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Full text of "The works of President Edwards .."










xsaac sruRTErANr, pjunt&r, 





sermon XVI.* 

Tht Importance and Advantage of a thorough 
Knowledge of Divine Truth, 

HEBREWS v. 12. 


X HESE words are a complaint, which the apostle 
makes of a certain, defect in the Christian Hebrews, to whom 
he wrote. Wherein we may observe, 

1. What the defect complained of is, viz. A want of such 
a proficiency in the knowledge of the doctrines and mysteries 
of religion, as might have been expected of them- The apos- 
jtle complains of them, that they had not made that progress 

* Dat;d November, 1739. 


in their acquaintance with the things of divinity, or things 
taught in the oracles of God, which they ought to have made. 
And he means to reprove them, not merely for their deficien- 
cy in spiritual and experimental knowledge of divine things, 
but for their deficiency in a doctrinal acquaintance with the 
principles of religion, and the truths of Christian divinity ; as 
is evident by several things. 

It appears by the manner in which the apostle introduces 
this complaint or reproof. The occasion of his introducing 
it, is this : In the next verse but one preceding, he mentions 
Christ's being an high priest after the order of Melchizedek : 
" Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchize- 
dek." This Melchizedek being in the Old Testament, which 
was the oracles of God, held forth as an eminent type of Christ, 
and the account we there have of Melchizedek containing ma- 
ny gospel mysteries, these the apostle was willing to point out 
to the Christian Hebrews. But he apprehended, that through 
their weakness in knowledge, and little acquaintance in mys- 
teries of that nature, they would not understand him; and 
therefore breaks off for the present from saying any thing 
about Melchizedek. Thus, in verse 1 1, " Of whom we have 
many things to say, and hard to be uttered ; seeing ye are dull 
of hearing ;" i e. there are many things concerning Melchiz- 
edek, which contain wonderful gospel mysteries, and which I 
vould take notice of to you, were it not that I am afraid, that 
through your dullness and backwardness in understanding 
these things, you would only be puzzled and confounded by 
my discourse, and so receive no benefit ; and that it would be 
too hard for you, as meat that is too strong. 

Then come in the words of the text : " For when, for the 
time, ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you 
again which be the first principles of the oracles of God ; and 
are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong 
meat." As much as to say, Indeed it might have been ex- 
pected oi you, that you should have known enough ol divin- 
ity, and the holy scriptures, to be able to understand and digest 
such mysteries : 13 ut it is not so with you." 


Again, The apostle speaks of their proficiency in such 
knowledge as is conveyed and received by human teaching; 
as appears by that expression, " When for the time ye ought 
to be te chers ;" which includes not only a practical and ex- 
perimental, but also a doctrinal knowledge of the truths and 
snys-teries of religion. 

Again, The apostle speaks of sugIi a knowledge, whereby 
.Christians are enabled to digest strong meat ; i. e. to under- 
stand those things in divinity which are more abstruse and 
■difficult to be understood, and which require great skill in 
.things of this nature. This is more fully expressed in the 
iwo next verses : For every one that useth milk, is unskilful 
in the word of righteousness ; for he is a babe. But strong 
meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who, 
by reason of use, nave their senses exercised to discern both 
good and evil." 

Again, It is such a knowledge, that proficiency in i': shall 
carry persons beyond the first principles of rel, ;jn. As 
here ; " Ye have need that one teach you again which be the 
first principles of the oracles of God." Therefore the apos- 
tle, in the beginning of the next chapter, advises them, " to 
leave the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and to go 
On unto perfection." 

2. We may observe wherein the fault of this defect ap- 
pears, viz. in that they had not made proficiency according to 
their time. For the time, they ought to have been teachers. 
As they were Christians, their business was to learn and gain 
Christian knowledge. They were scholars in the school of 
Christ; and if they had improved their time in learning, as 
they ought to have done, they might, by the time when the 
apostle wrote, have been fit to be teachers in this school. To 
whatever business any one is devoted, it may be expected that 
his perfection in jt shall be answerable to the time he has had 
to learn and perfect himself.. ..Christians should not always re- 
main babes, but should grow in Christian knowledge ; and, 
leaving the food of babes, which is milk, should learn to di- 
gest strong meat, 



Every Christian should make a business of endeavoring to 
grow in knowledge in divinity. 

This is indeed esteemed the business of divines and minis- 
ters : It is commonly thought to be their work, by the study 
of the scriptures, and other instructive books, to gain knowl- 
edge ; and most seem to think that it may be left to them, as 
- what belongeth not to others. But if the apostle had enter- 
tained this notion, he would never have blamed the Christian 
Hebrews for not having acquired knowledge enough to be 
teachers : Or if he had thought, that this concerned Christ- 
ians in general, only as a thing by the by, and that their time 
should not; in a considerable measure, be taken up with this 
business ; he never would have so much blamed them, that 
their proficiency in knowledge had not been answerable to the 
*ime which they had hud to learn. 

In handling this subject, I shall show, 

1. What divinity is. 

2. What kind of knowledge in divinity is intended in the 

3. Why knowledge in divinity is necessary. 

4. Why all Christians should make a business of endeav- 
oring to grow in this knowledge. 

I. I shall very briefly show what divinity is. 

Various definitions have been given of it by those who 
have treated on the subject. I shall not now stand to enquire 
which, according to the rules of art, is the most accurate defi- 
nition ; but shall so define or describe it, as I think has the 
greatest tendency to convey a notion of it to this auditory. 

By divinity is meant, That science or doctrine which com- 
prehends all those truths and rules which concern the great 
business of religion. There are various kinds of arts and sci- 
ences taught and learned in the schools, which are conversant 


about various objects ; about the works of nature in general, 
as philosophy ; or the visible heavens, as astronomy ; or the 
sea, as navigation ; or the earth, as geography ; or the body 
of man, as physic and anatomy ; or the soul of man, with re- 
gard to its natural powers and qualities, as logic and pneuma- 
tology ; or about human government, as politics and jurispru- 
dence. But there is one science, or one certain kind of knowl- 
edge and doctrine, which is above all the rest, as it is concern- 
ing God and the great business of religion : This is divinity ; 
which is not learned, as other sciences, merely by the im- 
provement of man's natural reason, but is taught by God him- 
self in a certain book that he hath given for that end, full of 
instruction. This is the rule which God hath given to the 
world to be their guide in searching after this kind of knowl- 
edge, and is a summary of all things of this nature needful 
for us to know. Upon this account divinity is rather called a 
doctrine, than an art or science. 

Indeed there is what is called natural religion or divinity, 
There are many truths concerning God, and our dvity to him, 
which are evident by the light of nature. But Christian di- 
vinity, properly so called, is not evident by the light of nature ; 
it depends on revelation. Such are our circumstances now in 
our fallen state, that nothing which it is needful for us to know 
concerning God, is manifest by the light of nature in the man- 
ner in which it is necessary for us to know it. For the knowl- 
edge of no truth in divinity is of any significance to us, any 
otherwise than, as it some way or other belongs to the gospel 
scheme, or as it relates to a Mediator. But the light of nature 
teaches us no truth of divinity in this manner. Therefore it 
cannot be said, that we come to the knowledge of any part of 
Christian divinity by the light of nature. The light of nature 
teaches no truth as it is in Jesus. It is only the word of God, 
contained in the Old and New Testament, which teaches us 
Christian divinity. 

Divinity comprehends all that is taught in the scriptures, 
and so all that we need know, or is to be known, concerning 
God and Jesus Christ, concerning our duty to God, and our 


happiness in God. Divinity is commonly defined, the dec* 
trine of living to God ; and by some who seem to be more ac- 
curate, the doctrine of R ting to God by Christ. It compre- 
hends all Christian doctrines as they are in Jesus, and aU 
Christian rules directing us in living to God by Christ. There 
is nothing in divinity, no one doctrine, no promise, no rule, 
but what some way or other relates to the Christian and divine 
life, or our living to God by Christ. They all relate to this, 
in two respects, viz. as they tend to promote our living to God 
here in this world, in a life of faith and holiness, and also as 
they tend to bring us to a life of perfect holiness and happi- 
ness, in the full enjoyment of God hereafter. ...But I hasten 
to the 

II. Thing proposed, viz. To show what kind of knowl- 
edge in divinity is intended in the doctrine. 

Here I would observe, 

1 . That there are two kinds of knowledge of the things of 
divinity, viz. speculative and practical, or hi other terms, nat- 
ural and spiritual. The former remains only in the head. No 
other faculty but the understanding is concerned in it. It 
consists in having a natural or rational knowledge of the things 
of religion, or such a knowledge as is to be obtained by the 
natural exercise of our own faculties, without any special illu- 
mination of the Spirit of God. The latter rests not entirely 
in the head, or in the speculative ideas of things ; but the 
heart is concerned in it : It principally consists in the sense 
of the heart. The mere intellect, without the heart, the will 
or the inclination, is not the seat of it. And it may not only 
be called seeing, but feeling or tasting. Thus there is a dif- 
ference between having a right speculative notion of the doc- 
trines contained in the word of God, and having a due sense of 
the ni in the heart. In the former consists speculative or nat- 
ural knowledge of the things of divinity ; in the latter con- 
sists the spiritual or practical knowledge of them. 

2. Neither of these is intended in the doctrine exclusively 
of the other : But it is intended that we should seek the form- 
er in order to the latter. The latter, even a spiritual and prac- 


tical knowledge of divinity, is of the greatest importance ; for 
a speculative knowledge of it, without a spiritual knowledge, 
is in vain and to no purpose, but to make our condemnation 
the greater. Yet a speculative knowledge is also of infinite 
importance in this respect, that without it we can have no 
spiritual or practical knowledge ; as may be shown by and by. 
I have already shown, that the apostle speaks not only of a 
spiritual knowledge, but of such knowledge as can be acquir- 
ed, and communicated from one to another. Yet it is not to 
be thought, that he means this exclusively of the other. But 
he would have the Christian Hebrews seek the one, in order 
to the other. Therefore the former is first and most directly 
intended ; it is intended that Christians should, by reading and 
Other proper means, seek a good rational knowledge of the 
things of divinity. The latter is more indirectly intended, 
since it is to be sought by the other, as its end.. ..But I pro- 
ceed to the 

III. Thing proposed, viz. To show the usefulness and ne- 
cessity of knowledge in divinity. 

1. There is no other way by which any means of grace 
whatsoever can be of any benefit, but by knowledge. All 
teaching is in vain, without learning. Therefore the preach- 
ing of the gospel would be wholly to no purpose, if it convey- 
ed no knowledge to the mind. There is an order of men 
whom Christ has appointed on purpose to be teachers in his 
church. They are to teach the things of divinity. But they 
teach in vain, if no knowledge in these things is gained by 
their teaching. It is impossible that their teaching and 
preaching should be a mean of grace, or of any good in the 
hearts of their hearevs, any otherwise than by knowledge im- 
parted to the understanding. Otherwise it wculd be of as 
much benefit to the auditory, if the minister should preach in 
some unknown tongue. All the difference is, that preaching 
in a known tongue conveys something to the understanding, 
which preaching in an unknown tongue doth not. On this 
account, such preaching must be unprofitable. Men in such 

Vol. VIII. B 


things receive nothing, when they understand nothing ; and' 
are not at all edified, unless some knowledge be conveyed ; 
agreeably to the apostle's arguing in 1 Cor xiv. 2... .6. 

No speech can be any mean of grace, but by conveying 
knowledge Otherwise the speech is as much lost as if there 
had been no man there, and he that spoke, had spoken only 
into the air ; as it follows in the passage just quoted, verse 
6.... 10. He that doth not understand, can receive no faith, 
nor any other grace ; for God deals with man as with a ra- 
tional creature ; and when faith is in exercise, it is not about 
something he knows not what. Therefore hearing is abso- 
lutely necessary to faith ; because hearing is necessary to un- 
derstanding, Rom. x. 14. " How shall they believe in him of 
whom they have not heard ?" 

So there can be no love without knowledge. It is not ac- 
cording to the nature of the human soul, to love an object 
which is entirely unknown. The heart cannot be set upon an 
object of which there is no idea in the understanding. The 
reasons which induce the soul to love, must first be under- 
stood, before they can have a reasonable influence on the 

God hath given us the Bible, which is a book of instruc- 
tions. But this book can be of no manner of profit to us, any 
otherwise than as it conveys some knowledge to the mind : It 
can profit us no more than if it were written in the Chinese or 
Tartarian language, of which we know not one word. 

So the sacranvents of the gospel can have a proper effect 
no other way, than by conveying some knowledge. They rep- 
resent certain thingsby visible signs. And what; is the end 
of signs, but to convey some knowledge of the things signi- 
fied ? Such is the nature of man, that nothing can come at the 
heart, but through the door of the understanding : And there 
can be no spiritual knowledge of that of which there is not 
first a rational knowledge. It is impossible that any one 
should sec the truth or excellency of any doctrine of the gos- 
pel, who knows not what that doctrine is. A man cannot sec 
the wonderful excellency and love of Christ in doing such an« i 


such things for sinners, unless his understanding be first in- 
formed how those things were done. He cannot have a taste 
of the sweetness and divine'excellencyof such and such things 
contained in divinity, unless he first have a notion that there 
are such and such things. 

2. Without knowledge in divinity, none would differ from, 
the most ignorant and barbarous Heathens. The Heathens 
remain in gross Heathenish darkness, because they are not 
instructed, and have not obtained the knowledge of the truths 
of divinity. So if we live under the preaching of the gospel, 
this will make us to differ from -them, only by conveying to us 
more knowledge of the things of divinity. 

"3. If man have no knowledge of these things, the faculty 
of reason in him will be wholly in vain. The faculty of reason 
and understanding was given for actual understanding and 
knowledge. If a man have no actual knowledge, the faculty 
or capacity of knowing is of no use to him. And if he have 
actual knowledge, yet if he be destitute of the knowledge of 
those things which are the last end of his being, and for the 
sake of the knowledge of which he had more understanding 
given him than the beasts ; then still his faculty of reason is 
in vain ; he might as well have been a beast, as a man with 
this knowledge. But the things of divinity are the things to 
know which we had the faculty of reason given us. They are 
the things which appertain to the end of our being, and to the 
great business for which we are made. Therefore a man can- 
not have his faculty of understanding to any purpose, any fur- 
ther than he hath knowledge of the things of divinity. 

So that this kind of knowledge is absolutely necessary. 
Other kinds of knowledge may be very useful. Some other 
sciences, such as astronomy, and natural philosophy, and ge- 
ography, may be very excellent in their kind. But the knowl- 
edge of this divine science is infinitely more useful and im- 
portant than that of all other sciences whatever. 

IV. I come now to the fourth, and principal thing propos- 
ed under the doctrine, viz. to give the reasons why all Christ- 


ians should make a business of endeavoring to grow in the 
knowledge of divinity. This implies two things. 

1. That Christians ought not to content themselves with 
auch degrees of knowledge in divinity as they have already ob- 
tained. It should not satisfy them, that they know as much 
as is absolutely necessary to salvation, but should seek to make 

2. That this endeavoring to make progress in such knowl- 
edge ought not to be attended to as a thing by the by, but all 
Christians should make a business of it : They should look 
upon it as a part of their daily business, and no small part of 
it neither. It should be attended to as a considerable part of 
the work of their high calling. The reason of both these may 
appear in the following things. 

(1.) Our business should doubtless much consist in em- 
ploying those faculties, by which we are distinguished from 
the beasts, about those things which are the main end of those 
faculties. The reason why we have faculties superior to 
those of the brutes given us, is, that we are indeed designed 
for a superior employment. That which the Creator intend- 
ed should be our main employment, is something above what 
he intended the beasts for, and therefore hath given us superi- 
or powers. Therefore, without doubt, it should be a consid- 
erable part of our business to improve those superior facul- 
ties. But the faculty by which we are chiefly distinguished 
from the brutes, is the iaculty of understanding. It follows 
then, that we should make it our chief business to improve 
this faculty, and should by no means prosecute it as a business 
by the by. For us to make the improvement of this faculty 
a business by the by, is in effect for us to make the faculty of 
understanding itself a by faculty, if I may so speak, a faculty 
of less importance than others; whereas indeed it is the high- 
est faculty we have. 

But we cannot make a business of the improvement of our 
intellectual faculty, any otherwise than by making a business 
of improving ourselves in actual understanding and knowl- 
edge, bo that those who make not this very much their bus- 


aness ; but instead of improving their understanding to ac- 
quire knowledge, are chiefly devoted to their inferior powers, 
to provide wherewithal to please their senses, and gratify their 
animul appetites, and so rather make their understnding a ser- 
vant to their inferior powers, than their inferior powers ser- 
vants to their understanding ; not only behavethemselves in a 
manner not becoming Christians, but also act as if they had 
forgotten that they are men, and that God hath set them above 
the brutes, by giving them understanding. 

God hath given to man some things in common with the 
brutes, as his outward senses, his bodily appetites, a capacity 
of bodily pleasure and pain, and other animal faculties : And 
some things he hath given him superior to the brutes, the 
chief of which is a faculty of understanding and reason. Now 
God never gave man those faculties whereby he is above the 
brutes, to be subject to those which he hath in common with 
the brutes. This would be great confusion, and equivalent to 
making man to be a servant to the beasts. On the contrary, 
Jie has given those inferior powers to be employed in subser- 
viency to man's understanding ; and therefore it must be a 
great part of man's principal business, to improve his under- 
Standing by acquiring knowledge. If so, then it will follow, 
that it snould be a main part of his business to improve his un- 
derstanding in acquiring divine knowledge, or the knowledge 
of the things of divinity ; for the knowledge of these things is 
the principal end of this faculty. God gave man the faculty 
of understanding, chiefly, that he might understand divine 

The wiser Heathens were sensible that the main business 
of man was the improvement and exercise of his understand- 
ing. But they were in the dark, as they knew not the object 
about which the understanding should chiefly be employed. 
That science which many of them thought should chiefly em- 
ploy the understanding, was philosophy ; and accordingly they 
made it their chief business to study it. But we who enjoy 
the light of the gospel are more happy ; we are not left, as to 
♦his particular, in the dark. God hath told us about what 


things we should chiefly employ our understandings, having 
given us a book full of divine instructions, holding forth many 
glorious objects about which tdl rational creatures should chief- 
ly employ their understandings. These instructions are ac- 
commodated to persons of all capacities and com itions, and 
proper to be studied, not only by men of learning, but by per- 
sons of every character, learned and unlearned, young and old, 
men and women. Therefore the acquisition of knowledge in. 
these things should be a main business of all those who have 
the advantage of enjoying the Holy Scriptures. 

(2.) The tilings of divinity are things of superlative ex- 
cellency, and are worthy that all should make a business of en- 
deavoring to grow in the knowledge of them. There are no 
thing; so worthy to be known as these things. They are as 
much above those things which are treated ot in other scien- 
ces, as heaven is above the earth. God himself the eternal 
Three in one, is the chief object of this science : In the next 
place, Jesus Christ, as Godman and Mediator, and the glori- 
ous work of redemption, the most glorious work that ever 
was wrought : Then the great things of the heavenly woild, 
the glorious and eternal inheritance purchased by Christ, and 
promised in the gospel ; the work of the Holy Spirit of God 
on the hearts of men ; our duty to God, and the way in which 
we ourselves may become like angels, and like God himself 
in our measure : All these are objects of this science. 

Such things as these have been the main subject of the 
Study of the holy patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and the 
most excellent men that ever were in the world, and are also 
the subject of the study of the angels in heaven ; 1 Pet. i. 10, 
II, 12. 

These things are so excellent and worthy to be known, 
that the knowledge of them will richly pay for all the pains and 
labor of an earnest seeking of it. If there were a great treas- 
ure of gold and pearls hid in the earth, but should accidentally 
be found, and should be opened among us with such circum- 
stances that all might have as much as they could gather of 
it j would not every one think it worth his while to make a 


business of gathering it while it should last ? But that treas- 
ure of divine knowledge, which is contained in the Scriptures, 
and is provided for every one to gather to himself as much of 
it as he can, is a far more rich treasure than any one of gold 
and pearls. How busy are all sorts of men, all over the world., 
in getting riches ? But this knowledge is a far better kind of 
riches, than that after which they so diligently and laboriously 

3. The things of divinity not only concern ministers, but 
are of infinite importance to all Christians. It is not with the 
doctrines of divinity as it is with the doctrines of philosophy 
and other sciences These last are generally speculative 
points, which are of lit' le concern in human life ; and it very 
Utile alters the case as to our temporal or spiritual interests, 
■whether we know them «• not. Philosophers differ about 
them, some being of one opinion, and others of another. And 
while they are engaged in warm disputes about them, others 
may well leave them to dispute among themselves, without 
troubling their heads much about them ; it being of little con- 
cern to them, whether the one or the other be in the right. 

But it is not thus in matters of divinity. The doctrines of 
this nearly concern every one. They are about those things 
which relate to every man's eternal salvation and happiness. 
"The common people cannot say, Let us leave these matters 
to ministers and divines ; let them dispute them out among 
themselves as they can ; they concern not us : For they are 
of infinite importance to every man. Those doctrines of di- 
tinity which relate to the essence, attributes, and subsisten- 
ces of God, concern all ; as it is of infinite importance to 
common people, as well as to ministers, to know what kind of 
being God is. For he is the Being who hath made us all, 
" in whom we live, and move, and have our being ;" who is 
the Lord of all ; the Being to whom we are all accountable ; 
is the last end of our being, and the only fountain of our hap- 

The doctrines also which relate to Jesus Christ and his 
mediation, his incarnation, his life and death, his resurrection 


and ascension, his sitting at the right hand of the Father, his 
satisfaction and intercession, infinitely concern common peo- 
ple as well as divines. They stand in as much need of this 
Saviour, and of an interest in his person and offices, and the 
things which he hath done and suffered, as ministers and di- 

The same may be said of the doctrines which relate to the 
manner of a sinner's justification, or the way in which he be- 
comes interested in the mediation of Christ. They equally 
concern all ; for all stand in equal necessity of justification be- 
fore God. That eternal condemnation, to which we are all 
naturally exposed, is equally dreadful. So with respect to 
those doctrines of divinity, which relate to the work of the 
Spirit of God on the heart, in the application of redemption in 
our effectual calling and sanctification, all are equally concern- 
ed in them. There is no doctrine of divinity whatever, which 
doth not some way or other concern the eternal interest of ev- 
ery Christian. None of the things which God hath taught us 
in his word are needless speculations, or trivial matters ; all 
of them are indeed important points. 

4. We may argue from the great things which God hath 
done in order to give us instruction in these things. As to 
other sciences, he hath left us to ourselves, to the light of 
our own reason. But the things of divinity being of infinite- 
ly greater importance to us, he hath not left us to an uncer- 
tain guide ; but hath himself given us a revelation of the truth 
in these matters, and hath done very great things to convey 
and confirm to us this revelation ; raising up many prophets 
in different ages, immediately inspiring them with his Holy 
Spirit, and confirming their doctrine with innumerable mira- 
cles or wonderful works out of the established course of na- 
ture. Yea, he raised up a succession of prophets, which was 
upheld for several ages. 

It was very much fortius end that God separated the peo- 
ple of Israel, in so wonderful a manner, from all other people, 
and kept them separate ; that to them he might commit the 
oracles of God, and that from them they might be communi- 


cated to the world. He hath also often sent angels to bring 
divine instructions to men ; and hath often himself appeared 
to men in miraculous symbols or representations of his pres- 
ence ; and now in these last d.tys hath sent his own Son into 
the world, to be his great prophet, to teach us divinity- Heb. 
I. at the beginning. By means of all, God hath given a book 
of divine instructions, which contains the sum of divinity. 
Now, these things hath God done, not only for the instruction 
of ministers and men of learning ; but for the instruction of 
all men, of all sorts, learned and unlearned, men, women, 
and children. And certainly if God doth such great tilings to 
teach us, we ought not to do little to learn. 

God hath not made giving instructions to men in things 
of divinity a business by the by ; but a business which he hath 
undertaken and prosecuted i:i a course of great and wonderful 
dispensations, as an affair in which his heart hath been great- 
ly engaged ; which is sometimes in scripture signified by the 
expression oi God's rising early to teach us, and to send proph- 
ets and teachers to us. Jer. vii. 25. " Since that day that 
your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt, unto this day, 
I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily 
rising up early, and sending them." And so, verse 13. "I 
spake unto you, vising up early, and speaking." This is a fig* 
urativc speech, signifying, that God hath not done this as a by 
business, but as a business of great importance, in which he 
took great care, and had his heart much engaged ; because 
persons are wont to rise early to prosecute such business as 

they are earnestly engaged in If God hath been so engaged 

in teaching, certainly we should not be negligent in learning ; 
nor should we make growing in knowledge a by busiiiebs> but 
a great part of the business of our lives. 

5. It may be argued from the abundance of the instruc- 
tions which God hath given u:,, from the largeness of that 
book which God hath given to teach us divinity, and from the 
great variety that is therein contained. Much was taught Uy 
Moses of old, which we have transmitted down to us ; after 
that, other books were from time to time added ; much is 

Vol. VIII. C 


taught us by David and Solomon ; and many and excellent 
are the instructions communicated by the prophets* : Yet God 
did not think all this enough, but after this sent Christ and 
his apostles, by whom there is added a great and excellent 
treasure to that holy book, which is to be our rule in the study 
of divinity. 

This book was written for the use of all ; all are directed 
to search the scriptures. John v. S9. " Search the scrip- 
tures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life ; and they are 
they that testify of me ;" and Isaiah nxxiv. 16. " Seek ye out 
of the book of the Lord, and read." They that read and un- 
derstand are pronounced blessed. Rev. i. 3. " Blessed is he 
that readeth,and they that understand the words of this proph- 
ecy." If this be true of that particular book of the Revchiion, 
much more is it true of the Bible in general. Nor is it to be 
believed that God would have given instructions in such abun- 
dance, if he had intended that receiving instruction should be 
unly a by concernment with us. 

It is to be considered, that all those abundant instructions 
which are contained in the scriptures were written for that 
end, that they might be understood ; otherwise they are not 
instructions. That which is not given that the learner may 
understand it, is not given for the learner's instruction ; and 
unless we endeavor to grow in the knowledge of divinity, a 
very great part of those instructions will to us be in vain ; for 
we can receive benefit by no more of the scriptures than we 
understand, no more than if they were locked up in an unknown 
tongue. We have reason to bless God that he hath given us 
such various and plentiful instruction in his word ; but we 
shall be hypocritical in so doing, if we, after all, content our- 
selves with but little of Ibis instruction. 

When God hath opened a very large treasure before us, 
for the supply of our wants, and we thank him that he hath 
given us so much ; if at the same time we be willing to re- 
main destitute of the greatest part of it, because we are too la- 
zy to gather it, this will not show the sincerity of our thankful- 
ness. We arc now under much greater advantages to ac- 


quire knowledge in divinity, than the people of God were of 
old, because since that time, the canon of scripture is much in- 
creased. But if we be negligent of our advantages, we may- 
be never the better for them, and may remain with as little 
knowledge as they. 

6. However diligently we apply ourselves, there is room, 
enough to increase our knowledge in divinity, without com- 
ing to an end. None have this excuse to make for not dili- 
gently applying themselves to gain knowledge in divinity, that 
they know all already ; nor can they make this excuse, that 
they have no need diligently to apply themselves, in order to 
know all that is to be known. None can excuse themselves 
for want of business in which to employ themselves. Here 
is room enough to employ ourselves for ever in this divine 
science, with the utmost application. Those who have ap- 
plied themselves most closely, have studied the longest, and 
have made the greatest attainments in this knowledge, know 
but little of what is to be known. The subject is inexhausti- 
ble. That divine Being, who is the main subject of this sci- 
ence, is infinite, and there is no end to the glory of his perfec- 
tions. His works at the same time are wonderful, and can- 
not be found out to perfection ; especially the work of redemp- 
tion, which is that work of God about which the science of 
divinity is chiefly conversant, is full of unsearchable wo;.ders. 

The word of God, which is given for our instruction in di- 
vinity, contains enough in it to employ us to the end of our 
lives, and then we shall leave enough uninvestigated to em- 
ploy the heads of the ablest divines to the end of the world. 
The Psalmist found an end to the things that are human ; but 
he could never find an end to what is contained in the word of 
God : Psalm cxix. 96. " I have seen an end to all perfection ; 
but thy commandment is exceeding broad." There is enough 
in this divine science to employ the understandings of saints 
and angels to all eternity. 

7. It doubtless concerns every one to endeavor to excel in 
the knowledge of things which pertain to his profession or 
principal calling. If it concerns men to excel in any thing, or 


in any wisdom or knowledge at all, it certainly concerns them 
to excel in the affairs of their main profession and woi k. But 
the calling and work of every Christian is to live to God. 
This is said to be his high catting, Phil. iii. 14. This is the 
business, and, if I may so speak, the trade of a Christian, his 
main work, and indeed should be his only work. No business 
should be done by a Christian, but as it is some way or other 
a part of this. Therefore certainly the Christian should en- 
deavor to be well acquainted with those things which belong 
to this work, that he may fulfil it, and be thoroughly furnished 
to it. 

It becomes one who is called to be a soldier, and to go a 
warfare, t*> endeavor to excel in the art of war. It becomes 
one who is called to be a mariner, and to spend his life in sail- 
ing the^cean, to endeavor to excel in the art of navigation. 
It becomes one who professes to be a physician, and devotes 
himself to that work, to endeavor to excel in the knowledge 
of those things which pertain to the art of physic. So it be- 
comes all such as profess to be Christians, and .to devote them- 
selves to the practice of Christianity, to endeavor to excel in 
the knowledge of divinity. 

8. It may be argued from this, that God hath appointed an 
order of men for this end, to assist persons in gaining knowl- 
edge in these things. He hath appointed them to be teach- 
ers. 1 Cor. xii. 28 ; and God hath set some in the church ; 
first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers : Epb. iv. 
1 1, 12. " He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evan- 
gelists, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the 
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the 
body of Christ." If God hath set them to be teachers, mak- 
ing that their business, then he hath made it their business to 
impart knowledge. But what kind of knowledge ? Not the 
knowledge of philosophy, or of human laws, or of mechanical 
arts, but of divinity. 

If God have made it the business of some to be teachers, it 
will follow, that he hath made it the business of others to be 
learners ; for teachers and learners are correlates, cr.e of 


which was never intended to be without the other- God hath 
never made it the duty of some to take pains to teach those 
who arc not obliged to take pains to learn. He hath not com- 
manded ministers to spend themselves, in order to impart 
knowledge to those who are not obliged to apply themselves 
to receive it. 

The name by which Christians are commonly called in 
the New Testament is disciples, the signification of which 
word is scholars or learners. All Christians are put into the 
school of Christ, where their business is to learn, or receive 
knowledge from Christ, their common master and teacher, 
and from those inferior teachers appointed by him to instruct 
in his name. 

9. God hath in the scriptures plainly revealed it to be his 
will, that all Christians should diligently endeavor to excel in 
the knowledge of divine tilings. It is the revealed will of 
God, that Christians should not only have some knowledge of 
things of this nature, but that they should be enriched with all 
knowledge : 1 Cor. i. 4, 5. " I thank my God always on your 
behalf, for the grace of God that is given you by Jesus Christ, 
that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, 
and in all knowledge." So the apostle earnestly prayed, that 
the Christian Philippians might abound more and more, not 
only in love, but in Christian knowledge ; Philip, i. 9. " And 
this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in 
knowledge, and in all judgment." So the Apostle Peter ad- 
vises to "give all diligence, to add to faith virtue, and to virtue 
knowledge." 2 Pet. i. 5. And the Apostle Paul, in the next 
chapter to that wherein is the text, counsels the Christian 
Hebrews, leaving tlft first principles of the doctrine of Christ, 
to go on to perfection. He would by no means have them al- 
ways to rest only in those fundamental doctrines of repentance, 
and faith, and the resurrection from the dead, and the eternal 
judgment, in which they were indoctrinated when they were 
first baptised, and had the apostles' hand3 laid on them, at 
their first initiation in Christianity. See Heb. vi. at the be- 



The use that I would make of this doctrine is, to exhort 
all diligently to endeavor to gain this kind of knowledge. 

Consider yourselves as scholars or disciples, put into the 
school of Christ; and therefore be diligent to make profi* 
ciency in Christian knowledge. Content not yourselves with 
this, that you hive been taught your catechism in your child- 
hood, and that you know as much of the principles of religion 
as is necessary to salvation. So you will be guilty of what the 
apostle warns against, viz. going no further than laying the 
foundation of repciuaiice from d<;acl works, Sec. 

You arc all called to be Christians, and this is your profes- 
sion. Endeavor, therefore, to acquire knowledge in things 
which pertain to your profession. Lee not your teachers have 
cause to complain, that while they spend and are spent, to im- 
part knowledge to you, you take little pains to learn. It is a 
great encouragement to an instructor, to have such to teach 
as make a business of learning, bending their minds to it. 
This makes teaching a pleasure, when otherwise it will be a 
very heavy and burdensome task. 

You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, 
in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not 
contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath 
spoken much to you in the scriptures : labor to understand as 
much of what he suith as you can. God hath made you all 
reasonable creatures ; therefore let not the noble faculty of 
reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not your- 
selves with having so much knowledge as is thrown in your 
way, and as you receive in some sense unavoidably by the fre- 
quent inculcation of divine truth in the preaching of the word, 
of which you are obliged to be hearers, or as you accidentally 
gain in conversation ; but let it be very much your business 
to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor 
With which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold. 


Especially I would advise those that are young to employ 
themselves in this way. Men are never too old to learn ; but 
the li :ie of youm is especially the time for learning ; it is es- 
pecially proper for gaining and storing up knowledge. Fur- 
ther, to stir up all, both old and young, to this duty, let me en- 
treat you to consider, 

1. If you apply yourselves diligently to this work, you will 
not want employment, when you are at leisure from your 
common secular business. In this way, you may find some- 
thing in which you may profitably employ yourselves these 
long winter evenings. You will find something else to do, 
besides going about from house to house, spending one hour 
after another in unprofitable conversation, or, at best, to no 
other purpose but to amuse yourselves, to fill up and wear 
away your time. And it is to be feared that very much of the 
time that is spent in our winter evening visits, is spent to a 
much worse purpose than that which I have now mentioned. 
Solomon tells us, Prov. x. 19. "That in the multitude of 
words, there wanteth not sin." And is not this verified in 
those who find nothing else to do for so great a partof the win- 
ter, but to go to one another's houses, and spend the time in 
such talk as comes next, or such as any one's present disposi- 
tion happens to suggest ? 

Some diversion is doubtless lawful ; but for Christians to 
spend so much of their time, so many long evenings, in no 
other conversation than that which tends to divert and amuse, 
if nothing worse, is a sinful way of spending time, and tends 
to poverty of soul at least, if not to outward poverty : Prov. 
xiv. 23. " In all labor there is profit; but the talk of the lips 
tendeth only to fienury" Besides, when persons for so much 
of their time have nothing else to do but to sit, and talk, and 
chat in one another's chimney corners, there is great danger 
of falling into foolish and sinful conversation, venting their 
corrupt dispositions, in talking against others, expressing 
their jealousies and evil surmises concerning their neighbors; 
not considering what Christ hath said, Matth. xii 35. " Of 


every idle word that men shall speak, shall they give account 
in the day of judgment." 

If you would ..comply with what you have heard from this 
doctrine, you would find something else to spend your winters 
in, one winter after another, besides contention, or talking 
about those public affairs which tend to contention. Young 
people might find something else to do, besides spend- 
ing their time in vain company ; something that would be 
much more profitable to themselves, as it would really turn to 
some good account; something, in doing which they would 
both be more out of the devil's way, the way of temptation, 
and be more in the way of duty, and of a divine blessing And 
even aged people would have something to employ them- 
selves in, after they ure become incapable of bodily labor. 
Their time, as is now often the case, would not lie heavy up- 
on their hands, as they would, with both profit and pleasure, 
be engaged in searching the scriptures, and in comparing and 
meditating upon the various truths which they should find 

2. This would be a noble way of spending your time. The 
Holy Spirit gives the Bereans this epithet, because they dili- 
gently employed themselves in this business : Acts xvii. 11. 
" These were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that 
they received the word with all readiness of mind, and search- 
ed the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." This 
is very much the employment of heaven. The inhabitants of 
that world spend much of their time in searching into the 
great things of divinity, wnd endeavoring to acquire knowl- 
edge in them, as we are told of the angels, 1 Pet. i. 12. 
" Which things the angels desire to look into." This will be 
very agreeable to what you hope will be your business to all 
eternity, as you doubtless hope to join in the same employ- 
ment with the angels of light. Solomon says, Prov. xxv. 2. 
u It is the honor of kings to search out a matter ;" and cer- 
tainly, above all others, to search out divine matters. Now, 
if this be the honor even of kings, is it not equally, if not much 
more your honor ? 


3. This is a pleasant way of improving time. Knowledge 
is pleasant and delightful to intelligent creatures, and above 
all the knowledge of divine things ; for in them are the most 
excellent truths, and the most beautiful and amiable objects 
held forth to view. However tedious the labor necessarily- 
attending this business may be, yet the knowledge once ob- 
tained will richly requite the pains taken to obtain it. " When, 
wisdom entereth the hearts knowledge is pleasant to the soul," 
Prov. ii. 10. 

4. This knowledge is exceeding useful in Christian prac- 
tice. Such as have much knowledge in divinity have great 
means and advantages for spiritual and saving knowledge ; 
for no means of grace, as was said before, have their effect on 
the heart, otherwise than by the knowledge they impart. The 
more you have of a rational knowledge of the things of the 
gospel, the more opportunity will there be, when the Spirit 
shall be breathed into your heart, to see the excellency of 
these things, and to taste the sweetness of them. The Hea- 
thens, who have no rational knowledge of the things of the 
gospel, have no opportunity to see the excellency of them ; 
and therefore the more rational knowledge of these things you 
have, the more opportunity and advantage you have to see the 
divine excellency and glory of them. 

Again, The more knowledge you have of divine things, 
the better will you know your duty ; your knowledge will be 
of great use to direct you as to your duty in particular cases. 
You will also be the better furnished against the temptations 
of the devil. For the devil often takes the advantage of per- 
sons' ignorance to ply them with temptations which otherwise 
would have no hold of them. 

By having much knowledge, you will be under greater ad- 
vantages to conduct yourselves with prudence and discretion 
in your Christian course, and so to live much more to the 
honor of God and religion. Many who mean well, and are 
full of a good spirit, yet for want of prudence, conduct them- 
selves so as to wound religion. Many have a zeal of God, 
which doth more hurt than good, because it is not according 

Vol. VIII. D 


to knowledge, Rom. x. 2. The reason why many good men' 
behave no better in many instances, is not so much th.a they 
want grace, as that they want knowledge. 

Beside, an increase of knowledge would be a great help to 
profitable conversation. It would supply you with matter for 
conversation when you come together, or when you visit your 
neighbors : And so you would have less temptation to spend 
the time in such conversation as tends to your own and oth- 
ers* hurt. 

5. Consider the advantages you are under to grow in the 
knowledge of divinity. We are under far greater advantages 
to gain much knowledge in divinity now, than God's people 
under the Old Testament, both because the canon of scrip- 
ture is so much enlarged since that time, and also because 
evangelical truths are now so- much more plainly revealed. 
So that common men are now in some respects under advan- 
tages to know more of divinity, than the greatest prophets 
were then. Thus that saying of Christ is in a sense applica- 
ble to us, Luke x. 23, 24. " Blessed are the eyes which see 
the things which ye see. For I tell you. that many prophets 
and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and 
have not seen them ; and to hear those things which ye hear, 
and have not heard them." We are in some respects under 
far greater advantages for gaining knowledge, now in these 
latter ages of the church, than Christians were formerly ; es- 
pecially by reason of the art of printing, of which G«>d hath 
given us the benefit, whereby Bibles and other books of divin- 
ity arc exceedingly multiplied] and persons may now be fur- 
nished with helps for the obtaining of Christian knowledge, 
at a much easier and cheaper rate than they formerly could. 

6. Wc know not what opposition we may meet with in 
the principles which wc hold in divinity. We know that. 
there are nwiy adversaries to the gospel and hs truths. If 
therefore we embrace those truths, we must expect to be at- 
tacked by the said adversaries ; and unless we be well iniotm - 
ed concerning divine things, how shall we be able to cefend 
ourselves ? Beside, the Apostle Peter enjoins it upon us, al- 


ways to he ready to give an answer to every man who asketh 
vis a reason of the hope that is in us. But this we cannot ex- 
pect to do without considerable knowledge in divine things. 

I shall now conclude my discourse with some directions for 
the acquisition of this knowledge. 

1. Be assiduous in reading the holy scriptures. This is 
the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be deriv- 
ed. Therefore let not this treasure Tie by you neglected. 
Every man of common understanding who can read, may, if 
he please, become well acquainted with the scriptures. And 
what an excellent attainment would this be I 

2. Content not yourselves with only a cursory reading, 
without regarding the sense. This is an ii way of reading, 
to wnich, however, many accustom themselves all their days. 
When you read, observe what you read. Observe how things 
come in. Take notice of the drift of the discourse, and com- 
pare one scripture with another. I or the scripture, by. the 
harmony of the different parts of it, casts great light upon it- 
self. We are expressly directed by Christ, to m'arch the 
scriptures, which evidently intends something more than a 
niere cursory reading. And use means to find out the mean- 
in ; of the scripture. When you have it explained in the 
preaching of tne word, take notice .of it ; ana if at any time a 
scripture that you uiu not understand be cleared up to your 
satisfaction, mark it, lay it up, and if possible remember it. 

3. Procure, and diligently use other books which may help 
you to grow in this knowledge. There are many excellent 
booKS extant, which mi^ht greatly forward you in this knowl- 
edge, and afford you a very pro fitable and pleasant entertain- 
ment in your leisure hours. There is doubtless a great de- 
fect in many, that through a loathness to be at a little expense, 
they iurnish themselves with no more helps of this nature. 
They have a few books indeed, which now and then on sab- 

. bath days they read ; but they have had them so long, and 
read them so often, that they are weary of them, and it is now 
become a dull story, a mere task to read them. 


4. Improve conversation with others to this end. How 
much might persons promote each others' knowledge in di- 
vine things, if they would improve conversation as they might; 
jf men that are ignorant were not ashamed to show their igno- 
rance, and were willing to learn of others ; if those that have 
knowledge would communicate it, without pride and ostenta- 
tion ; and if all were more disposed to enter on such conver- 
sation as would be for their mutual edification and instruc- 

5. Seek not to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of 
applause, and to enable you to dispute with others ; but seek 
it for the benefit of your souls, and in ordc>* to practice. If ap- 
plause be your end, you will not be so likely to be led to the 
knowledge of the truth, but may justly, as often is the case of 
those who are proud of their knowledge, be led into error to 
youi own perdition. This being w>ur end, if you should ob- 
tain much rational knowledge, it would not be likely to be of 
any benefit to you, but would puff you up with pride : 1 Cor. 
viii. 1. " Knowledge puffeih up." 

6. Seek to God, that he would direct you, and bless you, 
in this pursuit after knowledge. This is the apostle's direc- 
tion, James i. 5. " If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of 
God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not." God is 
the fountain of all divine knowledge. Prov. ii. 6. " The Lord 
giveth wisdom : Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and 
understanding." Labor to be sensible of your own blindness 
and ignorance, and your need of the help of God, lest you be 
led into error, instead of true knowledge. 1 Cor. iii. 18 " If 
any man would be wise, let him become a fool, that he may be 

7. Practice according to what I nowledge you have. This 
will be the way to now more The Psalmist warmly recom- 
mends this way of sec ing knowledge in divinity, from his 
own experience, Psal. cxix. 100. " 1 understand more than 
the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." Christ also re- 
commends the same, John vii. 17. "It any man will do his 
will, he sh .11 I una of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or 
whether I speak of myself." 


God the best portion of the Christii 

PSALM Ixxiii. 25. 


1 HE Psalmist, in this psalm, relates the great 
difficulty that he met with in his own mind, from the consid- 
eration of the prosperity of wicked men. He tells us, ver. 2 
and 3, " As for me, my feet were almost gone ; my steps had 
well nigh slipt. For I was envious at the foolish, when 1 saw 
the prosperity of the wicked." In the 4th and following vers- 
es, he informs us, what it was he had observed in the wic! ed, 
which was his temptation. In the first place, he observed, 
that they wefe very prosperous, and all things went well with 
them. He then observed their behavior in their prosperity, 
and the use which they made of it ; and that God, notwith- 
standing such an use or abuse, continued their prosperity, as 
in the 6th and following verses. Then the Psalmist tells us 
by what means he was helped out of this difficulty, viz. by go- 
ing into the sanctuary, verses 16, 17 ; and proceeds to inform 

* Dated April, 1736. 


us what considerations they were which helped him, viz. 
these three : 

1. The consideration of the miserable end of wicked men. 
However they prosper for the present, yet they come to a 
woful end at last, ver. 18, 19, 20 

2. The con side ration of the blessed end of the saints. Al- 
though the saints, while they Jive, may be afflicted, yet they 
come to an happy end at Est, ver. 2 1, 22, 23, 24. 

3. The consideration, that the godly have a much better 
por'jon tlu.n the v lcked, even though they have no other por- 
tion but God ; as in the text and following verse. If it be so, 
that the wicked are in prosperity, and are not in trouble as other 
men; yet the godly, though they be in affliction, are in a state 
infinitely better than the wicked, because thev have God for 
their portion. However they may have nothing else, this is 
enough, without the enjoyments of wicked men; they need 
desire nothing else; he that hath God, hath all. Thus the 
Psalmist professes it was with him, in the sense and aprehen- 
sion which he had of things : Whom have I in luavcn but thee? 
An I there is now ufion earth that I derre besidi s the. 

In the verse immediately preceding, the Psalmist takes 
notice how the s.jnts are happy in God, both when they are 
here in this world, and also when they are taken to another 
world. They are biessed in God in this world, in that while 
here God guides them by his counsel ; and when he takes them 
out of this world, they are still happy, in that then God re* 
ce : ved them to glory. The Psalmist having thus taken notice 
of the happiness of the s-iints in God, both while here upon 
earth, and also when removed into another world, was proba- 
blv by thio observation led, in the next verse, which is the 
text, to declare that he desired no other portion, either in 
this world or in the world to come, either in heaven or upon 


It is the spirit of a truly godly man, to prefer God before 
all other things, either in heaven or on earth, 



I. A godly man prefers God before any thing else m 

1. He prefers God before any thing else that actvalh' it in 
heaven. Every godly man hath his heart in heaven ; his af- 
fections are mainly set on heaven, and what is to be had there 
Heaven is his chosen country and inheritance. He huth res- 
pect to heaven, as a traveller who is on occasion abroad in a. 
distant land hath to his own country. The traveller can con- 
tent himself to be in a strange land for a while, until his pres- 
ent occasion and business be over ; but his own native land is- 
preferred by him to all others. Heb. xi. 15, he. "These all 
died in faith, not having received the promises, but were per- 
suaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they 
Were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say 
such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And 
truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence 
they came out, they might have had opportunity to have re- 
turned : But now they desire a better country, that is, an 

So also the respect which a godly person hath to heaven-j 
may be compared to the respect which a child, when he is. 
abroad, hath to his father's house. He can be contented: 
abroad for a little while ; but the place to which he desires to 
return, and in which to dwell, is his own home at his father's- 
house. Heaven is the true saint's father's house. John xiv, 
2. " In my Father's house are many mansions." John xx. 17". 
"T ascend to my Father and your Father." 

Now, the mam reason why the godly man hath his heart 
thus in heaven, is because God is there ; that is the palace of 
the most high God ; it is the place where God is gloriously 
present, where he is to be seen, where he is to be enjoyed, 
where his love is gloriously manifested, where the godly may 
be with him, see him as he is, and love, serve, praise, and en- 
joy him perfectly. It is for this chiefly that a godly maa tie- 
sires heaven. If God and Christ were not in heaven, he would 
not be so earnest in seeking it- nor would he take so much 
jxiins in a laborious travel through this wilderness, nor would 


the consideration that he is going to heaven when he dies, be 
such a comfort to him under the toils and afflictions of the 
world, as it now is. The martyrs would not undergo those 
cruel sufferings which are brought upon them by their perse- 
cutors, with that cheerfulness in a prospect of going to heav- 
en, did they not expect to go and be with Christ, and to enjoy 
God there. They would not with that cheerfulness forsake 
all their earthly possessions, and all their earthly f:knds, as 
many thousands of them have done, and wander about in pov- 
erty and banishment, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, in 
hopes of exchanging their earthly for i-.n heavenly inherit- 
ance, were it not that they hope to be with their glorious Re- 
deemer and heavenly Father in heaven. 

If God and Christ were not in heaven, however beautiful 
the place be, and Avhatever excellent creature inhabitants 
there be there, yet heaven would be but an empty place, it 
would be but an unlovely place. The believer's heart is in 
heaven, because his treasure is there ; and that treasure is 
Jesus Christ, the same that we read of in Matth. xiii. 44, 
which is there called " a treasure hid in a field, which, when 
a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and 
selleth all he hath, and buycth that field." 

2. A godly man prefers God before any thing else that 
might be in heaven. Not only is there nothing actually in 
heaven, Which is in his esteem equal with God ; but neither 
is there any thing of which he can conceive as possible to be 
there, which by him is esteemed and desired equally with God. 
Those of some nations and professions suppose quite differ- 
ent enjoyments to be in heaven, from those which the scrip- 
tures teach us to be there. The Mahometans, for instance, 
suppose that in heaven are to be enjoyed all manner of sensual 
delights and pleasures. Many things which Mahomet has 
feigned are, io the lusts and carnal appetites of men, the most 
agreeable that he could devise ; and he flattered his followers 
with promises of such enjoyments in heaven. 

But the true saint, if he were to contrive such an heaven 
as would suit him best, could not contrive one more agreeable 


to his inclination and desires, than such an one as is revealed 
in the word of God ; an heaven of the enjoyment of the glo- 
rious God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, where he shall have all 
sin taken away, and shall be perfectly conformed to God, 
where he shall have a perfect acquaintance with God, and shall 
spend an eternity in exalted exercises of love to God, and in 
the enjoyment of his love. Such an heaven is to the saint 
better than any Mahometan paradise ; it is the best heaven 
that can possibly be ; there is no happiness conceived of, that 
would be better, or that would appear so desirable to him, as 
this. If God were not to be enjoyed in heaven, but, instead of 
that, there were vast wealth, immense treasures of silver and 
gold, and great honor of such kind as men obtain in this world, 
and a fulness of the greatest sensual delights and pleasures; 
all these things would not make up for the vvant of God and 
Christ, and the enjoyment of them there. If it were empty of 
God, it would indeed be an empty melancholy place. 

The godly have been made sensible, as to all creature en- 
joyments, that they cannot satisfy the soul, and that happiness 
is in God; and there fo'ie nothing wiii content ihem bui God. 
Offer a saint what you will, if you deny him God, he will es- 
teem himself miserable. His soul thirsts for Clod, to come 
and appear before God.' God is the centre of his desires; 
and as long as you keep his soul from its proper centre, it will 
not be at rest. The true saint sets his heart on L.od as the 
chief good. 

II. It is the spirit of a godly man to prefer God before all 
6ther things on the earth. 

1. The saint prefers that enjoyment of Cod, for which he 
hopes hereafter, to any thing in this world. He looketh not 
at the things which are seen, and are temporal, so much as at 
those things which ate unseen and eternal, 1 Cor. iv. 18. It 
is but a little of God that the saint enjoys here in this world- ; 
he hath but a little acquaintance with God, and enjoys but a 
little of the manifestations of the divine glory and love. But 
God hath promised to give him himself hereafter in a full en- 

Vol. VIII. E 


joyment. And these promises of God are more precious to 
the saint, than the most precious earthly jewels. The gospel 
which contains these promises, cloth therein contain greater 
treasures, in his es'eem, than the cabinets of princes, or the 
mines of the Indies. 

2. The saints prefer what of God may be obtained in this 
world before all things in the world. They not only prefer 
those glorous degrees of the enjoyment of God which are 
promised hereafter, before any thing in this world ; but even 
such degrees as may be attained to here in the present state, 
though they are immensely short of ulna is to be enjoyed in 
heaven. There is a great difference in the spiritual attain- 
ments of the saints in this world. Some attain to much great- 
er acquaintance and communion with God, and conformity to 
him, than others. But the highest attainments are very small 
in comparison with what is future. 

The saints are capable of making progress in spiritual at- 
tainments, and of obtaining more of God than ever yet they 
have obtained ; and they are of such a spirit that they earnest- 
ly desire such further attainments. Not contented with those 
degrees to which they have already attained, they hunger and 
thirst after righteousness, and, as newborn babes, desire the 
sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. It is 
their desire, to know more of God, to have more of his image, 
and to be enabled more to imitate God and Christ in their 
walk and conversation. The appetite of the soul of a godly- 
man is alter God and Jesus Christ, as appears by many places 
of scripture ; as Psalm xxvii. 4. " One thing have I desired 
of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the 
house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty 
of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psalm xlii. 1, 2, 
** A.i the hart panteth after the water brooks, so pantcth my 
soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the 
living God: When shall I come and appear before God?" 
Psalm Ixiii. 1.2. " O God thou art my God, early will I seek 
thee ; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for ihee in 
a dry and thirsty land, where no water is ; to see thy power 


and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.** See 
also, Psalm lxxxiv. 1, 2, 3, and Psalm cxxx 6. "My soul 
waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morn- 
ing : I say, more than they that watch for the morning." 

Though every saint has not this longing desire after God 
to the same degree that the Psalmist had, yet they are all of 
the same spirit ; they have a spirit earnestly to desire and 
long for more of God, to he nearer to him, to have more of 
his presence and of the light of his countenance, and to have 
more of God in their hearts. That this is the spirit of the 
godly in general, and not of some particular saints only, ap- 
pears from Isa. xxvi. 8, 9, where not any particular saint, but 
the church in general speaks thus: " Yea, in the way of thy 
judgments, O Lord,have we waited for thee ; the desire of our 
soul is to thy name, .md to the remembrance of thee. With 
ro> soul have I desired thee in the night, and with my spirit 
within me will I seek thee early." 

It appears also to ue the spirit of the saints in general, by 
some exprcssionsof the spouse or the church in the Canticle ; 
as chapter iii. 1,2. " By night on my bed I sought him whom 
my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not. I will 
rise now, and go about the city ; in the streets and broad ways 
I will seek him whom my soul loveth." So chapter v. 6, 8. 
" I sought him, but I could not find him ; I called him, but he 
gave me no answer. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, 
if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love." 
. The saints are not always in the lively exercise of such a 
spirit ; but such a spirit they have, and sometimes they have 
the sensible exercise of it: They have a spirit to desire God 
and divine attainments, more than all earthly things. They 
desire and seek to be rich in grace, more than they do to get 
earthly riches. They seek snd desire the honor which is of 
God, more than that which is of men, John v. 44. They de- 
sire communion with God, more than any earthly pleasures 
whatsoever. They are in some measure of the same spirit 
which the apostle expresses in Philip iii. 8. " Yea, doubtless, 
snd I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the 


knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, and do count them but 
dung that I may win Christ. 7 ' 

3. The saint prefers what he hath already of God before 
any thing in this world. That which was infused into his 
heart at his conversion, is more precious to him than any 
thing which the world can afford. The knowledge and ac- 
quaintance which he hath with God, though it be but little, he 
would not part with for any thing that the world can afford. 
The views which are sometimes given him of the beauty and 
excellency of God, are more precious to him than all the 
treasures of the wicked. The relation of a child in which he 
stands to God, the union which there is between his soul and 
Jesus Christ, he values more than the greatest earthly digni- 
ty ; he had rather have this, than to be the child of a prince. 
He would not part with the honor which God hath been pleas- 
ed to put on him by bringing him so near to him, to be set up- 
on an earthly throne, or to wear an earthly crown, though it 
were the most splendid that ever was worn by any earthly po- 

That image of God which is instamped on his soul, he 
values more than any earthly ornaments. It is, in his esteem, 
better to be adorned with the graces of God's Holy Spirit, than 
to be made to shine in jewels of gold, and the most costly 
pearls, or to be admired for the greatest external beauty. He 
values the robe of the righteousness of Christ, which he hath 
on his soul, more than the robes of princes. The spiritual 
pleasures and delights which he sometimes has in God, he 
prefers far before all the pleasures of sin, Psalm lxxxiv. 10. 
" A day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather 
be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents 
of wickedness." 

A saint thus prefers'God before all things in this world, 
1. As he prefers God before any thing else that he pos- 
sesses in the world. Whatever temporal enjoyments he has, 
he prefers God to them all. If he have pleasant earthly ac- 
commodations ; yctit is with respectto God, and not his earth 


ly accommodations, that he saith, as in Psalm xvi. 5,6. " The 
Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup : Thou 
maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant 
places; yea, I have a goodly heritage," If he he rich, yet he 
chiefly sets his heart, not on his earthly, but his heavenly riches. 
He prefers God before any earthly friend, and the favor of God 
before any respect that is shown him by his fellow creatures, 
Although a godly man may have many earthly enjoyments, 
yet in his heart he sets God above them all. Although he 
may give these room in his heart, and too much room ; yet 
he reserves the throne for God ; Luke xiv. 26. " If any man. 
come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, 
and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life 
also, he cannot be my disciple." 

2. He prefers God before any earthly enjoyment of which 
he hath a fironfiect. The children of men commonly set their 
hearts more on some earthly happiness for which they hope, 
and after which they are seeking, than on what they have in 
present possession. They very much live upon vain hopes 
of happiness in earthly things, an happiness which they imag- 
ine is to be obtained by and by. But a godly man prefers God 
to any thing which he has in prospect, or is seeking in the 
world. He may, indeed, through the prevalence of corrup- 
tion, for a season be carried aw ay and swallowed up, with some 
enjoyment which he is pursuing ; however, he will again 
come to himself ; this is not the temper of the man, he is of 
another spirit. 

3. It is the spirit of a godly man to prefer God to any earth- 
ly enjoyment of which he can conceive. He not only prefers 
him to any thing which he now possesses ; but he sees noth- 
ing possessed by any of his neighbors, or any of his fellow 
creatures, that he has such an esteem of, as he has of God. 
If he could have as much worldly prosperity as he would, if 
he could have earthly things, just to his mind, and agreeable 
to his inclination ; he values the portion which he has in God, 
above such a portion as this : He prefers Christ to earthly 



1. Hence we may learn, that whatever changes a godly 
man passes through, he is happy ; because God, who is un- 
changeable, is his chosen portion. If he meet with temporal 
losses, and be deprived of many of his temporal enjoyments, 
or of all of them ; yet God, whom he prefers before all those 
things which he hath lost, still remains, and cannot be lost. 
While he stays here in this changeable, troublesome world, 
yet he is happy, because his chosen portion, on which he builds, 
as his main foundation for happiness, is above the world, and 
above all changes. And if he die and go into another world, 
still he is happy, because that portion, which he prefers to all 
that is either in this or another world, yet remains. YV hatev- 
er he be deprived of, he cannot be deprived of his chief por- 
tion ; his inheritance remains sure to him. 

If worldly minded men could find out a way to secure to 
themselves some certain earthly enjoyments, on which they 
mainly set their hearts, so that they could not be lost, nor im- 
paired while they live, how great would they account the priv- 
ilege, though other things which they esteem in a less degree 
were liable to the same uncertainty as they now are ? Where- 
as now, those earthly enjoyments, on which men chiefly set 
their hearts, are often most fading. But how great is the hap- 
piness of those who have chosen the Fountain of all good, and 
prefer him before all things in heaven or en earth, as they 
can never be deprived of him to all eternity 1 

2. Let all by these things examine and try themselves, 
whether they be saints or not. As this which hath been ex- 
hibited is the spirit of the saints, so it is peculiar to them : 
None can use the language of the text, and say, ]\'hcm have Z 
in heaven but (Jue ? And there is none upon earth that I desire 
besides thee, but the saints. A man's choice is that which de- 
termines his state. He that chooses God for his portion, and 


prefers him to all other things, is a godly man, for he chooses 
and worships God as God. To respect God as God, is to re- 
spect him ahove all other things ; and if any man respect God 
as his God, his God he is ; there is an union and covenant re- 
lation between that man and the true God. 

Every man is as his God is. If you would know what a 
man is, whether he be a godly man or not, you must inquire 
what his God is. If the true God be he whom he respects as 
his God, i. e. to whom he hath a supreme respect, and whom 
he regards above all ; he is doubtless a godly man, a servant 
of the true God. But if the man have some other god, some- 
thing else to which he pays a greater sespect than to Jeho- 
vah, he is not a godly man ; God is not his God ; he doth not 
worship him for his God, nor doth he belong to God, as one of 
his people. 

Inquire, therefore, how it is with you, whether you prefer 
God before all other things. It may sometimes be some dif- 
ficulty for persons to determine this to their satisfaction ; the 
ungodly may be deluded with false affections ; the godly in 
dull frames may be at a loss about it. Therefore you may 
try yourselves as to this matter these several ways ; if you 
cannot speak fully to one thing, yet you may perhaps to others. 

(1.) What is it which chiefly makes you desire to go t® 
heaven when you die ? Indeed some have no great desire to 
go to heaven. They do not care to go to hell ; but if they 
could but be safe from that, they would not much concern 
themselves about heaven. If it be not so with you, but you 
find that you have a desire to go to heaven, then inquire what 
it is for. Is the main reason, that you may be with God, have 
communion with Mm, and be conformed to him ? That you 
may see God, and enjoy him there ? Is the consideration that 
these things are to be had in heaven, that which keeps your 
heart, and yourdesires,and yourexpectations towards heaven i 

(2.) If you could avoid death, and might have your free 
choice, would you choose to live always in this world without 
God, rather than in God's time to leave the world, in order to 
be with God in the full enjoyment of him ? If you might live 


here in earthly prosperity to all eternity, but destitute of the 
presence of God and communion with him, having no spiritu- 
al divine intercourse between God and your souls, God and 
you being strangers to each other for ever ; would you choose 
this rather than to leave the world, in order to go and dwell in 
God's house in heaven, as the children of God, there to enjoy 
the glorious privileges of children, in ah acquaintance with 
God, in an holy and perfect love to God, and enjoyment of him 
to all eternity ? 

(3.) Do you prefer Christ to all others as the way to heav- 
en ? He who chooses God, and prefers him, as hath been spo- 
ken of, he prefers him in each person of the Trinity, Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost ; the Father, as his 1 ather ; the Son, as 
his Saviour ; the Holy Ghost, as his Sanctifier. Inquire, 
therefore, not only whether you choose the enjoyment of 
God in heaven as your highest portion and happiness, but also 
whether you choose Jesus Christ before all others, as your 
■way to heaven ; and that in a sense of the excellency of Christ, 
and of the way of salvation by him, as being that which is to 
the glory of Christ, and to the glory of sovereign grace. Is 
the way of free grace, by the blood and righteousness of the 
blessed and glorious Redeemer, the most excellent way to life 
in your esteem ? Doth it add a value to the heavenly inherit- 
ance, that it is conferred in this, way ? Is this far better to yoi: 
than to be saved by your own righteousness, by any of your 
own performances, or by any other mediator ? 

(4.) If you might go to heaven in what course you please* 
would you prefer to all others the way of a strict walk with 
God ? They that prefer God as hath been represented, choose 
God, as you have heard, not only hereafter, but here ; they 
choose and prefer him, not only in the end, but in the way. 
They had i ather be with God than with any other, when they 
come to the end of their journey ; and not only so, but they 
had rather have God with them than any other, while they are 
in the way thither. Their chosen way of going to heaven is 
a way of strict walking with God. They would neither fail of 
coming to God in the end, nor would they depart from God by 


the way. They choose the way of walking with God, though 
it be a way of labor, and care, and selfdenial, rather than a way 
of sin, though it be a way of sloth, and of gratifying their 

(5.) If it were so, that you were to spend your eternity 
here in this world, would you choose rather to live in mean 
and low circumstances with the gracious presence of Cod, 
than to live for ever in earthly prosperity without Cod hi the 
world ? If you were to spend your eternity in this world, 
would you rather spend it in a way of holy living, in serving 
and walking with God, and in the enjoyment of the privileges 
of the children of God, having God often manifesting himself 
to you as your Father, discovering to you his glory, and mani- 
festing his love, lifting the light of his countenance upon you, 
as God often doth to his saints in this world ; would you rath- 
er choose these tilings, though you should live in poverty, and 
with but little of the good things of this world, than to abound 
in a fulness of worldly things, and to live in ease and prosperi- 
ty, at the same time being an alien from the commonwealth 
of Israel, standing in no childlike relation to God, enjoying 
no gracious intercourse with him, having no right in God, 
either to have him for your God, or to be acknowledged by 
him as his children ? Or would such a life as this, though in 
ever so great earthly prosperity, be esteemed by you a miser- 
able life ? 

If, after all this, there remain with you doubts, and a diffi- 
culty to determine concerning yourselves whether you do tru- 
ly and sincerely prefer God to all other tilings, I would men- 
tion two things which are the surest ways to be determined in 
this matter, and which seem to be the best grounds of satisfac- 
tion in it. 

1. The feeling of some particular, strong, and lively exer- 
cises of such a spirit. A person may have such a spirit as is 
spoken of in the doctrine, and may have the exercise of it in a 
low degree, and yet remain in doubt whether he have it or not, 
and be unable, by all his sdfexamination, to come '.o a satisfy- 
ing determination. But God is pleased at some times to give 

Vol. VIII. F 


to some of his people, such lively and strong exercises of such* 
a spirit, and they see it so clearly, and feel it so plainly, that it 
pruts it, at least for the present, out of doubt. They obtain- 
such discoveries of the glory of God, and of the excellency of 
Christ, as do so draw forth the heart, that they know beyond 
all doubt or question, that they feel such a spirit as Paul spake 
of, when he said, " He counted all things but loss, for the ex- 
cellency of Christ Jesus his Lord ;" and they can boldly say, 
as in the text, " Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there 
is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." At such times 
the people of God do not need any help of ministers to satisfy 
them whether they have the true love of God ; they plainly 
see and feel it ; and the Spirit of God then witnesseth with 
their spirits, that they are the children of God. 

Therefore, if you would be satisfied upon this point, ear- 
nestly seek such attainments ; seek that you may have such 
clear and lively exercises of this spirit. To this end, you 
must press forward, and labor to grow in grace. If you have 
had such experiences in times past, and they satisfied you 
then, yet you may again doubt. You should therefore seek 
that you may have them more frequently ; and the way to 
that is, earnestly to press forward, that you may have more 
acquaintance with God, and have the principles of grace 
strengthened. This is the way to have the exercises of grace 
stronger, more lively, and more frequent, and so to be satisfi- 
ed that you have a spirit of supreme love to God. 

2. The other way is, To inquire whether you prefer God 
to all other things in practice, i.e. whether, when you have 
occasion in the course of your Hie to manifest by your practice 
which you prefer, when you must either cleave to one or the 
other, and must either forsake other things, or forsake God ; 
whether then it be your manner practically to prefer God to 
all other things whatever, even to your dearest earthly enjoy- 
ments, to those earthly things to which your hearts are most 
wedded. Do you lead such lives as this ? Are your lives, 
lives of adherence to God, and of serving God in this manner? 


He that cloth sincerely prefer God to all other things in his 
heart, he will do it in his practice For when God and all 
other things come to stand in competition, that is the proper 
trial what a man chooses ; and the manner of acting in such 
cases must certainly determine what the choice is in all free 
agents or those who act on choice. Therefore there is no 
sign of sincerity so much insisted on in the Bible as this, that 
we deny ourselves, sell all, forsake the world, take up the cross, 
and follow Christ whithersoever he goeth. 

Therefore, so run, not as uncertainly ; so fight, not as 
those that beat the air ; but keep under your bodies, and bring 
them into subjection. Act not as though you counted your- 
selves to have apprehended ; but this one thing do, " forget- 
ting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto 
those things which are before, press toward the mark, for the 
prizeof the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 2 Pet. i. 5. Sec. 
" And besides this, giving diligence, add to your faith, virtue ; 
and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance ; 
and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, godliness ; and 
to godliness, brotherly kindness ; and to brotherly kindness, 
charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make 
you that ye shall neither be barrennor unfruitful in the knowl- 
edge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 


The Most High a Prayer hearing God. 

PSALM lxv. 2. 


L HIS psalm seems to be a psalm of praise to God for 
some remarkable answer of prayer, in thebestowment of some 
public mercy ; or else was written on occasion of some special 
faith and confidence which David had, that his prayerwould be 
answered. It is probable that this mercy bestowed, or expect- 
ed , to be bestowed, was some great public mercy, for which 
David had been very earnest and importunate, and had annex- 
ed a vow to his prayer ; and that he had vowed a vow to God, 
that if he would grant him his request, he would do thus or 
thus, to praise and glorify God. 

This seems to be the reason why he expresses himself as 
he does in the first verse of the psalm : " Praise waiteth for 
thee, O Gou, in Sion ; and unto thee shall the vow be per- 
formed ;" i. e- that praise which I have vowed to give thee, on 
the answer of my prayer, waiteth for thee, to be given thee as 
soon as thou shalt have answered my prayer ; and the vow 
which I made to thee shall be performed. 

In the verse of the text, is a prophecy of the glorious times 
of the gospel, when " ail flesh shall come" to the true God, as 

* Dated January 8, 1735-6. Preached on a fast appointed on the account 
afan epidemical sickness at the eastward [of Boston.] 


to the God ivho heareth prayer ; which is here mentioned as 
what distinguishes the true God from the gods to whom the 
nations prayed and sought, those gods who cannot hear, and 
cannot answer their prayer. The time was coming when all 
flesh should come to that God who doth hear prayer. 


It is the character of the Most High, that he is a God that 
hears prayer. 

I shall handle this point in the following method. 

1. Show that the Most High is a God that hears prayer. 

2. That he is eminently such a God. 

3. That he is so distinguishingly, or that herein he is dis- 
tinguished from all false gods. 

4. Give the reasons of the doctrine. 

I. The Most High is a God that hears prayer. Though 
he is infinitely above all, and stands in no need of creatures ; 
yet he is graciously pleased to take a merciful notice of poor 
worms of the dust. He manifests and presents himself as the 
object of prayer, appears as sitting on a mercy seat, that men 
may come to him by prayer. When they stand in need of 
any thing, he allows them to come to him, and ask it of him ; 
and he is wont to hear their prayers. God in his word hath 
given many promises that he will hear their prayers ; the 
scripture is full of examples of it ; and God, in his dispensa- 
tions towards his church, manifests himself to be a God that 
hears prayer. 

Here it may be inquired, What is meant by God's hear- 
ing prayer ? There are two things implied in it. 

1. His accepting the supplications of those who pray to 
him. He accepts them when they come to him ; their ad- 


dress to him is well taken, he is well pleased with it. He ap- 
proves of their coming to him, and approves of their asking 
such mercies as they request of him, and approves of their 
manner of doing it. He accepts of their prayers as an offer- 
ing to him ; he accepts the honor they do him in prayer. 

2. He acts agreeably to his acceptance ; and that two ways. 

(I.) He sometimes manifests his acceptance of their pray- 
ers, by special discoveries of his mercy and sufficiency which 
he makes in prayer, or immediately after. God is sometimes 
pleased to manifest his acceptance of his peopb's prayers : 
He gives them special communion with him in prayer. 
While they are praying, he as it were comes to them, and dis- 
covers himself to them ; gives them sweet views of his glori- 
ous grace, purity, sufficiency, and sovereignty ; and enables 
them, with great quietness, to rest in him, and leave them- 
selves and prayers with him, submitting to his will, and trust- 
ing in his grace and faithfulness. Such a manifestation God 
Seems to have made of himself in prayer to Hannah, which 
so quieted and composed her mind, and took away her sadness. 
We read in the first chap, of the first book of Samuel, how ear* 
rest she was, and how exercised in her mind, and that she was a 
woman of a sorrowful spirit. But she came and poured out her 
soul before God, and spake out of the abundance of her com- 
plaint and grief j then we read, that she went away, and did 
eat, and her countenance was no more sad, verse 13, which 
seems to have been from some refreshing discoveries which 
God had made of himself to her, to enable her quietly to sub- 
mit to his will, and trust in his mercy, whereby God manifest- 
ed his acceptance of her. 

Not that I conclude that persons can hence argue, that the 
particular thing which they ask will certainly be given them, 
or tbat they can particularly foretell from it what God will do 
in answer to their prayers, any farther than he has promised 
in his word ; yet God may, and doubtless does, thus testify 
his acceptance of their prayers, and from hence they may con- 
fidently rest in his providence, in his merciful ordering and 
disposing with respect to the thing which they ask. 


{2.) God manifests his acceptance of thpir prayers, by 
answering them, by doing for them agreeably to their needs 
and supplications. He not only inwardly and spiritually dis- 
covers his mercy to their souls by his Spirit, but outwardly 
in his providence, by dealing mercifully with them in his 
providence, in consequence of their prayers, and by causing 
an agreeableness between his providence and their prayers, 

I proceed now, 

II. To show that it is eminently the character of the true 
God, that he is a God that hears prayer. This appears in sev- 
eral things. 

1 . In his giving such free access to him by prayer. God 
Mi his word manifests himself ready at all times to allow us to 
come to him. He sits on a throne of grace ; and there is na 
vail to hide this throne, and keep us from it. The vail is rent 
from the top to the bottom ; the way is open at all times, and 
we may go to God as often as we will. Although God be 
infinitely above us, yet we may come with boldness. Heb. iv. 
14,16. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of 
grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in 
time of need." How wonderful is it that such worms as we 
should be allowed to come boldly at all times to so great a 

Thus God indulges all kinds of persons, of all nations,. 
Jews or Genuies. 1. Cor. i. 2, 3. " Unto all that in every 
place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs 
and ours ; grace be unto you," &c. God allows such access 
to all of all ranks ; none are so mean but that they may come 
boldly to God by prayer. Yea, God allows the most vile and 
unworthy ; the greatest sinners are allowed to come through 
Christ. And God not only allows, but encourages, and fre- 
quently invites them; yea, God manifests himself as delight- 
ing in being sought to by prayer. Prow xv. 8. " The pray- 
er of the upright is his delight ;" and in Cant. ii. 14, we have 
Christ saying to the spouse, « O my dove, let me hear thy 


voice; for sweet is thy voice." The voice of the saints in 
prayer is sweet unto Christ ; he delights to hear it. 

The freeness of access by prayer that God allows them, 
appears wonderfully in his allowing them to be earnest and 
importunate ; yea, to that degree as to take no denial, and as 
it were to give him no rest, and even encouraging them so to 
do. Isa. lxiii. 6, 7. " Ye that make mention of the Lord, 
keep not silence, and give him no rest." Thus Christ en- 
courages us, as it were, to weary God out by prayer, in the 
parable of the importunate widow and the unjust judge, Luke 
xviii. at the beginning. So, in the parable of the man who 
went to his friend at midnight, to borrow three loaves, Luke 
xi. 5, Sec. 

Thus God allowed Jacob to wrestle with him, yea, to be 
resolute in it. God allows men to use, as it were, a violence 
and obstinacy, if ! may so speak, this way; as in Jacob, who, 
when God said, " Let me go," said, " I will not let thee go, 
except thou bless me." So it is spoken of with approbation-, 
when men are violent for the kingdom of heaven, and take it 
by force. Thus Christ suffered the blind man to be most im- 
portunate and unceasing in his cries to him, Luke xviii. 38, 
S9. He continued crying, " Jesus, thou Son of David, have 
■mercy on me." Others who were present rebuked him, 
that he should hold his peace, looking upon it too great a bold- 
ness, and an indecent behavior towards Christ, for him thus to 
cry after him as he passed by. But Christ himself did not re- 
buke him, though he did not cease at the rebuke of the peo- 
ple, but cried so much the more. Christ was not offended at 
it, but stood and commanded him to be brought unto him, 
saying, " What wilt thou that I should do to thee ?*' And 
when the blind man had told him, Christ graciously granted 
his request. 

The freedom of access that God gives in prayer, appears 
also in allowing us to come to him by prayer for every thing 
we need, both temporal and spiritual, whatever evil wc need 
to be delivered from, or good wc would obtain. Phil. iv. 6. 
« Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and 


supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made 
known to God." 

2. That God is eminently of this character, appears in his 
hearing prayer so readily. He often manifests his readiness 
to hear prayer, by giving an answer so speedily, sometimes 
while they are yet speaking, and sometimes before they pray, 
when they only have a design of praying So ready is God to 
hear prayer, that he takes notice of the first purpose of pray- 
ing, and sometimes bestows mercy thereupon : Isa. lxv. 24. 
" And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will an- 
swer ; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." We 
read, that when Daniel was making humble and earnest sup- 
plication to God, God sent an angel to comfort him, and as- 
sure him of an answer, Dan. ix. 20... 24. 

And when God defers for the present to answer the prayer 
of faith, it is not from any backwardness in God to answer, but 
for the good of his people, sometimes that they may be better 
prepared for the mercy before they receive it, or because an- 
other time would be the best and fittest time on some other 
account. And even then, when God seems to delay an an- 
swer, the answer is indeed hastened, as in Luke xviii. 7, 8. 
" And shall not God avenge his own elect that cry unto him 
day and night, though he bear long with them ? I tell you, 
that he will avenge them speedily." Sometimes, when the 
blessing seems to tarry, God is even then at work to bring it 
about in the best time and best manner : Hab. ii. 3. " Though 
it tarry, wait for it ; it will come, it will ifbt tarry." 

3. That the Most High is eminently one that hears prayer, 
appears by his giving so liberally in answer to prayer : James 
i. 5, 6. " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who 
giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not." Men often show 
their backwardness and loathness to give to those who ask of 
them, both by the scantiness of their gifts, and by upbraiding 
those who ask of them. They will be sure to put them in 
mind of these and those faults, when they give them any 
thing ; but, on the contrary, God both gives liberally, and up- 
braids us not with our undeservings, when he gi^es. 

Vol. VIII. G 


Cod is plenteous and rich in his communications to those 
who cull upon him. Psal. Ixxxvi. 5. " For thou art good and 
ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all that call up- 
on thee ;" and Rom. x. 12. " For there is no difference be- 
tween the Jew and the Greek ; for the same Lord over all is 
rich unto all that call upon him." 

Sometimes God not only gives the thing asked, but he 
gives more than is asked. So he did to Solomon, ! Kings iii. 
12, 13. " Behold, I have done according to thy words : Lo, I 
have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that 
there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall 
any rise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that 
which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor ; so that 
there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee, all thy 
davs." Yea, ( -od will give more to his people than they can 
either ask or think, as is implied in that, Eph. iii. 20. "Now, 
unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that 
we ask or think." 

4. That God is eminently of this character, appears by the 
greatness of the things which he hath often done in answer to 
prayer. Thus, when Esau was coming out against his broth- 
er Jacob, with four hundred men, without doubt fully resolv- 
ed to cut him off, Jacob prayed to God, and God turned the 
heart of Esau, so that he met Jacob in a very friendly manner ; 
us in Gen. xxxii. So in Egypt, at the prayer of Moses, God 
brought those dreadful plagues, and, at his prayer, removed 
them again. When Samson was ready to perish with thirst, 
he prayed to God, and God brought water out of a diy jaw 
bone, for his supply, Judg. xv. 18, 19. And when he prayed, 
after his strength was departed from him, God strengthened 
him, so as to pull down the temple of Dagon on the Philis- 
tines ; so that those whom he slew at his death were more 
than all those whom he slew in his life. 

Joshua prayed to God, and said to the sun, « Sun, stand 
thou till upon Gibeon, and thou, moon, in the vallej - 
i on ;" and God he ycr, and caused the sun and 

moon to stand still accordingly. The prophet « Elijah was a 


man of like passions" with us ; " and he prayed earnestly that 
it might not rain ; and it rained not on the earth by the space 
of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the 
heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit ;" as 
the Apostle James observes, James v. 17, 18. So God con- 
founded the army of Zerah, the Ethiopian, of a thousand 
thousand, in answer to the prayer of Asa, 2 Chron. xiv. .-, Sec. 
And v^od sent an angel, and slew in one night an hundred and 
eighty thousand men of Sennacharib's army, in answer to 
Hezekiah's prayer, 2 Kings xix. 14, la, 16, 19. 

5. This truth appears, in that God is, as it were, overcome 
by prayer. When God is displeased by sin, and manifests his 
displeasure, and comes out against us in his providence, and 
seems to oppose and resist us ; in such cases, God is, speak- 
ing after the manner of men, overcome by humble and fervent 
prayer. " The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man 
availeth, much," James v. 16. It has a great power in it. Such 
a prayer hearing God is the Most High, that he graciously 
manifests himself as conquered by it. Thus Jacob conquered 
in .the wrestle which he had with God. God appeared to op* 
pose Jacob in what he sought of him ; he did, as it were, 
struggle against him, and to get away from him ; yet Jacob 
was resolute, and overcame. Therefore God changed his 
name from Jacob to Israel ; for, says he, "as a prince thou 
hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed," Gen. 
xxxii. 28. A mighty prince indeed ! to be great enough to 
overcome God : Hos. xii. 4. " Yea, he had power over the 
angel, and prevailed; he wept and. made supplication unto 
him " 

So Moses, from time to time, did in this sense overcome 
God by prayer. When his anger was provoked against Is- 
rael, and he appeared to be ready to consume them in his hot 
displeasure, Moses stood in the gap, and by his humble and 
earnest prayer and supplication averted the stroke of divine 
vengeance. This appears by' Exod. xxxii. 9, S;c. and by 
Numb. xiv. 1 1, Sec. 


III. Herein the Most High God is distinguished from 
false gods. The true God is the only God of this character ; 
there is no other of whom it may be said, that he heareth pray- 
er. Those false gods are not gods that hear prayer, upon 
three accounts. 

1. For want of a capacity to know what those who worship 
them pray for. Many of those things that are worshipped as 
gods in the world, are things without life ; many are idols 
made by their worshippers ; they are mere stocks and stones, 
that know nothing. They are indeed made with ears ; but 
they hear not the prayers of them that cry to them, let them 
cry ever so loudly : They have eyes ; but they see not, &c. 
Psal. cxv. 5. ...9. 

Others, though they are not the work of men's hands, yet 
arc tilings without life. Thus, many worship the sun, moon, 
and stars, which, though glorious creatures, yet are not capa- 
ble of knowing any thing of the wants and desires of those 
who pray to them. 

Others worship some certain kinds of brute animals, as 
the Egyptians were wont to worship bulls, which, though they 
be not without life, yet are destitute of that reason whereby 
they would be capable of knowing the requests of their wor- 
shippers. Others worship devils, instead of the true God : 
1 Cor. x. 20. " But I say, that the things which the (-entiles 
sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils." These, though they are 
beings of great powers and understandings, and great subtle- 
ty, have not that knowledge which is necessary to capacitate 
them fully to understand the state, circumstances, necessi- 
ties, and desires of those who pray to them. No devil is ca- 
pable of a perfect understanding of the circumstances and 
need of any one person, much less of attending to, and being 
thoroughly acquainted with, all who pray to them through the 

But the true God perfectly knows the circumstances of 
every one that prays to him throughout the world ; he per- 
fectly knows the needs and desires of every one. If there be 
millions praying to him at once, indifferent parts of the world, 


it is no more difficult to him, who is infinite in knowledge, to 
take notice of all, and perfectly to be acquainted with every 
one, than of one alone. But it is not so with any other being 
but the Most High God. 

God is so perfect in knowledge, that he doth not need to 
be informed by us, in order to a knowledge of our wants ; for 
he knows what things we need before we ask him. The wor- 
shippers of false gods were wont to lift their A'oices and cry 
aloud, lest their gods should fail of hearing them, as Elijah 
tauntingly bid the worshippers of Baal do, 1 Kings xviii. 27. 
But the true ( .od hears the silent petitions of his people. He 
needs not that Ave should cry aloud ; yea, he knows and per- 
fectly understands when we only pray in our hearts ; as Han- 
nah did, 1 Sam. i. 13. 

2. False gods are not prayer hearing gods, for want of 
power to answer prayer. Idols are but vanities and lies ; in 
them is no help. As to power or knowledge, they are noth- 
ing ; as the apostle says, 1 Cor. viii. 4. "An idol is nothing 
in the world." As to the images that are the works of men's 
hands, they are so far from having any power to answer prayer, 
or to help them that pray to them, that they are not able at all 
to act : " They have hands, and handle not ; feet have they, 
but they walk not ; neither speak they through their throat." 
They, therefore, that make them, and pray to them, are sense- 
less and sottish, and make themselves stocks and stones, like 
unto them : Psal. cxv. 7, 8, and Jer. x. 5. " They are upright 
as the palm tree, but speak not : They must needs be borne, 
because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them ; for they 
cannot do evil ; neither also is it in them to do good." As 
to the hosts of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, although 
mankind receive benefit by them, yet they act nothing volun- 
tarily, but only by necessity of nature ; therefore they have 
no power to do any thing in answer to prayers. And devils 
that are worshipped as gods, they are not able, if they had dis- 
position, to make those happy who worship them, and can do 
nothing at all but only by divine permission, and as subject to 
the disposal of divine providence. 


False gods can none of them save those that pray to them ; 
and therefore, when the children of Ismcl departed from the 
true God to idols, and were distressed by their enemies, and 
cried to God in their distress, God reproved them for their 
folly in worshipping false gods, by bidding them go and cry 
to the gods whom they had served, and let them deliver them. 
in the time of their tribulation, Josh. x. 14. So God chal- 
lenges those gods themselves, in Isa. xli 23, 24. " Show 
ns things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that 
ye are gods ; yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dis- 
mayed and behold it together. Behold ye are of nothing, and 
your work of nought : An abomination is he that chooseth 

These false gods, instead of helping those who pray to 
them, cannot help themselves. The devils are miserable 
tormented spirits ; they are bound in chains of darkness for 
their rebellion against the true God, and cannot deliver them- 

S. False gods are not goda that hear prayer, for want of a 
disposition to help those who pray to them. As to those life- 
less idols whom the Heathen worship, they are without both 
understanding and will. As to the devils, who in the dark 
places of the earth are worshipped as gods, they have no dis- 
position to help those who cry to them ; for they are cruel 
spirits; they are the mortal enemies of mankind, that thirst 
for their blood, and delight in nothing but their misery. They 
have no more disposition to help mankind, than a parcel of 
hungry wolves or lions would have to protect and help a flock 
of lambs. And those that worship and pray to them get not 
their good will by serving them : All the reward that Satan 
•will give them, for the service which they do him, is to make 
a prey of them, and devour them. 

I proceed now, 
IV. To give the reasons of the doctrine ; which I would 
do in Answer to these two inquiries : 1. Why God requires 


prayer in order to the bestowment of mercies on men ? 2. Wiry- 
God is so ready to hear the prayers of men ? 

Inquiry 1. Why doth God require prayer in order to the 
bestowment of mercies ? To this I shall answer both nega- 
tively and affirmatively. 

(1.) Negatively. 1. It is not in order that God may be 
informed of our wants or desires. God is omniscient, and 
with respect to his knowledge, unchangeable ; his knowl- 
edge cannot be added to. God never is informed of any 
thing, nor gains any knowledge by information. He knows 
what we want a thousand times more perfectly than we do 
ourselves. He knows what things we have need of before 
we ask him ; he knows our desires before we declare them 
by prayer. 

2. Nor is it to dispose and incline God to show mercy : 
For though, in speaking after the manner of men, God is 
sometimes in scripture represented as though he were mov- 
ed and persuaded by the prayers and cries of his people ; yet 
it is not to be thought that God is properly moved or made 
willing by our prayers ; for it is no more possible that there 
should be any new inclination or will in God, than new knowl-. 
edge. The mercy of God is not moved or drawn by anything 
in the creature ; but the spring of God's beneficence is within 
himself only ; he is self moved; and whatsoever mercy he 
bestows, the reason and ground of it is not to be sought for in, 
the creature, but in God's own good pleasure. It is the will 
of God to bestow mercy in this way, viz. in answer to praver, 
when he designs beforehand to bestow mercy, yea, when he 
has promised it ; as Ezek. xxxvi. 36, 37. "I the Lord have 
spoken it, and will do it. Thus saith the Lord, I will yet for 
this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." 
God has been pleased to constitute prayer to be an antecedent 
to the bestowment of mercy ; and he is pleased to bestow 
mercy in consequence of prayer, as though he were prevailed 
on by prayer. 

Yet God is not in fact prevailed on or made willing by 
prayer. But when he shows mercy in answer to prayer, his 


intention of mercy is not the effect of the prayer ; but that the 
people of God are stirred up to prayer, is the effect of God's 
intention to show mercy. Because God intends to show 
mercy, therefore he pours out the spirit of grace and sup- 

(2.) Affirmatively. There may be two reasons given 
why God requires prayer in order to the bestowment of mer- 
cy ; one especially respects God, and the other respects oui'- 

1 . With respect to God, prayer is but a sensible acknowl- 
edgment of our dependence on God, to his glory. As God 
hath made all things for his own glory, so he will be glorified 
and acknowledged by his creatures ; and it is fit that he 
should require this of those who would be the subjects of his 
mercy. That we, when we stand in need of any mercy of 
God, or desire to receive any mercy from him, should go to 
God, and humbly supplicate the divine Being for the bestow- 
ment of that mercy, is but a suitable acknowledgment of our 
dependence on the power and mercy of Cod for that which we 
need, and but a suitable honor paid to the great Author and 
Fountain of all good. 

2. With respect to ourselves, God requires prayer of us 
in order to the bestowment of mercy, because it tends to pre- 
pare us for the receipt of mercy. Fervent prayer many ways 
tends to prepare the heart for the receipt of the mercy prayed 
for. Hereby is excited a sense of our need of the mercy, and 
of the value of the mercy which we seek, and at the same 
time are excited earnest desires of it ; whereby the mind is 
more prepared to prize it, and rejoice in it when bestowed, 
and to be thankful for it. Prayer, with that confession which 
should be in prayer, may be the occasion of a sense of our un- 
worthiness of the mercy wc seek ; and the placing of our- 
selves in the immediate presence of God may make us sensi- 
ble of his majesty, and we may be humbled before him, and 
be fitted to receive mercy of him. Our prayer to God may 
excite in us a suitable sense and consideration of cur depend- 
ence on God for the mercy we ask, and a suitable exercise of 


feith in God's sufficiency, that so we may be prepared to glo- 
rify his name when the mercy is received. 

Inquiry 2. Why is God so ready to hear the prayers of 
men ? To this I answer. 

1. Because God is a Gad of infinite grace and mercy. It is 
indeed a very wonderful thing, that so great a God should be 
so ready to hear our prayers, though we are so despicable and 
unworthy; that he should give free access at all times to eve- 
ry one ; should allow us to be as importunate as we will, 
without esteeming it any indecent boldness; should hear all 
sincere prayers put up to him; should be so ready to hear, 
and so rich in mercy to them that call upon him; that worms 
of the dust should have such povver with God by prayer ; that 
God should do such great things io answer to their prayers, 
and should show himself, as it were, overcome by them. This 
is very wonderful, when we consider the distance between 
God and us, and consider how we have provoked God by our 
sins, and how unworthy we are of the ieast gracious notice. 

And it can be resolved into nothing else but infinite mer- 
cy and grace. It cannot be from any need that God stands in 
of us; for our goodness extendeth not to him. Neither can 
it be from any thing in us to incline the heart of God to us : 
It cannot be from any worthiness in our prayers, which are in 
themselves very miserable polluted things. But it is because 
God delights in mercy and condescention. He is herein infi- 
nitely distinguished from all other gods : He is the great 
fountain of all good, from whom goodness flows as light from 
the sun. 

2. We have a glorious Mediator, who has prepared the 
way, that our prayers may be heard consistently with the hon- 
or of God's justice and Majesty. Not only has God in him- 
self mercy sufficient for this, but the Mediator has provided 
that this mercy may be exercised consistently with the honor 
of God. Through him we may come to God, and God may 
show mercy to us : He is the way, the truth, and the life ; no 
man can come to the Father but by him. This Mediator 

Vol. VIII. H 


hath done three things to make way for the hearing of our 

(1.) He hath by his blood made atonement for sin, so that 
our guilt need not stand in the way, as a separation wall be- 
tween GoJ and us, and that our skis might not be a cloud 
through which our prayers cannot pass ; and by his atonement 
he hath made the way to the throne of grace open. God 
would have been infinitely gracious if there had been no Me- 
diator ; but the way to the mercy seat would have been block- 
ed up. But Christ hath removed whatever stood in the way. 
The vail which was before the mercyseat " is rent from the 
top to the bottom," by the death of Christ. If it had not been 
for the death of Christ, our guilt would have remained as a 
wall of brass, to hinder our approach. But all is removed by 
his blood, Heb. x. 17, &c, 

(2.) Christ has, by his obedience, purchased that the pray- 
ers of those who believe in him should be heard. He has not 
only removed the obstacles to our prayers, but has merited a 
hearing of them. His merits are the incense that is offered 
with the prayers of the saints, which renders them a sweet sa- 
vor to God, and acceptable in his sight. Hence the prayers of 
the saints have such power with God ; hence the prayer of a 
poor worm of the dust had such power with God, that in an- 
swer God stopped the sun in his course for about the space of 
a whole day ; hence such unworthy creatures as we are able 
to overcome God ; hence Jacob as a prince had power with 
God, and prevailed. Our prayers would be of no account, 
and of no avail with God, were it not for the merits of Christ; 
for in themselves they are miserable worthless "things, and 
might justly be odious and abominable to God. 

(3.) Christ enforces the prayers of his people, by his inter- 
cession at the right hand of God in heaven. He hath entered 
for us into the holy of holies, with the incense which he hath 
provided, and there he makes cominual intercession for all that 
come to God in his name ; so that their prayers come to God 
the Father through his hands, if I may so say ; whirh is rep- 
resented in Rev. viii. 3. 4. " And another angel came and stood 


-at the altar, having a golden censor ; and there was given unto 
him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of 
all the saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne. 
And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of 
the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angel's hand." 
This was typified of old by the priest's offering incense in 
the temple, at the time when the multitude of the people were 
offering up their prayers to God ; as Luke i. 10. « And the 
whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the 
time of incense." 


I. Hence we may learn, how highly we are privileged, in 
that we have the Most High God revealed to us, who is a God 
that heareth prayer. The greater part of mankind are desti- 
tute of this privilege ; they are ignorant of this God ; the 
gods whom they worship are not prayer hearing gods. What- 
ever their necessities are, whatever calamities or sorrows they 
are the subjects of, if they meet with grievous and heavy af- 
flictions, wherein they cannot help themselves, and man is un- 
able to help them, they, have no prayer hearing God to whom 
they may go. If they go to the gods whom they worship, and 
cry to them ever so earnestly, it will be in vain. They wor- 
ship either lifeless things, that can neither help them, nor 
know that they need help ; or wicked cruel spirits, who are 
their enemies, and wish nothing but their misery, and who, 
instead of helping them, are from day to day working their 
ruin, and watching over them, as an hungry lion watches over 
his prey. 

How are we distinguished from them, in that we have the 
true God made known to us ; a God of infinite grace and mer- 
cy ; a God full of compassion to the miserable, who is ready 
to pity us under all our troubles and sorrows, to hear our cries, 
and give us all that relief which we need ; a God who de- 
lights in mercy, and is rich to all that call upon him ! How 
highly privileged are we, in that we have the holy word of 


this same Cod, to direct us how to come to him. and seek 
mercy of him ! And Whatever difficulties or distress we arte 

in, we may go with confidence and great encouragement to 
him with all our difficulties and complaints. What a comfort 
may this be to us ! And what reason Lave we to rejoice in our 
own privileges, highly to prize them, and to bless ' od thai he 
hath been so merciful to us, as to give us his word, and reveal 
himself to us ; and that he hath not left us to cry for help to 
stocks, and stones, and devils, as he has left many thousands 
of others ! 

Objection. I have often prayed to Cod for these and 
those mercies, and Cod has not heard my prayers. 
To this I shall answer several things. 
(I.) It is no argument, that God is not a prayer he? ring 
God, if he give not to men what they ask of him, to consume 
upon their lusts. Oftentimes, when men pray lor these and 
those temporal good things, they desire them chiefly to gratir 
fy their lusts. They desire them for no good end, but only to 
gratify their pride or sensuality. They pray for worldly good 
things chiefly from a worldly spirit : It is because they make 
too much of an idol of the world; and if so, it is no wonuer 
that God doth not hear their prayers : James iv 3. '« Ye ask 
and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon 
your lusts." 

It is no argument that Cod is not a prayer hearing God, 
that he will not grant your request, when you ask him to give 
you something of which you will make an idol, and set it up 
in opposition to him ; or that he will not hear you, when you 
ask of him these and those things to use as weapons of war- 
fare against him, or as instruments to serve his enemies. No 
■wonder that t od will not hear you, when you praj for silver, 
or gold, or wool, or flax, to ofler them to Baal. If God should 
hear such prayers, lie would net as his own enemy, in as much 
as he would bcs.ow on his enemies the things w Inch they de- 
sire out of enmity against him, and to use against him as his 
enemies, and to serve his enemies. 


(2.) It is no argument that Cod is not a prayer hearing God, 
that he heareth not insincere and unbelieving: prayers. How- 
can we expect that od should have any respect to that which 
has no sincerity in it ? Cod looketh not at words, but at the 
heart; and it is fit that be should do so. If men's prayers be 
not hearty, if they pray only in words, and not in heart, what 
are their prayers good for ? And why should that God who 
searches the heart and tries the reins have any respect to 
them ? 

Sometimes men do nothing but dissemble in their prayers ; 
and when they do so, it is no argument that God is ever the 
less a prayer hearing God, that he dotnnot hear such prayers ; 
for it is no argument of want of mercy. Sometimes men pray 
for that in words which they really desire not in their hearts. 
Sometimes men pray to God that he would purge them from, 
sin, when at the same time they show by their practice that 
they do not desire to be purged from sin, but love sin, and 
choose it, and are utterly averse to parting with it. So they 
will pray for other spiritual blessings, of which they have no 
real desire. In like manner they often dissemble in the pre- 
tence and show, which they make in their prayers, of a depend- 
ence, on v.od for mercies, and of a sense of his sufficiency to 
supply them. In our coming to God, and praying to him for 
such and such things, there is a show that we are sensible that 
we are dependent on him for them, and that he is sufficient to 
give them to us. But men sometimes seem to pray, who are 
not sensible ol their dependence on God, nor do they think 
him to be sufficient to supply them. For some things that 
they go to God for, they all the while trust in themselves ; 
and for other things they have no confidence in God. 

Another way in which men often dissemble is, in seeming 
to pray and to be supplicants in words, when in heart they 
pray not, but challenge and demand. They show in words as 
though they were beggars ; but in heart they come as cred- 
itors, and look on God as their debtor. In words they seem 
to ask these and those things as the fruit of free grace ; but 
in heart they account it would be hard, unjust, and cruel, if 


God should deny them. In words they seem humble and sub- 
missive, but in heart they are proud and contentious j there is 
no prayer but in their words. 

It doth not render God at all the less a prayer hearing God, 
that he distinguishes, as an all seeing God, between real pray- 
ers and pretended ones. Such prayers as those which I have 
just now been mentioning, are not worthy of the name of 
prayers ; and they are so accounted in the eyes of him who 
searches the heart, and sees things as they are. Nor would 
men account such things to be prayers, any more than the talk 
of a parrot, that knows not what it says, were it not that they 
judge by the outward appearance. 

All prayer that is not the prayer of faith, is insincere ; 
for prayer is a show cr manifestation of dependence on Cod, 
and trust in his sufficiency and mercy. Therefore, where this 
trust or faith is wanting, there is no prayer in the sight of 
God. And however r 'od is sometimes pleased to grant the 
requests of those who have no faith, yet he has not obliged 
himself so to do; nor is it an argument of his not being a 
prayer hearing God, when he hears them not. 

(3.) Itisno argument that God is not a prayer hearing God, 
that he exercises his own wLdom as to the time and manner 
of answering prayers. Some of God's people are sometimes 
ready to think, that God doth not hear their prayers, because 
he doth not answer them at the times when they expected ; 
when indeed God doth hear them and will answer them, in the 
time and way to which his own wisdom directs. 

The business of prayer is not to direct God, who is infin- 
itely wise, and needs not any of our directions, who knows 
what is best for us ten thousand times better than we, and 
knows what lime and what way are best. It is fit that God 
should answer prayer, as an infinitely wise God, in the exer- 
cise of his own wisdom, and not ours. God will deal as a father 
with us, in answering our requests. But a child is not to ex- 
pect that the father's wisdom will be subject to his ; nor ought 
he to desire it, but should esteem it a privilege, that the par- 
ent who takes care of him, and provides for him, is wiser than 
he, and will provide for him according to his own wisdom- 


As to particular temporal blessings for which wepray,it is 
no argument that God is not a prayer hearing God, that he 
bestows them not upon us ; for it may be that God sees the 
things for which we pray not to be best for us. If so, it would 
be no mercy in him to bestow them upon us, but a judgment. 
Such things, therefore, ought always to be asked with submis- 
sion to the divine will. 

But God can answer prayer, though he bestow not the very 
thing for which we pray. He can sometimes better answer 
the lawful desires and good end we have in prayer another 
way. If our end be our own good and happiness, God can per- 
haps better answer that end in bestowing something else than 
in the beslowment of that very thing which we ask. And if 
the main good we aim at in our prayer be attained, our prayer 
is answered, though not in the bestowment of the individual 
thing which we ask : And so that may still be true which was 
asserted in the doctrinal part, viz. that God always hears the 
ftrayer of faith. God never once failed of hearing a sincere 
and believing prayer ; and those promises for ever hold good, 
" Ask, and ye shall receive ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, 
and it shall be opened to you : For every one that asketh, re- 
ceived! ; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knock- 
eth it shall be opened." 

2. The second use may be, of reproof to those that neglect 
the duty of prayer. I£ we enjoy so great a privilege as to 
have the true God, who is a prayer hearing God, revealed to 
us, how great will be our folly and inexcusableness, if we ne- 
glect the privilege, make no use of it, and deprive ourselves of 
the advantage of it, by not seeking this God by prayer. They 
are hereby reproved who neglect the great duty of secret pray- 
er, which is more expressly required in the word of God than 
any other kind of prayer. What account can those persons 
give of themselves, who neglect so known a duty ? It is im- 
possible that any among us should be ignorant of this com- 
mand of God. How daring, therefore, is their wickedness, 
who live in the neglect of this duty, if any such there be among 
us 1 And what can they answer to their Judge, when he shall 
call them to an account for it ? 


Here I shall briefly say something to an excuse Which 
some may be ready to make for themselves. Some may be 
ready to say, If I do pray, my firayer will not be the prayer of 
faith, because I am in a natural condition, and have no faith. 

Answer 1. This excuses not from obedience to a plain 
command of God. The command is to all to whom the com- 
mand shall come. God not only directs godly persons to pray, 
but others also. In the beginning of the second chapter of 
Proverbs, God directs all persons to cry after wisdom, and to 
lift up their voices for understanding, in order to their obtain- 
ing the fear and knowledge of God ; and in James i. 5. the 
apostle says, " If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God ;" 
and Peter directed Simon Magus to repent and pray God, if 
perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him, 
Acts \ iii. i22. Therefore, when God says, do thus or thus, 
it is not for us to make excuses, but we must do the thing 

Answer 2. God is pleased sometimes to answer the pray- 
ers of unbelievers. Indeed he hears not their prayers from 
any goodness or acceptableness that there is in their prayers* 
or because of any true respect to him manifested in them, for 
there is none ; nor has he obliged himself to answer such 
prayers ; yet he is pleased sometimes, of his sovereign mercy, 
to pity wicked men, and hear their cries. Thus he heard the 
cries of the Ninevites, Jonah chap. iii. So he heard the prayer 
of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 27, 28. 

Though there be no regard to God in their prayers, yet 
God, of his infinite grace, is pleased to have respect to their 
desires of their own happiness, and to grant their requests. 
God may, and sometimes does, hear the cries of wicked men, 
as he hears the hungry ravens, when they cry, Psalm cxlvii. 9. 
and as he opens his bountiful hand, and satisfies the desires of 
every living thing, Psalm cxlv. 16. Besides, the prayers of 
sinners, though they have no goodness in them, yet are made 
a means of a preparation for mercy. 

3. The last use shall be of exhortation. Seeing we have 
such a prayer hearing God as we have heard, let us be much 


employed in the duty of prayer : Let us pray with all prayer 
and supplication : Let us live prayerful lives, continuing in- 
stant in prayer, watching thereunto v.ith all perseverance; 
praying without ceasing, praying always, and not fainting; and 
not praying in a dull, cold, and lifeless manner, but wrestling 
with God in prayer. I shall particularly at this time exhort 
to two things. 

(1 .) Let us pray for others, as well as for ourselves. God 
hath in his word manifested himself to be especially well 
pleased with hearty intercessory prayers, or prayers for our 
fellow creatures: 1 Tim. ii. 1,2,3. "I exhort, therefore) 
that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giv- 
ing of thanks, be made for all. men ;; for kings, &c. ; for this 
is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." It 
is especially acceptable to God, as such prayers, when sincere, 
are an expression of a spirit of Christian charity, which is a 
grace peculiarly becoming Christians, and acceptable to God, 
as may be seen by what is said of it in 1 Cor. xiii. 

(2.) Let us especially be earnest with God in our prayers,, 
for the outpouring of his Spirit both on ourselves and others. 
We have not such encouragement in scripture to pray for 
any other blessing, as we have to pray for this blessing. It is 
the greatest of all mercies j yet God hath given such en- 
couragement to pray for no other mercy, as he hath for 
this mercy. See Luke xi. 13. " If ye then, being evil, 
know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much 
more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit, to 
them that ask him?" Though it be the greatest mercy, yet 
God is most ready to bestow it of any whatsoever. We ought 
therefore most earnestly to pray for the outpouring of God's 
Spirit on our own souis, on others in whom we are particular- 
ly concerned, on the people among whom we dwell, and on 
the whole land and whole earth. We are directed to pray for 
this with the greatest possible importunity in the foremen- 
tioned place, IsuLh lxii. 6, 7. " ^e hat make mention of the 
Lord, keep not sLence, and give him no rest, till he make Je- 
rusalem a praise in the earth." 

Vol. VIII. I 


Great Care necessary, lest we live in some wa$ 
of Sin, 

PSALM cxxxix. 23, 24. 


I. HIS psalm is a meditation on the omniscience of 
God, or upon his perfect view and knowledge of every thing, 
which the Psalmist represents by that perfect knowledge 
which God had of all his actions, his downsitting and his up- 
rising ; and of his thoughts, so that he knew his thoughts afar 
off ; and of his words, " There is not a word in my tongue," 
says the Psalmist, " but thou knowest it altogether." Then, 
he represents it by the impossibility of fleeing from the divine 
presence, or of hiding from him ; so that if he should go into 
heaven, or hide himself in hell, or fly to the uttermost parts of 
the sea ; yet he would not be hid from God : Or if he should 
endeavor to hide himself in darkness, yet that would not cover 
him ; but the darkness and light are both alike to him. 

Then he represents it by the knowledge which God had of 
him while in his mother's womb, verses 15, 16. "My sub- 
stance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret ;. 

* Dated September 1733. 


thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect ; and in 
thy book all my members were written." 

After this the Psalmist observes what must be inferred as 
» necessary consequence of this omniscience of God, viz. that 
he will slay the wicked, since he seeth all their wickedness, 
and nothing- of it is hid from him. And last of all, the Psalm- 
ist improves this meditation upon God's allseeing eye, in 
begging of God that he would search and try him, to see if 
there were any wicked way in him, and lead him in the way 

Three things may be noted in the words. 

1. The act of mercy which the Psalmist implores of God 
towards himself, viz. that God would search him, " Search 
me, O God, and know my heart ; try me, and know my 

2. In what respect he desires to be searched, viz. " to see 
if there were any wicked way in him." We are not to under- 
stand by it, that the Psalmist means that God should search 
him for his own information. What he had said before, of 
God's knowing all things,implies that he hath no need of that. 
The Psalmist had said, in the second verse, that God under- 
stood his thought afar off ; i. e. it was all plain before him, he 
saw it without difficulty, or without being forced to come nigh, 
and diligently to observe. That which is plain to be seen, 
may be seen at a distance. 

Therefore, when the Psalmist prays that God would search 
him, to see if there were any wicked way in him, he cannot 
mean that he should search that he himself might see or be 
informed, but that the psalmist might see and be informed. 
He prays that God would search him by his discovering light; 
that he would lead him thoroughly to discern himself, and see 
"whether there were any wicked way in him. Such figurative 
expressions are often used in scripture. The word of God is 
said to be a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 
Not that the word itself discerns, but it searches and opens 
«ur hearts to view ; so that it enables us to discern the tern- 


per and desires of our hearts So God is often said to tr\ 
men. He doth not try them for his own information, but for 
the discovery and manifestation of them to themselves or 

3. Observe to what end he thus desires God to search 
him, viz. " That he might be led in the way everlasting ;" i. e. 
not only in a way which may have a specious show, and appear 
right to him for a while, and in which he may have peace and 
quietness for the present ; but in the wuy which will hold, 
which will stand the test, which he may confidently abide by 
for ever, and always approve of as good and right, and in which 
he may always have peace and joy. It is said, that " the way 
of the ungodly shall perish," Psalm i. 6. In opposition to this, 
the way of the righteous is in tne text said to last for ever. 


All men should be much concerned to know, whether they 
do not live in some way of sin. 

David was much concerned to know this concerning him- 
self: He searched himself, he examined his own heart and 
ways ; but he did not trust to that ; he was still afraid lest 
there might be some wicked way in him which had escaped 
his notice : Therefore he cries to God to search him. And 
his earnestness appears in the frequent repetition of the same 
request in different words : ixarch me, O God, and know my 
heart ; try me, and know my thoughts. He was very earnest to 
know whether there were not some evil way or other in him, 
in which he went on, and did not take notice of it. 

1. We ought to be much concerned to know whether wc 
do not live in a state of sin. All unregenerate men live in 
sin. We are born under the power and dominion of sin, are 
sold under sin ; every unconverted sinner is a devoted ser- 
vant to sin and Satan. We should look upon it as of the great- 
est importance to us, to know in what state we are, whether 
we ever had any change made in our hearts from sin to holi- 
ness, or whether wc be not still in the gall of bitterness and, 


bond of iniquity ; whether ever sin were truly mortified in us j 
whether we do not live in the sin of unbelief, and in the re- 
jection of the Saviour. This is what the apostle insists upon 
with the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. " Examine yourselves, 
whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves ; know ye 
not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except 
ye be reprobates ?" 

Those who entertain the opinion and hope of themselves, 
that they are godly, should take great care to see that their 
foundation be right. Those that are in doubt should not give 
themselves rest till the matter be resolved. 

Every unconverted person lives in a sinful ivay. He not 
only lives in a particular evil practice, but the whole course of 
his life is sinful. The imagination of the thoughts of his 
heart is only evil continually. He not only doth evil, but he 
doth no good, Psal. xiv. 3. " They are altogether become 
filthy : There is none that doeth good, no not one" Sin is 
an unconverted man's trade ; it is the work and business of his 
life ; for he is the servant of sin. And ordinarily hypocrites, 
or those who are wicked men, and yet think themselves godly, 
and make a profession accordingly, are especially odious and 
abominable to God. 

2. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we 
do not live in some particular way which is offensive and dis- 
pleasing to God : This is what I principally intend in the doc- 
trine. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we 
do not live in the gratification of some lust, either in practice 
or in our thoughts ; whether we do not live in the omission of 
some duty, some thing which God expects we should do; 
whether we do not go into some practice or manner of behav- 
iour, which is not warrantable. We should inquire whether 
we do not live in some practice which is against our light, and 
whether we do not allow ourselves in known sins. 

We should be strict to inquire whether or no we have not 
hitherto allowed ourselves in some or other sinful way, through 
wrong principles and mistaken notions of our duty : Wheth- 
er we have not lived in the practice of some things offensive 


to God, through want of care, and watchfulness, and observa* 
tion of ourselves. We should be concerned to know wheiher 
■we live not in some way which doth not become the profession 
we make ; and whether our practice in some things be not 
unbecoming Christians, contrary to Christian rules, not suita-r 
ble for ths disciples and followers of the Holy Jesus, the Lamb 
of od. We ought to be concerned to know this, because, 

(1.) God requires of us, that we exercise the utmost watch- 
fulness and diligence in his service. Reason teaches, that it 
is our duty to exercise the utmost care, that we may know 
the mind and will of Cod, and our duty in all the branches of 
it, and to use our utmost diligence in every thing to do it ; be- 
cause the service of I od is the great business of our lives, it 
is that work which is the end of our being ; and Cod is wor- 
thy, that we should serve him to the utmost of our power in 
all tilings. This is what ( ou often expressly requires of us; 
Deut. iv. 9. " Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul dili- 
gently, lest thou forget the things that thine eyes have seen, 
and lest they depart from thy heart all the day s of thy life." 
And v. 15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed to yourselves^ 
lest ye corrupt yourselves." And Deut. vi. 17. " You shall 
diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your Cod, and 
his testimonies, and his statutes which he hath commanded 
thee." And Prov. iv. 23. "Keep thy heart with all dili- 
gence ; for out of it are the issues ol life." 

So we are commanded by Christ to watch and pray ; 
Matth. zxvi. 41, and Luke xxi. 34, C6. " Take heed to your- 
selves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with sur- 
feiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life." Lph. v. 
15. " See that ye walk circumspectly." 

So that if we be found in any evil way whatsoever, it will 
not excuse us, that it was through inadvertence, or that we 
were not aware of it ; as long as it is through want of that 
care and watchfulness in us, which we ought to have main- 

(2.) If wc live in any way of sin, we live in a way whereby 
Cod is dishonored; but the honor of Cod ought to be su- 


premely regarded by all. If every one would make it hb 
great care in all things to obey God, to live justly and holily, 
to walk in every thing according to Christian rules ; and 
would maintain a strict, watchful, and scrutinous eyeover him- 
self, to see if there were no wicked way in him ; would give 
diligence to amend whatsoever is amiss ; would avoid every 
unholy, unchristian, and sinful way ; and if the practice of all 
were universally as becometh Christians, how greatly would 
this be to the glory of God, and of Jesus Christ ! How great- 
ly would it be to the credit and honor of religion ! How would 
it tend to excite an high esteem of religion in spectators, and 
to recommend an holy life 1 How would it stop the mouths of 
objectors and opposers ! How beautiful and amiable would 
religion then appear, when exemplified and holden forth in 
the lives of Christians, not maimed and mutilated, but whole 
and entire, as it were in its true shape, having all its parts and 
its proper beauty 1 Religion would then appear to be an amia- 
ble thing indeed. 

If those who call themselves Christians generally, thus 
walked in all the paths of virtue and holiness, it would tend 
more to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in the 
world, the conviction of sinners, and the propagation of relig- 
ion among unbelievers, than all the sermons in the world, so 
long as the lives of those who are called Christians are as they 
are now. 

For wantof this concern and watchfulness in the degree in 
Which it ought to take place, many truly godly persons adorn 
not their profession as they ought to do, and, on the contrary, 
in some things dishonor it. For want of being so much con- 
cerned as they ought to be, to know whether they do not walk 
in some way that is unbecoming a Christian, and offensive to 
Go.! ; their behavior in some things is very unlovely, and such 
as is an offence and stumbling block to others, and gives occa- 
sion to the enemy to blaspheme. 

(3 ) We should be much concerned to know whether we 
do not live in some way of sin, as we would regard our own 
interest. If we live in any way of sin, it will be exceedingly 


to our hurt. Sin, as it is the most hateful evil, it is that whicTr! 
is most prejudicial to our interest, ancl tends most to our hurt 
of any tiling in the world. If we live in any way that is dis- 
pleasing to God, it may be the ruin of our souls. Though 
men reform all other wicked practices, yet if they live in but 
one sinful way, which they do not forsake, it may prove their 
everlasting undoing. 

If we live in any way of sin, we shall thereby provoke God 
to anger, and bring guilt upon Our own souls. Neither will 
it excuse us, that we were not sensible how evil that way was 
in which we walked; that we diJ not consider it; that we 
were blind as to any evil in it. We contract guilt not only by 
living in those ways which we know, but in those which we 
•might know to be sinful, if we were but sufficiently concerned 
to know what is sinful and what not, and to examine ourselves, 
and search our own hearts and ways. If we walk in some evil 
■way, and know it not for want of watchfulness and considera- 
tion, that will not excuse us ; for we ought to have watched 
and considered, and made the most diligent inquiry. 

If we walk in some evil way, it will be a great prejudice 
to us in this world. We shall thereby be deprived of that 
comfort which we otherwise might enjoy, and shall expose 
ourselves to a great deal of soul trouble, and sorrow, and dark- 
ness, which otherwise we might have been ft te from. A 
wicked Way is the original way of pain or grief. In it we shall 
expose ourselves to the judgments of God, even in this 
world ; and Ave shall be great losers by it, in respect to our 
eternal interest ; and that though we may not live in a way of 
sin wilfully, and with a deliberate resolution, but carelessly, 
and through the deceitfulness of our corruptions. However 
we shall offend God, and prevent the flourishing of grace in 
our hearts, if not the very being of it. 

Many are very careful that they do not proceed in mis- 
takes, where their temporal interest is concerned. They will 
be strictly careful that they be not led on blindfold in the bar- 
gains which they make ; in their traffic one with another, they 
are carclul to have their eyes about them, and to see that they 


go safely in these cases ; and why not, where the interest of 
their souls is concerned ? 

(4.) We should be much concerned to know whether we 
do not live in some way of sin, because we are exceedingly 
prone to walk in some such way. The heart of man is nat- 
urally prone to sin ; the weight of the soul is naturally that 
way, as the stone by its weight tendeth downwards. And 
there is very much of a remaining proneness to sin in the 
saints. Though sin be mortified in them, yet there is a body 
of sin and death remaining ; there are all manner of lusts 
and corrupt inclinations. We are exceeding apt to get into 
some ill path or other. Man is so prone to sinful ways, that 
without maintaining a constant, strict watch over himself, 
no other can be expected than that he will walk in some way 
of sin. 

Our hearts are so full of sin, that they are ready to betray 
us. That to which men are prone, they are apt to get into 
before they are aware. Sin is apt to steal in upon us una- 
wares. Besides this, we live in a world where we continually 
meet with temptations ; we walk in the midst of snares ; and 
the devil, a subtle adversary, is continually watching over us, 
endeavoring, by all manner of wiles and devices, to lead us 
astray into bye paths. 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. "I am jealous over 
you. I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve 
through his subtlety ; so your minds should be corrupted 
from the simplicity that is in Christ." 1 Pet. v. 8. " Be so- 
ber, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roar- 
ing lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."..., 
These things should make us the more jealous of ourselves. 
(5.) We ought to be concerned to know whether we do 
not live in some way of sin ; because there are many who live 
in such ways, and do not consider it, or are not sensible of it. 
It is a thing of great importance that we should know it, and 
yet the knowledge is not to be acquired without difficulty. 
Many live in ways which are offensive to God, who are not 
sensible of it. They are strangely blinded in this case. Psal. 
xix. 12. " Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse thou me 
Vol.. VIII. K 


from secret faults." By secret faults, the Psalmist meanr 
those which are secret to himself, those sins which -were in 
him, or which he was guilty of, and yet was not aware of. 

That the knowing whether we do not live in some way of 
sin is attended with difficulty, is not because the rules of 
judging in such a case arc not plain or plentiful. God hath 
abundantly taught us what we ought, and what we ought not 
lo do ; and the rules by which we are to walk are often set 
before us in the preaching of the word. So that the difficulty 
of knowing whether there be any wicked way in us, is not for 
want of external light, or for want of God's having told us 
plainly and abundantly -\\ hat are wicked ways. But that many 
persons live in ways which are displeasing to God, and yet are 
not sensible of it, may arise from the following things. 

1. From the blinding, deceitful nature of sin. The heart 
of man is full of sin and corruption, and that corruption is of 
an exceeding darkening, blinding nature. Sin always carries 
a degree of darkness with it ; and the more it prevails, the 
more it darkens and deludes the mind. It is from hence that 
the knowing whether there be any wicked way in us, is a diffi- 
cult thing. The difficulty is not at all for want of light with- 
out us, not at all because the word of God is not plain, or the 
rules not clear ; but it is because of the darkness within us. 
The light shines clear enough around us, but the fault is in 
our eyes ; they are dim, are darkened and blinded by a perni- 
nicious distemper. 

Sin is of a deceitful nature, because, so far as it prevails, 
so far.it gains the inclination and will, and that sways and bias- 
ses the judgment. So far as any lust prevails, so far it biasses 
the mind to approve of it. So far as any sin sways the inclina- 
tion or will, so far that sin seems pleasing and good to the 
man : And that which is pleasing, the mind is prejudiced to 
think is right. Hence when any lust hath so gained upon a 
man, as to get him into a sinful way or practice ; it having 
gained his will, also prejudices his understanding. And the 
more irregularly a man walks, the more will his mind proba.- 


bly be darkened and blinded ; because by so much the more 
doth sin prevail. 

Hence many men who live in ways which are not agreea- 
ble to the rules of God's word, yet are not sensible of it ; and 
it is a difficult thing to make them sensible of it ; because the 
same lust that leads them into that evil way, blinds them in it. 
Thus, if a man live in a way of malice or envy, the more mal- 
ice or envy prevails, the more will it blind his understanding 
to approve of it. The more a man hates his neighbor, the 
more will he be disposed to think that he has just cause to 
hate him, and that his neighbor is hateful, and deserves to be 
hated, and that it is not his duty to love him. So if a man live 
in any way of lasciviousness, the more his impure lust pre- 
vails, the more sweet and pleasant will it make the sin appear, 
and so the more will he be disposed and prejudiced to think 
there is no evil in it. 

So the more a man lives in a way of covetousness, or the 
more inordinately he desires the profits of the world, the more 
will he think himself excusable in so doing, and the more will 
he think that he has a necessity of those things, and cannot do 
■without them. And if they be necessary, then he is excusa- 
ble for eagerly desiring them. The same might be shown of 
all the lusts which are in men's hearts. By how much the 
more they prevail, by so much the more do they blind the 
mind, and dispose the judgment to approve of them. All 
lusts are deceitful lusts. Eph. iv. 22. " That ye put off, con- 
cerning the former conversation, the old man which is cor- 
rupt according to the deceitful lusts." And even godly men 
may for a time be blinded and deluded by a lust, so far as to 
live in a way which is displeasing to God." 

The lusts of men's hearts, prejudicing them in favor of 
sinful practices, to which those lusts tend, and in which they 
delight ; this stirs up carnal reason, and puts men, with all 
the subtlety of which they are capable, to invent pleas and ar- 
guments to justify such practices. When men are very 
strongly inclined and tempted to any wicked practice, and 
conscience troubles them about it, thev will rack their brains 


to find out arguments to stop the mouth of conscience, and to 
make themselves believe that they may lawfully proceed in 
that practice. 

When men have entered upon an ill practice, and proceed- 
ed in it, then their selflove prejudices them to approve of it. 
Men do not love to condemn themselves ; they are prone to 
flatter themselves, and are prejudiced in their own favor, and 
in favor of whatever is found in themselves. Hence they will 
find out good names, by which to call their evil dispositions 
and practices ; they will make them virtuous, or at least will 
make them innocent. Their covetousness they will call pru- 
dence and diligence in business. If they rejoice at another's 
calamity, they pretend it is because they hope it will do him 
good, and will humble him. If they indulge in excessive 
drinking, it is because their constitutions require it. If they 
talk against, and backbite their neighbor, they call it zeal 
against sin ; it is because they would bear a testimony against 
such wickedness. If they set up their wills to oppose others 
in public affairs, then they call their wilfulness conscience, or 
respect to the public good. Thus they find good names for 
all their evil ways. 

Men are very apt to bring their principles to their prac- 
tices, and not their practices to their principles, as they ought 
to do. They, in their practice, comply not with their con- 
sciences ; but all their strife is to bring their consciences to 
comply with their practice. 

On the account of this deceitfulness of sin, and because we 
have so much sin dwelling in our hearts, it is a difficult thing 
to pass a true judgment on our own ways and practices. On 
this account we should make diligent search, and be much 
concerned to know whether there be not some wicked way in 
us. Heb. iii. J 2, 13. « Take heed, brethren, lest there be in 
any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the liv- 
ing God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to- 
day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness 
of sin." 


Men can more easily see faults in others than they can in 
themselves. When they see others out of the way, they will 
presently condemn them, when perhaps they do, or have done 
the same, or the like themselves, and in themselves justify 
it. Men can discern motes in others' eyes, better than they 
can beams in their own. Prov. xxi. 2. " Every way of man 
is right in his own eyes." The heart in this matter is ex- 
ceedingly deceitful. Jer. xvii. 9. " The heart is deceitful 
above all things, and desperately wicked : Who can know it ?" 
We ought not therefore to trust in our own hearts in this 
matter, but to keep a jealous eye on ourselves, to be prying 
into our own hearts and ways, and to cry to God that he would 
search us. Prov. xxviij. 26. "He that trusteth his own 
heart is a fool." 

2. Satan also sets in with our deceitful lusts, and labors 
to blind us in this matter. He is continually endeavoring to 
lead us into sinful ways, and sets in with carnal reason to flat- 
ter us in such ways, and to blind the conscience. He is the 
prince of darkness ; he labors to blind and deceive ; it hath 
been his work ever since he began it with our first parents. 

3. Sometimes men are not sensible, because they are 
stupified through custom. Custom in an evil practice stupi- 
fies the mind, so that it makes any way of sin, which at first 
was offensive to conscience, after a while, to seem harmless. 

4. Sometimes persons live in ways of sin, and are not sen- 
sible of it, because they are blinded by common custom, and 
the examples of others. There are so many who go into the 
practice, and it is so common a custom, that it is esteemed 
little or no discredit to a man ; it is little testified against. 
This causes some things to appear innocent, which are very 
displeasing to God, and abominable in his sight. Perhaps 
we see them practised by those of whom we have an high es- 
teem, by our superiors, and those who are accounted wise 
men. This greatly prepossesses the mind in favor of them, 
and takes off the sense of their evil. Or if they be observed 
to be commonly practised by those who are accounted godly 
men, men of experience in religion, this tends greatly to 


harden the heart, and blind the mind with respect to any evil 

5. Persons are in great danger of living in ways of sin, and 
not being sensible of it, for want of duly regarding and consid- 
ering their duty in the full extent of it. There are some who 
hear of the necessity of reforming from all sins, and attending 
all duties, and will set themselves to perform some particular 
duties, at the same time neglecting others. Perhaps their 
thoughts will be wholly taken up about religious duties, such 
as prayer in secret, reading the scriptures, and other good 
books, going to public worship and giving diligent attention, 
keeping the sabbath, and serious meditation. They seem to 
regard these things, as though they comprised their duty in 
its full extent, and as if this were their whole work ; and mor- 
al duties towards their neighbors, their duties in the relations 
in which they stand, their duties as husbands or wives, as 
brethren or sisters, or their duties as neighbors, seem not to 
be considered by them. 

They consider not the necessity of those things : And 
when they hear of earnestly seeking salvation in a way of dili- 
gent attendance on all duties, they seem to leave those out of 
their thoughts, as if they were not meant ; nor any other du- 
ties, except reading, and praying, and keeping the sabbath, 
and the like. Or if they do regard some parts of their moral 
duty, it may be other branches of it are not considered. Thus 
if they be just in their dealings, yet perhaps they neglect 
deeds of charity. They know they must not defraud their 
neighbor ; they must not lie ; they must not commit unclean- 
ness ; but seem not to consider what an evil it is to talk 
against others lightly, or to take up a reproach against them, 
or to contend and quarrel with them, or to live contrary to the 
rules of the gospel in their family relations, or not to instruct 
their children or servants. 

Many men seem to be very conscientious in some things, 
in some branches of their duty on which they keep their eye, 
when other important branches are entirely neglected, and 


sde'm not to be noticed by them. They regard not their duty 
in the full extent of it. 


The use I shall make of this doctrine is, to stir up in you 
the concern of which I have been speaking, and to lead you to' 
a strict inquiry, whether you do not live in some way of sin. 

1 . I shall propose some directions for you to follow, that 
you may discover whether you do not live in some way of sin. 

2. I shall mention some particulars, concerning which 
you may examine yourselves, in order to know whether you 
do not live in some way of sin. 

3. I shall mention some things which show the impor- 
tance of knowing and forsaking the ways of sin in which you 

I. I shall show what method you ought to take, in order to 
find out whether you do not live in some way of sin. This, 
as hath been observed, is a difficult thing to be known ; but it 
is not a matter of so much difficulty, but that if persons were 
sufficiently concerned about it, and strict and thorough in in- 
quiring and searching, it might, for the most part, be discov- 
ered ; men might know whether they live in any way of sin, 
or not. Persons who are deeply concerned to please and obey 
God, need not, under the light we enjoy, go on in ways of sin. 
through ignorance. 

It is true, that our hearts are exceedingly deceitful ; but 
God, in his holy word, hath given that light with respect to 
our duty, which is accommodated to the state of darkness in 
which we are. So that by thorough care and inquiry, we 
may know our duty, and know whether or no we live in any 
sinful way. And every one who hath any true love to God 
and his duty, will be glad to have any assistance in this in- 


quiiy. It is with such persons a concern which lies witW 
much weight upon their spirits, in all things to walk as God 
would have them, and so as to please and honor him. If they 
live in any way which is offensive to God, they will be glad to 
know it, and do by no means choose to have it concealed from 

All those also, who in good earnest make the inquiry, 
What shall I do to be saved ? Will be glad to know whether 
they do not live in some sinful way of behavior. For if they 
live in any such way, it is a great disadvantage to them with 
respect to that great concern. It behoves every one who is 
seeking salvation, to know and avoid every sinful way in which 
he lives. The means by which we must come to the knowl- 
edge of this, are two, viz. the knowledge of the rule, and the 
knowledge of ourselves. 

1st. If we would know whether we do not live in some 
way of sin, we should take a great deal of pains to be thor- 
oughly acquainted with the rule. God hath given us a true 
and perfect rule by which we ought to walk. And that we 
might be able, notwithstanding our darkness, and the disad- 
vantages which attend us, to know our duty ; he hath laid the 
rule before us abundantly. What a full and abundant revela- 
tion of the mind of God have we in the scriptures ! And how 
plain is it in what relates to practice 1 How often are rules re- 
peated ! In how many various forms are they revealed, that 
we might the more fully understand them ! 

But to what purpose will all this care of God to inform us 
be, if we neglect the revelation which God hath made of his 
mind, and take no care to become acquainted with it? It is 
impossible that we should know whether we do not live in a 
way of sin, unless we know the rule by which we are to walk. 
The sinfulness of any way consists in its disagreement from 
the rule ; and we cannot know whether it agree with the rule 
or not, unless we be acquainted with the rule. Rom. iii. 20. 
" By the law is the knowledge of sin." 

Therefore, lest v. e go in ways displeasing to God, we ought 
with the greatest diligence to study the rules which God hath 


given us. We ought to read and search the Holy Scriptures 
much, and to do it with the design to know the whole of our 
duty, and in order that the word of God may be " a lamp unto 
our feet, and a light unto our paths," Psalm cxix. 105. Eve- 
ry one ought to strive to get knowledge in divine things, and 
to grow in such knowledge, to the end that he may know his 
duty, and know what God would have him to do. 

These things being so,are not the greater partof men very 
much to blame in that they take no more pains or care to ac- 
quire the knowledge of divine things? In that they no more 
study the Holy Scriptures, and other books which might in- 
form them ? As if it were the work of ministers only, to take; 
pains to acquire this knowledge. But why is it so much a; 
minister's work to strive after knowledge, unless it be, that 
others may acquire knowledge by him ? Will not many be 
found inexcusable in the sinful ways in which they live through 
ignorance and mistake, because their ignorance is a wilful, al- 
lowed ignorance ? They are ignorant of their duty, but it is 
their own fault that they are so ; they have advantages enough 
to know, and may know it if they will ; but they take no pains 
to acquire knowledge in such things. They are careful to 
acquire knowledge, and to be well skilled in their outward af- 
fairs, upon which their temporal interest depends ; but will 
not take pains to know their duty. 

We ought to take great pains to be well informed, espe- 
cially in those things which relate to our particular cases. 

2dly. The other mean is the knowledge of ourselves, as 
subject to the rule. If we would know whether we do not live 
in some way of sin, we should take the utmost care to be well ac- 
quainted with ourselves, as well as with the rule, that we may 
be able to compare ourselves with the rule. When we have 
found what the rule is, then we should be strict in examining 
ourselves, whether or no we be conformed to the rule. This 
is the direct way in which our characters are to be discovered. 
It is one thing wherein man differs from brute creatures, that 
he is capable of selfreflection, or of reflecting upon his own 
actions, and what passes in his own mind, and considering the 

Vol. VIII. L 


nature and quality of them. And doubtless it was partly la- 
this end that God gave us this power, which is denied to oth- 
er creatures, that we might know ourselves, and consider our 
own ways. 

We should examine our hearts and ways, until we have 
satisfactorily discovered either their agreement or disagree- 
ment with the rules of scripture. This is a matter that re- 
quires the utmost diligence, lest we overlook our own irregu- 
larities, lest some evil way in us should lie hid under a di°~ 
guise, and pass unobserved. One would think we are under 
greater advantages to be acquainted with ourselves, than with 
any thing else ; for we are always present with ourselves, and 
have an immediate consciousness of our own actions : All 
that passeth in us, or is done by us, is immediately under our 
eye. Yet really in some respects the knowledge of nothing 1 
is so difficult to be obtained, as the knowledge of ourselves. 
We should therefore use great diligence in prying into thes 
secrets of our hearts, and in examining all our ways and prac- 
tices. That you may the more successfully use those means 
to know whether you do not live in some way of sin ; be ad- 

1. Evermore to join selfreflection with reading and hear- 
ing the word of God. When you read or hear, reflect or. 
yourselves as you go along, comparing yourselves and your 
own ways with what you read or hear. Reflect and consider 
what agreement or disagreement there is between the word 
and your ways. The scriptures testify against all manner of 
sin, and contain directions for every duty ; as the apostle saith, 
2 Tim. iii. 16. " And is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, 
for correction, for instruction in righteousness," Therefore 
when you there read the rules given us by Christ and his 
apostles, reflect and consider, each one of you with himself, 
Do I live according to this rule ? Or do I live in any respect 
contrary to it ? 

When you read in the historical parts of Scripture an ac- 
count of the sins of which others have been guilty, reflect on 
yourselves as you go along, and inquire whether you do not in 


some degree live in the same or like practices. .When you 
there read accounts how God reproved the sins of others, and 
executed judgments upon them for their sins, examine wheth- 
er you be not guilty of things of the same nature. When you 
read the examples of Christ, and o£ the saints recorded in 
scripture, inquire whether you do not live in ways contrary to 
those examples. When you read there how God commend- 
ed and rewarded any persons for their virtues and good deeds, 
inquire whether you perform those duties for which they were 
commended and rewarded, or whether you do not live in the 
contrary sins or vices. Let me further direct you, particular- 
ly to read the scriptures to these ends, that you may compare 
and examine yourselves in the manner now mentioned. 

So if you would know whether you do not live in some 
way of sin, whenever you hear any sin testified against, or any 
duty urged, in the preaching of the word, be careful to look 
back upon yourselves, to compare yourselves and your own 
ways with what you hear, and strictly examine yourselves, 
whether you live in this or the other sinful way which you 
hear testified against ; and whether you do this duty which 
you hear urged. Make use of the word as a glass, wherein 
you may behold yourselves. 

How few are there who do this as they ought to do ! Who, 
while the minister is testifying against sin, are busy with them- 
-selves in examining their own hearts and ways ! The general- 
ity rather think of others, how this or that person lives in a 
manner contrary to what is preached j so that there may be 
hundreds of things delivered in the preaching of the word, 
which properly belong to them, and are well suited to their 
cases ; yet it never so much as comes into their minds, that 
what is delivered any way concerns them. Their minds read- 
ily fix upon others, and they can charge others, but never 
think with themselves whether or no they be the persons. 

2. If you live in any ways which are generally condemned 
by the better, and more sober sort of men, be especially care- 
ful to inquire concerning these, whether they be not ways of 
ein. Perhaps you have argued with yourselves, that such or 


such a practice is lawful ; you cannot see any evil in it. Howr 
ever, if it be generally condemned by godly ministers, and the 
better and more pious sort of people, it certainly looks suspi- 
ciously, whether or no there be not some evil in it ; so that 
you may well be put upon inquiring with the utmost strict- 
ness, whether it be not sinful. The practice being so gener- 
ly disapproved of by those who in such cases are most likely 
to be in the right, may reasonably put you upon more than or- 
dinarily nice and diligent inquiry concerning the lawfulness 
or unlawfulness of it. 

3. Examine yourselves, whether all the ways in which 
you live, are likely to be pleasant to think of upon a deathbed. 
Persons often in health allow and plead for those things, which 
they would not dare to do, if they looked upon themselves as 
shortly about to go out of the world. They in a great meas- 
ure still their consciences as to ways in which they walk, and 
keep them pretty easy, while death is thought of as at a dis- 
tance : Yet reflections on these same ways are very uncom- 
fortable when they are going out of the world. Conscience is 
not so easily blinded and muffled then as at other times. 

Consider therefore and inquire diligently whether or no 
you do not live in some practice or other, as to the lawfulness 
of which, when it shall come into your minds upon your 
deathbed, you will choose to have some further satisfaction, 
and some better argument than you now have, to prove that it 
is not sinful, in order to your being easy about it. Think over 
your particular ways, and try yourselves, with the awful ex- 
pectation of soon going out of the world into eternity, and ear- 
nestly endeavor impartially to judge what ways you will on a 
deathbed approve of, and rejoice in, and what you will disap- 
prove of, and wish you had let alone. 

4. Be advised to consider what others say of you, and im- 
prove it to this end, to know whether you do not live in some 
way of sin. Although men are blind to their own faults, yet 
they easily discover the faults of others, and are apt enough to. 
speak of them. Sometimes persons live in ways which do 
not at all become them, yet are blind to it themselves, not see- 


img the deformity of their own ways, while it is most plain and 
evident to others. They themselves cannot see it, yet others 
cannot shut their eyes against it, cannot avoid seeing it. 

For instance. Some persons are of a very proud behavior, 
and are not sensible of it ; but it appears notorious to others. 
Some are of a very worldly spirit, they are set after the world, 
so as to be noted for it, so as to have a name for it ; yet they 
seem not to be sensible of it themselves. Some are of a very 
malicious and envious spirit ; and others see it, and to them 
it appears very hateful ; yet they themselves do not reflect up- 
on it. Therefore since there is no trusting to our own hearts, 
and our own eyes in such cases, we should make our improve- 
ment of what others say of us, observe what they charge us 
with, and what fault they find with us, and strictly examine 
whether there be not foundation for it. 

If others charge us with being proud ; or worldly, close, 
and niggardly ; or spiteful and malicious ; or with any other 
ill temper or practice ; we should improve it in self reflection, 
to inquire whether it be not so. And though the imputation 
may seem to us to be very groundless, and we think that they, 
in charging us so and so, are influenced by no good spirit ; yet 
if we act prudently, we shall take so much notice of it as to 
make it an occasion of examining ourselves. 

Thus we should improve what our friends say to us and of 
us, when they, from friendship, tell us of any thing which they 
observe amiss in us. It is most imprudent, as well as most 
unchristian, to take it amiss, and resent it ill, when we are 
thus told of our faults : We should rather rejoice in it, that 
we are shown the spots which are upon us. Thus also we 
should improve what our enemies say of us. If they, from an 
ill spirit, reproach and revile us to our faces, we should con- 
sider it, so far as to reflect inwardly upon ourselves, and in- 
quire whether it be not so, as they charge us. For though 
what is said, be said in a reproachful, reviling manner ; yet 
there may be too much truth in it. When men revile others 
even from an ill spirit towai-ds them ; yet they are likely to fix 
ypon real faults ; they are likely to fall upon us where we are 


weakest and most defective, and where we have given them 
most occasion. An enemy will soonest attack us where we 
can least defend ourselves ; and a man that reviles us, though 
he do it from an unchristian spirit, and in an unchristian man- 
ner, yet will be most likely to speak of that, for which we are 
really most to blame, and are most faulted by others. 

So when we hear of others talking against us behind our 
backs, though they do very ill in so doing, yet the right im- 
provement of it will be, to reflect upon ourselves, and consid- 
er whether we indeed have not those faults which they lay to 
our charge. This will be a more Christian and a more wise 
improvement of it, than to be in a rage, to revile again, and to 
entertain an ill will towards them for their evil speaking. 
This is the most wise and prudent improvement of such things. 
Hereby we may get good out of evil ; and this is the surest 
way to defeat the designs of our enemies in reviling and back- 
biting us. They do it from ill will, and to do us an injury j 
but in this way we may turn it to our own good. 

5. Be advised, when you see others' faults, to examine 
whether there be not the same in yourselves. This is not 
done by many, as is evident from this, that they are so ready 
to speak of others' faults, and aggravate them, when they have 
the very same themselves. Thus, nothing is more common 
than for proud men to accuse others of pride, and to declaim 
against them upon that account. So it is common for dishon- 
est men to complain of being wronged by others. When a 
person seeth ill dispositions and practices in others, he is not 
under the same disadvantage in seeing their odiousness and 
deformity, as when he looks upon any ill disposition or prac- 
tice in himself. He can see how odious these and those things 
axe in others ; he can easily see what an hateful thing pride is 
in another ; and so of malice, and other evil dispositions or 
practices. In others he can easily see their deformity ; for 
he doth not look through such a deceitful glass, as when he sees 
the same things in himself. 

Therefore, when you see others' faults; when you take 
aotice, how such an one acts amiss, what an ill spirit he shows, 


and how unsuitable his behaviour is ; when you hear others 
speak, of it, and when you yourselves find fault with others in 
their dealings with you, or in things wherein you are any way 
concerned with them ; then reflect, and consider, whether 
there be nothing of the same nature in yourselves. Consider 
that these things are just as deformed and hateful in you as 
they are in others. Pride, an haughty spirit and carriage, are 
as odious in you as they are in your neighbor. Your mali- 
cious and revengeful spirit towards your neighbor, is just as 
hateful as a malicious and revengeful spirit in him towards 
you. It is as unreasonable for you to wrong, and to be dishon- 
est with your neighbor, as it is for him to wrong and be dis- 
honest with you. It is as injurious and unchristian for you to 
talk against others behind their backs, as it is for others to do 
the same with respect to you. 

6. Consider the ways in which others are blinded as to the 
sins in which they live, and strictly inquire whether you be not. 
blinded in the same ways. You are sensible that others are 
blinded by their lusts ; consider whether the prevalence of 
some carnal appetite or lust of the mind have not blinded yom 
You see how others are blinded by their temporal interest % 
Inquire whether your temporal interest do not blind you also 
in some things, so as to make you approve of things, and allow 
yourselves in things which are not right. You are as liable 
to be blinded through inclination and interest, and have the 
same deceitful and wicked hearts as other men : Prov. xxvih 
19. " As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man 
to man." 

II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed in the use 
of the doctrine, viz. to mention some particulars as to which 
it becomes you to examine yourselves, that you may know 
whether you do not live in some way of sin. I desire all those 
would strictly examine themselves in the following particulars, 
who are concerned not to live in any way of sin, as I hope 
there are a a considerable number of such now present ; and 
this certainly will be the case with all who are godly, and all 
who are duly concerned for their own salvation. 


1. Examine yourselves with respect to the Sabbath cay. 
Whether you do not live in some way of breaking or profaning 
God's holy Sabbath. Do you strictly in all things keep this 
day, as sacred to God, in governing your thoughts, words, and 
actions, as the word of God requires on this holy day ? Inquire 
whether you do not only fail in particulars, but whether you 
do not live in some way, whereby this day is profaned ; and 
particularly inquire concerning three things. 

(1.) Whether it be not a frequent thing with you to en- 
croach upon the Sabbath at its beginning,* and after the Sab- 
bath is begun to be out at your work, or following that worldly 
business which is proper to be done only in our own time. If 
this be a thing in which you allow yourselves, you live in a 
way of sin ; for it is a thing which can by no means be justifi- 
ed. You have no more warrant to be out with your team, or to 
be cutting wood, or doing any other worldly business, imme- 
diately after the Sabbath is begun, than you have to do it in the 
middle of the day. The time is as holy near the beginning of 
the Sabbath as it is the middle ; it is the whole that we are to 
rest, and to keep holy, and devote to God ; we have no licence 
to take any part of it to ourselves. 

When men often thus encroach upon the Sabbath, it can- 
not be from any necessity which can justify them ; it can only 
be for want of due care, and due regard to holy time. They 
can with due care get their work finished, so that they can 
leave it by a certain hour. This is evident by this, that when, 
they are under a natural necessity of finishing their work by a 
certain time, then they do take that care as to have dene be- 
fore that time comes : As for instance, when they are aware 
that at such a time it will be dark, and they will not be able to 
follow their work any longer, but will be under a natural ne- 
cessity of leaving off" ; why, then, they will and do take care 
ordinarily to have finished their work before that time ; and 

* It may be necessary here to inform some readers, that it was the senti- 
ment of the author, as well as of the country in general where he lived, that 
the Sabbath begins with the evening preceding the day, and is to be celebrated 
from evening to evening, Lev, xxiii. 32. 


this although the darkness some.imes begins sooner, and 
sometimes later. 

This shows, that with due care men can ordinarily have 
done their work by a limited time. If proper care will finish 
their work by a limited time when they are under a natural 
necessity of it, the same care would as well finish it by a cer- 
tain time when we are only under a moral necessity. If it 
were so, that men knew that as soon as ever the Sabbath 
should begin, it would be perfectly dark, so that they would be 
under a natural necessity of leaving off their work abroad by 
that time, then we should see that they would generally have 
their work done before the time. This shows that it is only 
for want of care, and of regard to the holy command of God, 
that men so frequently have some of their work abroad to do 
after the Sabbath is begun. 

Nehemiah took great care that no burden should be borne 
after the beginning of the Sabbath, Nehem. xiii. i9. " And it 
came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be 
dark before the Sabbath," i.e. began to be darkened by the 
shade of the mountains before sunset, " I commanded that 
the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be 
opened till after the Sabbath ; and some of my servants set I 
at the gates, that there should be no burden brought in on the 
Sabbath clay." 

(2.) Examine whether it be not your manner to talk on 
the Sabbath of things unsuitable for holy time. If you do not 
move such talk yourselves, yet when you fall into company 
that sets you the example, are you not wont to join in divert- 
ing talk, or in talk of worldly affairs, quite wide from any rela- 
tion to the business of the day ? There is as much reason that 
you should keep the Sabbath holy with your tongues, as with 
your hands. If it be unsuitable for you to employ your hands 
about common and worldly things, why is it not as unsuitable 
for you to employ your tongues about them ? 

(3.) Inquire whether it be not your manner to loiter away 
the time of the Sabbath, and to spend it in a great measure in 
idleness, in doing nothing. Do you not spend more time on 
Vol. VIII. M 


Sabbath day, than on other days, on your beds, or otherwise 
idling away the time, not improving- it as a precious opportu- 
nity of seeking God, and your own salvation ? 

2. Examine yourselves, whether you do not live in some 
way of sin with respect to the institutions of God's house. 
Here I shall mention several instances. 

(1.) Do you not wholly neglect some of those institutions, 
as particularly the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ? Perhaps 
you pretend scruples of conscience, that you are not fit to 
come to that ordinance, and question whether you be com- 
manded to come. But are your scruples the result of a seri- 
ous and careful inquiry ? Are they not rather a cloak for your 
own negligence, indolence, and thoughtlessness concerning 
your duty? Are you satisfied, have you thoroughly inquired- 
and looked into this matter ? If not, do you not live in sin, in 
that you do not more thoroughly inquire ? Are you excusable 
in neglecting a positive institution, when you are scrupulous 
about your duty, and yet do not thoroughly inquire what it is ? 

But be it so, that you are unprepared ; is not this your 
own sin, your own fault ? And can sin excuse you from attend- 
ing on a positive institution of Christ ? 

When persons are like to have children to be baptized, 
they can be convinced that it is their duty to come. If it be 
only conscience that detained them, why doth it not detain 
them as well now as heretofore ? Or if they now be more 
thorough in their inquiries concerning their duty, ought they 
not to have been thorough in their inquiries before as well as 
now ? 

(2.) Do you not live in sin, in living in the neglect of sing- 
ing God's praises ? If singing praise to God be an ordinance 
of God's public worship, as doubtless it is, then it ought to be 
attended and performed by the whole worshipping assembly. 
If it be a command that we should worship God in this way, 
then all ought to obey this command, not only by joining with 
others in singing, but in singing themselves. For if wc sup- 
pose it answers the command of Cod for us only to join in 
our hearts with others, il will run us into this absurdity, that 


all may do so ; and then there would be none to sing, none for 
others to join with. 

If it be an appointment of God, that Christian congrega- 
tions should sing praises to him, then doubtless it is the duty 
of all ; if there be no exception in the rule, then all ought to 
comply with it, unless they be incapable of it, or unless it 
would be an hinderance to the other work of God's house, as 
the case may be Avith ministers, who sometimes may be in 
great need of that respite and intermission after public pray- 
-ers, to recover their breath and strength, so that they may be 
fit to speak the word. But if persons be now not .capable, be- 
cause they know not how to sing, that doth not excuse them, 
unless they have been incapable of learning. As it is the 
command of God, that all should sing, so all should make 
conscience of learning to sing, as it is a thing which cannot be 
decently performed at ail without learning. Those, there- 
fore, who neglect to learn to sing, live in sin, as they neglect 
what is necessary in order to their attending one of the ordi- 
nances of God's worship. 

Not only should persons make conscience of learning to 
sing themselves, but parents should conscientiously see to it, 
that their children are taught this among other things, as 
their education and instruction belong to them. 

(3 ) Are you not guilty of allowing yourselves in sin, in 
neglecting to do your part towards the removal of scandals 
from among us ? All persons that are in the church, and the 
children of the church are under the watch of the church ; 
and it is one of those duties to which we are bound by the 
covenant which we either actually or virtually make, in unit- 
ing ourselves to a particular church, that we will watch over 
our brethren, and do our part to uphold the ordinances of 
God in their purity. This is the end of the institution of 
particular churches, viz. the maintaining of the ordinances 
of divine worship there, in the manner which God hath ap- 

Examine whether you have not allowed yourselves in sin 
with respect to this matter, through fear of offending your 


neighbors. Have you not allowedly neglected the proper 
steps for removing scandals, when you have seen them ; the 
steps of reproving them privately, where the case would al- 
low of it, and of telling them to the church, where the case 
required it ? Instead of watching over your brother, have you 
not rather hid yourselves, that you might not be w itnesses 
against him ? And when you have seen scandal in him, have 
you not avoided the taking of proper steps according to the 
case ? 

(4.) Art not thou one whose manner it is, to come late to 
the public worship of God, and especially in winter, when the 
weather is cold ? And dost thou not live in sin in so doing ? 
Consider whether it be a way which can be justified ; wheth- 
er it be a practice which doth honor to God and religion ; 
whether it have ttbt the appearance of setting light by the 
public worship and ordinances of God's house. Doth it not 
show that thou dost not prize such opportunities, and that 
Ihou art willing to have as little of them as thou canst \ Is it 
not a disorderly practice ? And if all should do as thou dost, 
what confusion would it occasion ? 

(5.) Art thou not one uhose manner it commonly is to 
sleep in the lime of public service ? And is not this to live in 
a way of sin ? Consider the matter rationally ; is it a thing to 
be justified, for thee to lay thyself down to sleep, while thou 
art present in the time of divine service, and pretendest to be 
one of the Avorshipping assembly, and to be hearing a message 
from God ? Would it not be looked upon as an high affront, an 
odious behavior, if thou shouldst do so in the presence of a 
king, while a message was delivering to thee, in his name, by 
one of his servants ? Canst thou put a greater contempt on 
the message which the King of kings sendeth to thee, con- 
cerning things ol the greatest importance, than from time to 
time to lay thyself down, and compose thyself to sleep, while 
the messenger is delivering his message to thee ? 

(6.) Art thou not cue who is not careful to keep his mind 
intent upon what is said and done in public worship ? Dost 
•hounct, in the midst of the most solemn acts of worship, 


suffer thy thoughts to rove after worldly objects, worldly 
cares and concerns, or perhaps the objects of thy wicked lusts 
and desires ? And dost thou not herein live in a way of sin ? 

3. The next thing I shall propose to you to examine your- 
selves about, is, whether you do not live in some secret sin ; 
whether you do not live in the neglect of some secret duty, 
or secretly live in some practice which is offensive to the pure 
and all seeing eye of God. Here you should examine your- 
selves concerning all secret duties, as reading, meditation, se- 
cret prayer ; whether you intend those at all, or if you do, 
whether you do not attend them in an unsteady and careless 
manner. You should also examine yourselves concerning all 
secret sins. Strictly inquire what your behavior is, when you 
are hid from the eye of the world, when you are under no oth- 
er restraints than those of conscience, when you are not afraid 
of the eye of man, and have nothing to fear but the allseeing 
eye of God. 

Here, among many other things which might be mention- 
ed, I shall particularly mention two. 

(1.) Inquire whether you do not live in the neglect of the 
duty of reading the holy scriptures. The holy scriptures 
were surely written to be read ; and unless we be Po/iish in 
our principles, we shall maintain, that they were not only giv- 
en to be read by ministers, but by the people too. It doth 
not answer the design for which they were given, that we 
have once read them, and that we once in a great while read 
something in them. They were given to be always with us, 
to be continually conversed with, as a rule of life. As the ar- 
tificer must always have his rule with him in his work ; and 
the blind man that walks must always have his guide by him ; 
and he that walks in darkness must have his light with him ; 
so the scriptures were given to be a lamfi to our fat, and a light 
to our path. 

That we may continually use the scriptures as our rule of 
life, we should make them our daily companion, and keep 
them with us continually. Josh. i. 8. " This book of the law 
BfraH not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate 


therein day and night." See also Deut. vi. 6, 7, 8, 9. So 
Chris*, commands us to search the scriptures, John. \ 39. 

These arc the mines wherein we are to dig ior wisdom as for 
hidden treasures. Inquire, the* efove, whether you do i ot live 
in the neglect of this duty, or neglect it so far, that you may he 
said to live in a way of sin. 

(2.) Inquire whether you do not live in some way of secret- 
ly gratifying some sensual lust. There are many ways and de- 
grees, wherein a carnal lust may be indulged ; but every way 
is provoking to an holy God. Consider whether, although 
you restrain yourselves from more gross indulgences, you do 
not, in some way or other, and in some degree or other, se- 
cretiy from time to time gratify your lusts, and allow your- 
selves to taste the sweets of unlawful delight, 

Persons may greatly provoke God, by only allowedly grat- 
ifying their lusts in their thoughts and imaginations. They 
may also greatly provoke Cod by excess and intemperance 
in gratifying their animal appetites in those things which are 
in themselves lawful. Inquire, therefore, whether you do 
not live in some sinful way or other, in secretly gratifying a 
sinful appetite. 

4. I would propose to you, to examine yourselves, wheth- 
er you do not live in some way of sin, in the spii it and temper 
of mind which you allow towards your neighbor. 

(1.) Do you not allow and indulge a passionate, furious 
disposition? If your natural temper be hasty and passionate, 
do you truly strive against such a temper, and labor to govern 
your spirit ? Do you lament it, and Watch over yourselves to 
prevent it ? Or do you allow yourselves in a fiery temper ? 
Such a disposition doth not become a Christian, or a man. It 
doth not become a man, because it unmans him ; it turns a 
man from a rational creatine to be like a wiid beast. When 
men are under the prevalency of a furious passion, they have 
not much of the exercise of reason. We are warned to avoid 
such men, as being dangerous creatures, Prov. xxii. 24, 25. 
" Make no friendship with an angry man ; and with a furious 


man thou shnlt not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a 
snare to thy soul." 

(2.) Do you not live in hatred towards some or other oi" 
your neighbors ? Do you not hate him for real or supposed 
injuries that you have received from him ? Do you not hate 
him, because he is not friendly towards you, and because you 
judge that he hath an ill spirit agi inst you, and hutes you, and 
becaxise he opposes you, and doih not shov you that respect 
which you think belongs to you, or doth not show himself for- 
ward to promote your interest or honor ? Do you not hate 
him, because you think he despises you, has a mean thought 
of you, and takes occasion in his talk of you to show it ? Do 
you not hate him, because he is of the opposite party to that 
which is in your interest, and because he has considerable in- 
fluence in that party ? 

Doubtless you will be loath to call it by so harsh a name as 
hatred ; but inquire seriously and impartially, whether it be 
any thing better. Do you not feel ill towards him ? Do you 
not feel a prevailing disposition within you to be pleased when 
you hear him talked against and run down, and to be glad when, 
you hear of any dishonor put upon him, or of any disappoint- 
ments which happen to him ? Would you not be glad of an 
opportunity to be even with him for the injuries which he. 
hath done you? And wherein doth hatred work but in such. 
ways as these ? 

(3.) Inquire whether you do not live in envy towards some 
one at least of your neighbors. Is not his prosperity, his 
riches, or his advancement in honor, uncomfortable to you " 
Have you not, therefore, an ill will, or at least less good will 
to him, because you look upon him as standing in your way. 
you look upon yourscif as depressed by his advancement ? 
And would it not be pleasing to you now, if he should be de- 
prived of his riches, or of his honors, not from pure respect 
to the public good, but because you reckon he stands in your 
way ? Is it not merely from a selfish spirit that you are no un- 
easy at his prosperity ? 


5. I shall propose to your consideration, whether you do 
not live in some way of sin, and wrong in your dealings with 
your neighbors. 

(1 .) Inquire whether you do not from time to time injure 
and defraud those with whom you deal. Are your ways with 
your neighbor altogether just, such as will bear a trial by the 
strict rules of the word of God, or such as you can justifv be- 
fore God ? Are you a faithful person ? May your neighbors 
depend on your word ? Are you strictly and firmly true to 
your trust, or any thing with which you are betrusted, and 
which you undertake ? Or do you not by your conduct plainly 
show, that you are not conscientious in such things ? 

Do you not live in a careless, sinful neglect of paying your 
debts ? Do you not, to the detriment of your neighbor, sinful- 
ly withhold that which is not your own, but his ? Are you not 
wont to oppress your neighbor ? When you see another in ne- 
cessity, do you not thence take advantage to screw upon him ? 
When you see a person ignorant, and perceive that you have 
an opportunity to make your gams of it, are you not wont to 
take such an opportunity ? Will you not deceive in buying 
and selling, and labor to blind the eyes of him of whom you 
buy, or to whom you sell, with deceitful words, hiding the 
faults of what you sell, and denying the good qualities of what 
you buy, and not strictly keeping to the truth, when you see 
that falsehood will be an advantage to you in your bargain ? 

(2.) Do you not live in some wrong which you have for- 
merly done your neighbor, without repairing it ? Are you not 
conscious that you have formerly, at some time or other, 
wronged your neighbor, and yet you live in it, have never re- 
paired the injury which you have done him? If so, you live 
in a way of sin. 

6. I desire you would examine yourselves, whether you 
do not live in the neglect of the duties of charity towards 
your neighbor. You may live in sin towards your neigh- 
bor, though you cannot charge yourselves with living in ;my 
injustice in your dealings. Here also I would mention t\v» 


(1.) Whether you are gailty of sinfully withholding from 
your neighbor who is in want. Giving to the poor, and giving 
liberally and bountifully, is a duty absolutely required of us. 
It is not a thing left to persons' choice to do as they please ; 
nor is it merely a thing commendable in persons to be liberal 
to others in want ; but it is a duty as strictly and absolutely re* 
quired and commanded as any other duty whatsoever, a duty 
from which God will not acquit us ; as you may see in Dent. 
XV. 7, 8. &c. : And the neglect of this duty is very provoking 
to God. Prov. xxi. 13. " Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry 
of the poor, he also himself shall cry, and not be heard." 

Inquire, therefore, whether you have not lived in a way of 
gin in this regard. Do you not see your neighbor suffer, and 
be pinched with want, and you, although sensible of it, harden 
your hearts against him, and are careless about it? Do you not, 
in such a case, neglect to inquire into his necessities, and to 
do something for his relief ? Is it not your manner to hide 
your eyes in such cases, and to be so far from devising liberal 
things, and endeavoring to find out the proper objects and oc- 
casions of charity, that you rather contrive to avoid the knowl- 
edge of them ? Are you not apt to make objectionsto such du- 
ties, and to excuse yourselves ? And are you not sorry for 
such occasions, on which you are forced to give something, or 
expose your reputation ? Are not such things grievous to you ? 
If these things be so, surely you live in sin, and in a great sin> 
and have need to inquire, whether your spot be not such as is 
not the spot of God's children. 

(2.) Do you not live in the neglect of reproving your 
neighbor, when you see him going on in a way of sin ? This 
is required of us by the command of God, as a duty of love and 
charity which we owe our neighbor: Lev. xix. 17.. "Thou 
shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart ; thou shalt in any 
wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him." 
When we see our neighbor going on in sin, we ought to go, 
and in a Christian way deal with him about it. Nor will it 
excuse us, that we fear it will have no good effect ; we cannot 
certainly tell what effect it will have. This is past doubt, 

Vol.. VIII. N 


that if Christians generally performed this duty as they ought 
to do, it would prevent abundance of sin and wickedness, and- 
would deliver many a squI from the ways of death. 

If a man, going on in the ways of sin, saw that it was gen- 
erally disliked and discountenanced, and testiiied against by- 
others, it would have a strong tendency to reform him. His 
regard for his own reputation would strongly persuade him to 
reform ; for hereby he would see that the way in which he 
lives makes him odious in the eyes of others. When persons 
gn-on in sin, and no one saith any thing to them in testimony 
against it, they know not but that their ways are approved, and 
are not sensible that it is much to their dishonor to do as they 
do. The approbation of others tends to blind men's eyes, and 
harden their hearts in sin; whereas, if they saw that others 
utterly disapprove of their ways, it would tend to open their 
eyes and convince them. 

If others neglect their duty in this respect, and our reproof 
alone will not be so likely to be effectual ; yet that doth not ex- 
cuse us ; for if one singly may be excused, then every one 
may be excused, and so we shall make it no duly at all. 

Persons often need the reproofs and admonitions of others, 
to make them sensible that the ways in which they live are 
sinful ; foss as hath been already observed, men are often 
blinded as to their own sins. 

7. Examine yourselves, whether you do not live in some 
way of sin in your conversation with your neighbors. Men 
commit abundance of sin, not only in the business and dealings 
which they have with their neighbors, but in their talk and 
converse with them. 

(1.) Inquire whether you do not keep company with per- 
sons of a lewd and immoral behavior, with persons whq do 
not make conscience of their ways, arc not of sober lives, but, 
on the contrary, are profane and extravagant, and unclean ia 
their communication. This is what the word of God forbids, 
and testifies against : Prov. xiv. 7. " Go from the presence 
of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of 
knowledge ;" Prov. xiii. 2Q. " A companion of fools fcha'J 


be destroyed." The Psalmist professes himself clear of this 
sin. Psalm xxvi4, 5. " I have not sat with vain persons; 
neither will I go with dissemblers : I have hated the congre- 
gation of evil doers, and will not sit with the wicked." 

Do you not live in this sin ? Do you not keep company 
with such persons ? and have you not found them a snare to 
your souls ? If you have any serious tnoughts about the great 
concerns of your souls, have you not found this a great hind- 
rance to you ? Have you not found that it hath been a great 
temptation to you ? Have you not been from time to time 
led into sin thereby ? Perhaps it may seem difficult wholly to 
forsake your old wicked companions. You are afraid they 
will deride you, and make a game of you ; therefore you have 
not courage enough to do it. But whether it be difficult or 
not, yet know this, that if you continue in such connexions, 
you live in a way of sin, and, as the scripture saith, you shall be 
destroyed. You must either cut off your right hands, and 
pluck out your right eyes, or else even go with them into the 
fire that never shall be quenched. 

(2.) Consider whether, in your conversation with others, 
you do not accustom yourselves to evil speaking. How com- 
mon is it for persons, when they meet together, to sit and 
spend their lime in talking against others, judging this or that 
of them, spreading ill and uncertain reports which they have 
heard of them, running down one and another, and ridiculing 
their infirmities ! How much is such sort of talk as this the 
entertainment of companies when they meet together! And 
what talk is there which seems to be more entertaining, to 
which persons will more listen, and in which they will seem 
to be more engaged,' than such talk 1 You cannot but know 
how common this is. 

Therefore examine whether you be not guilty of this. 
And can you just ; fy it 1 Do you not know it to be a way of sin, 
a way which is condemned by many rules in the word of God ? 
Are you not guilty of eagerly taking up any ill report which 
you hear of your neighbor, seeming to be glad that you have 
vmie news to talk of, with which you think others will be en- 


tertaincd ? Do you not often spread ill reports which you hear" 
of others, before you know what ground there is for them ? 
Do you not take a pleasure in being the reporter of such news? 
Are you not wont to pass a judgment concerning others, or 
their behavior, without talking to them, and hearing what they 
have to say for themselves ? Doth not that folly and shame be- 
long to you which is spoken of in Prov. xviii. 1 3. " He that 
answereth a matter belere he heareth it, it is folly and shame 
unto him." 

This is utterly an iniquity, a very unchristian practice, 
which commonly prevails, that men, when they hear or know 
of any ill of others, will not do a Christian part, in going to 
talk with thern a!>out it, to reprove them for it, but will get be- 
hind their backs before they open their mouths, and there are 
very forward to si<eak,c.nu to judge, to the huri of their neigh- 
bor's good name. Consider whether you be not guilty oi this* 
Consider also how apt you are to be displeased when you hear 
that others have been talking against you ! How forward you 
are to apply the rules, and to think and tell how they ought first 
to have come and talked with you about it, and not to have 
gone and spread an ill report of you, before they knew what 
you had to say in your vindication ! 

How ready are persons to resent it, when others meddle 
with their private affairs, and busy themselves, and judge, and 
find fault, and declaim against them ! How ready are they to 
say, it is no business of theirs ! let are you not guilty of the 
same ? 

(3.) Is it not your manner to seem to countenance and fall 
in with the talk of the company in which you are, in that which 
is evil ? When the company is vain in its talk, and falls into 
lewd discourse, or vain jestery, is it not your manner, in such 
a case, to comply and fall in with the company, to seem pleas- 
ed with its talk, if not to join with it. and help to carry on such 
discourse, out of compliance with your company, though in- 
deed you disapptove of it in your hearts ? So inquire whether 
it be not your manner to fall in with your companions, when 
they are talking against others. Do you not help forward the 


discourse, or at least seem to fall in with their censures, and 
the aspersions they cast on others, and the reflections they 
make upon their neighbors' characters ? 

There are some persons, who, in case of difference be- 
tween persons or parties, are doubletongued, will seem 10 fall 
in with both parties. When they are with those on one side, 
they will seem to be on their side, and to fall in with them, in 
their talk against their antagonists. At another time, when 
they are with those of the other side, they will seem to com- 
ply with them, and will condemn the other party ; which is a 
very vile and deceitful practice. Seeming to be friendly to 
both before their faces, they are enemies to both behind their 
backs ; and that upon so mean a motive as the pleasing of the 
party with which they are in company. They injure both 
parties, and do what in them lies to establish the difference 
between them. Inquire whether or no this be your manner. 

(4.) Is it not your manner, not to confine yourselves to 
strict truth in your conversation with your neighbors ? Lying 
is accounted ignominious and reproachful among men ; and 
they take it in high disdain to be called liars ; yet how many 
are there that do not so govern their tongues, as strictly to 
confine them to the truth ! There are various degrees of 
transgressing in this kind. Some, who may be cautious of 
transgressing in one degree, may allow themselves in another. 
Some, who commonly avoid speaking directly and wholly con- 
trary to truth, in a plain matter of fact ; yet perhaps are not 
strictly true in speaking of their own thoughts, desires, affec- 
tions, and designs, and are not exact to the truth, in the rela- 
tions which they give of things in conversation ; scruple not 
to vary in circumstances, to add some things, to make their 
story the more entertaining; will magnify and enlarge things, 
to make their relation the more wonderful ; and in things 
wherein their interest or credit is concerned, will make false 
representations of things ; will be guilty of an unwarrantable 
equivocation, and a guileful way of speaking, wherein they are 
chargeable with a great abuse of language. In order to save 
their veracity, words and sentences must be wrested to a 


meaning quite beside their natural and established signify 

Whatever interpretation such men put on their own 
words, they do not save themselves from the guilt of lying in 
the sight of God. Inquire whether you be not guilty of living 
in sin in this particular. 

8. Examine yourselves, whether you do not live in some 
way of sin in the families to which you belong. There are 
many persons who appear well among their neighbors, and 
seem to be of an honest civil behavior in their dealings and 
conversation abroad ; yet if you follow them to their own 
houses, and to the families to which they belong, there you 
will find them very perverse in their ways ; there they li\e in 
ways which are very displeasing to the pure all searching eyes 
of God. You have already been directed to examine your 
conversation abroad ; you have been directed to search the 
bouse of God, and to see if you have brought no defilement 
into it ; you have been directed to search your closets, to see 
if there be no pollution or provocation there ; be advised now 
to search your houses, examine your behavior in the families 
to which you belong, and sec what your ways and manners are 

The houses to which we belong are the places where the 
generality of us spend the greater part of our time. If we 
respect the world as a man's sphere of action, a man's own 
house is the greater part of the world to him ; i. e. the great- 
er part of his actions and behavior in the world is limited 
within this sphere. We should therefore be very critical in 
examining our behavior, not only abroad, but at home. A 
great proportion of the wickedness that men are guilty of, and 
that will be brought out at the day of judgment, will be the 
sin which they shall have committed in the families to which 
they belong. 

Therefore inquire how you behave yourselves in the fami- 
ly relations in which you stand. As those relative duties which 
we owe towards the members of the same family belong to 


the second table of the law, so love is the general duty which, 
comprises them all. 


( I ) Examine yourselves, whether you do not live in some 
Way which is contrary to that love which is due to those who 
belong to the same family. Love, implying an hearty good 
will, and a behavior agreeable to it, is a duty which we owe to 
all mankind. We owe it to our neighbors, to whom we are 
no otherwise related than as they are our neighbors ; yea, we 
owe it to those who stand in no relation to us, except that they 
are of mankind, are reasonable creatures, the sons and daugh- 
ters of Adam. It is a duty that we owe to our enemies ; how 
much more then do we owe it to those who stand in so near a 
relation to us, as an husband or wife, parents or children, breth- 
ren or sisters ! 

There are the same obligations on us to love such relatives 
as to love the rest of mankind. We are to love them as men ; 
we are to love them as our neighbors ; we are to love them 
as belonging to the same Christian church ; and not only so, 
but here is an additional obligation, arising from that near re- 
lation in which they stand to us. This is over and above the 
other. The nearer the relation, the greater is the obligation 
to love. To live in hatred, or in a way that is contrary to love, 
towards any man, is very displeasing to God ; but how much 
more towards one of the same family ! Love is the uniting 
band of all societies, Col. iii. 14. "And above all these things, 
put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." 

The union in love in our own family should be so much 
the stronger, as that society is more peculiarly our own, and 
is more appropriated to ourselves, or is a society in which we 
are more especially interested. Christ saith, Matth. vii. 22. 
"I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother without a 
cause, shall be in danger of the judgment ; and whosoever 
shall s.iy to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the coun- 
cil; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of 
hell fire." If this be true concerning those whjo are ourbreth- 


ren only as men, or professing Christians, how much more 
concerning those who are of the same family ? If contention 
be so evil a thing in a town among neighbors, ho»v much 
more hateful is it between members of the same family ? If 
hatred, envy, or revenge, be so displeasing to God, towards 
those who are only our fellow creatures, how much more pro- 
voking must it be between those that are our natural brothers 
and sisters, and are one bone and flesh ? If only being angry 
with a neighbor without a cause be so evil, how much sin 
must needs be committed in those broils and quarrels between 
the nearest relations on earth ? 

Let every one inquire how it is with himself. Do you not 
in this respect allow yourselves in some way of sin ? Are you 
not often jarring and contending with those who dwell under 
the same roof ? Is not your spirit often ruffled with anger to- 
wards some of the same family ? Do you not often go so far as 
to wish evil to them in your hearts, to wish that some calami- 
ty would befall them ? Are you not guilty of reproachful lan- 
guage towards them, if not of revengeful acts ? Do you not 
neglect and refuse those offices of kindness and mutual help- 
fulness which become those who are of one family ? Yea, are 
there not some who really go so far, as in some degree to en- 
tertain a settled hatred or malice against some of their near- 
est relations ? 

But here I would particularly apply myself, 
[1.] To husbands and wives. Inquire whether you do 
not live in some way of sin in this relation. Do you m-ke 
conscience of performing all those duties which God in his 
word requires of persons in this relation ? Or do you allow 
yourselves in some ways which are directly opposite thereto ? 
Do you not live in ways that are contrary to the obligations into 
which you entered in your marriage covenant ? The promises 
wh'*ch you then made are not only binding as promises which 
are ordinarily made between man and man, but they have the 
nature of vows or promisory oaths ; they are made in the pres- 
ence of God, because they respect him as a witness to them; 


and therefore the marriage covenant is called the covenant 
of God, Prov. ii. 17, " which forsaketh the guide of hep 
youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God." When you. 
have vowed that you will behave towards those to whom you 
are thus united, as the word of God directs in such a relation, 
are you careless about it, no more thinking what you have 
promised and vowed, regardless how you perform those vows ? 

Particularly, are you not commonly guilty of bitterness of 
spirit towards one another, and of unkindness in your language 
and behavior ? If wrath, and contention, and unkind and re- 
proachful language, be provoking to God, when only between 
neighbors ; what is it then between those whom God hath 
joined together to be one flesh, and between whom he hath 
commanded so great and dear a friendship to be maintained ? 
Eph. v. 28, 29. " So ought men to love their wives, as their 
own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no 
man ever yet hated his own flesh ; but nourisheth and cher- 
isheth it, even as the Lord the church." Eph. v. 25. " Hus- 
bands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, 
and gave himself for it." 

It is no excuse at all for either party to indulge bitterness 
and contention in this relation, that the other party is to 
blame ; for when was there ever one of fallen mankind to be 
found, who had no faults ? When God commanded such an 
entire friendship between man and wife, he knew that the 
greater part of mankind would have faults; yet he made no 
exception. And if you think your yoke fellows have faults, 
you should consider whether you yourselves have not some 
too. There never will be any such thing as persons living in 
peace one with another, in this relation, if this be esteemed a 
sufficient and justifiable cause of the contrary. It becomes 
good friends to cover one another's faults : Love covers a 
multitude of faults. Prov. x. 1 . " Hatred stirreth up strife ; 
but love covereth all sins." But are not you rather quick to 
spy faults, and ready to make the most of them ? Are not very 
little things often the occasion of contention between you ? 
Will not a little thing often ruffle your spirits towards your 

Vol. VIII. O 

*oe self examination; 

companions ? And when any misunderstanding is begun, :nr 
you not guilty of exasperating one another's spirits by unkind 
language, until you blow up a spark into a flame ? 

Do you endeavor to accommodate yourselves to each oth- 
ers tempers ? Do you study to suit each other ? Or do you 
set up your own wills, to have your own ways, in opposition to 
each other, in the management of your family concerns ? Do 
you make it your study to render each other's lives comforta- 
ble ? Or is there not, on the contrary, very often subsisting be- 
tween you, a spirit of ill will, a disposition to vex and cross 
one another ? 

Husbands do sometimes greatly sin against God, in being 
of an unkind, imperious behavior towards their wives, treat- 
ing them as if they were servants ; and (to mention one in- 
stance of such treatment in particular) laying them under 
xinjust and unreasonable restraints in the use and disposal of 
their common property ; forbidding them so much as to dis- 
pose of anything in charity, as of their own judgment and 
prudence. This is directly contrary to the word of God, 
where it is said of the virtuous wife, Prov. xxxi. 20, that " sha 
stretcheth out her hand to the poor ; yea, she reacheth forth 
her hands to the needy." If God hath made this her duty, 
then he hath given her this right and power, because the duty 
supposes the right. It cannot be the duty of her who hath 
no right to dispose of any thing, to stretch forth her hand to 
the poor, and to reach forth her hands to the needy. 

On the other hand, are not the commands of God, the 
rules of his word, and the solemn vows of the marriage cove- 
nant, with respect to the subordination which there ought to 
be in this relation, made light of by many ? F.ph. v. 22. 
" Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto 
the Lord." So Col. iii. 18. What is commanded by God, 
and what hath been solemnly vowed and sworn in his pres- 
ence, certainly ought not to be made a jest of; and the per- 
son who lightly violates these obligations will doubtless be 
treated as one who slights the authority of God, and takes his 
name in vain. 


'{%■'] I shall apply myself to parents and heads of families. 
•Inquire whether you do not live in some way of sin with res- 
pect to your children, or others committed to your care ; and 
particularly inquire, 

1. Whether you do not live in sin, by living- in the neglect 
of instructing them. Do you not wholly neglect the duty oi 
instructing your children and servants ? Or if you do not 
wholly neglect it, yet do you not afford them so little instruc- 
tion, and are you not so unsteady, and do you not take so little 
pains in it, that you live in a sinful neglect ? Do you take pains 
in any measure proportionate to the importance of the mat- 
ter ? You cannot but own that it is a matter of vast import- 
ance, that your children be fitted for death, and saved from 
hell ; and that all possible care be taken that it be done speed- 
ily ; for you know not how soon your children may die. Are 
you as careful about the welfare of their souls as you are of 
their bodies ? Do you labor as much that they may have eter- 
nal life, as you do to provide estates for them to live on in this 
world ? 

Let every parent inquire, whether he do not live in a way 
of sin in this respect ; and let masters inquire, whether they 
do not live in a way of sin, in neglecting the poor souls of 
their servants ; whether their only care be not to make their 
servants subservient to their worldly interest, without any con- 
cern what becomes of them to all eternity. 

2. Do you not live in a sinful neglect of the government of 
your families ? Do you not live in the sin of Eli? Who in- 
deed counselled and reproved his children, but did not exer- 
cise government over them. He reproved them very sol- 
emnly, as 1 Sam. ii. 23, 24, 25 ; but he did not restrain them ; 
by which he greatly provoked God, and brought an everlast- 
ing curse upon his house. 1 Sam. iii. 12. ." In that day I will 
perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concern- 
ing his house. When I begin, I will also make an end. I 
will judge his house forever ; because his sons, made them- 
selves vile, and he restrained them not." 


If you say you cannot restrain your children, this is no ex- 
cuse ; for it is a sign that you have brought up your children 
without government, that your children regard not your au- 
thority. When parents lose their government over their 
children, their reproofs and counsel signify but little. How 
many parents are there who are exceedingly faulty on this ac- 
count ! How few are there who are thorough in maintaining 
order and government in their families ! How is family gov- 
ernment in a great measure vanished ! And how many are as 
likely to bring a curse upon their families, as Eli ! This is 
one principal ground of the corruptions which prevail in the 
land. This is the foundation of so much debauchery, and of 
such corrupt practices among young people. Family gov- 
ernment is in a great measure extinct. By neglect in this 
particular, parents bring the guilt of their children's sins up- 
on their own souls, and the blood of their children will be re- 
quired at their hands. 

Parents sometimes weaken one another's hands in this 
work ; one parent disapproving what the other doth ; one 
smiling upon a child, while the other frowns ; one protecting, 
while the other corrects. When things in a family are thus, 
children are like to be undone. Therefore let every one 
examine whether he do not live in some way of sin with res- 
pect to this matter. 

[3.] I shall now apply myself to children. Let them ex- 
amine themselves, whether they do not live in some way of 
sin towards their parents. Are you not guilty of some undu- 
tifulness towards them, in which you allow yourselves ? Are 
you not guilty of despising your parents for infirmities which 
you see in them ? Undutiful children are ready to contemn 
their parents for their infirmities. Are not you sons of Ham, 
who saw and made a derision of his father's nakedness, where- 
by he entailed a curse on himself and his posterity to this 
day ; and not the sons of Shem and Japheth, who covered the 
nakedness of their father ? Are you not guilty of dishonoring 
;md despising your parents for natural infirmities, or those 
of old age ? Prov. xxiii. 22. " Despise not thy mother when 


she is old." Doth not that curse belong to you, in Deui. 
xxvii. 16. " Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or 
mother ?" 

Are you not wont to despise the counsels and reproofs of 
your parents ? When they warn you against any sin, and re- 
prove you for any misconduct, are you not wont to set light by 
it, and to be impatient under it ? Do you honor your parents 
for it ? On the contrary, do you not receive it with resent- 
ment, proudly rejecting it ? Doth it not stir up corruption, 
and a stubborn and perverse spirit in you, and rather make 
you to have an ill will to your parents, than to love and honor 
them ? Are you not to be reckoned among the fools mention- 
ed, Prov. xv. 5. " A fool despiseth his father's instruction I" 
And doth not that curse belong to you, Prov. xxx. 17. " The 
eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his 
mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the 
young eagles shall eat it V* 

Do you not allow a fretful disposition towards your pa- 
rents, when they cross you in any thing ? Are you not apt 
to find fault with your parents, and to be out of temper with 
them ? 

Consider, that if you live in such ways as these, you not 
only live in sin, but in that sin, than which there is scarcely 
any one oftener threatened with a curse in the word of God. 

III. We come now to the third thing proposed in this 
use of the doctrine, viz. to mention some things, to convince 
those, who, upon examination, find that they do live in some 
way of sin, of the importance of their knowing and amending 
their manner of life. You have had directions laid before 
you, how to find out whether you do live in any way of sin or 
not ; and you have heard many particulars mentioned as 
proper subjects for your examination of yourselves. How 
then do you find things ? Do you find yourselves clear of liv- 
ing in any way of sin ? I mean not whether you find your- 
selves clear of sin ; that is not expected of any of you ; for 
there is not a man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth 


not, 1 Kings viii. 46. But is there not some way of sin ia 
which you live, which is your -slated way, or practice? There 
are doubtless some who are clear in this matter, some " who 
are ujidefiled in the way, and do no iniquity," Psal. cxix. 

Let your own consciences answer how you find with res- 
pect to yourselves, by those things which have been proposed 
to you. Do you not find that you are guilty ? That you live 
in a way of sin, and have allowed yourselves in it ?....If this 
be the case, then consider the following things. 

1. If you have been long seeking salvation, and have not 
yet succeeded, it may be this hath been the cause. You have 
perhaps wondered what hath been the matter, that you have 
been so long a time under concern about your salvation, that 
vou have taken so much pains, and all seems to be to no purpose. 
You have many a time cried earnestly to God, yet he doth not 
regard you. Others obtain comfort, but you are left in dark- 
ness. But it is no wonder at all, if you have lived in some 
way of sin all this while. If you have lived in any sinful way, 
this is a sufficient reason why all your prayers and all your 
pains have been blasted. 

If all this while you have lived in some sinful way, so far 
vou have failed of seeking salvation in the right way. The 
right way of seeking salvation is, to seek it in the diligent 
performance of all duties, and in the denial of all ungodliness. 
If there be any one member that is corrupt, and you cut it 
not off, there is danger that it will carry you to hell, Matth. 
v. 29, 30. 

2. If grace have not been in flourishing, but, on the con- 
trary, in languishing circumstances in your souls, perhaps 
This is the cause. The way to grow in grace is to walk in the 
way of obedience to all the commands of God, to be very thor- 
ough in the practice of religion. Grace will flourish in the 
hearts of those who live in this manner ; but if you live in 
some way of sin, that will be like some secret disease at your 
vitals, which will keep you poor, weak, and languishing. 


One way of sin lived in will wonderfully keep you down m 
your spiritual prosperity, and in the growth and strength of 
grace in your hearts. It will grieve the Holy Spirit of God. 
and will in a great measure banish him from you : This will 
prevent the good influence of the word and ordinances of God 
to the causing of grace to flourish in you. It will be a great 
obstacle to their good effect. It will be like an ulcer within 
a man, which, while it remains, will keep him weak and lean, 
though you feed him with ever so wholesome food, or feast 
him ever so daintily. 

3. If you have been left, to fall into great sin, perhaps this 
was the occasion of it. If you have been left greatly to wound 
your own souls, perhaps this was what made way for it, that 
you allowed yourselves in some way of sin. A man who doth, 
not avoid every sin, and is not universally obedient, cannot be 
well guarded against great sins. The sin in which he lives 
will be always an inlet, an open door, by which Satan from 
time to time will find entrance. It is like a breach in your- 
fortress, through which the enemy may get in, and find his 
way to you, greatly to hurt and wound you. 

If there be any way of sin which is retained as an outlet 
to corruption, it will be like a breach in a dam, which, if it be 
let alone, and be not stopped, will grow bigger and wider, and 
will endanger the whole. If any way of sin be lived in, it will 
be like Gideon's ephod, which was a snare to him and his 

4. If you live very much in spiritual darkness, and without 
the comfortable presence of God, it may be this is the cause. 
If you complain that you have but little sweet communion 
with God, that you seem to be left and deserted of God, that 
God seems to hide his face from you, and but seldom gives 
you the sweet views of his glory and grace, that you seem to 
be left very much to grope in darkness, and to wander in a 
wilderness ; perhaps you have wondered what is the matter ; 
you have cried to God often, that you might have the light of 
bis countenance, but he heareth you not ; and you have sor- 
"owful days and nights upon this account. But if you have 


found, by what hath been said, that you live in some way of 
sin, it is very probable that is the cause, that is the root of 
your mischief, that is the Jchcm, the troubler that offends God, 
and causes him to withdraw, and brings so many clouds of 
darkness upon your souls. You grieve the Holy Spirit by the 
way in which you live ; and that is the reason that you have 
no more comfort from him 

Christ hath promised, that he will manifest himself to his 
disciples ; but it is upon the condition, that they keep his 
commands. John xiv. 21. " He that hath my commandments, 
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; and he that loveth 
me, shall be loved of my father ; and I will love him, and will 
manifest myself to him." But if you habitually live in diso- 
bedience to any of the commandments of Christ, then it is no 
wonder that he doth not give you the comfortable manifesta- 
tions of himself. The way to receive the special favors of 
God, and to enjoy comfortable communion with him, is to 
walk closely with him. 

5. If you have been long doubting about your condition, 
perhaps this is the cause. If persons be converted, the most 
likely way to have the evidences of it clear, and to have the 
Spirit of God witnessing with our spirits, that we are the 
children of God, is to walk closely with God. This, as we 
have observed already, is the way to have grace in a flourish- 
ing state in the soul ; it is the way to have the habits of grace 
strengthened, and the exercises of it lively. And the more 
lively the exercises of grace are, the more likely will they 
be to be seen. Besides, this is the way to have God mani- 
festing himself to us, as our father and our friend, to have 
the manifestations and inward testimonies of his love and 

But if you live in some way of sin, it is no wonder if that 
greatly darkens your evidences, as it keeps down the exercises 
of grace, and hides the light of God's countenance. And it 
may be that you never will come to a comfortable resolution 
of that point, whether you be converted or not, until you shall 
have wholly forsaken the way of sin in which you live. 


6. If you have met with frovnsof Providence, perhaps 
this hath been the cause. When you have met -with very 
sore rebukes and chastisements, that way of sin hath probably 
been your troubler. Sometimes Ciod is exceedingly awful in 
his dealings with his own people in this world, for their sins. 
Moses and Aaron were not suffered to enter into Canaan, be- 
cause they believed not God, and spake unadvisedly with their 
lips, at the waters of Meribah. And how terrible was God in 
his dealings with David ! What affliction in his family did he 
send upon him ! One of his sons ravishing his sister ; anoth- 
er murdering his brother, and, having expelled his father out 
of his kingdom, openly in the sight of all Israel, and in the sight 
of the sun, defiling his father's concubines on the top of the 
house, and at last coming to a miserable end ! Immediately 
after this followed the rebellion of Sheba; and he had this un- 
comfortable circumstance attending the end of his life, that he 
saw another of his sons usurping the crown. 

How awfully did God deal with Eli, for living in the sin of 
not i*estraining his children from wickedness ! He killed his 
two sons in one day; brought a violent death upon Eli himself; 
took the ark from him, and sent it into captivity ; cursed his 
house forever; and sware that the iniquity of his house should 
not be purged with sacrifice and offering for ever ; that the 
priesthood should be taken from him, and given to another 
family; and that there should never be an old man in his 

Is not some way of sin in which you live the occasion of 
the frowns and rebukes of Providence which you have met 
with ? True, it is not the proper businessof your neighbors to 
judge you with respect to events of Providence ; but you 
yourselves ought to inquire, wherefore God is contending with 
you, Job. ix. 10. 

7. If death be terrible to you, perhaps this is the founda- 
tion of it. When you think of dying, you find you shrink back 
at the thought. When you have any illness, or when there is 
any thing which seems any way to threaten life, you find you 
are affrighted by it ; the thoughts of dying, and going into 
Vol. VIII. P 


eternity, are awful to you ; and that although you entertain a 1 
hope that you are converted. If you live in some way of sin, 
probably this is very much the foundation of it. This keeps 
your minds sensual and worldly, and hinders a lively sense of 
heaven and heavenly enjoyments. This keeps grace low, and 
prevents that relish of heavenly enjoyments which otherwise 
you would have. This prevents your having the comfortable 
sense of the divine favor and presence ; and without that no 
wonder you cannot look death in the face without terror. 

The way to have the prospect of death comfortable, and to 
have undisturbed peace and quiet when we encounter death, 
is, to walk closely with God, and to be undefiled in the way of 
obedience to the commands of God ; and that it is otherwise 
sometimes with truly godly persons, is doubtless frequently 
owing to their living in ways displeasing to God. 

8. If you find by these things which have been proposed 
to you, that you have lived in a way of sin, consider that if you 
henceforward live in the same way, you will live in known sin. 
Whether in time past it have been known sin or not, though 
you may have hitherto lived in it through ignorance or inad- 
vertence ; yet if now you be sensible of it, henceforward, 
if you continue in it still, it will net be a sin of ignorance, but 
you will be proved to be of that class of men who live in ways. 
of known sin. 


The vain Self Flatteries of the Shiner. 

PSALM xxxvi. 2. 


IN the foregoing verse, David says, that the transgress- 
ion of the wicked said within his heart, " that there is no fear 
of God before his eyes ;" that is, when he saw that the wick- 
ed went on in sin, in an allowed way of wickedness, it convinc- 
ed him, that he was not afraid of those terrible judgments, 
and of that wrath with which God hath threatened sinners. If 
he were afraid of these he could never go on so securely in 
sin, as he doth. 

In our text he gives the reason why the wicked did not 
fear. It was a strange thing that men, who enjoyed such light 
as they did in the land of Israel, who read and heard those 
many awful threatenings which were written in the book of 
the law, should not be afraid to go on in sin. But saith the 
Psalmist, They flatter themselves in their own eyes: They 
have something or other which they make a foundation of 
encouragement, whereby they persuade themselves that they 
ahail escape those judgments ; and that makes them put far 
away the evil day. 


In this manner he proceeds, until his iniquity be found t» 
be hateful ; that is, until he finds by experience that it is a 
more dreadful thing to sin against God, and break his holy 
commands, than he imagined. He thinks sin to be sweet, 
and hides it as a sweet morsel under his tongue : He loves it, 
and flatters himself in it, till at length he finds, by experience, 
that it is bitter as gall and wormwood. Though he thinks the 
commission of sin to be lovely, yet he will find the fruit of it to 
be hateful, and what he cannot endure. Prov. xxiii. 32. " At 
last it will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder." 

Here observe, 

1. The subject spoken of is the wicked man, of whom 
the Psalmist had been speaking in the foregoing verse. 

2. His action in flattering himself in his own eyes ; i. e, 
he makes himself and his case to appear to himself, or in his 
own eyes, better than it is. 

3. How long he continues so to do, until his iniquity be 
found to be hateful. Which may be taken for his sin itself, as 
the wicked will see how odious sin is to God, when he shall 
feel the effects of his hatred, and how hateful to angels and 
saints ; or rather the cause is here put for the effect, the tree 
for its fruit, and he will find his iniquity to be hateful, as he 
will find the hatefulness and feel the terribleness of the fruit 
of his iniquity. 


Wicked men generally flatter themselves with hopes of 
escaping punishment, till it actually comes upon them. 

There are but few sinners who despair, who give up the 
cause and conclude with themselves, that they shall go to 
hell ; yet there are but few who do not go to hell. It is to be 


feared that men go to hell every day out of this country ; yet 
very few of them suffer themselves to believe, that they are in 
any great danger of that punishment. They go on sinning 
and travelling in the direct road to the pit ; yet by one mean 
or other they persuade themselves that they shall never fall 
into it. 

In my present discourse, I shall, 
- 1. Mention some things in confirmation of the doctrine, 
that sinners flatter themselves with the hope of impunity. 

2. Mention some of the various ways wherein sinners flat- 
ter themselves in that hope. 

3. Show that sinners generally go on flattering themselves, 
till punishment actually overtakes them. 

I. I am to mention some things in confirmation of the doc- 
trine, that sinners flatter themselves with the hope of future 

1 . We are so taught in the word of God. Beside our text, 
you may see, Deut. xxix. 18, 19. "Lest there should be 
among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart 
Lurneth away this day from the Lord our God. Lest there 
should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, 
and it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, 
that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, 
though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunk- 
enness to thirst." Where it is supposed that they whose 
hearts turn away from God, and are roots that bear gall and 
wormwood, generally bless themselves in their hearts, saying, 


See also Psalm xlix. 17, 18. "When he dieth, he shall 
carry nothing away : His glory shall not descend after him, 
though while he lived, he blessed his soul." And Psalm 
1.21. "These things thou hast done, and I kept silence : 
Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thy- 
self: But I Avill reprove thee, and set them in order before 


2. It is very evident, that sinners flatter themselves that 
they shall escape punishment, by this, that otherwise they 
would be in dreadful and continual distress. Otherwise, as 
long as they are in sin, they could never live a?.d go about so 
chearfully as they now do : Their lives would be filled with 
sorrow and mourning, and they would be in continual uneasi- 
ness and distress ; as much as those that are exercised with 
some violent pain of body. But it is evident that it is not in 
fact so ; it is apparent that men are careless and secure ; that 
they are not much concerned about future punishment, and 
that they cheerfully pursue their business and recreations. 
Therefore they undoubtedly flatter themselves, that they shall 
not be eternally miserable in hell, as they are threatened in the 
word of God. 

5. It is evident that they flatter themselves with hopes that 
Ihey shall .escape punishment, as otherwise they would cer- 
tainly be restrained, at least from many of those sins in which 
they now live : They would not proceed in wilful courses of 
sin. The transgression of the wicked convinced the Psalmist, 
and is enough to convince every one, that there is no fear of 
God before his eyes, and that he flatters himself in his own 
eyes. It would be impossible for men allowedly from day to 
day to do those very things, which they know are threatened 
with everlasting destruction, if they did not some way encour- 
age themselves, they should nevertheless escape that de- 

JI. I shall mention some of the various ways wherein sin- 
ners flatter themselves in their own eyes. 

1 . Some flatter themselves with a secret hope, that there is no 
such thing as another world. They hear a great deal of preach- 
ing, and a great deal of talk about hell, and about the eternal 
judgment ; but those things do not seem to them to be real. 
They never saw any thing of them ; they never saw hell, nev- 
er saw the devils and damned spirits ; and therefore are ready 
to say with themselves, How do I know that there is any such 
thing as another world ? When the beasts die, there is an end 


of them, and how do I know but that it will be so with me ?• 
Perhaps all these things are nothing but the inventions of men, 
nothing but cunningly devised fables. 

Such thoughts are apt to rise in the minds of sinners, and' 
the devil sets in to enforce them. Such thoughts are an ease 
to them ; therefore they wish they were true, and that makes 
them the more ready to think that they are indeed true. So 
that they are hardened in the way of sin, by infidelity and athe- 
istical thoughts. Psalm xiv. 1 . " The fool hath said in his 
heart, There is no God." Psalm xciv. 6, 7. " They slay the 
widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they 
say, the Lord shall not see ; neither shall the God of Jacob re- 
gard it." 

2. Some flatter themselves that death is a great way off, 
and that they shall hereafter have much opportunity to seek 
salvation ; and they think if they earnestly seek it, though it be 
a great while hence, they shall obtain. Although they see no 
reason to conclude that they shall live long, and perhaps they 
do not positively conclude that they shall ; yet it doth not 
come into their minds that their lives are really uncertain, and 
that it is doubtful whether they will live another year. Such 
a thought as this doth not take any hold of them. And al- 
though they do not absolutely determine that they shall live to 
old age or to middle age, yet they secretly flatter themselves 
with such an imagination. They are disposed to believe so, 
and do so far believe it, that they act upon it, and run the ven- 
ture of it. 

Men will believe that things will be as they choose to have 
them, without reason, and sometimes without the appearance 
of reason, as is most apparent in this case Psalm xlix. 1 1. 
" Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for 
ever, and their dwelling places to all generations ; they call 
their lands after their own names." 

The prepossession and desire of men to have it so, is the 
principal thing that makes them believe so. However, there 
are several other things which they use as arguments to flat- 
ter themselves. Perhaps they think with themselves, that 


since they are at present in health, or in youth, or that since 
they are useful men, do a great deal of good, and both them- 
selves and others pray for the continuance of their lives ; they 
are not likely to be removed by death very soon. 

If they shall live many years in the world, they think that it 
is very probable they shall be converted before they die ; as they 
expect hereafter to have much more convenient opportunities 
to become converted, than they have now. And by some 
means or other, they think they shall get through their work 
before they arrive at old age. 

3. Some flatter themselves that they lead moral and order- 
ly lives, and therefore think that they shall not be damned. 
They think with themselves that they live not in any vice, that 
they take care to wrong no man, are just and honest dealers ; 
that they are not addicted to hard drinking, or to uncleanness, 
or to bad language ; that they keep the Sabbath strictly, are 
constant attendants on the public worship, and maintain the 
worship of God in their families. Therefore they hope that 
God will not cast them into hell. They see not why God 
should be so angry with them as that would imply, seeing 
they are so orderly and regular in their walk ; they see not 
that they have done enough to anger him to that degree. And 
if they have angered him, they imagine they have also done a 
great deal to pacify him. 

If they be not :\s yet converted, and it be necessary that they 
should experience any other conversion in oi'der to their salva- 
tion, they hope that their orderly and strict lives will move 
God to give them converting grace. They hope that surely 
God will not see those that live as they do go to hell. Thus 
they flatter themselves, as those we read of. Luke xviii. 9. 
" That trusted in themselves that they were righteous." 

4. Some make the advantages under which they live an oc- 
casion of sell flattery. They flatter themselves, because 
they live in a place where the gospel is powerfully preached, 
and among a religious people, where many have been con- 
verted ; and they think it will be much easier for them to be 
saved on that account. Thus they abuse the grace of God to 


their destruction ; they do that which the scriptures call de- 
af ihing the riches of God's goodness : Rom.ii.4. « Ordespisest 
thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suf- 
fering ; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to 
repentance I" 

Some flatter themselves, because they are born of godly 
parents, who are -dear to God, who have often and earnestly 
prayed for them, they hope that their prayers will be heard ; 
and that encourages them to go on in the way of neglecting 
their souls. The Jews had great dependence upon this, that 
they were the children of Abraham : John viii. 33. they make 
their boast. " VVe be Abraham's seed ; and in verse 39. " A- 
braham is our father." 

5. Some flatter themselves with their own intentions. 
They intend to neglect themselves, and give themselves lib- 
erty for a while longer, and then to reform. Though now 
they neglect their souls, and are going on in sin ; yet they in- 
tend ere long to bestir hemselves, to leave off their sins, and 
to set themselves to seek God. They hear that there is great 
encouragement for those who earnestly beek God, that they 
shall find him. So they intend to do ; they propose to seek 
with a great deal of earnestness. They are told, that there 
are many who seek to enter the kingdom of heaven, who shall 
not be able ; but they intend, not only to seek, but to strive. 
However, for the present they allow themselves in their ease, 
sloth, and pleasure, minding only earthly things. 

Or if they should be seized with some mortal distemper, 
and should draw near to the grave, before the time which they 
lay out in their minds for reformation, they think how earnest- 
ly they would pray and cry to God for mercy ; and as they 
hear God is a merciful God, who taketh no delight in ue 
death of sinners, they hence flatter themselves that they shall 
move God to have pity on them. 

There are but few who are sinners, and know themselves 

to be such, who do not encourage themselves with intentions 

of future repentance and reformation ; but few who do not 

Clatter themselves, that they shall in good earnest set them- 

Vol. VIII. Q 


selves to seek God some time or other. Hell is full of good 1 
intendkrs, who never proved to be true performers r 
Acts xxiv. 25. " Go thy way fur this time ; when I have a con- 
venient season, I will call for thee." 

6. There are some who flatter themselves, that they do, 
and have done, a great deal for their salvation, and therefore 
hope they shall obtain, when indeed they neither do what they 
ought to do, nor what they might do in their present state of 
unregeneracy ; nor are they in any likely way to be converted. 
They think they are striving, when they neglect many moral 
and some instituted duties ; nor do they exert themselves as 
if it were for their lives ; they are not violent for the kingdom 
of heaven. 

There are doubtless many such ; many are concerned, and 
are seeking, and do many tilings, and think that they are in a 
very fair way to obtain the kingdom of God ; yet there is 
great danger that they will prove at last to be some of the fool- 
ish virgins, and be found without oil in their vessels. 

7. Some hope by their strivings to obtain salvation of 
themselves. They have a secret imagination, that they shall, 
by degrees, work in themselves sorrow and repentance of sin, 
and love towards God and Jesus Christ. Their striving is not 
so much an earnest seeking to God, as a striving to do them- 
selves that which is the work of God. Many who are now 
seeking have this imagination, and labor, read, pray, hear ser- 
mons, and go to private meetings, with the view of making 
themselves holy, and of working in themselves holy affections. 

Many, who only project and design to turn to God hereaf- 
ter/are apt to think that it is an easy thing to be converted, that 
it is a thing which will be in their own power at any lime, when 
they shall earnestly set themselves to it. 

8. Some sinners flatter themselves, that they are already 
converted. They sit down and rest in a false hope, persuad- 
ing themselves that all their sins are pardoned ; that God loves 
them ; that they shall go to heaven when they die ; and that 
they need trouble themselves no more: Rev. iii. 17. "Be- 
cause thou say est, 1 am rich, and increased with goods, ar-jd 


■have need of nothing ; and knowest not that thou art wretch- 
ed, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." 

III. Sinners very generally go on flattering themselves in 
some or other of these ways, till their punishment actually 
overtakes them. These are the baits by which Satan catches 
souls, and draws them into his snare. They are such self flat- 
teries as these that keep men from seeing what danger they 
are in, and that make them go securely on in the way they a're 
in, " as the bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it 
is for his life." 

Those that flatter themselves with hopes of living a great 
while longer in the world, very commonly continue so to do 
till deutn comes. Death comes upon them when they expect 
it not ; they look upon it as a great way off, when there is but 
a step between them and death. They thought not of dying 
at that time, nor at anytime near it. When they were young, 
they proposed to live a good while longer ; and if they hap- 
pen to live till middle age, they still maintain the same thought, 
that they are not yet near death ; and so that thought goes a- 
long with them as long as they live, or till they are just about 
to die. 

Men often have a dependence on their own righteousness, 
and as long as they live are never brought off" from it. Multi- 
tudes uphold themselves with their own intentions, till all 
their prospects are dashed in pieces by death. They put off 
the work which they have to do till such a time ; and when 
that comes, they put it off to another time, until death, which 
cannot be put off, overtakes them. There are many also that 
hold a false hope, a persuasion that they belong to God ; and 
as long as they live, by all the marks and signs which are given 
of a true convert, they never will be persuaded 10 let go their 
hope, till it is rent from them by death. 

Thus men commonly uphold themselves, and make them- 
selves easy, till hell fire makes them uneasy. Everlasting ru- 
in comes upon them as a snare, and all their hopes are at once 
cutoff, and turned into everlasting despair : 1. Thess. v. 3. 


" When they ahaU say. Peace and safety; then sudden destruc- 
tion cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child ; 
and they shall not escape." 


1 . Hence we learn one reason why there are but few saved, 
and why so many perish from under die gospel. All men 
know that they must die, and all that sit under the light of the 
gospel have been told many a time, that after this there is an- 
other world ; that there are but two states in that other world, 
a state of eternal happiness, and a state of eternal misery; that 
there is but oneway of escaping the misery and obtaining 
the blessedness of eternity, which is by obtaining an in- 
terest in Christ, through faith in him ; and that this life is the 
only opportunity of obtaining an interest in Christ. Yet men 
are so much given to flatter themselves in those ways which 
we have mentioned, that there are but lew that seasonably take 
care of their salvation. Indeed they cannot but be m some 
measure concerned about their souls ; yet they flatter them- 
selves with one thing or other, so that they are kept steadily 
and uninterruptedly going on in the broad way to destruction. 

2. Hence we learn the reason why awakening truths of 
scripture, and awakening sermons, make no more impression 
upon men. It is in itself a wonderful and surprising thing, 
that God's denunciations of eternal misery, andthreatenings of 
casting sinners into the lake that burneth with fire and brim- 
stone for ever and ever, do not affect them, do not startle them. 
But the truth is, they flatter themselves, by such means as we 
have mentioned, that this dreadful misery is not for them ; 
that they shall escape it, though multitudes of others are in- 
volved in it. They take not these threateningsto themselves; 
they seem to think that they do not belong to them. 

How many are there in this congregation, who, for all the 
awakening sermons they have heard, are yet secure in sin 1 
And who, although they are sensible that they are in a Christ- 


Jess condition, and are still going on in sin, yet intend to go to 
heaven, and expect that by some means or other they shall 
arrive there. They are often told, that God is very angry 
with them ; yet they think God is a very merciful God, and 
they shall be able to pacify him. If they be told how uncer- 
tain life is, that doth not awaken them, because they flatter 
themselves with long life. If they be told how dangerous it 
is to delay the business of religion, they promise themselves, 
that they will hereafter engage in it with more earnestness 
than others, and so obtain the end, the salvation of their souls. 
Others, when they are told that many shall seek who shall not 
be able to obtain, think surely, that they, having done so much, 
for salvation, shall not be denied. 

3. Let every sinner examine himself, whether he do not 
flatter himself in some of those ways which have been men- 
tioned. What is it in your own minds which makes you think 
it is safe for you to delay turning to God ? What is it that en- 
courages you to run such a venture as you do by delaying this 
necessary work ? Is it that you hope there is no such state as 
heaven or hell, and have a suspicion that there is no God ? Is 
it this that makes you secure ? Or is it that you are not much 
afraid but that you shall have opportunity enough a great 
while hence to mind such things? Is it an intention of a future 
seeking a more convenient season ? And are you persuaded 
that God will hearken to you then, after you shall have so long; 
turned a deaf ear to his commands and gracious invitations i 
Are you encouraged to commit sin, because you hope to re- 
pent of it ? Are you encouraged by the mercy of God to be his 
enemies ? And do you resolve still to provoke him to anger, 
because you think he is easily pacified ? 

Or do you think that your conversion is in your own pow- 
er, and that you can turn to God when you please ? Is ii be- 
cause you have been born of godly parents that you are so se- 
cure ? Or do you imagine that you are in a fair way to be con- 
verted ? Do you think that what you have done in religicn will 
engage God to pity you, and that he never can have the heart 
to condemn one who has lived in so orderly a manner ? Or do. 


you think that you are indeed converted already ? And doth 
lhat encourage you to take a li ierty in sinning ? Or are you 
secure, because you are so stupid as to think nothing about 
these things? Do you let these concerns wholly alone, and 
scarcely ever think at all how it will be with you after you arc 

Certainly it must be one or more of these things which 
keeps you in your security, and encourages you to go on in. 
sin. Examine, therefore, and see which of them it is. 

4. By the text and doctrine be persuaded to leave off thus 
flattering yourselves in your own eyes. You are therein in- 
formed, that those who do as you do commonly continue so 
doing till their punishment actually comes upon them. There- 
by you may be convinced of the vanity of all such flatteries. 
Be afraid of that which you are sure is the devil's bait : 
" Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird," 
Prov. i. IT". 

You are not only told in the scriptures, that sinners are 
generally thus allured to hell, but your own reason may con- 
vince you that it is so. For doubtless other sinners have as 
much ground to hope to escape punishment as you ; and it is 
evident, that they generally do hope to escape. Men under 
the gospel almost universally think they shall not go to hell : 
If it were otherwise, they could have no peace or comfort in 
the world. Yet what multitudes have we reason to conclude 
go down from under the preaching of the gospel to the pit of 
destruction ! Now, this is surely enough to convince any so- 
ber, prudent person of the folly of such flattery, and of the folly 
of every one that doth not immediately set about his great 
work with his might. If you could have access to the dam- 
ned, you would hear many of them curse themselves, for 
thus flattering themselves while they lived in this world ; and 
you would have the same doctrine preached to you by their 
wailh.gs and ycllings which is now preached to you from the 

If your temptation to security be unbelief of the fundamen- 
tal doctrines of religion, such as tho being of God, of another 


World, and an eternal judgment, you may consider, that though 
that makes you secure at present, yet it will not do always, it 
will not stand by when you come to die. The fool often hi 
health saith, There is no God ; but when he comes to die, he 
cannot rest in any such supposition. Then he is generally 
so much convinced in his own conscience, that there is a God, 
that he is in dreadful amazement for fear of his eternal wrath. 
It is folly, therefore, to flatter yourselves with any supposi- 
tion now which you will not then be able to hold. 

If you depend on long life, consider how many who have 
depended on the same thing, and had as much reason to de- 
pend on it as you, have died within your remembrance. 

Is it because you are outwardly of an orderly life and con- 
versation, that you think you shall be saved ? How unreason- 
able is it to suppose, that God should be so obliged by those 
actions, which he knows are not done from the least respect 
or regard to him, but wholly with a private view ! Is it be- 
cause you are under great advantages that yuu are not much 
afraid but that you shall some time or other be converted, and 
therefore neglect yourselves and your spiritual interests ? 
And were not the people of Bethsaida, Chorazin and Caper- 
naum, under as great advantages as you, when Christ himself 
preached the gospel to them, almost continually, and wrought 
such a multitude of miracles among them ? Yet he says, that 
it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom 
and Gomorrah, than for those cities. 

Do you expect you shall be saved, however you neglect 
yourselves, because you were born of godly parents ? Hear 
what Christ saith, Matth. iii. 9. " Think not to say within 
yourselves, we have Abraham to our father." Do you flatter 
yourselves that you shall obtain mercy, though others do not, 
because you intend hereafter to seek it more earnestly than 
others ? Yet you deceive yourselves, if you think that you in- 
tend better than many of those others, or better than many 
who are now in hell once intended. 

If you think you are in a way of earnest seeking, consider, 
whether or no you do not mind other things yet more ? If you 


imagine that you have it in your own power to work yourselves 
up to repentance, consider, that you must assuredly give up 
that imagination before you can have repentance wrought in 
you. If you think yourselves already converted, and that en- 
courages you to give yourselves the greater liberty in sinning, 
this is a certain sign that you are not converted. 

Wherefore abandon all these ways of flattering yourselves ; 
no longer follow the devil's bait ; and let nothing encourage 
you to go on in sin ; but immediately and henceforth seek 
God with all your heart, and soul, and strength, 


Wicked Men useful in their Destruction only. 

EZEKIEL xv. 2, 3, 4. 


L HE visible church of God is here compared to 
the vine tree, as is evident by God's own explanation of the 
allegory, in ver. 6, 7, and 8. " Therefore thus saith the Lord 
.God, As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I 
have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem," &c. And it may be understood of mankind in 
general. We find man often in scripture compared to a vine. 
So in chapter 32, of Deuteronomy, " Their vine is the vine 
of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are 

* Dated July, 1734. 

Vol. VIII. R 


grapes of gall." And Psal. lxxx. 8. " Thou hast brought f- 
vine out of Egypt ;" ver. 14. " Look down from heaven, be- 
hold, and visit this vine." And Cant. ii. 15. " The foxes that 
spoil the vines ; for our vines have tender grapes." Isui. v. 
at the beginning, " My beloved hath a vineyard, and he plant- 
ed it with the choicest vine." Jer. ii. 21. "I had planted 
thee a noble vine." Hos. x. I. "Israel is an empty vine." 
So in chap. 15, of John, visible Christians are compared to the 
branches of a vine. 

Man is very fitly represented by the vine. The weakness- 
and dependence of the vine on other things which support it, 
well represents to us what a poor, feeble, dependent creature 
man is, and how, if left to himself, he must fall into mischief, 
and cannot help himself. The visible people of God are fitly 
compared to a vine, because of the care and cultivation of the 
husbandman, or vinedresser. The business of husbandmen 
in the land of Israel was very much in their vineyards, about 
vines ; and the care they exercised to fence them, to defend 
them, to prune them, to prop them up, and to cultivate them, 
well represented that merciful care which God exercises to- 
wards his visible people ; and this latter is often in scripture 
expressly compared to the former. 

In the words now read is represented, 
1. How wholly useless and unprofitable, even beyond oth- 
er trees, a vine is, in case of unfruitfulness : " What is a vine 
tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the 
trees of the forest :" i. e. if it do not bear fruit. Men make 
much more of a vine than of other trees ; they take great 
care of it, to wall it in, to dig about it, to prune it, and the like. 
It is much more highly esteemed than any one of the trees of 
the forest ; they are despised in comparison with it. And if 
it bear fruit, it is indeed much preferable to other trees ; for 
the fruit of it yields a noble liquor ; as it is said in Jotham's 
parable, Judg. ix. 13. " And the vine said unto them, Should 
I leave my wine, which chcereth God and man I" 


But if it bear no fruit, it is more unprofitable than the 
! trees of the forest ; for the wood of them is good for timber ; 
but the wood of the vine is fit for no work ; as in the text, 
" Shall wood be taken thereof to do any v.ork ? Or will men 
take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon ?" 

2. The only thing for which a vine is useful, in case of 
barrenness, viz. for fuel : " Behold, it is cast into the fire for 
fuel." It is wholly consumed ; no part of it is worth a sav- 
ing, to make any instrument of it, for any work. 


If men bring forth no fruit to God, they are wholly use- 
less, unless in their destruction. 

For the proof of this doctrine, I shall show, 

1. That it is very evident, that there can be but two ways 
in which man can be useful, viz. either in acting, or in being 
acted upon, and cli&fiosed of. 

2. That man can no otherwise be useful actively than by- 
bringing forth fruit to God. 

3. That if he bring not forth fruit to God, there is no oth- 
er way in which he can be passively useful, but in being de- 

4. In that way he may be useful without bearing fruit. 

I. There are but two ways in which man can be useful, 
viz. either in acting or being acted upon. If man be an useful 
sort of creature, he must be so either actively or passively : 
There is no medium. If he be useful to any purpose, he must 
be so either in acting himself, or else in being disposed of by 
some other ; either in doing something himself to that pur- 
pose, or else in having something done upon him by some 
other to that purpose. What can be more plain, than that if 


man do nothing himself, and nothing be done with him or' up- 
on him by any other, he cannot be any way at all useful ? 

If man do nothing himself to promote the end of his ex- 
istence, and no other being do any thing with him to promote 
this end, then nothing will be done to promote this end ; and 
so man must be wholly useless. So that there are but two 
ways in which man can be useful to any purpose, viz. either 
actively or passively, either in doing something himself, or in 
being the subject of something done to him. 

II. Man cannot be useful actively, any otherwise than in 
bringing forth fruit to God, than in serving God, and living to 
his glory. This is the only way wherein he can be useful in 
doing ; and that for this reason, that the glory of God is the 
very thing for which man was made, and to which all other 
ends are subordinate. Man is not an independent being, but 
he derives his being from another ; and therefore hath his 
end assigned him by that other : And he that gave him his 
being, made him for the end now mentioned. This was the 
very design and aim of the Author of man, this was the work 
for which he made him, viz. to serve and glorify his Maker. 

Other creatures are made for inferior purposes. Inferior 
creatures were made for inferior purposes. But it is to be 
observed, that man is the creature that is highest, and nearest 
to God, of any in this lower world ; and therefore his business 
is with God, although other creatures are made for lower 
ends. There may be observed a kind of gradation, or grad- 
ual ascent, in the order of the different kinds of creatures, 
from the meanest clod of earth to man, who hath a rational 
and immortal soul. A plant, an herb, or tree, is superior in 
nature to a stone or clod, because it hath a vegetable life. The 
brute creatures are a degree higher still ; for they have sen- 
sitive life. But man, having a rational soul, is the highest of 
this lower creation, and is next to God ; therefore his busi- 
ness is with Cod. 

Things without life, as earth, water, Sec. are subservient to 
things above them, as the grass, herbs, and trees. These 


vegetables are subservient to that order of creatures which is 
liext above them, the brute creation ; they are for food to 
them. Brute creatures, again, are made for the use and ser- 
vice of the order above them ; they are made for the service 
of mankind. But man being the highest of this lower crea- 
tion, the next step from him is to God. He therefore is made 
for the service and glory of God. This is the whole work 
and business of man ; it is his highest end, to which all other 
ends are subordinate. 

If it had not been for this end, there never would have 
been any such sort of creature as man ; there would have been 
no occasion for it. Other inferior ends may be answered as 
well, without any such creature as man. There would have 
been no sort of occasion for making so noble a creature, and 
endowing him with such faculties, only to enjoy earthly good, 
to eat, and to drink, and to enjoy sensual things. Brute crea- 
tures, without reason, are capable of these things, as well as 
man : Yea, if no higher end be aimed at than to enjoy sensi- 
tive good, reason is rather an hinderance than an help. It 
doth but render man the more capable of afflicting himself 
with care, and fears of death, and other future evils, and of 
vexing himself with many anxieties, from which brute crea- 
tures are wholly free, and therefore can gratify their senses 
with less molestation. Besides, reason doth but make men 
more capable of molesting and impeding one another in 
the gratification of their senses. If man have no other end 
to seek but to gratify his senses, reason is nothing but an im- 

Therefore if man be not made to serve and glorify his 
Creator, it is wholly to no purpose that such a creature is 
made. Doubtless then the all wise God, who doth all things 
in infinite wisdom, hath made man for this end. And this is 
agreeable to what he hath taught us in many places in the 
scriptures. This is the great end for which man was made, 
and for which he was made such a creature as he is, having a 
body and soul, bodily senses and rational powers. For this is 
he placed in such circumstances as he is, and the earth is giv- 


en him for a possession. For this he hath dominion given 
him over the rest of the creatures of this Avorld. For this the 
sunshines on him, and the moon and stars are for signs and 
seasons to him, and the rain fails on him, and the earth yields 
him her increase. 

All other ends of man are subordinate to this. There are 
inferior ends for which man was made. Men were made for 
one another ; made for their friends and neighbors, and for 
the good of the public. But all these inferior ends are de- 
signed to be subordinate to the higher end of glorifying God ; 
and therefore man cannot be actively useful, or actively an- 
swer any purpose, otherwise than by actively glorifying God, 
or bringing forth fruit to God. Because, 

1. That is not actively useful which doth not actively an- 

> end : That which doth not answer its end is in vain ; 
for that is the meaning of the proposition, that any thing is in 
vain. So that which doth not actively answer its end, is, as 
to its own activity, in vain. 

2. That is as to its own activity altogether useless which 
actively answers only subordinate ends, without answering the 
Ultimate end ; and that because the ultimate end is the end of 
subordinate ends. The notion of a supreme end is, that it is 
the end of all inferior ends. Subordinate ends are to no pur- 
pose, only as they stand related to the highest end. The 
very notion of a subordinate end is, that it is in order to a fur- 
ther end. Therefore these inferior ends are good for noth- 
ing though they be obtained, unless they also obtain their end. 
Inferior ends are not aimed at for their own sake, but only for 
the sake of the ultimate end. Therefore he that fails of his 
great end of all, doth as much altogether fail of his end, and is 
as much to no purpose, as if he did not obtain his subordi- 
nate end. 

I will illustrate this by two or three examples. The sub- 
ordinate end of the underpinning of an house is to support the 
house ; and the subordinate end of the windows is to let in 
the light. But the ultimate end of the whole is the benefit 


of the inhabitants. Therefore, if the house be never inhabit- 
ed, the whole is in vain. The underpinning is in vain, though 
it be ever so strong and support the building ever so well. 
The windows also are wholly in vain, though they be ever so 
large and clear, and though they obtain the subordinate end of 
letting in the light : They are as much in vain, as if they let 
in no light. 

So the subordinate end of the husbandman in ploughing 
and sowing, and well manuring his field is, that it may bring 
forth a crop. But his more ultimate end is, that food may be 
provided for him and his family. Therefore though his infe- 
rior end be obtained, and his field bring forth ever so good a 
crop, yet if after all it be consumed by fire, or otherwise de- 
stroyed, he ploughed and sowed his field as much in vain, as 
if the seed had never sprung up. 

So if man obtain his subordinate ends ever so fully ; yet if 
he altogether fail of his ultimate end, he is wholly an useless 
creature. Thus if men be very useful in temporal things to 
their families, or greatly promote the temporal interest of the 
neighborhood, or of the public ; yet if no glory be bt ought to 
God by it, they are altogether useless. If men actively bring 
no glory to God, they are, as to their own activity, altogether 
\iseless, how much soever they may promote the benefit of 
one another. How much soever one part of mankind may 
subserve another ; yet if the end of the whole be not answer- 
ed, every part is useless. 

Thus if the parts of a clock subserve ever so well one to 
another, mutually to assist each other in their motions; one 
wheel moving another ever so regularly ; yet if the motion 
never reach the hand or the hammer, it is altogether in vain, 
as much as if it stood still. As in a clock one wheel moves 
another, and that another, till at last the motion comes to the 
hand and hammer, which immediately respect th^eye and 
the ear, otherwise all the motions are in vain ; so it is in the 
world, one man was made to be useful to another, and one part 
of mankind to another ; but the use of the whole is to bring 
glory to God the maker, or else all is in vain j and however a 


man may serve among his fellow creatures, in a private or 
public capacity, upon the whole he is in vain. 

It may perhaps be objected, that a wicked man may, by be- 
ing serviceable to the public, be useful to many who do bring 
forth fruit to God, and thus glorify him. 

Answer 1. If he be so, he is no further useful than he 
brings glory to God. It all hath an ultimate respect to that 
glory that is brought to God, and is useful no further ; as the 
motion of no one wheel of a clock is any further useful, than 
as it finally respects the right pointing of the hand, and strik- 
ing of the hammer. 

Answer 2. When it is thus, wicked men are useful only 
accidentally, and not designedly. Although a wicked man 
may, by being serviceable to good men, do what will bean 
advantage to them to their bringing forth fruit to God ; yet 
that serviceableness is not what he aims at ; this is not his 
end ; he doth not look so far for an ultimate end. Aid how- 
ever this end be obtained, no thanks are due to him ; it is as 
to him accidental. He is only the occasion, and not the de- 
signing cause of it. That fruit which is brought forth to the 
glory of God, is not brought forth by him, but by others. 

The usefulness of such a man, being not designed, is not 
to be attributed to him as though it were his fruit. He is not 
useful as a man, or as a rational creature, because he is not so 
designedly. He is useful as things wkhoijt life may be. 
Things without life may be useful to put the godly under ad- 
vantages to bring forth fruit, as the timber and stones with 
which his house is built, the wool and flax with which he is 
clothed ; but the fruit which is brought forth to God's glo- 
ry, cannot be. said for all that to be the fruit of these lifeless 
things, But of the godly man who makes use of them. So 
it is when wicked men put the godly under advantages to 
glorify God, as Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, and others have 


III. If men bring not forth fruit to God, there is no other 
#ay in which they can be useful passively, but in being de- 
stroyed. They are fit for nothing else. 

1. They are not fit to be suffered to continue always in 
this world. God suffers them to live for the preset)., bir it is 
only for a certain season. They are here in a tran^i ory states 
It is not fit that this world should be the constant a bode of 
those who bring forth no fruit to God. It is not fit that the 
barren tree should be allowed always to stand in the vineyard. 
The husbandman lets it stand ior a while, till he digs about it, 
dungs it, and proves it to be incurable, or till a convenient 
time to cut it down come ; but it is noc fit that such a tree 
should stand here always. It is not fit that they u ho bring 
forth no fruit to God, should be suffered to live always in a 
world which is so full of the goodness of God, or that his 
goodness should be spent upon them forever. 

This world, though it is fallen, and is under a curse, and 
is a miserable place to what it once was, yet is full ol the 
streams of divine goodness. But it is not fit that those who 
bring forth no fruit to God, should always be continued in 
partaking of these streams. There are these three different 
states ; a state wherein is nothing but good, which is the state 
of the blessed in heaven; a state wherein is a mixture of good, 
and evil, which is the earthly state; and a state wherein is 
nothing but evil, which is the state of eternal destruction and 
damnation. Now they that bring forth no fruit to God, are 
not fit for either of the former ; it is not fit that they should be 
continued in the enjoyment of any of the goodness of God. 

It is not fit that an unprofitable, unfruitful creature, who 
will not glorify his Creator, should always live here to devour 
the fruits of the earth, and consume the fruits of divine boun- 
ty ; to have the good things of this life, as God's wool and his 
flax, his corn, and wine, and oil, spent with him in vain. 
While a man lives in this world, the other creatures of the 
world are subjected to him. The brute creatures serve him 
with their labor and with their lives. The sun, moon, and 
stars, the clouds, fields and trees, all serve him. But it is not 
Vol. VIII. S 


fit that these creatures should always be made to serve him». 
who brings forth no fruit to the Creator. Why should God' 
always keep his creatures In subjection to that man, who will 
not be subject to him ? Why should the creation be always 
kept in such bondage, as to be subject to wicked men ? The 
creatures are made subject to vanity for a little time ; God 
hath subjected them to wicked men, and given them for their 
use. This however he would not have done, but as it is only 
for a lictle while ; and the creatures can bear it through the 
hope of approaching deliverance; and otherwise it would 
have been intolerable. Rom. viii. 20. " For the creature 
was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him. 
who hath subjected the same in hope." 

The creature doth, as it were, groan by reason of this 
subjection to wicked men, although it be but for a while. 
Horn. viii. 22. " For we know that the whole creation groaneth, 
and travaileth in pain together until now." Therefore sure- 
ly it would be no way fit that wicked men, who do no good,, 
and bring forth no fruit to God, should live here always, to 
have the various creatures subservient to them, as they are 
now. The earth can scarcely bear wicked men during that 
short time for which they stay here, but is ready to spew them 
out. It is no way fit, therefore, that it should be forced to 
bear them always. 

Men who bring forth no fruit to God are cumberers of the 
ground. Luke xiii. 7. " And it is not meet that they should 
be suffered" to cumber the ground always." God cannot be 
glorified in this way of disposing of unfruitful persons. If 
such men should be suffered to live always in such a state as 
this, it would be so far from being to the glory of God, that it 
would be to the disparagement ot the wisdom of God, to con- 
tinue them in a state so unsuitable for them, forever spending 
the fruits of his bounty in vain upon them. It would also be 
a disparagement to his justice ; for this is a world where, "all 
things come alike to all, and there is one event to the right- 
eous and to the wicked." If there were no other state but 
this for wicked men to be in, justice could not possibly take 


place. It would also reflect upon the holiness of God. For- 
ever to uphold this world for an habitation of such persons, and 
forever to continue the communications of his bounty and good- 
ness to them, would appear as though he were disposed to 
countenance and encourage sin and wickedness. 

2. If men do not bring forth fruit to God, they are not fit 
to be disposed of in heaven. Heaven, above all others, is the 
most improper place for them. Every thing appertaining to 
that state is unsuitable for them. The company is most un- 
suitable. The original inhabitants of that world are the angels. 
But what a disagreeable union would that be, to. unite wicked 
men and angels in the same society ? The employments of 
that world are unsuitable. The employments are serving 
and glorifying God. How unsuitable then would it be to piant 
barren trees in that heavenly paradise, trees that would bring 
forth no fruit to the divine glory ? The enjoyments of heaven, 
are unsuitable. The enjoyments are holy and spiritual en- 
joyments, the happiness of beholding the glory of God, and 
praising his name, and the like. But these enjoyments are 
as unsuitable as can be to the carnal earthly minds of wicked 
men. They would be no enjoyments to them; but on the 
contrary would be most disagreeable, and what they cannot 
relish, but entirely nauseate. 

The design of heaven is unsuitable to them. The design 
of God in making heaven was, that it might be a place of holy 
habitation, for the reward of the righteous, and not an habitat 
tion for wicked men. It would greatly reflect on the wisdom 
of God to dispose of wicked men there ; for it would be the 
greatest confusion. But God is not the author of confusion, 
1 Cor. xiv. 33. It would be contrary to the holiness of God, 
to take wicked men so near to himself, into his glorious pres- 
ence, to dwell forever in that part of the creation which is, as 
it were, his own palace, and to sit at his tabic. We read in 
Psalm v. 4. " Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wick- 
edness, neither shall evil dwell with thee." Therefore it 
would doubtless be impossible that the end of the existence of 


wicked men should be in any wise answered by the placing of 
them in heaven. 

IV. Men who bring forth no fruit to God, yet in suffer- 
ing destruction may be useful. Although they be not useful 
actively, or by any thing which they do ; yet they may be use- 
ful in what they may suffer ; just as a barren tree, which is 
no way useful standing in the vineyard, yet may be good fuel, 
and be very usef.ji in the fire, v-od can find use for the most 
wicked men ; He hath his use fur vessels of wra h as well as 
for vessels of mercy; as in an house there is use for vessels 
ui tb dishonor, as well as for vessels unto honor. 2 Tim. ii. 
20. " In a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and 
of silver, but also of wood and of earth ; and some to honor, 
and some to dishonor." Prov. xvi. 4. " The Lord hath made 
all things for himself ; yea, even the wicked for the day of 
evil." I shall briefly take notice of what ends God accomplish- 
es by it. 

1. Unfruitful persons arc of use in their destruction for 
the glory of God's justice. It was the will of God to glorify 
his justice, as well as his mercy, on his creatures. The vin- 
dictive justice of God is a glorious attribute, as well as his 
mercy ; and the glory of this attribute appears in the everlast- 
ing destruction and ruin of the barren and unfruitful. 

The glory of divine justice in the perdition of ungodly men 
appears wonderful and glorious in the eyes of the saints and 
angels in heaven. Hence we have an account, that they sing 
praises to God, and extol his justice at the sight of the awful 
judgments which he inflicts on wicked men. Rev. xvi. 5, 6. 
" Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art and wast, and art to 
come, because thou hast judged thus ; for they have shed the 
blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood 
to drink ; tor they are worthy :" And Rev. xix. 1.2. " And 
after these things I heard a great voice, saying, Alleluia: Sal- 
vation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our 
God ; for true and righteous are his judgments ; for he hath 
judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with 


her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at. 
her hand." 

2. Unfruitful persons in their destruction are of use for 
God to glorify his majesty upon them. The awful majesty of 
God remarkably appears in those dreadful and amazing pun- 
ishments which he inflicts on those who rise up against him, 
and contemn him. A sense of the majesty of an earthly 
prince is supported very much by a sense of its being a dread- 
ful thing to affront him. God glorifies his own majesty in the 
destruction of wicked men ; and herein he appears infinitely 
great, in that it appears to be an infinitely dreadful thing to 
offend him. How awful doth the majesty of God appear in 
the dreadfulness of his anger ! This we may learn to be one 
end of the damnation of the wicked, from Rom.ix.22. " What 
if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power 
known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath 
fitted to destruction ?" 

It is of en spoken of God, that he is a terrible God. It is 
a part of the majesty and glory of God, that he is a terrible 
God. God tells Pharaoh, that for this cause he raised him up, 
that he might show his power in him, and that his name might 
be declared through all the earth, in his destruction^ Exod. ix. 
15, 16 ; and again, chap, xiv 17. " I will get me honor upon 
Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon 
his horsemen." 

3. The destruction of the unfruitful is of use, to give the 
saints a greater sense of their happiness, and of God's grace 
to them. The wicked will be destroyed and tormented in the 
view of the saints, and other inhabitants of heaven. This wc 
are taught in Rev. xiv. 10. " The same shall drink of the wine 
of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, in- 
to the cup of his indignation ; and he shall be tormented with 
fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in 
the presence of the Lamb." And in Isaiah lxvi. 24. "And 
they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that 
fiave transgressed against me: For their worm shall not die, 


neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be ah ab» 
horring unto all flesh." 

When the saints in heaven shall look upon the damned in 
hell, it will serve to give them a greater sense of their own 
happiness, seeing how vastly different their case is from their 
own. The view of the doleful condition of the damned will 
make them the more prize their own blessedness. When 
they shall see how dreadful the anger of God is, it will make 
them the more prize his love. They will rejoice so much 
the more that they are not the objects ol God's anger, but of 
his favor ; that they are not the subjects of his dreadful wrath, 
but are treated as his children, are taken near to him, to dwell 
in the everlasting embraces of his love. 

When they shall see the misery of the damned, it will 
give them a greater sense of the distinguishing grace and love 
of God to them, that God should from all eternity set his love 
on them, and make so great a difference between them and 
others who are of the same species with them, are no worse by 
nature than they, and have deserved no worse of God than they. 
When they shall look upon the misery of the damned, and 
consider how different their own state is from theirs, and that 
it is only free and sovereign grace that makes the difference, 
■what a great sense will this give them of the wonderful grace 
of God to them ! And how will it heighten their praises ! 
With how much greater admiration and exultation of soul 
will they sing of the free and sovereign grace of God to 
them ! 

When they shall look upon the damned, and see their mis- 
ery, how will heayen ring with the praises of God's justice to- 
wards the wicked, and his grace towards the saints 1 And 
with how much greater enlargement of heart will they praise 
Jesus Christ their Redeemer, that ever he was pleased to set 
his love upon them, his dying love ! And that he should so 
distinguish them as to spill his blood, and make his soul an 
offering, to redeem ihem from that so great misery, and to 
bring them to such exceeding happiness ! 


With what love and ecstacy will they sing that song in 
Rev. v. 9. 10. " Thou art worthy: For thou wast slain, and 
hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every tongue^ 
and kindred, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto 
our God kings and priests." One end which the apostle 
mentions why God appointed vessels of wrath, is the more to 
make known the wonderfuhiess of his mercy towards the 
saints. In Rom. ix. 22, 23. there are two ends mentioned : 
" What if God* willing to show his wrath, and to make his 
power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels 
of wrath fitted to destruction ?" That is one end, then another 
is mentioned immediately after : " And that he might make 
known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which 
be had aiore prepared unto glory . ? " 


I. Hence we may learn, how just and righteous God is ia 
the destruction of those who bring forth nofruit toGod. See- 
ing there is no other way in which they can be useful, or in 
which the end of their being can be obtained, certainly it is 
most just that God should ihusdispose of them. Why should 
God be frustrated of his end through their perverseness ? If 
men will not do the work for which he hath made and fitted 
them ; if they, through a spirit of opposition and rebellion 
against God, refuse ; yet why should God suffer himself to be 
disappointed of his end in making them ? It doth not become 
the infinite greatness and majesty of Gcd, to suffer himself tc 
be disappointed and frustrated by the wickednessand perverse- 
ness of sinful worms of the dust. If God should suffer this, 
it would seem to argue, either a want of wisdom in God to fix 
upon a good end, or a want of power to accomplish it. 

God made all men that they might be useful; and if they 
will not be useful in their conduct and actions, how just is it 
that God should make them useful in their sufferings! Cod 
made all men. for his own glory ; and if they, contrary to the 


revealed will of God, refuse to glorify him actively and wil- 
lingly, how just is it that God should glorify himself upon 
them in what he doth with them ! 

It hath been shown, that there is no other way wherein 
this can be done, but by their destruction. Surely, therefore> 
it must be just and righteous that God should destroy them. 

Men are under no natural necessity of being put to this use 
of glorifying God in their sufferings. God gives them oppor- 
tunity of glorifying him in doing, in bringing forth fruit, puts 
them under advantages for it, and uses many means to bring 
them to it. But if they will not be useful this way, it is very 
just that God should make them useful in the only remaining 
way in which they can be useful, viz. in their destruction. 
God is not forward to put them to this use. He tells us, that 
he hath " no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the 
wicked turn from his way, and live ;'* Ezek. xxxiii. 1 1. God 
represents the destruction of sinners as a work to which he is 
backward ; yet it is meet that they should be destroyed, rather 
than that they should be suffered to frustrate God of the end 
of their being. Who can blame the husbandman for cutting 
down and burning a barren tree, after he hath digged about it, 
and dunged i , and used all proper means to make it fruitful? 

Let those among us consider this, who have lived all their 
lives hitherto unprofitably, and never have brought forth any 
fruit to God's glory, notwithstanding all the means that have 
been used with them. Consider how just it would be if God 
should utterly destroy you, and glorify himself upon you in 
that way ; and what a wonder of patience it is, that God hath 
not done it before now. 

II. This subject ought to put you upon examining your- 
selves, whether you be not wholly useless creatures. You 
have now liea>'d, that those who biing forth no fruit to God, 
are, as to any good they do, wholly useless. Inquire, there- 
fore, whether you have ever iu your lives brought lorth any 
fruit to God. Have you ever done ny ti 1114 from a i^n.cious 
respect to God, or out of love to ood i ii) only seeking your 


worldly interest, you do not bring forth fruit to God. It is 
hot bringing; forth fruit to God, for you to come to public wor- 
ship on the Sabbath, to pray in your families, and other such 
like things, merely in compliance with the general custom. 
It is not to bring forth fruit to God, that you be sober, moral 
and religious, only to be seen of men, or out of respect to 
your own credit and honor. How is that for God which is 
only for the sake of custom, or the esteem of men. 

It is not to bring forth fruit to God, for men to pray, and 
read, and hear, and to be strict and diligent in religious and 
moral duties, merely from the fear of hell. What thanks are 
due to you for not loving your own misery, and for being will- 
ing to take some pains to escape burning in hell to all eter- 
nity ? There is ne'er a devil in hell but would gladly do the 
same. Hos. x. 1. "Israel is an emfity vine; he bringeth 
forth fruit unto himself" 

There is no fruit brought forth to God, where there is 
nothing done in any wise from love to God, or from any true 
respect to him. God looketh at the heart. He doth not stand 
in need of our services, neither is he benefited by any thing 
that we can do. He dcth not receive any thing of us, because 
it benefits him, but only as a suitable testimony of our love 
and respect to him. This is the fruit that he seeks. Men 
themselves will not accept of those shows of friendship, which 
they think are hypocritical, and come not from the heart. 
How much less should God, who seavcheth the hearts and 
trieth the reins of the children of men ! John iv. 23. " God 
is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in 
spirit and in truth." 

Inquire, therefore, whether you ever in your lives did the 
least thing out of love to God. Have you not done all for 
yourselves ? Zech. vii. 5, 6. " When ye fisted and mourned 
in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did 
ye at all fast unto me, even unto me ? And when ye did eat, 
and when ye did drink, did ye not cat for yourselves, and di ink 
for yourselves I" 

Vol. VIII. T 


III. Another use of this subject maybe of co?mW/cH and 
humiliation to those who never have brought forth any fruit to 
God. If, upon examination, you find that you have never in 
ail your lives done anything out of a true respect to God, then 
it hath been demonstrated, that, as to any thing which you do, 
you are altogether useless creatures. And consider, what a 
shameful thing it is for such rational beings as you are, and 
placed under such advantages for usefulness, yet to be wholly 
useless, and to live in the world to no purpose \ 

We esteem it a very mean character in any person, that 
he is a worthless, insignificant person ; and to be called so is 
taken as a great reproach. But consider seriously, whether 
you can clear yourselves of this character. Set reason to 
work ; can you rationally suppose, that you do in any measure 
answer the end for which God gave you your being, and made 
you of a nature superior to the beasts ? But that you may be 
sensible what cause you have to be ashamed of your unprofita- 
bleness, consider the following things. 

1. How much God hath bestowed upon you, in the en- 
dowments of your nature. God hath made you rational, in- 
telligent creatures, hath endowed you with noble powers, 
those endowments wherein the natural image of God consists. 
You are vastly exalted in your nature above other kinds of 
creatures here below. You are capable of a thousand times 
as much as any of the brute creatures. He hath given you a 
power of understanding, which is capable of vastly extending 
itself, of looking back to the beginning of time, and of consid- 
ering what was before the world was, and of looking forward 
beyond the end of time. It is capable of extending beyond 
the utmost limits of the universe ; and is a faculty whereby 
you are akin to angels, and are capable even of knowing God, 
of contemplating the divine Being, and his glorious perfec- 
tions, manifested in his works and in his word. You have 
souls capable of being the habitation of the Holy Spirit of 
God, and his divine grace. You arc capable of the noble em- 
ployments of angels. 


How lamentable and shameful it is, that such a creature 
should be altogether useless, and live in vain ! How lamenta- 
ble that such a noble and excellent piece of divine workman- 
ship should fail of its end, and be to no purpose ! Was it ever 
worth while for God to make you such a creature, with such 
a noble nature, and so much above other kinds of creatures, 
only toeat, and drink, and gratify your sensual appetites ? How 
lamentable and shameful to you, that such a noble tree should 
be more useless than any tree of the forest ; that man, whom 
God hath thus set in honor, should make himself more worth- 
less than the beasts that perish ! 

2. How much God hath done for you in the creation of the 
world. He made the earth, and seas, and all the fulness of 
them, for the use of man, and hath given them to him. Psal. 
cxv. 16. " The earth hath he given to the children of men." 
He made the vast variety of creatures for man's use and ser- 
vice. Gen. i. 28. " Have dominion over the fish of the sea, 
and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that 
moveth upon the earth." For the same purpose he made all 
the plants, and herbs, and trees of the field. Gen. i. 29. " I 
have given you every herb bearing teed, which is upon the 
face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of 
a tree, yielding seed ; to you it shall be for meat." He made 
the sun in the heavens, that glorious luminary, that wonderful 
globe of light, to give light to man, and to constitute the dif- 
ference between day and night. He also made the moon, and 
the vast multitude of stars, for the use of man, to be to him 
for signs and seasons. 

What great provision hath God made for man ! What a 
vast variety of good things for food, and otherwise to be for his 
convenience, to put him under advantages to be useful ! How 
lamentable is it, that after all these things he should be an use- 
less creature in the world ! 

3. How much is done for you in the course of God's com- 
mon providence ! Consider how nature is contiuually laboring 
for you. The sun is, at it were, in a ferment for mankind, 
unweariedly running his course from year to year, and from 


day to day, and spending his rays upon man, to put him under 
advantage to be useful ; every day giving him light that he 
may hue opportunity to behold the glorious wisdom of God, 
and to see and serve God. The winds and clouds are contin- 
ually laboring for you, and the waters are going in a constant 
circulation, ascending in the air from the seas, descending in 
rain, gathering in streams and rivers, returning to the sea, and 
again ascending and descending, for you. The earth is con- 
tin laboring to bring forth her fruit for your support. 
The s of the field are laboring and spending their strength 
for you. And how many of the poor brute creatures are con- 
tinually laboring for you, and spending their strength for you ! 
How much of the fulness of the earth is spent upon you ! How 
many of God's creatures are devoured by you ! How many of 
the lives of the living creatures of God are destroyed for your 
sake, for your support and comfort ! 

Now, how lamentable will it be, if, after all, you be alto- 
gether useless, and live to no purpose I What mere cumber- 
ers of the ground will you be ! Agreeably to Luke xiii. 7. 
Nature, which thus continually labors for you, will be burden- 
ed with you. This seems to be what the apostle means, Horn, 
viii. 20, 21, 22, where he tells us, that the creation is made 
subject to vanity, and brought into the bondage of corruption ; 
and that the whole creation groans, and travails in pain, under 
this bondage. 

4. How much is done for y use of the means of 

grace. How much hath G provide you with suita- 

ble means and advanta§ jes i usefulness! How many proph- 
ets hat'n God sent ; n to the world, in different ages, inspiring 
the in with his Holy Spirit, and enabling them to work many 
miracles to confirm their word, whereby you now have the 
written word of God to instruct you ! How great a thing hath 
God done for you, to give you opportunity and advantage to be 
useful, in that he hath sent his own Son into the world ! He 
who is ready and truly God, united himself to the human na- 
ture, and became man, to be a prophet and teacher to you and 
other sinners. Yea 5 he laid dov, n his. life to make atonement 


for sin, that you might have encouragement to serve God with 
hopes of acceptance. 

How many ordinances have been instituted for you ! How 
much of the labor of the ministers of God hath been spent up- 
on you ! Is not that true concerning you which is written in 
Isai. v. at the beginning, concerning the vineyard planted in a 
very fruitful hill, and fenced and cultivated with peculiar care 
and pains, which yet proved unfruitful ? How much hath the 
dresser of the vineyard digged about the barren tree, and 
dunged it, and yet it remains barren ! 

5. Consider what a shame it is that you should live in vain, 
when all the other creatures, that are inferior to you, do glo- 
rify their Creator, according to their nature. You who are 
so highly exalted in the world, are more useless than the 
brute creation ; yea, than the meanest worms, or things with- 
out life, as earth and stones : For they all do answer their 
end, in the way in which nature hath fitted them for it ; none 
of them fail of it. They are all useful in their places, all ren- 
der their proper tribute of praise to their Creator ; while you 
are mere nuisances in the creation, and burdens to the earth ; 
as any tree of the forest is more useful than the vine, if it bear 
not fruit. 

IV. Let me, in a farther application of this doctrine, ex- 
hort you by all means to bring forth fruit to God. Let it. be 
your constant endeavor to be in this way actively useful in the 
world. Here consider three things. 

1. What an honor it will be to such poor creatures as you 
are, to bring forth fruit to the divine glory. What is such a 
poor worm as man, that he should be enabled to bring forth 
any fruit to God ! It is the greatest honor of the nature of 
man, that God hath given him a capacity of glorifying the 
great Creator. It is what no other creature in this lower 
world can do, in the same manner as man. There is no crea- 
ture in the visible world that is capable of actively glorifying 
God, but man. 


2. In bringing forth fruit to God, you vviil be so profitable 
to none as to yourselves ; you cannot thereby be profitable to 
God. Job xxii. 2. " Can a man be profitable to God ?" You 
may thereby be profitable to your fellow creatui es ; yet not 
so much as to yourselves. The fruit which you bring forth 
to God will be a greater benefit to yourselves than to any one 
living. You will be more useful to yourselves than to any 
one else. 

Although you are under a natural obligation to bring forth 
fruit to God, yet God doth not require it of you without a re- 
ward. He will richly reward you for it. In requiring you to 
bring forth fruit to him, he doth but require you to bring forth 
fruit to your own happiness. You will taste the sweetness of 
your own fruit. It will be most profitable for you in this 
world to bring forth fruit to God ; it will be exceedingly to 
your benefit while here. It will be pleasant to you to lead a 
fruitful and holy life ; the pleasure will be beyond the labor. 
Beside this, God hath promised to such a life everlasting re- 
-wards, unspeakable, infinite benefits. So that by it you will 
infinitely advance your own interest. 

5. If you remain thus unprofitable, and be not actively 
useful, surely God will obtain his end of you, in your destruc- 
tion. He will say concerning the barren tree, " Cut it down, 
•why cumbereth it the ground ?" Christ, in John xv. 6, tells 
•us, " If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and 
is withered ; and men gather them, and cast them into the 
fire, and they are burned." This is spoken of the barren 
branches in the vine. How would you yourselves do in such 
a case with a barren tree in an orchard, or with weeds and 
tares in your fields ? Doubtless, if it were in your power, you 
would utterly destroy them. 

God will have his end ; he will accomplish it. As it is 
not meet that God should be frustrated, so he will not be frus- 
trated. Though all men and devils unite their endeavors, they 
cannot frustrate God in any thing ; and " though hand join in 
hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished;" Prov. xi. 21. 
God hath sworn by his great name, that he will have his glory 


of men, whether they will actively glorify him or no. Numb, 
xiv. 21, 22, 23. " But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be 
filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men 
which have seen my glo'-y, and my miracles which I did in 
Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these 
ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice ; surely they 
shall not see the 1 nd which I sware unto their fathers, nei- 
ther shall any of them that provoked me, see it." 

" The ax lieth at the root of the trees ; and every tree 
which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast 
into the fire ;" Matth. iii. 10. The end of those men wha 
bring forth nothing but briers and thorns is to be burned, as 
in Heb. vi. 7, 8. " For the earth which drinketh in the rain 
that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for 
them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God : 
But that which beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is 
nigh unto cursing ; whose end is to be burned." So we read 
of the tares, Matth. xiii. 30. "Let both grow together until 
the harvest ; and in the time of harvest I will say to the 
reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in 
bundles to burn them;" and in ver. 40, 4!, 42, " As there- 
fore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it 
be at the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth 
his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things 
that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them 
into a furnace of fire : There shall be wailing and gnashing 
of teeth." 

So it is said of the chaff, Matth. iii. 1 2. " Whose fan is in 
his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather 
his wheat into the garner ; but he will burn up the chaff with 
unquenchable fire." 

If you continue not to bring forth any fruit to the divine 
glory, as you have hitherto done, hell will be the only fit place 
for you. It is a place prepared on purpose to be a receptacle 
of such persons. In hell nature ceases to labor any more for 
sinners : The sun doth not run his course to shine upon 
them, the earth doth not bring forth her fruits to be consumed 


upon them there. There they will have no opportunity to 
consume the fruits of divine goodness on their lusts. In hell 
they can prejudice or encumber nothing, upon which God 
sets any value. There the faithful servants and ministers of 
God will no longer spend their strength in vain upon them. 
When the barren tree is in the fire, the servants of the hus- 
bandman arc freed from any further labor or toil in digging 
about it, and manuring it. 

In hell they Will no more have opportunity to clog and dis- 
courage the flourishing of religion, and to destroy much good, 
as they often do in this world. In hell they will no more have 
opportunity to corrupt others by their ill example. In hell 
they will no more have it in their power to offend the godly ; 
they may hurt and torment one another ; but the godly will 
be out of their reach. In hell there will be no ordinances, no 
Sabbaths, no sacraments, no sacred things, for them to pro- 
fane and defile by their careless and hypocritical attendance. 

Hell, therefore, if you remain unfruitful and cumberers of 
the ground, will be the fittest place for you, and there you will 
surely have your portion assigned you. There God will ge' 
himself honor upon you ; there he will magnify himself in 
your ruin, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the pres- 
ence of the Lamb ; and will be praised upon that account by 
the saints, at the day of judgment ; and by all the host of heav- 
en throughout everlasting ages. 


The Tearfulness^ which will hereafter surprise Sin* 
ners in Zion, represented and improved. 

ISAIAH xxxiii. 14. 


x HERE are two kinds of persons among God's pro- 
fessing people ; the one is those who are truly godly, who are 
spoken of in the verse following the text ; " He that walketh 
righteously and speaketh uprightly," Sec. The other kind 
consists of sinners in Zion, or hypocrites. It is to be observ- 
ed, that the prophet in this chapter speaks interchangeably, 
first to the one, and then to the other of these characters of 
men ; awfully threatening and denouncing the wrath of God 
against the one, and comforting the other with gracious prom- 
ises. Thus you may observe, in the 5th and 6th verses, there 
are comfortable promises to the godly ; then in the eight fol- 
lowing verses, awful judgments are threatened against the 

* Dated December, 1749. 
Vol. VIII. U 


sinners in Zion. Again, in the two next verses are blessed 
promises to the sincerely godly, and in the former part of 
verse 17. And then in the latter part of verse 17, and in vers- 
es 18, and 19, are terrible threatenings to sinners in Zion : 
Then in the verses that follow are gracious promises to the 

Our text is part of what is said in thi3 chapter to sinners in 
Zion. In verse 10, it is said, " Now will I i-ise, saith the 
Lord ; now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself." i. e 
Now will I arise to execute wrath upon the ungodly ; I will 
not let them alone any longer. They shall see that I am not 
asleep, and that I am not regardless of mine own honor 
u Now will I be exalted." Though they have cast contempt 
upon me, yet I will vindicate the honor of my own majesty : I 
will exalt myself, and show my greatness, and my awful majes- 
ty in their destruction. " Now will I lift up myself ;" now 
I will no longer have mine honor to be trampled in the dust by 
them : But my glory shall be manifested in their misery. 

Inverse 11, the prophet proceeds, "Ye shall conceive 
chaff, ye shall-bring forth stubble:" i.e. Ye shall pursue 
happiness in ways of wickedness, but you shall not obtain it ; 
you are as ground which brings forth no fruit, as if only chaff 
were sowed in it; it brings forth nothing but stubble, which 
is fit for nothing but to be burned. 

It seems to have been the manner in that land where the 
corn grew very rank, when they had reaped the wheat, and 
gathered it off from the ground, to set fire to the stubble ; 
which is alluded to here ; and therefore it is added, " Your 
breath, as fire, shall devour you :" i. e. Your own wicked 
speeches, your wickedness that you commit with your breath, 
or with your tongues, shall set fire to the stubble and de- 
vour it. 

Then it follows in verse 12. " And the people shall be as 
the burnings of lime." As they are wont to burn lime in a 
great and exceeding fierce fire, till stones, and bones, and oth- 
er things are burnt to lime ; so shall the wicked be burnt in 
the fire of God's wrath. "As thorns cut up shall they be 


burnt in the fire :" As briers and thorns are the incumbrance 
and curse of the ground where they grow, and are wont to be 
burnt ; so shall it be with the wicked that are among God's 
people and grow in God's field. Heb. vi. 7, 8. For the earth 
which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bring* 
eth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiv- 
eth blessing from God : But that which beareth thorns and 
briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing ; whose end is to 
be burned." 

Then it follows in verse 13. "Hear ye that are afar off. 
what I have done ; and ye that are near, acknowledge my 
might." This implies that God will, by the destruction of 
ungodly men, manifest his glory very publicly, even in the 
sight of the whole world, both in the sight of those that are 
near, and of those that are afar off." " Acknowledge my 
might." Which implies that God will execute wrath upon 
ungodly men, in such a manner as extraordinarily to show forth 
his great and mighty power. The destruction and misery of 
the wicked will be so dreadful that it will be a dreadful mani- 
festation of the omnipotent power of God, that he can execute 
so dreadful misery; agreeably to Rom.ix. 22. " What if God, 
willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, en- 
dured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to 

Next follow the words of the text : " The sinners in Zion 
are afraid : .Fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites : Who 
among us shall dwell with the devouring fire ? Who amongst 
us shall dwell with everlasting burnings I" The sense of the 
text is, That the time will come when fearfulness will sur- 
prise the sinners in Zion ; because they will know, that they 
are about to be cast into adevouring fire, which they must suf- 
fer for ever and ever, and which none can endure. This I 
shall make the subject of my present discourse ; and shall 
particularly speak upon the subject, 

1. By inquiring, who are sinners in Zion ? 

2. By showing how fearfulness will hereafter surprise 


3. By insisting on those reasons of this fear and surprise; 
which are mentioned in the text. 

4. By showing why sinners in zion will be especially sur- 
prised with fear. 

I. It may be inquired, who are the sinners in Zion ? 

I answer, That they are those who are in a natural condition 
among the visible people of God. Zion, or the city of David 
of old, was a type of the church ; and the church of God in 
scripture is perhaps more frequently called by the name of„ 
Zion than by any other name. And commonly by Zion is 
meant the true church of Christ, or the invisible church of 
true saints. But sometimes by this name is meant the visi- 
ble church, consisting of those who are outwardly, by profes- 
sion and external privileges, the people of God. This is in- 
tended by Zion in this text. 

The greater part of the world are sinners : Christ's flock 
is, and ever hath been but a little flock. And the sinners of 
the world are of two sorts : There are those that are visibly of 
Satan's kingdom, who are without the pale of the visible 
church. Such are all who do not profess the true religion, 
nor attend the external ordinances of it. Beside these there 
are the sinners in Zion. Both are objects of the displeasure 
and wrath of God ; but his wrath is more especially manifest- 
ed in scripture against the latter. Sinners in Zion will have 
by far the lowest place in hell. They are exalted nearest to 
heaven in this world, and they will be lowest in hell in another. 
The same is meant in the text, by hypocrites, as sinners in Zi- 
on. Sinners in Zion are all hypocrites ; for they make a pro- 
fession of the true religion ; they attend God's ordinances, 
and make a show of being the worshippers of God ; but all is 
in hypocrisy ...I now hasten as was proposed, 

II. To show how fearfulness will hereafter surprise sin- 
ners in Zion. 

1. They will hereafter be afraid. Now many of them 
Bteem to have little or no fear. They are quiet and secure 

surprise hypocrites. isr 

Nothing will awaken them : The most awful threatenings 
and the loudest warnings do not much move them. They are 
not so much moved with them, hut that they can eat, and 
drink, and sleep, and go about their worldly concerns without 
much disturbance. But the time will come, when the hard- 
est and most stupid wretches will be awakened. Though 
now preaching will not awaken them, and the death of others 
will not make them afraid ; though seeing others awakened 
and converted will not much affect them ; though they can 
stand all that is to be heard and seen in a time of general out- 
pouring of the Spirit of God, without being much moved ; yet 
the time will come, when they will be awakened, and fear will 
take hold of them. They will be afraid of the wrath of God : 
However senseless they be now, they will hereafter be sensi- 
ble of the awful greatness of God, and that it is a fearful thing 
to fall into his hands. 

2. They will be surprised with fear. This seems to im- 
ply two things ; viz. the greatness of their fear, and the sud- 
denness of it. 

(1.) The greatness of their fear. Surprise argues an 
high degree of fear. Their fears will be to the degree of as- 
tonishment. Some of the sinners in Zion arc somewhat 
afraid now : They now and then have some degree of fear. 
They are not indeed convinced that there is such a place as 
hell ; but they are afraid there isi They are not thoroughly 
awakened ; neither are they quite easy. They have at certain 
times inward molestations from their consciences ; but they 
have no such degrees of fear, as to put them upon any thor- 
ough endeavors to escape future wrath. 

However, hereafter they will have fear enough, as much, 
and a great deal more than they will be able to stand under. 
Their fear will be to the degree of horror ; they will be hor- 
ribly afraid ; and terrors will take hold on them as waters. 
Thus we read of " their fear coming as a desolation, and of 
distress and anguish coming upon them ;" Prov. i. 27. It is 
also very emphatically said of the wicked, that "trouble and 


anguish shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the bat- 
tle." Job xv. 24. 

The stoutest heart of them all will then melt with fear. 
The hearts of those who are of a sturdy spirit, and perhaps 
scorn to own themselves afraid of any man, and are even 
ashamed to own themselves afraid of the wrath of God, will 
then become as weak as water, as weak as the heart of a little 
child. And the most reserved of them will not be able to 
hide his fears. Their faces will turn pale ; they will appear 
with amazement in their countenances ; every joint in them 
will tremble ; all their bones will shake ; and their knees 
will smite one against another ; nor will they be able to re- 
frain from crying out with fear and rending the air with the 
most dismal shrieks, 

(2.) They will be suddenly seized with fear. The sinners 
in Zion often remain secure, till they are surprised, as with a 
cry at midnight. They will be, as it were, awakened out of 
their secure sleep in a dismal fright. They will see an unex- 
pected calamity coming upon them ; far more dreadful than 
they were aware of, and coming at an unexpected season. 

With respect to the time when the wicked shall be thus 
surprised with fear ; 

1 . It is often so on a death bed. Many things pass in their 
life time, which one would think might well strike terror into 
their souls ; as when they see others die, who are as young as 
they, and of like condition and circumstances with themselves, 
whereby they may see how uncertain their lives are, and how 
unsafe their souls. It may well surprise many sinners, to 
consider how old they are grown, and are yet in a Christless 
state ; how much of their opportunity to get an interest in 
Christ is irrecoverably gone, and how little remains ; also 
how much greater their disadvantages now are, than they 
have been. But these things do not terrify them : As age in- 
creases, so do the hardness and stupidity of their hearts grow 
upon them. 

But when death comes, then the sinner is often filled with 
astonishment. It may be, when he is first taken sick, he has 


great hope that he shall recover ; as men are ready to flatter 
themselves -with hopes, that things will be as they fain would 
have them. But when the distemper comes to prevail much 
upon him, and he sees that he is going into eternity ; when 
he sees that all the medicines of physicians are in vain, that 
all the care and endeavors of friends are to no purpose, that 
nothing seems to help him, that his strength is gone, that his 
friends weep over him, and look upon his case as desperate j 
when he sees, by the countenance and behavior of the physi- 
cian, that he looks upon his case as past hope, and perhaps 
overhears a whispering in the room, wherein his friends sig- 
nify one to another, that they look upon it that he is struck 
with deach, or wherein they tell one another, that his extreme 
parts grow cold, that his countenance and manner of breath- 
ing, and his pulse, show death, and that he begins to be in a 
cold death sweat ; and when perhaps, by and by, some one 
thinks himself bound in duty and faithfulness to let him know 
the worst, and therefore comes and asks him whether or no 

he be sensible that he is a dying Then how doth fearfulness 

surprise the sinner in Zion ! How doth his heart melt with 
fear ! This is the thing which he feared ever since he was 
taken sick ; but till now he had hope that he should recover. 
The physician did not speak ; or if he despaired, he spoke of 
such and such medicines as being very proper ; and he hop- 
ed that they would be effectual ; and when these failed, he 
changed his medicines, and applied something new : Then 
the sinner hoped that that would be effectual. Thus, al- 
though he constantly grew worse and worse, still he hoped to 

At the same time he cried to God to spare him, and made 
promises how he would live, if God would spare him ; and he 
hoped that God would hear him. He observed also that his 
friends, and perhaps the minister, seemed to pray earnestly 
for him ; and he could not but hope that those prayers would 
be answered, and he should be restored. But now how doth, 
his heart sink and die within him ! How doth he look about 
with a frighted countenance ! How quick is the motion of his 


eye, through inward fear ! And how quick and sudden are all 
his motions ! What a frightful hurry doth he seem to be in 1 
How doth every thing look to him when he sees pale grim 
death staring him in the face, and a vast eternity within a few 
hours or minutes of him ! 

It may be, he still struggles for a little hope ; he is loth to 
believe what is told him ; he tells those who tell him that he 
is a dying, that he hopes not ; he hopes that they are more 
affrighted than they need be ; he hopes that those symptoms 
arise from some other cause ; and, like a poor drowning man, 
he catches at slender and brittle twigs, and clinches his hands 
about whatever he sees within his reach. 

But as death creeps more and more on him, he sees his 
twigs break, all his hopes of life fail, and he sees he must die. 
Ol there is nothing but death before him ! He hath been 
hoping ; but his hopes are all dashed ; he sees this world, 
and all that belongs to it, are gone. Now come the thoughts 
of hell into his mind with amazement. O ! how shall he go 
out of the world ? He knows he hath no interest in Christ ; 
his sins stare him in the face. O the dreadful gulf of eterni- 
ty ! He had been crying to God, perhaps since he was sick, to 
save him ; and he had some hope, if it were his last sickness, 
that yet God would pity him, and give him pardoning grace 
before he should die. He begged and pleaded, and he hoped 
that God would have pity on his poor soul. At the same 
time he asked others to pray for him, and he had been look- 
ing day after day for some light to shine into his soul. But, 
alas ! now he is a dying, and his friends ask him, how death 
appears to him ? Whether any light appear ? Whether 
God have not given him some token of his favor ? And he an- 
swers, No, with a poor, faultering, trembling voice, if he be 
able to speak at all : Or if his friends ask a signal of hope, he 
can give none. 

Now death comes on him more and more, and he is just 
on the brink of eternity. Who can express the fear, the mis- 
givings, the hangings back, and the horrible fright and amaze- 
ment, that his soul is the subject of ? Some who, in such cir- 


cumstances, have been able to speak, have been known to cry- 
out, O eternity ! eternity ! And some, Ola thousand worlds 
for an inch of time I O if they might but live a little while longer ! 
But it must not be ; go they must. They feel the frame of 
nature dissolving, and perceive the soul is just a going ; for 
sometimes the exercise of reason seems to hold to the last. 

What, in such a case, is felt in the soul, in those last mo- 
ments, when it is just breaking its bands with the body, about 
to fetch its leap, and is on the edge of eternity, and the very- 
brink of hell, without any Saviour, or the least testimony of 
of divine mercy : I say, what is sometimes felt by Christless 
souls in these moments, none can tell ; nor is it within the 
compass of our conception. 

2. The misery of the departed soul of a sinner, besides 
what it now feels, consists in a great part in amazing fears of 
what is yet to come. When the union of the soul and body is 
actually broken, and the body has fetched its last gasp, the 
soul forsakes its old habitation, and then falls into the hands 
of devils, who fly upon it, and seize it more violently than ever 
hungry lions flew upon their prey. And with what horror 
will it fall into those cruel hands ! 

If we imagine to ourselves the dreadful fear with which a 
lamb or kid falls into the paws of a wolf, which lays hold of it 
with open mouth ; or if we imagine to ourselves the feeling 
of a little child, that hath been pursued by a lion, when it is 
taken hold of, and sees the terrible creature open his devour- 
ing jaws to tear it in pieces; or the feeling of those two and 
forty children, who were cursed by Elisha, when they fell in- 
to the paws of the bears that tear them in pieces : I say, if we 
could have a perfect idea of that terrorand astonishment which 
a little child has in such a case, yet wc should have but a feint 
idea of what is felt in the departing soul of a sinner, when it 
falls into the hands of those cruel devils, those roaring lions, 
which then by hold of it ! 

And when the poor soul is carried to hell, and there is tor- 
mented, and suffers the wrath of the Almighty, and is over- 
whelmed and crushed with it, it will also be amazed with the 
Vol. VIII. W 


apprehensions of what shall yet remain. To think of an eter- 
nity of this torment remaining, O how will it fill, and over- 
bear, and sink down the poor soul ! How will the thought of 
the duration of this torment without end cause the heart to 
melt like wax! How will the thought of it sink the soul into 
the bottomless pit of darkness and gloominess! Even those 
proud and sturdy spirits, the devils, do tremble at the thoughts 
of that greater torment which they are to suffer at the day of 
judgment. So will the poor damned souls of men. They 
will already have vastly more than they will be able to bear : 
How then will they tremble at the thought of having their 
misery so vastly augmented 1 

Persons sometimes in this world are afraid of the day of 
judgment. If there be an earthquake, or if there be more 
than common thunder and lightning, or if there be some unu- 
sual sight in the heavens, their hearts are ready to tremble for 
fear that the day of judgment is at hand. O how then do the 
poor souls in hell fear it, who know so much more about it, 
who know by what they feel already, and know certainly, that 
whenever it comes they shall stand on the left hand of the 
Judge, to receive the dreadful sentence ; and that then they, 
in both soul and body, must enter into those everlasting burn- 
ings which are prepared for the de\il and his angels, and who 
probably know that their misery is to be an hundred fold 
greater than it is now. 

3. Fearfulness will surprise them at the last judgment. 
When Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven, and the 
last trumpet shall sound, then will the hearts of wicked men 
be surprised with fearfulness. The poor damned soul, in ex- 
pectation of it, trembles every day and every hour from the 
time ol its departure from the body. It knows not, indeed, 
when it is to be, but it knows it is to be. But when the alarm 
is given in hell, that the day is come, it will be a dreadful 
alarm indeed. It will, as it were, fill the caverns of hell with 
shrieks ; and when the souls of the damned shall enter into 
their bodies, it will be with amazing horror of what is coming. 
\nd when they shall lift up their heads out of their graves. 


-and shall see the Judge, it will be a most terrible sight. Glad- 
ly would they return into their graves again, and hide them- 
selves there, if that might be ; and gladly would they return 
into hell, their former state of misery, to hide themselves 
from this awful sight, if that would excuse them. 

So those sinners in Zion, who shall then be found alive on 
the earth, when they shall see this sight, will be surprised 
with fearfulness. The fear and horror which many poor sin- 
ners feel when they are dying, is great, and beyond all that we 
can have any idea of ; but that is nothing to the horror that 
will seize them when they shall come to see this sight. 

There will not be a wicked man upon earth who will be 
able to bear it, let him be who he will, let him be rich or poor, 
old or young, male or female, servant or master, king or sub- 
ject, learned or unlearned, let him be ever so proud, ever so 
courageous, and ever so sturdy. There is not one who will 
be able at all to support himself; when he shall see this 
sight, it will immediately sink his spirit ; it will loose the 
joints of his loins ; it will make his countenance more ghastly 
than death. The rich captains, and valiant generals and princ- 
es, who now scorn to show any fear at the face of any enemy, 
who scorn to tremble at the roaring of cannon, will tremble 
and shriek when they shall hear the last trumpet, and see 
the majesty of their Judge : It will make their teeth to chat- 
ter, and make them cry out, and fly to hide themselves in the 
caves and rocks of mountains, crying to the rocks and moun- 
tains to fall on them, and cover them from the wrath of the 

Fearfulness will surprise them when they shall be drag- 
ged before the judgment seat. The wicked hang back when 
they are about to meet death ; but in no measure as they will 
hang back when they come to meet their great Judge. And 
when they come to stand before the Judge, and are put on his 
left hand, fea.rfulness and amazement will surprise them. 
The majesty of the Judge will be intolerable to them. His 
pure and holy eye, which will behold and search them, and 
pierce them through, will be more terrible to their souls a 


thousand times than flashes of lightning piercing their hearts. 
There will they stand in a trembling expectation, that by and 
by they shall hear the words of that dreadful sentence proceed 
out of the mouth of Christ : They will have an horrible ex- 
pectation of that sentence ; and what shall they do, whither 
shall they fly, so as to be out of the hearing of it ? They can- 
not shut their ears, so as not to hear it. 

Fearfulness will surprise them when the sentence shall 
come to be pronounced. At the close of the judgment, that 
dreadful doom will be uttered by the Judge , and it will be 
the most terrible voice that ever was heard. The sound of 
the last trumpet, that shall call men to judgment, will be a 
more terrible sound to wicked men than ever they shall have 
heard till that time. But the sound of the last sentence will 
be much more terrible than that. There will not be one of 
all those millions at the left hand, whether high or low, king 
or subject, who will be able to support himself at all under the 
sound of that sentence ; but they will all sink under it. 

Lastly, Fearfulness will surprise them, when they shall 
come to see the fire kindle upon the world, in which they are 
to be tormented forever. When the sentence shall have been 
pronounced, Christ, with his blessed saints and glorious an- 
gels, will leave this lower world, and ascend into heaven. 
Then will the flames begin to kindle, and fire will probably be 
seen coining down from heaven ; and soon will the fire lay 
hold of that accursed multitude. Then will their hearts be 
surprised with fearfulness ; that fire will appear a dreadful 
fire indeed. O what chatterings of teeth, what shakings of 
loins, what distortions of body, will there be at that time, when 
they shall see, and begin to feel, the fierceness of the flames 1 
What shall they do, whither shall they go, to avoid those 
flames ? Where shall they hide themselves ? If they creep 
into holes, or creep into caves of the earth, yea if they could 
creep down to the centre of the earth, it will be in vain ; for 
i» wih set on fire the bottoms of the mountains, and burn to 
the lowest hell. They will sec no place to fly to, no place to 
hide themselves. 


Then their hearts will be filled with fearfulness, and will 
utterly sink in despair. Thus it shall hereafter be with eve- 
ry one that shall then be found to be a sinner, and especially 
with sinners in Zion....I come now, 

III. To consider those reasons spoken of in the text, why 
sinners in Zion will hereafter be thus surprised with fear. 

1. Fearfulness will suprise them, because they will know 
that they are to be cast into devouring fire. There is nothing 
which seems to give one a more terrible idea of torment and 
misery, than to think of being cast alive into a fire ; especial- 
ly if we conceive of the senses remaining quick, and not be- 
numbed by the fire. The wicked will hereafter have that to 
make them afraid, that they are not only to be cast into a fire, 
but into devouring fire ; which implies, that it will be a fire 
of extraordinary fierceness of heat, and before which nothing- 
can stand. 

The fire into which men are to be cast is called a. furnace 
of fire. Furnaces are contrived for an extreme degree of 
heat, this being necessary for the purposes for which they are 
designed, as the running and refining of metals, and the melt- 
ing of things into glass. The fire of such earthly furnaces 
may be called devouring fire, as the heat of some of them is 
such, that in them even stones will presently be dissolved. 
Now, if a person should be brought to the mouth of such a fur- 
nace, and thei-e should see how the fire glows, so as presently 
to make every thing cast into it, all over white and bright with 
fire, and at the same time should know that he was immedi- 
ately to be cast into this furnace, would not fearfulness sur- 
prise him ? 

In some Heathen countries, the manner of disposing of 
dead bodies is to dig a great pit, to put in it a great quantity 
of fuel, to put the dead bodies on the pile, and to set it on fire. 
This is some image of the burning of dead souls in the pit of 
hell. Now, if a person were brought to the edge of such a 
pit, all filled with glowing flames, to be immediately cast into 
it, would it not surprise the heart with fearfulness ': 


The (limes of a very great fire, as when an house is all or: 
fire, give one some idea of the fierceness of the wrath of God : 
Such is the rage of the flumes. And we see that the greater 
a fire is, the fiercer is its heat in every part ; and the reason 
is, because one part heats another. The heat in a particular 
place, besides the heat which proceeds out of the fuel in that 
place, is increased by the additional heat of the fire all around 
it. Hence Ave may conceive something of what fierceness 
that fire will be, when this visible world shall be turned into 
one great furnace. That will be devouring fire indeed. Such 
will be the heat of it, that, as the apostle says, " the elements 
shall melt with fervent heat," 2 Pet. iii. 10. 

Men can artificially raise such a degree of heat with burn- 
ing glasses, as will quickly melt the very stones and sand. 
And it h probable that the heat of that great fire which will 
burn the world, will be such as to melt the rocks, and the very 
ground, and turn them into a kind of liquid fire : So that the 
•whole world will probably be converted into a great lake, or 
liquid globe of fire, a vast ocean of fire, in which the wicked 
shall be overwhelmed. It will be an ocean of fire, which will 
always be in a tempest, in which the wicked shall be tossed to 
'aid fro, having no rest day nor night, vast waves or billows of 
fire continually rolling over their heads. 

But all this will be only an image of that dreadful fire of 
the wrath of God, which the wicked shall at the same time 
suffer in their souls'. We read in Rev. xix. !5, of "the fierce- 
ness and wrath of Almighty God." This is an extraordinary 
expression, carrying a terrible idea of the future misery of the 
wicked. If it had been only said the wrath of God, that would 
have expressed what is dreadful. If the wrath of a king be as 
the roaring of a iion, what is the wrath of God ? But it is not 
only said the, wrath of God, but ihrjicrccness and wrath of God, 
or the rage of his wrath ; and not only so, but the fierceness 
and wrath of Almighty God. O what is that ! The fierce- 
ness and rage or fury of Omnipotence ! Of a Being of infi- 
nite strength 1 What an idea doth that give of the state of 
those worms that suffer the fierceness and wrath of such an 


Almighty Being ! And is it any wonder that fearfulness sur- 
prises their hearts, when they see this about to be executed 
upon them ?* 

2. Another reason given in the text, why fearfulness will 
hereafter surprise sinners, is, that they will be sensible that 
this devouring fire will be everlasting. If a man were brought 
to the mouth of a great furnace, to be cast into the midst of 
it, if at the same time he knew he should suffer the torment' 
of it but for one minute, yet that minute would be so terri- 
ble to him, that fearfulness would surprise and astonish him. 
How much more, if he were to be cast into a fire so much 
fiercer, as the fire in which wicked men are hereafter to be 
tormented ! How much more terrible would the minute's 
suffering be ! 

But if the thought of suffering this devouring fire for one 
minute would be enough to fill one with such surprising fear- 
fulness, what fearfulness will seize them, when they shall 
know that they are to bear it, not for one minute, nor for one 
day, nor for one year, nor for one age, nor for two ages, nor 
for an hundred ages, nor for ten thousand or million ages, one 
after another, but for ever and ever, without any end at all, 
and never, never be delivered ! 

They shall know, that the fire itself will be everlasting 
fire, fire that shall never be quenched. Mark ix. 43, 44. " To 
go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched ; v, here 
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And 
they shall know that their torment in that fire never will have 
an end, Rev. xiv. 10, 11. They shall know that they shall 
for ever be full of quick sense within and without ; their 
heads, their eyes, their tongues, their hands, their feet, their 
loins, and their vitals, shall for ever be full of glowing, melt- 
ing fire, fierce enough to melt the very rocks and elements ; 
and also that they shall eternally be full of the most quick and 
lively sense tc feel the torment. 

They shall know that they shall never cease restlessly to 
plunge and roll in that mighty ocean of fire. They shall know 
vhat those billows of fire, which are greater than the greatest 


mountains, will never cease to roll over them, are following 
one another for ever and ever. 

At the same time they will have a more lively sense oi 
eternity than we ever can have here. We can have but a lit- 
tle sense of what an eternal duration is ; and indeed none can 
comprehend it ; it swallows up all thought and imagination : 
If we set ourselves to think upon it, we are presently lost. 
But they will have another and far clearer sense of it than we 
have. O how vast will eternity appear to them, when they 
think of spending it in such burnings ! This is another reason 
that fearfulness will surprise them. The thoughts of eterni- 
ty will always amaze them, and will sink and depress them to 
a bottomless depth of despair. 

S. The third reason given in the text, why fearfulness 
will surprise them at the apprehension of this punishment, is, 
that they will know that they shall not be able to bear it. 
When they shall see themselves going into that devouring 
fire, they will know that they are not able to bear it. They 
will know that they are not able to grapple with the fierceness 
and rage of those flames ; for they will see the fierceness of 
the wrath of God in them ; they will see an awful manifesta- 
tion of Omnipotence in the fuiy of that glowing furnace. And 
in those views their hearts will utterly fail them ; their hands 
will not be strong, nor their hearts endure. They will see 
that their strength is -weakness ; they will know that they 
will not be able to grapple with such torments, and that they 
can do nothing in such a conflict. 

When they shall have come to the edge of the pit, and of 
the burning lake, and shall look into the furnace, then they 
will cry out with exclamations like these : O ! what shall I 
do ? How shall I bear the torments of this fire ? How can I 
endure them ? Who can endure ? Where is the man so stout- 
hearted, where is the giant of such strength and such cour- 
age, that he can bear this ? O ! what shall I do ? Must I be 
cast in thither ? I cannot bear it ; I can never endure it. O 
that I could return to my first nothing ! How cm I endure it 
one moment ? How much less can I endure it for ever and 


ever ? And must I bear it forever ? What ! Forever and ev- 
er, without any end, and never find any refuge, never be suf- 
fered to return to my first nothing, and be no nearer to the 
end of these sufferings alter millions of ages ? O what dismal 
shrieks, and shaking of loins, and gnashing of teeth, will there 
be then ! No wonder that fearfulness willthen surprise the 

I come now, 

IV. To show, why it will be especially thus with the sin- 
ners in Zion, or sinners that dwell among God's visible peo- 
ple, who sit under the preaching of the gospel, and have the 
offers of a Saviour, and yet accept not of him, but remain in 
an unconverted state. 

There will hereafter be a very great difference between 
them and other sinners ; a great difference between the most 
painted hypocrite of them all, and the drunkards, the adulter- 
ers, the Sodomites, the thieves, and murderers among the 
Heathen, who sin against only the light of nature. The fear- 
fulness which will surprise them, although it will be very 
dreadful, yet will be in no measure so amazing and horrible, 
as that which will seize the sinners in Zion. That fierceness 
and wrath of Almighty God, which they will suffer, will be 
mild and moderate in comparison with that which the sinners 
in Zion will suffer. 

The wrath of God is in his word manifested against the 
wicked Heathens ; but it is ten times as much manifested 
against those sinners who make the profession and enjoy the 
privileges of the people of God ; and yet remain enemies to 
God. Both the Old Testament and the New are full of ter- 
rible denunciations against such. Read the books of Moses, 
and read the prophets, and you will find them full of dreadful 
threatenings against such. Read over the history of Christ's 
life, and the speeches which he made when upon earth ; there 
you will see what woes and curses he frequently denounced 
against such. How often did he say, that it should be more 
tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the dav of judgment, 
Vol. VIII. X 


than for the cities in which most of his mighty works vers? 
done ! Read over the history of the Acts of the Apostles, and 
their epistles ; there you will find the same. It is the sinners 
in Zion, or hypocrites, that are always in scripture spoken of 
as the people of God's wrath : Isa. x. 6. " I will send him 
against an hypocritical nation, against the people of my wrath 
will I give him a charge, to take the spoil." 

Now, the reasons of this are chiefly these : 

1. That they sin against so much greater light. This is 
often spoken of in scripture, as an aggravation to the sin and 
wickedness of sinners in Zion. He that knows not his Lord's 
will, and doeth it not, is declared not to be worthy of so many 
stripes, as he who, being informed of his Lord's will, is in 
like manner disobedient. If men be blind, they have com- 
paratively no sin ; but when they see, when they have light to 
know their duty, and to know their obligation, then their sin is- 
great, John ix. 41. When the light that is in a man is dark- 
ness, how great is that darkness ! And when men live in wick- 
edness, in the midst of great light, that light is like to be the 
blackness of darkness indeed. 

2. That they sin against such professions and vows. The 
Heathens never pretended to be the worshippers of the true 
God. They never pretended to be Christ's disciples ; they 
never came under any covenant obligations to be such. But 
this is not the case with sinners in Zion. Now, God highly- 
resents falsehood and treachery. Judas, who betrayed Christ 
with a kiss, was a greater sinner, and much more the object 
of God's wrath, than Pilate, who condemned him to be cruci- 
fied, and was his murderer. 

3. That they sin against so much greater mercy. They 
have the infinite mercy of God, in giving his own Son, often 
set before them : They have the dying love of Christ repre- 
sented to them : They have this mercy, this glorious Saviour, 
his blood and righteousness, often offered to them : They 
have a blessed opportunity to obtain salvation for their souls ; 
a great price is put into their hands to this end : They have 


that precious treasure, the holy scriptures, and enjoy Sabbaths, 
and sacraments, and the various means of grace : But all 
these means and advantages, these opportunities, offers, mer- 
cies, and invitations, they abuse, neglect, despise, and reject. 

But there is no wrath like that which arises from mercy 
abused and rejected, When mercy is in this way turned in- 
to wrath, this is the fiercest wrath ; in comparison with this, 
other wrath is cool. 

Sinners in Zion, beside their fall by the first Adam, have 
a fall also by the second: He is a stone of stumbling and a 
rock of offence, at which they stumble and fall ; and there is 
no fall like this ; the fall by the first Adam is light in compar- 
ison with it. 

On these accounts, whenever we see the day of judgment, 
as every one of us shall see it, we shall easily distinguish be- 
tween the sinners in Zion and other sinners, by their shriller 
cries, their louder, more bitter, and dolorous shrieks, the 
greater amazement of their countenances, and the more dis- 
mal shaking of their limbs, and contortions of their bodies. 

I shall conclude with an earnest exhortation to sinners 
in Zion, now to fly from the devouring fire and everlasting 

You sinners who are here present, you are the very per- 
sons spoken of in the text ; you are the sinners in Zion. How 
many of these people of God's wrath are there sitting here 
and there in the seats of this house at this time ? You have 
often been exhorted to fly from the wrath to come. This de- 
vouring fire, these everlasting burnings, of which we have 
been speaking, are the wrath to come. You hear to day of 
this fire, of these burnings, and of that fearfulness which will 
seize and surprise sinners in Zion hereafter ; and O what rea- 
son have you of thankfulness that you only hear of them, that 
you do not as yet feel them, and that they have not already 
taken hold of you ! They are, as it were, following you, and 
coming nearer and nerer every day. Those fierce flames are, 
i:s it were, already kindled in the wrath of God ; yea, the 


fierceness and wrath of Almighty Got! burn against you ; lti3 
ready for you : That pit is prepared for you, with fire and 
much wood, and the wrath of the Lord, as a stream of brim- 
stone, doth kindle it. 

Lot was with great urgency hastened out of Sodom, and 
commanded to make haste, and fly for his life, ar.d escape to 
the mountains, lest he should be consumed in those flames 
which burned up Sodom and Gomorrah. But that burning 
was a mere spark to that devouring fire, and those everlast- 
ing burnings, of which you are in danger. Therefore im- 
prove the present opportunity. 

Now, Gor! is pleased again to pour out his spirit upon us ; 
and he is doing great things among us. God its indeed come 
again, the same great God who so wonderfully appeared 
among us some years ago, and who hath since, for our sins, 
departed from us, left us so long in so dull and dead a state, 
and hath let sinners alone in their sins ; so that there have 
been scarcely any signs to be seen of any such work as conver- 
sion : That same God is now come again ; he is really come 
in like manner, and begins, as he did before, gloriously to 
manifest his mighty power, and the riches of his grace. He 
brings sinners out ot darkness into marvellous light. He res- 
cues poor captive souls out of the hands of Satan ; he saves 
persons from the devouring fire ; he plucks one and another 
as brands out of the burnings ; he opens the prison doors, and 
knocks off their chains, and brings out poor prisoners ; he is 
now working salvation among us from this very destruction of 
which you have now heard. 

Now, now, then, is the time, now is the blessed opportuni- 
ty to escape those everlasting burnings. Now God hath again 
set open the same fountain among us, and gives one more 
happy opportunity for souls to escape. Now he hath set open 
a wide door, and he stands in the door way, calling and beg- 
ging with a loud voice to the sinners of Zion : Come, saith 
he to me, come, fly from the wrath to come ; here is a refuge 
for you ; fly hither for refuge ; lay hold on the hope set be-» 
f6re you. 


A little while ago, it was uncertain whether we should ever 
see such an opportunity again. If it had always continued 
as it hath been for five or six years past, almost all of you 
would surely have gone to hell ; in a little time tearfulness 
would have surprised you, and you would have been cast into 
that devouring fire, and those everlasting burnings. But in 
infinite mercy God gives another opportunity ; and blessed 
are your eyes, that they see it, if you did but know your own 

You have had your life spared through these six years past, 
to this very time, to another outpouring of the Spirit. What 
would you have done, if you had died before it came? How 
doleful would your case have been ! But you have reason to 
bless God that it was not so, and that you are yet alive, and 
now again see a blessed day of grace. And will you not im- 
prove it ! Have you not so much love to your poor souls, as 
to improve such an opportunity as this ? 

Some, there is reason to think, have lately fled for refuge 
to Christ ; and will you be willing to stay behind still, poor 
miserable captives, condemned to suffer for ever in the lake 
of fire? Hereafter you will see those of your neighbors and 
acquaintance, who are converted, mounting up as with wings, 
with songs of joy, to meet their Lord ; and if you remain un- 
converted, you at the same time will be surprised with fear, 
and horror will take hold of you, because of the devouring fire, 
and the everlasting burningSi 

It is an awful thing to think of, that there are now some 
persons in this very congregation, here and there, in one seat 
and another, who will be the subjects of that very misery of 
which we have now heard, although it be so dreadful, although 
it be so intolerable, and although it be eternal ! There are 
probably some now hearing this sermon, whom the rest of the 
congregation will, at the day of judgment, see among the dev- 
ils, at the left hand of the Judge. They will see their fright- 
ed ghastly countenances ; they will see them wring their 
hands, and gnash their teeth, shrieking and crying out. 


Now we know not their names, we know not what seats 
they sit in, nor where to look for them, nor whom to pitch up- 
on. But God knowe-.Ii their names, and now seeth and know- 
elh what they think, and how much they regard the warnings 
which are given them this day. We have not the least reas- 
on to suppose any other than that some of you will hereafter 
see others entering into glory with Christ, and saints, and an- 
gels, while you, with dreadful orror, shall sec the fire begin 
to kindle about you. It may be, that the persons are now 
blessing themselves in their own hearts, and each one saying 
with himself, Well, I do not in, end it shall be I. Every one 
here hopes to go to heaven ; none would by any means miss 
of it. If any thought th«-y should miss of it, they would be 
grcutly amazed. But ai! will not go thither : it will undoubt- 
edly be the portion of so ne to toss and tumble forever among 
the fiery billows of God's wrath. 

It is not to be supposed; b it that there are some here who 
will not be in earnest ; let them have ever so good an oppor- 
tunity to obtain heaven, they will not thoroughly improve it. 
Tell them of hell as often as you will, and set it out in as live- 
ly colors as you will, they v\ ill be si ick and slothful ; and they 
■will never be likely to obtain ne^ven, while they are sleeping, 
and dreaming, and intending, and hoping. The wrath of 
God, which pursues them, will take them by the heels ; hell, 
that follows after, will overtake them ; tearfulness w r ill sur- 
prise them, and a tempest will steal them away. 

Nor is it to be supposed, that all who are now seeking will 
hold out ; some will backslide ; they will be unsteady. If 
now they seem to be pretty much engaged, it will not hold. 
Times will probably alter by and by, and they, having not ob- 
tained grace, there will be many temptations to backsliding, 
with which they will comply. The hearts of men are very 
unsteady; they are not to be trusted. Men cannot tell how 
to have patience to wait upon God ; they are soon discouraged. 
Some that are now under convictions may lose them. Per- 
haps they will not leave off seeking salvation at once ; but 
they will come to it by degrees. After a while, they will be- 


gin to hearken to excuses, not to be quite so constant in duty j 
they will begin to think that they need not be quite so strict ;. 
they will say to themselves, they see no hurt in such and such 
things ; they see not but they may practise them without any, 
or to be sure, great guilt. Thus giving way to tempta- 
tions, and hearkening to excuses, they will by degrees lose 
their convictions, and become secure in sin. 

There were some who were guilty of backsliding, the last- 
time of the revival of religion among us. While the talk up- 
on religious subjects was generally kept aiive, they continued 
to seek ; but when this began to abate, and they saw others 
less ze tlous than they had been, and especially when they saw 
some miscarriages of professors, they began to grow more 
careless, to seek less earnestly, and to plead these things as an 
excuse. And they are left behind still ; they are to this day 
in a miserable condemned state, in danger of the devouring 
fire, and of everlasting burnings ; in twice so dangerous a 
state as they were in before they were awakened ; and God 
only knows what will become of them. And as it was then, 
so we dread it will be now. 

Some who are now here present in a natural condition, are 
doubtless near death ; they have not long to live in the world ; 
and if they seek in a dull way, or if after they have sought for 
a while, they are guilty of backsliding, death will come upon 
them long enough before there will come such another oppor- 
tunity. When they leave off seeking, it will not be without a 
design of seeking again some time or other; but death will 
be too quick for them. It is not the manner of death to wait 
upon men, while they take lime to indulge their sloth, and 
gratify their lusts. When his appointed time comes, he will 
do his work. Will you put off in hopes of seeing another 
such time seven years hence ? Alas ! how many of those who 
are now in a natural condition may be in hell before another 
seven years shall have elapsed ! 

Therefore now let every one look to himself. It is for 
your own soul's salvation. If you be foolish, and will not 
hearken to counsel, will not improve the opportunity when kfc 


is given you, and will not enter into such an open door, you 
alone must bear it. If you shall miss this opportunity, and 
quench your convictions now, and there shall come another 
time of the outpouring of the Spirit, you will be far less likely 
to have any profit by it ; as we see now God chiefly moves on 
the hearts of those who are very young, who are brought for- 
ward upon the stage of action since the last outpouring of the 
Spirit, who were not then come to years of so much under- 
standing, and consequently not so much in the way of the in- 
fluences of the Spirit. As to those who were grown up, and 
had convictions then, and quenched them, the most of these 
are abundantly more hardened, and seem to be more passed 
over. So it will probably be with you hereafter, if you miss 
this opportunity, and quench the convictions of the Spirit 
which you have now. 

As to you who had awakenings the last time of the out- 
pouring of the Spirit, and have quenched them, and remain to 
this day in a natural condition, let me call upon you also now 
that God is giving you one more such opportunity. If passing 
in impenitence through one such opportunity hath so harden- 
ed you, and hath been such a great disadvantage to you, how 
sad will your case be, if you shall now miss another 1 Will 
you not now thoroughly awake out of sleep, bestir yourselves 
for your salvation, and resolve now to begin again, and never 
leave off more ? Many fled for refuge from the devouring fire 
before, and you were left behind. Others have fled for refuge 
now, and still you are left behind ; and will you always re- 
main behind ? Consider, can you dwell with devouring fire ! 
Can you dwell with everlasting burnings ? Shall children, 
babes and sucklings, go into the kingdom of God before ycu ? 

How will you hereafter bear to see them coming and sit- 
ting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of 
God, when yourselves are thrust out, and arc surprised with 
fearlulncss at the sight of that devouring fire, unci those ever- 
lasting burnings, into which you are about to be cast ? Take 
heed lest a like threatening be fulfilled upon you with that 
which, wc have in Numb. ariy. 22, 23. " ilecause all those 


men which have seen my glory, and my miracles which I did 
in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now 
these ten times, and have not heark.ned to my voice ; surely 
they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers ; 
neither shall any of them that provoked me see it." Togeth- 
er with verse 31. " But your little ones, which ye said should 
be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the landt 
which ye have despised." 

Vol. VUr. 


The Sin and Folly of depending on Future Time, 

PROVERBS xxvii. I. 


1 HE design of the wise man in this book of Proverbs, 
is to give us the precepts of true wisdom, or to teach us how 
to conduct ourselves wisely in the course of our lives. Wis- 
dom very much consists in making a wise improvement of 
time, and of the opportunities we enjoy. This is often in, 
scripture spoken of, as a great part of true wisdom ; as Deut. 
xxxii. 29. " O that they were wise, that they understood this, 
that they would consider their latter end 1" And, Psalm xc. 12. 
"Teach us so to number our days, that we may apply our 
hearts unto wisdom." So the wisdom of the wise virgins is 
represented as consisting much in this, that they improved the 
proper season to buy oil. 

Therefore the wise man in these books of Proverbs and 
Ecclesiastes, agreeably to his design, insists on this part of 
•wisdom. He tells us the advantage of seeking Christ early - 


Frov. viii. 17. And advises us to do what our hand find= 
eth to do, with our might : Eccles. ix. 10. He advises 
young people to remember their Creator in the days of their 
youth, while the evil days come not, in which they shall say 
they have no pleasure ; Eccles. xii. 1. So here in the text he 

advises us to a wise improvement of the present season 

In the words are two things to be particularly observed. 

1. The precept not to boast of tomorrow ; i. e. not to 
speak or act as though it were our own. It is absurd for men 
to boast of that which is not their own. The wise man would 
not have us behave ourselves as though any time were ours 
but the present. He that boasts of tomorrow, acts as though 
he had tomorrow in his possession, or had something whereby 
he might depend on it, and call it his own. 

2. The reason given for this precept ; for thou know- 


reason why we should not behave ourselves as though the 
morrow were our own, that indeed it is not our own ; we are 
not sure of it ; we have no hold of future time ; we know not 
whether we shall see the morrow : Or if we do know that we 
shall see it, we know not what we shall see on it. 


We ought to behave ourselves every day as though we had 
no dependence on any other day. 

In handling this doctrine, I shall (1.) briefly say something 
which may be needful to prevent misunderstanding. (2.) 
Show what is implied in this doctrine. (3.) Show when men 
behave themselves, as if they had dependence on another day. 
(4.) Show why this should be avoided. 

I. To prevent a misunderstanding of the doctrine, I ob- 
serve to you, that it is not meant, that we should in every re- 
spect behave as though we knew or concluded that we should 


not live another day. Not depending on another day, is a dif- 
ferent thing from concluding, that we shall not live another 
day. We may have reason for the one, and not for the other. 
We have good reason not to depend on another day, but we 
have no reason to conclude, that we shall not live another day. 
We may have no reason to depend upon another day, and so 
that may be one extreme. On the other hand, neither may 
we have any reason to depend upon it that we shall not enjoy 
another day, and therefoie that may be another extreme. 

In some respects we ought to carry ourselves, as though 
we knew we should not live another day, and should improve 
every day as if it were the last. Particularly, we should live 
every day as conscientiously and as holily as if we knew it were 
the last. We should be as careful every day to avoid all sin, 
as if we knew that that night our souls should be required of 
us. We should be as careful to do every duty which God re- 
quires of us, and take as much care that we have a good ac- 
count to give to our Judge, of our improvement of that day, as 
if we concluded that we must be called to give an account be- 
fore another day. 

But in many other respects, we are not obliged to behave 
ourselves as though we concluded that we should not live to 
another day. If we had reason to conclude that we should not 
live another day, some things would not he our duty which 
now are our duty. As for instance, in such a case it would 
not be the duty of any person to make provision for his tempo- 
ral subsistence during another day: To neglect which, as 
things now are, would be very imprudent and foolish, as the 
consequences would show, if every man were to act in this 
manner ; at this rate the whole world would presently mur- 
der itself. 

If so, it would never be man's duty to plow or sow the 
field, or to lay up for winter ; but these things are man's du- 
ty ; as Prov. vi. 6. " Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider 
her ways, and be wise : Which, having no guide, overseer, or 
ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathered) her- 
food in the harvest." And chap. x. 5. &c. " He that gather- 


eth in summer is a wise son ; but he that sleepeth in harvest, 
is a son that causeth shame." And many other places might 
be mentioned. 

So, on the other hand, if we were certain that we should 
not live another day, some things would be our duty today, 
which now are not so. As for instance, it would be proper 
for us to spend our time in giving our dying counsels, and in 
setting our houses in order. If it were revealed to us, that 
we should die before tomorrow morning, we ought to look 
upon it as a call of God to us, to spend the short remainder of 
our lives in those things which immediately concern our depar- 
ture, more than otherwise it would be our duty to do. 

But the words of the text, which forbid us to boast of to- 
morrow, cannot be extended so far as to signify, that we ought 
in all respects to live, as if we knew we should not sec 
another day. Yet they undoubtedly mean, that we ought not 
to behave ourselves in any respect, as though we depended on. 
another day. 

I now proceed, 

II. To show what is implied in the precept, Boast not thy f 
self of tomorrow, or in behaving ourselves every day as though 
we had no dependence on any other day. In this precept two 
things seem to be forbidden. 

1. Boasting ourselves of what shall be on the morrow, or 
behaving ourselves as though we depended on particular 
things to come to pass in this world, in some future time. As 
when men behave themselves, as though they depended on Joe- 
ing rich, or promoted to honor hereafter ; or as though tfiey 
were sure of accomplishing any particular design another day. 
So did the rich man in the gospel, when he did not only prom- 
ise himself, that he should live many years, but promised him- 
self also, that he should be rich many years. Hence he said 
to his soul, that he had much goods laid ufifor many years . 

And if men act as though they depended upon i t, that 
they should another day accomplish such and such things for 
their souls, then may they be said to boast themselves 5 of to- 


morrow, and not to behave themselves as though they dependr 
ed on no other day. As when they behave themselves, as 
though they depended upon it, that they should at another day 
have such and such advantages for the good of their souls ; 
that they should at another day have the strivings of God's 
spirit ; that they should at another day find themselves dis- 
posed to be thorough in seeking their salvation ; that they 
should at another day have a more convenient season ; and 
that God at another day would stand ready to hear their pray- 
ers, and show them mercy. 

Or if they act as though they depended upon it that they 
should have considerable opportunity on a death bed to seek 
mercy; or whatever they promise themselves shall come to 
pass respecting them in this world, if they act as depending 
en it, they boast themselves of tomorrow. 

2. Another thing implied, is our boasting of future time 
itself, or acting as though we depended on it, that we should 
have our lives continued to see another day. Not only is the 
command of God delivered in the text transgressed by those 
Yho behave themselves as depending upon it, that they shall 
see and obtain such and such things tomorrow ; but by those 
who act as depending upon it, that they shall remain in being 
in this world tomorrow. 

Both these ways of boasting of tomorrow are reproved by 
the Apostle James, chapter iv. 13. " Go to now, ye that say, 
Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue 
there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain." By promising 
themselves that they shall do such and such things, and that 
they shall get gain, they boast themselves of what shall come 
to pais in such a time. The apostle in the next verse teaches 
them, that they ought not to do this, no nor so much as depend 
Upon seeing another day, or on having their lives continued. 
Verse 14. u Whereas ye know not what shall be on the mor- 
row : lor what is your life ? It is even a vapor that appear- 
eth for a. little time, and then vanisheth away." And in verse 
1,5, he u aches us that both are uncertain and dependent on 
the wilLpf God, viz. Whether we shall live another day, and 


if we do, whether such and such things shall come to pass I 
"For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live; 
and do this or that." Therefore he adds in verse 16. " But 
now ye rejoice in your boastings : All such rejoicing is evil." 

I come now, 

III. To show more particularly, when men act as though 
they depended on another day. 

1. They will do so, if they set their hearts on the enjoy- 
ments of this life. I mean not, if they have any manner of 
affection to them. We may have some affection to the enjoy- 
ments of this world ; otherwise they would cease to be enjoy- 
ments. If we might have no degree of rejoicing in them, we 
could not be thankful for them. Persons may in a degree 
take delight in earthly friends, and other earthly enjoyments. 
It is agreeable to the wise man's advice that we should do so. 
Eccles. v. 18. " It is good and cimeiy for one to eat and to 
drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh un- 
der the sun." 

But by setting our hearts on these things, by placing our 
happiness in them, and letting out the current of our affec- 
tions a ter them, by turning and fixing our inclinations so 
much upon them, that we cannot well enjoy ourselves with- 
out them, so that very much of the strength of the faculties of 
our minds is employed and taken up ..bout these things, we 
show that we have our dependence on another day. 

The man who doth thus, acts as though he depended on 
another day, yea many other days, in the world : For it is 
most evident, that if the enjoyments of this world be of such a 
nature that they are not to be depended on for one day more, 
they are not worth the setling of our hearts upon them, 
or the placing of our happiness in them. We may rejoice in. 
the enjoyments of the world, but not in such a manner as to 
place the rest of our souls in them. As the apostle satin, we 
should rejoice in them, as though we rejoiced not, 1 Cor., 
vii. 30. So that if this joy should fall, our stock may hold 
good ; and in this case we must behave ourselves only as if 


-vve had lost a small stream of joy, but still had the fountain in 
full possession. We should conduct ourselves as those who 
have not the foundation of their joy shaken, though some ap- 
purtenances have failed. Our happiness as to the body of it. 
if I may so speak, should yet stand as on an immoveable 

They who exceedingly rejoice, and are very much pleased 
and elated with the enjoyments of the world, certainly behave 
themselves as though they had much dependence on their con- 
tinuance for more than one or two days more. 

They that addict themselves to vain mirth, and lead a jo- 
vial life, show that they set their hearts on the enjoyments of 
the world, and act as those who depend on more days than the 
present. For if they were sensible that they could not depend 
on any future time, but that death would put an eternal end to 
all their carnal mirth before tomorrow, they would have no 
heart to spend the present day in such a manner as they now 
do- It would immediately produce in them a sober soiid dis- 
position, far from levity and vanity. 

And when persons are very much sunk with the loss of 
any temporal enjoyments, or with any temporal disappoint- 
ments, it shows that they set their hearts upon them, and be- 
have as though they boasted of tomorrow, and depended on 
their longer continuance in life. If they had no such depend- 
ence, they would not be frustrated in their dependence ; or 
they would not be overwhelmed by their frustration. If they 
be very much sunk, and the comfort of their lives be destroy- 
ed by it, it shows that those temporal enjoyments were too 
much the foundation on which their comfort stood. That 
which makes a building totter, and threatens its destruction, is 
not the taking away of some of the exterior pans of the su- 
perstructure, but the removal of some considerable part of 
the foundation on which the house stands. 

2. If men are proud of their worldly circumstances, it 
shows that they have a dependence on tomorrow ; for no man 
would think it worth his while lo vaunt himself in that which 
is to be depended on only for a day. Though a man have a 


great estate today, he will not be puffed up with it, unless he 
depend upon having it tomorrow. A man who hath no de- 
pendence on any other but tha^ he! may tomorrow be in the 
grave, where the small and great ..re upon a level, Job iii. 19, 
will not be much lifted up with his advancement to a post of 

That person will not be proud of his rich and fine clothes, 
who is sensible that he cannot depend upon it, that he shall 
not be stripped by death tomorrow, and sent naked out of the 
world, as he came naked into it. He will not today be very 
proud of his personal beauty, who hath no dependence on es- 
caping tomorrow that stroke of death which will mar all his 
beauty, and make that face which he now thinks so comely, 
appear ghastly and horrid ; when, instead of a ruddy and 
florid countenance, there will be blood settled, cold and con- 
gealed, flesh stiff and clayey, teeth set, eyes fixed and sunk 
into the head. Nor will he today very much affect to beau- 
tify and adorn with gaudy and flaunting apparel, that body 
concerning which he is sensible that he can have no depend- 
ence that it will not be wrapped in a winding sheet tomorrow, 
to be carried to the grave, there to rot, and to be covered and 
filled with worms. 

3. So when men envy others their worldly enjoyments, 
their wealth, or their worldly ease, or their titles and high 
places, or envy them their sensual pleasures, or any of their 
worldly circumstances, it shows that they set their hearts on 
the tilings of the world ; and that they are not sensible that 
these things are not to be depended upon for another day. If 
they were, they would not think them worth their envy. They 
would appear so worthless in their eyes, that they would not 
care who had them, nor who went without them. 

So when they contend about worldly possessions and en- 
joyments (as almost all the contentions that are in the world 
are about these things) it shows that they have dependence on 
tomorrow ; otherwise they ^ould not think the enjoyments of 
the world worth the contending about. They would be very 
much of the temper recommended by Jesus Christ, Matth. v. 

Vol. VIII. Z 


40. " He that ^ ill sue thee at the law, and take away thy coaf r 
let him have thy cloak also." 

4. Men behave themselves as if they depended on another 
day, ' hen they rest and are easy today, in a condition out of 
which they must be delivered before they die. When a man's 
mind is at ease and rest, there is something that he rests in ; 
that rest must have some foundation, either real or imaginary. 
But if the man be in a condition from which he is sensible 
he must some time or other be delivered, or be undone, it 
is impossible that he should rest in the thoughts of remain- 
ing in his condition always, and never being delivered from 
it; for no man is willing to be mined; no man can rest in 
that which he conceives to be connected with his own misery 
and undoing. 

Therefore, if he rest in such a condition for the present, 
it must be on a supposition, that he shall be delivered from 
it. If he rest in it today, it must be because he depends on 
being delivered another day, and therefore depends on seeing 
another day. 

We in this land generally profess, that as we are by na- 
ture, we are exposed to eternal death, and that therefore there 
is a necessity that we get out of a natural condition some time 
before we die. And those among us who are sensible that 
they have never passed through any such change as in scrip- 
ture is called a being born again, though they be not suffi- 
ciently convinced that there is any such place as hell, yet have 
a kind of belief of it ; at least they do not conclude, that there- 
is no such "place, and therefore cannot but be sensible that it 
would be dreadful to die unconverted. Therefore, if they 
be in a considerable degree of ease and quietness in the con- 
dition they arc in, it must be because they have a dependence 
on being delivered out of such a condition some time before 
they die. 

In as much as they are easy in remaining in such a condi- 
tion today, without any prospect of present deliverance, it 
shows plainly that they depend on another day. If they did 
£0t, they could have no manner of case or quietness in their 


spirits in remaining in a natural condition to the end of the 
present day ; because, if there be no grounds of dependence 
on any further opportunity than what they have today, then 
what they are exposed to, by missing the opportunity which 
they have today, is infinitely dreadful. 

Persons who are secure in their sins, under the light of 
the gospel, unless they be deceived with a false hope, are 
generally so because they boast themselves of tomorrow.... 
They depend on future opportunity ; they flatter themselves 
with hopes of living long in the world ; they depend on what 
shall come to pass hereafter ; they depend on the fulfilment 
of their good intentions as to what they will do at a more con- 
venient season. 

5. Men behave themselves as those who depend on anoth- 
er day, when they neglect any thing today which must be done 
before they die. If there be any thing, let it be what it will, 
which is absolutely necessary to be done some time before 
death, and the necessity of it be sufficiently declared and shown 
to the person for whom it is thus necessary, if he neglect set- 
ting about it immediately, sincerely, and with all his might, 
certainly it carries this face with it, that the man depends up- 
on its being done hereafter, and consequently that he shall 
have opportunity to do it. 

Because, as to those things which are absolutely necessary 
to be done, there is need, not only of a possibility of a future 
opportunity, but of something which is to be depended on, 
some good ground to conclude that we shall have future op- 
portunity ; therefore, whoever lives under the gospel, that 
doth not now this day thoroughly reform his life, by casting away 
every abomination, and denying every lust, and cloth not this 
day also apply himself to the practice of the whole of his duty 
towards God and towards man, and doth not now begin to 
make religion his mam business, he acts as one who depends 
on another day ; because he is abundantly taught that these 
things must be done before he dies. 

So those who have been seeking salvation for a great while, 
1 a dull, insincere, and slighty manner, and find no good ef- 


feet of it, huve abundant reason to conclude, that sometime 
before they die, they muit alter their hand, and must not only 
seek, but strive, to enter in at the si rait gate, and must be vio- 
lent for the kingdom of heaven ; and therefore, if they do not 
begin thus to change their hand today, they act as those who 
depend on another day. 

So those who have hitherto lived in the neglect of some 
particular known duty, whether it be the duty of secret pray- 
er, or the duty of paying some old debt, which they have 
long owed to their neighbor, or the duty of confessing some 
fault to a brother who hath ought against them, or the duty of 
making restitution for some injury which they have done 
their neighbor, they act as those who depend on another day. 
6. Men behave themselves as though they depended on 
another day, if they do that today which some time or other 
must be undone. There are many things done by men which 
must be undone by them. They must go back again from 
the way which they have gone, or they are ruined to all eter- 
nity. Therefore, in doing these things, they act as those 
who depend on future opportunity to undo them : As when a 
man cheats or defrauds his neighbor in any thing, he acts as 
one that boasts of tomorrow ; for he must undo what he doth 
before he dies ; he must some time or other make restitution, 
or divine justice, which oversees all things, and governs the 
whole world, and will see to it that right be done, will not let 
go its hold ot him. 

So when men hearken to temptation, and yield to the so- 
licitations of their lusts to commit any sin, they act as those 
who depend on another day. They do what must be undone. 
What they then do "must be undone by hearty and thorough 
repentance, or they are ruined and lost forever. The morsel 
they swallowed down, they must vomit up again So if per- 
sons have been seeking salvation for a time, and then aftei- 
wards arc guilty of backsliding, and turn back after then- 
hands have been put to the plough, they act as those who de- 
pend on another day. For what they now do, they must un- 
do some time or other ; they must go back again from their 


backsliding, and have all their work to do over again. And 
these things must be undone in this world, while men live •- 
for there will be no undoing of them afterwards ; thejr may 
be suffered for, but never can be undone. 

I come now, 

IV. To show why we ought not thus to boast ourselves of 
tomorrow ; but, on the contrary, to behave ourselves every 
day as though we had no dependence on mother day. And 
there is this plain and sufficient reason for it, viz. That we 
have no grounds of dependence on another day. We have 
neither any foundation to depend upon seeing any particular 
things come to pass another day, which we may hope or wish 
for, nor upon enjoying another day here in this world. We 
have nothing for a foundation of dependence that we shall not 
be in eternity before another day, as both reason and experi- 
ence show. 

We have no promise of God that we shall ever sec an- 
other day. We are in God's hands ; our lives are in his 
hands ; he hath set our bounds ; the number of our months 
and days is with him ; nor hath he told them to us. We see 
that the life of man at longest is very short, and that nothing 
is more uncertain ; and it is a thing universal among man- 
kind, that they know not the day of their death. We see that 
great natural abilities, and sharpness of wit, and clearness of 
discernment, do not help to any discovery in this matter. But 
wise and discerning men are as uncertain of the term of their 
lives as others. 

There are so many ways and means whereby the lives of 
men come to an end, that no circumstances in which a man 
can be are any security to him from death. That it is but 
a very little while till tomorrow, is no good ground of depend- 
ence that we shall live till then. We see that deaths as sud- 
den as our dying before tomorrow morning, are common in 
the world. We very often see or hear of sudden deaths. How 
many suddenly, in a few minutes, pass from a state of health 
to a state of death, in the day time, by several kinds of disease, 


which give no warning of their approach, and by many un- 
foreseen accidents ! How many go to bed, and to sleep, in 
health, and are found dead in their beds in the morning ! So 
that our present health is no good ground of dependence that 
we shall live to see another day. h 

That persons are now in youth, is no good ground of de- 
pendence upon another day ; for sudden, unexpected deaths 
are common even among those who are in the bloom of youth. 
Nor is it any ground of dependence in this case, that a man is 
of a more than ordinary healthy and strong constitution. It is 
found by experience, that such are liable to sudden death as 
well as others. Job xxi. 23. " One dieth in his full strength. 
His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with 

That persons have already lived to see a great many days, 
and that after they had been often in times past told, that 
they were uncertain of any future time ; or that persons have/ 
a strong desire to live longer ; or that they are now very un- 
prepared for death, both on temporal and spiritual accounts ; 
is no ground of dependence on another day. Death tarries 
for no man, but comes when and to whom he is sent, and 
strikes the deadly blow, whether the man be prepared or not. 

Again, that men have been very useful in their day, and 
that it is of great importance to their families and neighbors 
that they should live longer, is no ground of dependence. 
The most useful men are often cut down by death, in the 
midst of their usefulness. The same may be said, though we 
cannot see which way death should come at us before tomor- 
row. To how many accidents, to how many diseases are we 
liable, which may p ove fatal before tomorrow, which yet it is 
impossible fo: us to foresee ! So, if we be very careful of our 
lives, and our health, not to expose ourselves to any dangers, 
still this is no ground of dependence as to any future time. 
Death comes in many ways which were not thought of. Men 
foresee not the means of their death, any more than the fish 
securely swimming in the water foresees the net, or the bird 
that securely feeds upon the bait sees the snare. It is as the 


Wise man observes, in Eccles. ix. 12. "For man also know- 
eth not his time ; as the fishes that are taken in an e\ii net, 
and as the hirds that are caught in the snare ; so are t: e sons 
of men snared in an evii time, when it falicth suuutmy upon. 


I. I- shall improve this doctrine, by putting you all upon 
ex ling] .1 .<:i,es, whether you do not boast yourselves 
{>■ 6i ;ow, or whether you do not live in such a manner as 
you would not, were it not that you depend on future time 
and future opportunity in the world. Would not your be- 
havior be very di tie rent from whal it now is, if you every day 
lived and acted without any dependence on seeing one day 
more ? 

You cannot but acknowledge, every one of you, that it is 
mosi reasonable that you should live and net thus. If you 
should be particularly inquired of, you would doubtless own, 
and you cannot bin own, that you have no good ground of de- 
pendence on another day; arid therefore that you cannot act 
wisely any otherwise than in acting as one who hath no de- 
pendence on any such thing. 1 heretore inquire whether you 
act wisely and reasonably in this respect. 

1. Dw your hearts much more on this world, 

than you » ould, if you had no dependence on the morrow ? Is 
not the language of the rich man in the gospel, the secret 
language of your hearts ? " Soul, thou hast much goods laid 
up for many years," &e. Is not this the language of your 
hearts, with respect to what you have gotten already ; wl Ii 
makes you pi ce youi h ppiness so much in it ? And with 
respect to vt hat ol the world j on are seeking arid pursuing, is 
it not with a depend' nee on enjoying it for a great while, when 
you shall have obtained it ( A. : • air lands and oti s- 

se'ssions hich you have g bout to get, in your own 

imagination, Four's for a great while ? 


Would your mind be so filled up with thoughts and cares 
about these things, so much to the crowding out of things of 
another world ? Would you lay yourselves under so great 
disadvantages for your soul's good, by involving yourselves 
in worldly cares ; if you had no dependence on having any 
thing to do with these things for more than the present day ? 
If you did not depend on considerable more time in the 
World, would your inquiry be so much, What shall we eat, 
and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be cloth- 
ed ? And so little, How shall we make our calling and elec- 
tion sure ? How shall we be assured that we are upon a good 
foundation for another world, and that we are in such a state 
that death cannot hurt us ? How shall we be sure that we are 
ready to appear before the judgment seat of an heart search- 
ing God ? 

Would there be altogether so much of your time spent in 
laying up treasure on earth, and so little in hiving up treasure 
in heaven, that you might have store against the day of 
death, were it not that you put death at a distance ? Would 
you be so much raised at your temporal prosperity, and so 
much sunk when you meet with crosses and disappointments 
in your worldly affairs, if you did not think that continuance 
in the world is to be depended on for more days than the 

Let those who very much affect to adorn their bodies in 
gaudy apparel, inquire whether they would think it worth 
their while to spend so much time to make themselves fine, 
and to set themselves forth as gayer than others, if they 
really had no dependence that their bodies would be pre- 
served one day longer from being clasped in the cold arms 
of death ? 

2. Inquire whether you would not much less meddle with 
the concerns of others, and be much more employed with 
your own hearts, if each day you had no dependence on living 
another day. It you were sensible that you had no other day 
to depend upon than this day, you would be sensible that you 
had great affairs of your own to attend to. You wouM find H 


great deal of business to do at home concerning affairs between 
God and your own soul ; and considering that you cannot de- 
pend on another day, it would see u to you that you have but a 
short time in which to do it, and that therefore you have need 
to be much engaged in it. Y»u would say as Christ did, I 
must work while the day lasts, for the night cometh wherein 
no man can work. You would find so much to be done, and 
so much difficulty in doing it, that you would have little leis- 
ure, and little heart to intermeddle with the business of oth- 
ers. Your business would be confined to a much narrower 
compass, to a less circle than now it is. You would have so 
much to do at home in your closets, and with your own hearts, 
that you would find no occasion to go abroad for business to 
fill up your time. 

But the truth is, men conceive of a great deal of time 
which they have to be filled up, and hence they want business 
to fill it up : They depend on tomorrow, and the day follow- 
ing, and next month, and next year, yea many years to come. 
When they are young they depend on living to be middle 
aged, and when middle aged they depend on old age, and al- 
ways put far away the day of death. Let them be young or* 
old, there always seems to them to be a great vacancy between 
them and death ; hence they wander to and fro for business to 
fill up that vacancy. 

Whereas if they were sensible of the uncertainty of life, 
they would, in the first place, make sure of their own busi- 
ness ; the business of their own precious, immortal souls 
would be done, before they would attend much to the business 
of other people. They would have no desire or disposition 
to concern themselves with every private quarrel which 
breaks out in the neighborhood. They would not think it 
much concerned them to inquire into the matter, and to pass 
their censure on the affair. They would find something else 
to do, than to set by the hour together, discussing and censur- 
ing the conduct of such and such persons, gathering up or re- 
hearsing the stories which are carried about to the disad- 
vantage of this and that person. 
Vol. VIII. 2 A 


Wc seldom, if ever, see men who are upon sick beds, and' 
look upon themselves very dangerously sick, disposed to 
spend their time in this manner ; and the reason is, that they 
look upon it doubtful whether they shall live very long : 
They do not so much as others, depend on much time to 
spare ; hence their minds are taken up more about their 
own souls' concerns, than about the concerns of others. So it 
would be with persons in health, if their health did not make 
them depend on a great deal of time in the world. 

3. If you each day depended on no other day but the pres- 
ent, would you not engage and interest yourselves much less 
in party designs and schemes, than you are now wont to do ? 
Among a people divided into two parties, as this town hath 
been for a long time, there is commonly much done by the 
partizans in forming schemes of opposition to one another. 
There is always a strife, who shall get their wills and carry 
their point. This often engages them in open quarrels, and 
also in secret intrigues. That there is so much done in these 
things, is a certain evidence that they boast themselves of to- 
morrow, and put death at a distance. 

Men would certainly find themselves very much indispos- 
ed to such things, if they were so sensible of the uncertainty 
of life, as to depend on no other day than the present. It is 
therefore very proper, that you should every one examine 
yourselves in this particular, at this time. If it were really 
so with you, that you depended on no other day than the pres- 
ent, would your hearts be so much engaged in the strife be- 
tween the two parties, as they often are ? Would your spirits 
be so often raised and ruffled ? Would you go about with so 
much of a grudge and prejudice against such and such men ; 
harboring so much ol old leaven, which so often breaks out in 
heats of spirit; and as an old sore which was skinned over, 
but not cured, sets to raging, breaks open and runs, with a 
touch which would not have hurt sound flesh ? 

Commonly in the management of a strife between two 
parties there is a great deal of envy. When any who belong 
to one of the parties seem to prosper, the other party will en- 



vy them ; it is a grievous thing to them. So there is also 
much contempt ; when one of the parties gets the ascendant 
a little over the other, they are ready to make the utmost im- 
provement of it, and to insult the other party. 

There is commonly in such cases a great deal of mutual 
secret reproach. When those of one party get together then 
is the time to inveigh against those of the other party, and to 
set forth their injustice and their fraudulent practices. Then 
is the time for them to pass their censure on their words and 
actions. Then is the time to expose their own surmises and 
suspicions of what the other party intends, what it aims at in 
such and such things, what the purposes of individuals are, 
and what they suppose their scant actions are. 

Then is the time for all that are friends in the cause, and 
engaged in the same designs, to entertain one another by ridi- 
culing the words and actions of the other party, and to make 
themselves sport of their folly and their disappointments; and 
much is done at calling one another Rac a and fools, or oth- 
er names equivalent, if not much more than equivalent. Then 
is the time to lay their heads together, to plot and contrive 
how they shall manage such an affair so as to disappoint the 
other party, and obtain their own wills. 

Brethren, these things ought not so to be among a Christ- 
ian people ; especially among a people that has made the pro- 
fession which we have made. Nor would they be so if it were 
not for your dependence on much future time in the world. 
If you were so sensible of your continual liableness to death, 
that every day was the last you depended upon, these things 
certainly would not be so. For let us but consider what are 
the effects of death with respect to such things. It puts an 
end to party quarrels. Many men hold these quarrels as long 
as they live. They begin young, and hold on through many- 
great and sore afflictions and chastisements of Providence. 
The old sore remains, when the supporters of nature bow, 
and the eyes grow dim, and the hands tremble with age. But 
death, when that comes, puts an end to all their quarrelling in 
'his world. Death silences the most clamorous, and censori- 


ous, and backbiting tongue. When men are dead, they cease 
to lay schemes against those of another party : Death dashes 
all their schemes, so far as they have any concern in them. 
Psalm cxlvi. 4, " His breath goeth forth, he returneth to hie 
earth ; in that very day his thoughts perish. 

When men are dead, they cease to bite and devour others ; 
as it is said to have been of old a proverb among the Egyp- 
tians, Dead men dorft bile. There are many who will bite 
and devour as long as they live, but death tames them. Men 
could not be quiet or safe by them while alive, but none will be 
afraid of them when they shall be dead. The bodies of those 
that made such a noise and tumult when alive, when dead, lie 
as quietly among the graves of their neighbors as any others. 
Their enemies, of whom ihey strove to get their wills while 
alive, get their wills of them when they are dead. Nothing 
can please their enemies better than to have them out of their 
way. It suits them, that those who were so troublesome to 
them, are locked up safe in the close grave, where they will 
no mere stand in their way. 

After men are dead, there are no more effects of their 
pride, their craftiness, their hatred and envy. Eccles. ix. 6. 
« Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now per- 

The time will soon come, when as many of you wl "> arc 
now present, as have for many years been at times warmly 
contending one with another, will be very peaceable as to any 
quarrelling in this world. Your dead bodies will probably lie 
quietly together in the same burying place. If you do not 
leave off contending before death, how natural will it be for 
others to have such thoughts as these in their minds, when 
they shall come to see your dead corpses ; What ! Is this the 
man who used to be so busy in carrying on the designs of his 
party ? Oh, now he has done ; now he hath no more any part 
in any of these things ; now it doth not at all concern him, 
who get their wills, or what party is uppermost. We shail 
hear his voice no more in our .","•;; meetings,, lie will not sit 


any more to reproach and laugh at others, iie is gone to ap- 
pear before his Judge, and to receive according to his conduct 
in life. 

The consideration of such things as these would certainly 
have a mighty effect among us. If we did not put far away 
the day oi death, if all acted every day as not depending on any 
other day, we should be a peaceable, quiet people. 

4. Inquire whether or no you do not allow yourselves in 
some things, and endeavor to flatter yourselves that there is 
no evil in them, which you would by no means care to do if 
you hid not a dependence on living till tomorrow. It is very 
common among men, when thty are strongly enticed to some 
sinful practice, by their worldly interest, or by their carnal ap- 
petites, to pretend that tney do not think there is any evil in it ; 
when indeed they know better. The pretence they make use 
of for the present, to still the cry of their consciences, is no 
more than a pretence to serve a present turn. And it they 
expected to have their souls required of them that night, they 
would by no means dare to persist in the practice. 

Therefore examine the liberties you take by this test, 
What would you think of them, if you now should have the 
following news sent you by some messenger from heaven ; 
John or Thomas, (or whatever your name be,) this night thy 
soul shall be required of thee. How would such tidings strike 
you ! How would they alter the face of things ! Doubtless 
your thoughts would be very quick ; you would soon begin to 
reflect on yourselves, and to examine your past and present 
conduct. And in what coiors would these and those liberties 
which you now take, appear to you in the case now supposed ? 
Would you then be as full in i* as you are now, thai there is 
no evil in them ? Would you not be at all the less bold to go 
forward and meet death, for having continued in such prac- 
tices ? Would yo.; dare to commit such acts again before you 
should die, which now you say are lawful ? Would not the 
few hours which you would have to live, be at all the more un- 
comfortable to you, for having done such things ? Would you 
not presently wish that you had let them alone ? Yea, would 


they not appear frightful and terrifying like ghosts to you : 
If it be thus, it is a sign that the reason why you now allow 
yourselves in them, and plead for the lawfulness of them, is, 
that you put death at a distance, and depend on many other 
days in the world. 

5. Inquire whether you do not some things on the pre- 
sumption, that you shall hereafter repent of them. Is not this 
the very thing which causes you to dare to do such things as 
you do ? Is it not the very ground on which you venture so 
and so to gratify your lusts ? Let young people examine all 
their secret carriage ; what they do alone in the dark and in 
secret corners. God knoweth and your own hearts know, 
though men do not know. Put the question impartially to 
your own consciences ; is not this the very thing that gives 
you the courage to do as you do, that you hear that God is a 
very merciful God, and that he often of his sovereign mercy 
gives repentance of great sins, and even wilful sins, and in 
consequence of repentance forgives ? And so you hope that 
one day or other he will do so to you. You intend sometime 
hereafter earnestly to seek it ; and you hope you shall be 
awakened. And if you be very earnest, as you intend to be, 
you hope you shall be converted, and then you shall be for- 
given, and it will be as well as if you had never committed 
such sins. 

Tf this be the case, consider how you boast of tomorrow-, 
and foolishly depend on future opportunity to repent, as well 
as foolishly presume on the mercy of God to give you repent- 
ance, at the same time that you take a course to provoke God, 
forever to give you up to a sealed hardness and blindness, and 
to a most fearful damnation ; not considering that God will 
glorify his revenging justice as well as his mercy ; nor re- 
membering the sad example of Esau, " who for a morsel of 
meat, sold his birth right ; and afterwards, when he would 
have inherited the blessing, he was rejected : For he found no 
place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." 
Hcb. xii. 16, 17. 


6. Inquire whether you improve this day, as one who doth, 
not depend upon ever having opportunity to keep another Sab- 
bath, or hear another sermon. It appears from what hath 
been already said, that you have no grounds to depend on any 
more such opportunities. Now the day is present, and so 
you are in the better capacity to determine how it is with you. 
It is but for you to reflect upon yourselves, to look inward, 
and see how it is with you now at this present time And 
how is it ? Are you as strict and as diligent in keeping this 
Sabbath, watching your thoughts, keeping your hearts, striving 
in duties both public and private, and improving ordinances^ 
as might be expected of one who hath no dependence on ever 
enjoying such an opportunity any more ; one who doth not 
depend on ever setting foot again within the walls of God's 
house ? 

Do you hear this sermon with that attention, and care, and 
desire, and endeavor to improve it for your good, as you would, 
ifyoudidnot depend on ever hearing another sermon; or 
did not depend upon it that your bodies would not be in the 
grave, and your souls fixed in eternity, in their unalterable 
state, before the next Sabbath ? 

7. Are you careful to see to it that the grounds of your 
hope are good ? A man who hath an hope of being in a state 
of acceptance with God, but is not sure, if he had no depend- 
ence on any other day's opportunity of making it sure than to- 
day ; if he did not at all depend upon it, but that his hope 
must be tried before tomorrow, by the all seeing, heart search- 
ing God ; would be very strict in examining himself and 
searching the grounds of his hope, and would not rest in an 
uncertainty. He would be very thorough in informing him- 
self what might be depended on as good evidence of an inter- 
est in Christ, and what not; and would be exceedingly strict 
in searching his own heart, to see whether there were any 
thing in him that comes up to the requisites laid down in the 

If what appears hopeful in him were dim and obscure, he 
would set himself very earnestly to obtain that which would 


be more clear and manifest, and would cry earnestly to Gocl 
for it, and would apply himself to a diligent use of means in 
order to it. And good reason why ; for he depends on no 
other opportunity to make his calling and election sure, than 
what he hath today. Inquire therefore whether you be thus 
thorough in examining- your hope. And are you thus care- 
ful effectually to sec to it, that you are on a sure foundation ? 
If not, then you behave yourselves as those that depend on to- 

II. This doctrine may be improved in an use of exhorta- 
tion to all, to spend every day as not depending on any other 
day. It is certainly most reasonable that we should so do. 
God hath concealed from us the day of our death, without 
doubt, partly for this end, that we might be excited to be al- 
ways ready, and might live as those that are always waiting 
for the coming of their Lord, agreeably to the counsel which 
Christ gives us, Matth. xxiv. 42, 45, 44 : And chap. xxv. 13 : 
And Mark xiii. 32. Sec. 

That watchman is not faithful, who, being set to defend an 
house from thieves, or a city from an enemy who is at hand, 
will, at any hour, venture to sleep, trusting that the thief or the 
enemy will not come. Therefore it is expected of the watch- 
man, that he behave himself every hour of the night, as one 
who doth not depend upon it that the enemy will tarry until 
the next hour. Now, therefore, let me in Christ's name, re- 
new the call and counsel of Jesus Christ to you, to watch as 
those that know not what hour your Lord will come. Let me 
call upon those poor wretches who are hitherto in a natural 
condition, having never been born again. Depend not upon 
it, that you will not be in hell before tomorrow morning. 
You have no reason for any such dependence ; God hath not 
promised to keep you from it, or to withhold his wrath so 

How can you reasonably be easy or quiet for one day, or 
one night, in such a condition, when you know not but that 
your Lord will come this night, and what hour of the night 


you know not ? And it you should then be found as you now 
are, unregenerate, how unprepared would you be for his com- 
ing, and how fearful would be the consequence ! Be exhorted 
therefore, for your own sakes, immediately to awake out of 
sleep, and sleep no more, but watch henceforward, and im- 
prove the remainder of this day, and each of your days hence- 
forward, if you shall live to see any more days, as not depend- 
ing on any other day. 

Let me exhort every one, of whatever character, to have 
no dependence on any future time ; to keep every Sabbath as 
having no dependence on the opportunity to enjoy another 
Sabbath ; to hear every sermon, as if it were the last that you 
shall ever hear. And when you go into your closets, and ad- 
dress yourselves to your Father who seeth in secret, do it in 
no dependence on any future opportunity to perform the same 
duty. When any of you that are young go into company for 
your amusement and diversion, consider that that may be the 
last opportunity of the like nature that ever you may have. In. 
all your dealings with your neighbors, act as if you were nev- 
er to make another bargain. Behave in your families every 
day, as though you depended on no other, than to take your 

final leave of them before another day Here I shall offer 

you two motives. 

1. Consider, if you will hearken to this^counsel, how much 
it will tend to your safety and peace in life and death. It is 
the way really and truly to be ready for death ; yea to be fit to 
live or fit to die ; to be ready for affliction and adversity, and 
for whatever God in his providence shall bring upon you. It 
is the way to be in, not only an habitual, but actual prepared- 
ness for all changes, and particularly for your last change. 

It is the way to possess your souls in a serene and undis- 
turbed peace, and to enable you to go on. with an immoveable 
fortitude of soul, to meet the most frightful changes, to en- 
counter the most formidable enemies, and to be ready with 
unshaken confidence to triumph over death whenever you 
meet him ; to have your hearts fixed trusting in God, as one 
that stands on a firm foundation, and hath for his habitation 
Vol. VIII. 2 B 


the munition of rocks, that is not afraid of evil tidings, but- 
laughs at the fear of the enemy. It will be the way for you to 
possess that quietness and assurance spoken of, Isai. xxxii. 
17. " The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the ef- 
fect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." 

The servant who always stands watching, will not be at all 
surprised at the news that his Lord is coming. This will be 
the way for you to live above the fear of death. Yea, if heav- 
en and earth should shake, you may stand firm and unshaken, 
being settled on a rock, which cannot be removed, but abideth 
forever. O how happy are such persons, who have such 
safety and peace 1 What a blessed peace is that which arises 
from such a constant preparation for death ! How happy 
therefore is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, 
shall find so doing ! 

2. What dismal calamities and miseries mankind are sub- 
ject to for want of this, for want of behaving themselves every 
day as not depending on any fu'ure day ! The way of the 
world is, one day foolishly to depend on another, yea on many 
others. And what is the consequence ? Why, the conse- 
quence with respect to the bigger part of the world is, that 
they live all their days without any true peace or rest of soul. 
They are all their lifetime subject to bondage through fear of 
death. And when death sensibly approaches they are put in- 
to a terrible fright. They have a dismal view of their past 
lives; the ill improvement of their time, and the sins they 
have been guilty of, stand staring them in the face, and arc 
more frightful to them than so many devils. And when they 
look forward into that eternity whither they are going, how 
dismal is the prospect 1 O how do their hearts shrink at the 
thought of it ! They go before the judgment seat of God, as 
those that are dragged thither, while they would gladly, if 
they could, hide themselves in the caves and dens of the 

And what is worse yet than all the disquietude and terror 
of conscience in this world; the consequence of a contrary 
behavior, with respect to the bulk of mankind, is their eternal 


perdition. They flatter themselves, that they shall see an- 
other clay, and then another, and trust to that, until finally most 
of them are swallowed up in hell, to lament their folly to all 
eternity, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. 

Consider how it was with all the foolish virgins who trust- 
ed to the delay of the bridegroom's coming ; when he came 
they were surprised, and found unprepared, having no oil in 
their lamps at that time ; and while they went to buy, those 
who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the 
-door was shut against them, and they came afterwards crying 
In vain, Lord, Lord, o/ien to us. 


Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer, 

JOB xxvii. 10. 


V_,ONCERNING these words, I would observe, 
I. Who it is that is here spoken of, viz. the hypocrite ; as 
you may see, if you take the two preceding verses with the 
verse of the text. " For what is the hope of the hypocrite, 
though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul ? 
Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him ? Will 
he delight himself in the Almighty ? Will he always call up- 
on God ?" Job's three Mends, in their speeches to him, in- 
sisted much upon it, that he was an hypocrite. But Job, in 
this chapter, asserts his sincerity and integrity, and shows 
how different his own behavior had been from that of hypo- 
crites. Particularly he declares his stedfast and immoveable 
resolution of persevering and holding out in the ways of relig- 

* Dated June, 1740. 


ion and righteousness to the end ; as you may see in the six 
first verses. In the text, he shows how contrary to this sted- 
fastness and perseverance the character of the hypocrite is, 
who is not wont thus to hold out in religion. 

2. We may observe what duty of religion it is, with res- 
pect to which the hypocrite is decyphered in the text, and that 
is the duty of prayer, or calling upon God. 

3. Here is something supposed of the hypocrite relating 
to this duty, viz. That he may continue in it for a while ; he 
may call upon God for a season. 

4. Something asserted, viz. That it is not the manner of 
hypocrites to continue always in this duty. Will he always 
call upon God ? It is in the form of an interrogation ; but the 
words have the force of a strong negation, or of an assertion, 
that however the hypocrite may call upon God for a season, 
yet he will not always continue in it. 


However hypocrites may continue for a season in the duty 
of prayer, yet it is their manner, after a while, in a great meas- 
ure, to leave it off. 

In speaking upon this doctrine, I shall show, 

I. How hypocrites often continue for a season to call up» 
on God. 

II. How it is their manner, after a while, in a great meas- 
ure to leave off the practice of this duty. 

III. Give some reasons why this is the manner of hyp- 

I. I would show how hypocrites often continue for a sea- 
son in the duty of prayer. 


1. They do so for a while after they have received com- 
mon illuminations and affections. While they are under 
awakenings, they may, through fear of hell, call upon God, 
and attend very constantly upon the duty of secret prayer. 
And after they have had some melting affections, having their 
hearts much moved with the goodness of God, or with some 
affecting encouragements, and false joy and comfort ; while 
these impressions last they contiuue to call upon God in the 
duty of secret prayer. 

2. After they have obtained an hope, and have made pro- 
fession of their good estate, they often continue for a while in 
the duly of secret prayer. For a while they are affected with 
their hope : They think that God hath delivered them out of 
a natural condition, and given them an interest in Christ, thus 
introducing them into a state of safety from that eternal mis- 
ery which they lately feared. With this supposed kindness 
ofGodtothem, they are much affected, and often find in 
themselves for a while a kind of love to God, excited by his 
supposed love to them. Now, while this affection towards 
God continues, the duties of religion seem pleasant to them ; 
it is even with some delight that they approach to God in 
■their closets ; and for the present it may be, they think of no 
other than continuing to call upon God as long as they live. 

Yea, they may continue in the duty of secret prayer for a 
while after the liveliness of their affections is past, partly 
through the influence of their former intentions : They in- 
tended to continue seeking God always ; and now suddenly to 
leave off, would therefore be too shocking to their own minds ; 
and partly through the force of their own preconceived no- 
tions, and what they have always believed, viz. That godly 
persons do continue in religion, and that their goodness is not 
like the morning cloud. Therefore, though they have no 
love to the duty of prayer, and begin to grow weary of it, yet 
as they love their own hope, they are somewhat backward to 
take a course, which will prove it to be a false hope, and so 
deprive them of it. 


If they should at once carry themselves so as they have al- 
ways been taught is a sign of a false hope, they would scare 
themselves Their hope is dear to them, and it would scare 
them to see any plain evidence that it is not true. Hence, for 
a considerable time after the force of their illuminations and 
affections is over, and after they hate the duty of prayer, and 
would be glad to have done with it, if they could, without 
showing themselves to be hypocrites ; they hold up a kind of 
attendance upon the duty of secret prayer. This may keep 
up the outside of religion in them for a good while, and occa- 
sion it to be somewhat slowly that they are brought to neglect 
it. They must not leave off suddenly, because that would be 
too great a shock to their false peace. But they must come 
gradually to it, as they find their consciences can bear it, and 
as they can find out devices and salvos to cover over the mat- 
ter, and make their so doing consistent, in their own opinion, 
with the truth of their hope. But, 

II. It is the manner of hypocrites, after a while, in a great 
measure to leave off the practice of this duty. We are often 
taught, that the seeming goodness and piety of hypocrites is 
not of a lasting and persevering nature. It is so with respect 
to their practice of the duty of prayer in particular, and espe- 
cially of secret prayer. They can omit this duty, and their 
omission of it not be taken notice of by others, who know what 
profession they have made. So that a regard to their own 
reputation doth not oblige them still to practise it. If others 
saw how they neglect it, it would exceedingly shock their 
charity towards them. But their neglect doth not fall under 
their observation ; at least not under the observation of many. 
Therefore they may omit this duty, and still have the credit of 
being converted persons. 

Men of this character can come to a neglect of secret 
prayer by degrees without very much shocking their pe:>ce. 
For though indeed for a converted person to live in a great 
measure without secret prayer, is very wide of the notion they 
once had of a true convert ; yet they find means by degrees i» 


alter their notions, and to bring their principles to suit with 
their inclinations ; and at length they come to that, in their 
notions of things, that a man may be a convert, and yet live 
very much in neglect of this duty. In time, they can bring 
all things to suit well together, an hope of heaven, and an in- 
dulgence of sloth in gratifying carnal appetites, and living in a 
great measure a prayerless life. They cannot indeed sud- 
denly make these things agree ; it must be a work of time ; 
and length of time will effect it. By degrees they find out 
ways to guard and defend their consciences against those pow- 
erful enemies ; so that those enemies, and a quiet, secure 
conscience, can at length dwell pretty well together. 

Whereas it is asserted in the doctrine, that it is the man- 
ner of hypocrites, after a while, in a great measure to leave off 
this duty ; I would observe to you, 

1. That it is not intended but that they may commonly 
continue to the end of life in yielding an external attendance 
on open prayer, or prayer with others. They may common- 
ly be present at public prayers in the congregation, and also 
at family prayer. This, in such places of light as this is r 
men commonly do before ever they are so much as awakened. 
Many vicious persons, who make no pretence to serious relig- 
ion, commonly attend public prayers in the congregation, and 
also more piivate prayers in the families in which they live, 
unless it be when carnal designs interfere, or when their 
youthful pleasures and diversions, and their vain company 
call them ; and then they make no conscience of attending 
family prayer. Otherwise they may continue to attend upon 
prayer as long as they live, and yet may truly be said not to 
call upon God. For such prayer, in the manner of it, is not 
their own. They are present only for the sake of their credit, 
or in compliance with others. They may be present at these 
prayers, and yet have no proper prayer of their own. Many 
of those concerning whom it maybe said, as in Job xv. 4, That 
they cast off fear jwd restrain prayer be/art God, are yet fre- 
quently present at family and public prayers. 


2. But they in a great measure leave off the practice of 
secret prayer. They come to this pass by degrees. At first 
Jhey begin to be careless about it, under some particular 
temptations. Because they have been out in young company, 
or have been taken up very much with worldly business, they 
omit it once : After that they more easily omit it again. Thus 
it presently becomes a frequent thing with them to omit it ; 
and after a while, it comes to that pass, that they seldom at- 
tend it. Perhaps they attend it on Sabbath days, and some- 
times on other days. But they have ceased to make it a con- 
stant practice daily to retire to worship God alone, and to seek 
his face in secret places. They sometimes do a little to quiet 
conscience, and just to keep alive their old hope ; because it 
would be shocking to them, even after all their subtle dealing 
with their consciences to call themselves converts, and yet to- 
tally to live without prayer. Yet the practice of secret pray- 
er they have in a great measure left off. 

I come now, 

III. To the reasons why this is the manner of hypocrites. 

1. Hypocrites never had the spirit of prayer given them. 
They may have been stirred up to the external performance 
of this duty, and that with a great deal of earnestness and af- 
fection, and yet always have been destitute of the true spirit 
of prayer. The spirit of prayer is an holy spirit, a gracious 
spirit. We read of the spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. 
xii. 10. I will pour out on the house of David and the in- 
habitants of Jerusalem) the spirit of grace and supplications. 
Wherever there is a true spirit of supplication, there is the 
spirit of grace. The true spirit of prayer is no other than 
God's own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And 
as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God 
in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to 
converse with him by prayer. Therefore the Spirit is said to 
make intercession for the saints with groanings which cannot 
be uttered, Rom. viii. 26. 

Vol. VIII. 2 C 


Thc Spirit of God makes intercession for them, as it i€ 
that Spirit which in some respect indites their prayers, and 
leads them so and so to pour out their souls before God. 
Therefore the saints are said to worship God in the spirit ; 
Phil. iii. 3. We are the circumcision who worship God hi 
the Spirit ; and John iv. 23. The true worshippers worship 
the Father in spirit and in truth. The truly godly have the 
spirit of adoption, the spirit of a child, to which it is natural id 
go to God and call upon him, crying to him as to a father. 

But hypocrites have nothing of this spirit of adoption : 
They have not the spirit of children ; for this is a gracious 
and holy spirit, only given in a real work of regeneration. 
Therefore it is often mentioned as a part of the distinguish- 
ing character of the godly, that they call upon God, Psal. cxlv, 
18, 19. The Lord is nigh to them that call upon him, to all 
that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them 
that fear him ; he will also hear their ciy, and will save them. 
Joel ii. 32. It shall come to pass, that whosoever cidleth on 
the name of the Lord shall be delivered. 

It is natural to one who is truly born from above to pray to 
God, and to pour out his soul in holy supplications before his 
heavenly Father. This is as natural to the new nature and 
life as breathing is to the nature and life of the body. But 
hypocrites have not this new nature. Those illuminations 
and affections which they had, went away, and left no change 
of nature. Therefore prayer naturally dies away in them, 
having no foundation for the keeping of it up laid in the nature 
of the soul. It is maintained, while it is maintained, only by a 
certain force put upon nature. But force is not constant ; and 
as that declines, nature will take place again. 

The spirit of a true convert is a spirit of true love to God, 
and that naturally inclines the soul to those duties wherein it 
is conversant with God, and makes it to delight in approach- 
ing to God. But an hypocrite hath no such spirit. He is 
left under the reigning power of enmity against God, which 
naturally inclines him to shun the presence of God. 


The spirit of a true convert is a spirit of faith and reliance 
on the power, wisdom, and mercy of God, and such a spirit is 
naturally expressed in prayer. True prayer is nothing else 
but faith expressed. Hence we read of the jirayer of faith ; 
James v. 15. True Christian prayer is the faith and reliance 
of the soul breathed forth in words. But an hypocrite is with- 
out the spirit of faith. He hath no true reliance or depend- 
ence on God, but is really selfdependent. 

As to those common convictions and affections which the 
hypocrite had, and which made him keep up the duty of prayer 
for a while ; they not reaching the bottom of the heart, nor 
being accompanied with any change of nature, a little thing 
extinguishes them. The cares of the world commonly choke 
and suffocate them, and often the pleasures and vanities of 
youth totally put an end to them, and with them ends their 
constant practice of the duty of prayer. 

2. When an hypocrite hath had his false conversion, his 
wants are i 
from praying. It will give quite another turn to his mind, so 
that he will have no disposition to the practice of such a duty : 
It will be contrary to him. A man who knows that he lives in 
sin against God, will not be inclined to come daily into the 
presence of God ; but will racher be inclined to fly from his 
presence, as Adam, when he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, 
ran away from God, and hid himself among the trees of the 

To keep up the duty of prayer after he hath given loose to 
his lusts, would tend very much to disquiet a man's con- 
science. It would give advantage to his conscience to testify 
aloud against him. If he should come from his wickedness 
into the presence of God, immediately to speak to him, his 
conscience would, as it were, fly in his face. Therefore hyp- 
ocrites, as they by degrees admit their wicked practices, ex- 
clude prayer. 

5. Hypocrites never counted the cost of perseverance in 
seeking God, and of following him to the end of life. To con= 
tinue instant in prayer with all perseverance to the end of life, 
requires much care, watchfulness, and labor. For much op- 
position is made to it by the flesh, the world, and the devil ; 
and Christians meet with many temptations to forsake this 


practice. He that would persevere in this duty must be labo- 
rious in religion in general. But hypocrites never count the 
cost of such labor ; i. e. they never were prepared in the dis- 
position of their minds to give their lives to the service of 
Gccl, and to the duties of religion. It is therefore no great 
wonder they are weary and give out, after they have continued 
for a while, as their affections ai'e gone, and they find that 
prayer to them grows irksome and tedious. 

6. Hypocrites have no interest in those gracious promises 
which God hath made to his people, of those spiritual supplies 
which are needful in order to uphold them in the way of their 
duty to the end. God hath promised to true saints that they 
shall not forsake him ; Jer. xxxii. 40. I will put my fear in- 
to their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. He hath 
promised that he will keep them in the way of their duty; 
1 Thess. v. 23, 24. And the God of peace sanctify you whol- 
ly. And I pray God your spirit, soul, and body, be preserved 
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith- 
ful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. But hypocrites 
have no interest in these and such like promises ; and there- 
fore are liable to fall away. If God do not uphold men, there 
is no dependence on their stedfastness. If the Spirit of God 
depart from them, they will soon become careless and pro- 
fane, and there will be an end to their seeming devotion and 

May be in an use of exhortation, in two branches. 

I. I would exhort those who have entertained an hope of 
their being true converts, and yet since their supposed conver- 
sion have left off the duty of secret prayer, and do ordinarily 
;'.llo\v themselves in the omission of it, to throw away their 
hope. If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you 
o leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagina- 


vion that you are the children of God. Probably it will be a 
very difficult thing for you to do this. It is hard for a man to 
Eet go an hope of heaven, on which he hath once allowed him- 
self to lay hold, and which he hath retained for a considerable 
time. True conversion is a rare thing ; but that men are 
brought off from a false hope of conversion, after they are 
once settled and established in it, and have continued in it for 
some time, is much more rare. 

Those things in men, which, if they were known to oth- 
ers, would be sufficient to convince others that they are hypo- 
crites, will not convince themselves ; and those things which 
would be sufficient to convince them concerning others, and 
to cause them to cast others entirely out of their charity, will 
not be sufficient to convince them concerning themselves. 
They can make larger allowances for themselves than they 
can for others. They can find out ways to solve objections 
against their own hope, when they can find none in the like 
case for their neighbor. 

But if your case be such as is spoken of in the doctrine, it 
is surely time for you to seek a better hope, and another work 
of God's Spirit, than ever you have yet experienced ; some- 
thing more thorough and effectual. When you see and find 
by experience, that the seed which was sown in your hearts, 
though at first it sprang up and seemed flourishing, yet is 
withering away, as by the heat of the sun, oris choked, as 
with thorns ; this shows in what sort of ground the seed wag 
sown, that it is either stony or thorny ground ; and that there- 
fore it is necessary you should pass through another change, 
whereby your heart may become good ground, which sha!! 
bring forth fruit with patience. 

I insist not on that as a reason why you should not throw 
away your hope, that you had the judgment of others, that the 
change of which you were the subject was right. It is a small 
matter to be judged of man's judgment, whether you be ap- 
proved or condemned, and whether it be by minister or peo- 
ple, wise or unwise. 1 Cor. iv. 3. " It is a very small thing 
that I should be judged of you or of man's judgment." If 


your goodness have proved to be as the dooming cloud and 
early dew ; if you be one of those who have forsaken God, 
and left off calling upon his name, you have the judgment of 
God, and the sentence of God in the Scriptures against you, 
which is a thousand times more than to have the judgment of 
all the wise and godly men and ministers in the world in your 

Others, from your account of things, may have been 
obliged to have charity for you, and to think that, provided you 
Mere not mistaken, and in your account did not misrepresent 
things, or express them by wrong terms, you were really con- 
verted. But what a miserable foundation is this, upon which 
to build an hope as to your eternal state ! 

Here I request your attention to a few things in particular, 
which I have to say to you concerning your hope. 

]. Why will you retain that nope which by evident ex- 
perience you find poisons you ? Is it reasonable to think, that 
ail holy hope, an hope that is from heaven, would have such 
an influence ? No surely ; nothing of such a malignant influ- 
ence comes from that world of purity and glory. No poison 
groweth in the paradise of God. The same hope which leads 
men to sin in this world will lead to hell hereafter. Why 
therefore will you retain such an hope, of which your own ex- 
perience shows you the ill tendency, in that it encourages you 
to lead a wicked life ? For certainly that life is a wicked life 
wherein you live in the neglect of so well known a duty as that 
of secret prayer, and in the disobedience of so plain a com- 
mand of God, as tiiat by which this duty is enjoined. And is 
not a way of disobedience to God a way to hell ? 

If your own experience of the nature and tendency of 
your hope will not convince you of the falseness of it, what 
will ? Are you resolved to retain your hope, let it prove ever 
so unsound and hurtful ? Will you hold it fast till you go to 
hell with it ? Many men cling to a false hope, and embrace it 
so closely, that they never let it go till the flames of hell cause 
their arms to unclench and let go their hold. Consider how 


you will answer it at the day of judgment, when God shall call 
you to an account for your folly in resting in such an hope. 
Will it be a sufficient answer for you to say, that you had the 
charity of others, and that they thought your conversion was 
right ? 

Certainly it is foolish for men to imagine, that God had no 
more wisdom, or could contrive no other way of bestowing 
comfort and hope of eternal life, than one which should en- 
courage men to forsake him. 

2. How is your doing, as you do, consistent with loving 
God above all ? If you have not a spirit to love God above your 
dearest earthly friends, and your most pleasant earthly enjoy- 
ments ; the scriptures are very plain, and full in it, that you 
are not true Christians. But if you had indeed such a spirit, 
would you thus grow weary of the practice of drawing near to 
him, and become habitually so averse to it, as in a great meas- 
ure to cast off so plain a duty, which is so much the life of a 
child of God ? It is the nature of love to be averse to absence, 
and to love a near access to those whom we love. We love to 
be with them ; we delight to come often to them, and to nave 
much conversation with them. But when a person who hath 
heretofore been wont to converse freely with another, by de* 
grees forsakes him, gi'ows strange, and converses with him 
but little, and that although the other be importunate with him 
for the continuance of their former intimacy ; this plainly 
shows the coldness of his heart towards him. 

The neglect of the duty of prayer seems to be inconsistent 
with supreme love to God also upon another account, and that 
is, that it is against the will of God so plainly revealed. True 
love to God seeks to please God in every thing, and univer- 
sally to conform to his will. 

3. Your thus restraining prayer before God is not only in- 
consistent with the love, but also with the fear of God. It is 
an argument that you cast off fear, as is manifest by that text, 
Job xv. 4. " Yea, thou castcst off fear, and restrainest prayer 
before God." While you thus live in the transgression of so 
plain a command of God, you evidently show, that there is no 

Vol. VIII, 2 D 


fear of God before your eyes. Psal. xxxvi. 1. "The trans- 
gression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no 
fear of God before his eyes." 

4. Consider how living in such a neglect is inconsistent 
with leading an holy life. We are abundantly instructed in 
scripture, that true Christians do lead an holy life ; that with- 
out holiness no man shall see the Lord, Hcb. xii. 14 ; and 
that every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, 
even as Christ is pure, 1 John iii. 3. In Prov. xvi. 17, it is 
said, The Idghivaij of the upright is to depart from evil, i. e. it 
is, as it were, the common beaten road in which all the godly 
travel. To the like purpose is Isai. xxxv. 8. A highnvaij 
shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holi- 
ness ; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for 
those, i. e. those redeemed persons spoken of in the foregoing 
i r erses. It is spoken of inRom.viii. 1, as the character of 
all believers, that they walk not after the flesh, but after the 

But how is a life, in a great measure prayerless, consist- 
ent with an holy life ? To lead an holy life is to lead a life de- 
voted to God ; a life of worshipping and serving God ; a life 
consecrated to the service of God. But how doth he lead 
such a life who doth not so much as maintain the duty of 
prayer ? How can such a man be said to walk by the Spirit, 
and to be a servant of the Most High God ? An holy life is a 
life of faith. The life that true Christians live in the world, 
they live by the faith of the Son of God. But who can believe 
that that man lives by faith who lives without prayer, which 
is the natural expression of faith ? Prayer is as natural an ex- 
pression of faith as breathing is of life ; and to say a man lives 
a life of faith, and yet lives a prayerless life, is every whit as 
inconsistent and incredible, as to say, that a man lives without 
breathing. A prayerless life is so far from being an holy life, 
that it is a profane life : He that lives so, lives like an Hea- 
then, who calleth not on God's name ; he that lives a prayer- 
less life, lives without God in the world. 


5. If you live in the neglect of secret prayer, you show 
your good will to neglect all the worship of God. He that 
prays only when he prays with others, would not pray at all, 
were it not that the eyes of others are upon him. He that 
will not pray where none but God seeth him, manifestly doth 
not pray at all out of respect to God, or regard to his allseeing 
eye, and therefore doth in effect cast off all prayer. And he 
that casts off prayer, in effect casts off all the worship of God, 
of which prayer is the principal duty. Now, what a misera- 
ble saint is he who is no worshipper of God I He that casts off 
the worship of God, in effect casts off God himself: He re- 
fuses to own him, or to be conversant with him as his God. 
For ^he way in which men own God, and are conversant with 
him as their God, is by worshipping him. 

6. How can you expect to dwell with God for ever, if you 
so neglect and forsake him here ? This your practice shows, 
that you place not your happiness in God, in nearness to him, 
and communion with him. He who refuses to come and vis- 
it, and converse with a friend, and who in a great measure 
forsakes him, when he is abundantly invited and importuned 
to come ; plainly shows that he places not his happiness in 
the company and conversation of that friend. Now, if this be 
the case with you respecting God, then how can you expect 
to have it for your happiness to all eternity, to be with God, 
and to enjoy holy communion with him ? 

Let those persons who hope they are converted, and yet 
have in a great measure left off the duty of secret prayer, and 
whose manner it is ordinarily to neglect it, for their own sake 
seriously consider these things. For what will profit them 
to please themselves with that, while they live, which will 
fail them at last, and leave them in fearful and amazing disap- 
pointment ? 

It is probable, that some of you who have entertained a 
good opinion of your state, and have looked upon yourselves 
as converts ; but have of late in a great measure left off the 
duty of secret prayer ; will this evening attend secret prayer, 
and so may continue to do for a little while after your hearing 


this sermon, to the end, that you may solve the difficulty and 
the objection which is made against the truth of your hope. 
But this will not hold. As it hath been in former instances 
of the like nature, so what you now hear will have such effect 
upon you but a little while. When the business and cares of 
the world shall again begin to crowd a little upon you, or the 
next time you shall go out into young company, it is probable 
you will again neglect this duty. The next time afrolic shall 
be appointed, to which it is proposed to you to go, it is highly 
probable you will neglect not only secret prayer, but also fam- 
ily prayer. Or at least, after a while, you will come to the 
same pass again, as before, in casting off* fear and restraining 
prayer before God. 

It is not very likely that you will ever be constant and per- 
severing in this duty, until ycu shall have obtained a better 
principle in your hearts. The streams which have no springs 
to feed them will dry up. The drought and heat consume 
the snow waters. Although they run plentifully in the 
spring, yet when the sun ascends higher with a burning heat, 
they are gone. The seed that is sown in stony places, though 
it seem to flourish at present, yet as the sun shall rise with a 
burning heat, will wither away. None will bring forth fruit 
with patience, but those whose hearts are become good 

Without any heavenly seed remaining in them, men may, 
whenever they fall in among the godly, continue all their lives 
to talk like saints. They may, for their credit's sake, tell of 
what they have experienced : But their deeds will not hold. 
They may continue to tell of their inward experiences, and 
yet live in the neglect of secret prayer, and of other duties. 

II. I would take occasion from this doctrine to exhort all 
to persevere in the duty of prayer. This exhortation is much 
insisted on in the word of God. It is insisted on in the Old 
Testament; 1 Chron. xvi. 11. "Seek the Lord and his 
strength, seek his face continually. "....Isai. lxii. 7. " Ye that 
zr.ukc mention of the Lord, keep not silence ;" i. e. be not si- 


lent as to the voice of prayer, as is manifest by the follow jng 
words, " and give him no rest till he establish, and till he 
make Jerusalem a praise in the earth," Israel of old is re- 
proved for growing weary of the duty of prayer. Isai. xliii. 22. 
" But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob, thou hast been 
weary of me, O Israel." 

Perseverance in the duty of prayer is very much insisted 
on in the isew Testament ; as Luke xviii. at the beginning, 
" A man ought always to pray, and not to faint ;" i. e. not to 
be discouraged or weary of the duty ; but should always con- 
tinue in it. Again, Luke xxi. 36. " Watch ye theixfore, 
and pray always." We have the example of Anna the proph- 
etess set before us, Luke i. 36, &c- who, though she had lived 
to be more than an hundred yeurs old, yet never was weary of 
this duty. It is said, " She departed not from the temple, 
but served God, with fastings and prayers, night and day." 
Cornelius also is commended for his constancy in this duty. 
It is said, that he prayed to God always ; Acts x. 2. The 
Apostle Paul, in his epistles, insists very much on constancy 
in this duty ; Rom. xii. 12. " Continuing instant in prayer." 
Eph. vi. 18, 19. " Praying always with all prayer and suppli- 
cation in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perse- 
verance." Col. iv. 2. " Continue in prayer, and watch in the 
same." 1 Thess. v. 17. " Pray without ceasing." To the 
same effect the Apostle Peter, 1 Pet. iv. 7. " Watch unto 
prayer.".. ..Thus abundantly the scripture insists upon it, that 
we should persevere in the duty of prayer ; which shows 
that it is of very great importance that we should persevere. 
If the contrary be the manner of hypocrites, as hath been 
shown in the doctrine, then surely we ought to beware of this 

But here let the following things be p rticularly consider- 
ed as motives to perseverance in this duty. 

1. That perseverance in the way of duty is necessary t4 
salvation, and is abundantly declared so to be in the holy scrip- 
tures i as Isai, lxiy. 5. "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth 


and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy 
ways : Behold, thou art wroth, for we have sinned : In those 
is continuance, and we shall be saved." Heb.x. 58, 39. " Now 
the just shall live by faith : But if any man draw back, my soul 
hath no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw 
back unto perdition ; but of them that believe to the saving of 
the soul," Rom. xi. 22. " Behold therefore the goodness 
and severity of God : On them which fell, severity ; but to- 
wards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness ; other- 
wise thou also shalt be cut off.. ..So in many other places. 

Many, when they think they are converted, seem to im- 
agine that their work is done, and that there is nothing else 
needful in order to their going to heaven. Indeed persever- 
ance in holiness of life is not necessaiy to salvation, as the 
righteousness by which a right to salvation is obtained. Nor 
is actual perseverance necessary in order to our becoming in- 
terested in that righteousness by which we are justified. For 
as soon as ever a soul hath believed in Christ, or hath put 
forth one act of faith in him, it becomes interested in his right- 
eousness, and in all the promises purchased by it. 

But persevering in the way of duty is necessary to salva- 
tion, as a concomitant and evidence of a title to salvation. 
There is never a title to salvation without it, though it be not 
the righteousness by which a title to salvation is obtained. It 
is necessary to salvation, as it is the necessary consequence of 
true faith. It is an evidence which universally attends up- 
rightness, and the defect of it is an infallible evidence of the 
want of uprightness. Psal. exxv. 4, 5. There such as are 
good and upright in heart, are distinguished from such as fall 
away or turn aside : " Do good, O Lord, to those that are 
good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. As for 
such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead 
them forth with the workers of iniquity. But peace shall be 
upon Israel." It is mentioned as an evidence that the hearts 
of the children of Israel were not right with God, that they 
di'\ not persevere in the ways of holiness. PsaI. Ixxviii. £. 


«* A generation that set not their hearts aright, and whose 
spirit was not stedfast with God." 

Christ gives this as a distinguishing character of those 
that are his disciples indeed, and of a true and saving faith, that 
it is accompanied with perseverance in the obedience of 
Christ's word. John viii. 31. "Then said Jesus to those 
Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then 
are ye my disciples indeed." This is mentioned as a neces- 
sary evidence of an interest in Christ, Heb. iii. 14. " We are 
made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our 
confidence stedfast to the end." 

Perseverance is not only a necessary concomitant and evi- 
dence of a title to salvation ; but also a necessary prerequisite 
to the actual possession of eternal life. It is the only way to 
heaven, the narrow way that leadeth to life. Hence Christ 
exhorts the church of Philadelphia to persevere in holiness 
from this consideration, that it was necessary in order to her 
obtaining the crown. Rev. iii. 11. "Hold fast that which 
thou hast, that no man take thy crown." It is necessary, not 
only that persons should once have been walking in the way 
of duty, but that they should be found so doing when Christ 
cometh. Luke xii. 43. " Blessed is that servant whom his 
Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." Holding out to 
the end is often made the condition of actual salvation. Mat. 
x. 22. " He that endureth to the end, the same shall be sav- 
ed :" And Rev. ii. 10. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I 
will give thee a crown of life." 

2. In order to your own perseverance in the way of duty, 
your own care and watchfulness is necessary. For though it 
be promised that true saints shall persevere, yet that is no ar- 
gument that their care and watchfulness is not necessary in 
order to it ; because their care to keep the commands of God 
is the thing promised. If the saints should fail of care, watch- 
fulness, and diligence to persevere in holiness, that failure of 
their care and diligence would itself be a failure of holiness. 
They who persevere not in watchfulness and diligence, perse- 
vere not in holiness of life, for holiness of life very much con- 


sists in watchfulness and diligence to keep the commands of 
God. It is one promise of the covenant of grace, that the 
saints shall keep God's commandments. Ezek. xi. 19,20. 
Yet that is no argument that they have no need to take care 
to keep these commandments, or to do their duty. So the 
promise of God, that the saints shall persevere in holiness, is 
no argument that it is not necessary that they should take 
heed lest they fall away. 

Therefore the scriptures abundantly warn men to watch 
over themselves diligently, and to give earnest heed lest they 
fall away. 1 Cor. xv. 13. « Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, 
quit you like men, be strong." 1 Cor. x. 12. « Let him that 
thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." Heb.iii. 12, 
13, 14. " Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an 
evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living • >od ; but 
exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of 
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we 
are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of 
our confidence stedfast unto the end." Heb. iv. 1. "Let us 
therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his 
rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." 2 Pet. iii. 
17. " Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things be- 
fore, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the 
wicked, fall from your own stedfastness." 2 John v. 8. "Look 
to yourselves that we lose not those things which we have 
wrought, but that we receive a full reward." 

Thus you see how earnestly the scriptures press on 
Christians exhortations to take diligent heed to themselves 
that they fall not away. And certainly these cautions are not 
without reason. 

The scriptures particularly insist upon watchfulness in 
order to perseverance in the duty of prayer. Watch and pray, 
saith Christ ; which implies that we should watch unto pray- 
er, as the Apostle Peter says, 1 Pet. iv. 7. It implies, that 
we should watch against a neglect of prayer, as well as against 
other sins. The apostle, in places which have been already 

Ql toned, directs us to pray with all prayer, rjaiching there- 


unto with all perseverance, and to continue in prayer, and 
•match in the same. Nor is it any wonder that the apostles so 
much insisted on watching, in order to a continuance in pray- 
er with all perseverance ; for there are many temptations to 
neglect this duty ; first to be inconstant in it, and from time 
to time to omit it ; then in a great measure to neglect it. 
The devil watches to draw us away from God, and to hinder 
us from going to him in prayer. We are surrounded with 
one and another tempting object, business and diversion : 
Particularly we meet with many things which are great tempt- 
ations to a neglect of this duty. 

3. To move you to persevere in the duty of prayer, consid- 
er how much you always stand in need of the help of God. If 
persons who have formerly attended this duty, leave it off, the 
language of it is, that now they stand in no further need of 
God's help, that they have no further occasion to go to God 
with requests and supplications : When indeed it is in God 
we live, and move, and have our being. We cannot draw a 
breath without his help. You need his help every day, for 
the supply of your outward wants ; and especially you stand in 
continual need of him to help your souls. Without his pro- 
tection they would immediately fall into the hands of the dev- 
il, who always stands as a roaring lion, ready, whenever he is 
permitted, to fall upon the souls of men and devour them. If 
God should indeed preserve your lives, but should otherwise 
forsake and leave you to yourselves, you would be most mis- 
erable : Your lives would be a curse to you. 

Those that are converted, if God should forsake them, 
would soon fall away totally from a state of grace into a state 
far more miserable than ever they were in before their con- 
version. They have no strength of their own to resist those 
powerful enemies who surround them. Sin and Satan would 
immediately carry them away, as a mighty flood, if God should 
forsake them. You stand in need of daily supplies from God. 
Without God you can receive no spiritual light nor comfort, 
can exercise no grace, can bring forth no fruit. Without God 
your souls will wither and pine away, and sink into a most 

Vol. VIII. 2 E 


wretched state. You continually need the instructions and di- 
rections of God. What can a little child do, in a vast howling 
wilderness, without some one to guide it, and to lead it in the 
right way ? Without God you will soon fall into snares, and 
pits, and many fatal calamities. 

Seeing therefore you stand in such continual need of the 
help of God, how reasonable is it that you should continu- 
ally seek it of him, and perseveringly acknowledge your de- 
pendence upon him, by resorting to him, to spread your needs 

before him, and to offer up your requests to him in prayer 

Let us consider how miserable we should be, if we should 
leave off prayer, and God at the same time should leave off to 
take any care of us, or to afford us any more supplies of his 
grace. By our constancy in prayer, we cannot be profita- 
ble to God ; and if we leave it off, God will sustain no damage t 
He doth not need our prayers ; Job xxxv. 6, 7. But if God 
cease to care for us and to help us, we immediately sink : Wfe 
can do nothing : We can receive nothing without him. 

4. Consider the great benefit of a constant, diligent, and 
persevering attendance on this duty. It is one of the greatest 
and most excellent means of nourishing the new nature, and of 
causing the soul to flourish and prosper. It is an excellent 
mean of keeping up an acquaintance with God, and of grow- 
ing in the knowledge of God. It is the way to a life of com- 
munion with God. It is an excellent mean of taking off the 
heart from the vanities of the world, and of causing the mind 
to be conversant in heaven. It is an excellent preservative 
from sin and the wiles of the devil, and a powerful antidote 
against the poison of the old serpent. It is a duty whereby 
strength is derived from God against the lusts and corruptions 
of the heart, and the snares of the world. 

It hath a great tendency to keepthe soul in a wakeful frame, 
and to lead us to a strict walk with God, and to a life that shall 
be fruitful in such good works, as tend to adorn the doctrine - 
of Christ, and to cause our light so to shine before others, that 
they, seeing our good works, shall glorify our Father who is 
"n heaven. And if the duty be constantly and diligently at- 


-tended, it will be a very pleasant duty. Slack and slothful at- 
tendance upon it, and unsteadiness in it, are the causes which 
snake it so great a burden as it is to some persons. Their 
slothfulness in it hath naturally the effect to beget a dislike of 
the duty, and a great indisposition to it. But if it be constant- 
ly and diligently attended, it is one of the best means of lead- 
ing, not only a Christian and amiable, but also a pleasant life ; 
a life of much sweet fellowship with Christ, and of the abund- 
ant enjoyment of the light of his countenance. 

Besides, the great power which prayer, when duly attend- 
ed, hath with God, is worthy of your notice. By it men be- 
come like Jacob, who, as a prince, had power with God, and 
prevailed, when he wrestled with God for the blessing. See 
the power of prayer represented in James v. 16...... 18. By 

these things you may be sensible how much you will lose, if 
you shall be negligent of this great duty of calling upon God j 
and how ill you will consult your own interest by such a neg- 

I conclude my discourse with two directions in order to 
constancy and perseverance in this duty. 

1. Watch against the beginnings of a neglect of this duty. 
Persons who have for a time practised this duty, and after- 
wards neglect it, commonly leave it off by degrees. While 
their convictions and religious affections last, they are very 
constant in their closets, and no worldly business,or company, 
or diversion hinders them. But as their convictions and af- 
fections begin to die away, they begin to find excuses to neg- 
lect it sometimes. They are now so hurried ; they have now 
such and such things to attend to ; or there are now such incon- 
veniences in the way, that they persuade themselves they may- 
very excusably omit it for this time. Afterwards it pretty 
frequently so happens, that they have something to hinder, 
something which they call a just excuse. After a while, a 
less thing becomes a sufficient excuse than was allowed to be 
such at first. Thus the person by degrees contracts more 
and more of an habit of neglecting prayer, and becomes more 
and more indisposed to it. And even when he doth perform 


it, it is in such a poor, dull, heartless, miserable manner, that 
he says to himself, he might as well not do it at all, as do it so. 
Thus he makes his own dulness and indisposition an excuse 
for wholly neglecting it, or at least for living in a great meas- 
ure in the neglect of it. After this manner do Satan and 
men's own corruptions inveigle them to their ruin. 

Therefore beware of the first beginnings of a neglect : 
Watch against temptations to it : Take heed how you begin 
to allow of excuses. Be watchful to keep up the duty in the 
height of it ; let it not so much as begin to sink. For when 
you give way, though it be but little, it is like giving way to an 
enemy in the field of battle ; the first beginning of a retreat 
greatly encourages the enemy, and weakens the retreating 

2. Let me direct you to forsake all such practices as you 
find by experience do indispose you to the duty of secret pray- 
er. Examine the things in which you have allowed yourselves, 
and inquire whether they have had this effect. You are able 
to look over your past behavior, and may doubtless, on an im- 
partial consideration, make a judgment of the practices and 
courses in which you have allowed yourselves. 

Particularly let young people examine their manner of 
comfiany keejwig, and the round of diversions in which, with 
their companions, they have allowed themselves. I only de- 
sire that you would ask at the mouth of your own consciences 
what has been the effect of these things with respect to your 
attendance on the duty of secret prayer. Have you not found 
that such practices have tended to the neglect of this duty ? 
Have you not found that after them you have been more indis- 
posed to it, and less conscientious and careful to attend it ? 
Yea have they not from time to time, actually been the means 
of your neglecting it ? 

If you cannot deny that this is really the case, then, if you 
seek the good of your souls, forsake these practices. What- 
ever you may plead for them, as that there is no hurt in them, 
or that there is a time for all things, and the like ; yet if you 
find this hurt in the consequence of them, it is time for you 


to forsake them. And if you value heaven more than a little 
worldly diversion ; if you set an higher price on eternal glory 
than on a dance or a song, you will forsake them. 

If these things be lawful in themselves, yet if your experi- 
ence show, that they are attended with such a consequence as 
I have now mentioned, that is enough. It is lawful in itself 
for you to enjoy your right hand and your right eye : But if, 
by experience, you find they cause you to offend, it is time for 
you to cut off the one, and pluck out the other, as you would 
rather go to heaven without them than go to hell v/ith them, 
into that place of torment where the worm dieth not, and the 
fire is not quenched. 


The Peace which Christ gives his true Followers, 

JOHN xiv. 27. 


1 HESE words are a part of a most affectionate and 
affecting discourse that Christ had with his disciples the same 
evening in which he was betrayed, knowing that he was to be 
crucified the next day. This discourse begins with the 31st 
verse of the xiiith chapter, and is continued to the end of the 
xvith chapter. Christ began his discourse after he had par- 
took of the passover with them, after he had instituted and ad- 
ministered the sacrament of the Supper, and after Judas was 
gone out, and none were left but his true and faithful disci- 
ples ; whom he now addresses as his dear children. This 
was the last discourse that ever Christ had with them before 
his death. As it was his parting discourse, and as it were his 
dying discourse, so it is, on many accounts, the most remark- 
able of all the discourses of Christ which we have recorded ii> 
our Bibles. 

* Dated August, 1750. 


It is evident this discourse made a deep impression on the 
minds of the disciples ; and we may suppose that it did so, in 
a special manner, on the mind of John, the beloved disciple, 
whose heart was especially full of love to him, and who had 
just then been leaning on his bosom. In this discourse Christ 
had told his dear disciples that he was going away, which filled 
them with sorrow and heaviness. The words of the text are 
some of the words which Christ said to comfort them, and to 
relieve their sorrow. He supports them with the promise 
of that peace which he would leave with them, and which 
they would' have in him and with him, when he was gone. 

This promise he delivers in three emphatical expressions, 
which illustrate one another. " Peace I leave with you.' 9 
As much as to say, though I am going away, yet I will not 
take all comfort away with me. While I have been with you> 
I have been your support and com fort, and you have had peace 
in me in the midst of the losses you have sustained, and troub- 
les you have met with in this evil generation. This peace I 
will not take from you, but leave it with you with great advan- 
tage, and in a more full possession. 

" My peace I give unto you." Christ, by calling it his; 
peace, signifies two things, 

1. That it was his own, that which he had to give. It war. 
the peculiar benefit that he had to bestow on his children ; 
now he was about to die and leave the world as to his human 
presence. Silver and gold he had none : For while in his es- 
tate of humiliation he was poor. The foxes had holes, and 
the birds of the air had nests ; but the Son of man had nor 
where to lay his head : Luke ix. 58. He had no earthly es- 
tate to leave to his disciples who were, as it were, his family : 
But he had peace to give them. 

2. It was his peace that he gave them ; as it was the same- 
kind of peace which he himself enjoyed. The same excel- 
lent and divine peace which he ever had in God, and which he 
was about to receive in his exalted state in a vastly greatei' 
perfection and fullness : For the happiness Christ gives to his 
people, is a participation of his own happiness; agreeable to 


what Christ says in this same dying discourse of his, chap.xv« 
II. " These things have I said unto you, that my joy might 
remain in you." And in his prayer that he made with his dis- 
ciples at the conclusion of this discourse. Chapter xvii. 13, 
u And now come I to thee, and these things I speak in the 
world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." 
And verse 22. " And the glory which thou gavest me, I have 
given them." 

Christ here alludes to men's making their wills before 
death. When parents are about to leave their children by 
death, they are wont, in their last will and testament, to give 
them their estate ; that estate which they themselves were 
wont to possess and enjoy. So it was with Christ when he 
was about to leave the world, with respect to the peace which 
he gave his disciples ; only with this difference, that earthly 
parents, when they die, though they leave the same estate to 
their children which they themselves heretofore enjoyed ; yet, 
when the children come to the full possession of it, they enjoy 
it no more ; the parents do not enjoy it with their children. 
The time of the full possession of parents and children is not 
together. Whereas with respect to Christ's peace, he did 
not only possess it himself before his death, when he bequeath- 
ed it to his disciples ; but also afterwards more fully ; so that 
they were received to possess it with him. 

The third and last expression is, " not as the world giveth, 
give I unto you." Which is as much as to say, my gifts and 
legacies, now I am going to leave the world, are not like those 
which the rich and great men of the world are wont to leave to 
their heirs, when they die. They bequeath to their children 
their worldly possessions ; and it may be, vast treasures of sil- 
ver and gold, and sometimes an earthly kingdom. But the 
thing that I give you, is my peace, a vastly different thing 
from what they are wont to give, and which cannot be obtain- 
ed by all that they can bestow, or their children inherit from 



That peace which Christ, when he died, left as a legacy 
to all his true saints, is very diverse from all those things 
which the men of this world bequeath to their children, when 
they die. 

- I. Christ at his death made over the blessings of the new 
covenant to believers, as it were in a will or testament. 

II. A great blessing that Christ made over to believers in 
this his testament was his peace. 

III. This legacy of Christ is exceeding diverse from all 
that any of the men of this world ever leave to their children 
when they die. 

I. Christ at his death made over the blessings of the new 
covenant to believers, as it were in a will or testament. 

The new covenant is represented by the apostle as Christ's 
last will and testament. Heb. ix. 15, 16. " And for this cause 
he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of 
death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were un- 
der the first testament, they which are called might receive 
the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament 
is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator." 
What men convey by their will or testament, is their own es- 
tate. So Christ in the new covenant conveys to believers his 
own inheritance, so far as they are capable of possessing and 
enjoying it. They have that eternal life given to them in 
their measure, which Christ himself possesses. They live- 
in him, and with him, and by a participation of his life. Be- 
cause he lives they live also. They inherit his kingdom ; the 
same kingdom which the Father appointed unto him. Luke 

Vol. VIII. 2 F 


xxii. 29. " And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father 
hath appointed unto me." They shall reign on his throne, 
Rev. iii. 21. They have his glory given to them, John xvii. 
And because all things are Christ's, so in Christ all things are 
also the saints,' I Cor. iii. 21, 22. 

Men in their wills or testaments most commonly give 
their estates to their children : So believers are in scripture, 
represented as Christ's children. Heb. ii. 13. " Behold, I, 
and the children which God hath given me." Men most 
commonly make their wills a little before their death : So 
Christ did, in a veiy special and solemn manner, make over 
and confirm to his disciples the blessings of the new covenant, 
on the evening before the day of his crucifixion, in that dis- 
course of which my text is a part. The promises of the new 
covenant were never so particularly expressed, and so sol- 
emnly given forth by Christ in all the time that he was upon 
earth, as in this discourse. Christ promises them mansions 
in his Father's house, chap. xiv. 1, 2, 3. Here he promises 
them whatever/ blessings they should need and ask in his. 
name. Chap. xv. 7. xiv. 23, 24. Here he does more sol- 
emnly and fully than any where else, give forth and confirm 
the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of the bless- 
ings of the covenant of grace. Chap. xiv. 16... .xvii. 26. ...xv. 
25....xvi. 7. Here he promises them his own and his Fath- 
er's gracious presence and favor. Chap. xiv. 18....xix. 20, 
21. Here he promises them peace in the text. Here he 
promises them his joy. Chap. xv. 11. Here he promises 
grace to bring forth holy fruits. Chap. xv. .1 1. And victory 
over the world. Chap. xvi. 33. And indeed there seems to 
be no where else so full and complete an edition of the cove- 
nant of grace in the whole Bible, as in this dying discourse of 
Christ with his eleven true disciples. 

This covenant between Christ and his children is like a 
will or testament also in this respect, that it becomes effectu- 
al by, and no other way than by, his death ; as the apostle ob- 
serves it is with a will or testament among men. For a tes- 
tament is of force after men are dead. Heb. ix. 17. For 


though the covenant of grace indeed was of force before the 
death of Christ, yet it was of force no otherwise than by his 
death : So that his death then did virtually intervene ; being 
already undertaken and engaged. As a man's heirs come by 
the legacies bequeathed to them no otherwise than by the 
death of the testator, so men come by the spiritual and eternal 
inheritance no otherwise than by the death of Christ. If it 
had not been for the death of Christ they never could have 
obtained it. 

II. A great blessing that Christ, in his testament, hath 
bequeathed to his true followers, is his peace. Here are two 
things that I would observe particularly, viz. That Christ 
hath bequeathed to believers true peace ; and then, that the 
peace he has given them is his peace. 

1. Our Lord Jesus Christ has bequeathed true peace and 
comfort to his followers. Christ is called the Prince of Peace. 
Isai. ix. 6. And when he was born into the world, the angels, 
on that joyful and wonderful occasion, sang, Glory to God in 
the highest, on earth peace ; because of that peace which he 
should procure for, and bestow on the children of men; peace 
with God, and peace one with another, and tranquillity and 
peace within themselves : Which last is especially the bene- 
fit spoken of in the text. This Christ has procured for his 
followers, and laid a foundation for their enjoyment of, in that 
he has procured for them the other two, viz. peace with God, 
and one with another. He has procured for them peace and 
reconciliation with God, and his favor and friendship ; in that 
he satisfied for their sins, and laid a foundation for the perfect 
removal of the guilt of sin, and the forgiveness of all their 
trespasses, and wrought out for them a perfect and glorious 
righteousness, most acceptable to God, and sufficient to re- 
commend them to God's full acceptance, and to the adop- 
tion of children, and to the eternal fruits of his fatherly kind- 

By these means true saints are brought into a state of free» 
lorn from condemnation, and all the curses of the law of God. 


Rom. viii. 34. " Who is he that condemneth ?" And by these 
means they are safe from that dreadful and eternal misery 
which naturally they are exposed to, and are set on high out 
of the reach of all their enemies, so that the gates of hell and 
powers of darkness can never destroy them ; nor can wicked 
men, though they may persecute them, ever hurt them.... 
Rom. viii. 31. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" 
Numb, xxiii. 8. " How shall I curse whom God hath not 
cursed !" Verse 23. " There is no enchantment against Ja- 
cob, neither is there any divination against Israel." By these 
means they are out of reach of death, John vi. 4....ix. 50, 51. 
" This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a 
man may eat thereof and not die." By these means death 
with respect to them has lost its sting, and is no more worthy 
of the name of death. 1 Cor. xv. 55. " O death where is thy 
sting ?" By these means they have no need to be afraid of 
the day of judgment, when the heavens and earth shall be dis- 
solved. Psal. xlvi. 1,2. " God is our refuge and strength, a 
very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, 
though the earth be removed ; and though the mountains be 
carried into the midst of the sea." Yea, a true saint has rea- 
son to be at rest in an assurance, that nothing can separate him 
from the love of God, Rom. viii. 38, 39. 

Thus he that is got into Christ, is in a safe refuge from 
every thing that might disturb him ; for this is that man 
spoken of, Isai. xxxii. 2. " And a man shall be as an hiding 
place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest: As riv- 
ers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a 
weary land " And hence they that dwell in Christ have that 
promise fulfilled to them which we have in the 18th verse of 
the same chapter. " And my people shall dwell in a peace- 
able habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting 

And the true followers of Christ have not only ground of 
rest and peace of soul, by reason of their safety from evil, but 
on account of their sure title and certain enjoyment of all that 
good which they stand in need of. living, dying, and through- 


out all eternity. They are on a sure foundation for happiness, 
are built on a rock that can never be moved, and have a foun- 
tain that is sufficient, and can never be exhausted. The cov- 
enant is ordered in all things and sure, and God has passed 
his word and oath, " That by two immutable things, in which 
it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong conso- 
lation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set be- 
fore us." The infinite Jehovah is become their God, who 
can do every thing for them. He is their portion who has an 
infinite fulness of good in himself. " He is their shield and 
exceeding great reward." As great a good is made over to 
them as they desire, or can desire or conceive of : Yea, as 
great and sweet as they are capable of; and to be continued 
as long as they desire ; and this is made as sure as they can 
desire : Therefore they have reason to put their hearts at 
rest, and be at peace in their minds. 

Besides, he has bequeathed peace to the souls of his peo- 
ple, as he has procured for them and made over to them, the 
spirit of grace and true holiness ; which has a natural ten- 
dency to the peace and quietness of the soul. It has such a 
tendency as it implies a discovery and relish of a suitable and 
sufficient good. It brings a person into a view of divine beau- 
ty, and to a relish of that good which is a man's proper happi- 
ness ; and so it brings the soul to its true centre. The soul 
by this means is brought to rest, and ceases from restlessly 
inquiring, as others do, who will shew us any good ; and wan- 
dering to and fro, like lost sheep, seeking rest, and finding 
none. The soul hath found him who is as the apple tree 
among the trees of the wood, and sits down under his shadow 
with great delight, and his fruit is sweet unto his taste. Cant. 
ii. 2. And thus is that saying of Christ fulfilled, John iv. 14. 
" Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, 
shall never thirst." And besides, true grace naturally tends 
to peace and quietness, as it settles things in the soul in their 
due order, sets reason on the throne, and subjects the senses 
and affections to its government, which before were upper- 
most, and put all things into confusion and uproar in the sou!. 


Grace tends to tranquillity, as it mortifies tumultuous desires 
and passions, subdues the eager and insatiable appetites of the 
sensual nature and greediness after the vanities of the world. 
It mortifies such principles as hatred, variance, emulation, 
wrath, envyings, and the like, which are a continual source 
of inward uneasiness and perturbation ; and supplies those 
sweet, calming, and quieting principles of humility, meek- 
ness, resignation, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and sweet 
reliance on God. It also tends to peace, as it fixes the aim of 
the soul to a certain end ; so that the soul is no longer dis- 
tracted and drawn contrariwise by opposite ends to be sought, 
and opposite portions to be obtained, and many masters of 
contrary wills and commands to be served ; but the heart is 
fixed in the choice of one certain, sufficient, and unfailing 
good : And the soul's aim at this, and hope of it, is like an 
anchor to it, that keeps it stedfast, that it should no more be 
driven to and fro by every wind. 

2. This peace, which Christ has left as a legacy to his 
true followers, is his peace. It is the peace which himself 
enjoys. This is what I take to be that which is principally 
intended in the expression. It is the peace that he enjoyed 
while on earth, in his state of humiliation ; Though he was a 
man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and was every 
where hated and persecuted by men and devils, and had no 
place of rest in this world ; yet in God, his Father, he had 
peace. We read of his rejoicing in spirit, Luke x. 21. So 
Christ's true disciples, though in the world they have tribula- 
tion, yet in God have peace. 

When Christ had finished his labors and sufferings, and 
rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, then he entered 
into his rest, and into a state of most blessed, perfect, and ev- 
erlasting peace : Delivered by his own sufferings from our 
imputed guilt, acquitted and justified of the Father on his rcs- 
tirrcction ; having obtained a perfect victory over all his ene- 
mies ; was received of his Father into heaven, the rest which 
he had prepared for him, there to enjoy his heart's desire 


fully and perfectly to all eternity. And then were those words 
in the first six verses of the 21st Psalm, which have respect 
to Christ, fulfilled. This peace and rest of the Messiah is. 
doubtless exceeding glorious. Isai. xi. 10. " And his rest 
shall be glorious." This rest is what Christ has procured, 
not only for himself, but also his people, by his death ; and 
has bequeathed it to them, that they may enjoy it with him, 
imperfectly in this world, and perfectly and eternally in an- 
other world. 

That peace, which has been described, which believers 
enjoy, is a participation of the peace which their glorious 
Lord and Master himself enjoys, by virtue of the same blood 
of Christ, by which Christ himself has entered into rest ; it is 
in a participation of this same justification ; for believers are 
justified with Christ. As he was justified when he rose from 
the dead, and as he was made free from our guilt, which he 
had as oursurety, so believers are justified in him and through 
him. It is as being accepted of God in the same righteous- 
ness : It is in the favor of the same God and heavenly Father 
that they enjoy peace. " I ascend to my Father and your 
Father, to my God and your God." It is in a participation of 
the same spirit ; for believers have the spirit of Christ. He 
had the spirit given to him not by measure, and of his fulness 
do they all receive, and grace for grace. As the oil, poured 
on the head of Aaron, went down to the skirts of his garments, 
so the spirit poured on Christ, the head, descends to all his 
members. It is partaking of the same grace of the spirit that 
believers enjoy this peace, John i. 16. 

It is as being united to Christ, and living by a participation 
of his life, as a branch lives by the life of the vine. It is as 
partaking of the same love of God. John xvii. 26. « That 
the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." It 
is as having a part with him in his victory over the same ene- 
mies : And also as having an interest in the same kind of eter- 
nal rest and peace. Eph. ii. 5, 6. " Even when we were dead 
in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.. ..and hath 


raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heav- 
enly places." 

III. This legacy of Christ to his true disciples is very di- 
verse from all that the men of this world ever leave to their 
children when they die. The men of this world, many of 
them, when they come to die, have great estates to bequeath 
to their children, an abundance of the good things of this 
world, large trad s of ground, perhaps in a fruitful soil, cover- 
ed with flocks and herds. They sometimes leave to their 
children stately mansions, and vast treasures of silver, gold, 
jewels, and precious things, fetched from both the Indies, and, 
from every side of the globe of the earth. They leave them 
wherewith to live in much state and magnificence, and make 
a great show among men, to fare very sumptuously, and swim 
in worldly pleasures. Some have crowns, sceptres, and pal- 
aces, and great monarchies to leave to their heirs. But nune 
of these things are to be .compared to that blessed peace of 
Christ which he has bequeathed to his true followers. These 
things are such as God commonly, in his Providence, gives 
his worst enemies, those whom he hates and despises most. 
But Christ's peace is a precious benefit, which he reserves for 
his peculiar favorites. These worldly things, even the best 
of them, that the men and princes of the world leave for their 
children, are things which God in his Providence throws out 
to those whom he looks on as dogs ; but Christ's peace is the 
bread of his children. All these earthly things are but empty 
shadows, which, however men set their hearts upon them, are 
not bread, and can never satisfy their souls ; but this peace of 
Christ is a truly substantial, satisfying food. Isai. Iv. 2. None 
of those things, if men have them to the best advantage, and 
in ever so great abundance, can give true peace and rest to 
the soul, as is abundantly manifest not only in reason, but ex- 
perience ; it being found in all ages, that those who have the 
most of them, have commonly the least quietness of mind. 
It is true, there may be a kin ieace they 

may have in their enjoyment cf worldly things ; men may 


bless their souls, and think themselves the only happy persons, 
and despise others ; may say to their souls, as the rich man 
did, Luke xii. 19. " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for 
many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." But 
Christ's peace, which he gives to his true disciples, vastly dif- 
fers from this peace that men may have in the enjoyments of 
the world, in the following respects : 

1. Christ's peace is a reasonable peace and rest of soul ; 
it is what has its foundation in light and knowledge, in the 
proper exercises of reason, and a right view of things ; where- 
as the peace of the world is founded in blindness and delusion. 
The peace that the people of Christ have, arises from their 
having their eyes open, and seeing things as they be. The 
more they consider, and the more they know of the truth and 
reality of things, the more they know what is true concerning 
themselves, the state and condition they are in ; the more they 
know of God, and the more certain they are that there is a 
God, and the more they know what manner of being he is, the 
more certain they are of another world and future judgment, 
and of the truth of God's threateningsand promises; the more 
their consciences are awakened and enlightened, and the 
brighter and the more searching the light is that they see 
things in, the more is their peace established : Whereas, on 
the contrary, the peace that the men of the world have in their 
worldly enjoyments can subsist no otherwise than by their be- 
ing kept in ignorance. They must be blindfolded and deceiv- 
ed, otherwise they can have no peace . Do but let light in up- 
on their consciences, so that they may look about them and see 
what they are, and what circumstances they are in, and it will 
at once destroy all their quietness and comfort. Their peace 
can live no where but in the dark. Light turns their ease in- 
to torment. The more they know what is true concerning 
God and concerning themselves, the more they are sensible of 
the truth concerning those enjoyments which they possess ; 
and the more they are sensible what things now are, and what 
things are like to be hcieaiter, the more will their calm be 
turned ( into a storm. The worldly man's peace cannot be 

Vol. VIII. 2 G 


maintained but by avoiding consideration and reflection. I? 
he allows himself to think, and properly to exercise his reas- 
on, it destroys his quietness and comfort. If he would estab- 
lish his carnal peace, it concerns him to put out the light of 
his mind, and turn beast as fast as he can. The faculty of 
reason, if at liberty, proves a mortal enemy to his peace. It 
concerns him, if he would keep alive his peace, to contrive all 
ways that may be, to stupify his mind and deceive himself, and 
to imagine things to be otherwise than they be. But with re- 
spect to the peace which Christ gives, reason is its great 
friend. The more this faculty is exercised, the more it is es- 
tablished. The more they consider and view things with 
truth and exactness, the firmer is their comfort, and the high- 
er their joy. How vast a difference is there between the 
peace of a Christian and the worldling! How miserable are 
they who cannot enjoy peace any otherwise than by hiding 
their eyes from the light, and confining themselves to dark- 
ness ; whose peace is properly stupidity ; as the ease that a 
man has who has taken a dose of stupifying poison, and the 
ease and pleasure that a drunkard may have in an house on 
fire over his head, or the joy of a distracted man in thinking 
that he is a king, though a miserable wretch confined in bed- 
lam : Whereas, the peace that Christ gives his true disciples, 
is the li^ht of life, something of the tranquillity of heaven, the 
peace of the celestial paradise, that has the glory of God to 
lighten it. 

2. Christ's peace is a virtuous and holy peace. The peace 
that the men of the world enjoy is vicious ; it is a vile stupidi- 
ty, that depraves and debases the mind, and makes men brut- 
ish. But the peace that the saints enjoy in Christ, is not only 
their comfort, but it is a part of their beauty and dignity. The 
Christian tranquillity, rest, and joy of real saints, are not only 
unspeakable privileges, but they are virtues and graces of 
God's Spirit, wherein the image of God in them does partly 
consist. This peace has its source in those principles that 
are in the highest degree virtuous and amiable, such as pover- 
ty of spirit, holy resignation, trust in God, divine love, meek- 


and charity ; the exercise of such blessed fruits of the 
spirit as are spoken of, Gal. v. 22, 23. 

3. This peace greatly differs from that which is enjoyed by 
the men of the world, with regard to its exquisite sweetness. 
It is a peace that passes all that natural men enjoy in worldly 
things so much, that it passes their understanding and concep- 
tion. Phil. iv. 7. It is exquisitely sweet, because it has so 
firm a foundation as the everlasting rock that never can be 
moved. It is sweet, because perfectly agreeable to reason. 
It is sweet, because it rises from holy and divine principles, 
that as they are the virtue, so they are the proper happiness 
of men. 

It is exquisitely sweet, because of the greatness of the ob- 
jective good that the saints enjoy, and have peace and rest in, 
being no other than the infinite bounty and fullness of that 
God who is the fountain of all good. It is sweet, on account 
of the fullness and perfection of that provision that is made 
for it in Christ and the new covenant, where there is a founda- 
tion laid for the saints' perfect peaces and hereafter they 
shall actually enjoy perfect peace ; and though their peace is 
not now perfect, it is not owing to any defect in the provision 
made, but in their own imperfection and miseiy, sin and dark- 
ness j and because as yet they do partly cleave to the world 
and seek peace from thence, and do not perfectly cleave to 
Christ. But the more they do so, and the more they see of 
the provision there is made, and accept of it, and cleave to that 
alone, the nearer are they brought to perfect tranquillity. 
Isaiah xxvi. 5. 

4. The peace of the Christian infinitely differs from that of 
the worldling, in that it is unfailing and eternal peace. That 
peace which carnal men have in the things of the world, is, ac- 
cording to the foundation it is built upon, of short continuance ; 
like the comfort of a dream, 1 John, ii. 17. 1 Cor. vii. 31, 
These things, the best and most durable of them, are like 
bubbles on the face of the water ; they vanish in a moment; 
H05. x, 7. 


But the foundation of the Christian's peace is everlasting ; 
it is what no time, no change, can destroy. It will remain 
when the body dies ; it will remain when the mountains de- 
part and the hills shall be removed, and when the heavens 
shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of his com- 
fort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be 
dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a 
well of water springing up to everlasting life. 


The use that I would make of this doctrine, is to improve 
it, as an inducement unto all to forsake the world, no longer 
seeking peace and rest in its vanities, and to cleave to Christ 
and follow him. Happiness and rest are what all men are in 
pursuit of. But the things of the world, wherein most men 
seek it, can never afford it ; they are laboring and spending 
themselves in vain. But Christ invites you to come to him, 
and offers you this peace which be gives his true followers, 
that so much excels all that the world can afford. Isa. lv. 2,3. 

You that have hitherto spent your time in the pursuit of 
satisfaction and peace in the profit or glory of the world, or in 
the pleasures and vanities of youth, have this day an offer 
made to you of that excellent and evenasting peace and bless- 
edness, which Christ has purchased with the price of his own 
blood, and bestows only on those that are his peculiar favorites, 
his redeemed ones, that are his portion and treasure, the ob- 
jects of his everlasting love. As long as you continue to re- 
ject those offers and invitations of Christ, and continue in a 
Christlcss condition, you never will enjoy any true peace or 
comfort ; but in whatever circumstances you are, you will be 
miserable ; you will be like the prodigal, that in vain endeav- 
ored to fill his belly with the husks that the swine did eat : 
The wrath of God will abide upon, and misery will attend yen 
wherever you go, which you never will, by any means, be ablr. 


to escape. Christ gives peace to the most sinful and misera- 
ble that come to him. He heals the broken in heart and 
bindeth up their wounds. But it is impossible that they 
should have peace, that continue in their sins. Isa. lvii. 19, 
20, 21. There is no peace between God and them ; as they 
have the guilt of sin remaining in their souls, and are under 
the dominion of sin, so God's indignation continually burns 
against them, and therefore there is reason why they should 
travail in pain all their days. 

While you continue in such a state, you live in a state of 
dreadful uncertainty what will become of you, and in continual 
danger. When you are in the enjoyment of things that are 
the most pleasing to you, where your heart is best suited, and 
most cheerful, yet you are in a state of condemnation, hanging 
over the infernal pit, with the sword of divine vengeance 
hanging over your head, having no security one moment from 
utter and remediless destruction. What reasonable peace 
can any one enjoy in such a state as this. What does it signi- 
fy to take such an one and clothe him in gorgeous apparel, or 
to set him on a throne, or at a prince's table, and feed him. 
with the rarest dainties the earth affords ? And how misera- 
ble is the ease and cheerfulness that, such have ! What a poor 
kind of comfort and joy is it that such take in their wealth and 
pleasures for a moment, while they are the prisoners of divine 
justice, and wretched captives of the devil, and have none to 
befriend them or defend them, being without Christ, aliens 
from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the cover 
nant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the 
world ! 

I invite you now to a better portion. There are better 
things provided for the sinful miserable children of men. 
There is a surer comfort and more durable peace : Comfort that 
you may enjoy in a state of safety and on a suve foundation : 
A peace and rest that you may enjoy with reason and with your 
eyes open ; having all your sins forgiven, your greatest and most 
aggravated transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and buried as 


in the depths of the sea, that they may never be found mo*ej 
and being not only forgiven, but accepted to favor ; being the 
objects of God's complacence and delight ; being taken into 
God's family and made his children ; and having good evi- 
dence that your names were written on the heart of Christ be- 
fore the world was made, and that you have an interest in that 
covenant of grace that is well ordered in all things and sure ; 
wherein is promised no less than life and immortality, an in- 
heritance incorruptible and undefiled, a crown of glory that 
fades not away ; being in such circumstances, that nothing 
shall be able to prevent your being happy to all eternity; hav- 
ing for the foundation of your hope, that love of God which is 
from eternity unto eternity ; and his promise and oath, and his 
omnipotent power, things infinitely firmer than mountains of 
brass. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removedi 
yea, the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth- 
shall wax old like a garment, yet these things will never be 

In such a state as this you will have a foundation of peace 
and rest through all changes, and in times of the greatest up- 
roar and outward calamity be defended from all storms, and 
dwell above the floods. Psalm xxxii. 6, 7, and you shall be 
at peace with every thing, and God will make all his creatures 
throughout all parts of his dominion, to befriend you. Job v. 
19, 24. You need not be afraid of any thing that your ene- 
mies can do unto you, Psalm iii. 5, 6. Those things that now 
are most terrible to you, viz. death, judgment, and eternity, 
will then be most comfortable, the most sweet and pleasant 
objects of your contemplation, at least there will be reason 
that they should be so. Hearken therefore to the friendly 
counsel that is given you this day, turn your feet into the way 
of peace, forsake the foolish and live ; forsake those things 
-which are no other than the devil's baits, and seek after this 
excellent peace and rest of Jesus Christ, that peace of God 
which passes all understanding. Taste and see ; never was 
any disappointed that made a trial. Prov. xxiv. 13, 14. You 


•Will not only find those spiritual comforts that Christ offers 
you to be of a surpassing sweetness for the present, but they 
will be to your soul as the dawning light that shines more and 
more to I he perfect day ; and the issue of all will be your ar- 
rival in heaven, that land of rest, those regions of everlasting 
joy, where your peace and happiness will be perfect, without 
the least mixture of trouble or afiliction, and never be inter- 
rupted nor have an end. 


The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabhath* 

1 CORINTHIANS xvi. 1, 2. 


VV E find in the New Testament often mentioned a 
certain collection, which was made by the Grecian churches, 
for the brethren in Judea, who were reduced to pinching want 
by a dearth which then prevailed, and was the heavier upon 
them by reason of their circumstances, they having been from 
the beginning oppressed and persecuted by the unbelieving 
Jews....We have this collection or contribution twice mention- 
ed in the Acts, as in chapter xi. 28....31, and in chapter xxiv. 
17. It is also taken notice of in several of the epistles ; as 
Rom. xv. 26, and Gal. ii. 10. But it is most largely insisted 
on, in these two epistles to the Corinthians ; in this first epis- 
tle, chapter xvi. and in the second epistle, chapter viii. and ix. 


The apostle begins the directions, -which in this place he de- 
livers concerning this matter, with the words of the text..,. 
\\ herein we may observe, 

I. What is the thing to be done concerning which the 
apostle gives them direction, and that is, the making of a col- 
lection for the saints ; the exercise and manifestation of their 
charity towards their brethren, by communicating to them, 
for the supply of their wants ; which was by Christ and his 
apostles often spoken of and insisted on, as one main duty of 
the Christian religion, and is expressly declared to be so by 
the Apostle James, chap, i. 27. " Pure religion and undefiled 
before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction." 

2. We may observe the time on which the apostle directs 
that this should be done, viz. " on the first day of the week." 
By the inspiration of the Holy Ghost he insists upon it, that it 
be done on such a particular day of the week, as if no other 
day would do so well as that, or were so proper and fit a time 
for such a work. Thus, although the inspired apostle was 
not for making that distinction of days in gospel times, which 
the Jews made, as appears by Gal. iv. 10. " Ye observe days, 
and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I 
have bestowed upon you labor in vain ;" yet here he gives 
the preference to one day of the week, before any other, for 
the performance of a certain great duty of Christianity. 

3. It may be observed, that this is the direction which the 
apostle had given to other churches that were concerned in 
the same duty, upon this occasion : He had given direction 
to them also to do it on the first day of the week : " As I have 
given orders to the churches of 'ialatia, even so do ye." 
Whence we may learn, that it was nothing peculiar in the cir- 
cumstances of the Christians at Corinth, which was the rea- 
son why the Holy Ghost insisted that they i mi 
this duty on this day of the week. The apostli had given the 
like orders to the churches of Galatia. 

Vol. VIII. 2 H 


Now Galatia was far distant from Corinth ; the sea parted' 
them; and besides that, there were several other countries 
between them. Therefore it cannot be thought that the Ho- 
ly Ghost directs them to this time upon any secular account, 
having respect to some particular circumstances of the peo- 
ple in that city, but upon a religious account. In giving the 
preference to this day for such work, before any other day, 
he has respect to something which reached all Christians 
throughout the wide world, 

And by other passages of the New Testament, we learn 
that the case was the same as to other exercises of religion ; 
and that in the age of the apostles, the first day of the week 
was preferred before any other day, among the primitive 
Christians, and in churches immediately under the care of the 
apostles, for an attendance on the exercises of religion in gen- 
eral. Acts xx. 7. " Upon the first day of the week, when 
the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached un» 
to them." It seems by these things to have been among the 
primitive Christians in the apostles' days, with respect to the 
first day of the week, as it was among the Jews with respect 
to the seventh. 

We are taught by Christ, that the doing of alms and show- 
ing of mercy are proper works for the sabbath day. When 
the Pharisees found fault with Christ for suffering his disci- 
ples to pluck the ears of corn and eat on the sabbath, Christ 
corrects them with that, " I will have mercy and not sacri- 
fice," Matth. xii. 7. And Christ teaches that works of mercy 
are proper to be done on the Sabbath, in Luke xiii. 15, 16, and 
xiv. 5. These works used to be done on sacred festivals and 
days of 'ejoicing, under ii e<Jld Testament, as in Nchemiali's 
and Esther's time; i-ci). viii. 10, and Es'th. ix. 19,22. And 
Josefi/iua and Philo, two very noted Jews, who wrote not long 
after Christ's time, give an account that it was the manner 
among the Jews on the Sabbath, to make collections for sab- 
red and pious uses. 



It is the mind and will of God, that the first day of the 
%veek should be especially set apart among Christians, for re- 
ligious exercises and duties. 

That this is the doctrine which the Holy Ghost intended 
to teach us, by this and some other passages of the New Tes- 
tament, I hope will appear plainly by the sequel. This is a 
doctrine that we have been generally brought up in by the in- 
structions and examples of our ancestors ; and it is and has 
been the general profession of the Christian world, that this 
day ought to be religiously observed and distinguished from 
other days of .the week. However some deny it. Some re- 
fuse to take any notice of the day, or any way to difference it 
from other days. Others own, that it is a laudable custom of 
the Christian church, into which she fell by agreement, and 
by appointment of her ordinary rulers, to set apart this day 
for public worship. But they deny any other original to such 
an observation of the day, than prudential human appoint- 
ment. Others religiously observe the Jewish Sabbath, sup- 
pose that the institution of that is of perpetual obligation, and 
that we want foundation for determining that that is abrogated!, 
and another day of the week is appointed in the room of the 

All these classes of men say, that there is no clear revela- 
tion that it is the mind and will of God, that the first day of the 
week should be observed as a day to be set apart for religious 
•exercises, in the room of the ancient Sabbath ; which there 
ought to be in order to the observation of it by the Christian 
■church, as a divine institution. . They say, that we ought not 
to go upon the tradi ion of past ages, or upon uncertain and 
far fetched inferences from some passages of the h: f 

the New Testament, or upon some obscure and u< er lbl 
hints in the apostles' writings ; but that we ought to expect a 


plain institution ; which, they say, we may conclude God 
would have given us, if he had designed that the whole Christ- 
ian church, in all ages, should observe another day of the 
week for an holy Sabbath, than that which was appointed of 
old by plain and positive institution. 

r is undoubtedly true, that if this be the mind and 
will of God, he hath not left the matter to human tradition ; 
but hath so revealed his mind about it, in his word, that there 
is there to be found good and substantial evidence that it is his 
mind : And doubtless, the revelation is plain enough for 
them that have ears to hear ; thai is, for them that will justly 
exercise their understandings about what God says to them. 
No Christian, therefore, should rest till he has satisfactorily 
discovered the mind of God in this matter. If the Christian 
Sabbath he of divine institution, it is doubtless of great im- 
portance ro religion that it be well kept ; and therefore, that 
every Christian be well acquainted with the institution. 

If men only take it upon trust, and keep the first day of 
the week only because their parents taught them so, or be- 
cause they see others do so, and so they take it for certain that 
it is right ; they will never be "likely to keep it so conscicn 
tiously and strictly, as if they had seen with their own eyes, 
and had been convinced by seeing for themselves, good 
grounds in the word of God for their practice : And unless 
they do see thus for themselves, whenever they are negligent 
in sanctifying tiie Sabbath, or are guilty of profaning it ; their 
consciences will not have that advantage to smite them for it, 
as otherwise they would. And those who have a sincere de- 
sire to obey God in all things, will keep the Sabbath more 
carefully and more cheerfully, if they have seen and been con- 
vinced that therein they do what is according to the will and 
command of God, and w r hat is acceptable to him ; and will al- 
so have a great deal more comfort in the reflection upon their 
having carefully and painfully kept the Sabbath. 

Therefore, I design now, by the help of God, to show, that 
it is sufficiently revealed in the scriptures, to be the mind and 
will of God, that the first day of the week should be distin- 


guished in the Christian church from other days of the week, 
as a Sabbath, to be devoted to religious exercises. 

In order to this, I shall here premise, that the mind and 
will of God, concerning any duty to be performed by us, may 
be sufficiently revealed in his word, without a particular pre- 
cept in so many express terms, enjoining it. The human un- 
derstanding is the ear to which the word of Cod is spoken ; 
and if it be so spoken, that that ear may plainly hear it, it is 
enough. God is sovereign as to the manner of speaking his 
mind, whether he will speak it in express terms, or whether 
he will speak it by saying several other things which imply it, 
and from which we may, by comparing them together, plainly 
perceive it. If the mind of God be but revealed, if there be 
but sufficient means for the communication of his mind to our 
minds, that is sufficient ; whether we hear so many express 
words with our ears, or see them in writing with our eyes ; 
or whether we see the thing that he would signify to us, by 
the eye of reason and understanding. 

Who can positively say, that if it had been the mind of 
God, that we should keep the first day of the week, he would 
have commanded it in express terms, as he did the observa- 
tion of the seventh day of old ? Indeed, if God had so made 
our faculties, that we were not capable of receiving a revela- 
tion of his mind in any other way ; then there would have been 
some reason to say so. But God hath given us such under- 
standings, that we are capable of receiving a revelation, when 
made in another manner. And if God deals with us agreea- 
bly to our natures, and in a way suitable to our capacities, it is 
enough. If God discovers his mind in any way whatsoever, 
provided it be according to our faculties, we are obliged to 
obedience ; and God may expect our notice and observance 
of his revelation, in the same manner as if he had revealed it 
in express terms. 

I shall speak upon this subject under these two general 
propositions : 


1. It is sufficiently clear, that it is the mind of God, that 
one day of the week should be devoted to rest, and to religious 
exercises, throughout all ages and nations. 

2. It is sufficiently clear, that under the gospel dispensa- 
tion, this day is the first day of the week. 

I. Proposition. It is sufficiently clear, that it is the 
mind of God, that one day of the week should be devoted to 
rest, and to religious exercises, throughout all ages and na- 
tions ; and not only among the ancient Israelites, till Christ 
came, but even in these gospel times, and among all nations 
professing Christianity. 

1. From the consideration of the nature and state of man- 
kind in this world, it is most consonant to human reason, that 
certain fixed parts of time should be set apart, to be spent by 
the church wholly in religious exercises, and in the duties of 
divine worship. It is a duty incumbent on all mankind, in all 
ages alike, to worship and serve God. His service should 
be our great business. It becomes us to worship him with 
the greatest devotion and engagedness of mind ; and there- 
fore to put ourselves, at proper times, in such circumstances, 
as will most contribute to render our minds entirely devoted 
to this work, without being diverted or interrupted by other 

The state of mankind in this world is such, that we are 
called to concern ourselves in secular business and aftairs, 
which will necessarily, in a considerable degree, Ukc up the 
(thoughts and engage the attention of the mind. However 
some particular persons may be in such circumstances as to 
be more free and disengaged ; yet the state of mankind is 
such, ihat the bulk of them, in all ages and nations, are called 
ordinal ily to exercise their thoughts about secular affairs, and 
to follow worldly business, which, in its own nature, is remote 
from the sole nif duties of religion. 

; therefore most meet and suitable, that certain times 
should be set apart, upon which . a should be required. a 


throw by all other concerns, that their minds may be the 
more freely and entirely engaged in spiritual exercises, in the 
duties of religion, and in the immediate worship of God ; and 
that their minds being disengaged from common concerns, 
their religion may not be mixed with them. 

It is also suitable that these times should be fixed and set- 
tled, that the church may agree therein, and that they should 
be the same for all, that men may not interrupt one another ; 
but may rather assist one another by mutual example : For 
example has a great influence in such cases. Iftherebea 
time set apart for public lejoicing, and there be a general 
manifestation of joy, the general example seems to inspire 
men with a spirit of joy and mirth ; one kindles another. So, 
if it be a time of mourning, and there be general appearances 
and manifestations cf sorrow, it naturally affects the mind, it 
disposes it to depression, it casts a gloom upon it, and does as 
it were dull and deaden the spirits.. ..So, if a certain time be 
set apart as holy time, for general devotion, and solemn relig- 
ious exercises, a general example tends to render the spirit 
3erious and solemn. 

2. Without doubt, one proportion of time is better and 
fitter than another for this purpose. One proportion is more 
suitable to the state of mankind, and will have a greater ten- 
dency to answer the ends of such times, than another. The 
times may be too far asunder ; I think human reason is suffi- 
cient to discover, that it would be too seldom for the purposes 
of such solemn times, that they should be but once a year. 
So, I conclude, no body will deny, but that such times may be 
too near together to agree with the state and necessary affairs 
of mankind. 

Therefore, there can be no difficulty in allowing, that some 
certain proportion of time, whether we can exactly discover it 
or not, is really fittest and best ; and considering all things, 
considering the end for which such times are kept, and the 
condition, circumstances, and necessary affairs of met), and 
considering what the state of man is, taking one age and na- 
tion with another, that one proportion of time is more conve- 


nient and suitable than any other ; which God may know anc 
exactly determine, though we, by reason of the scantiness of 
our understandings, cannot. 

As a certain frequency of the returns ol these times may 
be more suitable than any other, so one length or continuance 
of the times themselves may be fitter than another, to answer 
the purposes of such times. If such times, when they come, 
were to last but an hour, it would not well answer the end ; 
for then worldly things would crowd too nearly upon sacred 
exercises, and there would not be that opportunity to get the 
mind so thoroughly free and disengaged from other things, 
as there would be, if the times were longer. But they being 
so short, sacred and profane things would be as it were mixed 
together. Therefore, a certain distance between these times, 
and a certain continuance of them when they come, is more 
proper than others ; which God knows and is able to deter- 
mine, though perhaps we cannot. 

5. It is unreasonable to suppose any other, than that God's 
working six days, and resting the seventh, and blessing and 
hallowing it, was to be of general use in determining this mat- 
ter, and that it is written, that the practice of mankind in gen- 
eral might some way or other be regulated by it. What 
could be the meaning of God's resting the seventh day, and 
hallowing and blessing it, which he did, before the giving of 
the fourth commandment, unless he hallowed and blessed it 
with respect to mankind ? For he did not bless and sanctify 
it with respect to himself, or that he himself and within him- 
self might observe it ; as that is most absurd. And it is un- 
reasonable to suppose that he hallowed it only with respect to 
the Jews, a particular nation, which rose up nbove two thous- 
and years after. 

So much therefore must be intended by it, that it was his 
mind, that mankind should, after his example, work six days, 
and then rest, and hallow or sanctify the next following ; and 
that they should sanctify every seventh day, or that the space 
between rest and rest, one hallowed time and another, among 
his creatures here upon earth, should be six days. So that it 


hence appears to be the mind and will of God, that not only 
the Jews, but men in all nations and ages, should sanctify one 
day in seven ; which is the thing we are endeavoring to 

4. The mind of God in this matter is clearly revealed in 
the fourth commandment. The will of God is there reveal- 
ed, not only that the Israelitish nation, but that all nations, 
should keep every seventh day holy ; or, which is the same 
thing, one day after every six. This command, as well as 
the rest, is doubtless everlasting and of perpetual obligation, 
at least, as to the substance of it, as is intimated by its being 
engraven on the tables of stone. Nor is it to be thought that 
Christ ever abolished any command of the ten ; but that there 
is the complete number ten yet, and will be to the end of the 

Some say, that the fourth command is perpetual, but not 
in its literal sense, not as designing any particular proportioa 
of time to be set apart and devoted to literal rest and religious 
exercises. They say, that it is abolished in that sense, and 
stands in force only in a mystical sense, viz. as that weekly 
l^est of the Jews typified spiritual rest in the Christian church. 
And so, they say, that we under the gospel, are not to make 
any distinction of one day from another, but are to keep all 
time holy, doing every thing in a spiritual manner. 

But this is an absurd way of interpreting the command, as 
it refers to Christians. For if the command be so far abol- 
ished, it is entirely abolished. For it is the very design of the 
command, to fix the time of worship. The first command 
fixes the object, the second, the means, the third, the manner, 
the fourth, the time. And, if it stands in force now only as 
signifying a spiritual, Christian rest, and holy behavior at all 
times, it doth not remain as one of the ten commands, but as a 
summary of all the commands. 

The main objection against the perpetuity of this com- 
mand is, that the duty required is not moral. Those laws 
whose obligation arises from the nature of things, and from 
the general state and nature of mankind, as well as from God's 
Vol.. VIIT. 2 I 


positive revealed will, are called moral laws. Others, whose; 
obligation depends merely upon God's positive and arbitrary 
institution, are not moral ; such as the ceremonial laws, and 
the precepts of the gospel, about the two sacraments. Now, 
the objectors say, they will allow all that is moral in the deca- 
logue to be of perpetual obligation ; but this command, they 
say, is not moral. 

But this objection is weak and insufficient for the purpose 
for Avhich it is brought, or to prove that the fourth command, 
as to the substance of it, is not of perpetual obligation. For, 

(1.) If it should be allowed that there is no morality be- 
longing to the command, and that the duty required is found- 
ed merely on arbitrary institution, it cannot therefore be cer- 
tainly concluded that the command is not perpetual. We 
know that there may be commands in force under the gospel, 
and to the end of the world, which are not moral : Such are 
the institutions of the two sacraments. And why muy there 
not be positive commands in force in all ages of the church ? 
If positive, arbitrary institutions are in force in gospel times, 
what is there which concludes that no positive precept given 
before the times of the gospel can yet continue in force ? But, 

(2.) As we have observed already, the thing in general,, 
that there should be certain fixed parts of time set apart to be 
devoted to religious exercises, is founded in the fitness of the- 
thing, arising from the nature of things, and the nature and 
•universal state of mankind. Therefore, there is as much rea- 
son that there should be a command of perpetual and univer- 
sal obligation about this, as about any other duty whatsoever. 
For if the thing in general, that there be a time fixed, be 
founded in the nature of tilings, there is consequent upon it a 
necessity, that the time be limited by a command ; lor there 
must be a proportion of time fixed, or else the general mora! 
duty cannot be observed. 

(3.) The particular determination of the proportion of 
time in the fourth commandment, is also founded in the na- 
ture of things, only our understandings are not sufficient ab- 
solutely to determine it of themselves. We have observed 


already, that without doubt one proportion of time is in itself 
fitter than another, and a certain continuance of time fitter 
than any other, considering the universal state and nature of 
mankind ; which God may see, though our understandings 
are not perfect enough absolutely to determine it. So that 
the difference between this command and others, doth not lie 
in this, that other commands are founded in the fitness of the 
things themselves, arising from the universal state and na- 
ture of mankind, and this not : But only in this, that the fit- 
ness of other commands is more obvious to the understand- 
ings of men, and they might have seen it of themselves ; but 
this could not be precisely discovered and positively determin- 
ed without the assistance of revelation. 

So that the command of God, that every seventh day 
should be devoted to religious exercises, is founded in the 
universal state and nature of mankind, as well as other com- 
mands ; only man's reason is not sufficient, without divine di- 
rection, so exactly to determine it: Though perhaps man's 
reason is sufficient to determine, that it ought not to be much 
seldomer, nor much oftener than once in seven days, 

5. It further confirms it, that it is the mind and will of 
God, that such a weekly Sabbath should forever be kept, that 
God appears in his word as laying abundantly more weight on 
this precept concerning the Sabbath, than on any precept of 
the ceremonial law ; not only by inserting it in the decalogue, 
and making it one of the ten commands, which were deliver- 
ed by God with an audible voice, by writing it with his own 
finger on the tables of stone, which were the w r ork of God in, 
the mount, and by appointing it afterwards to be written on 
the tables which Moses made; but as the keeping of the 
weekly Sabbath is spoken of by the prophets, as that where- 
in consists a great part of holiness of life ; and as it is insert- 
ed among moral duties, as particularly in Isa. lviii. lj, 14. 
" If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy 
pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the 
holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing 
ibine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking 


thine own words : Then Shalt thou delight thyself in the 
Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of 
the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father ; 
for the mou'.'n of the Lord hath spoken it." 

6 It is foretold, that this command should be observed in 
gospel times ; as in Isa. Ivi. at the beginning, where the due 
observation of the Sabbath is spoken of as a great part of holi- 
ness of life, and is placed among moral duties. It is also men- 
tioned as a duty thfct ano.ild oe most acceptable to God from 
his people, even where the prophet is speaking of gospel 
times ; as in the foregoing chapter, and in the first verse of 
this chapter. And, in the 3d and 4th verses, the prophet is 
speaking of the abolition of the ceremonial law in gospel 
times, ;.nc! particularly of that law, which forbids eunuchs to 
come into the congregation of the Lord. Yet, here the man 
is pronounced blei&ed, -ivho L'r/i the Sabbath from fiolluting it, 
verse 2. And even in the very sentence where the eunuchs 
are spoken of as being free from the ceremonial law, they are 
spoken of as being yet under obligation to keep the Sabbath, 
and their keeping of it, as that which God lays great weight 
upon : " For, thus saith the Lord, unto the eunuchs that 
keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and 
take hold of my covenant : Even unto them will I give in 
mine house, and within my walls, a place and a name better 
than of sons and of daughters : I will give them an everlast- 
ing name, that shall not be cut off." 

Besides, the strangers spoken of in the 6th and 7th verses, 
are the Gentiles, that should be called in the times of the gos- 
pel, as is evident by the last clause in the 7th, and by the 8th 
verse : " For mine house shall be called an house of prayer 
for all ficofilc The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts 
of Israel, saith, Yet will I gather others to him- besMta those 
that are ga fiered unto him.'" Yet it is represented here as 
their duty to keep the Sabbath : " Also (he eon* of the stran- 
ger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to 
love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that 
jceejieth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my 


covenant : even them vjill I bring to my holy mountain, and 
make them joyful hi my house offiraycr." 

7. A further argument for the perpetuity of the Sabbath, 
we have in Matth. xxiv. 20. " Pray ye that your flight be not 
in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Christ is here 
speaking of the flight of the apostles and other Christians out 
of Jerusalem and Judea, just before their final destruction, as 
is manifest by the whole context, and especially by the 16th 
verse : " Then let them which be in Judea flee into the moun- 
tains." But this final destruction of Jerusalem was after the 
dissolution of the Jewish constitution, and after the Christian 
dispensation was fully set up. Yet, it is plainly implied in 
these words of our Lord, that even then Christians were bound 
to a strict observation of the Sabbath. 

Thus I have shewn, that it is the will of God, that every 
seventh day be devoted to rest and to religious exercises. 

I proceed now to the 

II. Proposition. That it is the will of God. that underthe 
gospel dispensation, or in the Christian church, this day should 
be the first day of the week. 

In order to the confirmation of this, let the following 
things be considered. 

1. The words of the fourth commandment afford no objec- 
tion against this being the day that should be the Sabbath, any 
more than against any other day. That this day, which, ac- 
cording to the Jewish reckoning, is the first of the week, 
should be kept as a Sabbath, is no more opposite to any sen- 
tence or word of the fourth command, than that the seventh of 
the week should be the day ; and that because the words of 
the fourth command do not determine which day of the week 
we should keep as a Sabbath ; they merely determine this, 
that we should rest and keep as a Sabbath every seventh day, 
or one day after every six. It says, six days thou shalt 

plies no more, than that after six days of labor, we shall, upon 


the next to the sixth, rest and keep it holy. And so, to be 
sure, we are obliged to do forever. But the words no way 
determine where those six days shall begin, and so where the 
rest or Sabbath shall fall, There is no direction in the fourth 
command how to reckon the time, i. e. where to begin and 
end it. That is not meddled with in the fourth command, but 
is supposed to be determined otherwise. 

The Jews did not know, by the fourth' command, where to 
begin their six days, and on which particular day to rest ; this 
was determined by another precept. The fourth command 
docs indeed suppose a particular day appointed ; but it does 
not appoint any. It requires us to rest and keep holy a sev- 
enth day, one after evcy six of labor, which particular day 
God either had or should appoint. The particular day was 
determined for that nation in another place, viz. in Exod. xvi. 
23, 25, 26. " And he said unto them, This is that which the 
Lord hath said, tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath un- 
to the Lord : Bake that which ye will bake, today, and seethe 
that \c will seethe ; and that which remaineth over, lay up for 

you to be kept until the morning And Moses said, Eat that 

today, for today is a sabbath unto the lord : Today 
ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it ; 
but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it 
there shall be none." This is the first place where we have 
any mention made of the Sabbath, from the first Sabbath on 
which God rested. 

It seem 5 that the Israelites, in the time of their bondage 
in Egypt had lest the true reckoning of time by the days of the 
week, reckoning from the first day of the creation, if it had 
been kept up till that time. They were slaves, and in cruel 
bondage, and had, in a great measure, forgotten the true re- 
ligion : For we are told, that they served the gods of Egypt. 
And it is not to be supposed, that the Egyptians would suffer 
their slaves to rest from their work every seventh day. Now, 
they having remained in bondage for so long a time, had 
probably lost the weekly reckoning ; therefore, when God had 
brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness, he made 


A-nown to them the Sabbath, on the occasion, and in the man- 
ner recorded in the text just now quoted. Hence, we read in 
Nehetniah,that when God had led the children oflsracl out of 
Egypt, Sec. he made known unto them his holy Sabbath ; 
Neh. ix. 14. " And madest known unto them thy holy Sab- 
bath." To the same effect, we read in Ezek. xx. 10, 12. 
" Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of 
Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. Moreover al- 
so, I gave them my Sabbaths." 

But they never would have known where the particular 
day would have fallen by the fourth command. Indeed, the 
fourth command, as it was spoken to the Jews, did refer to 
their Jewish Sabbath. But that doth not prove, that that day 
was determined and appointed by it. The precept in the 
fourth command is to be taken generally of a seventh day, 
such a seventh day as God should appoint, or had appointed. 
And because such a particular day had been already appointed 
for the Jewish church ; therefore, as it was spoken to them, it 
did refer to that particular day. But this doth not prove, but 
that the same words refer to another appointed seventh, day, 
now in the Christian church. The words of the fourth com- 
mand may oblige the church, under different dispensations, to 
observe different appointed seventh days, as well as the fifth 
command may oblige different persons to honor different 
fathers and mothers. 

The Christian Sabbath, in the sense of the fourth com- 
mand, is as much the seventh day, as the Jewish Sabbath ; be- 
cause it is kept every seventh day, as much as that ; it is kept 
after six days of labor as well as that ; it is the seventh, reck- 
oning from the beginning of our first working day, as well as 
that was the seventh from the beginning of their first working 
day. All the difference is, that the seven days formerly be- 
gan from the day after God's rest from the creation, and now 
they begin the day after that. It is no matter by what names 
the days are called : If our nation hud, for instance, called 
Wednesday the first of the week, it would have been all one 
as to this argument. 


Therefore, by the instiui ion of the Christian Sabbath, 
there is no change from the ibin th command ; but tlie change 
is from another law, which determined the beginning and 
ending of their working days. So that those words of the 
fourth command, viz. « Six days shalt thou labor and do all 
thy work ; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy 
God ;" afford no objection against that which is called the 
Christian Sabbath ; for these words remain in full force still. 
Neither doc; any just objection arise from these words follow- 
ing, viz. " lor in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, 
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day : 
Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed 
it." These words are not made insignificant to Christians, 
by the institution of the Christian Sabbath ; They still remain 
in their full force as to that which is principally intended by 
them. They were designed to give us a reason why wc are 
to work but six days at a time, and then rest on the seventh, 
because God hath set us the example. And taken so, they 
remain still in as much force as ever they were. This is the 
reason still, as much as ever it was, why we may work but six 
days at a time. What is the reason that Christians rest every 
seventh, and not every eighth, or every ninth, or tenth day I 
It is because God worked six days and rested the seventh. 

It is true, these words did carry something further in their 
meaning, as they were spoken to the Jews, and to the church, 
before the coming of Christ : It was then also intended by 
them, that the seventh day was to be kept in commemoration 
of the work of creation. But this is no objection to the sup- 
position, that the words, as they relate to us, do not import all 
that they did, fvs they related to the Jews. For there arc oth- 
er words which were written upon those tables of stone with 
the ten commandments, which are known and allowed not to 
be of the same import, as they relate to us, which they were 
of, as they related to the Jews, viz. these words, in the preface 
to the ten commands, " I am the Lord thy God, which, 
brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of 
bondage. "....These words were written on the tables of stonr 


with the rest, and these words are spoken to us, as well as to 
the Jews : They are spoken to all to whom the command- 
ments themselves are spoken ; for they are spoken as an en- 
forcement of the commandments. But they do not now re- 
main in all the signification which they had, as they respected 
the Jews. For we never were brought out of Egypt, out of 
the houSe of bondage, except in a mystical sense. The same 
may be said of those words which are inserted in the com- 
mandments themselves, Deut. v. 15. "And remember that 
thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord 
thy God brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand and 
by a stretched out arm : Therefore the Lord thy God com- 
manded thee to keep the Sabbath day." 

So that all the arguments of those who are against the 
Christian Sabbath, drawn from the fourth command, which 
are all their strength, come to nothing. 

2. That the ancient church was commanded to keep a 
seventh day in commemoration of the work of creation, is 
an argument for the keeping of a weekly Sabbath in com- 
memoration of the work of redemption, and not any reason, 
against it. 

We read in scripture of two creations, the old and the 
new : And these words of the fourth command are to be tak- 
en as of the same force to those who belong to the new crea- 
tion, with respect to the new creation, as they were to those 
who belonged to the old creation, with respect to the old crea- 
tion. We read, that "in. the beginning God created the 
heaven and the earth," and the church of old were to com- 
memorate that work. But when God creates a new heaven 
and a new earth, those that belong to this new heaven and 
new earth, by a like reason, are to commemorate the creation 
of their heaven and earth. 

The scriptures teach us to look upon the old creation as 
destroyed, and as j.t were annihilated by sin ; or, as being re- 
duced to a chaos again, without form and void, as it was at 
first. Jer. iv. 22, 23. " They are wise to do evil, but to do 
good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, audio, 

Vor.. VIII. 2 K 


it was without form and void ; and the heavens, and they 
had no li^ht :" i. e. They were reduced to the same state in 
which they v ere at first ; the earth was without form and 
void, and there was no light, but darkness was upon the face 
of the deep. 

The scriptures further teach us to call the gospel restora- 
tion and redemption, a creation of a new heaven and a new 
earth. Isai. lxv. 17, 18, " For behold, I create new heavens, 
and a new earth : And the former shall not be remembered, 
nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever in- 
that which I create : tor behold, I create Jerusahm a rejoic- 
ing, and fte¥ fieofite a joy." And Isai. li. > 6. " And I have put 
my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow 
of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foun- 
dations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." 
And chap. lx\i. 22. "For as the new heavens, and the new 
earth which I will make," &c... .In these places, we are not 
only told of a new creation, or new heavens and a new earth, 
but we are told what is meant by it, viz. The gospel renova- 
tion, the making of Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a 
joy; saying unto Zion, "Thou art my people," &c. The 
prophet, in all these places, is prophesying of the gospel re- 

The gospel state is every where spoken of as a renewed 
State of things, wherein old things are passed away, and all 
things become new : We are said to be cheated in Christ Je- 
Stts unio good works: All thing i are restored and reconciled 
ivhc'hrr in heaven or in earth, and God hath caused light to 
shine oiit qfdlfr#nes8, as he did at the beginning ; and the dis- 
solution of the Jewish state was often spoken of in the Old 
Tesament as the end of the world. But we who belong to 
the gospel church belong to the new creation ; and therefore 
there seems to be at le^st as much reason, that we should 
commemorate the work of this creation, as that the members 
of the ancient Jewish church should commemorate the work, 
of the old creation. 


S. There is another thing which confirms it, that the 
fourth command reaches God's resting from the new crea- 
tion, as well as from the old ; which is, that the scriptures do 
expressly speak, of the one, as parallel with the other, i. e, 
Christ's resting from the work of redemption, is expressly- 
spoken of as being parallel with God's resting from the work 
of creation, as in Heb. iv 10. " For he that is entered into 
his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did 
from his." 

Now, Christ rested from his works when he rose from the 
dead, on the first day of the week. • When he rose from the 
dead, then he finished his work of redemption ; his h aniiia- 
tion was then at an end ; he then rested, and was refreshed. 
When it is said in this place, " There remaineth a rest to the 
people of God ;" in the original, it is, a Sabbatikm, or the keep- 
ing oj a Sabbath : And this reason is given for it, " For he 
that entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own 
works, as God did from his." These three things at least we 
are taught by these words : 

(l.) We are taught by them to look upon Christ's rest 
from hia work of redemption, as parallel with God's rest from 
the work of creation ; for they are expressly compared to- 
gether, as parallel one with the other. 

(2.) They are spoken of as parallel, particularly in this 
respect, viz. The relation which they both have to the keep- 
ing of a Sabbath among God's people, or with respect to the 
influence which these two rests have, as to Sabbatizi?>g'm the 
chuch of God : For it is expressly with respect to this that 
they are compared together. Here is an evident reference 
to God's blessing and hallowing the day of his rest from the 
creation to be a S.ibbath, and appointing a Sabbath of rest in 
imitation of him. For the apostle is speaking of this, verse 
4. " For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this 
wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works." 
Thus far is evident ; whatever the apostle has respect to 
by this keeping of a Sabbath by the people of God, wheth- 


er it be a weekly Sabbatizing on earth, or a Sabbatizing in 

(3.) It is evident in these -words, that the preference is 
given to the latter rest, viz. The rest of our Saviour from his 
works, with respect to the influence it should have, or rela- 
tion it bears to the Sabbatizing of the people of Cod, now un- 
der the gospel, evidently implied in the expression, " There 
remaineth therefore a Sabbatism to the people of God. For 
he that entered into his rest," Sex. For, in this expression, 
There remaineth., it is intimated, that the old Sabbatism ap- 
pointed in remembrance of God's rest from the work of crea- 
tion, doth not remain, but ceases ; and that this new rest, in 
commemoration of Christ's resting from his works, remains 
in the room of it. 

4. The Holy Ghost hath implicitly told us, that the Sab- 
bath which was instituted in commemoration of the old crea- 
tion, should not be kept in gospel times, in Isai. lxv. 17, 18. 
There we are told, that when Cod should create new heavens 
and a new earth, the former should not be remembered, nor 
come into mind. If this be so, it is not to be supposed, that 
we are to keep a seventh part of time, on purpose to re mem- 
ber it, and call it to mind. 

Let us understand this which way we will, it will not be 
well consistent with the keeping of one day in seven, in the 
gospel church, principally for the remembrance and calling 
to mind of the old creation. If the meaning of the place be 
only this, that the old creation shall not be remembered, nor 
come into mind in comparison with the new, and that the new 
will be so much more remarkable and glorious, and will so 
much more nearly concern us, that so much more notice will 
be taken of it, and it will be thought so much more worthy to 
be remembered and commemorated, that the other will be 
forgotten, will not be remembered, nor come into mind: If 
we understand it thus, it is impossible that it should be more 
to our purpose. For then, hereby the Holy Ghost teaches 
lis, that the Christian (Lurch has much more reason to com- 


memoratc the new creation than the old ; insomuch, that tho 
old is worthy to be forgotten in comparison with it. 

And as the old creation -'as no more to be remembered, 
nor come into mind ; so, in the following- verse, the church 
is directed for ever to commemorate the new creation : "But 
be you glad, and rejoice forever in that which I create ; for 
behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy ; 
i. e. Though you forgot the old, yet for ever to the end of the 
world, keep a remembrance of the new creation. 

5. It is an argument, that the Jewish Sabbath was not to 
be perpetual, that the Jews were commanded to keep it in re-r 
membrance of their deliverance out of Egypt. One reason 
why it was instituted was, because God thus delivered them, 
as we are expressly told in the decalogue itself, in one of the 
places where we have it recorded in the books of Moies.... 
Deut. v. 15. " And remember that thou wast a servant in the 
land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out 
thence, through a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm : 
Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the 
Sabbath day." Now, can any person think, that God would 
have all nations under the gospel, and to the end of the world, 
keep a day every week, which was instituted in remembrance 
of the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt ? 

6. The Holy Ghost hath implicitly told us, that instituted 
memorials of the Jews' deliverance from Egypt should be no 
Jeager upheld in gospel times, as in Jer. xvi. 14, * 5. The 
Holy Ghost, speaking there of gospel times, says, " The re U 
fore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no 
more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children 
of Israel out of Egvpt ; but the Lord liveth that brought up 
the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all 
the lands whither he had driven them ; and I will bring them 
again into their own land." They shall no more say) Tlie Lord 
liveth f:iat broug/u. Cxc. i.e. at least they shall keep up no 
more any public memorials of it. 

If there be a Sabbath kept up in gospel times, as we have 
shown there must be, it is more just from these words to sup- 


pose, that it should be a memorial of that which is spoken of 
in the latter verse, the bringing up of the children of hrael 
from the land of the north ; that is, the redemption of hrist, 
and his bringing home the elect, not only from Judea, but 
from the north, and from all quarters of the world. See Isai. 
xliii. 16... .20. 

7. It is no more than just to suppose, that God intended 
to intimate to us, that the Sabbath ought by Christians to be 
kept in commemoration of Christ's redemption, in that the 
Israelites were commanded to keep it in remembrance of 
their deliverance out of Egypt ; because that deliverance out 
of Egypt Is an evident, known, and allowed type of it. It was 
contrived and ordered of God, on pu:pose to represent it ; 
every thing about that deliverance was typical of this redemp- 
tion, and much is made of it, principally for this reason, be- 
cause it is so remarkable a type of Christ's redemption. And 
it was but a shadow, the work in itself was nothing in compar- 
ison with the work of redemption. What is a petty redemp- 
tion of one nation from a temporal bondage, to the eternal sal- 
vation of the whole church of the elect, in all ages and nations, 
from eternal damnation, and the introduction of them, not into 
a temporal Canaan, but into heaven, into eternal glory and 
blessedness ? Was that shadow so much to be commemorat- 
ed, as that a day once a week was to be kept on the account 
of it ; and shall not we much more commemorate that great 
and glorious work of which it was designed on purpose to be 
a shadow ? 

Besides, the words in the fourth commandment, which 
speak of the deliverance out of Egypt, can be oi no significan- 
cy unto us, unless they are to be interpreted of the gospel re- 
demption : But the words of the decalogue are spoken to all 
nations and ages. Therefore, as the words were spoken to 
the Jews, they referred to the type or shadow ; as they are 
spoken to us, they are to be interpreted of the antitype and 
substance, lor the Egypt from which we under the gospel 
arc redeemed, is the spiritual Egypt ; the house of bondage, 
from which wc are redeemed, is a stale of spiritual bondage. 


Therefore the words, as spoken to us, are to be thus inter- 
preted, Remember, thou wast a servant to sin and Satan, and 
the Lord thy God delivered thee from this bondage, with a 
mighty hand and out stretched arm ; therefore the Lord thy 
God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day. 

As the words in the preface to f he ten commandments, 
about the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt, are 
interpreted in our catechism, and as they have respect to us, 
must be interpreted of our spiritual redemption, so, by an ex- 
act identity of reason, must these words in Deuteronomy, an- 
nexed to the fourth command, be interpreted of the same 
gospel redemption. 

The Jewish Sabbath was kept on the clay that the children 
of Israel came up out of the Red Sea. For we are told in 
Deut. v. 15. That this holy rest of the Sabbath was appointed 
in commemoration of their coming up out of Egypt. But the 
day of their going through the Red Sea was the day of their 
coming up out of Egypt ; for till then they were in the land 
of Egypt. The Red Sea was the boundary of the land of 
Egypt—.The scripture itself tells us, that that day on which 
they sung the song of Moses, was the day of their coming up 
out of the land of Egypt. Hos. ii. 15. " And she shall sing 
there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she 
came up out of the land of Egypt ;" referring plainly to that 
triumphant song which Moses and the children of Israel sang 
when they came up out of the Red Sea. 

The scripture tells us, that God appointed the Jewish 
Sabbath in commemoration of the deliverance of the children, 
of Israel from their task musters, the Egyptians, and of their 
rest from their hard bondage and slavery under them. Deut. 
v. 14, 15. " That thy man servant and thy maid servant may 
rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant 
in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee 
out thence, through a mighty hand, and by an out stretched 
arm : Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep 
the Sabbath day." But the day that the children of Israel 
%vere delivered from their task masters and had rest from 


them, was the day when the children of Israel came up out of 
the Red Sea. They had no rest from them till then. For 
though they were before come forth on their journey to go 
out of the land of Egypt ; yet they were pursued by the Egyp- 
tians, and were exceedingly perplexed and distressed. But 
on the morning that they came up out of the Red Sea, they 
had complete and final deliverance ; then they had full rest 
from their task masters. Then God said to them, " The 
Egyptians which ye have seen this day, ye shall see no more 
forever;" Exod. xiv. 13. Then they enjoyed a joyful day 
of rest, a day of refreshment. Then they sang the song of 
Moses ; and on that day was their Sabbath of rest. 

But this coming up of the children of Israel out of the 
Red Sea, was only a type of the resurrection of Christ. That 
people was the mystical body of Christ, and Moses was a 
great type of Christ himself ; and besides, en that day Christ 
went before the children of Israel in the pillar of cloud and of 
fire, as their Saviour and Redeemer. On that morning Christ, 
in this pillar of cloud and fire, rose out of the Red Sea, as out 
of great waters; which was a type of Christ's rising from a 
state of death, and from that great humiliation which he suf- 
fered in death. 

The resurrection of Christ from the dead, is in scripture 
represented by his coming up out of deep waters. So it is in 
Christ's resurrection, as represented by Jonah's coming out 
of the sea, Matth. xii. 40. It is also compared to a deliver- 
ance out of deep waters in Psal. lxix. 1. 2, 3, and ver. 14, 5. 
These things are spoken of Christ, as is evident from this, 
that many things in this Psalm are in the New Testament ex- 
pressly applied to Christ, as you may see by comparing ver. 
4, with John xv. 25, and ver. 9, with John ii. 17, and ver. 3, 
with Matth. xxvii. 34, 48, and Mark xv. 23, and John xix. 29, 
and ver. 22, with Rom. xi. 9, 10, an J ver. 25, with Acts l 20. 

Therefore it being so, that the Jewish Sabbath was ap- 
pointed on the day on which the pillar of cloud and fire rose 
out of the Red Sea, and on whit li Moses and the church, the 
mystical body of Christ, cume up out of the same sea, wliicli 


is a type of the resurrection of Christ ; it is a great confirma- 
tion that the Christian Sabbath should be kept on the day of 
the rising of the real body of Christ from the grave, which is 
the antitype. For surely the Scriptures have taught us, that 
the type should give way to the antitype, and that the shadow 
should give way to the substance. 

8. I argue the same thing from Psalm cxviii. 22, 23, 24. 
There we are taught, that the day of Christ's resurrection is 
to be celebrated with holy joy by the church. " The stone 
which the builders refused is become the headstone of the 
corner. This is the Lord's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. 
This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and 
be glad in it." The stone spoken of is Christ ; he was re- 
fused and rejected by the builders, especially when he was 
put to death. That making of him the head of the corner 
spoken of, which is the Lord's doing, and so marvellous in our 
eyes, is Christ's exaltation, which began with his resurrection. 
While Christ lay in the grave, he lay as a stone cast away by 
the builders. But when God raised him from the dead, then 
he became the head of the corner. Thus it is evident the 
apostle interprets it, Acts iv. 10, 11. « Be it known unto you 
all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of 
Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the 

dead," &c " This is the stone which was set at nought by 

you builders, which is become the head of the corner." 

And the day on which this was done, we are here taught, 
that God hath made to be the day of the rejoicing of the 

9. The abolition of the Jewish Sabbath seems to be inti- 
mated by this, that Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, lay buried 
on that day. Christ, the author of the world, was the author 
of that work of creation, of which the Jewish Sabbath was the 
memorial. It was he that worked six days and rested the sev- 
enth day from all his works, and was refreshed. Yet he was 

holden in the chains of death on that day God, who created 

the world, now in his second work of creation, did not follow 
his own example, if I may so speak ; he did not rest on the 
Vol. VIII. 2 L 


same day, but remained imprisoned in the grave on that dayy 
and took another day to rest in. 

The Sabbath was a day of rejoicing ; for it was kept in 
commemoration of God's glorious and gracious works of cre- 
ation, and the redemption out of Egypt. Therefore we are 
directed to call the Sabbath a delight. But it is not a proper 
day for the church, Christ's spouse, to rejoice, when Christ the 
bridegroom lies buried in the grave, as Christ says, Matth. ix. 
15. " That the children of the bridechamber cannot mourn, 
while the bridegroom is with them. But the time will come, 
-when the bridegroom shall be taken from them ; then shall 
they mourn.".... While Christ was holden under the chains of 
death ; then the bridegroom was taken from them ; then it 
was a proper time for the spouse to mourn and not rejoice. 
But when Christ rose again, then it was a day of joy, because 
we are begotten again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of 
Jesus Christ from the dead. 

10. Christ hath evidently, on purpose and design, peculiar- 
ly honored the first day of the week, the day on which he rose 
from the dead, by taking this day of the week, from time to- 
time, to appear to the aposdes, and by taking this day to pour 
out the Holy Ghost on the apostles, which we read of in the 
second chapter of Acts : Eor this was on the first clay of the 
week, being on Pentecost, which was on the first day of the 
week, as you may see by Levit. xxiii. 15,16. And by pour- 
ing out his spirit on the Apostle John, and giving him his 
visions on this day ; Rev. i. 10. " I was in the spirit on tho 
Lord's day," Sec. 

Now doubtless Christ had his meaning in thus distinguish- 
ing^- honoring this day. 

11. It is evident by the New Testament, that this wu es- 
pecially the dayof the public worship of the primitive church, 
by the direction of the apostles. Wc are told that this was 
the day that they were wont to come together to break bread ; 
and this they evidently did with the approbation of the apos- 
tles, in as much as they preached to them on that day ; and 
therefore, doubtless, they assembled together by the dircctioa 


of the apostles. Acts xx. 7. " And upon the first day of the 
week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul 
preached unto them. "....So the Holy Ghost was careful that 
the public contributions should be on this day, in all the 
churches, rather than on any other day, as appears by our 

12. This first day of the week is, in the New Testament, 

called the lord's day ; see Rev. i. 10 Some say, how do 

we know that that was the first day of the week ? Every day is 
the Lord's day. But it is ridiculous so to talk : For the de- 
sign of John is to tell us when he had those visions. And if 
by the Lord's day is meant any day, how doth that inform us 
when that event took place ? 

But what is meant by this expression we know, just in the 
same way as we know what is the meaning of any word in the 
original of the New Testament, or the meaning of any expres- 
sion in an ancient language, viz. by what we find to be the uni- 
versal signification of the expression in ancient times. This 
expression of the lord's day is found, by the ancient use of 
the whole Christian church, by what appears in all the writ- 
ings of ancient times, even from the apostles' days, to signify 
the first day of the week. 

And the expression implies in it the holiness of the day. 
For doubtless the day is called the lord's day, as the sacred 
supper is called the lord's supper, which is so called, be- 
cause it is an holy supper, to be celebrated in remembrance of 
the Lord Christ, and -of his redemption. So this is an holy 
day, to be kept in remembrance of the Lord Christ, and his 

The first day of the week, being in Scripture called the 
Lord's day, sufficiently makes it out to be the day of the week 
that is to be kept holy unto God ; for God hath been pleased 
to call it by his own name. When God puU his name upon 
any thing, or any thing is called by the name of God in Scrip- 
ture, this denotes the business of that thing and the appropria- 
tion of it to God. ...Thus God put his name upon his people 
Israel of old; Numb. vi. 27. " And they shall put my nannfe 


upon the children of Israel." They were called by the name 
of God, as it is said, 2 Chron. vii. 14. " If my people which 
are called by mv name" See. i. e. They were called God's peo- 
ple, or the Lord's people. This denoted that they were an 
holy, peculiar people above all others. Deut. vii. 6. " Thou 
art an holy people unto the Lord ;" and so in verse 14, and 
many other places. 

So the city Jerusalem was a city that was called by God's 

name ; Jer. xxv. 29 " Upon the city which is called by my 

name." Daniel ix. 18, 19. " And the city which is called by 
thy name," Sec. This denoted that that was an holy city, a 
city chosen of God above all other cities for holy uses, as it is 
often called the holy city, as in Nehem. xi. 1. " To dwell 
in Jerusalem the holy city ;" and in many other places. 

So the Temple is said to be an house called by God's name » 
1. Kings viii. 43. " This house that is called by my name." 
And often elsewhere. That is, it was called God's house, or 
the Lord's house. This denoted that it was called an holy 
place, an house devoted to holy uses, above all others. 

So also we find that the first day of the week is called by 
God's name, being called in Scripture God's day, or the lord's 
day, which denotes that it is an holy day, a day appropriated 
to holy uses, above all others in the week. 

13. The tradition of the church from age to age, though it 
be no rule, yet may be a great confirmation of the truth in 
such a case as this is. We find by all accounts, that it hath 
been the universal custom of the Christian church, in all ages, 
even from the age of the apostles, to keep the first day of the 
week. We read it\ the writings which remain of the first, 
second, and third centuries of the Christians' keeping the 
Lord's day ; and so in all succeeding ages ; and there are no 
accounts that contradict them. This day hath all along been 
kept by Christians, in all countries throughout the world, and 
by almost all that have borne the name of Christians, of all de- 
nominations, however different in their opinions as to other 


Now, although this be not sufficient of itself, without a 
foundation in scripture ; yet it may be a confirmation of it, 
because there is really matter of conviction in it to our reason. 
Reason may greatly confirm truths revealed in the Scriptures, 
The universality of the custom throughout all Christian coun- 
tries, in all ages, by what account we have of them, is a good 
argument, that the church had it from the apostles ; and it is 
difficult to conceive how all should come to agree to set up 
such a custom through the world, of different sects and opin- 
ions, and we have no account of any such thing. 

14. It is no way weakening to these arguments, that there 
is nothing more plainly said about it in the New Testament, 
till John wrote his revelation, because there is a sufficient 
reason to be given for it. In all probability it was purposely 
avoided by the Holy Spirit, in the first settling of Christian 
churches in the world, both among the Heathen and among 
the Jews, but especially for the sake of the Jews, and out of 
tenderness to the Jewish Christians. For it is evident that 
Christ and the apostles declared one thing after another to 
them gradually as they could bear it. 

The Jews had a i-egard for their Sabbath above almost 
any thing in the law of Moses ; and there was that in the Okf 
Testament which tended to uphold them in the observance of 
this, much more strongly than any thing else that was Jewish* 
God had made so much of it, had so solemnly, frequently, and. 
carefully commanded it, and had often so dreadfully punished 
the breach of it, that there was more color for their retaining 
this custom than almost any other. 

Therefore Christ dealt very tenderly with them in this 
point. Other things of this nature we find very gradually re- 
vealed. Christ had many things to say, as we are informed, 
which yet he said not, because they could not as yet bear them, 
and gave this reason for it, that it was like putting new wine 
into old bottles. They were so contrary to their old customs, 
that Christ was gradual in revealing them. He gave here a 
little and there a little, as they could bear ; and it was a lonjj 
time before he told them plainly the principal doctrines of the 


kingdom of heaven. He took the most favorable opportuni- 
ties to tell them of his sufferings and death, especially when 
they were full of admiration at some signal miracle, and were 
confirmed in it, that he was the Messiah. 

He told them many things much more plainly after his 
resurrection than before. But even then, he did not tell them 
all, but left more to be revealed by the Holy Ghost at Pente- 
cost. They therefore were much more enlightened after 
that than before. However, as yet he did not reveal all. The 
abolition of the ceremonial law about meats and drinks was 
not fully known till after this. 

The apostles were in the same manner careful and tender 
of those to whom they preached and wrote. It was very grad- 
ually that they ventured to teach them the cessation of the 
ceremonial laws of circumcision and abstinence from un- 
clean meats. How tender is the Apostle Paul with such as 
scruple I, in the fourteenth chapter of Romans ? He directs 
those who had knowledge to keep it to themselves, for the 
sake of iheir weak brethren. Rom. xiv. 22. But I need say 
no more to evince this. 

However, I will say this, that it is very possible that the 
apostles themselves at first might not have this change of the 
day of the Sabbath fully revealed to them. The Holy Ghost, 
at his descent, revealed much to them, yet after that, they 
■were ignorant of much of gospel doctrine ; yea, they were so 
a great while after they acted the part of apostles, in preach- 
ing, baptising, and governing the church. Peter was surpris- 
ed when he was commanded to eat meats legally unclean ; 
so were the apostles in general, when Peter was commanded 
to go to the Gentiles, to preach to them. 

Thus tender was Christ of the church while an infant. He 
did not feed them with strong meat, but was careful to bring 
in the observation of the Lord's day by degrees, and therefore 
took all occasions to honor it, by appearing from time to time 
of choice on that day, by sending down his Spirit on that dar 
in that remarkable manner at Pentecost ; by ordering Christ- 
ians to meet in order to break bread on that day, and by order- 


ing their contributions and other duties of worship to be hold- 
en on it ; thus introducing the observation of it by degrees. 
And though as yet the Holy Ghost did not speak very plainly 
about it, yet God took special care that there should be suffi- 
cient evidences of his •will, to be found out by the Christian 
church, when it should be more established and settled, and 
should have come to the strength of a man. 

Thus I leave it vvith every one to judge, whether there be 
not sufficient evidence, that it is the mind and will of God, that 
the first day of the week should be kept by the Christian 
church as a Sabbath I 


This shall be in an use of exhortation. 

1. Let us be thankful for the institution of the Christian 
Sabbath. It is a thing wherein God hath shown his mercy to 
us, and his care for our souls. He shows, that he, by his infi- 
nite wisdom, is contriving for our good, as Christ teaches us, 
that the Sabbath was made for man; Mark ii. 27. "The 
Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." It 
was made for the profit and for the comfort of our souls. 

The Sabbath is a day of rest : God hath appointed that we 
should, every seventh day, nest from all our worldly labors. 
Instead of that, he might have appointed the hardest labors 
for us to go through, some severe hardships for us to endure. 
It is a day of outward, but especially of Spiritual rest, It is a 
day appointed of God, that his people thereon may find rest 
unto their souls ; that the souls of believers may rest and be 
refreshed in their Saviour. It is a day of rejoicing ; God 
made it to be a joyful day to the church ; Psalm cxviii. 2-1. 
" This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice 
and be glad in it." They that aright receive and improve the 
Sabbath, call it a delight and honorable ; it is a pleasant 
and a joyful day to them ; it is an image of the future nearest* 


ly rest of the church. Heb. iv. 9, 10, 11. " There rcmain- 
eth therefore a rest (or sabbatism, as it is in the original) to 
the people of God. For he that hath entered into his rest, he 
also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 
Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest." 

The Christian Sabbath is one of the most precious enjoy- 
ments of the visible church. Christ showed his love to his 
church in instituting it ; and it becomes the Christian church 
to be thankful to her Lord for it. The very name of this day, 
the Lord's day, or Jesus' day, should endear it to Christ- 
ians, as it intimates the special relation it has to Christ, and 
also the design- of it, which is the commemoration of our dear 
Saviour, and his love to his church in redeeming it. 

2. Be exhorted to keep this day holy, God hath given 
Such evidences that this is his mind, that he will surely re- 
quire it of you, if you do not strictly and conscientiously ob- 
serve it. And if you do thus observe it, you may have this com- 
fort in the reflection upon your conduct, that you have not been 
superstitious in it, but have done as God hath revealed it to be 
his mind and will in his word, that you should do ; and that in 
so doing you are in the way of God's acceptance and reward. 

Here let nle lay before you the following motives to ex- 
cite you to this duty. 

(1.) By a strict observation of the Sabbath, the name of 
God is honored, and that in such a way as is very acceptable to 
him. Isa. lviii. 13. " If thou call the Sabbath a delight, the 
holy of the Lord, and shalt honor him." God is hon- 
ored by it, as it is a visible manifestation of respect to God's 
holy law, and a reverencing of that which has a peculiar rela- 
tion to God himself, and that more in some respects than the 
observation of many other commands. A man may be just, 
and may be generous, and yet not so plainly show respect to 
the revealed mind and will of God, as many of the Heathen 
have been so. But if a person, with evident strictness and 
care, observe the Sabbath, it is a visible manifestation of a 


conscientious regard to God's declaration of his mind, and so 
is a visible honor done to his authority. 

By a strict observation of the Sabbath, the face of religion 
is kept up in the world. If it were not for the Sabbath, there 
would be but little public and visible appearance of serving, 
worshipping, and reverencing the supreme and invisible Be- 
ing. The Sabbath seems to have been appointed very much 
for this end, viz. to uphold the visibility of religion in public, 
or among professing societies of men ; and by how much 
greater the strictness is with which the Sabbath is observed, 
and with how much more solemnity the duties of it are ob- 
served among a people ; by so much the greater is the mani- 
festation among them of respect to the divine Being. 

This should be a powerful motive with us to the observa- 
tion of the Sabbath. It should be our study above all tilings 
to honor and glorify God. It should be the great tiling with 
all that bear the name of Christians, to honor their great God 
and King, and I hope is a great thing with many that hear me 
at this time. If this be your inquiry, if this be your desire, to 
honor God; by this subject you aie directed to one way 
whereby you may do much in that way, viz. bv honoring the 
Sabbath, and by showing a careful and strict observance of it. 
(2.) That which is the business of the Sabbath is the 
greatest business of our lives, viz. the business of religion. 
To serve and worship God is that for which we were made, 
and for which we had our being given us. Other business, 
which is of a secular nature, and on which we are wont to at- 
tend on week days, is but subordinate, and ought to be sub- 
servient to the higher purposes and ends of religion. There- 
fore surely we should not think much of devoting one seventh 
part of our time, to be wholly spent in this business, and to 
be set apart to exercise ourselves in the immediate duties of 

(3.) Let it be considered that all our time is God's, and 
therefore when he challenges of us one day in seven, he chal- 
lenges his own ; he doth not exceed his right ; he would not 
have exceeded it, if he had challenged a far greater propor- 
Vol, VIII. 3 M 


lion of our time to be spent in his immediate service. But 
he hath mercifully considered our state, and our necessities 
here ; and, as he hath consulted the good of our souls in ap- 
pointing a seventh day for the immediate duties of religion, 
so he hath considered our outward necessities, and hath 
ed us six days for attendance on our outward affairs. What 
unworthy treatment, therefore, will it be of God, if we refuse 
to allow him even the seventh day ! 

(i.) As the Sabbath is a day which is especially set apart 
for religious exercises, so it is a day wherein God especially 
confers his grace and blessing. As God hath commanded us. 
to set it apart to have converse with God, so God hath set it 
apart for himself to have converse wit!: us. As God hath 
commanded us to observe the Sabbath, so God observes the 
Sabbath too. It is with respect to the Sabbath, as Solomon. 
prayed that it might be with respect to the temple, 2 Chron. 
vi. 20. His eyes are open upon it : He stands ready then es- 
pecially to hear prayers, to accept of religious services, to 
meet his people, to manifest himself to them en this day, to 
give his Holy Spirit and blessing to those who diligently and 
conscientiously sanctify it. 

That we should sanctify the Sabbath, as we have observ- 
ed, is according to God's institution. God in a sense ob- 
serves his own institutions ; i. e. is wont to cause them to be 
attended with a blessing. The institutions of God are his ap- 
pointed means of grace, and with his institutions he hath 
promised his blessing. Exod. xx. 24. " In all places where 
1 record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless 
thee." For the same reason may we conclude, that God 
will meet his people and bless them, waiting upon him not 
only in appointed places, but at appointed tunes, and in all 
appointed ways. Christ hath promised, that where two or 
three are gathered together in his name, he will be in the 
midst of them, Matth. xvhi. 20. One thing included in the 
expression, in his r.ame, is, that it is by his appointment, and- 
according to his institution. 


God hath made it our duty, by his institution, to set apart 
this day for a special seeking of his grace and blessing. From 
•which we may argue, that he will be especially ready to con- 
fer his grate on those who thus seek it. If it be the day on 
which God requires us especially to seek him, we may argue, 
that it is a day on which especially he will be found. That 
God is ready on this clay especially to bestow his blessing on 
them that keep it aright, is implied in that expression of 
God's blessing the Sabbath day. God hath not only hallowed 
the Sabbath day, but blessed it ; he hath given his blessing to 
it, and will confer his blessing upon all the due observers of 
it. He hath hallowed it, or appointed that it be kept holy by 
\is, and hath blessed it ; he hath determined to give his bless- 
ing upon it. 

So that here is great encouragement for us to keep holy 
the Sabbath, as we would seek God's grace and our own spir- 
itual good. The Sabbath day is an accepted time, a day of 
salvation, a time wherein God especially loves to besought, 
and loves to be found. The Lord Jesus Christ takes delight 
in his own day ; he delights to honor it ; he delights to meet 
with and manifest himself to his disciples on it, as he showed 
before his ascension, by appearing to them from time to time 
on this day. On this day he delights to give his Holy Spirit, 
as he intimated, by choosing it as the day on which to pour 
out the Spirit in so remarkable a manner on the primitive 
church, and on v. hich to give his Spirit to the Apostle John, 

Of old God blessed the seventh day, or appointed it to be 
a day whereon especially he would bestow blessings on his 
people, as an expression of his own joyful remembrance of 
that day, and of the rest and refreshment which he had on it. 
Exod. xxxi. 16, 17. " Wherefore the children of Israel shall 
keep the Sabbath.... For in six days the Lord made heaven 
and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refresh- 
ed." As princes give gifts on their birth days, on their mar- 
riage days, and the like ; so God was wont to dispense spirit- 
ual gifts on the seventh dav. 


But how much more reason has Christ to bless the dn c.l 
Ins resurrection, ind to delight to honor it, and to confer his 
grace and blessed gifts on his people on this day. It was a 
day whereon Christ rested and was refreshed in a literal sense. 
It was a day of threat refreshment and joy to Christ, being the 
day of his deliverance from the chains of death, the day of his 
finishing that great and difficult work of redemption, which 
had been upon his heart from all eternity ; the day of his just- 
ification by the 1 ather ; the day of the beginning of his exalt- 
ation, and of the fulfilment of the promises of the Father ; the 
day when he had eternal life, which he had purchased, pin in- 
to his hands. ...On this chty Christ doth indeed delight to dis- 
tribute gifts, and blessings, and joy, and happiness, and will 
delight to do the same to the end of the world. 

O therefore, how well is it • orth our while to improve 
this day, to call upon God and seek Jesus Christ on it 1 Let 
awakened sinners be stirred up by these things, to improve 
the Sabbath day, as they would lay themselves most in the 
"way of the Spirit of God Improve the Sabbath day to call 
upon God i for then he is near. Improve the Sabbath day 
for reading the holy scriptures, and diligently attending his 
word preached ; for then is the likeliest time to have the 
Spirit accompanying it. Let the saints who are desirous of 
growing in grace, and enjoying communion with Christ, im- 
prove the Sabbath in order to it. 

(5.) The last motive which I shall mention, is the expe- 
rience of the influence which a strict observation of the Sub- 
bath has upon the whole of religion. It may be observed, 
that in those places where the Sabbath is well kept, religion 
in general will be most flourishing ; and that in those places 
where the Sabbath is not much taken notice of, and much 
is not made of it, there is no great matter of religion any way. 

Here I would give several directions in answer to this. 

Inquiry. How ought wc to keep the Sabbath ? 


Answer 1. We ought to be exceedingly careful on this 
day to abstain from sin. Indeed, all breaches of the Sabbath 
are sinful ; but we speak now of those things which are in 
themselves sinful, or sinful upon other accounts, besides that 
they are done upon the Sabbath. The Sabbath being holy 
time, it is especially defiled by the commission of sin. Sin 
by being committed on this day becomes the more exceeding- 
sinful. We are required to abstain from sin at all times, but 
especially on holy time. The commission of immoralities 
on the Sabbath is the worst way of profaning it, that which 
most provokes God, and brings most guilt upon the souls 
of men. 

How provoking must it be to God, when men do those 
things on that day which God has sanctified, and set apart to 
be spent in the immediate exercises of religion, which are not 
fit to be done on common days, which are impure and wicked 
whenever they are done ! 

Therefore, if any persons be guilty of any such wicked- 
ness as intemperance, or any unclean actions, they do in a 
very horrid manner profane the Sabbath. Or if they be guilty 
of wickedness in speech, of talking profanely, or in an un- 
clean and lascivious manner, or of talking against their neigh- 
bors, they do in a dreadf il manner profane the Sabbath. Yet 
very commonly those who are used to such things on week 
days, have not a conscience to restrain them on the Sabbath. 
It is well if those that live in the indulgence of the lust of un- 
cleanness on week days, be not some way or other unclean on 
the Sabbath. They will be indulging the same lusts then ; 
they will be indulging the same impure flames in their imag- 
inations at least : And it is well if they keep clear while in 
the house of God, and while they pretend to be worshipping 
God. The unclean young man gives this account of himself, 
Prov. v. 14. "I was almost in an evil in the midst of the con- 
gregation and the assembly." So those who are addicted to 
an impure way of talking in the week time, have nothing 
to keep them from the same upon the Sabbath, when they 


meet together. But dreadfully is God provoked by such 

We ought carefully to watch over our own hearts, and to 
avoid all sinful thoughts on the Sabbath. We ought to main- 
tain such a reverence for the Sabbath, as to have a peculiar 
dread of sin, such as shall awe us to a very careful watch over 

2. We ought to be careful to abstain from all worldly con- 
cerns. The reason as we have showed, why it is needful and 
proper, that certain stated parts of time should be set apart to 
be devoted to religious exercises, is because the state of man- 
kind is such in this world, that they are necessitated to exer- 
cise their minds, and employ their thoughts about secular 
matters. It is therefore convenient that there should be stat- 
ed times, wherein all should be obliged to throw by all oth- 
er concerns, that their minds may the more freely and with 
less entanglement, be engaged in religious and spiritual ex- 

We are therefore to do thus, or else we frustrate the very 
design of the institution of a Sabbath. We are strictly to ab- 
stain from being outwardly engaged in any worldly thing, ei- 
ther worldly business or recreations. We are to rest in re- 
membrance of God's rest from the work of creation, and of 
Christ's rest from the work of redemption. We should be 
careful that we do not encroach upon the Sabbath at its begin- 
ning, by busying ourselves about the world after the Sabbath 
is begun. We should avoid talking about worldly matters, 
and even thinking about them; for whether we outwardly 
concern ourselves with the world or not, yet if our minds be 
upon it, we frustrate the end of the Sabbath. The end of its 
separation from other days is, that our minds may be disen- 
gaged from worldly things ; and we are to avoid being out- 
wardly concerned with ihe world, only for this reason, that 
thai cannoi be without taking up our minds. We ought 
therelore to give the world no place in our thoughts on the. 
Sabbath, but to abstract ourselves from all worldly concern- 


ment, and maintain a watch over ourselves, that the world ds 
not encroach, as it is very apt to do, Isai. lviii. 13, 14. 

3. We ought to spend the time in religious exercises* 
This is the more ultimate end of the Sabbath : We are to 
keep our minds separate from the world, principally for this 
end, that we may be the more free for religious exercises. 
Though it be a day of rest, yet it was not designed to be a day 
of idleness : To rest from worldly employments, without em- 
ploying ourselves about any thing, is but to lay ourselves so 
much more in the devil's way. The mind will be employed 
some way or other ; and therefore doubtless the end for 
which we are to call off our minds from worldly things on the 
Sabbath is, that we may employ them about things that are 

We are to attend on spiritual exercises with the greatest 
diligence. That it is a day of rest, doth not hinder us in so 
doing ; for we are to look on spiritual exercises but as the 
rest and refreshment of the soul. In heaven, where the peo- 
ple of God have the most perfect rest, they are not idle, but 
are employed in spiritual and heavenly exercises. We should 
take care therefore to employ our minds on a Sabbath day on 
spiritual objects by holy meditation ; improving for our help 
therein the holy scriptures, and other books that are accord- 
ing to the word of God. We should also employ ourselves 
outwardly on this day in the duties of divine worship, in pub- 
lic and private. It is proper to be more frequent and abun- 
dant in secret duties on this day, than on other days, as wo 
have time and opportunity, as well as to attend on public or- 

It is proper on this day, not only especially to promote the 
exercise of religion in ourselves, but also in others ; to be as- 
sisting them, and endeavoring to promote their spiritual 
good, by religious conversation and conference. Especially 
those who have the care of others ought, on this day, to en- 
deavor to promote their spiritual good : Heads of families 
should be instructing and counselling their children, and 
(juickeuing them in the ways of religion, and should see to it 


that the Sabbath be strictly kept in their houses. A peculiar 
blessing may be expected upon those families where there 
is due care takfen that the Sabbath be strictly and devoutly 

4. We are on this day especially to meditate upon and 
celebrate the work of redemption. We are with special joy 
to remember the resurrection of Christ ; because that was the 
finishing of the work of redemption : And this is the day 
whereon Christ rested and was refreshed, after he had endur- 
ed those extreme labors which he had endured for our per- 
ishing souls. This was the day of the gladness of Christ's 
heart; it was the day of his deliverance from the chains of 
death) and also of our deliverance : For we are delivered in 
him who is our head. He, as it were, rose with his elect. 
He is the first fruits ; those that are < hrist's will follow.... 
Christ, when he rose, was justified as a public person, and we 
are justified in him. This is the day of our deliverance out 
of Egypt. 

We should therefore meditate on this with joy ; we should 
have a sympathy with Christ in his joy. He was refreshed 
on this day, we should be refreshed as those whose hearts are 
united with his. When Christ rejoices, it becomes all his 
church every where to rejoice. We are to say of this day, 
" This is the day that the Lord hath made ; we will rejoice 
and be glad in it." 

But we are not only to commemorate the resurrection of 
Christ, but the whole work of redemption, of which this was 
the finishing. We keep the day on which the work was fin- 
ished, because it is In remembrance of the whole work. Wc 
should on this day contemplate the wonderful love of God and 
ofCinist, as expressed in the work of redemption ; and our 
remembrance of these things should be accompanied with 
suitable exercises of soul with respect to them. When we 
call to mind the love of Christ, it should be with a return of 
love on our part. When we commemorate this work, it 
should be with faith in the Saviour. And we should praise 
God and the Lamb for this work, for the divine glory and love 


manifested it, in our private and public prayers, in talking of 
the wonderful works of God, and in singing divine songs. 

Hence it is proper that Christ's disciples should choose 
this day to come together to break bread, or to celebrate the 
ordinance of the Lord's Supper, Acts xx. 7, because it is an 
ordinance instituted in remembrance of the work of redemp- 

5. Works of mercy and charity are very proper and accept- 
able to Christ on this day. They were proper on the ancient 
Sabbath. Christ was wont to do such works on the Sabbath 
day. But they especially become the Christian Sabbath, be- 
cause it is a day kept in commemoration of the greatest work 
of mercy and love towards us that ever was wrought. What 
can be more proper than that on such a day we should be ex- 
pressing our love and mercy towards our fellow creatures, and 
especially our fellow Christians. Christ loves to see us show 
our thankfulness to him in such ways as these. Therefore 
we find that the Holy Ghost was especially careful, that such 
works should be performed on the first day of the week in the 
primitive church, as we learn by our text. 

Vol. VIII. 2N 


A Divine and Supernatural Light, immediately 
imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God, 
shown to be both a Scriptural and Rational 

MATTHEW xvi. 17. 


V^HRIST says these words to Peter upon occasion 
of his professing his faith in him as the Son of God. Our 
Lord was inquiring of his disciples, who men said he was ; not 
that he needed to be informed, but only to introduce and give 
occasion to what follows. They answer, that some said he 
was John the Baptist, and some Elias, and others Jeremias, or 
one of the Prophets. When they had thus given an account 

* Preached at Northampton, and published at the desire of some of the 
bearers, in the year 1734. 


who others said he was, Christ asks them, who they said he 
was ? Simon Peter, whom we find always zealous and for- 
ward, was the first to answer: He readily replied to the ques- 
tion, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 

Upon this occasion, Christ says as he does to Mm, and of 
him in the text : In which we may observe, 

1. That Peter is pronounced blessed on this account. 
blessed art thou...." Thou art an happy man, that thou art 
not ignorant of this, that I am Christ, the Son of the liv- 
ing God. Thou art distinguishingly happy. Others are 
blinded, and have dark and deluded apprehensions, as you 
have now given an account, some thinking that I am Elias, 
and some that I am Jeremias, and some one thing, and some 
another ; but none of them thinking right, all of them misled. 
Happy art thou, that art so distinguished as to know the truth 
in this matter." 

2. The evidence of this his happiness declared ; viz. 
That God, and he only, had revealed it to him. This is 
an evidence of his being blessed. 

First. As it shows how peculiarly favored he was of 
Cod above others ; q. d. " How highly favored art thou, that 
others that are wise and great men, the Scribes, Pharisees, 
and Rulers, and the nation in general, are left in darkness, to 
follow their own misguided apprehensions; and that thou 
shouldst be singled out, as it were, by name, that my Heav- 
enly Father should thus set his love, On THEE, SlMON' BAR- 
jona. This argues thee blessed, that thou shouldst thus be 
the object of God's distinguishing love." 

Secondly. It evidences his blessedness also, as it inti- 
mates that this knowledge is above any that flesh and blood 
can reveal. " This is such knowledge, as my Father 
which is in heaven only can give : It is too high and excel- 
lent to be communicated by such means as other knowledge 


is. Thou art blessed) that thou knowest that which God 
alone can teach thee." 

The original of this knowledge is here declared, both neg- 
atively and positively. Positively, as God is here declared 
the author of it. Negatively, as it is declared, that flesh 
and blood had not revealed it. God is the author of all knowl- 
edge and understanding whatsoever. He is the author of the 
knowledge that is obtained by human learning : He is the au- 
thor of all moral prudence, and of the knowledge and skill 
that men have in their secular business. Thus it is said of all 
in Israel that were wise hearted, and skilled in embroidering, 
that God had filled them with the Spirit of wisdom. Exod. 
xxviii. 3. 

God is the author of such knowledge ; but yet not so but 
that flesh and blood reveals it. Mortal men are capable of 
imparting the knowledge of human arts and sciences, and 
skill in temporal affairs. God is the author of such knowl- 
edge by those means : Flesh and blood is made use of by 
God as the mediate or second cause of it ; he conveys it by the 
power and influence of natural means. But this spiritual 
knowledge, spoken of in the text, is what God is the author 
of, and none else : He reveals it, and flesh and blood re- 
veals it not. He imparts this knowledge immediately, not 
naking use of any intermediate natural causes, as he does in 
other knowledge. 

"What had passed in the preceding discourse naturally oc- 
casioned Christ to observe this ; because the disciples had 
been telling how others did not know him, but were general- 
ly mistaken about him, and divided and confounded in their 
opinions of him : But Peter had declared his assured faith, 
that he was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, 
how it was not flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, 
but God; for if this knowledge were dependent on natural 
causes or means, how came it to pass that they, a company of 
poor fishermen, illiterate men, and persons of low education, 
attained to the knowledge of the truth ; while the Scribes 
;uul Pharisees, men of vastly higher advantages, and greater 


knowledge and sagacity in other matters, remained in igno- 
rance ? This could be owing only to the gracious distinguish- 
ing influence and revelation of the Spirit of God. Hence, 
what I would make the subject of my present discourse from 
these words, is this 


That there is such a thing as a Spiritual and Divine Light, 
immediately imparted to the soul by God, of a different na- 
ture from any that is obtained by natural means. 

In what I say on this subject, at this time, I would, 

I. Show what this divine light is. 

II. How it is given immediately by God, and not obtained 
by natural means. 

III. Show the truth of the doctrine. 

And then conclude with a brief improvement. 

I. I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. 
And in order to it, would shew, 

First, In a few things what it is not. And here, 
1. Those convictions that natural men may have of their 
sin and misery, is not this spiritual and divine light. Men in, 
a natural condition may have convictions of the guilt that lies 
upon them, and of the anger of God, and their danger of di- 
vine vengeance. Such convictions are from light or sensi- 
bleness of truth. That some sinners have a greater convic- 
tion of their guilt and misery than others, is because some 
have more light, or more of an apprehension of truth than 
others. And this light and conviction may be from the Spit- 


it of God ; the Spirit convinces men of sin : But yet nature is 
much more concerned in it than in the communication of that 
spiritual and divine light that is spoken of in the doctrine ; it 
is from the Spirit of God only as assisting natural principles, 
and not as infusing any new principles. Common grace dif- 
fers from special, in that it influences only i>y assisting of na- 
ture ; and not by imparting grace, or bestowing any thing 
above nature. The light that is obtained is wholly natural, or 
of no superior kind to what mere nature attains to, though 
more of that kind be obtained than would be obtained if men 
were left wholly to themselves : Or, in other words, common 
grace only assists the faculties of the soul to do that more fully 
which they do by nature, as natural conscience or reason will, 
by mere nature make a man sensible of guilt, and will accuse 
and condemn him when he has done amiss. Conscience is a 
principle natural to men ; and the work that it doth naturally, 
or of itself, is to give an apprehension of right and wrong, and 
to suggest to the mind the relation that there is between right 
and wrong, and a retribution The Spirit of God, in those 
convictions which unregenerate men sometimes have, assists 
conscience to do this work in a further degree than it would 
do if they were left to themselves : He helps it against those 
things that tend to stupify it, and obstruct its exercise. But 
in the renewing and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, those 
things are wrought in the soul that are above nature, and of 
■which there is nothing of the like kind in the soul by nature ; 
and they are caused to exist in the soul habitually, and accord- 
ing to such a stated constitution or law that lays such a foun- 
dation for exercises in a continued course, as is called a prin- 
ciple of nature. Not only are remaining principles assisted 
to do their work more freely and fully, but those principles are 
restored that were utterly destroyed by the fall ; and the mind 
thenceforward habitually exerts those acts that the dominion 
of sin had made it as wholly destitute of, as a dead body is of 
vital acts. 

The Spirit of God acts in a very different manner in the 
one case, from what he doth in the other. He may indeed act 

Reality of spiritual light. 235 

upon the mind of a natural man, but he acts in the mind of a 
saint as an indwelling vital principle. He acts upon the mind 
of an unregenerate person as an extrinsic, occasional agent ;> 
for in acting upon them, he doth not unite himself to them; 
for notwithstanding all his influences that they may be the sub- 
jects of, they are still sensual, having not the Spirit. Jude 19, 
But he unites himself with the mind of a saint, takes him for 
his temple, actuates and influences him as a new supernatural 
principle of life and action. There is this difference, that the 
Spirit of God, in acting in the soul of a godly man, exerts and 
communicates himself there in his own proper nature. Holi- 
ness is the proper nature of the Spirit of God. The Holy 
Spirit operates in the minds of the godly, by uniting himself 
to them, and living in them, and exerting his own nature in 
the exercise of their faculties. The Spirit of God may act 
upon a creature, and yet not in acting communicate himself. 
The Spirit of God may act upon inanimate creatures ; as, the 
S/iirit moved u/wn the face of the waters, in the beginning of 
the creation ; so the Spirit of God may act upon the minds of 
men many ways, and communicate himself no more than when 
he acts upon an inanimate creature. For instance, he may ex- 
cite thoughts in them, may assist their natural reason and un- 
derstanding, or may assist other natural principles, and this 
without any union with the soul, but may act, as it were, as 
upon an external object. But as he acts in his holy influences 
and spiritual operations, he acts in a way of peculiar commu- 
nication of himself ; so that the subject is thence denominated 

2. This spiritual and divine light does not consist in any 
impression made upon the imagination. It is no impression 
upon the mind, as though one saw any thing with the bodily 
eyes : It is no imagination or idea of an outward light or glo- 
ry, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible lustre or 
brightness of any object. The imagination may be strongly 
impressed with such things ; but this is not spiritual light. 
Indeed when the mind has a lively discovery of spirituals 
things, and is greatly affected by the power of divine light, it 


it may, and probably very commonly cloth, much affect th$ 
imagination ; so that impressions of an outward beauty or 
brightness may accompany those spiritual discoveries. But 
spiritual light is not that impression upon the imagination, but 
an exceeding different thing from it. Natural men may have 
lively impressions on their imaginations ; and we cannot de- 
termine but that the devil, who. transforms himself into an an- 
gel of light, may cause imaginations of an outward beauty, or 
visible glory, and of sounds and speeches, and other such 
things ; but these are things of a vastly inferior nature to spir- 
itual light. 

3. This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new 
truths or propositions not contained in the word of God. This 
suggesting of new truths or doctrines to the mind, indepen- 
dent of any antecedent revelation of those propositions, either 
in word or writing, is inspiration ; such as the prophets and 
apostles had, and such as some enthusiasts pretend to. But 
this spiritual light that I am speaking of, is quite a different 
thing from inspiration : It reveals no new doctrine, it sug- 
gests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing 
of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the Bible, 
but only gives a clue apprehension of those things that are 
taught in the word of God. 

4. It is not every affecting view that men have of the 
things of religion that is this spiritual and divine light. Men 
by mere principles of nature are capable of being affected with 
things that have a special relation to religion as well as other 
things. A person by mere nature, for instance, may be liable 
to be affected with the story of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings 
he underwent, as well as by any other tragical story : He may 
be the more affected with it from the interest he conceives 
-mankind to have in it : Yea, he may be affected with it with- 
out believing it ; as well as a man may be affected with what 
he reads in a romance, or sees acted in a stage play. He may 
be affected with a lively and eloquent description of many 
pleasant things that attend the state of the blessed in heaven, 
as well as his imagination be entertained by a romantic de- 


scription of the pleasantness of fairy land, or the like. And 
that common belief of the truth of the things of religion, that 
persons may have from education or otherwise, may help for- 
ward their affection. We read in Scripture of many that 
were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who 
yet are there represented as wholly graceless, and many of 
them very ill men. A person therefore may have affecting 
views of the things of religion, and yet be very destitute of 
spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the author of this : 
One man may give another an affecting view of divine things 
with but common assistance ; but God alone can give a spirit- 
ual discovery of them. 

But I proceed to show, 
Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine 
light is. 

And it may be thus described : A true sense of the divine 
excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a 
conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising. 

This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of 
these, viz. A real sense and apprehension of the divine excel- 
lency of things revealed in the word of God. A spiritual and 
saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, ari- 
ses from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory ; so 
that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural con- 
sequence of this sight of their divine glory. There is there- 
fore in this spiritual light, 

1. A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of 
the things of religion ; a real sense of the excellency of God 
and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways 
and works of God revealed in the gospel. There is a divine 
and superlative glory in these things ; an excellency that is of 
a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature than in other 
things ; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is 
earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened tru- 
ly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not 
merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a 
Vol. VIII. 2 O 


sense of the gloriousness of (loci in his heart. There is noi 
only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a 
good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God's 
holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God 
is gracious, but a sense how amiable ' od is upon that account, 
or a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute. 

There is a twofold understanding or knowledge of good 
that God has made the mind of man capable of. The first, 
that which is merely speculative and notional ; as when a per- 
son only speculatively judges that any thing is, which, by the 
agreement of mankind, is called good or excellent, viz. that 
which is most to general advantage, and between which and a 
reward there is a suitableness, and the like. And the other 
is, that which consists in the sense of the heart : As when 
there is a sense of the beauty, amiableness, or sweetness of 
a thing ; so that the heart is sensible of pleasure and delight 
in the oresence of the idea of it. In the former is exercised 
merely the speculative faculty, or the understanding, strictly 
so called, or as spoken of in distinction from the will or dis* 
position of the soul. In the latter, the will, or inclination, or 
heart, is mainly concerned. 

Thus thei e is a difference between having an opinion, that 
God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness 
and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference 
between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and 
having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the form- 
er, that knows not how honey tastes ; but a man cannot have 
the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his 
mind. So there is a difference between believing that a per- 
son is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The form- 
er may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing 
the countenance. There is a wide difference between mere 
speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent, and 
having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The former 
rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it ; but 
the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sen- 
sible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily 


»feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a per- 
son's being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that 
the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul ; which is a far 
different thing from having a rational opinion that it is ex- 

2. There arises from this sense of divine excellency 
of things contained in the word of God, a conviction of 
the truth and reality of them : And that either directly or 

First, Indirectly, and that two ways. 
1. As the prejudices that are in the heart, against the 
truth of divine things, are hereby removed ; so that the mind 
becomes susceptive of the due force of rational arguments for 
their truth. The mind of man is naturally full of prejudices 
against the truth of divine things : It is full of enmity against 
the doctrines of the gospel ; which is a disadvantage to those 
arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose 
their force upon the mind. But when a person has discover- 
ed to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this 
destroys the enmity, removes those prejudices, and sanctifies 
the reason, and causes it to lie open to the force of arguments 
for their truth. 

Hence was the different effect that Christ's miracles had 
to convince the disciples, from what they had to convince the 
Scribes and Pharisees. Not that they had a stronger reason, 
or had their reason more improved ; but their reason was 
sanctified, and those blinding prejudices, that the Scribes and 
Pharisees were under, were removed by the sense they had 
of the excellency of Christ and his doctrine. 

2. It not only removes the hindrances of reason, but posi- 
tively helps reasoR. It makes even the speculative notions 
the more lively. It engages the attention of the mind, with 
the more fixedness aud intenseness to that kind of objects ; 
which causes it to have a clearer view of them, and enables it 
more clearly to see their mutual relations, and occasions it to 
take more notice of them. The ideas themselves that other- 
wise are dim and obscure, are by this means impressed with 


the greater strength, and have a light cast upon them ; so 
that the mind can better judge of them. As he that beholds 
the objects on the face of the earth, when the light of the sun 
is cast upon them, is under greater advantage to discern them 
in their true forms and mutual relations, than he that sees 
them in a dim star light or twilight. 

The mind having a sensibleness of the excellency of di- 
vine objects, dwells upon them with delight ; and the powers 
of the soul are more awakened and enlivened to employ 
themselves in the contemplation of them, and exert them- 
selves more fully and much more to the purpose. The beauty 
and sweetness of the objects draws on the faculties, and draws 
forth their exercises : So that reason itself is under far great- 
er advantages for its proper and free exercises, and to attain 
its proper end, free of darkness and delusion. But, 

Secondly. A true sense of the divine excellency of the 
things of (^od ? s word doth more directly and immediately 
convince of the truth of them ; and that because the excel- 
lency of these things is so superlative. There is a beauty in 
them that is so divine and godlike, that is greatly and evident- 
ly distinguishing of them from things merely human, or that 
men are the inventors and authors of ; a glory that is so high 
and great, that when clearly seen, commands assent to their 
divinity and reality. When there is an actual and lively dis- 
covery of this beauty and excellency, it will not allow of any 
such thought as that it is an human work, or the fruit of men's 
invention. This evidence that they that are spiritually enlight- 
ened have of the truth of the things of religion, is a kind of in- 
tuitive and immediate evidence. They believe the doctrines 
of God's word to be divine, because they see divinity in them. 
i. e. They see a ciivine, and transcendant, and most evidently 
distinguishing glory in them ; such a glory as, if clearly seen, 
does not leave room to doubt of their being of God, and not 
of men. 

Such a conviction of the truth of religion as this, arising, 
these ways, from a sense of the divine excellency of them, is 


that true spiritual conviction that there is in saving faith. And 
this original of it, is that by which it is most essentially dis- 
tinguished from that common assent, which unregenerate 
men are capable of. 

II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, viz. To 
show how this light is immediately given by God, and not ob- 
tained by natural means. And here, 

I. It is not intended that the natural faculties are not made 
use of in it. The natural faculties are the subject of this light : 
And they are the subject in such a manner, that they are not 
merely passive, butactive in it; the acts and exercises of man's 
understanding are concerned and made use of in it. God, in 
letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to 
his nature, or as a rational creature ; and makes use of his 
human faculties. But yet this light is not the less immedi- 
ately from God for that ; though the faculties are made use 
of, it is as the subject and not as the cause ; and that acting of 
the faculties in it, is not the cause, but is either implied in the 
thing itself (in the light that is imparted) or is the conse- 
quence of it. As the use that we make of our eyes in behold- 
ing various objects, when the sun arises, is not the cause of 
the light that discovers those objects to us. 

2. It is not intended that outward means have no concern 
in this affair. As I have observed already, it is not in this af- 
fair, as it is in inspiration, where new truths are suggested : 
For here is by this light only given a due apprehension of the 
same truths that are revealed in the word of God ; and there- 
fore it is not given without the word. The gospel is made 
use of in this affair: This light is the light of the glorious 
gospel of Christ. 2 Cor. iv. 4. The gospel is as a glass, by 
which this light is conveyed to us. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Now we 
see through a glass But, 

3. When it is said that this light is given immediately by 
God, and not obtained by natural means, hereby is intended, 
that it is given by God without making use of any means that 
operate by their own power, or a natural force. God makes 


use of means ; but it is not as mediate causes to produce this 
effect. There are not truly any second causes of it ; bit it is 
produced by God immediately. The word of God is no prop- 
er cause of this effect: It does not operate by any natural 
force in it. The word of God is only made use of t> convey 
lo the mind the subject matter of this saving instruction : 
And this indeed it doth convey to us by natural force or influ- 
ence. It conveys to our minds these and those doctrines ; it 
is the cause of the notion of them in our heads, but not of the 
sense of the divine excellency of them in our hearts. Indeed 
a person cannot have spiritual light without the word. But 
that does not argue, that the word properly causes that light. 
The mind cannot see the excellency of any doctrine, unless 
that doctrine be first in the mind ; hut the seeing of the excel- 
lency of the doctrine may be immediately from the Spirit of 
God ; though the conveying of the doctrine or proposition 
itself may be by the word. So that the notions that are the 
subject matter of this light, are conveyed to the mind by the 
■word of God; but that clue sense of the heart, wherein this 
light formally consists, is immediately by the Spirit of God. 
As for instance, that notion that there is a Christ, and that 
Christ is holy and gracious, is conveyed to the mind by the 
word of God: But the sense of the excellency of Christ by 
reason of that holiness and grace, is nevertheless immediately 
the work of the Holy Spirit. 

I come now, 

III. To show the truth of the doctrine ; that is, to show 
that there is such a thing us that spiritual light that has been 
described, thus immediately let into the mind by God. And 
here 1 would shew briefly, that this doctrine is both scriptural 
and ational. 

First. It is scriptural. My text is not only full to the 
purpose, but it is a doctrine that the scripture abounds in. 
We are there abundantly taught, that the saints differ from 
the ungodly in this, that they have the knowledge of God, and 
a sight of God, and of Jesus Christ. I shall mention but few 


texts of many. 1 John iii. 6. " Whosoever sinneth, has not; 
seen him, nor known him." 3 John 11." He that doth good, 
is of God : But he that doth evil, hath not seen God." John 
xiv. 19. " The world seeth me no more; but ye see me." 
John xvii. 3. " And this is eternal life, that they might know 
thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast 
sent" This knowledge, or sight of God and Christ, cannot 
be a mere speculative knowledge ; because it is spoken of as 
a seeing and knowing, wherein they differ from the ungodly. 
And by these scriptures it must, not only be a different knowl- 
edge in degree and circumstances, and different in its effects; 
but it must be entirely different in nature and kind. 

And this light and knowledge is always spoken of as im- 
mediately given of God. Matth. xi. 25, 26, 27. " At that 
time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of 
heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the 
■wise and pru'ent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even 
so, Father, lor it seemed good in thy sight. All things are 
delivered unto me of my Father : And no man knoweth the 
Son, but the Father : Neither knoweth any man the Father, 
save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." 
Here this effect is ascribed aloije to the arbitrary operation, 
and gift of God, bestowing this knowledge on whom he will, 
and distinguishing those with it, that have the least natural 
advantage or means for knowledge, even babes, when it is de- 
nied to thewise and prudent. And the imparting of the knowl- 
edge of God is here appropriated to the Son of God, as his 
sole prerogative. And again, 2 Cor. iv. 6. " For GoJ, who 
commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in 
oui hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of 
God, in the face of Jesus Christ." This. plainly shows, that 
there is such a thing as a discovery of the divine superlative 
glory and excellency of God and Christ, and that peculiar to 
the saints : And also, that it is as immediately from God, as 
light from the sun : And that it is the immediate effect of his 
power and will; for it is compared to God's creating the 
light by his powerful word in the beginning of the creation; 


and is said to be by the Spirit of the Lord, in the 18th verse 
of the preceding chapter. God is spoken of as giving the 
knowledge of Christ in conversion, as of what before was hid- 
den and unseen in that. Gal. i. 15, 16. " But when it pleased 
God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called 
me by his grace, to reveal his Sen in me." The scripture 
also speaks plainly of such a knowledge of the word of God, 
as has been described, as the immediate gift of God. Psal. 
cxix. 18. " Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold won- 
drous things out of thy law." What could the Psalmist 
mean, when he begged of Cod to open his eyes ? Was he ev- 
er blind ? Might he not have resort to the law and see every 
word and sentence in it when he pleased ? And what could he 
mean by those wondrous things ? Was it the wonderful sto- 
ries of the creation, and deluge, and Israel's passing through 
the Red Sea, and the like ? Were not his eyes open to read 
these strange things when he would ? Doubtless by wondrous 
things in God's law, he had respect to those distinguishing 
and wonderful excellencies, and marvellous manifestations of 
the divine perfections, and glory, that there was in the com- 
mands and doctrines of the word, and those works and coun- 
sels of God that were there revealed. So the scripture speaks 
of a knowledge of God's dispensation, and covenant of mercy, 
and way of grace towards his people, as peculiar to the saints, 
and given only by God. Psal. xxv. 14. " The secret of the 
Lord is with them that fear him ; and he will shew them his 

And that a true and saving belief of the truth of religion is 
that which arises from such a discovery, is also what the scrip- 
ture teaches. As John vi. 40. " And this is the will of him 
that sent me, that every one which sceth the Son, and believ- 
eth on him, may have everlasting life ;" where it is plain that 
a true faith is what arises from a spiritual sight of Christ. 
And John xvii. 6, 7, 8. " I have manifested thy name unto the 
men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have 
known that all things whatsoever tnou hast given me, are of 
thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou 


gavest me ; and they have received them, and have known 
surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that 
thou didst send me ;" where Christ's manifesting God's 
name to the disciples, or giving them the knowledge of God, 
was that whereby they knew that Christ's doctrine was of God, 
and that Chrisl himself was of him, proceeded from him, and 
was sent by him. Again, John xii. 44, 45, 46. « Jesus cried 
and said, he that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on 
him that sent me. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent 
me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believ- 
eth on me, should not abide in darkness." There believing 
in Christ, and spiritually seeing him, are spoken of as running 

Christ condemns the Jews, that they did not know that he 
was the Messiah, and that his doctrine was true, from an in* 
ward distinguishing taste and relish of what was divine, in Luke 
xii. 56, 57. He having there blamed the Jews, that though 
they could discern the face of the sky and of the earth, and signs 
of the weather, that yet they could not discern those times ; or 
as it is expressed in Matthew, the signs of those limes ; he 
adds, yea, and why even of your ownselves, judge ye not what is 
right ? i. e. without extrinsic signs. Why have ye not that 
sense of true excellency, whereby ye may distinguish that 
which is holy and divine ? Why have ye not that savor of the 
things of God, by which you may see the distinguishing glo- 
ry, and evident divinity of me and my doctrine ? 

The Apostle Peter mentions it as what gave them (the 
apostles) good and well grounded assurance of the truth of 
the gospel, that they had seen the divine glory of Christ. 2 
Pet. i. 15. " For we have not followed cunningly devised fa- 
bles when we made known unto you the power and coming of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his maj- 
esty." The apostle has respect to that visible glory of Christ 
which they saw in his transfiguration : That glory was so di- 
vine, having such an ineffable appearance and semblance of 
divine holiness, majesty, and grace, that it evidently denoted 
him to be a divine person. But if a sight of Christ's outward 
Vol. VIII. 2P 


glory might give a rational assurance of his divinity, why may 
not an apprehension of his spiritual glory do so too ? Doubt- 
less Christ's spiritual glory is in itself as distinguishing, and 
as plainly showing his divinity, as his outward glory, and a 
great deal more : For his spiritual glory is that wherein his 
divinity consists ; and the outward glory of his transfiguration 
shewed him to be divine, only as it was a remarkable image or 
representation of that spiritual glory. Doubtless, therefore, 
he that has had a clear sight of the spiritual glory of •Christ, 
may say, I have not followed cunningly devised fables, but 
have been an eye witness of his majesty, upon as good 
grounds as the apostle, when he had respect to the outward 
glory of Christ that he had seen. 

Bit this brings me to what was proposed next, viz. to 
show that, 

Secondly, This doctrine is rational. 

1. It is rational to suppose, that there is really such an ex- 
cellency in divine things, that is so transcendent and exceed- 
ingly different from what is in other things, that, if it were 
seen, would most evidenilydistinguish them, We cannot ra- 
tionally doubt but that things that are divine, that appertain to 
the Supreme Being, are vastly different from things that are 
human ; that there is that godlike, high, and glorious excel- 
lency in them, that does most remarkably difference thtm 
from the things that are of men ; insomuch that if the differ- 
ence were but seen, it would have a convincing, satisfying in- 
fluence upon any one, that they are what they are, viz. divine. 
What reason can be offered against it ? Unless we would ar- 
gue, that God is not remarkably distinguished in glory from 

If Christ should now appear to any one as he did on the 
mount at his transfiguration ; or if he should appear to the 
world in the glory that he now appears in in heaven, as he wilL 
do at the day of judgment ; without doubt, the glory and 
majesty that he would appear in, would be such as would satis- 
fy every one, that he was a divine person, and that religion 


was true : And it would be a most reasonable, and well ground- 
ed conviction too. And why may there not be that stamp of 
divinity, or divine glory on the word of God, on the scheme 
and doctrine of the gospel that may be in like manner distin- 
guishing and as rationally convincing, provided it be but seen I 
It is rational to suppose, that when God speaks to the world, 
there should be something in his word or speech vastly differ- 
ent from man's word. Supposing that God never had spoken 
to the world, but we had notice that he was about to do it ; 
that he was about to reveal himself from heaven, and speak to 
us immediately himself, in divine speeches or discourses, as 
it were from his own mouth, or that he should give us a book 
of his own inditing ; after what manner should we expect that 
he would speak ? Would it not be rational to suppose, that his 
speech would be exceeding different from man's speech, that 
he should speak like a God ; that is, that there should be such 
an excellency and sublimity in his speech or word, such a 
stamp of wisdom, holiness, majesty and other divine perfec- 
tions, that the word of man, yea of the wisest of men, should 
appear mean and base in comparison of it? Doubtless it would 
be thought rational to expect this, and unreasonable to think 
otherwise. VV r hen a wise man speaks in the exercise of his 
wisdom, there is something in every thing he says, that is very 
distinguishable from the talk of a little child. So, without 
doubt, and much more is the speech of God, (if there be any 
such thing as the speech of Gcd) to be distinguished from 
that of the wisest of men ; agreeably to Jer. xxiii. 28, 29. 
God having there been reproving the false prophets that 
prophesied in his name, and pretended that what they spake 
was his word, when indeed it was their own word, says, " The 
prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream ; and he that 
hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully : What is 
the chaff to the wheat ? Saith the Lord. Is not my word like 
as a fire ? Saith the Lord : And like a hammer that breaketh 
the rock in pieces ? 

2. If there be such a distinguishing excellency in divine 
things ; it is rational to suppose that there may be such a 


thing as seeing it. What should hinder but that it may be 
seen ? It is no argument, that there is no such thing as such 
a distinguishing excellency, or that, if there be, that it cannot 
be seen, that some do not see it, though they may be discern- 
ing men in temporal matters. It is not rational to suppose, 
if there be any such excellency in divine things, that wicked 
men should see it. It is not rational to suppose, that those 
whose minds are full of spiritual pollution, and under the pow- 
er of filthy lusts, should have any relish or sense of divine 
beauty or excellency ; or that their minds should be sus- 
ceptive of that light that is in its own nature so pure and heav- 
enly. It need not seem at all strange, that sin should so blind 
the mind, seeing that men's particular natural tempers and 
dispositions will so much blind them in secular matters ; as 
when men's natural temper is melancholy, jealous, fearful, 
proud, or the like. 

3. It is rational to suppose, that this knowledge should be 
given immediately by God, and not be obtained by natural 
means. Upon what account should it seem unreasonable, 
that there should be any immediate communication between 
God and the creature ? It is strange that men should make 
any matter of difficulty of it. Why should not he that made 
all things, still have something immediately to do with the 
things that he has made ? Where lies the great difficulty, if 
we own the being of a God, and that he created all things out 
of nothing, of allowing some immediate influence of God on 
the creation still ? And if it be reasonable to suppose it with 
respect to any part of the creation, it is especially so with res- 
pect to reasonable, intelligent creatures ; who are next to 
God in the gradation of the different orders of beings, and 
whose business is most immediately with God ; who were 
TCiuuc \A\ purpose for those exercises that do respect God and 
wherein they have nextly to do with God : For reason teach- 
es, that man was made to serve and glorilyhis Creator. And 
if it be rational to suppose that God immediately communi- 
cates himself to man in any affair, it is in this. It is rational 
to suppose that God would reserve that knowledge and wis* 


dom, that is of such a divine and excellent nature, to be be- 
stowed immediately by himself, and that it should not be left 
in the power of second causes. Spiritual wisdom and grace 
is the highest and most excellent gift that ever God bestows 
on any creature : In this the highest excellency and perfec- 
tion of a rational creature consists. It is also immensely the 
most important of all divine gifts : It is that wherein man's 
happiness consists, and on which his everlasting welfare de- 
pends. How rational is it to suppose that God, however he 
has left meaner goods and lower gifts to second causes, and in 
some sort in their power, yet should reserve this most excel- 
lent, divine, and important of all divine communications, in 
his own hands, to be bestowed immediately by himself, as a 
thing too great for second causes to be concerned in ? It is 
rational to suppose, that this blessing should be immediately 
from God ; for there is no gift or benefit chat is in itself so 
nearly related to the divine nature, there is nothing the crea- 
ture receives that is so much of God, of his nature, so much a 
participation of the deity : It is a kind of emanation of God's 
beauty, and is related to God as the light is to the sun. It is 
therefore congruous and fit, that when it is given of God, it 
should be nextly from himself, and by himself, according to 
his own sovereign will. 

It is rational to suppose, that it should be beyond a man's 
power to obtain this knowledge and light by the mere strength 
of natural reason ; for it is not a thing that belongs to reason, 
to see the beauty and loveliness of spiritual things ; it is not 
a speculative thing, but depends on the sense of the heart. 
Reason indeed is necessary in order to it, as it is by reason on- 
ly that we are become the subjects of the means of it ; which 
means I have already shown to be necessary in order to it, 
though they have no proper causal in the affair. It is by rea- 
son that we become possessed of a notion of those doctrines 
that are the subject matter of this divine light ; and reason 
may many ways be indirectly and remotely an advantage to it. 
And reason has also to do in the acts that are immediately 
consequent on this discovery : A seeing the truth of religion 


from hence, is by reason ; though it be but by one step, and 
the inference be immediate. So reason has to do in that ac- 
cepting of, and trusting in Christ, that is consequent on it. 
But if we take reason strictly, not for the faculty of mental 
perception in general, but for ratiocination, or a power of in- 
fering by arguments; I say, if we take reason thus, the per- 
ceiving of spiritual beauty and excellency no more belongs to 
reason, than it belongs to the sense of feeling to perceive col- 
ors, er to the power of seeing to perceive the sweetness of 
food. It is out of reason's province to perceive the beauty 
or loveliness of any thing : Such a perception does not belong 
to that faculty. Reason's work is to perceive truth and not 
excellency. It is not ratiocination that gives men the per- 
ception of the beauty and amiableness of a countenance, 
thpugh it may be many ways indirectly an advantage to it ; yet 
it is no more reason that immediately perceives it, than it is 
reason that perceives the sweetness of honey : It depends on 
the sense of the heart Reason may determine that a counte- 
nance is beautiful to others, it may determine that honey is 
sweet to others ; but it will never give me a perception of its 

I will conclude with a very brief improvement of what has 
been said. 

First. This doctrine may lead us to reflect on the good- 
ness of God, that has so ordered it, that a saving evidence of 
the truth of the gospel is such, as is attainable by persons of 
mean capacities and advantages, as well as those that are of 
the greatest pnts and learning. If the evidence of the gos- 
pel depended only on history, and su^h reasonings as learned 
men only are cap .ble of, it would be above the reach of far the 
greatest part of mankind. But persons with but an ordinary 
degree of knowledge, are capable, without a long and subtile 
train of reasoning, to see the divine excellency of the things 
of religion : They are capable of being taught by the Spirit 
of God, as well as learned men. The evidence that is this 
way obtained, is vastly better and more satisfying, than all that 


can be obtained by tbe arguings of those that are most learned, 
and greatest masters of reason. And babes are as capable of 
knowing these things, as the wise and prudent ; and they are 
often hid from these when they are revealed to those. 1 Cor. 
i. 26, .7. "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not 
many wise men, after the flesh, not many mighty, not many 
noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of 
the world " 

Secondly. This doctrine may well put us upon exam- 
ining ourselves, whether we have ever had this divine light, 
that has been described, let into our souls. If there be such 
a thing indeed, and it be not only a notion or whimsy of per- 
sons of weak and distempered brains, then doubtless it is a 
thing of great importance, whether we have thus been taught 
by the Spirit of God ; whether the light of the glorious gos- 
pel of Christ, who is the image of God, hath shined unto us, 
giving us (he light of the knowledge of the glory of God in 
the face of Jesus Christ ; whether we have seen the Son, and 
believed on him, or have that faith of gospel doctrines that 
arises from a spiritual sight of Christ. 

Thirdly. All may hence be exhorted, earnestly to seek 
this spiritual light. To influence and move to it, the follow- 
ing things may be considered. 

1. This is the most excellent and divine wisdom that any 
ereature is capable of. It is mo/e excellent than any human 
learning ; it is far more excellent than all the knowledge 
of the greatest philosophers or statesmen. Yea, the least 
glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Christ doth more 
exalt and ennoble the soul, than all the knowledge of those 
that have the greatest speculative understanding in divinity 
without grace. This knowledge has the most noble object 
that is or can be, viz. the divine glory and excellency of God 
and Christ. The knowledge of these objects is that wherein 
consists the most excellent knowledge of the angels, yea, of 
God himself. 

2. This knowledge is that which is above all others sweet 
and joyful. Men have a great deal of pleasure in humaii 


knowledge, in studies of natural things ; but this is nothing to 
that joy which arises from this divine light shining into the 
soul. This light gives a view of those things that are im- 
mensely the most exquisitely beautiful, and capable of delight- 
ing the eye of the understanding. This spiritual light is the 
dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing 
so powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to 
give the mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark 

3. This light is such as effectually influences the inclina- 
tion, and changes the nature of the soul. It assimilates the 
nature to the divine nature, and changes the soul into an im- 
age of the same glory that is beheld. 2 Cor. iii. 18. "But 
we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the 
Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, 
even as by the Spirit of the Lord." This knowledge will 
wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly 
things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, 
and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this 
only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It 
conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and op- 
position against the scheme of salvation therein revealed : It 
causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to 
adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our 
Saviour : It causes the whole soul to accord and symphonise 
with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect, cleaving to 
it with full inclination and affection ; and it effectually dispos- 
es the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ. 

4. this light, and this only, has its fruit in an universal ho- 
liness of life. No merely notional or speculative understand- 
ing of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But 
this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes 
the nature, so it will effectually dispose to an universal obedi- 
ence. It shows God's worthiness to be obeyed and served. 
It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the 
only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience ; 
and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that 
God has promised to them that, obey him. 


The Church's Marriage to her Sons, and to her 

ISAIAH lxii. 4, 5. 


IN the midst of many blessed promises that God 
makes to his church in this and the preceding and following 
chapters, of advancement to a state of great peace, comfort, 
honor and joy, after long continued affliction, we have the sum 
of all contained in these two verses. In the 4th verse God 
says to his church, " Thou shalt no more be termed, Forsak- 

* Freached at the ins'alment of the P.ev. Mr. Samuel Bucl, as pastor off 
the church and congregation at East Hampton, oa Long Island, September 

Vol. VIII. 2 Q 


en ; neither shall thy land any more be termed, Desolate : ! 
But thou shall be called Hephzibah, and thy land, licuhth : 
For the Lo-d delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be mar- 
ried." Wh.-n it is said, « Thy land shall be married," we 
are. by thy land, to un lerstand " the body of thy people, thy 
whole race ;" the land, by a metonymy very usual in scrip- 
ture, being put for the people that inhabit the land. 

The 5th verse explains how this that is promised in the 
last words of verse 4, should be accomplished in two things,, 
viz. in being married to her sons, and married to her God. 

1. It is promised that she should be married to her sons, or 
that her sons should many her : For as a young man marri- 
eth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee." Or, as the worde 
might have been more literally translated from the original : 
" As a young man is married to a virgin, so shall thy sons be 
married to thee " Some by this understand a promise, that 
the posterity of the captivated Jews should return again from 
Babylon to the land of Canaan, and should be, as it were, mar- 
ried or wedded to their own land ; i. e. They should be re- 
united to their own land, and should have great comfort and 
joy in it, as a young man in a virgin that he marries. But 
their thus interpreting the words seems to be through inad- 
vertence ; not carefully observing the words themselves, how 
that when it is said, " So shall thy sons marry thee," Cod 
does not direct his speech to the land itself, but to the church 
whose land it was ; the pron* un thee being applied to the 
same mystical person in this former part of the verse, as in 
the words immediately fpJ.low.ing in the latter part of the same 
sentence, "And as the bridegroom rejoice th over the bride, 
so sj I thy odi-.ij;cc over tiiee." It is the church, and 
not the lulls arc) v..iieysoi the land of Canaan, that is Cod's 
bri.ie, or the Lamp's wife. It is also manifest, that when 
Cod says, "So shall thy sons marry thee," he continues to. 
speak to her to whom he had spoken in the three preceding 
verses ; but there it is not the ground or soil of the land of Ca- 
naan, but the ci'Uich, that he speaks to when he says, " The; 
Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory :. 


i%nd thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of 
the Lord shall mime. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in 
the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy 
"God. Thou shalt no more be termed, Forsaken," Stc. And 
to represent the land itself as a bride, and the subject of es- 
pousals and marriage, Would be a figure of speech very un- 
natural, and not known in scripture ; but for the church of 
God to be thus represented is very usual throughout the 
scripture from the beginning to the end of the Bible. And 
then it is manifest that the return of the Jews to the land of 
Canaan from the Babylonish captivity, is not the event mainly 
Intended by the prophecy of wnich these words are a part 
The time of that return was not the time when that was ful- 
filled in the 2d verse of this chapter, " And the Gentiles shall 
see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory : And thou 
shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the .Lord 
shall name." That Was not the time spoken of in the two 
preceding chapters, with which this chapter is one continued 
prophecy. That wis not the time spoken of in the lust words 
of the foregoing chapter, when the Lord would cause right- 
eousness and praise to spring forth before all nations : Nor 
was it the time spoken of in the 5th, 6th, and 9th verses of 
that chapter, when " strangers should stand and feed the 
flocks of God's people, and the sons of the alien should be 
their ploughmen, and vinedressers ; but they should be nam- 
ed the priests of the Lord, and men should call them the min- 
isters of God ; when they should eat the riches of the Gen- 
tiles, and in their glory beast themselves, and their seed 
should be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring 
among the people ; and all that should see them should ac- 
knowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath 
blessed." Nor was that the time spoken of in the chapter 
preceding that, "when the abundance of the sea should be 
converted unto the church ; when the isles should wait for 
God, and the ships of Tarshish to bring her sons from far, 
and their silver and gold with them ; when the forces of the 
Gentiles and their kings shoukt be brought ; when the church 


should suck the milk of the Gentiles, and suck the breast of 
kings ; and when that nation and kingdom that would not 
serve her should perish and be utterly wasted : And when 
the sun should be no more her light by clay, neither for bright- 
ness should the moon give light unto her, but the Lord should 
be unto her an everlasting light, and her God her glory ; and 
her sun should no more go down, nor her moon withdraw it- 
self, because the Lord should be her everlasting light, and 
the days of her mourning should be ended " These things 
manifestly have respect to the Christian church in her most 
perfect and glorious state on earth in the last ages of the 
•world ; when the church should be so fur from being confin- 
ed to the land of Canaan, that she should fill the whole earth, 
and all lands should be alike holy. 

So that the children of Israel's being wedded to the land 
of Canaan, being manifestly not the meaning of these words 
in the text, " As a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy 
sons marry thee," as some suppose ; I choose rather, with 
others, to understand the words of the church's union wiih 
her faithful pastors, and the great benefits she should receive 
from them. God's ministers, though they are set to he the 
instructors, guides, and fathers of God's people, yet are also 
the sons of the church. Amos ii. 1 1. "I raised up of your 
sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites." 
Such as these, when faithful, are those piecious sons of Zion 
comparable to fine gold spoken of, Lam. iv. 2, spoken of 
again, verse 7. " Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they 
■were whiter than milk." And as he that marries a young 
virgin becomes the guide of her youth ; so these sons of Zion 
are represented as taking her by the hand as her guide. Isai. 
Ii. 18. " There is none to guide her among ail the sons whom 
she hath brought forth : Neither is there any that taketh her 
by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up." That 
by these sons of the church is meant ministers of the gospel, 
is confirmed by the next verse to the text, " I have set watch- 
men upon thy walls, O Jerusalem." 


That the sons of the church should be married to her as a 
young man to a virgin, is a mystery or paradox not unlike 
many others held forth in the word of God, concerning the re- 
lation between Christ and his people, and their relation to him 
and to one another ; such as that Christ is David's Lord 
and yet his son, and both the root and offspring of David ; that 
Christ is a son born and a child given, and yet the everlasting 
Father; that the church is Christ's mother, as she is repre- 
sented, Cant. iii. 1 1, and viii. l....and yet that she is his spouse, 
his sister, and his child ; that believers are Christ's mother, 
and yet his sister and brother ; and that ministers are the 
sons of the church, and yet that they are her fathers, as the 
apostle speaks of himself, as the father of the members of 
the church of Corinth, and also the mother of the Galatians, 
travailing in birth with them, Gal. iv. 19. 

2. The second and chief fulfilment here spoken of, of that 
promise of the church's being married, is in her being mar- 
ried to Christ " And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the 
bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Not that we are 
to understand that the church has many husbands, or that 
Christ is one husband, and ministers are other husbands that 
she hath : For though ministers are here spoken of as being 
married to the church, yet it is not as being his fellows or 
competitors, or as husbands of the church standing in a conju- 
gal relation to his bride in any wise parallel with his : For the 
church has but one husband ; she is not an adulteress, but a 
virgin, that is devoted wholly to the Lamb, and follows him 
whithersoever he goes. But ministers espouse the church 
entirely as Christ's ambassadors, as representing him and 
standing in his stead, being sent forth by him to be married 
to her in his name, that by this means she may be married to 
him. As when a prince marries a foreign lady by proxy, the 
prince's ambassador marries her, but not in nis own name, 
but in the name of his master, that he may be the instrument 
of bringing her into a true conjugal relation to him. This is 
agreeable to what the apostle says, 2 Cor. xi. 2. " I am jeal- 
ous over you with a godly jealousy ; for I have espoused you 


to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin t« 
Christ " Here the apostle represents himself as being, as it 
■were, the husband of the church of L'orinth ; ior it is the hus- 
band that is jealous when the wife commits adultery ; and 
yet he speaks of himself as having espoused them, not in his 
own name, but in the name of Chribt, and for him, and him 
only, and as his ambassador, sent forth to bring them home a 
chaste virgin 10 him. Ministt rs ate in the text represented 
as married to the churcn in the same sense that elsewhere 
they are represented as fathers of the church : The church 
has but one lather, even God, and ministers are fathers as his 
ambassadors ; so the church has but one shepherd John x. 
16. "There shall be one fold and one shepherd ;" but. yet 
ministers, as Christ's ambassadors, are oiten called the 
church's shepherds or pastors. The church has but one 
Saviour ; but yet ministers, as his ambassadors and instru- 
ments, are called her saviours. 1 Tim. iv. 16. "In doing 
this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." 
Obad. 21. "And saviours shall come upon Mount Zion." 
The church has but one Priest; but yet in Isai. lx\i. 21, 
speaking of the ministers of the Gentile nations, it is said, " I 
will take of them for priests and Levitcs." The church has 
but one Judge, for the Father hath committed all judgment 
to the Son ; yet Christ tells his apostles, that they shall sit on 
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

When the text speaks first of ministers marrying the 
church, and then of Christ's rejoicing ovei her as the bride- 
groom rejoiceth over the bride ; the former is manilestly 
spoken oi as being in order to the latter, even in order to the 
joy and happiness that the church shall have in her true bride- 
groom. The preaching of the gospel is in this context spok- 
en of three times agon.g, as the great means ot bringing about 
the prosperity and joy of the church ; that is foretold ; once 
in the first verse, " For Zion's sake will 1 not nold mj peace, 
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteous- 
ness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof 
as a lamp that burnetii ;" and then again in the text, and lastly 


an the two following verses, " I have set watchmen upon thy 
walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace clay 
nor night : Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not si- 
lence ; and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make 
Jerusalem a praise in the earth; 

The text thus opened affords these two propositions prop- 
er for our consideration on the solemn occasion of this day. 

I. The uniting of faithful ministers with Christ's people 
in the ministerial office, when done in a due manner, is like a 
young man's marrying a virgin. 

II. This union of ministers with the people of Christ is in 
order to their being brought to the blessedness of a more glo- 
rious union, in which Christ shall rejoice over them, as the 
bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride. 

I. The uniting of a faithful minister with Christ's people 
in the ministerial office, when done in a due manner, is like a 
young man's marrying a virgin. 

I say, the uniting of a faithful minister with Christ's peo- 
ple, and in a due manner : For we must suppose that the 
promise God makes to the church in the text, relates to such 
ministers, and such a manner of union with the church ; be- 
cause this is promised to the church as a part of her latter 
day glory, and as a benefit that should be granted her by God, 
as the fruit cf his great love to her, and an instance of hei 
great spiritual prosperity and happiness in her purest and 
most excellent state on earth. But it would be no such in- 
stance of God's great favor and the church's happiness, to 
have unfaithful ministers entering into office in an undue and 
improper manner. They are evidently faithful ministers 
that are spoken of in the next verse, where the same are 
doubtless spoken of as in the text, " I have set watchmen on 
thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace 
day nor night." And they are those that shall be introduced 
into the ministry at a time of its extraordinary purity, order. 


and beauty, wherein (as is said in the first, second, and third 
verses) her righteousness should go forth as brightness, and 
the Gentiles should see her righteousness, and all lungs her 
glory, and she should be a crown of glory in the hand of the 
Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of her God." 

When I speak of the uniting of a faithful minister with 
Christ's people in a due manner, I do not mean a due manner 
only with regard to external older ; but its being truly d<>ne 
in a holy manner, with sincere upright aims and intentions, 
with a right disposition, and proper frames of mind in those 
that are concerned ; and particularly in the minister that 
takes the office, and God's people to whom he is united, each 
exercising in this affair a proper regard to God and one an- 

Such an uniting of a faithful minister with the people of 
God in the ministerial office, is in some respect like a young 
man's marrying a virgin. 

1. When a duly qualified person is properly invested with 
the ministerial character, and does in a due manner take upon 
him the sacred work and office of a minister of the gospel, he 
does, in some sense, espouse the church of Christ in general : 
For though he do not properly stand in a pastoral relation to 
the whole church of Christ through the earth, and is far from 
becoming an universal pastor ; yet thenceforward he has a 
different concern with the church of Christ in general, and its 
interests and welfare, than other persons have that are lay- 
men, and should be regarded otherwise by all the members 
of the Christian church. Wherever he is providentially 
called to preach the word of God, or minister in holy things, 
he ought to be received as a minister of Christ, and the mes- 
senger of the Lord of Hosts to them. And every one that: 
takes on him the office of a minister of Christ as he ought to 
do, espouses the church of Christ, as he espouses the interest 
of the church in a manner that is peculiar. He is under obli- 
gations, as a minister of the Christian church, beyond other 
men, to love the church, as Christ, her true bridegroom, hath 
loved her, and to prefer Jerusalem above his chief joy, and to 


imitate Christ, the great shepherd and bishop of souls and 
husband of the church, in his care and tender concern for the 
church's welfare, and earnest and constant labors to promote 
it, as he has opportunity. And as he, in taking office, devotes 
himself to the service of Christ in his church; so he gives 
himself to the church, to be hers, in that love tender care, 
constant endeavor, and earnest labor for her provision, com- 
fort, and welfare, that is proper to his office, as a minister of 
the church of Christ, by the permission of divine Providence, 
as long as he lives ; as a young man gives himself to a virgin 
when he marries her. And the church of Christ in general, 
as constituted of true saints through the world, (though they 
do not deliver up themselves to any one particular minister, 
as universal pastor, yet) do cleave to, and embrace the min- 
istry of the church with endeared affection and high honor, 
and esteem, for Christ's sake ; and do joyfully commit and 
subject themselves to them to cleave to,honor,and help them* 
to be guided by them and obey them so long as in the world ; 
as the bride doth in marriage cleave and deliver up herself to 
her huband. And the ministry in generator the whole num- 
ber of faithful ministers, being all united in the same work as 
fellow laborers, and conspiring to the same design as fellow 
helpers to the grace of God, may be considered as one mysti- 
cal person, that espouses the church as a young man espous- 
es a virgin: As the many elders of the church of Ephesus 
are represented as one mystical person, Rev. ii. 1, and all call- 
ed the angel of the church of Ephesus ; and as the faithful 
ministers of Christ in general, all over the world, seem to be 
represented as one mystical person, and called an ant;el, Rev. 
xiv. 6. " And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, 
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell 
upon the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, 
and people." But, 

2. More especially is the uniting of a faithful minister 
with a particular Christian peopie, as their pastor, when done 
in a due manner, like a young man's marrying a virgin. 
Vol. VIII. 2R 


It is so with respect to the union itself, the concomitants 
of the union, and the fruits of it. 

(1.) The union itself is, in several respects, like that 
which is between a young man and a virgin whom he mar- 

It is so with respect to mutual regard and affection. A faith- 
ful minister, that is in a Christian manner united to a Christian 
people as their pastor, has his heart united to them in the 
most ardent and tender affection : And they, on the other 
hand, have their hearts united to him, esteeming him very 
highly in love for his works' sake, and receiving him with 
honor and reverence, and willingly subjecting themselves to 
him, and committing themselves to his care, as being, under 
Christ, their head and guide. 

And such a pastor and people are like a young man and 
-virgin united in marriage, with respect to the purity of their 
regard one to another. The young man gives himself to his 
bride in purity, as undebauched by meretricious embraces ; 
and she also presents herself to him a chaste virgin. So in 
such an union of a minister and people as we are speaking of, 
the parties united are pure and holy in their affection and re- 
gard one to another. The minister's heart is united to the 
people, not for filthy lucre, or any worldly advantage, but with 
a pure benevolence to them, and desire of their spiritual wel- 
fare and prosperity, and complacence in them as the children 
of God and followers of Christ Jesus. And, on the other 
hand, they love and honor him with an holy affection and es- 
teem ; and not merely as having their admiration raised, and 
their carnal affections moved by having their ears tickled, and 
their curiosity, and other fleshly principles, gratified by a flor- 
id eloquence, and the excellency of speech and man's wis- 
dom ; but receiving him as the messenger of the Lord of 
Hosts, coming to them on a divine and infinitely important er- 
rand, and with those holy qualifications that resemble the vir- 
tues of the Lamb of God. 

And as the bridegroom and bride give themselves to each 
other in covenant ; so it is in that union we are speaking ot 


between a faithful pastor and a Christian people. The min- 
ister, by solemn vows, devotes himself to the people, to im- 
prove his time and strength, and spend and be spent for them, 
so long as God in his Providence shall continue the union : 
And they, on the other hand, in a holy covenant commit the 
care of their souls to him, and subject themselves to him. 

(2.) The union between a faithful minister and a Christ- 
ian people, that we are speaking of, is like that between a 
young man and virgin in their marriage, with respect to the 
concomitants of it. 

When such a minister and such a people are thus united, 
it is attended with great joy. The minister joyfully devot- 
ing himself to the service of his Lord in the work of the min- 
istry, as a work that he delights in : And also joyfully uniting 
himself to the society of the saints that he is set over, as hav- 
ing complacence in them, for his dear Lord's sake, whose 
people they are ; and willingly and joyfully, on Christ's call, 
undertaking the labors and difficulties of the service of their 
souls. And they, on the other hand, joyfully receiving him 
as a precious gift of their ascending Redeemer. Thus a 
faithful minister and a Christian people are each other's joy, 
Rom. xv. 32. " That I may come unto you with joy by the 
will of God, and may with you be refreshed." 2 Cor. i. 14. 
a As you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your re- 
joicing, even as ye are ours." 

Another concomitant of this union, wherein it resembles 
that which becomes a young man and virgin united in mar- 
riage, is mutual helpfulness, and a constant care and endeav- 
or to promote each other's good and comfort. The minister 
earnestly and continually seeks the profit and comfort of the 
souls of his people, and to guard and defend them from every 
thing that might annoy them, and studies and labors to pro- 
mote their spiritual peace and prosperity. They, on the oth- 
er hand, make it their constant care to promote his comfort, 
to make the burden of his great and difficult work easy, to avoid 
those things that might add to the difficulty of it, and that 
might justly be grievous to his heart ; and do what in them 


lies to encourage his heart, and strengthen his hands in his 
work ; and are ready to say to him, when called to exert him- 
seli in '.he more difficult parts of his work, as the people of 
old to Ezra the priest, when they saw him bowed down under 
the burden of a difficult affair, Ezra x. 4. " Arise, for this 
matter belongeth to thee : We also will be with thee : Be of 
good courage, and do it." They spare no pains nor cost to 
make their pastor's outward circumstances easy and comfort- 
able, and free from pinching necessities and distracting cares, 
and to put him under the best advantages to follow his great 
work fully and successfully. 

Such a pastor and people, as it is between a couple happi- 
ly united in a conjugal relation, have a mutual sympathy with 
each other, a fellow feeling of each others' burdens andcalam- 
ities, and a communion in each other's prosperity and joy. 
When the people suffer in their spiritual interests, the pastor 
suffers : He is afflicted when he sees their souls in trouble 
and darkness : He feels their wounds ; and he looks on their 
prosperity and comfort as his own. 2 Cor. xi. 29. « Who 
is weak, and I am not weak ? Who is offended, and I burn 
not ?" 2 Cor. vii. 13. « We were comforted in your com- 
fort." And, on the other hand, the people feel their pastor's 
burdens, and rejoice in his prosperity and consolations ; see 
Phil. iv. 14, and 2 Cor ii. 3. 

(3.) This union is like that which is between a young man 
and a virgin in it-, fruits.. 

One fruit of it is mutual benefit : They become meet 
helps one for, another. The people receive great benefit by 
the minister, as he is their teacher to communicate spiritual 
instructions and counsels to them, and is set to watch over 
them to defend them from those enemies and calamities 
they are liable to ; and so is, under Christ, to be both their 
guide and guard, as the husband is of the wife. And as the 
husband provides the wife with food and clothing ; so the 
pastor, as Christ's steward, makes provision for his people, 
and brings forth out of his treasure things new and old, gives 
every one his portion of meat in due season, and is made the, 


instrument of spiritually clothing and adorning their souls. 
And, on the other hand, the minister receives benefit from 
the people, and they minister greatly to his spiritual good by 
that holy converse to which their union to him as his flock 
leads them. The conjugal relation leads the persons united 
therein to the most intimate acquaintance and conversation 
with each other ; so the union there is between a faithful pas- 
tor and a Christian people, leads them to intimate conver- 
sation about things of a spiritual nature : It leads the people 
most freely and fully to open the case of their souls to the pas- 
tor, and leads him to deal most freely, closely, and thoroughly 
with them in things pertaining thereto. And this conversa- 
tion not only tends to their benefit, but alo greatly to his. 

And the pastor receives benefit from the people outwardly, 
as they take care of and order his outward accommodations 
for his support and comfort, and do, as it were, spread and 
serve his table for him. 

Another fruit of this union, wherein it resembles the con- 
jugal union, is a spiritual offspring. There is wont to arise 
from the union of such a pastor and people, a spiritual race of 
the children of the congregation that are new born. These 
new born children of God are in the Scripture represented 
both as the children of ministers, as those that have begotten 
them through the gospel, and also as the children of the 
church, who is represented as their mother that hath brought 
them forth, and at whose breasts they are nourished ; as in 
Isaiah liv. 1. and lxvi. 11. Gal. iv. 26. 1 Pet. ii. 2. and many 
other places. 

Having thus briefly shewn how the uniting of faithful min- 
isters with Christ's people in the ministerial office, when done 
in a due manner, is like a young man's marrying a virgin, 

I proceed now to the 

II. Proposition, viz. That this union of ministers with 

the people of Christ, is in order to their being brought to the 

blessedness of a more glorious union, in which Christ shall 

/ejoice over them as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride. 


I. The saints are, and shall be the subjects of this blessed- 
ness. Of all the many various kinds of union of sensible and 
temporal things that are used in Scripture to represent the re- 
lation there is between Christ and his church ; that which is 
between bridegroom and bride, or husband and wife, is much 
the most frequently made use of both in the Old and New 
Testament. The Holy Ghost seems to take a peculiar delight 
in this* as a similitude fit to represent the strict, intimate, and 
blessed union tha* is between Christ and his saints. The 
apostle intimates, that one end why God appointed marriage, 
and established so near a relation as that between husband 
and wife, was, that it might be a type of the union that is be- 
tween Christ and his church; in Eph. v. 30, 31,32. "For 
we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and 
shall be joined to his wife ; and they two shall be one flesh." 
....For this cause, i. e. because we are members of Christ's 
tody, of his flesh, and of his bones : For this cause, God ap- 
pointed that man and wife should be so joined together as to 
be one flesh, to represent this high and blessed union between 
Christ and his church : The apostle explains himself in the 
next words, " This is a great mystery, but I speak concern- 
ing Christ and the church." This institution of marriage, 
and making the man and his wife one flesh, is a great mystery; 
i. e. it contains in it a great mystery ; there is a great and 
glorious mystery hid in the dtsign of it : And the apostle tells 
us what that glorious mystery is, " I speak concerning Christ 
and the church :" As much as to say, the mystery I speak of, 
is that blessed union that is between Christ and his church, 
which I spoke of before. 

This union is a blessed union indeed; of which that be- 
tween a faithful minister and a Christian people is but a shad- 
ow. Ministers are not the proper husbands of the church, 
though their union to God's people, as Christ's ambassadors, 
in several respects resembles the conjugal relation : But 
Christ is the true husband of the church, to whom ihe souls 
of the saints are espoused indeed, and to whom they are united 


as his flesh and his bones, yea, and one spirit ; to whom thejr 
have given themselves in an everlasting covenant, and whom 
alone they cleave to, love, honor, obey, and trust in, as their 
spiritual husband, whom alone they reserve themselves for 
as chaste virgins, and whom they follow whithersoever he go- 
eth. There are many ministers in the church of Christ, and 
there may be several pastors of one particular church : But 
the church has but one husband, all others are rejected and 
despised in comparison of him ; he is among the sons as the 
apple tree among the trees of the wood ; they all are barren 
and worthless, he only is the fruitful tree ; and therefore, leav- 
ing all others, the church betakes herself to him alone, and sits 
under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to 
her taste ; she takes up her full and entire rest in him, desir- 
ing no other. The relation between a minister and people 
shall be dissolved, and may be dissolved before death : But 
the union between Christ and his church shall never be dis- 
solved, neither before death nor by death, but shall endure 
through all eternity : " The mountains shall depart, and the 
hills be removed ; but Christ's conjugal love and kindness 
shall not depart from his church ; neither shall the covenant 

of his peace, the marriage covenant, be removed," Is. iiv. 1 

The union between a faithful minister and a Christian peo- 
ple is but a partial resemblance even of the marriage union, it 
is like marriage only in some particulars : But with respect 
to the union between Christ and his church, marriage is but a 
partial resemblance, yea, a faint shadow of that: Everything 
that is desirable and excellent in the union between an earthly 
bridegroom and bride, is to be found in the union between 
Christ and his church ; and that in an infinitely greater per- 
fection and more glorious manner : There is infinitely more 
to be found in it than ever was found between the happiest 
couple in a conjugal relation ; or could be found if the bride 
and bridegroom had not only the innocence of Adam and Eve, 
but the perfection of angels. 

Christ and his saints, standing in such a relation as this one 
*.o another, the saints must needs be unspeakably happy i 


Their mutual joy in each other is answerable to the neariiefi 
of their relation and strictness of their union : Christ rejoices 
over the church as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, 
and she rejoices in him as the bride rejoices in the bride- 
groom. My text has respect to the mutual joy that Christ 
and his church should have in each other: For though the 
joy of Christ over his church only is mentioned, yet it is evi- 
dent that this is here spoken of and promised as the great hap- 
piness of the church, and therefore supposes her joy in him. 

The mutual joy of Christ and his church is like that of 
bridegrooom and bride, in that they rejoice in each other, as 
those that they have chosen above others, for their neai'est, 
most intimate, and everlasting friends and companions. The 
church is Christ's chosen, Isaiah xli. 9. " I have chosen thee, 
and not cast thee away :" Chap, xlviii. 10. " I have chosen 
thee, in the furnace of affliction." How often are God's saints 
called his elect or chosen ones ? He has chosen them, not to 
be mere servants, but friends ; John xv. 15. "I call you not 
servants ;....but I have called you friends." And though 
Christ be the Lord of glory, infinitely above men and angels, 
yet he has chosen the elect to be his companions ; and has 
taken upon him their nature ; and so in some respect, as it 
were, levelled himself with them, that he might be their broth- 
er and companion. Christ as well as David, calls the saints 
his brethren and companions, Psalm cxxii. 8. " For my 
brethren and companions' sake I will now say, Peace be with- 
in thee." So in the book of Canticles, he calls his church 
his sister and spouse. Christ hath loved and chosen his 
church as his peculiar friend, above others ; Psalm exxxv. 4. 
" The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for 
his peculiar treasure." As the bridegroom chooses the 
bride for his peculiar friend, above all others in the world ; so 
Christ has chosen his church for a peculiar nearness to him, 
as his flesh and his bone, and the high honor and dignity of 
espousals above all others, rather than the fallen angels, yea, 
rather than the elect angels. For verily, in this respect, " he 
takcth not hold of angels, but he taketh hold of the seed of 


Abraham ;" as the words are in the original, in Heb. ii. 16. 
He has chosen his church above the rest of man kind, above all 
the Heathen nations, and those that are without the visible 
church, and above all other professing Christians. Cant. vi. 9. 
" My dove, my undefiled is but one ; she is the only one of 
her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." Thus 
Christ rejoices over his church, as obtaining in her that 
which he has chosen above all the rest of the creation, and 
as sweetly resting in his choice. Psal. cxxxii. 13, 14. "The 
Lord hath chosen Zion : He hath desired it. This is my 
rest for ever." 

On the other hand, the church chooses Christ above all 
others : He is in her eyes the chief among ten thousands, 
fairer than the sons of men : She rejects the suit of all his ri- 
vals for his sake : Her heart relinquishes the whole world : 
He is her pearl of great price, for which she parts with all ; 
and rejoices in him, as the choice and rest of her soul. 

Christ and his church, like the bridegroom and bride, re- 
joice in each other, as having a special propriety in each oth- 
er. All things are Christ's ; but he has a special propriety 
in his church. There is nothing in heaven or earth, among 
all the creatures, that is his, in that high and excellent man- 
ner that the church is his : They are often called his portion, 
and inheritance ; they are said, Rev. xiv. 4, " to be the first 
fruits to God and the Lamb." As of old, the first fruit was 
that part of the harvest that belonged to God, and was to be 
offered to him ; so the saints are the first fruits of God's 
creatures, being that part which is in a peculiar manner 
Christ's portion, above all the rest of the creation. James i. 
18. " Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that 
we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." And 
Christ rejoices in his church, as in that which is peculiarly 
his. Isai. lxv. 19. "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in 
my people." The church has also a peculiar propriety in 
Christ : Though other things are hers, yet nothing is hers in 
that manner that her spiritual bridegroom is hers : As great 
and glorious as he is, yet he, with all his dignity and glory, m. 
V»i-,. VIII. 2 S 


hers ; all is wholly given to her, to be fully possessed and CIS* 
joyed by her, to the utmost degree that she is capable of : 
Therefore we have her so often saying in the language of ex- 
altation and triumph, " My beloved is mine, and I am his," 
in the book of Canticles, chap. ii. 16. and vi. 3, and vii. 10. 

Christ and his church, like the bridegroom and bride, re- 
joice in each other, as those that are the objects of each oth- 
er's most tender and ardent love. The love of Christ to his 
church is altogether unparalleled : The height and depth and 
length and breadth of it pass knowledge : For he loved the 
church, and gave himself for it ; and his love to her proved 
stronger than death. And on the other hand, she loves him 
with a supreme affection : Nothing stands in competition 
with him in her heart : She loves him with all her heart : 
Her whole soul is offered up to him in the flame of love. And 
Christ rejoices and has sweet rest and delight in his love to 
the church. Zeph. iii. 17. " The Lord thy Cod in the midst 
of thee is mighty : He will save: He will rejoice over thee 
with joy : He will rest in his lovt : He will joy over thee 
with singing " So the church, in the exercises of her love 
to Christ, rejoices with unspeakable joy. 1 Pet. i. 7, 8. " Je- 
sus Christ ; whom, having not seen, ye love : In whom, 
though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with 
joy unspeakable, and full of glory." 

Christ and his church rejoice in each other's beauty. The 
church rejoices in Christ's divine beauty and glory. She, as 
it were, sweetly solaces herself in the light of the glory of the 
sun of righteousness ; and the saints say one to another, as in 
Is.,), ii. 5. " O house of Jacob, come ye, let us walk in the 
light of the Lord." The perfections and virtues of Christ are 
as a perfumed ointment to the church, that make his very 
name to be to her as ointment poured forth, Cant. i. 3. " Be- 
cause of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as oint- 
ment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee." And 
Christ delights and rejoices in the b jauty of the church, the 
bcuuty which he hath put upon her : Her Christian graces 
are ornaments of great price in his sight, 1 Pet. iii. 4. And 


lie is spoken of as greatly desiring her beauty, Psal.xlv. 11. 
Yea he himself speaks of his heart as ravished with her beau- 
ty. Cant. iv. 9. " Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, 
my spouse ; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine 
eyes, with one chain of thy neck." 

Christ and his church, as the bridegroom and bride, re- 
joice in each other's love. Wine is spoken of, Psal. civ 15, 
as that which maketh glad man's heart : But thechuichof 
Christ is spoken of as rejoicing in the love of Christ, as that 
which is more pleasant and refreshing than wine. Cant. i. 4. 
" The king hath brought me into his chambers : We will be 
glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more 
than wine." So on the other hand, Christ speaks of the 
church's love as far better to him than wine. Cant. iv. iO. 
" How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse ! How much bet- 
ter is thy love than wine !" 

Christ and his church rejoice in communion with each 
other, as in being united in their happiness, and having fellow- 
ship and a joint participation in each other's good : As the 
bridegroom and bride rejoice together at the wedding feast, 
and as thenceforward they are joint partakers of each other's 
comforts and joys. Rev. iii. 20. " If any man hear my voice, 
and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, 
and he with me." The church has fellowship with Christ vx 
his own happiness, and his divine entertainments ; his joy is 
fulfilled in her, John xv. 11, and xvii. 13. She sees light in 
his light ; and she is made to drink at the liver of his own 
pleasures, Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9. And Christ brings her to eat 
and drink at his own table, to take her fill of his own enter- 
tainments. Cant. v. 1. "Eat, O friends, drink, yea, d4nk 
abundantly, O beloved." And he, on the other hand, has fel- 
lowship with her ; he feasts with her ; her joys are his ; and 
he rejoices in that entertainment that she provides for him. 
So Christ is said to feed among the lilies, Cant. ii. 16, and 
chap. vii. 13, she speaks of all manner of pleasant fruits, new 
and old, which she had laid up for him ; and says to him, chap. 
iv. 16, " Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his 


pleasant fruits :" And he makes answer in the next verse, " I 
am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse ; I have gath- 
ered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honey comb 
with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my miik." 

And lastly, Christ and his church, as the bridegroom and 
bride, rejoice in conversing with each other. The words of 
Christ, by which he converses with his church, are most sweet 
to her; and therefore she says of him, Cant. v. 16, " His 
mouth is most sweet." And on the other hand, he says of 
her, chap, ii. 14, V. Let me hear thy voice ; for sweet is thy 
voice." And chap. iv. 11, "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop 
as the honey comb : Honey and milk are under thy tongue." 

Christ rejoices over his saints as the bridegroom over the 
bride at all times : But there are some seasons wherein he 
doth so more especially. Such a season is the time of the 
soul's conversion ; when the good shepherd finds his lost 
sheep, then he brings it home rejoicing, and calls together 
his friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me. The day 
of a sinner's conversion is the day of Christ's espousals ; and 
so eminently the day of his rejoicing. Sol. Song iii 11. « Go 
forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with 
the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of 
his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." 
And it is oftentimes remarkably the day of the saints' rejoic- 
ing in Christ : For then God turns again the captivity of his 
elect people, and, as it were, fills their mouth with laughter, 
and their tongue with singing; as in Psal. exxvi. at the be- 
ginning. We read of the jailer, that when he was convert- 
ed, " he rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house," Acts 
xvi. 34. 

And there are other seasons of special communion of the 
saints with Christ, w herein Christ doth in an especial manner 
rejoice over his saints, and as their bridegroom brings them 
into his chambers that they also may be glad and rejoice in 
him, Cant. i. 4. 

But the time wherein this mutual rejoicing of Christ and 
his saints will be in its perfection, is the time of the saint? 


glorification with Christ in heaven ; for that is the proper 
time of the saints entering in with the bridegroom into the 
marriage, Matth. xxv. 10. The saint's conversion is rather 
like the betrothing of the intended bride to her bridegroom 
before they come together ; but the time of the saint's glori- 
fi( ation is the time when that shall be fulfilled in Psal. xlv. 15. 
" Wkfl gladness and rejoicing bhail they be brought ; they 
shall enter into the king's palace." That is the time when 
those that Christ loved, and gave himself for, that he might 
sanctify and cleanse them, as with the washing of water by the 
word, shall be presented to nim in glory, not having spot or 
■wrinkle, or any such tiling The time wherein the church 
shall be brought to tlie full enjoyment of her bridegroom, 
having all tears wiped a ay from her eyes ; and there shall 
be no more distance or absence. She shall then be brought 
to the entertainments of an eternal wedding feast, and to 
dwell eternally with her bridegroom ; yea, to dwell eternal- 
ly in his embraces. Then Christ will give her his loves ; 
and she shall drink her fill, yea, she shall swim in the ocean 
of his love. 

And as there are various seasons wherein Christ and par- 
ticular saints do more especially rejoice in each other ; so 
there are also certain seasons wherein Christ doth more es- 
pecially rejoice over his church collectively taken. Such a 
season is a time of remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of 
God : It is a time of the espousal of many souls lo Christ ; 
and so a time of much of the joy of espousals : And also it is 
a time wherein Christ is wont more especially to visit his 
saints with his loving kindness, and to bring them near to 
himself, and especially to refresh their hearts with divine com- 
munications : On which account, such a time becomes a time 
of great joy to the church of Christ. So when the Spirit of 
God was so wonderfully poured out on the city of Samaria, 
with the preaching of Philip, we read that there was great joy- 
in that city, Acts viii. 8. And the time of that wonderful ef- 
fu:iion*of the Spirit at Jerusalem, begun at the feast of Pentc- 
c est, was a time of holy feasting and rejoicing, and a kind of 


a wedding day to the church of Christ ; wherein " they con* 
tinning; daily, with one accord, in the temple, and breaking 
bread from house to house, did cat their meat with gladness, 
and singleness of heart," as Acts ii. 46. 

But more especially is the time of that great outpouring 
of the Spirit of God in the latter days, so often forelold,in uie 
scriptures, represented as the time of the marriage of the 
Lamb, and of the rejoicing of Christ and his church in each 
other, as the bridegroom and the bride. This is the time 
prophesied of in our text and context ; and this is the time 
foretold in Isai. lxv. 19. "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and 
joy in my people ; and the voice of weeping shall no more be 
heard in her, nor the voice of crying." This is the time 
spoken of, Rev. xix. 6, 7, 8, 9, where the apostle John tells 
us, He " heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and 
as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thun- 
derings, saying, Alleluia : For the Lord God omnipotent 
reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him : 
For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath 
made herself ready." And adds, " To her was granted, that 
she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white : For the 
fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto 
me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the mar- 
iage supper cf the Lamb." 

But above all, the time of Christ's last coming, is the time 
of the consummation of the church's marriage with the Lamb, 
and the time of the complete and most perfect joy of the wed- 
ding. In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of right- 
eousness, shall appear in our heavens, shining in all his bright- 
ness and glory, he will come forth as a bridegroom ; he shall 
come in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels. And 
at that glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour 
Jesus Christ, shall the whole elect church, complete as to ev- 
ividual member, and each member with the whole 
man, both body and sou], and both in perfect glory, ascend up 
o meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with 
lie Lord, That will be a joyful meeting of this glorious 

TO HER SONS, 335- 

Sridegroom and bride indeed. Then the bridegroom will ap- 
pear in all his glory without any veil : And then the saints 
shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, 
and at the right hand of their Redeemer ; and then the church 
will appear as the bride, the Lamb's wife. It is the state of 
the church after the resurrection, that is spoken of, Rev. xxh 
2. " And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming 
down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for 
her husband." And verse 9. " Come hither, I will shew 
thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." Then will come the time, 
when Christ will sweetly invite his spouse to enter in with 
him into the palace of his glory, which he had been prepar- 
ing for her from the foundation of the world, and shail, as it 
were, take her by the hand, and lead her in with him : And 
this glorious bridegroom and bride shall, with all their shin- 
ing ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heav- 
ens ; the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon 
them : And this son and daughter of God shall, in their unit- 
ed glory and joy, present themselves together before the Fath- 
er ; when Christ shall say, " Here am I, and the children 
which thou hast given me :" And they both shall in that re- 
lation and union, together receive the Father's blessing ; and 
shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, unin- 
terruped, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the Jove and 
embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love ot 
the Father". 

2. That forementioned union of faithful ministers with 
the people of Christ, is in order to this blessedness. 

1. It is only with reference to Christ, as the true bride- 
groom of his church, that there is any union between a faith- 
ful minister and a Christian people, that is like that of a bride- 
groom and bride. 

As I observed before, a faithful minister espouses a Christ- 
ian people, not in his own name, but as Christ's ambassador : 
He espouses them, that in their being espoused to him, they 
maybe espoused to Christ; and not that the church may 
commit adultery with him : It is for his sake that he love* 


her, with a tender conjugal affection, as she is the spouse of 
Christ, and as he, as the minister of Christ, has his bpc i t in- 
fer the influence of the Spirit of Christ ; as Abraham's faith' 
ful servant, that was sent to fetch a wife for his master's son,, 
was captivated with Rebekah's beauty and virtue ; but not 
■with reference to an union with himself, but with his m ts ur 
Isaac: It was for his sake he loved tier, and it was for him 
that he desired her, and set his heart Upon he: , that she might 
be Isaac's wife : And it was for this that he greatly rejoiced 
over her, and for this he woo'd her, and for this he obtained 
her, and she was for a season united to him ; but it was but as 
a fellow traveller, that by him she might be brought to Isaac 
in the land of Canaan ; and for this he adorned her with orna- 
ments of gold ; it was to prepare her for Isaac's embraces. 
All that tender care which a faithful minister takes of his peo- 
ple as a kind of spiritual husband, to provide for them, to lead 
and feed them, and comfort them, is not as looking upon them 
as his own bride, but his master's. 

And on the other hand, the people receive him, and unite 
themselves to him in covenant, and honor him and subject 
themselves to him, and obey him, only for Christ s sake, and 
as one that represents him, and acts in his name towards them. 
All this love, and honor,and submission, is ultimately referred 
to Christ. Thus the apostle says, Gal. iv. 14. " Ye received 
me as an angel, or messenger of God, even as Christ Jesus." 
And the children that are biought forth in consequence of the 
union of the pastor and people, are not properly the minister's 
children, but the children of Christ; they are not born of man, 
but of God. 

2. The things that appertain to that foremeniioned union 
of a faithful minister and Christian people, are the principal 
appointed means of bringing the church to that blessedness 
that has been spoken of. As Abraham's servant, and tl-e part 
he acted as Isaac's agent towards Rebekah, were the principal 
means of his being brought to enjoy the benefits of her conju- 
gal relation to Isaac : Ministers are sent to woo the souis of 
men for Christ, 2 Cor. v. 20. " We are then ambassadors for 


Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in 
Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." We read in Matth. 
xxii. of a certain king, that made a marriage for his son, and 
sent forth his servants to invite and bring in the guests : It is 
ministers that are these servants. The labors of faithful min- 
isters are the principal means God is wont to make use of for 
the conversion of the children of the church, and so of their 
espousals unto Christ. I have espoused you to one husband, 
says the apostle, 2 Cor. xi. 2. The preaching of the gospel 
by faithful ministers, is the principal means that God makes 
use of for the exhibiting Christ and his love and benefits to his 
elect people, and the chief means of their being sanctified, and 
so fitted to enjoy their spiritual bridegroom. Christ loved 
the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and 
cleanse it, as by the washing of water by the word, (i e. by the 
preaching of the gospel) and so might present it to himself, a 
glorious church. The labors of faithful ministers are ordina- 
rily the principal means of the joy of the saints in Christ Jesus, 
in their fellowship with their spiritual bridegroom in this 
world ; 2 Cor. i. 24. " We are helpers of your joy." They 
are the instruments that God makes use of for the bringing 
up the church, as it were, from her childhood, till she is fit for 
her marriage with the Lord of glory ; as Mordecai brought 
up Hadassah, or Esther, whereby she was fitted to be queen 
in Ahasuerus' court. God purifies the church under their 
hand, as Esther, to fit her for her marriage with the king, was 
committed to the custody of Hagai the keeper of the women, 
to be purified six months with oil of myrrh, and six months 
with sweet odors. They are made the instruments of cloth- 
ing the church in her wedding garments, that fine linen, 
clean and white, and adorning her for her husband ; as Abra- 
ham's servant adorned Rebekah with golden earrings and 
bracelets. Faithful ministers are made the instruments of 
leading the people of God in the way to heaven, conducting 
them to the glorious presence of the bridegroom, to the con- 
summate joys of her marriage with the Lamb j as Abraham*:* 
cervant conducted Rebekah from Padan aram to Canaan, and 
Vol. VIII. 2 T 


presented her to Isaac, and delivered her into his embraces; 
For it is the office of ministers, not only to espouse the church 
to her husband, but to present her a chaste virgin to Christ. 

I would now conclude this discourse with some exhorta- 
tions, agreeable to what has been said. And, 

1. The exhortation may be to all that are called to the 

work of the gospel ministry Let us who are honored by the 

glorious bridegroom of the church, to be employed as his 
ministers, to so high a purpose, as has been represented, be 
engaged and induced by what has been observed, to faithful- 
ness in our great work ; that we may be, and act towards 
Christ's people that are committed to our care, as those that 
are united to them in holy espousals, for Christ's sake, and in 
order to their being brought to the unspeakable blessedness? 
of that more glorious union with the Lamb of God, in which - 
he shall rejoice over them, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over 
the bride. Let us see to it that our hearts are united to them, 
as a young man to a virgin that he marries, in the most ardent 
and tender affection ; and that our regard to them be pure and 
uncorrupt, that it may be a regard to them, and not to what 
they have, or any worldly advantages we hope to gain of them. 
And let us behave ourselves as those that are devoted to their 
good ; being willing to spend and be spent for them ; joyfully- 
undertaking and enduring the labor and self denial that is 
requisite in order to a thorough fulfilling the ministry that we 
have received ; continually and earnestly endeavoring to pro- 
mote the prosperity and salvation of the souls committed to 
our care ; and, as those that are their bone and their flesh K 
looking on their calamities and their prosperity as our own ; 
feeling their spiritual wounds and griefs, and refreshed with 
their consolations ; and spending our whole lives in diligent 
care and endeavor to provide for, nourish, and instruct our 
people, as the intended spouse of Christ, yet in her minority, 
that we may form her mind and behavior, and bring her up 
for him, and that we may cleanse her, as with the washing of 
water by the word, and purify her as with sweet odors, and. 


clothed in such raiment as may become Christ's bride ; that 
when the appointed wedding day comes, we may have done 
our work as Christ's messengers ; and may then be ready to 
present Christ's spouse to him, a chaste virgin, properly edu- 
cated and formed, and suitably adorned for her marriage with 
the Lamb ; that he may then present her to himself, a glori- 
ous church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, and 
may receive her into his eternal embraces, in perfect purity, 
beauty, and glory. 

Here I would mention three or four things tending to ex- 
cite us to this fidelity. 

1. We ought to consider how much Christ has done to 
obtain that joy that has been spoken of, in order to which we 
have been called to the work of the ministry, viz. that wherein 
Christ rejoices over his church, as the bridegroom rejoiceth 
over the bride. 

The creation of the world seems to have been especially 
for this end, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse 
towards whom he might fully exercise the infinite benevolence 
of his nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and 
pour forth all that immense fountain of coudescension, love, 
and grace that was in his heart, and that in this way God might 
be glorified. Doubtless the work of creation is subordinate to 
the work of redemption : That is called the creation of the 
new heavens and new earth, and is represented as so much 
more excellent than the old, that that, in comparison of it, is 
not worthy to be mentioned, or come into mind. 

But Christ has done greater things than to create the world, 
to obtain his bride and the joy of his espousals with her: For 
he was incarnate, and became man for this end ; which was 
a greater thing than his creating the world. For the Creator 
to make the creature was a great thing ; but for him to be- 
come a creature was a greater thing. And he did a much 
greater thing still to obtain this joy ; in that for this he laid 
down his life, and suffered even the death of the cross : For 
this he poured out his soul unto death ; and he that is the 
.Lord of the -universe, God over all blessed for evermore, ofc> 


fered up himself a sacrifice, in both body and soul, in the 
flumes of divine wrath. Christ obtains his elect spouse by 
conquest : For she was a captive in the hands of dreadful en- 
emies ; and her Redeemer came into the world to conquer 
these enemies, and rescue her out of tlieir hands that she 
might be his bride : Ana he came and encountered these en- 
emies in the greatest battle that ever was beheld by men or 
angels : H( fought with principalities and powers ; he fought 
alone with the powers of darkness, and all the armies of hell ; 
yea, he conflicted with the infinitely more dreadful wrath of 
G d and overcame in this great battle ; and thus he obtained 
hi* spouse. Let us consider at how great a price Christ pur- 
chased this spouse : He did not redeem her with corruptible 
things, as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood ; 
yea, he gave himself for her. When he offered up himself 
to God in those extreme labors and sufferings, this was the 
joy that was set before him, that made him chearfully to en- 
dure the cross, and despise the pain and shame in comparison 
of this joy ; even that rejoicing over his church, as the bride- 
groom rejoiceth over the bride that the Father had promised 
him, and that he expected when he should present her to him- 
self in perfect beauty and blessedness. 

The prospect of this was what supported him in the midst 
of the dismal prospect of his sufferings, at which his soul was 
troubled ; as appears by the account we have, John xii. ±7. 
" Now is my soul troubled ; and what shall 1 say ? Father, 
save me from this hour : But for this cause came I unto 
this hour." These words shew the conflict and distress of 
Christ's holy soul in the view of his approaching sufferings. 
But in the midst of his trouble, he was refreshed with the joy- 
ful prospect of the success of those sufferings, in bringing 
home his elect church to himself, signified by a voice Irom 
heaven, and promised by the Father : On which he says, in 
the language of triumph, verse 31, 32. " Now is the judg- 
ment of this world : Now shall the prince of this world be 
cast out. And I, if I be lifted up. will draw all men unto 


And ministers of the gospel are appointed to be the in- 
strui .ents of bringing this to pass ; the instruments of bring- 
ing home his elect spouse to him, and her becoming his bride ; 
and the instruments of her sanctifying and cleansing by the 
word, that she might be meet to be presented to him on the 
future glorious wedding clay. How great a motive then is 
here to induce us that are called to be these instruments, to 
be faithful in our woik, and most willingly labor and suffer, 
that Christ may see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied i 
Shall Christ do such great things, and go through such great 
labors and sufferings to obtain this joy, and then honor us sin- 
ful worms, so as to employ us as his ministers and instru- 
ments to bring this joy to pass ; and shall we be loth to labor* 
and backwa d to deny ourselves for this end ? 

2. Let us consider how much the manner in which Christ 
employs us in this great business has to engage us to a faith- 
ful performance of it. We are sent iorth as his servants ; but 
it is as highly dignified servants, as stewards of his household, 
as Abraham's servant; and as his ambassadors, to stand in his 
stead, and in his name, and represent his person in so great 
an affair as that of his espousals with the eternally beloved of 
his soul. Christ employs us not as mere servants, but as 
friends of the bridegroom ; agreeable to the style in which 
John the Baptist speaks of himself, John iii. 29, in which he 
probably alludes to an ancient custom among the Jews attheir 
nuptial solemnities, at which one of the guests that was most 
honored and next in dignity to the bridegroom, was styled the 
friend oj the bridegroom. 

There is not an angel in heaven, of how high an order so* 
ever, but what looks on himself honored by the Son of God 
and Lord of glory, in being employed by him as his minister 
m the high affair of his espousals with his blessed bride. But 
we are not only thus honored, but such an honor as this has 
Christ put upon us, that his spouse should in some sort be 
ours ; that we should marry, as a joung man marries a virgin, 
the same mystical person that he himself will rejoice over, as 
♦he bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride ; that we should be 


his ministers to treat and transact for him with his dear spouse, 
that he might obtain this joy ; and to transact in such a man- 
ner with her as in our treaty with her, to be married to her in 
his name, and sustain an image of his own endearing relation 
to her ; and that she should receive us, in some sort, as him- 
self, and her heart be united to us in esteem, honor, and affec- 
tion, as those that represent him ; and that Christ's and the 
church's children should be ours, and that the same that is the 
fruit of the travail of Christ's soul should be also the fruit of 
the travail of our souls ; as the apostle speaks of himself as 
travailing in birth with his hearers, Gal. iv. 19. The reason 
why Christ puts such honor on faithful ministers, even above 
the angels themselves, is, because they are of his beloved 
■church, they are select members of his dear spouse, and 
Christ esteems nothing too much for her, no honor too great 
for her. Therefore Jesus Christ, the King of angels and men, 
does as it were cause it to be proclaimed concerning faithful 
ministers, as Ahasuerus did concerning him that brought up 
Esther, his beloved queen ; " Thus shall it be done to the 
man that the king delights to honor." 

And seeing Christ hath so honored us, that our relation to 
his people imitates his ; surely our affection to them should 
resemble his, and we should imitate him in seeking their sal- 
vation, spiritual peace, and happiness, as Christ sought it. 
Our tender care, labors, selfdenial, and readiness to suffer for 
their happiness, should imitate what hath appeared in him, 
that hath purchased them with his own blood. 

3. Let it be considered, that if we faithfully acquit our- 
selves in our office, in the manner that hath been represented, 
we shall surely hereafter be partakers of the joy, when the 
bridegroom and bride shall rejoice in each other in perfect and 
eternal glory. 

God once gave forth a particular command, with special 
solemnity, that it should be written for the notice of all pro- 
fessing Christians through all ages, that they are happy and 
blessed indeed, who are called to the marriage supper of the 
Lamb; Rev. xix. 9. " And he saith unto me, Write, I31ess» 


ed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the 
Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of 
God." But if we are faithful in our work, we shall surely be 
the subjects of that blessedness ; we shall be partakers of the 
joy of the bridegroom and bride, not merely as friends and 
and neighbors that are invited to be occasional guests, but as 
members of the one and the other. We shall be partakers 
with the church, the blessed bride, in her joy in the bride- 
groom, not only as friends and ministers to the church, but a& 
members of principal dignity ; as the eye, the ear, the hand, 
are principal members of the body. Faithful ministers in the 
church will hereafter be a part of the church that shall receive 
distinguished glory at the resurrection of the just, which, 
above all other times, may be looked on as the church's wed- 
ding day ; Dan. xii. 2, 3. " Many of them that sleep in the 
dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life ; and 
they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firma- 
ment, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars 
forever and ever." They are elders that are represented as 
that part of the church triumphant that sit next to the throne 
of God, Rev. iv. 4. " And round about the throne were four 
and twenty seats ; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty 
elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their 
heads crowns of gold/' 

And we shall also be partakers of the joy of the bride- 
groom in his rejoicing over his bride. We, as the special 
friends of the bridegroom shall stand by the bridegroom, and 
hear him express his joy on that day, and rejoice greatly be- 
cause of the bridegroom's voice ; as John the Baptist said of 
himself, John iii. 29. « He that hath the bride is the bride- 
groom : But the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth 
and hearethhim,rejoicethgreatlybecause of the bridegroom's 
voice." Christ, in reward for our faithful service, in winning 
and espousing his bride to him, and bringing her up from her 
minority, and adorning her for him, will then call us to par- 
take with him in the joy of his marriage. And she that will 
then be his joy, shall also be our crown of rejoicing. 1 Thess. 


ii. 19. t; What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? 
Are not ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his 
coming?" What a joyful meeting had Christ and his disci- 
ples together, when the disciples returned to their Master, 
after the faithful and successful performance of their appoint- 
ed service, when Christ sent them forth to preach the gospel ; 
Luke x. 17. "And the seventy returned with joy, saying, 
Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." 
Here we see how they rejoice : The next words shew how 
Christ also rejoiced on that occasion : " And he said unto 
them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." And 
in the next verse but two, we are told that, " in that hour Je- 
•sus rejoiced in spirit and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord 
of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." So if 
we faithfully acquit ourselves, we shall another day return to 
him with joy ; and we shall rejoice with him and he with us. 
Then will be the day when Christ, that has sown in tears and 
in blood, and we that have reaped the fruits of his labors and 
sufferings, shall rejoice together, agreeable to John iv. 35, 
36, 37. And that will be an happy meeting indeed, when 
Christ and his lovely and blessed bride, and faithful ministers 
that have been the instruments of wooing and winning her 
heart to him, and adorning her for him, and presenting her to 
him, shall all rejoice together. 

4. Further to stir us up to faithfulness in the great busi- 
ness that is appointed us, in order to the mutual joy of this 
bridegroom and bride, let us consider what reason we have to 
hope that the lime is approaching when this joy shall be to a 
glorious degree fulfilled on earth, far beyond whatever yet has 
been ; I mean the time of the church's latter day glory. This 
is what the words of our text ha\e a more direct respect to; 
and this is what is prophesied of in Hos. ii. 19. 20. " And I 
will betroth hec unto me forever, yea, I will betroth thee un- 
to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kind- 
ness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in 
faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord." And this is 


what is especially intended by the marriage of the Lamb, in 
Rev. xix. 

We are sure this day will come : And we have many rea- 
sons to think that it is approaching ; from the fulfilment of 
almost every thing that the prophecies speak of as preceding 
it, and their having been fulfilled now of a long time ; and 
from the general earnest expectations of the church of God, 
and the best of her ministers and members, and the late ex- 
traordinary things that have appeared in the church of God, 
and appertaining to the state of religion, and the present as- 
pects of Divine Providence, which the time will not allow me 
largely to insist upon. 

As the happiness of that day will have a great resem- 
blance of the glory and joy of the eternal wedding day of the 
church after the resurrection of the just ; so will the privi- 
leges that faithful ministers shall be the subjects of at that 
time, much resemble the blessed privileges that they shall 
enjoy, as partaking with the bridegroom and bride, in their 
honor and happiness, in eternal glory. This is the time es- 
pecially intended in the text, wherein it is said, " as a young 
man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee." And 
it is after in the prophecies spoken of as a great part of the 
glory of that time, that then the church should be so well 
supplied with faithful ministers. So in the next verse to the 
text, " I have set watchmen on thy walls, O Jerusalem, that 
shall never hold their peace, day nor night." So, Isai. xxx. 
20, 21. " Thy teachers shall not be removed into a corner any- 
more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers ; and thine ears 
shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk 
ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand; and when ye turn to 
the left." Jer. iii. 1 5. " And I will give you pastors accord- 
ing to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and 
understanding." And, chap, xxiii. 4. "And 1 will set up shep- 
herds over them, which shall feed them." And the great 
privilege and joy of faithful ministers at that day is foretold in, 
Isai. Hi. 8. " Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, with the 
Vol. VIII. 2 U 


voice together shall they sing : For they shall see eye to eye., 
when the Lord shall bring again Zion." 

And as that day must needs be approaching, and we our* 
selves have lately seen some things that we have reason to 
hope are forerunners of it ; certainly it should strongly ex- 
cite us to endeavor to be such pastors as God has promised to 
bless his church with at that time; that if any of us should 
live to see the dawning of that glorious day, we might share 
in the blessedness of it, and then be called, as the friends of 
the bridegroom, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and 
partake of that joy in which heaven and earth, angels and 
saints, and Christ and his church, shall be united at that time. 

But here I would apply the exhortation in a few words to- 
that minister of Christ, who above all others is concerned in 
the solemnity of this day, who is now to be united to, and set 
over this people as their pastor. 

You have now heard, Reverend Sir, the great importance v 
and high ends of the office of an evangelical pastor, and the 
glorious privileges of such as are faithful in this office, imper- 
fectly represented. May God grant that your union with this 
people, this day, as their pastor, may be such, that God's peo- 
ple here may have the great promise God makes to his church 
in the text, now fulfilled unto them. May you now, as one of 
the precious sons of Zion, take this part of Christ's church by 
the hand, in the name of your great Master, the glorious 
bridegroom, with an heart devoted unto him with true adora- 
tion and supreme affection, and for his sake knit to this peo- 
ple, in a spiritual and pure love, and as it were a conjugal ten" 
derness ; ardently desiring that great happiness for them, 
which you have now heard Christ has chosen his church unto, 
and has shed his blood to obtain for her ; being yourself ready 
to spend and be spent for them ; remembering the great er- 
rand on which Christ sends you to them, viz. to uoo and win. 
their hearts, and espouse their souls to him, and to bring up 
his elect spouse, and to fit and adorn her for his embraces ; 
that you may in due time present her a chaste virgin to him>- 
for hira to rejoice over, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the. 


bride. How honorable is this business that Christ employs 
you in ! And how joyfully should you perform it ! When 
Abraham's faithful servant was sent to take a wife for his 
master's son, how engaged was he in the business ; and how 
joyful was he when he succeeded ! With what joy did he bow 
his head and worship, and bless the Lord God of his m.ster, 
for his mercy and his truth in making his way prosperous ! 
And what a joyful meeting may we conclude he had with 
Isaac, when he met him in the field, by the well of Lahai-roi, 
and there presented his beauteous Rebekah to him, and told 
him all things that he had done ! But this was but a shadow 
of that joy that you shall have, if you imitate his fidelity, in 
the day when you shall meet your glorious Master, and pre- 
sent Christ's church in this place, as a chaste and beautiful 
virgin unto him. 

We trust, dear Sir, that you will esteem it a most blessed 
employment, to spend your time and skill in adorning Christ's 
bride for her maniage with the Lamb, and that it is work 
that you will do with delight ; and that you will take heed 
that the ornaments you put upon her are of the right sort, 
what shall be indeed beautiful and precious in the eyes of the 
bridegroom, that she maybe all glorious within, and her cloth- 
ing of wrought gold ; that on the wedding day, she may stand 
on the King's right hand in gold of Ophir. 

The joyful day is coming, when the spouse of Christ shall 
be led in unto the King with raiment of needle work ; and an- 
gels and faithful ministers will be the servants that shall lead 
her in. And you, Sir, if you are faithful in the charge that is 
now to be committed to you, shall be joined with glorious an- 
gels in that honorable and joyful service ; but with this differ- 
ence, that you shall have the higher privilege. Angels and 
faithful ministers shall be together in bringing in Christ's 
bride into his palace, and presenting her to him : But faithful 
ministers shall have a much higher participation of the joy of 
that occasion : They shall have a greater and more immedi- 
ate participation with the bride in her joy ; for they shall not 
•only be ministers to the church as the angels are, but parts of 


the church, principal members of the bride. And as such, at 
the same time that angels do the part of ministering spirits to 
the bride, when they conduct her to the bridegroom, they 
shall also do the part of ministering spirits to faithful minis- 
ters. And they shall also have an higher participation with 
the bridegroom than the angels, in his rejoicing at that time ; 
for they shall be nearer to him than they ; for they are also 
his members, and arc those that are honored as the principal 
instruments of espousing the saints to him, and fitting them 
for the enjoyment of him ; and therefore they will be more 
the crown of rejoicing of faithful ministers, than of the angels 
of heaven. 

So great, dear Sir, is the honor and joy that is set before 
you, to engage you to faithfulness in your pastoral care of this 
people ; so glorious the prize that Christ has set up to en- 
gage you to run the race that is set before you. 

I would now conclude with a few words to the people of 
this congregation, whose souls are now to be committed to 
the care of that minister of Christ, whom they have chosen as 
their pastor. 

Let me take occasion, dear brethren, from what has been 
said, to exhort you, not forgetting the respect, honor, and rev- 
erence, that will ever be due from you to your former pastor, 
that has served you so long in that work, but by reason of age 
raid growing infirmities, and the prospect of his place being 
so happily supplied by a successor, has seen meet to relin- 
quish the burden of the pastoral charge over you : I say, Let 
me exhort you (not forgetting due respect to him as a father) 
io pel form the duties that belong to you, in your part of that 
relation and union, now to be established between you and 
your elect pastor: To receive him as the messenger of the 
Lord of Hosts, one that in his office, represents the glorious 
bridegroom of the church, to love and honor him, and willing- 
ly submit yourselves to him, as a virgin when married to an 
husband. Surely the feet of that messenger should be beau- 
tiful, that comes to you on such a blessed errand as that which 
you have heard, to espouse you to the eternal Son cf God, and 


to fit you for, and lead yon to him as your bridegroom. Your 
chosen pastor comes to you on this errand, and he comes in 
the name of the bridegroom, so empowered by him, and rep- 
resenting, him, that in receiving him, you will receive Christ, 
and in rejecting him, you will reject Christ. 

Be exhorted to treat your pastor as the beautiful and virtu- 
ous Rebekah treated Abraham's servant : She most charita- 
bly and hospitably entertained him, provided lodging and food 
for him and his company, and took care that he should be 
comfortably entertained and supplied in all respects, while he 
continued in his embassy ; and that was the note or mark of 
distinction which Gcd himself gave him, by which he should 
know the true spouse of Isaac from all others of the daughters 
of the city. Therefore ia this respect approve yourselves as 
the true spouse of Christ, by giving kind entertainment to 
your minister that comes to espouse you to the amitype of 
Isaac. Provide for his outward subsistence and cohifort, with 
the like cheerfulness that Rebekah did for Abraham's ser- 
vant. You have an account of her alacrity and liberality in sup- 
plying him, in Ccn. xxiv. 18, 19, 20, and 25. Say as herbroth- 
er did, verse 31. " Come in, thou blessed cf the Lord." 

Thus you should entertain your pastor. But this is not 
that wherein your duty towards him chiefly lies : The main 
thing is to comply with him in his great errand, and to yield 
to the suit that he makes to you in the name of Christ, to go 
to be his bride. In this you should be like Rebekah : She 
was, from what she heard of Isaac, and God's covenant with 
him, and blessing upon him, from the mouth of Abraham's 
servant, willing for ever to forsake her own country, and her 
father's house, to go into a country she had never seen, to be 
Isaac's wife, whom also she never saw. After she had heard 
what the servant had to say, and her old friends had a mind 
she should put off the affair for the present, but it was insisted 
on that she should go immediately, and she was inquired of, 
• ; whether she would go with this man," she said, "I will go :" 
And she left her kindred, and followed the man through all 
that long journey, till he had brought her unto Isaac, and they 


three had that joyful meeting in Canaan. If you will this day 
rc< eive your pastor in that union that is now to be established 
between him and you, it will be a joyful day in this place, and 
the joy will be like the joy of espousals, as when a young man 
marries a virgin ; and it will not only be a joyful day in East 
Hampton, but it will doubtless be a joyful day in heaven, on 
your account. And your joy will be a faint resemblance, and 
a forerunner of that future joy, when Christ shall rejoice over 
you as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, in heavenly 

And if your pastor be faithful in his office, and you heark- 
en and yield to him in that great errand on which Christ sends 
him to you, the time will come, wherein you and your pastor 
will be each other's crown of rejoicing, and wherein Chriit, 
and he, and you, shall all meet together at the glorious mar- 
riage of the Lamb, and shall rejoice in and over one another, 
with perfect, uninterrupted, never ending and never fading 


The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister, 

JOHN v. 35. 


1 HAT discourse of our blessed Saviour we have 
an account of in this chapter from the 17th verse to the end, 
was occasioned by the Jews' murmuring against him, and per- 
secuting him for his healing the impotent man at the pool of 
Bethesda, and bidding him take up his bed and walk on the 
Sabbath day. Christ largely vindicates himself in this dis- 
course, by asserting his fellowship with God the Father in 
nature and operations, and thereby implicitly shewing himself 
lo be Lord of the Sabbath, and by declaring to the Jews that 
God the Father, and he with him, did work hitherto, or even 
to this time ; i. e. although it be said that God rested on the 
seventh day from all his works, yet indeed God continues to 
work hitherto, even to this very day, with respect to his great- 
est work, the work of redemption, or new creation, which he 

* Preach-d at Pelham August 30, 1744, at the ordination of the Rev. 
Mr. Robot ribercrombie to the worn, cf the gospel ministry in that place. 


carries on by Jesus Christ, his Son. Pursuant to the designs 
of which work was his shewing- mercy to fallen men by heal- 
ing their diseases, and delivering them from the calamities 
they brought on themselves by sin. Tbis great work of re- 
demption, God carries on from the beginning of the world to 
this time ; and his rest from it will not come till the resur- 
rection, which Christ speaks of in the 21st and following ver- 
ses : The finishing of this redemption as to its procurement, 
being in his own resurrection ; and as to the application, in 
the general resurrection and eternal judgment, spoken of 
from verse 20 to verse 30. So that notwithstanding both the 
rest on the seventh day, and also the rest that Joshua gave the 
children of Israel in Canaan ; yet the great rest of the Re- 
deemer from his work, and so of his people with him and in 
him, yet remains, as the apostle observes, Heb. chap.iv. This 
-will be at the resurrection and general judgment ; which 
Christ here teaches the Jews, was to be brought to pass by 
the Son of God, by the Father's appointment, and so the 
works of God to be finished by him. 

And inasmuch as this vindication was so far from satisfy- 
ing the Jews, that it did but further enrage them, because 
hereby he made himself equal with God, Christ therefore 
refers them to the witness of John the Baptist ; whose testi- 
mony they must acquiesce in, or else be inconsistent with 
themselves ; because they had generally acknowledged John 
to be a great prophet, and seemed for a while mightily affect- 
ed and taken with it, that God, after so long- a withholding the 
spirit of prophecy, had raised up so gieat a prophet amonr; 
them. ...and it is concerning him that Christ speaks in thi: 
verse wherein is the text : " He was a burning and a shin- 
ing light ; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in hi c 

In order to a right understanding and improvement of the 
words of the text, we may observe, 

1. What Christ here takes notice of in John, and declares 
concerning him, viz. That he itas a bun 


light. He was a light to the church of Israel, to reveal the 
mind and will of God to them, after a long continued dark 
season, and after they had been destitute of any prophet to in- 
struct them, for some ages: He arose on Israel, as the morn- 
ing star, the forerunner of the sun of righteousness, to intro- 
duce the day spring, or dawning of the gospel day, to give 
light to them that till then had sat in the darkness of perfect 
night, which was the shadow of death ; to give them the 
knowledge of salvation ; as Zecharias his father declares at 
his circumcision, Luke i. 76.. .79. " And thou child shah be 
called the Prophet of the highest ; for thou shalt go before the 
face of the Lord, to prepare his ways ; to give knowledge of 
salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, 
through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day 
spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that 
sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet 
into the way of peace." 

And he was a burning light, as he was full of a spirit of 
fervent piety and holiness, being filled with the Holy Gnost 
from his Mother's womb, having his heart warmed and en- 
flamed with a great love to Chris, being that friend of the 
bridegroom, that stood and heard him- and rejoiced greatly be- 
cause of the bridegroom's voice ; and was glad that Christ in- 
creased, though he decreased, John iii. 29, 30. And was ani- 
mated with a holy zeal in the work of the ministry : He came 
in this respect, in the spirit and power of Elias ; as Eli is was 
zealous in bearing testimony against the corruption, aposta- 
cies, and idolatries of Israel in his day, so was John the Bap- 
tist in testifying against the wickedness of the Jews in his 
day : As Elias zealously reproved the sins of all sorts of per- 
sons in Israel, not only the sins of the common people, but of 
their great ones, Ahab, Ahaziah and Jezebel, and their false 
prophets ; with what zeal did John the Baptist reprove all 
sorts of persons, not only the Publicans and Soldiers, but the 
Pharisees and Sadducees, telling them plainly that they were 
a generation of vipers, and rebuked the wickedness of Herod 
in his most beloved lust, though Herod sought his life for it, 
Vol. VIII. 2W 


as Ahab and Anaziah did Elijah's. As Ei ias was much in' 
warning the people of God's approaching judgments, de- 
nouncing God's awful wrath against Ahab, Jezebel and Aha- 
ziati, and the Prophets of Baal, and the people in general : 
So was John the Baptist, much in warning the people to fly 
from the wrath to come, telling them in the most awakening 
manner, that the "<>xe was laid at the root of the tree, and that 
every tree that brought not forth good fruit should be hewn, 
down and cast into the fire, and tnat he that came after him. 
had his fan in his hand, and that he would thoroughly purge- 
his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, and burn ttyk 
the chaff with unquenchable fire." 

John the Baptist was not only a burning, but a shining 
light : He was so in his doctrine, having more of the gospeL 
in his preaching than the former Prophets, or at least the. 
gospel exhibited with greater light and clearness, more plain- 
ly pointing forth the person that was to be the great redeemer* 
and declaring his errand inco the world, to take away the sia 
of the world, as a Lamb offered in sacrifice to God, and the ne- 
cessity that all, even the most strictly moral and religious 
stood in of him, being by nature a generation of vipers j and 
the spiritual nature of his kingdom, consisting not in circum- 
cision, or outward baptism, or any other external performance 
or privileges, but in the poweriul influences of the Holy Ghost 
in their hearts, a being baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with 

In this clearness with which he gave knowledge of salva- 
tion to God's people, John was a bright light, and among them 
that had been born of women there had not arisen a greater than 
he. In this brightness this harbinger of the gospel day excell- 
ed all the other Prophets, as the morning star reflects more of 
the light of the sun than any other star, and is the brightest of 
all the stars. 

He also shone bright in his conversation, and his eminent 

mortification and renunciation of the enjoyments of the world; 

his great diligence and laboriousness in his work, his impar- 

ialily in it, declaring the mind and will of God to all sorts 


without distinction ; his great humility, rejoicing in the in- 
crease of the honor of Christ, though his honor was diminish- 
ed, as the brightness of the morning star diminishes, as the 
light of ihe sun increases ; and in his faithfulness and cour- 
age, still declaring the mind and will of God, though it cost 
him his own life. Thus his light shone before men. 

2. We may observe to what purpose Chtist declares these 
things of John in the text, viz. to shew how great and excel- 
lent a person he was, and worthy that the Jews should regard 
his testimony : Great are Mie things which Chiist elsewhere 

says of John the Baptist, as in Matth. xi. 7 14 He speaks 

of him as a Prophet ; and mere than a Prophet ; and one, than 
whom, there had not risen a greater among them that had been 
born oftvomen. He observes how great and excellent a light 
he was in the text, to shew the Jews how inexcusable they. 
were in not receiving the testimony he had given of him ; as 
you may see v. 31,32, 33. 

Therefore that which I would observe from the text to be 
the subject of my present discourse is this : 

It is the excellency of a minister of the gospel to be both a 
burning and a shining light. 

Thus we see it is in Christ's esteem, the great prophet of 
God, and light of the world, head of the church, and Lord of 
the harvest, and the great Lord and master whose messen- 
gers all ministers of the gospel are. 

John the Baptist was a minister of the gospel; and he was 
so more eminently than the ancient prophets; for though 
God at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake the gos- 
pel by them ; yet John the Baptist was a great minister of the 
gospel in a manner distinguished from them : He is reckon- 
ed in scripture the first that introduced the gospel day, a>fter 
the law and the Prophets, Luke vi. 16. "The law and the. 
Prophets were until John ; since that time the kingdom of 
God is preached." And his preaching is called the begin- 
ning of the gospel of Jesas Christ, the Son of God, Mark i. 1. 
He came on that errand, to give knowledge of salvation to 
God's people, through the remission of their sins ; (as his 


father Zecharias observes, Luke i 77,) and to preach these 
glad tidings that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. 

John being thus eminently a minister of the gospel and 
a burning and shining light being taken notice of by Christ 
as his great excellency, we may justly hence observe, that 
herein consists the proper excellency of ministers of the 

I would, by divine assistance, handle the subject in the fol- 
lowing method. 

I. I would shew that Christ's design, in the appointment 
of the order and office of ministers of the gospel is, that they 
may be lights to the souls ot men. 

II. I would shew what is implied in their being burning 


III. I would shew what is implied in their being shining 

IV. I would shew that it is the proper excellency of min- 
isters of the gospel to have these things united in them, to be 
both burning and shining lights. 

V. I would apply these things to all that Christ has called 
to the work of th j gospel ministry, shewing how much it con- 
cerns them earnestly to endeavor that they may be burning 
and shining lights. 

VI. Show what ministers of the gospel ought to do that 
they may be so. 

VII. Say something briefly concerning the duty of a peo- 
ple that are under the care of a gospel minister, correspond- 
ent to those tilings that Christ has taught us concerning the 
end and excellency of a gospel minister. 


I. I would observe that Christ's design in the appoint- 
ment of the order and office of ministers of the gospel was that 
they might be lights to the souls of men. 

Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of darkness ; the Devils 
are the rulers of the darkness of this world. But C! -'list's 
kingdom is a kingdom of light ; the designs ©f his kingdom 
are carried on by light ; his people are not of the night, nor of 
darkness, but are (he children of the tight, as they are the child- 
ren of God, who is the Father of lights., and as it were a bound- 
less fountain of infinitely pure and bright light, 1 John i. 5. 
James i. 17. 

Man by the fall extinguished that divine light that shone 
in this world in its first estate. The scripture represents the 
wickedness of man as reducing the world to that slate where- 
in it was when it was yet without form and void, and darkness 
filled it. Jer. iv. 22, 23. "For my people is foolish, they 
have not known me : They are sottish children ; and they 
have none understanding : They are wise to do evil ; but to 
do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and lo, 
it was without form and void ; and the heavens, and they had 
bo light." But God in infinite mercy has made glorious pro- 
vision for the restoration of light to this fallen dark world ; he 
has sent him who is the brightness of his own glory, into the 
world, to be the light of the world. " He is the true light that 
lighteth every man that cometh into the world," i. e. Every 
man in the world that ever has any true light. But in his 
wisdom and mercy, he is pleased to convey his light to men 
by means and instruments : and has sent forth his messengers, 
and appointed ministers in his church to be subordinate lights, 
and to shine with the communications of his light, and to re- 
flect the beams of his glory on the souls of men. 

There is an analogy between the divine constitution and 
disposition of things in the natural and in the spiritual world. 
The wise Creator has not left the natural world without light; 
but in this our solar system has set one great light, immense- 
ly exceeding all the rest, shining perpetually with a transcen- 
dent fulness and strength, to enlighten the whole ; and he 


hath appointed other lesser, subordinate or dependent lights*- 
that shine with the communications and reflections of some- 
thing of his brightness. So it is in the spiritual woilu ; 
there God hath appointed Jesus Christ as a Sun of righteous- 
ness : The Church of God has not the Sun to be her light by 
day ; nor for brightness, does the moon give light to her, but 
the Lord is her everlasting light, and her God her glory. 
The new Jerusalem has no need of the sun, nor the moon ; 
for the Lamb is the light thereof. And the ministers of 
Christ are, as it were, the stars that encompass this glorious 
fountain of light, to receive and reflect his beams, and give 
light to the souls of men. As Christ therefore is in scripture 
called the sun, so are his ministers called stars. So arc the 
twelve apostles, the chief ministers of the christian church, 
called, Rev. xii. 1. " And there appeared a great wonder in 
heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under 
her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars/' And 
BO ire the ordinary mimstels of the gospel called. Rev. i. 16. 
" And he had in his right hand seven stars." And verse 20. 
" The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my 
right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks ; the seven 
stars are the angels of the seven churches." Here also min- 
isters of the gospel are implicitly compared to those lamps 
that enlightened the temple at Jerusalem, upon the tops of 
the golden candlesticks : And more expressly in Zech. iv. 2. 
" I have looked, and behold a candlestick, all of gold, with a 
bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon." 

These lamps have all their oil from Christ, and are inkind- 
led by his flame, and shine by his beams ; and being thus de- 
pendent on him, they arc near to him, and held in his right 
hand, that they may receive light from him, to communicate 

The use of a light is threefold ; to discover, to refresh, and 
to direct. 

The first u e of a light is to discover things, or make them 
manife.t. Without light nothing is to be seen. Eph. v. )3 ; 
" Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." Ministers a,re 


■set to be lights to the souls of men in this respect, as they ara 
to be the means of imparting diune truth to them, and bring- 
ing into their view the most glorious and excellent objects, 
and of leading them to, and assisting them in '.he contempla- 
tion of those things that angels desire to look into ; the means 
of their obtaining that knowledge is infinitely more important 
and more excellent and useful, than that of the greatest states- 
men or philosophers, even that which is spiritual and divine : 
They are set to be the means of bringing men out of darkness 
into God's marvellous light, and of bringing them to the in- 
finite fountain of light, that in his light ttiey may see light ? 
They are set to instruct men, and impart to them that knowl- 
edge by which they may know God and Jesus Christ, whom 
to know is life eternal. 

Another use of light is to refresh and delight the behold- 
ers. Darkness is dismal : The light is sweet, and a pleasant 
thing it is to behold the sun. Light is refreshing to those 
who have long sat in darkness: They therefore that watch and 
keep awake through a dark night, long and wait for the light 
of the morning ; and the wise man observes, Prov. xv. 30. 
u That the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart." Spiritual 
light is especially refreshing and joyful. Psalm xcvii. 11. 
" Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the up- 
right in heart. They that cee the light of Christ, the star that 
hath arisen out of Jacob, are refreshed and do rejoice, as the 
wise men that saw the star that shewed them where Christ 
was, Matth. ii. 10. " And when they saw the star, they re- 
joiced with exceeding great joy." 

Ministers are set in the church of God to be the instru- 
ments of this comfort and refreshment to the souls of men, to 
be the instruments of leading souls to the God of all consola- 
tion, and fountain of their happiness : They arc sent as 
Christ was, and as coworkers with him, to preach good tid- 
ings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim 
liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them 
that are bound, and to comfort all that mourn : They arc to- 
lead those that" labor, and are heavy laden" to their true rest, 


and to speak a word in season to him that is weary : They are 
set to be ministers of the consolation and joy of the saints. 
2 Cor. i. 24. " We have not dominion over your faith ; but are 
helpers of your joy." 

The third use of light is r .o direct. 'Tis by light that we 
see where to go : " He that walks in darkness knows not 
whither he goes," and is in danger of stumbling and fulling 
into mischief. 'Tis by light that men see what to do, and are 
enabled to work ; in the night, Christ tells us no man can 
wovk. Ministers are srt to be lights to mens' souls in this 
respect also; as Zecharias observes of John the baptist, 
Luke i. 7 ). " To guide our feet in the way of peace." Minis- 
ters have the record of God committed to them that they may 
hold that forth, which God has given to be to man as a light 
shining in a dark place, to guide them in the way through this 
dark world, to regions of eternal light. Ministers are set to 
he the instruments of conveying to men that true wisdom 
spoken of Job 28. " V\ hich cannot begotten for gold, nor 
shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; which cannot 
be val- ed with the gold of Ophir, with the precious Onyx, or 
the Sapphire. 

I proceed now to the 

II. Thing proposed, viz. to shew what is implied in a min« 
ister of the gospel's being a bunting light. 

There are these two things that seem naturally to be un- 
derstood by this expression, viz. That his heart be filled with 
much of the holy ardor of a spirit of true piety; and that he 
be fervent and zealous in his administrations. 

1. That his heart be full of much of the holy ardor of a 
spirit of true piety. We read of the power of godliness. 
True grace is no dull, inactive, ineffectual principle ; it is a 
powerful thing ; there is an exceeding energy in it ; and the 
reason is, that God is in it ; it is a divine principle, a participa- 
tion of the divine nature, and a communication of divine life, 
of the life of a risen Saviour, who exens himself in the heart* 
of the saints, after the power of an endless life. They thai 


have true grace in them, they live ; but not by their own life ; 
but Christ lives in them : His Holy Spirit becomes in them a 
living 1 principle and spring of divine life : The energy and 
power of which is in scripture compared to fire, Matth. iii. 
11. " I indeed baptize you with water ; but he that cometh 
after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to 
bear ; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with 
fire." True piety is not a thing remaining only in the head, 
or consisting in any speculative knowledge or opinions, or 
outward morality, or forms of religion ; it reaches the heart, 
is chiefly seated there, and burns there. There is a holy ar- 
dor in every thing that belongs to true grace : True faith is 
an ardent thing, and so is true repentance ; there is a holy 
power and ardor in true spiritual comfort and joy ; yea, even 
in true Christian humility, submission and meekness. The 
reason is, that divine love or charity is the sum of all true 
grace, which is a holy flame enkindled in the soul : It is by 
this therefore especially, that a minister of the gospel is a 
burning light : A minister that is so, has his soul enkindled 
with the heavenly flame ; his heart burns with love to Christ, 
and fervent desires of the advancement of his kingdom and 
glory ; and also with ardent love to the souls of men, and de- 
sires for their salvation. 

2. The inward holy ardor of his soul is exercised and 
manifested in his being zealous and fervent in his administra- 
tions : For, he is a burning light ; which implies that his spir- 
itual heat and holy ardor is not for himself only, but is com- 
municative, and for the benefit of others : He is ardent, as he 
is a light, or in the performance of the duties of that office 
wherein he is set to be a light in the church of Christ. His 
fervent zeal, which has its foundation and spring in that holy 
and powerful flame of love to God and man, that is in his 
heart, appears in the fervency of his prayers to God, for and 
with his people ; and in the earnestness and power with 
which he preaches the word of God, declares to sinners their 
misery, and warns them to fly from the wrath to come, and 
reproves, and testifies against all ungodliness ; and the mi- 
Vol. VIII. 2 X 

:jd2 the true excellency 

feigned earnestness and compassion with which he invites the 
weary and heavy laden to their Saviour ; and the fervent love 
with which he counsels and comforts the saints ; and the holy 
zeal, courage and stedfastncss, with which he maintains the. 
exercise of discipline in the house of God, notwithstanding 
all the opposition he meets with in that difficult part of the 
ministerial work ; and in the diligence and earnestness with 
which he attends every duty of his ministerial function, wheth- 
er public or private. 

But I hasten to the 

III. Thing proposed in the handling of this subject, viz. 
To shew what is implied in a minister's being a .shining light. 

There are three things that seem to be naturally signified 
by it. 

1. That he be fiure, clear, and full in his doctrine. A min- 
ister is set to be a light to men's souls, by teaching, or doc- 
trine : And if he be a shining light in this respect, the light 
of his doctrine must be bright and full ; it must be pure with- 
out mixtures of darkness ; and therefore he must be sound- 
in the faith, not one that is of a reprobate mind ; in doctrine 
he must show uncorruptness ; otherwise his light will be 
darkness : He must not lead his people into errors, but teach 
them the truth only, guiding their feet into the way of peace, 
and leading them in the right ways of the Lord. 

He must be one that is able to teach, not one that is raw, 
ignorant, or unlearned, and but little versed in the things that 
he is to teach others ; not a novice, or one that is unskilful in 
the word of righteousness ; he must be one that is well studied 
in divinity, well acquainted with the written word of God r 
mighty in the scriptures, and able to instruct and convince 

And in order to be a shining light, he must be one that re- 
ally knows what religion is, one that is truly acquainted with 
that Saviour aid w ) o ilvation, that he is to teach to others, , 
that he flaa* ■ that he knows, and testify thi things 

that he has seen, and not be a blind leader of the blind : Ho 


rrmist be one that is acquainted with experimental religion, 
and not ignorant of the inward operations of the Spirit of God, 
nor of Satan's devices ; able to guide souls under their partic- 
ular difficulties. Thus he must be a scribe well instructed in 
things that pertain to the kingdom oj God ; one that brings forth 
out of his treasures, things neiv and old. 

And in order to his being a shining light, his doctrine must 
be full, he must not only be able to teach, but apt to teach, 
ready to instruct the ignorant, and them that are out of the 
way, and diligent in teaching, in public and private ; and care- 
ful and faithful to declare the whole counsel of God, and nqt 
keep back any thing that may be profitable to his hearers. 

Also his being a shining light implies that his instructions 
are clear and plain, accommodated to the capacity of his hear- 
ers, and tending to convey light to their understandings. 

2. Another thing requisite in order to a minister's being 
a shining light, is that he be discreet in all his administrations. 
The fervent zeal that thus should animate and actuate him in 
his administrations should be regulated by discretion : He 
should not only be knowing, and able to communicate knowl- 
edge and formed to doit; but also wise, and know how to 
conduct himself in the house of God, as a wise builder, and a 
wise steward. And as he is one that God hath sent forth to 
labor in his field, and committed the care of his vineyard to, 
so he should conduct himself there as one whom his God doth 
instruct to discretion : He should not only be as harmless as a 
dove, but as wise as a serpent ; shewing himself a workman 
that needs not to be ashamed, righthj dividing the word of truth ; 
and one that knows how to govern the church of God, and to 
walk in wisdom towards those that are without. 

3. Another thing implied in a minister's being a shining 
light, is that he shines in his conversation : If he shines never 
so much in his doctrine and administrations in the house of 
God, yet if there be not an answerable brightness in his con- 
versation, it will have a tendency to render all ineffectual. 
Christ, in Matth. v. 14, 15, 16, says to his disciples (having 
undoubtedly a special respect to those of them that were to be 


sent forth to preach the gospel) " Ye are the light of tlife 
World :. ..Men do not light a candle, and put it under a bushel) 
but on a cuudiestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the 
house." And how does Christ direct them to give light to 
others ? " et vour light " says he, u so shbie before men, 
that other;; . eei>;g your :■; > 7 works may glorify your Father 
which is in heaven." And he tells the same disciples again, 
John xv. 8. ' Jricrein is my Father glorified, that ye bear 
much fruit." And how should they bring forth fruit ? Christ 
tells them, verse 10, •<■ If ye keep my commandments, ye snail 
abide in my love," and verse 14, " Ye are my friends if ye do 
whatsoever I command you." 

C>ou sent his Son into the world to be the light of the 
world these two ways, viz. By revealing his mind and will to 
the world, and also by selling the world a perfect example. 
So ministers ai e set to be lights, not only as teachers, but as 
cnsarr.ples to the flock, 1 Peter v. 3. 

The same things that ministers recommend to their hear- 
ers in their doctrine, they should also shew them an example 
of in their practice. Thus the apostle says to Timothy, 1 
Tim. iv. 11. « These things command and teach ;" and then 
adds in the next verse, " Be thou an example of the believers, 
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in pu- 
rity." So he directs Titus, in his teaching, to recommend 
sobriety, gravity, temperance, patience, and other virtues, in 
the beginning of the 2d chapter of Titus. But then adds in 
the 7th verse, " In all things shewing thyself a pattern of 
good works." 

We see in natural bodies, that when heat is raised in them 
to a high degree, at length they begin to shine : And, as I 
observed before, a principle of true grace in the soul is like 
an inward heat, an holy ardor of an heavenly fire enkindled in 
the soul : This in ministers of the gospel ought to be to that 
degree, as to shine forth brightly in all their conversation ; 
and there should as it were be a light about them wherever 
they go, exhibiting to all that behold them, the amiable, de* 


iightful image of the beauty and brightness of their glorious 

I proceed to the 

IV. Thing proposed, which is to shew that the excellency 
x>f a minister of the gospel consists in his being thus both a 
burning and a shining light. 

This is manifest in two things : 

1. Herein his ministry is acceptable and amiable in the 
sight of God and men. 

When light and heat are thus united in a minister of the 
gospel, it shews that each is genuine, and of a right kind, and 
that both are divine. Divine light is attended with heat ; and 
so, on the other hand, a truly divine and holy heat and ardor is 
ever accompanied with light. 

It is the glory of the sun that such a bright and glorious 
light, and such a powerful, refreshing, vivifying heat, are both 
together diffused from that luminary. When there is light 
in a minister, consisting in human learning, great speculative 
knowledge and the wisdom of this world, without a spiritual 
warmth and ardor in his heart, and a holy zeal in his ministra- 
tions, his light is like the light of an ignis fatuus, and some 
kinds of putrifying carcases that shine in the dark, though 
they are of a stinking savor. And if on the other hand a min- 
ister has warmth and zeal, without light, his heat has nothing 
excellent in it, but is rather to be abhorred ; being like the 
heat of the bottomless pit ; where, though the fire be great, 
yet there is no light. To be hot in this manner, and not light- 
some, is to be like an angel of darkness. But ministers by 
having light and heat united in them, will be like the angels 
of light ; which for their light and brightness are called 
morning stars. Job xxviii. 7. " When the morning stars 
sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." And 
because of that holy ardor of divine love and zeal with which 
they burn, they are compared to a flaming fire. Psal. civ. 4. 
<{ Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flaming 
fire," and arc therefore called seraphims, which is a word 


that is derived from a root that signifies to bum. So that by 
r stersof the gospel being burning and shining tig, .the 
cj , Is of the churches will become like the angels' of fieaven, 
and those stars held in the right hand of Christ here below, 
will be like those 1 norning stars above, and which is much 
more, hereby ministers will be like their glorious Lord and 
Master ; who is not only the Master of ministers of the gos- 
pel, but is the head and Lord of the glorious angels, whom 
they adore, and who communicates to them the brightness in 
which they shine, and the flame with which they burn, and is 
the glorious luminary rod sun of the heavenly world, from 
whence all the inhabitants ot that world have their light and 
life, and all their glory. In this Sun of righteousness is that 
light, whose brightness is such that the light of the sun in the 
firmament in comparison of it is as darkness, yea, black as 
sackcloth of hah : For he is the infinite brightness of God's 
glory ; and of him it is said, Isai. xxiv. 23, " Then the moon 
sm i! be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of 
Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, before his 
ancients, gloriously." And accompanying this bright light 
in him, is the infinitely intense flume of love. There is no 
love to be compared to his ; nor ever was love both to God 
and man so manifested, as has been in what Christ has done 
and suffered ; for hi rein was love ! Ministers, by being burn- 
ing uid shining lights, become the sons of God, of whom we 
read that he is SgAt, and that he is love. 1 John i. 5. " This 
then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare 
unto you, that God is liglu, and in him is no darkness at all." 
And chap. iv. 1 6. " And we have known and believed the 
love that God hath to us : God is love, and he that dwelleth in 
^ove, dwelleth in God, and God in him. 

Therefore it must needs be that ministers, by being burn- 
ing and shining lights, are acceptable and amiable in the sight 
of God, as he delights in his own image and in the image of 
his Son : And hereby also they will be honorable and amiable 
in the sight of men, all such as have any sense of that which 
Is trulv excellent and beautiful j and it is the way to have 


their ministry pleasant and delightful to those of this charac- 
ter that sit under it. 

2. Herein a minister of the gospel will be likely to answer 
the ends of his ministry : By this means his ministry will not- 
only be amiable, but profitable. If a minister has light with- 
out heat, and entertains his auditory with learned discourses, 
without a savor of the power of godliness, or any appearance 
of fervency of spirit, and zeal for God and the good of souls, 
he may gratify itching ears, and fill the heads of his people 
with empty notions ; but it will not be very likely to reach 
their hearts, or save their souls. And if, on the other hand> 
he be driven on with a fierce and intemperate zeal, and vehe- 
ment heat, without light, he will be likely to kindle the like 
unhallowed flame in his people, and to fire their corrupt pas- 
sions and affections ; but will make them never the better, 
nor lead them a step towards heaven, but drive them apace 
the other way. 

But if he approves himself in his ministry, as both a burn- 
ing and a shining light, this will be the way to promote true 
Christianity amongst his people, and to make them both wise* 
good, and cause religion to flourish among them in the purity 
and beauty of it. 

When divine light and heat attend each other in ministers 
of the gospel, their light will be like the beams of the sun, 
that do not only convey light, but give life ; and converts will 
be likely to spring up under their ministry, as the grass and 
the plants of the field under the influences of the sun ; and 
the souls of the saints will be likely to grow, and appear beau- 
tiful as the lilij, and to revive as the corn, and grow as the vinc y 
and their scent to be as the ivine of Lebanon ; and their light 
will be like the light of Christ, which is the light of life, 
John viii. 12. 

If the sun should shine upon the earth, with the same 
brightness that it doth now, yet if it were without any heat, it 
would give life to nothing ; the world be a desolate wilder- 
ness, with nothing growing in it ; the death of every living 
<Ling must be the consequence ; and the sun's light could 


be of no service to us, but to cause us to see our own and oth- 
ers' misery, without being able to help ourselves or them. 
On the other hand, if the sun diffused the same heat that now 
it does, but the world was destitute at the same time of any 
light, it would be equally unserviceable : Mankind having no 
light to guide them in their business, in tilling the field, or 
gathering the produce of the earth, we should be like the 
Egyptians in the three days' darkness, who saw not one an- 
other, nor rose from their place : And thus also death would 
be the unavoidable consequence. But by light and heat ac- 
companying one another, the whole face of the earth becomes 
fruitful, and is adorned, and all things are quickened and 
flourish, and mankind enjoy both life and comfort. 

I proceed to the 

V. Thing proposed in handling the doctrine, to apply 
these things to all here present, that Christ has called to the 
work of the gospel ministry, observing how much it concerns 
such to endeavor to be burning and shining lights. 

Our office and work is most honorable, in that we are set 
by Christ to be lights or luminaries in the spiritual world. 
Light is the most glorious thing in the material world, and 
there are, it may be, no parts of the natural world that have 
so great an image of the goodness of God, as the lights or lu- 
minaries of heaven ; and especially the sun, who is constantly 
communicating his benign influence to enlighten, quicken 
and refresh the world by his beams ; which is probably the 
reason that the worship of the sun was (as is supposed) the 
first idolatry that mankind fell into. But so are ministers 
honored by their great Lord and Master, that they are set to 
be that to men's souls, that the lights of heaven are to their 
bodies ; and that they might be the instruments and vehicles 
of God's greatest goodness, and the most precious fruits of 
his eternal love to them, and means of that life, and refresh- 
ment and joy, that are spiritual and eternal, and infinitely more 
precious than any benefit received by the benign beams of the 
sun in the firmament. And we shall be likely indeed to be 


the instruments of those unspeakable benefits to the souls of 
our fellow creatures, if we have those qualifications, which 
have been shewn to be the true and proper excellency of min- 
isters of the gospel. Herein our glory will answer the honor- 
able station Christ has set us in. And hereby our ministry 
will be likely to be as beneficial as our office is honorable : 
We shall be like Christ, and shall shine with his beams ; 
Christ will live in us, and be seen in his life and beauty in our 
ministry, and in our conversation, and we shall be most like- 
ly to be the means of bringing others to him, and of their re- 
ceiving of his light, and being made partakers of his life, and 
having his joy fulfilled in them. And this will be the way for 
us hereafter to be as much advanced and distinguished in our 
reward, as we are honored in the office and business we are 
called to here. In this way, those whom Christ has set to be 
lights in his church, and to be stars in the spiritual world here, 
shall be lights also in the church triumphant, and shine as 
stars for ever in heaven. Daniel xii. 3, " And they that be 
•wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they 
that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and 

But if we fail of the proper excellency of ministers of the 
gospel, we shall not be in the sight of God the more worthy 
or honorable for our high office, but the more abominable and 
inexcusable ; our wickedness being aggravated by God's 
great goodness and condescension to us, and the peculiar ob- 
ligations that belaid upon us ; and instead of being eminently 
beneficial and great blessings, as lights to reflect the beams of 
Christ's glory and love, we shall be so much the more hurtful 
and pernicious, for our being in such a station ; and so shall 
be likely hereafter to suffer a so much more dreadful punish- 
ment. The devils in hell are so much the more odious to 
God, and more the objects of his wrath, because he set them 
in the dignity and glory of angels, the excellency of which 
state they are fallen from. And it is likely that those in hell 
that will be nearest to the fallen angels, in their state of mis- 
ery, will be those that Christ once set to be angels of the 
Vol. VIII. 2 Y 


churches, but through their unfaithfulness, failed of their prop- 
er excellency and end. 

Here I would apply myself in a few words to the person 
whose intended ordination, this day, to the great work of the 
gospel minstry, is the occasion of this discourse. 

You have now, clear sir, heard something of the nature and 
design of that office to which you are this day, in the name of 
Christ, to be solemnly set apart. You are therein called to be 
a light to the souls of men, a lamp in God's temple, and a star 
in the spiritual world. And you have heard wherein, in 
Christ's esteem, consists the proper excellency of one in that 
office, and how in this a minister of the gospel becomes, like 
his glorious master, and glorifies him, and is likely to be the 
instrument of the salvation and happiness of the souls of men, 
and to receive a glorious reward from the hands of God. 

These, sir, are the motives that you are to be influenced 
by, to endeavor to be a burning and a shining light in the work 
of the ministry. As to the things of this world, you are not 
to expect outward case, pleasure and plenty : Nor are you to 
depend on the friendship and respect of men ; but should 
prepare to endure hardness, as one that is going forth as a 
soldier to war. But they are higher things than these, more 
excellent benefits than the world can afford, that Christ offers 
to those that approve themselves to him in this work. 

God in his providence has brought you far from your na- 
tive land, and from your friends and acquaintance there ; but 
you will have reason notwithstanding to acknowledge the 
good hand of his providence towards you, if he is pleased to 
make you a burning and shining light in this part of his 
church, and by the influence of your light and heat (or rather 
by his divine influence, with your ministry) to cause this wil- 
derness to bud and blossom as the rose, and give it the excel- 
lency of Carmel and Sharon, and to cause you to shine in the 
midst of this people with warm and lightsome, quickening 
and comforting beams, causing their souls to flourish, rejoice 
and bear fruit like a garden of pleasant fruits, under the beams 
of the sun. 


By this means you will be to their souls the vehicle of the 
influences and blessings of the heavenly world, which is a 
world of light and love, shall be ever held in Christ's right 
hand, and shall be terrible to the powers of darkness ; and 
shall see more and more of the light of Christ's glory and 
grace in this place, with you and this people, and shall here- 
after not only shine yourself, as the brightness of the firma- 
ment, but shall meet with them in glory also, who shall shine 
there around you, as a bright Constellation in the highest 
Heaven; where they shall be your everlasting Crown of re- 

But I hasten to the 

VI. Thing proposed, which was to shew what course min- 
isters of the gospel ought to take, or what things they should 
do, that they may be burning and shining lights. 

And here I shall but just mention things, without en- 

And in order to this, ministers should be diligent in their 
studies, and in the Work of the ministry to which they are 
called ; giving themselves wholly to it ; taking heed to them- 
selves, that their hearts be not engaged, and their minds 
swallowed up, and their time consumed, in pursuits after the 
profits and vain glory of the world. 

And particularly, ministers should be very conversant 
with the holy scriptures ; making it very much their business, 
with the utmost diligence and strictness, to search those holy 
Writings : For they are as it were the beams of the light of 
the sun of righteousness ; they are the light by which minis- 
ters must be enlightened, and the light they are to hold forth 
to their hearers ; and they are the fire whence their hearts 
and the hearts of their hearers must be enkindled. 

They should earnestly seek after much of the spiritual 
knowledge of Christ, and that they may live in the clear views 
of his glory. For by this means they will be changed into the 
image of the same glory and brightness, and will come to their 
people as Moses came down to the congregation of Israel, 
after he had seen God's back parts in the Mount, with his face 


shining. If the light of Christ's glory shines upon them, it 
will be the way for them to shine with the same kind of light 
on their hearers, and to reflect the same beams, which have 
heat, as well as brightness. The light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, is the treasure 
the apostle speaks of, that ministers have, as in earthen ves- 
sels : 2. Cor iv. 6, 7. " For God, who commanded the light 
to shine out of darkness hath shined into your hearts, to give 
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of 
Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." 
This was probably typified of old, by the burning lights and. 
lamps which Gideon's soldiers had in one hand in earthen 
pitchers, while they held a trumpet in the other, with which 
they sounder!, (typifying the preaching of the gospel.) And 
thus with the hound of these trumpets, and these burning 
lights or earthen vessels, they overcame the enemies of God 
and his pee: 

Ministi order to their being burning and shining 

lights, sho^.^. walk closely with God, and keep near to Christ; 
that they may ever be enlightened and enkindled by him. 
And they should be much in seeking God, and .convening 
with him by prayer, who is the fountain of light and love : 
And knowing their own emptiness and helplessness shouid be 
ever dependent on Christ ; being sensible with Jekemiah that 
they are children, should sit as children at Christ's feet to hear 
his word, and be instructed by him ; and being sensible with 
Isaiah that they are men of unclean lips, should seek that 
their iips may be, as it were, touched with a live coal from the 
altar, as it were by the bright and burning seraphim. 

1 come now to the 
V II And last thing proposed, to say something very briefly 
concerning the duties of a people that are under the care of a 
minister corresponding with these things that Christ has 
taught us concerning the nature and end of this sacred office. 
Vnd here I would have a special respect to the people of God 
in this place, who are about to have the care of their souls 


committed to him, that is now solemnly to be set apart to the 
work of the ministry. 

If it be, as you have heard, the proper excellency of a min- 
ister of the gospel to be a burning and a shining light, then it 
is your duty earnestly to pray for your minister, that he may 
be filled with divine light, and with the power of the Holy 
Ghost, to make him so. For herein you will but pray for the 
greatest benefit to yourselves ; for if your minister burns and 
shines, it will be for your light and life. That which has been 
spoken of, as it is the chief excellency of a minister, so it ren- 
ders a minister the greatest blessing of any thing in the world 
that ever God bestows on a people. 

And as it is your duty, to pray that your minister may by this 
mean become such a blessing to you, so you should do your 
part to make him so, by supporting him, and putting him un- 
der the best advantage, with a mind free from worldly cares, 
and the pressure of outward wants and difficulties, to give him- 
self wholly to his work ; and by all proper acts of respect and 
kindness and assistance, to encourage his heart, and strength- 
en his hands : And to take heed that instead of this you do 
not take a course to obscure and extinguish the light that 
would shine among you, and to smother and suppress the 
flame, by casting dirt upon it ; by necessitating your minister 
by your penuriousness towards him, to be involved in world- 
ly care ; and by discouraging his heart by disrespect and un- 
kindness. And particularly when your minister shews him- 
self to be a burning light by burning with a proper zeal against 
any wickedness that may be breaking out amongst his people, 
and manifests it by bearing a proper testimony against it in 
the preaching of the word, or by a faithful exercise of the dis- 
cipline of God's house, instead of taking it thankfully, and 
yielding to him in it, as you ought, does not raise another fire 
of a contrary nature against it, viz. the fire of your unhallow- 
ed passions, reflecting upon and reproaching him for his faith- 
fulness. Herein you will act very unbecoming a Christian 
people, and shew yourselves very ungrateful to your minister, 
and to Christ who has bestowed upon you so faithful a minis- 


ter, and will also, while you fight against him, and againsl 
Christ, fight most effectually against your own souls. If 
Christ gives you a minister that is a burning and shining 
light, take heed that you do not hate the light, because 
your deeds are reproved by it ; but love and rejoice in his 
light ; and that not only for a season, like John the Baptist's 
apostatizing hearers : And come to the light. Let your fre«» 
quent resort be to your minister for instruction in soul cases, 
and under all spiritual difficulties ; and be open to the light 
and willing to receive it ; and be obedient to it. And thus 
walk as the children of the light, and follow your minister 
wherein he is a follower of Christ, i. e. wherein he is as a 
burning and shining light. If you continue so to do, your 
path will be the path of the just, which shines more and more 
to the perfect day, and the end of your course shall be in those 
blissful regions of everlasting light above, where you shall 
shine forth with your minister, and both with Christ, as the 
sun, in the kingdom of the heavenly Father. 


Christ the Example of Ministers. 

JOHN xiii. 15, 16. 



E have in the context, an account of one of the 
many very remarkable things that passed that night wherein 
Christ was betrayed (which was on many accounts the most 
remarkable night that ever was) viz. Christ's washing his dis- 
ciple's feet ; which action, as it was exceeding wonderful in 
itself, so it manifestly was symbolical, and represented some- 
thing else far more important and more wonderful, even that 
greatest and most wonderful of all things that ever came to 
pass, which was accomplished the next day in his last suffer- 

* Preached at Portsmouth, at the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Job Strong. 
June 28, 1749. 


ings. There were three symbolical representations given of 
that great event this evening ; one in the passover, which 
Christ now partook of with his disciples ; another in the 
Lord's supper, which he instituted at this time ; and another 
in this remarkable action of his washing his disciple's feet. 
Washing the feet of guests was the office of servants, and one 
of their meanest offices : And therefore was fitly chosen by 
our Saviour to represent that great abasement which he was to 
be the subject of in the form of a servant, in becoming obedient 
unto death, even that ignominious and accursed death of the 
cross, that he might, cleanse the souls of his disciples from 
their guilt and spiritual pollution. 

This spiritual washing and cleansing of believers was the 
end for which Christ so abased himself for them. Tit. ii. 14. 
" Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all 
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people." Eph. v. 
25,26. "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, 
that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of wa- 
ter." That Christ's washing his disciple's feet signified this 
spiritual washing of the soul, is manifest by his own words in 
the 8th verse of the context. " Peter saith unto him, Thou 
shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash 
thee not, thou hast no part with me." Christ, in being obe- 
dient unto death, even the death of the cross, not only did the 
part of a servant unto God, but in some respects also of a 
servant unto us. And this is not the only place where his so 
abasing himself for our sakes is compared to the doing of the 
part of a servant to guests. We have the like representation 
made in Luke xxii. 27. " For whether is greater, he that sit- 
teth at meat, or he that serveth ? Is not he that siiteth at 
meat ? But I am among you as he that serveth." And where- 
in Christ was among the disciples as he that did serve, is ex- 
plained in Matth. xx. 28, namely, in his giving his life a ran- 
so?n for them. 

When Christ had finished washing his disciples' feet, he 
solemnly requires their attention to what he had done, and 
cbmrnands them to follow his example therein. Verse 12.... 17. 


M So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his gar- 
ments, and was set down again, lie said unto them, Know ye 
what I have clone unto you ? Ye call me Master and Lord, 
and ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and [Vhis- 
ter, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one anoth- 
er's feet : For I have given you an example, that ye should do 
as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the 
servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent, 
greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, hap- 
py are ye if ye do them." 

When our Saviour calls on his disciples to imitate the ex- 
ample he had given them in what he had done, we are to un- 
derstand him, not merely by the example he gave in the em- 
blematical action, in washing his disciples' feet, in it selfcon- 
sidered ; but more especially, of that much greater act of his 
that was signified by it, in abasing himself so low, and suffer-? 
ing so much, for the spiritual cleansing and salvation of his 

This is what is chiefly insisted on as the great example 
Christ has given us to follow : So it is once and again after- 
wards, in the discourse Christ had with his disciples, this 
same night, verse 31, of the chapter wherein is the text: " A 
new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; 
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Chap. xv. 
12, 13. " This is my commandment, that ye love one anoth- 
er, as I have 1 jved you. Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends." And so in 1 John 
iii. 16. " Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he 
laid down his life for us ; and we ought to lay down our lives 
for the brethren." 

Christ, in the words of the text, does not only intend to re- 
commend this example of his to the disciples as Christians, or 
some of his professing people, but especially as his ministers. 
This is evident by those words he uses to enforce this coun- 
sel, " Neither he that is sent, is greater than he that sent 
him." In which words he manifestly has respect to that great 

Vojl. VIII. 2 Y 


errand on which he had sent them, when he bid them go andJ 
/:■>•> nc/i the gosfiei to ttet hat xh-.fi of the J 7 us /' I , 
Mutth. x. 5, 6. and on which they were to be sent after his 
resurrection, when he said to them, "Go ye into all ne world, 
ano preach the gospel to every creature." The same envnd 
that v "i rist has respect to John xx. 21. " As my rather hath 
sent me, even so send I yon." 

And what confirms tliis is, that Christ elsewhere recom- 
mends to officers in his church, that are in that respect chief 
amor?- his followers, the example which he set in nis abasing 
himself to be as a servant that ministers to quests at a table, 
in his giving his life for us; Matth. xx. 27, 28. « Whosoev- 
er wiil be chief among; you, let him be your servant : Even as 
the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minis- 
ter, and to give his life a ransom for many." Compare Luke 
xxii. 25....2S* 

The work and business of ministers of the gospel is as it 
were that of servants, to wash and cleanse the souls of mui : 
For this is done by the preaching of the word, which is their 
main business, Eph. v. 26. " That he might sanctify and' 
cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." 

The words of the text thus considered, do undoubtedly 
lead us to this conclusion, and teach us this doctrine, uz. 

That it is the duty of ministers ol the gospel, in the work 
of their ministry, to follow the example of their great Lord 
and Master. 

And this is what I would by divine assistance make the 
subject of my present discourse. 

And I propose to handle this subject in the following; 

I. I would observe wherein ministers of the gospel ought 
to follow the example of Christ. 

II. Give some reasons why they should follow his ex- 


TIL I would endeavor to make a proper application of 
itfhose things to myself, and others that are called to this work 
of the ministry. 

IV. Shew what improvement should be made of them by 
the people of this church and congregation. 

I. Then, I would shew wherein ministers of the gospel 
ought in the work of their ministry, to follow the example of 
their great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. 

And here, 
1. In general, ministers should follow their Lord and 
Master in all those excellent virtues, and in that universal and 
eminent holiness of life, which he set an example of in his 
hum an nature. 

The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same 
spirit that their Lord was of : The same spirit of humility 
and lowliness of heart ; for the servant is not greater than his 
Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly Hand- 
edness and contempt of the glory, wealth and pleasures of tnis 
world : They should be of the same spirit of devotion and fer- 
vent love to God : They should follow the example of his 
prayerfulness ; of whom we read from time to time of his re- 
tiring from the world, away from the noise and applauses of 
the multitudes, into mountains and Solitary places for secret 
prayer, and holy converse with his Father; and once of his 
rising up in the morning a great while before day, and going 
and departing into a solitary place to pray, Mark i. 35. ...and 
another time, of his going out into a mountain to pray, and 
continuing all night in prayer to God, Luke vi. 12. Minis- 
ters should follow Christ's example, in his strict, constant and 
inflexible observance of the commands which God had given 
him, touching what he should do and what he should say ; he 
spake nothing of himself, but those things which the Father 
had commanded him, those he spake, and always did those 
things that pleased him, and continued in thorough obedience 


and the greatest trials, and through the greatest opposition 
that ever there was any instance of. Ministers should be 
persons of the same quiet, lamblike spirit that Christ was of, 
the same spirit of submission to Cod's wiil, and patience un- 
der afflictions, and meekness towards men, of the same calm- 
ness and composure of spirit under repioaches and sufferings 
from the malignity of evil men ; of the same spirit of forgive- 
ness of injuries ; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love 
and extensive benevolence ; the same disposition to pity the 
miserable, to weep with those that weep, to help men under 
their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the 
requests of the needy, and relieve the afflicted ; the same 
spirit of condescension to tbe poor and mean, tenderness and 
gentleness towards the weak, and great and effectual love to 
enemies. They should also be of the same spirit of zeal, dili- 
gence and selfdenial for the glory of ( .od, and advancement of 
his kingdom, and for the good of mankind ; for which things' 
sake Christ went through the greatest labors, and endured the 
mos extreme sufferings. 

2. More particularly should ministers of the gospel fol- 
low he example of their great Master, in the manner in 
which they seek the salvation and happiness of the souls of 
men. They should follow his example of love to souls : 
Though it be impossible that they should love them to so 
great a degree, yet they should have the same spirit of love 
to mem, and concern for their salvation, according to their ca- 
pacity. Love to men's souls in Christ was far above any re- 
gard he had to his temporal interest, his ease, his honor, his 
r,i- a and drink; and so it should be with his ministers, They 
should have the same spirit of compassion to men under their 
spiritual calamities and miseries, that he had of whom we 
read, Mark vi 34. " That when he came out and saw much 
people, he was moved with compassion towards them, be- 
cause they were as sheep not having a shepherd ; and he be- 
gan to teach them many things." The word translated moved 
ivilh com/ias&ion, signifies, that he was most sensibly affected, 
and had his inmost bowels moved with pity. And again w c 


read, Luke xix. That when Christ was riding to Jerusalem, 
that wicked city, but a few days before his crucifixion, and 
was come to the descent of the Mount of Olives, where he 
had a fair view of the city, when he beheld it, he v.ept over it, 
©n account of the misery and ruin they had brought them- 
selves into danger of by their sin ; although the sin by which 
especially they had made themselves thus miserable, was 
their vile treatment of him ; (for Jerusalem was a city that 
had been peculiarly injurious to him) and though Christ knew 
how cruelly he should be treated in that city before that week 
was past, how he there should be set at nought, and with 
great malignity bound, falsely accused and condemned, revil- 
ed, spit upon, scourged and crucified : Yet all does not pre- 
vent his most affectionate tears of compassion towards them. 
" When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over 
it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou (thou as wicked as 
thou art, and as vile as thou hast been in thy treatment of me; 
even thou) the things which belong unto thy peace ! But now 
they are hid from thine eyes." (Compare Matth. xxiii. £7, 
and Luke xiii. 34.) One would have thought he would have 
been more concerned for himself than Jerusalem, who had 
such a dreadful cup to drink, and was to suffer such extreme 
things by the cruelly of Jerusalem that week. But he as it 
were forgets his own sorrow and death, and weeps over the 
misery of his cruel enemies. 

Ministers should imitate their great master in his fervent 
prayers for the good of the souls of men. We find it to be 
Christ's manner whenever he undertook any thing of special 
importance in the work of his ministry, first to retire and 
pour out his soul in extraordinary prayer to his Father. Thus 
when he was about to enter on a journey, and go a circuit 
throughout all Galilee, to preach in their synagogues, " he 
rose up a great while before day, and went out, and departed 
into a solitary place, and there prayed," Mark i. S5....39. 
And when he was about to choose his twelve apostles, and 
send them out to preach the gospel, he first went out into a 
mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God, 


Luke vi. 12, he. And the night before his crucifixion, where- 
in he offered up himself a saciifice for the souls of nun- ne 
pours out his soul in extraordinary prayer, for those he • as 
about to die for, as we have an account in John xvii. That 
Wonderful and most affecting prayer of his, was not so much 
for oil, self as for his people. Although he knew what amaz- 
ing sufferings he was to undergo the next day, yet he seems 
as it were to be unmindful of himself, and to have his heart all 
taken up with concern about his disciples ; which he mani- 
fests in bis spending" so much time in comforting and counsel- 
ling them, and praying for them v» ith great affection, compas- 
sion, earnest care and fatherly tenderness. And the prayers 
that be made in the garden of Gethsemane, under the amaz- 
ing view of the cup he was to drink the next day, seem to be 
intercessory; especially the last of the three prayers which 
he there made, wheti being in ar a:(ony, he frayed more ear- 
nestly ; and his siveat vm* ek it were great droffo of biood falling 
ctripn to thcgrMtrd: When he did not pray that the cup 
might pass iroro him- as he had done before, but that God's 
.' be done. (Vompare Luke xxii. 44, with Matth. 
xxvi. 42.) That prayer, as the apostle teaches us, Heb. v. 6, 
7, was a prayer that he put up as our High Priest ; and there- 
fore must be a prayer of intercession for us, a prayer offered 
up v\ith his blood which he sweat i.i his agony ; as prayers 
were wont to be offered up with the blood ot the sacrifices in 
the temple. H ; s prayer at that time; Thy will lie done, was 
not mily an expression of submission, but had the form of a 
petition, as it is in the Lord's prayer. He prayed that God's 
will might be done in hit being enabled to do the nvi'l of God, 
persevering in obedience unto death ; and in the success of 
his sufferings ; which might in an eminent manner be called 
the will of God, as it is in Psal. xl- 7, 8. " Then said I, Lo, I 

come I delight to do thy will, O my God." 

Ministers should follow the example of Christ in his dili- 
gence and laboriousness in his work. " He went about doing 
good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devi'," Acts 
x. 38. So abundant was he in labors, that oftentimes he 


scarcely allowed himself time to eat or drink ; insomuch that 
his friends sometimes went < ut to Ly hold of him, saying, 
" He is beside himself," Murk iii. 20, 2 . . That three years 
and an half of his public ministry was so filled with action and 
labor, that one of his disciples that constantly attended him, 
and was an eye witness of his activity, tells us, that if all that 
he did ,/i'idd be written^ the world would not contain the books. 
Ministers should follow the example of hrist, in his 
readiness not only to labor, but suffer for the s ilvation of souls, 
to spend and be spent for them. In this respect the Apostle 
Paul imitated his Lord and Master. Philip, ii I 7. " Yea, and 
if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I 
joy and rejoice with you all." Col. i. 24. " Who now rejoice 
in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of 
the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which 
is the church." 2 Cor. xii 15. "And I will very gladly 
spend and be spent for you." Christ, in his prayers, labors 
and sufferings for the souls of men, is represented as travail- 
ing in birth with them. Isai. liii. 11. "He shall see of the 
travail of his soul." In like manner should ministers travail 
for the conversion and salvation of their hearers. They 
should imitate the faithfulness of Christ in his ministry, in 
speaking whatsoever God had commanded him, and declaring 
the whole counsel of God. They should imitate him in the 
rm-v.ner of his preaching ; who luught not as the Scribes, but 
with authority, boldly, zealously and fervently ; insisting 
chiefly on the most important things in religion, being much 
in warping men of the danger of damnation, setting forth the 
greatness of the future misery of the ungodly ; insisting not 
only on the outward, but also the inward and spiritual duties 
of religion; being much in declaring the great provocation 
and danger of spiritual pride, and a seifrigiueous disposition ; 
yet much insisting on the necessity and importance of inhe- 
rent holiness, and -be piactice of piety. Behaving himself 
with admirable wisdom in all that he said and did in his min- 
istry, amidst the many difficulties, ene nies sm.d temptation^ 
he was surrounded with, wonderi'uhy adapting his discourses 


to persons, seasons and occasions. Isai 1. 4. " The Lord 
God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should 
know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary." 

Ministers should follow their Master in his zeal, so won- 
derfully mixed and tempered with gentleness and condescen- 
sion in his dealing with souls ; preaching the gospel to the 
poor, and taking a gracious notice from time to time of little 
children. And they should imitate their Lord in his follow- 
ing the work of the ministry, not from mercenary views, or 
for the sake of worldly advantages, but for God's glory, and 
men's salvation ; and in having his heart engaged in his 
work; it being his great delight, and his meat to do the will 
of his Father, and finish his wo-k, John iv. 34, and having his 
heart set on the success of his great undertaking in the salva- 
tion of souls; this being the joy that was set before him, for 
which he run his race, endured the cross, and despised the 
shame ; his delight in the prospect of the eternal salvation of 
souls, more than countervailing the dread he had of his ex- 
treme sufferings. Many waters could not quench his love, 
neither could the floods drown it, for his love was stronger 
than death ; yea, than- the mighty pains and torments of such 
a death. 

I now proceed to the 

II. Thing proposed in the handling of this subject, which 
was to give some reasons why ministers of the gospel should 
follow the example of their great Lord and Master, Jesus 

1. They should follow his example, because he is their 
Lord and Master. Christ, as he is a divine person, is the 
Lord of heaven and earth, and so one of infinite dignity, to 
whom our supreme respect is due ; and on that account he is 
infinitely worthy that we should regard, not only his precepts, 
but example. The infinite honorableness of his person re- 
commends his virtues, and a conformity to them as our great- 
est dignity and honor. 


Christ is more especially the Lord of Christians ; who arc 
therefore under special obligations , > follow him. He is their 
shepherd, and surely the flock should follow their shepherd. 
He is the captain of their salvation ; and it becomes soldiers 
to follow their captain and leader. He is their head ; not 
only their head of rule and authority, but their head of influ- 
ence and communication, their vital head, and Christians are 
members of his body ; but members, as partakers of the 
life and spirit of the head, are conformed to the head. 

But Christ is still in a more peculiar manner the Lord and 
Master of ministers of the gospel, as they are not only mem- 
bers of his church, but the officers of his kingdom, and the 
dignified servants of his family. It is the manner of a people 
to imitate their prince, but especially the ministers of his 
kingdom, and officers of his household. It is the duty of the 
whole army to follow their general, but especially of those of- 
ficers that have a commission under him 

2. Ministers of the gospel are in some respects called and 
devoted to the same work and business that Christ himself 
was appointed to. Ministers are not men's mediators ; for 
there is but one Mediator between God and man, the Man 
Christ Jesus : They are not our priests to make atonement 
and work out righteousness for us ; for Christ by one offering 
has perfected forever them that are sanctified : They are not 
lords over Cod's heritage ; for one is their master, even 
Christ. But yet ministers of the gospel, as Christ's servants 
and officers under him, are appointed to promote the designs 
of that great work of Christ, the work of salvation. It is the 
work that ministers are devoted to; and therefore they are rep- 
resented as coworkers with Christ. 3. Cor. vi. 1. " We then, 
as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye re- 
ceive not the grace of God in vain." Christ is the Saviour of 
the souls of men; ministers also, are spoken of in scripture 
as saving men's souls. 1 Tim iv. 16. " in doing this, thou 
shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." Rom. x. 
14. "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them 
which are my flesh, and might save some of them." 1 Cor. 

Vol. VIII. 2 Z 


ix. 22. " That I might by all means save some." And> 
■whereas it is said Obad. 21. "Saviours shall come upon' 
Mount Zion ;" ministers of the gospel are supposed to be- 
there intended. 

The work of ministers is in many respects like the work 
that Christ himself was appointed to, as the Saviour of men ; 
and especially the same with the work which Christ does in 
his prophetical office ; only with this difference, that minis- 
ters are to speak and act wholly under Christ, as taught of 
him, as holding forth his word, and by light and strength com- 
municated from him. Christ himself after his baptism, fol- 
lowed the work of the ministry: He was a minister of the 
true sanctuary (Heb. viii 2) he spake and acted as his Fa- 
ther's minister ; was a minister of the gospel, and as such 
preached and administered sacraments. Pastors of churches 
are ministers of the same gospel ; but in their ministry they 
act as the ministers of Christ. Jesus Christ is the great Bish- 
op of souls ; ministers are also bishops under him. Christ 
came into the world (hat he might be the light of the world ; 
ministers are set to be lights unto the churches, and are also 
said to be the light of the world. Matth. v. 14. Christ is 
the bright and morning star ; ministers are stars in Christ's 
hand. Christ h the messenger of the covenant; ministers 
are called messengers of the Lord of Hosts. Christ is his 
people's shepherd, the good shepherd, the great shepherd of 
his sheep. Ministers are also frequently called shepherds^ 
and are directed to feed the flock of Christ, which he purcha- 
sed with his own blood. 

Seeing therefore it is thus, that the work that ministers 
are culled and devoted to, is no other than the work of Christ, 
or the work that Christ does, certainly they ought to do his 
work ; which they do not do, unless they imitate him, and do 
as he does, or as he hath set them an example. 

3. The example of Christ is most worthy of ministers' 1 
imitation. His example was perfect, without error, blemish 
or defect ; and therefore worthy to be made our rule, and to 
be regarded and followed without exception, limitation or re- 


serve ; unless in those things which he did that were proper 
to his peculiar office. Christ's virtue was not only perfect, 
but was exercised in those circumstances, and under those 
trials, that rendered his virtuous acts vastly the most amiable 
of any that ever appeared in any creature whether man or an- 
gel. If we consider the perfection of the virtue that Christ 
exercised, his virtue did exceed that of the most eminent, 
saints, more than the purest gold exceeds the meanest and 
foulest ore : And if we consider the manner of its exercise, 
and the trials under which it was exercised, and the blessed 
fruits it has brought forth, so his virtue exceeds that of all 
other perfectly innocent creatures, and even of the brightest 
angel, as the sun in its glory exceeds the stars. 

And this example was set us in our own nature, and so is 
especially fitted for our imitation. There was in the man 
Christ Jesus, who was one of us, and dwelt among us, such 
exercises of virtue as became our state and circumstances in 
the world, as those who dwell in frail flesh and blood, and as 
members of humane society, and dwellers in such a world of 
sorrow and death. 

And then these amiable exercises of virtue in Christ, were 
exhibited chiefly in the things which he did in that work 
wherein ministers are called to act as coworkers with him. 
The bright and glorious example of Christ that is set before 
us, is chiefly in what he did during the three years and an half 
of his public ministry ; and in the devotion, heavenly minded- 
ness, humility, patience, meekness, forgiveness, selfdenial 
and charity, which he exercised in the labors and sufferings 
he went through for the good of the souls of men : And there- 
fore is especially set for the imitation of those who are set 
•apart that they may make it the whole business of their lives 
to seek the same good of souls. 

4. Ministers should follow that example of Christ which 
has been spoken of, because if they are fit for ministers, and 
are such as have any right to take that work upon themselves, 
Christ has set them this example in what he has done for 
their souls. " I haye given you an example (says Christ in 


the text) that you should do as I have done to you." Minis* 
ters should be animated in this work by a great love to the 
souls of men, and should be ready to spend and be spent for 
ihem ; for Christ loved them, and gave himself for them : 
He loved them with a love stronger than death. They should 
have compassion to men under their spiritual miseries, as 
Christ had pity on them. They should be much in prayer 
tor the people of their flock, considering how Christ prayed 
and agonized for them, in tears of blood. They should trav- 
ail in birth with the souls that are committed to their care, 
seeing their own salvation is the fruit of the travail of Christ's 
soul. They should exercise a meek and condescending spirit 
to the mean and weak and poor, and should as it were wash 
the feet of Christ's disciples ; considering how Christ conde- 
scended to them, when they were wretched and miserable 
and poor and blind and naked, and abased himself to wash 
their feet. 

The chief trials of Christ's virtue, and so their most blight 
and eminent exercises were in the abasement, labor and suffer- 
ing, that he was the subject of for our salvation. Which cer- 
tainly may well endear those virtues to us, and greatly engage 
us to imitate that example : So the things whereof this ex- 
ample consists, were things by which we have infinite benefit, 
without which we should have been unspeakably miserable 
forever and ever, and by virtue of which we have the glori- 
ous privilege of the children of God, and have a full title to 
the crown ef exceeding glory, and pleasures for evermore, at 
God's right hand. 

III. I now proceed, as was proposed, in the third place, 
to apply what has been said to myself, and others that are em- 
ployed in this sacred work of the gospel ministry, and to such 
lis arc about to undertake it, or are candidates for it ; and par- 
ticularly to him that is now to be solemnly set apart to this 
work in this place. 

We are those to whom these things especially belong : 
We may hear Christ saying to us this day, " I have given you 


an example, that ye should do as I have done." For the 
words of Christ in the text were not only spoken to the twelve, 
but are also spoken unto us. We have now had represented 
to us, though in a very imperfect manner, the example that 
Christ has set, and what reasons there are that we, above all 
others, should imitate it. 

It is not only our great duty, but will be our greatest hon- 
or to imitate Christ, and do the work that he has done, and so 
act as coworkers with him. 

There are two kinds of persons that are given to Christ, 
and appointed and devoted of God to be his servants, to be em- 
ployed with Christ, and under him, in his great work of the 
salvation of the souls of men ; and they are angels and minis- 
ters. The angels are all of them, even the most exalted of 
them, subjected of God the Father to our Redeemer, and giv- 
en to him as his servants, to be subservient to the great de- 
signs of his saving and glorifying his elect ; Heb. i. 14. " Are 
they not all ministring spirits, sent forth to minister for them 
who shall be heirs of salvation ?" And doubtless, they were 
created for this very end ; God made them for his Son, to be 
subservient to him in this great work ; which seems to be the 
chief design of all God's works. And the employment of 
ministers of the gospel in this respect, is like that of the glo- 
rious angels The principalities and powers in heavenly pla- 
ces, esteem it not any debasement, but their great honor, to 
be employed as Christ's ministers in this work; for therein 
they are employed as the ministers of God, in the greatest and 
most honorable of all God's works ; that work of God where- 
in his glory is chiefly displayed, and which his heart was chief- 
ly upon from eternity. It is the honor of the Son of God 
himself, that he is appointed to this work. It was because. 
God the Father infinitely loved his Son, and delighted to put 
honor upon him, that he appointed him to be the author of 
that glorious work of the salvation of men. And when we 
consider the greatness, importance and excellency of it, we 
have reason to be astonished at the condescension of God, that 
he would ever improve mere creatures as coworkers and min- 


"isters of Christ in this affair ; for who is sufficient for these 
titinga ? 2 Cor. ii. 6. " Who is fit, or worthy ? Who is equal 
to a work of such dignity, and vast importance ?" Especially 
have we reason to wonder that God will employ, not only holy 
and glorious angels, but feeble, frail, sinful worms of the dust, 
in this work, who need redemption themselves : And yet the 
honor that is put upon faithful ministers, is in some respects 
greater than that of the angels : They seem to be that kind of 
servants that are the most dignified of the two. For Christ 
makes his angels to be ministering spirits unto them, unto the 
faithful ministers ; and the angels are their angels : As faith- 
ful ministers of the gospel are not only ministers to the church, 
but dignified members of the church, that spouse of the king 
*rf glory, on whom the most glorious angels, the highest min- 
isters in the court of heaven, are appointed to attend. And 
then Christ seems especially to delight to carry on his work of 
the salvation of souls, through the ministrations of men, who 
have that nature that Christ is united to, and that are of those 
sons of men with whom he had his delight before the world 
was made. So it is by the ministration of men, that the scrip- 
tures are given ; they were the penmen of the holy bible ; 
and by them the gospel is preached to the world : By them 
ordinances are administered, and, through their ministrations, 
especially, souls are converted. When Christ himself was 
employed in the work of the ministry, in the time of his hu- 
miliation, but few, comparatively, were brought home to him, 
immediately by his mimstr lions : It pleased Christ to re- 
serve this honor for his disciples and ministers, after his ascen- 
sion, to whom he promised that they should, in this respect, 
do greater works than he, Job xiv. 12, and acccordingly it was 
by their preaching that the gentile world was converted, and 
Saun's kingdom overthrown. Thus God delights " to perfect 
pruise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, that he may 
still the enemy and the avenger." 

It will be our great honor that we are called to this work 
of Christ, if therein we follow him ; for therein we shall be 
like the Son of God : But if wc are unfaithful in this office, and 


do not imitate our master, our offence will be heinous in pro- 
portion to the dignity of our office, and our final and everlasting; 
disgrace and ignominy propo'rtionably great ; and we, who in 
honor are exalted up to heaven, shall be cast down proportion- 
ably low in hell. 

Let us further consider, that our following the example 
of Christ in the work of the ministry, is the way to enjoy the 
sensible joyful presence of Christ with us. The disciples had 
the comfort of Christ's presence and conversation by follow- 
ing him, and going where he went. When we cease to fol- 
low him, he will go from us, and we shall soon lose sight of 

Our being conformed to Christ's example, will also be the 
way for us to be conformed to him, and partake with him in 
his privileges : It is the way for us to have his joy fulfilled in 
us. Chiist, in doing the work to which the father appointed 
him, obtained a glorious victory over his enemies, and having 
spoiled princip. lities and powers, triumphed over them. If 
we imitate his example, it will be the way for us in like man- 
ner to conquer principalities and powers, yea, to be much 
more than conquerors : It will be the way for us always to 
triumph in Christ Jesus. It will be the way for us to obtain 
success in our ministry, and actually to be made the happy in- 
struments of the eternal salvation of souls. Christ has not 
only told us, but shewn us the way to success in our business, 
and the way to victory over all that oppose us in it. And out 
imitating Christ in our ministry, will be the way for us to be 
partakers with him in his glory ; the way for us in like man- 
ner to be approved, and openly honored and rewarded by God ;, 
the way to be brought to sit with Christ on his throne, as he 
is set down with the Father on his throne. And as Christ is 
now exalted to shine as the bright luminary and gloiy of heav- 
en, so our following his example, will be the way for us to be 
exalted, to shine with him, " as the stars for ever and ever."' 
Daniel xii. 3. And as Christ in heaven rejoices in his success- 
and will receive his church, presented to him without spot, as 
his everlasting- crown ; so our imitating Christ in our work- 


will be the way to partake with Christ in this joy, and have the 
souls whose salvation we are the instruments of, to be our 
crown of rejoicing forever. Thus Christ and we shall rejoice 
together in that world of glory and joy where there is no more 
labor or sorrow. And we must enter into that joy and glory, 
in the way of following Christ in our work ; there is no other 
way for ministers to enter there. 

And that we may thus follow Christ's example, and be par- 
takers with him in his glory, we had need to be much in pray- 
er for his Spirit. Christ himself, though the eternal Son of 
God, obtained the Holy Spirit for himself in a way of prayer, 
Luke iii. 21, 22. "Jesus being baptized, and praying, the 
heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended like a dove 
upon him." If we have the spirit of Christ dwelling in us, 
we shall have Christ himself thereby living in us, and then we 
shall undoubtedly live like him If that fountain of light 
dwells richly in us, we shall shine like him, and so shall be 
burning and shining lights. 

That we may be and behave like Christ, we should earnest- 
ly seek much acquaintance with him, and much love to him, 
and be much in secret converse with him. It is natural, and 
as it were necessary for us to imitate those whom we are much 
acquainted and conversant with, and have a strong affec- 
tion for. 

And in order to our imitating Christ in the work of the 
ministry, in any tolerable degree, we had need not to have our 
hearts overcharged, and time filled up with worldly affections, 
cares and pursuits. The duties of a minister that have been 
recommended, are absolutely inconsitent with a mind much 
taken up with worldly profit, glory, amusements and enter- 

And another thing that is of very great importance, in or- 
der to our doing the work that Christ did, is, that we take 
heed that the religion we promote, be that same religion Unit 
Christ taught and promoted, and not any of its counterfeits and 
delusive appearances, or anything substituted by the subtle de- 
vices of Satan, or vain imaginations of men in lieu of it. If 


we are zealous and very diligent to promote religion, but do 
not take good care to distinguish true from false religion, we 
shall be in danger of doing much more hurt than good, with 
all our zeal and activity. 

I come now to the 
IV. and last thing at first proposed, viz. to shew what im- 
provement should be made of what has been said, by the peo- 
ple of this church and congregation, who are now about sol- 
emnly to commit their souls to the charge of him whom they 
have chosen to be their pastor, and who is now about to be set 
apart to that office. 

And you, my brethren, as all of you have immortal 
souls to save, if you have considered the things that have been 
spoken, cannot but be sensible, that it not only greatly concerns 
your elect pastor to take heed how he behaves himself, in his 
great work, wherein he is to act as a coworker with Christ for 
your salvation ; but that it infinitely concerns you how you 
receive him, and behave towards him. Seeing that it is for 
your eternal saivation.that he is appointed to watch and labor; 
and seeing his business is to do the work of Christ for you, it 
is natural and easy to infer, that your reception and entertain- 
ment of him should in some respect imitate the church's re- 
ception of Jesus Christ. Gal. iv. 14. " My temptation which 
was in my flesh, ye despised not, nor rejected ; but received 
me as an angel of < '.o<\- even as Christ Jesus." Christ, in the 
text, commands those whom he sends, to follow his example, 
and then in the 20th verse following, he directs those to 
whom he sends them, how to treat them. « Verily, verily, I 
say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth 
me ; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me." 
Seeing the work of your minister is in some respects the 
same vita the work of Christ, and he is to be appointed and 
devoted to do this work for your souls in particular, surely you 
should esteem him very highly in love for his work's sake, 
and do all that is in your power to help him, and put him under 
the best advantages to imitate his great master in this work, 
Vol. VIII. S A 


to give himself wholly to his work, as Christ did during the^ 
time of his ministry, and to be successful in his work. And ; 
as it was observed before, that it is impossible that ministers 
should in any tolerable degree imitate the example of Christ 
in their work, if their minds are overcharged with worldly 
cares and concerns, you ought so >o provide for him and sup- 
port him, that he shall have no need to entangle himself with 
these things ; otherwise you will not only bring a great tempt- 
ation upon him, which will vastly tend to hinder him in the 
work of Christ among you, but will for the sake of sparing a 
little of your worldly substance to yourselves, foolishly and 
miserably starve your own souls, and the souls of your child- 
ren, and will but cheat yourselves ; for you will not be in the 
way to prosper either in your spiritual or temporal concerns. 
The way to have your houses filled with plenty, is to " honor 
the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all 
your increase," Prov. iii. 9. 

And as it is your duty and interest well to support your 
minister, so it concerns you to pray earnestly for him, and 
each one to do what in him lies in all respects to encourage 
and help him, and strengthen his hands, by attending diligent- 
ly to his ministry, receiving the truth in love, treating him 
with the honor due to a messenger of C hrist, carefully avoid- 
ing all contention with him, and one with another. And take 
heed in particular, that you do not forsake him to follow those, 
who under pretence of extraordinary puvity, are doubtless 
doing the devil's work, in separating themselves, and endeav 
oring to draw off others from the ministers and churches in 
the lind in general. 

If you think I have spoken something freely to you, I 
hope it will be considered, that this is probably the last time 
you will ever hear me speak from the pulpit, and that I shall 
never see you again till we see one another in the invisible 
eternal world, where these things will open to us all in their 
just importance. 

And now nothing is left but to express my sincerest wish- 
esand prayers, that the God ol all grace would be with jo% 


>and your elect pastor, and that he would give you in him a 
<great and long lasting blessing, that you may enjoy much of 
the presence of Christ with you in him ; that in him may be 
made up the great loss you sustained by the death of your 
former faithful and eminent pastor, whose praise was in all 
the churches ; and that you may receive him as you ought to 
receive a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, and may be a great 
comfort to him, and may receive great spiritual and eternal 
benefit by his means ; and that you may be each other*? 
crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. 


The Sorrows of the Bereaved spread before Jesus, 

MATTHEW xiv. 12. 


V*, CONCERNING these words I would observe 
three things. 

1. On what occasion that was, that we have an account of 
in the text.. ..It was on occasion of the death of John the Bap- 
tist, who was a person whose business it had been to preach 
the gospel of the kingdom of God. He was a minister of 
Jesus Christ, and had been improved to do great service, was 
an instrument of much good to many in Judea and Jerusalem, 
in his life time. He was cruelly murthered by Herod, at the 
instigation of Herodias, having exposed himself to her mal- 
ice by faithfully reproving them for their incestuous wicked- 

* Preached at Hatfield, September 2, 1741, being the day of the inter- 
ment of the Rev. Mr. William Williams. 


2. We may observe who the persons were spoken of in 
the text ; they were those that had been the disciples of John 
the Baptist, that had sat at his feet to hear him preach the 
gospel, that were his constant followers, that were with him 
as th se that received great benefit by his ministry, and were 
as it were his children. 

3. We may observe their behavior on this occasion, con- 
sisting in two things. 

(1.) That whereby they shewed their regard to there- 
mains of the deceased, They took n/i the body and buried it ; 
It had been used in a barbarous manner by others, that had al- 
so been his hearers, and were under special obligations to have 
treated him with honor. They cruelly murdered him, by 
severing his head from his body ; and his head was carried 
in a charger to Herodias, that she, instead of paying that res- 
pect that was due to the remains of so venerable a person, 
might have her malice and cruelty gratified by such a specta- 
cle, and that she might thence take occasion to insult the 
dead. While that part of the dead body was thus used by 
Herodias, his disciples out of respect and honor to their mas- 
ter and teacher, decently interred the rest. 

2. That which they did, consequent on this, for God's glo- 
ry and their own good, They went a.?d told J,<sus. Him they 
knew to be one that their master John, while he lived, had 
testified a great regard to. Jesus was he whose forerunner 
Jol n v as ; whom he had preached, and of whom he had said, 
"B;nold the i.amb of God that taketh away the sin of the 
wo. Id ;" And, " This is he, of whom I said, after me cometh 
one that is preferred before me ;" and whom he saw, and 
bare record that \hi is Ike Sq^q/Gocf, And probably they 
knew that hrist was one that had put great honor upon John 
their teacher in his life time. For he, tho gh he was the 
Son of God, and John's Maker and Saviour, yet came to him. 
to be baptized oi him, and had said of him, that " among 
those that were born of women, there had not risen a greater 
than John the Baptist. 


It was now a sorrowful time with John's disciples ; when 
they were thus bereaved of him whose teachings they had sat 
under. And the manner of his death was doubtless very 
grievous to them. They were like a company of sorrowful, 
distressed, bereaved children ; and what do they do in their 
sorrows, but go to Jesus with their complaint. The first 
thing that they do, after paying proper regards to the remains 
of their dear master, is to go to Christ, to spread tneir case 
before him, seeking comfort and help from him. Thus they 
sought their own benefit. 

And probably one end of their immediately going and tell- 
ing Jesus was, that he being informed of it, might conduct 
himself accordingly, as his wisdom should direct, for the in- 
terest of his own kingdom. When so great a person as John 
the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, was thus martyred, it 
was a great event, in which the common cause, in which both. 
Christ and he were engaged, was greatly concerned : It was 
therefore fit that he that was at the head of the whole affair 
should be informed of it, for his future conduct in the affairs 
of his kingdom. And accordingly we find that Jesus seems 
immediately to be influenced in his conduct by these tidings ; 
as you may see in the next verse : " When Jesus heard of it, 
he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart." Thus 
John's disciples sought God's glory. 

The observation from the words that I would make the 
subject of my discourse at this lime is this : 

When any one is taken away by death, that has been eminent 
in the work of the gospel ministry, such as are thereby bereaved, 
should go and spread their calamity before Jesus. 

Though in handling this subject I might particularly 
speak to several propositions that are contained in this obser- 
vation, and many things might profitably be insisted on under 
it, if there were room for it within the compass of a sermon ; 
yet 1 shall only give the reasons of the doctrine, and then hasten 
to the application. 


The following reasons may be given why, in case of such, 
an awful dispensation of Providence, those that are concerned 
in it, and bereaved by it, should go and spread their sorrows- 
before Jesus. 

1. Christ is one that is ready to pity the afflicted. It is 
natural for persons that are bereaved of any that are dear to 
them, and for all under deep sorrow, to seek some that they 
may declare and lay open their griefs to, that they have good 
reason to think Mill pity them, and have a fellow feeling with 
them of their distress. The heart that is fuil of grief wants 
■vent, and desires to pour out its complaint ; but it seeks a 
compassionate friend to pour it out before. 

Christ is such an one, above all others. He of old, before 
his incarnation, manifested himself full of compassion towards 
his people ; for that is Jesus that is spoken of, Isai. lxiii. 9, 
" In all their affliction he was afflicted ; and the angel of his 
presence saved them ; in his love and in his pity he redeemed 
them ; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of 
old." And when he was upon earth in his state of humilia- 
tion, he was the most wonderful instance of a tender, pitiful, 
compassionate spirit that ever appeared in the world. How 
©ften are we told of his having compassion on one and anoth- 
er ? So Matth. xv. 32. " Then Jesus called his disciples, and 
said unto them, I have compassion on the multitude." So he 
had compassion on the man possessed with devils, Mark v. 
19. " Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things 
the Lord hath done to thee, and hath had compassion on thee." 
So we read of his pitying the mother, that was bereaved of hoi- 
son, Luke vii. 13. There we have an account, when Christ 
went into the city of Nain, and met the people carrying out a 
dead man, the only spn of his mother, that was a widow, that 
when he saw her he had compassion on her. So when the 
two blind men that sat by the way side, cried to Jesus, us he 
passed by, saying, " Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son o: 
David," we read that Jesus had compassion on them, Matth. 
x-x. 39. So we read of his being moved with compassion 


Matth. xiv. 14. " And Jesus went forth, and saw a great null 
titnde, and when he saw them he was moved with compas- 
sion." His speeches to his disciples were lull of compassion ; 
especially those that he uttered a little before his death, of 
which we haye an account in the 13th, 14th, 1 5th, and loth 
chapters of John. His miracles were almost universally 
deeds of pity to persons under affliction. 

And seeing such a pitiful heart appeared in him on ail oc- 
casions, no wonder that John's disciples, when bereaved of 
their dear guide and teacher, and their hearts were full ot 
sorrow, came to him for pily : Which likewise induced Mary 
and Martha to come and fall down, pouring out their tears at 
Jesus' feet, when their dear brother Lazarus was dead : Oth- 
er Jews came to comfort them, before Jesus came, whom 
they little regarded, but when they heard that Jesus was come* 
they soon go and spread their sorrows before him ; they were 
assured that he would pity them ; and their expectation was 
not frustrated ; for he was most, tenderly affected and moved 
at their tears : We are told that on that occasion he groaned 
in spirit and was troubled, John xi. S3, And when he came 
to the grave, it is observed, and a special note seems to be set 
upon it, that he wept, verse 35. 

He was one that wept with those that wept : And indeed 
it was mere pity that brought him into the world, and induced 
him not only to shed teais but to shed his blood : He poured 
out his blood as water on the earth, out of compassion to the 
poor, miserable children of men. And when do we ever 
read of any one person coming to him y lien on earth, with an 
heavy heart, or under any kind of sorrow or distress for pity 
or help, but what met with a kind and compassionate recep- 
tion ? 

And he has the same compassion now lie is ascended into 
,;'/,>-': There is still the same encouragement for bereaved 
ones to go and spread their sorrows before him. 

Afflicted persons love to speak of their sorrows to them 
that have had experience of affliction, and know what sorrow 
is : But there is none on earth or in heaven thaj ever hud so 


much experience of sorrow as Christ : Therefore he knows 
how to pity the sorrowful, and especially may we be confident 
that he is ready to pity those that are bereaved of a faithful 
minister, because such a bereavement is a calamity that con- 
cerns the souls of men ; and Christ hath especially shewn his 
pity to mens' souls ; for it was chiefly for them that he died : 
To relieye the miseries of the soul especially, is it that he 
hath provided ; and it was from pity to the souls of men that 
he made that provision for them that he hath done, in appoint- 
ing such an order of men as gospel ministers, and in send- 
ing them forth to preach the gospel : It was because he had 
compassion on men's souls, that he hath appointed ministers 
to watch for souls. 

2. Christ has fiurchased all that persons need under such a 
bereavement. He has purchased all that miserable men stand 
in need of under all their calamities, and comfort under every 
sort of affliction ; artd therefore his invitation to those that 
" Labor and are heavy laden," to come to him for rest, may be 
understood in the most extensive sense, to extend to those 
that labor under any kind of burden of sin or sorrow, and to all 
that are " heavy laden" with either natural or moral evil : He 
has purchased divine cordials and supports for those hearts 
that are ready to sink : He has purchased all needed comfort 
and help for the widow and the fatherless : He has purchased 
a sanctified improvement and fruit of affliction, for all such as 
come to him, and spread their sorrows before him. He has 
purchased those things that are sufficient to make up their 
loss, that are bereaved of a great blessing in an eminent minis- 
ter of the gospel : It is he that has purchased those divine 
blessings, those influences and fruits of the Spirit of God, that 
the work of the ministry is appointed to be the means of 
Faithful ministers themselves are the fruits of his purchase ; 
and he has purchased all those gifts and graces whereby min- 
isters do become faithful, eminent and successful ; and there- 
fore when he "ascended up on high, he received such gifts 
for men ;" Eph. iv. 8. &c So that he has purchased all thai 

Vol. VIII. £B 


is needful to make up for the loss that is sustained by hf> 
death of an eminent minister. 

3. Christ is able to afford all that help that is nc.^eu in> 
such a case. His power and his wisdom are as :\ifhae;ii as 
his purpose, and answerable to his compassions. By the 
bowels of his mercies, the love and tenderness of las heart, 
he is disposed to help those that are in afiliction ; and ' -d- 
ity is answerable to his disposition. He is able to fijj$porj ae 
heart under the heaviest sorrows, and to give light in the t- 

est darkness : He can divide the thickest cloud with beu m >f 
heavenly light and comfort : He is one that gives songs i 
night, and turns the shadow of death into the morning J s 

power to make up the loss of those that are bereaved 3 

death of the most eminent minister. His own prese:- 
the bereaved is sufficient ; if the great Shepherd and B 
of souls be present, how much more is this than enougu 
supply the want of any under Shepherd? And then he : 
able to furnish others with like gifts and graces for that work* 
Persons under sorrowful bereavements- are ready to go 
and lay open their sorrows to them that they, think will be 
ready to pity them, though they know they can but pity them, 
and cannot help them. How much more is here in such a 
case to induce us to go to Jesus, who is not only so ready to 
pity, but so able to help, able abundantly more than to 211 up 
the breach, and able to turn all our sorrows into joy ? 

4. The consideration of the special office of Christ, and 
the work that he has undertaken for his people, should en- 
gage them to go and spread such a calamity, as the bereave- 
ment of a faithful and eminent minister, before him : For he 
is the Head of the body^ the great Shepherd of the sheep, and 
lord of the harvest ; that has undertaken the care of the 
whole church, and has the absolute government of it in his 
hands, and the supreme disposal and management of all ec- 
clesiastical affairs, to v. horn belongs the care of the universal 
diurch, and every part of it, with respect to its supply with 
eucfa guides, officers and ordinances, as it stands in need of. 
In case of bereavement of an eminent minister, it was he that 


sent forth such a minister, appointed him his charge and fur- 
nished him for his work, continued and assisted him in it, and 
in his own time removed him ; and it is he that, in such a 
ease, by his office, has the care of filling up the vacancy, arid 
famishing, establishing and assisting successors, and supply- 
ing all the wants of bereaved churches. It is surely therefore 
suitable and natural to go to him in such a case, and spread 
such a calamity before him. 


I come now to apply what has been said to the sorrowful 
occasion of our being thus assembled at this time, even the 
death of that aged servant of God, who has long been emi- 
nent in the work of the gospel ministry in this place. 

There are many that may well look on themselves as near- 
ly concerned in this awful Providence, and sharers in the be- 
reavement ; all of whom should be directed by this doctrine, 
to go and spread their affliction before Jesus, that compassion- 
ate, allsufficient head of the church, and Savior of the body, 
that merciful and faithful High Priest, that knows how to pity 
the afflicted. 

And particularly it now becomes and concerns you, that 
belong to this church and congregation, that are bereaved of 
your aged and eminent pastor and father, that has so long 
been a great blessing to you, now to go and tell Jesus. 

The disciples of John, spoken of in the text, were those 
that were ordinarily under his instruction, and were his con- 
stant hearers, as it has been with you with respect to your aged 
pastor, that is now taken from you. Therefore be exhorted 
to do as they did. Do not think that you have finished your 
duty, when you have taken up his body and buried it, and have 
shewn respect to his memory and remains at his funeral : 
This is the least part of your duty : That which mainly con- 
cerns you under this awful Providence, is between Christ and 
votir own souls. 


God has now taken away from you an able and faithful min- 
ister of the New Testament, one that has long been a father 
to you, and a father in our Israel, a person of uncommon 
natural abilities, and distinguished learning, a great divine, of 
very comprehensive knowledge, and of a solid, accurate judg- 
ment Judiciousness and wisdom were eminently his charac- 
ter. He was one of eminent gifts, qualifying him for all pai'ts 
6f the work of the ministry ; and there appeared a savor 
of holiness, in his exercise of those gifts in public and pri- 
vate : So that he improved them as a servant of Christ, and a 
man of God. He was not negligent of the talents which his 
lord had committed to him ; you need not be told with what 
constant diligence he improved them, how studious at home, 
and how laborious in his public work : He ever devoted him- 
self to the work to which he was called : The ministry which 
he had received of the Lord, he took heed to fulfil, and pur- 
sued it with a constant and stedfast, even mind, through all its 

\ou know his manner of addressing heaven in his public 
prayers with you and for you, with what sanctity, humility, 
faith and fervency, he seemed to apply himself to the Father 
of lights, from time to time, when he stood in this desk as your 
mouth to God, and interceding for you, pleading with God 
through the grace and merits of a glorious Mediator. And 
you know his manner of applying himself to you, when he 
came to you, from time to time, in the name of the Lord. 

In his public ministry, he mainly insisted on the most 
weighty and important things of religion ; he was eminently 
an evangelical preacher ; evangelical subjects seemed to be 
his delight : Christ was the great subject of his preaching ; 
and he much insisted on those things that did nearly concern 
the essence and power of religion ; and had a peculiar facul- 
ty of judiciously and clearly handling the doctrines he insisted 
on, and treating properly whatever subject he took in hand ; 
and of selecting the most weighty arguments and motives to 
enforce and set home those things that concern Christian ex- 
perience and practice. His subjects were always weighty, 


and his manner of treating them peculiarly happy, shewing 
the strength and accuracy of his judgment, and ever breath* 
ing forth the spirit of piety, and a deep sense of the things 
he delivered, on his heart. His sermons were none of them 
mean, but were ail solid, wise compositions. His words were 
none of them vain, but all were weighty. 

And you need not be told with what weight the welfare of 
your souls seemed to lie on his heart, and how he instructed, 
and reproved, and warned, and exhorted you, with all authori- 
ty, and with a fatherly tender concern for your eternal good. 
And with what wisdom he presided in the house of God, and 
guided its affairs ; and also counselled and directed you in 
private, under your particular soul exercises and difficulties. 
You know how he has brought you up (for most of you have 
been trained up from your childhood under his ministry) with 
what authority, and with what judgment, prudence and steadi- 
ness, he has conducted you, as well as meekness p nd gentle- 
ness. You know his manner of going in and out among you, 
how exemplary his walk and conversation has been, with what 
gravity, judgment and savor of holiness, he has walked before 
you, as a man of God. 

You have enjoyed great advantages for your souls' good, 
under his ministry : That you had such a minister was your 
privilege and your honor ; he has been an ornament to the 
town of HATKiELn ; and his presence and conversation 
amongst you has been both profitable and pleasant ; for 
though it was such as did peculiarly command awe and res- 
pect, yet it was at the same time, humble and condescend- 
ing: It tended both to instruct and entertain those that he 
conversed with : As a wise man, and endued with knowledge, 
he shewed out of good conversation his works with meekness 
of wisdom. 

But now it hath pleased an holy God to take him away 
from you : You will see his face and hear his voice no more, 
in the land of the living : You will no more have the comfort 
md benefits of his presence with you, and the exercise of his 
ministry among you* 


Therefore now go to Jesus, the Supreme Head of the 
thurch, and Bishop, of touts. Your pastor is dead, and will 
not live again till the last day : But Christ, the chief Shepherd, 
though he tudi dead, is novo alive I And behold he lives for ever- 
more. He ever lives to provide for his church, and to guide 
and feed his flock. Go to that Jesus whom your deceased 
pastor preached, and to whom he earnestly invited you while 
he lived, and give thanks for the many blessings you enjoyed 
in him. Remember how you have received and heard, and 
/.old fast that no man take your crown;* and go and liumble 
yourselves also before him, that you made no better improve- 
ment of the ministry of your pastor while he lived ; and beg 
'jf him a sanctified improvement of his awful hand in taking 
him away, and that he would help you to remember his warn- 
ings and counsels that you too much slighted wniist you had 
them, lest those warnings and counsels cry against you, and 
rise up in judgment against you another day, lest you see 
your pastor, that so affectionately and earnestly, and so often, 
and for so long a time continued to exhort you, and earnestly 
prayed for you, while he lived, rising up itl judgment, and 
bearing testimony against you, declaring how constantly and 
laboriously he intreated and called upon you, and how obsti- 
nately some of you slighted his counsels ; and lest you see 
him sitting with Christ to judge and condemn you, and ador- 
ing his awful justice on your aggravated punishment. 

All you that have an interest in Jesus, now go to him on 
this occasion, and tell him of your bereavement, and beg of 
him that he would not depart from you ; but that he would 
make up his loss in his own immediate presence. Go to him 
for your surviving pastor, that he would be with him, and fur- 
nish him more and more for, and assist him in, that great 
work, that is now wholly devolved upon him, and make him 
also a burning and shining light amongst you ; and that you 

Particularly, remember liis late affectionate farewell at the tahle of the 
Lord, not expecting such another opportunity will) you. Exhorting you to 
follow pace and holiness, and to edify one another. 


may have of the presence and blessing of Jesus with you> 
and him. 

And now, since I am called to speak in the name of Christ 
»n this solemn occasion, I would apply myself to the near re- 
lations of the deceased, who are especially to be looked upon, 
as the bereaved. 

God in his holy Providence has taken from you one that 
has been a great blessing, comfort and honor to you, and de- 
servedly very dear to you, and honored of you. The doctrine 
we are upon directs you what to do in your present circum- 
stances, viz. To go to Jesus, to go and spread your affliction 
before an allsufncient Redeemer. 

And particularly I would apply myself to the honored rei- 
lict, who stood in the nearest relation of any to the deceased* 
whom God by this awful Providence has made a sorrowful 
widow. Suffer me, honored madam, in your great affliction, 
to exhibit to you a compassionate Redeemer. God has now 
taken from you that servant of his, that was the nearest- and 
best friend you had in this world, that was your wise and pru- 
dent guide, your affectionate and pleasant companion, who 
was so great a blessing while he lived, to you and your family, 
and under Christ, was so much the comfort and support of 
your life. You see, madam, where your resort must be i 
Your earthly friends can condole your loss, but cannot mako 
it up to you ; Ave must all confess ourselves to be but miser ■ 
able comforters : But you may go and tell Jesus, and there 
you may have both support and reparation : His love and hi* 
presence is far beyond that of the nearest and most affection- 
ate earthly friend. Now you are bereaved of your earthly 
consort, you may go to a spiritual husband, and seek his com- 
passion and his company : He is the fountain of ali that wis- 
dom and prudence, that piety, that tender affection and faith- 
ful care, that you enjoyed in your departed consort ; in him is 
an infinite fountain of all these things, and of all good ; i;\ 
him you may have light in your darkness, comfort in your sor- 
row, and fullness of joy and glory in another world, in an ev- 
erlasting union, with your dear, deceased relative 3 in the crlori- 


ous presence of the same Redeemer, in whose presence is , '« 
ness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for c 

This doctrine also directs the bereaved, afflicted children 
that are with hearts full of grief, now mourning over a deaf 
departed father, where to go and what to do. Ycu will no 
longer have your father's wisdom to guide you, his tender 
love to comfort and delight you, and his affectionate care to 
guard you and assist you, and his pious and judicious counsels 
to direct you, and his holy examples set before you, and his 
fervent, humble, believing prayers with you and for you. 

But in the blessed Jesus, your father's Lord and Redeem- 
er, you may have much more, than all those things : Your 
father's virtues that made him so great a blessing to you, 
were but the image of what is in Chi'ist. 

Therefore go to him in your mourning : Go and tell Je- 
sus ; tell a compassionate Saviour what has befallen you. 
Heretofore you have had an earthly father to go te, whose 
hcart was full of tenderness to you ; but the heart of his Re- 
deemer is much more tender ; his wisdom and his love is in- 
finitely beyond that of any earthly parent. Go to him, and 
then you will surely find comfort. Go to him and you will 
find that, though you are bereaved, yet you are not left in any 
want, you will find that all your wants are supplied, and all 
your loss made up, and much more than so. 

But here I would particularly, in humility address myself. 
to my honored fathers, the sons of the deceased, that are im- 
proved in the same great work of the gospel ministry, or ir. 

other public business for the service of their generation 

Honored sirs, though it might be more proper for me to 
come to you for instruction and counsel, than to take it upon 
me to exhort you, yet as I am one that ought to have a fellow- 
feeling of your affliction, and to look on myself as a sharer in 
if, and as you have desired me to speak in the name of Chrisr, 
on this occasion, suffer me to mention to you that source of 
comfort, that infinite fountain of good, one of the larger 
streams of which, has Tailed by the death of an earthly father, 


even the blessed Jesus. You will doubtless acknowledge it 
as an instance of his great goodness to you, that you have been 
the sons of such a Father ; being sensible that your reputa- 
tion and serviceableness in your generation, have been, under 
Christ, very much owing to the great advantages you have 
been under, by his instructions, counsels and education. And 
is it not fit that children that have learned of such a faithful 
servant of Christ, and been brought up at his feet, now he is 
dead, should do as John the Baptist's disciples did, go and tell 
Jesus ? From whom you may receive comfort under your be- 
reavement, and from whom you may receive more of that 
Spirit that dwelt in him, and greater degrees of those virtues 
he derived from Christ, to cause you to shine brighter, and to 
make you still greater blessings in your generation. Now 
death has veiled and hid from sight, a Star that shone with re- 
fected light, our text and doctrine leads you to the Sun, that 
hath light in himself and shines with infinite, unfailing bright- 
ness. And while you go to Jesus, honored Sirs, on this occa- 
sion for yourselves, I humbly desire your requests to him for 
us the surviving ministers of this county, that he would be 
with us, now he has taken from us him that was as a father 
amongst us. 

Inextly would address myself to the surviving pastor of this 
church. We may well look upon you, Reverend Sir, as one 
in an especial manner concerned in this awful Providence, 
and that has a large share in the bereavement. You doubt- 
less are sensible what reason you have to bless God for the ad- 
vantage you have had, in serving in the gospel of Christ, so 
long as you have done, with the venerable person deceased, as 
a son with a father, enjoying the benefit of his instructions, 
counsels and example. And particularly, you will often re- 
collect the affectionate and fatherly counsels he gave you, to 
diligence and faithfulness in your Lord's work, with encour- 
agement of his protection and assistance to carry you through 
all difficulties, the last. evening of his life. And now, dear 
Sir, God has taken him from you, as he took Elijah from Eli- 
sha, and as he took John the Baptist, the New Testament 

Vol. VIII. 3 C 


Elijah, from his disciples : Therefore now you are directed; 
what to do, viz. %o and tetiJbsua ; as those disciples did. You 
have now a great work devolved upon you ; you have him nc 
more, who, while he lived, was as a father to you, to guide 
and assist you, and take the burthen of your great work from 
you. Therefore yo:i have no where else to go, but to your 
great Lord and Master, that has sent you to labor in that part, 
of his vineyard, where his aged, and now departed servant- 
was employed, to seek strength and wisdom, and divine influ- 
ence and assistance from him, and a double portion of that 
Spirit, that dwelt in your predecessor. 

And lastly, The text I am upon may be of direction to us 
the surviving ministers of this county, what to do on this sor- 
row ful occasion. God has now taken our father and master 
from our head : He has removed him that has heretofore 
under Christ, been very much our strength that we have been 
wont to resort to in difficult cases for instruction and direction^ 
and that used to be amongst us from time to time, in our as- 
sociations, and that we were wont to behold as the head and 
ornament of those conventions.* Where else can we now go 
but to Jesus, the ever living Head of the whole church, and 
Lord of the whole harvest, the fountain of light, our great 
Lord and Master that sends all gospel ministers, and on whom 
they universally depend. Let this awful Providence bring us 
to look to Christ, to seek more of his presence with us ; and 
that he would preside as Head in our associations: Let it 
bring us to a more immediate and entire dependence upon 
him, for instruction and direction, in all our difficulties. 

Let us on this occasion consider what God has done in 
this county of late years : It was not many years ago that the 
county was filled with aged ministers, that were our fathers : 

* Verv worthy of our not : ce was that his farewell message sent us by one 
of our beloved brethren (the Rev. Mr. Williams of Springfield; after he re- 
turned from <uch a Mee ing, where he also pieached...." I do not expect," 
said he, "to be with you another Association Meeting : But I give you thi: 
advice, Love your Master, love your work, ard love one another." 
try -• tpretsive of his own spirit ? Like John the beloved disci 



Hut our fathers, where are t hey ?....What a great alteration is 
made in a little time, in the churches in this part of the land 1* 
How frequent of late have been the warnings of this kind that 
God has given us to prepare to give up our account 1 Let us 
go to Jesus, and seek grace of him that we may be faithful 
while we live, and that he would assist us in our great work, 
that when w e also are called hence, we may give u/i our ac- 
count with joy and not with grief, and that hereafter we may- 
meet those our fathers, that have gone before us in the faith- 
ful labors of the gospel, and that we may shine forth with 
them, as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for- 
ever and ever. 

*The Rev. Mr. Stoddard, Mr. Taylor Mr. Williams of Deerfield, Mr. 
Brewer, and lately have died, Mr. Bull of Westf.eld, and Mr. Devotion of 


True Saints, when absent from the Body, are pres- 
ent with the Lord. 



1 HE apostle in this place is giving a reason why- 
he went on with so much boldness and immoveable stedfast- 
ness, through such labors, sufferings, and dangers of his life, 
in the service of his Lord ; for which his enemies, the false 
teachers among the Corinthians, sometimes reproached him 
as being beside himself, and driven on by a kind of madness. 
In the latter part of the preceding chapter, the apostle in- 

* Preached on the day of the funeral of the Rev. Mr. David Brainerd, 
Missionary to the Indians, from the Honorable Society in Scotland for the 
propagation of Christian Knowledge, and Pastor of a Church of Christian In- 
dians in Newjertty; w»o died at Northampton, in New England, October 
9, 1747, in the 30th year of his age, and wjt interred on the 12th following. 


forms the Christian Corinthians, that the reason why he did 
thus, was, that he firrrly believed the promises C\c.i Christ 
had made to his faithful servants of a glorious future eternal 
reward, and knew that these present afflictions were light, 
and but for a moment, in comparison of that far more exceed- 
ing and eternal weight of glory. The same discourse is con- 
tinued in this chapter ; wherein the apostle further insists on 
the reason he had given of his constancy in suffering, and ex- 
posing himself to death in the work of the ministry, even the 
more happy state he expected after death. And this is the 
subject of my text ; wherein may be observed, 

1. The great future privilege, which the apostle hoped 
for; that of being present with Christ. The words, in the 
original, properly signify dwelling with Christ, as in the same 
country or city, or making an home with Christ. 

2. When the apostle looked for this privilege, viz. when 
he should be absent from the body. Not to wait fur it till 
the resurrection, when soul and body should be united again. 
He signifies the same thing in his epistle to the Philippians, 
chap. i. 22, 23. " But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of 
my labor. Yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am in 
a strait between two ; having a desire to depart, and to be 
with Christ." 

3. The value the apostle set on this "privilege. It was 
such, that for the sake of it, he chose to be absent from the 
body. lie was willing rather, or (as the word properly signi- 
fies) it were more pleasing to him, to part with the present 
life, and all its enjoyments, and be possessed of this great ben- 
efit, than to continue here. 

4. The present benefit, which the apostle had by his faith 
and hope of this future privilege, and of his great value for it, 
viz. that hence he received courage, assurance, and constancy 
of mind, agreeable to the proper import of the word that is 
rendered, we are confident. The apostle is now giving a 
reason of that fortitude and immoveable stability of mind, 
with which he went through those extreme labors, hardships 
and dangers, which he mentions in this discourse ; so that, in 


the midst of all, he did not faint, was not discouraged, but had 
constant light, and inward support, strength, and comfort in 
the midst of all : Agreeable to the 10th verse of the forego- 
ing chapter, " For which cause, we faint not ; but though 
our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day 
by day." And the same is expressed more particularly in 
the 8th, 9th, and 10th verses of that chapter, " We are troub- 
led on every side, yet not distressed ; we are perplexed, but 
not in despair ; persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but 
not destroyed ; always bearing about in tlie body, the dying of 
the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made 
manifest in our mortal flesh." And in ihe next chapter, \er. 
4.... 10, " In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of 
God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in dis- 
tresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in 
watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by long- 
suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 
by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of 
righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and 
dishonor, by evil report and good report: As deceivers, and 
yet true ; as unknown, and yet well known ; as dying, and be- 
hold, we live ; as chastened, and not killed ; as sorrowful, yet 
alway rejoicing ; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having 
nothing, and yet possessing all things." 

Among the many useful observations there might be rais- 
ed from the text, I shall at this time only insist on that which 
lies most plainly before us in the words, viz. This, 

The souls of true saints, when they leave their bodies at 
death, go to be with Christ. 

Departed souls of saints go to be with Christ, in the fol- 
lowing respects : 

I. They go to dwell in the same blessed abode with the 
cdoriiied human nature of Christ. 


The human nature of Christ is yet in being. He still con* 
tinues, and will continue to ail eternity, to be both God and 
ftjan. His whole human nature remains : Not only his hu- 
man soul, but also his human body. His dead body rose from 
the dead ; and the same that was raised from the dead, is ex- 
alted and glorified at God's right hand ; that which was dead- 
is now alive, and lives for evermore. 

And therefore there is a certain place, a particular part of 
the external creation, to which Christ is gone, and where he 
remains. And this place is that which we call the highest 
heaven, or the heaven of heavens ; a place beyond all the visi- 
ble heavens. Eph iv. 9, 10. " Now that he ascended, what 
is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of 
the earth ? He that descended, is the same also that ascended 
up far above all heavens." This is the same which the apos- 
tle calls the third heaven, 2 Cor. xii. 2, reckoning the aerial 
heaven as the first, the starry heaven as the second, and the 
highest heaven as the third. This is the abode of the holy- 
angels : They are called " the angels of heaven," Matth. xxiv. 
36. " The angels which are in heaven," Mark xiih 32. " The 
angels of God in heaven," Matth. xxii. 30, and Mark xii. 25. 
They are said " always to behold the face of the Father which 
is in heaven," Maith xuii. 10. And they are elsewhere often 
represented as before the throne of God, or surrounding his 
throne in heaven, and sent from thence, and descending from 
thence on messages to this world. And thither it is that the 
souls of departed saints are conducted, when they die. They 
are not reserved in some abode distinct from the highest 
heaven ; a place of rest, which they are kept in, till the day of 
judgment; such as some imagine, which they call the hades 
of the happy : But they go directly to heaven itself. This is 
the saints' home, being their Father's house : They are pil- 
grims and strangers on the earth, and this is the other and 
better country that they are travelling to : Heb. xi. 1 3. ...16, 
This is the city they belong to ; Philip, iii. 20. « Our con- 
versation, or (as the word properly signifies) citizenship, is in 
heaven." Therefore this undoubtedly is the place the apos* 


tie has respect to in my text, when he says, " We are willing 
to forsake our former house, the body, and to dwell in the 
same house, city or country, wherein Christ dwells;" which 
is the proper import of the words of the original. What can 
this house, or city, or country be, but that house, which is 
elsewhere spoken of, as their proper home, and their Father's 
house, and the city and country to which they properly belong, 
and whither they are travelling all the while they continue in 
this world, and the house, city, and country where we know 
the human nature of Christ is ? This is the saints' rest ; here 
their hearts are while they live ; and here their treasure is : 
<s The inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,and that fadeth 
not away, that is designed for them, is reserved in heaven ;" 
1 Pet. i. 4, and therefore they never can have their proper and 
full rest till they come here. So that undoubtedly their souls, 
when absent from their bodies (when the scriptures represent 
them as in a state of perfect rest) arrive hither. Those two 
saints, that left this world, to go to their rest in another 
world, without dying, viz. Enoch and Elijah, went to heaven. 
Elijah was seen ascending up to heaven, as Christ was. And 
to the same resting place, is there all reason to think, that 
those saints go, that leave the world, to go to their rest, by 
death. Moses, when he died in the top of the Mount, as- 
cended to the same glorious abode with Elias, who ascended 
without dying. They are companions in another world ; as 
they appeared together at Christ's transfiguration. They 
were together at that time with Christ in the Mount, when 
there was a specimen or sample of his glorification in heaven. 
And doubtless they were also together afterwards, with him, 
when he was, actually, fully glorified in heaven. And thither 
undoubtedly it was, that the soul of Stephen ascended, when 
he expired. The circumstances of his death demonstrate it, 
as we have an account of it, Acts vii. 55, &c. " He, being full 
of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw 
the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 
and said, behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of 
Man (i. e. Jesus, in his human nature) standing on th 


hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and 
stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast 
him out of the city, and stoned him. And they stoned Ste- 
phen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my 
spirit." Before his death he had an extraordinary view of the 
glory that his Saviour had received in heaven, not only for 
himself, but for him, and all his faithful followers; that he 
might be encouraged, by the hopes of this glory, cheerfully 
to lay down his life for his sake. Accordingly he dies in the 
hope of this, saying, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." By 
which doubtless he meant, " receive my spirit to be with 
thee, in that glory, wherein I have now seen thee, in heaven, 
at the right hand of God." And thither it was that the soul 
of the penitent thief on the cross ascended. Christ said to 
him, " To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Paradise 
is the same with the third heaven ; as appears by 2 Cor. xii. 
2, 3, 4. There that which is called the third heaven in the 
2d verse, in the 4th verse is called paradise. The departed 
souls of the apostles and prophets are in heaven ; as is mani- 
fest from Rev. xviii. 20. " Rejoice over her, thou heaven, 
and ye holy apostles and prophets." 

The church of God is distinguished in scripture, from 
time to time, into these two parts ; that part of it that is in 
heaven, and that which is in earth ; Eph. iii. 14, 15. " Jesus 
Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is nam- 
ed." Col. i. 20. " And having made peace through the 
blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself, 
by him, I say, whether they be things in eartli or things in 
heaven." Now what things in heaven are they for whom 
peace has been made by the blood of Christ's cross, and who 
have by him been reconciled to God, but the saints in heaven ? 
In like manner we read, Eph. i. 10, of " God's gathering to- 
gether in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, 
and which are on earth, even in him." The spirits of just 
men made perfect are in the same city of the living God, and 
heavenly Jerusalem, with the innumerable company of an- 
gels, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant ; as is man- 
Vol. VIII. 3 D 


ifest by Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24. The church of God is often in ■ 
scripture called by the name Jerusalem ; and the apostle 
speaks of the Jerusalem which is above, or which is in heaven, 
as the mother of us all ; but if no part of the church be in 
heaven, or none but Enoch and Elias, it is not likely that the 
church would be called the Jerusalem which is in heaven. 

II. The squls of true saints, when they leave their bodies 
at death, go to be with Christ, as they go to dwell in the im- 
mediate, full and constant sight or view of him. 

When we are absent from our dear friends, they are out 
of sight ; but when we are with them, we have the opportuni- 
ty and satisfaction of seeing them. So while the saints are 
in the body, and are absent from the Lord, he is in several res- 
pects out of sight, 1 Pet. i. 8. " Whom having not seen, ye 
love : In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing," 
Sec. They have indeed, in this world, a spiritual sight of 
Christ ; but they see through a glass darkly, and with great 
interruption ; but in heaven, they see him face to face, 1 Cor. 
xiii. 12. " The pure in heart are blessed ; for they shall see 
God," Matth. v. 8. Their beatifical vision of God is in Christ, 
who is that brightness or effulgence of God's glory, by which 
his glory shines forth in heaven, to the view of saints and an- 
gels there, as well as here on earth. This is the sun of right- 
eousness, that is not only the light of this world, but is also 
the sun that enlightens the heavenly Jerusalem; by whose 
bright beams it is that the glory of God shines forth there, to 
the enlightening and making happy all the glorious inhabi- 
tants. " The Lamb is the light thereof ; and so the glory of 
God doth lighten it," Rev. xxi. 23. None sees God the Fa- 
ther immediately, who is the King eternal, immortal, invisi- 
ble : Christ is the image of that invisible God, by which he is 
seen by all elect creatures. The only begotten Son that is in 
the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, and manifested 
him. None has ever immediately seen the Father, but the 
Son; and none else sees the Father any other way, than by 
the Son's revealing him. And in heaven, the spirits of just 


men made perfect do see him as he is. They behold his glo- 
ry. They see the glory of his divine nature, consisting in all 
the glory of the godhead, the beauty of all his perfections ; 
his great majesty, almighty power, his infinite wisdom, holi- 
ness, and grace, and they see the beauty of his glorified hu- 
man nature, and the glory which the Father hath given him, 
as Godman and Mediator. For this end, Christ desired that 
his saints might "be with him, that they might behold his glo- 
ry," John xvii. 24. And when the souls of the saints leave 
their bodies, to go to be with Christ, they behold the marvel- 
lous glory of that great work of his, the work of redemption, 
and of the glorious way of salvation by him ; which the an- 
gels desire to look into. They have a most clear view of the 
unfathomable depths of the manifold wisdom and knowledge 
of God ; and the most bright displays of the infinite purity 
and holiness of God, that do appear in that way and work ; 
and see in a imich clearer manner than the saints do here, 
what is the breadth and length, and depth and height of the 
grace and love of Christ, appearing in his redemption. And 
as they see the unspeakable riches and glory of the attribute 
of God's grace, so they most clearly behold and understand 
Christ's eternal and unmeasurable dying love to them in par- 
ticular. And in short, they see every thing in Christ that 
tends to kindle and inflame love, and every thing that tends 
lo gratify love, and every thing that tends to satisfy them : 
And that in the most clear and glorious manner, without any 
darkness or delusion, without any impediment or interruption. 
Now the saints, while in the body, see something of Christ's 
glory and love ; as we, in the dawning of the morning, see 
something of the reflected light of the sun mingled with dark- 
ness ; but when separated from the body, they see their glo- 
rious and loving Redeemer, as we see the sun when risen, 
and shewing his whole disk above the horizon, by his direct 
beams, in a clear hemisphere, and with perfect day. 

III. The souls of true saints, when absent from the body, 
go to be with Jesus Christ, as they are brought into a mosi 


perfect conformity to, and union with him. Their spiritual 
conformity is begun while they are in the body ; here behold- 
ing as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into 
the same image ; but when they come to see him as he is, in 
heaven, then they become like him in another manner. That 
perfect sight will abolish all remains of deformity, disagree- 
ment, and sinful unlikeness ; as all darkness is abolished be- 
fore the full blaze of the sun's meridian light : It is impossi- 
ble that the least degree of obscurity should remain before 
such light ; so it is impossible the least degree of sin and spir- 
itual deformity should remain, in such a view of the spiritual 
beauty and glory of Christ, as the saints enjoy in heaven, when 
they see that sun of righteousness without a cloud, they them- 
selves shine forth as the sun, and shall be as little suns, with- 
out a spot. For then is come the time when Christ presents 
his saints to himself, in glorious beauty ; "not having spot, or 
wrinkle, or any such thing ;" and having holiness without a 
blemish. And then the saints' union with Christ is perfect- 
ed. This also is begun in this world. The relative union is 
both begun and perfected at once, when the soul first closes 
with Christ by faith : The real union, consisting in the union 
of hearts and affections, and in the vital union, is begun in 
this world and perfected in the next. The union of the heart 
of a believer to Christ, is begun when his heart is drawn to 
Christ, by the first discovery of divine excellency, at conver- 
sion ; and consequent on this drawing and closing of his heart 
with Christ, is established a vital union with Christ ; where- 
by the believer becomes a living branch of the true vine, liv- 
ing by a communication of the sap and vital juice of the stock 
and root ; and a member of Christ's mystical body, living by 
a communication of spiritual and vital influences from the 
head, and by a kind of participation of Christ's own life. But 
while the saints a v e in the body, there is much remaining dis- 
tance between Christ and them : There are remainders of 
alienation, and the vital union is very imperfect ; and so con- 
quently is the communication of spiritual life and vital influ- 
ences ; There is much between Christ and believers to keep 


-hem asunder, much indwelling sin, much temptation, a 
world of carnal objects, to keep off the soul from Christ, and 
hinder a perfect coalescence. But when the soul leaves the 
body, all these clogs and hindrances shall be removed, every 
separating wall shall be broken down, and every impediment 
taken out of the way, and all distance shall cease ; the heart 
shall be wholly and perfectly drawn, and most firmly and for 
ever attached and bound to him, by a perfect view of his glo- 
ry. And the vital union shall then be brought to pefecticn ; 
the soul shall live perfectly in and upon Christ, being perfect- 
ly filled with his spirit, and animated by his vital influences ; 
living as it were, only by Christ's life, without any remainder 
of spiritual death, or carnal life. 

IV. Departed souls of saints are with Christ, as they en- 
joy a glorious and immediate intercourse and converse with 

While we are present with our friends, we have opportu- 
nity for that free and immediate conversation with thenij 
which we cannot have in absence from them. And therefore, 
by reason of the vastly more free, perfect, and immediate in- 
tercourse with Christ, which the saints enjoy when absent 
from the body, they are fitly represented as present with him. 

The most intimate intercourse becomes that relation that- 
the saints stand in to Jesus Christ ; and especially becomes 
that most perfect and glorious union they shall be brought in- 
to with him in heaven. They are not merely Christ's ser- 
vants, but his friends. John xv. 15. His brethren and com- 
panions ; Psalm exxii. 8 ; " yea, they are the spouse of 
Christ." They are espoused or betrothed to Christ while in 
the body ; but when they go to heaven, they enter into {he 
king's palace, their mariuge with him is come, and the kin g 
brings them into his chambers indeed. They then eo to 
dwell with Christ constantly, to enjoy the most perfect con- 
verse with him. Christ conversed in the most friendly manner 
with his disciples on earth ; he admitted one of them to lean 
on his bosom : But they are admitted much more fully and 


freely to converse with him in heaven Though Christ be 
there in a state of glorious exaltation, reigning in the majesty 
and glory of the sovereign Lord and God of heaven and earth, 
angels and men ; yet this will not hinder intimacy and free- 
dom of intercourse, but rather promote it. For he is thus ex- 
alted, not only for himself, but for them ; he is instated in this 
glory of head over all things for their sakes, that they might 
be exalted and glorified ; and when they go to heaven where 
he is, they are exalted and glorified with him ; and shall not 
be kept at a more awful distance from Christ, but shall be ad- 
mitted nearer, and to a greater intimacy. For they shall be 
unspeakably more fit for it, and Christ in more fit circumstan- 
ces to bestow on them this blessedness. Their seeing the 
great glory of their friend and Redeemer, will not awe them 
to a distance, and make them afraid of a near approach ; but 
on the contrary, will most powerfully draw them near, and en- 
courage and engage them to holy freedom. For they will 
know that it is he that is their own Redeemer, and beloved 
friend and bridegroom ; the very same that loved them with 
a dying love, and redeemed them to God by his blood ; Matth. 
xiv. 27. " It is I ; be not afraid." Rev. i. 17, 18. " Fear not : 
....I am he that liveth, and was dead." And the nature of this 
glory of Christ that they shall see, will be such as will draw 
and encourage them ; for they will not only see infinite majes- 
ty and greatness, but infinite grace, condescension, and mild- 
ness, and gentleness and sweetness, equal to his majesty. 
For he appears in heaven, not only as " the Lion of the tribe 
of Judah, but as the Lamb, and the Lamb in the midst of the 
throne." Rev. v. 5,6; and this Lamb in the midst of the 
throne shall be their shepherd, to " feed them, and lead them 
to living fountains of water," Rev. vii. 17 ; so that the sight 
*if Christ's great kingly majesty will be no terror to them ; 
but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and 
surprise. When Mary was about to embrace Christ, being 
lull of joy at the sight of him again alive after his crucifixion, 
Christ forbids her to do it for the present ; because he was 
not vet ascended, John xx. 16, 17. "Jesus saith unto hcr ; 


Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni, 
which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, touch me not : 
For I am not yet ascended to my Father : But go to my breth- 
ren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your 
Father, and to my God and your God." As if he had said, 
" This is not the time and place for that freedom your love to 
me desires : That is appointed in heaven after my ascension., 
I am going thither ; and you that are my true disciples, shall, 
as my brethren and companions, soon be there with me in my 
glory. And then there shall be no restraint. That is the 
place appointed for the most perfect expressions of compla- 
cence and endearment, and full enjoyment of mutual love.'* 
And accordingly the souls of departed saints with Christ in 
heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, 
manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that 
have been there from eternity ; and they shall be enabled to 
express their love to him, in an infinitely better manner than. 
ever they could while in the body. Thus they shall eat and 
drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eter- 
nally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild 
and sweet beams of divine love ; eternally receiving that light, 
eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and 
everlastingly reflecting it back again to the fountain of it. 

V. The souls of the saints, when they leave their bodies 
at death, go to be with Christ, as they are received to a glori- 
ous fellowship with Christ in his blessedness. 

As the wife is received to a joint possession of her hus- 
band's estate, and as the wife of a prince partakes with him in 
his princely possessions and honors ; so the church, the 
spouse of Christ, when the marriage comes, and she is receiv- 
ed to dwell with hirn in heaven, shall partake with him in his 
glory. When Christ rose from the dead, and took possession 
of eternal life ; this was not as a private person, but as the 
public head of all his redeemed people. He took possession 
of it for them, as well as for himself ; and " they are quicken- 
edtogether with him, and raised up together." And so when 


he ascended into heaven, and was exalted to great glory their? 
this also was as a public person : He took possession of heav- 
en, not only for himself, but his people, as their forerunner 
and head, that they might ascend also, " and sit together in 
heavenly places with him," Eph. ii. 5, 6. " Christ writes up- 
on them his new name," Rev. iii. 12. i. e. He makes them par- 
takers of his own glory and exaltation in heaven. His new 
name is that new honor and glory that the Father invested him 
with, when he set him on his own right hand : As a prince, 
when he advances any one to new dignity in his kingdom, 
gives him a new title. Christ and his saints shall be glorified 
together, Rom. viii. 17. 

The saints in heaven have communion, or a joint participa- 
tion with Christ in his glory and blessedness in heaven, in the 
following respects more especially. 

1. They partake with him in the ineffable delights he has 
in heaven, in the enjoyment of his Father. 

When Christ ascended into heaven, he Was received to a 
glorious and peculiar joy and blessedness in the njoyment of 
his Father, who, in his passion, hid his face from him ; such 
an enjoyment as became the relation he stood in to the Father, 
and such as was a meet reward for the great and hard service 
he had performed on earth. Then " God shewed him the 
path of life,, and brought him into his presence, where is ful- 
ness of joy, and to sit on his right hand, where there are pleas- 
ures for evermore," as is said of Christ, Psalm xvi. 1 1 . Then 
the Father " made him most blessed for ever : He made him 
exceeding glad with his countenance ;" as in Tsalm xxi. 6. 
The saints, by virtue of their union with Christ, and being his 
members, do, in some sort partake of his childlike relation to 
the Father ; and so are heirs with him of his happiness in the 
enjoyment of his Father; as seems to be intimated by the apos- 
tle, in Gal. iv. 4 7. The spouse of Christ, by virtue of her 

espousals to that only begotten Son of God, is, as it were, «.> 
partaker of his filial relation to God, and becomes the king's 
daughter, Psalm xlv. 13, and so partakes with her divine hus- 
band in his enjoyment of his Father and her Father, his H • 


and her God." A promise of this seems to be implied in. 
those words of Christ to Mary, John xx. 17. Thus Christ's 
faithful servants "enter into the joy of their Lord," Matth xxv. 
21,2"; and k ' Christ's joy remains in them ;" agreeably to 
those words of Christ, John xv. 1 1. Christ from eternity is, as 
it were, in the bosom of the Father, as the object of his infinite 
complacence. In him is the Father's eternal happiness. Be- 
fore the world was, he was with the Father, in the enjoyment 
of his infinite love ; and had infinite delight and blessedness in 
that enjoyment ; as he declares of himself in Prov. viii. 30. 
" Then 1 was by him, as one brought up with him : And I 
was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." And 
when Christ ascended to the Father after his passion, he went 
to him, to the enjoyment of the same glory and blessedness 
in the enjoyment of his love ; agreeably to his prayer the 
evening before his crucifixion, John xvii. 5. " And now, O 
Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory I had 
with thee before the world was." And in the same prayer, he 
manifests it to be his will, that his true disciples shouldbe with 
him in the enjoyment of that joy and glory, which he then 
asked for himself ; verse 13. "That my joy might be fulfil- 
led in themselves ;" verse 22. " And the glory which thou 
g-avest me, I have given them." This glory of Christ, which 
the saints are to enjoy with him, is that which he has in the 
enjoyment of the Father's infinite love to him ; as appears by 
the last words of that prayer of our Lord, verse 26. " That 
the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I 
in them." The love which the Father has to his Son is great 
indeed ; the Deity does, as it were, wholly and entirely flow 
out in a stream of love to Christ ; and the joy and pleasure of 
Christ is proportionably great. This is the stream of Christ's 
delights, the river of his infinite pleasure ; which he will 
make his saints to drink of with him, agreeabiy to Psal. xxxvh 
8, 9. " They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of 
thy house : Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy 
pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life : In thy light 
sbali we see light." The saints shall have pleasure in partak- 
Vol. VIII. 3 E 


ing with Christ in his pleasure, and shall see light in hra- 
light. They shall partake with Christ of the same river of- 
pleasure, shall drink of the same water of life, and of the same- 
new wine in Christ's Father's kingdom ; Matth. xxvi. 29, 
That new wine is especially that joy and happiness that Christ- 
and his true disciples shall partake of together in glory, u hich 
is the purchase of Christ's blood, or the reward of his obedi- 
ence unto death. Christ, at his ascension into heaven, receiv- 
ed everlasting pleasures at his Father's right hand, and in the 
enjoyment of his Father's love, as the reward of his own death, 
or obedience unto death. But the same righteousness is 
reckoned to both head and members ; and both shall have 
fellowship in the same reward, each according to their dis- 
tinct capacity. 

That the saints in heaven have such a communion with 
Christ in his j<,y, and do so partake with him in his own en- 
joyment of the Father, does greatly manifest the transcendent 
excellency of their happiness, and their being admitted to a 
vastly higher privilege in glory than the angels. 

2. The saints in heaven are received to a fellowship or 
participation with Christ in the glory of that dominion to 
which the Father hath exalted him. 

The saints, when they ascend to heaven as Christ ascend- 
ed, and are made to sit together with him in heavenly places, 
and are partakers of the glory of his exaltation, arc exalted to 
reign with him. They are through him made kings and 
priests, and reign with him, and in him, over the same king- 
dom. As the Father hath appointed unto him a kingdom, so 
he has appointed to them. The Father has appointed the Son 
to reign over Ins own kingdom, and the Son appoints his saints 
to reign in his. The Father has given to Christ to sit with 
him on his throne, and Christ gives to the saints to sit with 
him on his throne, agreeably to Christ's promise, Rev. iii. 21* 
Christ, as God's Son, is the heir of his kingdom, and the 
saints are joint heirs with Christ ; which implies, that they 
are heirs of the same inheritance, to possess the same king- 
dom, in and with him, according to their capacity. Christ,-io/ 


his kingdom, reigns over heaven and earth; he is appoint- 
ed the heir of all things ; and so all things are the saints' ; 
• whether Paul, or Apolbs, or Cephas, or the world, or life, 
or death, or things present, or things to come," all are theirs; 
because they are Christ's, and united to him, 1 Cor.iii. 21, 22, 
23. The angels are given to Christ as a part of his domin- 
ion ; they are all given to wait upon him as ministering spir- 
its to him : So also they are all, even the highest and most 
dignified of them, ministering spi-its, to minister to them 
who are the heirs of salvation. They are Christ's angels, and 
they are also their angels. Such is the saints' union with 
Christ, and their interest in him, that what he possesses, they 
possess, in a much more perfect and blessed manner than if 
all things were given to them separately, and by themselves, 
to be disposed of according to their discretion. They are 
now disposed of so as, in every respect, to be most for their 
blessedness, by an infinitely better discretion than their own ; 
and in being disposed of by their head and husband, between 
whom and them there is the most perfect union of hearts, and 
so the most perfect union of wills, and who are most perfectly 
each other's. 

As the glorified spouse of this great King reigns with and 
in him, in his dominion over the universe, so more especially 
does she partake with him in the joy and glory of his reign in 
his kingdom of grace ; which is more peculiarly the king- 
dom that he possesses as head of the church, and is that king- 
dom wherein she is more especially interested. It was espe- 
cially to reign in this kingdom, that God the Father exalted 
him to his throne in heaven : He set his King on his holy hill 
of Zion, especially that he might reign over Zion, or over his 
church, in his kingdom of grace ; and that he might be under 
the best advantages to carry en the designs of his love in this 
lower world. And therefore undoubtedly the saints in heaven 
are partakers with Christ in the joy and glory of the advance- 
ment and prosperity of his kingdom of grace on earth, and 
success of his gospel here, which he looks on as the peculiar 
jlory of his reign. 


The good shepherd rejoices when he finds but one sheep 
that was lost ; and his friends and neighbors in heaven re- 
joice with him on that occasion. That pari of the family that 
is in heaven is surely not unacquainted with the affairs of 
that part of the same family that is on earth. They that are 
with the King and are next to him, the royal family, that 
dwell in his palace, are not kept in ignorance of the affairs of 
his kingdom. The saints in heaven are with the angels, the 
King's ministers, by which he manages the affairs of his king- 
dom, and who are continually ascending and descending from 
heaven to the earth, and one or other of them daily employed 
as ministering spirits to each individual member of the 
church below : Besides the continual ascending of the souls 
of departed saints from all parts of the militant church. On 
these accounts the saints in heaven must needs be under a 
thousand times greater advantage than we here, for a full view 
of the state of the church on earth, and a speedy, direct, and 
certain acquaintance with all its affairs in every part. And 
that which gives them much greater advantage for such an 
acquaintance than the things already mentioned, is their be- 
ing constantly in the immediate presence of Christ, and in the 
enjoyment of the most perfect intercourse with him, who is 
the King who manages all these affairs, and has an absolutely 
perfect knowledge of them. Christ is the head of the v. hole 
glorified assembly ; they are mystically his glorified body : 
And what the head sees, it sees for the information of the 
whole body, according to its capacity : And what the head en- 
joys, is for the joy of the whole body. 

The saints, in leaving this world, and ascending to heaven, 
do not go out of sight of things appertaining to Christ's king- 
dom on earth ; but, on the contrary, they go out of a state of 
obscurity, and ascend above the mists and clouds into the 
clearest light ; to a pinnacle, in the very centre of light, 
where every thing appears in clear view. They have as much 
greater advantage to view the state of Christ's kingdom, and 
the works ol ttie new creation here, than while they were in 
this world, as a man that ascends to the top of an high moun- 


tain has greater advantage to view the face of the earth, than 
he had while he was in a deep valley, or thick forest below, 
surrounded on every side with those things that impeded and 
limited his sight. Nor do they view as indifferent or uncon- 
cerned spectators, any more than Christ himself is an uncon- 
cerned spectator. 

The happiness of the saints in heaven consists very much 
in beholding the glory of God appearing in the work of re- 
demption : For it is by this chiefly that God manifests his glo- 
ry, the glory of his wisdom, holiness, grace, and other per- 
fections, to both saints and angels ; as is apparent by many 
scriptures. And therefore undoubtedly their happiness con- 
sists very much in beholding the progress of this work in its 
application and success, and the steps by which infinite power 
and wisdom bring it to its consummation. And the saints in 
heaven are under unspeakably greater advantage to take the 
pleasure of beholding the progress of this work on earth than 
we are that are here ; as they are under greater advantages to 
see and understand the marvellous steps that Divine Wisdom 
takes in all that is done, and the glorious ends he obtains, the 
opposition Satan makes, and how he is baffled and overthrown. 
They can better see the connexion of one event with another, 
and the beautiful order of all things that come to pass in 
the church in different ages that to us appear like confusion. 
Nor do they only view these things, and rejoice in them, as a 
glorious and beautiful sight, but as persons interested, as 
Christ is interested; as possessing these things in Christ, 
and reigning with him, in this kingdom. Christ's success in 
his work of redemption, In bringing home souls to himself, 
applying his saving benefits by his Spirit, and the advance- 
ment of the kingdom of grace in the world, is the reward es- 
pecially promised to him by his Father in the covenant of re- 
demption, for the hard and difficult service he performed 
while in the form of a servant ; as is manifest by Isai. liii. 
10, 11, 12. But the saints shall be rewarded with him : They 
shall partake with him in the joy of this reward ; for this obe- 
dience that is thus rewarded is reckoned to them as they are 


his members, as was before observed. This was especially 
the joy that was set before Christ, for the sake of which he 
endured the cross and despised the shame. And his joy is 
the joy of all heaven. They that are with him in heaven are 
under much:the greatest advantages to partake with him in 
this joy ; for they have a per feet communion with him through 
■whom, and in fellowship with whom, they enjoy and possess 
their whole inheritance, ail their heavenly happiness ; as 
much as the whole body has ail its pleasure of music by the 
ear, and all the pleasure of its food by the mouth and stomach; 
and all the benefit and refreshment of the air by the lungs. 
The saints while on earth pray and labor for the same thing 
that Christ labored for, viz the advancement of the kingdom 
of God among men, the promoting the prosperity of Zion, 
and flourishing of i eiigion in this world ; and most of them 
have suffered for that end as Christ did, have been made par- 
takers with thtir head in his sufferings, and " filled up (as the 
apostle expresses i') that which is behind of the sufferings of 
Christ:" And therefore they shall partake with him of the 
glory and joy of the end obtained-, Kom. viii. 17. "We are 
joint heirs with Christ ; if so be that we suffer with him, that 
we may be also gloiified together." 2 Tim. ii. 12. "If we 
suffer -with him, we shall also reign with him." Christ, w hen 
his sufferings were past, and he left the earth and ascended 
into heaven, was so far from having done with his kingdom in 
this world, that it was as it were but then begun : And he as- 
cended for that very end, that he migt.t more fully possess 
and enjoy this kingdom, that he might reign in it, and be un- 
der the best advantages for it ; as much as a king ascends a 
throne in order to reign over his peo, le, and receive the hon- 
or and glory of his dominion. No more have the saints done 
with Christ's kingdom on earth, when they leave the earth 
and ascend into heaven. " Christ came (i. e. ascended) with 
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and was 
brought near before him, to the very end, that he might re- 
ceive dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, 
nations and languages, should serve him," Dan. vii. 13, 14. 


Which shall be eminently fulfilled after the ruin of Anti- 
christ, which 1 is especially the time of Christ's kingdom. And. 
the same is the time when M the kingdom, and dominion, and 
greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be 
given to the people of the saints of the Most High God ;" as 
verse 27, in the same chapter. It is because they shall reign 
in and with Christ, the Most High, as seems intimated in the 
words that follow ; " whose kingdom is an everlasting king- 
dom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." This verse 
is true, not only of the saints on earth, but also the saints in 
heaven. Hence the saints in heaven, having respect to tins 
time, do sing, in Rev. v. 10. " We shall reign on the earth.'* 
And agreeably hereto, it is afterwards represented, that when 
the forementioned time comes, the souls of them that in for- 
mer ages had suffered with Christ do reign with Christ ; hav- 
ing as it were given to them new life and joy, in that spiritual 
blessed resurrection, which shall then be of the church of God 
on earth ; and thus it is that it is said, Matth. v. 5. " The meek 
(those that meekly and patiently suffer with Christ, and for 
his sake) shall inherit the earth :" They shall inherit it, and 
reign on earth with Christ. Christ is the heir of the world ; 
and when the appointed time of his kingdom comes, his in- 
heritance shall be given him, and then the meek, who are 
joint heirs, shall inherit the earth. The place in the Old 
Testament whence the words are taken, leads to a true inter- 
pretation of them. Psal.xxxvii.il. "The meek shall in- 
herit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance 
of peace." That there is reference in these latter words, 
" The abundance of peace," to the peace and blessedness of 
the latter days, we may be satisfied by comparing these words 
with Psal. lxxii. 7. " In his days shall be abundance of peace, 
so long as the moon endureth :" And Jer. xxxiii. 6. " I will 
reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth :" Also Isai. 
ii. 4....Micah iv. 3. ...Isai. xi. 6... .9 ; and many other parallel 
places. The saints in heaven will be as much with Christ in 
reigning over the nations, and in the glory of his dominion at 
that time, as they will be with him in the honor of judging 


the world at the last day. That promise of Christ to his dis- 
ciples, Matth. xix. 2b, 2y, seems to have a special respect to 
the former of these. In verse 28, Christ promises to the dis- 
ciples, that hereafter, " when the Son of Man shall sit on the 
throne of his glory, they shall sit on twelve thrones, judging 
the twelve tribes of Israel " The saints in heaven reigning 
on earth in the glorious latter day, is described in language 
accommodated to this promise of Christ, Rev. xx. 4. " And 
I saw thrones, and they sat upon them ; and judgment was 
given them. And they reigned with Christ." And the 
promise in the next verse, in that xixlh of Matthew, seems to 
have its fulfilment at the same time : " And every one that 
hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or fathers, or 
wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive 
an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life ;" i. e. in 
the time when the saints shall inherit the earth and reign on 
earth, the earth, with all its blessings and good things, shall 
be given in great abundance to the church, to be possessed by 
the saints. This shall they receive in this present world, and 
in the time to come everlasting life. The saints in heaven 
shall partake with Christ in the triumph and glory of those 
victories that he shall obtain in that future glorious time, over 
the kings and nations of the world, that are sometimes repre- 
sented by his ruling them with a rod of iron, and dashing 
them in pieces as a potter's vessel. Which doubtless there 
is respect to in Rev. ii. 26, 27. " He that overcometh, and 
keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over 
the nations ; (and he shall rule them with a rod of iron ; as 
the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers) even 
as I received of my Father." And Psal. cxlix. 5, to the end : 
" Let the saints be joyful in glory : Let them sing aloud upon 
their beds (i. e. in their separate state after death ; compare 
Isai. lvii. 1, 2,) Let the high praises of God be in their 
inouth, and a two edged sword in their hand ; to execute ven- 
geance upon the Heathen, and punishments upon the people ; 
to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters, 
of iron, to execute upon them the judgment written: Thif 


honor have all the saints." Accordingly when Christ ap- 
pears riding forth to his victory over Antichrist, Rev. . xix, 
the hosts of heaven appear going forth with him in robes of 
triumph, verse 14. And when Antichrist is destroyed, the in- 
habitants of heaven, and the holy apostles and prophets, are 
called upon to rejoice, chap. :viii. 20. And accordingly the 
whole multitude of the inhabitants of heaven, on that occasion, 
do appear to exult and praise God with exceeding joy ; chap. 

xix. 1 8, and chap xi. 15: And are also represented as 

greatly rejoicing on occasion of the ruin of the heathen em- 
pire, in the days of Constantine ; chap. xii. 10. 

And it is observable all along in the visions of that book, 
the hosts of heaven appear as much concerned and interested 
in the events appertaining to the kingdom of Christ here be- 
low, as the saints on earth. The day of the commencement 
of the church's latter day glory is eminently " the day of 
Christ's espousals ; the day of the gladness of his heart, wh.en, 
as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the biide, so he will- rejoice 
over his church," And then will all heaven exceedingly re- 
joice with him. And therefore they say at that time, Rev. xix. 
T. " Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give glory to him ; for 
the marriage of the Lamb is come." 

Thus Abraham enjoys these things, when they come to 
pass, that were of old promised to him, and that he saw before 
hand, and rejoiced in. He will enjoy the fulfilment of the 
promise of all the families of the earth being blessed in his 
seed, when it shall be accomplished. And all the ancient pa- 
triarchs, who died in faith of promises of glorious things that 
should be accomplished in this world, " who had not received 
the promises, but saw them afar off, and were persuaded of 
them, and embraced them," do actually enjoy them when ful- 
filled. David actually saw and enjoyed the fulfilment of that 
promise, in its due time, which was made to him many hun- 
dred years before, and was all his salvation and all his desire. 
Thus Daniel shall stand in his lot at the end of the days point- 
ed out by his own prophecy. Thus the saints of old that died 
in faith, not having received the promises, are made perfect, 

Vol. VIII. ' 3 F 


and have their faith crowned hy the hetter things accomplish* 
cd in these latter days of the gospel, Heb. xi. 39, 40, which 
they see and enjoy in their time. 

3. The departed souls of saints have fellowship with 
Christ, in his blessed and eternal employment of glorifying 
the Father. 

The happiness of heaven consists not only in contempla- 
tion, and a mere passive enjoyment, but consists very much 
in action. And particularly in actively serving and glorifying 
God. This is expressly mentioned as a great part of the 
blessedness of the saints in their most perfect state, Rev. xxii. 
3. " And there shall be no more curse ; but the throne of 
God and of the Lamb shall be in it ; and his servants shall 
serve him." The angels are as a flame of fire in their ardor 
and activity in God's service : The four animals, Rev. iv. 
(which are generally supposed to signify the angels) are rep- 
resented as continually giving pruise and glory to God, and ar« 
said not to rest day nor night, verse 8. The souls of departed 
saints are, doubtless, become as the angels of God in heaven 
iii this respect. And Jesus Christ is the head of the whole 
glorious assembly ; as in other things appertaining to their 
blessed state, so in this of their praising and glorifying th 3 
Father. When Christ, the night before he was crucified, 
prayed for his exaltation to glory, it was that he might glorify 
the Father; John xvii. 1. "These words spake Jesus, and 
lift up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hoir is come* 
glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." And 
this he doubtless does, now he is in heaven ; not only in ful* 
filling the Father's will, in what he does as head of the church 
and ruler of the universe, but also in leading the heavenly as- 
sembly in their praises. When Christ instituted the Supper, 
and ate and drank with his disciples at his table (giving them 
therein a representation and pledge of their future feasting 
with him, and drinking new wine in his heavenly Father's 
kingdom) he at that time led them in their praises to God, in 
that hymn that they sang. And so doubtless he leads his glc» 
rifled disciples in heaven. David was the sweet psalmist of 1st 


r.iel, and led the great congregation of God's people in their 
songs of praise. Herein, as well as in innumerable other 
things, he was a type of Christ, who is often spoken of in 
Scripture by the name of David. And many of the psalms 
-that David penned, were songs of praise, that he, by the spirit 
of prophecy, uttered in the name of Christ, as head of the 
church, and leading the saints in their praises. Christ in 
heaven leads the glorious assembly in their praises to God, as 
JVIoses did the congregation of Israel at the Red Sea ; which 
is implied in its being said, that " they sing the song of Moses 
and the Lamb," Rev. xv. 2, 3. In Rev. xix. 5. John tells us, 
•that " he heard a voice come out of the throne, saying, Praise 
our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small 
and great." Who can it be that utters this voice out of the 
throne, but the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne, calling 
on the glorious assembly of saints to praise his Father and 
their Father, his God and their God ? And what the conse- 
quence of this voice is, we have an account in the next words ; 
-" And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as 
the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunder- 
ings, saying Alleluia ; for the Lord God omnipotent reign* 


The use that I would make of what has been said on this 
subject is of exhortation. Let us all be exhorted hence 
earnestly to seek after that great privilege that has been spok- 
en of, that when" we are absent from the body, we may be 
present with the Lord." We cannot continue always in these 
-earthly tabernacles : They are very frail, and will soon decay 
and fall ; and are continually liable to be overthrown by innu- 
merable means : Our souls must soon leave them, and go in- 
to the eternal world. O, how infinitely great will the privi- 
lege and happiness of such be, who at that time shall go to be 
-vith Christ in his glory, in the manner that has been repre- 


sented ! The privilege of the twelve disciples was great, in 
being to constantly with Christ as his family, in his state of hu- 
miliation. The privilege of those three dis^ipies was great, 
who were with him indie mount of his transfiguration ; where 
was exhibited to them some little semblance of nis future glo- 
ry in heaven, such as they might behold in the present irail, 
feeble, and sinful stale : They were greatly entertained and 
delighted with what they saw ; and were fcr making taberna- 
cles ro ciweil there, and return no more down the mount. 
And gree-t was the privilege of Moses when he was with 
Christ in Mount Sinai, and besought him to shew him his glo- 
ry, and he saw his back parts as he passed by, and proclaimed 
his name. But is not that privilege infinitely greater, that has 
now been spoken of, the privilege of being with Christ in 
heaven, where he sits on the right hand of God ; in the glory of 
the King and God of sngete, and of the whole universe, shin- 
ing forth as the great »ight, the bright sun of that world of 
glory ; there to dwell in the full, constant, and everlasting 
view of his beauty and brightness ; there most freely and in- 
timately to converse with him, and fully to enjoy his love, as 
his friends and spouse ; there to have fellowship with him in 
the infinite pleasure and joy he has in the enjoyment of his 
Father ; there to sit with him on his throne, and reign with 
him in the possession of all things, and partake with him in the 
joy and glory of his victory over his enemies, and the advance- 
ment of his kingdom in the world, and to join with him hi joy- 
ful songs of praise to his Father and their Father, to his God 
and their God, for ever and ever ? Is not such a privilege 
worth the seeking after ? 

But here, as a special enforcement of this exhortation, I 
would improve that dispensation of God's holy Providence, 
that is the sorrowful occasion of our coming together at this 
time, viz. the death of that eminent servant of Jesus Christ, 
in the work of the gospel ministry, whose funeral is this day 
to be attended ; together with what was observable in him, 
living and dying. 


In this dispensation of Providence, God puts us in mind 
of our mortality, and forewarns us that the time is approach- 
ing when we must be absent from the body, and " must all 
appear (as the apostle observes in the next verse but one to 
my text) before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one 
of us may receive the things done in the body, according to 
what we have done, whether it be good or bad." 

And in him, whose death we are now called to consider 
and improve, we have not only an instance of mortality, but 
an instance of one that, being absent from the body, is present 
with the Lord ; as we have all imaginable reason to conclude. 
And that, whether we consider the nature of the operations 
he was under, about the time whence he dates his conversion, 
or the nature and course of his inward exercises from that 
time forward, or his outward conversation and practice in life, 
or his frame and behavior during the whole of that long space 
wherein he looked death in the face. 

His convictions of sin, preceding his first consolations in 
Christ (as appears by a written account he has left of his in- 
ward exercises and experiences) were exceeding deep and 
thorough: His trouble and exercise of mind, through a 
sense of guilt and misery, very great and long continued, 
but yet sound and solid ; consisting in no unsteady, vio- 
lent and unaccountable hurries and frights, and strange 
pertubations of mind ; but arising from the most serious 
consideration, and proper illumination of the conscience 
to discern and consider the true state of things. And 
the light let into his mind at conversion, and the influences 
and exercises that his mind was subject to at that time, appear 
very agreeable to reason and the gospel of Jesus Christ ; the 
change very great and remarkable, without any appearance of 
strong impressions on the imagination, sudden flights and 
pangs of the affections, and vehement emotions in animal na- 
ture ; but attended with proper intellectual views of the su- 
preme glory of the divine Being, consisting in the infinite dig- 
nity and beauty of the perfections of his nature, and of the 
transcendent excellency of the way of salvation by Christ. 


This was about eight years ago, when he was about twenty- 
one years of age. 

Thus God sanctified and made meet for his use, that ves- 
sel that he intended to make eminently a vessel of honor in 
his house, and which he had made of large capacity, having 
endowed him with very uncommon abilities and gifts of na- 
ture. He was a singular instance of a ready invention, natur- 
al eloquence, easy flowing expression, sprightly apprehension 
quick discerning, and a very strong memory ; and yet of a 
very penetrating genius, close and clear thought, and piercing 
judgment. He had an exact tase : His understanding was 
(if I may so express it) of a quick, strong and distinguishing 

His learning was very considerable : He had a great taste 
for learning ; and applied himself to his studies in so close a 
manner when he was at college, that he much injured his 
health ; and was obliged on that account for a while to leave 
the college, throw by his studies, and return home. He was 
esteemed one that excelled in learning in that society. 

He had an extraordinary knowledge of men, as well as 
things. Had a great insight into human nature, and excelled 
most that ever I knew in a communicative faculty : He had a 
peculiar talent at accommodating himself to the capacities, 
tempera and circumstances, of those that he would instruct or 

He had -extraordinary gifts for the pulpit : I never had 
opportunity to hear him preach, but have often heard him 
pray : And 1 think his manner of addressing himself to God, 
and expressing himself before him, in that duty, almost inim- 
itable ; such (so far as I may judge) as I have very rarely 
known equalled. He expressed himself with that exact pro- 
priety and pertinency, in such significant, weighty, pungent 
expressions ; with that decent appearance of sincerity, rev- 
erence, and solemnity, and great distance from all affectation, 
as forgetting the presence of men, and as being in the imme- 
diate presence of a great and holy God, that I have scarcely 
ever known paralleled. And his manner of preaching, by 


-frhat I have often heard of it from good judges, was no less 
excellent ; being clear and instructive, natural, nervous, 
forcible, and moving, and very searching and convincing. 
He nauseated an affected noisiness, and violent boisterousness 
in the pulpit ; and yet much disrelished a flat cold delivery, 
when the subject of discourse, and matter delivered, requir- 
ed affection and earnestness. 

Not only had he excellent talents for the study and the 
pulpit, but also for conversation. He was of a sociable dispo- 
sition ; and was remarkably free, entertaining, and profitable* 
in his ordinary discourse : And had much of a faculty of dis- 
puting, defending truth and confuting error. 

As he excelled in his judgment and knowledge of things 
in general, so especially in divinity. He was truly, for one of 
his standing, an extraordinary divine. But above all, in mat- 
ters relating to experimental religion. In this, I know I 
have the concurring opinion of some that have had a name 
for persons of the best judgment. And according to what 
ability I have to judge of things of this nature, and according 
to' my opportunities, which of late have been very great, I 
never knew his equal, of his age and standing, for clear, accu- 
rate notions of the nature and essence of true religion, and its 
distinctions from its various false appearances ; which I sup» 
pose to be owing to these three things; meeting together in 
him, the strength of his natural genius, and the great oppor- 
tunities he had of observation of others, in various parts, both 
white people and Indians ; and his own great experience. 

His experiences of the hoiy influences of God's Spirit 
were not only great at his first conversion, but they were so,. 
In a cominued course, from that time forward ; as appears by 
a record, or private journal, he kept of his daily inward exer- 
cises, from the time of his conversion, until he was disabled 
by the failing of his strength, a few days before his death. 
The change which he looked upon as his conversion, was not 
only a great change of the present views, affections, and frame 
of his mind ; but was evidently the beginning of that work of 
God on his heart, which God carried on, in a very wonderful 


manner, from that time to his dying day. He greatly abhor- 
red the way of such, as live on their first work, as though they 
had now got through their work, and are thenceforward, by 
degrees, settled in a cold, lifeless, negligent, worldly frame ; 
he had an ill opinion of such persons' religion.* 

Oh that the things that were seen and heard in this extra- 
ordinary person, his holiness, heavenlyness, labor and selfdeni- 
al in life, his so remarkable devoting himself and his all, in 
heart and practice, to the glory of God, and the wonderful 
frame of mind manifested, in so stedfast a manner, under the 
expectation of death, and the pains and agonies that brought 
it on, may excite in us all, both ministers and people, a due 
sense of the greatness of the work we have to do in the world, 
the excellency and amiableness of thorough religion in expe- 
rience and practice, and the blessedness of the end of such, 
■whose death finishes such a life, and the infinite value of their 
eternal reward, when absent from the body and present with 
the Lord ; and efT dually stir us up to endeavors that in the 
•way of such an holy life, we may at last come to so blessed an 
end Amen. 

* We have omitted a few pages which follow here of this discourse, 
because what the author commtinirat.es, respecting Mr Brainerd, is to be 
found almost in the same words in the Memoirs ot his life, and in his Re- 
flections upon it, which he afterwards published, and which the reader will 
find in the third volume of this work. 


God's awful Judgment in the breaking and wither- 
ing of the Strong Rods of Community. 

EZEKIEL xix. 12. 


IN order to a right understanding and improving 
these words, these four things must be observed and under- 
stood concerning them. 

1. Who she is that is here represented as having had 
strong rods, viz. the Jewish community, who here, as often 
elsewhere, is called the people's mother. She is here com- 
pared to a vine planted in a very fruitful soil, verse 10. The 
Jewish church and state is often elsewhere compared to a 
vine; as Psalm lxxx. 8, 8cc. Isai. v. 2. Jer. ii. 21. Ezek. 
xv. and chapter xvii. 6. 

* Preached at Northampton on the Lord's day, June 26, 1748, on the 
death of the Hon. John Stoddard, Esq often a member of his Majesty's 
council, for many years chief justice of the court of Common pleas for the 
county of Hampshire, judge of the probate of wills, and chief col nel of the 
legiment, &c. who died at Boston. June 19, 1748, in the 67th year of his age. 
Vol. VIII. 3 G 


2. What is meant by her strong rods, viz. her wise j 

and well qualified magistrates or rulers. That the rulers or 
magistrates are intended is manifest by verse 11. « And she 
had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bear rule. 5 * 
And by rods that were strong, must be meant such rulers as 
were well qualified for magistracy, such as had great abilities 
and other qualifications fitting them for the business of rule. 
They were wont to choose a rod or staff of the strongest and 
hardest sort of wood that could be found, for the mace or 
sceptre of a prince ; such an one only being counted fit fen 
such an use ; and this generally was overlaid with gold. 

It is Very remarkable that such a strong rod should grow 
out of a weak vine ; but so it had been in Israel, through 
God's extraordinary blessing, in times past. Though the na- 
tion is spoken of here, and frequently elsewhere, as weak and 
helpless in itself, and entirely dependent as a vine, that is the 
weakest of all trees, that cannot support itself by its own 
strength, and never stands but as it leans on, or hangs by some- 
thing else that is stronger than itself ; yet God had caused 
many.of her sons to be strong rods, fit for sceptres ; hehad 
raised up in Israel many able and excellent princes and mag- 
istrates in days past, that had done worthily in their day. 

3. It should be understood and observed what is meant by 
these strong rods being broken and withered, viz.. these able 
and excellent rulers being removed by death : Man's dying is, 
often compared in scripture to the withering of the growth of 
the earth. 

4. It should be observed after what manner the breaking 
and withering of these strong rods is here spoken of, viz. as a 
great and awful calamity, that God had brought upon that peo- 
ple : It is spoken of as one of the chief effects of God's fury 
and dreadful displeasure against them : " But she was pluck- 
ed up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east 
wind dried up her fruit ; her strong rods were broken and 
withered, the fire hath consumed them." The great bene- 
fits she enjoyed while her strong rods remained, arc repre- 
vented in the preceding verse : " And she had strong rods. 


for the sceptres of them that bear rule, and her stature was 
^exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her 
-height with the multitude of her branches." And the terri- 
ble calamities that attended the breaking and withering of her 
-strong rods, are represented in the two verses next following 
•the text : " And now she is planted in the wilderness, in adry 
and thirsty ground. And fire is gone out of a rod of her 
branches, which hath devoured her fruit. And in the conclu- 
sion in the next words, is very emphatically declared the wor- 
thiness of such a dispensation to be greatly lamented ; " So 
that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule : This is a 
lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation." 

That which I therefore observe from the words of the 
text, to be the subject of discourse at this time, is this, 

When God by death removes from a people those in place 
of public authority and rale that have been as strong rods, it 
is an awful judgment of God on that people, and worthy of 
great lamentation. 

■In discoursing on this proposition, I would, 

I. Shew what kind of rulers may fitly be called strong 

II. Shew why the removal of such rulers from a people, 
by death, is to be looked upon as an awful judgment of God on 
that people, and is greatly to be lamented. 

I. I would observe what qualifications of those who are in 
public authority and rule may properly give them the denorn^ 
ination of strong rods. 

1. One qualification of rulers whence they may properly 
be denominated strong rods, is great ability for the manage- 
ment of public affairs. When they that stand in place of pub- 
lic authority are men of great natural abilities, when they are 
men of uncommon strength of reason and largeness of under- 
standing ; especially when they have remarkably a genius for 
government, a peculiar turn of mind fitting them to gain an 


extraordinary understanding in things of that nature, giving 
ability, in an especial manner, for insight into the mystcies 
of government, and discerning those things wherein the pub- 
lic welfare or calamity consists, and the proper means to avoid 
the one and promote the Other ; an exttaordmary talent at 
distinguishing what is light and just, from that vhicnis 
■wrong and unequal and <o see through the false colors with 
which injustice is often disguised, and unravel '.he ia^^ i ,e 
arguments and cunning Bopbistiy that is often made use of to 
defend iniquity ; and when they have not only great natural 
abilities in tiiese respects, but whteu their abilities and talents 
have been improved by stud\ , learning, obsei ration and expe- 
rience ; and when by these means they have obtained great 
actual knowledge ; when they have acquired great skill in 
public -affairs, and things requisite to be knov n, in order lo 
their wise, prudent, and effectual management; when they 
have obtained a great understanding of men and things, a great 
knowledge of human nature, and of the way of accommodat- 
ing themselves to it, so as most effectually to influence it to 
wise purposes ; when they have obtained a very extensive 
knowledge of men with whom tbey are concerned in the r.tan- 
agement of public affairs, either those that have a joint con- 
cern in government, or those that are to be governed ; and 
when they ha\e also obtained a h ;, foil and particular under- 
standing of the state and circumstances of the country or peo- 
ple that they have the care of, and know well their laws and 
cons* itution, and what their circumstances require ; and like- 
wise have a great knowledge of the people of neighbor na- 
tions, states, or provinces, with whem they have occasion to 
be concerned in the management of public affairs committed 
to them ; these things all contribute to the rendering those 
that are in authority fit to be denominated strong rods. 

2. When they have not only great understandings but 
largeness of heart, and a greatness and nobleness of disposition, 
this is another qualification that belongs'to the character of a 
strong rod. 


Those that are by divine Providence set in place of public 
authority and rule, are called " gods, and sons of the Most 
High," Psalm Ixxxii. 6. And therefore it is peculiarly unbe- 
coming them to be of a mean spirit, a disposition that will ad- 
mit of their doing those things that are sordid and vile ; as 
when they are persons of a narrow, private spirit, that may be 
found in little tricks and intrigues to promote their private in- 
terest, will shamefully defile their hands, to gain a few pounds, 
are not ashamed to nip and bite others, grind the faces of the 
poor, and screw upon their neighbors ; and will take advan- 
tage of their authority or commission to line their own pock- 
ets with what is fraudulently taken or withheld from others. 
When a man in authority is of such a mean spirit, it weakens 
his authority, and makes him justly contemptible in the eyes 
of men, and is utterly inconsistent with his being a strong 

But on the contrary, it greatly establishes his authority, and 
causes others to stand in awe of him, when they see him to be 
a man of greatness of mind, one that abhors those things that 
are mean and sordid, and not capable of a compliance with 
them ; one that is of a public spirit, and not of a private nar- 
row disposition ; a man of honor, and not a man of mean ar- 
tifice and clandestine management, for filthy lucre, and one 
that abhors trifling and impertinence, or to waste away his 
time, that should be spent in the service of God, his king, or 
his country, in vain amusements and diversions, and in the 
pursuit of the gratifications of sensual appetites ; as God 
charges the rulers in Israel, that pretended to be their great 
and mighty men, with being mighty to drink wine, and men 
of strength tu mingle strong drink. There does not seem to 
be any reference to their being men of strong heads, and able 
to bear a great deal of strong drink, as some have supposed : 
There is a severe sarcasm in the words ; for the prophet is 
speaking of the great men, princes, and judges in Israel (as 
appears by the verse next following) which should be mighty 
men, strong rods, men of eminent qualifications, excelling in 
nobleness of spirit, of glorious strength and fortitude of mind; 


"but instead of that, they were mighty or eminent for nothing' 
: but gluttony ^ncl drunkenness. 

o. When those that ure in authority are endowed with 
-much of a spirit of government, this is another thing that en- 
tities them to the denomination of s<.rong rods. When they 
not only are men of great understanding and wisdom in affairs 
that appertain to government, but have also a peculiar talent 
at using their knowledge] and exerting themselves in this 
great and important business, according to their great under- 
standing in it ; when they are men of eminent fortitude, and 
are not afraid of the i tees of men, are not afraid to do the part 
that properly belongs to them as rulers, though they meet 
"with great opposition, and the spirits of men are greatly irri- 
tated by it ; When they have a spirit of resolution and activity, 
so as to keep the wheels of government in proper motion, and 
to cause judgment and justice to run down as a mighty stream ; 
when they have not only a gveat knowlege of government, and 
the things that belong to it in the theory, but it is, as it were, 
natural to them to apply the various powers and faculties with 
which God has endowed them, and the knowledge they have 
obtained by study ant! observation, to that business, so as to 
perform it most advantageously and effectually. 

4. Stability and firmness ol integrity, .fidelity, and piety, in 
the exercise of authority, is another thing that greatly contrib- 
utes to, and is very essential in the character of a strong rod. 

When he that is in authority is not only a man of strong 
reason and great discerning to know what is just, but is a man 
of strict integrity anu righteousness, is firm and immoveable 
in the execution of justice and judgment ; and when he is not 
only a man of great ability to bear down vice and immorality, 
but has a disposition agreeable to such ability ; is one that has 
a strong aversion to wickedness, and is disposed to use the 
power God has put into his hands to suppress it ; and is one 
that not only opposes vice by his authority, but by his exam- 
ple ; when he is one of inflexibly fidelity, will be faithful to 
God whose minister he is, to his people for good, is immove- 
able in his regard to his supreme authority, his commands and 


his glory ; and will be faithful to his king and country ; wilfe 
not be induced by the many temptations that attend the busi- 
ness of men in public authority, basely to betray his trust ; 
will not consent to do what he thinks not to be for the public 
good, for his own gain or advancement, or any private inter- 
est ; is one that is well principled, and is firm in acting agree- 
ably to his principles, and will not be prevailed with to do oth- 
erwise through fear or favor, to follow a multitude, or to main- 
tain his interest in any on whom he depends for the honor oc 
profit of his place, whether it be prince or people : and is al« 
so one of that strength of mind, whereby he rules his own spir- 
it. These tnings do very eminently contribute to a ruler's ti- 
tle to the denomination of a strong rod. 

5. And lastly, It also contributes to that strength of a 
man in authority by which he may be denominated a strong 
rod, when he is in such circumstances as give him advantage 
for the exercise of his strength, for the public good ; as his 
being a person of honorable descent, uf a distinguished educa- 
tion, his being a man of estate, one that is advanced in years.?, 
one that has long been in authority, so that it is become, as it 
were, natural for the people to pay him deference, to rever- 
ence him, to be influenced and governed by him, and submit 
to his authority ; his being extensively known, and much hon- 
ored and regarded abroad ; his being one of a good presence?- 
majesty of countenance, decency of behavior, becoming one in 
authority ; of forcible speech, Sec. These things add to hia 
strength, and increase his ability and advantage to serve his 
generation in the place of a ruler, and therefore in some re-- 
spect, serve to render Mm one that is the more fitly and em-: 
inentiy called a strong rod. 

I now proceed, 
II. To shew that when such strong rods are broken ana' 
withered by death, it is an awful judgment of God on the peo- 
ple that are deprived of them, and worthy of great lamen- 


And that on two accounts, 

1 . By reason of the many positive benefits and blessings to 
a people that such rulers are the instruments of. 

Almost all the prosperity of a public society and c'vil com- 
munity does, under God, depend on their rulers. They are 
like the main springs or wheels in a machine, that keep ev- 
ery part in its due motion, and are in the body politic, as the 
vitals in the body natural, and as the pillars and foundation in 
a building. Civil rulers are called " the foundations of the 
earth." Psalm lxxxii. 5, and xi. 3. 

The prosperity of a people depends more on their rulers 
than is commonly imagined. As they have the public socie- 
ty under their care and power, so they have advantage to pro- 
mote the public interest every way ; and if they are such ru- 
lers as have been spoken of, they are some of the greatest bless- 
ings to the public. Their influence has a tendency to pro- 
mote their wealth, and cause their temporal possessions and 
blessings to abound : And to promote virtue amongst them, 
and so to unite them one to another in peace and mutual be- 
nevolence, and make them happy in society, each one the in- 
strument of his neighbor's quietness, comfort, and prosperity; 
and by these means to advance their reputation and honor in 
the world ; and which is much more, to promote their spirit- 
ual and eternal happiness. Therefore, the wise man says, 
Eccles. x. 17. " Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is 
the son of nobles." 

We have a remarkable instance and evidence of the happy 
and great influence of such a strong rod as has been described, 
to promote the universal prosperity of a people, in the history 
of the reign of Solomon, though many of the people were un- 
easy under his government, and thought him too rigorous in 
his administration : See 1 Kings, xii. 4. ." Judah and Israel 
dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, 
from Dan even to Bcersheba, all the days of Solomon," 1 
Kings iv 25. " And he made silver to be among them as 
stones for abundance," chap. x. 27. " And Judah and Israel 
were many, eating and drinking and making merry." The 


queen of Sheba admired, and was greatly affected with the 
happiness of the people, under the government of such a 
strong rod, 1 Kings, x. 8, 9. Says she, " Happy are thy men, 
happy are these thy servants which stand continually before 
thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God 
which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel ; 
because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he 
thee king, to do judgment and justice." 

The flourishing state of the kingdom of Judah, while 
they had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, is 
taken notice of in our context ; " her stature was exalted 
among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height 
with the multitude of her branches." 

Such rulers are eminently the ministers of God to his peo- 
ple for good : They are great gifts of the Most High to a 
people, and blessed tokens of his favor, and vehicles of his 
goodness to them, and therein images of his own Son, the 
grand medium of all God's goodness to fallen mankind ; and 
therefore, all of them are called, sons of the Most High. All 
civil rulers, if they are as they ought to be, such strong rods 
as have been described, will be like the Son of the Most High, 
vehicles of good to mankind, and like him, will be as the 
light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning 
without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth, 
by clear shining after rain. And therefore, when a people 
are bereaved of them, they sustain an unspeakable loss, and 
are the subjects of a judgment of God that is greatly to be la- 

2. On account of the great calamities such rulers are a 
defence from. Innumerable are the grievous and fatal ca- 
lamities which public societies are exposed to in this evil 
world, which they can have no defence from without order 
and authority. If a people are without government, they are 
like a city broken down and without walls, encompassed on 
every side by enemies, and become unavoidably subject to all 
manner of confusion and misery. 

Vol. VIII. 3 H 


Government is necessary to defend communities from 
miseries from within themselves ; from the prevalence of ir.<- 
testine discord, mutual injustice, and violence ; the membci ? 
of the society continually making a prey one of another, with- 
out any defence one from another. Rulers are the heads of 
union in public societies, th it, hold the parts together ; with- 
out which nothing else is to be expected, than that the mem- 
bers of the society will be continually divided against them- 
selves, every one acting the part of an enemy to his neighbor, 
everyone's hand against every man, and every man*;, hand 
against him ; going on In remediless and endless broils and 
jarring, until the society be utterly dissolved and broken in 
pieces, and life itself, in the neighborhood of our fellow crea- 
tures, becomes miserable and intolerable-. 

We may see the need of government in societies by what 
is visible in families, those lesser societies, of which all public 
societies are constituted. How miserable would these little 
societies be, if all were left to themselves, without any au- 
thority or superiority in one above another, or any head of un- 
ion and influence among them ? We may be convinced by 
what we see of the lamentable consequences of the want of -a 
proper exercise of authority and maintenance of government 
in families that yet are not absolutely without all authority. 
No less need is there of government in public societies, but 
much morej as they are larger. A very few may possibly, 
without any government, act by concert, so as to concur m 
what shall be for the welfare of the whole ; but this is not to 
be expected among a multitude, constituted of many thou- 
sands, of a great variety of tempers and different interests. 

As government is absolutely necessary, so there is a ne- 
cessity of strong rods in order to it : The business being such, 
as requires persons so qualified ; no other being sufficient 
for, or well capable of the government of public societies:. 
And therefore, those public societies are miserable, that have 
not such strong rods for sceptres to rule, Eccles. x. 16. " V.'.c 
to thee, O land, when thy king is a child-" 


'As government, and strong rods for the exercise of it, are 
accessary to preserve public societies from dreadful and fatal 
calamities arising from among themselves ; so no less requi- 
site are they to defend the community from foreign enemies, 
As they are like the pillars of a building, so they are also like 
the walls and bulwarks of a city : They are under God the 
Ea.un strength of a people in the time of war, and the chief 
instruments of their preservation, safety,, and rest. This is 
signified in a very lively manner in the words that are used by 
the Jewish community in her lamentations, to express the ex- 
pectations she had from her princes. Lam. iv. 20. " The 
breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in 
their pits, of whom we said, under his shadow we shall live 
among the Heathen." In this respect also such strong rods 
are sons of the Most High, and images or resemblances of 
the Son of God, viz. as they are their saviours from their ene- 
mies ; as the judges that God raised up of old in Israel are 
called, JNehem. ix. 27. " Therefore thou deliveredst them in- 
to the hand of their enemies, who vexed them : And in the 
time of their trouble when they cried unto thee, thou hcardst 
them from heaven ; and according to thy manifold mercies, 
thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand 
of their enemies. 

Thus both the prosperity and safety of a people under 
God, depends on such rulers as are strong rods. While they 
enjoy such blessings, they are wont to be like a vine planted 
in a fruitful soil, with her stature exalted among the thick 
branches, appearing in her height with the multitude of her 
branches ; but when they have no strong rod to be a sceptre 
to rule, they are like a vine planted in a wilderness that is ex- 
posed to be plucked up, and cast down to the ground, to have 
her fruit dried up with the east wind, and to have fire coming 
out of her own branches to devour her fruit. 

On these accounts, when a people's strong rods are brok- 
en and withered, it is an awful judgment of God on that peo- 
ple, and worthy of great lamentation : As when king Josiah, 
(who was doubtless one of the strong rods referred to in the 


text) was dead, the people made great lamentation for him. 
2 Chron. xxxv. 24, 25. " And they brought him to Jerusa=> 
lem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of 
his fathers : And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Jo- 
siuh. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, and all the singing 
men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lament- 
ations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel : 
And behold, they are written in the Lamentations." 


I come now to apply these things to our own case, under 
the late awful frown of Divine Providence upon us, in re- 
moving by death that honorable person in public rule and 
authority, an inhabitant of this town, and belonging to this 
congregation and church, who died at Boston the last Lord's 

He was eminently a strong rod in the forementioned res- 
pects. As to his natural abilities, strength of reason, great- 
ness and clearness of discerning, and dtpth of penetration, he 
was one of the first rank : It may be doubted whether he has 
left his superior in these respects in these parts of the world. 
He was a man of a truly great genius, and his genius was pe- 
culiarly fitted for the understanding and managing of public 

And as his natural capacity was great, so was the knowl- 
edge that he had acquired, his understanding being greatly 
improved by close application of mind to those things he was 
called to be concerned in, and by a very exact observation of 
them, and long experience in them. He had indeed a great 
insight into the nature of public societies, the mysteries of 
government, and the affairs of peace and war : He had a dis- 
cerning that very few have of the things wherein the public 
weal consists, and what those things are that do expose pub- 
lic societies, and of the proper means to avoid the latter and 


promote the former. He was quick in his discerning, in that 
in most cases, especially such as belonged to his proper busi- 
ness, he at first sight would see further than most men when 
they had done their best ; but yet he had a wonderful faculty 
of improving his own thoughts by meditation, and currying 
his views a greater and greater length by long and close appli- 
cation of mind. He had an extraordinary ability to distin- 
guish right and wrong, in the midst of intricacies and cir- 
cumstances that tended to perplex and darken the case : He 
was able to weigh things, as it were, in a balance, and to dis- 
tinguish those things that were solid and v* eighty from those 
that had only a fair shew, without substance, which he evi- 
dently discovered in his accurate, clear, and plain way of stat- 
ing and committing causes to a jury, from the bench (as by 
others hath been observed) he wonderfully distinguished truth 
from falsehood, and the most labored cases seemed always to 
lie clear in his mind, his ideas properly ranged. ...and he had a 
talent of communicating them to every one's understanding, 
beyond almost any one, and if any were misguided, it was not 
because truth and falsehood, right and wrong, were not well 

He was probably one of the ablest politicians that ever 
New England bred : He had a very uncommon insight into 
human nature, and a marvellous ability to penetrate into the 
particular tempers and dispositions of such as he had to deal 
with, and to discern the fittest way of treating them, so as 
most effectually to influence them to any good and wise pur- 

And never perhaps was there a person that had a more 
extensive and thorough knowledge of the state of this land, 
and its public affairs, and of persons that were jointly con- 
cerned with him in them : He knew this people, and their 
circumstances, and what their circumstances required : He 
discerned the diseases of this body, and what were the proper 
remedies, as an able and masterly physician. He had a great 
acquaintance with the neighboring colonies, and also the 
neighbor nations on this continent, with whom we are con- 


oerned in our public affairs : He had a far greater knowledge 
than any other person in the land, of the several nations of 
Indians in these northern parts of America, their tempers, 
manners, and the proper way of treating them, and was more 
extensively known by them than any other person in the 
country: Aid no other person in authority in this province 
had such an acquaintance with the people ana country of 
Canada, the land of our enemies, as he. 

He was exceeding far from a disposition and forwardness 
to intermeddle with other people's business; but as to what 
belonged to the offices he sustained, and the important affairs 
that he had the care of, he had a great understanding of what 
belonged to them. I have often been surprised at the length 
of his reach, and what I h-ive seen of his ability to foresee and 
determine the consequences of things, even at a great dis- 
tance, and quite beyond the sight of other men. He was not 
wavering and unsteady in his opinion : His manner was never 
t© pass a judgment rashly, but he was wont first thoroughly to 
deliberate and weigh an affair ; and in this, notwithstanding 
liis great abilities, he was glad to improve by the help of con- 
versation and discourse with others (and often spake of the 
great advantage he found by it) but when, on mature consid- 
eration, he had settled his judgment, he was not easily turned 
from it by false colors, and plausible pretences and appear- 

And besides his knowledge of things belonging to his 
particular calling as a ruler, he had also a great degree of un- 
derstanding in things belonging to his general calling as a 
Christian : Hd was no inconsiderable divine : He was a wise 
casuist, as I know by the great help I have found from time 
to time by his judgment and advice in cases of conscience, 
wherein I hmv* consulted him : And indeed 1 scarce knew 
the divine that I ever found more able to help and enlighten 
the mind in such cases than he. And he had no small de- 
gree of knowledge in things pertaining to experimental relig- 
ion ; but was wont to discourse on such subjects, not only 


with accurate doctrinal distinctions, but as one intimately and 
feelingly acquainted with these things. 

He was not only great in speculative knowledge, but his 
knowledge was practical ; such as tended to a wise conduct 
in the affairs, business, and duties of life; so as properly to 
have the denomination of wisdom, and so as properly and em- 
inently to invest him with the character of a wise man. And 
he was not only eminently wise and prudent in his own con- 
duct, but was one of the ablest and wisest counsellors of oth- 
ers in any difficult affair. 

The greatness and honorableness of his disposition was 
answerable to the largeness of his understanding : He was 
naturally of a great mind : In this respect he was truly the 
son of nobles. He greatly abhorred things which were mean 
and sordid, and seemed to be incapable of a compliance with 
them. How far was he from trifling and impertinence in his 
conversation ? How far from a busy, meddling disposition ? 
How far from any sly and clandestine management to fill his 
pockets with what was fraudulently withheld, or violently 
squeezed from the laborer, soldier, or inferior officer ? How 
far from taking advantage from his commission or authority, 
or any superior power he had in his hands ; or the ignorance, 
dependence, or necessities of others, to add to his own gains 
with what properly belonged to them, and with what they 
might justly expect as a proper reward for any of their ser- 
vices ? How far was he from secretly taking bribes offered to- 
induce him to favor any man in his cause, or by his power or 
interest to promote his being advanced to any place of public 
trust, honor, or profit ? How greatly did he abhor lying and 
prevaricating ? And how immoveably stedfast was he to exact 
truth ? His hatred of those things that were mean and sor- 
did was so apparent and well known, that it was evident that 
men dreaded to appear in any thing of that nature in his 

He was a man remarkably of a public spirit, a Arue lover 
of his country, and greatly abhorred the sacrificing the public 
welfare to private interest. 


He was very eminently endowed with a spirit of govern-* 5 
ment. The God of nature seemed to have formed him for 
government, as though he had been made on purpose, and 
cast into a mould, by which he should be every way fitted for 
the business of a man in public authority. Such a behavior 
and conduct was natural to him as tended to maintain his au- 
thority, and possess others with awe and reverence, and to en- 
force and render effectual what he said and did in the exer- 
cise of his authority. He did not bear the sword in vain : 
He was truly a terror to evil doers. What I saw in him often 
put me in mind of that saying of the wise man, Prov. xx. 8, 
" The king that sitteth on the throne of judgment scattereth 
away all evil with his eyes." He was one that was not afraid 
of the faces of men ; and every one knew that it was in vaii; 
to attempt to deter him from doing what, on mature consid- 
eration, he had determined he ought to do. Every thing in 
him was great, and becoming a man in his public station- 
Perhaps never was there a man that appeared in New Eng- 
land to whom the denomination of a great man did more prop- 
erly belong. 

But though he was one that was great among men, exalted 
above others in abilities and greatness of mind, and in place 
of rule, and feared not the faces of men, yet he feared God. 
He Was strictly conscientious in his conduct, both in public 
and private. I never knew the man that seemed more sted- 
fastly and immoveably to act by principle, and according to/ 
rules and maxims, established and settled in his mind by the 
dictates of his judgment and conscience : He was a man of 
strict justice and fidelity : Faithfulness was eminently his 
character : Some of his greatest opponents that have been ol 
the contrary party to him in public affairs, yet have openly ■ 
acknowledged this of him, That he was a faithful man. He 
was remarkably faith i'ul in his public trusts : He would not 
basely betray his trust, from fear or favor : It was in vain to 
expert }\ ; however men might oppose him or neglect him, 
and how great soever they were : Nor would he neglect the' 
public interest, wherein committed to him, for the sake of his 


Awn ease, but diligently and laboriously watched and labored 
fork night and day. And he was faithful in private affairs as 
well as public : He was a most faLhful friend ; faithful to any 
one that in any case asked his counsel : And his fidelity might 
be depended on in whatever affair he undertook for any of his 

He was a noted instance of the virtue of temperance, un- 
alterable in it, in all places, in all companies, and in the midst 
of all temptations. 

Though he was a man of a great spirit, yet he had a re- 
markable government of his spirit ; and excelled in the gov- 
ernment of his tongue. In the midst of all provocations he 
met with, among the multitudes he had to deal with, and the 
great multiplicity of perplexing affairs in which he was con- 
cerned, and all the opposition and reproaches he was at any 
time the subject of ; yet what was there that ever proceeded 
out of his mouth, that his enemies could lay hold of ? No pro- 
fane language, no vain-rash, unseemiy, and unchristian speech- 
es. If at any time he expressed himself with great warmth 
and vigor, it seemed to be from principle and determination of 
his judgment, rather than from passion : When he expressed 
himself strongly, and with vehemence, those that were ac- 
quainted with him, and well observed him from time to time, 
might evidently see it was done in consequence of thought 
and judgment, weighing the circumstances and consequences 
of things. 

The calmness and steadiness of his behavior in private, 
particularly in his family, appeared remarkable and exempla- 
ry to those who had most opportunity to observe it. 

He was thoroughly established in those religious princi- 
ples and doctrines of the first fathers of New England, usually 
called the doctrines of grace, and had a great detestation of the 
opposite errors of the present fashionable divinity, as very con- 
trary to the word of God, and the experience of every true 
Christian. And as he was a friend to truth, so he was a friend 
to vital piety and the power of godliness, and ever countenanc- 
ed and favored it on all occasions. 
Vol. VIII. 3 I 


He abhorred profaneness,and was a person of a serious and 
decent spirit, and ever treated sacred things with reverence. 
He was exemplary for his decent attendance on the public 
worship of God. Who ever saw him irreverently and inde- 
cently lolling, and laying down his head to sleep, or gazing 
and staring about the meeting house in time of divine service? 
And as he was able (as was before observed) to discourse very 
understandingly of experimental religion, so to some persons- 
with whom he was very intimate, he gave intimations suffi- 
ciently plain, while conversing of these things, that they were 
matters of his own experience. And some serious persons 
in civil authority, that have ordinarily differed from him in 
matters of government, yet on some occasional close conver- 
sation with him on things of religion, have manifested an high 
opinion of him as to real experimental piety. 

As he was known to be a serious person, and an enemy to- 
a profane or vain conversation, so he was feared on that ac- 
count by great and small. When he was in the room, only 
his presence was sufficient to maintain decency ; though many 
were there that were accounted gentlemen and great men, 
who otherwise were disposed to take a much greater freedom 
in their talk and behavior, than they dared to do in his pres- 

He was not unmindful of death, nor insensible of his own 
frailty, nor did death come unexpected to him. For some 
years past, he has spoken much to some persons of dying, and 
going into the eternal world, signifying that he did not expect 
to continue long here. 

Added to all these things that have been mentioned to ren- 
der him eminently a strong rod, he was attended with many 
circumstances which tended to give him advantage for the 
exerting of his strength for the public good. He was honor- 
ably descended, was a man of considerable substance, had been 
lon^ in authority, was extensively known and honored abroad, 
was high in the esteem of the many tribes of Indians in the 
neighborhood of the British colonies, and so had great influ- 
ence upon them above any other man in New England ; God 


-had endowed him with a comely presence, and majesty of 
countenance, becoming the great qualities of his mind, and 
the place in which God had set him. 

In the exercise of these qualities and endowments, under 
these advantages, he has been, as it were, a father to this part 
of the land, on whom the' whole country had, under God, its 
dependence in all its public affairs, and especially since the 
beginning of the present war. How much the weight of all 
the warlike concerns of the country (which above any part of 
the land lies exposed to the enemy) has lain on his shoulders, 
and how he has been the spring of all motion, and the doer of 
every thing that has been done, and how wisely and faithfully 
he has conducted these affairs, I need not inform this congre- 
gation. You well know that he took care of the country as 
a fatherof a family of children, not neglecting men's lives, and 
making light of their blood ; but with great diligence, vigi- 
lance and prudence, applying himself continually to the prop- 
er means of our safety and welfare. And especially has this 
his native town, where he has dwelt from his infancy, reaped 
the benefit of his happy influence : His wisdom has been, un- 
der God, very much our guide, and his authority our support 
and strength, and he has been a great honor to Northampton, 
and ornament to our church. 

He continued in full capacity of usefulness while he lived; 
he was indeed considerably advanced in years, but his powers 
of mind were not sensibly abated, and his strength of body 
was not so impaired, but that he was able to go long journeys, 
in extreme heat and cold, and in a short time. 

But now this " strong rod is broken and withered," and 
surely the judgment of God therein is very awful, and the dis- 
pensation that which may well be for a lamentation. Probably 
we shall be more sensible of the worth and importance of 
such a strong rod by the want of it. The awful voice of God 
in this providence, is worthy to be attended to by this whole 
province, and especially by the people of this county, but m 
a more peculiar manner by us of this town. We have now 
this testimony of the divine displeasure, added to all the other 

460 A STRONG ROD, See. 

dark clouds God has lately brought over us, and his awful 
frowns upon us. It is a dispensation, on many accounts, 
greatly calling for our humiliation and fear before God ; an 
awful manifestation of his supreme, universal, and absolute 
dominion, calling us to adore the divine sovereignty, and 
tremble at the presence of this great God : And it is a lively- 
instance of human frailty and mortality: We see how that 
none are out of the reach of death, that no greatness, no au- 
thority, no wisdom and sagacity, no honorableness of person 
or station, no degree of valuableness and importance, exempts 
from the stroke of death. This is therefore a loud and sol- 
emn warning to all sorts to prepare for their departure hence. 
And the memory of this person who is now gone, who was 
made so great a blessing while he lived, should engage us to 
shew respect and kindness to his family. This we should do 
both out of respect to him and to his father, your former emi- 
nent pastor, who in his day was, in a remarkable manner, a 
father to this part of the land in spirituals, and especially to 

this town, as this his son has been in temporals God greatly 

resented it, when the children of Israel did not shew kindness 
to the house of Jerubbaal that has been made an instrument of 
so much good to them, Judges viii. 35. " Neither shewed they 
kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, according to all the good 
vhich he had shewed unto Israel." 


The Nature and End of Excommunication. 



X HE church of Corinth, in primitive times, was 
very famous for the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, 
as well as for the number of its members. This church was 
first planted by the Apostle Paul : He was, as it were, the 
spiritual father of it, who had converted its members from 
Heathenism to Christianity ; as he reminds them in these 
epistles ; 1 Cor. iv. 15. " For though ye have ten thousand 
instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers. For in 
Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." We 

* Preached on the occasion of the excommunication of a person, July 
22, 1739- 


have an account of the apostle's planting this church in the 
18th chapter of Acts. 

It was doubtless excellently regulated by him, when he 
■was present to have an immediate inspection of its affairs. But 
in his absence many corruptions and disorders crept in among 
its members. Among other disorders, one of the members 
had been guilty of a very heinous kind of wickedness : He 
had committed incest in one of the grossest degrees of it, in 
having his father's wife ; which the apostle observes was in- 
famous even among the Heathens. And the church of Co- 
rinth had tolerated him in it, so as notwithstanding to suffer 
him to continue in their communion. 

The chapter of which our text is apart, is wholly upon this 
subject. The apostle reproves the church for conniving at 
this wickedness, as they had done in not excommunicating 
the person who had been guilty of it; and directs them speed- 
ily to cast him out from among them ; thus delivering him 
to Satan. He orders them to yurge out such scandalous per- 
sons, as the Jews were wont to purge leaven out of their hous- 
es when they kept the passover. 

In the text and two foregoing verses he more particularly 
explains their duty with respect to such vicious persons, and 
enjoins it on them not to keep company with such. But then 
shows the difference they ought to observe in their carriage 
towards those who were vicious among the Heathen, who had 
never joined with the church, and towards those of the same 
vicious character who had been their professed brethren ; see 
verse 9... .12. " I wrote unto you, not to company with forni- 
cators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, 
or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters ; for 
then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have 
written unto you, not to keep company, if any man that is call- 
ed a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a 
railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no 
not to eat." 

In the words of the text we may observe two things, viz. 
the duty, and the object. 


1. The duty enjoined, of which two things are expressed. 

!. The behavior required, negatively expressed* not ta 

keeji compamj. 

2. The manner or degree, no no; to eat. 

II. The object, who is designed by two things. 

1. That he appear to be vicious; a fornicator, or cove- 
tous, or an idolater, or a ruiler, or a drunkard, or an extortion- 
er. We are not to understand only these particular vices, 
but these, or any other gross sins, or whatever carries in it 
visible wickedness. 1% is evident, that the apostle here, and 
in the context, intends that we should exclude out of our com- 
pany all those who are visibly wicked men. For in the fore- 
going verses he expresses his meaning by this, that we should 
purge out the old leaven ; and, explaining what he means by 
leaven, he includes all visible wickedness; as in verse 8. 
" Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neith- 
er with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the un- 
leavened bread of sincerity and truth." 

2. The other thing by which the object of this behavior 
or dealing is characterised, is, that he be one that is called a 
brother, or one that hath been a professed Christian, and a 
member of the church. 


Those members of the visible Christian church that are 
become visibly wicked, ought not to be tolerated in the church, 
but should be excommunicated. 

In handling this subject, I shall speak, 

I. Of the nature of excommunication ; 

II. Of the subject ; and, 

III. Oftheendsof it. 


I. I shall say something of the nature of excommunica- 
tion. It is a punishment executed in the name and accord- 
ing to the will of Christ, whereby a person who hath hereto- 
fore enjoyed the privileges of a member of the visible church 
of Christ, is cast out of the church and delivered unto Satan. 

It is of the nature of a punishment inflicted : It is express- 
ly called a punishment by the apostle in 2 Cor. ii 6. Speak- 
ing of the excommunicated Corinthian, he says, " Sufficient 
to such a man is this punishment." For though it be not de- 
signed by man for the destruction of the person who is the 
subject of it, but for his correction, and so is of the nature of 
a castigatory punishment, at least so far as it is a punishment 
inflicted by men ; yet it is in itself a great and dreadful calam- 
ity, and the most severe punishment that Christ hath appoint- 
ed in the visible church. Although in it the church is to seek 
only the good of the person and his recovery from sin, there 
appearing, upon proper trial, no reason to hope for his recov- 
ery by gentler means; yet it is at God's sovereign disposal, 
whether it shall issue in his humiliation and repentance, or in 
his dreadful and eternal destruction ; as it always doth issue 
in the one or the other. 

In the definition of excommunication now given, two 
things are chiefly worthy of consideration. 1. Wherein this 
punishment consists. 2. By whom it is inflicted. 

First. I would show wherein this punishment consists ; 
and it is observable that there is in it something privative, and 
something positive. 

First- There is something privative in excommunica- 
tion, which consists in being deprived of a benefit heretofore 
enjoyed. This part of the punishment is in scripture ex- 
pressed by being cast out of the church. So this punishment 
in the Jewish church was called putting out of the synagogue, 
John xvi. 2. The word synagogue is a word of the same sig- 
nification as the word church. So this punishment in the 
Christian church is called casting out of the church. The 


Apostle John, blaming Diotrephes for inflicting this punish- 
ment without cause, says, 3 John v. 10. " He casteth them 
out of the church." 

This privative part of the punishment is sometimes ex- 
pressed by the church's withdrawing from a member, 2 Thess. 
iii. 6. " Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every 
brother that walketh disorderly." 

The privative part of the punishment of excommunication 
consists in this,, viz. in being cut off from the enjoyment of 
the privileges of God's visible people. The whole world of 
mankind is divided into these two sorts, those that are God's 
visible people, and so are within the visible church of Christ; 
and those that are without the visible church, and are of the 
visible kingdom of Satan. Now it is a great privilege to be 
one of the visible, people of God, to be within the visible 
church of Christ, and to enjoy the benefits of such : It is 
abundantly so spoken of in scripture. On the other hand, 
it is very doleful to be without this visible kingdom, or to be 
cut off from the privileges of it, and to be excluded, as those 
who are to be treated as belonging to the visible kingdom of 

The privileges which are to be enjoyed in the visible 
church of Christ, from which excommunicated persons are 
to be cut off, are of these four kinds : 

1. The charity of the church. 

2. Brotherly society with the members of the church. 

3. The fellowship of the church in worship. 

4. The internal privileges of visible Christians. 

1. They are cut oft from being the objects of that charity 
of God's people which is due to Christian brethren. They 
a,re not indeed cut oft' from all the charity of God's people, foi- 

Vol. VIII. 3 K 


all men ought to be the objects of their love. There is a love 
due from the people of God even to the Heathens and others 
Who are not in the visible church of Christ. Our love should 
be like that of our heavenly Father, who is kind to the evil 
and the good. But I speak of the brotherly charity due tc 
visible saints. 

Charity, as the apostle represents it, is as it were the bond 
by which the several members of the church of Christ are 
united together ; and therefore he calls it the bond of per- 
fectness ; Col iii. 14. " Put on charity, which is the bond of 
perfectness." But when a person is justly excommunicated, 
it is like a physician's cutting off a diseased member from the 
body ; and then the bond which before united it to the body is. 
cut or broken. 

A scandal is the same as a stumbling block ; and when a 
member of the visible church is guilty of scandal, a stumbling 
block is laid before others in two respects. 

(1.) It is a dishonor to God, a bad example, and a stum» 
bling block, as it is the occasion of others falling into sin. 

(2.) It is a stumbling block in the way of the charity of his 
fellow Christians towards the offender. As long therefore 
as the scandal remains, it stumbles the charity of others : 
And if it finally remains after proper endeavors to remove it, 
then it breaks their charity, and so the offender is cut off from 
the charity of the church. 

He is cut off from the charity of the church in the follow- 
ing respects : 

[1.] As he is cut off from the charitable opinion and es- 
teem of the church ; so that the church cannot any longer 
look upon him as a Christian, and so rejects him ; therefore 
excommunication is called a rejection, Tit. iii. 10. "A man 
that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, re' 
ject." This implies that the church doth not approve, or 
that it disapproves the person as a Christian : It cannot any 
longer charitably look upon him as a saint, or fellow wor- 
shipper of God, and can do no other than, on the contrary, 
ssteem him an enemy of God ; and so doth openly withdraw. 


its charity from him, ceasing to acknowledge him as a fel° 
low Christian, or fellow worshipper of God, and hencefor- 
ward treating him as no more a fellow worshipper than the 

[2.] The person excommunicated is also cut off from 
that honor which is due to brethren and fellow Christians. 
To be a visible Christian is an honorable character, and much 
honor is due to persons of this character. But excommuni- 
cated persons forfeit this honor. Christians ought not to pay- 
that honor and respect to them which they pay to others ; 
but should treat them as unworthy of such honor, that they 
may be ashamed. Christ tells us, that they should " be unto 
us as Heathen men and publicans," (Matth. xviii. 17.) which 
implies a withdrawing from them that common respect and 
honor which we pay to others. There doubtless, therefore, 
should be a great difference between the respect that we 
show such, and that which we show others : We ought to 
treat them so as to let them plainly see that we do not count 
them worthy of it, and so as tends to put them to shame. 

[3.] They ought to be cut off from that brotherly com- 
placence that is due to Christian brethren. Much love and 
complacency is due to those who are visible Christians, or to 
those whom we are obliged in charity to receive as saints j 
and on this account, because they are visible Christians. But 
this complacence excommunicated persons forfeit. 

The love of benevolence or of good will is indeed still due 
to them, as it is to the visibly wicked : We should still wish 
well to them, and seek their good. Excommunication itself 
is to be performed as an act of benevolence or good will : We 
should seek their good by it ; and it is to be used as a mean 
of their eternal salvation. But complacence and delight in 
them as visible Christians is to be withdrawn ; and on the 
contrary they are to be the objects of displacency and abhor- 
rence. When they are excommunicated they are avoided 
and rejected with abhorrence, as visibly and apparently wick- 
ed. We are to cast them out as an unclean thing which de- 
files the church of God. 


In this sense the Psalmist professes an hatred of those 
•who were the visible enemies of God. Psal.cxxxix. 21, 22, 
'« Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee ? And am I nor. 
grieved with those that rise up against thee ? I hate them 
with perfect hatred." Not that he hated them with an ha- 
tred of malice or ill will, but with displacency and abhorrence 
of their wickedness. In this respect we ought to be the chil- 
dren of our Father who is in heaven, who, though he loves 
many wicked men with a love of benevolence, yet cannot love 
them with a love of complacence. Thus excommunicated 
persons are cut off from the charity of the church. 

2. They are cut off from the society which Christians 
have together as brethren. I speak now of the common soci- 
ety which Christian brethren have together. Thus we are 
commanded to iviihdravj from such ; 2 Thess. iii. 6. To 
avoid them ; Rom. xvi. 17. To have no company with them ; 
2 Thess. iii. 14. And to treat them as Heathens and publicans ; 
Matth. xviii. 17. The people of God are not only to avoid 
society with visibly wicked men in sacred things ; but when 
excommunicated, as much as may be to avoid and withdraw 
from them as to that common society which is proper to sub- 
sist among Christians. 

Not that they should avoid speaking to them on any occa- 
sion. All manner and all degrees of society are not forbid- 
den ; but all unnecessary society, all such society as holds 
forth complacence in them, or such as is wont to be among 
those that delight in the company of one another. We 
should not associate ourselves with them so as to make them 
our companions. Yea there ought to be such an avoiding 
of their company as shall show great dislike, or such as 
there is wont to be between persons who very much dislike 
each other. 

Particularly, we are forbidden such a degree of society, or 
appearance of associating ourselves with them, as there is in 
making them our guests at our tables, or in being their guests 
at their tables ; as is manifest in the text, where we are com- 
manded to have no company with them, no not to eat. That 


tfiis respects not eating with them at the Lord's Supper, but 
a common eating, is evident by two things. 

(1.) It is evident by the words, that this eating here for- 
bidden, is one of the lowest degrees of keeping company, 
which are forbidden. Keep no company with such an one, 
saith the apostle, no not to eat. : As much as to say, no not in 
so low a degree as to eat with him. But this would be a ri- 
diculous sort of language for eating with him at the Lord's 
Supper, which is the very highest degree of visible Christian 
communion. Who can suppose that the apostle would speak 
such nonsense as this, Take heed and have no company with 
a man, no not so much as in the highest degree of commun- 
ion that you can have. 

(2.) The apostle mentions this eating as a way of keeping 
company which they might not hold with an excommunicat- 
ed brother, which however they might hold with the Hea- 
then. He tells them, not to keep company with fornicators ; 
then he informs them, he means not with the fornicators of 
this world, that is, the Heathens ; but, saith he, " if any man 
that is called a brother be a fornicator, Sec. with such an one 
keep no company, no not to eat" This makes it most appa- 
rent, that the apostle doth not mean eating at the Lord's ta- 
ble ; for so they might not keep company with the fornica- 
tors of the Heathens any more than with an excommunicated 

Here naturally arise two questions. 

Question 1. How fur are the church to treat excommu- 
nicated persons as they would treat the Heathens, or those 
who never have been of the visible church ? I answer, they 
are to treat them as Heathens, excepting in these two things, 
in which there is a difference to be observed. 

(1.) They are to have a greater concern for their welfare 
still than if they had never been brethren, and therefore ought 
to take more pains, by admonitions and otherwise, to reclaim 
and save them, than they arc obliged to take towards those 
who have been always Heathens. This seems manifest by 


that of the apostle, 2 Thess. iii. 14, 15. " And if any nun 
obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no 
company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him 
not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." The con- 
sideration that he hath been a brother heretofore, and that we 
have not so finally cast him off from that relation, but that we 
are still hoping and using means for his recovery, obliges us 
to concern ourselves more for the good of his soul than for 
those with whom we never had any such connexion ; and so 
to pray for him, and to take pains with him by admonishing 

The very reason of the thing shows the same. For this 
very ordinance of excommunication is used for this end, that 
we may thereby obtain the good of the person excommunicat- 
ed. And surely we should be more concerned for the good 
of those who have been our brethren, and who are now under 
the operation of means used by us for their good, than for 
those with whom we never had any special connexion. Thus 
there should be more of the love of benevolence exercised 
towards persons excommunicated, than towards those who 
never were members of the church. 

But then, 

(2.) On the other hand, as to what relates to the love of 
complacence, they ought to be treated with greater displa- 
cency and disrespect than the Heathen. This is plain by the 
text and context. For the apostle plainly doth not require of 
us to avoid the company of the Heathen, or the fornicators of 
the world, but doth expressly require us to avoid the company 
of any brother who shall be guilty of any of the vices pointed 
out in the text, or any other like vice, and therefore be ex- 

This is also plain by the reason of the thing. For those 
who have once been visible Christians and have apostatized 
and cast off that visibility, deserve to be treated with more 
abhorrence than those who have never made any pretensions 
to Christianity. The sin of such in apostatizing from their 


profession is more aggravated than the sin of those who never 
made any profession. They far more dishonor religion, 
and are much more abhorred of God. Therefore when 
Christ says, Matth. xviii. 17. "Let him be unto thee as an 
Heathen man and a publican," it is not meant that we should 
treat an excommunicated brother as Christians ought to treat 
Heathens and publicans ; for they might eat with them, as 
Christ himself did ; and the apostle gives leave to eat with 
such, 1 Cor. x. 27 ; and in the context gives leave to keep 
company with such ; yet forbids to eat with an excommuni- 
cated person. 

Christ's meaning must be, that we should treat an excom- 
municated person, as the Jews were wont to treat the Hea- 
thens and publicans ; and as the disciples had been always 
taught among the Jews, and brought up, and used to treat 
them. They would by no means eat with publicans and sin- 
ners ; they would not eat with the Gentiles, or with the Sa- 
maritans. Therefore Peter durst not eat with the Gentiles 
when the Jews were present ; Gal. ii. 12. 

Question 2. What kindness and respect may and ought 
to be shown to such persons ? 

(1.) There are some things by which the members of 
the church are obliged to show kindness to them ; and these 
things are chiefly two, to pray for them, and to admonish 

(2.) The common duties and offices of humanity ought to 
be performed towards them ; such as relieving them when 
they are sick, or under any other distress ; allowing them 
those benefits of human society, and that help, which are 
needful for the support and defence of their lives and prop- 

(3.) The duties of natural and civil relations are still to be 
performed towards them. Excommunication doth not re- 
lease children from the obligation of duty to their parents, 
nor parents from parental affection and care towards their 
children. Nor are husbands and wives released from the 


duties proper to their relation. And so of all other less rela* 
lions, whether natural, domestic, or civil. 

3. They are cut off from the fellowship of the worship ct 
the Christian church. The true notion of the visible church 
of Christ, is that part of mankind, which, as his people, is 
united in his worship, or which agrees in upholding his ap- 
pointed worship. And the notion of a particular visible 
church of Christ, is a particular society of worshippers, or 
of visible saints, united for the social worship of God accord- 
ing to his institutions or ordinances. One great and main 
privilege then, which the members of such a church enjoy, is 
fellowship in the worship which God hath appointed in his 
church. But they that are excommunicated are cut off from 
this privilege, they have no fellowship, no communion with 
the people of God in any part of their worship : They can 
have no fellowship with them in baptism, or the Lord's Sup- 
per, or in the prayers which they offer up, or in the praise's 
which they sing. 

He that is the mouth of the worshipping congregation in 
offering up public prayers, is not the mouth of those who are 
excommunicated : He is the mouth only of the worshipping 
society; but they are cast out of that society. The church 
may and ought to pray for such ; but they cannot have fellow- 
ship with such in prayer. The minister, when speaking in 
prayer, ought to pray for those that are shut out of the society 
of Gcd's visible servants or worshippers ; but he doth not 
speak in their name : He speaks only in the name of the unit- 
ed society of visible saints or worshippers. If the people of 
God were to put up prayers in their name, it would imply a 
receiving of them into charity, or that they charitably looked 
upon them, and received them as the servants or worshippers 
of God. But, as was observed before, excommunicated per* 
sons arc in this respect cast out of the charity of the church, 
and the church hath no longer charity for them, as the ser- 
vants or worshippers of Cod ; %nt looks upon them as wicked 
men and enemies of God, and treats them as si: 


So when a congregation of visible saints join in singing 
the praises of God, as the Psalmist says, Psalm xxxiv. 3. 
" Let us extol his name together ;" they do it only as joining 
with those that are in their charity to be looked upon as fel- 
low servants and fellow worshippers of God. They do it not 
as joining with Heathens ; nor do the people of God say to 
the open enemies of God, remaining such, « Come let us ex- 
tol his name together ;" but they say it to their brethren ia 
God's service. If we ought not to join with excommunicated 
persons in familiar society, much less ought we to hold fel- 
lowship with them in solemn worship. 

4. There are privileges of a more internal nature, which 
those who are members of the visible church enjoy, from, 
which excommunicated persons are cut off. They being 
God's covenant people, are in the way of covenant blessings ; 
and therefore have more encouragement to come to God by 
prayer for any mercy they need. The visible church is the 
people among whom God hath set his tabernacle, and among 
whom he is wont to bestow his blessings. But they that are 
excommunicated are in a sense cast out of God's sight, or 
from God's face, into a land of banishment, as Cain was ; Gen, 
iv. 14, 16. They are not in the way of those smiles of Prov- 
idence, those tokens of God's favor, and that light of God's 
countenance, which those who are within are in the way of. 
Nor, as they are cast out from among God's covenant people, 
have they the divine covenant to plead, as the members of the 
church have. 

Thus far I have considered the privative part of the pun- 
ishment of excommunication. 

I now proceed, 

Secondly, To the positive part, which is expressed by- 
being delivered to Satan, in verse 5, of the context. By which 
two things seem to be signified. 

1. A being delivered over to the calamities to which they 
are subject who belong to the visible kingdom of the devil. 
As they who are excommunicated are thrust out from among 

Vol. VIII. 3 I, 


the visible people of God ; so doubtless they arc to be lookec 8 ' 1 
upon, in most respects at least, as being in the miserable, de- 
plorable circumstances in which those are who are under the. 
visible tyranny of the devil, as the Heathens are. And in ma- 
ny respects they, doubtless, suffer the cruel tyranny of the dev- 
il, in a manner agreeable to the condition they are in, being 
cast out into his visible kingdom. 

2. It is reasonable to suppose that God is wont to make 
the devil the instrument of those peculiar, severe chastise- 
ments which their apostacy deserves. As they deserve more 
severe chastisement than the Heathens, and are delivered to 
Satan for the destruction of the flesh ; so we may well sup- 
pose, either that God is wont to let Satan loose, sorely to mo- 
lest them outwardly or inwardly, and by such severe means to 
destroy the flesh, and to humble them ; or that he suffers the 
devil to take possession of them, dreadfully to harden them, 
and so to destroy them for ever. For although what men are 
to aim at, is only the destruction of the flesh ; yet whether it 
shall prove the destruction of the flesh, or the eternal and 
more dreadful destruction of them, is at God's sovereign dis- 
posal So much for the nature of excommunication. 

Secondly. I come to show by whom this punishment i& 
to be looked on as being inflicted. 

h When it is regularly and duly inflicted, it is to be look- 
ed upon- as done by Christ himself. That is imported in the 
definition, that it is according to his will, and to the directions, 
given in his word. And therefore he is to be looked upon as 
principal in it, and we ought to esteem it to be as really an<i 
truly from him, as if he were on earth, and personally inflict- 
ed it. 

2. As it is inflicted by men, it is only done ministerially. 
They do not act of themselves in this, any more than in 
preaching the word. When the word is preached, it is the 
word of Christ which is spoken, as the speaker speaks in the 
name of Christ, as his ambassador. So, when a church ex- 
communicates a member, the church acts in the name o£ 


"Christ, and by his authority, not by its own. It is governed by 
his will, not by its own. Indeed it is only a particular appli- 
cation of the word of Christ. 

Therefore it is promised, that when it is duly done, it shall 
be confirmed in heaven; i. e. Christ will confi rm it, by ac- 
knowledging it to be his own act ; and he will, in his future 
providence, have regard to what is done thus as done by him- 
self : He will look on the person, and treat him as cast out 
and delivered to Satan by himself ; and if he repent not, will 
for ever reject and damn him : Matth. xviii. 18. " Verily I 
eay unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be 
bound in heaven ;" John xx. 23. " Whose soever sins ye re- 
tain, they are retained." 

I shall now, as was proposed, 

II. Endeavor to show who are the proper subjects of ex- 
communication. They are those members of the church 
who are now become visibly wicked. Visibly wicked persons 
ought not to be tolerated in the church, but should be cast out, 
as the very name and nature of the visible church show, 
which is a society of visible saints, or visibly holy persons. 
When any of those visible saints become visibly wicked men, 
they ought to be cast out of the church. Now, the members 
of the church become visibly wicked by these two things : 

1 . By gross sin. Saints may be guilty of other sins, and 
very often are, without throwing any just stumbling block in 
the way of public charity, or of the charity of their Christian 
brethren. The common failures of humanity, and the daily 
short comings of the best of men, do not ordinarily stumble 
the charity of their brethren ; but when they fall into any 
gross sin, this effect follows ; for we naturally argue, that he 
■who hath committed some gross sin hath doubtless much 
more practised less and more secret sins ; and so we doubt 
concerning the soundness and sincerity of his heart. There- 
fore all those who commit any gross sin, as they stumble the 
charity of their brethren, are proper subjects of discipline ; 


and unless they confess their sin, and manifest their repent- 
ance, are proper subjects of excommunication. 

This leads me to say, 

2. That the members of the church do especially become 
visibly wicked, when they remain impenitent in their sins, 
after proper means used to reclaim them. Merely being 
guilty of gross sin, is a stumbling block to charity, unless re- 
pentance immediately succeed ; but especially when the 
guilty person remains obstinate and contumacious ; in such 
a case he is most clearly a visibly wicked person, and therefore 
to be dealt with as such ; to be cast out into the wicked world, 
the kingdom of Satan, where he appears to belong. 

Nor is contumacy in gross sins only a sufficient ground of 
excommunication. In the text the apostle commands us to 
inflict this censure, not only on those who are guilty of the 
gross sins of fornication, idolatry, and drunkenness, but also 
on those who are guilty of covetousness, railing, and extor- 
tion, which, at least in some degrees of them, are generally 
esteemed no very heinous crimes. And in Rom. xvi. 17, the 
san^e apostle commands the church to excommunicate "them 
who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine 
they had learned ;" and in 2 Thes. iii. 14, to excommunicate 
every one who should " not obey his word by that epistle.'* 
Now, according to these precepts, every one who doth not ob- 
serve the doctrine of the apostles, and their word contained 
in their epistles, and so, by parity of reason, the divine in- 
structions contained in the other parts of scripture, is to be ex- 
communicated, provided he continue impenitent and contu- 
macious. So that contumacy and impenitence in any real and 
manifest sin whatsoever, deserve excommunication. 

III. I come at length to speak of the ends of this ecclesi- 
astical censure. The special ends of it are these three. 

1. That the church may be be kept pure, and the ordinan- 
ces of God not be defiled. This end is mentioned in the con- 
text, verse 6, Sec. " Know ye not that a little leaven leaven- 


cth the whole lump ? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that 
ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. Therefore let 
us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven 
of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of 
sincerity and truth/' 

When the church and the ordinances of God are defiled by 
the tolei^ation of wicked men in the church, God the Father, 
Jesus Christ the head and founder of the church, the religion 
of the gospel, and the church itself, are dishonored and expos- 
ed to contempt. 

That the other members themselves may not be defiled, 
it is necessary that they bear a testimony against sin, by cen- 
suring it whenever it appears among them, especially in the 
grosser acts of wickedness. If they neglect so to do, they 
contract guilt by the very neglect ; and not only so, but they 
expose themselves to learn the same vices which they tolerate 
in others ; for " a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." 
Hence that earnest caution of the apostle, Heb.xii. 15. " look- 
ing diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God j lest any 
root of bitterness springing up, trouble you, and thereby many 


2. That others may be deterred from wickedness. As the 
neglect of proper censure with respect to visibly wicked 
church members, tends to lead and encourage others to com- 
mit the same wickedness ; so the infliction of proper censure 
tends to restrain others, not only from the same wickedness 
but from sin in general. This, therefore, is repeatedly men- 
tioned as one end of the punishments appointed to be inflicted 
by the law of Moses : Deut. xiii. 11." And all Israel shall 
hear, and fear, and shall do no more such wickedness as this is 
among you." 

3. That the persons themselves may be reclaimed, and 
that their souls may be saved. When other more gentle 
means have been used in vain, then it is the duty of the church 
to use this, which is more severe, in order to bring them to 
conviction, shame, and humiliation ; and that, by being re- 
jected and avoided by the church, and treated with disrespect 5 


they may be convinced how they deserve to be forever disown- 
ed of God ; that by being delivered unto Satan, they may 
learn how they deserve for ever to be delivered up to him ; 
that by his being made the instrument of their chastisement, 
they may learn how they deserve to be tormented by him, 
without any rest day or night, for ever and ever. 

This with the counsels and admonitions by which it is to 
be followed, is the last mean that the church is to use, in order 
to reclaim those members which are become visibly wicked. 
If this be ineffectual, what is next to be expected, is dcstruc- 
tion without remedy. 


I shall apply this subject in a brief use of exhortation to 
this church, to maintain strictly the proper discipline of the 
gospel in general, and particularly that part of it which con- 
sists in excommunication. To this end I shall just suggest 
to you the following motives. 

1. That if you tolerate visible wickedness in your mem- 
bers, you will greatly dishonor God, our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the religion which you profess, the church in general, and 
yourselves in particular. As those members of the church 
that practise wickedness themselves, bring dishonor tipon all 
these, so do those who tolerate them in it. The language of 
it is, that God doth not require holiness in his servants ; that 
Christ doth not require it in his disciples ; that the religion of 
the gospel is not an holy religion ; that the church is not a 
body of holy servants of God ; and that this church in particu- 
lar, hath no regard to holiness or true virtue. 

2. Your own good loudly calls you to the same thing. 
From what hath been already said, you see how liable you, as 
individuals, will be to catch the contagion, which is easily com- 
municated by reason of the natural depravity, in a degree at 
Jeast, remaining in the best of men. 


Beside, if strict discipline be maintained among you, k 
will not only tend to prevent the spread of wickedness, but to 
make you more fruitful in holiness. If you know that the 
eyes of your brethren observe all your conduct, it will not only 
make you more guarded against sin, but more careful w t& 
maintain good works," and to abound in «« the fruits of the 
spirit." Thus you will have more abundant joy and peace in. 

3. The good of those who are without should be another 
motive. What the apostle saith with reference to another 
subject, in 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. is perfectly applicable to the case 
before us : " But if all prophesy, and there come in one that 
believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is 
judged of all ; and thus are the secrets of his heart made 
manifest ; and so falling down on his face he will worship 
God, and report that God is in you of a truth." If strict dis- 
cipline, and thereby strict morals, were maintained in the 
church, it would, in all probability, be one of the most power- 
ful means of conviction and conversion towards those who are 

4. Benevolence towards your offending brethren them- 
selves calls upon you to maintain discipline in all its parts, 
Surely, if we love our brethren, it will grieve us to see them 
wandering from the path of truth and duty ; and in proportion 
as our compassion is moved, shall we be disposed to use all 
proper means to reclaim and bring them back to the right way. 
Now, the rules of discipline contained in the gospel are the 
most proper, and best adapted to this end, that infinite wisdom 
itself could devise. Even excommunication is instituted for 
this very end, the destruction of the fleshy and the salvatio?i of 
the spirit. If, therefore, we have any love to our offending 
and erring brethren, it becomes us to manifest it, in executing 
strictly the rules of gospel discipline, and even excommuni- 
cation itself, whenever it is necessary. 

5. But the absolute authority of Christ ought to be suffi- 
cient in this case, if there were no other motive. Our text is 
only one of many passages in the scripture, wherein strict dis- 


cipline is expressly commanded, and peremptorily enjoined. 
Now, how can you be the true disciples of Christ, if you live 
in the neglect of these plain positive commands ? " If ye love 
me," saith Christ, " keep my commandments ;" and, " Ye 
are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you." 
But, " He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." 
" And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which 
I say ?" If you strictly follow the rules of discipline institut- 
ed by Christ, you have reason to hope for his blessing ; for he 
is wont to bless his own institutions, and to smile upon the 
means of grace which he hath appointed. 


The Sin of Theft and of Injustice. 

EXODUS xx. 15. 


J. HIS you all know is one of the ten command- 
ments which constitute a summary of man's duty, as revealed 
by God. God made many revelations to the children of Israel 
in the wilderness by Moses : But this made in the ten com- 
mandments is the chief. Most of those other revelations, 
which God made to that people, contained ceremonial or judi- 
cial laws ; but this contains the moral law. The most of 
those other laws respected the Jewish nation ; but here is a 
summary of the laws that are binding on all mankind. Those 
were to last till Christ should come, and have set up the Christ- 
ian church ; these are of perpetual obligation, and last to the 
end of the world. God every where, by Moses and the 
prophets, manifests a far greater regard to the duties of these 
commands, than to any of the rites of the ceremonial law. 

* Dated July, 1740. 
Vol. VIII. 3 M 


These commands were the first commands that were giv- 
en forth at Mount Sinai, before any of the precepts of the cer- 
emonial or judicial laws. They were delivered by a greav. 
voice out of the midst of fire, which made all the people in 
the camp tremble, and afterwards were engraven on the ta- 
bles of stone, and laid up in the ark : The fiyst table contain- 
ing the four first commandments, which teach our duty to 
God ; the second table containing the six last, which teach 
our duty to man. The sum of the duties of the first table is 
contained in that which Christ says is the first and great com- 
mandment of the law ; Matth. xxii. 37. " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 
with all thy mind." The sum- of what is required in the sec- 
ond table, is what Christ calls the second command, like unto 
Ihe first ; verse 39." The second is like unto it, Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself V 

Of the commands of this second table of the law, the first., 
which is the fifth of the ten, refers to that respect and honor 
which is due to our neighbor ; the second respects his life ; 
the third his chastity ; the fourth his estate ; the fifth his 
good name ; the sixth and last respects his possessions and 
enjoyments in general. It is that command which respects 
our neighbor's estate, and which is the fourth command of 
the second table, and the eighth of the whole decalogue, on 
which I am to insist at this time. 

Here I shall not raise any doctrine from the words, as the 
subject of my discourse, but shall make the command itself, 
as the words of it lie befote us in the decalogue, my subject. 
And that I may treat of this command in a manner as brief as 
•may be, I shall not stand to show, first, what duties are re- 
quired by the command, and then what sins arc forbidden in 
it : But as the words of the commandment are in the form of 
a prohibition, forbidding a certain kind of sin ; so I shall han- 
dle them, by considering particularly what it is that this com- 
mand forbids. The sin that is forbidden in this command, is 
called stealing ; yet we cannot reasonably understand it only* 


■cf mat act, which in tiie more ordinary and strict sense of the 
word, is called stealing. 

But the iniquity which this command forbids, maybe 
•summarily expressed thus : 

An unjust usurftirig of our neighbor's firofievty, without his 

So much is doubtless comprehended in the text; yet this 
comprehends much more than is implied in the ordinary use 
of the word, stealing; which is only a secret taking of that 
•which is another's, from his possession, without either his 
consent or knowledge. But the ten commands are not to be 
limited to the strictest sense of the words, but are to be un- 
derstood in such a latitude, as to include all things that are of 
that nature or kind. Hence Christ reproves the Pharisees' 
interpretation of the sixth command, Matth. v. 21, 22 ; and 
also their interpretation of the seventh command ; see ver. 
27, 28 ; by which it appears that the commands are not to be 
understood as forbidding only these individual sins, which arc 
expressly mentioned, in the strictest sense of the express- 
ions ; but all other things of the same nature or kind. 

Therefore undoubtedly what is forbidden in this command 
is not »nly that private robbing of our neighbor, which is 
called stealing in the strictest sense of the expression ; but 
all unjust usurpation of our neighbor's propeuy. Here it 
may be observed, that an unjust usurpation of our neigh~ 
bor's property is twofold ; it muy be, 

(1.) Either by withholding what is our neighbor's, or, 

(2.) By taking it from him. 

First, It consists in an unjust withholding of what is our 
neighbor's. There are many ways in which persons may un- 
justly usurp their neighbor's property, by withholding what 


is his due ; but I shall particularize at this time only two 

1. The unfaithfulness of men in not fulfilling their en- 
gagements. Ordinarily when men promise any thing to 
their neighbor, or enter into engagements by undertaking 
any business with which their neighbor entrusts them, their 
engagements invest their neighbor with a right to that which 
is engaged ; so that if they withhold it, they usurp that which 
belongs to their neighbor. So it is, when men break their 
promises, because they find them to be inconvenient, and they 
cannot fulfil them without difficulty and trouble ; or merely 
because they have altered their minds since they promised. 
They think they have not consulted their own interest in the 
promise which they have m^de, and that if they had consider- 
ed the matter as much before they promised as they have 
since, they should not have promised. Therefore they take 
the liberty to set their own promises aside. Besides, some- 
times persons violate this command, by neglecting to fulfil 
their engagements, through a careless, negligent spirit. 

They violate this command, in withholding what belongs 
to their neighbor, when they are not faithful in any business 
which they have undertaken to do for their neighbor. If 
their neighbor have hired them to labor for him for a certain 
time, and they be not careful well to husband the time ; if 
they be hired to day's labor, and be not careful to improve the 
day, as they have reason to think that he who hired them just- 
ly expected of them ; or if they be hired to accomplish such 
a piece of work, and be not careful to do it well, but do it 
slightly, do it not as if it were for themselves, or as they 
would have others do for them, when they in like manner 
betrust them with any business of theirs ; or if they be en- 
trusted with any particular affair, which they undertake, but 
use not that care, contrivance, and diligence, to manage it so 
as will be to the advantage of him who entrusts them, and as 
they would manage it, or would insist that it should be man- 
aged, if the affair were their own : In all these cases they un* 
Justly withhold what belongs to their neighbor. 


2. Another way in which men unjustly withhold whatia 
their neighbors, is, in neglecting to fiay their debts. Some- 
times this happens, because they run so far into debt that 
they cannot reasonably hope to be able to pay their debts ; 
and this they do, either through pride and affectation of living 
above their circumstances ; or through a grasping, covetous 
disposition, or some other corrupt principle. Sometimes 
they neglect to pay their debts from carelessness of spirit 
about it, little concerning themselves whether they are paid 
or not, taking no care to go to their creditor, or to send to 
him ; and if they see him from time to time, they say nothing 
about their debts. 

Sometimes they neglect to pay their debts, because it 
would put them to some inconvenience. The reason why 
they do it not, is not because they cannot do it, but because 
they cannot do it so conveniently as they desire ; and so they 
rather choose to put their creditor to inconvenience by being 
without what properly belongs to him, than to put them- 
selves to inconvenience by being without what doth not be- 
long to them, and what they have no right to detain. In 
any of these cases they unjustly usurp the property of their 

Sometimes persons have that by them with which they 
could pay their debts if they would ; but they want to lay out 
their money for something else, to buy gay clothing for their 
children, or to advance their estates, or for some such end. 
They have other designs in hand, which must fail, if they pay 
their debts. When men thus withhold what is due, they un- 
justly usurp what is not their own. Sometimes they neglect* 
to pay their debts, and their excuse for it is, that their creditor 
doth not need it ; that he hath a plentiful estate, and can well 
bear to lie out of his money. But if the creditor be ever so 
rich, that gives no right to the debtor to withhold from him 
that which belongs to him. If it be due, it ought to be paid ; 
for that is the very notion of its being due. It is no more 
lawful to withhold from a man what is his due, without his 
consent, because he is rich and able to do without it, than it is 


lawful to steal from a man because he is rich, and able to hear 
the loss. 

Secondly, The second way wherein men usurp their 
neighbor's property is, by unjustly taking it from him. 

The principal ways of doing this seem to be these four, 
by negligence, by fraud, by violence, or by stealing, strictly 
so called. 

1 . The first way of unjustly depriving our neighbor of that 
which is his, is by negligence, by carelessly neglecting- that 
which is expected by neighbors, one of another, and is neces- 
sary to prevent our neighbor's suffering in his estate by us, 
or by any thing that is our's ; and necessary in order that 
neighbors may live one by another, without suffering in their 
lawful interests, rights and possessions, one by another. 

For instance, when proper care is not taken by men to 
prevent their neighbor's suffering in the produce of his fields 
or inclosures, from their cattle, or other brute creatures ; 
which may be either through negligence with regard to their 
creatures themselves, in keeping those that are unruly, and 
giving them their liberty, though they know that they are not 
fit to have their liberty, and are commonly wont to break into 
their neighbor's inclosures greatly to his damage ; or through 
a neglect of that which is justly expected of them, to defend 
others' fields from suffering by the neighborhood of their own. 
In such cases men are guilty of unjustly taking from their 
neighbor what is his property. 

It is said in the law of Moses, Exod. xxii. 5. "If a man 
shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his 
beast, and shall feed in another man's field ; of the best of his 
own field, and of the best of his vineyard shall he make resti- 
tution." Now a man may be unjustly the cause of his neigh- 
bor's field or vineyard being eaten, either by putting in his 
beast, and so doing what he should not do ; or by neglecting 
to do what he should do, to prevent his beast from getting in- 
to his field. What is said in the 144th Psalm, and two last 
verses, supposes that a people who carry themselves as be- 


comes a people whose God is the Lord, will take thorough; 
care that beasts do not break into their neighbor's inclos- 
ures : " That our oxen may be strong to labor ; that there 
be no breaking in, nor going out ; that there be no complain- 
ing in the streets. Happy is that people that is in such a 
case ; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord." 

2. Taking away that which is our neighbor's by fraud, or 
by deceiving him, is another mode of usurping our neighbor's 
property. This is the case, when men in their dealings take 
advantage of their neighbor's ignorance, or oversight, or mis- 
take, to get something from him ; or when they make their 
gains, by concealing the defects of -what they sell, putting off 
bad for good, though this be not done by speaking falsely, but 
only by keeping silence ; or when they take an higher price 
than what they sell is really worth, and more than they could 
get for it if the concealed defects were known ; or when they 
sell that for good, which indeed is not merchantable, which is 
condemned in Amos viii. 6. " Yea, and sell the refuse of the 

If a man puts off something to another with defects that 
are concealed, knowing that the other receives it as good, and 
pays such a price for it, under a notion of its having no ve- 
markable defect but what he sees, and takes the price which- 
the buyer under that notion offers ; the seller knows that he 
takes a price of the buyer for that which the buyer had not of 
him ; for the buyer is deceived, and pays for those things 
which he finds wanting in what he buys. It is just the same 
thing, as if a man should take a payment that another offers 
him, through a mistake, for that which he never had of him, 
thinking that he had it of him, when he had it not. 

So a man fraudulently takes away that which is his neigh- 
bor's, when he gets his money from him by falsely commend- 
ing what he hath to sell, above what he knows to be the true 
quality of it; and attributes those good qualities to it which 
he knows it has not : Or if he does not that, yet sets forth the 
good qualities in a degree beyond what he knows to be the: 
true degree ; or speaks of the defects and ili qualities of who 


lie has to sell, as if they were much less than he knows they 
are : Or, on the contrary, when the buyer will cry down what 
he is about to buy, contrary to liis real opinion of the value of 
it. ...These things, however common they be in men's deal- 
ings one with another, are nothing short of iniquity, and 
fraud, and a great breach of this commandment, upon which 
we are discoursing. Prov. xx. 14. " It is nought, it is 
nought, saith the buyer ; but when he is gone his way then 
he boasteth." 

Many other ways there are, whereby men blind and de- 
ceive one another in their trading, and whereby they fraud- 
ulently and unjustly take away that which is their neigh- 

3. Another mode of unjustly invading and taking away 
our neighbor's property, is by violence. This violence may 
be done in different degrees. 

(1.) Men may take away their neighbor's goods either by 
mere open violence, either making use of superior strength, 
forcibly taking away any thing that is his ; or by express or 
implicit threatenings forcing him to yield up what he has into 
their hands ; as is done in open robbery or piracy. Or, 

(2.) By making use of some advantages which they have 
over their neighbor, in their dealings with him, to constrain 
him to yield to their gaining unreasonably of him ; as when 
they take advantage of their neighbor's poverty to extort un- 
reasonably from him for those things that he is under a neces- 
sity of procuring for himself or family. This is an oppress- 
ion against which God hath shown a great displeasure in his 
word. Levit. xxv. 14. "And if thou sell ought unto thy 
neighboi-, or buyest ought of thy neighbor, ye shall not op- 
press one another." Prov. xxii. 22, 23. " Rob not the poor, 
because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in the gate : 
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the souls of those 
that spoiled them." And Amos iv. i. 2. " Hear this word, 
ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mount of Samaria, which 
oppress the pooi', which crush the needy, the Lord hath 


sworn in his holiness, that he will take you away with hooks, 
and your posterity with fish hooks." 

When the necessity of poor indigent people is the very 
thing whence others take occasion to raise the price of pro- 
visions, even above the market ; this is such an oppression. 
There are many poor people whose families are in such neces- 
sity for bread, that they,in theirextremity,will give almost any 
price for it, rather than go without it. Those who have to 
sell, though hereby they have an advantage in their hands, yet 
surely should not take the advantage to raise the price of pro- 
visions. We should doubtless think that we had just cause to 
complain, if we were in such necessity as they are, and were 
reduced to their straits, and were treated in this manner : 
And let us remember, that it is owing only to the distinguish- 
ing goodness of God to us, that we are not in their circum- 
stances ; and whatever our present circumstances are, yet we 
know not but that the time may still come when their case 
may be ours. 

Men may oppress others, though they be not poor, if they 
will take advantage of any particular necessities of their neigh- 
bor unreasonably to extort from him. The case may be so 
at particular seasons, that those who are not poor, may stand 
in particular and extraordinary need of what we have, or what 
we can do for them ; so that it would be greatly to their dis- 
advantage or loss to be without it. Now to take advantage of 
their urgent circumstances, to get from them an unreasona- 
ble price, is a violent dealing with our neighbors. 

It is very unreasonable talk to say, that such and such men 
are so rich, and get money so much more easily than I, that it 
is no hurt for me to take advantage when they are in special 
need, and make them give me, for work that I do for them, a 
great deal more than I would desire to ask of other men. Let 
such consider, whether, if they should by any means hereafter 
get forward in the world, and come to have plentiful estates, 
they would like that persons should act upon such principles 
towards them. That men are rich, gives us no more right to 
+ ake away from them what is their's in this way, than it does ta 
Vol. VIII. 3 N 


bteal from them, because they come easily by their property*, 
and can do without it better than we. 

Again, another thing that is a kind of violent taking from 
our neighbor what is his, is taking the advantage of the law to> 
gain from others, when their cause in honesty and conscience* 
is just and good. The circumstancesof mankind, their rights, 
possessions, and dealings one with another, are so various, that 
it is impossible that any body of human laws should be contriv- 
ed to suit all possible cases and circumstances. Hence the 
best laws may be abused and perverted to purposes contrary to 
the general design of laws, which is to maintain the rights and 
secure the properties of mankind. Human laws have a re- 
gard due to them, but always in subordination to the higher 
laws of God and nature. Therefore when it so happens, that 
we have an advantage by the law, to gain what the laws of 
moral honesty allow not, it is an oppression and violence to 
take the advantage. That human laws allow it, will not exr 
cuse us before God, the Judge of the world, who will judg^ 
us another day by his own laws, and not by the laws of the 

4. The fourth way of unjustly taking from our neighbor: 
that which is his, is stealing so called. All unjust ways of 
taking away, or invading, or usurping what is our neighbors, 
are called stealing in the most extensive use of the word, and 
all is included in the expression in this command, let the 
word stealing, as it is more commonly used, is not of so great 
extent, and intends not all unjust invasion of our neighbor's 
property, but only a particular kind of unjust taking. So that 
in common speech, when we speak of fraudulent dealings, of 
extortion, unfaithfulness in our trust, and of stealing, we un T 
derstand different sins by these expressions, though they are 
an usurpation of what is our neighbor's. 

Stealing, strictly so called, may be thus defined, A designed 
taking of our ?ieighbor'$ goods from him, without his consent or 
hiowledge. It is not merely a withholding of Avhat is our 
neighbor's, but a taking away ; and therein it differs from un- 
faithfulness in our undertakings and betrnstments, and als» 


fiom negligence in the payment of debts. It is a designed or 
'wilful depriving of our neighbor of what is his, and so differs 
from wronging our neighbor in his estate through carelessness 
or negligence. It is a taking of our neighbor's goods without 
his knowledge ; it is a private, clandestine taking away, and 
so differs from robbery by open violence. 

So also it differs from extortion ; for in that the person 
knows what is taken from him. The aim of him that takes, 
is no other than that he should know it ; for he makes use of 
other means than his ignorance, to obtain what is his neigh- 
bor's, viz. violence to constrain him to give it up. So also it 
differs from fraudulent dealing or trading. For though in 
fraudulent dealing, the lawful possessor doth not understand 
the way and means, by which he parts with his goods, and by 
which his neighbor becomes possessed of them ; yet he knows 
the fact : The deceiver designedly conceals the manner only. 
But in stealing, strictly so called, he that takes, intends not 
that it shall be known that he takes. It also differs from ex- 
tortion and fraudulent dealing, in that it is wholly without the 
consent of the owner. For in extortion, though there be no 
free consent ; yet the consent of the owner is in some sort 
gained, though by violent and oppressive means. So in fraud- 
ulent dealing consent is in some sort obtained, though it be by 
deceit. But in stealing no kind of consent is obtained. 

A person may steal from another, yet not take his goods 
without the knowledge of the owner ; because he may know 
of it accidentally, he may see what is done, unawares to the 
thief. Therefore I have defined stealing, a designed taking 
without the consent or knowledge of the owner. If it be ac- 
cidentally known, yet it is not known in the design and inten- 
tion of the thief. The thief is so-far at least private in it, that 
he gives no notice to the owner in the time of it. It must be 
also without the consent of the owner. A person may take 
without the knowledge of the owner, and yet not take withput 
his consent. The owner may not know of his taking at the 
time, or of his taking any particular things ; yet there may be 
his implicit consent. There may have been a general con- 


3ent, if not expressed, yet implied. The circumstances of the 
affair may be such, that his consent may well be presumed 
upon, either from an established custom, allowed by all, or 
from the nature of the case ; the thing being of such a nature, 
that it may weli be presumed that none would refuse their 
consent ; as in the case of a person's accidentally passing 
through his neighbor's vineyard in Israel, and eating his fill of 
grapes ; or from the circumstances of the persons, as is the 
case, in many instances, of the freedom which near neighbors 
and intimate friends often take, and of that boldness which 
they use with respect to each other's goods. 

In all such cases, though the owner do not particularly 
know what is done, yet he that takes, does it not with any con- 
trived, designed concealment. And though there is no ex- 
press, particular consent, yet there is a consent either impli- 
ed, or justly presumed upon ; and he that takes, doth not de- 
signedly and advertently do it without consent. 

It may happen in some cases, that one may take the goods 
of another, both without his knowledge and consent, either ex- 
plicit or implicit, but through mistake ; yet he may not be 
guilty of stealing. Therefore the design of him who takes 
must come into consideration. When he designedly takes 
away that which is his neighbor's without his consent or 
knowledge, then he steals. So that if it should happen, that 
he has both his consent and knowledge, without his design, 
he steals. And if it so happen that he takes without either 
his neighbor's consent or knowledge, and yet without his own 
design, he steals not. I define therefore that this, which I 
take to be the true definition of theft or stealing, may be borne 
in mind; viz. A designed taking of our neighbor's goods, with- 
out his consent or knowledge ; because it is needful to clear 
up many things which I have yet to say on this subject. 

Here I shall particularly take notice of some things, by 
which some persons may be ready to excuse themselves, in 
privately taking their neighbor's goods, which however can- 
not be a just excuse for it, nor will they make such a taking 
not to be stealing. 


1. That the person whose goods are privately taken, owes 
or is in debt to him that takes them. Possibly some may be 
ready to excuse a clandestine taking of their neighbor's goods, 
with this plea. They may be ready to say, that they do not 
take that which is their neighbor's, they take that which is 
their own, because as much is due to them, their neighbor 
owes them as much, and unjustly detains it, and they know 
not whether ever they shall get their due of him. Their 
neighbor wont do them right, and therefore they must right 

But such pleas as these will not justify a man in going in 
a private and clandestine manner to take away any thing of his 
neighbor's from his possession, without his consent or knowl- 
edge ; but nevertheless his doing this is properly stealing. 
For though something of his neighbor's, which is as valuable 
as what he takes, may be due to him ; that doth not give him 
such a right to his neighbor's goods, that he may take any 
thing that is his, according to his own pleasure, and at what 
time, and in what manner he pleases. That his neighbor is 
in debt to him, doth not give him a right to take it upon him- 
self to be his own judge, so that he may judge for himself, 
which of his neighbor's goods shall be taken from him to dis- 
charge the debt ; and that he may act merely acccording to 
his own private judgment and pleasure in such a case, without 
so much as acquainting his neighbor with the affair. 

In order to warrant such a proceeding as this, every thing 
that his neighbor has, must be his. A man may not take in- 
differently what he pleases out of a number of goods, without 
the consent or knowledge of any other person, unless all is 
his own, to be disposed of as he pleases. Such a way of using 
goods according to our own pleasure, taking what we will, 
and at what time we will, can be warranted by nothing but a 
dominion over the whole. And though he who is in debt may- 
be guilty of great injustice in detaining what is due to anoth- 
er ; yet it doth not thence follow, but that he that takes from 
him, may also be guilty of great injustice towards him. The 
course he takes to right himself may be very irregular and 


•unreasonable ; and such a course, that if universally allowed 
and pursued in such cases, would throw human society into 
con fu.- ion. 

When men obtain a property in any of the possessions of 
this life, at the sane time they are also invested with a right 
to remain in possession of them, till they are deprived of them 
in some fair and regular proceeding. Every man has a right 
to hold his estate, and keep possession of his rights and prop- 
erties, so that no other can lawfully use them as his own, un- 
til he either parts with them of his own accord, or until it be 
taken from him according to some established rule, in a way 
of open justice. Therefore he who, under pretence of having 
just demands upon his neighbor, privately takes his goods 
without his consent, lakes them un-justly, and is guilty of 

2. Much less will it make such a private taking not to be 
stealing, that he who takes, has, in way of kindness or gift, 
done for the person from whom he takes, as much as is equiv- 
alent to the value of what he takes. If a man do his neighbor 
some considerable kindness, whether in labor, or in some- 
thing that he gives him, what he does or gives is supposed to 
be done voluntarily, and he is not to make his neighbor debt- 
or for it ; and therefore if any thing be privately taken away, 
upon any such consideration, it is gross stealing. 

For instance, when any person needs to have any services 
done for him, where a considerable number of hands are nec- 
essary ; i : common for the neighborhood to meet together 
and join in helping their neighbor, and frequently some pro- 
vision is made for their entertainment. If any person who 
hath assisted on such an occasion, and is a partaker at such an 
entertainment, shall think within himself, The service I have 
done is worth a great deal more than what I shall eat and 
drink here, and therefore shall take liberty privately to take 
of the provision set before him, to carry away with him, pur- 
posely concealing the matter from him who hath entertained 
him, this is gross stealing ; and it is a very ridiculous plea 
which they make to excuse so unmanly and vile an act. 


Persons in such cases may say to themselves, that the pro 
•vision is made for them, and set before them; that it is a 
time wherein considerable liberty is given, and they think, 
seeing they have done so much for their host, they may take 
something more than they eat and drink there. But then let 
them be open in it; let them acquaint those with it who mako 
the entertainment ; and let it not be done in any wise, in a se- 
cret, clandestine manner, with the least design or attempt to 
avoid their notice : On the contrary, let care be taken to give 
them notice and obtain their consent. 

When persons do such things in a private manner, they 
condemn themselves by their own act ; their doing what they 
do secretly, shows that they are conscious themselves, that 
they go beyond what it is expected they should do, and do 
what would not be allowed, if it were known. Such an act, 
however light they may make of it, is abominable theft, and, 
what any person of religion or any sense of the dignity of their 
own nature, would to the greatest degree abhor and detest. 

3. It is not sufficient to make a private taking without con- 
sent, not to be stealing, that it is but a small matter that is 
taken. If the thing be of little value, yet if it be worth a pur- 
posed concealing from the owner, the value is great, enough 
to render the taking of it proper theft. If it be pretended that 
the thing is of so small consequence, that it is not worth ask- 
ing for ;, then surely it is not worth a purposed concealing 
from the owner, when it is taken. He who, under this pre- 
tence, conceals his taking, in the very act contradicts his own 
pretence ; for his action shows that he apprehends, or at least 
suspects, that, as small a matter as it is, the owner would not 
like the taking of it, if he knew it ; otherwise the taker would 
not desire to conceal it. 

The owner of any goods, and not other people, is the prop- 
er judge, whether what he owns be of such a value, that it is 
worth his while to keep it, and to refuse his consent to the tak- 
ing of it from him. He who possesses, and not he who takes 
away, has aright to judge of what consequence his posses- 
sions are to him. He has a right to set what value he pleas.- 

496 the sin of theft 

es on them, and to treat them according to that value. Be- 
side, merely that a thing is of small value, cannot give a right 
to others, purposely and designedly to take it away, without 
the knowledge or consent of the owner. Because if this only 
gives a right, then all have a right to take things of small val- 
ue ; and at this rate a great number of persons, each of them 
taking from a man that which is of small value, might take 
away all he has. 

Therefore, it will not justify persons, in going purposely 
to take such things as fruit from the trees, or gardens, or 
fields of their neighbors, without their knowledge or consent, 
that the things which they take are things of small value ; 
nor is that sufficient to render such an act, not an act of theft, 
properly so called. This shows also that the smallenss of the 
value of what is privately taken at feasts and entertainments, 
doth not render the taking of such things, not stealing. 

The small value of a thing may in some cases justify an 
occasional taking of things, so far as we may from thence, and 
from what is generally allowed, reasonably presume that the 
owner gives his consent. But if that be the case, and persons 
really take, as not supposing any other than that the owner 
consents to such occasional taking, then he that takes will not 
at all endeavor to do what he does secretly, nor in any meas- 
ure to avoid notice. But merely the smallness of the value of 
a thing, can never justify a secret taking of what is another's, 


I. The first use I would make of this doctrine, is to warn 
against all injustice and dishonesty, as to what appertains to 
our neighbor's temporal goods or possessions. Let me warn 
all to avoid all ways of unjustly invading or usurping what is 
their neighbor's, and let me press that exhortation of the 
apostle, Rom. xii. 17. "Provide things honest in the sight 
of all men;" which implies, that those things which we pro- 


vide for ourselves, and use as our own, should be such as we 
come honestly by ; and especially that we should avoid all 
clandestine or underhand ways of obtaining any thing that is 
our neighbor's, either by fraudulent dealing, or by that taking 
without our neighbor's knowledge and consent, of which we 
have been speaking. 

I warn you to beware of dishonesty in withholding what 
is your neighbor's, either by unfaithfulness to your trust in 
any business which you undertake, or by withholding your 
neighbor's just and honest dues. Consider that saying of the 
apostle, Rom. viii. 8. " Owe no man any thing, but to love 
one another." Be also warned against wronging your neigh- 
bor or injuring him in his inclosures, or in any of his just 
rights and properties, through careless neglect of what is 
reasonably expected by neighbors one of another, in order 
that they may live one by another without mutual injury. 
Let all beware that they bring not guilt on their souls in the 
sight of God, by taking an advantage to oppress any person. 
Especially beware of taking advantage of others' poverty to 
extort from them : For God will defend their cause, and you 
will be no gainers by such oppression. 

Beware also of all injustice by deceitful and fraudulent 
dealing. Many of you have much to do with others in a way 
of traffic in buying and selling. You doubtless meet with 
abundance of temptation to fraud, and have need to keep a 
strong guard upon yourselves. There are many temptations 
to false speaking in trading, to speaking that which is false, 
both about what you would buy and what you have to sell. 
There are, in buying, temptations to do as in Prov. xx. 14. 
" It is nought, it is nought, saith the buyer." There are ma- 
ny temptations to take indirect courses, to blind those with 
whom you deal, about the qualities of what you have to sell, 
to diminish the defects of your commodities, or to conceal 
them, and to put off things for good, which are bad. And 
there are doubtless many other ways that men -meet with 
temptations to deceive others, which your own experienrr 
Will better suggest to you than I can. 
Vol. VIII. 3 O 


But here I shall take occasion to speak of a particular kind 
of fraud, which is very aggravated, and is rather a defrauding 
of God than man. What I mean is, the givirg of that which 
is bad for good in public contributions. Though it be matter 
of great shame and lamentation, that it should be so in such a 
place as this ; yet it is to be feared, from what has sometimes 
been observed, that there are some persons among us, who, 
when there is a public contribution to be attended for the 
poor, or some other pious and charitable use, do sometimes 
take that opportunity to put off their bad money. That which 
they find, or think, their neighbors will refuse to take at 
their hands, because they will have opportunity to see what 
is offered them, and to observe the badness of it, even that 
they therefore take opportunity to put off to God. 

Hereby they save their credit ; for they apprehend that 
they shall be concealed. They appear with others to go 
to the contribution, and it is not known, but that they put 
in that which is good. But they cheat the church of God ? 
and defraud the expectations of the poor : Or rather they 
lie to God : For those who receive what is given, stand 
as Christ's receivers, and not as acting for themselves in this 

They that do thus, do that which is very much of the 
same nature with that sin, against which God denounces that 
dreadful curse in Mai. i 14. " Cursed be the deceiver which 
hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the 
Lord a corrupt thing : For I am a great King, saith the 1 ord 
of Hosts, and my name is dreadful among the Heathen." 
That hath in his flock a male, i. e. That has in his flock that 
which is good and fit to be offered to God : For it was the 
male of the flock principally that was appointed, in the law of 
Moses, to be offered in sacrifice to God. He has in his flock 
that which is good, but he vows and sacrifices to the Lord, 
« the torn, the lame, and the uck," as it is said in the forego- 
ing verse ; " ye said also, Behold what a weariness is it, and 
ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of Hosts ; aid ye brought 
that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick ; thus ye 


til-ought an offering : Should I accept this of your hands ? 
saith the Lord. 

Contributions in the Christian church come in the room 
of sacrifices in the Jewish church : Mercy comes in the 
room of sacrifice. And what is offered in the way of mercy 
is as much offered to God, as the sacrifices of old were. For 
what is done to the poor is done to Christ, and he that hath 
pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord ; Prov. xix. 1 7. The 
Jews that offered the sick and lame of the flock, knew that if 
they had offered it to their governor, and had attempted to 
put it off, as part of the tribute or public taxes due to their 
earthly rulers, it would not be accepted, and therefore they 
were willing to put it off to God, as in the 8th verse of this 
chapter : " And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not 
evil ? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil ? Offer 
it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee, or ac- 
cept thy person ? saith the Lord of Hosts." 

So those persons who purposely put bad money into con- 
tributions, know that what they put in would not be accepted 
if they should offer it to pay their public taxes. Yea, they 
know that their neighbors would not accept it off their hands : 
And therefore they are willing to save themselves, by putting 
it off to God. 

This practice is also very much of the nature of the sin of 
Annanias and Sapphira. What they offered was by way of 
contribution for charitable uses. The brethren sold what 
they had, and brought it into a common stock, and put all un- 
der the care of deacons, that the. poor might every one be 
supplied. Annanias and Sapphira brought a part of their 
possessions, and put it into the common stock ; and their sin 
was, that they put it in for more than it really was. It was 
but a part of what they had, and they put it in, and would have 
it accepted, as if it had been all. So those among us, of 
whom I am speaking, put off what they put into the charita- 
ble stock, for more than it is. For they put it in, under the 
notion that it is something of some value ; they intend it 


shall be so taken by the church that sees them go to the con- 
tribution, when indeed they put in nothing at all. 

Annanias and Sapphira were charged with lying to God, 
and doing an act of fraud towards God himself, in what they 
did : Acts v. 4. " While it remained, was it not thine own ? 
And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power i Why 
hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart ? Thou hast not 
lied unto men, but unto God." So those who knowingly put 
bad money for good into a contribution for a charitable use, a9 
much as in them lies commit an act of fraud and deceit to- 
wards God. For the deacons who receive what is contribut- 
ed, receive it not in their own names, but as Christ's receivers. 
I hope these things may be sufficient to have said on this 
head, and enough to deter every one from ever daring to do 
Such a thing for the future. 

Again, another thing I would warn you against, is, steal- 
ing, properly and strictly so called ; or designedly taking 
away any of your neighbor's goods without his consent or 
knowledge. And especially I would now take occasion to 
warn against a practice which is very common in the country, 
particularly among children and young people : And that is, 
stealing fruit from their neighbor's trees or inclosu res. There 
is a licentious liberty taken by many children and young peo- 
ple, in making bold with their neighbor's fruit ; and it is to 
be feared, that they are too much countenanced in it by their 
parents and many elder people. 

I am sensible, that the great thing which is pleaded, and 
made very much the ground of this liberty which is taken, 
and so much tolerated, is a very abusive and unreasonable 
construction and application of that text of scripture in Deut. 
xxiii. 24. " When thou comest into thy neighbor's vineyard, 
then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill. But thou shalt not put 
any in thy vessel." Because this text seems to be so much 
mistaken and misimproved, I shall therefore endeavor partic- 
ularly to state the matter of persons taking their neighbor's 
fruit, and to set it in a just and clear light as concerning this, 


1. I shall show what the liberty was which was giv- 
en in it. 

2. What the ground of that liberty was. 

3. What would, and what would not, be parallel with it, 
among us. 

? . I am to show what the liberty was which was given in 
this text. It was to eat their fill of grapes when they occa- 
sionally ctme into, or passed through, their neig.iboi's vine- 
yard, and not tliut they should go thither on purpose to eat 
grapes. This is manifest by the manner of expression : 
« When thou comest into thy neighbor's vineyard, thou may- 
est eat ;" i. e. when thou art come thither on some other oc- 
casion. If God had meant to give them leave to come thith- 
er on purpose, for no other end, it would not have been ex- 
pressed so ; but rather thus, Thou mayest come into thy 
neighbor's vineyard, and eat grapes thy fill. 

2. I shall show what must be supposed to be the grounds 
of this liberty ; which were these two things : 

(1 .) That such were the circumstances of that people, and 
vineyards among them were so common, that there was no 
danger that this liberty would be attended with ill conse- 
quence. It is manifest throughout the history of Israel, that 
vineyards among them were so common that the people in 
general had them. Every husbandman among them was a