|« Prev||SECTION IV. Obligations of rulers and others to…||Next »|
The obligations of rulers, ministers, and all sorts to promote this work.
At such a time as this, when God is setting his King on his holy hill of Zion, or establishing his dominion, or showing forth his regal glory from thence, he expects that his visible people, without exception, should openly appear to acknowledge him in such a work, and bow before him, and join with him. But especially does he expect this of civil rulers: God’s eye is especially upon them, to see how they behave themselves on such occasions. When a new king comes to the throne, if he comes from abroad, and enters into his kingdom, and makes his solemn entry into the royal city, it is expected that all sorts should acknowledge him; but above all others is it expected that the great men, and public officers of the nation, should then make their appearance, and attend on their sovereign, with suitable congratulations, and manifestations of respect and loyalty. If such as these stand at a distance at such a time, it will be much more noticed; and will awaken the prince’s jealousy and displeasure much more, than such a behaviour in the common people. And Thus it is, when that eternal Son of God, and heir of the world—by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice, and whom his Father has appointed to be King of kings—comes as it were from far, and in the spiritual tokens of his presence enters into the royal city of Zion. God has his eye at such a time, especially, upon those prices, nobles, and judges of the earth, spoken of, Prov. viii. 16. To see how they behave themselves, whether they bow to him, who is made the head of all principality and power. This is evident by Psal. ii. 6, 7, 10-12. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; the Lord hat said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.—Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” There seems to be in the words an allusion to a new king coming to the throne, and making his solemn entry into they royal city, when it is expected that all, especially men in public office and authority should manifest their loyalty, by some open and visible tokens of respect, by the way, as he passes along; and those that refuse or neglect it, are in danger of being immediately struck down, and perishing from the way, by which the king goes in solemn procession.
The day wherein God, in an eminent manner, sends forth the rod of Christ’s strength out of Zion, that he may rule in the midst of his enemies, the day of his power wherein his people shall be made willing, is also eminently a day of his wrath, especially to such rulers as oppose him, or will not bow to him. It will prove a day wherein 387 he “shall strike through kings, and fill the places with the dead bodies, and wound the heads over many countries,” Psal. cx. And thus it is, that when the Son of God Psalms xlv. 4.“girds his sword upon his thigh, with his glory and his majesty, and in his majesty rides prosperously, because of truth, meekness, and righteousness, his right hand teaches him terrible things.” They were the princes of Succoth especially who suffered punishment, when the inhabitants of that city refused to come to the help of the Lord. When Gideon was pursuing after Zeba and Zalmunna, we read that Gideon took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness, and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. It is especially noticed, that the rulers and chief men of Israel, were called upon to assist in the affair of bringing up the ark of God; they were chiefly consulted, and were principal in the management of the affair, 1 Chron. xiii. 1. “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.” And chap. xv. 25. “So David and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, out of the house of Obed-Edom, with joy.” So 2 Sam. vi. 1. And so it was when the ark was brought into the temple, (1 Kings viii. 1, 3. and 2 Chron. v. 2, 4.)
And as rulers, by neglecting their duty at such a time, will especially expose themselves to God’s great displeasure; so by fully acknowledging God in such a work, and by cheerfully and vigorously exerting themselves to promote it, they will especially be in the way of receiving peculiar honours and rewards at God’s hands. It is noted of the princes of Israel, that they especially appeared to honour God with their princely offering, on occasion of setting up the tabernacle of God in the congregation of Israel. I have observed already that this was done at the time of the feast of tabernacles, and was a type of the tabernacle of God being with men and his dwelling with men in the latter days. And with what abundant particularity is it noted of each prince, how much he offered to God on that occasion, for his everlasting honour, in the 7th chapter of Numbers! And so, with how much favour and honour does the Spirit of God take notice of those princes in Israel, who came to the help of the Lord, in the war against Sisera!Judg. v. 9. “My heart is towards the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people.” And, ( ver. 14.) “Out of Machir came down governors.” ( ver. 15.) “and the princes of Issachar were with Deborah.” And in the account we have of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, Neh. iii. It is particularly noted what a hand one and another of the rulers had in this affair; such a part of the wall was repaired by the ruler of the other half-part of Jerusalem, and such a part by the ruler of part of Beth Hakkerem, and such a part by the ruler of part of Beth Zur; and such a part by the ruler of Mizpah, ver. 9-19. And there it is particularly noted of the rulers of one of the cities, that they put not their necks to the work of the Lord, though the common people did; and they are stigmatized for it in the sacred records, to their everlasting reproach, ( ver. 5.). “And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord.” So the Spirit of God, with special honour, takes notice of princes and rulers of several tribes, who assisted in bringing up the ark, Psal. lxviii. 27.
And I humbly desire it may be considered, whether we have not reason to fear, that God is provoked with this land, because no more notice has been taken of the late glorious work by the civil authority; that no more has been done by them as a public acknowledgment of God in this work, and no more improvement of their authority to promote it. This might have been done, either by appointing a day of public thanksgiving to God for so unspeakable a mercy, or a day of fasting and prayer, to humble ourselves before God for our past deadness and unprofitableness under the means of grace, and to seek the continuance and increase of the tokens of his presence. Can it be pleasing to God, that the civil authority have not so much as entered upon any public consultation, what should be done to advance the present revival of religion, and great reformation that is begun in the land? Is there not danger that such a behaviour, at such a time, will be interpreted by God, as a denial of Christ? If but a new governor comes into a province, how much is there done, especially by those who are in authority, to put honour upon him! They arise, appear publicly, and go forth to meet, to address, and congratulate him, and with great expense to attend and aid him! If the authority, or a refusing to receive and honour him as their governor? And shall the head of the angels, and Lord of the universe, come down from heaven, in so wonderful a manner, into a land; and shall all stand at a distance and be silent and inactive on such an occasion? I would humbly recommend it to our rulers to consider whether God does not now say to them, “Be wise now, ye rulers; be instructed, ye judges of New England: kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.”
It is prophesied, Zech. xii. 8. That, in the glorious day of the Christian church, the house of David, or the rulers in God’s “Israel, shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord, before his people.” But how can such rulers expect to have any share in this glorious promise, who do not so much as openly acknowledge God in the work of that Spirit, by whom the glory of that day is to be accomplished? The days are coming, when the saints shall reign on earth, and all dominion and authority shall be given into their hands; but, if our rulers would partake of this honour, they ought, at such a day as this, to bring their glory and honour into the spiritual Jerusalem, agreeable to Rev. xxi. 24.
But, above all others, is God’s eye upon the ministers of the gospel, as expecting of them, that they should arise, acknowledge, and honour him in such a work as this, and do their utmost to encourage and promote it. For this is the very business to which they are called and devoted; it is the office to which they are appointed, as co-workers with Christ. They are his ambassadors and instruments, to awaken and convert sinners, and establish, build up, and comfort saints; it is the business they have been solemnly charged with, before God, angels, and men, and to which they have given up themselves by the most sacred vows. These especially are the officers of Christ’s kingdom, who, above all other men upon earth, represent his person; into whose hands Christ has committed the sacred oracles, holy ordinances, and all his appointed means of grace, to be administered by them. They are the stewards of his household, into whose hands he has committed to them, as a flock of sheep are committed to the care of a shepherd, or as a master commits a treasure tot he care of a servant, of which he must give an account. It is expected of them, above all others, that they should have understanding of the times, and know what Israel ought to do; for it is their business to acquaint themselves with things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and to teach and enlighten others in the same. We who are employed in the sacred work of the gospel ministry, are the watchmen over the city, to whom God has committed the keys of the gates of Zion; and if, when the rightful King of Zion comes to deliver his people from the enemy that oppresses them, we refuse to open the gates to him, how greatly shall we expose ourselves to his wrath! We are appointed to be the captains of the host in this war; and if a general will highly resent it in a private soldier, if he refuses to follow him when his banner is displayed, and his trumpet blown; how much more will he resent it in the officers of his army! The work of the gospel-ministry, consisting in the administration of God’s word and ordinances, is the principal means that God has appointed for carrying on his work on the souls of men; and it is his revealed will, that whenever that glorious revival of religion, and reformation of the world, so often spoken of in his word, is accomplished, it should be principally by the labours of his ministers. Therefore, how heinous will it be in the sight of God, if, when a work of that nature is begun, we appear unbelieving, slow, backward, and disaffected! There was no sort of persons among the Jews treated with such manifestations of God’s great displeasure, and severe indignation, for not acknowledging 388 Christ, and the work of his Spirit, in the days of Christ and his apostles, as the ministers of religion. See how Christ deals with them for it, Matt. xxiii. With what gentleness did Christ treat publicans and harlots, in comparison of them!
When the tabernacle was erected in the camp of Israel, and God came down from heaven to dwell in it, the priests were above all others concerned, and busily employed in the solemn transactions of that occasion, Lev. viii. and ix. And so it was at the time of the dedication of the temple by Solomon, (1 Kings viii. and 2 Chron. v. vi. and vii.) which was at the time of the feast of tabernacles, the same as when the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness. And the Levites were primarily and most immediately concerned in bringing up the ark into mount Zion; the business properly belonged to them, and the ark was carried upon their shoulders, “Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.” and ( ver. 11, 12.) “And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab, and said unto the, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel, unto the place that I have prepared for it.” So we have an account that the priests led the way in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, after the Babylonish captivity, Neh. iii.
Though ministers preach never so good doctrine, and be never so painful and laborious in their work, yet if they show to their people that they are not well-affected to this work, but are doubtful and suspicious of it, they will be very likely to do their people a great deal more hurt than good. For the very fame of such a great and extraordinary work of God, if their people were suffered to believe it to be his work, and the examples of other towns, together with what preaching they might hear occasionally, would be likely to have a much greater influence upon the minds of their people to awaken and animate them in religion, than all other labours with them. Besides, their ministers’ opinion will not only beget in them a suspicion of the work they hear of abroad, whereby the mighty hand of God that appears in it loses its influence upon their minds; but it will also tend to create a suspicion of every thing of the like nature, that shall appear among themselves, as being something of the same distemper that is become so epidemical in the land. And what is this, in effect, but to create a suspicion of all vital religion, and to put the people upon talking against and discouraging it, wherever it appears, and knocking it on the head as fast as it rises. We, who are ministers, by looking on this work from year to year with a displeased countenance, shall effectually keep the sheep from their pasture, instead of doing the part of shepherds by feeding them; and our people had a great deal better be without any settled minister at all, at such a day as this.
We who are in this sacred office had need to take heed what we do, and how we behave ourselves at this time: a less thing in a minister will hinder the work of God, than in others. If we are very silent, or say but little about the work, in our public prayers and preaching, or seem carefully to avoid speaking of it in our conversation, it will be interpreted by our people, that we, who are their guides, to whom they are to have their eye for spiritual instruction, are suspicious of it; and this will tend to raise the same suspicions in them; and so the formentioned consequences will follow. And if we really hinder and stand in the way of the work of God, whose business above all others it is to promote it, how can we expect to partake of the glorious benefits of it? And, by keeping others from the benefit, we shall keep them out of heaven; therefore those awful words of Christ to the Jewish teachers, should be considered by us, Matt. xxiii. 13. “Woe unto you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven;—for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering, to go in.” If we keep the sheep from their pasture, how shall we answer it to the great Shepherd, who has bought the flock with his precious blood, and has committed the care of them to us? I would humbly desire of every minister that has long remained disaffected to this work, and has had contemptible thoughts of it, to consider whether he has not hitherto been like Michal, without any child, or at least in a great measure barren and unsuccessful in his work: I pray God it may not be a perpetual barrenness, as hers was.
The times of Christ’s remarkably appearing in behalf of his church, to revive religion, and advance his kingdom in the world, are often spoken of in the prophecies of Scripture, as times wherein he will remarkably execute judgements on such ministers or shepherds as do not feed the flock, but hinder their being fed, and so will deliver his flock from them, (Jer. xxiii. throughout, and Ezek. xxxiv. throughout, and Zech. x. 3. and Isa. lvi. 7, 8, 9. , &c.) I observed before, that Christ’s solemn, magnificent entry into Jerusalem, seems to be designed as a representation of his glorious coming into his church, the spiritual Jerusalem; and therefore it is worthy to be noted, to our present purpose, that Christ at that time cast out all them who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; signifying that, when he should come to set up his kingdom on earth, he would cast out those out of his house, who, instead of being faithful ministers, officiated there only for worldly gain. Not that I determine, that all ministers who are suspicious of this work, do so; but I mention these things to show why it is to be expected, that a time of a glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God to revive religion, will be a time of remarkable judgments on those ministers who do not serve the end of their ministry.
The example of the unbelieving lord in Samaria should especially be for the warning of ministers and rulers. At the time when God turned an extreme famine into great plenty, by a wonderful work of his, the king appointed this lord to have the charge of the gate of the city; where he saw the common people, in multitudes, entering with great joy and gladness, laden with provision, to feed and feast their almost famished bodies; but he himself, though he saw it with his eyes, never had one taste of it, but, being weak with famine, sunk down in the crowd, and was trodden to death, as a punishment of God for his not giving credit to that great and wonderful work of God, when sufficiently manifested to him to require his belief.— Ministers are those whom the King of the church has appointed to have the charge of the gate at which his people enter into the kingdom of heaven, there to be entertained and satisfied with an eternal feast, i.e. ministers have the charge of the house of God, which is the gate of heaven.
They should especially take heed of a spirit of envy towards other ministers, whom God is pleased to use for carrying on this work more than they; and that they do not from such a spirit, reproach some preachers who have the true spirit, as though they were influenced by a false spirit—or were bereft of reason, were mad, and proud, false pretenders, and deserved to be put in prison or the stocks, as disturbers of the peace—lest they expose themselves to the curse of Shemaiah the Nehelamite, who envied the prophet Jeremiah, and in this manner reviled him, in his letter to Zephaniah the priest, Jer. xxix. 26, 27. “The Lord hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks. Now therefore, why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you?” His curse is denounced in the 32d ver. “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehemalite, and his seed; he shall not have a man to dwell among his people, saith the Lord, because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord.” All superiors or elders should take heed, that at this day they be not like the elder brother, who could not bear that the prodigal should be sumptuously entertained, and would not join in the joy of the feast. He was like Michal, Saul’s daughter, offended at the music and dancing that he hear; the transports of joy displeased him; it seemed to him to be an unseemly and unseasonable noise; and therefore stood at a distance, 389 sullen, and much offended, and full of invectives against the young prodigal.
It is our wisest and best way, fully, and without reluctance, to bow to the great God in this work, and to be entirely resigned to him, with respect to the manner in which he carries it on, and the instruments he is pleased to use. Let us not show ourselves out of humour, and sullenly refuse to acknowledge the work in its full glory, because we have not had so great a hand in promoting it, or have not shared so largely in its blessings, as some others. Let us not refuse to give all that honour which belongs to others as instruments, because they are young, or are upon other accounts much inferior to ourselves and others; and may appear to us very unworthy that God should put so much honour upon them. When God comes to accomplish any great work for his church, and for the advancement of the kingdom of his Son, he always fulfils that scripture, Isa. ii. 17. “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” If God has a design of carrying on this work, every one, whether he be great of small, must either bow to it, or be broken before it. It may be expected that God’s hand will be upon every thing that is high, and stiff, and strong in opposition; as in Isa. ii. 12-15. “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low; and upon all the cedars of Lebanon , that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall.”
Not only magistrates and ministers, but every living soul, is now obliged to arise and acknowledge God in this work, and put to his hand to promote it, as they would not expose themselves to God’s curse. All sorts of persons throughout the whole congregation of Israel, great and small, rich and poor, men and women, helped to build the tabernacle in the wilderness; some in one way, others in another; each one according to his capacity: every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing; all sorts contributed and all sorts were employed in that affair, in labours of their hands, both men and women. Some brought gold and silver, others blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen; others offered an offering of brass; others, with whom was found shittim-wood, brought it an offering to the Lord; the rulers brought onyx-stones, and spice, and oil; and some brought goats’ hair, some rams’ skins, and others badgers’ skins. (See Exod. xxxv. 20, &c.) And we are told, ver. 29. “The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing.” And thus it ought to be in this day of building the tabernacle of God; with such a willing and cheerful heart ought every man, woman, and child, to something to promote this work; those who have not onyx-stones, or are not able to bring gold or silver, yet may bring goats’ hair.
As all sorts of persons were employed in building the tabernacle in the wilderness, so the whole congregation of Israel were called together to set up the tabernacle in Shiloh, after they came into Canaan, Josh. xviii. 1. And the whole congregation of Israel was gathered together, to bring up the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. Again, they were all assembled to bring it up out of the house of Obed-Edom into mount Zion; so again, all Israel met together to assist in the great affair of the dedication of the temple, and bring the ark into it. So we have and account, how that all sorts assisted in the rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, not only the proper inhabitants of Jerusalem, but those that dwelt in other parts of the land; not only the priests and rulers, but the Nethinims and merchants, husbandmen and mechanics, and even women, Neh. iii. 5, 12, 26, 31, 32. And we have an account of one and another, that he repaired over against his house, ver. 10, 23, 28. And one that repaired over against his chamber, ver. 30. So now, at this time of the rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, every one ought to promote the work of God of Jerusalem, every one ought to promote the work of God within his own sphere, and by doing what belongs to him, in the place in which God has set him. Men in a private capacity may repair over against their houses; and even those that have not the government of families, and have but a part of a house belonging to them, should repair each one over against his chamber. Every one should be engaged to do the utmost that lies in his power, labouring with watchfulness, care, and diligence, with united hearts, and united strength, and the greatest readiness to assist one another in this work; as God’s people rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, who were so diligent in the work, that they wrought from break of day till the stars appeared, and did not so much as put off their clothes in the night. They wrought with great care and watchfulness; with one hand they laboured in the work, and with the other they held a weapon, besides the guard they set to defend them. They were so well united in it, that they appointed one to stand ready with a trumpet in his hand, that, if any were assaulted in one part, those in the other parts, at the sound of the trumpet, might resort to them, and help them. Neh. iv.
Great care should be taken that the press should be improved to no purpose contrary to the interest of this work. We read, that when God fought against Sisera, for the deliverance of his oppressed church, they that handle the pen of the writer came to the help of the Lord in that affair, Judges v. 14. Whatever sort of men in Israel were intended, yet, as the words were indicted by a spirit that had a perfect view of all events to the end of the world, and had a special eve in this song, to that great event of the deliverance of God’s church in the latter days, of which this deliverance of Israel was a type, it is not unlikely that they have respect to authors, who should fight against the kingdom of Satan with their pens. Those therefore that publish pamphlets to the disadvantage of this work, and tend either directly or indirectly to bring it under suspicion, and to discourage or hinder it, would do well thoroughly to consider whether this be not indeed the work of God; and whether, if it be, it is not likely that God will go forth as fire, to consume all that stand in his way; and whether there be not danger that the fire kindled in them will scorch the authors.
When a people oppose Christ in the work of his Holy Spirit, it is because it touches them in something that is dear to their carnal minds, and because they see the tendency of it is to cross their pride, and deprive them of the objects of their lusts. We should take heed that at this day we be not like the Gadarenes, who—when Christ came into their country in the exercise of his glorious power and grace, triumphing over a legion of devils, and delivering a miserable creature that had long been their captive—were all alarmed, because they lost their swine by it; and a whole multitude of the country came, and besought him to depart out of their coasts. They loved their filthy swine better than Jesus Christ; and had rather have a legion of devils in their country with their herd of swine, than Jesus Christ without them.
This work may be opposed in other ways, besides by directly speaking against the whole of it. Persons may say that they believe there is a good work carried on in the country; and may sometimes bless God, in their public prayers, in general terms, for any awakenings or revivals of religion there have lately been in any part of the land; and may pray that God would carry on his own work, and pour out his Spirit more and more; and yet, as I apprehend, be in the sight of God great opposers of his work. Some will express themselves after this manner, who are so far from acknowledging and rejoicing in the infinite mercy and glorious grace of God in causing so happy a change, that they look on the religious state of the country, take it on the whole, much more sorrowful than it was ten years ago; and whose conversation, to those who are well acquainted with them, evidently shows, that they are more out of humour with the state of things, and enjoy themselves less, than they did before ever this work began. If it be manifestly thus with us, and our talk and behaviour with respect to this work be such as has though but an indirect tendency to beget ill thoughts and suspicions in others concerning it, we are opposers of the work of God.
Instead of coming to the help of the Lord, we shall actually fight against him, if we are abundant in insisting 390 on and setting forth the blemishes of the work; so as to manifest that we rather choose and are more forward to take notice of what is amiss, than what is good and glorious in the work. Not but that the errors committed ought to be observed and lamented, and a proper testimony borne against them, and the most probable means should be used to have them amended; but insisting much upon them, as though it were a pleasing theme, or speaking of them with more appearance of heat of spirit, or with ridicule, or an air of contempt, than grief for them, has no tendency to correct the errors; but has a tendency to darken the glory of God’s power and grace appearing in the substance of the work, and to beget jealousies and ill thoughts in the minds of others concerning the whole of it. Whatever errors many zealous persons have ran into, yet if the work, in the substance of it, be the work of God, then it is a joyful day indeed; it is so in heaven, and ought to be so among God’s people on earth, especially in that part of the earth where this glorious work is carried on. It is a day of great rejoicing with Christ himself, the good Shepherd, when he finds his sheep that was lost, lays it on his shoulders rejoicing, and calls together his friends and neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me. If we therefore are Christ’s friends, now it should be a day of great rejoicing with us. If we viewed things in a just light, so great an event as the conversion of such a multitude of sinners, would draw and engage our attention much more than all the imprudences and irregularities that have been; our hearts would be swallowed up with the glory of this event, and we should have no great disposition to attend to any thing else. The imprudences and errors of poor feeble worms do not prevent great rejoicing, in the presence of the angels of God, over so many poor sinners that have repented; and it will be an argument of something very ill in us, if they prevent our rejoicing.
Who loves, in a day of great joy and gladness, to be much insisting on those things that are uncomfortable? Would it not be very improper, on a king’s coronation day, to be much in taking notice of the blemishes of the royal family? Or would it be agreeable to the bridegroom, on the day of his espousals, the day of the gladness of his heart, to be much insisting on the blemishes of his bride? We have an account, how at the time of that joyful dispensation of Providence, the restoration of the church of Israel after the Babylonian captivity, and at the time of the feast of tabernacles, many wept at the faults which were found amongst the people, but were reproved for taking so much notice of the blemishes of that affair, as to overlook the cause of rejoicing. Neh. viii. 9-12. “And Nehemiah which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God, mourn not nor weep: For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto the Lord; neither be you sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy, neither be you grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”
God doubtless now expects, that all sorts of persons in New England, rulers, ministers, and people, high and low, rich and poor, old and young, should take great notice of his hand in this mighty work of his grace, and should appear to acknowledge his glory in it, and greatly to rejoice in it, every one doing his utmost, in the place where God has set them in, to promote it. And God, according to his wonderful patience, seems to be still waiting to give us opportunity thus to acknowledge and honour him. But, if we finally refuse, there is not the least reason to expect any other than that his awful curse will pursue us, and that the pourings out of his wrath will be proportionable to the despised outpourings of his Spirit and grace.
|« Prev||SECTION IV. Obligations of rulers and others to…||Next »|