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of God himself; in which he declares what kind of falt is acceptable to him: Is it such a fast as I have chosen ? a day for a man to aflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread fackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chofen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, and to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke ? is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out, to thine house? when thou feest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thy self from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy salvation shall spring forth speedily: thy righteousness, or thine alms, small go before thee ; and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rere-ward. Then shalt thou call, and I will answer thee; thou shalt cry, and he fball say, Here I am, Ir. Iviïi. 5. 6. &c.
Now, to him that fitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was sain : to God, even our Father, and to our Lord Jesus Ğhrist, the first begotten from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth; unto him, who hath loved us, and washed us from our fins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.
And the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his fight, through Jesus Chrift; to whom be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
The way to prevent the ruin of a sinful people.
A fast-fermon, preached before the Lord Mayor, &c. on
Wednesday, June 18. 1690.
The E PISIL E DEDICATOR Y.
To the Right Honourable Sir THOMAS PILKINGTON,
Lord Mayor of the city of London, and the court of Aldermen.
My Lord, T Nobedience to your commands, I have published this fer1 mon lately preached before you, and do now humbly present you with it; heartily wishing it may have that good effect for the reformation of our lives, and reconciliation of our unhappy differences, which was fincerely intended by,
Your most faithful and humble servant,
The SĖ RM O N.
JE R. vi. 8. Be thou instructed, o Jerusalem, left my soul depart from
thee ; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited. " Hese words are a merciful warning from God to
the people of Israel by the Prophet Jeremiah,
the last Prophet that God sent to them before their captivity in Babylon.
The time of his prophecy was of a long continuance, above the space of forty years, viz. from the thirteenth year of King Josiah, to the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, the year in which Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon.
This I observe, to shew the great patience of God to a sinful nation. And this is much the same space of time that God gave warning by our blessed Saviour and his Apostles to the same people of the Jews concerning their final destruction. For it was about forty years after the prediction of our Saviour concerning it, just before his death, that the terrible destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation was executed upon them by the Romans, or rather chiefly by themselves, as I shall presently shew. Of which dreadful desolation, the first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and their captivity into Babylon, was a kind of type and forerunner, For, as Josephus observes, the taking of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian did happen in the very same month, and on the very same day of the month in which Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, viz. upon our roth of August. · And it is not unworthy of our observation, that the time of God's warning is wont to hold some sort of proportion with the extent of his judgments. Before the universal deluge, which destroyed the whole world, Noah and his family only excepted, God gave a much longer warning, by the preaching of Noah for the space of an hundred and twenty years. Before the destruction of a particular nation, if we may judge by God's dealing with the Jews, his time of warning is forty years. And before the destruction of a particular city, if we may conclude any thing from the single example of Nineveh, the time of God's warning is yet much shorter, the space of forty days.
And now to what end doth God excrcise so much patience, and threaten so long beforehand, but that by the terror of his threatenings men may be brought to repentance, and by repentance may prevent the execution of them ? For all the while that God by his Prophet threatens ruin and destruction to the people of Israel, he earnestly invites and urges them to repentance, that by VOL.II. Dd
this this means they might escape the ruin that was denounced against them : this being a condition perpetually implied in the denunciation of publick judgments, that if a peo. ple repent of the evil of their doings, God also will re- . pent of the evil which he said he would do unto them; as he expressly declares, chap. xviii. 7. 8. At what infant 1 speak concerning a nation, and concerning a king dom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil which I thought to do unto them, And here in the text, after God had threatened destructi. on to Jerusalem, because of the overflowing of all manner of wickedness and oppression in the midst of her, he gives her a merciful warning to prevent this ruin and defolation by repentance, x 6. 7. Thus hath the Lord of holts faid, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against
Jerusalem : this is a city to be visited, me is wholly oppref lion in the midst of her. As a fountain casteth out waters, To the casteth out her wickedness : before me continually is grief and wounds. And yet, when he had pronounced this fearful sentence upon her, he tells her, that all this misery and desolation might yet be prevented, if they would but hearken to the counsel of God, and be instructed by him concerning the things of their peace : For so it follows in the next words, Be thou instructed, o Jerusalem, left my soul depart from thee; left I make thee defolate, a land not inhabited. Be thou instructed, o Jerusalem; that is, Do but now at last take that counsel and warning, which hath so often and so long been tendered to thee by my servant the Prophet, who hath now for the space of forty years continually, and that with great earnestness and importunity, been warning thee of this danger, and calling thee to repentance and a better mind.
Left my soul depart from thee. In the Hebrew it is, Lest my soul be loosened and disjointed from thee, as it is in the margin of your Bibles; hereby signifying, in the most emphatical manner, the wonderful affection and kin 'ness which God had for his people, and how strongly his soul was linked to them, and how loth he was to withdraw his love from thein : it was like the tearing off of a limb, or the plucking of a joint in sunder. So un
willing is God to come to extremity, so hardly is he brought to resolve upon the ruin even of a sinful nation: how much rather would he, that they would be inítrućted, and receive correction, and hearken to the times of their peace ? But if they will not be persuaded, ii 110 warning will work upon them, his spirit will not alway's strive with them; but his foul will at laft, though with great unwillingness and reluctancy, depart from them.
And then no intercession will prevail for them; as he threatens by the fame Prophet, chap. xv. 1. Then fard the Lord unto me, though Mofes and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be towards this people ; cast them out of my sig?t, and let them go forth ; away with them into captivity, for they have lost my heart ; and no intercession of others for them, nothing but their own repentance, can recover it.
And when his soul is once departed from a people, and his heart turned against them, then all sorts of evils and calamitics will be let loose upon them; as we may read in the next verse of that chapter, Jer. xv. 2. And it Jhall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither Mall we go forth? then thou Malt tell them, Thus faith the Lord, Such as are for death, to death.; and such as are for the fword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine ; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. For then God will be weary of repenting; as he tells them, v 6. Thou hast forsaken me, faith the Lord, thou art gone backward : therefore will Istretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary of repenting. By our obstinate impenitency, we harden the heart of God against us, and make him weary of repenting. And when his soul is thus departed from a people, nothing remains but a fearful expectation of ruin: Hof. ix. 12. Wo unto them, (faith God by the Prophet), when I depart from them. Therefore be thou instructed, o Jerufalem, left my foul depart from thee; left I make thce defolate, á land not inhabited.
Having given this account of the words, I shall observe from them three things well worth our consideration..
1. The infinite goodness and patience of God towards a sinful people, and his great unwillingness to bring ruin Dd 2