... Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.—Revelation 15.3.
TIMES OF PERSECUTION IN SCOTLAND,
SUFFERERS FOR THE ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST.
Sermons & Lectures by Alexander Shields.
"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."2 Cor. 5.11.
MY friends, it is a great mercy that ye have the gospel in this land. Oh, but it be an inexpressible mercy! But what account will ye give before the tribunal of the great God of heaven, of all the preaching ye have heard. I fear ye will make but a sad account of them all when arrested before Him.
Here we have an account of the instruments He makes use of to carry this gospel. He has thought fit to commit this treasure to earthen vessels. It may be, some may think, seeing it is so, that He will not make use of the great and noble men in this noble office, but out of His low condescension He hath called a company of poor fishermen unto this noble employment. This is a great wonder indeed. Some may think, that seeing He was pleased to confer this great dignity upon poor mean men, that then He would keep them from trouble and suffering while here below.
But His thoughts are not like men's thoughts, for it hath been the lot of the Church of God in all ages to be a lot of trouble, both inward, as having the care of all the churches (as this apostle had), and also outward toil and persecution from the world. But if this hath been their lot in all ages, what shall bear them up under it? Why may they not lie aside? Why may they not leave that work? But there are three things that hold them to it, so that they cannot get it laid aside:(1.) Truth, (2.) Fear, and (3.) Love. These three constrain them unto this work. And
1. Faith puts to it, and holds up under it; for all things "are manifest in his sight; they believed, and they spake." O Sirs, if ye had the faith of the worth and preciousness of this gospel, it would make you trample upon all opposition. And
(1.) They have the faith of an overcoming day, when they shall be made victorious over all their enemies, and shall get "crowns of life, and palms in their hands." Oh, the hope of the coronation day will bear you up in all your straits and difficulties, so that ye will never count all these losses and afflictions. And
(2.) They have the faith of the dissolution of this tabernacle of clay. Ye see by many examples that ye have a frail, failing tabernacle carrying about with you, and when that falls down, well are those that have that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, to go unto! O Sirs, the sense of your dissolution should put you to it in time.
(3.) They have the faith of an inheritance to be enjoyed above that will be their own. Ye have but borrowed inheritances here; hence ye look as pilgrims on the earth, and that makes you seek the inheritance of the people of God, that new Jerusalem where your inheritance is. To it they look, and they shall go in and come out no more, being inhabitants and citizens of heaven.
(4.) There is the testimony of the Spirit that puts them upon this work, and oh, but this be a pressing argument to set about it! The hope of this will make them bold and confident in carrying on His message. And
(5.) The faith of their appearing before God to give an account of their faithfulness in this work of the gospel; and what a sad appearance, will it be to those who have not been faithful in their Master's charge, and who dare not say they have obeyed His command in preaching "in season and out of season to edify the Church of God." But it will be a pleasant appearance to them that have been faithful in His matters. They may lay claim unto Him as their Lord and Master at that day. A
2. Thing that puts them to preach that gospel is fear. The fear and terror of the Lord should persuade men to be faithful in dealing freely with people about their souls' case and condition. I say, this fear of the Lord should put ministers to their duty, to preach the gospel freely, lest He require the souls of the people at their hands, and condemn them for unfaithfulness, in not speaking the truth without dissimulation. The
3. Thing that should put ministers to their duty, is a principle of love that constrains them. If we and ye be His people, set about this work publicly of preaching and hearing the gospel.
But now to speak to this clause or member of the verse, "Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," I shall
I. We shall show you what this terror of the Lord is; and it is a thing that there is no true Christian who does not know something of it. It would signify more than an ordinary fear, and it may have a twofold explanation:
- Show you what this terror of the Lord is.
- I shall show you what way it will persuade men.
1st, It may be taken for the whole duty of man unto the Lord, as it is said, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever." But we shall not speak of this sense of it here at present. And
2ndly, It may have this explanation, that they will be afraid to let sin lie upon their brother, and if ye knew aught of true religion and the nature of sin, certainly it will make you be diligent for the good of others; or it may be taken in this sense, that there is a habit of fear remaining continually as that of Heman, who was in a terror all his life. But here is mentioned the terror of the Lord; and here we shall take notice of three sorts of fear:(1.) A holy fear possessing the elect before (or rather at) the time of conversion. (2.) A reverential fear, or terror of the Lord after conversion; and (3.) A servile fear.
1. The fear that is in believers before (or at) the time of conversion may be called a probatory fear, the pangs of the new birth, and the beginning of a work of reformation or regeneration. But I am afraid, that when I am speaking of this, it is like Hebrew unto the most part of you, if not to all. But I tell you this fear or terror is a very necessary terror, and must be had if ye would go through with the work. Now to make this more plain to you, this probatory fear flows from these three things:
(1.) It flows from that spiritual bondage and terror of the broken law of God breaking in upon the conscience with terrible lashes. This terror makes the poor creature cry out and roar like a beast, and some have been kept under this all the days of their life. Heman was distracted with the terrors of the Lord: "While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted." O Sirs, if ye had a sight of yourselves in that case, it would discover your being in prison, and the devil your jailer, coming, as it were, down every moment, saying, "Now, my prisoners, ye must die, ye must die." Now, Sirs, is not this a terrible and lamentable condition?
(2.) This probatory fear flows from a guilty conscience. Oh, that will shake a poor man or woman terribly, and gnaw upon the conscience inwardly, and make one cry out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" We have wronged the Lord of glory, and have pierced Him with our sins, and now what shall we do? We are lost. We have crucified and slain the Lord of glory. Now, Sirs, are ye come unto this yet? I say, until ye see your lost state and conditionuntil ye see yourselves undone ye shall never rightly come unto Christ. Ye find this in the jailer, who, when he got a touch of the terror of the Lord, despaired in haste, and would have stabbed himself, and then Paul cried out, "Do thyself no harm." Then he said, "What shall I do to be saved?" and became most serviceable unto them. And
(3.) This probatory fear flows from a sense of the Lord's displeasure. The apostle Paul was three days under this terrora pretty while to be without sight. He was going to Damascus to destroy the Church of God, as a vagabond or dragoon; but he had that to say, which many of the persecutors have not to excuse themselves with now, that he did it ignorantly. But the voice came to him, and said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Then he fell down and said, "Who art thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." O Sirs, when were ye in such a case or condition as this?
2. There is a reverential fear in believers after conversion, and this is a saving grace also: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land." O Sirs, here is a pleasant promise to build upon. He that hath got a right or evidence to this purchase may be encouraged in the Lord, but ye that have not got an evidence to both the sealed and open purchase, you have no interest in Him. Now, to explain this a little unto you, we shall enquire wherein this fear consists. And
(1.) This fear consists in our having high thoughts of God. Oh, but there will be high and gracious thoughts of that Glorious One! Oh, but He will be much contemplated by the poor creature, when it is made to see and have a sense of its own unworthiness, and the greatness of the power and glory of God! But
(2.) It consists in the habitual impression of the glory of God. And oh, but it is pleasant to a sensible soul to meditate upon His glory and His holiness! "Teach me thy ways," says the psalmist. They must have their hearts stayed on God. It must not be a transient thought only, but it must abide; it must become, as it were, a natural or habitual impression of that glory in the heart.
(3.) It consists in a dutiful regard to the Lord's wisdom and wise dealings in His works. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. "This is opposite to the fear of man that bringeth a snare."
3. There is (or must be) a sort of servile fear or terror. And this is twofold.
(1.) There is a proving terror to discover their weakness, when He strikes in with fear upon the soul to make them flee in unto their strength. Such a sight of that glory as Moses got on mount Sinai, when the law was given, was a terrifying sight. Man cannot stand when he gets a sight of that glory; yea, the very angels must be veiled when that glory shines upon them, and they have wings to cover their faces with.
(2.) It is a terrifying fear or terror when they have the apprehension of the Lord's coming to the land with His judgments. Then it strikes in with terror: "O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid." Here the prophet got a vision (or view) of the Lord's coming with judgments, and he could not stand; nay, many of His worthy servants, when they got a view of the judgments that were and are coming on this land, were made to tremble and shake before Him. And this I fear is sometimes incident to the people of God, because they see the hand of the Lord, and it makes them afraid. This is not a slavish fear. When David saw terrible days coming, the sight made fearfulness and trembling come upon him. So that ye see what great fear comes on the Lord's. people. Oh, says he, "Horror hath overwhelmed me," when he saw the wickedness of Saul's court, and the sins of the land. O Sirs, it is a sad token when ye cannot be rightly affected with the sins of the enemies. If ye be not grieved for the indignities God hath gotten, and is getting, in this land at this day, ye have no true love in exercise, and ye but deceive yourselves.
But I may add, there is a fear or terror that comes upon the people of God by desertion, or the hidings of His face. He is not their enemy, but He, as it were, frowns upon them, and that makes them fear. This fear made Job cry out. "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?" And, says Jeremiah, "Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil." Here was a fear for the hiding of His face by desertion.
But again: There is a terror that is incident to the reprobate. This is not the terror that the godly are liable unto, but the wicked. Says the prophet, "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites." They have the corroding of a guilty conscience; and that is the earnest of torment, as well as peace of conscience is the earnest of the peaceable inheritance in heaven to the godly. Now, it may be, some may take this slavish fear for the fear of the Lord. We shall therefore show you wherein they differ. And
(1.) The fear of the Lord consists with the love of God, and the love of God is always careful not to lose poor sinners, and the fear of God will be loath to offend God in anything that they know to be offensive to Him. But this fear of God the hypocrite or unbeliever knows nothing of, and his unbelieving is the cause of his hatred of God; and for contempt of God's justice this judgment is to be inflicted upon him. A
(2.) Difference is, that the fear of the Lord consists with their assurance of interest in Him as their Lord and Master. But this slavish fear leads them to despair. The devils are in that estate, and so are wicked men. But a
(3.) Difference is, that the true fear of God is afraid of sin, but the fear of the wicked is a fear of hell. There are some odious sins that they are afraid of, such as blasphemy, murder, adultery, and the like. But this godly fear will be afraid of the smallest sin (if there is any small), because it is dishonourable to God. A
(4.) Difference is, that the fear of the godly man is for himself, and though the devil be a liar, and that from the beginning, yet he said that true word, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" But the wicked serve Him for fear of their punishment. Now, Sirs, try yourselves by these, what kind your fear is of, that so ye be not found at last amongst those who are hypocrites and sinners in Zion.
II. The second thing from the words was: What it is that will persuade ministers to deal earnestly with people in this matter, and that is their knowledge of the terrors of the Lord"Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men." Now there are several kinds of this knowledge that is not a right knowledge. And we shall here observe, in general, that if ye think ye know them, ye know nothing yet as ye ought to know. But there must be
1st, An experimental knowledge. Ye must know that sin is always destructive in its nature. Ye must know that ye are undone if ye have not the sense of sin upon your spirits, if ye be not at this with it, that that sense makes you lie down and cry out, "What shall I do to be saved?"
2ndly, There is a presumptuous knowledge. But it is the work of true knowledge that is the true exercise of the Spirit of God. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity: but a wounded spirit who can bear?"
It is this knowledge that makes them part with sin. They must have a saving impression that they are undone without Christ. The apostle could say that he accounted all that he did for Christ but little. That is the terror that ministers ought to have. But how comes this terror to be so experimentally known? We shall give you some marks whereby ye may know it. And
1. A man that hath the true fear of the Lord will be earnest to know God, and to know the good he hath got by that fear and terror. David instructs us to fear the Lord; for says he, "I have got much good and advantage by fearing of God," and the mark he puts upon it will not be hid. "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears," and elsewhere, "Come," says he, "and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul." And if ye entertain sin, the Lord will not hear you. David, who had the experience, says, "If ye regard it in your heart, he will not hear you." O Sirs, observe experiences. David was a great man, and a prophet, and yet he had many a soul slip that occasioned broken bones. A man that hath many experiences cannot but persuade others. Oh then, knowing the terror of the Lord, they persuade men!
2. Having such apprehensions of approaching judgments on a land, and knowing that God is a holy God, and that sin cannot escape terrible judgments. Who "will not fear when the Lion roareth?" What then? The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, when He comes to roar for the prey, will make the land tremble.
3. Our sentence and appearance before God cannot but make us persuade men. The apostle Peter tells us that it was not long till his departure, or putting off this tabernacle; and therefore he made it his work to put them in mind of this terror of the Lord, that they might be established in the present truth. Any who know anything of this terror will be very diligent to invite others unto Christ. And love to the brethren will appear in this. Oh, be earnest in this! Dives, who would send word to his five brethren, may be an example unto you.
Now, what is it that ministers should persuade people to do? And there are some great gospel truths that here I desire to persuade you of.
(1.) The first great gospel truth I desire to persuade you of, is to beware of sin. Oh, it is a soul-destroying thing, and a thing that is most dishonourable to God. Oh, that I could speak it from experience! It is a thing that grieves the Spirit of God, and it will sting your conscience one day. Therefore, beware of entertaining it in your hearts. Ye must part with your personal predominant sin, the sin that doth so easily beset you; for if ye entertain these idols in your hearts, the terror of the Lord will seize upon you; therefore, beware of grieving His Holy Spirit by your personal escapes. I entreat you to guard against these your failings. A
(2.) Great gospel truth we would desire to persuade you of, is to take care and beware of meddling with public sins. Beware of compliance with the enemies of our Lord and Master. Alas, there was never a land more guilty of compliance with His enemies than this land, that hath assisted, concurred with, and upheld these workers of iniquity in all their sinful courses that will bring black and gloomy days upon them! Your compliance with the sinful impositions, and countenancing their wrong corrupt worship and the sinful court, and swearing their unlawful oaths of one kind or another, and that sinful oath of supremacy and allegiance that cannot be taken but by wronging our Lord's kingly authority, and that test, a horrid abomination (in a land) that is full of contradictions, and oaths involving in perjury, and that woeful oath of abjuration, little thought of by all or the most part that are involved in the sameall these I would persuade you to mourn for before the Lord, particularly for the last, from what of the terror of the Lord I have found in my own conscience for the taking of that oath myself.2 And oh, that I could speak my sense of it to you! for it has many sad disownings in it; yea, it is a foul breach of covenant by disowning the poor people of God, for owning the work of reformation in its purity. It is a joining with the enemies of God in all they have done to the prejudice of His work these many years. And as ye have to appear at the day of judgment, and would have the Lord own you and plead your cause, then give up your compliances with His enemies, part with the sinful courts and your countenancing the curates and indulged in their corrupt worship. Quit all that incorporates you into one society or body with enemies, otherwise ye will share of the vengeance "that is due unto them found written in his word." Quit your joining with them, and not only so, but ye must mourn before the Lord for what ye have done in complying with His enemies, and also ye must mourn for the sins of the land and all the wrongs the Lord hath got by enemies. O Sirs, none will be spared in that great day of judgment but mourners: "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." Get on the mourner's mark, that you may be spared in the day of visitation for offences. A
(3.) Great gospel truth, we desire to persuade you unto, is to be earnest in seeking the Lord in duty. Be diligent in keeping up your society meetings, and seek His concurrence with you therein. Set up and keep up the worship of God in your families that is now much slighted in these times of defection. Alas! many have given up with duties public and private in these times. There are few prayers put up to Heaven to the Lord for all that is come upon us. Oh, mind all the public and private duties that are bound upon you by the word of God and our covenants in this day and be sincere in them! and mock not the living God, who is a jealous God, and "will not give his glory to another, nor his praises to graven images." The
(4.) Great gospel truth that we would persuade you of by the terrors of the Lord, is that ye should hold fast your profession without wavering. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, not forsaking the "assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is." O Sirs, take heed of backsliding from them. It will be dreadful if ye forsake Christian fellowship. If ye do, then hear your sentence: ye may look for the judgment and fiery indignation of the Lord. O Sirs, keep up your meetings at all hazards, and neglect them not for fear of the cross.3 But be persuaded of this, that the Lord will reprove and is very angry with backsliders in heart, life, or practice. A
(5.) Great gospel truth we would desire to persuade you of, "knowing the terrors of the Lord," is to adhere to all the truths of God. This is the present testimony, Hold the truth and ye shall know the truth, and "the truth shall make you free." We must not be for pleasing you; but we must be for pleasing God, and for persuading you of your duty from the terror of the Lord constraining us to it. And it will be upon you if ye will not obey us or our voice in the gospel which is the Lord's voice unto you from His word. A
(6.) Great gospel truth we from the terrors of the Lord desire to persuade you of, is to receive this everlasting gospel as from God, and not from us that are but poor clay vessels. We charge you as ye must be answerable to God at the great day, and we desire to be free with you, it being the message of our Lord and great Master, Jesus Christ. Though we be called men of seditious and divisive principles, and condemned by the most part, yet we desire to persuade you of this great gospel truth; and especially we persuade you to contend much for that truth, even for Christ's Kingly Power and Headship over His own Church, that is much controverted at this day. He hath His courts and authority to appoint officers in His own house without the civil magistrate or his authority; "and hath put all things under him, and gave him to be the head ever all things to the Church." "And he is the head of his body, the Church." This we persuade you to own, and contend for. And oh, but it be a noble quarrel! yea, the noblest quarrel that ever a poor man was honoured to contend for, and let us be faithful in this.
(7.) The last great gospel truth we desire you to contend for, and persuade you unto, is, to confess Him before men. O Sirs, beware of shifting to confess Him before men; for, if so, God will shake your part out of the covenant. The truths of Christ must not be parted with. They must be both believed by us, and suffered fornot only some of them, but they must be all owned and contended for, from the least even to the greatest of them. Ye must confess all truths when called to it, and not deny any truth at all. "Whosoever denieth me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven."
III. A third thing from the words, for your improvement, is to seek acquaintance with Christ; and ye must seek acquaintance with this terror of the Lord. Why must ye seek this? Because of these four motives that we shall only name over unto you:
1. You must fear God and seek some measure of the grace of God upon your spirits, and that because He is a great, a terrible, and a mighty God. Oh, seek a sense of this that ye may get Him to pass by you in the trying time!
2. Because He is glorious in majesty. Is He not King of nations? Therefore fear, oh, fear Him who rules with an iron rod. Oh, seek to have Him glorified in your hearts, lives, and practices!
3. To persuade you unto this: He is a holy God, an immaculate and spotless God, and will punish all the workers of iniquity.
4. To persuade unto this fear of God, because He is an angry God, He is an offended majesty, He is wroth with the inhabitants of the land for their transgressions and departure from Him.
5. To persuade you to fear Him, because, although He be angry with the wicked, yet He is a Father, and is a Prophet, Priest, and King to His own people. Now, we shall name a few advantages of those who fear the Lord, that they shall receive or reap at the last day. And
(1.) They are sure that He is their alone portion. He is their sure inheritance, and nothing but He. They are His and He is theirs. "My beloved is mine, and I am his; he feedeth among the lilies."
(2.) They are a holy people that fear the Lord. He shall heal all their diseases, and they shall be no more in hazard of eternal death and destruction.
(3.) They shall be safe with Him; yea, safer than among an host of angels. Their strength is the munition of rocks; He is their strong tower.
(4.) They shall be provided for. "They that truly fear the Lord shall not want any good." "He will give them their bread, and their water shall be sure."
Lastly, They shall have this advantage: they shall be loved and pitied of Him. And oh, who will not love to have this fear of the Lord!
Now I come to give you some marks of this fear. And
1. If ye have the fear of the Lord, it will constrain you unto all duty that ye know to be duty.
2. Ye will shun all sin, and essay to stop it both in yourselves and others. Now, Sirs, I dare not but be plain with you as to your soul's case and condition; knowing the terrors of the Lord, we desire and persuade you to close with Christ. There is no escaping, if ye neglect this great salvation offer. We cannot promise you another offer of it in time. O Sirs, take a look of precious Christ that is here offered unto you, and give in your answer and obey His call; or else we must denounce wrath and everlasting woe against you. And here in His name we call you to give in your answer. Now, take these few considerations to persuade you unto it.
1st, Consider that it is a greater sin than can be mentioned to neglect this offer. Nay, it is greater than murder, incest, or adultery. It is a Christ-murdering sin. It is an opening up afresh His wounds again. "How shall they escape that neglect so great salvation?" O Sirs, it is a sin against the law, and a sin against the gospel, which in a large sense includes the law. Ye in the west of Scotland are guilty of this in neglecting and undervaluing Christ in the gospel.
2ndly, If ye consider how little price ye can produce; for it is not over-dearit is on easy terms. "Believe, and ye shall be saved;" take it and ye shall have it. "Open your mouths, and I will fill them abundantly." Are not these easy conditions that heaven and glory may be had upon? Then make no excuse, but close the bargain with all your hearts, and let all your other lovers be gone, and embrace Him only in this gospel, lest ye perish for ever and ever.
3rdly, Consider the misery of this neglect. It is unavoidable. O Sirs, Scotland's hell will be a hot hell, and especially to professors that had the offer of the gospel, and the offer of salvation on such easy terms. O Sirs, will you flee to hide yourselves in that day, you that have been gospel proof, and that will not be moved for all that we can say unto you? O ye professors in Scotland that will not embrace this offer, ye are in as great hazard of losing heaven and happiness as the wicked enemies. You that are not doubting your condition, ye are in a sad case; and ye who cannot read, ye are in a sad case. Ye say, ye cannot get leisure to read your Bibles; but can you take leisure to damn your own souls? And yet if you will not take more pains to read them, and pray to God for the saving knowledge of them, ye are in eternal hazard of losing your own souls. Oh, give more diligence for heaven unto your souls! Now ye have had a day of the gospel in great hazard, and amongst enemies; and ye know not if ever ye shall have another day of it. Study the improvement of the same, that it be not a lost day, or rather a day of accusation against you.
Now, I shall add no more; but only give you a short word of advice; and that is, Seek the Lord in His ordinances. He is a lamb and a lion. He is a lamb speaking forth His meekness to penitent sinners, that come and accept of Him upon His own terms. But He is a lion also, and that speaks forth His power, and strength, and holiness. If ye refuse Him in His lamb-like meekness, in the offers and small still voice of the gospel, then ye shall be caught into the terrible paws of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; and who dare rouse Him, or offend Him? Now, take and embrace Him; and if ye will not, He will come and say, "Go, take these rebels that would not that I should reign over them, and kill them before mine eyes." Then, O rebels, come under His yoke, for there are many rebels to our Lord in this land, that will not consent unto His kingly government, both Popish and Prelatic, and also many professors that have not given their consent to His reigning in and over them.
Now, what shall we say to you? We here in His name, from the terrors of the Lord, desire and persuade you to be reconciled to Christ, lest He come forth against you, when there will be none to plead for you, nor excuse you in that great day of accounts, where we must all appear before the great God; and there ye must answer for what instructions ye have had; and for this day amongst the rest. Oh, therefore, study to be found in Him! Amen.
1. This afternoon's sermon, I suppose, was preached at Barntable, Dec. 28, 1686, Mr. Renwick having spoken to the causes of fasting, and lectured in the forenoon.
2. Here the reader may observe that, some time before this, Mr. Shields was apprehended at London and brought to Scotland, where, after several appearances before the Council, they got him to take the Oath of Abjuration, but he having recanted this, and they knowing that, prevailed with him to subscribe it again. Both times they gave it in his own sense, but it did not save him. He was sent to the Bass, but got out in disguise and came to Mr. Renwick and the Society a very little before this time.See the relation of his sufferings.
3. Here it is to be observed, that however much this duty of Society Meetings be neglected, slighted, and decried by the men of this apostate generation, yet it is a duty not only highly necessary, and of great utility, but also of divine institution as being warranted and commanded from example and precept in Scripture (Ezra 9.4; Mal. 3.16; Zech. 8.12; Mat. 17.20; John 20.19; Heb. 10.13). But perhaps more of this elsewhere on another occasion.