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Mr. Foxcroft's SERMON January 1. 1746,-7.

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A seasonable MEMENTO for New Year's Day.

A SERMON Preached summarily at the Old Church Lecture in BOSTON, On Thursday January 1. 1746,-7. WHEREIN The important Duty of Remembring the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, and commemorating God's wonderful Works of Creation, Redemption, and Providence, is inculcated; and recommended as good Employment for the first Day of the Year in parti­cular.

By THOMAS FOXCROFT, A.M. One of the Pastors of the said Church.

Psal. LXV. 11.

Thou crownest the Year with thy Goodness.—

Psal CXI. 2.

The Works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have Pleasure therein.

Psal. CV. 5.

Remember his marvellous Works, that he hath done—

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S Kneeland and T. Green in Queen-Street. 1747.

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A seasonable MEMENTO FOR A NEW-YEAR'S DAY.

PSAL. LXXVII. 10, 11.

— I will remember the Years of the Right Hand of the most High. I will remember the Works of the Lord.—

FROM these Words, consider'd in their Con­nection and Dependance, I might raise a Variety of instructive Notes, for your profitable and pleasing Entertainment. But this would some­thing carry me away from the special Design I had in chusing this Text; which was, to lead you into some Meditations agreable to the present Season, the Commencement of a New Year, — after a wonderful Year of great Deliverances and signal Mercies; tho' shaded with a Mix­ture of cloudy and afflictive Dispensations. I will sing of Mercy and Judgment: unto Thee, O Lord, will I sing.

To commemorate the Works of God, and remember the Years of the right Hand of the most High, is a Duty of perpetual, as well as universal Obligation, and can never be out of Season: but on such a Day as this, it appears to be eminently in Season; it seems the special Duty of the Day. — It has been the Practice of God's Children (a very fit and reasonable Practice) to take some peculiar Notice of the Beginning and Ending of the Year, [Page 2] in their solemn Meditations and religious Exercises. And while we are careful to avoid every Thing of a superstitious Aspect, not turning back to weak and beggarly Elements, nor observing Days and Months and Times and Years (from a Principle of Conscience toward God, strictly, as if any Season had the same Character of Holiness upon it as the Lord's Day) but only employing common Time to holy Purposes, as we have Opportunity, from a Prin­ciple of Zeal toward God, and of Care for our Souls; I cannot but think it a laudable Custom, to begin and end the Year with the Exercises of more solemn Devotion. It seems to fall within the Limits of those general Rules, — Walk circumspectly, not as Fools, but as Wise, redeeming the Time: — Gird up the Loins of your Mind: — Stablish your Hearts; for the Coming of the Lord draweth nigh: — Be diligent, that you may be found of Him in Peace, without Spot, and blameless.

Among the religious Exercises of New Year's Day, a very fit one is Meditation: and on such Occasions one very fit Subject to employ our devout Thoughts, is that pointed out to us by the Psalmist in our Text. I will remember the Years of the right Hand of the most High: I will remember the Works of the LORD.

Possibly he may not here intend strictly the Period of a Year; but only in general, by Years he may mean the Times and Sea­sons, wherein the Works were wrought, which he resolves to recollect and celebrate. In the Context he uses the Terms of Day and Year as equivalent. So by Years in our Text may be understood in general the Aera's of God's marvellous Works, the Times or Seasons of his remarkable Dispensations of Kind­ness. — Only, it may be, so much is hinted, sometimes at least, [Page 3] when the Word Year is made Use of, — as in our Text, the [...]ears of the right Hand of the most High, — that it refers to [...]vine Works protracted to a considerable Length of Time; it may point at a long Season of glorious divine Operations. A Year being the most extended Period in the natural Division of Time, this Word may be chosen to denote a Series of Days of God's Power and Goodness, a continued Course of his wonderful Works to the Children of Men.

However, taking the Term in its literal Signification, for the Space of Duration properly denominated a Year, it must be granted, that some Years are eminently the Years of the right Hand of the most High.

We must note here, 'tis but by a Figure that Hands are ascribed to God, who is a Spirit, and hath not bodily Parts or Passions as Men have. The Hand being one of the comeliest, strongest, most active and important Members of the human System, of constant and extensive Use, serving to a vast Variety of valuable Purposes in human Life; hence, while the Scripture condescends to accommodate its Language to our Capacity, in describing the blessed God, we find his Hand fre­quently spoken of: which yet is to be understood only as ex­press'd by Way of Analogy or Allusion, and principally imports the divine Influence and Activity, or the Exertment of God's Power and Perfections on the Creature. — We may further observe, that as Man, to whom such Expressions allude, is pri­vileged with a Duplicity of Hands, a right and a left, hence in the same analogical Way a Plurality of this excellent Member is attributed to God in Scripture, and under the express Distinction too of his right Hand and his left; — tho' when the Hand of God is mention'd with one or other of these Epithets join'd to it, 'tis the former that is most commonly used. So in our Text, the Years of the Right Hand of the most High.

It mayn't be unfit to note here more particularly,

1. The Right Hand commonly being the strongest and the most used, and having a greater Aptitude for Exercise, hence this does most significantly express Power, and Action, and Skill: and when figuratively apply'd to God, it often denotes his infi­nite Strength, Activity, and Dexterity in Operation. So the Years of the right Hand of the most High may intend the Years of his mighty Works, and glorious Atchievements, displaying [Page 4] his immense Wisdom, most active Nature, and divine Omni­potence.

2. The Right Hand is of all the Members of the Body one of the most beloved and endeared to us. This is the Favourite-Hand. In Allusion to which Property, the Mortification of a darling Lust is compar'd in Scripture to the Cutting off a Right Hand. — The Patriarch Jacob's Son Benjamin (which signifies a Son of the Right Hand had his Name given him for this Reason, because he was the Son of his peculiar Affection. — So the Years of the right Hand of the most High may intend such as have been distinguish'd by the Smiles of Heaven, and been full of the Blessing of the Lord, — remarkable Years of his Loving-kind­ness and Favour, wherein his good Hand has been signalized towards his People; — and such as may be called the Favourite-Years, which he hath as it were embraced with his Right Hand.

3. The Right Hand is significant, among Men, of Dignity and Preheminence. The Right Hand is that on which, as the worthiest, the Signet has been wont to be worn: and in Token of Honour, Persons of Distinction are placed on our Right Hand. Hence Christ's Exaltation in the heavenly Places is represented in figurative Language, by his sitting down on the Right Hand of the Majesty on high: which imports his being near and dear to God, and crown'd with superlative Glory. Hence he is said to be set down with his Father on his Throne: and is called the Man of his right Hand. To him God hath sworn by his Right Hand; Him hath God exalted with his Right Hand; Him hath He exalted to his Right Hand; and he is indeed his Right Hand, the Right Hand of his Righteousness, and the Strength of his Salvation. — So the Expression in our Text, the Years of the right Hand of the most High, may be understood of Years which God has emi­nently dignify'd, raised in Fame above other Years, and put a remarkable Lustre and Distinction upon, by great Works of the Arm of the Lord bringing Salvation and Prosperity, that make them shine in the Annals of the Church. These may be called Years crowned with his Goodness, as the Expression is in Psal. 65.11. — He hath stretched out his Right Hand, and laid it on their Head, honouring them (as the First born) with a double Portion of his Blessing.

[Page 5]It may be subjoin'd,

4. The Right Hand is given among Men, one to another, in Token of Covenanting, and professing Friendship. Holding up the Hand was the ancient Mode of taking a solemn Oath: and giving the Hand has always been practised as a federal Rite, as a Signal of Agreement, and an Expression of Friendliness. This was the Token between Jebu and Jebonadab, when he came to meet him; Is thy Heart right, as my Heart is with thy Heart? If it be, give me thine Hand. In this View the Apostle uses the Phrase; When James, Cephas, and John perceived the Grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the Right Hands of Fellowship. — Thus the Years of the right Hand of the most High may intend the special Seasons of God's covenanting with his People, giving them the Assurances of his Friendship, and confirming his Promises by an Oath, to shew the Immutabi­lity of his Counsel. The Lord is said to swear by his Right Hand; and that's the Form of the Oath, I lift up my Hand to Heaven, and say, I live for ever. Besides the Oath which he sware to Abraham, there were Promises made to the Fathers both before and after him. The Lord sware unto David, both the Type and Antitype; and he spake by the Mouth of all the holy Prophets, which have been since the World began; remembring his holy Covenant, and renewing the Promises of it from Age to Age; declaring himself the God of the righteous Seed, and avouching them to be his peculiar People. In particular, he often repeated these federal Transactions with Israel, but more solemnly in Horeb; and finally, having broken down the Wall of Partition, he has extended his Covenant to the Gentiles, say­ing to them which in Times past were not a People, Thou art my People, and bringing them to avouch the God of Israel for the Lord their God. — Now such Covenanting-Times may be included in the Idea of the Years of the Right Hand of the most High: and these as God is ever mindful of, so should we; taking Heed to ourselves, lest we forget the Covenant of the Lord our God; for our God is a consuming Fire, a jealous God.

Thus I have assign'd some of the most probable Senses of the Phrase in our Text. Possibly they may all be comprehended: tho' Expositors generally interpret it as used here with a special View to the first Sense, and more directly intending the peculiar Seasons of God's displaying his Power and Perfection in great and wonderful Works of Goodness. And indeed this is counte­nanced [Page 6] by the Connection of the Words. I will remember the Years of the Right Hand of the most High: I will remember the Works of the Lord: Surely I will remember thy Wonders of old, &c. Then in the following Verses the Psalmist proceeds to celebrate the mighty Acts of God, and his gracious Appearances for his People. — Accordingly in the present Discourse I shall have a particular Eye to this Sense, as primarily intended; tho' not excluding the others. — And when the Text speaks of remem­bring the Works of the Lord, and the Years of his Right Hand, we are to understand by this, not a meer speculative Exercise of the Mind and Memory on these Objects, but also correspondent Actions of the Judgment and Conscience, Will and Affections, with agreable Practice and Behaviour in the outward Life.

Having premised these general Observations, I shall now distinctly mention some of those Years of God's Right Hand, and some of those Works of the most High, which challenge from us this devotional and practical Commemoration.

1. I begin with commending to your Remembrance the Year of the Creation, and its mighty Wonders.

This is a great and notable Year of the Lord; as it were, the Beginning of his Strength, and the First-born among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High. This ancient Year, the first Date of Time, must never be forgotten, when we profess to remember the Works of the Lord, and to consider the Days of old, the Years of ancient Times. It must ever be remembred, that in the Beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth, and formed all Things by the Word of his Power. Then his Right Hand became glorious in Power, and wrought wondrously: He re­vealed his mighty Arm, strong was his Hand, and high his Right Hand. Then the Greatness of his Excellency appeared; then he manifested forth his Glory, the Glory of his Strength, and Wisdom, and Goodness, Sovereignty, and Alsufficiency, in pro­ducing these Worlds out of Nothing, in forming them with such admirable Beauty and Harmony, filling them with such unsearch­able Riches, and stocking them with such glorious Inhabitants: All which should come into our Remembrance. — We should consider his Heaven, the Work of his Fingers; and enter with our Meditations into the upper and invisible World, the Habita­tion of blessed Angels. — But the Years of the Right Hand of the most High is a Phrase that calls our Thoughts down to this visible [Page 7] and lower World, the Stage of Time and the Seat of Mankind. The Sons of the Morning saw that great Work, which the Lord did, when he created this Earth, and brought forth Man upon it: those Morning-Stars sang the Praises of their and our Creator, and shouted for Joy at the building this Temple, sacred to the Honour of his Name. The Lord himself rejoiced in the Works of his Hand: and upon a Review of the whole, pronounced all very good. He constantly claims it as his Prerogative to create, and glories in his Character of universal Creator. Thus saith the Lord, I am the First, and I am the Last; and besides Me there is no God. — I am the Lord that maketh all Things, that stretcheth forth the Heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the Earth by my self. And again, I have made the Earth, and created Man upon it; I, even my Hands have stretched out the Heavens, and all their Host have I commanded.

Verily the Year of the Creation is one of the most glorious and memorable Years of the Right Hand of the most High. — The in­visible Things of Him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being understood by the Things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead. — The Heavens declare his Glory; the Earth also is full of his Riches; at its first Formation 'twas eminently so. In its Production and Establishment, the Glory of the Lord brake forth with an astonishing Lustre, and the Right Hand of his Power wrought marvellous Things without Num­ber. — Well may we adore the Creator in that Language, Who is a God like unto Thee! Glorious in Holiness, fearful in Praises, doing Wonders. — Worthy art Thou, O Lord, to receive Glory, and Honour, and Power; for Thou hast created all Things, and for thy Pleasure they are, and were created.

We should often contemplate on the Glories of the Creation in its general View; and wisely apply the Meditation to its pro­per practical Uses, — to make us hate and mourn for Sin, which casts Contempt on God and his wonderful Works, — to raise our Admiration of the divine Excellency, Fulness and Blessed­ness of the great Creator, — to excite our Veneration, Love, Gratitude, with every other devout Passion; — particularly to confirm our Faith in the Promises of an alsufficient God, — especially with Respect to the coming Day of the Restitution of all Things.—And since our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Begotten of the Father, sustains in common with him this exalted Cha­racter of the Former of all Things, as well as the Saviour of his [Page 8] Body the Church, this Reflection should establish us in the Belief of his eternal Divinity, so plainly taught us in the Scriptures: for He that built all Things is God. Hence, according to his Demand, all Men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. The Earth is the Lord's, and the Fulness thereof; we should therefore honour the Lord with our Substance; and we should glorify him in all Things, consecrating our selves and all our Enjoyments to his Service and Honour: Particularly as we believe in God the Father, so should we also in God the Son, by whom he hath in these last Days spoken to us, by whom also he made the Worlds, and whom he hath appointed Heir of all Things. What a powerful Motive have we to the firmest Trust in Jesus Christ, since he is the Maker, and therefore Lord of all! And well may the conscious Believer triumph in the Name of Jesus, to whom he has committed and devoted himself. — But Sinners in Zion, on the contrary, may well be afraid, when they consi­der Whom they despise and refuse, even the great Creator and high Possessor of Heaven and Earth, the one Lawgiver that is able to save and to destroy; who spared not the old World, but brought a Flood upon the Ungodly, nor will spare the World that now is, but reserveth it unto Fire against the Day of Judgment and Per­dition of ungodly Men, which shall so come as a Thief in the Night, in the which the Heavens being on Fire shall be dissolved, and the Elements melt with fervent Heat, the Earth also and the Works therein shall be burnt up. Seeing then that ye look for such Things, make the World no longer your Idol: but mind the one Thing needful, your eternal Interest; seek and chuse the good Part, that (being obtained) shall never be taken from you. Brethren, the Time is short, and the World passeth away, with the Lust thereof: but he that doeth the Will of God, abideth for ever, and possesseth a most durable and blissful Inheritance. And this is the Will of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent, who is the alone Saviour, and whose Favour only can be your Security at the last Day amidst the Terrors of a dissolving World. May you therefore now be perswaded to flee for Refuge to lay hold of the Hope set before you, and be diligent that you may be found of him in Peace.

But to proceed,

Among all the glorious Occurrences of the Creation-Year, the most illustrious and signal were those referring to Man, his For­mation, and the divine Disposition of him and Transactions with him.

[Page 9]Tho' it be the general Character of Man, that he is born of a Woman, yet our first Parents were the immediate Offspring of God, brought into Being by his creating Hand. Male and Female (one of a Sex) created he them. God formed the first Man out of the Dust of the Ground, and the first Woman out of one of his Ribs: and the Lord breathed into their Nostrils the Breath of Life; so they became each a living Soul. He brought the Woman to the Man, and joined them by the Bond of Matrimony even in Paradise; and of this one Blood (originally pure and un­corrupt) hath God made all Nations of Mankind, of every Co­lour and Language, dwelling on all the Face of the Earth. Now indeed they are in a depraved State universally, and the Wicked­ness of Man is great upon the Earth; nor can he be clean, that is born of a Woman: But from the Beginning it was not so; for God made Man upright, — in the Image of God created he him, with a superior Light in his Understanding, a heavenly Bias on his Will and Affections, and a divine Rectitude in all the Powers of his intellectual and moral Nature; whereby he shone at first as a little Image of God upon Earth, and had the Beasts of the Field in League with him, a League of Friendship and Sub­mission.

The Production of this noble Creature, Man, is celebrated every where in Scripture as a transcendent Work of divine Wis­dom and Power, and the Account we have of it in the Mosaic History is accordingly introduced with that peculiar Ensign of Counsel and Solemnity, Let us make Man. — And truly if Man be consider'd in his twofold Nature and original Constitution, he appears to have been fearfully and wonderfully made. — His Body an admirable Structure, full of Mystery and Glory, a meet Ta­bernacle for his pure and immortal Spirit, and the Temple of the living God, every Way fitly framed together, and exhibiting the infinite Skill and Perfection and Goodness of its divine Crea­tor. — But the Soul of Man still more excellent, as it first came out of his forming Hand; participating of the divine Nature, in its Spirituality and Immortality, in its Powers of Perception, Judgment and Choice, and in the Harmony, the moral Purity and Perfection of all its Faculties. — And above all the visible Creation, Man had a conspicuous Resemblance to his blessed Maker and Sovereign, in the Dignity and Felicity of his exalted Condition; as having Dominion over all the other Creatures in this sublunary World, situated in Paradise, the Centre of all ter­rene [Page 10] Pleasures, Riches and Glories, and enjoying the most inti­mate Communion with his divine Maker.

What a happy and excelling Creature was Man in the Begin­ning! How dignify'd and distinguish'd! An Angel in Flesh, a Kind of terrestrial God, an illustrious Image of the supreme Majesty!

And how did his Maker exalt him by entring into Covenant with him, a Covenant of Friendship and of glorious Grace, con­taining the wisest and most righteous Demands, as well as en­forced with the most weighty Sanctions, perfectly adjusted to his Nature and State, addressing to his Reason and Conscience, to his Hopes and Fears, and to every Passion of his Soul; and thus most excellently calculated to secure his Obedience, and hereby his Happiness! Surely this is a memorable Occurrence: one of the most signal and admirable in the primitive Year of Won­ders.

But after all it must be observed, there's one dark and most melancholy Event (which not God, but Man only was the Author of) that eclipsed the Glory of this Year of the Right Hand of the most High, spread a universal Gloom upon the Face of the Earth, turn'd Man out of Paradise, and degraded him to a Level with the brutal Herd, — I mean Adam's Transgression, in the Matter of the forbidden Fruit. An amazing Fall! and a horrid Guilt, that reach'd Heaven and spread through all the Earth, that ter­minated not in his single Person, but extends to his whole natu­ral Posterity through all Generations! Alas, Man being in Ho­nour, understood not, but quickly corrupted his Way, and became like the Beasts that perish. God made him holy and happy, but with a mutable Nature and in a mutable State; and having in his adorable Sovereignty put him upon Trial, by a disciplinary Prohibition, he disobey'd, and fell by Transgression, lost the Image of God his Maker, forfeited the divine Presence and Favour, and involved his numerous Progeny in Guilt and Ruin together with himself. For so the Scripture teaches us to account for the present State of this evil World, — By one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners — By the Offence of one, Judgment came upon all Men to Condemnation — By one Man Sin entred into the World, and Death by Sin; and so Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned.—In Adam all die.—And cursed was the very Ground for his Sake, the Creature by Reason of him was made sub­ject to Vanity, and the Earth groans under the Burden of its [Page 11] guilty Inhabitants, and the Effects of Adam's Fall, even until now. Thus the Creation was scarce finish'd before Man re­volted, and by the Merit of his Sin filled this habitable Word with Darkness and Death, and introduced a most formidable Train of Evils. This is for a Lamentation; and it should always be called to Mind with just Resentments of Shame and Grief, while we are recollecting the wondrous Events of the Year of God's crea­ting Hand.

However, it should be remember'd too, that God our Maker, in his sovereign Grace, presently upon the Fall of Man, pub­lish'd the good Tidings of Peace; and opened a new Covenant, in the Promise, that the Seed of the Woman should bruise the Serpent's Head, who had beguiled Eve through his Subtilty: — which im­ply'd a Declaration of God's gracious Purpose to visit and redeem his People, and to raise up a Horn of Salvation in his own ap­pointed Time.

Thus I have hinted at some of the memorable and surprizing Occurrences of this first Year of the Right Hand of the most High, the Year of Creation.

Now this surely is a Year much to be remembred, and never for­gotten by us. While we read our Bible, we find it frequently reminding us of this memorable Year, and calling its remarkable Events to our Remembrance. Indeed it's here only, that we meet with the History of these ancient Facts. How thankful should we be for the sacred Scriptures, to which we are indebted, as for peculiar Discoveries of the Mind and Will of God, so of his Works? In this divine Revelation to Mankind we have such Discoveries as transcend those of the most improv'd Philo­sophy, particularly in Relation to the first Cause and the last End of all Things, the Origin of Good and Evil, the pristine perfect and present fallen States of Man, &c. Discoveries, of the last Importance to us, and such as speak the Scriptures to be of in­comparable Excellency and Usefulness. How thankful should we be for this singular Privilege of Scripture-Revelation? How diligently should we consult it? And while we do so, we shall find it often reading to us entertaining Lectures on the Works of God, particularly those in the memorable Year of Creation: calling this to our Thoughts, and speaking of its various Events as deserving our solemn Attention and Consideration; in which therefore we should frequently exercise our selves, — not on a mere Philosophic Design, but on Theological Principles, and with [Page 12] a View to those devotional and practical Ends, which this Me­ditation has in its Nature a Fitness to subserve.

Our whole Life is not too much to be employ'd in the Com­memoration of God's wonderful Works in the Year of Creative. The longest Life, yea, Eternity itself, can never exhaust the boundless Subject. We should enter early on the Business of remembring God and his Works. What saith the Scripture I Remember now thy Creator in the Days of thy Youth. Under this his first relative Character, we should all of us, Young and Old, be much in remembring the Lord our God. — We should remem­ber, that God made the Earth, and created Man upon it; gave him his Being, and this at first a Being admirably excellent, at­tended with all the Advantages of intrinsick Persection, and every desirable external Accommodation. Our Commemoration of these Things should be frequent; nor merely contemplative, but influential on our Hearts and Lives.

Let it be said here distinctly,

1. Considering the Production of Man, in its general or more simple and absolute, View, it is to be remembred by us, with due Acknowledgments to God, practical and devotional.

We should confess God the first Cause of Man's Existence, the Origin of our Being, the Author of human Nature, in its very first and all successive Instances. And this Work of the Right Hand of the most High is to be remembred by us in the Exercise of every correspondent Disposition, and with all agreable De­portments. — We should see and own our common Obligations to God our Maker, and ever maintain a thankful Sense of the Riches of his creating Goodness. — We should, by often view­ing Him as Creator, study to get and keep our Minds under the deepest Impression of our absolute Dependance on him; and learn the great Lesson of intire Submission to his sovereign Will. —We should apply this Reflection to invigorate and enliven our Belief of a divine Providence, superintending the World moral, as well as natural; and learn accordingly to refer all our Affairs, all our Interests (together with our Persons) to the divine Direction and Disposal, with a firm Confidence in God, as a Being perfectly sufficient to preserve us, and to provide for us, whether in Rela­tion to Body or Soul, to Time or Eternity. — The Consideration of God as Creator should serve also to awaken in us the most humble Fear, and awful Apprehensions of him. This divine [Page 13] Character speaks his infinite Distance from us in Nature, his in­finite Dignity above us, his absolute Authority over us; there­fore speaks him the just Object of our highest Respect and solemn Dread, and challenges our most solicitous Care to please and ho­nour him, and to walk humbly before him.— Should we not also love, as well as reverence the Hand that formed us? Ought not our Desire to be unto his Name, and to the Remembrance of him? As we are in a natural Sense the Offspring of God, surely our heavenly Father deserves our best Affections. Accordingly that is his Demand, My Son, give me thy Heart. A Demand founded in the most perfect Reason, and approving itself to every enlighten'd Conscience. How then can any of us (viler than the Ox, that knoweth his Owner) be so stupid and ungrateful, as not to inquire after God our Maker, but forget the Rock that beg at us! Or how can we deny him our whole Thought and Heart, who gave us our very Breath and Being! Yet this is our Manner from our Youth. — And how absurd our Conduct, while by breaking the Law we dishonour God that made us! Surely we ought to be in Subjection to the Father of Spirits, and learn Obedi­ence from this View of God. The Creator must needs be the Lawgiver and the chief End of Man. He that made all Things for himself, has an undoubted Right of Propriety in and Domi­nion over them, and justly claims a Tribute of Praise from them, according to their various Natures and Capacities: and most certainly he proposed his own Glory as the supreme Design of Man's Creation, whom he fram'd with a Capacity of rendring to him a reasonable Service, a voluntary active Homage, and reli­gious Worship; thereby distinguishing him from the Fowls of Heaven and Beasts of the Earth, that have no Understanding, to constitute them fit Subjects of moral Government. Wherefore, as we would shew ourselves Men, it becomes us to study the Will of God, and be obedient in all Things. And how befitting the fallen Creature is that Prayer of the Psalmist? Thy Hands, O God, have made and fashioned me; Give me Understanding, that I may learn thy Commandments.—Now (to add no more here) the Commandments which respect our Neighbour, as well as those which more immediately respect God, are what we have to learn. That comprehensive and excellent Law, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self, receives Light and Force from the Con­sideration of God as our original Creator and common Father. This Thought should restrain us from despising, injuring, or [Page 14] maligning any of our Fellow-Creatures: yea, it should teach us to do Good unto all Men, as we have Opportunity, to be kindly affectioned to one another, and to love as Brethren; since we all have one Father, since one God created us.

But I go on to say,

2. When we contemplate the Manner of Man's Production, and how he was form'd originally, this complex View of the Case will afford us still more Lessons of Wisdom; and lead us to other practical Uses, to which we should apply our Reflections on the Year of God's creating Hand.

Particularly as to Man's Body, when we remember that this was originally made out of the Dust of the Ground, it should lead us to admire the infinite Power and Skill of the Creator, in form­ing so curious and comely a Fabrick, out of such mean and un­apt Materials: and to admire the Mystery of Wisdom in the Union of two such distant Natures, a heavenly Spirit and earthly Flesh, in one human Person:— as also to admire the infinite Condescension of God in admitting an embody'd Spirit to the Pri­vileges of his sacred Presence and Communion, while he had Thousands of Angels to minister about his Throne above, nor stood in any Need of the sublimest Homages and Honours of his most exalted Creatures, much less of the mean Services of Man upon his Footstool here below. — And when we reflect, that Man (as to his visible Part) was formed out of Clay, that the first Man was of the Earth earthy, and that we have born the Image of the Earthy, this should mortify the Pride of Life, humble us by a Sense of our mean Original, and make us afraid to strive with our Maker, or to exalt ourselves in the Vanity of our Mind above our Fellow-Creatures. — This should teach us, not to over-rate our bodily Part, but to prefer our spiritual and immortal, in all our Care and Provision for our selves. — And may not this admi­nister some Encouragement to us (at least to the People of God) to hope for divine Compassion towards us? For he remembreth that he hath made us as the Clay, he knoweth our Frame, and remembreth that we are but Dust. — However, let all our Complaints be for ever silenced by the Sovereignty of God that made us; and let none murmur, that they are of them who dwell in Houses of Clay, whose Foundation is in the Dust; nor even that they are put to suffer grievous Things in the Body. Wo unto him, that saith to his Father, What begottest thou? Shall the Clay say to him that [Page 15] fashioneth it, What makest thou? Even our first Parents in their Innocence dwelt in Clay-Tabernacles: and shall we, in our fallen State, repine and fret, because we are not as the Angels, but Spirits dwelling in Flesh, and Men of like Passions with others! In a Word, while we remember that we are of the Earth, it should likewise be remember'd that we are doom'd to return to the Earth, from whence we were taken; that our earthly Ta­bernacle, in which we sojourn at present, must ere long be de­priv'd of its cohabiting Spirit, and be resolved into its original Dust; and this, principally, as the Fruit of the original Curse upon Man, for his first Transgression: — Which is a Reflection that should excite us much to bewail the Sin & Fall of Adam, who thereby introduced Death into the World, and entailed it on all his unhappy Progeny. — Nevertheless, at the same Time, we should magnify the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who has undertaken to save his People from the Sting of Death, to purchase for them the Redemption of the Body, as well as Salvation of the Soul, and who will one Day change our vile Body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious Body. — How solicitously therefore should we all seek an Interest in Christ, that being joined to the Lord, we may fall asleep in Jesus, when the Dust shall return to the Dust, but the Spirit to God that gave it; and so may not only secure to our selves the Translation of our Souls to Heaven when we die, but our Flesh having rested in Hope, may at last obtain the Resurrection of Life! — And how should Believers be excited by this Reflection, to be looking beyond Mortality, and longing for the Glory that shall be revealed in them, that in the fullest Sense they may win Christ, may know the Power of his Resurrection, shine in his perfect Image, and dwell in the Joy of his immediate Presence!

Let it now be observ'd,

When it's remembred how the Soul of Man was at first made in the Image of God, this Reflection also may be apply'd to many profitable Uses in Religion, and should constantly be directed to its just practical Ends.

Thus, it should lead us to review and admire the Perfections of God, his Sanctity and Skill and Power and Goodness, dis­play'd in forming the Spirit of Man within him; an intelligent, active, holy and unblemish'd Spirit, as it was when it came first out of his creating Hand. We should magnify his Name with Thanksgiving, for the exalted natural Powers of the human [Page 16] Mind, and for the moral Rectitude, Purity, and spiritual Beauty, these were all originally endow'd with. We should admire and celebrate the Goodness of God to Man, in the many distinguish'd Advantages and Excellencies of his primitive State, as with Re­gard to the Perfection of his Knowledge & Wisdom, the Tranquil­lity of his Conscience, and the Empire of his rational Powers over all his animal Appetites and Passions, so with Regard to his having a meet Help and a blessed Habitation provided for him, as also to the Order and Place he sustain'd in this lower System of created Beings, and the Command he had over the whole Circle of natural Agents; all Sheep and Oxen, yea, and the Beasts of the Field, the Fowl of the Air, and the Fish of the Sea, being made for his Use, and put in Subjection to him. For God made him little lower than the Angels; crowned him with Glory and Honour, with Majesty and Dominion over the Works of his Hands, and put all Things under his Feet, in Point both of Dignity and Empire. Thus, Man was at first a little Image of God in the World, shining with all the Glories of intellectual and moral Perfection, compatible to human Nature in its probationary State, and with the Honours of Sovereignty over all other sublunary Creatures. With what Gratitude and Praise should we always remember the Goodness of God our Maker, in all this!

Yet at the same Time, with what Tears of bitter Grief and Confusion of Face ought we again to reflect on the unhappy Fall of our first Parents, and mourn the first Rebellion, as a Dishonour to God, a Reproach and Ruin to themselves, and fatal to their Posterity, in spiritual and moral Regards especially!

However, we should take a thankful Notice of God's sparing Goodness, in that there are still some Remains, in the Soul of Man, of the Similitude of God, in natural Respects, I mean, in Regard of natural Reason, and natural Conscience; which pre­serves a Distinction between the human and brutal Kinds, and lays the Foundation for a Possibility of our Recovery, makes us (tho' fallen Creatures) still capable Subjects of moral Govern­ment, and by the Influence of divine Restraints still capable, in some Measure, to pursue the Ends and enjoy the Good of Society.

Hence, in Conformity to the Precepts of Scripture, as well as Reason, we should learn, not to despise human Nature, even under its most uncomely Forms, but to honour all Men, tho' in the most servile and abject Condition, as excelling the Brutal [Page 17] Creation, in their rational Make; and in their general Nature (exclusive of gracious and spiritual Respects) made after the Simi­litude of God himself. — But especially should the Saints in the Earth be honoured as the Excellent, in Regard that they have the divine Image (in its moral View) restored in their Souls; which speaks the Righteous more excellent than his Neighbour.

Nor can we be excus'd, if we don't every Man learn to reve­rence himself; I mean, to shew our selves Men, and be concern'd to live up to the Dignity of our Nature, and Rank in the Crea­tion; not setting our Affections upon Things on the Earth, after the Manner of Beasts that grovel in the Dust; but seeking those Things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the Right Hand of God, and which only are commensurate to the Duration and suited to the Wants and genuine Cravings of our unperishable and intellectual Part.

Should we not also be convinced by the Reflection before us, that the great God, the Former of Spirits, is the supreme Happiness of Man, and the only Object of our religious Worship? And should it not teach us the absolute Reasonableness of all that Duty which God requires of Man, to reflect, that we are his Creatures, and as made at first in his Image, had originally sufficient Power per­fectly to obey his Will? — But, on the other Hand, should not this Reflection serve to convince us of the utter Unreasonableness and Baseness of Sin, in all its Kinds and in every Instance and Degree? Ought it not to awaken in us a Resentment and Hor­ror of so malignant an Evil, which has at once dishonour'd the Creator, and degraded the Creature, obliterated the moral Image of God, and defiled the universal Nature of Man? Ought we not to be asham'd of that which hath so polluted and debased us? Ought it not to make us blush, and even abhor our selves in our own Eyes, to think how (thro' the Influence of Sin, which dwelleth in us) we naturally contemn God, and despise our own Souls, daily abusing and perverting our noblest Powers or Under­standing and Will to minister to the Gratification of our inferior Appetites and Passions, tamely submitting to the Tyranny of foolish and hurtful Lusts, and taking unhappy Methods to destroy our selves, who once bore the very Image of God, and are still (subjectively) capable of a blessed Conformity to him, by the Impressions of supernatural Grace?

In brief, this Reflection, as it should humble us, and make as groan under a Sense of the Degeneracy of our Nature, so it [Page 18] should teach us the absolute Necessity of a Renewal of the Image (as well as Recovery of the Favour) of God, in order to our true and solid Happiness; and should accordingly put us upon earnestly seeking to be renewed in the Spirit of our Mind, after the Image of him that created us; yea, should put us upon seeking this at the Hand of God, humbly conscious of our own spiritual Impotence, and the utter Insufficiency of all created Power, and sensible that only the same Right Hand of the most High, which at first made Man after the Likeness of God, is able to restore our Souls, by a transforming Work of his Almighty Grace.

It must now be observ'd in the last Place,

3. While we remember God's Transactions with, and various Dispensations to his Creature, Man, in the Year of Creation, we should be in Care to improve our Tho'ts of these Things wisely to their genuine practical Purposes. If we would remember the Hand of God our Maker, as we ought, we must recollect and rightly apply these Circumstantial, but important Events; seve­ral of which I will here briefly mention, and lead you to some suitable Reflections on them.

Thus, God's forming the Garden of Eden for our first Father, and putting him into it, a Place abounding with all terrene Riches, Beauties, and Delights, perfectly suited to all the regular Propen­sities of animal Nature, and undoubtedly adjusted to the supe­rior Purposes of divine Contemplation and spiritual Devotion (perhaps sacred to the peculiar Uses of a holy Temple, and exhi­biting a most lively emblematical Idea of the heavenly Paradise) as also God's planting therein, amidst other Trees most beauti­ful to the Eye and good for Food, that singularly excellent one, the Tree of Life, which besides it's beneficial and lovely natural Properties, seems to have been destin'd to a Sacramental Use, to be a Seal of the Covenant made with Adam, and a Pledge of his Reward in Case of Obedience, having this Inscription upon it, Eat and Live; our Remembrance of these Things furnishes us with Matter of Praise and Thanksgiving to God, for his pri­mitive Goodness to Man, in this distinguishing Provision for his Comfort and Well-being, both in Soul & Body. It should also lead us to contemplate and acknowledge God's sovereign Right of appointing to Mankind the Bounds of their Habitation, and chusing out their Inheritance for them. It should lead us to see his Hand, and confess his merciful Kindness to us, if the Lines are fallen to [Page 19] us in pleasant Places; and particularly to bless his Name, for hav­ing given us a goodly Heritage, as our Lot is cast within the Pale of his Church, where the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, is exhibited to us, where we enjoy the Sabbath of the Lord, and the distin­guishing Privileges of his Sanctuary, in some Respects excelling even those of Adam's Paradise. And it ought to raise our Idea of the Riches of divine Grace to us herein, when we remember, that our first Father by his Transgression forfeited Paradise, both for himself and us, so God drove out the Man, and to prevent his Return and Access to the Tree of Life, placed an Angelick Guard with a flaming Sword, the visible Ensign of provoked Majesty and the Terror of guilty Mortals. On this Occasion we should ascribe Righteousness to our Maker, justify God in the Expulsion of Man out of Eden, and admire his Goodness to the Children of Men, in giving them the Earth, at large, for a Place of Habita­tion; and in storing the same with the rich Fruits of his Benig­nity from Age to Age; but above all, in creating for us a new and heavenly Paradise (so preferable to the old and earthly one) in which he hath opened Rivers of living Water, hath planted the Tree of Life, hath erected the Temple of his Holiness, and a Throne of Grace; the Lord God walking in the midst of his Garden, eateth his pleasant Fruits; the Gates of Righteousness are open for his People's Access, they enter in, and praise the Lord, and delight themselves with the Abundance of divine and spiritual Glory. Nor indeed are any excluded finally, but such as by Unbelief shut the Door against themselves: And these indeed will all at last find the Gate of the Lord terribly guarded with the flaming Sword of incensed and inexorable Justice, to forbid their Admission; nor will all their knocking at the Door in that Day, and crying, Lord, Lord, open to us, be answered otherwise than by that tre­mendous Sentence, Depart from me, ye Cursed, into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels.— Now therefore, before it be too late, let us hear the Warning, which a com­passionate Saviour has given us: Strive to enter in at the strait Gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the House is risen up, and hath shut to the Door against you, there will only remain for you Weeping and gnashing of Teeth, to see such Multitudes in the King­dom of God, and you your selves thrust out.

But to proceed unto another Fact,

[Page 20]God's instituting a Sabbath for Man, immediately on his Creation (as it's commonly judg'd) and before his Fall, is a fur­ther Demonstration of divine Goodness, Holiness, Wisdom, and Sovereignty, which should be remembred by us with Gratitude and Praise, and with due practical Acknowledgements. God having finished the Work of Creation in the space of six Days, rested on the seventh Day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-Day, and hallowed it. This Reflection should teach us to honour the Sabbath, for its venerable Antiquity, its divine Authority, and the Stamp of Holiness from the Beginning put upon it. We should celebrate the Wisdom of God, in appointing so fit a Me­morial of the World's Creation, and in appropriating to his own immediate Service so fit a Proportion of the Life of Man. We should see in this Institution an early and lasting Testimony of God's Sovereignty over Man; and withal, of his Goodness to him. The Sabbath was made for Man, to be a Day of special Com­munion with God in this World, and a Pledge of ever­lasting Rest in God, in the World to come. We should admire the Grace of God in continuing to Man the Privilege of a Sabbath, notwithstanding the Forfeiture of it by his Fall. We should give our Lord Jesus Christ the Glory of having purchas'd this Privilege for his People; and as He has claim'd to be Lord also of the Sabbath, we should acknowledge Him in this his di­vine Character, by remembring the Sabbath-Day, to keep it holy to his Honour; looking to him for the Sabbath-Blessing, and per­forming Sabbath-Duty in his Name; Commemorating as well the new Creation, as the old, and honouring the Son, even as we honour the Father.— A seventh Part of Time has been sacred to God, for a Sabbath, by his own Institution, from the Founda­tion of the World: and since Christ's Resurrection, the first Day of the Week (being that on which he rose) worthily sustains the Honour of being the Lord's Day, sacred to the Memory of a risen JESUS, the Lord of Glory, our Creator and our Redeemer.

Another Fact, which shews God's Kindness to Adam in his Paradisiacal State, and which we should remember, is the provid­ing and bestowing upon him a fit Companion. God said, It is not good, that the Man should be alone: and therefore he prepared an Help meet for him, by his own creating Hand made he a Woman, brought her to the Man, &c. — While we remember this admi­rable Occurrence, we should in general learn from it to consider our selves as conversable Creatures, form'd for amicable and useful [Page 21] Society, — not to herd dishonourably with the Beasts of the Earth (as the Manner of some is) but as the moral Fitness and Reason of Things instruct us, to associate with those of our own superior Species: And this teaches us, that we ought by all pro­per Ways to cultivate human Friendships and Alliances, to value and promote especially the Communion of Saints, to be serving one another in Love, and serving our Generation according to the Will of God, in the uniform Practice of every social and relative Duty. — In particular, As the Family was the first Society, and is that little Community we are all first initiated into, and most conversant in, it should be our early and abiding Care to exer­cise our selves in Family-Duty, of every Kind suitable to the Re­lations we sustain, and to practise all the important Virtues of Domestick Life.— As the Relation of Husband and Wife was instituted with a View to their being mutual Helps, even in the State of primitive Perfection, all should consider this as one va­luable End of the conjugal Relation, directing their Choice of a Companion by it, and adjusting their Conduct in the Relation, to this excellent Design; ever solicitous to approve them­selves Helps meet for each other. Remembring that they are mystically one Flesh, they should also be as it were of one Soul, and study to glorify God with one Mind and one Mouth; living with one another as becometh Heirs together of the Grace of Life, that their Prayers be not hindred. — Moreover, when it's remembred, that the matrimonial State was originally of Divine Institution, and commenced in Paradise, while the Man and Woman were inno­cent, this teaches us to condemn the Doctrine which forbiddeth to marry; it teacheth us to esteem Marriage honourable in all, and to venerate the Holiness, the Goodness, and the Wisdom, as well as Sovereignty of God in its primitive Institution, and in its Continuation. Yet in a peculiar Manner should we value and honour the spiritual Marriage, of which that between Adam and Eve was a Figure, and by which Souls are joined to the Lord. This is a great Mystery: but I speak concerning Christ & the Church. If we be espoused to Christ, if our Maker be our Husband, He will guide us by his Counsel, and receive us to Glory, where we shall be as the Angels of God.—Further, when we recollect, that our first Parents were made, the one as well as the other of them, in the Image of God, we should learn to honour each the other Sex, & guard against all unrighteous Partiality in our Regards to either: Tho' it's confess'd, that as the Woman was made after the Man, and [Page 22] for him, the Male is in Civil Respects to be considered as the su­peritur Sex. But still in the Rights of Religion & Conscience, and in Point of Salvation, there is neither Male nor Female, but all are one in Christ, and Joint-Heirs of the Promise. For with God is no Respect of Persons: and thus it was from the Beginning. —. In a Word, when we remember, that God at first made Man Male and Female, and but One of a Sex, we should consider this as a wise Provision for accomplishing his Designs, to produce Man­kind in successive Generations, to derive of one Bleed all Nations of Men, to seek unto Himself a godly Seed, &c. Nor was it one of the least powerful Motives, to induce our first Parents to a Care of Perseverance, that without this they would either miss the Blessing of Posterity, or entail Misery on their Children. And this Conduct of God our Maker must be confess'd wise and good, as it subserv'd his Design of dealing with the whole Body of Man­kind in the Method of a constituted Representative and common federal Head; which Character and Capacity the first Man must be own'd of all our Race the fittest (as the Case then was) to sustain.—And it serv'd too to lay a Foundation for the future Rise of a second Adam, in due Time; even the Son of God incarnate in our Nature, made of a Woman, made under the Law, and made a Curse for us, that he might repair the Ruins of the Fall, and become the Resurrection & the Life to a lost & perishing World.

Finally, As another signal Event in the Year of Creation was God's making a Covenant with Man, and putting his Obedience on the Trial by a special positive Prohibition, we should remember this, and subscribe to the Wisdom, the Righteousness, and the Grace of God in this Dispensation.— We should adore the Sove­reignty and Holiness of God, in leaving Man to his own muta­ble Will in this Case, and permitting him to fall, thro' the Sub­tilty of the Serpent, who having first beguiled the Woman, em­ploy'd her as a Tempter and Seducer to her Husband.— And whereas, when Adam had broken the Covenant, and so (being a publick Person) had forfeited the Good of the Promise, as well for his Posterity, as for himself, a righteous God immediately began to execute the Sentence of Death upon him, and entail'd the same upon his Descendants, we must confess the Justice of God in this Punishment and lasting Monument of the first Transgression; and beware that we indulge no murmuring Thought, neither charge God foolishly. — With Regard to our selves in particular, we should solemnly realise our own Relation to that original Co­venant, [Page 23] and in Consequence hereof our Interest in the Guilt of original Sin, our being born under the Law of Sin and Death, and being by Nature Children of Wrath, as Transgressors from the Womb, as the polluted guilty Seed of a Covenant-breaker and Traitor against God. — We should consequently meditate and re­alise our Need (as of supenatural Grace to sanctify us, so) of a supernatural Righteousness to justify and recommend us to God, even a Righteousness adequate to the Demands of his Law and Justice, whether moral or penal; and ought to believe it an un­sufferable Prick and Vanity of Mind they are chargeable with, who go about to establish their own Righteousness, and submit not them­selves unto the Righteousness of God. — We should see therefore and own our perishing Necessity of a Mediator, to interpose be­tween us and offended Justice; even another Adam, excelling the first, and of whom he was a Figure. — We should be deeply concern'd to get Deliverance out of our natural and fallen State, as an indispensable Requisite to our true Happiness.— We should be thankful to God, that thro' his sovereign and arbitrary Grace, there is Hope in Israel for us as concerning this Thing; that altho' we were altogether born in Sin, and so under Condemnation, yet our natural State is not remediless and desperate, like that of the Angels which sinned, who are left a Prey to their own Terrors and tormenting Passions, and consign'd over to the Vengeance of eternal Fire; while we have a Saviour and a great One provided for us, and revealed to us.

We should take an admiring and most grateful Notice of the distinguishing Grace of God to fallen Man, in that when the Way to the Tree of Life by the old Covenant was shut up, He has been pleas'd to open a new and better Way by an everlasting Cove­nant, a Covenant of Pardon & Reconciliation, thro' another and better Mediator, even the Seed of the Woman; at the same time viewing this as a Device of infinite Wisdom for securing the Ends of the first Covenant, in the Glory of God and the Happiness of his People. — We should consider and admire his Compassion and Condescension in revealing to our first Parents the Purpose of his Grace, so quickly upon their Fall, even while a guilty Conscience was driving them from his Presence, and be­fore He drove them out of the Garden, where they had sinned. Thus He remembred Mercy in the midst of Judgment; and we should remember this with Admiration and Praise. — Especially ought we to be thankful for the fuller Revelation, which we are [Page 24] favour'd with, of the Covenant of Peace, as exhibited in the Gos­pel: and it should be our earnest Care, that we be not found neglecting so great Salvation, but laying Hold on the Hope set before us, instantly and without Delay. For as we are under the last Dispensation of Covenant-Grace, so our Opportunity is of uncer­tain Continuance. God waiteth, that He may be gracious. He will be gracious to whom He will be gracious: but none shall fail of the Grace of God, who take Hold of his Covenant, and chuse the Things that please Him. By Grace are ye saved thro' Faith even Faith in the Blood of Christ. This is of the first Account with God, and without it 'tis impossible to please Him. This therefore chal­lenges our first Attention and Pursuit. But then having believed in God our Saviour, we must also be careful to maintain good Works; which, done in the Name of Christ, are acceptable and well pleasing in the Sight of God; tho' being done with the Spirit of the old Covenant, from a Self-righteous Principle, and not in the Humility of Gospel-Faith, they are neither well pleasing to God, nor savingly profitable to Men, but will leave us short of final Happiness: Whereas such as believe in Christ, and obey his Gospel, shall eat of the Tree of Life, and enter thro' the Gates into the City of God. Wherefore, let us commit the Keeping of our Souls to Him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.

But thus much for the Reflections proper to be made, and the Application we should make of them to the Ends of Devotion and Practice, while we are remembring the first Year of the Right Hand of the most High, the Year of Creation.

[SECOND PART.]

I go on now to another general Head of Discourse: but having under the former indulg'd to Amplification, and by interspers'd Reflections in some Measure anticipated this Part of my Subject, I must ask your Candour while I study to forbear much of those Enlargements here, which yet the Plenty of the Things present­ing would easily admit of, and which their Dignity and Impor­tance strongly invite us to, that indeed it's difficult and self-deny­ing to be very brief on so copious, so weighty & agreable a Theme.

[Page 25]II. The Year of Redemption is also among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, and eminently challenges our Attention and Remembrance, with a supreme Regard to experimental and practical Purposes in Religion.

Here the most surprising Scenes open to our View; the rich­est, the sweetest, and most necessary Themes of Meditation offer to our Thoughts. Israel's Redemption out of Egypt, that Work of Wonder, was but a Metaphor and Shadow to this spiritual and eternal Redemption, which I now speak of. Nay, on a Variety of Accounts, this surpasses in Glory the Work of Creation it self. And some worthy Divines incline to be of Opinion, that the first Production of the Earth, and of Man upon it, was with an ultimate Design of glorifying God in the great Salvation, to be accomplish'd in Time by his eternal Son incarnate in human Nature. But however that was, undoubtedly the Work of Re­demption implies in it such astonishing Events, as speak it a more admirable Work of the Right Hand of the most High, than the Creation of the Universe. A Work it is, of the noblest Kind, and most mysterious Nature, of the highest Account with God, and the last Importance to Man; what Angels desire to look into, and what demands our most attentive Notice, constant Inquiry, and closest Application of Thought, as the main Subject of Divine Revelation, and the grand Basis of all the Transactions of Divine Mercy, the necessary Spring of a rational Hope to the fallen Crea­ture, and the primary Source of all our Religion and all our Hap­piness. Accordingly the inspir'd Scriptures frequently cele­brate the acceptable Year of the Lord, the Year of his Redeemed, and teach us to regard this as in a transcendent Sense the Year of the Right Hand of the most High. Besure in this blessed Year are to be seen the most illustrious Discoveries of his eternal Power and Godhead, the brightest Characters of Divine Sovereignty, Strength, Wisdom, Justice, Holiness, and Truth, with an infinite Profusion of Goodness and Mercy.

This wonderful Year, in it's largest Consideration, may be said to know no End nor Beginning of Days. Even from Everlasting, it's glorious Plan of Operations was concerted in the Council of Peace: and the Execution (I mean with regard to Effects termi­nating on the Creature) will endure even to Everlasting. The Redeem'd are represented as being from the Beginning chosen to Salvation, as receiving a Kingdom prepared for them from the Foundation of the World, as called according to God's Purpose and [Page 26] Grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus, before the World began; and of Him the Scripture saith, He verily was fore­ordained before the Foundation of the World, but was mani­fest in these last Times.— Also in Point of Futurity, the Salvation which they obtain, is call'd Eternal, and the Kingdom they are appointed to, is call'd Everlasting. So that this immense Year takes into it's Reckoning both an antecedent and a consequent Eternity. Now all the Wonders of this Year of the Lord, whether the Objects of Reflection or Prospect, are just Objects of our Thought, Belief and Remembrance. Even those primitive Won­ders, which reach back to an unknown Distance before the World began, ought not to be unregarded by us, but solemnly notic'd, and study'd, and apply'd to their practical Purposes in Reli­gion: for these belong to the Doctrine which is according to God­liness, to the Mystery of the Faith which we are to hold in a pure Conscience, and to the Form of sound Words, which nourish the believing Soul to Life eternal. They are not jejune and empty Points of Speculation; nor is the meer Theory, without a Care of practical Use in the Divine Life, to be rested in. — However, under the present Head, I have my Eye immediately to the Year of Visitation; the Aera's of special Discovery and Communication of redeeming Grace, and more particularly the distinguish'd Dis­pensation of Christianity. Of this Period the Scripture saith, It is the last Time; and speaks of it in that emphatick Language, Now is the accepted Time, Now is the Day of Salvation. It calls it by way of Eminence, The acceptable Year of the Lord. All the Characters of celebrated Years under the Mosaick Dispensation are united here, with a surprising Glory. 'Tis the Year of Re­demption, the Year of Release, the Year of Liberty, the Year of Plenty, the Year of Rest, the true Sabbatical Year, the Year of Ju­bilee, to the spiritual Israel. A happy Year indeed; a truly won­derful Year, and of long Continuance, even in it's most limited View, lasting from what the Scripture calls the Fulness of the Time, until Time shall be no more.

Within this famous Gospel-Period we meet with very glorious Events, and astonishing Facts, which proclaim it a most memora­ble Year of the Right Hand of the most High. I shall now single out some cardinal Instances, worthy of your perpetual Remem­brance, and more easily applicable to the best practical Purposes in Religion.

[Page 27][1.] There's that comprehensive Article of the Impetration or Purchase & Procurement of Redemption; including the Incar­nation of the Son of God, his Obedience & Sufferings, his Ministra­tion on Earth, & following Advancement to Heaven. — Here's a rich Collection of admirable & unparallel'd Events, Divine in their Original, mysterious in their Nature, of the most difficult Accom­plishment, & of the last Consequence, both in Reference to God's Glory & Man's Happiness: which are Considerations, that suffici­ently argue the Year of Redemption to be among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, and powerfully recommend it to our solemn Notice and frequent Reflection.

1. The eternal Word, the same which in the Beginning was with God, and was God, now stoop'd to assume the inferiour Nature of Man into most intimate and ineffable Union with his Divine Person. The Word was made Flesh, and tabernacled among Men. He who was in the Form of God, took on him the Form of a Servant, empty'd himself of his super-angelick Glory, and vail'd it under the Cloud of Humanity. Conceiv'd by the Power of the Holy Ghost, he was born of a Virgin, made of the Seed of Da­vid according to the Flesh, and in all Things made like to his Bre­thren; nevertheless without Sin. The Scripture saith, How can he be clean, that is born of a Woman? yet here's an Instance (but indeed the single one) of a Birth perfectly pure and immaculate▪ Here's a Babe, the holy Child Jesus, compass'd with all our natu­ral Infirmities, yet escaping our hereditary moral Disease, com­mon to all the World beside! And which gives us the Rea­son of this, here's the Son of God become the Son of Man, by an incomprehensible Conjunction of Divinity and Humanity, the most distant and unequal Natures, in one Person. Mysterious and marvellous Event! Without Controversy, great is the Mystery of God­liness, God manifest in the Flesh. This was a Divine Peculiarity; truly a new Thing under the Sun, and without a Precedent in uni­versal Nature; the Device of immense Wisdom, and the pleasing Wonder of heavenly Intelligences, who came down on Earth to be Attendants of the Birth of Jesus, and usher'd him into the World with their joyful Acclamations.

2. Yet the Son of Man came not to be ministred unto, but to mini­ster, and to lay down his Life a Ransom for many. He pass'd thro' astonishing Scenes of Humiliation, from his very Birth to his Burial; by the Meanness and Difficulty of his Condition in the World; by the Temptations of Satan; by the Contempts and [Page 28] Cruelties of Men; and above all by the Agonies of his Soul un­der the Hidings of his heavenly Father's Face, who spared not his own Son, but it pleased the Lord to bruise him for our Iniquities, and lay upon him the Chastisement of our Peace, that by his Stripes we might be healed. — Yet all was on Christ's Part a volun­tary Humiliation, with a View to accomplishing the Ends of his mediatoral Undertaking. The Lord of Glory, being found in Fashion as a Man, humbled himself, and became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross. Having in Character of the second Man, the last Adam, become Surety for his spiritual Seed, which God had given him in Promise, and having engag'd to make Re­conciliation for the Sins of the People, to satisfy offended Justice on their Behalf, and by a valuable Consideration to purchase eternal Redemption for them, it consequently behov'd him to fulfil the Law, in it's whole Demand, both penal and moral: as also it became him for whom are all Things and by whom are all Things, in bringing many Sons unto Glory, to make the Captain of their Salvation perfect thro' this active and passive Obedience. Nor was the Law ever to that Degree magnify'd and made honourable, as by these extra­ordinary Means; either in it's Precept, which the Man Jesus compleatly observ'd, or in it's Penalty, which he sustain'd the full Weight of, that so he might bring in Everlasting Righteousness, an adequate Price for the whole Good of the Promise, and impu­table to the chief of Sinners for Justification of Life. — Here's the Wisdom of God in a Mystery! And Love, that passes all Under­standing! Sure only infinite Wisdom cou'd project this admirable Expedient for the Redemption of Sinners; which reconciles the different Propensities of Justice and Mercy, in Relation to guilty Man, and renders the Purpose of Grace consistent with the Rights and Honours of rectoral Holiness. And only infinite Love cou'd be the Spring of the Father's sending his only begotten Son, to be the Propitiation for our Sins! — Nor cou'd it be less Love in the Son of the Highest, to submit to what he underwent for our sakes, in being made under the Law and fulfilling all Righ­teousness, in becoming a Man of Sorrows, in being numbred with the Transgressors, appearing in the Likeness of sinful Flesh, and bearing our Sins in his own Body on the Tree. Unparallel'd Hu­miliation! Mysterious and amazing Grace. He who knew no Sin, was made Sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him. The Lord from Heaven condescended to cloath himself in all the Livery of Guilt and Shame, that we might [Page 29] inherit Glory. He stoop'd to suffer for Sins (not his own, but ours) the Just for the Unjust, that he might bring us to God. He abased himself to be made a Curse for us, that he might recover the for­feited Blessing, and restore that which he took not away. So did Christ love his Church, as even to give his Life a Ransom for it, and purchase it with his own Blood. An inestimable Expence! A plenary Satisfaction! and proclaiming an immense Love! — These are some of the Wonders of Christ's humbled State, re­specting him in the Office of a Priest, or Mediator of Atonement; which indeed principally demands our Attention. His Name was called JESUS (which signifies a Saviour) because he should save his People from their Sins. This his Name, with the Reason of it, was given before his Conception, by an Angel from Heaven sent to notify it to the Mother of our Lord.

3. There were other Things, very marvellous, in his Ministration on Earth in Character of a Prophet and of a King, which also claim our Consideration. In these Capacities he perform'd an admirable Part, tho' differing from that he acted in the other, and consisting chiefly in the manifesting forth his Glory. Even during his State of Humiliation, the Sun of Righteousness darted out upon the World some bright and benign Rays thro' the interposing Vail of his Flesh. The private Life of Jesus, his Childhood and Youth particularly, was distinguish'd by some surprising Speci­mens of his superiour Wisdom, and convincing Evidences of his Favour with God, which rais'd great Expectations from him, and presag'd his future Ministry and publick Appearance. And as the Time drew nigh, that he should be made manifest unto all Israel, an extraordinary Prophet was sent of God (the predicted Har­binger of the Messiah) to go before his Face in the Spirit and Power of Elias, to bear Witness of the rising Light, and to make ready a People prepared for the Lord. Therefore came John bap­tising with Water, prophesying of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the Sin of the World, & pointing him out to the People. At the Baptism of Jesus, when the Heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended, like a Dove, and abode upon him, the Baptist saw the wondrous Appearance, and bare Record that this is the Son of God.— Also on that and other Occasions, a Voice was heard from the excellent Glory, testifying of the Son of God, and calling Men to believe in him. — The Works likewise which he wro't, bare him Witness: nor was he without a Testimony in the Consciences of Multitudes, that flock'd to his Preaching, and were astonished at [Page 30] his Doctrine. For, as contemptible a Character as now it is with many, the humble Jesus disdained not to be a Preacher of the Gos­pel: but published the Salvation, which he himself is the Author of, with his own sacred Lips, as well as by the Mouth of his Apostles. It at the first began to be spoken by the LORD; and was confirmed to us by them that heard him. He in Person went about doing Good, to the Souls, as well as Bodies of Men, and carrying the glad Tidings of Peace into all Corners of the Land; abundant in Labours, full of Zeal, Courage, and Prudence; the Wonder of the despis'd (but often more discerning) Populace, tho' set at nought by the Rulers. Indeed, worthy of a Teacher come from God, he taught as one having Authority; and not as the impotent Doctors of that degenerate Day, but as a Prophet, yea, and more than a Prophet; confessedly, speaking so as never Man spake, with a super-human Light and Demonstration, with a Divine Majesty and Energy, in Sermons, Parables, and Expositions; silencing all his Adversaries and putting them to Confusion; vindicating the Law of Moses from the corrupt Glosses of the Scribes & Pharisees, opening the Scriptures of the Prophets, and shewing how they all pointed to him, the Messiah, as their common Centre. — He had also the Gift of Prophecy, as well as of Interpretation; and foretold very important Events, respecting himself and others, which that Generation saw accomplish'd.—Besides the Prophetick Spirit, he shin'd in all the Glories of the Spirit of Supplication. As he was a Prophet mighty in Deed and Word before all the People, so likewise before God; both mighty in the Scriptures, and mighty in Prayers and Tears; often in the Mount with God, and wrest­ling with him day and night, as a Prince having Power with God, and prevailing; for him the Father always heard. Even on Earth he exhibited most lively Samples of his subsequent Intercession in Heaven. — He also administer'd the Office of King in Zion; dis­playing a Royal Authority and Power on numberless Occasions, and receiving the Honours due to Majesty. Even before his Con­ception, Angels foretold his having decreed him the Throne of his Father David, and prophesy'd of his reigning over the House of Jacob for ever: at his Nativity they proclaim'd him Christ the Lord; they ministred to him during his whole Abode on Earth, and after his Death guarded his Sepulchre, as humble Attendants of the Prince of Life, the King of Glory. He receiv'd Hosanna's from the Mouths of very Babes and Sucklings, even as they were admi­rably influenc'd by a Divine Afflatus; Multitudes bow'd the Knee, [Page 31] and worshipped him, as the King of Israel. — He triumph'd over all the Powers of Darkness in his forty Days Temptation in the Wil­derness; and from time to time signally baffled all the Subtilty and Malice of Hell and Earth combin'd in Opposition to him. He manifested his Glory and Greatness in scourging the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple; in striking to the Ground (by the Majesty of his Countenance, or some powerful secret Influence) those that came to selfe him in the Garden of his Agony; & in recovering Peter from his guilty Fall, by a Look of his compassionate Eye amidst the Sorrows of his afflictive Trial. — At his Transfiguration on the Mount, when his Face shone as the Sun and his Raiment glister'd as the Light, behold, there were with him two extraor­dinary human Attendants from the invisible World, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in Glory, and talked with him of his Decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem; and the Disciples pre­sent saw his Glory and the two Men that stood with him.— Further, he perform'd solemn Acts of Regal Power & Empire, in setting up sacred Ordinances to be observ'd in his Church, and prescribing Rules for conducting the Affairs of his visible Kingdom; in in­stituting a new Gospel-Ministry, and sending forth the Apostles, inspir'd with miraculous Gifts, to preach and act in his Name; in calling to him whom he would, and baptising them with the Holy Ghost, in forgiving Sins, in casting out Devils, in healing all manner of Diseases, in raising the Dead, and doing these Things by an absolute Fiat: the Lord commanded the Blessing; He spake, and it was done: insomuch that the People marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. — And from first to last he powerfully recommended himself, in his whole Character, by shining before the World in the Light and Beauty of a perfect, unfully'd, and most attractive Example. — He confirm'd the Truth of his Di­vine Mission and Doctrine by a Multitude of the most illustrious and unquestionable Miracles (some of them now hinted at) to which he constantly made his Appeal: and at length even seal'd the same with his Blood, in dying a voluntary Martyr to the Gos­pel, as well as Victim to the Law; for he laid down his Life of himself, as he had Power or Right to do; a peculiar Prerogative of the Son of Man, being also the Son of God. — Nor was his super-eminent Character unconfessed, even while he hung on the accursed Tree. But his Royalty was own'd by Pilate in the In­scription set over his Head, by the penitent Thief on the Cross with him, and by the Centurion and his Band that guarded the [Page 32] tragical Execution; as also by Heaven itself, in the surprising Darkness and Eclipse of the Sun, and in the miraculous rending the Veil of the Temple; — Events, that astonish'd the vast Crowd of Spectators, so that all the People smote their Breasts, and returned in deep Regret and with a solemn Dread upon their Spi­rits, on account of what had come to pass.

4. Nor is this all: but as our Lord had Power both to lay down his Life and to take it again, he soon burst the Bands of Death, neither did his Flesh see Corruption. He arose and revived, amidst Miracles and Wonders in Nature, and the Ministrations of holy Angels, declaring himself the Son of God with Power, in a transcen­dent Manner, beyond all Parallel, and above all Conception. Marvellous the Power of his Resurrection! Equal to the Merit of his Death, and a Seal to the Validity of his Sacrifice! A noble Conquest over the King of Terrors, and a glorious Triumph over the Enemies of his Cross! An Assurance to all Men of his being the Lord both of the Dead and Living, and a happy Earnest of his consequent Exaltation! — For the risen Jesus, after a few Days Tarry here below, was translated to the World above. When he had given the necessary Powers and Instructions to his Apostles, had settled the Affairs of his spiritual Family and Kingdom here, and sufficiently shewn himself alive after his Passion by many infalli­ble Proofs, he no longer delay'd his Ascension; and this was at­tended with triumphant Circumstances, as well as follow'd with glorious Consequences. While he was bidding a solemn Farewell and blessing his Disciples, he was parted from them & carry'd up into Heaven, in a Chariot of Glory: They beheld his gradual Ascent, until a Cloud received him out of their Sight; nor ceased the asto­nish'd Disciples gazing towards Heaven, and looking up stedfastly after their ascending Master, until diverted by Angels appearing and reproving them. — And doubtless 'twas amidst a numerous Host of adoring Angels, as well as with signal Triumphs over the Prince of the Power of the Air, that the victorious Saviour exchanged Worlds. God is gone up with a Shout, the Lord with the Sound of a Trumpet. — The Chariots of God are twenty Thousand, even Thousands of Angels, and the Lord among them, as in Sinai, in the holy Place. Thou hast ascended on high, and led Captivity captive: Thou hast received Gift, for Men. The ascended Jesus was received into Glory, and enter'd into the holy Place, not made with Hands, to appear in the Presence of God for his People. He is gone before, to prepare a Place for them, to take Possession of the glorious Pur­chases [Page 33] of his Cross, and by his Advocacy to procure the Bestowment of those Blessings he had bought with his precious Blood. We have a great High Priest, that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God; who, when he had by himself purged our Sins, sat down on the Right Hand of the Majesty on high, and ever liveth to make Intercession. Here's a Priest upon a Throne! The Lamb as it had been slain, crowned now with Royal Glory and Honour; hav­ing a Name given him, which is above every Name, the Author of eternal Salvation, and Head over all Things to the Church! Shining in all the resplendent Characters of an accepted and glorify'd Me­diator, as well as in the incomparable Beauties of his Divine Per­son; in all the Light of a Prophet, Merit of a Priest, and Power of a King; in all the Perfection and Dignity of the only Begotten of the Father, and the Man of his Right Hand, whom he hath made strong for himself, whom he hath set to be for Salvation unto the Ends of the Earth, and hath appointed Heir of all Things, by whom also he made and will one Day judge the Worlds.— This is the Stone, which the Builders refused; the same is become the Head-stone of the Corner. 'Tis the Lord's Doing, and it is marvel­lous in our Eyes.

Thus I have glanc'd at many of the principal Facts and Events occurring more early in the Year of Redemption. I pretend not to an exact Enumeration, much less a perfect Description. Af­ter all, how little a Portion is heard! Yet enough to demon­strate it a wonderful Year of the Right Hand of the most High, and to justify it's Claim to be remembred by us. Verily never did the Perfections of God receive such admirable Illustrations, as by these great and surprising Occurrences. His moral Attributes in particular are all display'd here with a high Hand indeed, and shine out with a Meridian Splendor. O the immense Riches of Glory! The inconceivable Height of Power! And the Depth of Wisdom, beyond all created Understanding! The unexampled Truth and Faithfulness! The transcendent Holiness and Righte­ousness! And which crowns all, the stupendous Love and Grace, relucent in Christ, and the Redemption by him! Here's inflexi­ble Justice, and sovereign Mercy, in their highest and equal Tri­umphs. Never was the Right Hand of the most High more exalt­ed, never more conspicuous, never exerted to more honourable and happy Purposes, in any of his Works, whether of Creation or Providence, than in this wondrous Work of Redemption. The Scriptures every where celebrate this as full of inexpressible Glo­ries; [Page 34] and speak of it in all the Language of Admiration. Hence the Apostle calls it, So great Salvation, as if he were at a Loss for Words to express how great and wonderful it is. — Admirable it is truly, in every View of it, in the Decree, the Contrivance, and the Execution. Admirable in its Nature, it's Properties, and it's Consequences. Admirable in Regard of the whole sacred Trinity, their sustaining different Characters, and acting each a glo­rious Part, in the Oeconomy of Redemption. Admirable parti­cularly in Regard of the prime Agent, Jesus Christ, the glorious God-Man, whether view'd in his State of Humiliation, or Exal­tation; and whether consider'd as purchasing by his Blood, as procuring by his Intercession, or communicating by his Power. This is he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, he is alive for evermore. Truly the Consolation and the Wonder is, My Re­deemer liveth! Ever liveth, the one Mediator between God and Men! His Death not more wondrous, than his Life! The Life of Jesus, in every Consideration of it, whether in the preceeding Animal State, in the subsequent Resurrection-State, while here below, or in his present Ascension-State above, exhibits to the Eye of Faith a Thousand Wonders of Grace. His Life, whether in Earth or Heaven, from first to last, is a Mediatorial Life. As he died, so he arose, and ever lives, in the Character of Redeemer. He was raised again for our Justification, after he had been delivered for our Offences: and he ascended on high to receive Gifts for Men, to prosecute the Ends of his Satisfaction, and carry on his Mediation, tho' in a different Form and Manner: Nor ceases he now in Heaven the Exercise of any one of his Offices, whether Prophetical, Sacerdotal, or Regal; but only varies the Mode of Administration. O the unsearchable Riches of Christ! — Thanks be to God for his unspeakable Gift! — Glory to God in the highest, on Earth Peace, Good-will towards Men!

In the Visions of John, the Throne of Christ is represented as having Thousands of Angels standing about it, and saying with a loud Voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive Power, and Riches, and Wisdom, and Strength, and Honour, and Glory, and Blessing. And every Creature in Heaven and Earth is bro't in joining their Doxology, saying, Blessing, and Honour, and Glory, and Power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. —It is the present uninterrupted Imploy­ment of the Blessed, and will be so in all future Eternity, to com­memorate [Page 35] Redeeming Grace. Nor can we better bestow Time now, than in beginning the Work of Heaven upon Earth.

Surely if we are to remember the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, the Year of Redemption by our Lord Jesus is not to be forgotten by us. It's Operations & Occurrences are in themselves such as deserve our utmost Care to remember them. These Things, if consider'd in their Nature and Reference, must needs appear of Weight and Dignity sufficient to intitle them justly to our most serious and frequent Contemplation. And the Author of eternal Salvation can't but be worthy to receive this Honour of a constant grateful Commemoration. — The Lord promised his Apostles, to send down the Divine Comforter, for this End, to bring all Things to their Remembrance, which he had said and done; Nor were They negligent to put others always in Remembrance of these Things, even tho' they knew them, and were established in the present Truth: which Reflections, as they plainly argue the vast Importance of the Things of Christ, so likewise our indispensable Obligation to remember the Year of the Lord Jesus. Accordingly the inspir'd Writings, wherein these Divine Wonders stand recorded, and which are the Christian's Rule of Faith and Practice, do recom­mend these Things to our Remembrance, and inculcate the Duty upon us, in all the Language of Precept and Persuasive, of Au­thority and Endearment. Not only is it a Charge to the Mini­ster of Christ; Meditate on these Things, be wholly in them, that thy Profiting may appear unto all: but the Exhortation speaketh to Christians in common, Wherefore holy Brethren, consider the Apostle and High-priest of our Profession, Christ Jesus. And again, Look­ing unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith, &c. Consider him that endured such Contradiction of Sinners against himself. — The Scriptures every where represent to us the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ, and entertain us with Discourse of the Things concerning Christ (either in the Prophecy or the History) holding them much in our View, as Things of universal Concernment and the vastest Moment, the most necessary Subjects of Meditation, and worthy to employ our best Powers of Understanding and Memory. Of them the Apostle writes in that Manner (1 Cor. 15.2.) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in Memory what I have preached to you, unless ye have believed in vain. So (Heb. 2.1.) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest Heed to the Things which we have heard, lest at any Time we should let them slip; — lest we should let them run through, or leak out (as the Original signifies) either out [Page 36] of our Memory, out of our Creed, out of our Affection, or out of our practical Regard and Use in the christian Life.

It infinitely behoves us, that we endeavour to have these Things always in Remembrance, with Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus. We should study to increase our Acquaintance with them, familiarise the Thoughts of them, labour to get and pre­serve an habitual Sense and a lively Impression of them on our Mind and Heart; often calling them to Remembrance, on all Occasions, nor infrequently employing our devotional Hours in more deliberate and solemn Meditation upon them. We should even daily seise some of our flying Moments for this delightful, this profitable, and most necessary Application of our thinking Powers; while the Men of the World let trifling Amusements and inferiour Concerns engross all their Time and Tho't. But eminently should our Minds be exercised in such Meditations on the Sabbath; a Day by divine Appointment separated to the Business of Contemplation and Devotion, and now under the Gospel to be sanctify'd especially in Remembrance of a risen Jesus. Yet more particularly the Table of the Lord invites our warmest and most engaged Meditations of Christ, his Cross, his Kingdom and Con­cerns. The Lord's Supper is in it's primary Intention a Feast of Memorial. In the original Institution, it was one Part of our Lord's sacramental Speech at the giving of the Bread, This do in Remem­brance of Me; and again distinctly at the giving of the Cup, This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in Remembrance of Me. — And indeed 'tis the very Motto of universal Christianity, the Inscription upon every Ordinance and every Duty, Do this in Remembrance of Christ. For so much is included in the just Construction of that summary Precept, Whatsoever ye do, whether in Word or Deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus. The Remembrance of Christ and Re­demption by him is a most comprehensive Duty, of the most frequent Revolution, of never-ceasing Obligation, and even run­ning thro' the whole Series of christian Practice. Nor can I see how any without this may pretend to live by the Faith of the Son of God, or to exemplify a good Conversation in Christ.

We surely forget that we call ourselves Christians, nay, even forget we are Men (rational and accountable, but apostate Crea­tures) if we forget Christ, the Mediator; whether in our Schemes of Divinity, in our Acts of Devotion, in our human Converse, or in Point of practical Regards in our moral Conduct. Nor can we remember God our Creator in any due and acceptable Manner, [Page 37] so long as we don't sincerely and truly remember God our Savi­our. Consult what the Scripture saith to this Purpose. Whose transgresseth, and abideth not in the Doctrine of Christ, hath not God. — He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father. — He that hateth him, hateth his Father also. In vain then do any pretend to venerate the Name of the One, while they slight the Memory of the Other, or are essentially defective in their Regards to it. However Men may value themselves on the Religion of Nature, or however they may boast themselves in the Law, yet if they are asham'd of the Gospel, and Enemies of the Cross of Christ (whether in Theory, or Practice) we are assuredly taught of God, that their End is Destruction. The Religion of the Gospel is the only true Religion, the only possible Religion of a fallen Creature: and this originates with Faith in the Blood of Christ, the one Me­diator between God and Men; yea, the whole Progress of it, to it's Perfection, is sum'd up in that one Word, Looking unto Jesus, or in that, Coming to God by Him. Without the Knowledge of that Holy One, and having him in Remembrance, tho' a Man lives in a Place of Gospel-Light and seemeth to be religious, his Reli­gion is vain, and he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know; be he the greatest Master in human Science, and the brightest Mo­ralist in the World, or how incomparably soever he may have profited in meer Mosaick Religion. Philosophy is vain, and Ju­daism is vain. Only the Gospel, the Religion of Jesus, is able to make Men wise unto Salvation.

Nevertheless, be our Regards to Revelation, to Christian Reve­lation, and our Reverence for the Name and Memory of it's blessed Author, ever so profound, yet if all terminates in a mere speculative Knowledge, or a mere historical Credence, and idle formal Remembrance, verily still it will profit us nothing. Says the Apostle (Rom. 10.8, 9.) This is the Word of Faith, which we preach: That if thou shalt confess with thy Mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine Heart that God raised him from the Dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the Heart Man believeth unto Righ­teousness, &c. Therefore while we commemorate the Incarnation of the Son of God, his Humiliation and Exaltation, his Mi­nistry and Miracles, his Doctrine and Pattern, his Satisfaction and Intercession, his Offices and Benefits, we must look to our Hearts, that these be really engag'd and rightly affected. It must be our unceasing Care, in all our Commemorations of Christ and Re­demption, that our Hearts be in the Business, & that we act from [Page 38] right Principles, with right Views, and in a right Temper & Man­ner. If we would remember the Year of Redemption, as we ought, this must be done under the Power of unfeigned Faith dwelling in us, actuating every correspondent Affection within, and producing all agreable Behaviours without; as well sanctifying our Conversation, yea, purifying our Souls, and transforming us into the Image of the Son of God, as putting us upon seeking to be justi­fy'd by Christ. Else we shall constructively call our Redeemer the Minister of Sin, the Patron of Hypocrisy and Wickedness. Horrid Blasphemy! And impious Absurdity! To profess, that we know Christ, while in Works we deny him! To pretend, that we remember Christ, while we have a Heart not right with him! To pretend, that we remember a crucify'd Jesus, without a Heart crucify'd to the World and the Flesh! What Inconsistencies are these! — Let us realise it, a mere mental or intellectual Remem­brance will not suffice; much less a mere labial or verbal. No, it must be a cordial and a practical Remembrance; penetrating the Heart, and governing the Life. It must be a Remembrance duly qualify'd with all those spiritual, vital, and moral Properties prescribed in the Gospel, and such as influences our whole Temper and Conduct: Or it is not a good Remembrance, such as the Lord Jesus expects and demands, nor such as he will accept from us, as a giving him the Glory due to his adorable Name and Memory.— In short, it must be a believing and fiducial Remembrance; it must be a penitential, a reverential, a loving and admiring, a thankful and prayerful, and an active, obedient, assimilating Remembrance, as well as intellective and discursive. All which Properties and Qualifications might profitably be represented in their distinct Lights: but I must not expatiate.

Now, to make some Reflections and Inferences very briefly, let it be said, —

1. We should consider the distinguishing Obligations we are under, in Point of Gratitude, to the blessed God, who has revealed these Things to Babes, when they are hid from many Wise and Pru­dent and Great in the Earth; and has given us so many precious Helps for the remembring of Christ and the Things of Christ, while Thousands in the World are sitting in the Shadow of Death, igno­rant of the Saviour and eternal Salvation. — We should esteem it a glorious Advantage, a blessed Privilege, that we enjoy, in the Word written, where the Things of our Peace are discover'd, and [Page 39] the Memoirs of Jesus the Redeemer (the most excellent, the most important whatsoever) are preserv'd; and which we have in our own Hands, in our own Language, to be our daily Counseller, and as a Light to our Path, as a Lamp to our Feet, to guide us in the Way of Peace. — It is an additional Privilege we enjoy, in the Word preached; which rehearses to us the Gospel-History & Doc­trine of Christ, from time to time, instructs us in the Knowledge of the Divine Records, and assists us in remembring those impor­tant Facts and Events, in which the Salvation of the Soul is so nearly concern'd. — We have further Helps in the Sabbath, the Sacraments, the Example of Saints, the Counsels and Reproofs of christian Monitors, and other Means (withal likewise the con­current Aids of God's Spirit) conducing to promote our Acquain­tance with Christ, & Remembrance of him; nor only serving to assist the Understanding & Memory, but likewise to assist the Cons­cience & Affections in their respective Offices, & to assist us in Point of Devotion & Practice. O how thankful should we be for such signal Advantages and Helps in this momentous Case? Happy we, if we improve the Talents committed to our Trust. — But indeed, if we are slothful Servants, if we are evil and unthankful, and found finally Strangers to a true Remembrance of the Redeemer, how aggravated will be our Guilt and Condemnation! How ex­cuseless shall we be, and of all Men the most miserable!

2. We should therefore solemnly and impartially examine into our Case, into our Experience, our Temper and Management; and inquire whether we have ever yet been bro't by the Grace of God to remember Christ and Redemption, as we ought. — Do we in our deliberate Judgment value the Memory of Christ and his redeeming Love; accounting all Things but Loss for the Excel­lency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, and looking upon them as comparatively not worth our remembring? Are we firm­ly persuaded of the glorious Realities in the Gospel-Report? And are we labouring for an increased Acquaintance with the Theory of Divine Truths referring to Christ and Redemption? Do we inure ourselves to the Contemplation, and delight in the notional Study of these Things? Nor acquiescing in mere Speculation, are we often entertaining ourselves with proper moral and practical Reflections upon them? And have we ever felt Impressions on our Hearts & Consciences, answerable to the Nature and Moment of these Divine Subjects? In brief, do we labour to apply what Knowledge and Sense we have of these Things to all their genuine [Page 40] Uses and Designs in the Christian Life, and find in our Experience the Remembrance of Christ and Redemption accompany'd with Faith and Love, Repentance and Obedience? — If so, it is a right and acceptable, a holy and happy Remembrance: If it be thus qua­lify'd and regulated, it is conformable to the Remembrance, which Christ himself has of the Year of Redemption; and to that which He has of his faithful Followers, which is always practical and benevolent, active and beneficent. — But if our Remembrance be not thus temper'd and conducted, it may rather be compar'd to that which is found in the Powers of Darkness and Spirits in Pri­son [...] who, tho' they can never erase all Ideas of a crucify'd Jesus, and extinguish the Memory of the Year of Redemption, yet have not the least Complacency in the Remembrance of Christ, or of any the Facts and Events concerning him, have not the least true Honour for the Memory of Christ, no agreable Affections, no agreable Practice; but are Haters of the Lord Jesus, Enemies of his Cross and Crown, and continually abounding in hellish In­dignities to his Name and Memory. Very little or nothing bet­ter is the Remembrance we pretend to have of the Redeemer and his Salvation, while we content our selves with an idle and empty Profession of Respect to the Memory of Jesus, without suitable inward Affections and outward Conversation and Practice. — O let us beware of Self-delusion in a Case of such vast Moment and eternal Consequence: and therefore be much in the Duty of Self-Examination, always jealous over our Hearts, nor ever con­tent our selves with any the most plausible Appearances of a Re­membrance of Christ, unless Christ be formed in us, unless we feel the Efficacy of Faith in his Blood, and find our Faith working by Love.

3. What has been said administers Occasion to mourn over the present State of the Church, from an Apprehension, that the Num­ber of such as aright remember the Year of Redemption, is compa­ratively very small. Alas, are there not Multitudes in the pro­fessing World, who neglect the reveal'd Salvation, who refuse him that speaketh to them from Heaven, who habitually forget Christ and the Things of Christ; seldom or never remembring Jesus and Redemption, in the contemplative Sense, and not at all in the prac­tical or devotional? — What shall we think of those that live in Christian and Protestant Countries, and profess a Regard to the Memory of Jesus and to his Religion, who yet entertain such Sen­timents and Opinions in Divinity, as seem irreconcilable with the [Page 41] Gospel-Report of Christ, and with the reveal'd Scheme of Redemp­tion by him, or at least appear inconsistent with a due Remem­brance of the blessed Redeemer? Are there not those who espouse the loosest Notions of God's Goodness, as if he must ncessarily love his Creatures, tho' apostate; or as if he must of Course forgive, if they relent; or as if he will by no means punish temporary Crimes with eternal Torments; and as if accordingly his absolute Mercy may safely be confided in, as a sufficient Pillar of Hope? Are there not those who have light Thoughts of Adam's Fall, and explode the Doctrine of original Sin? Are there not those who deny Christ's Satisfaction, or discard the Imputation of his Righteous­ness, and reproach the Method of Justification by Grace through Faith in him? Are there not those who assert the moral Freedom of the human Will, and the Sufficiency of the Powers of Nature to the Ends of Holiness and Happiness, without the Aids of super­natural Grace; or at least deny the uncontroulable Efficacy of the Grace of Christ in Conversion? Are there not those who are for dividing Christ, either setting up one Nature in Exclusion of the other, or one Office, or one Benefit, in Opposition to another? Are there not those who pervert the Gospel of Christ, who abuse the Doctrine of electing and redeeming Love, of imputed Righ­teousness, of justifying Faith, and of efficacious Grace, to the vo­luntary Neglect of Gospel-Means, to a Rejection of Christ's Go­vernment, to a Denial of the Necessity of Sanctification, and to a Contempt of the moral Law, as ceasing to be an obliging Rule &c? — But how contradictory are these Opinions to the Tenor of Gospel-Revelation? How subversive of the Faith of Christ? And what dark Symptoms are they upon such as wilfully harbour them, of their being criminally deficient in the Duty of remem­bring Christ and his Redemption? Such are guilty of a doctrinal Forgetting of him. And however they may multiply their Thoughts of Christ, yet since they err thus in their Conceptions of the Ob­ject, their Thoughts are so far vain, and amount not to true Remem­brance of him, in the Scripture Sense. — And among others, more orthodox in their Belief, are there not many who indulge such unhappy Tempers and Dispositions of Mind, either a Legal Spirit, and Pharisaical Pride, or a Disrelish to the Sabbath and Ordinan­ces of Christ, Formality in his Service, Weariness of his spiritual Yoke, Coldness in his Cause, and Unconcernedness for his suffering Honour, or unreasonable Prejudices against his faithful People and Servants, if not Complacency in his known Enemies, [Page 42] or too close an Attachment to worldly Things, or the Prevalence of some sensual Lusts, &c. which are palpable Evidences of their not living in the due Remembrance of Christ & Redemption? These do in Heart depart from him, and virtually forget him. — Nay, is not the visible Practice, the Converse, and the Behaviour of many nominal Christians, whether in point of Religion or Morality, such as loudly proclaims them Despisers of Salvation, trampling under Foot the Son of God; and therefore Strangers to all true Re­membrance of Jesus and Redemption? — In a Word, what Mul­titudes are there among them that name the Name of Christ, who yet do not in Heart and Life depart from Iniquity; never effectu­ally falling out with themselves for their Sins, or never humbling themselves to any Purpose, never feeling the Weight of Guilt and Misery lying upon them, under no affecting Sense of their Need of a Saviour, having no prevalent Desires after him, no Diligence in seeking him, no Zeal towards the appointed Means of Grace and Memorials of Christ, but either neglecting them, or else at­tending them only from Custom, and with a frozen Heart, ever destitute of those Graces that are fundamental to a due Remem­brance of Christ? — Now, if all these be struck off the List of such as remember the Saviour and his Salvation, how few compa­ratively will there be left in the professing World, who may justly be said to remember the Year of the Right Hand of the most High in Redemption! — This is for a Lamentation, and shall be for a Lamentation. We should mourn the degenerate State of the Christian Church, and be trembling for the Ark of God. Such as are the Friends of Christ, and Lovers of Zion, will be found thus doing.

4. Let Sinners, that are securely unmindful of Christ and his Salvation, receive Conviction and Reproof, from what has been said; and live no longer habitual and contented Strangers to Christ, and to the Remembrance of him. Alas, are there not many that call themselves Friends to the Memory of Jesus, who do not remember him in his Ways, and yet under all their Guilt are in deep Security, fast asleep in their Unbelief, and like the Men of Moab settled on their Lees! — Surely upon what has been said, Conscience (if at all awakened now) must have Lessons of Reproof and Terror to read to you: hearken to its Voice, and admit of Conviction. Oh how justly may you blush and tremble, to think of your un­grateful Treatment of the Memory of a crucify'd Saviour! And think, I beseech you, of this your transcendent Guilt. Think [Page 43] how hellish a Part you are acting, while God is not in all your Thoughts, while you lightly esteem the Rock of Salvation, and prac­tically pour Contempt on the Name and Remembrance of Jesus the Redeemer; neither with the Heart believing on him, nor with the Mind remembring, as you ought, the Wonders of his redeeming Love. Art thou a Stranger in Jerusalem, that thou knowest not these Things? or art thou an Enemy of the Cross of Christ, that thou mindest earthly Things, and carest not for the Things of Christ, the once-humbled, but now exalted Saviour! Ah, how shall you escape, if you neglect so great Salvation? Know it, I be­seech you, that now is the acceptable Time, and if you finally receive the Grace of God in vain, you will mourn at the last, when you find no Method of Escape from the Damnation of Hell. Verily if you now reject the Prince of Life, if you now (in Theory or Practice) disown the Author of eternal Salvation, and obstinately put from you the Word of Reconciliation, you do judge your selves unwor­thy of everlasting Life, you forfeit the Gospel-Blessing, you expose your selves to the awful Wrath of God, and there remains nothing for you but a fiery Law from his right Hand, to be executed upon you with untemper'd Severity. Indeed, should you die without Christ, as you must die without Mercy, so you shall have Judg­ment without Mercy. And how will you be able to lift up your Faces before the Face of Him that sitteth on the Throne, or where will you be able to hide your guilty Heads from the Wrath of the Lamb, when the great Day of his Wrath is come! Verily, the Wrath of the Lamb on the Throne will be a Wrath unto the uttermost, such as you cannot avoid, nor will be able to abide. And realise it, I intreat you, the awful Day of Judgment, that great and terrible Day of the Lord, is at Hand. Besure, the no less awful Day of Death is hastning on you apace, and may overtake you ere you are aware. Depend upon it, the Lord Jesus, that just One, observes and re­sents all your Indignities to his Name and Religion, nor will suffer himself always to be despis'd, always neglected and forgotten by you. No, but He will sooner or later quicken your Memory, ei­ther by the Terrors of an accusing Conscience here, or by the Terrors of the decisive Sentence hereafter. It's true, in Death (i. e. so far as concerns the Body rotting in the Grave) there's no Remembrance of Him: but yet the Spirit in Prison will have a keen Remembrance of a Redeemer and his Salvation, and of the horrid Affronts put upon him, which will be the very Accent of Hell-Torments in the Case of Gospel-Impenitents. Abraham's [Page 44] upbraiding Language to Dives in the Parable, Son, Remember,—was a dreadful Sound in his guilty Ears; and this tormenting Peal will be always ringing in Hell, to the unspeakable Aggravation of the, Sinner's uninterrupted Misery. O consider this, ye that forget God and despise Redemption by Jesus Christ, lest He tear you in Pieces, and there be none to deliver. — Bring it again to Mind, O ye Transgressors; remember this now, and shew your selves Men.

5. Let it be a brief Address to awaken'd Sinners, whose Con­science is already touch'd, & their Mind become something flex­ible & attentive to these momentous Affairs. — I warn you to take Heed, that you neither relapse into your old Indolence, & se­cure Forgetfulness, nor run into the contrary Extream of a des­ponding Anxiety, nor rest in any Thing short of a true evan­gelical and saving Remembrance of Christ, animated with Faith and Love unfeign'd, radicated in a vital Principle, and carrying you into real Newness of Life. You may attain to much of outward Reformation & moral Virtue, may practise much of religious Duty, and have your Affections many times not a little mov'd, yea, may be bro't to weep in the Consciousness of your Guilt & Misery, and seem to have Repentance toward God: but know it, all your Re­pentance is Legal, all your Affections false, and none of your Works found perfect before God, until there be Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, until there be a Looking unto Him whom you have pierced, and a Mourning with Self-abhorrence for Sin, in the believing Remembrance of Christ our Passover sacrificed for us. — Be not deceived; you are no Examples of a true Remembrance of the Redeemer, until you have been bro't to receive the Atonement, and live by the Faith of the Son of God.

6. Let it be a Word of Exhortation to Believers, that I may stir up your pure Minds by Way of Remembrance. — Alas, have not even you abundant Reason to be asham'd, that you are no brighter Patterns of a lively Remembrance of Christ & Redemption! Be humbled in the Reflection, that you have been so infrequent and unaffected, so cold & lifeless in your Essays from time to time at the Remembring of a once crucify'd & now glorify'd Redeemer. Consider what aggravated Guilt and Stupidity it is in you, the Saved of the Lord, to study so little these great Gospel-Mysteries; to think so seldom and so triflingly of those important Subjects, the Love of Christ, the Excellencies of Christ, the Wonders of his Person, Natures, Offices, and States, and the Benefits of his Redemption. O awake up your Glory, to sing and give Praise. [Page 45] Call upon your Souls & all within you, to bless the Lord, & not forget all his Benefits. Regret it, and be asham'd, that your Minds, pure as they be, yet want so much to be stir'd up by way of Remem­brance, and that it's so needful for as, on that Account, to write unto you, as well as speak to you often, of the common Salvation. Lay to Heart the mournful Remains of Unbelief, and of a carnal Mind, which is Enmity against God, the unhappy Source of all that speculative and practical Forgetfulness of God your Saviour, which the very best of you are too chargeable with. Beg of the Lord (as the Apostles did) to increase your Faith; to accomplish in you the Work of Faith with Power, and excite it to it's proper Actings in Remembrance of Christ and his Salvation; that the Eyes of your Understanding being more enlighten'd, your Heart warm'd and powerfully attracted by clearer and more impressive Views of his infinite Loveliness and Love, and the Greatness and Glory of his Salvation, your Eyes may be ever towards the Lord, your whole Desire & Delight centring in Him, and enliven­ing the Memory of him, that you may glory in the Cross of Christ, and remember his Love more than Wine. — Unto Prayer add the Use of all proper Means, to stir up the Gift of God that is in you. Be very conversant with the appointed Memorials of Christ; I mean his Word and Worship, one special End of which is to testify of him, to record his Works, to declare his Righteousness, and to keep his Name in Remembrance. — Call the Sabbath a Delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and the more so, as the Day is appointed unto you for a Memorial of the risen Saviour: In the Faith of the Son of God, Remember the Sabbath-Day to keep it holy. He that regardeth the Day, as he ought, regardeth it unto the Lord.—And since the Lord's Supper is eminently a commemorating, as well as a covenanting Ordinance, dare not to live in the habitual Neglect of this, as the Manner of too many is. — Be frequently searching the Scriptures, and meditating in the Divine Records Day and Night. — Be also swift to hear; and to that End be much in the Place where the Lord doth record his Name; where the Mi­nisters of the Sanctuary, who are appointed to bear his Name before the People, read the Scripture-Records of him every Sabbath-Day, and bear Record of him in their Sermons and Administrations, in Season, out of Season, preaching the Word of the Lord Jesus, dis­playing the unsearchable Riches of Christ, uttering the Memory of his great Goodness, and bringing you into Remembrance of the Ways which be in Christ. — Be much likewise in the more private Communion of Saints in Christ Jesus; of whom [Page 46] he expects, that they will be his Remembrancers, Monitors to one another, and Witnesses for him in the World; who are wont often to speak one to another, as well as to think on his Name, and who like the Disciples travelling to Emmaus, do talk together of all these Things. By such Communications you may happily find your Memory help'd, as well in the spiritual, as in the natural Sense. — Be you also Examples to others, and Promoters of this vocal and discursive Remembrance of the Year of Redemption: but always under the necessary Guards of Humility & Discretion, never suffering your Zeal to out-run your Knowledge, or to savour of Ostentation, but always seasoning your Speech with Salt, and con­versing in a Manner expressive of a devotional, and subservient to a practical Remembrance of Christ and the Things concerning him. — Let Parents in particular be daily Instructors and Moni­tors in these Things to their Children, and Masters and Mistresses to those under their Charge. It was a Law in Israel, Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children (i. e. the Words of the Law, the Doctrine of the Passover and the Types of Christ) and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine House, and when thou walkest by the Way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. So in the New Testament, it is an Injunction, Bring up your Children in the Nurture & Admonition of the Lord. Did not Abra­ham please God in commanding his Houshold to keep the Way of the Lord? And will not God be well-pleased with this in you? Will not the Honour of Christ be advanc'd hereby? Is not this given you in Charge as your indispensable Duty? Is not a pious Education one of the greatest Felicities of Youth? Mayn'd their future eternal Happiness depend on a right Improvement of their present uncertain Opportunity; as they are liable to die in Youth, and must be miserable beyond all Remedy, if they should die in their Sins? Or if they should live long, will they not by early Piety be form'd for signal Blessings in the World, and Comforts to you? And what better Method can you take to promote their Usefulness in this World, or secure their Happiness in the next, than to bring them acquainted with Christ betimes; first begging of God, that He would give them a Heart to know him, and then taking suitable Pains for their Instruction in Righteousness?—Con­cern'd therefore that they may (as it infinitely behoves them) now in their young Days know the Things of their Peace, do you speak often to them of the Redeemer, recount the Wonders of his Grace, [Page 47] and tell over the Story of the Redemption-Year, with pertinent Advices and Applications, enforced with earnest Prayers of Faith; labouring to instill into their Minds the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, and to get their Memories stored betimes, not (as is all the Aim of too many in the Education of Youth) with the Trash of fabulous Amusements, nor with the comparatively trifling En­tertainments of human History and Science, but with the glorious and important Discoveries of the inspir'd Records, especially in Relation to the great Transactions and vast Events of the Year of Redemption. Be solicitous to initiate them early in an Acquain­tance with the holy Scriptures, particularly those of the New Tes­tament, to get their Understanding enlighten'd in the Knowledge of Christ, and the grand Affair of Salvation by him: but herewith also to get their Heart suitably affected, their Conscience deeply impress'd, and their Judgment rightly and firmly persuaded, their whole Soul renewed, that they may hold fast the Form of sound Words in Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus. Therefore, for an instructive and winning Example to them, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all Wisdom; let the Name of Christ dwell on your Lips, and the Things of Christ be much the Theme of your daily Discourse, while at the same time the Grace of Christ reigns in your Hearts, and governs your Lives. — Nor satisfy your selves indeed at any Time with remembring of Him meerly in Word and Tongue, or in Mind and Speculation only; but al­ways aim at inward Devotion of the Soul, and Reduction to Prac­tice in the outward Life. Let every Duty of Religion be conse­crated to the Memory of a dear Redeemer, and done with the most explicit Regards to the Name of Jesus, with a believing Reference to his whole Name, Character, and Office, to his Merits, his Authority, his Pattern, his Spirit, &c. Yea, as it becometh Saints, let even the Actions of common Life be done after a godly Sort, by your doing them in the Name of the Lord Jesus; and this not only in Conformity to the Precepts of his Religion, not only in Imitation of his Example, nor yet only with a general View to his declarative Glory, but also with an Eye to his Righteousness and Strength, depending on Him for Ability to do the Duty of every Day in its Day, and expecting only to be made accepted in the Be­loved. This will be to order your Conversation aright, as it becom­eth the Gospel; This will be to glorify God in your Body and in your Spirit, which are his, being bought with a Price: and this is the most substantial, the most significant Remembrance of your blessed Lord [Page 48] and Saviour. I will only add here, the Remembrance of Jesus that was crucify'd, should ever have this Effect, to embitter Sin to you, but withal to reconcile you to Suffering, even for Righteousness sake; and to endear to you his Cause and Interest, his Truths and Ways, and his People for whom he died: And the Remembrance of Jesus glorify'd should make you prize his Favour, and rejoyce in his gracious mediate Presence now, and in the Hope of his glori­ous immediate Presence hereafter; longing to be with Him, where he is, to see the King in his Beauty, to partake of his Glory, and dwell in his Joy. With the earnest Expectation and Desire of this you should be solacing your own Souls, and comfort­ing one another, under all the Troubles of Life, and the Ap­prehensions of Death and Judgment. For none of us liveth to himself, or dieth to himself. But whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: Living therefore, and dying, we are the Lord's. — The Love of Christ constraineth us. — Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent we may be ac­cepted of Him.—These were the Apostle's good Professions. Let us herein be Followers of him, particularly in the Year now commen­cing; so shall it be the acceptable Year of the Lord, and whether we live or die, we shall be the Lord's.

But thus much for the first great and comprehensive Article of Wonder in the Year of Redemption. —And the second is like unto it; which yet I must more briefly consider.

[2.] Another great and memorable Wonder in the Redemp­tion-Year of the Right Hand of the most High, is the Application or actual Bestowment of the Salvation which is by Christ Jesus; comprehending the Mission of the Holy Spirit, the Light of Chris­tian Revelation, and Privileges of the Evangelical Church-State, the Success of Gospel-Means, and the Communication of all spiritual Blessings in this World, follow'd with compleat eternal Happiness in the World to come.

1. By the Application of Redemption is to be understood, in ge­neral, according to the Representation of it in Scripture, our being made Partakers of Christ, and brought into the Fellowship of the Son of God. It implies our having the vital Principle of Faith planted in us, and being thereby united to Christ, in effectual Calling: wherein the Spirit of God, convincing us of our Sin and Misery, enlightning our Minds in the Knowledge of Christ, and renewing our Wills, doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, as he is exhibited to us in the Gospel. — Particularly we thro' [Page 49] Faith receive the Atonement, and have God imputing to us Righte­ousness without Works, justifying us freely by his Grace; at the same Time also purifying our Hearts by Faith: And to as many as receive Christ, to them He giveth Power to become the Children of God; and if Children then Heirs, Heirs of God and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ. God becometh their God in Christ, and takes them for his People. So the Blessing of Abraham comes upon them thro' Jesus Christ. They receive the End of their Faith, the Salvation of their Souls. They share in the Purchases of the meritorious Cross of Christ, the Acquisitions of his victorious Resurrection and trium­phant Ascension, the Procurements of his ever-prevalent Inter­cession, and the Donations of his Royal Power and Grace. God crowneth them with Loving-kindness, in the Life which now is, but most eminently in the Life which is to come. For the Work of Application, tho' begun and carry'd on here, is not perfected till hereafter.

2. A Work this is of equal Necessity, as that of Impetration. Our Lord Jesus design'd his Humiliation and Exaltation to be subservient to this ultimate End of his Mediation. This is a ne­cessary Evidence of the Validity of his Sacrifice, and the Efficacy of his Intercession. Indeed without this, the Grace of God would be frustrated, and Christ dead in vain. The Purchase of Redemp­tion would become of none Effect to us, without the Application of it. The Glory of God and the Lamb is connected with this, and the whole Happiness of his People is immediately founded in it. It is therefore a Work of the last Importance.

3. It's a Work full of Difficulty, insuperable to all meer created Power and Skill: Nothing short of a Divine Agent is equal to this arduous Affair. The espousing of a Sinner unto Christ, the forming of Christ in him, & begetting him to a lively Hope, investing him with the Righteousness which is of God by Faith, turning him from the Power of Satan to God, crucifying the Flesh with its Affec­tions and Lusts, sanctifying the Spirit Soul & Body, transforming him into the Image of the Son of God, and translating him from his native State of Sin and Misery, to a State of Holiness & Happiness, from Unbelief to Faith, from Guilt and Condemnation to Par­don and Justification, from the Bondage of Corruption to the glo­rious Liberty of the Sons of God, from loathsome Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit to Sanctification and Honour, from Impotence to Strength, from Death to Life, and from Earth to Heaven; these are some of the Effects wro't in the Application of Redemption. [Page 50] But who is sufficient for these Things! What Man or Angel is ca­pable of producing so vast a Change in the fallen Creature! Means and Instruments indeed are employ'd in this blessed Work: but still they contribute nothing to the Effect meerly by any in­herent Virtue of their own. Neither he that planteth, nor he that watereth, is any Thing: but God that giveth the Increase. Here neither the Word written, nor the Word preached, nor Ordinan­ces, nor Providences, are adequate Causes in themselves: but intirely depend on the Action of a superior Cause, for all their Success and Efficacy. Of every Step in this great Affair it must be said, With Men it is impossible: but all Things are possible with God. And the Scriptures every where attribute the whole Work to a Divine Efficiency. If any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature; Old Things are passed away, behold, all Things are become new: and all Things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, & is in Christ reconciling the World unto Himself.— The Three which bear Record in Heaven, do all concur in this Work: The Father exercising the Prerogatives of Divine Sove­reignty; the Son performing the Office of Mediator; and the Holy Ghost ministring in the subordinate Character of the Comfor­ter. The Application of Redemption is of the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. The Spirit is the immediate Operator in this Affair: but the Son is said to send Him from the Father, and the Father to send Him in his Name. Thus the whole Trinity have a joint Causality in the Work.

4. A Work it is every way worthy of it's Divine Original; full of Mystery, and full of Glory, containing a great Part of the Wonders of Redemption; and is justly the Admiration of Heaven and Earth, as it is the Envy and the Astonishment of Hell! It is truly admirable for the Excellency of its Nature, for the Lustre it reflects on the Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Grace, and every Per­fection of God, and for the Variety, Plenty, and Value of it's Be­nefits to Man, for the Method of Operation, the Dignity of the Agent, the Aptitude of the Means, the Compleatness of the Work in the Issue, the Unworthiness of all and the peculiar Unlikeliness of many of the Subjects wro't on, the Distinction between Per­sons, Places, and Times as to the Experience of this Work, and the vast Multitude that will be found at last to have passed under it, however small a Remnant they comparatively appear in one Generation and another. — Truly the Mission of the Spirit is a most wonderful Event, as well as the Incarnation of the Son; and [Page 51] the Application of Redemption a most wonderful Event, as well as the Impetration of it: and in Regard of the one, as much as the other, the Year of the Redeemed may fitly be characteriz'd the Year of the Right Hand of the most High. The Promise of Christ was eminently the Promise in the Old Testament: but now in the New, it is the Promise of the Spirit. This virtually contains in it all the great and precious Promises of the Gospel, and is compre­hensive of all desirable Gifts, Graces, Comforts, yea, of Heaven itself. This is call'd emphatically the Promise of the Father: and every known Instance of the Fulfilment of this invaluable Promise affords Matter of Thanksgiving to God, nor ought to be over­look'd or forgotten by us.

5. Remarkable Seasons of an extensive Out pouring of the Spirit, especially claim our grateful and pleasing Remembrance. Such Seasons undoubtedly there were among the People of God in the Patriarchal Ages, and in the Time of the Levitical Law: but the Ministration of the Spirit, in it's most notable Measure and Man­ner, was reserv'd till the Time of the Messiah, and is the peculiar Glory of the Christian Dispensation. The Law came by Moses: but Grace and Truth by Jesus Christ. John prophesy'd of Christ, that He should baptise with the Holy Ghost: and this was fulfil'd in Part during his personal Ministry on Earth, among the Jews, but much more admirably among the Gentiles, as well as Jews, af­ter his going to his Father, that he might send down the Comforter.

Sure I am, 'tis a wondrous and memorable Year of Visitation, this, wherein God hath visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a People for his Name; hath visited a dark and benighted World, that lay in Wickedness, with the Day-spring from on high, with the Light of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, diffusing the Knowledge of Salvation thro' his Name far and wide, and setting up his visible Kingdom among Men, even among all Nations: nor only sending forth his Ministers, to preach unto every Creature under Heaven, and dispense the Ordinances, which He had appointed for Means of Grace, but also sending forth the Spirit of Grace, to accompany his Word and Institutions with enlightning and quickning Influences, to put Power into them, and give them Success; and thus to win Souls to Christ, place them in Possession of purchased Salvation, and bring them to Life ever­lasting. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed his People. He hath redeemed them in the Way of Ap­plication, as well as Purchase; and to that End, hath visited them [Page 52] by his Spirit, as well as by his Son. He hath visited them by the Gospel, and the Ministry of the Word, which reports the Savi­our, and shews Men the Way of Salvation: but that were to little Purpose, had He not also visited them by the Holy Ghost, sent down from Heaven, in the Capacities of a Teacher, Sanctifier, and Comforter, to preside over the Church, the Ministry and Means of Salvation, and as supreme Agent for the Son of God to impart the Benefits of Redemption to his People. And with a sovereign Liberty He communicates the same; dividing to every Man severally as He will: Yet proportioning and timing his Distributions with an unspotted Rectitude and unerring Wisdom; ever adjusting the whole Administration of his blessed Office to the Plan of Redemption, and Scheme of the Gospel, and by Con­sequence in a Subserviency to the Ends of the Redeemer's Honour and Interest, and the Redeemed's Safety and Happiness. O if we knew the Gift of God, and knew our selves, we should at once see the Necessity, the Excellency, and Advantage of the Spirit's Mi­nistration! He is an omnipresent, omniscient, infinitely wise and powerful Agent, and perfectly benign, and faithful, holy, and true. His gracious Presence is the most necessary, vital, and fun­damental Good. The richest and happiest Effects result from it, in Proportion to the Degree of it's Enjoyment. Where He sus­pends the Activity and Influence of his Presence, there is all Weakness, and Darkness, and Deadness, in the Souls of Men, and in the best of Means and Instruments: But where He di­vinely exerts the Powers of his Office and the Perfections of his Nature, there is a proportionable Strength, Light, and Life. He can surmount the strongest Opposition from Men or Devils; He can do all his Pleasure without Controul. But in the Administration of his Office He exercises an ordinate Power, regulated and limited by the Counsel of his own Will: hence, when harden'd Rebels do always resist and grieve the Holy Spirit, He righteously with­draws his forfeited Presence, and gives them up into the Hand of their own Counsel. — However, he abides with the Church of God for ever; and has been always present with his faithful Ministers & People, with his own Word & Ordinances, from Age to Age, tho' in divers Manners and in various Measures. — As the grand Design of his Mission is to glorify Christ, so since the Ascension of our Lord Jesus, the Manifestation of the Spriit has been afforded more extensively and more abundantly. Under the Christian Dispensation, the Holy Ghost has signally display'd his [Page 53] Power and Goodness, in Honour to the Son of God; has granted more eminent Tokens of his gracious Presence, been distinguish­ingly liberal in his Distributions of Light and Grace and Peace, and more frequently repeated the glorious Operations of his Hand.

In this Regard, it was emphatically the Year of the Right Hand of the most High, in the Beginning of this last and most perfect Dispensation, in the Times especially of the Apostles of our Lord. They were themselves burning and shining Lights, and in a singu­lar Manner endued with Power from on High; the Spirit of Glory and of God resting upon them in the largest Measures: and they had a surprising Success attending their Labours in the Gospel, thro' the Power of the Holy Ghost, which went with their Word. Insomuch that the Apostle writes in that Language, 2 Cor. 2.14. Now Thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the Savour of his Knowledge by us in every Place. In that Day the Labourers were numerous, and the Harvest plente­ous. A great Door and effectual was opened, tho' there were many Adversaries. Then the Kingdom of God came, not in Word only, but in Power, and in the Holy Ghost. It was a most remarkable Time of general Awaknings; and tho' there were Counterfeit Professors then, as in every Age, and not a few Instances of Apos­tacy, yet sound Conversions were uncommonly multiply'd, and the Souls of the Disciples eminently confirmed, and built up on their most holy Faith. The Word of the Lord Jesus prevailed, & grew migh­tily. Multitudes of the Jews, and even of their Priests, became obedient to the Faith. Thousands were added to the Lord in one Day: and the Partition-Wall being broken down, which had so long subsisted between Jew and Gentile, the Word of Salvation was carry'd into the Heathen World; Idols were seen falling every where before the preached Gospel, their Temples quickly demo­lish'd, the Empire of Satan in a Manner destroy'd, & the King­dom of God our Saviour set up, on the Ruins of the Devil's King­dom. Then was Christ justified in the Spirit, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the World; the Religion of Jesus trium­phant over all Opposition, the Churches multiply'd and in a flou­rishing State, the Ministry magnify'd and had in Reputation, adorn'd with eminent Gifts and Graces, and honour'd with glori­ous Tokens of our Lord's promis'd Presence. The Holy Ghost was shed forth abundantly on that Generation, thro' Jesus Christ.— This is but an imperfect Account of the Apostolick Age, agreable to the Current of the sacred Story. Now these Things were writ­ten [Page 54] for our Learning, upon whom the Ends of the World are come; that thro' Comfort of the Scriptures we might have Hope towards God, and might pray in Faith for the Return of primitive and vital Christianity, for renew'd Triumphs and an universal Spread of the glorious Gospel. With this View, these ancient Things are to be recollected by us: and those Years of the Right Hand of the most High often to be reflected on, that we may give God the Glory due to his great Name, for the Wonders of his Power and Grace in the Days of old.

Nor were the succeding Ages of the primitive Church left without the Fruit of the Spirit, and some signal Tokens of the Power of the Highest present with the Ministers of the Word, and with the Churches of Christ, in one Place and another. — But indeed (the Reflection is melancholy) there was a gradual Dying of Religion, and a partial Withdraw of the Spirit of Grace; un­til at length, in Place of the Temple of the living God, Satan obtained to have his Seat, Iniquity no longer hid it's Head, but regain'd much of it's old Empire, and the Man of Sin, that Son of Perdition, for Ages usurp'd the Throne of Christ in the visible Church; saving among a Few: for still all along God reserv'd to himself a Remnant of such as bow'd not the Knee to Baal.

But there has been a glorious Return and evident Presence of the Spirit of Christ in these later Generations of his People. A signal Year of the Right Hand of the most High it was, when the Man of Sin began to fall before the Sword of the Spirit; I mean, when the Papal Interest about two Centuries since receiv'd a fatal Shock, by the Resurrection of a long-bury'd Gospel, in sun­dry Parts of the World, and so many Nations, at the Reformation from Popery, were sprinkled from on high by the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, yea, Floods seem'd poured on the dry Ground; at a Time while some few righteous Souls, that had been groaning under the Tyranny of Antichrist and lamenting after the Lord, were ready to say, Now behold, if the Lord would open Windows in Heaven, might such a Thing be! Yet the marvellous Event was seen, to the Glory of sovereign Grace in Christ. Here was now a surprising Revival of primitive Christanity. This was a blessed Restoration indeed, worthy of an annual & perpetual Remembrance. And the Memory of this happy Year of the Lord should, under the present awful Decline of the Reformed Religion, encourage our Faith in God for the Revival of this languishing Interest among the Nations.

[Page 55]And since that remarkable Day a gracious God has at sundry Times and in divers Manners spoken to our Protestant and British Fathers, in their successive Generations; has shewn Mercy to his People, and visited them with his Salvation, in several Parts of the Christian World, and particularly in those from whence we derive our Original; granting the Gospel to be preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven, whereby the Souls of the Disciples have been confirmed, and their Number some­times gloriously increas'd, by a wonderful Progress of converting Grace. — These are Things to be much thought upon, and fre­quently recollected by us, to animate our Hopes and Wishes for Great Britain and Ireland, and for the Protestant World in gene­ral, respecting the Revival of decay'd Religion at this Day. A remarkable Season of Conversion and effectual Calling, which is the special Work of the Spirit of Grace, speaks such a Year to to be among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, worthy to be remembred by us. Conversion is a vast Event, greater than the Conquest of a City in War; yea, is mysterious and glorious even above the Resurrection of the Dead, or the Creation of the World. Be it the Conversion but of one Sinner, there's Joy in Heaven on the Occasion: much more, when Conversions are wro't in repeated and numerous Instances. This speaks it the Day of the Mediator's Power, the Year of the Lord, to be notic'd and remembred by us. — Nay, be it but an unusual Season of Conviction and Awakning of Sinners, which is the Work of the Spirit, and above the Power of Men and Means, this speaks the Year wherein it occurs, to be among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, which claim our Notice and Remembrance. We should observe and reflect on such Seasons, to raise our Ideas of the Power of the Highest, who is stronger than the strong Man armed, able to bind Satan at his Pleasure, and to rouse the securest Conscience of Man. And the Reflection on what has been seen and heard of at such remarkable Times, may serve to quicken our Prayers, and strengthen our Faith and Hope in God, for re­newed Out-pourings of his Spirit, to awaken Sinners that are at Ease in Zion; whose Case we should lay to Heart, and carry to the Throne of Grace, and whose Conviction, as it is a necessary Pre­parative to their Conversion, so (however it should terminate) would be a Witness of the Power of the Holy Ghost, would give some Testimony to the Word of his Grace, and would turn for a Testimony to the Ministers of the Word, that God is with them of [Page 56] a Truth. For (as the Apostle speaks) We are unto God a sweet Sa­vour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the former the Savour of Life unto Life, tho' to the latter the Savour of Death unto Death.

I can't but think (to come nigher home) that there was an uncommon Presence of God by his Holy Spirit, as well as Provi­dence, with our excellent Progenitors, the original Settlers of New-England. We have Reason to believe, a great Part (if not the Generality) of the first Planters of these Colonies were happy In­stances of the Application of Redemption in effectual Calling, and experienc'd much of the Spirit of Grace, in his sanctifying, teach­ing, quickning, and comforting Influences. In that Day, the Word had free Course and was glorify'd among them: God was very remarkably seen in his Power and Glory in the Sanctuary: His Blessing was upon his People: His Work appear'd unto his Servants, and his Glory unto their Children. There were many evident Tokens and are some remaining Monuments of a signal Presence of the Spirit with that Generation. It seems to be the Language of Heaven to our Israel, Thus saith the Lord, I remem­ber thee, the Kindness of thy Youth, the Love of thine Espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the Wilderness, in a Land that was not sown. Israel was Holiness to the Lord. — We also should re­member this, and not forget the former Things from the Beginning. We should recollect and realise these Things, to give God the Glory of his former Loving-kindnesses, and to enliven our Faith and Hope in the God of our Fathers, to remind us from whence we are fallen, and to humble us in that we have so left our first Love; being risen up in our Fathers stead, an Increase of sinful Men, ex­posed by our Apostacy to the fierce Anger of the Lord, except we repent. — Yet it mayn't be thought, that the following Genera­tions have been altogether without Christ, not having the Spirit, and so none of his, but the Generations of his Wrath, whom He hath utterly forsaken. No, the God of all Patience hath not cast away his People, which He foreknew: but hath been with them, in some Measure, as He was with their Fathers. And that's still the compassionate Voice of his Dispensations, even until now, towards this Vine, which his own Right Hand hath planted, Destroy it not, for a Blessing is in it: — The End is not yet. — My Spirit remaineth among you, fear ye not. — Indeed I am not inobservant of sundry threatning and humbling Aspects of the present Juncture, on religious Accounts, tho' I pretend not to any peculiar [Page 57] Skill in discerning the Signs of the Times: Yet nevertheless, upon an impartial Review of the Times which have past over us, I am not able to form any other Judgment, than that some of these later Years claim, in spiritual Respects, to be rank'd among the memorable Years of the Right Hand of the most High, ev [...] Years of merciful Visitation to this People (as well as to some other Parts of the Church of God) by a more than common Energy of the Holy Spirit, accompanying the Word of the Lord Jesus unto Numbers of Souls, through the Land, in a Way of Conviction, Conversion, and Edification. — But it's confess'd, while the Husbandman has been sowing his Wheat, the Enemy has been busy in sowing his Tares: & this Mixture of Mercy & Judgment calls us to temper our Thanksgivings on this Occasion with be­coming Humiliations; to rejoice with Trembling, and to be cau­tious that we don't ascribe any Effects or Appearances to the Spirit of Holiness, which it would be his Dishonour to be the Au­thor of; while yet we are equally cautious not to deny Him the Glory of his real Operations & genuine Fruits, of whatever Kind.

Upon the whole, the Work of the Spirit in the Application of Redemption to the Souls of Men, whether in former or latter Ex­amples, and whether extending to a greater or less Number of In­stances, is surely such a Wonder of Divine Wisdom, Power and Grace, as deserves our solemn Recognition and Remembrance. — And it is most worthy of our Contemplation, whether view'd in it's Commencement, it's Continuance, it's Progress, or it's Per­fection. For in the Upshot it will be and appear a perfect Work. Indeed it is so, in various Respects, from it's Beginning. For at the very first there's an absolute, final, universal Change of the spiritual State. The relative Change is compleated at once: it implies a perfect Union and Espousal to Christ, a plenary Pardon and Adoption, a consummate everlasting Righteousness imputed, and in Virtue of this a Fulness of spiritual Relations and Rights, an unfailing Title to Heaven and Happiness: For there is no Condemnation to them which are in Christ. And the moral Change, in Conversion, may be call'd perfect, as it extends to the whole Nature of Man in all it's Powers, and to the whole Image of God in all it's Parts. Yet it's confess'd, for wise Reasons, the Work of the Spirit in the Application of Redemption is, with Regard to some of it's Benefits, at present imperfect in the De­gree of Communication, and admits of Progress, as to all, in Point of Evidence and sensible Enjoyment. However, the holy [Page 58] Spirit will not leave his Work, in the End, so much as gradually defective: but will perform it to the Day of Jesus Christ. He will perfect the Believer's Sanctification, in the Hour of Death: and will perfect his Glorification, in the Day of Judgment. In that Day the Spirit of Christ, as Agent for the Son of God in the Administration of his Kingdom of Grace, will present to Him his Church a glorious Church, without Spot, or Wrinkle, or Defect, without Mark or Memorial of Sin and Death. Nor shall there so much as One, of the whole Number committed to his Trust, be missing in the Day when He shall bind up his Jewels. When the Names written in the Lamb's Book of Life shall be call'd over, not a single Individual shall be wanting. But there will be a full Appearance of all the Elect of God, gathered from the four Winds. There will then be a general Assembly, an universal Ma­nifestation of the Sons of God. And from that illustrious Day, their Joy shall be full for ever, their Glory compleat, and their Triumph perfect. O the unsearchable Riches of the Saints future State of Retribution! The Perfection of this speaks the Dignity of the Spi­rit's Office, and the Excellency of his Work of Application; in the Course of which He brings many Sons to Glory, and is always peopling the Kingdom of Heaven, with the Spirits of just Men, tho' in various Proportions, from one Generation to another.

Nor may we despise the present Day of small Things with the Saints, in this their militant State (imperfect as indeed it is, in a comparative View) but looking forward to the last Result of Things, when all their Gifts, Graces, Blessings, and Consolations shall be advanc'd to their intended Perfection, the Prospect of this should exalt our Idea's of the Glory of the Spirit's Ministration, & strongly commend his Work in the Application of Redemption to our fre­quent and devout Remembrance. — In the mean time let the Spi­rite in Paradise speak the Praises of this Divine Agent, and mag­nify his Work, tell the Joy of God's Salvation, and declare what is the Hope of his Calling, what the Riches of the Glory of his Inheritance in the Saints: and let their noble Pattern, who are perpetually chanting forth their joyful Anthems in Celebration of the Sanctifier, equally as of the Redeemer, attract our Imita­tion. — Or, as Contraries plac'd in a comparative Light, serve to illustrate one another, let the Horrors of Hell demonstrate to us the Happiness of Heaven; let the Spirits in Prison, by the Anguishes of Despair, proclaim the infinite Value of Christ in us the Hope of Glory. — Nay, let the Spirits in Flesh, that have felt [Page 59] the Burden of Sin and tasted the Bitterness of Death, in the Ago­nies of a wounded Conscience, speak the Worth of a Divine Par­don and apply'd Redemption. — Or let the Saints in the Earth, conscious of their distinguishing Experience, tell the Benefit of a saving Change, and say how great is the Happiness of an Interest in Christ, of Conformity to God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost. — Or let the Holy Ghost himself speak by his inspir'd Panmen in the sacred Scriptures; who every where celebrate the Communion of the Holy Ghost, as well as the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God; and appear as solicitous to re­cord the Wonders of the New Creation, as of the Old, and the Operations of the Comforter, as of the Mediator. We should observe these Things, in reading the Apostles and Evangelists; and often review the sacred Story, to entertain and affect our selves with the glorious Memoirs they have left us of the Ministration of the Spirit, which were written for our Information and Use. And if in other Writings, tho' but of meer human Original, or if in cre­dible Report, we meet with Accounts of the like Aspect, these also (in Proportion to the Motives of Credibility accompanying them) we should readily receive, and think such valuable History deserving our Notice and Remembrance. Or indeed if Instances of the Work of the spirit fall within our own Observation (much more if we our selves are happy Examples of it) we should regard the Works of his Hands, treasure up in our Memory such wonder­ful Events, and often employ our Mind in suitable Reflections upon them.

But here, as in the Case of other the Works of the Right Hand of the most High, we must take Heed, that we don't content our selves with a mere historical, and superficial, heartless Commemo­ration: but ever look that our Remembrance of these high and sacred Events be attemper'd to the Nature & Importance of them, and apply'd to experimental, devotional, and practical Purposes in Religion. I might now distinctly state the Qualifications of a due Remembrance in this Case, and say, it shou'd be —

1. With Assent and Persuasion. — None may suppose it a Fa­ble, a Fancy, or Fiction, but it should be admitted for unquesti­onable Fact and Reality, that there is a Holy Ghost. His Existence and Personality, as one of the Three that bear Record in Heaven; his Character and Office as the Paraclete, the Comforter or Ad­vocate; his actual Mission, and divine Operations, as reported to us in the Scripture-Records; these are infallible Truths, to be [Page 60] assented to on the Testimony of God in his Word. And as there are Assurances given by our Lord, that the Comforter shall abide with his People for ever; this affords sufficient Ground for a rational Belief of the Spirit's unceasing Presence with the Churches of the Saints. Why then should it be tho't incredible, that God has been wont to pour the Spirit from on High, tho' in varying Degrees, from Age to Age? Or why should we be slow of Heart to believe the Displays of his Grace in our own Times?

2. With Study and Meditation. — Not only the Dignity of the Agent, but the Weight and Excellency of the Work, as it is most honorary to God and beneficial to Man, and the Depth of Wisdom and Mystery in the Nature, Manner and Method, as well as Foundation of it, are Considerations, that conspire to shew it equally deserving and requiring our closest Attention and de­liberate solemn Contemplation. How vain the Mortals, that deem this a Subject beneath their sublime Genius; when Angels themselves desire to look into these Things, and since they are the Things of the Spirit of God!

3. With Approbation and Wonder. — The Office of the [...] is glorious in the Eyes of God and the Lamb: and his Performan­ces therein most pleasing to Heaven. The Work of the Sancti­fier, even as that of the Redeemer, is the Admiration of inquiring Angels and reflecting Saints. In the sacred Writers we have e­minently a Pattern of our Duty, who every where celebrate the Holy Spirit, his Person, Office, and Work, in Terms of the highest Applause and Wonderment. Ours, like theirs, should be an approving and admiring, as well as a believing and contemplative Remembrance. We should be pleas'd with and admire the Work of Redemption, as in it's Purchase, so in it's Application. We should admire this, as for it's divine Efficient, so for it's myste­rious and excellent Nature, and it's blessed Fruits, for the Ho­nour redounding therefrom to God and the Mediator, and the Good accruing to Man; for the dignifying & enriching Change wro't on it's happy Subjects, even in the Commencement of this Work, much more in it's final Completion. Surely the Spirit of Glory will at last be admir'd in his Temple, when he has put his finishing Hand to it.

4. With Humility and Reverence. — When we contemplate the Things of the Spirit, we must always be mindful that these are among the deep Things of God, which it becomes us ever to think and speak of with a religious Awe and Solemnity on our Mind. [Page 61] The Spirit's Breathings are liken'd to the Wind. (Joh. 3.8.) He works When, Where, in Whom, in what Way, & to what Degree he pleaseth; unconducted and uncontroul'd by Man, nor accountable or comprehensible to us. Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord; or being his Counseller, hath taught Him? Neither knowest thou the Way of the Spirit. Canst thou by search­ing find Him out to Perfection! Yet where we cannot compre­hend, it becomes Worms of the Dust to revere and adore; al­ways humble in our Inquiries, and ever ready with our Submissi­ons, whether respecting the unsearchable Mysteries of his Reve­lation or those of his Administration. Here Angels are but Students; and they set us an Example of the profoundest Veneration.

5. With Contrition and Penitence. —It should deeply abase us, to think how little the Spirit of Grace is receiv'd and honour'd in the World; and what Contempts are pour'd on his blessed Agency by Multitudes. — We should especially call to Remem­brance our own Faults; and mourn, that we have so little ac­knowledged Him in his Office, so little regarded his Works, so much slighted his Motions within us, so often rebelled and vexed the holy Spirit, and taken such unhappy Methods to quench the Spirit, both in our selves and others.

6. With Affection and Complacence. —The Scriptures mention the Love of the Spirit, as the Duty and Property of the Believer; and recommend Joy in the Holy Ghost, as one of the Fruits of the Kingdom of God. Our Commemorations of the Spirit and the Wonders of his Administration should be animated with Love, to his Divine Person, to his sacred Office, to the Subjects of his blessed Work, and to the Means and Instruments He employs. And our Love must operate by Desire towards Him, by Delight in Him. We should be pleas'd with the Honours done Him by Others, and solicitous that He may also be glorify'd in us. We should lament his Absence and rejoice in any Tokens of his Pre­sence with us; long for the perfect Communion of the Holy Ghost in the heavenly World, and the Prospect of this should be a present Refreshment to us under all the Darknesses & Grievan­ces of our imperfect State on Earth.

7. With Thanksgiving and Praise.— We should be thankful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, whether in former or later Times, and whether to our selves or others. Every such Occasion merits our grateful Acknowledgements, to the Father, to the Son, & to the Holy Spirit. Angels now sing Hallelujahs; & we should bring [Page 62] our Tribute of Praise. The primitive Christians, and particularly the Apostle Paul in his Epistles, have left us an Example, worthy of our Imitation.

8. With Faith and Hope. — The Remembrance of what the Spirit of Holiness hath been and done in his Office, should en­gage us to an Affiance in his Power and Grace for further Bene­fits to our selves and others. And viewing Him as the Spirit of Promise, we should look to Him for the Fulfilment of the Promi­ses, both respecting particular Believers, & referring to the Church in general, it's flourishing State in the last Days. Former Expe­riences should encourage future Expectations. Is the Spirit of the Lord straitned? Or are we straitned in Him? No, but in our selves.

9. With Prayer and Intercession.— It must be a prayerful Re­membrance. Even Believers need to pray for the Spirit. Our Lord directs to and encourages the Prayer of Faith, in those Words to his Disciples (Luk. 11.13.) If ye, being evil, know how to give good Gifts to your Children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask Him? The Remains of moral Evil in God's Children argue their continual Necessity of a fresh supply of the Spirit: and the Compassion of their heavenly Father, with whom is the Residue of the Spirit, should prompt them to ask Him. Nor should we only be Sup­pliants for our selves, but Intercessors for others also; especially bearing upon our Heart the Case of the Church of God, pleading his Wonders of old, and putting in Suit at the Throne of Grace his precious Promises; begging that He would appear in his Glory, and build up Zion; that He would hasten the expected Times of Reformation and Enlargement of the Church, when the Arm of the Lord being reveal'd in a very powerful and exten­sive Manner, it shall no longer be the Prophets Complaint, Who hath believed our Report! But a Nation shall be born in one Day, and the Voice of Admiration be heard, Who are these that fly as a Cloud, and as the Doves to their Windows!

10. With Frequency and Perseverance. — In Proportion to the Dignity and Importance of the Subject, we should abound in our serious Thoughts upon it: and as the Meditation is of constant Use, we should be constant in the Duty; Not only in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, but so in some Degree every Day. How can we, as we are required, be praying always in the Holy Ghost, and walking in the Spirit, unless we keep in Memory, and habitually [Page 63] keep up in out Mind a lively Sense of the holy Spirit, his Existence, his Office, and Influence?

Lastly, With a correspondent Life and Course of Action, re­specting both the inner and outer Man. — Our Remembrance of the blessed Spirit, his Office and Agency, which participates in the Holiness of his Person, is never genuine and effectual, un­less we are bro't to resemble Him in the moral Complexion of our whole Man, unless we are conform'd to Him in the Tempe­rature of our Hearts and in the Tenor of our Lives. But if having begun in the Spirit, we are walking after the Spirit, sowing to the Spi­rit, living according to God in the Spirit, thro' the Spirit mortifying the Deeds of the Body, purifying our Souls in obeying the Truth thro' the Spirit, in the Current of our Dispositions and Deportments led by the Spirit, and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit, in all Good­ness, Righteousness, and Truth; This is a true vital and practical remembring of the holy Spirit; this is to be our selves the Monu­ments of his Office and Specimens of his Work, this is to represent Him in his moral Perfections by the Image thereof in our selves, and to honour Him in his Administration by an active Homage and Conformity, which demonstrates our Faith a living Principle, and shews our Religion to be of a Divine Texture. These practical Regards are a necessary Evidence, that we are of those to whom that noble Characteristick belongs (Rom. 8.5.) They that are af­ter the Spirit, do mind the Things of the Spirit. The very Nature of these Things, and their Place in the Scheme of Redemption, speaks their nearly concerning us, and their directly tending to influence our whole Temper & Conduct: so that it's absurd to suppose, they should be minded at all truly, if they be not minded practically. Where there are no Impressions and Effects corre­sponding to the Nature and Moment of the Things of the Spirit, Men do not properly mind them, but rather treat them as Things of Indifference and Impertinency to them.

Now by Way of Use (omitting many Inferences) I shall only offer the following Hints.

1. It's Matter of sorrowful Reflection, that the holy Spirit, his Office and Agency in the Application of Redemption, are so much forgotten (either doctrinally and speculatively, or virtually and practically) in the professing World: and when we consider the Impieties but of one Year, it may well make us wonder, that He hath not utterly forsaken this evil Generation. — An absolute, total, and final Dereliction would be but a just Punishment upon an [Page 64] unbelieving and unthankful, a resisting and rebelling World. Surely then under the present melancholy Appearance of a partial Desertion, we should ascribe Righteousness to our Maker; and admire his Patience, in sparing Sinners from one Year to another, notwithstanding the Guilt they are contracting, by multiply'd and aggravated Indignities to the Spirit of Christ.

2. Let it be a Word of Reproof and Warning to Sinners, that amidst all their Guilt are yet secure, and at Ease. — Are there any here present, that to this Day are (both in the speculative and practical Sense) forgetting the Spirit of Grace, and his Agency in the Business of Salvation? May Conscience now awake to it's Office, and reduce you to Consideration, before it be too late! As saith the Holy Ghost, To Day if ye will hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts. Dread that awful Charge lying against you, Ye stiffnecked, and uncircumcised in Heart and Ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. Be not deceived: It is a fearful Thing, to fall into the Hands of the living God. Nor can you expect any other End, unless you should be chang'd and born of the Spirit: for if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; and with­out Christ, no Salvation. Enter now, I beseech you, upon this new annual Revolution of Time with affecting and humbling Thoughts of your Need of a new Heart; which only the Spirit of God can put within you, and without which you are but spend­ing your Years as a Tale that is told. Consider, for ought you know, that awful Word may be fulfilled in you, This Year thou shalt die. Yea, begin the Year with fearful Apprehensions, lest while you are vainly dreaming of many Years to come, and saying to your self, Soul, take thine Ease, a righteous God should say to you, as to him in the Parable, Thou Fool, this Night shall thy Soul be required of thee! Therefore boast not thy self of to Morrow; for thou knowest not what a Day may bring forth. Let me persuade you to entertain these startling Reflections, and no longer doze on in foolish Security: but let the Terrors of the Lord rouse a stupify'd Conscience within you. — And let Fearfulness surprise the Hypocrites in Heart; who, under the Power of a flattering Con­science, are thinking your selves Something, while you are Nothing. Verily if the Hand of God has not been strong upon you, to pluck out the Right-Eye-Lust and to cut off the Right-Hand-Sin, to write his Laws on your Heart, to put his Spirit into you, and to form Christ within you; then is your Faith vain, and your Hope but Presumption, you are yet in your Sins; and whatever Pre­tensions [Page 65] you may make of a Regard to the Spirit, and an Experi­ence of his Work, you but delude your selves; and remaining in your present Case, you may read your Doom in those tremendous Words, God shall smite thee, thou whited Wall! — Let these Re­flections excite us all to examine into the Condition of our Souls, without Partiality and without Delay. Let it be our solicitous Inquiry, Have we ever yet in any Year of our Life experienc'd the Power of the Holy Ghost? Has there a Year of the Right Hand of the most High passed over us, wherein we have had the Spirit of Grace applying Salvation to our Souls, working Faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ, in effectual Calling?—But let no Man deceive himself. If you do not walk in the Spirit, & mind the Things of the Spirit, if you are Strangers to all true devotional & practical Remembrance of him, you have evident Tokens upon you of your not being among them that shall be Heirs of Salvation.

3. Are there any awaken'd Sinners among you? Such, I mean, with whom the Spirit is now striving, and whose Conscience is something alarm'd & affected with a Sense of Guilt & Fear of Wrath; O be thankful to God, who has not given you a Spirit of Slumber, nor suffers you to sleep as do others. And cherish your Convictions, as of infinite Moment to you. Do nothing to silence a reproving Conscience, and to shake off troublesome Fears, as the Manner of some is. Beware of stupifying Sensuality, of stupifying Company and Conversation; and guard against every stupifying Opinion, loose Thoughts in Religion, light Thoughts of Sin, Entanglements in the World, &c. Quench not the Spirit. —Nor rest in any common Work of the Spirit: but be anxiously con­cern'd to have the vital Principle planted in you, whereby you may believe to the saving of the Soul; And let Nothing satisfy you short of Christ, made of God unto you Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanc­tification, and Redemption.— Don't give way to Delays in an Affair of such vast and eternal Consequence; Nor let any Discourage­ments drive you to desponding Conclusions; let no Impediments stay your earnest Inquiries after Christ and Salvation, by the Spi­rit's Application thereof to your Soul. Seek the Lord [...] be found. The Good of the Attainment will abundantly compensate for the Pains and Trouble of the longest Pursuit. And perad­venture this Year may be the acceptable Year of the Lord, the happy finding Time. This, my Friends, is what I heartily wish you. Then it will be a happy Year indeed; a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, to be for ever remembred by you.

[Page 66]4. Let Believers recollect their spiritual Experiences in the Year past, to give God the Glory: and begin this new Year with all suitable Tempers & Behaviours. — Seriously review the Dealings of the Spirit with you in Time past, and particularly in the Year now concluded, that you may glorify God by all due Acknow­ledgements. Has it been the happy Year of your Conversion? Or of your Edification in Christ? Has it been a Year of Growth in Grace? Or of Joy and Peace in believing? Have you had any profitable and pleasant Sabbaths, Sermons, Sacraments, Family-Duties, Closet-Devotions, and pious Conversations? Have you had merciful Restraints from Sin, Assistances in the Christian Life, Answers of Prayer, Supports and Consolations under Trou­bles, or a Sense of Covenant-Kindness sweetning temporal En­joyments, &c.? Now think these Things over, sing the Praises of sovereign Grace, and give the Spirit of Christ the Glory of his blessed Agency in & for you. But be humbled in the Reflection upon all your sinful Neglects and Dishonours to his Name. — And be solicitous, that this new Year may open with new Disco­veries of the Things of the Spirit, with new Experiences of his Power and Grace, and new Evidences of his dwelling in you. Begin the Year with lamenting the sad Remains of Darkness and Corruption in you, and with an earnest Care of Improvement in vital Piety, with solemn Self-Dedication to God, with renewed Vows of a more close Walk with God; and to that End, with pathetick and believing Supplications for the Renewing of the Holy Ghost, without whom you are Nothing and can do Nothing. Be importunate with God, that the Year now beginning may be very remarkably a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, in a general Reviving of his Work among his People; and in special, that you may be filled with the Spirit. Pray for the Spirit, to fill every Ordinance and every Providence, to fill the Ministry of the Word, to fill the House of God, and to fill your Closet, &c. that you may make happy Advances in Soul-Prosperity & holy Fruit­fulness. — Nor content your selves in the Absence of the Com­forter at any Time, but aspire after the Joy of the Holy Ghost, that you may in this and every remaining Year serve the Lord with Gladness of Heart. — Be you after the Spirit, in point of Con­formity to Him and Pursuit of Him; and both contemplatively and practically mind the Things of the Spirit. So you will be pre­pared for all the Events of the Year; and may be chearful Ex­pectants of Sufferings, and of Death and Judgment. — In fine, [Page 67] you that are Parents, what can you better wish for your Children, than that God would make this a happy Year to them by pouring out his Spirit upon them, so bringing them to mind the Things of the Spirit; which will form them to be Blessings in this World, and prepare them for eternal Blessedness in the next?

But I shall add no more on this Subject. Another Head of Discourse remains, which I must dispatch with an unwilling Haste and Brevity.

[THIRD PART.]

III. Years of Remarkable Providences, in a way of temporal Salvation and Mercy, are also Years of the Right Hand of the most High, to be remembred by us.

Indeed this Character is, in providential Respects, properly enough applicable to every Year. For the same almighty Hand, which originally formed all Things, still supports and governs the Universe, from Year to Year; perpetually superintending the whole Circle of Causes and Effects, in every System of his Crea­tures, natural and moral. The World is his, with the Fulness thereof: and his Eyes are always upon it, from the Beginning of the Year, even to the End of the Year. The Day is his, the Night also is his, and He keeps up their alternate Succession thro' out the Year. The Number of it's Months is with Him, and He continues their regular Series, with all the Variety of their Com­plexion, Produce, and Influence. He revolves it's different Sea­sons. Summer and Winter, Seed-time and Harvest, Cold and Heat, have their yearly Returns by his Appointment and Efficience. The Heaven, Earth, and Sea, the Sun, Moon, and Stars, Fire, Air, and Elements, with their various Powers, Motions, & Ope­rations, are all under his supreme Dominion, his continual Direc­tion, and Controul. He perpetuates the distinct Species of cre­ated Beings, maintains their Order and Dependance, & excites, suspends, or limits, and over-rules their respective Virtues and Actions, according to the Counsel of his own Will.—He preserveth [Page 68] Man and Beast, and giveth Food to all Flesh. He ruleth in the Kingdoms of Men, and is the Governour among the Nations, presid­ing over all the Affairs and Interests of Societies and Persons, dis­pensing all that Variety of temporal Good, which brightens the Year from Time to Time. Our annual Preservations and Deli­verances, Successes and Supplies, our daily Benefits, Supports, and Comforts in every Part of the Year and Period of Life, are the Results of a vigilant and bountiful Providence. Nor is there a single Year, how little soever distinguish'd by uncommon Occur­rences, but what is replenish'd with the Mercies of God and with mysterious and vast Events, that witness to his Being, Perfecti­ons, & Government. So that even the most common Years may with Propriety be stiled Years of the Right Hand of the most High: and the Instances of his Care and Kindness from Year to Year, in ge­neral, are numerous and significant enough to deserve our grateful Acknowledgements, and a frequent serious Recollection, with a View to the practical Returns expected from us. God requires, that we regard the Operations of his Hand: Vast are the Advan­tages of doing this, but equal the Mischiefs of neglecting it. God hath a Book of Remembrance written before Him, wherein are re­corded all his Providences, and all our Improvements: and e'er long He will call us to a Reckoning, nor shall we be able to give an Account of our Stewardship, with Joy, and not with Grief, unless we practise that Observation and Remembrance of his Dealings with us, which make up so great a Part of the Duty of the Christian Life. Whoso is wise, will observe these Things. Nor indeed with­out first observing, shall we be able to remember them: & without remembring them, we shall but evilly requite the Lord.

But still some Years are distinguish'd in Providence, and by Way of Eminence claim this Character in our Text: which therefore we ought to set an Afterism upon, and signalise in our grateful Commemorations. There's a Diversity of Years, even as a so­vereign God is pleas'd to change the Times and Seasons. Some are made remarkable by Judgments: nor are these to be unheeded or forgotten by us. But our Text points at Years of a contrary Aspect, brighten'd with prosperous Events, & recommended to our delightful Remembrance by benign Dispensations, wherein the Goodness of God appears with a superiour Lustre. Sometimes a particular Year has glorious Distinctions put upon it, by great Deliverances, or notable Preservations; sometimes by signal Victories, and Successes in War, or else by the more desirable [Page 69] Restoration of Peace; sometimes by the Recovery or Increase of Political Liberty, by a happy Administration of Civil Go­vernment, and wise Conduct of the publick Affairs; by a re­markable general Health, & Multiplying of the People; by a large Produce of the Husbandry, by the Flourishing of Trade, & Prospe­rity in Business; and as the Consequence of all, by an uncommon Flow of temporal Blessings, as well for Conveniency, Delight and Ornament, as for Subsistence and necessary Use. — Be the Year signalis'd in any of these Regards (and much more, if in all or many of them) it is to be reckon'd among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, crowned with his Goodness, and claiming our Remembrance.

God hath in the Scripture-History given us lasting Memorials of his wonderful Works in ancient Times, which we should of­ten review, with serious Meditation: Nor should we slight the Memory of less distant Ages. We should remember and con­template God's Works of Kindness to the World in general, and towards his Church in special; but more particularly his Mercies to that Branch of it in Great Britain, and in these American Re­gions, where we dwell.

If we reflect on the Story of New England, whether respecting it's Beginnings or Improvements, we shall find some of the most wondrous Works of God presenting themselves to our View, great Salvations and great Benefits, worthy to be had in everlasting Re­membrance. We should frequently look back on the first Times of New England, and not forget those Years of the Right Hand of the most High. Such, in an impartial View of the Case, were those distinguish'd Years, wherein our pious Forefathers flying from the Face of Persecution and Oppression, God gave them Deliverance, sought out a Place of Retreat for them and for their little ones, bro't them safe over the wide and dangerous Ocean, and planted them here in a good Land, by his own Sword driving out the Heathen Natives to make Way for his People, and honouring them with eminent Tokens of his gracious Presence, Protection, and Bene­diction. — Nor has He been a Wilderness to the succeding Ge­nerations; but his Paths have been Mercy and Truth toward his People, even unto this Day, when for our great Degeneracies He might justly consume our Years in Trouble. Tho' there have been Years wherein we have seen Evil, yet have there been also Years of favourable Visitation: we have fasted and seen that the Lord is good, and have experienc'd the saving Strength of his Right [Page 70] Hand. O that it may be our Care to obviate that Reproach, which the Israelites incur'd, They sang his Praises, they soon forgat his Works! And may there never be Ground for that Complaint against this People, There rose up another Generation, which knew not the Lord, nor the Works that He had done for their Fathers!

Now to single out a few very memorable Times, and not go back beyond the Memory of many yet alive: — Never to be forgotten is that glorious Year 1688, signalis'd as a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, by that most seasonable Interposition of Divine Providence in the wonderful REVOLUTION; delivering us from the Perils we were in of Popery and Slavery, two of the most comprehensive Mischiefs, and securing to us our invaluable Laws and Liberties, the Rights of Conscience, and the Religion of Protestants. — Again, Never to be forgotten is that glorious Year 1714, signalis'd as a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, by the happy and most seasonable Accession of the illustrious House of HANOVER to the British Throne; Preventing that imminent Danger the Protestant Succession (in the Fate of which all our valuable Interests must be involv'd) was in at that Juncture, when deep-laid Plots of Papal Enemies and false Brethren threatned to subvert it; and surprisingly disconcerting all their subtil and malignant Schemes, but happily delivering the Nation, the Protestant Dissenters in particular; and promising us the uninter­rupted Enjoyment of our religious and civil Immunities and Pri­vileges, under the Protection of a Train of Protestant PRINCES; and by the establish'd Succession to the Crown taking Place thus seasonably & with this auspicious Circumstance, giving a fair Pros­pect of extinguishing the Hopes of a Popish Pretender, and therewith our Fears of a Popish Government.—Once more, Never to be forgotten is also the glorious Year 1745, signalis'd as a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, in the marvellous Re­duction of CAPE-BRETON, by a few New England Troops, co­ver'd by a small British Squadron; an Event, wherein much of GOD signally appear'd, his Right Hand was lifted up, and his Arm wro't valiantly, our Enemies themselves being Judges; an Event truly, if view'd in all its Circumstances, scarce parallel'd in modern or ancient History (exclusive of Miracles) and promising rich Advantages to the British Dominions, by a just Improvement of so important an Acquisition, if annexed (as I wish it may be) to the Crown for ever. — In fine, Never to be forgotten is the won­derful Year 1746, signalis'd as a Year of the Right Hand of the [Page 71] most High by a Variety of his mighty Acts; in particular by the Sup­pression of the late horrid and traiterous REBELLION in Scotland; and by wondrous VICTORIES, which, we presume, have broken the Power of our Enemies in Italy, and greatly strength­ned the Hands of our Allies; as also by the most surprising Salva­tion wro't for New England and these British Colonies, in de­feating the late grand Enterprize of our French Enemies against us (that under the Conduct of Duke D'ANVILLE) when they ap­pear'd on our Coast with a formidable Armada, and vast Naval Armament, with a considerable Body of Land-Forces on board, and Thousands on Shoar waiting to join them, breathing Slaughter and Ruin, and bent on Revenge for the Loss of Louisbourg. But happily for us, happily for Annapolis in particular, how did God disappoint their Hopes, and blast their Undertaking! By repeated Storms, scattering, breaking, or disabling their Ships; By Sick­ness, destroying a Multitude of Lives (among the rest, cutting off their Commander in Chief) and greatly reducing their Strength; By dividing their Counsels, and turning their Wisdom into Foo­lishness; By intimidating them with the Prospect of Vengeance (hu­man, if not Divine) pursuing them; & by all hastning them back, with Sennacherib's Fate, loaded with Confusion and Distress; without suffering them to execute any the least Branch of their vindictive Design against us, & indeed without suffering us to give them the least Obstruction. — Here was the Finger of God! We stood still, and saw his Salvation; and it was marvellous in our Eyes. Well may we set up our EBEN-EZER, and say as Samuel on a like Occasion, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. Surely his Name is a strong Tower, and his Presence a Wall of Fire round about. Some trust in Chariots, and some in Horses, in Fleets and Armies, in Fortresses and Artillery: but we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God. When our Enemies and our Foes came upon us to eat up our Flesh, they stumbled and fell. They are brought down and fallen. The Snare is broken and we are escaped. They intended Evil against us; they imagined a mischievous Device, which they were not able to perform. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us a Prey to their Teeth. We will praise Him, for he hath heard us, and is become our Salvation. Verily the Right Hand of the Lord hath been exalted: & hath done great Things for us, whereof we are glad. Let us declare his Works with Rejoycing; record them in our Memories, and hand down Memorials of them to Poste­rity. Yet let us rejoyce with Trembling, sensible of the Frowns [Page 72] mixed with the Smiles of Providence, and fearful of forgetting and abusing the Mercies of God, of forfeiting and losing them, and careful to apply the Remembrance of them to it's genuine de­votional and practical Purposes. Let the Experiences of Years past serve to animate our Faith and Hope and Prayer in reference to Years future. When under discouraging Prospects, let us check our Unbelief and Despondence; and say with the Psalmist in our Text, This is my Infirmity; but I will remember the Years of the Right Hand of the most High. — And let us take good Heed to ourselves, lest we forget the Lord our God, in not remembring his Testi­monies, and in not keeping his Commandments, which He hath shewn us in his Word, and has been enforcing in his Providence, by many obliging and endearing (as well as chastning & mortifying) Dispensations. It was a Divine Admonition to Israel of old (Deut. 8.) Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his Sta­tutes— Lest when thou hast eaten, and art full, and hast built goodly Houses, &c. then thine Heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord.— But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee Power to get Wealth. — O that there were such an Heart in us, and in all this People, thus to remember God, in remembring his Commandments, to do them, that it might go well with us and with our Children for ever!

But I must not forget, there are Salvations and Benefits of a more private Reference, by which particular Years are often made peculiarly memorable to subordinate Societies, Families, and Per­sons (even in a Time of publick Troubles) and in which God ex­pects, that those so distinguish'd do see and remember his Hand, his good Hand upon them. As therefore we should frequently review our passed Years, in general, so let us in particular reflect seriously this Day on the last Year. Has it been a Year brighten'd with singular Blessings and Salvations to any of us personally, or to our Houses, or the little Communities we are specially concern'd in? Has the Year been discriminated by prosperous and happy Occurrences, or merciful Preventions of Accidents and impend­ing Calamities; by remarkable Measures of Health, or Recove­ries from dangerous Sickness; by uncommon Success in Business, or signal Preservation of any important Interests; by an uninter­rupted Series of comfortable Enjoyments, or seasonable Supply of our Wants; by eminent Degrees of social Happiness, or new Accessions of relative Advantages, &c.? We shou'd then enrol it among the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, to be [Page 73] solemnly remembred by us. And accordingly we should on this Occasion (as they, 1 Chron. 16.) record and thank and praise the Lord God of Israel: remembring his Works that He hath done, we should give Thanks to his holy Name, and glory in his Praise.

Yet I must again remind you, that not a mere oral Commemo­ration, nor a mere indolent abstract Remembrance, will suffice. But if we would wisely consider the Doings of the Lord, as it should be a deliberate, universal, and permanent Consideration, so it must be sincerely pursu'd to it's genuine Ends, be accompany'd with grateful Sentiments and Affections, and be productive of all correspondent Practice. We should highly value the Divine Fa­vours done us; admire the merciful Kindness of God to us; and think of it with an inward Sense of Gratitude, Love, and Delight; yet also with humble Reverence and godly Fear, in the Apprehen­sion that He who has done such great Things for us, is able to do as great Things against us, and will, if we are evil and unthankful. We should fear the Lord, & his Goodness. When I consider (said pious Job) I am afraid. — At the same Time while contemplating what God has done for us, we should recollect what we have done for Him. Let us then examine our selves: Have we been sui­tably improving the Divine Patience to it's holy Ends, and bring­ing forth Fruit with Patience, while God has spared us in the Year past? Have we been using our Liberty, Plenty, Health &c. to the Honour of God? Have we been doing Good in our Places, and abounding in the Fruits of Righteousness? Have our Souls prospered, and been in Health? What Conquests have we gain'd over our spiritual Enemies? What Progress have we made in the Race set before us, under our distinguishing Advantages? Are we now forwarder in this, than we were a Year ago? Thus, while considering God's Ways, we should also consider our own Ways. This implies no Confusion of Ideas, but the different Meditations are well consistent; and the different Passions, springing from them, have a Congruity and Subserviency to one another, & con­spire to promote the same solid and substantial Purposes in the Christian Life. — The Goodness of God, with which the Year has been crown'd, leadeth us to Repentance; and as He remem­breth all our Sins, so should we remember our Faults this Day, and mourn them as so many practical Contempts of his Providential Kindness to us in the Course of the Year. — And now, solicitous that we mayn't transfer uncancel'd Debts into another Year's Account, we must remember and consider CHRIST, our Passover [Page 74] sacrificed for us; and be acting Faith in Him, that by the Blood of Sprinkling we may have our Sins blotted out. As we should on this Occasion pay our Acknowledgements to Christ in his Regal Character, eye Him as having the Reins of Providence in his Hand, and own Him the sovereign Dispenser of all our Blessings; and as we should do Him Honour in his Priestly Office, by con­fessing it intirely owing to his mediatorial Interposition, that we have thus long been repriev'd from Hell, & that our Years on Earth have not been all darken'd with Calamity and cover'd with Hor­ror; and should accordingly give Thanks to his Name, and by Him offer the Sacrifice of Praise to God: So we should at the same Time be receiving the Atonement, which this our great High Priest hath made once for all, and which needs not to be repeated as that under the Law was every Year, but is of abiding Virtue from Year to Year, and always applicable for the Remission of Sins. — Yet not con­tenting our selves with a Faith that only looketh back, we must now also look forward to the Year & Time ensuing, and exercise Faith in Christ, both as the Lord our Righteousness & our Strength; looking to Jesus, for Grace to help in every Time of Need, to for­tify us against future Temptations to Sin, and enable us to glorify God by a good Conversation in Christ, that we may still see his Sal­vation. We should now be renewing the sincere Consecration of our Persons, our Time and Talents, to the Service of God, with a humble Reliance on CHRIST; going forth in his Strength, and making Mention of his Name, even of his only: persuaded by the Mercies of God, we should now present our Bodies a living Sacrifice, resolve upon the obeying his Will, & the diligent Imitation of his perfect Example, by doing all the Good we can in our seve­ral Places: but to this End we should earnestly ask for the Sup­ply of the Spirit of Christ, from a Consciousness of our own Insuf­ficiency, as of our selves, for this Obedience of Faith and Life of Gratitude. — And thus entring on the new Year, we may trust it will be a happy Year to us. The Experiences of one Year may and should in this Case encourage us to hope in God for the needful Mercies of another Year. The Evidences we've al­ready had of his Goodness, Faithfulness, Wisdom and Power, should engage us to confide in his Providence for the Year & Time to come, should establish our Hearts amidst all the Shakings of the World, and check our uneasy Apprehensions, tho' we see Clouds and Darkness gathering all around us.

[Page 75]But still let us begin the Year with solemn Acts of unfeigned Resignation to the Will of a sovereign God, as to all the Events of it; mindful of the Changes we are liable to in a mutable World, and not vainly presuming on the Continuance of Life and Prosperity, so as to forget our Dependance on God, and neglect the Duty of Submission to his Pleasure, as the Manner of some is, whom the Apostle has admonish'd (Jam. 4.) Go to now, ye that say, To Day or to Morrow we will go into such a City, and continue there a Year, and buy and sell, and get Gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the Morrow; for what is your Life? It is even a Vapour, that appeareth for a little Time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that. — Alas, how frequent are the Instances of Mortality? How many round about us, in the Space of a Year, have had their Days number'd and finish'd? And have any of us that survive, a Lease of our Lives, that we should allot on continuing a Year lon­ger? In all Probability some (if not many) of us will never see another New Year's Day: nor indeed are we sure of Life for an Hour or a Moment. O let us begin this Year with the affecting Thought, that our Breath is in God's Hand, that the Time is short, that the Night cometh wherein no Man can work, & our Opportunity is awfully uncertain. — You that are in advanc'd Years, had Need walk circumspectly, not as Fools, but as Wise, redeeming the Time, because the Days are evil: and such of you as have hitherto for­gotten God, had need hasten to remember Him, since the Graves are ready for you, and in Death there is no Remembrance of Him.— You that are in middle Age, and have to this Day been loving the World, but despising your Souls, and disregarding the Years of the Right Hand of the most High, O how long, ye simple ones, will ye love Simplicity, and hate Knowledge! Now pity your neglected Souls, and mind the one Thing needful, a Part in Christ. What is a Man profited, if he gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul? An Interest in Christ will in a dying Hour be worth ten Thou­sand Worlds to you. — And you that are in younger Life, but walking in the Way of your own Heart and in the Sight of your own Eyes, serving divers Lusts and Pleasures, will you not be per­suaded to a just Concern, that now without Delay you may have Grace whereby to flee youthful Lusts, and remember God in the Days of your Youth! Surely the Time past may suffice you to have pursu'd the Pleasures of Sin: & know it, that you, as well as others before you, may die in Youth, and if your Life be found among the [Page 76] Unclean, tho' your Days on Earth be few, yet the Days of Dark­ness shall be many, & the Iniquities of Youth and Childhood will be re­paid with the never-expiring Horrors of eternal Judgment.

And now, it there be any among you, whether elder or young­er, awaken'd to a serious Solicitude for your Souls, O turn you to the strong Hold, ye Prisoners of Hope, that by the Blood of the Cove­nant ye may escape out of the Pit, wherein is no Water. Are you solemnly affected with the Apprehension, that this may be your dying Year, and inquiring what you shall do to be saved? Let it be your instant Care to get into Christ by Faith, and so into a justify'd and sanctify'd State. Thus you will be in an habitual Readiness for Death; and if you should die this Year, it will be a Year of Salvation to you. — Yet let not Believers, who are al­ready in this State of habitual Readiness to die, rest contented with any present Attainments, but be labouring to get and keep in the best Posture of actual Preparedness for the great Change, so, whenever it comes, it will be not only a safe and happy, but a welcome and joyful Change to you. God's Call to you this Day is like that to good Hezekiah, Set thine House in Order, for thou shalt surely die. But however (like him) you may deprecate dying young, or dying speedily, perhaps the God of your Life may deny your Request, and not defer your Death, as in his Case, for fifteen Years, nor yet for fifteen Months. It may be your Lot, as well as that of others, not to be suffered to continue by Reason of Death, so much as for a Year, or a Week, or even a Day longer. Be ye ready (watch and pray) for ye know not the Day nor the Hour. — It was Job's wise Resolution, All the Days of my appointed Time will I wait, till my Change come. Let this be the Purpose of our Heart this Day. Now waiting im­plies the being in a State and Frame of Readiness. Let us ac­cordingly be waiting for our Change, in the daily Expectation of it, and a daily Preparation for it; giving Diligence to make our Call­ing and Election sure. Then, tho' we should die quickly, or suddenly, we shall die safely, and may hope to die triumphing in Christ, who has disarm'd Death of it's Sting, and turned the Curse into a Blessing to his People. Our dying Year will truly be a blessed Year to us, a Year of the Right Hand of the most High, a Time of Love, and follow'd with an Eternity of Bliss, with Ful­ness of Joy at God's Right Hand for evermore. AMEN.

FINIS.

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