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brance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
Thirdly, Our days are evil, in regard they are days of the hiding of the Lord's face. Well may we fay as Is. xlv. 15. Verily thou art a God that hideft thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour. The Lord's gracious appearances in the powerful operations of his Holy Spirit on the souls of men, make good days; and sometimes there have been such eminently good days: but, alas ! our days are evil, being days of God's hiding his face j. whereof take these evidences.
'1. The little power and efficacy on the souls of men, that accompanies ordinances at this day. Welt may we say, as Il. liii. 1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? A sound work of conviction is very rare, and the work of conversion is yet more rare. The word is heard, but where is the fruit of it? They that were filthy are filthy still. The profane are not reformed, the secure finner is not awakened, the formal profeffor is not brought acquainted with the power of gadliness, and they that have the root of the matter in them are not so liberally fed as sometimes they were. Whence is all this, but that the Lord hides himself, and appears not in the assemblies of his people as sometime a-day? We have finned away his presence, and provoked him to say, Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble unto me, I am weary to bear them, Il. i. 14. i
2.. The great rarity of lively experienced Chri.. ftians in our day. It is the promise, Mal. iv. 2. Unto you that fear my name, Jall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye sball go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. Some such there are, but, alas! the number of them is very small. Most of the virgins are asleep; deadness and formality, and estrangedness from the life of faith, prevail among those who are called by the Lord's name; and soul
exercise is rare to be heard of. The best that can be made of our case is that, Rev. iii. 4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garinents; and they fball walk with me in white: for they are wortby.
3. The diviGons, diffenfions, and opposition oneto another, that are to be found among the Lord's own faints and people. Sometimes there has been in our land a very fair separation betwixt the enemies and the friends of real godliness; so that whatever difficulties the children of God had with the commonadversary, they were at one among themselves: but now, alas! it is otherwise; the Lord's own children are fallen out by the way, and those who are dear to, God, and fhall meet in heaven, cannot hit it upon carth. For the Lord is hiding his face from us, and we are left in a mift.
4. The Spirit of counsel and wisdom is with-held.In the management of civil and church matters at this day, that seems to be much accomplished, Ifa xxix. 14.--The wisdom of their wise men shall perisig" and the understanding of their prudent men fall be hid. We are rowed into deep waters, and instead of bring- : ing us fafe back, we are carried further and further into the depths. The Lord is provoked to withdraw, and so our wounds cannot be healed. The days must: needs be evil in this refpect: for,
Ist, Such days cannot be thriving days for religions. and the cause and interest of God; Pfal. lxxxi. 12. I. gave them up, says JEHOVAH, unto their own hearts. luft: and they walked in their own counsels. When the fun withdraws in the winter, nothing can be exepected but that the face of the earth will be barren :: and when the Lord hides his face from a church,; matters, cannot prosper there. Backslidings are in- . creased, all goes to wreck, for that which holds mat- . ters right is withdrawn.
2dly, Such a day is a day of spiritual plagues. As. God's presence goes, all darkness, disorder, and con
fufion follows, according to the measure of the Lord's withdrawing. The gospel does men hurt instead of
doing them good; the wild grapes of wickedness are 1 brought forth instead of good grapes, &c.
. 1. This calls aloud for redeeming of time; and, - (1.) To beftir ourselves to lament after, and to lay
hold upon a departing God and glory. We should make that our work, i Sam. vii. 2. All the house of 1frael lamented after the Lord. And let it not be said of us as If. lxiv. 7. There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee : for thou haft hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. We should be as Jacob, faying, I will not let thee go, except thou blefs me, Gen. xxxii. 26. and the disciples, Abide with us, før it is towards evening, and the day is far spent, Luke xxiv. 29. And this we should be as we would not be esteemed to be of the Gadarene temper, who befought Chrif to depart out of their coafts. O cry mightily, that the Lord may not leave us nor forsake -U8.
(2.) Endeavour to walk uprightly in such a crooked generation ; for in the worst of times fuch shall get good of the Lord's word, Micah ii. 7. Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? The Lord never forsakes his people utterly; and the more that any do set themselves to be perfect in their generation, they may be fure it will go the better with their spirits.
(3.) Lastly, Double your diligence in secret duties; be much, in prayer; and especially cry with much fervency to find a meal for yourselves in public ordinances. I think we ought to consider, when we are to go to ordinances, that this is a day of the hiding of the Lord's face, wherein he is angry with our mother, and therefore is but little feen in her house; and therefore we had need to be more importunate in setting the appointment. Fourthly, Our days are evil, in regard they are
days of threatened wrath and impending judgements!
The clouds of wrath are hanging over our heads, and we have many Tad presages of a stroke. We may here notice three things.
1. The sins of the generation are come to a monstrous height. And as the progress thereof is fomewhat unordinary, so it seems to thew that the cup of these nations is near the brim.
2. The Lord's hand has been heavily laid on a nation abroad, from which these nations have taken an example of sinning, and the Lord may juftly punish us accordingly *
2. Enemies are still busy in their contrivances to bring the nations into blood and confusion; and the increase of Popery, and the divisions in the nations on civil and facred concerns, do expose us to be the more easy prey.
This calls aloud to the redeeming of time; and,
11, To awaken out of fleep, and seriously 'to confider the signs of the time, the tokens of wrath gone out against us, that the day may not overtake us un awares, Matth. xvi. 3: We have had many warnings of an approaching stroke, but mercy has fo often interposed for our delivery, that grace to improve them not coming along with them, we are generally more secure than formerly; and the more secure, the more likely is the Itroke to be near: i Theff. y. 3. For when they fall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a wo: man with child; and they shall not escape.
dly, To prepare for a time of trial, Amos iv. I 2. Temafore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and be cause I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy Gods o Ifrael. The time should be improved as Noah did his, Heb. xi. 7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not feen as yet, moved with fear, prepared
• The author means the plaguie, which first began at Marseilles in France, and made terrible havock in that kingdom.
an ark to the saving of his house. And the best preparation is that, Micah v. 5. This man ball be the peace, when the Allyrian cometh into our land. Their case was fad in Noah's days who were without the ark; so when the Lord's anger goes through a land, the case of those must be very fad who are out of Chrift.
3dly, To stay our too eager pursuit after the world, and be content with little, and rather to be taken up about our souls, and how to be carried through in the evil day. · Let us regard what Jeremiah said to Baruch, ser. xlv. 5. Seekept thou great things for thyfelf? feek them not. , ; .;
4thly, To labour to settle matters, and keep them clear between God and you, that there be no standing controversy betwixt the Lord and you.
Fifthly, and lastly, Our days are evil, in respect of the guilt of former times yet unpurged away. Our days are like those of Jofiah, 2 Kings xxiii. 26. Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. The perfidious treachery and apostasy of the land from the covenanted work of reformation, the blood of the saints fhed for the cause of God, with the oppressions, violence, and persecution on that score, are like the iniquity of Baal-peor, from which the land is not purged to this day. And this generation are fer-, ving themselves heirs to it, by the many pieces of des fection fast carried on at this day. So that God seems to be about to reckon with the present generation for all together.
This calls to the redeeming of time, to be taking a back-look of the national controversies of old and of late, to be mourning over them, and the disho hour done to God by them; and to be preparing to s meet the Lord in the way of his judgements. I shall conclude all with another use, namely,