תמונות בעמוד

have done. How many persons and places and necessities of yours can witness against you, if you be not firm and forward for the Lord. As Joshua said to Israel, · Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto you, lest you deny your God;' so I may say, the places where you have kneeled, and prayed and promised, will be witnesses against you, if you be not firm to God; the churches that you have assembled in—the places you have walked in, in your solitary meditations—the persons that have heard your promises and professions—the world about you that hath seen your forwardness, will all witness against you if you be not firm.

(3.) It is you that have the life and kernel of mercies, others have but the crumbs that fall from your tables; others have common mercies, but you have the great and special mercies that accompany salvation: All things are yours,' and should not you

be Christ's?' Of you it is that God is so exceeding tender, that he chargeth your enemies not to touch you; and tells them that touch you, that they

touch the apple of his eye.' And should not you abound in love and holiness ?-and should you not be as tender of his favour and his law, and honour, as of the apple of your eye? Should not he that toucheth the name, and law, and honour of God, by profaning them by sin, be as one that toucheth the apple of your eye?

(4.) You have a spirit and heavenly life within you, which the rest of the world are unacquainted with. And can you think it is not something extraordinary that God must needs expect from you? Will you



not' walk in the Spirit” which is given you, and mortify the flesh by it? Is there not more expected from the living than the dead? Surely, He that hath made you

new creatures, and made you ' partakers of the divine nature,' doth expect somewhat divine in your affections and devotions, and that you

be somewhat more than men. (5.) Moreover, it is you, above others, for whom the word and messengers of God are sent. We must speak to all; but it is you that God's special eye is upon,-it is your salvation that he intends to accomplish by us. • There were many widows in the days of Elias, and many lepers in the days of Elisha; but it was but to one of them that the prophet was sent. We make the ungodly multitude even rage against us, and ministers are hated for magnifying the grace of God to you, and declaring his special love to you above others. When Christ himself had spoken the fore-cited words, it is said in the next verses, that all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.' This was the entertainment of Christ himself when he did but declare how few it is that God will save, and for whose sakes he specially sends his messengers. And must we incur all this for magnifying you, and will you dishonour yourselves? Is all our study and labour for you, and our lives for you, and all things for you—and will not you be wholly, and to the utmost of your strength, for God? Are you

culled out of all the world for salvation, and will you not answer this admirable differencing grace by an admirable difference from those that must perish, and by an admirable excellency in meekness, humility, self-denial, and heavenliness, above other men ?

(6.) Moreover, you know more, and have a greater experience to assist you than others have ; and therefore you should excel them accordingly. Others have but heard of the odiousness of sin, but you have seen and felt it. Others have heard of God's displeasure ; but you have tasted it to the breaking or bruising of your hearts. You have been warned at the very quick, as if Christ had spoken to your very flesh and bones, Go thy way, sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.' And, as Ezra said, “ After all that is come upon us, should we again break thy commandments, wouldst thou not be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us ? So, if after all your spiritual experiences, -after so

any tastes of the bitterness of sin, and groans, and prayers, and cries against it, you shall yet live as like to the wicked as you dare, and be familiar with that which hath cost you so dear; how do you think that God must take this at your hands? You have tasted of the sweetness of the love of Christ, and wondered at the unspeakable riches of his grace; you have tasted the sweetness of the hopes of glory, and of the powers of the world to come. You have perceived the necessity and excellency of holiness, by inward experience ;-and if, after all this, you will draggle on the earth, and

live below your own experiences, contenting yourselves with an infancy of love, and life, and fruitfulness, how much do you then transgress against the rules of reason and of equity ?

(7.) Moreover, all the world expecteth much more from you than from any others. God expecteth more from you; for he hath given you more, and meaneth to do more for you. Must you be in the eternal joys of Heaven, when all your unsanctified neighbours are in torments, and yet will you not more endeavour to excel them?

Is it not unreasonable to expect to be set eternally at so vast a distance from the ungodly world, even as far as heaven is from hell, and yet to be content to differ here but a little from them in holiness? The Lord knows that poor forsaken impenitent sinners will do no better, but rage and be confident till they are past remedy: he looks for no better from them than to neglect him, and slight his Son, and word, and ways, and to go on in worldliness and fleshly living; to be filthy still, and careless, and presumptuous, and self-conceited still. But he expects better things from you; and good reason, he hath done more for you, and prepared you for better things. The ministers of Christ do look for little better from many of their poor ignorant ungodly neighbours, but even to rub out their days in security and selfdeceit, and to be barren after all their labours, if not to hate us for seeking to have saved them. But it is you that their eyes are most upon; and you that their hearts are most upon. Their comfort, and the fruit of their lives, lies much in your hands :


St. Paul saith, (1 Thess. iii. 7-9.) · Brethren, we were comforted over you, in all our affliction and distress, by your faith: for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God: night and day praying exceedingly, that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? You see here, that your pastors' lives are in your hands : if you stand fast, they live. For the end of life is more than life; and your salvation is the end of our lives. If the impenitent world reproach us, and abuse and persecute us, we suffer joyfully, as long as our work goeth on with you. But when you are at a stand,—when you are barren and scandalous, and passionate, and dishonour your profession, and put us in fears lest we have bestowed all our labour on you in vain; this breaks our hearts above any worldly cross whatsoever. 0, when the people, that we should rejoice and glory in, shall prove unruly, self-conceited, peevish, proud, every one running his own way, falling into divisions, contentions, or scandals, this is the killing of the comforts of your ministers: when the ungodly shall hit us in the teeth with your scandals or divisions, and say, • These are the godly people that you boasted of, see now what is become of them ;' this is the smoke to our eyes, and the gall and vinegar that is given us by the adversary: and though still we know that our reward is with the Lord, yet can we not choose but be wounded for your sakes, and for the sake of the cause and name of God.

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