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Perhaps some are beginning to fay already, Minister, we with you would let us alone ; preach the general truths of the word, but do not meddle with the particular evils of the place, or persons or parties in it. To fuch I shall only fay, that it bewrays guilt in any party or perfon whatever, when they cannot endure the plain truths of the word to be preached, with. out being irritated or offended. We are in Christ's stead, and if we utter any thing that does not correspond with our commission from the Lord, ye ate at liberty to reject it; but if we keep by our commission, and deliver nothing but what is the voice of the Angel, remember that it is hard for you to kick against the pricks. And with refpect to you who eannot endure plain dealing from the word, but would have general and smooth truths preached and infifted upon in a time of abounding and crying fin, see what is the voice of the Angel to you, I. Xxx. 12–14. Read from ver. 8. and downward, where you will see the perforrs characterised, to whom the word of the Lord is there spoken, “ They said to the seces, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy unto us smooth things." They choofed rather to be soothed and Aattered to their own deftruction, than to have their fores touched, and the truth told them, to the preservation and salvation of their souls. They could not endure to be troubled with harsh and repeated warnings from God. But fee what God fays by the pro-, phet in the next words, ver. 12-14. “Wherefore thus faith the holy One of Israel, Because yé defpife this word, and trust in oppreffion and perversenefs, and stay thereon; therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whofe breaking cometh suddenly at an instant," &c. You that fpurn at the reproofs, or warnings, or threatenings of the word, and love only to have smooth things preached unto you, take care, for ye are here told of your danger by the Lord of hofts; you are in danger of furprifing ruin, "the breaking shall come suddenly in an inftant,” when je do not expect it, " like the breaking of a potter's veffel.”
But now I come to tell you what I think is the Lord's voice unto this city and congregation ; for “ the Lord's voice is ci ying in the city,” though it is only the man of wisdom that will hear and obey the design of it. There are these two or three cries that I think the Angel is giving unto the city in general.
1. The firf is that which ye have been hearing front the mouth of your aged minister for fome time, Matth. xxi. 43. “ The kingdom of God fhall be taken from you, and given to others bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This city and congregation has been long privileged with the gofpel in purity; Vol. II.
the privileges of the kingdom of grace, and the way to the kingdom of glory, have been opened to you. The laws and the statutes of the kingdom have been published among you, by his heralds, whom he has sent one after another since the réformation from Popery ; but where is the fruit of all this among the bulk and generality ? how few are they that beJieve the gospel-report, and bring forth the fruits thereof, in their lives and conversation ? And therefore the Lord has been, and still is, crying, “ The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to others bringing forth the fruits thereof.” You may fee what the Lord says to, and does with, his barren vineyard, after all the pains he wared on it, II. v. 2.-6. " And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof," &c. Now, seeing the same cry is lifted up among you in this place, you had need to hear and take warning, left the issue be fatal, as it was to the children of Israel. “ If God spared not the natural branches, take heed left he spare not thee,” &c. :
2. The second cry to this city in particular, may be that which you have, If. lvii. 1. “ The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the
evil to come." Sirs, God's little remnant, however little they · may be thought of by some, yet they are the pillars of the land or city where they live : they stand in the gap to keep off the flood of wrath from the Lord, that is ready to break in upon a finful place ; If. i. g. “ Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah.” It was the want of a very small
handful of righteous persons in Sodom, that made hell to fall - out of heaven upon that wicked people. And therefore when
the Lord is taking away the righteous out of a place by death or otherwise, it is a sign that evil from the Lord of hosts is de: termined against that place. And is not this the case with us? The Lord is weeding up his own, and taking them away to their rest; and when few are laying such strokes to heart, it bodes ill to the place, and has a loud cry from the Angel of God's presence, that he is on his way to punish us for our iniquities.
3. Another cry that the Angel seems to be giving unto this city, is that which you have, Matth. xii. 25. “Every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation: and every city or house divided against itself, cannot stand.” It is a thing too well known now through the nation, to what a height party humour and interest has run, even to the effusion of blood and legal prosecutions before courts of justice. I do
not hot design to dip into party quarrels; only I notice, that the voice of these unnatural jars and divisions is, that the city is near a fall and ruin. It is a common and known maxim, and holds true of all societies, whether of one kind or another, That commonly ruin is the consequence of unnatural quarrels; that divisions end in desolations. "If we bite and devour one another, we shall be devoured one of another," Gal. v. 15. Churches and nations have known this by long experience. God first divided the builders of Babel, and then he scattered them. God sent a spirit of divifion among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, before they were utterly destroyed by the Roman armies. And seeing division and contention has been the common forem runner of ruin, both in cities and kingdoms, we have reason to think, that the cry of the Angel to us in this city is, that ruin and defolation is near.
4. Another cry that the Angel of God's presence is sending to this city, consequential to the former, is that which you have, Mark ix. 50.“ Have falt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.” You know the use of falt is to keep ficíh or other things from putrefaction. There are many putrefya ing lufts in the hearts of men, from whence wars and divisions do spring, Jam. iv. 1. Now, in order to the cure of these putrefying lufts, let the falt of God's word and grace have room and place within you, and then your contentions will soon cease, and men will be at peace one with another. Perhaps indeed the salt of divine truth may gall and nip corruptions and lufts; but when it doth so, do not spurn at the medicine, and him that applies it, but bear it with patience, and let it have its perfect work, until the sore be cured; for better to be falted, and have your fores touched with the word, than to be salted with the fire of God's vengeance, as you see our Lord argues with the Jews in the context. If there be any unmora tified luft pointed out to you by the word, take care, and cut it off, and pluck it out, though as dear to you as a right hand or a right eye, for better that, than be caft soul and body into the fire of hell; and therefore hear the voice of the Angel, “Haye falt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.” Yea, the voice of the Angel goes a little further, if men were able to bear it, and you will see what he says, Matth. v. 44. “ Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” This is a hard saying to corrupt nature, especialiy when men's spirits are aloft, pursuing their resentments against one another. But, Sirs, remember that vengeance is the Lord's, and he will repay it : and therefore when men bite and devour one another out of resentment,
and to fatisfy their revenge, they are taking God's work off his hand, and invading his prerogative ; and they that do so, while they avenge themselves, they are exposing themselves to the vengeance of God; who has said, Vengeance is not yours, but miné ; leave that to me, and I will repay it. But as for us when we are injured, he would have us to follow his own ex, ample, and to render good for evil: hence is that reafon that our Lord gives for that hard saying of loving and doing good to our enemies, ver.45. " That ye may refemble and prove yourselves to “be the children of your Father which is in heaven, who maketh his fun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. . . . . And if you would yet know more of the Angel's mind, with relation to your prefent differences, you may read the prece: ding part of the chapter, from ver 21. to: 26.and from ver. 38. to the close of the chapter. ' ; **1.5. Another cry that the Angel is giving to us in this place, is that which the prophet Zechariah was ordered to cry to Jerufalem in a day like this, chap. viii. 16. 17. « These are the things that ye fall do, Speak' ye every man the truth to his neighbour: execute the judgement of truth and peace in your gates. And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour, and love no falfe oath : for all these are things that I hate, faith the Lord.” And to the fame purpose is that, chap. vii. 9.-14.." Thus fpeaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgement, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother. And opprefs not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor, and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart,” &c. in
Thus I have told you what I toke to be the voice of the un: created Angel of the covenant to us in this place: and I take inftruments in every man's confcience, that these presents are intimate in the name of the Lord, without feud or favour, without regard to one fide or another. . 1 .
: I THOUGHT to have gone on to tell you what the Angel of God is crying to some sorts of finners among us. I cannot insist on particulars, only in short, '',
• 1. He is erying to all that turn their back on ordinances, .“ He that turneth away his ear from hearing his law, even his prayer shall be an abomination."
2. He is crying to all prayerless persons and families, and I fear there are too many of these, that he will " pour out his
fury, upon the heathen, and all the famílies that call 'not on. his name.".
, 3. He is crying to ignorant folk under the means of instrucn tion, “It is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour." in i
: 14. He is crying to every unbelieving finner, that he is "condemed already, and the wrath of God abideth on him." ;
5. He is crying to all hypocritical profeffors, that satisfy themselves with a name to live while dead; "The figners in Zion shall be afraid, and-fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrite in heart.” si..! .
i in 6. He is crying to all legalists that are fitting down upon their morality, civility, or good works done by them, as the foundation of their acceptance before God, that " by the works of the law no fleth living can be justified; that public cans and harlots shall enter into the kingdom of God before them.",
.., ill. indiri.. ! 7. He is crying to all that are refting upon their convictions, their flashes of joy or forrow,' their faith, love, joy, repenin ance, or any thing within them, as grounds of acceptance, or good claims of eternal life, as Is. l. ult. 4 Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that campass yourselves about with fparks : walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand, ye fhall lie down in forrow." .
8. He is crying to all profaners of the name of God, whea ther by a customary fwearing, or by rash or false oaths, « Thou thalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain : for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” And to these that deal in a stealing and swearing trade, he is saying, as Zech. v. 2-4. &c.
9. He is crying to all Sabbath breakers, to « remember his day, to keep it holy, to call it their delight, the holy of the Lord, and honourable.”
10. He is crying to all disobedient children, to honour their parents, and to hearken to their good counsel ; and they that will not, they shall be “ cut off from the land which the Lord God hath given us : The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles fhall eat it.” The voice of the Angel to every young body is that, Eccl. 1. " Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth." . 11. His voice to murderers, or all these whose hands are dipt in their neighbour's blood, as the hands of some were of late in this place, is, that, samhen he maketh inquisition for