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hinderers ? O treacherous guides ! O miserable But, 1. I here solemnly profess that I hate helps! Are not our dark understandings, our these crimes as well as you; and that it is not earthly, dull and backward hearts, our passions any part of my intention to plead for intemperand troubled affections, our appetites and sensual ance, disobedience in lawful things, for schism, inclinations, our natural strangeness and averse- or faction, or any irregularity: this I here put ness to God, heaven and holiness, enough to in against those that are disposed to misunderhinder us without you? Are not all the temp- stand and misrepresent us, and leave it, as on retations of the devil, the allurements of the flesh cord, to prove them slanderers, that shall accuse and world, the impediments of poverty and riches, me of defending any such thing. I protest of flattery and of frowns, of friends and foes, against those on the other side, that will seek in our callings, are not all these enough to cool encouragement for any transgression from my us and keep us from serving God too much, and necessary plea for the holy industry and vigilbeing too careful and diligent for our souls, but ance of believers.
And moreover, I profess preachers themselves must be our impediments that it is only the opposers of holiness that I and snares ? Now the Lord deliver our souls mean in this defence, and have not the least infrom such impediments, and his church from tent to intimate that any others are guilty of such unhappy guides!
that crime who are not. But having premised 9. Consider whom thou imitatest in this.
Is this protestation, to prevent mistakes and false it Christ, or Satan? Christ calls men to 'strive,' reports, I answer now to the guilty. to · labour,' to seek first,' to watch,' to 'pray 2. If it be crimes only that you are against, always,' and 'not wax faint.' The apostles call deliver yourself so, as you may not lay reproach men to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; or suspicion on godliness, which is most opposite to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, to all crimes. Cannot you preach against divito pray continually, to be a chosen generation, a sions, disobedience, or any other sin, without royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar peo- any scornful intimations or reflections against ple, to show forth the praises of him that hath nen’s diligent serving of the Lord. called us, and offer up spiritual sacrifices accept- 3. Why do not you commend those that are able to God by Jesus Christ.—To fight the not liable to your accusations, encourage them good fight of faith, and lay hold upon eternal in holiness, and draw others to imitate them ? life.— To serve God acceptably (being as a con- And why do you not commend the good, while suming fire) with reverence and godly fear.--To you discommend the evil that is mingled with it? be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the
4. Shall health and life be made a scorn, bework of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our cause there are few but have some distemper or labour is not in vain in the Lord.' And dare you disease ? Shall Christianity and holiness be segainsay the Lord and his apostles, concur with cretly reproached, because all Christians have Satan, and the Pharisees and enemies of Christ? some fault to be accused of? If men be faulty,
10. You do your worst to make the sacred you should persuade them to be more strict and office of the ministry become contemptible, as diligent, and not less; it is for want of watchfulEli's sons did: poor people that cannot suffi. ness and strictness that they sin. Nothing is more ciently distinguish the doctrine from the appli- contrary to their faults than holiness. There is no cation, the office from the person, the use from other way for their full reformation. And therethe abuse, will be tempted to run from the ordi-fore all true humbled Christians are ready to nances of God, and think the worse of others for confess their faultiness themselves ; but so far your sakes, and suspect all their food, because you are they from thinking the worse of piety for it, mix such poison in it. The more holy and ne- that it is one great reason that moves them to cessary the office and work is, the greater is your go on, to read, hear, pray, meditate, and do so sin in corrupting it, or making it suspected or much, that they may get more strength against abhorred.
their faults. Must they think ill of food, phyConsider soberly of these things, and then sic, and exercise, because they are infirm? All go on and speak against a life of holy diligence, faithful ministers tell their people plainly of their if you dare.
sins, so far as they are acquainted with them, as I know you say it is not godliness, but singu. well as you: but they do it not in a way relarity, or humour, or disobedience, or hypocrisy, proachful to their holy diligence: they do not or faction, that you oppose; and perhaps you therefore call them off from godliness, nor tempt instance in some that are guilty of some of these, them to be less in the use of means, but more, or seem so at the least.
by how much their need is greater. A holy heart, and a malignant heart, will show their dif- gamesters, by a more gentle, less disgraceful ference in the reproving of the same fault. The name; to say a man becomes a preacher, wben one lays all the odium on the vice, and honours he modestly reproves another for his sins, or the holy obedience of the saints. The other charitably exhorts him in order to his salvation, fastens his sting upon the godly, and under pre-or gives any necessary plain instruction to his tence of dishonouring their faults, doth seek to family, for whom he must give account? Believe fasten the dishonour on their holiness. Those it, it will be a poor excuse to any man, that bethat are so minded, will never want occasion or comes an enemy to the diligence of a saint, that pretence, for the worst that Satan would have he could thus cloak his malice, and clothe a saint them say. The church will never be without with the vizor of a hypocrite, and the rags of some hypocrites, and scandals, nor the best with any vdious sect. out some faults and passions; nor the holiest ac- If the pharisees were to be believed, it was tion without some mixture of human frailty and not they, but Christ that was the hypocrite; por infirmity; nor will the very goodness and holi- was it the Son of God, but an enemy to Cæsar, ness of the action, be free from plausible calum- and a blasphemer, that they put to death. But nies and scorns, while there is the wit and venom will not Christ know his sheep though he find of the serpent in the heads and hearts of wicked them torn in a wolf's skin ? You say it is turmen.
bulent precisians that you strike ; but what if How easy is it to put a name of ignominy Christ find but one of the least of his brethren upon every person and every duty; to charge bleeding by it? It is but hypocrites or schismaany man with hypocrisy, or pride; to take the tics that you reproach ; but if Christ find an wisest man for self-conceited, because he is not humble, serious Christian suffering by your abuse, of the accuser's mind; to call our obedience to and you to answer it, I would not be in your God, by the name of disobedience unto man, place for all the greatness and honour that you when man forbids it, as they used the three wit- shall have before your everlasting shame. If nesses, and Daniel himself, for praying in his Tertullus accuse a pestilent fellow, and a mover house, though they confessed they had nothing of sedition, and Christ find a holy, laborious else against him; to call God's truth by the name apostle in bonds and suffering by it, it is not his of heresy, and heresy by the name of truth; to names that will excuse him, and make an apostle, charge all with schism that dare not subject their or persecution to be another thing. souls to the usurpation and arrogant impositions To return to the endangered flocks: look upof the sons of pride, that have neither authority wards, my hearers, and think whether heaven be nor ability to govern us, as the Papists deal with worth your labour. Look downwards, and think the greatest part of the Christian world; to lay whether earth be more worthy of it. Lay up snares for men's consciences, and then accuse your treasures where you must dwell for ever. them for falling into those snares; to make new If that be here, then gather, flatter, and get all articles of faith, till they have transcended the that you can : but if it be not here, but in anocapacity of divine and rational belief, and then ther life, then hearken to your Lord, lay up for condemn us for not believing them; to make yourselves a treasure in heaven, and there let laws for the church, unnecessary in their own your very hearts be set. And upon the peril of opinion, and sinful in other men’s ; command everlasting misery, hearken not to any man that things which they know that others think the will tempt you from a diligent holy life. It is a Lord forbids, and then load them with the suf- serious business, deal seriously in it; and be ferings and reproaches of the disobedient, tur- not laughed or mocked out of heaven, by the bulent, heretical, schismatical, or seditious; to sneers of a distracted sensual atheist. If any call men factious, if they will not be of their of them will pretend sobriety and wisdom, and faction, and sectarians, if they will not unreason- undertake to prove that God should not be loved ably subject their souls to them, and join with and served, and your salvation sought with all an imperious sect against the catholic unity and your might, with greater care and diligence than simplicity, all which the Romanists practise upon any earthly thing, procure me a sober conferthe church of Christ. How easy, but how un- ence with that man, and try whether I prove reasonable, and yet how irresistible is all this ; him to be a befooled servant of the devil, a mis. how easy is it to call a meeting of sober Chris-chievous enemy of your salvation and his own. tians, for prayer and mutual edification, such as O that we might have but sober debates, instead that was, by the name of a factious, schismatical of jeers and scorns and railing, with this sort of conventicle ; and a meeting of drunkards, or I men! How quickly should we show you that
they must renounce the scripture, and renounce not what you are called or taken to be, but what Christianity, and, if that be nothing with them, you are. Says he, 'Inwardly consider of thyself that they must renounce God, renounce right and judge not what thou art by the words of reason, unman themselves, if they will renounce others: for the most part good men are called a holy heavenly life, and blame them that make fools and dotards : let me be so derided. The it their principal business in the world to prepare reproaches of the ignorant or unskilful, must be for the world to comė.
patiently heard, and this contempt of one that But if they will not be intreated to such a follows virtue, must be contemned.' Yea, it is sober conference, will you that hear them, if you the highest honour to be content to be accounted care what becomes of you, but come to us, and bad, that we may not be so; and the greatest hear what we can say for a holy life, before you trial whether we be indeed sincere, to put to hearken to them ; let your souls have fair play, it, to be either accounted hypocrites, or to be and show that you have so much love to your- such. Methinks I can scarcely too often recite selves, as not to cast away salvation at the deri- that excellent saying of Seneca, . No man seems sion of a fool, before you have heard the other to set a higher price on virtue ;, no man seems side.
to be more devoted to it, than he that hath lost If I make not good the strictest law of God the reputation of being a good man, lest he should Almighty, against the most subtle cavils of any lose his conscience.' of the instruments of Satan, then tell me that But perhaps you will ask, may not a man be infidels or epicures are in the right. Compare righteous overmuch? their words with words of God. Consider well I answer, it is making a man's self overwise but that one text, and tell me whether it suit or righteous, that is there reproved. And no with their opinions, “Seeing all these things must doubt but, 1. Many take on them or make thembe dissolved, what manner of persons ought we selves more wise and righteous than they are ; to be in all manner of holy conversation and that is, are hypocrites. 2. As righteousness is godliness; looking for and hastening to the taken materially and in common estimation, so coming of the day of God! Did these words a man may be too righteous. He may be too but sink into your hearts, the next time you rigorous, which is called justice ; too much heard any man reproach a holy, heavenly life, it in grief or fear, or trouble ; and too much in would perhaps make you think of the words of any outward act that goes under the name of Paul to such another, “O full of all subtilty and duty, But it is not then truly and formally all mischief, thou child of the devil; thou enemy duty and righteousness, but sin. As, to fast to of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to per- the disabling the body for God's service : to vert the right ways of the Lord ?'
pray when we should hear: to hear when we If holiness be evil spoken of by them that should be about some greater work of mercy or never tried it, what wonder! Christ hath fore- necessity: to neglect our outward labour and told us that it must be so. • Blessed are ye calling on pretence of religion: to set up sacriwhen men shall revile you and persecute you, fice against or before mercy: to sorrow when and say all manner of evil against you falsely, we should rejoice: to meditate, fear, and grieve, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, beyond what the mind can bear, till it distract for great is
your reward in heaven ; for so per- us: this is called, being righteous overmuch secuted they the prophets which were before you. as also to make us a religion of our own inven
- If ye were of the world, the world would love tion, to overdo with will-worship and the trahis own; but because ye are not of the world, ditions of men, as the pharisees and papists. but I have chosen you out of the world, there. But indeed this is not righteousness but sin : to fore the world hateth you.— They think it strange be formally overmuch righteous, is a contradicthat
you run not with them to the same excess tion, and impossible. For to go beyond the rule of riot, speaking evil of you, who shall give ac- is unrighteousness : and to do too much is to count to him that is ready to judge the quick go beyond the rule. Unless you dare imagine, and dead. - If ye be reproached for the name of that God hath erred, that the rule itself is overChrist, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory, strict, and the law is unrighteous : but then how and of God, resteth upon you. On their part he shall God judge the world ?' saith the apostle. is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glori- Shall not the Judge of all the world do rightefied. Seneca himself often tells us, that among ously?' Nay, how then should he be God ? the heathens virtue was a derision, so far is the And is there any thing now left but ignorance nature of man degenerated. The question is or wickedness to stand up against thy speedy diligence ? Away then with thy delays and what are these to the things that thou art called slothfulness. If thou wilt serve God with to prosecute! Hold on then, Christians, in the all thy might, let it be seen ; if thou wilt work that you have begun. Do it prudently, be a Christian indeed, let deeds declare it. and do it universally. Take it together, both Christianity is not a dead opinion. If really thou works of piety, justice, and charity : but do it live in hope of heaven, such hopes will make thee now without delay, and do it seriously with your stir for the attainment. Why standest thou idle, might. I know not what cloud of darkness hath when thou art born for work, and all thy facul- seized on those men's minds that speak against ties are given thee for work, and thou art re- this, or what deadly damp hath seized on their deemed for work; for evangelical work. If hearts, that hath so benumbed and unmanned thou be sanctified, thou hast the Spirit of Christ, a them. For my own part, though I have long quickening, working principle within thee; which lived in a sense of the preciousness of time, and way canst thou look, that thou mayest see that have not been wholly idle in the world ; yet which would shame a slothful soul, and fire a cold when I have the deepest thoughts of the great and frozen heart, and call thee up to a speedy everlasting consequences of my work, and of the industry? What quickening words shalt thou uncertainty and shortness of my time, I am even find in scripture, if thou wilt but bring thy heart amazed to think that my heart can be so slow thither, as one that is willing to be quickened ? and senseless, as to do no more in such a case. What powerful commands, what promises, what The Lord knows, and my accusing, wounded threatenings, what holy examples of exceeding conscience knows, that my slothfulness is so diligence of Christ and his apostles ? See how much my shame and admiration, that I am astonthe godly about thee are at work, though the ished to think that my resolutions are no stronger, world oppose them and deride them! How ear- my affections no livelier, and my labour and dilinestly they pray! how carefully they walk ! how gence no greater, when God is the commander, sadly they complain that they are no better! his love the encourager, his wrath the spur, and Hast thou not an immortal soul to save or lose heaven or hell must be the issue. O what lives as well as they? See what a stir the proud am- should all of us live, that have things of such bitious person makes for less than nothing ; unspeakable consequence on our hands, if our what a stir the covetous and the voluptuous make hearts were not almost dead within us! Let wbo for a sweetened draught of mortal poison! And will speak against such a lie, it shall be my daily shall we be idle that are engaged for heaven ? Is grief and regret that I am so dull, and do so it reason that we should do less for God and our little. I know that our works do not profit the salvation, than they do for sinful pleasure to Almighty, nor bear any proportion with his redamnation? You cannot mock them out of their ward ; nor can they stand in his sight, but as pride or covetousness: and shall they mock thee accepted in the Lord our righteousness, and perout of thy religion, and thy hopes of heaven? fumed by the odour of his merits. But I know All the commands, promises, and threatenings they are necessary, and they are sweet. Withof God, the most powerful preaching, that, as it out the holy employment of our faculties, this were, sets open heaven and hell to them, doth life will be but a burden or a dream, and the not prevail with fleshly men to leave the most next an inexpressible misery. Otherefore that unmanly sin : and shall the words or frowns of I had more of the love of God, that my soul dust prevail with thee against the work for which could get but nearer to him, and more swiftly thou livest in the world, when thou hast still at move upward by faith and love! O that I had hand unanswerable arguments from God, from more of that holy life, and active diligence, thyself, from heaven and hell, to put thee on? which the serpentine, Cainish nature doth abhor, Were it but for thy life, or the life of thy child though I had with it the scorns of all about me, dren, friend, yea, or enemy, or for the quenching and though they made me as they once did better of a fire in thy house, or in the town, wouldst men, as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring thou not stir and do thy best ? And wilt thou of all things! O that I had more of this derided be idle when eternal life lies on it? Let Satan diligence, and holy converse with the Lord, frown against thee by his instruments. Let sense- though my name were cast out as an evil doer, less sinners talk a while of they know not what, and I were spit at and buffeted by those that do till God hath made them change their note, let now but secretly reproach ! Might I nearly follow what will be the consequence to thy flesh. Christ in holiness, why should I grudge to bear
These are not matters for a man much to ob- his cross, and to be used as he was used? Knowserve, that is engaged for an endless life. oling that if we suffer with him, we shall alon reign with him ; and the sufferings of this pre- | that malice can inflict on such, than to have sent time are not worthy to be compared with the braved it out in pride and gallantry, with the glory which shall be revealed in us.'
neglect of the great salvation. I tell you again, If when we have done all, we are but unpro- there is not an ungodly person that hears me, fitable servants, and must say, we have done but but ere long would give a world if he were owner our duty, have we not all more need of moni- of a holy heart and life, that he had spent his tors to humble us for doing so much less than days in holy watchful preparations for his change, our duty, than to be reprehended for being too which he spent for that which will deceive hiin diligent and exact ?
and forsake him. I again protest, that it is not any works of Methinks I even see how you will passionately super-errogation, or human invention, supersti- rage against yourselves, and tear your hearts with tion, or self-appointment, that I am defending, self-revenge, if grace prevent it not by a more but only the accurate obeying of the laws of safe repentance, when you think too late how God, and the utmost diligence in such obedience, you lived on earth, what golden times of grace for the obtaining of everlasting life. Either you lost, and vilified all that would not lose them God hath commanded these works of holiness, as foolishly as you. If repentance unto life justice, and charity, or not. If he have not, made Paul so call himself 'foolish, disobedient, then I have done, and yield the cause : it is only deceived, and exceeding mad, you may imagine what he hath commanded that I plead for. O how tormenting repentance will make you call that before you either speak against any holy yourselves too late. duty, or yourselves neglect it, you would but You cannot now conceive, while you sit here come to us, and soberly join in searching the in health, ease and honour, what different thoughts holy scriptures,' to see whether it be required will then possess you of a holy and unholy life! there or not; and resolve but to obey it, if we How mad you will think them that had but one prove it thence: and if it be not a matter of life's time of preparation for eternal life, and human imposition, we leave you to yourselves, desperately neglected it: how sensible you will and should desire that you may be much left to then be of the wisdom of believers, that knew yourselves in such things; that you place not their time, and used it while they had it. Now too much of your religion therein. But if in- wisdom is justified of all her children:' but then deed it be commanded in the word of God, I how sensibly will it be justified of all its enebeseech you, as you are Christians, and as you mies! With what pangs will undone souls look are men, remember that whenever you blame back on a life of mercy and opportunities, thus or scorn a holy duty, it is God himself that you basely undervalued, slept away in dreaming blame or scorn. If it be naught, it belongs to idleness, and fooled away for things of nought. him that did command it: the subject must The language of that condemned rich man, in obey: should not such worms as we obey the in- Luke xvi. may help you in your predictions. O finite God that made us? If it be a fault to how will you wonder at yourselves that ever you obey, it is a duty to rebel, or disobey ; that could be so blind and senseless, as to be no more inust be because that God hath no authority to affected with the warnings of the Lord, and with command, and that must be because he is not the forethoughts of everlasting joy or misery! God. See whether you bring your opposition To have but one small part of time to do all that to an holy life: and dare you stand to this ? ever must be done by you for eternity, and say Dare you as openly mock God for making these all that ever you must say for your own or others' strict and holy laws, as you do men for obeying souls, and that this was spent in worse than nothem ? None but a professed atheist dare. thing; to have but one uncertain life, in which
Alas, it is nothing but intoxicating prosperity, you must run the race that wins or loses heaven sensual delights, and worldly diversions, that for ever ; that you should be tempted by a thing turn your brains, and leave you not the sober of nought, to lose that one irrecoverable opporuse of reason, that makes you think well of un- tunity, and to sit still or run another way, when godly slothfulness, and makes you think so con- you should have been making haste with all your temptuously of a heavenly life. I tell you, and might; the thoughts of this will be other kind remember another day that you were told of it, of thoughts another day, than now you feel that there is not the boldest infidel in the world, them; you cannot now think how the thoughts nor the bitterest enemy to holiness in this as- of this will then affect you! That you had a sembly, but shortly would wish they had rather time in which you might have prayed, with probeen saints in rags, with all the scorn and cruelty ! mise of acceptance, and had no hearts to take