« הקודםהמשך »
of your death, will they either answer or relieve you? Will they go along with you to the other world, and bribe the Judge, and bring you off clear, or purchase you a place among the blessed? Why then did the rich man want a drop of water to cool his tongue? Or, are the sweet morsels of present delight and honour of more worth than eternal rest? And will they recompense the loss of that enduring treasure? Can there be the least hope of any of these? Ah, vile deceitful world! how oft have we heard thy most faithful servants at last complaining; “Oh, the world hath deceived me, and undone me! It flattered me in my prosperity, but now it turns me off in my necessity: If I had as faithfully served Christ, as I have served it, he would not have left me thus comfortless and hopeless.” Thus they complain; and yet succeeding sinners will take no warning.
3. As for the profane multitude, they will not be persuaded to be at so much pains for salvation, as to perform the common outward duties of religion, If they have the gospel preached in the town where they dwell, it may be they will give the hearing to it one part of the day, and stay at home the other; o if the master come to the congregation, yet parto his family must stay at home. If they want the plain and powerful preaching of the gospel, how few art there in a whole town who will travel a mile or two to hear abroad; though they will go many miles to the market for provisions for their bodies! They know the scripture is the law of God, by which they must be acquitted or condemned in judgment; and u the man is blessed who delights in the law of t Lord, and in his law doth meditate day and night yet will they pot be at pains to read a chapter once. day. If they carry a bible to church, and neglect. all the week, this is the most use they make of
ke of it. Though they are commanded to pray without ceasing, and to pray always; yet they will neither pray Cou; stantly in their families, nor in secret. Though Da would rather be cast to the lions, than forbear prayı. three times a day in his house, where his enem
would our Lor
might hear hiin; yet these men will rather venture to be an eternal prey to Satan, the roaring lion, than thus seek their own safety. Or their cold and heartless prayers invite God to a denial: for among men it is taken for granted, that he who asks but slightly and seldom, cares not much for what he asks. They judge themselves unworthy of heaven, who think it is not worth their more constant and earnest requests. If every door was marked, where families do not morning and eveving earnestly seek the Lord in prayer, that his wrath might be poured out upon such prayerless families, our towns would be as places overthrown by the plague, the people being dead within, and the mark of judgment without. I fear, where one house would escape, ten would be marked out for death; and then they might teach their doors to pray, “Lord have mercy upon us,” because the people would not pray themselves. But especially if he could see what men do in their secret chambers, how few would you find in a whole town that spend one quarter of an hour, morning and night, in earnest supplication to God for their souls! O how little do these men set by eternal rest! Thus do they slothfully neglect all endeavours for their own welfare, except some public duty in the congregation, which custom or credit engages them to. Persuade them to read good books, learn the grounds of religion in their catechism, and sanctify the Lord's day in prayer, and meditation, and hearing the word, and forbearing all worldly thoughts and speeches; and what a tedious life do they take this to be! as if they thought heaven were not worth doing so much for.
§ 4. Another sort are formal professors, who will be brought to an outward duty; but to the inward work of religion they will never be persuaded. They will preach, or hear, or read, or talk of heaven, or pray in their families, and take part with the persons or causes that are good, and desire to be esteemed among the godly: but you can never bring them to the more spiritual duties; as, to be constant and fer
04. Andoing so much foney thought he
vent in secret prayer and meditation; conscientious in self-examination; heavenly-minded; to watch over their hearts, words, and ways; to mortify the flesh, and not make provision to fulfil its lusts; to love and heartily forgive an enemy, and prefer their brethren before themselves; to lay all they have, or do, at the feet of Christ, and prize his service and favour before all; to prepare to die, and willingly leave all to go to Christ. Hypocrites will never be persuaded to any of these.-If any hypocrite entertains the gospel with joy, it is only in the surface of his soul; he never gives the seed any depth of earth: it changes his opinion, but never melts and new-moulds his heart, nor sets up Christ there in full power and authority. As his religion lies most in opinion, so does his chief business and conversation. He is usually an ignorant, bold, conceited dealer in controversies; ra. ther than an humble embracer of known truth, with love and obedience. By his slighting the judgments and persons of others, and seldom talking with seriousness and humility of the great things of Christ, he shows his religion dwells in the brain, and not in his heart. The wind of temptation carries them away as a feather, because his heart is not established with Christ and grace. He never in private conversation humbly bewails his soul's imperfections, or tenderly acknowledge his unkindness to Christ; but gathers his greatest comforts from his being of such a judgment of party.--The like may be said of the worldly hypocrite, who chokes the gospel with the thorns of worldly cares and desires. He is convinced that he must be religious, or he cannot be saved; and there fore he reads and hears, and prays, and forsakes his former company and courses; but he resolves to keep his hold of present things. His judgment may say, God is the chief good; but his heart and affections never said so. The world hath more of his affections than God, and therefore it is his god. Though he does not run after opinions and novelties, like the former, yet he will be of that opinion which will best serve his worldly advantage. And as one whose spirits are enfeebled by some pestilential disease; so this man's spirits being possessed by the plague of a worldly dis. position, how feeble is he in secret prayer! how superficial in examination and meditation! how poor in heart-watchings! how nothing at all in loving and walking with God, rejoicing in him, or desiring him ! -So that both these, and many other sorts of hypocrites, though they will go with you in the easy outside of religion, yet will never be at the pains of inward and spiritual duties.
5. And even the godly themselves are too lazy seekers of their everlasting rest. Alas! what a disproportion is there between our light and heat! our profession and prosecution! Who makes that haste, as if it were for heaven? How still we stand! how idly we work! how we talk, and jest, and trifle away our time! how deceitfully we perform the work of God! how we hear, as if we heard not! and pray, as if we prayed not! and examine, and me. ditate, and reprove sin, as if we did not! and enjoy Christ, as if we enjoyed him not! as if we had learned to use the things of heaven, as the apostle teacheth us to use the things of the world! What a frozen stupidity has benumbed us! we are dying, and we know it, and yet we stir not; we are at the door of eternal happiness or misery, and yet we perceive it pot; death knocks, and we hear it not; God and Christ call and cry to us, “ To-day, if ye will hear my voice, harden not your hearts: work while it is day, for the night cometh when none can Work: now ply your business, labour for your lives, lay out all your strength and time; now or never!” and yet we stir no more than if we were half asleep. What haste do death and judgment make! how fast do they come on! they are almost at us, and yet what little haste we make! Lord, what a senseless, earthly, hellish thing, is a hard heart! Where is the man that is in earnest a Christian! Methinks men every-where make but a trifle of their eternal state. I were not
these comh! with wease, with
They look after it but a little by the bye; they do not make it the business of their lives. If I were not sick myself of the same disease, with what tears should I mix this ink! with what groaus should I express these complaints! and with what heart-grief should I mourn over this universal deadness!
§ 6. Do magistrates among us seriously perform their work ? are they zealous for God ? do they build up his house? are they tender of his honour? do they second the word? and fly in the face of sio and sinners, as the disturbers of our peace, and the only cause of all our miseries? Do they improve all their power, wealth, and honour, and all their influence, for the greatest advantage to the kingdom of Christ, as men that must shortly give an account of their stewardship?
$ 7. How thin are those ministers that are serious in their work! nay, how mightily do the very best fail in this! Do we cry out of men's disobedience to the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit, and deal with sin as the destroying fire in our towns, and by force pull men out of it? Do we persuade people, as those should that know the terrors of the Lord? Do we press Christ, and regeneration, and faith, and holiness, believing that, without these, men can never have life? Do our bowels yearn over the ignorant, careless, and obstinate multitude? When we look them in the face, do our hearts melt over them, lest we should never see their faces in rest? Do we, as Paul, tell them, weeping, of their fleshly and earthly disposition ? and teach them publicly, and from house to house, at all seasons and with many tears ? and do we entreat them, as for their soul's salvation? Or rather, do we not study to gain the approbation of critical hearers; as if a minister's business were of no more weight but to tell a sinooth tale for an hour, and look no more after the people to the next sermon? Does not carnal prudence control our fervour, and make our discourses lifeless, on subjects the most piercing?