« EdellinenJatka »
time are not exercised Christians. Up then and be doing, and conspire not with the multitude to put a slight on God's speaking by his providence, lest his fury break forth as fire on you with the rest, John vi. 66.
The more rare the observing of providence is, it is the more precious. Stones may be gathered from the surface of the earth, while gold must be dug with much labour out of the bowels of it, The finest things are hardest to be won at: Nulla virtus sine lapide. As Christ himself had a stone rolled on him, so every grace, work, and way of Christ has one. But there is a pearl underneath; and the heavier the stone, the more precious is the pearl.
Come and see in this particular.
II. They that are wise will be observers of providences, Whoso is wise, and will observe these things. And at what pitch your wisdom arrives, your observation of providences will follow it, Eccl. ii. 14. The eating of the forbidden fruit cast all mankind into a spiritual madness; and the truth is, the most part of the world are in that respect as madmen, regarding neither the word nor works of the Lord. But if thou wert come to thyself, it would not be so, Luke xv. 17. How long hast thou acted as a fool, in matters of greatest weight, being penny-wise and pound-foolish, careful for a mite, and in the meantime letting talents slip through thy fingers ? Luke x. 41, 42.
O Sirs, how do unobserved providences aggravate our guilt, and increase our accounts ! When the day shall come, the Lord will reckon with the sinner, for all the pains he has bestowed on him to bring him to himself: when his slighting the call of the word shall be aggravated with so many items of providences. How will the sinner look, when the Lord shall say, Did I not give thee such and such mercies to draw thee from thy sin ? lay such and such crosses in thy way to drive thee from it? What hast thou done with all the instructive up-stirring providences I gave thee? with all the providential warnings, rebukes, &c. given thee? Remember that passage, Prov. is: 12. 'If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.'
III. The wise observation of providences is a soul-enriching trade. They shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. This is so on two accounts, both deducible from the text.
1. That which seems the most barren piece of providence, becomes fruitful by wise observation. Some of these things in the text are very cross providences; yet even by them one shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. Behold a holy art, whereby ye may not only gather honey out of every sweet-smelling flower, but may gather grapes of spiritual profit off the thorns of afflictions, and Jigs
of thistles. The apostlo tells us a mystery, of a pleasure in infirmities, distresses, &c. 2 Cor. xii. 10. Wise observation would let you into the secret.
2. It has the promise, in the text. God has said, such a one shall kuow more and feel more in religion than others. 'To him that hath (i. e. improves what he has) shall be given.' And the more a man sets himself to observe, the more he will get to observe, and the more sappy will his observations be. By the wise observation of providences,
(1.) Sin and duty in particular cases is discovered. No dispensations of providence whatsoever can warrant us to go over the belly of God's commands, 1 Sam. xiii. 11, &c. But where two lawful things are before us, providence may point out what is present duty, and which of them we are to choose. And so the word teacheth, Psal. xxxii. 8. 'I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.'
(2.) One gets a clear view of the divine authority of the scriptures, very necessary in such an age wherein atheism, profaneness, and immorality so much abound. For the wise observer sees the fulfilling of it exactly, and so is confirmed. While he observes providences, he sees scripture-doctrines, promises, threatenings, and prophecies accomplished, and the parallels of scripture-examples; and so reads the truth of God's word in his works, Psal. lviii. 11.
(3.) Hereby a Christian is established in the good ways of the Lord, and that by those very things that make others to stagger, yea, themselves also, when they do not observe, Psal. Ixxiii. 22, &c. It is the woful estrangedness to this exercise that makes so many here-away there-away professors, tossed about with every wind that rises, while amidst all these reelings the wise observer sits firm like the expert mariner among the boisterous waves, Psal. cxliii. 5.
(4.) Hereby a Christian gets store of experiences, to lay by him for use at another time. How did Joseph sustain Egypt in time of the dearth, but by the corn laid up in time of plenty ? So the Psalmist
soul is cast down within me : therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar,' Psalm xlii. 6. But for want of this some people are always from hand to mouth, always to begin; ever learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth, Mark vi. 52.
(5.) Lastly, It is a curse to all the graces of the Spirit. It is a notable help to faith, Exod. xiv. ult. A short-limbed faith will reach far up, when it stands upon experiences.—To love; see the text. Now, the love of God perceived kindles the flame of love in us.—To patience and waiting on the Lord; for observation will keep them from being hasty while the work is on the wheel, Psal.
THE WISE OBSERVATION OF PROVIDENCES URGED.
xxxvii. 2.—To hope ; 'for experience worketh hope,' Rom. v. 4; for former mercies are pledges of future ones.—To contempt of the world.—To holy fear, Exod. xiv. nit.—To delight and joy in the Lord, Psal. xcii. 4.- To self-loathing, and thankfulness, Psal. cxliv. 1, 2, 3, &c.
And now for direction take this doctrine, There is need of true wisdom to fit a man for right observation of providence. And that wisdom is,
1. Spiritual wisdom, 1 Cor. ii. 15. Carnal wisdom is no good observer of providence, as the blind man is no fit judge of colours.
2. Scripture wisdom ; for the scripture is the pattern, and providence the work. They that study the language of Heaven in providence, must consult the scriptures as the dictionary for that language.
3. Practical wisdom, Psal. cxi. 2. Even scripture-notions floating in the head will do but little service, but sinking into the heart, reduced into practice, will be of good use here. And the more to fit you for this work, take these following lessons from the word concerning providences.
(1.) The design of Providence may sometimes lie very hid; and therefore it is good to wait, and not to be rash, Psal. Ixxvii. 19.
(2.) Sometimes providence seems to forget the promise ; but it is not so, but only the time of the promise is not then come, Gen. xv. 4. with xvi. 2.
(3.) Sometimes providence seems to go quite cross to the promise, and his work to go contrary to his word. But wait ye, they will assuredly meet, Gen. xxii.
(4.) Ofttimes providence favours a design, which yet will be blasted in the end, for that it was not the purpose of God, Jonah i. 3.
(5.) Ofttimes providence will run counter in appearance to the real design, and by a tract of dispensations will seem to cross it more and more, till the grave-stone appear to be laid on it. And yet,' at evening-time it shall be light,' Zech. xiv. 7.
(6.) Providence many times lays aside the most likely means and brings about his work by that which nothing is expected of, 2 Kings
v. 11, 12
(7.) Lastly, Sometimes providence works by contraries, as the blind man was cured with laying clay on his eyes.
Learn to live by faith, and be frequent in meditation and selfexamination, and be much in prayer.
Thus I have laid before you the duty of observing providences. May the Lord pity them that make no conscience of practising what they hear, and get nothing of all but a testimony against themselves. And may he give us all understanding in all things.
OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS.
Gen. ii. 16, 17.—And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of
every tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.
Having already shown, that God from all eternity decreed whatever comes to pass; that he executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence ; that he made all things of nothing by the word of his power; that he made man upright, adorned with his moral image, consisting in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; and that his providence, extends to all his creatures, and all their actions : that which now falls to be considered is the special act of providence which God exercised towards man, in the estate wherein he was created, namely, the covenant of works which God made with Adam. This covenant is sometimes called the covenant of works, because works, or obedience, was the condition of it; and sometimes the covenant of life, because life was promised therein as the reward of obedience.
In discoursing from this subject, I shall,
I. Shew that God made a covenant with Adam, when he created him in a state of innocency.
II. Explain the nature of this covenant.
I. That God made a covenant with Adam when he had created him in a state of innocency, appears from this text with the context. For here are the parties contracting, God and man.
1. Here is the duty which God requires of man, not eating of the forbidden fruit; which was no command of the natural law, but superadded thereto, and implied his obligation to observe that law much more.
2. A threatening in case man should break this positive law, Thou shalt die.
3. A promise of life in case of continued obedience. For the threatening manifestly implies another proposition, viz. 'If thou eat not of this tree thou shalt live. Besides, the license the Lord gives him to eat of every other tree in the garden, and so of the tree of life, imports this promise.
4. Man's accepting of the terms. This is left to be gathered from the proposal of it by the Lord to innocent man, who would refuse
no terms that a bountiful God proposed. He objected not against the condition ; he betook himself to the privilege of the covenant, eating of the other trees of the garden. Eve owns it, Gen. iii. 3. . Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.' And when they had eaten of this forbidden fruit, their consciences terrified them, ver. 8. ' Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.' No wonder that Moses with a running pen describes this transaction, which, as to its being the way of salvation then proposed, passed as a flying shadow. Thus this covenant appears from the text.
To confirm this, consider that the scripture speaks of two covenants, Gal. iv. 24. the one of grace, and therefore the other of works. See also Hos. vi. 7. 'They like men have transgressed the covenant.' The Hebrew bears, as Adam. It is the same word that occurs, Job xxxi. 33. 'If I have covered my transgressions as Adam. This will further appear while we shew,
II. The nature of this covenant. Wherein consider,
First, The parties covenanting. On the one hand was God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, man Creator and Sovereign Lord, who is the great Lawgiver, and withal good, and communicative of his goodness to his creatures. On the other part was man, God's creature; Adam, representing all mankind, and covenanting with God, not only for himself, but for all his posterity, as the natural father of all, of whose one blood nations of men were to be made, Acts xvii. 26. and the appointed federal head ; which is clear from the imputation of his sin to all, Gen. ii. 17.' 'In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.' Compare Rom. v. 12. 'As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' There was no mediator in this covenant; nor was there need of any : for man was as yet the holy friend of God, and his service while he stood was acceptable to God, as being fully conformable to his own law, in which he could not but delight, as in his own image.
Secondly, The condition of that covenant was perfect obedience, which God required of Adam, Gal. iii. 10, 12, " Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.—And the law is not of faith : but, The man that doth them shall live in them. The tenor of this covenant was, • Do this and live.' Where three things are to be considered.
1. The law, which was to be the rule of that obedience ; which is twofold. (1.) The moral law, or the law of the ten commandments, as the apostle explains it, Gal. iii. 10. forecited. It is true, Adam