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purifying thyself as he is pure ? dost thou look at holiness as thy great happiness ? what care dost thou take to promote sanctification ?*
(7.) Dost thou love God, though thou knowest not assuredly whether he love thee or not? dost thou believe in him, though thou mayest have no perception of him by sense and experience? nay, dost thou follow him as the poor woman, though he seem to flee from thee? and more than this, dost thou run to him, though he may seem to fight against thee ? Have him thou must, thou canst not be put off with repulses, thy soul followeth hard after him, and his right hand upholds thee therein. This love to God is an evidence that God loves thee :f 1 Cor. viii. 3.
THE SUBJECT FURNISHES INSTRUCTION, AND GIVES
SCOPE FOR EXHORTATION.
SOME things may be pressed on the attention both of those who enjoy the favour of God, and of those who do not.
1. Those who experience not the favour of God, who can claim no title to it, but who wear out their days under a participation of the general bounty of Providence, ought to attend to the following considerations :
(1.) Methinks God's common favours should engage your hearts to look after special love : if God be so
* Rom. vii. 24 Heb. xii. l. 1 John iii. 3.
good to the worst, surely he will be much better to the good; if he give such large crumbs to dogs, he hath better portions for children. Doth he make his sun to shine upon just and unjust .promiscuously ? * surely there is a brighter sun of his love shines on them that fear him. If heathens have rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, if he fill their hearts with food and gladness, then he will drop down soul-refreshing influences into the hearts of his dear people, and much more refresh their hearts with distinguishing love : and can you content yourselves with the former when better may be had ? Can you be content with health, wealth, honours, and outward comforts, of which the great ones of the world have had as large a share as you desire, yet are now in hell ? Rather protest with brave Luther, that you will not be put off with these things. Alas, what will gold and silver, fair houses, costly diet, great attendance, advantage you when your souls are sitting upon your lips, and your heart-strings are breaking, and you are summoned by death to appear in another world before the great Judge? Will these things procure you favour in that court? will the God of heaven favour you for being a person of quality, or of honour ? No, no, sirs; you must be stripped of all these things, God will not respect the persons of men in that day, the things of this life will neither satisfy, sanctify, nor save. O think of those that with Naphtali have been satisfied with favour, and full of the outward blessings of the Lord, how they have left all, and that, in the midst of their heaven, and like fools they have gone down to hell. † Alas, sirs, the things of this world are neither suitable nor durable, it is only the favour of God that will stand you in stead in another world, and indeed that is the only good • Matt. v. 45.
+ Deut. xxxiii. 23. Jer. xvii. 11.
for a life to come. Now, in God's favour there is eternal life, this is life eternal thus to know God, this is the tree of life, the bread of life, living waters : + nay, this favour of God will sweeten and season all outward favours, without which they will not be blessings, but curses. O that by these cords of love you might be drawn to God ! ! O think, is not God, Christ, his Spirit, pardon, peace of conscience, heaven, infinitely better than corn, cattle, meat, clothes, friends? Doth not God shame rebels with multiplicity of common favours ? O that I might be one of his friends, that mercies might melt my heart ; let me have such favour with God, that I may be owned in the great day.
(2.) Consider the wisest and holiest men on earth advise you to it, and take this course themselves; they counsel you to nothing but what they do themselves. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, all the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, all that cloud of witnesses, that army of gracious souls that are now triumphing in glory, made this choice, and they have sped well; they scorned the favour of men, in comparison of God's, and God hath been found of them, they now enjoy the light of his countenance, and dwell in his immediate presence. O sirs, follow you them who through faith and patience do inherit the promises. Did David repent of his choice for preferring the light of God's countenance to men's corn, and wine, and oil ? || Were not the Bereans more noble than others for welcoming the word ?g will not highborn spirits aspire after great things ? and should not
Job. xxviv. 29. Luke xii. 21, 31. + John xvii. 3. Rev. xxii. 2. John iv. 14. # Mal. ii. 2. Hos. xi. 4. || Psalm iv. 6.
§ Acts xvii. 11.
you ? Do not all the saints in heaven speak this language jointly-Follow us? would they not all unite in this exhortation-0 seek God's face and favour? would not lost souls in hell, if sent to men on earth, urge this point, from their woful experience— seek God's favour, or you will be for ever banished from it as we are ? all God's ministers, your pious neighbours, your religious friends and relations, all dying persons, whose eyes are at last opened, will give you this counsel unanimously—If you love your souls, seek to obtain the favour of God. We poor ministers make it our work to study, to preach, to travel to you, to be in pain over you, and to pray for you, and what is all this for, but to persuade you to be reconciled to God,* if it be possible to bring you into the favour of God. O that we could accomplish this end! we should be sufficiently rewarded; what would we give to win your hearts to God? what joy would there be to the friends of the bridegroom,t if the match should be concluded, and your souls married to Christ? We would think all our labour well bestowed; nay, if we by our death could be instruments to bring you into God's favour; but what speak I of our death, Christ died to accomplish it, this cost blood, yea, the blood of God. O souls, shall nothing prevail with you ? shall neither the example of the best men, nor the prayers, tears, entreaties or persuasions of your ministers or best friends, nor the blood of Christ, nor the blood of your own immortal souls prevail with you to look after God's favour? What then shall we say? we have delivered our message, if you be careless, your blood be upon your own heads.
(3.) Consider how intent the men of the world are to obtain the favour of men. Many will entreat favour * 2 Cor. v. 20.
+ John iii. 29. VOL. III.
of the prince ;* and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts,” Prov. xix. 6. What running, what making friends, base compliance, and crouching according to the humours of superiors, to obtain their favour? If the poor tenant be out of favour with his rich landlord, what means doth he use to obtain it? And is the favour of the God of heaven of no value with you, of him who can make heaven and earth to tremble when once he is angry? of that God who can frown you into hell, and destroy you with a rebuke of his countenance. Alas, sirs, who would live out of his favour one hour? How darest thou eat and drink, and talk, and walk, and sleep, when thou art out of the favour of God ? How knowest thou but God's wrath may wax hot against thee, and thou perish from the way? How canst thou say, that thou shalt be another night out of hell? If God be thine enemy, and angry at thee, he hath hourly advantage against thee: you will say, God forbid, I hope I am in God's favour. I answer, I wish it be so, but thou wast not born so, thou art by nature a child of wrath as well as others, and the wrath of God abides still upon thee,f unless taken off by Jesus Christ; thou hast no interest in Christ without faith, and thou hast no faith by nature, nor canst thou work it in thine own heart : but if faith be there, all other saving graces are radically there. And art thou indeed born again? art thou translated from death to life? hast thou experienced those painful feelings usually created in regeneration ? All men have not faith, every soul is not new born; the change is great, life and death depend upon it; the heart is deceitful, most men are mistaken in this weighty case. Will the wordly wise be at uncertainties about their estates ? have they not a mind to make all as sure as
* Prov. xxix. 26. + Eph. ii. 3. * John iii. 36.