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Qttery 4. But why are they (aid to be sealed in their foreheads?
Anfw. The forehead, you know, is the upper part of the face, the most conspicuous part' of a man's countenance v and I conceive the seal upon the forehead it may import two things.
1. Their visible profession of Christ, and thtir open owning of the Lord, and his way and cause, in the time of the greatest opposition, when error, and delusion, and persecution, was most rampant in the visible church. Sirs, it is not enough to be night-disciples, when Christ is calling us to confess hrni before men; no, we must comr forth to the open field, when called up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. He did not hide his face from shame and spitting, but openly endured the cross, and despised the shame ; and yet shall we be ashamed of him, or afraid to own him before the world? It is dangerous to come near the borders of denying him and his cause before men, lest he should deny us before hib Father, and before his angels. Christ's plough, his cause, and testimony, drives heavily for many professors in Scotland at this day; and because they have been so slack-handed this way, God is leaving some, both ministers and people, to put hand to another fort of plough, which will produce a melancholy crop ere all be done.
2. Their being maiked or sealed in the forehead implies, that, in the time of common calamity, God will make such a visible difference between his own faithful servants and others, that he that runs may read, according to that, Mai. iii. 18. "Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked-, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not." The righteous and the wicked they live together now (as I was faying); but ere it be long, God will put such a visible mark of favour upon the one, and of vengeance upon the other, that all men and angels (hall know the one from the other, and at the end the separation will be as wide as between heaven and hell.
IV. The fourth thing in the method was, to inquire into the reasons ivhy Christ, the Angel of the covenant, will have his servants marked in their foreheads, "when the winds are to be let blow?
Anfw. 1. In so many words, he will have them sealed, because they are his Father's gift, " Thine they were, and thou gavest them me ;" and for the Father's fake that gave them, he will have them sealed.
2. Because he h*<h bought them at a dear rate, even with
the the price of his precious blood, not with silver, or gold, or such corruptible things, &c.
3. Because they are bis sheep, his lambs that he carries in his bosom, Is. xl. 11.
4. Because they are his servants, the servants of God, their ear he has bored, they love their Master, &c.
5. Because they are his peculiar friends, "I call you no more servants, but friends," John xv. 14. 15.
6. Because they are his feed, If. liii. ic. Plal. xxii. 30. " A fed shall serve him," &c. ^
7 Because they are his spouse and bride, he their Husband and Bridegroom, Is. liv. 5. Hoi. ii. 16. &c.
8. Because they are his members, and he their Head, they are his bone and flesh, they " hold the head," &c.
9. He seals them, because they believe in him, Eph. i. 13. "After that ye believed, ye were scaled," Sec.
10. He seals them, because they love him, so as to mourn for injury done him, Ezek. ix. 4.
11. He seals them, because they are his faithful witnesses, that confess him, when others deny him.
12. He seals them, that they may not suffer hurt by the destroying winds that blow in the visible church. They keep the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus; and therefore he will keep them in the hour of temptation, according to the promise, Psal. xci. 3. 7.
V. The fifth thing was the Application of the doctrine. And the first use I shall m.ike of it, shall be by way of Lamentation over the many hurtful winds that have blown, and are stili blowing, in our land. God seems in our d.iy to have given a commission unto his angels, the ministers of his wrath, who fulfil his pleasure, to let loose the wiuds, that the earth, the sea, and the trees, may be hurt thereby ; and much hurt and damage have they done vilready in our valley of vision.
O^uery, What are the hurtful winds that /ire blowing at this day, or in this period of the church ? for some tell us that the church of Christ in this land, was never in a better condition. I answer, Whatever some may imagine, yet I am of the mind, and many others with me, that thf church of Christ was never in 1 more dangerous condition since our reformation from Popery. God seems to have given a commiflion to the four angels to loose th> four winds, to hurt the inhabitants of the land. And here I will tell you of several hurtful windb, which, like the pestilence, are walking through the land, and hurting many, both proseflbrs and others at this day. 1. The hurtful winds of Infidelity, or Deism, is blowing,
which strikes at the roots, and denies all supernatural revelation, or at least discards all the supernatural mysteries of the Christian religion, which depravtd reason is not able to comprehend, such as the doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God, and of his satisfaction to justice, of the necessity of regeneration, of justification by his imputed righteousness, of s:mcrification by his Spirit: thtso, and the like supernatural doctrines of our holy religion, I fay, are exploded by many in our dsy, insomuch that through many places of Scotland, instead of i he gospel of Christ, nothing is to be heard, but the dry sapless harangues of Heathenish morality. And what must become of these poor souls that are daily entertained with"such food? Why, Solomon answers the question, when he tells ,us, "Where no vision is, the people perish." The hurtful wind of Arian heresy has been travelling through the land, and appeared before the bar of the Assembly without any becoming censure. The doctrine of self-love also, whereby the creature is exalted above the glorious Creator. We have been long taught, that the chief end of man is, to glorify God, and that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we ought to do all to the glory of God. And, to be sure, that which is the chief end of man, ought also to be the leading and chief motive of all his moral and religious actions. But now it is a doctrine sustained by the National Assembly, that our own delight, pleasure, and satisfaction in glorifying God,'is thz chief motive of all virtuous and religious actions; whereby the creature's happiness is preferred unto the glory of God, who made all things for himself. And I cannot shun to observe, that God, in a way of righteous judgement, is answering many according to this idol of jealousy set up in the temple of God, by letting them adopt, and embrace a religion that lies all in internal feelings, pleasure, and satisfaction to themselves ; while the declarative glory of God, and the honour of the Redeemer's crown and kingdom in the world, is none of their concern; yea, it torments them to hear of a testimony against the indignities done to him in the land wherein we live. 1 mighe here also infill on the injuries done to the doctrines of the grace of God, in the acts of Aslembly, 1720 3tid 1722, with relation to the Marrow cf Modern Divinity, whereby a bundle of precious truths are condemned, and lie under the rubbish ever since, which I hope shall yet be breught forth unto "story. 1. The hurtful wind of church tyranny and abused disciline, has been for a long time blowing in the church of Scotnd, whereby the erroneous have been screened, and minitrs of Christ cast out of ministerial communion, and deposed
for forbearing testimony to the truth, in opposition unto the pre. sent current of apostasy and backsliding. And how has the boar of ecclesiastical tyranny laid waste, and scattered the flock os Christ up and down the land, through violent intrusions that have been made upon Christian congregations, imposing men upon them, contrary to that liberty wherewith Christ has made them free?
3.1 might, among other pernicious winds, take notice of the public affront done to the Mediator's crown as the alone King of Zion, when, by reading of the act anent Porteous, ministers changed their holding of Christ, and prostitute hi* sovereignty, and dipt their hands in that innocent bloodshed at the execution of Wilson, by not testifying against him as a bloody murderer condemned in law, when they read that act.
4. How has the wind of profanity and open impiety blown upon all ranks in.the land, and hurt many, both in foul, and bodily estate? What heaven-daring impiety abounds, insomuch that the land groans under our provocations against the holy One of Israel? The very abominations of the Heathen are perpetrate among us Christians, like these, Rom. i. at the close.
5. There is another wind that God is suffering to blow at this day, whereby both many ministers and people are staggered, and cast down, and that is the noisy wind that the known foreigner of the Prelatic communion of the church of England has brought along with him unto this l.ind. 1 know indeed that some deny any connection beween him, and that work which we Inve now among us ; but it is in \*..in to deny this, when it visibly follows him through the world, wherever he goes, and is received into communion as a minister of Jesus Christ.
Query, How doth it appear that this is one of the hurtful winds that God has, by the ministry of angtIs, whether good or bad, loosed upon the church os Scotland ! for many call it, and are very confident of it, that it is a heavenly wind. Answ. I cannot stay upon it at present; only, notwithstanding of all the fine things I have read and heard about it, 1 cannot help thinking, that it is one of the most hurtful winds that ever blew in this covenanted land, and that for these reasons. It appears to me, and many others, to be a hurtful and pernicious wind, by observing, (1.) Whence it corr.es; (2.) Whither it . blows; (3.) What are its effects.
\fi, Let us notice whence it comes. It comes from the Prelatic superstitious church of England ; and he that has brought i'. owns himself to be still of the communion of tiiat church, aejured by this church in her national covenant, aud by the
three.nations in the solemn league; one. who has sworn the oath of supremacy, and so renounced the atone headship us Christ in his church, and, in consequence of this, denies the binding obligation of our solemn covenants. And his own account of his conversion appears to be an evident delusion of the devil.
idly, Let us also observe, whither, and for what, this noisy wind blows. It is evident, that it blows up every where through the weld, and particularly in this land, for filthy lucre, worldly gain and advantage; the cry of it every where is, Who will (hew us any of this world's good? Another airth toward which it blow?, is, toleration of all sects, plainlyfounded upon the principle of Catholic love and communion, so much applauded by th.it foreigner, and all that patronize him and his work. And hence the natural tendency of it is, to overthrow the hedge of government, and to cast down the walls and fortifications of Zion, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.
,3<//y, Let us notice what are the fruits and effects of this noisy wind. I know indeed that some talk of great and good effects of it, in the conviction, conversion, and consolation of many ; but I much doubt if this will stand the trial of the word, ■which is the light by which all spirits, and works, must be tried: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to these, it is because these is no light in th«m." An imaginary conviction produceth an imaginary conversion, and an imaginary conversion produceth but an imaginary consolation. 1 will only tell you of two or three fruits of it, that I know, and can document.
(i.) A stated enmi'y and bitterness of spirit against a coTenanted work of reformation, and all that bear up or own a testimony for it at this day, notwithstanding of their Catholic love.
(2.) A striking men blind, and deaf, and dumb, as to all the public affronts done to Christ, or injuries done to his mystical body. I dare appeal to themselves, if at their most solemn occaGons, where they say there was most of the Lord, any thing was spoken for God's declarative glory, in opposition unto the bloodshed, perjury, covenant-breaking, or the violent intrusions and rapes committed upon the spouse of Christ, or the profaning of Christ's crown, his sabbaths, and the ministerial character, by reading of Porteons's act. Nay, so far from this that that spirit goes along with intruders, act readers, and the like, as well as others ; but not one word of their professing repentance for their evil deeds.
(3.) Another fruit cf this work, is the palliating of all th»