Selected Sermons of George Whitefield

    

                                Selected Sermons

                                       of

                               George Whitefield
     __________________________________________________________________

                               Table of Contents

  Sermons, sorted numerically

   [1]01. The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent

   [2]02. Walking with God

   [3]03. Abraham's Offering Up His Son Isaac

   [4]04. The Great Duty of Family Religion

   [5]05. Christ the Best Husband: Or an Earnest Invitation to Young Women
   to Come and See Christ Preached to a Society of Young Women, in
   Fetter-Lane

   [6]06. Britain's Mercies, and Britain's Duty Preached at Philadelphia,
   on Sunday, August 14, 1746 and Occasioned by the Suppression of the
   Late Unnatural Rebellion

   [7]07. Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty

   [8]08. The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society

   [9]09. The Folly and Danger of Being Not Righteous Enough

   [10]10. A Preservative Against Unsettled Notions, and Want of
   Principles, in Regard to Righteousness and Christian Perfection Being a
   More Particular Answer to Doctor Trapp's Four Sermons Upon the Same
   Text

   [11]11. The Benefits of an Early Piety

   [12]12. Christ the Believer's Husband

   [13]13. The Potter and the Clay

   [14]14. The Lord Our Righteousness

   [15]15. The Righteousness of Christ, an Everlasting Righteousness

   [16]16. The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of All
   Christians; Or the True Way of Keeping Christmas

   [17]17. The Temptation of Christ

   [18]18. The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

   [19]19. Christ the Support of the Tempted

   [20]20. Worldly Business No Plea for the Neglect of Religion

   [21]21. Christ the Only Rest for the Weary and Heavy-Laden

   [22]22. The Folly and Danger of Parting with Christ for the Pleasures
   and Profits of Life

   [23]23. Marks of a True Conversion

   [24]24. What Think Ye of Christ?

   [25]25. The Wise and Foolish Virgins

   [26]26. "The Eternity of Hell-Torments"

   [27]27. Blind Bartimeus

   [28]28. Directions How to Hear Sermons

   [29]29. The Extent and Reasonableness of Self-Denial

   [30]30. Christ's Transfiguration

   [31]31. The Care of the Soul Urged as the One Thing Needful

   [32]32. A Penitent Heart, the Best New Year's Gift

   [33]33. The Gospel Supper

   [34]34. The Pharisee and Publican

   [35]35. The Conversion of Zaccheus

   [36]36. The Marriage of Cana

   [37]37. The Duty of Searching the Scriptures

   [38]38. The Indwelling of the Spirit, the Common Privilege of All
   Believers

   [39]39. The Resurrection of Lazarus

   [40]40. The Holy Spirit Convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and
   Judgment

   [41]41. Saul's Conversion

   [42]42. Marks of Having Received the Holy Ghost

   [43]43. The Almost Christian

   [44]44. Christ, the Believer's Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification
   and Redemption

   [45]45. The Knowledge of Jesus Christ the Best Knowledge

   [46]46. Of Justification by Christ

   [47]47. The Great Duty of Charity Recommended

   [48]48. Satan's Devices

   [49]49. On Regeneration

   [50]50. Christians, Temples of the Living God

   [51]51. Christ the Only Preservative Against a Reprobate Spirit

   [52]52. The Heinous Sin of Drunkenness

   [53]53. The Power of Christ's Resurrection

   [54]54. Intercession Every Christian's Duty

   [55]55. Persecution Every Christian's Lot

   [56]56. An Exhortation to the People of God Not to Be Discouraged in
   Their Way, by the Scoffs and Contempt of Wicked Men

   [57]57. Preached Before the Governor, and Council, and the House of
   Assembly, in Georgia, on January 28, 1770

   [58]58. The Method of Grace

   [59]59. The Good Shepherd: A Farewell Sermon

  Sermons, sorted alphabetically

   [60]03. Abraham's Offering Up His Son Isaac

   [61]43. The Almost Christian

   [62]11. The Benefits of an Early Piety

   [63]27. Blind Bartimeus

   [64]06. Britain's Mercies, and Britain's Duty Preached at Philadelphia,
   on Sunday, August 14, 1746 and Occasioned by the Suppression of the
   Late Unnatural Rebellion

   [65]31. The Care of the Soul Urged as the One Thing Needful

   [66]12. Christ the Believer's Husband

   [67]44. Christ, the Believer's Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification
   and Redemption

   [68]05. Christ the Best Husband: Or an Earnest Invitation to Young
   Women to Come and See Christ Preached to a Society of Young Women, in
   Fetter-Lane

   [69]51. Christ the Only Preservative Against a Reprobate Spirit

   [70]21. Christ the Only Rest for the Weary and Heavy-Laden

   [71]19. Christ the Support of the Tempted

   [72]50. Christians, Temples of the Living God

   [73]30. Christ's Transfiguration

   [74]35. The Conversion of Zaccheus

   [75]28. Directions How to Hear Sermons

   [76]37. The Duty of Searching the Scriptures

   [77]26. "The Eternity of Hell-Torments"

   [78]56. An Exhortation to the People of God Not to Be Discouraged in
   Their Way, by the Scoffs and Contempt of Wicked Men

   [79]29. The Extent and Reasonableness of Self-Denial

   [80]09. The Folly and Danger of Being Not Righteous Enough

   [81]22. The Folly and Danger of Parting with Christ for the Pleasures
   and Profits of Life

   [82]59. The Good Shepherd: A Farewell Sermon

   [83]33. The Gospel Supper

   [84]47. The Great Duty of Charity Recommended

   [85]04. The Great Duty of Family Religion

   [86]40. The Holy Spirit Convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and
   Judgment

   [87]52. The Heinous Sin of Drunkenness

   [88]18. The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

   [89]38. The Indwelling of the Spirit, the Common Privilege of All
   Believers

   [90]54. Intercession Every Christian's Duty

   [91]14. The Lord Our Righteousness

   [92]46. Of Justification by Christ

   [93]45. The Knowledge of Jesus Christ the Best Knowledge

   [94]23. Marks of a True Conversion

   [95]42. Marks of Having Received the Holy Ghost

   [96]36. The Marriage of Cana

   [97]58. The Method of Grace

   [98]08. The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society

   [99]16. The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of All
   Christians; Or the True Way of Keeping Christmas

   [100]32. A Penitent Heart, the Best New Year's Gift

   [101]55. Persecution Every Christian's Lot

   [102]34. The Pharisee and Publican

   [103]10. A Preservative Against Unsettled Notions, and Want of
   Principles, in Regard to Righteousness and Christian Perfection Being a
   More Particular Answer to Doctor Trapp's Four Sermons Upon the Same
   Text

   [104]13. The Potter and the Clay

   [105]53. The Power of Christ's Resurrection

   [106]57. Preached Before the Governor, and Council, and the House of
   Assembly, in Georgia, on January 28, 1770

   [107]49. On Regeneration

   [108]39. The Resurrection of Lazarus

   [109]15. The Righteousness of Christ, an Everlasting Righteousness

   [110]48. Satan's Devices

   [111]41. Saul's Conversion

   [112]01. The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent

   [113]17. The Temptation of Christ

   [114]07. Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty

   [115]02. Walking with God

   [116]24. What Think Ye of Christ?

   [117]25. The Wise and Foolish Virgins

   [118]20. Worldly Business No Plea for the Neglect of Religion
     __________________________________________________________________

               The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent

   Genesis 3:15 -- "And I will put Enmity between thee and the Woman, and
   between thy Seed and her Seed, it shall bruise thy Head, and thou shalt
   bruise his Heel."

   On reading to you these words, I may address you in the language of the
   holy angels to the shepherds, that were watching their flocks by night:
   "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy." For this is the first
   promise that was made of a Savior to the apostate race of Adam. We
   generally look for Christ only in the New Testament; but Christianity,
   in one sense, is very near as old as the creation. It is wonderful to
   observe how gradually God revealed his Son to mankind. He began with
   the promise in the text, and this the elect lived upon, till the time
   of Abraham. To him, God made further discoveries of his eternal council
   concerning man's redemption. Afterwards, at sundry times, and in divers
   manners, God spoke to the fathers by the prophets, till at length the
   Lord Jesus himself was manifested in flesh, and came and tabernacled
   amongst us.

   This first promise must certainly be but dark to our first parents, in
   comparison of that great light which we enjoy: And yet, dark as it was,
   we may assure ourselves they built upon it their hopes of everlasting
   salvation, and by that faith were saved.

   How they came to stand in need of this promise, and what is the extent
   and meaning of it, I intend, God willing, to make the subject-matter of
   your present meditation.

   The fall of man is written in too legible characters not to be
   understood: Those that deny it, by their denying, prove it. The very
   heathens confessed, and bewailed it: They could see the streams of
   corruption running through the whole race of mankind, but could not
   trace them to the fountain-head. Before God gave a revelation of his
   Son, man was a riddle to himself. And Moses unfolds more, in this one
   chapter (out of which the text is taken) than all mankind could have
   been capable of finding out of themselves, though they had studied to
   all eternity.

   In the preceding chapter he had given us a full account, how God spoke
   the world into being; and especially how he formed man of the dust of
   the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life, so that he became
   a living soul. A council of the Trinity was called concerning the
   formation of this lovely creature. The result of that council was, "Let
   us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his
   own image, in the image of God created he him." Moses remarkably
   repeats these words, that we might take particular notice of our divine
   Original. Never was so much expressed in so few words: None but a man
   inspired could have done so. But it is remarkable, that though Moses
   mentions our being made in the image of God, yet he mentions it but
   twice, and that in a transient manner; as though he would have said,
   "man was made in honor, God make him upright, in the image of God, male
   and female created he them.' But man so soon fell, and became like the
   beasts that perish, nay, like the devil himself, that it is scarce
   worth mentioning."

   How soon man fell after he was created, is not told us; and therefore,
   to fix any time, is to be wise above what is written. And, I think,
   they who suppose that man fell the same day in which he was made, have
   no sufficient ground for their opinion. The many things which are
   crowded together in the former chapter, such as the formation of Adam's
   wife, his giving names to the beasts, and his being put into the garden
   which God had planted, I think require a longer space of time than a
   day to be transacted in. However, all agree in this, "man stood not
   long." How long, or how short a while, I will not take upon me to
   determine. It more concerns us to inquire, how he came to fall from his
   steadfastness, and what was the rise and progress of the temptation
   which prevailed over him. The account given us in this chapter
   concerning it, is very full; and it may do us much service, under God,
   to make some remarks upon it.

   "Now the serpent (says the sacred historian) was more subtle than any
   beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the
   woman, Yes, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the
   garden?"

   Though this was a real serpent, yet he that spoke was no other than the
   devil; from hence, perhaps, called the old serpent, because he took
   possession of the serpent when he came to beguile our first parents.
   The devil envied the happiness of man, who was made, as some think, to
   supply the place of the fallen angels. God made man upright, and with
   full power to stand if he would: He was just, therefore, in suffering
   him to be tempted. If he fell, he had no one to blame except himself.
   But how must Satan effect his fall? He cannot do it by his power, he
   attempts it therefore by policy: he takes possession of a serpent,
   which was more subtle than all the beasts of the field, which the Lord
   God had made; so that men who are full of subtlety, but have no piety,
   are only machines for the devil to work upon, just as he pleases.

   "And he said unto the woman." Here is an instance of his subtlety. He
   says unto the woman, the weaker vessel, and when she was alone from her
   husband, and therefore was more liable to be overcome; "Yes, hath God
   said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" These words are
   certainly spoken in answer to something which the devil either saw or
   heard. In all probability, the woman was now near the tree of knowledge
   of good and evil; (for we shall find her, by and by, plucking an apple
   from it) perhaps she might be looking at, and wondering what there was
   in that tree more than the others, that she and her husband should be
   forbidden to take of it. Satan seeing this, and coveting to draw her
   into a parley with him, (for if the devil can persuade us not to
   resist, but to commune with him, he hath gained a great point) he says,
   "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden?" The
   first thing he does is to persuade her, if possible to entertain hard
   thoughts of God; this is his general way of dealing with God's
   children: "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the
   garden? What! Hath God planted a garden, and placed you in the midst of
   it, only to tease and perplex you? Hath he planted a garden, and yet
   forbid you making use of any of the fruits of it at all?" It was
   impossible for him to ask a more ensnaring question, in order to gain
   his end: For Eve was here seemingly obliged to answer, and vindicate
   God's goodness. And therefore, --

   Verses 2 & 3. The woman said unto the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit
   of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in
   the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither
   shall ye touch it, lest ye die."

   The former part of the answer was good, "We may eat of the fruit of the
   trees of the garden, God has not forbid us eating of every tree of the
   garden. No; we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden (and, it
   should seem, even of the tree of life, which was as a sacrament to man
   in the state of innocence) there is only one tree in the midst of the
   garden, of which God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall
   ye touch it, lest ye die." Here she begins to warp, and sin begins to
   conceive I her heart. Already she has contracted some of the serpent's
   poison, by talking with him, which she ought not to have done at all.
   For she might easily suppose, that it could be no good being that could
   put such a question unto her, and insinuate such dishonorable thoughts
   of God. She should therefore have fled from him, and not stood to have
   parleyed with him at all. Immediately the ill effects of it appear, she
   begins to soften the divine threatening. God had said, "the day thou
   eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" or, dying thou shalt die. But
   Eve says, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye
   die." We may be assured we are fallen into, and begin to fall by
   temptations, when we begin to think God will not be as good as his
   word, in respect to the execution of his threatenings denounced against
   sin. Satan knew this, and therefore artfully

   "Said unto the woman, (ver. 4) Ye shall not surely die," in an
   insinuating manner, "Ye shall not surely die. Surely; God will not be
   so cruel as to damn you only for eating an apple, it cannot be." Alas!
   How many does Satan lead captive at his will, by flattering them, that
   they shall not surely die; that hell torments will not be eternal; that
   God is all mercy; that he therefore will not punish a few years sin
   with an eternity of misery? But Eve found God as good as his word; and
   so will all they who go on in sin, under a false hope that they shall
   not surely die.

   We may also understand the words spoken positively, and this is
   agreeable to what follows; You shall not surely die; "It is all a
   delusion, a mere bugbear, to keep you in a servile subjection."

   For (ver. 5) "God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then shall
   your eyes be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

   What child of God can expect to escape slander, when God himself was
   thus slandered even in paradise? Surely the understanding of Eve must
   have been, in some measure, blinded, or she would not have suffered the
   tempter to speak such perverse things. In what odious colors is God
   here represented! "God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, ye
   shall be as gods," (equal with God.) So that the grand temptation was,
   that they should be hereafter under no control, equal, if not superior,
   to God that made them, knowing good and evil. Eve could not tell what
   Satan meant by this; but, to be sure, she understood it of some great
   privilege which they were to enjoy. And thus Satan now points out a way
   which seems right to sinners, but does not tell them the end of that
   way is death.

   To give strength and force to this temptation, in all probability,
   Satan, or the serpent, at this time plucked an apple from the tree, and
   ate it before Eve; by which Eve might be induced to think, that the
   sagacity and power of speech, which the serpent had above the other
   beasts, must be owing, in a great measure, to his eating that fruit;
   and, therefore, if he received so much improvement, she might also
   expect a like benefit from it. All this, I think, is clear; for,
   otherwise, I do not see with what propriety it could be said, "When the
   woman saw that it was good for food." How could she know it was good
   for food, unless she had seen the serpent feed upon it?

   Satan now begins to get ground space. Lust had conceived in Eve's
   heart; shortly it will bring forth sin. Sin being conceived, brings
   forth death. Verse 6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good
   for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be
   desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat,
   and gave also unto her husband, and he did eat."

   Our senses are the landing ports of our spiritual enemies. How needful
   is that resolution of holy Job, "I have made a covenant with mine
   eyes!" When Eve began to gaze on the forbidden fruit with her eyes, she
   soon began to long after it with her heart. When she saw that it was
   good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, (here was the lust of the
   flesh, and lust of the eye) but, above all, a tree to be desired to
   make one wise, wiser than God would have her be, nay, as wise as God
   himself; she took of the fruit thereof, and gave also unto her husband
   with her, and he did eat. As soon as ever she sinned herself, she
   turned tempter to her husband. It is dreadful, when those, who should
   be help-meets for each other in the great work of their salvation, are
   only promoters of each other's damnation: but thus it is. If we
   ourselves are good, we shall excite others to goodness; if we do evil,
   we shall entice others to do evil also. There is a close connection
   between doing and teaching. How needful then is it for us all to take
   heed that we do not sin any way ourselves, lest we should become
   factors for the devil, and ensnare, perhaps, our nearest and dearest
   relatives? "she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat."

   Alas! What a complication of crimes was there in this one single act of
   sin! Here is an utter disbelief of God's threatening; the utmost
   ingratitude to their Maker, who had so lately planted this garden, and
   placed them in it, with such a glorious and comprehensive charter. And,
   the utmost neglect of their posterity, who they knew were to stand or
   fall with them. Here was the utmost pride of heart: they wanted to be
   equal with God. Here's the utmost contempt put upon his threatening and
   his law: the devil is credited and obeyed before him, and all this only
   to satisfy their sensual appetite. Never was a crime of such a
   complicated nature committed by any here below: Nothing but the devil's
   apostasy and rebellion could equal it.

   And what are the consequences of their disobedience? Are their eyes
   opened? Yes, their eyes are opened; but, alas! It is only to see their
   own nakedness. For we are told (ver. 7) "That the eyes of them both
   were opened; and they knew that they were naked." Naked of God, naked
   of every thing that was holy and good, and destitute of the divine
   image, which they before enjoyed. They might rightly now be termed
   Ichabod; for the glory of the Lord departed from them. O how low did
   these sons of the morning then fall! Out of God, into themselves; from
   being partakers of the divine nature, into the nature of the devil and
   the beast. Well, therefore, might they know that they were naked, not
   only in body, but in soul.

   And how do they behave now they are naked? Do they flee to God for
   pardon? Do they seek to God for a robe to cover their nakedness? No,
   they were now dead to God, and became earthly, sensual, devilish:
   therefore, instead of applying to God for mercy, "they sewed or platted
   fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons, "or things to gird
   about them. This is a lively representation of all natural man: we see
   that we are naked: we, in some measure, confess it; but, instead of
   looking up to God for succor, we patch up a righteousness of our own
   (as our first parents platted fig-leaves together) hoping to cover our
   nakedness by that. But our righteousness will not stand the severity of
   God's judgment: it will do us no more service than the fig-leaves did
   Adam and Eve, that is, none at all.

   For (ver. 8) "They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the trees
   of the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife
   (notwithstanding their fig-leaves) hid themselves from the presence of
   the Lord God, among the trees of the garden."

   They heard the voice of the Lord God, or the Word of the Lord God, even
   the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "the word that was with God, and the word
   that was God." They heard him walking in the trees of the garden, in
   the cool of the day. A season, perhaps, when Adam and Eve used to go,
   in an especial manner, and offer up an evening sacrifice of praise and
   thanksgiving. The cool of the day. Perhaps the sin was committed early
   in the morning, or at noon; but God would not come upon them
   immediately, he staid till the cool of the day. And if we would
   effectually reprove others, we should not do it when they are warmed
   with passion, but wait till the cool of the day.

   But what an alteration is here! Instead of rejoicing at the voice of
   their beloved, instead of meeting him with open arms and enlarged
   hearts, as before, they now hide themselves in the trees of the garden.
   Alas, what a foolish attempt was this? Surely they must be naked,
   otherwise how could they think of hiding themselves from God? Whither
   could they flee from his presence? But, by their fall, they had
   contracted an enmity against God: they now hated, and were afraid to
   converse with God their Maker. And is not this our case by nature?
   Assuredly it is. We labor to cover our nakedness with the fig-leaves of
   our own righteousness: We hide ourselves from God as long as we can,
   and will not come, and never should come, did not the Father prevent,
   draw, and sweetly constrain us by his grace, as he here prevented Adam.

   Verse 9. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Adam,
   where art thou?"

   "The Lord God called unto Adam." (for otherwise Adam would never have
   called unto the Lord God) and said, "Adam, where art thou? How is it
   that thou comest not to pay thy devotions as usual?" Christians,
   remember the Lord keeps an account when you fail coming to worship.
   Whenever therefore you are tempted to withhold your attendance, let
   each of you fancy you heard the Lord calling unto you, and saying, "O
   man, O woman, where art thou? It may be understood in another and
   better sense; "Adam, where art thou?" What a condition is thy poor soul
   in? This is the first thing the Lord asks and convinces a sinner of;
   when he prevents and calls him effectually by his grace; he also calls
   him by name; for unless God speaks to us in particular, and we know
   where we are, how poor, how miserable, how blind, how naked, we shall
   never value the redemption wrought out for us by the death and
   obedience of the dear Lord Jesus. "Adam, where art thou?"

   Verse 10. "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was
   afraid." See what cowards sin makes us. If we knew no sin, we should
   know no fear. "Because I was naked, and I hid myself." Ver. 11, "And he
   said, who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree,
   whereof I (thy Maker and Law-giver) commanded thee, that thou shouldest
   not eat?"

   God knew very well that Adam was naked, and that he had eaten of the
   forbidden fruit, But God would know it from Adam's own mouth. Thus God
   knows all our necessities before we ask, but yet insists upon our
   asking for his grace, and confessing our sins. For, by such acts, we
   acknowledge our dependence upon God, take shame to ourselves, and
   thereby give glory to his great name.

   Verse 12. "And the man said, the woman which thou gavest to be with me,
   she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

   Never was nature more lively delineated. See what pride Adam contracted
   by the fall! How unwilling he is to lay the blame upon, or take shame
   to himself. This answer is full of insolence towards God, enmity
   against his wife, and disingenuity in respect to himself. For herein he
   tacitly reflects upon God. "The woman that thou gavest to be with me."
   As much as to say, if thou hadst not given me that woman, I had not
   eaten the forbidden fruit. Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon
   their passions; then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those
   passions. Their language is, "the appetites that thou gavest us, they
   deceived us; and therefore we sinned against thee." But, as God,
   notwithstanding, punished Adam for hearkening to the voice of his wife,
   so he will punish those who hearken to the dictates of their corrupt
   inclinations. For God compels no man to sin. Adam might have withstood
   the solicitations of his wife, if he would. And so, if we look up to
   God, we should find grace to help in the time of need. The devil and
   our own hearts tempt, but they cannot force us to consent, without the
   concurrence of our own wills. So that our damnation is of ourselves, as
   it will evidently appear at the great day, notwithstanding all men's
   present impudent replies against God. As Adam speaks insolently in
   respect to God, so he speaks with enmity against his wife; the woman,
   or this woman, she gave me. He lays all the fault upon her, and speaks
   of her with much contempt. He does not say, my wife, my dear wife; but,
   this woman. Sin disunites the most united hearts: It is, the bane of
   holy fellowship. Those who have been companions in sin here, if they
   die without repentance, will both hate and condemn one another
   hereafter. All damned souls are accusers of their brethren. Thus it is,
   in some degree, on this side of the grave. "The woman whom thou gavest
   to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." What a
   disingenuous [deceitful] speech was here! He makes use of no less than
   fifteen words to excuse himself, and but one or two (in the original)
   to confess his fault, if it may be called a confession at all. "The
   woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree;" here
   are fifteen words; "and I did eat." With what reluctance do these last
   words come out? How soon are they uttered are they uttered? "And I did
   eat." But thus it is with an unhumbled, unregenerate heart; It will be
   laying the fault upon the dearest friend in the world, nay, upon God
   himself, rather than take shame to itself. This pride we are all
   subject to by the fall; and, till our hearts are broken, and made
   contrite by the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be always
   charging God foolishly. "Against thee, and thee only, have I sinned,
   that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art
   judged," is the language of none but those, who, like David, are
   willing to confess their faults, and are truly sorry for their sins.
   This was not the case of Adam; his heart was not broken; and therefore
   he lays the fault of his disobedience upon his wife and God, and not
   upon himself; "The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me
   of the tree, and I did eat."

   Verse 13. "And the Lord God said, What is this that thou hast done?"
   What a wonderful concern does God express in this expostulation! "What
   a deluge of misery hast thou brought upon thyself, thy husband, and thy
   posterity? What is this that thou has done? Disobeyed thy God, obeyed
   the devil, and ruined thy husband, for whom I made thee to be an
   help-meet! What is this that thou hast done?" God would here awaken her
   to a sense of her crime and danger, and therefore, as it were, thunders
   in her ears: for the law must be preached to self-righteous sinners. We
   must take care of healing before we see sinners wounded, lest we should
   say, Peace, peace, where there is no peace. Secure sinners must hear
   the thunderings of mount Sinai, before we bring them to mount Zion.
   They who never preach up the law, it is to be feared, are unskillful in
   delivering the glad tidings of the gospel. Every minister should be a
   Boanerges, a son of thunder, as well as a Barnabus, a son of
   consolation. There was an earthquake and a whirlwind, before the small
   still voice came to Elijah: We must first show people they are
   condemned, and then show them how they must be saved. But how and when
   to preach the law, and when to apply the promises of the gospel, wisdom
   is profitable to direct. "And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is
   this that thou has done?"

   "And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." She does
   not make use of so many words to excuse herself, as her husband; but
   her heart is as unhumbled as his. What is this, says God, that thou
   hast done? God here charges her with doing it. She dares not deny the
   fact, or say, I have not done it; but she takes all the blame off
   herself, and lays it upon the serpent; "The serpent beguiled me, and I
   did eat." She does not say, "Lord, I was to blame for talking with the
   serpent; Lord, I did wrong, in not hastening to my husband, when he put
   the first question to me; Lord, I plead guilty, I only am to blame, O
   let not my poor husband suffer for my wickedness!" This would have been
   the language of her heart had she now been a true penitent. But both
   were now alike proud; therefore neither will lay the blame upon
   themselves; "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. The woman which
   thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

   I have been the more particular in remarking this part of their
   behavior, because it tends so much to the magnifying of Free-grace, and
   plainly shows us, that salvation cometh only from the Lord. Let us take
   a short view of the miserable circumstances our first parents were now
   in: They were legally and spiritually dead, children of wrath, and
   heirs of hell. They had eaten the fruit, of which God had commanded
   them, that they should not eat; and when arraigned before God,
   notwithstanding their crime was so complicated, they could not be
   brought to confess it. What reason can be given, why sentence of death
   should not be pronounced against the prisoners at the bar? All must own
   they are worthy to die. Nay, how can God, consistently with his
   justice, possibly forgive them? He had threatened, that the day wherein
   they eat of the forbidden fruit, they should "surely die;" and, if he
   did not execute this threatening, the devil might then slander the
   Almighty indeed. And yet mercy cries, spare these sinners, spare the
   work of thine own hands. Behold, then, wisdom contrives a scheme how
   God may be just, and yet be merciful; be faithful to his threatening,
   punish the offense, and at the same time spare the offender. An amazing
   scene of divine love here opens to our view, which had been from all
   eternity hid in the heart of God! Notwithstanding Adam and Eve were
   thus unhumbled, and did not so much as put up one single petition for
   pardon, God immediately passes sentence upon the serpent, and reveals
   to them a Savior.

   Verse 14. "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast
   done this, thou art accursed above all cattle, and above every beast of
   the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all
   the days of thy life;" i.e. he should be in subjection, and his power
   should always be limited and restrained. "His enemies shall lick the
   very dust," says the Psalmist. (Verse 15.) "And I will put enmity
   between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall
   bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

   Before I proceed to the explanation of this verse, I cannot but take
   notice of one great mistake which the author of the whole duty of man
   is guilty of, in making this verse contain a covenant between God and
   Adam, as though God now personally treated with Adam, as before the
   fall. For, talking of the second covenant in his preface, concerning
   caring for the soul, says he, "This second covenant was made with Adam,
   and us in him, presently after the fall, and is briefly contained in
   these words, Gen. 3:15 where God declares, The seed of the woman shall
   break the serpent's head; and this was made up, as the first was, of
   some mercies to be afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by
   us." This is exceeding false divinity: for those words are not spoken
   to Adam; they are directed only to the serpent. Adam and Eve stood by
   as criminals, and God could not treat with them, because they had
   broken his covenant. And it is so far from being a covenant wherein
   "some mercies are to be afforded by God, and some duties to be
   performed by us," that here is not a word looking that way; it is only
   a declaration of a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our
   Lord. God the Father and God the Son had entered into a covenant
   concerning the salvation of the elect from all eternity, wherein God
   the Father promised, That, if the Son would offer his soul a sacrifice
   for sin, he should see his seed. Now this is an open revelation of this
   secret covenant, and therefore God speaks in the most positive terms,
   "It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The first
   Adam, God had treated with before; he proved false: God therefore, to
   secure the second covenant from being broken, puts it into the hands of
   the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Adam, after the fall, stood no
   longer as our representative; he and Eve were only private persons, as
   we are, and were only to lay hold on the declaration of mercy contained
   in this promise by faith, (as they really did) and by that they were
   saved. I do not say but we are to believe and obey, if we are
   everlastingly saved. Faith and obedience are conditions, if we only
   mean that they in order go before our salvation, but I deny that these
   are proposed by God to Adam, or that God treats with him in this
   promise, as he did before the fall under the covenant of works. For how
   could that be, when Adam and Eve were now prisoners at the bar, without
   strength to perform any conditions at all? The truth is this: God, as a
   reward of Christ's sufferings, promised to give the elect faith and
   repentance, in order to bring them to eternal life; and both these, and
   every thing else necessary for their everlasting happiness, and
   infallibly secured to them in this promise; as Mr. Rastan, an excellent
   Scots divine, clearly shows, in a book entitled, "A View of the
   Covenant of Grace."

   This is by no means an unnecessary distinction; it is a matter of great
   importance: for want of knowing this, people have been so long misled,
   They have been taught that they must do so and so, and though they were
   under a covenant of works, and then for doing this, they should be
   saved. Whereas, on the contrary, people should be taught, That the Lord
   Jesus was the second Adam, with whom the Father entered into covenant
   for fallen man; That they can now do nothing of or for themselves, and
   should therefore come to God, beseeching him to give them faith, by
   which they shall be enabled to lay hold on the righteousness of Christ;
   and that faith they will then show forth by their works, out of love
   and gratitude to the ever blessed Jesus, their most glorious Redeemer,
   for what he has done for their souls. This is a consistent scriptural
   scheme; without holding this, we must run into one of those two bad
   extremes; I mean Antinomianism on the one hand, or Arminianism on the
   other: from both which may the good Lord deliver us!

   But to proceed: By the seed of the woman, we are here to understand the
   Lord Jesus Christ, who, though very God of very God, was, for us men
   and our salvation, to have a body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost,
   and to be born of a woman who never knew man, and by his obedience and
   death make an atonement for man's transgression, and bring in an
   everlasting righteousness, work in them a new nature, and thereby
   bruise the serpent's head, i.e. destroy his power and dominion over
   them. By the serpent's seed, we are to understand the devil and all his
   children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift his children. But,
   blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.

   It is to be doubted but Adam and Eve understood this promise in this
   sense; for it is plain, in the latter part of the chapter, sacrifices
   were instituted. From whence should those skins come, but from beasts
   slain for sacrifice, of which God made them coats? We find Abel, as
   well as Cain, offering sacrifice in the next chapter: and the Apostle
   tells us, he did it by faith, no doubt in this promise. And Eve, when
   Cain was born, said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord," or, (as Mr.
   Henry observes, it may be rendered) "I have gotten a man, -- the Lord,
   -- the promised Messiah." Some further suppose, that Eve was the first
   believer; and therefore they translate it thus, "The seed, (not of the,
   but) of this woman:" which magnifies the grace of God so much the more,
   that she, who was first in the transgression, should be the first
   partaker of redemption. Adam believed also, and was saved: for unto
   Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed
   them: which was a remarkable type of their being clothed with the
   righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

   This promise was literally fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus
   Christ. Satan bruised his heel, when he tempted him for forty days
   together in the wilderness: he bruised his heel, when he raised up
   strong persecution against him during the time of his public ministry:
   he in an especial manner bruised his heel, when our Lord complained,
   that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and he sweat
   great drops of blood falling upon the ground, in the garden; He bruised
   his heel, when he put it into the heart of Judas to betray him: and he
   bruised him yet most of all, when his emissaries nailed him to an
   accursed tree, and our Lord cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou
   forsaken me?" Yet, in all this, the blessed Jesus, the seed of the
   woman, bruised Satan's accursed head; for, in that he was tempted, he
   was able to succor those that are tempted. By his stripes we are
   healed. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. By dying, he
   destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. He
   thereby spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them
   openly, triumphing over them upon the cross.

   This promise has been fulfilled in the elect of God, considered
   collectively, as well before, as since the coming of our Lord in the
   flesh: for they may be called, the seed of the woman. Marvel not, that
   all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution. In
   this promise, there is an eternal enmity put between the seed of the
   woman, and the seed of the serpent; so that those that are born after
   the flesh, cannot but persecute those that are born after the spirit.
   This enmity showed itself, soon after this promise was revealed, in
   Cain's bruising the heel of Abel: it continued in the church through
   all ages before Christ came in the flesh, as the history of the Bible,
   and the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, plainly show. It raged exceedingly
   after our Lord's ascension; witness the Acts of the Apostles, and the
   History of the Primitive Christians. It now rages, and will continue to
   rage and show itself, in a greater or less degree, to the end of time.
   But let not this dismay us; for in all this, the seed of the woman is
   more than conqueror, and bruises the serpent's head. Thus the
   Israelites, the more they were oppressed, the more they increased. Thus
   it was with the Apostles; thus it was with their immediate followers.
   So that Tertullian compares the church in his time to a mowed field;
   the more frequently it is cut, the more it grows. The blood of the
   martyrs was always the seed of the church. And I have often sat down
   with wonder and delight, and admired how God has made the very schemes
   which his enemies contrived, in order to hinder, become the most
   effectual means to propagate his gospel. The devil has had so little
   success in persecution, that if I did not know that he and his
   children, according to this verse, could not but persecute, I should
   think he would count it his strength to sit still. What did he get by
   persecuting the martyrs in Queen Mary's time? Was not the grace of God
   exceedingly glorified in their support? What did he get by persecuting
   the good old Puritans? Did it not prove the peopling of New-England?
   Or, to come nearer our own times, what has he got by putting us out of
   the synagogues? Hath not the word of God, since that, mightily
   prevailed? My dear hearers, you must excuse me for enlarging on this
   head; God fills my soul generally, when I come to this topic. I can say
   with Luther, "If it were not for persecution, I should not understand
   the scripture." If Satan should be yet suffered to bruise my heel
   further, and his servants should thrust me into prison, I doubt not,
   but even that would only tend to the more effectual bruising of his
   head. I remember a saying the then Lord Chancellor to the pious
   Bradford: "Thou hast done more hurt, said he, by thy exhortations in
   private in prison, than thou didst in preaching before thou was put
   in," or words to this effect. The promise of the text is my daily
   support: "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall
   bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

   Further: this promise is also fulfilled, not only in the church in
   general, but in every individual believer in particular. In every
   believer there are two seeds, the seed of the woman, and the seed of
   the serpent; the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit
   against the flesh. It is with the believer, when quickened with grace
   in his heart, as it was with Rebekah, when she had conceived Esau and
   Jacob in her womb; she felt a struggling, and began to be uneasy; "If
   it be so says she, why am I thus?" (Gen. 25:22) Thus grace and nature
   struggle (if I may so speak) in the womb of a believers heart: but, as
   it was there said, "The elder shall serve the younger;" so it is here,
   -- grace in the end shall get the better of nature; the seed of the
   woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Many of you that have believed
   in Christ, perhaps may find some particular corruption yet strong, so
   strong, that you are sometimes ready to cry out with David, "I shall
   fall one day by the hand of Saul." But, fear not, the promise in the
   text insures the perseverance and victory of believers over sin, Satan,
   death, and hell. What if indwelling corruption does yet remain, and the
   seed of the serpent bruise your heel, in vexing and disturbing your
   righteous souls? Fear not, though faint, yet pursue: you shall yet
   bruise the serpent's head. Christ hath died for you, and yet a little
   while, and he will send death to destroy the very being of sin in you.
   Which brings me to show the most extensive manner in which the promise
   of the text shall be fulfilled, vis. at the final judgment, when the
   Lord Jesus shall present the elect to his Father, without spot or
   wrinkle, or any such thing, glorified both in body and soul.

   Then shall the seed of the woman give the last and fatal blow, in
   bruising the serpent's head. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and
   all his accursed seed, shall then be cast out, and never suffered to
   disturb the seed of the woman any more. Then shall the righteous shine
   as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and sit with Christ on
   thrones in majesty on high.

   Let us, therefore, not be weary of well-doing; for we shall reap an
   eternal harvest of comfort, if we faint not. Dare, dare, my dear
   brethren in Christ, to follow the Captain of your salvation, who was
   made perfect through sufferings. The seed of the woman shall bruise the
   serpent's head. Fear not men. Be not too much cast down at the
   deceitfulness of your hearts. Fear not devils; you shall get the
   victory even over them. The Lord Jesus has engaged to make you more
   than conquerors over all. Plead with your Savior, plead: plead the
   promise in the tent. Wrestle, wrestle with God in prayer. If it has
   been given you to believe, fear not if it should also be given you to
   suffer. Be not any wise terrified by your adversaries; the king of the
   church has them all in a chain: be kind to them, pray for them; but
   fear them not. The Lord will yet bring back his ark; though at present
   driven into the wilderness; and Satan like lightening shall fall from
   heaven.

   Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text encourages
   me to bid you defiance: the seed of the woman, the ever-blessed Jesus,
   shall bruise the serpent's head. What signifies all your malice? You
   are only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you,
   without repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The
   Lord Jesus sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to
   work for his children's good: he laughs you to scorn: he hath you in
   the utmost derision, and therefore so will I. Who are you that
   persecute the children of the ever blessed God? Though a poor
   stripling, the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman, will enable me to
   bruise your heads.

   My brethren in Christ, I think I do not speak thus in my own strength,
   but in the strength of my Redeemer. I know in whom I have believed; I
   am persuaded he will keep that safe, which I have committed unto him.
   He is faithful who hath promised, that the seed of the woman shall
   bruise the serpent's head. May we all experience a daily completion of
   this promise, both in the church and in our hearts, till we come to the
   church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, in the
   presence and actual fruition of the great God our heavenly Father!

   To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor,
   power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

                                Walking with God

   Genesis 5:24 -- "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God
   took him."

   Various are the pleas and arguments which men of corrupt minds
   frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy
   commands of God. But, perhaps, one of the most common objections that
   they make is this, that our Lord's commands are not practicable,
   because contrary to flesh and blood; and consequently, that he is an
   hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has
   not strewed'. These we find were the sentiments entertained by that
   wicked and slothful servant mentioned in the 25th of St. Matthew; and
   are undoubtedly the same with many which are maintained in the present
   wicked and adulterous generation. The Holy Ghost foreseeing this, hath
   taken care to inspire holy men of old, to record the examples of many
   holy men and women; who, even under the Old Testament dispensation,
   were enabled cheerfully to take Christ's yoke upon them, and counted
   his service perfect freedom. The large catalogue of saints, confessors,
   and martyrs, drawn up in the 11th chapter to the Hebrews, abundantly
   evidences the truth of this observation. What a great cloud of
   witnesses have we there presented to our view? All eminent for their
   faith, but some shining with a greater degree of luster than do others.
   The proto-martyr Abel leads the van. And next to him we find Enoch
   mentioned, not only because he was next in order of time, but also on
   account of his exalted piety; he is spoken of in the words of the text
   in a very extraordinary manner. We have here a short but very full and
   glorious account, both of his behavior in this world, and the
   triumphant manner of his entry into the next. The former is contained
   in these words, And Enoch walked with God'. The latter in these, and he
   was not: for God took him'. He was not; that is, he was not found, he
   was not taken away in the common manner, he did not see death; for God
   had translated him. (Heb. 11:5.) Who this Enoch was, does not appear so
   plainly. To me, he seems to have been a person of public character; I
   suppose, like Noah, a preacher of righteousness. And, if we may credit
   the apostle Jude, he was a flaming preacher. For he quotes one of his
   prophecies, wherein he saith, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten
   thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince
   all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they
   have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly
   sinners have spoken against him'. But whether a public or private
   person, he has a noble testimony given him in the lively oracles. The
   author of the epistle to the Hebrews saith, that before his translation
   he had this testimony, that he pleased God'; and his being translated,
   was a proof of it beyond all doubt. And I would observe, that it was
   wonderful wisdom in God to translate Enoch and Elijah under the Old
   Testament dispensation, that hereafter, when it should be asserted that
   the Lord Jesus was carried into heaven, it might not seem a thing
   altogether incredible to the Jews; since they themselves confessed that
   two of their own prophets had been translated several hundred hears
   before. But it is not my design to detain you any longer, by enlarging,
   or making observations, on Enoch's short but comprehensive character:
   the thing I have in view being to give a discourse, as the Lord shall
   enable, upon a weighty and a very important subject; I mean, walking
   with God. And Enoch walked with God.' If so much as this can be truly
   said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to
   complain that we have lived in vain.

   In handling my intended subject, I shall,

   First, Endeavor to show what is implied in these words, walked with
   God.

   Secondly, I shall prescribe some means, upon the due observance of
   which, believers may keep up and maintain their walk with God. And,

   Thirdly, Offer some motives to stir us up, if we never walked with God
   before, to come and walk with God now. The whole shall be closed with a
   word or two of application.

   First, I am to show what is implied in these words, walked with God';
   or, in other words, what we are to understand by walking with God.

   And First, walking with God implies, that the prevailing power of the
   enmity of a person's heart be taken away by the blessed Spirit of God.
   Perhaps it may seem a hard saying to some, but our own experience daily
   proves what the scriptures in many places assert, that the carnal mind,
   the mind of the unconverted natural man, nay, the mind of the
   regenerate, so far as any part of him remains unrenewed, is enmity, not
   only an enemy, but enmity itself, against God; so that it is not
   subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. Indeed, one may
   well wonder that any creature, especially that lovely creature man,
   made after his Maker's own image, should ever have any enmity, much
   less a prevailing enmity, against that very God in whom he lives, and
   moves, and hath his being. But alas! so it is. Our first parents
   contracted it when they fell from God by eating the forbidden fruit,
   and the bitter and malignant contagion of it hath descended to, and
   quite overspread, their whole posterity. This enmity discovered itself
   in Adam's endeavoring to hide himself in the trees of the garden. When
   he heard the voice of the Lord God, instead of running with an open
   heart, saying Here I am; alas! he now wanted no communion with God; and
   still more discovered his lately contracted enmity, by the excuse he
   made to the Most High: The woman (or, this woman) thou gavest to be
   with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat'. By saying thus, he in
   effect lays all the fault upon God; as though he had said, If thou
   hadst not given me this woman, I had not sinned against thee, so thou
   mayest thank thyself for my transgression. In the same manner this
   enmity works in the hearts of Adam's children. They now and again find
   something rising against God, and saying even unto God, What doest
   thou? It scorns any meaner competitor (says the learned Dr. Owen, in
   his excellent treatise on indwelling sin) than God himself.' Its
   command is like that of the Assyrians in respect to Ahab -- shoot only
   at the king. And it strikes against every thing that has the appearance
   of real piety, as the Assyrians shot at Jehoshaphat in his royal
   clothes. But the opposition ceases when it finds that it is only an
   appearance, as the Assyrians left off shooting at Jehoshaphat, when
   they perceived it was not Ahab they were shooting at. This enmity
   discovered itself in accursed Cain; he hated and slew his brother Abel,
   because Abel loved, and was peculiarly favored by, his God. And this
   same enmity rules and prevails in every man that is naturally
   engendered of the offspring of Adam. Hence that a averseness to prayer
   and holy duties which we find in children, and very often in grown
   persons, who have notwithstanding been blessed with a religious
   education. And all that open sin and wickedness, which like a deluge
   has overflowed the world, are only so many streams running from this
   dreadful contagious fountain; I mean a enmity of man's desperately
   wicked and deceitful heart. He that cannot set his seal to this, knows
   nothing yet, in a saving manner, of the Holy Scriptures, or of the
   power of God. And all that do know this, will readily acknowledge, that
   before a person can be said to walk with God, the prevailing power of
   this heart-enmity must be destroyed: for persons do not use to walk and
   keep company together, who entertain an irreconcilable enmity and
   hatred against one another. Observe me, I say, the prevailing power of
   this enmity must be taken away; for the in-being of it will never be
   totally removed, till we bow down our heads, and give up the ghost. The
   apostle Paul, no doubt, speaks of himself, and that, too, not when he
   was a Pharisee, but a real Christian; when he complains, that when he
   would do good, evil was present with him'; not having dominion over
   him, but opposing and resisting his good intentions and actions, so
   that he could not do the things which he would, in that perfection
   which the new man desired. This is what he calls sin dwelling in him.
   And this is that phronhma sarko", which (to use the words of the ninth
   article of our church,) some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality,
   some the affectation, some the desire, of the flesh, which doth remain,
   yea, in them that are regenerated.' But as for its prevailing power, it
   is destroyed in every soul that is truly born of God, and gradually
   more and more weakened as the believer grows in grace, and the Spirit
   of God gains a greater and greater ascendancy in the heart.

   But Secondly, Walking with God not only implies, that the prevailing
   power of the enmity of a man's heart be taken away, but also that a
   person is actually reconciled to God the Father, in and through the
   all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of his dear Son. Can two
   walk together, (says Solomon, [actually Amos 3:3]) unless they are
   agreed?' Jesus is our peace as well as our peace-maker. When we are
   justified by faith in Christ, then, but not till then, we have peace
   with God; and consequently cannot be said till then to walk with him,
   walking with a person being a sign and token that we are friends to
   that person, or at least, though we have been at variance, yet that now
   we are reconciled and become friends again. This is the great errand
   that gospel ministers are sent out upon. To us is committed the
   ministry of reconciliation; as ambassadors for God, we are to beseech
   sinners, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto God, and when they
   comply with the gracious invitation, and are actually by faith brought
   into a state of reconciliation with God, then, and not till then, may
   they be said so much as to begin to walk with God.

   Further, Thirdly, Walking with God implies a settled abiding communion
   and fellowship with God, or what in scripture is called, The Holy Ghost
   dwelling in us'. This is what our Lord promised when he told his
   disciples that the Holy Spirit would be in and with them'; not to be
   like wayfaring man, to say only for a night, but to reside and make his
   abode in their hearts. This, I am apt to believe, is what the apostle
   John would have us understand, when he talks of a person abiding in
   him, in Christ, and walking as he himself also walked'. And this is
   what is particularly meant in the words of our text. And Enoch walked
   with God', that is, he kept up and maintained a holy, settled,
   habitual, though undoubtedly not altogether uninterrupted communion and
   fellowship with God, in and through Christ Jesus. So that to sum up
   what has been said on this part of the first general head, walking with
   God consists especially in the fixed habitual bent of the will for God,
   in an habitual dependence upon his power and promise, in an habitual
   voluntary dedication of our all to his glory, in an habitual eyeing of
   his precept in all we do, and in an habitual complacence in his
   pleasure in all we suffer.

   Fourthly, walking with God implies our making progress or advances in
   the divine life. Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to
   suppose a progressive motion. A person that walks, though he move
   slowly, yet he goes forward, and does not continue in one place. And so
   it is with those that walk with God. They go on, as the Psalmist says,
   from strength to strength'; or, in the language of the apostle Paul,
   they pass from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord'. Indeed,
   in one sense, the divine life admits of neither increase nor decrease.
   When a soul is born of God, to all intents and purposes he is a child
   of God; and though he should live to the age of Methuselah, yet he
   would then be only a child of God after all. But in another sense, the
   divine life admits of decays and additions. Hence it is, that we find
   the people of God charged with backslidings and losing their first
   love. And hence it is that we hear of babes, young men, and fathers in
   Christ. And upon this account it is that the apostle exhorts Timothy,
   to let his progress be made known to all men'. And what is here
   required of Timothy in particular, by St. Peter is enjoined on all
   Christians in general. But grow in grace, (says he), and in the
   knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'. For the new creature
   increases in spiritual stature; and though a person can but be a new
   creature, yet there are some that are more conformed to the divine
   image than others, and will after death be admitted to a greater degree
   of blessedness. For want of observing this distinction, even some
   gracious souls, that have better hearts than heads, (as well as men of
   corrupt minds, reprobates concerning the faith) have unawares run into
   downright Antinomian principles, denying all growth of grace in a
   believer, or any marks of grace to be laid down in the scriptures of
   truth. From such principles, and more especially from practices
   naturally consequent on such principles, may the Lord of all lords
   deliver us!

   From what then has been said, we may now know what is implied in the
   words, walked with God', viz. Our having the prevailing enmity of our
   hearts taken away by the power of the Spirit of God; our being actually
   reconciled and united to him by faith in Jesus Christ; our having and
   keeping up a settled communion and fellowship with him; and our making
   a daily progress in this fellowship, so as to be conformed to the
   divine image more and more.

   How this is done, or, in other words, by what means believers keep up
   and maintain their walk with God, comes to be considered under our
   second general head.

   And, First, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by
   reading of his holy word. Search the scriptures', says our blessed
   Lord, for these are they that testify of me'. And the royal Psalmist
   tells us that God's word was a light unto his feet, and a lantern unto
   his paths'; and he makes it one property of a good man, that his
   delight is in the law of the Lord, and that he exercises himself
   therein day and night'. Give thyself to reading', (says Paul to
   Timothy); And this book of the law, (says God to Joshua) shall not go
   out of thy mouth'. For whatsoever was written aforetime was written for
   our learning. And the word of God is profitable for reproof, for
   correction, and for instruction in righteousness, and every way
   sufficient to make every true child of God thoroughly furnished unto
   every good work. If we once get above our Bibles, and cease making the
   written word of God our sole rule both as to faith and practice, we
   shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger
   of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Our blessed Lord,
   though he had the Spirit of God without measure, yet always was
   governed by, and fought the devil with, It is written'. This the
   apostle calls the sword of the Spirit'. We may say of it, as David said
   of Goliath's sword, None like this'. The scriptures are called the
   lively oracles of God: not only because they are generally made use of
   to beget in us a new life, but also to keep up and increase it in the
   soul. The apostle Peter, in his second epistle, prefers it even to
   seeing Christ transfigured upon the mount. For after he had said, chap.
   1:18. This voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him
   in the holy mount'; he adds, We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
   whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a
   dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts':
   that is, till we shake off these bodies, and see Jesus face to face.
   Till then we must see and converse with him through the glass of his
   word. We must make his testimonies our counselors, and daily, with
   Mary, sit at Jesus' feet, by faith hearing his word. We shall then by
   happy experience find, that they are spirit and life, meat indeed and
   drink indeed, to our souls.

   Secondly, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret
   prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of
   supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the
   divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by
   God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame. A neglect of secret
   prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has
   been attended with fatal consequences. Origen observed, 'hat the day he
   offered incense to an idol, he went out of his closet without making
   use of secret prayer'' It is one of the most noble parts of the
   believers' spiritual armor. Praying always', says the apostle, with all
   manner of supplication.' Watch and pray', says our Lord, that ye enter
   not into temptation.' And he spake a parable, that his disciples should
   pray, and not faint. Not that our Lord would have us always upon our
   knees, or in our closets, to the neglect of our other relative duties.
   But he means, that our souls should be kept in a praying frame, so that
   we might be able to say, as a good man in Scotland once said to his
   friends on his death-bed, Could these curtains, or could these walls
   speak, they would tell you what sweet communion I have had with my God
   here'. O prayer! Prayer! It brings and keeps God and man together. It
   raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you would there, O
   believers, keep up your walk with God; pray, pray without ceasing. Be
   much in secret, set prayer. And when you are about the common business
   of life, be much in ejaculatory prayer, and send, from time to time,
   short letters post to heaven upon the wings of faith. They will reach
   the very heart of God, and return to you again loaded with spiritual
   blessings.

   Thirdly, Holy and frequent meditation is another blessed means of
   keeping up a believer's walk with God. Prayer, reading, temptation, and
   meditation', says Luther, make a minister.' And they also make and
   perfect a Christian. Meditation to the soul, is the same as digestion
   to the body. Holy David found it so, and therefore he was frequently
   employed in meditation, even in the night season. We read also of
   Isaac's going out into the fields to meditate in the evening; or, as it
   is in the margin, to pray. For meditation is a kind of silent prayer,
   whereby the soul is frequently as it were carried out of itself to God,
   and in a degree made like unto those blessed spirits, who by a kind of
   immediate intuition always behold the face of our heavenly Father. None
   but those happy souls that have been accustomed to this divine employ,
   can tell what a blessed promoter of the divine life, meditation is.
   Whilst I was musing', says David, the fire kindled.' And whilst the
   believer is musing on the works and word of God, especially that work
   of works, that wonder of wonders, that mystery of godliness, God
   manifest in the flesh', the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the
   world, he frequently feels the fire of divine love kindle, so that he
   is obliged to speak with his tongue, and tell of the loving-kindness of
   the Lord to his soul. Be frequent therefore in meditation, all ye that
   desire to keep up and maintain a close and uniform walk with the most
   high God.

   Fourthly, Believers keep up their walk with God, by watching and noting
   his providential dealings with them. If we believe the scriptures, we
   must believe what our Lord hath declared therein, That the very hairs
   of his disciples' heads are all numbered; and that a sparrow does not
   fall to the ground, (either to pick up a grain of corn, or when shot by
   a fowler), without the knowledge of our heavenly Father'. Every cross
   has a call in it, and every particular dispensation of divine
   providence has some particular end to answer in those to whom it is
   sent. If it be of an afflictive nature, God does thereby say, My son,
   keep thyself from idols': if prosperous, he does, as it were by a small
   still voice, say, My son, give me thy heart'. If believers, therefore,
   would keep up their walk with God, they must from time to time hear
   what the Lord has to say concerning them in the voice of his
   providence. Thus we find that Abraham's servant, when he went to fetch
   a wife for his master Isaac, eyed and watched the providence of God,
   and by that means found out the person that was designed for his
   master's wife. For a little hint from providence', says pious Bishop
   Hall, is enough for faith to feed upon.' And as I believe it will be
   one part of our happiness in heaven, to take a view of, and look back
   upon, the various links of the golden chain which drew us there; so
   those that enjoy most of heaven below, I believe, will be the most
   minute in remarking God's various dealings with them, in respect to his
   providential dispensations here on earth.

   Fifthly, In order to walk closely with God, his children must not only
   watch the motions of God's providence without them, but the motions
   also of his blessed Spirit in their hearts. As many as are the sons of
   God, are led by the Spirit of God', and give up themselves to be guided
   by the Holy Ghost, as a little child gives its hand to be led by a
   nurse or parent. It is no doubt in this sense that we are to be
   converted, and become like little children. And though it is the
   quintessence of enthusiasm, to pretend to be guided by the Spirit
   without the written word; yet it is every Christian's bounden duty to
   be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written word of God.
   Watch, therefore, I pray you, O believers, the motions of God's blessed
   Spirit in your souls, and always try the suggestions or impressions
   that you may at any time feel, by the unerring rule of God's most holy
   word: and if they are not found to be agreeable to that, reject them as
   diabolical and delusive. By observing this caution, you will steer a
   middle course between the two dangerous extremes many of this
   generation are in danger of running into; I mean, enthusiasm, on the
   one hand, and deism, and downright infidelity, on the other.

   Sixthly, They that would maintain a holy walk with God, must walk with
   him in ordinances as well as providences, etc. It is therefore recorded
   of Zachary and Elizabeth, that they walked in all God's ordinances, as
   well as commandments, blameless'. And all rightly informed Christians,
   will look upon ordinances, not as beggarly elements, but as so many
   conduit-pipes, whereby the infinitely condescending Jehovah conveys his
   grace to their souls. They will look upon them as children's bread, and
   as their highest privileges. Consequently they will be glad when they
   hear others say, Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord'. They
   will delight to visit the place where God's honor dwelleth, and be very
   eager to embrace all opportunities to show forth the Lord Christ's
   death till he come.

   Seventhly and Lastly, If you would walk with God, you will associate
   and keep company with those that do walk with him. My delight', says
   holy David, is in them that do excel' in virtue. They were, in his
   sight, the excellent ones of the earth. And the primitive Christians,
   no doubt, kept up their vigor and first love, by continuing in
   fellowship one with another. The apostle Paul knew this full well, and
   therefore exhorts the Christians to see to it, that they did not
   forsake the assembling of themselves together. For how can one be warm
   alone? And has not the wisest of men told us, that As iron sharpeneth
   iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend?' If we look,
   therefore, into church history, or make a just observation of our own
   times, I believe we shall find, that as the power of God prevails,
   Christian societies, and fellowship meetings prevail proportionably.
   And as one decays, the other has insensibly decayed and dwindled away
   at the same time. So necessary is it for those that would walk with
   God, and keep up the life of religion, to meet together as they have
   opportunity, in order to provoke one another to love and good works.

   Proceed we now to the third general thing proposed: to offer some
   motives to excite all to come and walk with God.

   And, First, walking with God is a very honorable thing. This generally
   is a prevailing motive to persons of all ranks, to stir them up to any
   important undertaking. O that it may have its due weight and influence
   with you in respect to the matter now before us! I suppose you would
   all think it a very high honor to be admitted into an earthly prince's
   privy council, to be trusted with his secrets, and to have his ear at
   all times and at all seasons. It seems Haman thought it so when he
   boasted, Esther 5:11, that besides his being advanced above the princes
   and servants of the king; yea, moreover, Esther the queen did let no
   man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared, but
   myself; and to-morrow am I invited unto her also with the king'. And
   when afterwards a question was put to this same Haman, Chap. 6:6. What
   shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?' he
   answered, verse 8. Let the royal apparel be brought which the king used
   to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal
   which is set upon his head; and let this apparel and horse be delivered
   to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may
   array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honor, and bring him
   on horseback through the street of the city and proclaim before him,
   Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor.'
   This was all, then, it seems, that an ambitious Haman could ask, and
   the most valuable thing that he thought Ahasuerus, the greatest monarch
   upon earth, could give. But, alas, what is this honor in comparison of
   that which the meanest of those enjoy, that walk with God! Think ye it
   a small thing, sirs, to have the secret of the Lord of lords with you,
   and to be called the friends of God? And such honor have all God's
   saints. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him: and
   Henceforth(says the blessed Jesus) call I you no longer servants, but
   friends; for the servant knoweth not the will of his master'. Whatever
   you may think of it, holy David was so sensible of the honor attending
   a walk with God that he declares, he had rather be a door-keeper in his
   house, than to dwell even in the tents of ungodliness'. O that all were
   like-minded with him!

   But, Secondly, As it is an honorable, so it is a pleasing thing, to
   walk with God. The wisest of men has told us, that wisdom's ways are
   ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace'. And I remember pious
   Mr. Henry, when he was about to expire, said to a friend, You have
   heard many men's dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in
   communion with God, is the pleasantest life in the world'. I am sure I
   can set to my seal that this is true. Indeed, I have been listed under
   Jesus' banner only for a few years; but I have enjoyed more solid
   pleasure in one moment's communion with my god, than I should or could
   have enjoyed in the ways of sin, though I had continued to have gone on
   in them for thousands of years. And may I not appeal to all you that
   fear and walk with God, for the truth of this? Has not one day in the
   Lord's courts been better to you than a thousand? In keeping God's
   commandments, have you not found a present, and very great reward? Has
   not his word been sweeter to you than the honey or the honeycomb? O
   what have you felt, when, Jacob-like, you have been wrestling with your
   God? Has not Jesus often met you when meditating in the fields, and
   been made known to you over and over again in breaking of bread? Has
   not the Holy Ghost frequently shed the divine love abroad in your
   hearts abundantly, and filled you with joy unspeakable, even joy that
   is full of glory? I know you will answer all these questions in the
   affirmative, and freely acknowledge the yoke of Christ to be easy, and
   his burden light; or (to use the words of one of our collects), His
   service is perfect freedom'. And what need we then any further motive
   to excite us to walk with God?

   But methinks I hear some among you say, How can these things be? For,
   if walking with God, as you say, is such an honorable and pleasant
   thing, whence is it that the name of the people of this way is cast out
   as evil, and every where spoken against? How comes it to pass that they
   are frequently afflicted, tempted, destitute, and tormented? Is this
   the honor, this the pleasure, that you speak of?' I answer, Yes. Stop a
   while; be not over hasty. Judge not according to appearance, but judge
   righteous judgment, and all will be well. It is true, we acknowledge
   the people of this way', as you, and Paul before you, when a
   persecutor, called them, have their names cast out as evil, and are a
   sect every where spoken against. But by whom? Even by the enemies of
   the most high God. And do you think it is disgrace to be spoken evil of
   by them? Blessed be God, we have not so learned Christ. Our royal
   Master has pronounced those blessed, who are persecuted, and have all
   manner of evil spoken against them falsely'. He has commanded them to
   rejoice and be exceeding glad', for it is the privilege of their
   discipleship, and that their reward will be great in heaven. He himself
   was thus treated. And can there be a greater honor put upon a creature,
   than to be conformed to the ever-blessed Son of God? And further, it is
   equally true that the people of this way are frequently afflicted,
   tempted, destitute, and tormented. But what of all this? Does this
   destroy the pleasure of walking with God? No, in no wise; for those
   that walk with God are enabled, through Christ strengthening them, to
   joy even in tribulation, and to rejoice when they fall into divers
   temptations. And I believe I may appeal to the experience of all true
   and close walkers with God, whether or not their suffering times have
   not frequently been their sweetest times, and that they enjoyed most of
   God when most cast out and despised by men? This we find was the case
   of Christ's primitive servants, when threatened by the Jewish
   sanhedrin, and commanded to preach no more in the name of Jesus; they
   rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for the sake
   of Jesus. Paul and Silas sang praises even in a dungeon; and the face
   of Stephen, that glorious proto-martyr of the Christian church, shone
   like the face of an angel. And Jesus is the same now as he was then,
   and takes care so to sweeten sufferings and afflictions with his love,
   that his disciples find, by happy experience, that as afflictions
   abound, consolations do much more abound. And therefore these
   objections, instead of destroying, do only enforce the motives before
   urged, to excite you to walk with God.

   But supposing the objections were just, and walkers with God were as
   despicable and unhappy as you would represent them to be; yet I have a
   third motive to offer, which if weighed in the balance of the
   sanctuary, will over-weigh all objections, viz. That there is a heaven
   at the end of this walk. For, to use the words of pious bishop
   Beveridge, Though the way be narrow, yet it is not long: and though the
   gate be strait, yet it opens into everlasting life'. Enoch found it so.
   He walked with God on earth, and God took him to sit down with him for
   ever in the kingdom of heaven. Not that we are to expect to be taken
   away as he was: no, I suppose we shall all die the common death of all
   men. But after death, the spirits of those who have walked with God
   shall return to God that gave them; and at the morning of the
   resurrection, soul and body shall be for ever with the Lord; their
   bodies shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, and their
   souls filled with all the fullness of God. They shall sit on thrones;
   they shall judge angels. They shall be enabled to sustain an exceeding
   and eternal weight of glory, even that glory which Jesus Christ enjoyed
   with the Father before the world began. O gloriam quantam et qualem',
   said the learned and pious Arndt, just before he bowed down his head,
   and gave up the ghost. The very thought of it is enough to make us wish
   to leap our seventy years', as good Dr. Watts expresses himself, and to
   make us break out into the earnest language of the royal Psalmist, My
   soul is athirst for God, yea, for the living God. When shall I come to
   appear in the presence of my God?' I wonder not that a sense of this,
   when under a more than ordinary irradiation and influx of divine life
   and love, causes some persons to faint away, and even for a time lose
   the power of their senses. A less sight than this, even the sight of
   Solomon's glory, made Sheba's queen astonished; and a still lesser
   sight than that, even a sight of Joseph's wagons, made holy Jacob
   faint, and for a while, as it were, die away. Daniel, when admitted to
   a distant view of this excellent glory, fell down at the feet of the
   angel as one dead. And if a distant view of this glory be so excellent,
   what must the actual possession of it be? If the first fruits are so
   glorious, how infinitely must the harvest exceed in glory?

   And now, what shall I, or, indeed, what can I well say more to excite
   you, even you that are yet strangers to Christ, to come and walk with
   God? If you love honor, pleasure, and a crown of glory, come, seek it
   where alone it can be found. Come, put ye on the Lord Jesus. Come,
   haste ye away and walk with God, and make no longer provision for the
   flesh, to fulfill the lust thereof. Stop, stop, O sinner! Turn ye, turn
   ye, O ye unconverted men, for the end of that way you are now walking
   in, however right it may seem in your blinded eyes, will be death, even
   eternal destruction both of body and soul. Make no longer tarrying, I
   say: at your peril I charge you, step not one step further on in your
   present walk. For how knowest thou, O man, but the next step thou
   takest may be into hell? Death may seize thee, judgment find thee, and
   then the great gulf will be fixed between thee and endless glory for
   ever and ever. O think of these things, all ye that are unwilling to
   walk with God. Lay them to heart. Show yourselves men, and in the
   strength of Jesus say, Farewell, lust of the flesh, I will no more walk
   with thee! Farewell, lust of the eye, and pride of life! Farewell,
   carnal acquaintance and enemies of the cross, I will no more walk and
   be intimate with you! Welcome Jesus, welcome thy word, welcome thy
   ordinances, welcome thy Spirit, welcome thy people, I will henceforth
   walk with you. O that there may be in you such a mind! God will set his
   almighty fiat to it, and seal it with the broad seal of heaven, even
   the signet of his holy Spirit. Yes, he will, though you have been
   walking with, and following after, the devices and desires of your
   desperately wicked hearts ever since you have been born. I, the high
   and lofty One', says the great Jehovah, that inhabiteth eternity, will
   dwell with the humble and contrite heart, even with the man that
   trembleth at my word.' The blood, even the precious blood of Jesus
   Christ, if you come to the Father in and through him, shall cleanse you
   from all sin.

   But the text leads me to speak to you that are saints as well as to you
   that are open and unconverted sinners. I need not tell you, that
   walking with God is not honorable, but pleasant and profitable also;
   for ye know it by happy experience, and will find it more and more so
   every day. Only give me leave to stir up your pure minds by way of
   remembrance, and to beseech you by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus,
   to take heed to yourselves, and walk closer with your God than you have
   in days past: for the nearer you walk with God, the more you will enjoy
   of him whose presence is life, and be the better prepared for being
   placed at his right hand, where are pleasures for evermore. O do not
   follow Jesus afar off! O be not so formal, so dead and stupid in your
   attendance on holy ordinances! Do not so shamefully forsake the
   assembling yourselves together, or be so niggardly or indifferent about
   the things of God. Remember what Jesus says of the church of Laodicea,
   Because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my
   mouth'. Think of the love of Jesus, and let that love constrain you to
   keep near unto him; and though you die for him, do not deny him, do not
   keep at a distance from him in any wise.

   One word to my brethren in the ministry that are here present, and I
   have done. You see, my brethren, my heart is full; I could almost say
   it is too big to speak, and yet too big to be silent, without dropping
   a word to you. For does not the text speak in a particular manner to
   those who have the honor of being styled the ambassadors of Christ, and
   stewards of the mysteries of God. I observed at the beginning of this
   discourse, that Enoch in all probability was a public person, and a
   flaming preacher. Though he be dead, does he not yet speak to us, to
   quicken our zeal, and make us more active in the service of our
   glorious and ever-blessed Master? How did Enoch preach! How did Enoch
   walk with God, though he lived in a wicked and adulterous generation!
   Let us then follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ, and ere long,
   where he is there shall we be also. He is not entered into his rest:
   yet a little while and we shall enter into ours, and that too much
   sooner than he did. He sojourned here below three hundred years; but
   blessed be God, the days of man are now shortened, and in a few days
   our walk will be over. The Judge is before the door: he that cometh
   will come, and will not tarry: his reward is with him. And we shall all
   (if we are zealous for the Lord of hosts) ere long shine as the stars
   in the firmament, in the kingdom of our heavenly Father, for ever and
   ever. To Him, the blessed Jesus, and eternal Spirit, be all honor and
   glory, now, and to all eternity. Amen, and Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

                      Abraham's Offering Up His Son Isaac

   Genesis 22:12 -- "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither
   do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God,
   seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me." [1]

   The great Apostle Paul, in one of his epistles, informs us, that
   "whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we
   through patience and comfort of the holy scripture might have hope."
   And as without faith it is impossible to please God, or be accepted in
   Jesus, the Son of his love; we may be assured, that whatever instances
   of a more than common faith are recorded in the book of God, they were
   more immediately designed by the Holy Spirit for our learning and
   imitation, upon whom the ends of the world are come. For this reason,
   the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, in the 11th chapter, mentions
   such a noble catalogue of Old Testament saints and martyrs, "who
   subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions,
   etc. and are gone before us to inherit the promises." A sufficient
   confutation, I think, of their error, who lightly esteem the Old
   Testament saints, and would not have them mentioned to Christians, as
   persons whose faith and patience we are called upon more immediately to
   follow. If this was true, the apostle would never have produced such a
   cloud of witnesses out of the Old Testament, to excite the Christians
   of the first, and consequently purest age of the church, to continue
   steadfast and unmoveable in the profession of their faith. Amidst this
   catalogue of saints, methinks the patriarch Abraham shines the
   brightest, and differs from the others, as one star differeth from
   another star in glory; for he shone with such distinguished luster,
   that he was called the "friend of God," the "father of the faithful;"
   and those who believe on Christ, are said to be "sons and daughters of,
   and to be blessed with, faithful Abraham." Many trials of his faith did
   God send this great and good man, after he had commanded him to get out
   from his country, and from his kindred, unto a land which he should
   show him; but the last was the most severe of all, I mean, that of
   offering up his only son. This, by the divine assistance, I propose to
   make the subject of your present meditation, and, by way of conclusion,
   to draw some practical inferences, as God shall enable me, from this
   instructive story.

   The sacred penman begins the narrative thus; verse 1. "And it came to
   pass, after these things, God did tempt Abraham." After these things,
   that it, after he had underwent many severe trials before, after he was
   old, full of days, and might flatter himself perhaps that the troubles
   and toils of life were now finished; "after these things, God did tempt
   Abraham." Christians, you know not what trials you may meet with before
   you die: notwithstanding you may have suffered, and been tried much
   already, yet, it may be, a greater measure is still behind, which you
   are to fill up. "Be not high-minded, but fear." Our last trials, in all
   probability, will be the greatest: and we can never say our warfare is
   accomplished, or our trials finished, till we bow down our heads, and
   give up the ghost. "And it came to pass, after these things, that God
   did tempt Abraham."

   "God did tempt Abraham." But can the scripture contradict itself? Does
   not the apostle James tell us, "that God tempts no man;" and God does
   tempt no man to evil, or on purpose to draw him into sin; for, when a
   man is thus tempted, he is drawn away of his own heart's lust, and
   enticed. But in another sense, God may be said to tempt, I mean, to try
   his servants; and in this sense we are to understand that passage of
   Matthew, where we are told, that, "Jesus was led up by the Spirit (the
   good Spirit) into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil." And our
   Lord, in that excellent form of prayer which he has been pleased to
   give us, does not require us to pray that we may not absolutely be led
   into temptation, but delivered from the evil of it; whence we may
   plainly infer, that God sees it fit sometimes to lead us into
   temptation, that is, to bring us into such circumstances as will try
   our faith and other Christian graces. In this sense we are to
   understand the expression before us; "God did tempt or try Abraham."

   How God was pleased to reveal his will at this time to his faithful
   servant, whether by the Sheckinah, or divine appearance, or by a small
   still voice, as he spoke to Elijah, or by a whisper, like that of the
   Spirit to Philip, when he commanded him to join himself to the eunuch's
   chariot, we are not told, nor is it material to inquire. It is enough
   that we are informed, God said unto him, Abraham; and that Abraham knew
   it was the voice of God: for he said, "Behold, here I am." O what a
   holy familiarity (if I may so speak) is there between God and those
   holy souls that are united to him by faith in Christ Jesus! God says,
   Abraham; and Abraham said (it should seem without the least surprise)
   Behold, here I am. Being reconciled to God by the death and obedience
   of Christ, which he rejoiced in, and saw by faith afar off; he did not,
   like guilty Adam, seed the trees of the garden to hide himself from,
   but takes pleasure in conversing with God, and talketh with him, as a
   man talketh with his friend. O that Christ-less sinners knew what it is
   to have fellowship with the Father and the Son! They would envy the
   happiness of saints, and count it all joy to be termed enthusiasts and
   fools for Christ's sake.

   But what does God say to Abraham? Verse 2. "Take now thy son, thine
   only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah,
   and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains
   which I shall tell thee of."

   Every word deserves our particular observation. Whatever he was to do,
   he must do it now, immediately, without conferring with flesh and
   blood. But what must he do? "Take now thy son." Had God said, take now
   a firstling, or choicest lamb or beast of thy flock, and offer it up
   for a burnt-offering, it would not have appeared so ghastly; but for
   God to say, "take now thy son, and offer him up for a burnt-offering,"
   one would imagine, was enough to stagger the strongest faith. But this
   is not all: it must not only be a son, but "thine only son Isaac, whom
   thou lovest." If it must be a son, and not a beast, that must be
   offered, why will not Ishmael do, the son of the bond-woman? No, it
   must be his only son, the heir of all, his Isaac, by interpretation
   laughter, the son of his old age, in whom his soul delighted, "whom
   thou lovest," says God, in whose life his own was wrapped up: and this
   son, this only son, this Isaac, the son of his love, must be taken now,
   even now, without delay, and be offered up by his own father, for a
   burnt offering, upon one of the mountains of the which God would tell
   him.

   Well might the apostle, speaking of this man of God, say, that "against
   hope he believed in hope, and, being strong in faith, gave glory to
   God." For, had he not been blessed with faith which man never before
   had, he must have refused to comply with this severe command. For now
   many arguments might nature suggest, to prove that such a command could
   never come from God, or to excuse himself from obeying it? "What!
   (might the good man have said) butcher my own child! It is contrary to
   the very law of nature: much more to butcher my dear son Isaac, in
   whose seed God himself has assured me of a numerous posterity. But
   supposing I could give up my own affections, and be willing to part
   with him, though I love him so dearly, yet, if I murder him, what will
   become of God's promise? Besides, I am now like a city built upon a
   hill; I shine as a light in the world, in the midst of a crooked and
   perverse generation: How then shall I cause God's name to be
   blasphemed, how shall I become a by-word among the heathen, if they
   hear that I have committed a crime which they abhor! But, above all,
   what will Sarah my wife say? How can I ever return to her again, after
   I have imbrued (to wet or stain) my hands in my dear child's blood? O
   that God would pardon me in this thing, or take my life in the place of
   my son's!" Thus, I say, Abraham might have argued, and that too
   seemingly with great reason, against complying with the divine command.
   But as before by faith he considered not the deadness of Sarah's womb,
   when she was past age, but believed on him, who said, "Sarah thy wife
   shall bear thee a son indeed;" so now, being convinced that the same
   God spoke to and commanded him to offer up that son, and knowing that
   God was able to raise him from the dead, without delay he obeys the
   heavenly call.

   O that unbelievers would learn of faithful Abraham, and believe
   whatever is revealed from God, though they cannot fully comprehend it!
   Abraham knew God commanded him to offer up his son, and therefore
   believed, notwithstanding carnal reasoning might suggest may
   objections. We have sufficient testimony, that God has spoken to us by
   his son; why should we not also believe, though many things in the New
   Testament are above our reason? For, where reason ends, faith begins.
   And, however infidels may stile themselves reasoners, of all men they
   are the most unreasonable: For, is it not contrary to all reason, to
   measure an infinite by a finite understanding, or think to find out the
   mysteries of godliness to perfection?

   But to return to the patriarch Abraham: We observed before what
   plausible objections he might have made; but he answered not a single
   word: no, without replying against his Maker, we are told, verse 3,
   that "Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and
   took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the
   wood for the burnt- offering, and rose up and went unto the place of
   which God had told him."

   From this verse we may gather, that God spoke to Abraham in a dream, or
   vision of the night: For it is said, he rose up early. Perhaps it was
   near the fourth watch of the night, just before break of day, when God
   said, Take now thy son; and Abraham rises up early to do so; as I doubt
   not but he used to rise early to offer up his morning-sacrifice of
   praise and thanksgiving. It is often remarked of people in the Old
   Testament, that they rose early in the morning; and particularly of our
   Lord in the New, that he rose a great while before day to pray. The
   morning befriends devotion; and, if people cannot use so much
   self-denial as to rise early to pray, I know not how they will be able
   to die at a stake (if called to it) for Jesus Christ.

   The humility as well as the piety of the patriarch is observable: he
   saddled his own ass (great men should be humble) and to show the
   sincerity, though he took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his
   son, yet he keeps his design as a secret from them all: nay, he does
   not so much as tell Sarah his wife; for he knew not but she might be a
   snare unto him in this affair; and, as Rebekah afterwards, on another
   occasion, advised Jacob to flee, so Sarah also might persuade Isaac to
   hide himself; or the young men, had they known of it, might have forced
   him away, as in after-ages the soldiers rescued Jonathan out of the
   hands of Saul. But Abraham fought no such evasion, and therefore, like
   an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, he himself resolutely
   "clave the wood for the burnt-offering, rose up and went unto the place
   of which God had told him." In the second verse God commanded him to
   offer up his son upon one of the mountains which he would tell him of.
   He commanded him to offer his son up, but would not then directly tell
   him the place where: this was to keep him dependent and watching unto
   prayer: for there is nothing like being kept waiting upon God; and, if
   we do, assuredly God will reveal himself unto us yet further in his own
   time. Let us practice what we know, follow providence so far as we can
   see already; and what we know not, what we see not as yet, let us only
   be found in the way of duty, and the Lord will reveal even that unto
   us. Abraham knew not directly where he was to offer up his son; but he
   rises up and sets forward, and behold now God shows him: "And he went
   to the place of which God had told him." Let us go and do likewise.

   Verse 4. "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the
   place afar off."

   So that the place, of which God had told him, was no less than three
   days journey distant from the place where God first appeared to him,
   and commanded him to take his son. Was not this to try his faith, and
   to let him see that what he did, was not merely from a sudden pang of
   devotion, but a matter of choice of deliberation? But who can tell what
   the aged patriarch felt during these three days? Strong as he was in
   faith, I am persuaded his bowels often yearned over his dear son Isaac.
   Methinks I see the good old man walking with his dear child in his
   hand, and now and then looking upon him, loving him, and then turning
   aside to weep. And perhaps, sometimes he stays a little behind to pour
   out his heart before God, for he had no mortal to tell his case to.
   Then, methinks, I see him join his son and servants again, and talking
   to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, as they walked
   by the way. At length, "on the third day, he lifts up his eyes, and saw
   the place afar off." And, to show that he was yet sincerely resolved to
   do whatsoever the Lord requested of him, he even how will not discover
   his design to his servants, but "said, verse 5. To his young men," (as
   we should say to our worldly thoughts, when about to tread the courts
   of the Lord's house) "Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad
   will go up yonder and worship, and come again to you." This was a
   sufficient reason for their staying behind; and, it being their
   master's custom to go frequently to worship, they could have no
   suspicion of what he was going about. And by Abraham's saying, that he
   and the lad would come again, I am apt to think he believed God would
   raise him from the dead, if so be he permitted him to offer his child
   up for a burnt-offering. However that be, he is yet resolved to obey
   God to the uttermost; and therefore,

   Verse 6. "Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon
   Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and they
   went both of them together." Little did Isaac think that he was to be
   offered on that very wood which he was carrying upon his shoulders; and
   therefore Isaac innocently, and with a holy freedom (for good men
   should not keep their children at too great a distance) "spake unto
   Abraham his father, and said, My father; and he (with equal affection
   and holy condescension) said, Here am I, my son." And to show how
   careful Abraham had been (as all Christian parents ought to do) to
   instruct his Isaac how to sacrifice to God, like a youth trained up in
   the way wherein he should go; Isaac said, "Behold the fire and the
   wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" How beautiful is
   early piety! How amiable, to hear young people ask questions about
   sacrificing to God in an acceptable way! Isaac knew very well that a
   lamb was wanting, and that a lamb was necessary for a proper sacrifice:
   "Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a
   burnt-offering?" Young men and maidens, learn of him.

   Hitherto, it is plain, Isaac knew nothing of his father's design: but I
   believe, by what his father said in answer to his question, that now
   was the time Abraham revealed it unto him.

   Verse 8. "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for
   a burnt-offering." Some think, that Abraham by faith saw the Lord Jesus
   afar off, and here spoke prophetically of that Lamb of God already
   slain in decree, and hereafter to be actually offered up for sinners.
   This was a lamb of God's providing indeed (we dared not have thought of
   it) to satisfy his own justice, and to render him just in justifying
   the ungodly. What is all our fire and wood, the best preparations and
   performances we can make or present, unless God had provided himself
   this Lamb for a burnt-offering? He could not away with them. The words
   will well hear this interpretation. But, whatever Abraham might intend,
   I cannot but think he here made an application, and acquainted his son,
   of God's dealing with his soul; and at length, with tears in his eyes,
   and the utmost affection in his heart, cried out, "Thou art to be the
   lamb, my Son;" God has commanded me to provide thee for a
   burnt-offering, and to offer thee upon the mountain which we are now
   ascending. And, as it appears from a subsequent verse, Isaac, convinced
   that it was the divine will, made no resistance at all; For it is said,
   "They went both of them together;" and again, when we are told, that
   Abraham bound Isaac, we do not hear of his complaining, or endeavoring
   to escape, which he might have done, being (as some think) near thirty
   years of age, and, it is plain, capable of carrying wood enough for a
   burnt-offering. But he was partaker of the like precious faith with his
   aged father, and therefore is as willing to be offered, as Abraham is
   to offer him: And "so they went both of them together."

   Ver. 9 At length "they came to the place of which God had told Abraham.
   He built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac
   his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood."

   And here let us pause a while, and by faith take a view of the place
   where the father has laid him. I doubt not but that blessed angels
   hovered round the altar, and sang. "Glory be to God in the highest,"
   for giving such faith to man. Come, all ye tender hearted parents, who
   know what it is to look over a dying child: fancy that you saw the
   altar erected before you, and the wood laid in order, and the beloved
   Isaac bound upon it: fancy that you saw the aged parent standing by
   weeping. (For, why may we not suppose that Abraham wept, since Jesus
   himself wept at the grave of Lazarus?) O what pious, endearing
   expressions passed now alternately between the father and the son!
   Joseph records a pathetic speech made by each, whether genuine I now
   not: but methinks I see the tears trickle down the Patriarch Abraham's
   cheeks; and out of the abundance of the heart, he cries, Adieu, adieu,
   my son; the Lord gave thee to me, and the Lord calls thee away; blessed
   be the name of the Lord: adieu, my Isaac, my only son, whom I love as
   my own soul; adieu, adieu. I see Isaac at the same time meekly
   resigning himself into his heavenly Father's hands, and praying to the
   most High to strengthen his earthly parent to strike the stroke. But
   why do I attempt to describe what either son or father felt? It is
   impossible: we may indeed form some faint idea of, but shall never full
   comprehend it, till we come and sit down with them in the kingdom of
   heaven, and hear them tell the pleasing story over again. Hasten, O
   Lord, that blessed time! O let thy kingdom come!

   And now, the fatal blow is going to be given. "And Abraham stretched
   forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." But do you not
   think he intended to turn away his head, when he gave the blow? Nay,
   why may we not suppose he sometimes drew his hand in, after it was
   stretched out, willing to take another last farewell of his beloved
   Isaac, and desirous to defer it a little, though resolved at last to
   strike home? Be that is it will, his arm is now stretched out, the
   knife is in his hand, and he is about to put it to his dear son's
   throat.

   But sing, O heavens! and rejoice, O earth! Man's extremity is God's
   opportunity: for behold, just as the knife, in all probability, was
   near his throat, ver. 11, "the angel of the Lord, (or rather the Lord
   of angels, Jesus Christ, the angel of the everlasting covenant) called
   unto him, (probably in a very audible manner) from heaven, and said,
   Abraham, Abraham. (The word is doubled, to engage his attention; and
   perhaps the suddenness of the call made him draw back his hand, just as
   he was going to strike his son.) And Abraham said, Here am I."

   "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any
   thing unto him: for now know I that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast
   not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

   Here then it was that Abraham received his son Isaac from the dead in a
   figure. He was in effect offered upon the altar, and God looked upon
   him as offered and given unto him. Now it was that Abraham's faith,
   being tried, was found more precious than gold purified seven times in
   the fire. Now as a reward of grace, though not of debt, for this signal
   act of obedience, by an oath, God gives and confirms the promise, "that
   in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed," ver. 17,
   18. With what comfort may we suppose the good old man and his son went
   down from the mount, and returned unto the young men! With what joy may
   we imagine he went home, and related all that had passed to Sarah! And
   above all, with what triumph is he now exulting in the paradise of God,
   and adoring rich, free, distinguishing, electing, everlasting love,
   which alone made him to differ from the rest of mankind, and rendered
   him worthy of that title which he will have so long as the sun and the
   moon endure, "The Father of the faithful!"

   But let us now draw our eyes from the creature, and do what Abraham, if
   he was present, would direct to; I mean, fix them on the Creator, God
   blessed for evermore.

   I see your hearts affected, I see your eyes weep. (And indeed, who can
   refrain weeping at the relation of such a story?) But, behold, I show
   you a mystery, hid under the sacrifice of Abraham's only son, which,
   unless your hearts are hardened, must cause you to weep tears of love,
   and that plentifully too. I would willingly hope you even prevent me
   here, and are ready to say, "It is the love of God, in giving Jesus
   Christ to die for our sins." Yes; that is it. And yet perhaps you find
   your hearts, at the mentioning of this, not so much affected. Let this
   convince you, that we are all fallen creatures, and that we do not love
   God or Christ as we ought to do: for, if you admire Abraham offering up
   his Isaac, how much more ought you to extol, magnify and adore the love
   of God, who so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son Christ
   Jesus our Lord, "that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but
   have everlasting life?" May we not well cry out, Now know we, O Lord,
   that thou hast loved us, since thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine
   only Son from us! Abraham was God's creature (and God was Abraham's
   friend) and therefore under the highest obligation to surrender up his
   Isaac. But O stupendous love! Whilst we were his enemies, God sent
   forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might
   become a curse for us. O the freeness, as well as the infinity, of the
   love of God our Father! It is unsearchable: I am lost in contemplating
   it; it is past finding out. Think, O believers, think of the love of
   God, in giving Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for our sins. And when
   you hear how Abraham built an altar, and laid the wood in order, and
   bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood; think how
   your heavenly Father bound Jesus Christ his only Son, and offered him
   upon the altar of his justice, and laid upon him the iniquities of us
   all. When you read of Abraham's stretching forth his hand to slay his
   son, Think, O think, how God actually suffered his Son to be slain,
   that we might live for evermore. Do you read of Isaac carrying the wood
   upon his shoulders, upon which he was to be offered? Let this lead you
   to mount Calvary (this very mount of Moriah where Isaac was offered, as
   some think) and take a view of the antitype Jesus Christ, the Son of
   God, bearing and ready to sink under the weight of that cross, on which
   he was to hang for us. Do you admire Isaac so freely consenting to die,
   though a creature, and therefore obliged to go when God called? O do
   not forget to admire infinitely more the dear Lord Jesus, that promised
   seed, who willingly said, "Lo, I come," though under no obligation so
   to do, "to do thy will," to obey and die for men, "O God!" Did you weep
   just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, and the wood laid in
   order, and Isaac laid bound on the altar? Look by faith, behold the
   blessed Jesus, our all-glorious Emmanuel, not bound, but nailed on a
   accursed tree: see how he hangs crowned with thorns, and had in
   derision of all that are round about him: see how the thorns pierce
   him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down his sacred
   temples! Hark how the God of nature groans! See how he bows his head,
   and at length humanity gives up the ghost! Isaac is saved, but Jesus,
   the God of Isaac, dies; A ram is offered up in Isaac's room, but Jesus
   has no substitute; Jesus must bleed, Jesus must die; God the Father
   provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in
   time, or man must be damned for evermore. And now, where are your
   tears? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping? No; rather let me
   exhort you to look to him whom you have pierced, and mourn, as a woman
   mourneth for her first-born: for we have been the betrayers, we have
   been the murderers of this Lord of glory; and shall we not bewail those
   sins, which brought the blessed Jesus to the accursed tree? Having so
   much done, so much suffered for us, so much forgiven, shall we not love
   much! O! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength,
   and glorify him in our souls and bodies, for they are his. Which leads
   me to a second inference I shall draw from the foregoing discourse.

   From hence we may learn the nature of true, justifying faith. Whoever
   understands and preaches the truth, as it is in Jesus, must
   acknowledge, that salvation is God's free gift, and that we are saved,
   not by any or all the works of righteousness which we have done or can
   do: no; we can neither wholly nor in part justify ourselves in the
   light of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness; and if we are
   accepted with God, it must be only in and through the personal
   righteousness, the active and passive obedience, of Jesus Christ his
   beloved Son. This righteousness must be imputed, or counted over to us,
   and applied by faith to our hearts, or else we can in no wise be
   justified in God's sight: and that very moment a sinner is enabled to
   lay hold on Christ's righteousness by faith, he is freely justified
   from all his sins, and shall never enter into condemnation,
   notwithstanding he was a fire-brand of hell before. Thus is was that
   Abraham was justified before he did any good work: he was enabled to
   believe on the Lord Christ; it was accounted to him for righteousness;
   that is, Christ's righteousness was made over to him, and so accounted
   his. This, this is the gospel; this is the only way of finding
   acceptance with God: good works have nothing to do with our
   justification in his sight. We are justified by faith alone, as saith
   the article of our church; agreeable to which the apostle Paul says,
   "By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it
   is the gift of God." Notwithstanding, good works have their proper
   place: they justify our faith, though not our persons; they follow it,
   and evidence our justification in the sight of men. Hence it is that
   the apostle James asks, was not Abraham justified by works? (alluding
   no doubt to the story on which we have been discoursing) that is, did
   he not prove he was in a justified state, because his faith was
   productive of good works? This declarative justification in the sight
   of men, is what is directly to be understood in the words of the text;
   "Now know I, says God, that thou fearest me, since thou hast not
   withheld thy son, thine only son from me." Not but that God knew it
   before; but this is spoken in condescension to our weak capacities, and
   plainly shows, that his offering up his son was accepted with God, as
   an evidence of the sincerity of his faith, and for this, was left on
   record to future ages. Hence then you may learn, whether you are
   blessed with, and are sons and daughters of, faithful Abraham. You say
   you believe; you talk of free grace and free justification: you do
   well; the devils also believe and tremble. But has the faith, which you
   pretend to, influenced your hearts, renewed your souls, and, like
   Abraham's, worked by love? Are your affections, like his, set on things
   above? Are you heavenly-minded, and like him, do you confess yourselves
   strangers and pilgrims on the earth? In short, has your faith enabled
   you to overcome the world, and strengthened you to give up your Isaacs,
   your laughter, your most beloved lusts, friends, pleasures, and profits
   for God? If so, take the comfort of it; for justly may you say, "We
   know assuredly, that we do fear and love God, or rather are loved of
   him." But if you are only talking believers, have only a faith of the
   head, and never felt the power of it in your hearts, however you may
   bolster yourselves up, and say, "We have Abraham for our father, or
   Christ is our Savior," unless you get a faith of the heart, a faith
   working by love, you shall never sit with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or
   Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of heaven.

   But I must draw one more inference, and with that I shall conclude.

   Learn, O saints! From what has been said, to sit loose to all your
   worldly comforts; and stand ready prepared to part with everything,
   when God shall require it at your hand. Some of you perhaps may have
   friends, who are to you as your own souls; and others may have
   children, in whose lives your own lives are bound up: all I believe
   have their Isaacs, their particular delights of some kind or other.
   Labor, for Christ's sake, labor, ye sons and daughters of Abraham, to
   resign them daily in affection to God, that, when he shall require you
   really to sacrifice them, you may not confer with flesh and blood, any
   more than the blessed patriarch now before us. And as for you that have
   been in any measure tried like unto him, let his example encourage and
   comfort you. Remember, Abraham your father was tried so before you:
   think, O think of the happiness he now enjoys, and how he is
   incessantly thanking God for tempting and trying him when here below.
   Look up often by the eye of faith, and see him sitting with his dearly
   beloved Issac in the world of spirits. Remember, it will be but a
   little while, and you shall sit with them also, and tell one another
   what God has done for your souls. There I hope to sit with you, and
   hear this story of his offering up his Son from his own mouth, and to
   praise the Lamb that sitteth upon the throne, for what he hath done for
   all or souls, for ever and ever.
     __________________________________________________________________

   [1] Full Text: Genesis 22:1-12
     __________________________________________________________________

                       The Great Duty of Family Religion

   Joshua 24:15 -- "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

   These words contain the holy resolution of pious Joshua, who having in
   a most moving, affectionate discourse recounted to the Israelites what
   great things God had done for them, in the verse immediately preceding
   the text, comes to draw a proper inference from what he had been
   delivering; and acquaints them, in the most pressing terms, that since
   God had been so exceeding gracious unto them, they could do not less,
   than out of gratitude for such uncommon favors and mercies, dedicate
   both themselves and families to his service. "Now therefore, fear the
   Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth, and put away the Gods which
   your fathers served on the other side of the flood." And by the same
   engaging motive does the prophet Samuel afterwards enforce their
   obedience to the commandments of God, 1 Sam. 12:24, "Only fear the
   Lord, and serve him in truth, with all your heart; for consider how
   great things he hath done for you." But then, that they might not
   excuse themselves (as too many might be apt to do) by his giving them a
   bad example, or think he was laying heavy burdens upon them, whilst he
   himself touched them not with one of his fingers, he tells them in the
   text, that whatever regard they might pay to the doctrine he had been
   preaching, yet he (as all ministers ought to do) was resolved to live
   up to and practice it himself: "Choose you therefore, whom you will
   serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served, or the Gods of the
   Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will
   serve the Lord."

   A resolution this, worthy of Joshua, and no less becoming, no less
   necessary for every true son of Joshua, that is entrusted with the care
   and government of a family in our day: and, if it was ever seasonable
   for ministers to preach up, or people to put in practice
   family-religion, it was never more so than in the present age; since it
   is greatly to be feared, that out of those many households that call
   themselves Christians, there are but few that serve God in their
   respective families as they ought.

   It is true indeed, visit our churches, and you may perhaps see
   something of the form of godliness still subsisting amongst us; but
   even that is scarcely to be met with in private houses. So that were
   the blessed angels to come, as in the patriarchal age, and observe our
   spiritual oeconomy [meaning not in dictionary, but
   oecumenical=ecumenical, so oeconomy may be same as economy] at home,
   would they not be tempted to say as Abraham to Abimilech, "Surely, the
   fear of God is not in this place?" Gen. 20:11.

   How such a general neglect of family-religion first began to overspread
   the Christian world, is difficult to determine. As for the primitive
   Christians, I am positive it was not so with them: No, they had not so
   learned Christ, as falsely to imagine religion was to be confined
   solely to their assemblies for public worship; but, on the contrary,
   behaved with such piety and exemplary holiness in their private
   families, that St. Paul often styles their house a church: "Salute such
   a one, says he, and the church which is in his house." And, I believe,
   we must for ever despair of seeing a primitive spirit of piety revived
   in the world, till we are so happy as to see a revival of primitive
   family religion; and persons unanimously resolving with good old
   Joshua, in the words of the text, "As for me and my house, we will
   serve the Lord."

   From which words, I shall beg leave to insist on these three things.

   I. First, That it is the duty of every governor of a family to take
   care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his
   charge, "serve the Lord."

   II. Secondly, I shall endeavor to show after what manner a governor and
   his household ought to serve the Lord. And,

   III. Thirdly, I shall offer some motives, in order to excite all
   governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the
   manner that shall be recommended.

   And First, I am to show that it is the duty of every governor of a
   family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those
   committed to his charge, should serve the Lord.

   And this will appear, if we consider that every governor of a family
   ought to look upon himself as obliged to act in three capacities as a
   prophet, to instruct: as a priest, to pray for and with; as a king, to
   govern, direct, and provide for them. It is true indeed, the latter of
   these, their kingly office, they are not so frequently deficient in,
   (nay in this they are generally too solicitous) but as for the two
   former, their priestly and prophetic office, like Gallio, they care for
   no such things. But however indifferent some governors may be about it,
   they may be assured, that God will require a due discharge of these
   offices at their hands. For if, as the apostle argues, "He that does
   not provide for his own house," in temporal things, has denied the
   faith, and is worse than an infidel;" to what greater degree of
   apostasy must he have arrived, who takes no thought to provide for the
   spiritual welfare of his family!

   But farther, persons are generally very liberal of their invectives
   against the clergy, and think they justly blame the conduct of that
   minister who does not take heed to and watch over the flock, of which
   the Holy Ghost has made him overseer: but may not every governor of a
   family, be in a lower degree liable to the same censure, who takes no
   thought for those souls that are committed too his charge? For every
   house is as it were a little parish, every governor (as was before
   observed) a priest, every family a flock; and if any of them perish
   through the governor's neglect, their blood will God require at their
   hands.

   Was a minister to disregard teaching his people publicly, and from
   house to house, and to excuse himself by saying, that he had enough to
   do to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, without
   concerning himself with that of others; would you not be apt to think
   such a minister, to be like the unjust judge, "One that neither feared
   God, nor regarded man?" And yet, odious as such a character would be,
   it is no worse than that governor of a family deserves, who thinks
   himself obliged only to have his own soul, without paying any regard to
   the souls of his household. For (as was above hinted) every house is as
   it were a parish, and every master is concerned to secure, as much as
   in him lies, the spiritual prosperity of every one under his roof, as
   any minister whatever is obliged to look to the spiritual welfare of
   every individual person under his charge.

   What precedents men who neglect their duty in this particular, can
   plead for such omission, I cannot tell. Doubtless not the example of
   holy Job, who was so far from imagining that he had no concern, as
   governor of a family, with any one's soul but his own, that the
   scripture acquaints us, "When the days of his children's feasting were
   gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and offered
   burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all; for Job said, It
   may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts: thus
   did Job continually." Nor can they plead the practice of good old
   Joshua, whom, in the text, we find as much concerned for his
   household's welfare, as his own. Nor lastly, that of Cornelius, who
   feared God, not only himself, but with all his house: and were
   Christians but of the same spirit of Job, Joshua, and the Gentile
   centurion, they would act as Job, Joshua, and Cornelius did.

   But alas! If this be the case, and all governors of families ought not
   only to serve the Lord themselves, but likewise to see that their
   respective households do so too; what will then become of those who not
   only neglect serving God themselves, but also make it their business to
   ridicule and scoff at any of their house that do? Who are not content
   with "not entering into the kingdom of heaven themselves; but shoe also
   that are willing to enter in, they hinder." Surely such men are factors
   for the devil indeed. Surely their damnation slumbereth not: for
   although God, is in his good providence, may suffer such
   stumbling-blocks to be put in his children's way, and suffer their
   greatest enemies to be those of their own households, for a trial of
   their sincerity, and improvement of their faith; yet we cannot but
   pronounce a woe against those masters by whom such offenses come. For
   if those that only take care of their own souls, can scarcely be saved,
   where will such monstrous profane and wicked governors appear?

   But hoping there are but few of this unhappy stamp, proceed we now to
   the

   Second thing proposed: To show after what manner a governor and his
   household ought to serve the Lord.

   1. And the first thing I shall mention, is reading the Word of God.
   This is a duty incumbent on every private person. "Search the
   scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life," is a precept
   given by our blessed Lord indifferently to all: but much more so, ought
   every governor of a family to think it in a peculiar manner spoken to
   himself, because (as hath been already proved) he ought to look upon
   himself as a prophet, and therefore agreeably to such a character,
   bound to instruct those under his charge in the knowledge of the word
   of God.

   This we find was the order God gave to his peculiar people Israel: for
   thus speaks his representative Moses, Deut. 6:6-7, "These words," that
   is, the scripture words, "which I command thee this day, shall be in
   thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,"
   that is, as it is generally explained, servants, as well as children,
   "and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house." From whence we
   may infer, that the only reason, why so many neglect to read the words
   of scripture diligently to their children is, because the words of
   scripture are not in their hearts: for if they were, out of the
   abundance of the heart their mouth would speak.

   Besides, servants as well as children, are, for the generality, very
   ignorant, and mere novices in the laws of God: and how shall they know,
   unless some one teach them? And what more proper to teach them by, than
   the lively oracles of God, "which are able to make them wise unto
   salvation?" And who more proper to instruct them by these lively
   oracles, than parents and masters, who (as hath been more than once
   observed) are as much concerned to feed them with spiritual, as with
   bodily bread, day by day.

   But if these things be so, what a miserable condition are those unhappy
   governors in, who are so far from feeding those committed to their care
   with the sincere milk of the word, to the intent they may grow thereby,
   that they neither search the scriptures themselves, nor are careful to
   explain them to others? Such families must be in a happy way indeed to
   do their Master's will, who take such prodigious pains to know it!
   Would not one imagine that they had turned converts to the Church of
   Rome, that they thought ignorance to be the mother of devotion; and
   that those were to be condemned as heretics who read their Bibles? And
   yet how few families are there amongst us, who do not act after this
   unseemly manner! But shall I praise them in this? I praise them not;
   Brethren, this thing ought not so to be.

   2. Pass we on now to the second means whereby every governor and his
   household ought to serve the Lord, Family-Prayer.

   This is a duty, though as much neglected, yet as absolutely necessary
   as the former. Reading is a good preparative for prayer, as prayer is
   an excellent means to render reading effectual. And the reason why
   every governor of a family should join both these exercises together,
   is plain, because a governor of a family cannot perform his priestly
   office (which we before observed he is in some degree invested with)
   without performing this duty of family prayer.

   We find it therefore remarked, when mention is made of Cain and Abel's
   offering sacrifices, that they brought them. But to whom did they bring
   them? Why, in all probability, to their father Adam, who, as priest of
   the family, was to offer sacrifice in their names. And so ought every
   spiritual son of the second Adam, who is entrusted with the care of an
   household, to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of supplications and
   thanksgivings, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, in the presence
   and name of all who wait upon, or eat meat at his table.

   Thus we read our blessed Lord behaved, when he tabernacled amongst us:
   for it is said often, that he prayed with his twelve disciples, which
   was then his little family. And he himself has promised a particular
   blessing to joint supplications: "Wheresoever two or three are gathered
   together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." And again, "If
   two or three are agreed touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be
   given them." Add to this, that we are commanded by the Apostle to "pray
   always, with all manner of supplication," which doubtless includes
   family prayer. And holy Joshua, when he set up the good resolution in
   the text, that he and his household would serve the Lord, certainly
   resolved to pray with his family, which is one of the best testimonies
   they could give of their serving him.

   Besides, there are no families but what have some common blessings, of
   which they have been all partakers, to give thanks for; some common
   crosses and afflictions, which they are to pray against; some common
   sins, which they are all to lament and bewail: but how this can be
   done, without joining together in one common act of humiliation,
   supplication, and thanksgiving, is difficult to devise.

   From all which considerations put together, it is evident, that family
   prayer is a great and necessary duty; and consequently, those governors
   that neglect it, are certainly without excuse. And it is much to be
   feared, if they live without family prayer, they live without God in
   the world.

   And yet, such an hateful character as this is, it is to be feared, that
   was God to send out an angel to destroy us, as he did once to destroy
   the Egyptian first-born, and withal give him a commission, as then, to
   spare no houses but where they saw the blood of the lintel, sprinkled
   on the door-post, so now, to let no families escape, but those that
   called upon him in morning and evening prayer; few would remain unhurt
   by his avenging sword. Shall I term such families Christians or
   heathens? Doubtless they deserve not the name of Christians; and
   heathens will rise up in judgment against such profane families of this
   generation: for they had always their household gods, whom they
   worshipped and whose assistance they frequently invoked. And a pretty
   pass those families surely are arrived at, who must be sent to school
   to pagans. But will not the Lord be avenged on such profane households
   as these? Will he not pour out his fury upon those that call not upon
   his name?

   3. But it is time for me to hasten to the third and last means I shall
   recommend, whereby every governor ought with his household to serve the
   Lord, catechizing and instructing their children and servants, and
   bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

   That this, as well as the two former, is a duty incumbent on every
   governor of an house, appears from that famous encomium or commendation
   God gives of Abraham: "I know that he will command his children and his
   household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and
   judgment." And indeed scarce any thing is more frequently pressed upon
   us in holy writ, than this duty of catechizing. Thus, says God in a
   passage before cited, "Thou shalt teach these words diligently unto thy
   children." And parents are commanded in the New Testament, to "bring up
   their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." The holy
   Psalmist acquaints us, that one great end why God did such great
   wonders for his people, was, "to the intent that when they grew up,
   they should show their children, or servants, the same." And in Deut. 6
   at the 20th and following verses, God strictly commands his people to
   instruct their children in the true nature of the ceremonial worship,
   when they should inquire about it, as he supposed they would do, in
   time to come. And if servants and children were to be instructed in the
   nature of Jewish rites, much more ought they now to be initiated and
   grounded in the doctrines and first principles of the gospel of Christ:
   not only, because it is a revelation, which has brought life and
   immortality to a fuller and clearer light, but also, because many
   seducers are gone abroad into the world, who do their utmost endeavor
   to destroy not only the superstructure, but likewise to sap the very
   foundation of our most holy religion.

   Would then the present generation have their posterity be true lovers
   and honorers of God; masters and parents must take Solomon's good
   advice, and train up and catechize their respective households in the
   way wherein they should go.

   I am aware but of one objection, that can, with any show of reason, be
   urged against what has been advanced; which is, that such a procedure
   as this will take up too much time, and hinder families too long from
   their worldly business. But it is much to be questioned, whether
   persons that start such an abjection, are not of the same hypocritical
   spirit as the traitor Judas, who had indignation against devout Mary,
   for being so profuse of her ointment, in anointing our blessed Lord,
   and asked why it might not be sold for two hundred pence, and given to
   the poor. For has God given us so much time to work for ourselves, and
   shall we not allow some small pittance of it, morning and evening, to
   be devoted to his more immediate worship and service? Have not people
   read, that it is God who gives men power to get wealth, and therefore
   that the best way to prosper in the world, is to secure his favor? And
   has not our blessed Lord himself promised, that if we seek first the
   kingdom of God and his righteousness, all outward necessaries shall be
   added unto us?

   Abraham, no doubt, was a man of as great business as such objectors may
   be; but yet he would find time to command his household to serve the
   Lord. Nay, David was a king, and consequently had a great deal of
   business upon his hands; yet notwithstanding, he professes that he
   would walk in his house with a perfect heart. And, to instance but one
   more, holy Joshua was a person certainly engaged very much in temporal
   affairs; and yet he solemnly declares before all Israel, that as for
   him and his household, they would serve the Lord. And did persons but
   redeem their time, as Abraham, David, or Joshua did, they would no
   longer complain, that family duties kept them too long from the
   business of the world.

   III. But my Third and Last general head, under which I was to offer
   some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective
   households, to serve the Lord in the manner before recommended, I hope,
   will serve instead of a thousand arguments, to prove the weakness and
   folly of any such objection.

   1. And the first motive I shall mention is the duty of gratitude, which
   you that are governors of families owe to God. Your lot, every one must
   confess, is cast in a fair ground: providence hath given you a goodly
   heritage, above many of your fellow-creatures, and therefore, bout of a
   principle of gratitude, you ought to endeavor, as much as in you lies,
   to make every person of your respective households to call upon him as
   long as they live: not to mention, that the authority, with which God
   has invested you as parents and governors of families, is a talent
   committed to your trust, and which you are bound to improve to your
   Master's honor. In other things we find governors and parents can
   exercise lordship over their children and servants readily, and
   frequently enough can say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another,
   Come, and he cometh; to a third, Do this, and he doeth it. And shall
   this power be so often employed in your own affairs, and never exerted
   in the things of God? Be astonished, O heavens, at this!

   Thus did not faithful Abraham; no, God says, that he knew Abraham would
   command his servants and children after him. Thus did not Joshua: no,
   he was resolved not only to walk with God himself, but to improve his
   authority in making all about him do so too: "As for me and my
   household, we will serve the Lord." Let us go and do likewise.

   2. But Secondly, If gratitude to God will not, methinks love and pity
   to your children should move you, with your respective families, to
   serve the Lord.

   Most people express a great fondness for their children: nay so great,
   that very often their own lives are wrapped up in those of their
   offspring. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not
   have compassion on the son of her womb?" says God by his Prophet
   Isaiah. He speaks of it as a monstrous thing, and scarce credible; but
   the words immediately following, affirm it to be possible, "Yes, they
   may forget" and experience also assures us they may. Father and mother
   may both forsake their children: for what greater degree of
   forgetfulness can they express towards them, than to neglect the
   improvement of their better part, and not bring them up in the
   knowledge and fear of God?

   It is true indeed, parents seldom forget to provide for their
   children's bodies, (though, it is to be feared, some men are so far
   sunk beneath the beasts that perish, as to neglect even that) but then
   how often do they forget, or rather, when do they remember, to secure
   the salvation of their immortal souls? But is this their way of
   expressing their fondness for the fruit of their bodies? Is this the
   best testimony they can give of their affection to the darling of their
   hearts? Then was Delilah fond of Samson, when she delivered him up into
   the hands of the Philistines? Then were those ruffians well affected to
   Daniel, when they threw him into a den of lions?

   3. But Thirdly, If neither gratitude to God, nor love and pity to your
   children, will prevail on you; yet let a principle of common honesty
   and justice move you to set up the holy resolution in the text.

   This is a principle which all men would be thought to act upon. But
   certainly, if any may be truly censured for their injustice, none can
   be more liable to such censure, than those who think themselves injured
   if their servants withdraw themselves from their bodily work, and yet
   they in return take no care of their inestimable souls. For is it just
   that servants should spend their time and strength in their master's
   service, and masters not at the same time give them what is just and
   equal for their service?

   It is true, some men may think they have done enough when they give
   unto their servants food and raiment, and say, "Did not I bargain with
   thee for so much a year?" But if they give them no other reward than
   this, whet do they less for their very beasts? But are not servants
   better than they? Doubtless they are: and however masters may put off
   their convictions for the present, they will find a time will come,
   when they shall know they ought to have given them some spiritual as
   well as temporal wages; and the cry of those that have mowed down their
   fields, will enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

   4. But Fourthly, If neither gratitude to God, pity to children, nor a
   principle for common justice to servants, are sufficient to balance all
   objections; yet let that darling, that prevailing motive of
   self-interest turn the scale, and engage you with your respective
   households to serve the Lord.

   This weighs greatly with you in other matters: be then persuaded to let
   it have a due and full influence on you in this: and if it has, if you
   have but faith as a grain of mustard-seed, how can you avoid believing,
   that promoting family-religion, will be the best means to promote your
   own temporal, as well as eternal welfare? For "Godliness has the
   promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come."

   Besides, you all, doubtless wish for honest servants, and pious
   children: and to have them prove otherwise, would be as great a grief
   to you, as it was to Elisha to have a treacherous Gehazi, or David to
   be troubled with a rebellious Absolom. But how can it be expected they
   should learn their duty, except those set over them, take care to teach
   it to them? Is it not as reasonable to expect you should reap where had
   not sewn, or gather where you had not strawed?

   Did Christianity, indeed, give any countenance to children and servants
   to disregard their parents and masters according to the flesh, or
   represent their duty to them, as inconsistent with their entire
   obedience to their father and master who is in heaven, there might then
   be some pretense to neglect instructing them in the principles of such
   a religion. But since the precepts of this pure and undefiled religion,
   are all of them holy, just, and good; and the more they are taught
   their duty to God, the better they will perform their duties to you;
   methinks, to neglect the improvement of their souls, out of a dread of
   spending too much time in religious duties, is acting quite contrary to
   your own interest as well as duty.

   5. Fifthly and Lastly, If neither gratitude to God, love to your
   children, common justice to your servants, nor even that most
   prevailing motive self-interest, will excite; yet let a consideration
   of the terrors of the Lord persuade you to put in practice the pious
   resolution in the text. Remember, the time will come, and that perhaps
   very shortly, when we must all appear before the judgment-seat of
   Christ; where we must give a solemn and strict account how we have had
   our conversation, in our respective families in this world. How will
   you endure to see your children and servants (who ought to be your joy
   and crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ) coming out
   as so many swift witnesses against you; cursing the father that begot
   them, the womb that bare them, the paps which they have sucked, and the
   day they ever entered into your houses? Think you not, the damnation
   which men must endure for their own sins, will be sufficient, that they
   need load themselves with the additional guilt of being accessory to
   the damnation of others also? O consider this, all ye that forget to
   serve the Lord with your respective households, "lest he pluck you
   away, and there be none to deliver you!"

   But God forbid, brethren, that any such evil should befall you: no,
   rather will I hope, that you have been in some measure convinced by
   what has been said of the great importance of family-religion; and
   therefore are ready to cry out in the words immediately following the
   text, "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord;" and again, ver. 21,
   "Nay, but we will (with our several households) serve the Lord."

   And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all
   governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to
   reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite
   ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid
   down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen
   creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that
   you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being
   born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of
   purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are
   thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in
   light. Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as
   persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more
   neglect your family's spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of
   God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you
   to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God's free
   grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will
   excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your
   own household. And though, after all your pious endeavors, some may
   continue unreformed; yet you will have this comfortable reflection to
   make, that you did what you could to make your families religious: and
   therefore may rest assured of sitting down in the kingdom of heaven,
   with Abraham, Joshua, and Cornelius, and all the godly householders,
   who in their several generations shone forth as so many lights in their
   respective households upon earth. Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

Christ the Best Husband: Or an Earnest Invitation to Young Women to Come and See
                                   Christ [2]

   Psalm 14:10-11 -- "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine
   ear: Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house: So shall the
   King greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord, and worship thou
   him."

   This psalm is called the song of loves, the most pure and spiritual,
   the most ear and delightful loves; namely, those which are between
   Christ the beloved, and his church, which is his spouse; wherein is set
   forth, first, the Lord Jesus Christ in regard of his majesty, power,
   and divinity, his truth, meekness and equity: And then the spouse is
   set forth, in regard of her ornaments, companions, attendants and
   posterity; and both in regard of their comeliness and beauty. After the
   description of Christ, an invitation to his espousals, is given the
   children of men, called by the name of daughter; and therefore,
   particularly applicable unto you, my dear sisters, as being the
   daughters of men, yet not so as excluding the sons of men.

   I shall now, therefore, consider the words, as spoken to you in
   particular, and containing this doctrine;

   That the Lord Jesus Christ doth invite the daughters of men to be his
   spouse; and is exceeding desirous of their beauty; who, forgetting
   their people and father's house, do hearken, consider and incline to
   his invitation, and join themselves to him in this relation.

   I shall show,

   I. How Christ doth espouse himself unto the children, but, more
   especially, unto the daughters of men.

   The Lord Jesus Christ, doth espouse himself unto the children of men,
   in the world, but the public solemnization of the marriage, is reserved
   until the last day; when his spouse shall be brought forth to him, in
   white robes, and a raiment of perfect righteousness, more rich and
   curious, my dear sisters, than any of your needle-work; and the
   marriage feast will be kept in his Father's house, in heaven, when they
   shall be received into the nearest and closest embraces of his love.
   The marriage knot is tied here, in which are included four things:

   First; Mutual Choice,

   Secondly, Mutual Affection,

   Thirdly, Mutual Union,

   Fourthly, Mutual Obligation.

   First, my dear sisters, there is a mutual choice, which is not only in
   Christ, as Mediator, but also by Christ as the eternal Son of God, yea,
   God himself; notwithstanding all that the polite Arians and Socinians
   say to the contrary. The Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, doth
   choose you merely by his free grace; it is freely of his own mercy,
   that he brings you into the marriage covenant: You, who have so
   grievously offended him, yet, the Lord Jesus Christ hath chosen you;
   you did not, you would not have chosen him; but when once, my dear
   sisters, he hath chosen you, then, and not till then, you make choice
   of him for your Lord and Husband.

   The Lord Jesus Christ when he first comes to you, finds you full of sin
   and pollution; you are deformed, defiled, enslaved, poor, miserable and
   wretched, very despicable and loathsome, by reason of sin; and he
   maketh choice of you, not because of your holiness, nor of your beauty,
   nor of your being qualified for them; no, the Lord Jesus Christ puts
   these qualifications upon you, as may make you meet for his embrace;
   and you are drawn to make choice of the Lord Jesus Christ because he
   first chose you.

   Secondly, In this espousal of yours, my dear sisters, there is a mutual
   affection; this doth accompany the choice. Your hearts are drawn out
   after Christ; your souls pant and long for him; you cannot be at rest
   until you are engaged to this Jesus: You are ready to cry out
   continually, none but Christ, none but Christ: this is the language of
   your hearts, if you are truly sensible of your need of him. The more
   acquaintance you have of this Lord Jesus, the more pleased you are with
   your choice, and the more your affections are drawn towards him. And
   where can you place your affections better than upon that Jesus who
   shed his blood for your sakes? Surely he deserves both your loves and
   affections: Go on, go on, my dear sisters, that your affections may
   grow stronger and stronger.

   Thirdly, There is not only mutual choice, and mutual affection, but
   likewise mutual union: And here doth the marriage lie chiefly, in this
   union; Christ and souls are contracted, and the knot is tied so fast,
   that neither men on earth, how great soever they be, nor devils in
   hell, though they should combine all their wrath and rage together,
   still they cannot dissolve, they cannot untie it; no, my dear sisters,
   it is indissolvable, for the union is, by the spirit, on Christ's part,
   and by faith on yours: By the spirit, Christ doth lay hold on you; and
   by faith, you do lay hold on him; and thus the match is made; Christ
   becomes yours, his person, portion, and all his benefits are yours; and
   you become Christ's, your persons, your hearts, and all that you have
   is resigned up unto him, and O that they may be so more and more.

   Fourthly, There is a mutual obligation between Christ and his spouse.
   Christ obliges himself to love you here, he will not, indeed he never
   will leave you, he will protect you from the malice of the Pharisees of
   this generation, he will provide for you in all difficulties; he will
   live with you here, and at last he will take you to himself, to live
   with him forever. And you are engaged to him to be loving, loyal,
   faithful, obedient; and you are to stick close to him as long as you
   live; and then you will find yourselves to be married to the best
   advantage, both for soul and body, for time and for eternity.

   II. Christ doth invite all of you to be his spouse.

   And it on this account that he sends forth his ministers to preach. It
   is this, that makes me thus come among you; that you would accept of
   this invitation, to which, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I do
   call and entreat you to take him, on his own terms. He calls all of
   you, my sisters, whether elder or younger, whether married or
   unmarried, of higher degree, or of the meanest quality, the poorest
   servants, yea, the rabble of this world, as the world calls you, who
   are willing to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ. I say, the poor
   are as welcome to be Christ's spouse as those that are rich. He
   regardeth not the rich more than the poor; he chose a mean virgin,
   espoused to a carpenter, to be his mother; and he chooseth and calleth
   all such to be his spouse; then be not discouraged at your being
   despised in the world; for if you are but loved by Christ, and espoused
   to him, it will be an over-sufficiency for all the trouble that you
   have met with here.

   III. Those who would be espoused unto Christ, must hearken, consider,
   and incline to his invitation, and forget even their father's house.

   Such as would be espoused unto Christ must hearken. "Hearken, O
   daughter." Many amongst you, my sisters, stop their ears against the
   calls of the gospel; they shut their ears like the deaf adder, which
   will not hearken unto the voice of the charmer, though he charm never
   so wisely. You will not hearken unto the invitations of Christ; you can
   hearken unto the vanities of the world, and be delighted with the
   espousals of the world, but never think or are delighted with the
   espousals of Christ.

   It was by the ear, that the temptation of sin was received by the first
   man, when he departed from God; and by the ear, the invitation to be
   Christ's spouse must be received, before the heart will be opened to
   receive Jesus Christ in this conjugal relation.

   If you would, my dear sisters, be espoused to Christ, you must consider
   Christ's invitation. It is not a slight or bare hearing of Christ's
   invitation, which will be of any service to you, or make up the match
   between Christ and your souls; no, you must receive Christ in the
   heart; you must consider the thing itself, the advantages of it, the
   difference between Christ's invitations and the devil's temptations, or
   any of the world's proffers.

   Those who would be espoused to Christ, must be inclined to accept of
   Christ's invitation. "Hearken, O daughter, consider and incline thine
   ear." This is to incline your hearts: You must consent with your wills;
   there must be a compliance to the motion of Christ, and you must have
   desires after Christ, and then your hearts will say, "Lord, let us be
   thy spouse, and be thou our beloved."

   You must likewise forget your father's house. "Hearken, O daughter, and
   consider, and forget thy father's house." You are not here to cast off
   all affections unto natural relations; but you must forget all
   relations, so as to be ready to forgo all their favor, when it standeth
   in competition with that of the Lord Jesus Christ: and do not let your
   carnal friends and relations hinder you from closing with, and
   espousing the Lord Jesus. I earnestly beseech you to suffer the loss of
   any thing, rather than to lose his favors; you must indeed forget your
   own people, that is, you must forget all your evil customs which you
   have learned in your father's house, and forsake all your vain
   conversation, your reading of plays, novels, or romances; and you must
   keep from learning to sing the songs of the drunkard; for Christ, if
   you are his spouse, hath redeem you.

   Such of you, my dear sisters, as are espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ
   are very beautiful. I do not mean in respect of your bodies; you may
   have less of external comeliness than others, in respect of your
   bodies, but as to your souls you will exceed in beauty, not so much in
   the eyes of man, as in the eyes of God; such have the most beautiful
   image of God stamped upon them; none in the world beside them, have the
   least spark of spiritual beauty. Such as are not married to Christ, are
   unregenerated, they are not born again, nor brought from sin unto God,
   which must be done before you be espoused to Christ.

   And the Lord Jesus Christ desireth to see this beauty in his spouse,
   for he cries out, "O my dove, thou are in the clefts of the rock, in
   the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me
   hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."
   He calleth his spouse his love, being the dear object of his love; and
   he admireth her loveliness; he repeats it twice in one verse, "Behold
   thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair." Thus you see he
   describes their beauty. And then, my sisters, we have wonderful
   expression of Christ to his spouse, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my
   sister, my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes,
   with one chain of thy neck." Thus you see how pleased the Lord Jesus
   Christ is with his spouse; and will not you, therefore, be espoused
   unto the Lord Jesus? I offer Jesus Christ to all of you; if you have
   been never so notorious for sin, if you have been as great a harlot as
   Mary Magdalene was, when once you are espoused to Christ, you shall be
   forgiven. Therefore be not discouraged, at whatever slights and
   contempts the world may pass upon you, but come and join yourselves to
   the Lord Jesus Christ, and all your sins shall be washed away in his
   blood; and when once you are espoused to Jesus, you are disjoined from
   sin, you are born again. You are now, as it were, espoused unto sin;
   sin is your husband, and you are too fond of it, but when once you are
   married to Christ, when you are born again, then you may be said to die
   unto sin; but till then, sin liveth in your affections; therefore, my
   sisters, give sin its death-wound in your hearts; you have been called
   by the word time after time, and it has had no effect upon you; but
   when you are espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will be
   brought to him by his Spirit: You will then lay hold on him by faith,
   his Spirit will draw you unto himself; he will make you to be willing
   in the day of his power; he will give you faith in him. Faith is the
   hand of the soul which layeth hold on Christ; therefore do not rest
   contented till you have this grace of faith wrought in you with power;
   do not be contented till you have received the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Embrace Christ in the arms of your dearest love; then you love the Lord
   Jesus Christ with sincerity, when you love and esteem him before
   father, mother, or all the delights and pleasures of this life, but if
   you do delight in any thing that this world can produce, more than in
   the Lord Jesus Christ, you have not true love to him.

   If you are espoused to Christ, you have acquaintance and converse with
   him; you will endeavor to promote his interest, and advance his name in
   the world; when others are going to the polite and fashionable
   diversions of life, you will be laboring to bring honor to the Lord
   Jesus Christ; you will commend your beloved above all other beloveds,
   and endeavor to bring others into love to him. Can you, my dear
   sisters, who are now assembled to worship God, show such evidence of
   your espousals unto the Lord Jesus Christ? O! how joyful, how
   comfortable an estate is this! Surely this is a marriage worth seeking
   after; this is the only desirable marriage, and the Lord Jesus Christ
   is the only lover that is worth seeking after.

   Now, my dear sisters, I shall speak a few words to those of you who
   have not yet espoused yourselves to the Lord Jesus. It is a great sin,
   and surely you highly affront the Lord that bought you. It is likewise
   your folly to refuse and neglect the gracious proffers of being the
   spouse of Christ; hereby you forfeit all that love which he would
   bestow upon you; hereby you choose rags before robes, dross before
   gold, pebbles before jewels, built before a pardon, wounds before
   healing, defilement before cleansing, deformity before comeliness,
   trouble before peace, slavery before liberty, the service of the devil
   before the service of Christ. Hereby you choose dishonor before a
   crown, death before life, hell before heaven, eternal misery and
   torment before everlasting joy and glory. And need there a further
   evidence of your folly and madness, in refusing and neglecting Christ
   to be your spouse.

   My dear sisters, I should exceed the limits of your time, should I
   particularize all the advantages which you would obtain by being
   espoused to the Lord Jesus. This is your wisdom; they are foolish
   virgins who refuse; but you are the wise virgins who have accepted of
   the Lord Jesus Christ, and have disposed of yourselves to him; you have
   made the wisest choice; and however the blind world may deem you fools,
   and despise you as being methodically mad, yet you are wise in the
   esteem of God, and will, one day, appear so in the esteem of them that
   now despise you. It is your glory that you are espoused unto the Lord
   Jesus; and therefore glory is your espousal; glory not in yourselves,
   but in the Lord who hath thus freely and graciously bestowed these
   favors upon you. It is your safety to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus
   Christ, he will protect and defend you even from sin and Satan, and
   eternal ruin; and therefore thus far you are safe; he hath a regard for
   you in times of danger from men, and these times of danger seem to be
   hastening; it is now arising as a black cloud no bigger than a man's
   hand, and by and by it will overspread the heavens, and when it is full
   it will burst; but if you are espoused to Christ, you are safe.

   Now, my dear sisters, I shall conclude with an earnest exhortation to
   high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to be espoused unto
   Christ.

   Let me speak unto you, young women, who are not yet espoused unto
   Christ, in an especial manner. It may be to satisfy your curiosity, has
   brought many of you here; though, perhaps, this may be the time when
   you shall be brought home to embrace the Lord Jesus, and be espoused to
   him. And O, that I may persuade you, by his Spirit, to espouse
   yourselves unto the Lord of life.

   And if you are but brought to close with the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall
   attain my end, and then both you and I shall rejoice that I preached
   this sermon to you.

   Come virgins, will you give me leave to be a suitor unto you, not in my
   own name, but in the name of the Lord? O! that I may prevail with you
   for your affections, and persuade you to give them unto Christ! May I
   be instrumental of bringing your souls unto Christ! May I be
   instrumental to join you and Christ together this day!

   Be not coy (bashful, shy; showing reluctance to make a definite
   commitment), as some of you possibly are in other loves: modesty and
   the virgin blush may very well come you, when proposals of another kind
   are made unto you; but here coyness is filly, and backwardness to
   accept of this motion, is shame: you have ten thousand times more
   reason to blush at the refusal of Christ for your beloved, than at the
   acceptance; when otherwise the devil and sin would ravish your virgin
   affections. Never had you a better motion made to you; never was such a
   match proffered to you as this, of being matched and espoused unto the
   Lord Jesus Christ.

   Consider who the Lord Jesus is, whom you are invited to espouse
   yourselves unto; he is the best husband; there is none comparable to
   Jesus Christ.

   Do you desire one that is great? He is of the highest dignity, he is
   the glory of heaven, the darling of eternity, admired by angels,
   dreaded by devils, and adored by saints. For you to be espoused to so
   great a king, what honor will you have by this espousal?

   Do you desire one that is rich? None is comparable to Christ, the
   fullness of the earth belongs to him. If you be espoused to Christ, you
   shall share in his unsearchable riches; you shall receive of his
   fullness, even grace for grace here, and you shall hereafter be
   admitted to glory, and shall live with this Jesus to all eternity.

   Do you desire one that is wise? There is none comparable to Christ for
   wisdom. His knowledge is infinite, and his wisdom is correspondent
   thereto. And if you are espoused to Christ, he will guide and counsel
   you, and make you wise unto salvation.

   Do you desire one that is potent, who may defend you against your
   enemies, and all the insults and reproaches of the Pharisees of this
   generation? There is none that can equal Christ in power; for the Lord
   Jesus Christ hath all power.

   Do you desire one that is good? There is none like unto Christ in this
   regard; others may have some goodness, but it is imperfect; Christ's
   goodness is complete and perfect, he is full of goodness and in him
   dwelleth no evil.

   Do you desire one that is beautiful? His eyes are most sparkling, his
   looks and glances of love are ravishing, his smiles are most delightful
   and refreshing unto the soul: Christ is the most lovely person of all
   others in the world.

   Do you desire one that can love you? None can love you like Christ: His
   love, my dear sisters, is incomprehensible; his love passeth all other
   loves: The love of the Lord Jesus is first, without beginning; his love
   is free without any motive; his love is great without any measure; his
   love is constant without any change, and his love is everlasting.

   It was the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, which
   brought him down from heaven; and which veiled his divinity in a human
   soul and body; for he is God over all blessed for ever: It was love
   that made him subject to hunger, thirst and sorrow; he was humbled,
   even unto death for you; for you who are espoused to him, he underwent
   the painful, shameful and ignominious death of the cross: and can you,
   my sisters, hear this, and not be concerned to think that the blessed
   Jesus underwent all this for such sinful creatures as you and I are?
   And when out of love he had finished the redemption on earth, as to
   what was needful for satisfaction; it was his love that carried him
   back to heaven, where he was before, that he might make application of
   what he had purchased, that there he might make intercession for those
   whom he had redeemed, and prepare a place for them, even glorious
   mansions with himself, in the house not made with hands, which is
   eternal in the heavens. It is out of love that he sendeth such tokens
   to his people from heaven to earth, which he conveyeth through his
   ordinances, by his Spirit unto them. Surely then none is so deserving
   as the Lord Jesus Christ for you to espouse yourselves unto: if you be
   espoused unto Christ he is yours, all that he is, all that he hath; you
   shall have his heart, and share in the choicest expressions of his
   dearest love.

   The Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, doth beseech you to be his
   spouse. We ministers have a commission from the Lord Jesus Christ to
   invite you, in his name, unto this very thing; and Christ's invitations
   are real; general; frequent; earnest; free.

   Christ's invitations of you, to be his spouse, are real: and as the
   thing is real, so you, my dear sisters, are really invited unto it. The
   Lord doth not mock and dissemble with you, as some pretending lovers,
   who dissemble love unto virgins, until they have gained their
   affections, and then falsely and basely relinquish them, never really
   intending either to espouse, or marry them: but the Lord doth really
   intend the thing, in his invitations of you; he never cast off any
   whose consent and affections he had gained. Again,

   Christ's invitations of you, my dear sisters, are general. All of you
   are invited, none of you are excluded; all sorts of sinners are
   invited; the most vile and abominable sinners, the most notorious
   transgressors are invited to be Christ's spouse, and shall be as
   welcome as any unto the embraces of his love.

   Christ's invitations of you are frequent: Jesus Christ calls on you
   frequently; he hath waited on you time after time, one year after
   another; and he doth now invite you, by me this day, to come unto Him.
   Do not slight this invitation, but receive it with joy and
   thankfulness. Come, I beseech you, to this Jesus, who thus, invites you
   to be his spouse. Again,

   Christ's invitations to be his spouse are earnest: he doth call upon
   you, and not only call, but call earnestly too; yea, he useth many
   arguments with you; he will press you to come unto him; he is loth
   (loathe) to take any denial from you: he knocks, and knocks hard at the
   door of your hearts for entertainment; and surely you will not deny the
   Lord of life and glory who died for you, and gave himself for you: O my
   dear sisters, let this be the evening of your espousals to the Lord
   Jesus Christ.

   He invites you freely to be his spouse, for all his invitations are
   free; he doth not expect a portion with you, as worldly lovers do; He
   wants nothing of you: nay, you must have nothing, if you be espoused
   unto the Lord Jesus Christ. If you be poor, miserable, blind, naked,
   Jesus Christ will supply all these defects of his own free mercy; he
   will fill and supply you with all things out of his treasury; he will
   make you meet for himself; he will prepare you to live with him for
   ever.

   Consider, if you be once espoused unto Christ, if once joined in this
   relation, you shall never be separated from him; neither men nor devils
   shall be able to separate you: none, none, shall disjoin you; and when
   death doth break all other bonds, it shall not break the conjugal bond
   between you and Christ, but bring you unto the most full and
   everlasting possession of your beloved.

   And what do you now say, young women? Shall I have a grant for my
   master, or be sent away with a repulse and refusal; no, I cannot carry
   such a message to my master; I hope better things of you, my sisters,
   and things which accompany salvation: methinks by this time ye should
   begin to have a mind unto Jesus Christ; you look as if you did desire;
   you hearken as if you would consent. What do you say? Shall the match
   be made up this evening between Christ and your souls? O that I may be
   instrumental in joining your hands, or rather your hearts together: O
   that I may be instrumental to tie that knot, which never can be
   unloosed.

   Some marry in haste, and repent at leisure; but if you were once
   espoused unto Jesus Christ, you would never repent; nothing would
   grieve you, but that you were not joined to him sooner; and you would
   not be disjoined again for all the world.

   Shall this be the day of your espousals? Some of you have stayed a long
   time; and will you defer any longer? If you will not now, perhaps you
   may never have another opportunity; this may be the last time of
   asking; and therefore it is dangerous to refuse; some of you are very
   young, too young for other espousals; but none of you, by dear sisters,
   are too young to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ: in other
   espousals, you must have the consent of your parents; but in this you
   are at your own disposal; you may give, and ought to match yourselves
   to Christ, whether parents do consent or not.

   But if any of you should ask, what you must do that you may be espoused
   unto Christ? You must be sensible of your need of being espoused to
   him, and until you are sensible of your need of the Lord Jesus Christ,
   you cannot be espoused to him: You must have desires after this Jesus,
   and seek unto him for an interest in him, you must cry nightly unto him
   to espouse you to himself; put off the filthiness of sin and all its
   defilements; and then, my sisters, put on the white raiment, and clean
   garments, which Christ hath provided for you, the robes of his
   righteousness; in these garments you shall be beautiful; and in these
   garments you shall be accepted: you must have the wedding garment on;
   you must put off all your own good works, for they will be but a means
   to keep you from Christ; no, you must come as not having your own
   righteousness, which is of the law, but you must have the righteousness
   of Christ. Therefore, come unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will give
   it to you; he will not send you away without it. Receive him upon his
   own terms, and he is yours forever: O devote yourselves to him, soul
   and body, and all, to be his for ever; and Christ will be yours and
   then happy, happy you, that ever you were born! But if any of you die
   before this espousal unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then woe, woe, unto
   you, that ever you had a being in life; but if you go to Christ you
   shall be espoused unto the Lord Jesus: though your sins have been never
   so great, yea, the blood of Christ will cleanse you from them; the
   marriage covenant between Christ and your souls will dissolve all your
   sins; you will then be weary of your old ways, for all things will
   become new in your souls.

   Now, my dear sisters, I shall conclude by just speaking a word or two
   to those of you, who are already espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

   O admire, admire the rich and free grace, which hath brought you to
   this relation: Is not this an instance of the greatest of love, that
   you should be the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ? You that had no
   beauty, you that had no comeliness, that was full of sin, that He
   should embrace such as you and I are; that we should be taken into the
   embrace of this Lord Jesus. O infinite condescending kindness! O
   amazing love! Reverence, reverence, I beseech you, this Lord Jesus
   Christ.

   He is you Lord, and you must reverence him, love and be faithful unto
   him, be subject to him, and careful to please him in every thing;
   endeavor to keep up a daily communion with him; look, long and prepare
   for Christ's second appearance, when the nuptials between you shall be
   solemnized, and you live with him in mansions of everlasting joys,
   where you shall love and live with this king of glory for ever and
   ever.

   I know not how to conclude; methinks I could speak to you till
   midnight, if it would bring you unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
   you be espoused to him, for indeed, that will be the espousal which
   will turn to the greatest advantage, as you will find by experience, if
   you will but make the trial; and that you may do so, my prayers and my
   constant endeavor shall be used.

   I will, my dear sisters, spend and be spent for you, and by the
   assistance of God, will persevere in this that I have begun; and as
   many of you may have opportunity some evening in the week, without
   breaking in on the business of life; I shall therefore, my sisters,
   either be here, or where you shall be publicly acquainted with: I will
   not mind being reproached or despised: the men of this world may use
   what language the please; they may say I am a Methodist. Indeed, my
   sisters, I am resolved, by the grace of God, to use all methods I can,
   to pluck you from Satan, that you may be as brands plucked from the
   burning fire: this shall be my method, which I hope will be the means
   of effectually having your precious and immortal souls.

   And if I am the instrument of this, I shall rejoice, yea, and I will
   rejoice in spite of what men, or devils, can say or do to the contrary:
   and may the Lord Jesus Christ direct, and assist me at all times, to
   act what will be most for is glory, and the welfare of your souls: and
   may you all say a hearty Amen thereto.

   "Now the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever,
   assist and watch over you, keep you from all evil and sin here, and
   present you before his Father faultless at the great day of account! To
   this Lord Jesus Christ, the Father , and the blessed Spirit, three
   persons and but one eternal and invisible God, be ascribed all honor,
   power, glory, might, majesty and dominion, now, henceforth, and for
   ever more. Amen, Amen."

   "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the
   fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all, to comfort under, and
   deliver you from tribulation; to preserve you to your respective place
   of abode; and when there, to keep you in his fear, that you may live to
   his glory; that to live may be Christ's, and to die by your eternal
   gain; so that you may live with him through eternal ages, and sing
   Hallelujahs to him for ever. Amen."
     __________________________________________________________________

   [2] Preached to a Society of Young Women, in Fetter-Lane
     __________________________________________________________________

                   Britain's Mercies, and Britain's Duty [3]

   Psalm 55:45 -- "That they might observe his statutes and keep his
   laws."

   Men, brethren, and fathers, and all ye to whom I am about to preach the
   kingdom of God, I suppose you need not be informed, that being
   indispensably obliged to be absent on your late thanksgiving day, I
   could not show my obedience to the governor's proclamation, as my own
   inclination led me, or as might justly be expected from, and demanded
   of me. But as the occasion of that day's thanksgiving is yet, and I
   trust ever will be, fresh in our memory, I cannot think that a
   discourse on that subject can even now be altogether unseasonable. I
   take it for granted, further, that you need not be informed, that among
   the various motives which are generally urged to enforce obedience to
   the divine commands, that of love is the most powerful and cogent. The
   terrors of the law ma affright and awe, but love dissolves and melts
   the heart. "The love of Christ," says the great apostle of the
   Gentiles, "constraineth us." Nay, love is so absolutely necessary for
   those that name the name of Christ, that without it, their obedience
   cannot truly be stiled evangelical, or be acceptable in the sight of
   God. "Although, (says the apostle) I bestow all my goods to feed the
   poor, and though I give my body to be burnt, and have not charity,"
   (i.e. unless unfeigned love to God, and to mankind for his great name's
   sake, be the principle of such actions, howsoever it may benefit
   others) it profiteth me nothing." This is the constant language of the
   lively oracles of God. And, from them it is equally plain, that nothing
   has a greater tendency to beget and excite such an obediential love in
   us, than a serious and frequent consideration of the manifold mercies
   we receive time after time from the bands of our heavenly Father. The
   royal psalmist, who had the honor of being stiled, "the man after God's
   own heart," had an abundant experience of this. Hence it is, that
   whilst he is musing on the divine goodness, the fire of divine love
   kindles in his soul; and, out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth
   speaketh such grateful and ecstatic language as this, "What shall I
   render unto the Lord for all his mercies? Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me, bless his holy name." And why? "who
   forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who
   redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving
   kindness and tender mercies." And when the same holy man of God had a
   mind to stir up the people of the Jews to set about a national
   reformation, as the most weighty and prevailing argument he could make
   use of for that purpose, he lays before them, as it were, in a draught,
   many national mercies, and distinguishing deliverances, which have been
   conferred upon and wrought out for them, by the most high God. The
   psalm to which the words of our text belong, is a pregnant proof of
   this; it being a kind of epitome or compendium of the whole Jewish
   history: at least it contains an enumeration of man signal and
   extraordinary blessings the Israelites had received from God, and also
   the improvement they were in duty bound to make of them, "Observe his
   statues and keep his laws."

   To run through all the particulars of the psalm, or draw a parallel
   (which might with great ease and justice be done) between God's
   dealings with us and the Israelites of old; To enumerate all the
   national mercies bestowed upon, and remarkable deliverances wrought out
   for the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, from the infant state of
   William the Norman to their present manhood, and more than Augustan,
   under the auspicious reign of our rightful Sovereign King George the
   second; howsoever pleasing and profitable it might be at any other
   time, would, at this juncture, prove, if not an irksome, yet an
   unreasonable undertaking.

   The occasion of the late solemnity, I mean the suppression of a most
   horrid and unnatural rebellion, will afford more than sufficient matter
   for a discourse of this nature, and furnish us with abundant motives to
   love and obey that glorious Jehovah, who giveth salvation unto kings,
   and delivers his people from the hurtful sword.

   Need I make an apology, before this auditory, if, in order to see the
   greatness of our late deliverance, I should remind you of the many
   unspeakable blessings which we have for a course of years enjoyed,
   during the reign of his present Majesty, and the gentle, mile
   administration under which we live? Without justly incurring the
   censure of giving flattering titles, I believe all who have eyes to
   see, and ears to hear, and are but a little acquainted with our public
   affairs, must acknowledge, that we have one of the best of Kings. It is
   now above nineteen years since he began to reign over us. And yet, was
   he seated on a royal throne, and were all his subjects placed before
   him, was he to address them as Samuel once addressed the Israelites,
   "Behold here I am, old and gray-headed, witness against me before the
   Lord, whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I
   defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?" They must, if they would do him
   justice, make the same answer as was given to Samuel, "Thou hast not
   defrauded us, nor oppressed us." What Tertulius, by way of flattery,
   said to Felix, may with the strictest justice be applied to our
   sovereign, "By thee we enjoy great quietness, and very worthy deeds
   have been done unto our nation by thy providence." He has been indeed
   Peter Patria, a father to our country, and though old and gray-headed,
   has jeopardized his precious life for us in the high places of the
   field. Nor has he less deserved the great and glorious title, which the
   Lord promises, that kings should sustain in the latter days, I mean, "a
   nursing father of the church." For not only the Church of England, as
   by law established, but all denominations of Christians whatsoever,
   have enjoyed their religious as well as civil liberties. As there has
   been no authorized oppression in the state, so there has been no
   publicly allowed persecution in the church. We breathe indeed in free
   air? As free (if not better) both as to temporals and spirituals, as
   any nation under heaven. Nor is the prospect likely to terminate in his
   majesty's death, which I pray God to defer. Our princesses are disposed
   of to Protestant powers. And we have great reason to be assured, that
   the present heir apparent, and his consort, are like minded with their
   royal father. And I cannot help thinking, that it is a peculiar
   blessing vouchsafed us by the King of kings, that his present Majesty
   has been continued so long among us. For now, his immediate successor
   (though his present situation obliges him, as it were, to lie dormant)
   has great and glorious opportunities, which we have reason to think he
   daily improves, of observing and weighing the national affairs,
   considering the various steps and turns of government, and consequently
   of laying in a large fund of experience, to make him a wise and great
   prince, if ever God should call him to sway the British scepter. Happy
   art thou, O England! Happy art thou, O America, who on every side art
   thus highly favored!

   But, alas! How soon would this happy scene have shifted, and a
   melancholy gloomy prospect have succeeded in its room, had the revels
   gained their point, and a popish abjured pretender been forced upon the
   British throne! For, supposing his birth not to be spurious, (as we
   have great reason to think it really was) what could we expect from
   one, descended from a father, who, when Duke of York, put all Scotland
   into confusion; and afterwards, when crowned King of England, for his
   arbitrary and tyrannical government, both in church and state, was
   justly obliged to abdicate the throne, by the assertors of British
   liberty? Or, supposing the horrid plot, first hatched in hell, and
   afterwards nursed at Rome, had taken place? Supposing, I say, the old
   Pretender should have obtained the triple crown, and have transferred
   his pretended title (as it is reported he has done) to his eldest son,
   what was all this for, but that, by being advanced to the popedom, he
   might rule both son and subjects with less control, and by their united
   interest, keep the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, in
   greater vassalage to the see of Rome? Ever since this unnatural
   rebellion broke out, I have looked upon the young Pretender as the
   phaeton (vehicle) of the present age. He is ambitiously and
   presumptuously aiming to seat himself in the throne of our rightful
   sovereign King George, which he is no more capable of keeping, than
   Phaetan was to guide the chariot of the sun; and had he succeeded in
   his attempt, like him, would only have set the world on fire. It is
   true, to do him justice, he has deserved well of the Church of Rome,
   and, in all probability, will hereafter be canonized amongst the noble
   order of their fictitious saints. But, with what an iron rod we might
   expect to have been bruised, had his troops been victorious, may easily
   be gathered from these cruel orders said to be found in the pockets of
   some of his officers, "Give no quarters to the Elector's troops." Add
   to this, that there was great reason to suspect, that, upon the first
   news of the success of the rebels, a general massacre was intended. So
   that if the Lord had not been on our side, Great Britain, not to say
   America, would, in a few weeks or months, have been an Akeldama, a
   field of blood.

   Besides, was a Popish pretender to rule over us, instead of being
   represented by a free parliament, and governed by laws made by their
   consent, as we now are; we should shortly have had only the shadow of
   one, and it may be no parliament at all. This is the native product of
   a Popish government, and what the unhappy family, from which this young
   adventurer pretends he descended, has always aimed at. Arbitrary
   principles he has sucked in with his mother's milk, and if he had been
   so honest, instead of that immature motto upon his standard, Tandem
   triumphant, only to have put, Sret pro ratient Vahmitat, he had given
   us a short, but true portrait of the nature of his intended, but
   blessed be God, now defeated reign. And why should I mention, that the
   sinking of the national debt, or rending away the funded property of
   the people, and the dissolution of the present happy union between the
   two kingdoms, would have been the immediate consequences of his
   success, as he himself declares in his second manifesto, dated from
   Holy-read House? These are evils, and great ones too; but then they are
   only evils of a temporary nature. They chiefly concern the body, and
   must necessarily terminate in the grave.

   But, alas! What an inundation of spiritual mischiefs, would soon have
   overflowed the Church, and what unspeakable danger should we and our
   posterity have been reduced to in respect to our better parts, our
   precious and immortal souls? How soon would whole swarms of monks,
   dominicans and friars, like so many locusts, have overspread and
   plagued the nation; with what winged speed would foreign titular
   bishops have posted over, in order to take possession of their
   respective fees? How quickly would our universities have been filled
   with youths who have been sent abroad by their Popish parents, in order
   to drink in all the superstitions of the church of Rome? What a speedy
   period would have been put to societies of all kinds, for promoting
   Christian knowledge, and propagating the gospel in foreign parts? How
   soon would have our pulpits have every where been filled with these old
   antichristian doctrines, free-will, meriting by works,
   transubstantiation, purgatory, works of supererogation,
   passive-obedience, non-resistance, and all the other abominations of
   the whore of Babylon? How soon would our Protestant charity schools in
   England, Scotland and Ireland, have been pulled down, our Bibles
   forcibly taken from us, and ignorance every where set up as the mother
   of devotion? How soon should we have been deprived of that invaluable
   blessing, liberty of conscience, and been obliged to commence (what
   they falsely call) catholics, or submit to all the tortures which a
   bigoted zeal, guided by the most cruel principles, could possibly
   invent? How soon would that mother of harlots have made herself once
   more drunk with the blood of the saints? And the whole tribe even of
   free-thinkers themselves, been brought to this dilemma, either to die
   martyrs for (although I never yet heard of one that did so) or,
   contrary to all their most avowed principles, renounce their great
   Diana, unassisted, unenlightened reason? But I must have done, lest
   while I am speaking against antichrist, I should unawares fall myself,
   and lead my hearers into an antichristian spirit. True and undefiled
   religion will regulate our zeal, and teach us to treat even the man of
   sin with no harsher language than that which the angel gave to his
   grand employer Satan, "The Lord rebuke thee."

   Glory be to God's great name! The Lord has rebuked him; and that too at
   a time when we had little reason to expect such a blessing at God's
   hands. My dear hearers, neither the present frame of my heart, nor the
   occasion of your late solemn meeting, lead me to give you a detail of
   our public vices. Though, alas! They are so many, so notorious, and
   withal of such a crimson-dye, that a gospel minister would not be
   altogether inexcusable, was he, even on such a joyful occasion, to lift
   up his voice like a trumpet, to show the British nation their
   transgression, and the people of America their sin. However, though I
   would not cast a dismal shade upon the pleasing picture the cause of
   our late rejoicings set before us; yet thus much may, and ought to be
   said, that as God has not dealt so bountifully with any people as with
   us, so no nation under heaven has dealt more ungratefully with Him. We
   have been like Capernaum, lifted up to heaven in privileges, and for
   the abuse of them, like her, have deserved to be thrust down into hell.
   How well soever it may be with us, in respect to our civil and
   ecclesiastical constitution, yet in regard to our morals, Isaiah's
   description of the Jewish polity is too applicable, "The whole head is
   sick, the whole heart is faint; from the crown of the head to the sole
   of our feet, we are full of wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores."
   We have, Jeshurun-like, waxed fat and kicked. We have played the harlot
   against God, both in regard to principles and practices. "Our gold is
   become dim, and our fine gold changed." We have crucified the Son of
   God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Nay, Christ has been wounded
   in the house of his friends. And every thing long ago seemed to
   threaten an immediate storm. But, O the long-suffering and goodness of
   God to us-ward! When all things seemed ripe for destruction, and
   matters were come to such a crisis, that God's praying people began to
   think, that though Noah, Daniel and Job, were living, they would only
   deliver their own souls; yet then in the midst of judgment the Most
   High remembered mercy, and when a popish enemy was breaking in upon us
   like a flood, the Lord himself graciously lifted up a standard.

   This to me does not seem to be one of the most unfavorable
   circumstances which have attended this mighty deliverance; nor do I
   think you will look upon it as a circumstance altogether unworthy your
   observation. Had this cockatrice indeed been crushed in the egg, and
   the young Pretender driven back upon his first arrival, it would
   undoubtedly have been a great blessing. But not so great as that for
   which you lately assembled to give God thanks; for then his Majesty
   would not have had so good an opportunity of knowing his enemies, or
   trying his friends. The British subjects would in a manner have lost
   the fairest occasion that ever offered to express their loyalty and
   gratitude to the rightful sovereign. France would not have been so
   greatly humbled; nor such an effectual stop have been put, as we trust
   there now is, to any such further Popish plot, to rob us of all that is
   near and dear to us. "Out of the eater therefore hath come forth meat,
   and out of the strong hath come forth sweetness." The Pretender's
   eldest son is suffered not only to land in the North-West Highlands in
   Scotland, but in a little while he becomes a great band. This for a
   time is not believed, but treated as a thing altogether incredible. The
   friends of the government in those parts, not for want of loyalty, but
   of sufficient authority to take up arms, could not resist him. He is
   permitted to pass on with his terrible banditti, and, like the comet
   that was lately seen, spreads his baleful influences all around him. He
   is likewise permitted to gain a short-lived triumph by a victory over a
   body of our troops at Prestan-Pans, and to take a temporary possession
   of the metropolis of Scotland. Of this he makes his boast, and informs
   the public, that "Providence had hitherto favored him with wonderful
   success, led him in the way to victory, and to the capital of the
   ancient kingdom, though he came without foreign aid." Nay, he is
   further permitted to press into the very heart of England. But now the
   Almighty interposes. Hitherto he was to go, and no further. Here were
   his malicious designs to be staid. His troops of s sudden are driven
   back. Away they post to the Highlands, and there they are suffered not
   only to increase, but also to collect themselves into a large body,
   that having, as it were, what Caligula once wished Rome had, but one
   neck, they might be cut off with one blow.

   This time, manner, and instruments of this victory, deserves our
   notice. It was on a general fast-day, when the clergy and good people
   of Scotland were lamenting the disloyalty of their persidious
   countrymen, and, like Moses, lifting up their hands, that Amalek might
   not prevail. The victory was total and decisive. Little blood was spilt
   on the side of the Royalists. And, to crown all, Duke William, his
   Majesty's youngest son, has the honor of first driving back, and then
   defeating the rebel-army. A prince, who in his infancy and youth, gave
   early proofs of an uncommon bravery and nobleness of mind; a prince,
   whose courage has increased with his years. Who returned wounded from
   the battle of Dettingen, behaved with surprising bravery at Fontenoy,
   and now, by a conduct and magnanimity becoming the high office he
   sustains, like his glorious predecessor the Prince of Orange, has
   delivered three kingdoms from the dread of popish cruelty, and
   arbitrary power. What renders it still more remarkable is, The day on
   which his Highness gained this victory, was the day after his birthday,
   when he was entering on the 26th year of his age; and when Sullivan,
   one of the Pretender's privy-council, like another Ahithophel, advised
   the rebels to give our soldiers battle, presuming they were surfeited
   and over-charged with their yesterday's rejoicings, and consequently
   unfit to make any great stand against them. But, glory be to God, who
   catches the wise in their own craftiness! His counsel, like
   Ahithophel's, proves abortive. Both General and soldiers were prepared
   to meet them. "God taught their hands to war, and their fingers to
   fight," and brought the Duke, after a deserved slaughter of some
   thousands of the rebels, with most of his brave soldiers, victorious
   from the field.

   If we then take a distinct view of this notable transaction, and trace
   it in all the particular circumstances that have attended it, I believe
   we must with one heart and voice confess, that if it be a mercy for a
   state to be delivered from a worse than a Catiline's conspiracy, or a
   church to be rescued from a hotter than a Dioclestan persecution; if it
   be a mercy to be delivered from a religion that turns plough-shares
   into swords, and pruning-hooks into spears, and makes it meritorious to
   shed Protestant blood; if it be a mercy to have all our present
   invaluable privileges, both in church and state secured to us more than
   ever; if it be a mercy to have these great things done for us, at a
   season, when for our crying sins, both church and state justly deserved
   to be overturned; and if it be a mercy to have all this brought about
   for us, under God, by one of the blood-royal, a prince acting with an
   experience far above his years; if any, or all of these are mercies,
   then have you lately commemorated one of the greatest mercies that ever
   the glorious God vouchsafed to the British nation.

   And shall we not rejoice and give thanks? Should we refuse, would not
   the stones cry out against us? Rejoice then we may and ought: but, O
   let our rejoicing be in the Lord, and run in a religious channel. This,
   we find, has been the practice of God's people in all ages. When he was
   pleased, with a mighty hand, and out-stretched arm to lead the
   Israelites through the Red Sea, as on dry ground, "Then sang Moses and
   the children of Israel; and Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron,
   took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her. And
   Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord; for he hath triumphed
   gloriously." When God subdued Jabin, the King of Canaan, before the
   children of Israel, "then sang Deborah and Barak on that day, saying,
   "Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel." When the ark was
   brought back out of the hands of the Philistines, David, though a king,
   danced before it. And, to mention but one instance more, which may
   serve as a general directory to us on this and such-like occasions:
   when the great Head of the church had rescued his people from the
   general massacre intended to be executed upon them by a cruel and
   ambitious Haman, "Mordecai sent letters unto all the Jews that were in
   all the provinces of the King Ahaserus, both nigh and far, to establish
   among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar,
   and the fifteenth day of the same yearly, as the days wherein the Jews
   rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them
   from sorrow unto joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they
   should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one
   to another, and gifts to the poor." And why should wee not to and do
   likewise?

   And shall we not also, on such an occasion, express our gratitude to,
   and make honorable mention of, those worthies who have signalized
   themselves, and been ready to sacrifice both lives and fortunes at this
   critical juncture?

   This would be to act the part of those ungrateful Israelites, who are
   branded in the book of God, for not showing kindness to the house of
   "Jerub-Baal, namely Gideon, according to all the goodness which he
   showed unto Israel." Even a Pharaoh could prefer a deserving Joseph,
   Ahasuerus a Mordecai, and Nebuchadnezzar a Daniel, when made
   instruments of signal service to themselves and people. "My heart, says
   Deborah, is towards (i.e. I have a particular veneration and regard
   for) the Governors of Israel that offered themselves willingly. And
   blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be; for she
   put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer,
   and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she
   had pierced and stricken through his temples." And shall we not say,
   "Blessed above men let his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland be;
   for through his instrumentality, the great and glorious Jehovah hath
   brought might things to pass?" Should not our hearts be towards the
   worthy Archbishop of Tirk, the Royal Hunters, and those other English
   heroes who offered themselves so willingly? Let the names of Blakeney,
   Bland and Rea, and all those who waxed valiant in fight on this
   important occasion, live for ever in the British annals. And let the
   name of that great, that incomparable brave soldier of the King, and a
   good soldier of Jesus Christ, Colonel Gardiner, (excuse me if I here
   drop a tear; he was my intimate friend) let his name, I say, be had in
   everlasting remembrance.

   But, after all, is there not an infinitely greater debt of gratitude
   and praise due from us, on this occasion, to Him that is higher than
   the highest, even the King of kings and Lord of Lords, the blessed and
   only Potentate? Is not his arm, his strong and mighty arm, (what
   instruments soever may have been made use of) that hath brought us this
   salvation? And may I not therefore address you, in the exulting
   language of the beginning of this psalm, from which we have taken our
   text? "O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his
   deeds among the people. Sing unto Him; sing psalms unto him; talk ye of
   all his wondrous works; glory ye in his holy name; remember his
   marvelous work which he hath done."

   But shall we put off our good and gracious benefactor with mere lip-
   service? God forbid. Your worthy Governor has honored God in his late
   excellent proclamation, and God will honor him. But shall our thanks
   terminate with the day? No, in no wise. Our text reminds us of a more
   noble sacrifice, and points out to us the great end the Almighty
   Jehovah proposes, in bestowing such signal favors upon a people, "That
   they should observe his statutes, and keep his laws."

   This is the return we are all taught to pray, that we may make to the
   Most High God, the Father of mercies, in the daily office or our
   church, "That our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we may
   show forth his praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by
   giving up ourselves to his service, and by walking before him in
   holiness and righteousness all our days." O that these words were the
   real language of all the use them! O that these were in us such a mind!
   How soon would our enemies then flee before us? And God, even our own
   God, would yet give us more abundant blessings!

   And why should not we "observe God's statutes, and keep his laws?" Dare
   we say, that any of his commands are grievous? Is not Christ's yoke, to
   a renewed soul, as far as renewed, easy; and his burden comparatively
   light? May I not appeal to the most refined reasoner whether the
   religion of Jesus Christ be not a social religion? Whether the Moral
   Law, as explained by the Lord Jesus in the gospel, has not a natural
   tendency to promote the present good and happiness of a whole
   commonwealth, supposing they were obedient to them, as well as the
   happiness of every individual? From when come wars and fighting amongst
   us? From what fountain do all those evil, which the present and past
   ages have groaned under, flow, but from a neglect of the laws and
   statues of our great and all-wise law-giver Jesus of Nazareth? Tell me,
   ye men of letters, whether Lycurgus or Solon, Pythagoras or Plato,
   Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, or all the ancient lawgivers and heathen
   moralists, put them all together, ever published a system of ethics,
   any way worthy to be compared with the glorious system laid down in
   that much despised book, (to use Sir Richard Steel's expression)
   emphatically called, the Scriptures? Is not the divine image and
   superscription written upon every precept of the gospel? Do they not
   shine with a native intrinsic luster? And, though many things in them
   are above, yet, is there any thing contrary to the strictest laws of
   right reason? Is not Jesus Christ, in scripture, stiled the Word, the
   Logos, the Reason? And is not his service a reasonable service? What if
   there be mysteries in his religion? Are they not without all
   controversy great and glorious? Are they n9ot mysteries of godliness,
   and worthy of that God who reveals them? Nay, is it not the greatest
   mystery, that men, who pretend to reason, and call themselves
   philosophers, who search into the arcana natura, and consequently find
   a mystery in every blade of grass, should yet be so irrational as to
   decry all mysteries in religion? Where is the scribe? Where is the
   wise? Where is the disputer against the Christian revelation? Does not
   every thing without and within us, conspire to prove its divine
   original? And would not self-interest, if there was no other motive,
   excite us to observe God's statutes, and keep his laws?

   Besides, considered as a Protestant people, do we not lie under the
   greatest obligations of any nation under heaven, to pay a cheerful,
   unanimous, universal, persevering obedience to the divine commands.

   The wonderful and surprising manner of God's bringing about a
   Reformation, in the reign of King Henry the Eighth; his carrying it on
   in the blessed reign of King Edward the Sixth; his delivering us out of
   the bloody hands of Queen Mary, and destroying the Spanish invincible
   armads, under her immediate Protestant successor Queen Elizabeth, his
   discovery of the popish plot under King James; the glorious revolution
   by King William, and, to come nearer to our own times, his driving away
   four thousand five hundred Spaniards, from a weak (though important)
   frontier colony, when they had, in a manner, actually taken possession
   of it; his giving us Louisbourg, one of the strongest fortresses of our
   enemies, contrary to all human probability, but the other day, into our
   hands: these, I say, with the victory which you have lately been
   commemorating, are such national mercies, not to mention any more, as
   will render us utterly inexcusable, if they do not produce a national
   Reformation, and incite us all, with one heart, to keep God's statutes,
   and observe his laws.

   Need I remind you further, in order to excite in you a greater
   diligence to comply with the intent of the text, that though the storm,
   in a great measure, is abated by his Royal Highness's late success, yet
   we dare not say, it is altogether blown over?

   The clouds may again return after the rain; and the few surviving
   rebels (which I pray God avert) may yet be suffered to make head
   against us. We are still engaged in a bloody, and, in all probability,
   a tedious war, with two of the most inveterate enemies to the interests
   of Great- Britain. And, though I cannot help thinking, that their
   present intentions are so iniquitous, their conduct so persidious, and
   their schemes so directly derogatory to the honor of the Most High God,
   that he will certainly humble them in the end, yet, as all things in
   this life happen alike to all, they may for a time, be dreadful
   instruments of scourging us. If not, God has other arrows in his quiver
   to smite us with, besides the French King, his Catholic Majesty, or an
   abjured Pretender. Not only the sword, but plague, pestilence, and
   famine, are under the divine command. Who knows but he may say to them
   all, "Pass through these lands?" A fatal murrain has lately swept away
   abundance of cattle at home and abroad. A like epidemical disease may
   have a commission to seize our persons as well as our beasts. Thus God
   dealt with the Egyptians: who dare say, he will not deal so with us?
   Has he not already given some symptoms of it? What great numbers upon
   the continent have been lately taken off by the bloody-flux, small-pox,
   and yellow-fever? Who can tell what further judgments are yet in store?
   However, this is certain, the rod is yet hanging over us: and I believe
   it will be granted on all sides, that if such various dispensations of
   mercy and judgment do not teach the inhabitants of any land to learn
   righteousness, they will only ripen them for a greater ruin. Give my
   leave, therefore, to dismiss you at this time with that solemn awful
   warning and exhortation, with which the venerable Samuel, on a public
   occasion, took leave of the people of Israel: "Only fear the Lord, and
   serve him in truth, with all your heart: for consider how great things
   he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, [I will not
   say as the Prophet did, You shall be consumed; but] ye know not but you
   may provoke the Lord Almighty to consume both you and your king." Which
   God of his infinite mercy prevent, for the sake of Jesus Christ: to
   whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, three persons, but one God,
   be all honor and glory, now and for evermore. Amen, Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

   [3] Preached at Philadelphia, on Sunday, August 14, 1746 and Occasioned
   by the Suppression of the Late Unnatural Rebellion
     __________________________________________________________________

              Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty

   Numberless marks does man bear in his soul, that he is fallen and
   estranged from God; but nothing gives a greater proof thereof, than
   that backwardness, which every one finds within himself, to the duty of
   praise and thanksgiving.

   When God placed the first man in paradise, his soul no doubt was so
   filled with a sense of the riches of the divine love, that he was
   continually employing that breath of life, which the Almighty had not
   long before breathed into him, in blessing and magnifying that
   all-bountiful, all gracious God, in whom he lived, moved, and had his
   being.

   And the brightest idea we can form of the angelical hierarchy above,
   and the spirits of just men made perfect, is, that they are continually
   standing round the throne of God, and cease not day and night, saying,
   "Worthy art thou, O Lamb that wast slain, to receive power and riches,
   and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Rev.
   5:12.

   That then, which was man's perfection when time first began, and will
   be his employment when death is swallowed up in victory, and time shall
   be no more, without controversy, is part of our perfection, and ought
   to be our frequent exercise on earth: and I doubt not but those blessed
   spirits, who are sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of
   salvation, often stand astonished when they encamp around us, or find
   our hearts so rarely enlarged, and our mouths so seldom opened, to show
   forth the loving- kindness of the Lord, or to speak of all his praise.

   Matter for praise and adoration, can never be wanting to creatures
   redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and who have such continual
   scenes of his infinite goodness presented to their view, that were
   their souls duly affected with a sense of his universal love, they
   could not but be continually calling on heaven and earth, men and
   angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that "high and lofty
   one, who inhabiteth eternity, who maketh his sun to shine on the evil
   and on the good," and daily pours down his blessings on the whole race
   of mankind.,

   But few are arrived to such a degree of charity or love, as to rejoice
   with those that do rejoice, and to be as thankful for other mercies, as
   their own. This part of Christian perfection, though begun on earth,
   will be consummated only in heaven; where our hearts will glow with
   such fervent love towards God and one another, that every fresh degree
   of glory communicated to our neighbor, will also communicate to us a
   fresh topic of thankfulness and joy.

   That which has the greatest tendency to excite the generality of fallen
   men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God's private mercies,
   and particular benefits bestowed upon ourselves. For as these come
   nearer our own hearts, so they must be more affecting: and as they are
   peculiar proofs, whereby we may know, that God does in a more especial
   manner favor us above others, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and
   if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner's fire,
   they must melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a
   consideration of the distinguishing favor God had shown to his chosen
   people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverance wrought by
   him in behalf of "hose who go down to the Sea in ships, and occupy
   their business in great matters," that made the holy Psalmist break out
   so frequently as he does in this psalm, into this moving, pathetical
   exclamation, "that men would therefore praise the Lord for his
   goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of
   men!"

   His expressing himself in so fervent a manner, implies both the
   importance and neglect of the duty. As when Moses in another occasion
   cried out, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they
   would practically consider their latter end!" Deut. 32:29.

   I say, importance and neglect of the duty; for out of those man
   thousands that receive blessings from the Lord, how few give thanks in
   remembrance of his holiness? The account given us of the ungrateful
   lepers, is but too lively a representation of the ingratitude of
   mankind in general; who like them, when under any humbling providence,
   can cry, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Luke 17:13. But when healed
   of their sickness, or delivered from their distress, scarce one in ten
   can be found "returning to give thanks to God."

   And yet as common as this sin of ingratitude is, there is nothing we
   ought more earnestly to pray against. For what is more absolutely
   condemned in holy scripture than ingratitude? Or what more peremptorily
   (absolutely, emphatically) required than the contrary temper? Thus says
   the Apostle, "Rejoice evermore; in every thing give thanks," 1 Thes.
   5:16, 18. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and
   supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto
   God," Phil. 4:6.

   On the contrary, the Apostle mentions it as one of the highest crimes
   of the Gentiles, that they were not thankful. "Neither were they
   thankful," Rom. 1:21. As also in another place, he numbers the
   "unthankful," 2 Tim. 3:2 amongst those unholy, profane person, who are
   to have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone.

   As for our sins, God puts them behind his back; but his mercies he will
   have acknowledged, "There is virtue gone out of me," says Jesus Christ,
   Luke 8:46 and the woman who was cured of her bloody issue, must confess
   it. And we generally find, when God sent any remarkable punishment upon
   a particular person, he reminded him of the favors he had received, as
   so many aggravations of his ingratitude. Thus when God was about to
   visit Eli's house, he thus expostulates with him by his prophet: "Did I
   plainly appear unto the house of thy fathers, when they were in Egypt,
   in Pharaoh's house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of
   Israel, to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, and
   to wear an ephod before me? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice, and at
   mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation, and honorest
   thy sons above me; so make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the
   offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith,
   I said indeed, that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk
   before me for ever; but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me, for them
   that honor me will I honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly
   esteemed" 2 Sam. 2:27-30.

   It was this and such like instances of God's severity against the
   unthankful, that inclined me to choose the words of the text, as the
   most proper subject I could discourse on at this time.

   Four months, my good friends, we have now been upon the sea in this
   ship, and "have occupied our business in the great waters." At God
   Almighty's word, we have seen "the stormy wind arise, which hath lifted
   up the waves thereof. We have been carried up to the heaven, and down
   again to the deep, and some of our souls melted away because of the
   trouble; but I trust we cried earnestly unto the Lord, and he delivered
   us out of our distress. For he made the storm to cease; so that the
   waves thereof were still. And now we are glad, because we are at rest,
   for God hath brought us to the haven where we would be. O that you
   would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the
   wonders that he hath done for us, the unworthiest of the sons of men."

   Thus Moses, thus Joshua behaved. For when they were about to take their
   leave of the children of Israel, they recounted to them what great
   things God had done for them, as the best arguments and motives they
   could urge to engage them to obedience. And how can I copy after better
   examples? What fitter, what more noble motives, to holiness and purity
   of living, can I lay before you, than they did?

   Indeed, I cannot say, that we have seen the "pillar of a cloud by day,
   or a pillar of fire by night," going visibly before us to guide our
   course; but this I can say, that the same God who was in that pillar of
   a cloud, and pillar of fire, which departed not from the Israelites,
   and who has made the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the
   night, has, by his good providence, directed us in our right way, or
   else the pilot had steered us in vain.

   Neither can I say, That we have seen the "sun stand still," as the
   children of Israel did in the days of Joshua. But surely God, during
   part of our voyage, has caused it to withhold some of that heat, which
   it usually sends forth in these warmer climates, or else it had not
   failed, but some of you must have perished in the sickness that has
   been, and does yet continue among us.

   We have not seen the waters stand purposely on an heap, that we might
   pass through, neither have we been pursued by Pharaoh and his host, and
   delivered out of their hands; but we have been led through the sea as
   through a wilderness, and were once remarkably preserved from being run
   down by another ship; which had God permitted, the waters, in all
   probability, would immediately have overwhelmed us, and like Pharaoh
   and his host, we should have sunk, as stones, into the sea.

   We may, indeed, atheist like, ascribe all these things to natural
   causes, and say, "Our own skill and foresight has brought us hither in
   safety." But as certainly as Jesus Christ, the angel of the covenant,
   in the days of his flesh, walked upon the water, and said to his
   sinking disciples, "Be not afraid, it is I," so surely has the same
   everlasting I AM, "who decketh himself with light as with a garment,
   who spreadeth out the heavens like a curtain, who claspeth the winds in
   his fist, who holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hands," and
   guided the wise men by a star in the east; so surely, I say, has he
   spoken, and at his command the winds have blown us where we are not
   arrived. For his providence ruleth all things; "Wind and storms obey
   his word:" he saith to it at one time, Go, and it goeth; at another,
   Come, and it cometh; and at a third time, Blow this way, and it
   bloweth.

   It is he, my brethren; and not we ourselves, that has of late sent us
   such prosperous gales, and made us to ride, as it were, on the wings of
   the wind, into the haven where we would be.

   "O that you would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness," and by
   your lives declare, that you are truly thankful for the wonders he had
   shown to us; who are less than the least of the sons of men.

   I say, declare it by your lives. For to give him thanks, barely with
   your lips; while your hearts are far from him, is but a mock sacrifice,
   nay, an abomination unto the Lord.

   This was the end, the royal Psalmist says, God had in view, when he
   showed such wonders, from time to time, to the people of Israel, "That
   they might keep his statutes, and observe his laws," Psalm 105:44 and
   this, my good friends, is the end God would have accomplished in us,
   and the only return he desires us to make him, for all the benefits he
   hath conferred upon us.

   O then, let me beseech you, give to God your hearts, your whole hearts;
   and suffer yourselves to be drawn by the cords of infinite love, to
   honor and obey him.

   Assure yourselves you can never serve a better master; for his service
   is perfect freedom, his yoke, when worn a little while, is exceeding
   easy, his burden light, and in keeping his commandments there is great
   reward; love, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a crown of glory
   that fadeth not away, hereafter.

   You may, indeed, let other lords have dominion over you, and Satan may
   promise to give you all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of
   them, if you will fall down and worship him; but he is a liar, and was
   so from the beginning; he has not so much to give you, as you may tread
   on with the soul of your foot; or could he give you the whole world,
   yea, that could not make you happy without God. It is God alone, my
   brethren, whose we are, in whose name I now speak, and who has of late
   showed us such mercies in the deep, that can give solid lasting
   happiness to your souls; and he for this reason only desires your
   hearts, because without him you must be miserable.

   Suffer me not then to go away without my errand; as it is the last time
   I shall speak to you, let me not speak in vain; but let a sense of the
   divine goodness lead you to repentance.

   Even Saul, that abandoned wretch, when David showed him his skirt,
   which he had cut off, when he might have also taken his life, was so
   melted down with his kindness, that he lifted up his voice and wept.
   And we must have hearts harder than Saul's, nay, harder than the nether
   millstone, if a sense of God's late loving kindnesses, notwithstanding
   he might so often have destroyed us, does not even compel us to lay
   down our arms against him, and become his faithful servants and
   soldiers unto our lives end.

   If they have not this effect upon us, we shall, of all men, be most
   miserable; for God is just, as well as merciful; and the more blessings
   we have received here, the greater damnation, if we do not improve
   them, shall we incur hereafter.

   But God forbid that any of those should ever suffer the vengeance of
   eternal fire, amongst whom, I have, for these four months, been
   preaching the gospel of Christ; but yet thus must it be, if you do not
   improve the divine mercies: and instead of your being my crown of
   rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, I must appear as a swift
   witness against you.

   But, brethren, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that
   accompany salvation, though I thus speak.

   Blessed be God, some marks of a partial reformation at least, have been
   visible amongst all you that are soldiers. And my weak, though sincere
   endeavors, to build you up in the knowledge and fear of God, have not
   been altogether in vain in the Lord.

   Swearing, I hope is, in a great measure, abated with you; and God, I
   trust, has blessed his late visitations, by making them the means of
   awakening your consciences, to a more solicitous inquiry about the
   things which belong to your everlasting peace.

   Fulfill you then my joy, by continuing thus minded, and labor to go on
   to perfection. For I shall have no greater pleasure than to see, or
   hear, that you walk in the truth.

   Consider, my good friends, you are now, as it were, entering on a new
   world, where you will be surrounded with multitudes of heathens; and if
   you take not heed to "have your conversation honest amongst them," and
   to "walk worthy of the holy vocation wherewith you are called," you
   will act the hellish part of Herod's soldiers over again; and cause
   Christ's religion, as they did his person, to be had in derision of
   those that are round about you.

   Consider further, what peculiar privileges you have enjoyed, above many
   others that are entering on the same land. They have had, as it were, a
   famine of the word, but you have rather been in danger of being
   surfeited with your spiritual manna. And, therefore, as more
   instructions have been given you, so from you, men will most justly
   expect the greater improvement in goodness.

   Indeed, I cannot say, I have discharged my duty towards you as I ought.
   No, I am sensible of many faults in my ministerial office, and for
   which I have not failed, nor, I hope, ever shall fail, to humble myself
   in secret before God. However, this I can say, that except a few days
   that have been spent necessarily on other persons, whom God immediately
   called me to write and minister unto, and the two last weeks wherein I
   have been confined by sickness; all the while I have been aboard, I
   have been either actually engaged in, or preparing myself for
   instructing you. And though you are now to be committed to the care of
   another (whose labors I heartily beseech God to bless amongst you) yet
   I trust I shall, at all seasons, if need be, willingly spend, and be
   spent, for the good of your souls, though the more abundantly I love
   you, the less I should be loved.

   As for your military affairs, I have nothing to do with them. Fear God,
   and you must honor the King. Nor am I well acquainted with the nature
   of that land which you are now come over to protect; only this I may
   venture to affirm in the general, that you must necessarily expect upon
   your arrival at a new colony, to meet with many difficulties. But your
   very profession teaches you to endure hardship; "be not, therefore,
   faint- hearted, but quit yourselves like men, and be strong," Numb. 14.
   Be not like those cowardly persons, who were affrighted at the report
   of the false spies, that came and said, that there were people tall as
   the Anakims to be grappled with, but be ye like unto Caleb and Joshua,
   all heart; and say, we will act valiantly, for we shall be more than
   conquerors over all difficulties through Jesus Christ that loved us.
   Above all things, my brethren, take heed, and beware of murmuring, like
   the perverse Israelites, against those that are set over you; and
   "learn, whatsoever state you shall be in, therewith to be content,"
   Phil. 4:11.

   As I have spoken to you, I hope your wives also will suffer the word of
   exhortation,

   Your behavior on shipboard especially the first part of the voyage, I
   choose to throw a cloak over; for to use them mildest terms, it was not
   such as became the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, of late,
   blessed be God, you have taken more heed to your ways, and some of you
   have walked all the while, as became "women professing godliness." Let
   those accept my hearty thanks, and permit me to entreat you all in
   general, as you are all now married, to remember the solemn vow you
   made at your entrance into the marriage state, and see that you be
   subject to your own husbands, in every lawful thing: Beg of God to keep
   the door of your lips, that you offend not with your tongues; and walk
   in love, that your prayers be not hindered. You that have children, let
   it be your chief concern to breed them up in the nurture and admonition
   of the Lord. And live all of you so holy and unblameable, that you may
   not so much as be suspected to be unchaste; and as some of you have
   imitated Mary Magdalen in her sin, strive to imitate her also in her
   repentance.

   As for you, sailors, what shall I say? How shall I address myself to
   you? How shall I do that which I so much long to do; touch your hearts?
   Gratitude obliges me to wish thus well to you. For you have often
   taught me many instructive lessons, and reminded me to put up many
   prayers to God for you, that you might receive your spiritual sight.

   When I have seen you preparing for a storm, and reefing [could also be
   reesing] your sails to guard against it; how have I wished that you and
   I were as careful to avoid that storm of God's wrath, which will
   certainly, without repentance, quickly overtake us? When I have
   observed you catch at ever fair gale, how I secretly cried, O that we
   were as careful to know the things that belong to our peace, before
   they are forever hid from our eyes! And when I have taken notice, how
   steadily you eyed your compass in order to steer aright, how have I
   wished, that we as steadily eyed the word of God, which alone can
   preserve us from "making shipwreck of faith, and a good conscience!" In
   short, there is scarce anything you do, which has not been a lesson of
   instruction to me; and, therefore, it would me ungrateful in me, did I
   not take this opportunity of exhorting you in the name of our Lord
   Jesus Christ, to be as wise in the things which concern you soul, as I
   have observed you to be in the affairs belonging to your ship.

   I am sensible, that the sea is reckoned but an ill school to learn
   Christ in: and to see a devout sailor, is esteemed an uncommon a thing,
   as to see a Saul amongst the prophets. But whence this wondering?
   Whence this looking upon a godly sailor, as a man to be wondered at, as
   a speckled bird in the creation? I am sure, for the little time I have
   come in and out amongst you, and as far as I can judge from the little
   experience I have had of things, I scarce know any way of life, that is
   capable of greater improvements than yours.

   The continual danger you are in of being overwhelmed by the great
   waters; the many opportunities you have of beholding God's wonders in
   the deep; the happy retirement you enjoy from worldly temptations; and
   the daily occasions that are offered you, to endure hardships, are such
   noble means of promoting the spiritual life, that were your hearts bent
   towards God, you would account it your happiest, that his providence
   has called you, to "go down to the sea in ships, and to occupy your
   business in the great waters."

   The royal Psalmist knew this, and, therefore, in the words of the text,
   calls more especially on men of your employ, to "praise the Lord for
   his goodness, and declare the wonders he doeth for the children of
   men."

   And O that you would be wise in time, and hearken to his voice today,
   "whilst it is called to-day!" For ye yourselves know how little is to
   be done on a sick bed. God has, in an especial manner, of late, invited
   you to repentance: two of your crew he has taken off by death, and most
   of you he has mercifully visited with a grievous sickness. The terrors
   of the Lord have been upon you, and when burnt with a scorching fever,
   some of you have cried out, "What shall w do to be saved?" Remember
   then the resolutions you made, when you thought God was about to take
   away your souls; and see that according to your promises, you show
   forth your thankfulness, not only with your lips, but in your lives.
   For though God may bear long, he will not forbear always; and if these
   signal mercies and judgments do not lead you to repentance, assure
   yourselves there will at last come a fiery tempest, from the presence
   of the Lord, which will sweep away you, and all other adversaries of
   God.

   I am positive, neither you nor the soldiers have wanted, nor will want
   any manner of encouragement to piety and holiness of living, from those
   two persons who have here the government over you; for they have been
   such helps to me in my ministry, and have so readily concurred in every
   thing for your good, that they may justly demand a public
   acknowledgment of thanks both from you and me.

   Permit me, my honored friends, in the name of both classes of your
   people, to return you hearty thanks for the ears and tenderness you
   have expressed for the welfare of their better parts.

   As for the private favors you have shown to my person, I hope so deep a
   sense of them is imprinted on my heart, that I shall plead them before
   God in prayer, as long as I live.

   But I have still stronger obligations to intercede in your behalf. For
   God, ever adored be his free grace in Christ Jesus! Has set his seal to
   my ministry in your hearts. Some distant pangs of the new birth I have
   observed to come upon you; and God forbid that I should sin against the
   Lord, by ceasing to pray, that the good work begun in your souls, may
   be carried on till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

   The time of our departure from each other is not at hand, and you are
   going out into a world of temptations. But though absent in body, let
   us be present with each other in spirit; and God, I trust, will enable
   you to be singularly good, to be ready to be accounted fools for
   Christ's sake; and then we shall meet never to part again in the
   kingdom of our Father which is in heaven.

   To you, my companions and familiar friends, who came over with me to
   sojourn in a strange land, do I in the next place address myself. For
   you I especially fear, as well as for myself, because as we take sweet
   counsel together oftener than others, and as you are let into a more
   intimate friendship with me in private life, the eyes of all men will
   be upon you to note even the minutest miscarriage; and, therefore, it
   highly concerns you to "walk circumspectly towards those that are
   without," I hope, that nothing but a single eye to God's glory and the
   salvation of your own souls, brought you from your native country.
   Remember than the end of your coming hither, and you can never do
   amiss. Be patterns of industry, as well as of piety, to those who shall
   be around you; and above all things let us have such fervent charity
   amongst ourselves, that it may be said of us, as of the primitive
   Christians, "See how the Christians love one another."

   And now I have been speaking to others particularly, I have one general
   request to make to all, and that with reference to myself.

   You have heard, my dear friends, how I have been exhorting every one of
   you to show forth your thankfulness for the divine goodness, not only
   with your lips, but in your lives. But "physician heal thyself," may
   justly be retorted on me. For (without any false pretenses to humility)
   I find my own heart so little inclined to this duty of thanksgiving for
   the benefits I have received, that I had need fear sharing Hezekiah's
   fate, who because he was lifted up by, and not thankful enough for, the
   great things God had done for him, was given up a prey to the pride of
   his own heart.

   I need, therefore, and beg your most importunate petitions at the
   throne of grace, that no such evil may befall me; that the more Go
   exalts me, the more I may debase myself; and that after I have preached
   to others, I myself may not be cast away.

   And now, brethren, into God's hands I commend your spirits, who, I
   trust, through his infinite mercies in Christ Jesus, will preserve you
   blameless, till his second coming to judge the world.

   Excuse my detaining you for long; perhaps it is the last time I shall
   speak to you: my heart is full, and out of the abundance of it, I could
   continue my discourse until midnight. But I must away to your new
   world; may God give you new hearts, and enable you to put in practice
   what you have heard from time to time, to by your duty, and I need not
   wish you anything better. For then God will so bless you, that "you
   will build you cities to dwell in; then will you sow your lands and
   plant vineyards, which will yield you fruits of increase," Psalm
   107:37. "Then your oxen shall be strong to labor, there shall be no
   leading into captivity, and no complaining in your streets; then shall
   your sons grow up as the young plants, and your daughters be as the
   polished corners of the temple: then shall your garners be full and
   plenteous with all manner of store, and your sheep bring forth
   thousands, and ten thousands in your streets," Psalm 144 In short, then
   shall the Lord be your God; and as surely as he has now brought us to
   this haven, where we would be, so surely, after we have past through
   the storms and tempests of this troublesome world, will he bring us to
   the haven of eternal rest, where we shall have nothing to do, but to
   praise him for ever for his goodness, and declare, in never-ceasing
   songs of praise, the wonders he has done for us, and all the other sons
   of men.

   "To which blessed rest, God of his infinite mercy bring us all, through
   Jesus Christ our Lord! To whom with the Father and Holy Ghost be all
   honor and glory, might, majesty, and dominion, now, henceforth, and
   forevermore. Amen, Amen."
     __________________________________________________________________

                The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society

   Eccles. 4:9-12 -- "Two are better than one, because they have a good
   reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his
   fellow: but woe be to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath
   not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have
   heat; but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him,
   two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

   Among the many reasons assignable for the sad decay of true
   Christianity, perhaps the neglecting to assemble ourselves together, in
   religious societies, may not be one of the least. That I may therefore
   do my endeavor towards promoting so excellent a means of piety, I have
   selected a passage of scripture drawn from the experience of the wisest
   of men, which being a little enlarged on and illustrated, will fully
   answer my present design; being to show, in the best manner I can, the
   necessity and benefits of society in general, and of religious society
   in particular.

   "Two are better than one, &c."

   From which words I shall take occasion to prove,

   First, The truth of the wise man's assertion, "Two are better than
   one," and that in reference to society in general, and religious
   society in particular.

   Secondly, To assign some reasons why two are better than one,
   especially as to the last particular. 1. Because men can raise up one
   another when they chance to slip: "For if they fall, the one will lift
   up his fellow." 2. Because they can impart heat to each other: "Again,
   if two lie together, then they have heat, but how can one be warm
   alone?" 3. Because they can secure each other from those that do oppose
   them: "And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a
   threefold cord is not quickly broken." From hence,

   Thirdly, I shall take occasion to show the duty incumbent on every
   member of a religious society.

   And Fourthly, I shall draw an inference or two from what may be said;
   and then conclude with a word or two of exhortation.

   First, I am to prove the truth of the wise man's assertion, that "two
   are better than one," and that in reference to society in general, and
   religious societies in particular.

   And how can this be done better, than by showing that it is absolutely
   necessary for the welfare both of the bodies and souls of men? Indeed,
   if we look upon man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, we
   imagine him to be perfect, entire, lacking nothing. But God, whose
   thoughts are not as our thoughts, saw something still wanting to make
   Adam happy. And what was that? Why, and help meet for him. For thus
   speaketh the scripture: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the
   man should be alone, I will make an help meet for him."

   Observe, God said, "It is not good," thereby implying that the creation
   would have been imperfect, in some sort, unless an help was found out
   meet for Adam. And if this was the case of man before the fall; if an
   help was meet for him in a state of perfection; surely since the fall,
   when we come naked and helpless out of our mother's womb, when our
   wants increase with our years, and we can scarcely subsist a day
   without the mutual assistance of each other, well may we say, "It is
   not good for man to be alone."

   Society then, we see, is absolutely necessary in respect to our bodily
   and personal wants. If we carry our view farther, and consider mankind
   as divided into different cities, countries, and nations, the necessity
   of it will appear yet more evident. For how can communities be kept up,
   or commerce carried on, without society? Certainly not at all, since
   providence seems wisely to have assigned a particular product to almost
   each particular country, on purpose, as it were, to oblige us to be
   social; and hath so admirably mingled the parts of the whole body of
   mankind together, "that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need
   of thee; nor again, the hand to the foot, I have no need of thee."

   Many other instances might be given of the necessity of society, in
   reference to our bodily, personal, and national wants. But what are all
   these when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, in comparison of
   the infinite greater need of it, with respect to the soul? It was
   chiefly in regard to this better part, no doubt, that God said, "It is
   not good for the man to be alone." For, let us suppose Adam to be as
   happy as may be, placed as the Lord of the creation in the paradise of
   God, and spending all his hours in adoring and praising the blessed
   Author of his being; yet as his soul was the very copy of the divine
   nature, whose peculiar property it is to be communicative, without the
   divine all sufficiency he could not be completely happy, because he was
   alone and incommunicative, nor even content in paradise, for want of a
   partner in his joys. God knew this, and therefore said, "It is not good
   that the man shall be alone, I will make a help meet for him." And
   though this proved a fatal means of his falling; yet that was not owing
   to any natural consequence of society; but partly to that cursed
   apostate, who craftily lies in wait to deceive; partly to Adam's own
   folly, in rather choosing to be miserable with one he loved, than trust
   in God to raise him up another spouse.

   If we reflect indeed on that familiar intercourse, our first parent
   could carry on with heaven, in a state of innocence, we shall be apt to
   think he had as little need of society, as to his soul, as before we
   supposed him to have, in respect to his body. But yet, as God and the
   holy angels were so far above him on the one hand, and the beasts so
   far beneath him on the other, there was nothing like having one to
   converse with, who was "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh."

   Man, then, could not be fully happy, we see, even in paradise, without
   a companion of his own species, much less now he is driven out. For,
   let us view him a little in his natural estate now, since the fall, as
   "having his understanding darkened, his mind alienated from the life of
   God;" as no more able to see his way wherein he should go, than a blind
   man to describe the sun: that notwithstanding this, he must receive his
   sight ere he can see God: and that if he never sees him, he never can
   be happy. Let us view him in this light (or rather than darkness) and
   deny the necessity of society if we can. A divine revelation we find is
   absolutely necessary, we being by nature as unable to know, as we are
   to do our duty. And how shall we learn except one teach us? But was God
   to do this himself, how should we, but with Moses, exceedingly quake
   and fear? Nor would the ministry of angels in this affair, be without
   too much terror. It is necessary, therefore (at least God's dealing
   with us hath showed it to be so) that we should be drawn with the cords
   of a man. And that a divine revelation being granted, we should use one
   another's assistance, under God, to instruct each other in the
   knowledge, and to exhort one another to the practice of those things
   which belong to our everlasting peace. This is undoubtedly the great
   end of society intended by God since the fall, and a strong argument it
   is, why "two are better than one," and why we should "not forsake the
   assembling ourselves together."

   But further, let us consider ourselves as Christians, as having this
   natural veil, in some measure, taken off from our eyes by the
   assistance of God's Holy Spirit, and so enabled to see what he requires
   of us. Let us suppose ourselves in some degree to have tasted the good
   word of life, and to have felt the powers of the world to come,
   influencing and molding our souls into a religious frame: to be fully
   and heartily convinced that we are soldiers lifted under the banner of
   Christ, and to have proclaimed open war at our baptism, against the
   world, the flesh, and the devil; and have, perhaps, frequently renewed
   our obligations so to do, by partaking of the Lord's supper: that we
   are surrounded with millions of foes without, and infected with a
   legion of enemies within: that we are commanded to shine as lights in
   the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: that we
   are traveling to a long eternity, and need all imaginable helps to
   show, and encourage us in our way thither. Let us, I say, reflect on
   all this, and then how shall each of us cry out, brethren, what a
   necessary thing it is to meet together in religious societies?

   The primitive Christians were fully sensible of this, and therefore we
   find them continually keeping up communion with each other: for what
   says the scripture? They continued steadfastly in the apostle's
   doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2:42. Peter and John were no sooner
   dismissed by the great council, than they haste away to their
   companions. "And being set at liberty they came to their own, and told
   them all these things which the high priest had said unto them," Acts
   4:23. Paul, as soon as converted, "tarried three days with the
   disciples that were at Damascus." Acts 9:19. And Peter afterwards, when
   released from prison, immediately goes to the house of Mary, where
   there were "great multitudes assembled, praying," Acts 12:12. And it is
   reported of the Christians in after ages, that they used to assemble
   together before day-light, to sing a psalm to Christ as God. So
   precious was the Communion of Saints in those days.

   If it be asked, what advantages we shall reap from such a procedure
   now? I answer, much every way. "Two are better than one, because they
   have a good reward for their labor: for if they fall, the one will lift
   up his fellow; but woe be to him that is alone when he falleth, for he
   hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they
   have heat; but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against
   him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly
   broken."

   Which directly leads me to my Second general head, under which I was to
   assign some reasons why "two are better than one," especially in
   Religious Society.

   1. As man in his present condition cannot always stand upright, but by
   reason of the frailty of his nature cannot but fall; one eminent reason
   why two are better than one, or, in other words, one great advantage of
   religious society is, "That when they fall, the one will lift up his
   fellow."

   And an excellent reason this, indeed! For alas! When we reflect how
   prone we are to be drawn into error in our judgments, and into vice in
   our practice; and how unable, at least how very unwilling, to espy or
   correct our own miscarriages; when we consider how apt the world is to
   flatter us in our faults, and how few there are so kind as to tell us
   the truth; what an inestimable privilege must it be to have a set of
   true, judicious, hearty friends about us, continually watching over our
   souls, to inform us where we have fallen, and to warn us that we fall
   not again for the future. Surely it is such a privilege, that (to use
   the words of an eminent Christian) we shall never know the value
   thereof, till we come to glory.

   But this is not all; for supposing that we could always stand upright,
   yet whosoever reflects on the difficulties of religion in general, and
   his own propensity to lukewarmness and indifference in particular, will
   find that he must be zealous as well as steady, if ever he expects to
   enter the kingdom of heaven. Here, then, the wise man points out to us
   another excellent reason why two are better than one. "Again, if two
   lie together, then they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?"
   Which was the next thing to be considered.

   2. A Second reason why two are better than one, is because they can
   impart heat to each other.

   It is an observation no less true than common, that kindled coals, if
   placed asunder, soon go out, but if heaped together, quicken and
   enliven each other, and afford a lasting heat. The same will hold good
   in the case now before us. If Christians kindled by the grace of God,
   unite, they will quicken and enliven each other; but if they separate
   and keep asunder, no marvel if they soon grow cool or tepid. If two are
   three meet together in Christ's name, they will have heat: but how can
   one be warm alone?

   Observe, "How can one be warm alone?" The wise man's expressing himself
   by way of question, implies an impossibility, at least a very great
   difficulty, to be warm in religion without company, where it may be
   had. Behold here, then, another excellent benefit flowing from
   religious society; it will keep us zealous, as well as steady, in the
   way of godliness.

   But to illustrate this a little farther by a comparison or two. Let us
   look upon ourselves (as was above hinted) as soldiers listed under
   Christ's banner; as going out with "ten thousand, to meet one that
   cometh against us with twenty thousand;" as persons that are to
   "wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but against principalities,
   against powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places." And then
   tell me, all ye that fear God, if it be not an invaluable privilege to
   have a company of fellow soldiers continually about us, animating and
   exhorting each other to stand our ground, to keep our ranks, and
   manfully to follow the captain of our salvation, though it be through a
   sea of blood?

   Let us consider ourselves in another view before mentioned, as persons
   traveling to a long eternity; as rescued by the free grace of God, in
   some measure, from our natural Egyptian bondage, and marching under the
   conduct of our spiritual Joshua, through the wilderness of this world,
   to the land of our heavenly Canaan. Let us farther reflect how apt we
   are to startle at every difficulty; to cry, "There are lions! There are
   lions in the way! There are the sons of Anak" to be grappled with, ere
   we can possess the promised land. How prone we are, with Lot's wife, to
   look wishfully back on our spiritual Sodom, or, with the foolish
   Israelites, to long again for the flesh-pots of Egypt; and to return to
   our former natural state of bondage and slavery. Consider this, my
   brethren, and see what a blessed privilege it will be to have a set of
   Israelites indeed about us, always reminding us of the folly of any
   such cowardly design, and of the intolerable misery we shall run into,
   if we fall in the least short of the promised land.

   More might be said on this particular, did not the limits of a
   discourse of this nature oblige me to hasten,

   3. To give a third reason, mentioned by the wise man in the text, why
   two are better than one; because they can secure each other from
   enemies without. "And if one prevail against him, yet two shall
   withstand him: and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

   Hitherto we have considered the advantages of religious societies, as a
   great preservative against falling (at least dangerously falling) into
   sin and lukewarmness, and that too from our own corruptions. But what
   says the wise son of Sirach? "My son, when thou goest to serve the
   Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation:" and that not only from inward,
   but outward foes; particularly from those two grand adversaries, the
   world and the devil: for no sooner will thine eye be bent heavenward,
   but the former will be immediately diverting it another way, telling
   thee thou needest not be singular in order to be religious; that you
   may be a Christian without going so much out of the common road.

   Nor will the devil be wanting in his artful insinuations, or impious
   suggestions, to divert or terrify thee from pressing forwards, "that
   thou mayst lay hold on the crown of life." And if he cannot prevail
   this way, he will try another; and, in order to make his temptation the
   more undiscerned, but withal more successful, he will employ, perhaps,
   some of thy nearest relatives, or most powerful friends, (as he set
   Peter on our blessed Master) who will always be bidding thee to spare
   thyself; telling thee thou needest not take so much pain; that it is
   not so difficult a matter to get to heaven as some people would make of
   it, nor the way so narrow as others imagine it to be.

   But see here the advantage of religious company; for supposing thou
   findest thyself thus surrounded on every side, and unable to withstand
   such horrid (though seemingly friendly) counsels, haste away to thy
   companions, and they will teach thee a truer and better lesson; they
   will tell thee, that thou must be singular if thou wilt be religious;
   and that it is as impossible for a Christian, as for a city set upon a
   hill, to be hidden: that if thou wilt be an almost Christian (and as
   good be none at all) thou mayest live in the same idle, indifferent
   manner as thou seest most other people do: but if thou wilt be not only
   almost, but altogether a Christian, they will inform thee thou must go
   a great deal farther: that thou must not only faintly seek, but
   "earnestly strive to enter in at the strait gate:" that there is but
   one way now to heaven as formerly, even through the narrow passage of a
   sound conversion: and that in order to bring about this mighty work,
   thou must undergo a constant, but necessary discipline of fasting,
   watching, and prayer. And therefore, the only reason why those friends
   give thee such advice, is, because they are not willing to take to much
   pains themselves; or, as our Savior told Peter on a like occasion,
   because they "savor not the things that be of God, but the things that
   be of men."

   This then, is another excellent blessing arising from religious
   society, that friends can hereby secure each other from those who
   oppose them. The devil is fully sensible of this, and therefore he has
   always done his utmost to suppress, and put a stop to the communion of
   saints. This was his grand artifice at the first planting of the
   gospel; to persecute the professors of it, in order to separate them.
   Which, though God, as he always will, over-ruled for the better; yet,
   it shows, what an enmity he has against Christians assembling
   themselves together. Nor has he yet left off his old stratagem; it
   being his usual way to entice us by ourselves, in order to tempt us;
   where, by being destitute of one another's help, he hopes to lead us
   captive at his will.

   But, on the contrary, knowing his own interest is strengthened by
   society, he would first persuade us to neglect the communion of saints,
   and then bid us "stand in the way of sinners," hoping thereby to put us
   into the seat of the scornful. Judas and Peter are melancholy instances
   of this. The former had no sooner left his company at supper, but he
   went out and betrayed his master: and the dismal downfall of the
   latter, when he would venture himself amongst a company of enemies,
   plainly shows us what the devil will endeavor to, when he gets us by
   ourselves. Had Peter kept his own company, he might have kept his
   integrity; but a single cord, alas! how quickly was it broken? Our
   blessed Savior knew this full well, and therefore it is very
   observable, that he always sent out his disciples "two by two."

   And now, after so many advantages to be reaped from religious society,
   may we not very justly cry out with the wise man in my text, "Woe be to
   him that is alone; for when he falleth, he hath not another to lift him
   up!" When he is cold, he hath not a friend to warm him; when he is
   assaulted, he hath not a second to help him to withstand his enemy.

   III. I now come to my third general head, under which was to be shown
   the sever duties incumbent on every member of a religious society, as
   such, which are three. 1. Mutual reproof; 2. Mutual exhortation; 3.
   Mutual assisting and defending each other.

   1. Mutual reproof. "Two are better than one; for when they fall, the
   one will lift up his fellow."

   Now, reproof may be taken either in a more extensive sense, and then it
   signifies our raising a brother by the gentlest means, when he falls
   into sin and error; or in a more restrained signification, as reaching
   no farther than whose miscarriages, which unavoidably happen in the
   most holy men living.

   The wise man, in the text supposes all of us subject to both: "For when
   they fall (thereby implying that each of us may fall) the one will lift
   up his fellow." From whence we may infer, that "when any brother is
   overtaken with a fault, he that is spiritual (that is, regenerate, and
   knows the corruption and weakness of human nature) ought to restore
   such a one in the spirit of meekness." And why he should do so, the
   apostle subjoins a reason "considering thyself, lest thou also be
   tempted;" i.e. considering thy own frailty, lest thou also fall by the
   like temptation.

   We are all frail unstable creatures; and it is merely owing to the free
   grace and good providence of God that we run not into the same excess
   of riot with other men. Every offending brother, therefore, claims our
   pity rather than our resentment; and each member should strive to be
   the most forward, as well as most gentle, in restoring him to his
   former state.

   But supposing a person not to be overtaken, but to fall willfully into
   a crime; yet who art thou that deniest forgiveness to thy offending
   brother? "Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall." Take ye,
   brethren, the holy apostles as eminent examples for you to learn by,
   how you ought to behave in this matter. Consider how quickly they
   joined the right hand of fellowship with Peter, who had so willfully
   denied his master: for we find John and him together but two days
   after, John 20:2. And ver. 19, we find him assembled with the rest. So
   soon did they forgive, so soon associate with their sinful, yet
   relenting brother. "Let us go and do likewise."

   But there is another kind of reproof incumbent on every member of a
   religious society; namely, a gentle rebuke for some miscarriage or
   other, which though not actually sinful, yet may become the occasion of
   sin. This indeed seems a more easy, but perhaps will be found a more
   difficult point than the former: for when a person has really sinned,
   he cannot but own his brethren's reproof to be just; whereas, when it
   was only for some little misconduct, the pride that is in our natures
   will scarce suffer us to brook (endure, tolerate) it. But however
   ungrateful this pill may be to our brother, yet if we have any concern
   for his welfare, it must be administered by some friendly hand or
   other. By all means then let it be applied; only, like a skillful
   physician, gild over the ungrateful pill, and endeavor, if possible, to
   deceive thy brother into health and soundness. "Let all bitterness, and
   wrath, and malice, and evil speaking, be put away" from it. Let the
   patient know, his recovery is the only thing aimed at, and that thou
   delightest not causelessly to grieve thy brother; then thou canst not
   want success.

   2. Mutual exhortation is the second duty resulting from the words of
   the text. "Again, if two lie together, then they have heat."

   Observe, the wise man supposes it as impossible for religious persons
   to meet together, and not to be the warmer for each other's company, as
   for two persons to lie in the same bed, and yet freeze with cold. But
   now, how is it possible to communicate heat to each other, without
   mutually stirring up the gift of God which is in us, by brotherly
   exhortation? Let every member then of a religious society write that
   zealous apostle's advice on the tables of his heart; "See that ye
   exhort, and provoke one another to love, and to good works; and so much
   the more, as you see the day of the Lord approaching." Believe me,
   brethren, we have need of exhortation to rouse up our sleepy souls, to
   set us upon our watch against the temptations of the world, the flesh,
   and the devil; to excite us to renounce ourselves, to take up our
   crosses, and follow our blessed master, and the glorious company of
   saints and martyrs, "who through faith have fought the good fight, and
   are gone before us to inherit the promises." A third part, therefore,
   of the time wherein a religious society meets, seems necessary to be
   spent in this important duty: for what avails it to have our
   understandings enlightened by pious reading, unless our wills are at
   the same time inclined, and inflamed by mutual exhortation, to put it
   in practice? Add also, that this is the best way both to receive and
   impart light, and the only means to preserve and increase that warmth
   and heat which each person first brought with him; God so ordering
   this, as all other spiritual gifts, that "to him that hath, i.e.
   improves and communicates what he hath, shall be given; but from him
   that hath not, or does not improve the heat he hath, shall be taken
   away even that which he seemed to have." So needful, so essentially
   necessary, is exhortation to the good of society.

   3. Thirdly, The text points out another duty incumbent on every member
   of a religious society, to defend each other from those that do oppose
   them. "And if one prevail against him, yet two shall withstand him; and
   a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

   Here the wise man takes it for granted, that offenses will come, nay ,
   and that they may prevail too. And this is not more than our blessed
   master has long since told us. Not, indeed, that there is any thing in
   Christianity itself that has the least tendency to give rise to, or
   promote such offenses: No, on the contrary, it breathes nothing but
   unity and love.

   But so it is, that ever since the fatal sentence pronounced by God,
   after our first parents fall, "I will put enmity between thy seed and
   her seed;" he that is born after the flesh, the unregenerate
   unconverted sinner, has in all ages "persecuted him that is born after
   the spirit:" and so it always will be. Accordingly we find an early
   proof given of this in the instance of Cain and Abel; of Ishmael and
   Isaac; and of Jacob and Esau. And, indeed, the whole Bible contains
   little else but an history of the great and continued opposition
   between the children of this world, and the children of God. The first
   Christians were remarkable examples of this; and though those
   troublesome time, blessed be God, are now over, yet the apostle has
   laid it down as a general rule, and all who are sincere experimentally
   prove the truth of it; that "they that will live godly in Christ Jesus,
   must (to the end of the world, in some degree or other) suffer
   persecution." That therefore this may not make us desert our blessed
   master's cause, every member should unite their forces in order to
   stand against it. And for the better effecting this, each would do
   well, from time to time, to communicate his experiences, grievances,
   and temptations, and beg his companions (first asking God's assistance,
   without which all is nothing) to administer reproof, exhortation, or
   comfort, as his case requires: so that "if one cannot prevail against
   it, yet two shall withstand it; and a threefold (much less a many-fold)
   cord will not be quickly broken."

   IV. But it is time for me to proceed to the fourth general thing
   proposed, to draw an inference or two from what has been said.

   1. And first, if "two are better than one," and the advantages of
   religious society are so many and so great; then it is the duty of
   every true Christian to set on foot, establish and promote, as much as
   in him lies, societies of this nature. And I believe we may venture to
   affirm, that if ever a spirit of true Christianity is revived in the
   world, it must be brought about by some such means as this. Motive,
   surely, cannot be wanting, to stir us up to the commendable and
   necessary undertaking: for, granting all hitherto advanced to be of no
   force, yet methinks the single consideration, that great part of our
   happiness in heaven will consist in the Communion of Saints; or that
   the interest as well as piety of those who differ from us, is
   strengthened and supported by nothing more than their frequent
   meetings; either of these considerations, I say, one would think,
   should induce us to do our utmost to copy after their good example, and
   settle a lasting and pious communion of the saints on earth. Add to
   this, that we find the kingdom of darkness established daily by such
   like means; and shall not the kingdom of Christ be set in opposition
   against it? Shall the children of Belial assemble and strengthen each
   other in wickedness; and shall not the children of God unite, and
   strengthen themselves in piety? Shall societies on societies be
   countenanced for midnight revelings, and the promoting of vice, and
   scarcely one be found intended for the propagation of virtue? Be
   astonished, O heavens at this!

   2. But this leads me to a second inference; namely, to warn persons of
   the great danger those are in, who either by their subscriptions,
   presence, or approbation, promote societies of a quite opposite nature
   to religion.

   And here I would not be understood, to mean only those public meetings
   which are designed manifestly for nothing else but revellings and
   banquetings, for chambering and wantonness, and at which a modest
   heathen would blush to be present; but also those seemingly innocent
   entertainments and meetings, which the politer part of the world are so
   very fond of, and spend so much time in: but which, notwithstanding,
   keep as many persons from a sense of true religion, as doth
   intemperance, debauchery, or any other crimes whatever. Indeed, whilst
   we are in this world, we must have proper relaxations, to fit us both
   for the business of our profession, and religion. But then, for persons
   who call themselves Christians, that have solemnly vowed at their
   baptism, to renounce the vanities of this sinful world; that are
   commanded in scripture "to abstain from all appearance of evil, and to
   have their conversation in heaven:" for such persons as these to
   support meetings, which (to say no worse of them) are vain and
   trifling, and have a natural tendency to draw off our minds from God,
   is absurd, ridiculous, and sinful. Surely two are not better than one
   in this case: No; it is to be wished there was not one to be found
   concerned in it. The sooner we forsake the assembling ourselves
   together in such a manner, the better; and no matte how quickly the
   cord that hold such societies (was it a thousand-fold) is broken.

   But you, brethren, have not so learned Christ: but, on the contrary,
   like true disciples of your Lord and Master, have by the blessing of
   God (as this evening's solemnity abundantly testifies) happily formed
   yourselves into such societies, which, if duly attended on, and
   improved, cannot but strengthen you in your Christian warfare, and
   "make you fruitful in every good word and work."

   What remains for me, but, as was proposed, in the first place, to close
   what has been said, in a word or two, by way of exhortation, and to
   beseech you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to go on in the way
   you have begun; and by a constant conscientious attendance on your
   respective societies, to discountenance vice, encourage virtue, and
   build each other up in the knowledge and fear of God.

   Only permit me to "stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance," and
   to exhort you, "if there be any consolation in Christ, any fellowship
   of the spirit," again and again to consider, that as all Christians in
   general, so all members of religious societies in particular, are in an
   especial manner, as houses built upon an hill; and that therefore it
   highly concerns you to walk circumspectly towards those that are
   without, and to take heed to yourselves, that your conversation, in
   common life, be as becometh such an open and peculiar profession of the
   gospel of Christ: knowing that the eyes of all men are upon you,
   narrowly to inspect every circumstance of your behavior: and that every
   notorious willful miscarriage of any single member will, in some
   measure, redound to the scandal and dishonor of your whole fraternity.

   Labor, therefore, my beloved brethren, to let your practice correspond
   to your profession: and think not that it will be sufficient for you to
   plead at the last day, Lord have we not assembled ourselves together in
   thy name, and enlivened each other, by singing psalms, and hymns, and
   spiritual songs? For verily, I say unto you, notwithstanding this, our
   blessed Lord will bid you depart from him; nay, you shall receive a
   great damnation, if, in the mists of these great pretensions, you are
   found to be workers of iniquity.

   But God forbid that any such evil should befall you; that there should
   be ever a Judas, a traitor, amongst such distinguished followers of our
   common master. No, on the contrary, the excellency of your rule, the
   regularity of your meetings, and more especially your pious zeal in
   assembling in such a public and solemn manner so frequently in the
   year, persuade me to think, that you are willing, not barely to seem,
   but to be in reality, Christians; and hope to be found at the last day,
   what you would be esteemed now, holy, sincere disciples of a crucified
   Redeemer.

   Oh, may you always continue thus minded! And make it your daily,
   constant endeavor, both by precept and example, to turn all your
   converse with, more especially those of your own societies, into the
   same most blessed spirit and temper. Thus will you adorn the gospel of
   our Lord Jesus Christ in all things: Thus will you anticipate the
   happiness of a future state; and by attending on, and improving the
   communion of stints on earth, be made meet to join the communion and
   fellowship of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the holy angels,
   nay, of the ever blessed and eternal God in heaven.

   Which God of his infinite mercy grant through Jesus Christ our Lord; to
   whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be
   ascribed, as is most due, all honor and praise, might, majesty and
   dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

               The Folly and Danger of Being Not Righteous Enough

   Ecclesiastes 7:16 -- "Be not righteous overmuch, neither make thyself
   over- wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?"

   Nothing is more frequent, than while people are living in a course of
   sin, and after the fashion and manner of the world, there is not notice
   taken of them; neither are their ways displeasing to their companions
   and carnal relations: but if they set their faces Zion-ward, and begin
   to feel the power of God on their hearts; they then are surrounded with
   temptations from their friends, who thus act the devil's part. The
   enemies, the greatest enemies a young convert meets with, my dear
   brethren, are those of his own house. They that will be godly, must
   suffer persecution; so it was in Christ'' time, and so it was in the
   Apostles time too; for our Lord came not to send peace, but a sword.
   Our relations would not have us sit in the scorner's chair; they would
   not have us be prodigals, consuming our substance upon harlots; neither
   would they have us rakes (a dissolute [loose in morals or conduct]
   person) or libertines, but they would have us be contented with an
   almost Christianity. To keep up our reputation by going to church, and
   adhering to the outward forms of religion, saying our prayers, reading
   the word of God, and taking the sacraments; this, they imagine, is all
   that is necessary for to be Christians indeed; and when we go one step
   farther than this, their mouths are open against us, as Peter's was to
   Christ: "Spare thyself, do thyself no harm."

   And of this nature are the words of the text. They are not the words of
   Solomon himself, but the words of an infidel speaking to him, whom he
   introduces in several parts of this book; for Solomon had been showing
   the misfortunes which attended the truly good, as in the verse before
   our text.

   Upon this the infidel says, "Be not righteous over-much, neither be
   thou over-wise; why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" i.e. Why shouldst
   thou bring these misfortunes upon thyself, by being over strict? Be not
   righteous over-much; eat, drink, and be merry, live as the world lives,
   and then you will avoid those misfortunes which may attend you, by
   being righteous over-much.

   This text has another meaning; but take it which way you will, by
   brethren, it was spoken by an unbeliever; therefore it was no credit
   for the person who lately preached upon this text, to take it for
   granted, that these were the words of Solomon: the words of an infidel
   was not a proper text to a Christian congregation. But as David came
   out against Goliath, not armed as the champion was, with sword and
   spear, but with a sling and stone, and then cut off his head with his
   own sword; so I come out against these letter-learned men, in the
   strength of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, my dear brethren, I trust he
   will direct me to use my sling, so that our enemies may not gainsay us;
   and by the sword of God's word, cut off the heads of our Redeemer's
   enemies.

   But though they are not the words of Solomon, yet we will take them in
   the same manner the late writer did; and, from the words, shall,

   First, Show you what it is, not to be righteous over-much, that we may
   not destroy ourselves.

   Secondly, I shall let you see what it is to be righteous over-much. And
   then,

   Thirdly, Conclude with an exhortation to all of you, high and low, rich
   and poor, one with another, to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

   First, The first thing proposed, is to show you what it is not to be
   righteous over-much. And here,

   It is by no means to be righteous over-much, to affirm we must have the
   same Spirit of God as the first Apostles had, and must feel that Spirit
   upon our hearts.

   By receiving the Spirit of God, is not to be understood, that we are to
   be inspired to show outward signs and wonders, to raise dead bodies, to
   cure leprous persons, or to give sight to the blind: these miracles
   were only of use in the first ages of the church; and therefore
   Christians (nominal Christians, for we have little else but the name)
   may have all the gifts of the Spirit, and yet none of the graces of it.
   Thou, O man, mayest be enabled by faith to remove mountains; thou, by
   the power of God, mayest cast out devils; thou, by that power, mayest
   speak with the tongues of men and angels; yes, thou mayest, by that
   power, hold up thy finger and stop the sun in the firmament; and if all
   these are unsanctified by the Spirit of God, they would be of no
   service to thee, but would hurry thee to hell with the greater
   solemnity. Saul received the spirit of prophesying, and had another
   heart, yet Saul was probably a cast-away. We must receive the Spirit of
   God in its sanctifying graces upon our souls; for Christ says, "Unless
   a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." We are all by
   nature born in sin, and at as great a distance from God, as the devils
   themselves. I have told you often, and now tell you again, that you are
   by nature a motley mixture of the beast and devil, and we cannot
   recover ourselves from the state wherein we have fallen, therefore must
   be renewed by the Holy Ghost. By the Holy Ghost, I mean, the third
   Person of the ever blessed Trinity, co-equal, co-essential, co-eternal,
   and consubstantial with the Father and the Son; and therefore, when we
   are baptized, it is into the nature of the Father, into the nature of
   the Son, and into the nature of the Holy Ghost: and we are not true
   Christians, till we are sanctified by the Spirit of God.

   Though our modern preachers do not actually deny the Spirit of God, yet
   they say, "Christians must not feel him;" which is in effect to deny
   him. When Nicodemus came to Christ, and the Lord Jesus was instructing
   him, concerning the new birth, says he to our Lord, "How can these
   things be?" Nicodemus, though a master of Israel, acts just as our
   learned Rabbi's do now. The answer that Christ gave him should stop the
   mouths of our letter- learned Pharisees: "The wind bloweth where it
   listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it
   cometh, nor whither it goeth." Now till the Spirit of God is felt on
   our souls as the wind on our bodies, indeed, my dear brethren, you have
   no interest in him: religion consists not in external performance, it
   must be in the heart, or else it is only a name, which cannot profit
   us, a name to live whilst we are dead.

   A late preacher upon this text, seems to laugh at us, for talking of
   the Spirit in a sensible manner, and talks to us as the Jews did to
   Christ: They said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So he
   asks, "What sign or proof do we give of it?" We do not imagine, that
   God must appear to us, and give it us: no; but there may be, and is, a
   frequent receiving, when no seeing of it; and it is as plainly felt in
   the soul, as any impression is, or can be, upon the body. To what a
   damnable condition should we bring poor sinners, if they could not be
   sensible of the Spirit of God; namely, a reprobate mind and past
   feeling?

   "What proof do they give?" says the writer. What sign would they have?
   Do they expect us to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to
   cure lepers, to make the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear? If these
   are what they expect, I speak with humility, God, by us, hath done
   greater things than these: many, who were dead in sin, are raised to
   scripture-life: those, who were leprous by nature, are cleansed by the
   Spirit of God; those, who were lame in duty, not run in God's commands;
   those, who were deaf, their ears are unstopped to hear his discipline,
   and hearken to his advice; and the poor have the gospel preached to
   them. No wonder people talk at this rate, when they can tell us, "That
   the Spirit of God, is a good conscience, consequent thereupon." My dear
   brethren, Seneca, Cicera, Plato, or any of the heathen philosophers,
   would have given as good a definition as this. It means no more, than
   reflecting that we have done well. This, this is only Deism refined:
   Deists laugh at us, when we pretend to be against notions, and yet
   these men use no other reason for our differing from them, than what is
   agreeable to Deists principles.

   This writer tell us, "It is against common-sense to talk of the feeling
   of the Spirit of God." Common-sense, my brethren, was never allowed to
   be a judge; yea, it is above its comprehension, neither are, nor can
   the ways of God be known by common-sense. We should never have known
   the things of God at all by our common sense: no; it is the revelation
   of God which is to be our judge; it is that we appeal to, and not to
   our weak and shallow conceptions of things. Thus we may see, it is by
   no means to be righteous over-much, to affirm we must have the Spirit
   of God as the Apostles had. Nor,

   Secondly, Is it to be righteous over-much to frequent religious
   assemblies.

   The preacher, upon this text, aims at putting aside all the religious
   societies that are in the kingdom: Indeed, he says, "You may go to
   church as often as opportunity serves, and on Sundays; say your
   prayers, read the word of God; and, in his opinion, every thing else
   had better be let alone: and as for the Spirit of God upon your souls,
   you are to look upon it as useless and unnecessary." If this, my
   brethren, is the doctrine we have now preached, Christianity is at a
   low ebb indeed; but God forbid you should thus learn Jesus Christ. Do
   you not forbear the frequenting of religious assemblies; for as nothing
   helps to build up the devil's kingdom more than the societies of wicked
   men, nothing would be more for pulling of it down, than the people of
   God meeting to strengthen each others hands; and as the devil has so
   many friends, will none of you be friends to the blessed Jesus? Yes, I
   hope many of you will be of the Lord's side, and build each other up in
   Christian love and fellowship. This is what the primitive Christians
   delighted in; and shall not we follow so excellent an example? My
   brethren, till Christian conversation is more agreeable to us, we
   cannot expect to see the gospel of Christ run and be glorified. Thus it
   is by no means to be righteous over-much, to frequent religious
   assemblies. Nor,

   Thirdly, Is it to be righteous over-much, to abstain from the
   diversions and entertainments of the age.

   We are commanded to "abstain from the appearance of evil," and that
   "whatsoever we do, whether we eat or drink, we shall do all to the
   glory of God." The writer upon this text tells us, "That it will be
   accounted unlawful to smell to a rose:" no, my dear brethren, you man
   smell to a pink and rose too if you please, but take care to avoid the
   appearance of sin. They talk of innocent diversions and recreations;
   for my part, I know of no diversion, but that of doing good: if you can
   find any diversion which is not contrary to your baptismal vow, of
   renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world; if you can find
   any diversion which tends to the glory of God; if you can find any
   diversion, which you would be willing to be found at by the Lord Jesus
   Christ, I give you free license to go to them and welcome; but if, on
   the contrary, they are found to keep sinners from coming to the Lord
   Jesus Christ; if they are a means to harden the heart, and such as you
   would not willingly be found in when you come to die, then, my dear
   brethren, keep from them: for, indeed, the diversions of this age are
   contrary to Christianity. Many of you may think I have gone too far,
   but I shall go a great deal farther yet: I will attack the devil in his
   strongest holds, and bear my testimony against our fashionable and
   polite entertainments. What satisfaction can it be, what pleasure is
   there in spending several hours at cards? Strange! That even people who
   are grown old, can spend whole nights in this diversion: perhaps many
   of you will cry out, "What harm is there in it?" My dear brethren,
   whatsoever is not of faith, or for the glory of God, is a sin. Now does
   cards tend to promote this? Is it not mispending your precious time,
   which should be employed in working out your salvation with fear and
   trembling? Do play-houses, horse- racing, balls and assemblies, tend to
   promote the glory of God? Would you be willing to have your soul
   demanded of you, while you are at one of those places? Many of these
   are, (I must speak, I cannot forbear to speak against these
   entertainments; come what will, I will declare against them) many, I
   say, of these are kept up by public authority; the play-houses are
   supported by a public fund, and our newspapers are full of horse-races
   all through the kingdom: these things are sinful; indeed they are
   exceeding sinful. What good can come from a horse-race; from abusing
   God Almighty's creatures, and putting them to that use he never
   designed for them: the play-houses, are they not nurseries of
   debauchery in the age? And the supporters and patrons of them, are
   encouragers and promoters of all the evil that is done by them; they
   are the bane of the age, and will be the destruction of those who
   frequent them. Is it not high time for the true ministers of Jesus
   Christ, who have been partakers of the heavenly gift, to lift up their
   voices as a trumpet, and cry aloud against these diversions of the age?
   Are they not earthly, sensual, devilish? If you have tasted of the love
   of God, and have felt his power upon your souls, you would no more go
   to a play, than you would run your head into a furnace.

   And what occasions these place to be so much frequented, is the
   clergy's making no scruple to be at these polite places: they frequent
   play-houses, they go to horse-races, they go to balls and assemblies,
   they frequent taverns, and follow all the entertainments that the age
   affords; and yet these are the persons who should advise their hearers
   to refrain from them; but instead thereof, they encourage them by their
   example. Persons are too apt to rely upon, and believe their pastors,
   rather than the scriptures; they think that there is no crime in going
   to plays or horse-races, to balls and assemblies; for if there were,
   they think those persons, who are their ministers, would not frequent
   them: but, my dear brethren, observe they always go disguised, the
   ministers are afraid of being seen in their gowns and cassocks; the
   reason thereof is plain, their consciences inform them, that it is not
   an example fit for the ministers of the gospel to set; thus, they are
   the means of giving that offense to the people of God, which I would
   not for ten thousand worlds: they lay a stumbling-block in the way of
   their weak brethren, which they will not remove, though it is a
   stumbling-block of offense. "Woe unto the world because of offenses,
   but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh." The polite gentlemen
   of the age, spend their time in following those diversions, because the
   love of God is not in their hearts; they are void of Christ, and
   destitute of the Spirit of God; and not being acquainted with the
   delight there is in God and his ways, being strangers to these things,
   they run to the devil for diversions, and are pleased and delighted
   with the silly ones he shows them.

   My dear brethren, I speak of these things, these innocent diversions,
   as the polite part of the world calls them, by experience; perhaps
   none, for my age, hath read or seen more plays than I have: I took
   delight in, and was pleased with them. It is true, I went to church
   frequently, received the sacrament, and was diligent in the use of the
   forms of religion, but I was all this while ignorant of the power of
   God on my heart, and unacquainted with the work of grace; but when God
   was pleased to shine with power upon my soul, I could no longer be
   contented to feed on husks, or what the swine die eat; the Bible then
   was my food; there, and there only I took delight: and till you feel
   this same power, you will not abstain from the earthly delights of this
   age, you will take no comfort in God's ways, nor receive any comfort
   from him; for you are void of the love of God, having only the form of
   godliness, while you are denying the power of it; you are nominal
   Christians, when you have not the power of Christianity.

   The polite gentlemen say, "Are we to be always upon our knees? Would
   you have us be always at prayer, and reading or hearing the word of
   God?"

   My dear brethren, the fashionable ones, who take delight in hunting,
   are not tired of being continually on horseback after their hounds; and
   when once you are renewed by the Spirit of God, it will be a continua
   pleasure to be walking with, and talking of God, and telling what great
   things Jesus Christ hath done for your souls; and till you can find as
   much pleasure in conversing with God, as these men do of their hounds,
   you have no share in him; but when you have tasted how good the Lord
   is, you will show forth his praise; out of the abundance of your heart
   your mouth will speak.

   This brings me to the second thing proposed, which is an extreme that
   very seldom happens:

   Secondly, To show what it is to be righteous over-much, And here,

   First, When we confine the Spirit of God to this or that particular
   church; and are not willing to converse with any but those of the same
   communion; this is to be righteous over-much with a witness: and so it
   is, to confine our communion within church-walls, and to think that
   Jesus could not preach in a field as well as on consecrated ground;
   this is judaism, this is bigotry: this is like Peter, who would not go
   to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, till he had a vision from God:
   and when his conduct was blamed by the disciples, he could not satisfy
   them till he had acquainted them with the vision he had seen. And,
   therefore, we may justly infer, the Spirit of God is the center of
   unity; and wherever I see the image of my Master, I never inquire of
   them their opinions; I ask them not what they are, so they love Jesus
   Christ in sincerity and truth, but embrace them as my brother, my
   sister, and my spouse: and this is the spirit of Christianity. Many
   persons, who are bigots to this or that opinion, when one of a
   different way of thinking hath come where they were, have left the room
   or place on the account: this is the spirit of the devil; and if it was
   possible that these persons could be admitted into heaven with such
   tempers, that very place would be hell to them. Christianity will never
   flourish, till we are all of one heart and of one mind; and this would
   be the only means of seeing the gospel of Jesus to flourish, more than
   ever it will by persecuting those who differ from us.

   This may be esteemed as enthusiasm and madness, and as a design to
   undermine the established church: No; God is my judge, I should rejoice
   to see all the world adhere to her articles; I should rejoice to see
   the ministers of the Church of England, preach up those very articles
   they have subscribed to; but those ministers who do preach up the
   articles, are esteemed as madmen, enthusiasts, schismatics, and
   underminers of the established church: and though they say these things
   of me, blessed be God, they are without foundation. My dear brethren, I
   am a friend to her articles, I am a friend to her homilies, I am a
   friend to her liturgy; and, if they did not thrust me out of their
   churches, I would read them every day; but I do not confine the Spirit
   of God there; for I say it again, I love all that love the Lord Jesus
   Christ, and esteem him my brother, my friend, my spouse; aye, my very
   soul is knit to that person. The spirit of persecution will never,
   indeed it will never make any to love Jesus Christ. The Pharisees make
   this to be madness, so much as to mention persecution in a Christian
   country; but there is as much of the spirit of persecution now in the
   world, as ever there was; their will is as great, but blessed be God,
   they want the power; otherwise, how soon would the send me to prison,
   make my feet fast in the stocks, yea, would think they did God service
   in killing me, and would rejoice to take away my life.

   This is not the Spirit of Christ, my dear brethren; I had not come to
   have thus preached; I had not come into the highways and hedges; I had
   not exposed myself to the ill treatment of these letter-learned men,
   but for the sake of your souls: indeed, I had no other reason, but your
   salvation; and for that (I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not) I
   would be content to go to prison; yea, I would rejoice to die for you,
   so I could but be a means to bring some of you to Jesus: I could not
   bear to see so many in the highway to destruction, and not show them
   their danger: I could not bear, my brethren, to see you more willing to
   learn, than the teachers are to instruct you: and if any of them were
   to come and preach to you, I should not envy them, I should not call
   them enthusiasts or madmen; I should rejoice to hear they had ten
   thousand times more success than I have met with; I would give them the
   right hand of fellowship; I would advise them to go on; I would wish
   them good luck in the name of the Lord, and say as Christ did, when the
   disciples informed him of some casting out devils in his name, and were
   for rebuking of them, "Forbid them not, for they that are not against
   us are for us;" or as St. Paul says, "Some preach Christ of envy, and
   some of good-will; notwithstanding, so Christ is but preached, I
   rejoice; yea, and will rejoice." The gospel of Jesus, is the gospel of
   peace. Thus you may see, that to be righteous over-much, is to be
   uncharitable, censorious, and to persecute persons for differing from
   us in religion.

   Secondly, Persons are righteous over-much, when they spend so much time
   in religious assemblies, as to neglect their families. There is no
   license given by the blessed Jesus, for idleness; for in the very
   infancy of the world, idleness was not allowed of. In paradise, Adam
   and Eve dressed the garden, Cain was a tiller of the ground, and Abel
   was a keeper of sheep; and there is a proverb amongst the Jews, "That
   he who brings his son up without a business, brings him up to be a
   thief:" and therefore our Savior was a carpenter; "Is not this the
   carpenter's son," said the Jews: and St. Paul, though brought up at the
   feet of Gamaliel, was a tent-maker. Labor, my brethren, is imposed on
   all mankind as part of the divine curse; and you are called to be
   useful in the society to which you belong: take care first for the
   kingdom of God, and all things necessary shall be added. To labor for
   the meat that perisheth, is your duty; only take care, that you do not
   neglect getting the meat for the soul: that is the greatest
   consequence, for this plain reason, the things of this life are
   temporal, but those of the next are eternal. I would have rich men to
   work as well as poor; it is owing to their idleness, that the devil
   hurries them to his diversions; they can be in their beds all the
   morning, and spend the afternoon and evening in dressing, visiting, and
   at balls, plays, or assemblies, when they should be working out their
   salvation with fear and trembling. Such a life as this, occasions a
   spiritual numbness in the soul; and if Jesus Christ was not to stop
   those who thus spend their time, they would be hurried into eternity,
   without once thinking of their immortal souls. But Jesus Christ has
   compassion upon many of them, and while they are in their blood, he
   bids them "live." And though I preach this doctrine to you, yet I do
   not bid you be idle; no, they that do not work should not eat. You have
   two callings, a general one, and a special one: as we are to regard the
   one in respect of our bodies, so we are to regard the other on account
   of our souls. Take heed, my brethren, I beseech you, take heed, lest
   you labor so for the meat that perisheth, as to forget that meat which
   endureth for ever. Seek the things of God first; look well to obtain
   oil in your lamps, grace in your hearts. I am not persuading you to
   take no care about the things of the world, but only not to be
   encumbered with them, so as to neglect your duty towards God, and a
   proper concern for your souls. It is meet, it is right, it is your
   bounden duty, to mind the calling wherein God hath placed you; and you
   may be said to be righteous over-much not to regard them. This brings
   me,

   Thirdly, To give you another sign of being righteous over-much; and
   that is, when we fast and use corporal authorities, so as to unfit us
   for the service of God.

   This, my brethren, you may think there is no occasion at all to caution
   you against, and indeed there is not a great necessity for it; however,
   many persons, upon their first being awakened to a sense of their sin,
   are tempted to use authorities to that excess which is sinful. It is
   our duty to fast, it is our duty to fast often, and it is what we are
   directed to by Jesus Christ himself; but then we are to take care to do
   it in a proper manner: to bring our bodies under for the service of
   God, is that which we are commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ.

   The late preacher upon this text, runs into great extremes, and charges
   us with saying and acting things of which we never thought; but I do
   not regard what he said of me: I do not mind his bitter invectives
   against my ministry; I do not mind his despising my youth, and calling
   me novice and enthusiast; I forgive him from my very heart: but when he
   reflects on my Master; when he speaks against my Redeemer; when Jesus
   Christ is spoken against, I must speak, (I must speak indeed, or I
   should burst:) when he gives liberty to persons to take a cheerful
   glass, and alledges Christ for an example, as in the marriage-feast,
   saying, "Christ turned water into wine, when it is plain there had been
   more drank than was necessary before;" what is this, but to charge
   Christ with encouraging drunkenness? It is true, the Governor says,
   "Every man in the beginning sets forth good wine, and when men have
   well drank, that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until
   now:" but it does not at all follow, that it was not necessary, or that
   there had been a sufficient quantity before: I would not speak thus
   slightingly of one of my Master's miracles, for the whole world. And we
   may observe, that as Christ chiefly visited poor people, they might not
   have wherewithal to buy a sufficient quantity of wine; for having more
   guests than were expected, the wine was expended sooner than they
   thought; then the Mother of Jesus tells him, "They have no wine;" he
   answers, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come."
   After this he commanded them to fill the water-pots with water, and
   they filled them to the brim, and this water he turned into wine: now
   it does not follow, that there was more drank than was necessary;
   neither would the Lord Jesus Christ have continued in the house if
   there had. But we have an excellent lesson to learn from this miracle:
   by the water-pots being empty, we may understand, the heart of man
   being by nature destitute of his grace, his speaking and commanding to
   fill them, shows, that when Christ speaks, the heart that was empty of
   grace before, shall be filled; and the water pots being filled to the
   brim, shows, that Christ will fill believers hearts brim full of the
   Holy Ghost: and from the Governor's observing, that the last wine was
   the best, learn, that a believer's best comforts, shall be the last and
   greatest, for they shall come with the greatest power upon the soul,
   and continue longest there: this, this my dear brethren, is the lesson
   we may learn from this miracle.

   But one great inconsistency I cannot avoid taking notice of in this
   late learned preacher. In the beginning of his sermon, he charges us
   with "laying heavy burdens upon people, which they are not able to
   bear;" in the latter part he charges us with being Antinomians, whose
   tenets are, "So you say you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you may
   live the life of devils." Now, he charges us with being too strict, and
   by and by with being too loose. Which side, my brethren, will you take?
   Thus you see, when persons forsake Christ, they make strange mistakes;
   for here can be no greater opposition of sentiments than this
   letter-learned writer has made: as opposite as light and darkness, good
   and evil, sweet and bitter. And, on this account, to find out these
   lettered-learned gentlemens notions of the new-birth, I put a paragraph
   in my Journal; and, blessed be God, I have obtained my desires, and
   have plainly perceived, that the persons who have lately written
   concerning the new-birth, know no more of it than a blind man does of
   colors, nor can they have any more notion of it, (by all their
   learning, falsely so called) than the blind man, who was to give an
   account what the sun was, and, after a considerable time allowed for
   study, he said, "It was like the sound of a trumpet." And till they are
   taught of God, they will be unacquainted with the new-birth; therefore,
   if you have a mind to know what the devil has to say against us, read
   Dr. Trapp's sermons.

   It is with grief I speak these things, and were not the welfare of your
   souls, and my Redeemer's honor at stake, I would not now open my mouth,
   yes I would willingly die (God is my judge) for the person who wrote
   such bitter things against me, so it would be a means of saving his
   soul. If he had only spoken against me, I would not have answered him;
   but, on his making my Redeemer a pattern of vice, if I was not to
   speak, the very stones would cry out; therefore, the honor of my
   Redeemer, and love to you, constrains me to speak. It is of necessity
   that I speak, when the divinity of Jesus Christ is spoken against, it
   is the duty of ministers to cry aloud, and spare not. I cannot forbear,
   come what will; for I know not what kind of divinity we have not among
   us: we must have a righteousness of our own, and do our best endeavors,
   and then Christ will make up the deficiency; that is, you must be your
   own Savior, in part. This is not the doctrine of the gospel; this not
   the doctrine of Jesus: no; Christ is all in all; Jesus Christ must be
   your whole wisdom; Jesus Christ must be your whole righteousness. Jesus
   Christ must be your whole sanctification; or Jesus Christ will never be
   your eternal redemption and sanctification. Inward holiness is looked
   on, by some, as the effect of enthusiasm and madness; and preachers of
   the necessity of the new-birth, are esteemed as persons fit for Bedlam.
   Our polite and fashionable doctrine, is, "That there is a fitness in
   man, and that God, seeing you a good creature, bestows upon you his
   grace." God forbid, my dear brethren, you should thus learn Jesus
   Christ!

   This is not the doctrine I preach to you: I say, salvation is the free
   gift of God. It is God' free grace, I preach unto you, not of works,
   lest any one should boast. Jesus Christ justifies the ungodly; Jesus
   Christ passed by, and saw you polluted with your blood, and bid you
   live. It is not of works, it is of faith: we are not justified for our
   faith, for faith is the instrument, but by your faith, the active as
   well as the passive obedience of Christ, must be applied to you. Jesus
   Christ hath fulfilled the law, he hath made it honorable; Jesus Christ
   hath made satisfaction to his Father's justice, full satisfaction; and
   it is as complete as it is full, and God will not demand it again.
   Jesus Christ is the way; Jesus Christ is the truth; and Jesus Christ is
   the life. The righteousness of Jesus Christ, my brethren, must be
   imputed to you, or you can never have any interest in the blood of
   Jesus; your own works are but as filthy rags, for you are justified
   before God, without any respect to your works past, present, or to
   come. This doctrine is denied by the learned rabbi's; but if they deny
   these truths of the gospel, they must not offended, though a child dare
   speak to a doctor; and, in vindication of the cause of Jesus Christ, a
   child, a boy, by the Spirit of God, can speak to the learned clergy of
   this age.

   If I had a voice so great, and could speak so loud, as that the whole
   world could hear me, I would cry, "Be not righteous over-much," by
   bringing your righteousness to Christ, and by being righteous in your
   own eyes. Man must be abased, that God may be exalted.

   The imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ is a comfortable doctrine to
   all real Christians; and you sinners, who ask what you must do to be
   saved? How uncomfortable would it be, to tell you by good works, when,
   perhaps, you have never done one good work in all your life: this would
   be driving you to despair, indeed: no; "Believe in the Lord Jesus
   Christ, and you shall be saved:" therefore none of you need go away
   despairing. Come to the Lord Jesus by faith, and he shall receive you.
   You have no righteousness of your own to depend on. If you are saved,
   it is by the righteousness of Christ, through his atonement, his making
   a sacrifice for sin: his righteousness must be imputed to you,
   otherwise you cannot be saved. There is no difference between you, by
   nature, and the greatest malefactor that ever was executed at Tyburn:
   the difference made, is all owing to the free, the rich, the undeserved
   grace of God; this has made the difference. It is true, talking at this
   rate, will offend the Pharisees, who do not like this leveling
   doctrine, (as they call it); but if ever you are brought to Jesus
   Christ by faith, you will experience the truth of it. Come by faith to
   Jesus Christ; do not come, Pharisee-like, telling God what you have
   done, how often you have gone to church, how often you have received
   the sacrament, fasted, prayed, or the like: no; come to Christ as poor,
   lost, undone, damned sinners; come to him in this manner, and he will
   accept of you: do not be rich in spirit, proud and exalted, for there
   is no blessing attends such; but be ye poor in spirit, for theirs is
   the kingdom of God; they shall be made members of his mystical body
   here, and shall be so of the church triumphant hereafter. Acknowledge
   yourselves as nothing at all, and when you have done all, say, "You are
   unprofitable servants." There is no salvation but by Jesus Christ;
   there is no other name given under heaven amongst men, whereby we may
   be saved, but that of the Lord Jesus. God, out of Christ, is a
   consuming fire; therefore strive for an interest in his Son the Lord
   Jesus Christ; take him on the terms offered to you in the gospel;
   accept of him in God's own way, lay hold on him by faith.

   Do not think you are Christians; do not flatter yourselves with being
   righteous enough, and good enough, because you lead moral decent lives,
   do no one any harm, go to church, and attend upon the outward means of
   grace; no, my brethren, you may do this, and a great deal more, and yet
   be very far from having a saving, experimental knowledge of Jesus
   Christ.

   Beg of Christ to strike home upon your hearts, that you may feel the
   power of religion. Indeed, you must feel the power of God here, or the
   wrath of God hereafter. These are truths of the utmost consequence;
   therefore, do not go contradicting, do not go blaspheming away. Blessed
   be God, you are not such cowards to run away for a little rain. I hope
   good things of you; I hope you have felt the power of God; and if God
   should bring any of you to himself through this foolishness of
   preaching, you will have no reason to complain it was done by a youth,
   by a child; no; if I could be made an instrument to bring you to God,
   they may call me novice, enthusiast, or what they please, I should
   rejoice; yea, and I would rejoice.

   O that some sinner might be brought to Jesus Christ! Do not say I
   preach despair; I despair of no one, when I consider God had mercy on
   such a wretch as I, who was running in a full career to hell: I was
   hastening thither, but Jesus Christ passed by and stopped me; Jesus
   Christ passed by me while I was in my blood, when I was polluted with
   filth; he passed by me, and bid me live. Thus I am a monument of God's
   free grace; and therefore, my brethren, I despair of none of you, when
   I consider, I say, what a wretch I was. I am not speaking now out of a
   false humility, a pretended sanctity, as the Pharisees call it: no, the
   truth in Christ I speak, and therefore, men and devils do your worst; I
   have a gracious Master will protect me; it is his work I am engaged in,
   and Jesus Christ will carry me above their rage.

   Those who are come here this night out of curiosity to hear what the
   babbler says; those who come to spend an idle hour to find something
   for an evening-conversation at a coffee-house; or you who have stopped
   in your coaches as you passed by, remember that you have had Jesus
   Christ offered to you; I offer Jesus Christ to every one of you:
   perhaps you may not regard it because it is in a field. But Jesus
   Christ is wherever his people meet in sincerity and truth to worship
   him: he is not confined to church walls: he has met us here; many, very
   many of you know he has; and therefore you may believe on him with
   greater confidence.

   Can you bear to think of a bleeding, panting, dying Jesus, offering
   himself up for sinners, and you will not accept of him? Do not say, you
   are poor, and therefore are ashamed to go to church, for God has sent
   the gospel out unto you. Do not harden your hearts: oppose not the will
   of Jesus.

   O that I could speak to your hearts, that my words would center there.
   My heart is full of love to you. I would speak, till I could speak no
   more, so I could but bring you to Christ. I may never meet you all,
   perhaps, any more. The cloud of God's providence seems to be moving.
   God calls me by his providence away from you, for a while. God knows
   whether we shall ever see each other in the flesh. At the day of
   judgment we shall all meet again. I earnestly desire your prayers. Pray
   that I may not only begin, John-like, I the spirit, but that I may
   continue in it. Pray that I may not fall away, that I may not decline
   suffering for you, if I should be called to it. Be earnest, O be
   earnest with God in my behalf, that while I am preaching to others, I
   may not be a cast-away. Put up your prayers for me, I beseech you. Go
   not to the throne of grace, without carrying me upon your heart; for
   you know not what influence your prayers may have. As for you, my dear
   brethren, God knows my heart. I continually bear you on my mind, when I
   go in and out before the Lord; and it is my earnest desire, you may not
   perish for lack of knowledge, but that he would send out more ministers
   to water what his own right-hand hath planted. May the Ancient of Days
   come forth upon his white horse, and may all opposition fall to the
   ground. As we have begun to bruise the serpent's head, we must expect
   he will bruise our heel. The devil will not let his kingdom fall
   without raging horribly. He will not suffer the ministers of Christ to
   go on, without bringing his power to stop them. But fear not, my dear
   brethren, David, though a stripling, encountered the great Goliath; and
   if we pray, God will give us strength against all our spiritual
   enemies. Show your faith by your works. Give the world the lye. Press
   forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the
   mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give
   you spiritual mercies. I hope we shall all meet at the right- hand of
   God. Strive, strive to enter in at the strait gate, that we may be born
   to Abraham's bosom, where sin and sorrow shall cease. No scoffer will
   be there, but we shall see Jesus, who died for us; and not only see
   him, but live with him forever.

   Which God, of his infinite mercy, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

 A Preservative Against Unsettled Notions, and Want of Principles, in Regard to
                   Righteousness and Christian Perfection [4]

   Ecclesiastes 7:16 -- "Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself
   over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?"

   To all the Members of Christ's Holy Church.

   Dear Fellow Christians,

   The great, and indeed the only motive which prompted me to publish this
   sermon, was the desire of providing for your security from error, at a
   time when the deviators from, and false pretenders to truth, are so
   numerous, that the most discerning find it a matter of the greatest
   difficulty to avoid being led astray by one or by other into downright
   falsehood. There is no running divisions upon truth; like a
   mathematical point, it will neither admit of subtraction nor addition:
   And as it is indivisible in its nature, there is no splitting the
   difference, where truth is concerned. Irreligion and enthusiasm are
   diametrical opposites, and true piety between both, like the center of
   an infinite line, is at an equal infinite distance from the one and the
   other, and therefore can never admit of a coalition with either. The
   one erring by defect, the other by excess. But whether we err by
   defect, or excess, is of little importance, if we are equally wide of
   the mark, as we certainly are in either case. For whatever is less than
   truth, cannot be truth; and whatever is more than true must be false.

   Wherefore, as the whole of this great nation seams now more than ever
   in danger of being hurried into one or the other of these equally
   pernicious extremes, irreligion or fanaticism, I thought myself more
   than ordinarily obliged to rouse your, perhaps drowsy vigilance, by
   warning you of the nearness of your peril; cautioning you from leaning
   towards either side, though but to peep at the slippery precipice; and
   stepping between you and error, before it comes nigh enough to grapple
   with you. The happy medium of true Christian piety, in which it has
   pleased the mercy of God to establish you, is built on a firm rock,
   "and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it." While then you
   stand steadily upright in the fullness of the faith, falsehood and sin
   shall labor in vain to approach you; whereas, the least familiarity
   with error, will make you giddy, and if once you stagger in principles,
   your ruin is almost inevitable.

   But not I have cautioned you of the danger you are in from the enemies
   who threaten your subversion, I hope your own watchfulness will be
   sufficient to guard you from any surprise. And from their own assaults
   you have nothing to fear, since while you persist in the firm
   resolution, through God's grace, to keep them out, irreligion and
   enthusiasm, falsehood and vice, impiety and false piety, will combine
   in vain to force an entrance into your hearts.

   Take then, my dearly beloved fellow members of Christ's mystical body,
   take the friendly caution I give you in good part, and endeavor to
   profit by it: attend wholly to the saving truths I here deliver to you,
   and per persuaded, that they are uttered by one who has your eternal
   salvation as much at heart as his own.

   "And thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, fountain of all truth, whence all
   wisdom flows, open the understandings of thy people to the light of thy
   true faith, and touch their hearts with thy grace, that they may both
   be able to see, and willing to perform what thou requirest of them.
   Drive away from us every cloud of error and perversity; guard us alike
   from irreligion and false pretensions to piety; and lead us on
   perpetually towards that perfection to which thou hast taught us to
   aspire; that keeping us here in a constant imitation of thee, and
   peaceful union which each other, thou mayest at length bring us to that
   everlasting glory, which thou hast promised to all such as shall
   endeavor to be perfect, even as the Father who is in heaven is perfect,
   who with thee and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns one God, world
   without end! Amen, Amen.

   Ecclesiastes 7:16, "Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself
   over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?"

   Righteousness over-much! May one say; Is there any danger of that? Is
   it even possible? Can we be too good? If we give any credit to the
   express word of God, we cannot be too good, we cannot be righteous
   over-much. The injunction given by God to Abraham is very strong: "Walk
   before me, and be thou perfect." The same he again lays upon all
   Israel, in the eighteenth of Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt be perfect, and
   without blemish, with the Lord thy God." And lest any should think to
   excuse themselves from this obligation, by saying, it ceased when the
   old law was abolished, our blessed Savior ratified and explained it:
   "Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is
   perfect." So that until our perfection surpasses that of our heavenly
   Father, we can never be too good nor righteous over-much; and as it is
   impossible we should ever surpass, or even come up to him in the
   perfection of goodness and righteousness, it follows in course that we
   never can be good or righteous in excess. Nevertheless Doctor Trapp has
   found out that we may be righteous over-much, and has taken no small
   pains, with much agitation of spirit, to prove that it is a great folly
   and weakness, nay, a great sin. "O Lord! Rebuke thou his spirit, and
   grant that this false doctrine may not be published to his confusion in
   the day of judgment!"

   But if what this hasty, this deluded man advances had been true, could
   there be any occasion, however, of warning against it in these times,
   "when the danger (as he himself to his confusion owns) is on the
   contrary extreme; when all manner of vice and wickedness abounds to a
   degree almost unheard of?" I answer for the present, that "there must
   be heresies amongst you, that they who are approved may be made
   manifest."

   However, this earthly-minded minister of a new gospel, has taken a text
   which seems to favor his naughty purpose, of weaning the well-disposed
   little ones of Christ from that perfect purity of heart and spirit,
   which is necessary to all such as mean to live to our Lord Jesus. O
   Lord, what shall become of thy flock, when their shepherds betray them
   into the hands of the ravenous wolf! When a minister of thy word
   perverts it to overthrow thy kingdom, and to destroy scripture with
   scripture!

   Solomon, in the person of a desponding, ignorant, indolent liver
   (resident), says to the man of righteousness: "Be not righteous
   over-much, neither make thyself overwise: Why shouldest thou destroy
   thyself?" But must my angry, over-sighted brother Trapp, therefore,
   personate a character so unbecoming his function, merely to overthrow
   the express injunction of the Lord to us; which obliges us never to
   give over pursuing and thirsting after the perfect righteousness of
   Christ, until we rest in him? Father, forgive him, for he knows not
   what he says!

   What advantage might not Satan gain over the elect, if the false
   construction, put upon this text by that unseeing teacher, should
   prevail! Yet though he blushes not to assist Satan to bruise our heel,
   I shall endeavor to bruise the heads of both, by showing,

   I. First, The genuine sense of the text in question.

   II. The character of the persons, who are to be supposed speaking here:
   And

   III. The character of the persons spoken to.

   From whence will naturally result these consequences.

   First, That the Doctor was grossly (Lord grant he was not maliciously)
   mistaken in his explanatory sermon on this text, as well as in the
   application of it.

   Secondly, That he is a teacher and approver of worldly maxims.

   Thirdly, That he is of course an enemy to perfect righteousness in men,
   through Christ Jesus, and, therefore, no friend to Christ: And
   therefore, that no one ought to be deluded by the false doctrine he
   advances, to beguile the innocent, and deceive, if possible, even the
   elect.

   I. To come at the true sense of the text in question, it will be
   necessary to look back, to the preceding verse, where the wise man,
   reflecting on the vanities of his youth, puts on for a moment his
   former character. "All things, have I seen in the days of my vanity:
   (and among the rest) there is a just man that perisheth in his
   righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongeth his life in his
   wickedness." Now it is very plain, that he is not here talking of a
   man, who is righteous over- much, in the Doctor's manner of
   understanding the words, that is, "faulty, and criminal by excess." For
   on one side he commends him for being a just man, and full of
   righteousness, and yet on the other tells us, that his righteousness is
   the shortening of his life. Whereas, had he looked upon his perishing
   in righteousness to be an over-righteousness, he would never have
   called him a just man. Neither by a wicked man, can he mean a man given
   up to the utmost excess of wickedness, since he tells us, that he
   prolongeth his life in (or by) his wickedness. Who does not know, that
   the excess of almost every kind of vice, is of itself a shortener of
   life. So that the whole opposition and contrast lies between a good
   man, and a bad man. A good man whose goodness shortens his life, and
   bad man whose iniquity lengthens his life, or at least is not excessive
   enough to shorten the thread of it. Solomon, absorbed in these
   reflections, speaks here by way of prosopopeia, not the sense of
   Solomon, the experienced, the learned, the wise; but of the former
   Solomon, a vain young fellow, full of self- love, and the strong
   desires of life. In the quality of such a one then, he looks with the
   same eye upon the righteous man, who perishes in his righteousness, as
   he would on a wicked one, who should perish in his wickedness. For it
   is neither the righteousness of the one, nor the wickedness of the
   other, that offends him, but the superlative degrees of both; which
   tending equally to shorten life, he looks upon them as equally opposite
   to the self-love he fondles within him. And, therefore, he deems an
   excess of debauchery as great an enemy to the lasting enjoyment of the
   pleasures of life, as an extraordinary righteousness would be. Well
   then might he say to the latter, in this character, "Be not over-much
   wicked, neither be thou foolish; why shouldst thou die before thy
   time?" And to the former: "Be not righteous over-much, neither make
   thyself over-wise: Why shouldst thou destroy thyself?"

   What wonder then, that a youth of sprightliness and sense, but led away
   by self-love to be fond of the pleasures and enjoyments of life, when
   attained without hurry, and possessed without risk; what wonder, I say,
   that such a youth should conceive an equal dislike to the superlative
   degrees of virtue and vice, and, therefore, advise such of his
   companions as give into the excess of debauchery, to refrain from it:
   as it must infallibly tend to clog their understandings, stupify their
   senses, and entail upon their constitutions a train of infirmities,
   which cannot but debilitate their natural vigor, and shorten their
   days? "Be not over-much wicked, neither be thou foolish: Why shouldst
   thou die before thy time?" What wonder, that the same self-love should
   prompt him to dissuade such of his friends or acquaintance, as he
   wishes to have for companions, and countenancers of his worldly-minded
   pursuits, from pursuing righteousness and wisdom to a degree that must
   destroy in them all taste of earthly pleasures, and may possibly impair
   their constitutions, and forward their end? "Be not righteous
   over-much, neither make thyself overwise: Why shouldst thou destroy
   thyself?"

   This is the sense in which Solomon (placing himself in the state of
   vanity of his youth) speaks to the one, and the other: to the
   righteous, and to the ungodly. This is the true, genuine sense of the
   letter; and every other sense put upon it, is false and groundless, and
   wrested rather to pervert than explain the truth of the text. O
   Christian simplicity, whither art thou fled? Why will not the clergy
   speak truth? And why must this false prophet suffer thy people, O Lord,
   to believe a lie? They have held the truth in unrighteousness. Raise
   up, I beseech thee, O Lord, some true pastors, who may acquaint them
   with the nature and necessity of perfect righteousness, and lead them
   to that love of Christian perfection which the angry-minded,
   pleasure-taking Doctor Trapp, labors to divert them from, by teaching,
   that "all Christians must have to do with some vanities."

   Is not the meaning of this text plain to the weakest capacity? I have
   here given it to you, as I have it from the mouth of the royal preacher
   himself. I have made use of no "philosophy and vain deceit after the
   tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
   Christ," to impose a fleshly sense upon you, for the sense of the word
   of God. No, I have given you a natural exposition obvious from the very
   words themselves. Hence you may see, my fellow-strugglers in
   righteousness, how grossly our angry adversary is mistaken in his
   explanation of this text. Lord! Open his eyes, and touch his heart; and
   convert him, and all those erring ministers, who have seen vain and
   foolish things for thy people, and have not discovered their iniquity,
   to turn away thy captivity. For they have erred through wine, and
   through strong drink are out of the way! The priest and the prophet
   have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they
   are out of the way through strong drink, they err in vision, they
   stumble in judgment.

   It is plain from the words of the text, that the royal Preacher was
   speaking in the person of a vain worldling, when he said, "Be not
   righteous over-much;" whereby he meant to exhort the truly righteous
   not to be dismayed, terrified, or disturbed from their constant pursuit
   of greater and greater perfection of righteousness, until they rest in
   Christ; notwithstanding the derision, fleshly persuasion, ill-treatment
   and persecution of worldly men: Who, one day, repenting and groaning
   for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, "These were they
   whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools,
   accounted their lives madness; and their end to be without honor. How
   are they numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the
   saints!"

   How blind then is the application (not to say perverse) which this
   self-wise clergyman makes from the text, to such as, following the
   advice of the apostle (Coloss. 3:2) "set their affections on things
   above, not on things on the earth." Must hastiness in anger get the
   better of sense and truth? Must the people be misled because the pastor
   cannot, or will not see? Or must the injunction of Christ, "Be perfect,
   even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect," give place to the
   maxim of the heathen Tully: The greatest reproach to a philosopher, is
   to confute his doctrine by his practice; if this be the case, alas,
   what a deplorable, unspeakably deplorable condition is that of some
   Christians? Wherefore, "thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets who
   make his people to err, that bite with their teeth and cry peace; and
   he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against
   him: therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a
   vision, and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine, and
   the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over
   them.

   But I will leave these lovers of darkness, and turn to you, O beloved,
   elect of God! I beseech you, by the bowels of Christ, suffer not
   yourselves to be deceived by their flattering, sin-soothing speeches.
   "Be not of that rebellious people, lying children, children who will
   not hear the law of the Lord: who say to the seers, see not; and to the
   prophets, prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth
   things, prophesy deceits." Follow not those, who flatter you in the
   vanities they practice themselves. O may you never be of the number of
   those, in the person of whom Solomon here says, "Be not righteous
   over-much;" for their character is the character of the beast.

   II. The character of the persons, who are to be supposed speaking here
   in the text, is in a word the same with the character of those whom
   Solomon here personates: who, as is already shown, are a vain set of
   men, neither righteous enough to have an habitual desire of improving
   virtue to its perfection, nor quite so flagitious [sinful, unlawful,
   wicked] as to give into self-destroying vices: in a word, they are
   self-lovers, the sole end of whose pursuits, whether indifferent, bad,
   or laudable in themselves, is self-enjoyment. Insomuch that they look
   upon virtue and vice, righteousness and wickedness, with the same eye,
   and their fondness of aversion for both is alike, as their different
   degrees appear to be the means to enhance and prolong the enjoyment of
   pleasure, or to lessen and shorten those pleasures. Thus any virtue,
   while it is kept within such bounds as may render it subservient to the
   pleasurable degrees of vice, will meet with no opposition from them; on
   the contrary, they will even commend it. But the moment it becomes a
   restraint to vice in moderation (if I may be allowed to make use of
   terms adequate to their system) from that moment it gives offense, and
   they put it in their caveat, "Be not righteous over-much." In like
   manner, vice, while confined to certain limits, which rather improve
   than obstruct pleasures is with them a desirable good; but no sooner
   does it launch out into any depth, sufficient to drown and diminish the
   relish of those pleasures, than they declare open war against it; "Be
   not over- much wicked." And the reason they assign for their opposition
   in both cases, is the same: "why shouldst thou destroy thyself? Why
   shouldst thou die before thy time?" Such is the prudence of the world,
   the flesh, and the devil. Such the maxims of these refined libertines,
   so much that more dangerous as they are less obvious; so much the more
   insinuating, as they are removed from certain extra-vagancies capable
   of shocking every man who has the least sense and delicacy. O Lord, how
   true is it, that the sons of darkness are wiser in their generation
   than the sons of light!

   You are not then, beloved in the Lord, to imagine that your greatest
   opposition, in struggling for perfect righteousness, is to come from
   profligates, from men whose enormous vices create horror even to
   themselves: no, your most dangerous, most formidable enemies, are the
   kind of men I have painted to you, who render vice relishable with a
   mixture of apparent virtue, and clothe wickedness in the apparel of
   righteousness; "Beware of them, for they come to you in the clothing of
   sheep, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

   This perverse generation will ensnare you into ungodliness, by seeming
   oppositions to vice, and allow you to swallow the seemings of virtue
   and righteousness like an emetic, only to puke forth the reality of
   them. They paint black, white, and the white they convert into black.
   Not content with seeming what they are not, they labor to make you,
   what they are. Righteousness and wickedness they interweave in an
   artful tissue, capable of deceiving the very elect, and difficult for
   the most discerning among them to unravel; as almsgiving and avarice,
   pride and humility, temperance and luxury, are dexterously blended
   together; while as mutual curbs to each other, they combine to stem the
   tide of impediments to worldly enjoyment, which might flow from
   extraordinary degrees on either side. Thus "Almsgiving (you are told)
   is very excellent," and you believe the proposition, without knowing
   the particular sense it is spoken in, which is, that alms-giving is an
   excellent curb upon avarice, by preserving a rich man from such a
   superlative love of money as deprives him of the self- enjoyment of it.
   And upon the strength of this belief, the worldly-minded man, who
   labors to deceive you, gains credit enough with you to establish this
   maxim, that all superlative degrees of alms-giving, are great sins, and
   that a man must never sell all he has and give it to the poor, because
   some may have families of their own, and ought to make sufficient
   provision for them, according to that proverb, "Charity begins at
   home;" when no one, at least scarce any one, is wise enough to know,
   when he has a sufficiency. O Lord, which are we to believe, these
   worldlings, or thee? If thou dost deceive us, why dost thou threaten us
   with punishments, if we do not heed thee? And if the world is
   deceitful, shall we not flee from it to cleave to thee?

   "Pride is a great sin" even with these worldlings, inasmuch as the
   external excesses of it, may obstruct the way to many ambitious
   terminations of view, and its internal agitations are the destruction
   of that peace, to which even self-love aspires; besides, the frequent
   extravagancy of its motions may not only be prejudicial to health, but
   a shortner of life. And, therefore, no wonder they should object
   against it, "Be not over much wicked: why shouldst thou die before thy
   time?" For this reason, they look upon a little mixture of humility to
   be not only commendable, but even necessary to cub the extravagant
   follies of an over- bearing pride. But then a superlative degree of
   humility, that is, humility free from the least tincture of pride or
   vanity, which is the same with them, as "an over-strained humility, is
   a fault as well as folly;" because, forsooth, it is an expediment to
   the self-enjoyment of the world and its pleasures; "All Christians must
   have to do with some vanities, or else they must needs go out of the
   world indeed; for the world itself is all over vanity." Tis nothing,
   therefore, surprising, my brethren, to see a man of this cast of mind
   making a vain ostentation (act of display, show) of his little
   superficial acquaintance, with the ancient Greeks and Romans. What is
   this but acting conformably to his own principle, that "all Christians
   must have to do with some vanities?" And shall we wonder to hear such a
   one prefer their writings, to those of an apostle; or be astonished to
   see him wound the apostle with raillery, (good-natured ridicule)
   through your sides, for wishing to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and
   him crucified? No, with him it is consistency to laugh and reprove you
   out of the perfection of righteousness, which, however he may play with
   terms, is with him the same as being righteousness over-much; but with
   you it would be inconsistency, who ought to know no difference between
   being righteous, and living in a perpetual, habitual desire of being
   superlatively so. It is no more than, than you ought to expect to hear
   such advocates for the world cry out to you, "Be not righteous
   over-much: why should you destroy yourselves?" But, O Lord, surely this
   is not the same voice which tells us, that unless we humble ourselves
   like unto children, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, and
   that he is greatest there, who humbles himself the most like a child!
   But what will not men advance who are drunk with passion, and
   intoxicated with self-love?

   "The vice of intemperance in eating, and drinking, is plain to
   everybody," they own. And, therefore, they give it up as an excess
   which cannot but tend to the impairing of health, and shortening of
   life: nay, it drowns the very relish of pleasure in actual eating and
   drinking. Hence will every refined debauchee exclaim against it with
   Dr. Trapp: "Be not over much wicked: why shouldst thou destroy
   thyself?" Little sobriety, say they, is requisite to give a zest to
   luxury and worldly pleasures. But too much of it is too much, "to eat
   nothing but bread and herbs, and drink nothing but water, unless there
   be a particular reason for it (such perhaps as Doctor Cheyne may
   assign) is folly at best (that is, even though it be done for Christ's
   sake) therefore no virtue:" "Be not then righteous over- much, why
   shouldst thou destroy thyself?" And if you should answer those
   carnally-minded men with the words of the apostle, Rom. 8, "We are
   debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; For if we live
   after the flesh, we shall die: but if we, through the spirit, do
   mortify the deeds of the flesh, we shall live." If you answer them
   thus, they will tell you, this is teaching for doctrines the
   commandments of men." And it will be to as little purpose to answer
   them, with what St. Paul says elsewhere (Rom. 14:17) "The kingdom of
   God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the
   Holy Ghost:" They will not blush to tell you, that "our blessed Savior
   came eating and drinking, nay worked a miracle to make wind (at an
   entertainment) when it is plain there had been more drank than was
   necessary." To such lengths does the love of the world hurry these
   self-fond, merry-making worldlings! Tell them of self-denial, they will
   not hear you, it is an encroachment upon the pleasures of life, and may
   shorten it of a few days, which you are never sure of possessing; it is
   being "righteous over-much: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" Jesus,
   you will say, tells us (John 12:25) "He that loveth his life shall lose
   it, and he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life
   eternal." But this and the like, they will inform you, "are
   hyperbolical phrases." Now what signifies minding Jesus, when he speaks
   hyperbolically, that is, speaks more than is strictly true. Yet, O Lord
   Jesus, grant us to mind thee, whatever these worldlings may say; remind
   us, that if any man will come after thee, he must deny himself, and
   take up his cross, and follow thee! O how enlarging is it to the soul,
   to take up the cross of Christ and follow him!

   But you are charged, ye beloved lovers of perfect righteousness, with
   extravagances. You allow of "no sort of recreation or diversion;
   nothing but an universal mortification and self-denial; no pleasure but
   from religion only:" you teach "that the bodily appetites must not be
   in the least degree gratified, any farther than is absolutely necessary
   to keep body and soul together, and mankind in being: No allowances are
   to be made for melancholy misfortunes, or human infirmity: grief must
   be cured only by prayer;" (a horrid grievance this, to such as think
   prayer burdensome at best) "To divert it by worldly amusements is
   carnal." A heavy charge this: but left it should seem so only to those
   carnal persons, who are resolved to give way to their carnal appetites;
   what you look upon as advisable only, these perverters of truth
   insinuate to be looked upon by you as indispensable duties. And lest
   prevarication should fail, downright falsehoods must be placed to your
   account, "so that to taste an agreeable fruit, or smell to a rose, must
   be unlawful with you," however you disown it. But O, my beloved
   Christians, be not discouraged from the pursuit of perfect
   righteousness by these or such vile misrepresentations. For "blessed
   are ye when men shall revile you, and shall say all manner of evil
   against you falsely for the sake of Christ Jesus. Rejoice, and be
   exceeding glad: For great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted
   they the prophets who were before you."

   Thus far, then, may suffice to show clearly with what dangerous views
   the worldly-minded men, whom Solomon personates in the text before us,
   lay siege to your souls in fair speeches. What I have said, is enough
   to convince you, that their character is that of the beast, whom St.
   John, in the Revelations, "saw coming up from the sea (that is, the
   flagitious [sinful, unlawful, wicked] world) with seven heads." And
   what shall we say of a man, a clergyman, who teaches, and is an
   advocate for their perverse doctrines? May we not, nay, must we not,
   for the glory of God, and your good, inform you, that he is a "Teacher
   and approver of worldly maxims." May I not, nay, must I not, give you
   this caution with the royal preacher: "When he speaketh fair, believer
   him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart?" But how
   different is the character I have given you, from the character of the
   persons to whom the text under consideration is spoken! That is, the
   character of all such, as, like you, are resolved never to rest, till
   they rest in Christ Jesus. To show this, I shall now pass to my third
   point.

   III. To what sort of persons does Solomon in the character of a
   worldling address himself, when he says, "Be not righteous over-much,
   neither make thyself over-wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" Not
   to the wicked, tis plain; for besides that it would have been an
   unnecessary precaution, he turns to these in the next verse with
   another kind of warning, which however has some analogy with this. "Be
   not over-much wicked, neither be thou foolish, why shouldst thou die
   before thy time?" Was it then to the righteous, in a common way; that
   is, to such as content themselves with the observance of the absolute
   essentials of God's laws? Surely our adversaries will not allow this,
   unless they be of opinion, that to be righteous at all, is to be
   righteous over-much. And yet it cannot possibly be supposed that the
   persons spoken to, are men perfectly righteous; since, as I proved to
   you, in the introduction of this discourse, till we come up to the
   perfection of our heavenly father, we can never be righteous enough,
   much less perfectly righteous: wherefore, as in this life, men cannot
   attain to the perfection of their heavenly father, it follows in course
   that the persons here spoken to, cannot be men perfectly righteous,
   there being no such men existing; for as St. John saith, "If we say
   that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
   Alas, O Lord, when shall we be delivered from the body of this death?

   It remains, that the persons spoken to, in the text, are such only, as
   persisting steadfastly in a firm adherence to all the essential laws of
   God, content not themselves with the practice of common virtues in a
   common degree, but live in a perpetual habitude of desires, struggles,
   and yearnings towards an intimate union with Christ, the perfection of
   righteousness. They are not of the number of those righteous with
   indifference, who would fain blend the service of God and mammon, would
   fain have Christ and the world for their masters, and halting between
   two, like the children of Israel of old, with their faces to heaven,
   and their hearts to the earth, are neither hot nor cold. Alas, would
   they were cold or hot! But "because they are luke-warm, and neither
   cold nor hot, the Lord shall spew the out of his mouth."

   Not so the persons spoken to in my text; not so you, O beloved in God,
   who having shaken off the world and worldly affection; to run the more
   swiftly after righteousness, hate your own lives for the sake of
   Christ. Happy, happy are all you, who put on our Lord Jesus, and with
   him the new man! "You are the true circumcision which worship God in
   spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the
   flesh."

   What wonder then, Christians! To you I speak, all ye lovers and
   strugglers after the perfect righteousness of your divine Master
   Christ; what wonder is it, that you should be charged with enthusiasm,
   with folly, with fanaticism and madness? Were not the apostles so
   before you, when they preached Christ Jesus? Nay were they not reputed
   drunk with wine? Can you be amazed at it in an age, "when all manner of
   vice abounds to a degree almost unheard of," when the land is full of
   adulterers, and because of swearing the land mourneth. O how is the
   faithful city become an harlot! My heart within me is broken, because
   of the clergy, all my bones shake? I am like a drunken man, and like a
   man whom wine hath overcome; because of the Lord, and because of the
   words of his holiness, perverted by this deluded clergyman.

   When the clergy, whom Christ has appointed to teach his people "to walk
   before him and be perfect," become teachers of worldly maxims, what can
   be expected from the laity? It is notorious, that for the moralizing
   iniquity of the priest, the land mourns. They have preached and lived
   many sincere persons out of the church of England. They endeavor to
   make you vain: (as the prophets did in the day of Jeremiah) they speak
   a vision out of their own mouth, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
   In a word, "both prophet and priest are profane, and do wickedness in
   the very house of the Lord." Nay, they say still to them who despise
   the Lord, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say to
   every one who walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil
   shall come upon you.

   Such is the language, my beloved lovers of Christian perfection, which
   the indolent, earthly-minded, pleasure-taking clergy of the church of
   England, use to strengthen the hands of evil-doers, that none may
   return from his wickedness. Such is the doctrine of the letter-learned
   divine, who has dipped his pen in gall, to decry perfect righteousness,
   and to delude you from it, with a false application of that text so
   greatly misunderstood by him: "Be not righteous over-much, neither be
   thou over-wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" But suffer not
   yourselves, my fellow- Christians, to be deluded by him. For as I have
   already shown to you, he is grossly (Lord grant he was not maliciously)
   mistaken in his manner of explaining this text; and so far from making
   a right application of it according to the wise, the experienced
   Solomon's intention, he acts the character of a vain libertine, full of
   self-love, and earthly desires, whom Solomon but personates, to
   ridicule. But the doctor by realizing that character is himself,
   becomes the teacher and approver of worldly maxims, which he applies to
   you, on purpose to destroy in you the yearnings after perfect
   righteousness in Christ. May I not then, nay, must I not warn you, my
   beloved, that this man is an enemy to perfect righteousness in men
   through Christ Jesus, and, therefore, no friend to Christ? O that my
   head was an ocean, and my eyes fountains of tears, to weep night and
   day for this poor creature, this hood-winked member of the clergy.

   Pray you, O true Christians, pray and sigh mightily to the Lord;
   importune him in the behalf of this erring pastor; pray that he would
   vouchsafe to open the eyes, and touch the stubborn heart of this
   scribe, that he may become better instructed. Otherwise, as the Lord
   said by the mouth of his true prophet Jeremiah, "Behold, I will feed
   him with wormwood, and make him drink the water of gall; for from him
   is profaneness gone forth into all the land."

   This good, however, hath he done by attempting to show the folly, sin,
   and danger of that which he miscalls being righteous over-much, that
   is, being superlatively righteous, in desire and habitual struggles; he
   has thereby given me the occasion to show you, brethren, in the course
   of this sermon, the great and real folly, sin, and danger of not being
   righteous enough; which, perhaps, I should never have thought of doing,
   had not this false doctrine pointed out to me the necessity of doing
   it. Thus does the all-wise providence of God, make use of the very
   vices of men to draw good out of evil; and choose their very errors to
   confound falsehood and make way for truth. Though this should be more
   than our angry adversary intended, yet, Lord, reward him according to
   his works: and suffer him no longer to be hasty in his words, that we
   may have room to entertain better hopes of him for the future.

   Blessed be God for sending you better guides! I am convinced it was his
   divine will: our dear fellow-creature, Doctor Trapp, falling to such
   errors, has given so great a shock to the sound religion of Christian
   perfection, that unless I had opposed him, I verily believe the whole
   flock who listened to his doctrine, would have been scattered abroad
   like sheep having no shepherd. "But woe to you scribes and Pharisees!
   Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my
   pasture, saith the Lord."

   Full well I know that this sermon will not be pleasing to my poor
   peevish adversary; but correction is not to pleasure but to profit: few
   children can be brought willingly to kiss the rod which rebuketh them;
   though, when they become of riper understanding, they will bless the
   hand that guided them. Thus shall this angry man, I trust, thank me one
   day for reproving him, when his reason shall be restored to him by the
   light of the Holy Spirit. O Lord, grant thou this light unto him, and
   suffer him to see with what bowels of pity and tenderness I love him in
   thee, even while I chasten him.

   Neither am I insensible, brethren, how offensive my words will be to
   worldlings in general, who loving falsehood better than truth, and the
   flesh before the spirit will still prefer the doctor's sin-soothing
   doctrines to the plain gospel verities preached by me. O how my soul
   pities them. But I have done my duty, I wash my hands, and am innocent
   of the blood of all. I have not fought to please my hearers, but have
   spoken plain truth though it should offend. For what things were gain
   to me, those I counted loss for Christ; and hope I shall ever do so.
   Not that I presume to think myself already perfect. But "I press
   towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
   Jesus."

   None of us, as I before told you, can boast of having attained the
   summit of perfection; though, he is the nearest to it, who is widest
   from the appetites of the flesh, and he stands the highest, who is the
   lowliest in his own esteem: wherefore, as many of us as have made any
   advances towards Christ and his kingdom, "whereto we have already
   attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."

   Walk not then, brethren, according to the ways of the world: but be
   followers of Christ together with me. And if any, even an angel of
   light, should presume to teach you any other gospel than that which I
   have here taught you, let him be accursed. "For you will find many
   walking, like such of whom I have told you already, and now tell you
   weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is
   destruction, whose God is their belly: and whose glory is in their
   shame, for they mind worldly things. But your conversation is in
   heaven, from whence also you look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus
   Christ: who shall change your vile bodies, that they may be fashioned
   like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is
   able to subdue even all things unto himself," even the stubborn heart
   of our perverse adversary.

   Which God of his infinite mercy grant, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

   [4] Being a More Particular Answer to Doctor Trapp's Four Sermons Upon
   the Same Text
     __________________________________________________________________

                         The Benefits of an Early Piety

   The amiableness of religion in itself, and the innumerable advantages
   that flow from it to society in general, as well as to each sincere
   professor in particular, cannot but recommend it to the choice of every
   considerate person, and make, even wicked men, as they wish to die the
   death, so in their more sober intervals, to envy the life of the
   righteous. And, indeed, we must do the world so much justice, as to
   confess, that the question about religion does not usually arise from a
   dispute whether it be necessary or not (for most men see the necessity
   of doing something for the salvation of their souls;) but when is the
   best time to set about it. Persons are convinced by universal
   experience, that the first essays or endeavors towards the attainment
   of religion, are attended with some difficulty and trouble, and
   therefore they would willingly defer the beginning of such a seemingly
   ungrateful work, as long as they can. The wanton prodigal, who is
   spending his substance in riotous living, cries, a little more
   pleasure, a little more sensuality, and then I will be sober in
   earnest. The covetous worldling, that employs all his care and pains in
   "heaping up riches, though he cannot tell who shall gather them," does
   not flatter himself that this will do always; but hopes with the rich
   fool in the gospel, to lay up goods for a few more years on earth, and
   then he will begin to lay up treasures in heaven. And, in short, thus
   it is that most people are convinced of the necessity of being
   religious some time or another; but then, like Felix, they put off the
   acting suitably to their convictions, till, what they imagine, a more
   convenient season: whereas, would we be so humble as to be guided by
   the experience and counsel of the wisest men, we should learn that
   youth is the fittest season for religion; "Remember now thy creator,
   (says Solomon) in the days of thy youth." By the word remember, we are
   not to understand a bare speculative remembrance, or calling to mind,
   (for that, like a dead faith, will profit us nothing,) but such a
   remembrance as will constrain us to obedience, and oblige us out of
   gratitude, to perform all that the Lord our God shall require of us.
   For as the forgetting God in scripture language, implies a total
   neglect of our duty, in like manner remembering him signifies a perfect
   performance of it: so that, when Solomon says, "Remember thy Creator in
   the days of thy youth,: it is the same as if he had said, keep God's
   commandments; or, in other words, be religious in the days of thy
   youth, thereby implying, that youth is the most proper season for it.

   I shall in the following discourse,

   First, Endeavor to make good the wise man's proposition, implied in the
   words of the text, and to show that youth is the fittest season for
   religion.

   Secondly, By way of motive, I shall consider the many unspeakable
   advantages that will arise from, "Remembering our Creator in the days
   of our youth." And,

   Thirdly, I shall conclude with a word or two of exhortation to the
   younger part of this audience.

   First, I am to make good the wise man's proposition, implied in the
   words of the text, and to show that youth is the fittest season for
   religion: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." But to
   proceed more clearly in this argument, it may not be improper, first,
   to explain what I mean by the word religion. By this term, then, I
   would not be understood to mean a bare outward profession or naming the
   name of Christ; for we are told, that many who have even prophesied in
   his name, and in his name cast out devils, shall notwithstanding be
   rejected by him at the last day: nor would I understand by it, barely
   being admitted into Christ's church by baptism; for then Simon Magus,
   Arius, and the heresiarchs [heresies, maybe arch-heresies] of old,,
   might pass for religious persons; for these were baptized: nor yet the
   receiving the other seal of the covenant, for then Judas himself might
   be canonized for a saint; nor indeed do I mean any or all of these
   together, considered by themselves; but a thorough, real, inward change
   of nature, wrought in us by the powerful operations of the Holy Ghost,
   conveyed to and nourished in our hearts, by a constant use of all the
   means of grace, evidenced by a good life, and bringing forth the fruits
   of the spirit.

   The attaining this real, inward religion, is a work of so great
   difficulty, that Nicodemus, a learned doctor and teacher in Israel,
   thought it altogether impossible, and therefore ignorantly asked our
   blessed Lord, "How this thing could be?" And, truly, to rectify a
   disordered nature, to mortify our corrupt passions, to turn darkness to
   light, to put off the old man, and put on the new, and thereby to have
   the image of God reinstamped upon the soul, or, in one word, "to be
   born again," however light some may make of it, must, after all our
   endeavors, be owned by man to be impossible. It is true, indeed,
   Christ's yoke is said to be an easy or a gracious yoke, and his burden
   light; but then it is to those only to whom grace has been given to
   bear and draw in it. For, as the wise son of Sirach observes, "At first
   wisdom walked with her children in crooked ways, and bring them into
   fear, and torments them with her discipline, and does not turn to
   comfort and rejoice them, till she has tried them and d proved their
   judgment." No, we must not flatter ourselves that we shall walk in
   wisdom's pleasant ways, unless we first submit to a great many
   difficulties. The spiritual birth is attended with its pangs, as well
   as the natural: for they that have experienced it (an they only are the
   proper judges,) can acquaint you, that in all things that are dear to
   corrupt nature, we must deny ourselves, lest, after all, when w come to
   the birth, we should want strength to bring forth.

   But if these things are so; if there are difficulties and pangs
   attending our being born again; if we must deny ourselves, what season
   more proper than that of youth? When, if ever, our bodies are robust
   and vigorous, and our minds active and courageous; and, consequently,
   we are then best qualified to endure hardness, as good soldiers of
   Jesus Christ.

   We find, in secular matters, people commonly observe this method, and
   send their children abroad among the toils and fatigues of business, in
   their younger years, as well knowing they are then fittest to undergo
   them. And why do they not act with the same consistency in the grand
   affair of religion? Because, as our Savior has told us, "The children
   of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.

   But, Secondly, If pure and undefiled religion consists in the renewal
   of our corrupted natures, then it is not only a work of difficulty,
   but, the perfection of it, of time.

   And if this be the case, then it highly concerns every one to set about
   it betimes, and to "work their work while it is day, before the night
   cometh, when no man can work."

   Could we, indeed, live to the age of Methuselah, and had but little
   business to employ ourselves in, we might then be more excusable, if we
   made no other use of this world, than what too many do, take our
   pastime therein: but since our lives are so very short, and we are
   called to work our salvation with fear and trembling, we have no room
   left for trifling, lest we should be snatched away while our lamps are
   untrimmed, and we are entirely unprepared to meet the Bridegroom.

   Did we know a friend or neighbor, who had a long journey of the utmost
   importance to make, and yet should stand all the day idle, neglecting
   to set out till the sun was about to go down, we could not but pity and
   condemn his egregious folly. And yet it is to be feared most men are
   just such fools; they have a long journey to take, nay, a journey to
   eternity, a journey of infinite importance, and which they are obliged
   to dispatch before the sun of their natural life be gone down; and yet
   they loiter away the time allotted them to perform their journey in,
   till sickness or death surprises them; and then they cry out, "What
   shall we do to inherit eternal life?" But leaving such to the mercies
   of God in Christ, who can call at the eleventh hour, I pass on to

   The Second general thing proposed, To show the advantages that will
   arise from remembering our Creator in the days of our youth; which may
   serve as so many motives to excite and quicken all persons immediately
   to set about it.

   And the First benefit resulting from thence is, that it will bring most
   honor and glory to God. This, I suppose, every serious person will
   grant, ought to be the point in which our actions should center; for to
   this end were we born, and to this end were we redeemed by the precious
   blood of Jesus Christ, that we should promote God's eternal glory. And
   as the glory of God is most advanced by paying obedience to his
   precepts, they that begin soonest to walk in his ways, act most to his
   glory. The common objection against the divine laws in general, and the
   doctrines of the gospel in particular, is, they are not practicable;
   that they are contrary to flesh and blood; and that all those precepts
   concerning self-denial, renunciation of and deadness to the world, are
   but so many arbitrary restraints imposed upon human nature: but when we
   see mere striplings not only practicing, but delighting in such
   religious duties, and in the days of their youth, when, if ever, they
   have a relish for sensual pleasures, subduing and despising the lust of
   the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life; this, this is
   pleasing to God; this vindicates his injured honor; this shows that his
   service is perfect freedom, "that his yoke is easy, and his burden
   light."

   But, Secondly, as an early piety redounds most to the honor o God, so
   it will bring most honor to ourselves: for those that honor God, God
   will honor. We find it, therefore, remarked to the praise of Obadiah,
   that he served the Lord from his youth: of Samuel, that he stood, when
   young, before God in a linen ephod: of Timothy, that from a child he
   had known the holy scriptures: of St. John, that he was the youngest
   and most beloved disciple: and of our blessed Lord himself, that at
   twelve years old he went up to the temple, and sat among the doctors,
   both hearing and asking them questions.

   Nor, Thirdly, will an early piety afford us less comfort than honor,
   not only because it renders religion habitual to us, but also because
   it gives us a well-grounded assurance of the sincerity of our
   profession. Was there no other argument against a death-bed repentance,
   but the unsatisfactoriness and anxiety of such a state, that should be
   sufficient to deter all thinking persons from deferring the most
   important business of their life to such a dreadful period of it. For
   supposing a man to be sincere in his profession of repentance on a
   death-bed (which, in most cases, is very much to be doubted) yet, he is
   often afraid lest his convictions and remorse proceed not from a true
   sorrow for sin, but a servile fear of punishment. But one, who is a
   young saint, need fear no such perplexity; he knows that he loves God
   for his own sake, and is not driven to him by a dread of impending
   evil; he does not decline the gratifications of sense, because he can
   no longer "hear the voice of singing men and singing women;" but
   willingly takes up his cross, and follows his blessed Master in his
   youth, and therefore has reason to expect greater confidence of his
   sincerity towards God. But further, as an early piety assures the heart
   of its sincerity, so, likewise, it brings its present reward with it,
   as it renders religion and its duties habitual and easy. A young saint,
   were you to ask him, would joyfully tell you the unspeakable comfort of
   beginning to be religious betimes: as for his part, he knows not what
   men mean by talking of mortification, self-denial, and retirement, as
   hard and rigorous duties; for he has so accustomed himself to them,
   that, by the grace of God, they are now become even natural, and he
   takes infinitely more pleasure in practicing the severest precepts of
   the gospel, than a luxurious Dives in a bed of state, or an ambitious
   Haman at a royal banquet. And O how happy must that youth be, whose
   duty is become a second nature, and to whom those things, which seem
   terrible to others, are grown both easy and delightful!

   But the greatest advantage of an early piety is still behind, Fourthly,
   It lays in the best provision of comfort and support against such time
   as we shall stand most in need thereof, viz. All times of our
   tribulation, and in particular, against the time of old age, the hour
   of death, and the day of judgment.

   This is the argument the wise man makes use of in the words immediately
   following the text: "Remember now your Creator in the days of thy
   youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, wherein
   thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." Observe, the time of old
   age, is an evil time, years wherein there is no pleasure: and ask those
   that are grown old, and they will inform you so. Cordials surely, then,
   must be exceeding proper to support our drooping spirits: and O what
   cordial comparable to the recollection of early piety, depending wholly
   on the righteousness of Christ? When the eyes, like Isaac's, are grown
   dim with age; when "the keepers of the house, the hands, shall
   tremble," as the wise man goes on to describe the infirmities of old
   age; when "the strong men bow themselves," or the legs grow feeble; and
   the "grinders," the tooth, shall cease to do their proper office,
   because they are few; for a person then to hear the precepts of the
   gospel read over to him, and to be able to lay his hand on his heart,
   and to say sincerely, notwithstanding a consciousness of numberless
   short-comings, "All these have I endeavored, through grace, to keep
   from my youth:" this must give him, through Christ who worketh all,
   comfort that I want words to express and thoughts to conceive. But,
   supposing it was possible for us to escape the inconveniences of old
   age, yet still death is a debt, since the fall, we all must pay; and,
   what is worse, it generally comes attended with such dreadful
   circumstances, that it will make even a Felix to tremble. But as for
   the godly, that have been enabled to serve the Lord from their youth,
   it is not usually so with them; no, they have faith given them to look
   upon death, not as a king of terrors, but as a welcome messenger, that
   is come to conduct them to their wished-for home. All the days of their
   appointed time have they waited, and it has been the business of their
   whole lives to study to prepare themselves for the coming of their
   great change; and, therefore, they rejoice to hear they are called to
   meet the heavenly Bridegroom. Thus dies the early pious, whose "path
   has been as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the
   perfect day." But follow him beyond the grave, and see with what an
   holy triumph he enters into his Master's joy; with what an humble
   boldness he stands at the dreadful tribunal of Jesus Christ; and can
   you then forbear to cry out, "Let me die the death of the righteous,
   and let my latter end, and future state, be like his?"

   Need I then, after having shown so many advantages to arise from an
   early piety, use any more arguments to persuade the younger part of
   this audience, to whom, in the Third and last place, I address myself,
   to "remember their Creator in the days of their youth?"

   What! Will not all the arguments I have mentioned, prevail with them to
   leave their husks, and return home to eat of the fatted calf? What!
   Will they thus requite our Savior's love? That be far from them! Did he
   come down and shed his precious blood to deliver them from the power of
   sin; and will they spend their youthful strength and vigor in the
   service of it, and then think to serve Christ, when they can follow
   their lusts no longer? Is it fit, that many, who are endowed with
   excellent gifts, and are thereby qualified to be supports and ornaments
   of our sinking church, should, notwithstanding, forget the God who gave
   them, and employ them in things that will not profit? O why will they
   not arise, and, like so many Phineas's, be zealous for the Lord of
   Hosts? Doubtless, when death overtakes them, they will wish they had:
   and what hinders them, but that they begin now? Think you that any one
   yet ever repented that he began to be religious too soon? But how many,
   on the contrary, have repented that they began when almost too late?
   May we not well imagine, that young Samuel now rejoices that he waited
   so soon at the tabernacle of the Lord? Or young Timothy, that from a
   child he knew the holy scriptures? And if you wish to be partakers of
   their joy, let me persuade you to be partakers of their piety.

   I could still go on to fill my mouth with arguments; but the
   circumstances and piety of those amongst whom I am now preaching "the
   kingdom of God," remind me to change my style; and, instead of urging
   any more dissuasives from sin, to fill up what is behind of this
   discourse, with encouragements to persevere in holiness.

   Blessed, for ever blessed be the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus
   Christ, I am not speaking to persons inflamed with youthful lusts, but
   to a multitude of young professors, who by frequently assembling
   together, and forming themselves into religious societies, are, I hope
   on good ground, in a ready way to be of the number of those "young men,
   who have overcome the wicked-one."

   Believe me, it gladdens my very soul, to see so many of your faces set
   heaven-wards, and the visible happy effects of your uniting together,
   cannot but rejoice the hearts of all sincere Christians, and oblige
   them to wish you good luck in the name of the Lord. The many souls who
   are nourished weekly with the spiritual body and blood of Jesus Christ,
   by your means; the weekly and monthly lectures that are preached by
   your contributions; the daily incense of thanksgiving and prayer which
   is publicly sent up to the throne of grace by your subscriptions; the
   many children which are trained up "in the nurture and admonition of
   the Lord," by your charities; and, lastly, the commendable and pious
   zeal you exert in promoting and encouraging divine psalmody, are such
   plain and apparent proofs of the benefit of your religious societies,
   that they call for a public acknowledgment of praise and thanksgiving
   to our blessed Master, who has not only put into your hearts such good
   designs, but enabled you also to bring the same to good effect.

   It is true it has been object, "That young men forming themselves into
   religious societies, has a tendency to make them spiritually proud, and
   to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think." And,
   perhaps, the imprudent, imperious behavior of some novices in religion,
   who, "though they went out from you, were not of you," may have given
   too much occasion for such as aspersion.

   But you, brethren, have not so learned Christ. Far, far be it from you
   to look upon yourselves, as righteous, and despise others, because you
   often assemble yourselves together. No; this, instead of creating
   pride, ought to beget an holy fear in your hearts, lest your practice
   should not correspond with your profession, and that, after you have
   benefited and edified others, you yourselves should become cast-aways.

   Worldly-mindedness, my brethren, is another rock against which we are
   in danger of splitting. For, if other sins have slain their thousands
   of professing Christians, this has slain its ten thousands. I need not
   appeal to past ages; your own experience, no doubt, has furnished you
   with many unhappy instances of young men, who, "after (as one would
   have imagined) they had escaped the pollutions which are in the world
   through lust," and "had tasted the good word of life," and endured for
   a season, whilst under the tuition and inspection of others; yet, when
   they have come to be their own masters, through a want of faith, and
   through too great an earnestness in "laboring for the meat which
   perisheth," have cast off their first love, been again entangled with
   the world, and "returned like the dog to his vomit, and like the sow
   that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire." You would, therefore,
   do well, my brethren, frequently to remind each other of this dangerous
   snare, and to exhort one another to begin, pursue, and end your
   Christian warfare, in a thorough renunciation of the world, and worldly
   tempers; so that, when you are obliged by Providence to provide for
   yourselves, and those of your respective households, you may continue
   to walk by faith, and still "seek first the kingdom of God, and his
   righteousness;" not doubting, but all other things, upon your honest
   industry and endeavors, shall be added unto you.

   And now, what shall I say more? To speak unto you, fathers, who have
   been in Christ so many years before me, and know the malignity of
   worldly- mindedness, and pride in the spiritual life, would be
   altogether needless. To you, therefore, O young men, (for whom I am
   distressed, for whom I fear as well as for myself) do I once more
   address myself, in the words of the beloved disciple, "Look to
   yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but
   receive a full reward." Be ever mindful, then, of the words that have
   been spoken to us by the apostles of the Lord and Savior, "Give
   diligence to make your calling and election sure. Beware, lest ye also
   being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own
   steadfastness. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he
   fall. Be not high-minded, but fear. But we are persuaded better things
   of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For
   God is not unrighteous, to forget your works and labor of love. And we
   desire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full
   assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers
   of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises." It is
   true, we have many difficulties to encounter, many powerful enemies to
   overcome, ere we can get possession of the promised land. we have an
   artful devil, and ensnaring world, and above all, the treachery of our
   own hearts, to withstand and strive against. "For straight is the gate,
   and narrow is the way that leadeth unto eternal life." But wherefore
   should we fear, since he that is with us is far more powerful, than all
   who are against us? Have we not already experienced his almighty power,
   in enabling us to conquer some difficulties which seemed as
   insurmountable then, as those we struggle with now? And cannot he, who
   delivered us out of the paws of those bears and lions, preserve us also
   from being hurt by the strongest Goliath?

   "Be steadfast therefore, my brethren, be immovable." Be not "ashamed of
   the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation." Fear
   not man; fear not the contempt and revilings which you must meet with
   in the way of duty; for one of you shall chase a thousand; and two of
   you put ten thousand of your enemies to flight. And if you will be
   contented, through grace, to suffer for a short time here; I speak the
   truth in Christ, I lie not; then may ye hope, according to the blessed
   word of promise, that ye shall be exalted to sit down with the Son of
   Man, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, with his holy
   angels, to judgment hereafter. May Almighty God give every one of us
   such a measure of his grace, that we may not be of the number of those
   that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe and endure unto
   the end, to the saving of our souls, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

   Which God, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

                         Christ the Believer's Husband

   Isaiah 54:5 -- "For thy Maker is thy Husband."

   Although believers by nature, are far from God, and children of wrath,
   even as others, yet it is amazing to think how nigh they are brought to
   him again by the blood of Jesus Christ. Eye hath not seen, nor ear
   heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of any man living, fully
   to conceive, the nearness and dearness of that relation, in which they
   stand to their common head. He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
   Behold, says the blessed Jesus in the days of his flesh, "my mother and
   my brethren." And again after his resurrection, "go tell my brethren."
   Nay sometimes he is pleased to term believers his friends. "Henceforth
   call I you no longer servants, but friends." "Our friend Lazarus
   sleepeth." And what is a friend? Why there is a friend that is nearer
   than a brother, nay as near as one's own soul. And "thy friend, (says
   God in the book of Deuteronomy) which is as thy own soul." Kind and
   endearing applications these, that undoubtedly bespeak a very near and
   ineffably intimate union between the Lord Jesus and the true living
   members of his mystical body! But, methinks, the words of our text
   point out to us a relation, which not only comprehends, but in respect
   to nearness and dearness , exceeds all other relations whatsoever. I
   mean that of a Husband, "For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of
   Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of
   the whole earth shall he be called."

   These words were originally spoken to the people of the Jews,
   considered collectively as a peculiar people, whom our Lord had
   betrothed and married to himself; and they seem to be spoken, when
   religion was on the decline among their churches; when they had, in a
   great measure, lost that life and power, which they once experienced;
   and their enemies began to insult them with a "where is now your God?"
   Such a state of things must undoubtedly be very afflicting to the true
   mourners in Zion; and put them upon crying unto the Lord, in this their
   deep distress. He hears their prayer, his bowels yearn towards them;
   and in the preceding verse, he assures them, that though the enemy had
   broken in upon them like a flood, yet their extremity should be his
   opportunity to lift up a standard against him. "Fear not, (says the
   great Head and King of his church) for thou shalt not be ashamed
   (finally or totally); neither be thou confounded, (dissipated or
   dejected, giving up all for gone, as though thou never shouldst see
   better days, or another revival of religion) for thou shalt not
   (entirely) be put to shame;" though for a while, for thy humiliation,
   and the greater confusion of thy adversaries, I suffer them to triumph
   over thee: "For thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not
   remember the reproach of thy widow-hood any more;" i.e. I will
   vouchsafe you such another glorious gale of my blessed Spirit, that you
   shall quite forget your former troubled widow-state, and give your
   enemies no more occasion to insult you, on account of your
   infant-condition, but rather to envy you, and gnash their teeth, and
   melt away at the sight of your un-thought-of glory and prosperity. And
   why will the infinitely great and condescending Jesus deal thus with
   his people? Because the church is his spouse; "For, (as in the words
   just now read to you) thy Maker is thy husband; thy Redeemer, the Holy
   One of Israel;" and therefore he loves them too well, to let thy
   enemies always trample thee under foot. "The Lord of Hosts is his name,
   the God of the whole earth shall he be called;" and therefore he is
   armed with sufficient power to relieve his oppressed people, and over
   come and avenge himself of all their haughty and insulting foes.

   This seems to be the prime and genuine interpretation of the text and
   context, especially if we add, that they may have a further view to the
   latter-day glory, and that blesses state of the church, which the
   people of God have been looking for in all ages, and the speedy
   approach of which, we undoubtedly pray for, when we put up that
   petition of our Lord's, "thy kingdom come."

   But, though the words were originally spoken to the Jews, yet they are
   undoubtedly applicable to all believers in all ages, and, when enlarged
   on in a proper manner, will afford us suitable matter of discourse both
   for sinners and for saints; for such as know God, as well as for such
   who know him not; and likewise for those, who once walked in the light
   of his blessed countenance, but are now backslidden from him, have
   their harps hung upon the willows, and are afraid that their beloved is
   gone, and will return to their souls no more. Accordingly, without
   prefacing this discourse any further, as I suppose that a mixed
   multitude of saints, unconverted sinners, and backsliders, are present
   here this day, I shall endeavor to speak from the words of the text,
   that each may have a proper portion, and none be went empty away.

   In prosecuting this design, I will,

   I. Endeavor to show, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our souls
   before we can say, "that our Maker is our husband."

   II. The duties of love which they owe to our Lord, who stand in so near
   a relation to him,

   III. The miserable condition of such as cannot yet say "their Maker is
   their husband." And

   IV. I shall conclude with a general exhortation to all such unhappy
   souls, to come and match with the dear Lord Jesus. And O! may that God
   who blessed Abraham's servant, when he went out to seek a wife for his
   son Isaac, bless me, even me also, now I am come, I trust, relying on
   divine strength, to invite poor sinners, and recall backsliders, to my
   Master Jesus!

   And First, I am to show, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our
   souls before we can say, "Our Maker is our husband."

   But before I proceed to this, it may not be improper to observe, that
   if any of you, amongst whom I am now preaching the kingdom of God, are
   enemies to inward religion, and explode the doctrine of inward
   feelings, as enthusiasm, cant and nonsense, I shall not be surprised,
   if your hearts rise against me whilst I am preaching; for I am about to
   discourse on true, vital, internal piety; and an inspired apostle hath
   told us, "that the natural man discerneth not the things of the spirit,
   because they are spiritually discerned." But, however, be noble as the
   Bereans were; search the Scriptures as they did; lay aside prejudice;
   hear like Nathaniel, with a true Israelitish ear; be willing to do the
   will of God; and then you shall according to the promise of our dearest
   Lord, "know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak
   of myself."

   I would further observe, that if any here do expect fine preaching from
   me this day, they will, in all probability, go away disappointed. For I
   came not here to shoot over people's heads; but, if the Lord shall be
   pleased to bless me, to reach their hearts. Accordingly, I shall
   endeavor to clothe my ideas in such plain language, that the meanest
   negro or servant, if God is pleased to give a hearing ear, may
   understand me; for I am certain, if the poor and unlearned can
   comprehend, the learned and rich must.

   This being premised, proceed we to show what must pass between Jesus
   Christ and our souls, before we can say, "our Maker is our husband."

   Now, that we may discourse more pertinently and intelligibly upon this
   point, it may not be amiss to consider, what is necessary to be done,
   before a marriage between two parties amongst ourselves, can be said to
   be valid in the sight of God and men. And that will lead us in a
   familiar way, to show what must be done, or what must pass between us
   and Jesus Christ, before we can say, "our Maker is our husband."

   And First, in all lawful marriages, it is absolutely necessary, that
   the parties to be joined together in that holy and honorable estate,
   are actually and legally freed from all pre-engagements whatsoever. "A
   woman is bound to her husband, (saith the apostle) so long as her
   husband liveth." The same law holds good in respect to the man. And so
   likewise, if either party be betrothed and promised, though not
   actually married to another, the marriage is not lawful, till that
   pre-engagement and promise be fairly and mutually dissolved. Now, it is
   just thus between us and the Lord Jesus. For, we are all by nature born
   under, and wedded to the law, as a covenant of works. Hence it is that
   we are so fond of, and artfully go about, in order to establish a
   righteousness of our own. It is as natural for us to do this, as it is
   to breathe. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, even after the covenant of
   grace was revealed to them in that promise, "the seed of the woman
   shall bruise the serpent's head," reached out their hands, and would
   again have taken hold of the tree of life, which they had forfeited,
   had not God drove them our of paradise, and compelled them, as it were,
   to be saved by grace. And thus all their descendants naturally run to,
   and want to be saved, partly at least, if not wholly, by their works.
   And even gracious souls, who are inwardly renewed, so far as the old
   man abides in them, find a strong propensity this way. Hence it is,
   that natural men are generally so fond of Arminian principles. "Do and
   live," is the native language of a proud, self-righteous heart. But
   before we can say, "our Maker is our husband," we must be delivered
   from our old husband the law; we must renounce our own righteousness,
   our own doings and performances, in point of dependence, whether in
   whole or part, as dung and dross, for the excellency of the knowledge
   of Christ Jesus our Lord. For thus speaks the apostle Paul to the
   Romans, chapter 7:4, "Ye also are become dead to the law (as a covenant
   of works) by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another,
   even to him, who is raised from the dead." As he also speaketh in
   another place, "I have espoused you, as a chaste virgin to Jesus
   Christ." This was the apostle's own case. Whilst he depended on his
   being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and thought himself secure, because, as
   to the outward observation of the law, he was blameless; he was an
   entire stranger to the divine life: but when he began to experience the
   power of Jesus Christ's resurrection, we find him, in his epistle to
   the Philippians, absolutely renouncing all his external privileges, and
   all his Pharisaical righteousness; "Yes, doubtless, and I count all
   things but loss, nay but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in
   him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that
   which is through the faith of Jesus Christ, the righteousness which is
   of God by faith." And thus it must be with is. Ere we can say, "our
   Maker is our husband." Though we may not be wrought upon in that
   extraordinary way in which the apostle was, yet we must be dead to the
   law, we must be espoused as chaste virgins to Jesus Christ, and count
   all external privileges, and our most splendid performances (as was
   before observed) only "ad dung and dross, for the excellency of the
   knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord."

   But further; before a marriage among us can stand good in law, both
   parties must not only be freed from all pre-engagements, but there must
   be a mutual consent on both sides. We are not used to marry people
   against their wills. This is what the Jews called betrothing, or
   espousing, a thing previous to the solemnity of marriage. Thus we find,
   the Virgin Mary is said to be espoused to Joseph, before they actually
   came together, Matt. 1:18. And thus it is among us. Both parties are
   previously agreed, and, as it were, espoused to each other, before we
   publish, what we call the banns of marriage concerning them. And so it
   will be in the spiritual marriage, between Jesus Christ and our souls.
   Before we are actually married or united to him by faith; or, to keep
   to the terms of the text, before we assuredly can say, that "our Maker
   is our husband," we must be made willing people in the day of God's
   power, we must be sweetly and effectually persuaded by the Holy Spirit
   of God, that the glorious Emanuel is willing to accept of us, just as
   we are, and also that we are willing to accept of him upon his own
   terms, yea, upon any terms. And when once it comes to this, the
   spiritual marriage goes on apace, and there is but one thing lacking to
   make it complete. And what is that? An actual union.

   From what has been delivered, may not the poorest and most illiterate
   person here present easily know whether or not he is really married to
   Jesus Christ. Some indeed, I am afraid, are so presumptuous as to
   affirm, as least to insinuate, that there is no such thing as knowing,
   or being fully assured, whilst here below, whether we are in Christ or
   not. Or at least, if there be such a thing, it is very rare, or was
   only the privilege of the primitive believers. Part of this is true,
   and part of this absolutely false. That this glorious privilege of a
   full assurance is very rare, is too, too true. And so it is equally too
   true, that real Christians, comparatively speaking, are very rare also.
   But that there is no such thing, or that this was only the privilege of
   the first followers of our blessed Lord, is directly opposite to the
   word of God. "We know (says St. John, speaking of believers in general)
   that we are his, by the spirit which he hath given us;" and, "He that
   believeth hath the witness of himself;" "because you are sons (saith
   St. Paul) God hath sent forth his Spirit into your hearts, even the
   spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Not that I dare
   affirm, that there is no real Christian, but what has this full
   assurance of faith, and clearly knows, that his Maker is his husband.
   In speaking thus, I should undoubtedly condemn some of the generation
   of God's dear children, who through the prevalence of unbelief,
   indwelling sin, spiritual sloth, or it may be, for want of being
   informed of the privileges of believers, may walk in darkness, and see
   no light; therefore, though I dare not affirm, that a full assurance of
   faith is absolutely necessary for the very being, yet I dare assert,
   that it is absolutely necessary, for the well being of a Christian. And
   for my own part, I cannot conceive, how any persons, that pretend to
   Christianity, can rest satisfied or contented without it. This is
   stopping short, on this side Jordan, with a witness. And gives others
   too much reason to suspect, that such persons, however high their
   profession may be, have, as yet, no true saving grace at all.

   Men, whose hearts are set on this world's goods, or, to use our Lord's
   language, "the children of this world," act not so. I suppose there is
   scarce a single merchant in this great congregation, especially in
   these troublous times, that will venture out either his ship or cargo,
   without first insuring, both against the violence of an enemy, or a
   storm. And I suppose there is scarce a single house, of any
   considerable value, in any populous town or city, but the owner has
   taken out a policy from the fire- office, to unsure it, in case of
   fire. And can I be so irrational as to think, that there is such a
   thing as securing my goods, and my house, and that there is no such
   thing as insuring, what is infinitely more valuable, my precious and
   immortal soul? Or if there be such a thing, as undoubtedly there is,
   what foolishness of folly must it needs be in men, that pretend to be
   men of parts, of good sense, and solid reasoning, to be so anxious to
   secure their ships against a storm, and their houses against a fire,
   and at the same time, not to be unspeakably more solicitous, to take a
   policy out of the assurance-office of heaven; even the soul and witness
   of the blessed Spirit of God, to insure their souls against that storm
   of divine wrath, and that vengeance of eternal fire, which will at the
   last decisive day come upon all those, who know not God, and have not
   obeyed his gracious gospel? To affirm therefore, that there is no such
   thing as knowing, that "our Maker is our husband;" or that it was a
   privilege peculiar to the first Christians, to speak in the mildest
   terms, is both irrational and unscriptural. Not that all who can say,
   their Maker is their husband, can give the same clear and distinct
   account of the time, manner and means of their being spiritually united
   and married by faith, to the blessed bridegroom of the church. Some
   there may be now, as well as formerly, sanctified from the womb. And
   others in their infancy and non-age, as it were silently converted.
   Such perhaps may say, with a little Scotch maiden, now with God, when I
   asked her, whether Jesus Christ had taken away her old heart, and given
   her a new one? "Sir, it may be, (said she,) I cannot directly tell you
   the time and place, but this I know, it is done." And indeed it is not
   so very material, though no doubt it is very satisfactory, if we cannot
   relate all the minute and particular circumstances, that attended our
   conversion; if so be we are truly converted now, and can say, the work
   is done, and that, "our Maker is our husband." And I question, whether
   there is one single adult believer, now on earth, who lived before
   conversion, either in a course of secret or open sin, but can, in a
   good degree, give an account of the beginning and progress of a work of
   grace in his heart.

   What think ye? Need I tell my married persons in this congregation,
   that they must go to the university, and learn the languages, before
   they can tell whether they are married or not? Or, if their marriage
   was to be doubted, could they not, think you, bring their certificates,
   to certify the time and place of their marriage; and the minister that
   joined them together in that holy state? And if you are adult, and are
   indeed married to Jesus Christ, though you may be unlearned, and what
   the world terms illiterate men, cannot you tell me the rise and
   progress, and consummation of the spiritual marriage, between Jesus
   Christ and your souls? Know you not the time, when you were first under
   the drawings of the Father, and Jesus began to woo you for himself?
   Tell me, O man, tell me, O woman, knowest thou not the time, or at
   least, knowest thou not, that there was a time, when the blessed Spirit
   of God stripped thee of the fig-leaves of thy own righteousness, hunted
   thee out of the trees of the garden of they performances, forced thee
   from the embraces of thy old husband the law, and made thee to abhor
   thy own righteousness, as so many filthy rags? Canst thou not remember,
   when, after a long struggle with unbelief, Jesus appeared to thee, as
   altogether lovely, mighty and willing to save? And canst thou not
   reflect upon a season, when thy own stubborn heart was made to bend;
   and thou wast made willing to embrace him, as freely offered to thee in
   the everlasting gospel? And canst thou not, with pleasure unspeakable,
   reflect on some happy period, some certain point of time, in which a
   sacred something (perhaps thou could it not then well tell what) did
   captivate, and fill thy heart, so that thou could say, in a rapture of
   holy surprise, and ecstasy of divine love, "My Lord and my God! My
   beloved is mine, and I am his; I know that my Redeemer liveth;" or, to
   keep to the words of our text, "My Maker is my husband." Surely, amidst
   this great and solemn assembly, there are many that can answer these
   questions in the affirmative. For these are transactions, not easily to
   be forgotten; and the day of our espousals is, generally, a very
   remarkable day; a day to be had in everlasting remembrance.

   And can any of you indeed, upon good grounds say, that your Maker is
   your husband? May I not then (as it is customary to wish persons joy
   who are just entered into the marriage state) congratulate you upon
   your happy change, and wish you joy, with all my heart? Sure am I that
   there was joy in heaven on the day of your espousals: and why should
   not the blessed news occasion joy on earth? May I not address you in
   the language of our Lord to the women that came to visit his sepulcher,
   "All hail!" for ye are highly favored. Blessed are ye among men,
   blessed are ye among women! All generations shall call you blessed.
   What! "is your Maker your husband? The holy on of Israel your
   Redeemer?" Sing, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth! What an amazing stoop
   is this! What a new thing has God created on the earth! Do not your
   hearts, O believers, burn within you, when meditating on this
   unspeakable condescension of the high and lofty one that inhabiteth
   eternity? Whilst you are musing, does not the sacred fire of divine
   love kindle in your souls? And, out of the abundance of your hearts, do
   you not often speak with your tongues, and call upon all that is within
   you, to laud and magnify your Redeemer's holy name? Is not that
   God-exalting, self- abasing expression frequently in your mouths, "Why
   me, Lord, why me?" And are you not often constrained to break out into
   that devout exclamation of Solomon, when the glory of the Lord filled
   the temple, "And will God indeed dwell with man?" ungrateful,
   rebellious, ill, and hell-deserving man! O, my brethren, my heart is
   enlarged towards you! Tears, while I am speaking, are ready to gush
   out. But they are tears of love and joy. How shall I give it vent? How
   shall I set forth thy happiness, O believer, thou bride of God! And is
   thy Maker thy husband? Is his name "The Lord of hosts?" Whom then
   shouldst thou fear? And is thy Redeemer the holy one of Israel? The God
   of the whole earth should he be called! Of whom then shouldst thou be
   afraid? He that toucheth thee, toucheth the very apple of God's eye.
   "The very hairs of thy head are all numbered;" and "it is better that a
   man should have a millstone tied round his neck, and be drowned in the
   sea, than that he should justly offend thee."

   All hail, (I must again repeat it) thou Lamb's bride! For thou art all
   glorious within, and comely, through the comeliness thy heavenly
   bridegroom hath put upon thee. Thy garment is indeed of wrought gold;
   and, ere long, the King shall bring thee forth with a raiment of
   needle-work, and present thee blameless before his Father, without
   spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. In the mean while, well shall it
   be with you, and happy shall you be, who are married to Jesus Christ:
   for all that Christ has, is yours. "He is made of God to you, wisdom,
   righteousness, sanctification, and eternal redemption." "Whether Paul,
   or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or
   things to come; all are yours." All his attributes are engaged for your
   preservation, and all things shall work together for your good, who
   love God, and, by being thus married to the Lord Jesus, give an evident
   proof that you are called according to his purpose. What say you? When
   you meditate on these things, are you not frequently ready to cry out,
   What shall we render unto the Lord for all these mercies, which, of his
   free unmerited grace, he hath been pleased to bestow upon us? For,
   though you are dead to the law, as a covenant of works, yet you are
   alive to the law as a rule of life, and are in, or under the law (for
   either expression seems to denote the same thing) to your glorious
   husband, Jesus Christ.

   Pass we on therefore to the

   Second general head, under which I was to show, what duties of love
   they owe to Jesus Christ, who are so happy as to be able to say, "My
   Maker is my husband."

   I say, duties of love. For being now married to Jesus Christ, you work
   not for life, but from life. The love of God constrains you, so that,
   if there was no written law, or supposing Jesus would set you at
   liberty from his yoke, so far as grace prevails in your hearts, you
   would say, we love our blessed bridegroom, and will not go from him.

   And what does the Lord require of you? That we may speak on this head
   as plainly as may be, we shall pursue the method we began with; and, by
   carrying on the allegory, and examining what is required of truly
   Christian wives, under the gospel, infer what our Lord may justly
   demand of those who are united to him by faith, and can therefore say,
   "our Maker is our husband."

   And here let us go to the law and to the testimony. What says the
   scripture? "Let the wife see that she reverence her "husband." It is,
   no doubt, the duty of married women to think highly of their husbands.
   From whom may husbands justly command respect, if not from their wives?
   The apostle's expression is emphatic. "Let the wife see that she
   reverence her husband;" thereby implying, that women, some of them at
   least, are too prone to disrespect their husbands; as Michal, Saul's
   daughter, despised David in her heart, when she tauntingly said, 2 Sam.
   6:20, "How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered
   himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of
   the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself."

   This is a source and fountain, from whence many domestic evils
   frequently flow. Women should remember the character that husbands
   sustain in scripture. The are to them, what Christ is to the church.
   And it is mentioned to the honor of Sarah, that she called Abraham
   "Lord." "Shall I have a child who am old, my Lord being old also?" It
   is remarkable, there are but two good words in that whole sentence, "my
   Lord," (for all the others are the language of unbelief) and yet those
   two words the Holy Ghost mentions to her eternal honor, and buries, as
   it were, the rest in oblivion. "Even as Sarah (says St. Peter) obeyed
   Abraham, calling him Lord." An evident proof how pleasing it is in the
   sight of God, for women in the married state to reverence and respect
   their husbands. Not that husbands therefore should lord it over their
   wives, or require too much respect at their hands. This would be
   unchristian, as well as ungenerous, indeed. They ought rather, as God
   has taken such care to keep up their authority, commanding their wives
   to reverence and respect them; they ought, I say, to be doubly careful,
   that they live so holy and unblameable, as to lay their wives under no
   temptation to despise them. But to return from this digression. Does
   the apostle say, "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband?" May
   I not pertinently apply this caution to you who are married to Jesus
   Christ? See to it that you reverence and respect your husband. I say,
   see to it. For the devil will be often suggesting to you hard and mean
   thoughts against your husband. It was thus he beset our mother Eve,
   even in a state of innocence. He would fain persuade her to entertain
   hard thoughts of her glorious benefactor, "What, has God said, ye shall
   not eat of the trees of the garden?" Has he been so cruel to put you
   here in a beautiful garden only to vex and tease you? This he made use
   of as an inlet to all his succeeding insinuations. And this trade he is
   still pursuing, and will be pursuing to the very end of time. Besides,
   in the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ has no form or comeliness that
   they should desire him; and therefore, unless you "watch and pray," you
   will be led into temptation, and not keep up such high thoughts of your
   blessed Jesus as he justly deserves. In this you can never exceed.
   Women, perhaps may sometimes think too highly of, and, through excess
   of love, idolize their earthly comforts. But it is impossible for you
   to think too highly of your heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.

   Farther, what says the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians?
   Speaking of the marriage state, he says, "The wife is the glory of her
   husband;" as though he had said, a Christian wife should so behave, and
   so walk, as to be a credit to her husband. As Abigail was an honor to
   Nabal, and by her sweet deportment made up, in some degree, for her
   husband's churlishness. This is to be a help-meet indeed. Such a woman
   will be praised in the gate; and her husband get glory, and meet with
   respect on her account. And ought a woman to be the glory of her
   husband? How much more ought you, that are the Lamb's bride, so to
   live, and so to walk, as to bring glory, and gain respect, to the cause
   and interest of your husband Jesus? This is what the apostle everywhere
   supposes, when he would draw a parallel between a temporal and
   spiritual marriage. "The woman, is the glory of her husband, even as
   the church is the glory of Christ." Agreeable to this, he tells the
   Corinthians, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to
   the glory of God;" and as he also speaks to the Thessalonians, 1 Thess.
   2:11-12, "As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every
   one of you (as a father doth his children) that you would walk worthy
   of God who hath called you to his kingdom, and his glory." What an
   expression is here! "That you would walk worthy of God." O! how ought
   this, and such like texts, to stir up your pure minds, O believers, so
   to have your conversation in this world, that you may be what the
   apostle says some particular persons were, even "the glory of Christ."
   You are his glory; he rejoices over you with singing; and you should so
   walk, that all who know and hear of you, may glorify Christ in you.

   Subjection, is another duty, that is enjoined married women, in the
   word of God. They are to "be subject to their own husbands in every
   thing." Every lawful thing: "For, the husband is the head of the wife,
   even as Christ is the head of the church." And knowing how inapt some
   base minds would be to submit to the husband's authority, he takes care
   to enforce this duty of subjection by many cogent and powerful
   arguments." "For Adam was first made, and not Eve. Neither was the man
   made for the woman, but the woman for the man." And again, "The man was
   not first in the transgression, but the woman." Upon which accounts,
   subjection was imposed on her as part of her punishment. "Thy desire
   (says God) shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule (though not
   tyrannize) over thee." So then, to use the words of pious Mr. Henry,
   those who attempt to usurp authority over their husbands, not only
   contradict a divine command, but thwart a divine curse. And if women
   are to be subject to their own husbands in every thing, how much more
   ought believers, whether men or women, to be subject to Jesus Christ:
   for he is the head of the church. He has bought her by his blood.
   Believers therefore are not their own, but are under the highest
   obligations to glorify and obey Jesus Christ, in their bodies and their
   souls, which are his. Add to this, that his service, as it is admirably
   expressed in one of our collects, is perfect freedom. His commandments
   holy, just, and good. And therefore it is your highest privilege, O
   believers, to submit to, and obey them. Earthly husbands may be so mean
   as to impose some things upon their wives, merely to show their
   authority; but it is not so with Jesus Christ. He can and does impose
   nothing, but what immediately conduces to our present, as well as
   future good. In doing, nay, in suffering for Jesus Christ, there is a
   present unspeakable reward. And therefore I may say to believers, as
   the blessed Virgin said to the servants at the marriage in Cana,
   "Whatsoever he says unto you, do it." "For his yoke is easy, and his
   burden is light." And I believe it might easily be proved in a few
   minutes, that all the disorders which are now in the world, whether in
   church or state, are owing to a want of being universally, unanimously,
   cheerfully, and perseveringly conformed to the laws and example of our
   Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

   Again, faithfulness in the marriage state, is strictly enjoined in the
   scriptures of truth. "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed
   undefiled. But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Nay,
   adultery is an iniquity to be punished by the earthly judges; it
   dissolves the marriage relation. "For the man has not power over his
   own body, but the woman; neither has the woman power over her own body,
   but the man." The heathens themselves have been taught this by the
   light of nature; and adultery, among some of them, is punished with
   immediate death. And ought married persons to be thus careful to keep
   the marriage-bed undefiled, how carefully then ought believers to keep
   their souls chaste, pure, and undefiled, now they are espoused to Jesus
   Christ? For there is such a thing as spiritual adultery; "O ye
   adulterers and adulteresses," saith St. James. And God frequently
   complains of his people's playing the harlot. Hence it is, that St.
   John, in the most endearing manner, exhorts believers to "keep
   themselves from idols." For the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh,
   and pride of life, are always ready to steal away our hearts from Jesus
   Christ. And every time we place our affections upon any thing more than
   Christ, we do undoubtedly commit spiritual adultery. For we admit a
   creature to rival the Creator, who is God over all, blessed for
   evermore. "Little children, therefore, keep yourselves from idols."

   But it is time for me to draw towards the close of this head.
   Fruitfulness was a blessing promised by God to the first happy pair;
   "Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth." "Lo, children, and
   the fruit of the womb, (says the Psalmist) are a gift and heritage,
   which cometh of the Lord." And so, if we are married to Jesus Christ,
   we must be fruitful. In what? In every good word and work: for this
   speaks the Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans: "Wherefore, my
   brethren, ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ,
   that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from
   the dead." What follows? "That we should bring forth fruit unto God."
   Glorious words, and proper to be considered in a peculiar manner, by
   such who would explode the doctrine of free justification, as an
   Antinomian doctrine, and as though it destroyed good works. No; it
   establishes, and lays a solid foundation, whereon to build the
   superstructure of good works. Titus is therefore commanded to "exhort
   believers to be careful to maintain good works." And "herein (says our
   Lord) is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit. Let your
   light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
   glorify your Father which is in heaven;" with a multitude of passages
   to the same purpose.

   Moreover, it is required of wives, that they not only love and
   reverence their husbands, but that they also love and respect their
   husband's friends. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall not
   only reverence the bridegroom, but we shall also love and honor the
   bridegroom's friends. "By this, shall all men know that ye are my
   disciples, if ye love one another." "By this we know, (says the beloved
   disciple) that we have passed from death to life because we love the
   brethren." Observe, the brethren, indefinitely; of whatever
   denomination. And this love must be "without dissimulation, and with a
   pure heart fervently." This was the case of the primitive Christians.
   They were all of one heart, and of one mind. It was said of them (O
   that it could be said of us!) "See how these Christians love one
   another!" They were of the same spirit as a good woman of Scotland was,
   who, when she saw a great multitude, as is customary in the country,
   coming from various parts to receive the blessed sacrament, saluted
   them with a "Come in, ye blessed of the Lord, I have an house that will
   hold an hundred of you, and a heart that will hold ten thousand." Let
   us go and do likewise.

   Once more. Persons that are married, take one another for better or for
   worse, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish each other in
   sickness and in health. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall
   be willing to bear his cross, as well as to wear his crown. "If any man
   will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow
   me." Neither will they be compelled to do this, as Simon of Cyrene was,
   but they will be volunteers in his service; they will cry out, Crown
   him, crown him, when others are crying out, "Crucify him, crucify him."
   They will never leave or forsake him, but willingly follow the Captain
   of their salvation, though it be through a sea of blood.

   I might run the parallel still further, and also enlarge upon the hints
   already given; but I fear I have said enough already to reproach most
   believers; I am sure I have said more than enough to abash and upbraid
   myself. For alas! how vilely, treacherously, and ungratefully have we
   behaved towards our spiritual husband, the dear Lord Jesus, ever since
   the day of our espousals? Had our friends, or even the wives of our own
   bosoms, behaved to us as we have behaved to our great and best friend,
   our glorious husband, we should have broken off our friendship, and
   sued for a bill of divorcement long ago. Under our first love, what
   promises did we make to him? But how frowardly have we behaved
   ourselves in this covenant? How little have we reverenced him? How
   often has our Beloved been no more to us than another beloved? How
   little have we lived to his glory? Have we not been a shame and
   reproach to his gospel? Have we not crucified him afresh, and has he
   not been sorely wounded in the house of his friends? Nay, has not his
   holy name been blasphemed through our means? For alas! how little have
   we obeyed him? How careless and indifferent have we been, whether we
   pleased him or not? We have often said, indeed, when commanded by him
   to go work in his vineyard, We go, Lord; but alas! we went not. Or if
   we did go, with what reluctance has it been? How unwilling to watch
   with our dear Lord and Master, only one hour? And of his sabbaths, how
   often have we said, What weariness is this? As for our adulteries, and
   spiritual fornications, how frequent, how aggravated have they been?
   Have not idols of all sorts, been suffered to fill up the room of the
   ever-blessed Jesus in our hearts? You that love him in sincerity, will
   not be offended if I tell you, that the 16th chapter of Ezekiel gives,
   in my opinion, a lively description of our behavior towards our Lord.
   We were, like base-born children, cast out in the field to the loathing
   of our persons: no eye pitied or had compassion on us. Jesus passed by,
   saw us polluted in our own blood, and said unto us, "Live," i.e.
   preserved us, even in our natural state, from death. And when his time
   of love was come, he spread the skirt of his imputed righteousness over
   us, and covered the nakedness of our souls, entered into covenant with
   us, and we became his. He washed us also with water, even in the laver
   of regeneration, and thoroughly washed us by his precious blood, from
   the guild of all our sins. He clothed us also with broidered work, and
   decked us with ornaments, even with righteousness, and peace, and joy
   in the Holy Ghost. We did eat fine flour and honey at his ordinances,
   and we fed on Jesus Christ in our hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
   In short, we were made exceeding beautiful, and the kingdom of God was
   erected in our hearts. We were renowned among our neighbors for our
   love to God, and all that know us took knowledge of us, that we had
   been with Jesus. But alas! how have we fallen, who were once sons of
   the morning! How have we trusted in our own beauty, have grown
   spiritually proud, and provoked our patient and unspeakably
   long-suffering Lord to anger? Where is that ardent love we spoke of,
   when we told him, that, though we should die for him, we would not deny
   him in any wise? How desperately wicked, and deceitful above all
   things, have we proved our hearts to be, since we have done all these
   things, even the work of an imperious woman? These are great and
   numerous charges; but great and numerous as they are, there is not a
   single believer here present, but, if he knows his own heart, may plead
   guilty to some, or all of them. But this is a tender point: I see you
   concerned: your tears, O believers, are a proof of the anguish of your
   souls. And can any of us give any reason, why Jesus Christ should not
   give us a bill of divorcement, and put us away? May he not justly speak
   to us as he did to his adulteress Israel, in the aforementioned 16th of
   Ezekiel, "Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord; I will judge
   thee as women that break wedlock, and shed blood, are judged. I will
   give thee blood in fury and jealousy, because thou hast not remembered
   the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things. Behold,
   therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon thy head. I will even
   deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath, in
   breaking the covenant, the marriage contract that was between us."
   This, I am persuaded, you will confess to be the treatment which we all
   most justly deserve. But be not overwhelmed with over-much sorrow: for
   though the Lord our God is a jealous God, and will certainly visit our
   offenses with a rod, and our backslidings with a spiritual scourge, yet
   his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from us, nor suffer his
   truth to fail. Though we have changed, yet he changeth not: He abideth
   faithful: his loving-kindness abideth for evermore. Hark! how sweetly
   he speaks to his backsliding people of old; "O Israel, thou hast
   destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help. I will heal their
   backsliding, and love them freely." And in the verses immediately
   following the words of the text, how comfortably does he address his
   espoused people! "In a little wrath, I hid my face from thee for a
   moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith
   the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for
   as I have sworn, that the waters of Noah should no more go over the
   earth; so have I sworn, that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke
   thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my
   kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my
   peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." O that this
   goodness may lead us to repentance! O that this unparalleled, infinite,
   unchangeable love, may constrain us to an universal, uniform, cheerful,
   unanimous, persevering obedience to all the commands of God!

   Brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you, and I could dwell a long
   while upon the many great and precious invitations that are made to
   backsliders, to return to their first love, and do their first works:
   but it is high time for me, if, as was proposed,

   III. I give to every one their proper portion; to speak to those poor
   souls, who know nothing of this blessed Bridegroom of the church, and
   consequently cannot say, "My Maker is my husband."

   Ah! I pity you from my inmost soul; I could weep over, and for you,
   though perhaps you will not weep for yourselves. But surely you would
   weep, and howl too, did you know the miserable condition those are in,
   who are not married to Jesus Christ. Will you give me leave (I think I
   speak it in much love) to inform you, that if you are not married to
   Jesus Christ, you are married to the law, the world, the flesh, and the
   devil, neither of which can make you happy; but all, on the contrary,
   concur to make you miserable. Hear ye not, ye that are married to the
   law, and seek to be justified in the sight of God, partly, at least, if
   not wholly, by your own works, what the law saith to those that are
   under it, as a covenant of works? "Cursed is every one that continueth
   not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them."
   Every word breathes threatening and slaughter to poor fallen creatures.
   Cursed, both here and hereafter, be this man, and every one, naturally
   engendered of the offspring of Adam, without exception, that continueth
   not, even to the very end of life, in all things; not only in some, or
   many, but in all things, that are written in the book of the law, to do
   them, in the utmost perfection; for "he that offendeth in one point, is
   guilty of all." So that, according to the tenor of the covenant of
   works, whosoever is guilty of one wicked thought, word, or action, is
   under the curse of an angry sin- avenging God. "For a many as are under
   the law, are under the curse." And do you know what it is to be under
   the curse of God, and to have the wrath of God abide upon you? If you
   did, I believe you would not be so unwilling to be divorced from the
   law, and be espoused, as chaste virgins, to Jesus Christ.

   And why are ye so wedded to the world? Did it ever prove faithful or
   satisfactory to any of its votaries? Has not Solomon reckoned up the
   sum total of worldly happiness? And what does it amount to? "Vanity,
   vanity, saith the preacher, all is vanity," nay he adds, "and vexation
   of spirit." And has not a greater than Solomon informed us, that a
   man's life, the happiness of a man's life, doth not consist in the
   things which he possesseth? Besides, "know ye not that the friendship
   of this world is enmity with God; so that whosoever will be a friend to
   the world, (to the corrupt customs and vices of it) is an enemy of
   God?" And what better reasons can you give for being wedded to your
   lusts? Might not the poor slaves in the galleys, as reasonably be
   wedded to their chains? For do not your lusts fetter down your souls
   from God? Do they not lord it, and have they not dominion over you? Do
   not they say, Come, and ye come; Go, and ye go; Do this, and ye do it?
   And is not he or she that liveth in pleasure, dead, whilst he liveth?
   And above all, how can ye bear the thoughts of being wedded to the
   devil, as every natural man is: for thus speaks the scripture, "He now
   ruleth in the children of disobedience." And how can ye bear to be
   ruled by one, who is such a professed open enemy to the most high and
   holy God? Who will make a drudge of you, whilst you live, and be your
   companion in endless and extreme torment, after you are dead? For thus
   will our Lord say to those on the left hand, "Depart from me, ye
   cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
   But,

   IV. Will you permit me, O sinners, that I may draw towards a close of
   this discourse, to propose a better match to your souls. This is a part
   of the discourse which I long to come to, it being my heart's desire,
   and earnest prayer to God, that your souls may be saved. "And now, O
   Lord God Almighty, thou Father of mercies, and God of all consolations,
   thou God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast promised to give
   thy Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the
   earth for his possession, send me good speed this day. O Lord, send me
   now prosperity. Behold, I stand here without the camp, bearing a little
   of thy dear Son's sacred reproach! Hear me, O Lord, hear me, and
   according to thy word, let thy dear, thine only begotten Son, see of
   the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! O help me so to speak, that
   many may believe on, and cleave unto thy blessed, thine holy child
   Jesus!

   But who am I, that I should undertake to recommend the blessed Jesus to
   others, who am myself altogether unworthy to take his sacred name into
   my polluted lips? Indeed, my brethren, I do not count myself worthy of
   such an honor; but since it has pleased him, in whom all fullness
   dwells, to count me worthy, and put me into the ministry, the very
   stones would cry out against me, did I not attempt, at least, to lisp
   out his praise, and earnestly recommend the ever-blessed Jesus to the
   choice of all.

   Thus Abraham's faithful servant behaved, when sent out to fetch a wife
   for his master Isaac. He spake of the riches and honors, which God had
   conferred on him; but what infinitely greater honors and riches, has
   the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, conferred on his only Son, to
   whom I now invite every Christless sinner! To you, therefore, I call, O
   ye sons of men, assuring you, there is everything in Jesus that your
   hearts can desire, or hunger and thirst after. Do people in disposing
   of themselves or their children in marriage, generally covet to be
   matched with persons of great names? Let this consideration serve as a
   motive to stir you up to match with Jesus. For God the Father has given
   him a name above every name; he has upon his vesture, and upon his
   thigh, a name written, "The King of kings, and the Lord of lords;" and
   herein the text we are told, "The Lord of Hosts is his name." Nor has
   he an empty title, but power equivalent; for he is a prince, as well as
   savior. "All power is given unto him, both in heaven and on earth;"
   "The God of the while earth, (says our text) he shall be called." The
   government of men, of the church, and of devils, is put upon his
   shoulders: "Thrones, principalities and powers, are made subject unto
   him; by him kings reign, and princes decree justice; he setteth up one,
   and putteth down another: and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
   Will riches be an inducement unto you to come and match with Jesus? Why
   then, I can tell you, the riches of Jesus are infinite: for unto me,
   who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I
   should preach to poor sinners, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.
   I appeal to you that are his saints, whether you have not found this
   true, by happy experience; and though some of you, may have been
   acquainted with him thirty, forty, fifty years ago, do you not find his
   riches are yet unsearchable, and as much past finding out, as they were
   the very first moment in which you gave him your hearts?

   Would you match with a wise husband? Haste then, sinners, come away to
   Jesus: He is the fountain of wisdom, and makes all that come unto him,
   wise unto salvation: "He is the wisdom of the Father: the Lord
   possessed him in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
   When he prepared the heavens, he was there; when he appointed the
   foundations of the earth, then was he with him, as one brought up with
   him; he was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." As he is
   wise, so is he holy; and therefore, in the words of our text, he is
   stiled, "The Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:" and by the angel
   Gabriel, "That holy Thing." The apostles, addressing God the Father,
   stile him his "holy child Jesus:" and the spirits of just men made
   perfect, and the angels in heaven, cease not day or night, saying,
   "Holy, holy, holy." Nor is his beauty inferior to his wisdom or
   holiness; the seraphs veil their faces, when they appear before him:
   "He is the chiefest among ten thousand, nay, he is altogether lovely."
   And, as he is altogether lovely, so is he altogether loving: his name
   and his nature is Love. God, God in Christ is love: love in the
   abstract. And in this has he manifested his love, in that, whilst we
   were yet sinners, may open enemies, Jesus, in his own due time, died
   for the ungodly. He loved us so as to give himself for us. O what
   manner of love is this! What was Jacob's love to Rachel, in comparison
   of the love which Jesus bore to a perishing world! He became a curse
   for us. For it is written, "Cursed is every man that hangeth upon a
   tree." What Zipporah said to her husband improperly, Jesus may say
   properly to his spouse the church, "A bloody wife hast thou been to me,
   because of the crucifixion." For he has purchased her with his own
   blood. And having once loved his people, he loves them unto the end.
   His love, like himself, is from everlasting to everlasting. He hates
   putting away: though we change, yet he changeth not: he abideth
   faithful. When we are married here, there comes in that shocking
   clause, t use the words of holy Mr. Boston, "Till death us doth part:"
   but death itself shall not separate a true believer from the love of
   God, which is in Christ Jesus his Lord: for he will never cease loving
   his Bride, till he has loved her to heaven, and presented her before
   his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Nay, his love
   will, as it were, but be beginning, through the endless ages of
   eternity.

   And now, Sirs, what say you? Shall I put that question to you, which
   Rebecca's relations, upon a proposal of marriage, put to her? "Will ye
   go with the man?" With the God-man, this infinitely great, this
   infinitely powerful, this all-wise, all-holy, altogether lovely,
   ever-loving Jesus? What objection have you to make against such a
   gracious offer? One would imagine, you had not a single one; but it is
   to be feared, through the prevalency of unbelief, and the corruption of
   your desperately wicked deceitful hearts, you are ready to urge
   several. Methinks I hear some of you say within yourselves, "We like
   the proposal, but alas! we are poor." Are you so? If that be all, you
   may, notwithstanding, be welcome to Jesus: "For has not God chosen the
   poor of this world, to make them rich in faith, and heirs of his
   everlasting kingdom?" And what says that Savior, to whom I am now
   inviting you? "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for there is the kingdom
   of heaven." And what says his Apostle concerning him? "Though he was
   rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty
   might be made rich. But say you, "We are not only poor, but we are in
   debt; we owe God ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay;" but
   that need not keep you back: for God the Father, from the Lord Jesus,
   his dearly beloved Son, has received double for all believers sins: the
   blood of Jesus cleanseth from them all. But you are blind, and
   miserable, and naked; to whom then should you fly for succor, but to
   Jesus, who came to open the eyes of the blind, to seek and save the
   miserable and lost, and clothe the naked with his perfect and spotless
   righteousness. And now, what can hinder your espousals with the dear
   and ever-blessed Lamb of God? I know but of one thing, that dreadful
   sin of unbelief. But this is my comfort, Jesus died for unbelief, as
   well as for other sins, and has promised to send down the Holy Spirit
   to convince the world of this sin in particular: "If I go not away, the
   Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go away, I will send the
   Comforter, and he will convince the world of son." What sin? of
   unbelief; "because they believe not on me." O that this promise may be
   so fulfilled in your hearts, and Jesus may so become the author of
   divine faith in your souls, that you may be able to send me the same
   message as a good woman in Scotland, on her dying bed, sent me by a
   friend: "Tell him, (says she) for his comfort, that at such a time he
   married me to the Lord Jesus." This would be comfort indeed. Not that
   we can marry you to Christ: No; the Holy Ghost must tie the marriage
   knot. But such honor have all God's ministers; under him they espouse
   poor sinners to Jesus Christ. "I have espoused you (says St. Paul) as a
   chaste virgin to Jesus Christ." O that you may say, We will go with the
   man; then will I bow my head, as Abraham's servant did, and go with joy
   and tell my Master, that he has not left his poor servant destitute
   this day: then shall I rejoice in your felicity. For I know, my Master
   will take you into the banqueting-house of his ordinances, and his
   banner over you shall be love. That this may be the happy case of you
   all, may the glorious God grant, for the sake of Jesus his dearly
   beloved Son, the glorious bridegroom of his church, to whom, with the
   Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and for
   evermore. Amen, and Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

                            The Potter and the Clay

   Jeremiah 18:1-6 -- "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord,
   saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will
   cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house,
   and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he
   made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again
   another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it]. Then the
   word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do
   with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay [is] in
   the potter's hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."

   At sundry times, and in diverse manners, God was pleased to speak to
   our fathers by the prophets, before he spoke to us in these last days
   by his Son. To Elijah, he revealed himself by a small still voice. To
   Jacob, by a dream. To Moses, he spoke face to face. Sometimes he was
   pleased to send a favorite prophet on some especial errand; and whilst
   he was thus employed, vouchsafed to give him a particular message,
   which he was ordered to deliver without reserve to all the inhabitants
   of the land. A very instructive instance of this kind we have recorded
   in the passage now read to you. The first verse informs us that it was
   a word, or message, which came immediately from the Lord to the prophet
   Jeremiah. At what time, or how the prophet was employed when it came,
   we are not told. Perhaps, whilst he was praying for those who would not
   pray for themselves. Perhaps, near the morning, when he was slumbering
   or musing on his bed. For the word came to him, saying, "Arise." And
   what must he do when risen? He must "go down to the potter's house"
   (the prophet knew where to find it) "and there (says the great Jehovah)
   I will cause thee to hear my words." Jeremiah does not confer with
   flesh and blood, he does not object that it was dark or cold, or desire
   that he might have his message given him there, but without the least
   hesitation is immediately obedient to the heavenly vision. "Then (says
   he) I went down to the potter's house, and behold he wrought a work
   upon the wheels." Just as he was entering into the house or workshop,
   the potter, it seems, had a vessel upon his wheel. And was there any
   thing so extraordinary in this, that it should be ushered in with the
   word Behold? What a dreaming visionary, or superstitious enthusiast,
   would this Jeremiah be accounted, even by many who read his prophecies
   with seeming respect, was he alive now? But this was not the first time
   Jeremiah had heard from heaven in this manner. He therefore willingly
   obeyed; and had you or I accompanied him to the potter's house, I
   believe we should have seen him silently, but intensely waiting upon
   his great and all-wise Commander, to know wherefore he sent him
   thither. Methinks I see him all attention. He takes notice, that "the
   vessel was of clay;" but as he held it in his hand, and turned round
   the wheel, in order to work it into some particular form, "it was
   marred in the hands of the potter," and consequently unfit for the use
   he before intended to put it to. And what becomes of this marred
   vessel? Being thus marred, I suppose, the potter, without the least
   imputation of injustice, might have thrown it aside, and taken up
   another piece of clay in its room. But he did not. "He made it again
   another vessel." And does the potter call a council of his domestics,
   to inquire of them what kind of vessel they would advise him to make of
   it? No, in no wise. "He made it again another vessel, as seemed good to
   the potter to make it."

   "Then," adds Jeremiah, whilst he was in the way of duty -- then --
   whilst he was mentally crying, Lord what wouldst thou have me to do?
   "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, O house of Israel,
   cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord. Behold, as the
   clay is in the hands of the potter (marred, and unfit for the first
   designed purpose) so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." At
   length, then, Jeremiah hath his sermon given to him: short, but
   popular. It was to be delivered to the whole house of Israel, princes,
   priests, and people: short, but pungent, even sharper than a two-edged
   sword. What! says the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, must I be
   denied the privilege of a common potter? May I not do what I will with
   my own? "Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hands, so are ye in
   mine hands, O house of Israel. I made and formed you into a people, and
   blessed you above any other nation under heaven: but, O Israel, thou by
   thy backslidings hast destroyed thyself. As the potter therefore might
   justly have thrown aside his marred clay, so may I justly unchurch and
   unpeople you. But what if I should come over the mountains of your
   guilt, heal your backslidings, revive my work in the midst of the
   years, and cause your latter end greatly to increase? Behold, as the
   clay is in the hands of the potter, lying at his disposal, either to be
   destroyed or formed into another vessel, so are ye in my hands, O house
   of Israel: I may either reject, and thereby ruin you, or I may revisit
   and revive you according to my own sovereign good will and pleasure,
   and who shall say unto me, what dost thou?"

   This seems to be the genuine interpretation, and primary intention of
   this beautiful part of holy writ. But waving all further inquiries
   about its primary design or meaning, I shall now proceed to show, that
   what the glorious Jehovah here says of the house of Israel in general,
   is applicable to every individual of mankind in particular. And as I
   presume this may be done, without either wire-drawing scripture on the
   one hand, or wrestling it from its original meaning on the other, not
   to detain you any longer, I shall, from the passage thus explained and
   paraphrased, deduce, and endeavor to enlarge on these two general
   heads.

   First, I shall undertake to prove, that every man naturally engendered
   of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of the all-seeing, heart-
   searching God, only as a "piece of marred clay."

   Secondly, That being thus marred, he must necessarily be renewed: and
   under this head, we shall likewise point out by whose agency this
   mighty change is to be brought about.

   These particulars being discussed, way will naturally be made for a
   short word of application.

   First, To prove that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of
   Adam, is in the sight of an all-seeing, heart-searching God, only as a
   piece of marred clay.

   Be pleased to observe, that we say every man naturally engendered of
   the offspring of Adam, or every man since the fall: for if we consider
   man as he first came out of the hands of his Maker, he was far from
   being in such melancholy circumstances. No; he was originally made
   upright; or as Moses, that sacred penman, declares, "God made him after
   his own image." Surely never was so much expressed in so few words;
   which hath often made me wonder how that great critic Longinus, who so
   justly admires the dignity and grandeur of Moses's account of the
   creation, and "God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" I
   say I have often wondered why he did not read a little further, and
   bestow as just an encomium [praise, approval, acclaim] upon this short,
   but withal inexpressibly august [noble, elegant, superb] and
   comprehensive description of the formation of man, "so God created man
   in his own image." Struck with a deep sense of such amazing goodness,
   and that he might impress yet a deeper sense of it upon our minds too,
   he immediately adds, "in the image of God made he him." A council of
   the most adorable Trinity was called on this important occasion: God
   did not say, Let there be a man, and there was a man, but God said,
   "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." This is the account
   which the lively oracles of God do give us of man in his first estate;
   but it is very remarkable, that the transition from the account of his
   creation to that of his misery, is very quick, and why? For a very good
   reason, because he soon fell from his primeval dignity; and by that
   fall, the divine image is so defaced, that he is now to be valued only
   as antiquarians value an ancient medal, merely for the sake of the
   image and superscription once stamped upon it; or of a second divine
   impress, which, through grace, it may yet receive.

   Let us take a more particular survey of him, and see whether these
   things are so or not: and first, as to his understanding. As man was
   created originally "after God in knowledge," as well as righteousness
   and true holiness, we may rationally infer, that his understanding, in
   respect to things natural, as well as divine, was of a prodigious
   extent: for he was make but a little lower than the angels, and
   consequently being like them, excellent in his understanding, he knew
   much of God, of himself, and all about him; and in this as well as
   every other respect, was, as Mr. Golter expresses it in one of his
   essays, a perfect major: but this is far from being our case now. For
   in respect to natural things, our understandings are evidently
   darkened. It is but little that we can know, and even that little
   knowledge which we can acquire, is with much weariness of the flesh,
   and we are doomed to gain it as we do our daily bread, I mean by the
   sweat of our brows.

   Men of low and narrow minds soon commence wise in their own conceits:
   and having acquired a little smattering of the learned languages, and
   made some small proficiency in the dry sciences, are easily tempted to
   look upon themselves as a head taller than their fellow mortals, and
   accordingly too, too often put forth great swelling words of vanity.
   But persons of a more exalted, and extensive reach of thought, dare not
   boast. No: they know that the greatest scholars are in the dark, in
   respect to many even of the minutest things in life: and after all
   their painful researches into the Arcana Natura, they find such an
   immense void, such an unmeasurable expanse yet to be traveled over,
   that they are obliged at last to conclude, almost with respect to every
   thing, "that they know nothing yet as they ought to know." This
   consideration, no doubt, led Socrates, when he was asked by one of his
   scholars, why the oracle pronounced him the wisest man on earth, to
   give him this judicious answer, "Perhaps it is, because I am most
   sensible of my own ignorance." Would to God, that all who call
   themselves Christians, had learned so much as this heathen! We should
   then no longer hear so many learned men, falsely so called, betray
   their ignorance by boasting of the extent of their shallow
   understanding, nor by professing themselves so wise, prove themselves
   such arrant pedantic fools.

   If we view our understandings in respect to spiritual things, we shall
   find that they are not only darkened, but become darkness itself, even
   "darkness that may be felt" by all who are not past feeling. And how
   should it be otherwise, since the infallible word of God assures us,
   that they are alienated from the light of life of God, and thereby
   naturally as incapable to judge of divine and spiritual things,
   comparatively speaking, as a man born blind is incapacitated to
   distinguish the various colors of the rainbow. "The natural man, (says
   on inspired apostle) discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God;"
   so far from it, "they are foolishness unto him;" and why? Because they
   are only to be "spiritually discerned." Hence it was, that Nicodemus,
   who was blessed with an outward and divine revelation, who was a ruler
   of the Jews, nay a master of Israel, when our Lord told him, "he must
   be born again;" appeared to be quite grappled. "How (says he) can a man
   be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's
   womb and be born? How can these things be?" Were three more absurd
   questions ever proposed by the most ignorant man alive? Or can there be
   a clearer proof of the blindness of man's understanding, in respect to
   divine, as well as natural things? Is not man then a piece of marred
   clay?

   This will appear yet more evident, if we consider the perverse bent of
   his will. Being made in the very image of God; undoubtedly before the
   fall, man had no other will but his Maker's. God's will, and Adam's,
   were than like unisons in music. There was not the least disunion, or
   discord between them. But now he hath a will, as directly contrary to
   the will of God, as light is contrary to darkness, or heaven to hell.
   We all bring into the world with us a carnal mind, which is not only an
   enemy to God, but "enmity itself, and which is therefore not subject
   unto the law of God, neither indeed can it be." A great many show much
   zeal in talking against the man of sin, and loudly (and indeed very
   justly) exclaim against the Pope for sitting in the temple, I mean the
   church of Christ, and "exalting himself above all that is called God."
   But say not within thyself, who shall go to Rome, to pull down this
   spiritual antichrist? As though there was no antichrist but what is
   without us. For know, O man, whoever thou art, an infinitely more
   dangerous antichrist, because less discerned, even self-will, fits
   daily in the temple of thy heart, exalting itself, above all that is
   called God, and obliging all its votaries to say of Christ himself,
   that Prince of peace, "we will not have this man to reign over us."
   God's people, whose spiritual senses, are exercised about spiritual
   things, and whose eyes are opened to see the abominations that are in
   their hearts, frequently feel this to their sorrow. Whether they will
   or not, this enmity from time to time bubbles up, and in spite of all
   their watchfulness and care, when they are under the pressure of some
   sharp affliction, a long desertion, or tedious night of temptation,
   they often find something within rising in rebellion against the
   all-wise disposals of divine Providence, and saying unto God their
   heavenly Father, "what dost thou?" This makes them to cry (and no
   wonder, since it constrained one of the greatest saints and apostles
   first to introduce the expression) "O wretched man that I am, who shall
   deliver me from the body of this death?" The spiritual and renewed soul
   groans thus, being burdened; but as for the natural and unawakened man,
   it is not so with him; self-will, as well as every other evil, either
   in a more latent or discernible manner, reigns in his unrenewed soul,
   and proves him, even to a demonstration to others, whether he knows, or
   will confess it himself or not, that in respect to the disorders of his
   will, as well as his understanding, man is only a piece of marred clay.

   A transient view of fallen man's affections will yet more firmly
   corroborate this melancholy truth, These, at his being first placed in
   the paradise of God, were always kept within proper bounds, fixed upon
   their proper objects, and, like so many gentle rivers, sweetly,
   spontaneously and habitually glided into their ocean, God. But now the
   scene is changed. For we are not naturally full of vile affections,
   which like a mighty and impetuous torrent carry all before them. We
   love what we should hate, and hate what we should love; we fear what we
   should hope for, and hope for what we should fear; nay, to such an
   ungovernable height do our affections sometimes rise, that though our
   judgments are convinced to the contrary, yet we will gratify our
   passions though it be at the expense of our present and eternal
   welfare. We feel a war of our affections, warring against the law of
   our minds, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin and death.
   So that video meliora proboque, deteriora foquor [latin phrase], I
   approve of better things but follow worse, is too, too often the
   practice of us all.

   I am sensible, that many are offended, when mankind are compared to
   beasts and devils. And they might have some shadow of reason for being
   so, if we asserted in a physical sense, that they were really beasts
   and really devils. For then, as I once heard a very learned prelate,
   who was objecting against this comparison, observe, "a man being a
   beast would be incapable, and being a devil, would be under an
   impossibility of being saved." But when we make use of such shocking
   comparisons, as he was pleased to term them, we would be understood
   only in a moral sense; and in so doing, we assert no more than some of
   the most holy men of God have said of themselves, and others, in the
   lively oracles many ages ago. Holy David, the man after God's own
   heart, speaking of himself, says, "so foolish was I, and as a beast
   before thee." And holy Job, speaking of man in general, says, that "he
   is born as a wild ass's colt," or take away the expletive, which as
   some think ought to be done, and then he positively asserts, that man
   is a wild ass's colt. And what says our Lord, "Ye are of your father
   the devil;" and "the whole world is said to lie in him, the wicked one,
   who now rules in the children of disobedience," that is, in all
   unrenewed souls. Our stupidity, proneness to fix our affections on the
   things of the earth, and our eagerness to make provision for the flesh,
   to fulfill the lusts thereof, evidence us to be earthly and brutes!;
   and our mental passions, anger, hatred, malice, envy, and such like,
   prove with equal strength, that we are also devilish. Both together
   conspire to evince, that in respect to his affections, as well as his
   understanding and will, man deservedly may be termed a piece of marred
   clay.

   The present blindness of natural conscience makes this appear in a yet
   more glaring light; in the soul of the first man Adam, conscience was
   no doubt the candle of the Lord, and enabled him rightly and
   instantaneously to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. And,
   blessed be God! Some remains of this are yet left; but alas, how dimly
   does it burn, and how easily and quickly is it covered, or put out and
   extinguished. I need not send you to the heathen world, to learn the
   truth of this; you all know it by experience. Was there no other
   evidence, your own consciences are instead of a thousand witnesses,
   that man, as to his natural conscience, as well as understanding, will
   and affections, is much marred clay.

   Nor does that great and boasted Diana, I mean unassisted unenlightened
   reason, less demonstrate the justness of such an assertion. Far be it
   from me to decry or exclaim against human reason. Christ himself is
   called the "Logos, the Reason;" and I believe it would not require much
   learning, or take up much time to prove, that so far and no farther
   than as we act agreeably to the laws of Christ Jesus, are we any way
   conformable to the laws of right reason. His service is therefore
   called "a reasonable service." And however his servants and followers
   may now be looked upon as fools and madmen; yet there will come a time,
   when those who despise and set themselves to oppose divine revelation,
   will find, that what they now call reason, is only reason depraved, and
   an utterly incapable, of itself, to guide us into the way of peace, or
   show the way of salvation, as the men of Sodom were to find Lot's door
   after they were struck with blindness by the angels, who came to lead
   him out of the city. The horrid and dreadful mistakes, which the most
   refined reasoners in the heathen world ran into, both as to the object,
   as well as manner of divine worship, have sufficiently demonstrated the
   weakness and depravity of human reason: nor do our modern boasters
   afford us any better proofs of the greatness of its strength, since the
   best improvement they generally make of it, is only to reason
   themselves into downright willful infidelity, and thereby reason
   themselves out of eternal salvation. Need we now any further witness,
   that man, fallen man, is altogether a piece of marred clay?

   But this is not all, we have yet more evidence to call; for do the
   blindness of our understandings, the perverseness of our will, the
   rebellion of our affections, the corruption our consciences, the
   depravity of our reason prove this charge; and does not present
   disordered frame and constitution of our bodies confirm the same also?
   Doubtless in this respect, man, in the most literal sense of the word,
   is a piece of marred clay. For God originally made him of the "dust of
   the earth." So that notwithstanding our boasting of our high pedigrees,
   and different descent, we were all originally upon a level, and a
   little red earth was the common substratum out of which we were all
   formed. Clay indeed it was, but clay wonderfully modified, even by the
   immediate hands of the Creator of heaven and earth. One therefore hath
   observed, that it is said "God built the man;" he did not form him
   rashly or hastily, but built and finished him according to the plan
   before laid down in his own eternal mind. And though, as the great God
   is without body, parts, or passions, we cannot suppose when it is said
   "God made man after his own image," that it has any reference to his
   body, yet I cannot help thinking (with Doctor South) that as the
   eternal Logos was hereafter to appear, God manifest in the flesh,
   infinite wisdom was undoubtedly exerted in forming a casket into which
   so invaluable a pearl was in the fullness of time to be deposited. Some
   of the ancients are said to have asserted, that man at the first, had
   what we call a glory shining round him; but without attempting to be
   wise above what is written, we may venture to affirm, that he had a
   glorious body, which knowing no sin, knew neither sickness nor pain.
   But now on this, as well as other accounts, he may justly be called
   Ichabod; for its primitive strength and glory are sadly departed from
   it, and like the ruins of some ancient and stately fabric, only so much
   less as to give us some faint idea of what it was when it first
   appeared in its original and perfect beauty. The apostle Paul,
   therefore, who knew how to call things by their proper names, as well
   as any man living, does not scruple to term the human body, though in
   its original constitution fearfully and wonderfully made, a "vile
   body;" vile indeed! Since it is subject to such vile diseases, put to
   such vile, yea very vile uses, and at length is to come to so vile an
   end. "For dust we are, and to dust we must return." This among other
   considerations, we may well suppose, caused the blessed Jesus to weep
   at the grave of Lazarus. He wept, not only because his friend Lazarus
   was dead, but he wept to see human nature, through man's own default,
   thus laid in ruins, by being subject unto such a dissolution, made like
   unto the beasts that perish.

   Let us here pause a while, and with our sympathizing Lord, see if we
   cannot shed a few silent tears at least, upon the same sorrowful
   occasion. Who, who is there amongst us, that upon such a melancholy
   review of man' present, real, and most deplorable depravity both in
   body and soul, can refrain from weeping over such a piece of marred
   clay? Who, who can help adopting holy David's lamentation over Saul and
   Jonathan? "How are the mighty fallen! How are they slain in their high
   places!" Originally it was not so. No, "God made man after his own
   image; in the image of God made he man." Never was there so much
   expressed in so few words. He was created after God in righteousness
   and true holiness.

   This is the account, which the sacred volume gives us of this
   interesting point. This, this is that blessed book, that book of books,
   from whence, together with an appeal to the experience of our own
   hearts, and the testimonies of all past ages, we have thought proper to
   fetch our proofs. For, after all, we must be obliged to divine
   revelation, to know what we were, what we are, and what we are to be.
   In these, as in a true glass, we may see our real and proper likeness.
   And from these only can we trace the source and fountain of all those
   innumerable evils, which like a deluge have overflowed the natural and
   moral world. If any should object against the authenticity of this
   revelation, and consequently against the doctrine this day drawn from
   thence, they do in my opinion thereby very much confirm it. For unless
   a man was very much disordered indeed, as to his understanding, will,
   affections, natural conscience, and his power of reasoning, he could
   never possibly deny such a revelation, which is founded on a
   multiplicity of infallible external evidences, hath so many internal
   evidences of a divine stamp in every page, is so suited to the common
   exigencies of all mankind, so agreeable to the experience of all men,
   and which hath been so wonderfully handed and preserved to us, hath
   been so instrumental to the convicting, converting, and comforting so
   many millions of souls, and hath stood the test of the most severe
   scrutinies, and exact criticisms of the most subtle and refined, as
   well as the most malicious and persecuting enemies, that ever lived,
   even from the beginning of time to this very day. Persons of such a
   turn of mind, I think, are rather to be prayed for, than disputed with,
   if so be this perverse wickedness of their hearts may be forgiven them:
   "They are in the very gall of bitterness, and must have their
   consciences seared as it were with a red-hot iron," and must have their
   eyes "blinded by the god of this world," otherwise they could not but
   see, and feel, and assent to the truth of this doctrine, of man's being
   universally depraved; which not only in one or two, but in one or two
   thousands, in every page, I could almost say, is written, in such
   legible characters, that runs may read. Indeed, revelation itself is
   founded upon the doctrine of the fall. Had we kept our original
   integrity, the law of God would have yet been written in our hearts,
   and thereby the want of a divine revelation, at least such as ours,
   would have been superseded; but being fallen, instead of rising in
   rebellion against God, we ought to be filled with unspeakable
   thankfulness to our all bountiful Creator, who by a few lines in his
   own books hath discovered more to us, than all the philosophers and
   most learned men in the world could, or would, have discovered, though
   they had studied to all eternity.

   I am well aware, that some who pretend to own the validity of divine
   revelation, are notwithstanding enemies to the doctrine that hath this
   day been delivered; and would fain elude the force of the proofs
   generally urged in defense of it, by saying, they only bespeak the
   corruption of particular persons, or have reference only to the heathen
   world: but such persons err, not knowing their own hearts, or the power
   of Jesus Christ: for by nature there is no difference between Jew or
   Gentile, Greek or Barbarian, bond or free. We are altogether equally
   become abominable in God's sight, all equally fallen short of the glory
   of God, and consequently all alike so many pieces of marred clay.

   How God came to suffer man to fall? how long man stood before he fell?
   And how the corruption contracted by the fall, is propagated to every
   individual of his species are questions of such an abstruse and
   critical nature, that should I undertake to answer them, would be only
   gratifying a sinful curiosity, and tempting you, as Satan tempted dour
   first parents, to eat forbidden fruit. It will much better answer the
   design of this present discourse, which is practical, to pass on

   II. To the next thing proposed, and point out to you the absolute
   necessity there is of this fallen nature's being renewed.

   This I have had all along in my eye, and on account of this, have
   purposely been so explicit on the first general head: for has
   Archimedes once said, "Give me a place where I may fix my foot, and I
   will move the world;" so without the least imputation of arrogance,
   with which, perhaps, he was justly chargeable, we may venture to say,
   grant the foregoing doctrine to be true, and then deny the necessity of
   man's being renewed who can.

   I suppose, I may take it for granted, that all of you amongst whom I am
   now preaching the kingdom of God, hope after death to go to a place
   which we call Heaven. And my heart's desire and prayer to God for you
   is, that you all may have mansions prepared for you there. But give me
   leave to tell you, were you now to see these heavens opened, and the
   angel (to use the words of the seraphic Hervey clothed with all his
   heavenly drapery, with one foot upon the earth, and another upon the
   sea; nay, were you to see and hear the angel of the everlasting
   covenant, Jesus Christ himself, proclaiming "time shall be no more,"
   and giving you all an invitation immediately to come to heaven; heaven
   would be no heaven to you, nay it would be a hell to your souls, unless
   you were first prepared for a proper enjoyment of it here on earth.
   "For what communion hath light with darkness?" Or what fellowship could
   unrenewed sons of Belial possibly keep up with the pure and immaculate
   Jesus?

   The generality of people form strange ideas of heaven. And because the
   scriptures, in condescension to the weakness of our capacities,
   describe it by images taken from earthly delights and human grandeur,
   therefore they are apt to carry their thoughts no higher, and at the
   best only form to themselves a kind of Mahomitan paradise. But permit
   me to tell you, and God grant it may sink deep into your hearts! Heaven
   is rather a state than a place; and consequently, unless you are
   previously disposed by a suitable state of mind, you could not be happy
   even in heaven itself. For what is grace but glory militant? What is
   glory but grace triumphant? This consideration made a pious author say,
   that "holiness, happiness, and heaven, were only three different words
   for one and the self-same thing." And this made the great Preston, when
   he was about to die, turn to his friends, saying, "I am changing my
   place, but not my company." He had conversed with God and good men on
   earth; he was going to keep up the same, and infinitely more refined
   communion with God, his holy angels, and the spirits of just men made
   perfect, in heaven.

   To make us meet to be blissful partakers of such heavenly company, this
   "marred clay," I mean, these depraved natures of ours, must necessarily
   undergo an universal moral change; our understandings must be
   enlightened; our wills, reason, and consciences, must be renewed; our
   affections must be drawn toward, and fixed upon things above; and
   because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, this
   corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on
   immortality. And thus old things must literally pass away, and behold
   all things, even the body as well as the faculties of the soul, must
   become new.

   This moral change is what some call, repentance, some, conversion,
   some, regeneration; choose what name you please, I only pray God, that
   we all may have the thing. The scriptures call it holiness,
   sanctification, the new creature, and our Lord calls it a "New birth,
   or being born again, or born from above." These are not barely
   figurative expressions, or the flights of eastern language, nor do they
   barely denote a relative change of state conferred on all those who are
   admitted into Christ's church by baptism; but they denote a real, moral
   change of heart and life, a real participation of the divine life in
   the soul of man. Some indeed content themselves with a figurative
   interpretation; but unless they are made to experience the power and
   efficacy thereof, by a solid living experience in their own souls, all
   their learning, all their labored criticism, will not exempt them from
   a real damnation. Christ hath said it, and Christ will stand, "Unless a
   man," learned or unlearned, high or low, though he be a master of
   Israel as Nicodemus was, unless he "be born again, he cannot see, he
   cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

   If it be inquired, who is to be the potter? And by whose agency this
   marred clay is to be formed into another vessel? Or in other words, if
   it be asked, how this great and mighty change is to be effected? I
   answer, not by the mere dint and force of moral suasion [persuasion].
   This is good in its place. And I am so far from thinking, that
   Christian preachers should not make use of rational arguments and
   motives in their sermons, that I cannot think they are fit to preach at
   all, who either cannot, or will not use them. We have the example of
   the great God himself for such a practice; "Come (says he) and let us
   reason together." And St. Paul, that prince of preachers, "reasoned of
   temperance, and righteousness, and a judgment to come." And it is
   remarkable, "that whilst he was reasoning of these things, Felix
   trembled." Nor are the most persuasive strains of holy rhetoric less
   needful for a scribe ready instructed to the kingdom of God. The
   scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, every where abound with
   them. And when can they be more properly employed, and brought forth,
   than when we are acting as ambassadors or heaven, and beseeching poor
   sinners, as in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto God. All this we
   readily grant. But at the same time, I would as soon go to yonder
   church-yard, and attempt to raise the dead carcasses, with a "come
   forth," as to preach to dead souls, did I not hope for some superior
   power to make the word effectual to the designed end. I should only be
   like a sounding brass for any saving purpose, or as a tinkling cymbal.
   Neither is this change to be wrought by the power of our own free-will.
   This is an idol every where set up, but we dare not fall down and
   worship it. "No man (says Christ) can come to me, unless the Father
   draw him." Our own free-will, if improved, may restrain us from the
   commission of many evils, and put us in the way of conversion; but,
   after exerting our utmost efforts (and we are bound in duty to exert
   them) we shall find the words of our own church article to be true,
   that "man since the fall hath no power to turn to God." No, we might as
   soon attempt to stop the ebbing and flowing of the tide, and calm the
   most tempestuous sea, as to imagine that we can subdue, or bring under
   proper regulations, our own unruly wills and affections by any strength
   inherent in ourselves.

   And therefore, that I may keep you no longer in suspense, I inform you,
   that this heavenly potter, this blessed agent, is the Almighty Spirit
   of God, the Holy Ghost, the third person in the most adorable Trinity,
   coessential with the Father and the Son. This is that Spirit, which at
   the beginning of time moved on the face of the waters, when nature lay
   in one universal chaos. This was the Spirit that overshadowed the Holy
   Virgin, before that holy thing was born of her: and this same Spirit
   must come, and move upon the chaos of our souls, before we can properly
   be called the sons of God. This is what John the Baptist calls "being
   baptized with the Holy Ghost," without which, his and all other
   baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire,
   which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray
   the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day.

   As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working
   of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long
   since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to
   God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet,
   and will abide till time itself shall be nor more. For it is he that
   sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true
   believers are said to be "born from above, to be born not of blood, nor
   of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Their
   second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It
   is, therefore, called "a creation;" but put ye on (says the apostle)
   the new man which is created" -- And how? Even as the first man was,
   "after God in righteousness and true holiness."

   These, these are the precious truths, which a scoffing world would fain
   rally or ridicule us out of. To produce this glorious change, this new
   creation, the glorious Jesus left his Father's bosom. For this he led a
   persecuted life; for this he died an ignominious and accursed death;
   for this he rose again; and for this he now sitteth at the right hand
   of his Father. All the precepts of his gospel, all his ordinances, all
   his providences, whether of an afflictive or prosperous nature, all
   divine revelation from the beginning to the end, all center in these
   two points, to show us how we are fallen, and to begin, early on, and
   complete a glorious and blessed change in our souls. This is an end
   worthy of the coming of so divine a personage. To deliver a multitude
   of souls of every nation, language and tongue, from so many moral
   evils, and to reinstate them in an incomparably more excellent
   condition than that from whence they are fallen, is an end worthy the
   shedding of such precious blood. What system of religion is there now,
   or was there ever exhibited to the world, any way to be compared to
   this? Can the deistical scheme pretend in any degree to come up to it?
   Is it not noble, rational, and truly divine? And why then will not all
   that hitherto are strangers to this blessed restoration of their fallen
   natures, (for my heart is too full to abstain any longer from an
   application) why will you any longer dispute or stand out against it?
   Why will you not rather bring your clay to this heavenly Potter, and
   say from your inmost souls, "Turn us, O good Lord, and so shall we be
   turned?" This, you may and can do: and if you go thus far, who knows
   but that this very day, yea this very hour, the heavenly Potter may
   take you in hand, and make you vessels of honor fit for the Redeemer's
   use? Others that were once as far from the kingdom of God as you are,
   have been partakers of this blessedness. What a wretched creature was
   Mary Magdalene? And yet out of her Jesus Christ cast seven devils. Nay,
   he appeared to her first, after he rose from the dead, and she became
   as it were an apostle to the very apostles. What a covetous creature
   was Zaccheus? He was a griping cheating publican; and yet, perhaps, in
   one quarter of an hour's time, his heart is enlarged, and he made quite
   willing to give half of his goods to feed the poor. And to mention no
   more, what a cruel person was Paul. He was a persecutor, a blasphemer,
   injurious; one that breathed out threatenings against the disciples of
   the Lord, and made havoc of the church of Christ. And yet what a
   wonderful turn did he meet with, as he was journeying to Damascus? From
   a persecutor, he became a preacher; was afterwards made a spiritual
   father to thousands, and now probably sits nearest the Lord Jesus
   Christ in glory. And why all this? That he might be made an example to
   them that should hereafter believe. O then believe, repent; I beseech
   you, believe the gospel. Indeed, it is glad tidings, even tidings of
   great joy. You will then no longer have any thing to say against the
   doctrine of Original Sin; or charge the Almighty foolishly, for
   suffering our first parents to be prevailed on to eat such sour grapes,
   and permitting thereby their children's teeth to be set on edge. You
   will then no longer cry out against the doctrine of the New Birth, as
   enthusiasm, or brand the assertors of such blessed truths with the
   opprobrious names of fools and madmen. Having felt, you will then
   believe; having believed, you will therefore speak; and instead of
   being vessels of wrath, and growing harder and harder in hell fire,
   like vessels in a potter's oven, you will be made vessels of honor, and
   be presented at the great day by Jesus, to his heavenly Father, and be
   translated to live with him as monuments of rich, free, distinguishing
   and sovereign grace, for ever and ever.

   You, that have in some degree experienced the quickening influence (for
   I must not conclude without dropping a word or two to God's children)
   you know how to pity, and therefore, I beseech you also to pray for
   those, to whose circumstances this discourse is peculiarly adapted. But
   will you be content in praying for them? Will you not see reason to
   pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you,
   and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how
   far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to
   be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of
   sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily
   expect many turns of God's providence and grace, before you will be
   wholly delivered form it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands.
   He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith.
   Yet a little while, and we like him shall say "It is finished;" we
   shall bow down our heads an give up the ghost. Till then, (for to thee,
   O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in
   patience to posses our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the
   Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever
   the dispensations of thy future Will concerning us may be, Why dost
   thou deal with us thus? Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in thine
   hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy sight, only let every cross,
   ever affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping thy
   blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing
   from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of they blessed Spirit,
   we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be
   translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of
   glory hereafter, with thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed
   Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most
   due, all honor, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all
   eternity. Amen and Amen.
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                           The Lord Our Righteousness

   Jeremiah 23:6 -- "The Lord our Righteousness."

   Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the
   propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self-
   righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being
   once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have
   recourse to a covenant of works, for our everlasting salvation. And we
   have contracted such devilish pride, by our fall from God, that we
   would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of
   our own salvation. We cry out against popery, and that very justly; but
   we are all Papists, at least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by
   nature; and therefore no wonder so many natural men embrace that
   scheme. It is true, we disclaim the doctrine of merit, are ashamed
   directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as
   the Apostle excellently well observes, "we go about," we fetch a
   circuit, "to establish a righteousness of our own, and," like the
   Pharisees of old, "will not wholly submit to that righteousness which
   is of God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

   This is the sorest, though, alas! the most common evil that was ever
   yet seen under the sun. An evil, that in any age, especially in these
   dregs of time wherein we live, cannot sufficiently be inveighed
   against. For as it is with the people, so it is with the priests; and
   it is to be feared, even in those places, where once the truth as it is
   in Jesus was eminently preached, many ministers are so sadly
   degenerated from their pious ancestors, that the doctrines of grace,
   especially the personal, All-Sufficient Righteousness of Jesus, is but
   too seldom, too slightly mentioned. Hence the love of many waxeth cold;
   and I have often thought, was it possible, that this single
   consideration would be sufficient to raise our venerable forefathers
   again from their graves; who would thunder in their ears their fatal
   error.

   The righteousness of Jesus Christ is one of those great mysteries,
   which the angels desire to look into, and seems to be one of the first
   lessons that God taught men after the fall. For, what were the coats
   that God made to put on our first parents, but types of the application
   of the merits of righteousness of Jesus Christ to believers hearts? We
   are told, that those coats were made of skins of beasts; and, as beasts
   were not then food for men, we may fairly infer, that those beasts were
   slain in sacrifice, in commemoration of the great sacrifice, Jesus
   Christ, thereafter to be offered. And the skins of the beasts thus
   slain, being put on Adam and Eve, they were hereby taught how their
   nakedness was to be covered with the righteousness of the Lamb of God.

   This is it which is meant, when we are told, "Abraham believed on the
   Lord, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." In short, this is
   it of which both the law and the prophets have spoken, especially
   Jeremiah in the words of the text, "The Lord our righteousness."

   I propose, through divine grace,

   I. To consider who we are to understand by the word Lord.

   II. How the Lord is man's righteousness.

   III. I will consider some of the chief objections that are generally
   urged against this doctrine.

   IV. I shall show some very ill consequences that flow naturally from
   denying this doctrine.

   V. Shall conclude with an exhortation to all to come to Christ by
   faith, that they may be enabled to say with the prophet in the text,
   "The Lord our righteousness."

   I. I am to consider who we are to understand by the word Lord. The Lord
   our righteousness.

   If any Arians of Socinians are drawn by curiosity to hear what the
   babbler has to say, let them be ashamed of denying the divinity of that
   Lord, who has bought poor sinners with his precious blood. For the
   person mentioned in the text, under the character of the Lord, is Jesus
   Christ. Ver. 5, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will
   raise unto David a righteous branch, a king shall reign and prosper,
   and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days (ver.
   6) Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his
   name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness." By the
   righteous branch, all agree, that we are to understand Jesus Christ. He
   it is that is called the Lord in our text. If so, if there were no
   other text in the Bible to prove the divinity of Christ, this is
   sufficient: for if the word Lord may properly belong to Jesus Christ,
   he must be God. And, as you have it in the margin of your Bibles, the
   word Lord is in the original Jehovah, which is the essential title of
   God himself. Come then, ye Arians, kiss the son of God, bow down before
   him, and honor him, even as ye honor the Father. Learn of the angels,
   those morning-stars, and worship him as truly God: for otherwise you
   are as much idolaters, as those that worship the Virgin Mary. And as
   for you Socinians, who say Christ was a mere man, and yet profess that
   he was your Savior, according to your own principles you are accursed:
   for, if Christ be a mere man, then he is only an arm of flesh: and it
   is written, "Cursed is he that trusteth on an arm of flesh." But I
   would hope, there are no such monsters here; at least, that, after
   these considerations, they would be ashamed of broaching such monstrous
   absurdities any more. For it is plain, that, by the word Lord, we are
   to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, who here takes to himself the
   title Jehovah, and therefore must be very God of very God; or, as the
   Apostle devoutly expresses it, "God blessed for evermore."

   II. How the Lord is to be man's righteousness, comes next to be
   considered.

   And that is, in one word, by Imputation. For it pleased God, after he
   had made all things by the word of his power, to create man after his
   own image. And so infinite was the condescension of the high and lofty
   One, who inhabiteth eternity, that, although he might have insisted on
   the everlasting obedience of him and his posterity; yet he was pleased
   to oblige himself, by a covenant or agreement made with his own
   creatures, upon condition of an unsinning obedience, to give them
   immortality and eternal life. For when it is said, "The day thou eatest
   thereof, thou shalt surely die;" we may fairly infer, so long as he
   continued obedient, and did not eat thereof, he should surely live. The
   3rd of Genesis gives us a full, but mournful account, how our first
   parents broke this covenant, and thereby stood in need of a better
   righteousness than their own, in order to procure their future
   acceptance with God. For what must they do? They were as much under a
   covenant of works as ever. And though, after their disobedience, they
   were without strength; yet they were obliged not only to do, but
   continue to do all things, and that too in the most perfect manner,
   which the Lord had required of them: and not only so, but to make
   satisfaction to God's infinitely offended justice, for the breach they
   had already been guilty of. Here then opens the amazing scene of Divine
   Philanthropy; I mean, God's love to man. For behold, what man could not
   do, Jesus Christ, the son of his Father's love, undertakes to do for
   him. And that God might be just in justifying the ungodly, though "he
   was in the form of God, and therefore thought it no robbery to be equal
   with God; yet he took upon him the form of a servant," even human
   nature. In that nature he obeyed, and thereby fulfilled the whole moral
   law in our stead; and also died a painful death upon the cross, and
   thereby became a curse for, or instead of, those whom the Father had
   given to him. As God, he satisfied, at the same time that he obeyed and
   suffered as man; and, being God and man in one person, he wrought out a
   full, perfect, and sufficient righteousness for all to whom it was to
   be imputed.

   Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the
   active as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. We
   generally, when talking of the merits of Christ, only mention the
   latter, -- his death; whereas, the former, -- his life and active
   obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such a Savior as becomes
   us, unless we join both together. Christ not only died, but lived, not
   only suffered, but obeyed for, or instead of, poor sinners. And both
   these jointly make up that complete righteousness, which is to be
   imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours
   by imputation. In this sense, and no other, are we to understand that
   parallel which the apostle Paul draws, in the 5th of the Romans,
   between the first and second Adam. This is what he elsewhere terms,
   "our being made the righteousness of God in him." This is the sense
   wherein the Prophet would have us to understand the words of the text;
   therefore, Jer. 33:16, "She (i.e. the church itself) shall be called,
   (having this righteousness imputed to her) The Lord our righteousness."
   A passage, I think, worthy of the profoundest meditation of all the
   sons and daughters of Abraham.

   Many are the objections which the proud hearts of fallen men are
   continually urging against this wholesome, this divine, this soul
   saving doctrine. I come now,

   III. To answer some few of those which I think the most considerable.

   And, First, they say, because they would appear friends to morality,
   "That the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is "destructive of good
   works, and leads to licentiousness."

   And who, pray, are the persons that generally urge this objection? Are
   they men full of faith, and men really concerned for good works? No;
   whatever few exceptions there may be, if there be any at all, it is
   notorious, they are generally men of corrupt minds, reprobate
   concerning the faith. The best title I can give them is, that of
   profane moralists, or moralists false so called. For I appeal to the
   experience of the present as well as past ages, if iniquity did and
   does not most abound, where the doctrine of Christ's whole personal
   righteousness is most cried down, and most seldom mentioned. Arminian
   being antichristian principles, always did, and always will lead to
   antichristian practices. And never was there a reformation brought
   about in the church, but by the preaching the doctrine of an imputed
   righteousness. This, as the man of God, Luther, calls it, is "Artienlus
   statntis out cedentis Eichlesin," the article by which the Church
   stands or falls. And though the preachers of this doctrine are
   generally branded by those on the other side, with the opprobrious
   names of Antinomians, deceivers, and what not; yet, I believe, if the
   truth of the doctrine on both sides was to be judged of by the lives of
   the preachers of professors of it, on our side the question would have
   the advantage every way.

   It is true, this, as well as every other doctrine of grace, may be
   abused. And perhaps the unchristian walk of some, who have talked of
   Christ's imputed righteousness, justification by faith, and the like,
   and yet never felt it imputed to their own souls, has given the enemies
   of the Lord thus cause to blaspheme. But this is a very unsafe, as well
   as a very unfair way of arguing. The only question should be, Whether
   or not this doctrine of an imputed righteousness, does in itself cut
   off the occasion of good works, or lean to licentiousness? To this we
   may boldly answer, In no wise. It excludes works, indeed, from being
   any cause of our justification in the sight of God; but it requires
   good works as a proof of our having this righteousness imputed to us,
   and as a declarative evidence of our justification in the sight of men.
   And then, how can the doctrine of an imputed righteousness be a
   doctrine leading to licentiousness?

   It is all calumny. The apostle Paul introduceth an infidel making this
   objection, in his epistle to the Romans; and none but infidels, that
   never felt the power of Christ's resurrection upon their souls, will
   urge it over again. And therefore, notwithstanding this objection, with
   the Prophet in the text, we may boldly say, "The Lord is our
   righteousness."

   But Satan (and no wonder that his servants imitate him) often
   transforms himself into an angel of light; and therefore, (such
   perverse things will infidelity and Arminianism make men speak) in
   order to dress their objections in the best colors, some urge, "That
   our Savior preached no such doctrine; that in his sermon on the mount,
   he mentions only morality:" and consequently the doctrine of an imputed
   righteousness falls wholly to the ground.

   But surely the men, who urge this objection, either never read, or
   never understood, our Lord's blessed discourse, wherein the doctrine of
   an imputed righteousness is so plainly taught, that he who runs, If he
   has eyes that see, may read.

   Indeed our Lord does recommend morality and good works, (as all
   faithful ministers will do) and clears the moral law from many corrupt
   glosses put upon it by the letter-learned Pharisees. But then, before
   he comes to this, tis remarkable, he talks of inward piety, such as
   poverty of spirit, meekness, holy mourning, purity of heart, especially
   hungering and thirsting after righteousness; and then recommends good
   works, as an evidence of our having his righteousness imputed to us,
   and these graces and divine tempers wrought in our hearts. "Let your
   light (that is, the divine light I before have been mentioning) shine
   before men, in a holy life; that they, seeing your good works, may
   glorify your father which is in heaven." And then he immediately adds,
   "Think not that I am come to destroy the moral law: I came not to
   destroy, (to take away the force of it as a rule of life) but to
   fulfill, (to obey it in its whole latitude, and give the complete sense
   of it.") And then he goes on to show how exceeding broad the moral law
   is. So that our Lord, instead of setting aside an imputed righteousness
   in his sermon upon the mount, not only confirms it, but also answers
   the foregoing objection urged against it, by making good works a proof
   and evidence of its being imputed to our souls. He, therefore, that
   hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Prophet says in the words of
   the text, "The Lord our righteousness."

   But as Satan not only quoted scripture, but backed one temptation after
   another with it, when he attacked Christ in the wilderness; so his
   children generally take the same method in treating his doctrine. And,
   therefore, they urge another objection against the doctrine of an
   imputed righteousness, from the example of the young man in the gospel.

   We may state it thus: "The Evangelist Mark, say they, chapter 10,
   mentions a young man that came to Christ, running, and asking him what
   he should do to inherit eternal life? Christ referred him to the
   commandments, to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. It is
   plain, therefore, works were to be, partly at least, the cause of his
   justification; and consequently the doctrine of an imputed
   righteousness is unscriptural." This is the objection in its full
   strength: and little strength in all its fullness. For, was I to prove
   the necessity of an imputed righteousness, I scarce know how I could
   bring a better instance to make it good.

   Let us take a nearer view of this young man, and of our Lord's behavior
   towards him, Mark 10:17, the Evangelist tells us, "That when Christ was
   gone forth into the way, there came one running (it should seem it was
   some nobleman; a rarity indeed to see such a one running to Christ!)
   and not only so, but he kneeled to him, (perhaps many of his rank now,
   scarce know the time when they kneeled to Christ) and asked him,
   saying, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
   Then Jesus, to see whether or not he believed him to be what he really
   was, truly and properly God, said unto him, "Why callest thou me good?
   There is none good but one, that is God." And, that he might directly
   answer his question, says he, "Thou knowest the commandments: do not
   commit adultery, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy
   father and thy mother." This was a direct answer to his question;
   namely, That eternal life was not to be attained by his doings. For our
   Lord, by referring him to the commandments, did not (as the objectors
   insinuate) in the least hint, that his morality would recommend him to
   the favor and mercy of God; but he intended thereby, to make the law
   his schoolmaster to bring him to himself; that the young man, seeing
   how he had broken every one of these commandments, might thereby be
   convinced of the insufficiency of his own, and consequently of the
   absolute necessity of looking out for a better righteousness, whereon
   he might depend for eternal life.

   This was what our Lord designed. The young man being self-righteous,
   and willing to justify himself, said, "All these have I observed from
   my youth;" but had he known himself, he would have confessed, all these
   have I broken from my youth. For, supposing he had not actually
   committed adultery, had he never lusted after a woman in his heart?
   What, if he had not really killed another, had he never been angry
   without a cause, or spoken unadvisedly with his lips? If so, by
   breaking one of the least commandments in the least degree, he became
   liable to the curse of God: for "cursed is he (saith the law) that
   continueth not to do all things that are written in this book." And
   therefore, as observed before, our Lord was so far from speaking
   against, that he treated the young man in that manner, on purpose to
   convince him of the necessity of an imputed righteousness.

   But perhaps they will reply, it is said, "Jesus beholding him, loved
   him." And what then? This he might do with a human love, and at the
   same time this young man have no interest in his blood. Thus Christ is
   said to wonder, to weep over Jerusalem, and say, "O that thou hadst
   known, Me." But such like passages are to be referred only to his human
   nature. And there is a great deal of difference between the love
   wherewith Christ loved this young man, and that wherewith he loved
   Mary, Lazarus, and their sister Martha. To illustrate this by
   comparison: A minister of the Lord Jesus Christ seeing many amiable
   dispositions, such as a readiness to hear the word, a decent behavior
   at public worship, and a life outwardly spotless in many, cannot but so
   far love them; but then there is much difference betwixt the love which
   a minister feels for such, and that divine love, that union and
   sympathy of soul, which he feels for those that he is satisfied are
   really born again of God. Apply this to our Lord's case, as a faint
   illustration of it. Consider what has been said upon the young man's
   case in general, and then, if before you were fond of this objection,
   instead of triumphing, like him you will go sorrowful away. Our
   Savior's reply to him more and more convinces us of the truth of the
   prophet's assertion in the text, that "the Lord is our righteousness."

   But there is a fourth, and a grand objection yet behind, which is taken
   from the 25th chapter of Matthew, "where our Lord is described as
   rewarding people with eternal life, because they fed the hungry,
   clothed the naked, and such-like. Their works therefore were a cause of
   their justification, consequently the doctrine of imputed righteousness
   is not agreeable to scripture."

   This, I confess, is the most plausible objection that is brought
   against the doctrine insisted on from the text; and that we may answer
   it in as clear and brief a manner as may be, we confess, with the
   Article of the Church of England, "That albeit good works do not
   justify us, yet they will follow after justification, as fruits of it;
   and though they spring from faith in Christ, and a renewed soul, they
   shall receive a reward of grace, though not of debt; and consequently
   the more we abound in such good works, the greater will be our reward
   when Jesus Christ shall come to judgment."

   Take these consideration along with us, and they will help us much to
   answer the objection now before us. For thus saith Matthew, "Then shall
   the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed children of my
   Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
   world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and
   ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye
   clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came
   unto me. I will therefore reward you, because you have done these
   things out of love to me, and hereby have evidenced yourselves to be my
   true disciples." And that the people did not depend on these good
   actions for their justification in the sight of God, is evident. "For
   when saw we thee an hungered, say they, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and
   gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in, or
   naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and
   came unto thee?" Language, and questions, quite improper for persons
   relying on their own righteousness, for acceptance and acquittance in
   the sight of God.

   But then they reply against thee: "In the latter part of the chapter,
   it is plain that Jesus Christ rejects and damns the others for not
   doing these things. And therefore, if he damns these for not doing, he
   saves those for doing; and consequently the doctrine of an imputed
   righteousness is good for nothing."

   But that is no consequence at all; for God may justly damn any man for
   omitting the least duty of the moral law, and yet in himself is not
   obliged to give to any one any reward, supposing he has done all that
   he can. We are unprofitable servants; we have not done near so much as
   it was our duty to do, must be the language of the most holy souls
   living; and therefore, from or in ourselves, cannot be justified in the
   sight of God. This was the frame of the devout souls just now referred
   to. Sensible of this, they were so far from depending on their works
   for justification in the sight of God, that they were filled, as it
   were, with a holy blushing, to think our Lord should condescend to
   mention, much more to reward them for, their poor works of faith and
   labors of love. I am persuaded their hearts would rise with a holy
   indignation against those who urge this passage, as an objection to the
   assertion of the prophet, that "the Lord is our righteousness."

   Thus, I think, we have fairly answered these grand objections, which
   are generally urged against the doctrine of an imputed righteousness.
   Was I to stop here, I think I may say, "We are made more than
   conquerors through him that loved us." But there is a way of arguing
   which I have always admired, because I have thought it always very
   convincing, by showing the absurdities that will follow from denying
   any particular proposition in dispute.

   IV. This is the next thing that was proposed. And never did greater or
   more absurdities flow from the denying any doctrine, than will flow
   from denying the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness.

   And First, if we deny this doctrine, we turn the truth, I mean the word
   of God, as much as we can, into a lie, and utterly subvert all those
   places of scripture which say that we are saved by grace; that it is
   not of works, lest any man should boast, that salvation is God's free
   gift, and that he who glorieth, must glory only in the Lord. For, if
   the whole personal righteousness of Jesus Christ be not the sole cause
   of my acceptance with God, if any work done by or foreseen in me, was
   in the least to be joined with it, or looked upon by God an in
   inducing, impulsive cause of acquitting my soul from guilt, then I have
   somewhat whereof I may glory in myself. Not boasting is excluded in the
   great work of our redemption; but that cannot be, if we are enemies to
   the doctrine of an imputed righteousness. It would be endless to
   enumerate how many texts of scripture must be false, if this doctrine
   be not true. Let it suffice to affirm in the general, that if we deny
   an imputed righteousness, we may as well deny a divine revelation all
   at once; for it is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of
   the book of God. We must either disbelieve that, or believe what the
   prophet has spoken in the text, "that the Lord is our righteousness."

   But further: I observed at the beginning of this discourse, that we are
   all Arminians and Papists by nature; for as one says, "Arminianism is
   the back way to popery." And here I venture further to affirming that
   if we deny the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, whatever we may
   stile ourselves, we are really Papists in our hearts; and deserve no
   other title from men.

   Sirs, what think you? Suppose I was to come and tell you that you must
   intercede with saints, for them to intercede with God for you; would
   you not say, I was justly reputed a papist missionary by some, and
   deservedly thrust out of thy synagogues by others? I suppose you would.
   And why? Because, you would say, the intercession of Jesus Christ was
   sufficient of itself, without the intercession of saints, and that it
   was blasphemous to join theirs with his, as though he was sufficient.

   Suppose I went a little more round about, and told you that the death
   of Christ was not sufficient, without our death being added to it; that
   you must die as well as Christ, join your death with his, and then it
   would be sufficient. Might you not then, with a holy indignation, throw
   dust in the air, and justly call me a "setter forth of strange
   doctrines?" And how then, if it be not only absurd, but blasphemous to
   join the intercession of saints with the intercession of Christ, as
   though his intercession was not sufficient; or our death with the death
   of Christ, as though his death was not sufficient: judge ye, if it be
   not equally absurd, equally blasphemous, to join our obedience, either
   wholly or in part, with the obedience of Christ, as if that was not
   sufficient. And if so, what absurdities will follow the denying that
   the Lord, both as to his active and passive obedience, is our
   righteousness?

   One more absurdity I shall mention, as following the denying this
   doctrine, and I have done.

   I remember a story of a certain prelate, who, after many arguments in
   vain urged to convince the Earl of Rochester of the invisible realities
   of another world, took his leave of his lordship with some such words
   as these: "Well, my lord, if there be no hell, I am safe; but if there
   should be such a thing as hell, what will become of you?" I apply this
   so those that oppose the doctrine now insisted on. If there be no such
   thing as the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, those who hold it,
   and bring forth fruit unto holiness, are safe; but if there be such a
   thing (as there certainly is) what will become of you that deny it? It
   is no difficult matter to determine. Your portion must be in the lake
   of fire and brimstone for ever and ever. Since you will rely upon your
   works, by your works you shall be judged. They shall be weighed in the
   balance of the sanctuary; and they will be found wanting. By your works
   therefore shall you be condemned; and you, being out of Christ, shall
   find God, to your poor wretched souls, a consuming fire.

   The great Stoddard or Northampton in New England, has therefore well
   entitled a book which he wrote (and which I would take this opportunity
   to recommend) "The Safety of appearing in the Righteousness of Christ."
   For why should I lean upon a broken reed, when I can have the rock of
   ages to stand upon, that never can be moved?

   And now, before I come to a more particular application, give me leave,
   in the apostle's language, triumphantly to cry out, "Where is the
   scribe, where the disputer?" Where is the reasoning infidel of this
   generation? Can any thing appear more reasonable, even according to
   your own way of arguing, than the doctrine here laid down? Have you not
   felt a convincing power go along with the word? Why then will you not
   believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that so he may become the Lord your
   righteousness?

   But it is time for me to come a little closer to your consciences.

   Brethren, though some may be offended at this doctrine, and may account
   it foolishness; yet, to many of you, I doubt not but it is precious, it
   being agreeable to the form of sound words, which from your infancy has
   been delivered to you; and, coming from a quarter, you would least have
   expected, may be received with more pleasure and satisfaction. But give
   me leave to ask you one question; Can you say, the Lord our
   righteousness? I say, the Lord our righteousness. For entertaining this
   doctrine in your heads, without receiving the Lord Jesus Christ
   savingly by a lively faith into your hearts, will but increase your
   damnation. As I have often told you, so I tell you again, an unapplied
   Christ is no Christ at all. Can you then, with believing Thomas, cry
   our, "My Lord and my God?" Is Christ your sanctification, as well as
   your outward righteousness? For the word righteousness, in the text,
   not only implies Christ's personal righteousness imputed to us, but
   also holiness wrought in us. These two, God has joined together. He
   never did, he never dies, he never will put them asunder. If you are
   justified by the blood, you are also sanctified by the Spirit of our
   Lord. Can you then in this sense say, The Lord our righteousness? Were
   you ever made to abhor yourselves for your actual and original sins,
   and to loathe your own righteousness; for, as the prophet beautifully
   expresses it, "your righteousness is as filthy rags? Were you ever made
   to see and admire the all-sufficiency of Christ's righteousness, and
   excited by the Spirit of God to hunger and thirst after it? Could you
   ever say, my soul is athirst for Christ, yea, even for the
   righteousness of Christ? O when shall I come to appear before the
   presence of my God in the righteousness of Christ! Nothing but Christ!
   Nothing but Christ! Give me Christ, O god, and I am satisfied! My soul
   shall praise thee for ever.

   Was this ever the language of your hearts? And, after these inward
   conflicts, were you ever enabled to reach out the arm of faith, and
   embrace the blessed Jesus in your souls, so that you could say, "my
   beloved is mine, and I am his?" If so, fear not, whoever you are. Hail,
   all hail, you happy souls! The Lord, the Lord Christ, the everlasting
   God, is your righteousness. Christ has justified you, who is he that
   condemneth you? Christ has died for you, nay rather is risen again, and
   ever liveth to make intercession for you. Being now justified by his
   grace, you have peace with God, and shall, ere long, be with Jesus in
   glory, reaping everlasting and unspeakable fruits both in body and
   soul. For there is no condemnation to those that are really in Christ
   Jesus. "Whether Paul or Apollos, or life or death, all is yours if you
   are Christ's, for Christ is God's. My brethren, my heart is enlarged
   towards you! O think of the love of Christ in dying for you! If the
   Lord be your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be
   continually in your mouth. Talk of, O talk of, and recommend the
   righteousness of Christ, when you lie down, and when you rise up, at
   your going out and coming in! Think of the greatness of the gift, as
   well as the giver! Show to all the world, in whom you have believed!
   Let all by your fruits know, that the Lord is your righteousness, and
   that you are waiting for your Lord from heaven! O study to be holy,
   even as he who has called you, and washed you in his own blood, is
   holy! Let not the righteousness of the Lord be evil spoken of through
   you. Let not Jesus be wounded in the house of his friends, but grow in
   grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, day by
   day. O think of his dying love! Let that love constrain you to
   obedience! Having much forgiven, love much. Be always asking, What
   shall I do, to express my gratitude to the Lord, for giving me his
   righteousness? Let that self-abasing, God-exalting question be always
   in your mouths; "Why me, Lord? Why me?" why am I taken, and others
   left? Why is the Lord my righteousness? Why is he become my salvation,
   who have so often deserved damnation at his hands?

   My friends, I trust I feel somewhat of a sense of God's distinguishing
   love upon my heart; therefore I must divert a little from
   congratulating you, to invite poor Christless sinners to come to him,
   and accept of his righteousness, that they may have life.

   Alas, my heart almost bleeds! What a multitude of precious souls are
   now before me! How shortly must all be ushered into eternity! And yet,
   O cutting thought! Was God now to require all your souls, how few,
   comparatively speaking, could really say, the Lord our righteousness!

   And think you, O sinner, that you will be able to stand in the day of
   judgment, if Christ be not your righteousness? No, that alone is the
   wedding garment in which you must appear. O Christless sinners, I am
   distressed for you! The desires of my soul are enlarged. O that this
   may be an accepted time! That the Lord may be your righteousness! For
   whither would you flee, if death should fine you naked? Indeed there is
   no hiding yourselves from his presence. The pitiful fig-leaves of your
   own righteousness will not cover your nakedness, when God shall call
   you to stand before him. Adam found them ineffectual, and so will you.
   O think of death! O think of judgment! Yet a little while, and time
   shall be no more; and then what will become of you, if the Lord be not
   your righteousness? Think you that Christ will spare you? No, he that
   formed you, will have no mercy on you. If you are not of Christ, if
   Christ be not your righteousness, Christ himself shall pronounce you
   damned. And can you bear to think of being damned by Christ? Can you
   bear to hear the Lord Jesus say to you, "Depart from me, ye cursed,
   into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Can you
   live, think you, in everlasting burnings? Is your flesh brass, and your
   bones iron? What if they are? Hell-fire, that fire prepared for the
   devil and his angels, will heat them through and through. And can you
   bear to depart from Christ? O that heart-piercing thought! Ask those
   holy souls, who are at any time bewailing an absent God, who walk in
   darkness, and see no light, though but a few days or hours; ask them,
   what it is to lose a light and presence of Christ? See how they seek
   him sorrowing, and go mourning after him all the day long! And, if it
   is so dreadful to lose the sensible presence of Christ only for a day,
   what must it be to be banished from him to all eternity!

   But thus it must be, if Christ be not your righteousness. For God's
   justice must be satisfied; and, unless Christ's righteousness is
   imputed and applied to you here, you must hereafter be satisfying the
   divine justice in hell-torments eternally; nay, Christ himself shall
   condemn you to that place of torment. And how cutting is that thought!
   Methinks I see poor, trembling, Christless wretches, standing before
   the bar of god, crying out, Lord, if we must be damned, let some angel,
   or some archangel, pronounce the damnatory sentence: but all in vain.
   Christ himself shall pronounce the irrevocable sentence. Knowing
   therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with
   Christ, and never rest till you can say, "the Lord our righteousness."
   Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, may, abundantly pardon you?
   Beg of God to give you faith; and, if the Lord gives you that, you will
   by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his All. You need not
   fear the greatness or number of your sins. For are you sinners? So am
   I. Are you the chief of sinners? So am I. Are you backsliding sinners?
   So am I. And yet the Lord (for ever adored be his rich, free and
   sovereign grace) the Lord is my righteousness. Come then, O young man,
   who (as I acted once myself) are playing the prodigal, and wandering
   away afar off from your heavenly Father's house, come home, come home,
   and leave your swines trough. Feed no longer on the husks of sensual
   delights: for Christ's sake arise, and come home! Your heavenly Father
   now calls you. See yonder the best robe, even the righteousness of his
   dear Son, awaits you. See it, view it again and again. Consider at how
   dear a rate it was purchased, even by the blood of God. Consider what
   great need you have of it. You are lost, undone, damned for ever,
   without it. Come then, poor, guilty prodigals, come home: indeed, I
   will not, like the elder brother in the gospel, be angry; no, I will
   rejoice with the angels in heaven. And O that God would now bow the
   heavens, and come down! Descend, O Son of God, descend; and, as thou
   hast shown in me such mercy, O let thy blessed Spirit apply thy
   righteousness to some young prodigals now before thee, and clothe their
   naked souls with thy best robe!

   But I must speak a word to you, young maidens, as well as young men. I
   see many of you adorned, as to your bodies, but are not your souls
   naked? Which of you can say, the Lord is my righteousness? Which of you
   was ever solicitous to be dressed in this robe of invaluable price, and
   without which you are no better than whited sepulchers in the sight of
   God? Let not then so many of you, young maidens, any longer forget your
   chief and only ornament. O seek for the Lord to be your righteousness,
   or otherwise burning will soon be upon you, instead of beauty!

   And what shall I say to you of a middle age, you busy merchants, you
   cumbered Martha's, who, with all your gettings, have not yet gotten the
   Lord to be your righteousness? Alas! what profit will there be of all
   your labor under the sun, if you do not secure this pearl of invaluable
   price? This one thing, so absolutely needful, that it only can stand
   you in stead, when all other things shall be taken from you. Labor
   therefore no longer so anxiously for the meat which perisheth, but
   henceforward seek for the Lord to be your righteousness, a
   righteousness that will entitle you to life everlasting. I see also
   many hoary heads here, and perhaps the most of them cannot say, the
   Lord is my righteousness. O gray-headed sinner, I could weep over you!
   Your gray hairs, which ought to be your crown, and in which perhaps you
   glory, are now your shame. You know not that the Lord is your
   righteousness: O haste then, haste ye, aged sinners, and seek an
   interest in redeeming love! Alas, you have one foot already in the
   grave, your glass is just run out, your sun is just going down, and it
   will set and leave you in an eternal darkness, unless the Lord be your
   righteousness! Flee then, O flee for your lives! Be not afraid. All
   things are possible with God. If you come, though it be at the eleventh
   hour, Christ Jesus will in no wise cast you out. Seek then for the Lord
   to be your righteousness, and beseech him to let you know, how it is
   that a man may be born again when he is old! But I must not forget the
   lambs of the flock. To feed them was one of my Lord's last commands. I
   know he will be angry with me, if I do not tell them, that the Lord may
   be their righteousness; and that of such is the kingdom of heaven. Come
   then, ye little children, come to Christ; the Lord Christ shall be your
   righteousness. Do not think, that you are too young to be converted.
   Perhaps many of you may be nine or ten years old, and yet cannot say,
   the Lord is our righteousness: which many have said, though younger
   than you. Come then, while you are young. Perhaps you may not live to
   be old. Do not stay for other people. If your fathers and mothers will
   not come to Christ, do you come without them. Let children lead them,
   and show them how the Lord may be their righteousness. Our Lord Jesus
   Christ loved little children. You are his lambs; he bids me feed you. I
   pray God make you willing betimes to take the Lord for your
   righteousness.

   Here then I could conclude; but I must not forget the poor negroes; no,
   I must not. Jesus Christ had died for them, as well as for others. Nor
   do I mention you last, because I despise your souls; but because I
   would have what I shall say, make the deeper impression upon your
   hearts. O that you would seek the Lord to be your righteousness! Who
   knows but he may be found of you? For in Jesus Christ there is neither
   male nor female, bond nor free; even you may be the children of God, if
   you believe in Jesus. Did you never read of the eunuch belonging to the
   queen of Candace? A negro like yourselves. He believed. The Lord was
   his righteousness. He was baptized. Do you also believe, and you shall
   be saved. Christ Jesus is the same now as he was yesterday, and will
   wash you in his own blood. Go home then, turn the words of the text
   into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so,
   come Lord Jesus, come quickly, into all our souls! Amen, Lord Jesus,
   Amen and Amen!
     __________________________________________________________________

           The Righteousness of Christ, an Everlasting Righteousness

   Daniel 9:24 -- "And to bring everlasting Righteousness."

   On reading these words, I cannot help addressing you in the language of
   the angels to the poor shepherds, who kept watch over their flocks by
   night, "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy," such tidings,
   that if we have ears to hear, if we have eyes to see, and if our hearts
   have indeed experienced the grace of God, must cause us to cry out with
   the Virgin Mary, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth
   rejoice in God my Savior." The words which I have read to you, are part
   of one of the most explicit revelations that was given of Jesus Christ,
   before he made his public entrance into this our world. It has been
   observed by some, and very properly too, that it is one mark of the
   divine goodness to his creatures, that he is pleased to let light come
   in gradually upon the natural world. If the sun from midnight darkness,
   was immediately to shine forth in his full meridian blaze, his great
   splendor would be apt to dazzle our eyes, and strike us blind again:
   but God is pleased to make light come gradually in, and by that means
   we are prepared to receive it. And as God is pleased to deal with the
   natural, so he has dealt with the moral, with the spiritual world. The
   Lord Jesus Christ did not appear in his full glory all at once, but as
   the sun rises gradually, so did the Lord Jesus, the Sun of
   righteousness, rise gradually upon men, with healing under his wings.
   Hence it was, that our first parents had nothing to fix their faith
   upon, but that first promise, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the
   serpent's head." And in future ages, at sundry times, and after divers
   manners, God was pleased to speak to our fathers by the prophets,
   before he spake to us in these last days by his Son; and the prophets
   that were more peculiarly dear to God, it should seem had more peculiar
   and extraordinary revelations vouchsafed to them, concerning Jesus
   Christ.

   It is plain from the accounts we have in Scripture, that the Prophet
   Daniel was one of these; he is stiled by the angel, not only a "man
   that was beloved," but a "man that was greatly beloved," or as it is in
   the margin of your bibles, "he was a man of desires," of large and
   extensive desires to promote the glory of God; he was a desirable man,
   a man that did much good in his generation, and therefore his life was
   much to be desired by those who loved God. The words which I have
   chosen for the subject of our present meditation, contain part of a
   revelation made to this man. If you look back to the beginning of this
   chapter, you will find how the good man was employed, when God was
   pleased to give him this revelation; verse 2, "In the first year of
   Darius's reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years,
   whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he
   would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Daniel
   was a great man, and withal a good man; great as he was, it seems he
   was not above reading his Bible; he made the Bible his constant study;
   for it is the Bible we are to understand by what is here termed books,
   and elsewhere, the scriptures of truth. He found, that the time for
   God's people being delivered from the captivity, was now at hand. Well,
   one would have thought, that therefore Daniel needed not to pray; but
   this, instead of retarding, quickened him in his prayers: and therefore
   we are told in the third verse, "I set my face unto the Lord God, to
   seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth, and
   ashes." It is beautifully expressed: "he set his face," as though he
   was resolved never to let his eye go off God, till God was pleased to
   give him an answer; he was resolved, Jacob-like, to wrestle with the
   Lord God, until God should be pleased to give him the desired blessing.
   We are told in the fourth verse, that "he prayed unto the Lord, and
   made confession," not only of his own sins, but the sins of his people.
   And when ye retire hence to your houses, before ye go to bed, I would
   recommend to you the reading of this prayer; every word of it bespeaks
   his exceeding concern for the public good. It would take me up too much
   time, was I to make such observations as indeed the prayer deserved; to
   bring you sooner to the words of the text, let us go forward to the
   twentieth verse, and there you will find the success that Daniel met
   with, when praying. Says he, "And whiles I [was] speaking, and praying,
   and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting
   my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God;
   Yea, whiles I [was] speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I
   had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly,
   touched me about the time of the evening oblation. The manner in which
   Daniel expressed himself, is very emphatical: "While I was speaking in
   prayer;" implying, that God suffers us, when we draw near to him by
   faith in prayer, to lay all our complaints before him; he suffers us to
   speak unto, and talk with him, as a man talketh with his friend. Daniel
   at this time too was making confession one part of his prayer; for we
   are never, never in a better frame to receive answers from above, than
   when we are humbling ourselves before the Lord. He was not only
   confessing his own sins, but he was confessing the sins of his people;
   he was praying for those, who perhaps seldom prayed for themselves;
   "while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel:" which word, by
   interpretation, signifies the strength of God; a very proper name, says
   Bishop Hall, for that angel who was to come and bring the news to the
   world, of the God of strength, the Lord Jesus Christ. This angel is
   here represented as flying, and as flying swiftly; to show us how
   willing, how unspeakably willing those blessed spirits are, to bring
   good news to men. And it is upon this account, I suppose, that we are
   taught by our Lord to pray, "that God's will may be done by us on
   earth, as it is done in heaven," that we may imitate a little of that
   alacrity and vigor, which angels employ, when they are sent on errands
   for God.

   Well, here is not only mention made of the angel's flying swiftly, but
   there is mention made of the time that he came; "He came and touched
   me, about the time of the evening oblations," that is, about three
   o'clock in the afternoon; at this time there was a sacrifice made to
   God, and this sacrifice was in a peculiar manner a type of the Lord
   Jesus, who in the evening of the world was to become a sacrifice for
   sinners. We are told in the 22nd verse, what message this angel
   delivered, "He informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I
   am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding; at the
   beginning of thy supplication, the commandment came forth, and I am
   come to show thee, for thou art greatly beloved, therefore understand
   the matter, and consider the vision." This passage, with such like
   passages of scripture, hath often comforted my soul, and may comfort
   the hearts of all God's people. There are a great many of you, perhaps,
   have prayed, and prayed again to God, and probably you do not find any
   answer given you: you pray for an enlarged heart, you pray for comfort,
   you pray for deliverance; God is pleased to withhold it for a while;
   then the devil strikes in, and says, God has shut out your prayers, God
   will never hear, God will never regard you, therefore pray no more.
   But, my dear friends, this is a mistake; a thousand years are with God
   as one day; and the Lord Jesus had bid us, "to pray always, and not
   faint." You may have had your prayers heard, the very moment they went
   out of your lips, though it may not please your God, (and it may not be
   proper for you) to let you know that they are heard. "At the beginning
   of thy supplication, the commandment went forth;" and this very angel
   some hundred years after, told Zecharias, that his prayer was heard;" a
   prayer for what? A prayer for a child: it could not be supposed that at
   the very time Zecharias was praying for a child; but his prayer he had
   put up forty years before, God was pleased to answer so long
   afterwards.

   But to proceed with Gabriel's declaration, ver. 24, Seventy years are
   determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish
   transgression, to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for
   iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." I do not intend
   to trouble you about the critical exposition of these seventy weeks;
   commentators are divided exceedingly upon this subject; some of them
   explain them one way, and some another, and perhaps we shall never know
   till the day of judgment, till the glorious day spoken of in the New
   Testament, which are right. My intention is to dwell upon this
   particular part of the angel's message, that some one person was to do
   something unspeakable for God's people, even "to bring in an
   everlasting righteousness."

   If you want to know who was the person that was to do this, look to the
   26th verse, and you will find the person mentioned, the Lord Jesus
   Christ: "after threescore and two weeks shall the Messiah be cut off,
   but not for himself:" he is the person spoken of, he was "to put an end
   to sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in
   everlasting righteousness."

   From these important words, I shall endeavor,

   First, To show you what we are to understand by the word,
   "Righteousness."

   Secondly, I shall endeavor to show you, upon what account it lay that
   the righteousness mentioned in the text, is called an "everlasting
   righteousness."

   Thirdly, I shall show, what we are to understand by "bringing it in."
   And,

   Then speak a word to saints and sinners. And while I am speaking to
   your ears, may God, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, speak to your
   hearts!

   First, To explain what we are to understand by the word,
   "righteousness." If I was to ask some people what we are to understand
   by the word, righteousness; if the person was an Arminian, or an enemy
   to the doctrine of free grace, he would answer me, it signifies what we
   commonly call moral honesty, or doing justice between man and man. And,
   indeed, in various passages of scripture, the word righteousness has no
   other meaning, at least, it bears that meaning. I suppose, we are to
   understand it in this sense, when we are told, that Paul, preaching
   before Felix, "reasoned of temperance, of righteousness, and of a
   judgment to come." Felix had been a very unrighteous and unjust man,
   and therefore, to convince him of his wickedness, to alarm his
   conscience, to put him upon seeking help in the Lord Jesus, Paul
   preached not only of temperance, (for Felix had been a very intemperate
   man) but he preached to him of righteousness, of the necessity of doing
   justice because he had been an unjust man; and he puts before him the
   judgment to come, in order to make him fly to Jesus Christ for
   deliverance from the bad consequences of that judgment; and there are
   other places of scripture, where the word righteousness may be
   understood in this sense.

   It likewise signifies inward holiness, wrought in us by the blessed
   Spirit of God. But, I believe, the word righteousness in my text
   signifies, what, I trust most, I should be glad if I could say, all who
   attend this night, will be glad to hear of: What is that? It is what
   all reformed divines, that have clear heads and clean hearts, call an
   imputed righteousness, or the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to
   be imputed to poor sinners upon their believing: and, if you ask me,
   what I mean by an imputed righteousness, not to shoot over you heads,
   but rather, if God shall be pleased to make me, to reach your hearts, I
   will tell you by the word "righteousness," I understand all that Christ
   hat done, and all that Christ hath suffered: or, to make use of the
   term generally made use of by sound divines, "Christ's active, and
   Christ's passive obedience;" put those two together, and they make up
   the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. My dear friends, thus stood
   the case between God and man: at first God made man upright. Moses
   gives us a short, but never was so full a description of the origin and
   nature of man given by any other but himself. "In the image of God made
   he man, says the sacred historian, being inspired by the Spirit of God.
   God said, and it was done; God commanded, and the world arose before
   him; "Let there be light," and instantaneously behold light appeared:
   but when that lovely, that divine, that blessed creature Man, the Lord
   of the creation, God's vicegerent was to be made; God calls a council,
   and says, "Let us make man after our own image." Now, this image is to
   be understood, no doubt, in respect of man's soul; for God being no
   corporeal substance, man could not be made after his image that way.
   Well, in this condition God made man. Adam stood as our representative.
   Adam and Eve had but one name originally, "God made man, and called
   their name Adam. God left Adam to his own free will; he was pleased to
   enter into a covenant with him, which, indeed, is an amazing instance
   of God's condescension. God might have ordered man to do so and so, and
   not made him any promise of a reward: but the great Creator was pleased
   to promise him, that if he performed an unsinning obedience, if he
   abstained from eating a particular tree, that he and his posterity
   should live forever; but if he broke that command, in the day that he
   ate thereof, he and all his prosperity were to die. Now, I verily
   believe, had you and I been there present, however some people may
   object against God's severity, in imputing Adam's sin to us; yet I
   believe, if you and I, and all the world had been present, we should
   have heartily come into this agreement. Supposing God had called the
   whole creation together, and had said, "Ye, my creatures, I have made
   here a man after my own image, I have breathed into him the breath of
   life, I have caused him to become a living soul, I have filled him with
   righteousness and true holiness; he has not the least propensity to
   sin, only he is a fallible and mutable creature; all that I desire of
   this man is, that he abstain from yonder tree; I have given to him all
   the trees of the garden, I have made him, and planted for him a garden
   with mine own right hand, I desire he may abstain from plucking yonder
   fruit! Will ye stand or fall by this m an, will ye let him be your
   representative, will ye be content that his obedience or disobedience
   be imputed to you?" If we had been all there, every one of us would
   have said, "Lord God, we will let him be our representative;" the terms
   were so easy, the improbability of his falling was so exceeding great;
   that I believe every one of us should have all put our hand to the
   covenant. And supposing us alive, and that we had agreed to that
   covenant, who is that man or woman that could find fault with God's
   imputing Adam's sin to us. Well, my friends, God made man in this
   condition; the devil envied his happiness; it is supposed by some, that
   man was made to supply the places of the fallen angels. But the devil
   envied man, and had leave to tempt him; Eve soon reached out her hand
   and plucked of the forbidden fruit, and afterwards Adam transgressed
   also; and from that very moment, to make use of Mr. Beston's words,
   "Man's name was Ichabod," the glory of the Lord departed from him. Adam
   and Eve then fell; you, and I, and all their posterity (whom they
   represented) fell in them. Mankind had but one neck; and God might have
   served mankind, as Caligula would have served Rome, according to his
   own words, "I wish it had but one neck, and I would cut it off with one
   blow." God, if he pleased, might have sent us all to hell. Here Calvin
   represents God's attributes as struggling one with another; Justice
   saying to God, seeing Justice had framed the sanction, "Is the law
   broken, damn the offender, and send him to hell." The mercy of God, his
   darling attribute, cries out, "Spare him, spare him." The wisdom of God
   contrives a way, that justice might be satisfied, and yet mercy be
   triumphant still. How was that? The Lord Jesus interposes, the
   days-man, the dear Redeemer! He saw God wielding his flaming sword, and
   his hand taking hold of vengeance; the Lord Jesus Christ saw the sword
   ready to be sheathed in the blood of the offender; when no eye could
   pity, when no angel or archangel could rescue, just as God was, as it
   were, about to give the fatal blow, just as the knife was put to the
   throat of the offender, the Son of God, the eternal Logos, says,
   "Father, spare the sinner; let him not die; Father, Father, O hold thy
   hand, withdraw thy sword, for I come to do thy will; man has broken thy
   law, and violated thy covenant: I do not deny but man deserves to be
   damned forever; but, Father, what Adam could not do, it thou wilt
   prepare me a body, I in the fullness of time will go, and die for him;
   he has broken thy law, but I will go and keep it, that thy law may be
   honored; I will give a perfect unsinning obedience to all thy
   commandments; and that thou mayst justify ungodly creatures, I will not
   only go down and obey thy law, but I will go down and bleed; I will go
   down and die: here I am; I will step in between thee and sinners, and
   be glad to have thy sword sheathed in my heart's blood for them."

   In the fullness of time descends the eternal Logos, "In the fullness of
   time God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to
   redeem them that are under the law from the curse of it, being made a
   curse for us." The Lord Jesus Christ being clothed in human nature,
   fulfilled all righteousness; he submitted to every institution of God,
   and was pleased to obey the whole moral law; and afterwards, O can we
   think of it, O can you hear of it, without a heart leaping with joy, at
   last the Lord Jesus bled and died! And when he was just expiring, just
   as he was about to bow down his head, and give up the ghost, what do ye
   think he said? He said, "It is finished!" As much as to say, "Now the
   arduous work, the difficult task I had undertaken, blessed be God, is
   not completely over; all the demands of the law are finished; now God's
   justice is satisfied; now a new and living way is opened by my blood to
   the holiest of all for poor sinners."

   So that when Christ's righteousness is here spoken of, we are to
   understand "Christ's obedience and death," all that Christ has done,
   and all that Christ has suffered for an elect world, for all that will
   believe on him. And blessed be God for this righteousness! Blessed be
   God for the epithet which in the text is put to this righteousness; it
   might be called a blessed righteousness, it might be called a glorious
   righteousness, it might be called an invaluable righteousness; but the
   angel calls it an everlasting righteousness: God give you to take the
   comfort of it!

   Secondly, I am to show, on what account, this righteousness is here
   called an everlasting righteousness; and pray why do you think is
   Christ's righteousness called an everlasting righteousness?

   I suppose it is called an everlasting righteousness,

   First, Because Christ's righteousness was intended by the great God to
   extend to mankind even from eternity. All of you know, that old love is
   the best love. When we have an old acquaintance, a friend, that has
   loved us for many years, indeed that love is sweet: though we may love
   new friends, yet when an old friend and a new friend meet together, we
   may say, that the old is better. Now this should endear God to us, to
   think that from all the ages of eternity God had thoughts of you; God
   intended the Lord Jesus Christ to save your souls and mine: hence it
   is, that God, to endear Jeremiah to him, tells him, I have love thee
   with an everlasting love. Hence it is, that the Lord Jesus when he
   calls his elect people up to heaven, says, "Come, ye blessed of my
   Father;" what follows? "receive the kingdom prepared for you;" how
   long? "from the foundation of the world." All that we receive in time;
   all the streams that come to our souls, are but so many steams flowing
   from that inexhaustible fountain, God's electing, God' s sovereign,
   God' s distinguishing, God's everlasting love; and, therefore, the
   righteousness of Jesus Christ may properly be called an everlasting
   righteousness, because God intended it from everlasting.

   Secondly, It is called an everlasting righteousness, because the
   efficacy of Christ's death took place immediately upon Adam's fall.
   Christianity, in one sense, is as old as the creation. Great Professor
   Franck, of Germany, says, "That Christ is the sum and substance of all
   righteousness." Mr. Henry observes, "That the Lord Jesus Christ is the
   treasure hid in the field of the Old Testament, under the types and
   shadows of the Mosaic dispensation." We have the Sun of Righteousness
   shining in his full meridian in the New Testament dispensation." We
   have the Sun of Righteousness shining in his full meridian in the New
   Testament dispensation. Now the righteousness of Jesus Christ, may be
   called an everlasting righteousness, because all the saints that have
   been saved, or that ever will be saved, are all saved by the
   righteousness of Christ. A great many censorious people are mighty
   inquisitive to know, what will become of the heathens, that never heard
   of Jesus Christ. I would say to such persons, as the Lord Jesus Christ
   did to another curious inquirer, "What is that to thee? Follow thou
   me." Pray, for what should you and I trouble ourselves about the
   heathens? Are not we heathens? It is too true, that we have too much of
   a heathens temper and practice with us. But why should we lost our time
   in inquiring about what will become of the heathen, and not rather
   inquire what will become of our own souls? We may be sure God will deal
   with heathens according to their light: if he has given them no
   revelation, they will not be judged by a revelation; if they have not
   had a law, they will be judged without law. But as for the Jews and
   Gentiles, who have the gospel revealed to them, however Deists may
   argue contrary to it; however they may set up reason in opposition to
   divine revelation; we may be sure none were ever saved, or will be
   saved, but by the righteousness of Christ. It was through faith in him,
   that Abel was saved; it was through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that
   Abraham was accepted, and that all the prophets of old were accepted;
   and there is none other name given under heaven, whereby we can be
   saved, but that of Christ. And therefore, since persons under the law,
   and under the gospel, are to be saved only through Christ; therefore,
   Christ's righteousness may properly be called an everlasting
   righteousness. But this is not all.

   Thirdly, The righteousness of Jesus Christ, is not only to be called an
   everlasting righteousness, because that all persons under the law and
   all persons under the gospel, are saved by it; but because the efficacy
   thereof, blessed be God for it! Is to continue till time shall be no
   more. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ! The efficacy of whose blood,
   death, and atonement, is as great and as effectual now to the salvation
   of poor sinners, as when he bowed his blessed head, and gave up the
   ghost: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;" and
   whosoever believes on him, now, whosoever comes to, and accepts of him,
   shall now see his power, shall taste of his grace, and shall be
   actually saved by him, the save as if he had been in company with those
   who saw him expiring.

   Fourthly, Christ's righteousness may be called an everlasting
   righteousness, because the benefit of it is to endure to everlasting
   life. Indeed, some people tell us, that a person may be in Christ
   today, and go to the devil tomorrow: but, blessed be God, ye have not
   so learned Christ! No, my dear friends, thanks be to God for that
   divine text, "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ
   Jesus." Though God's people may fall foully; and though many are full
   of doubts and fears, and say, "One day I shall fall by the hands of
   Saul;" however your poor souls may be harassed, yet no wicked devil,
   nor your own depraved heart, shall be able to separate you from the
   love of God: God has loved you, God has fixed his heart upon you, and
   having loved his own, he loves them unto the end. The Lord of life and
   of glory, the blessed Jesus, will never cease loving you, till he hath
   loved and brought you to heaven; when he will rejoice, and say, "Behold
   me, O my Father, and the dear children that thou hast given me; thou
   gavest them me; thine they were, I have bought them with my blood, I
   have won them with my sword and with my bow, and I now will wear them
   as so many jewels of my crown." Therefore, Jesus Christ's righteousness
   may be called an everlasting righteousness, because those who once take
   hold of, and are interested in it, shall be saved everlastingly by
   Christ: "It is God that justifies us, (says St. Paul) who is he that
   condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again." He
   gives devils the challenge, "O death, where is thy sting, O grave,
   where is thy victory? Who shall separate us from the love of God? I am
   persuaded that neither death nor life, neither principalities nor
   powers, nor any other creature, shall ever be able to separate us from
   the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Those whom God
   justifies, he also glorifies. And because Christ lives, blessed be God,
   we shall live also. I know not what you may say; but though I trust I
   have felt the grace of Christ every day for fresh strength as if I had
   never believed before: and if I was to depend upon my own faithfulness,
   and not the faithfulness of the Son of God, I am sure I should soon
   desert the Lord Jesus Christ. But glory be to God, he is faithful that
   hath promised! Glory be to God, our salvation depends not upon our own
   free will, but upon God's free grace! Here is a sure bottom; the
   believer may build upon it; let the storms blow as long and as high as
   they please, they may make the poor creature tremble, but blessed be
   God, they never shall be able to take him off the foundation; though
   they may shake him, they shall only shake off his corruption: and I
   believe all that fear God, will be glad to part with it. On all these
   accounts, Christ's righteousness may be called an everlasting
   righteousness.

   III. It is said, in my text, that Jesus was to bring it in. What are we
   to understand by his bringing it in? Our Lord's promulgating and
   proclaiming it to the world. Indeed, it was brought in under the law,
   but then it was brought in under types and shadows, and most of the
   Jews looked no further. But Jesus Christ brought life and immortality
   to light by the gospel. The light of Moses was only twilight; the light
   of the gospel, is like the sun at noon-day, shining in his full
   meridian. Therefore, Jesus Christ may be said to bring in this
   everlasting righteousness, because he proclaimed it to the world, and
   commanded it to be preached, that God sent his Son into the world, that
   the world through him might be saved.

   Again, The Lord Jesus Christ brought in this righteousness, as he
   wrought it out for sinners upon the cross. Some Antinomians, for want
   of a proper distinction, run into a grievous error, telling us, Because
   God intended to justify by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, therefore
   man is justified from all eternity: which is absurd: a person cannot be
   justified, till he is actually existing; therefore, though man is
   justified, as it lies in God's mind from all eternity, yet it was not
   actually brought in till the Lord Jesus Christ pronounced those blessed
   words, "It is finished;" the grand consummation! Then Jesus brought it
   in. A new and a living way was to be opened to the Holy of Holies, for
   poor sinners, by the blood of Christ. But I do not think that the
   expression, brought in, is to be limited to this sense, though I
   suppose it is the primary one; it implies not only Christ's bringing it
   into the world, as promulgating, and having it written in the word of
   God, and as having wrought it out for sinners in his life, and on the
   cross; but he brings it in, in a manner, which, I pray God may take
   place this night; I mean, bringing it, by his blessed Spirit, into poor
   believers hearts. All that Christ hath done, all that Christ hat
   suffered, all Christ's active obedience, all Christ's passive
   obedience, will do us no good, unless by the Spirit of God, it is
   brought into our souls. As one expresses it, "An unapplied Christ is no
   Christ at all." To hear of a Christ dying for sinners, will only
   increase your damnation, will only sink you deeper into hell, unless we
   have ground to say, by a work of grace wrought in our hearts, that the
   Lord Jesus hath brought this home to us. Hence it is, that the Apostle,
   speaking of Christ, says, "Who love me, and gave himself for me." O
   that dear, that great, that little, but important word, me. Happy they,
   who can adopt the Apostle's language! Happy they that can apply it to
   their own heart; and when they hear that Christ has brought in an
   everlasting righteousness, can say, Blessed be God, it is brought in by
   the blessed Spirit to my soul!

   Are there any here that can go along with me on this doctrine? But why
   do I ask this question, when preaching to numbers, who, I hope, have
   tasted of the grace of God long ago? I do not know, I cannot
   distinguish you; you are just like other people, as to your looks and
   habits; but if I do not, and if your neighbors cannot know you, that
   great God, in whose presence you are, knows you; He, before whose
   tribunal we are shortly to appear, knows you. If Christ Jesus hath
   brought his everlasting righteousness into your heart; if it is applied
   by the Spirit of God to your soul, what shall I say to you? I will say
   as the Angel to John, "Come up hither," thou child of God! Come up
   hither, thou son, thou daughter of Abraham! Come and join with me, in
   calling upon angels and archangels, in calling upon the spirits of just
   men made perfect, to help thee to praise that loving Redeemer, that has
   brought in an everlasting righteousness. O was ever love like this!
   When Abraham was about to offer up his son, God said, "Now I know that
   thou lovest me, since thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son
   from me." Now may each child of God say, "Now, O God, I know that thou
   hast loved me, since thou hast not withheld thy Son, thy dear Son, the
   Lord Jesus Christ, from dying for me." If thou hast got Christ brought
   into thy soul by faith, O look forward, look towards a happy eternity;
   O look towards those everlasting mansions, into which God will bring
   thee after death. My dear friends, I could say much from this text to
   comfort God's people: But

   I must address myself to you, poor souls, who cannot say, that this
   righteousness has been brought home to your souls; but if it was never
   brought home before, may God, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, bring
   it home now! Are any of you depending upon a righteousness of your own?
   Do any of you here, think to save yourselves by your own doings? I say
   to you, as the Apostle said to one that offered money for a power to
   confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, your righteousness shall perish with
   you. Poor miserable creatures! What is there in your tears? What in
   your prayers? What in your performances, to appease the wrath of an
   angry God? Away from the trees of the garden; come, ye guilty wretches,
   come as poor, lost, undone, and wretched creatures, and accept of a
   better righteousness than your own. As I said before, so I tell you
   again, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is an everlasting
   righteousness: it is wrought out for the very chief of sinners. Ho,
   every one that thirsteth, let him come and drink of this water of life
   freely. Are any of you wounded by sin? Do any of you feel you have no
   righteousness of your own? Are any of you perishing for hunger? Are any
   of you afraid ye will perish forever? Come, dear souls, in all your
   rags; come, thou poor man; come, thou poor, distressed woman; you, who
   think God will never forgive you, and that your sins are too great to
   be forgiven; come, thou doubting creature, who art afraid thou wilt
   never get comfort; arise, take comfort, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord
   of life, the Lord of glory, calls for thee: through his righteousness
   there is hope for the chief of sinners, for the worst of creatures.
   What if thou hadst committed all the sins in the world? What if thou
   hadst committed the sins of a thousand, what if thou hadst committed
   the sins of a million of worlds? Christ's righteousness will cover, the
   blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will cleanse, thee from the guilt of
   them all. O let not one poor soul stand at a distance from the Savior.
   My dear friends, could my voice hold out, was my strength equal to my
   will, I would wrestle with you; I would strive with arguments, till you
   came and washed in this blood of the Lamb; till you came and accepted
   of this everlasting righteousness. O come, come! Now, since it is
   brought into the world by Christ, so in the name, in the strength, and
   by the assistance of the great God, I bring it now to the pulpit; I now
   offer this righteousness, this free, this imputed, this everlasting
   righteousness to all poor sinners that will accept of it. For God's
   sake accept it this night: you do not know but ye may die before
   tomorrow. How do he know, but while I am speaking, a fit of the
   apoplexy may seize, and death arrest you? O my dear friends, where can
   ye go? Where will ye appear? How will ye stand before an angry God,
   without the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ put upon your souls?
   Can ye stand in your own rags? Will ye dare to appear before a
   heart-searching God, without the apparel of your elder brother? If ye
   do, I know your doom: Christ will frown you into hell: "Depart, depart,
   ye cursed, into everlasting fire," shall be your portion. Think, I pray
   you, therefore, on these things; go home, go home, go home, pray over
   the text, and say, "Lord God, thou hast brought an everlasting
   righteousness into the world by the Lord Jesus Christ; by the blessed
   Spirit bring it into my heart!" then, die when ye will, ye are safe; if
   it be tomorrow, ye shall be immediately translated into the presence of
   the everlasting God: that will be sweet! Happy they who have got this
   robe on; happy they that can say, "My God hath loved me, and I shall be
   loved by him with an everlasting love!" That every one of you may be
   able to say so, may God grant, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the dear
   Redeemer; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of All Christians; Or the True
                            Way of Keeping Christmas

   Matthew 1:21 -- "And she shall bring forth a Son, and then shalt call
   his Name Jesus: For he shall save his People from their Sins."

   The celebration of the birth of Christ hath been esteemed a duty by
   most who profess Christianity. When we consider the condescension and
   love of the Lord Jesus Christ, in submitting to be born of a virgin, a
   poor sinful creature; and especially as he knew how he was to be
   treated in this world; that he was to be despised, scoffed at, and at
   last to die a painful, shameful, and ignominious death; that he should
   be treated as though he was the off-scouring of all mankind; used, not
   like the son of man, and, therefore, not at all like the Son of God;
   the consideration of these things should make us to admire the love of
   the Lord Jesus Christ, who was so willing to offer himself as a ransom
   for the sins of the people, that when the fullness of time was come,
   Christ came, made of a woman, made under the law: he came according to
   the eternal counsel of the Father; he came, not in glory or in
   splendor, not like him who brought all salvation with him: no, he was
   born in a stable, and laid in a manger; oxen were his companions. O
   amazing condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ, to stoop to such low
   and poor things for our sake. What love is this, what great and
   wonderful love was here, that the Son of God should come into our world
   in so mean a condition, to deliver us from the sin and misery in which
   we were involved by our fall in our first parents! And as all that
   proceeded from the springs must be muddy, because the fountain was so,
   the Lord Jesus Christ came to take our natures upon him, to die a
   shameful, a painful, and an accursed death for our sakes; he died for
   our sins, and to bring us to God: he cleansed us by his blood from the
   guilt of sin, he satisfied for our imperfections; and now, my brethren,
   we have access unto him with boldness; he is a mediator between us and
   his offended Father.

   Therefore, if we do but consider into what state, and at how great a
   distance from God we are fallen; how vile our natures were; what a
   depravity, and how incapable to restore that image of God to our souls,
   which we lost in our first parents: when I consider these things, my
   brethren, and that the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore us to that
   favor with God which we had lost, and that Christ not only came down
   with an intent to do it, but actually accomplished all that was in his
   heart towards us; that he raised and brought us into favor with God,
   that we might find kindness and mercy in his sight; surely this calls
   for some return of thanks on our part to our dear Redeemer, for this
   love and kindness to our souls. How just would it have been of him, to
   have left us in that deplorable state wherein we, by our guilt, had
   involved ourselves? For God could not, nor can receive any additional
   good by our salvation; but it was love, mere love; it was free love
   that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world about 1700 years ago.
   What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly
   celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of
   kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had
   chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid! No, my dear
   brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with
   joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from
   sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this
   Savior's love never be forgotten! But may we sing forth all his love
   and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless
   eternity in the world above! May we chant forth the wonders of
   redeeming love, and the riches of free grace, amidst angels and
   archangels, cherubim and seraphim, without intermission, for ever and
   ever! And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is
   approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof,
   of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls,
   to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought
   to be had in eternal remembrance.

   It is my design to lay down rules for the true keeping of that time of
   Christmas, which is now approaching.

   I. I shall show you when you may be said, not to observe this festival
   aright.

   II. I shall show you, when your observation and celebrating of this
   festival is done according to the glory of God, and to the true manner
   of keeping of it.

   III. Shall conclude with an exhortation to all of you, high and low,
   rich and poor, one with another, to have a regard to your behavior at
   all times, but more especially, my dear brethren, on this solemn
   occasion.

   I. My brethren, I am to show when your celebration of this festival is
   not of the right kind.

   And First, you do not celebrate this aright, when you spend most of
   your time in cards, dice, or gaming of any sort.

   This is a season, for which there is no more allowance for wasting of
   your precious time in those unlawful entertainments, than any other.
   Persons are apt to flatter themselves that they are free and at liberty
   to spend whole evenings now at cards, at dice, or any diversion
   whatsoever, to pass away, as they call it, a tedious evening. They can
   do any thing now to pass away that, which is hastening as fast as
   thought: time is always upon the wing; it is no sooner present but it
   is past, and no sooner come but it is gone. And have we so much to do,
   and so little time to do it in, and yet complain of time lying heavy
   upon our hands? Have we not the devil and the beast to get our of our
   souls? Are not our natures to be changed, our corruptions to be
   subdued, our wills to be brought over to God, or hard hearts to be
   softened, all old things to be done away, and all things to become new
   in our souls? Is there not all this to be done? And yet we have too
   much time upon our hands! It is well, that instead of having too much
   time, it be not found that we have got too little, when we come to die:
   then we shall wish, my brethren, that we had made more account of our
   time, that we had improved it for the glory of God, and the welfare of
   our immortal souls.

   Good God! How amazing is the consideration, that many can go to church
   in the morning, and take the Sacrament, and come home and spend the
   afternoon and evening in cards. Is this, my brethren, discerning the
   Lord's body? Is this taking the sacrament according to its institution?
   Is not this a pollution thereof, and making the blood of the covenant
   an unholy thing.

   Therefore, those of you who have made this your practice in times past,
   let me beseech you, in the bowels of mercy, not to do so any more; for,
   indeed, it is earthly, it is sensual, it is devilish. Consider what is
   said of those who eat and drink at the Lord's table unworthily, that
   they eat and drink their own damnation: And can they, my brethren, be
   said to eat and drink any otherwise, who no sooner go from the table of
   the Lord, but run to the diversions of the devil? Indeed this is
   exceeding sinful, and displeasing unto the Lord; then forbear those
   diversions which are so evil in themselves: O be not found in those
   exercises, and in that pleasure, which you would not be found in when
   you come to die. Thus, my brethren, you se it is not a right
   celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus, to spend it in cards, dice,
   or any other diversions, which proceed so directly from the devil, and
   are destructive to all true goodness.

   Secondly, They cannot be said truly to celebrate this time, who spend
   their time in eating and drinking to excess.

   This is a season when persons are apt to indulge themselves in all
   manner of luxury: iniquity now abounds apace; nothing is scarcely to be
   seen but things of the greatest extravagance imaginable; not only for
   the necessities of the body, but to pamper it in lust, to feed its
   vices, to make it go on in sin, to be a means for gratifying our carnal
   appetite; and this is a means to make us forget the Lord of glory. This
   makes us only fit to do such drudgery, as the devil shall set us about;
   this is only preparing to run wheresoever the devil sends: this,
   instead of denying ourselves, is indulging ourselves, this is not, nor
   cannot be called, a celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ,
   when we are making ourselves worst than the beasts that perish.

   I am not speaking against eating and drinking of the good things of
   life, but against the eating and drinking of them to excess, because,
   thus they unqualify us for the service of God; and to our
   fellow-creatures they make us unsociable, and may occasion us to be
   guilty of saying and acting those things, which we should be ashamed to
   think of, if we had only ate or drank with moderation.

   Therefore, my dear brethren, let me beseech you to set a watch over
   yourselves; be careful that you do not run into that company which may
   tempt you to evil, for would a man run himself into danger on purpose?
   Would a man enter himself into that company, where, before he goes, he
   knows he shall be exposed to great temptations; and therefore, if you
   have any reason to think that the company you are going into will be a
   temptation, I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, that
   you would not run into it.

   How can you say, "Lead us not into temptation," when you are resolved
   to lead yourselves into it, by running into the occasions of sins. You
   are commanded to keep from the appearance of evil; and do you do that,
   by running into the place and company where it is like to be committed?
   No, this is so far from avoiding, and shunning it, that it is a plain
   proof to the contrary; therefore, if you are for observing this time,
   this festival of our church, let it not be done by running to excess;
   for you plainly see, that those who are guilty thereof, cannot be said
   properly to celebrate it.

   Thirdly, Nor can they, my brethren, be said to keep, or rightly observe
   the commemoration of the birth of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ,
   who neglect their worldly callings to follow pleasures and diversions.

   Alas! many, instead of keeping this time as it ought to be, run into
   sin with greediness; instead of devoting their time to the Lord, it is
   only devoted to the devil and their own lusts. How many who thus
   mispend their time, at this season, lay by the work of their callings
   for a considerable time, with no other view, but to follow earthly,
   sensual, and devilish pleasures. If they should go to hear a sermon, or
   to a society, my brethren, the mouths of all the Pharisees at once are
   open against them, that they are not only a going to be ruined
   themselves, but are going to ruin their families too; they think it
   needless to make so much ado; this is being righteous over-much; but
   you may be as wicked as you please, and they will not cry out; however,
   when you are wicked over-much, by serving the devil and your own
   pleasures for a week or a month together, then, my brethren, with them
   you are only taking a little recreation, spending your time in innocent
   diversions; no one cries out against you, there is no outcry that you
   are going to be ruined. Again, if you give never so small a matter
   among the poor people of God for their relief, then you are robbing
   your families, then you are going to turn madmen! And in a few days
   will be to methodistically mad, that you are not fit for a polite
   gentleman's conversation; but if you spend one hundred times the money
   in playhouses, &c. on your lusts and pleasures, then you are liked and
   esteemed as a good friend and companion; but, my dear brethren, these
   good companions in the world's account, are never so in the Lord Jesus
   Christ's. You cannot serve God and mammon; you must either lost your
   lusts, your pleasures, and your delights, or you cannot expect to find
   favor with God; for indeed, and indeed, the ways that too many follow
   at this time, are sinful, yea, they are exceeding sinful. You see they
   cannot be said to celebrate this holy time, who thus mispend their
   precious time to the neglect of their families; such are destroying
   themselves with a witness.

   Thus, my dear brethren, I have shown you who they are who do not
   observe this holy festival.

   II. I come now, in the second place, to show you, who they are who do
   rightly observe, and truly celebrate the birth of our Redeemer.

   And I shall show you who they are in two particulars, directly opposite
   to the others; and then, my brethren, take your choice: you must choose
   the one or the other, there is no medium, you must either serve the
   Lord or Baal; and, therefore, my dear brethren, let me beg of you to
   consider,

   First, That those spend their time aright, and truly observe this
   festival, who spend their hours in reading, praying, and religious
   conversation.

   What can we do to employ our time to a more noble purpose, than reading
   of what our dear Redeemer has done and suffered; to read, that the King
   of kings, and the Lord of lords, came from his throne and took upon him
   the form of the meanest of his servants; and what great things he
   underwent. This, this is an history worth reading, this is worth
   employing our time about: and surely, when we read of the sufferings of
   our Savior, it should excite us to prayer, that we might have an
   interest in the Lord Jesus Christ; that the blood which he spilt upon
   mount Calvary, and his death and crucifixion, might make an atonement
   for our sins, that we might be made holy; that we might be enabled to
   put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, even the
   Lord Jesus Christ; that we may throw away the heavy yoke of sin, and
   put on the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, my brethren, these
   things call for prayer, and for earnest prayer too; and O do be earnest
   with God, that you may have an interest in this Redeemer, and that you
   may put on his righteousness, so that you may not come before him in
   your filthy rags, nor be found not having on the wedding garment. O do
   not, I beseech you, trust unto yourselves for justification; you
   cannot, indeed, you cannot be justified by the works of the law. I
   entreat that your time may be thus spent; and if you are in company,
   let your time be spent in that conversation which profiteth: let it not
   be about your dressing, your plays, your profits, or your worldly
   concerns, but let it be the wonders of redeeming love: O tell, tell to
   each other, what great things the Lord has done for your souls; declare
   unto one another, how you were delivered from the hands of your common
   enemy, Satan, and how the Lord has brought your feet from the clay, and
   has set them upon the rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ; there, my
   brethren, is no slipping; other conversation, by often repeating, you
   become fully acquainted with, but of Christ there is always something
   new to raise your thoughts; you can never want matter when the love of
   the Lord Jesus Chris is the subject: then let Jesus be the subject, my
   brethren, of all your conversation.

   Let your time be spent on him: O this, this is an employ, which if you
   belong to Jesus, will last you to all eternity. Let others enjoy their
   cards, their dice, and gaming hours; do you, my brethren, let your time
   be spent in reading, praying, and religious conversations. Which will
   stand the trial best at the last day? Which do you think will bring
   most comfort, most peace, in a dying hour? O live and spend your time
   now, as you will wish to have done, when you come to die.

   Secondly, Let the good things of life, you enjoy, be used with
   moderation.

   I am not, as the scoffers of this day tell you, against eating and
   drinking the good things of life; no, my brethren, I am only against
   their being used to an excess; therefore, let me beseech you to avoid
   those great indiscretions, those sinful actions, which will give the
   enemies of God room to blaspheme. Let me beseech you, to have a regard,
   a particular regard to your behavior, at this time; for indeed the eyes
   of all are upon you, and they would rejoice much to find any reason to
   complain of you. They can say things against us without a cause; and
   how would they rejoice if there was wherewith they might blame us? Then
   they would triumph and rejoice indeed; and all your little slips, my
   dear brethren, are, and would be charged upon me. O at this time, when
   the eyes of so many are upon you, be upon your guard; and if you use
   the good things of this life with moderation, you do then celebrate
   this festival in the manner which the institution calls for.

   And instead of running into excess, let that money, which you might
   expend to pamper your own bodies, be given to feed the poor; now, my
   brethren, is the season, in which they commonly require relief; and
   sure you cannot act more agreeable, either to the season, to the time,
   or for the glory of God, than in relieving his poor distressed
   servants. Therefore, if any of you have poor friends, or acquaintance,
   who are in distress, I beseech you to assist them; and not only those
   of your acquaintance, but the poor in general. O my dear brethren, that
   will turn to a better account another day, than all you have expended
   to please the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of
   life. Consider, Christ was always willing to relieve the distressed; it
   is his command also; and can you better commemorate the birth of your
   king, your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, than in obeying one of his
   commands?

   Do not, my dear brethren, be forgetful of the poor of the world;
   consider, if providence has smiled upon you, and blessed you with
   abundance of the things of this life, God calls for some returns of
   gratitude from you; be ye mindful of the poor, and when you are so,
   then you may be said to have a true regard for that time which is now
   approaching; if you would truly observe this festival, let it be done
   with moderation, and a regard to the poor of this world.

   Thirdly, Let me beg of you not to alienate too much of your time from
   the worldly business of this life, but have a proper regard thereunto,
   and then you may be said rightly to observe this festival.

   God allows none to be idle: in all ages business was commended; and
   therefore do not think that any season will excuse us in our callings;
   we are not, my brethren, to labor for the things of this life
   inordinately, but we are to labor for them will all moderation: we are
   not to neglect our callings; no, we are to regard those places and
   stations of life, which God in his providence has thought convenient
   for us; and therefore, when you neglect your business of the hurt of
   your families, whatever pretense you thereby make for so doing, you are
   guilty of sin; you are not acting according to the doctrine of the
   gospel, but are breaking the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ, both
   according to his word, and to his own practice.

   At this festival, persons are apt to take a little more liberty than
   usual; and if that time from our vocations is not prejudicial to
   ourselves or families, and is spent in the service of God, and the good
   of immortal souls, then I do not thing it sinful; but there is too much
   reason to fear, that the time spent upon our own lusts, and then it is
   exceeding sinful, it is against our own souls, and it is against the
   good of our families, and instead of commemorating the birth of our
   dear Redeemer, we are dishonoring him in the greatest degree possibly
   we can.

   Therefore, inquire strictly into your end and design in spending your
   time; see, my brethren, whether it proceeds from a true love to your
   Redeemer, or whether there is not some worldly pleasure or advantage at
   the bottom: if there is, our end is not right; but if it proceed
   entirely from love to him that died, and gave himself for us, our
   actions will be a proof thereof; then our time will be spent, not in
   the polite pleasures of life, but according to the doctrine and
   commands of the blessed Jesus; then our conversation will be in heaven;
   and O that this might be found to be the end of each of you, who now
   hear me; then we should truly observe this festival, and have a true
   regard to the occasion thereof, that of Christ's coming to redeem the
   souls of those which were lost.

   Let me now conclude, my dear brethren, with a few words of exhortation,
   beseeching you to think of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Did Jesus
   come into the world to save us from death, and shall we spend no part
   of our time in conversing about our dear Jesus; shall we pay no regard
   to the birth of him, who came to redeem us from the worst of slavery,
   from that of sin, and the devil; and shall this Jesus not only be born
   on our account, but likewise die in our stead, and yet shall we be
   unmindful of him? Shall we spend our time in those things which are
   offensive to him? Shall we not rather do all we can to promote his
   glory, and act according to his command? O my dear brethren, be found
   in the ways of God; let us not disturb our dear Redeemer by any
   irregular proceedings; and let me beseech you to strive to love, fear,
   honor and obey him, more than ever you have done yet; let not the devil
   engross your time, and that dear Savior who came into the world on your
   accounts, have so little. O be not so ungrateful to him who has been so
   kind to you! What could the Lord Jesus Christ have done for you more
   than he has? Then do not abuse his mercy, but let your time be spent in
   thinking and talking of the love of Jesus, who was incarnate for us,
   who was born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem us from the
   wrath to come.

   Now to God the Father, God the Son, &c,
     __________________________________________________________________

                            The Temptation of Christ

   Matthew 4:1-11 -- "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the
   wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty
   days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the
   tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that
   these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written,
   Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
   out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy
   city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him,
   If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He
   shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they
   shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a
   stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt
   the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high
   mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory
   of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou
   wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee
   hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,
   and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold,
   angels came and ministered unto him."

   Dearly beloved, today you are invited to take a walk into the
   wilderness, to behold, sympathize with, and get instruction and comfort
   from a Savior tempted. In the conflict, he approves himself to be God's
   beloved Son; and the Father gives demonstrable evidence, that with, and
   in him he is indeed well pleased. Let us with serious attention
   consider when, where, and how, our great Michael fought with and
   overcame the dragon. The Evangelist Matthew is very particular in
   relating the preparations for, the beginning, process, and issue of
   this glorious and important combat.

   "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted
   of the devil." In the close of the foregoing chapter we are told, that
   the blessed Jesus had been publicly baptized, and was also solemnly
   inaugurated in his mediatorial office, by the opening of the heavens,
   by the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove, and by a voice from
   heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;"
   and then it was, when he came from the solemn ordinance of baptism;
   when he was about to show himself openly unto Israel; when he was full
   of the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:1); even then was he led, with a holy
   unconstrained violence, as a champion into the field, to engage an
   enemy, whom he was sure to conquer. But whither is this conqueror led?
   Into a lonesome, wide, howling wilderness; probably, says Mr. Henry,
   into the great wilderness of Sinai; a wilderness, not only lonesome,
   but inhabited by wild beasts, Mark 1:13. Hither was our Lord led, not
   only that he might prepare himself by retirement and prayer, but also
   that he might be alone, and thereby give Satan all the advantages he
   could desire. In this combat, as well as that of his last agony, "of
   the people, there was to be none with him." Neither does he content
   himself with praying, but he fasts also, and that "forty days and forty
   nights," (verse 9): as Moses and Elias had done, many years before, it
   may be, in the very same place. All these fasts were miraculous; and
   therefore, though we are taught hereby, that fasting is a Christian
   duty, yet, to pretend, in an ordinary way, to imitate them, by fasting
   for so long a term together, in no doubt superstitious , presumptuous,
   and sinful; but few people, I believe, need such a caution.

   During these forty days, we may suppose, our Lord felt no hunger;
   converse with heaven, to him was instead of meat and drink; but
   "afterwards he was an hungered:" exceedingly so, no doubt. And now, the
   important fight begins. For, then "the tempted," emphatically so
   called, because he first tempted our first parents to sin, and hath
   ever since been unwearied in tempting their descendants; then the
   tempter, who in an invisible manner had been attacking our blessed Lord
   all the whole forty days, when he saw him hungering, and in such
   distressing circumstances, came to him, as it should seem, in a visible
   shape, and probably transformed into the appearance of an angel of
   light. And what does he tempt him to? To nothing less, than to doubt of
   his being the Son of God." "If thou be the Son of God." What! Put an if
   to this, Satan, after the glorious Jesus had been proved to be God's
   son, and repeatedly too in such a glorious manner? Surely, thou thyself
   couldst not but see the heavens opened, and the Spirit descending;
   surely, thou didst hear the voice that came to him from heaven,
   immediately after his baptism, saying, "This is my beloved Son:" And
   dost thou now say unto him, "If thou be the Son of God." Yes; but Satan
   knew, and believed he was full well; but he wanted to make our Lord to
   doubt of it. And why? Because he was in such a melancholy situation. As
   though he had said, "If God was thy father, he would never suffer thee
   to starve to death in a howling wilderness, among wild beasts. Surely,
   the voice thou lately didst hear, was only a delusion. If thou wast the
   Son of God, especially his beloved Son, in whom he was so pleased, thou
   wouldst be taken more care of by him." Thus he attacked our first
   parents, by suggesting to them hard thoughts of their all-bountiful
   Creator: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree in the
   garden?" "Hath he placed you amidst such a variety of delicious fruits,
   only to tease and make you miserable?" And how artfully now does he
   labor to insinuate himself into our Lord's affections, as he then did
   to ingratiate himself with our first parents. "If thou be the Son of
   God, says he, come, prove it, by commanding these stones (a heap of
   which, probably, lay very near) to be made bread: this will demonstrate
   thy divinity, and relieve thy pressing necessity at the same time."
   Thus, as in all his other temptations, Satan would fain appear to be
   his very kind friend; but the holy Jesus saw through the disguised
   enmity of his antagonist; and scorning either to distrust his righteous
   Father on the one hand, or to work a miracle to please and gratify the
   devil on the other, although he had the Spirit of God without measure,
   and might have made use of a thousand other ways, yet answers him with
   a text of scripture: "It is written, that man shall not live by bread
   alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." This
   is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, and contains a reason given by the
   great God, why he chose to feed the Israelites with manna; that they
   might learn thereby, man doth not live by bread alone, but by every
   word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This our blessed Lord
   here applies to himself; and his being in the wilderness, made the
   application of it still more pertinent. Israel was God's son: out of
   Egypt was he called to sojourn in the wilderness, where he was
   miraculously supported. And therefore our Lord, knowing that he was
   typified by this Israel, and that, like them, he was now in a
   wilderness, quotes this scripture as a reason why he should not, at
   Satan's suggestion, either despair of receiving help from his Father in
   his present circumstances, or distrust the validity of his late
   manifestations, or make use of any unwarrantable means for his present
   relief. For as God was his father, he would, therefore, either in an
   ordinary way spread a table for him in the wilderness, or support and
   sustain him, as he did his Israel of old, in some extraordinary way or
   other without it: "For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
   word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

   Thus is the tempter foiled in the first onset; but he hath other arrows
   in his quiver, with which he will farther strive to wound the
   immaculate Lamb of God. Since he cannot draw him in either to distrust,
   or despair, he will not try if he cannot prevail on him to presume. In
   order to effect this, "He taketh the blessed Jesus up into the Holy
   City," or Jerusalem, called by our Savior, the city of the Great King,
   and here called holy, because the holy temple was in it, and, we would
   hope, many holy people. This was a populous place, and therefore, would
   greatly befriend the devil's design. And not only so, but "he setteth
   him on a pinnacle," a battlement or wing, "of the temple," the top of
   which was so very high, that, as Josephus observes, it would make a
   man's head run giddy to look down from it. And some think this was done
   at the time of public worship. How the holy Jesus suffered himself to
   be taken hither; whether he was transported through the air, or whether
   he followed Satan on foot, is uncertain; but certainly it was an
   instance of amazing condescension in our Lord, that he would permit so
   foul a fiend, to carry or lead his holy body about in this manner.
   Well! Satan hath now gotten him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and
   still harping upon this old string, "If thou be the Son of God, (says
   he) cast thyself down," and thereby show to this large worshipping
   assembly, (who will assuredly then believe) that thou art God's beloved
   Son, under the special protection of heaven, and art the Messiah, "who
   was to come into the world." This was artful, very artful. But he seems
   to improve in cunning: for he brings his Bible with him, and backs his
   temptation with a text of scripture; "For it is written, (says he) he
   shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they
   shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a
   stone." But is Saul also among the prophets? Does the devil quote
   scripture, yea, and seemingly such a very apposite [appropriate] one
   too? I suspect some design, without doubt: for herein, he would mimic
   our Lord, who, he perceived, intended to fight him with this weapon;
   and not liking the sharp edge of it, he thought that if he quoted
   scripture, the Lord Jesus would not employ it against him any more. "It
   is written, (therefore said he) he shall give his angels charge
   concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at
   any time thou dash thy foot against a stone: and therefore, since thou
   art sure of such protection, thou needst not fear to cast thyself
   down." This was plausible, and by the length of it, one would be apt to
   imagine, it was a fair quotation; but Satan takes care, not only to
   misapply, but also to maim it, purposely omitting these important
   words, "in all thy ways." It is true, God had given charge to his
   angels, concerning his children in general, and his beloved Son in
   particular, that they should keep him in all his ways; but, if our Lord
   had at this time, at the devil's request, and to gratify pride, thrown
   himself down from the pinnacle, and thereby unnecessarily presumed on
   his Father's protection, he would not have been in God' s way, and
   therefore, would have had no right to the promised protection at all.
   Satan was aware of this, and therefore fitly left out what he knew
   would not suit his purpose. But is scripture the worse, for being
   abused or perverted by the devil, or his emissaries? No, in no wise.
   Our Lord, therefore, lets him know, that he should not throw aside this
   important weapon upon this account, but puts by this home thrust, with
   another scripture: "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord
   thy God." Still our Lord quotes something out of the book of
   Deuteronomy, and hath his eye upon Israel in his wilderness state.
   Originally these words were directed to the Israelites in general, and
   accordingly are in the plural number; but here our Lord, as before,
   makes a particular application of them to himself: Satan bids him cast
   himself down, assuring him, God had promised in his word, to order his
   angels to take care of him. Now, says our Lord, "It is written in
   another part of his word, that the Israelites should not tempt the Lord
   their God, by distrusting his goodness on the one hand, or presuming on
   his protection on the other. And, therefore, as I would not command the
   stones to be made bread, needlessly and distrustfully set up to provide
   for myself; neither will I now presume unnecessarily upon God's power,
   by casting myself down, though placed by thee in such a dangerous
   situation.

   Thus our great Michael comes off conqueror in the second assault. And
   doth not the serpent feel his head bruised enough yet? Not at all: on
   the contrary, being more and more enraged at such unusual opposition,
   and want of success, "He again taketh him up into an exceeding high
   mountain, (what mountain is not very material) and showeth him all the
   kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them," St. Luke adds, "in a
   moment of time:" which confirms the common conjecture, that Satan did
   not show our Lord really the kingdoms of the world, (for that must have
   taken up more time) but only took him up into an exceeding high
   mountain to humor the thing, and by exerting his utmost art, impressed
   on our Lord's imagination all at once, a very strong, and to any but
   innocence itself, a very striking prospect of the kingdoms of the
   world, and the glory of them; not the cares: that would not serve
   Satan's turn. He showed our Savior crowns, but never told him those
   crowns were gilded [inlaid] with thorns; "He showed him, (says Mr.
   Henry, my favorite commentator) as in a landscape, or airy
   representation in a cloud, such as that great deceiver could easily
   frame and put together, the glorious and splendid appearance of
   princes, their robes and retinue, their equipage and lifeguards; the
   pomps of thrones and courts, and stately palaces; the sumptuous
   buildings in cities; the gardens and fields about the country feats,
   with the various instances of their wealth, pleasure, and gaiety; so as
   might be most likely to strike the fancy, and excite the admiration and
   affection. Such was this show." Our Savior very well knew it, only lets
   Satan go to the full length of his string, that his victory over him
   might be the more illustrious. And now, says the devil, "All these
   things ( a mighty all indeed; a mere imaginary bubble!) will I give
   thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. He would fain have it
   taken for granted, that he had succeeded in the two preceding
   temptations: "Come, thou seest thou art not the Son of God, or if thou
   art, thou seest what an unkind Father he is; thou art here in a
   starving condition, therefore take my advice, disown thy relation to
   him, set up for thyself, call me father, ask of me blessings, and all
   these will I give thee; while all that I desire in return, is but a
   bow, only fall down and worship me." Here Satan discovers himself with
   a witness: this was a desperate parting stroke, indeed. It is not high
   time for thee, O thou enemy of souls, to be commanded to depart! Filled
   with a holy resentment at such hellish treatment, and impatient of the
   very thought of settling up for himself, or alienating the least part
   of his heart and affections from his Father, or dividing them between
   his God and the world; "Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence,
   Satan, (I know thee who thou art, under all thy disguises) get thee
   hence, thou grand adversary; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the
   Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve; this is the great
   commandment of the law; this is the commandment my Father gave unto his
   Israel of old, and wouldst thou have me, who came to fulfill the law
   and the prophets, thus shamefully be a transgressor of it? Get thee
   hence, I will bear thy insolence no longer: thy other temptations were
   hellish, like thyself, but this intolerably so; get thee therefore
   hence, Satan: my heavenly Father is the Lord my God, and him only will
   I serve."

   And now the battle is over; the important combat is ended; Jesus hath
   won the field: Satan is routed and totally put to flight. "Then," when
   the devil found that Jesus could withstand even the golden bait, the
   lust of the eye and pride of life, in the two last, as well as the lust
   of the flesh in the first temptation, despairing of the least success,
   and quite stunned with that all-powerful get thee hence, Satan, "he
   leaveth him."

   Hell, we may well suppose, like the Philistines of old, was confounded,
   and gave a horrible groan, when they saw their great Goliath, in whom
   they had so long trusted, thus shamefully and totally defeated in no
   less than three pitched battles. The first Adam was attacked but once,
   and was conquered; but the second Adam, though thus repeatedly
   assaulted, comes off without the least sin, not only conqueror, but
   more than conqueror. Think you not, that there was joy, joy unspeakable
   in heaven, upon this glorious occasion? Think you not that the angels,
   those sons of God, and the multitude of the heavenly host, who shouted
   so loud at our Lord's birth, did not repeat, if possible, with yet
   greater ecstasy, that heavenly anthem, "Glory be to God in the
   highest." For a while they were only spectators, orders, we may
   suppose, being issued out, that they should only wait around, but not
   relieve their praying, fasting, tempted Lord; but now the restraint is
   removed: Satan departs, and "behold, angels came and ministered unto
   him;" they came to administer to his bodily necessities, and to
   congratulate him upon the glorious and complete victory which he had
   gained: some of them, it may be, had done this kind office for Elijah
   long ago; and with unspeakably greater joy, they repeat it to the Lord
   of Elijah now. His Father sends him bread from heaven; and by this lets
   him know, that notwithstanding the horrid temptations with which he had
   been attacked, he is his own beloved son, in and with whom he was well
   pleased.

   And was there joy in heaven on this happy occasion? What equal, and if
   possible, what infinitely greater joy ought there to be among the
   children of God here on earth? For we should do well to remember, that
   our blessed Lord in this great fight with, and conquest over the
   dragon, acted as a public person, as a federal head of his mystical
   body the church, even the common representative of all believers. We
   may therefore from this blessed passage gather strong consolations;
   since by our Lord's conquest over Satan, we are thereby assured of our
   own, and in the mean while can apply to him as a compassionate High
   Priest, who was in all things tempted as we are, that he might
   experimentally be enabled to succor us when we are tempted.

   Who, who after hearing of or reading this, can think themselves hardly
   used, or utterly cast off by God, because they are tempted to
   self-murder, blasphemy, or any other horrid and shocking crimes? Who
   can wonder at wave being permitted to come upon wave, and one trial to
   follow upon the back of another? Who can admire, that Satan follows
   them to holy ordinances, and tempts them to doubt of the reality of all
   their manifestations, and of their being God's children, even after
   they have enjoyed the most intimate and delightful communion with their
   heavenly Father? Was not our Lord treated thus? And "shall the servant
   be above his Lord, or the disciple above his Master?" No, it is
   sufficient that the servant be as his Lord, and the disciple as his
   Master.

   But not to dwell on a general improvement, let us see what particular
   lessons may be learned from this affecting portion of holy writ.

   And First, was our Lord thus violently beset in the wilderness? Then we
   may learn, that however profitable solitude and retirement may be, when
   used in due season, yet when carried to an extreme is hurtful, and
   rather befriends than prevents temptation. Woe be to him that is thus
   always alone; for he hath not another to lift him up when he falleth,
   or to advise with when he is tempted. As a hermit in America once told
   me, when I asked him whether he found that way of life lessened his
   temptations: "Dost not thou know, friend, (said he) that a tree which
   grows by itself, is more exposed to winds and storms than another that
   stands surrounded with other trees in the woods?" Our Lord knew this,
   and therefore he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
   tempted of the devil. Lord, keep us from leading ourselves into this
   temptation, and succor and support us whenever led by thy providence
   into it! Then, and then only, shall we be safe amidst the fiery darts
   of the grand enemy of our souls.

   Secondly, Did our Lord by prayer, fasting, and temptation, prepare
   himself for his public ministry? Surely then, all those who profess to
   be inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them the office and
   administration of the church, should be prepared in the same manner.
   For though the knowledge of books and men, are good in their places,
   yet without a knowledge of Satan's devices be superadded, a minister
   will be only like a physician, that undertakes to prescribe to sick
   people, without having studied the nature of herbs. And hence, it is to
   be feared, many heavy laden and afflicted souls have been sent by
   certain ministers, to surgeons, to be blooded in the arm, instead of
   being directed to apply to the blood of Christ to cleanse their hearts.
   Hence, conviction is looked upon as a delirium, and violent temptations
   censured as downright madness. Hence, souls that are truly and
   earnestly repenting of their sins, and as earnestly seeking after rest
   in Christ, have been directed to plays, novels, romances, and merry
   company, to divert them from being righteous over-much. Miserable
   comforters are such blind guides! Surely, they deserve not better
   titles than that of murderers of souls! They go not into the kingdom of
   heaven themselves, and those who are entering in they would by this
   means hinder. Go not after them, all ye young men who would be able
   ministers of the New Testament; but on the contrary, if you would be
   useful in binding up the broken hearted, and pouring the oil of
   consolation into wounded souls, prepare yourselves for manifold
   temptations. For as Luther says, "prayer and meditation, reading and
   temptation, make a minister." If now exercised with spiritual
   conflicts, be not disheartened, it is a good sign that our Lord intends
   to make use of you. Being thus tempted like unto your brethren, you
   will be the better enabled to succor and advise those who shall apply
   to you under their temptations. What says the apostle Paul? "If we are
   afflicted, it is for your sake." And if you are afflicted, it is only
   that you may save your own souls, and help to save the souls of those
   who shall be committed to your charge. Be strong therefore in the grace
   which is in Christ Jesus, and learn to endure hardness, like good
   soldiers, that are hereafter to instruct others how they must fight the
   good fight of faith.

   Thirdly, Did the tempter come to Christ when he saw him an hungered?
   Let those of you that are reduced to a low estate, from hence learn,
   that an hour of poverty is an hour of temptation, not only to murmuring
   and doubting of our sonship and the divine favor, but also to help
   ourselves by unlawful means. "If thou be the Son of God, said Satan,
   command that these stones may be made bread." This is what Agur
   dreaded, "lest I be poor and steal." Learn, ye godly poor, to be upon
   your guard, and remember that poverty and temptations are no marks of
   your being cast off by God. Your Lord was an hungered; your Lord was
   tempted on this account to doubt his sonship, before you. Learn of him
   not to distrust, but rather to trust in your heavenly Father. Angels
   came and ministered unto Christ; and he who is Lord of the angels, will
   send some kind messenger or another to relieve your wants. Your
   extremity shall be the Redeemer's opportunity to help you. Make your
   wants known unto him, he careth for you. Though in a desart [desert?],
   though no visible means appear at present, yet you shall in God's due
   time find a table spread for you and yours; "For man doth not live by
   bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of
   God."

   And may not such among you, who are exalted, as well as those who are
   brought low, from Satan's taking the Lord Jesus, and placing him upon a
   pinnacle of the temple, learn also a lesson of holy watchfulness and
   caution. High places are slippery places, and are apt to make even the
   strongest heads and most devout hearts to turn giddy. How necessary
   therefore is that excellent petition in our Litany, "in all time of our
   wealth, (as well as in all time of our tribulation) good Lord deliver
   us!" Agreeably to this, Agur prays as much against riches as poverty;
   if he was poor, he feared he should be tempted to steal, if rich, that
   he should trust in uncertain riches; and say, who is the Lord?

   I charge, therefore, all of you, who are rich and high in this world,
   to watch and pray, lest ye fall by Satan's temptation. Those especially
   of you, that are placed as on the pinnacle of the temple, exalted above
   your fellows in the church of God, take heed in an especial manner unto
   yourselves, lest by spiritual pride, vanity, or any other sin that doth
   most easily beset persons in such eminent stations, ye cast yourselves
   down. This is what Satan aims at. He strives to make us destroyers of
   ourselves. And he hath a particular enmity against such as you; he
   knows, that your name is Legion; and that if you cast yourselves down,
   he shall gain a great advantage over many others; you cannot fall
   alone. O that it may be said of us, as the papists use to say of
   Luther, "That German beast doth not love gold." May the fire of divine
   love burn up all the love of this present evil world, and pride of
   life, out of your hearts! This, Satan reserved for his last, as
   thinking it was the most powerful and prevailing temptation, "He took
   our Lord up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the
   kingdoms of the world and the glory of them." He cares not how high he
   exalts us, or how high he is obliged to bid, so he can but get our
   hearts divided between God and the world. All this will he offer to
   give us, if we will only fall down and worship him. Arm us, dear Lord
   Jesus, with thy Spirit, and help us under all such circumstances, to
   learn of thee, and say unto the tempter, "Get thee hence, Satan; for it
   is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt
   thou serve."

   Fourthly, Whether beset with this or any other temptation, let all us
   learn of our Lord to fight the devil with the sword of the Spirit,
   which is the word of God. Though he had the Spirit without measure, yet
   he always made use of this. We pray say of it, as David did of
   Goliath's sword, "none like this," none like this. And supposing Satan
   should be permitted to transform himself into an angel of light, and by
   false impressions, and delusive applications of misquoted texts,
   attempt to turn this weapon upon us against ourselves; let us not
   therefore be prevailed on to let go, but by comparing spiritual things
   with spiritual, as our Lord did, find out God's mind and our duty. Had
   Christ's children and ministers only observed this one lesson, how much
   strange fire would quickly have been extinguished? How much real
   enthusiasm been easily stopped? How may imaginary revelations have been
   detected? How many triumphs of Satan and his emissaries been prevented?
   And how much more would the comforts of Christ's people and ministers
   been continued and increased, not only in this present, but also in
   every age of the Christian church? But let us not be discouraged or
   think worse of Christ, his cause, or his word, because through Satan's
   subtlety, any of us, or others, may have been drawn in to make some
   wrong applications of it; others have been thus tempted and mistaken
   before us. However, let us be humbled before God and man, and be
   excited by our past ignorance of Satan's devices, to adhere more
   closely to the written word, and to pray more earnestly for God's holy
   Spirit to give us direction by it. "Then will it still be a lantern
   unto our feet, and a light unto our path;" we shall yet be enabled to
   behave more skillfully under all our future trials. Many we must yet
   expect; nay, perhaps our severest temptations are yet to come; Satan
   left our Lord, after his attacking him in the wilderness, "only for a
   season," as St. Luke has it, until the season of his death and passion.
   And thus he may be permitted to deal with us. We are not yet come to
   our complete rest; the King of terrors is yet to be grappled with, and
   the valley of the shadow of death to be passed through; long before
   that, we may be called to endure many a fiery trial, and be beset with
   manifold temptations, under which we may be as ignorant how to behave,
   as under those with which we have already been visited. Alas! we know
   not what remaining corruptions are in our hearts, which time and
   temptation may draw out and discover. Perhaps Satan hath not yet
   attacked us on our weakest side; when he does, if left to ourselves,
   how weak shall we be? It is said of Achilles, that he was invulnerable,
   except in the heel, and by a wound in that, at last he died. Let not
   him, therefore, that putteth on the harness, boast as though he had put
   it off." Neither, on the other hand, let us be faint-hearted or
   dismayed. Satan may tempt, but cannot force; he may sift, but Christ
   will pray. He who hath helped us already, will help us to the end. He
   who conquered for us in the wilderness, will ere long make us also more
   than conquerors over all trials and temptations, inward and outward,
   and over death and hell itself, through his almighty, everlasting and
   never-failing love. We now sow in tears; in a very little time, and we
   shall reap with joy; we may now go on our way weeping, by reason of the
   enemy oppressing us; but, ere long, angels shall be sent, not to
   minister to us in this wilderness, but to carry us to an heavenly
   Canaan, even to Abraham's bosom. Then shall we see this accuser and
   tempter of our Lord, of our brethren, and of ourselves, cast out: this
   wicked one, as well as the wicked world, and wicked heart, will no more
   be permitted to vex, disturb or annoy us.

   "But woe unto you that laugh now; for you shall then lament and weep."
   Woe unto you, who either believer there is no devil, or never felt any
   of his temptations. Woe unto you that are at ease in Zion, and instead
   of staying to be tempted by the devil, by idleness, self-indulgence,
   and making continual provision for the flesh, even tempt the devil to
   tempt you. Woe unto you, who not content with sinning yourselves, turn
   factors for hell, and make a trade of tempting others to sin. Woe unto
   you, who either deny divine revelation, or never make use of it but to
   serve a bad turn. Woe unto you who sell your consciences, and pawn your
   souls for a little worldly wealth or honor. Woe unto you who climb up
   to high places, when in church or state, by corruption, bribery,
   extortion, cringing, flattery, or bowing down to, and soothing the
   vices of those by whom you expect to rise. Woe unto you! For whether
   you will own the relation or not, surely you are of your father the
   devil; for the works of your father you will do; I tremble for you. How
   can you escape the damnation of hell?

   But I have not time to follow such as you any farther. This discourse,
   and the present frame of my mind, lead me rather to speak to those, who
   by feeling Satan's fiery darts, know assuredly that there is a devil.
   Comfort thou, comfort thou, these afflicted ones, O Lord. O thou
   all-merciful and all-bountiful God, and thou compassionate High-Priest,
   thou once tempted, but now triumphant Savior, as thou once didst not
   disdain to be ministered unto by angels, bless we pray thou this
   discourse, to the support and strengthening of thy tempted people,
   though delivered by the meanest messenger thou didst ever yet employ in
   thy church!

   I add no more. The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord lift up the
   light of his countenance, stablish, strengthen, and settle you, and
   bring you to his eternal kingdom!
     __________________________________________________________________

                The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

   Matthew 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."

   Among the many heinous sins for which this nation is grown infamous,
   perhaps there is no one more crying, but withal more common, than the
   abominable custom of profane swearing and cursing. Our streets abound
   with persons of all degrees and qualities, who are continually
   provoking the holy one of Israel to anger, by their detestable oaths
   and blasphemies: and our very children, "out of whose mouths," the
   psalmist observes in his days, "was perfected praise," are now grown
   remarkable for the quite opposite ill quality of cursing and swearing.
   This cannot but be a melancholy prospect, for every sincere and honest
   minister of Jesus Christ, to view his fellow-creatures in; and such as
   will put him on contriving some means to prevent the spreading at least
   of so growing an evil; knowing that the Lord (without repentance) will
   assuredly visit for these things. But alas! what can he do? Public
   animadversions are so neglected amongst us, that we seldom find a
   common swearer punished as the laws direct. And as for private
   admonition, men are now so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,
   that to give them sober and pious advice, and to show them the evil of
   their doings, is but like "casting pearls before swine; they only turn
   again and rend you." Since matters then are come to this pass, all that
   we can do is, that as we are appointed watchmen and ambassadors of the
   Lord, it our duty from time to time to show the people their
   transgression, and warn them of their sin; so that whether they will
   hear, or whether they will forbear, we however may deliver our own
   souls. That I therefore may discharge my duty in this particular, give
   me leave, in the name of God, humbly to offer to your most serious
   consideration, some few observations on the words of the text, in order
   to show the heinousness of profane cursing and swearing.

   But, before I proceed directly to the prosecution of this point, it
   will be proper to clear this precept of our Lord from a
   misrepresentation that has been put on it by some, who infer from
   hence, that our Savior prohibits swearing before a magistrate, when
   required on a solemn and proper occasion. But that all swearing is not
   absolutely unlawful for a Christian, is evident from the writings of
   St. Paul, whom we often find upon some solemn occasions using several
   forms of imprecation, as, "I call God as witness;" "God is my judge;"
   "By your rejoicing in Christ Jesus," and suchlike. And that our savior
   does by no means forbid swearing before a magistrate, in the words now
   before us, is plain, if we consider the sense and design he had in
   view, when he gave his disciples this command. Permit me to observe to
   you then, that our blessed master had set himself, from the 27th verse
   of the chapter, out of which the text is taken, to vindicate and clear
   the moral law from the corrupt glosses and misconstruction of the
   Pharisees, who then sat in Moses's chair, but were notoriously faulty
   in adhering too closely to the literal expression of the law, without
   ever considering the due extent and spiritual meaning of it.
   Accordingly they imagined, that because God had said, "Thou shalt not
   commit adultery," that therefore, supposing a person was not guilty of
   the very act of adultery, he was not chargeable with the breach of the
   seventh commandment. And likewise in the matter of swearing, because
   God had forbidden his people, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy,
   "to take his name in vain," or to swear falsely by his name; they
   therefore judged it lawful to swear by any creature in common
   discourse, supposing they did not directly mention the name of God. Our
   blessed Savior therefore, in the words now before us, rectifies this
   their mistake about swearing, as he had done in the verses immediately
   forgoing, concerning adultery, and tells the people, that whatever
   allowances the Pharisees might give to swear by any creature, yet he
   pronounced it absolutely unlawful for any of his followers to do so.
   "You have heard, that it has been said by them of old time," (namely,
   by the Pharisees and teachers of the Jewish law) "Thou shalt not
   forswear thyself, but perform unto the Lord thine oaths; but I say unto
   you," (I who am appointed by the Father to be the great prophet and
   true law-giver of his church) "Swear not at all, (in your common
   conversation) neither by heaven for it is God's throne; (and therefore
   to swear by that, is to swear by Him that sits thereon) neither by the
   earth, for it is his foot-stool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city
   of the great King; neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou
   canst not make one hair white or black: but let your communications
   (which plainly shows that Christ is here speaking of swearing, not
   before a magistrate, but in common conversation) let your communication
   be yea, yea; nay, nay, (a strong affirmation or negation at the most);
   for whatsoever is more than this, cometh of evil;" that is, cometh from
   an evil principle, from the evil one, the devil, the author of all
   evil.

   Which by the way, methinks, should be a caution to all such persons,
   who, though not guilty of swearing in the gross sense of the word, yet
   attest the truth of what they are speaking of, though ever so trifling,
   by saying, Upon my life, -- as I live, -- by my faith, -- by the
   heavens, and such like: which expressions, however harmless and
   innocent they may be esteemed by some sorts of people, yet are the very
   oaths which our blessed Lord condemns in the words immediately
   following the text; and persons who use such unwarrantable forms of
   speaking, must expect to be convicted and condemned as swearers, at our
   Savior's second coming to judge the world.

   But to return: It appears then from the whole tenor of our Savior's
   discourse, that in the words of the text he does by no means disannul
   or forbid swearing before a magistrate (which, as might easily be
   shown, is both lawful and necessary) but only profane swearing in
   common conversation; the heinousness and sinfulness of which I come
   now, more immediately to lay before you.

   And here, not to mention that it is a direct breach of our blessed
   master's and great law-giver's command in the words of the text, as
   likewise of the third commandment, wherein God positively declares, "he
   will not hold him guiltless (that is, will assuredly punish him) that
   taketh his name in vain:" not to mention that it is the greatest abuse
   of that noble faculty of speech, whereby we are distinguished from the
   brute creation; or the great hazard the common swearer runs, of being
   perjured some time or other: not to mention those reasons against it,
   which of themselves would abundantly prove the folly and sinfulness of
   swearing: I shall at this time content myself with instancing four
   particulars, which highly aggravate the crime of profane swearing, and
   those are such as follow:

   I. First, Because there is no temptation in nature to this sin, nor
   does the commission of it afford the offender the least pleasure or
   satisfaction.

   II. Secondly, Because it is a sin which may be so often repeated.

   III. Thirdly, Because it hardens infidels against the Christian
   religion, and must give great offense, and occasion much sorrow and
   concern to every true disciple of Jesus Christ.

   IV. Fourthly, Because it is an extremity of sin, which can only be
   matched in hell.

   I. The first reason then, why swearing in common conversation is so
   heinous in God's sight, and why we should not swear at all, is, because
   it has no temptation in nature, nor does the commission of it, unless a
   man be a devil incarnate, afford the offender the least pleasure or
   satisfaction.

   Now here, I presume, we may lay it down as a maxim universally agreed
   on, that the guilt of any crime is increased or lessened in proportion
   to the weakness or strength of the temptation, by which a person is
   carried to the commission of it. It was this consideration that
   extenuated and diminished the guilt of Saul's taking upon him to offer
   sacrifice before the Prophet Samuel came; and of Uzza's touching the
   ark, because it was in danger of falling: as, on the contrary, what so
   highly aggravated the disobedience of our first parents, and of Lot's
   wife, was, because the former had so little reason to eat the forbidden
   fruit, and the latter so small a temptation to look back on Sodom.

   And now if this be granted, surely the common swearer must of all
   sinners be the most without excuse, since there is no manner of
   temptation in nature to commission of his crime. In most of the other
   commands, persons, perhaps, may plead the force of natural inclination
   in excuse for the breach of them: one, for instance, may alledge his
   string propensity to anger, to excuse his breaking of the sixth;
   another, his proneness to lust, for his violation of the seventh. But
   surely the common swearer has nothing of this kind to urge in his
   behalf; for though he may have a natural inclination to this or that
   crime, yet no man, it is to be presumed, can say, he is born with a
   swearing constitution.

   But further, As there is no temptation to it, so there is no pleasure
   or profit to be reaped from the commission of it. Ask the drunkard why
   he rises up early to follow strong drink, and he will tell you, because
   it affords his sensual appetite some kind of pleasure and
   gratification, though it be no higher than that of a brute. Inquire of
   the covetous worldling, why he defrauds and over-reaches his neighbor,
   and he has an answer ready; to enrich himself, and lay up goods for
   many years. But it must certainly puzzle the profane swearer himself,
   to inform you what pleasure he reaps from swearing: for alas! it is a
   fruitless tasteless thing that he sells his soul for. But indeed he
   does not sell it at all: in this case he prodigally gives it away
   (without repentance) to the devil; and parts with a blessed eternity,
   and runs into everlasting torment, merely for nothing.

   II. But Secondly, what increases the heinousness of profane swearing,
   is, that it is a sin which may so often be repeated.

   This is another consideration which always serves to lessen or increase
   the guilt and malignity of any sin. It was some excuse for the
   drunkenness of Noah, and the adultery of David, that they committed
   these crimes but once; as, on the contrary, of the patriarch Abraham's
   distrust of God, that he repeated the dissembling [deception] of Sarah
   to be his wife, two several times. And if this be admitted as an
   aggravation of other profane crimes, surely much more so of the guilt
   of common swearing, because it is a sin which may be, and is for the
   generality often repeated. In many other gross sins it cannot be so: if
   a man be overcome in drink, there must be a considerable time ere he
   can recover his debauch, and return to his cups again: or if he be
   accustomed to profane the sabbath, he cannot do it every day, but only
   one in seven. But alas! the profane swearer is ready for another oath,
   almost before the sound of the first is out of our ears; yea, some
   double and treble them in one sentence, even so as to confound the
   sense of what they say, by an horrid din of blasphemy! Now if the great
   and terrible Jehovah has expressly declared that he will not hold him
   guiltless, that is, will assuredly punish him, that taketh his name but
   once in vain; what a vast heap of these heinous sins lies at every
   common swearer's door? It would be apt to sink him into an intolerable
   despair, did he but see the whole sum of them. And O what a seared
   conscience must that wretch have, that does not feel this prodigious
   weight!

   III. But Thirdly, what makes the sin of profane swearing appear yet
   more exceeding sinful, is, that it hardens infidels against the
   Christian religion.

   It is the Apostle Peter's advice to the married persons of his time,
   that they should walk as became the gospel of Christ, that those who
   were without, might be won to embrace the Christian religion, by seeing
   and observing their pious conversation coupled together with fear. And
   what the Apostle presses on married persons, we find elsewhere enjoined
   on each particular member of the church. Accordingly we are commanded
   by our blessed Lord, to "let our light to shine before men, that they
   may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven;" And
   the Apostle Paul bids us "walk circumspectly towards them that are
   without, redeeming the time;" that is, embracing all opportunities to
   do them good, "because the days are evil." But alas! in what a direct
   contradiction does the profane swearer live to this and such-like
   precepts, who, instead of gaining proselytes to Christ from the
   unbelieving part of the world, does all he can to oppose it! For how
   can it be expected, that infidels should honor God, when Christians
   themselves despise him; or that any should embrace our religion, when
   professors of it themselves make so light of one of its strictest
   commands? No; to our grief and shame be it spoken, it is by reason of
   such impieties as these, that our holy religion (the best and purest in
   itself) is become a by-word among the heathen; that the sacred
   authority of the holy Jesus and his doctrine is despised; and "God's
   name (as it is written) blasphemed among the Gentiles."

   These cannot but be sad stumbling-blocks and offenses in the way of our
   brethren's conversion; "But woe be to those men by whom such offenses
   come." We may say of them, as our blessed Lord did of Judas, "It had
   been better for such men, that they had never been born;" or, as he
   threatens in another place, "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and
   Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for such sinners."

   But this is not all; As profane swearing must undoubtedly harden those
   in their infidelity, that are without, so must it no less grieve and
   give great offense to those hones and sincere persons that are within
   the church. We hear of David's complaining and crying out, "Woe is me,
   that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation
   amongst the tents of Kedar;" that is, that he was obliged to live and
   converse with a people exceedingly wicked and profane. And St. Peter
   tells us, that "Lot's righteous soul was grieved day by day, whilst he
   saw and observed the ungodly conversation of the wicked." And no doubt
   it was one great part of our blessed Master's sufferings whilst on
   earth, that he was compelled to converse with a wicked and perverse
   generation, and to hear his heavenly Father's sacred name profaned and
   scoffed at by unrighteous and wicked men. And surely it cannot but
   pierce the heart of every true and sincere Christian, of every one that
   does in any measure partake of the spirit of his master, to hear the
   multitude of oaths and curses which proceed daily and hourly out of the
   mouths of many people, and those too, whose liberal education, and
   seeming regard for the welfare of religion, one would think, should
   teach them a more becoming behavior. To hear the great and terrible
   name of God polluted by men, which is adored by angels; and to consider
   how often that sacred name is profaned in common discourse, which we
   are not worthy to mention in our prayers; this, I say, cannot but make
   each of them cry out with holy David, "Woe is me, that I am constrained
   to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation amongst the tents of
   Kedar." And though the blasphemous and profane discourses of others,
   will not be imputed to sincere persons for sin, so long as they "have
   no fellowship with such hellish fruits of darkness, but rather reprove
   them;" yet it will greatly enhance the present guilt, and sadly
   increase the future punishment of every profane swearer, by whom such
   offenses come. For if, as our Savior tells us, "it had been better for
   a man to have a mill-stone tied around his neck, than that he should
   offend one of his little once, (that is, the weakest of his disciples)
   how much sorer punishment will they be thought worthy of," who not only
   cause God's name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles, and the religion
   of our dear Redeemer to be abhorred; but who make his saints to weep
   and mourn, and vex their righteous souls from day to day, by their
   ungodly, profane, and blasphemous conversation? Surely, as God will put
   the tears of the one into his bottle, so it will be just in him to
   punish the other with eternal sorrow, for all their ungodly and hard
   speeches, and cast them into a lake of fire and brimstone, where they
   shall be glad of a drop of water to cool those tongues, with which they
   have so often blasphemed the Lord of Hosts, and grieved the people of
   our God.

   IV. But it is time for me to proceed to give my Fourth and last reason,
   why common swearing is so exceeding sinful; and that is, Because it is
   such an extremity of sin, that can only be matched in hell, where all
   are desperate, and without hope of mercy.

   The damned devils, and damned souls of men in hell, may be supposed to
   rave and blaspheme in their torments, because they know that the chains
   wherein they are held, can never be knocked off; but for men that swim
   in the river of God's goodness, whose mercies are renewed to them every
   morning, and who are visited with fresh tokens of his infinite
   unmerited loving-kindness every moment; for these favorite creatures to
   set their mouths against heaven, and to blaspheme a gracious, patient,
   all-bountiful God; is a height of sin which exceeds the blackness and
   impiety of devils and hell itself.

   And now, after what has been here offered, to show the heinousness of
   profane cursing and swearing in common conversation, may I not very
   justly address myself to you in the words of the text, "Therefore I say
   unto you, Swear not at all;" since it is a sin that has no temptation
   in nature, nor brings any pleasure or profit to the committer of it;
   since it hardens infidels in their infidelity, and affords sad causes
   of grief and lamentation to every honest Christian; since it is a sin
   that generally grows into a habit, and lastly, such a sin that can only
   be matched in hell.

   1. And first then, if these things be so, and the sin of profane
   swearing, as hath been in some measure shown, is so exceeding sinful,
   what shall we say to such unhappy men, who think it not only allowable,
   but fashionable and polite, to "take the name of God in vain;" who
   imagine that swearing makes them look big among their companions, and
   really think it a piece of honor to abound in it? But alas! little do
   they think that such a behavior argues the greatest degeneracy of mind
   and fool-hardiness, that can possibly be thought of. For what can be
   more base, than one hour to pretend to adore God in public worship, and
   the very next moment to blaspheme his name; indeed, such a behavior,
   from persons who deny the being of a God, (if any such fools there be)
   is not altogether to much to be wondered at; but for men, who not only
   subscribe to the belief of a Deity, but likewise acknowledge him to be
   a God of infinite majesty and power; for such men to blaspheme his holy
   name, by profane cursing and swearing, and at the same time confess,
   that this very God has expressly declared, he will not hold him
   guiltless, but will certainly and eternally punish (without repentance)
   him that taketh his name in vain; is such an instance of
   fool-hardiness, as well as baseness, that can scarcely be paralleled.
   This is what they presume not to do in other cases of less danger: they
   dare not revile a general at the head of his army, nor rouse a sleeping
   lion when within reach of his paw. And is the Almighty God, the great
   Jehovah, the everlasting King, who can consume them by the breath of
   his nostrils, and frown them to hell in an instant; is he the only
   contemptible being in their account, that may be provoked without fear,
   and offended without punishment? No; though God hear long, he will not
   bear always; the time will come, and that too, perhaps, much sooner
   than such persons may expect, when God will vindicate his injured
   honor, when he will lay bare his almighty arm, and make those wretches
   feel the eternal smart of his justice, show power and name they have so
   often vilified and blasphemed. Alas! what will become of all their
   bravery then? Will they then wantonly sport with the name of their
   Maker, and call upon the King of all the earth to damn them any more in
   jest? No; their note will then be changed: indeed, they shall call, but
   it will be for "the rocks to fall on them, and the hills to cover them
   from the wrath of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the Lamb
   for ever." It is true, time was when they prayed, though without
   thought, perhaps, for damnation both for themselves and others; and now
   they will find their prayers answered. "They delighted in cursing,
   therefore shalt it happen unto them; they loved not blessing, therefore
   shall it be far from them; they clothed themselves with cursing like as
   with a garment, and it shall come into their bowels like water, and
   like oil into their bones."

   2. But further, if the sin of swearing is so exceeding heinous, and
   withal so common, then it is every particular person's duty, especially
   those that are in authority, to do their utmost towards
   discountenancing and suppressing so malignant a crime. The duty we owe
   both to God and our neighbor, requires this at our hands; by the one we
   are obliged to assert our Maker's honor; by the other to prevent our
   neighbor's ruin; and it is but doing as we would be done by, and as we
   ourselves act in cases of lesser consequence. Were we to hear either
   our own or our friend's good name vilified [slandered, maligned] and
   traduced [slandered, maligned], we should think it our bounden duty to
   vindicate the wronged reputation of each; and shall the great,
   terrible, and holy name of our best and only friend, our king, our
   father, nay our God: shall this be daily, nay every moment, defied and
   blasphemed; and will no one dare to stand up in defense of his honor
   and holiness? Be astonished, O heavens, at this! No; let us scorn all
   such base and treacherous treatment; let us resolve to support the
   cause of religion, and with a becoming prudent courage manifest our
   zeal for the honor of the Lord of Hosts. Men in authority have double
   the advantages of ordinary Christians; their very office shows they are
   intended for the punishment of evil doers. And such is the degeneracy
   of mankind, that the generality of them will be more influenced by the
   power of persons in authority, than by the most labored exhortations
   from the pulpit. To such, therefore, if there are any here present, I
   humbly address myself, beseeching them, in the name of our Lord Jesus
   Christ, to do their utmost to put a stop to, and restrain profane
   cursing and swearing. And though it must be confessed, that this is a
   work which requires a great deal of courage and pains, yet they would
   do well to consider, it is for God they undertake it, who certainly
   will support and bear them out in a due execution of their office here,
   and reward them with an exceeding and eternal weight of glory
   hereafter. But it is time to draw towards a conclusion.

   3. Let me, therefore, once more address myself to every person here
   present, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and if any amongst them
   have been any way guilty of this notorious sin of swearing, let me
   entreat them by all that is near and dear to them, that they would
   neither give the magistrate the trouble to punish, nor their friends
   any reason for the future to warn them against committing the crime;
   but keep a constant and careful watch over the door of their lips, and
   withal implore the divine assistance (without which all is nothing)
   that they offend no more so scandalously with their tongues. Let them
   seriously lay to heart, what with great plainness and simplicity has
   here been delivered: and if they have any regard for themselves as men,
   or their reputation as Christians; if they would not be a public
   scandal to their profession, or a grief to all that know or converse
   with them: in short, if they would not be devils incarnate here, and
   provoke God to punish them eternally hereafter; I say unto them in the
   name of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Swear not at all."
     __________________________________________________________________

                       Christ the Support of the Tempted

   Matthew 6:13 -- "Lead us not into temptation."

   The great and important duty which is incumbent on Christians, is to
   guard against all appearance of evil; to watch against the first
   risings in the heart to evil; and to have a guard upon our actions,
   that they may not be sinful, or so much as seem to be so. It is true,
   the devil is tempting us continually, and our own evil hearts are ready
   to join with the tempter, to make us fall into sins, that he thereby
   may obtain a victory over us, and that we, my brethren, may be his
   subjects, his servants, his slaves; and then by-and-by he will pay us
   our wages, which will be death temporal, and death eternal. Our Lord
   Jesus Christ saw how his people would be tempted; and that the great
   enemy of their souls would lay hold of every opportunity, so he could
   but be a means of keeping poor sinners from coming to the Lord Jesus
   Christ; hurrying you with temptation, to drive you to some great sins;
   and then if he cannot gain you over, sell it to a smaller, and suit his
   temptations time after time; and when he finds none of these things
   will do, often transform himself into an angel of light, and by that
   means make the soul fall into sin, to the dishonor of God, and the
   wounding of itself; the Lord Jesus, I say, seeing how liable his
   disciples, and all others, would be to be overcome by temptation,
   therefore advises them, when they pray, to beg that they might not be
   led into temptation. It is so dangerous to engage so subtle and
   powerful an enemy as Satan is, that we shall be overcome as often as we
   engage, unless the Lord is on our side. My brethren, if you were left
   to yourselves, you would be overcome by every temptation with which you
   are beset.

   These words are part of the prayer which Christ taught his disciples;
   and I shall, therefore, make no doubt, but that you all believe them to
   be true, since they are spoken by one who cannot lie. I shall,

   I. Show you who it is that tempts you.

   II. Shall show, my brethren, why he tempts you.

   III. Mention some of the ways and means he makes use of, to draw you
   over to his temptations.

   IV. Let you see how earnest you ought to be to the Lord, that he may
   preserve you from being led into temptation.

   V. I shall make some application by way of entreaty unto you, to come
   unto Christ, that he, my brethren, may deliver you from being tempted.

   I. First, We are to consider who it is that tempts us.

   And the tempter is Satan, the prince of the power of the air, he that
   now ruleth in the children of disobedience; he is an enemy to God and
   goodness, he is a hater of all truth. Why else did he slander God in
   paradise? Why did he tell Eve, "You shall not surely die?" He is full
   of malice, envy, and revenge; for what reasons else could induce him to
   molest innocent man in paradise? The person that tempts ye, my
   brethren, is remarkable for his subtlety; for having not power given
   him from above, he is obliged to wait for opportunities to betray us,
   and to catch us by guile; he, therefore, made use of the serpent to
   tempt our first parents; and to lie in wait to deceive, is another part
   of his character. And though this character is given of the devil, if
   we were to examine our own hearts, we should find many of the tempter's
   characters legible in us.

   Do not many of you love to make a lie? And if it is done in your trade;
   you therefore look on it as excusable; but whether you believe it or
   not, it is sinful, it is exceedingly sinful. Though you may value
   yourselves as fine rational creatures, and that you are noble beings;
   and you were so, as you first came out of God's hands; but now you are
   fallen, there is nothing lovely, nothing desirable in man; his heart is
   a sink of pollution, full of sin and uncleanness: Yet, though a man's
   own heart is so desperately wicked, he is told by our modern polite
   preachers, that there is a fitness in men, and that God seeing you a
   good creature, gives you his grace; but this, though it is a modern,
   polite, and fashionable way of talking, is very unscriptural; it is
   very contrary to the doctrines of the Reformation, and to our own
   Articles. But however contrary to the doctrines of the Church of
   England, yet our pulpits ring of nothing more, than doing no one any
   harm, living honestly, loving your neighbor as yourselves, and do what
   you can, and then Christ is to make up the deficiency: this is making
   Christ to be half a savior, and man the other part; but I say, Christ
   will be your whole righteousness, your whole wisdom, your whole
   sanctification, or else he will never be your whole redemption. How
   amazing is it, that the ministers of the church of England should speak
   quite contrary to what they have subscribed! Good God! If these are the
   guides of the ignorant, and esteemed to be the true ministers of Jesus,
   because they have a great share of letter-learning; when at the same
   time they are only the blind leaders of the blind; and without a
   special Providence, they both will fall into the ditch.

   No wonder at people's talking of the fitness and unfitness of things,
   when they can tell us, that the Spirit of God, is a good conscience,
   and the comforts of the Holy Ghost are consequent thereupon. But this
   is wrong; for it should be said, the Spirit of God, are the comforts of
   the Holy Ghost, and a good conscience consequent thereupon. Seneca,
   Cicero, Plato, or any of the heathen philosophers, would have given as
   good a definition as this; it means no more than reflecting we have
   done well.

   But let these modern, polite gentlemen, and let my letter-learned
   brethren, paint man in as lovely colors as they please, I will not do
   it; I dare not make him better than the word of God does. If I was to
   paint man in his proper colors, I must go to the kingdom of hell for a
   copy; for man is by nature full of pride, subtlety, malice, envy,
   revenge, and all uncharitableness; and what are these but the temper of
   the devil? And lust, sensuality, pleasure, these are the tempers of the
   beast. Thus, my brethren, man is half a beast, and half a devil, a
   motley mixture of the beast and devil. And this is the creature, who
   has made himself so obnoxious to the wrath of God, and open to his
   indignation, that is told, that he must be part his own savior, by
   doing good works, and what he cannot do Christ will do for him.

   This is giving the tempter great room to come in with his temptation;
   he may press a soul to follow moral duties, to go to church, take the
   sacrament, read, pray, meditate; the devil is well content you should
   do all these; but if they are done in your own strength, or if you go
   no farther than here, you are only going a smoother way to hell.

   Thus, my brethren, you may see who it is that tempts us. But

   II. Why he tempts you, is the second thing I am to show you.

   It is our of envy to you, and to the Lord Jesus Christ, he endeavors to
   keep you from closing with Jesus; and if he can but keep you from
   laying hold by faith on Christ, he knows he has you safe enough; and
   the more temptations you are under, and according to their nature and
   greatness, you are more hurried in your minds; and the more unsettled
   your thoughts and affections are, the more apt you are to conclude,
   that if you were to go to Christ, at present, in all that hurry of
   mind, he would not receive you; but this is a policy of the tempter, to
   make you have low and dishonorable thoughts of the blessed Jesus; and
   so by degrees he works upon your minds, that you are careless and
   indifferent about Christ. This, this, my brethren, is the design of the
   tempter. Nothing will please him more, than to see you ruined and lost
   forever. He tempts you for that end, that you may lose your interest in
   Jesus Christ, and that you may dwell with him and apostate spirits to
   all eternity. He knows that Jesus Christ died for sinners, yet he would
   fain keep souls from seeking to this city of refuge for shelter, and
   from going to Gilead for the true balm.

   It is he that rules in thy heart, O scoffer, O Pharisee; the devil
   reigns there, and endeavors to blind your eyes, that you shall not see
   what danger you are in, and how much evil there is in those hearts of
   yours; and as long as he can keep you easy and unconcerned about having
   your hearts changed, he will be easy; though if he can, he will tempt
   you to sin against him, until you are hardened in your iniquity. O, my
   brethren, do not give the devil a handle wherewith he may lay hold on
   you; alas! it is not wonder that the devil tempts you, when he finds
   you at a play, a ball, or masquerade; if you are doing the devil's
   work, it is no wonder if he presses you in the continuation thereof;
   and how can any say, "Lead us not into temptation," in the morning,
   when they are resolved to run into it at night? Good God! Are these
   persons members of the church of England? Alas, when you have gone to
   church, and read over the prayers, it is offering no more than the
   sacrifice of fools; you say Amen to them with your lips, when in your
   hearts you are either unconcerned at what you are about, or else you
   think that the bare saying of your prayers is sufficient, and that then
   God and you have balanced accounts.

   But, my dear brethren, do not deceive yourselves, God is not to be
   mocked. You are only ruining yourselves for time and eternity. You
   pray, "lead us not into temptation," when you are tempting the devil to
   come and tempt you.

   III. I shall now point out some of the ways and means, he makes use of
   to draw you to himself.

   But this is a field so large, and I have but just begun to be a soldier
   of Jesus Christ, that I cannot name many unto you. I shall therefore be
   very short on this head.

   1. He endeavors to make you think sin is not so great as it is; that
   there is no occasion of being so over-strict, and that you are
   righteous over-much; that you are ostentatious [showy, pompous,
   egotistical], and will do yourself harm by it; and that you will
   destroy yourselves. He shows you, by brethren, the bait, but he hides
   the hook; he shows you the pleasure, profits, and advantages, that
   attend abundance of this world's goods; but he does not show you
   crosses, losses and vexations that you may have while you are in the
   enjoyment of the blessings of this world.

   2. When he finds he cannot allure you by flattery, he will try you by
   frowns, and the terrors of this world; he will stir up people to point
   at you, and cry, "Here comes another troop of his followers;" He will
   stir them up to jeer, scoff, backbite, and hate you; but if he still
   finds this will not do, then he throws doubts, my brethren, and
   discouragement in your mind, whether the way you are in is the true way
   or not; or else he will suggest, What! Do you expect to be saved by
   Christ? Also, He did not die for you; you have been too great a sinner;
   you have lived in sin so long, and committed such sins against Christ,
   which he will not forgive. Thus he hurries poor sinners almost into
   despair.

   And very often, when the people of God are met to worship him, he sends
   his agents, the scoffers, to disturb them. We saw an instance of their
   rage just now; they would fain have disturb us; but the Lord was on our
   side, and so prevented all the attempts of wicked and designing men, to
   disturb and disquiet us. Lord Jesus, forgive them who are thus
   persecuting thy truth! Jesus, show them that they are fighting against
   thee, and that it is hard for them to kick against the pricks! These,
   my brethren, are some of the ways Satan takes, in is temptations, to
   bring you from Christ. Many more might be named; but these are
   sufficient, I hope, to keep you on your guard, against all that the
   enemy can do to hinder you from coming to Christ.

   IV. I come to show you, how earnest you ought to be with Jesus Christ,
   either not to suffer you to be led into temptations, or to preserve you
   under them.

   And here, my dear brethren, let me beseech you to go to Jesus Christ;
   tell him, how you are assaulted by the evil one, who lies in wait for
   your souls; tell him, you are not able to master him, in your own
   strength; beg his assistance, and you shall find him ready to help you;
   ready to assist you, and to be your Guide, your Comforter, your Savior,
   your All; He will give you strength to resist the fiery darts of the
   devil; and, therefore, you can no where find one so proper to relieve
   you, as Jesus Christ; he knows what it is to be tempted; he was tempted
   by Satan in the wilderness, and he will give you the assistance of his
   Spirit, to resist the evil one, and then he will fly from you. In
   Christ Jesus you shall have the strength you stand in need of, the
   devil shall have no power; therefore fear not, for in the name of the
   Lord we shall overcome all our spiritual Amalekites. Let the devil and
   his agents rage, let them breathe out threatenings, yes, let them
   breathe out slaughters, yet we can rejoice in this, that Jesus Christ
   hath them in his power, they shall go no farther than he permits them;
   they may rage, they may rage horribly, but they can go no farther,
   until they have got more power from on high.

   If they could do us what mischief they would, very few of us should be
   permitted to see our habitations any more; but, blessed be God, we can
   commit ourselves to his protection; he has been our protector hitherto,
   he will be so still. Then earnestly entreat of the Lord to support you
   under those temptations, which the devil may assault you with; he is a
   powerful adversary, he is a cunning one too; he would be too hard for
   us, unless we have the strength of Christ to be with us. But let us be
   looking up unto Jesus, that he would send his Spirit into our hearts,
   and keep us from falling. O my dear brethren in Christ Jesus, how
   stands it now between God and your souls? Is Jesus altogether lovely to
   your souls? Is he precious unto you? I am sure, if you have not gone
   back from Christ, he will not from you; he will root out the accursed
   things of this world, and dwell in your hearts. You are candidates for
   heaven; and will you mind earth ? What are all the pleasures of earth,
   without an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ? And one smile from him is
   more to be desired than rubies, yea more than the whole world.

   O you who have found Jesus Christ assisting you, and supporting you
   under all the temptations of this life, will you forsake him? Have you
   not found him a gracious master? Is he not the chiefest of ten
   thousand, and altogether lovely? Now you see a form and comeliness in
   Christ, which you never saw before. O! how do you and I wish we had
   known Jesus sooner, and that we had more of his love; it is
   condescending love, it is amazing, it is forgiving love, it is dying
   love, it is exalted and interceding love, and it is glorified love.
   Methinks when I am talking of the love of Jesus Christ, who loved me
   before I love him; he saw us polluted in blood, full of sores, a slave
   to sin, to death and hell, running to destruction, then he passed by
   me, and said unto my soul, "Live;" he snatched me as a brand plucked
   from the burning. It was love that saved me, it was all of the free
   grace of God, and that only. The little experience I have had of this
   love, makes me amazed at the condescension, the love, and mercifulness
   of the blessed Jesus, that he should have mercy upon such a wretch. O,
   my brethren, the kingdom of God is within me, and this fills me so full
   of love, that I would not be in my natural state again, not for
   millions of millions of worlds; I long to be with Jesus, to live with
   the Lord that bought me, to live forever with the Lamb that was slain,
   and to sing Hallelujah's unto him. Eternity itself will be too short to
   set forth the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot, indeed I cannot
   forbear speaking again, and again, and again, of the Lord Jesus.

   And if there are any here who are strangers to this love of the Lord
   Jesus Christ, do not despair; come, come unto Christ, and he will have
   mercy upon you, he will pardon all your sins, he will heal all your
   backslidings, he will love you freely, and take you to be with
   himself.. Come therefore, O my guilty brethren, unto Jesus, and you
   shall find rest for your souls. You need not fear, you need not
   despair, when God has had mercy upon such a wretch as I; and he will
   save you also, if you will come unto him by faith.

   Why do ye delay? What! Do you say, you are poor, and therefore ashamed
   to come? It is not your poverty that Christ mindeth; come in all your
   rags, in all your pollution, and he will save you. Do not depend upon
   any thing but the blood of Jesus Christ; do not stand out an hour
   longer, but give your hearts to Christ, give him the firstlings of the
   flock; come unto him now, lest he should cut you off before you are
   prepared, and your soul be sent to that pit from whence there is no
   redemption.

   Do not waver, but give him that which he desires, your hearts; it is
   the heart the Lord Jesus Christ wanteth; and when you have an inward
   principle wrought in your hearts by this same Jesus, then you will feel
   the sweetness and pleasure of communion with God. O consider, my
   brethren, the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, in dying for you; and are
   you resolved to slight his dying love? Your sins brought Christ from
   heaven, and I humbly pray to the Lord that they may not be a means of
   sending you to hell. What language will make you leave your sins and
   come to Christ? O that I did but know! And that it lay in my power to
   give you this grace; not one of you, not the greatest scoffer here
   should go hence before he was changed from a natural to a spiritual
   life; then, then we would rejoice and take sweet council together; but
   all this is not in my power; but I tell you where you may have it, even
   of the Lord Jesus; he will give it to you, if you ask it of him, for he
   has told us, "Ask, and you shall receive;" therefore ask of him, and if
   you are repulsed again and again, entreat him more, and he will be unto
   you as he was to the poor Syrophoenician woman, who came to Christ on
   account of her daughter; and is she was so importunate to him for a
   body, how much more should we be solicitous for our souls? If you seek
   to him in faith, his answer will be to you as it was to her, "Thy faith
   hath saved thee, be it as thou wouldest have it."

   O, do not forsake the seeking of the Lord; do not, I beseech you,
   neglect the opportunities which may be offered to you, for the
   salvation of your souls; forsake not the assembling of yourselves
   together, to build up and confirm and strengthen those who are weak in
   faith; to convince sinners, that they may feel the power of God
   pricking them in their hearts, and make them cry out, "What must we do
   to be saved?"

   The devil and his agents have their clubs of reveling, and their
   societies of drunkenness; they are not ashamed to be seen and heard
   doing the devil their master's works; they are not ashamed to proclaim
   him; and sure you are not ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ; you dare
   proclaim that Jesus, who died that you might live, and who will own you
   before his Father and all the holy angels; Therefore, dare to be
   singularly good; be not afraid of the face of man; let not all the
   threats of the men of this world move you; what is the loss of all the
   grandeur, or pleasure, or reputation of this life, compared to the loss
   of heaven, of Christ and of your souls? And as for the reproaches of
   the world, do not mind them; when they revile you, never, never revile
   again; do not answer railing with railing; but let love, kindness,
   meekness, patience, long-suffering, be found in you, as they were in
   the blessed Jesus; therefore, I beseech you, do not neglect the
   frequent coming together, and telling each other, what great things
   Jesus Christ hath done for your souls.

   I do not now, as the Pharisees say I do, encourage you to leave your
   lawful callings, and your business, in which God, by his providence,
   hath placed you; for you have two callings, the one a general, and the
   other a special one; it is your duty to regard your families, and if
   you neglect them out of any pretense whatever, as going to church or in
   societies, you are out of the way of your duty, and offering that to
   God which he commanded you not. But then, my brethren, you are to take
   care that the things of this life do not hinder the preparing for that
   which is to come; let not the business of the world make you unmindful
   of your souls; but in all your moral actions, in the business of life,
   let all be done with a view to the glory of God, and the salvation of
   your souls.

   The night draws on, and obliges me to hasten to a conclusion; though,
   methinks, I could speak until my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth,
   yes, until I could speak no more, if it was to save your souls from the
   paws of him who seeketh to devour you.

   Therefore let me beseech you, in all love and compassion; Consider,
   you, who are Pharisees; you, who will not come to Christ, but are
   trusting to yourselves for righteousness; who think, because you lead
   civil, honest, decent lives, all will go well at last; but let me tell
   you, O ye Pharisees, that harlots, murderers, and thieves, shall enter
   the kingdom of God before you. Do not flatter yourselves of being in
   the way to heaven, when you are in the broad way to hell; but if you
   will throw away your righteousness and come to Christ, and be contented
   to let Jesus Christ do all for you, and in you, then Christ is willing
   to be your Savior; but if you bring your good works with you, and think
   to be justified on the account of them, you may seek to be justified by
   them forever, and never be justified; no, it is only the blood of Jesus
   Christ that cleanseth us from the filth and pollution of all our sins;
   and you must be sanctified before you are justified. As for good works,
   we are justified before God without any respect to them, either past,
   present, or to come: when w are justified, good works will follow our
   justification, for we can do no good works, until we are cleansed of
   our pollution, by the sanctification of the Spirit of God.

   O ye scoffers, come and see this Jesus, this Lord of glory whom you
   have despised; and if you will but come to Christ, he will be willing
   to receive you, notwithstanding all the persecution you have used
   towards his members; However, if you are resolved to persist in your
   obstinacy, remember, salvation was offered to you, that Christ and free
   grace were proposed; but you refused to accept of either, and therefore
   your blood will be required at your own hands.

   I shall only say this unto you, that however you may despise either me
   or my ministry, I shall not regard it, but shall frequently show you
   your danger, and propose to you the remedy; and shall earnestly pity
   and pray for you, that God would show you your error, and bring you
   home into his sheepfold, that you, from ravenous lions, may become
   peaceful lambs.

   And as for you, O my brethren, who desire to choose Christ for you
   Lord, and to experience his power upon your souls, and as you do not
   find your desires and prayers answered; go on, and Christ will manifest
   himself unto you, as he does not unto the world; you shall be made to
   see and feel this love of Jesus upon your souls; you shall have a
   witness in your own breast, that you are the Lord's; therefore, do not
   fear, the Lord Jesus Christ will gather you with his elect, when he
   comes at that great day of accounts, to judge every one according to
   the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be
   evil; and, O that the thought of answering to God for all our actions,
   would make us more mindful about the consequences that will attend it.

   And now let me address all of you, high and low, rich and poor, one
   with another, to accept of mercy and grace while it is offered to you;
   Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation; and will you not
   accept it, now it is offered unto you? Do not stand out one moment
   longer; but come and accept of Jesus Christ in his own way, and then
   you shall be taken up at the last day, and be with him forever and
   ever; and sure this should make you desirous of being with that Jesus
   who has done so much for you, and is not interceding for you, and
   preparing mansions for you; where may we all arrive and sit down with
   Jesus to all eternity!

   Which God of his infinite mercy grant, &c
     __________________________________________________________________

              Worldly Business No Plea for the Neglect of Religion

   Matthew 8:22 -- "Let the dead bury their dead."

   St. Paul preaching at Athens, tells them, that as he passed by and
   beheld their devotions, he perceived they were in all things too
   superstitious. But was this apostle to rise, can come publishing the
   glad tidings of salvation in any of our populous cities, he would see
   no reason why he should charge the inhabitants with this; but rather as
   he passed by and observed the tenor of their life, say, I perceive in
   all things ye are two worldly-minded; ye are too eagerly bent on
   pursuing your lawful business; so eagerly, as either wholly to neglect,
   or at least too heedlessly to attend on the one thing needful.

   There cannot then be a greater charity shown to the Christian world,
   than to sound an alarm in their ears, and to warn them of the
   inexpressible danger, of continually grasping after the things of this
   life, without being equally, nay a thousand times more concerned for
   their well-being in a future state.

   And there is still the more occasion for such an alarm, because
   worldly-mindedness so easily and craftily besets the hearts of men. For
   out of a specious pretense of serving God in laboring for the meat
   which perisheth, they are insensibly lulled into such a spiritual
   slumber, as scarce to perceive their neglect to secure that which
   endureth to everlasting life.

   The words of the text, if not at first view, yet when examined and
   explained, will be found applicable to this case, as containing an
   admirable caution not to pursue the affairs of this world, at the
   expense of our happiness in the next.

   They are the words of Jesus Christ himself: the occasion of their being
   spoken was this; As he was conversing with those that were gathered
   round about him, he gave one of them an immediate summons to follow
   him: but he, either afraid to go after such a persecuted master, or
   rather loving this present world, says, "Suffer me first to go home and
   bury my father," or, as most explain it, let me first go and dispatch
   some important business I have now in hand. But Jesus said unto him,
   "Let the dead bury their dead;" leave worldly business to worldly men,
   let thy secular business be left undone, rather than thou shouldst
   neglect to follow me.

   Whether this person did as he was commanded, I know not; but this I
   know, that what Christ said here is person, he has often whispered with
   the small still voice of his holy Spirit, and said to many here
   present, that rise up early and late take rest, and eat the bread of
   carefulness, Come draw off your affections from the things of this
   life; take up your cross and follow me. But they, willing to justify
   themselves, make answer, Lord, suffer us first to bury our fathers, or
   dispatch our secular affairs. I say unto all such, "Let the dead bury
   their dead," let your worldly business be left undone, rather than you
   should neglect to follow him.

   From the words thus explained, naturally arises this proposition, that
   no business, though ever so important, can justify a neglect of true
   religion.

   The truth of which I shall first show, and then make an application of
   it.

   I. First then, I am to prove, that no temporal business, though ever so
   important, can justify a neglect of true religion.

   By the word religion, I do not mean any set of moral virtues, any
   partial amendment of ourselves, or formal attendance on any outward
   duties whatsoever: but an application of Christ's whole and personal
   righteousness, made by faith to our hearts; a thorough real change of
   nature wrought in us by the invisible, yet powerful operation of the
   Holy Ghost, preserved and nourished in our souls by a constant use of
   all the means of grace, evidenced by a good life, and bringing forth
   the fruits of the Spirit.

   This is true and undefiled religion, and for the perfecting this good
   work in our hearts, the eternal Son of God came down and shed his
   precious blood; for this end were we made, and sent into the world, and
   by this alone can we become the sons of God. Were we indeed to judge by
   the common practice of the world, we might think we were sent into it
   for no other purpose, than to care and toil for the uncertain riches of
   this life: but if we consult the lively oracles, they will inform us,
   that we were born for nobler ends, even to be born again from above, to
   be restored to the divine likeness by Jesus Christ, our second Adam,
   and thereby be made meet to inherit the kingdom of heaven; and
   consequently, there is an obligation laid upon all, even the most busy
   people, to secure this end; it being an undeniable truth, that all
   creatures ought to answer the end for which they were created.

   Some indeed are for confining religion to the clergy, and think it only
   belongs to those who serve at the altar; but what a fatal mistake is
   this, seeing all persons are indifferently called by God to the same
   state of inward holiness. As we are all corrupt in our nature, so must
   we all be renewed and sanctified. And though it must be granted, that
   the clergy lie under double obligations to be examples to believers, in
   faith, zeal, charity, and whatever else s commendable and of good
   report, as being more immediately dedicated to the service of God; yet
   as we have been all baptized with one baptism into the death of Christ,
   we are all under the necessity of performing our baptismal covenant,
   and perfecting holiness in the fear of God: for the holy scriptures
   point out to us but one way of admission into the kingdom of Christ,
   through the narrow gate of a sound conversion: And he that does not
   enter into the sheepfold, whether clergy or lay-men, by this door, will
   find, to his everlasting confusion, there is no climbing up another
   way.

   Besides, what a gross ignorance of the nature of true religion, as well
   as of our own happiness, does such a distinction discover? For what
   does our Savior, by willing us to be religious, require of us? But to
   subdue our corrupt passions, to root out ill habits, to engraft the
   heavenly graces of God's most holy Spirit in their room; and, in one
   word, to fill us with all the fullness of God.

   And will men be so much their own enemies, as to affirm this belongs
   only to those who minister in holy things? Does it not equally concern
   the most active man living? Is it the end of religion to make men
   happy, and is it not every one's privilege to be as happy as he can? Do
   persons in business find the corruptions of their nature, and disorder
   of their passions, so pleasing, that they care not whether they ever
   regulate or root them out? Or will they consent that ministers shall be
   alone partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light? If not, as
   they desire the same end, why will they not make use of the same means?
   Do they think that God will create a new thing upon the earth, and,
   contrary to the purity of his nature, and immutability of his counsel,
   admit them into heaven in their natural state, because they have been
   encumbered about many worldly things? Search the scriptures, and see if
   they give any room for such a groundless hope.

   But farther, one would imagine there was something of the highest
   concern and utmost importance in our temporal affairs, that they should
   divert so many from purifying their hearts by faith which is in Christ
   Jesus.

   A covetous miser, who neglects religion by being continually intent on
   seeking great things for himself and those of his own household,
   flatters himself he herein acts most wisely; and at the same time will
   censure and condemn a young prodigal, who has no time to be devout,
   because he is so perpetually engaged in wasting his substance by
   riotous living and following of harlots. But yet a little while, and
   men will be convinced, that they are as much without excuse who lost
   their souls by hunting after riches, as those who lose them by hunting
   after sensual pleasures. For though business may assume an air of
   importance, when compared with other trifling amusements, yet when put
   in the balance with the loss of our precious and immortal souls, it is
   equally frivolous, according to that of our Savior, "What shall it
   profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lost his own soul;
   or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

   And now what need we any further proof? We have heard the decision out
   of Christ's own mouth. But because it is so difficult to convince such
   of this important truth, whose hearts are blinded by the deceitfulness
   of riches, that we had need cry out to them in the language of the
   prophet, "O earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord," I shall lay
   before you one passage of scripture more, which I could wish were
   written on the tables of all our hearts. In the 14th of St. Luke, the
   18th and following verses, our blessed Lord puts forth this parable, "A
   certain man made a great supper, and bade many, and sent his servant at
   supper-time, to call them that were bidden: but they all, with one
   consent, began to make excuse. The one said, I have bought a piece of
   ground, and I must needs go and see it, I pray thee have me excused.
   And another said, I have bought a yoke of oxen, and I must needs go and
   prove them, I pray thee therefore have me excused. So the servant
   returned, and showed his master all these things." And what follows?
   Did the master accept of their excuses? No, the text tells us the good
   man was angry, and said, "that none of those which were bidden, should
   taste of his supper." And what does this parable teach, but that the
   most lawful callings cannot justify our neglect; nay, that they are no
   longer lawful when they in any wise interfere with the great concerns
   of religion? For the marriage supper here spoken of, means the gospel;
   the master of the house is Christ; the servants sent out, are his
   ministers, whose duty it is, from time to time, to call the people to
   this marriage-feast, or, in other words, to be religious. Now we find
   those that were bidden, were very well and honestly employed. There was
   no harm in buying or seeing a piece of ground, or in going to prove a
   yoke of oxen; but here lay their faults, they were doing those things,
   when they were invited to come to the marriage feast.

   Without doubt, persons may very honestly and commendably be employed in
   following their respective callings; but yet, if they are engaged so
   deeply in these, as to hinder their working our their salvation with
   fear and trembling, they must expect the same sentence with their
   predecessors in the parable, that none of them shall taste of Christ's
   supper: for our particular calling, as of this or that profession, must
   never interfere with our general and precious calling, as Christians.
   Not that Christianity calls us entirely out of the world, the holy
   scriptures warrant no such doctrine.

   It is very remarkable, that in the book of life, we find some almost of
   all kinds of occupations, who notwithstanding served God in their
   respective generations, and shone as so many lights in the world. Thus
   we hear of a good centurion in the evangelists, and a devout Cornelius
   in the Acts; a pious lawyer; and some that walked with God, even of
   Nero's household, in the epistles; and our divine master himself, in
   his check to Martha, does not condemn her for minding, but for being
   cumbered or perplexed about many things.

   No, you may, nay, you must labor, our of obedience to God, even for the
   meat which perisheth.

   But I come, in the Second place, to apply what has been said.

   I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, let not your
   concern for the meat which perisheth be at the expense of that which
   endureth to everlasting life; for, to repeat our blessed Savior's
   words, "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
   and lose his own soul; or, what shall a man give in exchange for his
   soul?

   Were we always to live in the world, then worldly wisdom would be our
   highest wisdom: but forasmuch as we have here no continuing city, and
   were only sent into this world to have our natures changed, and to fit
   ourselves for that which is to come; then to neglect this important
   work for a little worldly gain, what is it but, with profane Esau, to
   sell our birth-right for a mess of pottage.

   Alas! how unlike are Christians to Christianity! They are commanded to
   "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and all other
   real necessaries shall be added unto them; but they are fearful (O men
   of little faith!) that if they should do so, all other necessaries
   would be taken from them: they are strictly forbidden to be careful for
   the morrow, and yet they rest not night or day, but are continually
   heaping up riches for many years, though they know not who shall gather
   them. Is this acting like persons that are strangers and pilgrims upon
   earth? Is this keeping their baptismal vow? Or rather, is it not
   directly apostatizing from it, and deserting the service of Jesus
   Christ, to list themselves under the banner of mammon?

   But what will be the hope of such worldlings, when God shall take away
   their souls? What if the almighty should say to each of them, as he did
   to the rich fool in the gospel, "this night shall thy soul be required
   of thee;" O then, what would all those things profit them, which they
   are now so busy in providing?

   Was eternal life, that free gift of God in Christ Jesus, to be
   purchased with money; or could men carry their flocks beyond the grave,
   to buy oil for their lamps, i.e. grace for their hearts, when they
   should be called to meet the bridegroom, there might be some reason why
   God might well bear with them: but since their money is to perish with
   them; since it is certain, as they brought nothing into the world, so
   they can carry nothing out; or supposing they could, since there is no
   oil to be bought, no grace to be purchased when once the lamp of their
   natural life is gone out; would it not be much more prudent to spend
   the short time they have here allotted them, in buying oil while it may
   be had, and not for fear of having a little less of that which will
   quickly be another man's, eternally lose the true riches?

   What think you? Is it to be supposed, it grieved that covetous
   worldling before mentioned, when his sprung into the world of spirits,
   that he could not stay here till he had pulled down his barns and built
   greater? Or think you not that all things here below seemed equally
   little to him then, and he only repented that he had not employed more
   time in pulling down every high thought that exalted itself against the
   Almighty, and building up his soul in the knowledge and fear of God?

   And thus it will be with all unhappy men, who like him are disquieting
   themselves in a vain pursuit after worldly riches, and at the same time
   are not rich towards God.

   They may, for a season, seem excellently well employed in being
   solicitously careful about the important concerns of this life; but
   when once their eyes are opened by death, and their souls launched into
   eternity, they will then see the littleness of all sublunary cares, and
   wonder they should be so besotted [intoxicated, loaded] to the things
   of another life, while they were, it may be, applauded for their great
   wisdom and profound sagacity in the affairs of this world.

   Alas! how will they bemoan themselves for acting like the unjust
   steward, so very wisely in their temporal concerns, in calling their
   respective debtors so carefully, and asking how much every one owes to
   them, and yet never remembering to call themselves to an account, or
   inquire how much they owed to their own great Lord and master?

   And now what shall I say more? The God of this world, and the
   inordinate desire of other things, must have wholly stifled the
   conscience of that man, who does not see the force of these plain
   reasonings.

   Permit me only to add a word or two to the rich, and to persons that
   are freed from the business of this life.

   But here I must pause a while, for I am sensible that it is but an
   ungrateful, and as some may imagine, an assuming thing, for such a
   novice in religion to take upon him to instruct men in high stations,
   and who perhaps would disdain to set me with the dogs of their flock.

   But however, since St. Paul, who knew what best became a young
   preacher, commanded Timothy, young as he was, to exhort and charge the
   rich with all authority; I hope none here that are so, will be
   offended, if with humility I beg leave to remind them, though they once
   knew this, that if persons in the most busy employs are indispensably
   obliged to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling," much
   more ought they to do so, who are free from the toils and encumbrance
   of a lower way of life, and consequently have greater opportunities to
   leisure to prepare themselves for a future state.

   But is this really the case? Or do we not find, by fatal experience,
   that too many of those whom God has exalted above their brethren, who
   are "clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day,"
   by a sad abuse of God's great bounty towards them, think that their
   stations set them above religion, and so let the poor, who live by the
   sweat of their brows, attend more constantly on the means of grace than
   do they?

   But woe unto such rich men! For they have received their consolation.
   Happy had it been if they had never been born: for if the careless
   irreligious tradesman cannot be saved, where will luxurious and wicked
   gentlemen appear?

   Let me therefore, by way of conclusion, exhort all persons, high and
   low, rich and poor, one with another, to make the renewal of their
   fallen nature, the one business of their lives; and to let no worldly
   profit, no worldly pleasure, divert them from the thoughts of it. Let
   this cry, "Behold the bridegroom cometh," be ever sounding in our ears;
   and let us live as creatures that are every moment liable to be hurried
   away by death to judgment: let us remember, that this life is a state
   of infinite importance, a point between two eternities, and that after
   these few days are ended, there will remain no more sacrifice for sin;
   let us be often asking ourselves, how we shall wish we had lived when
   we leave the world? And then we shall always live in such a state, as
   we shall never fear to die in. Whether we live, we shall live unto the
   Lord; or whether we die, we shall die unto the Lord; so that living or
   dying we may be the Lord's.

   To which end, let us beseech God, the protector of all them that put
   their trust in him, without whom nothing is string, nothing is holy, to
   increase and multiply upon us his mercy, that he being our ruler and
   guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not
   the things eternal; though Jesus Christ our Lord.
     __________________________________________________________________

               Christ the Only Rest for the Weary and Heavy-Laden

   Matthew 11:28 -- "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,
   and I will give you rest."

   Nothing is more generally known than our duties which belong to
   Christianity; and yet, how amazing is it, nothing is less practiced?
   There is much of it in name and show, but little of it in the heart and
   conversation; indeed, if going to church, and to the sacrament, or, if
   our being called after the name of Christ, and being baptized into that
   name; if that will make us Christians, I believe all of us would have a
   claim thereto: but if it consists in the heart, that there must be an
   inward principle wrought in us by faith; that there must be a change of
   the whole nature, a putting off the old man with his deeds, a turning
   from sin unto God, a cleaving only unto the Son of Righteousness; and
   that there must be a new birth, and we experience the pangs thereof;
   and that you must feel yourselves weary and heavy laden with your sins,
   before you will seek for deliverance from them; if this is to be the
   case, if there is so much in being children of God, alas! how many who
   please themselves with an outside show, a name to live whilst they are
   dead; and how few that have any share in this spiritual state, in this
   true and living name? How few are they who are weary and heavy laden
   with their sins, and seek to Christ for rest? They say, in a formal
   customary manner, we are sinners, and there is no health in us; but how
   few feel themselves sinners, and are so oppressed in their own spirits,
   that they have no quiet nor rest in them, because of the burden of
   their sins, and the weight that is fallen and lays on their minds?

   Under these burdens, these heavy burdens, they are at a loss what to do
   whereby they may obtain rest; they fly to their works, they go to a
   minister, and he tells them to read, to pray, and meditate, and take
   the sacrament: thus they go away, and read, and pray, and meditate
   almost without ceasing, and never neglect the sacrament whenever there
   is an opportunity for the taking of it. Well, when the poor soul has
   done all this, it still finds no ease, there is yet no relief. Well,
   what must you do then? To lie still under the burden they cannot, and
   to get rid of it then cannot. O what must the burdened soul do! Why,
   goes to the clergyman again, and tells him the case, and what it has
   done, and that it is no better. Well, he asks, have you given alms to
   the poor? Why no. Then go and do that, and you will find rest. Thus the
   poor sinner is hurried from duty to duty, and still finds no rest: all
   things are uneasy and disquiet within, and there remains no rest in the
   soul. And if it was to go through all the duties of religion, and read
   over a thousand manuals of prayers, none would ever give the soul any
   rest; nothing will, until it goes to the Lord Jesus Christ, for there
   is the only true rest; that is the rest which abideth, and will
   continue for ever. It is not in your own works, nor in your endeavors:
   no; when Christ comes into your souls, he pardons you, without any
   respect to your works, either past, present, or to come.

   From the words, my brethren, I have now read, I shall

   I. Show you who are the weary and heavy laden.

   II. Inquire what is meant by coming to Christ. And,

   III. Conclude with exhorting you to accept of the invitation which the
   Lord Jesus Christ gives unto you to come unto him, with the assurance
   of finding rest.

   First, I am to show you, who are the weary and heavy-laden.

   And here it will be necessary to consider who are not; and then, to
   consider who they are that are really so.

   1. Those who think themselves good enough, and are pleased that they
   are not so bad as others, these are not weary or heavy laden.

   No, these Pharisees are not thus troubled; they laugh and jest at those
   who talk of feeling their sins, and think there is no occasion to make
   so much ado about religion: it is to be righteous over-much, and the
   means to destroy yourselves. They think if they do but mean well, and
   say their prayers, as they call them, it is sufficient: though they may
   say a prayer, yea, thousands of prayers, and all the while be only
   offering up the sacrifice of fools. They may call God, Father, every
   day, when it is only mocking of God, and offering up false fire unto
   him; and it would be just for him to serve them, as he did Nadab and
   Abihu, destroy them, cut them off from the face of the earth: but he is
   waiting to be gracious, and willing to try a little longer, whether you
   will bring forth any thing more than the leaven of an outward
   profession, which is not all that the Lord requires; no, he wants the
   heart; and unless you honor him with that, he does not regard your
   mouths, when the other is far from him. You may say over your prayers
   all your lives, and yet you may never pray over one: therefore, while
   you flatter yourselves you are good enough, and that you are in a state
   of salvation, you are only deceiving you own souls, and hastening on
   your own destruction. Come unto him, not as being good enough, but as
   vile sinners, as poor, and blind, and naked, and miserable, and then
   Jesus will have compassion.

   O ye Pharisees, what fruits do ye bring forth? Why, you are moral,
   polite creatures; you do your endeavors, you do what you can, and so
   Jesus is to make up the rest. You esteem yourselves fine, rational, and
   polite beings, and think it is too unfashionable to pray; it is not
   polite enough: perhaps you have read some prayers, but knew not how to
   pray from your hearts; no, by no means: that was being righteous
   over-much indeed.

   But when once you are sensible of your being lost, damned creatures,
   and see hell gaping ready to receive you: if God was but to cut the
   thread of life, O then, then you would cry earnestly unto the Lord to
   receive you, to open the door of mercy unto you; your bones would then
   be changed, you would no more flatter yourselves with your abilities
   and good wishes; no, you would see how unable you were, how incapable
   to save yourselves; that there is no fitness, no free will in you; no
   fitness, but for eternal damnation, no free will but that of doing
   evil; and that when you would do good, evil is present with you, and
   the thing that ye would not, that do ye. He knows the secret intent of
   every heart; and this is a pleasure to you, my dear brethren, who come
   on purpose to meet with him, though it be a field. And, however some
   may esteem me a mountebank, and an enthusiast, one that is only going
   to make you methodically mad; they may breathe out their invectives
   against me, yet Christ knows all; he takes notice of it, and I shall
   leave it to him to plead my cause, for he is a gracious Master: I have
   already found him so, and am sure he will continue so. Vengeance is
   his, and he will repay it. Let them revile me; let them cast me out of
   their synagogues, and have my name in reproach, I shall not answer them
   by reviling again, or in speaking evil against them: no, that is not
   the Spirit of Christ, but meekness, patience, long-suffering, kindness,
   &c.

   Ye Pharisees, who are going about to establish your own righteousness;
   you, who are too polite to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity
   and truth; you, who are all for a little show, a little outside work;
   who lead moral, civil, decent lives, Christ will not know you at the
   great day, but will say unto you, O ye Pharisees, was there any place
   for me in your love? Alas! you are full of anger and malice, and
   self-will; yet you pretended to love and serve me, and to be my people:
   but, however, I despise you; I, who am God, and knoweth the secret of
   all hearts; I, who am truth itself, the faithful and true witness, say
   unto you, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, into that place of
   torment, prepared for the devil and his angels." Good God! And must
   these discreet polite creatures, who never did any one harm, but led
   such civil, decent lives, must they suffer the vengeance of eternal
   fire? Cannot their righteous souls be saved? Where then must the sinner
   and the ungodly appear? Where wilt thou, O Sabbath- breaker, appear,
   thou, who canst take thy pleasure, thy recreation, on the Lord's-day,
   who refuseth to hear the word of God, who wilt not come to church to be
   instructed in the ways of the Lord? Where will you, O ye adulterers,
   fornicators, and such-like of this generation appear? Whoremongers and
   adulterers God will judge, and them he will condemn. Then you will not
   call these tricks of youth: no, but you will call on the rocks and the
   mountains to fall on you, to hide you from the fury and anger of the
   Lord. Where wilt thou, O man, appear, that takes pleasure in making a
   mock of sin, who despiseth all reproof, who throws about thy jests as a
   madman does fire, and asks whether thou art not in sport? Where wilt
   thou, O man, appear, that makes it thy business to preach against the
   children of the Most High; thou, who art inventing methods in order to
   stop the progress of the gospel, and using thy utmost power to quash
   [squash] the preaching thereof; who art raising of evil reports against
   the disciple of Christ, and esteemest them madmen, fools, schismatics,
   and a parcel of rabble? Thou, O man, with all thy letter-learning, wilt
   surely see the judgment seat of Christ, though, perhaps, sorely against
   your will; to be cast by him into eternal fire, a place prepared for
   the devil and his angels. There is a burning tophet kindled by the fury
   of an avenging God, which will never, never be quenched. The devil
   longs to embrace you in his hellish arms, whenever the sentence is
   past, where you must for ever bear the weight of your sin: there is no
   redemption then; the day of grace is past; the door of hope is shut;
   mercy will be no more offered, but you must be shut out from God for
   ever. O who can dwell with everlasting burnings!

   However you may think of hell, indeed it is not a painted fire; it is
   not an imagination to keep people in awe: then, then you will feel the
   power of the almighty arm. If you will not lay hold on his golden
   scepter, he will break you with his iron rod. O ye Pharisees, who are
   now so good, so much better than others, how will ye stand before
   Christ, when dressed in his glory as judge? You Arians, may now despise
   his divinity; then you shall have a proof of it; he will show, that he
   has all power, and that he was no subordinate God; he will show you
   that he has all power in heaven and earth; that he was King of kings,
   and Lord of lords; that he was the mighty God, the everlasting Father;
   and this power that he has, he will exercise in preserving you to no
   other end, but to punish you forever. Thus you, who please yourselves
   with being good enough now, who are not weary and heavy laden with a
   sense of your sins here, will be weary and heavy laden with a sense of
   your punishment hereafter.

   2. Those, my brethren, are not weary and heavy laden with a sense of
   their sins, who can delight themselves in the polite entertainments of
   the age, and follow the sinful diversion of life.

   Now they can go to balls and assemblies, play-houses and horse-racing;
   they have no thought of their sins; they know not what it is to weep
   for sin, or humble themselves under the mighty hand of God; they can
   laugh away their sorrows, and sing away their cares, and drive away
   these melancholy thoughts: they are too polite to entertain any sad
   thoughts; the talk of death and judgment is irksome to them, because it
   damps their mirth; they could not endure to think of their sin and
   danger; they could not go to a play, and think of hell; they could not
   go quietly to a masquerade, and think of their danger; they could not
   go to a ball or an assembly in peace, if they thought of their sins.

   And so it is proved, even to a demonstration, that these are not weary
   and heavy laden: for if they are not thoughtful about their sins, they
   will never be weary and heavy laden of them. But at the day of judgment
   all will be over; they shall lose all their carnal mirth, all their
   pleasure, all their delight will be gone forever.

   They will say then of their laughter, it is mad; and of mirth, What
   dost thou? Their merry conceits, and witty jests against the poor
   despised people of God, are then over. Their mirth was but as the
   crackling of thorns under a pot; it made a great blaze and unseemly
   noise for a while, but it was presently gone, and will return no more.

   They think now, that if they were to fast or to pray, and meditate and
   mourn, they should be righteous over-much, and destroy themselves;
   their lives would be a continual trouble, and it would make them run
   mad. Alas, my brethren, what misery must that life be, where there is
   no more pleasant days, no more balls or plays, no cards or dice, those
   wasters of precious time, no horse-racing and cock-fighting, from
   whence no good ever came, unless abusing God Almighty's creatures, and
   putting them to that use which he never designed them, can be called
   so. How miserable will your life be, when all your joys are over, when
   your pleasures are all past, and no more mirth or pastime? Do you think
   there is one merry heart in hell? One pleasing countenance? Or jesting,
   scoffing, swearing tongue? A sermon now is irksome; the offer of
   salvation, by the blood of Jesus Christ, is now termed enthusiasm; but
   then you would give thousands of worlds, if in your power, for one
   tender of mercy, for one offer of grace, which now you so much despise.

   Now, you are not weary of your diversions, nor are you heavy laden with
   the sins, with which they are accompanied; but then you will be weary
   of your punishment, and the aggravation which attends it. Your cards
   and dice, your hawks and hounds, and bowls, and your pleasant sports,
   will then be over. What mirth will you have in remembering your sports
   and diversions? I would not have you mistake me, and say, I am only
   preaching death and damnation to you; I am only showing you what will
   be the consequence of continuing in these sinful pleasures; and if the
   devil does not hurry you away with half a sermon, I shall show you how
   to avoid these dangers, which I now preach up as the effect of sin
   unrepented of. I mention this, lest you should be hurried away by the
   devil: but be not offended, if I point our unto you more of the terrors
   which will attend your following these polite and fashionable
   entertainments of the present age, and of not being weary and heavy
   laden with a sense of your sins.

   They who delight in drinking wine to excess, and who are drunkards,
   what bitter draughts will they have instead of wine and ale? The heat
   of lust will be then also abated; they will no more sing the song of
   the drunkard; no more spend their time in courting their mistresses, in
   lascivious discourse, in amorous songs, in wanton dalliances, in
   brutish defilements: no, these are all over; and it will but prick each
   other to the heart to look one another in the face. Then they will
   wish, that instead of sinning together, they had prayed together; had
   frequented religious societies; had stirred up each other to love and
   holiness, and endeavored to convince each other of the evil of sin, and
   how obnoxious they are to the wrath of God; and the necessity of being
   weary and heavy laden with a sense thereof; that they might have
   escaped the punishment which they suffer, by their following the sinful
   an polite diversions of the age they fell into. But as it was against
   God himself they had sinned, so no less than God will punish them for
   their offenses: he hath prepared those torments for his enemies; his
   continual anger will still be devouring of them; his breath of
   indignation will kindle the flame; his wrath will be a continual burden
   to their souls. Woe be to him who falls under the stroke of the
   Almighty!

   Thus they are not weary and heavy laden with their sins, who can follow
   the polite and fashionable entertainments of the age. But,

   Secondly, I am to show you what it is to be weary and heavy laden with
   sins. And

   1. You may be said, my brethren, to be weary and heavy laden, when your
   sins are grievous unto you, and it is with grief and trouble you commit
   them.

   You, who are awakened unto a sense of your sins, who see how hateful
   they are to God, and how they lay you open to his wrath and
   indignation, and would willingly avoid them; who hate yourselves for
   committing them; when you are thus convinced of sin, when you see the
   terrors of the law, and are afraid of his judgments; then you may be
   said to be weary of your sins. And O how terrible do they appear when
   you are first awakened to a sense of them; when you see nothing but the
   wrath of God ready to fall upon you, and you are afraid of his
   judgments! O how heavy is your sin to you then! Then you feel the
   weight thereof, and that it is grievous to be born.

   2. When you are obliged to cry out under the burden of your sins, and
   know not what to do for relief; when this is your case, you are weary
   of your sins. It does not consist in a weariness all of a sudden; no,
   it is the continual burden of your soul, it is your grief and concern
   that you cannot live without offending God, and sinning against him;
   and these sins are so many and so great, that you fear they will not be
   forgiven.

   I come, Secondly, to show you what is meant by coming to Christ.

   It is not, my brethren, coming with your own works: no, you must come
   in full dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ, looking on him as the
   Lord who died to save sinners: Go to him, tell him you are lost,
   undone, miserable sinners, and that you deserve nothing but hell; and
   when you thus go to the Lord Jesus Christ out of yourself, in full
   dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will find him an able and a
   willing savior; he is pleased to see sinners coming to him in a sense
   of their own unworthiness; and when their case seems to be most
   dangerous, most distressed, then the Lord in his mercy steps in and
   gives you his grace; he puts his Spirit within you, takes away your
   heart of stone, and gives you a heart of flesh. Stand not out then
   against this Lord, but go unto him, not in your own strength, but in
   the strength of Jesus Christ.

   And this brings me, Thirdly, to consider the exhortation Christ gives
   unto all of you, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to come
   unto him that you may have rest. And if Jesus Christ gives you rest,
   you may be sure it will be a rest indeed; it will be such a rest as
   your soul wants; it will be a rest which the world can neither give nor
   take away. O come all of ye this night, and you shall find rest: Jesus
   Christ hath promised it. Here is a gracious invitation, and do not let
   a little rain hurry you away from the hearing of it; do but consider
   what the devil and damned spirits would give to have the offer of
   mercy, and to accept of Christ, that they may be delivered from the
   torments they labor under, and must do so forever; or, how pleasing
   would this rain be to them to cool their parched tongues; but they are
   denied both, while you have mercy offered to you; free and rich mercy
   to come to Christ; here is food for your souls, and the rain is to
   bring forth the fruits of the earth, as food for you bodies. Here is
   mercy upon mercy.

   Let me beseech you to come unto Christ, and he will give you rest; you
   shall find rest unto your souls. O you, my weary, burdened brethren, do
   but go to Christ in this manner, and though you go to him weary, you
   shall find rest before you come from him: let not anything short of the
   Lord Jesus Christ be your rest; for wherever you seek you will be
   disappointed; but if you do but seek unto the Lord Jesus Christ, there
   you will find a fullness of every thing which your weary soul wants. Go
   to him this night; here is an invitation to all you who are weary
   souls. He does not call you, O Pharisees; not, it is only you weary
   sinners; and sure you will not stay from him, but accept of his
   invitation; do not delay; one moment may be dangerous: death may take
   you off suddenly. You know not but that a fit of the apoplexy may hurry
   you from time into eternity; therefore, be not for staying till you
   have something to bring; come in all your rags, in all your filthiness,
   in all your distresses, and you will soon find Jesus Christ ready to
   help, and to relieve you; he loves you as well in your rags, as in your
   best garments; he regards not your dress; no, do but come unto him, and
   you shall soon find rest for your souls.

   What say you? Shall I tell my Master you will come unto him, and that
   you will accept him on his own terms. Let me, my brethren, beseech you
   to take Jesus without anything of your own righteousness: for if you
   expect to mix anything of yourself with Christ, you build upon a sandy
   foundation; but if you take Christ for your rest, he will be that unto
   you. Let me beseech you to build upon this rock of ages. O my brethren,
   think of the gracious invitation, "Come unto me," to Jesus Christ; it
   is he that calls you; And will you not go?

   Come, come unto him. If your souls were not immortal, and you in danger
   of losing them, I would not thus speak unto you; but the love of your
   souls constrains me to speak: methinks this would constrain me to speak
   unto you forever. Come then by faith, and lay hold of the Lord Jesus;
   though he be in heaven, he now calleth thee. Come, all ye drunkards,
   swearers, Sabbath-breakers, adulterers, fornicators; come, all ye
   scoffers, harlots, thieves, and murderers, and Jesus Christ will save
   you; he will give you rest, if you are weary of your sins. O come lay
   hold upon him. Had I less love for your souls, I might speak less; but
   that love of God, which is shed abroad in my heart, will not permit me
   to leave you, till I see whether you will come to Christ or no. O for
   your life receive him, for fear he may never call you any more. Behold,
   the Bridegroom cometh; it may be this night the cry may be made. Now
   would you hear this, if you were sure to die before the morning light?
   God grant you may begin to live, that when the king of terrors shall
   come, you may have nothing to do but to commit your souls into the
   hands of a faithful Redeemer.

   Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be all
   honor, praises, dominion, and power, henceforth and for evermore. Amen,
   Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

  The Folly and Danger of Parting with Christ for the Pleasures and Profits of
                                      Life

   Matthew 8:23-34 -- "And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples
   followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea,
   insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
   And his disciples came to [him], and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us:
   we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little
   faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was
   a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this,
   that even the winds and the sea obey him! And when he was come to the
   other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two
   possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so
   that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out,
   saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou
   come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off
   from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him,
   saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of
   swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they
   went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran
   violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
   And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and
   told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
   And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw
   him, they besought [him] that he would depart out of their coasts."

   If we were but sensible of the great necessity there is, in this our
   day, of being real Christians, sure we should not be contented with
   being nominal ones; but we are sunk into I know not what; we are no
   better than baptized heathen. And how amazing is it, that we should
   profess the name of Christ, and yet so little converse about him;
   surely, this name whereby we are called, should be the theme of our
   discourse here, and of our eternal Hallelujahs in a world to come. But
   is it not more amazing, to consider, that instead of the name of Jesus,
   whereby we are to have salvation, we are taught to look for it in
   ourselves, and that there must be a fitness in us before God bestows
   his grace and favor upon us. But what doctrine is this? Not the
   doctrine of the scripture, not the doctrine of Jesus, not that of the
   primitive Christians, not that of the reformation, nor that of the
   articles of the church of England. No, it is the doctrine of the devil;
   this is making Christ but half a Savior, and driving man into an error
   of the greatest consequence, in making him go to Jesus in his own
   strength, and not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, my
   brethren, unless you go in the strength of Jesus Christ; unless you
   depend only upon him for salvation; unless he is your wisdom,
   righteousness and sanctification, he will never be your redemption. Our
   salvation is the free gift of God; it is owing to his free love, and
   the free grace of Jesus Christ, that ever you are saved.

   Do not flatter yourselves of being good enough, because you are morally
   so; because you go to church, say the prayers, and take the sacrament,
   therefore you think no more is required; alas, you are deceiving your
   own souls; and if God, in his free grace and mercy, does not show you
   your error, it will only be leading you a softer way to your eternal
   ruin; but God forbid that any of you, to whom I am now speaking, should
   imagine this; no, you must be abased, and God must be exalted, or you
   will never begin at the right end, you will never see Jesus with
   comfort or satisfaction, unless you go to him only on the account of
   what he has done and suffered.

   Is it not plain to a demonstration, that we are acting the part of the
   Gergesenes, who came and desired Jesus to depart from them? Let us
   consider the words, and then we shall see how exactly we are performing
   the part of these men over again.

   And when he was entered into a ship his disciples followed him.

   Christ had been working of many miracles, as we may read a few verses
   before; and as he continually went about doing good, so now he was
   going to the country of the Gergesenes to dispossess two, who were
   possessed with devils; and his disciples followed him; No doubt they
   were reproached and pointed at, for following such a babbler, as the
   Scribes and Pharisees esteemed the Lord Jesus Christ. Doubtless they
   were pointed at, jeered, scoffed, and esteemed madmen, enthusiasts, and
   a parcel of rabble; but still they followed the Lord Jesus Christ, they
   did not mind a little reproach; no, they loved their Master too well to
   forbear following him for the sake of a little persecution. And if you
   do but love the Lord Jesus Christ, love him above all, you will follow
   him in spite of the malice of all the Scribes and Pharisees of this
   generation.

   And behold there arose a great tempest on the sea.

   The presence of Christ in the ship, did not preserve the disciples from
   fears and troubles; they were filled with uneasiness, although Christ
   was with them: this was only for a trial of their faith, to see if they
   would stand fast for the Lord in a persecuting time. My dear brethren,
   if the Lord is trying of you, do not give out; no, stand fast in all
   that the Lord may call you to suffer: It is easy to follow Christ when
   all things are safe: but your love to Jesus Christ would be seen more,
   if you must lose your lives, or deny your Jesus; it would be a trial of
   your love, when fire and faggot was before you, if you would rush into
   that, rather than flee from the truth as it is in Jesus. Though all
   things are calm now, the storm is gathering, and by and by it will
   break; it is at present no bigger than a man's hand; but when it is
   full it will break, and then you will see whether you are found
   Christians or not. Persecution would scatter the hypocrites, and make
   nominal Christians afraid to worship God; they would then soon turn
   unto the world and the things of it.

   And his disciples came to [him], and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us:
   we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little
   faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was
   a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this,
   that even the winds and the sea obey him!

   Here we may see the great compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ; no
   sooner had the disciples awakened him, and he saw their danger, but he
   rebuked the winds and seas, and all things were calm. Thus it was in a
   natural way, and will be so in a spiritual one; for no sooner does
   Jesus Christ speak peace to a troubled soul, but all is calm and quiet.
   Now none but God could have performed this great miracle, and therefore
   it is no wonder that his disciples and the men of the ship were amazed
   to see the wonders he performed; and they could not forbear to express
   their sense thereof, by inquiring, "What manner of man is this!"

   And when he was come to the other side into the country of the
   Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the
   tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And,
   behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus,
   thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

   Two men, who were possessed bodily with that evil one who is going
   about seeking whom he may devour, met Jesus; as soon as they saw him
   they were afraid, and cried out: though they made every one afraid of
   them, yet they no sooner saw Christ, but their power left them, and
   they cried out, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?"
   We know that thou are God; we do not want thee, we have no power over
   thee, but thou hast over us, and we fear thou art come to torment us
   before our time; we know that we are to be brought to judgment, and
   therefore we would not be tormented until that time come.

   And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
   So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to
   go away into the herd of swine.

   The evil spirits were sensible that Christ was come to dispossess them,
   and that their time was now come, when they must leave the bodies of
   these two men; for when Christ comes, who is stronger than the strong
   man armed, all must fall before him; they could not stand against the
   power of Christ. And here we may observe, that though the devil is an
   enemy, yet he is a chained one; he cannot hurt a poor swine until he
   has power given him from above: and we may likewise see the malice of
   the devil, that he would hurt a poor swine rather than do no mischief;
   and the devil would, if in his power, destroy each of your souls, but
   Christ, by his mighty power, prevents him.

   And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into
   the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently
   down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they
   that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every
   thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And,
   behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him,
   they besought [him] that he would depart out of their coasts.

   Here observe, that no sooner had Christ given the devils permission to
   enter the swine, but they did, and their malice was so great, that the
   swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and were drowned.

   What poor spite was here, that the devil should disturb poor swine! And
   the city, therefore, was so grieved for the loss of a little wealth,
   that they came and besought Christ to depart; they did not want his
   company; they preferred a few poor swine before the company of Christ;
   and few worldly good, a little pleasure, or any thing rather than
   Christ, part with Christ before any thing; but one, who is sensible of
   the love of Christ, will part with all, rather than with the Lord Jesus
   Christ.

   Thus far the letter of the story goes; perhaps you think there is
   nothing to be learned herefrom, and that this is all you are to
   understand by it; but if so, my brethren, you are much mistaken; for
   here is an excellent lesson to be learned, and that you will see, by
   considering the words again, in a spiritual sense.

   And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the
   ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

   And do not you frequently experience great tempests in this world? Does
   not the sea of temptation beat over your souls? You are afraid lest you
   should be overcome by them; you can see no way to escape, for your
   souls are covered with waves, and you expect to be swallowed up in the
   tempest; you are afraid lest you should fall into the hands of the evil
   one. O do not fear, for Jesus Christ, though he may be asleep to your
   thinking, yet will keep you, he will preserve you from the raging of
   the men, of the Pharisees of this world; they may rage and spit forth
   all their venom against you, still Christ will deliver, preserve and
   protect you; if you but seek unto him in a sense of your own
   helplessness and unworthiness, you will soon find he is a God ready to
   pardon and forgive. O that all that hear me would be persuaded to bow
   their knee, and their hearts, as soon as they go home: but alas, how
   many of our Christians go to God, day by day, and call him, Father,
   which is but mocking of God, when the devil is their father. None have
   a right to call him father, but those who have received the spirit of
   adoption, whereby they have a right to call him, "Abba, Father." Could
   the brute beasts speak, they might call God father as well as some of
   you; for hi is their Creator to whom they owe their being; but this
   will not entitle you to call God father, in a spiritual sense; no, you
   must be born again of God; however you may flatter yourselves, you must
   have an inward principle wrought in your hearts by faith. This you must
   experience, this, this you must feel before you are Christians indeed.

   The Lord Jesus Christ takes notice of each of you, you may think the
   Lord does not take notice of us, because we are in a field, and our of
   church walls; but he does observe with what view you came this evening
   to hear his word; he knows whether it was to satisfy your curiosity, or
   to find out wherewith you might ridicule the preacher. The thoughts and
   intentions of all your hearts are not hidden from Jesus Christ; though
   he may seem to be asleep, because you are, at present, insensible of
   his workings upon your heart, and he may not seem to take notice of
   you, and regard you, no more than he did the Syrophoenician woman; yet
   he will turn to you and behold you with live; the Lord will be mindful
   of you in due time, and speak peace to your troubled soul, though the
   sea of troubles is beating over you, though the Pharisees of this day
   are scoffing at you, yet, when Christ rebukes, then they shall cease.

   Do not depend on yourself; say unto him, "Save us, Lord, or we perish!"
   beseech him to be your guide, and your salvation: I beseech you, by the
   tender mercies of God, which are in Christ Jesus, that you present
   yourselves to him, as your reasonable service.

   Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead, from the death of sin,
   and Christ then will give you the light of his righteousness. Come to
   Christ and you shall be welcome; O come unto this blessed Jesus, come
   notwithstanding your vileness; for if you come not you will perish. If
   Christ does not save you, your own good meaning, your own good
   intentions cannot; no, as you are in your blood, so you must perish in
   your blood; but if you come to Christ you will find mercy, you shall
   not perish. You cannot find salvation in any other but in Christ; if
   the disciples could have saved themselves, they would not have awoken
   Jesus Christ; but they were sensible that no one could save them but
   him; and therefore they cried out unto him; and so you, who are under
   the sense of sin, who are in fear of hell, if you seek unto your own
   works, you only seek your own death; for there is no fitness in you. I
   speak the truth in Christ Jesus, I lie not, there is not fitness in
   you, but a fitness for eternal damnation; for what are you by nature,
   but children of wrath, and your hearts are Satan's garrison. Because
   you have gone to church, said the prayers, gone to the sacrament, and
   done no one any harm, you speak peace to your souls; and all is in
   peace you think, and your case is good enough; but indeed, all is a
   false peace, and if you have no other peace than this, you must shortly
   lie down in everlasting flames; this is an ungrounded, self-created
   peace, and if you trust to this peace you will perish.

   But do as the disciples did when they were in distress; they go to
   Christ and say to him, "Lord, save us, we perish." I offer you
   salvation this day; the door of mercy is not yet shut, there does yet
   remain a sacrifice for sins, for all that will accept of the Lord Jesus
   Christ; he only knows the inmost thoughts of thy heart, he will embrace
   you in the arms of his love; he sees the first risings of grace in you,
   and would willingly encourage it: the angels long for your being in the
   love and favor of God; they will rejoice to see you turn from sin unto
   him. All the ministers of the blessed Jesus would be glad to be
   instruments to turn you from darkness to light, and from the power of
   Satan unto God.

   And he saith to them, why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

   And so, my brethren, I may say to you; why are you fearful to leave you
   sins and turn to God? O turn to him, turn in a sense of your own
   unworthiness; tell him how polluted you are, how vile, and be not
   faithless, but believe; do not go in your own strength, and then you
   need not fear. Why fear ye that the Lord Jesus Christ will not accept
   of you? Your sins will be no hindrance, your unworthiness will be no
   hindrance; if your own corrupt hearts do not keep you back, or if your
   own good works do not hinder you from coming, nothing will hinder
   Christ from receiving of you: he loves to see poor sinners coming to
   him, he is pleased to see them lie at his feet pleading his promises:
   and if you thus come to Christ, he will not send you away without his
   Spirit; no, but will receive and bless you.

   O do not put a slight on infinite love; what would you have Christ do
   more? Is it not enough for him to come on purpose to save? Will you not
   serve God in your souls, as well as with your bodies? If not, you are
   only deceiving yourselves; and mocking of God; he must have the heart.
   O ye of little faith, why are ye fearful lest he should not accept of
   you? If you will not believe me, sure you will believe the Lord Jesus
   Christ; he has told thee that he will receive you; then why tarry ye,
   and do not go to him directly? Does he desire impossibilities? It is
   only, "Give me thy heart;" or, does he want your heart only for the
   same end as the devil does, to make you miserable? No, he only wants
   you to believe on him, that you might be saved. This, this, is all the
   dear Savior desires, to make you happy, that you may leave your sins,
   to sit down eternally with him, at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

   Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great
   calm.

   Thus, you see, it was only to the power of Christ to stop the raging of
   the sea; he rebuked it; the disciples might have spoken for ever, and
   it would not have ceased; so it is with the word preached; I may preach
   to you while I live; I may speak till I can speak no more; but the
   doctrines of Christ will never do you good, unless he impress them upon
   your hearts; O then, in all thy troubles look up to Christ, that he may
   rebuke them; and if he speaks the word, then they shall cease. If the
   Pharisees of this generation scoff and jeer you, if they say all manner
   of evil against you, do not answer them; leave it unto Christ to rebuke
   them; for all you can say will be of no more signification, than the
   disciples speaking to the sea; but when Christ speaks the word, then
   they shall cease; let it not discourage you, for if you will live godly
   in Christ Jesus, you must suffer persecution.

   It is true, that those who are sincerely good, are set up for marks for
   every one to shoot at. There is a continual enmity between the seed of
   the woman and the seed of the serpent; if you were of the world, the
   world would love its own; but because Christ hath chosen you out of the
   world, therefore it hateth you.

   Do not think of following Christ into glory, unless you go through the
   press here. Look forward, my brethren, into eternity, and behold Christ
   coming, and his reward with him, to give a kind recompense for all the
   temptations and difficulties of this present life.

   But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the
   winds and the seas obey him!

   The men of the ship were amazed to see the miracle that Jesus Christ
   wrought only by his word; they thought he was something more than a
   man. And have not we as much reason to admire, that when we are
   overwhelmed with troubles, from within and without, that Jesus Christ,
   only by the word of his power, should speak peace, and then there is
   peace indeed. When God first awakens us with a sense of sin, and sets
   his terrors in array against us, then there are troubles and tempests;
   for Satan having got possession, before he will give place, he will
   fight and strive hard to keep the soul from closing with Jesus. But
   when Christ comes, he storms the heart, he breaks the peace, he giveth
   it most terrible alarms of judgment and hell, he sets all in a
   combustion of fear and sorrow, till he hath forced it to yield to his
   mere mercy, and take him for its governor; then Satan is cast out; then
   the storm is rebuked, and he establishes a firm and lasting peace.

   Can the sea be still while the wind is raging? No, it is impossible; so
   it is that there can be no peace in the soul, while it is at enmity
   with Christ; indeed, it may flatter itself and speak peace, but there
   can be no true peace; though thou, O Pharisee, may harden and fortify
   thy heart against fear, grief, and trouble, yet, as sure as God is
   true, they will batter down thy proud and fortified spirit, and seize
   upon it, and drive thee to amazement. This will be done here, or
   hereafter; here in mercy, or hereafter in wrath and judgment.

   O my brethren, consider what Christ hath done, and you will be
   astonished that he has done so much for such wicked wretches as you and
   I are. If you are easy under the storm and tempest of sin, and do not
   cry to Christ for salvation, thou art in a dangerous condition; and it
   is a wonder to consider, how a man that is not sure of having made his
   peace with God, can eat, or drink, or live in peace; that thou art not
   afraid, when thou liest down, that thou should'st awake in hell: but if
   Christ speak peace unto thy soul, who can then speak trouble? None; no,
   not men or devils. Therefore, lie down at the feet of Christ whom you
   have resisted, and say, Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do? And he
   will rebuke the winds and seas of thy troubled mind, and all things
   will be calm.

   And when he was come to the other side into the country of the
   Gergesenes, there met him two possesses with devils, coming out of the
   tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

   The Lord Jesus Christ, who went about doing good continually, very well
   knew, that he should meet two poor men in this country of the
   Gergesenes, who were possessed with devils; and Jesus Christ went on
   purpose that way, that he might relieve them. The devil, where he has
   the power, never wants will; but as I said before, so I say again,
   though the devil is an enemy, yet he is a chained one; he could not
   destroy these two poor men, he could not hurt the people that passed
   that way, he could only terrify them; and thus it is with you; the
   devil tries his utmost skill and power to frighten you from coming to
   the Lord Jesus; he uses the utmost of his endeavors to keep poor sick
   and weary sinners from coming to Jesus; if he can but make you lose
   your souls, it is the end he aims at.

   And how many souls does he keep from Christ, for fear of reproach? Many
   thousands would willingly see Christ in his glory, in the world to
   come, and would be happy with him there, but they are afraid of being
   now laughed at, and of hearing the Pharisees say, here is another of
   his followers; they are afraid of losing their worldly business, or of
   being counted methodistically mad and fit for bedlam. I doubt not but
   many are kept from Jesus Christ, for fear of a little of inconveniency.

   What will such say, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall appear in his
   glory? Would you be glad to be confessed by him then, you must now not
   be ashamed of confessing him before men; let not the fierceness of the
   devil keep you back from Christ, for fear of being counted fools; for
   the time will come, when it will be found who are truly wise, and who
   are truly mad.

   Are you afraid to stand up for the cause of Christ in the world? Dare
   not you be singularly good? Are you afraid of being members of Jesus
   Christ? I tell you, such persons would crucify him afresh were he in
   the world. But do not you, my brethren, so learn Christ; let not the
   temptations of the devil keep you from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ;
   he may be fierce, he may hurry you from place to place, but strive with
   him, so that he may not drive you from Christ; and if you seek unto
   Christ, he will so help you that you shall resist the devil, and then
   he will fly from you; Christ will dispossess him, be not afraid
   therefore to meet Jesus Christ; tell him all that your souls want, and
   he will give it to you; and you shall not be any longer troubled with
   the fierce outrages of the devil.

   And they cried out, saying, what have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou
   Son of God? Art thou come to torment us before the time?

   As soon as the devils observed Jesus coming near, then they were
   afraid, lest he was come to punish them before that day of accounts,
   when all must be brought to judgment.

   The devils themselves are enough to convince all our polite Arians and
   Socinians. They here own the Lord Jesus Christ to be God blessed for
   ever; they feel his power, and are assured of his being the God who
   must condemn them at the great day of accounts; and they were afraid
   lest the Lord Jesus Christ was come to punish them now. But though the
   devils believe the divinity of Christ, yet the world swarms with Arians
   and Socinians.

   The Arians make Christ no more than a titular God, a subordinate deity,
   one who was more than a man, and yet less than God; that he was a
   prophet sent from God they own, but deny him to be equal with the
   Father. But I hope, my brethren, he is to you, what our creed makes
   him, God of God, very God of very God, co-eternal and consubstantial
   with the Father; that as there was not a moment of time in which God
   the Father was not, so there is not a moment of time in which God the
   Son was not. For he says himself, "All things were made by him;" and if
   they were made by him, he must be God; and whoever reads but the word
   of God, will find divine homage is paid to him, "and that he thought it
   no robbery to be equal with God;" he is "the Alpha and Omega." These
   and a great many more places might be brought to prove the divinity of
   the Lord Jesus Christ; he could never have made satisfaction for our
   sins if he had not been God as well as Man. As Man he suffered; as God
   he satisfied; so was God and man in one person; he took our nature upon
   him, and was offered upon the cross for the sins of all those who come
   unto him, which if he had not been God he could never have satisfied
   for. It may be proved, even to a demonstration, that the Lord Jesus
   Christ is God, and that he is equal with the Father.

   The Socinians do not go so far as the others; they look on Christ to be
   no more than a good man, who told the people their duty, and died in
   defense of the doctrines which he delivered unto them.

   But I hope there are none such here, that have so low and dishonorable
   thoughts of the blessed Jesus, and that thus despise the divinity of
   the Lord who bought them. No, I hope better things of you, and things
   that accompany salvation. Think you, that any one who denies the deity
   of Christ can ever be saved by him, living and dying in that state?
   Surely, the time will come, when they who have denied his Deity, shall
   feel the power of it hereafter; they shall feel that he is God as well
   as man; then he will be owned as God by all those who now dare to deny
   his truths; but God forbid it should go undetermined till then! Woe
   unto the polite infidels of this generation, for the devils will rise
   up in judgment against them.

   If any such are here, consider what you are doing of, before it is too
   late; return, return ye unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you,
   and to Jesus Christ, and he will abundantly pardon. O my friends, let
   me beseech you to consider what you are about, lest you fall into hell,
   and there be none to deliver you.

   And the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to
   go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when
   they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the
   whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and
   perished in the waters.

   Here we may see, that no sooner had the devil power, but he puts it
   into execution; thus, if the devil has but power to tempt, or to hurry
   a soul, O how grievous a tyrant he is, hurrying from one temptation to
   another, from one sin unto another, and would, if it were possible,
   hurry you all into hell with as much violence, as he did the poor swine
   into the sea; but Christ by his grace prevents it. Jesus Christ died
   for souls, and therefore the devil cannot do with them as he will; he
   may have the will, but he cannot get the power. It is plain, that when
   the devil himself, or persecuting men, get the power, they will harass
   the poor Christians; everything is goo good for them, and they are not
   worthy to be set with the dogs of the flock. My brethren, how joyful
   would many be, if the laws of our land would permit them to destroy us;
   how would the Pharisees hurry us to prison and to death; but, blessed
   be God, he does not say to them, as to the devil, "Go." No, he bids
   them stay, he hedges their way up with thorns that they cannot stir to
   hurt us; they would fain, but they dare not destroy us; nothing
   withholds them but the power of the blessed Jesus. And therefore, be
   not afraid of their wrath though it is cruel, and of their anger though
   it be fierce; let them shoot their arrows, even bitter words, against
   us, blessed be God, the shield of faith will be a preservative against
   them all.

   And when you are thus preserved, it will be the occasion of joy in the
   Holy Ghost; though many look on the joy of the Holy Ghost as enthusiasm
   and madness, and say that there is no such thing; but well do I know
   there is, it carries its own evidence along with it. Plead therefore
   with God, in the name of Jesus Christ; continue to wrestle with him,
   until he bestows the blessing upon you, and gives you a feeling of that
   joy which the world intermeddles not with, and which they are strangers
   to; indeed the devil may stir up his agents to hurry us from one
   trouble to another; but it will not signify, for the Lord Jesus Christ
   will not suffer him to hurry us into hell; no, but will give us his
   Spirit, which will be a preservative against all the assaults of the
   devil. Now see what followed this miracle, which Jesus had wrought, by
   permitting the devil to enter into the herd of swine.

   And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and
   told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

   The people were so amazed to see the power that Christ had, and the
   malice with which the devil was possessed, that they were afraid, and
   told all that had befallen the possessed of the devils; and so, when
   the spirit of God has been at work on your souls, and you are brought
   to feel the power of God upon your hearts, you will be so overjoyed
   that you will tell to every one what great things God has done for your
   souls; you will be so full of joy, that you will declare the whole
   working of God on your hearts, and you will declare how you have been
   enabled to overcome Satan, and how you were affected at such a sermon,
   in such a place, and at such a time.

   You will then love to talk of Jesus; no conversation will be so
   pleasing as that of the Lord Jesus Christ; no, he will be altogether
   lovely unto you, when you have once tasted of his love, and felt the
   power of his grace upon your hearts.

   And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw
   him, they besought [him] that he would depart out of their coasts.

   The whole city came to meet Jesus, not to worship, nor to thank him for
   the releasing of the two poor men who were possessed; no, but to
   beseech him to go from them; they valued their swine more than the Lord
   Jesus Christ, and had rather part from him, than them; and have we not
   among us, thousands who call themselves Christians, who had rather part
   with Christ than their pleasures? A play, a ball, or an assembly is far
   more agreeable to them than the company and presence of the Lord Jesus
   Christ: if they can but indulge their sensual appetite, please and
   pamper their bellies, satisfy the lust of the eye, the lust of the
   flesh, and the pride of life, they regard no more, but rest contented,
   as if they were to live here always. O my dear brethren, I hope none of
   you can rest contented with such proceedings as these, but that you
   like the company of the Lord Jesus too well to part with him for a few
   delights of this life: and are there not many, who part with Christ for
   their own good works, and think they can go to heaven, if they do but
   go to church and say their prayers and take the sacrament? But alas!
   they will be much deceived, for if they were in any thing short of the
   Lord Jesus, if they do not make him the chief corner-stone, they will
   fall infinitely short of what they flattered themselves to attain unto.

   I would speak a few words to you before I part from you this evening,
   by way of application. Let me beseech you to come to Jesus Christ; I
   invite you all to come to him and receive him as your Lord and Savior;
   he is ready to receive you; if you are afraid to go because you are in
   a lost condition, he came to save such; and to such as were weary and
   heavy laden, such as feel the weight and burden of their sins, he has
   promised he will give rest: such as feel the weight and burden of their
   sins on their souls, a burden too heavy for them to bear, are weary of
   it, and know not how to obtain deliverance of it, in the name of my
   Lord and master, I invite you to come to him, that you may find rest
   for your souls.

   If you will but come unto him he will not reproach you, as justly he
   might; he will not reflect upon you for not coming sooner unto him; no,
   my dear brethren, he will rejoice and be glad, and will say unto you,
   "Son, daughter, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you:" these
   words he said to others; and if you will but come unto him, by faith in
   his blood, he is ready to say the same unto you now, as he did to them
   formerly, for "he is the same to-day, yesterday and for ever:" though
   he suffered on the cross seventeen hundred years ago, yet he is the
   same in goodness and power as ever he was.

   He calls you, by his ministers; O come unto him, beg of him to break
   your stubborn hearts, that you may be willing to be brought to him in
   his own way, to be made poor in spirit, and entitled to an inheritance
   among them that are sanctified.

   O come and drink of the water of life; you may buy without money and
   without price; he is laboring to bring you back from sin, and from
   Satan unto himself: open the door of your hearts, and the King of glory
   shall enter in.

   But if you are strangers to this doctrine, and account it foolishness;
   or, if you think you have enough of your own to recommend you to the
   favor of God, however you may go to church, or receive the sacrament,
   you have no true love to the Lord Jesus Christ; you are strangers to
   the truth of grace in your hearts, and are unacquainted with the
   new-birth; you do not know what it is to have your natures changed; and
   till you do experience these things, you never can enter into the
   kingdom of God.

   What shall I say, my brethren, unto you? My heart is full, it is quite
   full, and I must speak, or I shall burst. What, do you think your souls
   of no value? Do you esteem them as not worth saving? Are your pleasures
   worth more than your souls? Had you rather regard the diversions of
   this life, than the salvation of your souls? If so, you will never be
   partakers with him in glory; but if you come unto him, he will give you
   a new nature, supply you with his grace here, and bring you to glory
   hereafter; and there you may sing praises and hallelujahs o the Lamb
   forever.

   And may this be the happy end of all who hear me! may the Lord guide
   you by his counsel, until he comes to fetch you to heaven, and make you
   partakers of his glory!

   May he direct you in his ways, and lead you in those paths which lead
   to everlasting life! May you be holy here, and happy hereafter: may
   your lives answer the profession you make, that we may all be found at
   the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall come to judge
   the world according to our works, whether they be good or evil! And
   that we then may be presented faultless before the presence of his
   glory with exceeding joy, God of his infinite mercy grant, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

                           Marks of a True Conversion

   Matthew 18:3 -- "Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and
   become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
   heaven."

   I suppose I may take it for granted, that all of you, among whom I am
   now about to preach the kingdom of God, are fully convinced, that it is
   appointed for all men once to die, and that ye all really believe that
   after death comes the judgment, and that the consequences of that
   judgment will be, that ye must be doomed to dwell in the blackness of
   darkness, or ascend to dwell with the blessed God, for ever and ever. I
   may take it for granted also, that whatever your practice in common
   life may be, there is not one, though ever so profligate and abandoned,
   but hopes to go to that place, which the scriptures call Heaven, when
   he dies. And, I think, if I know any thing of mine own heart, my
   heart's desire, as well as my prayer to God, for you all, is, that I
   may see you sitting down in the kingdom of our heavenly Father. But
   then, though we all hope to go to heaven when we die, yet, if we may
   judge by people's lives, and our Lord says, "that by their fruits we
   may know them," I am afraid it will be found, that thousands, and ten
   thousands, who hope to go to this blessed place after death, are not
   now in the way to it while they live. Though we call ourselves
   Christians, and would consider it as an affront put upon us, for any
   one to doubt whether we were Christians or not; yet there are a great
   many, who bear the name of Christ, that yet do not so much as know what
   real Christianity is. Hence it is, that if you ask a great many, upon
   what their hopes of heaven are founded, they will tell you, that they
   belong to this, or that, or the other denomination, and part of
   Christians, into which Christendom is now unhappily divided. If you ask
   others, upon what foundation they have built their hope of heaven, they
   will tell you, that they have been baptized, that their fathers and
   mothers, presented them to the Lord Jesus Christ in their infancy; and
   though, instead of fighting under Christ's banner, they have been
   fighting against him, almost ever since they were baptized, yet because
   they have been admitted to church, and their names are in the Register
   book of the parish, therefore they will make us believe, that their
   names are also written in the book of life. But a great many, who will
   not build their hopes of salvation upon such a sorry rotten foundation
   as this, yet if they are, what we generally call, negatively good
   people; if they live so as their neighbors cannot say that they do
   anybody harm, they do not doubt but they shall be happy when they die;
   nay, I have found many such die, as the scripture speaks, "without any
   hands in their death." And if a person is what the world calls an
   honest moral man, if he does justly, and, what the world calls, love a
   little mercy, is not and then good-natured, reacheth out his hand to
   the poor, receives the sacrament once or twice a year, and is outwardly
   sober and honest; the world looks upon such an one as a Christian
   indeed, and doubtless we are to judge charitably of every such person.
   There are many likewise, who go on in a round of duties, a model of
   performances, that think they shall go to heaven; but if you examine
   them, though they have a Christ in their heads, they have no Christ in
   their hearts.

   The Lord Jesus Christ knew this full well; he knew how desperately
   wicked and deceitful men's hearts were; he knew very well how many
   would go to hell even by the very gates of heaven, how many would climb
   up even to the door, and go so near as to knock at it, and yet after
   all be dismissed with a "verily I know you not." The Lord, therefore,
   plainly tells us, what great change must be wrought in us, and what
   must be done for us, before we can have any well grounded hopes of
   entering into the kingdom of heaven. Hence, he tells Nicodemus, "that
   unless a man be born again, and from above, and unless a man be born of
   water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And
   of all the solemn declarations of our Lord, I mean with respect to
   this, perhaps the words of the text are one of the most solemn,
   "except, (says Christ) ye be converted, and become as little children,
   ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." The words, if you look
   back to the context, are plainly directed to the disciples; for we are
   told, "that at the same time came the disciples unto Jesus." And I
   think it is plain from many parts of Scripture, that these disciples,
   to whom our Lord addressed himself at this time, were in some degree
   converted before. If we take the words strictly, they are applicable
   only to those, that have already gotten some, though but weak, faith in
   Christ. Our Lord means, that though they had already tasted the grace
   of God, yet there was so much of the old man, so much indwelling sin,
   and corruption, yet remaining in their hearts, that unless they were
   more converted than they were, unless a greater change past upon their
   souls, and sanctification was still carried on, they could give but
   very little evidence of their belonging to his kingdom, which was not
   to be set up in outward grandeur, as they supposed, but was to be a
   spiritual kingdom, begun here, but completed in the kingdom of God
   hereafter. But though the words had a peculiar reference to our Lord's
   disciples; yet as our Lord makes such a declaration as this in other
   places of Scripture, especially in the discourse to Nicodemus, I
   believe the words may be justly applied to saints and sinners; and as I
   suppose there are two sorts of people here, some who know Christ, and
   some of you that do not know him, some that are converted, and some
   that are strangers to conversion, I shall endeavor so to speak, that if
   God shall be pleased to assist me, and to give you an hearing ear and
   an obedient heart, both saints and sinners may have their portion.

   First, I shall endeavor to show you in what respects we are to
   understand this assertion of our Lord's, "that we must be converted and
   become like little children." I shall then,

   Secondly, Speak to those who profess a little of this child-like
   temper,

   And Lastly, shall speak to you, who have no reason to think that this
   change has ever past upon your souls. And

   First, I shall endeavor to show you, what we are to understand by our
   Lord's saying, "Except ye be converted and become as little children."
   But I think, before I speak to this point, it may be proper to premise
   one or two particulars.

   1. I think, that the words plainly imply, that before you or I can have
   any well-grounded, scriptural hope, of being happy in a future state,
   there must be some great, some notable, and amazing change pass upon
   our souls. I believe, there is not one adult person in the
   congregation, but will readily confess, that a great change hath past
   upon their bodies, since they came first into the world, and were
   infants dandled upon their mother's knees. It is true, ye have no more
   members than ye had then, but how are these altered! Though you are in
   one respect the same ye were, for the number of your limbs, and as to
   the shape of your body, yet if a person that knew you when ye were in
   your cradle, had been absent from you for some years, and saw you when
   grown up, then thousand to one if he would know you at all, ye are so
   altered, so different from what ye were, when ye were little ones. And
   as the words plainly imply, that there has a great change past upon our
   bodies since we were children, so before we can go to heaven, there
   must as great a change pass upon our souls. Our souls considered in a
   physical sense are still the same, there is to be no philosophical
   change wrought on them. But then, as for our temper, habit and conduct,
   we must be so changed and altered, that those who knew us the other
   day, when in a state of sin, and before we knew Christ, and are
   acquainted with us now, must see such an alteration, that they may
   stand as much amazed at it, as a person at the alteration wrought on
   any person he has not seen for twenty years from his infancy.

   2. But I think it proper to premise something farther, because this
   text is the grand strong-hold of Arminians, and others. They learn of
   the devil to bring texts to propagate bad principles: when the devil
   had a mind to tempt Jesus Christ, because Christ quoted scripture,
   therefore Satan did so too. And such persons, that their doctrine and
   bad principles may go down the better, would fain persuade unwary and
   unstable souls, that they are founded upon the word of God. Though the
   doctrine of original sin, is a doctrine written in such legible
   characters in the word of God, that he who runs may read it; and
   though, I think, everything without us, and everything within us,
   plainly proclaims that we are fallen creatures; though the very
   heathens, who had no other light, but the dim light of unassisted
   reason, complained of this, for they felt the wound, and discovered the
   disease, but were ignorant of the cause of it; yet there are too many
   persons of those who have been baptized in the name of Christ, that
   dare to speak against the doctrine of original sin, and are angry with
   those ill-natured ministers, who paint man in such black colors. Say
   they, "It cannot be that children come into the world with the guild of
   Adam's sin lying upon them." Why? Desire them to prove it from
   Scripture, and they will urge this very text, our Lord tells us,
   "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
   enter into the kingdom of heaven." Now their argument runs thus, "It is
   implied in the words of the text, that little children are innocent,
   and that they come into the world like a mere blank piece of white
   paper, otherwise our Lord must argue absurdly, for he could never
   pretend to say, that we must be converted, and be made like wicked
   creatures; that would be no conversion." But, my dear friends, this is
   to make Jesus Christ speak what he never intended, and what cannot be
   deduced from his words. That little children are guilty, I mean, that
   they are conceived and born in sin, is plain from the whole tenor of
   the book of God. David was a man after God's own heart, yet, says he,
   "I was conceived in sin." Jeremiah speaking of every one's heart, says,
   "the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all
   things." God's servants unanimously declare, (and Paul cites it from
   one of them) "that we are altogether now become abominable, altogether
   gone out of the way of original righteousness, there is not one of us
   that doeth good (by nature), no not one." And I appeal to any of you
   that are mothers and fathers, if ye do not discern original sin or
   corruption in your children, as soon as they come into the world; and
   as they grow up, if ye do not discover self-will, and an aversion to
   goodness. What is the reason your children are so averse to
   instruction, but because they bring enmity into the world with them,
   against a good and gracious God? So then, it is plain from scripture
   and fact, that children are born in sin, and consequently that they are
   children of wrath. And for my part, I think, that the death of every
   child is a plain proof of original sin; sickness and death came into
   the world by sin, and it seems not consistent with God's goodness and
   justice, to let a little child be sick or die, unless Adam's first sin
   was imputed to him. If any charge God with injustice for imputing
   Adam's sin to a little child, behold we have gotten a second Adam, to
   bring our children to him. Therefore, when our Lord says, "unless ye
   are converted, and become as little children," we are not to
   understand, as though our Lord would insinuate, that little children
   are perfectly innocent; but in a comparative, and as I shall show you
   by and by, in a rational sense. Little children are innocent, compare
   them with grown people; but take them as they are, and as they come
   into the world, they have hearts that are sensual, and minds which are
   carnal. And I mention this with the greatest concern, because I verily
   believe, unless parents are convinced of this, they will never take
   proper care of their children's education. If parents were convinced,
   that children's hearts were so bad as they are, you would never be fond
   of letting them go to balls, assemblies, and plays, the natural
   tendency of which is to debauch their minds, and make them the children
   of the devil. If parents were convinced of this, I believe they would
   pray more, when they bring their children to be baptized, and would not
   make it a mere matter of form. And I believe, if they really were
   convinced, that their children were conceived in sin, they would always
   put up that petition, before their children came into the world, which
   I have heard that a good woman always did put up, "Lord Jesus, let me
   never bear a child for hell or the devil." O! is it not to be feared,
   that thousands of children will appear, at the great day, before God,
   and in presence of angels and men will say, Father and mother, next to
   the wickedness of mine own heart, I owe my damnation to your bad
   education of me.

   Having premised these two particulars, I now proceed to show in what
   sense we are really to understand the words, that we must be converted
   and become like little children. The Evangelist tell us, "that the
   disciples at this time came unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in
   the kingdom of heaven?" These disciples had imbibed the common
   prevailing notion, that the Lord Jesus Christ was to be a temporal
   prince; they dreamed of nothing but being ministers of state, of
   sitting on Christ' right hand in his kingdom, and lording it over God's
   people; they thought themselves qualified for state offices, as
   generally ignorant people are apt to conceive of themselves. Well, say
   they, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Which of us shall
   have the chief management of public affairs? A pretty question for a
   few poor fishermen, who scarcely knew how to drag their nets to shore,
   much less how to govern a kingdom. Our Lord, therefore, in the 2nd
   verse, to mortify them, calls a little child, and sets him in the midst
   of them. This action was as much as if our Lord had said, "Poor
   creatures! Your imaginations are very towering; you dispute who shall
   be greatest in the kingdom of heaven; I will make this little child
   preach to you, or I will preach to you by him. Verily I say unto you,
   (I who am truth itself, I know in what manner my subjects are to enter
   into my kingdom; I say unto you, ye are so far from being in a right
   temper for my kingdom, that) except ye be converted, and become as this
   little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, (unless ye
   are, comparatively speaking, as loose to the world, as loose to crowns,
   scepters, and kingdoms, and earthly things, as this poor little child I
   have in my hand) ye shall not enter into my kingdom." So that what our
   Lord is speaking of, is not the innocency of little children, if you
   consider the relation they stand in to God, and as they are in
   themselves, when brought into the world; but what our Lord means is,
   that as to ambition and lust after the world, we must in this sense
   become as little children. Is there never a little boy or girl in this
   congregation? Ask a poor little child, that can just speak, about a
   crown, scepter, or kingdom, the poor creature has no notion about it:
   give a little boy or girl a small thing to play with, it will leave the
   world to other people. Now in this sense we must be converted, and
   become as little children; that is, we must be as loose to the world,
   comparatively speaking, as a little child.

   Do not mistake me, I am not going to persuade you to shut up your
   shops, or leave your business; I am not going to persuade you, that if
   ye will be Christians, ye must turn hermits, and retire out of the
   world; ye cannot leave your wicked hearts behind you, when you leave
   the world; for I find when I am alone, my wicked heart has followed me,
   go where I will. No, the religion of Jesus is a social religion. But
   though Jesus Christ does not call us to go out of the world, shut up
   our shops, and leave our children to be provided for by miracles; yet
   this must be said to the honor Christianity, if we are really
   converted, we shall be loose from the world. Though we are engaged in
   it, and are obliged to work for our children; though we are obliged to
   follow trades and merchandise, and to be serviceable to the
   commonwealth, yet if we are real Christians, we shall be loose to the
   world; though I will not pretend to say that all real Christians have
   attained to the same degree of spiritual-mindedness. This is the
   primary meaning of these words, that we must be converted and become as
   little children; nevertheless, I suppose the words are to be understood
   in other senses.

   When our Lord says, we must be converted and become as little children,
   I suppose he means also, that we must be sensible of our weakness,
   comparatively speaking, as a little child. Every one looks upon a
   little child, as a poor weak creature; as one that ought to go to
   school and learn some new lesson every day; and as simple and artless;
   one without guile, having not learned the abominable art, called
   dissimulation. Now in all these senses, I believe we are to understand
   the words of the text. -- Are little children sensible of their
   weakness? Must they be led by the hand? Must we take hold of them or
   they will fall? So, if we are converted, if the grace of God be really
   in our hearts, my dear friends, however we may have thought of
   ourselves once, whatever were our former high exalted imaginations; yet
   we shall now be sensible of our weakness; we shall no more say, "We are
   rich and increased with goods, and lack nothing;" we shall be inwardly
   poor; we shall feel "that we are poor, miserable, blind, and naked."
   And as a little child gives up its hand to be guided by a parent or a
   nurse, so those who are truly converted, and are real Christians, will
   give up the heart, their understandings, their wills, their affections,
   to be guided by the word, providence, and the Spirit of the Lord. Hence
   it is, that the Apostle, speaking of the sons of God, says, "As many as
   are led by the Spirit of God, they are (and to be sure he means they
   only are) the sons of God."

   And as little children look upon themselves to be ignorant creatures,
   so those that are converted, do look upon themselves as ignorant too.
   Hence it is, that John, speaking to Christians, calls them little
   children; "I have written unto you, little children." And Christ's
   flock is called a little flock, not only because little in number, but
   also because those who are members of his flock, are indeed little in
   their own eyes. Hence that great man, that great apostle of the
   Gentiles, that spiritual father of so many thousands of souls, that
   man, who in the opinion of Dr. Goodwin, "fits nearest the God-man, the
   Lord Jesus Christ, in glory," that chosen vessel, the Apostle Paul,
   when he speaks of himself, says, "Unto me, who am less than the least
   of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the
   Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Perhaps some of you, when
   you read these words, will be apt to think that Paul did not speak
   true, that he did not really feel what he said; because you judge
   Paul's heart by your own proud hearts: but the more ye get of the grace
   of God, and the more ye are partakers of the divine life, the more will
   ye see your own meanness and vileness, and be less in your own eyes.
   Hence it is, that Mr. Flavel, in his book called, Husbandry
   Spiritualized, compares young Christians to green corn; which before it
   is ripe, shoots up very high, but there is little solidity in it:
   whereas, an old Christian is like ripe corn; it doth not lift up its
   head so much, but then it is more weighty, and fit to be cut down, and
   put into the farmer's barn. Young Christians are also like little
   rivulets; ye know rivulets are shallow, yet make great noise; but an
   old Christian, he makes not much noise, he goes on sweetly, like a deep
   river sliding into the ocean.

   And as a little child is looked upon as an harmless creature, and
   generally speaks true; so, if we are converted, and become as little
   children, we shall be guileless as well as harmless. What said the dear
   Redeemer when he saw Nathaniel? As though it was a rare sight he gazed
   upon, and would have others gaze upon it; "Behold an Israelite indeed:"
   Why so? "In whom is no guile." Do not mistake me; I am not saying, that
   Christians ought not to be prudent; they ought exceedingly to pray to
   God for prudence, otherwise they may follow the delusions of the devil,
   and by their imprudence give wrong touches to the ark of God. It was
   the lamentation of a great man, "God has given me many gifts, but God
   has not given me prudence." Therefore, when I say, a Christian must be
   guileless, I do not mean, he should expose himself, and lie open to
   every one's assault: we should pray for the wisdom of the serpent,
   though we shall generally learn this wisdom by our blunders and
   imprudence: and we must make some advance in Christianity, before we
   know our imprudence. A person really converted, can say, as it is
   reported of a philosopher, "I wish there was a window in my breast,
   that every one may see the uprightness of my heart and intentions:" And
   though there is too much of the old man in us, yet, if we are really
   converted, there will be in us no allowed guile, we shall be harmless.
   And that is the reason why the poor Christian is too often imposed
   upon; he judgeth other people by himself; having an honest heart, he
   thinks every one as honest as himself, and therefore is a prey to every
   one. I might enlarge upon each of these points, it is a copious and
   important truth; but I do not intend to multiply many marks and heads.

   And therefore, as I have something to say by way of personal
   application, give me leave therefore, with the utmost tenderness, and
   at the same time with faithfulness, to call upon you, my dear friends.
   My text is introduced in an awful manner, "Verily I say unto you;" and
   what Jesus said then, he says now to you, to me, and to as many as sit
   under a preached gospel, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call.
   Let me exhort you to see whether ye are converted; whether such a great
   and almighty change has passed upon any of your souls. As I told you
   before, so I tell you again, ye all hope to go to heaven, and I pray
   God Almighty ye may be all there: when I see such a congregation as
   this, if my heart is in a proper frame, I feel myself ready to lay down
   my life, to be instrumental only to save one soul. It makes my heart
   bleed within me, it makes me sometimes most unwilling to preach, lest
   that word that I hope will do good, may increase the damnation of any,
   and perhaps of a great part of the auditory, through their own
   unbelief. Give me leave to deal faithfully with your souls. I have your
   dead warrant in my hand: Christ has said it, Jesus will stand to it, it
   is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, it altereth not. Hark, O
   man! Hark, O woman! He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the
   Lord Jesus Christ says, "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted,
   and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
   heaven." Though this is Saturday night, and ye are now preparing for
   the Sabbath, for what you know, you may yet never live to see the
   Sabbath. You have had awful proofs of this lately; a woman died but
   yesterday, a man died the day before, another was killed by something
   that fell from a house, and it may be in twenty-four hours more, many
   of you may be carried into an unalterable state. Now then, for God's
   sake, for your own souls sake, if ye have a mind to dwell with God, and
   cannot bear the thought of dwelling in everlasting burning, before I go
   any further, silently put up one prayer, or say Amen to the prayer I
   would put in your mouths; "Lord, search me and try me, Lord, examine my
   heart, and let my conscience speak; O let me know whether I am
   converted or not!" What say ye, my dear hearers? What say ye, my
   fellow-sinners? What say ye, my guilty brethren? Has God by his blessed
   Spirit wrought such a change in your hearts? I do not ask you, whether
   God has made you angels? That I know will never be; I only ask you,
   Whether ye have any well-grounded hope to think that God has made you
   new creatures in Christ Jesus? So renewed and changed your natures,
   that you can say, I humbly hope, that as to the habitual temper and
   tendency of my mind, that my heart is free from wickedness; I have a
   husband, I have a wife, I have also children, I keep a shop, I mind my
   business; but I love these creatures for God' sake, and do every thing
   for Christ: and if God was now to call me away, according to the
   habitual temper of my mind, I can say, Lord, I am ready; and however I
   love the creatures, I hope I can say, Whom have I in heaven but thee?
   Whom have I in heaven, O my God and my dear Redeemer, that I desire in
   comparison of thee? Can you thank God for the creatures, and say at the
   same time, these are not my Christ? I speak in plain language, you know
   my way of preaching: I do not want to play the orator, I do not want to
   be counted a scholar; I want to speak so as I may reach poor people's
   hearts. What say ye, my dear hearers? Are ye sensible of your weakness?
   Do ye feel that ye are poor, miserable, blind, and naked by nature? Do
   ye give up your hearts, your affections, your wills, your understanding
   to be guided by the Spirit of God, as a little child gives up its hand
   to be guided by its parent? Are ye little in your own eyes? Do ye think
   meanly of yourselves? And do you want to learn something new every day?
   I mention these marks, because I am apt to believe they are more
   adapted to a great many of your capacities. A great many of you have
   not that showing of affection ye sometimes had, therefore ye are for
   giving up all your evidences, and making way for the devil's coming
   into your heart. You are not brought up to the mount as ye used to be,
   therefore ye conclude ye have no grace at all. But if the Lord Jesus
   Christ has emptied thee, and humbled thee, if he is giving thee to se
   and know that thou art nothing; though thou are not growing upward,
   thou art growing downward; and though thou hast not so much joy, yet
   thy heart is emptying to be more abundantly replenished by and by. Can
   any of you follow me? Then, give God thanks, and take the comfort of
   it.

   If thou art thus converted, and become a little child, I welcome thee,
   in the name of the Lord Jesus, into God's dear family; I welcome thee,
   in the name of the dear Redeemer, into the company of God's children. O
   ye dear souls, though the world sees nothing in you, though there be no
   outward difference between you and others, yet I look upon you in
   another light, even as so many kings sons and daughters: all hail! In
   the name of God, I wish every one of you joy from my soul, ye sons and
   daughters of the King of kings. Will not you henceforth exercise a
   child-like temper? Will not such a thought melt down your hearts, when
   I tell you, that the great God, who might have frowned you to hell for
   your secret sins, that nobody knew of but God and your own souls, and
   who might have damned you times without number, hath cast the mantle of
   his love over you; his voice hath been, Let that man, that woman live,
   for I have found a ransom. O will ye not cry out, Why me, Lord? Was
   King George to send for any of your children, and were you to hear they
   were to be his adopted sons, how highly honored would you think your
   children to be? What great condescension was it for Pharaoh's daughter
   to take up Moses, a poor child exposed in an ark of bulrushes, and bred
   him up for her child? But what is that happiness in comparison of
   thine, who was the other day a child of the devil, but now by
   converting grace art become a child of God? Are ye converted? Are ye
   become like little children? Then what must ye do? My dear hearers, be
   obedient to God, remember God is your father; and as every one of you
   must know what a dreadful cross it is to have a wicked, disobedient
   child; if ye do not want your children to be disobedient to you, for
   Christ's sake be not disobedient to your heavenly parent. If God be
   your father, obey him: if God be your father, serve him; love him with
   all your heart, love him with all your might, with all your soul, and
   with all your strength. If God be your father, fly from everything that
   may displease him; and walk worthy of that God, who has called you to
   his kingdom and glory. If ye are converted and become like little
   children, then behave as little children: they long for the breast, and
   with it will be contented. Are ye new-born babes? Then desire the
   sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. I do not want that
   Arminian husks should go down with you; ye are kings sons and
   daughters, and have a more refined taste; you must have the doctrines
   of grace; and blessed be God that you dwell in a country, where the
   sincere word is so plainly preached. Are ye children? Then grow in
   grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Have
   any of you children that do not grow? Do not ye lament these children,
   and cry over them; do not ye say, my child will never be fit for
   anything in the world? Well, doth it grieve you to see a child that
   will not grow; how much must it grieve the heart of Christ to see you
   grow so little? Will ye be always children? Will ye be always learning
   the first principles of Christianity, and never press forward toward
   the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? God
   forbid. Let the language of your heart be, "Lord Jesus help me to grow,
   help me to learn more, learn me to live so as my progress may be known
   to all!"

   Are ye God's children? Are ye converted, and become like little
   children? Then deal with God as your little children do with you; as
   soon as ever they want any thing, or if any body hurt them, I appeal to
   yourselves if they do not directly run to their parent. Well, are ye
   God's children? Doth the devil trouble you? Doth the world trouble you?
   Go tell your father of it, go directly and complain to God. Perhaps you
   may say, I cannot utter fine words: but do any of you expect fine words
   from your children? If they come crying, and can speak but half words,
   do not your hearts yearn over them? And has not God unspeakably more
   pity to you? If ye can only make signs to him; "As a father pitieth his
   children, so will the Lord pity them that fear him." I pray you
   therefore be gold with your Father, saying, "Abba, Father," Satan
   troubles me, the world troubles me, my own mother's children are angry
   with me; heavenly Father, plead my cause! The Lord will then speak for
   you some way or other.

   Are ye converted, and become as little children, have ye entered into
   God's family? Then assure yourselves, that your heavenly father will
   chasten you now and then: "for what son is there whom the father
   chasteneth not: if ye are without chastisement, of which all are
   partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons." It is recorded of bishop
   Latimer, that in the house where he came to lodge, he overheard the
   master of the house say, I thank God I never had a cross in my life: O
   said he, then I will not stay here. I believe there is not a child of
   God, when in a good frame, but has prayed for great humility; they have
   prayed for great faith, they have prayed for great love, they have
   prayed for all the graces of the Spirit: Do ye know, when ye put us
   these prayers, that ye did also say, Lord send us great trials: for how
   is it possible to know ye have great faith, humility and love, unless
   God put you into great trials, that ye may know whether ye have them or
   not. I mention this, because a great many of the children of God (I am
   sure it has been a temptation to me many times, when I have been under
   God's smarting rod) when they have great trials, think God is giving
   them over. If therefore ye are God's children; if ye are converted and
   become as little children; do not expect that God will be like a
   foolish parent; no, he is a jealous God, he loves his child too well to
   spare his rod. How did he correct Miriam? How did he correct Moses? How
   hath God in all ages corrected his dearest children? Therefore if ye
   are converted, and become as little children, if God hath taken away a
   child, or your substance, if God suffers friends to forsake you, and if
   you are forsaken as it were both by God and man, say, Lord I thank
   thee! I am a perverse child, or God would not strike me so often and so
   hard. Do not blame your heavenly Father, but blame yourselves; he is a
   loving God, and a tender Father, "he is afflicted in all our
   afflictions:" therefore when God spake to Moses, he spake out of the
   bush, as much as to say, "Moses, this bush represents my people; as
   this bush is burning with fire, so are my children to burn with
   affliction; but I am in the bush; if the bush burns, I will burn with
   it, I will be with them in the furnace, I will be with them in the
   water, and though the water come over them, it shall not overflow
   them."

   Are ye God's children? Are ye converted and become as little children?
   Then will ye not long to go home and see your Father? O happy they that
   have gotten home before you; happy they that are up yonder, happy they
   who have ascended above this field of conflict. I know not what you may
   think of it, but since I heard that some, whose hearts God was pleased
   to work upon, are gone to glory, I am sometimes filled with grief, that
   God is not pleased to let me go home too. How can you see so much
   coldness among God's people? How can ye see God's people like the moon,
   waxing and waning? Who can but desire to be forever with the Lord?
   Thanks be to God, the time is soon coming; thanks be to God, he will
   come and will not tarry. Do not be impatient, God in his own time will
   fetch you home. And though ye may be brought to short allowance now,
   though some of you may be narrow in your circumstances, yet do not
   repine; a God, and the gospel of Christ, with brown bread, are great
   riches. In thy Father's house there is bread enough and to spare;
   though thou are now tormented, yet by and by thou shalt be comforted;
   the angels will look upon it as an honor to convey thee to Abraham's
   bosom, though thou are but a Lazarus here. By the frame of my heart, I
   am much inclined to speak comfortably to God's people.

   But I only mention one thing more, and that is, if ye are converted,
   and become as little children, then for God's sake take care of doing
   what children often do; they are too apt to quarrel one with another. O
   love one another; "he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in
   him." Joseph knew that his brethren were in danger of falling out,
   therefore when he left them, says he, "fall not out by the way." Ye are
   all children of the same Father, ye are all going to the same place;
   why should ye differ? The world has enough against us, the devil has
   enough against us, without our quarreling with each other; O walk in
   love. If I could preach no more, if I was not able to hold out to the
   end of my sermon, I would say as John did, when he was grown old and
   could not preach, "Little children, love one another:" if ye are God's
   children, then love one another. There is nothing grieves me more, than
   the differences amongst God's people. O hasten that time, when we shall
   either go to heaven, or never quarrel any more!

   Would to God I could speak to all of you in this comfortable language;
   but my master tells me, I must "not give that which is holy to dogs, I
   must not cast pearls before swine;" therefore, though I have been
   speaking comfortably, yet what I have been saying, especially in this
   latter part of the discourse, belongs to children; it is children's
   bread, it belongs to God's people. If any of you are graceless,
   Christless, unconverted creatures, I charge you not to touch it, I
   fence it in the name of God; here is a flaming sword turning every way
   to keep you from this bread of life, till ye are turned to Jesus
   Christ. And therefore, as I suppose many of you are unconverted, and
   graceless, go home! And away to your closets, and down with your
   stubborn hearts before God; if ye have not done lit before, let this be
   the night. Or, do not stay till ye go home; begin now, while standing
   here; pray to God, and let the language of thy heart be, Lord convert
   me! Lord make me a little child, Lord Jesus let me not be banished from
   thy kingdom! My dear friends, there is a great deal more implied in the
   words, than is expressed: when Christ says, "Ye shall not enter into
   the kingdom of heaven," it is as much to say, "ye shall certainly go to
   hell, ye shall certainly be damned, and dwell in the blackness of
   darkness for ever, ye shall go where the worm dies not, and where the
   fire is not quenched." The Lord God impress it upon your souls! May an
   arrow (as one lately wrote me in a letter) dipped in the blood of
   Christ, reach every unconverted sinner's heart! May God fulfill the
   text to every one of your souls! It is he alone that can do it. If ye
   confess your sins, and leave them, and lay hold on the Lord Jesus
   Christ, the Spirit of God shall be given you; if you will go and say,
   turn me, O my God! Thou knowest not, O man, what the return of God may
   be to thee. Did I think that preaching would be to the purpose, did I
   think that arguments would induce you to come, I would continue my
   discourse till midnight. And however some of you may hate me without a
   cause, would to God every one in this congregation was as much
   concerned for himself, as at present (blessed be God) I feel myself
   concerned for him. O that my head were waters, O that mine eyes were a
   fountain of tears, that I might weep over an unconverted, graceless,
   wicked, and adulterous generation. Precious souls, for God's sake think
   what will become of you when ye die, if you die without being
   converted; if ye go hence without the wedding garment, God will strike
   you speechless, and ye shall be banished from his presence for ever and
   ever. I know ye cannot dwell with everlasting burnings; behold then I
   show you a way of escape; Jesus is the way, Jesus is the truth, the
   Lord Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the live. It is his Spirit
   must convert you, come to Christ, and ye shall have it; and may God for
   Christ's sake give it to you all, and convert you, that we may all
   meet, never to part again, in his heavenly kingdom; even so Lord Jesus,
   Amen and Amen.
     __________________________________________________________________

                            What Think Ye of Christ?

   Matthew 22:42 -- "What think ye of Christ?"

   When it pleased the eternal Son of God to tabernacle among us, and
   preach the glad tidings of salvation to a fallen world, different
   opinions were entertained by different parties concerning him. As to
   his person, some said he was Moses; others that he was Elias, Jeremias,
   or one of the ancient prophets; few acknowledged him to be what he
   really was, God blessed for evermore. And as to his doctrine, though
   the common people, being free from prejudice, were persuaded of the
   heavenly tendency of his going about to do good, and for the
   generality, heard him gladly, and said he was a good man; yet the
   envious, worldly-minded, self-righteous governors and teachers of the
   Jewish church, being grieved at his success on the one hand, and unable
   (having never been taught of God) to understand the purity of his
   doctrine, on the other; notwithstanding our Lord spake as never man
   spake, and did such miracles which no man could possibly do, unless God
   was with him; yet they not only were so infatuated, as to say, that he
   deceived the people; but also were so blasphemous as to affirm, that he
   was in league with the devil himself, and cast out devils by Beeluzbul,
   the prince of devils. Nay, our Lord's own brethren and kinsmen,
   according to the flesh, were so blinded by prejudices and unbelief,
   that on a certain day; when he went out to teach the multitudes in the
   fields, they sent to take hold of him, urging this as a reason for
   their conduct, "That he was besides himself."

   Thus was the King and the Lord of glory judged by man's judgment, when
   manifest in flesh: far be it from any of his ministers to expect better
   treatment. No, if we come in the spirit and power of our Master, in
   this, as in every other part of his sufferings, we must follow his
   steps. The like reproaches which were cast on him, will be thrown on us
   also. Those that received our Lord and his doctrine, will receive and
   hear us for his name's sake. The poor, blessed be God, as our present
   meeting abundantly testifies, receive the gospel, and the common people
   hear us gladly; whilst those who are sitting in Moses' chair, and love
   to wear long robes, being ignorant of the righteousness which is of God
   by faith in Christ Jesus, and having never felt the power of God upon
   their hearts, will be continually crying our against us, as madmen,
   deceivers of the people, and as acting under the influence of evil
   spirits.

   But he is unworthy the name of a minister of the gospel of peace, who
   is unwilling, not only to have his name cast out as evil, but also to
   die for the truths of the Lord Jesus. It is the character of hirelings
   and false prophets, who care not for the sheep, to have all men speak
   well of them. "Blessed are you, (says our Lord to his first apostles,
   and in them to all succeeding ministers) when men speak all manner of
   evil against you falsely for my name's sake." And indeed it is
   impossible but such offenses must come; for men will always judge of
   others, according to the principles from which they act themselves. And
   if they care not to yield obedience to the doctrines which we deliver,
   they must necessarily, in self-defense, speak against the preachers,
   lest they should be asked that question, which the Pharisees of old
   feared to have retorted on them, if they confessed that John was a
   prophet, "Why then did you not believe on him?" In all such cases, we
   have nothing to do but to search our own hearts, and if we can assure
   our consciences, before God, that we act with a single eye to his
   glory, we are cheerfully to go on in our work, and not in the least to
   regard what men or devils can say against, or do unto us.

   But to return. You have heard what various thoughts there were
   concerning Jesus Christ, whilst here on earth; nor is he otherwise
   treated, even now he is exalted to sit down at the right hand of his
   Father in heaven. A stranger to Christianity, were he to hear, that we
   all profess to hold one Lord, would naturally infer, that we all
   thought and spoke one and the same thing about him. But alas! to our
   shame be it mentioned, though Christ be not divided in himself, yet
   professors are sadly divided in their thoughts about him; and that not
   only as to the circumstances of his religion, but also of those
   essential truths which must necessarily be believed and received by us,
   if ever we hope to be heirs of eternal salvation.

   Some, and I fear a multitude which no man can easily number, there are
   amongst us, who call themselves Christians, and yet seldom or never
   seriously think of Jesus Christ at all. They can think of their shops
   and their farms, their plays, their balls, their assemblies, and
   horse-races (entertainments which directly tend to exclude religion out
   of the world); but as for Christ, the author and finisher of faith, the
   Lord who has bought poor sinners with his precious blood, and who is
   the only thing worth thinking of, alas! he is not in all, or at most in
   very few of their thoughts. But believe me, O ye earthly, sensual,
   carnally-minded professors, however little you may think of Christ now,
   or however industriously you may strive to keep him out of your
   thoughts, by pursuing the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and
   the pride of life, yet there is a time coming, when you will wish you
   had thought of Christ more, and of your profits and pleasures less. For
   the gay, the polite, the rich also must die as well as others, and
   leave their pomps and vanities, and all their wealth behind them. And
   O! what thoughts will you entertain concerning Jesus Christ, in that
   hour?

   But I must not purpose these reflections: they would carry me too far
   from the main design of this discourse, which is to show, what those
   who are truly desirous to know how to worship God in spirit and in
   truth, ought to think concerning Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent to be
   the end of the law for righteousness to all them that shall believe.

   I trust, my brethren, you are more noble than to think me too strict or
   scrupulous, in thus attempting to regulate your thoughts about Jesus
   Christ: for by our thoughts, as well as our words and actions, are we
   to be judged at the great day. And in vain do we hope to believe in, or
   worship Christ aright, unless our principles, on which our faith and
   practice are founded, are agreeable to the form of sound words
   delivered to us in the scriptures of truth.

   Besides, many deceivers are gone abroad into the world. Mere heathen
   morality, and not Jesus Christ, is preached in most of our churches.
   And how should people think rightly of Christ, of whom they have
   scarcely heard? Bear with me a little then, whilst, to inform your
   consciences, I ask you a few questions concerning Jesus Christ. For
   there is no other name given under heaven, whereby we can be saved, but
   his.

   First, What think you about the person of Christ? "Whose Son is he?"
   This is the question our Lord put to the Pharisees in the words
   following the text; and never was it more necessary to repeat this
   question than in these last days. For numbers that are called after the
   name of Christ, and I fear, many that pretend to preach him, are so far
   advanced in the blasphemous chair, as openly to deny his being really,
   truly, and properly God. But no one that ever was partaker of his
   Spirit, will speak thus lightly of him. No; if they are asked, as Peter
   and his brethren were, "But whom say ye that I am?" they will reply
   without hesitation, "Thou art Christ the Son of the ever-living God."
   For the confession of our Lord's divinity, is the rock upon which he
   builds his church. Was it possible to take this away, the gates of hell
   would quickly prevail against it. My brethren, if Jesus Christ be not
   very God of very God, I would never preach the gospel of Christ again.
   For it would not be gospel; it would be only a system of moral ethics.
   Seneca, Cicero, or any of the Gentile philosophers, would be as good a
   Savior as Jesus of Nazareth. It is the divinity of our Lord that gives
   a sanction to his death, and makes him such a high-priest as became us,
   one who by the infinite mercies of his suffering could make a full,
   perfect sufficient sacrifice, satisfaction and oblation to infinitely
   offended justice. And whatsoever minister of the church of England,
   makes use of her forms, and eats of her bread, and yes holds not this
   doctrine (as I fear too many such are crept in amongst us) such a one
   belongs only to the synagogue of Satan. He is not a child or minister
   of God: no; he is a wolf in sheep's clothing; he is a child and
   minister of that wicked one the devil.

   Many will think these hard sayings; but I think it no breach of charity
   to affirm, that an Arian or Socinian cannot be a Christian. The one
   would make us believe Jesus Christ is only a created God, which is a
   self- contradiction: and the other would have us look on him only as a
   good man; and instead of owning his death to be an atonement for the
   sins of the world, would persuade us, that Christ died only to seal the
   truth of hid doctrine with his blood. But if Jesus Christ be no more
   than a mere man, if he be not truly God, he was the vilest sinner that
   ever appeared in the world. For he accepted of divine adoration from
   the man who had been born blind, as we read John 9:38, "And he said,
   Lord I believe, and he worshipped him." Besides, if Christ be not
   properly God, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins: for no created
   being, though of the highest order, could possibly merit anything at
   God' s hands; it was our Lord's divinity, that alone qualified him to
   take away the sins of the world; and therefore we hear St. John
   pronouncing so positively, that "the Word (Jesus Christ) was not only
   with God, but was God." For the like reason, St. Paul says, "that he
   was in the form of God: That in him dwelt all the fullness of the
   godhead bodily." Nay, Jesus Christ assumed the title which God gave to
   himself, when he sent Moses to deliver his people Israel. "Before
   Abraham was, I AM." And again, "I and my father are one." Which last
   words, though our modern infidels would evade and wrest, as they do
   other scriptures, to their own damnation, yet it is evident that the
   Jews understood our Lord, when he spoke thus, as making himself equal
   with God; otherwise, why did they stone him as a blasphemer? And now,
   why should it be thought a breach of charity, to affirm, that those who
   deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, in the strictest sense of the word,
   cannot be Christians? For they are greater infidels than the devils
   themselves, who confessed that they knew who he was, "even the holy one
   of God." They not only believe, but, which is more than the unbelievers
   of this generation do, they tremble. And was it possible for
   arch-heretics, to be released from their chains of darkness, under
   which (unless they altered their principles before they died) they are
   now reserved to the judgment of the great day, I am persuaded they
   would inform us, how hell had convinced them of the divinity of Jesus
   Christ, and that they would advise their followers to abhor their
   principles, lest they should come into the same place, and thereby
   increase each others torments.

   But, Secondly, What think you of the manhood or incarnation of Jesus
   Christ? For Christ was not only God, but he was God and man in one
   person. Thus runs the text and context, "When the Pharisees were
   gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ?
   Whose Son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. How then, says
   our divine master, does David in spirit call him Lord?" From which
   passage it is evident, that we do not think rightly of the person of
   Jesus Christ, unless we believe him to be perfect God and perfect man,
   or a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

   For it is on this account that he is called Christ, or the anointed
   one, who through his own voluntary offer was set apart by the father,
   and strengthened and qualified by the anointing or communication of the
   Holy Ghost, to be a mediator between Him and offending man.

   The reason why the Son of God took upon him our nature, was, the fall
   of our first parents. I hope there is no one present so atheistical, as
   to think, that man made himself; no, it was God that made us, and not
   we ourselves. And I would willingly think, that no one is so
   blasphemous as to suppose, that if God did make us, he made us such
   creatures as we now find ourselves to be. For this would be giving
   God's word the lie, which tells us, that "in the image of God (not in
   the image which we now bear on our souls) made he man." As God made
   man, so God made him perfect. He placed him in the garden of Eden, and
   condescended to enter into a covenant with him, promising him eternal
   life, upon condition of unsinning obedience; and threatening eternal
   death, if he broke his law, and did eat the forbidden fruit.

   Man did eat; and herein acting as our representative, thereby involved
   both himself and us in that curse, which God, the righteous judge, had
   said should be the consequence of his disobedience. But here begins
   that mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh. For (sing, O
   heavens, and rejoice, O earth!) the eternal Father, foreseeing how
   Satan would bruise the heel of man, had in his eternal counsel provided
   a means whereby he might bruise that accursed Serpent's head. Man is
   permitted to fall, and become subject to death; but Jesus, the only
   begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of
   light, very God of very God, offers to die to make an atonement for his
   transgression, and to fulfill all righteousness in his stead. And
   because it was impossible for him to do this as he was God, and yet
   since man had offended, it was necessary it should be done in the
   person of man; rather than we should perish, this everlasting God, this
   Prince of Peace, this Ancient of Days, in the fullness of time, had a
   body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost, and became an infant. In this
   body he performed a complete obedience to the law of God; whereby he,
   in our stead, fulfilled the covenant of works, and at last became
   subject to death, even death upon the cross; that as God he might
   satisfy, as man he might obey and suffer; and being God and man in one
   person, might once more procure a union between God and our souls.

   And now, What think you of this love of Christ? Do not you think it was
   wondrous great? Especially when you consider, that we were Christ's
   bitter enemies, and that he would have been infinitely happy in
   himself, notwithstanding we had perished forever. Whatever you may
   think of it, I know the blessed angels, who are not so much concerned
   in this mystery of godliness as we, think most highly of it. They do,
   they will desire to look into, and admire it, through all eternity.
   Why, why O ye sinners, will you not think of this love of Christ?
   Surely it must melt down the most hardened heart. Whilst I am speaking,
   the thought of this infinite and condescending love fires and warms my
   soul. I could dwell on it for ever. But it is expedient for you, that I
   should ask you another question concerning Jesus Christ.

   Thirdly, What think you about being justified by Christ? I believe I
   can answer for some of you; for many, I fear, think to be justified or
   looked upon as righteous in God's sight, without Jesus Christ. But such
   will find themselves dreadfully mistaken; for out of Christ, "God is a
   consuming fire." Others satisfy themselves, with believing that Christ
   was God and man, and that he came into the world to save sinners in
   general; whereas, their chief concern ought to be, how they may be
   assured that Jesus Christ came into the world to save them in
   particular. "The life that I now live in the flesh, (says the Apostle)
   is by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
   Observe, for me: it is this immediate application of Jesus Christ to
   our own hearts; and that they can be justified in God's sight, only in
   or through him: but then they make him only in part a savior. They are
   for doing what they can themselves, and then Jesus Christ is to make up
   the deficiencies of their righteousness. This is the sum and substance
   of our modern divinity. And was it possible for me to know the thoughts
   of most that hear me this day, I believe they would tell me, this was
   the scheme they had laid, and perhaps depended on for some years, for
   their eternal salvation. Is it not then high time, my brethren, for you
   to entertain quite different thoughts concerning justification by Jesus
   Christ? For if you think thus, you are in the case of those unhappy
   Jews, who went about to establish their own righteousness, and would
   not submit to, and consequently missed of that righteousness which is
   of God by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. What think you then, if I
   tell you, that you are to be justified freely through faith in Jesus
   Christ, without any regard to any work or fitness foreseen in us at
   all? For salvation is the free gift of God, I know no fitness in man,
   but a fitness to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone for ever.
   Our righteousnesses, in God's sight, are but as filthy rags; he cannot
   away with them. Our holiness, if we have any, is not the cause, but the
   effect of our justification in God's sight. "We love God, because he
   first loved us." We must not come to God as the proud Pharisee did,
   bringing in as it were a reckoning of our services; we must come in the
   temper and language of the poor Publican, smiting upon our breasts, and
   saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner;" for Jesus Christ justifies us
   whilst we are ungodly. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners
   to repentance. The poor in spirit only, they who are willing to go out
   of themselves, and rely wholly on the righteousness of another, are so
   blessed as to be members of his kingdom. The righteousness, the whole
   righteousness of Jesus Christ, is to be imputed to us, instead of our
   own: "or we are not under the law, but under grace; and to as many as
   walk after this rule, peace be on them;" for they, and they only are
   the true Israel of God. In the great work of man" redemption, boasting
   is entirely excluded; which could not be, if only one of our works was
   to be joined with the merits of Christ. Our salvation is all of God,
   from the beginning to the end; it is not of works, lest any man should
   boast; man has no hand in it: it is Christ who is to be made to us of
   God the Father, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and eternal
   redemption. His active as well as his passive obedience, is to be
   applied to poor sinners. He has fulfilled all righteousness in our
   stead, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. All we
   have to do, is to lay hold on this righteousness by faith; and the very
   moment we do apprehend it by a lively faith, that very moment we may be
   assured, that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin.
   "For the promise is to us and to our children, and to as many as the
   Lord our God shall call." If we and our whole houses believe, we shall
   be saved as well as the jailer and his house; for the righteousness of
   Jesus Christ is an everlasting, as well as a perfect righteousness. It
   is as effectual to all who believe in him now, as formerly; and so it
   will be, till time shall be no more. Search the scriptures, as the
   Bereans did, and see whether these things are not so. Search St. Paul's
   epistles to the Romans and Galatians, and there you will find this
   doctrine so plainly taught you, that unless you have eyes and see not,
   he that runs may read. Search the Eleventh Article of our Church: "We
   are accounted righteous before God, only for the merits of our Lord and
   Savior Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings."

   This doctrine of our free justification by faith in Christ Jesus,
   however censured and evil spoken of by our present Masters of Israel,
   was highly esteemed by our wise fore-fathers; for in the subsequent
   words of the aforementioned article, it is called a most wholesome
   doctrine, and very full of comfort; and so it is to all that are weary
   and heavy laden, and are truly willing to find rest in Jesus Christ.

   This is gospel, this is glad tidings of great joy to all that feel
   themselves poor, lost, undone, damned sinners. "Ho, every one that
   thirsteth, come unto the waters of life, and drink freely; come and buy
   without money and without price." Behold a fountain opened in your
   Savior's side, for sin and for all uncleanness. "Look unto him whom you
   have pierced;" look unto him by faith, and verily you shall be saved,
   though you came here only to ridicule and blaspheme, and never thought
   of God or of Christ before.

   Not that you must think God will save you because, or on account of
   your faith; for faith is a work, and then you would be justified for
   your works; but when I tell you, we are to be justified by faith, I
   mean that faith is the instrument whereby the sinner applies or brings
   home the redemption of Jesus Christ to his heart. And to whomsoever God
   gives such a faith, (for it is the free gift of God) he may lift up his
   head with boldness, he need not fear; he is a spiritual son of our
   spiritual David; he is passed from death to life, he shall never come
   into condemnation. This is the gospel which we preach. If any man or
   angel preach any other gospel, than this of our being freely justified
   through faith in Christ Jesus, we have the authority of the greatest
   Apostle, to pronounce him accursed.

   And now, my brethren, what think you of this foolishness of preaching?
   To you that have tasted the good word of life, who have been
   enlightened to see the riches of God's free grace in Christ Jesus, I am
   persuaded it is precious, and has distilled like the dew into your
   souls. And O that all were like-minded! But I am afraid, numbers are
   ready to go away contradicting and blaspheming. Tell me, are there not
   many of you saying within yourselves, "This is a licentious doctrine;
   this preacher is opening a door for encouragement in sin." But this
   does not surprise me at all, it is a stale, antiquated objection, as
   old a the doctrine of justification itself; and (which by the way is
   not much to the credit of those who urge it now) it was made by an
   infidel. St. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, after he had, in the
   first five chapters, demonstrably proved the doctrine of justification
   by faith alone; in the sixth, brings in an unbeliever saying, "Shall we
   continue in sin then, that grace may abound?" But as he rejected such
   an inference with a "God forbid!" so do I: for the faith which we
   preach, is not a dead speculative faith, an assenting to things
   credible, as credible, as it is commonly defined: it is not a faith of
   the head only, but a faith of the heart. It is a living principle
   wrought in the soul, by the Spirit of the ever-living God, convincing
   the sinner of his lost, undone condition by nature; enabling him to
   apply and lay hold on the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, freely
   offered him in the gospel, and continually exciting him, out of a
   principle of love and gratitude, to show forth that faith, by abounding
   in every good word and work. This is the sum and substance of the
   doctrine that has been delivered. And if this be a licentious doctrine,
   judge ye. No, my brethren, this is not destroying, but teaching you how
   to do good works, from a proper principle. For to use the words of our
   Church in another of her Articles, "Works done before the grace of
   Christ, and the inspiration of the Spirit, are not pleasant to God,
   forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; rather, for that
   they are not done as God has willed and commanded them to be done, we
   doubt not but they have the nature of sin." So that they who bid you
   do, and then live, are just as wise as those who would persuade you to
   build a beautiful magnificent house, without laying a foundation.

   It is true, the doctrine of our free justification by faith in Christ
   Jesus, like other gospel truths, may and will be abused by men of
   corrupt minds, reprobates concerning the faith; but they who receive
   the truth of God in the love if it, will always be showing their faith
   by their works. For this reason, St. Paul, after he had told the
   Ephesians, "By grace they were saved through faith, not of works, lest
   any man should boast," immediately adds, "For we are his workmanship,
   created in Christ Jesus unto good works." And in his epistle to Titus,
   having given him directions to tell the people they were justified by
   grace, directly subjoins, chap. 3, ver. 8, "I will that you affirm
   constantly, that they who have believed in God might be careful to
   maintain good works." Agreeable to this, we are told in our Twelfth
   Article, "That albeit good works, which are the fruits of faith, and
   follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the
   severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God
   in Christ; and do spring necessarily out of a true and lively faith,
   insomuch, that a lively faith may be as evidently known by them, as a
   tree discerned by the fruit."

   What would I give, that this Article was duly understood and preached
   by all that have subscribed to it! The ark of the Lord would not then
   be driven into the wilderness, nor would so many persons dissent from
   the Church of England. For I am fully persuaded, that it is not so much
   on account of rites and ceremonies, as our not preaching the truth as
   it is in Jesus, that so many have been obliged to go and seek for food
   elsewhere. Did not we fall from our established doctrines, few,
   comparatively speaking, would fall from the Established Church. Where
   Christ is preached, though it be in a church or on a common, dissenters
   of all denominations have, and do must freely come. But if our clergy
   will preach only the law, and not show the way of salvation by faith in
   Christ, the charge of schism at the day of judgment, I fear, will
   chiefly lie at their door. The true sheep of Christ know the voice of
   Christ's true shepherds, and strangers they will not hear.

   Observe, my dear brethren, the words of the Article, "Good works are
   the fruits of faith, and follow after justification." How then can they
   precede, or be any way the cause of it? Our persons must be justified,
   before our performances can be accepted. God had respect to Abel before
   he had respect to his offering; and therefore the righteousness of
   Jesus Christ must be freely imputed to, and apprehended by us through
   faith, before we can offer an acceptable sacrifice to God: for out of
   Christ, as I hinted before, God is a consuming fire: and whatsoever is
   not of faith in Christ, is sin.

   That people mistake the doctrine of free justification, I believe, is
   partly owing to their not rightly considering the different persons to
   whom St. Paul and St. James wrote in their epistles; as also the
   different kind of justification each of them writes about. The former
   affects in line upon line, argument upon argument, "That we are
   justified by faith alone:" The latter put this question, "Was not
   Abraham justified by works?" From whence many, not considering the
   different views of these holy men, and the different persons they wrote
   to, have blended and joined faith and works, in order to justify us in
   the sight of God. But this is a capital mistake; for St. Paul was
   writing to the Jewish proselytes, who sought righteousness by the
   works, not of the ceremonial only, but of the moral law. In
   contradistinction to that, he tells them, they were to look for
   justification in God's sight, only by the perfect righteousness of
   Jesus Christ apprehended by faith. St. James had a different set of
   people to deal with; such who abused the doctrines of free
   justification, and thought they should be saved (as numbers among us do
   now) upon their barely professing to believe on Jesus Christ. These the
   holy Apostle endeavors wisely to convince, that such a faith was only a
   dead and false faith; and therefore, it behooved all who would be
   blessed with faithful Abraham, to show forth their faith by their
   works, as he did. "For was not Abraham justified by works?" Did he not
   prove that his faith was a true justifying faith, by its being
   productive of good works? From whence it is plain, that St. James is
   talking of a declarative justification before men; show me,
   demonstrate, evidence to me, that thou hast a true faith, by thy works.
   Whereas, St. Paul is talking only of our being justified in the sight
   of God; and thus he proves, that Abraham, as we also are to be, was
   justified before ever the moral or ceremonial law was given to the
   Jews, for it is written, "Abraham believed in the Lord, and it was
   accounted to him for righteousness."

   Take the substance of what has been said on this head, in the few
   following words. Every man that is saved, is justified three ways:
   First, meritoriously, by the death of Jesus Christ: "It is the blood of
   Jesus Christ alone that cleanses us from all sin." Secondly,
   instrumentally, by faith; faith is the means or instrument whereby the
   merits of Jesus Christ are applied to the sinner's heart: "Ye are all
   the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Thirdly, we are
   justified declaratively; namely, by good works; good works declare and
   prove to the world, that our faith is a true saving faith. "Was not
   Abraham justified by works?" And again, "Show me thy faith by thy
   works."

   It may not be improper to illustrate this doctrine by an example or
   two. I suppose no one will pretend to say, that there was any fitness
   for salvation in Zaccheus the publican, when he came to see Jesus out
   of no better principle, than that whereby perhaps thousands are led to
   hear me preach; I mean, curiosity: but Jesus Christ prevented and
   called him by his free grace, and sweetly, but irresistibly inclined
   him to obey that call; as, I pray God, he may influence all you that
   come only to see who the preacher is. Zaccheus received our Lord
   joyfully into his house, and at the same time by faith received him
   into his heart; Zaccheus was then freely justified in the sight of God.
   But behold the immediate fruits of that justification! He stands forth
   in the midst and as before he had believed in his heart, he now makes
   confession with his mouth to salvation: "Behold, Lord, the half of my
   goods I give unto the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man
   by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." And thus it will be with
   thee, O believer, as soon as ever God's dear Son is revealed in thee by
   a living faith; thou wilt have no rest in thy spirit, till out of love
   and gratitude for what God has done for thy soul, thou showest forth
   thy faith by thy works.

   Again, I suppose every body will grant there was no fitness for
   salvation in the persecutor Saul; no more than there is in those
   persecuting zealots of these last days, who are already breathing out
   threatenings, and, if in their power, would breathe out slaughter also,
   against the disciples of the Lord.

   Now our Lord, we know, freely prevented him by his grace, (and O that
   he would thus effectually call the persecutors of this generation) and
   by a light from heaven struck him to the ground. At the same time, by
   his Spirit, he pricked him to the heart, convinced him of sin, and
   caused him to cry out, "Who art thou, Lord?" Christ replies, "I am
   Jesus whom thou persecutest." Faith then was instantaneously given to
   him, and behold, immediately Saul cries out, "Lord, what wouldst thou
   have me to do?" And so will every poor soul that believes on the Lord
   Jesus with his whole heart. He will be always asking, Lord, what shall
   I do for thee? Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do? Not to justify
   himself, but only to evidence the sincerity of his love and
   thankfulness to his all-merciful High-priest, for plucking him as a
   firebrand out of the fire.

   Perhaps many self-righteous persons amongst you, may flatter
   yourselves, that you are not so wicked as either Zaccheus or Saul was,
   and consequently there is a greater fitness for salvation in you than
   in them. But if you think thus, indeed you think more highly of
   yourselves than you ought to think: for by nature we are all alike, all
   equally fallen short of the glory of God, all equally dead in
   trespasses and sins, and there needs the same almighty power to be
   exerted in converting any one of the most sober, good-natured, moral
   persons here present, as there was in converting the publican Zaccheus,
   or that notorious persecutor Saul. And was it possible for you to
   ascend into the highest heaven, and to inquire of the spirits of just
   men made perfect, I am persuaded they would tell you this doctrine is
   from God. But we have a more sure word of prophecy, to which we do well
   to give heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place. My brethren, the
   word is nigh you; search the scriptures; beg of God to make you willing
   to be saved in this day of his power; for it is not flesh and blood,
   but the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that alone can reveal these things unto
   you.

   Fourthly and Lastly, What think you of Jesus Christ being formed within
   you? For whom Christ justifies, them he also sanctifies. Although he
   finds, yet he does not leave us unholy. A true Christian may not so
   properly be said to live, as Jesus Christ to live in him. For they only
   that are led by the Spirit of Christ, are the true sons of God.

   As I observed before, so I tell you again, the faith which we preach is
   not a dead, but a lively active faith wrought in the soul, working a
   thorough change, by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the whole man; and
   unless Christ be thus in you, notwithstanding you may be orthodox as to
   the foregoing principles, notwithstanding you may have good desires,
   and attend constantly on the means of grace; yet, in St. Paul's
   opinion, you are out of a state of salvation. "Know you not, (says that
   Apostle to the Corinthians, a church famous for its gifts above any
   church under heaven) that Christ is in you, (by his Spirit) unless you
   are reprobates?"

   For Christ came not only to save us from the guilt, but from the power
   of our sins; till he has done this, however he may be a Savior to
   others, we can have no assurance of well-grounded hope, that he has
   saved us; for it is by receiving his blessed Spirit into our hearts,
   and feeling him witnessing with our spirits, that we are the sons of
   God, that we can be certified of our being sealed to the day of
   redemption.

   This is a great mystery; but I speak of Christ and the new-birth.
   Marvel not at my asking you, what you think about Christ being formed
   within you? For either God must change his nature, or we ours. For as
   in Adam we all have spiritually died, so all that are effectually saved
   by Christ, must in Christ be spiritually made alive. His only end in
   and rising again, and interceding for us now in heaven, is to redeem us
   from the misery of our fallen nature, and, by the operation of his
   blessed Spirit, to make us meet to be partakers of the heavenly
   inheritance with the saints in light. None but those that thus are
   changed by his grace here, shall appear with him in glory hereafter.

   Examine yourselves, therefore, my brethren, whether you are in the
   faith; prove yourselves; and think it not sufficient to say in your
   creed, I believe in Jesus Christ; many say so, who do not believe, who
   are reprobates, and yet in a state of death. You take God's name in
   vain, when you call him Father, and your prayers are turned into sin,
   unless you believe in Christ, so as to have your life hid with him in
   God, and to receive life and nourishment from him, as branches do from
   the vine.

   I know, indeed, the men of this generation deny there is any such thing
   as feeling Christ within them; but alas! to what a dreadful condition
   would such reduce us, even to the state of the abandoned heathen, who,
   St. Paul tells us, "were past feeling." The Apostle prays, that the
   Ephesians may abound in all knowledge and spiritual understanding, or
   as it might be rendered, spiritual sensation. And in the office for the
   visitation of the sick, the minister prays, that the Lord may make the
   sick person know and feel, that there is not other name under heaven
   given unto men, in whom and through whom they may receive health and
   salvation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus. For there is a
   spiritual, as well as a corporeal feeling; and though this is not
   communicated to us in a sensible manner, as outward objects affect our
   senses, yet it is as real as any sensible or visible sensation, and may
   be as truly felt and discerned by the soul, as any impression from
   without can be felt by the body. All who are born again of God, know
   that I lie not.

   What think you, Sirs, did Naaman feel, when he was cured of his
   leprosy? Did the woman feel virtue coming out of Jesus Christ, when she
   touched the hem of his garment, and was cured of her bloody issue? So
   surely mayst thou feel, O believer, when Jesus Christ dwelleth in thy
   heart. I pray God to make you all know and feel this, ere you depart
   hence.

   O my brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you. I trust I feel
   something of that hidden, but powerful presence of Christ, whilst I am
   preaching to you. Indeed it is sweet, it is exceedingly comfortable.
   All the harm I wish you, who without cause are my enemies, is, that you
   felt the like. Believe me, though it would be hell to my soul, to
   return to a natural state again, yet I would willingly change status
   with you for a little while, that you might know what it is to have
   Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith. Do not turn your backs; do not
   let the devil hurry you away; be not afraid of convictions; do not
   think worse of the doctrine, because preached without the church walls.
   Our Lord, I the days of his flesh, preached on a mount, in a ship, and
   a field; and I am persuaded, many have felt his gracious presence here.
   Indeed we speak what we know. Do not reject the kingdom of God against
   yourselves; be so wise as to receive our witness. I cannot, I will not
   let you go; stay a little, let us reason together. However lightly you
   may esteem your souls, I know our Lord has set an unspeakable value on
   them. He thought them worthy of his most precious blood. I beseech you,
   therefore, O sinners, be ye reconciled to God. I hope you do not fear
   being accepted in the beloved. Behold, he calleth you; behold, he
   prevents and follows you with his mercy, and hath sent forth his
   servants unto the highways and hedges, to compel you to come in.
   Remember then, that at such an hour of such a day, in such a year, in
   this place, you were all told what you ought to think concerning Jesus
   Christ. If you now perish, it will not be for lack of knowledge: I am
   free from the blood of you all. You cannot say I have been preaching
   damnation to you; you cannot say I have, like legal preachers, been
   requiring you to make brick without straw. I have not bidden you to
   make yourselves saints, and then come to God; but I have offered you
   salvation on as cheap terms as you can desire. I have offered you
   Christ's whole wisdom, Christ's whole righteousness, Christ's whole
   sanctification and eternal redemption, if you will but believe on him.
   If you say, you cannot believe, you say right; for faith, as well as
   every other blessing, is the gift of God; but then wait upon God, and
   who knows but he may have mercy on thee? Why do we not entertain more
   loving thoughts of Christ? Or do you think he will have mercy on
   others, and not on you? But are you not sinners? And did not Jesus
   Christ come into the world to save sinners? If you say you are the
   chief of sinners, I answer, that will be no hindrance to your
   salvation, indeed it will not, if you lay hold on him by faith. Read
   the Evangelists, and see how kindly he behaved to his disciples who
   fled from and denied him: "Go tell my brethren," says he. He did not
   say, Go tell those traitors; but, "Go tell my brethren in general, and
   poor Peter in particular, "that I am risen;" O comfort his poor
   drooping heart, tell him am reconciled to him; bit him weep no more so
   bitterly: for though with and curses he thrice denied me, yet I have
   died for his sins, I am risen again for his justification: I freely
   forgive him all. Thus slow to anger, and of great kindness, was our
   all-merciful High-priest. And do you think he has changed his nature,
   and forgets poor sinners; now he is exalted to the right hand of God?
   No, he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and sitteth there
   only to make intercession for us. Come then, ye harlots, come ye
   publicans, come ye most abandoned of sinners, come and believe on Jesus
   Christ. Though the whole world despise you and cast you out, yet he
   will not disdain to take you up. O amazing, O infinitely condescending
   love! even you, he will not be ashamed to call his brethren. How will
   you escape if you neglect such a glorious offer of salvation? What
   would the damned spirits, now in the prison of hell, give, if Christ
   was so freely offered to their souls? And why are not we lifting up our
   eyes in torments? Does any one out of this great multitude dare say, he
   does not deserve damnation? If not, why are we left, and others taken
   away by death? What is this but an instance of God's free grace, and a
   sign of his good will towards us? Let God's goodness lead us to
   repentance! O let there be joy in heaven over some of you repenting!
   Though we are in a field, I am persuaded the blessed angels are
   hovering now around us, and do long, "as the hart panteth after the
   water-brooks," to sing an anthem at your conversion. Blessed be God, I
   hope their joy will be fulfilled. An awful silence appears amongst us.
   I have good hope that the words which the Lord has enabled me to speak
   in your ears this day, have not altogether fallen to the ground. Your
   tears and deep attention, are an evidence, that the Lord God is amongst
   us of a truth. Come, ye Pharisees, come and see, in spite of your
   satanical rage and fury, the Lord Jesus is getting himself the victory.
   And brethren, I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, if one soul of
   you, by the blessing of God, be brought to think savingly of Jesus
   Christ this day, I care not if my enemies were permitted to carry me to
   prison, and put my feet fast in the stocks, as soon as I have delivered
   this sermon. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that you
   may be saved. For this cause I follow my Master without the camp. I
   care not how much of his sacred reproach I bear, so that some of you be
   converted from the errors of your ways. I rejoice, yea and I will
   rejoice. Ye men, ye devils, do your worst: the Lord who sent, will
   support me. And when Christ, who is our life, and whom I have now been
   preaching, shall appear, I also, together with his despised little
   ones, shall appear with him in glory. And then, what will you think of
   Christ? I know what you will think of him. You will then think him to
   be the fairest among ten thousand: You will then think and feel him to
   be a just and sin-avenging judge. Be ye then persuaded to kiss him lest
   he be angry, and so you be banished for ever from the presence of the
   Lord. Behold, I come to you as the angel did to Lot. Flee, flee, for
   your lives; haste, linger no longer in your spiritual Sodom, for
   otherwise you will be eternally destroyed. Numbers, no doubt, there are
   amongst you, that may regard me no more than Lot's sons-in-law regarded
   him. I am persuaded I seem t some of you as one that mocketh: but I
   speak the truth in Christ, I lie not; as sure as fire and brimstone was
   rained from the Lord out of heaven, to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, so
   surely, at the great day, shall the vials of God's wrath be poured on
   you. If you do not think seriously of, and act agreeable to the gospel
   of the Lord's Christ. Behold, I have told you before; and I pray God,
   all you that forget him may seriously think of what has been said,
   before he pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you.

   Now to God the Father, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

                          The Wise and Foolish Virgins

   Matthew 25:13 -- "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the
   hour in which the Son of man cometh." (Text is actually Matt. 25:1-13)

   The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, informs us, "That it
   is appointed for all men once to die; after that is the judgment." And
   I think, if any consideration be sufficient to awaken a sleeping drowsy
   world, it must be this, That there will be a day wherein these heavens
   shall be wrapped up like a scroll, this element melt with fervent heat,
   the earth and all things therein be burnt up, and every soul, of every
   nation and language, summoned to appear before the dreadful tribunal of
   the righteous Judge of quick and dead, to receive rewards and
   punishments, according to the deeds done in their bodies. The great
   apostle just mentioned, when brought before Felix, could think of no
   better means to convert that sinful man, than to reason to temperance,
   righteousness, and more especially of a judgment to come. The first
   might in some measure affect, but, I am persuaded, it was the last
   consideration, a judgment to come, that made him to tremble: and so bad
   as the world is now grown, yet there are few have their consciences so
   far seared, as to deny that there will be a reckoning hereafter. The
   promiscuous dispensations of providence in this life, wherein we see
   good men afflicted, destitute, tormented, and the wicked permitted
   triumphantly to ride over their heads, has been always looked upon as
   an indisputable argument, by the generality of men, that there will be
   a day in which God will judge the world in righteousness, and
   administer equity unto his people. Some indeed are so bold as to deny
   it, while they are engaged in the pursuit of the lust of the eye, and
   the pride of life. But follow them to their death bed, ask them, when
   their souls are ready to launch into eternity, what they then think of
   a judgment to come and they will tell you, they dare not give their
   consciences the lie any longer. They feel a fearful looking for of
   judgment and fiery indignation in their hearts. Since then these things
   are so, does it not highly concern each of us, my brethren, before we
   come on a bed of sickness, seriously to examine how the account stands
   between God and our souls, and how it will fare with us in that day? As
   for the openly profane, the drunkard, the whoremonger, the adulterer,
   and such-like, there is no doubt of what will become of them; without
   repentance they shall never enter into the kingdom of God and his
   Christ: no; their damnation slumbereth not; a burning fiery Tophet,
   kindled by the fury of God's eternal wrath, is prepared for their
   reception, wherein they must suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Nor
   is there the least doubt of the state of true believers. For though
   they are despised and rejected of natural men, yet being born again of
   God, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. They have the
   earnest of the promised inheritance in their hearts, and are assured
   that a new and living way is made open for them, into the holy of
   holies, by the blood of Jesus Christ, into which an abundant entrance
   shall be administered to them at the great day of account. The only
   question is, what will become of the Almost Christian, one that is
   content to go, as he thinks, in a middle way to heaven, without being
   profane on the one hand, or, as he falsely imagines, righteous
   over-much on the other? Many there are in every congregation, and
   consequently some here present, of this stamp. And what is worst of
   all, it is more easy to convince the most notorious publicans and
   sinners of their being out of a state of salvation, than any of these.
   Notwithstanding, if Jesus Christ may be our judge, they shall as
   certainly be rejected and disowned by him at the last day, as though
   they lived in open defiance of all his laws. For what says our Lord in
   the parable of which the words of the text are a conclusion, and which
   I intend to make the subject of my present discourse. "Then," at the
   day of judgment, which he had been discoursing of in the foregoing, and
   prosecutes in this chapter, "shall the kingdom of heaven, (the state of
   professors in the gospel church) be likened unto ten virgins, who took
   their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." In which words, is
   a manifest allusion to a custom prevailing in our Lord's time among the
   Jews, at marriage solemnities, which were generally at night, and at
   which it was customary for the persons of the bride-chamber to go out
   in procession, with many lights, to meet the bridegroom. By the
   bridegroom, you are here to understand Jesus Christ. The church, i.e.
   true believers, are his Israel; he is united to them by one spirit,
   even in this life; but the solemnizing of their sacred nuptials, is
   reserved till the day of judgment, when he shall come to take them home
   to himself, and present them before men and angels, as his purchase, to
   his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. By the ten
   virgins we are to understand, the professors of Christianity in
   general. All are called virgins, because all are called to be saints.
   Whosoever names the name of Christ, is obliged by that profession to
   depart from all iniquity. But the pure and chaste in heart, are the
   only persons that will be blessed as to see God. As Christ was born of
   a virgin, so he can dwell in none but virgins souls, made pure and holy
   by the cohabitation of his holy Spirit. What says the apostle? "All are
   not Israel that are of Israel," all are not Christians that are called
   after the name of Christ: No, says our Lord, in the 2nd verse, "Five of
   those virgins were wise," true believers, "and five were foolish,"
   formal hypocrites. But why are five said to be wise, and the other five
   foolish? Hear what our Lord says in the following verses; "They that
   were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise
   took oil in their vessels with their lamps." They that were foolish
   took their lamps of an outward profession. They would go to church, say
   over several manuals of prayers, come perhaps into a field to hear a
   sermon, give at a collection, and receive the sacrament constantly,
   nay, oftener than once a month. But then here lay the mistake; they had
   no oil in their lamps, no principle of grace, no living faith in their
   hearts, without which, though we should give all our goods to feed the
   poor, and our bodies to be burnt, it would profit us nothing. In short,
   they were exact, nay, superstitious bigots as to the form, but all the
   while they were strangers to, and, in effect, denied the power of
   godliness in their hearts. They would go to church, but at the same
   time, think it no harm to go to a ball or an assembly, notwithstanding
   they promised at their baptism, to renounce the pomps and vanities of
   this wicked world. They were so exceedingly fearful of being righteous
   over-much, that they would even persecute those that were truly devout,
   if they attempted to go a step farther than themselves. In one word,
   they never effectually felt the power of the world to come. They
   thought they might be Christians without so much inward feeling, and
   therefore, notwithstanding their high pretensions, had only a name of
   live.

   And now, Sirs, let pause a while, and in the name of God, whom I
   endeavor to serve in the gospel of his dear Son, give me leave to ask
   one question. Whilst I have been drawing, though in miniature, the
   character of these foolish virgins, have not many of your consciences
   made the application, and with a small, still, though articulate voice,
   said, Thou man, thou woman, art one of those foolish virgins, for thy
   sentiments and practice agree thereto? Stifle not, but rather encourage
   these convictions; and who knows, but that Lord who is rich in mercy to
   all that call upon him faithfully, may so work upon you even by this
   foolishness of preaching, as to make you wise virgins before you return
   home?

   What they were you shall know immediately: "But the wise took oil in
   their vessels with their lamps." Observe, the wise, the true believers,
   had their lamps as well as the foolish virgins; for Christianity does
   not require us to cast off all outward forms; we may use forms, and yet
   not be formal: for instance, it is possible to worship God in a set
   form of prayer, and yet worship him in spirit and in truth. And
   therefore, brethren, let us not judge one another. The wise virgins had
   their lamps; herein did not lie the difference between them and the
   foolish, that one worshipped God with a form, and the other did not:
   No: as the Pharisee and Publican went up to the temple to pray, so
   these wise and foolish virgins might go to the same place of worship,
   and sit under the same ministry; but then the wise took oil in their
   vessels with their lamps; they kept up the form, but did not rest in
   it; their words in prayer were the language of their hearts, and they
   were no strangers to inward feelings; they were not afraid of searching
   doctrines, nor affronted when ministers told them they deserved to be
   damned; they were not self-righteous, but were willing that Jesus
   Christ should have all the glory of their salvation; they were
   convinced that the merits of Jesus Christ were to be apprehended only
   by faith; but yet were they as careful to maintain good works, as
   though they were to be justified by them: in short, their obedience
   flowed from love and gratitude, and was cheerful, constant, uniform,
   universal, like that obedience which the holy angels pay our Father in
   heaven.

   Here then let me exhort you to pause again; and if any of you can
   faithfully apply these characters to your hearts, give God the glory,
   and take the comfort to your own souls; you are not false but true
   believers. Jesus Christ has been made of God to you wisdom, even that
   wisdom, whereby you shall be made wise unto salvation. God sees a
   difference between you and foolish virgins, if natural men will not.
   You need not be uneasy, though one chance and fate in this may happen
   to you both. I say, once chance and fate; for, ver. 5 "while the
   bridegroom tarried," in the space of time which passed between our
   Lord's ascension and his coming again to judgment, "they all slumbered
   and slept." The wise as well as foolish died, for dust we are, and to
   dust we must return. It is no reflection at all upon the divine
   goodness, that believers, as well as hypocrites, must pass through the
   valley of the shadow of death; for Christ has taken away the sting of
   death, so that we need fear no evil. It is to them a passage to
   everlasting life: death is only terrible to those who have no hope,
   because they live without faith in the world. Whosoever there are
   amongst you, that have received the first-fruits of the spirit, I am
   persuaded you are ready to cry out, we would not live here always, we
   long to be dissolved, that we may be with Jesus Christ; and though
   worms must destroy our bodies as well as others, yet we are content,
   being assured that our Redeemer liveth, that he will stand at the
   latter days upon the earth, and that in our flesh we shall see God.

   But it is not so with hypocrites and unbelievers beyond the grave; for
   what says our Lord? "And at midnight:" observe, at midnight, when all
   was hushed and quiet, and no one dreaming of any such thing, "a cry was
   made;" the voice of the arch-angel and the trump of God was heard
   sounding this general alarm; to things in heaven, to things in earth,
   and to things in the waters under the earth, "Behold!" mark how this
   awful summons is ushered in with the word behold, to engage our
   attention? "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" even Jesus Christ, the
   desire of nations, the bridegroom of his spouse the church: Because he
   tarried for a while to exercise the faith of saints, and give sinners
   space to repent, scoffers were apt to cry out, "Where is the promise of
   his coming? But the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as these
   men account slackness." For behold, he that was to come, now cometh,
   and will not tarry any longer: he cometh to be glorified in his saints,
   and to take vengeance on them that know not God, and have not obeyed
   his gospel: he cometh not as a poor despised Galilean; not be laid in a
   stinking manger; not to be despised and rejected of men; not to be
   blindfolded, spit upon, and buffeted; not to be nailed to an accursed
   tree; he cometh not as the Son of man, but as he really was, the
   eternal Son of the eternal God: He cometh riding on the wings of the
   wind, in the glory of the Father and his holy angels, and to be had in
   everlasting reverence of all that shall be round about him. 'Go ye
   forth to meet him;" arise, ye dead, ye foolish, as well as wise virgin,
   arise and come to judgment. Multitudes, not doubt, that hear this
   awakening cry, would rejoice if the rocks might fall on, and the hills
   cover them from the presence of the Lamb: what would they give, if as
   they lived as beasts, they might now die like the beasts that perish?
   How would they rejoice, if those same excuses which they made on this
   side eternity for not attending on holy ordinances, would serve to keep
   them from appearing before the heavenly bridegroom! But as Adam,
   notwithstanding his fig- leaves, and the trees of the garden, could not
   hide himself from God, when arrested with an "Adam, where art thou?" So
   now the decree is gone forth, and the trump of God has given its last
   sound; all tongues, people, nations, and languages, both wise and
   foolish virgins, must come into his presence, and bow beneath his
   footstool; even Pontius Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas; even the proud
   persecuting high-priests and Pharisees of this generation, must appear
   before him: for says our Lord, "then, (when the cry was made, Behold,
   the bridegroom cometh!) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the
   graves were opened, the sea gave up its dead, and "all those virgins,
   both wise and foolish, arose and trimmed their lamp," or endeavored to
   put themselves in a proper posture to meet the bridegroom.

   But how may we imagine the foolish virgins were surprised, when,
   notwithstanding their high thoughts and proud imaginations of their
   security, they now find themselves wholly naked, and void of that
   inward holiness and purity of heart, without which no man living at
   that day shall comfortably meet the Lord! I doubt not, but may of these
   foolish virgins, whilst in this world, were clothed in purple and fine
   linen, fared sumptuously every day, and disdained [1. To consider
   unworthy of one's regard or notice; treat with contempt or scorn: to
   disdain a coward. 2. To consider unworthy of one's position or
   character; refuse scornfully: to disdain to beg for food. --n. A
   feeling or attitude of superiority and dislike; proud contempt.] to set
   the wise virgins, some of whom might be as poor as Lazarus, even with
   the dogs of their flock. These were looked upon by them as enthusiasts
   and madmen, as persons that were righteous over- much, and who intended
   to turn the world upside down: but now death hath opened their eyes,
   and convinced them, to their eternal sorrow, that he is not a true
   Christian, who is only one outwardly. Now they find (though, alas! too
   late) they, and not the wise virgins, had been beside themselves. Now
   their proud hearts are made to stoop, their lofty looks are brought
   low; and as Dives entreated that Lazarus might dip the tip of his
   finger in water, and be sent to cool his tongue, so these foolish
   virgins, these formal hypocrites, are obliged to turn beggars to those
   whom they once despised: "Give us of your oil;" O! impart to us a
   little of that grace and holy spirit, for the insisting on which we
   fools accounted your lives madness; for alas! "our lamps are gone out;"
   we had only the form of godliness; we were whited sepulchers; we were
   heart-hypocrites; we contented ourselves with desiring to be good; and
   though confident of salvation whilst we lived, yet our hope is entirely
   gone, now God has taken away our souls: Give us therefore, O! give us,
   though we once despised you, give us of your oil, for our lamps of an
   outward profession, and transient convictions, are quite gone out.
   "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith the Lord." My brethren in
   Christ, hear what the foolish say to the wise virgins, and learn in
   patience to possess your souls. If you are true followers of the lowly
   Jesus, I am persuaded you have your names cast out, and all manner of
   evil spoken falsely against you, for his name's sake; for no one ever
   did or will live godly in Christ Jesus, without suffering persecution;
   nay, I doubt not but your chief foes are those of your own household:
   tell me, do not your carnal relations and friends vex your tender souls
   day by day, in bidding you spare yourselves, and take heed lest you go
   too far: And as you passed along to come and hear the word of God, have
   you not heard many a Pharisee cry out, Here comes another troop of his
   followers! Brethren, be not surprised, Christ's servants were always
   the world's fools; you know it hated him before it hated you. Rejoice
   and be exceeding glad. Yet a little while, and behold the bridegroom
   cometh, and then shall you hear these formal scoffing Pharisees saying
   unto you, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." When you
   are reviled, revile not again: when you suffer, threaten not; commit
   your souls into the hands of him that judgeth righteously: for behold
   the day cometh, when the children of God shall speak for themselves.

   The wise virgins, in the parable, no doubt endured the same cruel
   mockings as you may do, but as the lamb before the shearers is dumb, so
   in this life opened they not their mouths; but now we find they can
   give their enemies an answer: "Not so, lest there be not enough for us
   and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."
   These words are not to be understood as though they were spoken in an
   insulting manner; for true charity teaches us to use the worst of
   sinners, and our most bitter enemies, with the meekness and gentleness
   of Christ: Though Dives was in hell, yet Abraham does not say, Thou
   villain, but only, "Son, remember:" and I am persuaded, had it been in
   the power of these wise virgins, they would have dealt with the foolish
   virgins, as God knows, I would willingly deal with my most inveterate
   [firmly established by long continuance] enemies, not only give them of
   their oil, but also exalt them to the right hand of God. It was not
   then for want of love, but the fear of wanting a sufficiency for
   themselves, that made them return this answer, "Not so, lest there be
   not enough for us and you:" For they that have most grace, have none to
   spare; none but self-righteous, foolish virgins think they are good
   enough, or have already attained. Those who are truly wise are always
   most distrustful of themselves, pressing forwards to the things that
   are before, and think it well if after they have done all, they can
   make their calling and election sure. "Not so, lest there be not enough
   for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for
   yourselves." These words indeed seem to be spoken in a triumphant, but
   certainly they were uttered in the most compassionate manner; "go ye to
   them that sell, and buy for yourselves;" unhappy virgins! you accounted
   our lives folly; whilst with you in the body, how often have you
   condemned us for our zeal in running to hear the word of God, and
   looked upon us as enthusiasts, for talking and affirming, that we must
   be led by the spirit, and walk by the spirit, and feel the spirit of
   God witnessing with our spirits, that we are his children? But now you
   would be glad to be partakers of this privilege, but it is not ours to
   give. You contented yourselves with seeking, when you should have been
   striving to enter in at the strait gate. And now go to them that sell,
   if you can, and buy for yourselves.

   And what say you to this, ye foolish formal professors? For I doubt not
   but curiosity and novelty hath brought many such, even to this despised
   place, to hear a sermon. Can you hear this reply to the foolish
   virgins, and yet not tremble? Why, yet a little while, and thus it
   shall be done to you. Rejoice and bolster yourselves up in your duties
   and forms; endeavor to cover your nakedness with the fig-leaves of an
   outward profession and a legal righteousness, and despise the true
   servants of Christ as much as you please, yet know, that all your hopes
   will fail you when God brings you into judgment. For not he who
   commendeth himself is justified, but he whom the Lord commendeth.

   But to return; we do not hear of any reply the foolish virgins make:
   No, their consciences condemned them; like the person without a
   wedding-garment, they are struck dumb, and are now filled with anxious
   thoughts how they shall buy oil, that they may lift up their heads
   before the bridegroom. "But whilst they went to buy," ver. 10, whilst
   they were thinking what they should do, the bridegroom, the Lord Jesus,
   the king, the husband of his spouse the church, cometh, attended with
   thousands and twenty times then thousands of saints and angels,
   publicly to count up his jewels; "and they that were ready," the wise
   virgins who had oil in their lamp, and were sealed by his spirit to the
   day of redemption, these having on the wedding garment of an imputed
   righteousness, and a new nature, "went in with him to the marriage."

   But who can express the transports that these wise virgins felt, when
   they were thus admitted, in holy triumph, into the presence and full
   enjoyment of him, whom their souls hungered and thirsted after! No
   doubt they had tasted of his love, and by faith had often fed on him in
   their hearts, when sitting down to commemorate his last supper here on
   earth; but how full may we think their hearts and tongues were of his
   praises, when they see themselves seated together to eat bread in his
   heavenly kingdom. And what was best of all, "the door was shut, and
   shut them in, to enjoy the ever blessed God, and the company of angels
   and the spirits of just men made perfect, without interruption for
   evermore. I say, without interruption; for in this life, their eyes
   often gushed out with water, because men kept not God's law; and they
   could never come to appear before the Lord, or to hear his word, but
   Satan and his emissaries would come also to disturb them; but now "the
   door is shut," now there is a perfect communion of saints, which they
   in vain longed for in this lower world; not tares no longer grow up
   with the wheat; not one single hypocrite or unbeliever can screen
   himself amongst them. "Now the wicked cease from troubling, and now
   their weary souls enjoy an everlasting rest."

   Once more, O believers, let me exhort you in patience to possess your
   souls. God, if he has freely justified you by faith in his son, and
   given you his spirit, has sealed you to be his; and has secured you, as
   surely as he secured Noah, when he locked him in the ark. But though
   heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and neither men nor devils
   can pluck you our of your heavenly Father's hand, yet you must be
   tossed about with manifold temptations; however, lift up your heads,
   the day of your perfect, complete redemption draweth nigh. Behold the
   bridegroom cometh to take you to himself, the door shall be shut, and
   you shall be for ever with the Lord.

   But I even tremble to tell you, O nominal Christians, that the door
   will be shut, I mean the door of mercy, never, never to be opened to
   give you admission, though you should continue knocking to all
   eternity. For thus speaks our Lord, v. 11. "Afterwards," after those
   that were ready went in, and the door was shut; after they had, to
   their sorrow, found that no oil was to be bought, no grace to be
   procured, "came also the other virgins;" and as Esau, after Jacob had
   gotten the blessing, cried with an exceeding bitter cry, "Bless me,
   even me also, O my father;" so they came saying, "Lord, Lord, open to
   us." Observe the importunity of these foolish virgins, implied in the
   words, "Lord, Lord." Whilst in the body, I suppose they only read, did
   not pray over their prayers. If you now tell them, they should "pray
   without ceasing," they should pray from their hearts, and feel the want
   of what they pray for; they would answer, they could not tell what you
   mean by inward feelings; that God did not require us to be always on
   our knees, but if a man did justly, and loved mercy, and did as the
   church forms required him, it was as much as the Lord required at his
   hands.

   I fear, sirs, too many among us are of this mind: nay, I fear there are
   many so polite, so void of the love of God, as to think it too great a
   piece of self-denial, to rise early to offer up a sacrifice of praise
   and thanksgiving acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. If any such,
   by the good providence of God, are brought hither this morning, I
   beseech you to consider your ways, and remember, if you are not
   awakened out of your spiritual lethargy, and live a life of prayer
   here, you shall but in vain cry out with the foolish virgins, "Lord,
   Lord, open unto us," hereafter. Observe farther, the impudence, as well
   as importunity of these other virgins; "Lord, Lord," say they, as
   though they were intimately acquainted with the holy Jesus. Like
   numbers among us, who because they go to church, repeat their creeds,
   and receive the blessed sacrament, think they have a right to call
   Jesus their Savior, and dare call God their Father, when they put up
   the Lord's prayer. But Jesus is not your Savior. The devil, not God, is
   your father, unless your hearts are purified by faith, and you are born
   again from above. It is not merely being baptized by water, but being
   born again of the Holy Ghost that must qualify you for salvation; and
   it will do you no service at the great day, to say unto Christ, Lord,
   my name is in the register of such and such a parish. I am persuaded,
   the foolish virgins could say this and more; but what answer did Jesus
   make? He answered and said, ver. 12, "Verily, I say unto you:" He puts
   the verily, to assure them he was in earnest. "I say unto you," I who
   am truth itself, I whom you have owned in words, but in works denied,
   "verily, I say unto you, I know you not." These words must not be
   understood literally; for whatever Arians and Socinians may say to the
   contrary, yet we affirm, that Jesus Christ is God, God blessed for
   ever, and therefore knoweth all things. He saw Nathaniel, when under
   the fig-tree: he sees, and is not looking down from heaven his
   dwelling-place, upon us, to see how we behave in these fields.
   Brethren, I know nothing of the thoughts and intents of your hearts, in
   coming hither; but Jesus Christ knows who came like new-born babes,
   desirous to be fed with the sincere milk of the word; and he knows who
   came to hear what the babbler says, and to run away with part of a
   broken sentence, that they may have whereof to accuse him. This
   expression then, "I know you not," must not be understood literally;
   no, it implies a knowledge of approbation, as though Christ has said,
   "You call me, Lord, Lord, but you have not done the things that I have
   said; you desire me to open the door, but how can you come in hither
   not having on a wedding garment? Alas, you are naked! Where is my
   outward righteousness imputed to you? Where is my divine image stamped
   upon your souls? How dare you call me Lord, Lord, when you have not
   received the Holy Ghost, whereby I seal all that are truly mine?
   "Verily, I know you not; depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
   fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

   And now, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear what manner of persons
   these were, whom Jesus Christ dismissed with this answer. Remember, I
   entreat you, remember they are not sent away for being fornicators,
   swearers, Sabbath-breakers, or prodigals. No, in all probability, as I
   observed before, they were, touching the outward observance of the
   moral law, blameless; they were constant as to the form of religion;
   and if they did no good, yet no one could say, they did any one any
   harm. The only thing for which they were condemned, and eternally
   banished from the presence of the Lord, (for so much is implied in "I
   know you not") was this, they had no oil in their lamps, no principle
   of a true living faith and holiness in their hearts. And if persons may
   go to church, receive the sacrament, lead honest moral lives, and yet
   be sent to hell at the last day, as they certainly will be if they
   advance no farther, Where wilt thou, O drunkard? Where wilt thou, O
   swearer? Where wilt thou, O Sabbath-breaker? Where wilt thou that
   deniest divine revelation, and even the form of godliness? Where wilt
   you, and such like sinners appear? I know very well. You must appear
   before the dreadful tribunal of Jesus Christ; however you may, like
   Felix, put off the prosecution of your convictions, yet you, as well as
   others, must arise after death, and appear in judgment; you will then
   find, to your eternal sorrow, what I just hinted at in the beginning of
   this discourse, that your damnation slumbereth not: sin has blinded
   your hearts, and hardened your foreheads now, but yet a little while,
   and our Lord will ease him of his adversaries. Methinks, by faith, I
   see the heavens opened, and the holy Jesus coming, with his face
   brighter than ten thousand suns, darting fury upon you from his eyes!
   Methinks I see you rising from your graves, trembling and astonished,
   and crying out, who can abide this day of his coming!

   And now what inference shall I draw from what has been delivered? Our
   Lord, in the words of the text, has drawn one for me; "Watch therefore,
   for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man
   cometh."

   "Watch," that is, be upon your guard, and keep your graces in continual
   exercise. For as when we are commanded to watch unto prayer, it
   signifies that we should continue instant in that duty; so when we are
   required to watch in general, it means that we should put on the whole
   armor of God, and live every day as though it was our last. And O that
   the Lord may now enable me to lift up my voice like a trumpet! For had
   I a thousand tongues, or could I speak so loud that the whole world
   might hear me, I could not sound a more useful alarm than that which is
   contained in the text. Watch therefore, my brethren, I beseech you by
   the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, watch; be upon your guard; awake,
   ye that sleep in the dust: for ye know neither the day nor the hour
   wherein the Son of man cometh. Perhaps today, perhaps this midnight,
   the cry may be made: "for in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the
   trump is to sound." However, supposing the final day of judgment may
   yet be a great way off, the day of death is certainly near at hand: for
   what is our life? "It is but a vapor," but a span long, soon passeth it
   away, and we are gone. Blessed be God, we are all here well; but who,
   out of this great multitude, dares say, I shall go home to my house in
   safety? Who knows, but whilst I am speaking, God may commission his
   ministering spirits immediately to call some of you away by a sudden
   stroke, to give an account with what attention you have heard this
   sermon. You know, my brethren, some such instances we have lately had.
   And what angel or spirit hath assured us, that some of you shall not be
   the next? "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour
   wherein the Son of man will come;" And it is chiefly for this reason,
   that God has hidden the day of our deaths from us. For since I know not
   but I may die to morrow, why, O my soul, may each of us say, wilt thou
   not watch to day? Since I know not but I may die the next moment, why
   wilt thou not prepare for dying this? Many such reflections as these,
   my brethren, crowd in upon my mind. At present, blessed be the Lord,
   who delights to magnify his strength in a poor worm's weakness, I am at
   a stand, not so much about what I shall say, as what I shall leave
   unsaid. My belly, like Elihu's, is, as it were, full of new wines; "out
   of the abundance of my heart my mouth speaketh." The seeing so great a
   multitude standing before me; a sense of the infinite majesty of that
   God in whose name I preach, and before whom I as well as you must
   appear, to give an account, and the uncertainty there is whether I
   shall live another day, to speak to you any more: these considerations,
   especially the presence of God, which I feel upon my soul, furnishes me
   with so much matter, that I scarce know where to begin, or where to end
   my application. However, for method-sake, by the divine assistance, I
   will branch it into three particulars.

   And First, I would remind you that are notoriously ungodly, of what our
   Lord says in the text: For though I have said that your damnation
   slumbereth no, whilst you continue in an impenitent state; yet that was
   only to set you upon your watch, to convince you of your danger, and
   excite you to cry out, "What shall we do to be saved?" I appeal to all
   that hear me, whether I have said, the door of mercy should be shut
   against you, if you believe on Jesus Christ: No, if you are the chief
   of sinners; if you are murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers;
   if you are emphatically the dung and offscouring of all things; yet if
   you believe on Jesus Christ, and cry unto him with the same faith as
   the expiring thief, "Lord, remember me, now thou art in thy kingdom;" I
   will pawn my eternal salvation upon it, if he does not shortly
   translate you to his heavenly paradise. Wonder not at my speaking with
   so much assurance: For I know "it is a faithful and true saying, and
   worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to
   save (all truly affected and believing) sinners: Nay, so great is his
   love, that I am persuaded, was it necessary, he would come again into
   the world, and die a second time for them on the cross. But, blessed be
   God, when our Lord bowed down his head, and gave up the ghost, our
   redemption was finished. It is not our sins, but our want of a lively
   faith in his blood, that will prove our condemnation: if you draw near
   to him by faith, though ye are the worst of sinners, yet he will not
   say unto you, "Verily I know you not." No, a door of mercy shall be
   opened to you. Look then, look then, by an eye of faith, to that
   God-man whom ye have pierced. Behold him bleeding, panting, dying upon
   the cross, with arms stretched out ready to embrace you all. Hark! How
   he groans! See how all nature is in agony! The rocks rend, the graves
   open; the sun withdraws its light, ashamed as it were to see the God of
   nature suffer; and all this to usher in man's great redemption. Nay,
   the Holy Jesus, in the very agonies and pangs of death, prays for his
   very murderers; "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
   If then you have crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him to an
   open shame, yet do not despair, only believe, and even this shall be
   forgiven. You have read, at least you have heard, no doubt, how three
   thousand were converted at St. Peter's preaching one single sermon,
   after our Lord's ascension into heaven; and many of those who crucified
   the Lord of glory undoubtedly were amongst them, and why should you
   despair? For "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever."
   The Holy Ghost shall be sent down on you, as well as on them, if you do
   but believe; for Christ ascended up on high to receive this gift even
   for the vilest of men. Come then, all ye that are weary and heavy laden
   with the sense of your sins, lay hold on Christ by faith, and he will
   give you rest; for salvation is the free gift of God to all them that
   believe. And though you may think this too good news to be true, yet I
   speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, this is the gospel, this is the
   glad tidings which we are commissioned to preach to every creature. Be
   not faithless then, but believing. Let not the devil lead you captive
   at his will any longer; for all the wages he gives his servants is
   death, death often in this life, death everlasting in the next: But the
   free gift of God, is eternal life to all that believe in Jesus Christ.
   Pharisees are and will be offended at my coming here, and offering you
   salvation on such cheap terms; but the more they bid me hold my peace,
   the more will I cry out and proclaim to convicted sinners, that Jesus,
   David's Son according to the flesh, but David's Lord as he was God,
   will have mercy upon all that by a living faith truly turn to him. If
   this is to be vile, I pray God, I may be more vile. If they will not
   let me preach Christ crucified, and offer salvation to poor sinners in
   a church, I will preach him in the lanes, streets, highways and hedges;
   and nothing pleases me better, than to think I am now in one of the
   devil's strongest holds. Surely, the Lord has not sent me and all you
   hither for nothing; no, blessed be God, the fields are white ready unto
   harvest, and many souls I hope will be gathered into his heavenly
   garner. It is true, it is the midnight of the church, especially the
   poor church of England, but God has lately sent forth his servants to
   cry, "Behold the bridegroom cometh:" I beseech you, O sinners, hearken
   unto the voice! Let me espouse you by faith to my dear master; and
   henceforward "watch and pray," that you may be ready to go forth to
   meet him.

   Secondly, I would apply myself to those amongst you, that are not
   openly profane, but by depending on a formal round of duties, deceive
   your own souls, and are only foolish virgins. But I must speak to your
   conviction, rather than your comfort. My dear brethren, do not deceive
   your own souls. You have heard how far the foolish virgins went, and
   yet were answered with "Verily I know you not." The reason is, because
   none but such who have a living faith in Jesus Christ, and are truly
   born again, can possibly enter into the kingdom of heaven. You may,
   perhaps, live honest and outwardly moral lives, but if you depend on
   that morality, or join your works with your faith, in order to justify
   you before God, you have no lot or share in Christ's redemption: For
   what is this but to deny the Lord that has bought you? What is this but
   making yourselves your own Saviors? Taking the crown from Jesus Christ,
   and putting it on your own heads? The crime of the devil, some have
   supposed, consisted in this, that he would not bow to Jesus Christ,
   when the Father commanded all the angels to worship him; and what do
   you less? You will not own and submit to his righteousness; and though
   you pretend to worship him with your lips, yet your hearts are far from
   him; besides you, in effect, deny the operations of his blessed spirit,
   you mistake common for effectual grace; you hope to be saved, because
   you have good desires, and a few short convictions; and what is this,
   but to give God, his word, and all his saints, the lie? A Jew, a Turk,
   has equally as good grounds whereon to build his hopes of salvation.
   Need I not then to cry out to you, ye foolish virgins, watch. Beg of
   God to convince you of your self-righteousness, and the secret unbelief
   of your hearts; or otherwise, whensoever the cry shall be made, "Behold
   the bridegroom cometh," you will find yourselves utterly unprepared to
   go forth to meet him: You may cry "Lord, Lord;" but the answer will be,
   "Verily, I know you not."

   Thirdly, I would speak a word or two by way of exhortation to those who
   are wise virgins, and are assured that they have on a wedding garment.
   That there are many such amongst you, who by grace have renounced your
   own righteousness, and know that the righteousness of the Lord Jesus is
   imputed to you, I make no doubts. God has his secret ones in the worst
   of times; and I am persuaded he has not let so loud a gospel cry to be
   made amongst his people, as of late has been heard, for nothing. No, I
   am confident, the Holy Ghost has been given to many at the preaching of
   faith, and has powerfully fallen upon many, whilst they have been
   hearing the word. You are now then no longer foolish, but wise virgins;
   notwithstanding, I beseech you also to suffer the word of exhortation,
   for wise virgins are too apt, whilst the bridegroom tarries, to slumber
   and sleep. Watch therefore, my dear brethren, watch and pray, at this
   time especially; for perhaps a time of suffering is at hand. The ark of
   the Lord begins already to be driven into the wilderness. Be ye
   therefore upon your watch, and still persevere in following your Lord,
   even without the camp, bearing his reproach; the cry that has been
   lately made, has awakened the devil and his servants; they begin to
   rage horribly; and well they may; for I hope their kingdom is in
   danger. Watch therefore, for if we are not always upon our guard, a
   time of trial may overtake us unawares; and instead of owning, like
   Peter we may be tempted to deny our master. Set death and eternity
   often before you. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your
   faith, and consider how little a while it will be, ere he comes to
   judgment; and then our reproach shall be wiped away; the accusers of us
   and our brethren shall be cast down, and we all shall be lodged in
   heaven for ever, with our dear Lord Jesus.

   Lastly, what I say unto you, I say unto all, watch; high and low, rich
   and poor, young and old, one with another, I beseech you, by the
   mercies of Jesus, to be upon your guard: fly, fly to Jesus Christ, that
   heavenly bridegroom; behold he desires to take you to himself,
   miserable, poor, blind and naked as you are; he is willing to clothe
   you with his everlasting righteousness, and make you partakers of that
   glory, which he enjoyed with the Father before the world began. Do not
   turn a deaf ear to me; do not reject the message on account of the
   meanness of the messenger. I am a child; but the Lord has chosen me,
   that the glory might be all his own. Had he sent to invite you by a
   learned rabbi, you might have been tempted to think the man had done
   something; but now God has sent a child, that the excellency of the
   power may be seen not to be of man, but of God. Let the learned
   Pharisees then despise my youth: I care not how vile I appear in the
   sight of such men; I glory in it. And I am persuaded, if any of you
   should be married to Christ by this preaching, you will have no reason
   to repent, when you come to heaven, that God sent a child to cry,
   "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" O! my brethren, the thought of being
   instrumental in bringing one of you to glory, fills me with fresh zeal.
   Once more I entreat you, "Watch, watch and pray:" For the Lord Jesus
   will receive all that call upon him faithfully. Let that cry, "Behold
   the bridegroom cometh," be continually sounding in your ears; and begin
   now to live, as though you were assured, this night you were to "go
   forth to meet him." I could say more, but the other business and duties
   of the day oblige me o stop. May the Lord give you all an hearing ear,
   and obedient heart, and so closely unite you to himself by one spirit,
   that when he shall come in terrible majesty, to judge mankind, you may
   be found having on a wedding garment, and ready to go in with him to
   the marriage.

   Grant this, O Lord, for thy dear Son's sake!
     __________________________________________________________________

                        "The Eternity of Hell-Torments"

   Matthew 25:46 -- "These shall go away into everlasting punishment.

    To the Inhabitants of Savannah in Georgia.

   My dear Friends,

   Though the following sermon has been preached elsewhere, yet as the
   occasion of my preaching it among you was particular, as you seemed to
   give an uncommon attention to it in public, and afterwards expressed
   your satisfaction in it to me, when I came to visit you in your own
   houses, I thought proper to offer it to you.

   And here I cannot but bless God for the general dislike of heretical
   principles that I have found among you; as also for your zeal and
   approbation of my conduct, when the glory of God and your welfare, have
   obliged me to resent and publicly declare against the antichristian
   tenets of some lately under my charge.

   I need only exhort you to beg of God to give you a true faith, and to
   add to your faith virtue, that you may adorn the gospel of our Lord
   Jesus Christ in all things.

   Your constant daily attendance upon public worship, the gladness
   wherewith you have received me into your houses, the mildness wherewith
   you have submitted to my reproofs, more especially the great (though
   unmerited) concern you showed at my departure, induce me to hope this
   will be your endeavor.

   How long God of his good providence will keep me from you, I know not.
   However, you may assure yourselves I will return according to my
   promise, as soon as I have received imposition of hands, and completed
   the other business that called me hither.

   In the mean while, accept of this, as a pledge of the undissembled love
   of

   Your affectionate though unworthy pastor,

  George Whitefield
  London, 1738

   The excellency of the gospel dispensation, is greatly evidenced by
   those sanctions of rewards and punishments, which it offers to the
   choice of all its hearers, in order to engage them to be obedient to
   its precepts. For it promises no less than eternal happiness to the
   good, and denounces no slighter a punishment than everlasting misery
   against the wicked: On the one hand, It is a favor of life unto life,"
   on the other, "A favor of death unto death." And though one would
   imagine, the bare mentioning of the former would be sufficient to draw
   men to their duty, yet ministers in all ages have found it necessary,
   frequently to remind their people of the latter, and to set before them
   the terrors of the Lord, as so many powerful dissuasives from sin.

   But whence is it that men are so disingenuous [insincere, deceitful]?
   The reason seems to be this: The promise of eternal happiness is so
   agreeable to the inclinations and wishes of mankind, that all who call
   themselves christians, universally and willingly subscribe to the
   belief of it: but then there is something so shocking in the
   consideration of eternal torments, and seemingly such an infinite
   disproportion between an endless duration of pain, and short life spent
   in pleasure, that men (some at least of them) can scarcely be brought
   to confess it as an article of their faith, that an eternity of misery
   awaits the wicked in a future state.

   I shall therefore at this time, beg leave to insist on the proof of
   this part of one of the Articles of our Creed; and endeavor to make
   good what our blessed Lord has here threatened in the words of the
   text, "These (that is, the wicked) shall go away into everlasting
   punishment."

   Accordingly, without considering the words as they stand in relation to
   the context; I shall resolve all I have to say, into this one general
   proposition, "That the torments reserved for the wicked hereafter, are
   eternal."

   But before I proceed to make good this, I must inform you that I take
   it for granted,

   All present do steadfastly believe, They have something within them,
   which we call a soul, and which is capable of surviving the dissolution
   of the body, and of being miserable or happy to all eternity.

   I take it for granted farther, That you believe a divine revelation;
   that those books, emphatically called the Scriptures, were written by
   the inspiration of God, and that the things therein contained, are
   founded upon eternal truth.

   I take it for granted, That you believe, that the Son of God came down
   to die for sinners; and that there is but one Mediator between God and
   man, even the man Christ Jesus.

   These things being granted, (and they were necessary to be premised)
   proceed we now to make good the one general proposition asserted in the
   text, That the torments reserved for the wicked hereafter are eternal.
   "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." The

   First argument I shall advance to prove that the torments reserved for
   the wicked hereafter, are eternal, is, That the word of God himself
   assures us, in line upon line, that it will be so.

   To quote all the texts that might be produced in proof of this, would
   be endless. Let it suffice to instance only in a few. In the Old
   Testament, in the book of Daniel, chap. 12, ver. 2 we are told, that
   "some shall wake to everlasting life, and others to everlasting
   contempt." In the book of Isaiah, it is said, that "the worm of those
   that have transgressed God's law, and die impenitently, shall not die,
   nor their fire be quenched." And in another place the holy Prophet ,
   struck, no doubt, with astonishment and horror at the prospect of the
   continuance of the torments of the damned, breaks out into this moving
   expostulation, "Who can dwell with everlasting burnings?"

   The New Testament is still fuller as to this point, it being a
   revelation which brought this and such-like particulars to a clear
   light. The Apostle Jude tells us of the profane despisers of dignities
   in his days, that "for them was reserved the blackness of darkness
   forever." And in the book of the Revelation, it is written, that "the
   smoke of the torments of the wicked ascendeth for ever and ever." And
   if we believe the witness of men inspired, the witness of the Son of
   God, who had the Spirit given him, as Mediator, without measure, is
   still far greater: and in St. Mark's gospel, He repeats this solemn
   declaration three several times, It is better for thee to enter into
   life maimed;" that is, it is better to forego the gratification of thy
   lust, or incur the displeasure of a friend, which may be as dear to
   thee as a hand, or as useful as a foot, "than having two hands and
   feet, (that is, for indulging the one, or disobeying God to oblige the
   other) to be cast into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is
   not quenched."

   And here again, in the words of the text, "These (the wicked) shall go
   away into everlasting punishment."

   I know it has been objected by some who have denied the eternity of
   hell-torments, That the words everlasting and ever and ever, are often
   used in the Holy Scriptures (especially in the Old Testament) when they
   signify not an endless duration, but a limited term of time.

   And this we readily grant: but then we reply, That when the words are
   used with this limitation, they either manifestly appear to be used so
   from the context; or are put in opposition to occasional types which
   God gave his people on some special occasions, as when it is said, "It
   shall be a perpetual or everlasting statute," or, "a statute for ever;"
   that is, a standing type, and not merely transient or occasional, as
   was the pillar of cloud, the manna, and such-like. Or, lastly, they
   have a relation to that covenant, God made with his spiritual Israel;
   which, if understood in a spiritual sense, will be everlasting, though
   the ceremonial dispensation be abolished.

   Besides, it ought to be observed, that some of the passages just now
   referred to, have neither of these words so much as mentioned in them,
   and cannot possibly be interpreted, so as to denote only a limited term
   of years.

   But let that be as it will, it is evident even to a demonstration, that
   the words of the text will not admit of such a restrained
   signification, as appears from their being directly opposed to the
   words immediately following, "That the righteous shall go into life
   eternal." From which words, all are ready to grant, that the life
   promised to the righteous will be eternal. And why the punishment
   threatened to the wicked should not be understood to be eternal
   likewise, when the very same word in the original, is used to express
   the duration of each, no shadow of a reason can be given.

   But, Secondly, There cannot be one argument urged, why God should
   reward his saints with everlasting happiness, which will not equally
   prove that he ought to punish sinners with eternal misery.

   For, since we know nothing (at least for a certainty) how he will deal
   with either but by a Diving Revelation; and since, as was proved by the
   foregoing argument, he hath as positively threatened eternally to
   punish the wicked, as to reward the good; it follows, that his truth
   will be as much impeached and called in question, did he not inflict
   his punishments, as it would be, if he did not confer his rewards.

   To this also it has been objected, That though God is obliged by
   promise to give his rewards, yet his veracity could not be called in
   question, supposing he should not execute his threatenings, as he
   actually did not in the case of Nineveh; which God expressly declared
   by his Prophet Jonah, "should be destroyed in forty days:"
   notwithstanding the sequel of the story informs us, that Nineveh was
   spared.

   But in answer to this objection we affirm, that God's threatenings, as
   well as promises, are without repentance; and for this reason, because
   they are both founded on the eternal laws of right reason. Accordingly
   we always find, that where the conditions were not performed, on the
   non-performance of which the threatenings were denounced, God always
   executed the punishment threatened. The driving Adam out of Eden, the
   destruction of the old world by a deluge of water, and the overthrow of
   Sodom and Gomorrah, are, and will be always so many standing monuments
   of God's executing his threatenings when denounced, though to our weak
   apprehensions, the punishment may seem far to exceed the crime.

   It is true, God did spare Nineveh, and that because the inhabitants did
   actually repent, and therefore performed the conditions upon which it
   was supposed, by the Prophet's being sent to warn them, the threatened
   punishment should be withheld.

   And so in respect to gospel threatenings. If men will so far consult
   their own welfare, as to comply with the gospel, God certainly will not
   punish them, but on the contrary, confer upon them his rewards. But to
   affirm that he will not punish, and that eternally to, impenitent,
   obstinate sinners, according as he hath threatened; what is it, in
   effect, but to make God like a man, that he should lie, or the son of
   man, that he should repent?

   But the absurdity of such an opinion will appear still more evident
   from

   The Third argument I shall offer to prove, that the torments reserved
   for the wicked hereafter are eternal, From the nature of the christian
   covenant.

   And here I must again observe, that it was taken for granted at the
   beginning of this discourse, that you believe the Son of God came down
   to save sinners; and that there is but one Mediator between God and
   men, even the Man Christ Jesus.

   And here I take it for granted farther, (unless you believe the absurd
   and unwarrantable doctrine of purgatory) that you are fully persuaded,
   this life is the only time allotted by Almighty God for working out our
   salvation, and that after a few years are passed over, there will
   remain no more sacrifice for sin.

   And if this be granted (and who dares deny it?) it follows, that if the
   wicked man dieth in his wickedness, and under the wrath of God, he must
   continue in that state to all eternity. For, since there is no
   possibility of their being delivered out of such a condition, but by
   and through Christ; and since, at the hour of death, the time of
   Christ's mediation and intercession for him is irrecoverably gone; the
   same reason that may be given, why God should punish a sinner that
   dieth under the guilt of his sins for a single day, will equally hold
   good, why he should continue to punish him for a year, an age, nay all
   eternity.

   But I hasten to the Fourth and last argument, to prove, That the
   torments reserved for the wicked hereafter are eternal, Because the
   devil's punishment is to be so.

   That there is such a being whom we call the devil; that he was once an
   angel of light, but for his pride and rebellion against God, was cast
   down from heaven, and is now permitted, with the rest of the spiritual
   wickednesses, to walk to and fro, seeking whom they may devour; that
   there is a place of torment reserved for them, or, to use the Apostle's
   words, "That they are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness
   unto the judgment of the great day;" are truths all here present were
   supposed to be convinced of, at the beginning of the discourse, you
   believing the Holy Scriptures to be written by the inspiration of God,
   wherein these truths are delivered.

   But then if we allow all this, and think it no injustice in God to
   punish those once glorious spirits for their rebellion; how can we
   think it unjust in him, to punish wicked men for their impenitency to
   all eternity?

   You will say, perhaps, that they have sinned against greater light, and
   therefore deserve a greater punishment. And so we grant that the
   punishment of the fallen angels may be greater as to degree, than that
   of wicked men; but then we affirm, it will be equal as to the eternal
   duration of it: for in that day, as the lively oracles of God inform
   us, shall the Son of Man say to them on his left hand, "Depart from me,
   ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
   angels." Where we find that impenitent sinners are to be cast into the
   same everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels; and that too very
   justly. For though they may have sinned against greater light, yet
   christians sin against greater mercy. Since Christ took not hold of,
   did not die for, the fallen angels, but for men and for our salvation.
   So that if God spared not those excellent beings, assure thyself, O
   obstinate sinner, whoever thou art, he will by no means spare thee.

   From what then has been said it plainly appears, that verily the
   torments reserved for the wicked hereafter, war eternal. And if so,
   brethren, how ought we to fly to Jesus Christ for refuge; how holy
   ought we to be in all manner of conversation and godliness, that we may
   be accounted worthy to escape this wrath to come!

   But before I proceed to a practical exhortation, permit me to draw an
   inference or two from what has been said.

   And First, If the torments reserved for the wicked hereafter are
   eternal, what shall we say to those, who make an open profession in
   their creed to believe a life everlasting, a life of misery as well as
   happiness, and yet dare to live in the actual commission of those sins
   which will unavoidably, without repentance, bring them into that place
   of torment? Thou believest that the punishments of the impenitently
   wicked in another life, are eternal: "Thou dost well, the devils also
   believe and tremble." But know O vain man, unless this belief doth
   influence thy practice, and makes thee bid adieu to thy sins, every
   time thou repeatest thy creed, thou doest in effect say, I believe I
   shall be undone for ever.

   But, Secondly, If the torments reserved for the wicked hereafter are
   eternal, then let this serve as a caution to such persons, (and it is
   to be feared there are some such) who go about to dissuade others from
   the belief of such an important truth: There being no surer way, in all
   probability, to encourage and promote infidelity and profaneness, than
   the broaching or maintaining so unwarrantable a doctrine. For if the
   positive threats of God concerning the eternity of hell-torments, are
   already found insufficient to deter men from sin, what a higher pitch
   of wickedness may w imagine they will quickly arrive at, when they are
   taught to entertain any hopes of a future recovery out of them; or,
   what is still worse, that their souls are hereafter to be annihilated,
   and become like the beasts that perish? But woe unto such blind leaders
   of the blind. No wonder if they both fall into that ditch. And let such
   corrupters of God's word know, that I testify unto every man that
   heareth me this day, "That if any one shall add unto, or take away from
   the words that are written in the book of God, God shall take his part
   out of the book of life, an shall add unto him all the plagues that are
   in that book."

   Thirdly and Lastly, If the torments reserved for the wicked hereafter
   are eternal, then this may serve as a reproof for those who quarrel
   with God, and say it is inconsistent with his justice, to punish a
   person to all eternity, only for enjoying the pleasures of sin for a
   season. But such persons must be told, that it is not their thinking or
   calling God unjust, will make him so, no more than a condemned
   prisoner's saying the law or judge is unjust, will render either duly
   chargeable with such an imputation. But knowest thou, O worm, what
   blasphemy thou are guilty of, in charging God with injustice? "Shall
   the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me
   thus?" Wilt thou presume to arraign the Almighty at the bar of thy
   shallow reasoning? And call him unjust, for punishing thee eternally,
   only because thou wishest it may not be so? But hath God said it, and
   shall he not do it? He hath said it: and let God be true, though every
   man be a liar. "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?"
   Assuredly he will. And if sinners will not own his justice in his
   threatenings here, they will be compelled ere long to own and feel
   them, when tormented by him hereafter.

   But to come to a more practical application of what has been delivered.

   You have heard, brethren, the eternity of hell-torments plainly proved,
   from the express declarations of holy scriptures, and consequences
   naturally drawn from them. And now there seems to need no great art of
   rhetoric to persuade any understanding person to avoid and abhor those
   sins, which without repentance will certainly plunge him into this
   eternal gulf. The disproportion between the pleasure and the pain (if
   there be any pleasure in sin) is so infinitely great, that supposing it
   was only possible, though not certain, that the wicked would be
   everlastingly punished, no one that has the reason of a man, for the
   enjoying a little momentary pleasure, would, one might imagine, run the
   hazard of enduring eternal pain. But since the torments of the damned
   are not only possible, but certain (since God himself, who cannot lie,
   has told us so) for men, notwithstanding, to persist in their
   disobedience, and then flatter themselves, that God will not make good
   his threatenings, is a most egregious [gross, excessive] instance of
   folly and presumption.

   Dives himself supposed, that if one rose from the dead, his brethren
   would amend their lives, but Christians, it seems, will not repent,
   though the Son of God died and rose again, and told them what they must
   expect, if they continue obstinate in evil-doing.

   Would we now and then draw off our thoughts from sensible objects, and
   by faith meditate a while on the miseries of the damned, I doubt not
   but we should, as it were, hear many an unhappy soul venting his
   fruitless sorrows, in some such piteous moans as these.

   "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of
   death!" O foolish mortal that I was, thus to bring myself into these
   never- ceasing tortures, for the transitory enjoyment of a few
   short-lived pleasures, which scarcely afforded me any satisfaction,
   even when I most indulged myself in them. Alas! Are these the wages,
   these the effects of sin? O damned apostate! First to delude me with
   pretended promises of happiness, and after several years drudgery in
   his service, thus to involve me in eternal woe. O that I had never
   hearkened to his beguiling insinuations! O that I had rejected his very
   first suggestions with the utmost detestation and abhorrence! O that I
   had taken up my cross and followed Christ! O that I had never ridiculed
   serious godliness; and out of a false politeness, condemned the truly
   pious as too severe, enthusiastic, or superstitious! For I then had
   been happy indeed, happy beyond expression, happy to all eternity,
   yonder in those blessed regions where they fit, clothed with
   unspeakable glory, and chanting forth their seraphic hallelujahs to the
   Lamb that sitteth upon the throne for ever. But, alas! These
   reflections come now too late; these wishes now are vain and fruitless.
   I have not suffered, and therefore must not reign with them. I have in
   effect denied the Lord that bought me, and therefore justly am I now
   denied by him. But must I live for ever tormented in these flames? Must
   this body of mine, which not long since lay in state, was clothed in
   purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, must it be here
   eternally confined, and made the mockery of insulting devils? O
   eternity! That thought fills me with despair: I must be miserable for
   ever."

   Come then, all ye self-deluding, self-deluded sinners, and imagine
   yourselves for once in the place of that truly wretched man I have been
   here describing. Think, I beseech you by the mercies of God in Christ
   Jesus, think with yourselves, how racking, how unsupportable the never-
   dying worm of a self-condemning conscience will hereafter be to you.
   Think how impossible it will be for you to dwell with everlasting
   burnings.

   Come, all ye christians of a lukewarm, Laodicean spirit, ye Gallie's in
   religion, who care a little, but not enough for the things of God; O
   think, think with yourselves, how deplorable it will be to lose the
   enjoyment of heaven, and run into endless torments, merely because you
   will be content to be almost, and will not strive to be altogether
   christians. Consider, I beseech you consider, how you will rave and
   curse that fatal stupidity which made you believe any thing less than
   true faith in Jesus, productive of a life of strict piety, self-denial,
   and mortification, can keep you from those torments, the eternity of
   which I have been endeavoring to prove.

   But I can no more. These thoughts are too melancholy for me to dwell
   on, as well as for you to hear; and God knows, as punishing is his
   strange work, so denouncing his threatenings is mine. But if the bare
   mentioning the torments of the damned is so shocking, how terrible must
   the enduring of them be!

   And now, are not some of you ready to cry out, "These are hard sayings,
   who can bear them?"

   But let not sincere christians be in the least terrified at what has
   been delivered: No, for you is reserved a crown, a kingdom, an eternal
   and exceeding weight of glory. Christ never said that the righteous,
   the believing, the upright, the sincere, but the wicked, merciless,
   negatively good professors before described, shall go into everlasting
   punishment. For you, who love him in sincerity, a new and living way is
   laid open into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus Christ: and an
   abundant entrance will be administered unto you, at the great day of
   account, into eternal life. Take heed, therefore, and beware that there
   be not in any of you a root of bitterness springing up of unbelief: but
   on the contrary, steadfastly and heartily rely on the many precious
   promises reached out to you in the gospel, knowing that he who hath
   promised is faithful, and therefore will perform.

   But let no obstinately wicked professors dare to apply any of the
   divine promises to themselves: "For it is not meet to take the
   children's meat and give it unto dogs:" No, to such the terrors of the
   Lord only belong. And as certainly as Christ will say to his true
   followers, "Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom
   prepared for you from the beginning of the world;" so he will
   unalterably pronounce this dreadful sentence against all that die in
   their sins, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared
   for the devil and his angels."

   From which unhappy state, may God of his infinite mercy deliver us all
   through Jesus Christ; to whom, with thee O Father, and thee O Holy
   Ghost, three Persons and one eternal God, be ascribed, as is most due,
   all honor, power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for ever more.
     __________________________________________________________________

                                Blind Bartimeus

   Mark 10:52 -- "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made
   thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus
   in the way."

   When the apostle Peter was recommending Jesus of Nazareth, in one of
   his sermons to the Jews, he gave him a short, but withal a glorious and
   exalted character, "That we went about doing good." He went about, he
   sought occasions of doing good; it was his meat and drink to do the
   works of him that sent him, whilst the day of his public administration
   lasted. Justly was he stiled by the prophet, the sun of righteousness.
   For, as the sun in the natural firmament diffuses his quickening and
   reviving beams through the universe, so, wherever this sun of
   righteousness, the blessed Jesus arose, he arose with healing under his
   wings. He was indeed a prophet like unto Moses, and proved that he was
   the Messiah which was to come into the world, by the miracles which he
   wrought; though with this material difference, the miracles of Moses,
   agreeable to the Old Testament dispensation, were miracles of judgment;
   the miracles of Jesus, who came to bear our sicknesses and heal our
   infirmities, were miracles of mercy, and were wrought, not only for the
   cure of people's bodies, but also for the conversion of their precious
   and immortal souls. Sometimes, one and the same person was the subject
   of both these mercies. A glorious proof of this, we have in the
   miraculous cure wrought upon a poor blind beggar, named Bartimeus, who
   is to be the subject of the following discourse, and to whom the words
   of the text refer. "Jesus said unto him, Go thy way, thy faith hath
   made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed
   Jesus in the way."

   My design is, First, to make some observations on the matter of fact,
   as recorded by the evangelists. And then,

   Secondly, To point out the improvement that may be made thereof. May
   Jesus so bless this following discourse, that every spiritually blind
   hearer may receive his sight, and, after the example of Bartimeus,
   "follow Jesus in the way!"

   If we would take a view of the whole story, we must go back to the 46th
   verse of this chapter, "And they (our Lord and his disciples, who, we
   find by the context, had been conversing together) came to Jericho," a
   place devoted by Joshua to the curse of God; and yet, even this place
   yields converts to Jesus; Zaccheus had been called there formerly; and
   Bartimeus, as we shall hear by-and-by, in all probability, was called
   now. For some good may come even out of Nazareth. Christ himself was
   born there, and his sovereign grace can reach and overcome the worst of
   people, in the very worst of places. Jesus came to Jericho. Let not his
   ministers, if providence points out their way, shun going to seemingly
   the most unlikely places to do good, some chosen vessels may be
   therein. Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. They were itinerants;
   and, as I have frequently observed, seldom stayed long in a place; not
   that this is any argument against the stated settlement of particular
   pastors over particular parishes. But however, our Lord's practice, in
   this respect, gives a kind of a sanction to itinerant preaching, when
   persons are properly called to, and qualified for, such an employ. And
   I believe we may venture to affirm (though we would by no means
   prescribe or dictate to the Holy One of Israel) that, whenever there
   shall be a general revival of religion in any country, itinerant
   preaching will be more in vogue. And it is to be feared, that those who
   condemn it now, merely on account of the meanness of its appearances,
   would have joined with the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees, in
   condemning even the Son of God himself, for such a practice.

   "And as he went out of Jericho with his disciples, and a great number
   of people;" o[clou iJkanou' a great number of mob, or rabble, as the
   High- priests of that generation termed them; for these were the
   constant followers of Jesus of Nazareth; it was the poor that received
   his gospel, the common people heard him gladly, and followed him from
   place to place. Not that all who followed him, were his true disciples.
   No, some followed him only for his loaves, others out of curiosity;
   though some undoubtedly followed to hear, and be edified by the
   gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. Jesus knew this, and
   was also sensible how displeasing this crowding after him was to some
   of the rulers of the Jewish church, who, upon every occasion, were
   ready to say, "Have any of the Scribes and Pharisees believed on him?"
   But, notwithstanding, I do not hear of our blessed Lord's sending them
   home but once; and that was, after they had been with him three days,
   and had nothing left to eat, he saw they were as sheep having no
   shepherd, and therefore had compassion on them, and taught them. A
   sufficient warrant this for gospel-ministers to preach to poor souls
   that follow to hear the word, whatever principle their coming may
   proceed from. At the same time, they should caution people against
   thinking themselves Christians, because they follow Christ's ministers.
   This our Lord frequently did, For there are many that followed Jesus,
   and not follow his ministers, and hear them gladly; nay, perhaps do
   many things, as Herod did, who, it is to be feared, will never follow
   them into the kingdom of heaven. Much people followed Jesus out of
   Jericho, but how many of them were offended in him; and afterwards, it
   may be, cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him." Who would depend on
   popularity? It is like the morning cloud, or early dew, that passeth
   away. But what a press, and seemingly continued hurry of business did
   the blessed Jesus live in! He could not be hid; go where he would, much
   people followed him. He had scarce time to eat bread. Happy is it for
   such who are called to act in a public station in the church, and to be
   more abundant in labors, that their Jesus has trodden in this dangerous
   path before them. Popularity is a fiery furnace, and no one, but he who
   kept the three children amidst Nebuchadnezzar's flames, can preserve
   popular ministers from being hurt by it. But we can do all things
   through Christ strengthening us. And I have often thought, that there
   is one consideration sufficient to extinguish, or moderate at least,
   any excess of joy and self-complacence, which the most popular preacher
   may feel, when followed even by the greatest multitudes; and that is
   this, "How many of these hearers will go "away, without receiving any
   saving benefit by my preaching; nay, how many, it may be, will only
   have their damnation increased by it!" As we find many will say at the
   great day, "hast thou not taught in our streets;" to whom Jesus shall
   answer, "Verily, I know you not."

   But to proceed, "As our Lord went out of Jericho with his disciples,
   and a great number of people, blind Bartimeus, (the son of Timeus) sat
   by the highway-side begging." It should seem that he was a noted,
   though by no means what we commonly call, a sturdy beggar; having no
   other way, as he had lost his sight, to get his bread; his case was
   still the more pitiable, if he was, as some think the name imports, the
   blind son of a blind father. It may be, her begged for his father and
   himself too; and if so, then this may give us light into that passage
   of Matthew 20:22 where we are told, that "two men spake to Jesus." It
   might be father and son, though only one is mentioned here, because he
   only followed Jesus in the way. Thus that holy, judicious, and
   practical expositor of holy writ, Mr. Henry. But however this be, he is
   not blamed for begging, neither should we discommend others for so
   doing, when providence calls to it. It was the unjust steward that
   said, "To beg I am ashamed." It is our pride that often makes us
   unwilling to be beholden; Jesus was not thus minded, he lived, as it
   were, upon alms; the women that followed him, ministered to him of
   their substance. Bartimeus, not being able to dig, begs for his living;
   and, in order to make a better trade of it, sat by the highway-side, in
   all probability, without, or near the gate of the city, where people
   must necessarily pass in and out. But though he had lost his sight, he
   had his hearing perfect; and it should comfort us, if we have lost one
   sense, that we have the use of another, and that we are not deprived of
   the benefit of all. Happy was it for Bartimeus that he could hear,
   though not see. For in all probability, upon hearing the noise and
   clamor of the much people that followed after our Lord, his curiosity
   set him upon inquiring into the cause of it, and some one or another
   told him, "that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by;" Jesus of Nazareth,
   called so, because he was bred there, or out of contempt; Nazareth
   being either a very mean, or very wicked place, or both, which made
   guileless Nathaniel say, "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" And what
   does Bartimeus do when he hears of Jesus? We are told, ver. 47: "And
   when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out." This
   plainly denotes, that though the eyes of his body were shut, yet the
   eyes of his mind were, in some degree, opened, so that he saw, perhaps,
   more than most of the multitude that followed after Jesus; for, as soon
   as he heard of him, he began to cry out; which he would not have done,
   had he not heard of him before, and believed also, that he was both
   able and willing to restore sight to the blind. "He began to cry out."
   This implies, that he had a deep sense of his own misery, and the need
   which he had of a cure; his prayers did not freeze as they went out of
   his lips; he began to cry out, that Jesus might hear him,
   notwithstanding the noise of the throng; and he began to cry out, as
   soon as he heard he was passing by, not knowing whether he might ever
   enjoy such an opportunity any more. "He began to cry out, Jesus, thou
   Son of David, have mercy upon me." The people called him Jesus of
   Nazareth. Bartimeus stiles him, "Jesus, thou Son of David." Thereby
   evidencing, that he believed him to be the Messiah who was to come into
   the world, unto whom the Lord God was to give the throne of his father
   David, and of whose kingdom there was to be no end. "Jesus, thou Son of
   David;" or, as it is in the parallel place of St. Matthew 20:30, "O
   Lord, thou son of David;" of whom it had been long foretold, Isaiah 35,
   that when he should come, "the eyes of the blind should be opened."
   "Have mercy upon me," the natural language of a soul brought to lie
   down at the feet of a sovereign God. Here is no laying claim to a cure
   by way of merit; no proud, self-righteous, God I thank thee that I am
   not as other men are: not bringing in a reckoning of performances, nor
   any doubting of Jesus' power or willingness to heal him, but out of the
   abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh, and, in the language of the
   poor, broken-hearted publican, he cries out, "Jesus, thou Son of David,
   have mercy on me." Jesus, thou friend of sinners, thou Savior, who,
   though thou be the true God, wast pleased to become the Son of David,
   and to be made man, that thou mightest seek and save those that were
   lost, have mercy upon me; let thy bowels yearn towards a poor,
   miserable, blind beggar?

   One would have thought that such a moving petition as this would have
   melted the whole multitude, that heard his piteous cry, into
   compassion, and induced some at least to turn suitors in his behalf, or
   help to carry him to the blessed Jesus. But instead of that, we are
   told, ver. 48, that "many charged him." The word in the original seems
   to imply a charge, attended with threatening, and spoken in an angry
   manner. They charged him "to hold his peace;" and it may be, threatened
   to beat him if he did not. They looked upon him beneath the notice of
   Jesus of Nazareth, and were ready enough to ask, whether he thought
   Jesus Christ had nothing else to do but to wait upon him. This was, no
   doubt, very discouraging to blind Bartimeus. For opposition comes
   closest when it proceeds from those who are esteemed followers of the
   Lamb. The spouse complains as of something peculiarly afflicting, that
   her own mother's children were angry with her. But opposition only
   serves to whet the edge of true devotion, and therefore Bartimeus,
   instead of being silenced by their charges and threatenings, "cried out
   the more a great deal, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." Still he
   breaks out into the same humble language, and, if Jesus, the Son of
   David, will have mercy on him, he cares not much what some of his
   peevish followers said of, or did unto him. This was not a vain
   repetition, but a devout reiteration of his request. We may sometimes
   repeat the same words, and yet not be guilty of that battalogia, or
   vain speaking , which our Lord condemns. For our Lord himself prayed in
   his agony, and said twice the same words; "Father, if it be possible,
   let this cup pass from me." Thus Bartimeus, "Jesus, thou Son of David,
   have mercy upon me." And how does the Son of David treat him? Does he
   join issue with the multitude, and charge him to hold his peace? Or
   does he go on, thinking him beneath his notice? no; for, says St. Mark,
   ver 49, "And Jesus stood still," though he was on a journey, and it may
   be in haste (for it is not losing time to stop now and then on a
   journey to do a good office by the way) "and commanded him to be
   called:" why so? To teach us to be condescending and kind even to poor,
   if real beggars, and tacitly to reprove the blind, misguided zeal of
   those who had charged him to hold his peace. By this also our Lord
   prepares the multitude the better to take the more notice of the blind
   man's faith, and of his own mercy and power exerted in the healing of
   him. For there are times and seasons when we are called to perform acts
   of charity in the most public manner, and that too very consistently
   with the injunction of our Savior, "not to let our right hand know what
   our left hand doeth." For there is a great deal of difference between
   giving alms, and exercising acts of charity, that are seen of men, and
   doing them, that they may be seen; the one is always sinful, the other
   often becomes our duty. Jesus commanded Bartimeus to be called, "and
   they called him." Who called him? It may be, those who a little before
   charged him t hold his peace. For it often happens, that our opposers
   and discouragers, afterwards become our friends, "When a man's ways
   please the Lord, he makes his enemies be at peace with him." And it is
   to be wished, that all who have charged poor souls, that are crying
   after Jesus, to hold their peace, and to spare themselves, and not be
   righteous over-much, would imitate the people here, and encourage those
   they once persecuted and maligned. "They call the blind man, saying
   unto him, Be of good comfort, ruse, he calleth thee." The words, and
   manner of speaking them, implies haste, and a kind of solicitude for
   the blind man's relief. O! that we might hereby learn to be patient and
   long-suffering, towards opposers. For it may be, that many may oppose
   awakened souls, not out of enmity, but through prejudice and
   misinformation, through ignorance and unbelief, and a real, though
   perhaps false, persuasion, that their relations are going in a wrong
   way. By and by they may be convinced, that Christ is indeed calling
   them, and then they may become real and open friends to the cause and
   work of God; if not, it is our duty to behave with meekness towards
   all, and not to render railing for railing, but contrary-wise blessing,
   knowing that we are thereunto called, that we may inherit a blessing;
   Jesus did not break out into harsh language against these opposers,
   neither did Bartimeus. "Our Lord stood still, and commanded him to be
   called; and they call the blind man; saying unto him, Be of good
   comfort, rise, he calleth thee; and he, casting away his garment, rose
   and came to Jesus." Had Bartimeus not been in earnest when he cried,
   "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me," he might have said, why
   do you mock me? why bid ye me arise; rise indeed I can, but after I am
   risen, how can I, being blind, find my way unto him? If he will come to
   me, it is well; if not, all you r calling availeth nothing, it being
   impossible for me to find my way. Thus thousands now-a-days object to
   evangelical preachers, saying, Why do you bid us come to, and believe
   on Jesus Christ, when you tell us it is impossible of ourselves to turn
   to God, or to do good works; and that no one can come unto him, unless
   the Father draw him. Is not this like the people's calling upon
   Bartimeus, to arise and come to Jesus, when he could not possibly see
   his way before him? true, it is so; and would to God that all who make
   this objection, would imitate Bartimeus, and put forth the strength
   they have! What if we do call you to come, and to believe on the Lord
   Jesus Christ, that you may be saved? Does this imply, that you have a
   power in yourselves to do so? No, in no wise, no more than Jesus saying
   unto Lazarus' dead and stinking carcass, "Come forth," implied, that
   Lazarus had a power to raise himself from the grave. We call to you,
   being commanded to preach the gospel to every creature, hoping and
   praying, that Christ's power may accompany the word, and make it
   effectual to the quickening and raising of your dead souls. We also
   call to you to believe, upon the same account as Jesus said unto the
   lawyer, "do this, and thou shalt live;" that you seeing your utter
   inability to come, might thereby be convinced of your unbelief, and be
   led to ask for faith of him, whose gift it is, and who is therefore in
   scripture emphatically stiled the Author, as well as Finisher, of our
   faith. Add to this, that it is your duty to wait at the pool, or to
   make us of the strength you have, in the earnest and steady performance
   of all commanded duty. For though you cannot do what is spiritually
   good, because you want spiritual principles of action, yet ye may do
   what is morally and materially good, inasmuch as ye are reasonable
   creatures; and though doing your duty as you can, no ways deserves
   mercy, or entitles you to it, yet it is the way in which you are
   required to walk, and the way in which God us usually found. While you
   are attempting to stretch out your withered arm, peradventure it may be
   restored; and who knows but Jesus may work faith in you, by his
   almighty power?

   Bartimeus has set before such objectors an example; O that they would
   once submit to be taught by a poor blind beggar! For he, casting away
   his garment, rose, and blind as he was, came to Jesus; "casting away
   his garment." This seems to be a large coat or cloak, that he wore to
   screen himself from the rain and cold; undoubtedly, it was the most
   necessary and valuable vestment he had, and one would have thought,
   that he should have taken this along with him; but he knew very well,
   that if he did so, it might hang about his heels, and thereby his
   reaching Jesus be retarded at least, if not prevented entirely.
   Valuable therefore as it was to him, he cast it away. The word implies,
   that he threw it from off his shoulders, with great precipitancy and
   resolution, knowing that if he got a cure, which he now hoped for, by
   Christ's calling him, he should never want his garment again. And thus
   will all do that are in earnest about coming to Jesus here, or seeing
   and enjoying him in his kingdom eternally hereafter. They will cut off
   a right hand, they will pluck out a right eye, they will leave father
   and mother, husband and wife, yes, and their own lives also, rather
   than not be his disciples. The apostle Paul, therefore, exhorts
   Christians, to "lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth most
   easily beset them," or hand about their heels, as the word in the
   original imports; alluding to the custom of the Romans, who wore long
   garments. Such a one was this, which Bartimeus had wrapped round him.
   But he, to show that he sincerely desired to recover his sight, casting
   it away, arose and came to Jesus. And what treatment did Jesus give
   him? did he say, come not nigh me, thou impudent noisy beggar? No, "he
   answered and said unto him, What wilt thou, that I should do unto
   thee?" an odd question this, seemingly. For did not our Lord know what
   he wanted? Yes, he did; but the Lord Jesus dealt with him, as he deals
   with us. He will make us acknowledge our wants ourselves, that we
   thereby may confess our dependence upon him, and be made more sensible
   of the need we stand in, of his divine assistance. The blind man
   immediately replies, "Lord, (thereby intimating his belief of Christ's
   divinity) that I might receive my sight." Methinks, I see the poor
   creature listening to the voice of our Savior, and with looks and
   gestures bespeaking the inward earnestness of his soul, he cries out,
   "Lord, that I may receive my sight." As though he had said, I believe
   thou are that Messiah who was to come into the world. I have heard of
   thy fame, O Jesus! And hearing the long-wished-for glad tidings of thy
   coming this way, I cry unto thee, asking not for silver and gold, but
   what thou, thou alone canst give me, Lord, that I might receive my
   sight. No sooner does he ask, but he receives. For, verse 52, "Jesus
   said unto him, Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole; and
   immediately he received his sight." With the word there went a power;
   and he that spake light out of darkness, saying, "Let there be light,
   and there was light," commanded light into this poor blind beggar's
   eyes, and behold there was light. The miracle was instantaneous;
   immediately he received his sight. And next to a miracle it was, that
   by breaking into open light all at once, he was not struck blind again:
   but he that gave the sight, preserved it when given. O! happy
   Bartimeus! Thy eyes are now opened, and the very first object thou dost
   behold, is the ever- loving, altogether-lovely Jesus. Methinks I see
   thee transported with wonder and admiration, and all the disciples, and
   the multitude, gazing around thee! And now, having received thy sight,
   why dost thou not obey the Lord's command, and go thy way? Why doest
   thou not haste to fetch thy garment, that thou just now in a hurry
   didst cast away? No, no! with his bodily eyes, I believe he received
   also a fresh addition of spiritual sight, and though others saw no form
   or comeliness in the blessed Jesus, that they should desire him; yet he
   by an eye of faith discovered such transcendent excellencies in his
   royal person, and felt at the same time such a divine attraction
   towards his all-bountiful benefactor, that instead of going his way to
   fetch his garment, "he followed Jesus in the way;" and by his actions,
   says with faithful, honest-hearted Ruth, "entreat me not to leave thee;
   for whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge;
   thy people shall be my people; and thy God, my God." He followed Jesus
   in the way; the narrow way, the way of the cross; and I doubt not but
   long since he has followed him to his crown, and is at this time
   sitting with him at the right hand of his Father.

   And now, my dear hearers, how find you your hearts affected at the
   relation of this notable miracle which Jesus wrought? Are you not ready
   to break out into the language of the song of Moses, and to say, "Who
   is like unto thee O Lord, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises,
   continually doing wonders!" Marvelous are thy works, O Jesus, and that
   our souls know right well! But we must not stop here, in admiring what
   the Lord did for Bartimeus; this, no doubt, as well as other parts of
   Scripture, was written for our learning, upon whom the ends of the
   world are come; consequently, as was proposed in the

   Second place, we should see what spiritual improvement can be made of
   this history, upon which we have already been making some remarks.

   A natural man, indeed, goes no further than the outward court of the
   Scripture, and reads this, and the other miracles of our blessed
   Savior, just in the same manner as he reads Homer's battles, or the
   exploits of Alexander. But God forbid, that we should rest in only
   hearing this matter of fact. For I tell thee, O man, I tell thee, O
   woman, whoever thou art, that sittest this day under a preached gospel,
   that if thou art in a natural state, thou art as blind in thy soul, as
   Bartimeus was in his body; a blind child of a blind father, even of thy
   father Adam, who lost his sight when he lost his innocence, and
   entailed his blindness, justly inflicted, upon thee, and me, and his
   whole posterity. Some think indeed, that thy see; but alas! such talk
   only like men in their sleep, like persons beside themselves; the
   scriptures every where represent fallen man, not only as spiritually
   blind, but dead also; and we no more know, by nature, savingly the way
   of salvation by Jesus Christ, than Bartimeus, when he was blind, knew
   the colors of the rainbow. This, I trust, some of you begin to feel, I
   see you concerned, I see you weeping, and, was I to ask some of you,
   what you want to have done unto you? I know your answer would be, that
   we may receive our sight. And God forbid, that I should charge you to
   hold your peace, as though Jesus would not regard you! No, your being
   made sensible of your natural blindness, and crying thus earnestly
   after Jesus, is a sign at least, that you are awakened by his holy
   Spirit (though it is possible, that you may cry with an exceeding
   bitter cry, as Esau did, and be lost at last); however, Christian
   charity induces me to believe and hope the best; I will therefore, in
   the language of those who afterwards encouraged Bartimeus, say unto
   you, Arise, take comfort for, I trust, Jesus is calling you; follow
   therefore the example of Bartimeus; cast away your garment; lay aside
   every weight, and the sin which doth most easily beset you, arise, and
   come to Jesus. He commands me, by his written word, to call to you, and
   say, "Come unto him, all ye that are weary, and heavy laden, and he
   will refresh you, he will give you rest." Be not afraid, ye seek Jesus
   of Nazareth; behold, he comes forth to meet you; ye are now on the
   highway side, and Jesus, I trust, is passing by; I feel his presence, I
   hope many of you feel it too; O then, cry mightily to him, who is
   mighty and willing to save you; lay yourselves at the feet of sovereign
   grace, say unto him, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me," in
   the same frame as Bartimeus did, and Jesus will answer you, he will not
   cast out your prayer; according to your faith, so shall it be done unto
   you. Blind as you are, you shall notwithstanding, receive your sight;
   Satan, indeed, and unbelief, will suggest many objections to you, your
   carnal relations will also join issue with them, and charge you to hold
   your peace; one will tell you, that your blindness is too inveterate to
   be cured; another, that it is too late; a third, that though Jesus can,
   yet he will not have mercy upon such poor, blind, despicable beggars,
   as ye are; but, the more they charge you to hold your peace, do you cry
   out so much the more a great deal, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have
   mercy on us." Jesus, thou Savior, thou friend of sinners, thou Son of
   David, and therefore a Son of man! Gracious words! Endearing
   appellations! Be encouraged by them, to draw nigh unto him. Though
   David's Lord, yet he is become David's Son, after the flesh, that ye
   through him may be made the sons of God: no matter what thou art, O
   woman, what thou art, O man; though thou art literally a poor beggar,
   think not thy condition too mean for Jesus to take notice of; he came
   into the highways and hedges, to call such poor beggars in; or, if you
   are rich, think not yourselves too high to stoop to Jesus; for his is
   the King of kings; and you never will be truly rich, until you are made
   rich in Jesus; fear not being despised, or losing a little worldly
   honor: one sight of Jesus will make amends for all: you will find
   something so inviting, so attracting, so satisfying, in the altogether
   lovely Lamb of God, that every sublunary enjoyment will sicken, and
   die, and vanish before you; and you will o more desire your former vain
   and trifling amusements, than Bartimeus, after he had received his
   sight, desired to go back again and fetch his garment. O that there may
   be many such blind beggars among you this day!

   Here is a great multitude of people following me, a poor worm, this
   day. I rejoice to see the fields thus white, ready unto harvest, and to
   spread the gospel-net amidst so many; but alas! I shall return home
   with a heavy heart, unless some of you will arise and come to my Jesus;
   I desire to preach Him, and not myself; rest not in hearing and
   following me. Behold, believe on, and follow the Lamb of God, who came
   to take away the sins of the world. Indeed, I do not despair of any of
   you, neither am I discouraged, on account of my preaching in the
   highways and hedges; Jesus called Zaccheus; Jesus called Bartimeus, as
   he passed through Jericho; that cursed, that devoted place; and why may
   he not call some of you, out of these despised fields? Is his arm
   shortened, that he cannot save? Is he not as mighty now, and as willing
   to save, even to the uttermost, all that come to the father through
   him, as he was seventeen hundred years ago? Assuredly he is; he hath
   said, and he also will do it, "Whosoever cometh to me, I will in no
   wise cast out." In no wise, or by no means. O encouraging words!
   Sinners, believe ye this? arise then, be of good comfort, for Jesus is
   indeed calling you. Some of you, I trust, have obeyed this invitation,
   and have had a sight of him long ago; I know then, you will bless and
   love him; and if he should say unto you, as he did unto Bartimeus, go
   you your way; your answer would be, we love our master, and will not go
   from him. But suffer ye the word of exhortation:

   Suffer me to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, show that
   you have indeed seen him, and that you do indeed love him, by following
   him in the way; I mean, in the way of the cross, the way of his
   ordinances, and in the way of his holy commandments; for alas! the love
   of many waxeth cold, and few there are that follow Jesus rightly in the
   way; few there are that cast away their garments so heartily as they
   should; some idol or another hangs about us, and hinders us in running
   the race that is set before us. Awake therefore, ye sleepy, though, it
   may be, wise virgins. Awake, awake, put on strength; shake yourselves
   from the dust; arise and follow Jesus more closely in the way, than
   ever you did yet. Lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the
   feeble knees. Provide right paths for your feet, lest that which is
   lame be turned out of the way, but rather be ye healed. For though the
   way be narrow, yet it is not long; "though the gate be straight, (to
   use the words of pious bishop Beveridge) yet it opens into everlasting
   life." O that ye may get a fresh sight of him again this day! That
   would be like oil to the wheels of your graces, and make your souls
   like the chariots of Aminadab. It is only owing to your losing sight of
   him, that you go so heavily from day to day. A sight of Jesus, like the
   sun rising in the morning, dispels the darkness and gloominess that
   lies upon the soul. Take therefore a fresh view of him, O believers,
   and never rest until you are translated to see him as he is, and to
   live with him for evermore, in the kingdom of heaven. Even so, Lord
   Jesus, Amen and Amen!
     __________________________________________________________________

                         Directions How to Hear Sermons

   Luke 8:18 -- "Take heed, therefore, how ye hear."

   The occasion of our Lord's giving this caution, was this: Perceiving
   that much people were gathered together to hear him out of every city,
   and knowing (for he is God, and knoweth all things) that many, if not
   most of them, would be hearers only, and not doers of the word; he
   spake to them by a parable, wherein, under the similitude of a sower
   that went out to sow his seed, he plainly intimated, how few there were
   amongst them, who would receive any saving benefit from his doctrine,
   or bring forth fruit unto perfection.

   The application one would imagine should have been plain and obvious;
   but the disciples, as yet unenlightened in any great degree by the Holy
   Spirit, and therefore unable to see into the hidden mysteries of the
   kingdom of God, dealt with our Savior, as people ought to deal with
   their ministers; they discoursed with him privately about the meaning
   of what he had taught them in public; and with a sincere desire of
   doing their duty, asked for an interpretation of the parable.

   Our blessed Lord, as he always was willing to instruct those that were
   teachable, (herein setting his ministers an example to be courteous and
   easy of access) freely told them the signification. And withal, to make
   them more cautious and more attentive to his doctrine for the future,
   he tells them, that they were in an especial manner to be the light of
   the world, and were to proclaim on the house-top whatsoever he told
   them in secret: and as their improving the knowledge already imparted,
   was the only condition upon which more was to be given them, it
   therefore highly concerned them to "take heed how they heard."

   From the context then it appears, that the words were primarily spoken
   to the Apostles themselves. But as it is to be feared, out of those
   many thousands that flock to hear sermons, but few, comparatively
   speaking, are effectually influenced by them, I cannot but think it
   very necessary to remind you of the caution given by our Lord to his
   disciples, and to exhort you with the utmost earnestness, to "take heed
   how you hear."

   In prosecution of which design I shall,

   First, Prove that every one ought to take all opportunities of hearing
   sermons. And,

   Secondly, I shall lay down some cautions and directions, in order to
   your hearing with profit and advantage.

   First, I am to prove, that every one ought to take all opportunities of
   hearing sermons.

   That there have always been particular persons set apart by God to
   instruct and exhort his people to practice what he should require of
   them, is evident from many passages of scripture. St. Jude tells us,
   that "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied (or preached) concerning
   the Lord's coming with ten thousand of his saints to judgment." And
   Noah, who lived not long after, is stiled by St. Peter, "a preacher of
   righteousness." And though in all the intermediate space between the
   flood and giving of the law, we hear but of few preachers, yet we may
   reasonably conclude, that God never left himself without witness, but
   at sundry times, and after diverse manners, spoke to our fathers by the
   patriarchs and prophets.

   But however it was before, we are assured that after the delivery of
   the law, God constantly separated to himself a certain order of men to
   preach to, as well as pray for his people; and commanded them to
   inquire their duty at the priests mouths. And thought the Jews were
   frequently led into captivity, and for their sins scattered abroad on
   the face of the earth, yet he never utterly forsook his church, but
   still kept up a remnant of prophets and preachers, as Ezekiel,
   Jeremiah, Daniel, and others, to reprove, instruct, and call them to
   repentance.

   Thus was it under the law. Nor has the church been worse, but
   infinitely better provided for under the gospel. For when Jesus Christ,
   that great High-priest, had through the eternal Spirit offered himself,
   as a full, perfect, sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins
   of the whole world, and after his resurrection had all power committed
   to him, both in heaven and earth, he gave commission to his Apostles,
   and in them to all succeeding ministers, to "go and preach his gospel
   to every creature;" promising to "to be with them, to guide, assist,
   strengthen, and comfort them always, even to the end of the world."

   But if it be the duty of ministers to preach, (and woe be to them if
   they do not preach the gospel, for a necessity is laid upon them) no
   doubt, the people are obliged to attend to them; for otherwise,
   wherefore are ministers sent?

   And how can we here avoid admiring the love and tender care which our
   dear Redeemer has expressed for his spouse the church? Who, because he
   could not be always with us in person, on account it was expedient he
   should go away, and as our forerunner take possession of that glory he
   had purchased by his precious blood, yet would not leave us
   comfortless, but first settled a sufficient number of pastors and
   teachers; and afterwards, according to his promise, actually did and
   will continue to sent down the Holy Ghost, to furnish them and their
   successors with proper gifts and graces "for the work of the ministry,
   for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of his body in love,
   till we all come in the unity of the spirit, to the fullness of the
   measure of the stature of Christ."

   O how insensible are those persons of this unspeakable gift, who do
   despite to the Spirit of grace, who crucify the Son of God afresh, and
   put him to an open shame, by willfully refusing to attend on so great a
   means of salvation? How dreadful will the end of such men be? How
   aggravating, that light should come into the world, that the glad
   tidings of salvation should be so very frequently proclaimed in this
   populous city, and that so many should loath this spiritual manna, this
   angels food, and call it light bread? How much more tolerable will it
   be for Tyre and Sidon, for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for such sinners?
   Better, that men had never heard of a Savior being born, than after
   they have heard, not to give heed to the ministry of those, who are
   employed as his ambassadors, to transact affairs between God and their
   souls.

   We may, though at a distance, without a spirit of prophesy, foretell
   the deplorable condition of such men; behold them cast into hell,
   lifting up their eyes, being in torment, and crying out, How often
   would our ministers have gathered us, as a hen gathereth her chickens
   under her wings? But we would not. O that we had known in that our day,
   the things that belonged to our everlasting peace! But now they are for
   ever hid from our eyes.

   Thus wretched, thus inconceivably miserable, will such be as slight and
   make a mock at the public preaching of the gospel. But taking it for
   granted, there are but few, if any, of this unhappy stamp, who think it
   worth their while to tread the courts of the Lord's house, I pass on
   not to the

   Second general thing proposed, to lay down some cautions and
   directions, in order to your hearing sermons with profit and advantage.

   And here, if we reflect on what has been already delivered, and
   consider that preaching is an ordinance of God, a means appointed by
   Jesus Christ himself for promoting his kingdom amongst men, you cannot
   reasonably be offended, if, in order that you may hear sermons with
   profit and advantage, I

   1. Direct or entreat you to come to hear them, not out of curiosity,
   but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty.

   Formality and hypocrisy in any religious exercise, is an abomination
   unto the Lord. And to enter his house merely to have our ears
   entertained, and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be highly
   displeasing to the Most High God, as well as unprofitable to ourselves.

   Hence it is, that so many remain unconverted, yea, unaffected with the
   most evangelical preaching; so that like St. Paul's companions, before
   his conversion, they only hear the preacher's voice with their outward
   ears, but do not experience the power of it inwardly in their hearts.
   Or, like the ground near Gideon's fleece, they remain untouched; whilst
   others, who came to be fed with the sincere milk of the word, like the
   fleece itself, are watered by the dew of God's heavenly blessing, and
   grow thereby.

   Flee therefore, my brethren, flee curiosity, and prepare your hearts by
   a humble disposition, to receive with meekness the engrafted word, and
   then it will be a means, under God, to quicken, build up, purify, and
   save your souls.

   2. A second direction I shall lay down for the same purpose, is, not
   only to prepare your hearts before you hear, but also to give diligent
   heed to the things that are spoken from the word of God.

   If an earthly king was to issue out a royal proclamation, on performing
   or not performing the conditions therein contained, the life or death
   of his subjects entirely depended, how solicitous would they be to hear
   what those conditions were? And shall not we pay the same respect to
   the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and lend an attentive ear to his
   ministers, when they are declaring, in his name, how our pardon, peace,
   and happiness may be secured?

   When God descended on mount Sinai in terrible majesty, to give unto his
   people the law, how attentive were they to his servant Moses? And if
   they were so earnest to hear the thunderings or threatenings of the
   law, shall not we be as solicitous to hear from the ministers of
   Christ, the glad tidings of the gospel?

   Whilst Christ was himself on earth, it is said, that the people hung
   upon him to hear the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth.
   And if we looked on ministers as we ought, as the sent of Jesus Christ,
   we should hang upon them to hear their words also.

   Besides, the sacred truths that gospel ministers deliver, are not dry
   insipid lectures on moral philosophy, intended only to amuse us for a
   while; but the great mysteries of godliness, which, therefore, we are
   bound studiously to liken to, left through our negligence we should
   either not understand them, or by any other means let them slip.

   But how regardless are those of this direction, who, instead of hanging
   on the preacher to hear him, doze or sleep whilst he is speaking to
   them from God? Unhappy men! Can they not watch with our blessed Lord
   one hour? What! Have they never read how Eutychus fell down as he was
   sleeping, when St. Paul continued like discourse till midnight, and was
   taken up dead?

   But to return. Though you may prepare your hearts, as you may think, by
   a teachable disposition, and be attentive whilst discourses are
   delivering, yet this will profit you little, unless you observe a

   3. A third direction, Not to entertain any the least prejudice against
   the minister.

   For could a preacher speak with the tongue of men and angels, if his
   audience was prejudiced against him, he would be but as sounding brass,
   or tinkling cymbal.

   That was the reason why Jesus Christ himself, the Eternal Word, could
   not do many mighty works, nor preach to any great effect among those of
   his own country; for they were offended at him: And was this same
   Jesus, this God incarnate, again to bow the heavens, and to come down
   speaking as never man spake, yet, if we were prejudiced against him, as
   the Jews were, we should harden our hearts as the Jews did theirs.

   Take heed therefore, my brethren, and beware of entertaining any
   dislike against those whom the Holy Ghost has made overseers over you.
   Consider that the clergy are men of lie passions with yourselves: and
   though we should even hear a person teaching others to do, what he has
   not learned himself; yet, that is no sufficient reason for rejecting
   his doctrine: for ministers speak not in their own, but Christ's name.
   And we know who commanded the people to do whatsoever the Scribes and
   Pharisees should say unto them, though they said but did not. But

   4 Fourthly, As you ought not to be prejudiced against, so you should be
   careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of
   him than you ought to think. For though this be an extreme that people
   seldom run into, yet preferring one teacher in apposition to another,
   has often been of ill consequence to the church of God. It was a fault
   which the great Apostle of the Gentiles condemned in the Corinthians.
   For whereas one said, "I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos: are ye
   not carnal," says he? "For who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but
   instruments in God's hands by whom you believed?" And are not all
   ministers sent forth to be ministering ambassadors to those who shall
   be heirs of salvation? And are they not all therefore greatly to be
   esteemed for their work's sake.

   The Apostle, it is true, commands us to pay double honor to those who
   labor in the word and doctrine: but then to prefer one minister at the
   expense of another, (perhaps, to such a degree, as when you have
   actually entered a church, to come out again because he does not
   preach) is earthly, sensual, devilish.

   Not to mention that popularity and applause cannot but be exceedingly
   dangerous, even to a rightly informed mind; and must necessarily fill
   any thinking man with a holy jealousy, lest he should take that honor
   to himself, which is due only to God, who alone qualifies him for his
   ministerial labors, and from whom alone every good and perfect gift
   cometh.

   5. A Fifth direction I would recommend is, to make a particular
   application of every thing that is delivered to your own hearts.

   When our Savior was discoursing at the last supper with his beloved
   disciples, and foretold that one of them should betray him, each of
   them immediately applied it to his own heart, and said, "Lord, is it
   I?" And would persons, in like manner, when preachers are dissuading
   from any sin, or persuading to any duty, instead of crying, this was
   designed against such and such a one, turn their thoughts inwardly, and
   say, Lord, is it I? How far more beneficial should we find discourses
   to be, than now they generally are?

   But we are apt to wander too much abroad; always looking at the mote
   with is in our neighbor's eye, rather than at the beam which is in our
   own. Haste we now to the

   6. Sixth and last direction: If you would receive a blessing from the
   Lord, when you hear his word preached, pray to him, both before, in,
   and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and
   to grant you a will and ability to put in practice, what he shall show
   from the book of God to be your duty.

   This would be an excellent means to render the word preached effectual
   to the enlightening and enflaming your hearts; and without this, all
   the other means before prescribed will be in vain.

   No doubt it was this consideration that made St. Paul so earnestly
   entreat his beloved Ephesians to intercede with God for him: "Praying
   always, with all manner of prayer and supplication in the spirit, and
   for me also, that I may open my mouth with boldness, to make known the
   mysteries of the gospel." And if so great an Apostle as St. Paul,
   needed the prayers of his people, much more do those ministers, who
   have only the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

   Besides, this would be a good proof that you sincerely desired to do,
   as well as to know the will of God. And it must highly profit both
   ministers and people; because God, through your prayers, will give them
   a double portion of his Holy Spirit, whereby they will be enabled to
   instruct you more fully in the things which pertain to the kingdom of
   God.

   And O that all who hear me this day, would seriously apply their hearts
   to practice what has now been told them! How would ministers see Satan,
   like lightning, fall from heaven, and people find the word preached
   sharper than a two-edged sword, and mighty, through God, to the pulling
   down of the devil's strong holds!

   The Holy Ghost would then fall on all them that hear the word, as when
   St. Peter preached; the gospel of Christ would have free course, run
   very swiftly, and thousands again be converted by a sermon.

   For "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever." He has
   promised to be with his ministers always, even unto the end of the
   world. And the reason why we do not receive larger effusions of the
   blessed Spirit of God, is not because our all-powerful Redeemer's hand
   is shortened, but because we do not expect them, and confine them to
   the primitive times.

   It does indeed sometimes happen, that God, to magnify his free grace in
   Christ Jesus, is found of them that sought him not; a notorious sinner
   is forcibly worked upon by a public sermon, and plucked as a firebrand
   out of the fire. But this is not God's ordinary way of acting; No, for
   the generality, he only visits those with the power of his word, who
   humbly wait to know what he would have them to do; and sends
   unqualified hearers not only empty, but hardened away.

   Take heed, therefore, ye careless, curious professors, if any such be
   here present, how you hear. Remember, that whether we think of it or
   not, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;" where
   ministers must give a strict account of the doctrine they have
   delivered, and you as strict a one, how you have improved under it.
   And, good God! How will you be able to stand at the bar of an angry,
   sin-avenging judge, and see so many discourses you have despised, so
   many ministers, who once longed and labored for the salvation of your
   precious and immortal souls, brought out as so many swift witnesses
   against you? Will it be sufficient then, think you, to alledge, that
   you went to hear them only out of curiosity, to pass away an idle hour,
   to admire the oratory, or ridicule the simplicity of the preacher? No;
   God will then let you know, that you ought to have come out of better
   principles; that every sermon has been put down to your account, and
   that you must then be justly punished for not improving by them.

   But fear not, you little flock, who with meekness receive the ingrafted
   word, and bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness; for it
   shall not be so with you. No, you will be your minister's joy, and
   their crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus: And they will
   present you in a holy triumph, faultless, and unblameable, to our
   common Redeemer, saying, "Behold us, O Lord, and the children which
   thou hast given us."

   But still take heed how you hear: for upon your improving the grace you
   have, more shall be given, and you shall have abundance. "He is
   faithful that he promised, who also will do it." Nay, God from out of
   Zion, shall so bless you, that every sermon you hear shall communicate
   to you a fresh supply of spiritual knowledge. The word of God shall
   dwell in you richly; you shall go on from strength to strength, from
   one degree of grace unto another, till being grown up to be perfect men
   in Christ Jesus, and filled with all the fullness of God, you shall be
   translated by death to see him as he is, and to sing praises before his
   throne with angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and the
   general assembly of the first- born, whose names are written in heaven,
   for ever and ever.

   Which God, &c.
     __________________________________________________________________

                  The Extent and Reasonableness of Self-Denial

   Luke 9:23 -- "And he said unto them all, if any man will come after me,
   let him deny himself."

   Whoever reads the gospel with a single eye, and sincere intentions,
   will find, that our blessed Lord took all opportunities of reminding
   his disciples that his kingdom was not of this world; that his doctrine
   was a doctrine of the cross; and that their professing themselves to be
   his followers, would call them to a constant state of voluntary
   suffering and self-denial.

   The words of the text afford us one instance, among many, of our
   savior's behavior in this matter: for having in the preceding verses
   revealed himself to Peter, and the other apostles, to be "The Christ of
   God;" lest they should be too much elated with such a peculiar
   discovery of his deity, or think that their relation to so great a
   personage would be attended with nothing but pomp and grandeur, he
   tells then, in the 22nd verse, that "the son of man was to suffer many
   things," in this world, though he was to be crowned with eternal glory
   and honor in the next: and that if any of them or their posterity would
   share in the same honor, they must bear a part with him in his
   self-denial and sufferings. For "He said unto them all, if any man will
   come after me, let him deny himself."

   From which words I shall consider these three things:

   I. First, The nature of the self-denial recommended in the text; and in
   how many respects we must deny ourselves, in order to come after Jesus
   Christ.

   II. Secondly, I shall endeavor to prove the universality and
   reasonableness of this duty of self-denial.

   III. Thirdly, I shall offer some considerations, which may serve as so
   man motives to reconcile us to, and quicken us in, the practice of this
   self-denial.

   I. First, I am to show you the nature of the self-denial recommended in
   the text; or in how many respects we must deny ourselves in order to
   follow Jesus Christ.

   Now as the faculties of the soul are distinguished by the
   understanding, will and affections; so in all these must each of us
   deny himself. We must not lean to our own understanding, being wise in
   our own eyes, and prudent in our own sight; but we must submit our
   short-sighted reason to the light of divine revelation. There are
   mysteries in religion, which are above, though not contrary to our
   natural reason: and therefore we shall never become Christians unless
   we call down imaginations, "and every high thing that exalteth itself
   against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to
   the obedience of Christ." It is in this respect, as well as others,
   that we must become fools for Christ's sake, and acknowledge we know
   nothing without revelation, as we ought to know. We must, with all
   humility and reverence, embrace the truths revealed to us in the holy
   scriptures; for thus only can we become truly wise, even "Wise unto
   salvation." It was matter of our blessed Lord's thanksgiving to his
   heavenly father, that he had "hidden these things from the wise and
   prudent, and had revealed them unto babes." And in this respect also we
   must "be converted and become as little children," teachable, and
   willing to follow the Lamb into whatsoever mysteries he shall be
   pleased to lead us; and believe and practice all divine truths, not
   because we can demonstrate them, but because God, "who cannot lie," has
   revealed them to us.

   Hence then we may trace infidelity to its fountain head; for it is
   nothing else, but a pride of the understanding, an unwillingness to
   submit to the truths of God, that makes so many, professing themselves
   wise, to become such fools as to deny the Lord, who has so dearly
   bought them; and dispute the divinity of that eternal Word, "in whom
   they live, and move, and have their being:" Whereby it is justly to be
   feared, they will bring upon themselves sure, if not swift destruction.

   But, as we must deny ourselves in our understandings, so must we deny,
   or, as it might be more properly rendered, renounce our wills; that is,
   we must make our own wills no principle of action, but "whether we eat
   or drink, or whatsoever we do, we must do all, (not merely to please
   ourselves, but) to the glory of God." Not that we are therefore to
   imagine we are to have no pleasure in any thing we do: "Wisdom's ways
   are ways of pleasantness;" but pleasing ourselves must not be the
   principal, but only the subordinate end of our actions.

   And I cannot but particularly press this doctrine upon you, because it
   is the grand secret of our holy religion. It is this, my brethren, that
   distinguishes the true Christian from the mere moralist and formal
   professor; and without which none of our actions are acceptable in
   God's sight: For "if thine eye be single," says our blessed Lord,
   Matthew 6:22, that is, if thou aimest simply to please God, without any
   regard to thy own will, "thy whole body, (or all thy actions) will be
   full of light;" agreeable to the gospel, which is called light: "But if
   thine eye be evil, (if thine intention be diverted any other way) thy
   whole body, (all thy actions) will be full of darkness," sinful and
   unprofitable, we must not only do the will of God, but do it because it
   is his will; since we pray that "God's will may be done on earth as it
   is in heaven." And no doubt, the blessed angels not only do every thing
   that God willeth, but do it cheerfully, out of this principle, because
   God willeth it: And if we would live as we pray, we must go and do
   likewise.

   But farther, as we must renounce our wills in doing, so likewise must
   we renounce them in suffering the will of God. Whatsoever befalls us,
   we must say with good old Eli, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth
   him good;": or with one that was infinitely greater than Eli, "Father,
   not my will, but thine be done." O Jesus, thine was an innocent will,
   and yet thou renouncedst it. Teach us, even us also, O our Savior! To
   submit our wills to thine, in all the evils which shall be brought upon
   us; and in every thing enable us to give thanks, since it is thy
   blessed will concerning us!

   Thirdly, we must deny ourselves, as in our understandings and wills, so
   likewise in our affections. More particularly, we must deny ourselves
   the pleasurable indulgence and self-enjoyment of riches: "If any man
   will come after me, he must forsake all and follow me." And again (to
   show the utter inconsistency of the love of the things of this world
   with the love of the Father) he tells us, "unless a man forsake all
   that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

   Far be it from me to think that these texts are to be taken in a
   literal sense; as though they obliged rich persons to go sell all that
   they have and give to the poor, (for that would put it out of their
   power to be serviceable to the poor for the future) but however, they
   certainly imply thus much, that we are to sit loose to, sell and
   forsake all in affection, and be willing to part with every thing, when
   God shall require it at our hands: that is, as the apostle observes, we
   must "use the world as though we used it not;" and though we are in the
   world, we must not be of it. We must look upon ourselves as stewards,
   and not proprietors, of the manifold gifts of God; provide first what
   is necessary for ourselves and for our households, and expend the rest,
   not in indulgencies and superfluous ornaments, forbidden by the
   apostle, but in clothing, feeding, and relieving the naked, hungry,
   distressed disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what our blessed Lord
   would have us understand by forsaking all, and in this sense must each
   of us deny himself.

   I am sensible that this will seem an hard saying to may, who will be
   offended because they are covetous, and "lovers of pleasure more than
   lovers of God;" but if I yet pleased such men, I should not be the
   servant of Christ. No, we must not, like Ahab's false prophets, have a
   lying spirit in our mouths, but declare faithfully the whole will of
   God; and like honest Micajah out of pity and compassion, tell men the
   truth, though they may falsely think we prophecy not good but evil
   concerning them.

   But to proceed: As we must renounce our affection for riches, so
   likewise our affections for relations, when they stand in opposition to
   our love of, and duty to God: For thus saith the Savior of the world:
   "If any man will come after me, and hateth not his father and mother,
   his children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he
   cannot be my disciple." Strange doctrine this! What, hate our own
   flesh! What, hate the father that begat us, the mother that bare us!
   How can these things be? Can God contradict himself? Has he not bid us
   to honor our father and mother? And yet we are here commanded to hate
   them. How can these truths be reconciled? By interpreting the word
   hate, not in a rigorous and absolute sense, but comparatively: not as
   implying a total alienation, but a less degree of affection. For thus
   our blessed Savior himself (the best and purest expositor of his own
   meaning) explains it in a parallel text, Matthew 10:37, "He that loveth
   father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; He that loveth son
   or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." So that when the
   persuasions of our friends (as for our trial they may be permitted to
   be) are contrary to the will of God, we must say with Levi, "we have
   not know them;" or, agreeably to our blessed Lord's rebuke to Peter,
   "Get you behind me, my adversaries; for you favor not the things that
   be of God, but the things that be of man."

   Farther, we must deny ourselves in things indifferent; for it might
   easily be shown, that as many, if not more, perish by an immoderate use
   of things in themselves indifferent, as by any gross sin whatever. A
   prudent Christian therefore, will consider not only what is lawful, but
   what is expedient also: not so much what degrees of self-denial best
   suit his inclinations here, as what will most effectually break his
   will, and fit him for greater degrees of glory hereafter.

   Lastly, To conclude this head, we must renounce our own righteousness:
   For, though we should give all our goods to feed the poor, and our
   bodies to be burned, yet, if we in the least depend on that, and do not
   wholly rely on the perfect all sufficient righteousness of Jesus
   Christ, it will profit us nothing. "Christ is the end of the law for
   righteousness to every one that believeth." We are complete in him, and
   him only. Our own righteousnesses are but as filthy rags. We must count
   all things but dung and dross, so that we may be found in him, not
   having our own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God,
   through Jesus Christ our Lord.

   And is this the doctrine of Christianity? Is not the Christian world
   then asleep? If not, whence so much self-righteousness, whence the
   self-indulgence, whence the reigning love of riches which we every
   where meet with? Above all, whence that predominant greediness after
   sensual pleasure, that has so over-run this sinful nation, that was a
   pious stranger to come amongst us, he would be tempted to think some
   heathen Venus was worshipped here, and that temples were dedicated to
   her service. But we have the authority of an inspired apostle to
   affirm, that they who live in a round of pleasure, "are dead while they
   live." Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, "Awake thou that sleepeth,
   and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." But the
   power of raising the spiritually dead belongeth only unto God. Do thou
   therefore, O Holy Jesus, who by thy almighty word commandest Lazarus to
   come forth, though he had lain in the grave some days, speak also as
   effectually to these spiritually dead souls, whom Satan for many years
   hath so fast bound by sensual pleasures, that they are not so much as
   able to lift up their eyes or hearts to heaven.

   II. But I pass on to the second general thing proposed, to consider the
   universal obligation and reasonableness of this doctrine of
   self-denial.

   When our blessed master had been discoursing