A SERMON Preach'd to the SOCIETIES FOR Reformation of Manners, IN THE Cities of London and Westminster, AT SALTERS-HALL, Aug. 15. 1698.

Preached and Published at the desire of the said SOCIETIES.

By VINCENT ALSOP.

LONDON: Printed for Iohn Lawrence, at the Angel in the Poultry, MDCXCVIII.

To the WORTHY GENTLEMEN Engag'd in the SOCIETIES FOR Reformation of Manners.

Honoured Sirs!

THE Preaching, Printing, Pub­lishing this Discourse, is due both to God, and you: He gave the Commission, you ministred the Occasion: [Page] The Authority is from Heaven, the Oppor­tuity from your selves. It would therefore be a piece of Impertinent Modesty, and such whose sincerity you might well question, should I frame an excuse for doing that, for which I could have made no excuse had I not done it. What will Iustify me, will Vindicate you, for both of us owe a duty to God, and perishing Souls, to pluck them like Brands out of the Fire, upon whom the Wrath of God, and the Malice of Hell, have begun to kindle; if at least our God will honour us, and use us as his Instruments in so Blessed a Work: I know well that they who most need our Help will least accept it; nay, most de­sperately oppose it: But it's a charitable Se­verity to bind the hands of the Distracted, though they rage at, and revile us, to pre­vent if possible their destroying themselves.

I know also that the Persons with whom you deal, will imperiously demand, By what Authority you do these Things, and who gave you this Authority? Now tho' you might retort their Question: By what Au­thority do you Curse, Swear, Blaspheme, and Prophane the Lord's Day? And who gave you this Authority? Yet seeing the most no­torius Crimes committed against the Laws [Page] Divine and Humane, ought to be Punisht in a Legal and Regular Way, however they be, illegal and irregular, you need not insist up­on that Answer: Nor yet upon extraordina­ry examples to justify your ordinary Procee­dings; you need not plead the Zeal of Phi­neas, or Samuel; your Cause and Practise need no such Defences: That Law which Enacts that such an Ossence shall be punished with such a Penalty, limiting the Convicti­on of the Offender to the Deposition of one or more Witnesses is your clear Warrant, and abundant Iustification; for if there were no Witnesses, it would be the same as if there were no Laws, no Penalties: And because that which is every Man's Business is no Man's Business, you may honestly agree, that where any shall dare to Transgress, you will dare to impeach the Transgressor: It were a hard Case if Men might associate and com­bine for Sinning, and none might unite in Societies for Reforming.

I remember a time when the Name of an Informer suffered some disrepute: But it's unjust that you should fall under their Re­proach, for a slender understanding is able to distinguish between Praying to God, and Blaspheming Him; between Sanctifying the [Page] Lords Day and Profaning it; between set­ting up the Devils Kingdom, and pulling it down. There is a Text, which having been sometimes abused in the Pulpit, and oft-times exposed by the Press, must not be quoted without some Preface to remove Prejudice, though it stands legible in our Bibles to this day: Tis Iudg. 5.23. Curse ye Meroz, (said the Angel of the Lord) Curse ye bit­terly the Inhabitants thereof, because they came not out to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the Mighty. Say not, God needs none of our Help: Tho his Ene­mies are mighty, yet in their closest Confe­deracies, and strongest Combinations, they cannot make up one Almighty Enemy, and God can plead his own Cause, and avenge his own Honour upon them without our over-officious assistance: 'Tis true, if we consider his Absolute Power, he needs no Kings, nor Princes, nor inferiour Magistrates to come in as his Auxiliaries; He can with more ease kill the Murderer, than he could his weaker Brother: choak the Blasphemer with his own Blasphemies, and stifle the Swearer with his own poisonous breath: But he has seen Good to chuse other Methods in which, other Means by which to govern his own [Page] World: As Kings Reign by Him, he go­verns by them by Legislators and their Laws; Iudges and their Sentences, Ma­gistrates and their Executions; in a Word, He governs the Physical World in a Physical way; the Moral World Morally; the Spi­ritual World Spiritually.

But still you persist, and say: God needs none of our help: No more does Christ need your Relief: And yet God calls for our help, Christ for our Relief: And they both need what they call for; God needs help in his despised Cause: Christ needs Relief in his poor distressed Members: and in these re­spects none needs help more than God: None Relief more than Christ.

Now as God calls for our help, he does it under a dreadful Curse; and I hope none of us will venture to stand in the Line & Rake of Heavens Artillery: For God sometimes steps out of the ordinary Road, and pu­nishes daring Sinners by the immediate Hand of Heaven, that he may, by some few but notable Instances, convince the World that he has not forsaken it, but regards Mischief, and Spight, with his Eyes, to punish them with his Hand. Thus when Nadab, and Abihu, offer'd [Page] strange Fire to God, which he comman­ded them not, he consumed them with strange Fire which they expected not: Levit. 10.2. And when Ananias and Saphira dared to commit Sacriledge, and palliate their Sin with a Lie, Christ struck 'em both dead in a moment, Acts 5.

Gentlemen,

God needs your Help, he bespeaks it, of­fer your selves willingly to his Call: And yet your Case is much the same with that of the Disciples, Matth. 14.24. when the Ship (in which they were) was in the mid'st of the Sea, toss'd with the Waves because the Wind was contrary. You see they went to Sea by Christ's commission; nay, by his compulsion, v. 22. He constrained them to get into a Ship: They were in the clear way of their Duty, and yet they met with a Storm; and the Winds were not only high, but contrary; and yet they had some great Encouragements, first, that whil'st they were in the Storm at Sea, Christ was Pray­ing in the Mount, v. 23. And then that in the fourth Watch of the Night, Jesus went unto them walking on the Sea: When Night was darkest, the Storm high­est, [Page] their Fear greatest, and their Faith weakest, then was the season for Christ's coming: But their greatest trouble was, that Christ came to deliver them walking upon the Sea; which though it might have been their greatest Comfort, that their Lord was above the Waves, and had them under his Feet, yet they cry'd out for fear: Were more afraid of their Deliverer, than of their Danger: So true it is, that God comes sometimes to save us in such uncouth Ways, that we are afraid of his Way and Means more than the Tempest.

But fear not the Devil, though he roars and rages, I would hope his time is but short when he rages most: For thus when Christ came to eject and disposses him, Mark 9.20. the evil spirit tare the young Man.

Let me seriously advise you from what point of the Compass you may expect the greatest Danger, and I will conclude.

Your great Danger will arise from those publick Nurseries, and Seminaries of De­bauchery: Where Fools make a mock of Sin, and a mock at all Sobriety; who de­bauch more in one Night than you reform in a Year: You may prune off some few luxuri­ating branches of Impiety, but till God shall [Page] cut up the Tree by the roots, they will spring again thicker and stronger: Pull up what you can, these Nurseries will replenish all again: For here that Art and My­stery of Sinning is taught, as if it were a science to be Prophane; and if the Chri­stian Religion have not power and interest enough to suppress them, they will suppress all Religion: But I must leave the Blasting of these, and the Blessing of you to Him, who loves Righteousness, and hates all Iniquity. I am,

Gentlemen,
Your Faithful Servant in the Work of the Lord, V. A.

A SERMON Preached to the SOCIETIES FOR Reformation of Manners.

Isaiah 1.6. From the sole of the Foot to the Head there is no soundness in it, but Wounds and Bruises, and putrifying Sores, they have not been closed, nor bound up, nor mollified with Oyntment.’

THESE words describe the dan­gerous, if not desperate State of Iudah and Ierusalem: 'Tis true, it was the case of a People some thousands [Page 2] Years ago; but whether it may agree, or how far it may agree to the present state of Things among our selves, I must leave to your serious and impartial Judgments.

The Evils here bewailed, and complai­ned of, had these several Aggravations to render them deplorable, and almost in­curable.

  • 1. That they had overspread the whole Body from the sole of the Foot to the Head: And thus it is exprest, v. 5. The whole Head is sick, and the whole Heart is faint: Now whether we may from the order of the words infer, that this Corruption began at the Foot, a­mongst the Populacy, and from thence rose up to the nobler parts, the Heart, and Head, I shall not determin: Most cer­tain it is, that in the Body Natural, a vitiated Stomach disturbs the Head with Vapours; and that again pours down showers of Rheums upon the Stomach; so the depravations of the inferiours will creep up amongst superiours, and the Vitiousness of Superiours will proba­bly descend to the Commonalty.
  • 2. There was a Concurrence and Com­plication of all manner of Evil, Wounds, [Page 3] Bruises, putrifying Sores; which though they be Metaphorical Terms, are yet so easy and natural that they interpret them­selves: In a word; Evils political and moral; Sin and Punishment; a People breaking out upon God, and God break­ing out upon them; their lifting up their hand against God, and his laying a heavy hand upon them, sore Provoca­tions, and sore Afflictions, are the things which fill up these expressions.
  • 3. That which rendered the case most deplorable, was, that these Wounds were not closed, nor bound up, nor molli­fied with Oyntments, which implies (1.) either that there was no private charitable Hand, that would concern it self; but a poor Nation might bleed to Death, and no good Samaritan would do that Of­fice of Love to bind up its Wounds, or (2.) that there was no hand of Authority stretched out to apply more potent Re­medies, or (3.) that they judged the case was desperate and the wounds incurable; and therefore thought it more advisable, to let the Patient die of its Disease or Wounds, than by its Physician, or Sur­geon. Or (4.) whether they presumed [Page 4] the Kingdom was of a sound Constituti­on, and would work it self whole in time; or (5.) whether all means that had been used proved ineffectual, the Evil would not obey any Applications, but despised the most potent and proper Re­medies; yet so it was, the Wounds were become Ulcers, the Sores putrifying Sores; no Oyntments would mollify them, or no gentle skilful Hand would apply them.

Such was their Case; and it must be confess'd it was a deplorable one, and had been utterly desperate, but for some small hope, yet left upon one account; v. 9. Except the Lord of Hosts had left us a very little Remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah; like for Sin, and like for Punishment, but God had graciously left a Remnant, a little, a very little Remnant; a praying Remnant that yet solicited Hea­ven for Remedy when there was none on Earth; a sound sincere and uncorrupted Remnant, that laboured to give some check to the growing Corruptions, and such a Remnant would have saved So­dom, [Page 5] and might yet save Iudah and Ieru­salem.

The words thus opened, and cleared, afford us this

OBSERVATION. The case of a People is deplorable and almost desperate, when they are so universally corrupted, and their Cor­ruptions so obstinate that they will not obey the most proper and potent Means of Reformation.

In all Diseases of the Natural Body we account those the most fatal symptoms of Death; when the Distemper defies the most soveraign Remedies; especially when it perverts all Medicines in materi­am, & fomitem morbi; when Physick be­comes the food of the Malady; and the Disease is so strong that it seduces the Re­medy to its own faction; to which we may add, when the deluded Patient can­not be perswaded he is Sick, and needs the Advice and help of the Physician: How dangerous then, how desperate is the Case of a Political Body, when Pro­faneness [Page 6] grows more Profane by Corrup­tion and Correction; when those Re­bukes which should reclaim the Swearer, provoke him to Swear the more; which the Prophet (v. 5.) declares to have been the case of Iudah, Why should ye be stricken any more, ye will Revolt more and more?

This Observation I will endeavour to manage in this Method.

  • I. I will shew when the Case of a People may be said to be deplorable, and whence it is that their Corruptions became so in­curable.
  • II. What it is that renders the Case of a People so deplorable, when their Cor­ruptions are become incurable.
  • III. What may further be done (if a­ny thing may be done) when a Peo­ples Corruptions are become, or seem to become incurable? Which will lead us to the Improvement of the whole.

I. When the Case of a People may be said to be Deplorable, and whence it is that their Corruptions become so incura­ble.

(1.) The Corruptions of a People be­come incorrigible incurable by Inveterate Custom: When Immoralities by long standing have taken deep root, as a green Wound by neglect grows into an old ob­stinate Ulcer: Verecunda sunt scelerum in­itia; the first beginnings of Prophane­ness are a little modest; but frequent Practise renders it impudent. As long custom in Sin takes away the sense of it in the Conscience, so it takes away the shame of it before Men. Those Impieties which once sought the Twy-light, nay the Mid-night, in process of time will face the Sun, and defy the Mid-day. That Text 1 Thes. 5.7. The that are Drunk, are Drunk in the Night, was calculated for another Meridian than that of Ierusalem; for Men would then dare to be Drunk in the open Day; of which the Prophet complains, Isa. 3.9. The shew of their Countenance doth witness against them, they declare their Sin as Sodom, they hide it not. And the Prophet Ieremiah bewails the same Audaciousness of Sinners, Ier. 8.15. Were they ashamed when they had committed Abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: Their [Page 8] Consciences were Steel'd, and their Faces were Case harden'd; they had lost all sense of Sin in their own Souls, and all shame of it before the World; and that Man, that People, which have lost all Shame, are utterly lost as to any hope of Reformation.

Those Sins which at their first appear­ance would humbly plead for some miti­gation of Punishment, when they are Flesh'd, and Flush'd with long usage will insist upon justification of themselves, and their plea is from prescription.

Those Immoralities which might easily have been crusht in the Egg, when time has hatcht them, will break out into a Cockatrice: Those sparks which might with ease have been stifled; by Neglect and Connivance will become a Flame, and defy all our Engins. The first breakings in of the Sea, may be soon stopped, but when it has gotten head, will not be re­duced without great Labour, and Charge, if it will be reduced by them.

(2.) The Vniversality of the over­spreading Corruption renders the Case yet more deplorable if not desperate. As when the Pestilence first appears, the shut­ting [Page 9] up of one infected House, may pro­bably secure thousands, but if it once be­comes Epidemical; when it has invaded a whole City, when the Sound are not able to govern the Infected, and perhaps its not known who are Sound, who are Infected, and so a promiscuous Conver­sation is allowed, or cannot be hindred, the Case is then Hopeless and Despe­rate.

Now in the Case of universal Degene­racy, if we attempt a Reformation, it must either be by Advice and Reproof, or Punishment: But 1. Reproof and Counsel give us little hope; because the Corrupt Majority will easily scorn the mildest ad­vice, and sharpest Reproof of the Soun­der few: Which was the wretched Case of Sodom. Gen. 19.4.The Men of Sodom compassed the House, both old and young, all the People from every quarter. Here was a City universally Debauched, all Ages, all Quarters were involved in the common Villany, and when Lot ventured to reprove them mildly, alas! too mildly; for his expedient was the same they use at Rome, and upon the same ground, who allow or tolerate the [Page 10] Stews to prevent a greater Evil. Now observe what success his Counsel had up­on these obstinate Wretches, v. 9. They said stand back; and they said again, this one Fellow came to sojourn, and he will be a Iudge; now will we deal worse with thee than with them: Whence you may easily note, I. That they thought it a justifia­ble Plea, that there was but one single Reprover against multitudes of Trans­gressors: And a single Reformer may as well hope to Stemm the Tide with his strength, or to repel the Wind with his own breath, as to shock an universal De­luge of prevailing Abominations. 2. That the Corrupt Majority instead of submitting to the Reproofs of the Mino­rity, will rather punish the Reprovers: Now will we deal worse with thee than with them. 3. That the greater Number will defend it self well enough by keeping out of the way of Conviction, for they that have too little Grace to Reform themselves, will have so much wit to keep out of the reach of the Means of Re­formation; if they can but keep them­selves secure from the Magistrates War­rant being served upon their Persons, [Page 11] they will keep themselves safe from the Warrant of Gods Word ever being served upon their Consciences:

2d. Nor Secondly can we hope for much success where the Wickedness is u­niversal from legal Punishment, because the Punishing the diffusive Body, would be next to the depopulating a whole Na­tion: Sinners defend each other by their Numbers, being closely united in a com­mon Confederacy against God, and their own Souls. They are like the Scales of the Leviathan, Job 41.15, 16. Whose Scales are his Pride, shut up together as with a close Seal; one is so near ano­ther that no Air can come between them; they are joined one to another, they stick together that they cannot be sundered: Which was the Observation of the Satyrist: ‘Defendit numerus, janctae (que) umbone pha­langes. Juven.

(3.) That which renders this Univer­sal and Inveterate Prophaneness more in­curable, is when its patroniz'd by great [Page 12] Examples; for as Holy Bernard observes, Men will go, non qua eundum, sed qua itur, not which way God commands them, but which way their Superiours Examples lead them:

If the Master will Swear, the Servant thinks he has a good Warrant for his Swearing: If a Minister will Drink, his Hearers will be Drunk: If a Magistrate will Prophane the Lord's Day, the Peo­ple will quote his Example, and justify their practice by it; for they live by Precedent, not Precept.

The scandalous Sins of Superiours carry in them both a strong Temptation to, and a plausible Iustification of those Sins. A Strong Temptation; because most Men, whose hearts are not established with Grace, nor possessed with the fear of God, besides the humour of sinful compliance, and accommodating themselves to the Vanities of great Men, do study to insi­nuate themselves into their favour, in hopes of some notable Advantage by their Obsequiousness. Thus Haman when a great Honour was but once mentioned by Ahasuerus, Esth. 6.6. said in his heart, To whom would the King delight to do honour [Page 13] more than to my self? for having wrought himself into the King's affections he con­cluded that the first Preferment which fell, would certainly drop into his Mouth. And so also it affords a fair Iu­stification, Shall I be Wiser than my Tea­chers? Holier than my Governours? More Precise than my Betters? May-I not go as near the brink of the Pit and never fall in, as my Superiours? Shall I be a [...]recisian when the Grandees are La­titudinarians? Can I think there can be Poison in that Dish that comes from my Lord's Table? And why should I be stiff, and morose, when he that affrights me from Sin by his Preaching, invites me to it by his Example? Let us never dream that Reformation will make any conside­rable progress in a degenerate Age, till God shall send us Holy Magistrates, who by their Regular Examples shall invite us to Reform, as well as by the secular Arm, punish those that Transgress. For

  • 1. How is it possible that Person should heartily punish an Offender for that Crime of which his own Conscience accuses him to be guilty, Rom. 2.1. For [Page 14] when he judgeth another he condemneth himself, for doing the same thing.
  • 2. But if the Law obliges him to pu­nish an Offender under a severe Penalty to himself, which he would not willing­ly incur, and yet he cannot fairly avoid: His partiality will teach him to invent a thousand Evasions, either by brow beat­ing the Witness, or finding some flaw in the Evidence, or some creep-hole in the Law, so that all endeavours for [...]efor­mation shall be defeated, and made inef­fectual.

(4.) That which renders Debauchery incorrigible, is to Punish it, meerly as a violation of a Human Law.

The Authority of God is infinitely greater than that of any Human Legisla­tor, and so does His Threatnings carry a greater Terror, and strikes a greater Awe upon the Conscience: If therefore we wave the Divine Authority in the Pre­ceptive part, and conceal the Divine San­ction in the Comminatory part, the Offender has no more to contend with than the Authority of Man, and what Punish­ments he can devise and inflict.

The great end of Human Laws for Reformation of Offences against the Moral Law, is to apply the Law of God, and set it home by Punishment upon the Con­science.

Suppose we would lay the Penalty of the Law upon one that profaneth the Lord's Day, in the mean time denying the Morality of the fourth Commandment, what a slender Business should we make of it? He that denys the Ius Divinum, does in effect repeal the Ius Humanum too, for thus the Transgressor argues: If I can either escape the Temporal Penalty by secrecy; or satisfy the Law by a poor Mulct, I need not tremble at the future Judgment, or that I shall stand befor the Tribunal of God for the breach of a Law, which is not immediately his own.

The Apostle therefore in that great Question about Subjection to the higher Powers, charges it upon the Souls of Men, Rom. 13.5. Ye must needs be sub­ject not only for Wrath, but for Conscience sake: That is, you are under an Obli­gation to obey not only on the ac­count of what Man can threaten or [Page 16] inflict, but out of Conscience of the Authority which God has over you, and that dreadful Penalty which he can lay upon you.

And thus in a few particulars I have shewed whence it is that National Cor­ruptions become so incorrigible, 1. From Inveterate Customs. 2. Universality of the Contagion. 3. The Patronage of great Examples. 4. That Humane Laws are not seconded and back'd by the Law of God.

II. What is it that renders the Case of a People so deplorable when their Corruptions are become incurable?

(1.) It looks very black upon a Peo­ple when Profaneness grows very incor­rigible, and scorns to obey the proper Remedies, because God will soon be weary of using further means to Reform them, and leave them to their own croo­ked and perverse inclinations.

'Tis the saddest Threatnings when God will threaten no more: the forest Punish­ment, when God will Punish no more: And though the Debauched World could [Page 17] be content, that he would spare both, and let 'em alone, they will soon find it had been their true Interest to have continued under his Discipline, and re­claiming Methods than to have been left to themselves, and their own foolish ways.

Let us consult that terrible Word: Hosea 4.1, 2, 3, 4. The Lord hath a Controversy with the Inhabitants of the Land, because there is no Truth, nor Mer­cy, nor Knowledge of God in the Land, By Swearing, and Lying, and Killing, and Stealing, they break out, and Blood toucheth Blood; therefore shall the Land mourn, &c. This is terrible, but the most terrible Judgment is that of the 17th v. Ephraim is joined to Idols, let him alone. 'Tis as if a Chirurgeon when he sees an inveterate Ulcer become ob­stinate, and will submit to no Reme­dies, should say, What my Art could promise or perform is done, but I see my skill is baffled, my patience wearied, my hope defeated, and the gangrened part must be cut off, or the Patient perish.

Whilst God will practise upon a Peo­ple, there's some hope of a blessed Issue at [Page 18] last: But if once he throws up his Care, we may throw up the hopes of a Cure; & God is pleased sometimes to express him­self, as if he despair'd of effecting a thoro' Cure, Isa. 1.5. Why should you be smitten any more, ye will revolt more and more? All my Blows are but like those upon the Anvil, which make it still harder: And this was the desperate Case of Israel, Ps. 81.11, 12. My People would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me, so I gave them up to their own hearts Lusts, and they walked in their own Counsels. How dreadful then is the Case of a People when God shall cease to inflict Temporal Judg­ments, and leave them to their own Hearts Lusts and Ways, which is the greatest of Spiritual Judgments, and the fore-runner of Eternal Judgments.

(2.) The Case is Deplorable when God's own Servants, whom He im­ploys as his Instruments to Reform the Degenerate Age, shall meet with those Discouragements, that they are ready to throw it up as desperate.

And to this pass have the Prophets been reduced, Jer. 20.8. I cried out Violence and Spoil, because the Word of the Lord was made a Reproach to me, and a Derision daily. Then I said: I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His Name. When the Word of the Lord, the Preaching of it, and the Preachers of it shall be­come a Derision; when Sinners are got into the Chair of the Scornful, they can rise no higher: And when the Ministers of that Word shall re­sent this Treatment so tenderly that they resolve to Preach no more, and their Faith can sink no lower, what must the end of these Things be?

I would willingly look upon it as a Token for Good from God, that he has raised up such Instruments, who out of Zeal to his Interest, have laid out themselves with unwearied Dili­gence to reduce the Prophane to some tolerable Consistency with the Profes­sion of the Christian Religion, but if we should see them despond, their hearts faint and fail within them, because little or no success answers their pious endea­vours, [Page 20] and to hear them cry out, Lord what wouldst thou have us further to do? For Ps. 11.3. If the foundati­ons be destroyed, what can the Righteous do? Why surely no more than, good Fehoshaphat, 2 Chro. 20.12. We know not what to do, but our Eyes are towards thee: Either to tell us what thou wouldst have us do, or because we can do no­thing more, to take thy Work out of our Hands into thy own and do it, who only canst do it effectually thy self.

The Servants of Christ are some­times reduced to that extremity to which the Mariners were, Acts 27.15. When the Ship was caught, and could no longer bear up into the Wind, we let her drive: We may conceive the Master of the Vessel speaking to his Passen­gers thus, Friends, I had hoped to have weathered this Storm, but I can do no more, and must now commit our selves and the Vessel, to the merciless Mercy of the Winds, and Waves, and let her run a Drift! Such is the Language of some of Christ's faithful Servants in the Work of Reformation; Holy Lord, [Page 21] thou hast sent us forth upon thy Work: No sooner were we Lanched out into the Deep, but a sore Tempest fell up­on us: We have laboured against the Wind with what Skill and Resoluti­ion thou gavest us: But we are over­set, and now commit the Church, that Vessel, in which all thy concerns in this World are ventured, to thy own Conduct: Yet will we not utterly give out, but in hope labour against hope, leav­ing the issue of all to thy Holy Will, and Wisdom: The Vessels are thine, thy Concerns are in it, it cannot to­tally be Ship-wreck'd; howsoever we will not use the expedient of the Cock­Boat, Except we abide in the Ship we cannot be saved.

(3.) And it speaks the Case more Hazardous, and as to Humane Reason desperate, when the wise God has run through a Course of Means to Reform a Nation, and yet the symptoms are as Threatning as ever, so that God is pleased to speak as if he were at a loss what further to do for their Refor­mation. Hos. 6.4. O Ephraim, what [Page 22] shall I do to thee? O Judah, what shall I do to thee? I have proved thee with Mercies, I have tryed thee with Judg­ments, with War and Peace, with Plenty, with Scarcity. When I indul­ged thee abundance of Corn, and Wine, and Oil: It was perverted into Luxu­ry, Riot, Wantonness: When I hum­bled thee with a little Scarcity, no­thing was heard but Repining and Murmuring: When I let loose upon thee a dreadful War, thou wouldst not make Peace with thy God. When I restored Peace, thou still maintained a War with Heaven: The Drunkard would be a Drunkard still, both in Peace and War: The Swearer would Swear still whether in a Storm or a Calm: Though God changed his Pro­vidences, they were uniform in their Provocations, so that it came at last to a Trial, whether Mercy and Judg­ment, or Sin and Profaneness should have the Victory: Lev. 26.23. we read there of a People that walked contrary to God in all his Ways: and as they thwarted him in all his, He crossed them in all theirs: and it came [Page 23] at last to this push: If they would act Seven times more contrary to him, he would try if he could not yet act Seven times more contrary to them: And certainly the Case must be deplo­rable when the Question shall be, Whe­ther Sinners can be more potent in Sin­ning, or God in Punishing? 1 Cor. 10.22. Do we provoke the Lord to Iealou­sie, are we stronger than he? It was ex­cellent Counsel that Solomon has given, Eccles. 6.10. That none should be so Fool-hardy as to contend with one more mighty than himself: And our B. Savi­our, Luke 14.31.32. lays it down for an infallible Maxime: That when a King goes forth to make War against a­nother, he should first sit down, and consult whether he be able to meet him mith Ten Thousand that comes against him with Twenty Thousand: It deserves the consideration of all Sinners to ad­vise well with themselves, Whether Ten Thousand Sins will be able to stand against Twenty Thousand Judgments; and whether it be not more advisable, whilst God is yet afar off, to beg Con­ditions of Peace, to send God a Blank [Page 24] that he may prescribe his own Terms? for how will the Chaff contend with the Whirlwind, or the dryed Stubble with the consuming Fire?

(4.) The Case of a People is de­plorable [...] when Profaneness is incorri­gible, and Religion toward God fails, because all Faithfulness towards Man fails also: If Conscience towards God ceases, Confidence among Men will ex­pire: For Religion is the Foundation of all secure Converse, all Safe-dealing in the World. Him whom the Bonds of Divine Fear will not hold, nor Co­venants, nor Contracts with his Neigh­bour, will hold; He that breaks with God, breaks with all the World.

Suppose we that a Man makes no Conscience of taking Gods Name in vain, but by Swearing, Vain-Swear­ing, False-Swearing, profanes that Holy Name of his God, shall any one per­suade me to believe that he makes a scruple of Murder, Adultery, Stealing, bearing False Witness; can I be so vain as to think he will be true to his Neighbour that is false to his Crea­tor? [Page 25] The Prophet, Hos. 4.2. gives this as the Reason why there was no Truth in the Land, because there was no Knowledge of God in the Land.

This Doctrine Abraham was not afraid to justify to the King of Gerar's face, Gen. 20.11. I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will kill me. And his thought was reasonable, that where there was no awe of God upon the Con­science, such Profligates would boggle at nothing.

We may easily admit, that some extrin­sick obligation may hold a Man, where the fear of God has no hold upon his heart: He may perhaps accept a Bill drawn up­on him by consulting with his Reputati­on: Perhaps a double Bond may advise him to make payment of the Debt, be­cause he dreads the Forfeiture: Yet could he be assur'd the Bond were lost or burnt, or the Witnesses dead, you should soon see that no Religion bound him, and he would put the Creditor upon the proof of the Specialty; and, if he can evade the Law of Man, he will easily give himself a Discharge in the Court of Con­science. The Psalmist crys out as in a [Page 26] desperate Case, Psal. 12.1. Help, Lord, for the Godly Man ceaseth, the Faithful fail from among the Children of Men: Where Godliness, and the godly Man cease, Faith­fulness and Faithful Men will fail; that is, where the Duties of the First Table are not regarded, there will be as little respect to those of the Second.

Psal. 14.1. The Fool hath said in his heart, there is no God: And the next ti­dings you hear of our Atheist is, They are Corrupt, they have done abominable Works; there is none that doth good, no not one. If once this flood-gate be pluckt up to let Atheism in, Principle, and Pra­ctice; a deluge of all Treachery and Fals­hood breaks in with it: And as we may argue from the cause to the effect: If that unjust Iudge fears not God, he regards not Man, Luke 18.2. So may we from the effect to the cause, where there is no faithfulness to Man, there is no fear of God, Ps. 36.1. The transgression of the Wicked saith within my heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes.

(5.) I add one account more: It's a deplorable Case when Profaneness is grown incorrigible, because God seems angry with his own Instruments of Refor­mation.

It frowns most sadly upon a People that God should send his Servants about his own Work, and yet not be with them in their Work; and they are ready to argue: Surely we have done the Lord's Work negligently, because we have done it so unsuccessfully. If the Lord did send us, why is he not powerfully with us? If he be not with us, why did he send us?

God's Dealings with his Servants in the Success and Reward of their Service is very mysterious, and that on these ac­counts:

  • 1. God is angry with his Servants when they refuse to go when he calls, and sends them; and yet sometimes he seems angry too, though they do go at his call and sending: If at least we may judge him angry by Interpretation and Construction, when he succeds them not in the thing he sends them about. [Page 28]

    Exod. 4. God calls, and sends Moses to bring Israel out of Aegypt: Moses, whether from a sense of his own un­meetness for the Work, or apprehension of the Danger of the Service, makes ma­ny excuses; one while he pleads his own Insufficiency, another time that there was some other Person better quali­fied for the Work: And though God refutes all his Objections, yet still he is loath to engage, till v. 14. the anger of the Lord was kindled against him: Well! At last he Addresses himself couragiously to the Service, and yet v. 24. It came to pass, by the way in the Inn, the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Mysterious Providence! The Lord is angry when his Servant would not go, and God is more angry when he goes. But let us know that God will have his own work done in his own way. Moses is sent up­on an Errand of Reforming others, but Moses must first Reform his own Family. Could he be a meet Person to bring Israel into Covenant, when his own Children were out of Covenant? Let it give a se­rious Caution to all of us: The Lord will be sanctified in all that draw nigh unto him, [Page 29] Levit. 10.3. And if he be not sanctified in our hearts, he will be glorified upon the Heads.

  • 2. It's a mysterious Providence that God should reward his Servants for their work, when he denys them success in it.

Isa. 49.4. Then I said I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought, and in vain, yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my Work with my God. Here are two things that may bear up the Spirtis of God's Servants in undertaking and prosecuting his Work, whatever the success be.

  • 1. Their Iudgment is with the Lord. Man shall not be their Judge, and their God will judge them, not by the success of their Labours, but the integrity of their hearts in undertaking, and prosecut­ing it.
  • 2. Their Work is with their God. That Labour of Love, That Work of Faith, wherein they have laid out themselves is with God, it lies before him, is laid up [Page 30] with him; it shall not be lost; its gone before them to the Throne; it shall fol­low after them to Judgment; it shall meet them in the day of recompence. And this is their great encouragement to be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, knowing that their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15.58.

III. I am now come to the Third and and Last Inquiry, What may be further done (if any thing may yet be done) when inveterate Corruptions, universal Degenera­cy seems to have made the Evils incurable: And this has brought me to The APPLICATION.

Brethren!

I address my self to you, whom our gracious God, in Mercy to a Sinful Nati­on, has raised up, and distinguisht by a Spirit of Holy Zeal to appear against, and give some check to the daring Spirit of [Page 31] Profaneness which has over-spread the Land; Iniquity is come in like a flood, and God has lifted up a Standard against it, Isa. 59.19.

We see you labouring against great op­positions, and under great discourage­ments from those Oppositions, and you may justly complain with the Prophet: Ier. 6.28, 29. They are griev­ous Revolters, walking with Slaunders, they are Brass and Iron, they are all cor­rupters, the Bellows are burnt, the Lead is consumed of the Fire, the Founder melteth in vain, for the Wicked are not plucked a way.

Now as I pray that God would streng­then your hearts, so I will endeavour to strengthen your hands, and for this great end do exhort you.

  • 1. To look inwards to your own Hearts.
  • 2. To look up towards your Faithful God.
  • 3. To look outwards to your Discou­ragements.
  • 4. To look upwards again to the Di­vine Encouragements.

I. Let me intreat you to look into your own hearts, and when you have narrow­ly made a Scrutiny there, and found all right within, or set that right which was wrong, you may more comfortably look upwards to your God, and more coura­giously outwards upon all the Oppositi­ons and Discouragements, you shall meet with in your Blessed Work, from this wretched World.

§.1. Look inwards narrowly, search your Hearts severely, whether they be right with God, and for God; that is, whether the Honour of God be the great commanding end which governs you in this great Undertaking? VVhether this be the main Spring, the first wheel that gives motion to all your Actions: Tho' a good end will not justify an evil Acti­ons, yet an evil End will pollute and spoil a good one.

The best Heart, like the best VVatch, has need to be often set right, and besure you set 'em both right by the Sun, and not by the example of other Mens Dials. And tho' I hope you did once set them true when you entered upon this good Work, [Page 33] yet examine them whether they have not gone wrong in the prosecution of it.

The heart of Man is an intricate La­byrinth, and without the Clew of Di­vine Directions, we may easily lose our­selves, lose our way, lose our God, and the works that we have wrought in the many windings, and turnings, the secret recesses that are in it. When therefore you have searched your selves, while you are searching, and before you search, lift up David's Prayer, Ps. 139.23, 24. Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, know my thoughts, and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the Way that is everlasting.

§. 2. Look again inwards, and exa­mine your selves strictly, whether in sub­ordination to the glory of God, you desire, design, and pursue in this good Work the Prosperity and flourishing E­state of your Native Country?

It was the glory of Nehemiah, though it was to the Regret of his malignant E­nemies; That there was a man come, a man to seek the Welfare of the Children of Israel, Nehem. 2.10. Do you proceed [Page 34] upon this generous Principle! Knowing that Righteoosness exalteth a Nation, but Sin is a shame to any People, Prov. 14.34.

Righteousness infuses Courage and Gallantry into a People; but Debauche­ry makes 'em Cowards, Effeminates, E­nervales, Dispirits them: A good Con­science is the best shield for a great Con­fidence. Prov. 24.1. The Wicked flee when none pursueth; but the Righteous are bold as a lion: And though the Spirit of Wine may inspire some Men with a huf­fing, hectoring, a blaspheming Valour, yet these Debauchers, that dare God to his face, will turn their backs upon an armed Man: Holiness renders a People truly Honourable; but Profaneness stains and tarnishes all their Glory, renders them despicable in the eyes of judicious Per­sons, Deut. 4.7. What People is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them in all things that we call upon him for: Holiness makes a Nation wise, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, a good understanding have all they that do his Com­mandments, Ps. 111.10. But Wicked­ness makes it little, foolish, silly, and [Page 35] ridiculous, and to make no Figure in the World. There is nothing a Nation should be more ambitious of, than to out­wit their subtle Enemies, to countermine all their Politicks, and it is Holiness that infuses this holy Policy, 119. 98. Thro' thy Commandments thou hast made me Wi­ser than my Enemies.

Let this Ambition therefore fill your Sails to recover the Glory of a Nation, which Wickedness has eclipsed: To re­store the Valour of the Nation, which Profaneness has baffled, by the vigorous Suppressing that which is the Reproach of any People.

§. 3. Examine your selves further in this your Work. Have you cordially e­spoused the Interest of Christ in opposi­tion to that of the wicked one, and the wicked World?

There are two great Interests which di­vide the World: That of Christ and Holiness, that of the Devil and Profane­ness. These two have been contending from the beginning, and whatever the specious pretences have been, all the Wars, all the Contentions that have been [Page 36] managed ever since, were nothing but the Bickerings and Skirmishes of that old en­mity put between the two Seeds, Gen. 3.15.

These Interests can never be reconcil'd, Christ glories in the Title of a Saviour, and the Devil in that of a Murtherer and Destroyer: The Enmity of Satan is foun­ded in this; he hates Holiness, he envys the happiness of Immortal Souls, he therefore hates Christ whose design it is to save those Souls, and to deliver them out of his paws. The Enemy under­stands thoroughly his true Interest, and can never be mistaken in it: Namely; to draw over to his Interest poor deluded Souls, wherein, tho' he cannot hope to mitigate his own Torments by the mul­titudes of those he draws to Hell with him, yet he takes some pleasure in the Revenge he supposes to have got upon Christ, by robbing him of the Glory of Saving Sinners. Wonder not then that he is so unwearied in going up and down seeking whom he may Seduce, for those whom he seduces he devours.

His Interest therefore lies in the wick­ed World, and in the wickedness of the World. For the whole World lies in Wick­edness, [...], which may be render'd, The whole World lies in the De­vil: Or the whole World as degenerated and gone off from God, has espoused the interest of the wicked One.

Set therefore your hearts true and right in this particular, to suppress that of the Devil, and to Advance the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; and let not your Zeal transport you against Men, but against Sin; not against their Persons, but their Wickedness, the wickedness of the VVorld, and that wicked One.

§. 4. Look once more into your Hearts; and examine whether that Reformation which you would carry on abroad, be begun, and proportionably carry'd on in your own Hearts, and Hou­ses: That so you may give a good exam­ple of that Reformation, to which you would draw others.

Assure your selves you will never be able to look the Magistrate in the face, be­fore whom you shall appear; nor the Offender in the face when he stands as a Delinquent before the Magistrate; nor Conscience in the face when you shall view your selves in that glass; nor God, in the face before whom you must give an account of what you have done for him, as well as what you have done a­gainst him, if it may be Retorted upon you. Physician heal thy self, before thou pretendest to heal others: Look there­fore into your own hearts, into your own Conversations: Look into your Fami­lies, to your Children and Servants, be­gin your Reformation at home, and let David's Rule and Resolution be yours: Psal. 101.2. I will behave my self Wisely in a perfect Way, I will walk in the mid'st of my House with a perfect Heart. Read that whole Psalm, and it will fully convince you, that the Psalmist was not only a Re­forming King over Reformed Subjects: But a Reforming Master of a Reformed Family.

II. Let me now encourage you to look upwards: which you may now comfor­tably [Page 39] and confidently do, when you have faithfully and impartially inspected your own hearts: And

§. 1. VVhen you look up to God on high, lie very low, and be humbled that God has sent you about so excellent a VVork, his own VVork, and yet crown'd your Endeavours with so slender Success: The Wicked will still do wickedly: It is an amazing Dispensation that he should so little prosper a VVork so good in it self, of so great Concern to his own glory, and wherein the Interest of our Lord Jesus does so eminently lie: But yet I admire more that Divine Grace which has spiri­ted you with so generous a Principle, so noble Zeal that you could go out, and still go on in the meer conscience of your du­ty towards God, expecting your Recom­pence from him alone, whatever the suc­cess shall be.

§. 2. Look up again to him, and bless his Name that he has honoured you in calling you to this Service, fitting you in some good measure for it, and given some success in it: You will say, Alas! it is but little: Account it so, and God will have you account it little till you have re­formed [Page 40] the whole Nation, till all Impiety shall hide its face, and stop its mouth: But however little the success of your Pious Endeavours shall be, it has this great Thing in it, That God graciously accepts and approves of your VVork, and has put his Seal to it: Thus Christ owned the Service of her, Mar. 14.6. Let her alone! why trouble ye the Woman, she has done what she could. This was the excellent tem­per of that holy Mans Spirit, Ezra 9.6, 8. O my God I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee my God, for our i­niquities are increased over our Heads, and our Trespass is gone up to the Heavens; yet now for a little space Grace has been shewed us from the Lord our God, to have a Remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his Holy Place, that our God may lighten our eyes.

Keep it therefore settled upon your hearts, that God's Gleanings are better than the Devil's Vintage; God's first Fruits, than his Harvest, and Christ's small Remnant more precious than his vast multitudes.

§. 3. Lift up your eyes, your hands, your voice, your hearts to God in the [Page 41] Heavens, in most servent believing Pray­er; and give me leave to recommend these few Things as proper materials to fill up your Prayer.

  • 1. Pray earnestly that God would strengthen your Hearts and Hands against all discouragements you may meet with in this difficult Service: You shall find God more able to encourage, than the rage of Men & Devils is to discourage you: if▪ he will be with you, & for you, no matter who is against you. David argu'd thus, Ps: 41.11. By this I know that thou favour'st me, because my enemy doth not triumph over me. Either your Enemies shall not fight a­gainst you, or if they will fight not con­quer; or if they conquer, not triumph, or if they seem to triumph, their triumph shall be short. He that would overcome the Devil must first prevail with God: which was Holy Iacob's method, Gen. 32.28. who first prevail'd with the Angel, and then easily persuaded Esau:
  • 2. Pray again, and pray earnestly that God would put a Spirit of Zeal into the hearts of all those into whose hands he has put Power and Authority. David's complaint will suit your case, 2 Sam. [Page 42] 3. 39. I am this day weak, and these Men, the Sons of Zerviah, are too hard for me. You have the Law of God, the Laws of Man for you, and yet the Enemies of both, these Cursing, Swearing, Sabbath-breaking Wretches, are in many instances too hard for you: But when it shall once please the Lord to stir up the Magistrates more generally, and heartily to assist and abet you, your work will be more easy.

    It is a serious Question, and not rashly to be determin'd, Whether the Corrupti­ons and Profanenesses, which abound at this day, may be justly call'd National Sins? Of which I would give my Opini­on without any positive or peremptory Determination.

    • 1. It is too evident to be denied, or excused, that there is a general declining, of the Power of practical Religion; and an increase of Sin in one kind or other, amongst all sorts of Men.
    • 2. That it is thankfully owned that our Legislators, by their good Laws a­gainst the most prevailing Abominations, have acquitted themselves of the guilt of these Corruptions: All that the Lawgi­vers can do, as they are such, and further [Page 43] they cannot go, than to appoint propor­tionable Penalties for these Crimes, and to enjoyn the Magistrates respectively to put those Laws in due execution: So that we must acknowledge they have approved themselves clear in this matter.
    • 3. His Majesty, by many and strict Proclamations, has charg'd the Magistrates to execute the Laws with effect, and to proceed vigorously therein, so that the Guilt will not lie there.
    • 4. God has raised up a considerable number of faithful Magistrates, who have appeared freely in this Service: Upon whom God will we hope put some di­stinguishing mark of Honour as the Re­ward of their Zeal: For such as Honour God will be honour, but they that despise him, shall be lightly esteemed.
    • 5. You that have engaged in these hopeful Societies for Reformation, have contributed to prevent these Immoralities which are too much National by their extent from becoming National by Guilt and Condemnation; not only by wil­lingly offering your selves as Assistants to the Magistrate; not only by crying to God mighty to stir up Men fearing God, [Page 44] Men of Courage to help you, but by bearing your open Testimonies against those Enormities which you are not able to Suppress, or Redress.
  • 3. Pray without ceasing, that God would pour out of his Spirit upon all Ministers of his Word and Sacraments, that by their unwearied Labours the con­sciences of the Profane may be strongly touched, and they brought to a sound and saving Repentence: And I must say that in Praying for them, you Pray for your selves.

This would supersede much of your great trouble, and give you a Writ of Ease from the fatigues of your difficult Pro­vince, & I question not but you would re­joyce to see convinced Sinners converted, rather than to have the stubborn punished: There is joy in Heaven over one Sinner that repenteth, and the rejoycing of Holy Ones on Earth would eccho to theirs above, when the natures of such are changed, more than their hands are restrained, and chained up by Poenal Laws.

III. I shall not need to advise you to look outwards to that Treatment you are [Page 45] to expect from those Flagitious Ones, whose Crimes call for your most severe Animadversion. I hope you have fate down and reckon'd it up with your selves what it might cost your before you enter'd upon, and engaged in this Work, yet I will present you with a Bill of Fate of the Entertainment which I believe you have found, and may further expect.

§. 1. You will meet with a generation of Men, who tho' they have been empti­ed from Vessel to Vessel, are yet settled upon their Lees. A sort of Sinners re­presented to the Prophet in a Vision, Ez. 24.6. By a Pot which had long been on the Fire, yet the scum remained in it: Of whom another Prophet speaks as a gene­ration of intractable and incorrigible Sinners, Ier. 6.28. They are all grievous Revolters, walking with Slaunders, they are Brass and Iron, they are all Corrupters: Now of these he tells us how little could be hoped, v.29. The Founder melteth in vain: Let him make never so strong a blast, the Bellows shall sooner be burnt than their flinty hearts be made fusile: Nay that they will sooner be consumed themselves, than their scorious parts sepa­rated [Page 46] from them: The Lead is consumed of the Fire.

The Prophet Isaiah, ch. 48. v. 4. ac­quaints you in what part the inflexible Iron, and the incorrigible Brass doth lie: I know that thou art obstinate; thy Neck is an Iron Sinew, and thy Brow Brass. Now what success can you hope for when you must practice upon such as these? Would you put the Yoke of Divine and Humane Laws upon them? Their Neck is an Iron Sinew! The Sons of Belial will never bend, or stoop to any Yoak; Or▪ do you fancy you may shame them out of their scandalous Habits? No, their Brow is Brass. Upon these your Arguments and Reasonings are all lost, and your more Rigid Methods thrown away.

§. 2. Though your Work is your Ho­nour, yet expect to be Reproached for it. You shall be censured that it's a prag­matical Humour that engages you, po­pular applause that fills your Sails; you would make a Figure, be some great thing in the World▪ 'Tis your comfort that they who usurp a Judgment over you in their Day, shall not be your Judges in the great Day, 1 Cor. 4, 5. It's a very small [Page 47] thing that I should be judged of you, or of Mans Iudgment — He that judgeth me is the Lo [...]. And in this hard case I know not w [...]t you can obtend, but the Shield of your own Integrity, 2 Cor. 1.12. Our Rejoicing is this, The Testimony of our Con­science, that in simplicity and godly sinceri­ty, we have had our Conversation in the World.

3. Expect to be ridicul'd by those who would pass for the Witts of the present Age: Jesus Christ has not a more perni­cious Enemy than unsactified Wit: Now this sort of Men will dart many a sharp pointed Scoff at your Proceedings, and the Success of them: Which may pierce as deep in some ingenious Breasts as the ruder Blows of opprobrious Lan­guage: This went as near the Spirit of Holy Iob, and provoked his patience e­qually with mo [...]e rustical Entertain­ment, Iob 17.2. Are there not mockers with me, and doth not mine eye continue in their Provocation? Especially this affects the innocent Soul, when scorn is mixed with a malicious Indignation, Psal. 35.16. With hypocritical Mockers in Feasts they gnashed upon me with their Teeth. And [Page 48] when Nehemiah came to Reform Matters at Ierusalem, he could not escape the vi­rulent insults of Tobiah, and S [...]ballat, Nehem. 4.2, 3, 4. What will these feeble Iews do? Will they make an end in one day? Even that which they build, if a Fox go up, he shall even break down their stone Wall. Poor Reformers! What a stir do you make about your fanatick Models? The edge of the Laws will soon be tur­ned, and your own Zeal quickly cooled, and then when the restraint of these Laws shall be a little relaxed, you will see all things run in their Old Channels, and Na­ture for a while curbed, will return with more eagerness to its own Inclinations; To all these, and a thousand more of these Scoffs, you have nothing better to return than what they then did, v. 4. Hear O God, for we are despised, and turn their Reproach upon their own heads.

§. 4. And may you not reasonably ap­prehend a Spirit of bitter and bloody Re­venge already boiling in the hearts of those whom the Laws have met withal in their Exorbitancies? Some Sparks of that temper even now breaks out at the mouth of the Furnace from when you [Page 49] may easily conjecture at the desperate Heat that burns within: Do they not watch for your Haltings? And more nar­rowly observe when you trip in any pun­ctilio of the Law, than you do when they scandalously fall, and lye wallow­ing in the Mire? Assure your selves, if you Record their Convictions, they Re­gister all the Errors of your Prosecutions, and only wait for a happy day, and wel­come juncture, when they may wreck their Malice upon you: You have great need therefore, with the Psalmist, to pray, (Ps. 5.8.) Lord make thy waies straight before me, because of my Observers.

§. 5. Nor is it a little part of your Discouragement, that upon the matter you stand alone in this Work: Which was the sad Case of David, Ps. 94.16. Who will rise up with me against the Wicked; who will stand up for me against the Work­ers of Iniquity? But be not afraid with any Amazement, you are not alone, for God is with you.

In a word: All the Dissolute and Fla­gitions are your declared Enemies: The indifferent Gallio's, the Neuters in Reli­gion, cannot be numbred amongst your [Page 50] Friends: Whether you stand or fall, sink or swim, they are wholly uncon­cern'd: The Men of Politick Principles, know not yet whether they are for you, or against you, the issue determines their Judgments; like those wary prudent Ones, (Esther 3.4.) who waited to see how Mordecai's matters would stand: The cooler sort of Professors are rather, of the two, for you than against you, only the Sincere of all Persuasions and Denomina­tions wish you good success in the Name of the Lord, and God himself, who is more than all that are for you, or against you, will be with you, and Bless you, and make you a Blessing.

IV. Give me so much more of your Patience, whilst I set before you the En­couragements of God, against all these Discouragements, and I will conclude.

  • I. Let God's Call and Commission for your Work, afford you sufficient Cou­rage and Confidence against all the Dis­couragements of the Work: It's a nota­ble evidence of Sincerity, when we go on in the way of our Duty, upon the se­curity of God's Authority, whatever Difficulties we meet with in the way, or [Page 51] how little appearance of Success there may be in the end: Ezek. 2.6. Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though Briers and Thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among Scorpions; be not afraid of their words, nor be not dismay'd at their looks, though they be a Rebellious House.
  • 2. When your Fears begin to rise in your Hearts, act your Faith upon God: Fear arises from the sense of your own Weakness, and the apprehension of your Enemies Power: But Faith knows how to set the Strength of God against your own Weakness, and the Strength of Ene­mies: Ps. 56.3. What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee.
  • 3. Let tender Compassion to Souls, that are destroying themselves, whet your Zeal, if at any time the edge begins to turn; it would move Pitty in the Heart of any one to see how contemptuously the Devil insults over those Souls he has got into his own power: 2 Tim. 2.26. They are taken Captive by him at his will: As if he would adorn his Victory by dragging them behind his Triumphant Chariot: Mark 9.22. He casts them into [Page 52] the Fire, and into the Water, as if he would make sport with immortal Souls. Let this lamentable sight engage all your Zeal to rescue them: Jude 21. Others save with fear, pulling them out of the Fire.
  • 4. Let the glorifying of God and your Redeemer be enough to influence you to the highest Endeavours to promote it: You cannot sacrifice your All to a more agreeable Object: Phil. 1.20. As always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my Body, whether it be by Life, or by Death.
  • 5. If you take the Counsels of God's Word, you shall certainly have its Com­forts: Let the Precepts Guide you, and the Promises shall Support you. Ps. 119.24. Thy Testimonies are my Delight and my Counsellors.
  • 6. A good Conscience, and its Testi­mony, will be responsible for all the E­vil you may incur, all the Good you may hazard or lose for the asserting it: This was the Apostles Practice of Piety, Acts 24.16. Herein do I exercise my self always, to keep a Conscience void of offence towards God, and towards Men.
  • [Page 53]7. Lastly. The Cause of God, the Interest of Christ makes up a powerful Motive to the most difficult Duties, and a sufficient Security against the strongest Temptations. Go on therefore, Bre­thren, as you have begun, in no wise ter­rified by your Adversaries, and the God of all Grace and Peace shall be with you. To whom be the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, for ever.

Amen.

FINIS.

BOOKS Printed for, and Sold by John Law­rence, at the Angel in the Poul­try.

MR. Pool's English Annotations in two Vol. Folio. The Works of the Reverend Mr. Stephen Che­nock, B.D. in two Vol. Folio.

The Life of the Reverend Mr. Richard Baxter, writ­ten by himself. Folio.

Mr. Lorimer's Apology for the Ministers, who sub­scribed only to the Stating of the Truths and Errors in Mr. Williams's Book. In Quarto.

Mr. Lorimer's Remarks on Mr. Goodwin's Discourse of the Gospel, proving that the Gospel Covenant is a Law of Grace, and answering the Objections to the contrary. Quarto.

Mr. Samuel Slater's earnest Call to Family Religion, being the substance of eighteen Sermons. Octavo.

Mr. Addy's Stenographia: Or, The Art of Short­writing compleated, in a far more compendious way than any yet extant. Octavo. The Bible is also Printed in the same Short-Hand.

Mr. Nath. Taylor's Preservative against Deism. Octavo.

The Faithful Rebuke to a False Report, Octavo.

Vindication of the Faithful Rebuke against Mr. Lob. Octavo.

Mrs. Williams Funeral Sermon by Mr. Calamy. Octavo.

Mr. Showers Reformation Sermon. Octavo.

Mr. Williams's Reformation Sermon. Octavo.

Mr. Showers Funeral Discourses. Octavo.

Mr. Woodhouse's Sermon at Mrs. Papillons Funeral. 8vo.

Mr. Doolittle's Saints Convoy to, and Mansions in, Heaven, in two occasional Discourses. Octavo.

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