Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

me what I am calling you to do, my text tells But that misunderstanding may not hinder the you in general, up and be doing: look about you, performance, I shall acquaint you further with and see what you have to do, and do it with your the sense, by these few explicatory cautions. might.

The energy and diligence here required, ex1. Whatsoever thy hand finds to do,' that cludes not the necessity of deliberation and is, whatsoever is a duty imposed by the Lord, prudent conduct. Otherwise, the faster you go, whatsoever is a means conducing to thy own or the further you may go out of the way; and others' welfare ; whatsoever necessity calls thee misguided zeal may spoil all the work, and make to do, and opportunity allows thee to do. it but an injury to others or yourselves. A little

'Thy hand findeth,' that is, thy executive imprudence in the season, order, and manpower, by the conduct of thy understanding, is ner of a duty, sometimes may spoil it, and hinnow to do.

der the success, and make it do more hurt than • Do it with thy might:' do thy best in it. good. How many a sermon, or prayer, or reTrifle not, but do it presently, without unneces- proof, is made the matter of derision and consary delay. Do it resolutely. Remain not doubt- tempt, for some imprudent passages or deportful, unresolved, in suspense, as if it were yet a ment ! God sends not his servants to be triflers question with thee whether thou shouldst do it, of the world, or to play the madman, as David or not.

in his fears : we must be wise and innocent, as Do it with thy most awakened affections, and well as resolute and valiant : though fleshly and serious intention of the powers of thy soul. worldly wisdom be not desirable, as being but Sleepiness and insensibility are most unsuitable foolishness with God; yet the wisdom which is to such works. It is a peculiar people, zealous from above, and is first pure, and then peaceable, of good works, that Christ hath purchased to and is acquainted with the high and hidden himself.

mysteries, and is justified of her children, must Do it with all necessary forethought and con- be the guide of all our holy actions. Holiness trivance : not with a distracting, hindering care; is not blind: illumination is the first part of sancbut with such a care as may show that you de- tification. Believers are children of the light.' spise not your master, and are not regardless of Nothing requires so much wisdom as the matters his work : and with such a care as is suited to of God, and of our salvation. Folly is most the difficulties and nature of the thing, and is unsuitable to such excellent employments, and necessary to the due accomplishment of it. most unbeseeming the sons of the Most High.

Do it not slothfully, but vigorously, and with It is a spirit of wisdom that animates all the diligence. Stick not at thy labour: lest thou saints ; it is the treasures of wisdom that dwell hear, “thou wicked and slothful servant.-Hide in Christ, and are communicated to his members. not thy hand in thy bosom with the slothful, We must " walk in wisdom toward them that are and say not there is a lion in the way.' The without,' and our work must be shown out of a negligent and the vicious, the waster and the good conversation, with meekness of wisdom ;' slothful, differ but as one brother from another, yet I must needs say, that it is more in great as the self-murder of the wilfully ungodly, so also things than in small, in the substance than the the desire of the slothful kills him, because his circumstances; in a sound judgment and estihands refuse to labour, the soul of the sluggard mate of things, and suitable choice and prosecudesireth and hath nothing; but the soul of the tion, than in fine expressions or deportment andiligent shall be made fat; be not slothful in swering proud men's expectations. business, but be fervent in spirit, serving the Though you must work with all your energy, Lord.'

yet with a diversity agreeable to the quality of Do it with constancy, and not with destruc- your several works. Some works must be pretive pauses and intermissions, or with weariness ferred before others : all cannot be done at once. and turning back. •The righteous shall hold on That is a sin out of season, which in season is a his way, and he that is of clean hands shall be duty. The greatest, and the most urgent w

work, stronger and stronger.—Be stedfast, unmoveable, must be preferred. And some works must be always abounding in the work of the Lord ; for- done with double fervour and resolution, and asmuch as you know that your labour is not in some with less. Buying, selling, marrying, posvain in the Lord.—Be not weary of well doing: sessing, and using the world, must be done with for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.' a fear of overdoing, and in a sort as if we did These six particulars are necessary, if you will them not, though they also must have a necesobserve the precept in my text.

sary diligence. God's kingdom and its right

1

eousness must be first sought, and our labour for tural insensibility and sloth : turn not all your the meat that perishes must be comparatively family duties into lifeless customary forms: speak as none.

about God, heaven, hell, and holiness, with that Lastly, It is not an irregular, nor a self-dis- seriousness as beseems men that believe what turbing, vexatious violence that is required of they say, and would have those they speak to, to us: but a sweet, well-settled resolution, and a believe it. Talk not either drowsily, or lightly, delightful expeditious diligence, that makes the of such dreadful, or joyful, inexpressible things. wheels go sinoothly on, and the more easily get Remember, that your families and you are going over those difficulties, that clog and stop a sloth. to the grave, and to the world where there is no ful soul.

more room for your exhortations. There is no Now will you lend me the assistance of your catechising, examining, or serious instructing consciences, for the transcribing of this command them in the grave, whither they and you are of God upon your hearts, and taking out a copy going. It must be now or never: therefore do of this order, for the regulating of your lives? it with your might. The words of God must Whatsoever is not a word so comprehensive as to be in your hearts, and you ‘must diligently teach include any vanity or sin; but so comprehensive them to your children, talking of them when as to include all your duty.

you sit in your houses, when you walk by the 1. To begin with the lowest: - the very works way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.' of your bodily callings must have diligence. In 3. Have you ignorant or ungodly neighbours, the sweat of your brows you must eat your whose misery calls for your compassion and rebread.—Six days shalt thou labour, and do all lief? Speak to them and help them with pruthat thou hast to do.—He that will not work, let dent diligence. Lose not your opportunities : him not eat.—Disorderly walkers, busy bodies, stay not till death hath stopped your mouths, or that will not work with quietness, and eat their stopped their ears. Stay not till they are out of own bread, are to be avoided and shamed by the hearing, and taken from your converse. Stay church. Lazy servants are unfaithful to men, not till they are in hell, before you warn them of and disobedient to God, who commands them it, or till heaven be lost, before you have serito obey their masters according to the flesh (un- ously called to them to remember it. Go to their believing, ungodly masters) in all things that houses: take all opportunities : stoop to their inconcern their service, and that not with eye firmities : bear with unthankful frowardness: it is service, as men pleasers, but in singleness of for men's salvation : remember there is no place heart, and in the fear of God, doing whatsoever for your instructions or exhortations in the grave they do as to the Lord, and not unto men; know- or hell. Your dust cannot speak, and their dust ing that of the Lord, even for this, they shall cannot hear: up therefore and be doing with all receive the reward of the inheritance. But he your might. that doth wrong by slothfulness, or unfaithful- 4. Hath God intrusted you with the riches ness, shall receive for the wrong which he hath of the world ; with many talents or with few, done.

by which he expects you should relieve the needy, Success is God's ordinary temporal reward of and especially should promote those works of diligence; and diseases, poverty, shame, disap- piety which are the greatest charity ? Give pointment, or self-tormenting melancholy, are prudently, but willingly and liberally, while you his usual punishments of sloth. Hard labour have to give. It is your gain: the time of redeems time: you will have the more to lay out market for your souls; of laying up a treasure on greater works: the slothful is still behind, in heaven, and setting your money to the most and therefore must leave much of his work un- gainful usury; and of making you friends of done.

the mammon of unrighteousness ;' and further2. Are you parents or governors of families; ing your salvation by that which hinders other you have work to do for God, and for your men's, and occasions their perdition. children's and servants' souls: do it with your have opportunity, do good to all men, but esmight : deal wisely, but seriously and frequently pecially to them of the household of faith.with them about their sins, their duty, and their Cast thy bread upon the waters ; for thou shalt hopes of heaven; tell them whither they are find it after many days. Give a portion to seven going, and which way they must go: make them and to eight; for thou knowest not what evil understand that they have a higher Father and may be upon the earth. In the morning sow Master that must be first served, and greater thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy work than yours. Waken them from their na- hand: for thou knowest not whether shall pros

“As you per, this or that, or whether they both shall be alike beam of hypocrisy, injustice and malicious cruel good. -Withhold not good from them to whom opposition of Christ and his disciples in their it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to own eyes : that it is the brand of them that please do it : say not to thy neighbour, go, and come not God, that are filling up their sins, on whom again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou God's wrath is coming to the utmost, to persehast it by thee.—Lay up a foundation for the cute the servants of the Lord, 'forbidding them time to come. Do good before thy heart be to preach to the people that they might be saved? hardened, thy riches blasted and consumed, thy Learn well the second and the hundred and opportunities taken away; part with it before it first psalm : and write these sentences on your part with thee.' Remember it must be now or walls and doors, as an antidote against that selfnever: there is no working in the grave. undoing sin: 'whosoever shall offend one of

5. Hath God intrusted you with power or in- these little ones which believe in me, it were terest, by which you may promote his honour in better for him that a mill-stone were hanged the world, relieve the oppressed, and restrain about his neck, and that he were drowned in the the rage of impious malice! Hath he made you depth of the sea.—He that toucheth you touchgovernors, and put the sword of justice into your eth the apple of his eye.--Him that is weak in hands ? up then and be doing with your might. the faith receive you ; but not to doubtful disDefend the innocent, protect the servants of the putations. For God hath received him.-He Lord, cherish them that do well, be a terror to that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that the wicked, encourage the strictest obedience receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. He to the universal Governor, discountenance the that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a breakers of his laws : look not to be reverenced righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reor obeyed before him, or more carefully than ward : and whoso shall give to drink to one of he: openly maintain his truth and worship with these little ones, cup of cold water only, in the out fear or shame: deal gently and tenderly with name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall his lambs and little ones : search after vice that in no wise lose his reward. If you love not the you may successfully frown upon it. Hate godly, love yourselves, so far as such self-love those temptations that would draw you to man- is possible; wound not your own hearts, to inpleasing, temporizing, remissness, or countenan- jure them. Damn not your souls, and that cing sin; but especially those that would ensnare by the surest, nearest way, that you may hurt you in a controversy with heaven, and in quar- their bodies. Provoke not God to thrust you rels against the ways of holiness, or in that self from his presence, and deny your suits, by confounding sin of abusing and opposing the your dealing so with them : stop not your own people that are most careful to please the Lord, mouths, when your misery will bespeak your Your trust is great, and so is your advantage to loudest cries for mercy, by your stopping the do good; how great will be your account, and mouths of the servants of the Lord, and refusing how dreadful, if you be unfaithful! As you to hear their requests for justice. If you have signify more than hundreds or thousands of the serpent's enmity against the woman's seed, the meaner sort, and your actions do most good you must expect the serpent's doom :. yoảr or hurt ; so you must expect to be accordingly heads will be bruised,' when you have bruised dealt with, when you come to the impartial, final their heels.-Kick not against the pricks.' Let judgment. Befriend the gospel as the charter not. briars and thorns set themselves in battle of your everlasting privileges; own those that against the Lord, lest he go therefore through Christ hath told you he will own. Use them as them, and burn them together.' men that are ready to hear insomuch as you I speak not any of this by way of accusation did it to one of the least of these my brethren, or dishonourable reflection on the magistrate. you did it unto me.-Know not a wicked person: Blessed be God that hath given us the comfort but let your eyes be on the faithful of the land, of your defence. But knowing what the tempter that they may dwell therein, and lead a quiet aims at, where it is that your danger lies, and and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. by what means the rulers of the earth have been -Let those that work the work of the Lord, be undone, faithfulness commands me to tell you with you without fear. Remember that it is of the snare, and to set before you good and the character of a pharisee and hypocrite, to see evil, as ever I would escape the guilt of betraythe mote of the non-observance of a ceremony, ing you by flattery, or cruel and cowardly or tradition, or smaller matter of difference in silence. religion in their brother's eye, and not to see the Especially when your magistracy is but annual, or for a short time, it concerns you to be doing speedily: abhor the motions of it: turn away with your might. It is but this year, or short from the persons or things that would entice thee. space of time that you have to do this special Hate the doors of the harlot, and of the alehouse, service in; lose this and lose all. By what men or the gaming house: and go not as the ox to on earth should God be eminently served and the slaughter, as a bird to the fowler's snare, and honoured, if not by magistrates, whom he hath as a fool to the correction of the stocks, as if eminently advanced, impowered and intrusted thou knewest not that it is for thy life. Why, thou With considerate foresight, seriously ask your befooled soul, wilt thou be tasting of the poisonselves the question, are you willing to hear, ated cup ? Wilt thou be sporting thee with the the day of your accounts, that you had but one bait? Hast thou no where to walk or play thee, year, or a few, to do God special service in, and but at the brink of hell ? Must not the flesh be that you knew this, and yet would not do it? crucified with its affections and lusts ? Must it Can

your hearts bear it then, to hear and think not be tamed, and mortified, or thy soul conthat you lost, and wilfully lost, such an opportu- demned ? • Run not therefore as at uncertainty: nity? Look about you then, and see what is to fight not as one that beats the air. Seeing this be done. Are there not alehouses to be sup- must be done, or thou art undone, delay with sin pressed, drunkards and riotous persons to be no longer : let this be the day ; resolve, and rerestrained ; preaching and piety to be promoted? sist it with thy might : it must be now or never : Do it with your might: for it must be now or when death comes, it is too late. It will be then never.

no reward to leave thy sin, which thou canst 6. To come yet a little nearer you, and speak keep no longer : no part of holiness or happi of the work that is yet to be done in your own ness that thou art not drunk, or proud, or lustsouls ; are any of you yet in the state of unre- ful in the grave or hell. As thou art wise, therenewed nature, born only of the flesh, and not of fore, know and take thy time. the Spirit, minding the things of the flesh and 8. Art thou in a declined, lapsed state ; de. not the things of the Spirit ;' and consequently cayed in grace ; hast thou lost thy first desires yet in the power of Satan, taken captive by and love; do thy first works, and do them with him at his will ;' up and be doing, if thou love thy thy might. Delay not, but remember fronı whence soul. If thou care whether thou be in joy or thou art fallen, and what thou hast lost by it, misery for ever, bewail thy sin and spiritual dis- and into how sad a case thy folly and negligence tress : make out to Christ, cry mightily to him hath brought thee : say, “I will go and return for his renewing and reconciling, pardoning to my first husband; for then was it better with grace ; plead his satisfaction, his merits and his me than now.' Cry out with Job, “O that I were promises ; away with thy rebellion, and thy be- as in months past! as in the days when God loved sin ; deliver up thy soul entirely to Christ, preserved me! when his candle shined upon my to be sanctified, governed and saved by him. head and when by his light I walked through Make no more delays about it; it is not a matter darkness. As I was in the days of my youth, to be questioned, or trifled in. Let the earth when the secret of God was on my tabernacle, be acquainted with thy bended knees, the air when the Almighty was yet with me.' Return with thy complaints and cries, and men with while thou hast day, lest the night surprise thee : thy confessions and inquiries after the way of loiter and delay no more : thou hast lost by it life ; and heaven with thy sorrows, desires and already : thou art far behind; bestir thee thereresolutions, till thy soul be acquainted with the fore with all thy might. Spirit of Christ, and with the new, the holy and 9. Art thou in the darkness of uncertainty conheavenly nature; and thy heart have received cerning thy conversion and thy everlasting state? the transcript of God's law, the impress of the Dost thou not know whether thou be in a state gospel, and so the image of thy creator and re- of life or death; and what should become of deemer. Ply this work with all thy might ; for thee, if this were the day or hour of thy change? there is no conversion, renovation, or repentance if thou art careful about it, and inquirest, and unto life, in the grave whither thou goest. It usest the means that God hath appointed thee must be now or never, and never saved, if never for assurance, I have then no more to say to sanctified.

but wait on God, and thou shalt not 7. Hast thou any prevailing sin to mortify, be disappointed or ashamed. Thou shalt bave that either reigns in thee, or wounds thee and assurance in due time, or be saved before thou keeps thy soul in darkness and unacquainted wouldst believe thou shouldst be saved. Be paness with God ? Assault it resolutely: reject it tient and obedient, and the light of Christ will

thee now,

shine upon thee, and yet thou shalt see the days | hell itself that thou art praying to be saved from. of peace. But if thou art careless in thy un- Wilt thou be dull and senseless on such an errand certainty, and mindest not so great a business, to the living God ? Remember what lies upon be awakened and call thy soul to its account ; thy failing or prevailing, and that it must be now search and examine thy heart and life: read, or never. consider, and take advice of faithful guides. Art thou a preacher of the gospel, and takest Canst thou carelessly sleep, laugh, sport, and charge of the souls of men ? • Take heed to thyfollow thy lesser business, as if thy salvation self and to the whole flock, over which the Holy were made sure, when thou knowest not where Ghost hath made thee an overseer, to feed the thou must dwell for ever ? • Examine yourselves church of God, which he hath purchased with whether you be in the faith? prove yourselves ; his own blood. Let not the blood of souls, and know ye not your own selves that Christ is in the blood that purchased them, be required at you except you are reprobates ?—Give all dili- thy hands ; thou art charged before God, and gence in time to make your calling and election the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick sure. In the grave and hell there is no making and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom, sure of heaven : you are then past inquiries and that thou preach the word; be instant in season self-examinations, in order to any reco

covery or and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort hope. Another kind of trial will finally resolve with all long-suffering and doctrine.—Teach you. Up therefore and diligently ply the work : every man, and exhort every man.—Even night it must be now or never.

and day with tears.—Save men with fear, pulling 10. In all the duties of thy profession of piety, them out of the fire.-Cry aloud ; lift up thy justice, or charity, to God, thyself, or others, up voice like a trumpet ; tell them of their transand be doing with thy might. Art thou seeking gressions. Yet thou art alive, and they alive; to inflame thy soul with love to God ? plunge yet thou hast a tongue, and they have ears: the thyself in the ocean of his love ; admire his mer- final sentence hath not yet cut off their hopes. cies ; gaze upon the representations of his trans- Preach therefore, and preach with all thy might. cendent goodness ; 0 taste and see that the Exhort them privately and personally with all the Lord is gracious! Remember that he must be seriousness thou canst. Quickly, or it will be 'loved with all thy heart and soul and might.' too late. Prudently, or Satan will over-reach Canst thou pour out thy love upon a creature, and thee : fervently, or thy words are like to be disgive but a few barren drops to God?

regarded. Remember when thou lookest them When thou art fearing him, let his fear com- in the face, when thou beholdest the assemblies, mand thy soul, and conquer all the fear of man. that they must be converted or condemned, sanc

When thou art trusting him, do it without tified on earth or tormented in hell ; and that distrust, and cast all thy care and thyself upon this is the day: it must be now or never. him : trust him as a creature should trust his In a word : apply this quickening precept to God, and the members of Christ should trust their all the duties of the Christian course. Be relihead and dear Redeemer.

gious, just, and charitable in good earnest, if When thou art making mention of his great and you would be taken for such when you look for dreadful name, 0 do it with reverence, awe, and the reward. “Work out your salvation with fear admiration : and take not the name of God in and trembling.–Strive to enter in at the strait vain.

gate; for many shall seek to enter and shall not When thou art reading his word, let the ma- be able.—Many run, but few receive the prize : jesty of the author, the greatness of the mat- so run that you may obtain.--If the righteous ter, and gravity of the style, possess thee with an scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and obedient fear. Love it, and let it be sweeter to the sinner appear?' Let the doating world dethee than the honeycomb, and more precious than ride your diligence, and set themselves to hinder thousands of gold and silver. Resolve to do and afflict you : it will be but a little while before what there thou findest to be the will of God. experience change their minds, and make them see When thou art praying in secret, or in thy it in a true light. Follow Christ fully: ply your family, do it with thy might : cry mightily to God work, and lose no time. The judge is coming. Let as a soul under sin, wants, and danger, that is not words nor any thing that man can do, prevail stepping into an endless life, should do. Let with you to sit down, or stop you in a journey the reverence and the fervour of thy prayers of such importance. Please God, though flesh, show that it is God himself thou art speaking to ; friends, and all the world should be displeased. that it is heaven itself that thou art praying for ; Whatever come of your reputation, or estates,

« PreviousContinue »