« PreviousContinue »
ber them, is to count the stars or the sands of patience of God doth wait upon us; the Lord the sea-shore. If there be any difference be- Jesus Christ waiteth, in the offers of his blood ; twixt hell and earth, yea, or heaven and earth, the Holy Spirit waiteth, by striving with our then certainly we have received mercy. If the backward hearts; besides the ministers of the blood of the Son of God be mercy, then we are gospel, who study and wait, preach and wait, engaged to God by mercy. Shall God think pray and wait, upon careless sinners. And is nothing too much, nor too good for us; and shall it not an intolerable crime for us to trifle, we think all too much that we do for him ? When while angels and men, yea, the Lord himself, I compare my slow and unprofitable life, with stand by, and look on, and, as it were, hold the frequent and wonderful mercies received, it us the candle while we do nothing? I beseech shames me, it silences me, and leaves me inex- you, Christians, whenever you are praying, or cusable. Besides our talents and mercies, our reproving transgressors, or upon any duty, rerelations to God are most endearing. Are we member what assistances you have for your work, his children, and do we not owe him our most and then judge how you ought to perform it. tender affections, and dutiful obedience ? Are The principles we profess, are, that God is the we “the spouse of Christ,' and should we not chief good ; that all our happiness consists in his obey and love him? •If he be a Father, where love, and therefore it should be valued and is his honour ? and if he be a Master, where is sought above all things ; that he is our only Lord, his fear? We call him Master, and Lord, and and therefore chiefly to be served; that we must we say well. But if our industry be not an- love him with all our heart, and soul, and swerable to our relations, we condemn ourselves strength ; that our great business in the world is in saying we are his children or his servants. to glorify God, and obtain salvation. Are these How will the hard labour, and daily toil, which doctrines seen in our practice? or, rather, do not servants undergo to please their masters, judge our works deny what our words confess ?-But and condemn those who will not labour so hard however our assistances and principles excite us for their Great Master ? Surely there is no to our work, we are sure we can never do too master like him; nor can any servants expect much. Could we do all, “we are unprofitable such fruit of their labours as his servants. And servants;' much more when we are sure to fail if we wander out of God's way, or loiter in it, in all. No man can obey, or serve God too how is every creature ready to be his rod, to re- much. Though all superstition, or service of duce us, or put us on! Our sweetest mercies our own devising, may be called a “being rightwill become our sorrows. Rather than want a eous overmuch ;' yet, as long as we keep to the rod, the Lord will make us a scourge to our rule of the word, we can never be righteous too selves : : our diseased bodies shall make us groan; much. The world is mad with malice, when our perplexed minds shall make us restless; our they think, that faithful diligence in the service conscience shall be as a scorpion in our bosom. of Christ is foolish singularity. The time is near And is it not easier to endure the labour than when they will easily confess that God could not the spur ? Had we rather be still afflicted, than be loved, or served too much, and that no man 'be up and doing? And though they that do can be too busy to save his soul. We may easily most, meet also with afflictions; yet surely ac- do too much for the world, but we cannot for cording to their peace of conscience, and faith-God. fulness to Christ, the bitterness of their cup is 13. Let us further consider, that it is the naabated.
ture of every grace to promote diligence, that 12. To quicken our diligence in our work, trifling in the way to heaven is lost labour, that we should also consider, what assistances we much precious time is already mispent, and that have, what principles we profess, and our cer- in proportion to our labours will be our recomtainty that we can never do too much.—For our pense.—See the nature and tendency of every assistance in the service of God, all the world grace. If you loved God, you would think noare our servants, The sun, moon, and stars, at- thing too much that you could possibly do to tend us with their light and influence. The serve him, and please him still more. Love is earth, with all its furniture of plants and flowers, quick and impatient, active and observant. If fruits, birds, and beasts; the sea, with its inha- you love Christ, you would keep his commandbitants; the air, the wind, the frost and snow, ments, nor accuse them of too much strictness. the heat and fire, the clouds and rain, all wait If you had faith, it would quicken and encouupon us while we do our work. Yea, the angels rage you—if you had the hope of glory, it would, are all our ministering spirits. Nay more, the as the spring in the watch, set all the wheels of your souls a-going—if you had the fear of God, negligence, and that heaven itself is often lost it would rouse you out of your slothfulness—if for want of striving, but is never had on easier you had zeal, it would inflame, and eat you up. terms. The sovereign wisdom of God has made In what degree soever thou art sanctified, in the striving necessary to salvation. Who knows the same degree thou wilt be serious and laborious way to heaven better than the God of heaven? in the work of God. But they that trifle, lose When men tell us we are too strict, whom do their labour. Many who, like Agrippa, are but they accuse, God or us? If it were a fault, it almost Christians, will find in the end, they shall would lie in him that commands, and not in us be but almost saved. If two be running in a race, who obey. These are the men that ask us, he that runs slowest loses both prize and labour. Whether we are wiser than all the world besides? A man that is lifting a weight, if he put not and yet they will pretend to be wiser than God. sufficient strength to it, had as good put none at How can they reconcile their language with the all. How many duties have Christians lost, for laws of God? • The kingdom of heaven sufferwant of doing them thoroughly ? •Many will eth violence, and the violent take it by force. seek to enter in, and shall not be able,' who if Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many they bad striven, might have been able. There will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. fore, put to a little more diligence and strength, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with that all you have done already be not in vain. thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor Besides, is not much precious time already lost? knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither With some of us childhood and youth are gone; thou goest. Work out your own salvation with with some their middle age also ; and the time fear and trembling. Give diligence to make before us is very uncertain. What time have your calling and election sure. If the righteous we slept, talked, and played away, or spent in scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and worldly thoughts and cares! How little of our the sinner appear ? Let them bring all the work is done! The time we have lost cannot seeming reasons they can, against the holy viobe recalled; should we not then redeem and im- lence of the saints; this sufficeth me to confute prove the little which remains ? If a traveller them all, that God is of another mind, and he sleep, or trifle most of the day, he must travel so hath commanded me to do much more than I much faster in the evening, or fall short of his do; and though I could see no other reason for journey's end. Doubt not but the recompense it, his will is reason enough. Who should make will be according to your labour. The seed laws for us, but he that made us ? And who which is buried and dead, will bring forth a should point out the way to heaven, but he that plentiful harvest. Whatever you do, or suffer, must bring us thither ? And who should fix the everlasting rest will pay for all. There is no terms of salvation, but he that bestows the gift of repenting of labours or sufferings in heaven. salvation ? So that, let the world, the flesh, or There is not one says, “Would I had spared my the devil, speak against a holy laborious life, this pains, and prayed less, or been less strict, and is my answer—God hath commanded it. Nay, done as the rest of my neighbours. On the there never was, nor ever will be, a man, but contrary, it will be their joy to look back upon will approve such a life, and will one day justify their labours and tribulations, and to consider the diligence of the saints. And who would not how the mighty power of God brought them go that way, which every man shall finally apthrough all. We may all say, as Paul, ` I reckon plaud ? True, it is now a way everywhere spothat the sufferings' and labours of this pre- ken against. But let me tell you, most that sent time, are not worthy to be compared with speak against it, in their judgments approve of the glory which shall be revealed in us.' We it; and those that are now against it, will shortly labour but for a moment, but we shall rest for be of another mind. If they come to heaven, ever. Who would not put forth all his strength their mind must be changed before they come for one hour, when for that hour's work he may there. If they go to hell, their judgment will be a prince while he lives? • God is not un- then be altered, whether they will or not. Rerighteous, to forget our work and labour of love.' member this, you that love the opinion and way Will not all our tears be wiped away,' and all of the multitude; why then will you not be of the sorrows of our duties be then forgotten ? the opinion that all will be of? Why will you
14. Nor does it less deserve to be considered, be of a judgment, which you are sure all of you that striving is the divinely appointed way of shortly to change? O that you were but as salvation, that all men either do or will approve wise in this, as those in hell! Even the best of it, that the best Christians at death lament their Christians, when they come to die. exceedingly lament their negligence. They then wish, 'O Spirit is serious in soliciting us to be happy. His that I had been a thousand times more holy, motions are frequent, pressing, and importunate. more heavenly, more laborious for my soul! The He striveth with us. He is grieved when we world accuses me for doing too much, but my resist him. And should we not be serious, then, in own conscience accuses me for doing too little. obeying and yielding to his motions ? God is It is far easier bearing the scoffs of the world, serious in hearing our prayers, and bestowing than the lashes of conscience. I had rather be his mercies. He is afflicted with us.
He rereproached by the devil for seeking salvation, gardeth every groan and sigh, and puts every tear than reproved of God for neglecting it.' How into his bottle. The next time thou art in trouble, do their failings thus wound and disquiet them, thou wilt beg for a serious regard of thy prayers. who have been the wonders of the world for their And shall we expect real mercies, when we are heavenly conversation! It is for want of more slight and superficial in the work of God? The diligence, that heaven itself is often lost. When ministers of Christ are serious in exhorting and they that have · heard the word, and anon with instructing you. They beg of God, and of you ; joy received it, and have done many things, and and long more for the salvation of your souls, heard,' the ministers of Christ gladly, shall yet than for any worldly good. If they kill themperish ; should not this rouse us out of our se- selves with their labour, or suffer martyrdom for curity ? How far hath many a man followed preaching the gospel, they think their lives are Christ, and yet forsook him, when all worldly well bestowed, so that they prevail for the saving interests and hopes were to be renounced! God of your souls. And shall other men be so painhath resolved, that heaven shall not be had on ful and careful for your salvation, and you be easier terms. Rest must always follow labour. so careless and negligent of your own ?-How • Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.' diligent and serious are all the creatures in Seriousness is the very thing wherein consists serving you! What haste makes the sun to com. our sincerity. If thou art not serious, thou art pass the world ! The fountains are always not a Christian. It is not only a high degree flowing for thy use; the rivers still running; in Christianity, but the very life and essence of spring and harvest keep their tiines. How hard it. As fencers upon a stage differ from soldiers does thy ox labour for thee from day to day! fighting for their lives, so hypocrites differ from How speedily does thy horse travel with thee! serious Christians. If men could be saved with And shalt thou only be negligent ? Shall all out this serious diligence, they would never re- these be so serious in serving thee, and thou so gard it; all the excellencies of God's ways would careless in thy service to God ?—The servants never entice them. But when God hath re- of the world and the devil are serious and dilisolved, that, without serious diligence here, you gent: they work as if they could never do shall not rest hereafter, is it not wisdom to exert enough : they make haste, as if afraid of coming ourselves to the utmost ?
to hell too late : they bear down ministers, ser15. But to persuade thee, if possible, Reader, mons, and all before them. And shall they be to be serious in thy endeavours for heaven, let more diligent for damnation, than thou for sal. me add more considerations. As for instance, vation ? Hast thou not a better master, sweeter consider,God is in earnest with you ; and why employment, greater encouragements, and a should you not be so with him ? In his com- better reward ? - Time was when thou wast serimands, his threatenings, his promises, he means ous thyself in serving Satan and the flesh, if it as he speaks. In his judgments he is serious. be not so yet. How eagerly didst thou follow Was he not so, when he drowned the world ? thy sports, thy evil company, and sinful delights! when he consumed Sodom and Gomorrah ? and And wilt thou not now be as earnest and violent when he scattered the Jews ? Is it time, then, for God ? You are to this day in earnest about to trifle with God? Jesus Christ was serious in the things of this life. If you are sick, or in purchasing our redemption. In teaching, he pain, what serious complaints do you utter! If neglected his meat and drink : in prayer, be con- you are poor, how hard do you labour for a tinued all night: in doing good, his friends livelihood ! And is not the business of your thought him beside himself: in suffering, he salvation of far greater moment? There is no fasted forty days, was tempted, betrayed, spit jesting in heaven or hell. The saints have a real upon, buffeted, crowned with thorns, sweat drops happiness, and the damned a real misery. There of blood, was crucified, pierced, died. There are no remiss or sleepy praises in heaven, nor was no jesting in all this. And should we not be such lamentations in hell. All these are in earnest. serious in seeking our own salvation ?--The Holy When thou, Reader, shalt come to death and judgment, О what deep, heart-piercing thoughts you had seen the general dissolution of the world, wilt thou have of eternity! Methinks I foresee and all the pomp and glory of it consumed to thee already astonished to think how thou couldst ashes, what would such a sight persuade thee to possibly make so light of these things. Methinks do ? Such a sight you shall certainly see.-If I even hear thee crying out thy stupidity and you had seen the judgment-seat, and the books madness.
opened, and the wicked stand trembling on the 16. And now, Reader, having laid down these left hand of the Judge, and the godly rejoicing undeniable arguments, I do, in the name of God, on the right hand, and their different sentences demand thy resolution-wilt thou yield obedience, pronounced; what persons would you have been or not? I am confident thy conscience is con- after such a sight ? This sight you shall one vinced of thy duty. Darest thou now go on in thy day surely see. If you had seen hell open, and common, careless course, against the plain evi-all the damned there in their ceaseless torments ; dence of reason, and commands of God, and also heaven opened, as Stephen did, and all the against the light of thy own conscience? Darest saints there triumphing in glory; what a life thou live as loosely, sin as boldly, and pray as would you lead after such sights ? These you seldom as before ? Darest thou profane the sab- will see before it be long.–If you had lain in bath, slight the service of God, and think of thine hell but one year, or one day, or hour, and there everlasting state, as carelessly as before? Or felt the torments you now hear of ; how seriously dost thou not rather resolve to gird up the loins would you then speak of hell, and pray against of thy mind, and set thyself wholly to the work it! And will you not take God's word for the of thy salvation, and break through the opposi- truth of this, except you feel it? Or if you had tions, and slight the scoffs and persecutions of possessed the glory of heaven but one year, the world, and lay aside every weight, and the what pains would you take rather than be desin which doth so easily beset thee, and run with prived of such incomparable glory?-_Thus I patience the race that is set before thee?' I hope have said enough, if not to stir up the sinner to these are thy full resolutions. Yet, because I a serious working out his salvation, yet at least fear the obstinacy of the heart of man, and be to silence him, and leave him inexcusable at the cause I am solicitous thy soul might live, I once judgment of God. Only as we do by our friends more entreat thy attention to the following ques- when they are dead, and our words and actions tions ; and I command thee from God, that thou can do them no good, yet to testify our affection stifle not thy conscience, nor resist conviction ; for them we weep and mourn ; so will I also do but answer them faithfully, and obey accordingly. for these unhappy souls. It makes my heart If, by being diligent in godliness, you could tremble, to think how they will stand before the grow rich, get honour or preferment in the world, Lord, confounded and speechless: when he shall be recovered from sickness, or live for ever in say, · Was the world, or Satan, a better friend prosperity on earth ; what lives would you lead, to you than I? Or had they done more for and what pains would you take in the service of you than I had done? Try now whether they God? And is not the saints' rest a more excel- will save you, or recompence you for the loss of lent happiness than all this? If it were felony heaven, or be as good to you as I would have to break the sabbath, neglect secret or family been.' What will the wretched sinner answer worship, or be loose in your lives, what manner to any of this ? But though man will not hear, of persons would you then be? And is not eter- we may hope in speaking to God. • 0 thou nal death more terrible than temporal? If God that didst weep and groan in spirit over a dead usually punished with some present judgment Lazarus, pity these dead and senseless souls, till every act of sin, as he did the lie of Ananias and they are able to weep and groan in pity to themSapphira, what kind of lives would you lead ? selves! As thou hast bid thy servants speak, And is not eternal wrath far more terrible ?—If so speak now thyself: they will hear thy voice one of your acquaintance should come from the speaking to their hearts, who will not hear mine dead, and tell you that he suffered the torments speaking to their ears. Lord, thou hast long of hell for those sins you are guilty of; what knocked at these hearts in vain ; now break the manner of persons would you afterwards be? doors, and enter in!' How much more should the warnings of God 17. Yet to show the godly why they, above affright you ?_If you knew that this were the all men, should be laborious for heaven, I delast day you had to live in the world, how would sire to ask them, what manner of persons should you spend it? And you know not but it may those be whom God hath chosen to be vessels be your last, and are sure your last is near.-If | of mercy ? Who have felt the smart of their negligence in their new birth, in their troubles | Are these men alive or dead? Are they awake of conscience, in their doubts and fears, and in or asleep? What do they think on? Where other sharp afflictions ? Who have often con- are their hearts ? If they have but a weighty fessed their sins of negligence to God in prayer? suit at law, how careful are they to know whether Who have bound themselves to God by so many it will go for or against them ? If they were to covenants? What manner of persons should they be tried for their lives at an earthly bar, how be, who are near to God, as the children of his careful would they be to know whether they family ; who have tasted such sweetness in dili- should be saved or condemned, especially if their gent obedience ; who are many of them so un- care might surely save them! If they be dancertain what shall everlastingly become of their gerously sick, they will inquire of the physician, souls ?
What manner of persons should they What think you, Sir, shall I escape or not? But be in holiness, whose sanctification is so imper- in the business of their salvation, they are confect; whose lives and duties are so important to tent to be uncertain. If you ask most men 'a the saving or destroying a multitude of souls ; reason of the hope that is in them, they will and on whom the glory of the great God so much say, · Because God is merciful, and Christ died depends ?-Since these things are so, I charge for sinners,' and the like general reasons, which thee, Christian, in thy Master's name, to con- any man in the world may give as well as they: sider, and resolve the question, · What manner but put them to prove their interest in Christ, of persons ought we to be in all holy conversa- and in the saving mercy of God, and they can tion and godliness ?' And let thy life answer say nothing to the purpose. If God or man the question as well as thy tongue.
should say to them, What case is thy soul in,
man ? Is it regenerate, sanctified, and pardoned, CHAPTER VIII.
or not? He would say, as Cain of Abel, “I
know not; am I my soul's keeper ? I hope HOW TO DISCERN OUR Title to the SAINTS' REST. well, I trust God with my soul ; I shall speed as
well as other men do: I thank God, I never made Sect. 1. The folly of men in not inquiring after a title to the saints' rest ; 2. and their cause for terror, as long as they are destitute any doubt of my salvation.' Thou hast cause of a title. 3. Self-examination is urged upon them; 4. (1.) From to doubt, because thou never didst doubt ; and the possibility of arriving at a certainty ; 5-9. (2.) From the hinderances which will be thrown in our way by Satan, sinners, our yet more, because thou hast been so careless in how easy, common, and dangerous it is to be mistaken ; that trying thy confidence. What do thy expressions diswill not be so painful as the neglect ; that God will soon try us,
cover, but a wilful neglect of thy own salvation? and that to try ourselves will be profitable ; 11. And therefore the reader is entreated no longer to delay the trial
. 12. Then, (4.) As a shipmaster that should let his vessel alone, Directions are given how to try; 13. (5.) Marks for trial are added, and say, 'I will venture it among the rocks, and particularly, 14. Do we make God our chief good ? 15. Do we chapter concludes with illustrating the great importance of these will speed as well as other vessels. What horheartily accept of Christ for our Lord and Saviour ? 16, 17. The waves, and winds; I will trust God with it; it
rible abuse of God is this, to pretend to trust 1. Is there such a glorious rest so near at God, to cloak their own wilful negligence ! If hand ?
And shall none enjoy it but the people thou didst really trust God, thou wouldst also of God? What mean most of the world, then, be ruled by him, and trust him in his own apto live so contentedly without assurance of their pointed way. He requires thee to give diliinterests in this rest, and neglect the trying of gence to make thy calling and election sure,' and their title to it? When the Lord has so fully so trust him. He hath marked thee out a way opened the blessedness of that kingdom which in scripture, by which thou art charged to search none but obedient believers shall possess; and and try thyself, and mayest arrive at certainty. so fully expressed those torments, which the rest Were he not a foolish traveller, that would hold of the world must eternally suffer; methinks on his way, when he does not know whether he they that believe this to be certainly true, should be right or wrong; and say, 'I hope I am right; never be at any quiet in themselves, till they I will go on, and trust in God?' Art thou not were fully assured of their being heirs of the guilty of this folly in thy travels to eternity? kingdom. Lord, what a strange madness is this, not considering, that a little serious inquiry, that men, who know they must presently enter whether thy way be right, might save thee a upon unchangeable joy or pain, should yet live great deal of labour, which thou bestowest in as uncertain what shall be their doom, as if they vain, and must undo again, or else thou wilt had never heard of any such state ; yea, and live miss of salvation, and undo thyself. as quietly and merrily in this uncertainty, as if 2. How canst thou think or speak of the great all were made sure, and there were no danger!! God without terror, as long as thou art uncer