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But you yet remain in that cursed city annong that accursed company. You are yet in Sodom, which God is about so terribly to destroy, where you are in danger every minute of having snares, fire, and brimstone, come down on your head.... Though so many have obtained, yet you have not obtained deliverance. Good has come, but you have seen none of it. Others are happy, but no one knows what will become of you: You have no part nor lot in that glorious salvation of souls, which has lately been among us....The consideration of this should stir you up effectually to escape, and in your escape to press forward, still to press forward, and to resolve to press forward for ever, let what will be in the way, to hearken to go temptation, and never to look back, or in any wise slacken or abate your endeavors as long as you live, but if possible to increase in them more and more.
6. Backsliding after such a time as this", will have a vastly greater tendency to seal a man's damnation than at another time. The greater means men have, the louder calls, and the greater advantages they are under, the more dangerous is backsliding, the more it has a tendency to enhance guilt, to provoke God, and to harden the heart.
We, in this land of light, have long enjoyed greater advantages than the most of the world. But the advantages which persons are under now for their salvation, are perhaps tenfold to what they have been at such times as we have ordinarily lived in ; and backsliding will be proportionably the greater sin, and the more dangerous to the soul.....You have seen God’s glory and his wonders amongst us, in a most marvellous manner of late. If therefore you look back after this, there will be great danger that God will swear in his wrath, that you shall never enter into his rest; as God sware concerning them that were for going back into Egypt, after they had seen the wonders which God wrought for lsrael. Numb. xiv. 22, 23. “Because all those men that have seen my glory and my miracles that I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not
* The true cf the revival cf Religion at Northampton, A. D. 1735.
hearkened to my voice ; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it.”....The wonders that we have seen among us of late, have been of a more glorious nature than those that the children of Israel saw in Egypt and in the wilderness. 7. We know not but that great part of the wicked world are, at this day, in Sodom's circumstances, when Lot fled out of it, having some outward, temporal destruction hanging over it. It looks as if some great thing were coming ; the state of things in the world seems to be ripe for some great revolution. The world has got to such a terrible degree of wickedness, that it is probable the cry of it has, by this time, reached up to heaven; and it is hardly probable that God will suffer things to go on, as they now do, much longer. It is likely that God will ere long appear in awful Majesty to vindicate his own cause ; and then none wikł be safe that are out of Christ. Now therefore every one should flee for his life, and escape to the mountain, lest he be consumed.....We cannot certainly tell what God is about to do, but this we may know, that those who are out of Christ are in a most unsafe state. 8. To enforce this warning against looking back, let me beseech you to consider the exceeding proneness which there is in the heart to it. The heart of man is a backsliding heart, There is in the heart a great love and hankering desire after the ease, pleasure, and enjoyments of Sodom, as there was in Lot's wife, by which persons are continually liable to temptations to look back. The heart is so much towards Sodom, that it is a difficult thing to keep the eye from turning that way, and the feet from tending thither. When men under convictions are put upon fleeing, it is a mere force, it is because God lays hold on their hands, as he did on Lot's and his wife's, and drags them so far. But the tendency of the heart is to go back to Sodom again. Persons are very prone to backsliding, also through discouragement. They are apt to be discouraged. The heart VoI. VII. 3 L.
is unsteady, soon tired, soon gives out, is apt to listen to discouraging temptations. A little difficulty and delay soon overcome its feeble resolutions. And discouragement tends to backsliding : It weakens persons’ hands, lies as a dead weight on their hearts, and makes them drag heavily ; and if it continue long, it very often issues in security and senselessness. Convictions are often shaken off that way; they begin first to go off with discouragement. Backsliding is a disease that is exceeding secret in its way of working. It is a flattering distemper; it works like a consumption, wherein persons often flatter themselves that they are not worse, but something better, and in a hopeful way to recover, till a few days before they die. So backsliding commonly comes on gradually, and steals on men insensibly, and they still flatter themselves that they are not backslidden. They plead that they are seeking yet, and they hope they have not lost their convictions. And by the time they find it out, and cannot pretend so any longer, they are commonly so far gone, that they care not much if they have lost their convictions. And when it is come to that, it is commonly a gone case with persons as to those convictions. Thus they blind themselves, and keep themselves insensible of their own disease, and so are not terrified with it, nor awakened to use means for relief, till it is past cure. Thus it is that backsliding commonly connes upon persons that have for some time been under any considerable convictions, and afterwards lose them. Let the consideration of this your danger excite you to the greatest care and diligence to keep your hearts, and to watchfulness and constant prayer against backsliding. And let it put you upon endeavors to strengthen your resolutions of guarding - against every thing that tends to the contrary, that you may indeed hold out to the end, for then shall you know, if you follow on to know the Lord. SERMON XIV.”
God Glorified in Man's Dependance.
1. CORINTHIANS i. 29, 30, 31.
‘THAT NO PLESH 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, Accorp ING AS IT IS WRITTEN, HE THAT GLORIETH, LET HIM GLooY 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
* This was the first piece the author published 1731.
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 firesence, &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 firesence, ........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. It is 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. It is by Christ that we have sanctification: We have in him true excellency of heart as well as of understanding ; and he is made untous inherent, as well as imputed righteousness. It is 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.