Imatges de pÓgina


them when I depart from them," Hos. ix. 12. Who can tell the ills the sinner is exposed unto, when once sin separates between God and him. Saul felt a total separation; and what a desperate project did it set him upon! Job felt a partial separation, which was so heavy, that his soul choosed strangling and death, rather than life," Job vii. 15.

4. Nay, it is a very hell to be separated from God. Therefore David complains, “ that the sorrows of death compassed him, and that the pains of hell got hold upon him," Psalm cxvi. 3. Even coals of hell are cast upon the godly in this world, when their sins have made this separation; only they are softened with love, whereas those cast upon the wicked are dipped in the poison of the curse. Men by their sins now greedily sue out a separation from God. What will hell be, but a giving them their will? For the torments of hell are summed up in that, “ Depart from me, I know you not.”

5. I shall only add, that those that continue in a state of separation from God, have no quarter to which they can turn for comfort in an evil day. We know not what sad trials we may live to

When men that are seeking great things for themselves now, may think they are come well to, if they get Baruch's part, their life for a prey; but for a man to be in Samson's case, the Philistines upon him, and God departed from him, must be heavy indeed. We must all die : this we know. Let a man squeeze his cisterns, then, with which he now solaces himself in his separation from God, what will they do for him ? they will not be able to stay his fleeting and fainting soul. We must rise again. Will the gods ye now serve, help you then? Will the sea, the rocks, or mountains, fall on him, will the earth cover him, who, to enjoy it, incurred a separation from God? No, no! O ungrateful earth, that the man consumed time, heart, and strength upon, while his days lasted, that will not take part with him, now when he is not able to do for himself. We must stand before his tribunal, and come near before his throne for judgment, whose presence we now forfeit for the satisfying of our lusts. What will comfort us then, when we see we have passed this partial state of separation from God, as a short prefaco to an eternal separation from him.

III. I am now to inquire, how sin makes this separation betwixt God and a soul?

1. There is the guilt of sin, whereby the sinner is bound over to misery for his sin. God, from vindicative justice, acts against the wicked; and this justice of his naturally requires punishment to be inflicted on the sinner, according to the law. Hence, when Adam sinned, a flaming sword was set to keep him off from the tree of life. The enjoyment of God is the greatest good ; now, justice will not permit this, while guilt remains untaken away: and therefore, separation from God necessarily follows. As to the godly, by their guilt they are bound over to fatherly anger and chastisements, whereof that partial separation from God is the chief part.

2. There is the stain and defilement of sin. Now, God is of purer eyes than to behold evil. An unholy sinner cannot have communion with a holy God; and in regard that some are altogether polluted, they are therefore altogether separated from God. Others are only in part polluted, by reason of some one or more sips regarded in their hearts; therefore are under that partial separation, Psalm lxvi. 18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The leper, for his uncleanness, was put without the camp; so is the sinner. They only are admitted to stand in the holy place, who have clean hands and a pure heart, Psalm xxiv. 4. Hence says James, chap. iv. 8, “ Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you: cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”—It remains,

IV. That I make some practical improvement from this subject. We have,

1. An use of information. We may hence see, (1.) That it is sin which makes a land weak, mean, and contemptible, and is the cause of all national calamity; for sin separates between them and their God. Then their strength is departed from them; and therefore, though the people should unite with one another, there is little good to be expected so long as such abominations abound in the land, setting God against us. O that we might see the day, when, uniting with heaven, we might be zealously affected in reformation; and the heaven-daring abominations that abound, in principle and practice, be zealously suppressed. But every one minds their own things, few the things that are Christ's. (2.) Why so few have communion with God in ordinances, public, private, and secret. Are there not many at public ordinances dead and lifeless, sitting like idols that have eyes and see not, liands but handle not? Why, sin has separated between God and them. Hence they go as they came; no intercourse with God. The Lord goes by them, and comes by them, speaks to the hearts of others, but not to them. They cannot walk together; for they are not agreed. (3.) Why so many slight religious duties? Some will not bow a knee to God; they will not commune with their hearts, nor converse with God. Sin hath separated them; and what pleasure can they take to converse with an enemy, or one that has turned his back to them? Hence some are not afraid of any company so much as themselves; and therefore, if their consciences begin to speak, they labour some way or other to divert it. (4.) Whence is the root or cause of all the misery professors are lying under at this day? Security, barrenness, withering, desertion, and the like. What wonder that it be so ? They may thank themselves for the whole. It is their dallying with somo bosom idol, their grieving the Spirit, and slighting his motions and convictions, their worldliness and unwatchfulness : these are the root, the cause of all their misery.

2. A use of exhortation. (1.) To those who enjoy nearness to God. Obeware of sin! If ye give way to it, it will soon turn your wine into water, and overcloud your enjoyments. Live at a distance from it; for it is the very thing from which you are in such great hazard. (2.) To those who are by their sins separated from God. Break off your course of sin, continue not in it. Is not the separation wall high enough, and thick enough already? what needs more be added? What shall you do to get the separation taken away?-Lay hold on the Lord Jesus by faith, Isa. xxvii. 5, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Jesus is the ladder that knits heaven and earth together. It is by him that God reconciles the world to himself. His blood takes away both guilt and pollution. It purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Though God hears not sinners, yet in Christ he is well pleased; and through him they may find access to, and acceptance with him. He is our peace: he is the Mediator between God and man. Repent, and turn from your sins. There is no concord between Christ and Belial. To enjoy both God and your lasts is impossible; ye shall as soon bring together the two poles. However some make a mock of sin now, yet it has separated, and will separate them from God eternally, if they separate not from it.




MATTH. xxi. 29, He answered and said, I will not; but afterwards he repented, and


The scope of this parable is to shew, that many who have been the vilest of sinners repent and go to heaven, when others, who, though they have a profession of religion, never go farther than a mere profession, and so fall short; partly, also, to shew that many who had been publicans and barlots are now in a better case than the chief priests and scribes. To convince of this, Christ spoke the parable before us.--For understanding of which, I would notioe, that the man in the parable represents God; the two sons, two different sorts of people among the Jews. Both had the gospel call by John the Baptist. The first of the sons points out the publicans and harlots, who, though they were formerly most vile and hopeless creatures, yet, on their hearing of John, repented, and became disciples indeed. The second represents the priests and pharisees, who, notwithstanding of their high pretences to religion, yet were indeed strangers to it, their practices did not correspond with their profession.

In the text, which concerns the first son, pointing out the penitent publicans and harlots, we have two things.

1. The sinner's first answer to the gospel call; and it is a short one; “I will not.” Like Israel, Psalm lxxxi. 11, “But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me." The sinner so loves his sinful easo, that he cannot think of the work in God's vineyard. Observe in this answer, (1.) The rudeness of it. The son remembered not that he was speaking to a father, so has not so much as a fair word to bestow on him. O the rudo treatment Christ meets with at sinners' hands! They remember not his authority over them, nor do they regard it; but they will be their own; who is Lord over them? (2.) The plainness of it. He tells the matter plainly; says not, he cannot, but lie will not. It is want of will to the work of religion that is the great stop. Sinners' hearts cannot relish the work of religion: the bent of

Delivered on Saturday, 31st July, 1714.

their hearts lies another way. (3.) The peremptoriness of it; he is at a point. The hearing of the word raises his heart against it. Let sinners hear of the work of religion, and that is enough, they desire no more of it. It is a plain case to them, they must not, they will not engage in such a task.

2. The second answer, in which the former bad answer is happily retracted; “But afterwards he repented, and went.” He complies with the call he had before refused. The spring of this was, his heart was touched; he took second thoughts of the business, and changed his mind. He fell under after grief, anxiety, and solici. tade, as the word signifies. Conscience, that was silent before, now begins to speak, and his blood begins to cool; he calmly considers what he had answered, and he calls himself beast and fool, that should have adventured so to treat his Father; and hence he takes up the work of religion, which he had before rejected. From this subject there arises this

Doct. That refusing the work of religion is not be stood to, but retracted, and the sinner will see cause for it, if ever he comes to himself. They who have refused to comply with the gospel call, to engage in the work of the Lord, should take their word again, and heartily comply with it; and if ever they be wise, they will do it.

In illustrating this point, I propose to shew,

I. What is that work to which the gospel calls, and with which sinners will not comply?

II. Why is it that sinners will not comply with this work ?
III. Why this refusal should be retracted.
IV. Make some practical improvement.

I. I am to shew, What is that work to which the gospel calls, and with which sinners will not comply? It is the work of practical godliness, to which most men are strangers. It is a large work, as extensive as the commandment, which is exceeding broad. I shall take it up in these two.

1. The gospel calls you to fall to your salvation work, Phil. ii. 12, “ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Sinners, you are in a ruined condition; your souls are pining away in your iniquities; there is a burden of guilt on you that will sink you; there is a swarm of living lusts preying on you, that will devour you. O guilty creature ! knowest thou not, that thou art God's enemy, justice's debtor, the law's criminal, and that the avenger of blood is at your heels? The gospel is calling you to consider your ways, and fall to the work of your salvation, before it be too late. This work has two parts: (1.) The work of faith, John vi. 29, “ Jesus

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