« ZurückWeiter »
I HAVE great need to apologize for this my undertaking, partly because of king Solomon's caution, Eccl. xii. 12, “And further by these, my son, be admonished ; in making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the fesh :" and partly because I have already obtruded several practical treatises upon the world in this critical age. But, in the passage just quoted, I suppose the wise man has a reference to subjects natural, political, or polemical. As for practical truths of a truly spiritual nature, they lie in a small compass ; so saith he, verse 13, “ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty, business, and happiness of man.” ligion consists in a right principle and unreserved obedience, to which every soul should be devoted ; and it also becomes ministers to preach and promote the doctrine which is according to godliness, to use wholesome words for people's edification, holding faith and a good conscience. * Nor is it inconsistent with their present work to transmit something to posterity by writing, that after their decease, generations to come may have the truths of God always in remembrance. † It is true, we have the sacred records of infallible scripture, but practical treatises of godly ministers have always been accounted most excellent expedients to propagate religion in the world, and have proved successful for attaining the end.
I have but a few reasons to assign for my present undertaking • 1 Tim. i. 4, 5, 19. vi. 3, 4.
+ 2 Pet. i. 15.
1. The subject is exceedingly necessary ; our persons and our prayers would be lost, had we no intercessor; we are accepted only in the Beloved ; if our Lord Jesus does not hand poor sinners to God, woe be to them ; no gospel doctrine is more necessary than this; the very satisfaction of Christ will do us no good without his intercession.
2. Most people are ignorant of it, or forget it in their approaches to God; when conscience, relations, or ministers, put them upon prayer, or sore afflictions or death force them to go to God by prayer, they understand little of the right mode of taking Christ along with them by faith, but go to God absolutely considered, or if they say for Christ's sake, it is but a compliment, they cannot be benefited by his mediation.
3. I find not, in all my acquaintance with books, any one treatise upon this subject ; systems of divinity mention it, and some others glance at it occasionally, but none that I have seen treat purposely on it, though it is one of the fundamental articles of our religion, and deserves serious consideration.
4. Providence hath cast me into a declining condition, and some infirmities which render me incapable of travelling abroad, and even among my neighbours, so that I cannot personally converse with my hearers, yet my heart is much carried out towards them, and to God for them, amongst whom I have laboured in public and private, above fifty years; and having preached through the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, in relation to the great ordinance of the Lord's supper, and having finished it, I was moved, partly by own inclination, and partly by the importunity of some friends, to resume the thoughts of it, and put it into writing, which hath greatly increased and extended itself in my hands; this point, I conceive, admits not of dispute, no such controversies having been raised about this part of Christ's priestly office as on the other about his satisfaction on the cross for the sins of men, and as I love not controversy, I need not meddle with the many intercessors of Papists, who distinguish between a mediator of satisfaction and a mediator of intercession, the former they say is proper to Christ, the latter is common to saints and angels. Ah
poor sinner! how darest thou appear before the tremendous Jehovah ? Look to thy state and standing, tremble lest thou be found Christless, in duties, at death or judgment. God is a consuming fire, thou art as dried stubble; God a terrible Judge, thou art a guilty malefactor. When death sits upon thy lips, and thou must be gone into another world, Satan seizing thee, the law thundering, conscience accusing, worldly comforts leaving thee, divine vengeance meeting thee, as thou art passing out of time into eternal torments—what wilt thou do ? Then, if not before, “ the sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness surpriseth the hypocrites.” Oh then your “ hearts will meditate terror," asking, “ Who among us shall dwell
" with the devouring fire? Who amongst us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings ?" * But there
you must dwell, there you must live in misery whether you will or not; death will not put an end to your being, but well-being. How glad would you be to be annihilated ? Oh, you will say, that I might lie in hell a thousand years, and even a thousand thousand years endure intolerable torments, so that after millions of years I might be set at liberty ; no, no, the door is shut, the gulf is fixed, there
there you are like to abide for evermore. Oh that you were wise to consider these things betimes, before they be for ever hid from your eyes. Ministers intercede for God with you to gain your consent, the Spirit strives with you, conscience checks, God affords helps, all these will be your accusers another day if you close not with Christ.
Particularly, my poor neighbours and hearers, let me now bespeak you with all the tenderness of christian affection, as one going shortly to give up his accounts. Shall I meet you at the right hand of the Judge among the sheep, or the left hand with the goats? Whether would you hear, “ Come ye blessed," or“Go ye cursed ?” Are you content to be banished from God, or desirous to be admitted into everlasting communion with him? Look on these as dying words of your aged pastor. O that he may meet with comfort another day, that he that sowed, and such as reaped may rejoice together.
I have but a few hints to leave with you, which I desire you to receive as the last legacy of a dying man, a friend, a preacher.
1. Thoroughly study your lost and lapsed state by your birth-sin ; you are estranged from God, and so continuing must be for ever banished from him at death : you must be changed or damned. *
* Isaiah xxxiii. 14, 18.
2. “ Search the Scriptures," there you find the way to heaven opened, the character of the saved, the black traits of the lost, with their promises, precepts, and threatenings ; lean not on your own fancies, but divine oracles. +
3. Examine your consciences ; enter into the secrets of your hearts, commune with them, bring your hearts to the rule and touchstone, spend some time alone upon it, be faithful and impartial, tremble at hazarding a mistake. I
4. Accuse and condemn yourselves, you will find great reason; your sins are obvious to God and conscience, if you hide them, they will undermine you ; there are hopes that God will clear you, if you censure yourselves. ||
5. Renounce every sin ; it is sin that separates betwixt God and you, that is dragging you to hell, that is provoking the Most High against you; crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. $
6. Enter into a covenant with God; solemnly renew your baptismal covenant ; take God as your God, and give up yourselves to him, defer not one day, tell the Lord you are his by many obligations. I
7. Put no confidence in yourselves, or in any thing of your own; judge yourselves most unworthy of the high favour of covenant relationship; you may and must account yourselves even as dead dogs before God. **
8. Join with God's people; stand not at a distance from those that God owns ; renounce vain persons whom God rejects, sit not with them, but love and choose the society of saints for whom Christ pleads. ++
9. Be much in prayer; plead with God for a spirit of grace: Christ is God's gift, be thankful for him, beg of God that
* Ps. lviii. 3. Rom. vi. 23. ii. 19, 23. Matt. xviii. 3.
Ps. 1. 5. Isa. xliv. 5. 2 Cor. viii. 5. ** Ps. cxvi. 16. Matt. viii. 8. xv. 27. Like vii. 44. 2 Sam. ix. &. ++ Ps. xxvi. 4. cxix. 63. Phil. ii. 15.