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and Tote Borded, ankening.nto three thall golpinels tond takes a
uch comforts, such joys, such pleasures, as none in the world -ut believers are capable of.
And, to set home all, these special benefits are proposed by Christ to all sorts of sinners, great and small, old and young ; f any man bear my voice and open the door : That so no soul might be discouraged from believing, by the greatness or mul. itude of his fins, but the vilest of finners may fee free grace criumphing over all their unworthiness, upon their consent to cake Christ according to the gracious offers of the gospel. .
The words thus opened, afford many great and useful points of doctrine, comprehending in them the very sum and substance of the gospel. The first, which ariseth from the solemn and remaşkable preface, Behold, will be this: Doct. 1. That every offer of Christ to the fouls of finners
is recorded, and witnessed, with respect to the day of aca
count and reckoning.
1. Who are God's witnesses to all gospel tenders. . .
witness thereof. Į. Who are God's witnesses to all the tenders and offers made of Chrift by the gospel, and they will be foạnd to be more than a strict legal number; for,
1. His ministers, by whom he makes them, are all witnesses as well as officers of Christ to the people. Acts xxvi. 16. “I “ have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a s minister and a witness." Here you see ministers have a double office, to propose and offer Christ, and then to bear wit. ness för or against those to whom he is thus offered : they are expressly called God's witnesses, Rev. xi. 6, 7. Their labours witness, their sufferings witness, their folemn appeals to God witness, yea, the very dust of their feet shaken off against the refusers of Christ, turns to a testimony against them, Mark vi. 11. Every groan and figh, every drop of sweat, much more of blood, are placed in God's book of marginal notes by all their sermons and prayers, and will be produced and read in the great day against all the refusers and despisers of Christ.
2. The gospel itself, which is preached to you, is a testimony or witness for God, for, or against every one that hears it; John xii. 48. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my ♡ words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoA ken, the same shall judge him in the last day." And this is the sense of Christ's word, Matth. xxiv. 14. " And this gospel
6 of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a wita “ ness to all nations, and then shall the end come.” Ah, Lord, what a solemn record is here ! every sermon you hear, yea, e. very reproof, persuasion and conviction, is a witness for God to cast and condemn every soul in judgment, that complies not obediently with the calls of the gospel ; so many sermons, lo many witnesses.
3. Every man's conscience is a witness for God, that he hath a fair offer once made him : the very consciences of the Heathens that never saw a Bible, that had no other preachers but the fun, moon, and stars, and other works of nature; yet of them the apostle faith, Rom. ii. 15. “ That they shew the “ work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience allo “ bearing them witness, and their thoughts the mean while « accusing or excusing one another.” Certainly if fuch vigour and activity was put into the consciences of Heathens, who could only read the will of God by the dim moon-light of natural reason; how much more vigorous and active will conscience be, in its accusing office, against all that live under the bright beams of gospel-light? Their consciences will be swift witnesses, and will ring sad peals in their ears another day, Ezek. ii. 5. “ You shall know that there hath been a prophet among 65 you.” This single witness is instead of a thousand witnelles for God.
4. The examples of all those that do believe and obey the gospel, are so many witnesses for God, against the despisers and neglecters of the great falvation.' Every mourning trembling foul among you is a witness against all the dead-hearted, unbe lieving, disobedient ones, that fit with them under the same or; dinances. Hence it is said, 1 Cor. vi. 2. «Know ye not that « the saints shall judge the world ?” They shall be affeffors with Christ in the great day, and condemn the world by their exam. ples, as Noah did the old world. Thus John, Matth. xxi. 32. came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not, but the publicans and harlots believed him; and ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards that ye might believe him, q. d. What shift did you make to quiet your consciences, and stifle your convictions, when you saw publicans, the worst of men, and harlots, the worst of women, repenting, believing, , and hungring after Christ ! their examples shall be your judges These are God's witnesses. .
II. Next let us consider what are the object matters unto which they give their testimony, and that will be found twofold, according to the two-fold event the gospel hath upon them
that hear it; of both which the apostle gives this account, 2 Cor. ii. 16. “ Unto some we are the favour of life unto life, 16 and unto others the favour of death unto death." Accordingly a.double record is made..
1. Of the obedience and faith of fome, which record will be produced to their joy and comfort in the day of the Lord; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe ; because our testimony among you was believed in that day. Ministers are instruments of espousing souls to Christ, and witnesses to those espousals and contracts made betwixt him and them, 2 Cor. xi. 2. Both these offices are exceeding grateful and pleasant to every faithful minister.
2. A record is made, and witness taken of all the refusals, disobedience and lightings of Christ by others. Thus Moses will be the accuser of the Jews, John v. 45. « Do not think I “ will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth " you, even Moses, in whom you trust." This is the saddest part of a minister's work; the fore-thoughts of it are more afflictive than all our labours and sufferings. There is threefold record made in this case : (1.) Of the time men have enjoyed under the means of salvation ; how many years they have fat barren and dead-hearted under the labours of God's faithful ministers ; Luke xiii. 7. “Behold these three years I “ come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none.” Behold, the same term of notification with that in the text, applied to the time of God's patience towards them. And again, Jer. XXV. 3. “ From the thirteenth year of Josiah, even unto this “ day, (that is, the three and twentieth year) the word of the * Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you rifing “ early, and speaking, but ye have not hearkened.” O consider, all the years and days you have spent under the gospel, are upon your doomsday book. (2.) Records are also made of all the instruments that ever God employed for the conversion and falvation of your souls. So many ministers, whether fixed or transient, as have spent their labours upon you, are upon the book of your account. Jer. xxv. 4. “ The Lord hath fent unto « you all his servants, the prophets, rising early, and sending " them ; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear « to hear.” They have wasted their lungs, dropt their com, passionate tears, and burnt down one after another, as candles to direct you to Christ and salvation, but all in vain. (3.) E. very call, persuasion and argument, used by them to cspouse you to Christ, is likewise upon the book of account. Prov. i, 24, 25. “ Because I have called and you refused, I have stretch
« ed my hand, and no man regarded, but you have set at “ nought all my counsels, and would none of my reproofs.” These calls and counsels are of too great value with God (though of none with you) to be lost and left out of your account.
III. We shall, in the last place, inquire into the grounds and reasons of these judicial procedures of God, why he will have every man's obedience and disobedience registered, and witnefsed for or against him, under gospel adminiftrations, and there are two weighty reasons thereof.
1. That wherever the end of the gospel is attained in the conversion of any soul, that soul, and all that were instrumentally employed about the salvation of it, may have the proper reward and comfort in the great day, 2.Cor. i. 14. “ As also “ you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoi“ cing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus." This will be matter of joy unspeakable, both to you that shall receive, and to them that shall give such a comfortable testimony for you. O the joyful congratulations that will be in that day between laborious faithful ministers, and their believing obedia ent hearers ! Lord, this was the blessed instrument of my happy illumination and conversion ; though I might have ten thousand instructers in Chrift, yet not many fathers; for by the blessing of thy Spirit upon this man's ministry, my soul was begotten to Christ. And, on the other fide; Lord, these are the souls for whom I travelled, as in birth, until Christ was formed in them. It is a glorious thing to say, as the prophet, “ Here am I, and the children God hath given me."
Nay, those that were but collaterally ufeful to help on the work of God begun by others, must not lose their reward in that day. John iv. 36. « And he that reapeth receiveth wages, « and gathereth fruit unto eternal life, that both he that fow6 eth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
2. Records are now made, and witnesses taken, that thereby the judicial sentence of Jesus Christ, in the last day may be made clear and perspicuous to all the world ; that every mouth may be stopped, and no plea, or apology left in the mouth of any condemned sinner. For Christ, in 'that day, .cometh, Jude 15. to convince all that are ungodly ; to convince by demonstration, that all that are Chriftless now, may be found speechless then, Matth. xxii. 12. Hence it is faid, Psalm i. 5. That the wicked shall not stand, or rise up in the judgment. And no wonder, when fo many full teftimonies, and "unexceptionable witnesses shall come point blank againft
eth and the eth fruit unto Clae that reapechheir reward in
them, the minifter that preached, the word they preached, their own consciences, and the examples of all believers will be pro-. duced against them.
If Inference. The undoubted certainty of a day of judgment is hence evinced. To what purpose else are records made, and witneffes taken, but with respect to an audit-day? This is a truth sealed upon the conscience of the very heathens, Rom. ii. 15. Their consciences bear witness. But in vain are all these records made, unless there be a day to produce and plead them; and of that day the prophet Daniel speaks, Dan. vii. 10. « The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And again, Rev. xx. 12. “ And I saw the dead, small and great, « stand before God, and the books were opened, and another “ book was opened which is the book of life, and the dead « were judged out of those things which were written in the 66 book, according to their works.”
Believe it, friends, these are no devised fables, but most awful and infallible truths : according to the saving effects the gospel now hath, it will be a time of refreshing to our souls, Acts iii. 19. to all others a day of terror, wrath and amazement, 2 Theff.i. 7,8. “The day in which the Lord Jesus shall “ be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming “ fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that « obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
żd İnference. What a.jpur is here to ministerial diligence and faithfulness ? 'Tis an awful work that is under our hands; the effects of the gospel which we preach, will be the favour of life or death to them that hear us. If the Lord prosper it in our hands, we shall be witnesses for you, it will be an addition to our glory in heaven; Dan. xii. 3. “ They that turn many to «. righteousness, fhall shine as the brightness of the firmament, « and as the stars for ever and ever.” But if we be ignorant, Jazy, men-pleasers, our people will come in as swift witnesses: against us, and their blood will be required at our hands ; it will be an intolerable aggravation to our misery in hell, to have any that fat under our ministry thus upbraiding us ! O cruel man! thou sawejt my foul in danger, and never dealt faithfully and plainly with me; the same time and breath that was spent in idle and worldy discourse, might have been instrumental to have Javed me from this place of torment. Let ministers consider . themselves as witnesses for God, and their people as witnesses for or against them; and under that consideration, so study, preach and pray, that they may with Paul take God to record, VOL. IV..