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SERM. his creatures, so he is an implacable enemy to us as LXIX.
impenitent rebels and apostates from our duty. The Psal. xi. 5. wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth. Hab. i. 13. As he is infinitely benign, so he is also perfectly holy, Psal. v. 435. and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. He is
not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with him. The foolish shall not
stand in his sight; he hateth all workers of iniPsal. xxxiv. quity. His face is against them that do evil.
Finally, as God is gracious to all such as are capable of his love, and qualified for his mercy; so he is an impartial and upright Judge, who will deal with men according to their deserts, according to the tenor of his laws and ordinances; according to his immutable decree and word : so that as we have great reason to trust and hope in him, so we have no true ground to presume upon him, vainly to trifle, or insolently to dally with him.
But I leave this point to be further improved by your meditations.
Grant we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may through thy grace be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
NO RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH GOD.
Rom. ii. 11.
For there is no respect of persons with God. It is an ordinary conceit, grounded on a superficial SERM. view of things, that Almighty God dispenseth his LXX. gifts with great inequality, and dealeth very partially with men; being lavish in his bounty to some, but : sparing therein to others; slack and indulgent in calling some to account, but rigorous and severe in judgment toward others.
Which imagination often hath influence upon the affections and the actions of men; so that hence some men do highly presume, others are much discouraged : some are apt to boast themselves special Ps. Isxiii.6. darlings and favourites of Heaven; others are tempted to complain of their being quite deserted, or neglected thereby.
But whoever more carefully will observe things, and weigh them with good consideration, shall find this to be a great mistake; and that in truth God distributeth his favours with very equal measures : he poiseth the scales of justice with a most even hand; so that reasonably no man should be exalted, Job xxxi. 6. no man should be dejected in mind, upon account of
SERM. cuted the prophets sent unto them with messages of LXIX.
kind warning and overtures of grace; so obstructMatt. xxiii. ing all access of mercy to themselves : They say to Ezek. xviii. the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy
not unto us right things: so Isaiah reports their Acts vii. 52. proceeding. Which of the prophets did not your
fathers persecute? so St. Stephen expostulates with Isa. i. 16, them. Neither were gentler chastisements designed (Neb. ix. for their correction and cure anywise available ; 29.)
they made no impression on them, they produced Jer. ii. 30. no change in them: In vain, saith God, I have
smitten your children, they have received no corJer. v. 3. rection. And, Thou hast smitten them, but they
have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction ; they have
made their faces harder than a rock, they have Isa. ix. 13. refused to return. And, The people turneth not
to him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Rom. ix. Lord of Hosts. Unto this Kataptiouós eis anúdelov,
this perfect fitness, (as St. Paul speaketh,) this maturity of desperate and irrecoverable impiety, had that people grown, not at once, and on a sudden, but by continual steps of provocation, through a long course of time, during that divine patience sparing them, and by various expedients striving to recover them. This consideration is frequently in
sisted upon, especially in the prophet Jeremiah : Jer. xxxii. The children of Israel and the children of Juxvi. 12. si. dah have only done evil before me from their Ezra ix. 7. youth: Since the day that your fathers came forth
out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early, and sending them; yet they hearkened not unto me, &c. Well then, after so
many hundred years of abused patience, and unsuc- SERM. cessful labour to reclaim them, it was needful that justice should have her course upon them : yet how then did God inflict it, with what mildness and moderation, with what pity and relenting? Never- Neb. ix. 31. theless, say they in Nehemiah, for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God. And, Thou hast punished us less than Ezra ix.13. our iniquities deserve, doth Ezra confess. I will Hos. xi. 9. not execute the fierceness of my anger, doth God himself resolve and declare in Hosea. So mild he was as to the measure of his punishing; and what compassion accompanied it those pathetical expressions declare: My heart is turned within me, my Hos. xi. 8. repentings are kindled together. Is Ephraim my Jer. xxxi. dear son ? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore my bowels are troubled for him. In all their afflictions he was afflicted, &c. We Isa. Ixiii. 9. may add, that notwithstanding all these provocations of his wrath, and abusings of his patience, which thus necessitated God to execute his vengeance; yet even during the execution thereof, and while his hand was so stretched forth against them, he did retain thoughts of favour, and intentions of doing good, even toward this so ingrateful, so insensible, so incorrigible a people: For a small moment, Isa. liv. 7. saith God, have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee: I know the thoughts Jer. xxix.
11. xxxiii. that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts 6,7. of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Now these things being seriously laid together, have we not occasion and ground sufficient
SERM. even in this instance, no less to admire and adore LXIX. the wonderful benignity, mercy, and patience of
God, than to dread and tremble at his justice ?
V. As for the last so calamitous and piteous destruction of Jerusalem, with the grievous consequences thereof, as we might apply thereto the former considerations, so we shall only observe what was peculiar in that case; that God dispensed such means to prevent it, (to remove the meritorious causes thereof, obstinate impenitency and incredulity; resisting the truth by him sent from heaven with so clear a revelation and powerful confirmation; despising the Spirit of God, and the dictates of their own conscience; basely misusing divers ways, and at last cruelly murdering the Son of God ;) such means, I
say, God did employ for the removing those provoMatt. xi. catives of vengeance, which, as our Lord himself
saith, were sufficient to have converted Tyre and Sidon; yea, to have preserved Sodom itself; so that our Saviour could with a compassionate grief deplore the unsuccessfulness of his tender affection,
and solicitous care for their welfare, in these pasMatt. xxiii. sionate terms: How often would I have gathered
thy children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wing, but ye would not! That St. John the Baptist's sharp reproofs, his powerful exhortations,
his downright and clear forewarnings of what would Matt. iii. follow, (Even now, said he, the axe is laid to the
root of the tree,) attended with so remarkable circumstances of his person and his carriage, (which induced all the world about him to regard him as no ordinary man, but a special instrument of God and messenger from heaven,) did yet find no effect considerable: the Pharisees and lawyers, those cor