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nor Devil. They feast, without fear; they fight, without fear; they sin, without fear.
But hear this, ye Careless and Profane Epicures, that say, Tush, doth God see it? Is there knowledge in the Most High? Hear this, ye Formal Hypocrites, that can fashionably bow to him, whose face you can be content to spit upon; and whom ye can abide to crucify again by your wicked lives. Hear this, ye Godless and Swaggering Roarers, that dare say, with Pharaoh, Who is the Lord ? You, that now bid defiance to fear, shall, in spite of you, learn the way to fear; yea, to tremble; yea, to be confounded ; at the terrors of the Almighty. Those knees, that are now so stiff, that they will not bow to God, shall once knock together: those teeth, through which your blasphemies have passed, shall gnash: those hands, that were lift up against heaven, shall shake and languish. If ye were as strong as mountains, before his presence the mountains filed, and the hills were moved: if as firm as rocks, who can stand before his wrath ? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken before him ; Nah'ım i. 6: if, as the whole earth, whose title is, That cannot be moved; The earth trembled and quaked, because he was angry; saith the Psalmist : yea, if as wicked as Devils, even they believe and treinble. And if, when he doth but thunder in his clouds, the stoutest atheist turns pale, and is ready to creep into a bench-hole ; what shall become of them, when he shall put forth the utmost of his fury and revenge upon his enemies ? Lo then, ye, that now laugh at fear, shall yell and howl, like hell-hounds, in eternal torments: and God shall laugh, when your fear cometh. Ye, that would not now so much as with Felix quake at the news of a Judgment, shall irrecoverably shiver in the midst of those flames, that can never be quenched.
But for us, Dear and Beloved Christians, far be it from us, to be of that iron disposition ; that we should never bow, but with the fire. No; we have other, more kindly grounds of our fear: Great is thy mercy, saith the Psalmist, that thou mayest be feared. Lo, it is the amiableness of mercy, that must attract our fear. It is a thing that mainly concerns us, to look where and how our fears are placed. Far be it from us, to bring upon ourselves the curse of wicked ones, To fear where no fear is; as this is the common condition of men. Alas! we are apt to fear the censures and displeasure of vain greatness; whereas, that may be a means to ingratiate us with God: shame of the world ; whereas, that may be a means to save us from everlasting confusion : poverty; whereas, that may possess us of a better wealth : death; whereas, to the faithful soul that proves the necessary harbinger to eternal rest and glory. In the mean time, the same men are no whit afraid of the displeasure of God, and their own perdition: wherein they are like to foolish children, who run away from their parents and best friends, if they have but a mask or scarf over their faces; but are no whit afraid of fire or water. Away with all these and the like weak misprisions; and, if we tender our own safety, let it be our main care, to set our fears right: which shall be done, if we place them upon our Infinitely Great and Glorious God, in that relation, both of mercy and goodness, wherein he is here recommended to us, as our Father; and that awful apprehension of justice, wherein he is set forth to us as an unpartial Judge of us and all our actions.
V. Consider then, that from the Duty we may descend to the Motive, that this fear is of a FATHER; and, therefore, a loving fear: but this Father is a JUDGE; and, therefore, it must be an awful love.
How will these two go together, a Father and a Judge; the one a style of love and mercy, the other of justice? Whatever God is, he is all that: he is all love and mercy; he is all justice. That, which God is in the pure simplicity of his essence, we must imitate in our compositions; namely, to unite both these in one heart. He is not so a Judge, that he will wave the title and affection of a Father: he is not so a Father, that he will remit ought of his Infinite Justice, in any of his proceedings. Upon both these must we fasten our eyes, at once: we must see the love of a Father, to uphold and chear us; we must look upon the justice of a Julge, that we may tremble. And, therefore, putting both together, we must rejoice in him with trembling.
Droop not, despair not, O Man: thou hast a Father in Heaven, All the bowels of mortal and earthly parents are strait to his. If fathers, if mothers, may prove unnatural; there is no fear, that God should cast off his mercy ; for it is Himself.
Presume not, () Man : for this Father is a most just Judge. It is for sinful Aesh and blood to be partial. Fond parents are apt so to doat upon the persons of their children, that they are willing to connive at their sins : either they will not see them, or not hate them, or not censure them, or not punish them : thus many a son may, according to the Apologue, bite his mother's ear when he is climbing up to the gallows : But the infinite justice of the great and holy God cannot be either accessary or indulgent to the least sin of his dearest darling upon earth. It is a mad conceit of our Antinomian Heretics, That God sees no sin in his elect; whereas, he notes and takes more tenderly their offences than any other. Hear what he saith to his Israel : Thee only have I chosen of all the families upon earth; therefore will I punish thee for all thine iniquities ; Amos iii. 2.
But let this be enough to be spoken of the conjuncture of these two titles of God; A Father and a Judge.
We cannot hope, in the remainder of our hour, to prosecute both of them severally : let us only touch at the former.
It is a dear name, this of a Father : and no less familiar. It is the first word of our Lord's Prayer: and, in the first clause of our Creed, that, which is there the title of his personality in divine relation, is the same here in his gracious relation to us. Our Father: so he is in the right of creation ; He made us, not we ourselves : in the right of adoption ; We have received the adoption of sons; Gal. iv. 5: in the right of regeneration ; In that we are made partakers of the divine nature ; 2 Peter i. 4.
I could here lose myself; and yet be happily bestowed, in the setting forth of those infinite privileges, that we receive from the hands of our God, by virtue of this happy sonship : but I shall balk this theme, for the present, as that we not long since largely prosecuted in your ears; and shall, as my Text invites me, rather put you in mind, how vainly we shall pretend a right to this Father, unless we own him : for the words are ei ÈtinaMeTode If ye call him Father, as Beza, and our former Translation, turus it; or, as it is, being a compound word, more properly rendered in our present Version, If ye call upon the Father.
. Where you have a short, but true character of a faithful Christian laid forth to you : he is one, that calls upon the Father: he saith not upon God absolutely, in the relation to that infinite power which made and governs the world; so Jews and Turks pretend to do : but in the relation to his blessed paternity, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ; and, in him, ours.
Thus he, that calls upon the Father, professes himself a true Christian. So St. Paul makes this one of the mottos of God's great seal; Let every one, that calls upon the name of the Lord, depart from iniquity : and David makes this the pitch-brand, as it were, of wicked wretches, They call not upon God. Surely, there is no act we can do argues more grace, than holy invocation; or, that equally procures it.
There are three Motives of our calling upon the Father : our duty; our need; and our benefit.
Our duty : for that God enjoins it, and accounts it an especial part of his worship; They shall call upon me, in the day of their trouble, and I will hear them ; saith God.
Our need: for, as we are of ourselves destitute of all good things, so they are only to be derived to us from heaven by our prayers.
Our benefit: for we are assured of all blessings for suing for; Ask and have.
In these regards I may truly say, that man hath no grace nor goodness in him, that prays not; both by himself and with his family. Let him never plead his disability to express himself in his devotion. I never knew beggar yet, that wanted words to express his wants : were we equally sensible of our spiritual defects, we should find language enough to bemoan them. This indevotion plainly bewrays a godless heart; careless of his duty ; insensible of his need; regardless of his benefit; and wholly yielded up to an atheous stupidity.
On the contrary, to pray well and frequently, is an argument of a pious and graciously-disposed soul. Others may talk to God, and compliment with him; perhaps in scripture terms, which they have packed together; and this may be the phrase of their me. mory and elocution: but, to pour out our souls in our fervent prayers, with a due apprehension of the Majesty to whom we speak; and a lively sense of our necessities, with a faithful expectation of their supplies from heaven; is for none but godly and
well-affected suppliants. These cannot call upon the Father, without a blessing.
It is a notable and pathetical expostulation, which the holy Psalmist uses to the Almighty, How long wilt thou be angry with thy people, that prayeth ? Intimating clearly, that it were strange and uncouth, that a praying people should lie long under any judgment; and should not find speedy mercy at the hands of God. Oh then, that we could be stirred up to a serious and effectual performance of this duty, for ourselves, for our brethren, for the whole Church of God! Certainly, we could not have been thus miserable, if we could have heartily called upon the Father of Mercies : and, if we could yet ply heaven fervently and importunately with our faithful devotions, we should not fail of a happy evasion out of all our miseries; and find cause to praise him for his gracious de. liverance, and his fatherly compassion renewed upon us, and continued to our posterity after us : which our good God, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Righteous, vouchsafe to grant unto us. Amen.
A COMFORTABLE DISCOURSE OF THE CHRISTIAN'S ASSURANCE
GROUNDED UPON 2 Peter i. 10.
It shall be my only drift and endeavour in this Discourse, to settle the hearts of those, who profess the Name of Christ, in a main case of Christian resolution, concerning their present and final estate. The mean whereof is no less cornfortable and useful, than the extremes miserably dangerous. While one is causelessly confident, and dies presuming; another is wilfully careless, and perisheth through neglect: both fearfully miscarry, and help to fill up hell. I shall desire to guide the wise Christian in a mid-way between both these; and teach him how to be resolute without presumption, and to be awful without distrust; how to labour for a holy security, and modest confidence.
Ere we descend to the matter, three terms require a little clearing, What this CALLING is: what ELECTION: what the SURE-MAKING of both.
As to the first; this cannot be taken of an outward CALLING: for we are sure enough of that. Wheresoever the Gospel is preached, we are called outwardly. Neither are we much the nearer, to be sure of that; for many are called, few chosen : yea, certainly, this not answered shall aggravate our damnation. It is, therefore, an inward and effectual calling, that we must endeavour to make sure: a call, not by the sound of the word only; but by the efficacy of the Spirit. The soul hath an ear, as well as the body: when the ear of the soul hears the operative motions of God's Spirit, as well as the ear of the body hears the external sound of the Gospel; then are we called by God: when true faith is wrought in the soul, as well as outward conformity in our life; when we are made true Christians, as well as outward professors; then, and not till then, have we this calling from God.
Such then is our Calling.
The ELECTION is answerable to it. Not a temporal and external, to some special office or dignity; whereof our Saviour, Have not I chosen you twelve ? John vi. 70. and, Moses his chosen; Psalm cvi. 23: not a singling out from the most, to an outward profession of