תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

when God saith, Ask and it shall be given you, you say, How

prove you that I am bound to ask? You can sing ribald songs, and dance without a command ; you can feast, and play, and prate, and sleep, and loiter in idleness without a command; but you cannot learn how to be saved, nor

l praise your Redeemer without a command. A thief can steal, a fornicator can play the brute, a drunkard can be drunk, an oppressor can make himself hateful to the oppressed, not only without law, but against it! But you cannot rejoice in God, nor live one day together in his love and service, without a law, no nor with it neither. For because you had rather not love him, it is certain that you do not love him: and because you had rather play than pray, and serve the flesh than serve your Maker; it is a certain sign that you do not serve him, with any thing which he will accept as service. For while he hath not your hearts, he hath nothing which he accepteth. Your knee and tongue only is forced against your will, to that which you call serving him : but your hearts or wills cannot be forced. When you had rather be elsewhere, and say, When will the sermon and prayer be done, that I may be at my work or play! God taketh it as if you were there where you had rather be.

I pray you deal openly, and tell me, you that think a day too long for God, and are weary of all holy work, what would you be doing that while, if you had your choice? Is it any thing which

you dare say is better? Dare you say, that playing is better than praying, or a piper or dancing better than praising God with psalms? Or that your sleep, or games, or chat, or worldly business is better than the contemplation of God and glory! And will those deceivers of the people also say this, who teach them that it is a tedious, uncommanded thing to serve God so long? I think they dare not speak it out. If they dare, let them not grudge that they must for ever be shut out of heaven, where there will be nothing else but holiness. But if you dare not say so, why will you be weary of well-doing, that you may do ill? Why are you not more weary of every thing than of holiness, unless you think every thing better than holiness?

Especially those men, 1. Whose judgment is for willworship, should not ask, Where is there a command,

any good which they are willing of. But doth not this shew that you had rather there were no command for it? Be

a

for

a

judges yourselves. 2. And they that are for making the churches a great deal more work than God hath made them, (O what abundance hath Popery made, and what a multitude of new religious particles !) methinks should not for shame say that God hath tired them out, and made them too much work already? Do you cry out, What a weariness is this one day, when you would add of your own such a multitude of more days and more work ?

Yet though I talk of doing it willingly, if you had no forcing law of God, but bare leave to receive such benefits, my meaning is not that God hath left any such thing indifferent, or made them only the matter of counsels and not commands ; for he hath made it our duty to receive our own benefits, and to do that which tendeth to our own good and salvation. But if it had been so, that we had only leave to receive so great mercies without any other penalty for refusing, than the loss of them, it should be enough to men that love themselves, and kuow what is for their good. Much more when commands concur.

CHAPTER X.

How the Lord's-day should not be spent : or what is unlawful

on it.

[ocr errors]

As to the resolving this question also, I would wish for no greater advantage on him that I dispute with, but that he be a man that loveth God and holiness, and knoweth somewhat of the difference between things temporal and things eternal; and knoweth what is for the good of his soul, and preferreth it before his body; and hath an appetite to relish the delights of wisdom, and of things most excellent and divine. And that he be one that knoweth his own necessities, and repenteth of his former loss of time; and liveth in a daily preparation for death; that is, that he be a real Christian; and then by all this it will appear, how the Lord's-day must not be spent; or what things are unlawful to be done thereon.

I. Undoubtedly it must not be spent in wickedness; in gluttony or drunkenness, chambering or wantonness, strife or envying, or any of those works of the flesh, which are at

а"

[ocr errors]

all times sinful. An evil work is most unsuitable to a holy day : and yet, alas, what day hath more rioting and excess of meat, and drink, and wantonness, and sloth, and lust, than it?

II. It ought not to be spent in our worldly businesses. which are the labours allowed us on the six days; unless necessity or mercy make them at any time become such duties of the law of nature, as positives must for that time give place to. For how is it a day separated to holy employments, if we spend it in the common business of the world ? It is the great advantage that we have by such a separated day, that we may wholly cast off our minds from this world, and set them on the world to come, and exercise them in holy communion with God and his church, without the interruptions and distractions of any ea

any earthly cogitations. A divided mind doth never perform any holy work with that integrity and life, as the nature of it requireth. Heavenly contemplations are never well managed with the intermixture of diverting, worldly thoughts : so great a work as to converse in heaven, to be wrapped up in the admirations of the Divine perfections, to kindle a fervent love to God, by the contemplation of his love and goodness, to triumph over sin and Satan with our triumphing, glorified Head, to commemorate his resurrection, and the whole work of our redemption with a lively, working faith, doth require the whole heart, and will not consist with alien thoughts, and the diversion of Aeshly employments or delights. Nay, had we no higher work to do than to search our hearts, and lament our sins, and beg for mercy, and learn God's word, and treat with our Redeemer about the saving of our souls, and to prepare for death and judgment, surely it should challenge all our faculties, and tell us that voluntary diversions do too much savour of impiety and contempt. It is the great mercy of God that we have leave to lay by these clogs and impediments of the soul, and to seek his face with greater freedom than the incumbrances of our week-day labours will allow us. No slave can be so glad of a Sabbath's ease from his sorest toil and basest drudgery, as a believer should be to be released from his earthly thoughts and business, that he may freely, entirely, and delightfully converse with God.

III. The Lord's-day must not be spent in tempting, diverting, unnecessary recreations, or pleasures of the Aesh.

a

[ocr errors]

1. For these are as great an impediment to the holy employment of the soul, as worldly labours, if not much more. It is easier for a man to be exercised in heavenly meditations at the plough or cart, or other such labours of his place and calling, than at bowls, or hunting, or cards, or dice, or stageplays, or races, or dancing, or bear-baitings, or cock-fights, or any such sensual sports. I need no proof of this to any man that hath himself any experience of the holy employments of a believing soul, or that ever knew what it was to spend one day of the Lord aright; and no proof will suffice them that have no experience, because they know not effectually what it is that they talk of.

2. We find that even on other days, the worst men are most addicted to these sports, and are the greatest pleaders for them, and that the more they use them, the worse they grow; yea, that the times of using them are frequently the times of the eruption of many heinous sins. I have lived in my youth in many places where sometimes shows or uncouth spectacles have been their sports at certain seasons of the year, and sometimes morrice-dancings, and sometimes

, stage-plays, and sometimes wakes and revels; and all men observed that these were the times of the most flagitious crimes; and that there was then more drunkenness, more fighting, more horrid oaths and curses uttered, than in many weeks at other times. Then it was that the enraged sensualists did act the part of furious devils, in scorning and reviling all that were more sober and better than themselves, and railing at those that minded God and their everlasting state, as precisians, puritans, and hypocrites; then it was that they were ready in their fury, if they durst, to assault the very persons and houses of them that would not do as they did. Whatever is done in such crowds and tumults, is done with the impetuosity of rage and passion, and with the greatest audacity, and the violation of all laws and regulating restraints. As many waters make a furious stream, and great fires where much fuel is conjunct do disdain restraint and quickly devour all before them, so is it with the raging folly of youth, when voluptuous persons once get together, and their lusts take fire, and they fall into a torrent of profuse sensuality. Yea, those that at other times are sober, and when they come home do seem of another mind, yet do as the rest when they are among them, and seem as

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

bad and furious as they. As we see among the London apprentices on the day called Good-tides Tuesday, or May-day, when they once get out together and are in motion, they seem all alike, and those that are most sober and timorous alone, in the rout are heightened to the audacity of the rest; and as in an army the sight of the multitude, and the noise of drums and guns, put valour into the fearful, and they will go on with others, that else would run away from a proportionable single combat and danger; and as boys at school that fear to offend singly, yet fear not to bar out their master in a combination when all concur; so all seem wicked in a crowd and rout of wicked persons; and sensuality and licentiousness is not the smallest part of the wickedness.

O how unfit is youth in such a crowd to think of God, or eternity, or death; or to hear the sober warnings of the preacher, in comparison of what the same persons be, when they are at church, and congregated purposely to hear God's word! Go among them and try them then, with any grave and wholesome counsel : ask them whether they are penitent converts, and whether they are prepared for another world. Try, what answer they will give you, and whether they will not deride you more than at another time. I would those that write and plead for this, under the name of harmless recreations, would go amongst them sometimes with sober counsel, and learn to be wise by their own experience, that their errors might not be of such pernicious consequence to men's souls as they have been. Reason itself hath no place or audience in the noise of youthful, furious lusts. They willlaugh at reason as well as at Scripture; and scorn sobriety as well (though not so much) as holiness. If even in the meetings of grave persons it have ever been observed that individual persons are apt to be carried by the stream, and otherwise than their talk importeth at other times when they are single, what wonder if it be so in evil with unbridled youth?

If you say that the law forbiddeth routs and riots, and it is no such unruly places that we defend :'

Answ. Disclaim not the name only while you defend the thing. Be not like them that say, We persuade men to voluntary untruths, but not to lying ; to break their vows and oaths in lawful matters, but not to perjury; to kill those that anger them, but not to murder; to take other men's goods by force, but not to robbery, &c. Are not wakes,

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »