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Dr. Sewall's SERMON AT THE Thursday Lecture in Boston, January 1st. 1740,1.

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All Flesh is as Grass; but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.

A SERMON Preached at the Thursday Lecture in Boston, January 1st. 1740,1.

By Joseph Sewall, D. D. Pastor to a Church of CHRIST in Boston.

Psal. cii. 11, 12. My Days are like a Shadow that declineth: and I am withered like Grass. But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever, and thy Remembrance unto all Generations.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND and T. GREEN in Queenstreet over against the Prison. 1741.

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All Flesh is as Grass; but the Word of the Lord endu­reth for ever.

1 PET. 1.24, 5.

All Flesh is as Grass, and all the Glory of Man, as the Flower of Grass. The Grass withereth, and the Flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you.

HAVING obtained Help from GOD, we continue to the first Day in the New Year: Others have their Days num­bred and finished, and are sent down to the Grave which celebrateth not God's Name, while we are still among the Living, the living to Praise him this Day, and hear the Words of Life from him. O that this Goodness of God may lead us to Repentance! that this Patience may be Salvation to us! ToDay, while it is called to Day, if ye will hear God's Voice, harden not your Hearts. And what more [Page 2] quickning Motive can I offer to excite you to this Duty, than my Text affords us; the Considera­tion of the frailty of Man respecting his first Birth, and as he is a Child of apostate Adam; and of the immortal Life he is begotten to, when he receiveth the incorruptible Seed of the Word of God into his Heart, of that God who liveth and abideth for ever.

Here then we may consider from the Words the following Observations,

I. Man is Flesh; weak and frail as the Grass. II. All the Glory of Man is as the Flower of Grass. III. As such a fading Creature he withers & falls by Death. IV. The Word of the Lord endureth for ever. V. This is the Word which by the Gos­pel is preached unto you.

I. Man is Flesh; weak and frail as the Grass. Man is call'd Flesh. All Flesh has corrupted his Way upon the Earth, Gen. 6. 12. Such is his Body, and his Soul is defil'd with fleshly Lusts. That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh, Joh. 3.6. Indeed in his original Constitution, Man had not the Seeds of Corruption sown in his Nature; no, Adam was made in God's Image, and after his Likeness; a Candidate for a blessed Immortality: But when he had transgress'd his Maker's Law by eating the forbidden Fruit, that Threatning was denounc'd, Dust thou art, and unto Dust thou shalt return, Gen. 3. 19 As Grass Man springs out of the Earth, being form'd out of the Dust respecting his Body. It's true, his Body was at first, a noble Structure in which Adam appear'd in excellent Majesty as the Head over the brute Creation. And here the meaness of the Materials out of which he was form'd was a soil to the divine Power and Skill of the [Page 3] Creator. * And even since the Fall has mar'd God's Workmanship, impair'd the Strength, and defac'd the Beauty of it; still there's reason to sing the Praises of our Maker in the Words of the royal Psalmist, I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Psal. 139. 14. And I may add, no less wonderfully preserved; for as the Grass, our Life is now exceeding frail, and liable to be blasted by every Wind. As for Man his Days are as Grass: as a Flower of the Field, so be flourish­eth. For the Wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the Place thereof shall know it no more, Psal. 103.15, 16. And accordingly as Grass, when Man has stood for a little time, he falls to the Earth, and in his Dissolution returns to it. Even such as are now in their Verdure, may say, the time of our Depar­ture is at Hand. For what is your Life? It is even a Vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Surely the People is Grass, Isai. 40. 7. All Orders of Men, whether they be high or low, rich or poor, young or old, agree in this; they are all as Grass, frail dying Creatures. And this leads me to say,

II. All the Glory of Man is as the Flower of Grass, Verily every Man at his best State is altogether vanity, Psal. 39. 5. Suppose him to be flourishing in Beauty, Health, and the most agreable outward Circumstan­ces of Wealth, Honour, Friends, and the like; in all this Glory, Man is but a fading Flower, like the Lilies of the Field. Yea, this Comparison is not too low for Solomon in all his Glory; for our Lord assureth us, he was not arayed like one of these, Mat. 6. 29. Even these Works of God which are to Day, and to Morrow are cast into the Oven, appear with inimitable Lustre in their fine and beautiful Colours, vastly exceeding all humane Art. But [Page 4] why do we set our Eyes upon that which is not? While we behold this perishing Creature, it fadeth and vanisheth away. Surely Men of high Degree are a lie: to be laid in the Balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity, Psal. 62. 9. Which brings me to the third Head,

III. As such a frail Creature, Man withereth, and falls by Death. As the Flower of the Grass he passeth away. For the Sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the Grass, and the Flower thereof falleth, and the Grace of the fashion of it perisheth, Jam. I. II. So do we fade away. My Days are like a Shadow that declineth: and I am withered like Grass, Psal. 102. 11. How feeble are we from our Birth! How brittle is our Constitution! We be­gin to die as soon as we begin to live. We are continually changing and wearing away as we pass the different Scenes of Life, and at Death that Word is fulfil'd, Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his Countenance, and sendest him away, Job 14. 20. Almost every thing we converse with in this passing World would teach us this plain Truth. Particularly, our daily Food. We live upon the Dead. The Flesh of brute Crea­tures fed with Grass and then slain, is a considera­ble Part of our Livelihood. And can a Life thus supported endure always? No surely. Every Meal puts us in Mind of those Words, Meats for the Belly, and the Belly for Meats; but God shall destroy both it and them, 1 Cor. 6. 13. How careful then should we be to glorify God, whether we eat or drink? How watchful over our selves, lest by any Excesses we should further shorten this frail Life? And how earnest should we be in seeking the living Bread which came down from Heaven, that we may eat and live for ever? Even the Flesh of the Son of God, which he hath Given for the Life of the World. O labour, not for the Meat which pe­risheth, but for that Meat which endureth unto ever­lasting [Page 5] Life. But it's time I return from this Di­gression. We may each one of us say with Job, Is my Strength the Strength of Stones? or is my Flesh of Brass? No, it is much more fitly compar'd to the Grass. Our Flesh is a little mouldring loose Earth, soon crumbled and broken to Pieces. O frail Man! why dost thou boast thy self in Vanity? Let the serious Consideration of thy hastening Dissolution hide Pride from thee. You may say to Corruption, Thou art my Father; to the Worm, Thou art my Mother, and my Sister. Glory not then in thy Strength or Beauty, Wealth or Honour; but rather lie down in the Dust before the Lord of Life, and bewail thy Sin which hath stain'd thy Glory with the Shadow of Death, and turn'd thy Beauty into Corruption. Bury my Dead out of my Sight. And yet again I say to thee, Lift up thy Head, and behold thy Saviour offering to raise you to an im­mortal Life by his Word and Spirit, a Life much better than that which you forfeited and lost by the original Apostacy. O that this may be the Hour in which such as are dead in Sins shall hear the Voice of the Son of God, and live!

IV. The Word of the Lord endureth for ever. Now this is here spoken in opposition to the frail perishing Condition of Man, consider him in his unregenerate State, and as born of the Flesh. As he proceeds from the first Adam, he is altogether Vanity, and whatever appears excellent in him, must soon vanish away; but then in the Word, CHRIST the second Adam is reveal'd and offer'd to us, who hath abolished Death, and brought Life and Immortality to Light by the Gospel; and we have a new and living Way open'd to Glory and Blessedness. Sin is expiated by one perfect Offer­ing of our great High Priest, God-Man; and the Holy Spirit purchas'd to sanctity God's People, and [Page 6] so prepare them for eternal Life in Heaven. A­greably we read that God's People are born again not of corruptible Seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. ver. 23. Context. When the Son of God who is the essential and eternal Word is pleas'd to make use of the Word written, and accompany it with the divine Influence of his Spirit; then the Word of God is quick and powerful, it is Spirit and Life; the blessed Mean of be getting a new and spiritual Life in God's Peo­ple, and of nourishing it to eternal Life. Of the Son, who is call'd the Word of God, Rev. 19. 13. it may be said in the highest Sense, that he liveth and abideth for ever, respecting his Divine Nature. This true & faithful Witness declareth, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning & the ending, saith the Lord, which is, & which was, and which is to come, Rev. 1. 8. And as Mediator, God has given him Power over all Flesh, that be should give eternal Life to as many as thou bast given him, Joh. 17. 2. Indeed I do not say that the Word is here nextly to be understood of the Son of God personally; but then it is to be understood of the Word of the Gospel as it is the Word of Christ, and as it is breath'd into the Hearts of his People by his Spirit. And this Name seems to have been given to our Lord Jesus, not only as God utter'd his mighty Voice by him, and spake the World into being. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any Thing made that was made, Joh 1. 1, to 3. But also as God speaks to his People the Word of Life by him, and createth the new Heavens and the new Earth, Wherein dwelleth Righteousness. Accordingly, those Words Heb. 4. 12. For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged Sword, pier­cing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, [Page 7] and of the Joynts and Marrow, and is a discerner of the Thoughts and Intent of the Heart; are by some understood as spoken of the essential Word, our Lord Jesus Christ; by others of the written Word. I humbly conceive that the full Sense of the Place comprehends both Interpretations, and may well be understood of the Gospel of Christ, as spoken to the Heart by him, when it becomes Spirit & Life to dead Souls.

Having premised these Things, I would endea­vour to confirm and illustrate th [...] [...]ead we are up­on, by saying,

I. God has wonderfully preserved his Word in every Age.

From the Promise made to our first Parents, which contains a Threatning against the old Ser­pent the Devil, that God would destroy this evil One with his Works, I will put Enmity between thee and the Woman, and between thy Seed and her Seed: it shall bruise thy Head, and thou shalt bruise his Heel, Gen. 3. 15. we may date the Gospel Revelation, which we may suppose was handed down by oral Tradition, and also further preserved and enlarged by God's appearing and revealing himself and his Will to his People as there was occasion for it. We are assur'd that God at sundry Times, and in divers Manners, spake in Time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, Heb. 1. 1. Afterwards, for the better preserving of the Word, it was by God's Direction committed unto writing. Holy Men spake, and they wrote the Word of God, as moved by the Holy Ghost. Agreeably God said of his ancient People, Hos. 8. 12. I have written to him the great Things of my Law. God himself gave unto Moses when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two Tables of Testimony, Tables of Stone, written with the Finger of God, Exod. 31. 18 However, it is not so certain, whether the Art of [Page 8] Writing was not communicated to Men before Moses's Time; for Joh who is suppos'd to live before him, says, O that my Words were now writ­ten! Chap. 19. 23. But to return, after this the Word of God was written by Moses and other in­spired Pen-men. Our Lord owns the Writings of the Old Testiment in use in his Day, as authentick. They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them, Luk. 16. 29. Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal Life, & they are they which testify of me, Joh. 5. 39 And God has since wonderfully preserv'd the sacred Writings of the old and new Testament; own'd and bless'd them in every Age down to our Times, by making them the great In­strument of convincing and converting Sinners, and of building up Believers on their holy Faith. This Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, wherein Christ is reveal'd and doctrinally exhibited as the chief Corner Stone, none could ever remove. It a­bides firm, not withstanding all Attempts of Earth and Hell. Time hath eaten up other Writings, of much later Date; but the Word of God endureth thro' all Generations.

2. This Word of the living and eternal God, is in its Nature and by divine Appointment, an enduring Word.

If God speaks, it must be to purpose: none of his Words shall fail, or fall to the Ground. As God's Word in the Kingdom of Nature and Providence, so his Word in the Kingdom of Grace shall accom­plish his Will. As the Rain cometh down, and the Snow from Heaven, and returneth not thither, but wa­tereth the Earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, & Bread to the eater: So shall my Word be that greth forth out of my Mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, & it shall prosper in the Thing whereto [Page 9] I sent it, Isai. 55. 10, 11. The true and faithful Witness testifyeth, Verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled, Math. 5. 18. And 24th Chap. 35th ver. Heaven & Earth shall pass away, but my Words shall not pass away. God's Word is settled in Heaven upon the sure Founda­tion of his eternal Counsels and Decrees, and shall be fulfill'd on Earth and in Heaven, yea and I may say in Hell too, as God hath ordain'd. Thy Word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righ­teous Judgments endureth for ever, Psal. 119. 160. The Precepts Promises and Threatnings of God's Word shall all have their Accomplishment. And the Prophecies shall all be fulfilled. Indeed there are positive Institutions laid down in God's Word which were temporary, as the Passover, which had its fulfilment in Christ our Passover sacrificed for us. And there will be no further Occasion for the Ad­ministration of the Sacraments of the New Testa­ment, when all God's People shall be admitted to his glorious Presence in Heaven. But then the moral Law is an eternal Rule of Righteousness. The End of the Commandment is Charity, or Love, 1 Tim. 1. 5. The great Scope and End of the divine Law is this, that God's People may be made perfect in the Love of God and their Neighbour, which our Lord teacheth us are the two great and comprehensive Commands of the Law. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets, Math. 22. 37,--40. Now this Love which is the fulfilling of the Law, never faileth, 1 Cor. 13. 8. And in the perfect and perpetual Exercise of this [Page 10] Grace first and principally upon God, and then upon his glorified Creatures, Angels & Men, in sub­ordination to Him, will the Happiness of Heaven very much consist. O that we could begin this Happiness upon Earth! by taking our greatest De­light in the blessed God, and by the Exercise of that Love to Men, of which we have the Descrip­tion, 1 Cor. 13. Charity suffers long, and is kind; envieth not; Charity vaunteth not it self, is not pussed up; doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no Evil, rejoyceth not in Iniquity, but rejoyceth in the Truth: beareth all Things, believeth all Things, hopeth all Things, endureth all Things, Ver. 4, to 7. But to proceed, The Promises of God's Word endure, and shall all be accomplished. They are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus, ratified and confirmed; yea, God willing more abundantly to shew unto the Heirs of Pro­mise the immutability of his Counsel, confirmed it by an Oath: That by two immutable Things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong Consolation who have fled for Refuge to lay hold upon the Hope set before us, Heb. 6. 17, 18. These great and precious Promises shall for ever be fulfil'd in that far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory, which God will bestow on his faithful Peo­ple in the heavenly Places. The Threatnings of God's Word shall also be fulfil'd. The old Ser­pent is ready still to tempt Sinners, as he did the Mother of all living, Ye shall not surely die. But our Lord and Judge assureth us, that these shall go away into everlasting Punishment, Math. 25.46. It's true, God hath no Pleasure in the Death of Sinners, meerly as it is the Destruction of the Works of his Hands. But then that God who is infinite in all divine Perfections, and has made all Things for himself, loveth himself above all, and hath an higher Regard to his own Glory than to the Welfare [Page 11] of his Creatures: Therefore, those miserable Creatures, who stand in Opposition to him and his Glory in the terrible Day of the Lord, must be doom'd to suffer the Pains of eternal Death, and the Smoke of their Torments shall ascend for ever and ever, to the Praise of God's glorious Power Truth and Justice. Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right? I might also say that the Scrip­ture Prophecies shall all be fulfilled. The Vision is yet for an appointed Time, but in the End it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry, Hab. 2. 3.

3. The Word of God, as it is the incorruptible Seed of the new Birth and spiritual Life in God's People, abideth for ever.

And this relative Consideration of the Word seems to be the Truth of this Place. The Verse foregoing is, Being born again, not of corruptible Seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. And then our Text is bro't in thus, For all Flesh is as Grass—. "And no­thing can make him (Man) a solid substantial Be­ing, but the being born again of the incorruptible Seed, the Word of God, which will transform him into a most excellent Creature, whose Glory will not fade like a Flower, but shine like an Angel"*. This Word is the Instrument God useth to beget his People to a new and divine Life, and when accompanied with his Spirit, there's Power and Virtue convey'd by it to quicken dead Souls, and raise them to spiritual and eternal Life . Accor­dingly the Apostle Paul declareth, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the Power of God un­to Salvation, Rom. 1. 16 True Believers are said to be begotten and born of God. Of his own Will [Page 12] begat he us with the Word of Truth, Jam. 1. 18. Which were born, not of Blood, nor of the will of the Flesh, nor of the will of Man, but of God, Joh. 1. 13. And this Work is particularly ascrib'd to the third Person in the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. Except a Man be born of Water and of the Spirit, he cannot en­ter into the Kingdom of God, Joh. 3 5. Ver. 6. That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. We are sav'd by the washing of Regeneration, when we are renew'd by the Holy Ghost in the Spirit of our Minds. And as the divine Author is the Spirit of God, so the Work is spiritual. In this new Birth there are holy Inclinations, and vital Principles of Grace wrought in the Soul. Look upon the Man in a natural or physical Sense, and he is the same Per­son as before Conversion; but in a spiritual Sense, he is a new Creature. 2 Cor. 5. 17. If any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature: old Things are past away, behold, all Things are become new. There's a new Light in the Undestanding to discern spiritual Objects after a spiritual Manner, a new Biass on the Will and Affections, whereby they are turn'd from Sin to God. And such may fitly be said to be born of God; for there's spiritual Life commu­nicated, even a Power of spiritual Perceptions, Operations and Enjoyments; and also spiritual Likeness, it is after the Image of God in Knowlege and Holiness. The new Man, which after God is created in Righteousness and true Holiness, Eph. 4.24. The new Man, which is renewed in Knowledge, after the Image of him that created him, Col 3.10 Furthermore, as God's People are begotten through the Gospel, (1 Cor. 4. 15.) so by the same Word is the Work carried on till the Children of God grow up to the Stature of perfect Men in Christ Jesus. We all with open Face, beholding as in a Glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same Image from [Page 13] Glory to Glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3. 18. While the People of God behold the Glory of the Lord in the clear Glass of the Gospel, they pass on from one Degree of glorious Grace to ano­ther, till Grace is perfected in the beatific Vision. While the outward Man decays, and the Beauties of Flesh and Blood fade, the new Creature shineth more and more to the perfect Day, till the Righ­teous shall shine forth as the Sun, in the Kingdom of their Father, Matth. 13. 43. When the Seed of the Gospel is sown in the Heart, and takes Root there, being mix'd with Faith, and receiv'd in Love; it springs up, and bears Fruit to Life eternal, not a fading Flower, but a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away. This Seed of God remains in the Heart. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit Sin; for his Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God, 1 Joh. 3. 9. The Words can't intend that God's People in this Life have no remains of Sin in them. Scripture and sad Experience testify the contrary. But then they are not workers of Iniquity as before Conver­sion, * and they shall not sin unto Death. No, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath be­gotten such unto a lively Hope, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an Inheritance incor­ruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, 1 Pet. 1. 3, 4. And this Hope shall never make them ashamed. It's true, their Bodies must d e be­cause of Sin; however, as these are also Temples of the Holy Ghost which is in them, so they shall not always lie in Ruins; but God will raise them from the Dead at the last Day, that in Soul and Body united, they may ever be with the Lord. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the [Page 14] dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal Bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, Rom. 8. 11. And we read of the Bodies of God's Children, 1 Cor. 15. 42,--44. It is sown in Corruption, it is raised in In­corruption: it is sown in Dishonour, it is raised in Glory: it is sown in Weakness, it is raised in Power: it is sown a natural Body, it is raised a spiritual Body. A spiritual Body, truly a Body still; but adorned with such perfective Qualities as shall render it a meet Companion to the Soul in all the spiritual Exercises and heavenly Enjoyments the upper World; and raise it above all need of the Supports of the present animal Life, as Food, Sleep, &c. Thus as God's People have born the Image of the earthy, they shall also bear the Image of the hea­venly Adam, that blessed Man, who is the great God our Saviour. For our Conversation is in Hea­ven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile Body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious Body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all Things unto himself, Phil. 3. 20, 1. Nor can it be in any Measure difficult to infinite Knowledge & Power, so to order all Events relating to the Bodies of his People buried in the Earth, or sunk in the Sea, that every one shall have his own Body without the least Confusion. Behold, Life and Immortality brought to Light thro' the Gospel! Behold fallen Man rais'd to a State of consummate Glory and Blessedness, by the Word of God! They which shall be accounted wortby to obtain that World, and the Resurrection from the Dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the Angels, and are the Children of God, being the Children of the Resurrection, Luk. 20 35, 6.

[Page 15]V. This is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you.

We need not inquire, as at a loss about the Way of Life, Who shall ascend into Heaven to bring Christ down from above? No, the Word is nigh us, and this is the Word of Faith which we preach. Sec Rom. 10. 6,--8. The Word delivered by the Prophet Isaiah to God's ancient People; is here confirm'd by the Apostle Peter, The Voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All Flesh is Grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the Flower of the Field. The Grass withereth, the Flower fadeth; be­cause the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the People is Grass. Tbe Grass withereth, the Flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand forever, Isai. 40. 6,--8. The sacred Writings of the Old and New Testament agree in this, to shew vain Man his vile and perishing Condition by the Fall, and the only Way to Glory and Immortality thro' a Redeemer. And the only wise God hath ordain­ed that this Word should be preached unto us by Men like our selves, who are formed out of the Clay, and subject to the same natural and moral Infirmities; that the excellency of the Power may be of God, and that we may give Him the entire Glory of the wonderful Change wrought when Men are born again, not of corruptible Seed, but of in­corruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. But the Time will not allow me to enlarge on this last Head. I therefore proceed to the APPLICATION.

USE I. Behold, and consider,the frailty and vanity of Man in his natural State, and the necessity of the new Birth!

What are we by our first Birth? Dust & Ashes. Frail impotent Creatures, that have deserved to be consumed in the Fire of God's Wrath. What [Page 16] are the Things whereby Men seek a Name upon Earth? Job will tell us. Your Remembrances are like unto Ashes, Job 13. 12. Yea, tho' sinfulMan rise ever so high in worldly Prosperity, yet is he vile and contemptible in the Eyes of that God who is the Fountain of all true Honour and Happiness. Surely thou didst set them in slippery Places; thou castedst them down into Destruction. How are they brought into Desolation, as in a Moment! they are utterly consumed with Terrors. As a Dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest thou shalt despise their Image, Psal. 73.18,--20. Doth not their Excellency go away? Yes surely; and their Glory fadeth like a Leaf. Indeed, if Men attain to the Riches and Honours of this World, they are very prone to flatter themselves as if they had gotten something substantial and enduring; but what say the Oracles of God in opposition to these vain Thoughts? Their inward thought is, that their Houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling Places to all Generations; they call their Lands after their own Names. Nevertheless, Man being in Honour abideth not: he is like the Beasts that perish, Psal. 49.11, 12. O then let us lie down in deep Abasement before the Lord, and cry to him that we may be born again, born from above. We must be made Partakers of the divine Nature in the Image of God restor'd to us, or we shall live in vain, and die without Wisdom.

2. Learn the great Sin and Folly of trusting in an Arm of [...] to the living God.

All Flesh is Grass; and shall we depend on this frail Creature Man? If we do, we trust in a bro­ken Reed, and Provoke the ever living God to blast our Hopes, and sweep away the Refuge of [...]ies. Thus saith the Lord, cursed be the Man that trusteth in Man, and maketh Flesh [...], and whose [Page 17] Heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the Heath in the Desert, and shall not see when Good com­eth, but shall inhabit the parched Places in the Wil­derness, in a salt Land and not inhabited. Blessed is the Man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose Hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a Tree planted by the Waters, and that spreadeth out her Roots by the River, and shall not see when Heat cometh, out her Leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the Year of Drought, neither shall cease from yielding Fruit, Jer. 17 5,--8. Let us then cease from Man whose Breath is in his Nostrils; and trust in the Lord for ever, with whom is everlasting Strength.

3. From what hath been said we may also infer the excellency of God's Word, and how worthy it is of our high esteem and love.

It is call'd, the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, 1 Tim. 1.11. And well may it be so called, seeing it reveals Jesus Christ to lost miserable Man, and the only Way to enduring and substantial Happi­ness. The Glory of the divine Attributes shine forth in the Gospel; and by beholding the Glory of the Lord herein manifested, his People are changed into the same Image from Glory to Glory, as we have heard; that in God's due Time they may be presented before him a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle, or any such Thing, Eph. 5. 27. And herein are we peculiarly favour'd who live under the New Testament Dispensation, in which the Vail of Types and Shadows is done away, and we have the Light of the Knowlege of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, more clearly revealed. The Apostle Paul declareth that this Ministration exceedeth in Glory, 2 Cor. 3. 9. Let us then highly prize the Gospel of Christ, by which Life and Immortality are brought to Light, and Salvation with eternal Glory are made mani [Page 18] fest. Let us take heed how we hear, and give the more earnest Heed to the Things which we have heard; for how shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation? Considering the frailty of this Life, let us wisely and diligently improve all Opportu­nities God affords us for attending to that Word which abideth for ever. In a particular manner, let the Day which the Lord hath made for these holy Purposes, be accounted very precious, and let us never neglect to assemble with God's People for religious Worship. On the Lord's Day, let us wait upon him for the Blessing of his House, even Life for evermore.

4. Doth the Word of the Lord endure for ever; Here is Comfort for God's People under the Changes of this Life; particularly under sorrowful Bereavements.

Are your earthly Enjoyments withering and dy­ing about you? Well, you have a better Life which abideth, and shall be perfected when the Comforts of this Life are all pass'd away. Do you complain with Job, Changes are against me? Or with Heman, Lover and Friend bast thou put far from me, and mine Acquaintance into Darkness, Psal. 88.18. Well, you may say with the Psalmist, The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock: and let the God of my Salvation be exalted, Psal. 18. 46. It is but a frail Life you have lost in this or the other Be­reavement; and we know, that if our earthly House of this Tabernacle were dissolved, we have a Building of God, an House not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens, 2 Cor. 5. 1. Be excited then to look into the Word of God, and realize the glorious and blessed Immortality of the heavenly World, which God's People enter into at Death. Here you sym­pathized with them under their various Infirmities and Sorrows; There the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne, shall seed them, and shall lead them [Page 19] unto living Fountains of Water: and God shall wipe away all Tears from their Eyes, Rev. 7. 17. And the Word of God declareth, that as Jesus died, and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. They shall awake to Ever­lasting Life in the Morning of the Resurrection. Therefore you should not Sorrow as others which have no Hope; but comfort your selves, and one another with these Words. See 1 Thes. 4. In a Word, do your Souls cleave to the Dust under distressing Troubles of a temporal or spiritual Na­ture? beseech the Lord to quicken you according to his Word. Delight in God's Law, and you shall not perish in your Afflictions; but thro' the Pati­ence and Comfort of the Scriptures, you shall have Hope. Thus you may rejoyce in Christ Jesus, while you can have no Confidence in the Flesh. And when your Flesh and Heart shall fail, God will be the Strength of your Heart, and your Por­tion for ever.

5. Let us all, sensible of the frailty of this Life, be earnest with God that we may be born again, not of corruptible Seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God; and then live as the believing Expectants of the Glory to be revealed.

Go to the Father of Lights this Day, and ask that good and perfect Gift, a new Heart. Plead that promise, Ezek. 36 26, 7. A new Heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the Hony Heart out of your Flesh, and I will give you an Heart of Flesh. And I Will put my Spirit within you. And now, put off the old Man which is corrupt according to the de­ceitful Lusts; and be renewed in the Spirit of your Minds; and put on the new Man which after God is created in Righteousness & true Holiness. Eph. 4 22,--24 O let not the everlasting State of your [Page 20] memortal Souls hang in Suspense upon the slender Thread of this frail Life? For what shall it profit a Man if he shall gain the whole World, & lose his own Soul? Or what shall a Man give in exchange for his Soul? Mar 8 36, 7 One Thing is needful; that you fit at Jesus Feet, and hear his Word. O be not so careful and troubled about the Things of this vain Life, as to neglect this! But now choose that good Part which shall not be taken away from you, by taking God's Testimonies as an Heritage forever. Accept of Christ without delay, and submit to him as your Prince and Saviour; for he hath the Keys of Hell and of Death. O be perswaded to give Glory to that God in whose Hand your Breath is, before your Feet stumble upon the dark Mountains, and while you look for Light, He turn it into the Shadow of Death! Turn at God's Reproof, lest you be suddenly destroyed. O that such as are yet in their Sins, might remember the first Day of the Year by this good Token, their beginning to live to God! And may the Children of God have his Work reviv'd in their Souls! For these Ends, let us Pray, Lord, make me to know mine End, and the measure of my Days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am, Psal. 39. 4. So teach us to number our Days, that we may apply our Hearts unto Wisdom, Psal. 90. 12. Men are very prone to put away the evil Day of Death, and so to neglect their Preparation for the eternal World. Let us then more clostly consider the frailty and uncertainty of human Life, & then apply it to ourselves.

It hath been conjectured that there are about three hundred and twenty Millions of People alive on the Earth at one Time; and computed from various Observation, that in Cities about One in Thirty die in a Year. * What vast Numbers then [Page 21] are passing out of this into the invisible World every Day And who can tell, how soon his own turn shall come? It would be nothing strange, if that Message should be brought to us, This Year thou shalt die. It is highly probable, according to the ordi­nary Course of God's Providence, that a Number of us shall be in our Graves before the next Year. And shall we not bring this Matter which so nearly concerns us all, each one of us, home to himself? It may be I am the Man; it may be you, and you, and you. We know not the Day of our Death. This Life may fitly be compar'd to a Lot. Our Days are determined with God; but altogether uncertain as to us. O let each one of us then say, It may be my Lot to die before the next Year. And shall I not make ready for my Lord's coming? Am I prepar'd to obey his Call by resigning my Life to the Lord of it, and by committing my Soul into the saving Hands of Christ? And as our pre­sent Life may rather be reckon'd by Days than Years; let us say after our Saviour, I must work the Works of him that sent me, while it is Day: the Night cometh when no Man can work, Joh. 9 4 And let us all be exhorted to work out our own Salva­tion with fear & trembling; for there is no Work, nor Device, nor Knowlege in the Grave, whither we are going. I design'd to apply these Things in a more particular manner; but must only hint a few Things.

Let Husbands & Wives consider that the Time is short, and live as Heirs together of the Grace of Life, walking in all the Commandments and Or­dinances of the Lord, blameless. O improve your intimate Acquaintance and dear Affection in help­ing each other on in the Way towards Heaven, where the Children of God live and converse toge­ther as the holy Angels. Let Parents seek, first for themselves, and then for their Children, that [Page 22] they may be born again. The Life which they derive from you the Fathers of their Flesh, is very frail and defil'd with Sin; so that unless they ob­tain a better Life, it had been good for them, if they had not been born. O be not so much con­cern'd then to provide for their outward Man, that they may enjoy the Comforts of this Life; but rather travail in Birth again until Christ be formed In them, that they may be prepared for the Life of Heaven. Let the Aged give Diligence that while their outward Man decayeth, the inward Man may be renewed Day by Day Let our young People earnestly seek the New Birth, that you may con­secrate the sprightly Powers and growing Strength of Youth to the Lord of all your Time. O that you may be strong to overcome the evil One, When he tempts you to delay your Conversion to God! Now, that we hope there are many of your Age pressing into the Kingdom of God, O take heed lest you be lest under the Power of Darkness! Seek ye the Lord while he may be sound, call ye upon him while he is near. Do not presume of long Life. We read of the Sun's going down at Noon, Amos 8 9. Yea, the Shadows of Death have reach'd many before the Morning of Life was past, The young Men are dead, Job 1. 19. Make haste to Christ then, lest the Strength of Youth fail before you have laid hold on eternal Life. Let the great Men whose Wealth and outward Glory are increasing, remember that Man being in Honour abideth not, his Glory shall not descend after him. O let not these perishing Things then hinder you from seeking durable Riches and Righteousness in Christ Jesus! Let not the Riches or Cares or Pleasures of this Life choke the Word, that it should become unfruitful. For we are not redeemed from Sin and Death with corruptible Things, as Silver and Gold; but with the precious Blood of Christ. [Page 23] Lastly, Let Christ's Ministers preach the Word, and the People hear it, under the impressive Belief of these important Truths. O consider, you are as Grass; but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever!

To Conclude,

This remarkable Year of forty one may put us in Mind of God's awful Judgments, particularly in the bloody Massacre in Ireland, wherein about Two Hundred Thousand Protestants were accounted as Sheep for the Slaughter by inhumane Butchers, under the Instigation of the Whore of Babylon, whom the Apostle John saw in Vision drunken with the Blood of the Saints, and with the Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, Rev. 17. 6. How were the Peo­ple as Grass in that terrible Day of the Lord! O that Great Britain! O that Ireland would hear the Voice of the Son of God, to whom the Father hath committed all Judgment; Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

[Page 24]And the Year we now enter upon, brings our Affairs to a very difficult Crisis, in which a Sove­reign God writes Vanity on our worldly Glory. Let us then hear the Voice of his Word and Pro­vidence, and be excited to lay up Treasures in Heaven. Let us make sure of the Blessing's of Christ's Kingdom, Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost; that we may be carried well thro' all the Troubles of this Life, and be prepat'd for that Inheritance which is incorruptible, and that fadeth not away.

FINIS.

Page 11. Mar. r. Organum.

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