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upon Christ himself! The folly of such is great, when salvation is near to them, and they solnear to salvation, and yet come short of it through unbelief.
6thly, See the madness and wickedness of some in our day, who scare God's doves from his windows, and who make the ordinances of God to be abhorred. Some do this by offering the doves unwholesome food of error or heathenish morality, or truth unskilfully prepared. Some scare the doves by their immoralities, and untender walk, like the sons of Eli, &c.; and judicatories, at this day, are scaring and scattering the Lord's doves from their windows, by violent intrusions, by which they shut both doors and windows of the sanctuary, and then exclaim against the poor doves, that they do not haunt their usual windows. God sees well how his doves, his little ones, are guided at this day; and he knows how to provide his doves, and reckon with those that scatter and fright them. He will, in his own time and way, take these foxes and vultures, which men and judicatories are letting slip through their fingers. The day of vengeance is in his heart, and the year of his redeemed is coming, Is. Ixiii. 4.
7thly, See the use both of law and gospel, and how they stand in sweet subserviency to the salvation of a soul. Why, by the noise, and thunders, and terrors of the law, God's doves are waked and set to the flight from the wrath to come; and this being done, the gospel opens the windows, and casts open the door of access to Christ, crying, “ Turn ye to your strongholds, ye prisoners of hope,” Zech. ix. 12: So that Christ being discovered in the gospel, the law becomes a schoolmaster to bring sinners to Christ, that they may “be justified by faith," Gal. iii. 24; " from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses," Acts xiii. 39. This much by way of inference.
Use second may be of Trial.
you fled to Christ as doves to their windows ? Many fly to Christ in a way of profession; but, if ever thy soul really took a flight to him upon the wings of faith and love, you may know it by these or the like things :
Ist, Did ever a thunder-clap from Mount Sinai startle you, and raise you out of your natural security, and put you in a consternation, like a heap of doves at the sight of a gun? So that you was wild, and knew not what to do, or whither to fly for help, like those converts, Acts ii. 37, and the jailer, Acts xvi. 27, and Paul at his conversion, &c.
2dly, When, like Noah's dove, you was wandering up and down in your thoughts for a place of rest, got you a discovery of the Ark Christ
, and did you come hovering about 1 the Ark? Our great Noah opened the windows of the Ark,
and took thee in with himself, and became a hiding-place to thee, &c.
3dly, If this be the case at thy entrance at the window of the Ark, thou hast been made to sing, Psal. cxvi. 7, “ Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee;" or that, Psal. ciii. 4: “ He redeemeth my life from destruction, he crowneth me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
4thly, If so, when you took your flight to Christ, you left all idols behind you, crying with Ephraim, “ What have I to do any more with idols ?" Those things you counted gain, will be loss in your view. As for sins, even your dearest sins, your right hands and right eyes, you will be careful to cut them off, and pull them out. As for the world, with which you was taken up, you will cry,
it is a mere mass of vanity, all " vanity and vexation of spirit.” As for the law, you will be dead to it as a husband. “I through the law am dead to the law.” As for your works of righteousness, in which you gloried, you will count them dung, and loss, filthy rags. As for the wisdom of the flesh, you will reckon it stark folly and madness. As for your own strength, you will see it to be weakness. I am not sufficient, of myself
, to think any thing as of myself.” As for your own fulness, you have found it to be nothing but emptiness; and that, instead of being rich and increased with goods, you have seen that
6 wretched and miserable, blind and naked.”
you have really fled to Christ as doves to their windows, there are some things you have found in him, which you could never find any where else. 1. Thou hast found the life of thy soul in him: Our “ life is hid with Christ in God: He that hath the Son hath life, and shall never come into condemnation.” 2. Thou hast found rest to thy soul in him: Thou triedst to find this and the former in lying refuges, but was always disappointed in thy expectation; but now, now, thou hast found it according to his promise, Matth. xi.: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” O glorious rest! Is. xi. 10. 3. Thou hast found soul health in him, like the woman that spent all her means upon other physicians to no purpose, tillshe came and touched the hem of Christ's garments, and then the bloody issue was stayed. So cannot thou say upon thy coming to Christ; thou foundst his countenance to be thy health; healing is under his wings, Mal. iv. 2; Psal. ciii. 3. He healeth all my diseases, &c. 4. Thou hast found food to thy soul in him : His “flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is
drink indeed, &c. O taste and see that the Lord is good," &c. 5. Thou hast found clothing to thy naked soul in him. You was trying, like our first parents, to cover thy nakedness with fig leaves, but now thou castest these away, and, taking the skin of the word to cover thee with, which God provided, and upon thy being thus clothed with the righteousness of Christ, thou hast been made to sing that song, Is. lxi. 10: “ He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness," &c. 6. You have found riches, and unsearchable riches, in him, that do not rot in the grave, gold better than the gold of Ophir, to make you up for all eternity. 7. In one word, you have found your God in him, whom you lost in the first Adam; for God is in Christ, and you have found him as your own God. And now you will be ready to say, He is “my God, and I
I will prepare him a habitation, even the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore I will exalt him." “ Our God is the God of salvation," &c. Use third
be of Consolation to God's doves in this dark and evil day, in which their usual windows to which they used to flock, are like to be shut by a set of men and judicatories who should open them, and who should gather God's doors, instead of scattering them.
There are these few things I offer for comfort in an evil day like this:
1st, Know for your encouragement, that, when the windows of public ordinances are shut up, either by persecution, violence, or defections, or when you are scared
from them by vultures, or birds of prey, that have got into the house, yet God can let you in to communion with him, by the private and secret windows I mentioned in the doctrinal part. God's doves, though they may be shut out of the church, yet they shall not be shut out from fellowship with him, one way or other; no, he will gather unto him them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly.
2dly, God hears the mourning of his doves even when they are driven to the “clefts of the rock, and secret places of the stairs," Cant. ii. 14, &c.
3dly, God's eye is upon his doves, and he “ tells all their wanderings ;-the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and they run to and fro, to show himself strong in behalf of them that fear him."
4thly, His heart and his affections are set upon his doves, even to a ravishment, Cant. iv. 9 : “ Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse.” And this affection is invaria.
. ble, for he “rests in his love."
5thly, The arms of his power and providence are about
his doves, and "He covers them with his feathers, and he will hide them in the secret of his tabernacle, when thousands shall fall at their side, and ten thousand at their right hand." "Come, my people, enter into your chambers, shut the doors about thee," &c.
6thly, Ere it be long, thy soul will take a flight out of this ill world, into the land of rest, the house of many mansions, where thou wilt be at rest for ever.
Use fourth might be of Terror to all those who are doing hurt to God's doves at this day.
Some are scaring and frightening them, some are scattering them, some are plucking at their gospel-rights and privileges, some plucking at their name with slander, some plucking them out of their dwellings, because they cannot commit themselves into the hands of the birds of prey. I shall only say to you, if there be any such hearing me, as I doubt not but there may be some of them to spy out our liberty on this occasion, 1. "God is jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy," Zech. i. 14. 2. He is sore displeased with you for the injuries that are done to them in helping on their affliction, Zech. i. 15. 3. God is preparing a cup for you to drink, and a bitter one, Psal. lxxv. 8: "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red," &c. He "will render tribulation to them that trouble" his doves. God's doves, that are mourning now, shall sing when you shall mourn; they will be singing in heaven, when you shall be morning and howling among devils, &c.
Use fifth shall be of Exhortation: 1st, To all in general; 2dly, To God's doves in particular.
1st, A word of exhortation to persuade sinners to rise out of the earth like a cloud, and fly like doves to Christ. O that all this company before me would clap their wings, and take a flight, and never rest until they had fled for refuge to this hope set before them in the gospel! To set you all a flight, if possible, let me deal with you in a rational
1. God commands you to fly to Christ, "This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."
2. He invites you to fly to his Christ," Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delighteth."
3. He entreats and beseeches you to fly to him, " We pray you in Christ's stead, as though God did beseech you by us, be ye reconciled to God."
4. He expostulates with you, because of your backslidings, to fly to him, "O my people! what have I done unto thee, and wherein have I wearied thee?"
5. He assures you of welcome by his promise, "Come to me" who will, “I will in no wise cast out." And by his oath, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live."
6. All things in his house are ready to give entertainment to you, behold, "all things are ready, come to the marriage, Proverbs, 8th and 9th chapters.
7. Fly, the windows are open, the heart of Christ is open. His arms are open and stretched out. His covenant is open to you to take hold of it.
8. Consider what is behind you. (1.) The roaring lion, ready to devour you. (2.) The curse of the broken law is behind you. (3.) The wrath of God is behind you. O! who knows the power of it?
9. There is no safety for you in heaven nor earth, if you do not fly from sin: "There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation. They that despised Moses' law died without mercy," &c.
10. The time of flying will be gone within a little; no flying out of hell; none to come to you there to cry, “Turn ye to your strong-holds, ye prisoners of hope." "He that liveth for ever and ever, hath sworn, with his hand lifted up to heaven, that time shall be no longer." "And therefore today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." 11. Fly, or else you will lose your soul for ever; "He that believeth not shall be damned." And "what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."
Object. 1. You bid us fly, but to what purpose? you tell us we are dead in sins? Answ. It is the glory of sovereign grace, to " show wonders to the dead:" see what he did among the dry bones, Ezek. xxxvii. 3: "Can these dry bones live?" Yea, if the Spirit of the Lord breathe upon them, God has bidden us to prophesy upon the dry bones, to cry to the dead, to arise and fly and therefore we must do it. And if God would bid me say to the mountains, Remove, to the rocks and trees and grass piles, Arise and live, I would do it, and I would believe that God would make it effectual.
Object. 2. You bid me fly, but, alas! I want wings to fly, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly." Answ. If there be a will to fly, and a hearty desire to fly, thou hast got wings and if you want even that, seeks wings from him that bids you fly, for he "giveth power to the faint," and then they mount up with wings as eagles, &c.
Object. 3. I have a load of sin upon my back, I cannot get up.' Answ. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord," and if you can