« PreviousContinue »
it make them greater or better than itself? Can | from his Spirit, or whither wilt thou fly from his any thing give that which it hath not ? If it presence ? If thou ascend up into heaven, he is must needs be greater and better than the crea- there ; if thou make thy bed in hell, thou wilt feel tures, then as it must be wiser than they, and him there ; if thou take the wings of the morning, more holy, gracious, and just than they, so must and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even it be more comprehensive than all they. Who- there shalt thou find him to be to thee as thou art.' ever made this earth, is certainly greater than Thou mayest think, with sinful Adam and Eve, the earth, or else he should give it more than he to hide thyself from the presence of the Lord : but had to give. If he be greater, he must be pre- thou wilt quickly find that he observes thee; and sent: if thou shouldst be so vain as to account be sure thy sin will find thee out.' Thou mayest any other higher thing the maker of this world, with Cain be turned out of the gracious presence that is not God, thou must ascribe also a suffi- of God, and cast out of his church and mercy; ciency to that maker, to exercise a particular and with the damned thou mayest be turned out providence, and moreover be put to consider who of the presence of his blessedness and glory: did make that maker. Nothing therefore is but thou shalt never be out of his essential premore certain, even to reason itself, than that the sence, nor so escape the presence of his justice. maker of the world must be greater than the It is the presence of his grace where the upright world, therefore present with all the world ; and are promised here to dwell, and out of which therefore must observe and regard all the world. they fear lest they be cast. Cast me not away When thou canst find out a thought, or word, from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit or deed that was not done in the presence of from me.' It is the presence where is fulness God, or any creature that is not in his presence, of joy, which they aspire after, but there is also then believe and spare not that he sees or re- a presence that the earth shall tremble at, and gards it not; yea, and that it has no being that the wicked shall perish at; so that a parO blind atheists ! you see the sun before your ticular providence must be remembered by them eyes, which enlightens all the upper part of the that believe and remember the immensity of God. earth at once ; even millions of millions see all by its light; and yet do you doubt whether God
CHAP. V. beholds, regards, and provides for all at once. The eternity of God is the next attribute to
Tell me, if God had never a creature to look be known which also must have its work upon to in all the world but thee, wouldst thou be- the soul. And, 1. This also shows us that God lieve that he would regard thy heart, words, and is incomprehensible; for man cannot compreways or not? If he would, why not now, as hend eternity. When we go about to think of well as then? Is he not as sufficient for thee, that which hath no beginning nor end, it is to and as really present with thee, as if he had no our mind as a place a thousand miles off is to other creature else? If all men in the world our eye; even beyond our reach ; we cannot were dead save one, would the sun any more il say there is no such place, yea, we know there luminate that one than now it doth ? Mayest is; but we cannot see it: so we know there is thou not see as well by the light of it now, as if an eternal being ; but our knowledge of his eterit had never another to enlighten? And dost nity is not intuitive, or comprehensive. Eternity thou see a creature do so much, and wilt thou therefore is the object of our faith, reverence, and not believe as much of the creator? If thou admiration, but forbids our busy bold inquiries. think us worms too low for God so exactly to o the arrogancy of those ignorantly learned, observe, thou mayest as well think that we are and foolishly wise disputing men, that have so too low for him to create, or preserve ; and then long perplexed, if not torn in pieces, the church, who made us and preserves us ? Doth not the about the priority and posteriority of the knowsun enlighten the smallest bird, and crawling in- ledge and decrees of God, when they confess sect, as well as the greatest prince on earth ? | them all to be eternal! As if they knew not Doth it withhold its light from any creature that that terms of priority and posteriority have not can see, and say, I will not shine on things so that significancy in or about eternity, as they base ? And wilt thou more restrain the infinite have with us. God that is the maker, light, and life of all ? It 2. The eternity of God must draw the soul is he that filleth all in all, the heaven of heavens from transitory to eternal things. It is an evercannot contain him, and is he absent from thee? | lasting blessedness, even the eternal God, that • He doth beset thee before and behind, and our souls are made for; the brutes are made layeth his hand upon thee; whither wilt thou go for a mortal happiness; the immortal soul can
not be fully content with any thing that will destruction of all souls, and the destruction of have an end. As a capacity of this endless all mercies, and the destruction of all divine reblessedness distinguishes man from the beasts velations, of all graces, of all ordinances, and that perish ; so the disposition to it distinguishes means, and of the destruction of the whole creasaints from the ungodly, and the fruition of it tion that was made for man : for he that destroys distinguishes the glorified from the damned. Alas, the end, destroys all the means : but the infidel what a silly thing were man if he were capable destroys and denies the end of every one of of nothing but these transitory things! What these, and holiness only doth give them up, and were our lives worth, and what were our time use them to their ends. worth, and what were all our mercies worth, 1. He is guilty of the destruction of all souls : or what were all the world worth to us, or what for as much as in him lies they are destroyed, were we worth ourselves ? I would not under while they are all made useless to the end for value the works of God: but truly if man had which they were created. If there be no other no other life to live but this, I should esteem life and happiness everlasting, what are souls him a very contemptible creature. If you say good for? What is the reasonable creature good that there is some excellency in the brutes, I an- for? Is it to be happy here? In what? Here swer, True ; but their usefulness is their chief is no happiness? Is it in eating, drinking, and excellency; and what is their use but to be a sleeping? Why, these are to strengthen us for glass in which we may see the Lord, and to be our service which tends to our end, and therefore serviceable to man in his passage to eternity ? cannot be themselves our end. Is it not better They are not capable of knowing, or loving, or to be without either meat, or drink, or sleep, in enjoying God themselves : but they are useful to point of happiness, so be it we also were without man, who is capable of this ; and so they have the need of them, than to need them and have an everlasting end and this is their excellency. them for our need, especially with the care and Therefore the atheist that denies an everlast- trouble which they cost us? I had an hundred ing life to man, brings himself into a far baser times rather, for my part, if it were lawful to destate then the brutes are in. For the brutes have sire it, never have meat, or drink, or sleep, and an everlasting end, in promoting the happiness of be without the need of them, as I had rather be man : but if man have no everlasting end him without a sore, than to have a plaster that will self, there is no other whose everlasting happi- ease it, and be every day at the pains to dress ness he can promote. The unbeliever therefore it. Brutes have some advantage in these above debases his own soul and the whole creation : men, in that they have not the care, fear, and and faith and holiness advance the soul and all sorrow of mind as we have, in the getting or things with it, that are useful to our advance- keeping what they have or need. If you go ment. The true believer honours his horse, his downward, and say that men are made to govern dog, his food and raiment, the earth he treads brutes, then what are brutes made for, unless to on, and every creature, incomparably more than manure the earth; and so the basest shall be the the infidel doth honour his own or any other's end of the noblest, and God may be as wisely soul, or than he honours the greatest prince on said to be for man, because he is to govern him. earth. For the believer uses all things, even the Truly if there were no everlasting life, but man vilest, in reference to eternity ; but the infidel were a mere terrestrial animal, I had rather never uses his life and soul but to a transitory end ; and have been born, or should wish I had never been takes the greatest prince on earth to be but for a man : I knew not what to do with myself, nor a transitory use. As eternity is invaluable in how to employ the faculties of my soul or body, comparison of time, so the use and excellency that but they would all seem to me as useless things. a believer doth ascribe to a piece of bread, or the What should I do with my reason, if I had no basest creature, in the sanctified improvement higher an end than beasts? What should I do of it, is ten thousand times, even unspeakably, with a mind that knows there is a God, and above the use and excellency that an unbeliever another world, and that is capable of desiring ascribes to his soul or to his prince. He that him, seeking and enjoying him, if it must be frusstamps the image of a dog or a toad upon gold, trated of all ? What should I do with a heart instead of the image of the prince, and would that is capable of the love of God, and delighting have ten thousand pounds worth go but for a in his love, if I have no God to love and delight farthing, doth not by a thousand degrees so much in, when this life is ended ? Why have I a heart debase the gold, as the infidel debases his that so desires him, in fuller vision and fruition, soul and all things. Infidelity is guilty of the if I be capable of no such thing? What then should I do with my time and life? Verily I | horse to him that hath no use for him. O what know not, if I were fully of this sad opinion, an ungrateful wretch is that, who will deny all whether I should turn brute in my life agreeably the mercies of God to himself, and to all others! to my judgment, or whether I should make an For once deny the use and the eternal end, and end of my life to be eased of a useless burden ; you deny the mercy. but confident I am I should not know what to 3. He that believes not, or seeks not after an do with myself; I should be like a cashiered eternal end, destroys all the doctrine, law and soldier, or like one turned out of his service, that government of God : for all is but to lead us to knew not where to have work and wages : and this end. All the holy scriptures, the precepts if you found me standing all day idle, I must of Christ, and his holy example, the covenant of give you the reason, because no man hath hired grace, the gifts and miracles of the Holy Ghost, me. What do those wretches do with their lives, the light and law of nature itself, are all to bring that think they have no God to serve and seek, us to our eternal end : therefore he that denies or future happiness to attain ? As men use to that end, doth cancel them all, and cast them by say of naughty ministers, so may I say of all as useless things. mankind, according to the doctrine of the infidels, 4. He denies all the graces of the Spirit: for 'a naughty priest is good for nothing,' and it what use is there for faith, if the object of it be is true of him as such, for as Christ himself saith, a falsehood? What use for hope, if there be · Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have no life to be hoped for? What use for holy lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? It desires and love, if God be not to be enjoyed ? is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast Grace is but the delusion and deformity of the out, and to be trodden under foot of men : ye soul, if the infidel and ungodly be in the right. are the light of the world : men do not light a 5. They destroy also all the means of our salcandle to put it under a bushel. So I say of vation, if they deny salvation, which is the end. the reasonable creature: the grass is useful for To what purpose should men study, or read, or the beasts : the beasts are serviceable unto man: hear, or pray, or use either sacraments or any a swine that cannot serve you living, is useful other means, for an end that is not to be had? being dead. But if there were no God to seek To what end should men obey or suffer, for any and serve, and no life but this for us to hope for, such end that is not attainable ? for ought I know man were good for nothing: 6. Yea, they let loose the soul to sin, and take what were light good for, if there were no eyes? off all effectual restraint. If there be no eternal or eyes, if there were no light to see by? What is end, and no reward or punishment but here, a watch good for, but to tell the hour of the day? what can effectually hinder the men of this All the curious parts and workmanship of it is opinion from stealing, whoredom, or any villany, worth no more than the metal is worth, if it be when it may be done with secresy? What should not useful to its proper end. And what reason, hinder the revengeful man from poisoning or will, and affections in man are good for, I know secretly murdering his enemy, or setting his house not, if not to seek, to please, and to enjoy the on fire in the night? If I know a man or woman Lord. Take off this poise, and all the wheels who believes that there is no life to come, I take of my soul must stand still, or else do worse. it for granted they are revengeful, thieves, de
2. The infidel and ungodly man that looksceivers, fornicators, or any thing that is bad, if not after an eternal end, destroys all the mercies they have but temptation, and secret opportunity. of God, and makes them as no mercies at all : For what hath he to seek but the pleasing of creation and our being, is a mercy ; but it is in his flesh, that thinks he hath no God to seek or order to our eternal end. Redemption by Christ please, or no future reward or punishment to exis an unspeakable mercy ; but it is denied by the pect? He that confesses himself an infidel to infidel, and rejected by the ungodly : what is me, confesses himself to be in all things else as Christ worth, and all his mediation, if there be bad as ever he can or dare Honesty is renounced no life for man but this ? Peace and liberty, by that man or woman that profess themselves health and life, friends and neighbours, food and to be atheists or infidels : methinks, in congruraiment, are all mercies to us, as a ship and sails ity with their profession, they should take it for are to the mariner, or a fair way, or horse, or a wrong to be called or reputed honest! If you inn, to a traveller: but if by denying our eternal tell me that heathens had a kind of honesty ; I end, you make our voyage or our journey vain, must tell you again, that most heathens believed these mcrcies then are little worth : no more than the immortality of the soul, and that kind of seema ship on the land, or a plough in the sea, or a ling honesty which they had was only in those of them that thus expected a life to come. But | tongue, my hands, my time, my life, my self, or those that believe not another life where man is to any thing, if there were no eternity? I think I have his punishment and reward, have nothing should dig my grave, and lay me down in it, to like to honesty in them, but live like greedy, die and perish, to escape the sorrows of a longer ravenous beasts, where they are from under life that must be my companions. the laws and government of them that look for Remember then, Christians, and still rememanother life. The cannibals that eat men's flesh, ber it, that eternity is the matter of your faith and some such savages as they, are the nations and hope. Eternity is your portion and felicity; that expect no life but this. It is believed so eternity is the end of all your desires, labours, commonly by all the civil infidels and Turks, as and distresses. Eternity is your religion, and shows it to be a principle that nature reveals the life of all your holy motions; and as without
7. Yea, the whole creation that is within the the capacity of it, you would be but beasts, so sight of man, is destroyed opinionatively by the without the love and desire of it, and title to it, infidels that look for no immortal life: for all you would be but wicked miserable men. Set things were made to further our salvation : the not your hearts on transitory things, while you heavens to declare the glory of God, and the stand near unto eternity. How can you have firmament to show his handy work, and all crea- room for so many thoughts on fading things, tures to be our glass in which we must behold when you have an eternity to think on? What the Lord, and our book in which we must read light can you see in the candles or glow-worms and learn his nature and his will. The sun is of this world, in the sunshine of eternity ? O to light us, and maintain our life, and the life of remember, when you are tempted to please your other lower creatures, while we prepare for im- eyes, your taste, and sensual desires, that these mortality: the earth is to bear us, and to bear are not eternal pleasures. Remember, when fruit for us ; and the trees and plants and every you are tempted for wealth or honour to wrong creature to accommodate and serve us, while we your souls, that these are not the eternal riches; serve the Lord and pass on to eternity. There- houses and lands are not eternal : meats and fore the atheist that denies us our eternity, de- drinks are not eternal : sports and pastimes, and nies the usefulness of all the world ; what were jocund, sinful company, are not eternal. Alas, all the creatures here good for, if there were no how short, how soon they vanish into nothing ! men ? The earth would be a wilderness, and But it is God and our dear Redeemer that are the beasts would for the most part perish, for eternal. The flower of beauty withers with want of sustenance, and all would be like a for age, or by the nipping blast of a short disease ; saken cottage that no man dwells in, and doth the honours of the world are but a dream ; your no good; and if man be not the heir of immor- graves will bury all its glory. Down comes the tality, they can do him no good. All creatures prince, the lord, the gallant, and suddenly takes are but our provision in the way to this eternity: his lodgings in the dust. The corpse that was therefore if there were no eternity, what should pampered and adorned yesterday, is corruption we do with them? And who will travel to a to-day. The body that was bowed to, attended, place that is not, or a city that is no where but and applauded but the other day, is now interred in his imagination, besides a madman? It is in the vault of darkness, with worms and moles. evident therefore, that as all the tools in a work- To-day it is corruption and a most lothesome man's shop are made useless to him if he be thing, that lately was dreaming of an earthly forbidden to use his trade, and all the books in happiness. One day he is striving for riches my library are useless, if I may not read them and pre-eminences, or glorying and rejoicing in to get knowledge; so all creatures under heaven them, that the next day may be snatched away are made useless and destroyed doctrinally by to hell. O fix not your minds on fading things, the atheist, that thinks there is no eternal life that perish in the using, and by their vanishing for which they should be used. I must seriously | mock you that set your hearts upon them. You profess if I believed this (being in other things will not fix your eye and mind upon every of the mind I am) I knew not what to do with bird that flies by you, as you will on the houses any thing. What should I do with my books, that you must dwell in : nor will you mind every but to learn the way to this eternity ? What passenger, as you will do your friends that still should I do with my money, if there be no trea- live with you. And shall transitory vanity be sure to be laid up in heaven, or friends to be minded by you above eternity? made with the mammon abused commonly to 3. It is eternity that must direct you in your unrighteousness? What should I do with my l estimate of all things. It is this that shows you the excellency of man above the beasts: it on the new. The bird that is hatched is not is this that tells you the worth of grace, and the grieved because he must leave the broken shell ; weight of sin, the preciousness of holy ordinances nor is it the grief of man or beast that he hath and helps, and the evil of hinderances and temp- left the womb. Death doth but open the womb tations : the wisdom of the choice and diligence of time and let us into eternity, and is the second of the saints, and the folly of the choice, and birth-day of the soul. Regeneration brings us negligent, sinful lives of the ungodly; the worth into the kingdom of grace ; and death into the of God's favour, and the vanity of man's; and the kingdom of glory. difference between the godly and the unsanctified Blessed are they that have their part in the world, in point of happiness.
new birth of grace and the first resurrection Were not grace the egg, the seed, the earnest from the death of sin ; for to such the natural of an eternal glory, it were not so glorious a death will be gain ; and they shall have their thing. But O how precious are all those thoughts, part in the second resurrection, and on them the desires, delights and breathings of the soul, that everlasting death shall have no power. It is bring us on to a sweet eternity! Even those eternity that tells you what you should mind, sorrows, groans, and tears are precious that lead and be, and do, and that turns the scales in all to an eternal joy! Who would not willingly things where it is concerned. Can you sleep in obey the holy motions of the Holy Spirit, that is sin so near eternity! Can you play and laugh but preparing us for eternity! This is it that before you are prepared for eternity! Can you makes a bible, a sermon, a holy book, to be of think him wise that sells his eternal joy for the greater value than lands and lordships. It is ease, the mirth, the pleasure of a moment; and eternity that makes the illuminated soul so fear- trifles away the time in which he must win or ful of sinning, so diligent in holy duties, so cheer- lose eternity? If these men be wise, there are ful and resolved in suffering, because he believes no fools, nor any but wise men in bedlam. Dare it is all for an eternity. A Christian in the holy thy tongue report, or thy heart imagine, that any assemblies, and in his reading, learning, prayer, holy work is needless, or a heavenly life too much conference, is laying up for everlasting, when the ado, or any suffering too dear, that is for an eterworldling in the market, in the field or shop, is nity! O happy souls that win eternity with the making provision for a few days or hours : thou loss of all the world ! O bless that Christ, that gloriest in thy riches and pre-eminence now, but Spirit, that light, that word, that messenger of how long wilt thou do so ? To-day that house, God, that drew thy heart to choose eternity bethat land is thine ; but canst thou say, it shall fore all transitory things! That was the day be thine to-morrow? Thou canst not : but the when thou began to be wise, and indeed to show believer can truly say, My God, my Christ, is thyself a man! Thy wealth, thy honour, thy mine to-day, and will be mine to all eternity! O pleasure will be thine when the sensual world death! thou canst take my friends from me, hath nothing to show, but sin and hell, of all they and my worldly riches from me, and my time, laboured for. Their pleasures, honours, and all strength, and life from me; but take my God, die, when they die ; but thine will then begin my Christ, my heaven, my portion from me, if their perfection! The hopes of the ungodly are thou canst! My sin is all thy sting and strength! | like an addle egg that when it is broken sends But where is thy sting when sin is gone ; and forth nothing but an odious smell, when another where is thy strength when Christ hath conquered sends forth the living bird. O all you worldthee? Is it a great matter that thou deprivestlings, rich and poor, you dream, play, and trifle, me of my sinful, weak, and troublous friends, because you labour not for eternity! Even when against thy will thou bringest me to my worldly princes, and nobles of the earth, your perfect blessed friends, with whom I must abide glory is but a squib, a flash, a nothing, in comparifor ever! Thou dost indeed bereave me of these son of the eternal glory which you lose ; you are riches; but it is that I may possess the invaluable, doing nothing when you are striving for the eternal riches! Thou endest my time, that I world ; you are trilling and befooling your immay have eternity! Thou castest me down mortal souls while you are grasping a shadow, that I may be exalted! Thou takest away my the uncertain riches : it is the believer whom you strength of life, that I may enter into life eternal ! despise, that seeks for something, that loses not And is this the worst that death can do ? And his labour, that shows himself a man of reason, shall I be afraid of this ? I willingly lay by my who is caring, studying, labouring, praying, clothes at night, that I may take my rest, and I watching, and suffering for eternity. am not loth to put off the old when I must put! Why is a day in the courts of God so much