Dr. Sewall's SERMON ON A Day of Prayer.


GOD's People must Enquire of Him to bestow the Blessings promised in his Word.

A SERMON Preach'd February 26. 1741, 2. On a Day of Prayer observed by the South Church and Congregation in BOSTON, to seek of GOD the more Plentiful Effusion OF His HOLY SPIRIT Upon them and his People.

By Joseph Sewall, D. D. One of the Pastors of said Church.

Luke xi. 9.
Ask, and it shall be given unto you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

BOSTON, Printed by D. FOWLE for D. HENCHMAN in Cornhill. 1742.


GOD will be sought unto for promised Blessings.

EZEKIEL XXXVI. 37.‘Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel, to do it for them.’

THE Prophecies contained in this Chapter may relate to the Deliverance of God's ancient People out of the Babylonish Captivity; but then, they doubtless look further, and may refer to the Calling of the Jews; yea to the flourishing State of the whole Israel of God. Here are temporal, but especially spiritual Blessings promised. And it is said that God would do these great Things for them in Answer to Prayer. God had before put his People in Mind of their own great Unworthiness, and declar'd that he would not do this for their Sakes, but for his holy Name's Sake: However, he would be enquired of by the House of Israel, to do it for them. The Words may imply a Command, that God required his People to seek him for the Accomplishment of these precious Promises. They may also comprehend in them a fur­ther Promise, that God would put it into their Hearts, [Page 6] and incline them thus to enquire after him. The Word here used is observed to signify their seeking and inqui­ring with all Diligence. The Words may also imply that GOD would manifest himself ready to be found of them†.

DOCT. GOD will be enquired of, and sought unto by his People, to bestow the Blessings which he hath pro­mised to them in his Word.

I. GOD hath in his Word promised to bestow all needed Blessings upon his People.

II. GOD will be enquired of and sought unto by his People, to bestow these Blessings upon them.

I. GOD hath in his Word promised to bestow all needed Blessings upon his People.

In the Bible we have the great Charter of God's Covenant People, in which is contained, and confirmed to the Faithful all those blessings, which God is pleas'd of his free Grace, through the Merits of Christ, to con­fer upon them, 2 Pet. 1. 3, 4. According as his di­vine Power hath given unto us [...]. Things that pertain unto Life and Godliness, through the Knowledge of him that hath call'd us to Glory and Virtue: Whereby are given unto [...] exceeding great and precious Promises; that by these you might be Partakers of the divine Nature, having escaped the [...] that is in the World through Lust. That Godliness which is taught and press'd upon us in the Word, is profitable to all Things, having Promise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come. But the Design of our present Meeting leads me to speak of spiritual Blessings, which if we obtain, other Things shall [Page 7] be added, so far as God shall see these to be truly Good for his People. And here, I would consider some of the spiritual Blessings which are promised to God's People in this Chapter, for which God declareth he will he en­quired of.—Ver. 25. Then will I sprinkle clean Water upon you, and ye shall be clean.—God here assureth his People that by his Word and Spirit, He would apply the Virtues of the Blood of Jesus, that Blood of Sprink­ling, to wash them from the Guilt and Defilements of Sin. The Blood of Christ the then promised Messiah, is the Blood of Atonement, and it cleanseth from all Sin. ver. 26. A new Heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take the stony Heart out of your Flesh, and I will give you an Heart of Flesh. God here promiseth that he would savingly con­vert them, and form in them a new Frame, and excel­lent Disposition in spiritual qualities: He would renew his Image upon them in Knowledge, Righteousness and Holiness. Thus they should be made new Creatures in a spiritual Sense; old Things should pass away, and all Things become new. God promiseth also to take away the stony Heart which was hard and insensible, and re­fus'd to yield to good Impressions. And in Opposition to that evil Heart, God would give a soft and tender Heart which like living Flesh is quick and sensible, and ready to yield to the living Soul that animates it. In like Manner God's People being quickned and governed by the Spirit, should be ready to receive Impressions from him. Agreeably it follows 27 Ver. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in his Statutes, and ye shall keep my Judgments, and do them. God would not only send his Spirit to strive with them; but he would effectually bestow him upon them, and send him to dwell in their Hearts by his saving Operations as a renewing sanctifying and comforting Spirit, by whom God commu­nicateth all spiritual Blessings to his People. And to crown all, God says 28 Ver. And ye shall dwell in the Land [Page 8] that I gave to your Fathers, and ye shall be my People, and I will be your God. God would enable them to discharge the Duties of their Covenant-Relation to him, and he would fulfil his Part in giving them the sure Mercies of the new Covenant; he would bless them as their Cove­nant God with all spiritual Blessings in heavenly Things in Christ Jesus. This then is all our Salvation, and should be all our Desire, even to inherit the great and good Things contained in the Promises.

II. I proceed to shew that God will be enquired of, and sought unto hy his People, to bestow these promised Blessings upon them.

We may under this Head speak to the following Things. 1. What's implied in our inquiring of God and seeking him for the Blessings promised in his Word. 2. How and after what Manner should we attend this Duty? 3. We may consider our Obligations thus to enquire of the Lord.

I. What is implied in our inquiring of God to bestow these promised Blessings upon us?

A. In general, That in the Ways of God's Appointment we seek these Blessings, and wait upon God for them.

More particularly,

1. It supposeth a realising Apprehension of our Need of these Blessings, and that God alone is able to bestow them.

Men will not be solicitous to enquire after that which they imagine they have in Hand, or do not need. When therefore the Laodiceans presum'd that they were rich, and had Need of nothing; our Saviour first declared to them, that they were upon spiritual Accounts wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and then counsels them to come to him for Gold tried in the Fire,—Rev. 3. 17, 18. If we are not sensible of our spiritual Maladies; we shall not seek after God to cleanse and heal [Page 9] our Souls. If we are not sensible how we are become guilty before God, and obnoxious to his Wrath and Curse as Transgressors of the Law; we shall not with any due Concern enquire after Christ, and seek an Interest in him as the Lord our Righteousness: If we are not sensible of our being empty of Grace, and of our Need of it; we shall never go to God by Jesus Christ, that of his Fulness we may receive and Grace for Grace. Unless we see and feel our Need of the gracious Influences of the Spirit to renew us, and change our Hearts; we shall not in a due Manner ask this great Gift of God. In a Word, We must behold God as the God of all Grace, and Father of Mercies in Christ Jesus; or we shall not leave our broken Cisterns to go to him as the Fountain of living Waters, for all needed Supplies. Agreeably when God was about to invite his People to return to him as their only Saviour, he says to them, Hosea 13. 9. O Israel thou hast destroyed thy self, but in me is thine Help.

2. It intends that we Value and Desire these Blessings as the best Things.

In Order to our searching after any Blessing, we must have a due Value for it, and Desires after it excited in us. Prov. 18. 1. Through Desire a Man having separa­ted himself, seeketh and intermedleth with all Wisdom. Would we then enquire of God concerning spiritual Blessings? We must count them to be the most excellent Things, & accordingly search for them as for hid Treasures. We must esteem the Promises to be exceeding great and precious, and earnestly desire the good contained in them. We must open our Mouths wide, enlarge our Desires, that we may be filled. Thus do we seek the Lord as our God? We must thirst for him. Psalm 63. 1 —3. O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my Soul thirsteth for thee, my Flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty Land, where no Water is: To see thy Power and thy Glory, so as I have seen thee in the Sanctuary. Because thy loving Kindness is better than Life. We must count [Page 10] all Things but Loss for the Excellency of the Knowlege of Jesus Christ, and that we may be found in him; or we shall not seek him in a right Manner. And as the Gift of the Holy Spirit virtually contains all spiritual Blessings, we must value and desire this above all temporal good Things. That Invitation is made to such. Isa. 55. 1. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the Waters, and he that hath no Money; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy Wine and Milk without Money, and without Price. And the Pro­mise is indeed made to them, Matth. 5. 6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after Righteousness: for they shall be filled. And without this Value for and Desire after spiritual Blessings, we shall never seek first the Kingdom of God.

3. These Desires after promised Blessings must be made known to God in fervent Prayer.

And this seems to be in an especial Manner intended when it is said, For this, I will be enquired of.—We read of seeking God, and enquiring early after him. Psa. 78. 34. Doth God then say to us seek ye my Face? Our Hearts should answer, thy Face Lord, we will seek. Doth God in these Promises declare that he is ready to communicate the best of Blessings to his People? We must then put them in Suit, and plead them with him. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. God is pleased to manifest himself to us in his Word and by his Providence, as the God who heareth Prayer; and he doth great Things for his People in Answer to their Prayers. Accordingly our Lord says to us, Luke 11. 9. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. We must then by Prayer make our Requests known to God in the Name of Jesus Christ, and thus enquire of the Lord, concerning the Fulfilment of his Promises: These are not given to supersede, but to encourage our Prayers. Ver. 36. Context. I the Lord will do it. I will yet for this be enquired of.—Prayer is one of the Means [Page 11] of Grace which God would have his People use continu­ally in their Closets, in their Families, and in the Places of their publick Worship; that he may bless them as their Covenant-God with all spiritual Blessings. And in our Attendance on this great Duty, we must approve our selves the true Seed of Jacob who wrest­led with the Angel of the Covenant, the Son of God in humble Importunity, refusing to let him go until he had blessed him. Then we shall find that good Word ful­fil'd to us. Isai. 45. 19. I said not unto the Seed of Ja­cob, Seek ye me in vain.

4. Enquiring of the Lord may intend that we consult the Word of God as to the Way and Manner of our seeking the Lord.

The Scriptures are call'd the Oracles of God. Rom. 3. 2. They are of infallible Truth, and given for our Instruction in Righteousness, that we may be furnished unto all good Works. And therefore we must consult these lively Oracles, if we would enquire of God in a right Manner concerning the Bestowment of promised Blessings. We must search the Scriptures that we may know these Promises, and how we may obtain a Title to them. This is needful that we may seek the Lord so as to find him, and Life in the Light of his Countenance. John 5. 14. And this is the Confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any Thing according to his Will, he hear­eth us. The Will of God then revealed in his Word must be our Rule and Directory, while we thus enquire of the Lord. Thus, are we seeking temporal good Things? we must observe God's Word as to the Manner of atten­ding this Duty, and not seek them absolutely as the best Things; but only so far as may be for the Glory of God, and consistent with our eternal Welfare. But then, when we are seeking spiritual Blessings, as at this Day; We must seek these with our whole Hearts as of absolute Necessity in Order to our glorifying God in this Life, and preparing to enjoy him in Heaven. Matth. 6. 33. [Page 12] Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness, and all other Things shall be added unto you. Here our All lies at Stake, and we must accordingly seek the more ear­nestly. While the many and mighty of this World en­quire, Who will shew us good? Our great Petition must be, Lord, lift thou up the Light of thy Countenance upon us. Now we must lie down at the Foot of sovereign Grace, and say, with the deepest Humility; Lord, I can't bear a Denial. For we ought not to be willing to perish in that Place of Torments where the damned curse God, and die forever. Nor shall we ever be thus mise­rable, if we seek the Grace of God in Christ, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, in the first and chief Place, with longing Desires that can't be satisfied without them.

5. It intends that we wait upon God in the Use of those Means which he hath appointed for our obtaining the spiri­tual Blessings contain'd in the Promises.

To seek this or the other Good, without looking up to God for it, is profane. And for Men to sit still, and say, Lord help! without using the Means God hath ordain'd; this is presumptuous, and to tempt the Lord. While we therefore pray to God to heal our spiritual Maladies, and fill us with his Grace; we must also be found in the di­ligent Use of all other Means. We must attend to read­ing, and take Heed how we hear the Word of God. We must meditate on divine Things; consider their Reality, Importance and Excellency, that we may be quickned to the more earnest Pursuit of them. In a Word, We must wait upon God in all Ways of Duty, that we may receive his Spirit, and so his Blessing. We must strive to enter in at the strait Gate, and then to walk in that narrow Way which leads to everlasting Life.

II. How and after what Manner should God's People enquire of him to bestow promised Blessings upon them?

A. 1 In the Exercise of Faith on God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Heb. 11. 6. Without Faith it is impossible [Page 13] to please him: For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We must by Faith which is the Evidence of Things not seen, behold that God who is invisible, and realise his divine Perfections as manifested in his Word; his Knowledge, Wisdom, Power, Goodness, Mercy, Truth, Holiness, &c. And then we must remember there is one Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus; through whom we have Access unto the Fa­ther. Accordingly we must believe in God and believe also in Jesus Christ, that through him our Faith and Hope may be in God. Out of Christ God is a consuming Fire to the apostate Children of fallen Adam; in him God is the Father of Mercies, and blesseth his People with all spiritual Blessings. We must therefore look to Jesus as the Propitiation for our Sins, and our Advocate with the Fa­ther, in our Approaches to God. Our Dependance must be on the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Christ, when we ask of God the Blessings promised in his Word. We must make Mention of his worthy Name before the Lord, and rely upon it as the only Name, in which we can prevail. John 14.13, 14. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any Thing in my Name, I will do it. All the Promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, they are all confirmed as true and certain; and we must accordingly place our Trust and Confidence in him. As our Lord Jesus was obedient unto Death that he might purchase all saving Blessings for his People; so he ever lives in Heaven to make Intercession, and offer the Prayers of the Saints with much Incense, Rev. 8. 3, 4. And the Prayers of his People being thus recommended, re­ceive an Answer of Peace.

2. We must attend this Duty with an abasing Sense of our own great Unworthiness, and penitent Confession of our Sins.

[Page 14]In this Respect we should imitate the Father of the Faithful in his pleading for Sodom. Gen. 18. 27. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but Dust and Ashes. He acknowledgeth before the most high God that he was formed out of the Dust, and had deserved to be consumed in the Fire of God's Wrath for his own Ini­quities. And thus must we lie down in the Dust before the Lord, when we come to ask the best of Blessings; and confess with Jacob, that we are not worthy of the least of all God's Mercies. We must abhor the Self-Conceit of the proud Pharisee, who had the vain Confi­dence to plead his religious Performances, as if he had made God a Debtor to him by them: And rather with the abased Publican, say, Lord, be merciful to me a Sinner: For every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. Luke 18. 14. God resisteth the Proud, but giveth Grace to the hum­ble. We must then humble ourselves before God under a deep Sense of our spiritual Poverty, and be willing to re­ceive these Blessings, as the Gifts of free Grace; if we would receive them at all, from that God who hath Mercy on whom he will have Mercy. In this Sense we may expect that Word shall be fulfilled, Luke 1. 53. He hath filled the Hungry with good Things, and the Rich he hath sent empty away. And then, there must be a penitent Confes­sion of Sin whereby we have forfeited our Lives, and all our Enjoyments into God's Hand. Now we must say with Daniel when he sat his Face to seek the Lord by Prayer. 9. Chapter 5. Verse. We have sinned and com­mitted Iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy Precepts, and from thy Judg­ments. 7. V. O Lord, Righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us Confusion of Faces, as at this Day. We must mourn with the godly Sorrow which worketh Repentance, upon the Account of our Transgressions, whereby we have grieved the good Spirit of God, and provoked him to [Page 15] depart from us. We must with our Prayers offer to God this Day the Sacrifice of a broken Spirit; for a broken and contrite Heart, God will not despise. Thus shall we be prepared to receive the strong Consolations contained in the Promises. Matth. 5. 4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. In this Manner did God's ancient People seek the Lord, and the Pro­phecy may look forward even to Gospel Times. Jer. 50. 4, 5. In those Days, and in that Time, saith the Lord, the Children of Israel shall come, they and the Children of Ju­dah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the Way to Zion with their Faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join our selves to the Lord, in a perpetual Covenant that shall not be for­gotten.

3. We must attend this Duty with holy Importunity, and persevering Diligence.

We must heartily and earnestly engage in this Duty, sensible of the great Excellency and Importance of spiri­tual Blessings. Jam. 5. 16. The effectual fervent Prayer of a righteous Man availeth much. Thus Elias a Man subject to like Passions as we are, prayed earnestly, and God answered him both by with-holding and giving Rain. May we seek the Lord with like Fervency, 'till he come, and rain Righteousness upon us! Our Saviour spake a Parable to this end, that Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18. 1. And we have a most encour­aging Example to this Purpose in the Woman of Canaan. Matth. 15. 22—28. She cried to our Saviour with Regard to her Daughter vexed with a Devil, Have Mer­cy, on me, O Lord! Our Lord appeared to be deaf to her Cries, He answered not a Word. Then his Disciples besought him to send her away. And our Lord said, I am not sent but unto the lost Sheep of the House of Israel. Notwithstanding this, she came and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. Our Lord seems then not only to give her another Repulse, but to deny her Request with [Page 16] Disdain: It is not meet to take the Children's Bread, and cast it to Dogs. Carnal Reason would have concluded that this poor Woman had enough now to have over­whelmed her with Despair of ever finding Relief; but behold! her persevering Importunity riseth and groweth stronger under these Pressures, and she makes a Plea of this Answer in which our Lord seemed to re­proach her as a Dog; Truth Lord: yet, the Dogs eat of the Crumbs which fall from their Master's Table. And then our Saviour's Answer is most gracious, and full of ten­der Mercy. V. 28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O Woman, great is thy Faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her Daughter was made whole from that very Hour. And now wheresoever the Gospel is preached, the humble, and yet brave and bold Importunity of this Woman is told for a Memorial of her, and for our En­couragement in Prayer. Let us as true Israelites go, and do likewise; and we shall have Power with God, and prevail. Let us pray always with all Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit, watching thereunto with all Perseverance.

4. We must attend this Duty with thankful Acknowledg­ment of Blessings received.

When God is pleased to draw nigh to us in a Way of Grace and Favour, and to give spiritual Blessings with a liberal Hand; we must bless his glorious Name which is exalted above all Blessing and Praise. Psalm 13. 6. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. In an especial Manner should we praise the Lord for that unspeakable Gift of his only begotten Son, and for the great and comprehensive Gift of the Holy Ghost, by whom Application is made of the Redemption purcha­sed by Jesus Christ. We should bless God for the won­derful Effusions of his Spirit in the first Times of Christi­anity, whereby miraculous Gifts needful for the first Propagation of the Gospel, and abundant Grace were com­municated: And we ought also to praise the Lord that [Page 17] He has not left us without a Witness of his divine Power and Grace in the wonderful Operations of his Spirit in our Times. We are bound in Duty and Gra­titude to obey that Word. Philip. 4. 6. Be careful for nothing; but in every Thing by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made known unto God. While God's People enquire of him concerning the Bestowment of promised Blessings, they must not forget to give Thanks.

Let the redeemed of the Lord then devoutly say, Bles­sed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual Blessings in heavenly Places in Christ.

III. We proceed to shew the Obligations which lie upon God's People thus to enquire of the Lord for the Bestow­ment of spiritual Blessings.

1. In this Way God's People must glorify him as the Author of all spiritual Blessings.

God appears in his Glory when he giveth spiritual Blessings to his People. In the Works of his Spirit on the Hearts of Men his glorious Power, Wisdom, Good­ness. Truth, Holiness, Grace and Mercy are displayed. We must pray then that God would in this Way shew us his Glory, and proclaim his Name before us. And thus must we give him Glory as the Father of Lights from whom cometh down every good Gift, and every perfect Gift; and adore him as the God of Salvation. When we thus enquire of the Lord we acknowledge that who­ever are the Instruments, the Excellency of the Power whereby Sinners are converted, must be of God. Thus we give Glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, as to the Father of Mercies; to the Son of God as exalted to be a Prince and Saviour, and as having receiv­ed Gifts for Men; to the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier and Comforter of his People.

[Page 18]2. We must attend this Duty in Obedience to the Will of God declared in his Word

Our Lord says to his People, I will for this be enquired of by the House of Israel. God commands his People to pray alway, with all Prayer. And in his Word declareth that we must wait on him in the Ways of his Appoint­ment, that we may receive spiritual Blessings, and that abundantly. Isai. 55. 1—3. Ho, every one that thirst­eth, come to the Waters, and he that hath no Money; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy Wine and Milk without Money, and without Price. Wherefore do ye spend your Money for that which is not Bread? and your Labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your Soul delight itself in Fatness. Incline your Ear, and come unto me: bear, and your Soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure Mercies of David. And the Commandment is given with a gracious Promise annexed to it. Matth. 7. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

3. It is our Duty in this Way to declare our high Esteem for the Blessings contained in the Promises, and to express our longing Desires after them.

We must thus acknowledge that the Promises are ex­ceeding great and precious, and reach after the Accom­plishment of them. Prov. 4. 7. Wisdom is the principal Thing, therefore get Wisdom: and with all thy getting get Understanding.

4. We stand in absolute Need of these Blessings that we may glorify God upon Earth, and prepare to enjoy him forever in Heaven.

Now this is the chief End of Man, the great Errand upon which God hath sent us into the World. And un­less we mind this one Thing needful, we live in vain, and shall die without Wisdom; yea must perish in Hell forever. Alas! We are all fallen short of the Glory of [Page 19] God as Children of apostate Adam, and unless it please God by his Holy Spirit to form us to shew forth his Praise, we shall become Vessels of Wrath fitted to Destruction. Unless the Means of Grace are accompanied with the divine Spirit and Blessing, they will be the Savour of Death unto Death. We shall be like that Ground which bear­eth Thorns and Briers; and so is nigh to cursing, whose End is to be burned. But if we receive this Blessing from God, we shall bear that Fruit whereby our heavenly Fa­ther is glorified.

And thus shall we enjoy the Blessings of the King­dom of Grace in this World, Righteousness and Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost; and be prepared for the Kingdom of Glory.


Let us now apply these Things to the Work and Duties of this Day.

We are assembled to ask of God the plentiful Effusi­ons of his Spirit upon his People, more particularly of the Flock who usually worship God in this Place; and to bless his Name for spiritual Blessings already received in the remarkable Revival of his Work among us, and in many other Towns. We are also met together to in­treat the Lord that he would preserve us and his People from every Thing that hath a Tendency to quench his Spirit, and obstruct the Progress and Success of his good Work; that it may go on and prosper, till the whole Land shall be filled with the blessed Fruits of the Spirit. An important Errand indeed! O that there was a Spi­rit in us to cry mightily to God for this great Blessing; while we humble our selves before the Lord for our past Unfruitfulness, and all those Sins whereby we have grie­ved the Spirit of God! We have formerly once and again observed such Days of Prayer to seek the Lord for spiritual Blessings, the comprehensive Sum of which is the [Page 20] Gift of the Holy Ghost. And may we not hope that God is now giving a gracious Answer to the Supplications which have in this Way been offered to him in Years past? And ought not this to encourage us now to pray the more earnestly? Yes surely. We wait for thy Sal­vation, O Lord, who hast received Gifts for Men, even for the rebellious; and art pleased to say unto us, If ye, being evil know how to give good Gifts unto your Children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Spirit to them that ask him? Let us then with an high Esteem of these spiritual Blessings, lift up our Hearts with our Hands to God this Day that he would bless us indeed; Bless us with the more abundant Effusions of his Spirit, to convince us more and more of Sin, that Sinners prick­ed to the Heart may say, What shall we do? to convert us, that many may be born from above, and so enter in­to the Kingdom of God; to carry on his Work in his Children, that they may grow in Grace, and in the Know­ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and to comfort the Mour­ners in Zion, that they may rejoice together in the Sal­vation of God. And let us then all unite in our diligent and prudent Endeavours to promote this Work, each one keeping within his own Line. Let the Ministers of our Lord Jesus Christ give themselves continually to Prayer, and to the Ministry of the Word; that by you God may delight to give his People the Fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel, which is the Ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3. 8. Let us in the Way of Duty wait upon God that we may be strengthned with all Might, by the Spirit. For who is sufficient for these Things? Brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free Course, and be glorified. Let us seek the promised Presence of our ascended Saviour, and in the Way of Study and painful Labour depend on him for all that Ability and Skill we need to make us wise to win Souls, and lead them unto Christ. And let us unite our Endeavours in this great and difficult Work, as Fellow-Helpers to the [Page 21] Truth; that we may promote each other's Usefulness in the right Improvement of those Gifts which our glo­rious Head has in various Kinds and Degrees communi­cated to us for the Edification of his Body, the Church. And let the Success which God hath of late given to the Ministry of the Word above what we have known in Times past, animate us to labour more abundantly. Blessed are they that sow beside all Waters, when the Spirit is poured from on high. Certainly, it will be an abundant Recompence for all our Pains, if God's Peo­ple may be our Crown of Joy in the Day of the Lord. I mention these Things in Humility, as one sensible of my own great Defects in the Work of the Mini­stry.

Again, Let these Churches hear what the Spirit saith to them in his Word, and by his Works of Grace. Walk together in the Faith and Order of the Gospel. Obey that Word, of our Lord. Rev. 2. 5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first Works. O that our religious Assemblies might be as fruitful Fields which the Lord hath blessed, in which the good Seed of the Word plentifully sown, shall take Root, spring up, and bear Fruit an hundred Fold! The Lord multiply the Seed sown, and increase the Fruits of your Righteousness.

Again, Let our Honoured Rulers be intreated to give an helping Hand to this Work by your Example and Influence, and by your Authority. God hath put Ho­nour upon you; Do you then honour him by leading in the great and necessary Work of a general Reformation. Be not a Terror to good Works, but to the evil. In vain shall we boast of the Christian Name, if the great Things of the Moral Law are counted as a strange Thing among us. Let Judgment run down as Waters, and Righteousness as a mighty Stream. Furthermore,

Let Heads of Families be exhorted to encourage the Work of God by their Prayers, by their Example and [Page 22] Authority in their Houses. That God who sets the Solitary in Families, and builds the House; has com­mitted this important Trust to you with a solemn Charge to bring up your Children and all under your Care, in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. You must therefore take up Joshua's Resolution. 24th Chap. 15. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord. When God promiseth to pour out the Spirit of Grace and Sup­plication upon the House of David, and Inhabitants of Jerusalem; it is said, that they should look to him whom they had pierced and mourn; yea, that the Land should mourn, every Family apart—Zech. 12. 10—13. And then follows the most gracious Promise of God's open­ing a Fountain to the House of David, and the Inha­bitants of Jerusalem, to wash away their Sins. Chap 13. Let Heads of Families then call upon the Name of the Lord in their Houses, that he may pour out his Spirit on them, and so bless them in Christ Jesus, in whom all the Families of the Earth are blessed. Imitate King David, who after he had worshipped God with his Peo­ple, returned to bless his Houshold. 2 Sam. 6. 20. Let our Family-Prayer be in the Morning set before God as Incense, and the offering up of our Hands as the Evening Sacrifice. Lest that dreadful Curse fall upon us and our Houses. Jer. 10.25. Pour out thy Fury upon the Hea­then that know thee not, and upon the Families that call not on thy Name. And let us all walk before God in our Houses with a perfect Heart, and in a perfect Way, saying with the Psalmist, O when wilt thou come unto me? And then, call upon all under your Roofs to seek and serve the Lord. Travail in Birth again with your Children, till they are born of the Spirit, and so have Christ formed in them. And use your best Endeavours that your Servants may become the Children of God, and Heirs according to the Promise, by Faith in Jesus Christ. Let your Children and Servants have Leave to attend the Means of Grace as there may be Opportu­nity, [Page 23] and the Business of your Families will allow of it. And in an especial Manner Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy in your Dwellings; for the Lord has blessed this Day, and hallowed it to be a Day of commu­nicating spiritual Blessings to his People. O wait upon God with your Houses on the Lord's Day, and labour for the Meat which endureth to everlasting Life! And on others Days, abide with God in a diligent Attendance upon your particular Calling. Do your own Business, and let there be no just Occasion for that Complaint. 2 Thess. 3. 11. We hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are Busie-bodies. The great Evil, of neglecting our own Affairs and med­ling with those Things which do not belong to us, is both the Parent and Nurse of many shameful Vices that have a Tendency to dishonour God, and grieve his Holy Spirit.

Again, Let our Children and young People go to God for the great Blessings promised in the Gospel. Thirst after these living Waters, and plead that Promise with God. Isai. 44. 3. I will pour Water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry Ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy Seed, and my Blessing upon thine Offspring. Hear the Wisdom of God speaking to you, Prov. 8. 17. I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me. Hear the Son of God, the essential and eternal Wisdom, Matth. 6. 33. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness, and all these Things shall be added unto you. And to awaken you, Consider how many of your Age and Time will rise up in Judgment and con­demn you, if you go on walking in the Ways of your Heart, and in the Sight of your Eyes, in this remarkable Day of Grace. Consider how dreadful it will be for you to be left behind to perish in your Sins, when others are taken. And look diligently least any of you should fail of the Grace of God, Least there be a profane Per­son as Esau, who for one Morsel of Meat sold his Birth­right; [Page 24] and afterward when he would have inherited the Blessing, he was rejected. But I hope better Things of many of you, our dear Children. May you imitate Jacob in his holy Importunity, and bear away the Blessing.

Or are there any grown old in Years, and yet standing as barren Trees in God's Vineyard? Have you stood more than ten Times three Years under the Means of Grace, and yet remain dead in Trespasses and Sins? Hear that Word, and tremble. Matth. 3. 10. The Ax is laid unto the Root of the Trees: Therefore every Tree that bringeth not forth good Fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the Fire. Admire the Patience of God, and despise not the Riches of his Goodness, and Long-suffering; not knowing that the Goodness of God leadeth thee to Repentance. O take Heed least after your Hardness and impenitent Heart, you treasure up Wrath against the Day of Wrath! O be sensible of the deep Corruption of your Hearts which have resisted all the Means God has for so long Time used with you, and cry to God for the inward and effectual Call of his Spirit; that you may be born again, even when you are old; and that in you Christ may shew forth all Long-suffering, for a Pattern to them which shall here­after believe on him to Life everlasting. O remember, it will be a most dreadful Thing to go down to Hell after a long and clear Day of Gospel Grace. To such is re­serv'd the Blackness of Darkness forever. Do not then grieve and vex the Holy Spirit any longer, but attend to what he says in his Word, To Day if ye will hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts.

Again, Let such as are under the Convictions of the Spirit, seek a saving Conversion unto God. O beware of quenching the Spirit! Now strive to enter in at the strait Gate; press into the Kingdom of God. Are you made sensible of the Plague of your own Hearts? Pray to God, to heal your Souls. Plead that Promise, I will take away the stony Heart out of your Flesh. Do not [Page 25] And while you continue in the diligent Use of the Means of Grace, beware of depending on religious Duties, and outward Reformations. Go weary and heavy laden to Christ, that in him you may find Rest. The Lord draw you to him, the Lord make you willing in the Day of his Power!

Or have any obtained Joy in believing. Adore that God who has Mercy on whom he will have Mercy; and say, not unto us 0 Lord, not unto us; but to thy Name give Glory. Rejoice with holy Fear, and great Humility.

And here give me Leave to say, If any of you have been pressed down under uncommon Degrees of Terror, and then been raised with proportionable Joys; look to it that the Foundation of your Joy be laid in a graciously broken Heart, and a sincere Closing with Jesus Christ upon Gospel-Terms; and then, that it be followed with a close humble Walk with God, and with Fruits meet for Repentance.

As for the Out-cries, Tremblings, and Faintings which have been experienced in some Places, I apprehend the Cause must be judged of by the Effect. We may not limit the Holy One. The Jailor came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.—They who heard Peter's Sermon were pricked in their Heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and Brethren, what shall we do? Acts 2. 37. A wounded Spirit who can bear? If such Persons therefore have an holy Awe of God, a deep Humiliation under the Sense of Sin, and ear­nest Concern about Deliverance from it; here is the Finger of God. And if it shall please God to impress such a Sense of Sin, and of his Wrath on Men, that they are forced to cry out under it; they are to be pitied, and proper Means used for their Relief; and not to be cen­sured as mad and out-ragious. But then, if any would indulge themselves in these Out-cries, especially in Time of publick Worship, when there is no real Necessity for it, and they might restrain themselves; I think they [Page 26] are disorderly, and do that which has a Tendency to dis­turb the quiet attentive hearing of God's Word. Nor may we make a Judgment of a Work whether genuine or no, meerly by such extraordinary Commotions. For there have been Tremblings which have not proceeded from the Spirit of Truth and Holiness. Let us not then presume to confine the free Spirit of God, but regard the Substance of the Work itself. I make no Doubt but that in our Congregations many have been deeply wounded for Sin without these Out-cries, and that the Convictions have in considerable Numbers issued in a saving Cover­sion to God. Nor can I suppose that it is the Duty of Ministers to try to excite these Schreamings; but rather to set the Terrors of the Law and gracious Invitations of the Gospel before Men in the most powerful Manner they are able; and than leave it to the only wise God to take his own Way, who can if he pleaseth order these Things to the Awakning of others; as we are informed has been the Case, in some other Places. Let not such then as have not felt this Degree of Terror, judge them that have; and let not such as have been thus wrought upon, judge them that have not: But let both prove their own Work, and examine by the Word of God whether the Fruits of the Spirit are found in them, such as Repentance towards God, and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; Love to God, and our Neighbour, Meekness, Humility, and the like. If upon an impartial Trial you find these Things in you, you will have rejoicing in yourselves, and not in another. And let not any who have been made sensible of their perishing Condition, and then enabled to submit to Christ as their only Saviour, deny the Work of Grace God has wrought in them because they have not felt such a Degree of Terror, and then such rapturous Joys as others may have experienced. But rather be encou­raged to wait upon God in the Way of Duty for the Ass­urance and Joy of Faith. And let not your Eye be evil, because God is good. May not God do what he will [Page 27] with his own? Do not then behave as the elder Son in the Parable, who was angry upon the Account of the Joy expressed in his Father's House, when his Prodigal Bro­ther returned a true Penitent. There is Joy in Heaven over the Sinner that repenteth; and there must be just Occasion for Joy upon Earth, when the Dead are thus made alive, and the lost are found.

Again, As to those extraordinary Appearances in Trances, and the Things uttered by Persons that have fallen under them; No Stress may be laid on these Things to determine the present or future State of Men. Secret Things belong to God. His Word is given us for our Rule. To the Law, and to the Testimony.

Again, Let not new Converts imagine that they are called and qualified to be Teachers of God's Word. Are all Pro­phets? Are all Teachers? 1 Cor. 12. 29. No cer­tainly, our ascended Saviour has appointed the Gospel-Ministry, and given to his Church Pastors and Teachers. Nor may any take upon them this Office, who are not called to it according to the Order appointed in God's Word. Let your Zeal then be expressed according to Knowledge, and sound Judgment. It is granted, you may out of the Abundance of your Hearts utter the Praises of the great God your Saviour, and with Humility declare what he hath done for your Souls, in proper Time and Place; and edify one another by Christian Conference, and the like. But then, there's a great Difference be­tween this, and setting up for Teachers. And I am per­suaded that the natural Tendency of this, however God may over-rule it, is to introduce Disorder, and to bring the Gospel Ministry into Contempt: as if there needed no Study, Gifts and Learning to qualify Men for this dif­ficult and important Office. The Apostle's Rule is that. 1 Tim. 3. 6. Not a Novice, least being lifted up with Pride, he fall into the Condemnation of the Devil.

[Page 28]Again, Let the more private Meetings of Christians be en­couraged, & well regulated. Exercise your selves in such Du­ties as are proper for you, and let good Hours be observed, that Family-Religion and Closet-Piety may have their due Proportion of Time. Solomon observeth, that to every Thing there is a Season; and that God has made every Thing beautiful in his Time. Eccl. 3. 1 —11. Accor­dingly, that Duty is like to be performed in the best Man­ner, which is done seasonably. There's a Time for pub­lick Worship, a Time for Family and Closet Devotion, and a Time for our needful Rest in the Night, that being refreshed with Sleep, we may be prepared for the Business of the Day, when Man goeth forth to his Labour. And if for Want of a due Regard to these Seasons, our Families should suffer in their Spiritual or Temporal Interests, the God of Order will be displeased with us. I am not now speaking of this or the other extraordinary Case, the Apostle Paul continued his Speech until Midnight, being to depart on the Morrow: But of the or­dinary Practise of Christians in their more private Meet­ings. In a Word, Let all Things be done decently, and in Order.

Again, Avoid all rash judging and censuring one another, as Hypocrites and unconverted. For our Lord hath said, Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matth. 7. 1. Indeed the Tree is to be known by its Fruits. And we ought to exercise such a Judgment of Discretion and Charity towards our Neighbour, as to watch over him, and keep our selves pure. But then to pronounce concerning Per­sons professing Godliness, without Heresy or moral Scan­dal openly inconsistent with such a Profession, that they are Hypocrites and Pharisees; this is a bold Invasion of God's Prerogative, who searcheth the Heart; and says to us, Judge nothing before the Time. And for any to utter such Censures is a great Injury, and Breach of Christian Charity. And this Sin is aggravated, when such Censures are passed on Men of publick Character, [Page 29] particularly on the Ministers of the Gospel; for hereby not only is their personal Character wounded; but also, their publick Usefulness may be obstructed. Let us then avoid this Evil. Rom. 14. 10. Why dost thou judge thy Brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy Brother? for we shall all stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ. This is not the Way to reclaim Men; but rather to exasperate them, and stir up that Contention which leads to Confusion, and every evil Work.

In a Word, Let us be zealous for God, and good Wories; and at the same Time beware of the dangerous Extreaty of Enthusiasm.

And thus I have taken Liberty to touch upon several Things which I apprehend worthy of our serious Consi­deration under the present Circumstances, if we would avoid giving the great Adversary Advantage to blemish God's Work; and if we would stop the Mouths of Gainsayers. May we resist the Devil, not being igno­rant of his Devices! May we, in this critical Conjunc­ture, walk circumspectly, not as Fools, but as Wise! It is my Judgment that the prudent Regulation of our religious [...], is of great Moment in order to our defending and preserving the Work of God, as we are unworthy Instruments in his Hand. And this is what I have sincerely design'd and endeavour'd in the present Discourse, & not to reproach any Person whatso­ever, or to discourage any good Work. Let not any then pervert what hath been said to prejudice themselves or others against that wonderful Work of Grace, which I verily believe, God has wrought in this Town, and other Places. It is no strange Thing if [...] Men are charge­able with Imprudences and Irregularities. But as for God, His Work is perfect. Let us then hear our Lord and Judge, Wo unto the World because of Offences, and be­ware least we be offended in Christ. And let not God's People be alienated from each other because of some Dif­ference in Judgment. Be valiant for the Truth; and at the same Time, follow the Things which make for [Page 30] Peace, and Things wherewith one may edify another. Let those Words sink deep into your Hearts. Eph. 4. 29—32. Let no corrupt Communication proceed out of your Mouth, but that which is good to the Use of edifying, that it may minister Grace unto the Hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the Day of Redemption. Let all Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger and Glamour, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all Malice. And be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. And let us all unite in seeking the Ad­vancement of Christ's Kingdom among us. Let us pray that Ministers and People may have all needed Wis­dom and Grace to know and attend their Duty in this Day of Visitation. Let us pray as Psal. 90. 16, 17. Let thy Work appear unto thy Servants, and thy Glory unto their Children. And let the Beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the Work of our Hands upon us, yea, the Work of our Hands establish thou it. May we be more and more enriched with the Showers of Blessing from the third Heaven! May these holy Waters increase and spread far and wide, like the Waters in Eze­kiah's Vision! May they be for the quickning, cleansing, and healing of Sinners; and for the refreshing of God's Children, and the causing them to abound in the Fruits of Righteousness! Thus we shall be prepared for the best Prosperity. Thus shall we obtain Fruits more precious than those which are put forth by Virtue of the Light and Rain of Heaven. God, even our own God, will bless us, and we shall obtain Salvation from the Light of his Countenance. Ezek. 39.29. Neither will I hide my Face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the House of Israel, saith the Lord God.


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