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to Israel, ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt, Exod. xxiii. 9. Remembering your affliction and your misery: the wormwood and the gall, when ye were in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, O pour out your hearts in behalf of such as are still in that deplorable state. Though they should persecute you, cease not to pray for them. He is not a Christian who would not wish all the world to be such. Pray that God may , open the eyes of Hagar's sons, that seeing their sin and misery, they may hasten to him who only can deliver from both. Do nothing to make the bands of mockers stronger than they are, Isa. xxviii. 22.; nothing to harden their hearts, or confirm them in their prejudices against the mystical seed. They say you are fools, ye see that they are so. But instead of insulting, endeavour by every laudable mean to gain them: and who can tell but in some instances ye may succeed. At any rate your labour of love shall not be lost.
As for such as are the children of the bond woman, let me in the bowels of Christ beseech
you, 1st. To open your eyes and see your misery. Ye are far from God, as Hagar and her son from Abraham's house. Like them ye are wandering in a wilderness, destitute of true consolation. Ye may think otherwise at present, but in a little ye shall find it so. We read of Hagar and her son, that wandering in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, the water, which Abraham had giv, en her, was spent in the bottle, and she cast the lad under one of the shrubs, that there he might expire in the shade. And she went and sat her down over a. gainst him, a good way off, as it were a bow-shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, support him with thy hand. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled
the bottle with water, and gave the lad to drink, Gen. xxi. 15—19. What a moving representation this, and how picturesque of their deplorable case who are un. der the covenant of works! As the water was spent in the bottle, so all the bounties of common provi. dence will be of none avail, when eternity is in view. All the streams of earthly comfort will then be dried up. Hagar abandoned her son in the day of distress, as unable to yield him any assistance, and so in effect will the covenant of works, all who put their trust in it. The corn, and wine, and oil, and a train of legal works, miserable comforters shall they be all; and perish ye must, unless the angel of the covenant interpose in your behalf
. The water in the bottle will soon be spent, and except your eyes be opened, and ye be led to the fountain of living waters, ye are undone for
Be convinced of this, 0 sinners, ere it be too late. For as the Lord liveth, there is but a step be. tween you and eternal death.
2dly, Convinced of your sin and misery, flee unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Children as ye are of the bond woman, yet by faith in Christ Jesus, ye shall all become the children of God, Gal. iii. 26. As many as receive him, to them will he give the inestimable privilege to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, John i. 12. To you he is freely offered in the gospel, and it is at your peril if you reject him. Better you had never heard of his name. we cannot receive him, and why be doomed to more awful destruction for not doing what we cannot do? It is not yours to cavil, but to obey. Your impotence is moral, i. e. you cannot receive Christ, because you will not: just as Joseph's brethren could not speak peaceably to him, so much did they hate him, Gen. xxxvii. 4.; or as the adulterer's eyes cannot cease from sin, so much is he under the power of his own lusts, 2 Pet. ii. 14. Were sinners unable to come to Christ, though ever so willing, they would be objects of pity, not of blame. But it is far far otherwise. They wil not come unto him that they may have life, John v. 40
Let none say,
Acts xiii. 46. Plead not your inability as a pillow for your indolence. But up and be doing. If you can truly say, you are willing to receive the Saviour, we are warranted to assure you of ability and success. Never was a sinner willing to receive him, but could not. Arise, therefore, O sinners, and flee as for your lives; there is room in Abraham's covenant, and in Abraham's bosom for you. Dispute not yourselves into double destruction. Let every man say for himself, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief. There are promi. ses lodged as in the bosom of the church, and in every age they have been fulfilled, viz. that God will take away the stony heart, and give a heart of flesh, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Plead that so he may do to you. Say not, that perhaps these promises are not made to you. God himself only knows to whom they appertain, that is a secret into which you must not pry.
must not pry. Made they are to some, and who can tell, but unto each of you who are now before me? In scripture they stand that they may be pleaded. And why put them far from you, when ye know not but that to you, as well as unto others, they were made? Surely, if ever there was a lawful prayer, this is, Lord take away the stony heart, and give me an heart of flesh. A prayer this, which an all.gracious God will not despise. Say not, that ye dare not pray till ye know ye are converted, inasmuch as the prayer of the wicked is sin, Prov. xxi. 27. By such a resolution ye would be held faster in Satan's snare than ever. For if resolved never to pray, till certain of your being born again, you shall go down prayerless to the house appointed for all living. Not pray till ye know that ye have got spiritual life! How awful! How absurd! Simon the sorcerer was bid pray to God, if perhaps the thoughts of his heart might be forgiven him, Acts viji. 22. In saying you will not pray till certain that you are regenerate, you may say with equal grace, you will not believe, nor repent till ye know you have undergone that happy change. How can you know that you have got spiritual life, but by its effects in you? You cannot know it in itself. And can these effects be discerned before there be a disposition to pray Surely not. The above resolution therefore amounts to this, That you will not exercise the spiritual life till you know you have it, and yet that knowledge you cannot attain but by the said exercise. Arise, there. fore, O sinners! away to God and his Christ. Sit not entangling yourselves faster and faster as in the snare of the fowler. The Lord open your eyes, touch your hearts, loose your bands, draw you to himself, and then
THE second general head of discourse was to shew what are meant by the two covenants mentioned in the text. Our apostle having spoken of the two typical women, the bond and the free, adds, that these women (*eute) are the two covenants, i. e. types, figures or representations of them. After the same manner of speaking, the seven kine in Pharaoh's dreain are called seven years, Gen. xli. 26. These are, i.e. these signify the two covenants. But what these two covenants are, is the question. Some, adhering to the marginal reading of the text, understand the two Testaments, or the old and the new dispensations of grace, so beautifully contrasted in the epistle to the Hebrews: the one taking place from Adam to Christ, the other from Christ till the end of the world. Others understand the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, or what is called in the epistle to the Romans, the law
* So Cocceius Summa Theol. p. 596. Witsius Miscell. vol. 2. p. 161, 162. Pools Contin Henry's Contin. Ridgley's Body of Divin. p. 361, 362. Doddridge in. his Fam. Espos. Ostervald's Compeud. p. 50.