you have in the Rules of Government; and the Experience you have gained in the state of this People, since you have been in a Publick Capacity over them for this End. Do you find the temper of this People to Shift and Change; to be running to the Extreams on the one side or the other; to be In­fluenced by present and sudden Views of things, without a due care or concern to look to the End of them? Labour to see for them, to shew them their Dangers and the Mischiefs that may follow: And point out the way to them which may be more plain and safe. Thus act in Imitation of the Faithful & Experienced Ruler, Psal. 78.72. Again, As the Heads of this People, use your Strength, Providence & Skill, for the Protection and Defence of this People, in their just Liberties Civil and Sacred. Let your United Counsels be so im­proved in your Present Sessions, to know if our Privileges may be in Danger; what the Exceptions may be that are made against the Government, how they may be Obviated; that we may be yet a Peaceable & Quiet Habitation, under the Um­brage & Protection of our Most Gracious SO­VEREIGN. And be it so, the LORD our God [Page 18] threatens us for our great & crying Sins, and his Anger begins to burn us, as in other parts of the Land, we Expect you Observe it, and Search into the Cause of it, or be Leading in it to Remove it; so to step in as Gapmen to make up the Breach, that we be not Consumed. Pious Rulers, as well as Faithful Ministers, may be prevalent Intercessors with God at such a time, and so be made Publick Blessings to a People. See Numb. 16.48. & 11.2 compared with Psal. 106.23. Moreover, Let the Eye of this Honourable Assembly be ever upon the Lord, to be to them for a spirit of Counsel, Wisdom & Might, to make them Wise & Know­ing in their present Work and Business, to Direct their Counsels, to lead to such Resolves and Acts as may be for the Health, Peace & Prosperity of this People. Let Laws or Acts made to Re­strain Excesses amongst us, be Passed upon Deli­beration & Judgment: And if so made, let them not be hastily Repealed: Let it not be said, It won't bear, it can't be practised upon; 'twill do no good to reach the End. Is the Remedy worse, or as bad as the Disease? Is there nothing farther to be done to restrain us in our Non-necessaries? Must the way be yet as open to Intemperance & Luxury, to Rioting & Drunkenness, as it has been? Methinks, I hear the Lord speaking to you, as to the Prophet, Jer. 15.19. Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them. Farther, Let your Wisdom & Care be Improved, as to [Page 19] Retrench [...] in Pride, Intemperance, Luxury and Prodigality, Idleness, &c. so to Promote Industry, Diligence in profitable Business, among us; Promote & Encourage Husbandry & Tillage, in the proper parts of it: so as to useful Trades, &c. The People grow and spread themselves, here and there upon the face of the ground; Crops fail often, and so does the Harvest other ways. Providence frowns in the time of our Ingathering, so that if Husbandry & Frugality is not promoted, Man & Beast is Exposed to suffer. Many are spirited for Trading amongst us; but few seem to Ʋnderstand it, or to Prosper in it. They may make a Show for a time, if they have any Stock to begin with; but it may be, by Ill Management, or Unexpected Loss, by Land or Sea, by and by they fail and come to nothing.

Farther to this Assembly I would humbly offer or say, Hear the just Grievances & Complaints of this People, so as to do them Justice, or to set them in the way to have it done for them. Hear the Cause of the Small, as well as the Great; of the Widow and Fatherless, as well as of the men of Strength, Parts and Influence among us.

Farther, As to the Judges of this People, Such as may be so Constituted by the Authority of this Assembly, to Sit in the Seat of Judgment, to Hear and to Judge the Causes of this People, Let me Intreat you (with submission,) That you bear not the Sword in vain; but use it for [Page 20] the Punishing & Suppressing Vice & Immorality; so for the promoting of Religion & Vertue among us. Let Justice & Honesty, Peace & Truth be promo­ted through your means. Be very Zealous for the Lord your God, his Honour & the honour of His Laws, and against the growing & prevailing Evils of the Times. Let there be no just or reasonable Complaint of the want of Justice, or the delays of it beyond the expected Terms of Trial. Keep the Attornies close to their business, as you are able to do; 'twill make them better Studied in the Law, and of more Service to the truth and right of the Cause. These Gentlemen may know, who was wont to say it in his Pleadings at the Bar, That the matter lies in a little Room, viz. Sir Edward Cooke. And for a close here, Eye the Charge of Je­hosaphat to his Judges; which how great and weighty is it? 2 Chron. 19.6, 7. And let each one in Authority yet look higher, viz. to the Example of CHRIST, his Spirit and Practise in his Prophetick & Kingly Office, to inspire them with a spirit of Knowlege, Counsel and Might, Justice & Faithfulness, Peace, Love & Tenderness, for their work: This makes the Vision in the dark Day of Sions Trouble to shine forth with brightness, Psal. 45.4, 5. & 85.9, 10. Now is his Salvation near to them that fear him, and his glory shall yet dwell in the Land; And if so, 'twill be for walls & bulwarks to a people. Isa.

[Page 21]2. Let the Word of Exhortations be directed to Gospel Ministers; the Ministers of these Churches, set over them in the Lord. To my Reverend Fa­thers and Brethren; Be ye hence Directed and Exhorted, in humility & fear, to attend with Care & Watchfulness, Chearfulness & Diligence, to the Ministry which you have received, so as to pursue the great Ends & Designs of it. Labour suitably to your Office, as spiritual Guides to this People, to be spiritual Fathers to them. Labour as men of Judgment, Wisdom & Knowlege in the things of God, to know their state in parti­cular, their Ignorance and Darkness, their Doubts and Fears, their Tempers or particular Distempers of mind; and labour to direct them as wise and skilful Physicians, in the way to a Cure. Exercise a strict Watch over them, and labour to pre­vent their running into Errors in Principles or Practise, or matters of Experience. See you be men of Experience your selves in the more in­ward and vital part of Religion; and improve in it (by God's help) by Observation made upon others. Thus may you be able to Guide others in the way, as men of Knowlege & Judg­ment in Soul Cases. Use skill and judgment in the Choice of your Subjects, to the method of healing them. Let your Impovements be large in a pleasing variety of profitable Truths, and continuing on plain and practical Subjects. Labour by pertinency and pungency of Ex­pression, [Page 22] to reach the Hearts, and to convince the Consciences of your Hearers. Attend to Pro­vidences, and labour wisely to Improve them, by way of carrying Reproof, or particular Motive to Duty. If the heart be prepared now & made softer & tender by melting Providences, now use the Word to strike with it, and set it home; it may be it may prove, as a fire & hammer, to break the Rock in pieces, Jer 3.29 Call on the Secure, to awake out of Sleep, in times of general deadness & corruption, Eph. 5.14. Rom. 13.11-13. Do what in you lies to Reform the Corrupt and Vicious, by seasonable Reproof, Admonition & Warning. Encourage dark & drooping Souls, & lead them as you may, to the thoughts of the Power & Grace of God, the Sufferings of Christ, & the gracious Promises he makes to such as bow to him, and cast their burdens upon him, Mat. 11.28. Be jealous of some with a godly Jealousie; and be very tender and gentle in your dealing with others, Isa. 40.11.2 Cor. 11.2. Jude ver. 22, 23. Travail in pain for some that have been long seeking for Salvation, and yet be in the dark, as fearing they draw back to their ruine, or con­tinue so in the dark, till they die without any com­fortable Change, Gal. 4.19. Visit your Flocks on occasion, when you may do it with Profit, or ra­ther invite them into your Studies, at proper times & seasons, where you may be best at liberty to know their state, and to speak a word in season to [Page 23] weary Souls, or any under concern. And to say no more on this head, My Fathers & Brethren, Let us labour to be United in Love, as Brethren in the Lord, to be mutual Helps to each other, to watch against a spirit of Division, to be tender of the health & Reputation of one another, and be slow to receive Accusations one against another, from faithless & prejudiced minds, to the hurt of our selves, & disturbing the peace of our Churches. Let us consider our Infirmities, Tempers, Disposi­tions, & particular Trials & Temptations. Let us so bear one anothers burdens, that we may fulfil the law of Christ, Gal. 6.20. And let us be United in fervent and humble Prayer, in this dark and Calamitous day, that the Lord our God will yet return and farther visit this his Vine, and yet remember us with the favour he bears to his chosen People, Psal 106.4, 5.

3. Let it be directed to Heads of Families amongst us. Let Family Order and Government revive in them. Let Parents see to it that they behave themselves wisely in a perfect way, and walk before God in their Houses with a perfect heart. Let Family Worship be Revived & kept up with care; such as United Prayers to God, and the daily Reading the Scriptures in them. Let them use their Authority to Restrain their houses from Sin, and to keep them close to their place & busi­ness set them: Reform what they see and find to be amiss, and they put away wickedness from [Page 24] their Tabernacle, Job 22.23. If this might obtain in particular Families, 'tis the way to be built up themselves, and to help forward the work of Re­formation in others. Farther, Let Masters be kind to their Servants, as knowing that they have a Master in heaven that is so kind & gracious to them. Let them Feed & Cloathe them well; be tender of them if Sick, and not make them Serve with Rigour when they are Well. Let them be Concern'd for their Souls; in particular for their Negro Slaves; and not be content to bring them up in Ignorance. Let them be Taught when Young to Read, and be Early Catechised in the Principles of Religion. If as grown to riper Years, they be Serious, free from Vice, Well-inclin'd & have competent Knowlege in the Principles of Religion, and may now seek for Baptism in the way [...] Order, let not their Masters Frown upon it, or Discountenance it. If they prove well upon it, as now wearing the Name of Christians, they will still be greater Blessings: If not so, Masters have done their Duty, and may find much Peace in it, as being found faithful to God, as Abraham was in his house, Gen. 18.19. And let Servants thus favoured & priviledged, be Subject to their Masters, not only for Wrath, or fear of Punishment, but for Conscience sake, Rom 13 5 So 1 Cor 7.21. Farther, Let it teach us Pity & Tenderness to Brute Creatures, made for the service & comfort of men. There may [Page 25] much guilt be this way contracted amongst a People, when they be hardly used, and kept in a poor Starving state, from Rigour or Covetousness in men. Now, it may be, their groans reach Heaven, and bring a blast on People; and that they strangely die, here & there at particular times & seasons; or there is wast of their Sub­stance other ways, which leads to it, Rom. 8.22

USE, III. And last, May be in a word of Encou­ragement & Comfort, to Two sorts of Persons. Is the Lord as our God & Father in Covenant, a God of such tender Pity to them that fear him as his Covenant Children? It may Encourage or Comfort two sorts of persons. In particular,

1. To Souls in Distress under Inward Troubles; as Convinced Sinners, or such whom the Lord may be about to humble and prepare for his grace, that yet remain in the dark, and have not seen that the Lord is gracious. Here,

(1) Consider, There is grace enough in God for you. Be it so you have sinned with a high hand and have lived long in it, so as to give ground to fear you have got beyond the reach of mercy, yet consider this grace & goodness in the Foun'tain, 'tis Infinite. And it may be the Lord de­signs to pour it forth upon you, Rom. 5.20

(2) He gives you particular Encouragement to seek it. Does your trouble and distress drive you to God? as it does if it works aright. As [Page 26] wounded in spirit, are you so prepared to look to him for Healing? Your Encouragement now is great. 'Tis the Spirits work now in the time of his gracious Visitation, Zech. 12.10 Hos. 6.10

(3) He has bestow'd it on others, as vile or worse than you be. Be it so you are Vile & deserve to be turned down to Hell, and you appear to be viler than any man; yet there be Patterns of mercy before you. See it in Manasseh, Mary Mag­dalene, the Thief on the Cross, & others 1 Cor. 6.11

(4) He promises to Accept you upon believing and hoping in his Mercy. He bids you do it, & warns you not to seek for rest any where else. 'Tis the Lord against whom you have sinned, and 'tis his Prerogative to indemnify & clear you from your Guilt. And this is sure to the Soul that truly turns and repents, Isa. 55.7.

2. Let it be of Comfort to all such as truly fear the Lord. This Doctrine gives ground of strong Consolation to all such as truly fear the Lord, or have reason so to hope from what they have seen of him in his Power, Grace and Faithfulness, after they have been brought to sensible Con­viction of their own Sinfulness, Nothingness & Unworthiness of his Favour. So if they may gather it from the gracious fruits of his Love in them; as to Trusting in him upon being bro't to know him and to see him in his Relative Goodness; so to Love him and Fear him with holy Fear, as is the spirit of his Children: Such [Page 27] have sure ground of Comfort. Here Two things. Let such Consider,

(1) The Covenant with the Promise of it is sure. The Covenant is Everlasting: It reaches to you, and to your Seed, upon condition. 'Tis such a Relation made between God and you, as that no Relation in Nature can reach it, or in the way of Civil Contract. 'Tis set forth by many things; but they do but faintly shew it. The Lord speaks of being a Father to you in Co­venant; and he is more than so: Of being your Husband; and he is yet more than so, Isa. 54.5. Such Relations hold fast for Life; but such is your Covenant Interest, as that neither Life nor Death can disanul it. The Covenant it is Ever­lasting, and so is the Foundation of your Com­fort, Isa. 55.3. Rom. 8 38, 39.

(2) Hence all his Dealings with them are in this way. Let the man that truly fears the Lord Consider this, The Lord is ever mindful of his Co­venant, in the good or evil which he brings upon you; and it reaches to your Children too, as they may be prepar'd to fear him & serve him Early. For which you have great Encouragement to Plead at the Throne of grace. See the En­couragement, here as it follows the Text, ver. 17, 18. But the Mercy of the Lord is from Ever­lasting to Everlasting upon them that Fear him; and his Righteousness unto Childrens Children: To such as keep his Covenant, and to those that remember his Commandments to do them.


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