The wrath of God is strong and dreadful. But we are not to conceive
that, when God is angry and pours out His wrath, He is commoved and subject to
passions or perturbation of affections. There are passions or affections or
perturbation in Him. But by His anger we are to conceive somewhat in the effect
and consequence following, as if He were angry; such things as we find in man
when he is angry - challenging the person, threatening, discountenancing,
disowning, smiting, taking away what good things were given before, and
inflicting evil. And whatsoever wrath is expressed in this life, all is but
samples and preludes of the huge wrath that is coming after time.
Now, to make the greatness of this wrath appear, I offer but these few considerations. Consider what some of His beloved friends will meet with, whom He afflicts in faithfulness and according to Covenant; 0, what must His wrath be on enemies! Consider what the little tirls (i.e., tokens or experiences) of His wrath are upon bodies; 0, what must it be then on souls! Consider the tastings it in the conscience, even in this life; it hath been so bitter that some would have been content to have gone to hell for thousands of years, if then they might have been freed of it, and friends with Him; and some have been fain to hang themselves, in very apprehension of it. Consider but how torturing it is to angels; the devils cry out that it is their torment. Consider what pains there be in the world; surely these things are but sparks of His wrath. Consider what you could devise, and what all the wit of the could devise, of agony; and remember that this as far above all that, as God is above man in His deep invention.
You are all great fools that do take any rest, till be made friends with God.
From a sermon on Ps. xc. 11; preached March 14, 1658.
Do not mistake, love and strokes are so consistent that rarely are they
separate. It is the observation of the wicked, Some evil disease cleaves to
him; God hath forsaken him - that is bad divinity.
I know you would fain understand whether your strokes be for sin or for trial.
Ordinarily, when affliction is for trial, it finds man at his duty, as formerly he hath been at duty. It was thus with Job. He had the testimony of a perfect man before; and at that time when the stroke overtook him, he was at a great height of duty. When it is for trial, the exercise of the soul is clear and free of those guilty confusions, which otherwise use to be with folk under affliction; and this is also clear in Job. He retains his integrity. He avows uprightness. He desired no greater mercy than to win in to God and to speak freely with Him; a guilty man dare not speak so.
Upon serious search, nothing can be found relating to such a stroke. Job puts it upon God to show him why He contends. Now ordinarily, when He strikes for sin, the Lord keeps people between the stroke and the sin, so that men may read the one off the other.
Usually, when it is for trial, the person falls kindly before God at first. As Job did, when he said, Lord giveth and taketh away. Where a stroke meets with an ill conscience and guilt, the person will startle more, till God reduce him and convince him, and then he will grow most silent and submissive.
As for our duty under the rod:
It becomes us to suspect sin, for that is most dangerous, and the weakest place of the work, and we should at first run to that. And when we can nothing on which our hearts can fix, we should throw it upon God to tell us.
We should set ourselves to give proof of the reality of grace in us, and of the patience of the saints, before friends and foes. For that may be His end.
And we should set ourselves to observe Him, so to give Him the glory due to His name.
From sermon on John xi. 5, 6; preached March 16, 1658.
He is very responseful (i.e., ready to respond), being mighty and able
to do to the utmost. He well acquainted with our several cases and conditions
for He Himself was tempted. He is most pitiful-hearted and compassionate; His
heart causeth to pity a poor thing, even althovgh it have not much wit and
scarcely knows what it needs. He is One that knows the seasons of letting it
out best - knows what it is to help right early and to give what is good. He is
One that will not take a rebuff, and could not be disobliged, or meet with such
difficulty and disappointment, as to hinder Him to perfect His work yea, it is
every way so fitly placed in Him that God hath pronounced him blessed whose
strength is in Him.
From sermon on Hos. xiv. 8; preached April 26, 1658.
He fits the tentation for the man, winding the snare in into his humour,
or natural constitution, or into his calling. He would not tempt Peter to sell
his Master for gear, but Judas, that covetous knave. But he can find a more
fitting tentation for Peter.
He offers evil by smalls, and little by little. So he did the murder of Christ to Pilate, who intended not go the full height at first. He fetcheth things from afar, and enters the mind into vain thoughts, lets it daily with them without contradiction, till it grow familiar with them; and then to speak them, then to love them. And so it goeth on.
He dniveth sin by the most unsuspected hand, as he did the tentation on Adam by Eve, which was resisted in Job. A faithful friend is a dangerous tempter.
He drives evil often by contraries or extremes. He sways a man to prodigality, and then, to save himself from that, he turns worldly-minded and a miserable Nabal.
He corrupts the head, if he cannot win ground on heart. He transforms himself into an angel of light, and presseth things on folk by way of duty, till once the light and judgment be confused and darkened. And then the heart follows.
He hath a season for every evil, that it may be the more beautiful and the less suspicious. He doth not vex a man with an evil, when there is no conveniant occasion for it. Many such tricks he hath, to rnake folks secure and to put them off their guard.
To close these wiles, tbere is one main one whereof he makes great use; and that is, to keep a man at distance from Christ, and to weaken him that way: by which he most of all doth prevail. And therefore faith is said to be a buckler for resisting all his fiery darts.
From a sermon on Eph. vi. 11; preached June 12, 1658.
There is a fourfold confidence towards God. There is the confidence of interest and friendship in the main thing - the thing so much pressed upon folk, that they make their election sure. This persuasion had Paul had of God's love and goodwill in a high measure.
There is the confidence of a good understanding between God and the person, that there is no stated controversy and quarrel. This was wanting to David, - though he had the other; there was anger provoked by what he had done, which stuck when his sin was pardoned. So it is often with folk, whilst they know-they will win to heaven. It is like that which ws between David and Absalom, when he got leave to come home to Jerusalem, but might not see the king face.
There is a confidence in the use of all the mercies and privileges of His people, that folk have right to them and are accepted in the use of them. The righteous in this case are bold, and do draw near to God with full assurance of faith. All should be peruaded in their own minds, in the use of all religious things. The first confidence may be, and this be wanting, because either of ignorance or of some emergent that stops that stops my boldness at the time.
There is a confidence in the course of God's providence, that any apparent good is good, and any apparent evil shall resolve into good. For the Lord seeks no advantage of the creature in anything He doth, but still its good; and it's much to get this maintained practically in every case. It is a thing sure enough - in itself to His friends, and hath pregnant grounds in Scripture for it, but difficult to be kept, and yet most foolishly do people forego it.
This confidence Godward, in any of its sorts, is most desirable. It is the substance of all the promises, of one kind and another. It hath in it a sweet composure of heart in all things, whereabout disquietness useth to lie, warding off slavish and cutting fears. A great recompense of reward follows it, both here and hereafter. Every branch of it hath excellent things attending it, which make it very valuable. The first confidence keeps in the life of the soul and of duty. The second keeps a cheerful countenance. The third wards off fear, and makes folk meddle with ordinances with delight. The fourth makes a man content in all lots.
From a sermon on 1 John iii. 21; preached July 1658.
Seek aye from God a very tender and waking conscience, that will let you
slip with nothing, and when you slip, that will rug and harl you (i.e~, tear
and trouble you), and condemn you - ay, and until you clear yourself.
From a sermon on 1 John iii. preached July 1658.
We may compare with this the following extract, from a printed sermon on Matt.xiv. 26; of date, August 1662
Know this and believe, that there is nothing to feared but God and an evil conscience. As a man in Ireland said to a Bishop, when he threatened to imprison him, "I know no such prison as an evil conscience" And so, if ye resolve to fear nothing but the God of Heaven and an evil conscience, ye need not fear men; for the fear of these will quiet all your other fears.
Of similar import, too, are these paragraphs fror the Letters of Horning:
"Once prefer this world's gear to Christ, His laws and a good conscience; and, by so doing, you run yourself into an absolute hazard for ever and ever. Break once a string of your conscience that way, and it is questionable if ever it solder again. Folk may do it for a little business - for ten marks Scots; -and it will be a canny hand that will cast a knot on it again.
Let a Christian do but a little sin against his light privetely, that nobody knows but God and himself; it will cost him bickering, and that hard too, before he gain again a heartsome look of Jehovah's countenance."
The world is a naughty thing in Christ's account. He speaks disdainfully
of it, comparing it with the soul. When He was here on the earth, He made a
small purchase of it to Himself; He had not where to lay head, nor a drink of
water sometimes. He giveth an portion of it to His dearest friends, unto whom
given Himself; and will He not give everything that is worthy? He giveth great
portions thereof to enemies and fools, that fight against Him, and know Him not
so much as to be their Landlord. He hath a mind to burn it all in the end; the
fashion of this world perisheth.
He regardeth it so little, because the whole creation is now subjected to vanity by man's transgression; because all the world, as it now is, is but of a temporal use and of short continuance; yea, it was made in order to far more excellent ends than itself - it was appointed for a man and his soul, and for the declaration of the glory of God.
From a sermon on Mark viii. 86, 87; preached May 15, 1659.
We are become so tasty and dainty in our spiritual food that we can be
pleased with nothing which is not singular, and new. But it was never well with
us, since we left off to be exercised with the firstgood substantials of
religion. There be three great things which were wont to work kindly with men's
1) Their many transgressions by which they lay open to the wrath of God,
2) The way to be cleared of these things and rescued from the wrath, and
3) How apply that relief to myself ; - ugly sin, Christ only precious, and useful faith to grip Him.
From a sermon on Acts xiii. 89; preached June 18, 1659.
Want of seriousness about the thing on which faith is to be exercised
makes men slow to come to believing. When men are not in earnest about their
salvation and the matters of Christ's kingdom, they move towards a heart-
grounded persuasion about these things. They are indifferent to them.
There is a weight which easily besetteth men, and this makes them slow towards fixed believing. They are not dead to all things beside. Some are not emptied of their own righteousness, and so do not easily submit to Christ's. And a man being engaged with a present world, whether with his relations or his means, he is slow to close cordially with the Kingdom of Christ.
Contrary tides make a slow motion here. If things would keep still in a calm and in a smiling strain, men would move more quickly in believing. The disciples moved fast in a fair day, when Christ carried all before Him but, when the storm was in His face, they halted much.
An ill-shapen bottom causeth a slow motion in vessel. Whilst men move upon carnal principles of natural reason, the motion towards believing must be slow; if they would have reason satisfied in everything. But,if they would bottom themselves on Christ, and move upon principles of the divine nature, leaving things to His wisdom and power to make them out, they were then on a bottom suitable to the designed motion and attainment, and so would move more quickly.
There is some other mistake that occasioneth this slow motion, as that the thing may admit a delay, or at afterwards it may have a more fit season, or that the company is few.
From a sermon on John xvi. 81; preached August 1660.
They have the company of the truth, and that is hugely comfortable; they
may be sure that will set them, and itself both free and at liberty. They have
the company of a cloud of witnesses, who have adhered to that cause and truth
before; and that is very comfortable. They often have the company of the
witness of adversaries, who now and then are forced to give testimony to that
cause and truth and interest. They have the witness of their own conscience,
that, out of single respect to the Master's command and glory, they stand in
hazard this day; and that is their rejoicing. They have the company of many
sweet promises, bearing their expense all along; which keeps them from
fainting. They have the company of many prayers of saints, who dare not appear
with them in the trial; without their own means they find the prayers of others
returning into their bosom that they are blessed out of the house of the Lord.
They have God's own company, secretly strengening them with strength in their
soul and with might in the man; and, it may be, sometimes dropping out what
that reviveth and quickeneth the spirit. Now,since a Christian will be much
comforted by any any one of these, 0, how well is he yoked when he hath all the
seven bearing him company !
From a sermon John xvi. 82; preached August 1660.
There was a fore-party sent out as a scout to view the fields at His
birth. This was Herod; a dealt subtly, to cut off the young Prince. But he was
slated (i.e., routed) in it.
A party of the doctors and divines was sent out ensnare Him. But they won nothing at His hand.
The devil himself, general of the army, drew Him aside, and fought the single combat with Him. Truly he beat our first parents in their innocence, and yet he fled here and was beaten with his own weapons.
The body of the army, all the wicked of Kirk an State, often fought with Him. But He had still better of them, when He was at liberty; and, when amongst their hands, He still had the advantage.
At last, the strength of the party came in Sin and the Law craving justice of Him from God. Upon which the Father presented a cup to Him; His sinless nature did scunner at it (i.e., recoil from it); well, at length He saw that His enemies would prevail for ever, if He did not despatch that cup; and He knew that it would take His life. Yet He foresaw if He could deal with that, the power of the enemyy was gone; upon which He takes it, and adventures upon divine justice. Presently the enemy grips Him, and crucifies Him shamefully, and buries Him. He gets up the third day, and scorns death and hell and the grave, and triumphs over them, and He gets justice to be on His side now, and His Father, as having satisfied fully.
He did vanquish them all thus: As He had no sin or corruption in Him; this held Him up strongly, it was this made Him boast over Satan, and made Him proof against all assaults. As He bare out against all their tentations on the right and left hand; by the Spirit which was in Him He did at all encounters confound the adversary; and this of the Spirit He hath left in legacy to all His bairns, and no man can resist it. As He led all captives captive, and spoiled principalities and powers, having paid the bill of handwriting and nailed it to His Cross. When the last party, Death and the Grave, got Him to keep as their prisoner, He came not by stealth, but crying, Death, where is sting? Grave where is thy victory? So He overcomes.
From a sermon on John xvi. 88; preached September 1660.
Men should all desire suffering for Christ in the cause - that is, so as
to adhere to Him in opposition to the serpent's seed. They are to desire to
become the object of Satan's ill-will, and to live godly.
Men are to desire suffering, even of the fiery trial, upon supposition they be called thereunto by God. For this is nothing else but to desire honesty, faithfullness, and patience for Christ; and that should be choice of all.
Every man is to desire it, upon supposition that may be of advantage to the truth of Christ. For each man is bound to be prodigal of his life and liberty for Christ Jesus - His Name, and His words, and His glory.
Every man is bound to desire it thus far, as not shifting any least duty for fear of the greatest trial.
But men may not desire suffering simply in itself, because it includes in it the horrid sin of persecutors. Nor should they desire it, so as to run upon it at thc own hand, uncalled; for God needs no man's help in His matters, to such an extent that He will accept out of His own roadway. Nor should men desire as a piece of singular credit and glory. Let God put credit on us; but we may not covet it for ourselves; it may be you get shame, and no credit, by the trial. Nor may we seek it as a mark of an interest in Christ; God hath allowed many other marks beside, and hath allowed this but on very few. Nor may we desire that thereby we may reach a greater weight of glory in heaven; for the least weight will be satisfying.
But so seek it, as we have said, as shifting no duty for fear of it. So seek it, as rejoicing if God shall clearly make it your lot. So seek it, as reckoning your obligation great to God if He give it to you to
From a sermon on 1 Pet. iv. 12, 18; preached November 1660.
Men must come from their own righteousness, from their iniquities, from
the interest of their father's house. They are to come to Christ's
righteousness, to His way or under His dominion, to the interest of kingdom.
Then for the way, I sum it up thus: lay to heart sin and misery, and be
afflicted for the same; know that you are so out of the way as that you can
make no help for yourself; consider that the help is offered in Christ; work up
your heart to be pleased with that help on His terms; actually close with Him,
both as Righteousness and Sanctification; and all these, according to
Scripture, will be found to be the way.
From a sermon on John vi.87; preached the winter of 1661.
They who come have much to say against their own welcome. As, their own
baseness, compared with that High and Lofty One; their sinfulness, and wrong
done to Him; their long - continued rebellion and contempt of His offers; their
corruption, whereby they fear still to disoblige Him. But they shall in no wise
be shut out. For, as to their first objection, all are so, and the matter is
His invention and glory. As to their second, He is a perfect Ransom for sin,
and erefore did suffer. As to their third, His time is Today; if thou art
ashamed of thy former contempt of Him; He forgave the enemies who slew Him. As
to their fourth, this is the Way to heal thy corruption; He seeks but thy
heart's consent to make thee clean, and thy resolution from this day subject to
Then set to, and do not scar (i.e., fear) although few go with thee, and marvel at free grace which inclineth thine heart to go. Remember what may hold thee out, and be ashamed; judge and humble thyself before Him; yet be not proudly wiser and holier than He allows. Persuade thyself that if you have a heart for Him, He can find it in take thee; through Jesus Christ, over all thy objections.
From the same sermon John vi. 87.
You say, you dare not venture on Christ. How you contradict Him who
willeth all to venture, who sees need, and hath said, there is life in the Son
for all who desire it? Will you make head against God's design, effectually
carried on above five thousand years, and decry the perfect ransom of Christ?
Will offend the whole godly, by alleging the insufficiency of His sacrifice?
Well, know that in nothing else can please God; for without faith it is
impossible to please Him.
It were fitter you should adventure on Christ, over a thousand things which you cannot answer. Shall it be said in other parts, to His dishonour, that there is one found here who hath a condition that dare not dare not so venture on Him, notwithstanding of all that hath been said of the well-ordered covenant? Will you comply with Satan in such a design as to decry Christ? Are you worse than Manasseh, Solomon, Paul, Peter? Do you know a Way beyond God, who hath said that in no ways He will cast out? Do you know a stop beyond His utmost, who is able to save to the utmost? Take heed of running on the bosses of His buckler.
Or will any say, you cannot close with Christ? What is this you cannot do? Can you not hunger for Him, nor look to Him, nor be pleased with that salvation, nor open your mouth that He may fill it? Do not difficult the way to heaven, for that derogates much from all He hath done.
From a sermon on Luke 81; preached July 14, 1662.
The way of salvation is now most easy. It is nigh thee, that is, the
matter is not far off, either in heaven or in hell; tis at man's hand and may
quickly be reached. It is in thy mouth; poor men express and speak the
business, and every man hath it in his mouth - it is so notour (i.e.,
notorious) and known. It is in thine heart, that is, the thoughts of man can
fathom it, it is so plain; it is no mysterious thing; neither is it a business
of great outward oration or observation, it is a thing transacted in the heart
and inward affection; if the heart be to it, it is won. Is a thing which is
preached by poor simple men, and is secretly conveyed into men by preaching the
gospel; so that we are not to expect any extraordinary revelation or
communication about this matter, but even to close with it in the offer of the
word, In a word - it is of faith.
Well then, since all is resolved into faith, we must show that faith is in some respect an easy thing.
Is not that easy which, if a man seriously desire it, he hath it? Such a thing salvation now is, and its condition; blessed are they that hunger, they shall be filled. Is not that easy, whereunto if a man move, he hath it? Such a thing is this; if he but flee for refuge to take hold on the hope set before him, Is not that easy, after which if a man greedily look with his heart, he hath it? Such a thing is this ;Look to Him - he is saved. Is not that easy, which a man gets by loving the market where it is, although he have nothing to buy it with? Such a thing is this; come without money, Isaiah says. Is not that an easy thing, which a man hath if he will but take when it is offered to him? Such a thing is this; if you will receive, all is your own. Is it not an easy thing, which a man bath, if he will but let Another fasten it on him if he will but open his mouth and let God put it in - open his hand and let God lay it in his loof (i.e., the palm of the hand)? Such a thing is this. In a word, is it not an easy thing, which a man hath as soon as he begins to think highly of it, and value it? So Christ is precious to those who believe
O, how easy a business is salvation now made for poor, weak man! May we not say that, the matter of faith, it is properly of grace; and so the prosmise is sure to all the seed, weak and strong ?
From a sermon on Romans x. 6-.9 ; preached in 1662.
In appoaching to the Table of the Lord, remember it is unbeseeming that,
in the day and hour of espousals, the bride should be dirty, and have known
spots on her, which she assayeth not to put off. It is true, at first Christ
taketh a dirty bride by the hand, and hath her often to wash afterwards. But
now, in this solemn confirmation of marriage, a filthy bride, with known
iniquity cleaving to her with her with her consent, is a dreadful thing.
A drowsy bride is shameful, when so solemn a transaction is in doing before so many witnesses. The, to be sleepy and drowsy doth portend somewhat. Is true, the three disciples did sleep, and were very heavy, quickly after, in a great choke (ie, in a stroke or crisis). But that was the forerunner of a sad defection.
A diverted bride is unseemly. To be under diversion and distraction in such a solemnity as this speaks rank corruption, and little of the awe and of God, and small esteem of Christ Jesus. How unbeseeming were it for a bride in presence of the bridegroom, when before witnesses she is to give her marriage consent, or to ratify it, even then to be dallying with other things, although they should be the gifts received from the bridegroom!
A diffident bride is very unseemly. In the very hour when the Bridegroom hath called all His friends together, to be witnesses of what He hath done and said for her satisfaction, and whilst He is communicating to her the highest and clearest and surest pledge of love He can, putting His great Seal to all the charters of the Covenant, after they are read over and over - yet to look down, and to be jealous, to say in your heart, "He is but mocking me" a great provocation. Be not therefore unbelieving but believing.
Before the Observance of the Lord's Supper, in Fenwick Church, 1662.
Now we are set at the Table. But I have heavy news to tell you, the
Master is a-flitting (ie., withdrawing Himself); for He hath already scattered
His children, put away several and almost all His stewards, and is packing up
His plenishing (i.e., furniture). It concerns us to search into the cause of
this now, when He and we are together. It seems to be be because of our
indifference in His matters, our formality in religious duties, our worldly -
mindedness, passion, abuse of Christian fellowship, and such other things. Now
we come to Him in a good day, if we cordially resolve to amend, and will join
issue and interests with His afflicted friends, since we have helped on His
wrath. Then He doth here offer a sealed pardon, which I declare unto you.
And since the day is thus holy to the Lord and a day of pardons, let us eat and drink and rejoice before Him, who hath told us our sin, and hath not let us go without a chastisement, for then were we bastards and not sons, and hath provided a sure forgiveness to us. Next let us send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared, the banished and prisoners, and His fugitives scattered flocks, His imprisoned ministers, the widows and the fatherless. Let us bear them on our breasts before Him, and be content that they this day be watered and blessed out of the house of the Lord, although we should fare the worse.
It is no wonder we look sad; when we reflect on our former way. How many reproofs have we got! and how often have we engaged to grow better! and we are the same we were long ago. Now this one Court-day He hath further set and willeth us to be at a point. Are you now come to a particular reckoning of your rebellions? Have you brought them hither in the honesty of your heart to deliver them up to Him, your heart also, to make of it henceforth what He will? And have you also credit to give to Him in this word, There is life in the Son for men? Then, although you have your doubts about the business, come, we dare offer you pardon in His name. And here is the seal of it.
I know you doubt if you have faith, without which this can seal nothing. I shall instance three cases in which faith was much approved by Christ although think the parties durst scarcely say they knew what faith was. The first is that of the centurion, where we find faith highly commended for believing good, without such condescensions on Christ's part as He allowed to others. The second is that of the woman with the bloody issue, where faith is well approven, while the person adventureth to touch Christ contrary to moses' law, she being in such a case. The third is the mother of Canaan, when faith presseth its part, and still looks for good, over many difficulties.
It is good for us to be here, say the disciples on the Mount. Where observe that these, who were with Christ, freely were chosen out from amongst the rest, and had this allowance whilst the rest were left in the stour (i.e., dust). It was His free choice, an argument of respect to them whom He took with Him. He was not seeking advantage of them, nor intend evil against them; but it was in His heart to try them sadly afterwards; and this is part of the expense He allowed on them, although they scarcely carried fair under it, as the history shows. The Lord hath here allowed on you somewhat beside the rest. They are left in the stour. Do not think that He intends evil in it to you, if your own eye be not evil.It is free choice. He doth not disrespect the rest, but, it may be, He intends your further trial, and it may be also, you have not that suitable frame in things requisite; yet there is peace in it, if you intend to walk in the way of peace. I offer here a pledge and seal of peace to all such.
Now remember that the disciples were taken up with their own present enjoyment, and looked not to what He designed thereby, namely, a notable confirmation to them for what was to ensue, for which they were to lay up in store. They would have been content to stay still there with Christ, Moses, and Elias, placing their happiness equally in their abode with all three, but this could not be: they were to betake themselves to Him alone. They forgat the rest of their friends. They forgat also, the great work which Christ was carrying on, and sunk all in their present personal enjoyment. Beware of these things now, lest a cloud separate suddenly between you and such a manifestation, as indeed fell out in their case.
The Master hath kept up a good market here a long time, and hath given several warnings to remove and pack up our wares; and therefore we would now offer a cheap and good pennyworth. Here is good ware and cheap, and we will find you brough and hammel, as they say, and caution, that it is leal come (i.e., lawfully obtained), and that we have right to sell, which every one now cannot do. We are Ministers of God, ordained by a presbytery, and called by His people; and we have our ministry sealed on many hearts, having approved ourselves to the conscience. And so you may take it off our hand, as if Christ Himself did beseech you. The ware is of all things necessary. We have the love of God, the fear of God, cleansing from idols, a spirit for suffering, and what you shall say in that hour. All are in the promises; will any of you buy? We offer these things good and cheap, upon condition will take the Master Himself; and we offer Him as cheap as you would wish. If you desire Him, if you will, if you open your mouth to receive Him, you shall have Him. If you ask what security we give for these things, we give you His faithful word and promise; and here, in this Supper He hath a seal of it.
Now, lest you think we cheat you, or that you but dream of such blessings, I require some things of you afterwards, which may certify you that all is well enough. You must resolve to wear these things and practise them, for His sake. As they grow old, and settle on your hand, you will study to get them renewed. You will publicly avow them, and Him of whom you hold them. And, if you be not ashamed of Him and His Word, He shall not be ashamed of you.
We are in the case of the Gileadites, sore oppressed, and Christ is Jephthah. We all look to Him, and to Him for help. He may say to us, as Jepthah did, Did you not hate Me, and expel Me out of Father's. house? Why now come you to Me in distress? We must take with the charge, and put ropes about our necks, and still press our point on Him. Well, He says, If He deliver us or right our matters, shall He then be Head over us? Let us all lay our hand to our heart this day. Dare we say, as Gilead said, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not according to Thy words? Well then, then, here is the Covenant, and here I take instruments, and do append His seal to the Covenant. Now take your Sacrament upon this.
An Exhortation at Communion in Fenwick Church; Aug. 9,1668.
God can help a people, when they are destroyed and absolutely broken. In
Me is thy help. He can do above what we ask or think; all things are possible
to Him. Men are wise to destroy themselves, but cannot help themselves; but God
There be so many ways that a people's help lieth in God.
He can, in destroying them, save them, and make out advantage to them, and make their affliction a blessed and happy mean of doing good to their souls. He hath often done so, and made them say, It was good for us that we were afflicted. The saddest times have often been gaining times to them. They have by their affliction been made to know their sin, and quit it, and to die to all things in the world, and to mind eternity and the soul more. And thus God hath chosen many in the furnace of affliction.
God can support people admirably under their low condition, and both be a shelter to many from the heat and extemity of their misery, and also marvellously reserve some from ruin to be the stock and state of the Church again. All these ways He was the Help of His people of Israel.
He can quickly cast things in an ordinary channel, and raise up men and means of recovery to His people. He can twine about things into their ordinary channel.
The Lord can raise up extraordinary means for the recovery of His peopLe or create an outgate for them in which He alone is seen, and ordinary means scarcely have any place. He creates deliverance, and peace, and the fruit of the lips. He is wise, and knows how to bring evil and how to bring good also. He is mighty to save. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, higher than the highest. He doth whatsoever pleaseth Him, in heaven or in earth.
Let us see what other promising advantages we have.
We have a most wicked insolent enemy to deal with which hath given a defiance to God, and hath spitted in His Face singularly. Shall they break the covenant thus, and be delivered? Shall the throne of iniquity frame mischief into a law, and stand before God? Shall they make void His law, and the Lord not look to it? Now their overthrow is our escape.
They put the Lord's people to a great check, and hugely oppress them. The Lord useth not to bear much with that. The violence done to us and our flesh, much more done to our soul and conscience, will be on them. There is a day of vengeance to comfort them that mourn in Zion. This is a continued controversy between God and these men who destroy all. It is not as yet fully decided. So that it stands on the credit of the Lord to make His cause victorious; His work is perfect.
He hath a mighty company of labourers all laid by, polished shafts; and shall we say He hath no more work for these? Pastors granted according to His own heart wee always a token of good to His Church.
He is breaking up a work or Church nowhere else we know of. And surely He useth not to take down a Church but when He is to build a better. Israel was still to hope, even under captivity until the Christian Church came up, to which God hath given singular promises of restoration by the Messiah.
His people universally have hope, and their hope shall not make them ashamed, and their expectation shall not fail for ever.
I shall add that His Name is singularly engaged in our case; for, if God do not help us, then it shall be said in all the world that a people in such a place owned Covenant with God, to advance His glory and were ordinances, and were thereby overthrown in soul and body, and they and their posterity put in worse case than they were; and all this befell a numerous, godly party by the hand of a wicked ungodly party who brake God's Covenant formally, and overthrew the remnant because they would not do so. As this reproach may not rest on our God, we must say that, although we have destroyed ourselves, our help is in him.
From the last sermon, on Hos. xiii. 9 ;preached at Fenwick, early on Sabbath morning, July 24th 1664.
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