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up the workmen and the work; and shall we loiter under so great encouragements? Have you considered that faith is the beholding grace? the evidence of things not seen? and yet have you the hearts to blame believers, for doing all that they can do, in a case of such unspeakable, everlasting consequence? If we are believers, heaven and hell are as it were open to our sight! And would you wish us to trifle. in the sight of heaven? or to leap into hell when we see it as before us? What name can express the inhuman cruelty of such a wish or motion? or the unchristian folly of those that will obey you?
O give us leave to be serious for a kingdom which by faith we see! Blame us for this, and blame us that we are not besides ourselves. Pardon us that we are awake, when the thunder of Jehovah's voice doth call to us, denouncing everlasting wrath to all that are sensual and ungodly. Were we asleep as you are, we would lie still, and take no heed what God or man said to us.
Pardon us that we are Christians, and believe these things, seeing you profess the same yourselves. Disclaim not the practice till you dare disclaim the profession. If we were infidels, we would do as the ungodly world; we would pursue our present pleasures and commodity, and say, that things above us are nothing to us; and would take religion to be the troubler of the world; but till we are infidels or atheists at the heart, we cannot do so.
Forgive us that we are men; if you take it to be pardonable. Were we brutes, we would eat, and drink, and play, and never trouble ourselves or others with the care of our salvation, or the fears of any death but one; or with resisting sensual inclinations, and meditating on the life to come; but would take our ease and pleasure while we may.
At least forgive us that we are not blocks or stones; that we have life and feeling. Were we insensate clods, we would not see the light of heaven, nor hear the roaring of the lion, nor fear the threats of God himself. We would not complain, or sigh, or groan, because we feel not.
If therefore we may have leave to be awake, and to be in our wits, to be Christians, to be men, to be creatures that have life and sense, forgive us that we believe the living God; that we cannot laugh at heaven and hell, nor jest at the threatened wrath of the Almighty. If these things must
make us the object of the world's reproach and malice, let me rather be a reproached man, than an honoured beast, and a hated Christian, than a beloved infidel; and rather let me live in the midst of malice and contempt, than pass through honour unto shame, through mirth to misery, and through a senseless to a feeling death. Hate us when we are in heaven, and see who will be the sufferer by it. If ever we should begin to nod and relapse towards your hypocritical formality and senseless indifferency, our lively sight of the world invisible, by a serious faith, would presently awake us, and force us confidently to conclude, Aut sanctus, aut brutus: there is practically and predominantly no mean. He will prove a brute that is not a saint.
HAVING done with this general conviction and exhortation to unbelieving hypocrites, I proceed to acquaint believers with their duty, in several particulars.
1. Worship God as believers; "serve him with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire;" Heb. xii. 28, 29. A seeing faith, if well excited, would kindle love, desire, fear, and all praying graces. No man prays well, that doth not well know what he prays for. When it comes to seeing, all men can cry loud, and pray when praying will do no good. They will not then speak sleepily, or by rote, Fides intuendo, amorem recipit, amorem suscitat. Cor flagrans amore desideria, gemitus, orationes spirat.' Faith is the burning-glass which, beholding God, receiveth the beams of his communicated love, and inflameth the heart with love to him again; which mounteth up by groans and prayers, till it reach its original, and love for ever rest in love.
2. Desire and use the creature as believers. Interpret all things as they receive their meaning from the things unseen : understand them in no other sense. It is only God and the life to come that can tell you what is good or bad for you in the world. And therefore the ungodly that cannot go to heaven for counsel, are carried about by mere deceits. Take heed what you love and take heed of that you love. God very jealous of our love: he sheds abroad his own love
in our hearts, that our hearts may be fruitful in love to him, which is his chief delight. By love he commandeth love; that we may suitably move towards him, and centre in him. He communicateth so much for the procuring of a little, that we should endeavour to give him all that little, and shed none of it inordinately upon the creature by the way. Nothing is great, or greatly to be admired, while the great God is in sight. And it is unsuitable for little things to have great affections; and for low matters to have a high esteem. It is the corruption and folly of the mind, and the delusion of the affections to exalt a shrub above a cedar, and magnify a molehill above a mountain; to embrace a shadow or spectrum of felicity, which vanisheth into nothing when you bring in the light. The creature is 'nihil et nullipotens :' nothing should have no interest in us, and be able to do nothing with us (as to the motions that are under the dominion of the will). God is All and Almighty: and he that is All, should have all, and command all. And the Omnipotent should do all things with us by his interest in mortals, as he will do by his force in naturals. I deny not but we may love a friend. One soul in two bodies will have one mind, and will, and love. But as it is not the body of my friend that I love or converse with principally, but the soul (and therefore should have no mind of the case, the corpse, the empty nest, if the bird were flown); so is it not the person, but Christ in him, or that of God which appeareth on him, that must be the principal object of our love. The man is mutable, and must be loved, as Plato did commend his friend to Dionysius; Hæc tibi scribo de homine, viz. animante naturâ mutabili.' And therefore must be loved with But God is unchangeable, and must be absolutely and unchangeably loved. That life is best that is likest heaven: there God will be all; and yet even there it will be no dishonour or displeasure to the Deity, that the glorified humanity of Christ, and the New Jerusalem, and our holy society, are loved more dearly than we can love any creature here on earth. So here, God taketh not that affection as stolen from him, that is given to his servants for his sake, but accepts it as sent to him by them. Let the creature have it, so God have it finally in and by the creature; and then it is not so properly the creature that hath it, as God. If you choose, and love your friends for God, you
will use them for God; not flattering them, or desiring to be flattered by them; but to kindle in each other the holy flame which will aspire and mount, and know no bounds, till it reach the boundless element of love. You will not value them as friends, qui omnia dicta et facta vestra laudant, sed qui errata et delicta amice reprehendunt:' not them that call you good; but them that would make you better. And you will let them know, as Phocian did Antipater, that they can never use you, 'ut amicis et adulatoribus;' as friends and flatterers, that differ as a wife and a harlot.
It is hard to love the imperfect creature, without mistakes and inordinancy in our love and therefore usually where we love most, we sin most; and our sin finds us out; and then we suffer most: and too much affection is the forerunner of much affliction, which will be much prevented, if faith might be the guide of love, and human love might be made divine; and all to be referred to the things unseen, and animated by them. Love where you can never love too much; where you are sure to have no disappointments; where there is no unkindness to eclipse or interrupt it; where the only error is, that God hath not all; and the only grief, that we love no more.
Especially in the midst of your enticing pleasures, or enticing employments and profits in the world, foresee the end, do all in faith, which telleth you, "The time is short; it remaineth therefore, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as though they used it not (or not abusing it): for the fashion of this world passeth away;" 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30.
3. Employ your time as becomes believers. Faith only can acquaint you, what an inconceivable weight doth lie upon this inch of hasty time. As you behave yourselves for a few days, it must go with you in joy or misery for ever. You have your appointed time for your appointed work. God hath turned the glass upon you; much of it is run out already. No price can call back one hour that you have lost. No power or policy can retard its course; 'Sic fugiunt fræno non remorante dies.' When it comes to the last sand, and time is gone, you will know the worth of it. You will
then confess it should have seemed more precious in your eyes, than to have been cast away upon things of nought. O precious time! more worth than all the riches of the world! how highly is it valued by all at last! and how basely is it esteemed now by the most!. Now it is no more worth with them than to be sold for unnecessary sports and ease, and wasted in idleness and vain delights; but then when it is gone, and all is too late, how loud would they cry, if cries could call back time again! O then, what a mercy would it seem, if God would try them once again! and trust them but with another life, or with Hezekiah's fifteen years! or but with fifteen days, or hours, upon such terms of grace, as they held that life which they abused! It amazeth me to observe the lamentable stupidity of the world, how hard they beg for time when they think it is near an end! and how carelessly they let it slide away, when they have strength and faculties to improve it! They are grievously afraid lest death deprive them of it; and yet they are not afraid to deprive themselves of the use and fruit of it, and to cast it away as contemptuously, as if it were an useless thing. I seldom come near a dying man, but I hear him complain of the loss of time, and wish it were to spend again, that it might be better valued and used. And yet the living will not be warned! O value time, as wise men, while you have it; and not as miserable fools, when it is gone! If our Lord said, “I must do the work of him that sent me while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work;" (John ix 4.) what need then have such as we to be doing, and make much of time! O let not company, mirth, or business make you forget the work of time! Can you play, or loiter away your hours, with eternity in your eye? Get the sun to stand still, and time to make a truce with you, and to waste no more of the oil of life, before you lose another hour.
O what heads, what hearts have all those men that standing at the verge of an endless world, can think they have any time to spare! Hath God given you too much? If not, why do you lose it? If he hath, why are you loath that he should shorten it? You would not throw away your gold, as contemptuously as you do your time, when an hour's time is more valuable than gold. Frown on that company that would rob you of half an hour's time. Tell them you have something else to do than to feast, or play, or talk away