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Secondly. We next direct our exhortation in a word to those whose time has been a time of love. And these are of two sorts: either such as doubt if their time has been a time of love, or such as are assured their time has been a time of love.

1st. Such as doubt of it, and yet their time has really been a time of love. These doubters are of two sorts: some are waking and mourning doubters; others are sleeping and slumbering doubters.

1. Some are waking and mourning in their doubts, and apprehensive that they never had a time of love. "Alas!" say such, "many a sermon and sacrament have I attended, but, to this day, I never met with a time of love. Woe is me, that I cannot get a discovery of the glory and loveliness of Christ, nor my heart engaged to love him!" If this be thy case and exercise, mourning, and crying, "O for a time of love!" there are two scriptures I would direct you to for relief.

i. If you are mourning and in heaviness because you reckon your time has not been a time of love or of power, read Isa. lxi. 1, 2, 3: "He is anointed to give those that mourn in Zion beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

ii. If you are crying for a time of love, read Isa. xxx. 18, 19: "He is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him. He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee." He will turn at a cry, as that word signifies: "Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. iv. 16.) Pressing need, that makes you cry. He turns, as it were, at the cry, according to the promise here, "He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry." Therefore wait patiently, hopefully, and carefully for him, who has either begun, or is beginning the good work.

2. Some are sleeping and slumbering doubters, that have had & time of love, but now it is out of sight by reason of their backsliding and leaving their first love. To you I would say,

i. O remember whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do thy first works! Consider what answer you will have to these questions. What iniquity have you found in him, that you have gore far from him? Have you seen anything in Christ to alienate your affections from him? Was he ever worse than his word? Or, is there any uncomeliness in his way? What comeliness have you seen in other lovers? Have you found any other object like him? Is there any amongst the creatures that can do for you what he has done? Can the world give you that which he has to give you? Do you find rest and satisfaction to your heart and conscience else. where? What sweet days had you once, when your heart went out after him? Could you not then have said, “My beloved is mine, and his desire is towards me, and the desire of my soul is towards him," when he brought you to the banqueting-house and displayed his banner of love over you, making you to drink of the spiced wines? May not a reflection upon these sweet days you had, when his candle shined upon you, break your heart that now you are set to the back of the door, and say, "O that it were with me as in months past"? What sad days have you had since you departed from him, and were shut out of doors, and had a screen drawn be

tween him and you? What a sad change is there, when you lack that sweet communion with him that once you had! O then, remember whence you have fallen.

ii. Return to him, saying, "I will go and return to my first husband. Return, ye backsliding children, though you have played the harlot with many lovers, for I am married unto you, saith the Lord. I hate putting away. I am God, and change not; therefore you are not consumed." Return, for he stands ready to heal your backslidings.

To both sorts, whether you be waking or sleeping Christians, to whom a time of love is dubious, I would exhort you to hear his loving cries after you, and let it be followed with your cries after him.

1. Hear HIS loving cries after you. One cry he sends after you is that of the angels: "Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy; for to you is born a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. To you a child is born, to you a Son is given." (Luke ii. 10.) Another cry after you is that: "Behold! I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in, and sup with him, and he with me." (Rev. iii. 20.) He is seeking to sup with you, to have communion with you, and you with him. I am knocking at the door of your understanding, at the door of your wills, at the door of your hearts and affections. Do you not hear me knocking? Another call is that: "Open to me, my sister, my spouse, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." (Song v. 2.) I have suffered the midnight shower and storm of divine wrath for you; it fell on my head. I have suffered for you, and now I am here ready to apply the blessing of my blood. Open to me; I own you for my love, my dove, and my undefiled, having no spot but what my grace shall cover. Another cry is that: "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him." (Song iii. 11.) He is holding forth the sceptre to thee to go forth by faith and take a view of him, till your heart be fully satisfied. O come, taste and see; come and see him; see what he has done for you, what he is doing for you, and what he will do for you. Another cry is that: "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." (John i. 29.) Are your sins great and many? yet, O let no sin keep you away! "The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin;" there is infinite virtue in that blood for making you perfectly clean. Another cry is that: "All things are ready, come unto the marriage." (Matt. xxii. 4.) O were you never married to the Son of God? Come, and be the bride, the Lamb's wife; give your heart and hand to him, and take hold of him for your Head, Husband, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Or, have you been already married to Christ? O come and get confirmation; get a new token of his love; come to the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Another cry is, in case you think it is not a free wedding, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye; buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." (Isa. lv. 1.) The poorer you are, the welcomer to the market. No money here is good price. Here is grace and glory freely: "Whosever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." But, are you yet sighing under the burden of sin and guilt? Then

another cry is, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. xi. 28.) Come and get rest to your minds in him who, as a Prophet, is the wisdom of God; come and get rest to your conscience in him who, as a Priest, is the righteousness of God; come and get rest to your hearts in him who, as a King, is the power of God, and has all the riches of divine fulness in him. Another cry that he is sending after you is, "Return, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you, and I will heal your backslidings." (Jer. iii. 14, 22.) As if he had said, "However grievously you have revolted and rebelled from the womb unto this moment, all bygones shall be bygones; only henceforth let it be a bargain between you and me, an everlasting bargain never to be forgotten." Another cry after you is, "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, and in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." (Song ii, 14.) "Do not hide your face from me for shame," might he say; not blush to look to me, nor be afraid to speak to me. Come boldly to my throne of grace, for I delight to hear thy voice of prayer and praise, though it be but a mourning like a dove; and I delight to see you come boldly and confidently, depending upon me. need not fear to face me, for I am your kindly suitor; come, trembling dove, and flee into my bosom." Hear his loving cries after you.



(2.) Let it be followed with an echo from you, even with a loud cry after him. I will tell you some of the cries you may send after him. One is, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." (Ps. xxv. 11.) Let not your great sin hinder your crying after him, but be made an argument, inducing you to cry after him more ardently and fervently. Another cry is, "O bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, and they shall melt." (Ps. cxliv. 5.) Mountains are in the way, but let them skip like lambs, and the little hills like rams, at the presence of the Lord. Another cry you may send after him is, "Draw me, we will run after thee." (Song i. 4.) "Put forth thy drawing power; for I cannot come, I cannot move, I cannot stir without thee; but I promise to run if thou draw." Another cry you may send after him, is that of blind Bartimeus, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." (Mark x. 51.) "O enlighten my eyes, that I may know the mysteries of the gospel, that I may see the glory, grace, and love of Christ." Another cry is, "Return, O Lord, how long? O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may be glad and rejoice all our days." (Ps. xc. 13, 14.) "Thou hast an infinite ocean of mercy, O let the waves of the ocean reach my soul! Pardoning "Till the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." (Song ii. 17.) “I want ability to mount up the hills of sin, guilt, and difficulty between thee and me; but it is the glory of the roe to ascend the rocks and mountains. O get glory this way! Another cry is, "Awake, O north wind; come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live." (Song iv. 16.) "O send the promised Spirit like water upon the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." Another cry you should give after him that is thus crying on you, is, "Behold, we come

mercy, purifying mercy." Another cry is,

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unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God;" (Jer. iii. 22;) and with the poor man in the gospel, "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief." "O send forth thy light and thy truth to lead me."

2dly. We come next to address ourselves to those who are more assured their time has been a time of love. I offer these four advices following:

1. Do not deny or disown the time of love; beware of questioning if ever such a time went over you. Do not deny it to your fellowChristians, that you may have it to say, "Come hither all ye that fear God; and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul." Do not deny it to God, that you may have it to say, "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, thou art my Lord;" and that you may maintain your confidence before him.


2. In all time coming remember the time of love, for it may be very serviceable to you. In the time of temptation remember the the time of love, wherein God becomes forthcoming, that, with the temptation, he would give a way of escape. In the time of tribulation remember the time of love, when it was secured that he would be with you in trouble. In time of desertion rememher the time of love, wherein it was promised he would never leave you nor forsake you. In time of defection and backsliding remember the time of love, wherein it was secured that he would heal your backslidings, and love you freely, and restore your soul. In time of want and poverty remember the time of love, when you were made to believe that your God should supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus. In the time of reproach for his sake, remember the time of love, wherein it was insured that, "If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon you." In the time of man's wrath, rage, and persecuting fury, remember the time of love, wherein it was secured that the wrath of man should praise him, and that the remainder of his wrath he would restrain. In the time of divine wrath, heavy judgments, and gloomy, terrible dispensations, remember the time of love, wherein it was promised, that though for a small moment he had forsaken thee, yet with great mercies he would gather thee. See Isa. liv. 7, 8. In a time of sin and corruption prevailing, remember the time of love, wherein you were made to say, "Though iniquities prevail, yet as for our transgressions thou wilt purge them away." In a time of sorrow and heaviness, remember the time of love, and then you may be led to say, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him." In a time of danger, remember the time of love, as did the apostle, "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust, that he will yet deliver us." (2 Cor. i. 9, 10.) "He delivered me from the paw of the lion, and mouth of the bear, and will he not deliver from the hand of this uncircumcised Philistine?" In a time of diffidence and distrust, remember the time of love, as a notable means and motive to faith, "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." (Lam. iii. 21.) This; what is it he recalls to mind? Even the time of love and mercy that follows: "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness." (Ver. 22, 23.) In a time of darkness, remember

the time of love, and then you may say, "Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness." In a time of deadness, remember the time of love, and say, "Quicken thou me, according to thy word." In a time of weakness, remember the time of love, and the words of love: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." In a time of death, remember the time of love, and in the believing remembrance thereof you may say, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

3. Has ever your time of need been his time of love. Then in all future times of need come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may find grace to help in time of need; for, the time of love, in times of need formerly, secures his loving help in all time of need to come; only observe these rules about help in time of need:

i. That your expectation of things not necessary, or absolutely needful, may fail you. You may be in a delusion in your expectation of certain out-gates you would have, and of sensible comforts at all times; but you shall never be in a delusion in your expectation of needful help from the throne of grace; for the matchless God of Jeshurun rides in heaven for the help of his people, and in his excellency on the sky. (Deut. xxxiii. 26.)

ii. That needful help and support comes from the same throne from which sensible comforts come. It is remarkable, you are called to come boldly to that throne, for these things you may be always sure to find there, namely, "Mercy and grace to help in time of need." You are not assured always of sensible comforts there; be content of support promised in time of need, and remember, it is no little mercy to get a little help; that the same love may be read in the meanest, lowest measure of grace and mercy that is to be read in the greatest; they come from the same fountain, the same throne of grace.

iii. That they that get this help may lay their account, notwithstanding, to be kept weak and infirm. Look not for such help in this world as shall make you no more poor and needy beggars at the throne of grace. Help and assistance, you know, is for weak and infirm people. Look not for help that will make you better stored in yourselves than you were before; you must be kept poor and needy, that the Lord may think upon you, as the psalmist says, Ps. xl. 17., and as it is, Dan. xi. 34. You must be content to be holpen with a little help, and kept from crushing, though you be holden in the dust: "Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." (2 Cor. iv. 8, 9.) Lay your account, though you get help, that, as it finds you weak, so it will keep you weak in yourselves, and yet do your turn.

iv. Help is given to them who have their hand at a turn. We do not speak of helping or assisting such as desire and endeavour to do nothing themselves; so here, expect not help but in God's way, and about his hand, and his throne; aiming at duty, though yon are not able to go through it. When thy heart is overwhelmed, and yet thou art crying; when thou art sinking, it is in that posture needful help uses to be given. (Ps. lxi. 1, 2.)

v. That help comes not, and is not to be expected, till a time of

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