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that time; that Christ was offered you as well / of Christ I have called you into his vineyard, as he was offered them that entertained him ; told you of your work and wages, and shamed that you were called on and warned as well as your excuses and objections this day. Come they, but obstinately despised and neglected all; away then speedily from the snares of sinners, that life and death were set before you, and the the company of deceived, hardened men, and everlasting joys were offered to your choice, cast away the works of darkness! Heaven is against the charms of sinful pleasures ; you might before you ; death is at hand; the eternal God have freely had them if you would, and were told hath sent to call you ; mercy doth yet stretch that holiness was the only way, that it must be forth its arms; you have stayed too long, and now or never, and yet you chose your own de- abused patience too much already: stay no struction! These thoughts will be part of hell longer! O now please God, and comfort us, to the ungodly. They will wonder that reason and save yourselves by resolving that this shall could be so unreasonable ; and they that had be the day; faithfully performing of this your the common wit of man in other matters, should resolution. Up and be doing: believe, repent, be so far beside themselves in that which is the desire, obey, and do all this with all your might. only thing that it is commendable to be wise for; Love him that you must love for ever, and love that such sottish reasonings should prevail with him with all your soul and might; seek that them against the clearest light, that nothing which is truly worth the seeking, and will pay for should be preferred before all things, and argu- all your cost and pains: and seek it first with all ments brought from chaff and dust, should conquer your might; remembering still it must be now those that were sent from heaven! What heartrending thoughts will these be, when eternity Before I conclude, I have two messages yet shall afford them leisure for an impartial re- to deliver to the servants of the Lord : the one view ; yea, that they should deceive others also is of encourageinent; the other of direction. with such a gross deceit, and scorn at all that I know that many of you have a threefold would not be as mad as they ; that being drunken trouble, which requires a threefold comfort and with the world's delusion, they should abuse all encouragement. that were truly sober ; that the one thing need- One is, that you have done so little of your ful, should seem to them a needless thing; that work; but lost so much of your time already: their tongues should plead for these delusions of another is, that you are so opposed and hindered. their wicked hearts; that they should be enemies The greatest of all is, that you are yet so dull to those that would not be enemies to God and to and slow: the cure of which must be the matter themselves, and cast away their time and souls of my directions. as they did! They will wonder, with self-indig- 1. For the first : that you have lost your time, nation, what could bewitch them into so great must be the matter of your humiliation : but unreasonableness, below a man, against the light that all is not lost, before you see your sin and of nature, as well as of supernatural revelation. duty ; but yet the patience and mercy of the
Honourable and beloved hearers, I beseech Lord are attending you, and continuing your you do not take it ill, that I speak so much of hope; this is the matter of your comfort and enthese matters that are so unpleasant and unwel- couragement. Repent therefore that you came come to unbelieving, careless, carnal hearts : it no sooner home: but rejoice that you are come is that I may prevent all this in time, by the home at last; and now be more diligent in reawakenings of true repentance. O that this deeming your time, in remembrance of the time might be the success felt—that I might hear, by already lost: though it must be your grief that your penitent confessions, and see by your uni- your Master hath been deprived of so much of versal speedy reformations, that God hath so his service, and others of so much good which great mercy for you, that these persuasions might you should have done them, and that time is lost be the means of so much happiness to you, and which cannot be recalled; yet it is your comfort, comfort unto me! However this assembly shall that your own reward may be equal with them be witnesses that you were warned ; conscience that have borne the burden and heat of the day: shall be witness, that if you waste the rest of for many that are last, in the time of their comyour days in the pleasures and vanities of this ing in, shall be first in receiving the reward. deceitful world, it was not because you could This is the meaning of that parable in Mat. xx. have no better, and were not called to higher which was spoken to encourage them that had things. That if you yet stand idle, it is not be- stood out too long, and to rebuke the envy and cause you could not be hired. For in the name l high expectations of them that came in sooner ; and it is no whit contradictory to those passages | hands of Christ ? Mark how they used David ; in Mat. xxv. which intimate a different de- every day they wrest my words: all their gree of glory to be given to them that have thoughts are against me for evil : they gather different degrees of grace upon their indus- themselves together : they hide themselves : they trious improvement. The former parable shows mark my steps when they wait for my soul.' that men shall not be rewarded differently But did he therefore fear, or fly from God? for their longer or shorter continuance in the No, what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee; work, but that those that come in late, and yet in God will I praise his word; in God have I are found with equal holiness, shall be rewarded put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do equally with the first : and more, if their holiness unto me.—Hearken to me ye that know rightbe more, which the latter parable expresses, de- eousness, the people in whose heart is my law; claring God's purpose to give them the greatest fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye glory, that have improved their holiness to the afraid of their revilings; for the moth shall eat greatest measure. O therefore that the sense of them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat your former unkindness might provoke you the them like wool: but my righteousness shall be more resolvedly to give up yourselves in fervent for ever, and my salvation from generation to love and full obedience ! and then you will find generation. You deserve to be shut out of heathat your time is redeemed, though it cannot be ven, if you will not bear the breath of a fool's recalled ; and that mercy hath secured your full derision for it. reward. What an unspeakable mercy is this ! 3. But saith the self-accusing soul, I am conthat if yet you will devote yourselves entirely to vinced that I ought to be laborious for my salChrist, and serve him with your might, the little vation, and that all this is too little that I can time that yet remains, he will take it as if you do ; but I am dull, cold, and negligent in all : I had come in at the first hour of the day! am far from doing it with my might: I hear,
2. As for the opposition and hinderances in read, and pray as if I did it not, and as if I were your way, they are no other than what your half asleep, or my heart were away upon someLord foretold. He hath gone before you, and what else. I fear I am but a lazy hypocrite. conquered much more than ever you will encoun- Answ. I shall first speak to thy doubt, and then ter from without, though he had not a body of proceed to direct thee against thy sin. sin to conquer ; and in that respect the conquest First. You must be resolved whether your of his Spirit in his members, hath the pre-eminence sloth be such as is predominant, or mortified ; of his personal conquest. He hath bid you be such as proves that you are dead in sin ; or only of good cheer, because he hath overcome the such as proves you but diseased and infirm. world. If you will not take up your cross and To know this you must distinguish, 1. Between follow him, you cannot be his disciples. would the dullness and coldness of the affections, and you be soldiers on condition you may not fight, the unresolvedness and disobedience of the soul. or fight and yet have no opposition ? Follow 2. Between a slothfulness that keeps men from a the Captain of your salvation. If mocking, or godly life'in a life of wickedness; and that which buffeting, or spitting in his face, or hanging him only keeps them from some particular act of duty, upon a cross, or piercing his side, would have or abates the degree of their sincere affection and made him give up the work of your redemption, obedience. 3. Between that sloth which is the viyou had been left to utter desperation. The cious habit of the will, and that which is the efopposition that is conquerable, should serve but fect of age, or sickness, or melancholy, or other to excite your courage and resolution in a case distemper of the body. of such necessity, where you must prevail, or So the case lies plain before you. 1. If it be not perish. Have you God himself on your side, only your affections that are dull, but your will and Christ your captain, and the Spirit of Christ through sloth is unresolved; and this not only in to give you courage, and the promise to invite a temptation to the abatement of some degrees, you, and heaven before you, hell behind you, and the neglect of some particular duty, but and the examples of such an army of conquering against a holy life, and against the forsaking of believers : and shall the scorns or threats of a your reigning sin ; and this be not only through worm prevail against all these for your discour- some bodily distemper, disabling your reason, agement ? You are not afraid lest any man but from the vicious habit of your wills ; then is should pull down the sun, or dry up the sea, or your sloth a mortal sign, and proves you in a overturn the earth : and are you afraid that man graceless state : but if the sloth which you comshould conquer God: or take you out of the plain of be only dullness of your affections, and the backwardness of your wills to some high | any two-edged sword, piercing even to the didegrees, or particular duties, and the effect of viding asunder of soul and spirit, and it is a dissome bodily distemper, or the weakness of your cerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. spiritual life, while your wills are habitually re- Therefore it may do much to make you feel. solved for God and a holy life, against a worldly, Many a thousand hath it pricked at the heart, fleshly life: this is your infirmity, and a sin to and sent them home alive, that before were dead. be lamented, but not a mark of death and grace- Much more may you expect, that it should exlessness.
cite the principle which you have already. You will have a backward, slothful heart to Direction 4. If it may be, converse with strive with while you live: but bless God that lively, active, stirring Christians : but especially you are offended with it, and would fain be de- have one such for a bosom friend, that will warm livered from it. This was Paul's evidence. you when you are cold, help to awake you when You will have flesh, and Aesh will plead for its you drop asleep, and will not comply with you interest, and will be striving against the Spirit ; in a declining, lazy and unprofitable course. but bless God that you have also the Spirit to Two are better than one, because they have a strive against the flesh. Be thankful that you good reward for their labour : for if they fall, have life to feel your sickness, though you lan- the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him guish under it, and cannot work as healthful that is alone when he falleth ; for he hath not men; and that you are in the way to heaven, another to help him up. Again, if two lie tothough you go not so fast as you should and gether, then they have heat ; but how can one would.
alone be warm? And if one prevail against him, 2. But yet though you have life, it is so griev- two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord ous to be diseased and languish under such an is not quickly broken.' infirmity as sloth, that I advise you to stir up Direction 5. Put not away from you the day yourselves to the utmost, and give not way to a of death. Look not for long life. It is the life lazy temper : and that you may serve the Lord to come that must be the life of all your duties with all your might, I recommend these few di- here, and distant things lose their force. Set rections to your observation.
death, judgment, and eternal life continually as Direction 1. When you would be quickened near at hand: live in a watchful expectation of up to seriousness and diligence, have ready at your change : do all as dying men, and as passhand such quickening considerations as are here ing to receive the recompence of endless joy or before propounded to you; set them before you, woe, and this will quicken you. To this end, and labour to work them upon your hearts. go often to the house of mourning, and be not Powerful truths would have some power upon unseasonably or immoderately in the house of your souls, if you will but soberly apply your mirth. When you observe what is the end of reason to them, and plead them with yourselves, all men, the heart will be made better by it. as you would do with another in any of your re. But excess of carnal mirth doth infatuate men, proofs or exhortations.
destroy their wisdom, seriousness, and sobriety. Direction 2. Take heed lest any worldly de- Keep always a sense of the brevity of life, and sign or interest, or any lusts or sensual delight, of the preciousness of time, and remember that divert your minds from God and duty. For all it is posting on whether you work or play : methe powers of your soul will languish, when you thinks, if you forget any of the rest, this one should set them on work on spiritual things, and consideration that we have in hand, should make your hearts will be abroad, when you should be you bestir with your might, that it must be now wholly taken up with God, if once they be entangled with worldly things. Watch therefore I shall only add two needful cautions, lest over them in your callings, lest the creature steal while we cure one disease, we cause another, as too deep into your affections : for if you be knowing that corrupted nature is used to run alive to the world, you will be in that measure from one extreme into another. dead to God.
1. Desire and labour more for an high estiDirection 3. If it be possible, live under a mation of things spiritual and eternal, and a lively ministry, that when your hearts go cold fixed resolution, and an even and diligent endeaand dull unto the assemblies, they may come vour, than for passionate feelings and affections. warm and quickened home. Life cherishes life for these latter are more unconstant in the best, as fire kindles fire. The word and ordinances and depend much on the temper of the body, of God are quick, powerful, and sharper than and are not of so great necessity as the former,
though excellent in a just degree and season. tence of exalting Christ, did set up a heartless, For it is possible that passion even about good lifeless doctrine, that tended to turn out the life things may be too much ; when estimation, re- of Christianity, and take men off their necessolution, and regular endeavours cannot. sary diligence, as a legal, dangerous thing?
2. Be suspicious when you have the warmest What ordinance of God hath not been cast and liveliest affections, lest your judgment should out by preachers themselves upon religious prebe perverted by following, when they should tences; as family duties, catechising, singing of lead. It is very common for zeal and strong psalms, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and what affections, even to that which is good, to occa- not? If all these were down, wherein should sion the mistakes of the understanding, and make the practice of religion consist? And what men look all on one side, and think they can abundance of pamphlets had we, that laboured to never go far enough from some particular sins, make the orthodox, faithful ministry a very scorn, till ignorantly they are carried into some perhaps and derided them for their faithful service of God, as great on the other hand. Be warned, by the and their faithfulness to their superiors in opposad experience of these times, to suspect your sition to their unrighteous ways? judgments in the fervour of your affections. Let no Papist, or any enemy of our church,
Observing these cautions, let nothing abate reproach us because such enemies to holiness are your zeal and diligence ; but whatever duty is found among us. Can it be expected that our set before you, do it with your might; for it church should be better than the family of must be now or never.
Adam, that had a Cain; or of Noah, that had a Though I know that the enmity to a holy, hea- Ham; or of Christ, that had a Judas? And venly life is so deeply seated in corrupted na- are there not far more enemies to serious godliture, that all that I have said is necessary and ness among the Papists themselves, than among too little; yet some, I know, will think it strange us ? There is no place, no rank of men in the that I should intimate that any who preach the world, where some of the enemies of a holy life gospel are guilty of any measure of this sin, are not to be found, even among those that proand will think that I intend by it to reflect upon fess the same religion in doctrinals, with those some parties above the rest. But again I pro- whom they oppose. Christ and the devil have fess, that it is no party but the devil's party, and their several armies ; if once the devil disband the ungodly party, that I mean. It is hard if his soldiers, and have none to oppose a holy life, you will not believe me concerning my own then tell me that it is a needless thing to defend
Nor is it my desire that any of the it and to confute them. But I am listed under odiousness of schism, sedition, rebellion, or dis-Christ, and will never give over pleading for obedience to authority, should be so much as him, till his adversaries give over pleading against diminished by any man's profession of godliness. him, and his cause, as long as he continues my No, I beseech you, by how much the more godly liberty and duty. Blessed be the Lord, that if you are, by so much the more you will detest all a hypocritical preacher be found among us, who these; godliness tends to shame and condemn secretly or openly disgraces a diligent, holy life, these odious sins, and not to be a cloak for them or there are more able, holy, faithful ones to conany extenuation ; Nay, what can more aggravate fute him, both by doctrine and by their lives, them, than that they should be found in the pro- than are to be found in any other kingdom in fessors of godliness? I again profess that I have the world proportionably, that ever I could hear no design þut to plead for serious diligence in the of. And that the faithful disciples are so many, religion which we are all agreed in, and to stop and the Judases so few, how great a blessing is it the mouth of those that wickedly speak against it. to this land, how great an honour to his Majesty's
But alas! it is too evident that I have too government, and to the church in his dominions. many to speak to, that are not innocent; why The Lord teach this sinful nation to be thankful, else doth scripture tell us that such there will be pardon their ingratitude, and never deprive them still to the end of the world; and that there are of this forfeited mercy. The Lord teach them some that preach Christ of strife and envy, to to hearken to the friends, not to the enemies of add affliction to the bonds of the afflicted? Can holiness, and never to receive a wound at the heart we already forget what abundance of antino. of their religion, however they hear their smaller mian teachers were among us, that turned out differences about things circumstantial. the very doctrine of practical diligence, cried it Now when I should conclude, I am loth to down as a setting up ourselves and our own end, for fear lest I have not yet prevailed with works, as injurious to free grace, and under pre- you. What are you now resolved to do, from this
day forward ? It is work that we have been conversion and salvation. O sleepy, dead-hearted speaking of, necessary work of endless conse- sinners
, what should I do to show you how near quence, which must be done, quickly done, and you stand to eternity, and what is now doing in thoroughly done. Are you not convinced that the world that you are going to, and how these it is so ? That ploughing and sowing are not things are thought on there? What should I do more necessary to your harvest, than the work to make you know how time is valued, how sin of holiness in this day of grace is necessary and holiness are esteemed in the world where to your salvation ? You are blind if you you must live for ever? What should I do to see not this ; you are dead if you feel it not; make you know those things to-day, which I will what then will
For God's sake, not thank you to know when you are gone hence? and for your own sake, stand not demurring O that the Lord would open your eyes in till time be gone. It is all that the devil desires, time! Could I but make you know these things if he can but find you one thing or other to be as believers should know them, I say not as thinking, talking, and doing about, to keep you those that see them, nor yet as dreamers that from this till time be gone ; and then he that do not regard them, but as those that believe kept you from seeing and feeling, will help you that they must shortly see them, what a joyful to see and feel to your calamity: then the devil hour's work should I esteem this ; how happy will make you feel that which preachers could not would it be to you and me, if every word were make you feel ; and he will make you think of accompanied with tears! If I followed you home that, and lay it close enough to your hearts, which and begged your consideration on my bare knees, we could not get you to lay to heart. Now we or as a beggar begs an alms at your doors : if study and preach to you in hope; but then alas, this sermon cost me as many censures or slanit breaks our hearts to think of it, we have done ders as ever sermon did, I should not think it with you for ever, because all hope is gone. too dear, if I could but help you to such a sight Then the devil may challenge a minister, Now do of the things we speak of, as that you might truly thy worst to bring this sinner to repentance : now understand them as they are ; that you had but call him to consider, believe, and come to Christ: a truly awakened apprehension of the shortness now offer him mercy, and intreat him to accept of your day, of the nearness of eternity, and of it: now cry to him to take heed of sin and of the endless consequence of your present work, temptations, that he come not to this place of and what holy labour and sinful loitering will be torments : now tell bim of the beauty or necessity thought of in the world to come for ever! But of holiness, and call upon him to turn and live: when we see you sin, trifle, and no more regard now do thy worst to rescue him from my power, your endless life, and see also what baste your and save his soul. Alas, poor sinners! will you time is making, and yet cannot make you unstop your ears, go on in sin, and damn your- derstand these things; when we know ourselves, selves, and break our hearts to foresee that day? as sure as we speak to you, that you will shortly Must we see the devil go away with such a prey, be astonished at the review of your present and shall we not rescue your captivated souls, sloth and folly, and when we know that these because you will not hear, you will not stir, you matters are not thought of in another world, will not consent? Hear the God of heaven, if as they are among the sleepy or the infatuated you will not hear us, who calls to you, return sinners bere, and yet know not how to make you and live! Hear him that shed his blood for know it, whom it doth so exceedingly much consouls, and offers you now salvation by his blood! cern, this amazes us, and almost breaks our O hear, without any more delay, before all is hearts! Yea, when we tell you of things that gone, and you are gone, and he that now de- are past doubt, and can be no further matter of ceives you, torments you!
controversy then, men have sold their underYet hold on a little longer in a carnal, earthly, standings, and betrayed their reason to their sorunsanctified state, and it is too late to hope, or did lusts, and yet we cannot get reasonable men pray, or strive for your salvation: yet a little to know that which they cannot choose but know; longer, and mercy will have done with you for to know that seriously and practically which alever ; Christ will never invite you more, nor ways hath a witness in their breasts, and which never offer to cleanse you by his blood, or sanc- none but the profligate dare deny. tify by his Spirit. Yet a little longer, and you I tell you, sinners, this, even this, is worse shall never hear a sermon more, and never more than a prison to us : it is you that are our per. be troubled with those preachers that were in secutors ; it is you that are the daily sorrow of good earnest with you, and longed once for your our hearts ; it is you that disappoint us of our