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to them ; I looked carefully to them; all that sought to devour them, were my enemies, and did offend me, and I brought evil upon them; I pleaded their cause while they lived, and I took them seasonably to heaven, and if thou that art their offspring wouldest have put me to it, I would have done as much for thee; if thou hadst but laid hold of that covenant; those very covenant mercies should have been thine, but thou art gone back, thou wilt have none of me, but walkest after new upstart vanities; thou wilt not vouchsafe so much as to inquire after the God of thy fathers who was so faithful to them, and did so much for them : but let me ask thee since thou wilt needs leave me, what iniquity have either thy fathers or thou found in me? produce thy reasons, testify against me, did I ever do thee any wrong? have I not always done thee good ? Oh how unhappy thou art, whithersoever thou goest from me, thou missest of such a God as thy fathers served."* God seems in that scripture to speak after this manner : O hearken to the eternal God, if you will not heed the dying words of your mortal parents, that died in the Lord; though one would think those should move and melt your hearts into tears of gospel sorrow, why should your dear deceased parents rise up in judgment against you at the day of judgment? when it shall be inquired whether they did their duty, they must needs answer according to truth, that they did instruct, correct, counsel, admonish their wandering prodigal children, they brought them to ordinances, prayed for them, wept and travailed again for them, and yet could not prevail; and now must come in to bear witness against them, and must rejoice in God's just vengeance upon them. Oh what a sad case will these rebellious children be in! there is no pleading of privileges by
* A like Expostulation see in Mic. vi. 3, 4.
means of believing parents, at that day; the higher you were advanced therein, the lower will you be cast down to hell.—Matt. xi. 23. Oh how terrible will it be to see godly parents in heaven, and themselves
cast into outer darkness ;" yea, to see strangers, or the converted children of heathenish parents, from east, and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;” but “the children of the kingdom,” the posterity of covenanted parents, “ cast out into outer darkness." See Matt. viii. 11, 12.
Let me therefore persuade all graceless children to look about them; do you above all others beware of miscarrying; greater expectations are from you than others; the surviving friends of your religious ancestors look after you, and inquire what you do. O rejoice their hearts by walking in the steps of your predecessors ; I shall bespeak you, yea charge you, in the words of the Rev. Mr. Bolton upon his death-bed, that none of you will dare to meet us at the great tribunal in an unregenerate state. Let every child of pious parents plead for covenant mercies ; as once Solomon did, 2 Chron. i. 8, 9, “ Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father-now, O Lord God, let thy promise unto David my father be established :” thus do you plead with God, and say–Lord, my parents embraced the covenant, it was thy free grace to choose them, and set thy heart upon them; and is that grace become weary ? canst thou not own me with covenant mercy? nay, dost thou not call that mercy to Abraham by the surer name of truth unto Jacob ? am not I a child of the promise ?-Lord, cut not off the entail of covenant mercies from me or mine for ever.
But I must hasten-let all seek after a share in covenant mercies, you that are afar off, and you that are near, children of the good and of the bad; draw nigh hither, take hold of this covenant; here is mercy for you all, these mercies are attainable.“ Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.”—Isa. lv. 7. They are mercies, fear not being made welcome; they are sure mercies, fear not disappointment: thou hast a tender of mercies, that is a mercy, yea, such a mercy as the fallen angels never had, nor ever shall have; and if thou refuse, thou dost not only neglect a great salvation, but the devils will rise up in judgment against thee: it is a wonder of mercies that thou hast run a wild course, yet there is hope if now thou come upon the call of mercy! all the condition God requires is acceptance of Christ and grace; you are invited, and if you wilfully reject mercy, what must save you ? if you will perish, who can hinder you? you must thank yourselves for ever. The God of mercy stands waiting at your door, the Prince of peace purchased mercy at a dear rate, the Spirit of grace knocks and puts in his blessed finger at the hole of the door-will not your bowels yet move towards him ? He that might with a word command you into hell, beseecheth you to be reconciled ; and will you have no bowels of mercy towards your own souls ? Ministers entreat, travail, study, weep, and earnestly beseech you for mercies' sake to come in:* and yet will you stand out ? and must I after all this pains leave you short of mercy, these sure and sweet mercies? God forbid ! however, remember you were warned.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID MAY SUGGEST VARI
VI. I SHALL proceed to offer some directions to sinners and saints, to which the consideration of the subject leads, and which may form a reply to the following inquiries :
1. What is a person to do that he may obtain an interest in these mercies?
2. How a doubting Christian may be assured of these covenant mercies?
3. In what cases may a believer improve covenant mercies?
4. How a pious individual, that hath interest in these mercies is to behave himself ?
For the first, which concerns graceless characters, poor, unregenerate creatures;
any such inquire what they must do that they may have a part and portion in these sure mercies of David, I shall briefly propound these seven directions :
1. Make a strict inquiry into your state, diligently examine what title you have to the mercies of the covenant, practice this great and much neglected duty of self-trial-whether you have closed with the covenant ? whether Christ be in you, or you be in Christ ? * whether faith be in you, or you be in the faith? Self-knowledge is a good degree towards saving grace. Autology or self-knowledge, is the first step to theology. A man cannot, will not look after mercy till he know his own misery ; they that conceit themselves to be something, deceive themselves; therefore, “let every man prove
* 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
his own work.”—Gal. vi. 3, 4. O how many thousands, with a vain hope, do descend into everlasting burnings ! how many presume they have as good a title to mercy as any, and fall short of it! Mistakes on this point are dangerous and damning, therefore, sirs, try your title, be at a point concerning your state, some are children of wrath, and have not obtained mercy ; yea, all are such by nature. That grace which changeth our title, changeth our dispositions, therefore deal faithfully with your own hearts. Ask them, whether they be renewed, changed, soundly converted ? ask yourselves whether you be new creatures ? Be not put off with silence or a slight answer; remember life and death depend on the resolution of this important question. You must be tried another day, you cannot evade God's impartial search ; only consider, there is no returning back to mend the matter, as you are found at the great day, so must you abide for ever ; but here, if you find a flaw in your title, you may have it well repaired; and this is the first step to amendment of what is amiss, therefore get a distinct knowledge of your state.
2. Work on your hearts the misery of a soul's being destitute of these sure mercies; yea, if upon serious examination you find that your souls have no interest therein, () consider what a dreadful, deplorable state your souls are in! you are, indeed, lo-ruhamahs, bond slaves of Satan, enemies to God, destitute of Christ, and have nothing to do with the good things of the gospel. Learn your state from the blessed apostle, or rather from the infallible dictates of the Holy Ghost : Ephes. ii. 12, "without Christ,” whatever confident claim you may lay to him, however you may boast of him, “ aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," that is, no members of the true church, though you may presumptuously