Abbildungen der Seite

they go together. How amicable doth converting grace inake those that were at deadly and desperate strife? for repentance turns the hearts of parents and children to each other.* Alas! till our faces be set towards the Lord, we shall rush with fury one against another: but if we agree in our devotedness to God, we shall agree amongst ourselves: lamenting together would clear our eyesight, and create a harmony of hearts.

5. Other persons in all other cases do lament after the objects that their hearts are set upon. David followed his deceased friend Abner with sorrow, and bitterly lamented the death of his son Absalom. The companions of Jephthah's daughter yearly lamented her. David much lamented Saul, (though his enemy while living,) and his sworn brother Jonathan. Jeremiah lamented for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations: yea, they made them an ordinance in Israel, 2 Chron. xxxv. 25. And which of you are so hard-hearted, but you would lament a dead friend or brother, sister, wife, child, or parent? And canst thou not find in thy heart to spend some mournful thoughts on thy departing Lord, or follow the sad hearse of deceased ordinances? Ah carnal hearts! Ah hard hearts! Woe to insensible sinners! Shall a poor idolatrous Micah cry out after his teraphim? And shall we let the only true God go with silence and dry eyes ? Is not our God worth lamenting after ? Will even careless women lament at last for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine? Isa. xxxii. 12, and shall not God's children lament for the full breasts of gospel ordinances ? Shall not children cry and long for the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby? 1 Pet. ii. 2. If you were sensible, you would cry out, my father, a little

* Jer. I. 4, 5. Mal. iv. 6.

bread for an hungry soul, my mother, admit me to the breasts of consolation; I am pining, languishing, famishing to death, let me be nourished to eternal life.

6 If we lament not after the Lord and his ark, he will go yet further from us, if not totally leave us. There were never such symptoms of God's taking away the candlestick, and leaving us to the idolatry, and cruelties of popery in this kingdom, since the Reforma

, tion, as there are at this day: horrible abominations and atheism preparing for it, our ingratitude for prevention thus long, the general antipathy to a sound ministry, a spirit of giddiness disposed to entertain the most senseless fopperies, a mincing of some grosser Popish doctrines by pretended Protestants, human inventions coined in the darkest times of popery retained, also courts, fees, officers, and ceremonies; popish names, places, and customs defended; want of sympathy with our suffering brethren abroad; attempts for reformation not succeeding, but opposed ; instruments reserved prepared for scourges; denying plots as clear as the sun; preferring Popish tyranny before Christ's government; most debauchery in some that should be best ; popish emissaries swarming; popish families increasing; honest ministers much laying aside weapons and antidotes; fearlessness in many, and unpreparedness of all for such a dispensation; impressions on many of changes; liberty of attending on ordinances to lay in for a storm ; unprincipled professors must pass an ordealtrial; judgment beginning at God's house; choice saplings taken out of the hedge, transplanted to heaven; witnesses prophesying in sackcloth must be slain, the whore must sit as a queen, and see no loss of children; Antichrist must render himself more cruel and odious, to stir up king's hearts against the church ; indifferency of great potentates in the cause of religion; policy

for outward security, the compass that most steer by ; Christ's interest low in Protestant countries ; God's laying them under severe rebuke by his immediate hand : little notice taken of providences, no public fastings and humiliations, former guilt of blood unwiped off. Such things as these forbode a black diffusion of Popish darkness, and barbarous showers of blood; God Almighty prevent: but certainly these things call for bitter lamenting after the Lord, either to prevent them or prepare our hearts for them, or both. I shall add,

7. There is no way to bring our Lord or his ark back to us, but this course of lamenting after him. God hath withdrawn himself purposely to make us follow him mourning; and he seems to stand still and catch what we have to say in this case, Jer. viii. 6. "I hearkened and heard,” saith God, “but they spake not aright.” What was that? certainly repenting of their sins, and lamenting inquiries after God; and Jer. xxxi. 18, 19, if God can but hear persons bemoan themselves, follow him, desire the Lord to turn them, and turn to them, see what kind language he gives them, verse 20. “Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” God doth act in this case as a loving father, who being provoked to scourge or leave his offending child, looks back on his sobbing, broken-hearted lamenting child, saying, Alas, my child, what ails thee! what's the matter with thee? What wantest thou? Dost thou want a heart to repent, or a smile of favour? Dost thou lament so sadly after reconciliation with me, and my return to thee? I am glad of it, that was all I aimed at; I have attained my end; come, come, thou art welcome to me, come my dear, my lovely child, let me


wipe thy tear-bedewed cheeks, and kiss thee again; I am glad my rod and anger work so kindly, I will return to thee with love and sweetest embraces. Thus doth our Lord return with loving-kindness and tender mercies, and they shall be as if he had not cast them off: there is no way probable or possible to bring God or his ark back but this, and shall we not take this course? It is true, it is a doubtful and dangerous case, we are not certain he will return, but yet there is a maybe, a who-can-tell, in it: we are sure, running from him, and sinning against him, with a hard heart, will undoubtedly rob us of him, and ruin us; but we have lost more labour to less purpose, therefore, let us turn to the Lord with all our heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning, &c. Joel ii. 12, 13: and then say, as God directs them, ver. 14, “Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord our God?” Oh, how well doth God take such a conduct! How willing is he to return back to us! only he expects we should be sensible of his withdrawing, and bitterly lament after him.

8. If we do not lay to heart the loss of God's presence and ordinances, God will make us lament on other accounts: if he design us good, he will pinch us till we feel, and cry out; if not, we shall be left to lament hopeless, and helpless in hell torments. If we will not lay to heart spiritual judgments, God threatens to send a curse upon us, and to curse our blessings, Mal. ii. 2. How? why, if men prize not their temple privileges, God can blast the fruits of the earth, Hag. i. 9, “ Ye

" looked for much, and lo it came to little, and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it,” or blow it away ; why? saith the Lord of Hosts ? “because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own

house.” Self-seeking here is self-undoing; men ruin themselves by neglecting God's interest; if men will not lament the ark's captivity, God will make Judah go into captivity.* If men lay not to heart the mourning ways of Zion, God hath a way to make them go without strength before the pursuer. Men can well dispense with the loss of the pleasant things of the sanctuary, it shall be tried how they will regard the loss of their temporal pleasant enjoyinents. If men lament not the gates of Zion, the gates of the city shall lament and mourn, and being desolate, the city in a widowed state shall sit upon the ground.|| If professing people lay not to heart sad and silent sabbaths, God may make the land to keep her sabbaths. Great and fair houses must be desolate without inhabitant, because God's house is desolate, and none regardeth. God can tell how to meet with the selfish and heedless : if they regard not God's interest, God will care as little for theirs. He can tell how to come near you in matters of sense, ** when you make nothing of what concerns your souls; and ordinances of God will then be good, when sickness, pain, poverty, or death arrest you -or these spiritual things will be good when out of your reach, and you shut up in the prison of hell, where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, Psal. cxli. 6, “When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words, for they are sweet." When that sad plague of sweating sickness was here in England, how much were proud nobles in apparent love with faithful ministers ? how glad were they of advice from them? then ordinances were of more worth than purses full of gold. God can make his ministers

* Lam. i. 3. + Lam. i. 4, 6.

Lam. i. 7, 10, 11. || Isa. iii. 26. § 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. Isa. v. 9. ** See Micah ii. 4, 5.

« ZurückWeiter »