Imatges de pàgina
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upon earth ; his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool, he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes. He casteth forth bis ice like morsels, who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word and melteth them: He causeth his wind to blow and the waters flow.” Ps. civ. 29, 30. “ Thou hidest thy face, they are trouvled : Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created : and thou renewest the face of the earth." These as all other great works whatsoever, they are the Lord's. Nothing is done without him. Lam. iii. 37. “Who is he that saith and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not ?" Ps. cxxxvi. 4. “To him, who alone does great wonders.” Hence in consideration of this, let the Lord's people say as they, Jer. xiv. 22. “ Art thou not he, O Lord our God ? therefore we will wait upon thee : for thou hast made all these things.

Concl. II. God's dispensations many times to this or that people, are very signal. Plain demonstrations of his favor, kindness, grace and good will to them. He does more for one nation or people many times, a great deal, than he does for another. Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. " He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation.” He not only prospers them in the world above others, but makes known and gives forth more of himself as to visible dispensations and outward means and advantages for heaven than he does to others. Thus signally did God dispense to Seth, in whose family and race the worship of God and the visible adoption and covenant was continued. Gen. iv. 26. " And to Seth, to him also there was born a son—then began men to call upon

the name of the Lord.” Or to be distinguished by calling upon, or being called by the name of the Lord : religious worship being especially attended in Seth's family, when lost by others, hence those of his posterity (though they afterward degenerated) are called the sons of God, and so distinguished from the daughters of men.

Gen. vi. 2. “ That the sons of God saw the daughters of men." Thus signally did God dispense to Noah, who (when all the world besides were overthrown with a deluge of waters) found grace in the eyes of the Lord and is saved with his house in the ark. Gen. vi. 8, and vii. 23. “And every living substance was destroyed, which was upon the face of the ground, both man and cattle and the creeping things and the fowl of the heaven, and they were destroyed from the earth, and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." To Abraham also, whom God separated from his idolatrous kindred, he revealed himself most graciously to, made of him a great nation, appropriated blessing to him, and to them that should bless him, and cursing to them that should curse him. Gen. xii. 1—3. “Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee : and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Josh. xxiv. 2, 3. • Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor; and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan and multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac.” Most signal were the dispensations of God to the children of Israel, whom God chose out of all people to be a peculiar people to himself, to bear his name in the world, to dwell in his presence, to be betrusted with all the ordinances of his house and visible kingdom, to have God nigh to them in all that which they called upon him for, to work wonderfully and gloriously for them in all their necessities and difficulties. Exod. xix. 3—6. “ And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel : Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto myself. Now therefore if ye obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people : for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. Deut. xxvi. 18, 19. “ And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments. And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor, and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.” Deut. iv. 7. “ For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for.” Signal also were the Lord's dispensations to, and so the privileges and advantages of those places where our Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh did mostly converse, preach, and do his mighty works, viz. the region of Galilee and cities thereabout. Matt. iv. 23. 6 And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom; and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” The like favor was afterwards shown to those places where Christ's apostles and evangelists were sent in his name, by his order, and with his authority to publish and preach the gospel of salvation, beginning at Jerusalem, and passing through the regions of Judea and Samaria to Cesarea, Damascus, Joppa, Lydda and Saron, Cyprus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, and a great part of Asia ; and at length in Europe, to Macedonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, &c. And since the apostles' days, some nations, and several countries and bodies of people have been by divine dispensation not only privileged with the gospel; but God hath to many places and people wrought wonderfully for the bringing of it to, or settling them under the enjoyment of it, or for the continuance of it to them. Ecclesiastical history may give us many instances of this nature. And we in New England (who should if God persuade us so, look upon ourselves as less than the least of all God's sincere people) have been behind but few in the signalness of God's dispensations to us in these respects as this place and these solemnities have often borne us witness. I mean not only, that the solemnities themselves have been witnesses, but also that upon them, frequent, plain and full reports have been made of the Lord's wonderful and gracious dealings with this people. Ps. Ixxvii. 14, 15, 19, 20, and cxi. 6. “He hath showed his people the power of his works : that he may give them the heritage of the heathen."

Concl. III. These works and dispensations of God, though admirable and obliging to men ; yet they are no certain evidence of a person's or people's special and entire acceptance with God. As to the works of creation and external Providence, the benefit of them is common to all the inhabitants of the world.

« God makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” Matt. v. 45. It is true, the Lord doth sometimes visibly bless the righteous, and blast the wicked; but this is not so constant and perpetual, as that any man can merely from hence infallibly know love or hatred to be in God to him by all that is before him. Things fall out alike to all here ; and there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked. Eccl. ix. 1, 2. And as to signal dispensations of visible favor and spiritual privileges; what God hath done, or is doing, in giving and continuing his gospel, worship and ordinances, this though a great advantage and hopeful token, yet cannot always be a concluding mark of special favor and of the appearance of divine salvation. For

1. They may be abused by the corruptions and sinful neglects of men. True grace in a saint is not subject to a total abuse, but every other thing, even the most glorious enjoyments and privileges men have in this life, may be abused. Men may (and would to God there were none here that did so !) live under the most clear gospel light, in the pure, peaceable, free enjoyment of gospel order and ordinances, be obliged by manifold kindnesses from God, themselves have great knowledge in religion, and make high profession with much criticalness therein; and yet live in some sin

openly or secretly, be enslaved to some base defiling lust, wherewith they may not only pollute themselves, but others also. Let the heaven hear and the earth give ear, let them be astonished at it, be horribly afraid, and be very desolate, for it may be found that they whom God hath nourished and brought up as his children, do rebel against him ; that the Lord's own people do forsake him the fountain of living waters, and go to empty or muddy cisterns. As the Lord emphatically complains of them in Isa. i. 2, and Jer. ii. 12, 13. Privileged professors, professors in New England may be discovered to be sinners ; soine to be proud, haughty, high-minded, supercilious, self-exalting, arrogant; others to be sensual, intemperate, corrupt, fleshly, lascivious ; some to be company-keepers, to sit and spend time with vain persons; others to be covetous, unjust, oppressing, defrauding and overreaching others; some to be revilers, railers, ungoverned in their speeches and expressions ; others to be despisers of that which is good, &c.

Moreover, there may be, under such enjoyments, grievous and horrible neglects, receiving the grace of God in gospel offers and means of salvation) in vain, woful formality and slightiness in holy duties, men not stirring up themselves to seek God, resting in a name to live : Carnal confidence in privileges and former visible enjoyments of divine favor. Jer. vii. 4. Want of zeal for God, his service and glory, against sin : too great indulgence to sin and sinners, in compliance with the laxness, looseness and spirit of the times, unaffectedness with, and unreclaimedness under the loudspeaking voice of God's dispensations. Zeph. iii. 1, 2, 5–7.

Wo to her that is filthy and polluted to the oppressing city. She obeyed not the voice : she received not correction : she trusted not in the Lord : she drew not near to her God.-The just Lord is in the midst thereof,-every morning doth he bring his judgments to light, he faileth not, but the unjust knoweth no shame. I have cut off the nations :- I said, surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction-but they arose early and corrupted all their doings."

2. Such offences in a people are not secured from provoking God's displeasure and drawing down punishment by any signal dispensations, such a people have been under. However near any have been lift up to heaven by mercies, this Evdov to xaxov,this sin within will tumble them down again, Obad. 3. 4. And the holy oracles of truth tell us, that corruptions and neglects after and under such signal dispensations, (1.) They do more provoke divine displeasure. God is more offended with the miscarriages of such as he hath brought near to himself than with others. It is in God's account an aggravation of sin. Deut. xxxii. 19. " And when the Lord saw it he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters.” And therefore (2.) They do expose to greater and sorer punishment. Thus Christ told Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, Matt. xi. 20—24. And the Lord by his prophets told Jerusalem and Judah, and according as he foretold, so he executed upon Jerusalem and Judah, that they are an instance for the proof of this proposition: They had received much from God, none more in their day, yet through their sin lost all the signs and tokens of God's favor, and fell under the severe effects of his displeasure. As their case is lamentably described, and you may read in Lam. ii. 3—9. The churches of Asia also and other churches (among whom, as golden candlesticks the Son of Man sometimes gloriously walked) through their degeneracy and sin, have lost all, been overthrown and sunk into ruin.

Concl. IV. There is that which is a certain evidence and standing trial of a person's and people's acceptation with God. God has not left men altogether in the dark, and at uncertainty in this matter : But has told us to whom he will look in favor and with mercy. Though privileges will not, yet there are qualifications which will infallibly evidence special favor. We need not be at a loss if we will consult and study the divine will, what we may depend upon for his acceptation and salvation. The spiritually wise do understand, and the prudent do know these things; what course is to be taken that they may stand before the Lord, have his presence with, and grace towards them. If men be so qualified as the word of God declares and requires; he will save them from trouble, or at least he will be with them when in outward trouble, and support them therein ; and he will everlastingly save them. There are a number or sort of people whom God does bear a favor to, to whom good belongs, who shall rejoice with gladness and shall glory. Ps. cvi. 4. 5. “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people : O visit me with thy salvation ; that I may see the good of thy chosen ; that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance. Whom God will bless and compass with favor as a shield.” Ps. v. 12. “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous, with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”

Concl. V. The standing trial of a person's and so a people's acceptation with God, is their being of a poor and contrite spirit, and trembling at his word. The text is plain and peremptory for this, from the Lord's own mouth : What is signified by these expressions, was shown in the opening of the words. In sum, they imply the meek, humble and lowly, the evangelically poor, contrite and tremblers at God's word.

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