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and not living according to the Commands of Christ : What will a Man say in his own Behalf, to wipe off the Blame of not praying continually; of not recounting the Mercies and Favours of God to him; and not studying and imitating the Example of our Lord Jesus, in his heavenly Mindedness, Dependance on God, Contempt of Riches, Sobriety, Mercifulness, Meekness, and all other Virtues, which will contribute, I have shewn you, so much to his Satisfaction
; and not only please God but himself too ? Will he say that he knew none of these Things? That he cannot, because they are revealed : Will he say that he could not understand them? That’s false, for they are clearly revealed, and continually inculcated in our Serinons and Discourses to you : Will he say that he had no Time to consider of the Things that were pressed upon him; nor could find so much Leisure as to pray seriously to God to take an Account of hiinself, to examine his Heart and Life, to reckon up the Benefits he hath received, &c. This is as unjust a Pretence as either of the former ; for I have demonstrated that you inay be contented with less of the Things of this Life, the inordinate Desireand Loveof which, drowns Mens Souls in Perdition and Destruction. You have Leisure for unnecessary Things, and therefore cannot want it for this one thing needful, which is the learning of God's Will, and the doing of it. You can labour for more than you really want of the Goods of this present World; and therefore what hinders you, but only an unprofitable Labour, from
feeking after that which you most want, the Knowledge of God, and everlasting Salvation? You can have so much Faith, or rather Infidelity, as to toil and sweat for those Things which God never promised you; why will you not have so much Faith, as to take Pains for those Things which he will certainly give you? Will it hinder
you in all your other Labours, so that you shall not be able to provide your felves Necessaries? How justly then inight the Israelites have excused themselves with this Pretence, when God bid them go three Times in a Year to Jeru. salem, (which was many Miles from foine of their Dwellings) and there spend seven Days at the Passover, as many at the Feast of Tabernacles, and one Day at the Feast of Weeks? Might not they have said, it will undo us to lose seven Days Work together, besides the Time that must be spent in going from our own Houses to the House of God, and returning back again? Who can live if he be constantly put to such great Charges, together with his Time of offering so inany Sacrifices; and yet you see that pious People, tho' poor and low in the World, did not plead this at all, but Joseph and Mary (who were Persons of a mean Condition, it appears by their Oblation) went every Year to the Feast of the Passover, Luke 2. 41. tho' they lived in Galilee, which was the remotest Part of the Country from the holy City, and did he suffer any to fare the worse for this? Did he not promise them that he would suppress the Desires of their Enemies after their Land, when all the Men
were gone up to worship at the Temple ? And
this is the Condition of so many Souls, that it cannot but move ones Heart to condole the lamentable Loss of such Numbers; for tho fome are so poor,
that they are tempted by Hunger to barter away their precious Time, as Efau
did his Birthright, for Bread and Broth; yet the greatest Part of Men as an excellent Poet of our own expresses it) make such Bargains as Thamar did with Judah, instead of a Kid, the necessary Provision of humane Life, tliey are content to part with this Birthright, their precious Time, for Rings and Bracelets, the mere Ornaments of Life; and the other need not be fuch Slaves, as not to be at Liberty to think of God, even when they think how to live.
There are none so poor but they will find Time now and then, for some Sport and Recreation or other ; and cannot they pray as heartily to God, as they importune and beg Relief of their rich Neighbours ? Cannot they be truly thankful to God, and to others, when they receive an Alms? Cannot they be just when they desire Mercy ? Doth not their very Condition teach them Temperance and Humility? Are not their Hearts set towards Heaven and eternal Possessions with our Saviour, by being deprived of Riches and Revenues on Earth? Is it not as easy to look up to the Father of Mercies, as to cast their Eyes on a charitable Person? May not their Sins be bewailed with as much Ease, as their miserable Condition ? And I befeech you, what serve such Days of Grace as this for? Have you no Time at this present to consider the State of your Souls, or to think of what we say unto you? Cannot you imploy this Time, which is fet apart for chat Purpose, in taking their Condition to Heart, and casting in your serious Thoughts how to make them better? Must the World and your Pleasures ingross this Seafon
likewise to themselves ? What Necessity can you thew for that?
Is the Countryman able to give any Reason, why, when he goes from these holy Assemblies, where he meets with God and our Saviour, he must needs fall immediately into a Discourse about his Cattle, or his Ground, or the Price of Corn, or any thing of that Nature ? Cannot he as well think a while how to get to Heaven, and how to encrease in the Knowledge and Love of God, and to bring himself to a Resolution never to neglect any Part of his Service ? And why must others presently divert their Thoughts to their Shops, and to their Trades; or to the News of the Town; or to the Designs they have laid the next Day for their Pleasures and delightful Entertainments ? Is it not sufficient to enjoy them in their proper Season, but we must rob God and our Souls, to possess our Minds with unnecessary Thoughts about them? Why cannot we as well endeavour to digest fome wholsome Counsel which hath been given us? Why cannot we spend a little of the Remainder of this Day to settle a pious Resolution, which we have conceived? Is it such a mighty Difficulty to fall upon our Knees, when we coine at home, or in the Conclusion of this Day, and befeech God to imprint in our Minds all good Instructions, and assist us with his Grace to perform our Christian Duties, in the Places and Relation in which he hath fet us? Is it such a severe Labour, that we should be weary to meditate how many Ways God hath blessed