« ForrigeFortsett »
carnal worldly generation this day, as in Haggai, 4. Jer. xlv. 4. 5. To the formal and profane, as in Matth. iii. 10. To the private-fpirited, as in Amos, vi. 1. And to all, as in Amos, iv. 12. But Q how unfuitable are our spirits to the cafe of the day! How unmeet are our spirits to act for God! They are too mean to do any thing great and honourable for God and his glory. And doubtlefs, if we get not another spirit, we will never be honoured of God to perform any thing that is great for him. Our work as Chriftians is at all times difficult, but we are likely to have a special difficulty in our time. Is the mean and base spirit wherewith we are plagued, meet to set us to oppose the stream and tide of fin, that is going through the generation? Is our carelefs carnal spirit meet to wrestle with God, to keep him still in our land? -Again, How unmeet are our spirits for suffering? The foft and carnal fpirit which prevails, fuits very ill with a time in which the Lord feems to be about to pluck up and deftroy. That spirit of formality and profanity answers very ill with a time in which people's religion may be put to the utmost trial: Ifa. xxxi. 14. “The finners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites." Verily, if we get not another fpirit, a time of trial will make a dreadful difcovery among the professed followers of the Lord.
(3.) Does not our own particular case, with refpect to eternity, require another spirit? Eternity is no dream, the wrath to come is no scare-crow; these are the greatest of realities, and certainly require our utmost efforts. Does the prevailing temper of our fpirits look like the eternal weight of glory that is abiding those who strive, run, wrestle, and fight the good fight of faith? Alas! our fpirits are as unlike the attaining it, as the
fluggard, who will not plow his field, is like to attain a good crop. They who look for a treasure, dig for it; and they who wish for the prize, run for it; but it is a loitering, not a labouring fpirit, with which most of us are poffeffed, who have fmall probability of feeing heaven, unless it will drop down into our mouths.-Again, Does our spirit look like flying from the wrath to come, that infinite load of wrath which is abiding a perishing generation? We seem to be creeping from it, rather than fleeing; and therefore it is ready to overtake us. O how would our fpirits ftir within us, if we were duly affected with eternity, and the danger that our fouls are in of the wrath to come! -But farther, How unlike is our spirit to the subduing of ftrong corruptions within our own breasts! How foft are our spirits against these our deadliest enemies! We must have another fpirit, or our fpirits will foon be devoured by them.--Laftly, There is no following of the Lord fully, and fo no heaven, without another fpirit; and therefore, as ever we would be found Chriftians indeed, and fafe through eternity, let us labour for that other fpirit: "Create in us, O Lord, a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us."-I fhall now very briefly attend to
DOCT. III. That thofe who, by following the Lord fully in the time of general declining, diftinguish themselves, God will distinguish them from others, by special marks of favour in the time of general calamity.--The fcriptures afford many inftances in proof of this, as Noah, Lot, Jeremiah, and many others.
FOR illuftrating this doctrine, we fhall, I. Shew how those must diftinguish themselves
from others in the time of general declining, who would have the Lord to diftinguifh them from others in the time of general calamity.—We shall point out,
II. The marks of favour by which, in times of great calamity, God ufes to distinguish such. III. We fhall fubjoin fome reasons of the point, to confirm it.-And,
İV. Make fome improvement.
We are then,
I. To fhew how those must diftinguish themfelves from others in the time of general declining, who would have the Lord to diftinguish them from others in time of general calamity.-Here we observe,
1. That they must be beft, when others are worft: Gen. vi. 9. "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and Noah walked with God." Their candle muft fhine brightest, when that of others is dying out. It is the property of holy zeal for God and his way, to become more vehement by oppofition; fo that the declining of others is as oil to their flame. It was better with Lot when he dwelt among the Sodomites, than when with his own children in the cave: 2 Pet. ii. 7.-10. "And delivered juft Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, (for that righ teous man dwelling among them, in feeing and hearing, vexed his righteous foul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)." The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjuft unto the day of judgement, to be punished." "It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold." If religion be dying out among others,
others, this will the more kindle an holy fire of zeal, and increase it in their own breafts.-We observe,
2. That they must cleave to God, especially in that article in which others are leaving him, as in Caleb's cafe; that is to fay, they must be careful that they be not led away with the fins of the time, that they do not enter into the general confpiracy of the generation against the Lord and his way, whether it be against truth or holiness. Thus the promise was to those who kept the life and power of godlinefs in Sardis, where there was a great general declining, a deadness and formality, and the bare carcafe of religion: Rev. iii. 4. "Thou haft a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy."-We observe,
3. That they must witness against every declining, according to their stations, and as they have access, for the exoneration of their own confciences, and the honour of God. Thus did Noah, that preacher of righteousness, to that unrighteous world. These must give a real teftimony by their contrary practice, and, as they may have accefs, labour to withdraw others from finful courses. Thus did Caleb.We observé,
4. That they must be mourners over the fins of others, lamenting them before the Lord; fighing and crying for all the abominations which are done in the midst of the land, Ezek. ix. 4. They muft mourn for those who cannot mourn for themselves. When the glory of God is impaired by the fins of an apoftatifing generation, their love to the perfons of the finners, and hatred of their fins, must draw tears of godly forrow from their eyes.
LET us now,
II. Point out the marks of favour by which, in times of general calamity, God ufeth to distinguish fuch. There is,
1. Liberal furniture for duty, in a large communication of the Spirit, when the Spirit is withdrawn from others: Matth. x. 19. " But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye fhall fpeak, for it fhall be given you in that fame hour what yes fhall fpeak." The Lord calls not his people to ferve him for nought; he even rewards the will to his work, with ftrength for it. If they be refolute to bear his burden, God will ftrengthen the back for it. Hence it comes to pafs, that God's people never make better speed, than when rowing against the stream of oppofition.-There is,
2. Intimations of his special love to their fouls. Thus had Caleb in the text. The faints of God have often golden days in the dregs of time upon this account. When the deluge of public calamity carries incorrigible finners before it, with their burden of guilt upon their back, the faints are then made to reft in the evil day, by virtue of that peace which they have with God and their own confcience, Hab. iii. 16.-There is,
3. Special provifion in a time of calamity: Pfal. xxxvii. 19. "( They fhall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be fatisfied." God rifeth often to see well to the provifion of those whofe work it is to cleave to their duty, and rely on the Lord for their provifion : Pfal. xxxvii. 3. "Truft in the Lord, and do good; fo fhalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou fhalt be fed." So that their faces are fatter and fairer than those who eat of the defiled meat. There is,
4. Special protection in an evil day. God fets