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probable, we are not all to meet again in this manner, till we meet before the fiery bench of the glorious Judge; and if you be not gathered to him, as an amia. ble Jesus now, you must be gathered to him as a terrible Judge then.----- And, Oh! that the thoughts of this, would excite poor souls to think of gathering to Shiloh before they part, that they may part with God's blesfing, and not under his heavy curse! But as to you that have been gathered unto Christ, I would have you know, that God allows you strong confolation. You hav. ing fled for refuge to the hope fet before you, you may rejoice, in the hope of the glory of God, that the joy of the Lord may be your strength, in the whole of your work and warfare, as you go thro' the wilderness. You iay rejoice in this, that as your hearts are gathered unto Shiloh now, so your happiest gathering-time is but coming; for he that hath begun to gather you as stones før the spiritual building, will never leave the work, till the building be completed, with shoutings of, « Grace, grace unto it.” He will never give over gathering you, till you be completely happy ; from time to time, the work will be advanced, by the means of his word and ordinances, till the consummation of the work in glory; for he hath appointed a gospel-ininistry for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying the body of Christ, till they all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, Eph. iv. 12, 13. He hath appointed these three fearful things, death, judgment, and eternity, to be three happy gatherings for you : the initial gathering being over, by your getting in to Christ, after your progressive gathering is come to a close, in your having finished your course, and fought the good fight of faith, your glorious and consum. mate gathering will take place : the day of death will be the glorious commencement of it. The first coming of Shiloh hath ushered in a gracious gathering; his fe. cond coming will produce a glorious gathering ; but of these gathering seasons, I formerly spoke at large * ;
* See the gathering seasons treated of above, p. 859---118.
I only say therefore, that then, O believer, then shall you be for ever with the Lord, and it is for this rea fon you are now gathered to him, that there you may be for ever with him : and so sure as you are gathered to him in time, so sure shall you be with him through eternity; not only for ever with the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles ; not only for ever with angels and archangels; not only for ever with saints and seraphims; but for ever with the Lord; for none of these can make a heaven without him. Christ himself will be the centre of the assembly, and heart of the meeting; and though now you are but with him for a start, and he is with you but for a moment, and fo your communion with him is but in transient glances of his glory ; it may be just now you are with him in the banquettinghouse, but instantly you are, as it were, at the back of the door: it is only for a little, but then for ever; and it is but a little of him that you have for a little while ; yet then, O then, shall you be for ever with the Lord ; Wberefore comfort one-another with these words, i Thef. iv. 18. Know, that being gathered to him on earth, you shall be gathered to him in heaven; and being gathered in grace, you shall be gathered in glory : for all the promises of grace and glory are gathered in him, and you being gathered to him, are in him also, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen.
And now this gathering of the people here is to part: but, О happy parting, to these who can date their first or farther gathering to Shiloh, from their gathering to Carnock ? For, part with whom you will, Christ and you shall never part again; whatever clouds may be in your sky, yet your sun is risen, and will never fet. But the most part of you here, were never yet gathered to Shiloh: and oh! how can you find it in your heart to go away without him, and without so much as a desire after him, who is the Desire of all nations! For my own part, I cannot think of your going away in such a case. Alas! shall he have it to say, “ I would have gathered you, as a hen does her chickens under her wings, but you would not !” Oh! wherefore did you gather to
this place, if you would not be gathered to Shiloh! And if you be more willing to be gone, than willing to be gathered, wo is me, that my text will be no more but a witness against you upon Carnock green, that you would not; and that the devil, and the world, and your lusts were more desirable to you, and you had more heart to be gathered to them, than to be gathered to Shiloh. Oh then, Sirs, heartless parting, while you are content to part with Shiloh for ever, rather than to part with a base luft, or a black devil! If that be not your choice, then let your heart say, in the fight of the living God if you can, Lord, I think I would be gathered, and would rather choose to die upon the spot, than not to be gathered unto Shiloh; and, my soul could wish that all my dearest lusts were buried in this green, never to rise again, and that Christ might have my heart for ever, in room of them all. Why, man, can you say that to the heart-fearching God! Then, poor foul, let me desire you to take the first convenient closet or corner you can get, and there tell him this over again more folemnly; and at the same time, bless him that ever Shiloh came to you, and that ever you felt the virtue of this promise, That, To him Should the gathering of the people be.
SERMON LXV ---LXXI.
THE PREGNANT PROMISE with her Illue;
or, the CHILDREN of PROMISE brought forth, and described *.
GAL. iv. 28.
Now we, brethren, as Ifaac, was, are the children of
THIS text presents a subject that concerns all
1 here present, and particularly believing commųnicants. The sacrament of the Lord's fupper is a feal of the covenant of grace; the covenant of grace is a covenant of promise ; the promise of the covenant is the prolific womb that bears and brings forth all God's children, and so the children of God are the children of promise. As it concerns us all therefore to enquire to what family we belong, and whose children we are ; fo believers in particular, or believing communicants, upon this subject may, in order to the increase of their faith, love, and holy evangelical obedience, find themfelves distinguished from the rest of the world, by that sovereign grace that is manifested in the covenant of promise. And upon the back of such a great folem.
* This subject was discussed in seven sermons, mostly preached on facramental occasions. The first two were delivered at the sacrament of the Lord's fupper at Torphichen, on the Sabbath evening, and Mona day, June 19th and 20th. The third at the sacrament at Portmoak, on Monday, July 19th. The fourth probably at Dunfermline, July 23d. The three last at the facramental solemnity of Glendovan, July 31st. all in the year 1726. Vol. IV.
nity, it may not be unsuitable to point them out with a 110w, or give them their proper name and character in the words of our text; Now we, brethren, as Ifaac was, are the children of promise.
As the law and the gospel disfer especially in this, as well as in other things, that whereas in short tlie law is a word of precept, the gospel is a word of promise ; so the covenant of works and of grace differ in this, that whereas in the covenant of works, all the benefits thereof depend upon man's fulfilling of a precept; in the covenant of grace, all depend upon God's fulfilling of a promise in Christ. Hence the covenant of works is called the law, and the covenant of grace the promise, particularly in this episile, chap. ii. 18. Hence allo, in opposition to all these that are under the covenant of works, believers in Christ, who are brought within the bond of the covenant of grace, are called the children of pr, nise; Now we, brethren, as Ifaac was, are the children of promise. Concerning these two covenants of works and grace, the apostle elegantly discourses in the preceding verses, particularly from ver. 21. and downward ; where having upbraided the Galatians for defiring to be under the law, and so for discovering their folly and weakness, in fuilering themfelves to be drawn away from the gospel doctrine of justification, and to be deprived of their freedom from the bondage of the law, he asks them a question, “ Do you not hear the law ?" q. d. How ignorantly do you hold yourselves bound to fulfil the law, and look for eternal life thereby; while, though you hear, you do jot understand the law, but mistake the end and de. lign of it, not considering Christ to be the end of the law, but fuppofing that the very observance of it, even fince the fall of Adam, does give life, and justify? This ignorance was, to the Jews, as a vail before their cyes in the reading of the law, 2 Cor. iii. 14.; yea, this ignorance is the vail by which thousands, that are called Christians, are blinded. Now, from ver. 22. the apoitie thews how their liberty from the law, was prefi -ured in the family of Abraham ; where notice the