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Lord and Master heir of all things, and he has sent us forth to court a spouse for him. There is none than can say so much to the commendation of their Lord as we may for he is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand, yea, he is altogether lovely; and there is no bride so unworthy as the daughter of Zion. And shall our Lord get the naysay off the hands of ugly, hell-hued, beggarly souls, and the prince of darkness be preferred to the Prince of Peace? Our Lord has got the gift of the kingdom from his Father, and of this land among others, Psal. ii, 8. and he has sent us out to beseech you and command you in his name to submit to our royal Master; and must we take him word, that ye will not have this man to reign over you? Luke xix. 14.
2. God works with us. We are but the voice of one crying; the Speaker is in heaven, and speaks from heaven, though by men, Heb. xii. 25. Therefore the slighting of our message is a slighting of the Lord himself; See Matth. xxviii. 20. Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world.' Have ye never had the secrets of your hearts made manifest by the preaching of the word? why then fall ye not down before our Lord? why say ye not, We will go with you, for the Lord is with you? O fight not against God.
3. The message we bring you is the grace of God; and shall it be received in vain? This gospel,
(1.) Is most necessary grace. What a dismal darkness overclouded the world by Adam's fall, more terrible than if the sun, moon, and stars, had been for ever wrapt up in the blackness of darkness, in which we should for ever have lain, had not this grace appeared as a shining sun to dispel it, Tit. ii. 11. So the word rendered appeared properly signifies. And shall we now like night-owls flee from the face of the rising sun, and like wild beasts get into our hellish dens, when this sun is up? Are we struck blind with its light, and such creatures of darkness, that we will love darkness rather than light?
(2.) It is an uncommon grace. This sun enlightens but a small part of the world. The most part are yet without the gospel; and this land had it not always. Nothing but grace brought it to, and has kept it with us. And shall we receive it in vain? Ah? will not the wild Americans think us unworthy of a place in the same hell with them?
(3.) It is the greatest grace that God ever bestowed on the world. God has given some nations gold mines, precious stones, spices, plenty of corns, &c. and he has given some the gospel without these; so that we may say of them, • Israel then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places,' Deut. xxxiii. 28, 29, Barley-bread and the gospel is good cheer, if people receive it not in vain, Isa. xxx. 20, 21. There is a treasure in the gospel, Christ in it is the greatest of all mercies, Matth. xiii. 44. Ah! shall such a price be put in the hands of fools, that have no heart to it.
(4.) It is God's last grace to the world, Heb. i. 1. No other dispensation of grace shall ever the world see more. Now, Sirs, the last ship for Immanuel's land is making ready to go; therefore now or never, Heb. x. 26, 27. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.' This gospel is the Lord's farewel sermon to the world. The Lord has made a feast for the world these five thousand years, and the last dish is served up now. O then receive it not in vain!
(5.) Lastly, It is grace that may be lost, Matth. xxiii. 37. 38. The sun of the gospel has gone down in some places, where it shined as clearly as ever it did in Scotland, and God knows if ever it rise again there. That we have received it much in vain, is plain from the heavy hand of God on us at this day in temporal calamities, Hos. ii. 9. yea, and his threatening us with the removal of the gospel, ver. 11. O then receive it not in vain; but, while ye have the light, be walking in it for to look no farther than the entertainment the gospel is getting at this day, it is a sad sign there is a black night abiding us: so that I think ministers and people should set themselves about it as a way-going commodity.
THE DANGER OF NOT COMPLYING WITH THE Gospel.-CALL
PROV. ix. 12.-If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
THIS verse is the epilogue or conclusion of the gospeltreaty with sinners, carried on with them by the messengers of Christ in his name. It is a solemn declaration or protestation that it is shut up with. The entertainment the gospel meets with, is twofold, and there are two sorts (and but two) of gospel-hearers. (1.) Compliers with the gospelcall; these are called the wise. (2.) Refusers; these are styled scorners. The declaration looks to both, and is carried as it were, after the offer is made, to every individual man and woman's door that hears the gospel. It is not, They that are wise, shall be wise for themselves; but hereby the Lord speaks to every one in particular, If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself, &c. Which class soever one puts himself into, here is his case declared. (1.) If thou be wise, and comply, the gain shall be thine own; it is not the Lord's, but the fruit shall drop into thine own lap. (2.) If thou scornest, and refusest, the loss shall be thine, it will lie chiefly at least on thine own head. So the exclusive particle is taken, Psal. li. 4. Against thee, thee only have I sinned.'
I design not to insist on these words, but only with them to shut up the call to the improvement of the gospel and religion which I have been giving you. Thus the great duty is laid before you: and now I would apply the words of the text unto you on this occasion, and to every one of you. Ye have heard the nature of faith and repentance, the utility of public ordinances for salvation, and the necessity of not receiving of the gospel in vain. Now, sinner, what wilt thou do? wilt thou comply with the gospel-offer or not? Well, I protest and declare in the terms of the text, If thou be wise thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it. I shall branch out this protestation in three particulars.
First, If thou be not a complier with the gospel-call, thou art a scorner of it; there is no mids. This is evident from the text, which divides all gospel-hearers into these two sorts. Now, thou art not a complier with the gospel-call, as long as,
1. Thou entertainest any prejudice against religion, and wilt not come to Christ, John v. 40. Thou art a refuser in that case, thou wilt not be obedient, but turnest away thine ear and shoulder. Men may receive and comply with a form of religion and a profession, who yet are under reigning prejudice against the power of godliness, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Now, since religion lies inwardly, and consists not in word, but in power, these are not compliers, for they say they will not come into the inner court.
2. Thou art in a doubt whether to come or not, or delayest and puttest it off. Halters between two opinions are not compliers with the gospel-call. Nor will the call admit of a delay, like that of the sluggard, Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep,' Prov. vi. 10. For see the effect of such a sluggish delay, ver. 11. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. It is To day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.' If thou delay then till tomorrow, thou rejectest the call, thou art a scorner of the offer.
3. If in any case thou dost not come, dost not turn from thy sins unto God in Christ, sincerely, thoroughly, and universally, thou dost not comply, Jer. iii. 10. The hypocrite, that satisfies himself with his partial turning, is a non-complier, a rebel against King Christ, as well as the profane, and shall bear the weight of it, Psal. cxxv. 5. As for such as turn aside into their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity. Now, in this case of thy not complying with the gospel-call, our God looks on thee as the scorner of it, Psal. i. 1. Prov. i. 22, 26. What king proclaiming an indemnity to rebels, would not look on those that refused to take the benefit of it, as scorners of his clemency? Is it possible for him to look on them as neutrals with respect to his interest? nay, he must look on them as engrained enemies to his person and government. So is the case here. And that thou art guilty of scorning in this, will be evident, if you consider, that, by your not complying with the gospel-call,
(1.) Thou abusest the mercy, goodness, and patience of God. God offers thee mercy and grace in his own way, upon thy coming to him in Christ, leaving thy sins. But thou graspest at his mercy in thy sins, as if thou wouldst offer violence to the mercy of God, saying, as Deut. xxix. 19. ‘I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.' Thou snatchest peace out of his hand, and by thy grasping of gospel-privileges, making no conscience of gospel-duties, scornest the call.
(2.) Thou slightest, making no account of the gospel-call, but indeed lookest on it as a trifling, inconsiderable thing, Job xli. 29; Is not this the treatment the gospel meets with from the most part? They make light of it,' Matth. xxii. 5; The great offer of the gospel is despised, the good things it offers are undervalued, and any the least worldly pleasure or profit is preferred; and for the threatenings wherewith it is backed, they are in effect looked upon but as bugbears and scarecrows, the sounding again of the mountains; and thus they are scorned.
(3.) Thou exposest it to shame and dishonour; and is not that scorning, Prov. xx. 1; A generous spirit knows how far a inan is out, when his offered kindness and good-will is neglected. And thus thou treatest the God that made thee. He offers thee his friendship before the world, angels, and men, and thou regardest it not; the Son of God courts thee by his ambassadors to a marriage with himself, but thou slightest the proposal. And is not that to scorn him, and rub an affront on him, before all that are witnesses to the neglect thou puttest upon him?
(4.) Thou failest of thy fair promises, and so defeatest and frustratest good expectations concerning thee. And is not that scorning? Matth. ii. 16; Heathens do not scorn the royal Bridegroom; for as he was never in their offer, so they never said they would not take him: but as thou wast baptized in his name, thou didst engage to be his, and yet thou ruest again, and sayest, Thou wilt have none of him. How inany times hast thou broken thy word to him, after thou hadst given a consent, yea, sealed the contract before many witnesses at a sacrament or so? How often hast thou scorned thy God, as the son did his father, saying, I go, but went not?" Matth. xxi. 30.
5.) Lastly, Thou makest thyself merry with thy disobe