« PreviousContinue »
degrees of sympathie, and one may have it in one degree and not in another; but if ye be not pointing, studying, and bending to be at it, yc whose exercise it is not to be at sympathie, yc have more nor reason to suspect that ye arc not of the body. 2. Ye that are not about this duty, yc have more nor reason to expect some sad stroak from the hand of God, that sayes this much to you, that ye shall go captive with the first of them that go into captivitie, as it is threatned against them that were at ease in Zion, and remembered not the affliction of Joseph, (Amos vi. 7.) Ye that will rant and rove, drink and be merry, laugh and mock, and take your sport and pleasure, as if nothing but halchion dayes were to be expected, ye have reason to fear some heavie stroakes. 3. Whenever the stroak comes, resolve to bear it your alone; none shall be to bear it with yow. God hath said it, "What measure yow met to others, it shall be measured to yow again;" because ye sympathized not with others, none shall be to sympathize -with yow; ye shall ly under your burden alone, and never body shall be to help yow.
Use 2. It serves to sett all of yow on work to try yourselves whether or not ye have this sympathie. How shall ye know? Ye will know it by what I have spoken of sympathie and the effects of it. 1. Do ye mind the sufferings God's work and people arc under? Yes, that ye do; but it's only when ye spear news. Alacc! that is no true token of sympathie. If the chain that is on others were hanging about your neck, yc would mind it oftner, and in another manner. 2. How do ye use your liberties and injoyments? Can ye now use them at the full rate? Can ye rant, and dance, and sing, and play as cheerfully? Can ye cat and drink as liberally? Can ye swagger it out in your apparel and other things as prodigally, as no distress were upon the Church? That tells ye are void of sympathie, that the plague of God is lying on yow, and that the woe is at your door. 3dly, Arc ye pained and grieved for the afflictions of God's people? How many are there of yow that dar not, for your souls, say that ever it was your pain and grief all the dool and woe that hath come, or is coming, on the Church and people of God? Therefor, ye have no sympathie, and the plague of God is upon yow; and, 4thly, I need not speak of prayer to yow, nor of the fifth effect, which is being in a readiness to do for the releif of the Church and people of God, although ye will be ready to say that ye will be content to ware your person and estate in the cause; ye lie; ye wall never do grace to God's people, nor his work, if ye mend not your manners.
Use 3. Is it so that sympathie is so cold and weak among God's people at this time, when so much of it is called for? Then I would have yow drawing these three conclusions from it. 1. When anything ails yow, pray much for yourself; I assure yow ye will get litle help of others. 2. As yow would lippen litle to other folks' prayers, so ye would make meikle use of Christ's intercession. These prayers are litle worth that flow not from sympathie; and, 3. Reckon all your receipts to be free favour, and neither the return of your own or other folks' prayers. I do not forbid yow to pray yourself, nor to seek the help of other folks' prayers, nor do I judge yow or them void of sympathie, but I would have yow lippening less to them, and making more use of Christ and his intercession.
Use 4. Is to regrate that in a season of sympathie, when so many things concur to call for it, there should be so litle sympathie; sure there was never a time called for more sympathie. And how lamentable is it there should be so litle of it! And to the end ye may see how far ye are in the wrong, I shall shortly point at a few things that will both clear the grounds of sympathie, and will aggrege1 this sin of the want of sympathie. 1. They are the best of the people of God, and the best places in all the world, that are suffering, and so are the object of your sympathie. The places that are now suffering were the places in the world where God was most honoured, where he had most precious servants and people, and this day these places are lying desolate and waste, and many oppressed in their consciences, bodies, and estates; the shepherds are smitten, and the flocks scattered. 2. The sufferings of these are sufferings wherein the head suffers; they are such sufferings as in
elude the mine and overthrow of his ordinances, or interest and kingdom, so that the sufferings that are the object of your sympathie are not personal only, though that would oblidge yow to sympathie, but such as reach also the head, and all his precious interests; and, therefor, undutiefull are we that have no more fellow-feeling and sympathie. 3. Consider that the sufferings that others are under are such as threaten to be our sufferings, and which will very quickly be at our door ere it be long; and if we have no sympathie in such a case, do ye imagine that ever ye shall have sympathie in your time? 4. Consider that for this very end, that we might sympathise with others, God has forborn us; and is there not reason, then, that we should interpose and sympathise with the suffering saints and people of God? May I not say as Mordecai said to Esther, "Who knows but thou art come to the kingdom at this time for this very end?" so who knows but we are spared for this very end, that we might interpose and sympathize with others? 5. Consider that besides all the obligations and tyes that lye upon yow to sympathize with others, there is one supervenient tye and obligation, and that is the solemn obligation and oath of God in the Covenant. Did we not swear to the Lord in that Covenant that we should never give ourselves over to a detestable indifferency and neutrality in the cause, but that the case of one should be the case of all? And when we think on these things, alace, how deeply are all of us involved in perjury! They have been headed and hanged that were dear to God, and we never troubled our head nor our heart with it more than our heel. How many are suffering this day in these nations, and how litle does it touch our heart? God knows if the case of one be the case of all here; and whether or not this looks like indifferency and neutrality. 6. I shall only add this one thing further to provoke us to the study of sympathie: The longer and further we are from sympathie, the nearer we are unto complyance; and I know we shall all comply ere it be long, and then there will be no sympathie at all: for as complyence comes in, sympathie will go out; yea, as thou complys, thou shall be plagued of God with the want of sympathie; and, O! what a great discouragement is it to the people of God, and how ready to make them dispond under suffering, to find others void of sympathie with them. It was a sore tryall to this poor woman, and a speciall piece of discouragement she met with when the disciples bade send her away; and bad not the mightie hand of God supported her she had succumbed under it. And so must it be to others of his people in trouble to know that others in ease lay it not to heart. Therefor, let the consideration of all these things put yow to study more the duty of sympathie with the work and people of God, as ye would have ground to expect others to sympathize and bear burden with yow in your trouble.