Imatges de pÓgina

are not bettered, they are made worse by it. I believe there was never a generation more disposed to root out serious godliness from the earth, than that which this time affords. Among the fashionable people of the age, religion is become almost quite out of fashion. Ministers and professors, through long ease, have gathered much mud, they need to be emptied from vessel to vessel. And it seems that judgment, as ordinary, must begin at the house of God, to purge it, and prepare the nations for a more dreadful vengeance ; so that it is probable it will be brought to this ere long-suffer or sin. Consider,

(3.) That it is not easy to stand in a time of trial. Many will venture to sea in a fair day, that will never abide a storm. Many tall cedars have been blown up from the root by the wind of persecation, and they who have stood firmest, their towering branches have been made to sweep the ground. Be not over confident; though you have endured a storm already, there may be a harder yet before you, Heb. x. 34, compared with chap. xii. 4. There is need,

, then, to be preparing.—Consider,

(4.) That this will fit you for it. When the things of the world hang loose about us, like Joseph's mantle, and Satan, by the hands of wicked men, seizes them, to draw us to him by them, they will slip off, and we will leave them in their hand, and so escape, as he did. They who are standing ready to encounter, will resist the enemy, while they who are surprised will fall into confusion. It is a sad thing to feel trouble before we see it, to be past hope before we have any fear. Troubles that find men secure, ordinarily leave them desperate.

Mor. 2. A postacy and defection from God in a trying time, is dreadful and dangerous : Heb. x. 38, “ Now the just sball live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." God punishes men of this description oftentimes remarkably. How has a spirit of defection been followed in the fearful judgment of God with a spirit of persecution; for when God departs, the spirit is imbittered. As the sharpest vinegar is made of the most generous wine, so apostate professors ofttimes become the bitterest persecutors. Besides, their gifts often wither, and dry up. It has also often been seen, that they have quickly lost their all dishonourably, who have gone out of God's way to save it, while they who have walked honestly, have walked surely. Dreadful above ex

, pression will their doom be, if they get not grace to repent: Matth. x. 33, “ Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Bat, Heb. x. 32,“ Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye wore illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions."

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3. The truths and ways of God are more worth than the whole of what we have to lose for them. It is a general rule : Prov. xxiii. 23, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” The profane spirits of some influence their slighting some less truths of religion; and they imagine, after doing so, that they are secure from suffering, while the foundation points remain untouched. If these men valued their bodies as little as they do the truths of God, they would, in like manner, allow you to cut and mangle them as you please, provided ye did not stab them in the heart: but they who value fundamental truths, because of Christ's stamp upon them, will not dare to give up with circumstantial truths which they know, seeing they also bear the same impression of divine authority; so that it is a bold venture for a man, on any pretence, to quit the word of Christ's patience in a time of trial, and to step out of God's way: for he leaves his soul in pawn for it, which is of more worth than all he has in a world; and it is one to a thousand, if ever he has power to come back, and redeem it by repentance.

Mot. 4. Death is approaching, and then you must part with all you have in the world. Cleave as fast as you will to these things, you must let go your hold at length. The serious consideration of the shortness of our time, the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time of it, would discover to us, that the whole we can make by turning aside from God's way in a time of trial, is not worth our trouble, not worth the going off our road for it; for it may be, what is refused for Christ may quickly be taken from you at death. I am sure we will never part so easily with what we have, as when we sit loose to it. Ripe fruit falls off the tree with a shake, when the unripe must be rent off. When the heart is loosed from what we have in the world, it is easy parting with it, by what it is when the heart holds by it till it be forced from it.-Nothing is ever parted with so honourably, as when it is parted with for Christ. No thanks to you that you part with what you have, when God takes it from you whether

you will or not. It is honourable to forsake the world at Christ's call, for Christ's sake, before we be forsaken of the world.

Mot. 5. You will be no losers at Christ's hands. If you quit with them now to Christ, he probably will let you keep them, and accept of your will for the deed. This was the case with Abraham, when called to offer up Isaac; and with David when it was in his heart to build a house to the Lord. Thus you will have them with his blessing and favour. If he take them from you, without them you will get a throughbearing: Psalm xxxvii. 3, " Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” A little served up to you from the promise, and brought to your hand by a particular providence, will have a double sweetness in it. That bread will not be lost which is thrown upon these waters; after many days you shall find it: Matth. xix. 29,

“ And

every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or wife, or children, or lande, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” Himself will be to you instead of all, and better than all here; and heaven will fully make up all hereafter.

If any shall say, " But, O! I fear I shall never be able to carry through,” I would say to such, You know that the foundation of your throughbearing is laid, if your heart be loosed from all things besides Christ, and if he be dearer to you than what is dearest to you in a world : Psalm xlv. 10, 11, “ Hearken, 0 daughter, and consider, and ipeline 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.” When the king thus greatly desires thy beauty; he will see to preserve it; John X. 28, 29,"I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave thein me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” You have taken him for all, and it lies upon his honour to see you carried through. Live by faith, and draw your daily supplies from him : Hab. ii. 4, "The just shall live by his faith.” Isa. xl. 31," They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Amen.




Hos. vi. 3, Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. It is an observation of Soloman's, Prov. xii. 27, “ The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting.” Men are at some pains to get something, but when they have got it, they let it slip through their fingers. Hence our religion, good frames, attainments, resolutions, &c. turn to small account. We are at some pains to acquire something when attending divine ordinances, but then we put it in


Delivered at Tweedsmuir, April, 1712.

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a bag with holes. Now, the text tells us how to remedy this loss, and to bring our religion to some good account: and that is, when once our hand is in, to follow on eagerly : “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”—In these words consider,

1. What is the sum and substance of all religion. It is “ the knowledge of the Lord,” that is, the practical knowledge of him, who can only be truly known in Jesus Christ. That thus the knowledge of the Lord is here to be understood, is evident, not only from the nature of the thing, but from other scriptures : John xvii. 3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." See also Hos. vi. 6; Jer. xxii. 16.- Consider,

2. The beginning of religion supposed. This is supposed in the particle then, namely, when we have turned to the Lord ; and likewise in following on to know the Lord.—Consider,

3. The pursuit of religion, or the knowledge of the Lord proposed. We shall follow on, if we shall not content ourselves with the measare attained, but go on still farther, improving the beginnings. (Heb. pursue), which is an eager sort of following, as is the case when we follow a fleging enemy.—Consider,

4. The benefit of this pursuit : “ Then shall we know," we shall thrive in our religion, get a larger measure of it even of a practical experimental knowledge of the Lord. We shall be still adding a cubit to our spiritual stature. The more we pursue, the more we will gain.-From this subject, I observe the following

DOCTRINE, That the way to thrive in religion is to follow on, to pursue, to hold our hand to it, when once our hand is in it.

It is evident, this is a day in which there is little thriving in religion. It is long since the generation began to weary of God, and professors to decline ; yet sometimes there is a blowing up of the spark, but, alas ! it dies always out again. Sometimes people look so well when attending upon ordinances, we would almost think it was a pity they should ever go from them; but when they are away, and the communion-frame has worn off, they look so ill, that one would think it was a pity that ever they should come to them again. We would show you how to prevent this; and, that things may apply the more closely to your consciences, I shall,

I. Shew who they are whom we may call to follow on.

II. I shall show what it is to follow on, or how you must hold your hand to religion, that you may thrive in it, now that your hand is in it.

III. I shall confirm the doctrive, and shew you, that it is the truo way to thrive ; and the belief of it would be a great spur to diligence. Then,

IV. Conclude with the improvement of the subject.
We are then,
I. To show who they are whom we may call to follow on.

There are some we cannot call to follow on, because they have not yet stirred a foot in religion. There are some who, for all that they have heard and seen, are quite stupid and unconcerned, lying asleep in their chains; they have no good motions on their spirits, and feel no concern for the want of them. Our text calls us to leave you, but a word or two before we part.

1. What would you think, if you saw the showers of heaven, after a great drought, fall all around your land upon your neighbour's ground, but not one drop on yours ? would you not think you were the mark at which God aims his arrow ? Now, what can you think of yourselves, when God touches the hearts of others about you, but never touches yours? when he goes by you, and comes by you, speaks to those on your right hand and on your left, but not a word to you? Does not that look very like what is in Hos. iv. 17, “ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone." To see a tree in the winter without leaves, is nothing; but in the spring, when all is flourishing about it, such a tree is fit for the axe, and is near to the fire.

2. Do you think the world will always last with you ? will you always sleep in a sound skin ? Nay, sooner or later you shall get an awakening, in mercy or in wrath : Isa. xxxii. 9, 10, “ Rise up, yo women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters, give ear unto my speech. Many days and years sball yo be troubled, yo careless women ; for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.” If you should sleep it out all your days, you shall at last awaken, Luke xvi. God will one time or another take the filthy garments of your sins, wrap them up in brimstone, and set them on fire about your ears.

But there are several sorts of persons, whose hands we may say are now in their work : and their business is to pursue.-Such as,

1. There may be some whom the King has brought into his chambers, and assured them of his love, and they have got the covenant sealed, not only with the public seal of the sacrament, but the private seal of the Spirit. Your business is to follow on, and improve the precious season for the church of God, and for yourselves : Exod. xxxiv. 8, 9, “ And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us.”

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