« הקודםהמשך »
3. The integrity and honesty of the heart to God consisteth much in zeal. As he is true to his friend that is zealous for him, and not he that is indifferent and cold. To do his service with zeal is to do it willingly, and heartily, and entirely. To do it without zeal is to do it heartlessly, and by the halves, and to leave out the life and kernel of the duty; it is the heart that God doth first require. 4. Zeal is much of the strength of duty; and maketh it likeliest to attain its end. The prayer of the faithful that is effectual must be “fervent".” Zeal must make us importunate suitors that will take no denial if we will speed. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force".” We must “strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter and not be able.” Not every one that striveth is crowned, nor every one that runneth wins the prize; but he that doth it effectually so as to attain. No wonder if we be commanded to love God with all our heart, and soul, and might, which is a zealous love : for this is it that overcometh all other love, and will constrain to dutiful obedience. As experience telleth us, it is the zealous and diligent preacher that doth good, when the cold and negligent do but little : so it is in all other duties; the diligent hand maketh rich, and God blesseth those that serve him heartily with all their might. 5. Zealand diligence take the opportunity, which sloth and negligence let slip. They are up with the sun; and “work while it is day:” they “seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near:” they know the day of their visitation and salvation: they delay not, but take the “accepted time.” When the slothful are still delaying and trifling, and hear not God's voice while it is “called to-day,” but “harden their hearts,” and sleep with their “lamps unfurnished,” and knock not till the “door be shut.” They stand and look upon their work when they should do it: they are never in readiness, when Christ and mercy are to be entertained: they are still putting off their duty till some other time; till time be done, and their work undone, and they are undone for ever. 6. Zealand diligence are the best improvers of time and mercy: as they delay not but take the present time, so they loiter not, but do their work to purpose. As a speedy traveller goeth farther in a day, than a slothful one in many: so a zealous, diligent Christian will do more for God and his soul in a little time, than a negligent dullard in all his life. It is a wonder to think what Augustine and Chrysostom did among the ancients' What Calvin, and Perkins, and Whitaker, and Reignolds, and Chamier, and many other reformed Divines have done in a very little time ! And what Suarez, and Vasquez, and Jansenius, and Tostatus, and Cajetan, and Aquinas, and many other Papists have performed by diligence! When millions of men that have longer time, go out of the world as unknown as they came into it; having never attained to so much knowledge as might preserve them from the reproach of brutish ignorance, nor so much as might save their souls from hell: and when many that had diligence enough to get some laudable abilities, had never diligence enough to use them to any great benefit of others or themselves. Zealand diligence are that fruitful, well-manured soil, where God soweth his seed with best success; and which returns him for his mercies an hundred fold; and at his coming giveth him his “own with usury” But sloth and negligence are the grave of mercies, where they are buried till they rise up in judgment against the des— pisers and consumers of them. Aristotle and Plato, Galen and Hippocrates, improvers of nature, shall condemn these slothful neglecters and abusers of nature and grace : yea their oxen and horses shall be witnesses against many that served not God with any such diligence, as these beasts served them: yea, many gallants of great estates never did so much service for the common good in all their lives as their very beasts have done. Their parts, their life, and all are lost by them. 7. Zeal and diligence are the victorious enemies of sin and satan. They bear not with sin: they are to it as a consuming fire is to the thorns and briars. Zeal burneth up lust, and covetousness, and pride, and sensuality. It maketh such work among our sins, as diligent weeders do in your gardens; it pulleth up the tares, and burneth them. It stands not dallying with sin, nor tasting or looking on the bait, nor disputing with, and hearkening to the tempter; * Matt. xxv. 27, 28.
* James v. 16. * Luke xviii. 1. 8, &c.
but casteth away the motion with abhorrence, and abstaineth from the very appearance of evil, and hateth the garment spotted by the flesh, and presently quencheth the sparks of concupiscence: it chargeth home, and so resisteth the devil that he flieth. When sloth and negligence cherish the sin, and encourage the tempter, and invite him by a cold resistance. The vineyard of the sluggard is overgrown with nettles: his heart swarmeth with noisome thoughts and lusts, and he resisteth them not, but easily beareth them. If he feel sinful thoughts possessing his mind, he riseth not up with zeal against them: he hath not the heart to cast them out, nor make any effectual resistance: he famisheth his soul with fruitless wishes, because his hands refuse to labour. Negligence is the nurse of sin." 8. Zeal and diligence bear down all opposition against duty with power and success. Those impediments which stop a sluggard, are as nothing before them. As the cart wheels which go slowly are easily stopt by a little stone or any thing in their way; when those that are in a swifter motion easily get over all. The lion that is in the sluggard's way, is not so much as a barking whelp in the way of a diligent, zealous Christian. The cold doth not hinder him from ploughing. A very scorn or mock, or threatening of a mortal man, will dismay and stop a heartless hypocrite; which do but serve as oil to the fire, to inflame the courage of the zealous so much more. The difficulties which seem insuperable to the slothful, are small matters to the zealous: he goeth through that which the slothful calls impossible. And when the slothful sits still and saith, ‘ I cannot do this or that,’ the zealous, diligent Christian doth it. 9. Zeal and diligence take off the toil and irksomeness of duty, and make it easy. As a quick-spirited, diligent servant maketh but a pleasure of his work, which a lazy servant doth with pain and weariness: and as a mettlesome horse makes a pleasure of a journey, which a heavy jade goeth through with pain: so reading, and hearing, and prayer are easy to a zealous soul, which to another are an unwelcome task and toil. 10. Zeal is faithful, and constant, and valiant, and therefore greatly pleaseth God: it sticks to him through persecution: the fire consumeth it not: many waters quench it not. But others are false-hearted: and those that have but a cold religion will easily be drawn or driven from their religion. They are so indifferent that a little more of the world put into the balance, will weigh down Christ in their esteem. The hopes or fears of temporal things prevail with them, against the hopes and fears of things eternal. No wonder therefore if God disown such treacherous servants, and turn them away as unworthy of his family.1 Direct. 111. ‘Let the great motives of holy zeal and diligence be set home and printed on your hearts”:' and often read them over in some quickening books, that you may remember them, and be affected with them. I have given you so many of these moving, exciting considerations, in the third part of my “Saints' Rest,” and my “Saint or Brute,” and “Now or Never,” and in my sermon against “Making Light of Christ,” that I shall be but very brief in them at present. 1. When you grow cold and slothful, remember how great a master you serve : should any thing be done negligently for God? And remember how good a master you serve For whom you are certain that you can never do too much; nor so much as he deserveth of you; nor will he ever suffer you to be losers by him. 2. Remember that he is always present: in your converse with others, in your prayers, your reading, and all your duties: and will you loiter in his sight? when a very eyeservant will work while his master standeth by. 3. One serious thought of the end and consequence of all thy work, one would think should put life into the dullest soul! Say to thy sleepy, frozen heart, Is it not heaven that I am seeking? Is it not hell that I am avoiding? And can Ibe cold and slothful about heaven and hell? Must it not go with me for ever according as I now behave myself? And is this the best that I can do for my salvation? Is it not God that I have to please and honour? and shall I do it slothfully? 4. One thought of the exceeding greatness of our work, one would think should make us be zealous and diligent! To think what abundance of knowledge we have to get! and how much of every grace we want! and how much means we have to use? and how much opposition and many temptations to overcome ! The humble sense of the weakness of our souls, and the greatness of our sins, should make us say, that whatever the rich in grace may do, it is labour that becomes the poor. 5. To remember how short our time of working is, and also how uncertain' How fast it flieth away! how soon it will be at an end ' And that all the time that ever we shall have to prepare for eternity is now! and that shortly there will be no praying, no hearing, no working any more on earth ! To look into the grave, to go to the house of mourning; to consider that this heart hath but a little more time to think, and this tongue but a little more time to speak, and all will end in the endless recompence; methinks this should quicken the coldest heart! 6. To remember how many millions are undone already by their sloth and negligence how many are in hell lamenting their slothfulness on earth, while I am hearing, or reading, or praying to prevent it, one would think should waken me from my sloth. What if I saw them, and heard their cries' would it not make me serious? What if one of them had time, and leave, and hope again as I have? would he be cold and careless 2 7. To think how many millions are now in heaven, that all came thither by holy zeal and diligence, and are now enjoying the fruit of all their labour and sufferings! To think of the blessed end of all their pains and patience, and how far they are now from repenting of it! methinks should stir us up to zeal and diligence. 8. To foresee what thoughts all the world will have of holy diligence at last! how the best will wish they had been better, and had done much more for God and their salvation' And how the worst will wish, when it is too late, that they had been as zealous and diligent as the best! How earnestly they will then knock and cry, “Lord, open to us,” when it is all in vain l and say to the watchful, diligent souls, “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out’.” To think how glad the most ungodly would then be, if they might but have “died the death of the righteous, and their latter end might be as his ‘’” And what heart-tearing grief