Mr. Thomas Jacomb's Afternoon Farewell Sermon Preached August 17, 1662Farewell Sermons of the Ejected Puritans
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Jacomb’s Farewell Sermon Preached August 17, 1662
John 8:29, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone: for I do always those things that please him.”
I was upon these words in the morning. Having spoken something to them as they refer to Christ, who spake them here of himself; I then brought them down to his members, believers, and so propounded this observation from them—That whoever they are that desire to please God and do the things that are pleasing to him, God will be with such, and the Father will not leave such alone, especially in a time of suffering and trouble.” In the prosecuting of this point, I spake to four things, which I shall not now repeat, but come to the mark which I intend at present; and that is, to make some application. 1. Let me endeavour to prevail with every one of you, so to carry yourselves in your several places and capacities, that whatever you do, you may please God
It was a blessed testimony that was given of Enoch, Heb. xi. 6. Before his translation he had this testimony; that he pleased God.” Oh! how happy will they? be at the great day of judgment, which shall be singled out by Christ, before angels and men; and Christ shall say of them, This was the man, or this was the woman that pleased God! There is a great deal of pleasing in the world, but there are but very few that make this their business, to please God; therefore I would have you shun that which is sinful, and press after that which is matter of duty.
1. There are some that mind nothing but to please themselves, to promote their own interest, to love their own ease, to indulge themselves in their own carnal delights, but they never mind the good of others, or the pleasing of God; the apostle speaks of, and against these, Rom. xv. 1, 2, 3.
2. There are others that look no farther than the pleasing of men; if they can but keep fair with men, and shun the displeasure of men, that is all they aim at. But, my brethren, what a poor thing it is to have man to be your friend, and God to be your enemy! to have the smiles of a poor dying perishing worm, and to lie under the frowns of the great God!
Indeed there is a good pleasing of men, to please them for their edification, as the apostle speaks, Rom. xv. 2and so the apostle speaks of himself, 1 Cor. x. 32.” Even as I please all men in all things,” that is, in all things that are of an indifferent nature, not simply evil, nor simply good, in all things.
This apostle was of a yielding and complying spirit, that he might thereby the better insinuate himself into the affections of men, and be more instrumental to the glory of God, in the work of the gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 22. “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some; and this I do for the gospel’s sake.”
But now in matter of duty, such things as are expressly determined by God, and so are either good or evil; in these things the apostle would be no pleaser of men. “If I should please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Gal. i. It is good to please others to their edification,
but we must not please others to their own ruin and condemnation. It is good to please men when we can so do, and not grieve God. Instead of pleasing men, let it be your constant care and beet endeavour in all things to please God. My brethren, this is a duty of so great importance, that was I now to take my leave of you, and should certainly know that I should never speak to you more, as we are come very near to it, for though I speak to you as a living man, yet I speak to you as a dying minister; this, I say, is a duty of that weight and importance, that I know not what to press upon you more material than this. Consult but two places of Scripture, Col. i. “For this cause we do not cease to pray for you.” What was the thing the Apostle in this his constant prayers, did beg of God for them? It was this, that they might please God. And when he was taking his leave in the winding up of his epistle to the Hebrews, “Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight.” I need not go beyond the text for motives to stir you up to these endeavours: For…
Motive, 1. First consider what that God is, which I would have you endeavour to please. He is that God which made heaven and earth, that God before whom all the world is as nothing, but as a little dust in the balance, and as a drop of water to the bucket; that God whom angels adore and worship; that God who by a word from his mouth, is able to bring the whole universe into nothing. Will you not study to please this God? But further, consider what this God is to you. He is the fountain of your being, he is the God of all your mercies, he is your Creator and Sovereign, he is your Maker and Law-giver. It is he that by a smile can make you happy, and by a frown can make you miserable. It is he that hath heaven and hell at his disposal, “who openeth and none can shut, who shuts and none can open.” He that must judge every one of you, either to eternal blessedness, or else to eternal torments; it is he in whose hands your breath, your life, your soul, your all is. Will you not endeavour to please this God? as the prophet argueth in point of fear, Isa. li. 12. “Who art thou, that art afraid of a man that shall die, or of the son of man that shall be made as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker?” Oh poor creature! who art thou that goest about to please a mortal dying man, and dost not go about to please the great God, thy Creator and Sovereign!
2. Consider that relation wherein you profess yourselves to stand to God: he is your Master, you his servants; he is your Father, you his children; he is your Lord, you his subjects. You know all that are in close relations will study to please them that are above them; as the servant his master, the child his father the subject his prince. All persons that are in a state of inferiority, will study to please their superiors, especially when they do depend upon them. Oh! how infinitely is God above those relations. Alas, there is but a very little distance betwixt you and your servants, and yet you expect they should please you, will you not, therefore, please God? especially considering your dependence upon him.
3. You shall not lose by pleasing God: that is enough to put us upon this. He that pleaseth God profiteth himself: in that very act wherein we please God, we profit ourselves. Men can do but little for us, yet for what they can do, we study to please them. Let me Open this in a few particulars.
1. If you will sincerely endeavour in all things to please God, God will give you a gracious return to all your prayers. Oh what a mercy is this for a man to have his prayers answered by God! 1 John iii. 22” Whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Never expect that God should hear any prayers, if we do not endeavour to do those things that please him.
2. Do you please God, then he will please you: mercy pleaseth us, and duty pleaseth God. Now when we please God in a way of duty, he will please us in a way of mercy. If we order our ways so as to please God, he will order his ways so as to please us.
3. Great is the benefit of pleasing God, even as to men: and this Solomon sets before you, Prov. xvi. 7, of when a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him and he hath such another expression, Prov. xxii. 11. “He that loveth pureness of heart, the king shall be his friend the meaning of this scripture is this, when we keep close to pod, and walk in compliance with hip will, and make it our great design to please him, he will give us to find favour in the eyes of men. He that maketh God his friend, God will make that man’s enemies to be his friends. Men are possibly full of anger, revenge, and exasperation; be it so. Do you desire to please God? God can turn their hearts towards you; God pan sweeten them in their spirits, and take away that venom that is in them; so you know he did in the case of Esau to his brother Jacob.
4. This is the way to heaven and happiness. God will be pleased before the sinner shall be saved, Heb. xi. Enoch before his translation had this testimony, “That be pleased God.” There is no way to heaven but this, the child pleases the father, and then the father gives him the inheritance. So it is here.
5. Let me return to the argument in the text; God will never leave them alone, that desire sincerely to please him. Methinks this should be a very prevailing motive to you, especially now; please God, and he will never leave you, no not in a time of distress and trouble. Here is the great difference betwixt a faithful God, and a false man.
In time of trouble and adversity men leave us and forsake us; in time of prosperity then they flatter us, and pretend a great deal of friendship and kindness: but as no man looks upon a dial when the sun is under a cloud; so these very men that pretend so much of kindness and friendship, if so be we do but come under a frown, or into trouble, then their friendship and kindness is at an end, as Paul said; no man stood by him when he came to be tried before Nero, all men forsook him, but God did not forsake him. The wise man hath an expression, Prov. xvii. 17. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity but where shall we find such a friend, or indeed such a brother? But now if you will please God, he will stand by you, when all men leave you, when you have the greatest need of God, he will then stand by you; if you be in a prison, he will be with you; if you be banished, he will be with you: if sin doth not part God and you, certainly no affliction shall part God and you.
Study to please God. Oh! is it not a sad thing for God to leave you! That is the saddest of all; when we lose God, then we lose all, Hos. ix. 12. “Woe unto them when I depart from them.” What are ail the mercies if God leave you? No more than if a man had a fair pleasant house, and should never see the sun more.
Oh do the things that always please the Lord, and he will never leave you. Under mercies, under afflictions he will be with you, and then your mercies shall be very sweet, and your afflictions shall not be very bitter. You know how earnest Moses was, Num. x. 13. with his father in law Hobab the Midianite; “Leave us not, I pray thee, forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us as eyes.” Oh keep God to you! especially when you are entering into the wilderness of trouble. God will be to you instead of eyes, he will be your counsellor, your comforter, your guide, your treasure, your portion, your all.
I might add one thing more in the last place…
Study to please God, because he is so easy to be pleased. This is a motive to us to endeavour to please those persons who are easy to be pleased. A child that hath a father that is easy to be pleased: a servant that hath a master that is easy to be pleased, will study to please them. Sincerity pleaseth God, though in the midst of much infirmity. He is so gracious and merciful, that whatsoever a poor sinner doth but desire to please God, he will accept of those desires. If we can but please God, it is no great matter whether we please men or not.
I shall conclude this branch with 1 Thes. iv. 1. “We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and please God, so you would abound more and more.9 Use fc. By way of direction, I should here shew you how you are to please God. I told you in general in the morning, this pleasing of God lieth in two things,
1. In suitableness to his name. 2. In subjection to his law.
If you will please God in all your actions, look to this, that what you do may bear some resemblance to his nature, and hold forth obedience to his law
Consult the will of God, and in all things act in conformity to that will. Do not allow yourselves in the commission of any known sin, for that will certainly displease God, as it was said of David when he took Bathsheba to be his wife, but saith the text, “the thing displeased the Lord.” Do not balk any known duty, for that will displease God.
In a word, be holy in all manner of conversation. This being too general, I shall not insist upon it; only in a word more particularly.
Do those things now, make conscience of those duties which now lie upon you, in the doing of which you Will certainly please God: and they are such as these.
Be steadfast in the ways of God, in the midst of a backsliding and apostatizing age, stand fast to the law of God, Phil. iv. 1. Contend for the faith which is delivered to the saint, vers. 3, of the epistle of Jude. Be hot ashamed to own Christ before all the world as if you be ashamed of him on earth, he will be ashamed o€ you in heaven; and woe be to that turner whom Christ is ashamed to own.
Reckon reproaches for the name of Christ, better than the pleasure of sin that is but for a season.
When God calleth you to it, assert the purity and spirituality of gospel worship. Do not place religion in a few shadows where the substance is neglected; but chiefly mind self-denial, mortification, crucifixion to the world, keeping up close communion with God, love the people of God whatever the world say or think of thee; for God is highly pleased when he seeth his children loved.
Keep up religion in your families, whatever scorn or contempt is cast upon you. Oh that you would labour to be of Abraham’s spirit; “I know,” saith God, “he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord,” Gen. xviii. 19
I do not know any one better means for the keeping of religion in this nation, than for masters of families to be conscientious in the discharging of this duty.
Be good in bad times; be patterns of good works to those that shall behold you. Let no reproach or obloquy make you to abate your exact walking with God; whatever you meet withal in the ways of holiness and a strict life, say, if this be to be vile, I will be more vile. Make conscience of a strict observation of the Lord’s day; take heed of that sacrilege of stealing away holy time; of prostituting that to common and evil uses, which is impropriated and dedicated to the service of God.
Pray for, and love ail those that have been instrumental for your spiritual good in the work of the ministry, whatever dirt is now thrown in their faces, and though you never get more good by them.
Forget not to distribute to the necessities of God’s people, that are many of them in a low condition; for this is a sacrifice of a sweet odour, and well-pleasing to him.
Carry yourselves with all patience and Christian meekness towards them that wrong you: pray for them that are your enemies, and when you are reviled, revile not again, but commit yourselves to that God who judges righteously.
Do your duly to your superiors, and to those that are in authority. So carry yourselves that it may be with you as it was with Daniel; they had nothing against him, saving in the matter of his God.
Balk not any duty for suffering; choose the greatest of suffering, before the least of sin.
In a word, so walk as it becometh the gospel. And finally I speak to you as the apostle spoke to them, Phil, ii, 16. “Hold forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain.”
The third use is for comfort, to all those that do conscientiously endeavour in all things to please God: the comfort lies in this, you may suffer, but whenever you suffer, the Father will not leave you alone. Pleasing of God does-not secure a man from suffering from men, sometimes it rather exposes a man to suffer from men: but now though it does not prevent suffering, yet it takes away the sting and venom of suffering; it makes it to be Samson’s lion, when it was slain, he found nothing but honey in the belly of it. Oh! the presence of God in a time of affliction is exceeding precious, it turns gall into honey, thorns into roses. Be not troubled in your thoughts about what you; may undergo: if God be with you, all will be well: if God comes when the cross cometh, the weight of it will not hurt you. What is a prison when God is there? My brethren, though estate leave you, relations leave you, all your comforts leave you, so long as God doth not leave you it will be well; -therefore do not fear, be not dejected, or discouraged. Isa. xliv. 1-2, Fear not, O Jacob,” why so? “When thou “passest through the waters, I will be thee.” We have more reason to be afraid of prosperity With God’s absence, than of adversity with God’s presence. A good God will make every condition to be good; it is not a prison but a palace where God is. They that do the things that please God, whatever condition they may be brought to, the Father will not leave them alone. Ministers may leave you the means of grace and ordinance in a great measure may leave you, your creature-enjoyments and comforts may leave you; but here is a God that will never leave you: Oh! bless his holy name.
Fourthly, Is this pleasing of God, a duty of so great importance and benefit? then be tender and charitable doing of those that do differ from you and others, this account because they dare not displease God.
I may in this caution aim at myself and others of my brethren in the work of our ministry; but am not here at present to take my last farewell. I hope I may have a little further opportunity of speaking to you: but if not, let me require this of you, to pass a charitable interpretation upon your laying down the exercise of our ministry. There is a greater Judge than you, must judge us all at the great day; and to this Judge we can appeal before angels and men, that it is not this things or that thing that puts us upon this dissent, but it is conscience toward God, and fear of offending him. I censure none that differ from me, as though they displease God: but yet, as to myself, though I did thus and thus, I should certainly violate the peace of my own conscience, and offend God, which I must not do, no, not to secure my ministry, though that either is, or ought to be, dearer to me than my very life: and how dear it is, God only knoweth. Do not add affliction to affliction, be not uncharitable in judging of us, as if through pride, faction, obstinacy, or devotedness to a party, or which is worse than all, in opposition to authority, we do dissent. The Judge of all hearts knows it is not so: but it is merely from those apprehensions which after prayer, and the use of all means do yet continue that doing thus and thus we should displease God: therefore deal charitably with us, in this day of our affliction. If we be mistaken, I pray God to convince us: if others be mistaken, whether in a public or private capacity, I pray God in mercy convince them. But however things go, God will make good this truth to us; in this work he will not leave us and our Father will not leave us alone; for it is the unfeigned desire of our soul in all things to please God.