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(5.) What though you have been guilty of the most provoking and grievous backsliding, yet there is place in him for your gathering unto ; “ Return, ye backsiiding children, for I will heal your backslidings; yea, I will heal your backslidings, and love you freely,” Jer. iii. 14. 22.
(6.) What though your outward circumstances in the world be never so mean and contemptible, so as no person cares for you, more than the mire of the street, and you are cast out at all hands ; yet there is place in him for your gathering to;. for, “ He gathers the out-casts of Israel.” And, James ii. 5.“ Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, to be rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom ?"
0.) What though many have gathered in to Shiloh already, yet there is room enough, and place enough for you to gather in also ; for, as it is said in the paTable, Luke xiv. 22. though many were gathered in to the supper, yet there was room ; fo here, iho' thoufands, and ten thousands have been gathered to Shiloh, fince he came, and before he came, yet there is room; there is place for you: as he says, “ In his Father's house are many manfions;" fo say I of Shiloh's house, that there are many manfions therein ; with him there are multitudes of mercies for multitudes of finners. O! who can reckon the multitudes of his tender mercies? Who can comprehend the vastness of this gatheringplace? It would hold thousands of worlds, let be one world: therefore let not that stand in the way of your gathering unto Shiloh.
(3.) What though you could never think that there was any place in him for you, nor any mercy for the like of you; yet nevertheless there is a gathering-place in
thoughts:--for, as the heavens are higher than the earth, fo are my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
(9.) What though you be unworthy to come to him, yet there is place in him for unworthy finners to gather in to. Are you unworthy of him ? Sure I am that is true; as true a word as ever you fpake : but the more unworthy you are, the more welcome to him,
who hath worth enough for you and himself both : he expects no worth to be in you, till once you come to him. What is it that makes you unworthy? Is it, that you are poor, miserable, wretched, blind, and naked? Or, is it, that you are stupid and senseless, and know not that you are in these circumltances? Why, he mikes that the very reason of his inviting you to gather in to him; “ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of nie gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich,” &c. Rev. ii. 17, 18. Unworthy finners, gather in to that well-furnished house, where all that you need to make you happy and holy is to be had : and say not you are unfit to come; for there you see, that even impotent and unfensible finners, whom we are ready to shut out, grace is ready to take in. Yea,
(10.) What though you be unable to come to him, and gather in to Shiloh, yet there is place in him for your gathering in to him; Isa. xl. 29. For, “ He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might, he increaseth ilrength.” If you would be gathered, he stands ready to reach you his helping hand, and injoins you to take hold of his strength, that you may make peace with him, and you shall make peace with him, Ifa. xxvi. 3.--Yea, what though you have been unwilling all your days, till this very moment unwilling to be gathered? Yet he who says, “ How oft would I have gathered vou, and you would not;” is now saying, If you would be gathered, I am here, and my power and grace is at your service, for drawing you nearer.-Yea, what tho' you find much unwillingness and enmity this mo. ment in your hearts against him; yet if you would be content that he break your enmity, and make you wil. ling, O there is place, there is place in him for you to gather in to. Yea, what shall I say? Though you be as unwilling as ever you was, and your ill-will against him is ready to land you in the burning lake; yet know, wretched enemy to God and Christ! he is calling you to come to him, saying, “ Whosoever will, let him come.” Oh! will you not be gathered ? “ Why
will you dię? As I live, I have 110 pleasure in your death :” I have infinitely greater pleasure in your gathering to Shiloh, in whom all iny attributes are glurified and well-pleafed. And if this call do at last kindle a fecret wish and desire in your soul, saying, O that he 'would come and gather me! Behold his gathering arnis are stretched out towards you, and you shall be as welcome to him as ever any foul was fince the world began. Well, is there such a gathering-place for the people here, such a gathering-house, with so many What tho's written on the sign of the house, or the face of the door, to invite all passengers that are travelling to eternity, to come in, and be happy for ever? And shall there be no gathering of the people to Shiloh ? May we hope, that divine power hath made fome to be willing, and that they are either faying, “ Behold we come to thee, for thou art the Lord our God;" or else, Lord, come and draw; come and gather, and get the glory to thy name for ever.
Having offered these motives and confiderations; I should next offer fome directions. It is divine power only that does the business; and therefore, I shall only give you those two directions, in case you would know how to manage, fo as you may not be deceived in this matter. If I could help you to heaven, I think, I would desire to do it; and, for your help and direction, in order to your right gathering to Shiloh, I would say to you.
1. Never satisfy yourselves with gathering about him and bis ordinances, without gathering to himself. Many, like the multitude in the gospel, may gather about him, yea, so pear as to press upon him, while there was but one poor woman, that was gathered to him, and touched him;“Some body hath touched me," says Chrift: Why, says the disciples,“ The multitude press upon you; and what mean you, Lord, by that, Some body hath touched me.” Nay, but as one of the Fathers said, Turba premit, fides tangit; “ The multitude press, but " faith toucheth.” Satisfy not yourselves then, I say, with a gathering about him, unless you be gathered to
touched nemit, fides Satisfyn.
hiin. People may gather about a tree, to pluck the fruit thereof, but it is an ither thing to be gathered to it, so as either to become a branch, or have an interest in it; even so, may some people eat of the fruit of the tree of life, in respect of common providence, common graces, common influences ; but it is another thing to have an interest in the tree, and union to it: so here, many may be gathered to ordinances, and even to folemn ordinances, and partake of the external privileges thereof; and yet not first gathered to the God of ordinances, nor having any interest in him, or union unto him, have no right consequently to intermeddle with the children's bread. O Sir! say you, that is a hard note that casts me all down again. Why, may the Lord himself bring down all false refuges: but in case it perplex any poor soul, that hath been fitting under Christ's shadow at this occasion, and his fruit hath been sweet to their taste, and they may think, that all they got, is but only the fruit, while they have no union to, or interest in the tree: Well then, say you, How fhall one know it he only eats of the fruit, and hath no interest in the tree? In answer to which, I will endeavonr to illustrate by this plain fimile : You know, when a man hath no interest in the tree of a garden, if lie gets the fruit, he cares not what come of the tree, though the branches of it were all broken down: he loves the fruit, and takes it ; but the tree is not his own, and therefore he hath no concern about it: but, the man that hath an interest in the tree, though he loves the fruit, yet he loves the tree better than the fruit; and therefore he would rather that people should take away all the fruit from him, than break and destroy the branches of the tree ; for he esteems the tree better than all the fruit that grows upon it. The application thereof is easy ; for, even fo the hypocrite that eats of the fruit of the tree of life, as it were, but hath no interest in the tree; the fruit, viz. the frame, the enlargement, or the like, is all that he wants; the gifts and common graces he gets, is what he solaces himself withal; he rests there, and sits down satisfied, without Christ himself, or any true love to him, and unseigned concern for his glory and interest :
frainersis and che rests
felf is upmost with him, and therefore he pleases himself with the fruit, and loves it more than the tree. But the true believer, that is gathered to Christ, he loves the fruit indeed, and takes pleasure in the communicatien : but the tree itself is above all things to bim; and the fruit he talied fill the more recommends the tree to him. O Christ's gifts are sweet, but himself sweetest of all! The believer's frame is like the frame of a picture ; he is not taken up with the frame, but with ihe picture that is within the frame, even Christ, who is the picture of God, the image of the invisible God. Sce, I fay, that it be Christ himself that you are gathered to
2. Be fill about his liand, in the use of appointed means; but with a constant eve to divine power. Let me211s and ordinances be still used; for though, as they are your performances, they cannot be profitable ; yet, as they are his ordinances, he may put a blessing in them. Therefore be still in the King's high-way, in the use of means; for, though the natural use of means and God's faving grace have no connection ; yet there is far less a connection betwixt that grace, and the neglect of means. The poor beggar, that needs an alnis from the king, goes to the king's high-way, where he pasfes : and surely he is nearer his purpose, than if he should go to the top of a mountain, where the king never comes : f), be you still in the use of means, in the Lord's wayı but rest not there, lest you be like one, that, upon pretence of feeking a treasure on the other side of a river, Thould come to the boat, which is the mean, and relt there, without going further; why, he may thus lose the treasure for ever. In your use of tie means, lock beyond the means, and cry for almighty draiving power, without which it is fimply impof. fible you can make one step towards Shiloh. God knows you can do nothing this way yourself, and he does not expect it of you, that you mould come to him in your own strength : nay, if you essay to do so, you but affront him, who is the strength of Israel; and ye disparage his power, as if a creature, far less a filthy finful creature, dead in trespasses and fins, would act