« AnteriorContinuar »
work is principally to be done between you and 4. In order to all this you have reconciliation God, who alone can save you or destroy you: to receive from God, and the pardon of all your and yet do you forget him, and live as if you had sins to be obtained. For woe to you if then you no business with him, when you have your sal- are found under the guilt of any sin. Look back vation to obtain from him, and your damnation upon your lives, and remember how you
have to prevent ? Have you such business as this with lived in the word, and what you have been
doing : how you have spent your time, in youth, 2. You have a strict and righteous judgment and in your riper age; and how many sinful to undergo in order to this salvation or damna- thoughts, words, and deeds you have been guilty tion. You must stand before the holy majesty, of; how often you have sinfully pleased your and be judged by the governor of the world : appetites, gratified your flesh, and yielded to you must be there accused, and found guilty temptations, abused mercy, and lost your time: or not guilty ; and judged as fulfillers, or as how often you have neglected your duty, and bebreakers of the holy covenant of grace : you trayed your souls: how long you have lived in must be set on the right hand or on the left : forgetfulness of God and your salvation ; minding you must answer for all the time that you only the things of the flesh and of the world: here spent, and for all the means and mer- how often you have sinned ignorantly and against cies which you here received, and for that you knowledge, through carelessness and through rashhave done, whether it were good or evil : and it ness, through negligence and through presumpis now in this life that all your preparation must tion, in passion, and upon deliberation ; against be made, and all that must be done, upon which convictions, purposes and promises : how often your justification or condemnation will then de- you have sinned against the precepts of piety to pend. It is between God and you that all this God, and of justice and charity to men. Think business must be done : and yet can you live as how your sins are multiplied and aggravated, negligently towards him, as if
had no busi- more in number than the hours of your lives : ness with him ?
aggravated by a world of mercies; by the clear3. You have a death to die, a change to make, est teachings, and the loudest calls, and sharpest which must be made but once; which will be reproofs, and seasonable warnings, and by the the entrance upon endless joy or pain: do you long and urgent importunities of grace. Think think this needeth not your most timely and di- of all these, and then consider whether you have ligent preparation : you must struggle with pains, nothing now to do with God, whether it be not and faint with weakness, and feel death taking a business to be followed with all possible speed down your earthen tabernacle : you must then and diligence, to procure the pardon of all these have a life that is ending to review, and all that sins: you have no such business as these to transyou have done laid open to your more impartial act with men: you may have business with them judgment; you must then see time as at an end, which your estates depend upon, or which touch and the last sand running, and your candle ready your credit, or lives; but you have no business to go out, and leave the snuff; you must then with men, unless in subordination to God, which look back upon all that you have had from the your salvation doth depend upon: your eternal world, as ending ; and upon all that you have happiness is not in their hands: they may kill done as that which cannot be undone again, that your bodies, if God permit them, but not your you may do it better; and you must have a souls. You need not solicit them to pardon more serious look into eternity, when you are your sins against God: it is a small matter how stepping thither, than you can now conceive of: you are judged of by man: you have one that and doth all this need no preparation? It is with judgeth you, even the Lord. No man can forGod that all that business must be now transac- give sin, but God only. O then how early, how ted, that must make your death to be comfortable earnestly should you cry to him for mercy! or safe. If now you will only converse with Pardon must be obtained now or never : there is men, and know no business that you have with no justification for that man at the day of God, you shall find at last to your exceeding judgment, who is not forgiven and justified now. terror, that you are in his hands, and passing to • Blessed then is the man whose iniquity is forhis bar, and that it is God that then you have to given, whose sin is covered, and to whom it is do with, when your business with all the world not imputed by the Lord.' Woe to that man is at an end: he will then have something to do that ever he was born, who is then found with you, if you will now find nothing to do with without the pardon of his sins! Think of him.
this as the case deserves, and then think if you can, that your daily business with God is , heartlessly and hypocritically to say, I am sorry, small.
or I repent, without any true contrition or reno5. Moreover, you have peace of conscience vation. It is a greater to betake yourselves to to obtain ; and that depends upon your peace Jesus Christ as your only hope, to save you both with God. Conscience will be your accuser, from sin and from damnation, than barely through condemner, and tormentor, if you make it not custom, and the benefit of education, to say, I your friend, by making God your friend. Con- do believe in Christ. I tell you it is so great a sider what conscience hath to say against you, work to bring you to sound Repentance and and how certainly it will speak home, when you Faith, that it must be done by the power of God would be loth to hear it: and bethink you how himself, they are the gifts of God, you must have to answer all its accusations, and what will be his Spirit to illuminate you, and show you the necessary to make it a messenger of peace; and odiousness of sin, the intolerableness of the wrath then think your business with God to be but of God, the necessity and sufficiency, the power small, if you are able. It is no easy matter to and willingness of Christ ; and to overcome all get assurance that God is reconciled to you, and your prejudice, and save you from false opinions that he hath forgiven all your sins.
and deceits : and to repulse the temptations of 6. In order to all this, you must be united to Satan, the world and the flesh, which will all Jesus Christ, and be made his members, that you rise up against you. All this must be done to may have part in him, and that he may wash bring you home to Jesus Christ, or else
will you by his blood, and that he may answer for have no part in him, his righteousness and grace: you to his Father ; woe to you if he be not your and can you think that you have not most imrighteousness, and if you have not him to plead portant business with God, who inust do all this your cause, and take upon him your final justifi- upon you, or else you are undone for ever! cation ! None else can save you from the wrath 8. Moreover you must have all the corrupof God: and he is the Saviour only of his body, tions of your natures healed, and your sins subhe hath died for you without your consent, and dued, and your hearts made new by sanctifying he hath made general proclamation of pardon grace, and the image of God implanted in you, and salvation, before you consented to it: but and your lives made holy and sincerely conformhe will not be united to you, nor actually for- able to the will of God. All this must be done, give, justify and save you, without your own or you cannot be acceptable to God, nor ever consent: therefore, that the Father may draw will be saved : though your carnal interests rise you to the Son, and may give you Christ, and against it; though your old corrupted natures life in him, when all your hope depends on it, be against it; though your custom, pleasure, and you may see that you have more to do with worldly gain and honour be against it; though God, than your senseless hearts have hitherto all your carnal friends and superiors be against understood.
it ; though the devil will do all that he can 7. That you may have a saving interest in against it, yet all this must be done or you Jesus Christ, you must have sound repentance are lost for ever : all this must be done by the for all your former life of wickedness, and a Spirit of God; for it is his work to make you lively, effectual faith in Christ : neither sin nor new and holy: can you think then that the buChrist must be made light of. Repentance must siness is not great which you have with God; tell you to the very heart, that you have done when you have tried how hard every part of this foolishly in sinning, and that it is an evil and work is, to be begun and carried on, you will find a bitter thing that you forsook the Lord, and that you have more to do with God, than with all his fear was not in you: and thus your wicked the world. ness shall correct you and reprove you.' Faith 9. Moreover, in order to this, it is necessary must tell you that Christ is ‘more necessary to that you read, hear and understand the gospel, you than food or life, and that there is no other which must be the means of bringing you to God name given under heaven by which you can be by Christ: this must be the instrument of God, saved,' and it is not so easy nor so common a by which he will bring you to repent and bething to repent and believe, as ignorant presump- lieve, and by which he will renew your natures, tuous sinners imagine. It is a greater matter and imprint his image on you, and bring you to to have a truly humbled, contrite heart, and to love him, and obey his will. The word of God lothe yourselves for all your sins, and to lothe must be your counsellor, and your delight, and those sins, and resolvedly give up yourselves to you must set your heart to it, and meditate in Christ and to his Spirit for a holy life, than lit day and night. Knowledge must be the means
to reclaim your perverse, misguided wills, and to you look within you, without you, about you, reform your careless, crooked lives, and to bring and see how much you are trusted with, and you out of the kingdom of darkness, into the must be accountable to him for, and yet not state of life and light. Such knowledge cannot see how great your business is with God ? be expected without a diligent attending unto 13. Moreover, you have all the graces
which Christ, the teacher of your souls, and a due con- you shall receive to exercise ; and every grace sideration of the truth. By that time you have doth carry you to God, and is exercised upon learned what is needful to be learned for a true him, or for him : it is God that you must study, conversion, a sound repentance, a saving faith, know, love, desire, and trust and hope in, and a holy life, you will find that you have far and obey : it is God that you must seek after, greater business with God than with all the and delight in, so far as you enjoy him: it is world.
his absence or displeasure that must be your 10. Moreover, for the attaining of all this fear and sorrow: therefore the soul is said to be mercy, you have many a prayer to put up to sanctified when it is renewed, because it is both God: you must daily pray for the forgiveness disposed and devoted unto God. Therefore of your sins, and deliverance from temptations, grace is called holiness, because it all disposes, and even for your daily bread, or necessary pro- carries the soul to God, and uses it upon and visions for the work which you have to do : you for him. Can you think your business with must daily pray for the supplies of grace which God is small, when you must live upon him, and you want, and for the gradual mortification of all the powers of your soul must be addicted to the flesh, and for help in all the duties which you him, and be in serious motion towards him; must perform; and for strength against all spi- when he must be much more to you than the air ritual enemies which will assault you ; and pre- which you breathe in, or the earth you live upon, servation from the manifest evils which attend or than the sun that gives you light and heat; you: these prayers must be put up with unwea- yea, than the soul is to your bodies ? ried constancy, fervency and faith. Keep up 14. Lastly, you have abundance of temptathis course of fervent prayer, and beg for Christ, tions and impediments to watch and strive grace, pardon, and salvation in any measure as against, which would hinder you in the doing of they deserve, and according to thy own neces- all this work, and a corrupt and treacherous heart sity, and then tell me whether thy business with to watch and keep in order, which will be lookGod be small, and to be put off as lightly as it ing back, and shrinking from the service. Lay is by the ungodly.
all this together, and then consider whether you 11. Moreover, you are made for the glory of have not more and greater business with God, your Creator, and must apply yourselves wholly than with all the creatures in the world. to glorify him in the world : you must make his If this be so, is there any cloak for that man's service the trade and business of your lives, and sin, who is all day taken up with creatures, and not put him off with something on the by: you thinks of God as seldom and carelessly as if he are good for nothing else but to serve him ; had no business with him ? Yet alas, if you take as a knife is made to cut, as your clothes are a survey of high and low, of court, city, and inade to cover you, your meat to feed you, country, you shall find that this is the case of no and your horse to labour for you ; so you are small number, yea, of many that observe it not made, redeemed, and maintained for this, to to be their case; it is the case of the profane love and please your great Creator: and can that pray in jest, swear, curse, and rail in earnest. you think that it is but little business that you It is the case of the malignant enemies of holihave with him, when he is the end and master ness, that hate them at the heart who are most of your lives, and all you are or have is for acquainted with this converse with God, and him ?
count it but hypocrisy, pride or fancy, and would 12. For the due performance of his service, not suffer them to live upon the earth, who are you have all his talents to employ. To this end most sincerely conversant in heaven. It is the it is that he hath entrusted you with reason, case of pharisees and hypocrites, who take up health, and strength, with time, parts, interest, with ceremonious observances, as "touch not, and wealth, and all his mercies, and all his ordi- taste not, handle not,' and such like traditions of nances and means of grace; and to this end must their forefathers, instead of a spiritual rational you use them, or you lose them : you must give service, and a holy, serious walking with the Lord. him an account of all at last, whether you have It is the case of all ambitious men, and covetous improved them all to your Master's use. Can worldlings, who make more ado to climb up :
little higher than their brethren, to hold the as suitable to their appetites, as the sweetness of reins, have their wills, and be admired and their meat, drink, and lusts, and as suitable to adored in the world, or to get a large estate for their fancy as their worldly dignities and greatthemselves and their posterity, than to please ness were, they would then have made a better their Maker, or to save their souls. It is the choice. They would have walked with God, if case of every sensual epicure, whose belly is his drunkenness, gluttony, pride, wantonness, coveGod, and serves his fancy, lust, and appetite tousness and idleness, had been the way in which before the Lord. It is the case of every unsanc- they might have walked with him. If these had tified man, that seeks first the prosperity of his been godliness, how godly would they have been ? flesh, before the kingdom and righteousness of How certainly would they have come to heaven, God, and is most careful and laborious to lay up if this had been the way? To be idle, proud, a treasure on earth, and laboureth more (with fleshly, and worldly, is that which they love ; greater estimation, resolution, and delight) for and to be humble, holy, heavenly, and mortified, the meat that perisheth, than for that which en- is that which they hate, and cannot away with ; dureth to everlasting life. All these (who are their love and hatred proceed from their corrupt too great a part of the world, and too great a natures ; and these are instead of reason to them. part of professed Christians) are taken up with Their strong apprehensions of a present suitablecreature converse ; and yet think to escape the ness in fleshly pleasures to their appetites, and deluge of God's displeasure, because the Enochs of a present unsuitableness of a holy life, keep and Noahs are so few who walk with God; and out all effectual apprehensions of the excellenthey think God will not destroy so many : thus cies of God, and of spiritual, heavenly delights, they think to be saved by their multitude, and which cross them in the pleasures which they to hide themselves in the crowd from God : they most desire. will go the wide and common path, and be of the But yet (their appetites corrupting their unmind that most are of: they will not be con- derstandings as well as their wills) they will not vinced till most men are convinced : that is, till be mad without some reason, nor reject their their wisdom come too late, and cost them dearer Maker and their happiness without some reason, than its worth. When all men are convinced nor neglect that holy work which they were made that God should have been preferred before the for, without some reason : let us hear then what world, and served before their fleshly lusts, as it is. they will certainly and sadly be, then they will be convinced with the rest. When all men un
CHAP. IIL. derstand that life was given them to have done the work which eternal life depends on, then they will understand it with the rest. When all men shall discern between the righteous and the Object. 1. They say, 'It is true that God hath wicked ; between those that serve God, and that much to do with us, and for us: but it follows serve him not, then they will discern it with the not that we have so much to do with him, or for rest : they will know what their business was in him, as you would have us to believe : for he is the world, and how much they had to do with necessarily good, and necessarily doth good; and God, when all men know it.
therefore will do so, whether we think of him or But ( how much better for them had it been not: the sun will not give over shining on me, to have known it in time, while knowledge might though I never think on it, or never pray to it, have done them better service, than to make or give it thanks. Nor doth God need any serthem feel the greatness of their sin and folly, vice that we can do him, no more than the sun and the hopes which once they had of happiness, doth : nor is he pleased any more in the praise and to help the sting of desperation continually of men, or in their works.' to prick them at the heart : they would not be Answ. l. It is most certain that God is good of so little a flock as that to which it was the good as necessarily as he is God: but it is not true, pleasure of God to give the kingdom. If you that he must necessarily do good to you, or other demand a reason of all this, their reason was in individual persons, nor that he necessarily doth their sensual pleasures : they had fleshly appe- the good he doth them. As he is not necessitites and lusts, and thereby could relish fleshly tated to make toads and serpents as happy as pleasures ; but spiritual life and appetite they men, or men as angels ; so he is not necessitated bad none, and therefore relished not spiritual to save the devils or damned souls, for he will things : had Christ, holiness, and heaven been not save them. He was under no greater a
OBJECTIONS STATED AND ANSWERED.
necessity to save you, than them. He was not | and partial studies, that short of God even among necessitated to give you a being: he could have the creatures, there are many things to be pre. passed you by, and caused others to have possessed ferred before themselves and their own felicity: your room. As it was God's freewill, and not he is irrationally enslaved by self-love, that canany necessity, that millions more are never born not see that the happiness of the world, or of his that were in possibility of it: for all that is pos- country, or of multitudes, is more to be desired sible doth not come to pass. So, that you and than his happiness alone. That he ought rather millions more were born, was not of necessity to choose to be annihilated, or to be miserable, but of the same free-will. And as God did not if it were made a matter of his deliberation and make you of necessity but of free-will: so he choice, than to have the sun taken out of the doth not necessarily but freely justify, or sanctify, firmament, or the world, or his country to be anor save. If he did it by necessity of nature, he nihilated or miserable. God is infinitely above would do it to all as well as some; seeing all have the creature. a natural capacity of grace as well as those that Object. But it may be said, that he needeth receive it: God is able to sanctify and save nothing to make him happy, having no defect of more, yea, all, if it were his will: and it is not happiness. for want of power or goodness that he doth not. Answ. And what of that ? Must it needs Millions of beings are possible which are not therefore follow that he made not all things for future. God doth not all the good which he is himself, but for the creature finally? He is perable, but communicates so much to his several fectly happy in himself, and his will is himself : creatures as to his wisdom seems meet. If the this will was fulfilled when the world was not damped would be so presumptuous as to argue, made, for it was his will that it should not be that because God is able yet to sanctify, and made till it was made, and it is fulfilled when it save them, therefore he must do it of necessity is made, and fulfilled by all that comes to pass: of nature, it would not be long before they should and as the absolute simple goodness and perfecthus dispute themselves out of their torments. tion of God's essence is the greatest good, the God will not ask leave of sinners to be God: their eternal, immutable good; so the fulfilling of his denying him to be good, that is, to be God, be- will is the ultimate end of all obedience : he hath cause he complies not with their conceits and expressed himself to take pleasure in his works, wills, doth but prove them to be fools and bad and in the holiness, obedience and happiness of themselves.
his chosen: though pleasure be not the same thing Indeed some sciolists pretending to learning, in God as it is in a man, no more than will or while they are ignorant of most obvious princi- understanding is, yet it is not nothing which ples of natural knowledge, have taught poor God expresses by such terms, but something sinners to cheat their souls with such dreams as which we have no fitter expression for: this these. They have made themselves believe that pleasing of the will of God being the end of all, goodness in God is nothing else but his benign- even of our felicity, is better than our felicity itity, or disposition to do good. As if the crea- self. ture were the ultimate end, and all God's good- They that will maintain that God, who is naness but a means thereto: so Gud were the turally and necessarily good, hath no other good. Alpha or first efficient, and yet the creature the ness but his benignity, or aptness to do good to Omega or last end : and all the goodness in God his creatures, must needs also maintain that were to be estimated and denominated by its (God being for the creature, and not the crearespect to the felicity of man: and so the crea- ture for God) the creature is better than God, ture hath the best part of the deity. Such no- as being the ultimate end of God himself, and tions evidently show us, that lapsed man is pre- the highest use of all his goodness, being but dominantly selfish, and is become his own idol, for the felicity of the creature: as also that and is lost in himself, while he hath lost himself | God doth all the good that he is able: and that by his loss of God: when we see how powerful all men shall be saved, and all devils, and every his self-interest is, both with his intellect and worm and insect be equal to the highest angel, will : even men of great ingenuity, till sanctifi- or else that God is not able to do it. That he cation hath restored them to God, and taught did thus make happy all his creatures from eterthem better to know him and themselves, are nity, for natural necessary agents work always if ready to measure all good or evil by their own they be not forcibly hindered ; and that there interests ; when yet common reason would have never was such a thing as pain or misery, in told them, if they had not perverted it by pride man or brute, or else that God was not able to