Page images

when death, judgment, and eternity appear; therefore I exhort you folemnly to reflect upon this matter whether you be gathered, or not. If all that you are worth in a world, as I noticed on a former occafion, lay in one precious ftone, and that ftone were to be tried by a fkilful jeweller, whether it were true or falfe, whether it would fly, or endure under the fmart ftroak of his hammer; furely, your thoughts would not be unconcerned about the iffue of fuch a trial. Why, man, woman, all that you are worth in this world, and the world to come, depends upon this matter, whether you be of the people that are gathered to Shiloh, or not. Try whether your faith in the promised Shiloh, will fly, or endure the ftroak of the hammer of God's word; have you no concern in this matter? You would be loath to put to fea, tho' it were but to crcfs a narrow ferry, in a rotten leaky veffel; and will you dare to venture on the ocean of eternity, in a falfe, rotten bark? Whatever profeffion you have, whatever blaze you make, whatever efteem others may have of you, whatever opinion you may have of yourfelf, and of your faith, you will be drowned for ever in the deluge of God's wrath, if you be not gathered into the ark, Jefus Chrift: I would therefore offer you fome helps to make this trial. And here all that I faid upon the fourth general head, concerning the means and manner of this gather. ing; how God acts in gathering, and how he makes the foul to act, might be brought in; but, paffing all thefe, I offer thefe few following marks, by which you may try whether or not, you have ever been gathered to Shiloh.

1. If ever you was gathered to Shiloh, then Shiloh hath come to you, before ever you was gathered to him. The text makes the coming of Shiloh to be the very caufe of the gathering of the people to him: as his coming in the flesh did ufher in the gathering of the Gentiles; fo it is his coming in the Spirit that makes the fpiritual gathering to him. Try then, if ever he hath come to you. Surely, if you be gathered to him, you can fay, I would never have come to him, unless he had come to me now, if Chrift never came to you by his Spirit,


[ocr errors]

as a Spirit of conviction, convincing you of fin and mifery, and difcovering your need of Chrift, and that you was loft for ever without him, furely you have not yet been gathered to him.--You have never yet had a forrowful hour for want of Chrift, and was never brought to a Wo's me, for I want Chrift and falvation! nor to a "What fhall I do to be faved?" you have reason to conclude that you was never yet gathered to him for, when he comes by his Spirit, he convinces the world of fin; when he gathers the people to him, he comes and convinces them of fin, because they believe not in him, John xvi. 8. Some never wanted faith, which declares they never had it; they never miffed Chrift, which fays they never matched with him. As he that was never a real wanter, was never a real and true fuiter; fo it is the needy wanter that is the fteady fuiter. Thus here, man, woman, if you had never a want of Chrift, you was never in fuit of him, never gathered to him; tho' he hath been in fuit of you by the gofpel-offer may be a thousand times, yet you being pleafed with your old match, your fins, lufts, idols, felfrighteoufnefs, or the world: his fuit was never regarded, because you was never a wanter; and being never a true wanter, you was never a true feeker or receiver of him; and fo never gathered to him; for you was never convinced of your want of Chrift, and want of faith in him. Deceive not yourself, O finner; you was never a believer, if you was never a wanter; if the Spirit of conviction never came, and made you fay, Oh! I want grace, I want holinefs, I want faith, love, repentance, and all good; yea, I want God, I want Christ, I want the Spirit! Hence it is the property of a believer, notwithstanding all he gets, yet he is still a wanter; always poor and needy, and nothing in himfelf and it is the property of an unbeliever, notwithstanding all that he wants, yet he is always rich, and increased with goods, and wants nothing; hence we find fome ignorant people expreffing what others that pretend to more knowledge do conceal; afk them, Do you want faith? Oh! no; we always trusted in God. Do you want hope? No; we hope in his mercy. K 4



you want love? No; I had ever a love to God and his
people all my days. Do you want grace? Nay, God
forbid, that I fhould be altogether gracelefs. Do you
want Chrift? Oh! no; my fweet Saviour, what would
come of me if I wanted Chrift? Why, man, woman,
I know nothing that you want; you are not a wanter:
the Lord pity you; for, what you dream you never
wanted, you never had to this day. The Spirit of con-
viction hath never come; and, instead of being gather-
ed to Shiloh, you was never yet gathered to the porch-
door of true Chriftianity; for the Spirit's coming to
convince of the want of Chrift, and of faith in him, is
the very beginning of true religion. But if Shiloh
hath come by his Spirit, and fhewed you your want of
all things, but fin, it is a good beginning; for thus he
gathers you out of your falfe hopes and lying refuges.-
But next, if Shiloh hath come to you for gathering
you to himself, then he hath come not only as a Spirit
of conviction, but alfo as a Spirit of powerful illumina-
tion, difcovering the glory of Shiloh to you, even the
glory of his perfon, offices, righteoufnefs, fulnefs, and
other things of Chrift, fo as to glorify Chrift in your
view, John xvi. 14. "He fhall glorify me: for he fhall
receive of mine, and fhew it unto you." Now, if
Shiloh ever came, by his Spirit, in the gofpel, to fhew
fomething of the glory of Chrift to you, and the glory
of God's perfections in him, fo as to make him appear
more glorious to you than all the world, it feems you
have not yet been gathered; " For if our gofpel be hid,
it is hid to them that are loft; in whom the god of this
world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not,
left the light of the glorious gofpel of Christ, who is the
image of God, fhould fhine unto them," 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4..
But if ever you was gathered, then, "The God who
commanded the light to fhine out of darkness, hath
fhined into your hearts, to give the light of the know-
ledge of the glory of God in the face of Jefus Chrift,"
verfe 6. For as, when the Lord builds up Zion, he
appears in his glory; fo, when he gathers fouls, he
appears in his glory, and brings them from darkness to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

his marvellous light. I do not fpeak of the highest degree of fpiritual light, nor yet of any extraordinary manifeftations; all that I mean is, the Spirit's coming to enlighten your minds in the knowledge of Chrift, whereby you have feen his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; and have feen a fulness of all grace in him. Thefe are not enthufiaftic delufions, but fpiritual expreffions: for, perhaps, fome perfon may think or fay, What is that the man is fpeaking, of beholding fuch a glory? I never faw any greater glory in all the world than that of the fun, moon, and ftars in the firmament. What fay you, man? Saw you never any greater glory than: that which your bodily eyes have feen betwixt earth and heaven? Then I may fay to you, that you was never yet gathered to Shiloh; for he never came in hist Spirit to fhew you lis glory.-I speak not of weak, powerlefs fancies and imaginations that fome may have of Chrift's glory, but I call it a powerful illumination, conquering the will, and captivating the heart, and carrying in all the affections to the embracing of Chrift; for, when the Sun of righteoufnefs arifes, it is with healing under his wings; healing the refiftance of the will, and the hardness of the heart, and melting down the whole foul in the warm arms of his gathering grace and love, while he draws with loving-kindness.— And indeed, "No man can come to me," fays Chrift,


except the Father which hath fent me draw him :" and faving difcoveries are of a drawing nature. The true Sun hath not only light, but heat, whereby the heart is warmed; and the true Light is the light of life, whereby the foul is quickened. If ever you was gathered to Shiloh, then know it, that Shiloh hath come to you, before ever there could be a gathering to him.

2. If ever you was gathered to Shiloh, then as Shiloh hath come to you, fo you have been made particularly to come to him, under the drawing power and influence of that Spirit I have been fpeaking of. And indeed, as none can come unlefs he draw them, fo none can flay away when he is drawing them and hence every believer finds, that as it is impoffible to


believe till power come, fo it is impoffible not to believe when divine power comes: it is as easy then, as it was difficult before. If ever you was gathered to Shiloh, then as the coming of Shiloh to you hath prevented your coming to him, fo your coming to him hath been effectuate by his coming to you, and making the general call of the gofpel effectual, in enabling you to a particular application, fo as to give a particular anfwer to the general call. If you have been but hearers of the word all your days, without ever applying it to your own ufe; and hearers of the general offer and promife of Chrift, without ever feeing yourselves involved, inclosed, and included in the general promise and offer, and without ever making a particular, perfonal application thereof, you are not yet gathered to Shiloh; for, when fouls are gathered, the general call gets a particular answer; "When thou faidft, Seek ye my face; my heart faid, Thy face, Lord, will I feek," Pfal. xxvii. 8. The gofpel-call is general, "Believe in the Lord Jefus Chrift;" but the answer must be particular, "Lord, I believe: help thou my unbelief." When people fuffer gofpel-truths to hover in the brain, without application, or learn things, as children do their Catechifm, by rote, never reflecting, What am I doing? Where am I going? What will become of me? And, What effect hath this word upon me? Unbelief remains undisturbed; the word comes and goes; and there is no good done, no gathering to Shiloh, because no particular application. It is the very defign of the Spirit's convincing and enlightening work, to bring the foul to this particular application of Chrift; and therefore this mark may clear the former. If you think, How fhall I know if I have fuch a measure of conviction and illumination as is fufficient to evidence that I am gathered to Shiloh? Why, any measure that God pleases to give, is enough, if it iffue in the foul's particular reception and application of Chrift.-When is it that the metal is melted enough in the fire? Why, it is melted enough, when it runs easily into the mould. Now, there may be natural meltings, under the common influences of the Spirit but, when is the foul melted enough with


« PreviousContinue »