The bowels of Jesus Christ are the greatest bowels to sinners, Phil. 1:8, and therefore let us understand what the bowels and mercies are, Phil. 2:1, and understand what the mind and will of the Lord is, Eph. 5:17, in exhortations.

An exhortation plainly differs from an invitation, {though we see that men have mismatched them, as if they understood not the property of them,} and likewise is the difference from an offer of Grace. It is sheer ignorance in the thoughts of any men to take them up promiscuously; that is, without order or consideration, without any regard or respect to difference. An offer, as I’ve have shown, is before a person, and an invitation is of a person, and is sent out after a person to be a guest, Lk. 14:16-17 & Matt. 22:3-4; and so is an outward call of that person absent, to come and be present. An exhortation is of one that is, to hand, and their stands present upon the spot. The exhortation also is that the person standing present would perform some other act than that first act of his coming to means upon invitation.

Objection: “As for exhortations to unbelievers, all you allow, if I mistake you not, is to exhort them unto an attendance upon the means of Grace, or things of that nature, but I confess that ministers should be careful as that they rob not Christ, so that they rob not the Spirit; and though the work of faith, repentance, etc., is the Spirit’s, yet the acts are ours. So that it doth not exhort to take his work into the creature’s hand. It doth but direct the way of duty, and leave the issue to the Spirit. It is prophesying indeed to the dry bones, but therewith and thereby may life be conveyed. John the Baptist doctrine, {repent and believe the Gospel,} was not to believers only; nor Peter’s exhortation in Acts chapter two; for sinners as sinners must be exhorted to come to Christ, etc.” Says this defence, which as appears by the confusion of it, the defender himself never understood.

Answer: When ministers exhort unbelievers and unregenerate sinners, or sinners as sinners, I Tim. 1:7, to come to Christ for what they call Union, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, &c., they must be supposed to exhort them to come to Christ, either in a mere act of the unregenerate nature, or by an act of that nature apprehended of Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:12. Let them take which side they will to defend their own thought. If they take the one side; that is, if ministers exhort sinners to come to Christ by an act of the nature apprehended of Christ Jesus, then they are not unregenerate persons after that Apprehending Act, nor are they sinners as sinners, but are Sanctified through Christ Jesus, Jn. 17:17, even when they so exhort them to come to Christ, to use their own phrase. They are persons through the Apprehending Act of Christ Jesus previously or beforehand influenced in the Election Union, in the Justification, in the Adoption, in the Sanctification, &c., as it stands for them in the Mediator between God and Christ; and also as it hath passed upon them by vital and efficacious influences of the Spirit’s work through Christ, I Jn. 4:9 & Rom. 5:9 & Eph. 2:18; and so they cannot be now unregenerate, nor sinners as sinners under this Salvation Grace. The reason is, the apprehending act of Christ Jesus doth under it certainly bestow the Holy Spirit, who instantaneously works spiritual life, as himself becomes the secret earnest in their natures of all that had passed for them federally, or in the Everlasting Covenant for them, Jer. 31:3, between God and Christ in and by Christ Jesus, and so by an Operating Conveyance, Christ from the Father through the Spirit, Eph. 2:22, hath passively wrought the change. My meaning is, the regenerate object hath been passive under the Spirit’s work, antecedently to the exhortation, Acts 10:42-43, and not consequently thereunto. Again, if ministers take the other side, and exhort these persons as unregenerate and sinners as sinners to come to Christ, to believe in Christ; and also if they mean in exhorting them that they come certainly, and come through all seen difficulties, then unavoidably, and contrary to their own first principles, they make faith to be but coming into a report of Christ, Isa. 53:1, as we all admit touching the capacity of an unregenerate nature, and not “into” the Person of Christ, nor “into” Christ, as the original phrases signify. {“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;” Jn. 1:12; that is, “into his name.” “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed; and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard;” Rom. 10:14; that is, “into Him.” “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus;” Acts 19:4; that is, “into him, and into Christ Jesus.”} This is far more than a believing of Christ, and so is translated a believing on him, and on his Name, but the original makes it agree with the very mystery and experience of faith into Christ, which no unregenerate person, or sinner, as a sinner, can be exhorted unto, if the exhortation be bounded according to the rules, cases and instances of the Word, as through help obtained of God shall be made to appear. To believe into the Person of Christ, distinct from believing into the report of Christ, as I have also distinguished in my fifth chapter of this treatise, is far above the capacity of any sinner as unrenewed. {“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him.” I Jn. 5:1.} All the faith of an unrenewed sinner is but into some of the report of Christ, and is no more than a natural faith, and so not rising higher than its fountain in unregeneracy. The natural man can only believe some things concerning Christ, but can never lay hold of Christ himself by a Life which he hath not received in sanctifying Grace conveyed through him, as is proved. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor. 2:14. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Jn. 3:6-7. “He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Matt. 13:11.

Oh, it’s a blessed thing indeed to be taught of God to discern what is the fit matter and manner of an exhortation to believers. It’s a blessed thing likewise to be able to distinguish of the faith, and of the repentance we inquire about in the matter of the exhortation, for therein lies the point. What faith, what repentance do men mean? What faith, what repentance do they think the Spirit of God intended in John the Baptist’s doctrine? Jn. 3:30 & Matt. 3:11. It must no doubt be meant of such a repentance and faith, as was consistent with the day, wherein the Spirit was not yet given, Jn. 7:39, to work anything in reformation of manners, above the oldness of the letter, Rom. 7:6, and consistent with the state of unregeneracy. Otherwise, there will be a robbing of Christ, even whilst men don’t think of Christ, and a robbing of the Spirit, whilst men don’t think of the Spirit. {“Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength.” Isa. 17:10.} For if I exhort to an act arising out of the Spirit’s work, though the act be ours, and the work his, I plainly exhort to take the work out of the hand of the Spirit, because I look for that kind of act from a sinner, as a sinner, which I have elsewhere acknowledged {suppose in the very plea of exhorting sinners to come to Christ} must arise out of the Spirit’s work, and so do plainly rob the Spirit, when I am got into this eccentrical way of the exhortation, I Kings 19:9, to exhort a sinner as a sinner, or before the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost shed on the sinner abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Tit. 3:5-6, to come to Christ. Is it not an odd directing to duty, as the plea calls it, to direct to duty in Supernatural Acts pressed upon natural men, and required of them before they are born from above? Jn. 3:3. It’s presumption, not faith {in the very preachers} who dares thus ungroundedly leave such an issue with the Spirit; that is, to expect the same fruit from unregenerate nature, Matt. 7:16, which may be looked for from renewed nature.

What kind of exhortation was John the Baptist’s exhortation to sinners? Mark 1:15. Was it not an exhortation towards their putting forth a natural and rational act of faith into the report of a Christ at hand, and so about the accomplishment of Redemption by Christ’s Incarnation, Obedience and Sufferings to be shortly made to appear? {“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jn. 1:29.} Was it not into the witness and testimony of Jesus, and so into the witness and testimony of Salvation by him, Jn. 3:33, according to the Scriptures? {“Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.} All this sort of faith, and so a repentance that answers it, a man not born from above, Matt. 13:20-21, might be brought unto, for which cause John’s ministry might well be an exhortation in that day hereunto, for what else could it be?

But now all this natural repentance and faith, whether in the elect of God or the non-elect, is nothing to our purpose, where the common faith and belief of the report is settled. Acts 20:21. As to the non-elect, it’s not to the purpose, because the same natural and rational faith now in them, as at that day when John preached faith and repentance, is no coming to Christ for Salvation. Acts 19:2-3. It’s no believing into the Person of Jesus, but a believing into the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev. 12:17. Then, as to the elect of God, the repentance and faith in John the Baptist’s doctrine which the people were exhorted unto, was such as afterwards was changed into Spirituality and Power, and from faith and repentance belonging to the nature-fullness of Christ, Rom. 1:17, and received from thence without a saving change, went into another faith, and was raised into a faith and repentance of a higher species, Acts 11:18 & 5:31, and that belonging to the grace-fullness of Christ, and received from thence in, by and under a saving change, as I have distinguished formally about this distinct fullness of Christ, Col. 1:19, in my book entitled, the Glory of Christ Unveiled. A natural and rational repentance and faith, though it be included in and connected with the Gospel repentance and faith of the elect of God, is very distinct from it, and is swallowed up in it, and this Gospel faith and repentance swallowing up the other that’s natural and rational, II Cor. 7:10, is a faith and repentance transcendent, exalted, spiritual, supernatural, wrought and raised in men according to the Spirit of the Gospel, as it lies above nature under the mighty work of the Lord the Spirit.

Now, we should understand whom we exhort, whether it be such as have had the Holy Ghost fallen on their natures, or such as have not had him in that first passive Effusion of Grace? And we ought to understand what we exhort men unto, within that natural capacity which is given them, Acts 17:22, and no further. It’s a pity that clear Free-Grace doctrine should be ever plucked down and all knocked over the head by free will application! The non-elect have reason, and that backed with natural conscience, which, in some common enlightenings of the Spirit, Heb. 6:4, where any of them are under the Gospel, is the highest thing they can attain unto. Let’s exhort them therefore only to nature acts consistent with reason, Acts 8:22, as the Scriptures do, upon our absolute un-acquaintance with their personal and eternal state. On the other hand, the elect, as unregenerate, are to be instructed in the Gospel. They are ministerially to be shown Supernatural Acts, not exhorted to them, while unregenerate. They are to be taught things above nature, Lk. 24:47, for it is in the teaching part, not the exhortation part, that they are begotten through Christ Jesus, I Pet. 1:3, to a spiritual act of believing upon him. They are to be preached to in glad tidings, whilst dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2:1. They are to be spoken to as the Gospel lies above nature, consistently with the gift of the Spirit for begetting them into a new-born power of acting supernatural faith, Eph. 1:19-20, and that albeit we know not the elect personally, as long as we may know them doctrinally {for therein we know them certainly in God’s Constitution} because the Lord knows them personally, and by name, even all them that are his, II Tim. 2:19, and with his own pure searching Spirit of burning in the Gospel {as fire soon searches and discovers metal hid to the eye amongst combustible matter} finds them out personally, melts them down one by one, {for this I have seen,} and refreshes them in the very refining of them; {“when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning,” Isa. 4:4, “and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The LORD is my God,” Zech. 13:9,} and this so openly under the Spirit’s work, that it hath been carried out personally to our own knowledge of them too afterwards, I Thes. 1:4, in some good measure of the evidence, while he had wrought efficaciously on their souls by and under a Gospel ministry. This is the means in which the Holy Ghost falls, under the righteousness of God in Christ imputed, I Cor.1:30, to work the new nature, or the new life within their dead souls, and to give them experience of what it is to be born from above. For Christ is not first received by me practically, in order next to change me powerfully, but Christ first changes my nature and principles by his Power, Rom.1:16, in order next to be received by me in my practice. It is his direct act through the Spirit which changes me, I Pet. 1:22, and then it is my act under the Spirit which apprehends him in all his Salvation fullness and glory. {“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Tit. 3:5- 7.}

So the drift of the Apostle’s sermons was to find out the elect of God, and in order to the Spirit’s falling on them in the New Life, to beget them unto Christ under the righteousness of God in him, II Cor. 5:21; which fell clearly upon the revelation part, Rom. 1:17, or the instructing part, the teaching part, {not the exhortation part,} of preaching; and there looked for in all the passive workmanship of the Spirit, in a change of the people’s disposition, {the Spirit’s work in inclining and motioning the sinner into Christ,} to come to Christ. Moreover, when by that extraordinary Spirit of discerning which the Apostles had from the pre-operation of the Spirit upon their own souls and ministry after Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, {which was quite another, Matt. 11:11, and a higher ministration than John the Baptist’s ministry,} they saw God’s work begun there in the Second of the Acts, in a descending of the Holy Ghost to work Conversion, Acts 2:16-17 & Isa. 44:3, then they gave the short hint, {repent, &c., in the Name of Jesus Christ, Acts 2:38,} when they saw the Spirit was come, they exhorted to the act; and they did not exhort as men nowadays do, at all adventures, nor make a long part of their sermons proportionally, Isa. 1:12, to all the rest of the matter, {as the manner now is,} upon the exhortation part, but the exhortation then was dropped in a word or two, Deut. 32:2, and there ended in a breath. They first discerned, I say, a pre-operation of the Spirit, for the Spirit had been poured out that day, antecedently to Peter’s sermon, as appears by the mighty convictions, Acts 2:7-11, whereby he saw the Spirit was given to work mightily upon the auditory, before his saying those words, “repent, &c.”

So in the next chapter, the Spirit had been poured out in that great miracle to heal the cripple, before they utter those other words, “repent and be converted.” Acts 3:19. Aye, but when there is no visible fruit of the Spirit’s being given in some places in many years together of the ministry in our day, Hos. 4:10; yet even there ministers will make nothing to insist with a warm zeal upon the form of words, “repent ye unconverted sinners, and believe on Jesus Christ, come to Christ and be saved. Why, sinner, should you not come instantly? What should hinder thee from coming to Christ this moment? Come away therefore presently, &c.” Now as to the Apostles, it’s plain that under their begun speaking, Isa. 65:24, at the first end of their sermon, the Holy Ghost from Christ had wrought spiritual life, Jn. 10:10, and by this means the Apostles before the other end of their sermon came on, discerned how their short and seasonable exhortation upon that discerned life, would rise consistently out of the Spirit’s preventing work, or out of his fore-operation on the means, and on the hearts of speaker and hearer, in his being poured forth that day. They saw also that pouring him forth was altogether in a way of encouragement towards believing, or of a seed to serve the Lord, Psal. 22:30, and in a way of evidence of God’s turning them, Jer. 31:19, to take off anything that might lie in the way against the exhortation. And those wise and holy Apostles never did, as our Non-Conformists do now, Ezek. 13:17; either to sinners antecedently where the Spirit is not poured out upon them at all, or to sinners customarily in a long dead exhortation, consisting of I know not how many hortatory particulars one after another, nor be sure as the way hath been in many legal particulars, and commands to believe, which still have made the perceptive exhortation more dead and useless. And indeed as to the common and prevailing form, I have found it experimentally in my own soul hurtful, contrary to rule, I Cor. 14:4, and so to have killed the felt life of the Spirit, and never to have kindled it. There is a world of difference between the seasonable exhortations practiced in the Scriptures after the Holy Ghost is given to the elect in an auditory, while the said exhortation is dropped in one word by way of encouragement under the gift of the Holy Ghost to faith, or by way of evidencing Regeneration in the soul by the Spirit; and between the common mode of exhortations to Faith and Repentance by way of legal precept. {“But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” Mal. 2:8.} The former is quick and evangelical, the latter dead and legal. Now in the dead perceptive exhortation, they make the nature of the act of faith to extend to so low a thing as the effect of moral suasion, Acts 21:14, and this separately stands in the wisdom of men, as the Apostle says, “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” I Cor. 2:5. Now such a low, moral sort of faith as this, never goes out of a man’s self to fasten unto the promise, as right persuasion-faith passing into motion-faith doth, for I can best explain faith by my own experience thereof. Acts 4:20 & II Cor. 4:13 & I Jn. 1:3. Gospel faith under the Spirit’s efficacious work goes out of a man’s self into the Person of Christ, where the promise is yea and amen, II Cor. 1:20; that is, into the Person of Christ as doing, dying, and as his soul was made an Offering, a Sin Offering, in the room and place of me the sinner! And so Gospel faith flows into righteousness, as Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Now this same going out into the Person of Christ {for faith is rather a going to Christ, than a coming to Christ, since Christ is at God’s right hand,} is far beyond a going forth into the report, though to do that too, where ignorance, prejudice, &c., are removed, the arm of the Lord must be revealed.

But men commonly make faith of coming to Christ {to use their phrase} so low, as that there is indeed no necessity of the supernatural work of the Spirit for it. Eph. 1:19-20. And so while they make it to rise out of unrenewed reason and the old nature, there is no such need of Power for it above the human will, as there is for that faith of coming to Christ, or rather {as I have said} going to Christ, which is created out of the virtue of Christ’s ransom blood, Matt. 20:28, and which is wrought by the Power of God in life and experience. View all the ministry of the Apostles in their own glass which they have held forth, and if the Lord gives you the seeing eye to distinguish of the lovely colours in their ministry, you will see that no part of their ministry as an exhortation of sinners, as dead sinners to come to Christ vitally and spiritually, and to look to Him supernaturally, and be saved by Him, before the Spirit was evidentially poured on them, Zech. 12:10, even to a discrimination of the auditory in a way of life and experience. It was not, I say, before the Spirit of God was poured out upon poor sinners, as on dry and barren ground, Isa. 44:3, while they drank in the Apostle’s doctrine. Nor was it before the Apostles discerned it too.

How then can I take the Apostle’s example in Exhortation, to say “repent and believe, and thou shalt be saved,” telling men that I ought to preach to sinners under the Word, not knowing whose hearts God has touched, or will touch, Mal. 2:2, when it’s most plain that the Apostles themselves, our examples, did it not otherwise than as they discerned God had powerfully touched the hearts of their auditory. Do we imagine, when 5000 persons were converted in Acts chapter 4, {for so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed, Acts 19:20, under the Efficacy of the Spirit’s work upon the preceding sermon in chapter 3,} that Peter did not see the Congregation under a powerful work in that sermon, before he came to the Exhortation in those words at the 19th verse, “repent ye therefore and be converted.” Who can rationally think otherwise, all circumstances compared? For, those influential verses that lead to the exhortation, verses 12-16, do carry such a majesty of Faith, Rom. 1:2, Eph. 1:19, in them from the soul of the preacher, that Peter could easily discern it by what he felt {no doubt of it} on his own soul. The people must be visibly melted down, {there in Acts 3,} in Peter’s eye, otherwise what meant the change of his style and argument upon it? For so it was, as there was an encouragement of them as brethren, verse 17, and this is a mighty step towards the following exhortation, which is not found among those preachers who are fallen into this practice of exhorting sinners to spiritual coming to Christ. And then, the mollifying argument, “ye did it through ignorance, &c.,” as in Paul’s case, I Tim. 1:13; and, in that sweet Gospel compilation and treating them as brethren, there’s the Gospel of it, not the complement. For a sight of the Power of Grace in any commands it, Acts 9:17, and brings it easily out of us. And then when we do not treat men as brethren, ’tis because we have some grounds at the bottom to question, whether from the power of the Gospel they are brethren, or under the plausible form, whether they be not false brethren. Gal. 2:4. Moreover, we durst not treat them as brethren, to carry off the Holy Ghost’s style of Power into a formal Compliment. Well, here was Power, and under that Power of the Grace of God upon these Sinners the Apostles treated them as brethren. And had there not been a Discerning of this Power in a Work of Grace, then what made Peter go on, verse 18, {still before he came to the Practical Exhortation, Repent,} and fall presently upon the Gospel of Christ’s Sufferings? Lk. 24:26. Even as God before had showed by the mouth of all his Prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. This now took off the burden of the Matter from them by mere Grace that God had so fulfilled it, Acts 2:23, and was Good News to them under the same Sermon that had been a means of letting in a sight of their own sin upon them; especially from those cutting words at verses 14-15, neither did the Apostles preach in such a style, when they had no pre- operating, or fore-working signs of success in Preaching such matters, as appears beyond all contradiction, Acts 5:29-33, where no such Signs are to be found. By all it is plain, Mic. 5:7, that before Peter came to his practical Exhortation, Acts 3:19, “repent, &c.,” they were clearly under a Work of God already. If they had not, Peter’s style and way had been of the same nature with his Sermon before the Adversaries in chapter 5, and I say besides, the Conversion of the five thousand, Acts 4, out of this Number {when the Holy Ghost tells us all the issue of the matter} plainly demonstrates that the Apostles saw great reason, from a word, Matt. 4:19, as well as from a mighty Work of God upon their souls antecedently to the Practical Exhortation, to bid them to Repent; and why? That God and Christ might be Glorified in their Salvation at latter Day, II Thes. 1:10, when it should come to an Open Acquitting of these before the World in the Day of Judgement. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19.

And albeit we in Preaching cannot discern so perfectly, as they were enabled to do, touching the Spirit’s Pre-Operation or Fore-Operation, upon the object; yet it we who preach the Gospel have saving Experience, we may discern persuasively, Matt. 28:20, as to some measure of Gospel evidence, and so discern very probably, to make a correct judgment on the true Foundation or Ground of Exhortation. The Apostle’s Ministry was no Exhortation of deceit, nor in guile fallaciously, I Thes.2:3, to come to Christ; that is, into Christ by an Act of Spiritual closing, whether Sinners were alive or dead. Acts 17:34. For again, as to what they urge in Acts 17:30 and chapters 20 & 21, it will be found to be no Exhortation to close with Christ Spiritually, as in our Pulpits sinners have been most ignorantly exhorted to do; but to close morally. The Apostles saw how the Word wrought upon some in the assembly, before they came to the Practical Exhortation to Repent, with any Repentance above Nature; and in promiscuous Assemblies, where God’s Work lay not discriminately open to their view upon all, they exhorted and persuaded them to believe Doctrinally into the Report of Christ; and not vitally into the Person of Christ. Acts 28:23 & 13:38. They exhorted upon this foot, without making a Difference, where there appeared none, between the elect and the non-elect, to believe the Report of Christ witnessed to by his ministers, and to repent morally of their opposition to Christ, of which the Jew was guilty, and of Gentile Idolatries and Superstition, I Thes. 1:9, which by God’s bringing the Gospel among the Gentiles, he commanded the Gentiles everywhere to do. I say, to repent morally, not to repent spiritually. God commanded them everywhere to repent, I Jn. 5:9; that is, to entertain the Witness or Testimony, and Doctrine of Faith; and with it morally to repent. Rom. 2:4. And to what ends, I have been helped abundantly to discover from the Word, in my Fifth Chapter of this Treatise.

As to any discriminate exhortations of the elect, Acts 3:25-26, where the holy apostles could discern the new creature formed, there their encouragement- exhortations {beyond the mere perceptive exhortations} to faith, were immediately dropped, not delayingly suspended till the next Lord’s Day, or till eight or ten particulars off; and then come to a cold formal use of exhortation {as the manner is} at parting with the text. They never did thus, and then further if we consider it, the Apostle’s encouragement-exhortation was dropped upon the new creature, which they discerned from Christ, Isa. 50:4, could, under the Holy Ghost at that instant, repent and be converted, as it actually came to pass, Acts 4:4, out of the plain grounds they had for their exhortation in Acts 3:19. So in Acts 15:29, where it’s called the exhortation, verse 31, in the Greek, though our translation renders it the consolation, it was an exhortation, dropped upon the new creature, II Cor. 5:17, and not upon qualifications of the Law. It was upon souls Gospelized, Matt. 11:5, {or having the very Spirit of God in the work of Regeneration entering and altering their natures,} by the very hearing of glad tidings in a Crucified Jesus, under the Holy Ghost’s work of Quickening Power; and the exhortation was not upon souls taken pains with to be legalized, Gal. 4:24, and in sermons like the drought of summer, Psal. 32:4, made thirsty, without any drink of the Living Water to relieve them. None can thirst for the Living Water, except the new creature; and in preaching, souls must not be tantalized. What’s that? They must not be merely told of water, and brought to the water {as Tantalus[1] was up to the very chin} and yet relieved by none in the pure soul-refreshing Doctrine of the Gospel. {“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isa. 12:3.} The Apostles dropped their exhortation upon a new creature, and did not aim {for they had renounced the hidden things of dishonestly} in preaching, to make sinners heavy laden, mourners, affrighted and crying out of their sins and burdens without ease or remedy, except what is pressed out of themselves by their own repentance. {“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31.} Indeed, as to ourselves, if this be the issue of a sermon in the all Supreme Hand of the Lord, be it so, the will of the Lord be done, Acts 21:14, and let it be acquiesced in. But that this thing should be the design of preachers in their doctrine, to prepare for exhortation {as I have known in some} is all wrong. Isa. 61:1-3.

Now how is application abused; and yet a correction of the abuse of it is so impatiently entertained by some pert and confident men, that they will not bear the abuse of an application should be laid open. No, to cover the old faults still, they’ll pretend in their defence that all use of a Doctrine presently is struck at; and that in my former book I have too much exposed an inviting and exhorting of sinners to come to Christ. Whereas in this book I have been the more obliged to prove that their noise and defences are a mere ignorant sort of prattle. It’s plain what poor work some men make of it in Exhortation! For suppose they spent a Lord’s Day or two upon opening something of the nature of Regeneration, who would think now they should go and spoil this deep Mystery of the Gospel with formal noise? I Cor. 14:8. And yet you shall take notice, that upon neither of the two day’s abode on the doctrinal part of that subject, they’ll ever {for encouragement} drop one word of use; as to say, {if they behold any sinners melted at the Word,} “brethren, be encouraged under this precious work of the Spirit to cast all your eye, your hope, your confidence on Jesus Christ.” For this doth but explain what the Spirit is then visibly working. No, they’ll stay till noon, perhaps when the work is all cold; for the Spirit of God is a Free Agent, he’ll not be tied to Use and Application. Aye, but nevertheless it seems impossible to get them into any of this way of Exhorting, and draw them out of their old method. Jer. 13:23. “Exhort? What, exhort so preposterously! Exhort by dropping a word now and then, as we can discern the Spirit’s work in our own or other men’s souls? No, no, stay, that’s too fast. We be not yet come to the use of exhortation, where we expect it will be more in season, and where it will do more good. We intend to bid you sinners to come to Christ, and believe on him the next Lord’s Day, before we part with the subject; {though alas; some of them may be in eternity tomorrow;} but to speak to you now thus in the doctrinal part of a Discourse would be out of joint. We be not yet come to use. There lies the place, the form, the draught of the paper. We can’t reach so far as that note yet.” Ah! Poor hearts, I pity you of the elect of God! My soul is moved with bowels for you sinners, I Chron. 21:17, and I am helped to pray for you that be under these softly preachers, and these fine silken well spun Methodists. Notwithstanding all this ground of exposing, reproving and arguing down the unscriptural exhortations of men which have obtained, Isa. 8:20, yet we shall see some weaker sort of men, while they observe us striking at any faults in Exhortation, presently run off with the vulgar cry, as if we were against all Exhortations, Warnings, Admonitions and Motives to visible believers in a moral way, {because we deny this to be a means of Conversion,} and as if we admitted of no manner of Exhortation to such as in man’s judgment are in the way of Salvation. Aye, they have slain all the king’s sons! Whereas it’s Amnon only that is dead. II Sam. 13:30–32. Now they must certainly be men of the meanest abilities to discuss debates, who will thrust themselves in to defend the sense of Scripture, I Tim. 1:7, and yet never distinguish of the sense of Scripture, no not in their very Defence of Exhortations. From hence it is that such men, in their itch of scribbling what they have never digested to live on in their souls, Jn. 20:31, Acts 4:20, do at two or three removes run themselves out of their own depth; and it may be cry to come back again, when themselves see, and others look on too and see, that they have swallowed themselves up by their own precipitancy. Well, the Scripture Exhortations in Acts 2:38 & Acts 3:19, were both dropped in a word, Ezek. 20:46, Deut. 32:2, Ezek. 21:2, and dropped upon the new creature, and dropped upon the new creature discerned, which none of our common exhortations of sinners to come to Christ, nor the usual exhortations to spiritual coming to Christ by faith, are at all limited by, nor have any conformity, or close regard unto. The exhortations in those places of Scripture proceeded not from the preacher’s form and notion, I Cor. 4:20, but from a feeling of the Power of the Spirit of Christ upon them, in a way of evangelical discerning. Isa. 28:26. The five thousand that believed under the latter sermon are a proof of it in Acts 3, and the many who received the Word gladly upon the voice of Good News, Acts 2:41, are an evidence of the same way and grounds of exhorting in Acts 2. The upshot of both is, that the exhortations there mentioned had no other subject of qualification meetly and agreeably, than what was the subject of comfort, Acts 3:18, born into the heart that received the Word with power. By which it’s manifest, that all desirable qualifications, such as discerning, yielding, rejoicing, &c., being Evangelical effects of the Spirit’s work, Isa. 35:2, are all of a Gospel piece with its self, the new creature, or subject of them in the workmanship of God, Eph. 2:10; and therein are fitted not to hinder but produce the comforts of the Gospel, in contra-distinction to Law comforts. Matt. 19:16, Rom. 10:3. It’s plain then the exhortation to Spiritual Faith was dropped upon the person, as seen to be called, upon the Election-bottom, and it’s plain it was done no otherwise.

So that other sort of Exhortations are well distinguished in the Apostle’s ministry by a changing his voice. Gal. 4:20. For it was quite another thing in the business of the Galatians, Gal. 4:19-20, for there the Apostle’s exhortation was plainly to a Doctrinal Reformation in a way of arguing with visible believers, Gal. 3:1-5, &c., in danger of Apostasy on the out-works, Gal. 5:5, 3:3, and though he could presently as visible believers exhort them, not to apostatize and corrupt the faith; yet as to the sacred works of power and forming Christ in their souls, Col. 1:27, we see he does not exhort them there, nor put them to act anything in believing, repenting, &c., according to such an inward and supernatural formation of Christ in their souls, to apprehend the perfect Christ of God, every ways full and complete in Himself, and so to receive him into their souls by a spiritual act. Jn. 6:44. For this he calls a forming of Christ in them, Gal. 4:19, and herein tells you only of these little children, that he travailed in birth again {thinking once that the work had been wrought in that nature before} for them. And he does not tell you, he exhorted them to what he travailed for, II Cor. 2:17; but he exhorted them to another thing, and that as they were visible believers in the out-works; and he waited for all demonstrations of the Power of God in the in-works. This now makes God’s Word distinct and coherent in the matter, II Cor. 1:18; for the common huddling of the Scripture and making the places in the Acts and in the Galatians to be all one, confounds the case, and quite darkens the point.

So the Apostle is very distinct in his exhortations to order; for order of the Gospel going along with faith of the Gospel makes men that profess the Gospel perfect, Col. 4:12, Phil. 3:15, II Cor. 13:11, I Cor. 2:6, in the profession of the Gospel. {“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” Col. 2:5.} Otherwise, if you take away New Testament Order, one main branch of the Good News about the Mediator; to wit, all that belongs to Government, Beauty and Defence in the Kingly Office of Christ, is wanting, and the profession halts and is imperfect. We all visibly are lame, deficient and want a limb of the new creature to be well jointed, and put in its place, Tit. 1:5, if we want Gospel-Order. The Apostle therefore took care in all the churches, II Cor. 11:28, I Cor. 7:17, to provide against this woeful imperfection, as appears, Col. 1:28,29, “whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” He could not bear to think of presenting any man in Christ Jesus unto Christ Jesus, that had lived out of church-order.

But alas! Come you to exhortations, and how do our exhorters run quite another way by themselves, I Cor. 15:46, exhorting to spiritual acts and motions in the in-works? This is openly seen in the practical part of their books, and is notorious in their sermons; and then when we take them to task, they either peevishly quarrel, II Tim. 4:3, or else run away without any understanding or distinction to the Apostles, and think all to make them their vouchers. Whereas if we are tried by the Apostles, these papers discover that our own common way of preaching must fall, and a quite different method of preaching must be established. It’s therefore Reformation that I have always pleaded for in the matter, Mal. 2:1-2; and there’s need of it now more abundantly, to rectify the anti-evangelic exhortation that grow almost everywhere in vogue, Gal. 1:6-7, patronizing free-will applications of those men’s sermons, who yet {tell them of free will, and they} seem to be warm against it. Rom. 10:2. Some men in their very defence of exhortations have done it so in- judiciously and in the dark, as if the Apostles had spoken of exhortations in their utmost latitude, almost in every single text, and not spoken of these things distinctly. For it’s the way of weak defenders never to distinguish between a doctrinal exhortation rectifying repentance, as in Acts 20:21, and a practical exhortation, commanding repentance, according to that doctrinal testimony thereof, as in Acts 17:30, for we see the Scriptures distinguish. But now inconsiderate and untaught men huddle them both into one thing; so few of their days have they spent under the Lord’s influences, in a close study of the Scriptures; and this is much of the cause of their in- judiciousness in the Scripture Oracles.

Besides lastly, {which will still more open things,} our exhortations ought to be miraculous, Acts 3:6-8, Isa. 35:6, as when Christ healed men’s bodies of their infirmities, he said by a word of omnipotent power {as the Son of God} “arise and walk, arise and come forth,” Jn. 11:43, or “stretch out thine hand,” and the like. Indeed at that extraordinary day of the Apostles, wherein was a miraculous stretching forth of the hand of God to heal, and doing Signs and Wonders by the Name of his Holy Child Jesus, Acts 4:30, at the first preaching of the Gospel, there were openly from an Exalted Jesus, conversions to Christ, or turnings to the Lord Jesus, very miraculously caused at the pronouncing a form of words. {“And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” Mk. 16:20.} However this was done partly, because the apostles had the faith of miracles, and believed it should be done according to their word upon men’s souls, Matt. 21:21, as well as that miraculous cures should be wrought by them upon the bodies of men, Isa. 35:5; and then further, that such miraculous Conversions in the success of the Gospel were partly needful {in that sudden Revolution} to stop the mouth of the Jews, I Cor. 1:22, by proving that the Gospel- Dispensation, in point of a miraculous and sudden power, was not a jot inferior, II Cor. 3:6-11, to the Law-Economy. {“God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” Heb. 2:4.} They had known the Law to have been introduced by external miracles, under the rod of Moses; and now they should see that the Gospel was still above it. How? By internal miracles; or by Conversions outwardly confirmed by the external signs in the Ministry of the Apostles, Mk. 16:20, Acts 4:16, that went along with them. The apostles under the glorious measure of their apostolic unction, did believe by a faith of miracles, while they used those extraordinary forms in the miraculous age, Acts 15:12, that the people, standing before them under the hearing of the Word, should infallibly be brought to do as they exhorted them, even as many as were ordained to everlasting life, Acts 13:48; and this is written as a confirmation by power of miracles, Heb. 2:3-4, for the ground-work of our Doctrinal Faith. So Paul’s word, Acts 16:31, to the jailer, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Mk. 16:16, was clearly founded upon a two-fold evidence; that is, upon a miraculous spirit of discerning that the Holy Ghost was at the root of the jailer’s convictions, Acts 16:29-30; and, upon the mighty attestation of heaven to an apostolical, wonder-working ministry, in shaking the foundations of the prison, Acts 16:26, opening all the prison doors immediately, and loosening every one’s bands. These things now quite alter the case. The apostle’s, Paul and Silas, Acts 15:40, had both seen the Spirit at work, breaking in mightily upon the jailer’s soul, in a way of life and stirrings, and also beheld the miraculous notices of a conquering Jesus in the very prison, and that this was now the time for the great power of the Gospel to break out in the blood of Messiah, Isa.49:8, crucified and cut off, Dan. 9:26; and here it was they saw God’s work in his arm going along with Christ, according to the Covenant, Psal. 111:5, and breaking out in the sure success of the Gospel. All this put together, Paul and Silas had a full ground of faith to believe that their exhortation of the jailer to spiritual faith into the Person of Christ, Jn.6:69, should most surely take effect. I say, that Paul and Silas, by a faith of miracles of the Holy Ghost, were persuaded that this exhortation should be made effectual upon the soul of the jailer on the spot by the great Power of God, to a spiritual believing on the Lord Jesus; and then further, the miracle of faith, as to the jailer’s Conversion {in the means and application thereof} by an encouragement-exhortation to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 16:31, and by the miracle of fear in shaking the prison, &c., was to work courage and more faith in the disciples, that they should not be daunted at the casting of the apostles into prison for Christ and the Gospel’s sake. Acts 9:16. It was all of it a pure miracle of Grace for open confirmation of the Gospel of Christ; and yet was carried on all along answerably to its patterns in Electing Grace, Eph. 1:11; as that it should be only the jailer, Lk. 4:27, so astonished under the Spirit’s first preventing work, and then converted, whilst all the rest, Rom. 11:7, of the prisoners {though all had seen the miracle of fear, and every one’s prison-bands or fetters were loosened from him} did remain in their blood and blindness.

Oh, what sweet effects, Acts 16:40, must this be supposed to work upon the Apostles and Disciples, and upon the whole Church! The miracle was a means in the hand of the Holy Ghost by which he wrought great things, for when the jailer believed so suddenly, and embraced a persecuted Christ in his members the very first night of their imprisonment, verse 33, upon Christ’s Mighty Attestation to the Gospel both by Providence and by Preaching, then all the Disciples of Jesus had an open confirmation that God in Christ was for them; that Father, Son and Spirit wrought Salvation, and who therefore could be against them? Rom. 8:31. And that God should hearken thus to the voice of a man, Jos. 10:14, as was said of Joshua in the other wonder-working day of old; and could clear up things so to the soul of this jailer, in those words, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” when the apostle came afterwards to open the Mystery of them upon that text, Psal. 51:13; for it is said moreover, verse 32, “and they spake unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house,” in the next words. This gave a further testimony to the Lord’s mighty ascension, to the promises, to the councils and the oath of God, Psal.110:4, in the death of the Man Jesus, to the prophecies, and to the giving of the Holy Ghost. This mightily strengthened the converted Disciples by comparing it with the Power of Conversion which they had felt in their own hearts. Acts 26:16. If any man therefore took this text and pressed it now, merely as a direction or command to saving faith, he is gravely mistaken. For its written to no such present purpose, any more than the account of that command of Peter and John to the cripple, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,” Acts 3:6, hold now forth unto us the same form to be in present and perpetual use. Nor can it anymore be argued that it is so, because it’s recorded in the Word; for the record of it there is quite to another end. Miraculous instances were peculiar. What present practical use then, you’ll say, does that text, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31, now serve for, if sinners are not immediately to be commanded from it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? I answer, that the ministers of the New Testament ought from hence to open the Object of Faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God the Father hath appointed, sent, accepted, raised, exalted, heard and is always hearing as Advocate with the Father, and Intercessor at the right hand of God for all the elect of God unto salvation; and next to open the renovation-act of believing, as caused by the Spirit’s Power and Grace in Regeneration from and under the Father’s Christ.

So you have the like agreeable instance in the fourth of Acts, that at the very time, the moment, when the Apostles having great grace, Acts 4:33, and the faith of miracles in their souls, believed that the people now should be turned, Jer.31:19, and live upon a word spoken in season; and that for the exalting of Jesus of Nazareth. It was done, even as in the words of Peter {in the fourth chapter} to the cripple, or a man lame from his mother’s womb, he having the steadfast faith of miracles, and therefore spake without doubting in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, Acts 3:6, “rise up and walk,” and at a time when believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, Acts 5:14, it’s plain too by the scope and current of the Second of the Acts, that the Apostle Peter had then, Acts 2:14, under the first fruits of the Spirit, a like faith towards the miraculous conversion of the Jews in a great draught of them; and so remembered that his Master had said it in a former word, when the Lord told him and Andrew his brother, Matt. 4:19, that he would make them fishers of men; and this was a further ground of Peter’s exhortation to sinners in Acts 2, to repent, than the ground of it before hinted. For even as Jesus himself {some while afore this in the Second of the Acts fell out} had said “stretch forth thine hand,” Lk. 6:10, Jesus knew that the man should infallibly stretch forth his hand that instant by an out-stretched arm of power given him, which other men did not see. Yes, whilst the word was being spoken, the Lord knew he would give forth {to the man that had his hand withered} the full virtue of extending it; and the Apostles likewise had full grounds to believe that their commands in his Name should not fall to the ground, I Sam. 3:19, whilst they spake in this miraculous form to men’s souls, as well as to men’s bodies, in the faith of miracles, Acts 3:16, a faith peculiar to the first Ministry of the Gospel. The reason of it is, because the seat of Evangelical Conversions was then among the Jews, Lk. 24:47, both in Judea and other countries; and also in that day a remnant of the Jews were to be converted to Jesus Christ by operations openly miraculous, and in such cities of the Gentiles as had Jewish Synagogues at hand, the Lord gave them opportunity to hear what was done by the Power of the Gospel.

Now as to men’s bodies, the ministers of the Gospel at this day would count it presumption, to go to a sick or impotent person and say, “be healed, or be thou whole, arise and walk in the name of Christ,” to a man lame that never had walked; yet they count it a ministerial commission to go and use the miraculous soul- form, as if whilst they pronounced the words, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” {savingly} to a man who never had been savingly healed, the effect of his soul-healing should follow. Yet Peter went in and did thus, who said also with success, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole,” Acts 9:34, “arise, &c.” To follow it then, why should it not be thought presumption, and quite besides the sphere of our ministry {and what is not done by it in faith is done in presumption} to come close to a dead soul, II Kings 4:31, and say, “do thou live spiritually, do thou believe savingly on the Lord Jesus Christ.” To speak I say to dead souls immediately in their unregenerate state, before we have any grounds to believe that that state of theirs in nature is changed by Jehovah the Spirit, Isa. 40:28; yet to bid them in exhortations to repent, turn, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, come to Christ, come to him, &c., merely because the Apostles did thus, just in the instant when they saw grace working, and had the faith to believe that the persons they spoke to, should believe in Jesus Christ and be saved, is certainly as much beside the scope as to say to the sick, “be whole,” where it can be only done upon the spot by miracle. {“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” Isa. 55:6. “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.” Psal. 32:6.} Whereas the Operation of the Holy Ghost on the ministry now {as to these things} is quite in another way.

The ministry of the Gospel now labours more in a way of expectation, Gal. 6:8, Rom. 12:7, to see the fruits of instruction in the Mysteries of Christ sealed, than it works by any miraculous believing, that a spiritual act will be put forth instantaneously, upon our exhortations to sinners to believe and come to Christ. We have no ground {that I know} to believe that Conversion will be surely effected by exhortations to Conversion, or by some other branch of our ministry. Acts 17:2-4. It is not a zealous pressing of faith, or a frequent pronouncing of the phrases, repent, and believe on Jesus Christ {when we preach the Gospel to poor sinners} that will be found a means to convert them to Jesus Christ.

Besides, who has that faith now, that their exhortations instantaneously will take effect unto Salvation? What need is there of miraculous operations by open seals, Acts 14:3, since the whole deed of the Gospel has been generally conveyed and openly received? {“Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Rom. 15:19.} For which cause there being no need of a miraculous faith in preaching the Gospel, since the common report of the Gospel has been spread, our exhortations, like our ministry, ought to be of the ordinary stamp. We must not look for faith by miraculous commands, as the apostle’s urging of faith in some cases was, under an ordinary ministry as ours is. There in our encouragement-exhortation’s, I Tim. 4:13, {not miraculous and perceptive,} we should never exhort to spiritual and supernatural acts, but as we see the Spirit in pre-occupation on our own and their hearts hath gone before us, by a supernatural and blessed work in that very season while we exhort. And so let him that exhorts, exhort according to the proportion of faith in exhortation, Rom. 12:8; and then we are evangelical and right in our exhortations, and follow the Apostolic Pattern; and this is the more needful, since Popery and Arminianism have made such sad work with our Bibles, in confounding spiritual and moral acts.

Again, these exhortations must be occasional, as the Lord sets in with an antecedent witness on our ministry, and not where he leaves men, that they will not receive our testimony concerning him, Acts 22:18; for if exhortations be constant and peremptory, they will be formal, flat and useless, and quite beside the Rule, as the too frequent practice of them upon every subject, or any text, by mere custom, plainly appears to be; when men exhort, beseech and persuade unrenewed souls to come to Christ by faith for Salvation, I Tim. 1:7, or to look to him by an eye of faith which was never planted, nor shall be in their natures while remaining dead in trespasses and sins. For they are first quickened by the Holy Ghost, and then have this eye given them. He that formed the eye, Psal. 94:9, shall he not see to work the soul-life, and in that life to form this precious eye of faith? Thus we see in a few words, how we are to make Christ and his Apostles our rule for matter and manner, doctrine and method, according to the Scripture-Canon, Phil. 3:16, Gal. 6:16, both in the latitude of an exhortation, as to the general nature of it, and the due object of any exhortation in the application thereof.

Let me a little state the doctrine of exhortations according to the Scriptures. Exhortation should not be legal, such as a Jew in the synagogue would be content to hear.

It’s said of Paul and his company at Antioch, Acts 13:15, that “after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” We have read the Law, now you may exhort the people to the keeping of it. The Jews and Jewish Christians too were for exhortation to keep the Law. Acts 21:20, 24. The Jews were for extorting to some natural duty belonging to the fear of the true God. They did not see any need of a Salvation by Christ to be sent to them, because they feared God, Acts 13:26, and trusted to that; and they thought that whosoever of them feared God, it was enough, Matt. 19:16; that that religious fear would bear them out, and they should be happy by it in another world; and so they thought they wanted nothing but a little stimulus to this same fear in an exhortation. They were for no instructions about the way of Salvation by Christ. Acts 7:57. Besides, were altogether ignorant of it, nor could endure to hear anything of God in Christ, but all their flurry was in exhortation! How! An exhortation? Thought Paul, you need a Revelation of the Gospel, an instruction into the Mystery of Christ to make you believers! And {thinks he} now I have gotten leave for this exhortation {as they’ll have it} I’ll take the opportunity, under the Lord’s Operation, to preach the Gospel, Rom. 1:16, among them here in this synagogue, and so he stands up, Acts 13:16, and preaches the Gospel Evangelically in that synagogue at Antioch. He there falls upon telling them what God had done in the Old Testament to make way for Christ, Jn. 5:39, and how he had sent Christ into the world; as all so how they that dwelt at Jerusalem crucified him, and therein fulfilled the Scriptures in condemning him, verse 27; he preaches his resurrection, verse 30; he declares glad tidings to the Antiochian Jews, he does not offer them glad tidings, verse 32; he preaches to them forgiveness in his Name, verse 38, 39, and he concludes with a prophetic sort of caution, lest that blindness and judicial hardening spoken of in the prophets come upon them for their open contempt, hatred, and persecution of the Gospel of Christ. Rom. 11:25. Here now was the Apostles Doctrine, Acts 2:42, and no doubt but the rulers of the synagogue would have been glad to have seen all this instruction, or declaring and showing of the Gospel, turned into a legal exhortation, according to what they had first of all motioned, Acts 13:15, to be spoken to the people. But blessed Paul would disappoint them.

Well then, our exhortations should not be legal, such as the Jews stood up for; nor yet such as some Christians have blindly contended for. For instance, take an exhortation to the practical love of God, and consider, says one, “God is our great benefactor, and therefore let us love God, for love to God rectifies all other loves.” Now wherein are such legal exhortations fitted to any of the spiritual forms of the Christian? Does the Holy Ghost use such language about the love of God? Do they befit the Gospel, so much as they are fitted to the Jew in his desire of an exhortation in the synagogue? Are not the foregoing heads, synagogue-exhortations; and should not such exhorters be rebuked, as they were, when Paul so much disappointed their expectations at Antioch, in falling close upon the Gospel, and not meddling with that moral work of the Law, which in the general notion of a Deity, is written, Rom. 2:15, upon every man’s heart by nature?

Exhortations should be Instructive and Doctrinal, Declaratory and Manifestative, as the Scriptures plainly show. We should find the Gospel in an exhortation, and not lose it there. An Exhortation should be every way suited to the Gospel Profession in the Good News its self; and sinners are not to be told that the whole of exhortations are a practical point; for a great deal of them are Doctrinal and Instructive points; and he that never made this distinction in his very defence of exhortations, hath held forth rather his own darkness, than the Word of God hereabout, a Gospel Exhortation instructs into the objects, principles and springs of motion, agreeably with a new creature-change; and then under right discourses directs to the immediate duty of believing, repenting, &c.

“And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation; for I have written a letter unto you in few words.” Heb. 13:22. It’s plain by this letter written that it is the whole discourse of the Epistle to the Hebrews written to the churches of the Jews, Heb. 13:7,17, he means to be this exhortation. All this entirely taken he calls an Exhortation. Oh! How the Holy Ghost’s Exhortations radically differ from the form of some men’s!

Also, how instructive, how nervous, how penetrating and argumentative, how evangelical and spiritual, how sublime and supernatural is the matter of this exhortation, which this text speaks of, even the Epistle to the Hebrews! The original phrase is a word of consolation, as well as a word of exhortation. Again, was this an exhortation to unbelievers? No, it was written exclusively to saints, Heb. 13:24, churches, and holy brethren, Heb. 3:1, who were liable to great temptations, to staggerings in the faith, and who had among them some formal and doctrinal believers only, and not experimental, who were upon the brink of apostasy, after they had doctrinally and notionally believed into the report of Christ. {“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Heb. 3:12.} No doubt but such an exhortation was that of Paul’s in Macedonia which we find. “And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece.” Acts 20:2. Those times of pursuit by the enemy were hard times to live in, and who can think that the Apostle put them upon work in his Exhortation, without feeding them in his exhortation with the bread which came down from heaven? Jn. 6:51.

Hence the Holy Ghost hath coupled a testimony of the Grace of God with an exhortation, as I Peter 5:12; and an exhortation is explained by a confirmation, Acts 15:32; and so likewise, an exhortation is matched with doctrine, I Timothy 4:13, and then joined with comfort, I Corinthians 14:3. These all do go in couples, and mutually lead hand-in-hand, to show us that exhortations are not only and merely practical points, but of a very doctrinal and instructive nature, as well as upon a Doctrinal Foundation.

John the Baptist himself in an exhortation to sinners does plainly vary from our various forms of exhorting, and was more evangelical and instructive therein, than ordinarily men now will suffer that part of a discourse before any auditory to be. “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable,” Lk. 3:16-17, and then verse 18, “and many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.” Doctrinal, instructive and declaratory truths are here called an Exhortation. Holy and useful instructions in the account of the Holy Ghost, Heb. 4:12- 13, 13:22, are called an Exhortation. Whereas our folk think nothing can be an exhortation, if it be not according to their form and module, a use of exhortation made up into doings; as it is easily seen in the universal crowd of use and application.

Then in Hebrews 12:5,6, we have an account that the exhortation was manifestative of help and supply, of grace and fullness, as well as tending of duty and counsel. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Here is much of the Gospel manifested in this exhortation, because it is made to inward acts under the Operation of the Lord the Spirit. 1. It is a son in the father’s arm that is bid to slight not correction, nor faint at his father’s rod. 2. It is a son whom the father loves in the act of chastening. Psal. 94:12 & Rev. 3:19. 3. It is a son he receives under the most scourging blows he gives him. So that in the very administration of this lively exhortation, it’s both a means to work up the children of God to honour him in all their afflictions, as their holy, wise and everlasting Father, Isa.9:6, and to raise up the children of God from despondency, dejection, sinful distrust and unbecoming jealousies, Psal. 42:11, under all the severe corrections of his hand. {“I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me; he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” Mic. 7:9.}

Furthermore, as to practical exhortations, so far as conformed to Scripture-module, II Tim. 1:13, they ought to be kept distinctly within their own practical bounds, and not mingled with the Gospel of your Salvation, Eph. 1:13, as too commonly they are. Some exhortations that are practical are of one kind, and some of another. Howbeit they should not be confounded, as usually they are. I find all practical exhortations in Scripture {which I would distribute methodically in this discourse} couched under these five following particulars, and not one of the number is an exhortation of unbelievers to come to Christ, nor of sinners, as sinners, to act Spiritual Faith, as men now-a-days contend for the shaping of their exhortations.

First: The scripture hints a practical exhortation, or friendly advice, unto mere natural acts to unbelievers. “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship,” Acts 27:22, to be of good cheer; that is, to put forth natural courage, and not to be dismayed at the expectation of so much danger, as you have thought, in this voyage. To believers and regenerate persons. “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” II Thes. 3:11-12. This was an exhortation to saints. There were some disorderly persons in this church of the Thessalonians. Their disorder was they wrought not at all; they lived idly, either without a calling, or occupation, or else in the neglect of one. Instead of working at all, and busying themselves in a lawful employment of their own, they were busybodies; they minded the concernments of other men they had nothing to do with. Now them that were such the apostle exhorts to a Reformation; and it lay in natural acts. Nevertheless it was by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Magistrate over the commonwealth of Israel, Eph. 2:12, that the Apostle took upon him to make such a Church Act against idle vagabonds of the Society that would not work, I Tim. 5:13, nor be quiet, but run up and down, and do mischief with their tongues; and the stature is, that with quietness they work; that they don’t clamour because they are bid to work; and that they eat their own bread, that they earn what they eat, and not to think to live in idleness upon the Church, and eat other men’s bread. “But ye, brethren,” says he, “be not weary {faint not} in well-doing,” II Thes. 3:13; this exhortation, says he, is not to cut off all bounty from them neither, and leave them altogether destitute, where they cannot altogether provide for themselves. But is to direct your menagerie into a prudent discerning between their idleness and their true poverty. Thus, according to this instance, persons who have Grace at the bottom may need an exhortation to reform a disorder among them, and mend it even by natural acts in well-doing.

Secondly: The scripture presents us with practical exhortations to a common act of self-preservation from the impending judgments, Jer. 51:45, Rev. 18:4, II Cor. 6:17, by a faith into the Report and Witness of the Gospel, as it most reasonably agrees with the truth of Messiah’s coming. God may set home terrible things, and an exhortation unto such reasonable faith, built upon open evidence and matter of fact, is known almost in all churches who receive their members, as the church at Jerusalem did Saul, viz., upon a relation of their Conversion. But this is no exhortation to the supernatural act of believing into Christ’s Person, nor to any other supernatural act.

See the instance, Acts 2:40, “and with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” Not save your selves into Christ, that’s not your work, but is the work of Free Grace, II Tim. 1:9; but your work is to save your selves into the good report of Christ, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and so to save your selves before the Decree bring forth destruction upon others, Zeph. 2:2, to save your selves from the judgments which shall overtake this untoward generation, Num. 14:37, who bring up an evil report upon him. They had a common power of acting to save themselves from the Romans, Isa. 1:19, by accepting Messiah; though they had embraced him but as we in Great Britain embraced the Prince of Orange, when thereby we saved ourselves from the Bloody Papists, and because that untoward generation of the Jews would not exert the common power, Jn. 5:40, therefore the company of Israel present in the Pentecost-Assembly were exhorted to save themselves, Acts 2:40, from the said untoward generation. It’s just as if a friend that is near a house, or a tree falling, Matt. 21:44, should be exhorted and pressed to get off the spot, by a mere rational and natural act, where otherwise it will fall and crush him, with all the rest of the stubborn race that are resolved to try, and keep under it. {“And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.” Num. 16:26.}

Thirdly: The Scriptures in practical exhortation do exhort to the moral acts of professors, Tit. 2:14, that they do not sink below the examples of many, Mk. 6:20, unregenerate men. The design of such exhortation, or the use of it in any point, is to promote an external practical walk, so as befits the Gospel, either as to the upholding it, or the adorning it in the out-works. The texts for this are at hand.

“Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded,” Tit. 2:6, it’s plainly an exhortation to some parallel sobriety and discretion with what went before in the council to young women, verse 5, as appears by the adverb “likeness” {likewise} in verse 6, which connects the sense with the former advice. But that was an exhortation unto moral acts, as to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, &c., and what was this moral exhortation for? Was it that sinners should come to Christ? Or, was it intended as a piece of practical holiness to save them? No, Paul did not muddle the Gospel at that rate; but he tells you, it was that the Word of God be not blasphemed. Tit. 2:5. Ay, these be your Christians! See how they live! He exhorts the Christians therefore here, through Timothy, to moral acts of Gospel behaviour, to stop ungodly men’s mouths, that they have nothing of blame to lay to godly men’s charge that’s against the light of nature.

“Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn {with a moral ornament, so as natural and moral men may judge of the adorning of} the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” Tit. 2:9-10. None therefore that I know of doubt or deny practical exhortations to moral duties, as the Apostles did exhort among their church-members, when they wrote either to churches or to church-officers. But what’s this to an exhortation to a spiritual duty in the example? Nothing!

“These things teach and exhort.” I Tim. 6:2. What things? Moral things common to and incumbent upon all believing servants, “and they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.” Of what benefit? Of the benefit of church-order and membership in the fellowship of the Gospel, Phil. 1:5, upon the Foundation Gift of God, Jesus Christ, in Redemption and Salvation through his blood. Col. 1:14. These things teach and exhort; teach them evangelically, and exhort to practice still as becomes the Gospel, in what is distinct from it, and yet still bears a serviceable relation to it.

In all these instances we see the exhortation to moral acts is confined within its own bounds. Psal. 81:13- 14. It was not any exhortation to acts that lay quite above the liberty or power of the man’s will, as spiritual and supernatural acts do, Phil. 2:13; nor was it an exhortation to unbelievers, but unto saints. These moral acts are all such external duties, Jer. 7:13-14, as are common to all believers. It is no coming to Christ, it is no pressing of spiritual faith on sinners, nor spiritual duties, Rev. 2:24- 25, on saints. The Spirit led them into these under instructions, not under practical exhortations.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” I Tim. 2:1. This again is no exhortation to sinners to come to Christ, nor is it an exhortation to the unbeliever not embracing the report of the Gospel, but to the professor in common.

Fourthly: The Scriptures do contain practical exhortations to practical sanctification. Perhaps these practical exhortations to churches are more necessary at church-meetings, than in mixed assemblies. {“And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27.} “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe; as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.” I Thes. 2:10-12. It’s practical holiness with moral justice and visible un- blamableness in life and conversation, I Pet. 2:12, of which the plain matter of this Exhortation consists. So that yet it does not appear in the practical part of an exhortation, that it is any exhorting of unbelievers, I Thes. 5:14, much less of unbelievers to come to Christ; nor yet of saints to spiritual duties, but of saints to moral duties.

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” I Thes. 4:1. 1. It’s most clear, that this exhortation is not to unbelievers, but to believers. 2. Therefore not an exhortation to sinners, as sinners, to come to Christ, but to saints to walk with Christ, and please him in the external walk and conduct of their lives. 3. For it appears that the matter of this walk exhorted to is practical sanctification in abstaining from fornication and uncleanness, I Pet. 1:14-15, and so externally differencing the professor from the profane, and the Christian from the Gentiles that knew not God, verse 5, and further, that the matter of this walk exhorted to, is practical sanctification, Matt. 7:12, in all acts of moral justice to one another. “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter; because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” This practical sanctification differs from morality, because the Spirit of God in believers does strengthen and enable them inwardly to incline and set upon external acts of morality, I Thes. 5:22-23, which he who has not the Spirit of God cannot be inclined to; and so his may be morality, while it is no practical sanctification; and what is all this morality now and practical sanctification in outward acts to spirituality of acts between Christ and the soul? We see it’s an exhortation to the former, not to the latter. We are led into the former by preaching of power, not by preaching of practical exhortation to spiritual duties. It’s under instruction not under exhortation, as men take it.

Fifthly: The Scriptures abound with practical exhortations to a visible church-walk, in church-order in the Government of Christ, as persons are built upon the Grace of God.

“Who, {Barnabas,} when he came, and had seen the grace of God, {That is, that they were a converted people, and that the power of Christ by the Holy Ghost was lodged among them} was glad, and exhorted them all, {for now they were believers into Jesus Christ, he exhorted them to embrace and set up church-order,} that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Acts 11:23. Cleave unto him as the wife cleaves unto her husband by the marriage-covenant between them. Mal. 2:14. For by the church-covenant in receiving Christ as Lord, the purpose of their heart would be made known. He exhorts them therefore that they would consent to be espoused in a church-way unto the Lord, II Cor. 11:2, who had loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. Rev. 1:5. All this is still fit matter for a practical exhortation of the saints, Col. 2:6, but what is it to justify the common exhortations that are made to unbelievers?

To consider the practical exhortations of the Word in reference to a church walk, they will appear to be both in the hands of the Ministers of Christ, and in the hands of the saints distinctly. These exhortations are put by our Lord Christ into the minister’s hand under a double kind. As they signify a dispensing of the Word by virtue of their office in the Church of Christ. So I Pet. 5:1-2, “the elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, &c.” This was a practical exhortation to practical divinity, as it lay in outward acts. Acts 20:31. To feed the flock of God by doctrine and wholesome preaching, and distributing their portion of meat {in the doctrine of Christ} in due season, Lk. 12:42, is what appertains to duty and open performance in the Ministry. This is proper matter of a practical exhortation, Tit. 2:1-2, but here is no exhorting the unbeliever, nor the sinner, as a sinner, to come to Christ.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, {speak comfortably to them, tell them your own experiences, or your own account, your own succours, your own burdens, your own temptations, your own supplies from the promises of God, and hereby you’ll instrumentally,} support the weak, {and you must,} be patient toward all men.” I Thes. 5:14. For some will speak so long, Eccles. 5:2, so impertinently, so unseasonably, that it will nearly try your patience.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” II Tim. 4:2. Put up all affronts and contempt which will injuriously be cast upon thee, even by many proud professors for exhorting them to their duty. Bear it becomingly with all long-suffering, and continue still to exhort. Neglect not thine own duty, though thou seest some who ought to be subject, spurn, Jer. 44:16, more and more at theirs. No, but instruct them more and more, II Tim. 2:25, in the reason and ground of the exhortation. Exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. We plainly see that this is not an exhortation of sinners, as sinners, Eph. 5:8, to come to Christ; but is an exhortation of the froward, tetchy believer to be subject to Christ, II Cor. 6:14, and to practice certain duties, which {it may be} through sin dwelling in him, he is averse or backward to.

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Tit. 1:9. This is spoken of the scripture-bishop, I Pet. 5:2, Acts 20:28, Zech. 11:17, or the by-sheep {for he had need to be by the sheep, not a non-resident, neither to see nor oversee the flock met in one place} the overseer, as he is called. Acts 20:28. This same officer in the house of God, the pastor in the Church of Christ, Jer.3:15, must feed the flock of God; and when it comes to a practical exhortation, it must be in sound doctrine, Tit. 2:1,8, upon external and capable practicals, let a man be in what frame he will, and not in rotten Arminianism.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22. When souls are confirmed in the Gospel under Christ’s ministers, they are fit matter to be exhorted by them to persevere in the Gospel. So that it was an exhortation of believers, not of unbelievers; and believers were exhorted here by Paul and Barnabas, to walk and continue in Christ, Jn. 15:4, notwithstanding the hard things, I Pet. 4:13, Christians suffered of the world for his Name’s sake; and so were not exhorted to come to Him. It was confirming work, not converting work that issued in the Exhortation. They were exhorted, notwithstanding outward trials, to walk constantly {as they had opportunity} in all visible acts; the exhortation was not made unto vital acts, as the exercises of spiritual faith and coming to Christ are. Vital acts are performed through an Operation of the Holy Ghost; visible acts are performed {and ought to be} by our own profession; and so are fit matter for a practical exhortation.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, {or the faith of the Gospel as perverted by the universalists,} it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you {about a particular in the latitude of that contended universal} that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. And that’s a particular Gospel of Salvation to the people of God sanctified in Christ Jesus, Jude 1, however men may drown themselves in all voluptuousness and licentiousness, verse 4, under their dream of the Common Salvation, that in the issue all men will be saved. In the common salvation, or the common faith, Tit. 1:4, contend you for the particular faith which was once delivered to the saints. The exhortation here of the Apostle was still to saints sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus and called. It was made to saints to contend for Christ, not to sinners to come to Christ. {“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Phil. 1:27.} How many professors then have we in this lukewarm and degenerate age, who need to be exhorted to Controversy! I exhort men therefore fearing God, with whom I have to do for God in Christ, to contend, and not to give up Christ’s cause. Hence a minister is to speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. No man must despise him. Tit. 2:15. {“He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” Lk. 10:16.}

As these Practical Exhortations in the minister’s hand signify an exhorting of brethren to an act of service, in taking on them the labour of a journey, III Jn. 6, unto a Church of Christ, for the supply of other saints, {which also with such like belong unto church-order,} so it’s plain concerning the exhortation in what appears.

“Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, {literally to distribute,} whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness,” II Cor. 9:5, {sinfully to hoard up and spend all upon your selves, grudging to part with any of your money, Rom. 12:13, in Christ’s service and interest.}

“But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.” II Cor. 8:16. 1. God is to be thanked for every instrument of service, above our thanks to the instrument himself. 2. All genuine Gospel usefulness in a person is put into that person by the Spirit of God in Christ. {“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13.} 3. Earnest care for the churches, and for the interest of Christ in them, or care about the wants of any of the saints in fellowship of the Gospel is put into their hearts and thoughts by God. II Cor. 3:5. So it was here into the heart and thoughts of Titus. The next words in the holy text that follow, are, “for indeed he accepted the exhortation,” verse 17, {it is not accepted the offer, as saith the Holy Ghost,} “but being more forward of his own accord he went unto you.” The practical exhortation was to a practical part within its own practicable bounds. It was not an exhortation of sinners, as sinners, to come to Christ; that was not practicable. The apostles never made their impracticable use and application.

Furthermore, there are practical exhortations put by our Lord Christ into the saint’s hands, and that also of one kind and another. Exhortation’s to acts of visible perseverance in the Doctrine and Worship of the Gospel, and to a remembrance of God’s dealings with us in former times, Heb. 10:32, 12:5, and the like.

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb. 3:13. One doubted upon the points of the Gospel, and another staggered at the ordinances of the Gospel; and they talked of these matters one to another to harden one another in sin, and then concluded they were right, because they were not alone, but other brethren too were found in the same opinion. Acts 5:9. Thus the deceitfulness of sin hoodwinked many of them, and plausibly led them away, even as many as were warping again from Christ to Moses, Jn. 6:66, just as some professors now run back from Orthodoxy to Arminianism and Conformity. II Tim. 4:3. Now says he, talk together, converse one with another to do one another good, and not to do mischief and to draw one another into sin. Exhort one another to hold on in the Doctrine and Worship of Christ, while it is called, today. {“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another; and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” Mal. 3:16.} Speak to the strengthening one of another, Isa. 35:3, while it is the day of Christ’s Power and Presence among you in the Doctrines and Ordinances, which some of you doubt and debate, Matt. 28:17, though you see they are made so strengthening and effectual from the Lord to convert and build up others. Talk one to another of what is done by Christ among you in the assemblies, that you may be more warmed, strengthened and encouraged in the Lord’s ways.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Heb. 10:25. You see {says he} not only in the day, how Jerusalem’s Desolation hastens, albeit the Jews everywhere have a longing desire to be found there, Jer. 22:27, but in the same Gospel-Day you see how the truths of Christ get ground; the light of the day, in this Apostolic Morning thereof, increases, which makes things more plainly appear, both for the believing Gentile and against the unbelieving Jew, in the rise of the Gospel and the ruin of the Temple. Matt. 24:1-2. Exhort one another, as you see the day more and more approach, and come on into the higher parts of it out of your late Jewish midnight; even whilst your ancestors with their soul had desired him in the night, Isa. 26:9; viz., him whom our souls love who are faithful, and whom we behold in our evening of the same Gospel-Day. Zech. 14:6-7. Now let not us, says he, as some have done among us, forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but let us who are believers, rather exhort one another by gospel-motives, and holy, spiritual arguments, Eph. 5:2, Phil. 2:1-2, to hold on in the Doctrine and Worship of the Gospel, even whilst others are run back to their Judaism and Temple worship. Peter also wrote to them about the same thing, as we see in the next scripture.

“By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.” I Pet. 5:12. Men in all ages of the Gospel have had a counterfeit grace of God, which is not the true Grace of God. Now in opposition hereunto, it’s the true Grace of God the Apostle asserts, Jn. 21:24, wherein the faithful stand. True Grace is Effectual Grace, and this does not force men {as the Arminian calumny all along has been} but favours men. Proofs and Testimony of the Gospel- Truth of the cause we exhort to persevere in, must strengthen the exhortation, and come along therewith, as the authentic exhortation-pass, without which it would {as our common exhortations do} want letters of credence from Jesus Christ to authorize it. Matt. 21:23.

Exhortations made unto the Disciples of another fellowship elsewhere, to receive and entertain a Minister upon recommendation; so the disciples of Achaia were exhorted by the brethren at Ephesus to receive Apollos the Jew, he being intrusted in the way of the Lord. Acts 18:25. “And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace.” Acts 18:27. This also was a practical exhortation to duty within its own practicable bounds in a church-walk. Thus we plainly see by the pattern in all scripture-exhortations unto practice, that they are made only in matters of religion to believers; and not to sinners, as sinners, to come to Christ. Therefore if Exhortations be made to them, it can be but to a practical attendance upon means, outward reformation of manners, and things of that nature, till the Holy Ghost breaks in. But now men in their exhortations to practice, exhort to impracticables, and so quite out-do the scripture-module, II Tim. 1:13, and exhort sinners, as sinners, to do that which belongs to the very passive Work of Grace, contrary to all Divine Revelation.

Take a short list of exhortation copies, which have woefully deviated from the true original, Eph. 5:13-15, almost throughout divinity. I may call them Arminian expectations in anti-Arminian writers.

First: “Let us establish our hearts in the belief of God’s Being.”

Answer: Where is such a sort of exhortation to be found in God’s Word? “Let them measure the pattern.” Ezek. 43:10. How boldly doth this rob the Spirit upon a highway of formality and common profession, Isa. 35:8, and trodden by universal practice! And how openly, even by men who have professed to travel the highway to heaven, though distinct from a way, the narrow way, Matt. 7:14, Christ, who is the only way of holiness! It’s the God of all Grace who hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus that does establish, strengthen, and settle us. I Pet. 5:10. A man should not be so much as named in point of establishment, where it’s God through Christ establishes by the Holy Ghost.

Second: “The price of Redemption is already paid; let us but take Christ for our Saviour and our Lord, and live a life of dependence and holiness for a few days, and we are as safe as if we were in glory.”

Answer: The Scripture does evermore honour the Spirit in such high points as these, but here’s an exhortation to the whole practice of the new creature, and not one word of the Holy Ghost in it. Dan. 5:23. How independent does this make man in the free will-power of application! How intimately does this favour Arminianism! What Arminian in the world but would subscribe to this exhortation? And yet it lies in the heart of the points they controvert, viz., about Conversion and Effectual Grace. Paul says that he was apprehended of Christ, Phil. 3:12, but here’s nothing like apprehending by Christ owned, to take Christ for Saviour and Lord. Paul owned the Gift of faith for a life of faith; but here’s a life of faith pressed and none of the Gift of faith declared in glad tidings. Paul acknowledges the Gentiles were sanctified by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 15:16, but here in the common exhortation a life of holiness is talked of, and no such Sanctification is shown.

Third: “Renounce thy covenants with sin, Satan and creatures, or else thou wilt never be admitted into covenant with God.”

Answer: What a bold and ignorant stroke is this against the whole Gospel! It tends to set up another gospel upon the basis of man, Gal. 1:6, which is not another, as the Apostle says; for there can be no other gospel than what is built upon Free Grace, and is contrary to the foregoing exhortation, “but there be some that trouble you, verse 7, and would pervert the gospel of Christ!” My whole 13th chapter in the last book, and likewise the latter part of the 14th, is a full confutation of the error and absurdity of this exhortation in the practical part of it, as the 6th chapter and the 27th chapter are a direct confutation of the doctoral part thereof.

Fourth: “Let our loss by the first Adam be an incentive to us, to pursue advantage in the second Adam.”

Answer: It requires a great deal of the conviction of the Spirit, Jn.16:8, about sin to know our loss feelingly by the first Adam. It needs a great deal more of the Conviction of the Spirit about righteousness, verse 10, and the virtue of it in Christ’s blood, to give a sinner a discerning of the advantage he hath in the Second Adam, I Jn. 5:20, especially now while it is so much struck at by men who are resolved to oppose it. And lastly, how can anything be an incentive to a man to kindle grace in his soul, where the Holy Ghost the kindler of it is shut out? Jn. 16:13. Can any man show me an exhortation anywhere in the word, Exod. 25:40, that’s like this Council to the unbeliever laid down? Or, can he direct me where to find any such exhortation to a believer either?

Fifth: “Let us see the nature of sin.”

Answer: A right view of the nature of sin is a supernatural mystery. Rev. 3:17. And then instead of this exhortation, why was it not an instruction into the duty of magnifying the work of the Spirit in his discovering of sin to us?

Sixth: “Let the consideration that Original Sin is in us wean us from the world, and the immoderate desire of living in it.”

Answer: Alas! Instead of this exhortation, the minister should faithfully have shown, that the being of Original Sin in us, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us too, I Cor. 3:16, would be far stronger to make us in love with the world, than the consideration that Original Sin is in us, can be, to wean us from it, Rom. 7:23-24, and the immoderate desire of living in it. Where is there any ground in exhortation in the Word, for such a foolish exhortation as this? Who would think the man that gave this Council ever felt the sad influences of Original Sin in his own soul?

Seventh: “A use of exhortation to carnal and unregenerate persons. 1. Stir up shame, and sorrow, and fear, and indignation against your selves. 2. Lie down meekly at the Lord’s feet. 3. Embrace the Lord Jesus in the force of all his blessed offices, and then go fly to, and lift up thy face without spot before the Father in him.”

Answer. Can any man by the light of this divinity {left us in the world} tell me what Office the Comforter was sent upon? For my own part, when I preached after this rate, I could not have told him what I did use to preach thus. Why? Because I forgot the Spirit. All this exhortation should have been instruction into Jehovah the Mediator’s work, Isa. 48:17, and into Jehovah the Spirit’s work, from Jehovah the Father; and then Jehovah the Father had been exalted too in the salvation of the elect; while the elect sinner had been brought to it under that preaching; but no elect sinner surely is brought to Christ, Acts 11:21, under such kind of exhortations as have nothing of their very exhortation-being in Scripture, Mal. 2:8, but they are without doubt reserved to be brought to Christ by the fit means.

Eight: “Use of a man’s impotency to help himself to the unconverted. 1. Be sensible of your condition. 2. Mourn over it to God. 3. Acknowledge the debt. 4. Confess your impotency. 5. Beg pardon and grace. 6. In a humble sense of your misery endeavour earnestly to come out of it.”

Answer: How few of these exhortations will you meet with in the Scripture! 1. That we shall find that the Lord works sensibleness upon sinners, Eph. 1:11, I Thes. 2:13, instead of bidding them be sensible. 2. The Scripture exalts Christ in a sinner’s mourning and repentance, Acts 5:31, Zech. 12:10, and not merely presses the sinner’s act. 3. In the Scriptures the Spirit convinces of the debt, and the Gospel does not exhort to an acknowledgment of the debt. 4. Men need much of the Spirit to believe their impotence. 5. The Gospel of an Exalted Jesus reveals forgiveness to the elect, exhorts not to ask it, except a Simon Magus to whom it was uncertain, Acts 8:21, and to lay a foundation of outer-court-service from mere Gentilism, to cover the in-works in Gospel Salvation. 6. The Gospel speaks of a translation out of darkness, Col. 1:13, and that men are passively brought out of it. There is no exhortation given them to endeavour to come out of it. The nature of it lies above all creature endeavours. {“And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” Ezek. 16:6.}

Ninth: “Sinners, offer up your selves to Christ in the gospel-covenant.”

Answer: Alas! That is far more than sinners can do. More than preachers can do. More than any exhortations in the Scripture speaks of. {“Will ye speak wickedly for God; and talk deceitfully for him?” Job 13:7.}

Tenth: “Exhortation to them that are not effectually called. 1. Do not resist the Holy Ghost. 2. Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. If he now knock, and you will not open, you may knock at the door, and he will not open.”

Answer: This disorderly use of the Holy Scripture in measuring the sense by the sound of it, is so great a piece of contradiction, as nothing can be greater. How can the people not effectually called open in the free will sense, or open as they mean it of opening the heart to Christ? How can they hear spiritually who are spiritually deaf and uncircumcised, and cannot hearken? {“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear; behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken; behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” Jer. 6:10.} If any man say, it’s his duty, I say so too; but this does not cure him. Exhortation to such an act as this will never help him, it’s no fit or appointed means. Again, how can they but resist the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the Word, Acts 7:51, who are not effectually called under an Operation of the Spirit by the Word? If any desire a large answer to the second and third cases, he may see it in the 30th chapter of my last book. As to those words of Scripture, Hebrews 3:15, they are very contradictorily applied to Effectual Calling. For if it had been meant of Effectual Calling, which is not the design of the Epistle to the Hebrews to insist on, the Apostle had made a plain distinction, as he does elsewhere, between exhorting unto duty, and instructing into Grace. Jer. 31:19. This was a plain exhorting to duty among professors, visible saints and the visibly called ones; so could not be an exhortation to Effectual Calling, which is an Invisible Grace. It was most certainly meant by the Apostle as an exhortation unto visible acts, Heb. 10:23, of profession which they began to falter in, and not unto invisible acts of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ in Effectual Calling. In a word, it was, that they would keep Judaism and Christianity asunder, and not think to try experiments, and make a medley and compounding the old Law and the new Gospel. For they were men of the very same spirit with men among ourselves. {“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30.} And were the Apostle now alive, men would find it so. The Apostle would not spare them.

Eleventh: “Exhortation to sinners not united to Christ. Be persuaded to give your eyes no sleep, your eyelids no slumber, till you are ready and closely united to Christ Jesus. 1. The sentence is passed against thee, in the next scene expect the executioner. 2. A deluge of wrath is pouring down in full streams upon thee, and thou art as yet shut out of the ark. 3. A shower of brimstone is falling on thee, and thou hast no Zoar to fly unto.”

Answer: Sure this divine mistook the title of his Master. Instead of a use of exhortation, he should have called it a use of condemnation; for there is more in it to affright, amaze, keep back and drive away sinners from Christ, than to unite them at this rate! No wonder these men say there is no difference any way between the elect, Rom. 8:29-30; no, not mystically and representatively in Christ, and the non-elect, before Conversion. For its plain they make none. Now in the face of this untruth I exhort men of this persuasion to answer fully and closely the 27th chapter of my last book, according to the textual grounds, Num. 16:28, limitations, state, and distinctions of the matter; and not wander from the point, Mal. 2:8; especially in the way of some, in a proud declension from the labour, who have said it is not worth answering; for I say it is worth their answering to whom the doctrine is accounted a damning error; and they ought not to content themselves to make a little noise about it in their own private congregations. For if it be worth the one, all wise men must account it to be worth the other. If it be worth their while to make a little noise about it in a corner, Mk. 4:22, it would be far more worth the while, to see them do the brave piece of service in an answer for the good of souls openly. And what’s an answer? Why to throw fairly upon the author all the Scriptures, Arguments, and Distinctions used upon the point by him. That’s answering him. Nothing else can be called an answer. No, not the pert squibs and little ignorant bounces, II Sam.16:6, in two or three pages of an octavo epistle, fitted out to do execution upon my fourth chapter of THE GLORY OF CHRIST UNVEILED.

Twelfth: “Exhortation to the unconverted in the business of Justification. 1. We are ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God. 2. Why will you not come unto me, says Christ, that ye might have life? 3. What thou dost, do it heartily as unto the Lord, as for thy Life. 4. Wrestle with him for Faith and Justification. 5. Let him not go till he has blessed thee with blessings in Christ Jesus.”

Answer: It has been shown in this small piece to an eviction of the truth, how the first and second points have been mistaken. 3. The exhortation which the Holy Ghost makes to the converted, ought not to be confounded with an exhortation to the unconverted. 4. What difference is acknowledged between converted Jacob who wrestled with God {though never for Faith and Justification} and unconverted men who want the regeneration-life of prayer? Surely it’s great blindness to put dead men to wrestle. 5. How can an unconverted man, who cannot take hold of Christ, be said not to let him go? 6. All blessings are bestowed in Christ Jesus before the world began, as well as they are again bestowed through him at Effectual Calling. Eph. 2:7, Acts 10:43, Jn. 20:31. Otherwise it is not blessing the elect in Christ, according as God hath chosen them in Him, for his choice made in Christ was made before the world began, the text says. All blessings were so originally bestowed in Christ. So was the Father’s justifying us in Christ, the Father’s sanctifying us in Christ distinctly, before the world began. But men will not learn of the Spirit of Christ to distinguish between the Father’s sanctifying in Christ Jesus, Jude 1, and the Spirit’s sanctifying through Christ Jesus. Nor indeed can these things be understood, nor sanctified unto any man that meddles with them, to discourse or write of them with any holy savour, till the Holy Ghost has taught him {apart from leaning upon the staff of his authors} humbly to submit to his own Revelation of the truth of the Gospel, as it is distinguished to be in Christ Jesus first, by him next, and through Christ Jesus last of all, in the Spirit’s own applicatory work to the called of God.

Thirteenth: “Exhortation to strangers about adoption. 1. Art thou an alien, never rest till thou get into a state of sonship. 2. Be convinced of thy hellish filiation, that thou art indeed of the family of Hell. 3. Make good thy effectual calling, thy justification, and reconciliation.”

Answer: Is not here another very unscriptural exhortation? Can any Arminian give grosser direction in the matters laid down than the aforesaid anti-Arminian? Rom. 2:17-21. What conceptions have men of a spiritual sonship, in maintaining that an alien may never rest till he gets into it? Who is there can be convinced he is of hellish sonship {for conviction is a work of the Spirit} whom the Holy Spirit ever called effectually? And he calls none so, except the seed of Christ, Jn. 11:52, Isa. 53:10, Psa. 18:50, the secret adopted ones of the Father, before a vital call. The elect, perhaps to a man of them, may at one time or another have been afraid that they belong to hell, but who of them ever was convinced of it? This is not practicable. Again, how can an unconverted man make good his Effectual Calling, his Justification and Reconciliation? See my 34th chapter in the former book.

Fourteenth: “Exhortation to sinners to get saving faith. 1. Labour after this faith. 2. Take heed of this gross self-murder, unbelief.” Fifteenth: “Exhortation to gain repentance. 1. Study the Nature of God. 2. Be serious in self-examination, 3. Sit loose to the world. 4. See the limitation of the Day of Grace. 5. Expect judgment. 6. Soak the heart in the blood of Jesus.”

Answer: Did the Apostles ever take such a method, or ever use such matter as this, in their exhorting of men, when they treated of Faith and Repentance through Grace, II Cor. 7:10, by which they are saved? When we say saving faith therefore, it is saving faith, according to the mind of the Holy Ghost, as faith is a saving means, not as it is a saving cause. For the elect of God under the preaching of the Word are saved by a work of the Holy Ghost, from the Father and Christ by this means. How distinctly have they managed exhortations! How confusedly have ours done it! When the Apostles in their Exhortations said believe, repent and be converted unto their hearers, Acts 3:19, it was because they saw the Spirit poured out in those times for spiritual abilities, and so their exhortations in the second and third chapters of the Acts are evangelically founded. Whereas since, men have departed from the doctrine and use of the Spirit, and although they have departed from the Faith, the Spirit {which is plain} is neither poured out upon preachers, nor upon hearers, I Tim. 4:1; and men will confess this, and say they speak to the unconverted; yet they will exhort them to the faith of saving, and to a gospel-repentance, quite beside all apostolical rule or example; while the very exhorters own that the auditors exhorted, Matt. 16:11, are without the renewing Spirit of Christ. They {unconverted sinners} can bodily labour after something of Christ, it is true, as Christ exhorted natural men to labour bodily after the meat that endureth to everlasting life, John 6:27, and to take as much pains with their bodies to go up and down after Christ, till they got more knowledge of him, &c., as well as go up and down thus with their bodies after the loaves, or the bread that perisheth. But Christ exhorted not those natural men to labour spiritually, evangelically, supernaturally {for the meat that endureth to life everlasting} as our modern exhorters have mistaken it; and then by exhorting thus in a natural Arminianism, Lk. 12:1, they have brought down upon us a dreadful instance of man’s apostasy from God, Rom. 3:23, Eccl. 7:29, beyond what men see without the teachings of Jehovah the Spirit. For it is he that teacheth us in these things to profit, Isa. 48:17, and then we shall know the difference between Scriptures which speak of bodily acts, and spiritual acts; of visible faith, and invisible; of believing rationally into the report, and believing savingly into the Person of Christ, &c., for God’s outer court-people are irrationally foolish, Jer. 5:21-22, and his inner court-people do but know in part. I Cor. 13:9. Now without such distinctions I see men continue woefully to blunder, while they continue to write, that they think sinners, as such, are to be exhorted to believe in Christ, and to repent of sin, although thus blunderingly and blindly to exhort they think to be their duty. When the Scripture exhorts sinners, as sinners, it’s to natural repentance and moral Reformation upon such a motive as this, if it may be a lengthening of their temporal tranquillity. Dan. 4:27.

To conclude: The primitive patterns have been so far from correction in any of my writings in the point of exhortations, that the plain drift of those writings have been to abide by the Wisdom of God, I Cor. 2:7, and to bring up men who have departed from the Primitive Faith and Rules, to return, and to act by the Primitive Patterns; which I see without this instruction, and these distinctions aforesaid, are not rationally understood, nor the outward call of the elect of God to come unto means fitly minded or discerned, Matt. 22:3-4, Prov. 9:4-6; for otherwise it could not be misjudged that I reprehended Christ and his Apostles for their exhortations made in the Word of God; or that I destroyed Gospel-Obedience required of men, because I am altogether for bounding it within its own springs and the principles upon its own Foundation, and can’t call that Gospel-Obedience which men exhort to, while the exhorted remain in old Adam, or continue captives to Sin and Satan in a natural un-renewed state, knowing that men at this day do not write upon Gospel- Obedience as the thing is in its own rise and springs; nor when they discourse of Sanctification do they utter knowledge at all clearly. Job 33:3. The mystery of it they are strangers unto, and that seems not to satisfy them of late, unless they are enemies too unto the mystery of it, and strike at things which it’s plain they never understood. “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.” Job 11:12.

Exhortation, if it be right, may come in as a piece of holy needle-work, interwoven with the Mystery of Grace, I Cor. 2:7; for so the Apostle’s exhortations were, and not an exhortation of the saints themselves to any duty, but as there was an evangelical savour shed abroad upon their spirits and discourses. But now men content themselves with so cold and legal a form of exhortations, and so impertinently carried off from Scripture-modules, that even while they give us the Ten Commandments, they are so afraid of the Gospel in that part of a sermon, as they leave out the very preface to the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord thy God.”

Exhortation therefore, if it be wrong, spoils the serviceableness of a man’s labour. And to give any man a true idea of wrong exhortations, I know no portraiture so full of the evidence, as the modern and present use of them presented, and examined by the primitive exhortations in this chapter. And the defence of them has been more ridiculous than men’s incogitant use of them.

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[1] Tantalus was a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus. He was made to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit ever eluding his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink.



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