Page images

Paffions. And having once attained this Affurance, 'twill animate our Hearts with an Heroick Courage against all Temptations, and carry us on with unspeakable Alacrity through all the remaining Stages of our Duty, it will invigorate our Endeavours, and wing our Activity, and make us all Life and Spirit in the Exercises of our holy Religion. And as when the Chriftian Army, after a tedious march towards the Land of Canaan, came within view of the holy City, and beheld afar off the Towers and Turrets of Hierufalem, they were fo Ecftafied with Joy that they made the Heavens ring with triumphant Shouts and Acclamations, and as if that Sight had given new Souls to them, ran on upon their Enemies with a Courage that forced Victory where-ever they came; fo when a good Man after a long Progrefs from one Degree of Vertue to another, is got fo far as that from a certain Senfe and Feeling of his own Sincerity he can difcern the new Hierufalem above, and his own Interest in it, that bleffed Sight will fill him with fo much Joy, Courage and Alacrity, that no Temptation for the future will be able to withftand or interrupt him. So that his Confcience will be always ringing with Acclamations of Victory, and the remainder of this March will be all a Triumphal Progreß to him; and when he comes to the Conclufion of it, to die, and pafs the Gate of this bleffed City, the firm affurance which he hath of Admittance, will difpel the Fears,fweeten the Troubles,and affwage the Pangs and Agonies of the dolorous paffage. So that he will die not only with Peace, but with Joy, and go away into Eternity with Hallelujahs in his Cc 2 Mouth.

Mouth. If therefore we mean to bring this our fpiritual Warfare to a happy Conclufion, it concerns us now, while we have Opportunity, to labour after a wife and well-grounded Affurance of Heaven.


Containing certain Motives to preß men to the Practice of thefe Duties of Perfeverance in the Chriftian Warfare.

Having in the foregoing Section described all thofe Duties which appertain to the laft Part of our Christian Warfare, to wit,, final Perfeverance; and fhewn how effectually they all contribute thereunto, I fhall now according to my former Method, conclude with fome Motives to prefs and perfuade men to the Practice of them; all which I fhall deduce from the Confideration of the great and urgent Neceffity of our final Perfeverance, to which thofe Duties are fuch neceffary Helps and Means. For unless we take in the Affiftance of these Duties, in all Probability we fhall never be able to hold out to the End ; and unlefs we perfevere to the End, we are guilty of the moft fatal and mifchievous piece of Folly in the world. For Confider,

1. If after we have made fome Progress in Religion, we wilfully relapfe, we shall go back much fafter than ever we have proceeded.

2. If once we totally relapfe, we shall thereby forfeit all the Fruit of our paft Labour.

3. We fhall forfeit the Fruit of our Labour after we have undergone the greatest Difficulty of


4. We shall not only forfeit the Fruit of our past Labour, but also render our Recovery more hazardous and difficult than ever.

5. We shall not only render our future Recovery more difficult, but also plunge our felves for the prefent into a far more Guilty and Criminal Condition than ever.

6. We shall not only render our felves for the prefent more guilty, but as a certain Confequence of that, expofe our felves, if we die in our Apoftafie, to a Deeper and more Dreadful Ruine.

I. Confider, when once we have wilfully relapfed, unless we immediately recover, we fhall go much faster back, than ever we went forward. For in the Beginning of our religious Progrefs, we are fain to fail for a great while against Wind, and Tide, against a strong Gale of Temptation from without, and a rapid Stream of Inclination from within, and while we do thus, we must be contented to get our ground by Inches, and move forward by flow and infenfible Degrees; but in all our wilful Apoftafies, we are carried on fecundo flumine, with a full Drift of Temptation and Inclination. So that if when once we have wilfully finn'd we do not immediately check our felves by Repentance, in all Probability we fhall be driven farther back in a Day, than we shall be able to get forward in a Week. For your Progress in Religion lying up Hill, but your Apoftafie down, you must expect when once you are falling,to defcend much faster than ever you afcended,and to get far fooner Cc 3


to the Bottom again than you can to the Top,though you fhould happen to fall juft in the mid-way, and have no farther to the one than to the other. For 'tis hardly to be imagined what ftrength a bad Inclination gets by a fhort Repaft and Gratification; how when it hath been almoft pined away by a long Abftinence, a Taste of finful Pleafure will raife and revive it, and render it as brisk and vigorous as ever; infomuch that it usually requires a great many Acts of Mortification, to re-extinguish that Life and Strength it acquires in one fhort Gratification. For as the fierce Tyger after a long Confinement will lie down tamely in his Den, and by Degrees lofe all his Fiercenefs, and grow manageable and obfequious, but let him take but one warm Draught of Bloud,and his old favage Nature immediately revives, and he grows as cruel and outragious as ever ; juft fo it is with our wicked Inclinations, which being reduced from their Exceffes, and kept under the clofe Confinement of a holy Refolution, will by Degrees grow tame and gentle,and forget the alluring Relishes of Sin, but if once we fuffer them to break loose again, and to come at thofe finful Pleafures from which they have been a long while alienated, they will foon recover their natural Wildness, and become as headftrong and violent as ever. Wherefore it mightily concerns us to have a great Care of all wilful Apoftafies; for to be fure your first Slip will vehemently incline you to a fecond, and that more vehemently to a third, and fo, like men that are running-headlong down Hill, the farther you go, the more you will be preft forward by your own Weight, and the harder will be for you


to stop and recover your felves. So that if you do not immediately stop, you will by a few Days Sin lofe back all the Ground you have got by many a Years Warfare; you will pull down more of your Religion by one wilful Sin, than you will be able to repair again by many a vertuous action; and like fome Prodigal Drudges fpend more in one mad Frolick, than you have earn'd by many a hard days Labour. And if you do thus, 'tis impoffible you should ever improve; for what you do in a Week, you will undo again in a Day, and fo inftead of preffing forward, you will dance in a Circle, and always end where you begun. So that unless you go on and perfevere in well-doing, all your Strife & Warfare against Sin will be but like rolling of a Sisyphus's Stone, which, after you have been a long while raifing to the top of the Hill, will in a moment tumble down again upon you; fo that either you must undergo the fame Pains to raise it again,or lie down under it, & tamely fuffer your felves to be crush'd into eternal Ruine by it. II. Confider, if after we have made fome Progrefs in Religion we totally relapse, we thereby forfeit the Fruit of all our paft Labour. For fo God himself by the Prophet pronounces in the Cafe, Ezek. xviii. 24. When the Righteous turns away from his Righteoufneß, and commits iniquity, and doth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doth, shall be live? all his Righteousnefs that he hath done shall not be mentioned, in the trefpaß that he hath treffaffed, and in the fin that he bath finned, in them fhall be die, i.e. how good foever he may have been for the Time paft, if he doth not perfevere to the End, but wilfully relapfe CC 4


« PreviousContinue »