Page images
PDF
EPUB

precious souls. Yea, all the brute creatures clinations. And you are ever with them, and may condemn you.

Which of them is not can never wart opportunities : especially you, tender of their young ?-Consider, God hath mothers, remember this, who are more with your inade your children your charge, and your ser- children while young, than their fathers. What vants too. Every one will confess they are the pains are you at for their bodies! What do you minister's charge. And have not you a greater suffer to bring them into the world! And will charge of your own families, than any minister can you not be at as much pains for the saving of have of them ? Doubtless at your hands God will their souls ! Your affections are tender ; and require the blood of their souls. It is the great- will it not move you to think of their perishing est charge you were ever intrusted with, and for ever? I beseech you, for the sake of the woe to you, if you suffer them to be ignorant or children of your bowels teach them, admonish wicked for want of your instruction or correc- them, watch over them, and give them no rest, tion. Consider, what work there is for you in till you have brought them to Christ. their dispositions and lives. There is not one 20. I shall conclude with this earnest request sin, but thousands. They have hereditary dis- to all Christian parents that read these lineseases, bred in their natures. The things you That they would have compassion on the souls must teach them are contrary to the interests of their poor children, and be faithful to the and desires of the flesh. May the Lord make great trust that God hath put on them. If you you sensible what a work and charge lieth upon cannot do what you would for them, yet do what you !-- Consider what sorrows you prepare for you can. Both church and state, city and coun. yourselves by the neglect of your children. If try, groan under the neglect of this weighty duty they prove thorns in your eyes, they are of your Your children know not God, nor his laws, but own planting. If you should repent and be saved, take his name in vain, and slight his worship: is it nothing to think of their damnation, and and you neither instruct them nor correct them ; yourselves the occasion of it? But if you die and therefore God corrects both them and you. in your sins, how will they cry out against you You are so tender of them, that God is the less in hell : * All this was wrong of you ; you should tender of both them and you. Wonder not if have taught us better, and did not; you should God make you smart for your children's sins : have restrained us from sin, and corrected us, for you are guilty of all they commit, by your but did not.' What an addition will such out- neglect of your duty to reform them. cries be to your misery. On the other side, resolve, therefore, to set upon this duty, and think what a comfort you may have, if you be neglect it no longer ? Remember Eli. Your chilfaithful in this duty. If you should not succeed dren are like Moses in the bulrushes, ready to you have freed your own souls, and have peace perish if they have not help. As ever you would in your own consciences. If you do, the comfort not be charged before God as murderers of their is inexpressible, in their love and obedience, their souls, nor have them cry out against you in supplying your wants, and delighting you in all everlasting fire, see that you teach them how to your remaining path to glory. Yea, all your escape it, and bring them up in holiness and the family may fare the better for one pious child or fear of God. I charge every one of you, upon servant. But the greatest joy will be, when you your allegiance to God, as you will very shortly shall say, “Lord, here am I, and the children answer the contrary at your peril, that you will thou hast given me;' and shall joyfully live with neither refuse nor neglect this most necessary them for ever.—Consider, how inuch the welfare duty. If you are not willing to do it, now you of church and state depends on this duty. Good know it to be so great a duty, you are rebels, laws will not reform us, if reformation begin not and no true subjects of Jesus Christ. If you are at home. This is the cause of all our miseries willing, but know not how, I will add a few words in church and state, even the want of a holy of direction to help yon. Lead them, by your education of children. I also entreat parents to own example, to prayer, reading, and other reconsider, what excellent advantages they have ligious duties. Inform their understandings. for saving their children. They are with you Store their memories. Rectify their wills. Quicken while they are tender and flexible. You have their affections. Keep tender their consciences. a twig to bend, not an oak. None in the world Restrain their tongues, and teach them gracious have such interest in their affections as you have. speech. Reform and watch over their outward You have also the greatest authority over them. conversation. To these ends, get them bibles Their whole dependence is upon you for a main- and pious books, and see that they read them. tenance. You best know their temper and in-Examine them often what they learn ; especially

Will you

THE SAINTS' REST IS NOT TO BE EXPECTED ON

spend the Lord's day in this work, and suffer in present enjoyments ; -as also of our unwillthem not to spend it in sports or idleness. Show ingness to die, that we may possess eternal rest. them the meaning of what they read or learn. 2. (I.) To show the reasonableness of present Keep them out of evil company, and acquaint afflictions, consider—they are the way to restthem with the godly. And fail not to make they keep us from mistaking our rest, and from them learn their catechism. Especially show losing our way to it—they quicken our pace tothem the necessity, excellency, and pleasure of wards it—they chiefly incommode our flesh ;--serving God; and labour to fix all upon their and under them God's people have often the hearts.

sweetest foretastes of their rest.

3. (1.) Consider, that labour and trouble are the common way to rest, both in the course of

nature and grace. Can there possibly be rest CHAPTER X.

without weariness? Do you not travail and toil first, and rest after ? The day for labour is

first, and then follows the night for rest. Why EARTH

should we desire the course of grace to be perSeet 1. In order to show the sin and folly of expecting rest here. 2. verted, any more than the course of nature ? It (1.

) The reasonableness of present afflictions is considered : 3. (1.)' is an established decree, that we must through That they're the way to rest ; 4. (2.) Keep us from mistaking our rest; 5 (3.) From losing our "ay to it; 6 (4.) Quicken our pacu much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. tawards it ; 7. (5.) Chietty incommode our flesh: 8.00 japodG. And that, if we suffer, we shall also reign with (II) How unreasonable to rest in present enjoyments; 11. (1) Christ.' And what are we, that God's statutes That it is idolatry : 12. (2) That it contradicts God's end in giving them ; 13 (3.) Is the war to have them refused, withdrawn, or should be reversed for our pleasures ? imbittered ; 14. (4.) I hat to be suffered to take up our rest here is the greatest curse ; 15. :5 ) 'I hat it is seeking rest where it is not ;

4. (2.) Afflictions are exceedingly useful to us, 16. (6.) That the creatures, without Gd, would agg avate our to keep us from mistaking our rest. A Christian's misery; 17 (7.) And all this is confirmed by experieuce. 18. The author laments that this is nevertheless a most e mmon sin. 19 motion towards heaven is voluntary, and not con23 (111.) How unreasonable our unwillingness to die, and possess strained. Those means, therefore, are most prothe saints' rest, is largely considered. 24. The author apologizes for saying so much on this last head.

fitable which help his understanding and will.

The most dangerous mistake of our souls is, to 1. We are not yet come to our resting place. take the creature for God, and earth for heaven. Doth it remain ? How great then is our sin What warm, affectionate, eager thoughts have and folly to seek and expect it here ! Where

we of the world, till afflictions cool and modershall we find the Christian that deserves not this ate thein ? Amictions speak convincingly, and reproof? We would all have continual pros. will be heard when preachers cannot. Many a perity, because it is easy and pleasing to the poor Christian is sometimes bending his thoughts Hesh; but we consider not the unreasonableness to wealth, or flesh-pleasing, or applause, and so of such desires. And when we enjoy convenient loses his relish of Christ, and the joy above; houses, goods, lands, and revenues ; or the ne- till God break in upon his riches, or children, cessary means God hath appointed for our spi- or conscience, or health, and break down his ritual good; we seek rest in these enjoyments. mountain which he thought so strong. And then, Whether we are in an afflicted or prosperous when he lies in Manasseh's fetters, or is fastened state, it is apparent, we exceedingly make the to his bed with pining sickness, the world is nocreature our rest. Do we not desire creature en- thing, and heaven is something. If our dear Lord joyments more violently, when we want them, did not put these thorns under our head, we than we desire God himself? Do we not delight should sleep out our lives, and lose our glory. more in the possession of them, than in the en- 5. (3.) AMictions are also God's most effectual joyment of God? And if we lose them, doth it means to keep us from losing our way to our not trouble us more than our loss of God? Is it rest. Without this hedge of thorns on the right not enough, that they are refreshing helps in hand and left, we should hardly keep the way our way to heaven, but they must also be made to heaven. If there be but one gap open, how our heaven itself ? Christian Reader, I would ready are we to find it, and turn out at it! as willingly make thee sensible of this sin, as of When we grow wanton, or worldly, or proud, any sin in the world, if I could tell how to do it; how doth sickness, or other affliction, reduce us! for the Lord's greatest quarrel with us is in this Every Christian, as well as Luther, may call point. In order to this, I most earnestly beseech affliction one of the best schoolmasters; and with thee to consider, the reasonableness of present David may say, “Before I was afflicted I went afflictions—and the unreasonableness of resting astray; but now have I kept thy word.' Many

1073

thousand recovered sinners may cry, 'O health- we stop our ears against all the clamours of the ful sickness! O comfortable sorrows ! O gain- flesh, then we should have a truer judgment of ful losses! O enriching poverty! O blessed our afflictions. day that ever I was afflicted! Not only the 8. (6.) Once more consider, God seldom gives 'green pastures, and still waters, but the rod and his people so sweet a foretaste of their future staff, they comfort us.'— Though the word and rest, as in their deep afflictions. He keeps his Spirit do the main work, yet suffering so unbolts most precious cordials for the time of our greatthe door of the heart, that the word hath easier est faintings and dangers. He gives them, when entrance.

he knows they are needed, and will be valued ; 6. (4.) Afictions likewise serve to quicken and when he is sure to be thanked for them, and our pace in the

way

to our rest. It were well, his people rejoiced by them. Especially, when if mere love would prevail with us, and that we our sufferings are more directly for his cause, were rather drawn to heaven, than driven. But then he seldom fails to sweeten the bitter cup. seeing our hearts are so bad that mercy will not The martyrs have passed the highest joys. When do it; it is better to be put on with the sharpest did Christ preach such comforts to his disciples, scourge, than loiter, like the foolish virgins, till as when their hearts were sorrowful at his dethe door is shut. O what a difference is there parture ? When did he appear among them, betwixt our prayers in health and in sickness and say, “peace be unto you,' but when they betwixt our repentings in prosperity and adver- were shut up for fear of the Jews ? When did sity! Alas, if we did not sometimes feel the Stephen see heaven opened, but when he was spur, what a slow pace would most of us hold giving up his life for the testimony of Jesus? Is toward heaven! Since our vile natures require not that our best state, wherein we have most of it, why should we be unwilling that God should God? Why else do we desire to come to heado us good by sharp means? Judge, Christian, ven? If we look for a heaven of fleshly delights, whether thou dost not go more watchfully and we shall find ourselves mistaken. Conclude then, speedily in the way to heaven, in thy sufferings, that affliction is not so bad a state for a saint in than in thy more pleasing and prosperous state. his way to rest. Are we wiser than God? Doth

7. (5.) Consider further, it is but the flesh that he not know what is good for us as well as we? is chiefly troubled and grieved by afflictions. In or is he not as careful of our good, as we are of most of our sufferings the soul is free, unless we our own ? Woe to us, if he were not much more ourselves wilfully afflict it. Why then, O my so; and if he did not love us better than we love soul, dost thou side with this flesh, and complain, either him or ourselves ! as it complains ? It should be thy work to keep 9. Say not, 'I could bear any other affliction it under, and bring it into subjection ; and if but this.' If God had afflicted thee where thou God do it for thee, shouldst thou be discon- canst bear it, thy idol would neither have been tented ? Hath not the pleasing of it been the discovered nor removed. Neither say, 'if God cause of almost all thy spiritual sorrows ? Why would deliver me out of it, I could be content then may not the displeasing of it further thy to bear it. Is it nothing that he hath promised joy? Must not Paul and Silas sing, because it shall work for thy good? Is it not enough their feet are in the stocks? Their spirits were that thou art sure to be delivered at death ? Nor not imprisoned. Ah, unworthy soul ! is this thy let it be said, 'if my affliction did not disable me thanks to God for preferring thee so far before from my duty, I could bear it.' It doth not disthy body? When it is rotting in the grave, able thee for that duty which tends to thy own thou shalt be a companion of the perfected spirits personal benefit, but is the greatest quickening of the just. In the meantime, hast thou not con- help thou canst expect. As for thy duty to solation which the flesh knows not of ? Murmur others, it is not thy duty when God disables not then at God's dealings with thy body; if it thee. Perhaps thou wilt say, “the godly are my were for want of love to thee, he would not have afflicters ; if it were ungodly men, I could easily dealt so by all his saints. Never expect thy bear it.' Whoever is the instrument, the afflicflesh should truly expound the meaning of the tion is from God, and the deserving cause thyrod. It will call love, hatred ; and say, God is self; and is it not better to look more to God destroying, when he is saving. It is the suffering than thyself ? Dost thou not know that the party, and therefore not fit to be the judge. best men are still sinful in part? Do not plead, Could we once believe God, and judge of his · If I had but that consolation, which you say dealings by his word, and by their usefulness to God reserves for suffering times, I should suffer our souls, and reference to our rest, and could I more contentedly; but I do not perceive any such thing. The more you suffer for righteousness, to bid us prepare ; for the kingdom of Dess' sake, the more of this blessing you may God, our true rest, “is at hand.' Therefore to expect; and the more you suffer for your own rest here, were to turn all mercies contrary to evil doing, the longer it will be before that their own ends, and to our own advantages, and sweetness comes. Are not the comforts you to destroy ourselves with that which should help desire, neglected or resisted ? Have your afflic- us. tions wrought kindly with you, and fitted you 13. (3.) It is the way to cause God, either to for comfort ? It is not suffering that prepares deny the mercies we ask, or to take from us you for comfort, but the success and fruit of those we enjoy, or at least imbitter them to us. suffering upon your hearts.

God is no where so jealous as here. If you had 10. (II.) To show the unreasonableness of a servant whom your wife loved better than resting in present enjoyments, consider—it is yourself, would you not take it ill of such a idolizing them—it contradicts God's end in giv- wife, and rid your honse of such a servant? So, ing them—it is the way to have them refused, if the Lord see you begin to settle in the world withdrawn, or imbittered-to be suffered to take and say, 'here I will rest;' no wonder if he soon up our rest here, is the greatest curse—it is in his jealousy unsettle you. If he love you, no seeking rest where it is not to be found—the wonder if he take that from you with which h creatures, without God, would aggravate our sees you are destroying yourselves. It hath misery—and to confirm all this, we may consult long been my observation of many, that when our own and others' experience.

they have attempted great works, and have just 11. (1.) It is gross idolatry to make any crea- finished them; or have aimed at great things in ture, or means, our rest. To be the rest of the the world, and have just obtained them ; or have soul, is God's own prerogative. As it is appa- lived in much trouble, and have just overcome rent idolatry to place our rest in riches, or hon- it: and began to look on their condition with ours ; so it is but a more refined idolatry to content, and rest in it—they are then usually take up our rest in excellent means of grace. near to death or ruin. When a man is once at How ill must our dear Lord take it, when we this language, Soul, take thy ease :' the next give him cause to complain, as he did of our news usually is, 'thou fool, this night,' or this fellow-idolaters, ' My people have been lost sheep, month, or this year, thy soul shall be required, they have forgotten their resting place ? •My and then whose shall these things be? What people can find rest in any thing rather than in house is there, where this fool dwells not? Let me. They can delight in one another, but not you and I consider, whether it be not our own in me. They can rejoice in my creatures and case. Many a servant of God hath been deordinances, but not in me. Yea, in their very stroyed from the earth, by being overvalued and labours and duties they seek for rest, but not in overloved. I am persuaded, our discontents me. They had rather be any where, than be and murmurings are not so provoking to God,

Are these their gods ? Have these nor so destructive to the sinner, as our too sweet redeemed them? Will these be better to them enjoying, and resting in, a pleasant state. If than I have been, or than I would be ? If your God hath crossed you in wife, children, goods, selves have a wife, a husband, a son, that had friends, either by taking them away, or the comrather be any where than in your company, and fort of them ; try whether this be not the cause : be never so merry as when furthest from you, for wheresoever your desires stop, and you say, would you not take it ill? So must our God now I am well ;' that condition

you needs do.

god, and engage the jealousy of God against it. 12. (2.) You contradict the end of God in Whether you be friends to God or enemies, you giving these enjoyments. He gave them to help can never expect that God should suffer you thee to him, and dost thou take up with them in quietly to enjoy your idols. bis stead? He gave them to be refreshments in 14. (4.) Should God suffer you to take up thy journey, and wouldst thou dwell in thy inn, your rest here, it is one of the greatest curses and go no further? It may be said of all our that could befall you. It were better never to comforts and ordinances, as is said of the Israel- have a day of ease in the world ; for then weaites, “ The ark of the covenant of the Lord went riness might make you seek after true rest. But before them, to search out a resting place for if you are suffered to sit down and rest here, a them.' So do all God's mercies here. They are restless wretch you will be through all eternity. not that rest ; as John professed he was not the To ' have their portion in this life,' is the lot Christ; but they are voices crying in the wilder-1 of the most miserable perishing sinners. Doth

1075

with me.

make your

it become Christians, then, to expect so much thou sayest.' If, instead of telling the converted here ? Our rest is our heaven; and where we thief, • This day shalt thou be with me in paratake our rest, there we make our heaven. And dise, Christ had said he should rest there upon wouldst thou have but such a heaven as this? the cross ; would he not have taken it for a de

15. (5.) It is seeking rest where it is not to be rision ? Methinks it would be ill resting in the found. Your labour will be lost; and if you midst of sickness and pains, persecutions and proceed, your soul's eternal rest too. Our rest distresses. But if nothing else will convince us, is only in the full obtaining of our ultimate end. yet sure the remainders of sin, which do so easily But that is not to be expected in this life; neither beset us, should quickly satisfy a believer, that is rest therefore to be expected here. Is God to here is not his rest. I say, therefore, to every be enjoyed in the best church here, as he is in one that thinketh of rest on earth, · Arise ye, heaven ? How little of God the saints enjoy and depart; for this is not your rest, because it under the best means, let their own complain- is polluted. These things cannot in their nature ings testify. Poor comforters are the best or be a true Christian's rest. They are too poor dinances, without God. Should a traveller take to make us rich ; too low, to raise us to happiup his rest in the way ? No; because his home ness; too empty, to fill our souls ; and of too is his journey's end. When you have all that short a continuance, to be our eternal content. creatures and means can afford, have you that If prosperity and whatsoever we here desire, be you believed, prayed, suffered for ? I think you too base to make gods of, they are too base to dare not say so. We are like little children be our rest.—The soul's rest must be sufficient strayed from home, and God is now fetching us to afford it perpetual satisfaction. But the conhome, and we are ready to turn into any house, tent which creatures afford, waxes old, and abates stay and play with every thing in our way, and after a short enjoyment. If God should rain sit down on every green bank, and much ado down angels' food, we should soon lothe the there is to get us home. We are also in the manna. If novelty support not, our delights on midst of our labours and dangers ; and is there earth grow dull. All creatures are to us as the any resting here? What painful work doth lie flowers to the bee; there is but little honey on upon our hands ? Look to our brethren, to our any one, and therefore there must be a superfisouls, and to God; and what a deal of work, in cial taste; and so to the next.—The more the respect to each of these, doth lie before us! And creature is known, the less it satisfieth. Those can we rest in the midst of all our labours? In only are taken with it, who see no further than deed we may rest on earth, as the ark is said to its outward beauty, without discerning its inhave 'rested in the midst of Jordan,' a short and ward vanity. When we thoroughly know the small rest. Or as Abraham desired the angels condition of other men, and have discovered the to turn in and rest themselves' in his tent, where evil as well as the good, and the defects as well they would have been loth to have taken up as the perfection, we then cease our admiration. their dwelling. Should Israel have fixed their 16. (6.) To have creatures and means without rest in the wilderness, among serpents, and ene- God is an aggravation of our misery. If God mies, and weariness, and famine? Should Noah should say, · Take my creatures, my word, my have made the ark his home, and have been loth servants, my ordinances, but not myself ;' would to come forth when the waters were assuaged ? you take this for happiness? If you had the Should the mariner choose his dwelling on the word of God, and not the Word,' which is sea, and settle his rest in the midst of rocks, and God; or the bread of the Lord, and not the sands, and raging tempests ? Should a soldier Lord, which is the true bread ;' or would cry rest in the thickest of his enemies ? And are with the Jews, · The temple of the Lord,' and not Christians such travellers, such mariners, had not the Lord of the temple; this were a poor such soldiers ? Have you not fears within, and happiness. Was Capernaum the more happy, troubles without ? Are we not in continual or the more miserable, for seeing the mighty dangers ? We cannot eat, drink, sleep, labour, works which they had seen, and hearing the pray, hear, converse, but in the midst of snares; words of Christ which they did hear ? Surely and shall we sit down and rest here? O Chris- that which aggravates our sin, and misery, cantian, follow thy work, look to thy dangers, hold not be our rest. on to the end, win the field, and come off the 17. (7.) To confirm all this, let us consult our ground, before thou thinkest of a settled rest. own and others' experience.— Millions have Whenever thou talkest of a rest on earth, it is made trial, but did any ever find a sufficient rest like Peter on the mount, thou knowest not what I for his soul on earth? Delights I deny not but

« PreviousContinue »