« PreviousContinue »
alone should languish and become barren, as an excellent die vine + [peaks very pertinently. Take care you put not that last, which should be first; and that, again, first, which should be laft. Measures fo pernicioufly preposterous will be fatal to the whole work of conversion. A head well inftructed, is much to be defired; but a fanctified heart is absolutely neceffary. “ Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet shew I unto you a more « excellent way," 1 Cor. xii
. 31. For gifts, let them increase; but grace, let it outshine them all. Let these words of the great apostle take deep root in your hearts, 1 Cor. ix. 27. “ But « I keep under my body, and bring it into fubjection, left that " by any means, when I have preached unto others, I myself “ should be a caft-away.” For what will it profit, to be learned and damned ? It is one thing to be learned in the truths of Christ, another to be taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.
Continually bear in mind this serious warning of our learned countryman Reynolds I, Let us not think much of ourselves, though God Thould have adorned us with the finest gifts.of nature, with a lively genius, with an elegant diction, much reading, long experience of things, skill in the arts, languages and sciences, folidity of judgment, quickness of understanding, almost like that of angels, unlefs at the same time he add to all, the gift of his Spirit to help us to know and delight in the heavenly mystery. For though by the exercise of those shining accomplishments, we may procure to ourselves the favour and esteem of men, though from thence great advantage may redound to the learned world, and to the church of Christ, yet do they not at all tend to obtain for us either the favour of God, or the reward of heavenly happiness. May God give you ministerial and fanctifying gifts, that you may approve yourselves to be defenders of Christ and his religion, and firm opposers of his enemies.
But it is time to close this unpolished and homely letter, which, however, I hope you will favourably accept as a testimony of that respect due to you from
Your fellow-fervant in
the gospel of Chrift,
JOHN F L A V E L.
of S, Ford. Ambitio fac.
I Animalis homo,
To the RÈ A D E R.
HE worthy author of the discourse emitted herewith, is
one whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the chur ches. His other books have made his name precious and famous in both Englands. Nor can my testimony add any thing to one every way greater than myself. Nevertheless, a singuIar providence having cast my lot to be at present in this great city; I could not withstand the importunity of them, who defired a few Prefatory lines to manifest the respect I owe to this renowned and learned man.
It was a wise reproof which a grave divine administred to a young preacher, who entertained his auditory with an elaborate discourse: after he had commended his parts and pains, there was (said he) one thing wanting in the sermon; I could not perceive that the Spirit of God was in it. And though morality is good, and necessary to be taught and practised, yet it is much to be lamented, that many preachers in these days have hardly any other discourses in their pulpits than what we find in Seneca, Epictetus, Plutarch, or some such heathen moralift. Christ, the holy Spirit, and (in a word) the gospel is not in their sermons. But blessed be God, that there are some (and great is their company in this land of light) who preach the truth as it is in Jesus : and he who has taken the book out of the right hand of him that fits on the throne, and is worthy to open the seals thereof, has been pleased in wonderful ways to fet open, and keep open à door of liberty to the gospel, that they, unto whom he has given a heart to preach Christ, may do it. This is the Lord's doing ; this is a Spirit of life from God. When Cyrus proclaimed liberty for the free exerciso of religion, the Lord's servants, who for some years had lain dead, were brought out of their graves, Ezek. xxxvii. 12, 13.
This treatise is a word in feason: God has made the author to be a wise master-builder in his house, and according to the wisdom given him of God, he has enlarged on a gospel subject very proper to be insisted on at fuch a day as this. I am informed by unquestionable hands, that there was a remarkable pouring out of the Spirit when these sermons were viva voce delivered, a great number of fouls having been brought home to Christ thereby. The Lord grant that the second preaching of them to far greater multitudes, by this way of the press, may, by VOL. IV.
the same Spirit, be made abundantly successful for the conter: fion and falvation of God's elect. The fruit brought forth by the holy apostles in respect of the writings of some (as well as the doctrine preached by all) of them, does still remain. The fruitful labours of this faithful servant of Christ will promote the glory of God, and the good of fouls, when he himself shall cease from his labours, and his works shall follow him. Let the Lord's people be thankful to him for that he has fent such a labourer into the harvest, and pray that he may be con. tinued long therein, and that many such (for there are but few such) may be raised up, and be made eminently successful in their holy endeavours, to the enlargement of the kingdom of Chrift, and of God; and let him reign in this land for ever and ever, which is the heart's desire and prayer of one who is
Less than the least of all saints,
Rev. ii 20. [Behold] I fand at the door, and knock, if any
man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to hirin and fup with him, and he with me.
to us a door of liberty ; liberty to us to preach, and liber
you to hear the glad tidings of the gospel. This is a day few looked for: how often have I said in the years that are party God hath no more work for me to do, and I shall have no more strength and opportunities to work for God? And how often have you said in your hearts, we have finned our ministers out of their pulpit's, and our eyes shall no more behold those our teachers ? But lo, beyond the thoughts of most hearts, a wide and (I hope) an effectual door is now opened in the midst of us. Oh! that it might be to us as the valley of Achor was to Israel, for a door of hupė, Hof. ii. 15. (i. e.) not only mak. ing the troubles they meet with in that valley an inlet to their mercies, as ours have been to us ; but giving them that valley pignoris nomine, as a pledge of greater mercies intended for thein.' Upon the first appearance of this mercy, my next thoughts were how to make the most fruitful improvement of
it amongst you, lest we should twice stumble at the same stone, and sịn ourselves back again into our old bondage.
In the contemplation of this matter, the Lord directed me to this fcripture, wherein the same hand that opened to you the door of liberty, knocks inportunately at the doors of your hearts for entrance into them, for union and communion with them. It will be fad indeed if he that hath let you into all these mercies, should himself be shut out of your hearts : but if the Lord should help you to open your hearts now to Christ, I doubt not but this door of liberty will be kept open to you, how many soever the adversaries be that envy it, and will do their utmost to shut it up, Ezek. xxxix. 29. The mercies you enjoy this day, are the fruits of Christ's intercession with the Father for one trial more : if we bring forth fruit, well; if not, the ax lieth at the root of the tree. Under this consideration I desire to preach, and even so the Lord help you to hear what shall be fpoken from this precious fcripture, Bebold I stand at the door and knock, &c.
These words are a branch of that excellent epistle dictated by Christ, and sent by his fervant John to the church of Laodicea, the moft formal, hypocritical and degenerate of all the sea ven churches ; yet the great Physician will try his skill upon them, both by, the rebukes of the rod, verse 19. and by the persuasive power of the word; verse 20. Behold I stand at the door and knock, &c.
This text is Christ's wooing voice, full of heavenly rhetoric to win and gain the hearts of finners to himself; wherein we have these two general parts.
1. Christ's fuit for a finner's heart.
First, Christ's fuit for a sinner's heart, wherein we have (1/4), The folemn preface, uthering it in, behold: (2.) The suit itself. The preface is exceeding folemn: for beside the common use of this word behold, in other places, to excite attention, or exaggerate and put weight into an affirmation ; it stands here, as a judicious expositor + notes, as a term of notification or public record, wherein Christ takes witness of the most gracious offer he was now about to make to their fouls, and will have it stand in perpetuam rei memoriam, as a testimony for or against their fouls to all eternity, to cut off all excuses, and pretences for time to come. 2. The suit itself, wherein we have,
+ Dorham on the place.
1. The Suitor, Jesus Christ. 2. His posture and action; I stand at the door and knock. 3. The fuit itself, which is for opening, if any man open.
1. The suitor, Christ himself, I stand; I that have a right of sovereignty over you ; I that have fed my invaluable blood to purchase you, and might justly condem you, upon the first denial or demur; behold I sand: this is the suitor,
2. His posture and action, I stand at the door, and knock; the word is in the preter tense, I have stood, but being here joined with another verb of the present tense, it is fitly translated, I ftand, yet so as that it notes a continued action. I have stood, and do still ftand with unwearied patience; I once stood personally and bodily among you in the days of my flesh, and I still stand spiritually and representatively in my ambasadors at the door, (i. e.) the mind and conscience, the faculties and powers which are introductive into the whole foul.
The word door is here properly put to signify those introduc· tive faculties of the soul, which are of a like use to it, as the door is to the house. This is the Redeemet's pofture, his action is knocking, (i.e.) his * powerful effay, and gracious attempts to open the heart to give him admission. The word knock signifies a strong and powerful knock; he stands patiently, and knocks powerfully by the word outwardly, by the convictions, motions, impulses, strivings, and instigations of his Spirit inwardly.
3. The delign and end of the suit, it is for opening, (i. e.) confenting, receiving, embracing, and hearty accepting of him by faith. Acts xvi. 14. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, (i.e.) persuaded her soul to believe ; implying, that the heart by nature is strongly barred and locked up against Chrift; and that nothing but a power from him can open it.
Secondly, The powerful arguments and motives' used by Christ to obtain his fuit, and get a grant from the finner's heart and they are drawn from two inestimable benefits acçruing tg the opening or believing soul, viz.
2. Communion with Christ, 1. Union ; I will come unto him, that is, I will unite myself with the opening believing soul; he shall be mystically one with me, and I with him,
2. Communion ; I will sup with him, and he with me ; that is, I will feast the believing foul with the delicates of heaven ;
Esra Kpxw a xspees cornu, do fic dit respear, & per fyncopen upeita