faith. Try what ye hear by it, as the noble Bereans. did, for which they are highly commended.

(8.) Laftly, Be tender and holy in your walk. If any man will do his will, says our Lord, John vii. 17. he all know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether i Speak of myself. Where men are conscientious to practise known truth, there is hope of being led into all truth; while otherwise the Spirit of the Lord being grieved departs

Secondly, Our days are evil days, in respect of abounding fin. The generation wherein we live hath fignalized itself for looseness and licentiousness, and our iniquity is gone up unto the heavens, and the measure of it is fast, very fast filling up. Our land, we may fay, is filled with fin against the holy One of Ifrael, Jer. li. 5. The abounding of fin in our day appears in that,

1. Sins of all forts are to be found amongft us whether against the first or second table. The truth is, contempt of God and of religion hath made moft fearful advances : the gospel is despised, the holy laws. of God are violated, his bands are broken, and his cords cast away. The land is defiled with idolatry,, superstition, finful swearing, Sabbath-breaking, unfaithfulnefs in all relations, murders, uncleanness, dishonesty and fraud, lying, and covetoufnefs. And what can be found among a people profeffing the name of Christ to bring wrath on them, that is not to be found in Scotland at this day? Particularly, there are two figns of a generation posting to ruin, that have appeared of late more than for many years before.

(1.) Horrid blasphemies, shewing what height the generation is come to in contempt of God. Not only is there a fearful outbreaking of blasphemous. principles, overturning the very foundations of ChriItianity; but many fearful blasphemiesand blafphemous practices have been occafionally vented and set up of late, to fill up the measure of the iniquity of the land. (2.) Rampant oppression, to fhew what a low pafs


humanity is at in these dregs of time. I doubt if there be any alive that ever faw as much oppression in this land, when it was neither a time of war, nor of persecution, as we have neither of them at this day. When was that so much verified as at this day, The people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour : the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable, if. iii. 5. These things can hardly miss to fill our cup to the brim.

2. Corruption of manners has overspread all ranks in church and state; and it is come to that, Gen. vi. 12. God. looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt : for all fleb had corrupted his way upon the earth. Not only religion, but sobriety is almost gone out of fashion with those of the greater fort, so that they have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds; and the meaner fort follow the example, alas ! too much; and there is a viGble growing untenderness among those whose character and office in the church obliges them to give a holy example to both. So that look after religion where you will, it. will be found at a very low pass in the practice of it.

3. Religion is so much on the declining hands, that there is not so much as a standing still and not mending, but a growing worse and worse still. The generation is still going forward in apostasy from God, and not going, but running further and further wrong. New causes of wrath are still produced in the progress of time ; and Satan's kingdom is visibly increasing. The evil are gļowing worse and worfe,, and many sometime hopeful have taken off the malk, and appear

in their native colours. 4. The fins of fons and daughters are more and greater than ordinary. They are so mixed with the men of the world, that they have learned much of their way, and have left their first love, Rev. ii. 4. There is a cloud even upon them, so that they have not that life, spirit, and tenderness that fome times they had. And they that depart from evil make themselves a prey.

And what makes these days of abounding fin worse, is,

ist, That they are come in over the belly of much light. Our days have been days of much gofpel-light, but the truth has been in unrighteousness, and men have rebelled again't the light: fo the light is grown weaker, and the works of darkness have got the upper hand,

2dly, Our national hazards and deliverances have been many and fignal ; and behold the fruit of them, as if we had been delivered to do all these abomina. tions. If either threatened judgements or mercifub deliverances could have cured us, we had been in another case at this day: but all these things seem to have been blasted.

3dly. There are few, very few to stand in the gap, Ezek. xxii. 30. Few that have either heart or hand to oppose themselves to the torrent of wickedness: few mourners over the abominations done in the midst of us. I doubt not but there are some who truly figh and cry for the abounding fin of our day, But I doubt if our Zion these many years has afforded fewer of that fort. These our provocations have been of fo long continuance, that though at their first appearance they were moving, yet the horror of them seems to be abated by custom; besides that many of the sometimes mourners in Zion are themfelves deeply involved in the backsliding courses of the day.

These things make our days evil days : for,

(1.) The dishonour done to God, and the provocation thereby given to the eyes of his glory, is great beyond exprellion : The name of God is blafphemed among ike Gentiles, through you, says Paul to the Romans, chap. ii. 24

Our land has been fingularly privileged, being married to the Lord in folemn cove


[ocr errors]

nant, and her renown has sometimes gone through many nations : But, ah how is God dishonoured, and religion exposed, by such fearful departures from the Lord !

(2.) They are ensaaring days. O how hard is it for people to keep their feet in such a day, and not to be carried away with the stream? Rev. iii. 5How hard is it to keep up a due horror of fin, while on every hand of us it is so lightly looked upon? Temptation is strong in such a day.

(3.) They are days that while they last, little good and great can well be expected in them. Hence said the Lord by the man of God unto Eli, Them that how nour me, I will hongur; and they that despise me, shall be lightly efieemed, 1 Sam. ii. 30. A generation so much difhonouring God, it can little be expected that God will honour. We would fain hope that the Lord will yet bring glorious days; but it is very probable that many of us of the present generation shall be shovelled out of the way in the first place. Hence faith the Lord, Ezek. xx. 37. 38. I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them tbat transgress against me.

(4.) The consequences of them can hardly miss to be dreadful. Sball I not visit for these things ? faith the Lard: fball not my faul be avenged on such a na. tion as this? Jer. ix. 9. Where sin comes to such a height, readily severe judgements quickly follow. And we can see nothing that may give any hope that we fhall mifs to fee sad days, but that the Lord can pour out his Spirit, and turn us back: but, alas! in the mean time we look always the longer unlike such a merciful turn in our affairsa

(5.) Lastly, They have a fad afpect on posteritya The Jews crueified Christ above fixteen hundred years ago, and their children to this day are smarting under it. And sure I am, if matters continue in the course they are in at this day in this land any


long time, the succeeding generation will be in * miserable plight.

These things call aloud to redeeming of time. And,

1. Consider well your own ways, that you may fee if you be joined or not in the conspiracy against God with the generation ; Hag. i. 5. Thus faith the Lord of hofts, Consider your ways.

Alas! it may be easily feen, that most of us are deep in the score, and none of us can wipe our mouths, and say juftly, we have not sinnede, we have not had a hand in the general declining.

2. Bestir yourselves, and save yourselves from thie untoward generation, Acts ii. 40. Take another way than the common course of the day wherein you live. God is saying, Come out from among them, my people, be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing : stand at a distance from their finful ways, and be not partakers with their fins, left ye partake of their plagues.

3. Live near God, and by your tender holy walking give a practical testimony against the abounding fin of the day. Advert to the faying of the wise man, Prov. xxviii. 4. They that forsake the law, praise the wicked: but such as keep, the law, contend with them.

4. Be mourners in Zion, wrestlers with the Lord in the case of the evil of the days. Mourn for your own fins and the sins of others.

5. Lastly, Strengthen and stir up one another in the way of the Lord. The people of God had need to animate one another in duty, in a special manner when the torrent of fin runs high, that so they may

the better oppose it, and keep themfelves from be. **ing carried away with it. Follow the practice of the

Lord's people who lived in a very declining time of the Jewish church, recorded Mai. iii. 16. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord bearkened and heard it, and a bock of remen


« VorigeDoorgaan »