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He shall be a crown, &c." But first, a word as to the circumstance of time, In that day.

That sovereign Lord, who at first set up the lights of heaven to distinguish times and seasons by their constant motion, and likewise by His supreme providence ruling the world, hath fixed the periods of states and kingdoms, and decreed their revolutions, their rising, ascending, and their height, with their decline and setting, hath by a special providence determined those changes and vicissitudes that befall His Church. That which the Psalmist speaks, in his own particular, Psal. xxxi. 15., holds of each believer, and of the Church which they make up in all ages and places : I said, Thou art my God, my times are in Thy hand. A sure and steady hand indeed, and therefore he builds his confidence upon it, ver. 13. They took counsel against me, but I trusted in thee. And upon this, he prays in faith, that the face of God may shine upon him, and the wicked may be ashamed.

Thus, then, as many of you as are looking after a day of mercy to the Church of God, pray and believe upon this ground, That the time of it is neither in the frail hands of those that favour and seek it, nor in the hands of those that oppose it, how strong and subtle soever they be, but in His almighty hand, who doth in heaven and earth what pleaseth Him. If He have said, Now, and here, will I give a day of refreshment to my people who have long groaned for it, a day of the purity and power of religion ; if, I say, this be His purpose, they must have somewhat more than omnipotence, who can hinder it. When His appointed time comes, to make a day of deliverance dawn upon His Church, after their long night either of affliction or of defection, or both; they who contrive against that day-spring, are as vain as if they would sit down to plot how to hinder the sun from rising in the morning. And they who let go their hopes of it, because of great apparent difficulties that interpose betwixt their eye and the accomplishment of that work, are as weak as if they should imagine, when mists and thick vapours appear about the horizon in the morning,

VOL. III.

I

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that these could hinder the rising of the sun, which is so far
out of their reach, and comes forth as a bridegroom, and re-
joices as a mighty man to run his race, says David. Those
mists may indeed hinder his clear appearance, and keep it from
the
eye

for a time; but reason tells us, even then, that they cannot stop his course. And faith assures us no less in the other case, that no difficulties can hold back God's day and work of mercy to His people. But

But you will say, All the difficulty is, to know whether the appointed time be near or not. It is true, we have no particular prophecies to assure us; but certainly, when God awakes His children and makes them rise, this is a probable sign that it is near day. I mean, when He stirs them up to more than usual hopes, and prayers, and endeavours, it is very likely that He intends them some special good. But yet more, when He Himself is arisen, (as it pleaseth Him to speak,) that is, when He is begun to appear, in a more than ordinary manner of working by singular and wonderful footsteps of providence, this is, no doubt, a sign that He will go on to shew remarkable mercy to Sion, and that the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. Psal. cii. 13.

Howsoever then, let the wonderful workings of the Lord move those of you that have any power and opportunity, to be now (if ever) active for the greatest good both of the present age and of posterity. And you that can be no other way useful, yet, you shall be no small helpers if you be much in prayer ; let both your hopes and your fears, serve to sharpen your prayers. Be not too much dejected with any discouragement, neither be ye carnally lifted up with outward appearances ; for the heart of him that is lifted up, is not upright in him, Hab. ii. 4. ; but live, as the just do, by your faith. And if the deferring of your hopes should sicken your hearts, as Solomon speaks, yet, stay and comfort them with the cordial of the promises. This you are sure of, you have God's own word engaged for it, that in those latter days Babylon shall be brought to the dust, and the true Church of Christ shall flourish and

increase. And this vision is for an appointed time; (as Habakkuk say of his ;) at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not tarry.

In that day.] That is, in the day of Ephraim's or Israel's calamity denounced in the former verses ; which, as most do conceive, was when the Assyrian oppressed them, and in the end led them captive, in the reign of Hosea, as you have the history of it, 2 Kings, xvii., at which time Hezekiah was king of Judah, as you find in the following chapter: and in that notable reformation wrought by him, with those blessings that followed upon it, is found the accomplishment of this promise to Judah, In that day, &c. The parallel of God's different dealing with these two kingdoms at the time there specified, (in that day,) does afford divers lessons, which might be here not impertinently taken notice of. Only this:

Though Judah also had its own corruptions when Hezekiah came to the crown, yet, it pleased the Lord to spare them and work a peaceable reformation, making Israel's punishment their warning. Truly, that nation with whom the Lord deals thus graciously, is vilely ungrateful if they observe it not with much humility and thankfulness, and with profit too. If the Lord should answer your desires and hopes with a reformation in a peaceable way, and should yet lengthen out your long continued peace, and should make this little past shaking of it cause it to take root the faster; if He should, I say, do this, where would ye find fit praises for such a wonder of mercy ?-especially considering, that in the meanwhile He hath made other reformed churches fields of blood, and made, as it were, the sound of their stripes preach repentance to us. But certainly, if the hearing the voice of the rod prevail not, we shall feel the smart of it, as this people of Judah did afterwards, because they were not so wise as to become wiser and better by Israel's folly and calamity. We are expecting great things at our Lord's hands, and our provocations and sins against Him are great; yet there is no one of them all puts us in so much

danger of disappointment, as impenitence. Were there more repentance and personal reformation amongst us, we might take it as a hopeful forerunner of that public reformation which so many seem now to desire.

The Lord of Hosts.] This style of His, you know, is frequent in the Prophets, in their predictions of mercy and judgment; intimating both His greatness and majesty, and His supreme power for accomplishing His word. No created power can resist Him; yea, all must serve Him. The most excellent creatures can have no greater honour: the greatest are not exempted, nor the meanest excluded from serving Him. In Acts xii. 23, you find one of the noblest creatures, and a number of the vilest, made use of at the same time in the same service. Because Herod did accept of the sacrilege of the people, and gave not back to this Lord of hosts His own glory, the angel of the Lord smote him, and the vermin devoured him. And in Egypt, you know the employing of the destroying angel, and what variety of hosts this Lord of hosts did employ to plague them. What madness, then, is it to oppose and encounter this great General !—even in doubtful cases, to run on blindly, without examining, lest peradventure a man should be found a fighter against God. And on the other side, it is great weakness to admit any fear under His banner.

If man could say, when he was told of the multitude of the ships the enemy had, Against how many do ye reckon me? how much more justly may we reckon this Lord of hosts, against multitudes of enemies, how great soever! They are to Him as the drop of a bucket, and the smallest dust of the balance. It is ignorance and mean thoughts of this mighty Lord, that makes His enemies so confident; and it is the same evil, in some degree, or, at the best, forgetfulness of His power, that causeth diffidence in His followers. I, even I, am he that comforteth you : who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord, thy Maker. Isa. li. 12, 13. Now this same Lord of hosts, you know, is likewise called the God of peace : He is indeed, et pace et

a

bello insignis, splendid both in peace and war. The blessing of

peace and the success of war are both from Him; and to Him alone is due the praise of both.

Shall be for a crown of glory.] He shall dignify and adorn them by His special presence; to wit, in the purity of His ordinances and religion amongst them : the profession and flourishing of that, shall be their special glory and beauty. For, as the other two benefits concern their civil good, justice flourishing within, and wealth and opulency from without, so doubtless, this first, this glory and beauty, is religion, as the chiefest of the three, and the other two are its attendants. In Psalm xxvi. 8, the sanctuary, the place of their solemn worship, is called the place where God's honour dwelleth, or the tabernacle of His honour, and, Psalm xcvi. 9, the glorious sanctuary, or the beauty of holiness. And the ark of God, you know, was called the glory. The glory is departed from Israel, (said the wife of Phineas,) for the ark of God is taken. 1 Sam. iv. 21. Pure religion and a pure worship, is the glory. of God amongst His people, and consequently, their glory. Now referring this prophecy to Hezekiah's time, the accomplishment of it is evident, in that work of reformation whereof you have the full history, 2 Chron. xxix. 30, fc.

If it be thus, that the purity of religion and worship, is the crown and glory of a people; and therefore, on the other side, that their deepest stain of dishonour and vileness, is the vitiating of religion with human devices; then, to contend for the preservation or the reformation of it, is noble and worthy of a Christian. It is for the crown of Jesus Christ, which is likewise a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty to them, He being their head. It is, indeed, the true glory both of kings and their kingdoms. Labour then for constancy in this work : let no man take your crown from you. You know how busy the emissaries of the Church of Rome have been to take it from us, or, at least, to pick the diamonds out of it, and put in false, counterfeit ones in their places. I mean, they stole away the power of religion, and filled up the room with

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