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with another biter, what manpears, would
but hear of, and God should turn you into the world again, and try you with another life-time, and say, “I will see whether thou wilt be yet any better, what manner of persons would you be?'. If you were to live a thousand years, would you not gladly live as strictly as the precisest saints, and spend all those years in prayer and duty, so you might but escape the torment which you suffered? How seriously then would you speak of hell, and pray against it, and hear, and read, and watch, and obey ! How earnestly would you admonish the careless to take heed, and look about them to prevent their ruin! And will not you, take God's word for the truth of this, except you feel it? Is it not your wisdom to do as much now to prevent it, as you would do to remove it when it is too late? Is it not more wisdom to spend this life in labouring for heaven, while ye have it, than to lie in torment, wishing for more time in vain ?
Quest. 10. What, if you had been possessed but one year of the glory of heaven, and there joined with the saints and angels in the beholding of God, and singing his praise, and afterwards should be turned into the world again, what a life would you lead; what pains would you take rather than to be deprived of such incomparable glory! Would you think any cost too great, or diligence too much? If one of those that are now in heaven, should come to live on the earth again, what persons would they be; what a stir would they make; how seriously would they drive on the business of their salvation! The country would ring of their exceeding holy and strict conversations. They would as far excel the holiest persons on earth, as they excel the careless world. Before they would lose that blessed estate, they would follow God with cries both day and night, and throw away all, and suffer every day a death. And should not we do as much to obtain it ?
Sect. XXV. And thus I have said enough, if not to stir up the lazy sinner to a serious working out his salvation, yet at least to silence him, and leave him inexcusable at the judgment of God. If thou canst, after the reading of all this, go on in the same neglect of God and thy soul, and draw out the rest of thy life in the same dull and careless course, as thou hast hitherto done; and if thou hast so far conquered and stupified thy conscience, that it will quietly suffer thee to forget all this, and to trifle out the rest of thy time in the business of the world, when in the mean while thy salvation is in danger, and the Judge is at the door, I have then no more to say to thee: it is as
before themble to deplorable and mo
good to speak to a post or a rock. 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 affections we weep and mourn for them; so will I also do for these deplorable souls. It makes my heart sad, and even tremble to think, how they will stand, sad and trembling, before the Lord ! and how confounded and speechless they will be, when Christ shall reason with them concerning their negligence and sloth! when he shall say, as the Lord doth in Jer. ii. 5, 9, 11, 15, “What iniquity have your fathers (or you) found in me, that ye are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity ?” &c. Did I ever wrong you, or do you any harm, or ever discourage you from following my service: was my way so bad that you could not endure it; or my service so base that you could not stoop to it: did I stoop to the fulfilling of the law for you, and could not you stoop to the fulfilling of the easy conditions of my Gospel : was the world or Satan a better friend to you than I; or have they done for you more than I have? Try now whether they will save you, or whether they will recompense you for the loss of heaven, or whether they will be as good to you as I would have been ; 0, what will the wretched sinner answer to any of this! But though man will not hear, yet we may have hope in speaking to God. Lord, smite these rocks till they gush forth waters : though these ears are deaf, say to them, 'Ephatha,' Be opened : though these sinners be dead, let that power speak, which sometime said, “ Lazarus, arise !” We know they will be awakened at the last resurrection : Oh! but then it will be only to their sorrow. O, thou that didst weep and groan in spirit over a dead Lazarus, pity these sad and senseless souls till they are able to weep, and groan for, and pity themselves. As thou hast bid thy servants speak, so speak now thyself; they will hear thy voice speaking to their hearts, that will not hear mine speaking to their ears. Long hast thou knocked at these hearts in vain, now break the doors, and enter in, and pass by all their long resistance.
Sect. XXVI. Yet I will add a few more words to the godly in special, to show them why they, above all men, should be laborious for heaven; and that there is a great deal of reason, that though all the world besides do sit still, and be careless, yet they should abhor that laziness and negligence, and should lay out all their strength on the work of God. To this end, I desire them also to answer soberly to these few interrogatories. Quest. 1. What manner of persons should those be, whom God hath chošen out to be vessels of mercy, and hath given them the very cream and quintessence of his blessings, when the rest of the world are passed by, and put off with common, and temporal, and left-hand mercies ? They who have the blood of Christ given them, and the Spirit for sanctification, consolation, and preservation, and the pardon of sins, and adoption to sonship, and the guard of angels, and the mediation of the Son of God, and the special love of the Father, and the promise and seal of everlasting rest ! Do but tell me in good sadness, what kind of lives these men should live?
Quest. 2. What manner of persons should those be, who have felt the smart of their negligence so much as the godly have done? In the new birth, in their several wounds and trouble of conscience, in their doubts and fears, in their sharp afflictions on body and state : they that have groaned and cried out so oft, under the sense and effects of their negligence, and are likely enough to feel it again, if they do not reform it, surely, one would think they should be slothful no more.
Quest. 3. What manner of persons should those be in holy diligence, who have been so long convinced of the evil of laziness; and have confessed it on their knees, a hundred and a hundred times, both in public and in private ; and have told God in prayer how inexcusably they have therein offerided ; should they thus confess their sin, and yet commit it, as if they told God what they would do, as well as what they have done ?
Quest. 4. What manner of persons should those be in painful godliness, who have bound themselves to God by so many covenants as we have done, and in special have covenanted so oft to be more painful and faithful in his service at every sacrament; on many days of humiliation and thanksgiving ; in most of our deep distresses and dangerous sicknesses ? We are still ready to bewail our neglects, and to engage ourselves, if God will but try us and trust once again, how diligent and laborious we will be, and how we will improve our time, and reprove offenders, and watch over ourselves, and ply our work; and do him more service in a day than we did in a month. The Lord pardon our perfidious covenant-breaking; and grant that our engagements may not condemn us.
Quest. 5. What manner of persons should they be, who are so near to God as we, who are his children, in his family, still under his eye; the objects of his greatest jealousy, as well as love ? Nadab and Abihu can tell you, that the flames of jealousy are hottest about his altar: (Lev. . 1,2 :) and Uzza, and the “fifty thousand and seventy Bethshemites, (1 Sam. vi. 19,) though dead, do yet tell you, that justice, as well as mercy, is most active about the ark. And Ananias and his wife can tell you, that profession is no cover for transgression. (Acts v. 4,5. &c.) Judgment beginneth at the house of God: (1 Pet. iv. 17:) and the destroying angel doth begin at the sanctuary. (Ezek. ix. 5, 6.)
Quest. 6. What manner of men should they be in duty, who have received so much encouragement, as we have done by our success? Who have tasted such sweetness in diligent obedience, as doth much more than countervail all the pains ; who have so often had experience of the wide difference between lazy and laborious duty, by their different issues; who have found all our lazy duties unfruitful, and all our strivings and wrestlings with God successful, so that we were never importunate with God in vain. We who have had so many admirable national and personal deliverances upon urgent seeking; and have received almost all our solid comforts in a way of close and constant duty : how should we, above all men, ply our work!
Quest. 7. What manner of men should they be, who are yet at such great uncertainties, whether they are sanctified or justified, or whether they are the children of God or not; or what shall everlastingly become of their souls, as most of the godly that I meet with are? They that have discovered the excellency of the kingdom, and yet have not discovered their interest in it, but discern a danger of perishing or losing all, and have need of that advice, Heb. iv. I, and have so many doubts to wrestle with daily as we have : how should such men bestir themselves in time! :
Quest. 8. What manner of persons should they be in holiness, who have so much of the great work yet undone as we have ;so many sins in so great a strength ; graces weak, sanctification imperfect, corruption still working our ruin, and taking advantage of all our omissions ? When we are as a boatman on the water, let him row ever so hard a month together, yet if he do but slack his hand, and think to ease himself, his boat goes faster down the stream than before it went up; so do our souls, when we think to ease ourselves by abating our pains in duty. Our time is short: our enemies mighty: our hinderances many : God seems yet at a distance from many of us : our, thoughts of him are dull, and strange, and unbelieving : our acquaintance and communion with Christ are small; and our desires to be with him are as small. And should men in our case stand still ?
b Ille certus est bonæ voluntatis profectus, si ea quæ accipit à Deo, ita vigilanter soliciteque custodiat, ut custodiæ divivæ adjutorium frequentia orationis et studio bonæ operationis expuscat. Ita fiet ut dum oranti auxilium tribuitur, laborans retributione boni operis non privetur.-Fulgentius de Ver. Præd. c. 17. Nemo est extra periculum malitiæ nisi qui totam eam excusit.-Senec, Epist, 75.
Quest. 9. What manner of men should they be in their diligence, whose lives and duties are of so great concernment to the saving or destroying of a multitude of souls? when, if we slip, so many are ready to stumble; and if we stumble, so many are ready to fall. If we pray hard for them, and admonish them daily, and faithfully, and plainly, and exhort them with bowels. of pity and love, and go before them in a holy, inoffensive conversation, it is twenty to one but we may be instruments of saving many of them from everlasting perdition, and bringing them to the possession of the inheritance with us : on the contrary, if we silently neglect them, or sinfully offend them, we may be occasions of their perpetual torment: and what a sad thought is that to an honest and merciful heart, that we may not destroy the souls for whom Christ died ! That we may not rob them of their everlasting happiness, and God of the praises that in heaven they would give him, what manner of persons should we be in our duties and examples !
Quest. 10. Lastly: What manner of persons should they be, on whom the glory of the great God doth so much depend ? Men will judge of the father by the children, and of the master by the servants. We bear his image ; and therefore men will measure him by his representation. He is nowhere in the world so lively represented as in his saints: and shall they set him forth as a patron of viciousness or idleness ! All the world is not capable of honouring or dishonouring God so much as we : and the least of this honour is of more worth than all our lives, I have harped all this while upon the apostle's string ; (2 Pet. iii. 11;) and now let me give it the last touch. Seeing, then, that all these things forementioned are so, I charge thee, that art a Christian, in my 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. VOL. XXII. .