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will seize upon them for ever, to think how madly they lost their souls, and sluggishly went to hell to spare their pains of that sweet and holy work that should have prevented it ! Will not such forethoughts awaken the most sluggish, stupid souls, that will but follow them till they can do their work? 9. Remember that thou must be zealous and diligent in this or nothing : for there is nothing else that is worth thy seriousness, in comparison of this. To be earnest and laborious for perishing vanities, is the disgrace of thy mind, and will prove thy disappointment, and leave thee at last in shame and sorrow ; when holy diligence will recompence all thy pains. 10. Remember also that thou hast been slothful and negligent too long ! And how dost thou repent of thy former sloth, if thou wilt be as slothful still? Art thou grieved to think how many duties slothfulness hath put by, and how many it hath murdered, and frustrated, and made nothing of, and how much grace, and mercy, and comfort, it hath already deprived thee of? and how much better thy case were, if thou hadst lived in as much holy diligence as the best thou knowest And yet wilt thou be slothful still? 11. Remember that thou hast thy life, and health, and wit, and parts, for nothing else but by thy present duty to prepare for everlasting joys: that all God’s mercies bind thee to be diligent; and every ordinance, and all his helps and means of grace, are given to further thee in the work; and sun, and moon, and air, and earth, and all, attend thee with their help. And yet wilt thou be cold and slothful, and frustrate all these means and mercies? 12. Remember how diligent thy enemy is: satan “goeth about even night and day, like a roaring lion seeking to devour!” And wilt thou be less diligent to resist him? 13. Think what an example of diligence Christ himself hath left thee! And how laboriously blessed Paul and all the holy servants of Christ did follow their Master's work | Did they pray, and watch, and work as slothfully as thou dost? 14. Remember how hot and earnest thou wast formerly in thy sin! and wilt thou now be cold and negligent in thy duty, when God hath set thee in a better way? 15. Observe how eager and diligent worldlings are for the world, and flesh-pleasers for their sports and pleasures, and proud persons for their greatness and honour, and ma
lignant persons to oppose the Gospel of Christ, and their own and other men's salvation: look on them; and think what a shame it is to thee to be more cold and remiss for God. 16. Observe how an awakening pang of conscience, or the sight of death when it seems to be at hand, can waken the very wicked to some kind of serious diligence at the present; so that by their confessions, and cries, and promises, and amendments, while the fit was on them, they seemed more zealous than many that were sincere. And shall not saving grace do more with you, than a fit of fear can do with the ungodly? 17. Remember of how sad importance it is, and what it signifieth to be cold and slothful! If it be predominant so as to keep thee from a holy life, it is damnable. The spirit of slumber is a most dreadful judgment. But if it do not so prevail, yet, though thou be a child of God, it signifieth a great debility of soul, and foretelleth some sharp affliction to befal thee, if God mean to do thee good by a recovery. The decay of natural heat is a sign of old age, and is accompanied with the decay of all the powers. And sicknesses and pains do follow such decays of life. And as you will make your horse feel the rod or spur when he grows dull and heavy, expect when you grow cold and dull, to feel the spur of some affliction, to make you stir and mend your pace. 18. Remember that thy sloth is a sinning against thy knowledge, and against thy experience, and against thy own covenants, promises, and profession; and therefore an aggravated sin. These and such like serious thoughts, will do much to stir up a slothful soul to zeal and diligence. Direct. Iv. “Drown not your hearts in worldly business or delights: for these breed a loathing, and averseness, and weariness of holy things.’ They are so contrary one to the other, that the mind will not be eagerly set on both at once; but as it relisheth the one, it more and more disrelisheth the other. There is no heart left for God, when other things have carried it away. Direct. v. “Do all you can to raise your hearts to the love of God, and a delight in holy things, and then you will not be slothful, nor weary, nor negligent.” Love and delight are the most excellent remedy against a slow, unwilling kind of duty. Know but how good it is to walk with God, and do his work, and thou wilt do it cheerfully.
Direct. vi. “A secret root of unbelief is the mortal enemy of zeal and diligence: labour for a well-grounded belief of the word of God and the world to come, and stir up that belief into exercise, when you would have your slothful hearts stirred up.’ When there is a secret questioning in the heart, What if there should be no life to come 2 What if the grounds of religion be unsound? This blasteth the vigour of all endeavours, and inclineth men to serve God only with hypocritical halving and reserves; and maketh men resolve to be no further religious, than stands with present, fleshly happiness. Direct. v11. ‘Take heed of debauching conscience by venturing upon doubtful things, much more, by known and wilful sin".’. For when once conscience is taught to comply with sin, and is mastered in one thing, it will do its duty well in nothing, and zeal will quickly be extinct: diligence will die when conscience is corrupted or fallen asleep. Direct. v1.11. ‘Live in a constant expectation of death.’ Do not foolishly flatter yourself with groundless conceits, that you shall live long. There is a great power in death to rouse up a drowsy soul, when it is taken to be near. And a great force in the conceit of living long, to make even good men grow more negligent and secure. Direct. 1x. ‘Live among warm and serious Christians; especially as to your intimate familiarity".' There is a very great power in the zeal of one to kindle zeal in others; as there is in fire to kindle fire. Serious, hearty, diligent Christians, are excellent helps to make us serious and diligent. He that travelleth with speedy travellers, will be willing to keep pace with them; and tired sluggards are drawn on by others: when he that travelleth with the slothful will go slowly as they do. Direct. x. Lastly, “Be oft in the use of quickening means: live, if you can attain it, under a quickening, zealous minister.” There is life in the Word of God, which when it is opened and applied livelily will put life into the hearers. Read the holy Scriptures, and such lively writings as help you to understand and practise them. As going to the fire is our way when we are cold, to cure our benumbedness, so reading over some part of a warm and quickening book, will do much to warm and quicken a benumbed soul: and it is not the smallest help to rouse us up to prayer or meditation, and put life into us before we address ourselves more nearly unto God. I have found it myself a great help in my studies, and to my preaching; when studying my own heart would not serve the turn, to awake me to serious fervency, but all hath been cold and dull that I have done, because all was cold and dull within, I have taken up a book that was much more warm and serious than I, and the reading of it hath recovered my heat, and my warmed heart hath been fitter for my work. Christians, take heed of a cold, and dull, and heartless kind of religion; and think no pains too much to cure it: death is cold, and life is warm ; and labour itself doth best excite it.
* Rom. xiv. 21, 22. 1 Cor. v. 6. Eph. iv. 29, 30. * Prov. xxii. 24, 25. xxvii. 17. Heb. iii. 13, x. 24, 25. Rom. xv. 14.
Directions about Sports and Recreations, and against Excess and Sin therein.
Direct. 1. ‘If you would escape the sin and danger, which
men commonly run into by unlawful sporting, under pretence of lawful recreations; you must understand what lawful recreation is, and what is its proper end and use.’ No wonder else if you sin, when you know not what you do!
No doubt but some sport and recreation is lawful, yea needful, and therefore a duty to some men. Lawful sport or recreation is the use of some natural thing or action, not forbidden us, for the exhilarating of the natural spirits by the fantasy, and due exercise of the natural parts, thereby to fit the body and mind for ordinary duty to God. It is some delightful exercise.
1. We do not call unpleasing labour by the name of sport or recreation; though it may be better and more necessary. 2. We call not every delight by the name of sport or recreation: for eating and drinking may be delightful, and holy things and duties may be delightful; and yet not properly sports or recreations. But it is the fantasy that is chiefly delighted by sports.
Qual. 1. All these things following are necessary to the lawfulness of a sport or recreation, and the want of any one of them will make and prove it to be unlawful. 1. The end which you really intend in using it, must be to fit you for your service to God; that is, either for your callings, or for his worship, or some work of obedience in which you may please and glorify him, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” It is just to your duty, as the mowers whetting to his scythe, to make it for to do his work. Qual. 11.2. Therefore the person that useth it, must be one that is heartily devoted to God, and his service, and really liveth to do his work, and please and glorify him in the world: which none but the godly truly do ! And therefore no carnal ungodly person, that hath no such holy end, can use any recreation lawfully : because he useth it not to a due end. For the end is essential to the moral good of any action; and an evil end must needs make it evil. “Unto the pure all things are pure (that is, all things not forbidden), but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Quest. “But must all wicked men therefore forbear recreation? Answ. l. Wicked men are such as will not obey God's law if they know it; and therefore they inquire not what they should do, with any purpose sincerely to obey. But if they would obey, that which God commandeth them is immediately to forsake their wickedness, and to become the servants of God, and then there will be no room for the question. .2. But if they will continue in a sinful, ungodly state, it is in vain to contrive how they may sport themselves without sin. But yet we may tell them that if the sport be materially lawful, it is not the matter, that they are bound to forsake, but it is the sinful end and manner. And till this be reformed they cannot but sin. Qual. III. 3. A lawful recreation must be a means fitly chosen and used to this end. If it have no aptitude to fit us for God's service in our ordinary callings and duty, it can be to us no lawful recreation. Though it be lawful to another that it is a real help to, it is unlawful to us. Qual. Iv. 4. Therefore all recreations are unlawful, which are themselves preferred before our callings, or which are used by a man that liveth idly, or in no calling, and hath no ordinary work to make him need them. For these are no fit means, which exclude our end, instead of furthering it.