תמונות בעמוד

pable of a good acquaintance with those things which do especially concern our interest. Doubtless God hath made man capable of discovering the truth in matters of religion, of coming to a good determination in these questions, whether the scriptures be the word of God, whether there be a future state, and the like. The resolution of these questions, which it so much concerns us to determine, is not above our capacities. God hath not set these things beyond the extent of our faculties.

So God hath made us capable of making a wise choice for ourselves, as to the life which we shall choose to lead. He hath given man so much understanding, as to make him capable of determining which is best; to lead a life of selfdenial and enjoy eternal happiness, or to take our swing in sinful enjoyments and burn in hell forever. The question is of no difficult determination. It is so far from being a matter too hard for our reason, that the reason of a child is sufficient to determine this matter. Therefore men in remaining undetermined in these matters, do not act as reasonable creatures, but make themselves like “the horse and the mule, which have no understanding,'' Psalm xxxii. 9.

3. God puts into our hands an happy opportunity to determine for ourselves. What better opportunity can a man deşire to consult his own interest, than to have liberty to choose his own portion ? God setteth life and death before us. Deut. XXX. 19. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing ; therefore choose life, that thou and thy seed after thee may

live.” See also Ezek. xviii. 31, 32, and chap. xxxiii. 11. What better opportunity can we desire for securing to ourselves the greatest good, than to have eternal life and unchangeable happiness set before us, and offered to our choice? Therefore those who neglect coming to a resolution, act unreasonably, because they stand so much in their own light, and miss so glorious an opportunity.

4. The things among which we are to make our choice are but few in number; there are but two portions set before

us, one of which must be our portion ; either life or death, either blessing or cursing ; either a life of universal and persevering obedience wita eternal glory; or a worldly, carnal, wicked life, with eternal misery. If there were many terms in the offer made us, many things of nearly an equal value, one of which we must choose, to remain long in suspense and undetermined would be more excusable; there would be more reason for long deliberation before we should fix. But there are but two terms, there are but two states in another world, in one or the other of which we must be fixed to all eternity.

And there are but two states in this world, a state of sin, and a state of holiness, a natural state, and a converted state. There is but one way in which we can come to life, which rendcrs the determination of reason much the easier. There are but two masters, to one of which we must be reputed the servants, Baal and Jehovah, God and mammon: There are but two competitors for the possession of us, Christ and the devil. There are but two paths, in one of which you are to travel, either in the strait and narrow way which leadeth anto life, or the broad way which leadeth unto destruction.

This shows the unreasonableness of those who live under light, and have the offers of the gospel made to them, and yet remain from year to year unfixed and undetermined, halting between two opinions.

5. God hath given us all needed helps to determine us. We have all needed helps to determine our understandings, as to the truth of the things of religion, as whether there be a God, whether the scriptures be the word of God, whether there be a future state, &c. We are not left in the dark as to these things, as the poor heathen are, who are under great disadvantages to come to the knowledge of the truth, though they be not under an impossibility, for they may haply feel after God and find him, Acts xvii, 27. But we have a clear sunshine to guide us, we have a particular description of those things which are set before us for truth, and have great opportunity to examine them. The scripture lies open before

us, and all the doctrines of the gospel are particularly set forth, with the reasons on which their evidence is founded. We may search and try their force and sufficiency, as we will.

We have great helps to a wise and rational determination in our choice ; to determine whether it be best for us to choose à life of sin or a life of holiness, the service of God or the ser vice of Baal. We have very plainly set before us the advantages of both sides; the loss and gain are particularly stated. Christ hath dealt by us faithfully, and hath told us what we shall get, and what we shall lose, by being his followers. He hath also told us what we shall get, and what we shall lose by a life of sin. He hath not dealt by us deceitfully. He hath not pretended greater advantages in godliness than there really are, nor greater disadvantages or dangers in sin, John xiv. 2. “ In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.'

He hath told us plainly that we must take up the cross daily and follow him; that we must hate father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, and our own life also, in order to become his disciples; and that we must cut off our right hands, and pluck out our right eyes, in order to enter into heaven. Thus we have a fair opportunity to count the cost on both sides, and are directed so to do; Luke xiv. 28. How unreasonable therefore is it for men who have all these helps and advantages, to remain in suspense, and to come to no conclusion whether they will be Christians or heathens, whether they will be for God or the devil; though they have lived under the preaching of the word and offers of the gospel for many years.

6. We have no reason to expect to be under better advantages to determine hereafter than we are now. We never shall have a clearer revelation of gospel truth; never shall have the advantages and disadvantages of both sides more plainly set before us, than they are already in the word of God ; nor are we ever like to be under better advantages to know what will be best for us, and most for our interest. Those therefore who delay, gain nothing by their de

lays, but give Satan more opportunity to darken their minds, to deceive them, and lead them astray in their choice. There fore their delay of coming to a resolution is unreasonable.

7. If they come not to a determination in this life, God will determine for them, and appoint them their portion with the wicked. If sinners, by refusing to choose either life or death, either heaven or hell, could thereby avoid both, or if in this case the matter would remain undetermined till they should determine it ; the folly and unreasonableness of delaying a determination would not be so great. But that is not the case ; if they go on halting between two opinions, God will determine for them, and that quickly ; he will determine where their portion shall be, viz, among the unbelievers, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone forever. God will not wait upon them always, to see what they will choose ; but he will put an issue to the matter by his unalterable sentence. Therefore it becomes all, if they are afraid to have their lot assigned them in hell, to come soon to a determination.

8, Delay in this case is unreasonable, because those who delay know not how soon the opportunity of choosing for themselves will be past. This opportunity will last no longer than life ; when once life is past, they will no more have the offer made them; the sentence will be past; the matter will be issued.

Those who delay their choice in this world will be glad to choose afterwards ; then they will not be at all at a loss which to choose ; they will be able easily to determine. The judgments of sinners who are departed this life, are soon resolved whether there be any truth in religion or not ; they can soon determine which is best and most eligible, a life of obedience and selfdenial, with heaven for a reward, or a life of irreligion and sin, with hell for a punishment. Now they no longer halt between two opinions ; but it is too late, their opportunity is past; they are ready too late. They would give all the world for another opportunity to choose ; they would then soon come to a determination. But it will not be granted them.


i. Let this put every one upon examining himself, whether or no he have ever yet come to a full determination in the affair of religion.

from your

First. Inquire whether or no you have ever yet come to a full determination with respect to the truth of the things of religion. Have you ever been fully convinced ? Is it a question which has been answered and determined with you, whether there be a future state ; or does it yet remain a question with you unresolved? Are you not yet to seek whether there be any future state, and whether or no the story about Jesus Christ be any more than a fable? Here I desire you to note two things.

1. If the main reason why you assent to the truth of religion be that others believe so, and you have been so instructed

childhood ; you are of those with whom the truth of religion yet remains undetermined. Tradition and education will never fix and settle the mind in a satisfactory and effectual belief of the truth of religion. Though men, taking religion upon trust, may seem to give a fuli assent to the truth of religion, and not to call it in question; yet such a faith will not stand a shock; a temptation easily overthrows it: The reason of man, in time of trial, will not rest on so poor evidence as that.

There are multitudes who seem to grant the truth of relig. ion, with whom he main foundation of their faith is the tradi. tion of their fathers, or the profession of their neighbors ; it is to be feared, it is so with many who count themselves good Christians. But as to all such persons as never have seen any other evidence to satisfy them, either of the truth or falsehood of religion, they are thcy that halt between two opinions. The same may be said of those who are unstable in

Vol. VII,

3 G

« הקודםהמשך »