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wind in the day of the east-wind. The destroying axe being threatened, mercy has prevailed to hold with the pruning-knife; and God has lightly afflict. ed, when justly he might have made his strokes
heavy to a pitch. | Lastly, By putting a stop even to the course of
leffer strokes, when he might have carried them on
to the making of a full end, Jer. v. 10. Go ye up upT on her walls, and destroy, but make not a full end :
take away her battlements, for they are not the Lord's. He returns and does them good, after he has done them evil. Having pinched them a while, in mercy he relieves them, looses their bands, and lays meat again before them.
III. I shall give the reasons why mercy thus interposeth for the relief of such a people on the brink 1 of ruin.
1. Because of a mourning and serious remnant that 1 may be among them, endeavouring to keep their
garments clean, as God would have spared Sodom, if there had been but ten righteous persons found in it, Gen. xviii. 32. In public calamities they readily bear their share, and the Lord himself has a sympathy with them in their afflictions, as he had with Israel, If. lxiii. 9. In all their affliction he was affliEted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. And therefore he extends mercy to the community where, in they are. And he has a regard to their prayers and supplications in that case; Exod. xxxii. 10. Now therefore let me alone, says the Lord to Moses, that my wrath may wax hot against them.
2. Because of the infolence wherewith their enemies would carry themselves, both towards God and them, if God should give up with them. Many a time the church is more obliged for preservation to the infolent temper of her enemies, than to the
good disposition of many of her members; Deut. xxxii. 26. 27. I said, I would scatter them into corners, said the Lord of Israel of old, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, left their adversaries Joould behave themselves Atrangely, and left they sould say, Our hand is high, and the Lord. hath not done all this. The blafphemies of a Popish and malignant party have been a plea for mercy to keep us hitherto out of their hands.
Lastly, Because God has a peculiar delight in mercy, it is his darling attribute, Micah vii. 18. As the bee naturally gives honey, but does not fting, except when it is irritated and provoked; fo God readily goes into the side of mercy, and does not punish but when provoked to anger, Lam. iii. 33. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the chil. dren of men. It is his strange act, If. xxviii. 21. For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he sball be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his acts his strange act.
I shall conclude with a very short improvement.
This day this fcripture is fulfilled in our eyes, as it has been many a day. Had the summer been of a piece with the threatening unnatural-like spring, it was hard as it was ; but it would have been far more so. Had this harvest misgiven as it some time threatened, what a heavy condition would the country have been in for want of bread! Therefore,
1. Let us be thankful to God, whose mercy interposed seasonably for our relief, when we were on the brink of ruin. 'To that we must attribute the relief, not to our own behaviour. For the sins of the generation, the Atheism, blafphemy, profaneness, unfruitfulness under the gospel, added to the Gns of former times, with the killing aggravations thereof, demanded ruining strokes.
2. Let us own God to be a gracious God, flow to wrath ; saying with David, Psal. cxix. 68. Thou art good, and doji good. And Psal. cxlv. 8. 9. The Lord is gracious, and full of compasion ; now to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all : and his tender mercies are over all his other works. Let his goodness lead and exeite us to repentance, and to a more confcientious 'use of plenty; and learn to fear the Lord, and his goodness, Hof. iii. 5. walking humbly before him in a senfe of undeferved favours. Jacob's example is worthy of our imitation in this matter, Gen. xxxii. 1o. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, (says he), and of all the truth, which thou hast fewed unto thy servant.
3. Let us know that this kind dealing will render us inexcusable, if we repent not, and turn from all our fins unto God through Christ. The favourable interpositions of his providence towards us, time after time, not having their designed effect upon us, in melting us, our guilt will thereby be fearfully heightened. See in what light the Lord considers such conduct, and how he represents it, If. i. 1. 2. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, earth: for the Lord hath Spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Ifrael doth not know, my people doth not consideri · Laftly, Ruining strokes coming on after such workings of mercy, will go to the quick, and bring double ruin on the generation. The more mercy has prevailed to ward off judgements, the heavier will judgements be when they come. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let us be induced to return unto him in the exercise of faith, gospel-repente ance, and reformation according to his word.
The duty of owning God in our civil
Affairs recommended and urged.
S E R M 0 N
Joshua ix. 14. And the men took of their vi&tuals, and asked not coun
Jel at the mouth of the Lord.
his fancy. looking furto bargailigpole of theme
'A MONG the evidences of the decay of religion
A at this day, it is none of the least, that God and his law are so little owned and looked to, in managing of civil affairs. Many in these affairs, though of great weight, have little or no use at all for their religion. Men can dispose of themselves and families, and enter into bargains and contracts, with. out ever looking further than their worldly interest or fancy. This is the time of year wherein the throng of that kind comes in. And I would caution you against forgetting God in these matters.
In the text we have the error of the princes of Israel in their managing of their bargain with the Gibeonites, which was displeasing and dishonour. 1 able to God, uncomfortable to themselves when they saw afterwards how they had been outwitted, but could not mend themselves, and offensive to the congregation. Their error lay in these two things.
1. Their leaning to their own understanding in the whole management of the business: The men, the princes of Israel, took of their victuals, their mouldy provision. They did not this out of any
able to come which aging of in
want of victuals of their own, nor fondness they had for theirs, nor as feasting with them upon them, for they would have made but a very unpleafant meal. But they did it to examine the truth of their representation ; and by their handling and tasting of them they found they were old and dry, and upon this insufficient proof were satisfied, that all was as was represented; and fo proceeded to covenant with them.
2. Not owning of God in the business. They might and ought to have asked the Lord's mind in this matter, and to have walked by his direction. But as if they had been independent of God in such matters, and had been wife enough to see to themfelves, they never owned God in the matter. No doubt they thought they needed not, that it was a plain case: but therein they find their rashness mires
them afterward: Had they first asked counsel of God, 7 and then taken of their victuals, they had discovered
the cheat, and kept their consciences clean. But 1 they left God, and God left them, in the business.
. Doct. As it is the duty of all to own and acknowledge God in their civil affairs, and business with men
in the world; fo God takes notice of, and is much dife pleased with mens not owning of him in these.
In discoursing from this point, I shall,
II. Shew whence it is that men do not own God in their affairs.
I. I am to give the reasons of the doctrine. Confis der,
i. God's command binds us peremptorily to own him in all our ways without exception, Prov. ii. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he fall direct thy paths. We must take our religion along with us