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In a word, this boldness is remarkable for the folemnity that is in it, it is a solemn gathering; the people, that gather to Shiloh, conie to him with a bebold, Jer. iii. 22. “ Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” The heart goes out with some kind of eminency and folemnity : " Behold, we come;" let heaven and earth be witnesses : we take instruments, as it were, in every angel's hand, in every creatures hand, in every fpire of grass's hand, that we come back to a God in Christ; we are satisfied the whole universe attest, and behold what we are going to do. Not that the believer loves to blaze abroad his religion indecently ; no, no: it, is especially a filent, fecret, heart-gathering, and soul., approach to Shiloh : but they are so far from being alhamed of the match, and so well-pleased are they with it, that they are content it be registrate in heaven, and that the whole creation attest it; “Behold we come!” The man acts with a solemn boldness.
8. In this gathering of the people to Shiloh, they. that are under the conduct of gathering grace and power, are made to act regularly : no wonder, for in gathering to Shiloh, their footsteps are ordered by the Lord, and according to his word, the unerring rule of faith and manners. It is in many respects a regular address and approach : and here I fliall name fome other particulars, which I suppose may be included in the regularity of this approach.
(1.) When there is a gathering to Shiloh, the regular approach and address to him is made penitential. ly: and faith in its addresses to him acts penitentially, mournfully, and tenderly; Going and weeping they fhail go, and seek the Lord their God: they shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, Jer. 1. 4, 5. Going and weeping, this manner of gathering is not inconsistent with the cordial and chearful acting, that I spoke of already; for the tears of gospel-repentance are tears of joy : it is said of the New-testament believers, Isa. XXXV. 10. “ The ranfomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads : they shall obtain joy and gladness, and forrow and
sighing shall flee away." Tho this will not take place in its perfection but in heaven, yet it hath its begun accomplishment in all believers that are gathered in to Shiloh; they obtain joy and gladnels, and LEGAL for- . row and fighing do fiee away : for, according to the measure of their faith in Christ, they have joy and peace in believing; yea, in him believing, they rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. But gospel-forrow, and godly.forrow does not marr the music in this joyful fong; for, while they look on him, whom they have pierced and mourn, Zech. xii. 10. and see him wounded for their fins, Isaiah lv. 5. they fee, at the same time, the blood issuing out at these wounds, to be justicesatisfying blood, wrath-appeafing blood, hell-quenching blood, and heaven-purchasing blood; hence a sweet mixture of joy and forrow both. ---- These seem to be joined together; “ They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them,” Jer. xxxi. 9. It may be rendered, as you may fee, in the margin of some of your Bibles, with FAVOURS will I lead them. As the sense of their own sins and ingratitude makes them tome with weeping; fo, at the same time, the fenfe of God's favours, and kindness in Christ, makes them come with rejoicing; for, with loving-kindness does he draw them, and with favours does he lead them. O! when he favours such a guilty sinner with a pardon, such a filthy finner with a layer of blood, such a naked finner with a robe of righteousness, such a black finner, with a beautiful ornament, such a hell-deserving finner with a promise of glory, such a backsliding pro
fligate with a merciful visit or return, and such a prodi. . gal wretch with a compassionate embracement: and thus with favours does lead them: 0 then it is hard to tell, whether the voice of joy, or the voice of weeping in the soul be loudest. But as we render it asso, it is most expreflive of this penitential address, in gathering to Shiloh ; “ With weeping, and with supplication doth he lead them.” Indeed faith's approach is begun, maintained, and nourished, by prayer and supplication, saying, “ Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief: Lord, increase our faith.” There are some who have
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à presumptuous faith, that can believe when they will, I
I am not here to enter upon the dispute concerning the priority of fạith to repentance, in their natural order, and in their acting and exercise ; it is well if you know both, whether you know the order or not: only, if whatsoever is not of faith is fin, you may guess what fort of repentance it is that is not of faith : and when the word of God fpeaks any where of the proper order, let your experience, consonant to the word, witness, and you will find, that such as the faith is, such will the repentance be. Legal faith works legal repentance ; gospel faith, gospel repentance ; true faith, true repentance. Thus, when the people of Nineveh believ. ed God, then they proclaimed a fast, and put on fack. cloth, Jonah iii. 5.: when they believed his threaten. ing, and yet that he was not irreconcileable, nor implacable, then they repented. Thus, when a man be. lieves, and apprehends that God is pacified towards him, then he is confounded and alhamed, Ezek. xvi. 63.When you have harsh thoughts of God, and no hope of favour at his hand, I suppose then you will find your heart hard like a stone, and inflexible ; but when
you get kindly thoughts of God, and apprehension of his mercy and good-will, and love to you in Chrift, then I imagine you will find joyful meltings, and gospel forrow. O the fire of God's love melts the soul! And the hardness and impenitency is healed, when the Sun of righteousness ariseth with healing under his wings, Mal. iv. 2. The qualities of this penitential approach you may fee, 2 Cor. vii. 11. “ For behold this felf-fame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly fort, what carefulness is wrought in you; yea, what clearing of yourselves; yea, what indignation; yea, what fear: yea, what vehement desire; yea, what zeal; yea, what revenge.”And this penitential acting of faith runs thro' the whole of the believer's life, in an universal tenderness of difposition and deportment, according to the measure of faith. And there are fix tender things in it, which the believer hath.
I. He hath a tender heart, called a broken and contrite heart; broken for fin, and from fin; Josiah his heart was tender. 2. A tender conscience; fome have a conscience feared as with a hot iron, and that is a silent conscience: but the penitent hath a smitten conscience; as David's heart smote him, when he cut off the lap of Saul's garment. 3. A tender eye; “ They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn: Rivers of tears run down their eyes,” because of their own fins, and the sins of others who break God's law. 4. A tender ear, which being circumcised, does hear and fear; “ To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite heart, and trembles at iny word.” 5. A tender lip or tongue, that dare not lie, nor speak prophanely ; " I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.” And, 6. A tender hand, that dares not touch the garments spotted with the flesh, but studies to shun all appearances of evil; or, if you will, you may add, 7. That he hath a tender foot, saying, with Hezekiah, “I will go foftly all my years in the bitterness of ny foul.” And this leads to another quality of this regular approach.
(2.) When there is a gathering to Shiloh, the regular approach and address to him is made obedientially,
as well as penitentially : it is an obediential gathering. And as faith acts penitentially, so it acts obedientially; for it works by love, Gal. v.6.; it purifies the heart, Acts xv. 9.; and the man that hath it purifies himself, even as God is pure, i John iii. 3. It stirs up to new obedience; for, « Faith without works is dead," James ii. 20. 26.- Wherever it is, it is still working, and it can no more be idle, than the fire can be. It is true, “ We are justified by faith, without works," as the apostle fays; that is, without the casuality of works, without conditionality of works, without the instrumentality of works, and without the influence of works upon our justification; but not without the presence of works: for juftifying faith is a fanctifying thing, and natively works, as the fire natively burns. Common faith is a dead, useless faith, making no change or alteration on the soul where it is; but saving faith acts always obedientially : hence you read of the obedience of faith, Rom. xvi. 26.; importing, both that faith acts in obedience to the divine call at first, and that it influences the foul to all the acts of gospel-obedience afterwards. O, says the returning sinner, that is making this obediential address to a God in Christ, I have been a fugitive servant to the most glorious Lord and Master; I have deserted his service, and denied my obedience ; but now, Lord, nail my ear to the door-post, that I may serve thee for ever; nail my heart to thy service, that no trouble, temptation, devil, or defertion may drive me away from thee; nail my eyes to thy service, that I may never look upon vanity; nail my hands to thy service, that I may never do an ill turn; nail my feet to thy way, that I may never turn aside from thee; let all the faculties of my soul be nailed to thy service and obedience.' .
(3.) When there is a gathering to Shiloh, the regular address to him is made speedily; O \the poor soul, that fees itself ready to drop into hell, how speedily, in the day of power, does it flee unto Christ! I flee to thee to bide me, says the Psalmist : the flight of faith is very quick, and swift as lightening, that goes from the one end of heaven to the other in an instant; fo when the soul is on wing, under the influence of the Spirit of