« AnteriorContinua »
leaves us a space as yet, to see what we will do, and what will become of us. I will give them a trial, saith God, the decree shall not yet go forth, judgment shall not yet come forth to execution, I will give them a space for repentance. And this consideration hath a double corroboration of this blessed space and season God hath given us for to apply ourselves so far to his call, as to remove his judgments that are impending over us.
(1.) The first is, that he hath reserved a remnant among us, that do make use of this space and season to apply themselves unto the throne of grace, and to cry mightily for mercy. God hath not taken his Holy Spirit from us. God hath not said by any open work, or secret intimation of providence, Pray no more for this people; my heart shall not be toward them.' He hath not said so; and therefore, there are yet among us precious souls, who do lift up prayers to God night and day, not only for themselves and families, not only for the church of God, but for this poor land of our nativity, that, if it were the will of God, we may not see it soaked in blood; that God would not come forth to destroy it with a curse; that God would pity, and spare, and have mercy upon it; that he would not make it an aceldama,' 'a field of blood,' There are many cries to God to this purpose. So that there are some, by whom this space and season God hath given us, is made use of.
(2.) It hath strength from this, that there is an invitation. and encouragement given to the whole nation, to join together in their cries to God this day for the same end and purpose. I confess to you, give me leave to speak it, I am afraid the body of the nation, considering their conduct in this sort of duty, will make no great work of it, towards the averting of judgments in such a day as this is. And I am afraid also, that the approaching carnival, or time of feasting, will quickly blot out all impressions that ought to be in the minds of men from such a day as this is. This is all I can say, God is publicly acknowledged, and what influence that may have in a farther suspension of judgment, till the nation be better prepared to seek unto him, I know not.
Methinks these are evidences (to me they are) that England is not yet utterly forsaken of the Lord its God: the miraculous discovery of the plot for our destruction: the
pursuit of it by some of our rulers, and the body of the nation: the embroilment of foreign nations in their own concerns: the preservation of the political interest and body, when all the ligaments of law, and love, and trust were dissolved the space and season that God gives us, that we are not immediately hurried into blood and confusion, attended with a spirit of prayer in some of God's own people: and with a public acknowledgment of God in this day in the nation.
III. I should now proceed to my last thing, to shew you, that in this state, wherein a land is so filled with sin, as absolutely to put the determination of all things into the hand of sovereignty, and where yet there remains some evidences that God hath not utterly forsaken us, what is required of us, what is expected from us, that may be a means to turn away the wrath and displeasure of God from this poor land and nation.
I should have spoken to the following things:
1. That whatsoever be the language of God's calls, unless there be a general compliance with them, this land cannot be saved.
2. I should have shewn you, that all the diligence, and the courage, and the watchfulness of the rulers, shall not be able to preserve us from that destruction which we have deserved; unless something else be done ere long, their hearts will faint, and their hands fail, and their thoughts be divided. For that alone will not do.
3. Prayer will not do in this case, though that be necessary and required, it will not do it. God doth not cry to us merely that we should cry to him. 'Why criest thou,' said God to Joshua, 'there is an accursed thing.' Why dost thou lie upon thy face, and cry, and pray, when judgment is coming upon you? There is an accursed thing got among you. It is so with us.
To speak very plain in a plain case; the state of this nation is such, let our expectation and our hopes be what they will, and prognostics be multiplied, God can multiply upon another hand: the case of this nation is such, that without repentance evidenced, and universal reformation sincerely endeavoured, England cannot be saved, will not be saved; God will forsake it, destruction from the Lord will overtake us.
5. I should have told you also what I judge indispensably necessary that any such reformation may be obtained in this nation. As,
(1.) That there be, through the providence of God, provided another manner of administration of the word throughout the nation, than at present there is, which is the only means of conviction, and conversion unto God. Signs, and wonders, and judgments terrify; it is the word that must reform and turn to God. And if the state of things continue so, that some who are able and wise for the work are forbid, and others, that engross all to themselves, are either unable, or negligent in it; I have no great hopes of seeing reformation in this land.
(2.) Unless the generality of magistrates be better principled for, and better instructed in, their office, than as yet they seem to be, a reformation will not be carried through this nation. And,
(3.) Which is the principal; that those who have been examples in sinning, and in drawing others to sin, become examples in repenting, and reforming, and turning to God.
(4.) Lastly, that the whole nation be stirred up, and do not faint in the pursuit of it.
I have scarce been able to speak the heads of these things unto you. I wish I had strength to speak all that is in my thoughts and heart upon this matter, unto this whole nation; for hereon, and not on any think else, depends the deliverance and safety of it.
NATURE AND BEAUTY OF GOSPEL WORSHIP.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.— EPHES. ii. 18.
IN the foregoing verses the apostle makes mention of a double reconciliation, wrought by the blood of the cross; the one of the Jews and Gentiles unto God; the other of the same persons one to another. There were two things in the law. First, Worship instituted under it. Secondly, The curse annexed unto it. The first of these being appropriated to the Jews, with an exclusion of the Gentiles, was the cause of unspeakable enmity and hatred between them. The latter, or the curse falling upon both, was a cause of enmity between God and both of them. The Lord Jesus Christ, in his death removing both these, wrought and effected the twofold reconciliation mentioned. First, He brake down the ་ middle wall of partition between us,' ver. 14. and so 'made both one;' that is, between us,' the Jews and Gentiles. He hath taken away all cause of difference that should hinder us to be one in him. And how hath he done this? By taking away the law of commandments contained in ordinances,' ver. 15. that is, by abolishing that way of worship which was the Jews' privilege and burden, from which the Gentiles were excluded; so breaking down that wall of partition. Secondly, By the cross at his death he slew the enmity, or took away the curse of the law; so reconciling both Jews and Gentiles unto God, as ver. 16. By bearing the curse of the law he reconciled both unto God; by taking away and abolishing the worship of the law he took away all grounds of difference amongst them.
Upon this reconciliation ensueth a twofold advantage or privilege: an access into the favour of God, who before was at enmity with them; and a new and more glorious way of
approaching unto God in his worship, than that about which they were before at difference among themselves.
The first of these is mentioned, Rom. v. 2. And that, which is there called, an access into this grace wherein we stand,' may in the text be called, an access unto the Father: that is, the favour and acceptance with God which we do enjoy. Thus our access unto God is our sense of acceptance with him upon the reconciliation made for us by Jesus Christ. But this seems not to me to be the special intendment of the text; for that access unto God here mentioned, seems to be the effect of the reconciliation of the Jews and Gentiles among themselves: by the abolishing of the ceremonial worship, a new and more glorious way of worship being now provided for them both in common, is there expressed. Before the reconciliation made, one party alone had the privilege of the carnal worship then instituted; but now both parties have in common such a way of worship, wherein they have immediate access unto God; in which the apostle asserts the beauty and glory of the gospel worship of Jews and Gentiles above that, which enjoyed by the Jews, was a matter of separation and division between them. And this appears to be the intendment of the words from ver. 17. That which is here asserted, is not an immediate effect of the [reconciliation made by the blood of Christ on the cross, but of his preaching peace unto, and calling both Jews and Gentiles, gathering them unto himself, and so to the worship of God: being called by the word of peace, both the one and the other, as to our worship, we have this
And the following words, to the end of the chapter, do make it yet more plain and evident. Sundry things doth the apostle, upon the account of this their access unto God, speak of the Gentiles.
First, Negatively, that they are no more strangers and foreigners,' ver. 19. that is, that they are not so in respect of the worship of God, as in that state and condition wherein they were before their calling, through a participation of the reconciliation made by the blood of Christ. The apostle had declared, ver. 11, 12. they were the uncircumcision, aliens, foreigners; that is, men who had no share in, nor admittance unto, the solemn worship of God, which was em