« PreviousContinue »
and his Angels : wherein all the unregenerate Race of Adam are likewise threatened to be punished. Teacb us, O Lord, the Language of thy Spouse, to cry, Behold! how beautiful are the Feet of them who bring us good Tidings of great Joy. We plainly see that the Harvest it plenteous, but the Labourers are few: O mayest thou, who art the Lord of the Harvest, send as such faithful, enlightened Ministers, as might shew us the right Way to eternal Life, left our Souls are loft (in this sulphurous Gulpb) for lack of Knowledge, Hol. iv. 6.
When the Spirit of the Lord Mews the Sinner
his loft Condition by Nature, he flees to the Covenant of Works for Salvation, and like his Father Adam, jews Fig Leaves together to cover his Shume, endeavouring to palliate bis Crime, and make Peace with God's broken
Law, and so continues on the wild Olive Tree. O
Let the Preacher beg of God to humble the
Pride of Man in himself first, and then he will see the Necessity of the People's Conversion in order to Christian Conversation. Let not Ministers of Congregations prophefy smooth Things to the People, pretending they are all Christians, because they were baptized with Water ; (which is only an outward Sign of the inward and spiritual Grace) when very few, in Comparison, are baptized with the Holy Ghost, which they must be, if they be
born again : And unless Men are born again, they cannot fee the Kingdom of God, John iii. 3. is me ! (saith the Church) for I am as when they have gathered the Summer-fruits, as the Grapegleanings of the Vintage : there is no Cluster to eat (no Entei tainment for God) though his Soul desires the first ripe Fruits,” Mic. vii. 1.
God's People are few in Number, and his elect. Children often go aftray, which seems to grieve him, and make him cry, Turn! O backsliding Children, for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a City, and two of a Family, and bring you to Zion, Jer. iii, 14. By the few in Number which go to Heaven, according to the foregoing Scriptures, one might easily be induced to believe and acknowledge the Propriety of what our Lord Jesus said in this Respect, “ Enter ye in at the strait Gate ; for wide is the Gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to Destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the Gate, and narrow is the Way which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it,” Matt. vii. 13, 14.
What depth of Thought can conceive, the Curses the Damned in Hell will pronounce against such foolish Shepherds, who have deluded them thither : who took upon them the Care of precious, immortal Souls, to lead them safe to Heaven, only for the sake of filtby Lucre, 1 Tim. ii. 3, 8.
They ran (faith God) but I never sent them,” Jer. xxiii
. 21. Strangers to vital Religion: having not received the Spirit of Adoption, enabling them to cry, Abba, Father. Neither did the Spirit ever bear witness with their Spirits, that they were his Children, Rom. viii. 15; 16. Destitute of divine Grace to assist them in fo arduous a Work. God declares he will require his People's Blood at such Teachers' Hands, Ezek. XXXIV. 10. “For my People perish (faith the Lord)
for lack of Knowledge,” Hof. iv. 6. « For what Man knoweth the Things of a Man, save the Spirit of Man which is in him? even so the Things of God knoweth no (natural) Man, but he only who hath the Spirit of God dwelling in him," i Cor. ii. 11. “ The Spirit searcheth all Things, yea, the deep Things of God," verfe 10. those that have not the Spirit of Christ (whether Preachers or Hearers) are none of his," Rom. viii. 9. What Business then have such People to presume to unfold the sacred Mysteries of the Word of God, or take God's Covenant into their Mouth? seeing they hate to be reformed, and cast his Commandments behind their Backs, Psal, l. 16, 17. Whose Eyes never saw, whose Hands never handled the Word of Life, i Jobni, I. The Holy Ghost (the Fountain of all Truth) describes such Watchmen to be “ blind and ignorant, nay, dumb Dogs, that cannot bark ; feeping, lying down, loving to flumber.” Heedless of the Condition of every Soul whofe Lot it is to be under such Pastor's Care.
greedy dogs which can never have enough, Shepherds that cannot understand, every one looking (sharp) for his Gain, from his Quarter," Efa. Ivi, 10, 11. They relinquish no Perquifite, spare no Fleece that can be had, though the Sheep want it to screen them from the nipping Cold. Therefore thus faith the Lord, “ Woe be to the Shepherds of Israel that feed themselves ? should not the Shepherds feed the Flocks?” Ezek. xxxiv. 2. But some may think me too aggravating, and will say, Stop Friend! wilt thou not affront many by dealing to plainly? Yes, I know I shall affront those whom the Truth gauls; and I know Satan will stir up his People against me, as he has done already: and I know he will rage, but I am fore-warned whom to tear : Christ bids
me “ fear not Man, but God, who is able to destroy both Soul and Body in Hell ; yea, I say unto you, fear him, Luke xii. 5.
Question, But is it so bad with us now, or are we in like Circumstances with Adam when he was driven out from the Presence of God?
Answer, Yes, the very fame; “ For we by Nature are all born Children of Wrath, even as 0thers,” Eph. ii. 3. And until we are born again of the Spirit, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire, the Fire of God's Love, “ we are Aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, Strangers to the Covenants of Promise, having no true, saving Hope, and without God in the World," Epb.
And alas ! how loath we are when Storms arise to cast our Anchor of Hope on firm Ground : for as soon as Christ by his Spirit has convinced us of Sin, we presently endeavour to secure our Souls on the quick Sands of Self-righteousness, or like Adam to cover our Nakedness with the Fig-leaves of formal Obedience : and although God says, The Soul that sinneth shall die ; yet the Devil suggests, We hall not surely die, but by our Amendment we may excuse ourselves : prompting us presumptuously, as he did our Mother Eve, to take the forbidden Fruit : so now, (notwithstanding the Seraphic Swordsmen) to snatch at the Tree of Life, as we vainly suppose it to be,, viz. the Covenant of Works to be performed by us for our Salvation. And if we cannot live as well as we would, yet we hope God will be merciful, for we endeavour to keep the whole Law as well as we can, and trust God for the Reft. Here I think you'll say, This cannot be the Advice of Satan; for who can do more than this ? Ah! my dear Neighbours, beware, look well to yourselves, for Satan lies in wait to deceive. Our Lord faith, Our Lord faith, “ Many fali
come in that Day and say, Lord open to me, for I have eaten and drank in thy Presence, and in thy Name cast out Devils, and in thy Name done many wonderful Works. But Christ will say, I know you not, depart from me ye Workers of Iniquity,' Luke xiii. 27. And we are forbidden to look after Salvation by a Covenant of Works : “ Why spend ye your Money for that which is not Bread and your Labour for that which satisfieth not ?". Ija. lv. 2. Your good Works. (being imperfect) cannot justify you in the Sight of Godi: For by the Works of the Law no Flesh shall be faved,” Gal. ii. 16. The Serpent knows of the flaming Sword, which turns every Way to keep the Way of the Tree of Life: viz. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, Eph. vi. 17. which God has placed to keep Rebels out of Paradife, in these Words, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all Things-which are written in the Book of the Law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. " And whereas all our Righteousnesses are but as filthy Rags," Ifa. Ixv. 6. And when we have done all the Good that is possible, we are still but unprofitable Servants, Luke xvii. 10. Therefore now behold and see that the Devil is leading you to Presumption, hurrying you on, impotent as you are, through vain Conceit of prevailing against the Dint of the Sword, the flaming Sword of God's Word (appointed by him to humble the Pride of Man) attempting to clime the Tree of Life through your own natural Ability, whether God will or not. But, alas ! poor lost Sons of Adam, you must yet according to God's Command till the Ground from whence you were taken. God made your Father Adam out of good Earth before it was cursed; and when he had made him, Behold! he was very good, Gen. i. But his Sin became your Sin, and the Ground of