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fance accompany others in doing illf; it is called good- SERItf. nature, it is deemed good manners to do it; so very civilly XXXIII. and genteelly, very nobly and gallantly they go on to per-'" ~~~ dition, giving up their salvation in compliment and courtesy to one another: then it is but natural for this most debonnair and generous dealing to requite one another with good words at least, or with some demonstrations of esteem; and it is no less natural for those who are thus flattered, to comply with the opinions of others, and to judge of themselves accordingly, thinking themselves good because they are called so: 6 but to keep ourselves from being upon such occasions, or upon any the like grounds, perniciously cozened, we should consider, that in the great judgment the esteem of men will import nothing of advantage to us; things will pass there as they are in themselves, not as they are rated here; according to real truth and intrinsic worth, not according to the conceits or affections of ignorant and partial men: even the things that appear fairest here may prove foul there; persons much approved and applauded now may then be condemned and rejected; for God feeth not as manfeeth ; for man looketh 1 Sam. xvi. on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart, johnvii 34 God then will search the hearts and weigh the spirits ofl(- xi. a. men; he will scan their designs and intentions; he will/sam*aa! closely examine their tempers, and exactly poise their cir-p&lciii-14cumftances; he will consider many things inscrutable to men, upon which the true worth of persons and real merit of actions do depend; wherefore most vain and unsafe it is to rely upon the uncertain opinions of men, or to please ourselves with them; they neither can out of blindness, or will out of passion, interest, partiality, judge truly. 9. If we desire to judge reasonably about ourselves, or
1 Nihil omnino agimus, qui nos per cxcmpla multitudinis defendimus, et id confolalionem noftram aliena sæpe numcrantes vitia, deeffe nobis dicimus, quos dcbeamus sequi- Hier.
* Quæ est hæc tanta levitas animi, qufe lanta vanitas, relicta propria confciemia alienam opinionem sequi, et quidem fictam atque simulatam, rapt vento falsæ laudationis gaudere ad circumvcntioncm susm, et illusionem pro beneficio accipere? Ilitr. ai Ctlantiam,
SERM. to know our true state, the only way is to compare aur XXXIII. hearts and lives with the law of God, judging ourselves by that rule, according to which God will judge us. If we find in our hearts the love of God and goodness, (sincere, although imperfect;) if we perceive ourselves disposed to keep God's commandmants, (to live piously, righteously, and soberly in this world;) then may we have 1 John iii. & satisfactory hope concerning our state; then we may, s,» 22> as St. John faith, have confidence toward God, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing to him: but if we do not find that mind in us, and that practice, we, in conceiting well of ourselves upon any other grounds, do but flatter and impose upon ourselves; if all the world should account us good, and take us to be in a good cafe, we should not at all believe them, 1 John iii. 7. or mind them; for, Let no man deceive us; he that doeth 1 Cor. iv. 4. righteousness, he (and he alone) is righteous, is the most faithful advice and unquestionable sentence of St. John. It is therefore (that by resting on such false bottoms we be not abused, and drawn thence to neglect the amendment of our hearts and ways, in order to our final account) a duty incumbent on us thus to search our hearts and try our ways, and accordingly to judge ourselves: the doing which with care and conscience would dispose us to pre1C0r.iii.31. pare for the judgment we speak of; for, If, faith St. Paul, PiMxxvr' we wou^ Judge ourselves, we should not le judged, or not 6,10. condemned.
10. The consideration of this point will guard us from infidelity and from impatience in regard to the providential dispensation of affairs here: considering it, we shall not be offended at paflages otherwise unaccountable and scandalous to Providence; we sliall not wonder that so many disorders occur in the world; that right is perverted, that fraud and violence do prevail, that vice doth reigm; we shall not complain of the adversities incident to good men, nor repine at the prosperities of bad men; we (hall not be dissatisfied with any event here befalling ourselves or others; since from hence it doth most evidently appear, that all these things are consistent with the wisdom, good-. ness, and justice of God, and do assuredly tend to the de- SERM.
claration of those glorious attributes; yea, that confe-XXXIII.
quently the worst accidents here, if we are faithful to God
and to ourselves, will finally conduce to our advantage
and benefit, according to that of the Apostle, We know Rom. viii.
(hat all things work toget/ier for good to them that loveq8'
n. In fine, there is no consideration able to promise so much efficacy toward the rousing our passions, or duly ordering and fettling them upon religious practice. It especially is apt to set on work those two grand engines and mighty springs of activity, hope and fear; and with them to raise their respective companions, joy and grief: for how, if we have been very culpable in the transgression or neglect of our duty, can we reflect on this point without being seized with an hideous dread of coming to so strict a trial, of falling under so heavy a sentence? how can we think of it without a bitter remorse? Hard as rocks surely we must be, if such thoughts do not pierce us; utterly dead and senseless must our hearts be, if they do not feel the sting of such considerations; more stupid and stony we then are, than the dissolute Felix, who could Acts xxiv. not without affrightment hear plain discourse concerning,2E^?jj^, the judgment to come; yea, more inconsiderate and in- ymp.»®: feasible we appear, than those obstinate sons of darkness, the devils themselves, who believe and tremble thereat. Jam. ii. 29.
If, on the pther hand, we are conscious to ourselves of having seriously and carefully endeavoured to please God, and obey his commandments, how can we think of it without a comfortable hope of finding mercy and favour in that day? If in our hearts we can fay with St. Paul, I have combated the good combat, I have finished (or I haveuTim.lv. continued) the race, I have kept the faith; then may we' hopefully fay after him, as he said confidently before us, From henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which in that day the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall render unto me. If by virtue of the saving grace of God, which hath appeared to all men, and according to its holy instructions, we have denied ungodliness and worldly ltifts,T\t.i\. it,
SERM. living soberly, righteously, and piously, in this present world;
XXXIII. then may we joyfully expecl the blessed hope, and the appearance os the great God and our Saviour Jesus Chrift; then may we indeed heartily wisli, cheerfully hope, and earnestly pray for that day; doing which is the character,
1 Cor. i. 7. and hath been the practice of the best men; The Lord,
m i" ga°'saith Su Paulj wiU render lhe crown °s riShteousness t0 aU aTim.iv.8. them who love his appearance; and, Looking for and haft
Re* Mi!.*' eninS lfle presence os the day os God, faith St. Peter, inti
20- mating the practice of the primitive Christians; and, Yea,
come, 0 Lord Jesus, is St. John's petition in the close pf
the Revelation, and may be the prayer of those who have
the like conscience and affections with him.
I conclude, wisliing and exhorting that the meditation of this most important affair may be continually present to our minds; that we may seem, with that devout man, always to hear the last trump sounding in our ears, and through our hearts; that so with a pious awe and with a well-grounded hope we may expect the coming of our Lord, and may love his appearance; that from hence, being effectually restrained from all impious and vicious conversation, being induced to a circumspect and watchful pursuit of all piety and virtue, guiding our lives inoffensively in all good conscience toward God and man, we may in the end be able to render a good account, and with comfort unexpreflible may at that day, from the mouth of our Judge, hear those happy words, Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into your Master's joy; Come, ye blesj'edos'my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation os the world. Unto the possession whereof, Almighty God in his infinite mercy, by the grace of his Holy Spirit, vouchsafe to bring us, through the merits of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom for ever be all glory and praise. Amen. i Thes. v. The very God os peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Chrift. Amen.
i Cor. iii. 16.
Know ye not that ye are ike temple of God, and that the
MY purpose is at this time, for our edification in Chris- SERM.