图书图片
PDF
ePub

6

[ocr errors]

that himself did smartingly and fearfully feel when | Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was cirGod made inquisition for the blood of Abel. “And cumcised, and then was Abraham ninety years old now art thou cursed,' said God, * from the earth; and nine. Ge. xvii. 24–26. The next year Isaac was which hath opened her mouth to receive thy bro- born; so that Ishmael was now fourteen years of ther's blood from thy hand,' &c. • And Cain said, age. Now, when Isaac was weaned, suppose he My punishment is greater than I can bear.' Mine sucked four years, by that account, the day of iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven. grace must be ended with Ishmael by that time he • Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the was eighteen years old. Ge. xxv. 12, &c. For that day face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid.' he mocked; that day it was said, “ Cast him out;' Ge. iv. 9–14. Now thou art cursed, saith God. Thou and of that casting out the apostle makes what I hast driven me out this day, saith Cain, and from have said. Beware, ye young barren professors ! thy face shall I be hid. I shall never more have Now, Ishmael lived a hundred and nineteen years hope in thee, smile from thee, nor expect mercy after this, in great tranquillity and honour with at thy hand. Thus, therefore, Cain's day of grace men. After this he also begat twelve princes, even ended; and the heavens, with God's own heart, after his day of grace was past. were shut up against him; yet after this he lived Third. I shall instance Esau. Ge. xxv. 27, &c. long. Cutting down was not come yet; after this Esau also was a professor; he was born unto Isaac, he lived to marry a wife, to beget a cursed brood, and circumcised according to the custom. But to build a city, and what else I know not; all Esau was a gamesome professor, a huntsman, a which could not be quickly done; wherefore Cain man of the field; also he was wedded to his lusts, might live after the day of grace was past with which he did also venture to keep, rather than the him several hundred of years. Ge. iv. 10–17. birthright. Well, upon a day, when he came from

Second, I shall instance Ishmael. Ishmael was hunting, and was faint, he sold his birthright to a professor, was brought up in Abraham's family, Jacob, his brother. Now the birthright, in those and was circumcised at thirteen years of age. days, had the promise and blessing annexed to it. Ge. xvi. 12; xvii. 25, 26. But he was the son of the Yea, they were so entailed in this, that the one bond-woman, he brought not forth good fruit; he could not go without the other; wherefore the was a wild professor. For all his religion, he apostle's caution is here of weight. Take heed, would scoff at those that were better than himself. saith he, “lest there be any fornicator, or proWell, upon a day his brother Isaac was weaned, fane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat at which time his father made a feast, and rejoiced sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterbefore the Lord, for that he bad given him the ward, when he would have inherited the blessing, promised son; at this Ishmael mocked them, their he was rejected; for he found no place of repentson, and godly rejoicing. Then came the Spirit of ance, though he sought it carefully with tears.' God upon Sarah, and she cried, Cast him out, 'cast He. xii. 16, 17. Now, the ending of Esau's day of out this bond-woman and her son ; for the son of grace is to be reckoned from his selling of his this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, birthright; for there the apostle points it, lest with Isaac.' Ge. xxi. 9–11. Now Paul to the Gala- there be among you any that, like Esau, sells tians makes this casting out to be, not only a his birthright: for then goes hence the blessing casting out of Abraham's family, but a casting out also. also from a lot with the saints in heaven. Ga. iv. But Esau sold his birthright long before his 29–31. Also Moses giveth us a notable proof there- death. Twenty years after this Jacob was with of, in saying, that when he died he was gathered Laban, and when he returned home, his brother to his people—his people by his mother's side; for Esau met him. Ge. xxxi. 41; xxxii. 4. Further, after lie was reckoned from her, the son of Hagar, the this, when Jacob dwelt again some time with his son of the bond-woman. Ge. xxv. 17. Now, she came father, then Jacob and Esau buried him. I

surof the Egyptians, so that he was gathered when pose he might live above forty, yea, for ought I he died, notwithstanding his profession, to the know, above fourscore years after he had sold his place that Pharaoh and his host were gathered birthright, and so consequently had put himself to, who were drowned in the Red Sea; these were out of the grace of God.? Ge. xxxv. 28, 29. his people, and he was of them, both by nature and disposition, by persecuting as they did. Ge. Bunyan had been haunted with the temptation to sell

But now, when did the day of grace end and part with Christ,' and, under a fear that he had fallen uuder with this man?

that temptation, the case of Esau made a dreadful impression Observe, and I will show you. upon his soul; extreme horror and anguish scized upon his

spirit; "he was like a man bereft of life and bound over to · Mahomet professed descent from Ishmael, and that he eternal punishment,' for two years. At length, after an awful came to revive the religion which God had revealed to Abraham, storm, he found peace in the promise, ‘his blood cleanseth from who taught it to Ishmael. Mahometanism is the religion of all sins,' and a proof that he had not sold Christ.See Grace the outcast of God.—(ED.)

Abounding, No. 139–160.

2

xxi, 9.

3

6

ever. 1

Three things I would further note upon these There are some men that steal into a profession, three professors.

nobody knows how, even as this fig-tree was brought 1. Cain, an angry professor; Ishmael, a mocking into the vineyard by other hands than God's; and one; Esau, a lustful, gamesome one. Three symp- there they abide lifeless, graceless, careless, and toms of a barren professor; for he that can be angry, without any good conscience to God at all. Perhaps and that can mock, and that can indulge his lusts, they came in for the loaves, for a trade, for credit, for cannot bring forth fruit to God.

a blind; or it may be to stifle and choke the checks 2. The day of grace ended with these professors and grinding pangs of an awakened and disquieted at that time when they committed some grievous conscience. Now, having obtained their purpose, sin. Cain's, when he killed his brother; Ishmael's, like the sinners of Sion, they are at ease and secure; when he mocked at Isaac; and Esau's, when, out saying like Agag, ‘Surely the bitterness of death of love to his lusts, he despised and sold his birth is past,' 1 82. xv. 22 ; I am well, shall be saved, and right. Beware, barren professor! thou mayest do go to heaven. Thus in these vain conceits they that in half a quarter of an hour, from the evil of spend a year, two, or three; not remembering that which thou mayest not be delivered for ever and at every season of grace, and at every opportunity

of the gospel the Lord comes seeking fruit. Well, 3. Yet these three, after their day of grace was sinner, well, barren fig-tree, this is but a coarse over, lived better lives, as to outward things, than beginning: God comes for fruit. ever they did before. Cain, after this, was lord 1. What have I here? saith God; what a figof a city. Ge. iv. 17. Ishmael was, after this, father tree is this, that hath stood this year

in my

vineof twelve princes. Ge. xxv. 16. And Esau, after this, yard, and brought me forth no fruit? I will cry told his brother, 'I have enough, my brother, keep unto him, Professor, barren fig-tree, bo fruitful ! that thou hast unto thyself.' Ge. xxxiii. 8, 9. Ease and I look for fruit, I expect fruit, I must have fruit; peace, and a prosperous life in outwards, is no sign therefore bethink thyself! At these the professor of the favour of God to a barren and fruitless pro- pauses; but these are words, not blows, therefore fessor, but rather of his wrath ; that thereby he off goes this consideration from the heart. When may be capable to treasure up more wrath against God comes the next year, he finds him still as he the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous was, a barren, fruitless cumber-ground. And now judgment of God. Let this much serve for the again he complains, here are two years gone, and proof of the first proposition, namely, That the day no fruit appears; well, I will defer mine anger. of grace ends with some men before God takes · For my name sake will I defer mine

anger,

and them out of this world.

for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off,' as yet. Is. xlviii. 9. I will wait, I will

yet wait to be gracious. But this helps not, this Now, then, to show you, by some signs, how hath not the least influence upon the barren fig-tree. you may know that the day of grace is ended, cr | Tush, saith he, here is no threatening: God is near to ending, with the barren professor; and merciful, he will defer his anger, he waits to be after that thou shalt cut it down. He that hath gracious, I am not yet afraid. Is. xxx. 18. 0! how stood it out against God, and that hath withstood ungodly men, that are at unawares crept into the all those means for fruit that God hath used for vineyard, how do they turn the grace of our God the making of him, if it might have been, a fruitful into lasciviousness! Well, he comes the third year tree in his garden, he is in this danger; and this for fruit, as he did before, but still he finds but a indeed is the sum of the parable. The fig-tree barren fig-tree; no fruit. Now, he cries out again, here mentioned was blessed with the application of O thou dresser of my vineyard, come hither; here means, had time allowed it to receive the nourish- is a fig-tree hath stood these three years in my ment; but it outstood, withstood, overstood all, vineyard, and bath at every season disappointed all that the husbandman did, all that the vine- my expectation; for I have looked for fruit in vain; dresser did.

• Cut it down,' my patience is worn out, I shall But a little distinctly to particularize in four or wait on this fig-tree no longer. five particulars.

2. And now he begins to shake the fig-tree First sign. The day of grace is like to be past, with his threatenings: Fetch out the axe! Now when a professor hath withstood, abused, and the axe is death; death therefore is called for. worn out God's patience, then he is in danger; Death, come sinite me this fig-tree. And withal this is a provocation; then God cries, ‘Cut it down.' the Lord shakes this sinner, and whirls hiin upon

a sick-bed, saying, Take him, death, he hath How solemn a thought! What an appeal to perpetual abused my patience and forbearance, not rememwatchfulness. Why have I not made shipwreck of faith? Most emphatically may we reply, Because God has siistained bering that it should have led him to repentance, my soul.—(ED.)

and to the fruits thereof. Death, fetch this

6

SIGNS OF BEING PAST GRACE,

away

fig-tree to the fire, fetch this barren professor to have you all been doing? How are all things out hell! At this death comes with grim looks into of order? I am I cannot tell what behind hand. the chamber; yea, and hell follows with him to One may see, if a man be but a little a to side, the bedside, and both stare this professor in the that you have neither wisdom nor prudence to order face, yea, begin to lay hands upon him; one things.? And now, instead of seeking to spend smiting him with pains in his body, with bead the rest of his time to God, le doubleth his diliache, heart-ache, back-ache, shortness of breath, gence after this world. Alas! all must not be fainting, qualms, trembling of joints, stopping at lost; we must have provident care. And thus, the chest, and almost all the symptoms of a man quite forgetting the sorrows of death, the pains of past all recovery. Now, while death is thus tor- hell, the promises and vows which he made to God menting the body, hell is doing with the mind and to be better; because judgment was not now conscience, striking them with its pains, casting speedily executed, therefore the heart of this poor sparks of fire in thither, wounding with sorrows, creature is fully set in him to do evil. and fears of everlasting damnation, the spirit of 3. These things proving ineffectual, God takes this poor creature. And now he begins to bethink hold of his axe again, sends death to a wife, to a himself, and to cry to God for mercy; Lord, spare child, to his cattle, “Your young men have I slain, me! Lord, spare me! Nay, saith God, you have - and taken away your horses.' Am. iv. 9, 10. I will been a provocation to me these three years. How blast him, cross him, disappoint him, and cast him many times have you disappointed me? How many down, and will set myself against him in all that seasons have you spent in vain? How many ser- he putteth his hand unto. At this the poor barren mons and other mercies did I, of my patience, professor cries out again, Lord, I have sinned; afford you? but to no purpose at all. Take him, spare me once more, I beseech thee. O take not death! 0! good Lord, saith the sinner, spare away the desire of mine eyes; spare my children, me but this once; raise me but this once. Indeed bless me in my labours, and I will mend and be I have been a barren professor, and have stood to better. No, saith God, you lied to me last time, no purpose at all in thy vineyard; but spare! 0 I will trust you in this no longer; and withal he spare this one time, I beseech thee, and I will be tumbleth the wife, the child, the estate into a grave. better! Away, away you will not; I have tried And then returns to his place, till this professor you these three years already; you are naught; more unfeignedly acknowledgeth his offence. Ho. if I should recover you again, you would be as v. 14, 15. bad as you were before. And all this talk is while At this the poor creature is afflicted and disdeath stands by. The sinner cries again, Good tressed, rends his clothes, and begins to call the Lord, try me this once; let me get up again this breaking of his promise and vows to mind; lie once, and see if I do not mend.

But will you pro- mourns and prays, and like Ahab, awhile walks nise me to mend? Yes, indeed, Lord, and vow it softly at the remembrance of the justness of the too; I will never be so bad again; I will be better. hand of God upon him. And now he renews his Well, snith God, death, let this professor alone for promises: Lord, try me this one time more; take this time; I will try hin a while longer; he hath off thy hand and see; they go far that never turn. promised, he hath vowed, that he will amend his Well, God spareth him again, sets down his are ways. It may be he will mind to keep his pro- again. “Many times he did deliver them, but mises. Vows are solemn things; it may be he they provoked him with their counsel, and were may fear to break his vows. Arise from off thy brought low for their iniquity.' Ps. cvi. 48. Now they bed. And now God lays down his axe. At this seem to be thankful again, and are as if they were the poor creature is very thankful, praises God, resolved to be godly indeed. Now they read, they and fawns upon him, shows as if he did it heartily, pray, they go to meetings, and seem to be serious and calls to others to thank him too. He there a pretty while, but at last they forget. Their lusts fore riseth, as one would think, to be a new crea. prick them, suitable temptations present themture indeed. But by that he hath put on his selves; wherefore they turn to their own crooked clothes, is come down from his bed, and ventured ways again. When he slew them, then they into the yard or shop, and there sees how all sought him, and they returned and inquired early things are gone to sixes and sevens, he begins to after God;' «nevertheless they did flatter him with have second thoughts, and says to his folks, What

6

1

2 This picture is drawn by a master hand: the master is laid Bunyan's tongue and pen are here fired by his vivid ima- i by for a season; or, as Bunyan quaintly expresses it, 'a little givation of eterval realities. With such bui ning words, we'a to side:' when raised from affliction earthly affairs absorb his uced no messenger from the invisible world to alarm the con. | attention, and he forgets his gcod resolves. According to the sciences of sinners. What angel could arouse more powerfully, old rhyme:alarmingly, convincingly, the poor sinner, than the whole of

• The devil was sick, the devil a saint would he this chaiu of reasoning.-(ED.)

The devil got well, the devii a saint was lie.' --EO.

• In thy

[ocr errors]

Jude 4,

6

their mouth, and they lied unto him with their | The Spirit parlieth a second time, and urgeth tongue.' Ps. lxxviii. 31–36.

reasons of a new nature, but the sinner answereth, 4. Yet again, the Lord will not leave this pro- No, I have loved strangers, and aster them I will fessor, but will take up his axe again, and will put go. Am. iv. 6–12.

At this God's fury comes up into him under a more heart-searching ministry, a his face: now he comes out of his holy place, and ministry that shall search him, and turn him over is terrible; now he sweareth in his wrath they shall and over; a ministry that shall meet with him, as never enter into his rest. He. iii. 11. I exercised toElijah met with Ahab, in all his acts of wicked-wards you my patience, yet you have not turned ness, and now the axe is laid to the roots of the unto me, saith the Lord. I smote you in your pertrees. Besides, this ministry doth not only search son, in your relations, in your estate, yet you have the heart, but presenteth the sinner with the golden not returned unto me, saith the Lord. rays of the glorious gospel; now is Christ Jesus filthiness is lewdness, because I have purged thee, set forth evidently, now is grace displayed sweetly; and thou wast not purged; thou shalt not be purged now, now are the promises broken like boxes of from thy filthiness any more, till I cause my fury ointment, to the perfuming of the whole room! to rest upon thee.' Eze. xxiv. 13. • Cut it down, why But, alas! there is yet no fruit on this fig-tree. doth it cumber the ground ?' While his heart is searching, he wrangles; while The sccond sign. That such a professor is almost, the glorious grace of the gospel is unveiling, this if not quite, past grace, is, when God hath given professor wags and is wanton, gathers up some him over, or lets him alone, and suffers him to do scraps thereof; "Tastes the good Word of God, anything, and that without control, helpeth him and the powers of the world to come;' • drinketh not either in works of holiness, or in straits and in the rain that cometh oft upon him.' He. vi. 3–8. difficulties. “Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him

But bringeth not forth fruit meet for him alone.' Ho. iv. 17. Woe be to them when I depart whose gospel it is; • Takes no heed to walk in the from them. I will laugh at their calamities, and law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart.' will mock when their fear cometh. Pr. i. 27–29. 2 Ki. I. 31. But counteth that the glory of the gospel Barren fig-tree, thou hast heretofore been digged consisteth in talk and show, and that our obedience about, and dunged; God's mattock hath heretoforo thereto is a matter of speculation ; that good works been at thy roots; gospel-dung hath heretofore been lie in good words; and if they can finely talk, they applied to thee; thou hast heretofore been strove think they bravely please God. They think the king-with, convinced, awakened, made to taste and see, dom of God consisteth only in word, not in power; and cry, 0 the blessedness! Thou hast heretofore and thus proveth ineffectual this fourth means also. been met with under the word; thy heart hath

5. Well, now the axe begins to be heaved higher, melted, thy spirit hath fallen, thy soul hath for now indeed God is ready to smite the sinner; trembled, and thou hast felt something of the power yet before he will strike the stroke, he will try one of the gospel. But thou hast sinned, thou hast way more at the last, and if that misseth, down provoked the eyes of his glory, thy iniquity is found goes the fig-tree! Now this last way is to tug and to be hateful, and now perhaps God hath left thee, strive with this professor by his Spirit. Where given thee up, and lets thee alone. Heretoforo fore the Spirit of the Lord is now come to him; but thou wast tender; thy conscience startled at thu not always to strive with man. Ge. vi. 3. Yet a while temptation to wickedness, for thou wert taken off he will strive with him, he will awaken, he will from the pollutions of the world, through the convince, he will call to remembrance former sins, knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' former judgments, the breach of former vows and 2 Pe. ii. 20–22. But that very vomit that once thou promises, the misspending of former days; he will wert turned from, now thou lappest up-with the also present persuasive arguments, encouraging dog in the proverb-again; and that very mire that promises, dreadful judgments, the shortness of time once thou seemedst to be washed from, in that very to repent in; and that there is hope if he come. mire thou now art tumbling afresh. But to partiFurther, he will show him the certainty of death, cularize, there are three signs of a man's being given and of the judgment to come; yea, he will pull and over of God. strive with this sinner; but, behold, the mischief 1. When he is let alone in sinning, when the now lies here, here is tugging and striving on both reins of his lusts are loosed, and he given up to sides. The Spirit convinces, the man turns a deaf them. •And even as they did not like to retain ear to God; the Spirit saith, Receive my instruc- God in their kuowledge, God gave them over to a tion and live, but the man pulls away his shoulder; reprobate mind, to do those things which are not the Spirit shows him whither he is going, but the convenient: being filled with all unrighteousness.' man closeth his eyes against it; the Spirit offereth Ro. i. 28, 29. Seest thou a man that heretofore had violence, the man strives and resists; they have the knowledge of God, and that had some awe of done despite unto the Spirit of grace.' Ile. X. 29. Majesty upon him: I say, seest thou such an one

a

a

[ocr errors]

6

6

sporting himself in his own deceivings, turning the with the affliction. But he falls sick, and grows grace of our God into lasciviousness, and walking well, like the beast; or is under distress, as Saul, after his own ungodly lusts ? Ro. i. 30, 31. His “judg- who when he was engaged by the Philistines was ment now of a long time lingereth not, and his forsaken and left of God, •And the Philistines damnation slumbereth not.' 2 Pe. ii, 13. Dost thou gathered themselves together, and came and hear, barren professor ? It is astonishing to see pitched in Shunem, and Saul gathered all Israel how those that once seemed ‘sons of the morning,' together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when and were making preparations for eternal life, Saul saw the host of the Philistines he was afraid, now at last, for the rottenness of their hearts, by and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul the just judgment of God, to be permitted, being inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, past feeling, to give themselves over unto lascivi- neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.' ousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.' | 1 Sa. xxviii. 4–6.

The Lord answered him no more; Ep. iv. 18, 19. A great number of such were in the he had done with him, cast him off, and rejected first gospel-days; against whom Peter, and Jude, him, and left him to stand and fall with his sins, and John, pronounce the heavy judgment of God. by himself. But of this more in the conclusion: Peter and Jude couple them with the fallen angels, therefore I here forbear. and Johın forbids that prayer be made for them, 4. These men may go whither they will, do what because that is happened unto them that hath they will; they may range from opinion to opinion, happened to the fallen angels that fell, who, for from notion to notion, from sect to sect, but are forsaking their first state, and for leaving their steadfast nowhere; they are left to their own unown habitation,' are • reserved in everlasting certainties, they have not grace to establish their chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the hearts; and though some of them have boasted great day.' Jude 5, 6. 2 Pe.ii. 3–8. Barren fig-tree, dost themselves of this liberty, yet Jude calls them thou hear ? (1.) These are beyond all mercy ! wandering stars, to whom is reserved the black(2.) These are beyond all promises ! (3.) These : ness of darkness for ever.' Jude 13. They are left, are beyond all hopes of repentance! (4.) These as I told you before, to be fugitives and vagabonds have no intercessor, nor any more share in a sacri- in the earth, to wander everywhere, but to abide fice for sin! (5.) For these there remains nothing nowhere, until they shall descend to their own but a fearful looking for of judgment! (6.) Where- place, with Cain and Judas, men of the same fate fore these are the true fugitives and vagabonds, with themselves. Ac. i, 25. that being left of God, of Christ, of grace, and of

A third sign that such a professor is quite past the promise, and being beyond all hope, wander grace is, when his heart is grown so hard, so stony, and straggle to and fro, even as the devil, their and impenetrable, that nothing will pierce it. associate, until their time shall come to die, or Barren tig-tree, dost thou consider ? a hard and until they descend in battle and perish!

in penitent heart is the curse of God! A heart 2. Wherefore they are let alone in hearing. If that cannot repent, is instead of all plagues at these at any time come under the word, there is once; and hence it is that God said of Pharaoh, for them no God, no savour of the means of grace, when he spake of delivering him up in the greatno stirrings of heart, no pity for themselves, no ness of his anger, I will at this time,' saith love to their own salvation. Let them look on this he, send all my plagues upon thine heart.' Es. hand or that, there they see such effects of the ix. 14. word in others as produceth signs of repentance, To some men that have grievously sinned under and love to God and his Christ. These men only a profession of the gospel, God givetl this token have their backs bowed down alway. Ro. xi. 10. These of his displeasure ; they are denied the power of men only have the spirit of slumber, eyes that they repentance, their heart is bound, they cannot reshould not see, and ears that they should not hear, pent; it is impossible that they should ever repent, to this very day. Wherefore as they go to the should they live a thousand years. It is imposplace of the Holy, so they come from the place of sible for those fall-aways to be renewed again unto the Holy, and soon are forgotten in the places repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the where they so did. Ec. viii. 10. Only they reap this Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.' damare, “They treasure up wrath against the Ile. vi. 4–6. Now, to have the heart so hardened, day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous so judicially hardened, this is as a bar put in by judgment of God.' Ro. ii. 3–5. Look to it, barren the Lord God against the salvation of this sinner, professor!

This was the burden of Spira's complaint, 'I can3. If he be visited after the common way of not do it! 0! now I cannot do it!' 1 mankind, either with sickness, distress, or any kind of calamity, still no God appeareth, no sanc- house

, by the representation of a man in an iron cage, who

| This is referred to in the Pilgrim, at the Interpreter's tifying hand of God, no special mercy

mixed

says, I cannot get out, 0 now I cannotl' The awful account

6

« 上一页继续 »