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Title: Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards
Author: Edwards, Jonathan
Language: English
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project.)



SELECTED SERMONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS



[Illustration: Jonathan Edwards.]



  SELECTED SERMONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS


  EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
  BY H. NORMAN GARDINER
  PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN SMITH COLLEGE


  New York
  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
  1904

  _All rights reserved_



  COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.


  Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1904.


  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



CONTENTS


                                                      PAGE

  INTRODUCTION                                         vii

  SERMONS:

    I. GOD GLORIFIED IN MAN'S DEPENDENCE (1731)          1

   II. THE REALITY OF SPIRITUAL LIGHT (1733)            21

  III. RUTH'S RESOLUTION (1735)                         45

   IV. THE MANY MANSIONS (1737)                         64

    V. SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD (1741)      78

   VI. A STRONG ROD BROKEN AND WITHERED (1748)          98

  VII. FAREWELL SERMON (1750)                          118

  NOTES                                                155



INTRODUCTION


Jonathan Edwards was born October 5, 1703, in what is now South Windsor,
Conn., a part of the parish then known as "Windsor Farmes." His father,
the Rev. Timothy Edwards, the minister of the parish, a Harvard graduate,
was reputed a man of superior ability and polished manners, a lover of
learning as well as of religion; in addition to his pastoral duties, he
fitted young men for college, and his liberal views of education appear in
the fact that he made his daughters pursue the same studies these youths
did. His mother, a daughter of the Rev. Solomon Stoddard, the minister of
Northampton, is said to have resembled her distinguished father in
strength of character and to have surpassed her husband in the native
vigor of her mind. As regards remoter ancestry and their intellectual and
moral qualities, Edwards seems also to have been well born; an exception,
however, must be made of the eccentric and possibly insane grandmother on
his father's side, whose outrageous conduct led to her divorce.[1]

Brought up the only son in a family of ten daughters, apart from all
distracting influences, in an atmosphere of religion and serious study in
the home, amid natural surroundings of meadows, woods, and low-lying
distant hills singularly conducive to a life of contemplation, the boy
early developed that absorbing interest in the things of the spirit, and
that astonishing acuteness of intellect which are the most prominent
characteristics of his genius. While a mere child he spent much of his
time in religious exercises and in conversation on religious matters with
other boys, with some of whom he joined to build a booth in a retired spot
in a swamp for secret prayer; he had besides several other such places for
prayer in the woods to which he was wont to retire. His mind also dwelt
much on the doctrines he was taught, especially on the doctrine of God's
sovereignty in election, against which he at that time violently rebelled.
When only ten years of age he wrote a short, quaint, somewhat humorous
little tract on the immortality of the soul; at about twelve he composed a
remarkably accurate and ingenious paper on the habits of the "flying
spider."

He entered the Collegiate School of Connecticut at Saybrook--afterwards
Yale College--at thirteen, and in 1720, shortly before his seventeenth
birthday, graduated at New Haven with the valedictory. In his Sophomore
year he made the acquaintance of Locke's _Essay on the Human
Understanding_--a work which left a permanent impress on his thinking. He
read it, he says, with a far higher pleasure "than the most greedy miser
finds when gathering up handfuls of silver and gold from some
newly-discovered treasure." Under its influence he began a series of Notes
on the Mind, with a view to a comprehensive treatise on mental philosophy.
He also began, possibly somewhat later, a series of Notes on Natural
Science, with reference to a similar work on natural philosophy. It is in
these early writings that we find the outlines of an idealistic theory
which resembles, but was probably not at all derived from, that of
Berkeley, and which seems to have remained a determining factor in his
speculations to the last.[2]

After graduating he continued to reside for two years in New Haven,
studying for the ministry. From August, 1722, till the following April he
supplied the pulpit of a small Presbyterian congregation in New York, but
declined the invitation to remain as their minister. After returning to
his father's home in Windsor, he received at least two other calls, one of
which he seems to have accepted.[3] In September, 1723, he went to New
Haven to receive his Master's degree, was appointed a tutor at the
college, entered upon the active duties of that office in June, 1724, and
continued in the same till September, 1726, when he resigned his tutorship
to become colleague-pastor with his grandfather Stoddard in the church at
Northampton.

The spiritual history of Edwards in these years of growth from youth to
early manhood is recorded by his own hand in a narrative of personal
experiences written at a later date for his own use, in fragments of a
diary, and in a series of resolutions which he drew up for the conduct of
his own life. These documents, which were first published by his
biographer and descendant, Sereno E. Dwight, in 1829, throw a flood of
light on Edwards's character and temperament, and serve to explain much in
his life which would otherwise be obscure. He tells us in his narrative
how the childish delight in the exercises of religion before referred to
gradually declined; how at length "he turned like a dog to his vomit, and
went on in the ways of sin;" then how, after much conflict of soul, he
experienced toward the end of his college course a genuine conversion,
issuing in a new life and, in the course of time, a deep and delightful
sense of God's sovereignty, the excellency of Christ, and the beauty of
holiness. There is possibly some exaggeration in Edwards's description of
this lapse and this recovery, but it was at least a very real experience
to him, and it doubtless contributed to the emphasis which he afterwards
put on conversion in his preaching. His own state after this decisive
change was at times one of mystic rapture--"a calm, sweet abstraction of
soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision,
or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains or some
solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ
and wrapped and swallowed up in God." His diary is the record of a soul
straining in its flight. He watches the fluctuations of his moods with
almost morbid intensity, and yet in a way by no means merely conventional,
and with a singular absence of sentimentality, so evidently sincere and,
in a sense, objective are his observations. Of his seventy Resolutions,
all written before he was twenty, the following may be taken as a
specimen: it is the language of a mind as truly original as religious, and
is eminently characteristic. "On the supposition that there never was to
be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a
complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity
always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely,
from whatever part and under whatever character viewed, _Resolved_: To act
just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who
should live in my time." And he did so act; these resolutions were not
empty, they really determined his life.

Edwards was ordained at Northampton, February 15, 1727, being then in his
twenty-fourth year. Five months later, July 28, he married the beautiful
Sarah Pierrepont, then seventeen, the daughter of the Rev. James
Pierrepont, of New Haven, one of the founders, and a prominent trustee, of
Yale College, and on her mother's side, the great-granddaughter of Thomas
Hooker, "the father of the Connecticut churches." Edwards's description of
her, written four years before their marriage, is famous.[4] The union
proved a singularly happy one, the intelligence, cheerfulness, piety, and
practical sagacity of Mrs. Edwards combining to make her at once a
congenial companion and a most useful helpmeet to her zealously devout,
highly intellectual, but often low-spirited husband, immersed in his
writings and his books. They had twelve children, all born in Northampton.
Mr. Stoddard died February 11, 1729, leaving the young minister in full
pastoral charge. It was a responsible undertaking for so young a man to
guide the affairs of a church reputed the largest and wealthiest in the
colony outside of Boston, one too on which the venerable and venerated
Stoddard had stamped the impress of his strong personality during a
ministry of nearly sixty years. Edwards, as he later confesses, made
mistakes. Nevertheless, he succeeded in winning and holding the
confidence, admiration, and affection of the people during the greater
part of the twenty-three years of his ministry in Northampton. He carried
the church through two great periods of revival (1734-35, 1740-42), and
added over five hundred and fifty names to its membership.[5] This,
however, represents but a small part of his influence in these years. Both
by his preaching in Northampton and elsewhere and by his published
writings, notably his printed sermons and his works dealing with the
revivals, in which must be included his treatise on the Religious
Affections, he powerfully affected the currents of religious thought and
life throughout New England and the neighboring colonies and, to some
extent also, in England and Scotland. His mission had been to recall the
Puritan churches, which for some seventy years had languished in a period
of decline, to the old high Puritan standards both of creed and of
conduct, and to infuse into them a new spirit of vital piety. In this he
was largely successful; and still to-day, in spite of wide departures from
his theological system, he remains an effectual spiritual force in the
churches inheriting the Puritan tradition.

The estrangement between Edwards and his people began in 1744, in
connection with a case of discipline in which a large number of the youth
belonging to the leading families of the town were brought under suspicion
of reading and circulating immoral books.[6] During the excitement of the
revival the people had willingly accepted his high demands. But now, in
the reaction, flesh and blood rebelled. Edwards, however, was not the man
to accommodate the claims of religion, as he conceived those claims, to
the weaknesses of human nature. It would not be strange if, under the
circumstances, the people looked on their minister as something of a
spiritual dictator, exercising a kind of spiritual tyranny. Still, this
feeling, so far as it then existed, was not likely to have led to an open
rupture, had it not been that four years later, on occasion of an
application--the first in those years--for membership in the church,
Edwards sought to impose a new test of qualification. He required, namely,
that the candidate for full communion should give evidence of being
converted, and as such converted person, should make a public profession
of godliness. This restriction ran counter to the principles and usage
established by Mr. Stoddard, accepted by most of the neighboring churches,
and hitherto followed by Edwards himself, according to which, not only
might persons be admitted to church membership on the terms of the
"Halfway Covenant," but they might come to the Lord's Supper, if they
desired to do so, even without the assurance of conversion, the hope being
that the rite might itself prove a converting ordinance. Edwards was now
openly charged with seeking to lord it over the brethren, and the
indignation was intense. He, on his part, was convinced of the correctness
of his position, and was prepared to maintain it at all costs. The unhappy
controversy lasted for two years: Edwards dignified, courteous, disposed
to be conciliatory, yet insisting on the recognition of his rights, and
showing throughout his great moral and intellectual superiority; the
people prejudiced, obstinate, refusing even to consider his views or to
allow him to set them forth in the pulpit, bent only on getting rid of
him. Finally, on June 22, 1750, the Council, convened to advise on the
matter, recommended, by a vote of 10 to 9, the minority protesting, that
the pastoral relations should be dissolved. The concurrent sentiment of
the church was expressed by the overwhelming vote of about 200 to 20 of
the male members. The next Sunday but one Edwards preached his Farewell
Sermon.[7]

Edwards was now forty-six years of age, unfitted, as he says, for any
other business but study, and with a "numerous and chargeable family" to
face the world with. The long controversy and the circumstances attending
the dismissal had had a depressing effect on his spirits, and the outlook
seemed to him gloomy in the extreme. But his trust was in God, and friends
did not fail. From Scotland came the offer of assistance in procuring him
a charge there; his Northampton adherents desired him to remain and form a
separate church in the town. Early in December he received a call from the
little church in Stockbridge, on the frontier, and about the same time an
invitation from the Commissioners in Boston of the "Society in London for
Propagating the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent" to become
their missionary to the Indians, who then formed a large part of the
Stockbridge settlement. After acquainting himself by a residence of
several months in Stockbridge with the conditions of the work, and after
receiving satisfactory assurances, in a personal interview with the
Governor, with regard to the conduct of the Indian mission, he accepted
both of these proposals. He had scarcely done so when he received a call,
with the promise of generous support, from a church in Virginia.

The opposition which had driven him from Northampton followed him to
Stockbridge. For several years a persistent effort was made to obstruct
his work, particularly his work among the Indians, and even to secure his
removal. But he successfully met this opposition, won the confidence of
the Indians, and greatly endeared himself to the "English." Here, too, in
the wilderness he found time and opportunity for the writing of those
great treatises on the Freedom of the Will, on the End for which God
created the World, on the Nature of True Virtue, and on the Christian
Doctrine of Original Sin, which are the principal foundation of his
theological reputation.

Meanwhile an event had occurred in Edwards's family destined to have
important consequences--the marriage of his daughter Esther to the Rev.
Aaron Burr, President of Nassau Hall, in Princeton.[8] In September,
1757, Mr. Burr died; two days later, the Corporation appointed Edwards as
his successor. Edwards was for various reasons reluctant to accept the
appointment; he mistrusted his fitness, he especially feared that the
duties of the office would seriously interrupt the literary work in which
he was now engrossed. Nevertheless, on the recommendation of a Council
called at his desire to advise in the matter, he accepted the call. He
left Stockbridge in January, and toward the end of the month reached
Princeton. But the only work he did as President of the College was to
preach for five or six Sundays and to give out themes in divinity to the
Senior Class, with whom he afterwards discussed their papers on them. The
small-pox was epidemic in the town when he arrived, and as a precautionary
measure he had himself inoculated. The disease, mild at first, developed
badly, and on March 22, 1758, he died. From his death-bed he sent this
tender and characteristic message to his wife, who was still in
Stockbridge: "Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her that the
uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a
nature, as, I trust, is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever."
His last words, also characteristic, were, "Trust in God, and ye need not
fear."

A tall, spare man, with high, broad forehead, clear piercing eyes,
prominent nose, thin, set lips and a rather weak chin, his whole
appearance suggested the perspicacity of intellect and the integrity,
refinement, and benevolence of character of one possessing little physical
energy, little suited to practical affairs, but intensely alive in the
spirit, intensely absorbed in the contemplation of things invisible and
eternal. The two qualities, indeed, for which he is most distinguished are
spirituality and intellectuality. Spiritual-mindedness was the very core
and essence of his being. Religion was his element. God was to him
absolute Reality; His will and His thoughts alone constituted the ultimate
truth and meaning of things. Nor was this with Edwards a mere
philosophical speculation; it was the high region in which he drew vital
breath, the solid ground on which he walked. He walked with God. He has
been called the "Saint of New England." Like other saints, he too has on
occasion his ecstasies.[9]

To this high spirituality, with its rich emotional coloring, was united a
power and subtlety of intellect such as is possessed by only the very
greatest masters of the mind. The spiritual world in which Edwards moved
was for him no mere shadowy realm of pious sentiment or vague aspiration,
but a world whose main outlines, at least, were sharply defined for
thought. He conceived it, namely, in accordance with the scheme of things
systematized by Calvin, but originally wrought out with the compelling
force of transcendent genius by Augustine. The theological thought of
Augustine is concerned--to put the matter as simply as possible--with the
elaboration of four fundamental ideas: the absolute sovereignty of God;
the absolute dependence of man; the supernatural revelation of a divinely
originated plan of salvation administered by the Church; and a philosophy
of history according to which the whole created universe and the entire
temporal course of events are ordered and governed from all eternity with
reference to the establishment and triumph of a Kingdom of saints in the
Church, the holy "City of God." Augustine's conception of the Church is
modified, but not in principle rejected, by the Protestant theologians;
the other features of the scheme remain substantially unchanged. The idea
of God's absolute sovereignty leads naturally, in connection with the
motives supplied by certain teachings of Scripture, Roman jurisprudence,
Greek philosophy, and the experiences of a profound religious
consciousness, to the doctrines of God's eternal foreknowledge, His
"arbitrary," i.e., unconditional decrees,--the eternal
world-plan,--predestination, election, the historic work of redemption,
everlasting punishment for the unrepentant wicked, everlasting felicity
for the elect saints. Over against the sovereignty of God stands man's
absolute dependence, historically conditioned, as regards his present
spiritual capacities, by the Fall, with original sin, total depravity, and
the utter inability of man to recover by himself his lost heritage as its
consequence. Hence the great, the essential tragedy of human life--man
naturally corrupt, in slavery to sin, at enmity with God, utterly
incompetent to change a condition in which, by a sort of natural
necessity, he is the subject of God's vindictive justice, utterly
dependent for salvation on the free, unmerited grace of God, who has mercy
on whom He will have mercy, while whom He will He hardeneth, revealing
alike in mercy and in punishment the majesty of His divine and sovereign
attributes.

This, in general, is the scheme which Edwards stands for, he most
conspicuously of all men of modern times. His speculative genius gave to
this scheme a metaphysical background, his logical acumen elaboration and
defence. He modified it in some respects, e.g., in his doctrine of the
will. What is more important, he gave a prominence to the inward state of
man--the dispositions and affections of his mind and heart--which
appreciably affected the relative values of the scheme, and which has, in
fact, changed the entire complexion of the religious thought of New
England. But as to the general scheme itself, the philosophy of religion,
the philosophy of life it expresses, there is nothing in that which is
essentially original with Edwards. In standing for these doctrines he but
champions the great orthodox tradition.

But however little original may be the content of his thought, there is
nothing that is not in the highest degree original in his manner of
thinking. The significant thing about Edwards is the way he enters into
the tradition, infuses it with his personality and makes it live. The
vitality of his thought gives to its product the value of a unique
creation. Two qualities in him especially contribute to this result, large
constructive imagination and a marvellously acute power of abstract
reasoning. With the vision of the seer he looks steadily upon his world,
which is the world of all time and space and existence, and sees it as a
whole; God and souls are in it the great realities, and the transactions
between them the great business in which all its movement is concerned;
and this movement has in it nothing haphazard, it is eternally determined
with reference to a supreme and glorious end, the manifestation of the
excellency of God, the highest excellency of being. All the dark and
tragic aspects of the vision, which for him is intensely real, take their
place along with the other aspects, in a system, a system wherein every
part derives meaning and worth from its relation to the whole. People have
wondered how Edwards, the gentlest of men, could contemplate, as he said
he did, with sweetness and delight, the awful doctrine of the divine
sovereignty interpreted, as he interpreted it, as implying the everlasting
misery of a large part of the human race. The reason is no revolting
indifference, callous and inhuman, to suffering; the reason is rather the
personal detachment, the disinterested interest, the freedom from the
"pathetic fallacy" of the great poet, the great constructive thinker. It
is this large quality in Edwards's imagination which is one source of his
power. Another is the thoroughness and ability with which he
intellectually elaborates the details of his scheme. He wrote, indeed, no
system of divinity; yet he is the very opposite of a fragmentary thinker,
and few minds have been less episodic than was his. His intellectual
constructions are large and solid. Of the doctrines with which he deals,
he leaves nothing undeveloped; with infinite patience he pushes his
inquiries into every minute detail and remote consequence, putting his
adversaries to confusion by the unremitting attack, the overwhelming
massiveness of the argument. Rarely indeed can one escape his conclusions
who accepts his premises. Moreover, by the thoroughness, acuteness and
sincerity of his reasoning he powerfully stimulates the intellectual
faculties. Even in his most terrific sermons he never appeals to mere hope
and fear, nor to mere authority; in them, as in his theological treatises,
he is bent on demonstrating, within the limits prescribed by the
underlying assumptions, the reasonableness of his doctrine, its agreement
with the facts of life and the constitution of things, as well as with the
inspired teachings of the Word.

Now these qualities appear, as in his other writings, so also, and perhaps
most conspicuously, in his sermons. Edwards's chief public work and his
chief reputation in his lifetime was as a preacher; the fame of his
theological treatises is largely, indeed, posthumous. He was a great
preacher. In the case of many of the older divines, it is difficult for us
now to understand how they could ever have been considered great
preachers: to us their sermons seem dry and insipid. But it is not so with
Edwards. Even in print, after more than a hundred and fifty years, and
notwithstanding the gulf which separates our age from his, his sermons are
still deeply interesting. They are interesting because, among other
things, they reveal a great and interesting personality. They are instinct
with the energy of his intellect, they are vital with the vital touch of
his genius. He preached his theology; some of his sermons--for instance,
the sermon, or rather combination of sermons, on Justification by
Faith--seem to be less sermons than highly elaborate theological
disquisitions, adapted to the use of professional students. And there is
doubtless no sermon of his which does not reflect, to some extent, his
theological system. Edwards was certainly impressed with The Importance
and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth--the theme and title
of one of his ablest discourses. He held that God had revealed Himself
not only to the heart, but to the mind of man, and that an intelligent
apprehension of the revelation was indispensable, in some measure, alike
to saving faith and to the development of Christian character. But it
would be a mistake to think of Edwards as preaching the dry bones of his
theology. He was far, indeed, from supposing, as some now seem to suppose,
that a Christian society can be the more perfectly organized in proportion
as all definiteness of theological, that is, distinctively religious,
conceptions is eliminated. He had too profound a respect for the intellect
to exclude it from matters of the deepest speculative as well as practical
moment, and he had too lofty an idea of religion to identify it either
with vague, transcendental emotion or with merely personal, social, or
political morality. His sermons, however, are by no means all of one type.
On the contrary, they are of a great variety of types. They are
"doctrinal," "practical," "experimental," and--taking into account the
unpublished manuscripts--there is an unusually large number of
"occasional" sermons.[10] And there are a good many varieties within the
types. But even when the sermons are most "doctrinal," the practical
interest of a _living_ conviction of the truth is never absent. The
abstract antithesis of thought and life, of theory and practice, as though
thinking were not itself a doing or as though an attitude toward truth
were not itself practical or capable of determining other practical
attitudes, is an error from which Edwards is wholesomely free.

To say this is not necessarily to approve the content of his doctrinal
preaching. The thought of the churches with which Edwards was associated
has moved away from his thought. He contended stoutly for his scheme of
things, but he fought, it would seem, a losing fight. It is not that he
has been refuted by abstract logic; the argument by which he has been set
aside, so far as he has been set aside, is the logic of events. The
change has been brought about no doubt by many influences. Some of them
seem purely sentimental. But there are two things at least of fundamental
divergence in the character of our time--the development in us of a
critically disciplined historical sense and the dominating influence in
our modern science and philosophy of the idea of evolution. These have
broken down those hard and fast distinctions between nature and the
supernatural, nature and grace, human reason and divine revelation in
which Edwards delighted, at least in the form in which he habitually
preached them. With the establishment, on the lines of historical
criticism, of new canons of exegesis in the interpretation of Scripture
and with the gradual disappearance of the idea of the Bible as an external
authority, Protestant Christianity is at present confronting the question,
whether the entire claim of Christianity to be a supernatural revelation,
in the sense in which the term "supernatural" is used by orthodox
theologians, has not been misplaced. This is a question which Edwards
never raises and which he does not help us directly to solve. He has the
mind of a speculative philosopher, has a very profound thought of God,
grasps firmly the eternal spiritual significance of things; but he is
deficient in the historical sense--his History of Redemption is a wholly
uncritical, dogmatic construction, and he is not speculative enough to
find, or at least he works under conditions which prevent him from
showing, the mediating principles by which the antitheses and
contradictions of experience and theory can be reconciled and annulled.

But to return to the sermons. Edwards's sermons are constructed, in
general, on a definite model. We have, first, the Exposition of the text.
We have, secondly, a clearly formulated statement of the Doctrine, which
is then developed under its appropriate and preannounced divisions.
Finally, we have what is variously called the Improvement, Use, or
Application, similarly developed. The "Doctrine" is not usually an
abstract theological dogma: it is simply the theme of the discourse stated
in propositional form. Thus an unpublished sermon on John i. 41, 42 has
this for its statement of doctrine: "When persons have truly come to
Christ themselves, they naturally desire to bring others also to him."
Another unpublished sermon on John iii. 7 has this: "'Tis no wonder that
Christ said that we must be born again." In another--also
unpublished--from the text John i. 47 the doctrine is the similarly simple
statement, "'Tis a great thing to be indeed a converted person."
Sometimes, though rarely, the statement of a doctrine is omitted
altogether, the text itself being regarded as sufficiently defining the
subject.[11] This, however, is never the case with the Application.
Indeed, so "practical" is Edwards in his preaching that the Application is
sometimes much the larger part of the discourse. In the sermon on John i.
47, for example, it fills about two-thirds of the manuscript. In fact, the
proportion of these parts, Exposition, Development of Doctrine and
Application, depends entirely on the nature of the theme and the special
ends of the sermon. And similarly of the length and number of the
subdivisions. One feature is constant--strictly logical arrangement.
However finely articulated the sermons may be, they are constructed so as
to make a distinctly unified impression. Nor is this unity of impression
seriously interfered with, as a rule, by the length of the sermon. Edwards
was not in the habit of exhausting the attention of his audience.
Occasionally, however, he would develop his theme through two or more
sermons. When these appear in the printed editions as a single discourse,
the length naturally seems inordinate. In the manuscripts the parts of
such compound sermons are indicated by the word "Doc" (Doctrine) at the
divisions, suggesting that the preacher was wont, in renewing the theme,
to remind his hearers of the precise nature of the subject under
discussion.[12]

And as there was no confusion in the thought, so the style of Edwards's
sermons is singularly clear, simple and unstudied. He affects no graces,
seeks no adornments, which the subject-matter itself and his interest in
it do not naturally lend. "The style is the man" is a saying which
peculiarly applies to him. The nobility, strength and directness of his
thought, the vividness and largeness of his imagination, the truthfulness
and elevation of his character, the intensity of his convictions, his
impassioned earnestness are reflected in his discourses. They seem to have
been to an unusual degree a spontaneous form of self-expression. But
attention is never diverted from the subject to the skill of the
workmanship. The object is not to delight, but to convince, and the
attainment of this end is sought by direct methods of argument, persuasion
and appeal. Yet the style, though simple and straightforward, is very far
from being barren. The sermons are full of great, rich, beautiful words;
and there are many passages in them of wonderful charm as well as many of
great sublimity and rhetorical power. But Edwards's interest in these
seems never merely verbal. He is not a maker of phrases. He makes use of
striking metaphor and startling antithesis, his style is often
picturesque, he well knows the rhetorical value of iteration, when the
repeated phrase is employed in a varied context; but he never seeks to
produce his effects by literary indirection. He can be easy, familiar,
colloquial even, on occasion, if that suits his purpose; but he is never
undignified, never vulgarly sensational, nor does he seem ever to be
intentionally humorous. The construction of his sentences is often such as
the pedantry of modern standards would condemn; but however old-fashioned,
it is seldom indeed that the expression can be called whimsical or quaint.
The most determining external influence on his style was unquestionably
the old, so-called King James version of the English Bible. His language
is saturated with its thought and phraseology. And as he is intimately
acquainted with it in all its parts, so he is continually quoting it and
constantly surprising us with fresh discoveries, in novel collocations, of
its variety, beauty and impressiveness. He was influenced also doubtless
by his too exclusively theological and philosophical reading. But it is,
in the end, the originality of his own genius, the depth and subtlety and
force of his mind and the richness of his spiritual experiences, which we
must regard as setting the stamp upon his style. Edwards's sermons are
hall-marked: they have not only interest as historical memorials of the
religious conditions of their time; as the personal expressions of an
original mind, working in traditional material, indeed, but animating and
so refashioning it with the unique form of a great personality, they have
also the value of literature.

Largely to the union of the intellectual and emotional elements
mentioned--the definiteness of the message, the logical unity of the
thought, the singleness and sincerity of the aim, the intensity of the
conviction, the thorough knowledge of Scripture, the profound
acquaintance, through personal experience, of the religious movings of the
human heart--must be attributed, in connection with the state of religious
thought and feeling of the time and the respect aroused by the character
of the preacher, the power which he exercised on his contemporaries. Of
his manner of preaching we have from his pupil, Hopkins, the following
authentic testimony. "His appearance in the desk was with a good grace,
and his delivery easy, natural and very solemn. He had not a strong, loud
voice, but appeared with such gravity and solemnity, and spake with such
distinctness, clearness and precision, his words were so full of ideas,
set in such a plain and striking light, that few speakers have been so
able to demand the attention of an audience as he. His words often
discovered a great degree of inward fervor, without much noise or external
emotion, and fell with great weight on the minds of his hearers. He made
but little motion of his head or hands in the desk, but spake as to
discover the motion of his own heart, which tended in the most natural and
effectual manner to move and affect others.

"As he wrote his sermons out at large for many years, and always wrote a
considerable part of most of his public discourses, so he carried his
notes into the desk with him, and read the most that he wrote; yet he was
not so confined to his notes, when he wrote at large, but that, if some
thoughts were suggested, while he was speaking, which did not occur when
writing, and appeared to him pertinent and striking, he would deliver
them; and that with as great propriety, and oftener with greater pathos,
and attended with a more sensible good effect on his hearers, than all he
had wrote."[13]

       *       *       *       *       *

The sermons in the present volume have been selected as representative of
Edwards the preacher rather than of Edwards the theologian. Any such
collection must include at least the following four: the sermon on Man's
Dependence, the sermon on Spiritual Light, the Enfield Sermon and the
Farewell Sermon. These are classic. Moreover, they represent Edwards in
four of his most distinguishing aspects: as the powerful champion of a
theology resting ultimately on the principle of a transcendent, righteous,
sovereign Will; as the equally convinced advocate of the mystical
principle of an immediate, intuitive apprehension, through supernatural
illumination, of divine truth; as the flaming revivalist, with pitiless
logic and terrible realism of description, arousing, startling,
overwhelming the sinner with the sense of impending doom; finally, as the
rejected minister appealing, without rancor or bitterness, from the
judgment of this world to the judgment of an infallible tribunal and
displaying what must ever make him more interesting, more precious as a
heritage to the Church and the world, than any of his opinions or his
works, the dignity and repose, the patience, strength and depth of a great
character, perfected through suffering and apparent defeat, in what was
virtually the Apologia of his ministerial life. These sermons alone would
suffice to justify Edwards's reputation as the foremost preacher of his
age. Still, they cannot, of course, be taken as adequately representing
the whole range and power of his discourses. In particular, the Enfield
sermon, which has loomed so large in the popular imagination of Jonathan
Edwards, and which, in fact, is but one--to be sure, the most extreme--of
a number of the same type, cannot be taken as fairly representative even
of Edwards's revival sermons. There has, therefore, been added, in this
reference, a revival sermon of another type, the sermon on Ruth's
Resolution. This sermon was chosen, not because it is better than some
others, but because, while being an excellent sermon of its kind, it is
also brief, and so better adapted to the scope of this volume. There has
been further added, as representing a type distinctly different from any
of the others, the funeral sermon entitled A Strong Rod Broken and
Withered, which is certainly one of the noblest, in thought and
expression, of Edwards's discourses, and which is probably unique among
his writings as dealing with the subject of civil government and the
management of affairs. Had space permitted, the picture of the Christian
statesman in this sermon might have been matched by the picture of the
Christian minister in one of the ordination sermons; but the omission is
the less serious since the conception is so largely realized in Edwards
himself.

The above six sermons were selected independently of the fact that they
are among the ten published by their author; but this circumstance
confirms the choice and, moreover, serves to authenticate the text.
Edwards has suffered not a little at the hands of his editors,
particularly Dwight, who seems to have been possessed by the idea that his
author would appear to better advantage in a style and language more
elegant and refined. "Don't do as Orpah did," pleads Edwards in the Ruth
sermon; "Do not as Orpah did," is the feeble refinement of his editor. But
even the generally accurate Worcester or First American Edition (1809) is
not to be implicitly trusted; for instance, two whole pages are omitted at
the end of the Enfield sermon, giving to that sermon a startling and
bizarre close, wholly out of keeping with Edwards's habitual manner. Later
editions import other errors and, even while professing to follow the
Worcester edition, sometimes, in fact, follow not that edition, but
Dwight's (e.g., in the Ruth sermon). The present text is based upon a
careful comparison of the original editions, now very scarce, in the
Boston Athenæum. The original expressions, 'tis, won't, don't, etc., as
Edwards himself printed them, have been restored, a number of verbal
errors in the later editions corrected and several omitted lines
recovered, besides the long passage already mentioned, which is, however,
in Dwight, at the end of the Enfield sermon. No attempt, however, has been
made to give a facsimile reproduction of the first editions with all their
printer's errors, capricious spelling, antiquated punctuation and uncouth
use of capitals and italics. These externalities could but distract the
modern reader, while adding nothing essential to accuracy. In these
respects, therefore, the more modern usage has been followed. The aim has
simply been to give the exact words of the originals and to preserve their
spirit, treating the sermons as sermons to be preached and not as essays
to be read. Accordingly, while avoiding the extremes of the first
editions, italics have been used where Edwards used them to mark
divisions, or for special emphasis, somewhat more freely than would be
customary now. This edition also follows his, and the Biblical, use of
ordinary type in personal pronouns referring to divine beings, the verbal
reverence in the modern use of capitals being regarded as needless to
enhance the real reverence of Edwards's thought and possibly a little out
of place. Added words are enclosed within square brackets.

Besides the six sermons mentioned, the present collection includes one,
the interesting if not exactly great sermon on the Many Mansions, which
has not before been published. A copy of this sermon made for the late
Professor Edwards A. Park, of Andover, was kindly put at the disposal of
the editor by his son, the Rev. Dr. William E. Park, of Gloversville,
N.Y.; but it has also been carefully collated with the original
manuscript. The editor has also examined the original manuscripts of all
the other sermons in this volume, except that of the Farewell Sermon,
which could not be discovered. These manuscripts are all in the collection
of between eleven and twelve hundred of Edwards's sermons now in the Yale
University Library. Most of these manuscripts are written in an
exceedingly minute hand, with many abbreviations and occasionally with
insertions in shorthand, on sheets of paper about 3-5/8 × 4-1/8 in. in
size, stoutly stitched together. The facsimile of the first page of the
sermon on Spiritual Light given in this volume opposite p. 21 is
representative; a relatively small number are slightly larger. Of the
particular manuscripts some account will be found in the notes. The
handling and deciphering of these manuscripts give one a curious sense of
intimacy with the working of Edwards's brain and heart: one is with him in
his workshop and sees, as it were, the very thing in the making. One seems
to feel the intensity of the excitement as, with his audience present in
imagination, and with keen delight in the activity of literary creation,
he works out his theme. One observes how alternative forms of expression,
alternative lines of development, suggest themselves, and how now whole
paragraphs, whole pages are struck off at white heat, while now, oftenest
towards the end, the barest outlines are jotted down, to be filled out in
delivery. But the manuscripts of the sermons which Edwards himself
published afford no help in the fixing of the text. The sermons as he
printed them are invariably expanded and often greatly altered in other
respects; and the copy prepared for the printer is no longer extant.[14]
This circumstance should not be overlooked in judging of sermons printed
directly from the manuscripts. In the Yale collection, there are sermons
which were written out pretty fully; others are only fairly fully written
out in parts, others again are mere skeletons. The majority of those of
the Northampton period are of the second sort. Among the hundreds of
Edwards's unpublished sermons, there are doubtless many that it would be
interesting to have in print just as they stand; it is doubtful if there
are any which would add materially to his reputation as a preacher in
comparison with the great sermons already published.

The portrait of Edwards in this volume is from a recent photograph of the
original painting of 1740. The photograph was kindly furnished by the
present owner of the painting, Mr. Eugene P. Edwards, of Chicago, to whom
the editor takes this opportunity of expressing his obligations. He also
desires to express his thanks to Dr. William E. Park for the use of the
copy of the sermon on the Many Mansions; to the publishers for allowing
the extra space required for printing this new sermon; to Professor
Franklin B. Dexter for generous help in the study of the manuscripts and
for permission to photograph the sermon on Spiritual Light; to Mr. Charles
K. Bolton, Librarian of the Boston Athenæum, for courtesies in the use of
the first editions; and to Mr. George N. Whipple of Boston, for verifying
a number of references.

  NORTHAMPTON, MASS.,
      March, 1904.



SELECTED SERMONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS



I

GOD GLORIFIED IN MAN'S DEPENDENCE°

1 COR. i. 29-31.--That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him
are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and
righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is
written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Those Christians to whom the apostle directed this epistle dwelt in a part
of the world where human wisdom was in great repute; as the apostle
observes in the 22d verse of this chapter, "The Greeks seek after wisdom."
Corinth was not far from Athens, that had been for many ages the most
famous seat of philosophy and learning in the world.

The apostle therefore observes to them how that God, by the gospel,
destroyed and brought to nought their human wisdom. The learned Grecians
and their great philosophers by all their wisdom did not know God: they
were not able to find out the truth in divine things. But after they had
done their utmost to no effect, it pleased God at length to reveal himself
by the gospel, which they accounted foolishness. He "chose the foolish
things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world,
and things that are despised, yea, and things which are not, to bring to
nought the things that are." And the apostle informs them why he thus
did, in the verse of the text: _That no flesh should glory in his
presence_, &c.

In which words may be observed,

1. What God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of
redemption, viz., that man should not glory in himself, but alone in God:
_That no flesh should glory in his presence,--that, according as it is
written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord_.

2. How this end is attained in the work of redemption, viz., by that
absolute and immediate dependence which men have upon God in that work for
all their good. Inasmuch as,

First, All the good that they have is in and through Christ; _he is made
unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption_. All the
good of the fallen and redeemed creature is concerned in these four
things, and cannot be better distributed than into them; but Christ is
each of them to us, and we have none of them any otherwise than in him.
_He is made of God unto us wisdom_: in him are all the proper good and
true excellency of the understanding. Wisdom was a thing that the Greeks
admired; but Christ is the true light of the world, it is through him
alone that true wisdom is imparted to the mind. 'Tis in and by Christ that
we have _righteousness_: it is by being in him that we are justified, have
our sins pardoned, and are received as righteous into God's favor. 'Tis by
Christ that we have _sanctification_: we have in him true excellency of
heart as well as of understanding; and he is made unto us inherent, as
well as imputed righteousness. 'Tis by Christ that we have _redemption_,
or actual deliverance from all misery, and the bestowment of all happiness
and glory. Thus we have all our good by Christ, who is God.

Secondly, Another instance wherein our dependence on God for all our good
appears, is this, that it is God that has given us Christ, that we might
have these benefits through him; he _of God is made unto us wisdom,
righteousness_, &c.

Thirdly, 'Tis _of him_ that we are in Christ Jesus, and come to have an
interest in him, and so do receive those blessings which he is made unto
us. It is God that gives us faith whereby we close with Christ.

So that in this verse is shown our dependence on each person in the
Trinity for all our good. We are dependent on Christ the Son of God, as he
is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. We are
dependent on the Father, who has given us Christ, and made him to be these
things to us. We are dependent on the Holy Ghost, for 'tis _of him that we
are in Christ Jesus_; 'tis the Spirit of God that gives faith in him,
whereby we receive him and close with him.


DOCTRINE

_God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in
it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him._

Here I propose to show, I., That there is an absolute and universal
dependence of the redeemed on God for all their good. And II., That God
hereby is exalted and glorified in the work of redemption.

I. There is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God.
The nature and contrivance of our redemption is such, that the redeemed
are in every thing directly, immediately and entirely dependent on God:
they are dependent on him for all, and are dependent on him every way.

The several ways wherein the dependence of one being may be upon another
for its good, and wherein the redeemed of Jesus Christ depend on God for
all their good, are these, viz., that they have all their good _of_ him,
and that they have all _through_ him, and that they have all _in_ him.
That he is the cause and original whence all their good comes, therein it
is _of_ him; and that he is the medium by which it is obtained and
conveyed, therein they have it _through_ him; and that he is that good
itself that is given and conveyed, therein it is _in_ him.

Now those that are redeemed by Jesus Christ do, in all these respects,
very directly and entirely depend on God for their all.

First, The redeemed have all their good _of_ God; God is the great author
of it; he is the first cause of it, and not only so, but he is the only
proper cause.

'Tis of God that we have our Redeemer: it is God that has provided a
Saviour for us. Jesus Christ is not only of God in his person, as he is
the only begotten Son of God, but he is from God, as we are concerned in
him and in his office of Mediator: he is the gift of God to us: God chose
and anointed him, appointed him his work, and sent him into the world.

And as it is God that gives, so 'tis God that accepts the Saviour. As it
is God that provides and gives the Redeemer to buy salvation for us, so it
is of God that salvation is bought: he gives the purchaser, and he affords
the thing purchased.

'Tis of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him and are
united to him: it is of God that we receive faith to close with him, that
we may have an interest in him. Eph. ii. 8, "For by grace ye are saved,
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." 'Tis of
God that we actually do receive all the benefits that Christ has
purchased. 'Tis God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going
down to hell, and it is his favor that the redeemed are received into, and
are made the objects of, when they are justified. So it is God that
delivers from the dominion of sin, and cleanses us from our filthiness,
and changes us from our deformity. It is of God that the redeemed do
receive all their true excellency, wisdom and holiness; and that two ways,
viz., as the Holy Ghost, by whom these things are immediately wrought, is
from God, proceeds from him and is sent by him; and also as the Holy
Ghost himself is God, by whose operation and indwelling the knowledge of
divine things, and a holy disposition, and all grace, are conferred and
upheld.

And though means are made use of in conferring grace on men's souls, yet
'tis of God that we have these means of grace, and 'tis God that makes
them effectual. 'Tis of God that we have the holy Scriptures; they are the
word of God. 'Tis of God that we have ordinances, and their efficacy
depends on the immediate influence of the Spirit of God. The ministers of
the gospel are sent of God, and all their sufficiency is of him. 2 Cor.
iv. 7, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of
the power may be of God, and not of us." Their success depends entirely
and absolutely on the immediate blessing and influence of God. The
redeemed have all.

1. Of the _grace_ of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only
begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the dignity and
excellency of what is given: the gift was infinitely precious, because it
was a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also
because it was a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is
great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him: the benefit is
doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite,
because an eternal, misery; and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The
grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to
whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely
ill of God's hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving,
or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by
which way is made for our having of the gift. He gave him to us dwelling
amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; he gave him to
us in our nature, in the like infirmities in which we have it in our
fallen state, and which in us do accompany and are occasioned by the
sinful corruption of our nature. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted
state; and not only so, but he gave him to us slain, that he might be a
feast for our souls.°

The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was
under no obligation to bestow: he might have rejected fallen man, as he
did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit. 'Twas
given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It
was from the love of God that saw no excellency in us to attract it; and
it was without expectation of ever being requited for it.

And 'tis from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such
and such particular persons. Those that are called and sanctified are to
attribute it alone to the good pleasure of God's goodness, by which they
are distinguished. He is sovereign, and hath mercy on whom he will have
mercy, and whom he will, he hardens.

Man hath now a greater dependence on the grace of God than he had before
the fall. He depends on the free goodness of God for much more than he did
then: then he depended on God's goodness for conferring the reward of
perfect obedience: for God was not obliged to promise and bestow that
reward: but now we are dependent on the grace of God for much more: we
stand in need of grace, not only to bestow glory upon us, but to deliver
us from hell and eternal wrath. Under the first covenant we depended on
God's goodness to give us the reward of righteousness; and so we do now.
And not only so, but we stand in need of God's free and sovereign grace to
give us that righteousness; and yet not only so, but we stand in need of
his grace to pardon our sin and release us from the guilt and infinite
demerit of it.

And as we are dependent on the goodness of God for more now than under the
first covenant, so we are dependent on a much greater, more free and
wonderful goodness. We are now more dependent on God's arbitrary and
sovereign good pleasure. We were in our first estate dependent on God for
holiness: we had our original righteousness from him; but then holiness
was not bestowed in such a way of sovereign good pleasure as it is now.
Man was created holy, and it became God to create holy all the reasonable
creatures he created: it would have been a disparagement to the holiness
of God's nature, if he had made an intelligent creature unholy. But now
when a man is made holy, it is from mere and arbitrary grace; God may
forever deny holiness to the fallen creature if he pleases, without any
disparagement to any of his perfections.

And we are not only indeed more dependent on the grace of God, but our
dependence is much more conspicuous, because our own insufficiency and
helplessness in ourselves is much more apparent in our fallen and undone
state than it was before we were either sinful or miserable. We are more
apparently dependent on God for holiness, because we are first sinful, and
utterly polluted, and afterward holy: so the production of the effect is
sensible, and its derivation from God more obvious. If man was ever holy
and always was so, it would not be so apparent, that he had not holiness
necessarily, as an inseparable qualification of human nature. So we are
more apparently dependent on free grace for the favor of God, for we are
first justly the objects of his displeasure and afterwards are received
into favor. We are more apparently dependent on God for happiness, being
first miserable and afterwards happy. It is more apparently free and
without merit in us, because we are actually without any kind of
excellency to merit, if there could be any such thing as merit in creature
excellency. And we are not only without any true excellency, but are full
of, and wholly defiled with, that which is infinitely odious. All our good
is more apparently from God, because we are first naked and wholly without
any good, and afterwards enriched with all good.

2. We receive all of the _power_ of God. Man's redemption is often spoken
of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace. The great power of God
appears in bringing a sinner from his low state, from the depths of sin
and misery, to such an exalted state of holiness and happiness. Eph. i.
19, "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who
believe, according to the working of his mighty power."

We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We
are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus
Christ, and the new nature. 'Tis a work of creation: "If any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature," 2 Cor. v. 17. "We are created in Christ
Jesus," Eph. ii. 10. The fallen creature cannot attain to true holiness,
but by being created again: Eph. iv. 24, "And that ye put on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." It is a
raising from the dead: Col ii. 12, 13, "Wherein ye also are risen with
him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from
the dead." Yea, it is a more glorious work of power than mere creation, or
raising a dead body to life, in that the effect attained is greater and
more excellent. That holy and happy being and spiritual life which is
reached in the work of conversion is a far greater and more glorious
effect than mere being and life. And the state from whence the change is
made, of such a death in sin, and total corruption of nature, and depth of
misery, is far more remote from the state attained, than mere death or
nonentity.

'Tis by God's power also that we are preserved in a state of grace: 1 Pet.
i. 5, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." As
grace is at first from God, so 'tis continually from him, and is
maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from
the sun, as well as at first dawning or at sunrising.

Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for
carrying on the work of grace in the heart, for the subduing of sin and
corruption, and increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth
fruit in good works, and at last bringing grace to its perfection, in
making the soul completely amiable in Christ's glorious likeness, and
filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising
of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be
suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed.
These are the most glorious effects of the power of God that are seen in
the series of God's acts with respect to the creatures.

Man was dependent on the power of God in his first estate, but he is more
dependent on his power now; he needs God's power to do more things for
him, and depends on a more wonderful exercise of his power. It was an
effect of the power of God to make man holy at the first; but more
remarkably so now, because there is a great deal of opposition and
difficulty in the way. 'Tis a more glorious effect of power to make that
holy that was so depraved and under the dominion of sin, than to confer
holiness on that which before had nothing of the contrary. It is a more
glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and
from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation,
than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition.
Luke xi. 21, 22, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods
are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and
overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and
divideth his spoils." So 'tis a more glorious work of power to uphold a
soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is
brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart
resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been
to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man.

Thus we have shown how the redeemed are dependent on God for all their
good, as they have all _of_ him.

Secondly, They are also dependent on God for all, as they have all
_through_ him. 'Tis God that is the medium of it, as well as the author
and fountain of it. All that we have, wisdom and the pardon of sin,
deliverance from hell, acceptance in God's favor, grace and holiness, true
comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, we have from God by a
Mediator; and this Mediator is God, which Mediator we have an absolute
dependence upon as he _through_ whom we receive all. So that here is
another way wherein we have our dependence on God for all good. God not
only gives us the Mediator, and accepts his mediation, and of his power
and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator, but he is the
Mediator.

Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of
God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and
not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea, God is both the purchaser and
the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us by
offering up himself as the price of our salvation. He purchased eternal
life by the sacrifice of himself: Heb. vii. 27, "He offered up himself;"
and ix. 26, "He hath appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of
himself." Indeed it was the human nature that was offered; but it was the
same person with the divine, and therefore was an infinite price: it was
looked upon as if God had been offered in sacrifice.

As we thus have our good through God, we have a dependence on God in a
respect that man in his first estate had not. Man was to have eternal life
then through his own righteousness; so that he had partly a dependence
upon what was in himself; for we have a dependence upon that through which
we have our good, as well as that from which we have it. And though man's
righteousness that he then depended on was indeed from God, yet it was his
own, it was inherent in himself; so that his dependence was not so
immediately on God. But now the righteousness that we are dependent on is
not in ourselves, but in God. We are saved through the righteousness of
Christ: he _is made unto us righteousness_; and therefore is prophesied
of, Jer. xxiii. 6, under that name of "the Lord our righteousness." In
that the righteousness we are justified by is the righteousness of Christ,
it is the righteousness of God: 2 Cor. v. 21, "That we might be made the
righteousness of God in him."

Thus in redemption we han't only all things of God, but by and through
him: 1 Cor. viii. 21, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom
are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all
things, and we by him."

Thirdly, The redeemed have all their good _in_ God. We not only have it of
him, and through him, but it consists in him; he _is_ all our good.

The good of the redeemed is either objective or inherent. By their
objective good I mean that intrinsic object, in the possession and
enjoyment of which they are happy. Their inherent good is that excellency
or pleasure which is in the soul itself. With respect to both of which the
redeemed have all their good in God, or, which is the same thing, God
himself is all their good.

1. The redeemed have all their _objective_ good in God. God himself is the
great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by
redemption. He is the highest good and the sum of all that good which
Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion
of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life,
their dwelling-place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting
honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good
which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to
at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly
Jerusalem; and is the "river of the water of life," that runs, and "the
tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God." The
glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever
entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their
everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will
enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall
enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that
will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in
them.

2. The redeemed have all their _inherent_ good in God. Inherent good is
twofold; 'tis either excellency or pleasure. These the redeemed not only
derive from God, as caused by him, but have them in him. They have
spiritual excellency and joy by a kind of participation of God. They are
made excellent by a communication of God's excellency: God puts his own
beauty, i.e., his beautiful likeness, upon their souls: they are made
partakers of the divine nature, or moral image of God, 2 Pet. i. 4. They
are holy by being made partakers of God's holiness, Heb. xii. 10. The
saints are beautiful and blessed by a communication of God's holiness and
joy, as the moon and planets are bright by the sun's light. The saint hath
spiritual joy and pleasure by a kind of effusion of God on the soul. In
these things the redeemed have communion with God; that is, they partake
with him and of him.

The saints have both their spiritual excellency and blessedness by the
gift of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, and his dwelling in them. They
are not only caused by the Holy Ghost, but are in the Holy Ghost as their
principle. The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant, is a vital principle in
the soul: he, acting in, upon and with the soul, becomes a fountain of
true holiness and joy, as a spring is of water, by the exertion and
diffusion of itself: John iv. 14, "But whosoever drinketh of the water
that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give
him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting
life,"--compared with chap. vii. 38, 39, "He that believeth on me, as the
Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;
but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should
receive." The sum of what Christ has purchased for us is that spring of
water spoken of in the former of those places, and those rivers of living
water spoken of in the latter. And the sum of the blessings which the
redeemed shall receive in heaven is that river of water of life that
proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb, Rev. xxii. 1,--which
doubtless signifies the same with those rivers of living water explained
John vii. 38, 39, which is elsewhere called the "river of God's
pleasures." Herein consists the fulness of good which the saints receive
by Christ. 'Tis by partaking of the Holy Spirit that they have communion
with Christ in his fulness. God hath given the Spirit, not by measure unto
him, and they do receive of his fulness, and grace for grace. This is the
sum of the saints' inheritance; and therefore that little of the Holy
Ghost which believers have in this world is said to be the earnest of
their inheritance. 2 Cor. i. 22, "Who hath also sealed us, and given us
the Spirit in our hearts." And chap. v. 5, "Now he that hath wrought us
for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of
the Spirit." And Eph. i. 13, 14, "Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of
promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of
the purchased possession."

The Holy Spirit and good things are spoken of in Scripture as the same; as
if the Spirit of God communicated to the soul comprised all good things:
Matt. vii. 11, "How much more shall your heavenly Father give good things
to them that ask him?" In Luke it is, chap. xi. 13, "How much more shall
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" This is
the sum of the blessings that Christ died to procure, and that are the
subject of gospel promises: Gal. iii. 13, 14, "He was made a curse for us,
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." The
Spirit of God is the great promise of the Father: Luke xxiv. 49, "Behold,
I send the promise of my Father upon you." The Spirit of God therefore is
called "the Spirit of promise," Eph. i. 13. This promised thing Christ
received, and had given into his hand, as soon as he had finished the work
of our redemption, to bestow on all that he had redeemed: Acts ii. 33,
"Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of
the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which
ye both see and hear." So that all the holiness and happiness of the
redeemed is _in_ God. 'Tis in the communications, indwelling and acting of
the Spirit of God. Holiness and happiness are in the fruit, here and
hereafter, because God dwells in them, and they in God.

Thus 'tis God that has given us the Redeemer, and 'tis of him that our
good is purchased: so 'tis God that is the Redeemer and the price; and
'tis God also that is the good purchased. So that all that we have is _of_
God, and _through_ him, and _in_ him: Rom. xi. 36, "For of him, and
through him, and to him (or in him), are all things." The same in the
Greek that is here rendered _to him_ is rendered _in him_, 1 Cor. vii. 6.

II. God is glorified in the work of redemption by this means, viz., by
there being so great and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him.

1. Man hath so much the greater occasion and obligation to take notice and
acknowledge God's perfections and all-sufficiency. The greater the
creature's dependence is on God's perfections, and the greater concern he
has with them, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice of them.
So much the greater concern any one has with, and dependence upon, the
power and grace of God, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice
of that power and grace. So much the greater and more immediate dependence
there is on the divine holiness, so much the greater occasion to take
notice of and acknowledge that. So much the greater and more absolute
dependence we have on the divine perfections, as belonging to the several
persons of the Trinity, so much the greater occasion have we to observe
and own the divine glory of each of them. That which we are most concerned
with, is surely most in the way of our observation and notice; and this
kind of concern with any thing, viz., dependence, does especially tend to
commend and oblige the attention and observation. Those things that we are
not much dependent upon, 'tis easy to neglect; but we can scarce do any
other than mind that which we have a great dependence on. By reason of our
so great dependence on God and his perfections, and in so many respects,
he and his glory are the more directly set in our view, which way soever
we turn our eyes.

We have the greater occasion to take notice of God's all-sufficiency, when
all our sufficiency is thus every way of him. We have the more occasion to
contemplate him as an infinite good, and as the fountain of all good. Such
a dependence on God demonstrates God's all-sufficiency. So much as the
dependence of the creature is on God, so much the greater does the
creature's emptiness in himself appear to be; and so much the greater the
creature's emptiness, so much the greater must the fulness of the Being be
who supplies him. Our having all _of_ God shows the fulness of his power
and grace: our having all _through_ him shows the fulness of his merit and
worthiness; and our having all _in_ him demonstrates his fulness of
beauty, love and happiness.

And the redeemed, by reason of the greatness of their dependence on God,
han't only so much the greater occasion, but obligation to contemplate and
acknowledge the glory and fulness of God. How unreasonable and ungrateful
should we be if we did not acknowledge that sufficiency and glory that we
do absolutely, immediately and universally depend upon!

2. Hereby is demonstrated how great God's glory is considered
comparatively, or as compared with the creature's. By the creature's
being thus wholly and universally dependent on God, it appears that the
creature is nothing and that God is all. Hereby it appears that God is
infinitely above us; that God's strength, and wisdom and holiness are
infinitely greater than ours. However great and glorious the creature
apprehends God to be, yet if he be not sensible of the difference between
God and him, so as to see that God's glory is great, compared with his
own, he will not be disposed to give God the glory due to his name. If the
creature, in any respect, sets himself upon a level with God, or exalts
himself to any competition with him, however he may apprehend that great
honor and profound respect may belong to God from those that are more
inferior, and at a greater distance, he will not be so sensible of its
being due from him. So much the more men exalt themselves, so much the
less will they surely be disposed to exalt God. 'Tis certainly a thing
that God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of redemption
(if we allow the Scriptures to be a revelation of God's mind), that God
should appear full, and man in himself empty, that God should appear all,
and man nothing. 'Tis God's declared design that others should not "glory
in his presence"; which implies that 'tis his design to advance his own
comparative glory. So much the more man "glories in God's presence," so
much the less glory is ascribed to God.

3. By its being thus ordered, that the creature should have so absolute
and universal a dependence on God, provision is made that God should have
our whole souls, and should be the object of our undivided respect. If we
had our dependence partly on God and partly on something else, man's
respect would be divided to those different things on which he had
dependence. Thus it would be if we depended on God only for a part of our
good, and on ourselves or some other being for another part: or if we had
our good only from God, and through another that was not God, and in
something else distinct from both, our hearts would be divided between
the good itself, and him from whom, and him through whom we received it.
But now there is no occasion for this, God being not only he from or of
whom we have all good, but also through whom, and one that is that good
itself, that we have from him and through him. So that whatsoever there is
to attract our respect, the tendency is still directly towards God, all
unites in him as the centre.


USE

1. We may here observe the marvellous wisdom of God in the work of
redemption. God hath made man's emptiness and misery, his low, lost and
ruined state into which he sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater
advancement of his own glory, as in other ways, so particularly in this,
that there is now a much more universal and apparent dependence of man on
God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and
woe into which he was fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency
and honor, and to a high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature
hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs
to God, all is in a mere and most absolute and divine dependence on the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

And each person of the Trinity is equally glorified in this work: there is
an absolute dependence of the creature on every one for all: all is _of_
the Father, all _through_ the Son, and all _in_ the Holy Ghost. Thus God
appears in the work of redemption as _all in all_. It is fit that he that
is, and there is none else, should be the Alpha and Omega, the first and
the last, the all, and the only, in this work.

2. Hence those doctrines and schemes of divinity that are in any respect
opposite to such an absolute and universal dependence on God, do derogate
from God's glory, and thwart the design of the contrivance for our
redemption. Those schemes that put the creature in God's stead, in any of
the mentioned respects, that exalt man into the place of either Father,
Son or Holy Ghost, in any thing pertaining to our redemption; that,
however they may allow of a dependence of the redeemed on God, yet deny a
dependence that is so absolute and universal; that own an entire
dependence on God for some things, but not for others; that own that we
depend on God for the gift and acceptance of a Redeemer, but deny so
absolute a dependence on him for the obtaining of an interest in the
Redeemer; that own an absolute dependence on the Father for giving his
Son, and on the Son for working out redemption, but not so entire a
dependence on the Holy Ghost for conversion and a being in Christ, and so
coming to a title to his benefits; that own a dependence on God for means
of grace, but not absolutely for the benefit and success of those means;
that own a partial dependence on the power of God for the obtaining and
exercising holiness, but not a mere dependence on the arbitrary and
sovereign grace of God; that own a dependence on the free grace of God for
a reception into his favor, so far that it is without any proper merit,
but not as it is without being attracted, or moved with any excellency;
that own a partial dependence on Christ, as he through whom we have life,
as having purchased new terms of life, but still hold that the
righteousness through which we have life is inherent in ourselves, as it
was under the first covenant; and whatever other way any scheme is
inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and in each of
those ways, of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant
to the design and tenor of the gospel and robs it of that which God
accounts its lustre and glory.

3. Hence we may learn a reason why faith is that by which we come to have
an interest in this redemption; for there is included in the nature of
faith a sensibleness and acknowledgment of this absolute dependence on God
in this affair. 'Tis very fit that it should be required of all, in order
to their having the benefit of this redemption, that they should be
sensible of, and acknowledge the dependence on God for it. 'Tis by this
means that God hath contrived to glorify himself in redemption; and 'tis
fit that God should at least have this glory of those that are the
subjects of this redemption, and have the benefit of it.

Faith is a sensibleness of what is real in the work of redemption; and as
we do really wholly depend on God, so the soul that believes doth entirely
depend on God for all salvation, in its own sense and act. Faith abases
men and exalts God, it gives all the glory of redemption to God alone. It
is necessary in order to saving faith, that man should be emptied of
himself, that he should be sensible that he is "wretched, and miserable,
and poor, and blind, and naked." Humility is a great ingredient of true
faith: he that truly receives redemption, receives it as a little child:
Mark x. 15, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little
child, he shall not enter therein." It is the delight of a believing soul
to abase itself and exalt God alone: that is the language of it, Psalm
cxv. 1, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory."

4. Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory
of redemption. Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in a sensibleness
of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a
self-dependent and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding
prone to be exalting himself and depending on his own power or goodness,
as though he were he from whom he must expect happiness, and to have
respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which
happiness is to be found.

And this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone, as by trust and
reliance, so by praise. _Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord._ Hath
any man hope that he is converted and sanctified, and that his mind is
endowed with true excellency and spiritual beauty, and his sins forgiven,
and he received into God's favor, and exalted to the honor and blessedness
of being his child, and an heir of eternal life: let him give God all the
glory; who alone makes him to differ from the worst of men in this world,
or the miserablest of the damned in hell. Hath any man much comfort and
strong hope of eternal life, let not his hope lift him up, but dispose him
the more to abase himself and reflect on his own exceeding unworthiness of
such a favor, and to exalt God alone. Is any man eminent in holiness and
abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to
himself, but ascribe it to him whose "workmanship we are, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works."



[Illustration: FACSIMILE OF MANUSCRIPT OF FIRST PAGE OF SERMON "A DIVINE
AND SUPERNATURAL LIGHT."]


II

A DIVINE AND SUPERNATURAL LIGHT, IMMEDIATELY IMPARTED TO THE SOUL BY THE
SPIRIT OF GOD, SHOWN TO BE BOTH A SCRIPTURAL AND RATIONAL DOCTRINE.°


MATT. xvi.--And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father
which is in heaven.


Christ says these words to Peter upon occasion of his professing his faith
in him as the Son of God. Our Lord was inquiring of his disciples, who men
said he was; not that he needed to be informed, but only to introduce and
give occasion to what follows. They answer, that some said he was John the
Baptist, and some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. When
they had thus given an account who others said he was, Christ asks them,
who they said he was. Simon Peter, whom we find always zealous and
forward, was the first to answer: he readily replied to the question,
_Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God_.

Upon this occasion, Christ says as he does _to_ him, and _of_ him in the
text: in which we may observe,

1. That Peter is pronounced blessed on this account. _Blessed art
Thou._--"Thou art a happy man, that thou art not ignorant of this, that I
am Christ, the Son of the living God. Thou art distinguishingly happy.
Others are blinded, and have dark and deluded apprehensions, as you have
now given an account, some thinking that I am Elias, and some that I am
Jeremias, and some one thing, and some another; but none of them thinking
right, all of them misled. Happy art thou, that art so distinguished as
to know the truth in this matter."

2. The evidence of this his happiness declared; viz., that God, and he
only, had _revealed it_ to him. This is an evidence of his being
_blessed_.

First, As it shows how peculiarly favored he was of God above others; q.
d., "How highly favored art thou, that others that are wise and great men,
the Scribes, Pharisees and Rulers, and the nation in general, are left in
darkness, to follow their own misguided apprehensions; and that thou
shouldst be singled out, as it were, by name, that my Heavenly Father
should thus set his love on thee, Simon Barjona. This argues thee blessed,
that thou shouldst thus be the object of God's distinguishing love."

Secondly, It evidences his blessedness also, as it intimates that this
knowledge is above any that flesh and blood can reveal. "This is such
knowledge as my Father which is in heaven only can give: it is too high
and excellent to be communicated by such means as other knowledge is. Thou
art blessed, that thou knowest that which God alone can teach thee."

The original of this knowledge is here declared, both negatively and
positively. Positively, as God is here declared the author of it.
Negatively, as it is declared, that flesh and blood had not revealed it.
God is the author of all knowledge and understanding whatsoever. He is the
author of the knowledge that is obtained by human learning: he is the
author of all moral prudence, and of the knowledge and skill that men have
in their secular business. Thus it is said of all in Israel that were
wise-hearted and skilful in embroidering, that God had filled them with
the spirit of wisdom, Exod. xxviii. 3.

God is the author of such knowledge; but yet not so but that flesh and
blood reveals it. Mortal men are capable of imparting the knowledge of
human arts and sciences, and skill in temporal affairs. God is the author
of such knowledge by those means: flesh and blood is made use of by God
as the mediate or second cause of it; he conveys it by the power and
influence of natural means. But this spiritual knowledge, spoken of in the
text, is what God is the author of, and none else: he reveals it, and
flesh and blood reveals it not. He imparts this knowledge immediately, not
making use of any intermediate natural causes, as he does in other
knowledge.

What had passed in the preceding discourse naturally occasioned Christ to
observe this; because the disciples had been telling how others did not
know him, but were generally mistaken about him, and divided and
confounded in their opinions of him: but Peter had declared his assured
faith, that he was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, how it
was not flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, but God: for if this
knowledge were dependent on natural causes or means, how came it to pass
that they, a company of poor fishermen, illiterate men, and persons of low
education, attained to the knowledge of the truth; while the Scribes and
Pharisees, men of vastly higher advantages, and greater knowledge and
sagacity in other matters, remained in ignorance? This could be owing only
to the gracious distinguishing influence and revelation of the Spirit of
God. Hence, what I would make the subject of my present discourse from
these words is this


DOCTRINE

viz., _That there is such a thing as a Spiritual and Divine Light,
immediately imparted to the soul by God, of a different nature from any
that is obtained by natural means._

In what I say on this subject at this time I would

I. Show what this divine light is.

II. How it is given immediately by God, and not obtained by natural means.


III. Show the truth of the doctrine.

And then conclude with a brief improvement.

I. I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. And in order to
it, would show,

First, In a few things what it _is not_. And here,

1. _Those convictions that natural men may have of their sin and misery_,
is not _this_ spiritual and divine light. Men in a natural condition may
have convictions of the guilt that lies upon them, and of the anger of God
and their danger of divine vengeance. Such convictions are from light or
sensibleness of truth. That some sinners have a greater conviction of
their guilt and misery than others, is because some have more light, or
more of an apprehension of truth than others. And this light and
conviction may be from the Spirit of God; the Spirit convinces men of sin:
but yet nature is much more concerned in it than in the communication of
that spiritual and divine light that is spoken of in the doctrine; 'tis
from the Spirit of God only as assisting natural principles, and not as
infusing any new principles. Common grace differs from special, in that it
influences only by assisting of nature; and not by imparting grace, or
bestowing anything above nature. The light that is obtained is wholly
natural, or of no superior kind to what mere nature attains to, though
more of that kind be obtained than would be obtained if men were left
wholly to themselves: or, in other words, common grace only assists the
faculties of the soul to do that more fully which they do by nature, as
natural conscience or reason will, by mere nature, make a man sensible of
guilt, and will accuse and condemn him when he has done amiss. Conscience
is a principle natural to men; and the work that it doth naturally, or of
itself, is to give an apprehension of right and wrong, and to suggest to
the mind the relation that there is between right and wrong and a
retribution. The Spirit of God, in those convictions which unregenerate
men sometimes have, assists conscience to do this work in a further
degree than it would do if they were left to themselves: he helps it
against those things that tend to stupefy it, and obstruct its exercise.
But in the renewing and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, those things
are wrought in the soul that are above nature, and of which there is
nothing of the like kind in the soul by nature; and they are caused to
exist in the soul habitually, and according to such a stated constitution
or law that lays such a foundation for exercises in a continued course, as
is called a principle of nature. Not only are remaining principles
assisted to do their work more freely and fully, but those principles are
restored that were utterly destroyed by the fall; and the mind
thenceforward habitually exerts those acts that the dominion of sin had
made it as wholly destitute of, as a dead body is of vital acts.

The Spirit of God acts in a very different manner in the one case from
what he doth in the other. He may indeed act upon the mind of a natural
man, but he acts in the mind of a saint as an indwelling vital principle.
He acts upon the mind of an unregenerate person as an extrinsic,
occasional agent; for in acting upon them, he doth not unite himself to
them; notwithstanding all his influences that they may be the subjects of,
they are still sensual, having not the Spirit, Jude 19. But he unites
himself with the mind of a saint, takes him for his temple, actuates and
influences him as a new, supernatural principle of life and action. There
is this difference, that the Spirit of God, in acting in the soul of a
godly man, exerts and communicates himself there in his own proper nature.
Holiness is the proper nature of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit
operates in the minds of the godly by uniting himself to them, and living
in them, and exerting his own nature in the exercise of their faculties.
The Spirit of God may act upon a creature, and yet not in acting
communicate himself. The Spirit of God may act upon inanimate creatures;
as the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters in the beginning of the
creation; so the Spirit of God may act upon the minds of men many ways,
and communicate himself no more than when he acts upon an inanimate
creature. For instance, he may excite thoughts in them, may assist their
natural reason and understanding, or may assist other natural principles,
and this without any union with the soul, but may act, as it were, as upon
an external object. But as he acts in his holy influences and spiritual
operations, he acts in a way of peculiar communication of himself; so that
the subject is thence denominated spiritual.

2. _This_ spiritual and divine light _don't consist in any impression made
upon the imagination_. It is no impression upon the mind, as though one
saw any thing with the bodily eyes: 'tis no imagination or idea of an
outward light or glory, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible
lustre or brightness of any object. The imagination may be strongly
impressed with such things; but this is not spiritual light. Indeed when
the mind has a lively discovery of spiritual things, and is greatly
affected by the power of divine light, it may, and probably very commonly
doth, much affect the imagination; so that impressions of an outward
beauty or brightness may accompany those spiritual discoveries. But
spiritual light is not that impression upon the imagination, but an
exceeding different thing from it. Natural men may have lively impressions
on their imaginations; and we can't determine but that the devil, who
transforms himself into an angel of light, may cause imaginations of an
outward beauty, or visible glory, and of sounds and speeches and other
such things; but these are things of a vastly inferior nature to spiritual
light.

3. _This_ spiritual light is _not the suggesting of any new truths or
propositions not contained in the word of God_. This suggesting of new
truths or doctrines to the mind, independent of any antecedent revelation
of those propositions, either in word or writing, is inspiration; such as
the prophets and apostles had, and such as some enthusiasts pretend to.
But this spiritual light that I am speaking of, is quite a different thing
from inspiration: it reveals no new doctrine, it suggests no new
proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing of God, or Christ, or
another world, not taught in the Bible, but only gives a due apprehension
of those things that are taught in the word of God.

4. _'Tis not every affecting view that men have of the things of religion
that is this_ spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of nature
are capable of being affected with things that have a special relation to
religion as well as other things. A person by mere nature, for instance,
may be liable to be affected with the story of Jesus Christ, and the
sufferings he underwent, as well as by any other tragical story: he may be
the more affected with it from the interest he conceives mankind to have
in it: yea, he may be affected with it without believing it; as well as a
man may be affected with what he reads in a romance, or sees acted in a
stage play. He may be affected with a lively and eloquent description of
many pleasant things that attend the state of the blessed in heaven, as
well as his imagination be entertained by a romantic description of the
pleasantness of fairy-land, or the like. And that common belief of the
truth of the things of religion that persons may have from education or
otherwise, may help forward their affection. We read in Scripture of many
that were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who yet are
there represented as wholly graceless, and many of them very ill men. A
person therefore may have affecting views of the things of religion, and
yet be very destitute of spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the
author of this: one man may give another an affecting view of divine
things with but common assistance; but God alone can give a spiritual
discovery of them.

But I proceed to show,

Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine light _is_.

And it may be thus described: _a true sense of the divine excellency of
the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and
reality of them thence arising_.

This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these, viz., a
real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things revealed in
the word of God. A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and
reality of these things arises from such a sight of their divine
excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect
and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory. There is
therefore in this spiritual light,

1. _A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of
religion_; a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of
the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the
gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these things; an
excellency that is of a vastly higher kind and more sublime nature than in
other things; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly
and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees
it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God
is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart.
There is not only a rational belief that God is holy and that holiness is
a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God's holiness.
There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a
sense how amiable God is upon that account, or a sense of the beauty of
this divine attribute.

There is a twofold understanding or knowledge of good that God has made
the mind of man capable of. The first, that which is merely speculative or
notional; as when a person only speculatively judges that anything is,
which, by the agreement of mankind, is called good or excellent, viz.,
that which is most to general advantage, and between which and a reward
there is a suitableness, and the like. And the other is that which
consists in the sense of the heart: as when there is a sense of the
beauty, amiableness, or sweetness of a thing; so that the heart is
sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it. In the
former is exercised merely the speculative faculty, or the understanding,
strictly so called, or as spoken of in distinction from the will or
disposition of the soul. In the latter, the will, or inclination, or
heart, are mainly concerned.

Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and
gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness
and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that
honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the
former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can't have the latter
unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a
difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a
sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter
only by seeing the countenance. There is a wide difference between mere
speculative rational judging anything to be excellent, and having a sense
of its sweetness and beauty. The former rests only in the head,
speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the
latter. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a
thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in
a person's being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the
idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different
thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.

2. There arises from this sense of divine excellency of things contained
in the word of God _a conviction of the truth and reality of them_; and
that either indirectly or directly.

First, _Indirectly_, and that two ways.

1. As the _prejudices that are in the heart_ against the truth of divine
things _are hereby removed_; so that the mind becomes susceptive of the
due force of rational arguments for their truth. The mind of man is
naturally full of prejudices against the truth of divine things: it is
full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel; which is a
disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to
lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has discovered to him
the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this destroys the enmity,
removes those prejudices, and sanctifies the reason, and causes it to lie
open to the force of arguments for their truth.

Hence was the different effect that Christ's miracles had to convince the
disciples from what they had to convince the Scribes and Pharisees. Not
that they had a stronger reason, or had their reason more improved; but
their reason was sanctified, and those blinding prejudices, that the
Scribes and Pharisees were under, were removed by the sense they had of
the excellency of Christ and his doctrine.

2. It not only removes the hinderances of reason, but _positively helps
reason_. It makes even the speculative notions the more lively. It engages
the attention of the mind, with the more fixedness and intenseness to that
kind of objects; which causes it to have a clearer view of them, and
enables it more clearly to see their mutual relations, and occasions it to
take more notice of them. The ideas themselves that otherwise are dim and
obscure are by this means impressed with the greater strength, and have a
light cast upon them; so that the mind can better judge of them: as he
that beholds the objects on the face of the earth, when the light of the
sun is cast upon them, is under greater advantage to discern them in their
true forms and mutual relations than he that sees them in a dim starlight
or twilight.

The mind having a sensibleness of the excellency of divine objects, dwells
upon them with delight; and the powers of the soul are more awakened and
enlivened to employ themselves in the contemplation of them, and exert
themselves more fully and much more to the purpose. The beauty and
sweetness of the objects draws on the faculties, and draws forth their
exercises: so that reason itself is under far greater advantages for its
proper and free exercises, and to attain its proper end, free of darkness
and delusion. But,

Secondly, A true sense of the divine excellency of the things of God's
word doth more _directly_ and _immediately_ convince of the truth of them;
and that because the excellency of these things is so superlative. There
is a beauty in them that is so divine and godlike, that is greatly and
evidently distinguishing of them from things merely human, or that men are
the inventors and authors of; a glory that is so high and great that, when
clearly seen, commands assent to their divinity and reality. When there is
an actual and lively discovery of this beauty and excellency, it won't
allow of any such thought as that it is a human work, or the fruit of
men's invention. This evidence that they that are spiritually enlightened
have of the truth of the things of religion is a kind of intuitive and
immediate evidence. They believe the doctrines of God's word to be divine,
because they see divinity in them; i.e., they see a divine, and
transcendent, and most evidently distinguishing glory in them; such a
glory as, if clearly seen, does not leave room to doubt of their being of
God, and not of men.

Such a conviction of the truth of religion as this, arising, these ways,
from a sense of the divine excellency of them, is that true spiritual
conviction that there is in saving faith. And this original of it is that
by which it is most essentially distinguished from that common assent
which unregenerate men are capable of.

II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, viz., to show _how this
light is immediately given by God_, and not obtained by natural means. And
here,

1. _'Tis not intended that the natural faculties are not made use of in
it._ The natural faculties are the subject of this light: and they are the
subject in such a manner that they are not merely passive, but active in
it; the acts and exercises of man's understanding are concerned and made
use of in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man
according to his nature, or as a rational creature; and makes use of his
human faculties. But yet this light is not the less immediately from God
for that; though the faculties are made use of, 'tis as the subject and
not as the cause; and that acting of the faculties in it is not the cause,
but is either implied in the thing itself (in the light that is imparted)
or is the consequence of it: as the use that we make of our eyes in
beholding various objects, when the sun arises, is not the cause of the
light that discovers those objects to us.

2. _'Tis not intended that outward means have no concern in this affair._
As I have observed already, 'tis not in this affair, as it is in
inspiration, where new truths are suggested: for here is by this light
only given a due apprehension of the same truths that are revealed in the
word of God; and therefore it is not given without the word. The gospel is
made use of in this affair: this light is the "light of the glorious
gospel of Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 4. The gospel is as a glass, by which this
light is conveyed to us, 1 Cor. xiii. 12: "Now we see through a
glass."--But,

3. When it is said that this light is given immediately by God, and not
obtained by natural means, _hereby is intended, that 'tis given by God
without making use of any means that operate by their own power, or a
natural force_. God makes use of means; but 'tis not as mediate causes to
produce this effect. There are not truly any second causes of it; but it
is produced by God immediately. The word of God is no proper cause of this
effect: it does not operate by any natural force in it. The word of God is
only made use of to convey to the mind the subject matter of this saving
instruction: and this indeed it doth convey to us by natural force or
influence. It conveys to our minds these and those doctrines; it is the
cause of the notion of them in our heads, but not of the sense of the
divine excellency of them in our hearts. Indeed a person can't have
spiritual light without the word. But that don't argue that the word
properly causes that light. The mind can't see the excellency of any
doctrine, unless that doctrine be first in the mind; but the seeing of the
excellency of the doctrine may be immediately from the Spirit of God;
though the conveying of the doctrine or proposition itself may be by the
word. So that the notions that are the subject matter of this light are
conveyed to the mind by the word of God; but that due sense of the heart,
wherein this light formally consists, is immediately by the Spirit of God.
As for instance, that notion that there is a Christ, and that Christ is
holy and gracious, is conveyed to the mind by the word of God: but the
sense of the excellency of Christ by reason of that holiness and grace, is
nevertheless immediately the work of the Holy Spirit.--I come now,

III. To show _the truth of the doctrine_; that is, to show that there is
such a thing as that spiritual light that has been described, thus
immediately let into the mind by God. And here I would show briefly, that
this doctrine is both _scriptural_ and _rational_.

First, 'Tis _scriptural_. My text is not only full to the purpose, but
'tis a doctrine that the Scripture abounds in. We are there abundantly
taught that the saints differ from the ungodly in this, that they have the
knowledge of God, and a sight of God, and of Jesus Christ. I shall mention
but few texts of many. 1 John iii. 6, "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen
him, nor known him." 3 John 11, "He that doeth good is of God: but he that
doeth evil hath not seen God." John xiv. 19, "The world seeth me no more;
but ye see me." John xvii. 3, "And this is eternal life, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." This
knowledge, or sight of God and Christ, can't be a mere speculative
knowledge; because it is spoken of as a seeing and knowing wherein they
differ from the ungodly. And by these Scriptures it must not only be a
different knowledge in degree and circumstances, and different in its
effects; but it must be entirely different in nature and kind.

And this light and knowledge is always spoken of as immediately given of
God, Matt. xi. 25, 26, 27: "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank
thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these
things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even
so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered
unto me of my father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither
knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son
will reveal him." Here this effect is ascribed alone to the arbitrary
operation and gift of God, bestowing this knowledge on whom he will, and
distinguishing those with it, that have the least natural advantage or
means for knowledge, even babes, when it is denied to the wise and
prudent. And the imparting of the knowledge of God is here appropriated to
the Son of God as his sole prerogative. And again, 2 Cor. iv. 6: "For God,
who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ." This plainly shows that there is such a thing as a
discovery of the divine superlative glory and excellency of God and
Christ, and that peculiar to the saints: and also, that 'tis as
immediately from God, as light from the sun: and that 'tis the immediate
effect of his power and will; for 'tis compared to God's creating the
light by his powerful word in the beginning of the creation; and is said
to be by the Spirit of the Lord, in the 18th verse of the preceding
chapter. God is spoken of as giving the knowledge of Christ in conversion,
as of what before was hidden and unseen in that, Gal. i. 15, 16: "But when
it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by
his grace, to reveal his Son in me." The Scripture also speaks plainly of
such a knowledge of the word of God as has been described, as the
immediate gift of God, Psal. cxix. 18: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may
behold wondrous things out of thy law." What could the Psalmist mean when
he begged of God to open his eyes? Was he ever blind? Might he not have
resort to the law and see every word and sentence in it when he pleased?
And what could he mean by those "wondrous things"? Was it the wonderful
stories of the creation and deluge, and Israel's passing through the Red
Sea, and the like? Were not his eyes open to read these strange things
when he would? Doubtless by "wondrous things" in God's law, he had respect
to those distinguishing and wonderful excellencies, and marvellous
manifestations of the divine perfections and glory, that there was in the
commands and doctrines of the word, and those works and counsels of God
that were there revealed. So the Scripture speaks of a knowledge of God's
dispensation, and covenant of mercy, and way of grace towards his people,
as peculiar to the saints, and given only by God, Psal. xxv. 14: "The
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his
covenant."

And that a true and saving belief of the truth of religion is that which
arises from such a discovery, is also what the Scripture teaches. As John
vi. 40: "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which
seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life;" where it
is plain that a true faith is what arises from a spiritual sight of
Christ. And John xvii. 6, 7, 8: "I have manifested thy name unto the men
which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have known that all things
whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the
words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known
surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst
send me;" where Christ's manifesting God's name to the disciples, or
giving them the knowledge of God, was that whereby they knew that Christ's
doctrine was of God, and that Christ himself was of him, proceeded from
him, and was sent by him. Again, John xii. 44, 45, 46: "Jesus cried and
said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent
me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into
the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
Their believing in Christ, and spiritually seeing him, are spoken of as
running parallel.

Christ condemns the Jews, that they did not know that he was the Messiah,
and that his doctrine was true, from an inward distinguishing taste and
relish of what was divine, in Luke xii. 56, 57. He having there blamed the
Jews, that though they could discern the face of the sky and of the earth,
and signs of the weather, that yet they could not discern those times--or,
as 'tis expressed in Matthew, the signs of those times--he adds, yea, and
why even of your own selves judge ye not what is right? i.e., without
extrinsic signs. Why have ye not that sense of true excellency, whereby ye
may distinguish that which is holy and divine? Why have ye not that savor
of the things of God, by which you may see the distinguishing glory and
evident divinity of me and my doctrine?

The Apostle Peter mentions it as what gave them (the apostles) good and
well grounded assurance of the truth of the gospel, that they had seen the
divine glory of Christ, 2 Pet. i. 16: "For we have not followed cunningly
devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." The apostle has
respect to that visible glory of Christ which they saw in his
transfiguration: that glory was so divine, having such an ineffable
appearance and semblance of divine holiness, majesty and grace, that it
evidently denoted him to be a divine person. But if a sight of Christ's
outward glory might give a rational assurance of his divinity, why may not
an apprehension of his spiritual glory do so too? Doubtless Christ's
spiritual glory is in itself as distinguishing, and as plainly showing his
divinity, as his outward glory; and a great deal more: for his spiritual
glory is that wherein his divinity consists; and the outward glory of his
transfiguration showed him to be divine, only as it was a remarkable image
or representation of that spiritual glory. Doubtless, therefore, he that
has had a clear sight of the spiritual glory of Christ, may say, I have
not followed cunningly devised fables, but have been an eyewitness of his
majesty, upon as good grounds as the apostle, when he had respect to the
outward glory of Christ that he had seen.

But this brings me to what was proposed next, viz., to show that,

Secondly, This doctrine is _rational_.

1. 'Tis rational to suppose that _there is really such an excellency_ in
divine things, that is so transcendent and exceedingly different from what
is in other things, that, if it were seen, would most evidently
distinguish them. We cannot rationally doubt but that things that are
divine, that appertain to the Supreme Being, are vastly different from
things that are human; that there is that godlike, high and glorious
excellency in them, that does most remarkably difference them from the
things that are of men; insomuch that if the difference were but seen, it
would have a convincing, satisfying influence upon any one, that they are
what they are, viz., divine. What reason can be offered against it? Unless
we would argue, that God is not remarkably distinguished in glory from
men.

If Christ should now appear to any one as he did on the mount at his
transfiguration; or if he should appear to the world in the glory that he
now appears in in heaven as he will do at the day of judgment; without
doubt, the glory and majesty that he would appear in, would be such as
would satisfy every one that he was a divine person, and that religion was
true: and it would be a most reasonable and well grounded conviction too.
And why may there not be that stamp of divinity or divine glory on the
word of God, on the scheme and doctrine of the gospel, that may be in
like manner distinguishing and as rationally convincing, provided it be
but seen! 'Tis rational to suppose that when God speaks to the world,
there should be something in his word or speech vastly different from
men's word. Supposing that God never had spoken to the world, but we had
noticed that he was about to do it; that he was about to reveal himself
from heaven and speak to us immediately himself, in divine speeches or
discourses, as it were from his own mouth, or that he should give us a
book of his own inditing: after what manner should we expect that he would
speak? Would it not be rational to suppose that his speech would be
exceeding different from men's speech, that he should speak like a God;
that is, that there should be such an excellency and sublimity in his
speech or word, such a stamp of wisdom, holiness, majesty and other divine
perfections, that the word of men, yea of the wisest of men, should appear
mean and base in comparison of it? Doubtless it would be thought rational
to expect this, and unreasonable to think otherwise. When a wise man
speaks in the exercise of his wisdom, there is something in every thing he
says that is very distinguishable from the talk of a little child. So,
without doubt, and much more, is the speech of God (if there be any such
thing as the speech of God) to be distinguished from that of the wisest of
men; agreeable to Jer. xxiii. 28, 29. God having there been reproving the
false prophets that prophesied in his name and pretended that what they
spake was his word, when indeed it was their own word, says, "The prophet
that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him
speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.
Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that
breaketh the rock in pieces?"

2. If there be such a distinguishing excellency in divine things, 'tis
rational to suppose that _there may be such a thing as seeing it_. What
should hinder but that it may be seen! It is no argument, that there is
no such thing as such a distinguishing excellency, or that, if there be,
that it can't be seen, that some don't see it, though they may be
discerning men in temporal matters. It is not rational to suppose, if
there be any such excellency in divine things, that wicked men should see
it. 'Tis not rational to suppose that those whose minds are full of
spiritual pollution, and under the power of filthy lusts, should have any
relish or sense of divine beauty or excellency; or that their minds should
be susceptive of that light that is in its own nature so pure and
heavenly. It need not seem at all strange that sin should so blind the
mind, seeing that men's particular natural tempers and dispositions will
so much blind them in secular matters; as when men's natural temper is
melancholy, jealous, fearful, proud, or the like.

3. 'Tis rational to suppose that _this knowledge should be given
immediately by God_, and not be obtained by natural means. Upon what
account should it seem unreasonable, that there should be any immediate
communication between God and the creature? It is strange that men should
make any matter of difficulty of it. Why should not he that made all
things, still have something immediately to do with the things that he has
made? Where lies the great difficulty, if we own the being of a God, and
that he created all things out of nothing, of allowing some immediate
influence of God on the creation still? And if it be reasonable to suppose
it with respect to any part of the creation, it is especially so with
respect to reasonable, intelligent creatures; who are next to God in the
gradation of the different orders of beings, and whose business is most
immediately with God; who were made on purpose for those exercises that do
respect God and wherein they have nextly to do with God: for reason
teaches, that man was made to serve and glorify his Creator. And if it be
rational to suppose that God immediately communicates himself to man in
any affair, it is in this. 'Tis rational to suppose that God would
reserve that knowledge and wisdom, that is of such a divine and excellent
nature, to be bestowed immediately by himself, and that it should not be
left in the power of second causes. Spiritual wisdom and grace is the
highest and most excellent gift that ever God bestows on any creature: in
this the highest excellency and perfection of a rational creature
consists. 'Tis also immensely the most important of all divine gifts: 'tis
that wherein man's happiness consists, and on which his everlasting
welfare depends. How rational is it to suppose that God, however he has
left meaner goods and lower gifts to second causes, and in some sort in
their power, yet should reserve this most excellent, divine and important
of all divine communications in his own hands, to be bestowed immediately
by himself, as a thing too great for second causes to be concerned in!
'Tis rational to suppose that this blessing should be immediately from
God; for there is no gift or benefit that is in itself so nearly related
to the divine nature, there is nothing the creature receives that is so
much of God, of his nature, so much a participation of the deity: 'tis a
kind of emanation of God's beauty, and is related to God as the light is
to the sun. 'Tis therefore congruous and fit, that when it is given of
God, it should be nextly from himself, and by himself, according to his
own sovereign will.

'Tis rational to suppose that it should be beyond a man's power to obtain
this knowledge and light by the mere strength of natural reason; for 'tis
not a thing that belongs to reason, to see the beauty and loveliness of
spiritual things; it is not a speculative thing, but depends on the sense
of the heart. Reason, indeed, is necessary in order to it, as 'tis by
reason only that we are become the subjects of the means of it; which
means I have already shown to be necessary in order to it, though they
have no proper causal influence in the affair. 'Tis by reason that we
become possessed of a notion of those doctrines that are the subject
matter of this divine light; and reason may many ways be indirectly and
remotely an advantage to it. And reason has also to do in the acts that
are immediately consequent on this discovery: a seeing the truth of
religion from hence is by reason; though it be but by one step, and the
inference be immediate. So reason has to do in that accepting of, and
trusting in Christ, that is consequent on it. But if we take reason
strictly, not for the faculty of mental perception in general, but for
ratiocination, or a power of inferring by arguments; I say, if we take
reason thus, the perceiving of spiritual beauty and excellency no more
belongs to reason than it belongs to the sense of feeling to perceive
colors, or to the power of seeing to perceive the sweetness of food. It is
out of reason's province to perceive the beauty or loveliness of any
thing: such a perception don't belong to that faculty. Reason's work is to
perceive truth and not excellency. It is not ratiocination that gives men
the perception of the beauty and amiableness of a countenance, though it
may be many ways indirectly an advantage to it; yet 'tis no more reason
that immediately perceives it than it is reason that perceives the
sweetness of honey: it depends on the sense of the heart. Reason may
determine that a countenance is beautiful to others, it may determine that
honey is sweet to others; but it will never give me a perception of its
sweetness.--I will conclude with a very brief


IMPROVEMENT

of what has been said.

First, This doctrine may lead us to reflect on the goodness of God, that
has so ordered it, that a saving evidence of the truth of the gospel is
such as is attainable by persons of mean capacities and advantages, as
well as those that are of the greatest parts and learning. If the evidence
of the gospel depended only on history, and such reasonings as learned men
only are capable of, it would be above the reach of far the greatest part
of mankind. But persons with but an ordinary degree of knowledge are
capable, without a long and subtile train of reasoning, to see the divine
excellency of the things of religion: they are capable of being taught by
the Spirit of God, as well as learned men. The evidence that is this way
obtained is vastly better and more satisfying than all that can be
obtained by the arguings of those that are most learned, and greatest
masters of reason. And babes are as capable of knowing these things as the
wise and prudent; and they are often hid from these when they are revealed
to those: 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that
not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are
called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world...."

Secondly, This doctrine may well put us upon examining ourselves, whether
we have ever had this divine light that has been described let into our
souls. If there be such a thing indeed, and it be not only a notion or
whimsy of persons of weak and distempered brains, then doubtless 'tis a
thing of great importance, whether we have thus been taught by the Spirit
of God; whether the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the
image of God, hath shined unto us, giving us the light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; whether we have seen the
Son, and believed on him, or have that faith of gospel doctrines that
arises from a spiritual sight of Christ.

Thirdly, All may hence be exhorted earnestly to seek this spiritual light.
To influence and move to it, the following things may be considered.

1. This is the most _excellent and divine_ wisdom that any creature is
capable of. 'Tis more excellent than any human learning; 'tis far more
excellent than all the knowledge of the greatest philosophers or
statesmen. Yea, the least glimpse of the glory of God in the face of
Christ doth more exalt and ennoble the soul than all the knowledge of
those that have the greatest speculative understanding in divinity
without grace. This knowledge has the most noble object that is or can be,
viz., the divine glory or excellency of God and Christ. The knowledge of
these objects is that wherein consists the most excellent knowledge of the
angels, yea, of God himself.

2. This knowledge is that which is above all others _sweet and joyful_.
Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of
natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from this
divine light shining into the soul. This light gives a view of those
things that are immensely the most exquisitely beautiful, and capable of
delighting the eye of the understanding. This spiritual light is the
dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing so powerful
as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the mind peace and
brightness in this stormy and dark world.

3. This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and
_changes the nature of the soul_. It assimilates the nature to the divine
nature, and changes the soul into an image of the same glory that is
beheld: 2 Cor. iii. 18, "But we all, with open face, beholding as in a
glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." This knowledge will wean from
the world and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the
heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only
portion. This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close
with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and
opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed. It causes the
heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and
acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Saviour. It causes the whole
soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and
respect, cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it
effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.

4. This light, and this only, _has its fruit in an universal holiness of
life_. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of
religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom
of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to an
universal obedience. It shows God's worthiness to be obeyed and served. It
draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only
principle of a true, gracious and universal obedience. And it convinces of
the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that
obey him.



III

RUTH'S RESOLUTION°

RUTH i. 16.--And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return
from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where
thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
God.


The historical things in this book of Ruth seem to be inserted into the
canon of the Scripture especially on two accounts:

First, Because Christ was of Ruth's posterity. The Holy Ghost thought fit
to take particular notice of that marriage of Boaz with Ruth, whence
sprang the Saviour of the world. We may often observe it, that the Holy
Spirit who indited the Scriptures, often takes notice of little things,
minute occurrences, that do but remotely relate to Jesus Christ.

Secondly, Because this history seems to be typical of the calling of the
Gentile church, and indeed of the conversion of every believer. Ruth was
not originally of Israel, but was a Moabitess, an alien from the
commonwealth of Israel: but she forsook her own people, and the idols of
the Gentiles, to worship the God of Israel, and to join herself to that
people. Herein she seems to be a type of the Gentile church, and also of
every sincere convert. Ruth was the mother of Christ; he came of her
posterity: so the church is Christ's mother, as she is represented, Rev.
xii., at the beginning. And so also is every true Christian his mother:
Matt. xii. 50, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in
heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Christ is what
the soul of every one of the elect is in travail with in the new birth.
Ruth forsook all her natural relations and her own country, the land of
her nativity, and all her former possessions there, for the sake of the
God of Israel; as every true Christian forsakes all for Christ. Psalm xlv.
10, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also
thine own people, and thy father's house."

Naomi was now returning out of the land of Moab into the land of Israel
with her two daughters in law, Orpah and Ruth; who will represent to us
two sorts of professors of religion: Orpah, that sort that indeed make a
fair profession, and seem to set out well, but dure but for a while, and
then turn back; Ruth, that sort that are sound and sincere, and therefore
are steadfast and persevering in the way that they have set out in. Naomi
in the preceding verses represents to these her daughters the difficulties
of their leaving their own country to go with her. And in this verse may
be observed,

1. The remarkable conduct and behavior of Ruth on this occasion; with what
inflexible resolution she cleaves to Naomi and follows her. When Naomi
first arose to return from the country of Moab into the land of Israel,
Orpah and Ruth both set out with her; and Naomi exhorts them both to
return. And they both of them wept, and seemed as if they could not bear
the thoughts of leaving her, and appeared as if they were resolved to go
with her: verse 10, "And they said unto her, Surely we will return with
thee unto thy people." Then Naomi says to them again, "Turn again, my
daughters, go your way," &c. And then they were greatly affected again,
and Orpah returned and went back. Now Ruth's steadfastness in her purpose
had a greater trial, but yet is not overcome: "She clave unto her," verse
14. Then Naomi speaks to her again, verse 15, "Behold, thy sister in law
is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy
sister in law." And then she shows her immovable resolution in the text
and following verse.

2. I would particularly observe that wherein the virtuousness of this her
resolution consists, viz., that it was for the sake of the God of Israel,
and that she might be one of his people, that she was thus resolved to
cleave to Naomi: "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God." It
was for God's sake that she did thus; and therefore her so doing is
afterwards spoken of as a virtuous behavior in her, chap. ii. 11, 12: "And
Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that
thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband:
and how thou hast left thy father, and thy mother, and the land of thy
nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord
God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust." She left her
father and mother, and the land of her nativity, to come and trust under
the shadow of God's wings: and she had indeed a full reward given her, as
Boaz wished; for besides immediate spiritual blessings to her own soul and
eternal rewards in another world, she was rewarded with plentiful and
prosperous outward circumstances in the family of Boaz. And God raised up
David and Solomon of her seed, and established the crown of Israel (the
people that she chose before her own people) in her posterity; and--which
is much more--of her seed he raised up Jesus Christ, in whom all the
families of the earth are blessed.

From the words thus opened, I observe this for the subject of my present
discourse:

     _When those that we have formerly been conversant with, are turning
     to God, and joining themselves to his people, it ought to be our
     firm resolution, that we will not leave them; but that their people
     shall be our people, and their God our God._

It sometimes happens, that of those who have been conversant one with
another, that have dwelt together as neighbors, and have been often
together as companions, or have been united in near relation, and have
been together in darkness, bondage and misery in the service of Satan,
some are enlightened, and have their minds changed, are made to see the
great evil of sin, and have their hearts turned to God, and are influenced
by the Holy Spirit of God to leave their company that are on Satan's side
to go and join themselves with that blessed company that are with Jesus
Christ; they are made willing to forsake the tents of wickedness, to dwell
in the land of uprightness with the people of God.

And sometimes this proves a final parting or separation between them and
those that they have been formerly conversant with. Though it may be no
parting in outward respects, they may still dwell together and may
converse one with another; yet in other respects, it sets them at a great
distance one from another: one is a child of God, and the other the enemy
of God; one is in a miserable, and the other in a happy condition; one is
a citizen of the heavenly Zion, the other is under condemnation to hell.
They are no longer together in those respects wherein they used to be
together. They used to be of one mind to serve sin and do Satan's work;
now they are of contrary minds. They used to be together in worldliness
and sinful vanity; now they are of exceeding different dispositions. They
are separated as they are in different kingdoms; the one remains in the
kingdom of darkness, the other is translated into the kingdom of God's
dear Son. And sometimes they are finally separated in these respects;
while one dwells in the land of Israel, and in the house of God, the
other, like Orpah, lives and dies in the land of Moab.

Now 'tis lamentable when it is thus. 'Tis awful being parted so. 'Tis
doleful, when of those that have formerly been together in sin, some turn
to God, and join themselves with his people, that it should prove a
parting between them and their former companions and acquaintance. It
should be our firm and inflexible resolution in such a case that it shall
be no parting, but that we will follow them, that their people shall be
our people, and their God our God; and that for the following reasons:

I. Because their _God_ is a glorious God. There is none like him, who is
infinite in glory and excellency. He is the most high God, glorious in
holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. His name is excellent in all
the earth, and his glory is above the earth and the heavens. Among the
gods there is none like unto him; there is none in heaven to be compared
to him, nor are there any among the sons of the mighty that can be likened
unto him. Their God is the fountain of all good, and an inexhaustible
fountain; he is an all-sufficient God, able to protect and defend them,
and do all things for them. He is the King of glory, the Lord strong and
mighty, the Lord mighty in battle: a strong rock, and a high tower. There
is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rideth on the heaven in their help,
and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is their refuge, and
underneath are everlasting arms. He is a God that hath all things in his
hands, and does whatsoever he pleases: he killeth and maketh alive; he
bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up; he maketh poor and maketh
rich: the pillars of the earth are the Lord's. Their God is an infinitely
holy God; there is none holy as the Lord. And he is infinitely good and
merciful. Many that others worship and serve as gods are cruel beings,
spirits that seek the ruin of souls; but this is a God that delighteth in
mercy; his grace is infinite and endures forever. He is love itself, an
infinite fountain and ocean of it.

Such a God is their God! Such is the excellency of Jacob! Such is the God
of them who have forsaken their sins and are converted! They have made a
wise choice who have chosen this for their God. They have made a happy
exchange indeed, that have exchanged sin and the world for such a God!

They have an excellent and glorious Saviour, who is the only-begotten Son
of God; the brightness of his Father's glory; one in whom God from
eternity had infinite delight; a Saviour of infinite love; one that has
shed his own blood and made his soul an offering for their sins, and one
that is able to save them to the uttermost.

II. Their _people_ are an excellent and happy people. God has renewed
them, and instamped his own image upon them, and made them partakers of
his holiness. They are more excellent than their neighbors, Prov. xii. 26.
Yea, they are the excellent of the earth, Psalm xvi. 3. They are lovely in
the sight of the angels; and they have their souls adorned with those
graces that in the sight of God himself are of great price.

The people of God are the most excellent and happy society in the world.
That God whom they have chosen for their God is their Father; he has
pardoned all their sins, and they are st peace with him; and he has
admitted them to all the privileges of his children. As they have devoted
themselves to God, so God has given himself to them. He is become their
salvation and their portion: his power and mercy and all his attributes
are theirs. They are in a safe state, free from all possibility of
perishing: Satan has no power to destroy them. God carries them on eagle's
wings, far above Satan's reach, and above the reach of all the enemies of
their souls. God is with them in this world; they have his gracious
presence. God is for them; who then can be against them? As the mountains
are round about Jerusalem, so Jehovah is round about them. God is their
shield and their exceeding great reward; and their fellowship is with the
Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And they have the divine promise
and oath that in the world to come they shall dwell forever in the
glorious presence of God.

It may well be sufficient to induce us to resolve to cleave to those that
forsake their sins and idols to join themselves with this people, that God
is with them, Zech. viii. 23: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days
it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages
of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew,
saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you." So
should persons as it were take hold of the skirt of their neighbors and
companions that have turned to God, and resolve that they will go with
them, because God is with them.

III. _Happiness_ is nowhere else to be had, but in their God, and with
their people. There are that are called gods many, and lords many. Some
make gods of their pleasures; some choose Mammon for their god; some make
gods of their own supposed excellencies, or the outward advantages they
have above their neighbors: some choose one thing for their god, and
others another. But men can be happy in no other God but the God of
Israel: he is the only fountain of happiness. Other gods can't help in
calamity; nor can any of them afford what the poor empty soul stands in
need of. Let men adore those other gods never so much, and call upon them
never so earnestly, and serve them never so diligently, they will
nevertheless remain poor, wretched, unsatisfied, undone creatures. All
other people are miserable, but that people whose God is the Lord.--The
world is divided into two societies. There are the people of God, the
little flock of Jesus Christ, that company that we read of, Rev. xiv. 4.
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were
redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
And there are those that belong to the kingdom of darkness, that are
without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers
from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the
world. All that are of this latter company are wretched and undone; they
are the enemies of God, and under his wrath and condemnation. They are the
devil's slaves, that serve him blindfold, and are befooled and ensnared by
him, and hurried along in the broad way to eternal perdition.

IV. When those that we have formerly been conversant with are turning to
God, and to his people, their _example_ ought to influence us. Their
example should be looked upon as the call of God to us to do as they have
done. God, when he changes the heart of one, calls upon another;
especially does he loudly call on those that have been their friends and
acquaintance. We have been influenced by their examples in evil; and shall
we cease to follow them when they make the wisest choice that ever they
made, and do the best thing that ever they did? If we have been companions
with them in worldliness, in vanity, in unprofitable and sinful
conversation, it will be a hard case, if there must be a parting now,
because we be not willing to be companions with them in holiness and true
happiness. Men are greatly influenced by seeing one another's prosperity
in other things. If those whom they have been much conversant with grow
rich, and obtain any great earthly advantages, it awakens their ambition
and eager desire after the like prosperity. How much more should they be
influenced, and stirred up to follow them, and be like them, when they
obtain that spiritual and eternal happiness that is of infinitely more
worth than all the prosperity and glory of this world!

V. Our resolutions to cleave to and follow those that are turning to God,
and joining themselves to his people, ought to be _fixed_ and _strong_,
because of the great difficulty of it. If we will cleave to them, and have
their God for our God, and their people for our people, we must mortify
and deny all our lusts, and cross every evil appetite and inclination, and
forever part with all sin. But our lusts are many and violent. Sin is
naturally exceeding dear to us; to part with it is compared to plucking
out our right eyes. Men may refrain from wonted ways of sin for a little
while, and may deny their lusts in a partial degree, with less difficulty;
but 'tis heart-rending work, finally to part with all sin, and to give our
dearest lusts a bill of divorce, utterly to send them away. But this we
must do, if we would follow those that are truly turning to God. Yea, we
must not only forsake sin, but must, in a sense, forsake all the world:
Luke xiv. 33, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all he hath, he
cannot be my disciple." That is, he must forsake all in his heart, and
must come to a thorough disposition and readiness actually to quit all for
God and the glorious spiritual privileges of his people, whenever the case
may require it; and that without any prospect of any thing of the like
nature, or any worldly thing whatsoever, to make amends for it; and all to
go into a strange country, a land that has hitherto been unseen; like
Abraham, who being called of God, "went out of his own country, and from
his kindred, and from his father's house, for a land that God should show
him, not knowing whither he went."

Thus it was a hard thing for Ruth to forsake her native country and her
father and mother, her kindred and acquaintance, and all the pleasant
things she had in the land of Moab, to dwell in the land of Israel, where
she never had been. Naomi told her of the difficulties once and again.
They were too hard for her sister Orpah; the consideration of them turned
her back after she was set out. Her resolution was not firm enough to
overcome them. But so firmly resolved was Ruth, that she broke through
all; she was steadfast in it, that, let the difficulty be what it would,
she would not leave her mother in law. So persons had need to be very firm
in their resolution to conquer the difficulties that are in the way of
cleaving to them who are indeed turning from sin to God.

Our cleaving to them, and having their God for our God and their people
for our people, depends on our resolution and choice; and that in two
respects.

1. The firmness of resolution in using means in order to it, is _the way
to have means effectual_. There are means appointed in order to our
becoming some of the true Israel and having their God for our God; and the
thorough use of these means is the way to have success; but not a slack or
slighty use of them. And that we may be thorough, there is need of
strength of resolution, a firm and inflexible disposition and bent of mind
to be universal in the use of means, and to do what we do with our might,
and to persevere in it. Matt. xi. 12, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth
violence, and the violent take it by force."

2. A choosing of their God and their people, with a full determination and
with the whole soul, is _the condition of an union with them_. God gives
every man his choice in this matter: as Orpah and Ruth had their choice,
whether they would go with Naomi into the land of Israel, or stay in the
land of Moab. A natural man may choose deliverance from hell; but no man
doth ever heartily choose God and Christ, and the spiritual benefits that
Christ has purchased, and the happiness of God's people, till he is
converted. On the contrary, he is averse to them; he has no relish of
them; and is wholly ignorant of the inestimable worth and value of them.

Many carnal men do seem to choose these things, but do it not really: as
Orpah seemed at first to choose to forsake Moab to go into the land of
Israel. But when Naomi came to set before her the difficulty of it, she
went back; and thereby showed that she was not fully determined in her
choice, and that her whole soul was not in it as Ruth's was.


APPLICATION

The use that I shall make of what has been said is to move sinners to this
resolution, with respect to those amongst us that have lately turned to
God, and joined themselves to the flock of Christ. Through the abundant
mercy and grace of God to us in this place, it may be said of many of you
that are in a Christless condition, that you have lately been left by
those that were formerly with you in such a state. There are those that
you have formerly been conversant with that have lately forsaken a life of
sin and the service of Satan, and have turned to God, and fled to Christ,
and joined themselves to that blessed company that are with him. They
formerly were with you in sin and in misery; but now they are with you no
more in that state or manner of life. They are changed, and have fled from
the wrath to come; they have chosen a life of holiness here and the
enjoyment of God hereafter. They were formerly your associates in bondage,
and were with you in Satan's business; but now you have their company no
longer in these things. Many of you have seen those you live with, under
the same roof, turning from being any longer with you in sin, to be with
the people of Jesus Christ. Some of you that are husbands have had your
wives; and some of you that are wives have had your husbands; some of you
that are children have had your parents; and parents have had your
children; many of you have had your brothers and sisters; and many your
near neighbors and acquaintance and special friends; many of you that are
young have had your companions: I say, many of you have had those that you
have been thus concerned with, leaving you, forsaking that doleful life
and wretched state that you still continue in. God, of his good pleasure
and wonderful grace, hath lately caused it to be so in this place that
multitudes have been forsaking their old abodes in the land of Moab, and
under the gods of Moab, and going into the land of Israel, to put their
trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel. Though you and they have
been nearly related, and have dwelt together, or have been often together
and intimately acquainted one with another, they have been taken and you
hitherto left. O let it not be the foundation of a final parting! But
earnestly follow them; be firm in your resolution in this matter. Don't do
as Orpah did, who, though at first she made as though she would follow
Naomi, yet when she had the difficulty of it set before her went back: but
say as Ruth, "I will not leave thee; but where thou goest, I will go: thy
people shall be my people, and thy God my God." Say as she said, and do as
she did. Consider the excellency of their God and their Saviour, and the
happiness of their people, the blessed state that they are in, and the
doleful state that you are in.

You who are old sinners, who have lived long in the service of Satan, have
lately seen some that were with you, that have travelled with you in the
paths of sin these many years, that with you enjoyed great means and
advantages, that have had calls and warnings with you, and have with you
passed through remarkable times of the pouring out of God's Spirit in this
place, and have hardened their hearts and stood it out with you, and with
you have grown old in sin; I say, you have seen some of them turning to
God, i.e., you have seen those evidences of it in them, whence you may
rationally judge that it is so. O let it not be a final parting! You have
been thus long together in sin, and under condemnation; let it be your
firm resolution, that, if possible, you will be with them still, now they
are in a holy and happy state, and that you will follow them into the holy
and pleasant land.

You that tell of your having been seeking salvation for many years,
though, without doubt, in a poor dull way, in comparison of what you ought
to have done, have seen some that have been with you in that respect, that
were old sinners and old seekers, as you are, obtaining mercy. God has
lately roused them from their dulness, and caused them to alter their
hand, and put them on more thorough endeavors; and they have now, after so
long a time, heard God's voice, and have fled for refuge to the Rock of
Ages. Let this awaken earnestness and resolution in you. Resolve that you
will not leave them.

You that are in your youth, how many have you seen of your age and
standing that have of late hopefully chosen God for their God and Christ
for their Saviour! You have followed them in sin, and have perhaps
followed them into vain company; and will you not now follow them to
Christ?

And you that are children, there have lately been some of your sort that
have repented of their sins, and have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and
trusted in him, and are become God's children, as we have reason to hope:
let it stir you up to resolve to your utmost to seek and cry to God, that
you may have the like change made in your hearts, that their people may be
your people, and their God your God.

You that are great sinners, that have made yourselves distinguishingly
guilty by the wicked practices you have lived in, there are some of your
sort that have lately (as we have reason to hope) had their hearts broken
for sin, and have forsaken it, and trusted in the blood of Christ for the
pardon of it, and have chosen a holy life, and have betaken themselves to
the ways of wisdom: let it excite and encourage you resolutely to cleave
to them and earnestly to follow them.

Let the following things be here considered:--

1. That your soul is as precious as theirs. It is immortal as theirs is;
and stands in as much need of happiness, and can as ill bear eternal
misery. You were born in the same miserable condition that they were,
having the same wrath of God abiding on you. You must stand before the
same Judge; who will be as strict in judgment with you as with them; and
your own righteousness will stand you in no more stead before him than
theirs; and therefore you stand in as absolute necessity of a Saviour as
they. Carnal confidences can no more answer your end than theirs; nor can
this world or its enjoyments serve to make you happy without God and
Christ more than them. When the bridegroom comes, the foolish virgins
stand in as much need of oil as the wise, Matt. xxv. at the beginning.

2. Unless you follow them in their turning to God, their conversion will
be a foundation of an eternal separation between you and them. You will be
in different interests and in exceeding different states, as long as you
live; they the children of God, and you the children of Satan; and you
will be parted in another world; when you come to die, there will be a
vast separation made between you: Luke xvi. 26, "And besides all this,
between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would
pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would
come from thence." And you will be parted at the day of judgment. You will
be parted at Christ's first appearance in the clouds of heaven. While they
are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be ever with
the Lord, you will remain below, confined to this cursed ground, that is
kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and
perdition of ungodly men. You will appear separated from them while you
stand before the great judgment-seat, they being at the right hand, while
you are set at the left: Matt. xxv. 32, 33, "And before him shall be
gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a
shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on
his right hand, but the goats on the left." And you shall then appear in
exceeding different circumstances. While you stand with devils, in the
image and deformity of devils, and in ineffable horror and amazement, they
shall appear in glory, sitting upon thrones, as assessors with Christ, and
as such passing judgment upon you, 1 Cor. vi. 2. And what shame and
confusion will then cover you, when so many of your contemporaries, your
equals, your neighbors, relations and companions, shall be honored, and
openly acknowledged and confessed by the glorious Judge of the universe
and Redeemer of saints, and shall be seen by you sitting with him in such
glory, and you shall appear to have neglected your salvation, and not to
have improved your opportunities, and rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, the
same person that will then appear as your great Judge, and you shall be
the subjects of wrath, and, as it were, trodden down in eternal contempt
and disgrace! Dan. xii. 2, "Some shall rise to everlasting life, and some
to shame and everlasting contempt." And what a wide separation will the
sentence then passed and executed make between you and them! When you
shall be sent away out of the presence of the Judge with indignation and
abhorrence, as cursed and loathsome creatures, and they shall be sweetly
accosted and invited into his glory as his dear friends and the blessed of
his Father! When you, with all that vast throng of wicked and accursed men
and devils, shall descend with loud lamentings and horrid shrieks into
that dreadful gulf of fire and brimstone, and shall be swallowed up in
that great and everlasting furnace, while they shall joyfully, and with
sweet songs of glory and praise, ascend with Christ, and all that
beauteous and blessed company of saints and angels, into eternal felicity,
in the glorious presence of God, and the sweet embraces of his love; and
you and they shall spend eternity in such a separation and immensely
different circumstances! And that however you have been intimately
acquainted and nearly related, closely united and mutually conversant here
in this world; and how much soever you have taken delight in each other's
company! Shall it be so after you have been together a great while, each
of you in undoing yourselves, enhancing your guilt, and heaping up wrath,
that their so wisely changing their minds and their course, and choosing
such happiness for themselves, should now at length be the beginning of
such an exceeding and everlasting separation between you and them? How
awful will it be to be parted so!

3. Consider the great encouragement that God gives you, earnestly to
strive for the same blessing that others have obtained. There is great
encouragement in the word of God to sinners to seek salvation, in the
revelation we have of the abundant provision made for the salvation even
of the chief of sinners, and in the appointment of so many means to be
used with and by sinners, in order to their salvation; and by the blessing
which God in his word connects with the means of his appointment. There is
hence great encouragement for all, at all times, that will be thorough in
using of these means. But now God gives extraordinary encouragement in his
providence, by pouring out his Spirit so remarkably amongst us, and
bringing savingly home to himself all sorts, young and old, rich and poor,
wise and unwise, sober and vicious, old self-righteous seekers and
profligate livers: no sort are exempt. There is now at this day amongst us
the loudest call and the greatest encouragement and the widest door open
to sinners, to escape out of a state of sin and condemnation that perhaps
God ever granted in New England. Who is there that has an immortal soul so
sottish as not to improve such an opportunity, and that won't bestir
himself with all his might now? How unreasonable is negligence, and how
exceeding unseasonable is discouragement, at such a day as this! Will you
be so stupid as to neglect your soul now? Will any mortal amongst us be so
unreasonable as to lag behind, or look back in discouragement when God
opens such a door? Let every single person be thoroughly awake! Let every
one encourage himself now to press forward, and fly for his life!

4. Consider how earnestly desirous they that have obtained are that you
should follow them, and that their people should be your people, and their
God your God. They desire that you should partake of that great good that
God has given them, and that unspeakable and eternal blessedness that he
has promised them. They wish and long for it. If you do not go with them,
and are not still of their company, it won't be for want of their
willingness, but your own. That of Moses to Hobab is the language of every
true saint of your acquaintance to you, Numb. x. 29, "We are journeying
unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with
us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning
Israel." As Moses, when on his journey through the wilderness, following
the pillar of cloud and fire, invited Hobab, that he had been acquainted
with and nearly allied to out of the land of Midian, where Moses had
formerly dwelt with him, to go with him and his people to Canaan, to
partake with them in the good that God had promised them; so do those of
your friends and acquaintance invite you, out of a land of darkness and
wickedness, where they have formerly been with you, to go with them to the
heavenly Canaan. The company of saints, the true church of Christ, invite
you. The lovely bride calls you to the marriage supper. She hath authority
to invite guests to her own wedding; and you ought to look on her
invitation and desire as the call of Christ the bridegroom; for it is the
voice of his Spirit in her: Rev. xxii. 17, "The Spirit and the bride say,
Come." Where seems to be a reference to what had been said, chap. xix.
7-9, "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself
ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen,
clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he
saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage
supper of the Lamb." 'Tis with respect to this her marriage supper that
she, from the motion of the Spirit of the Lamb in her, says, Come. So that
you are invited on all hands; all conspire to call you. God the Father
invites you: this is the King that has made a marriage for his Son; and he
sends forth his servants, the ministers of the gospel, to invite the
guests. And the Son himself invites you: 'tis he that speaks, Rev. xvii.
17, "And let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst,
come; and whosoever will, let him come." He tells us who he is in the
foregoing verse, "I Jesus, the root and offspring of David, the bright and
morning star." And God's ministers invite you, and all the church invites
you; and there will be joy in the presence of the angels of God that hour
that you accept the invitation.

5. Consider what a doleful company that will be that be left after this
extraordinary time of mercy is over. We have reason to think that there
will be a number left. We read that when Ezekiel's healing waters
increased so abundantly, and the healing effect of them was so very
general; yet there were certain places, where the water came, that never
were healed: Ezek. xlvii. 9-11, "And it shall come to pass, that every
thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come,
shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because
these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing
shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the
fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall
be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their
kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places
thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given
to salt." And even in the apostles' times, when there was such wonderful
success of the gospel, yet wherever they came, there were some that did
not believe: Acts xiii. 48, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were
glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to
eternal life, believed." And chap. xxviii. 24, "And some believed, and
some believed not." So we have no reason to expect but there will be some
left amongst us. 'Tis to be hoped it will be a small company. But what a
doleful company will it be! How darkly and awfully will it look upon them!
If you shall be of that company, how well may your friends and relations
lament over you, and bemoan your dark and dangerous circumstances! If you
would not be one of them, make haste, delay not and look not behind you.
Shall all sorts obtain, shall every one press into the kingdom of God,
while you stay loitering behind in a doleful undone condition? Shall every
one take heaven, while you remain with no other portion but this world?
Now take up that resolution, that if it be possible you will cleave to
them that have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them.
Count the cost of a thorough, violent, and perpetual pursuit of salvation,
and forsake all, as Ruth forsook her own country and all her pleasant
enjoyments in it. Don't do as Orpah did; who set out, and then was
discouraged, and went back: but hold out with Ruth through all
discouragement and opposition. When you consider others that have chosen
the better part, let that resolution be ever firm with you: "Where thou
goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God."



IV

THE MANY MANSIONS°

JOHN xiv. 2.--In my Father's house are many mansions.


In these words may be observed two things,

1. The thing described, viz., Christ's Father's house. Christ spoke to his
disciples in the foregoing chapter as one that was about to leave them. He
told 'em, verse 31, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified
in him," and then goes to giving of them counsel to live in unity and love
one another, as one that was going from them. By which they seemed
somewhat surprised and hardly knew what to make of it. And one of them,
viz., Peter, asked him where he was going; verse 36, "Simon Peter said
unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?" Christ did not directly answer and
tell him where he was going, but he signifies where in these words of the
text, viz., to his Father's house, i.e., to heaven, and afterwards, in
the verse 12, he tells 'em plainly that he was going to his Father.

2. We may observe the description given of it, viz., that in it there are
many mansions. The disciples seemed very sorrowful at the news of Christ's
going away, but Christ comforts 'em with that, that in his Father's house
where he was going there was not only room for him, but room for them too.
There were many mansions. There was not only a mansion there for him, but
there were mansions enough for them all; there was room enough in heaven
for them. When the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they
manifested a great desire to go with him, and particularly Peter. Peter
in the latter part of the foregoing chapter asked him whither he went to
that end that he might follow him. Christ told him that whither he went he
could not follow him now, but that he should follow him afterwards. But
Peter, not content with Christ, seemed to have a great mind to follow him
now. "Lord," says he, "why cannot I follow thee now?" So that the
disciples had a great mind still to be with Christ, and Christ in the
words of the text intimates that they shall be with him. Christ signifies
to 'em that he was going home to his Father's house, and he encourages 'em
that they shall be with him there in due time, in that there were many
mansions there. There was a mansion provided not only for him, but for
them all (for Judas was not then present), and not only for them, but for
all that should ever believe in him to the end of the world; and though he
went before, he only went to prepare a place for them that should follow.

The text is a plain sentence; 'tis therefore needless to press any
doctrine in other words from it: so that I shall build my discourse on the
words of the text. There are two propositions contained in the words,
viz., I, that heaven is God's house, and II, that in this house of God
there are many mansions.

Prop. I. Heaven is God's house. An house of public worship is an house
where God's people meet from time to time to attend on God's ordinances,
and that is set apart for that and is called God's house. The temple of
Solomon was called God's house. God was represented as dwelling there.
There he had his throne in the holy of holies, even the mercy-seat over
the ark and between the cherubims.

Sometimes the whole universe is represented in Scripture as God's house,
built with various stories one above another: Amos ix. 6, "It is he that
buildeth his stories in the heaven;" and Ps. civ. 3, "Who layeth the beams
of his chambers in the waters." But the highest heaven is especially
represented in Scripture as the house of God. As to other parts of the
creation, God hath appointed them to inferior uses; but this part he has
reserved for himself for his own abode. We are told that the heavens are
the Lord's, but the earth he hath given to the sons of men. God, though he
is everywhere present, is represented both in Old Testament and New as
being in heaven in a special and peculiar manner. Heaven is the temple of
God. Thus we read of God's temple in heaven, Rev. xv. 5. Solomon's temple
was a type of heaven; it was made exceeding magnificent and, costly partly
to that end, that it might be the most lively type of heaven. The apostle
Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews does from time to time call heaven the
holy of holies, as being the antitype not only of the temple of Solomon,
but of the most holy place in that temple, which was the place of God's
most immediate residence: Heb. ix. 12, "He entered in once into the holy
place;" verse 24, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made
with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself."
Houses where assemblies of Christians worship God are in some respects
figures of this house of God above. When God is worshipped in them in
spirit and truth, they become the outworks of heaven and as it were its
gates. As in houses of public worship here there are assemblies of
Christians meeting to worship God, so in heaven there is a glorious
assembly, or Church, continually worshipping God: Heb. xii. 22, 23, "But
ye are come unto mount Sion, [and unto] the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the
general assembly and church of the firstborn, that are written in heaven."

Heaven is represented in Scripture as God's dwelling-house; Ps. cxiii. 5,
"Who is like [unto] the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high," and Ps.
cxxiii. 1, "Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the
heavens." Heaven is God's palace. 'Tis the house of the great King of the
universe; there he has his throne, which is therefore represented as his
house or temple; Ps. xi. 4, "The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's
throne is in heaven."

Heaven is the house where God dwells with his family. God is represented
in Scripture as having a family; and though some of this family are now on
earth, yet in so being they are abroad and not at home, but all going
home: Eph. iii. 15, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is
named." Heaven is the place that God has built for himself and his
children. God has many children, and the place designed for them is
heaven; therefore the saints, being the children of God, are said to be of
the household of God, Eph. ii. 19: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers
and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household
of God." God is represented as a householder or head of a family, and
heaven is his house.

Heaven is the house not only where God hath his throne, but also where he
doth as it were keep his table, where his children sit down with him at
his table and where they are feasted in a royal manner becoming the
children of so great a King: Luke xxii. 30, "That ye may eat and drink at
my table in my kingdom;" Matt. xxvi. 29, "But I say unto you, I will not
drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it
new with you in my Father's kingdom."

God is the King of kings, and heaven is the place where he keeps his
court. There are his angels and archangels that as the nobles of his court
do attend upon him.

Prop. II. There are many mansions in the house of God. By many mansions is
meant many seats or places of abode. As it is a king's palace, there are
many mansions. Kings' houses are wont to be built very large, with many
stately rooms and apartments. So there are many mansions in God's house.

When this is spoken of heaven, it is chiefly to be understood in a
figurative sense, and the following things seem to be taught us in it.

1. There is room in this house of God for great numbers. There is room in
heaven for a vast multitude, yea, room enough for all mankind that are or
ever shall be; Luke xiv. 22, "Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and
yet there is room."

It is not with the heavenly temple as it often is with houses of public
worship in this world, that they fill up and become too small and scanty
for those that would meet in them, so that there is not convenient room
for all. There is room enough in our heavenly Father's house. This is
partly what Christ intended in the words of the text, as is evident from
the occasion of his speaking them. The disciples manifested a great desire
to be where Christ was, and Christ therefore, to encourage them that it
should be as they desired, tells them that in his Father's house where he
was going were many mansions, i.e., room enough for them.

There is mercy enough in God to admit an innumerable multitude into
heaven. There is mercy enough for all, and there is merit enough in Christ
to purchase heavenly happiness for millions of millions, for all men that
ever were, are or shall be. And there is a sufficiency in the fountain of
heaven's happiness to supply and fill and satisfy all: and there is in all
respects enough for the happiness of all.

2. There are sufficient and suitable accommodations for all the different
sorts of persons that are in the world: for great and small, for high and
low, rich and poor, wise and unwise, bond and free, persons of all nations
and all conditions and circumstances, for those that have been great
sinners as well as for moral livers; for weak saints and those that are
babes in Christ as well as for those that are stronger and more grown in
grace. There is in heaven a sufficiency for the happiness of every sort;
there is a convenient accommodation for every creature that will hearken
to the calls of the Gospel. None that will come to Christ, let his
condition be what it will, need to fear but that Christ will provide a
place suitable for him in heaven.

This seems to be another thing implied in Christ's words. The disciples
were persons of very different condition from Christ: he was their Master,
and they were his disciples; he was their Lord, and they were the
servants; he was their Guide, and they were the followers; he was their
Captain, and they the soldiers; he was the Shepherd, and they the sheep;
[he was, as it were, the] Father, [and they the] children; he was the
glorious, holy Son of God, they were poor, sinful, corrupt men. But yet,
though they were in such different circumstances from him, yet Christ
encourages them that there shall not only be room in heaven for him, but
for them too; for there were many mansions there. There was not only a
mansion to accommodate the Lord, but the disciples also; not only the
head, but the members; not only the Son of God, but those that are
naturally poor, sinful, corrupt men: as in a king's palace there is not
only a mansion or room of state built for the king himself and for his
eldest son and heir, but there are many rooms, mansions for all his
numerous household, children, attendants and servants.

3. It is further implied that heaven is a house that was actually built
and prepared for a great multitude. When God made heaven in the beginning
of the world, he intended it for an everlasting dwelling-place for a vast
and innumerable multitude. When heaven was made, it was intended and
prepared for all those particular persons that God had from eternity
designed to save: Matt. xxv. 34, "Come, ye blessed [of my Father, inherit
the Kingdom] prepared for you [from the foundation of the world]." And
that is a very great and innumerable multitude: Rev. vii. 9, "After this I
beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all
nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne
and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes." Heaven being built
designedly for these was built accordingly; it was built so as most
conveniently to accommodate all this multitude: as a house that is built
for a great family is built large and with many rooms in it; as a palace
that is built for a great king that keeps a great court with many
attendants is built exceeding great with a great many apartments; and as
an house of public worship that is built for a great congregation is built
very large with many seats in it.

4. When it is said, ["In my father's house are many mansions"], it is
meant that there are seats of various dignity and different degrees and
circumstances of honor and happiness. There are many mansions in God's
house because heaven is intended for various degrees of honor and
blessedness. Some are designed to sit in higher places there than others;
some are designed to be advanced to higher degrees of honor and glory than
others are; and, therefore, there are various mansions, and some more
honorable mansions and seats, in heaven than others. Though they are all
seats of exceeding honor and blessedness, yet some are more so than
others.

Thus a palace is built. Though every part of the palace is magnificent as
becomes the palace of a king, yet there are many apartments of various
honor, and some are more stately and costly than others, according to the
degree of dignity. There is one apartment that is the king's
presence-chamber; there are other apartments for the next heir to the
crown; there are others for other children; and others for their
attendants and the great officers of the household: one for the high
steward, and another for the chamberlain, and others for meaner officers
and servants.

Another image of this was in Solomon's temple. There were many mansions of
different degrees of honor and dignity. There was the holy of holies,
where the ark was that was the place of God's immediate residence, where
the high priest alone might come; and there was another apartment called
the holy place, where the other priests might come; and next to that was
the inner court of the temple, where the Levites were admitted: and there
they had many chambers or mansions built for lodging-rooms for the
priests; and next to that was the court of Israel where the people of
Israel might come; and next to that was the court of the Gentiles where
the Gentiles, those that were called the "Proselytes of the Gate," might
come.

And we have an image of this in houses built for the worship of Christian
assemblies. In such houses of God there are many seats of different honor
and dignity, from the most honorable to the most inferior of the
congregation.

Not that we are to understand the words of Christ so much in a literal
sense, as that every saint in heaven was to have a certain seat or room or
place of abode where he was to be locally fixed. 'Tis not the design of
the Scriptures to inform us much about the external circumstances of
heaven or the state of heaven locally considered; but we are to understand
what Christ says chiefly in a spiritual sense. Persons shall be set in
different degrees of honor and glory in heaven, as is abundantly
manifested in Scripture: which may fitly be represented to our
imaginations by there being different seats of various honor, as it was in
the temple, as it is in kings' courts. Some seats shall be nearer the
throne than others. Some shall sit next to Christ in glory: Matt. xx. 23,
"To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall
be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

Christ has doubtless respect to these different degrees of glory in the
text. When he was going to heaven and the disciples were sorrowful at the
thoughts of parting with their Lord, he lets them know that there are
seats or mansions of various degrees of honor in his Father's house, that
there was not only one for him, who was the Head of the Church and the
elder brother, but also for them that were his disciples and younger
brethren.

Christ also may probably have respect not only to different degrees of
glory in heaven, but different circumstances. Though the employment and
happiness of all the heavenly assembly shall in the general be the same,
yet 'tis not improbable that there may be circumstantial difference. We
know what their employment [is] in general, but not in particular. We know
not how one may be employed to subserve and promote the happiness of
another, and all to help one another. Some may there be set in one place
for one office or employment, and others [in] another, as 'tis in the
Church on earth. God hath set every one in the body as it hath pleased
him; one is the eye, another the ear, another the head, etc. But because
God has not been pleased expressly to reveal how it shall be in this
respect, therefore I shall not insist upon it, but pass to make some


IMPROVEMENT

of what has been offered.

I. Here is encouragement for sinners that are concerned and exercised for
the salvation of their souls, such as are afraid that they shall never go
to heaven or be admitted to any place of abode there, and are sensible
that they are hitherto in a doleful state and condition in that they are
out of Christ, and so have no right to any inheritance in heaven, but are
in danger of going to hell and having their place of eternal abode fixed
there. You may be encouraged by what has been said, earnestly to seek
heaven; for there are many mansions there. There is room enough there. Let
your case be what it will, there is suitable provision there for you; and
if you come to Christ, you need not fear but that he will prepare a place
for you; he'll see to it that you shall be well accommodated in heaven.

But II. I would improve this doctrine in a twofold exhortation.

1. Let all be hence exhorted earnestly to seek that they may be admitted
to a mansion in heaven. You have heard that this is God's house; it is his
temple. If David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah and in the land
of Geshur and of the Philistines, so longed that he might again return
into the land of Israel that he might have a place in the house of God
here on earth, and prized a place there so much, though it was but that of
a door-keeper, how great a happiness will it be to have a place in this
heavenly temple of God! If they are looked upon as enjoying a high
privilege that have a seat appointed them in kings' courts or in
apartments in kings' palaces, especially those that have an abode there in
the quality of the king's children, then how great a privilege will it be
to have an apartment or mansion assigned to us in God's heavenly palace,
and to have a place there as his children! How great is their glory and
honor that are admitted to be of the household of God!

And seeing there are many mansions there, mansions enough for us all, our
folly will be the greater if we neglect to seek a place in heaven, having
our minds foolishly taken up about the worthless, fading things of this
world. Here consider three things:

(1) How little a while you can have any mansion or place of abode in this
world. Now you have a dwelling amongst the living. You have a house or
mansion of your own, or at least one that is at present for your use, and
now you have a seat in the house of God; but how little a while will this
continue! In a very little while, and the place that now knows you in this
world will know you no more. The habitation you have here will be empty of
you; you will be carried dead out of it, or shall die at a distance from
it, and never enter into it any more, or into any other abode in this
world. Your mansion or place of abode in this world, however convenient or
commodious it may be, is but as a tent that shall soon be taken down, but
a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. Your stay is as it were but for a
night. Your body itself is but a house of clay which will quickly moulder
and tumble down, and you shall have no other habitation here in this world
but the grave.

Thus God in his providence is putting you in mind by the repeated
instances of death that have been in the town within the two weeks past,
both in one house: in which death he has shown his dominion over old and
young. The son was taken away first before the father, being in his full
strength and flower of his days; and the father, who was then well and
having no appearance of approaching death, followed in a few days: and
their habitation and their seat in the house of God in this world will
know them no more.

Take warning by these warnings of Providence to improve your time that you
may have a mansion in heaven. We have a house of worship newly created
amongst us which now you have a seat in, and probably are pleased with the
ornaments of it; and though you have a place in so comely a house, yet you
know not how little a while you shall have a place in this house of God.
Here are a couple snatched away by death that had met in it but a few
times, that have been snatched out of it before it was fully finished and
never will have any more a seat in it. You know not how soon you may
follow, and then of great importance will it be to you to have a seat in
God's house above. Both of the persons lately deceased were much on their
death-beds warning others to improve their precious time. The first of
them was much in expressing his sense of the vast importance of an
interest in Christ, as I was a witness, and was earnest in calling on
others to improve their time, to be thorough, to get an interest in
Christ, and seemed very desirous that young people might receive council
and warning from him, as the words of a dying man, to do their utmost to
make sure of conversion; and a little before he died left a request to me
that I would warn the young people in his room. God has been warning of
you in his death and the death of his father that so soon followed. The
words of dying persons should be of special weight with us, for then they
are in circumstances wherein they are most capable to look on things as
they are and judge aright of 'em,--between both worlds as it were. Still
that we must all be in.

Let our young people, therefore, take warning from hence, and don't be
such fools as to neglect seeking a place and mansion in heaven. Young
persons are especially apt to be taken with the pleasing things of this
world. You are now, it may be, much pleased with hopes of your future
circumstances in this world; [and you are now, it may be, much] pleased
with the ornaments of that house of worship that you with others have a
place in. But, alas, do you not too little consider how soon you may be
taken away from all these things, and no more forever have any part in any
mansion or house or enjoyment or happiness under the sun? Therefore let it
be your main care to secure an everlasting habitation for hereafter.

(2) Consider when you die, if you have no mansion in the house of God in
heaven, you must have your place of abode in the habitation of devils.
There is no middle place between them, and when you go hence, you must go
to one or the other of these. Some have a mansion prepared for them in
heaven from the foundation [of the world]; others are sent away as cursed
into everlasting burnings prepared for the [devil and his angels].
Consider how miserable those must be that shall have their habitation with
devils to all eternity. Devils are foul spirits; God's great enemies.
Their habitation is the blackness of darkness; a place of the utmost
filthiness, abomination, darkness, disgrace and torment. O, how would you
rather ten thousand times have no place of abode at all, have no being,
than to have a place [with devils]!

(3) If you die unconverted, you will have the worse place in hell for
having had a seat or place in God's house in this world. As there are
many mansions, places of different degrees of honor in heaven, so there
are various abodes and places or degrees of torment and misery in hell;
and those will have the worst place there that [dying unconverted, have
had the best place in God's house here]. Solomon speaks of a peculiarly
awful sight that he had seen, that of a wicked man buried that had gone
[from the place of the holy], Eccl. viii. 10. Such as have had a seat in
God's house, have been in a sense exalted up to heaven, set on the gate of
heaven, [if they die unconverted, shall be] cast down to hell.

2. The second exhortation that I would offer from what has been said is to
seek a high place in heaven. Seeing there are many mansions of different
degrees of honor and dignity in heaven, let us seek to obtain a mansion of
distinguished glory. 'Tis revealed to us that there are different degrees
of glory to that end that we might seek after the higher degrees. God
offered high degrees of glory to that end, that we might seek them by
eminent holiness and good works: 2 Cor. ix. 6, "He that sows sparingly
[shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also
bountifully]." It is not becoming persons to be over anxious about an high
seat in God's house in this world, for that is the honor that is of men;
but we can't too earnestly seek after an high seat in God's house above,
by seeking eminent holiness, for that is the honor that is of God.

'Tis very little worth the while for us to pursue after honor in this
world, where the greatest honor is but a bubble and will soon vanish away,
and death will level all. Some have more stately houses than others, and
some are in higher office than others, and some are richer than others and
have higher seats in the meeting-house than others; but all graves are
upon a level. One rotting, putrefying corpse is as ignoble as another; the
worms are as bold with one carcass as another.

But the mansions in God's house above are everlasting mansions. Those that
have seats allotted 'em there, whether of greater or lesser dignity,
whether nearer or further from the throne, will hold 'em to all eternity.
This is promised, Rev. iii. 12: "Him that overcometh I will make him a
pillar in the temple [of my God, and he shall go no more out]." If it be
worth the while to desire and seek high seats in the meeting-house, where
you are one day in a week, and where you shall never come but few days in
all; if it be worth the while much to prize one seat above another in the
house of worship only because it is the pew or seat that is ranked first
in number, and to be seen here for a few days, how will it be worth the
while to seek an high mansion in God's temple and in that glorious place
that is the everlasting habitation of God and all his children! You that
are pleased with your seats in this house because you are seated high or
in a place that is looked upon honorable by those that sit round about,
and because many can behold you, consider how short a time you will enjoy
this pleasure. And if there be any that are not suited in their seats
because they are too low for them, let them consider that it is but a very
little while before it will [be] all one to you whether you have sat high
or low here. But it will be of infinite and everlasting concern to you
where your seat is in another world. Let your great concern be while in
this world so to improve your opportunities in God's house in this world,
whether you sit high or low, as that you may have a distinguished and
glorious mansion in God's house in heaven, where you may be fixed in your
place in that glorious assembly in an everlasting rest.

Let the main thing that we prize in God's house be, not the outward
ornaments of it, or a high seat in it, but the word of God and his
ordinances in it. And spend your time here in seeking Christ, that he may
prepare a place for you in his Father's house, that when he comes again to
this world, he may take you to himself, that where he is, there you may be
also.



V

SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD°

DEUTERONOMY xxxii. 35.--Their foot shall slide in due time.


In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving
Israelites, that were God's visible people, and lived under means of
grace; and that notwithstanding all God's wonderful works that he had
wrought towards that people, yet remained, as is expressed verse 28, void
of counsel, having no understanding in them; and that, under all the
cultivations of heaven, brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in
the two verses next preceding the text.

The expression that I have chosen for my text, _their foot shall slide in
due time_, seems to imply the following things relating to the punishment
and destruction that these wicked Israelites were exposed to.

1. That they were _always_ exposed to destruction; as one that stands or
walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the
manner of their destruction's coming upon them, being represented by their
foot's sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm lxxiii. 18: "Surely thou
didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into
destruction."

2. It implies that they were always exposed to _sudden_, unexpected
destruction; as he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to
fall, he can't foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next;
and when he does fall, he falls at once, without warning, which is also
expressed in that Psalm lxxiii. 18, 19: "Surely thou didst set them in
slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they
brought into desolation, as _in a moment_!"

3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of _themselves_,
without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or
walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him
down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and don't fall now, is
only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said that when that
due time, or appointed time comes, _their foot shall slide_. Then they
shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God won't
hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go;
and then, at that very instant, they shall fall to destruction; as he that
stands in such slippery declining ground on the edge of a pit that he
can't stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this,

     _There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of
     hell, but the mere pleasure of God._

By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary
will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty,
any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree
or in any respect whatsoever any hand in the preservation of wicked men
one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. There is no want of _power_ in God to cast wicked men into hell at any
moment. Men's hands can't be strong when God rises up: the strongest have
no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.

He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily
do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty
to subdue a rebel that has found means to fortify himself, and has made
himself strong by the number of his followers. But it is not so with God.
There is no fortress that is any defence against the power of God. Though
hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and
associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces: they are as great
heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry
stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a
worm that we see crawling on the earth; so 'tis easy for us to cut or
singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by; thus easy is it for God,
when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we
should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and
before whom the rocks are thrown down!

2. They _deserve_ to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never
stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at
any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for
an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that
brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the
ground?" Luke xiii. 7. The sword of divine justice is every moment
brandished over their heads, and 'tis nothing but the hand of arbitrary
mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

3. They are _already_ under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They don't
only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law
of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has
fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands
against them; so that they are bound over already to hell: John iii. 18,
"He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted
man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is: John
viii. 23, "Ye are from beneath:" and thither he is bound; 'tis the place
that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law,
assigns to him.

They are now the objects of that very _same_ anger and wrath of God, that
is expressed in the torments of hell: and the reason why they don't go
down to hell at each moment is not because God, in whose power they are,
is not then very angry with them; as angry as he is with many of those
miserable creatures that he is now tormenting in hell, and do there feel
and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry
with great numbers that are now on earth, yea, doubtless, with many that
are now in this congregation, that, it may be, are at ease and quiet, than
he is with many of those that are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and don't
resent it, that he don't let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not
altogether such a one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so.
The wrath of God burns against them; their damnation don't slumber; the
pit is prepared; the fire is made ready; the furnace is now hot, ready to
receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is
whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouth under them.

5. The _devil_ stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own,
at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their
souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The Scripture represents
them as his _goods_, Luke xi. 21. The devils watch them; they are ever by
them, at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry
lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present
kept back; if God should withdraw his hand by which they are restrained,
they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is
gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God
should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish _principles_
reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell-fire, if it
were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal
men a foundation for the torments of hell: there are those corrupt
principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them,
that are seeds of hell-fire. These principles are active and powerful,
exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining
hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out
after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the
heart of damned souls, and would beget the same torments in 'em as they do
in them. The souls of the wicked are in Scripture compared to the troubled
sea, Isaiah lvii. 20. For the present God restrains their wickedness by
his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying,
"Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further;" but if God should withdraw
that restraining power, it would soon carry all afore it. Sin is the ruin
and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should
leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul
perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is a thing that is
immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it
is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whenas if it were let loose, it
would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of
sin, so, if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul
into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no
_visible means of death_ at hand. 'Tis no security to a natural man, that
he is now in health, and that he don't see which way he should now
immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no
visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and
continual experience of the world in all ages shows that this is no
evidence that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the
next step won't be into another world. The unseen, unthought of ways and
means of persons' going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and
inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten
covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that
they won't bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of
death fly unseen at noonday; the sharpest sight can't discern them. God
has so many different, unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the
world and sending 'em to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear
that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the
ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any
moment. All the means that there are of sinners' going out of the world
are so in God's hands, and so absolutely subject to his power and
determination, that it don't depend at all less on the mere will of God,
whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never
made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

8. Natural men's _prudence_ and _care_ to preserve their own _lives_, or
the care of others to preserve them, don't secure 'em a moment. This,
divine providence and universal experience does also bear testimony to.
There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them
from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference
between the wise and politic men of the world and others, with regard to
their liableness to early and unexpected death; but how is it in fact?
Eccles. ii. 16, "How dieth the wise man? As the fool."

9. All wicked men's _pains_ and _contrivance_ they use to escape _hell_,
while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, don't
secure 'em from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of
hell flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for
his own security, he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is
now doing, or what he intends to do; every one lays out matters in his own
mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives
well for himself, and that his schemes won't fail. They hear indeed that
there are but few saved, and that the bigger part of men that have died
heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out
matters better for his own escape than others have done: he don't intend
to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends
to take care that shall be effectual, and to order matters so for himself
as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men do miserably delude themselves in their
own schemes, and in their confidence in their own strength and wisdom;
they trust to nothing but a shadow. The bigger part of those that
heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are
undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as
those that are now alive; it was not because they did not lay out matters
as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If it were so that we
could come to speak with them, and could inquire of them, one by one,
whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell,
ever to be subjects of that misery, we, doubtless, should hear one and
another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters
otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself: I
thought my scheme good: I intended to take effectual care; but it came
upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that
manner; it came as a thief: death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick
for me. O my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing
myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was
saying peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."

10. God has laid himself under _no obligation_, by any promise, to keep
any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises
either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal
death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that
are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But
surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace that
are not the children of the covenant, and that do not believe in any of
the promises of the covenant, and have no interest in the Mediator of the
covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to
natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, 'tis plain and manifest, that
whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes,
till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep
him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that thus it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the
pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced
to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them
as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness
of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease
or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to
hold 'em up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for
them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on
them and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is
struggling to break out; and they have no interest in any Mediator, there
are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short they
have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every
moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance
of an incensed God.


APPLICATION

The use may be of _awakening_ to unconverted persons in this congregation.
This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of
Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended
abroad under you. _There_ is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of
the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have
nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of. There is nothing
between you and hell but the air; 'tis only the power and mere pleasure of
God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell,
but don't see the hand of God in it, but look at other things, as the good
state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the
means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are
nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep
you from falling than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended
in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards
with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go,
you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the
bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and
prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no
more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider's web
would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not that so is the sovereign
pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a
burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject
to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun don't willingly
shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth don't
willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a
stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air don't willingly serve
you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you
spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good,
and were made for men to serve God with, and don't willingly subserve to
any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly
contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were
it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There
are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads,
full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the
restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The
sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind;
otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a
whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present;
they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is
given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is
its course, when once it is let loose. 'Tis true, that judgment against
your evil work has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's
vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is
constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the
waters are continually rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there
is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back, that
are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should
only withdraw his hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open,
and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth
with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power;
and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten
thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil
in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string,
and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is
nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without
any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from
being made drunk with your blood.

Thus are all you that never passed under a great change of heart by the
mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all that were never
born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin to a
state of new and before altogether unexperienced light and life, (however
you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious
affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and
closets, and in the house of God, and may be strict in it), you are thus
in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that
keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction.

However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and
by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in
the like circumstances with you see that it was so with them; for
destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of
it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those
things that they depended on for peace and safety were nothing but thin
air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or
some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully
provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as
worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes
than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so
abominable in his eyes, as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in
ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did
his prince: and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling
into the fire every moment. 'Tis ascribed to nothing else, that you did
not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in
this world after you closed your eyes to sleep; and there is no other
reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in
the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other
reason to be given why you han't gone to hell since you have sat here in
the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of
attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be
given as a reason why you don't this very moment drop down into hell.°

O sinner! consider the fearful danger you are in. 'Tis a great furnace of
wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are
held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as
much against you as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a
slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and
ready every moment to singe it and burn it asunder; and you have no
interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself,
nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that
you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you
one moment.

And consider here more particularly several things concerning that wrath
that you are in such danger of.

1. _Whose_ wrath it is. It is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were
only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would
be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much
dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, that have the possessions and
lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their
mere will. Prov. xx. 2, "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion:
whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul." The subject
that very much enrages an arbitrary prince is liable to suffer the most
extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict.
But the greatest earthly potentates, in their greatest majesty and
strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble,
despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty
Creator and King of heaven and earth: it is but little that they can do
when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury.
All the kings of the earth before God are as grasshoppers; they are
nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be
despised. The wrath of the great King of kings is as much more terrible
than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke xii. 4, 5, "And I say unto
you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that
have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall
fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell;
yea, I say unto you, Fear him."

2. 'Tis the _fierceness_ of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often
read of the _fury_ of God; as in Isaiah lix. 18: "According to their
deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries." So Isaiah lxvi.
15, "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like
a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of
fire." And so in many other places. So we read of God's _fierceness_, Rev.
xix. 15. There we read of "the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of
Almighty God." The words are exceeding terrible: if it had only been said,
"the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which is infinitely
dreadful: but 'tis not only said so, but "the fierceness and wrath of
God." The fury of God! The fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful must
that be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them!
But it is not only said so, but "the fierceness and wrath of Almighty
God." As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty
power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though
omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to
exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will
be the consequence! What will become of the poor worm that shall suffer
it! Whose hands can be strong! And whose heart endure! To what a dreadful,
inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be
sunk who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an
unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger
implies that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the
ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment so vastly
disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed,
and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no
compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or
in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor
will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your
welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any
other sense, than only that you should not suffer beyond what strict
justice requires: nothing shall be withheld because it is so hard for you
to bear. Ezek. viii. 18, "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye
shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine
ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them." Now God stands ready to
pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement
of obtaining mercy: but when once the day of mercy is past, your most
lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be
wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare; God
will have no other use to put you to, but only to suffer misery; you shall
be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath
fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but
only to be filled full of wrath: God will be so far from pitying you when
you cry to him, that 'tis said he will only "laugh and mock," Prov. i. 25,
26, &c.

How awful are those words, Isaiah lxiii. 3, which are the words of the
great God: "I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury;
and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all
my raiment." 'Tis perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in
them greater manifestations of these three things, viz., contempt and
hatred and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he
will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the
least regard or favor, that instead of that he'll only tread you under
foot: and though he will know that you can't bear the weight of
omnipotence treading upon you, yet he won't regard that, but he will crush
you under his feet without mercy; he'll crush out your blood, and make it
fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his
raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost
contempt; no place shall be thought fit for you but under his feet, to be
trodden down as the mire of the streets.

3. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that
end, that he might _show_ what that _wrath_ of _Jehovah_ is. God hath had
it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is,
and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to
show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would
execute on those that provoke 'em. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty
monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged
with Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego; and accordingly gave order that the
burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was
before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that
human art could raise it; but the great God is also willing to show his
wrath, and magnify his awful Majesty and mighty power in the extreme
sufferings of his enemies. Rom. ix. 22, "What if God, willing to show his
wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design,
and what he has determined, to show how terrible the unmixed, unrestrained
wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect.
There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be
dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and
executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is
actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then
will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and
mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. xxxiii. 12, 13, 14, "And the
people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be
burnt in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye
that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid;
fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," &c.

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue
in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness, of the
Omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you in the ineffable strength of
your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels,
and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of
suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on
the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of
the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore
that great power and majesty. Isa. lxvi. 23, 24, "And it shall come to
pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another,
shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall
go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed
against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be
quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

4. It is _everlasting_ wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this
fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to
all eternity: there will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery.
When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration
before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and
you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any
mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear
out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting
with this almighty, merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done,
when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will
know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will
indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such
circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it gives but a very
feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable:
for "who knows the power of God's anger?"

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of
this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every
soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and
strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh, that you would
consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think that
there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will
actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not
who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have.
It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much
disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the
persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that
there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to
be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think
of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a
person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable
and bitter cry over him! But alas! instead of one, how many is it likely
will remember this discourse in hell! And it would be a wonder, if some
that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, before
this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons that now sit
here in some seats of this meeting-house in health, and quiet and secure,
should be there before to-morrow morning. Those of you that finally
continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest, will
be there in a little time! Your damnation don't slumber; it will come
swiftly and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have
reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. 'Tis doubtless the case
of some that heretofore you have seen and known, that never deserved hell
more than you and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now
alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme
misery and perfect despair. But here you are in the land of the living and
in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What
would not those poor, damned, hopeless souls give for one day's such
opportunity as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has
flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and
crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking
to him and pressing into the Kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from
the east, west, north and south; many that were very likely in the same
miserable condition that you are in are in now a happy state, with their
hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from
their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.
How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others
feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and
singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of
heart and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest for one moment in
such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the
people at Suffield,[15] where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?


Are there not many here that have lived long in the world that are not to
this day born again, and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and
have done nothing ever since they have lived but treasure up wrath against
the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case in an especial manner is extremely
dangerous; your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Don't you
see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left in the
present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God's mercy? You had need
to consider yourselves and wake thoroughly out of sleep; you cannot bear
the fierceness and the wrath of the infinite God.

And you that are young men and young women, will you neglect this precious
season that you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing
all youthful vanities and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an
extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you
as it is with those persons that spent away all the precious days of youth
in sin and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness.

And you children that are unconverted, don't you know that you are going
down to hell to bear the dreadful wrath of that God that is now angry with
you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of
the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted and are
become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ and hanging over the pit of
hell, whether they be old men and women or middle-aged or young people or
little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and
providence. This acceptable year of the Lord that is a day of such great
favor to some will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to
others. Men's hearts harden and their guilt increases apace at such a day
as this, if they neglect their souls. And never was there so great danger
of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of
mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of
the land; and probably the bigger part of adult persons that ever shall be
saved will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it
was on that great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the Apostles'
days, the election will obtain and the rest will be blinded. If this
should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will
curse the day that ever you was born to see such a season of the pouring
out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell
before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is as it was in the days of
John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root
of the trees, that every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit may be
hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore let every one that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the
wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over
great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom. "_Haste
and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain,
lest ye be consumed._"



VI

GOD'S AWFUL JUDGMENT IN THE BREAKING AND WITHERING OF THE STRONG RODS OF A
COMMUNITY°

EZEK. xix. 12.--Her strong rods were broken and withered.


In order to a right understanding and improving these words, these four
things must be observed and understood concerning them.

1. _Who she is_ that is here represented as having had strong rods, viz.,
the Jewish community, [who] here, as often elsewhere, is called the
people's mother. She is here compared to a vine planted in a very fruitful
soil, verse 10. The Jewish church and state is often elsewhere compared to
a vine; as Psalm lxxx. 8, &c., Isai. v. 2, Jer. ii. 21, Ezek. xv., and
chapter xvii. 6.

2. What is meant by _her strong rods_, viz., her wise, able, and well
qualified magistrates or rulers. That the rulers or magistrates are
intended is manifest by verse 11: "And she had strong rods for the
sceptres of them that bare rule." And by rods that were strong, must be
meant such rulers as were well qualified for magistracy, such as had great
abilities and other qualifications fitting them for the business of rule.
They were wont to choose a rod or staff of the strongest and hardest sort
of wood that could be found, for the mace or sceptre of a prince; such a
one only being counted fit for such a use: and this generally was overlaid
with gold.

It is very remarkable that such a strong rod should grow out of a weak
vine; but so it had been in Israel, through God's extraordinary blessing,
in times past. Though the nation is spoken of here, and frequently
elsewhere, as weak and helpless in itself and entirely dependent as a
vine, that is the weakest of all trees, that can't support itself by its
own strength, and never stands but as it leans on or hangs by something
else that is stronger than itself; yet God had caused many of her sons to
be strong rods, fit for sceptres; he had raised up in Israel many able and
excellent princes and magistrates in days past, that had done worthily in
their day.


[Illustration: THE MEETING-HOUSE AT NORTHAMPTON IN WHICH EDWARDS PREACHED.
ERECTED 1737.]


3. It should be understood and observed what is meant by these strong rods
being _broken and withered_, viz., these able and excellent rulers being
removed by death. Man's dying is often compared in Scripture to the
withering of the growth of the earth.

4. It should be observed _after what manner_ the breaking and withering of
these strong rods is here spoken of, viz., as a great and awful calamity
that God had brought upon that people. 'Tis spoken of as one of the chief
effects of God's fury and dreadful displeasure against them. "But she was
plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind
dried up her fruit; her strong rods were broken and withered, the fire
hath consumed them." The great benefits she enjoyed while her strong rods
remained are represented in the preceding verse: "And she had strong rods
for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among
the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of
her branches." And the terrible calamities that attended the breaking and
withering of her strong rods, are represented in the two verses next
following the text: "And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry
and thirsty ground. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which
hath devoured her fruit." And in the conclusion in the next words is very
emphatically declared the worthiness of such a dispensation to be greatly
lamented: "So that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is
a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation."

That which I therefore observe from the words of the text to be the
subject of discourse at this time, is this:

     _When God by death removes from a people those in place of public
     authority and rule that have been as strong rods, 'tis an awful
     judgment of God on that people, and worthy of great lamentation._

In discoursing on this proposition, I would,

I. Show what kind of rulers may fitly be called strong rods.

II. Show why the removal of such rulers from a people, by death, is to be
looked upon as an awful judgment of God on that people, and is greatly to
be lamented.

I. I would observe what qualifications of those who are in public
authority and rule may properly give them the denomination of _strong
rods_.

1. One qualification of rulers whence they may properly be denominated
strong rods is _great ability for the management of public affairs_. When
they that stand in place of public authority are men of great natural
abilities, when they are men of uncommon strength of reason and largeness
of understanding; especially when they have remarkably a genius for
government, a peculiar turn of mind fitting them to gain an extraordinary
understanding in things of that nature, giving ability, in an especial
manner, for insight into the mysteries of government, and discerning those
things wherein the public welfare or calamity consists and the proper
means to avoid the one and promote the other; an extraordinary talent at
distinguishing what is right and just from that which is wrong and
unequal, and to see through the false colors with which injustice is often
disguised, and unravel the false, subtle arguments and cunning sophistry
that is often made use of to defend iniquity; and when they have not only
great natural abilities in these respects, but when their abilities and
talents have been improved by study, learning, observation and
experience; and when by these means they have obtained great actual
knowledge; when they have acquired great skill in public affairs and
things requisite to be known in order to their wise, prudent, and
effectual management; when they have obtained a great understanding of men
and things, a great knowledge of human nature and of the way of
accommodating themselves to it, so as most effectually to influence it to
wise purposes; when they have obtained a very extensive knowledge of men
with whom they are concerned in the management of public affairs, either
those that have a joint concern in government or those that are to be
governed; and when they have also obtained a very full and particular
understanding of the state and circumstances of the country or people that
they have the care of, and know well their laws and constitution and what
their circumstances require; and likewise have a great knowledge of the
people of neighbor nations, states, or provinces with whom they have
occasion to be concerned in the management of public affairs committed to
them; these things all contribute to the rendering those that are in
authority fit to be denominated strong rods.

2. When they have not only great understanding but _largeness of heart and
a greatness and nobleness of disposition_, this is another qualification
that belongs to the character of a strong rod.

Those that are by divine Providence set in places of public authority and
rule are called _gods_, and _sons of the Most High_, Psalm lxxxii. 6. And
therefore 'tis peculiarly unbecoming them to be of a mean spirit, a
disposition that will admit of their doing those things that are sordid
and vile; as when they are persons of a narrow, private spirit, that may
be found in little tricks and intrigues to promote their private interest,
will shamefully defile their hands to gain a few pounds, are not ashamed
to nip and bite others, grind the faces of the poor and screw upon their
neighbors, and will take advantage of their authority or commission to
line their own pockets with what is fraudulently taken or withheld from
others. When a man in authority is of such a mean spirit, it weakens his
authority and makes him justly contemptible in the eyes of men and is
utterly inconsistent with his being a _strong rod_.

But on the contrary, it greatly establishes his authority, and causes
others to stand in awe of him, when they see him to be a man of greatness
of mind, one that abhors those things that are mean and sordid, and not
capable of a compliance with them; one that is of a public spirit, and not
of a private, narrow disposition; a man of honor, and not a man of mean
artifice and clandestine management for filthy lucre, and one that abhors
trifling and impertinence, or to waste away his time, that should be spent
in the service of God, his king, or his country, in vain amusements and
diversions and in the pursuit of the gratifications of sensual appetites;
as God charges the rulers in Israel, that pretended to be their great and
mighty men, with being mighty to drink wine and men of strength to mingle
strong drink. There don't seem to be any reference to their being men of
strong heads and able to bear a great deal of strong drink, as some have
supposed. There is a severe sarcasm in the words; for the prophet is
speaking of the great men, princes and judges in Israel (as appears by the
verse next following), which should be mighty men, strong rods, men of
eminent qualifications, excelling in nobleness of spirit, of glorious
strength and fortitude of mind; but instead of that, they were mighty or
eminent for nothing but gluttony and drunkenness.

3. When those that are in authority are endowed with much of _a spirit of
government_, this is another thing that entitles them to the denomination
of strong rods. When they not only are men of great understanding and
wisdom in affairs that appertain to government, but have also a peculiar
talent at using their knowledge and exerting themselves in this great and
important business, according to their great understanding in it; when
they are men of eminent fortitude and are not afraid of the faces of men,
are not afraid to do the part that properly belongs to them as rulers,
though they meet with great opposition, and the spirits of men are greatly
irritated by it; when they have a spirit of resolution and activity, so as
to keep the wheels of government in proper motion and to cause judgment
and justice to run down as a mighty stream; when they have not only a
great knowledge of government and the things that belong to it in the
theory, but it is, as it were, natural to them to apply the various powers
and faculties with which God has endowed them, and the knowledge they have
obtained by study and observation, to that business, so as to perform it
most advantageously and effectually.

4. _Stability and firmness of integrity, fidelity and piety in the
exercise of authority_ is another thing that greatly contributes to, and
is very essential in, the character of a strong rod.

When he that is in authority is not only a man of strong reason and great
discerning to know what is just, but is a man of strict integrity and
righteousness, is firm and immovable in the execution of justice and
judgment; and when he is not only a man of great ability to bear down vice
and immorality, but has a disposition agreeable to such ability; is one
that has a strong aversion to wickedness and is disposed to use the power
God has put into his hands to suppress it; and is one that not only
opposes vice by his authority, but by his example; when he is one of
inflexible fidelity, will be faithful to God whose minister he is to his
people for good, is immovable in his regard to his supreme authority, his
commands and his glory, and will be faithful to his king and country; will
not be induced by the many temptations that attend the business of men in
public authority basely to betray his trust; will not consent to do what
he thinks not to be for the public good for his own gain or advancement,
or any private interest; is one that is well principled, and is firm in
acting agreeably to his principles, and will not be prevailed with to do
otherwise through fear or favor, to follow a multitude, or to maintain his
interest in any on whom he depends for the honor or profit of his place,
whether it be prince or people; and is also one of that strength of mind,
whereby he rules his own spirit,--these things do very eminently
contribute to a ruler's title to the denomination of a _strong rod_.

5. And lastly, it also contributes to the strength of a man in authority
by which he may be denominated a _strong rod_, when he is in _such
circumstances as give him advantage_ for the exercise of his strength for
the public good; as his being a person of honorable descent, of a
distinguished education, his being a man of estate, one that is advanced
in years, one that has long been in authority, so that it is become, as it
were, natural for the people to pay him deference, to reverence him, to be
influenced and governed by him and submit to his authority; his being
extensively known and much honored and regarded abroad; his being one of a
good presence, majesty of countenance, decency of behavior, becoming one
in authority; of forcible speech, &c. These things add to his strength and
increase his ability and advantage to serve his generation in the place of
a ruler, and therefore in some respect serve to render him one that is the
more fitly and eminently called a _strong rod_.

I now proceed,

II. To show that when such strong rods are broken and withered by death,
'tis an awful judgment of God on the people that are deprived of them and
worthy of great lamentation.

And that on two accounts:

1. By reason of the many _positive benefits_ and blessings to a people
that such rulers are the instruments of.

Almost all the prosperity of a public society and civil community does,
under God, depend on their rulers. They are like the main springs or
wheels in a machine that keep every part in their due motion, and are in
the body politic, as the vitals in the body natural, and as the pillars
and foundation in a building. Civil rulers are called "the foundations of
the earth," Psalm lxxxii. 5, and xi. 3.

The prosperity of a people depends more on their rulers than is commonly
imagined. As they have the public society under their care and power, so
they have advantage to promote the public interest every way; and if they
are such rulers as have been spoken of, they are some of the greatest
blessings to the public. Their influence has a tendency to promote their
wealth and cause their temporal possessions and blessings to abound: and
to promote virtue amongst them, and so to unite them one to another in
peace and mutual benevolence, and make them happy in society, each one the
instrument of his neighbor's quietness, comfort and prosperity; and by
these means to advance their reputation and honor in the world; and which
is much more, to promote their spiritual and eternal happiness. Therefore,
the wise man says, Eccles. x. 17, "Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king
is the son of nobles."

We have a remarkable instance and evidence of the happy and great
influence of such a strong rod as has been described to promote the
universal prosperity of a people in the history of the reign of Solomon,
though many of the people were uneasy under his government, and thought
him too rigorous in his administration (see 1 Kings xii. 4). "Judah and
Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, from
Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon," 1 Kings iv. 25. "And he
made silver to be among them as stones for abundance," chap x. 27. "And
Judah and Israel were many, eating and drinking and making merry," [chap.
iv. 20]. The queen of Sheba admired and was greatly affected with the
happiness of the people under the government of such a strong rod: 1 Kings
x. 8, 9, says she, "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants which
stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the
Lord thy God which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel;
because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore made he thee king, to do
judgment and justice."

The flourishing state of the kingdom of Judah, while they had strong rods
for the sceptres of them that bare rule, is taken notice of in our
context: "Her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she
appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches."

Such rulers are eminently the ministers of God to his people for good:
they are great gifts of the Most High to a people and blessed tokens of
his favor and vehicles of his goodness to them, and therein images of his
own Son, the grand medium of all God's goodness to fallen mankind: and
therefore, all of them are called _sons of the Most High_. All civil
rulers, if they are, as they ought to be, such strong rods as have been
described, will be like the Son of the Most High, vehicles of good to
mankind, and like him, will be as the light of the morning when the sun
riseth, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springeth out
of the earth, by clear shining after rain. And therefore, when a people
are bereaved of them, they sustain an unspeakable loss and are the
subjects of a judgment of God that is greatly to be lamented.

2. On account of the _great calamities_ such rulers are _a defence from_.
Innumerable are the grievous and fatal calamities which public societies
are exposed to in this evil world, which they can have no defence from
without order and authority. If a people are without government, they are
like a city broken down and without walls, encompassed on every side by
enemies and become unavoidably subject to all manner of confusion and
misery.

Government is necessary to _defend communities from miseries from within
themselves_; from the prevalence of intestine discord, mutual injustice
and violence; the members of the society continually making a prey one of
another, without any defence one from another. Rulers are the heads of
union in public societies, that hold the parts together; without which
nothing else is to be expected than that the members of the society will
be continually divided against themselves, every one acting the part of an
enemy to his neighbor, every one's hand against every man and every man's
hand against him; going on in remediless and endless broils and jarring
till the society be utterly dissolved and broken in pieces and life
itself, in the neighborhood of our fellow creatures, becomes miserable and
intolerable.

We may see the need of government in societies by what is visible in
families, those lesser societies of which all public societies are
constituted. How miserable would these little societies be, if all were
left to themselves, without any authority or superiority in one above
another or any head of union and influence among them? We may be convinced
by what we see of the lamentable consequences of the want of a proper
exercise of authority and maintenance of government in families that yet
are not absolutely without all authority. No less need is there of
government in public societies, but much more, as they are larger. A very
few may possibly, without any government, act by concert, so as to concur
in what shall be for the welfare of the whole; but this is not to be
expected among a multitude, constituted of many thousands, of a great
variety of tempers, and different interests.

As government is absolutely necessary, so there is a necessity of _strong
rods_ in order to it: the business being such as requires persons so
qualified: no other being sufficient for, or well capable of the
government of, public societies: and therefore, those public societies are
miserable that have not such strong rods for sceptres to rule: Eccles. x.
16, "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child."

As government, and strong rods for the exercise of it, are necessary to
preserve public societies from dreadful and fatal calamities arising from
among themselves; so no less requisite are they to _defend the community
from foreign enemies_. As they are like the pillars of a building, so they
are also like the walls and bulwarks of a city: they are under God the
main strength of a people in a time of war and the chief instruments of
their preservation, safety and rest. This is signified in a very lively
manner in the words that are used by the Jewish community in her
Lamentations to express the expectations she had from her princes: Lam.
iv. 29, "The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken
in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the
heathen." In this respect also such strong rods are sons of the Most High
and images or resemblances of the Son of God, viz., as they are their
saviours from their enemies; as the judges that God raised up of old in
Israel are called, Nehem. ix. 27: "Therefore thou deliveredst them into
the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their
trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and
according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved
them out of the hand of their enemies."

Thus both the prosperity and safety of a people under God, depends on such
rulers as are _strong rods_. While they enjoy such blessings, they are
wont to be like a vine planted in a fruitful soil, with her stature
exalted among the thick branches, appearing in her height with the
multitude of her branches; but when they have no strong rod to be a
sceptre to rule, they are like a vine planted in a wilderness that is
exposed to be plucked up and cast down to the ground, to have her fruit
dried up with the east wind, and to have fire coming out of her own
branches to devour her fruit.

On these accounts, when a people's strong rods are broken and withered,
'tis an awful judgment of God on that people, and worthy of great
lamentation: as when King Josiah (who was doubtless one of the strong rods
referred to in the text) was dead, the people made great lamentation for
him, 2 Chron. xxxv. 24, 25: "And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he
died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all
Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah:
and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their
lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and,
behold, they are written in the Lamentations."


APPLICATION

I come now to apply these things to our own case, under the late awful
frown of divine Providence upon us in removing by death that honorable
person in public rule and authority, an inhabitant of this town and
belonging to this congregation and church, who died at Boston the last
Lord's day.

He was eminently a _strong rod_ in the forementioned respects. As to his
natural abilities, strength of reason, greatness and clearness of
discerning and depth of penetration, he was one of the first rank: it may
be doubted whether he has left his superior in these respects in these
parts of the world. He was a man of a truly great genius, and his genius
was peculiarly fitted for the understanding and managing of public
affairs.

And as his natural capacity was great, so was the knowledge that he had
acquired, his understanding being greatly improved by close application of
mind to those things he was called to be concerned in, and by a very exact
observation of them and long experience in them. He had indeed a great
insight into the nature of public societies, the mysteries of government
and the affairs of peace and war: he had a discerning that very few have
of the things wherein the public weal consists, and what those things are
that do expose public societies, and of the proper means to avoid the
latter and promote the former. He was quick in his discerning, in that in
most cases, especially such as belonged to his proper business, he at
first sight would see further than most men when they had done their best;
but yet he had a wonderful faculty of improving his own thoughts by
meditation, and carrying his views a greater and greater length by long
and close application of mind. He had an extraordinary ability to
distinguish right and wrong in the midst of intricacies and circumstances
that tended to perplex and darken the case: he was able to weigh things,
as it were, in a balance, and to distinguish those things that were solid
and weighty from those that had only a fair show without substance, which
he evidently discovered in his accurate, clear and plain way of stating
and committing causes to a jury, from the bench, as by others hath been
observed. He wonderfully distinguished truth from falsehood, and the most
labored cases seemed always to lie clear in his mind, his ideas properly
ranged--and he had a talent of communicating them to every one's
understanding, beyond almost any one; and if any were misguided, it was
not because truth and falsehood, right and wrong, were not well
distinguished.

He was probably one of the ablest politicians that ever New England bred:
he had a very uncommon insight into human nature, and a marvellous ability
to penetrate into the particular tempers and dispositions of such as he
had to deal with, and to discern the fittest way of treating them, so as
most effectually to influence them to any good and wise purpose.

And never perhaps was there a person that had a more extensive and
thorough knowledge of the state of this land and its public affairs, and
of persons that were jointly concerned in them: he knew this people and
their circumstances, and what their circumstances required: he discerned
the diseases of this body, and what were the proper remedies, as an able
and masterly physician. He had a great acquaintance with the neighboring
colonies, and also the neighbor nations on this continent, with whom we
are concerned in our public affairs: he had a far greater knowledge than
any other person in the land of the several nations of Indians in these
northern parts of America, their tempers, manners and the proper way of
treating them, and was more extensively known by them than any other
person in the country: and no other person in authority in this province
had such an acquaintance with the people and country of Canada, the land
of our enemies, as he.

He was exceeding far from a disposition and forwardness to intermeddle
with other people's business; but as to what belonged to the offices he
sustained and the important affairs that he had the care of, he had a
great understanding of what belonged to them. I have often been surprised
at the length of his reach, and what I have seen of his ability to foresee
and determine the consequences of things, even at a great distance, and
quite beyond the sight of other men. He was not wavering and unsteady in
his opinion: his manner was never to pass a judgment rashly, but was wont
first thoroughly to deliberate and weigh an affair; and in this,
notwithstanding his great abilities, he was glad to improve [by] the help
of conversation and discourse with others, and often spake of the great
advantage he found by it; but when, on mature consideration, he had
settled his judgment, he was not easily turned from it by false colors and
plausible pretences and appearances.

And besides his knowledge of things belonging to his particular calling as
a ruler, he had also a great degree of understanding in things belonging
to his general calling as a Christian. He was no inconsiderable divine. He
was a wise casuist, as I know by the great help I have found from time to
time by his judgment and advice in cases of conscience wherein I have
consulted him: and indeed I scarce knew the divine that I ever found more
able to help and enlighten the mind in such cases than he. And he had no
small degree of knowledge in things pertaining to experimental religion;
but was wont to discourse on such subjects, not only with accurate
doctrinal distinctions, but as one intimately and feelingly acquainted
with these things.

He was not only great in speculative knowledge, but his knowledge was
practical; such as tended to a wise conduct in the affairs, business and
duties of life; so as properly to have the denomination of wisdom, and so
as properly and eminently to invest him with the character of a wise man.
And he was not only eminently wise and prudent in his own conduct, but was
one of the ablest and wisest counsellors of others in any difficult
affair.

The greatness and honorableness of his disposition was answerable to the
largeness of his understanding. He was naturally of a great mind. In this
respect he was truly the _son of nobles_. He greatly abhorred things which
were mean and sordid, and seemed to be incapable of a compliance with
them. How far was he from trifling and impertinence in his conversation!
How far from a busy, meddling disposition! How far from any sly and
clandestine management to fill his pockets with what was fraudulently
withheld or violently squeezed from the laborer, soldier or inferior
officer! How far from taking advantage from his commission or authority or
any superior power he had in his hands, or the ignorance, dependence or
necessities of others, to add to his own gains with what property belonged
to them, and with what they might justly expect as a proper reward for any
of their services! How far was he from secretly taking bribes offered to
induce him to favor any man in his cause, or by his power or interest to
promote his being advanced to any place of public trust, honor or profit!
How greatly did he abhor lying and prevaricating! And how immovably
steadfast was he to exact truth! His hatred of those things that were mean
and sordid was so apparent and well known, that it was evident that men
dreaded to appear in any thing of that nature in his presence.

He was a man remarkably of a public spirit, a true lover of his country
and greatly abhorred the sacrificing the public welfare to private
interest.

He was very eminently endowed with a spirit of government. The God of
nature seemed to have formed him for government, as though he had been
made on purpose, and cast into a mould by which he should be every way
fitted for the business of a man in public authority. Such a behavior and
conduct was natural to him as tended to maintain his authority and possess
others with awe and reverence, and to enforce and render effectual what he
said and did in the exercise of his authority. He did not _bear the sword
in vain_: he was truly a _terror to evil doers_. What I saw in him often
put me in mind of that saying of the wise man, Prov. xx. 8, "The king that
sitteth on the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes."
He was one that was not afraid of the faces of men; and every one knew
that it was in vain to attempt to deter him from doing what, on mature
consideration, he had determined he ought to do. Every thing in him was
great and becoming a man in his public station. Perhaps never was there a
man that appeared in New England to whom the denomination of a _great man_
did more properly belong.

But though he was one that was great among men, exalted above others in
abilities and greatness of mind and in place of rule, and feared not the
faces of men, yet he feared God. He was strictly conscientious in his
conduct, both in public and private. I never knew the man that seemed more
steadfastly and immovably to act by principle and according to rules and
maxims, established and settled in his mind by the dictates of his
judgment and conscience. He was a man of strict justice and fidelity.
Faithfulness was eminently his character. Some of his greatest opponents
that have been of the contrary party to him in public affairs, yet have
openly acknowledged this of him, that he was a faithful man. He was
remarkably faithful in his public trusts: he would not basely betray his
trust, from fear or favor. It was in vain to expect it, however men might
oppose him or neglect him, and how great soever they were. Nor would he
neglect the public interest, wherein committed to him, for the sake of his
own ease, but diligently and laboriously watched and labored for it night
and day. And he was faithful in private affairs as well as public: he was
a most faithful friend, faithful to any one that in any case asked his
counsel; and his fidelity might be depended on in whatever affair he
undertook for any of his neighbors.

He was a noted instance of the virtue of temperance, unalterable in it, in
all places, in all companies, and in the midst of all temptations.

Though he was a man of a great spirit, yet he had a remarkable government
of his spirit; and excelled in the government of his tongue. In the midst
of all provocations he met with, among the multitudes he had to deal with,
and the great multiplicity of perplexing affairs in which he was
concerned, and all the opposition and reproaches he was at any time the
subject of; yet what was there that ever proceeded out of his mouth that
his enemies could lay hold of? No profane language, no vain, rash,
unseemly and unchristian speeches. If at any time he expressed himself
with great warmth and vigor, it seemed to be from principle and
determination of his judgment, rather than from passion. When he expressed
himself strongly and with vehemence, those that were acquainted with him,
and well observed him from time to time, might evidently see it was done
in consequence of thought and judgment, weighing the circumstances and
consequences of things.

The calmness and steadiness of his behavior in private, particularly in
his family, appeared remarkable and exemplary to those who had most
opportunity to observe it.

He was thoroughly established in those religious principles and doctrines
of the first fathers of New England, usually called the _doctrines of
grace_, and had a great detestation of the opposite errors of the present
fashionable divinity, as very contrary to the word of God and the
experience of every true Christian. And as he was a friend to truth, so he
was a friend to vital piety and the power of godliness, and ever
countenanced and favored it on all occasions.

He abhorred profaneness, and was a person of a serious and decent spirit,
and ever treated sacred things with reverence. He was exemplary for his
decent attendance on the public worship of God. Who ever saw him
irreverently and indecently lolling and laying down his head to sleep, or
gazing and staring about the meeting-house in time of divine service? And
as he was able (as was before observed) to discourse very understandingly
of experimental religion, so to some persons with whom he was very
intimate, he gave intimations sufficiently plain, while conversing of
these things, that they were matters of his own experience. And some
serious persons in civil authority that have ordinarily differed from him
in matters of government, yet, on some occasional close conversation with
him on things of religion, have manifested a high opinion of him as to
real experimental piety.

As he was known to be a serious person, and an enemy to a profane or vain
conversation, so he was feared on that account by great and small. When he
was in the room, only his presence was sufficient to maintain decency;
though many were there that were accounted gentlemen and great men, who
otherwise were disposed to take a much greater freedom in their talk and
behavior than they dared to do in his presence.

He was not unmindful of death, nor insensible of his own frailty, nor did
death come unexpected to him. For some years past he has spoken much to
some persons of dying and going into the eternal world, signifying that he
did not expect to continue long here.

Added to all these things that have been mentioned to render him eminently
a _strong rod_, he was attended with many circumstances which tended to
give him advantage for the exerting of his strength for the public good.
He was honorably descended, was a man of considerable substance, had been
long in authority, was extensively known and honored abroad, was high in
the esteem of the many tribes of Indians in the neighborhood of the
British colonies, and so had great influence upon them above any other man
in New England; God had endowed him with a comely presence and majesty of
countenance, becoming the great qualities of his mind and the place in
which God had set him.

In the exercise of these qualities and endowments, under these advantages,
he has been, as it were, a father to this part of the land, on whom the
whole county had, under God, its dependence in all its public affairs, and
especially since the beginning of the present war.° How much the weight of
all the warlike concerns of the county (which above any part of the land
lies exposed to the enemy) has lain on his shoulders, and how he has been
the spring of all motion and the doer of every thing that has been done,
and how wisely and faithfully he has conducted these affairs, I need not
inform this congregation. You well know that he took care of the county as
a father of a family of children, not neglecting men's lives and making
light of their blood; but with great diligence, vigilance and prudence
applying himself continually to the proper means of our safety and
welfare. And especially has this his native town, where he has dwelt from
his infancy, reaped the benefit of his happy influence: his wisdom has
been, under God, very much our guide, and his authority our support and
strength, and he has been a great honor to Northampton and ornament to our
church.

He continued in full capacity of usefulness while he lived; he was indeed
considerably advanced in years, but his powers of mind were not sensibly
abated, and his strength of body was not so impaired but that he was able
to go long journeys, in extreme heat and cold, and in a short time.

But now this "strong rod is broken and withered," and surely the judgment
of God therein is very awful, and the dispensation that which may well be
for a lamentation. Probably we shall be more sensible of the worth and
importance of such a strong rod by the want of it. The awful voice of God
in this providence is worthy to be attended to by this whole province, and
especially by the people of this county, but in a more peculiar manner by
us of this town. We have now this testimony of the divine displeasure
added to all the other dark clouds God has lately brought over us, and his
awful frowns upon us. 'Tis a dispensation, on many accounts, greatly
calling for our humiliation and fear before God; an awful manifestation of
his supreme, universal and absolute dominion, calling us to adore the
divine sovereignty and tremble at the presence of this great God. And it
is a lively instance of human frailty and mortality. We see how that none
are out of the reach of death, that no greatness, no authority, no wisdom
and sagacity, no honorableness of person or station, no degree of
valuableness and importance exempts from the stroke of death. This is
therefore a loud and solemn warning to all sorts to prepare for their
departure hence.

And the memory of this person who is now gone, who was made so great a
blessing while he lived, should engage us to show respect and kindness to
his family. This we should do both out of respect to him and to his
father, your former eminent pastor, who in his day was, in a remarkable
manner, a father to this part of the land in spirituals, and especially to
this town, as this his son has been in temporals.--God greatly resented
it, when the children of Israel did not show kindness to the house of
Jerubbaal that had been made an instrument of so much good to them: Judges
viii. 35, "Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerrubbaal,
according to all the good which he had showed unto Israel."



VII

A FAREWELL SERMON°

2 COR. i. 14.--As also you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your
rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.


The apostle, in the preceding part of the chapter, declares what great
troubles he met with in the course of his ministry. In the text and two
foregoing verses, he declares what were his comforts and supports under
the troubles he met with. There are four things in particular.

1. That he had approved himself to his own conscience, verse 12: "For our
own rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity
and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we
have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward."

2. Another thing he speaks of as matter of comfort is, that as he had
approved himself to his own conscience, so he had also to the consciences
of his hearers, the Corinthians, whom he now wrote to, and that they
should approve of him at the day of judgment.

3. The hope he had of seeing the blessed fruit of his labors and
sufferings in the ministry, in their happiness and glory, in that great
day of accounts.

4. That, in his ministry among the Corinthians, he had approved himself to
his Judge, who would approve and reward his faithfulness in that day.

These three last particulars are signified in my text and the preceding
verse; and, indeed, all the four are implied in the text. 'Tis implied
that the Corinthians had acknowledged him as their spiritual father and
as one that had been faithful among them, and as the means of their future
joy and glory at the day of judgment, and one whom they should then see,
and have a joyful meeting with as such. 'Tis implied, that the apostle
expected at that time to have a joyful meeting with them before the Judge,
and with joy to behold their glory, as the fruit of his labors; and so
they would be his rejoicing. 'Tis implied also that he then expected to be
approved of the great Judge, when he and they should meet together before
him; and that he would then acknowledge his fidelity, and that this had
been the means of their glory; and that thus he would, as it were, give
them to him as his crown of rejoicing. But this the apostle could not hope
for, unless he had the testimony of his own conscience in his favor. And
therefore the words do imply, in the strongest manner, that he had
approved himself to his own conscience.

There is one thing implied in each of these particulars, and in every part
of the text, which is that point I shall make the subject of my present
discourse, viz.:


DOCT[RINE]

_Ministers, and the people that are under their care, must meet one
another before Christ's tribunal at the day of judgment._

Ministers, and the people that have been under their care, must be parted
in this world, how well soever they have been united: if they are not
separated before, they must be parted by death; and they may be separated
while life is continued. We live in a world of change, where nothing is
certain or stable; and where a little time, a few revolutions of the sun
bring to pass strange things, surprising alterations, in particular
persons, in families, in towns and churches, in countries and nations. It
often happens, that those who seem most united, in a little time are most
disunited, and at the greatest distance. Thus ministers and people,
between whom there has been the greatest mutual regard and strictest
union, may not only differ in their judgments, and be alienated in
affection, but one may rend from the other, and all relation between them
be dissolved; the minister may be removed to a distant place, and they may
never have any more to do with one another in this world. But if it be so,
there is one meeting more that they must have, and that is in the last
great day of accounts.

Here I would show,

I. In what manner ministers, and the people who have been under their
care, shall meet one another at the day of judgment.

II. For what purposes.

III. For what reasons God has so ordered it, that ministers and their
people shall then meet together in such a manner, and for such purposes.

I. I would show, in some particulars, in what manner ministers, and the
people who have been under their care, shall meet one another at the day
of judgment. Concerning this I would observe two things in general.

1. That they shall not then meet only as all mankind must then meet, but
there will be something peculiar in the manner of their meeting.

2. That their meeting together at that time shall be very different from
what used to be in the house of God in this world.

1. They shall not meet at that day as all the world must then meet
together. I would observe a difference in two things.

(1) As to a clear actual view, and distinct knowledge and notice of each
other.

Although the whole world will be then present, all mankind of all
generations gathered in one vast assembly, with all of the angelic nature,
both elect and fallen angels; yet we need not suppose that every one will
have a distinct and particular knowledge of each individual of the whole
assembled multitude, which will undoubtedly consist of many millions of
millions. Though 'tis probable that men's capacities will be much greater
than in the present state, yet they will not be infinite; though their
understanding and comprehension will be vastly extended, yet men will not
be deified. There will probably be a very enlarged view that particular
persons will have of various parts and members of that vast assembly, and
so of the proceedings of that great day; but yet it must needs be, that
according to the nature of finite minds, some persons and some things at
that day shall fall more under the notice of particular persons than
others; and this (as we may well suppose) according as they shall have a
nearer concern with some than others, in the transactions of the day.
There will be special reason why those who have had special concerns
together in this world, in their state of probation, and whose mutual
affairs will be then to be tried and judged, should especially be set in
one another's view. Thus we may suppose that rulers and subjects, earthly
judges and those whom they have judged, neighbors who have had mutual
converse, dealings and contests, heads of families and their children and
servants, shall then meet, and in a peculiar distinction be set together.
And especially will it be thus with ministers and their people. 'Tis
evident by the text that these shall be in each other's view, shall
distinctly know each other, and shall have particular notice one of
another at that time.

(2) They shall meet together, as having a special concern one with another
in the great transactions of that day.

Although they shall meet the whole world at that time, yet they will not
have any immediate and particular concern with all. Yea, the far greater
part of those who shall then be gathered together, will be such as they
have had no intercourse with in their state of probation, and so will have
no mutual concerns to be judged of. But as to ministers, and the people
that have been under their care, they will be such as have had much
immediate concern one with another, in matters of the greatest moment,
that ever mankind have to do one with another in. Therefore they
especially must meet and be brought together before the judge, as having
special concern one with another in the design and business of that great
day of accounts.

Thus their meeting, as to the manner of it, will be diverse from the
meeting of mankind in general.

2. Their meeting at the day of judgment will be very diverse from their
meetings one with another in this world.

Ministers and their people, while their relation continues, often meet
together in this world. They are wont to meet from Sabbath to Sabbath, and
at other times, for the public worship of God, and administration of
ordinances, and the solemn services of God's house. And besides these
meetings, they have also occasions to meet for the determining and
managing their ecclesiastical affairs, for the exercise of church
discipline, and the settling and adjusting those things which concern the
purity and good order of public administrations. But their meeting at the
day of judgment will be exceeding diverse, in its manner and circumstance,
from any such meetings and interviews as they have one with another in the
present state. I would observe how, in a few particulars.

(1) Now they meet together in a preparatory mutable state, but then in an
unchangeable state.

Now sinners in the congregation meet their minister in a state wherein
they are capable of a saving change, capable of being turned, through
God's blessing on the ministrations and labors of their pastor, from the
power of Satan unto God; and being brought out of a state of guilt,
condemnation and wrath, to a state of peace and favor with God, to the
enjoyment of the privileges of his children, and a title to their eternal
inheritance. And saints now meet their minister with great remains of
corruption, and sometimes under great spiritual difficulties and
affliction: and therefore are yet the proper subjects of means of an happy
alteration of their state, consisting in a greater freedom from these
things, which they have reason to hope for in the way of an attendance on
ordinances, and of which God is pleased commonly to make his ministers the
instruments. And ministers and their people now meet in order to the
bringing to pass such happy changes; they are the great benefits sought in
their solemn meetings in this world.

But when they shall meet together at the day of judgment, it will be far
otherwise. They will not then meet in order to the use of means for the
bringing to effect any such changes; for they will all meet in an
unchangeable state. Sinners will be in an unchangeable state: they who
then shall be under the guilt and power of sin, and have the wrath of God
abiding on them, shall be beyond all remedy or possibility of change, and
shall meet their ministers without any hopes of relief or remedy, or
getting any good by their means. And as for the saints, they will be
already perfectly delivered from all their before remaining corruption,
temptation, and calamities of every kind, and set forever out of their
reach; and no deliverance, no happy alteration, will remain to be
accomplished in the way of the use of means of grace, under the
administrations of ministers. It will then be pronounced, "He that is
unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy
still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that
is holy, let him be holy still."

(2) Then they shall meet together in a state of clear, certain and
infallible light.

Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in Scripture
as lights set up in the churches; and in the present state meet their
people from time to time in order to instruct and enlighten them, to
correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn
aside to the right hand or to the left, saying, "This is the way, walk in
it;" to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of
it, and to refute errors and corrupt opinions, to convince the erroneous
and establish the doubting. But when Christ shall come to judgment, every
error and false opinion shall be detected; all deceit and illusion shall
vanish away before the light of that day, as the darkness of the night
vanishes at the appearance of the rising sun; and every doctrine of the
word of God shall then appear in full evidence, and none shall remain
unconvinced; all shall know the truth with the greatest certainty, and
there shall be no mistakes to rectify.

Now ministers and their people may disagree in their judgments concerning
some matters of religion, and may sometimes meet to confer together
concerning those things wherein they differ, and to hear the reasons that
may be offered on one side and the other; and all may be ineffectual as to
any conviction of the truth: they may meet and part again, no more agreed
than before; and that side which was in the wrong may remain so still;
sometimes the meetings of ministers with their people in such a case of
disagreeing sentiments are attended with unhappy debate and controversy,
managed with much prejudice and want of candor; not tending to light and
conviction, but rather to confirm and increase darkness, and establish
opposition to the truth and alienation of affection one from another. But
when they shall hereafter meet together, at the day of judgment, before
the tribunal of the great Judge, the mind and will of Christ will be made
known; and there shall no longer be any debate or difference of opinions;
the evidence of the truth shall appear beyond all dispute, and all
controversies shall be finally and forever decided.

Now ministers meet their people in order to enlighten and awaken the
consciences of sinners: setting before them the great evil and danger of
sin, the strictness of God's law, their own wickedness of heart and
practice, the great guilt they are under, the wrath that abides upon them,
and their impotence, blindness, poverty, and helpless and undone
condition: but all is often in vain; they remain still, notwithstanding
all their ministers can say, stupid and unawakened, and their consciences
unconvinced. But it will not be so at their last meeting at the day of
judgment; sinners, when they shall meet their minister before their great
Judge, will not meet him with a stupid conscience: they will then be fully
convinced of the truth of those things which they formerly heard from him,
concerning the greatness and terrible majesty of God, his holiness, and
hatred of sin, and his awful justice in punishing it, the strictness of
his law, and the dreadfulness and truth of his threatenings, and their own
unspeakable guilt and misery: and they shall never more be insensible of
these things: the eyes of conscience will now be fully enlightened, and
never shall be blinded again: the mouth of conscience shall now be opened,
and never shall be shut any more.

Now ministers meet with their people, in public and private, in order to
enlighten them concerning the state of their souls; to open and apply the
rules of God's word to them, in order to their searching their own hearts,
and discerning the state that they are in. But now ministers have no
infallible discerning of the state of the souls of their own people; and
the most skilful of them are liable to mistakes, and often are mistaken in
things of this nature. Nor are the people able certainly to know the state
of their minister, or one another's state; very often those pass among
them for saints, and it may be eminent saints, that are grand hypocrites;
and on the other hand, those are sometimes censured, or hardly received
into their charity, that are indeed some of God's jewels. And nothing is
more common than for men to be mistaken concerning their own state: many
that are abominable to God, and the children of his wrath, think highly
of themselves, as his precious saints and dear children. Yea, there is
reason to think that often some that are most bold in their confidence of
their safe and happy state, and think themselves not only true saints, but
the most eminent saints in the congregation, are in a peculiar manner a
smoke in God's nose. And thus it undoubtedly often is in those
congregations where the word of God is most faithfully dispensed,
notwithstanding all that ministers can say in their clearest explications
and most searching applications of the doctrines and rules of God's word
to the souls of their hearers, in their meetings one with another. But in
the day of judgment they shall have another sort of meeting; then the
secrets of every heart shall be made manifest, and every man's state shall
be perfectly known: 1 Cor. iv. 5, "Therefore, judge nothing before the
time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things
of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then
shall every man have praise of God." Then none shall be deceived
concerning his own state, nor shall be any more in doubt about it. There
shall be an eternal end to all the ill conceit and vain hopes of deluded
hypocrites, and all the doubts and fears of sincere Christians. And then
shall all know the state of one another's souls: the people shall know
whether their minister has been sincere and faithful, and the ministers
shall know the state of every one of their people, and to whom the word
and ordinances of God have been a savor of life unto life, and to whom a
savor of death unto death.

Now in this present state it often happens that when ministers and people
meet together to debate and manage their ecclesiastical affairs,
especially in a state of controversy, they are ready to judge and censure
one another with regard to each other's views and designs, and the
principles and ends that each is influenced by; and are greatly mistaken
in their judgment, and wrong one another with regard to each other's views
and designs and the principles and ends that each is influenced by, and
are greatly mistaken in their judgment, and wrong one another in their
censures. But at that future meeting, things will be set in a true and
perfect light, and the principles and aims that every one has acted from
shall be certainly known; and there will be an end to all errors of this
kind, and all unrighteous censures.

(3) In this world, ministers and their people often meet together to hear
of and wait upon an unseen Lord; but at the day of judgment they shall
meet in his most immediate and visible presence.

Ministers, who now often meet their people to preach to 'em the King
eternal, immortal, and invisible, to convince 'em that there is a God, and
declare to 'em what manner of being he is, and to convince 'em that he
governs and will judge the world, and that there is a future state of
rewards and punishments, and to preach to 'em a Christ in heaven and at
the right hand of God in an unseen world, shall then meet their people in
the most immediate sensible presence of this great God, Saviour and Judge,
appearing in the most plain, visible and open manner, with great glory,
with all his holy angels, before them and the whole world. They shall not
meet them to hear about an absent Christ, an unseen Lord and future Judge;
but to appear before that Judge, and as being set together in the presence
of that supreme Lord, in his immense glory and awful majesty, whom they
have heard so often of in their meetings together on earth.

(4) The meeting, at the last day, of ministers, and the people that have
been under their care, will not be attended by any one with a careless,
heedless heart.

With such an heart are their meetings often attended in this world by many
persons, having little regard to him whom they pretend unitedly to adore
in the solemn duties of his public worship, taking little heed to their
own thoughts or frame of their minds, not attending to the business they
are engaged in, or considering the end for which they are come together.
But the meeting at that great day will be very different: there will not
be one careless heart, no sleeping, no wandering of mind from the great
concern of the meeting, no inattentiveness to the business of the day, no
regardlessness of the presence they are in, or of those great things which
they shall hear from Christ at that meeting, or that they formerly heard
from him and of him by their ministers, in their meeting in a state of
trial, or which they shall now hear their ministers declaring concerning
them before their judge.

Having observed these things concerning the manner and circumstances of
this future meeting of ministers and the people that have been under their
care, before the tribunal of Christ at the day of judgment, I now proceed,

II. To observe to what purposes they shall then meet.

1. To give an account, before the great Judge, of their behavior one to
another in the relation they stood in to each other in this world.

Ministers are sent forth by Christ to their people on his business, are
his servants and messengers; and, when they have finished their service,
they must return to their master to give him an account of what they have
done, and of the entertainment they have had in performing their ministry.
Thus we find, in Luke xiv. 16-21, that when the servant who was sent forth
to call the guests to the great supper had done his errand, and finished
his appointed service, he returned to his master, and gave him an account
of what he had done, and of the entertainment he had received. And when
the master, being angry, sent his servant to others, he returns again, and
gives his master an account of his conduct and success. So we read, in
Heb. xiii. 17, of ministers being rulers in the house of God, "that watch
for souls, as those that must give account." And we see by the
forementioned Luke xiv., that ministers must give an account to their
master, not only of their own behavior in the discharge of their office,
but also of their people's reception of them, and of the treatment they
have met with among them.

And therefore, as they will be called to give an account of both, they
shall give an account at the great day of accounts in the presence of
their people; they and their people being both present before their Judge.

Faithful ministers will then give an account with joy, concerning those
who have received them well and made a good improvement of their ministry;
and these will be given 'em, at that day, as their crown of rejoicing.
And, at the same time, they will give an account of the ill treatment of
such as have not well received them and their messages from Christ: they
will meet these, not as they used to do in this world, to counsel and warn
them, but to bear witness against them, and as their judges and assessors
with Christ, to condemn them. And on the other hand, the people will, at
that day, rise up in judgment against wicked and unfaithful ministers who
have sought their own temporal interest more than the good of the souls of
their flock.

2. At that time ministers, and the people who have been under their care,
shall meet together before Christ, that he may judge between them, as to
any controversies which have subsisted between them in this world.

So it very often comes to pass in this evil world, that great differences
and controversies arise between ministers and the people that are under
their pastoral care. Though they are under the greatest obligations to
live in peace, above persons in almost any relation whatever; and although
contests and dissensions between persons so related are the most unhappy
and terrible in their consequences, on many accounts, of any sort of
contentions; yet how frequent have such contentions been! Sometimes a
people contest with their ministers about their doctrine, sometimes about
their administrations and conduct, and sometimes about their maintenance;
and sometimes such contests continue a long time; and sometimes they are
decided in this world according to the prevailing interest of one party or
the other, rather than by the word of God and the reason of things; and
sometimes such controversies never have any proper determination in this
world.

But at the day of judgment there will be a full, perfect and everlasting
decision of them. The infallible Judge, the infinite fountain of light,
truth and justice, will judge between the contending parties, and will
declare what is the truth, who is in the right, and what is agreeable to
his mind and will. And in order hereto the parties must stand together
before him at the last day; which will be the great day of finishing and
determining all controversies, rectifying all mistakes and abolishing all
unrighteous judgments, errors and confusions, which have before subsisted
in the world of mankind.

3. Ministers, and the people that have been under their care, must meet
together at that time to receive an eternal sentence and retribution from
the judge, in the presence of each other, according to their behavior in
the relation they stood in one to another in the present state.

The Judge will not only declare justice, but he will do justice between
ministers and their people. He will declare what is right between them,
approving him that has been just and faithful, and condemning the unjust;
and perfect truth and equity shall take place in the sentence which he
passes, in the rewards he bestows and the punishments which he inflicts.
There shall be a glorious reward to faithful ministers: to those who have
been successful: Dan. xii. 3, "And they that be wise shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as
the stars forever and ever;" and also to those who have been faithful, and
yet not successful: Isa. xlix. 4, "Then I said, I have labored in vain, I
have spent my strength for nought: yet surely my judgment is with the
Lord, and my reward with my God." And those who have well received and
entertained them shall be gloriously rewarded: Matt. x. 40, 41, "He that
receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that
sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall
receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the
name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward." Such
people, and their faithful ministers, shall be each other's crown of
rejoicing: 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of
rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his
coming? For ye are our glory and joy." And in the text, _We are your
rejoicing, as ye also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus_. But they
that evil entreat Christ's faithful ministers, especially in that wherein
they are faithful, shall be severely punished: Matt. x. 14, 15, "And
whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out
of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto
you, It shall be more tolerable for the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah in
the day of judgment, than for that city." Deut. xxxiii. 8-11, "And of Levi
he said, Let thy Urim and thy Thummim be with thy holy one.... They shall
teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law.... Bless, Lord, his
substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of
them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not
again." On the other hand, those ministers who are found to have been
unfaithful shall have a most terrible punishment. See Ezek. xxxiii. 6;
Matt. xxiii. 1-33.

Thus justice shall be administered at the great day to ministers and their
people. And to that end they shall meet together, that they may not only
receive justice to themselves, but see justice done to the other party:
for this is the end of that great day, to reveal or declare the righteous
judgment of God, Rom. ii. 5. Ministers shall have justice done them, and
they shall see justice done to their people: and the people shall receive
justice and see justice done to their minister. And so all things will be
adjusted and settled forever between them; every one being sentenced and
recompensed according to his works, either in receiving and wearing a
crown of eternal joy and glory, or in suffering everlasting shame and
pain.

I come now to the next thing proposed, viz.,

III. To give some reasons why we may suppose God has so ordered it, that
ministers, and the people that have been under their care, shall meet
together at the day of judgment, in such a manner and for such purposes.

There are two things which I would now observe:

1. The mutual concerns of ministers and their people are of the greatest
importance.

The Scripture declares, that God will bring every work into judgment with
every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. 'Tis fit
that all the concerns and all the behavior of mankind, both public and
private, should be brought at last before God's tribunal, and finally
determined by an infallible Judge: but it is especially requisite that it
should be thus, as to affairs of very great importance.

Now the mutual concerns of a Christian minister and his church and
congregation are of the vastest importance: in many respects, of much
greater moment than the temporal concerns of the greatest earthly monarchs
and their kingdoms or empires. It is of vast consequence how ministers
discharge their office, and conduct themselves towards their people in the
work of the ministry, and in affairs appertaining to it. 'Tis also a
matter of vast importance, how a people receive and entertain a faithful
minister of Christ, and what improvement they make of his ministry. These
things have a more immediate and direct respect to the great and last end
for which man was made, and the eternal welfare of mankind, than any of
the temporal concerns of men, whether public or private. And therefore
'tis especially fit that these affairs should be brought into judgment and
openly determined and settled in truth and righteousness; and that to this
end, ministers and their people should meet together before the omniscient
and infallible Judge.

2. The mutual concerns of ministers and their people have a special
relation to the main things appertaining to the day of judgment.

They have a special relation to that great and divine person who will then
appear as Judge. Ministers are his messengers, sent forth by him; and, in
their office and administrations among their people, represent his person,
stand in his stead, as those that are sent to declare his mind, to do his
work and to speak and act in his name. And therefore 'tis especially fit
that they should return to him, to give an account of their work and
success. The king is judge of all his subjects, they are all accountable
to him. But it is more especially requisite that the king's ministers, who
are especially intrusted with the administrations of his kingdom, and that
are sent forth on some special negotiation, should return to him, to give
an account of themselves, and their discharge of their trust, and the
reception they have met with.

Ministers are not only messengers of the person who at the last day will
appear as Judge, but the errand they are sent upon, and the affairs they
have committed to them as his ministers, do most immediately concern his
honor and the interest of his kingdom. The work they are sent upon is to
promote the designs of his administration and government; and therefore
their business with their people has a near relation to the day of
judgment; for the great end of that day is completely to settle and
establish the affairs of his kingdom, to adjust all things that pertain to
it, that every thing that is opposite to the interests of his kingdom may
be removed, and that every thing which contributes to the completeness
and glory of it may be perfected and confirmed, that this great King may
receive his due honor and glory.

Again, the mutual concerns of ministers and their people have a direct
relation to the concerns of the day of judgment, as the business of
ministers with their people is to promote the eternal salvation of the
souls of men and their escape from eternal damnation; and the day of
judgment is the day appointed for that end, openly to decide and settle
men's eternal state, to fix some in a state of eternal salvation and to
bring their salvation to its utmost consummation, and to fix others in a
state of everlasting damnation and most perfect misery. The mutual
concerns of ministers and people have a most direct relation to the day of
judgment, as the very design of the work of the ministry is the people's
preparation for that day. Ministers are sent to warn them of the approach
of that day, to forewarn them of the dreadful sentence then to be
pronounced on the wicked, and declare to them the blessed sentence then to
be pronounced on the righteous, and to use means with them that they may
escape the wrath which is then to come on the ungodly, and obtain the
reward then to be bestowed on the saints.

And as the mutual concerns of ministers and their people have so near and
direct a relation to that day, it is especially fit that those concerns
should be brought into that day, and there settled and issued; and that in
order to this, ministers and their people should meet and appear together
before the great Judge at that day.


APPLICATION

The improvement I would make of the things which have been observed, is to
lead the people here present who have been under my pastoral care to some
reflections, and give them some advice suitable to our present
circumstances; relating to what has been lately done in order to our
being separated, as to the relation we have heretofore stood in one to
another; but expecting to meet each other before the great tribunal at the
day of judgment.

The deep and serious consideration of that our future most solemn meeting
is certainly most suitable at such a time as this; there having so lately
been that done, which, in all probability, will (as to the relation we
have heretofore stood in) be followed with an everlasting separation.

How often have we met together in the house of God in this relation! How
often have I spoke to you, instructed, counselled, warned, directed and
fed you, and administered ordinances among you, as the people which were
committed to my care, and whose precious souls I had the charge of! But in
all probability this never will be again.°

The prophet Jeremiah (chap. xxv. 3), puts the people in mind how long he
had labored among them in the work of the ministry: "From the thirteenth
year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is
the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord came unto me, and I
have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking." I am not about to
compare myself with the prophet Jeremiah; but in this respect I can say as
he did, that "I have spoken the word of God to you unto the three and
twentieth year, rising early and speaking." It was three and twenty years,
the 15th day of last February, since I have labored in the work of the
ministry, in the relation of a pastor to this church and congregation. And
though my strength has been weakness, having always labored under great
infirmity of body, besides my insufficiency for so great a charge in other
respects, yet I have not spared my feeble strength, but have exerted it
for the good of your souls. I can appeal to you as the apostle does to his
bearers, Gal. iv. 13, "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I
preached the gospel unto you." I have spent the prime of my life and
strength in labors for your eternal welfare. You are my witnesses, that
what strength I have had I have not neglected in idleness, nor laid out in
prosecuting worldly schemes and managing temporal affairs, for the
advancement of my outward estate, and aggrandizing myself and family; but
have given myself wholly to the work of the ministry, laboring in it night
and day, rising early and applying myself to this great business to which
Christ appointed me. I have found the work of the ministry among you to be
a great work indeed, a work of exceeding care, labor and difficulty: many
have been the heavy burdens that I have borne in it, which my strength has
been very unequal to. God called me to bear these burdens; and I bless his
name, that he has so supported me as to keep me from sinking under them,
and that his power herein has been manifested in my weakness; so that
although I have often been troubled on every side, yet I have not been
distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed.

But now I have reason to think my work is finished which I had to do as
your minister: you have publicly rejected me, and my opportunities cease.

How highly therefore does it now become us to consider of that time when
we must meet one another before the chief Shepherd! When I must give an
account of my stewardship, of the service I have done for, and the
reception and treatment I have had among, the people he sent me to: and
you must give an account of your own conduct towards me, and the
improvement you have made of these three and twenty years of my ministry.
For then both you and I must appear together, and we both must give an
account, in order to an infallible, righteous and eternal sentence to be
passed upon us by him who will judge us with respect to all that we have
said or done in our meeting here, all our conduct one towards another, in
the house of God and elsewhere, on Sabbath days and on other days; who
will try our hearts and manifest our thoughts, and the principles and
frames of our minds, will judge us with respect to all the controversies
which have subsisted between us, with the strictest impartiality, and will
examine our treatment of each other in those controversies. There is
nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nor hid which shall not be
known; all will be examined in the searching, penetrating light of God's
omniscience and glory, and by him whose eyes are as a flame of fire; and
truth and right shall be made plainly to appear, being stripped of every
veil; and all error, falsehood, unrighteousness and injury shall be laid
open, stripped of every disguise; every specious pretence, every cavil and
all false reasoning shall vanish in a moment, as not being able to bear
the light of that day. And then our hearts will be turned inside out, and
the secrets of them will be made more plainly to appear than our outward
actions do now. Then it shall appear what the ends are which we have aimed
at, what have been the governing principles which we have acted from, and
what have been the dispositions we have exercised in our ecclesiastical
disputes and contests. Then it will appear whether I acted uprightly, and
from a truly conscientious, careful regard to my duty to my great Lord and
Master, in some former ecclesiastical controversies, which have been
attended with exceeding unhappy circumstances and consequences: it will
appear whether there was any just cause for the resentment which was
manifested on those occasions. And then our late grand controversy,
concerning the qualifications necessary for admission to the privileges of
members in complete standing in the visible church of Christ, will be
examined and judged in all its parts and circumstances, and the whole set
forth in a clear, certain and perfect light. Then it will appear whether
the doctrine which I have preached and published concerning this matter be
Christ's own doctrine, whether he will not own it as one of the precious
truths which have proceeded from his own mouth, and vindicate and honor
as such before the whole universe. Then it will appear what is meant by
"the man that comes without the wedding garment"; for that is the day
spoken of, Matt. xxii. 13, wherein such an one shall be bound hand and
foot, and cast into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. And then it will appear whether, in declaring this doctrine, and
acting agreeable to it, and in my general conduct in the affair, I have
been influenced from any regard to my own temporal interest or honor, or
desire to appear wiser than others; or have acted from any sinister,
secular views whatsoever; and whether what I have done has not been from a
careful, strict and tender regard to the will of my Lord and Master, and
because I dare not offend him, being satisfied what his will was, after a
long, diligent, impartial and prayerful inquiry; having this constantly in
view and prospect to engage me to great solicitude not rashly to determine
truth to be on this side of the question, where I am now persuaded it is,
that such a determination would not be for my temporal interest, but every
way against it, bringing a long series of extreme difficulties and
plunging me into an abyss of trouble and sorrow. And then it will appear
whether my people have done their duty to their pastor with respect to
this matter; whether they have shown a right temper and spirit on this
occasion; whether they have done me justice in hearing, attending to and
considering what I had to say in evidence of what I believed and taught as
part of the counsel of God; whether I have been treated with that
impartiality, candor and regard which the just Judge esteemed due; and
whether, in the many steps which have been taken and the many things that
have been said and done in the course of this controversy, righteousness
and charity and Christian decorum have been maintained; or, if otherwise,
to how great a degree these things have been violated. Then every step of
the conduct of each of us in this affair, from first to last, and the
spirit we have exercised in all shall be examined and manifested, and our
own consciences shall speak plain and loud, and each of us shall be
convinced, and the world shall know; and never shall there be any more
mistake, misrepresentation or misapprehension of the affair to eternity.

This controversy is now probably brought to an issue between you and me as
to this world; it has issued in the event of the week before last: but it
must have another decision at that great day, which certainly will come,
when you and I shall meet together before the great judgment seat: and
therefore I leave it to that time, and shall say no more about it at
present.

But I would now proceed to address myself particularly to several sorts of
persons.

I. To those who are professors of godliness amongst us.

I would now call you to a serious consideration of that great day wherein
you must meet him who has heretofore been your pastor, before the Judge
whose eyes are as a flame of fire.

I have endeavored, according to my best ability, to search the word of
God, with regard to the distinguishing notes of true piety, those by which
persons might best discover their state, and most surely and clearly judge
of themselves. And these rules and marks I have from time to time applied
to you in the preaching of the word to the utmost of my skill, and in the
most plain and searching manner that I have been able, in order to the
detecting the deceived hypocrite and establishing the hopes and comforts
of the sincere. And yet 'tis to be feared, that after all that I have
done, I now leave some of you in a deceived, deluded state; for 'tis not
to be supposed that among several hundred professors, none are deceived.

Henceforward I am like to have no more opportunity to take the care and
charge of your souls, to examine and search them. But still I entreat you
to remember and consider the rules which I have often laid down to you
during my ministry, with a solemn regard to the future day when you and I
must meet together before our Judge; when the uses of examination you have
heard from me must be rehearsed again before you, and those rules of trial
must be tried, and it will appear whether they have been good or not; and
it will also appear whether you have impartially heard them, and tried
yourselves by them; and the Judge himself, who is infallible, will try
both you and me: and after this none will be deceived concerning the state
of their souls.

I have often put you in mind that, whatever your pretences to experiences,
discoveries, comforts and joys have been, at that day every one will be
judged according to his works; and then you will find it so.

May you have a minister of greater knowledge of the word of God and better
acquaintance with soul cases, and of greater skill in applying himself to
souls, whose discourses may be more searching and convincing; that such of
you as have held fast deceit under my preaching may have your eyes opened
by his; that you may be undeceived before that great day.

What means and helps for instruction and self-examination you may
hereafter have is uncertain; but one thing is certain, that the time is
short, your opportunity for rectifying mistakes in so important a concern
will soon come to an end. We live in a world of great changes. There is
now a great change come to pass; you have withdrawn yourselves from my
ministry under which you have continued for so many years: but the time is
coming, and will soon come, when you will pass out of time into eternity;
and so will pass from under all means of grace whatsoever.

The greater part of you who are professors of godliness have (to use the
phrase of the apostle) "acknowledged me in part": you have heretofore
acknowledged me to be your spiritual father, the instrument of the
greatest good to you that ever is or can be obtained by any of the
children of men. Consider of that day when you and I shall meet before
our Judge, when it shall be examined whether you have had from me the
treatment which is due to spiritual children, and whether you have treated
me as you ought to have treated a spiritual father. As the relation of a
natural parent brings great obligations on children in the sight of God;
so much more, in many respects, does the relation of a spiritual father
bring great obligations on such whose conversation and eternal salvation
they suppose God has made them the instrument of: 1 Cor. iv. 15. "For
though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many
fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

II. Now I am taking my leave of this people I would apply myself to such
among them as I leave in a Christless, graceless condition; and would call
on such seriously to consider of that solemn day when they and I must meet
before the Judge of the world.

My parting with you is in some respects in a peculiar manner a melancholy
parting; inasmuch as I leave you in most melancholy circumstances; because
I leave you in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, having the
wrath of God abiding on you, and remaining under condemnation to
everlasting misery and destruction. Seeing I must leave you, it would have
been a comfortable and happy circumstance of our parting if I had left you
in Christ, safe and blessed in that sure refuge and glorious rest of the
saints. But it is otherwise. I leave you far off, aliens and strangers,
wretched subjects and captives of sin and Satan and prisoners of
vindictive justice; without Christ and without God in the world.

Your consciences bear me witness, that while I had opportunity, I have not
ceased to warn you and set before you your danger. I have studied to
represent the misery and necessity of your circumstances in the clearest
manner possible. I have tried all ways that I could think of tending to
awaken your consciences, and make you sensible of the necessity of your
improving your time, and being speedy in flying from the wrath to come and
thorough in the use of means for your escape and safety. I have diligently
endeavored to find out and use the most powerful motives to persuade you
to take care for your own welfare and salvation. I have not only
endeavored to awaken you, that you might be moved with fear, but I have
used my utmost endeavors to win you: I have sought out acceptable words,
that if possible I might prevail upon you to forsake sin, and turn to God,
and accept of Christ as your Saviour and Lord. I have spent my strength
very much in these things. But yet, with regard to you whom I am now
speaking to, I have not been successful: but have this day reason to
complain in those words, Jer. vi. 29: "The bellows are burnt, the lead is
consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not
plucked away." 'Tis to be feared that all my labors, as to many of you,
have served no other purpose but to harden you; and that the word which I
have preached, instead of being a savor of life unto life, has been a
savor of death unto death. Though I shall not have any account to give for
the future of such as have openly and resolutely renounced my ministry, as
of a betrustment committed to me: yet remember you must give account for
yourselves of your care of your own souls, and your improvement of all
means past and future, through your whole lives. God only knows what will
become of your poor, perishing souls, what means you may hereafter enjoy,
or what disadvantages and temptations you may be under. May God in his
mercy grant that, however all past means have been unsuccessful, you may
have future means which may have a new effect; and that the word of God,
as it shall be hereafter dispensed to you, may prove as the fire and the
hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces. However, let me now at parting
exhort and beseech you not wholly to forget the warnings you have had
while under my ministry. When you and I shall meet at the day of
judgment, then you will remember 'em: the sight of me, your former
minister, on that occasion, will soon revive 'em in your memory; and that
in a very affecting manner. O don't let that be the first time that they
are so revived.

You and I are now parting one from another as to this world; let us labor
that we mayn't be parted after our meeting at the last day. If I have been
your faithful pastor (which will that day appear, whether I have or no),
then I shall be acquitted, and shall ascend with Christ. O do your part,
that in such a case it may not be so, that you should be forced eternally
to part from me and all that have been faithful in Christ Jesus. This is a
sorrowful parting that now is between you and me, but that would be a more
sorrowful parting to you than this. This you may perhaps bear without
being much affected with it, if you are not glad of it; but such a parting
in that day will most deeply, sensibly and dreadfully affect you.

III. I would address myself to those who are under some awakenings.

Blessed be God that there are some such, and that (although I have reason
to fear I leave multitudes in this large congregation in a Christless
state) yet I do not leave them all in total stupidity and carelessness
about their souls. Some of you that I have reason to hope are under some
awakenings, have acquainted me with your circumstances; which has a
tendency to cause me, now I am leaving you, to take my leave of you with
peculiar concern for you. What will be the issue of your present exercise
of mind I know not: but it will be known at that day, when you and I shall
meet before the judgment seat of Christ. Therefore now be much in
consideration of that day.

Now I am parting with this flock, I would once more press upon you the
counsels I have heretofore given, to take heed of being slighty in so
great a concern, to be thorough and in good earnest in the affair, and to
beware of backsliding, to hold on and hold out to the end. And cry
mightily to God, that these great changes that pass over this church and
congregation don't prove your overthrow. There is great temptation in
them; and the devil will undoubtedly seek to make his advantage of them,
if possible to cause your present convictions and endeavors to be
abortive. You had need to double your diligence, and watch and pray, lest
you be overcome by temptation.

Whoever may hereafter stand related to you as your spiritual guide, my
desire and prayer is, that the great Shepherd of the sheep would have a
special respect to you, and be your guide (for there is none teacheth like
him), and that he who is the infinite fountain of light would "open your
eyes, and turn you from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan
unto God; that you may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among
them that are sanctified, through faith that is in Christ;" that so, in
that great day, when I shall meet you again before your Judge and mine, we
may meet in joyful and glorious circumstances, never to be separated any
more.

IV. I would apply myself to the young people of the congregation.

Since I have been settled in the work of the ministry in this place I have
ever had a peculiar concern for the souls of the young people, and a
desire that religion might flourish among them: and have especially
exerted myself in order to it; because I knew the special opportunity they
had beyond others, and that ordinarily those whom God intended mercy for,
were brought to fear and love him in their youth. And it has ever appeared
to me a peculiarly amiable thing, to see young people walking in the ways
of virtue and Christian piety, having their hearts purified and sweetened
with a principle of divine love. And it has appeared a thing exceeding
beautiful, and what would be much to the adorning and happiness of the
town, if the young people could be persuaded when they meet together, to
converse as Christians, and as the children of God; avoiding impurity,
levity and extravagance; keeping strictly to the rules of virtue, and
conversing together of the things of God and Christ and heaven. This is
what I have longed for: and it has been exceeding grievous to me when I
have heard of vice, vanity and disorder among our youth. And so far as I
know my own heart, it was from hence that I formerly led this church to
some measures for the suppressing of vice among our young people, which
gave so great offence, and by which I became so obnoxious.° I have sought
the good, and not the hurt of our young people. I have desired their
truest honor and happiness, and not their reproach; knowing that true
virtue and religion tended not only to the glory and felicity of young
people in another world, but their greatest peace and prosperity, and
highest dignity and honor, in this world; and above all things to sweeten
and render pleasant and delightful even the days of youth.

But whether I have loved you and sought your good more or less, yet God in
his providence now calling me to part with you, committing your souls to
him who once committed the pastoral care of them to me, nothing remains
but only (as I am now taking my leave of you) earnestly to beseech you,
from love to yourselves, if you have none to me, not to despise and forget
the warnings and counsels I have so often given you; remembering the day
when you and I must meet again before the great Judge of quick and dead;
when it will appear whether the things I have taught you were true,
whether the counsels I have given you were good, and whether I truly
sought your good, and whether you have well improved my endeavors.

I have, from time to time, earnestly warned you against frolicking (as it
is called), and some other liberties commonly taken by young people in the
land. And whatever some may say in justification of such liberties and
customs, and may laugh at warnings against them, I now leave you my
parting testimony against such things; not doubting but God will approve
and confirm it in that day when we shall meet before him.°

V. I would apply myself to the children of the congregation, the lambs of
this flock, who have been so long under my care.

I have just now said that I have had a peculiar concern for the young
people; and in so saying I did not intend to exclude you. You are in
youth, and in the most early youth: and therefore I have been sensible
that if those that were young had a precious opportunity for their souls'
good, you who are very young had, in many respects, a peculiarly precious
opportunity. And accordingly I have not neglected you: I have endeavored
to do the part of a faithful shepherd, in feeding the lambs as well as the
sheep. Christ did once commit the care of your souls to me as your
minister; and you know, dear children, how I have instructed you, and
warned you from time to time; you know how I have often called you
together for that end; and some of you, sometimes, have seemed to be
affected with what I have said to you. But I am afraid it has had no
saving effects as to many of you; but that you remain still in an
unconverted condition, without any real saving work wrought in your souls,
convincing you thoroughly of your sin and misery, causing you to see the
great evil of sin, and to mourn for it, and hate it above all things, and
giving you a sense of the excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing
you with all your hearts to cleave to him as your Saviour, weaning your
hearts from the world, and causing you to love God above all, and to
delight in holiness more than in all the pleasant things of this earth;
and so that I now leave you in a miserable condition, having no interest
in Christ, and so under the awful displeasure and anger of God, and in
danger of going down to the pit of eternal misery.

But now I must bid you farewell: I must leave you in the hands of God; I
can do no more for you than to pray for you. Only I desire you not to
forget, but often think of the counsels and warnings I have given you,
and the endeavors I have used, that your souls might be saved from
everlasting destruction.

Dear children, I leave you in an evil world, that is full of snares and
temptations. God only knows what will become of you. This the Scripture
hath told us, that there are but few saved; and we have abundant
confirmation of it from what we see. This we see, that children die as
well as others: multitudes die before they grow up; and of those that grow
up, comparatively few ever give good evidence of saving conversion to God.
I pray God to pity you, and take care of you, and provide for you the best
means for the good of your souls; and that God himself would undertake for
you to be your heavenly Father and the mighty Redeemer of your immortal
souls. Do not neglect to pray for yourselves: take heed you ben't of the
number of those who cast off fear and restrain prayer before God.
Constantly pray to God in secret; and often remember that great day when
you must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and meet your minister
there, who has so often counselled and warned you.

I conclude with a few words of advice to all in general, in some
particulars, which are of great importance in order to the welfare and
prosperity of this church and congregation.

1. One thing that greatly concerns you, as you would be a happy people, is
the maintaining of family order.

We have had great disputes how the church ought to be regulated; and
indeed the subject of these disputes was of great importance: but the due
regulation of your families is of no less, and, in some respects, of much
greater importance. Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little
church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his
rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means
of grace. If these fail, all other means are like to prove ineffectual. If
these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be like to prosper
and be successful.

Let me now, therefore, once more, before I finally cease to speak to this
congregation, repeat and earnestly press the counsel which I have often
urged on heads of families here, while I was their pastor, to great
painfulness in teaching, warning and directing their children; bringing
them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; beginning early, where
there is yet opportunity, and maintaining a constant diligence in labors
of this kind; remembering that, as you would not have all your
instructions and counsels ineffectual, there must be government as well as
instructions, which must be maintained with an even hand and steady
resolution, as a guard to the religion and morals of the family and the
support of its good order. Take heed that it be not with any of you as
with Eli of old, who reproved his children but restrained them not; and
that, by this means, you don't bring the like curse on your families as he
did on his.

And let children obey their parents, and yield to their instructions, and
submit to their orders, as they would inherit a blessing and not a curse.
For we have reason to think, from many things in the word of God, that
nothing has a greater tendency to bring a curse on persons in this world,
and on all their temporal concerns, than an undutiful, unsubmissive,
disorderly behavior in children towards their parents.

2. As you would seek the future prosperity of this society, it is of vast
importance that you should avoid contention.

A contentious people will be a miserable people. The contentions which
have been among you, since I first became your pastor, have been one of
the greatest burdens I have labored under in the course of my ministry:
not only the contentions you have had with me, but those which you have
had one with another about your lands and other concerns: because I knew
that contention, heat of spirit, evil speaking, and things of the like
nature, were directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and did, in
a peculiar manner, tend to drive away God's Spirit from a people and to
render all means of grace ineffectual, as well as to destroy a people's
outward comfort and welfare.

Let me therefore earnestly exhort you, as you would seek your own future
good hereafter, to watch against a contentious spirit.° If you would see
good days, seek peace, and ensue it, 1 Pet. iii. 10, 11. Let the
contention which has lately been about the terms of Christian communion,
as it has been the greatest of your contentions, so be the last of them. I
would, now I am preaching my farewell sermon, say to you, as the Apostle
to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. 11, 12: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be
perfect, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace
shall be with you."

And here I would particularly advise those that have adhered to me in the
late controversy, to watch over their spirits and avoid all bitterness
towards others. Your temptations are, in some respects, the greatest;
because what has been lately done is grievous to you. But however wrong
you may think others have done, maintain, with great diligence and
watchfulness, a Christian meekness and sedateness of spirit; and labor, in
this respect, to excel others who are of the contrary part. And this will
be the best victory: for "he that rules his spirit, is better than he that
takes a city." Therefore let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.
Indulge no revengeful spirit in any wise; but watch and pray against it;
and, by all means in your power, seek the prosperity of the town: and
never think you behave yourselves as becomes Christians, but when you
sincerely, sensibly and fervently love all men, of whatever party or
opinion, and whether friendly or unkind, just or injurious, to you or your
friends, or to the cause and kingdom of Christ.

3. Another thing that vastly concerns the future prosperity of this town,
is, that you should watch against the encroachments of error; and
particularly Arminianism and doctrines of like tendency.

You were, many of you, as I well remember, much alarmed with the
apprehension of the danger of the prevailing of these corrupt principles
near sixteen years ago. But the danger then was small in comparison of
what appears now. These doctrines at this day are much more prevalent than
they were then: the progress they have made in the land, within this seven
years, seems to have been vastly greater than at any time in the like
space before: and they are still prevailing and creeping into almost all
parts of the land, threatening the utter ruin of the credit of those
doctrines which are the peculiar glory of the gospel, and the interests of
vital piety. And I have of late perceived some things among yourselves
that show that you are far from being out of danger, but on the contrary
remarkably exposed. The older people may perhaps think themselves
sufficiently fortified against infection; but it is fit that all should
beware of self-confidence and carnal security, and should remember those
needful warnings of sacred writ, "Be not high-minded, but fear;" and "let
him that stands, take heed lest he fall." But let the case of the older
people be as it will, the rising generation are doubtless greatly exposed.
These principles are exceeding taking with corrupt nature, and are what
young people, at least such as have not their hearts established with
grace, are easily led away with.

And if these principles should greatly prevail in this town, as they very
lately have done in another large town I could name, formerly greatly
noted for religion, and so for a long time, it will threaten the spiritual
and eternal ruin of this people in the present and future generations.
Therefore you have need of the greatest and most diligent care and
watchfulness with respect to this matter.

4. Another thing which I would advise to, that you may hereafter be a
prosperous people, is, that you would give yourselves much to prayer.

God is the fountain of all blessing and prosperity, and he will be sought
to for his blessing. I would therefore advise you not only to be constant
in secret and family prayer, and in the public worship of God in his
house, but also often to assemble yourselves in private praying societies.
I would advise all such as are grieved for the afflictions of Joseph, and
sensibly affected with the calamities of this town, of whatever opinion
they be with relation to the subject of our late controversy, often to
meet together for prayer, and to cry to God for his mercy to themselves,
and mercy to this town, and mercy to Zion and the people of God in general
through the world.

5. The last article of advice I would give (which doubtless does greatly
concern your prosperity), is, that you would take great care with regard
to the settlement of a minister, to see to it who, or what manner of
person he is that you settle; and particularly in these two respects:

(1) That he be a man of thoroughly sound principles in the scheme of
doctrine which he maintains.

This you will stand in the greatest need of, especially at such a day of
corruption as this is. And in order to obtain such a one, you had need to
exercise extraordinary care and prudence. I know the danger. I know the
manner of many young gentlemen of corrupt principles, their ways of
concealing themselves, the fair, specious disguises they are wont to put
on, by which they deceive others, to maintain their own credit, and get
themselves into others' confidence and improvement, and secure and
establish their own interest, until they see a convenient opportunity to
begin more openly to broach and propagate their corrupt tenets.

(2) Labor to obtain a man who has an established character, as a person of
serious religion and fervent piety.

It is of vast importance that those who are settled in this work should be
men of true piety, at all times, and in all places; but more especially at
some times, and in some towns and churches. And this present time, which
is a time wherein religion is in danger, by so many corruptions in
doctrine and practice, is in a peculiar manner a day wherein such
ministers are necessary. Nothing else but sincere piety of heart is at all
to be depended on, at such a time as this, as a security to a young man,
just coming into the world, from the prevailing infection, or thoroughly
to engage him in proper and successful endeavors to withstand and oppose
the torrent of error and prejudice against the high, mysterious,
evangelical doctrines of the religion of Jesus Christ, and their genuine
effects in true experimental religion. And this place is a place that does
peculiarly need such a minister, for reasons obvious to all.

If you should happen to settle a minister who knows nothing truly of
Christ and the way of salvation by him, nothing experimentally of the
nature of vital religion; alas, how will you be exposed as sheep without a
shepherd! Here is need of one in this place, who shall be eminently fit to
stand in the gap and make up the hedge, and who shall be as the chariots
of Israel and the horsemen thereof. You need one that shall stand as a
champion in the cause of truth and the power of godliness.

Having briefly mentioned these important articles of advice, nothing
remains but that I now take my leave of you, and bid you all _farewell_;
wishing and praying for your best prosperity. I would now commend your
immortal souls to him, who formerly committed them to me, expecting the
day, when I must meet you again before him, who is the Judge of quick and
dead. I desire that I may never forget this people, who have been so long
my special charge, and that I may never cease fervently to pray for your
prosperity. May God bless you with a faithful pastor, one that is well
acquainted with his mind and will, thoroughly warning sinners, wisely and
skilfully searching professors, and conducting you in the way to eternal
blessedness. May you have truly a burning and shining light set up in this
candlestick; and may you, not only for a season, but during his whole
life, and that a long life, be willing to rejoice in his light.

And let me be remembered in the prayers of all God's people that are of a
calm spirit, and are peaceable and faithful in Israel, of whatever opinion
they may be with respect to terms of church communion.

And let us all remember and never forget our future solemn meeting on that
great day of the Lord; the day of infallible decision and of the
everlasting and unalterable sentence. AMEN.



NOTES


GOD GLORIFIED IN MAN'S DEPENDENCE

1. =God Glorified.= The title-page of the original edition of this sermon,
the first work published by the author, reads as follows: "God Glorified
in the Work of Redemption by the Greatness of Man's Dependance upon Him,
in the Whole of it. Preached on the Publick Lecture in Boston, July 8,
1731. And published at the Desire of several, Ministers and Others, in
Boston, who heard it. By Jonathan Edwards A.M. Pastor of the Church of
Christ in Northampton. Judges 7. 2.--Lest Israel vaunt themselves against
me, saying, mine own hand hath saved me. Boston: Printed by S. Kneeland,
and T. Green, for D. Henchman, at the Corner Shop on the South-side of the
Town-House. 1731."

The Public or Thursday Lecture, dating from the ordination of the Rev.
John Cotton, in 1633, continued with occasional interruptions till the
siege of 1775, later revived and existing, it is claimed, still, or until
recently (see Dr. Samuel A. Eliot's Preface to _Pioneers of Religious
Liberty in America_, Boston, 1903), was famous among the social and
religious institutions of colonial Boston. At one time the General Court
regularly adjourned for it; that the Governor should keep Christmas and
neglect it, was regarded by old Judge Sewall as a matter of grave
reproach. The preachers were selected from the most eminent divines, not
only of Boston, but throughout the colony. It is recorded, for instance,
of Solomon Stoddard, Edwards's grandfather and predecessor in the
Northampton pastorate, that he annually attended the Harvard Commencement
and the day after preached the Public Lecture. It was a great honor,
therefore, for Edwards, a young man of twenty-seven, to be invited to
preach on this foundation.

He himself seems to have fully appreciated both the honor and the
opportunity. The original manuscript shows the most careful preparation.
In the statement of the Doctrine, for example, there are several erasures
and corrections before the right formula is hit upon. The printed sermon
shows still more elaboration. Edwards chose as his subject one aspect of a
theme which was central and controlling in his thought--God's sovereignty.
His mind had dwelt on this subject in all its bearings from childhood. He
had especially meditated upon it as it related to the doctrine of decrees,
a doctrine which he found at first revolting, but in the end "exceedingly
pleasant, bright, and sweet." No one since Augustine has emphasized as he
has done the absolute sovereignty of God and the corresponding dependence
of man. This conception of God's arbitrary will--arbitrary, not as
irrational or unrelated to the divine justice and benevolence, but as
being "without restraint, or constraint, or obligation"--was not only the
backbone of his system, but its heart, the principle which animates and
pulses through the whole of it. It is the ultimate basis alike of his
philosophy and of his religious faith. In this his first publication as in
the great theological treatises which were his last, he is everywhere the
prophet-like champion of this supreme idea in opposition to all those
schemes of divinity, generally denominated Arminian, which implied in his
view a degree of independence in man inconsistent with the absolute
sovereignty he regarded as the distinguishing glory of God.

The sermon created a profound impression, as is evident both from the
immediate demand for its publication, indicated on the title-page, and
from the commendatory preface to the original edition signed by two of the
foremost ministers of Boston, the Rev. Thomas Prince, of the Old South
Church, and the Rev. William Cooper, of the Brattle Street Church. "It
was with no small difficulty," these gentlemen write, "that the author's
youth and modesty were prevailed on, to let him appear a preacher in our
public lecture, and afterwards to give us a copy of his discourse, at the
desire of diverse ministers, and others who heard it. But, as we quickly
found him to be a workman that need not be ashamed before his brethren,
our satisfaction was the greater, to see him pitching upon so noble a
subject, and treating it with so much strength and clearness, as the
judicious will perceive in the following composure: a subject which
secures to God his great design, in the work of fallen man's redemption by
the Lord Jesus Christ, which is evidently so laid out, as that the glory
of the whole should return to him the blessed ordainer, purchaser, and
applier; a subject which enters deep into practical religion; without the
belief in which, that must soon die in the hearts and lives of men. We
cannot, therefore, but express our joy and thankfulness, that the great
Head of the Church is pleased still to raise up, from among the children
of his people, for the supply of his churches, those who assert and
maintain these evangelical principles; and that our churches,
notwithstanding all their degeneracies, have still a high value for just
principles, and for those who publicly own and teach them. And, as we
cannot but wish and pray, that the College in the neighbouring colony, as
well as our own, may be a fruitful mother of many such sons as the author;
so we heartily rejoice, in the special favour of Providence, in bestowing
such a rich gift on the happy church of Northampton, which has, for so
many lustres of years, flourished under the influence of such pious
doctrines, taught them in the excellent ministry of their late venerable
pastor, whose gift and spirit we hope will long live and shine in his
grandson, to the end that they may abound in all the lovely fruits of
evangelical humility and thankfulness, to the glory of God."

6. =It was of mere grace ... for our souls.= This passage may serve to
illustrate the way Edwards expanded his sermons for the press (see
Introduction, p. xxix). The manuscript reads as follows: "The Grace in
giving this Gift was great in proportion to our unworthiness, it was given
to us who instead of meriting that of G. which is of such Infinite Value
merited Infinite Ill of him." Then follows a space, above and beneath
which, between the lines, are the words, "in proportion to the blessedness
we have benefit we have given in him." Continuing: "the giver in giving
this gift is great according to the manner of giving. He gave him to us
Incarnate he gave him to us slain that he might be a feast to our souls."


THE REALITY OF SPIRITUAL LIGHT

21. =Divine and Supernatural Light.= The original title-page of this, the
author's second published sermon, reads as follows: "A Divine and
Supernatural Light, Immediately imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God,
shown to be both a Scriptural, and Rational Doctrine; In a Sermon Preach'd
at Northampton, and Published at the Desire of some of the Hearers. By
Jonathan Edwards, A.M. Pastor of the Church there. Job 28, 20. Whence
then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Prov. 2, 6.
The Lord giveth wisdom. Is. 42, 18. Look ye blind, that ye may see. 2.
Pet. 1, 19. Until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts.
Boston: Printed by S. Kneeland and T. Green, M,DCC,XXXIV." The sermon has
a preface in which Edwards modestly disclaims any forwardness or vanity in
publishing it and begs his readers to peruse it without prejudice on this
score, or because of the unfashionableness of the subject. This to the
general public. What he says to his own people shows how affectionate
their relations to their young minister were at this time and how high his
regard was for them; it has a pathetic interest in view of their
passionate rejection of him at the last. "I have reason to bless God," he
writes, "that there is a more happy union between us, than that you should
be prejudiced against any thing of mine, because 'tis mine." He
felicitates them on having been instructed in such doctrines as those in
the sermon from the beginning. "And I rejoice in it," he adds, "that
Providence, in this day of Corruption and Confusion, has cast my lot where
such doctrines, that I look upon so much the life and glory of the Gospel,
are not only own'd, but where there are so many, in whom the truth of them
is so apparently manifest in their experience, that any one who has had
the opportunity of acquaintance with them, in such matters, that I have
had, must be very unreasonable to doubt of it."

This is justly regarded as "one of the most beautiful and most eloquent"
of Edwards's sermons (A. V. G. Allen, _Jonathan Edwards_, p. 67). It was
preached at a time when the signs were multiplying of an increased
interest in religion among the people of Northampton, preluding the great
revival of the next and the following years. The original manuscript bears
the date, August, 1733. The death of Mr. Stoddard in 1729 had removed the
restraints of a long-established and unquestioned authority, and the
results, as Edwards describes them, were deplorable. "It seemed," he says,
"to be a time of extraordinary dullness in religion: licentiousness for
some years greatly prevailed among the youth of the town; they were many
of them very much addicted to night walking, and frequenting the tavern,
and lewd practices, wherein some by their example exceedingly corrupted
others." "But in two or three years ... there began to be a sensible
amendment of these evils," and "at the latter end of the year 1733, there
appeared a very unusual flexibleness and yielding to advice" in the young
(_Narrative of Surprising Conversions_). The improved conditions reacted
on the preacher and, as a consequence, we have the sermon on Spiritual
Light.

The principle enunciated in this sermon is the cardinal and controlling
principle of the whole revival. The revival is just its exhibition and the
experienced evidence, for Edwards at least, of its truth. Nothing in his
account of the movement is more impressive than the way he studies it,
tracing minutely the details of the process, wondering at its variety,
whereby the Holy Spirit makes real and effectual the divine message (see
Allen, _op. cit._ pp. 143 ff.). There was nothing essentially new in the
principle itself; that God directly influences the soul, that the soul is
capable of an immediate intuition of divine things, this had been the
common teaching of all, and especially of all the Christian, mystics.
Indeed, it may be doubted whether religion as a form of personal
experience does not universally involve a consciousness of some such
transcendent relationship (see W. James, _Varieties of Religious
Experience_, Boston, 1902, _passim_). What was new in Edwards's
formulation of the doctrine was his manner of defining it, the way in
which he relates it to the other parts of his system, his insistence on
the supernatural character of this divine illumination, his sharp
distinction between common and special grace. His doctrine of supernatural
light appears, in fact, as a necessary corollary of his conception of the
relation of man and God in the work of redemption expressed in his sermon
on Man's Dependence. It is partly, at least, from this point of view that
it seems to him not only scriptural, but reasonable. It was a doctrine
intimately connected with his views of conversion. It was on this account
no less than because of its emphasis of a mystical rather than a moral or
legal principle in religion, that Edwards can speak of the doctrine as
"unfashionable." The tendency of the age was to find more power in the
natural constitution of man than he was willing to allow. Historically,
however, it is in just this emphasis on the inner experience of the light
and life of God in the heart that Edwards makes the transition from the
older Calvinism to the more liberal theology of our own day.

The manuscript of this sermon is more than usually full of erasures and
insertions, making it almost impossible to read, but suggesting something
of the labor and care expended on its composition. It is written on
twenty-six pages of the size of the facsimile in this volume, the last
page containing only a line and a half. But the printed sermon is more
fully elaborated.


RUTH'S RESOLUTION

45. =Ruth's Resolution.= This sermon was one of five "Discourses on Various
Important Subjects, Nearly concerning the great Affair of the Soul's
Eternal Salvation: viz. I. Justification by Faith Alone. II. Pressing into
the Kingdom of God. III. Ruth's Resolution. IV. The Justice of God in the
Damnation of Sinners. V. The Excellency of Jesus Christ. Delivered in
Northampton, chiefly in the time of the late wonderful pouring out of the
Spirit of God there. By Jonathan Edwards A.M. Pastor of the Church of
Christ in Northampton. Deut. iv. 8 [9]--Take heed to thyself, and keep thy
soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen,
and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life. Boston:
Printed and sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green, in Queen Street over against
the Prison. MDCCXXXVIII." The first four of these discourses were preached
during the revival of 1734-1735 and were selected by the desire of the
people as those from which they had derived special benefit; the fifth was
selected by Edwards himself at the request of some persons from a
neighboring town who heard it, and because he thought that a sermon on the
excellency of Christ might appropriately follow the others, which were of
an awakening character. They were prefixed to the American reprint of the
_Narrative of Surprising Conversions_, which was first published in
England. The cost of their publication was defrayed by the
congregation,--a clear evidence of their deep interest, as they were at
the time heavily burdened by the expenses of the new meeting-house. See
Dwight, _Life of Edwards_, pp. 140 f.; cf. n. here following, p. 162.

The sermon on Ruth's Resolution has been selected as the shortest of the
above discourses to illustrate a type of revival sermon in marked contrast
to the sermon on Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. They all, however,
bear out Edwards's own testimony concerning his preaching: "I have not
only endeavored to awaken you, that you might be moved with fear, but I
have used my utmost endeavors to win you" (Farewell Sermon). The
manuscript of the sermon is dated April, 1735, and it seems to have been
printed very nearly as it was written.


THE MANY MANSIONS

59. =The Many Mansions.= The Ms. of this hitherto unpublished sermon is
dated, "The Sabbath after the seating of the New Meeting House, Dec. 25,
1737." The occasion was one of special interest to the people of
Northampton. The old meeting-house, erected in 1661, had become too small
for the congregation and dangerously dilapidated; in fact, on a Sunday in
March in the year the new building was completed, while Edwards was
preaching, just after he had "laid down his doctrines" from the text,
"Behold, ye despisers, wonder and perish," the front gallery, "with a
noise like a clap of thunder," suddenly and dramatically fell.
Fortunately--by a special providence, it seemed to Edwards--no one of the
hundred and fifty persons, more or less, involved in the catastrophe
perished, or even had a bone broken, and only ten were hurt "so as to make
any great matter of it." But the event showed that the building of a new
meeting-house had been undertaken none too soon. The question of this new
building had been brought forward in the town meeting of the spring of
1733, but it was first decided on in November, 1735, determined in part,
no doubt, by the great revival of that year, when sixty, eighty, and a
hundred were received into the church on successive communions. It then
took two years to complete the structure. Incidentally, sixty-nine
gallons of rum, besides numerous barrels of "cyder" and beer, were
consumed by the workmen during the erection of the framework alone. Sixty
men were engaged at 5s. a day for this part of the work, "they keeping
themselves"--as Deacon Hunt's journal has it--"excepting drinks."

When the building, like several others of the period, a commodious, oblong
structure with a tower, belfry and weather-cock vane at one end of it, was
nearly finished, the important matter of seating the congregation was
taken up. This also was an affair of the town. It had already been decided
at the annual town meeting in the spring to have pews along the walls and
"seats" or benches only on both sides of the "alley" (broad aisle). The
actual plan of the sittings, still extant, shows pews also around the
benches on the floor, separated from the wall-pews by the narrow aisles,
and five pews in the gallery. These pews were of the high, square variety,
with seats on hinges, and were evidently regarded as places of superior
dignity. Towards the end of the year, the town held a series of meetings
with especial reference to the seating. The question of primary importance
concerned the apportioning of the sittings according to social rank. At
the meeting in November, a committee of five of the most prominent
citizens was instructed to draw up "their Scheam or Platt for Seating of
the meeting House and present it to the Town" for approval. The following
month the committee was further instructed by the following votes:

"1. Voted That in Seating the new meeting House the committee have Respect
principally to men's estate.

"2. To have Regard to men's Age.

"3. Voted that some Regard and Respect [be paid] to men's usefullness, but
in a less Degree." And that no mistake should be made, a committee of six
was appointed to "estimate the pews and seats," that is, to "dignify" or
appraise their social value.

Another connected question concerned the seating of the sexes. At the
meeting in November, it was voted that males should be at the south,
females at the north, end; the men at the right of the pulpit, the women
at the left. At the first meeting in December the town distinctly refused
to allow men and their wives to sit together. But this was clearly opposed
to the sentiment of some of the more influential members of the community,
for at the adjourned meeting four days later, when "The Question was put
whether the Committee be forbidden to Seat men & their wives together,
Especially Such as Incline to Sit together: It passed in the Negative."
Under this indirect and qualified authorization, married people were for
the most part seated together in the pews, but apart on the benches, while
in some cases the husband was assigned to a pew and the wife to a bench.

The events and conditions here described are reflected in Edwards's
sermon, especially in what he says of the extent of the "accommodations"
in heaven and in his remarks on the "seats of various dignity and
different degrees and circumstances of honor and happiness" there, as
compared with what we find in houses of worship on earth.

As indicating the size of Edwards's Northampton congregation, it may be
interesting to observe that the seating-plan above referred to contains
the names of nearly six hundred persons. And he had his audience all about
him. The pulpit, surmounted by a huge sounding board, was in the middle of
one of the longer sides of the building, not at the end, as is the custom
now. For further particulars, see J. R. Trumbull, _History of
Northampton_, Vol. II, Chap. vi.

This sermon is more fully written out than most of Edwards's unpublished
sermons. In preparing the copy for the present volume, the editor had in
mind the general analogy of the other sermons here published. The
abbreviations--X (Christ), G. (God), F. H. (Father's House), etc.--have
accordingly been interpreted, and omitted sentences or phrases, indicated
in the Ms. by dashes or spaces, have been supplied from the context. All
such additions, however, are inserted within square brackets.


SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD

78. =Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.= The full title-page of this,
Edwards's most famous sermon, read in the original edition as follows:
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. A sermon Preached at Enfield, July
8th 1741. At a time of great Awakenings; and attended with remarkable
Impressions on many of the Hearers. By Jonathan Edwards A.M. Pastor of the
Church of Christ in Northampton. Amos ix. 2, 3.--Though they dig into
Hell, thence shall mine Hand take them; though they climb up to Heaven,
thence will I bring them down. And though they hide themselves in the Top
of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid
from my Sight in the Bottom of the Sea, thence will I command the Serpent,
and he shall bite them. Boston: Printed and Sold by S. Kneeland and T.
Green in Queen Street over against the Prison, 1741."

Benjamin Trumbull in his _History of Connecticut_ (New Haven, 1818), Vol.
II, p. 145, records the circumstances under which this sermon was
delivered as told to him by Mr. Wheelock, a minister from Connecticut
(Enfield, Conn., was at that time included in Hampshire County, Mass.),
who heard it. "While the people in neighboring towns," writes Trumbull,
"were in great distress for their souls, the inhabitants of that town were
very secure, loose, and vain. A lecture had been appointed at Enfield, and
the neighboring people, the night before, were so affected at the
thoughtlessness of the inhabitants, and in such fear that God would, in
his righteous judgment, pass them by, while the divine showers were
falling all around them, as to be prostrate before him a considerable part
of it, supplicating mercy for their souls. When the time appointed for the
lecture came, a number of the neighboring ministers attended, and some
from a distance. When they went into the meeting-house, the appearance of
the assembly was thoughtless and vain. The people hardly conducted
themselves with common decency. The Rev. Mr. Edwards, of Northampton,
preached, and before the sermon was ended, the assembly appeared deeply
impressed and bowed down, with an awful conviction of their sin and
danger. There was such a breathing of distress and weeping, that the
preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence, that he
might be heard. This was the beginning of the same great and prevailing
concern in that place, with which the colony in general was visited." The
circumstances, thus, under which this sermon was preached were
exceptional; the excitement of the Great Awakening was at its height; the
congregation to whom the sermon was addressed were notorious for their
apathy; Edwards doubtless felt that an exceptionally strong presentation
of their danger was necessary to arouse them. And this sermon is probably
the most tremendous of its kind ever delivered by a Christian minister.

The kind, however, was by no means exceptional in Edwards's preaching,
particularly at this period. Believing as he did that the decisions of men
in this life were fraught with the most momentous issues to all eternity,
he held it his bounden duty to present these issues before them in the
liveliest manner possible.[16] The Justice of God in the Damnation of
Sinners; The Future Punishment of the Wicked Unavoidable and Intolerable;
The Eternity of Hell Torments; When the Wicked shall have filled up the
Measure of their Sin, Wrath will come upon them to the Uttermost; The End
of the Wicked contemplated by the Righteous; or, The Torments of the
Wicked in Hell, no occasion of grief to the Saints in Heaven; Wicked Men
useful in their Destruction only,--these are among the titles of his
sermons. Moreover, there is reason to believe that this very sermon, or
its like, was used on other occasions besides the one to which it is
explicitly ascribed. There is a tradition[17] that Edwards preached it
once when Whitfield had disappointed an audience by not appearing, and
that he produced a great effect by it. The manuscript is dated _June_,
1741, which suggests that it may have been preached in Northampton, or
elsewhere, the month before it was attended with such remarkable
impressions on the hearers in Enfield. But still more significant is the
existence of an undated second sermon from the same text. In this, which
was undoubtedly of earlier origin, the thought is somewhat differently
worked out: it is less lurid, less fully elaborated, less terrific; but it
contains many of the ideas, for example, on the uncertainty of life, the
suddenness with which destruction may overtake the sinner, etc., that are
found in the Enfield sermon. Edwards was evidently fascinated by the
theme; he works it out with the sure touch of a great artist, with the
intellectual force of the skilled dialectician. And he proclaims his
message with the intensity of conviction of an Old Testament prophet. No
wonder his hearers were moved. The effect would certainly have been less
great had there been any note or personal vindictiveness in the preaching.
But there is nothing of this; it is not in this sense that the sermon can
be called "imprecatory." On the contrary, so far as Edwards's personal
attitude is concerned, it is not difficult to detect in it the pathos and
the pity of the gentlest of men weeping over the senseless folly of those
who, blind to impending destruction, refuse repeated invitations of safety
(cf. Matt. xxiii. 37). For the rest, he is quite impersonal, detached; the
truth he preaches is sure, awful, but objective. On the modern reader the
sermon is likely to produce a very painful impression, unless he, for his
part, reads it in the same impersonal, detached way. It is not only the
realism of the presentation, but the harshness of the doctrine, which
offends. Edwards, for instance, frequently speaks of the reason why
sinners are not immediately cast into hell; but the reason assigned is not
the mercy or goodness or love of God, but His mere power and sovereign
pleasure. This is one aspect of the truth of the spiritual universe as
Edwards sees it. He is not a sentimentalist; he proclaims the truth as he
finds it. As far as Edwards himself is concerned, there is nothing in the
whole sermon, or in any of his "imprecatory" sermons, so called, half as
revolting as Dante's attitude towards sinners in hell. Take, for instance,
the case of Filippo Argenti in the Lake of Mud (_Inferno_, Canto viii.):
"'Master, I should much like to see him ducked in this broth before we
depart from the lake.' And he to me, 'Ere the shore allows thee to see it
thou shalt be satisfied; it will be fitting that thou enjoy such a
desire.' After this a little I saw such rending of him by the muddy folk
that I still praise God therefor, and thank Him for it. All cried, 'At
Filippo Argenti!' and the raging Florentine spirit turned upon himself
with his teeth."

89. =The God that holds you ... drop down into hell.= This is probably the
best remembered paragraph in this all too well remembered sermon.
Comparison with the original manuscript shows some interesting variants
from the printed text, and at the same time gives evidence of the
deliberateness with which the sentences were wrought out with reference to
their calculated effect. For both reasons the passage is here reproduced
as written.

"You are over the pit of hell in Gods hand very much as one holds a spider
or some loathsome Insect over the fire & 'tis nothing but for God to let
you go & you fall in." (Here follow four undecipherable lines, which
apparently, however, do not belong in this connection. The passage then
continues on the next page of the Ms.) "& this G. that thus holds you in
his hand is very angry with you & dreadfully provoked. ____ his wrath
burns like fire. ____ you are lothsome and hatefull in his eyes & and
worthy to be burnt--he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be
cast into the fire you are ten thous. times more loathsome in his eyes
than the most noisome insect in the eyes of us men ____ & you have
offended him a thous. times so much as ever an obstinate rebel did his
prince. ____ & yet you are in his hands & tis nothing at all but his mere
pleasure that he keeps you from falling into hell every moment ____ there
is no other reason to be given why you did not go to hell last night why
you did not wake up in hell after you had closed your eyes to sleep &
there is no other reason to be given why you have [not] drop'd since you
rose in the morning ____ yea since you sit on here in the house of G.
Provoking his pure Eyes by your sinfull wicked manner of attending his
Holy worship ____ Yea there is nothing else to be given as the Reason why
you don't this very moment drop down into hell."

Between the sentences here separated by longer spaces, lines curving from
the lower part of the preceding to the upper part of the following are
drawn, indicating possibly rhetorical pauses in the delivery and
suggesting to the modern reader a succession of waves, wave on wave of
horror, each more overwhelming than the one that went before.

The above passage is contained in the manuscript under division I. of the
"Application," division II. beginning, "And consider here more
particularly" (p. 89). The four divisions thereafter following correspond
roughly to those in the printed edition, but are mere headings, and differ
from the six divisions first sketched. Inserted in the manuscript is a
loose sheet containing in Edwards's handwriting a careful outline of the
whole sermon, such as he might have made when preparing the sermon for the
press or used as notes for preaching. The manuscript of the entire sermon
is short, but twenty-two pages of writing and one blank leaf.


A STRONG ROD BROKEN

98. =God's Awful Judgment.= The manuscript of this sermon is dated, "On
occasion of the death of Col. Stoddard June 1748." It consists of
fifty-two pages of the usual size of Edwards's manuscript sermons, but
with the unusual feature of being written in double columns. The paper
used was partly that of letters addressed to Edwards, the writing being in
places across the address, and the stamp marks being removed;
partly--about twenty pages--pieces of fine, soft paper, deep cut around
the upper edges, believed to be scraps of the paper used by Mrs. Edwards
and her daughters in making fans. The sermon is evidently written at high
pressure, with few corrections and fairly fully. The title-page of the
first edition reads as follows: "A Strong Rod broken and withered. A
Sermon Preached in Northampton, in the Lord's Day, June 26. 1748 On the
Death of The Honourable John Stoddard, Esq. Often a Member of his
Majesty's Council, For many Years Chief Justice of the Court of Common
Pleas for the County of Hampshire, Judge of the Probate of Wills, and
Chief Colonel of the Regiment, &c. Who died in Boston June 19. 1748. in
the 67th Year of his Age. By Jonathan Edwards A.M. Pastor of the first
Church in Northampton. Dan. iv. 35--He doth according to his Will in the
Army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the Earth; and none can stay
his Hand, or say unto Him, What dost thou? Boston Printed by Rogers and
Fowle for J. Edwards in Cornhill 1748."

Colonel Stoddard was the eighth child and fourth son of the Rev. Solomon
Stoddard, and therefore Edwards's uncle on his mother's side. He was a man
of great prominence in all the leading affairs of the town, the county,
and the colony. "His life," says Trumbull (_History of Northampton_, Vol.
II, p. 172), "was the connecting link between the two series of great
leaders who controlled the affairs of Western Massachusetts for nearly a
century and three-quarters. His predecessors were John Pynchon of
Springfield and Samuel Partridge of Hatfield; following him came Joseph
Hawley and Caleb Strong of Northampton, and these five men were the
leaders in the Colony, the Province and the State." He was a stalwart
upholder of royalty and the royal prerogative, and for this reason had
many opponents; but the general esteem in which he was held is evidenced
by his many offices and by the fact that he was seventeen times reëlected
the representative of the county to the General Court. He was a valued
friend of Governor Shirley, in connection with whom there is a
characteristic story of him. It is that he once called and asked to see
the Governor when the latter had a party dining with him, but declined the
servant's invitation to come in. The company were surprised and shocked at
what they regarded as an act of discourtesy to the chief magistrate. "What
is the gentleman's name?" asked the Governor. "I think," replied the
servant, "he told me his name was Stoddard." "Is it?" said the Governor.
"Excuse me, gentlemen, if it is Col. Stoddard, I must go to him." (From
_Dwight's Travels_, Vol. I, p. 332, quoted by Trumbull, _op. cit._ p.
173.) His death removed one of Edwards's strongest supporters and probably
contributed to the tragic issue of the great controversy in which the
preacher was now engaged. In this connection it is interesting to find
that Colonel Stoddard in 1736 helped to lay out the township of
Stockbridge and that he had much to do toward establishing the mission to
the Indians there, to the conduct of which Edwards was called after his
dismissal from Northampton. Edwards's sermon is an eulogy, but there is
every reason to suppose that it gives on the whole a just impression of
Stoddard's character, services, and attainments. On him, see further
Trumbull, _op. cit._ Vol. II, Chap. xiii.

116. =Present war.= King George's French and Indian War (1744-1748-9).
Colonel Stoddard, as commander of the Hampshire forces, directed the
military operations in that part of the country until his death. Major
Israel Williams of Hatfield, who later succeeded to the command, writing
under date of June 25, 1748, to Secretary Willard, says: "We are now like
sheep without a shepherd.... God has been pleased to take him (who was in
a great measure our wisdom and strength and glory) from us at a time when
we could least spare him." (Trumbull, _op. cit._ Vol. II, p. 158.)


FAREWELL SERMON

118. =A Farewell Sermon.= "A Farewel-Sermon Preached at the first Precinct
in Northampton, After the People's publick Rejection of their Minister,
and renouncing their Relation to Him as Pastor of the Church there, On
June 22. 1750 Occasion'd by Difference of Sentiments, concerning the
requisite Qualifications of Members of the Church, in compleat Standing.
By Jonathan Edwards, A.M. Acts xx. 18. Ye know, from the first day that I
came into Asia, after what Manner I have been with you, at all Seasons.
ver. 20. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but
have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from House to House.
ver. 26, 27. Wherefore I take you to Record this Day, that I am pure from
the Blood of all Men: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the
Counsel of God. Gal. iv. 15, 16. Where is then the Blessedness ye spake
of? For I bear you Record, that if it had been possible, ye would have
plucked out your own Eyes, and have given them to me. Am I then become
your Enemy, because I tell you the Truth? Boston Printed and sold by S.
Kneeland over against the Prison in Queen-Street. 1751."--Title-page of
the first edition.

The preface to this sermon is a document so important for the
understanding of it, that it is here, as is usual also in other editions,
printed in full.

_Preface._ It is not unlikely, that some of the readers of the following
sermon may be inquisitive concerning the circumstances of the difference
between me and the people of Northampton, that issued in that separation
between me and them, which occasioned the preaching of this farewell
sermon. There is, by no means, room here for a full account of that
matter: but yet it seems to be proper, and even necessary, here to correct
some gross misrepresentations, which have been abundantly, and ('tis to be
feared) by some affectedly and industriously made, of that difference:
such as, that I insisted on persons being assured of their being in a
state of salvation, in order to my admitting them into the church; that I
required a particular relation of the method and order of a person's
inward experience, and of the time and manner of his conversion, as the
test of his fitness for Christian communion; yea, that I have undertaken
to set up a pure church, and to make an exact and certain distinction
between saints and hypocrites, by a pretended infallible discerning [of]
the state of men's souls; that in these things I had fallen in with those
wild people, who have lately appeared in New England, called Separatists;
and that I myself was become a grand Separatist; and that I arrogated all
the power of judging of the qualifications of candidates for communion
wholly to myself, and insisted on acting by my sole authority, in the
admission of members into the church, &c.

In opposition to these slanderous representations, I shall at present only
give my reader an account of some things which I laid before the council,
that separated between me and my people, in order to their having a just
and full view of my principles relating to the affair in controversy.

Long before the sitting of the council, my people had sent to the Reverend
Mr. Clark of Salem village, desiring him to write in opposition to my
principles. Which gave me occasion to write to Mr. Clark, that he might
have true information what my principles were. And in the time of the
sitting of the council, I did, for their information, make a public
declaration of my principles before them and the church, in the
meeting-house, of the same import with that in my letter to Mr. Clark, and
very much in the same words: and then, afterwards, sent in to the council
in writing, an extract of that letter, containing the information I had
given to Mr. Clark, in the very words of my letter to him, that the
council might read and consider it at their leisure, and have a more
certain and satisfactory knowledge what my principles were. The extract
which I sent in to them was in the following words:

     "I am often and I don't know but pretty generally, in the country,
     represented as of a new and odd opinion with respect to the terms of
     Christian communion, and as being for introducing a peculiar way of
     my own. Whereas I don't perceive that I differ at all from the scheme
     of Dr. Watts in his book entitled, _The Rational Foundation of a
     Christian Church, and the Terms of Christian Communion_; which, he
     says, is the common sentiment of all reformed churches. I had not
     seen this book of Dr. Watts' when I published what I have written on
     the subject. But yet I think my sentiments, as I have expressed them,
     are as exactly agreeable to what he lays down, as if I had been his
     pupil. Nor do I at all go beyond what Dr. Doddridge plainly shows to
     be his sentiments, in his _Rise and Progress of Religion_, and his
     _Sermons on Regeneration_, and his Paraphrase and Notes on the New
     Testament. Nor indeed, sir, when I consider the sentiments you have
     expressed in your letters to Major Pomroy and Mr. Billing, can I
     perceive but that they come exactly to the same thing that I
     maintain. You suppose the sacraments are not converting ordinances:
     but that, 'as seals of the covenant, they presuppose conversion,
     especially in the adult; and that it is visible saintship, or, in
     other words, a credible profession of faith and repentance, a solemn
     consent to the gospel covenant, joined with a good conversation, and
     competent measure of Christian knowledge, is what gives a gospel
     right to all sacred ordinances: but that it is necessary to those
     that come to these ordinances, and in those that profess a consent to
     the gospel covenant, that they be sincere in their profession,' or at
     least should think themselves so.--The great thing which I have
     scrupled in the established method of this church's proceeding, and
     which I dare no longer go on in, is their publicly assenting to the
     form of words rehearsed on occasion of their admission to the
     communion, without pretending thereby to mean any such thing as any
     hearty consent to the terms of the gospel covenant, or to mean any
     such faith or repentance as belong to the covenant of grace, and are
     the grand conditions of that covenant: it being, at the same time
     that the words are used, their known and established principle which
     they openly profess and proceed upon, that men may and ought to use
     these words and mean no such thing, but something else of a nature
     far inferior; which I think they have no distinct, determinate notion
     of; but something consistent with their knowing that they do not
     choose God as their chief good, but love the world more than him, and
     that they do not give themselves up entirely to God, but make
     reserves; and in short, knowing that they do not heartily consent to
     the gospel covenant, but live still under the reigning power of the
     love of the world, and enmity to God and Christ. So that the words of
     their public profession, according to their openly established use,
     cease to be of the nature of any profession of gospel faith and
     repentance, or any proper compliance with the covenant: for 'tis
     their profession, that the words, as used, mean no such thing. The
     words used under these circumstances, do at least fail of being a
     _credible_ profession of these things. I can conceive of no such
     virtue in a certain set of words, that it is proper, merely on the
     making of these sounds, to admit persons to Christian sacraments,
     without any regard to any pretended meaning of these sounds: nor can
     I think that any institution of Christ has established any such terms
     of admission into the Christian church. It does not belong to the
     controversy between me and my people, how particular or large the
     profession should be that is required. I should not choose to be
     confined to exact limits as to that matter; but rather than contend,
     I should content myself with a few words, briefly expressing the
     cardinal virtues or acts implied in a hearty compliance with the
     covenant, made (as should appear by inquiry into the person's
     doctrinal knowledge) understandingly; if there were an external
     conversation agreeable thereto: yea, I should think, that such a
     person, solemnly making such a profession, had a right to be received
     as the object of a public charity, however he himself might scruple
     his own conversion, on account of his not remembering the time, not
     knowing the method of his conversion, or finding so much remaining
     sin, &c. And (if his own scruples did not hinder his coming to the
     Lord's table) I should think the minister or church had no right to
     debar such a professor, though he should say he did not think himself
     converted; for I call that a profession of godliness, which is a
     profession of the great things wherein godliness consists, and not a
     profession of his own opinion of his good estate."

     Northampton, May 7, 1750.


     Thus far my Letter to Mr. Clark.

The council having heard that I had made certain draughts of the covenant,
or forms of a public profession of religion which I stood ready to accept
of from the candidates for church communion, they, for their further
information, sent for them. Accordingly I sent them four distinct draughts
or forms, which I had drawn up about a twelvemonth before, as what I stood
ready to accept of (any one of them) rather than contend and break with my
people.

The two shortest of these forms are here inserted for the satisfaction of
the reader. They are as follows.

     "I hope I do truly find a heart to give up myself wholly to God,
     according to the tenor of that covenant of grace which was sealed in
     my baptism; and to walk in a way of that obedience to all the
     commandments of God, which the covenant of grace requires, as long as
     I live." Another,

     "I hope I truly find in my heart a willingness to comply with all the
     commandments of God, which require me to give up myself wholly to
     him, and to serve him with my body and my spirit. And do accordingly
     now promise to walk in a way of obedience to all the commandments of
     God, as long as I live."

Such kind of professions as these I stood ready to accept, rather than
contend and break with my people. Not but that I think it much more
convenient, that ordinarily the public profession of religion that is made
by Christians should be much fuller and more particular; and that (as I
hinted in my letter to Mr. Clark) I should not choose to be tied up to any
certain form of words, but to have liberty to vary the expressions of a
public profession the more exactly to suit the sentiments and experience
of the professor, that it might be a more just and free expression of what
each one finds in his heart.

And moreover it must be noted, that I ever insisted on it, that it
belonged to me as a pastor, before a profession was accepted, to have full
liberty to instruct the candidate in the meaning of the terms of it, and
in the nature of the things proposed to be professed; and to inquire into
his doctrinal understanding of these things, according to my best
discretion; and to caution the person, as I should think needful, against
rashness in making such a profession, or doing it mainly for the credit of
himself or his family, or from any secular views whatsoever, and to put
him on serious self-examination, and searching his own heart, and prayer
to God to search and enlighten him that he may not be hypocritical and
deceived in the profession he makes; withal pointing forth to him the
many ways in which professors are liable to be deceived.

Nor do I think it improper for a minister in such a case, to inquire and
know of the candidate what can be remembered of the circumstances of his
Christian experience; as this may tend much to illustrate his profession
and give a minister great advantage for proper instructions: though a
particular knowledge and remembrance of the time and method of the first
conversion to God is not to be made the test of a person's sincerity, nor
insisted on as necessary in order to his being received into full charity.
Not that I think it at all improper or unprofitable, that in some special
cases a declaration of the particular circumstances of a person's first
awakening and the manner of his convictions, illuminations and comforts,
should be publicly exhibited before the whole congregation, on occasion of
his admission into the church; though this be not demanded as necessary to
admission. I ever declared against insisting on a relation of experience,
in this sense (viz., a relation of the particular time and steps of the
operation of the Spirit in first conversion), as the term of communion:
yet, if by a relation of experiences, he meant a declaration of experience
of the great things _wrought_, wherein true grace and the essential acts
and habits of holiness consist; in this sense, I think an account of a
person's experiences necessary in order to his admission into full
communion in the church. But that in whatever inquiries are made, and
whatever accounts are given, neither minister nor church are to set up
themselves as searchers of hearts, but are to accept the serious, solemn
profession of the well instructed professor, of a good life, as best able
to determine what he finds in his own heart.

These things may serve in some measure to set right those of my readers
who have been misled in their apprehensions of the state of the
controversy between me and my people, by the forementioned
misrepresentations.

     JONATHAN EDWARDS.

135. =But in all probability this will never be again.= It is sometimes
asserted that Edwards never again occupied the pulpit in Northampton. This
is not true. He preached, in fact, twelve Sundays, though, to be sure, not
consecutively and only when other supplies could not be secured, before
his removal to Stockbridge. There is perhaps more reason for the statement
of Dr. Hopkins, quoted by Dwight (_op. cit._ p. 418), that the town at
last--it is thought in November, 1750--voted that he should preach no
longer. But the records of town and precinct are alike silent on this
matter, the only vote bearing on it being one passed by the precinct in
November, "to pay Mr. Edwards £10 old tenor per Sabbath for the time he
preached here since he was dismissed." Trumbull, who has established this
fact (_History of Northampton_, Vol. II, p. 227), says that the last
sermon by Edwards in Northampton was in the afternoon of October 13, 1751,
from the text Heb. xi. 16. But even this is doubtful; for among the
manuscripts in New Haven, Professor Dexter discovered a sermon on 2 Cor.
iv. 6 marked as preached in Northampton, May 1755, and in a book of plans
of sermons at least three notes of texts and doctrines of the same period
marked as designed for Northampton. (F. B. Dexter, _The Manuscripts of
Jonathan Edwards_, p. 8.)

145. =By which I became so obnoxious.= The excitement of the Great
Awakening was followed by a period of laxity. In 1744 Edwards was informed
that a number of the young people of his congregation, of both sexes, were
reading immoral books, which fostered lascivious and obscene conversation.
To check the evil, he preached a sermon, of the frankness of which we may
judge from the published sermon on "Joseph's Temptation," from Heb. xii.
15, 16, and after the service communicated to the brethren of the church
the evidence in his possession with a view to further action. A committee
of inquiry was appointed to assist the pastor in examining into the affair
at a meeting at his house. Edwards then read the names of the young people
to be summoned as witnesses or as accused, but without discriminating
between the two classes. When the names were thus published, it was found
that most of the leading families of the town were implicated. "The town
was suddenly all on a blaze." Many of the heads of families refused to
proceed with the investigation; many of the young people summoned to the
meeting refused to come, and those who did come acted with insolence.
Edwards never thereafter succeeded in reëstablishing his authority. For
years not a single candidate appeared for admission to the church. See
Hopkins, _Life of Edwards_ (1765), pp. 53 ff. Dwight, _op. cit._ pp. 299
f., copies Hopkins's account almost verbatim, but without acknowledgment.

146. =I have ... meet before him.= The company keeping and worldly
amusements of the young people were an old grievance with Edwards. Writing
of the period before the revival of 1734-1735, he says, "It was their
manner very frequently to get together in conventions of both sexes, for
mirth and jollity, which they called frolicks; and they would often spend
the greater part of the night in them, without any regard to order in the
families they belong to." How the young people amused themselves in these
"conventions," we can only conjecture; it is certain that some, at least,
of the parents saw no harm in them. But Edwards's idea of family
government was very different. "He allowed not his children to be from
home after nine o'clock at night, when they went abroad to see their
friends and companions. Neither were they allowed to sit up much after
that time, in his own house, when any came to make them a visit. If any
gentleman desired acquaintance with his daughters, after handsomely
introducing himself, by properly consulting the parents, he was allowed
all proper opportunity for it: a room and fire, if needed; but must not
intrude on the proper hours of rest and sleep, or the religion and order
of the family." (Hopkins, _op. cit._ p. 44.) We have reason to think that
some of the "other liberties commonly taken by young people in the land"
were calculated to favor anything rather than refinement and
spirituality.

149. =A contentious spirit.= History in a general way corroborates the
following testimony of Edwards concerning the contentious spirit in the
people of Northampton: "There were some mighty contests and controversies
among them in Mr. Stoddard's day, which were managed with great heat and
violence; some great quarrels in the church, wherein Mr. Stoddard, great
as his authority was, knew not what to do with them. In one ecclesiastical
controversy in Mr. Stoddard's day, wherein the church was divided into two
parties, the heat of spirit was raised to such a degree, that it came to
hard blows. A member of one party met the head of the opposite party and
assaulted him and beat him unmercifully. There has been for forty or fifty
years a sort of settled division of the people into two parties, somewhat
like the Court and Country party in England (if I may compare small things
with great). There have been some of the chief men in the town, of chief
authority and wealth, that have been great proprietors of their lands, who
have had one party with them. And the other party, which has commonly been
the greatest, have been of those who have been jealous of them, apt to
envy them, and afraid of their having too much power and influence in town
and church. This has been a foundation of innumerable contentions among
the people, from time to time, which have been exceedingly grievous to me,
and by which doubtless God has been dreadfully provoked, and his Spirit
grieved and quenched, and much confusion and many evil works have been
introduced." Letter of July 1, 1751 to Rev. Thomas Gillespie. Cf.
Trumbull, _History of Northampton_, Vol. II, p. 36.



Footnotes:

[1] See J. A. Stoughton, _Windsor Farmes_, p. 39 and p. 69 n. Students of
heredity may perhaps here find a clew to the character of Edwards's
brilliant, wayward grandson, Aaron Burr.

[2] See H. N. Gardiner, _The Early Idealism of Edwards_ in Jonathan
Edwards: a Retrospect, pp. 115-160: Boston, 1901. Cf. J. H. MacCracken,
_The Sources of Jonathan Edwards's Idealism_, Philos. Rev., xi. 26 ff.
(Jan. 1902).

[3] That to the church at Bolton, Conn. But for some reason, not now
apparent, he was never installed there. See S. Simpson, _Jonathan
Edwards--a Historical Review_, Hartford Seminary Record. xiv. 11
(November, 1903).

[4] First printed by Dwight, _Life of President Edwards_, p. 114, and
frequently reproduced. It has been compared to Dante's description of
Beatrice, which in pure lyric quality it certainly equals, though it lacks
the latter's sensuous coloring and imaginative idealization. The
comparison is made by A. V. G. Allen, _The Place of Edwards in History_,
in Jonathan Edwards: a Retrospect, p. 7; the contrast is pointed out by
John De Witt, Stockbridge (1903), Oration, p. 45 (pub. by the Berkshire
Conference).

[5] Solomon Clark, _Historical Catalogue of the Northampton First Church_,
pp. 40-67 (Northampton, 1891), prints the list in full.

[6] See note, p. 179.

[7] It is impossible here to go into the history of this famous
controversy. Something concerning it will be found in the notes, pp. 172
ff.; Dwight, _op. cit._, pp. 298-448, prints the documents from Edwards's
Journal in full; the records of the church are silent. It should be
stated, perhaps, in fairness to the Northampton people, that the pastoral
relation was not then, as is sometimes supposed, regarded as indissoluble;
six clergymen were "dismissed" from neighboring churches between 1721 and
1755. Moreover, Edwards, eminent as he undoubtedly was as a preacher, was
to them only the parish minister; his great fame as a theologian was
established later. Cf. Trumbull, _History of Northampton_, II, 225. It is
also not unreasonable to suppose that the spiritual capacities of the
people had been overstimulated. The later repentance of Joseph Hawley (see
Dwight, _op. cit._, p. 421), Edwards's cousin, who had taken a leading
part in the movement against him, concerns only the spirit of the
opposition; it does not seriously question the wisdom, under the
circumstances, of the separation.

[8] Aaron Burr, the Vice-President of the United States, who killed
Alexander Hamilton in a duel, was their son.

[9] See, e.g., the incident recorded by Dwight, _op. cit._, p. 133, where
the rapture lasts for about an hour, accompanied for the greater part of
the time "with tears and weeping aloud."

[10] See F. B. Dexter, _The Manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards_, p. 7.
(Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Mass. Hist. Soc., March, 1901.)

[11] As, e.g., in the great ethical sermon on the Sin of Theft and of
Injustice from the text, "Thou shalt not steal." Works, Worcester reprint,
IV, 601.

[12] Examples of this are found in the manuscript sermons on John i. 47
and John i. 41, 42, which are here taken as typical.

[13] Samuel Hopkins, _Life of Edwards_, p. 48.

[14] As illustrating the expansion in the printed sermon as compared with
the manuscript prepared for preaching, see note p. 157.

[15] The next neighbor town.

[16] "If I am in danger of going to hell, I should be glad to know as much
as possibly I can of the dreadfulness of it. If I am very prone to neglect
due care to avoid it, he does me the best kindness who does most to
represent to me the truth of the case, that sets forth my misery and
danger in the liveliest manner."--Sermon on The Distinguishing Marks of a
Work of the Spirit of God.

[17] As Professor A. V. G. Allen informs the editor in a letter, Jan. 23,
1904.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.

The original text includes several intentional blank spaces. These are
represented by ____ in this text version.

The misprint "dont" has been corrected to "don't" (page 169).





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