Ralph Erskine Archive

Ralph Erskine

SERMON LXV.

THE WORD OF SALVATION SENT TO SINNERS.

This subject was the substance of two Sermons: first preached at Cambusnethan, on Sabbath, September 16; and next at Stichel, on Sabbath, October 14, 1739.

“To you is the word of this salvation sent.” Acts 13:26.

My friends, it is a very hard matter for people to be made sensible of their sin, and danger by reason of sin, so as to flock in to Christ, before he comes and apprehends them in their sin by his judgments; and therefore before he comes this way to us, he again and again re­quires us to come to him, and take shelter in himself as the only hiding place. O what a mercy were it, if, when we hear of the Lord’s coming to judgment, we were fearing and flying from the wrath to come! At the voice of the Lord the birds will cry, the beasts will roar, the hinds will calve, the cedars will shake, the mountains will tremble, (Ps. 29); but behold men and women, though endued with rational souls, and hearing his threatening voice in his word, yet neither fear his voice, nor tremble at his word, nor flee from his wrath to his mercy, nor from their sin to the Saviour, to save them from sin and wrath: the most part will not hear on that side of the head. The wicked desire to be let alone in their wickedness, that they may live at peace therein; while yet “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” We are all, by reason of sin, under God’s anger, and yet know it not; and therefore are not seeking to go out of the way wherein God’s anger burns, nor to be friends with him; but here the merciful God is opening the door of mercy, and all the chamber-doors of the city of refuge, saying, Before the storm of wrath come on, turn in there. O may we hearken to his call?

This text is a call upon the back of a song in the former part of the chapter. After singing, the church may prepare for suffering. It is said of the disciples, after their last communion with Christ, “When they had sang an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives,” the place of suffering and trial. The songs of the temple do not exclude sufferings; but may be preparatory for them. The last part of the song here was with reference to a spiritual resurrec­tion, pointing out also the general resurrection, (v. 19). “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs and the earth shall cast out the dead.” It seems to be a pro­phecy of the spiritual resurrection of sinners, and particularly of the Gentiles, which was to take place upon the back of Christ’s resurrection. “Together with my dead body shall they live;” they shall be called after Christ’s resurrection, and shall rise with him, and sit with him in heavenly places; yea, as it is in the original here, where the words together with are but a supplement. “My dead body shall they arise.” They shall become the mystical body of Christ, and rise as part of him: and this will usher in the last glorious resurrection of the saints, of whom Christ is the first fruits, (1 Cor. 15:20).

Now, how and by what means shall this spiritual resurrection be accomplished? Why, even by the call of God, and the voice of Christ in the everlasting gospel, whereof here you have one in my text, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
In which words you have these four things more generally.

1. The duty to which they are called and exhorted; that is to come and enter into their chambers, and shut their doors about them, and hide themselves. These are metaphorical expressions, drawn from the practice of peoples taking shelter before a storm; and importing, that they would speedily come in to Christ for re­fuge, and make use of all these ways and means God hath appointed in his word; particularly, by faith and repentance, turning from sin to God, through Jesus Christ. This is the duty.
2. The extent of the duty, “For a little moment, till the in­dignation be overpast; importing that they are to continue in the exercise of these duties till the effects of God’s anger be over. And it is but a moment; though it be all your life-time, it is but a moment in comparison of eternity. All their afflictions here, how­ever tedious they may seem, are but short and momentary, when compared with the happiness reserved for them. The storm may blow very hard, but it will over, and come to a period.”

3. You have the persons to whom this exhortation is given, my people; that is, not only these that are mine by profession, and common federal relation; but especially mine by special covenant-relation, by special adoption and participation of my Spirit, that know my will, and do it: for these seem here to be set in opposition to the rest of the world, that are called the inhabitants of the earth, in the next verse.

4. You have the kindly arguments and familiar way wherein this duty is pleased. The kindly way is, “Come my people.” It is not, go in thither, where I am not to be with you; but, come in here, where I am; come to me, come with me: and so, while he proposes the duty, he proposes himself to be the Leader and Helper in the duty. It is not, Go yourself alone; but, “Come; come with me from Lebanon.”

The argument and reason is, there is a storm coming; stay not without doors, lest the storm be upon you; why, “Behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Where also you may observe four things.

(1.) The certainty of the thing, it is with a Behold; “Behold, he cometh:” it shall certainly be; and you shall see God executing vengeance. It is certain, therefore behold it.

(2.) The solemnity of the thing; “The Lord cometh out of his place to punish.” It is spoken after the manner of man like one rising in fury out of his place, to reach a stroke to his enemy, as it is said, Isa. xxviii. 12, “The Lord shall rise up as in mount Pere-aim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” It is with a special solemnity he threatens to punish; “Be­hold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish.”

(3.) The justice of it: God comes to afflict and plague them that are the inhabitants of the earth, but it shall be in righteous and just punishment of their iniquity; the cry of their sins brings God out of his place, to punish them. Besides the everlasting punish­ment which the wicked shall undergo hereafter, there are instances of remarkable punishments of sinful nations and churches, when their sin has come to a height.

(4.) The necessity of it: “The earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain:” that is, the very earth cries for vengeance on the sinners that live upon the earth; the earth shall vomit up the blood that hath been unjustly shed, as the voice of Abel’s blood cried from the earth, (Gen. 4:10-11; See Job 20:27), “The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.” These bloody sins that seemed to have been buried in oblivion will be called to mind; and the earth itself that seemed to cover and hide them will discover and reveal them, and witness against the sinner. Omitting many doctrines take this one.

Observation: “That in shaking times, when wrath is threatened upon a sinful people, such is the care that God hath for the safety and security of his own, that he wills them to come into their cham­bers, and not stay without doors, to be exposed to the violence of the storm that is a-coming.”

For proof and illustration of this doctrine, we shall confirm both the branches of it.

1. That God hath a care of his own, their safety and security is plain here from his direction given to them, what they are to do, before he brings on a storm. And you may notice the respect he hath to their security, verse 1 of this chapter: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah. We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” See, to this purpose, in evil times he will make up his jewels, and spare them as a man spareth his son that serveth him (Mal. 3:16-17). Read also, “Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saying that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob saith the Lord. For lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth,”(Amos 9:8-9). It is said, that “False Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive, if it were possible, the very elect,” (Matt. 24:24):  but it is not possible they can be either deceived or destroyed.

2. That God wills them to come into their chambers before the storm of wrath come on, as here and elsewhere. See Zephaniah 2:1-3; “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not de­sired, before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” To this purpose you may read, “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kind­ness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will re­turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meat-offer­ing, and a drink offering unto the Lord ‘your God?” (Joel 2:12-14). See some promises also to this purpose; “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock, (Ps. 27:5). Thou shalt hide me in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man; thou shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues,” (Ps. 30:20). See his name; “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not for­saken them that seek thee,” (Ps. 9:9-10): and also his peoples’ practice; “I flee to thee to hide me,” (Ps. 143:9).

The method we would observe, for the farther prosecution of this subject, through divine assistance, shall be the following:—

  1. Enquire when may the time be said to be a threatening time so as a storm is evidently approaching?
  2. Why the Lord will take care of his people’s safety and se­curity in such times?
  3. What chambers he wills them to come into, in order to their safety?
  4. Make application of the whole subject.

I. When is it evident that a storm of wrath is coming upon a land, and that the Lord is about to come out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth? To this we reply in the following particulars.
1. When all manner of sins abound, and these become national, such as these mentioned; “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land: by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one therein shall languish,” (Hosea 4:1-3) &c. Together with backsliding from God’s covenant, hypocrisy, and lukewarmness, (Isa. 10:5-6; 58:1-8; 29:13-14). When people are lukewarm, God will spue them out of his mouth, (Rev. 3:16). Incorrigibleness, (Deut. 28:20). When they persecute the servants of God, (2 Chron.36:16). When universal security prevails as it did over the old world, (Jer. 5:11-12). Falling from their first love, (Rev. 2:4-5). Obstinacy in sin, (Num. 14:41-44). Oppression of the poor and fatherless, (Ex. 21:22-24). Covenant-breaking, (Deut. 29:24-25). Loathing of the heavenly manna, and despising the gospel, the word of God, (Jer. 26:4-6). Scoffing at religion and good men, (Ps. 37:13-14; Jer. 18:20-21). When error abounds, (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Unbelief, the mother sin, (Ps. 78:20-33); 106:24; Pride, (2 Chron. 32:25-26). Corrupting the worship of God, (1 Kings 11:5-9). Disobedience to the call of God, upon whatever pretence, and following false light, (1 Kings 13:17-26).
2. It is evident that a storm of wrath is coming upon a land, when people’s sins are aggravated. When they are the sins of Jerusalem, of a professing people, then six angels were sent to de­stroy them, while only two were sent to Sodom; “And behold six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughtering weapon in his hand,” (Ezek. 9:2). When sins are committed against much light, against many checks of conscience, many beams of light, many means of grace, many calls of providence, many instances of mercy and divine goodness; and against the patience and forbear­ance of God, (Rom. 2:4-5).
3. When the patience of God is not only abused, but laughed at, and ridiculed by a profane age, that begin to say, as it is said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4). Where is the threatening of his coming to judgment? Then is the Lord angry, and will let men know that he is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, though he is long-suffering to us-ward; and that he is not slack concerning his threatening, but will render vengeance to his enemies, (Deut. 32:41).
4. It is an evidence that the Lord is about to punish the inha­bitants of the earth, when there are few or none to stand in the gap, and keep out the wrath that is coming in; “And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God,” (Ezek. 22:30-31). Then it is the time for the birds to fly into their nests, the storm is approaching. When good men are taken away, and there is a great scarcity of them; “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come,” (Isa. 58:1). It is on this account the prophet Micah cries out, “Wo is me, for the good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men,” (Micah 7:1-2). In a word sometimes the aspect of providence pro­phecies this to all that have eyes in their head.

II. We come now to speak a little of the respect the Lord hath to the safety and security of his own people when a storm is com­ing. And here we may consider, 1. The reasons why: 2. The manner how he secures them.
1st, He will do so, as appears from these reasons, following, among others.
1. Because he loves them with a peculiar love. Hence, the Psalmist, prays, that the Lord would let him see the good of his chosen, “That,” (says he) “I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, and that I may rejoice with thine inheritance,” (Ps. 106:5). The love of God is above all love; and it is a tender and a compassionate love. He loves his people, and therefore can protect them in time of danger: “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that love and fear him,” (Ps. 103:13). “Though he visit their iniquities with rods, yet his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from them,” (Ps. 89:32).

2. He will take care of their safety, because of his relation to them; he being their God, and they his people; he their King, and they his subjects. He is indeed Lord and King of all the earth, but theirs in a special sense. He is their Shepherd, and they the sheep of his pasture: and because he is their Shep­herd, they shall not want protection or provision in straits. He is their Father, and they his sons and daughters: will he not take care of his children? He is their husband; and will he not take care of his spouse? “No man hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth it, even as the Lord the Church,” (Eph. 5:29).

3. The Lord will provide for the security of his people, because of the constant intercession of Christ for them in heaven; for he is their Advocate, appearing in the presence of God for them. There are some who have been given to Christ by the Father, whom he will take care of and protect by his prayers; “I pray not for the world, but for them that thou hast given me,” (John 17:9). The preservation of the remnant is owing to Christ’s prayer and intercession. See this clear from Zechariah 1:12-13, “Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of Hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against whom thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years. And the Lord answered the angel, that talked with me, with good words, and comfortable words.”

4. The Lord will take care of his own, because of his promise engaged for their security; “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock,” (Ps. 27:5); “He shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure,” (Isa. 33:16); “A man shall be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest,” (Isa. 33:2); “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him,” (Mal. 3:17). He will set a mark upon them, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof,” (Ezek. 9:4).

2dly. How, and in what manner will he secure them, when they seem as much exposed as the rest of the world? Do not good men fall in common calamities as well as others? True, indeed; some­times it is so: but then it is,
1. For, their compliance with the sins of the time, and not coming into their chambers but staying without doors, when the storm comes on. When they partake of the sins of the wicked, they partake of their plagues: when they are too much conformed to the world, they suffer with the world. Good men may be careless in sanctifying the Lord, and making him their fear and dread; but when they do so, then he is for a sanctuary, (Isa. 8:13-14).

2. God sometimes suffers his own to fall in the common cala­mity, because there is another world, there is a rest remaining for them, a better happiness than this life.

Yet, after all, there is a vast difference betwixt the righteous falling in the common calamity and the wicked. 1. The godly man may suffer affliction, and yet have the support of divine grace, while the wicked know nothing of it. 2. The sufferings of the one purge him; the sufferings of the other poison him. 3. They are for a chastisement to the one, but for a punishment to the other. 4. Yea, death itself to the one but kills his body, but to the other it is the destruction of soul and body both.

But, as to the manner how God secures his people in common danger,
1. He sometimes secures them by death itself that they may not see the evil and farther calamity that is coming upon the earth. Thus it is said of Abijah, “He shall die: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave; because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel,” (1 Kings 14:13). None in Jeroboam’s family had any good thing in them but this child. Thus see what is said of good; Josiah “Behold there­fore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil that I will bring upon this place,” (2 Kings 22:20).

2. God secures his people in the storm, by supporting and comforting them in their trouble; “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God,” (2 Cor. 1:4). Who would not drink of that cup that is sweet­ened with the consolation of the Holy Ghost, sometimes making them say, This trouble is no trouble; this pain is no pain; this rack is like a bed of roses, for the sense of God’s love swallows up all?

3. In a word, he hath wonderful ways of securing them by his presence and providence. Thus Paul was secured by the merciful providence of God, when forty persons and persecutors had vowed his ruin, and that they should neither eat nor drink till they had killed him. Both scripture and ecclesiastical history are full of instances of his merciful protecting providence. Infinite Wisdom hath many ways to secure his own.

III. The third head proposed was, To show what chambers he wills them to come into, that they may escape the storm when s­eeming.
In general, when we speak of chambers, it supposes a house, where the chambers are. Now, as God himself, as God in Christ, is the house; “Be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me,” (Ps. 31:2): and there are as many chambers in this house as there are attributes and perfections in God, to which we are called to fly by faith: so the church of God is called a house; the church invisible a spiritual house: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,” (1 Pet. 2:5); “a habitation of God through the Spirit,” (Eph. 2:22). And here there are chambers that belong to the house, and to which all the household of faith will betake them­selves.

More particularly, I shall name four sorts of chambers we are invited to come into, that are the chambers of the house of God, as belonging to everyone that hath come into the house. “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers.”

1. There are chambers of distinction we are invited to come into, even to our own apartments, so as not to be united with or conform to the world; “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” (2 Cor. 6:17). Come out of Babylon; “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and so partake of her plagues,” (Rev. 18:4). How are we to come out of the world? It is by not partaking with the world in their sins; “Be not ye therefore partakers with them,” (Eph. 5:7), and by being not conform to the world; “Be not conform to the world, but be ye transformed,” (Rom. 12:2). And thus we are to come out of Baby­lon, or out of the corrupt part of a church, by not partaking with them, or being conformed to them, but rather testifying against them in the name of Christ. This is the way how the saints in scripture have overcome their enemies; “They overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” (Rev. 12:11). This is the way we are to distinguish ourselves for the Lord in threatening times, by coming into the chambers of distinction, or apartment of the house, that it may appear we are on the Lord’s side. If God hath set the godly apart for himself, they ought to set themselves apart from this world.

2. There are chambers of defense we are called to come into, where we may be safe in the worst of times. The name of God is a strong tower, a strong chamber, a chamber of strength, (Prov. 18:10), into which we are to run for shelter. “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee,” (Ps. 9:10). Every perfection of God is a chamber; “Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength,” (Isa. 26:4). These are the secrets of his ta­barnacle; “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” (Ps. 91:1). Every office of Christ is a chamber; and he invites us to come into him, and rest safely; “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matt. 11:28). Every pro­mise of the covenant is a chamber; and they are very sure, firm, and durable rooms and apartments, being all Yea and Amen in Christ. The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and we are come in there by faith in his word, and holy confidence in a promising God. By faith every believer finds a way to these cham­bers, and there he hides himself with pleasure, and triumphs when he finds himself brought there; “The King hath brought me into his chambers, we will rejoice and be glad in thee,” (Song 1:4).

3. There are chambers of devotion that we are called to come into; “Enter thou into thy closet, and shut thy door, and pray to thy Father which is in secret,” and seeth in secret, (Matt. 6:6). Recourse to these chambers of devotion, for seeking God in pri­vate and secret, as well as public, is always our duty, especially in times of danger, and of threatened wrath; therefore seek righte­ousness, seek meekness; “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger,” (Zeph. 2:3). And thus we may hide ourselves in the evil day, when we put ourselves in God’s hand to hide us; “I flee to thee to hide me,” (Psalm 43:9). And their hearts shall live that seek him. All that call upon him in truth shall be safe, and shall be hid either under heaven, or in heaven; “The prudent man fore­sees the evil, and hides himself,” (Prov. 22:3). O come into the chambers of devotion.

4. There are chambers of action, and business that we are called to come into. God’s house is not only a house of prayer, but a work-house, wherein we are to do something for God in our day and generation; “Why stand ye here all the day idle,” (Matt. 20:6). And in chapter 21:28, “Go work to-day in my vineyard.” God calls his people, not only to cry and pray to him, but also to action and diligence. When Israel was in great danger at the side of the Red Sea, and their enemies behind pursuing them, God says to Moses, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak to the people that they go forward,” (Ex. 15:15). We are not only to cry but to go forward in our work and service, in our several places and stations, as magistrates, ministers, or people, in all the duties in­cumbent upon us, when judgments are threatened.

IV. The fourth and last head proposed was, To make application. Is it so, That in shaking times, when wrath is threatened upon a sinful people, such is the care that God hath for the safety and security of his own, that he wills them to come into their cham­bers, and not stay without doors, to be exposed to the violence of the storm that is coming? Then hence see,

1. What good reason there is to apprehend that a storm of wrath is coming, and that the Lord is about to punish the inha­bitants of Britain and Ireland for their iniquity. Scotland, Eng­land, and Ireland, are guilty of breaking a Solemn League and Covenant they made with God for Reformation. And our bloody sins cry from the earth for vengeance to come down from heaven: our perjury cries for vengeance; the sins of civil and ecclesiastic courts, the sins of princes, pastors, and people, cry for vengeance; our bloodshed cries for vengeance; our unbelief and despising of Christ, cry for vengeance; our long contempt of the means of grace cries for vengeance; our defection and apostasy cry for vengeance; all the catalogue of sins, formerly mentioned, cry for vengeance. Before Jerusalem was destroyed, a terrible sword hung over the temple. My friends, the sword of the Lord hangs over us in these lands. Though there want not signs in the very heavens and earth portending sad days, yet we need no other signs than what the word of God declares to us, that national sins must be punished with national desolation. Many special judgments are we under already; and the glory of the Lord is far removed from the sanctuary, and the slaughter-weapons are ready: even though France and Spain were not so ready as they seem to be, yet God, who hath many arrows in his quiver, is ready, saying, “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get ye down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision,” (Joel 2:13-14).

2. Hence see who they are that alone shall be safe and happy in the day of public calamities and common destruction, namely, the Lord’s people, who shelter themselves in the chambers of safety and protection which God calls them to come into; his poor humbled people who sigh and mourn for all the abominations done in the midst of Jerusalem.

But, leaving all other uses and inferences, I come to offer the exhortation in the text; “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” Come, as Noah into the ark, and shut the doors about you, when God threatens a flood. Israel must keep within doors when the destroying angel is slaying the firstborn of Egypt, else the blood upon the doorposts will not secure them; so must Rehab and her family when Jericho was destroyed.

I shall offer a few directions, and then lay down some con­siderations out of the text.

1st, We are to tender some directions to you. Well then, Sirs, O be persuaded to come in.

1. To your chambers of distinction, and side yourselves for God. If Baal be God, then follow him; but if the Lord be God, then follow him.

2. Come into your chambers of defense. “There is no other name given under heaven, whereby to be saved, but the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, to which the righteous run and are safe.”

3. Come into your chambers of devotion; and, O pray, pray, pray. Let your carnal, formal, twice a day prayers, be turned into David’s seven times a day; let your hypocritical howling be turned into praying; and your praying be turned into wrestling and violence; “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

4. Come into your chambers of action, work, and business, in your several stations:
(1.) As magistrates, by their authority, whether supreme or subordinate. See how the king of Nineveh behaved when judg­ments were threatened; “For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes: and caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed nor think water: who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:6-9). So did Jehoshaphat; “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast,” (2 Chron. 20:3) Magistrates should solemnly execute judg­ment and justice, (Jer. 5:1; 21:2); yea, they should solemnly reform themselves, and study the reformation of the land and places of their concern, so did Asa, Josiah, and Jehoshaphat.

(2.) Ministers are to do their duty; partly by preaching boldly against all manner of sin, for the convincing and humbling of sin­ners; “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins,” (Isa. 58:1): partly by praying and interceding in behalf of the Lord’s people; “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth,” (Isa. 62:6-7). Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine inheritance to reproach,” (Joel 2:17); and partly by using that authority God has given them for the edification of the body of Christ.

(3.) People are to do their duty, by humbling themselves for all their own sins, and the sins of the land, sprinkling themselves by faith in the blood of the Lamb, (Ex. 12:13); ceasing to do evil, and learning to do good; and sighing and crying for all the abominations done in Jerusalem, that a mark may be set upon them. We shall now offer the following directions to all in general.

1. O! agree with thine adversary while thou art yet in the way. If God be your enemy, woe will be to you when you are in the midst of the storm, and have no friend’s house or chamber to go into. O seek to have peace made up with God, by the media­tion of your friend Jesus Christ, who is the friend of sinners.

2. See that thy faith and repentance be evangelical. In sum­mer, a house with many holes and chinks may serve a man’s turn to dwell in; but, in time of winter, men desire a house that is ten­able, and will keep out the violence of the cold: so, in the days of peace, any sort of a faith serves the turn with many; but, in time of danger, distress, or affliction, saving faith will only stand instead.

3. Endeavor to get strength of judgment, and soundness in the faith of gospel truths, that in time of trial you may be able to give a reason of your faith; and that might be an antidote, if popery were coming in, against your kneeling to the mass. Poor ignorant creatures have no antidote against any error in the world.

4. Seek not only to have a strong head, but a courageous heart, to stand the trial. Your cause is good, if it be the truth; your master is great, if he be Christ. The captain hath gone before you.

5. Wean thyself from all things in the world, looking upon thy husband, thy child, thy goods and honor, as created things that must away; and set your eyes upon what is permanent: and be ready to express the love you think you have to Christ, and to ex­press it even in the most perilous times.

6. Beware of the sins of the times, and bewail them; and seek to be affected with all the dishonors done God’s name, both in former and present times; that, being purged from the sins of the times, you may be preserved from the judgments of the times. Live a life of dependence upon Jesus: keep within your chambers: go not abroad to the world, lest the storm be upon you before you be housed again.

2dly. We shall next lay down some considerations, drawn out of the text.
Consideration 1: “That there are some, who, in a peculiar manner, are the people of God. My people, says God here, in contradistinc­tion from the inhabitants of the earth, in the following verse.” And, indeed, when God is about to bring judgments upon the wicked, he would have his people out from amongst them. They will not hearken to his voice; but come you, who are my people. But probably you may ask, Who are his peculiar people? Why, his people are called, The sheep of his pasture. But, it may be still required, Who are the sheep of his pasture? They are described to be such who know and follow him; “My sheep hear my voice, and follow me,” (John 10:27) says Christ. They are always bleating, so to speak, after him, and crying to him, saying, “Lord, let me see thy face.” They are not content with anything in the world till they get a sight of him. They hear his voice, and regard it. But when Christ speaks to others; for example, to the drunkard, saying, will you come to me, and quit your drunkenness? No! he will not hear on this side of the head. If he say to the whoremonger, Will you come to me, and quit your whoredom? No; he rejects the proposal; he does not regard his voice; he goes on in his lusts. Such cannot be his sheep, cannot surely be his people. But when Christ speaks to his own sheep, and requires them to quit their lusts, and come to him; their answer is, “Lord, I cannot get it done; though it be long since I began to do it, yet I think I am never the nearer my purpose than I was many years ago; but, Lord, do it for me: Lord, make me come to thee; and, O make me quit all my lusts and idols.” This argues they are his people, and evidence they are his sheep. They aim at obeying his voice, in his name and strength: and the day comes wherein he will save them completely.

Consideration 2: “That his people are a false people: they have the chambers that belong to them, for their safety in days of trouble:” “Come thou into thy chambers.” Besides the protection of their God, his name and arms, where they are, as in a castle, safe and sure indeed: for, “As the mountains are about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people:” they have inward peace, and the testimony of a good conscience, which is a heartsome chamber, like a dry house in a rainy day: “And the peace of God that passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:7): even keep them as in a garrison, as the original word signifies.

Consideration 3: “That their safety from the storm lies in keeping within their chambers, and keeping their chamber-doors shut.” Whenever they go out of their chambers, they are exposed; for, in that case, when God strikes the wicked, they shall not be spared, any more than the rest. They must not only enter into their cham­bers, but abide within doors; and not only so, but shut the doors, lest the pursuer, the devil, come into them: they are to bar him out, as it were. This points out the necessity, not only of having faith, but of living by faith, and living a life of close dependence upon a God in Christ.

Consideration 4: “That the troubles and trials of the church and chil­dren of God, are but for a short time, but for a moment; yea, as it were, but a little moment, and the indignation, shall overpass: the indignation of man against them, and the indignation of God; his fatherly anger and the effects thereof: and then you shall be set at liberty.” The longest period of time here is but a moment, when compared with everlasting life. And what the worse will he be who hath suffered longer, than they who have suffered a shorter time? he that hath suffered seven years, than he that hath suffered seven days? Nay, the gold glances the finer the longer it hath been in the fire. Therefore, this should make you not at all to grudge or repine. You are not to think that it is good for you to be quit of affliction; for then you would think yourself well, and would not desire another heaven; but he orders affliction, that you may long for the place where there is no more affliction. But they who get all their pleasure here, let them not look for another heaven hereafter: for it will be told them, they have got their heaven here on earth: “Thou enjoyedst thy good things.” But happy they who bear afflictions dutifully ! It is good reason you be used as your Master was before you, yet your affliction will not last long though you get many a stormy day, yet a fair one is coming, that will make you think little of all you suffered. When once you come to the upper chambers of God’s house, it will be no grief of heart to you in heaven that you suffered so long upon earth; it will appear but a moment when the indignation is overpast.

Consideration 5: “That the fear of the Lord’s coming to punish the earth, the world, for their iniquity, is a good motive even to God’s people to fly into their chambers, and hide themselves. Do it, says the text; ‘For, behold the Lord cometh out of his place.’” Be­cause if they fly not out of the way, they may get a part of the shower and storm. When the Lord rained down the great hail­stones upon the Egyptians, all that were out of their houses were destroyed; and they that left their beasts in the field went not thither to bring them off, all was destroyed: so, if you be out of your chambers, God will not spare you; therefore this should be a motive to fly. The fear of that hell that is coming upon the wicked, both in this life and the life to come, will be a motive to his people, who, though they be secured from hell, and ought not to have the slavish fear of that, yet are to fear that God who can destroy both soul and body.

Consideration 6: “That it is a terrible thing when God comes out of his place to punish men: ‘Behold the Lord cometh out of his place.’” It is observed by one, That God’s place is the mercy-seat; there he delights to sit and dwell between the cherubims, and there he is all mercy; but, when he comes out of his place, and, as it were, leaves the mercy-seat, and betakes himself to the judgment seat, there he appears as an absolute God, a terrible God; there he takes no pleasure to be: “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” (Ezek. 33:11). But, when he is provoked thus to come out of his place, then he is all wrath, and nothing but a consuming fire. And, alas! what a terrible thing is it, to see God out of his place, punishing and destroying sinners, raining the first drops of hell upon them here, to presage the everlasting storm of wrath that is to blow upon them. Consider, O sinner, what case thou wilt be in, when cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone! It is a bottom­less pit; and, when thou art cast into it, thou wilt constantly be falling down, and never find a bottom; and always the farther thou goest down, the more hot, and the more unable wilt thou be to en­dure it. And, as long as God lives, thou art to live in that case, who live and die out of Christ. Alas! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;” and to behold him coming out of his place!

Consideration 7: “That few, very few, will escape when the Lord arises to punish; for, he is to punish the inhabitants of the earth.” Now, who are the inhabitants of the earth? and, who are there amongst us that are not the inhabitants of the earth? What, say you! are none to escape? To this we reply: A man is said to dwell where his heart dwells, and to be, not where he is, but where he loves, and where his heart is. These are properly the inhabitants of the earth, whose hearts inhabit and dwell fixedly upon the earth; and so they only escape that have their hearts in heaven, their con­versation in heaven, their burgess-ship (citizenship) in heaven, (Phil. 3:20); where these who have their conversation and burgess-ship in heaven, are set in opposition to these who mind earthly things, and whose end is destruction. They then who shall escape the punishment here threatened, are not burgesses in this world; their heart is not here below. But they who have their heart set upon earth, they will perish together with the perishing things their heart set upon: they never desire to have their hearts elsewhere than upon the world; nor are they uneasy because they want heavenly hearts. I suppose this may be a trying thing to most part here. Perhaps, when you send your heart once to heaven, you send it twenty times to the world: if you send your heart heavenward on the Sabbath-day, it may be you scarce do so till Sabbath come again; and therefore I mightily fear you be of the inhabitants of the earth here spoken of, that are to be punished. A child of God may have much of a worldly heart, but then it is a burden to him, and a sore trouble; a disease he seeks unto Jesus for healing of. However, those inhabitants of the earth here spoken of, are opposed to the people of God spoken of in the former verse: “Come, my people.”

Consideration 8: “That God hath just cause to punish when he arises out of his place to do so. He comes to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” Wherefore is it? For their iniquity! He will not punish without just cause, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” He will declare their faults to them, and let them see it is for iniquity; that it is for their iniquity, their own wickedness; “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee,” (Jer. 2:19). Observe then, that God’s judgments are just, and sinners shall be obliged to confess it; and none shall be able to say at the day of judgment, I have got wrong, I have got injustice; for that court is not like the courts among us, whether civil or ecclesiastic, from which some will come, saying, I have got a shameful wrong done me this day. But none shall have that to say here. As there is no appeal from God’s court, so none shall have cause of complaint that injustice hath been done to them; nay, rather shall they have it to say, Ah! it was highly equitable, and a righteous sentence upon me; for how often have I been warned of this doleful day by the ministers of Christ and told of all that is now come upon me; but I thought nothing of it, and delayed and shifted the grand concern! Their conscience shall condemn them: “Every mouth shall be stopped, and all the inhabitants of the world become guilty before God,” and be forced to subscribe to the equity of their doom, and justice of the sentence. He punishes for their iniquity.

Consideration 9: “That heaven and earth will join together in con­demning the wicked and ungodly, when God comes out of his place to punish them; ‘For the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’” All the wrongs and bloody sins that have been committed on the earth, from age to age, shall be dis­closed, by the earth itself bearing witness to the wickedness done in it; as it is said, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us: for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us; it shall be a witness to you lest ye deny your God,” (Joshua 24:17). So it may be said, the earth hath seen and heard all the wickedness done upon it: and by the recognition of conscience it shall witness and testify against the sinner. As the Lord, the om­niscient God, will reveal the whole matter, even the faults that men thought were quite out of their mind, their twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years old wickedness laid as fair and fresh before them as it was the hour wherein it was committed; so the earth shall bear witness and disclose all the sins that seemed to be buried in it; for with the resurrection of the bodies of the wicked, there will be a resurrection of sins. In a manner, the earth will vomit up what it swallowed down, and behooved to bear so long in its breast. God will tell you the place where you committed your whoredom. The wall and timber of the house will bear witness against you. Take heed, drunkard, the day will come when God will make the table you sit at stand up, as it were, in your view, and bear witness against you. Take heed adulterer, God will make the bed to rise and witness against you. None but they that have a good Advocate and a good conscience shall escape. The earth will disclose the blood that hath been shed in Scotland; the bloody shambles will rise and witness against the persecutors. “The earth shall no more cover her slain, when the Lord comes out of his place.”

Consideration 10: “That the time of the Lord’s coming to judgment is not here specified; not only to show that we know not how near at hand the avenging stroke is, but also to show that the Lord is not yet away out of his place; he is not yet risen up in his wrath, but as yet upon his mercy-seat.” His judgments may be very near in­deed; for much barrenness is amongst us; and he says, “Behold, the axe is laid to the root of the tree.” And there are few watery eyes for sin among us; few sighers and mourners, that have the mark of preservation when the destroying angel comes about.

But as yet the chamber-doors of mercy are open, and the Lord is saying, Come, come; “enter into your chambers;” therefore,
“Today, while it is called today, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” O Sirs, come to Jesus for safety.

(1.) You who are without, and have never come in to these chambers, let me tell you that yet a little while, and the calamity here threatened will be upon you: sickness or sorrow may be upon you in a little; yea, death and judgment will be upon you in a little. Sword, famine, and pestilence may be hasting upon the land: many spiritual and temporal judgments are already surrounding us; and, if by these we will not be reformed, we may expect that God will punish us seven times more, and yet seven times more for our iniquities. And since Reformation amongst the genera­lity is going back, instead of going forward, either in church or state: days of dreadful calamity, and storms, wrath, and indignation are hastening on. O then, why stay you without doors, where it is impossible you can escape the indignation of God, and the damnation of hell? O fly, fly for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before you. Christ is the city of refuge, the chamber of safety, and all the doors of the chamber are yet open to you; “Whosoever will, let him come.” Christ, as a Prophet, is an open door of hope for ignorant sinners; O come in here, and be taught. Christ, as a Priest, is an open door of hope for guilty sin­ners; O come in here, and get remission of sin in his blood. Christ, as a King, is an open door of hope to captive sinners, under the power and slavery of sin and Satan; O let such come in here, and share of the victory of Christ, who came in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil, and who comes in the Spirit by a preached gos­pel, for the same end. O come into him by faith and believing in him and, if you cannot come, pray, pray that he may draw you in; for he stands ready to take you by the hand: he says not, Go in without me; but, come in and take my help.

Ralph Erskine - SERMON LXV

Ralph Erskine Archive

Ralph Erskine

SERMON LXV.

THE WORD OF SALVATION SENT TO SINNERS.

This subject was the substance of two Sermons: first preached at Cambusnethan, on Sabbath, September 16; and next at Stichel, on Sabbath, October 14, 1739.

“To you is the word of this salvation sent.” Acts 13:26.

My friends, it is a very hard matter for people to be made sensible of their sin, and danger by reason of sin, so as to flock in to Christ, before he comes and apprehends them in their sin by his judgments; and therefore before he comes this way to us, he again and again re­quires us to come to him, and take shelter in himself as the only hiding place. O what a mercy were it, if, when we hear of the Lord’s coming to judgment, we were fearing and flying from the wrath to come! At the voice of the Lord the birds will cry, the beasts will roar, the hinds will calve, the cedars will shake, the mountains will tremble, (Ps. 29); but behold men and women, though endued with rational souls, and hearing his threatening voice in his word, yet neither fear his voice, nor tremble at his word, nor flee from his wrath to his mercy, nor from their sin to the Saviour, to save them from sin and wrath: the most part will not hear on that side of the head. The wicked desire to be let alone in their wickedness, that they may live at peace therein; while yet “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” We are all, by reason of sin, under God’s anger, and yet know it not; and therefore are not seeking to go out of the way wherein God’s anger burns, nor to be friends with him; but here the merciful God is opening the door of mercy, and all the chamber-doors of the city of refuge, saying, Before the storm of wrath come on, turn in there. O may we hearken to his call?

This text is a call upon the back of a song in the former part of the chapter. After singing, the church may prepare for suffering. It is said of the disciples, after their last communion with Christ, “When they had sang an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives,” the place of suffering and trial. The songs of the temple do not exclude sufferings; but may be preparatory for them. The last part of the song here was with reference to a spiritual resurrec­tion, pointing out also the general resurrection, (v. 19). “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs and the earth shall cast out the dead.” It seems to be a pro­phecy of the spiritual resurrection of sinners, and particularly of the Gentiles, which was to take place upon the back of Christ’s resurrection. “Together with my dead body shall they live;” they shall be called after Christ’s resurrection, and shall rise with him, and sit with him in heavenly places; yea, as it is in the original here, where the words together with are but a supplement. “My dead body shall they arise.” They shall become the mystical body of Christ, and rise as part of him: and this will usher in the last glorious resurrection of the saints, of whom Christ is the first fruits, (1 Cor. 15:20).

Now, how and by what means shall this spiritual resurrection be accomplished? Why, even by the call of God, and the voice of Christ in the everlasting gospel, whereof here you have one in my text, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
In which words you have these four things more generally.

1. The duty to which they are called and exhorted; that is to come and enter into their chambers, and shut their doors about them, and hide themselves. These are metaphorical expressions, drawn from the practice of peoples taking shelter before a storm; and importing, that they would speedily come in to Christ for re­fuge, and make use of all these ways and means God hath appointed in his word; particularly, by faith and repentance, turning from sin to God, through Jesus Christ. This is the duty.
2. The extent of the duty, “For a little moment, till the in­dignation be overpast; importing that they are to continue in the exercise of these duties till the effects of God’s anger be over. And it is but a moment; though it be all your life-time, it is but a moment in comparison of eternity. All their afflictions here, how­ever tedious they may seem, are but short and momentary, when compared with the happiness reserved for them. The storm may blow very hard, but it will over, and come to a period.”

3. You have the persons to whom this exhortation is given, my people; that is, not only these that are mine by profession, and common federal relation; but especially mine by special covenant-relation, by special adoption and participation of my Spirit, that know my will, and do it: for these seem here to be set in opposition to the rest of the world, that are called the inhabitants of the earth, in the next verse.

4. You have the kindly arguments and familiar way wherein this duty is pleased. The kindly way is, “Come my people.” It is not, go in thither, where I am not to be with you; but, come in here, where I am; come to me, come with me: and so, while he proposes the duty, he proposes himself to be the Leader and Helper in the duty. It is not, Go yourself alone; but, “Come; come with me from Lebanon.”

The argument and reason is, there is a storm coming; stay not without doors, lest the storm be upon you; why, “Behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Where also you may observe four things.

(1.) The certainty of the thing, it is with a Behold; “Behold, he cometh:” it shall certainly be; and you shall see God executing vengeance. It is certain, therefore behold it.

(2.) The solemnity of the thing; “The Lord cometh out of his place to punish.” It is spoken after the manner of man like one rising in fury out of his place, to reach a stroke to his enemy, as it is said, Isa. xxviii. 12, “The Lord shall rise up as in mount Pere-aim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” It is with a special solemnity he threatens to punish; “Be­hold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish.”

(3.) The justice of it: God comes to afflict and plague them that are the inhabitants of the earth, but it shall be in righteous and just punishment of their iniquity; the cry of their sins brings God out of his place, to punish them. Besides the everlasting punish­ment which the wicked shall undergo hereafter, there are instances of remarkable punishments of sinful nations and churches, when their sin has come to a height.

(4.) The necessity of it: “The earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain:” that is, the very earth cries for vengeance on the sinners that live upon the earth; the earth shall vomit up the blood that hath been unjustly shed, as the voice of Abel’s blood cried from the earth, (Gen. 4:10-11; See Job 20:27), “The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.” These bloody sins that seemed to have been buried in oblivion will be called to mind; and the earth itself that seemed to cover and hide them will discover and reveal them, and witness against the sinner. Omitting many doctrines take this one.

Observation: “That in shaking times, when wrath is threatened upon a sinful people, such is the care that God hath for the safety and security of his own, that he wills them to come into their cham­bers, and not stay without doors, to be exposed to the violence of the storm that is a-coming.”

For proof and illustration of this doctrine, we shall confirm both the branches of it.

1. That God hath a care of his own, their safety and security is plain here from his direction given to them, what they are to do, before he brings on a storm. And you may notice the respect he hath to their security, verse 1 of this chapter: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah. We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” See, to this purpose, in evil times he will make up his jewels, and spare them as a man spareth his son that serveth him (Mal. 3:16-17). Read also, “Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saying that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob saith the Lord. For lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth,”(Amos 9:8-9). It is said, that “False Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive, if it were possible, the very elect,” (Matt. 24:24):  but it is not possible they can be either deceived or destroyed.

2. That God wills them to come into their chambers before the storm of wrath come on, as here and elsewhere. See Zephaniah 2:1-3; “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not de­sired, before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” To this purpose you may read, “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kind­ness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will re­turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meat-offer­ing, and a drink offering unto the Lord ‘your God?” (Joel 2:12-14). See some promises also to this purpose; “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock, (Ps. 27:5). Thou shalt hide me in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man; thou shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues,” (Ps. 30:20). See his name; “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not for­saken them that seek thee,” (Ps. 9:9-10): and also his peoples’ practice; “I flee to thee to hide me,” (Ps. 143:9).

The method we would observe, for the farther prosecution of this subject, through divine assistance, shall be the following:—

  1. Enquire when may the time be said to be a threatening time so as a storm is evidently approaching?
  2. Why the Lord will take care of his people’s safety and se­curity in such times?
  3. What chambers he wills them to come into, in order to their safety?
  4. Make application of the whole subject.

I. When is it evident that a storm of wrath is coming upon a land, and that the Lord is about to come out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth? To this we reply in the following particulars.
1. When all manner of sins abound, and these become national, such as these mentioned; “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land: by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one therein shall languish,” (Hosea 4:1-3) &c. Together with backsliding from God’s covenant, hypocrisy, and lukewarmness, (Isa. 10:5-6; 58:1-8; 29:13-14). When people are lukewarm, God will spue them out of his mouth, (Rev. 3:16). Incorrigibleness, (Deut. 28:20). When they persecute the servants of God, (2 Chron.36:16). When universal security prevails as it did over the old world, (Jer. 5:11-12). Falling from their first love, (Rev. 2:4-5). Obstinacy in sin, (Num. 14:41-44). Oppression of the poor and fatherless, (Ex. 21:22-24). Covenant-breaking, (Deut. 29:24-25). Loathing of the heavenly manna, and despising the gospel, the word of God, (Jer. 26:4-6). Scoffing at religion and good men, (Ps. 37:13-14; Jer. 18:20-21). When error abounds, (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Unbelief, the mother sin, (Ps. 78:20-33); 106:24; Pride, (2 Chron. 32:25-26). Corrupting the worship of God, (1 Kings 11:5-9). Disobedience to the call of God, upon whatever pretence, and following false light, (1 Kings 13:17-26).
2. It is evident that a storm of wrath is coming upon a land, when people’s sins are aggravated. When they are the sins of Jerusalem, of a professing people, then six angels were sent to de­stroy them, while only two were sent to Sodom; “And behold six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughtering weapon in his hand,” (Ezek. 9:2). When sins are committed against much light, against many checks of conscience, many beams of light, many means of grace, many calls of providence, many instances of mercy and divine goodness; and against the patience and forbear­ance of God, (Rom. 2:4-5).
3. When the patience of God is not only abused, but laughed at, and ridiculed by a profane age, that begin to say, as it is said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4). Where is the threatening of his coming to judgment? Then is the Lord angry, and will let men know that he is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, though he is long-suffering to us-ward; and that he is not slack concerning his threatening, but will render vengeance to his enemies, (Deut. 32:41).
4. It is an evidence that the Lord is about to punish the inha­bitants of the earth, when there are few or none to stand in the gap, and keep out the wrath that is coming in; “And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God,” (Ezek. 22:30-31). Then it is the time for the birds to fly into their nests, the storm is approaching. When good men are taken away, and there is a great scarcity of them; “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come,” (Isa. 58:1). It is on this account the prophet Micah cries out, “Wo is me, for the good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men,” (Micah 7:1-2). In a word sometimes the aspect of providence pro­phecies this to all that have eyes in their head.

II. We come now to speak a little of the respect the Lord hath to the safety and security of his own people when a storm is com­ing. And here we may consider, 1. The reasons why: 2. The manner how he secures them.
1st, He will do so, as appears from these reasons, following, among others.
1. Because he loves them with a peculiar love. Hence, the Psalmist, prays, that the Lord would let him see the good of his chosen, “That,” (says he) “I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, and that I may rejoice with thine inheritance,” (Ps. 106:5). The love of God is above all love; and it is a tender and a compassionate love. He loves his people, and therefore can protect them in time of danger: “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that love and fear him,” (Ps. 103:13). “Though he visit their iniquities with rods, yet his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from them,” (Ps. 89:32).

2. He will take care of their safety, because of his relation to them; he being their God, and they his people; he their King, and they his subjects. He is indeed Lord and King of all the earth, but theirs in a special sense. He is their Shepherd, and they the sheep of his pasture: and because he is their Shep­herd, they shall not want protection or provision in straits. He is their Father, and they his sons and daughters: will he not take care of his children? He is their husband; and will he not take care of his spouse? “No man hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth it, even as the Lord the Church,” (Eph. 5:29).

3. The Lord will provide for the security of his people, because of the constant intercession of Christ for them in heaven; for he is their Advocate, appearing in the presence of God for them. There are some who have been given to Christ by the Father, whom he will take care of and protect by his prayers; “I pray not for the world, but for them that thou hast given me,” (John 17:9). The preservation of the remnant is owing to Christ’s prayer and intercession. See this clear from Zechariah 1:12-13, “Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of Hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against whom thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years. And the Lord answered the angel, that talked with me, with good words, and comfortable words.”

4. The Lord will take care of his own, because of his promise engaged for their security; “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock,” (Ps. 27:5); “He shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure,” (Isa. 33:16); “A man shall be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest,” (Isa. 33:2); “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him,” (Mal. 3:17). He will set a mark upon them, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof,” (Ezek. 9:4).

2dly. How, and in what manner will he secure them, when they seem as much exposed as the rest of the world? Do not good men fall in common calamities as well as others? True, indeed; some­times it is so: but then it is,
1. For, their compliance with the sins of the time, and not coming into their chambers but staying without doors, when the storm comes on. When they partake of the sins of the wicked, they partake of their plagues: when they are too much conformed to the world, they suffer with the world. Good men may be careless in sanctifying the Lord, and making him their fear and dread; but when they do so, then he is for a sanctuary, (Isa. 8:13-14).

2. God sometimes suffers his own to fall in the common cala­mity, because there is another world, there is a rest remaining for them, a better happiness than this life.

Yet, after all, there is a vast difference betwixt the righteous falling in the common calamity and the wicked. 1. The godly man may suffer affliction, and yet have the support of divine grace, while the wicked know nothing of it. 2. The sufferings of the one purge him; the sufferings of the other poison him. 3. They are for a chastisement to the one, but for a punishment to the other. 4. Yea, death itself to the one but kills his body, but to the other it is the destruction of soul and body both.

But, as to the manner how God secures his people in common danger,
1. He sometimes secures them by death itself that they may not see the evil and farther calamity that is coming upon the earth. Thus it is said of Abijah, “He shall die: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave; because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel,” (1 Kings 14:13). None in Jeroboam’s family had any good thing in them but this child. Thus see what is said of good; Josiah “Behold there­fore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil that I will bring upon this place,” (2 Kings 22:20).

2. God secures his people in the storm, by supporting and comforting them in their trouble; “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God,” (2 Cor. 1:4). Who would not drink of that cup that is sweet­ened with the consolation of the Holy Ghost, sometimes making them say, This trouble is no trouble; this pain is no pain; this rack is like a bed of roses, for the sense of God’s love swallows up all?

3. In a word, he hath wonderful ways of securing them by his presence and providence. Thus Paul was secured by the merciful providence of God, when forty persons and persecutors had vowed his ruin, and that they should neither eat nor drink till they had killed him. Both scripture and ecclesiastical history are full of instances of his merciful protecting providence. Infinite Wisdom hath many ways to secure his own.

III. The third head proposed was, To show what chambers he wills them to come into, that they may escape the storm when s­eeming.
In general, when we speak of chambers, it supposes a house, where the chambers are. Now, as God himself, as God in Christ, is the house; “Be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me,” (Ps. 31:2): and there are as many chambers in this house as there are attributes and perfections in God, to which we are called to fly by faith: so the church of God is called a house; the church invisible a spiritual house: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,” (1 Pet. 2:5); “a habitation of God through the Spirit,” (Eph. 2:22). And here there are chambers that belong to the house, and to which all the household of faith will betake them­selves.

More particularly, I shall name four sorts of chambers we are invited to come into, that are the chambers of the house of God, as belonging to everyone that hath come into the house. “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers.”

1. There are chambers of distinction we are invited to come into, even to our own apartments, so as not to be united with or conform to the world; “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” (2 Cor. 6:17). Come out of Babylon; “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and so partake of her plagues,” (Rev. 18:4). How are we to come out of the world? It is by not partaking with the world in their sins; “Be not ye therefore partakers with them,” (Eph. 5:7), and by being not conform to the world; “Be not conform to the world, but be ye transformed,” (Rom. 12:2). And thus we are to come out of Baby­lon, or out of the corrupt part of a church, by not partaking with them, or being conformed to them, but rather testifying against them in the name of Christ. This is the way how the saints in scripture have overcome their enemies; “They overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” (Rev. 12:11). This is the way we are to distinguish ourselves for the Lord in threatening times, by coming into the chambers of distinction, or apartment of the house, that it may appear we are on the Lord’s side. If God hath set the godly apart for himself, they ought to set themselves apart from this world.

2. There are chambers of defense we are called to come into, where we may be safe in the worst of times. The name of God is a strong tower, a strong chamber, a chamber of strength, (Prov. 18:10), into which we are to run for shelter. “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee,” (Ps. 9:10). Every perfection of God is a chamber; “Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength,” (Isa. 26:4). These are the secrets of his ta­barnacle; “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” (Ps. 91:1). Every office of Christ is a chamber; and he invites us to come into him, and rest safely; “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matt. 11:28). Every pro­mise of the covenant is a chamber; and they are very sure, firm, and durable rooms and apartments, being all Yea and Amen in Christ. The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and we are come in there by faith in his word, and holy confidence in a promising God. By faith every believer finds a way to these cham­bers, and there he hides himself with pleasure, and triumphs when he finds himself brought there; “The King hath brought me into his chambers, we will rejoice and be glad in thee,” (Song 1:4).

3. There are chambers of devotion that we are called to come into; “Enter thou into thy closet, and shut thy door, and pray to thy Father which is in secret,” and seeth in secret, (Matt. 6:6). Recourse to these chambers of devotion, for seeking God in pri­vate and secret, as well as public, is always our duty, especially in times of danger, and of threatened wrath; therefore seek righte­ousness, seek meekness; “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger,” (Zeph. 2:3). And thus we may hide ourselves in the evil day, when we put ourselves in God’s hand to hide us; “I flee to thee to hide me,” (Psalm 43:9). And their hearts shall live that seek him. All that call upon him in truth shall be safe, and shall be hid either under heaven, or in heaven; “The prudent man fore­sees the evil, and hides himself,” (Prov. 22:3). O come into the chambers of devotion.

4. There are chambers of action, and business that we are called to come into. God’s house is not only a house of prayer, but a work-house, wherein we are to do something for God in our day and generation; “Why stand ye here all the day idle,” (Matt. 20:6). And in chapter 21:28, “Go work to-day in my vineyard.” God calls his people, not only to cry and pray to him, but also to action and diligence. When Israel was in great danger at the side of the Red Sea, and their enemies behind pursuing them, God says to Moses, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak to the people that they go forward,” (Ex. 15:15). We are not only to cry but to go forward in our work and service, in our several places and stations, as magistrates, ministers, or people, in all the duties in­cumbent upon us, when judgments are threatened.

IV. The fourth and last head proposed was, To make application. Is it so, That in shaking times, when wrath is threatened upon a sinful people, such is the care that God hath for the safety and security of his own, that he wills them to come into their cham­bers, and not stay without doors, to be exposed to the violence of the storm that is coming? Then hence see,

1. What good reason there is to apprehend that a storm of wrath is coming, and that the Lord is about to punish the inha­bitants of Britain and Ireland for their iniquity. Scotland, Eng­land, and Ireland, are guilty of breaking a Solemn League and Covenant they made with God for Reformation. And our bloody sins cry from the earth for vengeance to come down from heaven: our perjury cries for vengeance; the sins of civil and ecclesiastic courts, the sins of princes, pastors, and people, cry for vengeance; our bloodshed cries for vengeance; our unbelief and despising of Christ, cry for vengeance; our long contempt of the means of grace cries for vengeance; our defection and apostasy cry for vengeance; all the catalogue of sins, formerly mentioned, cry for vengeance. Before Jerusalem was destroyed, a terrible sword hung over the temple. My friends, the sword of the Lord hangs over us in these lands. Though there want not signs in the very heavens and earth portending sad days, yet we need no other signs than what the word of God declares to us, that national sins must be punished with national desolation. Many special judgments are we under already; and the glory of the Lord is far removed from the sanctuary, and the slaughter-weapons are ready: even though France and Spain were not so ready as they seem to be, yet God, who hath many arrows in his quiver, is ready, saying, “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get ye down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision,” (Joel 2:13-14).

2. Hence see who they are that alone shall be safe and happy in the day of public calamities and common destruction, namely, the Lord’s people, who shelter themselves in the chambers of safety and protection which God calls them to come into; his poor humbled people who sigh and mourn for all the abominations done in the midst of Jerusalem.

But, leaving all other uses and inferences, I come to offer the exhortation in the text; “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” Come, as Noah into the ark, and shut the doors about you, when God threatens a flood. Israel must keep within doors when the destroying angel is slaying the firstborn of Egypt, else the blood upon the doorposts will not secure them; so must Rehab and her family when Jericho was destroyed.

I shall offer a few directions, and then lay down some con­siderations out of the text.

1st, We are to tender some directions to you. Well then, Sirs, O be persuaded to come in.

1. To your chambers of distinction, and side yourselves for God. If Baal be God, then follow him; but if the Lord be God, then follow him.

2. Come into your chambers of defense. “There is no other name given under heaven, whereby to be saved, but the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, to which the righteous run and are safe.”

3. Come into your chambers of devotion; and, O pray, pray, pray. Let your carnal, formal, twice a day prayers, be turned into David’s seven times a day; let your hypocritical howling be turned into praying; and your praying be turned into wrestling and violence; “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

4. Come into your chambers of action, work, and business, in your several stations:
(1.) As magistrates, by their authority, whether supreme or subordinate. See how the king of Nineveh behaved when judg­ments were threatened; “For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes: and caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed nor think water: who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:6-9). So did Jehoshaphat; “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast,” (2 Chron. 20:3) Magistrates should solemnly execute judg­ment and justice, (Jer. 5:1; 21:2); yea, they should solemnly reform themselves, and study the reformation of the land and places of their concern, so did Asa, Josiah, and Jehoshaphat.

(2.) Ministers are to do their duty; partly by preaching boldly against all manner of sin, for the convincing and humbling of sin­ners; “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins,” (Isa. 58:1): partly by praying and interceding in behalf of the Lord’s people; “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth,” (Isa. 62:6-7). Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine inheritance to reproach,” (Joel 2:17); and partly by using that authority God has given them for the edification of the body of Christ.

(3.) People are to do their duty, by humbling themselves for all their own sins, and the sins of the land, sprinkling themselves by faith in the blood of the Lamb, (Ex. 12:13); ceasing to do evil, and learning to do good; and sighing and crying for all the abominations done in Jerusalem, that a mark may be set upon them. We shall now offer the following directions to all in general.

1. O! agree with thine adversary while thou art yet in the way. If God be your enemy, woe will be to you when you are in the midst of the storm, and have no friend’s house or chamber to go into. O seek to have peace made up with God, by the media­tion of your friend Jesus Christ, who is the friend of sinners.

2. See that thy faith and repentance be evangelical. In sum­mer, a house with many holes and chinks may serve a man’s turn to dwell in; but, in time of winter, men desire a house that is ten­able, and will keep out the violence of the cold: so, in the days of peace, any sort of a faith serves the turn with many; but, in time of danger, distress, or affliction, saving faith will only stand instead.

3. Endeavor to get strength of judgment, and soundness in the faith of gospel truths, that in time of trial you may be able to give a reason of your faith; and that might be an antidote, if popery were coming in, against your kneeling to the mass. Poor ignorant creatures have no antidote against any error in the world.

4. Seek not only to have a strong head, but a courageous heart, to stand the trial. Your cause is good, if it be the truth; your master is great, if he be Christ. The captain hath gone before you.

5. Wean thyself from all things in the world, looking upon thy husband, thy child, thy goods and honor, as created things that must away; and set your eyes upon what is permanent: and be ready to express the love you think you have to Christ, and to ex­press it even in the most perilous times.

6. Beware of the sins of the times, and bewail them; and seek to be affected with all the dishonors done God’s name, both in former and present times; that, being purged from the sins of the times, you may be preserved from the judgments of the times. Live a life of dependence upon Jesus: keep within your chambers: go not abroad to the world, lest the storm be upon you before you be housed again.

2dly. We shall next lay down some considerations, drawn out of the text.
Consideration 1: “That there are some, who, in a peculiar manner, are the people of God. My people, says God here, in contradistinc­tion from the inhabitants of the earth, in the following verse.” And, indeed, when God is about to bring judgments upon the wicked, he would have his people out from amongst them. They will not hearken to his voice; but come you, who are my people. But probably you may ask, Who are his peculiar people? Why, his people are called, The sheep of his pasture. But, it may be still required, Who are the sheep of his pasture? They are described to be such who know and follow him; “My sheep hear my voice, and follow me,” (John 10:27) says Christ. They are always bleating, so to speak, after him, and crying to him, saying, “Lord, let me see thy face.” They are not content with anything in the world till they get a sight of him. They hear his voice, and regard it. But when Christ speaks to others; for example, to the drunkard, saying, will you come to me, and quit your drunkenness? No! he will not hear on this side of the head. If he say to the whoremonger, Will you come to me, and quit your whoredom? No; he rejects the proposal; he does not regard his voice; he goes on in his lusts. Such cannot be his sheep, cannot surely be his people. But when Christ speaks to his own sheep, and requires them to quit their lusts, and come to him; their answer is, “Lord, I cannot get it done; though it be long since I began to do it, yet I think I am never the nearer my purpose than I was many years ago; but, Lord, do it for me: Lord, make me come to thee; and, O make me quit all my lusts and idols.” This argues they are his people, and evidence they are his sheep. They aim at obeying his voice, in his name and strength: and the day comes wherein he will save them completely.

Consideration 2: “That his people are a false people: they have the chambers that belong to them, for their safety in days of trouble:” “Come thou into thy chambers.” Besides the protection of their God, his name and arms, where they are, as in a castle, safe and sure indeed: for, “As the mountains are about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people:” they have inward peace, and the testimony of a good conscience, which is a heartsome chamber, like a dry house in a rainy day: “And the peace of God that passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:7): even keep them as in a garrison, as the original word signifies.

Consideration 3: “That their safety from the storm lies in keeping within their chambers, and keeping their chamber-doors shut.” Whenever they go out of their chambers, they are exposed; for, in that case, when God strikes the wicked, they shall not be spared, any more than the rest. They must not only enter into their cham­bers, but abide within doors; and not only so, but shut the doors, lest the pursuer, the devil, come into them: they are to bar him out, as it were. This points out the necessity, not only of having faith, but of living by faith, and living a life of close dependence upon a God in Christ.

Consideration 4: “That the troubles and trials of the church and chil­dren of God, are but for a short time, but for a moment; yea, as it were, but a little moment, and the indignation, shall overpass: the indignation of man against them, and the indignation of God; his fatherly anger and the effects thereof: and then you shall be set at liberty.” The longest period of time here is but a moment, when compared with everlasting life. And what the worse will he be who hath suffered longer, than they who have suffered a shorter time? he that hath suffered seven years, than he that hath suffered seven days? Nay, the gold glances the finer the longer it hath been in the fire. Therefore, this should make you not at all to grudge or repine. You are not to think that it is good for you to be quit of affliction; for then you would think yourself well, and would not desire another heaven; but he orders affliction, that you may long for the place where there is no more affliction. But they who get all their pleasure here, let them not look for another heaven hereafter: for it will be told them, they have got their heaven here on earth: “Thou enjoyedst thy good things.” But happy they who bear afflictions dutifully ! It is good reason you be used as your Master was before you, yet your affliction will not last long though you get many a stormy day, yet a fair one is coming, that will make you think little of all you suffered. When once you come to the upper chambers of God’s house, it will be no grief of heart to you in heaven that you suffered so long upon earth; it will appear but a moment when the indignation is overpast.

Consideration 5: “That the fear of the Lord’s coming to punish the earth, the world, for their iniquity, is a good motive even to God’s people to fly into their chambers, and hide themselves. Do it, says the text; ‘For, behold the Lord cometh out of his place.’” Be­cause if they fly not out of the way, they may get a part of the shower and storm. When the Lord rained down the great hail­stones upon the Egyptians, all that were out of their houses were destroyed; and they that left their beasts in the field went not thither to bring them off, all was destroyed: so, if you be out of your chambers, God will not spare you; therefore this should be a motive to fly. The fear of that hell that is coming upon the wicked, both in this life and the life to come, will be a motive to his people, who, though they be secured from hell, and ought not to have the slavish fear of that, yet are to fear that God who can destroy both soul and body.

Consideration 6: “That it is a terrible thing when God comes out of his place to punish men: ‘Behold the Lord cometh out of his place.’” It is observed by one, That God’s place is the mercy-seat; there he delights to sit and dwell between the cherubims, and there he is all mercy; but, when he comes out of his place, and, as it were, leaves the mercy-seat, and betakes himself to the judgment seat, there he appears as an absolute God, a terrible God; there he takes no pleasure to be: “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” (Ezek. 33:11). But, when he is provoked thus to come out of his place, then he is all wrath, and nothing but a consuming fire. And, alas! what a terrible thing is it, to see God out of his place, punishing and destroying sinners, raining the first drops of hell upon them here, to presage the everlasting storm of wrath that is to blow upon them. Consider, O sinner, what case thou wilt be in, when cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone! It is a bottom­less pit; and, when thou art cast into it, thou wilt constantly be falling down, and never find a bottom; and always the farther thou goest down, the more hot, and the more unable wilt thou be to en­dure it. And, as long as God lives, thou art to live in that case, who live and die out of Christ. Alas! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;” and to behold him coming out of his place!

Consideration 7: “That few, very few, will escape when the Lord arises to punish; for, he is to punish the inhabitants of the earth.” Now, who are the inhabitants of the earth? and, who are there amongst us that are not the inhabitants of the earth? What, say you! are none to escape? To this we reply: A man is said to dwell where his heart dwells, and to be, not where he is, but where he loves, and where his heart is. These are properly the inhabitants of the earth, whose hearts inhabit and dwell fixedly upon the earth; and so they only escape that have their hearts in heaven, their con­versation in heaven, their burgess-ship (citizenship) in heaven, (Phil. 3:20); where these who have their conversation and burgess-ship in heaven, are set in opposition to these who mind earthly things, and whose end is destruction. They then who shall escape the punishment here threatened, are not burgesses in this world; their heart is not here below. But they who have their heart set upon earth, they will perish together with the perishing things their heart set upon: they never desire to have their hearts elsewhere than upon the world; nor are they uneasy because they want heavenly hearts. I suppose this may be a trying thing to most part here. Perhaps, when you send your heart once to heaven, you send it twenty times to the world: if you send your heart heavenward on the Sabbath-day, it may be you scarce do so till Sabbath come again; and therefore I mightily fear you be of the inhabitants of the earth here spoken of, that are to be punished. A child of God may have much of a worldly heart, but then it is a burden to him, and a sore trouble; a disease he seeks unto Jesus for healing of. However, those inhabitants of the earth here spoken of, are opposed to the people of God spoken of in the former verse: “Come, my people.”

Consideration 8: “That God hath just cause to punish when he arises out of his place to do so. He comes to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” Wherefore is it? For their iniquity! He will not punish without just cause, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” He will declare their faults to them, and let them see it is for iniquity; that it is for their iniquity, their own wickedness; “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee,” (Jer. 2:19). Observe then, that God’s judgments are just, and sinners shall be obliged to confess it; and none shall be able to say at the day of judgment, I have got wrong, I have got injustice; for that court is not like the courts among us, whether civil or ecclesiastic, from which some will come, saying, I have got a shameful wrong done me this day. But none shall have that to say here. As there is no appeal from God’s court, so none shall have cause of complaint that injustice hath been done to them; nay, rather shall they have it to say, Ah! it was highly equitable, and a righteous sentence upon me; for how often have I been warned of this doleful day by the ministers of Christ and told of all that is now come upon me; but I thought nothing of it, and delayed and shifted the grand concern! Their conscience shall condemn them: “Every mouth shall be stopped, and all the inhabitants of the world become guilty before God,” and be forced to subscribe to the equity of their doom, and justice of the sentence. He punishes for their iniquity.

Consideration 9: “That heaven and earth will join together in con­demning the wicked and ungodly, when God comes out of his place to punish them; ‘For the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’” All the wrongs and bloody sins that have been committed on the earth, from age to age, shall be dis­closed, by the earth itself bearing witness to the wickedness done in it; as it is said, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us: for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us; it shall be a witness to you lest ye deny your God,” (Joshua 24:17). So it may be said, the earth hath seen and heard all the wickedness done upon it: and by the recognition of conscience it shall witness and testify against the sinner. As the Lord, the om­niscient God, will reveal the whole matter, even the faults that men thought were quite out of their mind, their twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years old wickedness laid as fair and fresh before them as it was the hour wherein it was committed; so the earth shall bear witness and disclose all the sins that seemed to be buried in it; for with the resurrection of the bodies of the wicked, there will be a resurrection of sins. In a manner, the earth will vomit up what it swallowed down, and behooved to bear so long in its breast. God will tell you the place where you committed your whoredom. The wall and timber of the house will bear witness against you. Take heed, drunkard, the day will come when God will make the table you sit at stand up, as it were, in your view, and bear witness against you. Take heed adulterer, God will make the bed to rise and witness against you. None but they that have a good Advocate and a good conscience shall escape. The earth will disclose the blood that hath been shed in Scotland; the bloody shambles will rise and witness against the persecutors. “The earth shall no more cover her slain, when the Lord comes out of his place.”

Consideration 10: “That the time of the Lord’s coming to judgment is not here specified; not only to show that we know not how near at hand the avenging stroke is, but also to show that the Lord is not yet away out of his place; he is not yet risen up in his wrath, but as yet upon his mercy-seat.” His judgments may be very near in­deed; for much barrenness is amongst us; and he says, “Behold, the axe is laid to the root of the tree.” And there are few watery eyes for sin among us; few sighers and mourners, that have the mark of preservation when the destroying angel comes about.

But as yet the chamber-doors of mercy are open, and the Lord is saying, Come, come; “enter into your chambers;” therefore,
“Today, while it is called today, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” O Sirs, come to Jesus for safety.

(1.) You who are without, and have never come in to these chambers, let me tell you that yet a little while, and the calamity here threatened will be upon you: sickness or sorrow may be upon you in a little; yea, death and judgment will be upon you in a little. Sword, famine, and pestilence may be hasting upon the land: many spiritual and temporal judgments are already surrounding us; and, if by these we will not be reformed, we may expect that God will punish us seven times more, and yet seven times more for our iniquities. And since Reformation amongst the genera­lity is going back, instead of going forward, either in church or state: days of dreadful calamity, and storms, wrath, and indignation are hastening on. O then, why stay you without doors, where it is impossible you can escape the indignation of God, and the damnation of hell? O fly, fly for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before you. Christ is the city of refuge, the chamber of safety, and all the doors of the chamber are yet open to you; “Whosoever will, let him come.” Christ, as a Prophet, is an open door of hope for ignorant sinners; O come in here, and be taught. Christ, as a Priest, is an open door of hope for guilty sin­ners; O come in here, and get remission of sin in his blood. Christ, as a King, is an open door of hope to captive sinners, under the power and slavery of sin and Satan; O let such come in here, and share of the victory of Christ, who came in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil, and who comes in the Spirit by a preached gos­pel, for the same end. O come into him by faith and believing in him and, if you cannot come, pray, pray that he may draw you in; for he stands ready to take you by the hand: he says not, Go in without me; but, come in and take my help.

Paul is here preaching Christ Jesus in this chapter: and in this verse he makes application of his sermon to his hearers and that very close. More particularly in the words you may observe,

1. The nature of the gospel described, it is “the word of sal­vation.”

2. The endorsement or direction, showing to whom it is directed or sent, “To you;” you men and brethren, you Jews or Gentiles, to whom it is preached.

The doctrinal proposition, natively arising from these words, is the following.

Observation: “That the gospel, as a word of salvation, is sent to every sinner that hears it.”

Before I proceed to speak to this doctrine, I would obviate an objection that may be made against it.

Objection: Is not the gospel-call here limited to them that fear God in the text?

Answer: If by these that fear God is to be understood religious people, into whose hearts God hath put his fear; these are the per­sons that will most of all welcome the word of salvation; because they see most of their need of it: but the gospel-message is not here limited to them, and others excluded; no: the apostle here speaks to all his auditory, both gracious and graceless, as appears not only in this text, “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, to you is the word of this salvation,” but also in the ap­plication of his sermon to the graceless as well as to the gracious, (vv. 40 & 41), compared with the two preceding verses.

2. There is a fear of God that is the fruit of conviction, and a fear of God that is the fruit of conversion; the former is by the law, the latter is by the gospel: it is like that the former is especially intended here: for at this time the word was with power; it struck an awe and dread upon the apostle’s auditory. And though no sinner, no, not the most stupid that hears the gospel, is excluded from the call thereof, so as it can be said, the word of salvation is not sent to him; no, no; it is sent to everyone; yet none but such as fear God, so far as to be filled with an awe and dread of God speaking to them in the word, and with a conviction of sin, and of their need of this salvation; none but such will receive and welcome the word of this salvation: for, if they have no fear of God, and of his wrath, no sense of sin, and of their deserving damnation, they will not value, but slight and despise the word of salvation. This next, therefore, doth not limit the word of salvation, as sent only to them who fear God, but only points out the manner and method wherein this word of salvation comes to be received and entertained, and how it will not be received by these who have nothing of the fear and dread of God upon them.

3. These who are awakened to any sense of sin, and fear and dread of God, are the persons that are most ready themselves, as if the word of salvation were not sent to them; therefore, these, in a particular manner, are mentioned and encouraged to take it to them­selves, because they are afraid to apply the word. Others that are called will not come. And they that have this fear upon them have a will, but want courage; and therefore the Lord says to them, as it were, Fear not to come, for “To you is the word of this sal­vation sent.”

4. That the word of salvation is sent to all, even to them who, through the want of the fear of God, reject it, is plain both from this text and context, compared with other scriptures. See the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15). “Hearken to me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness,” (Isa. 46:12). “Be­hold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me,” (Rev. 3:20). “Any man,” be what he will. In short, the word of sal­vation, importing all salvation necessary, looks to all sinners that need this salvation. The gospel would not be glad news to all people, if any sinner were excluded. Hence the call is to all the ends of the earth; “Look to me, and be saved, all ye ends of the earth:” hence the call also is, “Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.” And again, “To you, O men, do I call; and my voice is to the sons of men. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” &c.

The method we would observe, for the farther illustration of this subject, as the Lord shall be pleased to grant assistance, shall be the following:—

  1. We shall speak a little of this salvation.

  2. Of the word of salvation.

  3. Of the sending of this word.

  4. Make application of the whole.

I. We shall speak a little of this salvation, and consider what it supposes, and what it implies.

1. What this salvation supposes, namely, misery. Our miser­able state by nature is a state of alienation and estrangement from God. We are without God, and are alienated from the life of God; aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. It is a state of enmity; for, the carnal mind is at enmity against God; we are in actual rebellion against him. It is a state of darkness and ignorance; we are destroyed for lack of knowledge. A state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the world, and divers lusts; we are fettered and imprisoned, led captive. It is a state of impotence: we are, by nature, without strength; we cannot so much as ask deliverance: “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of our­selves.” It is a destitute state, a pit wherein there is no water; a comfortless state, a bewildered state, a cursed and condemned state; for “He that believeth not, is condemned already:” he that believeth not the gospel, is condemned already by the law; “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.” It is a state of death; spiritual death, and legal death.

2. What doth salvation imply? It implies the whole redemp­tion purchased by Christ, and the whole of the application of it by the Spirit. It is salvation from a state of estrangement, to a state of acquaintance with God; from enmity, to peace and reconcilia­tion; from darkness to light; from bondage to liberty. It includes pardon and justification, adoption and affiliation, sanctification of nature, heart, and way, communion with God; afterward a glorious resurrection of the body, and eternal life and glory, in being forever with the Lord.

II. The second head proposed was, To speak of the word of salvation, which I may do by answering these four questions.

Question 1: What is the word of salvation?

Answer: Not the law, but the gospel; this is that which is the power of God to salvation, (Rom. 1:16). Whatever discovers Christ, and salvation through him, is the gospel.

Question 2: Why is it called the word of salvation?

Answer: Because it discovers salvation; it describes salvation; it conveys salvation, as a charter does an estate, or as a testament does a legacy; it offers salvation; it establishes a connection be­twixt faith and salvation to all mankind sinners; for, “He that be­lieveth shall be saved;” and because it is the organ or instrument by which the Spirit applies salvation?

Question 3: How does the word operate in the hand of the Spirit, when believed unto salvation?

Answer: It operates as seed cast into the ground: it operates as rain and dew; “My doctrine shall drop as the dew, and distil as the rain:” as light; “They that sat in darkness saw a great light;” it is light shining in a dark place. As fire; “Is not my word like a fire?” As water, as wind, as a seal imprinting the divine nature: as a glass, through which we see God’s glory: as balm for healing; “He sent his word, and healed them.”

Question 4: What are the qualities of this word of salvation?

Answer: 1. It is a divine word; the word of God. God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the Author of it. Hence the gospel is called, “The gospel of God,” (Rom. 1:1; 15:16).

2. It is a word of God in Christ, (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:3). It is secured in the hands of a Mediator; Yea, and Amen in him. It is given to us by Christ, and sealed in his blood; “This is the New Testament in my blood.”

3. It is a gracious word of God in Christ: it is free; it does not move upon our goodness or badness; our goodness does not further, nor our badness hinder it. It is a word that comes from pure grace, and springs from his free mercy, who is the God of all grace. It is such a gracious word, that it contains all grace. Hence,

4. It is a complete word, containing all our salvation; for it contains God in it, Christ in it, the Spirit in it. It contains a righteousness in it, founding a legal title to life eternal, viz., the obedience of Christ; and a legal security from eternal death, viz., the satisfaction and death of the Surety. It contains all the parts of life, and may well be called the word of life: life in the beginning of it, in regeneration; “Of his own will begat he us, by the word of truth.” The life of justification; we are justified in believing and receiving of Christ, our righteousness, as offered in the word. The life of sanctification, the life of consolation, and the life of glory hereafter.

5. It is a sure word; “The sure mercies of David:” Sure, and more sure than a voice from heaven, such as even that which the disciples heard on the mount; “We have a more sure word of prophecy, unto which we do well to take heed,” (2 Pet. 1:19).

6. It is a gracious, complete, sure word of God in Christ to sinners, as well as saints: it is to sinners of Adam’s family; for it presents a remedy for their malady. This leads,

To the third general head proposed, viz., To speak of the sending of this word. Here it may be enquired, from whom, by whom, to whom it is sent; and for what purpose?

1. From whom is it sent? Why, it is a word of salvation sent from the God of salvation, to whom belong the issues from death; and it carries the impress of himself upon it. As the word is God’s word, so it is of God’s sending; “He sent his word and healed them,” (Ps. 107:20).

2. By whom is it sent? It is not sent by angels, but by men; “We are ambassadors for Christ,” (2 Cor. 5:20). It is true, God sent his word first by Christ; “He so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, might not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:19). Then Christ sends it by men, that we may not be afraid at his appearance, as Israel were of old; “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” (2 Cor. 4:7).

3. To whom is it that he sent the word of salvation? He sent it to all sinners that hear it. Whosoever looks to the word of salvation, will find it looking to them. What was the gospel preached to Abraham? “In thee, or in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” (Gen. 3:4). Is not this a word of salvation to us also? It includes all; so as every sinner may take hold of it, (see John 3:16; 1 Tim. 1:15). Christ came to call sinners to repentance, (see Prov. 1:20; Isa. 46:12). It is a word that suits the case of sinners: and therefore, if it be enquired,

4. For what purpose is it sent to sinners? Why, for the very same purpose that a healing remedy is sent to a deadly malady; for Christ comes in the word, and is presented there for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: (see 1 Cor. 1:30; Rev. 3:17-18). More particularly, it is sent as a word of pardon to the condemned sinner; “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for my own name’s sake.” Hence may every con­demned sinner take hold of it, saying, This word is sent to me. It is sent as a word of peace to the rebellions sinner, saying, Christ hath received gifts for men, even for the rebellions. Oh! I am a rebel, may the sinner say; yet here is a word for me. It is sent as a word of life to the dead; “The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” It is a word of liberty to the captives; “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound,” (Isa. 61:1). It is sent as a word of healing for the diseased; for the word says, I am the Lord that healeth thee.” It is a word of cleansing, or a cleansing word to the polluted; “I will sprinkle you with clean water; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” It is sent as a word of direction to the bewildered; “I will lead the blind by a way they know not, and in paths which they have not trod.” It is a refreshing word to the weary; “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to the weary.” It is sent as a comforting word to the disconsolate; it brings the good news of the river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God; and of Christ, the consolation of Israel. It is sent as a drawing word and a strengthening word to the soul destitute of strength, saying, He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. When I am lifted up, I will draw all men after me.” It is sent in short, as a word of salvation, and all sorts of salvation and redemption to the lost soul, saying, “Christ came to seek and save that which was lost;” and that we are not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.

IV. The last general head proposed was, To make application of the subject. Is it so, That the gospel, as a word of salvation, is sent to every sinner that hears it? Then,

1. Hence see the kindness of God in Christ to sinners of man­kind. Why hath he made such a difference between sinning men and sinning angels? There was never a word of salvation sent to angels that sinned; no not one word; “They are reserved in chains, to the judgment of the great day;” but it was sent unto mankind; To you, O men, do I call; and my voice is to the sons of men;” “To you is the word of this salvation sent.”

2. See what a valuable book the Bible is, which contains this word of salvation. O Sirs, how ought we to search the scriptures: for, in them we think, and think aright when we do so, that we have eternal life and salvation conveyed to us? Why, they testify of Christ: and we ought especially to search out the words of eternal life; the words of salvation that lie there.

3. Hence see what a valuable blessing the gospel is, and the dis­pensation thereof; and how welcome a gospel-ministry should be unto us; “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace!” (Rom. 10:15), that publish the word of salvation? How sad is it when gospel-ministers have not beautiful feet, when they defile their feet by stepping onto the pad­dle of defection and corruption, and so make poor souls to nauseate the very gospel preached by them! And how dismal is it, when these who profess the gospel of peace, have their feet defiled with the puddle of error! How desirable is it, when they have both the gospel of peace in their mouth, and beautiful shoes upon their feet, and are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and with a gospel conversation, declining to walk with others in a course of defection?

4. Hence see the inexcusableness of unbelief, in rejecting the gospel, since it is sent to everyone that hears it. Men have no cloak for their unbelief; no ground to say, “This word of salvation is not sent to me: yea, it is sent to thee, whosoever thou art: it is a rope cast down for thy drowning soul to lay hold upon.”

5. Hence see how culpable they are who straiten the door, and hamper the call of the gospel, saying, in effect, If you have not such and such qualifications, this word of salvation is not to you: if you have not such and such marks and evidences, it is not to you: it is only upon such and such terms that it is to you: this is to make the gospel no gospel. It is as if Christ came to save saints, but not to save sinners. They contradict the very design of the gospel, which is a word of salvation to sinners of all sorts and sizes. “To you is the word of salvation sent:” to you, O sinner, is the door of salvation opened. Whatever straitens this door; whatever doctrines you hear, that hamper or limit the gospel-offer, and tend to make you suppose, that there is no room for you, no access for you, you may suspect that to be either no gospel-doctrine, or that has such a legal mixture accompanying it, as you ought to shun like the devil; because it would keep you at a distance from Christ and salvation.

6. Hence see the ground of God’s controversy at this day, to­gether with an antidote against the errors and evils of the day. The great ground of God’s controversy, at this day, with the generality we live amongst, is their rejecting the word of salvation. Where­fore is he now speaking in wrath and war, (Britain and Spain were, at this time, upon the point of an open rupture) but because we will not hearken to his speaking in mercy? Scotland hath been long deaf to the word of God, and to the warnings of God. Judicatories have been deaf to the word of God, to the word of salvation, calling them to reform and return to the Lord; deaf to any testimony lifted up for reformation. And the whole land hath been, deaf to the voice of God in the gospel. And, what, if God now thunder and roar out of Zion, and say, You shall hear at the deafest side of the head? if you will not hear the voice of the word, you shall hear the voice of the sword; Oh! what is his quarrel? Why, God says, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him:” No; but we refuse to hear him. Ge­neral Assemblies have refused to hear him; they gave ear to a pa­tron, or a great man, and give more obedience to him than to the voice of Christ. He said, “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs:” No say they; let them be devoured and torn to pieces with the wolves, rather than displease men of rank and power. How justly may God say to such, “Go to the gods whom ye have served,” and see if they can deliver you in the day of death, or in the day of wrath?

See here also an antidote against many errors of the day. Here is an antidote against enthusiastic delusions, viz., If, we take the word of God for the rule and the warrant of faith, and of every particular duty. Some will say, “We must wait for the Spirit being poured out; and till the Spirit come, there is no doing: therefore we may sit still and do nothing, either in the matter of our salvation-work or generation-work; either in personal or public work.” Why, here is a delusion, here is enthusiasm, to make the Spirit the rule of faith and duty, and not the word of God. When God spake to Moses at the Red Sea, saying “Speak to the people that they go forward.” What! go forward, might unbelief say into the sea, and be all drowned? Nay, stay till we see the water divided. No, says God, “Speak to the people that they go forward;” and in going forward at the word and call of God, making his tall and word the rule of faith and duty, in this way they were to find the sea divided before them. To wait upon God’s working, either outwardly or inwardly, without answer­ing the call of his word, and going forward in the way of duty is to wait without a warrant; it is a delusion, a tempting of God. You are to aim at believing the word of salvation sent to you. The people we call Quakers say, “They ought not to pray till the Spirit move them:” making the inward motions of the Spirit, and not the word of God the rule of duty. Thus it is no wonder that they be led by a delusive spirit; for the word of God is the word of the Spirit; and though we cannot fight without the Spirit, yet the Spirit will not fight for these, or with these that will not take his sword in their hand: though we can do nothing without the Spirit, yet the Spirit will do nothing without the word. But if once we take the sword of the Spirit in our hand; I mean, take the word for our rule, and essay duty, and the work of believing, which is the work of God, according to the direction of the word of God; then, and not till then, are you to expect God will work powerfully; for, out of his own road he will not, namely, if you turn away your ear from hearing his word; or, if he do, he will bring you to this road before he do anything more.

Here also see an antidote against all, or most of all the errors of the age wherein we live. Here is an antidote against all practi­cal error; against all profanity, looseness and luxury, whoredom and debauchery, that have been running down, like a mighty stream, through all ranks of persons, from the throne to the dunghill, in every corner of the land. What would remedy these evils? Even the receiving of this salvation that is sent in the gospel to us. Un­belief in rejecting this salvation, which is a salvation from all sin as well as misery; this unbelief in slighting the Saviour and salvation, is the root of all the looseness and profanity in the age. Men do not see this root that lies hid under ground. Here is an antidote against the Deism of the age. Why do men undervalue the scriptures, and deny the necessity of divine supernatural revelation? Even be­cause they reject the word of salvation; they do not see that the gospel only is the word of salvation; and that there is no salvation but in the faith of it: but the faith of this word would cure the Deism of the age. Here is an antidote against Arminianism; for salvation comes not of the free-will of man, but of the free grace of God in a word of salvation sent to us. Here is an antidote against Arianism. Would any soul deny the supreme Deity of Christ, and his proper Divinity, if they believed that with him are the words of eternal life; and that a word from his mouth is a word of salvation? “Look to me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else,” (Isa. 45:22). Here is an antidote against Antinomianism; for, by this salvation we are not saved to sin, and to work wickedness, and break the law of God, but saved from sin and wickedness. The gospel being a word of complete salvation, the grace of God therein appears to all men, teaching effectively what the law does perceptively, namely, “To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world.” Here is an antidote against Legalism, or Neo-­Nomianism, as some call it, which turns the gospel to a new law, and the covenant of grace, as it were, to a covenant of works. This text and doctrine shows that we are not saved by a work, but by a word; not by any work of ours, but by a word sent from God to us, even a word of salvation: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” (Titus 3:5; see 2 Tim. 1:9). Here also is an antidote against ignorant preachers of the gospel, that confound the marks of faith with the ground of faith, or the evidences of faith with the warrant of faith, or the con­dition of the covenant with the qualities of the covenanted, as if the gospel call were only to saints, or to sinners so and so qualified; and so leading men in to themselves for a ground of faith, instead of leading them out of themselves to Christ, exhibited to them in a word of salvation sent to them. The gospel-method of salvation is the reverse of all the legal schemes in the world. The legal strain supposes some good quality about the sinner, before he is allowed to meddle with the word of salvation; and so shuts the door of the gospel, which it pretends to open. But the gospel-strain brings the word of salvation freely to every sinner’s door, and supposes him to be destitute of all good qualities whatsoever, and leaves no room for any sinner to say, I am not allowed to come in.

7. Hence see how much it concerns all and everyone to try and examine what entertainment they have given the word of sal­vation that is sent them. Have you received it of not in a saving way?

(1.) Have you received it as the word of God? the word by way of eminency? the word of God in Christ? (1 Thess. 2:13), and received it not as the word of man, of this or that man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God?

(2.) Have you received it as a word of salvation, or as a faith­ful saying, worthy of all acceptation, both as a truth and as a good? This reception of it supposes a view you have of your being a lost sinner welcoming a Saviour.

(3.) Have you received it, as the word of this salvation, a pre­sent salvation, a particular salvation? This particular salvation from sin and wrath, that you need; this near salvation; “I bring near my righteousness to the stout-hearted and far from righteous­ness; my salvation shall not tarry,” (Isa. 46:12-13). This great salvation, this purchased salvation, this promised salvation, this offered salvation, presently offered. Faith fixes upon something present. You need not say, “Who will ascend to heaven, to bring Christ down? or, descend into the deep, to bring Christ up? The word is nigh thee, even in thy heart, and in thy mouth,” (Rom. 10:6-8) Again,

(4.) Have you received it as a sent salvation; as God’s send, as God’s gift, sent by the hand of Christ, sent by the hand of his ambassadors, sent freely and sovereignly, without your seeking after it, sent out of the store-house of divine grace?

(5.) Have you received it as sent to sinners, to sinners in general? For here is glad tidings of great joy to all people: “Upon this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined,” (Isa. 25:6).

(6.) Have you received it as sent unto you in particular? To you, sinners, says the general dispensation; to thee, sinner, in par­ticular, says the particular offer: “Whosoever will, let him come.” Hast thou then received it, as sent to thee, though a guilty sinner; to thee, though a vile sinner? Hast thou entertained it with a me, me, of particular application, saying, “Here is an offer to me, a gift to me, a promise from heaven to me?” Hast thou found thyself called by name, and said, “I am warranted to take hold of Christ, and the salvation he brings with him, in this word of salvation, and even so I take him at his word;” “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief?” Have you hereupon found the virtue of this word, as a word of salvation, saving you from your doubts and fears, saving you from your bonds and fetters, saving you from your helpless and hopeless condition, and making you to hope for complete salvation from sin and misery? Have you found salvation begun in the faith or the word of salvation, and been begotten to a lively hope thereby? And does this hope begin to purify your heart, and this faith began to work by love to God and hatred of sin, and of your­self for sin? And is your continual recourse to this word of salva­tion, or to the promise of God in Christ, for all your salvation?

8. Hence see what matter of joy and praise believers have, who have been determined thus to entertain the word of salvation; for, when the word of salvation is received through grace, then the work of salvation is begun; and you need be in no uneasiness now, though you be called to work out the work of your salvation with fear and trembling; because it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do. “He that hath begun the good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of the Lord.” The word of salvation may be to thee, O believer, the word of consolation all the days of your life: for, it is a word of salvation, not only from the sinful state, and miserable state you was in, but is a word of salvation also, bringing the good news of salvation in every case; salvation from the devil, the world, and the flesh; salvation and deliverance from the hands of all your enemies; salvation from the sting of death; salvation from the terror of judgment; salvation from the curse of the law, and from the guilt of all your sins; salvation not only from all evil, but salvation to eternal life; for the word of salvation, which you have received and entertained through grace, contains all the words of eternal life. The word of salvation is the word of life for you, when under deadness; a word of liberty for you, when under bondage; a word of rest for you, when under weariness; a word of relief for you, when under distress of whatsoever sort. It is a word of salvation confirmed with the oath of God, “That by two immut­able things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, they might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them.”

9. Hence see a matter of terror to those who neglect this great salvation that is sent to them by this word: “How shall they escape who neglect so great salvation,” and so near to them? O sinner, it is a salvation sent to your house, and will you reject it? A word of salvation sent to your soul; a word of salvation sent to your hand to receive it, and will you reject it? A word of salvation sent to your ear, saying, “But hear, and your soul shall live.” A word of salvation sent to your heart, and by it God is knocking at the door of your heart. O Sirs, will you refuse him that speaketh from heaven? “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escape not, who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven,” (Heb. 12:25). If you will not hear God’s word of grace in the gospel, saving, “To you is the word of this salvation sent,” you must lay your account to hear his word of wrath in the law, saying, yea, swearing in his wrath, “That you shall not enter into his rest.” If you have no fear of God, as it is in the verse where my text lies; if you shall never be persuaded to fear the Lord and his goodness, manifested in the word of salvation sent to you, you must lay your account to fear the Lord and his wrath, manifested in the word of condemnation, which the law pro­nounces against them who believe not the gospel: “He that be­heveth not, is condemned already,” (John 3:18). And there is no escaping this sentence of condemnation, but by receiving the word of salvation.

10. Hence see how much it is the interest of everyone to re­ceive, and entertain, and welcome this word of salvation. O Sirs, “Hear that your souls may live.” Hear the joyful sound of sal­vation, O lost, perishing sinner, before the door of mercy be shut, and the day of grace be over. To persuade you hereunto, we shall lay before you the four following considerations.

(1.) Consider what sort of a salvation is offered to you. It is a spiritual salvation; the salvation of the immortal soul: “What shall a man profit, though he gain the whole world, if he lose his own soul?” If you would not lose and ruin your souls, O, receive the word of salvation. It is a costly salvation; it comes running in the channel of the blood of Christ. It is bought to your hand, and free to you, however dear bought by the Redeemer. You have nothing to pay for it; the price of it is paid already; the condition of it is fulfilled. It is a complete salvation; salvation from everything you need to be saved from: salvation from unbelief, enmity, atheism, heart-hardness, heart-deadness, and everything that you make an objection against receiving of this salvation. You say you cannot believe, you cannot repent; but would you be saved from your unbelief and impenitence? This and all the other branches of salvation are sent to you, when the word of salvation is sent. Will you welcome a Saviour to save you from all, to be wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and all to you? It is an everlasting salvation. Would you be happy after death, and have an eternity of happiness? “Life and immortality is brought to light by this word of salvation.” O poor dying sin­ner, consider what an everlasting salvation this is.

(2.) Consider what need thou hast of this salvation. Thou hast a dark mind; and needest salvation from that darkness and ignorance. Thou hast a guilty conscience, and needest salvation from that guilt Thou hast a hard heart; and needest salvation from that hardness. Thou hast powerful and strong corruption; and needest salvation from that. Thou hast a corrupt nature; and needest salvation from that. Thou hast many heart-plagues; and needest salvation from these plagues, and healing. Behold, all this salvation, and infinitely more comes with the word of salvation; no salvation thou needest is excepted. Thy need is great, death is at hand, judgment at hand: “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” There will be no word in the day of judgment to sinners, but a word of condemnation: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” but now, in the day of salvation, is sent to you this word of salva­tion; now, now is the day; and, perhaps, now or never.

(3.) Consider what a firm ground this word of salvation is for faith to build upon. It is the word of God; the God that cannot lie. It is ratified by the oath of God. It is a word confirmed by the blood of the Son of God. It is a word attested by the Three that bear record in heaven. It is a word spoken by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches. The Spirit and the bride say, Come;” come and hear this word of salvation; come and be­lieve; come and apply to thyself what is offered to thee.

(4.) Consider the good warrant you have to intermeddle with this word of salvation. It is sent to you on purpose that you may believe it with application to yourself; and that every one of you, thou man, thou woman, may take it home to thy own heart; for, “To thee is the word of salvation sent.” To thee is this love let­ter sent from heaven. Read the endorsement, and see if it be not to thee. It is backed to thee, O guilty sinner, saying, “Christ came to save sinners.” It is backed to thee, O inhabitant of the earth, that art not yet in hell; “Look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” It is backed to thee, O scorner, that hast hitherto been a mocker of God and godliness; “Wisdom crieth without, she ut­tereth her voice in the streets: How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you; I will make known my words unto you,” (Prov. 1:20-23). It is backed to thee, O rebellious sinner. If thou wert excepted, all mankind would be so: behold, “Christ hath ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and received gifts from men, even for the rebellious, that God the Lord might dwell among them.” It is backed for thee, O black and bloody sinner; “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” (Isa. 1:18). It is backed to thee, O sinner that are thirsting after other things than Christ; “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come. Wherefore spend you your money for that which is not bread? &c. Wherefore do ye thirst and pant after other things that cannot give you satisfaction?” (Isa. 55:1-2). Yea, it is backed for thee, O unhumbled, unconvinced sinner. Say not that it cannot concern thee, because thou art not convinced of thy sin: Oh! the word of salvation comes even to thee also; “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; eye-salve, that thou mayest see; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed,” (Rev. 3:18). Even to thee that, as in the preceding verse, art say­ing, that thou art rich and increased with goods, and standest in need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Unconcerned sinner, to thee, even thee, is the word of this salvation sent. Is this love-let­ter backed for thee? O then know that though you have no will, you have a warrant to receive it, and Christ in it. If you reject this word of salvation, it is either because you will not, or dare not, or cannot receive it.

If you say, you will not take it to you, then, remember you are subscribing your own doom. And I take instruments against you, that you will not have salvation; you will not come to Christ that you may have life; you are preferring some base lust to the Lord of glory, and so preferring, of consequence, damnation to salvation, death to life.

If it be not a will of obstinacy, but of impotency, saying, Oh! if my will were subdued; behold the word of salvation comes with salvation from that plague of unwillingness, saying, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power:” and, “To you is the word of this salvation sent,” that you welcome it; and so far as you welcome it, so far are you willing.

If you say you dare not take the word to yourself, as the word of salvation to you: why dare you not do what God enjoins you? Why dare you not take what God offers you? How durst you sin against God, when he forbade you? And now you dare not take his word for your salvation, when he requires you! How durst you venture on his fury against his command? And now you dare not venture on his favor, through Christ, at his call and command? Was it not enough to offend his justice? And will you now ven­ture to slight his mercy? This is worse than all your former sins, to refuse salvation that he freely offers from the guilt of all.

If you say you cannot, because of utter impotency that shall be no stop. You cannot believe, you cannot come to Christ; but, as the word of salvation is sent to you, so salvation is come to you, because you cannot come to it. The Saviour is come to you, because you cannot come to him: are you for him? The word of salvation is a word of power, and drawing power is in it, to draw you that cannot come: “When I am lifted up I will draw all men after me.” Are you willing to be drawn? Then the word of salvation hath so far taken effect upon you, as to remove your unwillingness and to make you willing. Look for another pull of omnipotency, for the word of salvation is a word of omnipotency: It is the almighty word of the almighty God. Saving power, drawing power is in it. Welcome it as such; and, in due time, you shall be able as well as willing. Your faith is not to be acted in the sense of self-ability and sufficiency, but in the sense of self-inability and insufficiency. “Our sufficiency is of God;” salvation is of God; saving faith is of God; “All things are of God, who hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” (2 Cor. 5:18), and given to you this word of salvation: and it contains all your salvation. And if any part of it were left to you, it would not contain all your salvation. What you cannot do, this salvation can; therefore receive it, and bless God for it, that “To you is the word of this salvation sent.”

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