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keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. But if you habitually live in disobedience to any of the com nandınents of Christ, then it is no wonder that he doth not give you the comfortable manifestations of himself. The way to receive the special favours of God, and to enjoy comfortable communion with him, is to walk closely with him.
5. If you have been long doubting about your condition, perhaps this is the cause. If persons be converted, the most likely way to have the evidences of it clear, and to have the Spirit of God witnessing with our spirits, that we are the children of God, is to walk closely with God. This, as we have observed already, is the way to have grace in a flourishing state in the soul; it is the way to have the habits of grace strengthened, and the exercises of it lively. And the more lively the exercises of grace are the more likely will they be to be seen. Besides this is the way to have God manifesting himself to us, as our father and our friend, to have the manifestations and inward testimonies of his love and favour.
But if you live in some way of sin, it is no wonder if that greatly. darkens your evidences, as it keeps down the exercises of grace, and hides the light of God's countenance. And it may be that you never will come to a comfortable resolution of that point, whether you be converted or not, until you shall have wholly forsaken the way of sin in which you live.
6. If you have met with the frowns of Providence, perhaps this hath been the cause. When you have met with very sore rebukes and chastisements, that way of sin hath probably been your troubler. Sometimes God is exceedingly awful in his dealinys with his own people in this world, for their sins. Moses and Aaron were not suffered to enter into Canaan, because they believed not God, and spake unadvisedly with their lips, at the waters of Meribah. And how terrible was God in his dealings with David! what affliction in his family did he send upon him! one of his sons ravishing his sister; another murdering his brother, and having expelled his father out of his kingdom, openly in the sight of all Israel, and in the sight of the sun, defiling his father's concubines on the top of the house, and at last coming to a miserable end? Immediately after this followed the rebellion of Sheba ; and he had this uncomfortable circumstance attending the end of his life, that he saw another of his sons usurping the crown.
How awfully did God deal with Eli, for living in the sin of not restraining his children from wickedness! He killed his two sons in one day; brought a violent death upon Eli himself; took the ark from him, and sent it into captivity; cursed his house for ever; and sware that the iniquity of his house should not be purged with sacrifice and offering for ever ; that the priesthood should be taken from him, and given to another family, and that there should never be an old man in his family.
Is not some way of sin in which you live. the occasion of the frowns and rebukes of Providence which you have met with?
? True, it is not the proper business of your neighbours to judge you with respect to events of Providence ; but you yourselves ought to inquire, wherefore God is contending with you, Job.
. ix. 10.
7. If death be terrible to you, perhaps this is the foundation of it. When you think of dying, you
shriok back at the thought. When you have any illness, or when there is any thing which seems any way to threaten life, you find you are affrighted by it; the thoughts of dying, and going into eternity, are awful to you; and that although you entertain a hope that you are converted. If you live in some way of sin, probably this is very much the foundation of it. This keeps your minds sensual and worldly, and hinders a lively sense of heaven and heavenly enjoyments. This keeps grace low, and prevents that relish of heavenly enjoyments which otherwise you would have. This prevents your having the comfortable sense of the divine favour and presence; and without that, no wonder you cannot look death in the face without terror.
The way to have the prospect of death comfortable, and to have undisturbed peace and quiet when we encounter death, is, to walk closely with God, and to be undefiled in the way of obedience to the commands of God; and that it is otherwise sometimes with truly godly persons, is doubtless frequently owing to their living in ways displeasing to God.
8. If you find by these things which have been proposed to you, that you have lived in a way of sin, consider that if you henceforward live in the same way, you will live in known sin. Whether in time past, it have been known sin or not, though you may have hitherto lived in it through ignorance or inadvertence; yet if now you be sensible of it, henceforward, if you continue in it still, it will not be a sin of ignorance, but you will be proved to be of that class of men who live in ways of known sin.
A WARNING TO PROFESSORS OF RELIGION: OR THE
GREAT GUILT OF THOSE WHO ATTEND ON THE ORDINANCES OF DIVINE WORSHIP, AND YET ALLOW THEMSELVES IN ANY KNOWN WICKEDNESS.
Ezek. xxiii. 37, 38, 39.
That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands;
And with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire to devour them. Moreover, this they have done unto me: they hide defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sauctuary to profane it; and, lo! thus have they done in the midst of mine house.
SAMARIA and Jerusalem, or Israel and Judah, are here represented by two women, Aholah and Aholibah ; and their idola. try and treachery towards their covenant God is represented by the adultery of these women. They forsook God, who was their husband, and the guide of their youth, and prostituted themselves to others. The baseness of Aholah and Aholibah towards God, their husband, is here pointed out by two things, viz. adultery and bloodshed: They have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands.
1. They committed adultery with other lovers, viz. with their idols : With their idols hade they committed adultery.
2. They not only committed adultery, but they took their children, that they bore to God, and killed them for their lovers. Their hearts were quite alienated from God, their husband, and
This Trace is the substance of two posthumous discourses on this text, first printed at Edinb., 1788.
they were so bewitched with lust after those other lovers, that they took their own children, whom they had by their husband, and pui them to cruel deaths, to make a feast with them for their lovers ; as it is said in ver. 37. “ And have also caused my sons whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire to devour them."
But here is a twofold wickedness of those actions of theirs held forth to us in the words. (1.) The wickedness of them considered in themselves; for who can express the horrid baseness of this their treatment of God, their husband ? (2.) An additional wickedness, resulting from the joining of these actions with sacred things. Beside the monstrous wickedness of these actions in themselves considered, there was this which exceedingly increased the guilt, that on the same day they came into God's sanctuary, or that they lived in such wickedness at the same time that they came and attended the holy ordinances of God's house, pretending to worship and adore him, whom they all the while treated in such a horrid manner; and so herein defiled and profaned holy things; as in verses 38 and 39. “Moreover, this have they done unto me; they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary, to profane it; and, lo! thus have they done in the midst of mine house."
Doctrine.- When they that attend ordinances of divine worship allow themselves in known wickedness, they are guilty of dreadfully profaning and polluting those ordinances.
By a divine ordinance, when the expression is used in its greatest latitude, is meant any thing of divine institution or appointment. Thus we call marriage a divine ordinance, because it was appointed by God. So civil government is called an ordinance of God: Rom. xiii. 1, 2. “ Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God."
But the word is more commonly used only for an instituted or appointed way or mean of worship. So the sacraments are ordinances; so public prayer, singing of praise, the preaching of the word, and the hearing of the word preached, are divine ordinances. The setting apart of certain officers in the church, the appointed ways of discipline, public confession of scandals, admonition, and excommunication, are ordinances. These are called the ordinances of God's house, or of public worship ; and these are intended in the doctrine; it is the profanation of these ordinances that is spoken of in the text : “ They came into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo! thus have they done in
the midst of mine house," saith God. This doctrine seems to contain two propositions.
The Ordinances of God are holy.
Divine ordinances are holy in the following respects :
1. They are conversant wholly and immediately about God, and things divine. When we are in the attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordina ces of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into his presence : Jer. vii. 10.
Come and stand before me, in this house which is called by my name ; Psal. c. 2. Come into his presence with singing.
In divine ordinances, persons have immediate intercourse with God, either in applying to him, as in prayer and singing praises, or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on him for spiritual good, as in hearing the word; or in both applying to God and receiving from him, as in the sacraments. They were appointed on purpose that in them men might converse and hold communion with God. We are poor, ignorant, blind worms of the dust; aud God did not see it meet that our way of intercourse with God should be left to ourselves; but God hath given us his ordinances, as ways and means of conversing with him.
In these ordinances, holy and divine things are exhibited and represented. In the preaching of the word, holy doctrines and the divine will are exhibited; in the sacraments, Christ Jesus and his benefits are represented ; in prayer and praise, and in the attendance on the word and sacraments, are represented our faith, love and obedience.
2. The end of God's ordinances is holy. The immediate end is to glorify God. They are instituted to direct us in the holy exercises of faith and love, divine fear and reverence, submission, thankfulness, holy joy and sorrow, holy desires, resolutions, and hopes. True worship consists in these holy and spi. ritual exercises ; and as these divine ordinances are the ordinances of worship, they are to help us, and to direct us in such a worship as this.
3. They have the sanction of divine authority. They are not only conversant about a divine and holy object, and designed to direct and help us in divine and holy exercises, but they have a divine and holy author. The infinitely great and holy God hath appointed them, the eternal Three in One. Each person in the Trinity hath been concerned in their institution.