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SIGNS OF THE DAY OF GRACE.
summer is not quite ended; thy harvest is not quite over and gone. Take heed, stand out no longer; lest he cause darkness, and Jest thy feet stumble upon the dark mountains; and lest, while you look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. Jer. viii. 20; xiii. 15-17.
5. Art thou crossed, disappointed, way-laid, and overthrown in all thy foolish ways and doings? This is a sign God has not quite left thee, but that he still waits upon thee to turn thee. Consider, I say, has he made a hedge, and a wall to stop thee? Has he crossed thee in all thou puttest thy hand unto? Take it as a call to turn to him; for by his thus doing, he shows he has a mind to give thee a better portion. For usually when God gives up men, and resolves to let them alone in the broad
and lets them have their desire in all hurtful things. Hos. ii. 6–15; Psalm lxxiii. 3–13; Rom. xi. 9.
Therefore take heed to this also, that thou strive not against this hand of God. But betake thyself to a serious inquiry into the causes of this hand of God upon thee, and incline to think, it is because the Lord would have thee look to that which is better than what thou wouldst satisfy thyself withal. When God had a mind to make the prodigal go home to his father he sent a famine upon him, and denied him a satisfaction of the husks which the swine did eat. And observe it, now he was in a strait, he betook him to consideration of the good that there was in his father's house ; yea, he resolved to go home to his father, and his father dealt well with him; he received him with music and dancing, because he had received him safe and sound. Luke xv. 14-32.
6. Hast thou any enticing thoughts of the word of God upon thy mind? Doth, as it were, some holy word of God, give a glance upon thee, cast a smile upon thee, let fall, though it be but a drop of its savor upon thy spirit; yea,
though it stays but one moment with thee? O! then the day of grace is not past! the gate of heaven is not shut! nor God's heart and pity withdrawn from thee as yet! Take heed therefore, and beware that thou make much of the heavenly gift, and of that good word of God of the which he has made thee taste. Beware, I say, and take heed; there may be a falling away for all this: but I say, as yet, God has not left thee, as yet he has not cast thee off. Heb. vi. 1-9.
Secondly, With respect to thy desires, what are they? Wouldst thou be saved ? Wouldst thou be saved with a thorough salvation ? Wouldst thou be saved from guilt and filth too ? Wouldst thou be the servant of thy Saviour ? Art thou indeed weary of the service of thy old master the devil,,of sin and the world ? And have these desires put thy soul to flight? Hast thou through desires betaken thyself to thy heels? Dost fly to him that is a Saviour from the wrath to come, for life? If these be thy desires, and if they be unfeigned, fear not. Thou art one of those runaways whom God has commanded our Lord to receive, and not to send thee back to the devil thy master again, but to give thee a place in his house, even the place which liketh thee best. “ Thou shalt not deliver unto his master,” says he, “the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best : thou shalt not oppress him.” This is a command to the church of old, consequently to the Head of the church. For all commands from God come to her through her Head. Whence I conclude, that as Israel of old was to receive the runaway servant who escaped from a heathen master to them, and should not dare to send him back to his master again, so Christ's church now, and consequently Christ himself may not, will not refuse that sour that has made his escape from sin, Satan, the world, and
FEARS ABOUT ELECTION REMOVED.
hell, unto him; but will certainly let him dwell in his house, among his saints, in that place which he shall choose, even where it liketh him best. For he says in another place, “ And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." In no wise ; let his crimes be what they will, either for nature, multitude, or the attendance of aggravating circumstances.
Wherefore if thy desires be firm, sound, and unfeigned to become the saved of Christ, and his servant, fear not, he will not, he will in no wise put thee away, or turn thee over to thy old master again.
Thirdly, As to thy fears, whatever they are, let that be supposed which is supposed before, and they are groundless, and so of no weight.
Object. But I am afraid I am not elected, or chosen to salvation, though you called me a fool a little before for so fearing
Answ. Though election is, in order, before calling, as to God, yet the knowledge of my calling must go before the belief of my election, as to myself. Wherefore souls that doubt of the truth of their effectual calling, do but plunge themselves into a deeper labyrinth of confusion that concern themselves with their election; I mean, while they labor to know it before they prove their calling. “Make your calling, and (so your) election sure.”
Wherefore at present, lay the thoughts of thy election by, and ask thyself these questions. “Do I see my lost condition? Do I see salvation is no where but in Christ? Would I share in this salvation by faith in him? And would I, as was said afore, be thoroughly saved, that is, from the filth as from the guilt? Do I love Christ, his Father, his saints, his words and ways? This is the way to prove we are elect. Wherefore, sinner, when Satan, or thine own heart, seeks to puzzle thee with election, say thou, I cannot attend to talk of this point now, but stay till I know that I am called of
God to the fellowship of his Son, and then I will show you that I am elect, and that my name is written in the book of life.'
If poor distressed souls would observe this order, they might save themselves the trouble of an unprofitable labor under these unreasonable and soul-sinking doubts.
Let us, therefore, upon the sight of our wretchedness, fly and venturously leap into the arms of Christ, which are now as open to receive us into his bosom, as they were when nailed to the cross. This is coming to Christ for life aright; this is right, running away from thy master to him, as was said before. And for this we have multitudes of scriptures to support, encourage, and comfort us in our so doing.
But now, let him that doeth thus be sure to look for it; for Satan will be with him to-morrow, to see if he can get him again to his old service; and if he cannot do that, then will he enter into dispute with him, namely, about whether he be elect to life, and called indeed to partake of this Christ, to whom he is filed for succor; or whether he comes to him of his own presumptuous mind. Therefore we are bid, as to come, so to arm ourselves with that armor which God has provided; that we may resist, withstand, and quench all the fiery darts of the devil. Eph. vi. 11-18..
If therefore thou findest Satan in this order to march against thee, remember then thou hadst this item about it; and betake thyself to faith and good courage; and be sober, and hope to the end.
Object. But how if I should have sinned the sin unpardonable, or that called the sin against the Holy Ghost ?
Answ. If thou hast, thou art lost for ever. But yet before it is concluded by thee, that thou hast so sinned, know that they who would be saved by Jesus Christ through faith in his blood, cannot be counted for such.
1. Because of the promise; for that must not be frustrated : and that
“ And him that cometh to Christ, he
FEARS ABOUT THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.
will in no wise cast out,” and again, “Whoso will, let him take of the water of life freely.”
But, I say, how can these scriptures be fulfilled, if he that would indeed be saved, as before, has sinned the sin unpardonable? The scriptures must not be made void, nor their truth be cast to the ground. Here is a promise, and here is a sinner: a promise that says he shall not be cast out that comes; and the sinner comes, wherefore he must be received. Consequently, he that comes to Christ for life, has not, cannot have sinned that sin for which there is no forgiveness.
And this might suffice for an answer to any coming soul, that fears, though he comes, that he has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost.
2. But again. He that has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost cannot come, has no heart to come, can by no means be made willing to come, to Jesus Christ for life. For he has received such an opinion of him, and of his things, as deters and holds him back.
1. He counteth this blessed person, the Son of God, a magician, a conjurer, or one that did, when he was in the world, what he did, by the power and spirit of the devil. Matt. ix. 34; John viii. 48; Mark iii. 22-30. Now he that has this opinion of this Jesus, cannot be willing to cast himself at his feet for life, or to come to him as the only way to salvation.
And hence it is said again, that such a one puts him to open shame, and treads him under foot; that is, by contemning, reproaching, vilifying, and despising him, as if he were the vilest one, or the greatest cheat in the world; and has therefore, as to his esteem of him, called him accursed, crucified him to himself, or counted him one hanged, as one of the worst of malefactors. Heb. vi. 6; x. 29; 1 Cor. xii. 3.
2. His blood, which is the meritorious cause of man's redemption, even the blood of the everlasting covenant, he