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(exactissime) most exactly when to time his people's deliverance. May this wonderful work of Providence never be forgotten in England!
How much of the Jesuits' infernal craft and policy there is in the principles of the people called Quakers to forward England's overthrow, it would be worth while for all true Protestants and true Englishmen, who love their country and the Protestant religion, to consider.
Fifthly, That the most dismal dispensations which fall out in the world shall be all managed by the providence of Christ for the good and advantage of true believers; yea, even sin itself, with the most sharp and bitter afflictions which spring from that bitter root, shall most certainly work for the good and advantage of Christ's true members; according to that in Rom. viii. 28. “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, &c.”
This assertion, that sin itself works for good to believers, hath not only startled, but stirred up some to make a great noise in the kingdom, and that in pretence of opposing and beating down Antinomianism, to withstand and decry this as a dangerous doctrine, and that which encourageth men to commit and continue in the practice of sin.
They who are of this spirit and principle will find, sooner or later, how wide they are of the truth; and how injurious they are, not only to the doctrine which is according to godliness, but to
the peace and comfort of Christ's members, who are able, both from the word of God and their sanctified experience, to contradict this their contradicting God's truth. Concerning which I will only say two things in this place, reserving the vindication of this doctrine to a more seasonable opportunity.
1. I do affirm, in the fear of the great God, that none on earth do more hate and loath sin than those persons who find in their experience that God hath done them unspeakable good by their sins. And herein I shall, I doubt not, be seconded by the suffrage, not only of all orthodox divines, but of all serious and experienced christians.
2. I do affirm, that it no more follows from hence that a true believer will or can take encouragement to commit or continue in the practice of sin, than it follows that he will or can venture to drink down deadly poison, because he is told that an able and skilful physician is, by his art and skill, able to extract from the rankest poison an antidote to expel poison; or that a believer should be willing to throw himself from the top of a house, which he cannot but expect will issue in breaking his bones, because he knows that such or such a bone-setter is skilful at setting bones.
England is come to a sad pass, when the people are grown so wise in their own conceits, tliat they think themselves able to instruct and teach their teachers. The sense thereof endangers the most faithful and lively reprovers for God in this formal
and sleepy age; being struck dumb, not well knowing either what to preach, or how to speak, to their auditory, without snuffing and offending them.
If we press people to the necessary duties of practical holiness, then we are accounted legal preachers; men who preach up Moses, and who are for being justified by works.
If we preach up justification by the alone righteousness of the Son of God, freely imputed by God's act of free and sovereign grace, without any thing of the sinner's own qualifications joined, as con-causes, therewith; then we are accounted Antinomians, we preach free grace, free grace : and who sees not, who has his eyes open, this to be a sad prognostic of God's approaching judgment on the land?
God sometimes causeth the tongue of his faithful reprovers to cleave to the roof of their mouth, that they shall not be able to reprove or warn a rebellious people who are to be plagued with the scourge of God's judgments; as in the case of the prophet Ezekiel: “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the ipof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house,” Ezek. iii. 26. The like instance we have recorded in the
prophet Amos: “ They hate him that reproveth in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.” Here was the sin of that day: they would not bear or endure to be touched by God's reprovers;
and God takes such a way and method with theni, as to cause them to see and read their sin in the punishment which was to come upon them; namely, that when they stood most in need of a faithful monitor or reprover, even then, when the rod of God was heavy upon them, they should not have him. Read and compare Amos v. 10, 13. With this agrees that of Paul to Timothy; where he tells him, “That the time will come wherein men will not endure sound doctrine; but, after their own lusts, will they heap up unto themselves teachers, having itching ears,” 2 Tim. iv. 3. This day is this scripture fulfilled in England: for, by woful experience, the true ambassadors of Christ find that they can reprove no kind of error in religion, but one or other is presently touched, even to a being rootedly prejudiced against the minister. • I'll hear this railing preacher no more; he preaches against other men's religions : and what hath he to do with the Papists, with the Quakers, with the Arminians ? cannot he preach the gospel?' And so, in like manner, if the preacher comes close to particular faults, as the pride in apparel in professors, men's taking a liberty now and then to get drunk, now and then to game, and to spend their precious time in alehouses and taverns, chatting and prating away the time which should be spent at home, in the family, or in the closet, in working out their own salvation with fear and trembling; they cannot bear faithful and plain dealing : ‘I know, saith the guilty conscience, 'he means me;
I like it not. This is harsh preaching, I'll hear it no more; I like such and such better. Such a preacher, he preacheth free grace clearly; and such a minister, he preaches the love of God sweetly:When, perhaps, neither the preacher so highly commended and cried up for a nonsuch, nor yet he that so commends him, understands savingły or experimentally what the grace of God means, or how the same is made the sinner's. It even amazes me to think how few of those preachers, who now pass current for free grace preachers, will be owned by Christ at the great day for right gospel preachers; and how few of those who make so great a noise in crying such up, will be found what they seem to be, viz. true and sound-hearted believers !
This is not designed as a stumbling-block or a discouragement in the way of any weak believer, but rather as a seasonable warning or caution to empty talkers, who think highly of themselves, to take heed they prove not mistaken in their opinion of themselves: “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” i Cor. x. 12.
Sixthly, In the darkest night of affliction and temptation, the sweet smiles of Christ's face will cheer and comfort the true believer.
The pillar of cloud, in Moses's time, was both darkness to the Egyptians, and light to the people of God, Exod. xiv. 19, 20. The same dispensation may be a cross for good to God's child, and a dreadful curse to a reprobate. The knowledge