« AnteriorContinuar »
there is less of a man here and more hereafter. For he hath less of stay and continuance in this world ; less of true judgment, and less of weal or woe.
The true Valuation of MAN.
LUKE xvi. 25. But Abraham said, son, remember that thou in thy life
time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, and thou art
tormented TN the respects before-mentioned, and others that 1 posibly might be fuperadded, it appears that
there is less of man in this world. But I may also adjoin by way of exception, some particulars to the contrary; for I must acknowledge, that in some respects, our being in this world is very considerable. I will instance in three particulars, .
1. In respect of man's possibility.
3. In respect of man's well-grounded faith and expectation. In these respects, a man's being in this world, is very considerable and highly valuable.
1. In respect of man's possibility ; for here we may lay a good foundation, upon which the happy
superstructure of glory hereafter, may be erected. For though the worst that can be faid, prove true ; that man is a bankrupt, and hath suffered shipwreck, is confounded in his principles, marred and spoiled by his apostacy, defection, degeneracy, and consenting to iniquity : admitting that he is perfectly contrary to the true complexion he was in, in the state that God made him, yet all this malady may be cured, and his condition is recoverable. Though he hath committed sin, it may be pardoned ; though he hath alienated himself from God, yet he may return, and God may receive him ; though he hath given God offence, yet God is reconcileable. That is a great saying of our Saviour, Mark ix. 23. All things are possible to him that believeth. This is true both in the active and passive sense : that is, if a man apply himself to God, and his mind be changed, it is possible that he may do all those acts that are necessary for his fafety and recovery, through the affistance of God's grace. That for the active sense. It is true also in the pasive sense. All things may be done for him, in him, or upon him : he may be brought out of a condition of enmity, to a state of friendship with God : all things are poffible to be done for him, in him, or upon him. And it is enough to make this out, that God is placable, and reconcileable ; and if this were not true, there could be no hope. If this were not known to men, there could be no place for repentance, nor could any man find any disposition in his heart, Godward. But all men are bound to think that God is placable and reconcileable ; he is not else the first
and chiefest goodness. So that, in repelt of man's possibility, his being in this world is very costerable, But,
2. In respect of man's oportunity, his being is very considerable ; and this is much more than a bare pofibility. If this were all that I could say to a man, that a thing is possible, it would be no great encouragement. But I can tell finners, that they have opportunity, and an opportunity is the nick of time. Take things in their season, and they will be easily done. Now we enjoy a day of grace, and a day of grace doth import opportunity. We are now under God's call and invitation. There is no man in the world, that hath the bible in his hard, or that hath heard any thing out of it, who hath any reason to doubt but that he is called of God What we read in the bible, we may build upon, and apply to ourselves, with as good assurance, as if God did dispatch an angel from heaven to us. We are in this day of grace, God's invited guests ; and we are all of us under the operation of the divine Spirit, and may depend upon the affistance of the divine grace. And for this, I offer to you that signal place, though our translation abate a little of the emphasis of it. Phil. ii. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. But in the Greek it is the participle wore king. The verb is verified by one single act : but the participle imports a continuation of action. That is, apply yourselves to God, and set yourselves about the business of your recovery, by acts of righ
teousness teousness, goodness, and truth ; and look not upon your own weakness, and indisposition ; for God is working in you, both to will, and to do, of his own good pleasure. Apply yourselves to God, and you will find him in motion ; and where God is, there is strength, and sufficiency, and any thing may be done through the divine aid ; and therefore we have encouragement, to be up and doing, according to the advice of the apostle, Eph. v. 14. Awake thou that seeepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. We are sure of God, by virtue of his promise : and this we may depend upon, that wheresoever God begins, he gives in some aid, and affistance ; which aid, though it be less than we may receive afterwards, yet it will enable a man to do something : and that God, who of his own motion, grace, and good will, begins with less ; yet he will go on with further assistance, and with this a man may do more : for it is certain, the failure will not be on God's part : and therefore if we have sufficiency or the act that God calls us unto, at present, and assurance of further assistance, as there shall be need ; we have encouragement, not only to engage us to begin, but to continue in those ways that tend to our recovery. Seek the Lord therefore while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near, as the prophet adviseth, Ifa. lv. 6. For there wants nothing but what lies on our part to perform, and that is our concurrence, our subserviency and consent. For it is irrational for us to think, that God having made us intelligent and vo« Juntary agents, that he should force and constrain
us ; and that he should not expect the use of those powers that he hath given us. And this is the 2d. Our being in the world is very considerable in respect of our opportunity.
3. Our being in the world is also considerable in respect of our assured hope and expectation which we may have in this probation-state. God's merciful declarations to us scatter all fears and jealoufies. God's gracious promises and invitations are a good ground for our expectation : and the scriptures are full on this account, Ezek. xviii. 23. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God : and not that he mould return from his way and live? We do observe, that these interrogations do most peremptorily deny. Have I any pleasure ? that is, I have no pleasure that the wicked should die. And so you have it expressed, v. 32. I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth : but my pleasure and delight is in this, that the wicked should return and live. And again, Ezek. xxxiii. 11. As I live, faith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the wicked turn from bis way and live. Here we have God's oath : As I live, faith the Lord; which is a word fit for him on: ly to use, who is the first cause and original of bea ing: but it is a word too big for the mouth of any creature. For our being is altogether arbitrary and dependent ; and therefore though this word is sometimes used among men ; if they did consider, they would not do it : For alas ! We are but as a vapour ; and if God withdraw himself, we presente ly fall into our first principles, and return unto the VOL. I.