Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

is easier to look singly on the saints' reward. When God hath no competitor, to whom else canst thou turn thy thoughts? when all others abuse thee, it is easier to have recourse to him. When earth will scarce afford thee any quiet habitation, thou wilt surely look to heaven for rest.

Thus much I thought meet to interpose here for the confirmation of the sincere, on occasion of the world's unjust accusations; and so to persuade them to be satisfied in the portion of the sincere. I now return again to the self-deceiver.

And here I shall conclude all with these two requests to you, which, as one that foreseeth the approaching misery of selfdeceivers, I earnestly entreat you, for the sake of your immortal

I souls, that you will not deny me. The first is, that you will be now but as willing to try yourselves, as I have been to help you ; and as diligent and faithful when you are alone, in calling your own hearts to a close examination, as I have been to hold the light here to you. O refuse not, delay not, to withdraw yourselves sometimes from the world, and set yourselves as before the

eye of God, and there bethink yourselves whether you have been what you have vowed and professed to be! And whether that God hath been dearest to your hearts, and obeyed in your lives, and desired as your happiness, who hath been confessed and honoured with your lips ? Consider therefore, that God judgeth not as man; nor will he think ever the better of you, for thinking well of yourselves. And that there must go more to prove your approbation with God, than commonly goes to keep up your reputation in the world. The religion that serveth to honour you before men, and to deceive yourselves, will never serve to please the Lord and save your souls. And the day is at hand when nothing but God can give you comfort, and when selfdeceivers will become, everlastingly, self-tormentors. Otherefore go willingly and presently to the word, to your lives, and hearts, and consciences, and try yourselves, and try again, and that with moderate suspicion, that in so great a business you may not be deceived, and be self-deceivers.

2. My second request is, that if you do discover, or but justly suspect yourselves of hypocrisy and self-deceit, you would stick there no longer, but presently change your vain religion, your seemings and formalities, for the power of godliness and sincerity of heart.

But I suppose that some of you will say, there'lies the difficulty. O that we could do it ! But how should it be done?

I answer : if thou really be willing to be above hypocrisy, and a vain religion, the cure is half wrought, at least; and I will not tire thee now with many, but help and try thee by these few, directions.

In general, be what thou hast promised and vowed to be, in thy baptism, and what thou still dost profess to be, a Christian, and it will serve thy turn : what that is, I have told you before.

More particularly. Direct. 1. Deliberately renew thy covenant with God: and with a grieved heart, bewailing that thou hast been a covenant-breaker, give up thyself presently to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; as thy Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, thy Owner, thy Ruler, and thy Father,

2. Renounce sincerely the devil, the world, and the flesh, and be at a point with all below; and quit all conceits and hopes of felicity, or rest, on earth: and absolutely devote and resign thyself, and all thou hast, to the will and service of thy Lord, without any secret exceptions or reserves. This is the property and plague of hypocrites, that secretly they have exceptions and reserves in giving up themselves to God. They will follow him, except it would disgrace them, or undo them, in the world ; he shall have all, provided the flesh may not be too much pinched. That is, in plain English, they take him not for God, but for a second to themselves and the world, and will give him but what the

flesh can spare.

3. Fix the eye of lively faith of God upon the everlasting joys, and there take up thy whole reward, and look for no other. Quit all expectations of a reward from men.

Let it seem a small thing to thee, what any mortal man shall think or speak of thee ; unless as God's honour or interest is concerned in thine. I have told you before, he is an hypocrite that will not be godly without the hypocrite's reward; and that can sail no further than he is moved by the wind of man's applause, or some other worldly end.

4. Stick not in any externals of religion, nor in notions and barren, ineffectual opinions. So far art thou religious, as thy soul is engaged unto God, and thy life employed for him ; and so far thou dost truly worship him as thy heart is drawn up to him in love, and as thou dost fear him, admire him, trust him, and take thy pleasure in him. Think not, that it is a saving religiousness, to be of such or such an opinion, or such a party, or such a church, or to say over so many words or prayers, or to keep a task of outward duties, or to be of a ready, voluble tongue, in preaching, prayer, or discourse, religion lieth in the heart and life.

5. Indulge not thyself in one known sin. Retain no gross or wilful sin.

Plead for no infirmity, but make it the business of thy life to extir pate the relics of the body of death. Be willing of the most searching word, and of the plainest reproof, and of the help thou canst get against so dangerous an enemy.

6. Stint not thyself in any low degree of holiness; but love, and long, and strive, after the highest. If thou bear a secret core of distaste against those that outgo thee, it is a mortal sign. Thou must be perfect in desire, or thou art not sincere.

7. Walk always as in the presence of the holy, dreadful, heart-searching God: remember that he seeth thy ends, thine affections, and all thy thoughts. Be the same, therefore, in secret as thou art in public; sincerely search the word of God, and know what it is that he would have, and that resolve on, if all the world should be against it. Unresolvedness is hypocrisy; and

? temporizing, or following the greater side, for the security of the fesh, is no better. Never think that thou canst be too holy or too obedient. But make it thy study to do God all the service that thou canst, whatever suffering or cost it put thee to. Be not ashamed openly to own the cause of Christ. In the presence of the greatest, remember that thy Master is so much the greater, that they are worms and vanity to him. Take heed of culling out the easy and cheap part of religion, and laying by the difficult and dear. Thy religion must be as the heart in thy breast, which is always working, and by which thou livest; which cannot stop long, but thou wilt die. But the hypocrite's religion is like the hat upon his head, for ornament and shelter from the weather, and not for life : in the night when none seeth him he can lie without it; and in the day he can put it off for the sake of a friend, and perhaps stand bare in the presence of a greater person that expecteth it. So can the hypocrite too often dispense with his religion.

8. Be hearty and serious in all thou doest. Hear, and read, and pray, as for thy life. Sincerity consisteth much in seriousness. Remember that thou art almost at another world! While I am speaking, and thou art hearing, we are both hastening to our endless state. O how should men live on earth, that must live here for so short a time, and must live for ever in heaven or hell! these things are true, and past all question: and there

fore, for your souls' sake, lose not heaven by trilling. Pray not in jest, and resist not sin in jest, lest you be damned in good sadness. When you are at work for eternity, it is time to do it with all your might. O what inconceivable mercies are now offered to you! O what an excellent price is in your hands! And nothing is so likely to deprive you of the benefit, as dreaming and dallying, when you should be up and doing; as if this were not your business, but your play; and salvation and damnation were matters of sport ! O do but set yourselves to the pleasing of God, and the saving of your souls with all your might, and ply it with diligence as your chiefest work, and then you are out of the danger of the hypocrite! But if still you will give the world the pre-eminence, and your flesh must be pleased, and your prosperity secured, and God must have but compliments, or the leavings, your misery is at hand, and vengeance shall undeceive those hearts that would not be undeceived by the word. And you shall remember, to the increase of your anguish, that you were told this day, that your seeming, trifling religion would prove vain. But I beseech you, as you are men, as you love your souls, dismiss us with some better hopes; and now resolve to be downright Christians. Which, as I have begged of you, I shall now beg of God.

« PoprzedniaDalej »