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ledged it, when they openly professed that there was nothing left for them to overcome, or to overcome them, but the prayers of the fanatic crew. 2' 3,0303 49 se'n

bons After some years' contending, when the Lord had begun to give us deliverance, by breaking the power of the enemy, at least in this nation, besides those bitter divisions that fell out among the people of God themselves, and the backsliding of some to the cause and principles they had opposed, this evil was also found rising again amongst us;slighting, blaspheming, contemning, under : several pretences, of the Spirit and presence of Christ in and with his saints. You know what ensued;what shakings, what revolutions, with new wars, bloodshed, and desolation, over the three nations. And give me leave to remember you, as one that had opportunity to make observations of the passages of Providence in those days, in all the three nations, in the times of our greatest shazards;--give me leave, I say, to remember you, that the public declarations, of those employed in the affairs of this nation, in the face of the enemies,—their addresses unto God among themselves, their prayers night and day, their private discourses one with another, --were, that the preservation of the interest of Christ in and with his people was the great thing that lay in their eyes; and that if it were not so, they desired that God would stop them in their way; yea, rather cause their carcases to fall in the high places of the field, than to prosper them in that which should be contrary thereunto: and we know what ensued. How we have used our mercies is another matter: this was the principle that prevailed with God and man..!

3 Use l.. If you desire the glory of these nations, labour to promote the interest of Christ in these nations. I am not speaking unto you about disputable things ---differences among the people of God themselves ; nor am I interposing my advice in your civil affairs; but I speak in general about those with whom Christ is present by his Spirit, his chosen ones, against whom there is an old enmity in Satan and the world. The glory of these nations is that there is a people in them that have Christ in the midst of them; let it be your business to take care for that glory. But how shall we do it?;!

(1.) Labour personally, every one of you, to get Christ in your own hearts. I am very far from thinking that a man may not be lawfully called to magistracy, if he be not a believer; or that, being called, he should be impeded in the execution of his trust and place because he is not so. I shall not suspend my obedience whilst I inquire after my lawful governor's conversion; but yet this I say, considering that I cannot much value any good, but what comes in by the way of promise, I confess I can have no great expectation from them whom God loves not, delights not in. If any be otherwise minded, I shall not contend with him; but for this I will contend with all the world, that it is your duty to labour to assure Christ in your own hearts, even that you may be the better fitted for the work of God in the world. It is the promise of God to Zion, that "her officers shall be peace, and her exactors righteousness," Isa. Ix. 17; and then shall she call her “walls Salvation, and her gates Praise," verse 18. It will be little advantage to any, to have the work of God raised in the world, and not to have the foundation-stone laid in their hearts. If there should be in any of you an enmity unto Christ and the power of godliness,-a hatred and contempt of the people of God, an evil heart of unbelief,-an evil course of life, worldliness, oppression, vanity of mind, etc., -would it advantage you to be intrusted with power in these nations? Would it not hasten your destruction, and increase your account? It is a noble promise that we have, Isa. xxxii. 17, “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.” It is a gospel righteousness that is spoken of; and that not of the cause as such only, but of the persons.

The

persons being righteous, and that with the righteousness of Christ, the effects mentioned shall follow their righteous undertakings. We have peace now, outward peace; but, alas! we have not quietness; and if any thing may be done that may give us quietness, yet, perhaps, we may not have assurance. We may be quickly shaken again; but when the righteousness of the persons and cause meet, all the rest will follow.

(2.) Set yourselves to oppose that overflowing flood of profuneness, and opposition to the power of godliness, that is spreading itself over this nation. Know you not that the nation begins to be overwhelmed by the pourings out of a profane, wicked, carnal spirit, full of rage, and contempt of all the work of reformation that has been attempted amongst us? Do you not know that if the former profane principle should prove predominant in this nation, that it will quickly return to its former station and condition, and that with the price of your dearest blood ? And yet, is there not already such a visible prevalency of it, that in many places the very profession of religion is become a scorn; and in others, those old forms and ways taken up with greediness, which are a badge of apostasy from all former engagements and actings? And are not these sad evidences of the Lord's departing from us? If I should lay before you a comparison between the degrees of the appearances of the glory of God in this nation, the steps whereby it came forth, and those whereby it seems almost to be departing, it would be a matter of admiration and lamentation. I

pray God we lose not our ground faster than we won it. Were our hearts kept up to our good old principles on which we first engaged, it would not be so with us; but innumerable evils have laid hold upon us; and the temptations of these days have made us a woful prey. Gray hairs are here and there, and it will be no wonder if our ruin should come with more speed than did our deliverance. Oh, then, set yourselves in the gap! by all ways and means oppose the growth of an evil, profane, common, malignant spirit amongst us. But I haste.

(3.) Value, encourage, and close with them in and with whom is this presence of Christ. They are the glory of the nation; its peace, safety, and prosperity will be found wrapped up in them. I know there lie divers considerable objections against the practice of this duty. I shall name some few of them, and leave the exhortation unto your consideration :

[1.] Who are those persons in whom is this presence of Christ ? Are they such as profess indeed religion, but neglect all rules of righteousness?—that would be accounted godly, but care not to be honest,—the marks of whose miscarriages are written on their foreheads? Are not these so far from being the glory, that they are the shame of any nation? I pray give me leave to endeavour the rolling away of this great stone of offence, in these few ensuing considerations:

1st, Then, I shall willingly lay this down for a principle, that he is not religious who is not also righteous; as also, I shall not much value his righteousness who is not religious. He that is righteous doth righteousness; he doth so, in the bent of his spirit, and course of his

ways and walkings. If a man be froward, heady, high-minded, sensual, unjust, oppressive, worldly, self-seeking, a hater of good men, false, treacherous, let him pretend to what he will, that man's religion is in vain; he may have a form of godliness, but he hath not the power of it. This principle we shall agree upon.

2dly, There have been, in the days wherein we live, many false professors, hypocrites, that have thought gain to be godliness; by reason of whose wicked lives, ways, and walking, the name of God hath been evil spoken of. And woe to them by whom these offences are come!—but yet, also, woe to the world because of offences! If these offences turn off men from an esteem of the remnant of Christ, in whom is his presence, woe to them also! I acknowledge, these days have abounded with offences; but woe to them wbo are turned aside by them from owning the portion and inheritance of Christ!

3dly, It cannot be denied, but that many of them who do belong unto Christ have wofully miscarried in these days. “O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon!” O that our souls could mourn in secret on that account! that we could go backward, and cover the nakedness and folly of one another! But, alas! this hath been far from being our frame of spirit! We have every one spread the failings of his brother before the face of men and devils. But yet, notwithstanding these miscarriages, those that are the people of Christ are his people still; and he loves them still, whether we will or no;and commonly, those who are least able to bear with the miscarriages of others, have most of their own.

4thly, That differences of judgments, in civil affairs or church matters, ought not presently to be made arguments of men not being righteous. Some men think that none are righteous that are not of their principles; than which principle there is nothing more unrighteous. Let men that differ from them walk never so holily, profess never so strictly, yet, if they are not of their mind, they are not righteous! If men are offended on such accounts, it is because they will

be so.

when any

5thly, This hath ever been the way of the men of the world; that

bave been unblamable and zealous upon the account of religion, they will attempt their reputation, though without any ground or colour, upon the account of righteousness. So suffered the Christians of old; and so the Puritans of former days;—unjustly and falsely, as God will judge and declare. The world, then, in this matter, is not to be believed; the common reports of it are from the devil, the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them in the same manner before God night and day. These are but pretences, whereby men, ignorant of the mystery of the gospel and the power of grace, harden themselves to their ruin.

6thly, This remnant of Christ, with whom his presence is, who are the glory of a nation, is to be found only amongst the professors of a nation. For, although of those who are professors there may be many bad, yet of those that are not professors there is not one good. Where there is faith there will be a profession. If I should not know well where to find them, I am sure I know where I cannot find them. I cannot find them in the ways of the world, and conformity to it; in darkness, ignorance, neglect of duty, and utter unacquaintedness with gospel truths,—the gifts and graces of the Spirit. There I cannot find them. I shall not say of them, “Behold the Lord's anointed!" let their outward, worldly appearance be what it will. Now, by the help of these considerations, those who have in themselves principles of life and light in Christ, will, or may be (setting aside their temptations), enabled to discover this generation of the Lord's delight; and for others, I cannot take down the enmity that God hath set up. So then, notwithstanding this objection, I shall certainly esteem this remnant of Christ to lie among those who, having received gospel light and gospel gifts, evidently do make also profession of gospel grace, union and communion with Christ, separation from the world and the ways of it, in a conversation acceptable unto God in Christ. And to this portion shall I say, as Ruth to Naomi, let what will be

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glorious or uppermost in the world, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” With them let my portion be, and the portion of my family, whatever their lot and condition in this world should be; and the Lord say, Amen.

[2.] But it will be said, secondly, We are still at a loss; for what woful divisions are there amongst this generation of professors! Some are for one way, and some for another; some say one sort are the people of God, some another; some say the Prelatists are so, some the Presbyterians; some the Independents, some the Anabaptists; 'some the Fifth-monarchy-men, some others;---and on whom should the valuation pleaded for be cast?

To this I answer,

ist. Some do say so, and plead thus, it cannot be denied; but the truth is, the greater is their weakness and folly. It is impossible men acquainted with the Spirit of Christ and the gospel should say so, unless they were under the power of one temptation or other. But it is no party, but the party of Christ in the world, and against the world—the seed of the woman against the seed of the serpentthat I am pleading for. That men, as to their interest in Christ, should be judged from such denominations as, though they make a great noise in the world, yet, indeed, signify very little things in themselves, is most unrighteous and unequal; nor will men find peace in such rash and precipitate judgments.

2dly. There may be many divisions amongst the people of God, and yet none of them be divided from Christ, the head. The branches of a tree may be entangled by strong winds, and stricken against one another, and yet none of them be broken off from the tree itself; and when the storm is over, every one possesses its own place in quietness, beauty, and fruitfulness. Whilst the strong winds of temptations are upon the followers of Christ, they may be tossed and entangled; but not being broken off from the root, when he shall say to the winds, “ Peace, be still,” they will flourish again in peace and beauty.

3dly. Let not Satan cheat you of your duty by this trivial objection. If he can keep you from duty whilst he can make divisions, he hath you sure enough. They of whom I speak, be they under what reproach or obloquies soever, they are all true men, all the children of one Father, though they are unhappily fallen out by

the way.

Use 2. Of encouragement to those that have the presence of Christ with them in the manner declared;—they shall be safe. In vain it is for all the world to attempt their security; either they shall not

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