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sinner, as to furnish one with strength to sin against God. See Hab. ii. i'l. Jam, v. 3. - 8. The judginents of God bear witness against you. As many rods as have ever been upon you,
as many witnesses are there of this fad truth. The · rad of God speaks ; for we are commanded to
hear the rad, Micah vi. 9. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom fhall see thy name : hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. Every stroke that the hand of God lays upon us, speaks; and the first thing it says, is, rę have Jinned and come short of the glory of God. For affliction doth not spring out of the ground, nor doth trouble arife out of the dust. And here we may boldly with Eliphaz in that iv. of Job and 7. challenge you to give one instance of any innocent who ever fuffered the least wrong or trouble. Remember, I pray thee, says he to Job, who ever perished being innocent? or where were the rightegus cut off? As if he had said, Search the records of ancient times; rub up by thy memory, and give me but one instance of any perfon who fuffered and was not a minner. I defy thee to give me one instance. Indeed' he was out in the application of that unquestionable truth; for he did thence endeavour to infer that Job was a hypocrite. As to the application, we are not concern ed in it; but for the truth itself, that we own, and challenge you to instance any. Our blessed Lord indeed was free of personal failings, but not fo of imputed ones; for the Lord laid upon bim the iniquities of us all, and he was wounded for our transgressions. And therefore, his lutferings are no ways inconsistent with this truth, That none suffer but sinners; and therefore, your fuf, ferings are a proof, and do testify that ye have :
finned; for God doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men, Lam. iii. 33. He takes not pleasure in afflicting his own creatures; but when he does it, it is for their fins.. What God, in his sovereignty, may do, as to the punishing, or rather afflicting of an innocent creature, we shall not determine. Learned men have learnedly, I may fay, played the fool, or trifled in debating this point, the determination whereof makes · nothing to edification, were it possible to deter: mine it satisfyingly. If any should ask me, Can God punish or afflict an innocent creature? I hould answer, (1.) That questions about what God can do, are dangerous, and may for most part be forborn, (2.) Punish an innocent creature he cannot, for that presupposeth such a fault. (3.) God in the first formation of his creatures did set them such a law for their rule, as did lead them directly to the highest perfection their natures were capable of; and they walking accord, ing to that rule, i.e. being innocent, it is hard to conceive how they could fall fort, or in any mea. sure swerve from the end. If it be still enquired, whether God may not in his absolute sovereignty pass over this, which seems to be the fixed and settled order of his conduct towards the creatures, and afflict them, or suffer them to meet with inconveniences, while they hold close to the rule that God has set them; if I say any state the que. ftion thus, Then, (4.) I shall only propose another question to the enquirer, Can there possibly fall within the compass of God's knowlege, a des sign which will make it worthy of his infinite wis' dom and goodness to do so, to break this law of nature, which is every way suited to his wisdom and goodness? If he say there may, then he is o:
bliged to produce it, which he will find hard enough to do: if he say not, then he determines the question in the negative, but dangerously e. nough; for who knows the infinitely wise designs which may fall within the compass of the thoughts of the omniscient God, whose ways and thoughts are as far above the thoughts of man, as the heavens above the earth? But whatever be in this nice debate, wherein we shall not immix ourselves, the truth we have advanced is certain, That no instance can be given wherein God has afflicted those who have been absolutely free from sin, inherent or imputed: and therefore, the rods of God are witnesses against you that ye have sinned, Speak, O sinners, did you never meet with an af.
fiction in body or mind, in your persons or fami| lies, in yourselves or in your relations, young or
old? Who, or where is the man or woman that never had a cross? I believe that person is scarce to be found in the world who has no complaints, that is, who has no crosses. Well then, as many crolles as ye have had, as many witnesses are there giving in testimony against you, that ye have finned. For no sinning, no suffering.
9. In fine, to name no more witnesses, Death the king of terrors is a witness against you, and gives testimony against all, that they have sinned; for the wages of fin is death, Rom. vi. 23. It is only sin that gives death a power over you. If any of you can plead exemption from death, then you may with some reason plead freedom from the charge we have laid against you; but if not, then in vain will all pretences, shifts and 'evasions be. It may be now we shall not, no not by the testimony of all the famous witnesses we have led against you, bring you to a conviction of sin: but when death, the king of terrors, begins his evidence; he will convince you, ere he have done with you; or he will send you, where ye shall be convinced not much to your comfort.' Death is serjeant to the great King; and when he takes you, arrests you, cites you anon to appear before the bar that is in the higher house, how will your hearts fail you then? O finners, the sight of the grim messenger, death, of the executioner Satan, of the place of torment, heil, and the awful folemnnity of the judge of the quick and the dead, will supersede any further proof, and will awaken the most sleepy conscience, which will then be not on. ly witness but judge, and even executioner, to these who shall not be able to plead an interest in Christ Jesus, who have never been convinced foundly of sin at the bar of the word.
Thus we have made good our charge against all and every one of you, by the testimony of a great many witnesses of unquestionable credit: it is therefore high time, O sinners, for you to be. think yourselves what ye shall answer when ye are repror:d.
Hithertó we have held in the general: we have charged sin upon you all, without fixing any particular sin upon any particular sort of persons: now we come to that which in the next place we proposed in the management of this charge against you; and that is, i
JII. To make good the charge by dealing par. ticularly with the consciences of several foris of persons among you, to bring you, if possible, to a sense of your fin.
All who are in this house may be ranked, according to the apostle John his divifion, into children, young men and fathers; or into children,
these of a middle age, and old perfons. Under young men and women are comprehended all these, whether they have fainilies or not, who are not come to declining years, who are yet in the flower of their strength and vigour. To each of these I would apply myself in a way of conviction, and endeavour to bring them to a sense of sin, and that even of particular fins.
But that I may proceed in this with the more clearness, I shall premise a few things, which may clear the way to what we design upon this head.
And, : 1. There are two great designs which every man should continually aim at, usefulness here, and happiness hereafter. We come not to the : 1 world, as some foolishly apprehend, to spend or pass our time, and no more of it. No, God has cut us out our work. We are all obliged in some one station or other, to lay out ourselves for the advancement of the glory of God in this world. Every one is furnished with endowments more or less. To fome God has given an ample stock, many talents; to some fewer; and to fo:ne but one. All have received, and if all do not employ their endowments, put the case they appear very inconsiderable, they will find it hard to an. swer for the misimprovement. He who had but one talent, for his neglect of it had a dreadful doom pronounced against him, Matth. xxv. 30. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into utter darkness: there Mall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We are not born to ourselves only, but to the world, and therefore we should design usefulness in it; and withal should take a due care of our own principal concern, the salvation of our souls. If he who provides not for his own family, has de
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