Page images

is one that can stay their hands, and fay'to each of them, " What dost thou?" but God is a King against whom there is no rising up. There is none who can stay his hand, or fay unto him, " What dost thou?" Dan. iv. 35. Can the pots hinder the potter to dash them all in pieces? Or can worm man shake off the yoke of God's absolute dominion, and live in a separate state from him? (5.) God is eternal. If a great man be our enemy, we know always death will end the quarrel; if we have such an one to be our friend, yet death will tie up his hands, that he can give us no more favours: but God endures for ever. Had a man not only the earth, but the heavens for his portion, yet " the earth shall be burnt up, and the heavens wax old as a garment;" thieves may steal away the covetous man's treasures out of his barns and coffers; moths may consume what remains, the devil in wicked men may take away all he has in the world; only God is an everlasting friend and portion. It must, then, be very fad to be separated from such an one.

2.Allcreated things are empty and unsatisfactory. They are a lie, alluring asar off; but when men come near, they answer not their expectations. The world, that bulky vanity, that great round nothing, can no more sill the heart, than a triangle a circle. All created things stand as two lame legs under vanity and insufficiency. He was a fool, indeed, that laid up for his foul in his barns, as if his swine and his foul could have sed at one trough. Cain had the broad world to sind himself support, but all was sapless: His punishment from God's face was greater than he could bear. Where God is wanting, there is a void which a thousand worlds cannot sill up 5 and therefore, if you know the truth, ye would fay to your sins, to your lusts, " Ye

have have taken away my God, and what have I more?"

3. To be separated from God is the saddest plague out of hell. When God departs, he leaves a burden on the foul behind him, which, when selt, will make the foul to roar: " Yea, woe also to them when I depart from them," Hos. ix. 12. 'Who can tell the ills the sinner is exposed unto, when once sin separates between God and him. Saul selt a total separation; and what a desperate project did it set him upon! Job selt a partial separation, which W3S so heavy, that his soul choosed "strangling and death, rather than lise," Job, vii. 15.

4. Nay, it is a very hell to be. separated from God. Therefore David complains, " that the sorrows of death compassed him, and that the pains of hell got hold upon him," Psal. cxvi. 3. Even coals of hell are cast upon the godly in this world, when their sins have made this separation; only they are softened with love, whereas those cast upon the wicked are dipped in the poison of the curse. Men by their sins now greedily sue out a separation from God. What will hell be, but a giving them their- will? For the torments of hell are summed up in that, " Depart from me, I know you not."'

5. I shall only add, that those that continue in a state of separation from God, have no quarter to which they can turn for comfort in an evil day. We know not what sad trials we may live to see. When men that are seeking great things for them-selves now, may think they are come well to, if they get Baruch's part, their lise for a prey; but for a man to be in Sampson's case, the Philistines upon him, and God departed from him, must be heavy indeed. We must all die : 'this we know. Let a man squeeze his cisterns, then, with which


he now solaces himself in his separation from God, what will they do for him? they will not be able to stay his fleeting and fainting foul. We must rise again. Willthegodsye nowserve help you then ? Will the sea, the rocks, or mountains, fall on him, will the earth cover him, who to enjoy it incurred a separation from God? No, no! O ungratesul earth, that the man consumed time, heart, and strength upon, while his days lasted, that will not take part with him, now when he is not able to do for himself. We must stand before his tribunal, and come near before his throne for judgement, whose presence we now forseit for the satisfying of our lusts. What will comfort us then, when we see we have pasted this partial state of separation from God, as a short preface to an eternal separation from him.

III. I Am now to inquire, How sin makes this separation betwixt God and a soul?

1. There is the guilt of sin, whereby the sinner is bound over to misery for his sin. God, from vindicative justice, acts against the wicked; and this justice of his naturally requires punishment to be inflicted on the sinner, according to the law. Hence, when Adam sinned, a flaming sword was set to keep him off from the tree of lise. The enjoyment of God is the greatest good; now, justice will not permit this, while guilt remains untaken away; and therefore, separation from God necessarily follows. As to the godly, by their guilt they are bound over to fatherly anger and chastisements, whereof that partial separation from God is the chief part.

2. There is the stain and desilement of sin. Now, God is of purer eyes than to behold evil. An unholy sinner cannot have communion with a holy God; and in regard that some are altogether polluted, they are therefore altogether separated from

God. God. Others are only in part polluted, by reason of some one or more sins regarded in their hearts; therefore are under that partial separation, Psal. Ixvi. 18. " If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." The leper, for his uncleanness, was put without the camp; so is the sinner. They only are admitted to stand in the holy place, who have clean hands and a pure heart, Psal. xxiv. 4. Hence says James, chap. iv. 8. . "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you: cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."—It remains,

IV. That I make some practical improvement from this subject. We have,

1. An use of information. We may hence see, (1.) That it is sin which makes a land weak, mean, and contemptible, and is the cause of all national calamity; for sin separates between them and their God. Then their strength is departed from them; and therefore, though the peopje should unite with one another, there is little good to be expected solong as such abominations abound in the land, setting God against us. O that we might see the day, when, uniting with Heaven, we might be zealoufly affected in reformation, and the heaven-daring abominations that abound, in principle and practice, be zealoufly suppressed. But every one minds their own things, sew the things that are Christ's. (2.) Why so sew have communion with God in ordinances, public, private, and secret. Are there not many at public ordinances dead and liseless, sitting like idols that have eyes arid see not, hands but handle not? Why, sin has separated between God and them. Hence they go as they came; no intercourse with God. The Lord goes by them, and comes by them, speaks to the hearts of others, but not to them. They cannot walk together; for


they are not agreed. (3.) Why so many flight religious duties? Some will not bow a knee to God; they will not commune with their hearts, nor converse with God. Sin hath separated them; and what pleasure can they take to converse with an enemy, or one that has turned his back to them? Hence some are net asraid of any company so much as themselves; and therefore, if their consciences begin to speak, they labour some way or other to divert it. (4.) Whence is the root or cause of all the misery prosessors are lying under at this day? Security, barrenness, withering, desertion, and the like. What wonder that it be so? They may thank themselves for the whole. It is their dallying with some bosom-idol, their grieving the Spirit, and flighting his motions and convictions, their worldliness and unwatchsulness: these are the root, the cause of all their misery.

2. An use os exhortation. (t.) To those who enjoy nearness to God. O beware of sih! If ye give way to it, it will soon turn your wine into water, and overcloud your enjoyments. Live at a distance from it; for it is the very thing from which you are in such great hazard. (2.) To those who are by their sins separated from God. Creak off your course of sin, continue not in it. Is not the separation-wall high enough, and thick enough already? what needs more be added? What shai! you do to get the separation taken away ?—Lay hold on the Lord Jesus by faith, Isa. xxvii. 5. " Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." Jesus is the ladder that knits heaven and earth together. It is by him that God reconciles the world to himself. His blood takes away both guilt and pollution. It purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Though God

Vol. I. E hears

« PreviousContinue »