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evil days; do not you be distractingly careful what will become of you in fuch times; you cannot fee how it is poffible for you to escape; but, 2 Pet. ii. 4, 5, 6., the Lord knows how to deliver when you do not. Little did Lot know the way and manner of his prefervation, till God opened it to him; nor Noah, till God contrived it for him: there was no way to be contrived by them for escape: he that knew how to deliver them, can deliver you also.
Leave yourselves to God's difpofe, it shall certainly be to your advantage; the church is his peculiar care; Ifa. xxviii, 3. I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment; left "any hurt it, I will keep it night and day."
The more you commit yourselves to his care, the more you engage it, Ifa. xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, "whofe mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." He will certainly find a place of fafety for his people under, or in heaven.
Neither be too much dejected when the number of visible profeffors feems but fmall; think not the church will perish when it is brought fo low. This was Elijah's cafe, he thought he had been left alone, that religion had been preserved in his fingle perfon, as the phoenix of the world; but fee, 1 Kings xix. 18. God hath enough left, if we were all in our graves, to continue religion in the world; it concerns him more than you to look to that.
CHA P. V.
Evincing the fourth propofition, viz. That God ufually premi nifheth the world, efpecially his own people, of his judg ments before they befal them.
OD first warns, and then fmites, he delights not to furprize men; when indignation was coming, he tells his people of it in the text, and admonisheth them to hide themselves. "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he "revealeth his fecrets to his fervants the prophets," Amos iii. 7. Thus when the flood was to come upon the old world, he gave them 120 years warning of it, Gen. vi. 3. compared with 1 Pet. iii. 19. So when Sodom was to be destroyed, God would not hide it from Abraham; Gen. xviii. 17. "Shall I hide from "Abraham the thing that I do?" The like difcovery was made upto Lot, Gen. xix. 12, 13, 14. So when the captivity was at
hand, Ezekiel was commanded to give the Jews folemn warn ing of it from God, Ezek. iii. 17. "Hear the word at my "mouth, and give them warning from me."
And when their city and temple were to be destroyed by the Romans, how plainly did Chrift foretel them of it by his own mouth! Luke xix. 43, 44. "Thine enemies shall cast a trench "about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on "every fide, and lay thee even with the ground, and thy chil"dren within thee, and they fhall not leave in thee one stone 66 upon another; because thou knoweft not the time of thy "visitation." Jofephus * also tells us, that a little before the execution of this judgment upon them, a voice was heard in the temple, Migremus hinc, i. e. Let us go hence; which voice Tacitus also in his annals, mentions, Audita major humana vox, excedere Deos, fimul ingens motus excedentium. It was more than a human voice, telling them God was departing from them, and withal there was heard the rushing noise, as of fome that were going out of the temple.
And as there were extraordinary premonitions of approaching judgments, by revelation to the prophets of old, and figns from heaven, fo there still are standing and ordinary rules by which the world may be admonished of God's judgments before they come upon them.
And the general rule, by which men may difcern the indig nation of God before it comes, is this:
* When the fame provocations and evils are found in one nation, which have brought down the wrath of God upon another nation; this is an evident fign of God's judgment at the door. For God is unchangeably holy and juft, and will not favour that in one people, which he hath punished in another; nor bless that in one age, which he hath curfed in another. And therefore that which hath been a fign of judgment to one, must be so to all.
Here it is that the carcafes of thofe fioners, whofe fins had Caft them away, are, as it were caft upon the fcripture shore, for a warning to all others that they steer not the fame ill courfe they did, I Cor. x. 9. "Now these things were our examples." The Ifraelites are made examples to us, plainly intimating, that if we tread the fame path, we must expect the fame punishment. Let us therefore confider what were the evils that provoked God's judgments against his ancient people, whom he was fo loath to
Jofeph. de Bell. Jud, lib. vii, cap. 2. Tacit. Annai. lib. xxi.
give up, Hof. xi. 8. and fo long ere he did give up, Jer. xv. 9. and we fhall find, by the concurrent accounts that the prophets give,
1. That God's worship among them was generally mixed and corrupted with their own inventions; for fo it is said, Pfal. cvi. 40, 41: "They went a-whoring with their own inventions." And this fo inflamed the wrath of God, who is a jealous God, and tender over his own honour, that he abhorred his own inheritance; yea, he expreffes himself, as a man doth, whose heart is broken by the unfaithfulness of his wife, Ezek. vi. 9. Upon this account his profeffing people became the generation of his wrath, Jer. vii. 29, 30.
2. Incorrigiole obftinacy under gentler correction, Amos iv, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Scarcity, mildews, peftilence, and fword, had been upon them; and still thofe that remained, though faved as a brand out of the fire, in which their fellow-finners perithed, would not return to God; and this haftened on the general ruin, ver. 12. This prefages the ruin of nations indeed,
3. Stupidity and fenfeleffness of God's hand was a fad omen, and caufe of that peoples ruin; fo Ifa. xxvi. 10, 11. “ Lord, "when thy hand is lifted up, they will not fee." No nor yet when his hand is laid on, Ifa. xlii. 24, 25. It is not fome small drop of God's anger, that paffes, without obfervation, but the fury of his anger; not fome light fkirmish of his judgments with them, but the ftrength of battle: not in a corner upon fome particular perfon, or family, but that which fet him on fire round about; yet all this could not awaken them. "He hath pour"ed upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle, and it hath fet him on fire round about, yet he knew it not, and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart." Prodigious ftupidity! to be in the midst of flames, yea, to be feized by them, and deftroyed fooner than awakened. So you find again in Hof. vii. 9. "Gray hairs were here and there upon Ephraim, yet he "knew it not." Youth and age are cafily diftinguifhed, and gray hairs do plainly distinguish them, being the plain tokens of a declining state, yet they took no notice of them. Such stupidity is evermore the forerunner of mifery.
4. Perfecution of God's faithful ministers and people, was another forerunning fign of their ruin, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16, "They mocked the meffengers of God, and defpifed his words, "and mifufed his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arofe
against his people, till there was no remedy." There were alfo a number of upright fouls among them, that defired to worship God according to his own prefcription, but a foare was
laid for them in Mizpah, and a net fpread upon Tabor; and therefore was judgment towards that people, Hof. v. 1. Mizpah and Tabor were places in the way lying betwixt Samaria and Jerufalem, where the true worship of God was, and there was informers or fpies fet by the priefts to intercept fuch as would venture to ferve God at Jerufalem, according to his own prescription; this alfo foreboded the judgments of God upon that
5. The decay of the life and power of godliness among them, plainly forefhewed their ruin at hand, Hof. iv. 18. Their drink is four, where, under the metaphor of dead and four drink, which hath loft its fpirit, and is become flat; their formal, heartlefs, and perfunctory duties are feverely taxed and condemped.
6. To conclude, the mutual animofities, and feuds, among that profeffing people, evidently thewed judgment to be at the door. Hof. ix. 7. "The days of vifitation are come, the days of "recompenfe are come, Ifrael fhall know it; the prophet is a "fool, the fpiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity; and the great hatred." This great hatred was one of the greatest fins, and faddeft figns upon them. This fpirit of enmity fowed by the devil among them, haftened their calamity. If Ephraim will envy Judah, and Judah vex Ephraim, the common enemy fhall part the fray: when the whole nation was under water, and the Roman armies under the very walls of Jerufalem, their own hiftorians tell us, what bitter contentions and fharp conflicts continued among them to the very laft, these things must be looked upon by all wife and confiderate men, no otherwise than we look upon glaring meteors, and blazing comets portending judgment and ruin at the door. We have had indeed terrible figns in heaven, a dreadful rod of God fhaken over us of late, which all men ought to behold with trembling; yet I muft fay those moral figns of judgments forementioned, are much more terrible and portentous. According therefore to the evidence of thefe figns among us, let all upright hearts be affected and awakened with expectations of God's righteous judgments. It is indeed below faith to expect evil days with defpondency and distraction; but furely it is a noble exercife of faith, fo to expect them, as to make due preparation for them.
Section. 2. And if we enquire for what end God gives fuch warning to the world, and premonishes them from heaven of the judgments that are coming on the earth, know that he doth upon a threefold account.
1. To prevent their execution.
2. To leave the careless inexcusable.
3. To make them more tolerable and eafy to his own people. 1. Warning is given with a defign to prevent the execution of judgments; this is plain from Amos iv. 12. "Therefore will I "do this unto thee;" there is warning given; " and because I "will do this, prepare to meet thy God, O Ifrael:" there is the gracious defign of preventing it, by bringing them feasonably upon their knees at the foot of an angry God: you fee the Lord expects it from all his children, that they fall at his feet in deep humiliation, and fervent interceffion, whenever he goes forth in the way of judgment. What elfe was the design of God in fending Jonah to Nineveh with that dreadful meffage, but to excite them to repentance, and prevent their ruin? This Jonah gueffed at, and therefore declined the meffage, to fecure his credit, well knowing, that if they took warning and repented, the gracious nature of God would foon melt into compaffion over them: free grace would make him appear as a liar among the people; for to that fenfe his own words found, Jonah iv. 2. " Was not
this my faying, when I was yet in my country, Therefore I "fled before unto Tarfhish, for I knew that thou art a gracious "God." q. d. I thought before-hand it would come to this; I knew how willing thou art to be prevented by repentance; therefore to secure my credit, I fled to Tarshish.
2. He forewarns of judgments to leave the incorrigible whol ly inexcufable, that thofe who have neither fenfe of fin, nor fear of judgment before, might have no cloak for their folly, nor plea for themselves afterward; "What wilt thou fay when he shall " punish thee?" Jer. xiii. 21, 22. q. d. What plea or apology is left thee, after fo many fair warnings? You cannot fay you were furprized before you were admonished, or ruined before you were warned.
3. God warns of judgments before they come, to make them the more eafy to his people when they come indeed; thus ia John xvi. 4. Chrift foretold his difciples of their approaching fufferings, that when they come, they fhould not be found a mazed at them, or unprovided for them; for unexpected miferies are astonishing to the best men, and deftructive to wicked men, Luke xvii. 26, 27, 28.
Well then, if it be fo, let all that are wife in heart confider the figns of the times, and feasonably hearken to God's warnings." The Lord's voice crieth to the city, and the man of "wisdom fhall feek thy name; hear ye the rod, and who hath "appointed it," Mic. vi. 9. It is our wisdom to way-lay our