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oubtedly were it, and dark or Pad
Sect. XXVII. I have been larger upon this use than at first I intended; partly because of the general neglect of heaven, that all sorts are guilty of; partly because men's salvation depends upon their present striving and seeking ;e partly because the doctrine of free grace, misunderstood, is lately so abused to the cherishing of sloth and security; partly because many eminent men of late do judge, that to work or labour for life and salvation, is mercenary, legal, and dangerous ; which doctrine, as I have said before, were it by the owners reduced into practice, would undoubtedly damn them; because they that seek bot shall not find, and they that strive not to enter shall be shut out, and they that laboúr not shall not be crowned ; and partly because it is grown the custom of this distracted age, instead of striving for the kingdom and contending for the faith, to strive with each other about uncertain controversies, and to contend about the circumstantials of the faith, wherein the kingdom of God doth no more consist than in meats or drinks, or questions about the law, or genealogies. Sirs, shall we, who are brethren, fall out by the way home, and spend so much of our time about the smaller matters which thousands have been saved without, but never any one saved by them, while Christ and our eternal rest are almost forgotten? The Lord pardon and heal the folly of his people,
The Third Use : persuading all Men to try their Title to this
Rest; and directing them how to try, that they may know.
SECT. I. I now proceed to the third use which we shall raise. hence; and because it is of very great importance to thy soul,
fc The fear of God is the begiuning of wisdom; but the law bringeth fears Therefore the knowledge of the law is the beginning of wisdom, and no man is wise without the law. They, therefore, that refuse the law are fools, and consequently atheists and ungodly. How then do some heretics say, that the law is evil, because Paul saith; * By the law is the knowledge of sin?" To whom i answer, The law did not make sin, but show it. Is not the law good when it teacheth and chastiseth, and is given as a schoolmaster to Christ ? that while we are guided by the fear of castigation, we may be code verted to the perfection, which is through Christ: Clemch. Alex. Stronel, lib. ii.
a Quocirca imprudenter faciunt qui durissima et tapadogórata primo propo-, nunt, &c. Vide Zuinglium De Verâ et Falsâ Relig. de Scandalo,' p. 403. Rom. xiv, 17; Tit. iii. 9; 1 Tim. i. 4, and vi. 5; Phil. ii. 14.
I entreat thee to read it the more diligently, and weigh it the more seriously. · Is there such a glorious rest so near at hand; and shall none enjoy it but the people of God? What mean the most of the world, then, to live so contentedly without assurance of their interest in this rest, and to neglect the trying of their title to it, when the Lord hath so fully opened the blessedness of that kingdom, which none but a little flock of obedient believers shall possess, and so fully expressed those torments which all the rest of the world must éternally suffer ? A man would think now, that they that believe this to be certainly true, should never be at any quiet in themselves till they knew which of these must be their own state, and were fully assured that they were heirs of the kingdom. Most men that I meet with, say, they believe this word of God to be true; how then can they sit still in such an utter uncertainty? One would think they should run up and down from minister to minister, inquiring, 'How shall I know whether I shall live in heaven or in hell ?' And that they should even think themselves half in hell, till they were sure to escape it, and to be possessed of rest. Lord, what a wonderful, strange madness is this, that men, who look daily when sickness summons them, and death calls them away, and know they must presently enter upon unchangeable joy or pain, should yet live as uncertain what should be their doom, as if they had never heard of any such state: yea, and live as quietly and as merrily in this uncertainty as if all were made sure, and nothing ailed them, and there were no danger! Are these men alive or dead? Are they waking, or are they asleep? What do they think on? Where are their hearts? If they have but a weighty suit at law, how careful are they to know whether it will go for them or against them! If they were to be tried for their lives at an earthly judicature, how careful would they be to know whether they should be saved or condemned, especially if their care might surely save them! If they be dangerously sick, they will inquire of the physician, “What think you, sir; shall I escape, or no ?' But for the business of their salvation, they are content to be uncertain. If you ask most men a reason of their hopes to be saved, they will say, 'It is because God is merciful, and Christ died for sinners; and the like general reasons, which any inan in the world may give as well as they: but put them to prove their special interest in Christ, and the special saving mercy of God, and they can say nothing to the purpose at all; or, at least, nothing out of their hearts and experience, but only out of their reading or invention. Men are desirous to know all things, save God and themselves : they will travel over sea and land to know the situation of countries, and customs of the world: they will go to schools and universities, and turn over multitudes of books, and read and study from year to year, to know the creatures, and to be expert in the sciences : they will go apprentice seven years to learn a trade, which they may live by here; and yet they never read the book of conscience, nor study the state of their own souls, that they may make sure of living for ever. If God should ask them for their souls, as he did Cain for his brother Abel, they could return but such an answer as he did. If God or man should say to them, “What case is thy soul in, man? Is it regenerate, and sanctified, and pardoned, or not? Is it in a state of life, or a state of death ?' He would be ready to say, 'I know not; am I my soul's keeper? I hope well, I trust God with my soul, and trouble not myself with any such thoughts ; I shall speed as well as other men do, and so I will put it to the venture; I thank God I never made any doubt of my salvation. Answ. Thou hast the more cause to doubt a great deal, because thou never didst doubt; and yet more because thou hast been so careless in thy confidence. What do these expressions discover, but a wilful neglect of thy own salvation? As a shipmaster that should let his vessel alone, and mind other matters, and say “ I will venture it among the rocks, and sands, and gulfs, and waves, and winds; I will never trouble myself to know whether it shall come safe to the harbour; I will trust God with it; it will speed as well as other men's vessels do.'e Indeed, as well as other men's that are as careless and idle, but not so well as other men's that are diligent and watchful. What horrible abuse of God is this, for men to pretend that they trust God with their souls only to cloak their own wilful negligence! If thou didst truly trust God, thou wouldst also be ruled by him, and trust him in that way which he hath apa pointed thee, and upon those terms on which he hath promised thee help.' He requires thee to give all diligence, to make thy calling and election sure, and so to trust him. (2 Pet. i. 10.) He hath lined thee out a way in Scripture, by which thou mayest come to be sure ; and charged thee to search and try thyself, till thou certainly know. Were he not a foolish traveller that would hold on his way when he doth not know whether it be right or wrong, and say, 'I hope I am right; I will not doubt of it; I will go on, and trust God?' Art not thou guilty of this folly in thy travels to eternity? Not considering that a little serious inquiry and trial, whether thy way be right, might save thee a great deal of labour which thou bestowest in vain, and must undo again, or else thou wilt miss of salvation, and undo thyself. If thou shouldst see a mạn in despair, or that were certain to he damned for ever when he is dead, wouldst thou not look upon such a man as a pitiful object? Why, thou that livest in wilful uncertainty, and dost not know whether thou shalt be saved or not, art in the next condition to such a person ; for aught thou knowest to the contrary, thy case hereafter may be as bad as his. I know not what thou thinkest of thy own state : but, for my part, did I not know what a desperate, blind, dead piece a carnal heart is, I should wonder how thou doest to forget thy misery, and to keep off continual terrors from thy heart; and especially in these cases following:
e It is not in external shape and figure that Christians differ from other men : as if they were like the world in mind and thought, in disturbance and instability, in credulity, confusion, and perturbation, and fears, wherewith the minds of all others are distempered, as some think they are. These (that so think) do differ themselves from the world but in opinion and outside, and some external good deeds; but in heart and mind being eutangled in earthly spares, they have not attained the divine rest, and heavenly peace, òf the Spirit in their hearts ; because they sought it not of God, nor approved them. selves worthy or meet for it.--Mucar. Hom. 5. Psal. 2-9; Heb. xii. 28, 29,
1. I wonder how thou canst either think or speak of the dreadful God, without exceeding terror and astonishment, as long as thou art uncertain whether he be thy father or thy enemy, and knowest not but all his attributes may be employed against thee. If his saints must rejoice before him with trembling, and serve him in fear; if they that are sure to receive the immoveable kingdom, must yet serve God“ with reverence and godly fear, because “he is a consuming fire; ” how then should the remembrance of him be terrible to them that know not but this fire may for ever consume them!
2. How dost thou think, without trembling, upon Jesus Christ, when thou knowest not whether his blood hath purged thy soul, or not; and whether he will condemn thee, or acquit thee in judgment; nor whether he be set for thy rising, or for thy fall; (Luke ii. 34;) nor whether he be the corner stone and foundation of thy happiness, or a stone of stumbling to break thee, and grind thee to powder? (Matt. xxi. 24.) Methinks thou shouldst still be in that tune, as Job xxxi. 23, “ Destruction from God is a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I cannot endure."
3. How canst thou open the Bible, and read a chapter, or hear a chapter read, but it should terrify thee? Methinks every leaf should be to thee as Belshazzar's writing upon the wall, except only that which draws thee to try and reform, (Dan. v. 5, 6.) If thou read the promises, thou knowest not whether ever they shall be fulfilled to thee, because thou art uncertain of thy performance of the condition. If thou read the threatenings, for any thing thou knowest, thou dost read thy own sentence. I do not wonder if thou art an enemy to plain preaching; and if thou say of it, and of the minister and Scripture itself, as Ahab of the prophet, “I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (1 Kings xxii. 8.)
4. I wonder how thou canst, without terror, approach God in prayer, or any duty. When thou callest him thy father, thou knowest not whether thou speak true or false, When thou needest him in thy sickness, or other extremity, thou knowest not whether thou hast a friend to go to, or an enemy. When thou receivest the sacrament, thou knowest not whether thou takest thy blessing or thy bane, And who would wilfully live such a life as this?
. 5. What comfort canst thou find in any thing which thou possessest? Methinks, friends, and honours, and houses, and lands, should do thee little good, till thou know that thou hast the love of God withal, and shalt have rest with him when thou leavest these. Offer to a prisoner, before he know his sentence, either music, or clothes, or lands, or preferment, and what cares he for any of these, till he know how he shall escape for his life? and then he will look after these comforts of life, and not before: for he knows if he must die the next day it will be small comfort to die rich or honourable. Methinks it should be so with thee, till thou know thine eternal state. Dost not thou, as Ezek. xii, 18, “eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy drink with trembling and carefulness ;” and say, 'Alas! though I have these to refresh my body now, yet I know not what I shall have hereafter?' Even when thou liest down to take thy rest, methinks the uncertainty of thy salvation should keep thee waking, or amaze thee in thy dreams, and trouble thy sleep; and thou shouldsť say, as Job in a smaller distress than thine, “ When I say, My bed shall comfort ine, my couch shall ease my complaint;