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at last. The gospel is as- uncertain as your life; God hath made no such icttlemeat of it, but that he may at pleasure remove it, and will certainly do so, if we thus trifle under it; 'tis but a candlestick, tho' a golden one, Rev. ii. 5. and that you all know is a moveable thing; and not only your life, and the means of your eternal life, I mean the gospel, are uncertain things; but even the motions and strivings of the Spirit with your fouls are as uncertain as either. "Work out your own "falvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh *' in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," Phil. ii. 12, 13. That God now works with you, is matter of great encouragement to your work: but that he works at his own pleasure, as a free arbitrary agent, who can cease when he pleases, and never give but one knock at your hearts more, should make you work with fear and trembling.
9. Think what a fearful aggravation it .will 'be, both of your sin and misery, to perish in the fight and presence of an offered
reir^edy; to sink into hell betwixt the outstretched arms of a. compassionate Redeemer, that would have gathered you, but youwould not.
Heathens, yea devils will upbraid you in hell for such unaccountable folly and desperate madness: heathens will fay, Alas. we had but the dim moon-light of nature, which did indeed discover sin, but not Christ the remedy. Ah, had your preachers and ycur bibles been sent among us, how gladly would we have embraced them! surely faith God to Ezekiel, "had I sent ** thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee," Ezek. iri. 5, 6, Matth. xi. 21. The very devils will upbraid you; O if God had sent a Mediator in our nature, we had .never rejected him as you have done; but he took not on him the nature of angels.
10. Lastly, How clear as well as sure, will your condemnation be in the great day, against wham such a cloud of witnesses will appear! O how manifest will the righteousness of God be! men and angels shall applaud the sentence, and your own consciences fhall acknowledge the equity of it. You that are Chrisllefs now, will be speechless then, Matth. xxii. 11. * Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, I persuade men," 2 Cor. v. 11. as one that trembles to think of being summoned as a witness against any of your fouls. O that I might be your rejoicing, and you mine in the day of our Lord Jfesu*. Christ. - •'
HA VIN G, in the former sermon, pondered Christ's solemn
Yet here he faith, Behold I stand; not my messengers and ministers only, but I by my spiritual presence among you, I your sovereign Lord and owner, who have all right and authority by creation and redemption to possess and dispose of your souls j it is I that stand at the door and knock, I by my Spirit, solliciting and moving by the ministry of men. You see none but men; but believe it, I am really and truly, though spiritually and invisibly, present in all those administrations; all those knocks, motions, and sollicitations, are truly mine, they are my acts, and I own them, and so I would have you conceive and apprehend them. Hence the second note is this,
Doct. %. That Jesus Christ is tridy present -with men in Ms ordinances, and hath to do -with them, and they -with him; though he be not visible to their carnal eyes.
Thus runs the promise: "Where two or three are gathered * together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," Mat. Xviii. ao. The middle place was the feat of the president in the Jewish assemblies, where he might equally hear and be 4ieard of all. So will I be in the midst of the assemblies of the faithful, met together in my name and authority, to bless, guide, and protect them. Hence the church is called the place of his feet, Isaiah xvi. 13. a manifest allusion to the ark, called God's footstool, Psalm xcix. 5. And agreeably hereunto, Christ is faid to walk among the seven golden candlesticks, Rev. li. 1. There are the spiritual walks of Christ, there his converses and'communion with men: and this presence of Christ was not the peculiar privilege of the first churches, but is common to all the churches of the faints to the end of the world, as appears by that glorious promise so comfortably extended to the church from first to last; "Lo, I am "with you always to the end of the world," Mat.xxii. ult. This promise is the ground and reason of all our faith, and expectations of benefit from ordinances; and the subjects of it are not here considered personally but officially, to you, and all that succeed you in the same work and office; not to you only as extraordinary, but to all the succeeding ordinary standing officers in my church. As for the apostles, neither their persons nor extraordinary office was to continue long, but this promise was to continue to the end of the world. with all other ministers, nothing, we must understand him speaking not absolutely, but comparatively, and relatively; they are necessary in their places, and sufficient in their kind, for what they are appointed to, else it would be a reflection upon the wisdom of God that instituted them: But singly in themselves, and disjunctively considered, they are nothing; as » trumpet or, wiud-instrument is nothing, as to its end and use, except breath be inspired into it, and that breath modulated by the art and skill of the inspirer; like Ezekiel's wheels that move not but as the Spirit that was in them moved, and dir cted their motions. If ordinances wrought upon fouls naturally, and necessarily, as the fire burneth, then they could not fail of success upon all that come under them: But it is with them as with the waters of the pool at Bethesda, whose healing virtue was only found at that season when the angel descended and troubled them.
Nor is this promise made absolutely, but conditionally; the connection 'of the promise with the command, -enforces this qualified sense; as 3 Chroni xv. 2. "The Lord is with you, "whilst you are with him.'* Ignorant, idle, unqualified persons cannot claim the benefit of this gracious grant.
Once more, this promise is made to every hour and minute of time. I am with you, all the days, as it is in the Greek text; in dark and dangerous, as well as peaceable and encouraging days: and it is closed up with a solemn Amen, So be it, or, So it shall be.
To open this point distinctly, we are to consider that there is a three-fold presence of Christ.
1. Corporeal. 2. Represented. 3. Spiritual.
1. There is a corporeal presence of Christ, which the church once enjoyed on earth, when he went in and out amongst his people, Acts i. 21. when their eyes faw him, and their hands handled him, 1 John i. 1. This presence was a singular consolation to the disciples, and therefore they were greatly dejected when it was to be removed from them. But after redemption-work was finished on earth, this bodily presence was no longer necessary to be continued in this world, but more expedient to be removed to heaven, John xvi. 7. as indeed it was, and must there abide until the time of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. And in this respect he tells the disciples, John xvi, z8. " I leave the world, and go to my Father."
2. There is a represented presence of Christ in ordinances. As the person of a king is represented in another country by his dmbajfadors, so is (jbiist in this world by his ministers:
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3. This spiritual presence of Christ gives the ordinances of the gospel that awful solemnity which is due, upon that account, to them. The presence of Christ in them commands reverence from all that are about him. "God is greatly to be feared in "the assemblies of his saints, and to be had in reverence of nil "that are tound about him:" hence is that solemn caution or threatening, Lev. xxvi. 23, 24. "If you walk contrary unto "me, then will I also walk contrary unto you." The Hebrew word in that text signifies to walk rashly, or at an adventure with God, sine person* discrimine, without considering with whom we have to do, and what an awful majesty we stand before. And the punishmenc is suitable to the sin; I also will walk at an adventure with you, making no discrimination in my judgments betwixt your persons and the persons of the worst of men. O that this were duely considered by all that have to do with God in gospel-institutions! • •
4. It is the spiritual presence of Christ in his churches and ordinances that gives them their continuance and stability: whenever the Spirit of Christ deparrs from them, it will not be long before they depart from us; or if they should not, their continuance will be little to our advantage. When the glory of the Lord dismounted from betwixt the cherubims, when that fad voice was heard in the temple, migremus bine, Let us go hence, how soon was both city and temple made a desolation! and truly Christ's presence is not so fixed to any place, or any ordinances, but the fins of the people may banish it away, Rev. ii/5. Who will tarry in any phee longer than heU Welcome, if he have any where else to go?