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ș Speak ye truly regenerated believers, whes ther you do not know by heart-felt experience, what it is to have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ? Doth not Jesus, sometimes draw nigh unto you, in the sacred via sits of worship, and reveal himself with a loving kindness, and favor, which you esteem better than life itself? Have you never found it good, as the disciples did in the Mount, when at certain seasons, you have sat under the shadow of his ordinances with great delight, and his fruit hath been sweet to your taste? And hath not your heart, very frequently burned within you, like those in their journey to Emmaus, when in the hearing, or reading of his word, Jesus himself hath drawn nigh, in the sweet teachings of his blessed Spirit, hath tulked to you by the way and opened to you his scriptures? Let who will dispute the testiinony of spiritual influences, on the soul, you know the reality of them, by a personal experience, too decidedly to question, but that the Son of God is come, as much now, in those secret visits of his grace, as when in the days of his flesh, he more openly manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him,
And you no less, who are unconscious, of any operations of this kind, in your own soul, and perhaps are tempted therefrom, to dispute their existence, in the mind of others; yet explain to me if you can, upon any other principle, than the one I am contending for, thạt astonishing effect which you sometimes see, and therefore
cannot but acknowledge, to have taken place in the lives of many around you. From what cause is it, that the world behold them changed, from sin to righteousness, and from the power of sin and Satan unto God? If the scriptures declare, that it was for this purpose, the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the Devil; and you discover, that such consequences are really induced, in the conduct of some whom you know; that they, who were once darkness are now light in the Lord; and walk as Children of the Light: why should you question, the cause, when the effect, so loudly proclaims the correspondence to it? Say, if you can, and let reason be the arbiter in the decision, if the coming of the Son of God was to accomplish such purposes, and such purposes, are really accomplished, in the lives and conversation, of the faithful, in all ages; what better proof, can be desired, in confirmation of the fact? The Sun's warmth, which the blind man feels, ought to convince him, from what source that warmth is produced, though he never saw a ray of his brightness, to teach him that he gives light also.
How unavailable soever, this argument may be, to induce in you a similar change of heart, ( and unavailable it must for ever prove, unless commissioned by a divine power ) yet the fact cannot but be allowed, in
many many instances to be indisputable. For bad as the world is and ready as it always will be, to ascribe such effects, to, enthusiasm, and sometimes even to worse causes; yet malice itself, cannot in numberless examples dare to deny, but that there have been men in all ages of the Church, and, blessed be God, many living testimonies may be still found, of irreproachable conduct, which have been professed to be under the guidance of divine influences, and who in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation shine as lights in the world.
Such evidences of the blessed effects of grace in the heart, carry with them the most decisive conviction, that the God of all grace is come ; and while they stamp, with an indelible seal, the assurance in the minds of the faithful themselves, they serve to illustrate and confirm that solemn scripture, which God hath left upon record, as an evidence to the ungodly; whether they will hear or whether they will forbear yet they shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. I
Before I dismiss the consideration of this first branch of my subject, I beg it may be under·stood, that while I am contending for the truth of this doctrine, that the Master is come, and is calling by the various methods of his word, and ordinances; I do not mean to intimate as if there had been no manifestation of the Lord Jesus, in
the . Ezek. 2. 5.
the earlier ages of his Church, previous to his. incarnation. This would be totally foreign to my meaning. So far I confess, is this from being my idea, that I venture to believe, and I think it would be no difficult matter to prove, the Lord Jesus, who it is well known hath been set up, for the purposes of redemption, as the Covenant God-man from everlasting, hath been manifesting himself, upon a great variety of occasions, in that character, in all periods of his Church. And if I were called upon, for any single evidence, in confirmation of it, I should without hesitation, refer to that very striking authority of the Apostle John's, in the opening of his gospel: where, when 'speaking of the Lord Jesus, he saith; He was in the world and the world was made by him and the world knew him not.*
Hence therefore, if Jesus was in the world, and had a Church in the world, from the begin, ning, though the world knew him not, yet to his Church he was always known, and no doubt, to his people, he was continually manifesting himself, otherwise than he doeth to the world. What indeed are all those wonderful relations, we meet with, in the old testament scripture, of the appearance of the Shechinal, but proofs of this kind! Believers knew him, in his adorable character, and saw him, with the eye of faith, long before his incarnation. Multitudes of the heirs of promise, lived, and died, in the faith of the coming Saviour, as multitudes have since
lived, * John 1. 10.
lived, and died, in the faith of his finished sals, vation. They beheld by the eye of faith, the dawn of that glorious day of which we live, under the full meridian.
The Sun of the spiritual world, like the sun of the natural, though not risen above the horizon, in the full orb, of his glory, had yet shed his beams sufficiently around, to indicate his approach, and to illumine the darkness. Hence, as an Apostle bears them record, these all lied. in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the carth. ||
If I have said enough, in proof of my first proposition, that the Master is come, and calleth, in the various methods, of his word, and ordinances: I shall now proceed as was promised to the second consideration; namely, that the outward calls of the gospel, unaccompanied with a special, and inward power, must always lose their effect: like Mary in the text, until that call is personal and particular, there will remain a total insensibility, and indifference to all its demands.
When we consider the infinite importance of salvation, in the everlasting welfare of the soul, one might be led to suppose, that this alone, would occupy the great concern of man. That
while | Heb. 11. 13.