« PreviousContinue »
--- of the law ; see but a pit before him, tnou van.com
and thy hair stand on an end? And how wilt / generate, methinks thou shouldst be as fearful to thou endure to live for ever, where thou shalt hear of heaven as of hell, except the bare name have no other company but devils, and the of heaven or salvation be sufficient. Preaching damned, and shalt not only see them, but be tor- heaven and mercy to thee, is entreating thee to mented with them and by them? Let me once seek them, and not reject them; and preaching more ask, if the wrath of God be so light, why hell is but to persuade thee to avoid it. If thou did the Son of God himself make so great a mat wert quite past hope of escaping it, then it were ter of it? It made him “sweat as it were, great in vain to tell thee of hell; but as long as thou drops of blood falling down to the ground. The art alive, there is hope of thy recovery, and, thereLord of life cried, “My soul is exceeding sorrow- fore, all means must be used to awake thee from ful, even unto death ;' and on the cross, “ My thy lethargy. Alas! what heart can now possibly God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' conceive, or what tongue express, the pains of Surely if any one could have borne these suffer- those souls, that are under the wrath of God ! ings easily, it would have been Jesus Christ. He Then, sinners, you will be crying to Jesus had another measure of strength to bear it than Christ, · O mercy! O pity, pity on a poor soul ! thou hast. Woe to thee, sinner, for thy mad se- Why, I do now, in the name of the Lord Jesus, curity! Dost thou think to find that tolerable to cry to thee, * O have mercy, have pity, man, upon thee, which was so heavy to Christ? Nay, the thy own soul!' Shall God pity thee, who will the Son of God is cast into a bitter agony, and not be entreated to pity thyself? If thy horse bloody sweat, only under the curse of the law; see but a pit before him, thou can scarcely force and yet thou, feeble, foolish creature, makest him in ; and wilt thou so obstinately cast thyself nothing to bear also the curse of the gospel, into hell when the danger is foretold thee ? which requires a much sorer punishment. The Who can stand before the indignation of the good Lord bring thee to thy right mind by re- Lord ? and who can abide the fierceness of his pentance, lest thou buy thy wit at too dear a rate ! anger?' Methinks thou shouldst need no more
18. And now, reader, I demand thy reso-words, but presently cast away thy soul-damning lution, what use wilt thou make of all this? sins, and wholly deliver up thyself to Christ. Shall it be lost to thee? or wilt thou consider it Resolve on it immediately, and let it be done, in good earnest ? Thou hast cast away many a that I may see thy face in the rest among the warning of God, wilt thou do so by this also ? saints. May the Lord persuade thy heart to Take heed: God will not always stand warning strike this covenant without any longer delay! and threatening. The hand of revenge is lifted But if thou be hardened unto death, and there up, the blow is coming, and woe to him on whom be no remedy, yet say not another day, but that it lighteth! Dost thou throw away the book, thou wast faithfully warned, and hadst a friend, and say, it speaks of nothing but hell and dam- that would fain have prevented thy damnation. nation? Thus thou usest also to complain of the preacher. But wouldst thou not have us tell thee of these things ? Should we be guilty of
CHAPTER VII. the blood of thy soul, by keeping silent that which God hath charged us to make known?
SAINTS' REST. Wouldst thou perish in ease and silence, and have us to perish with thee, rather than displease thee, by speaking the truth? If thou wilt be guilty of such inhuman cruelty, God forbid we should be guilty of such sottish folly. This kind
at, the works we have to do, the shortness and uncertainty of our
time, and the diligence of our enemies; 11. Our talents, mercies, of preaching or writing, is the ready way to be
have, what principles we profess, and our certainty never to hated ; and the desire of applause is so natural,
do enough. 13. That every grace tends to diligence, and to trifle is that few delight in such a displeasing way. But
lost labgur ; that much time is misspent, and that our recompense consider, are these things true, or are they not?
death lament their want of it, heaven is often lost for want of it, If they were not true, I would heartily join with thee against any that fright people without a cause. But if these threatenings be the word of God, what a wretch art thou, that wilt not hear it, and consider it! If thou art one of the peo- | ple of God, this doctrine will be a comfort to 1. If there be so certain and glorious a rest for thee, and not a terror. If thou art yet unre- the saints, why is there no more industrious seek
THE NECESSITY OF DILIGENTLY SEEKING THE
Sect. I. The saints' rest surprisingly neglected; particularly, 2. By
the worldly-minded ; 3. The profane multitude ; 4. Formal professors; 5-8. And by the godly themselves, whether magistrates, ministers, or people. 9. The author mourns the neglect, and ex. cites the reader to diligence, by considering, 10. The ends we aim
relations to God, and our afflictions. 12. What assistances we
and labour will be proportionable. 14. That striving is the divine appointment, all men do or will approve it, the best Christians at
but never obtained without it. 15. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are in earnest : God is so in hearing and answering prayer: ministers in their instructions and exhortations : all the creatures in serving us; sinners in serving the devil, as we were once, and now are, in worldly things, and in heaven and hell are all in earnest. 16. The chapter concludes with proposing some awakening ques. tions to the ungodly, and, 17. also to the godly.
almost forgery of judge, and bring the other world, and they go
ing after it?' One would think, if a man äid but | lamity? At the hour of your death, will they once hear of such unspeakable glory to be ob- either answer or relieve you? Will they go tained, and believed what he heard to be true, along with you to the other world, and bribe the he should be transported with the vehemency of judge, and bring you off clear, or purchase you his desire after it, and should almost forget to a place among the blessed? Why, then, did the eat and drink, and should care for nothing else, rich man want a drop of water to cool his tongue? and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but Or, are the sweet morsels of present delight and how to get this treasure. And yet people who honour of more worth than eternal rest? And hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a will they recompense the loss of that enduring fundamental article of their faith, do as little treasure ? Can there be the least hope of any mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never of these ? Ah, vile, deceitful world! how oft heard of any such thing, or did not believe one have we heard thy most faithful servants at last word they hear. This reproof is more particu- complaining—' O the world hath deceived me, larly applicable to the worldly-minded; the pro- and undone me! It flattered me in my prosfane multitude; the formal professors, and even perity, but now it turns me off in my necessity. to the godly themselves.
If I had as faithfully served Christ, as I have 2. The worldly-minded are so taken up in served it, he would not have left me thus comseeking the things below, that they have neither fortless and hopeless. Thus they complain; and heart nor time to seek this rest. O foolish sin- yet succeeding sinners will take no warning. ners, who hath bewitched you? The world be- 3. As for the profane multitude, they will not witches men into brute beasts, and draws them be persuaded to be at so much pains for salvasome degrees beyond madness. See what riding tion, as to perform the common outward duties and running, what scrambling and catching for of religion. If they have the gospel preached in a thing of nought, while eternal rest lies ne-| the town where they dwell, it may be they will glected! What contriving and caring to get a give the hearing to it one part of the day, and step higher in the world than their brethren, stay at home the other; or if the master come to while they neglect the kingly dignity of the the congregation, yet part of his family must saints! What insatiable pursuit of fleshly plea- stay at home. If they want the plain and powersures, while they look on the praises of God, the ful preaching of the gospel, how few are there joy of angels, as a tiresome burden! What un- in a whole town, who will travel a mile or two wearied diligence in raising their posterity, en- to hear abroad ; though they will go many miles larging their possessions, (perhaps for a poor to the market for provision for their bodies! living from hand to mouth) while judgment is They know the scripture is the law of God, by drawing near ; but, how it shall go with them which they must be acquitted or condemned in then, never puts them to one hour's considera-judgment; and that the man is blessed who detion! What rising early, and sitting up late, and lights in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth labouring from year to year, to maintain them- meditate day and night;' yet will they not be at selves and children in credit till they die; but, pains to read a chapter once a day. If they what shall follow after, they never think on! carry a bible to church, and neglect it all the Yet these men cry, · May we not be saved with week, this is the most use they make of it. out so much ado? How early do they rouse up | Though they are commanded to pray without their servants to their labour; but how seldom do ceasing, and to pray always; yet they will neithey call them to prayer, or reading the scrip- ther pray constantly in their families, nor in setures! What hath this world done for its lovers cret. Though Daniel would rather be cast to and friends, that it is so eagerly followed, and the lions, than forbear praying three times a day painfully sought after, while Christ and heaven in his house, where his enemies might hear him ; stand by, and few regard them ? or what will the yet these men will rather venture to be an eterworld do for them for the time to come? The nal prey to Satan, the roaring lion, than thus seek common entrance into it, is through anguish and their own safety. Or their cold and heartless sorrow. The passage through it, is with contin prayers invite God to a denial : for among men ual care and labour. The passage out of it, is it is taken for granted, that he who asks but the sharpest of all. O unreasonable, bewitched slightly and seldom, cares not much for what he men! Will mirth and pleasure stick close to asks. They judge themselves unworthy of you? Will gold and worldly glory prove fast heaven, who think it is not worth their mcre
friends to you in the time of your greatest need ? | constant and earnest requests. If every door · Will they hear your cries in the day of your ca- was marked, where families do not, morning and
evening, earnestly seek the Lord in prayer, that and seldom talking with seriousness and humilihis wrath might be poured out upon such prayer- ty of the great things of Christ, he shows his reless families, our towns would be as places over- | ligion dwells in the brain, and not in his heart. thrown by the plague, the people being dead | The wind of temptation carries him away as a within, and the mark of judgment without. I feather, because his heart is not established with fear where one house would escape, ten would | Christ and grace. He never, in private converbe marked out for death ; and then they might sation, humbly bewails his soul's imperfections, teach their doors to pray, Lord, have mercy or tenderly acknowledges his unkindness to upon us,' because the people would not pray Christ; but gathers his greatest comforts from themselves. But especially, if we could see his being of such a judgment or party. The what men do in their secret chambers, how few like may be said of the worldly hypocrite, who would you find in a whole town that spend one chokes the gospel with the thorns of worldly quarter of an hour, morning and night, in ear- cares and desires. He is convinced that he nest supplication to God for their souls! O how must be religious, or he cannot be saved; and little do these men set by eternal rest! Thus do therefore he reads, and hears, and prays, and they slothfully neglect all endeavours for their forsakes his former company and courses; but own welfare, except some public duty in the con- he resolves to keep his hold of present things. gregation, which custom or credit engages them His judgment may say, God is the chief good; to. Persuade them to read good books, learn but his heart and affections never said so. The the grounds of religion in their catechism, and world hath more of his affections than God, and sanctify the Lord's-day in prayer, and medita- therefore it is his god. Though he does not tion, and hearing the word, and forbearing all run after opinions and novelties, like the former, worldly thoughts and speeches; and what a te- yet he will be of that opinion which will best dious life do they take this to be! As if they serve his worldly advantage. And as one whose thought heaven were not worth doing so much spirits are enfeebled by some pestilential disease; for.
so this man's spirits being possessed by the plague 4. Another sort are formal professors, who of a worldly disposition, how feeble is he in sewill be brought to an outward duty, but to the cret prayer ! how superficial in examination and inward work of religion they will never be per- meditation ! how poor in heart-watchings! how suaded. They will preach, or hear, or read, or nothing at all in loving and walking with God, talk of heaven, or pray in their families, and take rejoicing in him, or desiring him!-So that both part with the persons or causes that are good, these, and many other sorts of hypocrites, though and desire to be esteemed among the godly; but they will go with you in the easy outside of reyou can never bring them to the more spiritual ligion, yet will never be at the pains of inward duties—as, to be constant and fervent in secret and spiritual duties. prayer and meditation; conscientious in self-ex- 5. And even the godly themselves are too lazy amination; heavenly-minded; to watch over seekers of their everlasting rest. Alas! what a their hearts, words, and ways; to mortify the disproportion is there between our light and heat! flesh, and not make provision to fulfill its lusts; our profession and prosecution! Who makes to love, and heartily forgive an enemy, and pre- that haste as if it were for heaven? How still fer their brethren before themselves; to lay all we stand! How idly we work! How we talk, they have, or do, at the feet of Christ, and prize and jest, and trifle away our time! How dehis service and favour before all; to prepare to ceitfully we perform the work of God! How die, and willingly leave all to go to Christ. Hy- we hear, as if we heard not; and pray, as if we pocrites will never be persuaded to any of these. prayed not; and examine, and meditate, and reIf any hypocrite entertains the gospel with joy, prove sin, as if we did it not; and enjoy Christ, it is only in the surface of his soul; he never as if we enjoyed him not; as if we had learned to gives the seed any depth of earth : it changes his use the things of heaven, as the apostle teacheth opinion but never melts and new-moulds his us to use the things of the world! What a froheart, nor sets up Christ there in full power and zen stupidity has benumbed us! we are dying, authority. As his religion lies most in opinion, and we know it, and yet we stir not; we are at so does his chief business and conversation. He the door of eternal happiness, or misery, and yet is usually an ignorant, bold, conceited dealer in we perceive it not; death knocks, and we hear it controversies, rather than an humble embracer of not; God and Christ call and cry to us, · To-day, known truth, with love and obedience. By his if ye will hear my voice, harden not your hearts ; slighting the judgments and persons of others, / work while it is day, for the night cometh when none can work. Now ply your business, labour | our want of seriousness about the things of for your lives, lay out all your strength and time; heaven, charms the souls of men into formality, now or never;' and yet we stir no more than if and brings them to this customary careless hear. if we were half asleep. What haste do deathing, which undoes them. May the Lord pardon and judgment make! how fast do they come on! the great sin of the ministry in this thing; and, they are almost at us, and yet what little haste in particular, my own! we make! Lord, what a senseless, earthly, 8. And are the people more serious than mahellish thing is a hard heart! Where is the man gistrates or ministers? How can it be expected! that is in earnest a Christian? Methinks men Reader, look but to thyself, and resolve the every where make but a trifle of their eternal question. Ask conscience, and suffer it to tell state. They look after it but a little by the by; thee truly. Hast thou set thy eternal rest bethey do not make it the business of their lives. fore thine eyes, as the great business thou hast If I were not sick myself of the same disease, to do in this world? Hast thou watched and lawith what tears should I mix this ink; with what boured, with all thy might, that no man take groans should I express these complaints! and thy crown ? Hast thou made haste, lest thou with what heart-grief should I mourn over this shouldst come too late, and die before thy work universal deadness!
be done? Hast thou pressed on through crowds 6. Do magistrates among us seriously perform of opposition, towards the mark, for the prize their work? Are they zealous for God? Do of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,' still they build up his house ? Are they tender of reaching forth unto those things which are behis honour? Do they second the word ? and fly fore?' Can conscience witness your secret cries, in the face of sin and sinners, as the disturbers and groans, and tears ? Can your family witof our peace, and the only cause of all our mise- ness, that you taught them the fear of the Lord, ries? Do they improve all their power, wealth, and warned them not to go to that place of torand honour, and all their influence, for the great- ment ? Can your minister witness, that he has est advantage to the kingdom of Christ, as men heard you cry out · What shall I do to be saved ?' that must shortly give an account of their stew- and that you have followed him with complaints ardship?
against your corruptions, and with earnest inqui7. How thin are those ministers that are seri- ries after the Lord ? Can your neighbours about ous in their work! Nay, how mightily do the you witness, that you reprove the ungodly, and very best fail in this? Do we cry out of men's take pains to save the souls of your brethren? disobedience to the gospel in the demonstration Let all these witnesses judge this day between of the Spirit, and deal with sin as the destroying God and you, whether you are in earnest about fire in our towns, and by force pull men out of eternal rest. You can tell by his work, whether it? Do we persuade people, as those should, your servant has loitered, though you did not that know the terrors of the Lord? Do we see him ; so you may by looking at your own press Christ, regeneration, and faith, and holi- work. Is your love to Christ, your faith, your ness, believing that, without these, men can zeal, and other graces, strong or weak ? What never have life? Do our bowels yearn over are your joys ? What is your assurance? Is the ignorant, careless, and obstinate multitude ? all in order with you? Are you ready to die, if When we look them in the face, do our hearts this should be the day? Do the souls, among melt over them, lest we should never see their whom you have conversed, bless you ? Judge faces in rest ? Do we, as Paul, tell them, weep-by this, and it will quickly appear whether you ing, of their fleshly and earthly disposition ? have been labourers or loiterers. • And teach them publicly, and from house to 9. O blessed rest, how unworthily art thou house, at all seasons, and with many tears ?' | neglected! O glorious kingdom, how art thou And do we entreat them, as for their soul's sal- undervalued! Little know the careless sons of vation? Or rather, do we not study to gain the men, what a state they set so lightly by. If approbation of critical hearers ; as if a minister's they once knew it, they would surely be of anobusiness were of no more weight but to tell a ther mind. I hope thou, reader, art sensible smooth tale for an hour, and look no more after what a desperate thing it is to trifle about eterthe people till the next sermon ? Does not car- nal rest; and how deeply thou hast been guilty of nal prudence control our fervour, and make our this thyself. And I hope also, thou wilt not now discourses lifeless, on subjects the most piercing ? suffer this conviction to die. Should the physiHow gently do we handle those sins, which will cian tell thee, If you will observe but one thing, 80 cruelly handle our people's souls! In a word, I doubt not to cure your disease;' wouldst thou
they us. Judge, they all of them call forneighbours,
seek him with all this thou art gone from
not observe it? So I tell thee, if thou wilt ob- | to; every person we deal with ; every change of serve but this one thing for thy soul, I make no our condition, still require the renewing of our doubt of thy salvation-shake off thy sloth, and labour : wives, children, servants, neighbours, put to all thy strength, and be a Christian in- friends, enemies, all of them call for duty from deed: I know not then what can hinder thy us. Judge, then, whether men that have so happiness. As far as thou art gone from God, much business lying upon their hands, should seek him with all thy heart, and no doubt thou not exert themselves; and whether it be their shalt find him. As unkind as thou hast been to wisdom either to delay or loiter. Time passeth Jesus Christ, seek him heartily, obey him unre- on. Yet a few days, and we shall be here no servedly, and thy salvation is as sure as if thou more. Many diseases are ready to assault us. hadst it already. But full as Christ's satisfac- We that are now preaching, and hearing, and tion is, free as the promise is, large as the mercy talking, and walking, must very shortly be carof God is, if thou only talk of these, when thou ried, and laid in the dust, and there left to the shouldst eagerly entertain them, thou wilt be worms in darkness and corruption: we are alnever the better for them; and if thou loiter, most there already; we know not whether we when thou shouldst labour, thou wilt lose the shall have another sermon, or sabbath, or hour. crown. Fall to work, then, speedily and seri- | How active should they be who know they have ously, and bless God that thou hast yet time to so short a space for so great a work! And we do it. And to show that I urge thee not with-have enemies that are always plotting and labourout cause, I will here add a variety of animating ing for our destruction. How diligent is Satan considerations. Rouse up thy spirit, and, as in all kind of temptations! Therefore, be soMoses said to Israel, 'Set thy heart unto all the ber, be vigilant ; because your adversary the dewords which I testify unto thee this day; for it vil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking is not a vain thing, because it is your life. May whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast the Lord open thy heart, and fasten his counsel in the faith. How diligent are all the ministers effectually upon thee !
of Satan! False teachers, scoffers, persecutors, 10. Consider how reasonable it is, that our di- and our inbred corruptions, the most busy and ligence should be answerable to the ends we aim diligent of all ! Will a feeble resistance serve at, to the work we have to do, to the shortness our turn! Should not we be more active for and uncertainty of our time, and to the contrary our own preservation, than our enemies are for diligence of our enemies. The ends of a Chris- our ruin ? tian's desires and endeavours are so great, that 11. It should excite us to diligence, when we no human understanding on earth can compre- consider our talents, and our mercies, our relahend them. What is so excellent, so important, tion to God, and the afflictions he lays upon us. or so necessary, as the glorifying of God, the The talents which we have received are many salvation of our own and other inen's souls, by and great. What people breathing on earth escaping the torments of hell, and possessing the have had plainer instructions, or more forcible glory of heaven ? And can a man be too much persuasions, or more constant admonitions, in affected with things of such moment ? Can he season and out of season? Sermons, till we desire them too earnestly, or love them too have been weary of them; and sabbaths, till we strongly, or labour for them too diligently? Do have profaned them; excellent books, in such not we know, that if our prayers prevail not, and plenty that we know not which to read. What our labour succeeds not, we are undone for ever? people have had God so near them ? or have
-The work of a Christian here is very great seen so much of Christ crucified before their and various. The soul must be renewed; cor- eyes? or have had heaven and hell so open unruptions must be mortified; custom, temptations, to them? What speed should such a people and worldly interests, must be conquered ; flesh make for heaven? How should they Ay that must be subdued; life, friends, and credit must are thus winged? And how swiftly should they be slighted; conscience on good grounds be sail that have wind and tide to help them! A quieted ; and assurance of pardon and salva- small measure of grace beseems not such a peotion attained. Though God must give us these ple, nor will an ordinary diligence in the work without our merit, yet he will not give them of God excuse them. All our lives have been without our earnest seeking and labour. Besides, filled with mercies. God hath mercifully poured there is much knowledge to be got, many ordi- out upon us the riches of sea and land, of heaven nances to be used, and duties to be performed: and earth. We are fed and clothed with mercy. every age, year, and day ; every place we comeWe have mercies within and without. To num