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and that the more light we have, the better our lives Thould be. For this is to walk in the light; to make use of the present advantages and opportunities, and to be active and industrious to work out our own fals vation; to be fruitful in every good word and work, and to abound in all the fruits of righteousness, which are-bry Fesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. The Apostle St. Peter tells us at large,what obligation the knowledge of the gospel lays upon ail Christians, to make answerable improvement in all goodness and virtue, 2 Pet. i. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that per: tain unto life and godlinefs, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the di'vine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through luft. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kind. ness, charity. For if these things be in you, and an bound, they make you that ye mall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Chrit. But he that lacketh these things, is blind, and cannot fee far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. If the gospel have not this effect upon us, if we make no use of the light of it, we do not confider that the proper effect of the Chriftian religion, is to purge men from thofe fins and vices which reigned in them before ; and if it have not this effect upon us, it had been better for us to have been without this light and knowledge. So the same Apostle declares, chap. ii. 25. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousnefs, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment' delivered unto them. I pro. ceed to the
Fourth particular, That if we make no improve. ment of these happy advantages and opportunities, we may juftly apprehend the like danger, and difmal consequences of being deprived of them. Walk. while ye have the light, left darkrefs come upon you : for he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth. God's dealing with the Jews upon this pro- ... vocation was very terrible; and, as the Apostle faith upon another occasion, it serves for an example and admonition to us, upon whom the ends of the world are come. They who not only opposed and rejected that light which God sent among them, but did what in them lay to extinguish and put it out, by putting to death the Son of God, deserved to have been immediately deprived of that light, and to have been Jeft in utter darkness: but God was pleased in his great mercy to grant a reprieve to them, and to continue the great blessing of the gofpel to them for forty years longer : but when, notwithstanding this, they Atill continued impenitent, God at lait withdrew this light, and by a particular providence gave warning to the Christians to flee from Jerusalem, just before the siege was laid to it, and then darkness came up. on them indeed, and they knew not whither they went, nor what they did. The things of their peace were then hid from their eyes, because they would not know the time of their visitation. They fell into the greatest disorders and confusions, and, by the just judgment of God, were strangely blinded and har. dened to their own ruin; and being forfaken of God, and of his glorious gospel, which they had rejected, they exercifed all forts of violence and cruelty upon one another, and were abandoned to all manner of wickedness and folly; not only offending against their own law, for which they pretended fo great a veneration, but committing things contrary to all laws of nature and humanity; as may be seen at large in the history of the siege of Jerusalem, written by Josephus, who lived in that time. .
And there is the like danger, I do not say of the very same judgments, (for there was something peculiar in their case, they not only rejecting and abufing the gospel, but killing and crucifying the son of God, who brought those glad tidings to them;) but of very great and dismal calamities, it ever we pra
voke God by our abuse of the gospel, and great un. fruitfulness under it, to deprive us of so invaluable a
blessing. Whenever that leayes us, we may expect • the most dismal judgments and calamities to break in upon us.
For that parable concerning the husbandmen, who instead of rendering to their Lord their fruits of his vineyard in due season, evilly entreated, and killed those whom he sent to them; I say, this parable, though it immediately respected the Jews, yet it does in proportion concern all that live unfruitfully under the gospel, Matth. xxi. 40, 41. Wben the Lord there. fore of the vineyard cometh, what will be. do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him. He will mis. serably destroy those wicked men, and will let out bis vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall ren, der him the fruits in their seasons. And ver. 43, 44. Therefore I say unto you, says our Lord, The king. dom of God shall be taken from you, and given to 4 nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoes ver Mall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whom foever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
The removal of the gospel from any people, as it is the greatest judgment in itselt, so it is likely to be accompanied with the greatest temporal miseries and calamities : and so in fact it hath happened not only to the Jews, whose case as I said before, hath some. thing in it peculiar, but to other churches and nations: To the seven famous churches of Asia, the ci ties of them being demoliled and laid waste, and the very place of several of them hardly known at this day. And fo likewise it hath happened to the flourishing churches of Africa, where Christianity is extinguished, and the place of them now the great seat of barbarism and Navery.
And God seems to set these examples before as; as a dreadful warning and admonition to us, and to say to us as he did to the people of Jerulalem, Jer. vii. 12, 13, 14, 15. But go.ge now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at tha first, and see what I did to it, for the wickedness of mory people Ifrael. And now because ye have dane all
these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rio fing up early, and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you, but ye answered not : Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ge trust, and unto the place which I gave to you, and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will caft you out of my fight, as I have cast out all your brethren. I proceed to the
Fifth particular I mentioned, which is to consider, by what means God is more especially provoked to deprive a people of the light of the gospel, and the means of falvation. By these two more especially ; By'a general barrenness and unfruitfulness under them; and by a general impiety and wickedness. : 1. By a general barrenness and unfruitfulness under the means and opportunities of salvation plentifully afforded to us. This our Saviour represents to us in the parable of the husbandmen, which I mentioned before, who rendered no fruit of the vineyard let out to them; for which they are threatened to have the vineyard taken from them, and let out to other husbandmen, who will render the fruits' of it in their seasons. And in the same chapter, Matth. xxi. 19. we find our Saviour cursing the fig tree, which he saw in the way, because he found nothing thereon but leaves only. Leaves are the outward thew and profession of religion; but if there be na fruit, we may justly fear a curse: for our Saviour did not curfe the fig-tree for its own sake, but for our example. Sterilitas' noftra in ficu vapulat; Our barrenness is corrected and chastised in the curse which he pronounced upon the fig tree. To the same pur: pose there is a remarkable parable of a barren fig. tree, and of the husbandman's patient expectation of fruit from it, Luke xiii. 7, 8, 9. after three years wait. ing. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Be. hold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none : Cut it down, why cumlereth it the ground ? And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till i mall dig about it, and dung it : And if it bear fruit, well: and if 201, then after that thou shalt cut it down. It is li.
terally true, that fruit may be expected from a fig. tree, at farthest the third year; and if in that time it do not bear, it is almost in vain to expect it: buc @ur Saviour intended by this parable to reprove the Jews, among whom he had taken so much pains for three years, and was now upon his fourth, resolving with the utmost patience to expect the fruit of repen. tance, and obedience to his doctrine, and then to leave them,and withdraw that light from them which they had made no use of: and yet after this, he continued his Apostles among them, who preached the doctrine of life and salvation to them for many years, before he punished their barrenness under all' those means, by taking away his gospel from them, and giving them up to utter ruin and destruction.
2. Another and higher provocation of Almighty God to take away his gospel from a nation, is great and general iinpiery and wickedness, an universal corruption and depravation of manners. When the vine. yard which God hath planted with so much care, doth not only not bring forth good grapes, but bring forth wild grapes, as it is in the parable of the Prophet Isaiah, concerning the house of Israel; then God will break down the hedge of it, and lay it walte; and will also command the clouds, that they rain no rain. upon it. When no means will prevail upon a people to bring them to goodness, God will then give over all care of them, and deprive them of the means whereby they should be made better. When they' do not only frustrate his expectation, but do quite contrary to what he looked for, he will be no farther concerned for them. So we find in the application of that parable, Isa. V. 7. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression ; for righteousness, but behold a cry. And this we find under the gospel, Heb. vi. 7, 8. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God.. But that which beareth thorns and briers, is: rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be