Iniquity purged by Mercy and Truth. A SERMON Preached at GRAFTON, October 23d, 1768. Being the Sabbath after the Execution of ARTHUR, A Negro Man, at Worcester, aged about 21. For a RAPE.

By AARON HUTCHINSON, M. A. Pastor of the Church of Christ in said GRAFTON.

Published by Desire of some of the Hearers.

Mercy and Truth are met together.

PSAL. lxxxv.10.

—Ride prosperously, because of Truth, and Meekness, and righteousness.

PSAL. xlv.4.

And in Mercy shall the Throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in Truth, in the Tabernacle of David, judging and seeking Judgment, and hasting Righteousness.

ISAI. xvi. 5.

BOSTON, NEW-ENGLAND: Printed by THOMAS and JOHN FLEET, at the HEART and CROWN in Cornhill, 1769.

[Page 3]

Iniquity purged by Mercy and Truth.


By Mercy and Truth Iniquity is purged.

IT is a point established by the reason of mankind, and by the divine authority of the holy scriptures, that the glory of God is his ultimate end in all his works, of creation, providence, and grace. No higher end can possibly be proposed, and all reasonable beings must be allowed to act upon the highest princi­ples, and most exalted views. God is the first cause and last end of all things.

And as his glory is his end in all his works, so he is sure never to be baffled in his designs, nor frustrated in any of his means devised for his own glory. His wis­dom counterplots, and his power controuls, all the coun­sels of men or devils, and maketh their wrath to praise him.—A remarkable instance in mankind—Sinners. Our first father sinned, and came short of the glory of God; lost the moral image and favour of God; and it seemed as if God had made mankind in vain. But O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Man's apostacy is God's opportunity to declare his glory, and shew the exceeding riches of wisdom and grace.—Divine mercy hitherto hid in God from angels and men, now appears to both; free abundant mercy and divine pity to the miserable. Now shall mercy be built up forever, and God will declare his righteousness, in the remission of sin, by the great propitiation, and through the tender mercies of our God. Yea, God will [Page 4] exalt himself in all the displays of unmerited grace, and shew forth the glory of holiness, in a consistency with mercy to sinners, maintain and vindicate the honor of truth, and magnify the law and make it honourable, and shew himself a God in his pardoning mercy, and all without the least wrong to his name and honour; yea, with the most perfect harmony of all his moral attributes, in our redemption by Christ.

A thread of justice runs through the whole web of his administrations. Justice and judgment are the habi­tation (or basis) of his throne. A God of truth, and without iniquity: His tender mercies are over all his work [...] and truth are interwoven in the whole plan of our redemption, cordially unite in all the works of regenerating grace, and are manifest in all the dispen­sations of divine providence towards his people.

And all that, by efficacious grace, are made partakers of the divine nature in its glorious properties, being re­newed in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, have in these a resemblance to God, they are holy as God is holy, merciful as their Father which is in heaven is merciful; true and faithful, doing justice, loving mer­cy, and walking humbly with their God; are imitators of God as dear children, being influenced by mercy and truth, in all their conduct in the world. And, as they have experienced the divine power of truth and mercy, they are sanctified through the truth, and clean through the word that Christ hath spoken; have an heart of flesh; being tender-hearted, of a compassionate and for­giving temper; and under the divine influence of mercy and truth, they go on cleansing themselves from all filthiness, both of flesh and spirit, until they finish their sanctification in the fear of the Lord. God will send forth his mercy and his truth to preserve them, and more and more purify their hearts by faith, till their iniquities shall be sought for and not be found. For as for their transgressions God will fully purge them away in the blood of the Lamb, who appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

[Page 5]These happily furnish them with the meekness of wis­dom, that wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercies and good fruits; whereby to deal prudently, in all their endeavours for a reformation, in the land, in the churches, or in their own families.

We propose to give the text it's full scope and latitude, shewing how God by mercy and truth purges iniquity; then how we are to be herein imitators of God.

God purges iniquity by mercy and truth in our re­demption, in regeneration, and in his providential dispen­sations. Mercy and truth unite in the whole scheme of our redemption, and in every line of the gospel cove­nant. They both meet in the person of Christ. He is a merciful and faithful high-priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people: Merciful to men, and ever faithful to his Father, saved the honour of divine truth, law, and justice; and opened a way for mercy to be displayed, to the glory of all the other moral attributes of God. Grace and truth both came by Jesus Christ; and mercy is built up forever; and truth, or the covenant faithfulness of God, establish­ed in the very heavens. All his divine love and pity, in which he redeemed us, never moved him to discharge one guilty soul, otherwise than as satisfaction be made for his offences. So he indented with the traitor: If ye seek me, let these go their way, q. d. justice requires not double payment. If the surety be arrested and pay their debt, let them be discharged. All the sounding of his bowels and mercies never prompted him to give up the honour of truth and justice. All his conduct on earth evinces that he was faithful to his Father, as well as merciful to mankind—sinners. Faithful to him that appointed him, as a son over his own house: as the faith­ful and true witness, he bare witness unto the truth, and at last sealed it with his blood; yet shewed all that tender pity to men, consistent with unshaken con­stancy in the truth. And though he knew well that [Page 6] God was gracious and merciful, slow unto anger, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, yet he never made the least motion to have him clear the guilty, by any means short of full satisfaction; and thus submitted to drink the bitter cup: Father glorify thy name; thy will be done.

Mercy and truth are conspicuous in his death. Mercy beyond expression; a love stronger than death, which all the waters of afflictions could not quench, nor all the floods of ungodly men drown. A love passing know­ledge. He loved the church and gave himself for it. His sacred regard to truth runs parallel with his dying love. Let me die the most shameful, bitter, and accursed death of the cross, rather than that divine truth be vio­lated, or the rights of justice in the least infringed. The surety suffers. There is no abatement. Truth is un­changeable. The soul that sins shall die, and if one died for all, then all have died * in their surety; and God is a just God, and a Saviour: just, and yet justify­ing the ungodly: and his truth endureth throughout all generations.

Mercy and truth are happily united in all the great and precious promises in Christ, which are yea, and in him amen, to the glory of God. Mercy in promising and truth in performing. God helps his servants, as ever mindful of his covenant, and in remembrance of his own mercy. God that cannot lie hath promised. His mercy promised to the posterity of Abraham the old Canaan, his truth performed it, so that there failed not ought of all the good he had promised to Israel, so all the new covenant promises of pardon of sin, of grace and glory, are from mercy; and all these words of grace are forever settled in heaven, and God hath magnified his word above all his name, making it a special point of his divine honour, to be as good as his word. And truth, as well as grace, will appear glorious indeed, when God has accomplished his whole work on mount Zion, and it shall appear, that there hath not failed ought of all that good promised to his true Israel, in all the sacred volumes of the gracious covenant.

[Page 7]By mercy and truth God purges iniquity in regene­ration. These by the divine spirit, taking hold of us, purge away our sinful inclinations. By mercy wrought on us, and having a sanctifying influence upon us, iniquity is purged away.

Truth first takes hold of the conscience of the unre­generate sinner. He is convinced by the law as a trans­gressor. And he is obliged to own, that the law, by which he is condemned, is holy, just and good. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Thro' the law, he becomes dead to the law, and sees nothing but destruction before him, he sees no possible way for mercy to be displayed. But God from the throne of grace, shews the riches of abundant mercy, and a way to display that mercy thro' the Son of his love, consistent with truth and justice: the soul is then bowed to truth, and falls before the mer­cy-seat, sprinkled with blood; approves justice and truth in the law of God; and how sweet is divine mercy streaming in the blood of atonement! he accepts re­demption thro' his blood, the forgiveness of sins, accord­ing to the riches of his grace; and sees something of the divine wisdom and prudence, in adjusting matters so, for our salvation, as that the riches of grace are the more glorious, for flowing to sinners thro' the bleeding veins of a crucified Redeemer. Hence a change in the nature. Free mercy melts the soul to unfeigned repentance; to become merciful and forgiving to all but himself. At the same time to reverence the truth, and adore the jus­tice, and love the law of God, because it is pure. Thus are we made partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world.

They, that being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted to the righteousness of God, do not unite mercy and truth, but trust to truth in a mistaken sense, without mercy. And secure sinners that presume, because God is merciful, they shall not be damned; do trust to mercy in direct contradiction to truth. They see [Page 8] not that mercy is holy. And neither of these have any just notion of divine mercy or truth. But all that, under a work of the Holy Spirit, have these united in their hearts, are in a measure sanctified thro' the truth, have their hearts turned to hate sin, and love holiness; to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Their faith worketh by love to God, and all mankind. They have that charity that hopeth all things, that rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. And while they love, not only saints, with a pure heart, for the truth's sake that is in them, and all mankind in general, with a tender, ingenuous benevolence, and even their most malignant enemies; they cannot endure that which is evil; but hate their work that turn aside; it shall not cleave to them. Yet, ever tender to other persons, and are willing to cover a multitude of sins in them, if it may be consistent with truth and justice.

Thus Joseph, the reputed father of our Lord, find­ing Mary his espoused wife with child, and not know­ing it to be by the Holy Ghost, being a just man, was minded to put her away privily, and not make her a public example, or expose her to death as an adultress. His very justice, tempered with mercy, engaged him to conceal the private espousals, that she might suffer no more, than for simple fornication.

Being convinced of their own transgressions, how they have exceeded: and being melted, with that great mercy, which has forgiven them ten thousand talents, and de­livered their souls from the lowest hell; they learn to have compassion on their fellow servants, even, as the Lord has had pity on them. And all the personal wrongs and injuries, they may receive from their fellow creatures, appear to them scarce an hundred pence, compared with their wrongs to God; and which they now can readily forgive. Their sins and ingratitude to God, their sins against heaven and in his sight, appear so great, that the wrongs of men, to them, appear as nothing.

[Page 9]Thus David could hear, without any considerable resentment, all the cruel cursing of an abandoned Shimei. Behold! (says he) my son which came forth of my bowels seeketh my life, and how much more may this Benjamite do it! Christ has been broken with my whorish heart, how much more may my heart be broken with the re­proaches of men! Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Lay not sin to their charge. These have truth in their inward parts; and blessed are these merci­ful, for they shall obtain mercy. They forgive men their trespasses and their heavenly father will also for­give them. That iniquity, which used to harden the heart against God and men, is now in a measure purged away, and these Israelites indeed, in whom is no allowed guile, shall finally be redeemed, with all God's true Israel, from all their iniquities.

By mercy and truth God purges iniquity in his pro­vidential dispensations towards his people. He purges his floor and refines his people, not only by his word and spirit, but by the mixt dispensations of providence, calling them to sing of mercy and judgment: visits in wrath, and in that wrath remembers mercy; stays his rough wind in the day of his eastwind; and by this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away sin. God doth not mete out a cup of naked inexorable justice to them, without a mixture of mercy; nor yet of mercy, without truth and justice; but sends forth both mercy and truth to preserve them. Thus in wrath he visited Israel in the wilderness; but being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were flesh: He is a God that forgave them, though he took vengeance on their sinful inventions. God answers the prayers of his people, and gives them what they need; but not without some terrible things in righteousness, to strike an awe upon them. He corrects them, but it is in judgment, and a merciful mitigation, not in his anger, [Page 10] so as to consume them. He puts them into the furnace, melts them and trys them; but there knows their souls in adversity, carries them thro' fire and thro' water, and brings them out into a wealthy place; visits their trans­gressions with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes, but his loving-kindness he doth not take from them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail. He chastises his people, but not according to their iniquity. But as fathers pity their children under the smarting rod of a just correction, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. And after his fatherly rebukes and discipline, often comforts his peo­ple, as a child whom his mother comforteth, by wiping away the penitent tears, excited by her own tender and faithful correction. So God corrected Solomon, but did not take his mercy from him, as he took it from Saul. If his people are, in a just severity, put away into a mi­serable captivity in Babylon; yet such are the Lord's mercies, that they are not consumed; yea, they are vi­sited in mercy, and brought forth out of those their graves, and come again to their own land.

These mixed dispensations are much for the divine glory, and which are very much the delight of the su­preme ruler. God often conducts in this manner to­wards sinners, as well as saints, towards the world, as well as the church.

Thus a sinner is chastened with pain on his bed, and by pining sickness, brought nigh to the grave; but taught out of God's law, as well as corrected; and the rod and reproof give him wisdom; he is withdrawn from his sinful purposes, and pride hid from him; his ears opened to discipline, and instruction sealed to him; he is effectually convinced of God's righteousness, and of his own wickedness, accepts the punishment of his iniquity; then he is gracious unto him, delivers him from going down to the pit of destruction, thro' the divine inven­tion of that ransom provided for our souls; and in love to his soul delivers him from the grave, and his eyes see the light. Lo! these, and such like things, God works [Page 11] oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit of hell, and his life from the destroyers.

Of all the events of providence, represented Zech. 6th chap. by four chariots, coming out from between two mountains of brass, i. e. from those counsels and decrees of heaven, as immovable as mountains of brass; of all these none seem so pleasing to God, as those in which were mixt coloured horses, denoting the mixt dispensations of providence: These going towards the north country, quieted his spirit (i. e. appeased his anger) there. They served to vindicate his name, and maintain the honour of his rectoral righteousness, and shew his tender mercies to be over all his works. And were exactly adapted to re­form, and bring to repentance, and so to purge iniquity.

And even to the dark places of the earth, that are full of the habitations of cruelty, God leaves not himself without witness of his goodness, in giving them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.

We are now to shew, how we are herein to be imi­tators of God, and unite mercy and truth in all our en­deavours for the purging of sin. Not by mercy alone without truth, nor by truth alone without mercy; but both by an amiable union. And this we are to observe, as heads of families, members of a christian church, or of civil society. As heads of families, we should put away iniquity far from our tabernacles; command our children and houshold after us, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. And here, if we would do any thing to purpose, a parental tenderness and justice must be at an even ballance. We must not, by an un­merciful kind of haughty severity, provoke our children to wrath; nor yet, by a false pity, by a foolish fondness, and mistaken tenderness, spare the rod. The former would discourage them, and break their spirits, and spoil their manhood; and the latter be more pernicious to them than hatred itself; and both these extremes tend rather to encrease sin, than to purge it. But tenderness, justice, [Page 12] love and faithfulness, sweetly tempered, and united; an affectionate tenderness to their persons, and a just hatred to their sins, will, if any thing, prevail to amend our chil­dren, and keep them from those excesses too incident to our thoughtless, inconsiderate youth and children.

As members of a church, we are to unite truth and mercy. The great, important truths of the gospel are not to be given up; but these truths must ever be spo­ken in love. A pure gospel, and truth in it's native sim­plicity, must be firmly and stedfastly maintained, but with unfeigned tenderness to the children, and even to the enemies of the truth; but must never be given up out of complaisance to any in the world. Buy the truth and sell it not. But in the discipline of the christian churches, truth or justice must not be strained to the wrong of [...], but in a godly discipline, mercy must temper our judgments respecting the miscarriages of others. And many lesser failings may be passed over with a "peradventure it was an oversight." And all proper allowance is to be made for the natural infirmities of others: And we that are strong must, with a generous compassion, bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please a self-sufficient temper in ourselves. Children in a family are to be born with, but not so far as to be suffered to rule the house: Let all your things be done with charity, is especially wholesome and necessary in all brotherly duties. No ill will must influence: The truth of facts must not be given up; but mercy as much as may be mitigate the strictness and severity which justice and truth may seem to demand: the golden rule of our Saviour, of doing to others, as we would in a like case, they should do unto us, is, if it can be, more bind­ing in matters of church discipline than in common mo­rality. If a brother be overtaken in a fault, we must put ourselves in his soul's stead, and restore him with the spirit of meekness, considering ourselves, and as we should think it reasonable to be restored; and remem­bering that, if the Lord should strictly mark iniquity, [Page 13] no flesh could stand in his presence. We should imitate the patience and long-suffering of God, and his ready forgiveness.

"He saw their flesh was weak and frail,
"He saw temptations still prevail;
"The God of Abraham lov'd them still,
"And led them to his holy hill."

Eli's mercy had no truth or justice in it, except in too gentle and cold reasonings; while he honoured his sons above God. The truth or justice of Diotrephe [...] was intolerably severe, to refuse the brethren recom­mended by an Apostle, forbidding them that would, and casting them out of the church. And why all this mer­ciless severity, but the petty differences betwixt the jew­ish and the gentile christians? The old saying is hereby verified; extreme right is extreme wrong. But all that set truth and purity before peace, and judiciously unite them, take the direct way to church purity. For God himself purges away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and blood of Jerusalem, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

Thus also, in civil society, all that would do any thing to purpose for purging the iniquity of a nation or land, must be sure to proceed with truth, mercy and justice. It is a sad time, indeed, when there is no truth nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. Sin will be the reproach and ruin of such a people. But where these prevail, righteousness will exalt a nation or people.

Suppose our ministers of justice, in their superabound­ing mercy, should spare the vilest criminals: No evil would be put away, and they would bear the sword in vain. Vice would be daring, and the wicked walk on all hands; and men would treat the civil ministers, as they treat their God; and because sentence against their evil works, is not speedily executed, their hearts would be fully set in them to do evil. And all the honour of government would be lost, and in their much mercy prostituted in favour of wickedness. Thus Saul, in foolish pity, spared Agag, contrary to truth, and the just [Page 14] command of God; and by his misplaced tenderness lost his kingdom. So David, in the very weakness of paren­tal mercy, spared Absalom; who not long after arose in an unnatural rebellion against his father, and attempted to jostle him from the throne, and hunted for his pre­cious life; requiting his lenity, as other false favours used to be.

Thus Ahab spared Benhadad, a man God had ap­pointed to utter destruction; but it is hard to say, whe­ther in a more infatuated mercy, or ill concerted policy; for his life must go, and that of his people for the king and people that he spared. The next war, they will fight only or especially with the king of Israel to requite him for his superlative tenderness, in saying of Benhadad, "is he yet alive? he is my brother." It would be easy to prove by dint of common sense, and by the Roman orator, as well as by the holy BIBLE, that such ministers of justice would be some of the most unmerciful men in the world; cruel to society, and even to the criminals, (who would hereby be hardned in sin) as well as false and treacherous to their God, whose deputies and vice­gerents they are.

Suppose, on the other hand, ministers of justice, in a relentless kind of severity, and casting off all pity, should strain every charge to the highest pitch, and punish to the utmost extremity of law; connive at the most vex­atious suits, under pretence of zeal against wrong and injustice; would not righteousness spring up as poison­ous hemlock in the furrows of the field; and much mis­chief be daily framed by law? Thus merciless was the truth and justice of Saul, in his rash sentence upon his son Jonathan, dooming him to sure death, only for tast­ing a little honey, while he knew nothing of the prohi­bition; but the people had sense, humanity and mercy enough to rescue from that cruel sentence, a man, by whom God had wrought so great a salvation that day. Jehu's truth and justice, in executing the house of Ahab, were so overstrained, that God afterwards visited that blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.

[Page 15]So the hypocritical Israelites executed without mercy the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, because they came not to the war against Benjamin; because not God's honour, but their own, was a little touched. And we are sorry to find such a blemish to the reign of the man after God's own heart, as his putting the children of Ammon under saws and harrows of iron, and making them to pass through the brick kilns. But it is supposed to hap­pen when his heart was hardened in the matter of Uriah.

But let justice take place, so far as to suppress vice, maintain right and equity, and support the honour of government; but not at the expence of mercy, and even of humanity. Let the vilest criminals be pitied, as much as may be, consistent with truth and justice. Let evil be put away with such a just severity, that all Israel may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly. But let judge and jury act with pity, and none prosecute with a rage that reacheth unto heaven. Let neither court nor jury be tools of malice, but crush all vexatious informations or warrants, and like Gallio (in this a pattern) drive them from the judgment seat.

This tempering mercy with judgment is the way to purge the iniquity of the land, and to secure peace to the people, and in their own minds, in all their admini­strations of justice. Then are our officers peace, and our exactors righteousness. Iniquity stops her mouth, and vice is shamed and virtue crowned. Men will be afraid of such a well tempered power, and be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.

When he that ruleth over men is just, ruling in the fear of God; in that ingenuous pity that never fails to accompany the fear of the Almighty; the end of civil government is attained, public judgments prevented, our lives and properties secured, and all our natural and charter rights maintained, and every man may live and rejoice under his own vine and fig-tree, and there be none to make him afraid.

[Page 16]Pause here a little, and consider the importance of this doctrine: Iniquity not purged will be bitterness in the latter end. Wo forever unto all workers of iniquity, that live and die unpurged. For so he that is filthy must be filthy still, and that to all eternity. Nothing can be more tremendous than the divide threatning, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you 'till ye die, saith the Lord of Hosts. And thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness, 'till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. None but they that are purged from their old sins, and have clean hands and pure hearts, can enter into the holy hill above: the unclean shall not come before him.

Iniquity harboured and practiced in a family, will be it's ruin. The curse of God is in the house of the wicked.

Iniquity connived at in churches will incense the Sa­viour, incur his displeasure; be a worm at the root of all their purity, peace, and growth; weaken the nerves of a godly discipline, and sap the very foundation of their faith, of which they will soon make shipwreck, after that of a good conscience.

Iniquity connived at, and unpunished, will soon bring judgments upon the land. Achan committed a trespass, and God was wroth with the whole congregation, and that man perished not alone in his iniquity. Such is the divine abhorrence of blood and murder, that if a man was found near a city of Israel in his blood, and the as­sassin not known, God would make inquisition for blood, and visit it upon that city, if they did not purge away, and shew their just abhorrence and detestation of the murder. It is a law of nature as well as the written law of God, him that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. And we humbly apprehend, that no au­thority upon earth can pardon a wilful murderer, without stepping into God's throne, and violating the very light and law of nature, and leaving the land greatly polluted, and exposed to the vengeance of the supreme ruler; by whom king's reign and princes decree justice; but never gives authority against himself.

[Page 17]Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge! by this iniquity the land is polluted. A man in Israel must not give his daughter to be a prostitute, lest the land be given to whoredom, and the land be defiled. This is an iniquity to be punished by the judges; and we know who hath said, that such shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and there shall by no means enter therein, any thing that defileth, or that worketh abomination: But without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers. And wo to the drunkards; their glory (if they have any) shall be a fading flower. Whoredom, and wine, and new wine, take away the heart, captivate and enslave the whole soul, erase all the seeds of virtue and religion, spoil the manly sense, and level a man with the brute creatures. God has, of late years, sent an army of noxious vermin to lay waste the fruits of our orchards, before they be grown, to reveal his wrath from heaven against the un­godliness and unrighteousness of this sin.

Because of swearing the land mourneth. God is jea­lous of his honour, and will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. So perjury, lying and stealing defile the land, as well as bring ruin upon the sinners themselves. The curse that goeth forth enters into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that swear­eth falsely by God's name, abides in his house to con­sume it, with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof. God himself will come near to judgment, and be a swift witness against adulterers, and against false swearers. We add to these the profanation of the day of sacred rest, the Lord's day, appropriated to his honour; in which to celebrate the wonders of redeeming grace, on this re­surrection day. To profane it by speaking our own words, or doing our own secular business, or finding our own pleasure; or by neglect of the holy solemnities of the day; is to throw contempt on all the works of re­demption, to despise all the benefits of the redeemer's purchase, and to despise and destroy our own souls; no wonder then, that an affronted Saviour so often for this [Page 18] sin blasts us in all our labours; and that upon them that come not up to keep this christian feast of tabernacles, there shall be no rain of heavenly grace; or that he so often visits us with droughts.

Because we execute not his judgments, nor keep his sabbaths, God may e'er long be provoked to give us statutes (civil or ecclesiastical) that are not good, and judgments whereby we cannot live. With what affec­tionate a pathos did the pious governor Nehemiah re­monstrate against this sin? chap. xiii. ver. 17, 18. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, what evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sab­bath day? did not your fathers thus? and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.

But thus are we led to what was more especially de­signed, in a way of application, and to the occasion of the present discourse, viz. to improve the awful dispensation in the week past. Iniquity purged, by purging the sin­ner out of the world. As we are at the distance of but eight miles, many of you, my brethren, attended the ex­ecution three days ago: You beheld the bitter effects of sin, in a miscreant hung up between heaven and earth, as fit for neither: you heard a solemn and pertinent ser­mon on the shocking occasion: you beheld his dying agonies; and I trust the eye affected the heart. The like has not been done in this county for more than twenty years.

Perhaps there never was an execution like to this, wherein mercy and truth, or mercy and justice, were bet­ter united. A whole year passed after he was found guilty, before his sentence. This gave room for mercy, if any way could be hit upon, for mercy to rejoice against judgment. No way was sound. They that were most ac­quainted with his high-handed wickedness, were obliged to say, in tenderness to mankind, and especially to the female sex, what they maliciously said of Paul, away [Page 19] with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live. There was mercy to his soul, in afford­ing him a year to consider his latter end, and prepare for it. In him seemed to be literally verified the intercession of Christ for the barren fig-tree; Lord, let it alone this year, 'till I shall dig about it and dung it, and if it bear fruit well, and if not then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Tenderness to a poor wretch, with a just indignation against his enormous villanies▪ seemed to govern the whole affair. And thus the land is purged, and we hope will still be purged, and that all our Israel will hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly. He is set up as a Lot's wife for us to remember, and be cautioned and warned. I have learned, that when a child, he began to steal, to lie, and refuse all wholsome discipline; tho' taught to read and write, was never the better for all the instructions and corrections, so early applied. When about 14 years of age, ran away from his master, got in­to wicked company, and was soon debauched and har­dened in sin, and his heart fully set in him to do evil: soon became overmuch wicked, and has now died before his time. His darling lusts were idleness, drunkenness, uncleanness, and lying and stealing, with a most profane contempt of the name and day of God, and all sacred things. He drew iniquity with cords of vanity, and sinned as with a cart-rope. So past all feeling or remorse of conscience, that he gave himself over to work all uncleanness, and the foulest vices, with greediness. And O shocking stupidity! could laugh at hell and dam­nation, even while he did not professedly deny their reality. He was led captive by the Devil at his will. For seven years, especially, he served him with all his power, and often wearied himself to commit iniquity. And if all his enormous villanies, and wrongs to men, could be enumerated, and a ballance made for his inju­ries, what a black catalogue would there be of his crimes, and what a vast sum to repair the wrongs he has done!

[Page 20]He appeared hardened in his sin, till after his sentence, about four weeks before his untimely death. After which he read his bible, and much pains was taken with him, to what purpose God only knows; to me his re­pentance seemed not equal to the enormous wickedness of his life; and there is reason to fear, that one who had been so arch and hypocritical in his wickedness, might not be without some degree of dissimulation in his repen­tance. It may be said of him, as of Judas, he repented; but whether he was sorry for sin because he must be hanged; or was really pricked in his heart, and mourned for sin, as a dishonour to God and grief to Christ; or would not, if set at liberty, have returned to sin again, as a dog to his vomit, must be left to the great decisive day; when we shall clearly discern betwixt the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. He is fallen a victim to justice, and for a warning to all, that they may not follow his pernicious ways, lest they come to the like woful end. In him is literally fulfilled that of the Apostle, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death. Hast thou heedfully marked the old way which wicked men have trodden, which were cut down out of time? Or, are ye willing to hear, in a way of caution and warning, some remarks upon the wicked way of this poor criminal, that has not lived half his days.

REMARK I. The deserting our lawful business, place or calling, is the open door to ruin. Let every man in the calling wherein he is called, therein abide with God. But they that will not do their own business, nor act in character, go out of the way of duty into the way of temptation; and, in a sense, outrun the divine pro­tection, which it is presumption to expect out of our way. What dost thou here, Elijah? is implicitly demanded of all that forsake their duty and functions in life. Thus Absalom, to screen himself from justice, ran away to his [Page 21] pagan grandfather; and there hardened in sin, and learn­ed, it seems, to despise his own father, for the meanness of his extraction; and was ripened for the most unnatural treason, and most infamous ruin. Such in effect invert the sixth petition in the Lord's prayer, saying, lead us into temptation and deliver us not from evil. Nor will they go unto the wise, that would counsel them to return to their duty, but walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and stand in the way of sinners, that will patronize their wickedness, and entice them on in the way to de­struction. All this is verified, not only in this instance, so recent in our memory, but the last that was executed in the county of Middlesex, listed into the regular ser­vice, without the consent (I think) of parents or master; and by the like headstrong pride, and ignorant self-suffi­ciency, he forfeited his life several times before it was taken from him. It is thought that the Angels not keeping their first estate, but leaving their own habita­tion, means their deserting their post, place, station, and business assigned them by their creator, in the rank of beings; and so, instead of remaining bright stars in the fir­mament of glory, were hurled down from the lofty battle­ments of heaven, and became comets or wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

REMARK II. That drunkenness and whoredom not only estrange a person from all piety and religion; but destroy the natural sense, benumb conscience, and erase humanity itself. He that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall into this pit. Their very hearts hate instruction, and despise reproof. And tho' you should bray such a fool in a mortar, with a pestle among wheat, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

This wretched creature being deeply plunged in these vices, at the age of about 14, soon threw away all the checks of conscience and restraints of education, and did not at all stickle at lying, stealing, and the greatest wrongs, to support his debaucheries. In his printed [Page 22] confession he says, "but in a particular manner, I would solemnly warn those of my own colour, as they regard their own souls, to avoid desertion from their masters, drunkenness, and lewdness, which three crimes was (were it should be) the source from which have flowed the many evils and miseries of my short life."

REMARK III. The wilful contempt of the name, day, and word of God, is in effect to give place to the Devil, who is always ready to rule the children of diso­bedience. They that will not have Christ to reign over them, do virtually submit to the slavery of the Devil, who will see to it that the wicked man travels in pain all his days. No man knows the tour of that fatal night, but must own the hand of a just, incensed God, in giving him over; and the hand of Satan in precipitating him headlong to destruction. He arose out of a warm bed, on a cold night, and left all asleep, and after a compli­cated theft, in favour of his wicked design, rode several miles to find out one who had before been the infamous instrument of his ruin; missing of her, the Devil put it into his head, in the dead of night, to go so many miles, to perpetrate the villany for which he suffered. Thus he wearied himself to commit a capital iniquity. Satan is a hard and cruel master.

REMARK IV. The escaping with impunity hardens the wicked, and emboldens them in sin yet more and more. If they do evil an hundred times, and their days be prolonged; and the tabernacles of robbers prosper for a while; they grow audacious and presumptuous, and conclude to-morrow shall be as this day and much more abundant. His escapes were often strange and hard to be accounted for, but by supposing him to be left of God to go on without controul, the sooner to fill up his measure of sin, and knowing his fall to be at hand. The Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming. However his many escapes from condign pu­nishment, [Page 23] and his having lost all sense of sin, rendered him insensible of danger, not only of the wrath to come, but of the verdict of the jury; flattering himself, it seems, all the year, that he should escape that death of which he has been found guilty; and I have good reason to think, that, even after his sentence, he still flattered himself in his own eyes, till he found all had abandoned him, in regard to his forfeited life. Thus Satan could prompt Agag to say, "surely the bitterness of death is past." He flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found (by woful experience) to be hateful. The same Devil that decoys into sin, flatters with impunity, and so hardens the heart, 'till they fall into further mischief and ruin.

REMARK V. Not the most shocking death, but only almighty grace will break an heart of stone. Israel could see all the terrors of Mount Sinai, and Lot's two daugh­ters behold, and narrowly escape the flames of Sodom, yet remain as they were. The impenitent thief (or both while impenitent) could rail at the Lord of glory on the cross. It is the peculiar work of the almighty Spirit, to take the stony heart out of out flesh, and give us hearts of flesh. Condemned criminals will go no further in their repentance than legal sorrow for sin, because they must suffer for it; unless the divine Spirit work in them that repentance which is unto salvation. At the last, he had an hope that supported him against the terrors of a shocking death, or was, to astonishment, stu­pid and insensible of his danger. He said, when going to the place of execution, that he was willing to die; and just before he was turned off, being asked by the officer, if he had any thing to say, answered with a low voice, "No; but that I would that poor creatures be warned that they come not to my doleful end." If he found mercy with the Lord, in that day, he will praise and magnify his name forevermore, for his great mercy to­wards him, in delivering his soul from the lowest hell; [Page 24] and in timely softening his heart by omnipotent grace, as that of the penitent thief on the cross.

REMARK VI. All whose hearts are fully set in them to do these, or like evils, and will not be reclaimed, are in the high road to destruction, if not by the way of the gallows. When any are so joined to idols, as that they must needs be let alone, to sin without controul; and the most gentle means, or just severities, are in vain, their case is very sad, if not desperate. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righ­teousness, in the land of uprightness (or religion) he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord: Why should he be stricken any more? he will revolt more and more. He that hateth and despiseth reproof shall die. Correct thy son, and it may be expected that he will give thee rest; but if, out of a foolish fondness, you indulge him in wickedness, he will give you trouble enough: But the best instructions, and most tender cor­rections, will not reclaim them that, like this now ruined youth, have their hearts fully set in them to do evil. So we must leave them to take their course, and chuse the road to death. If they are wise, they are wise for themselves; if they are scorners, they alone must bear it.

REMARK VII. If any young people are resolved upon their own ruin, the way is open and broad, and easy to find—it is, in a word, to walk in pride, in the way of their own heart, and in the sight of their own eyes; re­jecting all the counsels of God, of pastors, or parents, against themselves. Let the eye that loves death mock at his father and despise to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, the young eagles shall eat it. Let them pull away the shoulder, and refuse to hear the words which the Lord of hosts sends to them by the former prophets, by Christ or his Apostles. Let them profane the name and day of God. Let their life be with the drunkard and the unclean. Never go to the [Page 25] wise, but be the companions of fools, and go in company with the workers of iniquity, who are to be destroyed. Follow wicked counsels to practice iniquity; cast off fear and restrain prayer before God. Say what is the Al­mighty that we should serve him, and what profit shall we have if we pray unto him? Let them, with a stiff­necked resolution, pursue their own ways, and delight in their own abominations. Very soon will their iniqui­ties be full, or they will treasure up the more wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of his righteous judgment.

REMARK VIII. The same Devil that tempts to sin, and helps to palliate it, and flatters with impunity, will abandon, or rather betray them at last. Sin and Satan may for a while screen from justice. Those words of the wise man, neither shall wickedness deliver them that are given to it, intimate, that it may seem to deliver, or one wickedness serve to cloak and cover another, but will not long avail. But tho' a sinner do evil an hun­dred times, and his days be prolonged, yet it shall not long be well with the wicked, nor shall he prolong his days which are as a shadow. After all the strange es­capes of this—so arch in wickedness, it appears by his conduct after his life was forfeited, that the Devil is no more to be trusted as a protector, than as a tempter. He not only returned home, after his atrocious vil­lainy, (tho' so well practised in running away) but after he was arrested by the officer and gave him the slip, with a good horse, sillily for himself, went home and so was re-taken. And when he broke prison, was no sooner abandoned by his companions, but he went to a public house, where he had been acquainted, and so was re-taken, and sent back to prison. So he was at last infatuated, to meet his deserved end. This we view as the holy hand of God, leaving him to be at last insnared in the work of his own hands; and as the hand of Satan deserting him, whom he had so often [Page 26] furnished with a corrupt will in wickedness, that he might the sooner incur that ruin, to which the prince of this world had decoyed him. Thus remarkable is the hand of God in the infatuation of Pharaoh, and his servants; that he might make inquisition for blood, and take vengeance for the murder of the male children of Israel. Moses is ordered to turn towards the red sea, and encamp beside Pihahiroth; where the unarmed hosts of Israel must be hemmed in on all sides. Pharaoh now concludes that the wilderness had shut them in. They must fall an easy prey. He pursues them as sure of victory; yea so infatuated, as to pursue them into the red sea, which turned and covered them; and so the innocent blood of the male children was avenged. When Haman's face was covered, or that of any con­demned criminal, we know what is next.

REMARK IX. We may discover the cause that so many of the natives perish from under gospel light. Contempt of the means of grace, slighting the offers and opportunities vouchsafed to them, neglect of the great salvation, 'till God justly leaves them, and the grand adversary ensnares them, to drunkenness and unclean­ness, and so to become insensible to all the instructions of wisdom. A late writer has observed, that "New-Eng­land rum has ruined more Indians than the gospel has saved of them." Wherever this debauchee came among them, they were his counsellors to work wickedness; and by drunkenness and uncleanness, with them, soon lost all the little remains of the natural sense of moral virtue. They had better have been brought up in the wilds of Africa, or in the remotest corners of the world, than thus to hear the joyful sound of the gospel salvation, and re­ceive this grace of God in vain; after all failing of the grace of God.

REMARK X. If any are willing to be cautioned and warned, they have now an opportunity afforded them by heaven; a Lot's wife designed for a warning to all [Page 27] that live ungodly. Remember poor Arthur! and thus admonished learn righteousness. and not to despise the Saviour of the world.* See sin in its dismal consequences, at last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. It may be sweet in the mouth, but bitterness in the belly, i. e. in the conscience. Consider his sin and infamous ruin, and shun those abominable vices that brought him to his shocking death. He is designed by heaven for a monument to warn us, and that all the natives, negroes, and all people, may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly.

What is all the shame and infamy, pain and trouble of a public trial and execution, compared with the everlast­ing shame and contempt, mourning and wo in the great day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men? Their griefs shall be multiplied that hasten after a strange God, or strange lusts. Judgments are prepared for scor­ners and stripes for the back of fools. They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean. Here we see sin, in some measure, as it is, and discern the hook without the bait. 'Till I went unto the sanctuary, then saw I their end.

Good God! on what a slippery steep,
The thoughtless wretches go!—
And oh! that dreadful fiery lake,
That waits their fall below!

REMARK XI. If any are wicked counsellors to chil­dren or servants, as the house of Ahab to Ahaziah,— his counsellors to work wickedness; here is a voice from heaven to them, in this awful providence. A voice as loud as thunder, to awaken them to consider their ways.

What must the wicked advisers of poor Arthur one day feel in their racked consciences? What their meeting in the other world? Children that are corruptors, par­takers of other mens sins, plotters of mischief, must one day give an account of all the wickedness committed [Page 28] by their advice, or sinful connivance. One such sinner destroys much good. They are the Devil's agents to destroy souls, and bodies too, as in the late instance. They hunt for the precious life. O that all our young people were so wise, as when sinners entice them, not to consent, but consider them as enemies; yea as incarnate Devils, engaged on Satan's side, doing his work, and to receive his wages. They that ensnare others to go with them to the pit of misery, will find it less tolerable than to have gone there alone.

REMARK XII. That to sin against, and after such a solemn alarm from heaven, is to sin at a dear rate. Wo to them that are not hereby admonished, so, as to shun those dangerous precipices, where one has so lately fallen headlong to ruin. They that live in the like sins, are in the same way, though they may not have proceeded so far. The way of sin is down-hill. * No man is entirely abandoned to wickedness all at once. Sad and awful indeed if the drunkard will still wallow in his vomit, if the unclean will not repent of the fornication which they have committed, but proceed from evil to evil, and add sin to sin, running greedily after the errors of this profligate, notwithstanding his bitter end; if the thieves will yet watch for their neighbours goods. Let him that stole steal no more. Sad indeed, if lyars still meditate deceit, and utter from the heart words of falshood. Or any, by idleness and forsaking their lawful business, yet tempt the Devil to tempt them to the most impudent vices. Such are apace filling up their measure of sin, and this awful instance may be brought into judgment against them. And how awful to hear from the throne▪ that is as the fiery flame, as Prov. i.24, 25, and on. But because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded. But ye have set at nought all my counsels, and would none of my reproof, &c.

[Page 29]REMARK XIII. Here is a voice of God to heads of families, parents and masters, to instruct those under their care; to guide them with their eye, and endeavour early to instil into them the principles of virtue, and to furnish the young men with knowledge and discretion, and ex­hort the rising generation to be sober-minded, and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them. How pathetical is that of Bathsheba to Solomon? What my son? What the son of my womb? and what the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which de­stroyeth kings.

FINALLY, Let us all unite mercy and truth, in all our moral and religious conduct; in whatever station and relation; in families, in churches, and in all our civil affairs. Be thankful for the civil government, that justice is administred, and the oppressed vindicated from wrongs and violence, and iniquity obliged to stop her mouth. If any do evil, let them be afraid of the power of the civil magistrate; for he beareth not the sword in vain, as we saw in the week past. But who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? Civil rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Let us be thankful for that restraining grace, that has kept us from such notorious excesses. Beg daily for grace to keep you from the foulest vices, and take heed that no one of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other mens matters. Let your loins be girt with truth; and be ever merciful to all, shun the dangerous paths of the destroyer, follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, cha­rity, and peace, with them that call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart. So will the Lord preserve you, and keep you from evil, and deliver you from every evil work, and preserve you safe unto his heavenly king­dom, to him be glory forever, Amen.

[Page 30]


WHEREAS the Rev. John Tucker of New­bury has printed some Considerations of my Reply to his Remarks on my Sermon; which appear to me to contain no answer to the arguments in said Reply; but serve only to shew that the subject, on his side, is exhausted, and that he is willing to have an end put to the con­troversy: and as there is nothing remarkable in his said Considerations, except a few Queries, such as may be, and often have been, started by the wit of men, respecting some of the most im­portant doctrines of the Gospel; and some mis­representations of my meaning, which are most­ly so futile, that a very little degree of good sense, may easily correct them; and as he seems, in a good measure satisfied, respecting the chief reason of his beginning the controversy; and add to all these, his concessions, and shewing an unwillingness, to the straining any points in de­bate; all these things considered, it is appre­hended, I may be very reasonably excused from taking any further notice of the said Consider­ations; whereof I improve the opportunity of a vacant page, to advertise my kind Reader.

Aaron Hutchinson.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.