תמונות בעמוד

15. But to persuade thee, if possible, Reader, to be serious in thine endeavours for heaven, let me add more considerations. As for instance, consider, God is in earnest with you; and why should you not be so with him? In his commands, his threatenings, his proinises, he means as he speaks. In his judgments he is serious. Was he not so when he drowned the world? when he consumed Sodom and Gomorrah ? and when he scattered the Jews? Is it time then to trifle with God? Jesus Christ was serious in purchasing our redemption. In teaching, he neglected his meat and drink: in prayer he continued all night: in doing good, his friends thought him beside himself: in suffering, he fasted forty days, was tempted, betrayed, spit upon, buffeted, crowned with thorns, sweat drops of blood, was crucified, pierced, died. There was no jesting in all this. And should we not be serious in seeking our own salvation ?– The Holy Spirit is serious in soliciting us to be happy. His motions are frequent, pressing, and importunate. He striveth with us. He is grieved when we resist him. And should we not be serious then in obeying, and yielding to his motions ?-God is serious in hearing our prayers, and bestowing his mercies. He is afflicted with us. He regardeth every groan and sigh, and puts every tear into his bottle. The next time thou art in trouble, thou wilt beg for a serious regard of thy prayers. And shall we expect real mercies, when we are slight and superficial in the work of God? The ministers of Christ are serious in exhorting and instructing you. They beg of God, and of you; and long more for the salvation of your souls, than for any worldly good. If they kill themselves with their labour, or suffer martyrdom for preaching the gospel, they think their lives are well bestowed, so that they prevail for the saving of your souls. And shall other men be so painful and careful for your salvation, and you be so careless and negligent of your own?-How diligent and serious are, all the creatures in serving you! What haste makes

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the sun to compass the world! The fountains are always flowing for thy use; the rivers still running; spring and harvest keep their times. How hard does thy ox labour for thee from day to day! How speedily does thy horse travel with thee! And shalt thou only be negligent? Shall all these be so serious in serving thee, and thou so careless in thy service to God? The servants of the world and the devil are serious and diligent. They work as if they could never do enough. They make haste, as if afraid of coming to hell too late. They bear down ministers, sermons, and all, before them. And shall they be more diligent for damnation, than thou for salvation? Hast thou not a better master, sweeter employment, greater encouragements, and a better reward ?-Time was, when thou wast serious thyself in serving Satan and the flesh, if it be not so yet. How eagerly didst thou follow thy sports, thy evil company, and sinful delights! And wilt thou not now be as earnest and violent for God? You are to this day in earnest about the things of this life. If you are sick, or in pain, what serious complaints do you utter! If you are poor, how hard do you labour for a livelihood! And is not the business of your salvation of far greater moment? There is no jesting in heaven or hell. The saints have a real happiness, and the damned a real misery. There are no remiss or sleepy praises in heaven, nor such lamentations in hell. All there are in earnest. When thou, Reader, shalt come to death and judgment, О what deep heart-piercing thoughts wilt thou have of eternity! Methinks I foresee thee already astonished to think how thou couldest possibly make so light of these things. Methinks ! even hear thee crying out of thy stupidity and madness.

16. And now, Reader, having laid down these undeniable arguments, I do, in the name of God, demand thy resolution: Wilt thou yield obedience, or not? I am confident thy conscience is convinced of thy duty.-Darest thou now go on in thy common, careless course, against the plain evidence of reason and commands of God, and against the light of thy own conscience ?-Darest thou live as loosely, sin as boldly, and pray as seldom, as before? Darest thou profane the sabbath, slight the service of God, and think of thine everlasting state, as carelessly as before? Or dost thou not rather resolve to gird up the loins of thy mind, and set thyself wholly to the work of thy salvation, and break through the oppositions, and slight the scoffs and persecutions, of the world, and lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset thee, and run with patience the race that is set before thee? I hope these are thy full resolutions. Yet, because I know the obstinacy of the heart of man, and because I am solicitous thy soul might live, I once more entreat thy attention to the following questions; and I coinmand thee from God, that thou stiffe not thy conscience, nor resist conviction; but answer them faithfully, and obey accordingly.--Li, by being diligent in godliness, you could grow rich, get honour or preferinent in the world, be recovered from sickness, or live for ever in prosperity on earth; what lives would you lead, and what pains would you take in the service of God? And is not the saint's rest a more excellent happiness than all this?--If it were felony to break the sabbath, neglect secret or family worship, or be loose in your lives; what manner of persous would you then be? And is not eternal death more terrible than temporal ?--If God usually punished with some present judgment every act of sin, as he did the lie of Ananias and Sapphira ; what kind of lives would you lead? And is not eternal wrath far more terrible?-If one of your acquaintance should come from the dead, and tell you that he suffered the torments of hell for those sins you are guilty of; what manner of persons would you be afterwards? How much more should the warnings of God affright you :-If you knew that this were the last day you had to live in the world, how would you spend it? And you know not but it

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may be your last, and are sure your last is near. If you had seen the general dissolution of the world, and all the pomp and glory of it consumed to ashes; what would such a sight persuade thee to do? Such a sight you shall certainly see.-If you had seen the judgment-seat, and the books opened, and the wicked stand trembling on the left hand of the judge, and the godly rejoicing on their right hand, and their different sentences pronounced; what persons would you have been after such a sight? This sight you shall one day surely see. If you had seen hell open, and all the damned there in their easeless torments; also heaven opened, as Stephen did, and all the saints there triumphing in glory; what a life would you lead after such sights! These you will see before it be long.-If you had laid in hell but one year, or one day, or hour, and there felt the torments you now hear of; how seriously would you then speak of hell, and pray against it! And will you not take God's word for the truth of this, except you feel it? Or if you had possessed the glory of heaven but one year; what pains would you take, rather than be deprived of such incomparable glory!—Thus I have said enough, if not to stir up the sinner to a serious working out his salvation, yet at least to silence him, and leave him inexcusable at the judgment of God: only as we do by our friends when they are dead, and our words and actions can do them no good, yet to testify our affection for them we weep and mourn; so will I also do for these unhappy souls.-It makes my heart tremble, to think how they will stand before the Lord, confounded and speechless! when he shall say, “ Was the world, or Satan, a better friend to you than I? or had they done for you more than I had done? Try now whether they will save you, or recompense you for the. loss of heaven, or be as good to you as I would have been.” What will the wretched sinner answer to any of this? But though man will not hear, we may hope in speaking to God. “ O thou that didst weep and groan in spirit over a dead Lazarus, pity these dead and senseless souls, till they are able to weep and groan in pity to themselves! As thou hast bid thy servant speak, so speak now thyself; they will hear thy voice speaking to their hearts, who will not hear mine speaking to their ears. Lord, thou hast long knocked at these hearts in vain; now break the doors, and enter in !"

17. Yet to show the godly why they, above all men, should be laborious for heaven, I desire to ask them, What manner of persons should those be, whom God hath chosen to be vessels of mercy? who have felt the smart of their negligence in their new birth, in their troubles of conscience, in their doubts and fears, and in other sharp afflictions? who have often confessed their sins of negligence to God in prayer? who have bound themselves to God by so many covenants? What manner of persons should they be, who are near to God as the children of his family? who have tasted such sweetness in diligent obedience? who are many of them so uncertain what shall everlastingly become of their souls? What manner of persons should they be in holiness, whose sanctification is so imperfect? whose lives and duties are so important to the saving or destroying a mul. titude of souls? and on whom the glory of the great God so much depends?—Since these things are so, I charge thee, Christian, in thy Master's name, to consider and resolve the question- What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? And let thy life answer the question as well as thy tongue.

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