Page images
PDF
EPUB

for the time, we are fallen from it, and all that we have done fignifies nothing, and we have the whole work to begin again. And, if the judgment of God should overtake us, before we have renewed our repentance, and reformed our lives, we should be found in the number of the ungodly, who cannot stand in judgment, So that, as it concerns us to make haste out of an impenitent state, so no less order our conversation afterwards with great vigilancy and care; left, by relapsing into our former fins, and being surprized in them by the judgment of God, we fall into condemnation.

3. Let us neglect no opportunity of doing good, but always be employing ourselves, either in acts of religion and piety towards God, or of righteousness and charity towards men, or in such acts as are subordinate to religion : I mean, the works of a lawful calling, in which, if we demean ourselves with diligence and good conscience, we may be said to serve God, and to live in his fear, because we are governed by the rules of religion, all the while we are about our worldly business, and providing for the necessities of this life in an honest and industrious way.

More particularly, we should ftri&tly charge ourselves, according to our estate and opportunities, to be very much in the works of mercy and charity ; remembering, that our Saviour hath represented this as a special matter of enquiry at the judgment of the great day, how we have acquitted and discharged ourselves in duties of this kind, and that nothing does more immediately qualify us for the mercy of God, when we shall come to stand before his judgment-seat, than to have shewn mercy to our brethren; as, on the other hand, the scripture hath terribly threatened, that he Mall have judgment without mercy, that hath Mewed no mercy. By these, and all other acts of a good life, we shall be in a constant readiness and preparation for the coming of our Lord. And, oh, what a happiness and comfort will it be to us, to be found by him thus employed! Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, fall find so doing. I proceed,

We should often review our lives, and call our. 4. selves to a strict account of our actions, that, judging

selves

our

selves, we may not be judged, and condemned, by the Lord. This frequent examination of ourselves will give us to underkand our errors and miscarriages; which, if we seriously consider, must needs prompt us to repentance, and engage us in purposes and resolutions of amendment. And the practice of this is certainly the best way to keep our accounts clear, and to prevent that horrible confusion which we shall be in, if judgment should surprize us unawares, when we have the guilt of great and manifold fins unrepented of, lying upon our consciences like a heavy weight, ready to fink us into eternal perdition. Befides, that this strict and frequent examination of our actions will be an excellent means to make us more careful for the future to avoid those faults and miscarriages which we have observed in ourselves before. We should be alhanied lo fall into those errors again, for which we have so lately and severely censured and condemned ourselves.

3. Another part of our preparation for the coming of our Lord, is, an humble trust and confidence in the virtue of his death and paffion, as the only meritorious cause of the remiflion of our fins, and the reward of eternal life. Though we be regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghoft, and by the allistance of God's grace enabled to perform works of righteousness, and, as is said of Zachary and Elizabeth, to live in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; that is, in the general course of our lives, to yield a fincere obedience to the laws of God: yet, because in many things we offend, and our best righteousness is very imperfect, and falls extremely fhort of that exact and strie duty, which the law of God requires ; and if it were perfect, our obedience, for the future, could make no reparation to the justice of God for paft sins and transgreffions: therefore we cannot hope for our own righteousness to be justified and accepted with God, and, upon the merit of it, to have our fins pardoned, much less to be rewarded with eternal life. God, indeed, of his infinite mercy, is pleased, upon our repentance, to pardon our sins paft, and, upon our fincere obedience, to give us eternal life; and without thefe qualifications we Thall never be made' partakers of these blessings; except we repent, our lips-Thall not be forgiven us; and witho Vol. VIII.

N

out

for any

out holiness no 'man shall see the Lord. But then it is not for the merit of our repentance and righteousness, that these blessings are conferred upon us ; but for the meritorious obedience and sufferings of our blessed Saviour : That most acceptable sacrifice of himself, which he offered to God in our stead, and, in our behalf, hath purchased and procured these benefits for us; and we are accepted in his beloved Son, and justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Fefus Chrift; and therefore, not

works of righteousness which we have done, but of his mercy he saves us. And here we are to fix our hopes of justification and falvation, viz, upon that perfect propitiation and satisfaction which Chrift, by the sacrifice of himself once offered, hath made for the sins of the whole world. For the alone merit of this sacrifice, God is graciously pleased to forgive us all our fins, upon our true repentance, and to reward our fincere, though very imperfect obedience, with eternal life. So that through faith in the blood of Christ, not by confidence in ourselves and our own righteousness, we obtain remision of fins and eternal life. And it is not only in itfelf great arrogance, but great ingratitude, to our blessed Redeemer, who gave.

himself for us, to ascribe that to the merit of our own sighteousness, or the mérits of the saints, which nothing in heaven or earth, but the precious blood of Christ, who was a Lamb without spot or blemish, could have purchafed for us. And it is argument and encouragement enough to holiness and obedience of life, that without it we cannot see God; and by it we are qualified for that happiness which Chrift hath purchased for us, and, as the Apostle expresseth it, are made meet to be made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, • 6. And lastly, to awaken and maintain this vigilancy and care, we should often represent to our minds the judgment of the great day, which will certainly come, though we know not the time of it. And if any confideration in the world will make men watchful and diligent, certainly this will, that the judgment of God continually langs over m, and may seize upon them any time; nay, for 'ought we know, the judgment of God may now be standing at the door, and be ready to

rush in upon us, whilst we are so negligent and secure, For this day, whenever it shall be, will come suddenly, and surprize the careless world, when they least think of it, and look for it. So our Lord himself hath foretold, that as a fnare it shall come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth : that is, the greatest part of mankind shall be taken unprepared, when they are unprovided for it; nay, when they are generally lulled alleep in a stupid security and infidelity ; when the world is grown atheistical, and do hardly believe any such thing as a future judgment, - So our Saviour seems to intimate, Luke xviii. 8. When the Son of man cometh, mall he find faith upon earth? And if this be a mark and token of the general judgment,'

, we have too much cause to apprehend, that it is drawing on apáce :. for never was there any age since the general flood, that we know of, when iniquity did fo abound, and the infidelity of mankind was so full, so great, and so general ; when profaneness and atheifm, the open contempt of God and religion, was fo-raging and violent; and wherr, as our Lord says, there was so little faith to be found on the earth; whether. by faith we un. derstand the belief of the principles of religion, or the fidelity of men one towards another. For was there ever any age, wherein false accufation, 'perjury and fubornation were more rife and impudent; wherein the reverence of an oath was so loft, and the sacred obligation of it in so little regard among men? So that if the great Judge of the world should delay his coming, human fociety seems ready to disband and dissolve of itself, for want of mutual trust and confidence among men to hold it together

And this want' of faith, in both senses, we owe in a great measure to Popery, which by its ‘artificial' ways of fallhood and perjury (which, when they have to deal with hereticks, they have, upon solemn occasions, declared lawful) hath not only weakened, but even destroyed the crea dit of mankind with one another, as we find of late by fad experience. And as for infidelity in religion, they have not only given great occasion to its by the monstrous abfurdities they have brought into religion; and by overftraining the faith of men in some parts of it, have

N2

brought brought them to a disbelief of the whole; as is at this day too visible in many of the most knowing persons of their communion, both in France and Italy: but belides this, they have, in their writings, to gain men to a depen. dence upon, and submishon to the infallibility of their church, undermined the foundation of religion, and induftrioudy endeavoured to bring men to scepticism and infidelity; hoping, that when they have made men of no religion, they will be fit for theirs, which, in too many respects, is next to none; and in some worse.

But whether the judgment of the great day be near at. band, or farther off, God alone knows; this is certain, that God hath, in great mercy, delayed it for a long time, because he is not willing that any jould perish, but that all should conse to repentance. And it is no less certain, that it may come at any time, and will come when men. least expect it; when the world is in great security, and very little apprehensive of the nearness and danger of it ; which is reason and argument enough to continual care and vigilancy : for it may come the next hour, the next moment, for any thing we know to the contrary : and whenever it comes, if we be not prepared, it will be too Jace to begin that work; if our lamps he gone out, and we want oil, we cannot provide ourselves in such a hurry ; we shall be full of fear and amazement, but we shall find no place for repentance, and a deliberate preparation for our great

trial. As the great. Judge of the world then finds us, so will he deal with us; such as our ftate and condition then is, such will be our fentence and doom to all eternity. And is not this argument enough to us to: be always upon our guard, always watchful and always ready? because the Son of Man may come at an hour when we think not ; and if we be not then prepared, it will be too late to set about it ; the opportunity of doing it, and we ourselves, are loft for ever.

This is the first direction our Saviour gives us, continual vigilancy and watchfulness over ourselves in general.

The II, direction is more particular, and that is pray. er ; Take

ye heed, watch and pray. And the practice of this duty of prayer will be a great advantage to us upon. these two accounts,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »