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ness, which hath too much of late encroached upon this Western World, do not owe its Original to such Religious Tretences of Men, who, under the Name of Justice and Sanffity, have dared to do that which Heathens would have trembled at, I leave to wiser Men than my self tojudge.
Only I cannot but take notice of a strange Effect, which our Sermons have accidentally, as the Sun doth Snakes and Serpents when shining upon unclean cDunghils, produced in the Lives of too many, of whom we might justly have expected better returns in Religion; for while we have been discouraging them from Hypocrisy, they have run out into Debauchery; and while we have endeavoured to clear our Church from such as have but a Form of Godliness, they have made our Attempt an opportunity to indulge themselves in their Lusts^ and thought that the way to approve themselves true Members of our Church, was toDrink, Swear, and be Lewd, and to commit those Sins openly, which the other (may be) did in secret. Excellent Sons of the Church / that, Viper-like, tear up her Bowels, and, by d kind of Gallantry fetch"d from Hell, rail at their Mother more than Shimei did at David. / may be bold to affirm, That there is no Church this day in all the Christian World, that in her Dottrine doth either encourage Real Goodness more, or strive more to keep the Balance even, that God may have the Things which are God's, and Man the Things which are Man's, than that we live in: Tet to our sorrow we find, that while. we have given 'People leave to laugh at Religious Dissimulations, they have laugh"d them/elves into Licentiousness; and while they have taken liberty to cavil at a false Religion., they have at last learned to be averse from all that looks like Holiness. 'This hath made me sometimes admire what these Men do with their Reason, and that they do not presently forswear buy ing any more 'Pearls, because some there are that sell Counterfeit ones for True. Strange! 'They should, to avoid one Extreme, run into another; and to shun 'Deceptions in Religion, run as far from it as the "Devil can mislead them. How soon might the Folly of both Extremes be discovered, if Men were but willing to think more than they do: But while they go on in a Road of a few outwardDuties, and consider not how unworthy of that Church and Gospel they live, •whose Friends they profess themselves to be, no marvel if they fright Men away from our Assemblies, and bring Darkness upon all the Land of Go/hen.
The just Indignation I have taken at the Injuries our Church suffers from these Scandalous Men, hath been partly the occasion ofthis Treatise. For Isee, Men's Cures lie within their own Breasts; and that so many are sick unto Death, and ready to perish, the reason is, because they will not reflect what unreasonable Men they are; nor represent to themselves the Wrong they do to their Souls for want of a lively Consideration, as
I confess divers Accomplishments which render a Book acceptable to curious 'Palates, such as are Rhetorick, Elegancy of Style, Fancy, Wir, and frequent Quotations ofAuthors, &c. will be
in the ensuing Discourse.
found wanting here: but, aslprofessno Skillthat way, so my 'Design was not so much to fill Men's Heads with Notions, as their Hearts with Fire. It was to engage the Ignorant and Careless to a substantial Improvement os their Reason: And is what I have said, can prevail with those that have lived like Beasts, to recover themselves into Men again; / both undervalue the little Censures of Supercilious Men, and content my self with that Success. W? cannot allshine as Stars of the first Magnitude, in the wide Firmament ofthe Church; those that cannot, must give such Light as they are able to dispense: I envy not our Eagles in Divinity, that they see far more than 1, but thank God I see so much: And while the greater Sages offer Gold and Myrrhe and Frankincense, I am happy enough if 1 may be allowed to bring Goats Hair, and Badgers Skins, towards the Accomplishment of the 'Tabernacle. A Critical Eye may spy Faults in this Free-will Offering, and I do not wonder at it; for my duller Sight, now I have done, discovers more than I wish there were int. But my Discourse is fitted to my End. Doing good is my intent; if I succeed not, it's no more but what greater Men have sailed of.
ragfdty evil Company. NegleStconsulting with Minifors about this necejsary Wirk. _ Delude themselves with the Notion of Christ's dyings or the Sins of the World. 87
Of the various Mischiefs arising from neglecJ of Consideration. The want of it proved to &e the cause of most Sins. 'Sxfifhe instances are given in Atheism, Unbelief, Swearing, Pride, Carelesness in God's Service, Lukewarmness, Covetousness, &c. zo4
C A P. Vf.
Of the various Advantages of serious Consideration; it's that which makes a Man Master of all Christian Duties; it helps a Man to improve Sublunary Objecls into Heavenly Contemplations. It's the greatest Support under Afflictions % ^disposes a Man to be a tVorthy Redivir of the Lord's Supper •, prepares him for an Angelical Life on Earth} makes him prudent and discreet in Secular Affairs and Business. 31$
C H A P. VII.
A Pathetical Exhortation to Men, who are yet strangers to a serious, religiduslife, to consider their ways; the wilfulness of'their neglect, how dangerous it is; how inexcusable they are, how inhumane toGod and their own Souls; how reasonable God's requests are, and how justly God may turn that power of Consideration he hath given them, into blindness and hardness of heart, since they make so ill use of it, &c. 37s
C H A P. VIII.
Of Retirement and Prayer, the two great h'elps to Consideration. Retirement proved to be necessary to make Consideration of our Spiritual State more quick and lively. Prayer tails in the assistance of God's Spirit, and fenders the Work effectual. A Form of Prayer to be used upon this occasion. 40 a