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"Now will I arise, faith the Lord," viz. " when their strength is gone, and none shut up, or left."
Obferv. 7. That in the times of the greatest defection and apostasy in the visible church, God has still a remnant that are cleaving to him and his way and cause. This is clearly implied here; he has servants that must be sealed, when the winds of error and corruption are hurling away the test of visible professors : Rev. iii. 4. "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments," &c. When all Israel was carried away with a flood of idolatry, God had his seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed the knee unto Baal. God will keep his hand about these, come of the rest of the world what will.
Qbferv. 8. God's remnant in this world, they are mingled ■with the rest of mankind ; they live promiscuously together in the same land, in the same parish, and in the same families. So much is imported in the staying of the winds until the servants of God were sealed. They are just like the wheat and chaff lying in the fame barn floor; or like the tares and corn which grow in the fame field, and yet are of a quite different nature, and therefore cannot but be a great grievance to one another; the godly are a burden to the wicked, and. the wicked are a burden to the godly. Hence is that melancholy sonnet of David's, " Wo is me, that I sojourn m Mesech, that 1 dwell in the tents of Kedar."
Obferv. 9. That nlthough godly and wicked be as it were umbled together, yet the Lord knoweth them that are his, and lis eyes are running to and fro, to shew himself strong on their behalf. Hence you see here the Angel who is their guardian, Jesus Christ, he cries to slop the winds till they be sealed; which implies, that he knows them that were to be sealed, and was exercising a particular providence about them. He that calls forth the stars by name, he knows all his jewels by name and sirname ; and no wonder, for he bears their name on his breast, their names are written in the Lamb's book, that none of them be lost.
Obferv. 10. That when once provision is made for the safety and welfare of God's faithful servants and people, he then gives a loose unto his awful and terrible judgements aeainst a wicked world, the generation of his wrath. You see here that the restraint is only until the servants of God be sealed ■ which implies, that whenever theywere sealed, the restraint was" taken off, and the angels loosed the four hurtful winds against the rest of mankind. 80 soon as Noah and his family were shut up ,n he ark, the sounrams of the great deep, and the wmdows ot heaven, opened, a loose is^givea unto the waters
os the deluge upon the old world. So soon as Lot is gone out of Sodom, snares, fire, and brimstone, are rained down from heaven upon the rest of the wicked inhabitants. Whence we fee, that th« truly godly, though they be the objects of the world's hatred, yet they are the pillars of the land where they lire, to keep off the judgements of God from them: If. i. 9. "fcxcept the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah."
Observ. 11. That God's particular interest in his people is their safety and security in an evil day. They are the servants tf our God, and therefore they must hi sealed.
Observ. 12. That Christ and believers they have one common God and Father; and therefore here he takes them in with himself when he speaks of them, Oar Gid; hence is that new Testament name, " The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." He and they are included in one covenant, wrapt up in the fame robe. But, passing all these, the doctrine I intend to insist upon is that which follows.
Observ. "That whatever pernicious and hurtful winds may be allowed to blow in the militant church, Christ, her glorious head and guardian, will take a distinguishing care for the safety of those that are found faithful to him in an evil day, that they do not sustain any real hurt thereby."
The foundation of the doctrine is clear and obvious; for here, when the four winds are just ready to blow, Christ, the great Angel, that has the seal of the living God, ascends from the east, arises as it were out of obscurity, and gives the cry, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. See for proof Ezek. ix. 4. " Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry," &c.
In discoursing this doctrine, I shall, through divine assistance, endeavour the order and method following.
1.1 shall take notice of a few of those hurtful winds that are; suffered to blow in the church militant, and who they are that are hurt by them.
II. I would inquire who are those servants of God for whose sake the hurtful winds are restrained for a time.
III. I would speak a little of the seal that he sets upon them '.& their security against hurtful winds.
IV. Why he doth fet a feal upon them.
V. Apply the whole in fome ufes.
1. The firft thing is, to tale notice of some of thofe pernicious -winds wherewith the church of Chrift Is infested while here in a militant state. !«-.
i then, There is the wind'of open violence, perfecution, and bloodfhed. The roaring lion he delights in blood, efpecially the blood of the faints, who are the true feed of the woman,and therefore commonly this is the sirst thing that he essays in order to ruin the church of Christ. Hence he instigated Cain to flay his brother Abel. He instigated the Jews to crucify the Lord of glory, and to perfecute his apostles: and the Uoiruns, by ten feveral perfecutions, to raze the Christian church if possible from the face of the earth. And it is well known how he did instigate malignant men in power under fome reigns before the late revolution, to essay, by perfecution and bloodfhed, to raze a covenanted reformation, and all that owned it, from oss the face of the earth. And we fee the fame fpirit of enmity at this day raging against that fame work and caufe under another denomination; only the great Angel of the covenant does not allow as yet that wind tcblow ; but how foon the permission is given, I make no doubt but we may fee the Grafsmarket, and other places through Scotland, reeking as fall as ever with the blood of the faints.
2. Sometimes, and very frequently, the hurtful wind of error in doctrine is fussered to blow in the barn or sield of the visible church. "There must be herefies, (fays the apostle), that they which are approved, may be made manifest," 1 Cor. xi. iy. Thofe herefies are compared to the wind ; hence that Lph. i. 14. "Be not like children, tossed to and fro, and carTied about with every wind of doctrine." It galls and torments the devil, to fee the church of Christ possessing the pure truths of God. He himfelf abode not in the truth, and therefore cannot endure to fee any abiding in it; and therefore studies by all means to fow the tares of error and corruption in doctrine, whereby the food of the church may be poifoned, ami people perverted from the simplicity of the gofpel. And, indeed, when once it has entered, it Hies like a pestilential wind, corrupting the minds of men. Manifold melancholy instances might be adduced, both in former ages, and in our own day; hut I must not enlarge, that 1 may win forward to the application. 1 fhall only, add, that truth in its purity is fuch a valuable commodity, that every man is to contend for it as in an agony ; for if but tiic least hoof of it be parted with, we
are are in danger of loosing the whole, because of the necessary connection of truth in the system of our holy religion.
3. Another hurtful wind is the wind of strong delusions as to everlasting foul concerns ; and this is consequential unto the former. It is very common and ordinary, when God has Hiven his statutes and testimonies unto a people in purity, as alight unto their feet,and a lamp unto their paths, and, instead of taking heed unto the sure word of prophecy, as unto a light seining in a dark place, they embrace, countenance, and patronize error; God, in that cafe, chooses their own delusions, suffers them to feed upon airies, a deceived heart to turn them alkie that they cannot deliver their foul, nor fay, " Is there not a lie in my right hand ?" If. xliv. 20. Thus he dealt with Israel, Psal. Ixxxi. 11. 12. " My people would not hearken to my voice: and Israel would none of me. Therefore I gave them up unto their own hearts lusts: and they walked in their own counsels." Thus he dealt with the abettors and supporters of antichristian errors, 2 Thess ii. 11. 12. they received not the truth in the love of it; therefore God gave them up unto strong delusions, to believe lies. And this is the very cafe with multitudes both of ministers and people in our own, day. They have forsaken the reformation doctrine, principles, and covenants,in many instances, which are made known 10 the world : they have rejected a testimony for that glorious work, ind killed the witnesses, and cast them out; for which cause God is giving many of them up in this generation to such strong illusion, as to believe a lie, and to cry up that for a saving woik of God, which looks like that judgement we read of, If. vi. 9—12. " And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and fee ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes : lest they fee with their eyes, and hear with 'heir ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be heiled," &c.
4. There is the wind of temptation tint blows in the visible church. This was a wind that blew hard on the glorious Htad and Captain of our sah ation, as you fee Matth. iv. He was tempted to a distrust os providence, to self-murder, and to call in question his own supreme Deity. And therefore, none of !m itiends and followers need be surprised when they meet with the like attacks; and never is the enemy more ready to raike an attack upon the Christian, than when he has taen aimitted unto fellowship with, and nearness to, thr Lord, as ;ou set: in tr.e case of Peter, after he had been at the sirlt supper where Christ himseif was ptrsor.a.ly present, Luke xxiL 31.32." ijimen, Simon, behold Satan hath d-.-lir-^d to have you,
that that he may sift you as wheat," &'c. And therefore, you that have been at a communion table, and enjoyed any thing of the Lord, take heed to yourselves, for you may< expect a winnowing wind from Kell to blow ere it be long: Oh look by the eye of faith to your Advocate with the Father, that he may pray that your faith fail not.
5. Another hurtful wind i3 the wind of profanity and open ungodliness. Usually when men espouse errors, and lax toleration principles, God gives up with them, lays the reins upon their necks, and suffers them to run into all excess of riot, faying, " Let us eat arid drink, for to-morrow we' shall die; let us make the best of the world and the pleasures of it that \*.c can. Thus God dealt with the very Heathen, when they did not walk up to the light and law of nature, Rom. i. 25. 26. 28. 29. Now, if God thus punished the abuse of nature's light, how much more will he not punfsh the abuse of gospel light, by giving a people unto all manner of impiety? which is the cafe •with multitudes among us at this day, who are given up to the fame abominations with Heathens.
6. All these winds are commonly followed with the winds of sweeping and desolating judgements, such as sword, famine, and pestilence, whereby the wicked are turned off the stage of time into a miserable eternity. Many awful beacons of God's severity and justice this way are left upon record to us in the . scriptures of truth, such as the old world, faodom and Gomorrah, the Jewish church and nation; and truly I am afraid, yea, I may be pretty positive, that God is faying to us in this land, upon the account of perjury, covenant-breaking, apostasy, contempt of the truth, persecution and church tyranny, profanity, and the like, "How shall I pardon you for these? t shall I not visit for these things? and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this i" The rumour of war is begun,-but where it shall end, God knows. Perhaps God is faying, ns in If. vi. when the prophet puts the question, When, or how long, shall these spiritual judgements last ? the Lord answers, ver. ii. 12. " Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate," &c.
Thus I have told you of some of those hurtful winds that God lets blow in the visible church. But now you may ask me, What are we to understand by the earth, the sea, and thi trees, that shall be hurt by these winds, particularly the winds of error, defection, and delusion, &c. ? I (hall just give you the opinion of the judicious Durham upon the place.'
1. then, By the earth, we are to understand earthly minded professors, who suppose gain to be gcdliness. They have some