The Saint's duty in evil times (1801)

The Saint's duty in evil times  (1801) 
by James Renwick







Preached from Isa. xxvi. 20.

By Mr. James Renwick, Minister of the Gospel, who suffered in the Grass-Market of Edinburgh, upon the 17th day of February, 1688.

Prov. xviii. 10. The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and are safe.
Psalm xlvi. 1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

The Saint's duty in evil times (1801) - Title.png








isaiah XXVI. 20.

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 over-past.

THE bowels of the Lord's sympathy towards his people, are always bursting out, and he dow not see them forsaking their own mercy, and straying from him; but is much taken up in lamenting over their folly, and with giving them many a moving and sweet invitation to come to him, where their happiness lies, and lays himself open to them, and the riches that are with him, with his arms spread abroad, inviting them by his precious and hearty promises, seeking nothing of folk, but only, That they would come and receive freely, Isa. Iv, I. 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.' He opens up precious and rich ware, and says to his buyer and merchants, the commodity is good, come away, we shall not cast out about the price; if ye have hearts to receive, I have a heart to give: Come away then, hearty good fellows, we will never stand upon it; for 'tis not with him as with the men of the world, for they count them the best good-fellows, who give most and freeliest; but he counts them the best good-fellows, who will take most and freeliest; and he debars none from him, but discovers his riches, and invites all, Rev. xxii. 16, 17. 'I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning-star. And the Spirit and the bride say come, and let him that heareth, say, come, and let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely' And if this, and such sweet invitations, will not prevail, he makes taws to whip his own to himself: terrors within, and judgments without; and he never lays on a blow, but he is still provoked to it, and when he lays it on, the tears are in his eyes, because he must do it, Lam. iii. 33. "For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men," yea, when his own turn their backs upon him, he lets them not alone, but is still calling them back again, Zech. i. 3. "Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." And also, when he threatens most sadly, he fails not to make large promises to the faithful, and to give them ample invitations "to come to him," for their pleasure, and for their safety, {{reconstruct|"come my people," &c. When the Lord is coming out of his place, to sit in judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth and to give out sentence upon them, according to their doings, and to punish them for their iniquities, he calls his own people to himself, where they are to be hid and preserved. O stand still amazed, and wonder at his tender love, and fatherly care of his children, who will come with his cloak of zeal, and clothes of vengeance, to give out, and to execute his sentence of justice upon his enemies, until that he give his people fair warning thereof; and also invites them to their shelter and safety, which he hath prepared for them. Ye know, Ezek. ix. the Lord sends forth, first, "A man, clothed in linen, with a writer's ink-horn by his side, to set a mark upon the fore-heads of them that sigh and cry, for all the abominations that be done in the earth," and commands his men, with the slaughtering weapons in their hands, to go after, "And smite, and not spare nor pity, but to slay utterly, old and young, both maids, little children and women; but not to come near these upon whom the mark is set."

Now the Lord hath men prepared with slaughtering weapons in their hands to kill a sacrifice at Bozrah in Scotland, of prelates and malignants, and of backsliding ministers and professors; he is coming to be avenged on that cursed throne, and the supporters thereof, for the cruelty done against him, and of ministers and professors, for their heinous treachery towards him; and this is his commission, and our charge unto you, to invite and to call you, and all that will give ear unto this rock of ages, for your shelter, unto the chambers of his presence and protection, where ye shall be saved with delight. "O come my people," in which words, ye have, First, an invitation "come." Secondly, The persons invited, or the determination thereof, "my people." Thirdly, That which they are invited unto, The chamber of the Lord's protection and presence, where unto he invites them to, "enter." Fourthly, Their carriage, and that which they are to do there, "Shut thy doors about thee, and hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment." Fifthly, The safety of these chambers, being an hiding place, "until the indignation be over past;" or rather, the determination of the continuance of their hiding, "until the indignation be over-past."

As to the first, The invitation, "Come, O come," a homely word indeed; this is no less than, "Behold me! behold me!" Here is enough to give, and here is willingness to give, only come, only receive, only take, and ye shall not want.

But to enlarge a little, we lay down a twofold doctrine. Doct. First, "There is both ability and willingness in the Lord, to give you whatsoever your necessity requires."

'Ability,' What would you have? Salvation and deliverance, then 'He is able to save to the uttermost, all that come unto him,' Heb vii 25. Lift up your eyes and behold a wonder, which ye cannot behold, behold a wonder which you cannot know, and put forth this question, Ifa. Ixiii. I. 'Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength.' And his answer will be unto you, It is 'I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.' Gain-say it who will, 'The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand, he shall see of the travel of his soul, and be satisfied'

Now methinks I hear you saying. All that is true, we can set our seals to it; but O, is he willing? There is our question. Willing indeed; he is not more able, than he is willing. 'What are all his promises but declarations of his free willingness? What are all his sweet invitations, but to tell you that he is willing, and ye are welcome? He that thirsteth, let him come and whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.' Ah! what say you to it now? Give us your seal to his willingness also. Go, say ye, why not? Ye have it. Then come away, there is no more wanting, say come; we know he is willing and we set our seal to his willingness. But is he willing to receive me? Satisfy me in that, and then I will be right. Ah cheat! ye are taking your word back again now, and lifting off your seal; if ye except not yourself, he will not except you: His invitation is unto all; every one come, he that thirsteth, come, he that hath no money, "come." Isaiah lv. 1. Now, why will ye be so ill to yourselves, as to debar yourselves? For he doth not do it; ye may as well, and as rationally say, that ye are not a body, as to say, he debars you. His invitation is to every one. Now, assent to this, and then, before you except yourself out thereof, you must first not have a being, neither of soul nor body. We say, for you to think that he excepts you, it is all one as to deny yourself to be the children of Adam. Now, O come, come niggard, what aileth thee! Come, what would ye have, that is not in Christ? O! that sweet invitation 'come,' we cannot tell what is in it; there is a depth in it that all the angels in heaven cannot fathom; it is no less than Jesus Christ, 'who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,' spreading forth his arms, and inviting you, he is opening up himself, his all-sufficiency and superascendent excellency, and calling unto all poor needy things, come, here is enough for you; give in your desires, and you shall have them satisfied to the full. What then have ye to say to the bargain? come, come, it is a rich commodity, and there is no sticking at the price, only receive and have, the easiest of all terms, there is no more required at your hands. But say ye, Ha, Sir, ye go without your bounds, the invitation in your text, is to his people, ye are all wrong. We are not so far out, as ye trow; the invitation is to his people, to 'enter into their chambers,' and to all, who will come and become his people, to 'enter into their chambers,' and so this is a free market. We must invite all to come, ye who are enemies, lay down your arms against him, and come; ye who are upholding his enemies, and complying with them in their sinful courses and abominations, by paying them cess and locality, and by furnishing them meat and drink, (which is more than 'a bidding them God speed,' which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of John, forbids, second epistle of John, 10 verse) Quit the putting the sword in God's enemies' hands, and come: ye who have given bonds to the adversary, break your 'covenant with hell and death,' and come; break your sworn allegiance to the devil, and come, and swear a new allegiance to Jesus Christ, and ye shall never rue it: ye who compear before their courts, and pay them fines, whereby, both ye acknowledge them robbers of God, and call your duty your sin; quit these courses and come ye, who go to the curates, leave these perjured blind guides and come: ye who go to the indulged, leave these traitors to God. Ye, who go to the backslidden silent ministers, leave these betrayers of the cause, and deserters of the cross of Christ, and come leave all these and follow him, he is a true guide, and will be so unto you, ye who any ways seek or take the enemies' protection, leave that and come; come to him, and ye shall find chambers indeed, both for safety and delight. All ye that are strangers to him, come, ye that are in nature, come, and ye that know him come. We must preach that word come, unto you, so long as ye are here, until ye be transplanted out of this spiritual warfare, into celestial triumph. O Sirs, come, come, ask what ye will, and he will give it; O come, come.

Now, it were requisite here to shew you, who it is that comes unto Christ, who it is that comes not; but it will come as fitly in the second thing which we have noticed in the words, and so we proceed unto it.

The second thing, ye know, was this, the persons invited, or the determination of the invitation 'my people.' These are they whom he invites to their chambers; his people, they who subscribe to the terms of his covenant, which is, 'I will be your God, and ye shall be my people;' they who make a covenant with him by sacrifice, they who covenant with him only to be accepted through the sacrifice of his Son, and they who sacrifice themselves to him, they who espouse him to be their God, and his quarrel and concernment to be theirs. But before we enter upon what we proposed, we proceed to the third thing in the words, to make way for it, and so shall return.

The third thing was this, their chambers whereinto they are invited to enter; that is, the chambers of the Lords protection and presence, what are these chambers do you think? Ask at Solomon, and he will tell you, Prov. xviii. 10. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.' It is Jesus Christ that ye are invited unto.

Doct 2. 'These chambers are safe, and they who are therein, need not fear wrath,' see for the confirmation of this point, Isa. xxxii. 2. 'A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land.'

There is the description of these chambers, they are chambers of safety, no wind can win there into them, no tempest can overtake them who are there, ye are without the flood mark of the wrath of God, and they are chambers of delight; ye will not want refreshing; they are 'rivers of water in a dry place, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land;' we cannot commend them unto you, for they pass the eloquence of angels to do it; but enter these, and ye shall find more than we can tell you, enter, and ye shall find more than ye will able to tell yourselves: Enter, we say, that is the invitation: But ye will say, how shall we enter? What is requisite for our entering? What will take us in? Answer, Faith. That is the thing will take you in; that is the key that opens these doors, the use of the means and the exercise of faith, the hand of duty, and the key of faith; but take notice, it is true saving faith; it is neither historical, temporary, nor the faith of miracles; but it is saving faith, whereby Christ is only received and rested upon; it is faith as an instrument apprehending the object, Christ: It is that (I say) which taketh you in.

But for your more clear uptaking whereof, consider what is requisite in true saving faith. First, A deep sight and sense of your lost condition, that ye are destroyed, liable to the wrath of God, and all the curses in the law. Secondly, A sense of this, that there is nothing in you or that ye can do, that will help you, it is beyond all created power to recover you, and so, not all seeking to establish a self-righteousness, it is, 'Come unto me ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Thirdly, A right sense of the all sufficiency that is in Jesus Christ, and his excellency drawing the heart out after him, as all the desire of the soul, and so closing with him. Therefore, ye who remain senseless of your lost condition, have a care; ye are not yet in these chambers.

But that it may be made clear unto you, consider moreover, if ye would enter into these chambers; First, ye must close with Christ alone, there must nothing have a share in the meritorious cause in bringing you there, but himself only; ye must not lay part of the weight upon him, and part on yourselves and your duties: No, no, he must either have it all on his back, or else he will have none of it, therefore take heed to yourselves. Secondly, You must close with full Christ, as Prophet, Priest and King; as a Prophet to teach you his will; he must be your schoolmaster; as Priest, through whose sacrifice only, the Father must accept you, and who continually makes intercession at his right hand for you; and as King, to sway a sceptre in your souls to rule you according to his own law and to cast down, and to cast out every thing exalting itself against his kingdom within you.

O take heed to this, ye who regard not his will, ye who give him nor a throne in your hearts; without this, ye cannot 'enter into these chambers,' and assure yourselves, if he were reigning in you, ye would care more, and contend more for his kingdom without you, and in the world. Take heed to this, ye who care not tho' a tyrant possess his throne, and as it were, spoil him of his princely robes: take heed to this, ye who stand not to hold down his kingdom, by upholding of his enemies. Thirdly, You must (if ye would enter into these chambers) close with all the inconveniencies that follow him, his cross must be taken up, Luke ix. 23, 24. 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: But whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.' Whatever he calls you unto must be embraced: your heart must subscribe to the reasonableness and desireableness of every one of these inconveniences, but let us change their names and call them conveniences and Christian advantages, and so we may; for they are of special good use to Christians; these are a part of the discipline of Christ's school, and some say, this is David's meaning, Psalm cxvi. 13. where he says, 'I will take the cup of salvation.' That is, as they say, the cup of affliction, as that whereby the Lord works the salvation of his people; and so indeed the cup of affliction may be called the cup of salvation. Now that is the way ye must enter.

Use. O come away, let us hear what ye say to it. Are ye willing to enter this way? Think upon it. This is the way ye must enter, and in our telling of it, we may tremble to think upon this generation, who will not close with these (so called) inconveniences. We have no skill of people's closing with Christ, who will not close with these. But Oh, What say ye unto us? What is your reply? Is it not this, 'That neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' Is this your saying, then come away, take him, take} on his yoke, 'For his yoke is easy, and his burden light.'

The Saint's duty in evil times (1801) - Headpiece.png

Follows the Afternoon


Isa. xxvi. 20. Come my people, &c.

THIS is the way that folk undo themselves, and forsake their own mercies; that which ought to chase them to God, chases them out from him. All hypocritical convictions only put them the further away from the physician; so it is with judgement, which should put folk to their duties, they are thereby put from it. When the Lord furbishes his glittering sword of justice, then it is to drive his own children unto his own hand, 'Come my people,' &c. Ye know the last occasion how we divided these words; ye know also, know that before we left the first head, we said, it would be requisite to show unto you, who it is that comes to Christ, and who it is that comes not: But we told you, that it would come more fitly in the second head; yet, to make way for it, we proceed forward unto the third thing in the words. And now, having touched that a little, we return again, as we told you we purposed to do, and still (as the Lord will enable) open the Second Head, further declaring, who are his people: to wit,

These, as we were saying, who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, to be accepted only through the sacrifice of his Son, and who sacrifice away themselves unto him. In a word, it is these who are righteous, and who live righteously. These who are righteous, are these who are fled unto Christ for his righteousness, and have gotten themselves clothed therewith. But that ye may the more clearly take up, who these are who come unto Christ; before we give you some marks of them, and some rules how to apply these marks, we shall first declare who it is that come not.

First, These come not unto Christ, who come not from all sin, Ezek. xviii. 21. 'But if the wicked will turn from all sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.' Ye see the condition, it is if ye will turn from all sin, both omission and commission; from all sin, unto all duty; leaving all sin, and taking up all Christian duty. Therefore remember, if ye entertain any one idol that will keep Christ out. Many say of some idol sin, that they do not quit, as Lot said of Zoar, 'It is a little one, therefore let me brook it,' but remember what David says, 'If I regard iniquity in my heart,' the Lord will not hear me,' Psal. lxvi. 18. Remember this, and destroy not yourselves, ye who follow not gross swearing, drinking or whoring, and the like, yet cleave unto your petty minched oaths, and your idle vain discourse, and your light conversation. O remember this ye who have any predominate, whose head ye clap; your right hand and your right-eye sins must be cut off, and plucked out, before ye can enter into the kingdom of heaven: I say, if ye entertain any predominate, it speaks out this, That ye would as well entertain all sins, if your inclinations were as bent upon them, and that ye do not leave them, as they are hateful to God, but only, as they are not so delightsome or hurtful unto you. O! take heed, except ye repent and amend, 'ye shall all likewise perish' Remember this ye moral civilians, who are not chargeable with gross profanity in your private walk, yet have your hands imbrued in blood, and have them defiled with public land-sins, which procure land judgments! Ye take a liberty to pay cess, and fines, and tiends to Baal's priests, and to do many other things to strengthen the enemies of our Lord, and condemn his cause, I say, take heed to yourselves, 'except ye repent and amend, ye shall all likewise perish,' Remember this, ye who turn not to make up all Christian duties with you; ye think it enough, ye babble over two or three words at night and at morn to yourselves, tho' you set not up the worship of God in your families, and if ye do that, ye think that enough, tho' ye neither put to your hand so act with the Lord, nor sympathize with his afflicted people, nor imbody yourselves in society with them, to cry for all the abominations of the land. O take heed, 'except ye repent and amend, ye shall all likewise perish.'

Secondly, These come not unto Christ, who tho' they may come a great length, not to be chargeable by man, neither with omission nor commission, yet rest there; all that will not take them to heaven. Paul, before his conversion, he reports of himself, Phil, iii. 6. 'was touching the righteousness, which is in the law blameless.' He was as trim a legalist as the best of you; but mark what he says of himself in the 7, 8 and 9 verses, 'But what things were gain to me; those I counted loss for Christ, yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is thro' the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' There is that which ye must only rest on, and no where else, at upon the compleat and inherent righteousness of Jesus Christ; therefore take heed how ye build.

Thirdly, These come not unto Jesus Christ, who feed themselves up in that deluding fancy, that they have not so much need of him, as others have, by reason of their thinking their sins but little sins. O, say some, I am not like the profane and wicked; What then need I fear? O poor fool, mind what the apostle tells thee, Gal. iii. 10. 'For in such a case, thou art under the law, and as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse, for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law, to do them.' A pen-knife can take away the life as well as a broad sword: Indeed, I think the case of the wicked and profane is more hopeful than thy case, because they will be sooner gotten convinced of the necessity of repentance than thou wilt.

Fourthly, These come not unto Christ, who, because they meet with favourable dispensations, and great proofs of the Lord's general providences, thereupon conclude all is well with them. Think upon what David says, Psalm xvii. 14. 'From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portions in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.' 'None knoweth love or hated by all that is before him.' Eccl xi.

Fifthly, These come not to Christ, who think all is right with them, because they are not challenged in their consciences. O mad fools, whose hearts are sealed with obduration, the saddest place in all the scripture holds forth your case, Hos. iv. 7. 'Ephraim is joined to his idols: Let him alone.' When they drop into hell, the fire thereof will upon burn up that thick skin that is grown upon our consciences.

Sixthly, These come not unto Christ, who rest upon their apprehended sorrow for sin. O, say they, I am not such a fool as to think all is well, because I want challenges, but because I have them: Remember Esau, remember Judas, your building upon your sorrows and tears, is like a man that guilds upon a slow-moss.

Seventhly, These come not unto Christ, who fall off the common road of sin unto duty, and rest there: Mind what our Lord says of the conceited Pharisee, Luke xviii. it, 12, 13 and 14. That tho' he was not an extortioner, unjust, nor an adulterer, and fasted twice a week, and paid tithes of all that he had possessed, yet he went not down to his house so justified as the poor publican did; yet, ye will say, I am far from swearing, drinking, &c. and have betaken myself to the society of the people of God; and I read and pray, &c. therefore all is well. O poor fool, thy case is now worse than ever. O we tremble to think upon the multitude that pray themselves into hell: This is David Indeed, who kills his ten thousands. What shall I liken you to? Ye are like a man that diggeth deep down, and casts out the old earth, brings new earth of his own mould, but goes not the length of the rock.

Eightly, These come not unto Christ, who even go that Length, as to assent to the spiritual meaning of the law, and rest there. This is much indeed; this is a great length, yea, a greater length than the most part of you, who are hearing me this day have come unto, and yet they are far from the kingdom of heaven. Observe that passage, Mark xii. 32, 33. Where a scribe answered our Lord, and said 'To love the Lord with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' To whom our Lord replies, 34 verse, 'Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.'

Ninthly, These come not unto Jesus Christ, who have common gifts, and rest there O say ye, I find a faculty of prayer, I want not words enough and get them bravely set upon the pins, and I have great knowledge of the scriptures, and I am straight and not biassed in my judgment; and what need such a man (as I) fear? O deluded soul, consider what Paul says, I Cor. xiii. 2. 'Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and tho' I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.' No doubt, Judas had much of this; God will give gifts unto persons, for the behoof and advantage of others; but when he gives grace, it is ay for their own advantage; yea, the devil is better gifted, and hath more knowledge than all of you have.

Tenthly, These come not unto Christ, who suffer many things materially for the truth, and have some seeming fruits thereof, and rest there: do not think that your suffering your goods to be spoiled, and yourselves cast out of your habitation before ye comply with the enemy is a ground, from which ye may conclude all to be right: Nay, I tell you as the Apostle says, I Cor. xiii. 'Though ye should bestow all your goods to feed the poor, tho' I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing;' Yea, the same Apostle supposeth, Gal. iii. 4 That there may be much suffering in vain. 'Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain.' There are many of yon that are suffering this day materially for Christ; materially, we say, and not formally; for hypocrites never win to sincerity in their doings and sufferings, nor to do them as to God; and yet ye will get hell to suffer in throughout all eternity; yea, a man when his credit is straitly engaged, he may give his life for the cause, and yet get hell for his reward.

Eleventhly, These come not unto Christ, who have only a historical and temporary faith, instead of a saving faith, tho' ye should believe all the truths in the Bible, yet that will not avail you, the devils believe and tremble; yea, tho' you should give your general assent to the way of salvation by Christ, yet unless you receive and embrace him and rest upon him, all will be for nought: Look the case of this people; Isa. xlviii. 2. 'Who call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel!' but what says the Lord of them? 'Yet not in truth nor in righteousness:' O take heed what ye are doing, and do not deceive yourselves, for ye may win this length, as to be convinced, that it is good to come unto Christ, and think ye have done it, being blinded by your pride and may some way comfort yourselves, as if ye had done it, in this your presumptuous dream, and yet really never have done it: never really, have been brought to deny your own righteousness, and to receive Christ, relying only upon him for attaining of life through his righteousness and satisfaction.

Twelfthly, These come not unto Christ, who have only the common operation of the Spirit, upon the affection within, and resting there, conclude that all is well with them. We have already spoken of the danger of resting upon apprehended sorrow for sin, so there may be much also of the flames of joy, tenderness and heart meltings, which hypocrites may have at sometimes by another. Consider these who were John's hearers, John v. 35. 'Who for a season rejoiced in his light.' O! beware of gospel hypocrites take not flashes for conversion. If it could be determined how great a length hypocrites may come, we think it would rest here. O what shall we say of it! do what they will, and come as great a length as they can, they never come unto Christ, who are not fully denied to themselves, and positively rest only upon Jesus Christ, for justification and sanctification. True faith hath two voices. First, it calls and cries, O sinner, lean not to thyself, rest not there. Secondly, O sinner, rest on Jesus Christ, and lean unto himself.

Use. Now O believers, search and try yourselves, set about it earnestly, this is your work, and it will not be done slumbering and sleeping. There are many of you here this day, who are not come the length of some of these steps, which we have named; yea, ye may come thro' them all every one, and if ye go not further, ye will never win to Christ: And in his name I tell you, 'Except your righteousness exceed the Scribes and Pharisees, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.'

Ye know, we gave you some hints of these who are the Lord's people, viz. 'These who have come unto Christ,' and are made righteous, and live righteously: and for the more clearing of it, we now declare who these are, who have come unto him, by giving some marks and evidences, how the same may be known. We are not speaking of 'being in Christ,' as a creature by creation and preservation, nor as a member externally, but as a member internally and effectually, but ye will say, how is that?

Ans. By the strict union and communion betwixt Christ and the Christians, which is from the strictness of the bond; to wit, His word and Spirit on his part, and faith and love on their part. Now we say, how will that be known? Well, we will give you these marks therefore try yourselves. For,

First, If ye be come to Christ, then ye will find in you, a hatred of all sin naturally, and a desire to all good, though often ye may fail in the performance, Rom. vii 15. Paul says, 'That which I do, I allow not, for what I would, that I do not, but what I hate that I do,' I John iii. 8. 'Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not:' to wit, First, Purposedly, Secondly, Willingly, Thirdly, Affectionately, Fourthly, not unto death: For the Lord's people have, (1.) Grief, (2.) Care to recover. (3.) Fear to sin. O! can ye run on in sin, without returning and care of repentance; if it be so, ye are not in this living root.

Secondly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find this in you, a right and high esteem of the Lord's mercy, he and his salvation will be only precious in your eyes, 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,' Psal. xxxii. I. That will be your thoughts.

Thirdly, If ye be come unto Christ, ye will find this in you, a love unto the way of holiness, as well as happiness itself: Yea your heart will be so drawn after that noble device of salvation, seeing all the glorious attributes of God so shining therein, that ye would in no ways be content to go to heaven another way, than that glorious way, though it could be had, and this is all the Lord requires of you, only a pleasing the device. This is the brazen serpent, which ye must look unto for healing. O come away.

Fourthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find this in you, an acting upon God as he acts upon you; hath he called you? then ye will call upon him; hath he justified you? then ye will justify him.

Fifthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find this in you, a self-denial, and a daily taking up of the cross, against your own inclinations, the doctrine and practice of mortification, and a cutting yourself short of carnal delights will be desired by you.

Sixthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will be subject unto him willingly, and yield sweetly unto the swaying of his sceptre in your soul.

Seventhly. If ye be come unto Christ, then ye are subject unto him universally in all his commands.

Eightly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye are subject unto him sincerely in all things seeking his glory.

Ninthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye are subject unto him constantly, obeying him without wearying.

Tenthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then his word abideth in you, I John ii. 14. If that which ye have heard from the beginning remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son and in the Father, it must abide in you, so as your mind understands it, your hearts affect it. O how have that which ye have read and heard, remained? Few, few, in Christ.

Eleventhly, If ye be come unto Christ, ye will find his Spirit, 'leading you unto all truth,' John xvi. 13. Teaching thee and leading thee unto, and confirming thee in duty; but do not mistake, we mean no enthusiastic spirit, but his word and Spirit which he hath enjoined, Isa. lix, 21. 'My Spirit which is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart, &c.'

Twelfthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find his Spirit convincing you of sin.

Thirteenthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find his Spirit ruling and commanding you, casting down all things exalted against Christ's kingdom.

Fourteenthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find his Spirit in you by supplication, leading unto sense of sin, and apprehension of the necessity of mercy, which makes fervency, letting the soul see God only appealed in Christ, and sealeth the truth of God's promises and records.

Fifteenthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find faith in you, that will be your stay in all estates, actions, temptations and afflictions: This is hard to find out, yet it may be found out, if ye have a desire for it, ye may have it.

Sixteenthly, If ye be come unto Christ, then ye will find an admirable change in you, a new Spirit without guile, a new judgment, new desires, new affections, love, hatred, sorrow, joy; new senses, eyes, smelling, ears, taste, feeling. Use. Now find ye these, or any of these marks really in you, then doubt no more, misbelieve no more, all is sure, ye are come unto Christ, and seeing ye are come unto him, press ay for more and more of his likeness, for a progress in sanctification. Remember, I John ii. 6. 'He that faith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk even as be walked.' And this leads us unto the third thing in the opening up of this point, to wit, To declare who are his people; they, as we were saying, who are righteous, and live righteously. Now these who are righteous, are these who have fled unto Christ, and they indeed live righteously. Yet to make it more clear, we shall in short tell you, who they are who live righteously: These, to wit, in a word, 'Who walk as he walked.' Omnia nos Christi vita docere potest: that is, The life of Christ can teach us all things.

First, They live righteously, beginning all things with God, referring all things to God. Secondly, They do all things by the warrant of the word, contemning their own wills, that they might do the Lord's: 'Not my will, but thy will be done,' they must lose their life, before they lose their obedience. Thirdly, They will be holy, 'Be ye holy, as I am holy,' John iii. 3, 'Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure. Fourthly, They walk fruitfully, they go about doing good; O sad! not only the unfruitful walking of this generation, but even the stumbling that they are. Fifthly, They walk justly, not wronging any: These are they who live righteously, who walk so as Christ walked: O! how few righteous livers are amongst you, and these only are his people, righteous persons, righteous livers, and it is these whom the Lord hath chambers for.

Now Sixthly, We proceed to the rules how to apply these evidence. First, Though you find them not all, yet if ye find one or more of them really, then comfort yourselves. Secondly, if ye find not what formerly ye have found, labour more to renew the same, than to seek a fight of the old. Thirdly, Do not try yourselves in the hour of temptation. Fourthly, When ye find marks and evidences, do not rest upon them, for though ye have them, they may soon be gone. Fifthly, Do not, pursue so much to satisfy your sense for the present, as to have a solid well grounded assurance for the time to come. Sixthly, Be not so desirous to know what ye are, as what ye should do. Spend not your time in questioning your state, as ye do, but use the means of real union and communion with Christ: This is the shortest and surest way. Seventhly, Judge not yourselves by the measure of your graces, but by the sincerity of them. Eightly, Compare not yourselves too much to the saints, but judge yourselves by the word.

Ninthly, When there is a serious wrestling against corruption, tho' not meeting with any sensible victory, yet acst not away your hope. Paul tells you, Rom. vii. How far a child of God may be enslaved by a body of sin.

Tenthly, Remember ye have to do with God in a covenant of grace. Now, what more shall we say? Must we end as we began? Oh! come away, come away to Christ, this Prince of delights, come, and enter into these chambers. Motive, First, Come away and enter, then your condition will be honourable with Christ. Secondly, comfortable. All your debts are paid. Thirdly, Rich. All that Christ hath, grace and goodness is all thine. Fourthly, fruitful. He purgeth his branches. Fifthly, Safe. He takes all his quarrels upon him, your head will ay be above the water. Sixthly, It is the only state of perfection, which is in him, and derived to us. Seventhly, Then all the promises are yours. Eightly, It is a sure state, in this life ye have strength against temptations; 'My grace is sufficient for you. Ninthly, in death assurance. They that sleep in Christ, perish not. Tenthly, in in the day of judgment, boldness: O come away, the chambers are every way pleasant, and every way safe, come away, the indignation shall not over take you.

The Lord is coming down with an universal deluge of wrath upon the generality: Come away, and ye shall be hid. O! he is willing, he is willing, he would not have sent this message to you this day, if he had not been willing: And now, when we are keeping a fast-day unto the Lord, who hath given you this call, pray that he would help you rightly to improve it; I say, O improve it rightly, by your answering of it.

But ye will say, how shall we improve it? Ans. First, Improve it, by seeing that it is only of the Lord's free mercy, that he hath given it. Ezek. xxvi. 22. 'I do not this for your sake, O! house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake.

Secondly, Improve it, by being thereby the more stirred up to your duty, Psalm cxvi. 'Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.' Hath he heard your prayers in this? then be more in prayer, and be more single in prayer, and all other duties than ever heretofore.

Thirdly, Improve it, by loving the Lord himself, who hath granted you it, Psalm cxvi. 'I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and supplication.'

Fourthly, Improve it, by separating yourselves more from the abominations of the time, by making clean hearts and clean hands, Psalm vi 5 'Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, the Lord hath heard the voice of my supplication.'

Fifthly, Improve it, by having a high and becoming esteem of the ordinance, yet keeping in its own room, and not resting upon it, but seeking unto the Lord himself, Amos v. 4. 'Seek ye me, and ye shall live, but seek not to Bethel.'

Sixthly, Improve it, by answering his call therein, and let not the Lord have it to say of you, that after long and many refusals, 'Yet I came and stretched forth my wings, and would have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens, but ye would not.' O! let him not have that to say; 'Come away, come away, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you, and hide yourselves as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.'


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.