« הקודםהמשך »
distrusted: njeared, and will and true °79,
If he be good, and infinitely good, there is all the reason in the world that you should love him; and there is no show of reason, that you should love the world, or sin, before him. If he be faithful and true, his threatenings must be feared, and his promises must not be distrusted: and there is no reason that you should make any question of his word. If he be holy, then holiness must needs be most excellent, and those that are the holiest must needs be the best, because they are most like to God; and then he must be an enemy to sin, and to all that are unholy, because they are contrary to his nature. Consider that he is almighty, and there is no resisting him, or standing out against him; in the twinkling of an eye can he snatch thy guilty soul from thy body, and cast it where sin is better known. A word of his mouth can set all the world against thee; and set thine own conscience against thee too. A frown of his face can turn thee into hell. And if he be thine enemy, it is no matter who is thy friend; for all the world cannot save thee, if he do but condemn thee. They are blessed whom he blesseth, and they are cursed indeed whom he curseth. He was from eternity, and thou art but as it were of yesterday; thy being is from him; thy life is always in his hands; thou canst not live an hour without him, thou canst not fetch a breath without him; nor think a thought, nor speak a word, nor stir a foot or hand, without him: thou mayest better live without bread, or drink, or fire, or air, or earth, or water, than without him. All the world is, before him, but as the drop of a bucket, or a little sand or dust, that should be laid in balance with all the earth. Hadst thou but compassed about this lower world, and seen all the nations of it, and its wonderful furniture, and seen the great depths of the mighty ocean, and the abundance of creatures that be in all; ( what thoughts then wouldst thou have of God! But if thou hadst been above the stars, and seen the sun in all its glory, and seen the frame and course of those higher orbs, and seen the blessed glorious angels, and all the inbabitants of the higher world, O then what thoughts of God wouldst thou entertain! O but if it were possible that thou hadst seen his glory, or seen but his backs parts, as Moses did, or seen bin in Christ, the now glorified Redeemer, what apprehensions wouldst thou have of him then! Then how wouldst thou abhor the name of sin; and how weary wouldst thou be of the pleasantest life that sensuality could afford thee! Then thou wouldst quickly know, that no love can be great enough, and no praise can be high enough, and no service can be holy and good enough, for such a God; then you would soon know, that this is not a God to be neglected, or dallied with; nor a God to be resisted, nor provoked by the wilful breaking of his laws. It is eternal life to know this God; and for want of knowing him, it is that sin aboundeth in the world. This maketh holiness so scarce and lean: Men worship they care not how, because they worship they know hot whom. Otherefore dwell on the meditations of the Almighty. So far as he doth possess thy mind, there will be no place for sin and vanity.–One would think, if I should set you no farther task, and tell you of no other matter for your meditation, this one should be enough; for this one is in a manner all. What will not the due knowledge of God do upon the soul? That is the best Christian, and the most happy man, that knoweth inost of him; and that is the most vile and miserable wretch that is furthest from him, and strangest to him: it is the character of the fool of fools to have a heart whose disposition and practice saith, there is no God,(c) that is, to be so affected and employed in their hearts, as if there were no God; and when God is not in all their thoughts. It was better with man, when he had less knowledge of biunself, and fewer thoughts for himself, and more of God. And there is no way to restoré us to sound understanding, and to perfect our knowledge, but to turn our eye upon God again; for in knowing him, we know all that is worth the kuowing. Take hold then of the blessed
God in thy meditations, and fill thy thoughts with him, and dwell upon those thoughts. Remember he is always with thee; and wherever thou art, or whatever thou art doing, most certainly he seeth thee.As sure as thou art there, the Lord is there. He knows thy thoughts; he hears thy words, he sees all thy ways. And is such a God as this is, to be provoked and despised? Were it not better to provoke and despise all the world? Is his favour to be slighted? Were it not better to lose the favour of all the world? Consider of this.
2. Another thing that I would have you often think of, is, what end you were made for, and what business it is that you came for into the world. You may well think that God made you not in vain : and that he made you for no lower end, than for himself; and that he would never have made, nor so long preserved you, if he had not cared what you do. He would never have endued you with a reasonable and immortal soul, but for some high, and noble, and immortal end. Surely it was, that you might be happy in knowing him, that he inade you capable of knowing him; for he made nothing in vain. It is useful to a horse to know his pasture, and provender, and work, and perhaps his master; but he needs not know whether there be a God: and accordingly he is qualified. But it is sure man's chief concernment to know that there is a God, and what he is, and how to serve him, and what he is and will be to us; or else we should never have been capable of such things. And he would never have made you capable of loving him, but that you should be exercised and inade happy in that love. The frame, and faculties, and capacity, of your souls, and the scope of scripture, do all declare, that you were sent into this world to seek after God, and to love him, and obey hin, and rejoice in him, in your measure; and to prepare for a life of pearer communion, where you may enjoy him and please him in the highest perfection. Consider with yourselves, whether a life of sin be that which you were made for? Or whether God sent you hither to break his laws, and follow your own lusts? And whether the satisfying of your flesh, and the gathering of a little worldly wealth, and the feathering of a nest which you must so quickly leave, be like to be the business that you were sent about into the world?
3. The next thing that I would have you consider of, is, how you have answered the ends of your crea. tion, and how you have done the business that you came into the world to do. Look back upon the drift of your hearts and lives; read over the most ancient records of your consciences; and see what you have been, and what you have been doing in the world till now.-Have you spent your days in seeking after God? and your estates and strength in faithfully serving him? Have you lived all this time in the admiration of his excellencies, and the fervent love of him, and delightful remembrance of him, and the zealous worship of him? If you had done this, you had not need of a conversion. But consider; have you not forgotten what business you had in the world, and little minded the world that you should have prepared for, and lived as if you knew not him that made you, or why he made you? Was sport and merriment the end that you were created for? Was ease and idleness, or eating or drinking, or vain discourses, or recreation, the business that you came into the world about? Was living to the flesh, and scraping up riches, or gaping after the esteem of men, the work that God sent you hither to do? Was this it that he preserved you for, and daily gave you in provision for? What, was it to forget him, and slight him, and turn him out of your hearts, and rob him of his service and honour; and set up your flesh in his stead, and give that to it that was due to him? Bethink you what you have done, and whether you have done the work that you were sent to do, or not.
4. The next thing you should use to consider of, is, how grievously you have sinned, and what a case it is that your sin hath brought you into. If you take but an impartial view of your lives, you may see how far
that God sent for, and daily gave hight him, and
you have missed your marks, and how far you have been from what you should have been, and how little you have done of that which was your business; and O what abundance of aggravations have your sins! (which I shall pass over now, because I must mention them under another head. It is not only some actual out-breakings against the bent of your heart and life; but your very heart was false, and gone from God, and set in you to do evil.
O the time that you have lost; the means and help that you have neglected; the motions that you have resisted; and swarms of evil thoughts that have filled your imaginations; the streams of vain and evil words that have flowed from your mouth; the works of darkness, in public and in secret, that God hath seen you in! And all this while, how empty were you in inward holiness, and how barren of good works, to God or men? What have you done with all your talents! and how little or nothing hath God had of all!
And now consider what a case you are in, while you remain unconverted: you have made yourselves the sinks of sin, the slaves of Satan, and the flesh; and are skilful in nothing but doing evil; if you be called to prayer or holy meditation, your hearts are against it, and you are not used to it, and therefore you know not how to do it to any purpose; but to think the thoughts of lust or covetousness, or hatred or malice, or re- » venge, this you can do without any toil; to speak of the world, or of your sports and pleasures, or against those that you bear ill will to, this you can do without any study: you are such as are spoken of, My people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.(d) You are grown strangers to the God that made you, in whose love and service you should live and find your chief delights. Your hearts are hardened, and you are
(d) Jer. iv. 22.