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world to himself, not imputing their trespasses; and therefore the want of it must be the sum of all misery, and infinitely worse than any other calamity we can either feel or fear in this world. God may take notice of a people under the sharpest afflictions, but when he takes away his word, then he knows them no longer; then all gracious correspondence or intercouse is broken up. This, 0 this, is the very dregs of vengeance! Yea, when the gospel departs from a people, all other blessings commonly depart with it. This is the charter of all our privileges, both spiritual and temporal; and therefore in losing it we lose all that depends upon it, at least we forfeit our title; and any outward mercies that are continued with us, are only like food and raiment to a condemned criminal, which the King's clemency allows him till the fatal sentence be executed upon him.

The gospel is not only the glory, but the strength of a nation; when it departs, God ceases to be their protector. The flourishing condition of the seven churches soon withered when the candlestick was removed; and their deplorable and abject state ever since, even with respect to external enjoyments and worldly advantages, is a melancholy proof that the gospel does not take flight alone, but is attended with every other thing that contributes to the glory or happiness of a people.

Thus have I represented to you the terribleness of this judgment. And now I come to point out your concern in this subject, and to direct you to the proper improvement of it. And if these things be so, bave not we in these lands great reason to fear, that our iniquities may provoke the Lord to inflict this punishment upon us? Are we better than Ephesus or the other churches of Asia ? Are our privileges greater or better secured than theirs were ? yet their candlestick has been long remos.

ed; and who dare affirm that ours may not be removed likewise ? My brethren, I have no design to alarm you with groundless fears; but my duty as a watchman obliges me to blow the trumpet when I see danger approaching; and that I may give it a distinct sound, I shall briefly unfold to you the grounds of my apprehension of approaching danger in these following remarks: And,

1st, Is it not evident, that vice and immorality have grown up to an amazing height amongst us? Do not many proclaim their sins as Sodom, and hide them not? Yea, do not many glory in their shame, and count it their honour to excel in some branch of wickedness or other? I do not aggravate the charge; every one's observation must convince him of the truth of it. Now, what must be the fruit of this? Hear what God says by his prophet Joel iii. 13. “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe, the press is full, the fat overflows; for their wickedness is great.” I do not say we have just come this length, that we are already arrived at a fulness of iniquity; but surely we have for a long time been advancing towards it by very hasty steps. And this, I think, is one reasonable ground of fear.

2dly. Is there not a visible contempt of the blessed gospel? Are not the ordinances of religion slighted and despised? yea, is it not become fashionable among many, to reject the whole of Revelation as a cunningly devised fable, and to use all their influence to proselyte the more simple and unthinking to their opinion? Has not Deism, which began at court in King Charles II.'s reign, been still descending through all the inferior ranks, till now it has got low enough? And what does this presage? The Gadareans besought Cbrist to depart from their coasts, and got their request. The gospel is of too much

worth to be always exposed to the injuries of men, and forced upon a people against their will. When children throw a precious jewel in the dirt, wbat can be expected, but that their father sbould take it from them, and lay it in another place, and punish thein too for their folly and ingratitude? A

3d Sign of approaching danger is the small success which accompanies the preaching of the gospel, even among those who profess to believe it. How few con. verts are born into the church! Is it not visible, that numbers who attend upon ordinances are still lying in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity? How few are seriously inquiring after the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward? And is not this too a presage of a departing gospel, when God ceases to pour oil into the lamp, to accompany the ordinances of religion with the influences of his Spirit? Surely we bave reason to fear, that be intends to remove the candlestick to some other place, and to give it to those who will value it more, and make better use of it than we have done. A

4th Ground of fear is the present divided state of our church. Union is the strength of the religious, as well as of the civil society; for a house divided against itself cannot stand. It is a weighty saying of one upon this head, that when children fall out, and fight about the candle, the parents come and take it away, and leave them to decide their differences in the dark. We may justly fear that God will take away that light which we abuse in quarrelling, instead of walking and working by it. Add to all these, in the

5th place, The threatening aspect of divine Provi. dence—the success of our enemies abroad, and the bold attempt, which is still carrying on, against our religion and liberties at home, and then judge whether there be not sufficient grounds of fear. “ Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Sball a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? The lion bath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” My brethren, God has been speaking to us in a very awful manner for these six months past; and that we might not mistake his voice, most of the events that have fallen out in that space of time have been altogether surprising and unexpected. Our enemies themselves were amazed at their success, and ascribed it to the immediate hand of God, which faroured their enterprise; and the band of God has been no less remarkably displayed in our benign deliverance. The retreat of the rebels, immediately after a victory, without facing an army they had so lately overcome, was so contrary to the general opinion, that I believe the wisest heads were afraid of some cunning artifice, some deep laid plot, to draw our men into a snare, from which they should not easily escape. In a word, man's part of this whole affair has been so small and inconsiderable, that it is evidently the Lord's own doing; and though he has employed instruments botb to distress and relieve us, yet he has done it in such a sovereign manner, that he seems to have used them upon no other design but only to convince us that he can work without them. I confess, my brethren, the care which God has taken to make himself observable in the conduct of these occurrences, is one of the principal grounds of my fears at this time; por are my fears a whit lessened by the late favourable

dispensation. I look upon it indeed as an intimation, that he who is a God of judgment is also a God of mercy; and that, notwithstanding all our past provocations, he is yet willing to be reconciled to us upon the terms of the gospel; and therefore I view it in the light of an encouragement to repentance, but not at all as a sign that God's anger is turned away from us, or a security that our danger is over. No, my brethren, the sun rose upon Sodom the morning of that very day in which it was consumed by fire from heaven. We have got a breathing time, a respite from judgment, but not a perfect deliverance; and if we do not improve the day of our visitation, this mixture of goodness with severity makes it only the more probable that the last exercise of God's patience is at hand, and that the things wbich belong to our peace are in the greatest danger of being hid from our eyes.

Thus then you see what grounds there are to fear, that the dreadful judgment threatened in the text may be inflicted upon us; and this, I hope, will dispose us all to listen to the exhortation bere given us, “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works."

This is the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the only way to prevent the ruin of a sinful people. The substance of this exhortation I have frequently pressed upon you, and therefore I shall not now enlarge upon it; and every thing I have just now delivered to you, may serve as motives to induce you to comply with it. The condlestick may be removed from you. This deprivation of the gospel is the most terrible of all God's judgments; and as our sins deserve it, so God by his providence has actually been threatening us with it. O then let us be awakened from our security, let us value the gospel dis

VOL. II.

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