Imatges de pàgina

you rest. Psalm. lxv. 3, "Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away." The great Physician knows very well his patient comes with heart and good will, though his sickness and indisposition makes him come with a slow pace. It is trifling,

4. When the soul comes to the Lord in his covenant for peace to their consciences, but not for victory over their lusts. Many come to the Lord, as a sick man to the physician, to cure him of his wounds, but not to live upon his charges; Psalm lxxviii. 34, “When he slew them, then they sought him; and they returned and inquired early after God." They have use for the blood, not for the water, which came from the side of Jesus. This is but half-work, not heart-work. Enemies to the spirit of holiness are enemies to Christ. I never think it the best frame for a communion table when people sit down at the Lord's table chiefly for peace and comfort. A view of the King, a transforming sight which might strengthen the soul, to have this before our eyes sitting down at the feast, would certainly be most safe. To get a touch of the hem of Christ's garment, for stopping the issue of sin, will be salutary indeed. It is so,

5. When the soul accepts of conditional promises, but does not accept of and receive the Lord himself in absolute promises. This is to agree upon the less points of the covenant, and to neglect the main point, Heb. viii. 10. The great thing God offers in the gospel is Christ. He is a foolish man that would claim the benefit of the contract, while he neglects to marry the woman. It is a dreadful thing to turn the covenant of grace into a mere servile or mere social covenant, as passes betwixt neighbouring independent states. It is most properly a marriage-covenant, where the soul first takes the Lord himself, and then looks for the benefits accruing to it by the happy match. Natural men fancy a very easy covenant in,-" He that confesseth his sins, shall find mercy.-Call on me, and I will answer thee.-What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"-He will accept the will for the deed; not considering that all the promises are yea and amen in Christ; and suppose they could perform the condition of these promises, yet they could not have benefit by them while they have not the Lord Christ, dwelling, living, and reigning in them. It is solemn trifling,

Lastly, When there is not an absolute resignation of the will to the will of the Lord. This is to have reserves in our covenanting with the Lord. Man's will is the great rebel against the Lord, and must, if we make sure work, be bound hand and foot in a covenanting day. There must be a double resignation, (1.) To the precep

tive will: Rom. vi. 17, "Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you." The soul must no more snarl with duty, but be content to take on the yoke of Christ's commands. And they who are not content to stand and receive the same commands from mount Zion, which were thundered into their hearts from mount Sinai before, their hearts are not for this work. (2.) There must be resignation to the providential will of God. It has been long a question between the Lord and you, who shall be master of your process, who shall carve out your lot? Are you come to a point now? even to that point? Psalm xlvii. 4. "He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved." It is well, you are wise; for our own will, and nothing else, is our wreck.

We should now,

III. Shew how people come to make solemn covenanting but a trifling business. But for this, see the third head of doctrine first.

We proceed, then,

IV. To shew the danger of trifling, and not making heart-work of this weighty business.-This will appear if we consider,

1. That the Lord rejects the work: Mal. i. 13, "Ye said also, Behold what a weariness is it, and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts, and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering; should I accept this of your hands? saith the Lord." Whatever pains persons may be at about covenanting, the Lord has no regard to it while it is not heart-work, Isa. i. 11. It is true, you may even sign the contract, but the Lord will not subscribe it, seeing it has not the upright consent of your hearts, Psalm 1. 16, 17. You may expect the entertainment recorded, Matth. xxii. 12, "Friend, how camest thou in thither, not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless."Consider,

2. That it puts men more securely in Satan's grips than before. In this sense that holds true which you have in Isa. xxviii. 22, "Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong." Publicans and sinners will enter before these. Such are twice dead, where the devil goes out and returns with seven other spirits worse than himself. The last end of such a person is worse than his beginning. Consider,

3. That it exposes men to spiritual strokes; Jer. xlviii. 10, "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully." Deadening strokes. These are silent arrows which fly from the hand of God into the soul without noise; Isa. vi. 10, "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;

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lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." Sometimes men are like Saul among the prophets, but afterwards they are knocked in the head by the secret judgment of God, because of their hypocritical dealing with him, it may be at a communion table, in so much that they have never a day to do well after; and from that time God answers them not, but they live and rot above the ground; their hearts are deadened, their affections dozened, their gifts withered, and their souls blasted; John xv. 6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Quickening strokes, whereby the man is dreadfully alarmed, the conscience is awakened, and made like Mount Sinai, where nothing but fire and smoke appear. God takes the filthy rags of their mock covenanting, wraps them in brimstone, and sets them in fire about the sinner's ears. Their wounds which were scurfed over bleed more dreadfully, while the plaster they made will not stick. Besides these, there are strokes upon their bodies. As Nadab and Abihu, Lev. x. 1, 2. A wrong look into the ark cost the men of Bethshemesh dear, 1 Sam. vi. 19. God smote Uzzah, and he died by the ark, 2 Sam. vi. 7. And the apostle tells us, 1 Cor. xi. 30, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." Consider,

Lastly, That however quietly people may get it carried in life, it will bring them a sad disappointment at death. The house built on the sand fell by the storm, and great was its fall. A great fall from high hopes into deep despair; like the foolish virgins, who were unexpectedly shut out.

We are now,

V. To apply the subject. Which we shall do only in an use of exhortation.

I would then exhort one and all of you to make heart-work and sure work in your covenanting with the Lord, and not to trifle in so solemn a business. You have heard the danger you incur by trifling with it. But perhaps some will say with a whole heart, that as they are resolved to keep themselves out of harm's way, they will not come to the Lord's table. To this I would answer, Well, will you not enter into covenant with the Lord? if not, then you will never see heaven; Eph. ii. 12, "Strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Where will you appear at the great day? Psalm 1. 1-5. You must take hold of the Lord's covenant, or be damned. Sirs, if ye enter at all into this work, my exhortation reaches you. You may trifle with God upon your knees, as well as at his table. And if you be not

minded to refuse this covenant, why stand you back from the seals of it? why do you not prepare yourselves for it? why slight you this love token of our dying Lord ? I would think if you were in earnest for the covenant, you would not slight the seal of it. Make sure work then. To induce you to be serious in this weighty work, I would mention and arge the following motives.

MOT. 1. You have need to make sure work, for you have deceitful hearts to deal with, Jer. xvii. 19. Let not the bands be put on slightly, or it will soon slip them all. Therefore dig deep, by serious solemn examination of your consciences before the Lord, that you may build as on a rock.

MOT. 2. Consider the weight of the business; the business of salvation, or damnation, is not a matter to trifle with. Sirs, life and death are before you. Your eternal state lies at the stake. I bescech you then, by all that weight of glory that awaits the saints, as you would not ruin your souls which a thousand worlds cannot repair, for the loss of the soul cannot be made up, that you seriously consider the business.

MoT. 3. Consider the Lord is not trifling, but is in good earnest with you; "O that there were such a heart in them!" There is a match proposed betwixt the King of glory and the daughter of Zion, the bridegroom is willing; Rev. iii. 20, "Behold I stand at the door and knock." There is nothing wanting on his part; Matt. xxii. 4, "All things are ready, come unto the marriage." How passionately does he call for her consent in the text: And now, when the Lord is thus offering himself to you, why will you refuse or trifle with him? Here some may propose this,

OBJECTION. This is a flourish which may pass well enough in a pulpit. But, O! if the Lord were really offering himself to me, I would never refuse. To this I answer, The offer is real, though ministerial. We have our commission from our Lord to bear us out in it, and he would do the same if he were here bodily present; 2 Cor. v. 10, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God." Hence, in the days of his flesh, he offered himself both to those that did, and those that did not receive him. Consider, he said to his disciples, "He that heareth you, heareth me." We are the friends of the Bridegroom; as Abraham's servants, we are come to bring you to our Master's son. What would you have to make the offer real, if you may not take it as such from the mouth of his messengers? Would you have him leave his glory a second time, and come in person to make the offer? Or would you have him come down in his glory? If so, you know not

what you ask. It would set you better to do as Abigail, bow yourself to the earth, and humbly accept of the offer, 1 Sam. xxv. 40, 41. So real is the offer, that if you refuse, ye will be damned for the refusal; Mark xvi. 15, 16, " And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." John xvii. 20, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." See then what ye do. It is a serious business on the Lord's part, and there is a prize in your hands, which you would do well diligently to improve. Does he indeed offer himself to me? do you say? notwithstanding my unworthiness. Yea, to you, we make no scruple to offer him particularly to every one of you, the vilest of you all; Rev. iii. 20, "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It is not unworthiness, but unwillingness, that will mar the bargain; "The Spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst say, Come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely."

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ISA. XXV. 6,

And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

The prophets of old prophesied of the grace of Christ which should come unto us, 1 Pet. i. 10; and of these none more than our evangelical prophet, who, in the verse before us, foretells a rich spiritual entertainment which should be made by the Saviour Jesus Christ unto a starving world of prodigal sinners, reduced by their extravagance into extreme want. Here there is to be observed,

1. The Maker and Master of the feast, the Lord himself; it is a royal feast, with which the King of Zion entertains his own subjects. Particularly, it is the Lord Christ, the Son of God, who, pitying the

* An action-sermon, delivered June 7, 1719.

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