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of God himself; in which he declares what kind of fast is acceptable to him: Is it fuch a fast as I have chofen? a day for a man to afflict his foul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrufh, and to spread fackcloth and afbes under him? wilt thou call this a faft, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the faft that I have chofen? to loofe the bands of wickedness, and to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppreffed go free, and that ye break every yoke? is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are caft out, to thine house? when thou feest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyfelf from thine own flesh? Then fhall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy falvation shall spring forth fpeedily: thy righteoufnefs, or thine alms, ball go before thee; and the glory of the Lord fhall be thy rere-ward. Then fhalt thou call, and I will answer thee; thou shalt cry, and he fball fay, Here I am, If. lviii. 5. 6. &c.

Now, to him that fitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was flain: to God, even our Father, and to our Lord Jefus Chrift, the first begotten from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth; unto him, who hath loved us, and washed us from our fins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.

And the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jefus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleafing in his fight, through Jefus Chrift; to whom be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

SERMON

The way to prevent the ruin of a finful people.

A faft-fermon, preached before the Lord Mayor, &c. on Wednesday, June 18. 1690.

The

EPISTLE DEDICATORY.

To the Right Honourable Sir THOMAS PILKINGTON, Lord Mayor of the city of London, and the court of Aldermen..

I

My Lord,

N obedience to your commands, I have published this fermon lately preached before you, and do now humbly prefent you with it; heartily wishing it may have that good effect for the reformation of our lives, and reconciliation of our unhappy differences, which was fincerely intended by,

My Lord,

Your most faithful and humble fervant,

Jo. TILLOTSON.

The SERMON.

JE R. vi. 8.

Be thou inftructed, O Jerufalem, left my foul depart from thee; left I make thee defolate, a land not inhabited.

T

Hefe words are a merciful warning from God to the people of Ifrael by the Prophet Jeremiah, the laft Prophet that God fent to them before their captivity in Babylon.

The

The time of his prophecy was of a long continuance, above the space of forty years, viz. from the thirteenth year of King Jofiah, to the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, the year in which Jerufalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon.

This I obferve, to fhew the great patience of God to a finful nation. And this is much the fame space of time that God gave warning by our bleffed Saviour and his Apoftles to the fame people of the Jews concerning their final deftruction. For it was about forty years after the prediction of our Saviour concerning it, just before his death, that the terrible destruction of Jerufalem and the Jewish nation was executed upon them by the Romans, or rather chiefly by themselves, as I fhall prefently fhew. Of which dreadful defolation, the first taking of Jerufalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and their captivity into Babylon, was a kind of type and forerunner. For, as Jofephus obferves, the taking of Jerufalem by Titus Vefpafian did happen in the very fame month, and on the very fame day of the month in which Jerufalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, viz. upon our 10th of Auguft.

And it is not unworthy of our obfervation, that the time of God's warning is wont to hold fome fort of proportion with the extent of his judgments. Before the univerfal deluge, which deftroyed the whole world, Noah and his family only excepted, God gave a much longer warning, by the preaching of Noah for the space of an hundred and twenty years. Before the destruction of a particular nation, if we may judge by God's dealing with the Jews, his time of warning is forty years. And before the deftruction of a particular city, if we may conclude any thing from the fingle example of Nineveh, the time of God's warning is yet much fhorter, the space of forty days.

And now to what end doth God exercise so much patience, and threaten fo long beforehand, but that by the terror of his threatenings men may be brought to repentance, and by repentance may prevent the execution of them? For all the while that God by his Prophet threatens ruin and destruction to the people of Ifrael, he earnestly invites and urges them to repentance, that by VOL. II.

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Ser. 37. this means they might escape the ruin that was denounced against them: this being a condition perpetually implied in the denunciation of publick judgments, that if a people repent of the evil of their doings, God alfo will repent of the evil which he faid he would do unto them; as he expressly declares, chap. xviii. 7. 8. At what inftant Ifpeak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil which I thought to do unto them. And here in the text, after God had threatened destruction to Jerufalem, because of the overflowing of all manner of wickedness and oppreffion in the midst of her, he gives her a merciful warning to prevent this ruin and defolation by repentance, y 6. 7. Thus hath the Lord of hefts faid, Hew ye down trees, and caft a mount against Ferufalem: this is a city to be vifited, she is wholly oppreffion in the midst of her. As a fountain cafteth out waters, fo fhe cafteth out her wickedness: before me continually is grief and wounds. And yet, when he had pronounced this fearful fentence upon her, he tells her, that all this mifery and defolation might yet be prevented, if they would but hearken to the counsel of God, and be inftructed by him concerning the things of their peace: For fo it follows in the next words, Be thou inftructed, O Jerufalem, left my foul depart from thee; left I make thee defolate, a land not inhabited. Be thou inftructed, Oferufalem; that is, Do but now at last take that counfel and warning, which hath fo often and fo long been tendered to thee by my fervant the Prophet, who hath now for the fpace of forty years continually, and that with great earneftnefs and importunity, been warning thee of this danger, and calling thee to repentance and a better mind.

Left my foul depart from thee. In the Hebrew it is, Left my foul be loofened and disjointed from thee, as it is in the margin of your Bibles; hereby fignifying, in the moft emphatical manner, the wonderful affection and kin nefs which God had for his people, and how strongly his foul was linked to them, and how loth he was to withdraw his love from them: it was like the tearing off of a limb, or the plucking of a joint in funder. So un

willing

willing is God to come to extremity, fo hardly is he brought to refolve upon the ruin even of a finful nation: how much rather would he, that they would be inítruct ed, and receive correction, and hearken to the things of their peace? But if they will not be perfuaded, in no warning will work upon them, his fpirit will not always ftrive with them; but his foul will at laft, though with great unwillingness and reluctancy, depart from them.

And then no interceffion will prevail for them; as he threatens by the fame Prophet, chap. xv. 1. Then faid the Lord unto me, Though Mofes and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be towards this people; caft them out of my fight, and let them go forth; away with them into captivity, for they have loft my heart; and no interceffion of others for them, nothing but their own repentance, can recover it.

And when his foul is once departed from a people, and his heart turned against them, then all forts of evils and calamities will be let loofe upon them; as we may read in the next verfe of that chapter, Jer. xv. 2. And it fball come to pafs, if they fay unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus faith the Lord, Such as are for death, to death; and fuch as are for the fword, to the fword; and fuch as are for the famine, to the famine; and fuch as are for the captivity, to the captivity. For then God will be weary of repenting; as he tells them, y 6. Thou haft forfaken me, faith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I ftretch out my hand against thee, and deftroy thee; I am weary of repenting. By our obftinate impenitency, we harden the heart of God against us, and make him weary of repenting. And when his foul is thus departed from a people, nothing remains but a fearful expectation of ruin: Hof. ix. 12. Wo unto them, (faith God by the Prophet), when I depart from them. Therefore be thou inftructed, O Jerufalem, left my foul depart from thee; left I make thee defolate, a land not inhabited.

Having given this account of the words, I fhall obferve from them three things well worth our confideration..

1. The infinite goodness and patience of God towards a finful people, and his great unwillingness to bring ruin and

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