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take them; and foe fball feek them, but fball not find them: then ball fhe fay, I will go and return to my firft hufband, for then was it better with me than now.
V. Ishall make fome fhort improvement of this point.
1. This gives a fad profpect of the lot of this generation. It is true, God may deal with us in a way of fovereign grace: but fure we have ground to expect, in the common courfe of providence, a heavy day of paffing under the rod. All have gone aftray: we have the guilt of former times unremoved yet: the iniquities of the prefent times have gone over all the banks: the gospel is doing very little good. We are incorrigible under leffer strokes, and bring forth no fruit of deliverances, but that we grow worfe daily. Immoralities are come to a prodigious height: and the generation is in a plain course of defection from God, in principles as well as practice. What can the end of these things be?
2. Yet it gives fome ground of hope of better days on the other fide of the ftroke. Who knows but God may fanctify fome national calamity or other to bring us back into the bond of the covenant, and yet make glorious days in these lands? We are not to defire the ftrokes of his hand; but if that be the Lord's mind concerning us to take that way with us, let us lay our hand on our mouth, and fo fteer our course that if poffible we may get through.
But it may be inquired, What courfe fhould one take, in fuch a doubtful event, for his own fafety? I answer,
1. Make up your peace with God in Christ, coming in perfonally into the bond of the covenant. In the worst of times this will make you safe, and fet you beyond the reach of eternal wrath: For there is now no condemnation to them which are in Chrift Jefus, Rom. viii. I. And David, as it were in his laft moments could fay, Although my house be not fo with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting cove
mant, ordered in all things and fure: for this is all my falvation, and all my defire.
2. This being done, lay down yourself at the Lord's feet, refigning yourself to his difpofal come what will; as David did in his diftrefs, when flying from Jerufalem, on account of the unnatural rebellion of his fon Abfalom: Carry back the ark of God into the city, faid he to Zadok the priest: if I fhall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and fhew me both it, and his habitation.
if he thus fay, I have no delight in thee: behold, here am I, let him do to me as feemeth good unto him, 2 Sam. xv. 25. 26. They may perish in a common calamity, whofe fouls fhall go ftraight to glory. We have no ground of doubting but many are in heaven this day, whom famine, fword, or peftilence have fent thither. Mofes himself died in the wilderness, and was kept out of Canaan for his wilderness provocation. Those who are in Chrift, die they or live they, die what way they will, are fafe.
3. But endeavour ye to be beft when others are worst, and fave yourselves from this untoward generation. Go not into the God-provoking courfes of it, but repent and turn off from them in time. And. mourn for the fins of others, and the difhonour done to God thereby. If there be any way to be fafe in a time of common calamity, that is it. This was Noah's practice; for we are told, Gen. vi. 9. that Noah was a juft man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And this is clear from Ezek. ix. 4. The Lord faid unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerufalem, and fet a mark upon the foreheads of the men that figh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. If ye will partake with the generation of God's anger in their finful loose ways, how can ye mifs to partake with them in their plagues? But those who endeavour to walk with God in a finning time, and to hold off from entering into the confpiracy, God will fee to them in a fuffering time.
An untoward Generation characterized, with the Means to be faved from it.
Preached at ETTRICK, on a Faft-day, December 7. 1721.
ACTS ii. 40.
Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
HESE words are a part of the advice which Pe
ter gives to his hearers, particularly to those of them who were convinced of their fin, and defired to know what course they should take to be faved. He bids them repent and be baptized, and return to the Lord by Jefus Chrift. And to enforce this, he fets an encouragement before them, affuring them they fhould be welcome, ver. 39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God fball call. And he preffes the neceffity of it, as they tendered their own fafety, and would not involve themselves in the ruin that was abiding the generation in which they lived;. Save yourselves from this untoward generation. In which words we may notice,
1. The character of the generation among whom their lot was caft; they were an untoward generation. They were a crooked, perverse, and froward fet of men, who were not fo much through weakness led out of the way, as through wickedness bent to forfake the way. They were wilful and headstrong in
their evil courses, and would not be reclaimed, but proceeded from evil to evil. He points out that generation as a fignally-untoward one, this untoward generation, who have fignalized themfelves for obftinacy, rebellion, and apoftafy, having crucified the Lord of life, and being ftill carrying on the war against him; being the generation which Mofes fpecially pointed at, Deut. xxxii. 20. They are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
2. The lot abiding that generation, namely, ruin and mifery, by the wrath of God breaking out on them, in as remarkable a manner as they had finned, This is implied in that expreffion, Save yourselves from them. As if he had faid, They are a generation of God's wrath, a generation devoted to destruction, engaged in a courfe that will have a fearful end. Our Lord had foretold it, Matth. xxii. 7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he fent forth his armies, and destroyed thofe murderers, and burnt up their city. Chap. xxiii. 35. 36. That upon you may come all the righteous blood bed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, fon of Barachias, whom ye flew between the temple and the altar. Verily I fay unto you, All thefe things fball come upon this generation. And accordingly it came to pafs in the fearful deftruction. that was brought on them by the Romans.
3. The right course to be taken for safety in such a cafe, Save yourselves, &c. Partake not with them in their fins, that ye partake not with them in their plagues. The house is coming down, the breaking will come fuddenly at an inftant; fave yourselves, flee for your life, that ye be not crushed with the fall thereof.
The text furnishes this doctrine, viz.
DocT. They that would fee to their own fafety, muft beftir themselves, and timely fave themselves from
an untoward generation, whom wrath from the Lord is abiding.
I fhall endeavour to profecute this doctrine in the following method.
I. I fhall fhew what fort of a generation is an untoward generation, whom wrath from the Lord is abiding.
II. What courfe one must take that would fave himself from fuch an untoward generation.
III. Lay down fome motives to ftir you up to save yourselves from this untoward generation.
I. I fhall fhew what fort of a generation is an untoward generation, whom wrath from the Lord is abi ding. They are,
1. A generation become proof against the means of grace, the glorious gofpel of Chrift. Such was this generation in the text. Chrift himself preached to them, and his apoftles too: but how did they receive it? Hear the obfervation of the evangelift upon it, John xii. 37. 38. But though he had done fo many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the faying of Efaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he fpake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? And look to what the apostle Paul faith, Rom. x. 16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Efaias faith, Lord, who bath believed our report? It is true, there were three thoufand converted at this fermon of Peter's; but what were they and others that were picked up here and there by preventing grace, in comparison of the body of that generation, who remained obftinate infidels? They were but as a little remnant which God referves to himfelf, in the worst of times, for a feed, Rom. ix. 29. So wrath came on that generation, as the apoftle obferves, 1 Theff. ii. 16. Wrath is come upon them to the utter· moft, according to the threatening, Matth. xxii. 7. forecited,