Imatges de pÓgina

(2.) That such an heart should have been in them, it was their duty to have it, God required it of them: "Make to yourselves a new heart." God requires the conformity of the heart, as well as of the conversation, to his will. It imports,

(3.) That the want of such an heart was a dead fly in all their engagements, which made all the ointment to stink; "O that there were such an heart in them!" The chief thing is wanting still, they have not yet brought up their heart to their work. It imports,

(4.) The great excellency and worth of such an heart. The Lord speaks honourably of it, as that which would bear weight in the balance of the sanctuary. It is pleasing to the Lord, it is God's delight; they want only this to make them happy. For illustrating this subject, we shall propose and consider the following doctrines.

DOCTRINE I. That men often make what ought to be the most solemn transactions with the Lord about their souls' concerns, but solemn trifling with him.

DOCTRINE II. That a heart sincerely and suitably corresponding with the profession of a covenanting people, is a most valuable and excellent thing.

DOCTRINE III. That the work of covenanting with the Lord is slight work, when it is not heart work. Or, in other words, solemn covenanting with the Lord is but solemn trifling with him, when the work of covenanting is not heart work.

We begin with

DOCTRINE I. That men often make what ought to be the most solemn transactions with the Lord about their souls' concerns, but solemn trifling with him.

Never was there a more solemn transaction which men had with God than what was here. Their ears were filled with the noise of the thunder, the lightnings flashed in their eyes, they heard God himself speak, they were most express in covenanting with God; all this time their hearts were not right with him, nor sound in his statutes. In discoursing from this doctrine, we propose,

I. To shew how far a man may go in transacting with, and engaging himself to the Lord, and yet after all he may be but trifling.

II. Shew wherein this trifling and slight work in such a weighty business doth appear.

III. Point out how people come to turn such solemn work into mere trifling.

IV. Apply the subject.

We are, then,

I. To show how far a man may go in transacting with, and engag



ing himself to the Lord, and yet after all he may be but trifling. Upon this head we observe,

1. That a person may formally and expressly covenant with God, to be the Lord's, and yet after all be but trifling with God. So did this people, ver. 27, (quoted above). A person may make a covenant with God, both by word and writ, when there is no such heart in him, and the heart goes not along either with tongue or pen. It is an easy thing to say unto the Lord, that he shall be our God, but not easy to say it with the heart. The tongue is not always a faithful interpreter of the heart, especially in these things. We ob


2. That a person may make a very full covenant with the Lord, and yet after all be but trifling. What exception was there in this, ver. 27, "All that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, we will hear it and do it." How large a promise was this, Matth. viii. 19, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." No doubt, had their hearts kept pace with their words, they had engaged to purpose. Had there been as few secret as there were open reserves, they had dealt honestly.-We observe,

3. That persons may even be morally serious in all this, thinking and resolving in the time to do as they say. It was not a season for gross dissimulation, nor to make a jest of transacting with the Lord anent soul-concerns, when the Lord was speaking out of the darkness and fire to them. Persons in this case are like those who trifle with merchants, in offering to bargain for their wares, out of mere simplicity and ignorance as to the worth of these wares, who, if they had matters set in their due light, would never once propose again so to bid for them. The foolish virgins saw not their lamps out till it was past time.-We observe,

4. That persons may do all this from a sense of their need of a Mediator. Thus did they in the text. What was it that brought this people to this? Why, they had formerly engaged with a whole heart to be the Lord's: Exod. xix. 8, " And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do." But now they fall more solemnly and seriously to work. God sets the mountain on fire for a tribunal of justice; there is a trumpet whose voice waxes louder and louder; by all which God doth, as it were, summon them to compear before him. There are dreadful thunderclaps to carry the sentence of death to their hearts; there are lightnings, by the glancings of which they read the wrath of God against sinners. Yet they must not touch the mountain, lest they be consumed, to teach them how sin had laid the bar as to access to God. This fills them with terror and fear of death, and now they feel

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the necessity of a mediator; Exod. xx. 19, "And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." And yet, after all, "O that there were such an heart in them!"

We are now,

II. To shew wherein this trifling and slight work in such a weighty business does appear.

(1.) It appears in persons engaging themselves to the Lord, without being at pains to prepare themselves, and bring up their hearts. to the duty. O what a light thing do most people make of covenanting with God! It is but the saying of a word in prayer; and this is soon said. It is but taking the sacrament; and this is soon done. In the meantime, the heart, like Abraham's ass, is left at the foot of the hill; Gen. xxii. 5, Matt. xv. 8, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." They are strangers to God who are strangers to heart-work. They who find no difficulty in bringing their hearts to duties, do not bring them to them at all. The true Christian finds much difficulty in this. "I find," says Paul, "a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me." It is but trifling to give the hand to the Lord, while the heart is far from any due concern about the business, and from that solemn seriousness requisite to get it rightly managed. This appears,

(2.) When people engage themselves to the service of the Lord, but do not give their hearts to him. Many engage with the Lord, as a married servant with a master; the master is to get his service, but another has his heart; Jer. xii. 2, "Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins." The heart may remain glued to lusts, while the soul pretends to be engaging itself to the Lord; and if it were not so, there would not be such a sad account of many who covenant with God. This is but to trifle with God, who requires the heart, or nothing; Prov xxiii. 26, "My son, give me thine heart." Jer. xxx. 21, "For who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord." It is an ill-made second marriage, when there is neither the death of, nor a divorce from the first husband. There is no right engaging with the Lord, but where the soul forsakes all others for him, and the heart takes up its eternal rest in Christ. This trifling appears,

(3.) When people have any secret reserves in their closing with Christ, as is the case when the heart is not well content to take Christ with whatsoever may follow this choice: Luke xiv. 26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,


and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." There is none make right work here, but those who, weighing all things, are content to put a blank in Christ's hand, saying, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" Acts ix. 6. They do but trifle who have their right hand sins which they wish not cut off, for they will in this case mar the bargain; and also those who cannot digest that tribulation which is in the way to the kingdom. No cross, no crown. That heart which is not reconciled to the cross, is not such an heart as is required. This trifling appears,


(4.) When people overlook the Mediator in their covenant of peace with God, but transact with God for peace and pardon without respect to the atoning blood of Christ. It is natural to all men to come immediately to God without a Mediator; Exod. xix. 8, " And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do." They are thus for coming without a Mediator, till the terror of God correct their rashness, and they see what a consuming fire God is, and that, if they would be safe, they must come to him under the covert of Christ's wings. If a soul sincerely desires to come to God, the first person to which they must go, is to Christ, the secretary of heaven. For "by him we have access into that grace wherein we stand," Rom. v. 2. And he is "the Mediator of the new covenant," Heb. xii. 24. God out of Christ is a consuming fire. But there are beasts that will touch the mountain, though they be thrust through with a dart. Would you transact with God a covenant of reconciliation? then go to him on the mercy-seat? not the seat of mercy merely for mercy's sake, such a mercy-seat has no being in heaven, but only in the vain imaginations of men on earth; but to the mercy-seat for Christ's sake, where mercy is abundantly distributed with the cordial consent of justice: 2 Cor. v. 19. "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." It is to God as vailed with flesh, that the guilty can only approach; otherwise it is but trifling. For Jesus is "the way, and no man cometh to the Father but by him," John xiv. 6.

(5.) This is turned into solemn trifling with God, by people's not taking Christ for all, but only for making up that of which they may come short; thus endeavouring to patch up a garment of their own righteousness and of his together. Thus many think to please God, by doing what they can to fulfil the law, and looking to Christ to make up that of which they come short. It was forbidden, under the law, to wear a garment of divers sorts of woollen and linen together And they will find themselves befooled, who will adventure their

salvation on this party-coloured garment: Gal. iii. 12, " And the law is not of faith; but the man that doth them shall live in them." A garment pieced up of sundry sorts of righteousness, is not meet for the court of heaven. That heart which would share the glory betwixt Christ and the man himself, is not right with God, and will be left to its own weight.-This trifling appears,

(6.) By persons making a covenant of works with Christ; the tenor thereof is, that if Christ will save their souls, they shall serve him as long as they live. If Christ will give them wages, they will give him work. If he will pay their debt, they shall be his servants, while they have breath in them. And upon this, men may take the sacrament to bind them the faster. And thus, I fear, many make sad work at sacraments and other ordinances. That this is but solemn trifling with God, appears, if ye consider, that this is a covenant which hath no warrant in the word of God, and therefore Christ will never set his seal to it, though we should seal it with our blood. It is quite opposite to the covenant of grace; the design of which is to draw the sinner into the debt of free grace, and to set the crown only on Christ's head, Rom. iv. 14-16, and xi. 6. The covenant of grace, is an everlasting covenant; once in, never out: Isa. Iv. 3, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." But this is a tottering covenant, broken every day. This is a servile covenant, to give Christ service for salvation. The other is a filial covenant, where the soul takes Christ and salvation freely offered, and so is a son: "For to as many as believed on him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, John, i. 11. Therefore, they do not serve, that they may get the inheritance; but because the inheritance is theirs, therefore they serve, Gal. iv. 24. and downwards. To take hold of God's covenant, is for a poor empty-handed sinner to come and live freely on Christ; this is to come and buy from him. In order to bring this charge home, I shall mention some evidences of the above practice.-Such as,

(1.) Persons looking upon, and making use of the sacrament only as seals of their vows, and not as seals of God's promises. I do not say but the sacrament is a seal, to seal our engagement to be the Lord's; but this is but the one half, and even the least half as I take it, 1 Cor. x. 16. Why then do people so overlook this, but because, not being shaken out of themselves, they look more to the confirming of their resolutions, than their faith and communion with Christ in his fulness?

(2.) A second evidence is, persons coming to the Lord in this ordinance, rather to engage themselves to duties, than to get strength for the performance of them.

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