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foreheads. Rev. xiv. In chap. xvi. the vial of the wrath of God is poured out upon the beast and the throne of the beast; but those angels who do pour out those vials mentioned in chap. xvi., come out of the temple, chap. xv.; indeed it is said, chap. xv. 8, that the temple shall be filled with smoke, and that none shall be able to enter into it; but it is with the smoke of God's glory, the sign of his presence in the temple : and though through the wickedness of the times no man shall be able to enter, that is, no considerable company shall be added to the churches of Christ then; yet this proves that there shall be a temple, for can the temple be filled with the smoke of God's glory, and yet no temple; or doth this argue that you have no house, because it is said, that no man could get in? this proves rather that you
have an house; so here. And if antichrist, the man of sin, shall sit in the house of God, or rather upon the house of God, as Austin translates it, in regard of his tyranny; then there shall be a temple, and public worship, even under the most tyrannical oppressions of antichrist. Why therefore should any poor soul be deceived and say, There are no ordinances now? Surely the ordinances and appointments of Christ, this great Prophet, are and do still continue, wherein we are to hearken to him.
But in all this discourse you proceed in a way of reason, and these things are not to be beaten out or attained to by reason; no not by Scripture reason, but as God shall reveal them to us by his Spirit. If God do shine upon my soul, and reveal the necessity of ordinances to me, then I shall use them, else not. Sometimes, therefore, I do attend upon ordinances, sometimes I do not; I can use them, and I can forbear, or not use them ; even as the Spirit doth reveal things, so do I.
But if any thing seem to be revealed which is contrary to the Scripture, there is no revelation of the Spirit, for saith our Saviour, “ The Spirit shall take of mine, and shall shew it to you,” John xvi. 14; and ver. 13, “ He shall lead you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself,” &c. And saith the Lord, “ I will put my Spirit into you, that ye may keep my statutes and ordinances,” Ezek. xi. Whatever therefore is revealed contrary to the word, is not of the Spirit. Now it is contrary to the word, as hath been proved, that we
should cast off or neglect ordinances; and therefore there can be no revelation of the Spirit for this: a delusion there may be, but no true revelation. Besides, our Lord and Saviour Christ hath su ordered things in the gospel, that if a man err, or be a heretic, he may be convinced.
“ A bishop, (or elder,) must be unreprovable,” i Tit. vii. 9. “Holding fast that faithful word according to doctrine, that he also may be able to exhort with wholesome doctrine, and convince them that say against it.” But how can any man be convinced but in a way of Scripture reason, the Spirit of the Lord joining therewith? If this were the way of Christ, that a man should say, I have a revelation for what I hold, the Spirit hath revealed it to me, and there is no more Scripture reasoning to be admitted about it; how should a man be convinced any more? But I say, Christ hath so ordered, that men should be convinced in case they err, and be out of the way; and therefore flying from Scripture reasonings to a way of mere revelation, cannot be right. And whereas you say, that
you can use the ordinances, and you can forbear or not use them ; this doth not heal the wound, but makes it greater: for if you can forbear the ordinances, or not use them, then you think there is no commandment upon you to use them, and so, as to yourself, you have cast them off; and if yet you do use them, when you think there is no commandment for the use of them, then are you superstitious, for what is superstition, but to worship God without a commandment ? Superstitio quasi super statutum : superstition is that worship which is without God's commandment.
But suppose all this be true, what is the danger of renouncing or forsaking the ordinances then? We grant now after all this, that the ordinances of Christ are still to continue; we have seen it proved, and objections are answered: but is there any danger in renouncing and forsaking of them?
Yes, and much danger too : let me lay before you the mind of God herein ; only first I distinguish, there is a difference between those that forsake the ordinances, as being under a temptation, and those that are not under a temptation. Possibly a good man may be tempted to it, and may lie under this temptation; for there is no sin that I know of, but a godly man may be tempted to it: possibly therefore, I say, a godly and a good man may be tempted to this, and may for a time lie under this temptation. But now if a man not under a temptation shall forsake ordinances, when he hath tasted of the sweetness of them, and turn his back upon this great Prophet, the Lord Jesus, not submitting unto his appointments, see what the Scripture saith of him in this chapter : saith the Lord, “ I will require it at his hand.” And in Exod. xxiii. 20, 21, “ Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared; (this is Christ) beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.” And you know what the apostle saith, “ If any man sin wilfully after he hath received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin,” Heb. x. 26. Which speech, which dreadful speech, relates unto those that cast off the ordinances of Christ, after they have tasted of the sweetness of them; for
o the word is brought in with a for, “ For if we sin wilfully." What doth he then speak in relation to ? Read the words before: “ Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is : for if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,” &c. It comes in as relating to this matter; so that if men not under à temptation, shall wilfully throw up the ordinances of Christ, after they have tasted the sweetness of them, and of the ways of God by them, the Lord pronounceth this doom upon them. And if ye look into Heb. vi., ye shall find, that the apostle speaking concerning those that had left their principles, saith, that “it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.” Ye read at verse 6, “ If they shall fall away . . to renew them again unto repentance.” But in the Greek and original, the word if is not, but it runs as the other words before do, thus: “For it is impossible (verse 4) for men having once been enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and having been made partaker of the Holy Ghost, and having tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, and having fallen away," not with an if; and having “fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.” Who are these that he speaks of? Pray mark ver. 1, " Therefore leaving the principles of
? the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment: for it is impossible.” This same word for, shews that it relates unto those that he speaks of before, that had lost these principles. “ For,” saith he, it comes in as a reason, “For it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.” If once they come to this pass, that they shall lose their principles, and deny the doctrines that are fundamental; the doctrines of the resurrection, and of eternal judgment, and the fundamental doctrine of ordinances; if they shall fall from these, and let go their principles, and not under a temptation, it is impossible, or very unlikely, utterly unlikely in a way of reason, that ever those souls should be renewed again; yet if we look into Matt. xxiv., ye shall find that such as these there shall be in the latter times, the times immediately before the coming of Christ: for saith our Sa. viour, “ There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” How shall we know them, how are they characterized? why, they shall say of Christ, ver. 26, “ Behold he is in the desert, behold he is in the secret chamber;" gone from the public ordinances, they are low and flesh; but, saith our Saviour, “ Believe them not;" yet, Lord, how many do believe them.
But oh, what a sad condition are these poor creatures in ; they may pretend living upon God immediately, but oh, what a sad condition are these
souls in! I hope better things of you,
of you, though I thus speak; yet I must here exhort you to keep close unto your principles, and to the appointments of the Lord Jesus this great Prophet. And I do exhort you, by the sweat of all your ministers, dead and living : by the love you bear to the precious name of God: by the love you bear to your own precious souls; hold and keep close to ordinances in these declining times; see where they are in purity and power, keep close to them. I am persuaded, that there is never a one of you, but would be a friend to Christ; says Christ, “ Then are ye my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.” And can my heart tell me, that I am a friend to Christ if I cast off all his appointments, and all his ordinances ? I am persuaded there is none of you, but desire to be the children
of God, “Wisdom is justified of her children;" Christ is the Wisdom of the Father; and if you be the children of Wisdom, you will justify Christ in all his appointments, but if Christ the Wisdom of the Father, shall give you such institutions and ordinances, and you cast them off, and say, They are low and fleshly, and the like: oh, how will you justify Christ the Wisdom of the Father? Wherefore I say, you that are professors, hold your hold in these declining times; and if you know any of your friends that are departed from the good ordinances of God, oh, stand and mourn, and lament over them and say, Alas, alas, my friend, how is his crown fallen from his head? have a neighbour that hath a monster born instead of a child, you will lament over your neighbour and say, My neighbour instead of a sweet child hath an ugly monster, with the head of a hog, and the ears of an ass; ah, my poor neighbour hath a monster born in his family. Why, this non-ordinance is England's monster; and as people carry monsters up and down to shew them; so in other countries they go up and down, and say, Come and behold the English monster; a thing never seen before, that professors should deny ordinances. And yet, good Lord, how many families in this kingdom hath this monster born there. Ah, will you not pray, weep, and lament over the families of your friends ? Christian, hold thy hold, in these sad and declining times, hold thy hold.
But what shall we do then? These are deceiving and declining times, and there is nothing so dangerous, but by steps we may be drawn into it; what shall we do, that in these times we may be kept close to ordinances; that we may never turn our backs
upon this great Prophet the Lord Jesus Christ, but receive, acknowledge, submit unto his appointments, and therein hearken unto him?
Ye know that there is a concatenation, a linking together of ordinances, and dispensations: as of sins and of graces, so of ordinances and dispensations; take away one link, and the whole chain is broken; open but one gap in the hedge, and a way is made unto all the beasts. Austin writing upon John, tells us a story of a certain man, that was of an opinion, that the devil did make the fly, that God did not make a fly, but the devil did make a fly; saith one to him then,