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tience ever since; And the Lord said, I will not ourse the ground any more for man's sake ; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.
Then cousider his grace in finding a way of reconcilement, and not sparing his own Son, his only begotten Son, to accomplish it. Nor did the Son spare himself.
matchless love !-to lay down bis life, not for friends, but for strangers ; not only so, but enemies, for unrighteous and ungodly persons, such as be at enmity against him; Rom. v, 7, 8. And having done this, he sends his word, the message of reconciliation, to rebels, and sends his Spirit into the hearts of those whom he hath appointed to salvation, to change their spirits, that they perish not in disobedience. He brings them near who were far off, having slain the ennity by the death of his Son.
As many of you then, as have hitherto heard this message of reconciliation in vain, be persuaded at last to give ear to it. This is all that God's ambassadors require, according to their instructions from himself, that men would lay down their enmity against him, and not be so foolish as wilfully to perish in it; We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Consider that this enmity is unjust and unhappy. Unjust it is, being against him who is the chief object of love, who is altogether goodness, both in himself and towards his creatures. It is too much not to love him with most ardent and superlative affection ; but to entertain enmity against him is madness. As it was said to one who asked, why are the beautiful loved ? “ It is a blind man's question ;;" certainly we are blind, if we see not cause enough, not only to desist from enmity, but to be inflamed with his love. One glance of his amiable countenance is sufficient to cause the most rebellious heart to yield, and lay down arms, aud for ever devote itself to his service. No, we kpow him not, and therefore it is we bold out against him. Is he not the living spring of all our comforts? Have we not from him, life, and breath, and all things? And is he not ready to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin ? Let mercy melt vur hearts to him, those sweet rays of love. Let his loving-kindness overcome these stubborn hearts and spirits of ours. Among enemies, the weaker usually seeks first for peace, but here it is the mighty : almighty God comes to exitreat agreement with sinful clay.
But if this prevail not, then think how unbappy this enmity is. You who are so afraid of men, and those weak men, of meo like yourselves, whose breath is in their nostrils, will ye not tremble at his power, and be afraid to continue on terms of bostility against him who is the Lord of Hosts, who hath power both over soul and body to kill both and cast them into hell? What is the stoutest of men, but as stubble to tbe flame of his wrath? Our God is a consuming fire, Heb. xii, 29. The sinners in Zion are afraid, says the Prophet. Who shall dwell with devouring fire and everlasting burnings ? Isa. xxxiii, 14. Then, if you would not perish when his wrath is kindled, take that word of Eliphaz, Job xxii, 21 ; Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee.
And to you, so many as he hath taken into friendship with bimself, look backward to the gulf you have escaped, and forward to the happiness you are appointed to, and let the joint consideration of both awaken your hearts and tongues to praises. How can your hearts contain such a wonder of love as he hath manifested to you, and not run over in songs and praise ?
And, as you owe bim praises, so study, being made his friends, to become more like Him. To love and hate the same things with him will be a sure testimony of friendship. And because carnality, or fleshly and earthly mindedness, is here made the character of enmity, mortify those affections, nail them to that cross of Christ whereby the enmity was taken away. And further, being once admitted into friendship, labor for a further degree of intimacy with him, and forbear every thing that may hinder that. Use frequent converse with him ; for that both entertains and increases friendship. If any thing fall out on your part, as it too often does, that may oceasion any strangeness betwixt you and your God, rest not till it be removed. And if you walk in this way, it shall undoubtedly at length bring you where you shall abide in his presence for ever, and shall no more fear any breach or interruption of enjoying him. To him be praise! Amen.
The true Christian the best Subject.
ROMANS xiii, 5, 6, 7, 8. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath,
but ulso for conscience sake : For, for this cause pay ye tribute also ; for they are
God's ministers, attending continually upon this
very thing. Render therefore to all their dues ; tribute to whom
tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom feur, honor to whom honor Owe no man any thing, but to love one another ; for
he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law.
The wisdom and goodness of God, which shine in the natural order and dependence of things in the frame of the great world, appear likewise and commend themselves to us in the civil order he hath instituted in the societies of men, the lesser world. As out of the same mass he made the heavens and the earth, and the other elements betwixt them, one higher than another, and gave them different stations and qualities, yet so different as to be linked and concatenated together, and all for the concern and benefit of the whole ; thus, for the good of men, hath the Lord assigned these different stations of rule and subjection, though all are of one race, raising from among men some above the rest, and clothing them with such authority as hath some representment of himself, and accordingly communicating to them his own name; I have said, Ye are gods. Avd the very power that is in magistracy to curb and punish those that despise it, the
apostle useth as a strong and hard cord to bind on the duty of obedience, a cord of necessity. But he adds another of a higher necessity, that biods more strongly and yet more sweetly, that of conscience. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Observe, l, this is the main consideration which closes the discourse, the great cord that binds on and fastens all the rest; all the arguments foregoing therefore are mainly here to be pressed. Have a reverential and conscientious respect to the ordinance of God in the institution of government, and to the providence of God in his choice of those particular persons whom he calls to it. Contain thyself in thy own station, and submit to those set higher by the Lord, in obedience to him. This indeed is the only true spring of all obedience both to God and to men for him, and according to His ordinance. To regulate the outward carriage, without the living principle of an enlightened and sanctified conscience with in, is to build without a foundation. This is the thing God eyes most. He looks tbrough the surface of men's: actions to the bottom, follows them into their source, ex-, amines from what motives and reasons they flow. He sees not only the handle of the dial, but all the wheels and weights of the clock that are the cause of its motion, and accordingly judges both men and their actious to be good or evil, as the inward frame and secret inotions of the heart are. 'In his own worship, the outside of it may have the same visage and plausible appearance in a multitude convened to it and concurring in it, and no human eye can trace a difference; and yet O what vast difference doth God's eye discover amongst them! He sees the multitude of those who are driven to his house by the power of civil and church laws, or carried to it only with the stream of company and custom, and these, I fancy, take
up the most room in our churches ; but he sees here and there, where such are in any corner, who worship him in singleness of heart, out of conscience to his holy command, and under a sense of their many obligations ; those who dare not let pass any opportunity they can reach of doing service to their Lord, and who dare not Div. No. VIII.
slight his word, and thus coming for conscience sake, they do present their souls to receive his word, give their hearts up to receive the impression of it, put themselves under it, to be stamped by it according to that saying, Rom. vi, 17; But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. So likewise he sees those who bear his name to his people, the ministers of his word. If they preach constantly, and live blamelessly, and are diligent and irreprovable in all the external parts of their walking, this last satisfies men's questions in their inspection and visitings; but God's inquiry and visiting searches deeper. He asks from what heart all this comes, whether from a holy conscience of the weight and high importance of their holy calling, and a faithful respect to the interest of their Master's glory and his people's souls.
Aud thus he, as supreme judge, sits and considers the proceedings of judges and magistrates; not only whether they do that which is just, for often they cannot easily or safely do otherwise, but whether they do it with regard to him or not; that is, whether they judge righteously for conscience sake or not; whether they do consider him as sitting above them, when they sit down upon the bench or seat of justice, and do indeed truly speak righteousness, or whether in heart they work wicked
If they have any corrupt end or hearts that are not straight, he sits on their heart and judges it; whether this be done either for base gain, or vain glory, or by compulsion, or outward necessity, or danger of censure, or whether it be this latter, an inward necessity of conscience, which makes a true willingness.
Thus people, if they obey for wrath, that is, for fear of the magistrate's sword more than for conscience of the Lord's command, God accounts not this obedience, but in his judgment it goes for no better than rebellion.
It is to be feared, too many magistrates and others have in this vation embraced the reformation, not at all for conscience sake, but only for wrath, from fear of laws and authority. But although we are not able to follow forth this searchio the full, that being the Lord's own prerogative, yet truly where it is evident to us that there is nothing of conscience, though in civil things it may pass, yet in things