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from the works of darkness and death; and they have proved themselves worthy of receiving government over the world, who have shewn, during this probation, that the world could not tempt them from their allegiance unto God. It is, as if in the Master's absence, the whole househol had risen together in insurrection, and resolved to eat and drink and
make merry at their Master's ex, pense ; to waste his substance, and dishonour his babita. tion, and his name ; amongst whom some two or three, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, will not give in to the wicked confederacy, but endure scoffs, and stripes, and persecutions, and are found for their faithfulness lying in the darkness and vileness of the deepest dungeon. Whom, I ask, but these will that Master make rulers over all his goods? The like insurrection and base confederacy hath sin introduced into this earth, the paradise of God; and we have thereby got a glorious opportunity of approving our allegiance and duty to the great Creator, as Christ also did, and enableth us to do, in order to be. come faithful priests over the house of God.
And with respect to the mercifulness, which through suffering and temptation is brought into the fabric of man, it springeth from that sympathy with distress which those. who have known distress are alone fully adequate to feel. I say not but that grace and mercy are original elements of human nature, as it was created by God; for how otherwise should it have been the image of Him who is, in the essence of his being, grace and mercy ? But as by the entering in of sin that goodness which was in God pure and holy, like the light, did divide itself into the rainbow hues of grace and mercy, pity and compassion ; even so, that original faculty of our nature obtained for itself diver. sified expression, opportunities of proving itself, after that all the world came into a state of penury, distress, and sin, Now who is he that will shew forth
such as in God appeared by the forthcoming of his Son from his bosom? Who will shew the merciful heart of God, while at the same time he hath no fellowship with iniquity, but abhorreth it with a perfect hatred ? Who, purging himself from all sin and iniquity, will yet be the companion of publicans and sinners, longing over them like a mother over her prodigal child? Who is he whose mercy will bear the cutting reproaches, the cruel mockeries, the crown of thorns, the nails, the spears, the swimmings and swoonings of death, from those whom he is labouring with all his might to profit and save? And all the while by words of grace will seek to sooth their rage; and when this faileth will, by patient and silent suffering, more eloquent than words, seek to avert from them their fearful sin; and when all action and all passion fail to turn them from their fell intent, will yield himself like a lamb to the slaughter ; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so openeth he not his mouth, save to cry unto God, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ?" This, this, is the man of mercy, whom the merciful God will appoint unto the care of his flock, into whose hands he will commit the priesthood of his house. For why? because “ be can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself also was compassed with infirmity.”
Such high ends serveth evil in the present world. And yet though these be great and glorious truths, there is another which is expressed in the words of the text, “ As many as I love I rebuke and chasten ;”, at·least in so far as they refer to the case of the angel of the Laodiceang, and to all servants of the Lord who, like him, have stray. ed from the path of duty. The truth taught to all such is, that God loves them too well, and is too faithful to the covenant which he hath made with them, not by every means to endeavour to bring them back to the way
of righteousness and honour ; as is beautifully set forth under the similitude of an unfaithful wife, in these words of the Prophet Hosea : " For their mother bath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully : for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them : then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now (ii. 5-7). Whatever may have been the occasion of bringing us into å snare, God will rather than lose his child, remove the occasion, that the snare may be broken ; and
when he doth so, his goodness is much to be adored. Did Christians but know the secret history of all the adversities which they have proved, they would read such a tale of love, written as it were with the tears and blood of Christ! For, O he afflicteth not willingly; yet whom he loveth he chasteneth. Truly is it written, that “all things work together for good to them which love God, and are the called according to his purpose." The death of children, the death of parents, the nippings of the fair blossomings of hope, the dashing of the full cup of enjoymenc to the ground, the coming on of the dark clouds of adversity, the dissolution of friendships and associations, the finger of public scorn, the reproach of those whom we have never injured but ever loved, the triumph over us of wicked persons, the despoiling of our good name, and the making of it to become a reproach, drooping sickness, pallid disease, writhing pain, comfortless sorrow, yea, and death itself, (for the flesh is at times destroyed, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord ;)—these I say, all these, are measures of love, expedients of wisdom, proofs of fatherly care which God doth continually bestow upon those whom he loveth, that he may bring them to himself; and make them partakers of a health, strength, honour, prosperity, dignity, and blessedness, which the world cannot give, and which it cannot take away. Therefore, O ye children, be wise and consider your ways, when the Lord rebuketh you. And when he chasteneth you with his hot displeasure, turn unto him; for he is a present belp in the day of trouble. There is indeed a necessity for all such trials : they are so many helps to crucify the flesh, they are so many handmaidens of boliness. Surely severity and adversity are the true schools of virtue and godliness. Discipline maketh the good soldier of Christ : without discipline there can be no order nor service, and all discipline proceedeth out of love, and in love advanceth, and by love is made perfect.
" As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”
Think now, how far Christ's patience will go, and learn ye to exercise the same, when you call to mind over whom these words were uttered, even over one, who, being wretched and miserable, and blind, and poor, and naked, could with complacency say, “ I am rich, and increased
in goods, and have need of nothing." Oye brethren of mine, fellow-labourers in the vineyard of Christ, fellow. servants in the household of God, hear the voice of your good Shepherd, and see his hand in those trials which are ready to come upon you, in the prospect of which ye are even now in dismay. When he shall arise, O ye shepherds of Britain, and smite your corn, and your wine, and your oil, whether by the word of civil government or by the hand of lawless violence ; when your barn floors shall be consumed by the midnight incendiary, and your houses shall be rifled at noon-day by your much neglected people, take it in good part, take it as the chastisement of your own and your fathers' want of watchfulness over the land, of your own and your fathers' unfaithfulness to God and to the Head of the church. Be zealous; serve God, and kiss the Son. Be faitliful; at length cease from your wine and your strong drink; cease from your pleasant and cieled houses ; cease from your academical groves, and recesses of studious ease; gird up the loins of your minds ; take into your hands the shepherd's crook, and go forth and feed the flock of his pasture. "Be done, be done with your pulpit essays, your tasteful compositions, your learned disquisitions: stir up the elements of human hearted. ness, and speak from the heart, to the hearts of the people ; awake, awake the Holy Ghost within you, and plead for God; lift up your voice aloud like a trumpet, and sound an alarm. Go in, go in, among the infuriated people, and divert, with words of truth and grace, the tempest of their indignation. Go in, go in, to the rich men of your flocks and parishes, and require it of them, as they would be saved, to dispense bread to the hungry, and clothes to the naked; go in, go in, ye heads of the church, unto the nobles, and princes, and monarch of the land, and tell them of the nation's condition in the sight of a holy God. Why sit ye silent in your palaces, why throng ye the gates of ambition, why court ye the possessors of preferment; why this self-seeking when the name of Jesus is ready to be rejected, and the very covenant of the land to be broken. O but, if ye will not bestir yourselves ; if ye will not arise to the help of the Lord against the mighty; if
ye will not now listen to the voice of wisdom, crying aloud in the street ; if ye will not be zealous and repent,
then also will he “laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your
destruction cometh as a whirlwind.”. I have a solemn conviction, which daily groweth upon my mind, that the churches in these lands are about to be cast into the furnace of iction, because the rulers of the church are unfaithful to their trusts, and from promoting truth and godliness, have for a long time set their faces against the servants of truth and godliness, and taken in hand to promote friends and favourites ; men of family, and men of respectability, men of mere learning and natural endowments. And I perceive discipline perverted in the church, to the vexation and hindrance of the truth, as it is in Jesus Christ, to the discountenance, and discouragement, and prohibition of those who are faithful in the
I perceive withal that the servants of the Most High God, whom the authorities of the church are troub. ling and tormenting, watching and suspecting, and in all ways dishonouring, have learned a deeper lesson of reverence for authorities ecclesiastical and civil, than the Reforiners possessed, and that they will not resist the power, nor carry themselves insubordinate thereto. And what then remaineth? If religion is not to perish in the land, there only remaineth one thing possible to be done; which is, that God should profane his own ordinance, as I believe he will do ; that he should cast down these selfseeking dignitaries, and subvert these evil authorities; 'that he should take away their houses and lands, and all in which they prided themselves, and, having weakened their hands, let forth his imprisoned truth, and send his heralds of salvation from their closed parishes, through the length and breadth of the land, to save whom he will save from the general wreck. Through these only true churchmen, these only true dignitaries, the men who can face king and nobles, and furious people, he will build again the walls of Zion, if rebuilded they are to be. Be zealous, therefore, and repent, ye slothful shepherds of Great Britain and Ireland; for there is a day of glory at 'band to the faithful, a day of dishonour to the faithless. O ye builders in the house of God, both you and your works are ready to be cast into such a furnace as no counterfeit can withstand, no stubble, nor hay, nor wood,