Page images

they that have knowledge are found abusing it and signing against it, continuing in profaneness. And without this true religion, it is as impossible to have renewed hearts and lives, as to have a house without a foundation, or, as we say, a castle in the air. And this atheism and ignorance amongst people, is in a great part to be imputed to the corruption and sloth of ministers. Would to God there were not many congregations, not only altogether destitute, but such as are freezing under a cold and lifeless ministry!

You see then, we want not causes of mourning and bumiliation on all hands ; but our want is inward, of that due disposition for it, softness of heart, and that love to God which should melt and mollify the heart. Let us then stir up ourselves and one another, to this godly sorrow for the sins of the land. There is need of rivers of tears for these heaps of sin : as they tell of Hercules' letting in a river to that nionstrous stable of Augeus, that could not otherwise have been cleansed in the time allotted him.

And truly, as the duty lies upon all the faithful, the ministers of the word ought to be most eminent in it, the chief mourners, the precentors, to take up the tone of these thenies ; Joel ii, 17. And all that wish the good of church and kingdom, ought to bear a part in them according to their measure. Have we not much need to entreat recoucilement with God, that he prove not our enemy? Yes, surely, and were we reconciled with him, we should have little need to fear the power of


Now they that would be profitable mourners for others' sins, by all means must have these two conditions I mentioned to be careful observers of the law themselves, and to mourn for their own failing and breaking of it. Now, to the observing of the law, it is absolutely needful to kuow and understand it, and that not only in the letter and surface, but according to the spiritual sense and meaning of it ; for without this knowledge, a man may light upon soine duty by guess, as it were in the dark, but observe the law be caunot. They are not alone


reprovable who glory in their own sins and make sport of the sins of others, but they mistake it much, who think it enough to consider their own with grief, and judge the sins of others an impertinency for them to think

As they mourn not aright for others, who begin not at themselves, they mourn never aright for themselves who end in themselves. He who here thus weeps for others, made his bed to swim with those rivers for his own sin ; Psal. vi, 6.—As a man must know this law, so le must be inwardly convinced and persuaded of the divinity of it, that it is God's law.-He must have a deep apprehension of the majesty and authority of the Lawgiver to work reverence, and of his goodness to beget love; and the due mixture of these two will both strongly command and sweeten obedience to his commandments. And this obedience, though it be not an absolute and perfect fulfilling of any one of the commandments, yet, it has a respect to them all, as this psalm hath it, ver. 6, which is, so to speak, an imperfect kind of perfection. And from this respect to the law, which is the observing of it, will flow that other condition, of grieving when we break it.

And besides all other things that should make a Christian's own sin grievous to him, there is one thing cannot but move him much, the consideration of the sorrow and sufferings of Christ. To view the bleedings of the Lord Jesus cannot but pierce a believing soul, and make it say, Did my Redeemer shed his blood for my sins, and shall not I myself shed tears for them? I know, the natural constitution of some denies them tears ; but if it do so to any, make up that want with a sense of inward grief, and it is well enough. The eye of God can discern that as well as the other. But truly, where men have tears for lighter causes, (for all other causes are lighter,) and none for this, they feel not yet the weight of sin; except that want be through the deepness of sorrow, which sometimes will stop the current of tears, though it used to run at other times. But this is a rare and a happy impediment. And to answer another doubt ;—if you find sometimes worldly griefs stir you more violently, yet let this

be some way

godly sorrow affect you more constantly, that it may

have the advantage in continuance, if it fall short in the degree.

But as this grief must begin at home, as they say of charity, it must not be so selfish as to rest there. And truly, where it comes in that order, it

may a stronger evidence of sincerity to mourn for others' sins, than to mourn for our own; for there seems to be more of God in it, because there is less in it of ourselves and of our own particular interest.

Now you will possibly think it but an unpleasant duty that you have heard urged all this while; but look forward and consider the issue of it. That which Christ speaks in particular to his disciples, is generally true of all Christians : Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned or made into joy, John xvi, 20. The water_of those tears shall be turned into wine of consolation. The traffic of these rivers is gainful; they export griefand import joy. When these tears are called seed, the harvest-crop is called joy; Psal. cxxvi, 5; They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. They are here called rivers, and they are answered with a river, for which they shall in the end be perfectly exchanged ; Psal. lxxxvi, 8; Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures ; and Rev. vii, 17; The Lamb shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters. Here they run down the eyes and water the cheeks, and there you read that God will wipe them away from their eyes. Who would not be content to weep, to have God wipe away their tears with his own hand ? Be ambitious then to be found amongst the mourners in Sion; and when ye remove from this valley of tears, God shall at once fully wipe away all the stain of sin from your souls and all tears for it from your eyes. And as he shall wipe away the tears with the one hand, he will set the crown pon your heads with the other.



The Name of Jesus Fragrant. [Preached after the administration of the Lord's Supper.]

BLESSED are they that dwell in thy house, saith the psalmist; and he adds this reason, They will be still praising thee. There is indeed always in God's house both fit opportunity and plentiful matter of his praises. But the greater number of those that frequent his house do not dwell in it; their delight and affection is not there. Therefore they cannot praise him. They come in as strangers, and have no skill in the songs of praise. Yea, and the very children of the family, who worship in spirit and in truth, find their instruments, their hearts, very often quite of tune for praises, and sometimes most of all when praises are requisite. They find still such abundant cause of complaint in themselves weighing down their spirits that they can hardly at all wind them up to magnify that God, whose mercy is far more abundaut. If we would take a reflex view, and look back upon our carriage this day in the presence of our God, who is there among us that would not find much work for sad thoughts? Would not one find that he had a hard and stony heart; another a light, inconstant, wandering heart to complain of; a third, an unbelieving heart; and some all of these? And they, if such there be, who have both deeply sorrowed and been largely comforted, will possibly, for all that, upon former sad experience, be full of fears and jealousies, that this sweet temper will not be of long continuance: that before long the world or some lust will find or make a way to creep in, and banish those heavenly thoughts, and trouble that peace and joy which accompanies them. Yet, notwithstanding all these causes of grief or fear, our causes of praise are both more and greater. And it is no reason that the sense of our own evil should prejudge that acknowledgment of God's goodness; yea, rather it should stir us up to extol it so much the more. Cease not to bemoay the evils of your own hearts; but withal forget not to magnify the riches of his grace, who hath given himself for you and to you. These two will not


The cou

hinder one another, but the due intermixture of them will make a very good harmony.. And the fruit of them will be this—you will have still more cause to praise and less to complain. When the Lord sball find you bumble acknowledgers of his grace, he will delight to bestow more grace upon you, and will subdue those iniquities for you,

which you cannot. And though he is pleased to do it but gradually, by little and little, yet in the end the conquest shall be full ; and then he who is the author and the finisher of your faith, though it is his own work, yet because it is done in you, he shall account the victory yours, as obtained by you, and give you as conquerors the crown of glory. To him that overcometh, saith he, will I give to sit with me in

my There is nothing here, but from free grace. rage and strength to fight in this spiritual warfare, the victory by fighting, and the crown by victory, flow all from this fountain. In all these things, we are more than conquerors, saith the apostle—but how? through him that loved us. Therefore if we desire to be such, let us humble ourselves before the throne of grace, entreating both for

grace and glory in the name of Christ our Mediator.

CANT. I, s. Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name

is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

The natural workings and desires of things are agreeable to their being. The beasts, according to their sensitive life, seek those things that tend to the good and preservation of that life, and affect nothing higher than those, and they are satisfied. Man, except such men as are in the lowest stage and border upon the beasts, finds nature, even corrupt nature, raising him to higher desires and designs. And yet of the best of them, the apostle's maxim holds true, They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; and yet he subjoins the excellency of some men beyond the best naturalist; They that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit, Rom. viii, 5. They cannot be confined to things natural, but are Div. No. VIII.


« PreviousContinue »