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HOLINESS THE WAY OF SAFETY.
1 PETER III. 13. *
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
You are not wholly ignorant, my friends, of those distracting hurries and confusions, which at this day do fill the world: you have heard once and again, of these rumours of wars that are amongst us. Though we ourselves feel but little, compared with what others do, and meet with few pressing perplexities, in comparison of some that are daily groaning and mourning, being almost crushed with their heavy burdens; yet so much we know by undoubted reports, as, one would think, should be sufficient to alarm our fears and quicken us to our duty, were not our hearts as hard as they really are.
The great and all-wise governor of the world, is alarming the inhabitants who are in it by his stupendous and amazing providences; the dispensations we are under, are very awful and majestic. The spurious brood of Babylon, is contending by all possible methods to enlarge their antichristian territories, and deluge the world by a flood of popery; the beast that hath many heads and horns, hath them all at work. Behold a confederacy betwixt hell, Rome, and France; these, with their accomplices, are joined in a league to extirpate the precious sons of Zion, The substance of what was preached at Pontefract on two Lord's days, namely, Feb. 5th, and 19, 1692-3.
who are comparable to fine gold, and to extend the dominions of Beelzebub, the prince of darkness. Troops of infernal forces, headed and commanded by the hellish Abaddon, are ranging up and down the earth to dethrone, if it were possible, the King of heaven. However, no stone will be unturned, no means unattempted, to destroy his subjects that are upon the earth; for those that have got to glory, are removed safe out of the reach and gun-shot of the devil's imps. The enemies of the Lord and of his Christ, being filled with satanical rage, are unwearied in their endeavours to pull down God's sanctuary, to lay waste his heritage, to root out his people and interest, to turn his church, that pleasant Eden, into a howling and desolate wilderness.
These things, ringing in our ears, speak loudly to us to look about us. Surely it is the duty, and will be the care of all those that would not prove themselves fools at last, to seek out for shelter and security, when there is ground to fear that the furious storms of divine wrath are approaching. None, surely, will be so stupid and sottish as to charge us with folly, if we do industriously consult our own safety at such a time. We should be concerned to take the best course for our own preservation; and, what that is, the words of the text will inform you, namely, to follow that which is good. To be walking in the way of duty, which the Lord hath chalked out for us, is the most likely way to have protection, amidst outward confusions and threatening calamities. When there is a calm within, storms without will not be so likely to unhinge us. Outward enemies, with all their diabolical stratagems, will not be so frightful, when our lusts and corruptions, that are our inward and therefore our greatest enemies, have lost their power. Our holiness will be the best defence that we can make, as will be evident in the prosecution of the words we have read to you, to which now we shall gradually approach.
The penman of this epistle had to do with the Jews; the charge of those of the circumcision was committed to him, and he was accordingly concerned for them. He could not visit. them all in person, because they were dispersed into so many and such remote regions; his tongue could not reach them, but his pen must; therefore he writes this epistle, that it might find them out in their several places of abode, chap. i. 1. The apostle's design here is, partly to confirm those saints in the belief of the gospel, and to testify that the doctrine of the grace of God through Christ, which they had embraced and did profess, was indeed infallibly true, being the same that had been preached by the prophets to the fathers of the old tes