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Discourse XIII.

The prophet Daniel tells us, when he understood by books — namely, the writings of the prophet Jeremiah — that the time wherein 402the great contest between Babylon and the church was to have its issue was come to a point, “Then,” saith he, “I set my face to seek the Lord with prayer and supplications, and fasting.” And if you will read his prayer, you will find nothing of confidence, nothing of self-ascription; but a deep acknowledgment of sin: “We, our kings, our princes, our fathers” (our church), “have all sinned;” so as that “to us belong shame and confusion of face.” And never had such shame and confusion of face befallen the church as would have befallen them, if they had been disappointed in that trial. But he adds, “Unto thee belong mercies and forgivenesses.” There he issues the whole business, upon “mercy and forgiveness,” though he knew by books that the time was come.

Truly, brethren, we do not know by any Scripture revelation, as he did, that the time is come wherein the long contest and conflict between Babylon and the church will have its issue; but it looks like it in the book of providence, and so like it, that it is a plain duty we should give ourselves unto prayer and supplication, that it do not issue in shame and confusion of face; which belongeth unto us by reason of our sins. It is that contest which is now under consideration, and which seems to be coming to its issue, and all men are in expectation of it. It is the greatest, save one, that ever was; for the greatest contest that ever was in this world was between the person and the gospel of Christ on the one hand, and the devil and the pagan world on the other; and the next to that is the contest between Christ — in his offices and grace, in his gospel and worship — and Antichrist. And it is at this day upon its trial, in as signal an instance as ever it received. The question is, as to us and our posterity, Whether Christ or Antichrist? whether the worship of God or of idols? whether the effusion, and waiting for the effusion, of the Spirit of God in his worship, or all manner of superstitious impositions? This is the present contest; and, it may be, under heaven there never was a more signal instance of the issue of this contest than will be in these nations in these days; I do not say presently or speedily; but this, you all know, is our state.

I mention it only to let you know that there is more than an ordinary earnestness and fervency of spirit and wrestling with God required of us at this day for the cause of Zion, the interest of Christ, and defeating of his adversaries. What way God will work we know not. If he be at work, he hath said, that when a flood was cast out of the mouth of the dragon, to swallow up the woman everywhere (and we have had a flood cast out of the mouth of the dragon to swallow up the whole interest of Christ in this nation), the earth lifted up herself and helped the woman, and turned aside the flood. Good old Eli’s heart trembled for the ark of God. The interest of 403God and the truths of Christ are yet among us, but hardly beset by the Philistines; and whether they may not take them I know not, — God only knows. But assuredly, brethren, our hearts ought now to tremble for the ark of God, that God would continue it among us, and not give his glory into the hands of the adversary.

I have mentioned these things only for this end, — that if God will, our hearts may be a little warmed, upon all occasions, in this great contest and conflict between Christ and Antichrist, to come in with our prayers to the help of the Lord, and of the ark of the Lord, — that we may see a blessed issue of this trial, and not be covered with that shame and confusion of face which belong unto us.

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