« AnteriorContinuar »
ENGLAND's DU TY,
Under the present
To the Reader,
S E R M O N I.
if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will
Rev. iii. 20. Behold [I] stand at the door, &c.
S E R M ON
I Rev. iii. 20. Behold I stand at the door, and knock, &c. 436
SERMON IV. Rev. iii. 20. Behold I (Aand] at the door, and knock, &c. 459
SE R M ON V. Rev. iii. 20. Behold I fand at the door, [and knock,] &c. 486
Wherein the various kinds, uses, causes, effects and reme
dies thereof are distinctly opened and prescribed, for the relief and encouragement of all those that fear God in these doubtful and distracting times.
To the Right Worshipful Sir John HARTOP, Knight
MONG all the creatures God hath made (devils only ex.
cepted) man is the most apt and able to be his own tora mentor ; and of all the scourges with which he lasheth and afa filteth both his mind and body, none is found fo cruel and intolerable as his own fears. The worse the times are like to be, the more need the mind hath of succour and encouragement, to confirm and fortify it for hard encounters; but from the worst prospect, fear inflicts the deepest and most dangerous wounds upon the mind of man, cutting the very nerves of its passive fortitude and bearing ability. · The grief we suffer from evil felt, would be light, and easy, were it not incensed by fear ; reason would do much, and religion more, to demulce and lepify our forrows, did not fear betray the succours of both. And it is from things to come that this prospecting creature raiseth up to himself vast hopes and fears: if he have a fair and encouraging prospect of serene and prosperous days, from the scheme, and position of second causes, hope immediately fills his heart with chearfulness, and displays the signals of it in his very face, answerable to that fair, benign aspect of things : but if the face of things to come, be threatening and idauspicious, fear gains the afcendant over the mind; an unmaply, and unchristian faintDefs pervades it, and, among the many other mischiefs it in. ficts, this is not the least, that it brings the evil of to-morrow VOL. IV.
upon to-day, and so makes the duties of to-day wholly unferviceable to the evils of to-morrow; which is as much as if a man having an intricate, and difficult business cut out for the next day, which requires the utmost intention, both of his mind and body, and (haply) might be prosperously managed, if both were duely prepared, should lie, all the night, restlefs and difquieted about the event, torturing and spending himself with his own presagiog fears, so that 'when the day is come, and the business calls for him, his strength is no way equal to the burden of it, but he faints, and fails under it.
There is indeed an excellent use that God makes of our fears, to stimulate our Nothful hearts, to greater vigilance and preparation for evils; and there is a mischievous use Satan makes of our fears, to caft us under defpondency and upbecoming pufillanimity: and I reckon it one of the greatest difficulties of religion, to cut, by a thread, here, and so to manage ourselves under threatniog or doubtful providences, as to be touched with so much sense of those approaching evils, as may prepare us to bear them; and yet to enjoy that constancy and firmaels of mind, in the worst times, that may answer the excellent principles we are professedly governed by.
Thefe last times are certainly the most perilous times; great things are yet to be acted upon the page of this world, before it be taken dowa; and the scena antepenultima, latter-end, I say not the last, will be a tragedy. There is an ultima clades adhuc metuenda, a dismal Naughter of the witnesses of Christ yet to be expected: the last bite of the cruel bealt will be deadly, and if we flatter not ourselves, all things seem to be disposing themselves in the course of providence towards it.
But, Sir, If our union with Chrift be sure in itself, and fure to us also; if faith give us the daily visions and praelibations of the world to come, what well-composed fpectators shall we be of these tragedies ! Let things be tossed fusque, deque, and the
mountains cast into the midlt of the fea, yet then Pfal. xlvi. the assured Christian may sing his fong upon Ala
moth, A fong composed for God's hidden ones." This fo poiseth and steddies the miod, that we may enjoy the comfort and tranquillity of a religoed will, when others are at their wit's end.
With design to promote this blessed frame, in my own and others hearts, in these frightful times, I meditated, and now publish this small tract, to which a dear friend (from whom I have often had the fair idea and character of your excelleat fpirit) hath occasioned the prefixing of your worthy name; I beg