Imatges de pÓgina
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treacherous, let him pretend to what he will, that man's religion is in vain; he may have a form of godliness, but he hath not the power of it. This principle we shall agree

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upon.

2dly. There have been in the days wherein we live, many false professors, hypocrites, that have thought gain to be godliness, by reason of whose wicked lives, ways, and walking, the name of God hath been evil spoken of; and woe to them by whom these offences are come; but yet also woe to the world because of offences; if these offences turn off men from an esteem of the remnant of Christ in whom is his presence, woe to them also. I acknowledge these days have abounded with offences; but woe to them who are turned aside by them from owning the portion and inheritance of Christ.

3dly. It cannot be denied, but that many of them who do belong unto Christ, have wofully miscarried in these days. O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon;' oh that our souls could mourn in secret on that account, that we could go backward, and cover the nakedness and folly of one another; but alas, this hath been far from being our frame of spirit; we have every one spread the failings of his brother, before the face of men and devils; but yet notwithstanding these miscarriages, those that are the people of Christ, are his people still; and he loves them still, whether we will or no; and commonly those who are least able to bear with the miscarriages of others, have most of their

own.

4thly. That differences of judgments in civil affairs, or church matters, ought not presently to be made arguments of men not being righteous. Some men think that none are righteous that are not of their principles, than which principle there is nothing more unrighteous. Let men that differ from them walk never so holily, profess never so strictly; yet, if they are not of their mind, they are not righteous. If men are offended on such accounts, it is because they will be so.

5thly. This hath ever been the way of the men of the world; that when any have been unblamable and zealous upon the account of religion, they will attempt their reputation, though without any ground or colour, upon the account

of righteousness. So suffered the Christians of old; and so the Puritans of former days, unjustly and falsely, as God will judge and declare. The world then in this matter is not to be believed; the common reports of it are from the devil, the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them in the same manner before God night and day. These are but pretences, whereby men ignorant of the mystery of the gospel, and the power of grace harden themselves to their ruin.

6thly. This remnant of Christ with whom his presence is, who are the glory of a nation, is to be found only amongst the professors of a nation. For,

[1.] Although, of those who are professors, there may be many bad, yet of those that are not professors, there is not one good. Where there is faith there will be a profession. If I should not know well where to find them, I am sure I know where I cannot find them; I cannot find them in the ways of the world, and conformity to it; in darkness, ignorance, neglect of duty, and utter unacquaintedness with gospel truths, the gifts and graces of the Spirit; there I cannot find them; I shall not say of them, Behold the Lord's anointed,' let their outward worldly appearance be what it will. Now by the help of these considerations, those who have in themselves principles of life and light in Christ, will or may be, setting aside their temptations, enabled to discover this generation of the Lord's delight; and for others, I cannot take down the enmity that God hath set up. So then, notwithstanding this objection, I shall certainly esteem this remnant of Christ to lie among those, who having received gospel light, and gospel gifts evidently, do make also profession of gospel grace, union and communion with Christ, separation from the world, and the ways of it, in a conversation acceptable unto God in Christ; and to this portion shall I say as Ruth to Naomi, let what will be glorious, or uppermost in the world, Whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. The Lord do so to me and more also, if ought part thee and me:' with them let my portion be, and the portion of my family, whatever their lot and condition in this world should be; and the Lord say, Amen.

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[2.] But it will be said secondly, We are still at a loss; for what woful divisions are there amongst this generation

of professors? Some are for one way, and some for another; some say one sort are the people of God, some another; some say the Prelatists are so, some the Presbyterians, some the Independents, some the Anabaptists, some the Fifth Monarchy-men, some others; and on whom should the valuation pleaded for be cast?

To this I answer,

1st. Some do say so, and plead thus, it cannot be denied ; but the truth is, the greater is their weakness and folly. It is impossible men acquainted with the Spirit of Christ and the gospel, should say so, unless they were under the power of one temptation or other. But it is no party, but the party of Christ in the world, and against the world, the seed of the woman, against the seed of the serpent that I am pleading for; that men as to their interest in Christ should be judged from such denominations, as though they make a great noise in the world, yet indeed signify very little things in themselves, is most unrighteous, and unequal; nor will men find peace in such rash and precipitate judgments.

2dly. There may be many divisions amongst the people of God, and yet none of them be divided from Christ the head. The branches of a tree may be entangled by strong winds, and stricken against one another, and yet none of them be broken off from the tree itself; and when the storm is over every one possesses its own place in quietness, beauty, and fruitfulness. Whilst the strong winds of temptations are upon the followers of Christ, they may be tossed and entangled; but not being broken off from the root, when he shall say to the winds, 'Peace, be still,' they will flourish again in peace and beauty.

3dly. Let not Satan cheat you of your duty, by this trivial objection. If he can keep you from duty, whilst he can make divisions; he hath you sure enough. They of whom I speak, be they under what reproach or obloquies soever, they are all true men, all the children of one father, though they are unhappily fallen out by the way.

Use 2. Of encouragement to those that have the presence of Christ with them in the manner declared; they shall be safe; in vain it is for all the world to attempt their security; either they shall not prevail, or they shall mischief themselves by their own prevalency; Micah v. 8. As they shall be a

dew where they are appointed for a blessing, so as a lion where they are oppressed. Destruction will come forth on their account, and that terribly like the destruction of a lion, speedily in passing through it shall be done. And whence is it that this feeble generation shall be as a lion? It is from the presence of Christ among them, who is the lion of the tribe of Judah, and to honour them, he assigns that to them, which is his own proper work; let men take heed how they provoke this lion; for the present, Gen. xlix. 9. he is 'gone up from the prey, he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as an old lion, who shall rouse him up?' He hath taken his prey in these nations, in the destruction of many of his enemies; he seemeth now to take his rest, to couch down, his indignation being overpast, but who shall rouse him up? Why what if he be provoked? what if he be stirred up? why he will not lie down, 'until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain;' Num. xxiii. 24. There is no delivery from him; no, but what if there be a strong combination of many against him, will he not cease and give over? Isa. xxxi. 4. Be they who they will, the shepherds of the people, be they never so many, a multitude of them, let them lift up their voice and rage never so much, all is one, he will perform his work and accomplish it; until you have him in the condition mentioned, Isa. lxiii. 1-6. Blessed are the people that are under his care and conduct, yea, blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.

SERMON XV.*

HOW WE MAY BRING OUR HEARTS TO BEAR REPROOFS.

Let the righteous smite me ; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me ; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.-Psalm cxli. 5.

Ir is generally agreed by expositors, that this psalm, as that foregoing, with two of those that follow, were composed by David, in the time of his banishment, or flight from the court of Saul. The state wherein he describeth himself to have been, the matter of his pleas and prayers contained in them, with sundry express circumstances regarding that season and his condition therein, do manifest that to have been the time of their composure.

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That the psalmist was now in some distress, whereof he was deeply sensible, is evident from that vehemency of his spirit, which he expresseth in the reiteration of his request, or supplication, ver. 1. And by his desire, that his prayer might come before the Lord as incense; and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice;' ver. 2. The Jewish expositors guess not improbably, that in that allusion he had regard unto his present exclusion from the holy services of the tabernacle, which in other places he deeply complains of.

For the matter of his prayer in this beginning of the psalm (for I shall not look beyond the text) it respecteth himself, and his deportment under his present condition, which he desireth may be harmless and holy, becoming himself and useful unto others. And whereas he was two ways liable to miscarry; first, by too high an exasperation of spirit against his oppressors and persecutors; and, secondly, by a fraudulent and pusillanimous compliance with them in their wicked courses (which are the two extremes that men are apt sinfully to run into in such conditions), he prays earnestly to be delivered from them both. The first he hath

This sermon was printed in the Supplement to the Morning Exercise, at Cripplegate.

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