Sermon preached on a preparation-day, before the sacrament of the Lord's-Supper, at Bruntisland, upon 2 Sam. vii. 20. Do as thou hast said
By the late Reverend
Mr. RALPH ERSKINE,
Miniſter of the Goſpel, at Dunfermline.
THE FIFTH EDITION.
Printed by JOHN BRYCE, and Sold at his
Shop in the Salt-Market. 1770.
Faith's Plea upon God's Word.
2 Sam. vii. 25.
----Do as thou haſt ſaid.
DAVID was a ſtrong believer; and it were our great advantage to follow him in his faith : and in the word that I fix upon to ſpeak a little to, there are two ways wherein his faith works, 1. By believing the divine word, Thou haſt ſaid ſo and ſo. 2. By pleading the accompliſhment thereof, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
1. Faith works by believing his word, Thou haſt ſaid. The object and ground of faith is the divine ſaying; and faith reſts upon a Thus faith the Lord; it is not upon a Thus faith a Man, or Thus faith a Minister; nay, nor thus faith an Angel. Divine faith can ſtand only upon a divine teſtimony: Thus faith the Lord, thou haſt ſaid. If you have faith, then, you have received the word not as the word of man, but, as it is indeed, the word of God, which effectually works in you that believe. Faith acts by taking God's word, Thou haſt ſaid; thou haſ promiſed, thou has spoken in thy holmeſs.
2. Faith acts by pleading the accompliſhment of the promiſe, Do as thou haſt ſaid. God is not a ſpeaker only, but a doer: he is not a promiſer only, but a performer; and faith looks to a promiſing God, that he may be a performing God; and ſo puts him to his word.
Observ. That it is the buſineſs of true faith, to take God's word, and to put him to it.
In the illuſtration of this doctrinal propoſition, we would incline, through divine aid, to eſſay briefly the following things.
I. To ſhew, That it is the buſineſs of faith to take God's word.
II. That it is the buſineſs of faith to put him to his word.
III. How faith takes the word of God.
IV. How it pleads the accompliſhment of the promiſe.
V. Whence is this the buſineſs of faith to take God at his word, and to put him to his word.
VI. Make application of the whole.
I. We are firſt to ſhew, That it is the buſineſs of faith to Take God's word, or to take him at his word: this is plain, becauſe the word is the immediate object of faith. We have no other glaſs wherein to ſee God ſavingly, but his word, particularly his word of grace and promiſe; "Say not who ſhall aſcend to heaven, that is, to bring Chriſt down from above; or who ſhall deſcend into the deep, that is, to bring up Chriſt again from the dead. The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart: ſo then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. Faith is a relative word, it relates to the faithfulneſs of the ſpeaker; believing relates to a word to be believed. That it is the buſineſs of faith to truſt in the word of God is evident from the whole ſcripture. How many times Pſal. cxix. doth the pſalmiſt ſpeak of truſting in his word, and hoping in his word and rejoicing in his word, and ſo taking him at his word?
II. We come in the next place, to ſhew, That it is the buſineſs of faith to put him to his word, or to plead the accompliſhment of his word, that would do as he had ſaid; this is evident from Pſal. cxix. 49. Remember the word unto thy ſervant,upon which thou haft cauſed me to hope. And how many times doth be plead with God, to do to him according to his word? Quicken me according to thy word, ver. 25. Again and again we have this repeated; as ver. 107, 154. "Strengthen me according to thy word, ver. 28. Save me,according to thy word, ver. 41. Be merciful to me, according to thy word, ver. 58. Deal well with thy ſervant, according to thy word, ver. 65. Let thy merciful kindneſs be my comfort, according to thy word, ver. 76. Give me underſtanding, according to thy word, ver. 169, Deliver me, according to thy word,” ver. 170.---All comes to this, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
III. We proceed now, to ſhew how, or in what manner faith takes the wordGod.
1. It takes it by an intelligent apprehenſion of it in the underſtanding. The man is taught of God, and gets his eyes opened, to ſee the faithful ſaying, and worthy of all 'acceptation; he ſees it to be the word of God, and a word ſpoken in ſeaſon to his weary ſoul. They will never take the word by faith that do not underſtand it; Philip ſaid unto the Eunuch, Underſtandeſt thou what thou readeſt? So we may ſay, underſtandeſt thou what thou heareſt? Are your eyes opened to ſee the wonders of his law, or doctrine; to ſee the glory of Chriſt held out to you in the word?
2. Faith takes the word of God by a particular application of it, with the heart; inſomuch that it is a cordial apprehenſion, or a cordial aſſent that is given to the word; with the heart man believeth unto righteouſneſs. Saving light goes to the heart. Many have only their heads enlightned, their judgments informed, but not their hearts engaged, nor their affections captivated. Faith is a cordial applying the word, and that particularly to the man's own benefit; whether we call it aſſurance or not, it comes to the ſame thing: as when inconviction the threatning is applied, the man trembles under the fear of hell and wrath, becauſe he applies the law threatning to himſelf, ſaying, I'm the man to whom this threatning is ſpoken; ſo, in the day of converſion or believing, the promiſe, is applied, the man is relieved with the view of the grace and mercy of God in Chriſt, becauſe he applies the goſpel-promiſe to himſelf, ſaying, "I am the man to whom this promiſe is ſpoken, and I receive and reſt upon Chriſt for ſalvation, as he is promiſed or offered to me in this goſpel To me is this word of ſalvation." And if the man did not take it to himſelf, there would be no believing at all. But then,
IV. The fourth thing propoſed, was, to ſhew how faith plead the accompliſhment of the promiſe.
1. It pleads upon the mercy that made the promiſe that it is everlaſting mercy, unchangeable mercy; the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious.
2. It pleads upon the truth that is to make out the promiſe; it is called, The truth in Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, Micah. vii. 20. that his name is faithful and true.
3. It pleads upon the power of the promiſer, being fully perſuaded, that he that hath promiſed is able to perform; that he hath not out promiſed his own promiſe, or ſaid what he cannot do.
4 It pleads upon the blood of the covenant that ſeals all the promiſes thereof; hence they are all yea and amen in Chriſt Jeſus.
5. It pleads upon the love of God to Chriſt; this is to pray in his name, that God, for the love he bears to Chriſt, would do as he hath ſaid.
6. It pleads upon the unchangeableneſs of God and of his word; that his word endureth for ever, and that he is God, and changes not, therefore the ſons of Jacob are not conſumed.
7. In a word, it pleads upon his oath, Heb vi. 17. God willing more abundantly to ſhew unto the heirs of promiſe the immutability of his counſel, hath confirmed it by an oath that by two immutable things, in which it was impoſſible for God to lie, we might have ſtrong conſolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope ſet before us.
8. And laſtly, it pleads upon his name, What wilt thou do for thy great name?
V. The fifth thing propoſed, was to ſhew whence is this the buſineſs of faith to take God at his word, and to put him to his word. Why becauſe.
1. It is the end and design of God, in giving his word; "theſe things are written," and ſpoken, "that we may believe in the Son of God, and that believing, we might have lifename," John xx, 31. the goſpel is preached in vain if men do not take God, at his word, and then hang upon it.
2. Becauſe thus we glorify God; and the more we reſt upon the divine word, the more we glorify him; Abraham was ſtrong in faith giving glory to God. We give him thehonour of his truth, and other perfections this way.
3. Becauſe thus we engage the honour of God upon our ſide, when we put him to his word; his honour is engaged, he cannot deny.
4. Becauſe faith hath no other way of living, but uponthe word of God; "Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Thy word was found of me and I did eat it. This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word bath quickned me."
VI The laſt thing propoſed was the application of, which indeed, was the principle thing intended. Here is a fit exerciſe before the ſolemn communion work, to go to God and ſay, O do as thou haſt ſaid. Conſider what he hath ſaid, and take him at his word, and put him to it, that he would do to you accordingly. Whatever your caſe be, ſurely there is ſome word relative to it.
Some may be thinking, Alas! God hath ſaid nothing to me, that I may put him to his word. Why, man, if the goſpel, that is in the Bible, be preached to you, and if there be any word of grace therein ſuitable to your caſe, then put not away the word from you, but take it, and plead upon it, that God would do as he hath ſaid. If you can ſee any word of promiſe ſuited to your caſe, and to your need, then put to your hand by faith, and lay hold upon his word.
Oh! ſay you, is there any word from God about my caſe, who am a poor needy creature like to ſtarve for want of a ſpiritual meal, and a hearty draught of the living waters that go out from Jeruſalem. What hath God ſaid, or hath he ſaid any thing, concerning me. Yea, he hath ſaid, Iſa. xli. 17, 18. "When the poor and needy ſeek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirſt; I, the Lord, will hear them: I, the God of Iſrael, will not forſake them. I will open rivers in dry places, and fountains in the midſt of the vallies. I will make the wilderneſs a pool of water, and the dry land ſprings of water."----Hath he ſaid ſo? Then take him at his word, put him to it, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
Oh! but is there any word from God for me,been long waiting about ordinances, and never yet ſeen his glory, as I would deſire to ſee it? What hath he ſaid concerning me? why, he hath ſaid, that he waits that he be gracious; that he is a God of judgment, and bleſſed are all they that wait for him, Iſa. xxx. 18. He hath ſaid, "The viſion is for an appointed time, but at the end it will ſpeak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; becauſe it will ſurely come, and not tarry," Hab. i. 3.----Hath he ſaid ſo? Then take him at his word, and put him to it, ſaying, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word from God concerning my caſe, that find my conſcience challenging me for prodigious guilt; there was never ſuch a guilty perſon on the face of the earth? Are you groaning under guilt? Here what he ſays, Heb. viii. 12. "I will be merciful to your unrighteouſneſs, and youriniquities will I remember no more. Ifa. xliii. 25: I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy tranſgreſſions for mine ownſake and will not remember thy ſins. O then! take hold of his word, wherein he proclaims indemnity, and put him to it, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haft ſaid.
But, ſays another, is there any word, from God concerning me, that am compaſſed about with ſtrong corruptions, and conquering luſts, that ſin gets the maſtery over me? Would you be delivered? Here what he ſays. Mic. vii. 19. "He will ſubdue our iniquities, and will caſt ſins into the depths of the ſea Rom. vi. 14. Sin ſhall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace Iſa. Ixiii. 4. The day of vengeance is in mine heart,and the year of my redeemed is come."---Hath he promiſed to take vengence on your luſts? Then take him at his word, ſaying, O do as thou haft ſaid.
But is there any word ſaid me to that am ſuch a filthy monſter, ſuch a polluted creature in heart and way, that am ſtinking, as it were, in the grave of ſin? He hath ſaid, Ezek. xxxvi.26. "From all your filthineſs, and from all your idols will I cleanſe you. Zech.xiii. I. There is a fountain opened to the houſe of David, and the inhabitants of Jeruſalem, for ſin and for uncleanneſs.--Is there a promiſe of cleanſing? Then take him at his word, and cry, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word to me a backſlider a grievous revolter, that many times after vows have made enquiry;and reſolutions have been but paper walls before the fire of temptation? Are you afflicted with this, and would have relief? Behold he ſays, Jer iii. 22. "Return ye backſliding children, and I will heal your backſlidings Hos. xiv 4. I will heal your backſlidings, and love you freely I will be as the dew to Iſrael." Hath he ſaid ſo? Then let your heart ſay, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But what doth God ſay to me, that have no ſtrength of any duty or difficulty, that am weak like water? Would you have reliefcaſe? God ſays, 2 Cor xii. 9. "My grace ſhall be ſufficient for thee, and my ſtrength ſhall be made perfect in thy weakneſs. Iſa. xl. 29 He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaſeth ſtrength," Doth he ſay ſo? Then put him to his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou hast ſaid.
But is thereconcerning me, that am brought to a great difficulty, and know not what to do, or what hand to turn me to; I am ſtraitned what courſe to take: doth God ſay any thing to me? Yea, he doth; Iſa. xlii. 16. "I will bring the blind by a way they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known, I will make darkneſs light before them, and crooked things ſtraight, Iſa. xxx. 22. Thine ears ſhall hear a voice behind thee, ſaying. This is the way walk ye in it. I will guide thee by my counſel."---Doth he ſay ſo? Then put him to his word, ſaying Do as thou hast ſaid.
But what ſays God to a poor ſoul that is harraſſed with the temptations of the Devil, and ready to be deſtroyed with the fiery darts of the wicked one? God ſays, "I will bruiſe the head of the ſerpent. Rom. xvi. 10. The God of peace ſhall bruiſe Satan under your feet ſhortly. For this cauſe was the Son of God manifeſted, to deſtroy the works of the Devil." Hath he begun to deſtroy him? and hath he ſaid, Thou ſhalt bruiſe him under thy feet? Then put him to his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
Alas! But what ſays God to a poor, deſtitute creature, that hath nothing; no good,? He ſays, Philip. iv. 19." My God ſhall ſupply all your wants, according to his riches in glory, by Chriſt Jeſus. Pſal. ix. 18. The needy ſhall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor ſhall not periſh for ever. There is bread enough, and to ſpare in your father houſe." Hath he ſaid ſo? O then! put him to his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But what ſays God to me, that am longing, longing, earneſtly longing for ſome taſte of his goodneſs, ſome view of his beauty; ſome communion and fellowſhip with him? Why God ſays to you, that he "will ſatisfy the longing ſoul and fill the hungry with good things. Matth. v. 6. Bleſſed are they that hunger and thirſt after righteouſneſs: for they ſhall be filled." Hath he ſaid ſo? Then let your heart ſay, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
Oh! but is there any word for one that hath a quite other case to tell you of, that hath no longing deſire, no hunger, no thirſt, that hath as much need as any longing ſoul here; but I have no ſpiritual longing, not ſo much as a deſire, but, like the parching earth, the dry ground, that can have no active thirſt, but hath many a wide cleft? God ſays Iſa. xliv. 3, 4, "I will pour water on him that is thirſty, and floods upon the dry ground? even my ſpirit upon thy ſeed, and my bleſſing upon thine offspring. They ſhall grow up as among the graſs, as willows by the water courſes." Have you no other thirſt, but like that of the dry ground? and he hath promiſed a flood? Then, O put him to his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
Oh! but is there anyword for me, that am like the barren ground and unfruitful, that bears nothing but briars and thorns, and I find this ground concern? Hear that word, Iſa. lv. 13. Instead of the thorn ſhall come up the fir tree; and inſtead of the briar, the myrtle tree; and it ſhall be to the Lord for a name, and for an everlaſting ſign that ſhall not be cut off. Hoſ. xiv. 8. I am like a green fir tree, from me is thy fruit found.” Hath he ſaid ſo? Then put him to his word, ſaying, Lord Do as thou hast ſaid.rejected, is nigh unto curſing, whoſe end is to be ? Is this your fear and
Alas! But is there any word for me, that have been a fool a mocker a ſcorner, that have laughed at all religion and godlineſs; is there any merciful words that I may take hold of? Ye, God ſays. Prov. i. 22. "Ye ſcorners that delight in ſcorning, and fools that hate knowledge, turn ye at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my word unto you." Doth he ſay ſo? Then put him to his word, ſaying, O do as thou haſt ſaid.
But what ſays God to one that hath a plagued heart, a hard heart, a baſe heart, full of all manner of evils, and all the plagues of hell? Why, God ſays, Ezek. xxxvi 26. "A new heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the ſtony heart out of your fleſh, and will give you an heart of fleſh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cauſe you to walk in my ſtatutes." And whatever be the plague, he hath ſaid, I am the Lord; that healeth thee.--Hath he ſaid ſo? Then O put him to his word, saying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
Ah! But doth God ſay any thing to a ſtupid wretch, that only hear you, but is no more affected than the ſtones of the wall, and that is quite dead, and can no more ſtir than a rock, and hath no more life than a dead corpſe? God ſays, and O that he would ſay it with power, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breath upon theſe ſlain, that they may live. Ezek. xxxvii. 12. I will open your graves, and cauſe you to come out of your graves, and ye ſhall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, and ſhall put my Spirit in you, and ye ſhall live." Hath he ſaid fo? Then O put him to his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But, Oh! is there any word that God ſays concerning me, that have forfeited God's favour, by heaping up great and inſuperable mountains betwixt him and me, that I fear he will never come over? Why, he ſays, Zech. iv. 7. "Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before our Zerubbabel, thou ſhalt become a plain. He ſhall bring forth the head ſtone with shouting, crying, grace, grace unto it. He can make "the mountains skip like rams, and the little hills like lambs."—Hath he said so? Then, O put him to his word, and say, Lord, Do as thou hast said.
But is there any word for one that is filled with fear of heavy judgments coming upon the land, and upon an apostate church? Yes, he says, Isa. xxxii. 2. "A man shall be a hiding place from the storm, and a covert from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." When you see matters running into confusion, church members betraying the privileges of the church, and the church of Scotland destroying herself with her own hand, not only "boars out of the forest waisting her, and wild beasts of the field devouring her," her, but enemies in the bosom of the church making themselves" famous, for lifting up axes and hammers to break down the carved work" of her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, remember the Lord hath said that when he "builds up Zion, he will appear in his glory; and that upon all the glory there shall be a defence; that at evening time it shall be light;" that the darkest part of the night may usher in the morning-star of a reformation in spite of hell: for I would incline gladly to hope God will not leave Scotland, though we have left him. He took infestment by solemn national covenant six times; and he hath had martyrs for his kingly office, that have asserted his royal prerogatives at the expence of their blood: therefore, let us apply that word. He will arise and have mercy on Zion.—Hath he said so? Then, O take him at his word, saying, Lord, Do as thou hast said.
But is there any word for a poor creature that is in "bondage thro’ fear of death? If I have run with the footmen, and they have wearied me; then how can I contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein I trusted,they wearied me, then what will I do in the swelling of Jordan?" I tremble to meet with the king of terrors? Why, he hath said, Hos. xiii. 14. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death! I will be thy plague; O grave! I will be thy destruction. Death shall be swallowed up in victory." Plead then, that he would do as he hath said.
But I want assurance of all these things, may one lay, well, what mean you by that, man, woman, that you want assurance? I suppose many do not understand themselves, when they say they want assurance; for, what better assurance would you have than the word? If you have his word, you need no better assurance. If a man of credit, whom you can depend upon it, and say you are assured of it; for you have his word. There is an assurance of sense, that is the assurance of the work, when you have got the thing that is promised; this is not properly assurance, it is enjoyment: but the assurance of faith is the assurance of a word. And tho the assurance of sense be sweetest, yet the assurance of faith is the surest assurance: for, what you get in hand from God you may soon lose the benefit and comfort of it; but what you have upon band in the promise, is still to the fore. If you take God’s promise, you have the best assurance in the world; but if you say you want faith, you cannot take his word, or trust his word, then this is plain dealing: I fear this indeed be the case of the most; then you want assurance indeed, because you want faith, and cannot take his word, nor give him so much credit. But if any be saying, that is indeed my case; I cannot believe his word: doth God say nothing to me? Is there any word suited to my case? Yes, there are promises of faith as well as to it: Zeph. iii. 12. "I will leave in the midst of them a poor and afflicted people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. In him shall the Gentiles trust."--Hath the author of faith so promifed? Then, O take him at his word; cry for faith, saying, Lord, Do as thou hast said.
But may one say I would desire not only to have the word, but the accomplishment of the word; I would not only have the promise, but the performance; and there are some promises, I have been looking to, some ten or twenty years- old promises,that I think I got the faith of, but; alas! the accomplishment is not yet come; there are some prayers and petitions I have had long tabled upon the ground of the promise; what doth God say to one that hath never got these promises accomplished, nor these prayers answered? Why, man, be thankful, if you have got grace to believe the promife; for so much faith as you have to take God’s word, so much assurance you have that the word will be made out. If you be waiting upon a promising God, give him his time, and behold the womb of the promise will shortly open and bring forth; for it will not travel beyond its time; "Belied is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things that were told her from the Lord," Luke i. 45. And your fits and ſtarts of unbelief, O believer, ſhall not hinder the performance of the promiſe you have once believed ſavingly; "If we not, he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himſelf," 2 Tim. ii. 13. Will he deny his word? Will he deny his oath? No, no; he will have reſpect to his covenant, becauſe he hath a reſpect to himſelf.
But what fays God of one that is afflicted and mourning for the deſolation of Zion, and particularly for the ſins and defections of the day we live in? I will tell you what he says, They that sow in tears ſhall reap in joy: And though you have your mourning time for Zion, you ſhall alſo have your rejoicing times; "Rejoice ye with Jeruſalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her," Iſa. lxvi. 10. He ſays, that he will "ſet a mark upon the foreheads of them that sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done in the midſt thereof, Ezek. ix. 4. Bleſſed are they that mourn, for they ſhall be comforted," Matth. v. 4.----Why, then look to him to do as he hath ſaid.
But says another, I'm one that has a family, and children that the Lord hath given me, and it is my concern not only that I may be bleſſed myſelf, but that my feed and offspring may be bleſſed: is there any word for me in this case? Yea, what think you of that word, Iſa. xliv. 3. "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my bleſſing upon thine offſpring? What think ye of that covenant made with Abraham, which you are called to lay hold upon by following his faith? Gen. xvii, 7. "I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed. You have not only the covenant of Abraham to look to, but the ſame entail of the Covenant to your posterity to look to. Iſa. lix. 21. "This is my covenant with them, faith the Lord, my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words that I have put in thy mouth, ſhall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy feed, nor out of the mouth of thy feeds ſeed, ſaith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. He hath ſaid, that children are his heritage Pſal. cxxvii. 3.; and that his righteouſneſs is unto childrens children, ciii. 17.; The promiſe is unto you and to your children? Acts. ii. 39. O take him at his word, and сrу Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But what do you ſay to one that finds himſelf deserted of God, and that God anſwers neither by Urim nor Thum mim. "I go forward, but he is not there; backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he dothwo(illegible text) but I cannot ſee him, Job.xxii. 8, 9. The comfort that could relieve my ſoul is far removed, "Lam. i. 16. God ſays, Iſa. liv. 7, 8, 10. "For a ſmall moment have I forſaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee: in a little wrath I hid my face from thee, for a moment; but with everlaſting kindneſs will I have mercy on thee, faith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains ſhall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindneſs ſhall not depart from thee, neither ſhall the covenant of my peace be removed, faith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee"--- Hath he ſaid ſo? Then, O take him at his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But what doth God ſay to one that is toſſed with one wave of affliction upon the back of another, "deep calling unto deep, at the noiſe of God's water ſpouts; all his waves and billows are gone over me?" Pſal. xci. 7. Why, God ſays, Iſa. liv. 11, 12, 13, 74. "Oh thou afflicted, toſſed with tempeſt, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy ſtones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires: and I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleaſant ſtones; and all thy children ſhall be taught of the Lord, and great ſhall be the peace of thy children: in righteouſneſs ſhalt thou be eſtabliſhed." Yea, he ſays, Pſal. xci. 15. "He ſhall call upon me and I will anſwer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honour him" Many ſuch ſweet words of grace he ſpeaks: O then, take his word and plead, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word to one that is loſt in the wilderneſs, and knows not where he is, ſo as to think it impoſſible that miniſters can find him out? I think I am loſt in a thicket, and it is impoſſible to find out my caſe, a nameleſs caſe. why may be that word concerns you, Iſa. lxii. 11, "Behold thy ſalvation cometh; and thou ſhall be called, Sought out, not forſaken?" And Hoſea. ii. 14. "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderneſs, and there will I ſpeak comfortably to her or, as the word is in the margin, Speak to her Heart. O comfortable when God ſpeaks not only to the ear, but to the heart. Well, hath he ſaid it? O then, take his word and plead, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word to one that hath been incorrigible under correcting providences, and hath his corruptions irritate by the croſs, and rebellion rather increaſed by rods inſtead of being reclaimed by word and rod? Is there any caſe like mine, or is there any word for me to lay hold upon? Yes; what think you of that word, Iſa. lvii. 17, 18. "For the iniquity of his covetouſneſs was I wroth, and ſmote him: I hid me and was wroth, and he went on forwardly in the way of his heart." Well, what follows; "I have ſeen his ways; and I will heal him: I will lead him alſo, and reſtore comforts unto him and to his mourners." O aſtoniſhing wonder of free grace! that it was not ſaid, I have ſeen his ways, and will Damn him, but I have ſeen his ways, and will Save him-Hath he ſaid ſo? Then put in your petition, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word to ſuch as are under the power of unbelief and impenitency? The goſpel is preached to believers and penitents: O God forbid but it was not preached to ſinners, that are both unbelieving and impenitent, in order to bring them to faith and repentance: why what ſays God to ſuch? He ſays, that they ought to lay hold and plead upon, Pſal. cx. 3. "Thy people ſhall be willing in the day of thy power. Acts. v. 31. Chriſt is "exalted at the right hand of God to be a prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Iſrael, and forgiveneſs of ſins." Plead then he may Do as he hath ſaid.
But is it poſſible that God is ſpeaking to any that hath been a notorious ſinner? Perhaps all the coutry knows that I have been a ſcandalous debauchee, a leud and wicked ſinner, a profane graceleſs wretch. O! if any were charmed with the joyful ſound of the goſpel grace to day, he ſays, Iſa i. 18 "Come now let us reaſon together, faith the Lord: though your ſins be as ſcarlet, they ſhall be as white as ſnow; tho' they be red like crimſon, they ſhall be as wool." Though you have finned to the uttermoſt, I am able to ſave to the uttermoſt, is your name wonderful, as a ſinner? Behold his name is Wonderful, as a Saviour.-O hath he ſaid ſo? Well, go and plead his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But beſides my wickedneſs, I am groſly ignorant; doth God ſay any thing to a poor brutiſh, ignorant creature like me? Would you be taught? There is a word you may take hold of John vi.45. "It is written in the prophets, they ſhall be all taught of God." And, who teaches like him?--Hath he ſaid ſo? Then take him at his word ſaying, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
But is there any word from God for one that hath crucified ſo many convictions as I have done; yea, and virtually crucified the son of God afreſh, rejecting his calls, grieving his Spirit? Yea, we are called to preach the goſpel to every creature, and even to the crucifiers of Chriſt; "Repentance and remiſſion of ſin muſt be preached in his name, among all nations, begining at Jeruſalem," Luke xxiv. 47. Why beginning at Jeruſalem, among the crucifiers of Chriſt? Becauſe they have moſt need of his blood to waſh them; Chriſt came to ſave ſinners?----Hath he ſaid ſo? Then put in your bill, Lord, Do as as thou haſt ſaid.
But will you tell me, is there any word for one that cannot think that it is as you are ſaying, that there is any merciful word in God's mouth, or any merciful thought in God's heart towards me; it cannot enter into my thought; I cannot let it light in my mind or heart? Why, God ſays, Iſa. lv. 8.9 "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ſaith the Lord: for as the heavens are higher than the earth, ſo are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." You are not to measure his thoughts by yours, no more than you can meaſure theſe wide heavens with your arms but God knows his own thoughts, and what ſays he of them. Jer. xxx. 11, 12, 13. "I know the thoughts that I think towards you, ſaith the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then ſhall ye call upon me, and I will hearken unto you And ye ſhall ſeek me and find me, when ye ſhall ſearch for me with all your heart."---Hath he ſaid ſo? Then go and plead his word, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
In a word do you want his preſence? He hath ſaid, "Lo I am with you alway even unto the end of the world; I will never leave thee nor forſake thee?" are you afraid of hell and damnation. He hath ſaid, Deliver his ſoul from going down to the pit, I have found out a ranſom.-O what encouragement is here to go and pray and plead, ſaying, Lord, Do as thou haſt ſaid.
O ſirs, ſearch the ſcriptures, and ſtudy the word of God; conſult and conſider what he hath ſaid; let there be no mouldy Bibles among you: let not the duſt of your Bibles witneſs againſt you, for eternal ſalvation depends upon your believing what he hath said: therefore ſtudy the faith of what he hath ſaid. The Spirit is promiſed, and the ſcriptures are written to work this faith; Chriſt is exalted, and the throne of grace is erected to give this faith; and this faith comes by hearing what he hath ſaid: by hearing not what Plato hath ſaid or Seneca hath ſaid; what this or that man hath ſaid, but what God hath ſaid in his word, in this Bible, which is a book ſo prefaced, and ſo atteſted as never any other book was: the Old Teſtament is prefaced by all the miracles wrought by Moſes; the New Teſtament prefaced by all the miracles wrought by Chriſt. And as Moſes's miracles were wrought before the Old Teſtament was written, ſo Chriſt's miracles were wrought before the New Teſtament was written: never a book was ſo atteſted as this, even by a cloud of witnesses, a cloud of miracles, a cloud of martyrs, who ſealed with their blood the truth contained in it. God, in the New Teſtament, exactly fulfils what he hath ſaid in the Old; yea, the preſent ſtate of all the world is a viſible performing of ſcripture prophecies.---Are not the Jews at this day a ſcattered and deſpiſed people, as the ſcripture ſaid they ſhould be? Hath not God done as he hath ſaid?--Is not Antichriſt, the long lived man of ſin, and the cruel man of blood, as the ſcripture told he ſhould be. Thus it is done as he hath ſaid.---Are not the pagan parts of the earth the dark places and habitations of cruelty, as the ſcripture ſays they ſhould be? Thus it is as he hath ſaid.---Do not the ſeven churches of Aſia ly deſolate, as they were threatned, unleſs they repented? Thus it is as he hath ſaid.---Is not Mahomet, the falſe prophet, and his followers like the waters of the great river Euphrates, to which they are compared in ſcripture And thus it is as he hath ſaid.-Does not the whole world ly in wickedneſs as the word of God ſhews? And ſo it is as he hath ſaid.--Is not every ſaint as a brand plucked out of the burning as the ſcripture ſpeaks? And it is as he hath ſaid.---Are not Deiſts and ſcoffers walking after their own luſts, and ridiculing the promiſe of Chriſt's coming as the ſcripture ſpeaks? And ſo it is as he hath ſaid.--Are not all the black marks of perilous times in the last days upon us as the ſcripture ſpeaks? And ſo it is as he hath ſaid.--Are not the fooliſh virgins as many, yea, and more than the wiſe, and all ſlumbering and ſleeping, and all according as he hath ſaid? Doth not the Spirit ſpeak expreſly, that in the latter times ſome ſhall depart from the faith, according it is as he hath ſaid?---Is not the goſpel a favour of life to ſome and a favour of death to others?---Is not Chriſt precious to ſome, and a ſtone of ſtumling and a rock of offence to others, as the ſcripture ſpeaks, and ſo it is as he hath ſaid?-Look about you, and fee if any thing that falls out be not an accompliſhment of the word and, O how ſhould you value this word! not a jot or title of it ſhall fall to the ground.
Walk to this garden of the ſcripture, and pluck up the flowers of goſpel promiſes and put them in your boſom; live by faith upon the promiſes, and be perſuaded, whatever ſtands in the way, that he will do as he hath ſaid. He will do ſo, for what he hath ſaid he hath written. what he hath ſaid he hath ſealed, what he hath ſaid he hath ſworn, what he hath ſaid he will never unſay; therefore, take hold of his word of grace, and hold him at his word in life and death, ſaying Do as thou haſt ſaid.
- This was done at different periods betwixt the year 1580 and 1650.